In Search of Lost Power, Cubans Recharge Their Phones in Hospitals and Hotels

Almost a hundred people were waiting to connect their mobile phones to the electricity at the Inglaterra hotel. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 28 September 2022 — One of the main urgencies of Cubans this Wednesday, after the passage of Hurricane Ian, which has devastated the western end of the island and has caused the collapse of the already precarious national electrical system, is to get electricity by any means.

In Havana, the crowds in the corridors of hospitals, such as Calixto García or Hermanos Ameijeiras, whose current was maintained thanks to generators, were striking. People were not there to visit sick relatives but to connect their phones and keep them working.

Similarly, almost a hundred people gathered at the entrance of the building adjacent to the Inglaterra Hotel, in Centro Habana, with their cell phones connected to numerous extensions. These, in turn, were connected by means of a flip-flop to the electricty of the hotel, which has also continued to work with its own generators.

As the minutes passed, those waiting began to get nervous. “This doesn’t work. They say it’s free, but the solutions of socialism are always problematic,” a young man was heard saying as he gave up waiting for his turn in the long line.

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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: Anxiety Over Food, Electricity and Emigrating Following Hurricane Ian

Dozens of large trees, uprooted by Hurricane Ian, remain strewn on the street in Havana on Wednesday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 28 September 2022 — In La Coloma (Pinar del Río), where Hurricane Ian reached its maximum strength on Tuesday as it passed over the Island, people just want to leave. “If my family comes out of this one, they won’t stay more than six months in Cuba,” bemoans a Miami-based Cuban woman whose parents and brother live in the Pinar del Río municipality.

The woman lost communication with them yesterday, but during their last phone call they told her that the roof of their house had torn off and the flood waters were knee high. The family has animals and crops. “I’ve spent years insisting they leave, but my father would say to me that he didn’t want to leave his little farm, but now everything is destroyed and it will be cheaper for me to pay their exit through Nicaragua than to rebuild their lives in La Coloma.”

They all fear that the day after the storm will arrive with greater scarcity and with it an increasing exodus, which has already reached unprecedented levels for Cuba.

On Wednesday Havana was a city operating at half steam. Most neighborhoods in the capital city awoke without electricity, the water supply shut down due to the lack of electricity and the winds from Ian seem to have given flight to inflation and increasing food prices.

“A bag of six rolls reached 250 pesos yesterday afternoon and 300 by night,” said one of the residents of Los Sitios, who said that today, “vendors have not passed and in the neighborhood they speculate that when they return, it will cost even more.” continue reading

During a trip through Centro Habana, La Habana Vieja and Nuevo Vedado, we witnessed dozens of giant trees uprooted by the powerful winds and strewn across the streets. “And the storm didn’t even pass through here,” remarked an old woman at the Parque Central.

Furthermore, several street lights had also fallen.

The anxiety over searching for missing food, even before the hurricane, had once again became a tonic in the streets of the capital, where several businesses tried to sell what was left at their doorsteps, before it spoiled due to the lack of electricity following the collapse of the National Electric System (SEN).

Pushcart salesmen here and there were some of the few options to purchase food.

The windows of Plaza de Carlos III were all shuttered, and not for the hurricane’s passing. On Monday, the eve of Ian, they were not covered but on Wednesday they were protected, in all likelihood to prevent thefts and destruction amid the widespread blackout.

On the corner of Campanario and Condesa, in Centro Habana, a car had been destroyed by the remains of the old building which once stood in that location, now an enormous parking lot. “Luckily it did not fall on anyone’s head,” said the resigned owner of the vehicle.

In Nuevo Vedado, residents of some of the buildings cleared their surroundings of fallen branches and shrubery, but one of them complained, “the large trees remain strewn there, because they need machinery and we have not seen the State appear anywhere.”

One of the urgent needs was charging telephones, a fundamental communication tool not only for their family and friends, but the world. Thus, it was interesting to see many people charging their mobile phones in hospital hallways, such as Calixto García or Hermanos Ameijeiras, as well as in hotel doorways.

Another worry among Havana residents today was water. Some buildings have pumps but they stopped working when SEN went down this afternoon. Although in many apartments people have water tanks, as the time goes on, these are depleted.

For higher floors it is crazy to try to carry water up the stairs, which in addition are wet and dirty, some for lack of windows for many years now.

Meanwhile, in that same area, the Ministry of Agriculture’s generator has been running for over 24 hours and its humming fills the area. “At least when we stop hearing it we’ll know the power is back on,” one resident said ironically.

On September 28th, the day officials traditionally celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), there’s been no time for revelry nor for slogans of triumph.

In Nuevo Vedado, an enthusiastic CDR member shouted to her neighbors for several long minutes from a 12 story building for them to collaborate in making the traditional stew.

“Let’s go, give some taro, some yucca, a yam for the stew! Or a bit of money to go buy at the market!” she shouted for a good while; a man with a booming voice joined her, “Let’s go to the CDR stew!” The lack of enthusiasm and the discomfort for lack of electricity weighed down the collaborations and finally the enthusiastic organizers canceled the initiative.

On Tuesday night, after the winds of Hurricane Ian died down, in Havana only the fires were alight. Ironically, in the largest Cuban city, one of the only illuminated areas was Turkey’s floating power plant anchored at the port, a power plant full of light in a city of darkness.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

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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.

Hurricane Ian’s Winds Leave Havana in the Dark and More Depleted of Supplies

On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 27, there were many fallen trees in the capital. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, September 27, 2022 — Havana woke up this Tuesday with the rains and winds that Ian had been leaving in the Cuban territory for hours, but people on the street seemed not to have heard that the hurricane that was coming and was of considerable intensity.

