‘Che Guevara’ Park and Street Name Changed in Spain in Rejection of Repression of Cuba

From now on, the Che Guevara Park will be called Teresa Perales Park. (Google maps)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Zaragoza, 29 July 2021 — In Spain, the government of Zaragoza has approved, in an extraordinary session on Friday, that Che Guevara Street will, from now on, be called Ana María Suárez (a Zaragoza victim of the jihadist attack in Cambrils), while the park with the same name will bear the name of Paralympic athlete Teresa Perales.

The announcement was made during the debate on a motion of the People’s Party (PP) and Citizens (Cs), led by the government, to reject the Cuban regime’s repression against civil society demonstrations and to defend a transition towards democracy on the island.

The initiative has gone ahead with the vote of the PP, Cs, Vox and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in response to the concern for human rights in Cuba and, in particular, the ABC correspondent Camila Acosta, who was released after five days detention and is in home confinement awaiting trial.

During the debate, councilor Alberto Cubero, general secretary of the Spanish Communist Party in Aragon, defended the Cuban regime as a demonstration that continue reading

“another world is possible,” and has presented the island as an example of a country in which there is no eviction, because the banks have no more power than the Government, in the face of the “dictatorship of capital” in the West.

“Go live in Cuba,” replied the mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, adding “not on vacation” but to stay and live, if he really believes that it is a “communist paradise.”

“When he loses a few kilos, he will return to Spain and will be convinced that it is the best country in the world,” he added.

Previously, the PP spokesperson, María Navarro, had reiterated that “all those who live in communist countries want to get out of them” and that everyone who does not defend human rights and democracy at all costs is not a democrat.

“No matter how much you don’t say dictatorship, there is a dictatorship in Cuba,” she remarked in response to the left of the vice mayor and spokesperson for Cs, Sara Fernández, who added that “they have remained in the symbolism and have closed their eyes to reality.”

From the PSOE, its spokesperson, Lola Ranera, has justified her rejection of most of the points of the motion because “you have to be respectful of the Cuban people”, who are carrying out their own transition and, consequently, you have to stand with them and not use them as a “political football.”

For her part, Amparo Bella (of the Podemos communist party) has urged not entering into the “partisan use” of human rights made by the “extreme right” and has defended the correction of Cuba’s democratic deficits as the only viable and peaceful solution to the conflict.

“How easy it is to be a communist in a free country and how difficult it is to be free in a communist country!” Said Vox spokesman Julio Calvo, who said that he is ashamed to see how the Spanish “far left” parties position themselves in favor of the Cuban regime.

Likewise, the government team has given the green light to the renaming of Pedro Lázaro and Agustina Simón streets, in compliance with the Democratic Memory Law of Aragon, although the Francoist names of 12 other streets remain unchanged.

On July 25, a group of young people from the university group Alternative, from the Faculty of Political Sciences of the National University of Rosario, in Buenos Aires, demanded the revocation of the title of “illustrious citizen” of Rosario to ’Che’ Guevara, and through the citizengo.org platform published: “Out with the dictator Che Guevara from the City of Rosario.”

The petition was addressed to the mayor of the city of Rosario, Pablo Javkin, and the president of the Deliberative Council, María Eugenia Schmuck, and published on July 15. It already has 17,847 signatures, and states “Young people from Rosario support the fight for the freedom of the Cuban people.”

The promoters of the initiative note that while in Cuba “there is no free expression, basic goods are scarce and 51% of the population lives in poverty, in Argentina the authoritarian leaders who plunged Cuba into this chaos are honored and worshiped.”

For this reason they ask the political class for honesty and coherence and demand the revocation of the title of “Illustrious Citizen,” granted in 2003 by the Deliberative Council of Rosario, to a person who facilitated the arrival to power of the Castros. In addition, the ask for renaming the Plaza del Che with a name voted on by the Rosario citizenship. “Also, we request the removal of the Guevarist mural from the Plaza de la Cooperación.”

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Cuba Registers Highest Number of Daily Covid Cases: 9,323

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States, Among More Than 20 Countries That Condemn Mass Arrests in Cuba

The signatories urged the Cuban Government to respect “the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, guaranteed by law, without fear of arrest or detention.” (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Washington, July 26, 2021 — The governments of 21 countries, including the United States and five Latin American nations, condemned on Monday the “mass arrests and detentions” of protesters in Cuba and demanded respect for human rights on the island.

The declaration was signed by the foreign ministers of Austria, Brazil, Colombia, South Korea, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Ecuador, the United States, Estonia, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland and Ukraine.

