Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gateway to the European Union for Cuban Refugees

Refugees arrive in Bosnia-Herzegovina by bus, taxi, or even crossing the Drina River by boat.

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Nedim Hasic, Sarajevo, 6 June 2023 —  Carolina is a 50-year-old Cuban who for a long time lived between the dilemma of remaining in poverty or trying to emigrate to Europe. Today she is stranded in the far west of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a few kilometers from the border with Croatia and the EU.

“It was my husband who made the decision for us. To go to a place where we can work and earn more, not just survive,” she tells EFE at the reception center for refugees in the town of Borici.

She did not want to reveal her real name or surname, fearing for the safety of their daughter and three grandchildren who have stayed in Cuba.

Carolina and her husband, like dozens of other Cubans in Bosnia, dream of being able to enter Croatia, a country that is part of the Schengen zone of free community movement. In this way, they hope to be able to arrive in Spain one day, “because of the language,” the desired destination for many Cubans.

“In Cuba I worked wherever I could. I am a seamstress by profession. I sewed clothes in my house and also worked in a factory where work clothes were made,” says Carolina. continue reading

They arrived in Bosnia from neighboring Serbia, where they entered when Cubans still did not need a visa. They stayed there for eight months but, in the end, decided to continue on the road to the EU.

Her compatriot Maria (another fictitious name) is a physics teacher. At 43 she is the mother of two children ages 18 and 19, who stayed in Cuba.

Together with her husband, she left the Island due to the poor economic situation of the family. “We had no other choice. We simply couldn’t live with the money we brought home; it didn’t even cover our elementary needs,” she recalls.

Both Carolina’s and María’s husbands refused to talk to EFE.

In the Bosnian Office for Foreign Affairs, EFE was told that in the Borici reception center, of the 1,620 migrants registered so far this year, 713 are citizens of Cuba, including 346 women and 97 children, and the rest are mostly Afghans.

In the center of Lipa, located in the same western area but intended only for adult men, 3,253 migrants were registered this year, most of them Afghans and Moroccans, as well as 114 Cubans.

Refugees arrive in Bosnia-Herzegovina by bus or taxi, or even crossing the Drina River by boat, Cubans say. Some traveled first to Russia, Cuba’s main ally, and from there to Belarus, Turkey and finally to Serbia.

The Cubans of Borici are afraid because they receive news about “hot returns” of migrants from Croatia, or about problems with clandestine boats to cross the border River Sava.

When they enter Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cubans announce their desire to seek asylum, which allows them a month to leave since they don’t want to stay in that country, one of the poorest in Europe.

Thirty years ago, Bosnia was the scene of the bloodiest of the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, with about 100,000 dead and hundreds of thousands injured and displaced.

The Cubans interviewed by EFE point out that it was very difficult to decide to leave their country and leave for an unknown world. The key factor was confidence in a better future.

“It is said in the world that health care in Cuba is excellent. We don’t see it that way; in the end we have to pay for everything with our money,” says Valeria, another Cuban from Borici.

“Donations arrive in Cuba from abroad, but we do not see that they are invested in infrastructure or schools, nor do we know where the money goes,” says this woman, who wants to get to Germany, where she has relatives.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, located on the so-called “Balkan route” of refugees, there are currently about 850 immigrants in reception centers, most of them from Afghanistan, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.

However, the local press estimates that so far this year, more than 7,000 immigrants have passed through the Balkan country, dreaming of reaching the EU.

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

Three Dissidents Who Called for a Press Conference Are Arrested in Cuba

Manuel Cuesta Morúa during a speech at the Political Institute for Freedom in Peru. (Archive)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 5 June 2023 — Three Cuban dissidents were arrested this Monday after convening a press conference in which they intended to present a global strategy against political, gender, racial, institutionalized and economic violence in the country.

The opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa explained to EFE that he was temporarily arrested on his way to the place of the media appointment and taken back to his home, where a police team was installed in the neighborhood, presumably so he couldn’t leave. María Mercedes Benítez and Juan Antonio Madrazo, who had borrowed a house in Havana for the press conference, were also arrested.

The Ministry of the Interior has not made a statement so far on these arrests and their causes. The official media have not referred to these events either.

The three arrested were trying to present a security strategy called Shanti, backed by the dissident platforms D’Frente, Council for the Democratic Transition in Cuba and the Democratic Action Unity Committee, according to the documents they sent to the media.

“Cuba is entering a vacuum of violence that is harming individuals, families, communities, groups and sectors of civil society,” warns the press release, which says that this violence is being “blacked out by the media and poorly disguised by the rhetoric of the authorities.” continue reading

The document highlights femicides, 34 so far this year according to the feminist platforms that record them (in the absence of official statistics), “murders,” “thefts” and “daytime assaults.”

