Miss Glamour Holguin 2018 Defies Homophobia

The Miss Glamor Holguin 2018 competition saw the best of transvestism on the island, in its fifth edition. (Leonardo del Valle / 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio,  Leonardo del Valle, Holguín | 7 September 2018 — In the heart of Hoguin, Tuesday and Wednesday nights were filled with sequins before the astonished looks of the security guards at the Bariay Cultural Center. The 2018 Miss Glamour Holguin contest saw a parade and the best transvestism on the Island in the fifth edition of some awards that are still controversial in the conservative society of Holguin.

“If they are like this now, what will we see when they can marry?” said one of the guards at the state venue where the event took place, under the auspices of the LGBTI Cuban and Cuban-American community. To see men holding hands is still taboo in many parts of the Island. Despite the work on the part of the State and civil society to erase homophobia, centuries of machismo remain in the core of national culture. continue reading

Transvestism is considered an art and is not only linked to the LGBTI community. There are many heterosexuals who enjoy changing their appearance and interpreting characters. Long dresses, extremely high heels, wigs with hair below the waist and flawless makeup enhance the beauty of these ladies of the stage.

The eight contestants performed in playback songs of Juan Gabriel, Céline Dion, Isabel Pantoja and Rocío Jurado, among other artists, during a spectacle that overflowed with passion, strength and style.

The young Manuel Yong, presenter of the magazine Mi Habana TV, and the charismatic Margot, a Havana drag queen of vast experience, conducted the show which, during its first day ended at the stroke of two in the morning, long before the second, the great award night.

The crown of Miss Glamor Holguín 2018 went to Huma Rojo, who off stage is Ángel Boris Fuentes, a 25-year-old man, director of the Ciego de Avila dance company ABC Danzares and a third-year ballet student at the University of the Arts. The second place was taken by Adriana Brown, from Havana and the third place medal was won by Miracles, from Matanzas.

Also awarded were prizes for Miss Sympathy, Miss Public, Miss Photogenic and Miss Social Networks.

“Doing an event of this kind is a very difficult task, especially when you feel that many see it as something exclusive to the gay community, something that only matters to us and is supported by us,” Mikeli Peña, contest director and president of the central jury, tells 14ymedio.

The cost of a ticket to see the show is two CUC (roughly $2 US), the average salary of an engineer for two days of work, which goes to the State for allowing use of the Bariay facilities for the contest. The resources for the show are obtained through sponsors on the island and in the United States, explains Peña.

The show, which overflowed with passion, strength and style, could be seen for 2 CUC. (Leonardo del Valle / 14ymedio)

“Thanks to them we can deliver the prizes and assume most of the expenses incurred by the event such as lodging, food and transportation for the guests.” The Cuban gay community affirms that this is the best competition among its kind in the country, and that beyond the recognition “it is an immense responsibility,” Peña adds.

The notes of a song sound from the dark stage that suddenly lights up to unveil Shanaya Montiel, Miss Glamor 2017, received with applause. The queen, of exceptional beauty, opens an imaginary door and, after her, parade across the stage not just transvestites who double as musical successes, but true artists delivered body and soul to their profession.

“Many people do not even know that the contest exists, maybe it’s our fault, maybe we do not give the event the promotion it deserves, but sometimes it’s difficult to access the media for this type of activity. We would like radio and other media to participate but they don’t and it is not because we do not invite them in. The point is that it is very difficult for them to join us,” says Roberto Oro, coordinator of the Provincial Network of Men who have Sex with Other Men.

The swimsuit parade, as well as the fantasy and well-dressed parades, are the three main moments of the competition and alternate with colorful shows starring the invited guests, both from Cuba and Miami.

“Female impersonation is a very expensive art. They are very ingenious. What I can buy in store in Miami, they have to make with their own means and creative talent, and that’s why the recognition is double,” adds one of the guests arriving from South Florida.

During the two days that Miss Glamor 2018 lasted in Holguín, there was no talk of anything else. In horse-drawn carriages, guaguas (buses), bodegas and policlinics, detractors and defenders of equal marriage, which could be approved after the constitutional reform, did not hesitate to offer opinions.

“They say that in the Bariay that is disgusting, homosexuals disguised as women, they want to be more female than one, what are the children going to think? And now if they give them wings they will be able to marry, and no one knows where it will end,” said a lady just minutes after the show ended.

Meanwhile, inside, Miss Glamor 2018, dressed in an elegant white dress, was enthusiatically thanked with applause.

