Guillermo Farinas Released But Will Not be Allowed to Leave Santa Clara in the Coming Days

Fariñas has been detained for two days and will not be able to travel to Europe, as planned. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 February 2020 — Guillermo Fariñas was released this Thursday after spending two days in detention during which he received support from the international community. Despite his release from detention, he will not be able to leave Santa Clara in the next few days, according to the authorities. The opponent was arrested in Santa Clara, where he resides, on Tuesday, when he was leaving for Havana to collect a visa he needed to travel to Europe, where he planned several to attend several events.

His wife, Wendis Castillo, reported his release and denounced that State Security has warned him that he will not be able to leave Santa Clara until after February 20 since they will not “allow him to sabotage relations between Cuba and the EU.”

David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, had interceded for him a few hours before asking for his release and joining the voices of several Members of the European Parliament, who spoke out before the Italian. “I call for the immediate release of Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize, arrested in Cuba. Freedom of thought is a right that no person should be deprived of,” he wrote in his Twitter account. continue reading

The opponent’s mother, Alicia Hernández, was able to visit him the day before to see him and bring him food. “They did not let him leave, he exited the house and went a few steps and they picked him up,” she said.

“They picked me up and brought me back [from visiting him],” she said, adding that her son, “is in good spirits, calm and waiting to be told why he cannot go to Havana,” she added.

The journalist Boris González Arenas was also released this Thursday after being arrested at his home in Havana, according to his wife Juliette Isabel Fernández, who  denounced the arrest on Facebook.

“Three men in civilian clothes, headed by the one who presented himself as Captain Pavel of the Police, told him, without even a poorly prepared written citation like the ones they usually present, that he had to accompany them to speak with his superior,” Fernandez wrote.

“Boris had to explain some of his failures to respond to previous subpoenas. Then they violently grabbed him, forcibly removed him from the house and took him in handcuffs. I only managed to demand the second man not to squeeze his neck with his arm. An hour later and our children would have been present,” she laments.

González Arenas was released at 8:00 pm outside the San Miguel del Padrón police station, after being held under arrest for almost eight hours, Fernández told this newspaper.

The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights condemned the detention of the reporter and described it as “violent and arbitrary.” Boris González Arenas, who in addition to being a freelance journalist is a member of the Democratic Action Unity Coalition, has explained that all the citations he has received lacked the basic requirements and did not comply with the law. Sometimes they were badly printed, others are only signed by people without specifying clearly a name and surname.


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Reporters Iliana Hernandez and Boris Gonzalez Detained in Havana

Photo of an earlier event where the Cuban police detained Iliana Hernández and Boris González Arenas during the independent LGBTI march on May 11 in Havana. (14ymedio / File)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 October 2019 — The independent journalist, Boris González Arenas, a contributor to Diario de Cuba, was arrested this Wednesday at noon by State Security when he entered the building where he lives.

Arenas González’s wife, Juliette Isabel Fernandez, told 14ymedio she learned what happened because a neighbor who was present during the arrest told her about it.

According to the testimony gathered by González Arenas’ family, it was “two civilian-dressed agents” who forced him into a police car, and did not allow him to call to notify his wife.

“We learned of the arrest by chance, if the neighbor hadn’t told me I wouldn’t know and as always happens when the hours pass and he does not come home I start to be alarmed. Right now I do not know anything else, his phone is off, he had gone out on a personal errand,” she explained to this newspaper and added that his whereabouts are unknown as are the authorities’ reasons for the arrest. continue reading

“I have had to go through this experience too many times already, like so many relatives of independent journalists, activists and members of civil society. It seems that the repressive forces want October 10 and tomorrow’s elections to be almost invisible,” Fernandez wrote on her Facebook account. “Stop kidnappings and arbitrary detentions of independent journalists and activists,” she added.

Minutes later the independent journalist Iliana Hernández was live online denouncing the arrest of her colleague when she was also intercepted by two police officers.