It also talks about “institutional violence normalized by the political system,” emphasizing the role of the new Criminal Code and the recently approved Social Communication Law.

The proposal, which they describe as “ambitious” work, advocates for “amnesty and the decriminalization of dissent,” “initiatives against gender violence,” “the recovery of citizen sovereignty” and “the pacification of the streets.”

It also calls for addressing “institutionalized economic inequalities,” “flagrant violations of the Constitution and laws,” establishing a “culture of respect and tolerance” and a language that does not encourage “exclusion and hatred from the State and society, and by Cubans inside and outside Cuba.”

Among the symbolic actions it proposes is an “orange march” for Human Rights Day.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

A Court Sanctions 13 Cubans With Up to Two Years in Prison for Reselling Fuel

Since the beginning of April, the Island has been going through a fuel shortage that has resulted in long lines at gas stations. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 2 June 2023 — A court in Havana sanctioned 13 people with sentences of up to 2 years in prison for reselling fuel in the midst of a severe shortage crisis that has affected Cuba for two months, official media reported on Friday.

According to a statement from the People’s Provincial Court of Havana, cited by Cubadebate, two people will serve their sentence with correctional work, while 11 more will go to prison. The minimum prison sentence is one year and four months.

In total, 15 people were tried – two were acquitted — for the crime of speculation. The sentence is not final, so it can still be appealed.

Those sanctioned, according to the court, sold the fuel on the Island’s extensive black market at prices ranging from 350 to 600 pesos per liter, that is, more than 20 times the price at service stations.

Since the beginning of April, the Island has been going through a shortage of fuel that has resulted in long lines at gas stations, which often don’t have the fuel. continue reading

This situation has led several Cubans to resell the fuel they manage to get at exorbitant prices as a quick way to get cash. The country is also going through a deep economic crisis that has been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

According to the court, they increased the framework for sanctions to 11 people, taking into account that the crimes “were committed in a complex scenario, nuanced by the shortage of fuel.”

The Cuban government reported at the end of April that the lack of fuel would continue until May due to “non-compliance by the supplying countries.”

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

In His First Public Event, Borrell Greets Cubans Who ‘Have the Courage and Ability To Take Action’

Borrell predicted that the Island could become “the Mallorca of the Caribbean” and classified entrepreneurs as “the yeast” to grow the Cuban economy. (@norges14/Twitter/Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 25 May 2023 — Josep Borrell’s first public event in Havana has been a meeting with Cuban entrepreneurs at the Estudio 50, on Lugareño Street. The representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs began a three-day visit to the Island on Thursday, focused on strengthening bilateral economic and political ties.

“I want to greet the men and women of Cuba who have the courage and the ability to take action,” said Borrell, who gave a speech before the representatives of the MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) with “three messages”: the role of medium and small enterprises in the economy of a nation, “the process of opening and modernization of the Cuban economy” and the importance of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (ADPC) between the EU and Cuba.

Borrell predicted that the Island could become “the Mallorca of the Caribbean” and cataloged entrepreneurs as “the yeast” to grow the Cuban economy. The MSMEs “are a manifestation of a model of society, a model of society based on freedom,” he said.

The diplomat, who acknowledged the serious economic crisis that the Island is going through, stressed that the EU seeks to support private micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, legal in Cuba since September 2021. continue reading

Borrell assured that the EU wants to “accompany the opening process” and “economic and social reforms” in Cuba, “from mutual respect” and with the aim of contributing to the “improvement of the lives of all Cubans.”

In this sense, Borrell cited a community fund endowed with 14 million euros (about 15 million dollars) to “help (Cuban) entrepreneurs to be better entrepreneurs,” with training and advice. He also pointed out the EU’s willingness to cooperate with the Cuban institutions to boost the economy, from the regulatory framework to financing.

This public event has been known only from the agenda of the  representative of the EU in Havana this Thursday, although by tomorrow, Friday, he is expected to participate in the meetings of the joint EU-Cuba council — which meets periodically, according to the ADPC — and to hold a meeting with the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez.

So far, no meeting has been announced with independent civil society organizations or relatives of political prisoners, although activists from the Cuban Center for Human Rights have released a list of 14 political prisoners who are on hunger strikes in the prisons of the Island, some of them arrested and prosecuted for participating in the popular protests of July 11, 2021.

Several NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, asked Borrell this week that human rights remain a priority in the EU’s policy towards Cuba.

Also an important issue is the support — exclusively political — of Havana to Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine and the attempts of these two countries to strengthen their economic ties despite the sanctions that weigh on their economies.

