Cadeca Denies It Is Selling the US Dollar at 375 Cuban Pesos

While the price of the currency has fallen from 395 to 345 since May 9, the official rate remains at 120

Cadeca asked its clients not to trust unofficial statements about currency exchange rates / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 25, 2024 — Cuba’s network of currency Exchange Houses (Cadeca) denied this Friday that its branches will begin to sell US dollars at a rate of 1 for 375 pesos, instead of the rate of 120 currently in force. False information had circulated on social networks and alerted part of the population, forcing the state entity to clarify the situation.

“Any information received about our entity or its services from a source other than our official channels is totally false and unfounded,” Cadeca posted on its social networks.

The price of the dollar keeps the population tense due to its sudden drop to 345 pesos, according to El Toque, after having reached 395 on May 9. The fluctuation has occurred in the midst of a campaign to discredit El Toque in the official press, which accuses it of manipulating the exchange market at will and participating in a plot to provoke a social outbreak.

The euro and the freely convertible currency have also collapsed with the US currency

As Banco Metropolitano said on its social networks, the campaign – allegedly paid for by the US – aims to reach the bar of 400 pesos for one dollar on the third anniversary of the social outbreak of 11 July 2021. Along with the US currency, the euro and the freely convertible currency (MLC) have also plummeted, which are at 360 and 290 pesos respectively. continue reading

A similar drop occurred last September, when 14ymedio recorded a fall from 250 to 215 pesos. The swing did not last long, and soon the dollar regained its upward trend.

El Toque, a medium that publishes daily informal market rates, considers that the current decline in the dollar is a common “temporary correction” and believes that the restoration of Western Union remittances, which occurred precisely on May 9, could “influence the expectations, the so-called ’market sentiment’.”

According to a report recently published by the Observatory of Currencies and Finance of Cuba (OMFi), economist Pavel Vidal – the researcher of the tool created by El Toque – estimates that “a growing number of people have begun to consider that the price of foreign currencies “It was excessively high and chose to sell before a possible fall.”

For Vidal, the fluctuation is nothing more than a “temporary” decline, since problems persist in the Island’s economy

For Vidal, the fluctuation is nothing more than a “temporary” decline, since problems and distortions persist in the Island’s economy that do not allow the Cuban peso to recover. The high fiscal deficit, the high issuance of unbacked banknotes, the contraction of national production and exports, dependence on imports, dollarization, emigration and generalized inflation (32.3% year-on-year this April), are some of the conditions that make it impossible to contain the depreciation of the national currency.

In addition to the crisis that Cuban banks face due to the lack of liquidity, both in foreign currency and pesos, they now also have to worry about external factors that not only worsen their management, but also worsen their attention to the population. This Friday, the Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA) of Sancti Spíritus published a note in which it warned that as of May 25, “BPA branches throughout the province will not serve customers on Saturdays.” The cause: “The electrical problems that are affecting the country.”

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

Cuban ’11J’ Political Prisoner Suffers From Peritonitis Due to Medical Malpractice in Jail

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva has an extra-penal leave of one year

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva / Facebook

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2024 — Political prisoner Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva, sentenced to eight years in prison for sedition for demonstrating on 11 July 2021, has denounced medical negligence and an outbreak of tuberculosis in prison 1580 in the Havana municipality of San Miguel del Padrón.

At the moment, the young man, who will turn 22 on May 28, has an extra-penal leave of one year, after having to undergo surgery for peritonitis. According to Martí Noticias he reported, “from April 24 to May 4 I was not able to go to the bathroom and they had to operate on me because my appendix burst and I had peritonitis due to poor medical care.”

“From April 24 to May 4 I was not able to go to the bathroom and they had to operate on me because my appendix burst”

He suffered from severe pain in the abdomen for 10 days, was unable to defecate and had a high fever. It was then that the prison commanders transferred him to the Salvador Allende General Hospital, where he arrived with a burst appendix and a severe infection.

Despite having received several blood transfusions, he now needs vitamins, ferrous fumarate and folic acid, which are out of reach due to the shortage of medicines on the island. continue reading

Despite having received several blood transfusions, he now needs vitamins, ferrous fumarate and folic acid, which are out of reach due to the shortage of medicines on the island

“Inmates fall ill and have no medicine. I survived, but I could have died and some did not survive because of poor care and poor hygiene,” said Sayú Silva.

Likewise, the doctors who are treating him are investigating if he also has extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, although the tests that were performed on him are not yet ready.

The young man said that in prison 1580 there is an outbreak of that disease and that some companies are in quarantine, and he related the death of his compañero Luis Barrios, who died because of unspecified respiratory problems, which led to advanced pneumonia due to lack of necessary medical attention.

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva was arrested after participating in the ’11J’ demonstrations in La Güinera

“The July 11 prisoner who passed away had tuberculosis. He was left for several days. None of the guards gave him medical attention. He got worse and died, but all the prisoners knew that he died of tuberculosis, because that same company had been isolated due to tuberculosis for a few months. I’m sure they told the family something else,” he insisted.

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva was arrested after participating in the ’11J’ demonstrations in La Güinera, one of Havana’s neighborhoods against which the regime’s repression was most vicious. The only death recognized by the authorities occurred there on July 12th, when a person was shot in the back by a police officer.

Translated by LAR

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

Cuba’s Independent Press Defeats the Regime’s Journalism

These last ten years have been a great loss for the dictatorship, whose moral bankruptcy has been exposed by the independent media.

The Cuban journalist became ‘mediatized’ and morphed into a spokesperson for official slogans, like Froilán Arencibia / Cuban Television

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 24 May 2024 — Castro’s populism, as soon as it came to power, broke the numerous fundamental components of a free society, among them the right to life and to freedom of expression and information.

Parallel to the executions, the newspapers accused of being close to the deposed regime of Fulgencio Batista — Alerta, Pueblo, Ataja and Tiempo — were looted and expropriated. They were then handed over to supporters of the Castros to become spokespersons for the new oficialismo, as in the cases of Combate y Revolución, the latter under the command of Carlos Franqui, with its six-inch headlines demanding al paredón (‘to the [execution] wall’).

Twelve months later, on January 25, editions of the Diario de la Marina, copies of the Prensa Libre newspapers, and the magazines Life, Times, and Selections of Reader’s Digest were burned in the Cuban capital. In May, with there no longer being a free press in Cuba, an event took place that showed the degree of servility of a sector of society, which ordered the symbolic burial of the Diario de la Marina, dean of the national press.

In Cuba, not only was freedom of the press eliminated, but the media that honored it were extinguished. No republican newspaper survived Castroism, neither in name nor in informative quality. continue reading

No republican newspaper survived Castroism, neither in name nor in informative quality

The information media – press, radio and television – were placed at the service of tyranny, becoming a reflection of the pharaonic dreams of the Castro brothers and transmitters of aberrant government slogans.

Journalism became – sometimes with the complicit participation of many communicators, due to self-censorship or their dedication to the regime – an objective to be destroyed in order to impose the totalitarian system in gestation with greater impunity.

Because of these painful realities, I consider it important to highlight the work carried out by Cuban independent journalists, who for decades – and with limited means – have risked their lives and precarious freedoms to report on the institutional violation of citizens’ rights. They have been willing to confront the criminal actions of Castro’s absolutism, as the newspaper 14ymedio has done over the last 10 years.

Cuban independent journalists and the few media outlets that have served in this task during these long six decades have carved out a niche of honor, both for the courage shown to endure repression and for the quality and fairness of their reporting.

For decades, only doctrinal journalism existed on the Island, absent of any criticism or questioning of government action; closed to any information or analysis that the authority could consider an attack on its interests.