The statement recounts that on July 11, “tens of thousands of Cuban citizens participated in demonstrations throughout the country in protest against the deterioration of living conditions and to demand changes,” and denounces that in the face of these marches “the Government responded with violence.”

The ministers of the countries named above also stressed continue reading

that the protesters “exercised the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

That is why they exhorted the Government of Cuba to respect “the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, guaranteed by law, without fear of arrest or detention.”

“We urge the Cuban government to release those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful protest,” the statement added. “We ask for freedom of the press and the full restoration of internet access.”

The largest protests in more than six decades occurred with the country mired in a serious economic and health crisis, with the pandemic out of control, and severe shortages of food, medicine, and other basic products, in addition to long power outages, which drove Cubans to take to the streets to criticize their government.

Cuban authorities insist on blaming the United States for both the demonstrations and the extreme shortages that the country suffers.

Translated by Tomás A.

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They March in Madrid for Freedom in Cuba and Spain’s People’s Party Joins the Demand

Of course Cuba is a dictatorship, said the president of the PP (Partido Popular / People’s Party) Pablo Casado Blanco. (@pablocasado_)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Madrid, July 25, 2021 — With the slogan “The hour of freedom has arrived. If Cuba is in the street, we are too”, the March for Cuba was held this Sunday from the Plaza de Cibeles to the Plaza de Callao Madrid.

Among the participants were the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Gauidó and the president of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, who through his Twitter account declared: “Of course Cuba is a dictatorship” and made it clear that his attendance was to “support #SOSCuba and Yotuel,” one of the composers and performers of ’Patria y Vida,’ the soundtrack of social protests in Cuba.” We are here, he said, “to seek democracy and freedom for the Cuban people.”

As a show of support, the People’s Party will present in the municipalities of the autonomous community motions of support to the Cuban people to demand that the Cuban government end the “repression” of its population.

While the regional secretary of the party, María José González Revuelta, in statements to the Europa Press agency expressed her concern about the human rights situation on the island and continue reading

rejected Miguel Díaz-Canel’s “call to combat,” she also asked for the cessation of “unjustified” violence and “arbitrary” detentions; She also joined the “call” of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) to guarantee human rights, in particular the right to protest.

Also, the actor Yotuel had organized another subsequent march in a nearby area, also in the center of Madrid; but through a video he communicated that it was disbanded. He encouraged both the Spanish “freedom lovers” and the Cubans in Spain to join the earlier march to “defend the rights of the young people who are being massacred in Cuba.”

The singer, front man of the group Orishas, has supported from Miami, where a good part of the Cuban exile is concentrated, the social protests that broke out in Cuba on July 11, shouting “freedom.”

Different organizations have denounced the repression of the protests by the Cuban authorities, with hundreds of detained and disappeared, while Justicia de Cuba [a government organ] has claimed that so far there have only been 19 judicial proceedings involving 59 people and has denied that there have been summary trials.

Translated by Tomás A.

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At the Youth Music Awards, ‘Freedom’ for Cuba was Loudly Heard

The Puerto Rican singer Farruko during his performance at the Premios Juventud, this Thursday in Miami. (Capture)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Miami, July 23, 2021 — The 2021 Premios Juventud (Youth Awards) ceremony, this Thursday in Miami, was marked by the call from Cuban artists about the situation that exists on the island after the protests unleashed on July 11th in dozens of cities.

To the shout of “Viva Cuba libre” (Long Live Free Cuba) by Emilio Estefan and Pitbull, the singers Joncien, Lena, Malena Burke and Yailenys Pérez performed Libertad (Freedom), while Gente de Zona and Yotuel Romero offered a special version of Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life), the theme that has been turned into an anthem for those, inside and outside the island, who call for the fall of the Castro regime.

Earlier, a message had been transmitted from Cuban artist Camila Cabello, wearing a T-shirt that read “Patria y vida,” who made an appeal in Spanish to American and Latin American youth to support protesters in Cuba.

“I feel very proud of my Cuban blood and even prouder of those who have taken to the streets to lead the change, despite the repression, despite the fear. Let us unite our voices with theirs, Patria y Vida!” Cabello said.

Previously, the Puerto Rican artist Farruko had come on stage wearing a T-shirt that read “Miguel Díaz-Canel singao” (motherfucker), an insult widely used continue reading

these days to refer to the Cuban president.
But one of the most emotional moments of the gala was when the audience at the Watsco Center welcomed Venezuelan artist Chyno Miranda, who appeared for the first time on television after more than a year fighting severe health problems.