Hernandez managed to keep her phone on while two police officers took her to the police car. You can see her already sitting in the vehicle, when a State Security agent dressed in civilian clothes and with dark glasses snatches her cell phone from her hands.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Six Activists Prevented from Leaving Cuba

From left to right, Abdel Legrá, Boris González and Enix Berrio, three of the six activists prevented from traveling this Sunday. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 June 2019 — Cuban authorities prevented the activists Enix Berrio, Alberto de la Nuez, Fernando Palacios and Boris González from boarding flights at Havana’s José Martí International Airport for Panama City, this Sunday. The opponent Abdel Legrá Pacheco was also unable to board his flight to Colombia and the political police arrested the dissident María Elena Mir to prevent her from getting to the airport.

Berrio, De la Nuez, Palacios and González were going to travel to the Panama to participate in a meeting of the Democratic Unity Table (Muad), a coalition of opposition groups and civil society organizations. However, officials of the Directorate of Identification and Immigration and Immigration in Cuba (DIIE) informed them that they are “regulated” — the government’s euphemism for not being allowed to leave the island — González explained to 14ymedio.

“Castroism blocks our exit, as it has blocked our freedom for six decades,” González denounced in his social network account on Facebook, where he also published a photo in which he is seen with Berrio and Legrá a few yards from the points of immigration control at the airport. continue reading

Berrio, spokesman for the opposition coalition, explained to this newspaper that the suspension of this trip does not paralyze the organization’s plans. “Muad will hold its meetings separately, one part in Panama and the other in Cuba, so we will continue working,” said the historian and economist.

Another participant in the meeting in Panama, the activist María Elena Mir, was arrested on Saturday by members of the State Security who told her that she could not leave the country. In addition, they blocked her mobile phone until Sunday afternoon so that she could not make or receive calls.

For his part, Legrá, who wanted to travel to Bogotá, also received a refusal at the immigration window. The activist was one of the more than 650 dissidents who presented themselves as candidates for constituency delegates during the People’s Power electoral process in 2017, but State Security pressures blocked them.

In January 2013, an immigration reform came into effect that considerably eased the procedures for traveling outside the Island, eliminating the previously-required “exit permit.” However, over the years the Government of Raúl Castro and, later, that of Miguel Díaz-Canel has lengthened the list of opponents who can not leave the country.

Initially, to prevent them from traveling, State Security used the arbitrary arrests of the dissidents, hours before their planes took off, or intercepted the vehicle in which they were traveling to the airport and kept them detained until their flights had left.

In the last year, however, the strategy of informing them that they are “regulated” when they are about to pass through the immigration window has become more common.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, based in Havana, has repeatedly denounced the use of travel restrictions as a repressive measure against opponents and activists.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Opposition Alliance Calls To Open An Inclusive National Dialog / 14ymedio

Cuban activists founding the MUAD. (14ymedio)
Cuban activists founding the MUAD. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 December 2016 – The Democratic Action Unity Roundtable (MUAD) has made a call to open a national dialog a few days after the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The opposition alliance believes that the country is entering a new stage in its history, according to a declaration signed by its spokesperson, Boris Gonzalez Arenas.

MUAD said that for many Cubans the memory of the political leader is marked by “injustices and inhumane detentions” and the “unjustifiable loss of human lives.” The statement also references the “uprooting suffered” by thousands of islanders “on seeing themselves forced to abandon (…) the land in which they were born.” For these people, Fidel Castro will remain “a totalitarian dictator” the document emphasized.

However, for other Cubans he will always be considered as the ruler “who opened the doors and gave them opportunities for themselves and their families that they did not have before the revolutionary process initiated in 1959.” In the memories of this part of the population Castro will remain “the hero, the father, the ‘at your orders’ Commander in Chief,” the statement says.

The declaration focuses on “a new generation of Cubans” who have “their own interpretation of our history and our reality.” They are individuals with “desires for a respect for diversity of thinking and for freedom,” and who dream of “a truly plural Cuba with respect for human rights and oriented to the benefit of all.”

The challenge for the current government is to put into practice “a set of measures that really impact the economic and social environment” and that allow “wide participation of all Cubans, wherever they are,” MUAD emphasizes.

The renewal of the national legislative political order also is called out as an urgent matter, in the document made public by the opposition coalition.