“I am going to wear this crown that is not from Ciego de Avila or from Holguín, it is from all over Cuba, a crown of the entire Cuban gay community that I hope will serve to change the minds of those who still discriminate against us, so that they know that behind a dress, a wig and exquisite makeup there is a person with values who loves and feels.”


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

Pushing, Hitting, and Screaming to Get a ‘Malta’ at the Holguin’s Children’s Carnival

Dozens of people wait in line in Holguín to buy sweets subsidized by the State (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Leonardo del Valle, Holguín | August 13, 2018 — Marlon was restless for a week, asking his parents every night when Sunday would come. Only seven years old, this young holguinero’s hope was to bounce on the inflatables, eat all kinds of sweets, and drink malta, that alcohol-free beer so well loved in Cuba, which has turned into a privilege.

The Children’s Carnival, held this Sunday in the provincial capital of Holguín, was intended to allow children to buy sweets at subsidized prices and enjoy different attractions, but the few products offered and the poor management by the State spoiled the event.

“This year the children’s package includes a packet of sugar wafers, one of Pelly candies and another of lollipops, an africana (cookie covered in chocolate) and a dessert,” Yanet, Marlon’s mother, tells 14ymedio. The packet costs 20 pesos, a privilege considering the rise in price of sweets. continue reading

Also available for purchase at the Children’s Carnival were cookies, candies, ice cream, and malta, all at rationed prices.

“More than a festival, this is a real disappointment for the children and especially for one, to see them cry because despite having the money it’s impossible to buy one of the cheapest items for sale. Who is going to enter that bloodbath to buy a package?” sighs Yanet.

The lines to buy the packages of sweets had to be managed by the police because of the tumult. At the points of sale, survival of the fittest was the rule. Pushing, hitting, screaming, to buy some sweets. All of this under an unrelenting sun. “The price of these products in malls is much higher. There’s no way that we can buy them. This is the only chance for our children to enjoy them,” comments a mother.

Puppets, carnival troupes, and all kinds of State-planned activities were seen this Sunday in Holguín

Malta, for example, which is produced in Holguín, has a subsidized price of 3 pesos in national currency. In malls a can of malta sells for 0.65 CUC (about 14 pesos), but it’s almost never available because private stores buy them and resell them for 1 CUC.

“There have been people here since last night to buy malta. They are practically the owners of the lines and they are selling their places in line,” says Marelis Garcés, at the front of the line for malta. “A bottle that costs 3 pesos here can later sell for 30-35 pesos. Every year it’s the same,” the woman laments.

For Luis Ernesto, the number of points of sale was fewer this year. “The problem is that this is almost never available during the year, and when they put it on sale, fights break out,” he said.

At the Children’s Carnival there were also cookies, candies, ice cream, and malta available for sale, all with rationed prices.

Children were greeted with floats and children’s carnival troupes as spectacles and fun games administered by self-employed people. The public complained about the prices, which are high because they are not subsidized by the State.

Local press outlets echoed the poor quality of the costumes of the carnival troupes. According to a report from the weekly Ahora!, the fabric that the State gave for this activity was some they were unable to sell because it was so unattractive. Every year fewer people want to participate in the troupes because the pay is so low, reported the local press.

The Children’s Carnival is a prelude to the festivities that will begin this Tuesday. The authorities has already announced that they will sell beer on tap in Los Chinos, El Estadio, the suburb Pedro Díaz Coello and Plaza Camilo Cienfuegos.

This Sunday, a little after ten in the morning, practically nothing remained for sale from what the State was offering at the Children’s Carnival. On the way home to the suburb of Vista Alegre, Yanet bought Marlon an imported malta in a mall. A few meters away, a reseller offered a packet of cookies for 15 pesos, 5 more than the original price, the same ones that ran out a few hours earlier at the State-owned points of sale.


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

Cubans Lose Sleep Over Getting Cell Phone Service from Etecsa

Lines at the Cubacel office of the Holguin Business Center for the promotion ‘If you activate, you earn 30’. (Leonardo del Valle)

14ymedio biggerLeonardo del Valle / Mario J. Pentón, Holguín/ Miami , 24 April 2018 — The tumult in front of the offices of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba in Holguin is a sign of something good and the people in line know it.

“I have been waiting more than three years for the promotion If you activate, you earn 30. If this weren’t the case, I would never have been able to contract for the line I need so much to communicate with my sister who lives in Miami,” Onilda Peña Pérez, 71, tells 14ymedio.