The food shortage in the capital was worse than the threat of the hurricane. “Nothing prevents people from going out to stand in line for bread in any event,” said an old woman from Central Havana, who hadn’t been able to buy a single piece the day before.

In this same neighborhood of the capital and in the rain, street vendors were still promoting a few goods, mainly cart-pushers, who remained on the corners dispatching some fruits and vegetables before leaving.

In other areas such as the Plaza de la Revolución, the howl of the wind frightened residents, especially when, in addition to the shocking noise caused by the force of the hurricane, they began to see zinc tiles, palm leaves, pieces of plastic and some trees falling to the ground.

“There was such a strong and sustained gust that all of us, humans and pets, ran to hide and take shelter under a table,” says a young man from Nuevo Vedado. continue reading

Power outages began early in the morning and still keep much of the capital in the dark. There was also the sound of sirens heading to Central Havana and Old Havana, two of the most populated municipalities with a lot of housing deterioration. “I hear a siren, they’re firefighters, I just saw them go to Reina Street. There must be a collapse,” a woman told this newspaper by phone.

And before the sound of the sirens and the wind, many took note of the severe economic crisis that plagues the island, worse than a hurricane like Ian: “There is nothing here for these events: no tape to protect glass windows, no rechargeable lamps, no kerosene for  ’gossiping,’ stovetops or candles,” complained a man in Havana. “Well, we’re plagued by dengue, and there aren’t even any mosquito nets, so what could we expect!?”

In the afternoon, when the water and air finally made a truce, the disaster in the city could be witnessed. Tree after fallen tree, as well as ceilings, facades and some furniture that flew away were the general picture.

In this part of western Cuba, “people are very upset about the delays in preparation and also in the caution of the first forecasts of the hurricane,” some reproached. “Yesterday, several residents of El Vedado were surprised when we warned them of Ian.”

While in Florida, where Ian is heading on Tuesday night with intense growth, the authorities have been preparing the population about the possible ravages of the storm since last week on the Island, where the hurricane left Pinar del Río in a disaster zone. The Government’s messages in recent days were exclusively focused on the referendum for the Family Code, which came into force on Wednesday. “A law passed by water,” Cubans ironize on the street.

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.

Candles and Prayers in Havana for the Patron Saint of Prisoners: The Virgin of Mercy

The priest, who accompanied the prayer in the Church of the Virgin of Mercy in Havana, asked for a plea “for the future of the Cuban homeland and the children.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 24 September 2022 — On an island with more than a thousand political prisoners, the patron saint of prisoners has become the image before which countless Cuban families pray. On September 24, the patron saint of inmates received flowers and candles in her parish on Cuba Street, in Old Havana, under the watchful eye of a police operation with uniformed and civilian agents.

Dressed mostly in white, in honor of the Virgin and the great orisha Obbatalá, with whom the Virgin is syncretized in the Santeria religion, residents from the vicinity arrived throughout the day and also others who traveled from distant municipalities. Most of them were united by a special reason: to pray for people locked up in prison, in a country with more than 90,000 prisoners.

From early in the morning, several tables were placed outside the temple for the private sale of prints, religious accessories, flowers and other offerings dedicated to the Virgin. But inflation hurt the enthusiasm of buyers, who widened their eyes when they heard that each candle cost 50 pesos. Many decided to retrace their steps and enter the temple empty-handed.

Dressed mostly in white, in honor of the Virgin and the great orisha Obbatalá, with whom the Virgin is syncretized in Santeria, they arrived throughout the day at the temple. (14ymedio)

The flowers also were more expensive, and the small bouquets, with only a few butterflies, cost 100 pesos, while others a little more elaborate and with more variety cost about 400. For residents of the poor neighborhood of San Isidro, where the church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced is located, paying such prices means a choice between putting something on the table and spending a good part of their salary on stems and petals. continue reading

The priest who accompanied the prayer requested a plea “for the future of the Cuban homeland and the children.” The request was followed by entreaties and hands that came together to pray. There was also no shortage of those who brought an image of a relative sentenced to prison to accompany them inside the church and at the time of approaching the altar with the image of the Virgin.

In other parts of Havana, such as the mouth of the Almendares River, a group of practitioners of Santeria also joined in a ceremony to remember the orisha as the “creator of the earth and sculptor of being.” White clothes were more common in the city throughout the day, and there was no shortage of domestic ceremonies with prayers for Cubans imprisoned in the hands of traffickers and coyotes during their migratory route.

In other parts of Havana, such as the mouth of the Almendares River, a group of practitioners of Santería also joined in a ceremony for Obattalá. (14ymedio)

The numerous Cuban women, especially those over 50, who were named “Mercedes” or “Mercy,” in honor of the Virgin, also celebrated, although on this occasion white meringue cakes — so characteristic of these syncretic celebrations — were scarce due to the lack of flour and eggs. The economic crisis forced Cubans to celebrate more modestly but just as emotionally as in other years.

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.

Cubans Are More Concerned About Hurricane Ian Than About Voting in the Referendum

Cuba holds a referendum on September 25 to approve the new Family Code. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez and Herodes Díaz, Havana/Santiago de Cuba, 25 September 2022 — In the early hours of this Sunday morning there was a notably small turnout in the voting centers for the referendum on the Family Code, and the majority of the voters were elderly, according to 14ymedio reporters in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

About eight and a half million Cubans have been called to participate in this referendum, the third that is being held under the current political system. The referendum will approve or reject a text that in recent months has generated intense controversy about equal marriage, adoption by homosexual couples and surrogacy.

According to the National Electoral Council (CEN), at 11:40 in the morning, almost five hours after the opening of the polls, 37.03% of registered voters had gone to vote.

Voters are divided among more than 24,000 polling stations, which will be open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm on this day, a Sunday of uncertainty with the advance of Tropical Storm Ian that is expected to reach the status of hurricane in the coming hours and to hit western Cuba.

