The Harvest Begins in Cuba After the Worst Planting of Sugarcane in More Than a Century

In other times, the sugar industry was the economic engine of Cuba but it suffered a drastic fall in production from the 1990s. (ACN)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 26 November 2022 — Cuba’s 2022-2023 sugar harvest began this Friday with the goal of producing 455,198 tons of sugar in a harvest that will be “small,” seeking to resuscitate the depressed sector.

In this harvest, started in the central province of Cienfuegos, it is planned to grind 6.5 million tons of sugar cane with only 23 factories, 13 fewer than in the previous harvest, according to the strategy set out by the Azcuba state group, which manages the area.

It’s about making an “objective and flexible harvest, although small, with good practices,” concentrating resources in fewer sugar mills with the aspiration to achieve “greater efficiency,” as explained by the president of Azcuba, Julio García Pérez.

The purpose will be to concentrate production for family consumption through the rationing book — which delivers 4 pounds of sugar per person per month — as well as for tourism, medicines, industrial production and export. continue reading

In addition to producing to satisfy national consumption, the sector’s plans aim to produce more alcohol, electricity and derivatives for domestic consumption and the foreign market.

Cuban President Diaz-Canel Gets a Donation From China of 100 Million Dollars and More Cybersecurity

Rodrigo Malmierca, the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, has carried out all the concrete negotiations in Algeria, Turkey, Russia and now in China. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2022 — In China, the last station of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s panhandling tour, the Cuban delegation signed a dozen agreements and appealed to “friendship among the peoples” to extend Havana’s debt terms with Beijing and get an “emergency donation” of about one hundred million dollars.

The negotiations focussed on biotechnology (essential to continue manufacturing vaccines), energy and the most recent obsession of the Cuban regime: cybersecurity and computer surveillance, which will give it more technological resources to control the population and prevent new protests such as those of July 11, 2021.

Locked in a “bubble” against the resurgence of coronavirus that China is going through, Díaz-Canel told the journalists who accompanied him on the trip that the results “are above our expectations.” According to him, Xi told him that “we have to find solutions to all of Cuba’s problems,” despite “the challenges with debt.”

His “small country” — as he has also defined Cuba in front of Putin and Erdogan — will pay, although he is not sure when. We must provide China, he explained, with guarantees to “help our friends feel secure about what we are doing,” because “they’re taking off a little” to accommodate the default on the debt, whose repayment has been impossible since 2019. continue reading

Díaz-Canel affirmed that he felt the need to “explain” to Xi the rosary of “involuntary” calamities that have shaken the Island: accidents, hurricanes, coronavirus and, of course, the “hardening” of the US blockade, which has caused a “tense situation” for his government. “It’s not the same when you can talk, when you can explain, when things can be understood from sensitivity,” he said.

The Chinese “are open,” the president concluded, which he interpreted as a sign that his arguments about Cuba’s willingness to accept foreign investment had worked.

Díaz-Canel will return to Cuba with an “emergency cash donation” of about one hundred million dollars, the result of one of the twelve agreements signed with Xi. In addition, there will be another donation of food and medicines, signed by Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, who has carried out all the concrete negotiations in Algeria, Turkey, Russia and now China.

Beijing will also offer the Island the indispensable raw materials — in addition to an economic donation — to complete the number of school uniforms for the year that begins next Monday, which will start with a notable deficit of material. Another of the contracts guarantees the supply of “kitchen utensils for high-impact programs.”

Several agreements, the most ambiguous, define a “plan of political consultations” between the Cuban and Chinese Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Signed by Chancellor Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, it was not explained what the nature of these “consultations” would be, which Cuba will be obliged to offer until 2025. The contract for “exchange and cooperation” between the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban Communist Party is also political.

The expansion of the new Silk Road and the role of “entry” to Latin America that the Island has were ensured by several “memoranda of understanding,” signed by Malmierca.