The moment also marked the return of the Venezuelan duet Chyno and Nacho after their separation in 2017. The artists performed a medley of their greatest hits such as Mi Niña Bonita and Andas En Mi Cabeza, and later they sang Queriendote, the new single from their new album.

Miranda, who was always a great dancer, had serious movement difficulties due to peripheral neuropathy and encephalitis that he suffered as a result of his covid-19 infection in March 2020.

The night’s guest of honor was Puerto Rican reggaeton performer Daddy Yankee, who received the “agent of change” award for his fight against child hunger, as well as his help to families affected by the onslaught of Hurricane María.

The Colombian artist Karol G won six Juventud prizes out of the twelve awards to which she was nominated, the same number as her compatriot Camilo was nominated for, but he won none.

The interpreter of “Bichota and 200 cups” won the awards for “young female artist”, “the catchiest ” and “the most trendy”, among others, while Bad Bunny followed closely, with five awards, including two most coveted, “album of the year” and “song of the year.”

From Mexico, Grupo Firme finished with four awards, while Natti Natasha received three, and Becky G and Los Dos Carnales took two each.

Other artists who left the Watsco Center in Miami happy tonight were Puerto Ricans Jhay Wheeler and Franchesca, who were recognized as the best new artists.

In previous years, the songs performed at Premios Juventud were traditionally the most popular of the moment. However, the absence of concert tours in Latin America seemed to stimulate artists to present new music on stage.

During the ceremony, mention was also made of the collapse of the residential building in Surfside, Florida, where about a hundred people died this month, and the use of masks and vaccination against Covid-19 was urged, because it was a night in which music was not detached from the problems of these times.

Translated by Tomás A.

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On Hunger Strike, Chess Player Arian Gonzalez, Imprisoned After Cuban Protests

González was transferred to the prison at La Pendiente station, in Villa Clara, from the Camajuaní police station. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2021 — The Spanish-Cuban Grandmaster Arián González, who is also a lawyer, has been on a hunger strike for three days and will continue “as long as his health allows it,” after being imprisoned for participating in the massive anti- government protests on July 11 in Cuba.

“He is strong in his decision,” the chess player’s 32-year-old girlfriend, also a lawyer, confirmed to Efe. González has been under arrest for a week for the crimes of “public disorder” and “incitement to the masses,” which Cuban legislation punishes with penalties of three months to one year in prison.

González is currently in La Pendiente prison, in the province of Villa Clara, awaiting trial. He was transferred there from the Camajuaní Police Station, where he was held for several days.

His partner expressed concern for the Grandmaster’s health, although so far she has not continue reading

seen him “very physically worn out.” The lawyer resides in the Spanish town of Orense and traveled to Cuba in early July to care for his diabetic mother.

“We are a very close family that will never leave you alone, whatever happens,” said the girlfriend, named Massiel, who thanked the other chess figures for their support.

Regarding the next step, he commented that González’s lawyer “will do everything possible to get a visit approved as soon as possible.”

This same Tuesday, the Grandmaster Leinier Domínguez came out in defense of González, describing his colleague as a “good and decent man.” In his publication, Domínguez attacked the Government of Cuba, which he calls “macabre.”

At the moment, different groups and entities have expressed their concern about the situation of the chess player, while in the embassy and the consulate general of Spain in Havana they affirm that they are limited as they are a person who has dual nationality.

Cuban law does not recognize dual nationality for those born on the island, who for all intents and purposes are considered Cubans only within the national territory.

In the absence of official data, activists have documented more than 500 detainees since the July 11 protests in Cuba, including several minors, while religious organizations assist relatives of those arrested and bring to light harsh testimonies of people freed in past days.

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The Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba Pleads for Non-Violent Resolution of Differences

Dionisio García, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, during his homily this Sunday. (Capture)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 19 July 2021 — In his Sunday homily, Dionisio García – archbishop of the easternmost diocese of Santiago de Cuba – pleaded for the resolution of differences on the Island through peaceful means, and “never with violence and intolerance.”

“In the midst of the difficulties, the protests, the demonstrations of recent days, and because of the arrests that have been made, the repressions, the Church wants to intercede for all Cubans, for all of Cuba,” said García during his first mass following the antigovernment protests that shook various localities of the Island a week ago.

