The ‘Misunderstanding’ of the Cuban People

Havana must accept power outages in solidarity, the authorities ask. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 1 August 2022 — Fidel Castro had not yet assaulted the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba when, in communist Germany, on June 17, 1953, the people took to the streets to protest against the system that, eight years later, that future assailant implanted in Cuba.

The Germans who rejected socialism were not expropriated capitalists or petty bourgeois, but construction workers. The poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, after reading the pamphlets that the Writers’ Union distributed on Stalin Avenue indicating that the people had lost the confidence of the Government and that they could only win it again “with redoubled efforts,” asked himself, ironically, the following in the last verses of his poem, “The Solution.”

“Wouldn’t it be simpler

in that case for the Government

to dissolve the people

and choose another?”

Obviously, the solution to the disagreements of the governed with the measures of the rulers is not that those who rule seek new subjects, but that new policies are proclaimed and, better yet, that it’s others who dictate them.

People don’t have to be sympathetic to their rulers, whether they are democratically elected or hand-appointed by the only party allowed.

If the policies drawn up by those who hold government positions produce enemies in relations with other nations, if as a result of those bad relations it’s difficult to commercialize what the country can sell and acquire what it needs to buy, if the laws make it difficult  to prosper and suffocate entrepreneurs and if, to top it off, dissent becomes a crime, being understanding becomes an act of complicity. continue reading

They want to convince Cubans that people, Party and Government make up an indissoluble Holy Trinity, and that any fissure constitutes a contribution to the enemy. Therefore, understanding is not enough for those who rule: they demand applause and that the people pretend to be enthusiastic.

At the climax of that claim, to justify the inevitable power cuts in the capital in the midst of the blackouts that mainly overwhelm the cities of the interior, they have appealed to the “solidarity” of the people in Havana, who will have to accept, almost celebrate, the absence of electricity so that the people in the provinces suffer less.

The capital’s solidarity could have another less understanding face so that the inhabitants of the interior are not left alone when it comes to protesting. But then, those would be the people that the Government would like to dissolve.

Translated by Regina Anavy 

____________

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

Cuba: ‘A Gleaming Bodega with Hardly Any Food and a Lot of Revolutionary Will’

The bodega (ration store) looked renovated yesterday in salute to the official party on July 26. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 27 July 2022 — “Come neighbors, buy something. Sheets, towels, dessert plates, keep coming in.” The proclamation, which was heard this Tuesday where Hospital Street meets Jovellar, came from the woman who runs the bodega (ration store) located on that corner, which yesterday looked renovated, in salute to the official party on July 26th.

Everything had been arranged for the expected date: the painted walls, the polished counter and the neat and clean shelves, exhibiting two bottles of oil, a package of rice and another of sugar. At their side, contrasted other unusual items in the ration stores: sets of sheets at more than 2,000 pesos, towels over 800, plastic plates at 35 and even pens are offered in the local restaurant.

“Oh, but what a cool name they gave it, La Estrella [The Star],” a neighbor joked, pointing to the new sign for the ration store. “It would have been better if they had named it The Muddy Firefly. In the midst of so much land, holes and putrefied waters, didn’t they have another better investment to make?” A woman replied from the line to buy bread in the private cafeteria across the street.

The two establishments are separated by a huge fetid hole, full of sewage from the surrounding buildings that tarnishes the remodeling. (14ymedio)
The two establishments are separated by a huge fetid hole, full of sewage from the surrounding buildings that tarnishes the remodeling. (14ymedio)

The two establishments are separated by a huge fetid hole, full of sewage from the surrounding buildings that tarnishes the remodeling. The works began days ago and the street is open to start the repairs but, as often happens, there is no progress to be seen and there are neighbors who are without gas and waiting to see the area cleaned up. continue reading

“We have a gleaming bodega where there is hardly any food, but there is revolutionary will,” the forklift operator who sells agricultural products on that block comment sarcastically. “I would like to know when they are going to fix ours, which is just a block away, in San Lázaro, full of leaks and in danger of collapsing,” replied a customer while she bought an avocado. Sometimes, she tells the street vendor, the poor condition of the establishment prevents her from completing the errands in the ration book. “The ration store guy tells me, for example, that he can’t give me the sugar because it got wet, due to leaks,” she says annoyed.

Suddenly, conversations are interrupted and attention is drawn to a truck that has just become entangled in the debris on the street and has lost a piece of its bumper. The driver accelerates furiously after managing to free the vehicle, while someone yells at him: “Wow! The 26th is your party too!”

Attention is drawn to a truck that has just become entangled in the debris on the street and has lost a chunk of its bumper. (14ymedio)
Attention is drawn to a truck that has just become entangled in the debris on the street and has lost a chunk of its bumper. (14ymedio)

____________

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.

As August is About to Begin, the Electricity Supply is Still Ailing in Cuba

Despite the blackouts, the official press doesn’t hesitate to affirm that the Cienfuegos thermoelectric plant is “one of the most stable in the country.” (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 28 July 2022 — The Electric Union of Cuba announced on Thursday a deficit of up to 20% in the energy supply, after three days of relative stability during the official holidays on July 26.

The deficit this Thursday will be 17.9% in prime time, with an availability of 2,502 megawatts (MW) and a maximum demand of 2,950 MW, the state company reported in its usual statement.

On Wednesday, the deficient electricity supply began to affect users from 10:42 and was restored at 22:30. The company also reported that eight units out of a total of five thermoelectric power plants in the country are out of service due to breakdowns or maintenance.

On July 22 in a speech to Parliament, Miguel Díaz-Canel acknowledged the discomfort among the population over the cuts, which have been intensifying in recent months. He added that those who blame the Government for its handling of the prolonged blackouts “are responding to what the counterrevolution wants.”