In an interview published in Cubadebate, Alejandro Gil, Minister of Economy and member of the Cuban delegation, assured that these agreements are the gateway to “new financing” from Beijing. Funds will be provided to activate the Floating Dam installed in 2019 — essential for the construction and repair of ships on the Island — and to execute a program of “reconversion or modernization” of the Cuban press, one of the main interests of the Chinese Communist Party, according to Gil.

In addition, the financing of a wind energy park, another solar park in Las Tunas and two bio-pesticide plants in Havana and Villa Clara will be explored. And Chinese companies have been invited to make “direct investments” on Cuban territory, the minister said.

The most disturbing agreements, however, are those that promise Chinese aid in the digital and telecommunications fields. In addition to the execution of a “Biocubafarma Cloud Telepresence System,” which promotes digitization in the vaccine and drug manufacturing sector, China signed a project to organize a National Identity System for Natural Persons and another Wireless Network Supervision System.

To both projects — backed by an economic donation — is added a Forensic Data Laboratory that the Government plans to execute. The implications of these contracts for espionage and state surveillance of the Cuban population will be notable, since they guarantee the use on the Island of the digital monitoring systems that Xi Jinping and his Government have been implementing in their own country for years.

With the creation, this Wednesday, of a National Working Group for Cybersecurity, the Cuban regime is taking more concrete steps in the surveillance of the digital environment and Cuban communications. A recent alliance of Xetid, the technology company of the Armed Forces, with Etecsa, makes evident the growing government interest in executing an “offensive” on social networks.

This was confirmed by Cuban Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, who together with Álvaro López Miera, Minister of the Armed Forces, organised a cybersecurity workshop to display surveillance equipment — several of Chinese manufacture — that the Government will install on the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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 President Diaz-Canel Arrives in China to ‘Promote the Adaptation of Marxism to Our Time’

Díaz-Canel with his wife Liz Cuesta boarding the plane from Ankara to Beijing. (Cuba Presidency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 24 November 2022 — Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is heading to China now. It’s the last stop of a presidential tour aimed at courting some partners to whom, in return, little can be promised except influence on the American continent and agreements in countries where the Island still retains some prestige, such as in healthcare.

On the eve of this visit, the Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui, offered an interview to the Xinhua state agency in which he made clear the idea: “We will work together to promote the great practice of adapting Marxism to our time and, together, undertake a new socialist construction with its own characteristics, for the benefit of the two countries and the two peoples, and make new and greater contributions to the bright future of humanity.”

Ma Hui stressed that both countries have had a high level of cooperation for 10 years, the greatest example of which has been the Chinese aid sent to Cuba during the pandemic and the three great tragedies that took place in 2022: the explosion of the Saratoga hotel in Havana, fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base and the passage of Hurricane Ian.

According to the ambassador, the areas of collaboration will be extended from this visit to energy, agriculture, biomedicine, science and technology, education and culture. Few sectors are left out of this cooperation, since some agreements were not mentioned but are already known to exist in transport and industry. Those that were named involve exports from the Island that include the typical rum and tobacco, honey and other products that have disappeared from the life of Cubans, such as sea cucumber, eel and some fruits.

It’s important to take care of the relationship, then, since it affects almost everything. Good proof of this is that even the most unsuspected things have a Chinese hand behind them. “We have been able to secure the clothing that we already have available thanks to a donation from China,” revealed the Cuban Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, appearing Tuesday on State TV’s Roundtable program, referring to the school uniforms.

The official explained that the start of the 2022-2023 academic year will begin next Monday, November 28, after accumulated delays due to the pandemic, and China is providing the financing. Mirla Díaz Fonseca, continue reading

President of the Business Group of Light Industry (GEMPIL), stated that the initial demand was for 2,153,310 garments, but the quantity had to be adjusted to 1,274,000 garments, of which 100% have been delivered to primary schools.

Uniforms are lacking, the officials said, basically because of the blackouts, and they have had to resort to techniques such as the blue-dyeing of the old mustard uniforms. “We have asked for help from the seamstresses in the sports industry, for example, and we are talking about using the GEMPIL carriers to distribute the fabric, pieces and buttons,” they added.