Cuba is also important for the European bloc because this year it occupies the temporary presidency of the Group of 77 and China (G77+China), the largest intergovernmental mechanism in the world, in which more than 130 developing countries cooperate.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Polarization in Cuba Is Part of a General Crisis, Says Academic Andres Ordonez

Mexican academic Andrés Ordóñez speaks during an interview with EFE, on May 18, 2023, in Mexico City. (EFE/Isaac Esquivel)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Mexico, 20 May 2023 — The Mexican academic Andrés Ordóñez regretted this Saturday the radicalisms in the debates on the Cuban Revolution and considered that they are not something exclusive to the Island but a trend in today’s world.

“We are living in times of polarization. That intolerance, that propensity to disqualify the other, is not exclusive to Cubans; it is part of the crisis in the West. We are in a very difficult time,” said Dr. Ordóñez in an interview with EFE.

The essayist, poet and diplomat will present in the coming days in Mexico his new book, El mito y el desencanto [Myth and Disenchantment], an essay on literature and power in revolutionary Cuba, in which he analyzes the role of writers on the Island and refers to key moments in the country’s history.

“One of the purposes of my book is not to disqualify; my interest is to understand each other from the limitations of my immigration, but also from my deep love for that country,” said Ordóñez, who was a diplomat in Havana during the presidency of Vicente Fox (2000-2006).

The author traces the Cuban literary canon in his work and ends at four of the main novelists of the Island: Norberto Fuentes, Leonardo Padura, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez and Abel Prieto. continue reading

The book , published by Planeta, pauses at key moments in the history of Cuba and takes a tour through Cuban literature.

The work considers as moments of rupture the case of the poet Heberto Padilla, who was forced to indict himself as a counterrevolutionary in 1971, and the shooting, in 1989, of General Arnaldo Ochoa, one of the most beloved heroes in the country.

“There are two very important facts in Cuban culture; the Padilla case and the trial of Ochoa and his followers. There was a rupture in the argument of the Revolution that had been so powerful, in terms of moral authority,” he said.

In referring to the art of writing novels, Ordóñez accepts that approaching works of fiction will, in the future, be a way to learn about the history of a country in which journalism is controlled by the government and only some independent media can dissent.

Ordóñez highlights in his book how the novelists Fuentes, Padura, Gutiérrez and Prieto, among others, reflect in their works of fiction the reality of the Island, but he believes that there are still issues to be addressed.

“There are gaps. For example, the great novel about the war in Angola has not been written; Padura and others touch on the subject, but indirectly. The Angola phenomenon is something that the protagonists of Cuban culture either do not yet have the critical distance to address it, or it implies something painful,” he says.

For officialdom in Havana, anyone who has a contrary opinion is a “worm,” a despicable being who is not just against the Government, but against the country.

Similar is the attitude of the radicals of the opposition, adorers of Donald Trump, who describe anyone who disagrees with them as “communist,” a major offense in their vocabulary, with whom he proposes to dialogue.

Ordóñez regrets the polarization, but he is an optimist and believes that there are people on both sides willing to open spaces for agreement and look for a better future for a country in which few things work and the leaders have a critical spirit equal to zero.

“I don’t see it as impossible (the possibility of a Miami-Havana dialogue). There is above all in the young people of the enlightened, more cultivated sector, a different attitude, each with their own point of view. It is possible to build bridges. I’m an optimist in that,” he insisted.

Translated by Regina Anavy 

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

Cuban Government Denounces ‘Cowardly, Fascist-Like Acts’ Against the Duo Buena Fe in Spain

Buena Fe’s tour of Spain began last Friday in Madrid and was to include performances in the cities of Bilbao, Barcelona, Zamora, Salamanca and Cáceres. (Buena Fe/Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 18 May 2023 — Cuban authorities said Thursday that the cancellation of three concerts in Spain by the musical duo Buena Fe, a group close to government and party circles, was due to “harassment” and media “campaigns” against them.

The president of the Cuban Institute of Music, Indira Fajardo, described the situation as “harassment” at a press conference.

“The evidence that these attacks had been previously prepared is evident, since the videos on social networks provided incitement to attack the Cuban group,” said Fajardo, according to the Cuban News Agency (ACN).

Meanwhile, the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac) expressed in a communiqué its “indignation” at the “barbarity revealed in the harassment and persecution” directed against the Cuban musicians.

“This is an attack against civility, a manifest disregard for culture and for those of us who defend the right to do our work from this blockaded and slandered island,” the text states. continue reading

Uneac claimed that the perpetrators of this campaign are “anti-Cuban elements” who “have followed the fascist script dictated by the Platista faction entrenched in South Florida.”

Cuban Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, stated on Twitter that “the harassment of the due Buena Fe and the pressures on the owners of the venues that programmed their concerts in Spain are cowardly acts, of a McCarthyist and fascist nature.”