The Government affirms that the cuts in supply have been caused by breakages in the plants, the shortage of fuel for generation and scheduled maintenance. Despite the state rhetoric, which affirms that everything possible is being done to avoid blackouts, and the deals with foreign companies to repair thermoelectric plants, the crisis of the Cuban energy system doesn’t seem to have an immediate solution. continue reading

A report published today in Cubadebate collects the testimony of workers of the Cienfuegos thermoelectric plant. Affected by rust and marine microorganisms, the machinery repeats the pattern of other plants in the country: lack of spare parts and lack of adequate maintenance.

In a thermoelectric plant “we work many early morning hours, many Saturdays, Sundays, many carnivals; maintenance is twenty-four hours,” says a 72-year-old technician.

“The units aren’t given the maintenance they need, so each operation becomes more complicated,” another operator admits to the official press. “There’s a lot of instability in parameters; we are working with parameters that aren’t in accordance with the plant system. You have to keep your eyes wide open. One mistake from us and the plant is gone.”

“I left work one morning and arrived home without electricity. I can’t sleep. I’m also suffering,” adds another.

However, Cubadebate has no qualms about stating that the Cienfuegos thermoelectric plant is “one of the most stable in the country.”

At the beginning of July, the Felton thermoelectric plant, in the Holguin municipality of Mayarí, suffered considerable damage due to a large fire. This accident meant an even greater deterioration of the national electricity system, unable to implement the necessary actions to achieve energy stability in the short term.

The blackouts were, along with other serious economic and political problems, the cause of the massive protests of July 11, 2021. They have also been the triggers for recent demonstrations  against the Government, such as those that took place in Los Palacios (Pinar del Río), or smaller ones in other municipalities of the country.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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 Motorcycle of the Murdered Cuban Professor Santiago Morgado Was Sold for 200,000 Pesos

Photograph disseminated by the official press about the search for Santiago Morgado, in Sancti Spíritus. (Escambray)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2022 — Professor Santiago Morgado was murdered for 200,000 pesos. It’s the price for which the Suzuki motorcycle that was stolen on July 1 at Sancti Spíritus was sold. The news was revealed along with other details of the crime by the official newspaper, Escambray.

According to the investigation, of the five involved in the death of the professor — all of them in pretrial detention since their arrest on July 11 — two were the material authors. One of them, apparently, habitually hired Morgado’s transport service and knew him well, so he sensed that it would be easy to take him to a point where he could perpetrate the crime.

The first of the alleged murderers led Morgado to El Capitolio, a town of the People’s Council of Banao, where, hidden among the undergrowth, the second man was waiting. The attackers used a stick and a stone, in addition to two pieces of agricultural machinery that they used to immerse the teacher’s body in a well up to three meters deep.

A third man was in charge of driving the red Suzuki to Vertientes, in Camagüey, where the fourth involved tried to sell it for 800,000 pesos, but finally had to make a considerable reduction. The fifth detainee was the intermediary of the sale. continue reading

Metal piece with which the body was thrown into the well. (Yosdany Morejón/Escambray)

Sources from the investigation said that the trail of the helmet, found by the professor’s acquaintances, was decisive in reaching the well and finding the metal parts that helped clarify the case.

Of the five involved, between the ages of 28 and 45, three are residents of Banao, one in the same town, another in El Pinto and the third in El Capitolio. The other two are from Vertientes, from which it follows that the crimes occurred in places they knew well.

With the participation of the two direct authors, the reconstruction of the facts was carried out, a process in which it was demonstrated that they used the rental of the motorcycle with the intention of murdering its owner to steal it and subsequently sell it.

In Escambray’s note, the authorities insisted on admitting the relevance of citizen collaboration to clarify the crime. Family and friends carried out the first investigations and initially complained that the police were lagging behind.

Morgado, 62, disappeared at noon on July 1, and his acquaintances were the ones who found his biker’s helmet on the road through El Pinto. Three days later, on Monday 4, they found his glasses and a shoe near the well where, hours later, the firefighters recovered the body.

Although the official newspaper insists that Morgado’s murder was an “event that by its violent nature kept residents on alert,” it had been three days since the independent press reported the event when it was finally repeated in Escambray.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Cubans Will be Able to Import Five Cell Phones, Three Computers and Two Motorcyles

On Thursday, the new rules for non-commercial imports made by natural persons were announced. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2022 — The new provisions of the General Customs of Cuba on imports from individuals on a non-commercial basis have been announced this Thursday. The Official Gazette specifies that Cubans will be able to import up to five cell phones — versus the two that were allowed — two electric generators, two motorcycles, and a third if it is through the shipment of cargo, in addition to two electric bicycles.

“That doesn’t solve the big problem of the economy. The commercial character must be extended to all people who want to establish small and large businesses with all the freedom that exists in the world,” Pavel Otero, a musician from Havana, said in an article in the official media Cubadebate. “You have to think big and not little.”

As part of the provisions, which enter into force on August 15, the non-commercial nature of imports must have to do with “the functions of an article,” and the repetition of imports “must not show the purpose of trade.” In case this happens, General Customs can confiscate the products.

This measure is also a hard blow to ’mules’ traveling abroad to buy all kinds of products and resell them on the island’s black market. Despite the very high prices, this informal trade has given Cubans a break. Personal hygiene products, food and medicines are tax-free until December under a government resolution that freed them from paying taxes. continue reading

“What crazy people do: ’Non-commercial’ in a country that has nothing and doesn’t produce anything. Of course, most of those items will end up in ’garage sales’ and other sales. They have finished with opening completely and don’t give any more detours,” the netizen identified as Altair Urizen also commented in Cubadebate.

The new regulations ratified what Economy Minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez announced about the increase of the import limit through shipments, from 10 to 20 kilos, the decrease in the tariff per kilo imported, from 20 dollars to 10 dollars, as well as the exemption from the payment of taxes of up to three kilos for items to which the value-weight is applied, and the 30% reduction to customs tax, which is currently 100%.

Regarding the import of parts and accessories of motor vehicles, it is specified that the quantity “must not exceed that required by a vehicle for repair and maintenance.” In the case of tires, up to five light car tires, seven heavy vehicles and three motorcycle or moped tires are allowed.