Speaking in the National Shrine of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint, the prelate said that the petitionary prayers that Sunday are “above all, that there be no violence, that the logical differences that may exist in each people may be resolved through dialogue, mercy and forgiveness, and never with violence and intolerance.”

The Archbishop of Santiago recalled that the Cuban Catholic hierarchy has advocated for the need to realize “changes that will give hope and trust to our people, who need to feel respected whenever they wish to express how they feel and view continue reading

our realities.” He also referred to changes that would help the people of the Island “to plan a better future and the wellbeing of their families, and that this may result in the wellbeing of the nation.”

García, a member of the permanent committee of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (COCC), also prayed that in the current public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, patients and the medical personnel who attend to them may have the resources they need. He emphasized the responsibility of all in the face of this situation.

Early this week, the Catholic Church in Cuba defended the right of thousands of people who took to the streets of the Island to express their displeasure with the deterioration of the economic and social situation during the unrest of last Sunday and Monday, which left one dead, several wounded, and a hundred arrested*.

In a statement, the COCC warned that “violence begets violence, the aggression of today opens wounds and feeds grudges for tomorrow that will take much work to overcome.”

Along those lines, the bishops invited “all to not energize this crisis, but rather with serenity of spir and good faith, promote listening, understanding and the attitude of tolerance, to consider and respect the other, so that together we may find ways toward a just and adequate solution.”

Pope Francis, this past Sunday, expressed his concern over the “difficult moments” that Cuba is undergoing because of the protests and called for “dialogue and solidarity” in that country, following his recitation of the Ángelus from his window at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

“I am close to the dear Cuban people in these difficult moments — in particular the families, who suffer the most. I pray to the Lord to help build in peace, dialogue and solidarity a society that is ever more just and fraternal,” said the pontiff, who has on two occasions (2015 and 2016) visited the Island.

The protests of last Sunday (July 11), the most extreme that have been documented in Cuba in the last six decades, occurred while the country is submerged in a grave economic and public health situation unleashed by Covid infections, along with a severe shortage of food, medicines and other basic necessities, in addition to long-lasting power blackouts.

*Translator’s note: Much higher numbers of arrests were reported by others.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison 

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European Union Asks the Cuban Government to ‘Allow’ and ‘Listen’ to the Protesters

Protesters this July 11 in front of the Cuban Capitol, in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio) – The High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, urged Cuban authorities on Monday to “allow” peaceful protest demonstrations and to “listen” to their participants.

“I want to ask the government to allow these peaceful demonstrations and listen to the demonstrations of discontent from the protesters,” Borrell said at a press conference after a Council of EU Foreign Ministers.

The Spanish politician explained that the situation in Cuba was not on the Council’s agenda, since events on the island had been developing in the last hours.

“I have discussed with colleagues the news that was arriving from Cuba. As far as we know, there have been important demonstrations in a significant number of cities to protest the lack of medicines, the increase of those affected by Covid, and also protests in against the regime,” he said.

Borrell acknowledged that it has been a “manifestation of discontent that, as far as we know, has reached a dimension that continue reading

has not been known since 1994.”

He noted that there have been a “significant number of demonstrations and there has also been a response from law enforcement authorities that, for the moment, has not been been of a character that has produced particularly violent clashes, according to the news I have available.”

In any case, he asserted that “everything must be said very carefully and with much attention because events may change in the next few hours.”

“The issue has not been the subject of discussion but, certainly, I want to express the right of the Cuban people to express their opinions in a peaceful way,” he stressed.

According to European sources, Borrell mentioned the situation in Cuba in the Foreign Council “without elaborating”, “without commenting” and without evaluating “in a very descriptive” or “in depth” way.

The sources justified that the discussion of the protests in Cuba had not gone further in this meeting of Foreign Ministers due to the fact that it is an “ongoing” situation and, therefore, it is “premature” to pronounce on the matter.

This “political-social” process must see “if it is prolonged or acquires a more consistent appearance” in order to be able to analyze the situation on the island with greater perspective, according to the sources.

The United Nations, for its part, said on Monday that it is following the development of the protests in Cuba and stressed the need for the authorities to fully respect the freedom of expression and assembly of citizens.

“We are simply monitoring what happens and … we want to make sure that the basic rights of the people, especially freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly, are respected,” said spokesman Farhan Haq when asked about it in a press conference.

Haq stressed that, in the face of these protests, the United Nations maintains its “position of principle” on the importance of respecting these fundamental freedoms and said that he hopes that will be the case in Cuba.