The proximity of the storm has launched Cubans into the streets in search of canned food, bread, cookies, candles and other products that will allow them to handle confinement in their homes when the winds and rains become stronger. However, shortages have worsened in recent hours, causing longer lines in front of bakeries and markets. continue reading

“It’s very early Sunday and on the eve of a hurricane, said the official in charge of reviewing the voters’ identity cards, trying to justify the low turnout. Voters were picking up their ballots at a school polling place in the neighborhood of Cayo Hueso in Havana. A few meters away, a line to buy bread summoned more people than the referendum for the Family Code.

“I came early so I could leave,” said Missy, a 28-year-old who cast her vote in a school in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood. “My daughter is in elementary school and for a few days she was called on to take care of the polls. She didn’t want to come, but the teacher told her that even if it was two hours, she had to fulfill that commitment.”

“It was early and she came back done in. She told me that very few people had gone to vote so far and that the snack they gave to the students who guard the ballot boxes is terrible: a cold roll with bad picadillo and a bag of hot Coral soda,” the mother complains.

At Missy’s same school, her mother and grandmother voted. “Even if they don’t believe me, they marked the yes and I marked the no,” the young woman explains. “Because they are immersed in Party militancy, but although I’m a lesbian and the issue of equal marriage suits me, I prefer to wait to have other rights first.”

Nearby, in Los Sitios, Dalmar and Julito have been placing the multicolored flag that identifies the LGBT+ community on their balcony for days. This Sunday they went to vote early and both marked yes. “We want to get married as soon as possible and appeal to solidarity motherhood to be able to have a child together,” they tell this newspaper. “We have struggled a lot to get here, and although it’s not an ideal situation, our rights cannot continue to be postponed.”

“Between the dead and those who have emigrated, we have 54 people on the registry who aren’t going to come to vote,” one of the organizers of a school in Cerro, near Ayestarán Avenue, explained loudly, through the telephone line. “When we’re done, we’ll know how many people are no longer in Cuba,” he said.

The exodus of recent months, the largest that the Island has suffered in its entire history, estimated to be close to 200,000 people, has taken away part of the electorally active population. So emigration also marks an election where the expectation of leaving the country soon has made many desist from approaching the polls.

“Why should I go, if I plan to leave this country?” explained a 19-year-old boy this Sunday morning on an improvised basketball court located in an open field in Nuevo Vedado. “Let those who stay decide. When I take the plane, I will no longer have to be governed by any of these laws; I will already have those of the country wherever I go.”

Along with him, other young people of similar ages repeat a similar speech. “I already have everything to leave for Nicaragua, so it’s like I’m not here,” adds another of the players, who from early morning preferred scoring a basket to dropping a ballot in a box.

“I haven’t seen young people,” emphasizes Manuel, a man from Havana who went to vote early and marked the no box. “When I entered school, it was around nine in the morning and there was only one old man. Then I took a tour of other schools in my neighborhood and only saw other elderly people.”

The presence in the early hours of voters over 60 years old may be due not only to the fact that among young people sleeping on Sunday morning is a more widespread habit, but also that the militants of the Communist Party and active members of organizations such as the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution are mostly people who exceed five or six decades of life.

One person who did arrive with the first light of Sunday and was surrounded by cameras and microphones at his polling place in the municipality of Playa was Miguel Díaz-Canel. The ruler took advantage of the moment to qualify the enthusiasm he had shown in previous days: “The expectation is not that it will be a unanimous vote, but I do believe that it will be a majority on the part of our people.”

According to the official press, Díaz-Canel assured that “against the Code there is a whole platform that starts from the demonization and discrediting of the Cuban Revolution,” and described the call for a referendum as courageous “in the conditions that the country is going through: shortages, blackouts, scarcity, with an important part of the economy paralyzed.”

Even Díaz-Canel didn’t rule out that there could be a “protest vote” and explained that, “in such complex issues where there is a diversity of opinion and in the midst of a difficult situation there can even be people who vote in order to protest.”

The official press also showed the former Cuban ruler Raúl Castro in the moment of voting, although his presence in the official campaign to promote the yes vote for the Family Code was very scarce.

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.

Little Enthusiasm and Expensive Food at an Official ‘March’ in Support of the Family Code in Havana

Schoolchildren concentrated in La Piragua, in Havana, for the official concert in favor of the yes on the Family Code referendum. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 September 2022 — In its desperate struggle for the yes to win in the referendum on the Family Code this Sunday, the Cuban Government has mobilized not only workplaces but also schools.

Barely thirty kids, from nearby schools, arrived this Friday at the corner of G and Malecón, in El Vedado, Havana, where a march was called for 3 pm that would be enlivened, as they pompously announced, with “dancing and congas.”

Dragging their feet, accompanied by teachers who walked with the same reluctant step, they received a cap and fans, all made of cardboard, with the colors of the rainbow and the slogan “Code Yes” from the hands of officials stationed in front of a car of the Union of Young Communists (UJC).

Some of them, after receiving these, didn’t hesitate to flee the place. “We’re going to stop by — there’s a camera — so they know we were there,” a teacher told a group of teenagers while they deserted the activity before it even started. continue reading

Another group followed in the footsteps of a UJC official who harangued them with a whistle, to walk to the next point of call, La Piragua. This esplanade, located on the Malecón at the heights of the National Hotel, has recently moved to the Anti-imperialist Tribune, in front of the United States Embassy and a few feet from there, as the center of propaganda events organized by the Communist Party of Cuba.