“The only path we have to achieve all the economic, social and political transformations that we want for Cuba is an inclusive dialog,” says the final paragraph of the statement.

MUAD brings together more than thirty independent civil society organizations. In the middle of this year the alliance suffered a serious reversal with the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), the largest opposition organization in the country, left its ranks. The same thing occurred with the United Anti-Totalitarian Front (FANTU), led by Guillermo Fariñas.

Biologist Ruiz Urquiola Arrested for Demanding Medicine for His Sister / 14ymedio

Biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola on hunger strike to demand medical treatment for his sister. (CubaNet)
Biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola on hunger strike to demand medical treatment for his sister. (CubaNet)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 November 2016 – On Sunday morning, the police arrested for the third time this week the researcher and marine biologist Ariel Urquiola, who has been holding a peaceful protest in front the National Oncology and Radiology Institute (INOR) since Thursday. He is demanding medical treatment for his sister, Omara Isabel Ruiz Urquiola, who is suffering from cancer.

According to what this newspaper was able to confirm, the specialist remained under arrest until five in the afternoon.

Shortly before his arrest he was received at the Oncological Hospital by its director, Dr. Luis Alfonso Curbelo, who notified him that the drug for his sister had arrived and would be administered this coming Tuesday. continue reading

Urquiola was dissatisfied and incredulous with this response and believes that, given that all this time the patient has been injecting herself, the only thing they had to do was to give her the drug this Sunday or Monday, and so he decided to continue his protest until the matter is truly resolved.

As reported to this newspaper by Oscar Casanella, at three in the afternoon on Sunday, after an interrogation at the police station located in Zapata and C, Urquiola was taken to the emergency room at Fajardo Hospital where he was given a physical examination to determine that he had no injuries.

In communication with 14ymedio, Urquiola’s sister explained that so far he has not been allowed to see his family for the duration of the arrest. “The officer in charge of this case is named Raul with a badge number 03734. I have told them I have nothing to talk to them about until they permit me to see him,” she said, shortly before he was released.

Urquiola’s sister suffers from invasive ductal carcinoma which is treated with two monoclonal antibodies every 21 days. For the completion of this immunotherapy she has lacked Trastuzumab (Herceptin).

The drug, which has been supplied for more than 20 years by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), is manufactured by Roche pharmaceuticals. According to the family of the patient the absence of this drug is attributable to the Ministry of Public Health and the representation of the Swiss firm in Cuba.

Since Thursday, Ariel Urquiola has not taken food or drink and has been accompanied days by several civil society activists in solidarity with his demands. Among them are Gorki Águila, Eliecer Avila, Rudy Cabrera, Oscar Casanella, Claudio Fuentes, Antonio González Rodiles, Ailer González, Boris Gonzalez and Yanelis Nunez.

Biologist Ariel Urquiola, D.Sc., was expelled from the University of Havana after being deprived by the administration of his scientific project, arguing that he was not “trustworthy” because of his political leanings.

In the afternoon, the biologist was released, but vowed to continue his hunger strike until the reasons why he initiated it are resolved. However he agreed to withdraw from the site he had occupied in front of the hospital.

The Spy’s Retirement / 14ymedio, Boris Gonzalez Arenas

Raul Castro in February 2015 honored as heroes the five Cuban agents convicted in the US for espionage. (Revolution Studios)
Raul Castro in February 2015 honored as heroes the five Cuban agents convicted in the US for espionage. (Revolution Studios)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Boris Gonzalez Arenas, Havana, 11 August 2016 — My friend Adriana Gutierrez suggested I write this, only asking that, out of respect for her father, I change the names. She has lived in Spain since 2007, when she went to do a degree that also offered the occasion to stay and live outside of Cuba. Her father and mother remained in Cuba. Let’s call her dad Anibal Ochoa to use the last name of his great friend Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez, the general executed or murdered, or both as it appears, in 1989. Adriana and her father don’t have the same last name because he wasn’t her biological father, but the man who took on caring for her and did it in the best way he knew how, considering that she was also his only daughter.