However, little would have been achieved without the aid from China, which, in addition, provided financing; however, no further details were given.

All this exchange, which has made China the second largest trading partner of the Island, provides the Asian giant with a gateway to Latin America, where it has been consolidating its influence over the years. This Thursday, the country’s state press pointed out that the volume of bilateral trade between China and Cuba increased by 7.2% in 2021. In addition, trade continued to grow in the first three quarters of this year, and China’s imports from Cuba even increased by 18.1%.

The improvement is reflected on the rest of the continent, since, according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, 21 countries in the region have signed some type of collaboration with the New Silk Roads, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese plan to build roads, railways, ports, logistics platforms and other infrastructure in more than 60 countries.

“The Chinese and Latin American economies are highly complementary, and among them there is enormous potential for cooperation,” said the spokeswoman, adding that the volume of trade between the two regions “has fully recovered and already exceeds that existing before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the Chinese ambassador to Havana, “China and Cuba are linked by common ideals and beliefs, and as traveling companions of socialism, they will take advantage of this visit as an opportunity to continue strengthening the relationship between the two parties and the two nations.”

Hardly any information has emerged about the official agenda, although it’s expected to develop in an “anti-covid bubble,” through which the entourage’s contact with the outside is avoided.

Carlos Miguel Pereira, Cuban Ambassador to China, just announced that Díaz-Canel “will honor Chinese heroes” and stressed that after 62 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations, bilateral ties “have reached full maturity.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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 New Electric Tricycles in Havana are (Practically) Phantoms

Electric tricycles, presented by the Havana authorities, for operating on the new routes in the Playa (Beach) district. (Tribuna de La Habana)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 25 November 2022 — The authorities in Havana have twice announced, in their customary pomp, the arrival of electric vehicles onto new transport routes in the Playa district. The first time, two weeks ago, the official press assured us that a tricycle service would commence on 15 November, but this didn’t materialize.

Days later, and without any explanation, Tribuna de La Habana changed the start date: it would be the following Monday, 21 November, when a total of 20 electric tricycles would begin to operate, increasing later to 25, They would be organised on three routes: from 3rd and 80 to La Ceguera hospital; from avenue 120 to the hospital; and from 120 to La Puntilla, on a timetable running from 7am to 7pm.

“People will be able to access an affordable, quick and efficient alternative to, and complement to, the public bus service, which will generate local employment”, boasted the provincial newspaper.

However, the vehicles didn’t appear anywhere. At La Puntilla, for example, the supposed final stop on one of the routes, none of the local residents said they’d seen the new means of transport, which was meant to help alleviate the ever pressing crisis of mobility in the capital, owing chiefly to the shortage of fuel.

Neither could any signage be seen at the supposed stops along the routes, such as on Calle 0 and 1.

Julio, who works near to the Sierra Maestra building — headquarters of the Cimex Corporation — was already thinking they must be nothing more than “phantom tricycles” when, on Friday, he finally got onto one. “It was quite by chance. I found it when I was walking down Third street, but hardly anyone knows about them, so much so, that where I boarded there were no other passengers waiting, and just one woman got on board during the whole journey”. continue reading

The vehicle, which has a capacity of 6 passengers and a range of 120 km, was driven by a woman, like other electric tricycles operating in Havana, but on these new routes, according to the driver, they have hired men too.

At a price of 4 pesos people usually pay 5 and don’t expect any change. “I’m not going to ask for one peso back”, Julio explained. “No, and I’m not going to give it to you!”, replied the driver, laughing — in a country where the decreasing value of small denomination notes and coins makes them more and more useless for making everyday payments.

Regarding energy sources, there’s still no news about those solar powered hubs that were promised for the Ecotaxis in Central Havana. “This thing is charged up on the normal mains power supply, no solar panels or anything like that”, explained the vehicle’s driver. “Those kinds of things only work on television. Beyond that, no, nothing”, her passenger replied, cynically.