Barely thirty kids, from nearby schools, arrived this Friday at the corner of G and Malecón, in El Vedado. (14ymedio)

In the evening, a concert will take place, the official press explained. Los Van Van, Haila María Mompié, Arnaldo and his Talisman, the La Colmenita Children’s Theater Company and actors of the Teleseries Calendario will participate.

Around 3:30, La Piragua was observed guarded by a huge police operation, with parked patrols and agents stationed on every corner. Immediately several buses arrived with more students, all dressed in their uniforms.

“We’re going to stop by — there’s a camera — so they know we were there,” a teacher told a group of teenagers while they deserted the activity. (14ymedio)

As part of the event, the authorities established stalls for the sale of handicrafts and food. The prices were high: for example, bread with pork, at 250 pesos, and bread with ham, at 200. To drink, they offered Coca-Cola and Mahou brand beer, something striking if one of the propaganda posters that “decorated” the stalls is taken into account: “Against Spanish Colonialism.”

“In no way is this a voluntary event. It’s a forced concentration of students where they are taking advantage to sell food, drinks and handicrafts at unpayable prices,” lamented a passerby who stopped for a moment hoping to buy something to eat.

As part of the event, the authorities established stalls for the sale of handicrafts and food. (14ymedio)

Around 4:30, many among the crowd of young people began to scurry away, little by little, under a harsh sun and in the face of the impossibility of spending so much on a drink.

The schools in the capital have been wallpapered with posters containing the slogan “Code Yes,” and students have already been warned of the obligation to “take care of the ballot boxes” [i.e. observe the voting in person] on Sunday, “for at least four hours,” according to a high school student from Nuevo Vedado.

To drink, they offered Coca-Cola and Mahou brand beer, something striking if you take into account one of the propaganda posters that “decorated” the stalls reads: “against Spanish colonialism.” (14ymedio)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.

‘Godfathers’ Jump the Lines at the Currency Exchanges in Cuba

The workers at the Cadeca (currency exchange) on 23rd Street — and at any exchange office in Cuba — have their own business of influence, with family, friends and even coleros [people others pay to stand in line for them]. (14ymedio)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez /Juan Izquierdo, Havana, 22 September 2022 — “No one cheats on me,” a man grumbles in front of the Cadeca [currency exchange] on 23rd Street in Havana, this Tuesday. “I’m not a fool.” His face is swollen and red; he is sweating and drags a crutch with difficulty. Next to him, a  sympathetic mulatto in a T-shirt and with a golden tooth nods. “He walked in front of me and went in;  it was that simple,” shouts the man. Several people in the line predict a heart attack if he doesn’t calm down.

Beyond, at the door, a lady demands explanations from the policeman who guards the exchange house: “It’s not the first time this has happened today,” she says. The officer looks at her reluctantly, as if he doesn’t understand, and sends the complaint to the “organizer” of the Cadeca line, who calls the customers according to a list.

Everyone witnessed how an individual arrived at the establishment, advanced, distracted, up the stairs and approached the door, beckoning through the glass. The door opened, and the man managed to slip between the policeman and the organizer, who didn’t say a word.

The eyes of the clients followed the event in detail, but they were silent until the subject entered the Cadeca. First it was a buzz of comments; then someone rebuked the organizer of the line, and finally the man on the crutch exploded, left his place and began to scream. continue reading

In the face of the screams and fingers pointing at him, the policeman remained calm.

“That one had a ’godfather’ inside the Cadeca,” someone theorizes. Sponsorship consists of having a contact within the establishment, a friend or relative who overcomes obstacles and facilitates access to the first place in line.

The customers can withstand the sun, heat and hunger, but never that someone “unrecognized” approaches and, mysteriously, penetrates the building without waiting: it’s intolerable.

The workers at the Cadeca on 23rd — those at any exchange house in Cuba — have their business of influence. The “chosen” are family or friends, and also coleros who accept a payment to guarantee another person a privileged place.

Those who don’t have a “godfather” must submit to the murky system of “lists,” drawn up illegally after the previous night, which pretends to be a spontaneous form of organization in the face of institutional corruption. The lists include solitary buyers, but also the “gangs” of customers, groups of five or ten people who intend to assault the Cadeca.

However, spending the night in the vicinity of an establishment is considered, by the police, a violation. So they’re authorized to fine or arrest the overnight coleros. But it’s a risk that dollar buyers are willing to take, because without the few bills that the Government agrees to sell, it’s impossible to live decently.

So the man with the crutch calms down, goes up to the policeman and calmly says: “Officer, if you want, arrest me, but tonight I’m going to sleep here, to see who is going to take the first place in line away from me tomorrow.”

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 Yes Vote and No Vote on Cuba’s New Family Code Collide on a Street In Havana

An official this Thursday on Obispo Street in Old Havana talking about the Family Code. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 22 September 2022 — A scene this Thursday on Obispo Street, in Old Havana, was enough to show that the opinion of Cubans on the Family Code, whose referendum will be held next Sunday, is far from uniform.

This isn’t what the Government would like, judging by the resources it has been deploying for months to guide the population to vote yes, without giving space to any discordant voice. In addition to the complimentary notes in the official press on the new rule, the final text of which has been available in the Official Gazette since August 17, are joined, in recent days, acts of propaganda in the streets.

The one on Obispo Street, this Thursday, would have been very difficult at another time, given the obligatory stop for tourists that has always been at that point of Old Havana. This is not the case this month of September, when the volume of foreign travelers still hasn’t rebounded, and the street has only a few passers-by in the hottest hours of the day. continue reading

That’s why it caught the attention of the resident so much that, before noon, there were tables selling handicrafts — decorated with posters containing the slogan “Yes on the Code,” and some officials — wearing T-shirts with the same slogan — with a microphone placed in the middle of the street.

Before the crowd, an official began to explain different aspects of the Family Code, such as the protection it would provide to the elderly. At one point, with pedagogical concession, he asked the people around him what they thought.