Anibal spent his whole life as an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and his specialty was to plant spies in Spain to travel around the rest of Europe or, to continue with the language of farming, to harvest them when they were totally worn out and return them to Cuba with false identities and all kinds o technical intricacies.
continue reading

He was also a racist who despised his daughter’s black lovers, when she had them, and was macho enough not to rest until his wife, Adriana’s mom – let’s call her Leonor – left her job as a nurse to devote herself to being a housewife. She was a woman who spoke in a measured way and smiled more with her eyes than with her mouth. A beautiful smile that she passed down to Adriana.

Even after retirement, Anibal went to the Foreign Ministry to advise new diplomats in the art of shaking hands without giving away the knives up their sleeves and smiling discretely so as not to show their fangs. But, as his era coincided with the aggressive years of the Cold War, a time when a Cuba financed by the Soviets lacked the intelligence to profitably manufacture a pencil, although it played at being a military power, Anibal’s advice seemed more like funny anecdotes than plausible directions. Anibal, who was no fool, quickly understood and, as he had his pride, he ended up distancing himself from Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.

Almost simultaneously his wife died and his two grandchildren were born in Seville. Retirement did not suit him and slowly he slipped into the old age of an ordinary Cuban, making him a man dependent on help from his daughter.

Shortly after being widowed he returned to Spain for the first time after two decades. He feared being denied a visa, something that his former enemies were in charge of and that emphasized his current impotence. But none of this happened and he got the visa. He was there three months and when he returned we talked a lot. He was happy, and in addition, as expected, he had slimmed down and his skin cleared up. Then there was a second visit and he stayed a year, and eventually he stayed for good.

Two months ago Anibal died of a heart attack at 79 and took his secrets to his grave, some of which he regretted and so decided not to share with anyone, even after so much time and distance from his career as an official, a diplomat and a spy.

Adriana said that Anibal once commented he had been used. Perhaps he also thought about Arnaldo Ochoa and concluded that he had had better luck than his deceased friend. At the death of the Cuban general, Anibal was out of work for some time, understanding nothing and unable to pretend that he did. They say that something happened to Raul Castro at this time that only aggravated his alcoholism. Later, Anibal recovered and took up his previous duties, which would never be the same, because the death of the Cuban general coincided with the end of Soviet socialism and, still unable to produce a pencil, the Cuban state sank too deeply into misery to support any James Bonds.

In Spain, Hannibal used to be welcome to sit in outdoor cages, which he also did in the 70s and 80s, but he was too self-absorbed and distrustful to enjoy anything.

Hannibal had a peaceful death, surrounded by his daughter and grandchildren as he always wanted, in the country he treated throughout his working life as an enemy and where he settled, in retirement, as a home.

Ivan Hernandez And Felix Navarro Prevented From Leaving Cuba “A Second Time” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. (Twitter / @ivanlibre)
Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. (Twitter / @ivanlibre)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 August 2016 – Cuba’s immigration authorities prevented activists Ivan Hernandez and Felix Navarro from traveling outside Cuba this Thursday. The former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring were invited to participate in the 2nd Cuban National Conference that be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 12 to 14 August, but were unable to board their flight at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where they ran into Reinaldo Escobar, 14ymedio’s editor

The answer that each of the dissidents received on presenting their documents to the Immigration and Nationality official was: “You cannot leave a second time.” continue reading

Both Hernandez and Navarro had received, in March of this year, special permission to go abroad “one-time” after being placed on parole, a condition the authorities continue to maintain since release from prison in 2011. All those released from the Black Spring “Group of 75” who continue to reside in Cuba benefited from a similar authorization.

The opponent Librado Linares, also a former prisoner of the Black Spring and general secretary of the Cuban Reflection Movement (MCR), did manage to board his flight on Thursday to participate in the meeting of Puerto Rico, since it was the first time he made use permit leave the Island.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) recently sent a letter to Raul Castro expressing “deep concern” about the “violent treatment” received by the trade unionist Ivan Hernandez on his return to Cuba after his first trip abroad.  He traveled on the same flight as the opponent Vladimir Roca and attorney Wilfredo Vallin, of the Law Association of Cuba.