Asked about the alleged attacks suffered by journalists, including a photographer for the AP agency, the spokesman for the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, stressed that “anywhere in the world the press must be free to do their work without harassment and without violence or threats of violence. ”

Translated by Tomás A.

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Cuban Government Admits One Death in Protests That Began on Sunday

So far there is no official number of arrests for the protests. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 13 July 2021 — After several complaints from civil society and Cubans on social networks, the Government of the Island acknowledged the first death in the protests of recent days. The deceased is a 36-year-old citizen who participated in a demonstration that took place this Monday at the La Güinera Popular Council, in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in the Cuban capital.

The victim, identified as  Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, was killed during a clash between protesters and security forces, the Interior Ministry said in a note. In addition to the deceased, “several citizens were arrested” and others “suffered injuries,” including “law enforcement officials.”

Monday’s protest in La Güinera, one of the most depressed areas of Havana, was broadcast in several videos through social networks, despite the fact continue reading

that the Government has kept the internet connection cut off since Sunday.

The images only show dozens of people advancing through the streets shouting slogans such as “Libertad” [Freedom] and “un pueblo unido jamás será vencido” [a people united will never be defeated].

According to the version of the Ministry of the Interior, the protesters “altered order and tried to head towards the National Revolutionary Police Station in that territory, with the aim of attacking its troops and damaging the facility.”

Other videos shared on social networks detail several dead, injured, detained and missing. It is not known precisely how many or where, because the internet and telephone lines are cut off in Cuba, but little by little, via encrypted channels, messaging and social networks, the toll of the repression against the popular uprising is becoming known.

So far there is no official number of arrests, but activists on the island have released a list that includes, at the moment, about 120 people. Among them are prominent activists, artists and journalists, such as Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Manuel Cuesta MoruaLuis Manuel Otero AlcantaraAmaury PachecoCamila Acosta, and Henry Constantin.

Civil society has also warned that apart from these 120 people, some 5,000 have been imprisoned or are being investigated after the days of protest against the Cuban dictatorship.

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European Union Turns Down Funding to Cuban University

Karla María Pérez González, a student who was expelled from the University of Las Villas for political reasons according to the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 11 June 2021 — On Friday the European Union announced it would not provide funding for the Central University of Las Villas after the school expelled students whom the Cuban government considers to be subversive. The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) also condemned the move on Wednesday.

“It is not a given that the EU will fund this university. The EU supports specific educational projects as part of its program of worldwide cooperation,” a spokesperson for the bloc, Peter Stano, told the Spanish news agency EFE.

This week the OCDH reported that in 2019 the EU gave three million euros to the Central University of Las Villas (UCLV), which official EU documents described as “the most repressive in Cuba.” It cited the cases of Karla Maria Perez Gonzalez, who left for Costa Rica after she was expelled from the school, and Professor Dalila Rodriguez, who was fired in April 2017. continue reading

Regarding the Cuban situation, Stano told EFE, “There is a specific program for renewable energy and efficient energy use that focuses on advancing applied research in the field of renewable energy through a consortium of Cuban universities, led in Cuba by the UCLV, linked to EU academic institutions.”

Stano, who serves the EU as spokesperson for Josep Borell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the funds are channeled through the Free University of Brussels, a Belgian educational center serving the Flemish community. He added that the EU is “tracking the implementation of this project through in-depth dialogue and monitoring its progress.”

In response to questions about the situation in Cuba during a debate on Tuesday in the European parliament, Borell told delegates that the EU does not provide economic cooperation funds to organizations controlled by the Cuban regime.

“We are providing 8.4 million euros to civic organizations, 7.6 million of which are managed by civil society organizations, which by definition are not part of the Cuban government,” Borell said.

He added that 800,000 euros are managed by Cuban civil society organizations “carefully selected” by the EU delegation in Havana under the condition that they serve the broader interest and act as mediators between the authorities and their citizens.

On Thursday the European Parliament approved a resolution sponsored by the European People’s Party, liberals and right-wing deputies which called for the release of Cuban political prisoners. Members also expressed regret that the island has shown little progress more than three years after entering into a political association and cooperation agreement with the EU.

Nevertheless, Borell defended the agreement in the parliamentary debate, saying it has provided a “stable framework for a ongoing political dialogue and cooperation that did not exist before” and allows the EU to “support the modernization and reform process in Cuba.”