On the same social network, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel also spoke of “harassment” and assured that “all of Cuba” stands with the duo.

Buena Fe’s tour of Spain began last Friday in Madrid and was to include performances in the cities of Bilbao, Barcelona, Zamora, Salamanca and Cáceres.

But at the first concert there was an incident: two activists against the Cuban government claimed to have been beaten — allegedly by personnel of the Havana embassy in Madrid — after shouting slogans against the system on the island during the performance.

The following day the cancellation in Barcelona was announced, which the group linked to “organizational and logistical reasons”, followed by the cancellation of their performances in Salamanca and Zamora.

“Under the pretext of defending democracy, fascistic harassment and threats have been unleashed against the owners of the venues and that has been more powerful than the songs,” said the members of the musical duo.

Created in 1999, Buena Fe is a regular at official events and celebrations of the Young Communist League (UJC). Several times it has traveled as part of official Cuban delegations to events such as the World Festival of Youth and Students.

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

Food Prices in Cuba Rose Almost 71 Percent in One Year and Much More in the Informal Market

As Cuba imports 80% of what it consumes, according to UN estimates; the depreciation of the peso is relevant in the inflationary spiral (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 20 May 2023 — Annual inflation in Cuba’s formal market stood at 45.36% in April, compared to 23.69% in the same month of 2022, fueled by food and catering, the National Statistics and Information Office (Onei) reported Friday.

This agency does not include the changes in prices in the island’s informal market, which is the largest and best-stocked, and is more prone to inflation due to the severe shortage of basic products on the island and the total lack of regulation.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 2.78% in April compared to the previous month, Onei said.

By category, the annual increase in Food and non-alcoholic beverages (70.67%), followed by Restaurants and hotels (64.91%), Miscellaneous goods and services (21.79%), Furniture and household items (21.19%), Education (19.50%) and Transportation (19.15%) stood out.

In April alone, prices for Restaurants and hotels experienced a 4.01% increase, followed by 3.70% for Food and non-alcoholic beverages. continue reading

All categories experienced annual price increases, many of them with double-digit rates. The least inflationary were Health (2.41%), Communications (0.34%) and Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (1.82%), sectors controlled by state monopolies.

This sharp price increase follows upon the one recorded in 2021, when Onei put inflation at 77.33%, and 39.07% for the Cuban formal market in 2022.

There are no data on the trends in the Cuban informal market, where some commodity prices have doubled in the last 12 months and an exchange rate of 120 pesos to one dollar is in effect. A carton of 30 eggs has gone from 600 to 2,000 pesos in Havana, when the average salary in 2022 was 4,200.

According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), inflation in the informal market reached almost 740% in 2021, the first year of the entry into force of the Ordering Task legislation. The situation improved in 2022, as prices rose 140% in the informal market, according to US economist Steve Hanke.

Since Cuba imports 80% of what it consumes, according to UN estimates, the depreciation of the peso is relevant in the inflationary spiral. Cuba has been going through a serious economic crisis for two years, as evidenced by the shortage of basic products (such as food, medicines and fuel), the partial dollarization of the economy, prolonged and frequent blackouts, and a sharp increase in prices.

The effects of the pandemic and errors in national macroeconomic policy are the main causes of this crisis, which is fueling migration – mainly to the US – and social discontent.

Translated by Hombre de Paz

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

A Study Examines the Birth of a Dialect of English in Miami Which is Influenced by Spanish

Calle Ocho in Little Havana (Miami), during carnival. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 14 May 2023 – The city of Miami lives under the influence of the Spanish language, which is spoken by a large proportion of the population. There is now being born a possible new dialect of English which uses certain expressions from Spanish, in generations which are bilingual, according to a study by the Florida International University (FIU) published in English World-Wide, a magazine which specialises in variants of the language.

On Thursday the FIU published some of the results of a study which shows that certain expressions exclusive to Miami are evidence of the emergence of an English dialect (a kind of Miami English) in the south of Florida, which is what results when two languages come into close contact.

In one case, the study shows, expressions in Spanish are being “borrowed” and translated directly into English and then used by bilingual generations.

“Carrying out an investigation such as this one, one is reminded that there is no such thing as a ’real’ or a ’pretend’ word, there are only words, and all of them come from somewhere”, said the FIU linguist Phillip Carter, the author of the study.

“Every word has its own history and that applies to all words spoken in Miami”, said Carter, who has studied spoken English in the city for a decade, understood as a variant with a subtle Spanish structural influence, spoken principally by second, third or fourth generation native English speakers. continue reading

Previously, the specialist has studied so-called “carbon copies”, which is when a speaker translates an expression literally, from one language to another.

The study reveals that this is what is happening in Miami, that is to say that Spanish expressions are being introduced into the local English language.