Customs also allows up to three computers, laptops, tablets and network devices including the accessories or peripherals of computer equipment (mouse, keyboards or others). “For flash memories, parts and pieces of computers, mobile and fixed telephony, printers, photocopiers and other equipment, the value-weight alternative is used, and whenever there is diversity in the products.”

Customs classifies as “miscellaneous” footwear, clothing, food, personal and household toiletries, costume jewelry, perfumery and the like, and specifies that their import is allowed only if the products are of different types.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

In Camaguey, Cuba, Another Protest Against Blackouts While More Luxury Hotels are Announced

Protest in Nuevitas, Camagüey, this weekend. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 August 2022 — Block 5 of the Nuevitas thermoelectric plant, in Camagüey, left the electrical system a few hours after it was incorporated. Official journalist Lázaro Manuel Alonso confirmed the news through his Facebook account and warned of the increase in the energy deficit that the new incident would entail.

“That unit synchronized last night,” recalled the reporter, who added that “they’re investigating why it happened.”

Unit 5 of Nuevitas, which had been out of service the previous days due to a breakdown, like unit 4 of the same plant, was synchronized on Saturday during peak hours, as announced by the Unión Eléctrica de Cuba. But the relative joy didn’t last even a day, and the 105 MW generated by that block are lost again.

For Sunday’s peak, the state company had predicted a 20% deficit in the generation, but the problem in Nuevitas worsened in the night, and the population took to the streets again. Several videos posted on Facebook record a protest in the city of Camagüey in which the slogan “turn on the power, pricks” that was born in the same province when the residents of the university campus exploded after more than 10 hours without electricity and hardly any water, was heard again.

Social networks are also serving as a thermometer to measure the state of a population more than tired of the power outages they have suffered this summer. “In Minas, Camagüey, the power has been off since before 5pm, and now there is nothing until dawn, with this heat and mosquitoes,” commented one user late at night.

“In Santa Cruz del Norte, Mayabeque, there was also a 6-hour blackout, but no one goes out to protest,” added another. “I am from Santiago de Cuba and my children are desperate and crying with the heat and mosquitoes,” said one mother. “The power has been off in Cienfuegos since this morning, for everyone,” claimed another. Messages come from all the provinces, and the discomfort is huge. continue reading

Meanwhile, in Camagüey itself where citizens cannot sleep, the reopening of the Valentín Cayo Cruz hotel, a luxury resort located in the north of the province, on an islet of just 26 square kilometers, has just been announced. The establishment, managed by the Spanish hotel company Iberostar, is receiving guests again with the arrival of the high season, on November 1.

The five-star hotel has 546 all-inclusive rooms and is for adults only. According to Radio Cadena Agramonte, the space “is part of the tourist development that is carried out in that important destination, and to contemporary design are added the recreational, cultural, gastronomic and sports proposals, always taking advantage of the benefits of the beach and the identity values of the island.”

The Ministry of Tourism has planned in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, to which Cayo Cruz belongs, the largest hotel project in the country, with more than 20,000 rooms, despite warnings from several economists about the pessimistic prospects of a sector that was, before the pandemic, Cuba’s third largest generator of foreign exchange after the sale of medical services — sending doctors abroad — and remittances.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Someone is in a Hurry With the Rules for Non-commercial Imports by Natural Persons

A young Cuban-American waits with his family’s luggage to board a plan to Cuba. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo Economist, 29 June 2022 — They hurried. Said and done. The words of Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil Fernandez still resonated announcing to the National Assembly the 75 measures to “revitalize the economy” and the resolutions of the Ministry of Finance and Prices (MFP) and the General Customs of the Republic establishing the processes related to the flexibility of non-commercial imports by natural persons were already published in the Official Gazette.

The economic situation is tightening. Cubans are having a very hard time in this summer of 2022. So much so that some already see signs very similar to those of the so-called “Special Period,” and the immediate reaction of the people, once again, is to leave the country, losing confidence that the situation will change.

If the communist model imposed by the so-called revolution since 1959 in Cuba has failed in anything, it is trade. Private commercial intermediation was destroyed by communist reforms; Cubans don’t have freedom of choice and live overwhelmed by a permanent shortage of everything. They are forced to survive with an increasingly meager ration book or regulated basket of goods, and see how, on top of that, the only goods and services that abound have to be bought in well-stocked stores which accept only freely convertible currency or in informal markets, in dollars.

Therefore, taking into account the disaster of state supplies of goods and services, communists who won’t accept that private companies recover wholesale or retail commercial activity, have opened their hands to this formula of non-commercial import, known for a long time to the regime, and decide to extend over time rules that, in principle, were going to be for a short period of time.

And they are in a hurry to do it. The measures enter into force on August 15; that is, right now, with new tariffs to be paid by natural persons who receive non-commercial air, sea, postal and courier shipments in the national territory; as well as the rules for non-commercial imports made by natural persons. Everything is highly regulated and controlled, so that no one escapes. continue reading

There is everything in these measures. For example, according to MFF resolution 204/2022, natural persons who receive non-commercial air, sea, postal and courier shipments in the national territory are exempt from the payment of customs tax for the first 30 dollars of the value or its equivalent weight, on up to three kilograms of the shipment, in the value/weight ratio, established by Customs. With 30 dollars, little can be taken away. Seeing the packages that arrive at Cuban airports, three kilograms seem like little.

Therefore, the rule says that natural persons who receive items in excess of 30 dollars and up to a value of 200 dollars, will have a tariff rate of 30%, adding that the calculation of the customs tax to be paid is carried out by applying, to the import value, the established tariff rate, and its result is converted into Cuban pesos, according to the current exchange rate. At the official rate, of course, of 1×24.

For its part, Customs resolution 175/2022 develops the rules for non-commercial imports made by natural persons, “taking into account that these are carried out occasionally for their personal, family or household use, through luggage, shipments, household goods or other authorized charges.” Actually, that occasional use is quite questionable, since these imports are the ones that then make up the mercantile mass of goods and products that are traded informally in the country, but this is the least interesting thing to the regime.