“I think this is very bad,” replied an old woman to whom they gave the microphone. “Because I understand that marriage has to be between a man and a woman, not between two men and two women,” the woman said, based on her religious beliefs.

At that moment, without removing the microphone, the music that enlivened the activity through loudspeakers began to sound at full volume, in such a way that it prevented the old woman from being heard. Without being intimidated, the woman raised her voice even more: “I vote no, I vote no!”

In her favor, many of those who had spontaneously gathered to hear the official began to speak up. “This is a lack of respect,” one man protested, defending the old woman. “Don’t ask me my opinion if you’re going to call the police later, because that’s not democracy,” another woman shouted.

One of the summoned officials replied: “This is Revolution, and now it’s more important than ever to vote yes.”

Three days before the plebiscite on the Family Code, the Government hasn’t given up trying to win by all possible means. This Thursday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel will lead a special program on National Television to defend the yes vote.

For tomorrow, Friday, a march has been called in the capital, with the same slogan, “Yes on the Code,” “with the participation of Havana’s youth.” According to a message disseminated through official networks, the event will start at 3:00 pm along G and the Malecón, and there will be “dance troupes and congas.”

Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, called on Monday to “win the battle of the popular referendum, by a landslide,” in the face of what he calls “maneuvers of the enemies, the haters” alluding to the independent opinions that contradict the official voice.

On Tuesday, it was the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, who asserted that the Family Code has served as ” cannon fodder” for the “enemies” of the Revolution, who have carried out a “campaign” of disinformation about the content of the rule.

At the International Nature Tourism Event in Havana, Marrero declared that those who have positioned themselves against it — who in no case have had space in the official media — haven’t spoken “of all the virtues of the code, which identifies and unites the Cuban family.”

The Cuban regime does not appear to have the support it needs for the third referendum called in 63 years, the first one it could lose.

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.

Stones Rain Down from the Top of the Building of the Ministry of Public Health in Havana

The only signal that anyone walking on the sidewalk at that time would have to protect themselves would be the building custodian’s alert (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 19 September 2022 — From the facade under repair of the Ministry of Public Health, in the crucial ramp on 23rd Street, in Havana, numerous stones fell this Monday. They were not large, but they were large enough that, given the height from which they fell, would have caused a head injury to any passerby.

The only signal that anyone walking on the sidewalk at that time would have to protect himself would be the alert from a building custodian: “Walk fast, walk fast, don’t let it fall on you!”

“Is this normal?” A woman who was passing by at the time blurted out. “Stones are falling into the street, there are no signs, they have not stopped traffic. One drives by in a car and the windshield gets smashed, what do you do?” continue reading

Towards the top of the Public Health Building a green mesh can be seen that barely covers part of the scaffolding placed for the works. (14ymedio)

Toward the top, a green mesh can be seen that barely covers part of the scaffolding placed for the works being done to the building. Minutes later, two workers scrambled to sweep the debris from the street.

Fewer security measures can be seen in the works of the controversial tower at K and 23rd Streets, also in Havana’s Vedado district, from where a piece of wood of considerable size shot out, also this Monday.

Also on Monday, a large piece of wood of considerable size shot out from the tower at K and 23rd Streets (14ymedio)

In this case, the building does not have a protective mesh, which is something various specialists have criticized.

The board was dodged by a man in his thirties, to the shock of the rest of the passers-by. “That’s why I don’t go through here,” one of them said to the young man, who was livid. “Because anything that falls might kill anyone and nothing happens.”

The building does not have a protective mesh, something for which it has been criticized by various specialists. (14ymedio)

Translated by Norma Whiting
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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 Plaza Carlos III, an Identity Card is Required to Buy a Quarter of Fried Chicken

Some of the first forty customers this Wednesday, sitting and eating their quarter chicken. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 14 September 2022 — Forty people and forty identity cards, not one more. The crisis in the markets has made the leap to state cafeterias, and even in the cafeteria of the popular Plaza Carlos III, in Central Havana, it’s already impossible to sit normally and eat a quarter of fried chicken. The restaurant has decided to limit the sale, and, as if it were just another ration store, customers are obliged to identify themselves so as not to “monopolize” the 350 grams of chicken that the place sells for 37 pesos.

The line to buy fried chicken in the central place was a hive of people this Wednesday when a man, dressed in a T-shirt that identified him as “security,” went out to organize the line and ask customers to present one identity card per person, because he was only going to allow forty to enter.

Immediately the pushing and fighting began, epic for a reward as scarce as a piece of chicken. Or two, if the one you get is small. “No way you’re going here,” one said. “I’ve been here for hours,” shouted another. “You’re not going ahead of me,” a third party argued. Meanwhile, the guard continued to stop the tumult with his hand up.

Carlos III Plaza  is known as the great palace of consumption in Havana and is the largest shopping center after Cuatro Caminos. Its location, in Central Havana, and its aesthetics, with a characteristic circular ramp winding through the structure, has made it since the ’90s one of the most prosperous and crowded shopping centers in the Cuban capital. continue reading

Dollarization had turned the old market that sold meat, each time more withered, into a place with establishments of all kinds, from shoe stores and perfumeries to hardware stores or clothing stores. The ground floor, with restaurants, was so busy that the neighbors complained about the sale of alcoholic beverages and fast food, which was crowded with people wanting to have fun and eat something different.

Now, fallen from grace, it barely has two stores in national currency and a supermarket in pesos where only the residents of Central Havana and part of El Cerro can buy as a result of the municipalization of commerce that the Government imposed in April of this year. The rest are shops that take payment only in MLC (hard currency) and a few restaurants with minimal offerings. The only fuss occurs when the cafeteria, called El Patio, begins to sell its famous fried chicken, the only food that can now be eaten on site.