For decades, on the Island there was only doctrinal journalism, absent of any criticism or questioning of government of government action

The Cuban journalist was ‘mediatized’. He became a spokesperson for official slogans. He became a singer of achievements – real or supposed – of the ruling class. His judgment was subject to political correctness. The information, the story of an event, became a chronicle of what was convenient for the authority and for the journalist who strove not to be repressed and to keep his job before a single owner: the party-state.

This situation, which was evolving into a positive change, took a radical turn when 14ymedio came to light with extreme modesty. Many of us did not realize this milestone that occurred within Cuba at a time when the country began a process of readjustment as a consequence of the exhaustion of totalitarianism.

These last 10 years have been a time of great loss for the dictatorship. It is true that they still hold power, but they are in complete moral and material bankruptcy.

Transitioning from the charismatic totalitarianism of Fidel Castro to the military absolutism of Raúl and, finally, to the bureaucratic totalitarianism represented and led by the inept Miguel Diaz-Canel have left a contrastable evidence: the regime finds itself at a crossroads that can be deadly to its survival.

This decade within the darkness reveals lights of change. The population has shown its disenchantment in the most important popular protests since January 1, 1959; the prisons incarcerate more than 1,000 pro-democracy activists; and the regime intends to reinvent itself by establishing economic practices contrary to its essence. These events have been fittingly covered by 14ymedio and other independent journalists.

From a distance, but with admiration and respect, on this anniversary of 14ymedio, I dedicate this phrase by Jose Martí that accurately reflects my feelings: “Only those who know about journalism and the cost of selflessness can truly estimate the energy, the tenacity, the sacrifices, the prudence, the strength of character revealed by the appearance of an honest and free newspaper.”

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

Ailex Marcano, Mother of one of the 11J Prisoners in Camagüey, Leaves Cuba

“Goodbye, and we continue in the fight for the freedom of our children and all political prisoners,” said the activist in a farewell audio.

Ailex Marcano is one of the most active of the “11J mothers” in the fight for the freedom of imprisoned protesters / Facebook/Ailex Marcano

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 42, 2024 — “I am going to continue fighting from the land of freedom for the freedom of everyone, each and every one.” With those words Ailex Marcano Fabelo, mother of the political prisoner Ángel Jesús Véliz, said goodbye to her loved ones in an audio recording, upon leaving the Island this Thursday.

Martha Beatriz Roque, director of the Cuban Center for Human Rights (CCDH), received a message confirming the departure of Marcano Fabelo but has no further details of her departure. “Goodbye, and we continue in the fight for the freedom of our children and all political prisoners,” was another of the phrases that she dedicated to them in her message.

Ailex Marcano is one of the 11J mothers most active in the fight for the freedom of imprisoned protesters and, therefore, most harassed by State Security.

In May 2022, she was one of the family members who was in Madrid and Geneva, invited by the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, to denounce the situation of political prisoners before the Spanish press and the UN. Upon her return to the Island, the authorities subjected her to an interrogation for three hours and confiscated 3,000 pesos (for exceeding the limit of 2,000, then in force). continue reading

Marcano was one of the signatories, last March, of the ‘Declaration of Camagüey’

Since then, the harassment by the political police has not stopped. On April 27, she was arrested when she was on her way to visit her son at the Kilo 9 maximum security prison, in Camagüey, where she is serving a six-year sentence for participating in the massive protests on 11 July 2021.

“He has suffered a lot of torture by the political police, which has led him to a mental imbalance, sometimes emotional, and to commit acts, demonstrating against the dictatorship there inside the prison,” she declared in an interview with CubaNet published on May 8th. “That is why they have always denied progress to another regime of minimum severity.”

During that April arrest, the agents took her to Villa María Luisa, the State Security headquarters in the province, where she underwent interrogations and a search for which they forced her to undress. “They threatened to send me to prison because they said that my publications on social networks incited people to take to the streets and for collaborating with ’counterrevolutionary’ organizations such as the Ladies in White. They wanted to make me sign a warning letter, but I refused to do so,” she also told CubaNet.

Marcano was not able to see her son, who was taken to an isolation cell for protesting against his mother’s arrest and his calls were prohibited.

Together with the journalists Henry Constantín and José Luis Tan Estrada, the activists Madelyn Sardiñas and Bárbaro de Céspedes and the actress Iris Mariño, Marcano signed, on March 21, a declaration that included “six steps to save Cuba.” The text, an initiative of the Camagüey-based independent media La Hora de Cuba, included among those steps respect for peaceful demonstrations, the release of political prisoners and the “immediate” call for open and multi-party elections.

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

Without Russian Oil and With Less From Venezuela, the Lines Return to Cuba’s Gas Stations

At the gas station on 17th and L, the line had to be split on both sides of the street / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, May 23, 2024 — For three days, the lines have returned to the gas stations in Havana, where vehicles once again occupy more than five blocks, in an image that has not been seen for months .

This Thursday, in two of the normally busiest establishments in El Vedado, 25 and G, and 17 and L, the panorama was similar. The kilometre-long line at 25th and G was, according to the driver of an almendrón, “just like in the old days”: he went down G, turned onto 23rd and then continued on F for several more blocks. At 17th and L, the line had to be split between both sides of the street.

El Tángana, another of the usually well-stocked service centers, was also bustling with waiting customers. It was in vain, however, because there was no fuel in the morning hours.

At the Infanta and San Rafael gas stations, the cars were also divided into two lines, one for each street / 14ymedio

As for Centro Habana, at the Infanta and San Rafael gas stations, the cars were also divided into two lines: one up San Rafael that almost reached the Calixto García hospital and another along Infanta that turned onto Zanja Street. continue reading

The owner of a motorcycle, who had obtained gasoline in a plastic container and was filling his vehicle near Infanta, indicated the obvious diagnosis: “There is no fuel.”

The situation could be seen coming since the release, at the beginning of the month, of the monthly Reuters report on Venezuelan oil exports.

Although the British agency does not reveal the exact amount that Caracas sends to Havana, from ship monitoring, University of Texas researcher Jorge Piñón calculates that the Island received, in three tankers, a total load of about 840,000 barrels of oil. This represents 28,000 barrels per day (bpd), a considerable drop compared to the monthly average of the previous year, when Cuba received 57,000 bpd.

The owner of a motorcycle, who had obtained gasoline in a plastic container, expressed the obvious diagnosis: “There is no fuel” / 14ymedio

According to Reuters, Venezuelan exports in April fell 38% compared to March – which had already registered a sharp decline – after Washington’s partial reestablishment of sanctions on the Nicolás Maduro regime.

For months, this newspaper has been tracking the movement of the María Cristina, the Petion and the Alicia — the three ships that also arrived in April — whose routes between the Venezuelan and Cuban port terminals are constant. Regarding another well-known ship, the Eco Fleet – which in mid-April, after spending weeks in Cuban territorial waters without unloading the 40,000 tons of diesel it brought from Tunisia, left for Jamaica – Piñón stated to 14ymedio at the beginning of May that it was back on the coast of the Island, in front of the Cuban capital.

In April, the team of researchers led by Piñón did not detect any Russian ships entering Cuban ports, which may explain the current fuel shortage. Donations from not only Venezuela and Russia, but also from Mexico, are clearly insufficient to help the Island get out of its almost permanent energy crisis.