It goes without saying that the arrival of the new tricycles is designed to force a lowering of prices by the taxi drivers operating the beach zone. One journey in a big almendrón* taxi costs at least 50 pesos, but the likelihood of a price drop remains far off. While the old Chevrolets or Fords circulate constantly around the city, the new initiative by the authorities can hardly be seen. They might have three wheels, but the others have many years of struggling with inflation and with state experiments.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso

*Translator’s note: Almendrón — from the Spanish word for ‘almond’, because of the shape — is the name given to the large classic American cars operated as taxis in Cuba.

____________

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 Calls for the Release of Cuban Protesters Detained on 11 July 2021 (11J)

Photo of Jonathan Torres Farrat with his mother published by Nichols to demand the release of the llJ prisoners. (@WHAAsstSecty)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana/Washington, 24 November 2022 — The United States called for the release of Cuban demonstrators detained in the protests of July 11, 2021, who are being tried this Wednesday, including Jonathan Torres, a minor when the events occurred.

“We are concerned about the upcoming trial of Jonathan Torres Farrat, who was only 17 years old during the 11J protests. He faces up to 8 years in prison,” the Undersecretary for Latin America of the State Department, Brian Nichols, said on social media.

The message is accompanied by a photograph of the young man, who was accused of “public disorder” and “assault” after participating in the largest protests in Cuba in decades. “Families must be together. The Cuban government must release Jonathan and other detained protesters,” adds the head of relations with Latin America holding the foreign portfolio.

Torres’ mother, Bárbara Farrat, said she felt hopeful after the first day of the trial, speaking to the Spanish agency EFE. “There is hope that a lower penalty will be achieved,” she said.

Farrat, who defends her son’s innocence, said she observed that the president of the Havana court who judges him could opt for the penalty of “correctional work without internment.” continue reading

Torres’ mother had been summoned to testify against her own son, but refrained from doing so, she told EFE.

In the first session of the trial, the testimony of one of the witnesses for the Prosecutor’s Office — a police officer who claimed to have been assaulted by the demonstrators — was discarded after he contradicted himself and failed to identify his attackers, according to the mother and her husband, Orlando Ramírez. “They presented videos as evidence (against the 15 prosecuted), but there were times when an expert said that he could only be 50% sure that it was Jonathan. They also wanted to say that it was him because of the color of his shoes,” Ramírez said. An agent, Ramírez recalled, even said that there was a video of the assault, but this turned out not to be true.

Despite what they saw in the courtroom this Wednesday, Ramírez and Ferrat doubt that there may be an acquittal. “We all know the situation that the boys are in,” they said regretfully.

According to the letter to which EFE had access, the defendants are accused of throwing “stones, bottles, pieces of wood and other items” at the police and shouting slogans against the Government and President Miguel Díaz-Canel. According to the prosecutor’s petition, dated December 30 of last year, the defendants carried out actions “of violence without limits.”

The ages of the defendants range between 17 and 51 years old, with Torres being the youngest. He is one of the 55 protesters between the ages of 16 and 17 who face criminal proceedings for the events.

Although the Supreme Court alleges that in all cases “due process” is observed, the relatives of the convicted and some NGOs warn of the constant irregularities. In addition, access to the trials for the independent or foreign press or the diplomats who requested it has not been allowed.

After the 11J protests, about 600 sentences have been handed down, some up to 30 years in prison. Several of the magistrates who are judging these cases have been added to the list of repressors prepared by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FDHC).

Precisely, one of the people on the list is the Cuban prosecutor Vivian Pérez Pérez, who prepared the dossiers against the 15 defendants now in Havana, in addition to another for San Miguel Padrón. In both cases she requested very high penalties.

“Since June, Pérez Pérez can be found under file number 597 in the database of Cuban repressors, for having produced two unjust dossiers in the preparatory phase against peaceful 11J protesters,” said Rolando Cartaya, a specialist in the FDHC program.