Hernandez was arrested on July 31 and reported that he received a “savage beating” when he refused to be subjected to a search at the time of arrival. During his trip abroad he met with organizations and activists from Europe and the United States.

Both Hernandez and Navarro cataloged the “injustices” and said they will continue trying to assert their right to travel freely.

The Cuban National Conference is a continuation of one held last year, which involved 23 organizations in Cuba and 32 from exile. It has been convened by the Coordinating Liaison Committee composed of Ana Carbonell, Rosa María Payá, Sylvia Iriondo, Guillermo Farinas, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva, Rene Gomez Manzano, Mario Félix Lleonart and
 Saylí Navarro

Among the participants in the conference traveling from Cuba are also Eliecer Avila, leader of Somos+ (We Are More) and Boris Gonzalez, a member of the Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD). The great absence the meeting will be Guillermo Fariñas, who remains on hunger strike in Santa Clara.

In the early hours of Thursday, Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herrería was arrested while traveling from Matanzas to Havana to take the flight that would also have taken her to the conference in Puerto Rico, according to the leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler, speaking to this newspaper. The activist was returned to her home where she is under police surveillance.

Event organizers want to use this 2nd Conference to create a “structure of unity of action in diversity,” whose purpose is to “operate inside and outside Cuba, coordinating the efforts of both shores.” In addition, they discussed “the general principles of the new Cuba” desired, an issue that was left pending at the previous meeting.

“Otro18” Elections Project Presented in Madrid / 14ymedio

Otro18 (Another 2018) was presented at the Madrid Press Association on Thursday 31 March. (14ymedio)
Otro18 (Another 2018) was presented at the Madrid Press Association on Thursday 31 March. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 31 Mach 2016 – Like “a small crack in the Cuban political system” from which an opening coming. Thus did the attorney and activist Rolando Ferrer define the Otro18 (Another 2018) project during a meeting with journalists this Thursday at the Madrid Press Association. Four of the promoters of this process travelled from the island to present in Spain this initiative that promotes reforms in laws addressing elections, association, political parties and others.

Opponents are seeking, with their proposals, to influence a democratic opening that would take effect in Cuban with the elections to be held in 2018. This was emphasized by Ferrer, a member of the Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), as well as by historian Boris Gonzales continue reading

, Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) activist Yusmila Reyna, and opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morua. All of the participated in the press conference this morning, accompanied by the exiled journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner.

With the support of 45 independent organizations inside and outside of Cuba, the initiative demands that the international community follow the situation on the island. “The process of reforms initiated in Cuba should address not only the economic, trade and investment sector, but also the political sector,” Cuesta Morua declared this Thursday.

“We have included a candidate’s right to campaign,” declared Ferrer, in response to a question from 14ymedio about a possible reform that would allow candidate to campaign for votes. “We want to facilities the candidates having a work plan, proposals that they could take to the citizens, and we also want to insert independent candidates,” he added.

“Currently in Cuba the only access the voter has is to the candidates’ biographies, through their past, and this is not a program,” added Boris Gonzalez. To publicize the proposal among Cubans, Cuesta Morua believes that they have to try to reach the citizenry, so it will be perceived as a citizens’ initiative.

The proposed electoral reform, Reyna noted, “was already presented to the National Assembly” and now they are awaiting a response. Right now they are “training independent candidates, who are nothing more than social activists who have a certain popularity and recognition, in addition to the slanderous campaign that the government has undertaken against them,” he added.

“The Spanish transition [from dictatorship to democracy] was a process that favored going from the law to the law,” said Cuesta Morua, who has asked for Spain’s involvement in the process. Spain “has supported the process of the restoration of democracy in Venezuela and could do the same with Cuba,” he added. The European Union “in its political dialogue with the Cuban authorities should ask that they respect the will of thousands of citizens who are demanding free, fair, democratic, competitive and internationally observed elections.”

Cuesta Morua, the leader of the “Progressive Arc”, has stated that “this is a political proposal” and a “a project directed to the citizenry,” and he distanced himself from the process of electoral changes “made to order by the power,” which the government is pushing. The promoters of Otro18 are seeking that it be possible that “citizens can choose not only vote,” he said.