Luckily, this Wednesday the first forty were not the only fortunate ones. The cafeteria again accepted another quota of forty when the first group had finished. Until the chicken ran out.

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.

Cuatro Caminos, the Market Where Cuba’s Different Social Classes Come Together

View of pallets at the Cuatro Caminos green market this Friday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 16 September 2022 — The fruit and vegetable market at the Plaza de Cuatro Caminos, the largest in the capital, looked bleak this Friday. Old manioc and green plantains were the only things that were being sold in the stands, among empty pallets and counters.

“That manioc is so ugly that it looks like it has monkeypox,” a woman joked to the vendors, who laughed heartily. The memory of this green market, which before and after its major 2019 remodeling was the best supplied in Havana, with adequate prices for the always precarious economy of Cubans was left in the past. “This is empty,” another young man said out loud, one of the few people who could be seen in the place, along with elderly figures, beset by hunger.

In contrast with the scarcity in this part of the square, which is accessed through Matadero Street, the store selling in freely convertible currency (MLC) stands out, with its full shelves and its well-dressed and better-fed customers.

That manioc is so ugly that it looks like it has monkey pox”, a woman joked before the vendors, who laughed heartily. (14ymedio)

Barely grazing that abundance, an invalid woman sells plastic bags for 50 pesos, taking advantage of the blasts of air conditioning that escape outside every time the doors open.

This store has its entrance on Atarés Street, and those who cannot access this establishment due to their lack of foreign currency, can go to the store selling in pesos, which overlooks Monte Street. However, one cannot shop there unless it corresponds to your place of residence, as indicated by the rationing regulations established by the Havana authorities last April.

The area to buy in freely convertible currency in the Cuatro Caminos Market seemed to have full shelves. (14ymedio)

Halfway there, a line suddenly formed to buy a pair of yogurt cups at 16 pesos each and a small plate of ham at 55 pesos at the stand El Rápido. Several worlds in one, in short, with different social classes, something that the Revolution fought so hard against.

In November, 2019, when Cuatro Caminos reopened after four years closed for renovations, the influx of customers was such that the first day became a pitched battle to reach any product. People were stepping on each other to access the interior of the building, shoes were lost in the race. That restart was marked by those strongest or smartest people taking boxes and boxes of the same food.

Buying freely cannot be done in the sales area in pesos unless it corresponds to you by your ration book and place of residence, as indicated by the rationing regulations established by the Havana authorities. (14ymedio)

Nestled at the crossroads of several municipalities, the 1920’s market has always been, more than a sales outlet, the center of economic activity in the area. For decades, its function as a square with pallets for private peasants, private merchants and all kinds of informal vendors that hung around the place contributed to its neighbors’ survival.

The times when residents in the vicinity made a living by renting parts of their homes to store fruits, food and religious accessories, which were later sold in Cuatro Caminos, are long gone. After its last deep reform, the place gained in innovation, but lost the popular and boisterous character that characterized it since its beginnings.

Offer of two glasses of yogurt at 16 pesos each and a plate with diced ham at 55 pesos at El Rápido. (14ymedio)

Without being able to earn a living from the market, residents are now trying to get some income from the proximity of that imposing building that has two cornucopias on its main façade, prosperous cornucopias not reflected inside. The only advantage they seem to have is getting in line earlier than residents of other neighborhoods.

The new way of survival is now reduced to acting as coleros, selling turns in lines, to buy a product or acquire certain merchandise that’s offered for sale for just a few hours, in order to resell them in the informal market. Some of those who were waiting today for the yogurt and ham combo were probably included in that case: taking advantage of a market that is increasingly inaccessible to their pockets.

Enclavado en un cruce de municipios, Cuatro Caminos, construido en 1920, siempre fue, más que un local de ventas, el centro de la actividad económica de la zona. (14ymedio)
Located at a crossroads of municipalities, Cuatro Caminos was built in 1920 and has always been, more than a sales outlet, the center of economic activity in the area. (14ymedio)

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

Is There a State-Owned Restaurant in Cuba that Has Good Food and Treats Customers Well?

Lunchtime customers waiting outside La Roca before it opens are a good sign. (14ymedio).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, 17 September 2022 — The glory days of La Roca, a restaurant at the corner of 21st and M streets in Havana, only lasted for a few years. Inspired by Art Deco architecture and designed by Modesto Campos and Hugo D’Acosta Calheiros — two then-young  architects, one of them still a student — it opened in 1957. With its multi-colored glass windows and live music, it was an immediate sensation.

It remained a required stop in the early years of the Castro regime, and even after it was nationalized, for Cubans and foreign visitors alike. Its main attraction was its location in the heart of the Vedado neighborhood. Its neighbors include the Focsa building, the giant Coppelia ice cream parlor and hotels such as Habana Libre, Capri and Nacional. But for a long time it was also known for having decent food.

Eventually, however, it began to decline and, like so many other state-owned restaurants, became known for bad service and questionable food. There was little incentive for eating there.

The same cannot be said today. At lunchtime, people wait in line outside before it opens, an auspicious sign. An employee at the door graciously greets customers and leads them to their tables.

The newly remodeled interior is a gloomy, impersonal setting but the food is good, inexpensive, and customers are not required to pay in hard currency. continue reading

For 150 pesos they can order tuna salad, chicken croquettes, ajiaco criollo or spaghetti alla Napolitana. The most expensive dishes are the grilled lobster (800 pesos), bacalao pil-pil (600 pesos) and a fish filet. More moderately priced dishes include ropa vieja (230 pesos), pork chops (200 pesos) and herbed chicken (350 pesos).