The rule states that “items and products to be imported by natural persons will be admitted as long as they correspond to a non-commercial import; the quantities to be imported are declared transparently and varied; that their import does not exceed the limit of what is established as appropriate; and that the nature and functions of an article or the repetition of the imports made do not show the nature or commercial purpose of its import.”

Everything is so open and subjective that in this way you can bring practically everything into the country. Otherwise, as is always the case in these cases, it is up to Customs to decide whether the import is carried out on a commercial basis and to apply the sanction provided for in customs regulations.

The resolution establishes, under these conditions, that “when the customs authority determines that there is a commercial nature due to the repeated non-commercial imports, it notifies the infringer of the sanctioning decision and the period in which, from that act, his right to import is limited.” Now we will see who pays, and how much. The possibility of sanction is there, but in these cases, and in many others, the law is made, the trap is set.

The aforementioned resolution also establishes that when an item or product is not defined in the reference values, the referential price available, including that of sale in domestic commerce and in other origins, is taken as a basis, in accordance with the provisions of current legislation. Once again, it is Customs that is authorized to apply the value-weight alternative method for all those items that, due to their characteristics and value, can be valued by that method, as legislated.

To household appliances, computer and communications equipment and other durable items are applied, as a method of valuation, the Customs declaration, the purchase invoice or the reference value, without prejudice to applying the provisions of specific provision or what is requested by the person, in which case the acceptance of weighing it or not is evaluated.

On the other hand, Customs Resolution 176/2022 uses the value-weight alternative method for the determination of the Customs value of items that are classified as miscellaneous and others where, due to their characteristics, it is applicable, items that are imported non-commercially by natural persons through shipments, applying the equivalence of one kilogram equal to ten US dollars.

For the determination of the value of shipments through this alternative, values that are based on automated dispatch, in which the weight of the miscellaneous of the shipment is obtained, are taken into account. The items contained in the shipment for which the value-weight method is not applied are individually valued and considered within the established import limit.

The annexes to the resolution include specifications on the rules for non-commercial imports of natural persons, aspects to be taken into account in the classification of other items or products that are not considered miscellaneous and the list of reference values for non-commercial imports that are made by any means.

Finally, a list of reference values is published for non-commercial imports made by natural persons by any means, products that are not distributed by “legal” trade and that go through the vicissitudes of these Castro rules. Photographic products whose valuation is less than 50 USD: the value-weight alternative applies. Non-durable household and hardware items: up to five items of each type that are classified as hardware, provided that their value does not exceed 50 USD; and for those that exceed that value up to three are admitted. Paints, varnishes, pigments and thinners, provided that the total sum of the contents of their containers does not exceed 20 liters. Household appliances: provided that they are varied, accepting up to two items of the same type, provided that the sum of their values does not exceed the limit established for the importation of luggage. Computer and telecommunications equipment: up to three items related to telecommunications and network devices, including accessories or peripherals of computer equipment.

Cell phones or smartphones: up to five units.

Musical instruments: up to three items, in all cases in accordance with the import limit. Furniture: up to five items of each type that are classified as home furniture, as long as their value does not exceed 50 USD.

Motor vehicles, their parts, parts and accessories: it allows the importation as luggage of up to two items of the so-called electric mopeds of up to two seats or one by means of shipments. Bicycles, electric and pedal-assisted bicycles, electric skateboards or the like: up to two items.

Nothing is left to improvisation. A package of resolutions like this was already being drafted and in the process of being launched long before Minister Gil announced it in the National Assembly. The regime is aware of its failure and that it is in a terminal phase in which multiple anomalies that are impossible to solve with the communist economic model accumulate. The question is, will we see more in this torrid summer?

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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, Summer 2022: Clay for Children or a Vaccine Against COVID-19?

Cuban schoolchildren during the ceremony where they take on the red scarf. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elias Amor Bravo, Economist, 31 July 2022 — Cuba’s State newspaper Granma wants to leave behind this month of July, of accumulation of anomalies for the regime, with some news that aims to mean a return to normality. Not so much to justify that 10.9% GDP growth that Economy Minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez said occurred in the economy, but so that people breathe and can regain some calm after so many blackouts, lack of food, insecurity for the future and absolute loss of confidence in the leaders. The first news is that there is a return to the production of children’s modeling clay, with the manufacture of about 200,000 sets of colored clay intended for day care centers throughout the country. The Education Media Production Company (EMEG), after a period of difficulty, has assumed the delivery of this educational material to the Ministry of Education (MINED).

This return to normality has been possible “after part of the production process was stabilized with the entry of imported raw materials (whose availability was affected during the stage of confronting COVID-19 in Cuba).” Apparently, Cuban clay manufactured by EMEG depends on raw materials that can only be obtained outside the country, which affects its final quality. Since 1989, the company has been manufacturing a product with a better quality and longer lasting duration than other imported clay, but it depends on those raw materials that, apparently, no one has ordered to be manufactured in Cuba.

Clay, the national one, due to the vicissitudes of the moment, is only limited to commitments to MINED. If a child wants to play at home with this clay, he can’t do it, since the regime decided that it couldn’t be bought in stores. In this way, the authorities limit the growth possibilities of the state company that, if it could produce more, would do so at lower unit costs, be more competitive, meet unmet demands, and who knows if it wouldn’t be able to export its surplus to other countries in the area? If the clay is so good and no one doubts its quality, why not sell it to children in the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica? What does it matter, who cares about all this in Cuba? continue reading

And just like colored clay, Granma announces with great fanfare that the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) already has the Cuban vaccine candidate against the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 ready. Now it seems that it’s so, although you have a certain feeling of déjà vu when reading this news for the umpteenth time.

And as usually happens in these cases, the information was given by the member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Party and the General Director of the CIGB, Dr. Martha Ayala Ávila, during a technical meeting with the highest authorities of the BioCubaFarma Business Group. The party is always behind this kind of thing, even with the production of clay.