For example: “Bajar del carro” becomes “get down from the car”, and not “get out of the car”, the latter being the standard English way of saying it, influenced by the Spanish expression spoken in south Florida.

The phrase “una empanada de carne” becomes “a meat empanada” in place of the more common “beef empanada”, because, says the study, in Spanish it all depends on the context: “carne” may refer to any meat (including chicken or pork) or specifically only beef.

“There does not exist a single language that has not borrowed words from another”, said Carter, after pointing out that “borrowing is an unavoidable reality in all the languages of the world” and that when the majority of a population speaks two languages “you get a lot of interesting linguistic connections”.

The study includes a series of expressions in common usage in Miami in a number of English speaking groups, focusing principally on first generation Cuban Americans born in Cuba who emigrated after the age of 12, but also on second generation Cuban Americans born and brought up in Miami and who speak more English than Spanish.

Although some Spanish influenced expressions weren’t used by second generation speakers in Miami, nevertheless, they were not completely abandoned, the study concluded.

“Get down from the car” (“Bájate del auto”) and “super hungry” (“súper hambriento”), for example, remained in use.

Actually, “meat empanada” (“empanada de carne”) and “give me a chance” (“dame una oportunidad”) were used with the same frequency by the second generation as by the immigrant one.

“This shows that the Miamians rate certain phrases in different ways and don’t see them as being grammatically incorrect”, said Carter, adding that “it’s how dialects are born”.

Carter also wanted to know how these kinds of Spanish-influenced expressions were perceived by Miami residents compared with their reception by English speakers from other parts of the U.S.A.

For this he selected more than 50 sentences that Miami natives found to be more favourable than did speakers from outside of south Florida.

For example, the aforementioned “get down from the car” and “super hungry” sounded wrong to people from the rest of the country, whilst for people in Miami they sounded “perfect” or “correct”.

Carter says that the data suggests there’s a fine line that separates what sounds “foreign” from what sounds acceptable in Miami.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso

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

Spain Will Support Small Private Cuban Companies Interested in Doing Business

Headquarters of the Embassy of Spain in Havana, Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 12 May 2023 — Spain announced this Friday that it will support private Cuban micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) interested in doing business on the Island and will facilitate the pathways for potential investors.

The three pilot sectors will be food, technology and cultural industries, said the economic and commercial advisor of Spain in Cuba, Manuel Casuso, during a meeting with 50 private entrepreneurs in Havana.

The initiative, which starts this May, includes information services through the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain and the establishment of a fast track for the issuance of business visas, Casuso said.

The goal is that “they can buy and sell in Spain and invest with Spanish companies,” Casuso told EFE at the end of the meeting.

“Our expectation is that these measures will improve and strengthen the new business sector that begins on this path,” he added, emphasizing the “potential” of Cuban entrepreneurs, especially in sectors such as technology. continue reading

He also recalled the traditional presence of Spanish companies in Cuba, which support the Iberian country as Europe’s first commercial partner on the Island, and the third in the world, behind only China and Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Spain’s ambassador to Cuba, Ángel Martín, stressed at this meeting the importance of the MSMEs in the economy and showed his “support” for the initiative.

The Cuban government authorized the creation of MSMEs in 2021 after banning them in 1968, under the ’Revolutionary Offensive.’ These businesses currently exceed 7,000, according to official figures, and work in activities related to food, accommodation, beauty services and local development projects, among others.

These companies do not have access to areas considered strategic by the Cuban State such as health, telecommunications, energy, defense and the media.

The MSMEs can be state, private or mixed, and are recognized as an economic unit with legal personality with their own characteristics.

This type of economic actor coexists with the socialist state company — the main one for the State in the Cuban system — non-agricultural cooperatives, and self-employment.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

The Guitar Maker Gibson Donates Guitars to Students at Cuban Art Schools

Photograph provided by Gibson, of students of songwriting from the Cuban National School of Art. (EFE/Gibson)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 11 May 2023 — Gibson, the iconic brand leader in musical instrument manufacture, has donated 52 acoustic guitars as well as sets of strings and other equipment to students from the Cuban National School of Art, mediated by American ex-football player Derek Walker, goodwill ambassador for Gibson Gives.

According to an announcement on Wednesday, Gibson Gives, the charitable arm of Gibson, donated a hundred sets of guitar strings, guitar picks and 52 Epiphone acoustic guitars to 21 music education programmes run nationally by the school.

In addition, “in the next few months” Gibson will give 100 more Epiphone guitars to the school, which forms part of the state education system.

“The composition of Cuban songs has a rich history and a global impact; we’re delighted to do our bit to help assure that this tradition continues to prosper with the next generation”, said Dendy Jarrett, executive director of Gibson Gives.