The opponents also stressed that the three strategic demands of the project are the demands for “an independent national electoral commission; that citizens can choose without the mediation of the national commission nomination; and at the same time that the President of the Republic is directly elected.”

The management group of the project is currently made up of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), United Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), Cuban Youth Roundtable (MDJC), Progressive Arc Party, Citizens Committee for Racial Integration, Center for Support of the Transition, and the Cuban Law Association, but its promoters say they are open to the “incorporation of other civil society organizations and independent actors.”

Cuesta Morua insisted that this is a political process, not one more a Latin American revolution, and it is intended to allow the citizenry to assume their rights and choose who will be their representatives.

The opponents did not shirk the thorny issue of the unity of the opposition and organizations that have not joined the Otro18 project, such as the Christian Liberation Movement and the Ladies in White. Cuesta Morua said that “the perception of disunity no longer represents the current reality of how the opposition is organized in Cuba” and called the present time a “mature stage.”

“Today more than yesterday, the opposition is working together, coinciding in many respects and has put any irreconcilable differences in the past to work on concrete proposals for democratic change,” said Cuesta Morua.

The opposition denounced pressures, “threats and the confiscation of working tools” against the promoters of the initiative and cited the arrests that occurred around the first Forum of the initiative, held in early March at the home of an activist in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana.

Campaign #Otro18 Holds First Forum in Cuba / 14ymedio

The lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer during the press conference for the #Otro18 campaign. (14ymedio)
The lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer during the press conference for the #Otro18 campaign. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2016 – On Wednesday, the Civic Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018) held a press conference and its first forum in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana under the theme “For Freedom of Choice” with twenty people in attendance. The initiative promotes several proposals to influence the elections in 2018 for a democratic opening in the country.

Several independent media and foreign correspondents based on the island attended the forum from 9:35 in the morning, to the press conference organized at the home of activist Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, coordinator of the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration. The activist Boris González Arena presented the initiative and gave the floor to lawyers Amado Calixto, Wilfredo Vallin and Rolando Ferrer, who explained the legal details on which the project is based. continue reading

The meeting with journalists went smoothly and without a visible police operation around the site. The managers of the initiative showed a copy of the proposals presented last 8 March in the National Assembly of People’s Power which was received and acknowledged by the authorities.

The organizers explained that, so far, the intiative’s management group is made up of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID), United Antitotalitarian Forum (FANTU), the Roundtable of the Cuban Youth (MDJC), the Progressive Arc Party, the Citizens Committee for Racial Integration, the Center for Support of the Transition, and the Cuban Law Association. The Forum says that it is open to the “incorporation of other civil society organizations and independent actors.”

Among its proposals are: the elimination of current Candidacy Commissions and the Nomination Assemblies (both controlled by the ruling Party); recognition of the right of any citizen to stand as a candidate; and restoration of the election of the president of the Republic by popular vote and secret ballot for a term of four years.

Proposed electoral campaign #Otro18 delivered to the National Assembly of People's Power on 8 March.(14ymedio)
Proposed electoral campaign #Otro18 delivered to the National Assembly of People’s Power on 8 March.(14ymedio)

When asked how they take the accusation made by other sectors of the opposition that the electoral alternative “plays into the hands of the dictatorship,” Amado Calixto suggested reviewing the process of “the Spanish transition, which ended a dictatorship through existing law.” Ferrer, meanwhile, explained that now came a phase of work of building “awareness and popular mobilization to gather support and pressure the government to make the proposed reforms.”

After the press conference, the forum, currently still in session, began with presentations and including Citizenship Revisted: The Plural Vote by Manuel Cuesta Morua; Citizen Mobilization, by Rolando Ferrer; and Election Observation: A Civil Society Monitoring Tool, by Madrazo Luna.

During the day on Tuesday, several dissidents were detained to prevent them attending the #Otro18 Forum. Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, still remains missing after being arrested Tuesday by police in the Cuban capital.

Other members of the opposition were prevented from leaving their province to attend the event, as in the case with Suleidis Perez Velazquez and Pedro Pablo Serafin Reyna, members of Independent and Democratic Cuba.