Apparently, it was also said that they will continue with preclinical and toxicological evaluations in animal models and then move on to the clinical trials phase, in conjunction with the Center for the State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED) and the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). In other words, in a few months we will have the vaccine ready again. As you can see, Dr. Ayala doesn’t answer to a board of directors, usually little given to this news of fireworks, but the regime is only interested in certain facts.

The world offered a master lesson in 2020 when the COVID pandemic broke out, and large drug manufacturers worldwide began a race to identify vaccines to curb the disease. And they did it, each country at its own pace and according to its needs. There was even plenty of international cooperation to fight COVID-19. The Cuban communist regime made its own decision to advance its vaccination candidates, and here we are. The new vaccine candidate is based on the RBD sequence; that is, the receptor binding domain of human cells, through which this type of coronavirus penetrates, which has already had extensive development and practical application in the millions of people vaccinated with the second and third doses.

In Cuba, immunogenicity is now being evaluated in animal models, to check if the vaccine has the ability to induce a high immunogenicity. From there to being in a position to address the development of this vaccine candidate and then decide when to use it in the population is a stretch, probably a long one. It was said that the CIGB has the capacity to produce this vaccine candidate in its plants, to link with AICA Laboratories and carry out clinical studies in coordination with MINSAP, always with the approval of the Cuban regulatory authority, which may mean that the regime is studying the possibility of marketing the vaccine abroad through more exports. To do this, it will need some type of WHO approval that, it should be remembered, still hasn’t happened for the first vaccines given to the population in Cuba.

That they get to it right now and that Granma turns it into a great announcement is smoke in the wind, and has a lot to do, like children’s clay, with that feeling of a terminal phase that the regime uses to counteract this warm and torrid summer for millions of Cubans. The distance of the population from the leaders is opening up more and more, and this type of news does nothing but increase the gap. There is little to celebrate for Raúl Castro to gain time, and in his 91 years he won’t have to see the collapse of the mammoth built by his brother and him. The end is near, even if it’s built out of clay. Granma doesn’t know what to say anymore.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Mariela Castro and Her Aunt Emma Inaugurate the Angel Castro Birthplace in Galicia

Mariela Castro at the door of the birthplace of her grandfather, Ángel Castro, and her aunt Enma (wearing a multi-colored shirt). (TheVoice of Galicia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 29 June 2022 — Mariela Castro, deputy to the National Assembly of Peoples Power, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) and daughter of Raúl Castro, on Thursday accompanied her aunt, Enma Castro at the inauguration of the Ángel Castro House Museum in Láncara, Lugo. The museum finally bears the name of Fidel Castro’s father, versus the name Casa Láncara that appeared on its website.

A chronicle published in the newspaper La Voz de Galicia gives an account of the tour carried out this Thursday in the small Galician town, beginning at 11 in the morning when the Municipal Council received the Island’s ambassador to Spain, Marcelino Medina González, and the two women, accompanied by several other members of the extended family. Local and regional authorities were also present at the event.

“Half of my blood is Galician. Here I thank God that I had Don Ángel as my father, who together with my mother bequeathed us values ​​that have helped me a lot in life,” Enma Castro said emotionally when signing the book of honor.

The words of her brother Raúl were also heard through the voice of Mariela Castro, who read a letter written for the event by her father. “I remember Fidel’s visit in 1992 and mine in 2005 to the old family home in whose house a plaque remembers Ángel as the Galician who emigrated to Cuba where he planted trees that still flourish,” the letter said. continue reading

The guests enjoyed a meal in the open air in an oak grove. (The Voice of Galicia)

Raúl Castro also celebrated the destiny of what was his father’s birthplace, hoping that it would be a tribute “to the children of Galicia who crossed the Atlantic and to their descendants.”

The reading of the letter took place after the cutting of the inaugural ribbon, in front of the new museum, and after a stop at the Plaza Cívica, where the emigration exhibition has been installed.

Several images portray the festive day, with outdoor food included, in which the deputy danced to the sound of bagpipes.

The president of the Láncara-Cuba Friendship and Solidarity Association, Antonio Rubén Sobrado Carballo, stressed that the inauguration had been planned by choosing “a very special day, an important day” for Láncara. “It is no coincidence. It coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the visit that Fidel Castro and Manuel Fraga made to the house at the time,” he stated.

Sobrado highlighted the work that was done to recover the house by maintaining “the same architectural system that it had in the past,” so that elements such as “the walls, the roof, the wood are almost intact. In addition, he thanked the Office of the Historian of Havana for its role in structuring the museum content, since it took care of “the infographics” and part of the “museum content.”

____________

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 Court in Cienfuegos Agrees to the Request of the Prosecutor’s Office and Denies Bail to ‘Ktivo Disidente’

Ktivo Disidente in the Havana protest that has led him to prison. (Camila Carballo INSIDE/Capture/YouTube)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 27 July 2022 — The Municipal Court of Cienfuegos reversed its decision to release Carlos Ernesto Díaz González (known on social networks as Ktivo Disidente) on bail, and in prison since last April 28. His offense: he climbed a wall on the boulevard of San Rafael in Havana to claim the freedom of Cubans.

According to Diario de Cuba, which quotes a friend of the activist, the magistrates had decided to grant release from prison after payment of 10,000 pesos as bail, but the Prosecutor’s Office rescinded the measure and managed to get the court to rectify it.

“The lawyer has done everything possible to free Ktivo. He requested a habeas corpus procedure in mid-July and the Court scheduled a hearing which the Prosecutor’s Office did not attend and to which they did not take Ktivo. In other words, they totally failed to comply with that procedure,” Manuel Gómez told the independent newspaper.

The man from Cienfuegos is accused of “defamation, disobedience and contempt” and a new habeas corpus hearing is scheduled for this Thursday the 28th, after the one on Friday the 22nd was frustrated.