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Giving Voice to the ‘Self-Criticism’ of Cuban Poet Heberto Padilla, 50 Years Later

The writer Néstor Díaz de Villegas, in a moment from the reading in ’the Shadow of Heberto Padilla’. (Screen capture)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 27 April 2021 — The well-known public confession of the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla (1932-2000), which shocked the literary world 50 years ago because it was a manipulation of Castroism, has been staged in a new choral reading, with English subtitles. [See English transcript here.]

About twenty Cuban artists and intellectuals read this Tuesday, from different countries, including the island, the famous document known as “Padilla’s confession,” which the poet possibly staged in 1971 after being detained and interrogated for dissenting against communism.

In this “public blaming ritual” Padilla accused himself, his wife (also a writer, Belkis Cuza Malé) and several close friends of being “counterrevolutionary.”

The reading of the document, organized by the artist Coco Fusco from New York under the title La sombra de Padilla (The Shadow of Padila), includes voices from Cuban civil society grouped in the San Isidro Movement and the 27N (27 November).

The nearly three-hour audiovisual is presented on the internet and on the web portals of the Showroom in London, the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, the Herberger Institute in Arizona, the Pérez Museum in Miami and the Franklin Furnace in New York and the Artists at Risk Connection. continue reading

“I wanted many voices to come together as one. Cubans have many different voices, many points of view and many homes in the world. But there are stories and experiences that are shared, and this is one of them,” Fusco told EFE speaking about the audiovisual.

In the video, which, according to a statement, “commemorates the 50th anniversary of one of the decisive moments of the Cuban Revolution with regard to freedom of expression,” almost a score of Cuban intellectuals and writers from the United States and Europe present.

“Padilla’s confession shocked the international literary world. Although the Cuban government tried to use his self-flagellation as proof of his guilt, his friends from outside the island understood the act as a Stalinist-style show-trial,” says Fusco, a Professor of Art at The Cooper Union School of Art in New York.

According to the Cuban artist, born in 1960 in New York, “prominent public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Mario Vargas Llosa spoke in his defense (of Padilla) and dozens of other literary figures signed public letters to Fidel Castro.”

“Many chose to distance themselves from the Revolution as a result of the issue, ending the golden age of Cuba as a favorite destination of globetrotting leftist intellectuals,” adds the artist.

The public confession of Padilla, who managed to go into exile in 1980 and died in Alabama (USA) at the age of 68, “was a harbinger” of the period known as the Five Gray Years.

During those five years (1971-1976), dozens of Cuban artists and writers were separated from public life.

“The Cuban government’s treatment of Padilla made visible the methods for treating intellectuals and artists, and has functioned since then as a warning to those who seek to challenge state authority,” the statement said.

The literary critic Carlos Aguilera, speaking to EFE from Berlin, said, “The part that I have to read is the one where he talks about the goodness of the Revolution, and his patience with all those who do not understand it, and he ’denounces’ (the writers José) Lezama (Lima), Norberto Fuentes, César López, among others.”

According to Aguilera, the so-called Padilla Case “officially” opens the “hardest period of Castro’s necropolitics, in which no dissent was allowed.”

“The fact that Padilla has parodied or dramatized similar purges that occurred in the worst Soviet moments helped a lot, since it brought to the fore the horror of Castro’s communism and its attempts to silence an entire society through manipulation, applause and the punishment,” he said.

According to Cuban writer Antonio José Ponte, “several cameras from the official film institute (ICAIC) filmed Heberto Padilla’s speech of self-criticism,” but the film “is not shown publicly.”

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Russia Sends Cuba 253 Tons of Oil and 430 of Tons of Wheat Flour

Paolo Mattei, said that this type of assistance “strengthens the capacity of the Cuban people to respond to emergency situations.”(EFE)

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EFE / 14ymedio, Havana, 23 April 2021 — On Thursday, Cuba received a donation of food sent by Russia through the representation of the World Food Program (WFP) on the island, at a time of serious problems with supplies on the island.

The donation, which includes 253 tons of oil and 430 tons of wheat flour, is valued at one million dollars according to the official press and will go to more than 77,000 people who receive assistance through the Family Attention System (SAF) , which provides food services to the elderly, disabled and cases of insufficient income or those without family to support them.

The Russian ambassador in Havana, Andrei A. Guskov, said in the delivery ceremony that this aid is a reflection of the friendship and solidarity long maintained between the two nations and that similar shipments can be expected throughout the current year, according to the state Cuban News Agency (ACN). continue reading

The WFP representative, Paolo Mattei, said that this type of assistance “strengthens the capacity of the Cuban people to respond to emergency situations such as the current global epidemiological crisis, which has an impact on the food security of nations.”