The long line at El Tángana was in vain: there was no fuel today / 14ymedio

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

Cuba’s Foreign Currency Store Prices Are Prohibitive for the Majority of the People of Matanzas

While some people enter stores to see what’s there, others beg for alms to survive / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Julio César Contreras, Matanzas, May 12, 2024 — The idea that stores that only take payment in freely convertible currency (MLC) were created to supply markets in pesos is a mantra that Valeria repeats, ironically, when she enters one of those stores in Matanzas. The half-empty showcases, the labels with unthinkable prices and the beggar who sleeps in the doorway makes one doubt whether to enter or not. But in a country without supplies, which move in dollars, there is no other option.

“Honestly, I can come and shop from time to time because my son sends me some money from the United States. If that weren’t the case, I would have to settle for looking into the windows from the street of the many stores that have opened, most of them where locals can’t even enter,” Valeria tells 14ymedio . According to the woman from Matanzas, in the city foreign currency businesses proliferate “as if they were hotels” although there is no merchandise or clients with pockets deep enough to allow themselves to be a regular at these establishments.

This store, located in the old Ten Cent on Medio Street, remains much of the time without customers purchasing products at MLC / 14ymedio

“My nephew, who works as an architect, has told me that many projects have been stopped because the place they imagined was going to be used for cultural presentations or social enjoyment becomes a store in MLC. The very corner of Ayón Street, where we all thought they were going to open a cultural center, from one day to the next they surprised us with another of these stores,” she laments. continue reading

For those who do have the currency, finding what they are looking for is not an easy task either. “These businesses always have problems supplying themselves and many times we receive products that no one is going to buy because of their high prices or because they are not to the taste of Cubans,” explains the manager of one of these stores. “I myself get tired of asking for replacement of out-of-stock products and I don’t receive any effective response. So, what we do is fill the shelves with the same products so that the room doesn’t look empty,” he says.

The stores in MLC are within the reach of the minority of the town, whose income does not allow them to purchase the products sold in said stores / 14ymedio

“Not too many people come either – those who have family abroad who send them remittances and those who get dollars on the street to buy a specific item – so many times the most expensive products stagnate,” he adds. “Look at this four-burner stove with an oven, how good it is, but it costs 395 MLC. Even changing an entire year’s salary into dollars is not enough to buy it.”

Shortages are is part of the stores in MLC / 14ymedio

“To make matters worse, with normal purchases you also have to be careful and look at the receipt. Several times I have had to complain to the clerks who charged me more than the product is worth,” he adds. Another common trick is the sale, “on the left,” of appliances in high demand, such as refrigerators, freezers , microwaves and air conditioning consoles. “I have been on a list in the store for two months to buy a refrigerator, which is also very expensive, and they have been re-supplied twice and I still have not been able to buy it,” summarizes Antonio, who is trying to purchase the equipment for his daughter.

“The thing is, if 15 kits come, the store sells five to people and the other 10 are sent to friends or people who pay them with money or favors for their refrigerator. At this rate I’m going to die before I can buy it,” he says.

Lining up to enter the cafeteria located in the store on Ayón Street. It is the only space in the establishment that sells products in pesos / 14ymedio

Part of these appliances end up being sold through black market networks, at higher prices, often in cash in dollars, although with the advantage of transportation to the customer’s home. Informal merchants also accept payments through a wide range of channels, including some such as Zelle from the United States or Bizum from Spain.

For their part, the workers of these businesses report that they also have their own set of problems. “In addition to controlling customers who gather furiously when a requested product arrives or receiving complaints and insults from others due to shortages – which is not our fault – the portals of MLC stores have become places frequented by beggars,” says Miriam, who has worked for 12 years as a salesperson, first at a Panamericana and now at a local currency store in the Caribe chain.

The stores in MLC have also become points of sale for basic family basket products, such as the long-awaited packages of chicken or the, now missing from the rationed market, bottles of oil / 14ymedio

To this we must add that card payment has almost completely eliminated the tip that state store employees received when people paid in cash and the convertible peso was still in circulation. Now, in many of these stores in MLC, workers have placed a box with bills in national currency to suggest to customers that they can leave some money, but the generosity of the buyers is scarce.

“I feel very sorry for the people who come to ask for alms, but here they have us, who, no matter what we sell, we earn the same: a pittance,” she explains. Miriam particularly remembers an old woman who often settled in the doorway of her business. “She told us that she had to beg because she had no pension and she needed to buy food for her daughter who was sick with nerves. That day I helped her with what I could, but life doesn’t give much more. Better or worse, almost everyone who comes to this store – whether for what it costs or for what they can’t find – is to be pitied.”

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

Cuba Imported Nine Times More Chicken Meat From the US in March Than the State Produced in 2022

The tons purchased in the first quarter of 2024 are double the total annual production of the Island

Arrival of American chicken at the El Vedado Youth Labor Army market in Havana. / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 10 May 2024 — “The tons imported from the US in the first quarter of 2024 double the total annual production of chicken meat in Cuba.” This devastating phrase was posted by the economist Pedro Monreal this Thursday in his X account. The expert, who contributes monthly figures for the purchases of this bird’s meat by the State and the private sector, does not stop there and leaves another clarifying fact about the situation of food insecurity in Cuba. “The amount is almost nine times greater than the annual production of national poultry companies,” according to the most recent data, from 2022, he adds.

In fact, Cuba produced 37,200 tons of chicken meat throughout that year, half of the amount imported from the United States in the first three months of 2024. This March, 26,413 tons of the product arrived from the neighboring country, 62% more than in February, when the quantity was 16,244 tons. In January, 30,678 tons were purchased, the largest amount so far this year, placing the quarterly total at 73,335.

If we look only at the state sector, the situation is even worse. In 2022, the regime’s companies produced only 8,200 tons, a number – as the expert points out in his tweet – one-ninth of that imported until April 2024 to be marketed by both State entities and cooperatives or MSMEs. These numbers put the finishing touch to those that were known this Tuesday from the manufacturing industry , which reveal a drop in the production of processed foods of 67% in the last five years and leave very serious figures, such as the 90% collapse in the production of rice or 91% in pork.

This March, a kilogram of chicken imported from the US had a cost of $1.11 US, which represents a decrease of 8% compared to February, when the price was $1.21 dollars. However, the strong increase in purchase volume meant that spending grew by 49.22% compared to that month. While 19.7 million dollars were invested in February, in the third month of the year the expenditure was 29.42 million dollars. continue reading

Thus, January volumes are relatively recovered, which left the sixth highest historical value since records exist, that is, 2002.

The data comes a few days after the figures for imported vehicles were revealed, also from the US. According to the Cuba-US Economic and Commercial Council (CubaTrade), between 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, sales amounted to 20 million dollars, mostly in used cars. So far this year, Cubans have spent more than 13.5 million dollars on the acquisition of these cars, while in 2023 the amount exceeded 4.3 million.

This business, authorized by Joe Biden’s administration in 2023, is experiencing a strong boom; just between January and February of this year the growth was 65%, notes economist Eloy Vieira. As this newspaper published last April, there is a ship, the Linda , that makes regular trips between Miami and Mariel loaded with these vehicles. As of April 1st, the ship had traveled to the Island 21 times, being one of the few that has no problems reaching port, since the money is provided by individuals.

Other data provided by this organization are total food imports, which in March were valued at 40,624,058 dollars, compared to 20,475,934 the previous year, that is, 98.3% more.

The majority of what is imported is, again, chicken, 73% of the total. Pork (3.4%), powdered milk (3.1%) and coffee (1.4%) follow far behind. Other products purchased in smaller amounts are yogurt, eggs, apples, spices, wheat, rice, corn, olive and palm oil. Also included are herring, beet sugar, honey (while the State exports 90% of the honey it produces), along with cookies, beer, salt, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, tires, cellulose and various types of tools.