Keilylli De la Mora Valle, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba and a friend of Ktivo, told Martí Noticias in an interview that the lawyer had been waiting in court for four hours on the 22nd when they told him that the hearing was being postponed. “The detainee had no knowledge that they were going to transfer him to court that day, which shows the obstacles and the lies the authorities use to keep him locked up,” she said.

Díaz González is imprisoned in the Ariza prison, in Cienfuegos, where he has received, according to his relatives, mistreatment by officials. At the beginning of June, the artist Luis Dener released a video in which he recounted that five agents took him handcuffed out of the punishment cell where he was, after several days on a hunger strike, and beat him and threatened him, ultimately leaving him with the common prisoners, who allegedly continued to attack him. continue reading

The activist also refuses to wear prison clothes and claims his status as a political prisoner.

Ktivo Disidente demonstrated on December 4, 2020 to demand the freedom of Luis Robles, known as the man with the banner. Later he joined the Archipiélago collective and was arrested in November 2021, the day before the Civic March for Change, for putting up protest posters in Cienfuegos.

But his entry into prison finally took place after the iconic protest that he staged on the Havana wall from which he shouted: “There must be no violence, there must be no bloodshed, but they have to let us participate in the political life of the country. The one who is a communist should be, but the one who should not be respected,” he said, while passers-by recorded it on their cell phones. Finally, several agents sent to the place lowered him from the heights and took him to a police station. Shortly after, he was transferred to Cienfuegos, where he awaits trial.

____________

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.

Residents Take to the Streets of Altamira in Santiago de Cuba to Protest Against the Blackouts

Protests at the Altamira People’s Council in Santiago de Cuba on August 1, 2022. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana/Santiago de Cuba, 1 August 2022 — A demonstration in the Luis Dagnes neighborhood, at the Altamira People’s Council, Santiago de Cuba, included several residents protesting the blackouts and the precarious economic situation which the city is experiencing. The rally quickly caused the presence of several military and law enforcement forces, while the demonstrators shouted phrases against the government.

“They are abusing us. All morning without light and the power went out again at 11 in the morning,” activist Aurora Sancho explains to 14ymedio. “It all started with a neighbor who began to make noise with an iron bar and complain. Little by little, others joined him. People couldn’t take it anymore today.”

“They shouted slogans against Miguel Díaz-Canel; they also demanded that they turn on the power,” she adds. “Then the police arrived, along with the Red Berets and State Security.” Sancho’s house was surrounded “with two patrol cars” to prevent her from leaving. One of them was car 575, she points out.

Some residents of the area report that, during the protests, the provincial authorities of the Assembly of People’s Power, led by its president, Beatriz Johnson, began a “revolutionary argument” to calm the demonstrators.

“They brought Beatrix Johnson to make a speech, and people shouted at her. And so they would applaud her, they brought members of a Rapid Response Brigade. So far they have not returned the electricity service to us, and this is still totally taken over by the police.” Sancho believes that “finally the people woke up.”

Several images circulating on social networks record the presence on site of several patrols, police and high-ranking officers of the Ministry of the Interior.

“They entered the neighborhood wanting to repress, but people were only demonstrating peacefully. They wanted to strike blows but the neighbors didn’t let them. They handcuffed a young man who was only watching the protest, and when they were going to take him away, the people themselves protested more strongly and forced them to release him,” the activist adds.

The demonstrators improvised a conga line with several slogans and “even shouted slogans against Fidel Castro,” she says. Among the slogans they chanted were: “Enough is enough,” “Turn on the power, pricks ,” “Díaz-Canel, singao [motherfucker].” The main focus of the protests was on Comancié Street, between Castillo Duany and Piñeira, in the Luis Dagnes neighborhood.

“Then the police arrived, along with the Red Berets and State Security,” said an activist. (Courtesy)

In a video broadcast on social networks by users supportive of the regime, Beatriz Johnson is heard asking the residents for “patience” and said that the blackout schedules in the area were going to be reviewed. She also said that the local media would inform “all the people of Santiago de Cuba of the effects,” the causes and “the distribution of the cuts.”

Popular protests motivated by long power outages have been frequent in recent weeks. In municipalities such as Jagüey Grande, in Matanzas, up to two such demonstrations have occurred in less than a month.

Other places such as Bauta, in Artemisa, Covadonga, in Cienfuegos and Nuevitas, in Camagüey, have also been the scene of hundreds of neighbors who have taken to the streets to bang on pots and pans, with anti-government slogans and demanding freedom.

The People’s Council of Altamira is located in one of the poorest areas of Santiago de Cuba. In recent years, these neighborhoods have experienced a constant police siege, given that some activists and opponents reside in them, in addition to being the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

Translated by Regina Anavy 

____________

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 Residents of Bauta, Jaguey Grande and Covadonga Protest in the Streets Against the Long Blackouts

Three protests over power outages occurred on July 30 in different provinces of Cuba. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 31 July 2022 — At least three protests, in different provinces of the country, took place on Saturday night demanding the restoration of electricity service. The suburb, La Minina de Bauta, Artemisa; the community of Central Australia, in Jagüey Grande, Matanzas; and the Covadonga neighborhood in the municipality of Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos were the scenes of these popular demonstrations.

The protests at the Central Australia People’s Council, in Jagüey Grande in the province of Matanzas, are the second in less than a month to take place in that community. On this occasion, also after suffering a long blackout of more than ten hours, hundreds of residents took to the streets banging their pots and pans and shouting “Freedom!” and “Turn on the current, pricks!” This last one was first launched by students at the University of Camagüey last June.

In several videos that have been disseminated through social networks, protesters are seen walking the streets in the dark, some illuminated by the light of their mobile phones. From inside several houses there were also cries of support, and several neighbors managed to broadcast live during the demonstration.

In Bauta, the scenes were similar. In the La Minina neighborhood of that municipality in the province of Artemisa, residents went out banging their pots and pans in the street in the middle of a long blackout. To the cry of “Turn on the power!” these neighbors also demanded the restoration of electricity. continue reading

A very similar protest also occurred in the neighborhood of Covadonga in the municipality of Aguada de Pasajeros, Cienfuegos. Immersed in darkness, neighbors protested in the streets of this community, which this Saturday also suffered a power outage of several hours. Several reports from the place say that in the middle of the demonstrations they broke the stained glass windows of a store that only takes payment in freely convertible currency [foreign currency] and took part of the products for sale.