Zulema Armas, deputy director of communications and international relations at the National Centre for Art Schools on the island, agreed that the donation was made with great vision for the future.

“By putting instruments like these high quality guitars into the hands of our aspiring artists you are contributing to the development of young talent who will be the future stars of all the main stages, thus making the world a better place through their creativity and vitality”, said Armas. continue reading

Walker, who was a professional player in the American National Football League (NFL) as defence wing, delivered the instruments and equipment personally to the students.

“I’m still very grateful to Gibson for believing in my initial vision of giving picks and strings to Cuban students. In less than one year I’m amazed that we’ve been able to donate Epiphone guitars to 21 music schools throughout Cuba”, said Walker.

The announcement added that all of Gibson Gives donations are destined to “give the gift of music”.

In the last three years, Gibson Gives, the “philanthropic arm of Gibson”, the famous guitar brand founded in 1894, has raised more than three and a half million dollars throughout the world through its mission.

“Gibson Gives believes that investing in musical education will produce better people, better leaders and a better world”, says the organisation.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso

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

Cuba and Russia Sign a Memorandum To Promote Joint Investment Projects

Signing of the Memorandum on mutual understanding for the realization of the Russian-Cuban Investment Initiative. (Russian Embassy in Cuba)

14ymedio bigger EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 5 May 2023 — In Havana on Thursday, Cuba and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding for the bilateral investment initiative that includes the business projects agreed to between the two countries with the aim of expanding their relations.

Cuba’s Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Ricardo Cabrisas, signed the document together with the adviser to the Russian Presidency for economic affairs, Maxim Oreshkin, at the end of his visit to the Island at the head of a delegation of officials and businesspeople.

Cabrisas pointed out that there is the political will of both governments to “advance rapidly” in the economic-commercial sector, according to the state Cuban News Agency (ACN).

Both officials stressed the importance of the meetings that took place between managers and businessmen from the two countries. continue reading

In their discussions, they addressed the main issues to promote the participation of Russian investors in the implementation of Cuba’s Economic and Social Development Program until 2030, in sectors such as energy, tourism, food production, civil aviation infrastructure, sugar industry and mining.

The day before, Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel and the adviser to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held a meeting in which they ratified the intention to bring bilateral economic, commercial and financial ties to the same level as political relations.

During the conversation, Oreshkin said that the main work guidelines that have been proposed for the development of economic relations between the two nations are focused on energy, the increase in tourist flow and the investments of Russian companies in Cuba.

Díaz-Canel said that the presence of the Russian delegation on the Island has “a lot of significance” and that it gives continuity to the exchanges of high-level visits held in recent months.

Last week, the chancellor of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, and the president of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, were in Havana, and previous visitors included the secretary of the Security Council, Nikolai Paptrushev, the president of the bilateral Business Council, Boris Titov, and the executive director of the state oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin.

Russia is Cuba’s second regional trading partner and Cuba’s fifth trading partner at the global level.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

The United States Keeps Cuba on the List of Terrorist Countries Despite Dialogue With the Island’s Regime

The Cuban embassy in Washington. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger EFE (via 14ymedio), Washington, 3 May 2023 — On Tuesday, the United States said it would not remove Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, despite having held a meeting with the Government of Havana on cooperation to confront terrorist activities.

“These conversations take place on a regular basis. We still are not changing our policy regarding the presence of Cuba on the list,” said the deputy spokesman of the State Department, Vedant Patel, at a press conference.

Patel said that Washington and Havana have to carry out “important cooperation tasks” because they share maritime borders, and he said that security dialogues with the Island take place from time to time.

However, he insisted that “the regime has a long history of repression against civil society and other factors that keep Cuba on the list” of state sponsors of terrorism.

The talks in question took place last Thursday and Friday in Havana, where representatives of both governments had a technical exchange on cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

They spoke about the hijacking of aircraft and maritime vessels, as well as the use of digital networks for violent purposes, according to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior. continue reading

The inclusion of Cuba on the list of sponsors of terrorism in January 2021 was one of the last decisions made by the Government of Donald Trump (2017-2021) before leaving power.

The United States then justified the measure, which entails several sanctions, alluding to the presence on the Island of members of the Colombian guerrillas of the ELN, who traveled to Havana to start peace negotiations with the Colombian president.

The Island was taken off the list in 2015, during the rapprochement promoted by then-President Barack Obama (2009-2017). Cuba was put back on the list by Trump, who during his term redoubled the sanctions on Havana and put the brakes on the “thaw.”