Despite the embargo, the United States authorized exportsto Cuba worth $7.3 billion in food and medicine since exemptions began to be granted in 2001.

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

Díaz Canel’s Ten Lies

Ignacio Ramonet and Miguel Díaz-Canel during an interview which took place on May 11 at the Palace of the Revolution.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 21 May 2024 — Some Cubans have dubbed Ignacio Ramonet the “French Randy Alonso,” a reference to the host of the Cuban TV interview show “Roundtable” and his sagging face. The truth is that Ramonet was born in Spain, raised in Morocco and educated in France, where he has lived for years. The sociologist has made good use of his status as a European intellectual to land a seat at the kitchen tables of Latin America’s dictatorships. His French passport and résumé have allowed him to cozy up with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and their heirs. No matter how undemocratic or repressive a regime might be, Ramonet manages to plant his flag there. Acting on behalf of the rubes of the contemporary feudal left, he is a colonizer of thought.

Ramonet’s recent interview with Raúl Castro’s hand-picked successor was rife with excuses and omissions. The Cuban bureaucrat recited the well-worn script without contributing a single new idea. What was most insulting, however, were his lies. After enduring almost two hours of an exchange that seemed more like a self-help session, I have summarized ten of the most outrages falsehoods.

1. 2030 Will Be Better

Cubans are sick of hearing that this year was bad but next year will be better. We heard it repeated, December after December, by the former economics minister, Alejandro Gil, whom the Cuban president avoided talking about during his complacent chat with Ramonet. Now we learn Díaz-Canel is postponing this idyllic future until 2030, with promises of renewable energy, a digitalized society and food security. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to predict what the speech in December 2030 will be if this bumbling and cynical regime is still in power.

2. The Anniversary Tour

When asked by Ramonet about his recent trip to Moscow, Díaz-Canel described it as “an anniversary tour.” He did a quick calculation and immediately went into a juggling act, trying explain away the gaffe. The fact is that he and his wife, Liz Cuesta, are celebrating their fifteenth wedding anniversary this year. The first lady does not accompany him on domestic tours but she is the first to sign up for every international trip the appointed president makes. Evidently, Moscow was her anniversary gift.

3. Cuba’s Role in the Putin Alliance

It is obvious from his response, however, what specific role Cuba plays for Putin. It is useful enough as pawn to be invited to the victory parade but not so useful as to attend the inauguration. For such solemn domestic occasions Putin prefers the company of others. Like Steven Seagal for example.

4. The BRICS* “Alternative”

Alternative is a difficult word to pronounce but what fascinates Díaz-Canel is not BRICS’ potential to foster development in its member states but rather the threat it represents to American hegemony and the dollar. It is not about what it can contribute but rather how it can stick it to the regime’s longtime enemy. No matter how “inclusive” BRICS may seem, continue reading

there is nothing to indicate it is ready to shoulder a ruined economy like Cuba’s.

5. Creative Resistance

When Díaz-Canel and his retinue visit the hinterlands, they do not allow local officials to use the U.S. embargo as justification for their shortcomings. What is required down in the trenches is “creative resistance,” pure and simple. When it is their turn to take responsibility, however, they never hesitate to whip out the ever-handy “blockade” umbrella. The word was mentioned about forty times in this interview alone. The basic message boils down to this: I can use the blockade as an excuse but you may not.

6. A Tighter “Blockade”

There are people in this world who truly believe that a fleet of American ships is encircling Cuba, preventing deliveries of food and medicine to the island. With all the talk about the “blockade,” not even Cubans themselves fully understand the implications of the embargo. That is why they are surprised when they see the “Made in USA” label on the packages of chicken they consume. What Díaz-Canel did not say is that the United States continues to be one of Cuba’s main trading partners according to data provided by the country’s National Office of Statistics and Information.

In terms of trade volume with Cuba, the superpower to the north ranks fourth among countries in the Americas and eighth globally. Not only did this commercial activity not fall in 2019, it actually grew to more than 308 million dollars. In 2022, the U.S. embargo was tightened so much that the figure grew to more than 391 million dollars.

What Díaz-Canel never mentioned was the disastrous implementation of Cuba’s currency unification rollout and its direct relationship to the subsequent inflation and general deterioration of the Cuban economy.

7. Social Justice

Díaz-Canel and his troops like to champion flashy reform measure and want to eliminate of freebies and subsidies. While there is a lack of resources for investments in healthcare and education, it is no secret that they find creative ways to fund hotel construction. Publicly, they often use demagogic terms like “social justice” but in the 2023 “Projections of Cuban Communist Party Central Committee” the phrase was conspicuous in its absence. Instead, they preferred to talk about “vulnerability” and reducing expenses without daring to mention the word “poverty.”

8. Management of the Pandemic

Raúl’s appointee does not know how to pronounce the word “epidemiology” yet still insists on boasting about his success at fighting COVID-19. He intentionally ignores the fact that the country closed its borders quite late in the pandemic. This was after claiming that the virus could not survive the Caribbean sun. He also intentionally avoids mentioning that, in 2021, there were 55,000 more deaths in Cuba than in the previous year though authorities claim only 8,500 died from coronavirus. And he intentionally hides the fact that the gross mortality rate that year was 14.68 per thousand inhabitants, much worse than rates in the United States, Brazil, and even Haiti.

9. The Right to Protest

The first to lie was Ramonet, claiming that, while the 11 July 2021 protests were unusual, they were not massive. What is undeniable, however, is that not even during the Machado and Batista regimes was there ever such a large outpouring of public discontent as occurred on “11J.” But Díaz-Canel raised the bar for cynicism by claiming that this was also the result of the “blockade,” adding that protest was a respected right, even if protestors were demonstrating against the Revolution.

Díaz-Canel’s lie is contradicted by the Archipelago initiative and the ill-fated Civic March, which was scheduled for November 2021. Even asking for permission two months in advance, and strictly meeting all requirements needed to hold a demonstration, were not enough. Instead , we were met with direct threats from the military, acts of repudiation, persecution, political repression and exile.

There are over a thousand political prisoners in Cuba, the most in the region. Hundreds of people have been sentenced merely for taping protests or defending themselves against brutal crackdowns during which shots were fired. In one instance, a young man died after being shot in the back.

10. Sitting Down with Biden

Lastly, this Castro figurehead announced that he is willing to talk with Biden even though throughout the interview he described the U.S. government as arrogant, stubborn and corrupt. He also stated that the purpose of this negotiation would be to end sanctions while stipulating that Cuba would not make a single concession. His facial expression betrayed a visceral hatred towards those he called perverts as well as towards the Cuban exile community living in the United States.

This time, Díaz-Canel did not play his usual hand. He didn’t need to. Ramonet was his teleprompter, continually nodding, completing his sentences and generally being extremely accommodating. This time, Ramonet was his card.

*Translator’s note: An acronym for a group of emerging market countries that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. It seeks to deepen ties between member states and foster economic cooperation and expansion. Its goal is to serve as a counterbalance to traditional Western influence.

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

12 Historical Moments Reported Live by ’14ymedio’

The 14ymedio Editorial Team considers July 11, 2021 to be the most notable moment we have covered as a media outlet. / Facebook
1. The Announcement of the “Thaw”
Telephone conversation between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro released by the White House to illustrate the beginning of the ‘thaw’. / White House
2. Reopening of Embassies

The next step to the thaw, as logical as it was historic, was the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana. It was in the summer of 2015, under an inclement sun and in two events that brought together officials in the United States and curious people in Cuba. The Cuban flag was raised in July, in the presence of the Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, who thanked Obama for his call to Congress to eliminate the embargo laws. A month later, it was the turn of the headquarters in the capital of the Island, with the presence of Secretary of State John Kerry. 14ymedio, stationed at the entrance, also reported the event in a live-stream.