“In the first, number 755, she requested penalties of between 5 and 14 years in prison for 15 of those who protested in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, mostly young people, accused of public disorder, contempt, assault and incitement to commit a crime. At the end of October, the relatives of these defendants received word of the final sentences: between 3 and 10 years in prison.”

“It is now announced that 15 other protesters of that popular uprising will go to trial on November 23 and 24, but in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. Prosecutor Pérez Pérez was even more severe in asking for sentences of 7 to 12 years of deprivation of liberty for the same crimes. But in this case, 13 of the 15 defendants face prosecutors’ petitions for 10 years or more.”

“Prosecutor Pérez Pérez could be accused of two malfeasance charges for requesting these sentences, obviously unfair and disproportionate,” Cartaya concluded.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Erdogan Dispatches the Castroite Delegation at Full Speed

Díaz-Canel and Erdogan. (Cibercuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 24 November 2022 — And Cuban President Díaz-Canel arrived with his entourage to Turkey, including a photographer-reporter on the plane with a more sanchista (Pedro Sánchez)-than-Kennedy aesthetic. This is the third stop of the economic journey that began in Algeria. And of course, as could not be otherwise, the Cuban state press praised and described it as “very fruitful and encouraging” encounter with an unimproved President Erdogan, whose face reflected the serious hardships of the Turkish economy and the political instability of the country.

Let’s take this apart. Recent economic data from Turkey are not good. Inflation in October skyrocketed by 85.5% year-on-year; the unemployment rate, 12.8%, is among the highest in the world. These two data point to a population with low purchasing power with an average salary of 8,000 euros.

Foreign trade, strongly unbalanced by imports, has a coverage rate of 82%, with a trade deficit in GDP of -5.65%. And finally, economic growth throughout this year does not exceed 2.1%. Bad data for one country to offer economic collaboration with another. The rating agencies (Moody’s S&P, Fitch) grant Turkey a B, due to doubts about its financial capacity. As for political instability, the authorities still continue to investigate the terrible attack in Istanbul a few days ago, with notable repercussions for the country’s tourism.

So Díaz-Canel’s advisor, who planned this stage of the economic journey, must not have had access to these statistical data, and if he did, or he didn’t interpret them correctly, or someone told him to forget about them, then It’s not surprising that Díaz-Canel told Erdogan that “relationships between the two countries are maintained on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples,” and went on to add that, in economic-commercial matters, “Cuba ratifies its willingness to continue working in sectors of mutual interest, such as biotechnology, renewable energies, tourism, agriculture, livestock, health, education, sports and culture.” Or what is the same, “give me something.” Doesn’t matter what, but give me something. continue reading

And it seems that Erdogan, with little time for this kind of begging, and driven from Russia by his ally, Putin, valued the visit as “historic” and announced that it will be “a turning point in the ties between the two countries.” But how, and with what?

It seems that he intends to achieve this with investments by Turkish companies already established in Cuba; in particular, with the technical support to the Island in cooperation projects associated with agricultural development, and the realization of joint investments to produce vaccines, taking into account that Cuba and Turkey are countries that have been able to develop their own treatments against COVID-19. And little else.

This offer from Erdogan, of a small amount and little real impact, resulted in the signing of six agreements, of which four are memorandums of understanding: two between the foreign ministries, a third between the central banks of both nations and a fourth between the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and the Turkish Agency for Cooperation and Coordination. Burocracy at full speed.

Erdogan quickly dispatched the Cuban communist delegation. No joke. And Díaz-Canel, seeking to extend the meeting, told the journalists who were waiting for him at the exit, that “we have just had official talks with President Erdogan. It has been a very fruitful and encouraging exchange, in which we have ratified the will to continue strengthening political relations between both countries.”

And coincidentally, no journalist asked him, as a suggestion, if what was addressed at this meeting could not have been agreed upon in a videoconference from Havana, thinking about the agonizing situation that Cubans live in. It doesn’t matter, no one asked about the cost of the trip and this delegation — as has already been seen before in Algeria and Russia — does not skimp on expenses.