This type of business has been the target of popular indignation in several demonstrations, and in the protests of July 11, 2022, several of these establishments were stoned and their goods looted. Since the sale of food and toiletries in foreign currency was inaugurated, this commercial network has had to deal with criticism, even among those who support the system.

So far, no official source has spoken out about these protests, although several netizens reported the arrival of several police officers when the demonstration was over. The uniformed men asked about the possible participants in the protests and, especially, about who had “lit the fire.”

The Government continues to ask for patience in the face of the problem of lack of electricity, which reaches unusual levels. The population is aware that there is no short-term solution, since the authorities themselves have said so, insisting that, at a minimum, the burden be shared equally among everyone.

Last week it was announced that power cuts will also begin to be implemented in Havana, a city that until now had benefited from the privilege of having fewer blackouts than other areas of the country.

Translated by Regina Anavy
____________

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.

Felton, Cuba’s Largest Power Plant, Closes Again Due to a Breakdown

The Felton thermoelectric power plant’s Unit 1 stopped working on Thursday and they plan to reconnect it this Sunday. (Ahora!)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 July 2022 — The Felton thermoelectric power plant, located in Mayarí (Holguín), once again becomes a stressor for the Cuban government. This Thursday, a breakdown in the boiler of unit 1 caused its exit from the National Electrical System, while unit 2 remains disabled due to the large fire suffered at the beginning of July.

The energy colossus is again unusable, with the consequent balance of scheduled blackouts, without the officials who came to inspect the Felton plant agreeing on the date of a possible solution.

This Friday, the nonagenarian commander, Ramiro Valdés, and the Minister of Energy and Mines, Liván Arronte, along with the local governments, went to the plant to “confirm the causes of the breakdown in unit number 1” and know “the projections to put unit 2 into operation,” according to the provincial newspaper Ahora!

Valdés, who refuses to recognize the critical state of the plant, recommended “convening the best specialists in the country, mainly infrastructure builders, and having them full time in that function.”

He revealed the government’s annoyance with the delay in repairs and new incidents, which not only affect the population but also the administrative capacities of the State: “The nation invests one million dollars every three days in fuel to supply the generators that work before the exit of the thermoelectric plant,” he explained. continue reading

However, the head of Energy and Mines doesn’t share the urgency of Ramiro Valdés. Arronte assures that, since the fire of unit 2, “all the necessary companies” have been projecting repair schedules. So “we must not rush to give a time of completion.”

The minister admitted that, as for the unit destroyed by the fire, “virtually the entire boiler has to be dismantled; it’s a job that we have never done before.” To the difficulty of repairs is added the slow process of achieving the necessary “safety conditions,” since “the boiler was in a state of risk” that could lead to collapse.

According to Arronte, Felton already has 22 years of operation in its current state, which makes it necessary to do “a residual life study” of its machines. He added that numerous calculations and analyses are missing, in addition to a contact with the manufacturer of the boiler, to consider the total functionality of the thermoelectric plant.

Both Valdés and Arronte avoided detailing the recent breakdown of unit 1. However, the technical director of the thermoelectric plant, Euclides Rodríguez Mejías, explained to the local official press that “there was a leak near the upper thermal chamber, which is in the cooling process,” although, according to the operator, the causes of the breakage are not yet known.

“We predict that in the evening of this Friday or early hours of Saturday, that area can be accessed, because it’s a very warm area, with little air circulation, so you have to wait for it to cool down to make a diagnosis and then start the relevant work,” said Rodríguez Mejías.

Felton workers expect unit 1 to become operational this Sunday, while on Monday the dismantling of the boiler will begin, a “task that does not allow for errors,” due to the “damages that this gigantic structure already has.”

Slowness and precariousness at work characterize the repair process of Cuban thermoelectric plants, which aggravates the balance of blackouts already suffered by the population of the island. In the face of the crisis, local governments are implementing new programs to cut off electricity.

The governor of Havana, Reinaldo García Zapata, reported that new four-hour power outages are scheduled from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, every three days. The cuts will be made to “save fuel” and thus guarantee “fewer blackouts in the rest of the provinces, where during these months the population has assumed that burden as a result of the generation deficit and fuel shortage, exacerbated by the intensified blockade,” García said.

There will be no blackouts, according to the official, in the circuits linked to continuous production, water pumping and public health. García added that in the state workplaces “the waste” of electricity is evident, which has led to disciplinary measures. He also admitted that these measures will not be enough if they aren’t linked to a pattern of economic development that the country doesn’t yet have.

Breakdowns, lack of parts, old machines and historically awkward management of the energy sector further heat up the summer in Cuba. Night protests, increasingly frequent, are the only way to channel the despair of citizens, who are also overwhelmed by the lack of food and growing police repression.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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 Diplomats and Opponents in Front of the Castro House Museum in Galicia

Plaque installed on the door of the house before it was a museum. (Láncara House)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 27 July 2022 — The birthplace of Ángel Castro Argiz, father of Fidel and Raúl Castro, will be inaugurated this Thursday in Láncara, in the Spanish province of Lugo, as an interpretation center for Galician migration. The museum, which will be officially called Casa Láncara, has delayed its opening for two years, due to the pandemic.

Marcelino Medina González, Cuban ambassador to Spain, will be received at the town hall before attending the event, convened just 30 years after Fidel Castro’s visit to Láncara to see the humble home where his father was born. Other descendants of Castro Argiz will be at the event, in addition to the Cuban consul in Galicia, Yahima Martínez Millán, according to the Spanish radio station Cope.

This Wednesday, Marcelino Medina González was received at the headquarters of the Confederation of Employers of Lugo, whose general secretary, Jaime López, spoke to the radio station about the “internationalization” strategy of the employers’ organization and how important it is to have a good relationship with the Island for the commercial expansion of their companies.