The Cuban flag flew again at its diplomatic headquarters in Washington, after a solemn ceremony led by the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, and attended by more than 500 guests. / 14ymedio
3. Obama’s Visit to Cuba

The first visit by a US president to Cuba in almost a century, in March 2016, deserved a great display: a challenge for a small newspaper like 14ymedio which, however, did not miss the event with a wide variety of pieces. We created photographic galleries with the preparations for the visit; we went out among the Havana residents, armed with their stars and stripes flags, to ask their opinions; we had expert analysis and we published — with the support of international agencies — all the information about official acts. In addition, one of our collaborators, Miriam Celaya, was among those attending the meeting of the American president with civil society. That trip left a photo for history: that of a smiling Raúl Castro raising Obama’s reluctant arm.

Raul Castro tried to photograph himself raising Obama’s arm, who was resisting, smiling, but visibly uncomfortable. / EFE
4. The Massive Rolling Stones Concert

The most powerful Western leader in the world had barely left when their satanic majesties took over. The Rolling Stones concert in Havana, on March 25, 2016, brought together almost 1.2 million attendees if we add the continue reading

700,000 who got into the area set up in the Ciudad Deportiva and another 500,000 who watched it from the outskirts. There was a thirst for a group banned by the Revolution and the band delivered from the first “good night, my people from Cuba” pronounced by Mick Jagger who, as always, gave his all during the two-hour performance. There is even a film about the event, Havana Moon.

The audience during The Rolling Stones concert. / 14ymedio
5. The Death of Fidel Castro

The night of November 25, 2016 in Havana, early morning in Madrid. The two newsrooms of 14ymedio coordinate to provide uninterrupted follow-up to one of the most anticipated news stories, for different reasons, in the entire world. This newspaper opted for a headline that was as simple as it was direct and forceful at that time: Fidel Castro is dead. The leader of the Cuban Revolution, the megalomaniacal leader who turned the Island into a great prison, was gone forever. In the midst of control, repression and surveillance, we followed the delegation that toured the Island to begin a new era in Cuba. Life without Fidel.

Funeral procession with the remains of Fidel Castro on his journey to Santiago. / EFE
6. The Arrival of Mobile Internet

In 2018 another milestone occurred in modern Cuba. When the world had been surfing the Internet with their cell phones for more than a decade, Cubans were finally able to use that service starting December 6 and, like almost everything, the process was slow. The first lucky ones were those who had a number starting with 52 and 53; then those with

The mobile internet service has been imperfect and suffers from censorship, but it has changed the lives of Cubans. / EFE
7. The Covid-19 Crisis

At a dizzying speed, the world went from observing atypical pneumonia in China to having to barricade themselves in their homes to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The first pandemic in a century came to light in Cuba on Friday, 28 March 2020, when the first death on the Island and the first local contagion were learned of, after days of surveillance of some tourists who arrived with the virus. A time began that seemed endless: with empty establishments, closed streets, mandatory use of masks and great, very great fear of getting sick on an island full of shortages when the ravages of the disease could be seen in rich countries. It was a very intense information scenario, where the difficulty in reporting was proportional to the need to do so, but in it we discovered outbreaks that the authorities did not want to reveal, cemeteries without space for the dead, and government emergency measures that did not give adequate results.  In addition, we had to become experts in the vaccines and validation methods of the WHO, which still has not approved any of the Cuban vaccines that we all received.

The pandemic accustomed the population to seeing images like these as normal. / Screen capture
8. The End of the CUC, the “Cuban Convertible Peso”
Monetary duality in Cuba became law on August 13, 1993, at the most critical moments of the Special Period. / 14ymedio

“The CUC has died and it died young, like Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin, just 27 years old,” wrote our collaborator Carla Gloria Colomé, possibly the best epitaph that the currency could ever dream of, after being invented by Fidel Castro in 1994 to raise dollars during the deep crisis of the Special Period. The false currency, as the song says, created two countries or two social classes for the first time since 1959 on the Island. In January 2021, the Ordering Task decreed the death of the CUC in an attempt to recover the preeminence of the national currency. Thousands of Cubans lost their savings in that operation, which also caused a brutal depreciation of the Cuban peso. The US dollar reigns and its price has gone from 24 pesos to around 400 in the last three years.

9. The Awakening of ’11J’ (11 July 2021)

It was a Sunday in July as normal as it was hot, but it became the historic day for Cuban democracy in this 21st century, that of the ’11J Protests’. Our Editorial Team lived the day between the earthquake of videos on social networks and the uproar in the streets, where two of our reporters walked as much as they could alongside the protesters. Shortly after, the complete blackout with internet outages forced us to resort to traditional methods of communication with our colleagues in the field. Emotion and hope were followed by fear and repression. The consequences of those demonstrations continue to accompany us since then, from the trials with long prison sentences, for the families, broken and harassed, and the now mythical motto that became a Grammy award winning song: ‘Patria y Vida’, Homeland and Life.

Protesters in front of the Cuban Capitol, in Havana, on July 11, 2021. / EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa
10. The Approval of Equal Marriage

In September 2022, a tense chapter in the recent history of the Díaz-Canel Government closed with the approval of equal marriage. Two souls of society and two souls of the Communist Party, the one that preserved the homophobic reminiscences of early Castroism and the one that needed to adhere to the positions of the international left. The dispute began in 2018, with the constitutional debate, between LGTBI+ organizations and Christian churches, and the Government chose to leave the issue out of the already controversial 2019 Constitution and postpone it for three years with the referendum on the Family Code. The milestone: Cuba has been the first communist country to approve a rule like this, and more than 2,200 couples have benefited to date.

Alberto and José were the first homosexual couple whose marriage, in Granma, was solemnized.
11. Two Tragedies: the Saratoga Hotel in Havana and the Matanzas Supertanker Base

On May 6, 2022, our team in Havana said good morning to our colleagues in Madrid, warning them of something strange. From the 14th floor of the building where our Editorial Office is located, a loud noise had been heard and smoke could be seen. That explosion, allegedly caused by poorly handled gas cylinders next to the central Saratoga hotel, which was getting ready to reopen after being closed for two years due to the pandemic, became one of the biggest tragedies of recent years in Cuba. It was not easy to get to that place, completely militarized and full of emergency equipment, but we did it. And not only that: one by one we located the faces of the 47 deceased, an arduous job for the limited resources of an independent media, which we carried out meticulously with the desire that their families and our readers would read it as a tribute to the victims.

The mushroom cloud of smoke from the Saratoga Hotel explosion was the first indication in the Newsroom that something was happening. / 14ymedio

Just three months later, on the night of August 5, the impact of lightning on one of the warehouses at the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which did not have adequate prevention measures, caused the largest industrial accident in the history of the Island. In a reckless decision – it was impossible to extinguish the fire in the way it was intended – 17 firefighters lost their lives and 142 were injured. Several of them were young people undergoing mandatory military service, and not professionals, which raised the indignation of family and friends. At 14ymedio we did the same thing that we did with Saratoga and that the official press did not do: we gave them names and surnames.

The authorities had removed eight plates from the geodesic dome that covered the deposit, which meant that there were 26,000 tons of crude oil unprotected. / Giron

Both events weigh on the news even today: on the one hand, those who lost their homes in the hotel explosion still have nowhere to live, and on the other, the loss of the largest storage warehouses in the country – still in incipient reconstruction – is part of fuel supply problems.