Children Without Milk / 14ymedio, Boris Gonzalez

Dairy in Cuba
Dairy in Cuba

Moooooo (White Udder)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Boris Gonazales, 7 October 2015 – My son will be seven years old this Thursday, October 8. For decades, seven has been the age chosen by Fidel Alejandro Castro and maintained by his brother Raul Modesto for Cubans to stop drinking milk.

Every ten days a Cuban child under age 7 receives 2.2 pounds of powdered milk for the price of 2.50 in Cuban pesos, about 10 cents in US dollars. The minimum Cuban wage is around $10 a month, and the average is about $18 a month, and however prices are adjusted for markets around the world, you can see it would be impossible for a Cuban worker. In Spain and Brazil it is possible to buy a quart of milk for the equivalent of $0.70 on the US dollar, but such a figure approaches a day’s wages for a Cuban teacher. continue reading

Outside this milk quota received by my son, which he shares with his older sister, Cubans who want to drink milk or give it to their children or parents, have to buy it in the market in dollars. But there the price of milk far exceeds what is charged for children under seven, and also exceeds what it costs in most markets in the world. More than four times what it costs abroad, and a quarter of the Cuban minimum monthly wage. The milk sold at such a price is often already expired on the shelves. As of age seven, not even Cuban children can drink milk, nor will they be able to do so for the rest of their lives.

The times of White Udder are past, she was a cow with a tumor and the attention of one no less damaging than Fidel A. Castro. In the ‘80s she broke the world record for the most milk produced in a day. They say the comandante paid filial attention to the beast, making her into a star of articles, documentaries, frequent visits from specialists from around the world and, according to a computer engineer who emigrated, it was an honor in those years to be invited by Fidel A. Castro to toast with a glass of milk from those diseased udders.

It is known that the comandante’s passions were, for decades, objects of national worship. The Yankees were hated until last 17 December, Celia Sanchez was the truest flower, PPG – a pill to regulate cholesterol – came to rub shoulders with the rest of the national symbols, and five spies charged with involvement in murder were made into heroes.

Aside from delirium, to exalt the Cuban dairy industry was a propaganda move. The Revolution had triumphed, among other things, to bring a glass of milk to every child and one cow was enough to meet this ambitious goal, according to the logic offered by the Party leader. If we consider that the Communist organization emphasized greed more than bringing together members who believed in the supposed aims of the Revolution, we can understand why this particular heroine is stuffed in a livestock research institute like Lenin in his mausoleum.

There is a clear difference between wanting a good and desiring to be the one who appears good. This goal explains a great deal of Castroism. While supporting a costly and unproductive livestock industry with Soviet subsidies and providing every child and more than a few adults with a glass of milk, Fidel A. Castro appeared on an ongoing basis as a kind of godfather to the industry. Hence his strutting about with White Udder and his delirious references to her in his interminable official speeches.

Our entire cattle industry collapsed at the beginning of the nineties, the age of children eligible for subsidized milk was cynically reduced to six years, fresh milk was no longer distributed, and Fidel A. Castro never again appeared at any site related to the subject.

If a glass of milk for every child had really been of interest to the Castro regime, they would have long ago relaxed the state monopoly over cows, and reduced the prison sentences of those who go looking in the black market to compensate for its lack. None of this has happened and our children, my son among them, wake up without milk on the day they turn seven.

Another Sunday of Beatings for the Ladies in White /14ymedio

Antonio Rodiles after his arrest. (Ailer González)
Antonio Rodiles after his arrest. (Ailer González)

14ymedio, Havana, 6 July 2015 — The project director of the independent Estado of Sats project, Antonio Rodiles, underwent emergency surgery Sunday for a nasal bone fracture after being detained and beaten by security forces in Havana while participating in the weekly march of the Ladies in White. Opposition sources reported that about 80 members of that organization and human rights activists were arrested, sometimes violently.

The regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque reported through her Twitter account of the arrest of Rodiles on 42nd street and 3rd Avenue in Miramar, adding that he was, “Beaten until his nasal septum, forehead, finger and foot were all broken,” and taken to the hospital Calixto García for emergency surgery. He was then transferred to the prison known as Vivac, where he remained until 6.30 pm. continue reading

At least 20 people were arrested before reaching Santa Rita Church, including Rodiles, photographer Claudio Fuentes and dissident Jose Diaz Silva.