The current Biden Administration has made some gestures towards the Island, such as the elimination of the remittance limit for Cuba, but is still far from Obama’s approach.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Failed Reforms Complicate the Latin American Left

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has had to renew his cabinet for the second time because of the health reform bloc. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger EFE (via 14ymedio), Manuel Fuentes, Redacción América, 3 May 2023 — The leaders of the Latin American left in power are encountering serious difficulties in carrying out ambitious structural reforms of their governments. The weakness of the political support that allowed them to achieve power and the fragmentation of parliamentary representation are the main reasons, according to experts consulted by EFE.

In Chile, Gabriel Boric has not managed to get Congress to approve the tax reform and, what is more serious, the draft Constitution originating in the Convention that was going to replace the Constitution that came from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, also has problems promoting health, labor and pension reforms. The distrust of the parliamentary groups that supported him has forced him to make a profound restructuring of his cabinet, the second since he assumed the Presidency, just nine months ago.

And in Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also failed to move forward with the militarization of the National Guard, the reform of the electoral body and the modification of the regulatory framework on energy matters that he proposed.

The reasons why the leaders of the Latin American left are having so many difficulties in implementing basic elements of their political programs are diverse. continue reading

But except in the case of the draft of the Chilean Constitution, mostly rejected by a citizenry dissatisfied with the text submitted to a plebiscite, the common denominator of these setbacks is the absence of political support from the legislative power, a phenomenon that the Argentine political scientist and jurist Daniel Zovatto calls “the overnight vote.”

“I loan you the vote during the night so that you win the election and then withdraw it in a timely manner,” describes the regional director of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

“The big issue is the governance of presidential systems in the contexts of political fragmentation,” he explains.

In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led what he called “the fourth transformation,” but the structural reforms of key sectors he proposed did not go ahead due to legislative and, in some cases, even judicial rejection.

Among the latter is the militarization of the National Guard, overthrown by the Supreme Court because it is a civil security organization that cannot be attached to the Ministry of Defense.

Likewise, the attempt to eliminate the institution in charge of organizing the voting processes, the National Electoral Institute (INE), generated rejection and criticism from the opposition and the Judiciary, which could affect the presidential elections of 2024.

The reform of the energy sector, which would have benefited the state companies Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the creation of the Institute of Health for Welfare suffered the same fate.

In Colombia, President Gustavo Petro has not had it easy in Congress either, since he doesn’t have the necessary majority to achieve the approval of his ambitious social reforms.

The coalition that he had managed to form for that purpose was declared broken by himself a week ago, after noting that his project to reform the health system aroused strong resistance in Parliament.

The Government’s machinery, which worked in the first six months of its mandate, has stumbled into the discussions on health reform, which have finally precipitated a cabinet crisis that has cost seven of the eighteen ministers their positions, including those for Finance, the Interior and Health.

With those changes, Petro seeks to rebuild his support base in Congress and will try to negotiate separately with each senator and representative to the House, but not with the entire bench, as before.

Except in Mexico and Venezuela, the presidential elections in Latin American countries provide for a second round if none of the candidates reaches a sufficient majority in the first round.

And although in the ballot, the candidate who manages to attract the vote of the electorate that supported the candidates who did not pass to the second round is usually imposed, the truth is that “the Congress was constituted in the first vote.”

This is the case for Gabriel Boric, Gustavo Petro and Lula da Silva, who prevailed “with the votes given to them by those who did not want their opponent to win, but who are not from their party,” explains Zovatto.

“They come to the presidency without their own majority in the Congress or with a coalition that is a kind of Noah’s ark, due to the high degree of heterogeneity of those who make it up.”

Post-election support “is not enough later to have its own majority in Congress, and if they manage to get it, it is very difficult for them to maintain it, because their proposals for structural reforms can break up the coalition,” says the regional director of IDEA.

“And since they can’t quickly fulfill their promises of change, they begin to wear out quickly,” concludes the Argentine political scientist.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

A Strong Storm Gives the Finishing Touch to May Day Events in Cuba, Which Are Postponed to May 5

Havana was hit with an intense storm, strong winds and electric shocks that left flooded streets and other consequences. (EFE/ Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio biggerEFE/ 14ymedio, Havana, 1 May 2023 — A storm of heavy rains, strong winds and electric shocks affected Havana and other areas of western Cuba this Sunday, causing material damage in the capital and power outages. The forecast that the storm will be prolonged has led the authorities to postpone the events for International Workers’ Day to May 5.

The downpours mainly hit the Cuban capital, where they left flooded streets and a partial building collapse in Old Havana without personal injury.

In a residential building in the historic center — located on the streets of Empedrado between Aguacate and Compostela — there was a partial collapse of several balconies, and the rubble blocked access to the exit staircase to the street.

The storm is associated with the arrival of a cold front in the western region of the island, as previously warned by a report from the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet).

Some of the main streets of the capital were flooded for an hour, and the electricity supply was unstable throughout the day.