12. Mass Emigration

The eternal theme of Cuba has also been – it could not be otherwise – within this newspaper. The country has lost enormous numbers, yet to be determined, of population in this decade, more than is known from any of its previous migratory crises, including those of the first years of the Revolution, the Mariel Exodus and the Special Period. Likewise, our Editorial Office has been constantly shaken by the departure of journalists and collaborators, a phenomenon that makes us suffer from the departure of each one and the achievements they obtain abroad. Among them, Alejandro Mena Ortiz had the generosity of sharing with us his journey to Miami. The Editorial Team worked intensely, getting emotional with the long audios and raw images of him, to tell, from his own experience, how difficult the path to a better life is for millions of people.

One of the crossings on the difficult “route of the volcanoes” that runs from Nicaragua to the US. / Alejandro Mena Ortiz /14ymedio

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

The Cuban Regime Lost Its Monopoly on Information With the Arrival of ’14ymedio’

In the last ten years, the will for change has reached the majority of the Island’s citizens.

The large demonstrations of 11 July 2021 in numerous cities across Cuba shook the bases of power / Facebook / Marcos Évora

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, 23 May 2024 — If I were to describe in words what has happened in Cuba in the last ten years, I would say: a desire for change. An awakening to the reality in which Cubans lived had already occurred among the greater part of the population, although  hidden by the veil of double standards. Almost no one believed in a promising future under that system, but except for a small minority, the only hope for liberation was solely individual: leaving the country.

In that decade from 2014 to 2024, the will for change began to gradually arrive for that majority, and I think we could identify three key years: 2014, 2018 and 2021. The fact that we are celebrating the ten years since the birth of 14ymedio is significant in that process, because it was the first independent digital newspaper made in Cuba. The totalitarian regime began to lose its monopoly on information.

The era of the information society had arrived in the world, but countries like Cuba and North Korea tried to put obstacles in the way of the spread of this technology among the population, because by its very nature it was antagonistic to the dominant totalitarian powers, a mechanism  whose general form Marx himself had discovered almost a century and a half ago: the development of the productive forces entered into contradiction with the relations of production, only now these productive forces were no longer represented by the machinery of the typical factories of industrial society, but by personal computers, mobile phones and the Internet. continue reading

These relations of production, represented by totalitarian structures, became a brake on their development

These relations of production, represented by totalitarian structures, became a brake on their development, because their leaders realized the eminently subversive nature of those inventions. In 1991, there had been a massive protest in Regla, a municipality in the capital, over the murder of a young man at the hands of the Police, but in the other neighborhoods of the capital almost no one knew about it until the next day – and some still haven’t found out – due to the lack of effective communication. If it had been today, in a few minutes the entire country would have found out, from San Antonio to Maisí.

But since this process of information technology could not be stopped, because one could not live with one’s back to the world, Cuba had to open up more to a large part of the population, although timidly, in 2018. This exchange of ideas through blogs and of social networks was generating the will for change. And the following year this change became evident when in the constitutional referendum, despite so many irregularities and the fear planted in the people, accustomed to always agreeing – “so as not to look for problems” – power had to recognize that at least – among those who did not vote, those who annulled the ballot, left it blank or voted no, almost a third had refused to vote affirmatively.

Between 2020 and 2021, various acts of protest took place, especially in Havana, such as hunger strikes with the solidarity of many people, sit-ins in front of government offices, support from local people for victims of police abuse and even a strike among drivers. And finally, all this led, with the San Isidro Movement and the artists’ protests, to what we all already know: the large demonstrations of 11 July 2021 in numerous cities in the country that shook the bases of power.

Those demonstrations and other subsequent ones have been brutally repressed and there are still hundreds of protesters imprisoned

Although those demonstrations and other subsequent ones have been brutally repressed and there are still hundreds of protesters imprisoned, the contradictions that caused them, far from being resolved, have become even more acute, which is why, if I published, weeks before that memorable date, that the “Cuban nomenclature sleeps on a tinderbox,” now that the burden is much worse, a whisper in my ear tells me that something very big is going to happen.

Nor is the exile the same one to which I arrived in 1988, directly from a cell, the one where the oldest exiles predominated, amazed that the people did not rebel and that the Army did not carry out the military coup that they had so long expected, convinced that the dissidence that was being talked about was a false opposition manufactured by the dictatorship, which is why they threatened to kill me and even went to plant a bomb on me that by mistake caused havoc in a neighbor’s house.

Fortunately, that exile was little by little receiving the successive doses of reality brought by the mass exoduses. One day I will tell about when, immersed in deep discouragement, I abandoned everything and went to Florida International University (FIU), not to teach or receive classes, but to pick up trash from the university campus, and I met those simple workers, noble men and women recently arrived from the other shore and I received from them a transfusion of hope, the hope of a new Cuba.

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

The Pope Appoints Monsignor Antoine Camilleri As New Nuncio to Cuba

He replaces the archbishop of Telde, Giampiero Gloder, who became nuncio in Romania and Moldova.

Monsignor Antoine Camilleri in a speech on ’Vatican News’ / Vatican News

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 May 2024 — Bishop Antoine Camilleri, former undersecretary of the Vatican Section for Relations with States, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new apostolic nuncio in Cuba. He replaces the archbishop of Telde, Giampiero Gloder, who becomes nuncio in Romania and Moldova.

To date, Camilleri, a 58-year-old native of Sliena, Malta, served in the same position in Ethiopia, in addition to representing the Holy See before the African Union and as apostolic delegate in Somalia. Graduated in Jurisprudence and Canon Law, he speaks Italian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian.

The Holguín Católico portal noted that since “February the Cuban Church has been waiting for the appointment of a new papal representative.” In 2006, while at the nunciature of Cuba, he received his appointment as secretary of the Holy See and private secretary to Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. continue reading

According to the Vatican News news portal , Camilleri, who was ordained in 1991, is close to the Island for which he has served as pontifical representative, the same position he has held with New Guinea (1999-2002) and Uganda (2002- 2005). On September 3, 2019, Pope Francis appointed him titular archbishop of Skálholt and apostolic nuncio. On October 4, 2019 he received episcopal ordination.

The ‘Holguín Católico’ portal recalled that since “last February the Cuban Church was waiting for the appointment of a new papal representative”

Camilleri’s arrival comes one day after the bishop of Camagüey Wilfredo Willy Pino Estévez prohibited Father Alberto Reyes from ringing the bells of the Esmeralda parish, where he officiates, as a symbolic protest against the blackouts in that municipality.

This newspaper has denounced the constant pressures from the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party of Cuba, headed by Caridad Diego, which has intensified in the last three years, since several priests spoke out against the regime after the Island-wide mass demonstrations of the 11 July 2021.

At the end of March, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) did not authorize Holy Week processions in two parishes in Villa Clara. In those permitted – a total of 111 throughout the Island – Catholics took to the streets under the constant surveillance of the Police.

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

Cuba’s Villa Clara Province Announces a Change in Planning for Blackouts and Fewer Hours of Classes

In the province “not only blackouts have increased but also the hours they last”

Two girls at the Vo Thi Thang primary school / EFE/Yander Zamora

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 20, 2024 — The General Directorate of Education for Villa Clara, Cuba, has modified school schedules due to the serious electricity deficit that afflicts the province. In a statement made public this Sunday , the authorities say that “the educational centers remain open” (from 6:30 a.m. for day care centers and 7:00 a.m. for schools), but teaching hours will not begin until 10 a.m.

“In the early hours of the morning, recreational and complementary activities will be carried out until the start of the first class shift and will continue until the usual schedule,” says the text, which specifies that classes will be given from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4:20 pm.