A decade ago, Raul Castro authorized Cubans to contract for mobile phone lines, but the market has not been normalized. The lines that form each time Etecsa launches an offer have more to do with the commotion generated by an innovative product than with a service associated with an article that millions of people already enjoy. continue reading

The answer to this behavior lies in the high prices Etecsa’s customers must face. The phone and Internet monopoy on the Island charges 40 CUC for the activation of a cellular line and 0.35 CUC for a minute of conversation, so that an offer to receive 30 CUC of recharge for registering a number at the same price has overwhelmed the company’s points of sale.

“I have been dealing with the line for almost a week, from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening, do you think that at my age and with my heart disease I can handle this mess?” Laments Onilda Pérez.

From the moment the telecommunications monopoly announced this promotion, that had not been offered for three years, hundreds of people began to make lists, to sleep outdoors and pay up to 10 CUC to others to stand in line for them.

The shortage of offices is no help in easing the madness that occurs with each promotion.

In Holguin, Etecsa allocated three offices to market the offer, which is in effect between the 9th and 13th of this month: the commercial office, the Telepunto located in front of the Calixto García park and the business center. This number is clearly insufficient for one of the provinces with the greatest trade in and demand for mobile phones, an Etecsa worker told 14ymedio.

Even though speaking for one minute via cell phone costs 280 times more than the same length of call from a landline, during the promotion period If you activate, you earn 30, the local Etecsa subdivision sold 33,000 lines.

“Today Holguin is, after Havana, the province where more mobile lines are activated, we have a total of 365,000 mobile lines, that is, four out of ten Holguineros has one and we are the third province by number of lines,” said an official.

Despite the good sales results, the conditions in which Etecsa agents work “are terrible,” according to the worker.

“Since 2014, the commercial deputy director of the company, Darquiris Sánchez Castro, has said that they were evaluating having the company occupy the dilapidated building of the Municipal Court of Holguín.” Four years later, the store continues to fall apart, while we work in overcrowded conditions,” she protests.

That’s another problem. In addition to being few, the facilities also lack the minimal comforts for the employees who spend their hours there. In addition, only a limited number of people at a time are allowed inside the premises, so the lines fill the portals outside, the sidewalks and even the street itself, with customers exposed to inclement weather.

Users also complain about the proliferation of fraudsters who try to take advantage of the circumstance, leading to cases of resellers in the line charging 45 CUC or scammers who fled after charging 35 CUC in exchange for offering access without standing in line.

“I think they could look for other alternatives to avoid tumults and scams like those that have occurred,” says Mario Rodríguez, a self-employed worker in the area who takes advantage of the opportunity to complain about the recharge promotions from abroad that, in his judgment, only serve to capture foreign currency without thinking about the domestic customer.

The use of cell phones for Cubans was authorized on April 14, 2008, in the midst of the first Raulist reforms to eliminate “absurd prohibitions.” As of 1993, only foreigners had been allowed to contract for mobile phone lines prohibitive prices ($140 per line).

The prices far exceed the official average salary that barely reaches 29.5 CUC per month (roughly the same in dollars), but Cubans are doing everything they can to get the money to get a line.

“The main problem for people is the price of the lines and the phones themselves, the equipment is very expensive from Etecsa and if you buy it from the outside you can end up with a cell phone with a false imei code and you lose your money,” says Rosa María Silva, an Etesca customer, in a telephone conversation from Cienfuegos.

The number of cell lines has grown exponentially. This year the country reached five million active lines, covering 43% of the country’s inhabitants. However, the country continues to lag behind Latin America, where the penetration of mobile phones reaches 65%.

The prices of the cell phones for sale from Etecsa are high, especially when compared to the cost of these devices in the informal market, fed by gifts from relatives who have emigrated to the United States.

A Samsung Galaxy J7 smartphone, valued at 129 dollars in the United States, costs 295 CUC in Cuba. An Alcatel Idol-3 brand phone, which can be purchased for $100 on the international market, is sold by the Cuban telecommunications monopoly for 280 CUC.

Etecsa also offers cheaper phones, such as the Huawei Y360-U31, valued at 70 CUC (In the international market it can be found for 56 dollars) and the Huawei Ascend Y-221, at 45 CUC. “Sometimes there are some phones available at 30 CUC, but then you have to go back to standing in these giant lines because people go out en masse to buy them,” Silva says sadly.


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