Instead of hiding the waste of money for something that was already known to be agreed and closed, Díaz-Canel told journalists that “it’s an honor for us to be here and to be able to respond to the invitation given to us by the most excellent President Erdogan, to visit his country.”

And knowing that this argument for the invitation is limited, he added “it is also a great satisfaction to make this visit in the context of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which have been maintained uninterruptedly on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples.” More or less, the same. Superfluous expenditure. A videoconference would have been much more practical.

However, the journey through Turkey was once again pregnant with tourist events and of a low economic profile, such as the meeting of Díaz-Canel with members of the Cuba-Turkey José Martí Friendship Association, founded 20 years ago, and a counterpart to others in Europe, which receive the discreet support of the Cuban foreign ministries.

Díaz-Canel also visited, accompanied by his wife Liz Cuesta, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, and there he again declared something that is uncertain, “the Cuban and Turkish peoples are united by shared values, in recognition of the legacy of the founders of both nations.”

The state press reports that “the tribute had as its prelude a quiet walk along a long and wide path in which the sun reflected off the cream marble of the trail.” That is, more tourism paid for by the Cuban state budget.

Then the entourage entered the tower of Misak-I-Mili, where Díaz-Canel wrote in the book that collects the impressions of those who arrive to meet and pay honors with the consequent reference to Fidel Castro that he described as a “source of inspiration for the Cuban revolution.”

And little else remained to be done in Turkey, on a lightning visit that seems to have lasted much less than in the other two destinations. For whatever reason. Cuban communists don’t give something for nothing.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Canada Condemns the ‘Hard Sentences’ Against the July 11, 2021 (11J) Protesters in Cuba

Cuban-Canadian Michael Lima, human rights activist and director of Democratic Spaces. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Toronto, 25 November 2022 — Canada communicated to Cuba its “great concern” about the “violent repression” of the protests on the Island and condemned the sentences against the protesters of July 11, 2021, but did not indicate whether it will sanction the Cuban regime, as human rights organizations have requested.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada told EFE that it has transmitted “to the highest levels” of the Cuban regime its concern about the repression against protesters, journalists and activists, and that it condemns the “hard sentences” of the 11J protesters, up to 13 years in prison, according to the ruling leaked this month.

“Canada will continue to raise its concerns to Cuban officials about human rights violations,” the spokeswoman for the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sabrina Williams, told EFE.

Williams also confirmed that senior Canadian officials met with the NGO Democratic Spaces, which on November 14, together with the Cuba Decide organization, requested sanctions by Ottawa against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, senior officials and other entities of the regime for human rights violations. continue reading

The spokeswoman did not indicate whether Canada will sanction the Cuban regime, but added that the Canadian government considers it important to “provide a voice for human rights defenders and better understand their concerns and also to express them to Cuban officials.”

Michael Lima, a human rights activist and director of Democratic Spaces, confirmed to EFE that he met with senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 16, and said that, although Ottawa has not announced sanctions against the regime, he detected a change in mentality in the Canadian authorities.

“We are pleased that Canada understands that Cuba is a dictatorship, one of the oldest in the world, and that there needs to be justice. I liked seeing the change of mentality in Canadian government officials, who understand that human rights are systematically violated in Cuba,” he said.

Lima blamed Canada’s different attitude towards countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran, to which Ottawa has applied sanctions similar to those requested against Cuba, in the absence of information about what is happening in the country.

“We are asking for uniformity in (Canadian) foreign policy,” he explained.

The director of Democratic Spaces believes that the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, “admires” the Cuban regime for the friendship between Fidel Castro and his father, Pierre Trudeau, who led Canada twice, first from 1968 to 1979 and later from 1980 to 1984.