To “clarify doubts or concerns,” they promised meetings with families today and tomorrow with the presence of an Education official.

The dark panorama of the energy situation in Villa Clara was made clear on Saturday by the governor, Milaxy Yanet Sánchez Armas, and the first provincial secretary of the Party, Osnay Miguel Colina Rodríguez. “Much more tense,” they acknowledged. “Since May 5, not only have the blackouts increased but also the hours they last.” continue reading

“In the early hours of the morning, recreational and complementary activities will be carried out until the start of the first class shift and will continue until the usual time”

Before that date, “there were blackouts but we had greater capacity to maneuver. The block programming established in Villa Clara could be respected,” the officials said. However, later, the deficit has not allowed the province to “fulfill the rotation.”

In the summary of the appearance of Sánchez Armas and Colina Rodríguez they indicated that Villa Clara “will lose between 12% and 14% of the country’s load” and it was announced that, after several meetings with specialists there will be “a historical analysis” of the province’s hourly demand, from which they will develop “new planning for blackouts.”

It was taken into consideration, from the most favorable situation to the most critical, and a medium scenario was established, which means that 70% of Villa Clara’s demand load is not available, that is, 70% of the province is turned off. However, there have been times when 85% and even 90% of the demand load has been out.

“Based on the experts’ proposal, the concept of a block is broken, because it is not possible to maneuver,” says the text published in the official press, which claims to start from a medium scenario: that 70% of the province is turned off.

With the new distribution, which began early this Monday, 16 groups of circuits – with a maximum load of 18 megawatts (MW) – “would alternate up to 8 hours of blackout and then three with power.”

And the desire is: “We hope that the system improves its capabilities and it is not 8 hours without power, that is, that the annoying blackout time is reduced.”

The “particularity” of Villa Clara, the officials explain, is that “with the exception of the Hanabanilla hydroelectric plant, we are not a province that generates electrical energy.” Given that the main plants are in the West and East of the Island, “to transmit energy from one region to another without frequency imbalances occurring, sometimes we have to remove loads.”

On Friday, without going any further, the authorities excused themselves, because the circuit that affected the cell phone had to be disconnected. That day coincided, precisely, with the report of several protests throughout the country as a result of the blackouts.

In several neighborhoods of Baracoa , Guantánamo, such as Cabacú, La Laguna and El Paraíso, residents came out on Thursday to shout “we want food!” and “we want power!” The next day, Friday, the cauldrons rang [people beating on pots and pans] in another neighborhood, El Jamal, as confirmed by a local source to 14ymedio.

The authorities rushed to reduce the tension, trying to show that they were “with the people, in the most difficult moments.” Thus, they published images on networks showing officials supposedly listening to residents complain about the blackouts.

The authorities rushed to reduce the tension by trying to show that they were “with the people, in the most difficult moments”

Likewise, national television broadcast a long report – repeated by the State newspaper Granma – in which Alfredo López, general director of the Cuban Electrical Union (UNE), did everything possible to reassure the population by ensuring that during the weekend they would reconnect two units of the Máximo Gómez thermoelectric plant, from Mariel, in Artemisa, that were out of service, and one more from Nuevitas, in Camagüey.

The official regretted that the average blackout was between 12 and 16 hours, and concluded his statement: “The combat is great, people are fighting, we are aware and sensitive that the situation is very difficult, but what we can tell you is the only thing we can tell you: that our people are fighting.”

On Sunday, the deficit once again exceeded 1,000 MW (1,095) and for this Monday, the forecast, according to the UNE report, was close to that, with 975 MW.

Among the measures announced by the Villa Clara government on Saturday are the sale of “processed food” in both state and non-state food service establishments, increasing the production of bread and forcing state vehicles “to stop at collection points* and contribute to the mobility of the population.”

The inhabitants of the rest of the provinces fear the moment when the restrictions reach them. In Havana, for the moment, a block blackout program has been spread, which includes four hours of blackout for each area for five out of seven days of the week, a schedule that authorities warn may increase in the number of hours without supply.

*Translator’s note: It has long been State policy in Cuba that government vehicles stop and pick up ’hitchhikers’ at designated spots, a policy not always adhered to.

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

The Police Arrest 78 People in Santiago de Cuba for Diverting Food

In the operations, a total of more than 60 tons of food was recovered, including soy flour, white sugar, rice and black beans.

Stevedores at the Port of Santiago de Cuba unloading rice / Trabajadores

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 21 May 2024 — Cuban authorities have detained a total of 78 people in the Guillermón Moncada port, in Santiago de Cuba, involved in a network of diversion of food intended for the basic family basket. Of them, 59 are in provisional prison while precautionary measures have been imposed on the remaining 19.

In the operation, the Police were able to recover a total of more than 60 tons of food, including 33 tons of soy flour, 22.6 of white sugar, 3.8 of rice and two of black beans, as reported this Monday by Canal Caribe. In a brief report in which agents from the Ministry of the Interior, a prosecutor and the vice-governor of the province, Waldis González Peinado, participated, the authorities repeated the exercise of divulging – increasingly frequent – the “zero tolerance” that they maintain with the “diversion of essential products.”

The Police affirm that the number of people who participate in the successive tasks of unloading, weighing and transportation in the port makes everything work like a fine-tuned clock, and that for any movement it is necessary to involve a majority of employees. “For the commission of acts of this nature, it is practically impossible to carry out the actions alone,” explains Major Erik Miguel Martínez Ferrales, who explained the operation. continue reading

“For the commission of acts of this nature it is practically impossible to carry out the actions alone”

According to prosecutor Luis Felipe Garrido Torres, the transporters acted in league with the personnel responsible for weighing, and agreed to pay amounts ranging from 9,000 to 18,000 pesos for each ton reported below the established weight. Afterwards, the sale of a truck of rice was agreed – cited as an example – for 200,000 or 300,000 pesos, delivering invoices that were not incorporated into the accounting and, therefore, prevented tracking the load.

Afterwards, the product reached the informal market, where each bag of rice was sold for 200 pesos per pound, allowing each of the transporters to obtain 4 million pesos, the official concluded. According to the institution’s calculations, at least five criminal actions could be detected, of which two stood out, in all of 2023, with “affects of more than 9 million pesos for the entities.”

Martínez Ferrales adds that the investigations linked the participation of 33 cargo transport vehicles from the state sector and another 26 from the private sector. In addition, the Police seized other assets allegedly obtained with the embezzled profits, including a home, a Lada 2106 vehicle and four tires.

“The facts detected typify conduct of crimes mainly classified as the crime of embezzlement, falsification of public documents, misappropriation and receiving,” adds the prosecutor. These crimes can carry sentences of between 8 and 20 years in prison.

Each bag of rice was sold for 200 pesos per pound, allowing each of the transporters to obtain 4 million pesos

“The leadership of the Party, the State and the Government have urged in increase in surveillance and popular control,” says the announcement. A more active role for administrations is essential, as well as guaranteeing effective prevention and control, andacting firmly within the framework of legality against any manifestation of corruption, criminal conduct and social indiscipline in order to defend and protect products intended for the people. It is a mission that cannot be postponed, the responsibility belongs to everyone and there will never be impunity,” the video concludes.

The message is part of the campaign that the authorities maintain to inform the population of relatively minor crimes, generating the feeling that they are actively working to defend the food destined for the population. Just a week ago, social networks related to the regime revealed two scams in Santa Clara, valued at 17 million pesos, although on that occasion the products did not belong to the basic family basket.