The side dishes — rice, salad, beans — cost between 40 and 120 pesos. At 80 pesos, the soft drinks are much cheaper than at other state-owned establishments, which charge up to 150 pesos.

La Roca is not immune to the shortages affecting the rest of the island, however. On Wednesday, for example, there were no shrimp on the seafood platter and the only dessert item on the menu was rice pudding.

The dishes are presented with grace and, unlike other places, are served very hot. The service is prompt, the wait staff is friendly and the food is good. Add to this a live pianist who plays boleros and other popular pieces from the international repertoire.

Why is La Roca able to do what other state-run restaurants cannot? According to regular customers, it has a new cook who is “spectacular.” That alone cannot explain it but what is clear is that there is at least one place run by the state that manages to do things right.

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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.

Two Seriously Injured in Luyano, Cuba, in Fire of Two Motorbikes and Gas Cans

The flames reached a second motorbike and several fuel cans, which quickly reduced the interior of the house to ashes. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 13 September 2022 — Two people were seriously injured in the fire at a house in Luyanó, in the Havana municipality of Diez de Octubre, in the early hours of Tuesday.

According to the neighbors, who spoke to this newspaper, the fire began at four in the morning when an electric motorbike that was charging caught fire. The flames reached a second motorbike and several fuel cans that the family had stored, which quickly reduced the interior of the house to ashes. “Even the floor rose,” a neighbor said.

Inside the building, located on Arango Street, between Manuel Pruna and Rosa Enríquez, were the owner, Fidel González, well known in the neighborhood for working at a nearby carpentry shop, his three children, Denny (15 years old), David and Daniel (twins) and his wife, a Cuban-American visiting Havana.

The accident occurred when Daniel, who works as a taxi driver, was taking a bath after getting home from working. “The boy felt an explosion, and when he went outside, one of the motorbikes was on fire,” says another neighbor. “He alerted everyone in the house who were inside their air-conditioned rooms.”

One of the family’s two dogs, Floppy, stayed in the house and had to be rescued, with injuries, by a firefighter.

Daniel himself was the one who ended up with serious burns. Both he and his wife, who inhaled too much carbon dioxide, were admitted to the Miguel Enríquez hospital, known as La Benéfica. continue reading

Relatives of the family sent a petition via Facebook to all acquaintances to collect aid, because, they regret, they lost “everything: TV, washing machine, refrigerator, kitchen.”

Daniel González, according to the neighbors, was planning to go to the United States by the “route of the volcanoes” (Nicaragua).

Fires due to the explosions of electric motorbikes are frequent in Cuba. One of the latest reported occurred last June in the municipality of Cerro, also in Havana, and destroyed 12 motorbikes and two cars.

Last year, a 60-year-old woman and one grandchild, age 7, were killed in a fire caused by the explosion of a motorbike in Sancti Spíritus, and, months later, another 19-year-old girl died in a similar accident in the city of Matanzas.

Also, fuel storage, which in the case of Luyanó aggravated the accident, is also common on the Island. In many cases, it’s used for the operation of electric generators, some families’ alternative to the everyday blackouts.

In this case, the González family was storing it for the taxi operated by Daniel, in view of the increasingly frequent shortage of fuel in the gas stations.

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 Procession for Our Lady of Charity Draws a Crowd in Havana

“I haven’t seen this street so full of people and with so much emotion since July 11,” said a young man who claimed to have participated in the protests on that day last year. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerSome with candles, with very few sunflowers, that is how the devotees entered the church of the Virgen de la Caridad de El Cobre on the corner of Manrique and Salud Streets, in Centro Habana. This Thursday, the day on which the Patron Saint of Cuba is celebrated, inflation has also been noted in the price of sunflowers, the flower that is offered to Cachita (the Virgin’s nickname) because its yellow color recalls the golden mantle worn by her image.

From Galiano Avenue, metal fences and several policemen controlled foot traffic to the church in Havana, where thousands of people attend every September 8 to pay tribute to “the mother of all Cubans.” This year, the date has coincided with a deep economic crisis, which has cut the offerings that are left on the altar at the entrance of the church.

“I only bought one candle and it practically melted in my hand, because it seems that they mixed the wax with tallow. It cost me 50 pesos, but at least I was able to bring something, because the smallest bouquet of sunflowers cost 300,” lamented a young woman who, dressed in yellow clothes, approached the place this morning. “I’m going to have lunch and come back in the afternoon for the procession”. She said goodbye to her friends a while later.

At four in the afternoon, in a crowded church, a mass was presided by Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García, Archbishop of San Cristóbal de La Habana. (14ymedio)

At four in the afternoon, in a very crowded church, a mass was presided over by Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García, Archbishop of San Cristóbal de La Habana, together with the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of the capital’s Archdiocese, Eloy Domínguez. It was attended by the Spanish ambassador in Cuba, Ángel Martín Peccis.

The prelate said that the Church is the house “of all Cubans, the house of the Mother of God, in this house there is room for us all.” And he added that Cachita “wants peace and harmony for all Cubans.” “With God, everything and without God, nothing,” declared the archbishop during his sermon.

After five in the afternoon, the image of the Virgin appeared at the door of the church and was received with applause, tears and hundreds of raised arms trying to capture the moment with their mobile phones. On the church’s facade, a huge Cuban flag fluttered in the gentle breeze this Thursday. In the crowd, people dressed in alternating yellow and white clothes, some with masks and others with their faces uncovered. continue reading

The procession initially walked down Manrique Street, until it reached Zanja and then turned onto Galiano to join the stately Reina Street, where residents leaned out from the rooftops and balconies to follow the cortege. Some flower petals also fell from the heights as the Virgin passed by, although in a smaller volume than in previous years, when it was less difficult for Cubans’ pockets.