“And if the prime minister has that position, it influences the formulation of foreign policy,” he said.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

‘I Can’t Serve You Because You’ve Been Reported Dead’

“I went to Oficoda [Office in charge of rationing in Cuba] and they told me that in their records my ration book registration was circled, with a number “1”, and it appeared that I was dead”. (14ymedio)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 24 November 2022 – Ricardo, 77, rose that morning in good spirits, not imagining the awful surprise that awaited him in the grocery store where he went to buy his rations for November: “I can’t serve you because you’ve been reported dead”, the assistant replied after being given his ration book.

Three days and many formalities later, this habanero pensioner was finally able to prove that he was still alive.

The store assistant had explained that he needed to go to the Consumer’s Registry Office (Oficoda) with his ID card, his ration book and any evidence that proved that he hadn’t died. The scene was like it was lifted from the black comedy Death of a Bureaucrat (1966), but instead of happening on the cinema screen it was happening right there in Havana in 2022.

“I went to Oficoda and they repeated that in their records my ration book registration was circled, with a number “1”, and it appeared that I was dead”, Ricardo told 14ymedio. “It was a really absurd situation, because how are you supposed to prove to an official that you’re alive, if not just to walk up to her and talk, and ask questions”, he joked. “In the end I moved up closer to the woman and asked her: Miss, do I smell like I’m dead?”

Joking aside, correcting the error not only took Ricardo quite some time, and a ton of paperwork, but he also had to postpone getting his quota of rice, cereal and other produce. “While I was there in the Oficoda another three people arrived who were in the same situation. Two had been taken for having died and the other one for having emigrated”, he said. continue reading

The process of digitalisation of data at Oficoda started in 2018. Although at first the authorities presented this process as a means to speed up and improve the procedures offered to the population, the truth is that their real objective was to identify relatives of deceased or emigrated individuals who continued to buy food rations in their place.

The obligation to cancel the ration book of a deceased or emigrated person isn’t a particularly new or original one. Resolution 78, passed by the Ministry of Interior Commerce in 1991, imposes this rule on people who are in prison, in care homes, in long-term hospitalisation or resident abroad for more than three months, and they have between ten and sixty days to be taken off the ration book system.

However, the rule has hardly been applied for decades, and this has contributed to the existence of thousands and thousands of “ghost consumers”. In 2021 alone, in the province of Ciego de Ávila, 15,000 of the 437,000 registered total no longer even lived in the country, according to data from the Department of Identification, Immigration and Alien Status published in the official press. This phenomenon applies across the whole Island and has gotten worse in recent months, with the massive exodus of people from the country.

With Cuba’s economic crisis and its lack of currency for buying products abroad, Oficoda has tightened up its investigations into the existence of these ‘ghost consumers’. The digitisation of its register will certainly have helped in this process, but errors, and the reliance on unchecked information from store managers or other consumers, along with corruption itself, have all left a substantial and continuing potential for irregularity.

Ángela, a resident of Luyanó, Havana, told this newspaper: “They managed to duplicate my ration book. I went to sort something out at Oficoda and when they put in my family data they found there was a duplicate book”. Up until then somebody else had been buying bread and other regulated food products designated to Ángela and her family members, but no one had noticed it.

“I don’t have a photocopier in my house for making a copy of the ration book. So who did that?”, she complained. But the official just answered vaguely, “There must have been an error during the digitalisation process”. During the hour and a half that Ángela spent at the centre trying to sort out the problem, at least two others arrived with similar problems. They were all given the same excuse about probable errors in digitisation.

It isn’t just a routine problem to have your ration book duplicated or to be removed from the system because you’re presumed dead — it becomes a real headache for victims. This document, which has been used by every Cuban since as long ago as  1962, has actually gained in significance in the area of state commerce in recent years. Instead of disappearing, as optimists had predicted, these days it has become indispensable for obtaining products which until recently were on sale more freely.

“Being presumed dead not only stops me from buying the regulated amounts of rice or coffee, but also from getting a packet of chicken or even a bit of washing powder”, says Ricardo. Ever since that fateful morning, every time he wakes up he looks closely at himself in the mirror, touches his chest, breathes in and tells himself, with some relief: “I’m alive. And I hope Oficoda knows it too!”.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso

____________

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.