The shortage of food and basic products in Cuba has worsened in the last year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, already suffering from a chronic crisis due to structural deficiencies and the tightening of the sanctions of the embargo applied by the government from the United States to the Island.

Last year Russia donated 5 million dollars — also through the WFP — to support sustainable nutrition in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, destined to some 16,200 people among them primary school children and older adults of the eastern region of Cuba.

In recent years, Cuba and Russia have given impetus to their bilateral relationship to reestablish the close cooperation that they maintained before the disappearance of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, with the signing of new economic cooperation agreements.

Russia is one of Cuba’s top ten trading partners.

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A Vacation in Cuba Without Leaving Your Room Can Cost Up To $600

Hotel Meliá Habana, one of the six establishments that offer “confinement packages” in the capital. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 13 February 2021 — Enjoying five nights and six days in a hotel in Cuba is now more than ever within the reach of any international traveler, with packages ranging from 250 to 600 dollars. With one problem: the guest cannot leave the room.

These “confinement packages” include airport transfers and accommodation with full board in establishments of between three and five stars, in addition to medical attention and the number of PCR tests necessary so that the client can be released on the sixth day if the Covid-19 infection is ruled out. It is the island’s response to the collapse of tourism due to the pandemic.

Since the middle of last January, the island has suffered a harsh second wave of infections: it has not dropped below 500 daily positives and on some days it has touched a thousand. continue reading

Six hotels in Havana (Vedado, Parque Central, Capri, Tulipán, Meliá Habana and Comodoro), one in Varadero (Starfish Las Palmas) and six more in other provinces (Granjita and Los Caneyes in Santa Clara, Sol Cayo Coco in Ciego de Ávila, Plaza in Camagüey, Mirador de Mayabe in Holguín and Versalles in Santiago de Cuba) have hosted clients of various nationalities who have contracted this offer since last weekend.

To contain contagions, which in this second wave were attributed mainly to travelers from abroad, everyone who arrives in the country is obliged to undergo isolation until they have had rwo negative PCR tests at least five days apart.

There are two isolation options: the free one, which is to spend at least a week in state institutions in places such as campsites and student residences, and the paid one, with one of the new packages that can be purchased online at the traveler’s origin or directly at airport arrivals.

There are two isolation options: the free one, which is to spend at least a week in state institutions in places such as campsites and student residences, and the paid one, with one of the new packages that can be purchased online at origin or directly in the room of airport arrivals.

Cubans and residents on the island can choose between both options, but foreigners who arrive as tourists or for other purposes do not have the option of going to a state center and must spend the isolation period in a hotel.

“We are promoting it through social the networks so that the client comes with the purchased package,” declared the marketing director of the state agency Havanatur, Isabel Docampo, in a meeting with Efe and other international media in Havana to explain the new initiative.

So far, most of the hundreds of travelers who have purchased one of the “confinement packages” are Cubans residing in other countries, mainly in the United States, who return to visit their relatives, according to Docampo.

There are also Cubans who return from personal or work trips, as is the case of Madeline Hernández, who this week arrived from the Dominican Republic with her family and is staying at the four-star Comodoro hotel in Havana.

“I travel for work and my company pays for the package for us, so we don’t have to go to an isolation center, where the conditions are different,” this 49-year-old woman, who works for a foreign company , explains from the balcony of her bungalow in the Cuban capital.

Although Cubans currently occupy the vast majority of hotel rooms reserved for travelers in isolation, in Havanatur they believe that their offers could also be attractive to European, Asian or American tourists who want to escape the cold and the harsh restrictions imposed in their respective countries.

“The tourist who arrives and buys the package spends those five nights and six days in isolation and, if they are negative, they can continue making a tour around the country or continue doing the program they came to do here,” says the representative of Havanatur.

Some hotels, such as the Comodoro or the neighboring Meliá Habana (five stars), never closed due to the pandemic and now house travelers in isolation, so they have had to adapt part of their facilities to the strict hygiene and security that these types of guests require.

Marino Elorza, general director of Meliá Habana, explains the basic rules to avoid contagion: “Physical barriers, such as screens and gloves on workers, maximum observance of all processes set by Public Health and continuous communication with our team of doctors within of the hotel.”

These doctors visit each guest in isolation twice a day to check their health and take their temperature.

“I always tell customers: now here the boss in the hotel is the white coat, the doctors are, because the priority is that we all take care of ourselves,” says the director of this hotel, which reserves 90 rooms for travelers in isolation, currently 22 of which are occupied.