Applause, shouts of  vivas a la Virgen and popular tunes like: “And if you go to El Cobre, I want you to bring me a Virgencita de la Caridad” were heard during the tour through one of the poorest and most populated areas of the Cuban capital. Megaphone in hand, on Zanja Street, the Cardinal asked Cachita to pray for “those who have died from Covid, in the Saratoga Hotel accident, and in the Matanzas fire.” The crowd received his words in silence, and then burst into shouts and applause when Juan de la Caridad García added “and those who have died traveling through jungles, rivers and seas, in search of other horizons.”

In Sancti Spíritus hundreds of people gathered and many others joined the procession that began after mass. (14ymedio)

“I hadn’t seen this street so full of people and so full of emotion since July 11,” said a young man who claimed to have participated in that day’s protests last year. The vicinity of the Havana Capitol, especially Galiano, Zanja and Reina streets, were several of the more frequented routes for the protesters, who later gathered around the Cuban Parliament building.

The crowd’s passage was guarded by a strong police operation and the obvious presence of State Security agents dressed in civilian clothes. The first procession after the suspension of public activities forced by the pandemic has also been marked by official edginess after the popular protests of July 11 last year and the demonstrations this summer in various locations in Cuba.

Among the Government’s fears has been that the procession would turn into the scene of some demand for the release of political prisoners, as independent organizations and relatives of those convicted have done in the past.

High prices also affected the devotees of the city of Sancti Spíritus, who had to pay 20 pesos each for roses and candles to be offered at the Church of our Lady of Charity in that city. Hundreds of people gathered at the Church, and many others joined the procession that began after mass. Mobile data network congestion frustrated many who wanted to stream the moment live on social media.

Initially, the procession walked down Calle Manrique until it reached Zanja and then turned onto Galiano to join the stately Reina Street, where residents leaned out from the rooftops and balconies to follow the procession. (14ymedio)

Similar processions were held in other parishes in the country, especially the one that left this Wednesday from the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba, where dozens of people participated to celebrate the 410th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin. This Thursday, a procession was also held in Santiago, from the Archbishop’s headquarters to the Cathedral.

For the remainder, the day has been influenced from the beginning by the calls for harmony and the desire for freedom for Cuba. The nun in charge of the Association “Daughters of Charity in Cuba,” Nadieska Almeida, published an article on Facebook in which she questioned what was going to happen in Cuba after the day of remembrance of the Virgen de la Caridad de El Cobre. “When it’s all over, what will be left?” she asked.

The nun described the current situation in the country with harsh words: “I see nothing but the same misery, the same repression, the same sadness on the faces of so many, tears like those of the family of the little girl who died in Guantánamo in a school disaster, or those of the relatives of the ones who are dying due to lack of medication, especially dengue fever… and so many more”.

Almeida summed up her plea to Cachita directly, and also by alluding to the ecclesiastical authorities in Cuba: “Give wisdom to the rulers and courage to the Church so that it does not stop proclaiming what is right. And there will continue to be a deep desire for a free, hoping and hopeful Cuba, and that we will continue to believe that it will be possible, and why not?

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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.

Jesuits Denounce ‘The Dictatorial Power’ that Forced the Order’s Superior to Leave Cuba

The Jesuit priest David Pantaleón. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Izquierdo, Havana, 13 September 2022 — The Dominican priest David Pantaleón, a superior of the Jesuits in Cuba, left the island on Tuesday due to the Government’s refusal to extend his residence permit. The Jesuit is already in his own country, according to a source.

The also former president of the Cuban Conference of Religious Men and Women was known for his critical assessment of the Regime and for promoting solidarity initiatives with the artists of the San Isidro Movement and, later, with those arrested during the July 11, 2021 protests.

The community celebrated a farewell mass for Pantaleón this Sunday. One of the nuns participating in the ceremony, Ariagna Brito Rodríguez, lamented on Facebook that the priest suffered in his own flesh the “faculties of dictatorial power, without principles or values.”

“They fear the truth; they fear the faces of good and get rid of what bothers them,” denounced Brito, who also said that “those who must be expelled from the country” are those who make up the government, who govern with a heavy hand a people who are “enslaved, punished, whipped and forced to flee.” continue reading

The source consulted by this newspaper specified that, as was said during Mass, Pantaleón was forcibly withdrawing from Cuba, due to the impediments of the Government, which made it clear that “he was no longer well received” on the Island.

He adds that, following, the directors of the Society of Jesus and other ecclesiastical authorities will issue a statement about the situation, which they have wanted, out of respect for the priest and his faithful in Havana, to handle with discretion.

The repression against members of the Cuban clergy has intensified in recent months, through surveillance, blackmail and regulation of travel permits.

From Camagüey, the Catholic priest Castor Álvarez confirmed to this newspaper that he had received the news that a group of nurses from that city had been summoned by State Security, after having taken a photograph with Pantaleón after the Mass of the Virgin of Charity, last Wednesday.

“One of the nurses is a neighbor of the priest,” Cuban layman Osvaldo Gallardo said on Facebook. “At the end of the mass she went with her colleagues to greet him. He blessed them, and then they took a picture.”

Gallardo adds that the headquarters of the political police in that city is located in front of the sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity, where Álvarez celebrated Mass. In addition, it provides an image where you can see an agent recording the procession from the second floor of the building. The priest is still waiting for information about the outcome of the meeting.

Catholics on the Island fear retaliation after the message published on Monday by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, which recommends voting no in the referendum on the new Family Code.

The statement, which opposes several traditionally problematic points between the Church and the State in the family sphere, also contains a criticism of the Regime’s propaganda.

“The information, flowing in one direction without other checks and balances, operates as a conditioning factor, and the vote that derives from it will express, necessarily and inevitably, a conditional will,” the prelates said.

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.