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

Mexico Fails To Fulfill Its Promise To Send Cuban Doctors to the State of San Luis Potosí

In the state, a shortage of specialists and a shortage of medicines prevail, an opponent denounces.

Cuban doctors upon their arrival in Mexico on May 4 / Embassy of Cuba in Mexico

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico City, 21 May 2024 — More than two years after Mexico formalized its hiring of Cuban doctors, none of the 929 specialists who have arrived in the country have been sent to San Luis Potosí. Thus, “the lack of adequate access to basic medical services and the shortage of drugs persists,” denounced Aranzazú Puente Bustindui , an opposition candidate for a local council, in an interview for the newspaper Código San Luis.

Puente Bustindui lamented that the emergence of IMSS-Bienestar, the free health organization created by the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador for 23 states in the country, has affected Mexican doctors.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who presumes to create a health system like that of Denmark, has not filled the doctor’s positions with Cuban specialists, as he promised in April 2023.

In April of this year, specialists from twelve areas of the Ignacio Morones Prieto Central Hospital reported that deficiencies in infrastructure, services and payments affected their work. continue reading

Aranzazú Puente Bustindui denounced “the lack of adequate access to basic medical services and that the shortage of drugs persists” 

The shortage of doctors was a problem that was intended to be solved with the arrival of specialists from Cuba, with Governor Ricardo Gallardo insisting in 2022 on the hiring of these doctors.

Gallardo insisted that, due to the lack of personnel, the then head of health services, Daniel Acosta Díaz de León, not only had to address administrative issues, he has also had to cover the lack of doctors in the operating room. He also said that there were only two neurosurgeons in the entity, a claim that was refuted by the state College of Medical Profession, stating that there were 32 neurologists and 30 neurosurgeons.

This Monday, the College stated that due to “inadequate working conditions, low salaries and insecurity,” doctors have sought other employment options. “A lot of personnel are needed, especially in Health Centers far from the capital of Potosí,” accepted Antonio Chalita Manzur, president of the College of the Medical Profession.

Of the healthcare workers who have arrived in Mexico, 109 were sent to Nayarit and another 52 to Guerrero. The rest of the Cubans are found in Baja California Sur (51), Campeche (51), Chiapas (12), Colima (86), Michoacán (71), Hidalgo (39), Oaxaca (68), Quintana Roo (31) , Sonora (60), Tamaulipas (15), Tlaxcala (105), Veracruz (25), Yucatán (3) and in Zacatecas (68).

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

Cuba Produces a Third of the Cow’s Milk It Obtained in 1989 and 60 Percent of the Meat

The sector’s executives pilfered the information in a television appearance in which they offered “we have to” as the only response to the problems.

85% of the producers are private. / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, May 17, 2024 — The situation of livestock farming was nothing short of a joke, hours after learning that the sector’s products were the ones that rose the most in price last month, when this Thursday’s State TV Roundtable announced that the topic to be discussed In the evening program would be why production is not growing and what is being done to change this. If someone sat down to listen to the answer to these questions, the only thing they found was something similar to Aesop’s fable known as “The Milkmaid’s Tale.

When we solve these two problems (food and water) that will be expressed in reproductive health in the livestock and this will give more production,” said Yoandry Beltrán Pérez, vice president of the Livestock Business Group. It was not necessary to think much to get there, the question is how it is going to be resolved and the answer offered by Beltrán and his boss, Alain Rodríguez León, was the usual “we have to.”

“We have to transform the living conditions of the people involved in livestock production,” was the first wish expressed. He was referring to an alleged investment to restore 30 ranchers’ houses this year, although the project covers a total of 155. “We have to promote the planting of cane and protein plants,” he continued, alluding to Fidel Castro “who left us that legacy” thanks to which there are 15 seed farms in different provinces. continue reading

“We have to conserve food for dry periods, that is, take advantage of the six rainy months in the country, from May to November

“We have to conserve food for the dry periods, that is, take advantage of the six months that we have rainy weather in the country, from May to November,” he added to the list, which also gained weight with another aspiration, more specific in In this case: “We are trying to change the energy matrix.” This could supply water not only to the dairy farms, but also to provide it in other places where the animals can drink it whenever they want.

The blackouts affect the feeding of livestock, which is why the official expressed a new “we have to,” this time referring to the search for independence of water supply systems. “This cannot be achieved in a day, but it is where we have our sights set.”

While the authorities continue to think about what they and others have to do, the sector has been sinking for more than 30 years. Beltrán himself recognized this when he said that it is the obligation of the group (created as such in 2015) “to stop the decrease in the [number of dairy cows], which has had a decrease since the Special Period,” and “it has not been able to be stopped” The president, Rodríguez León, also admitted the “decrease,” but failed to put figures on it.

They had been left moments before by the economist Pedro Monreal, who warned of the situation on his X account. “They announce the Round Table today with the Cattle Business Group (Gegan) to explain the ‘business structure’, ‘why doesn’t production grow’ and ’what has to be done to transform the situation?’ Before they come out with any story, it is worth looking at one piece of information.” The tweet is accompanied by a graphic that illustrates the debacle.

Production of milk and meat in Cuba. / Pedro Monreal / Onei

In 1989, 1,131,300 tons of fresh cow’s milk were produced on the Island, compared to 369,000 tons in 2022, 67% less. When it comes to meat, the drop is less abrupt, but the drama is also evident. It went from 289,100 tons to 172,300, 40% less. In other words, in 2022, 60% of the meat and a third of the cow’s milk that was achieved in the late 90s, when Cuba was still recovering from the Special Period, was produced.

The president of the livestock group, who gave countless figures from the business organization chart, referred to the updating of the livestock registry that is being carried out. To date, he stated, visits have been made to 30,000 ranchers and more than 10,000 illegalities have been detected, although he stressed that the objective is not to penalize anyone, but rather “to have greater control of the number of animals, to know the living conditions of producers, the availability of water, roads and other infrastructure.”

Among the most striking data presented during the program is the low amount of losses reported by the director. At the end of 2023, 20 companies lost 336,188,516,400 pesos, while a profit of 16,431,100 pesos was achieved. As of today, however, only four remain negative, with 5,752,800 pesos. The reason could be in the small real power of the State in the sector, since 85% of the producers are private, as Beltrán Pérez himself indicated. “We must go to each farm and conscientiously enforce what is approved in the Livestock Promotion and Development Law in the country,” he concluded.

 85% of the producers are private, as Beltrán Pérez himself indicated. “We must go to each farm and enforce compliance.”

Also participating in the program were Ramón Denis García, General Director of the Research Center for the Animal Improvement of Tropical Livestock (CIMAGT), and César Liván Franco Camacho, General Director of the Venegas Livestock Company, who gave the keys to the success for his farm. Both praised the “historic leader” who, the first to speak described, “had the vision of developing science, coupled with the country’s agricultural development.” It is not exactly the sector to boast about, but the expert boasted of the scientific-technical tasks aimed at changing the situation, apparently without much success in the last 30 years.

Franco Camacho said that bank loans were vital to move the Venegas company forward, with its 22 dairy farms that are supplied with large-capacity tanks. “We have been serious with them in payments and we have no overdue loans. With these credits we also help producers in marketing with the purchase of sweet potatoes and cassava, among others,” he said.

Although he had just found one of the keys to the national economic collapse, not leaving debts, he ended up getting lost again in the discourse that will not fix the sector’s problems. “Livestock must be worked with love (…) we have created a science group in livestock, with people who love it, to search for solutions that can be taken into account towards its development. And since the Comandante [Fidel Castro] dedicated the last years of his life to showing us the way to plant animal food, that is what we work for,” he concluded.

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