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Raul Castro Reappears to Prepare for Cuban Communist Party 8th Congress

The former president wore his olive green suit and a surgical mask in the images on Primetime News. (Screen capture)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio) — The former president and leader of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Raúl Castro, led a meeting of the political organization in which the preparations for its VIII congress, scheduled for April 2021, were addressed, according to a report this Wednesday in the island’s state media.

State television showed images of the meeting — which began on Tuesday and ended yesterday — in which General Raúl Castro, 89, is seen wearing his traditional olive green military uniform and wearing a surgical mask.

The next congress of the PCC is scheduled between April 16 and 19, 2021, as decided last December by the Party’s Central Committee.

The last conclave of Cuban communists was held in April 2016, when Raúl Castro inherited from his brother Fidel (who retired from power 2006 and died in November 2016) the role as first secretary of the party. continue reading

In this VIII Congress, General Castro is expected to pass the leadership of the almighty PCC to the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

This was announced by the youngest of the Castros in April 2018, during his last speech as Cuba’s president before the National Assembly and it will be the first time since its creation that a civilian has led the political organization.

Since leaving the Presidency, Raúl Castro has spaced his public appearances and it is expected that, with the withdrawal from his position at the head of the PCC, he will withdraw from public life, as did his brother, the late Fidel Castro (1926 -2016).

During the meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the PCC, a proposal was also presented to update the plan of measures to confront the COVID-19 pandemic on the island, which so far has resulted in 5,898 cases and 123 deaths.

The agenda also included the analysis of several laws pending approval by the National Assembly, among them those relating to the president and vice president of the Republic, and other laws related to the revocation of those elected to the Organs of People’s Power and their organization and operation.

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"Solidaridad Entre Hermanos," an Initiative to Send Aid Directly Between Miami and Cuba

The distribution of donations will be handled by the Catholic Church and members of Cuban civil society.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Miami, 7 May 2020 — The Miami municipal government and the Foundation for Pan American Democracy urged Miamians on Wednesday to donate “basic necessity” products to help the Cuban people deal with the Covid-19 crisis through the “Solidaridad entre Hermanos” (Solidarity Among Brothers) initiative.

Donations will be collected at the Mana Convention Center in the Winwood neighborhood and the shipment will be sent to Cuba on May 16, according remarks at a press conference from Miami Mayor Francis Suárez, and the directors of the Foundation, Omar Vento and Rosa María Payá.

The distribution of the donations will be carried out by the Catholic Church and members of Cuban civil society, they stressed. continue reading

“Within the Island, we have contacted a network of churches that are willing to receive and deliver humanitarian aid,” said Payá, director of Cuba Decides. “It is a challenge to make this shipment to the Island, but [especially] in the exceptional conditions that our country is experiencing due to the insufficient response from the authorities,” she added.

Payá stressed the responsibility that exiles have, as Cubans, to help their compatriots: “A list of products will be collected that will then be sent to Cuba by sea. Among the products that we will send are detergent, soap, masks and gloves, disinfectant towels, acetaminophen, diapers, powdered milk, protein bars and canned food,” Payá said.

The foundation has requested that people donate only “products that comply with customs regulations.”

“Customs fees should be reduced or eliminated when it comes to aid. This initiative is one of solidarity between brothers. It has absolutely nothing to do with the political position of any person who wants to help. It is about helping Cubans on the island at a time of great crisis,” added Payá.

At the moment there is no restriction on the part of the Government of the United States that prevents the shipment of these materials to the Cuban population, but the Foundation for Pan American Democracy wants “to fulfill all the legal requirements that the Island demands” for this aid to go directly to the citizens.

Regarding possible obstacles that the Cuban Government can impose on the distribution of this humanitarian aid, Omar Vento was confident that “there is no reason to prevent it” although he said that “it would be very regrettable if they made that decision.”

“We have no control over the situation of the Cuban regime. This is going to be humanitarian aid without any kind of implicit message. What the regime does about it is not in our hands,” he said.

Mayor Francis Suárez, who was ill with Covid-19, said for him it is a matter of pride “to be able to carry out this event and demonstrate the solidarity of the community” from the main city of exile.

“If we are having a difficult time in the United States, the world’s largest economy, and in Miami, a city that was making tremendous progress; we can have no idea of how the pandemic is affecting people there,” added the mayor.

Suarez argued that, as in other communist countries like China, in Cuba “the severity of the coronavirus is unknown,” since the government is hiding information.

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