The Casa Láncara project arose from the transfer of the house by the family to the Asociación Amistad y Solidaridad Láncara-Cuba in 2018. The signing was apparently complex, because the heirs wanted to disassociate the project from the authorities to avoid eventual changes of government from posing problems.

The only condition, apparently, was that the original house be replicated. In November 2018, the Castros gave their approval to the project, by the architect from Sarria (neighboring town) José Ángel López, who in turn presented it to the Association and Mariela Castro during a trip to Cuba.

On the part of Spain, the City Council of Láncara, the Provincial Council of Lugo, the Confederation of Entrepreneurs and the Urbas construction group have participated, while from Cuba the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (Icap) and the Office of the Historian of the Havana city. continue reading

The museum revolves around four axes: Galician emigration to America; Ángel Castro Argiz; the visits of the Castro Ruz family to Láncara; and their role in the history of Cuba. Inside there are three rooms: the entrance, which was formerly the kitchen-dining room, with characteristic furniture from the early 20th century; the alpendre (shed), where an audiovisual room has been installed; and the old stables, which serve as an exhibition area, including Cuban objects related to immigration and photographs.

In 2020, when the inauguration was suspended, the video and photographs of the exhibition area had already been made and it was expected that personal objects from the Castro family home in Birán would arrive from the Island, as well as five palm trees that were going to be planted in the exterior and that must be adapted to the climate of the Galician interior.

The house was not, at the time, the object of great interest to Fidel Castro who, after visiting it in July 1992, together with the then president of the Galician government, Manuel Fraga, said he had found that it was one of the poorest in the area. The former Cuban president was then named Láncara’s adoptive son and showed his pride in the fact that the house was not “a palace, but a very humble shack.”

Years later, in 2005, his brother Raúl also visited it.

The father of the Castros emigrated to Cuba, then a land of opportunity, shortly after returning to Spain after having served as a soldier in the Spanish troops during the War of Independence in 1895. At that time, he had to barely survive cutting cane, but he ended up owning a farm in Birán and becoming a rich landowner thanks to sugar.

The house is preceded by a plaque that reads: “In this house in 1875 Ángel Castro Argiz was born, a Galician who emigrated to Cuba, where he planted trees that still flourish.”

Two Cuban activists, Enriquez Nodarse and Avana de la Torre, arrived at its doors on July 19, announcing an “anti-communist” tour through Galicia. Both were photographed at the entrance of the Casa Láncara with the Cuban flag and a poster with the faces of the Cuban political prisoners.

This Tuesday, the Cubans approached the monument to José Martí installed in the Eugenio Granell park, on the outskirts of the Galician capital, Santiago de Compostela. De La Torre was recording a video to demand the freedom of political prisoners when the Cuban consul Yahima Martínez Millán appeared and tried to prevent the filming by covering the phone camera, at which point a dispute began when the activist accused the diplomat of assaulting her and warned she would call the police.

____________

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.

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba Company ‘Decimated’ in Spain When at Least Eight Dancers Escape

The Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba company during one of its presentations in Italy. (Nervi Music Ballet Festival/Facebook/Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2022 — The drama of the Island on the run seems not to stop. At least eight members of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba company left their delegation and stayed in Spain after finishing the presentations on their tour of Europe, called ¡Cuba Vibra!  

The digital newspaper Cuba Noticias360 reported that these who fled include several of the “main figures” of the prestigious Havana company, and identified them as Helen Rodríguez, Aldair García, Camila Leonard, Jessica Maria, Yillian Cuesta, Chabelis Herández, Lorena Flores and Luis Miranda.

Before leaving the company, the dancers met with their teacher “to symbolize a farewell and told her their plans, to which Lizt Alfonso replied wishing them luck and a good path for their lives,” reported another outlet, Cuballama Noticias, which had access to the testimony of a relative of one of the former members of the company.

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba was on an international tour on the eve of the anniversary of its foundation. The tour began on July 5th at the Deutsches Theater in Munich, Germany, and continued on the 14th of the same month at the Nervi International Music and Ballet Festival in Genoa, Italy. The closing performances took place in Spain, with presentations on the 20th and 21st at the Conde Duque Center for Contemporary Culture, in Madrid.

The tour program included a review of Cuban music and dance from the 1950s to the present day, through a two-hour show performed by 19 dancers. The repertoire of their last presentation, together with a concert band, included rhythms such as the chachachá, the mambo, the conga and the bolero, according to the cultural company Madrid Destino.

The escape of the dancers from Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba is one more example of the massive exodus of professionals, artists and athletes that crosses the Island. International tours or competitions abroad are often the only opportunity for escape that the country’s best educated young people find. continue reading

This week the escape of the Olympic medalist and world discus champion Yaimé Pérez was also confirmed , after the island’s sporting failure at the XVIII World Athletics Championships, held in Eugene, United States, where the Cuban delegation did not win any medals.

Cuban javelin thrower Yiselena Ballar also escaped from that same group of athletes, arriving in Miami, in the United States, before the competition.

Last Friday, Mario Planchet, Christian Temprano and Leonardo Acevedo, members of the Futsal Sub 20 team, also did not appear for the semifinal match between Cuba and Nicaragua, of the Uncaf FIFA Forward tournament held in Guatemala.

Meanwhile, last May, eight members of the Entrevoces chamber choir , belonging to the National Choir of Cuba, stayed in Spain, where they were touring Tenerife. Five took the opportunity to leave the group in the Canary Islands and three in Madrid.

Lizt Alfonso founded her company in 1991 and it is one of the most recognized dance schools in Cuba. She has had international performances such as the City Center in New York, the New Victory Theater on Broadway and the Shanghai Oriental Art Center in China.

In 2016, former US First Lady Michelle Obama presented her with the International Spotlight Award from the US President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Now, after a tour that she has described as “successful,” she will return to the Island with at least half of her company.

____________

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.