On social networks, neighbors of provinces such as Artemisa and Cienfuegos also reported heavy rains that tore off roofs and downed poles, leaving a multitude of people without electricity. continue reading

“The events for International Workers’ Day in Cuba have been postponed to May 5 due to “the climatic instability that has caused heavy rains in several territories and the forecast for the next few hours,” announced the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) [The Workers Central Union of Cuba], organizer of the event.

“In the territories where weather conditions allow it, the planned cultural and recreational activities will be held. According to the provisions of our legislation, the work recess is maintained this Monday,” the CTC said in a statement.

Cuba had suspended the traditional May Day parade in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana, due to the fuel crisis that has been affecting the country for several weeks.

Instead, a central event in the Malecón area of Havana was planned for this Monday, and commemorative activities in “communities, labor and student centers for several days and parades in the municipalities of the country had been programmed in parallel.”

The divide among the population to this postponement has been visible. In social media posts or comments on the articles in the official press, many Cubans have accepted the government decision, calling it prudent.

However, many users have recalled that a May Day had never been suspended due to rain and remembered getting wet listening to Fidel Castro’s speeches. “With Fidel it was with rain, with him as the Sun warming up the crowd. What happened to continuity?” asked  one commentator.

According to a report published on the Insmet website, the weather conditions in the provinces of Mayabeque and Matanzas have deteriorated in the early hours of this Monday.

The forecast indicates that the activity of showers and rains will begin to decrease from the early hours of the afternoon gradually in Pinar del Río, while the rest of the archipelago will be partially cloudy, with rain expected in the central region.

Winds from the south and southeast are also expected, with speeds between 12 and 22 miles per hour, and waves on western coasts could cause water accumulations in low areas, including the Havana Malecón, an area prone to flooding when these weather conditions occur.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Pavel Giroud Highlights ‘The Pain of Cubans’ Upon Receiving the Platinum Award for the Documentary ‘The Padilla Case’

Cuban director Pavel Giroud received the Platinum Award for the documentary El Caso Padilla [The Padilla Case]. (Facebook)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 23 April 2023 — Director Pavel Giroud highlighted “the pain of Cubans” upon receiving the award for best documentary film for El caso Padilla, at the Platinum Awards of Ibero-American Cinema, held this Saturday at the Ifema Madrid Palace.

“I want to thank you in the name of we Cubans who are fed up. Our country is a theme park for an ideology and a utopia, and the pain of Cubans does not have the same strength as the pain suffered by other countries,” Giroud said when collecting the prize.

El caso Padilla uses unpublished images of the self-criticism of the poet Heberto Padilla before the Union of Cuban Writers. He was arrested in 1971 by State Security and accused some who were present, including his own wife, of being counterrevolutionaries.

The Platinum Awards, organized by Egeda and the Ibero-American audiovisual federation Fipca, were presented at a gala held at the Municipal Palace of Ifema Madrid, with more than 1,800 guests and 200 accredited journalists.

The favorite of the gala was Argentina 1985, which won five awards, including best film, closely followed by the Spanish As bestas [The Beasts], which received four. continue reading

In a gala marked by the demands of historical memory, the celebration of the Hispanic and music, Santiago Mitre’s film about the historic trial of the leadership of the Argentine military dictatorship also won the award for best actor for Ricardo Darín and those for best screenplay, art direction and education in values.

The Spanish As bestas, a rural thriller that reflects on violence, won the awards for best director for Rodrigo Sorogoyen, best supporting actor, for Luis Zahera, best editing and best sound.

In Spain, the awards for best leading actress, Laia Costa, and best supporting actress, Susi Sánchez, were given for their work in Cinco lobitos [Lullaby], the debut film by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa that is about motherhood.

In the series section, the great winner was Noticia de un secuestro [News of a Kidnapping], an adaptation of the book of the same name by Gabriel García Márquez. Meanwhile, the award for the best Ibero-American comedy is shared between Spain and Argentina, since it was for Competencia oficial [Official Competition], a satire on the egos in the world of cinema directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Dupra, starring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martínez.

The Chilean 1976, a thriller drama set in the darkest years of that country’s dictatorship and directed by actress Manuela Martelli, won as the best debut film, and the Bolivian Utama [Our Home] by Alejandro Loayza, won in best photography and best music.

The Platinum for the best animated film went to Mexico, for Águila y Jaguar, los guerreros legendarios [Águila and Jaguar, the Legendary Warriors], a post-apocalyptic story directed by Mike R. Ortiz. In the series section, the great winner was Noticia de un secuestro [News of a Kidnapping], an adaptation of the book of the same name by Gabriel García Márquez, which won four awards: best series, best creator, best lead actress (Cristina Umaña) and best supporting actress (Majida Issa).

Translated by Regina Anavy

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