About 60 Ladies in White managed to reach the church and march down Fifth Avenue, before being arrested with their leader, Berta Soler. A reporter for this paper, Boris Gonzalez Arenas, was also arrested later, as were former political prisoners Egberto Escobedo and Angel Moya, according to activist Ailer González’s Twitter account.

Security agents also conducted operations in Aguada de Pasajeros in Cienfuegos, where the pastor restricted the Ladies in White from attending Sunday Mass.


Roads to Democracy for Cuba / 14ymedio

Conference participants gathered in Mexico. (14ymedio)
Conference participants gathered in Mexico. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 20 June 2015 — The second edition of the event Roads for a Democratic Cuba is taking place in Mexico from 18 to 23 June 2015 under the auspices of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA). Participating in this meeting are dozens of political activists and civil society leaders of the Island and the Diaspora. The event will continue through the weekend and until next Tuesday.

Among the topics discussed on the first day is the impact on the Island of everything related to the talks between the governments of Cuba and the United States for the purpose of restoring diplomatic relations. Other areas to be discussed are the options of the opposition, various proposals before a new Cuban Electoral Law and ways to strengthen Cuban civil society. continue reading

Among the participants from the island are Dagoberto Valdes, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Vladimiro Roca, Laritza Diversent, Juan Antonio Madrazo, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, Wilfredo Vallin, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Rosa Maria Rodriguez, Rafael León Rodríguez, Guillermo Fariñas and Boris Gonzalez Arenas.

The first meeting of the event was held last December 2014 in the Mexican capital. At that meeting they talked about the diversity of peaceful means to fight for democracy, the role of exile and the importance of identifying the minimum points of consensus to move forward, if not in the desired unity, at least in arranging purposes.

Conference participants gathered in Mexico. (14ymedio)
Conference poster for this year’s meeting.

The Keys of Time /  Boris Gonzalez Arenas

Photo: Jose Garcia Poveda
Photo: Jose Garcia Poveda

This photo has come to me somehow, has opened a door and I could see, within what I have at home, the formation of the rooms that I’ve designed in the last twenty years with the help of my country. The photo came accompanied by a text attributed to a gentleman called Jose Garcia Poveda, alias “el Flaco” — Slim — a foreigner who came to Cuba in 1990.

That year, synonymous for so many Eastern European countries with a wall that collapsed to leave men and women face to face, recognizing themselves as equals, for Cubans is synonymous with an uncertain drift between homelessness, frustration and death.

In 1990 I was fourteen and the director of Raul Gomez Secondary School, a good man — I believe I remember that well — assured me that the Food Program, a new mobilization strategy for agricultural production, would soon give amazing results, to the point that stamped on the back of the twenty peso banknote was a representation of the men and the technique of getting the fruits augured by the new plan.

But I’m not the kid with the plastic container nor the girl with the big shirt in this extraordinary photo, nor am I the cloud in the background nor the calm sea, that seems to wait for the stampede that will turn it into a more or less solid highway for a people seeking a destination. I am not the sole of the shoe without laces, nor the fly-away curls, nor the resting open hand as if asking the photographer not to go there, to continue waiting, that the work just started like the life in front of him and he, with his camera, can be the unique witness to what is coming.

The image suggests a photographer caught off guard, uncoscience of having his back to the storm and stuck in the middle of the field of view of his own lens.Unaware that in a country of cyclones this is not the first time that the tornado has formed over land and that, to reach these children, because no one will be saved, it will pass over his body until he can no longer recognize himself in the mirror.

A great work of “el Flaco,” if the note attached to the image is true. If today he took a photo of the same intensity, what should the hand gesture of this girl anticipate for the future of our country? What should the horizon suggest, divided between the big city and the open space? Knowing that I can just put the answer I want, I would like her hand gesture to be an omen of a nation with judgment and authority, and on the horizon there should be a magical reunion of reconciliation, essential to having a future less dramatic than what 1990 opened in my country.

9 March 2013