You Can Still Love and Be Happy in a Dictatorship

Pablo Milanés. RTVE

Diario de Cuba, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Saint Louis, 24 November 2022 — An icon of Castroism has died. Pablo Milanés now belongs to history. May the soul of a contemporary Cuban rest in peace. Thank you for allowing us to be your exceptional witnesses. We promise to tell the Cubans to come about you, with love.

A musical work by Pablo Milanés, after his death in European exile, inevitably begins to be updated again, especially in that instantaneous civic square that is the Internet. I mean, here.

How much did he win, how much did he lose? What did he sing and what didn’t he sing, who did he sang for and who didn’t he sing for? Also, as attached to his scores and his good-natured Bayamé voice, his anthological selfies with the tyrant return, which today are part of the emotional archeology of a tyranny that at times illuminated and at times made our days unbearable.

Faced with mourning for the disappeared of the Cuban Utopia, the voiceless victims of the Paradise of the Proletariat, we always need to bet on light and compassion. We are better than our executioners, and we have known how to be reborn to a life in truth, free and good in the midst of the servile and vile. Totalitarianism is powerless before our tenderness.

Qualities and originalities apart, Pablo Milanés was a genius of our national songwriting of all time. His absence impacts us from another place that doesn’t necessarily go through reason. Just admit it. The future of free Cubans without Cuba cannot begin with a gesture of denial.

Because Pablo hurts us, he grips our hearts. A bit pathetically and provincially, it’s true, but what can we do? We are like that, half sentimental and half wise. And we feel in Pablito an existential companion that we have lost and whose loss — we all know it, knowing it or not — will be irretrievable for the rest of our biographies.

Pablo Milanés shone with his own brilliance. And also with that brilliance he kidnapped thousands and thousands of Cubans who could have been as creative and affectionate as him, but who ended up mentally and physically demolished by the dictatorship of Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Pablo Milanés knew closely those Cubans who did not fit in the Nueva Trova, but were forced to be militants of hatred until today (if they survived the olive green military). And, for decades, he delicately shut them up. continue reading

Having been one of them himself at the beginning of his career, Pablo perhaps considered that his triumph would be his best revenge against the brutes and abusers who imposed barbarism on us disguised as ideology.

Over time, the one who appeases everything, Pablo Milanés began to take a discreet distance from the ossified elite in power in Havana. We reach the 21st century together. We began to miss each other among Cubans. Until last Monday, when he died far from home — as you and I will die — the singer-songwriter had already broken rhetorically with the Revolution, from the peaceful perspective of the prophet who believes that the revolution has been betrayed by the revolutionaries themselves.

Poor for the singer and good.

It would be a mistake of the human soul to leave the remains of Pablo Milanés in the hands of local repressors, allies or renegades with him in life. It would be a mistake of political strategy to put his legacy among the icons of the international left. And it would be a mistake of Cubanness to renounce wanting to be in communion with a Cuban who, yes, was able to love and be happy in the midst of Island totalitarianism.

As you and I were able to, until we were no longer.

And that’s precisely why we left, remember? We escaped from the horror because we could still love and be happy in the Castroite prison in the open air into which they converted Cuba. And because, from that love and that happiness under surveillance, we could still make the sovereign decision to leave the Island to love and be happy at any other solitary point on the planet.

Here we are still. Together. Connected from a distance. Inconsolable, but never irreconcilable. Without Pablo Milanés.

We don’t need to make mourning another cause of combat, nor that our immemorial wrath undoes our memory of the singer-songwriter. If we could fall in love and feel happiness on the Island under the lies and violence of the military junta, it makes no sense to deny it now in the inner democracy in which each Cuban can fulfill himself.

Pablo Milanés belongs to the Cuban people. He is a treasure and a testimony in perpetuity of what we are going through. The Revolution is even running out of its dead. In addition, death is a very desolate place. Let’s not leave Pablito there, please.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Former Congressman Joe Garcia Resorts to the Figure of Mas Canosa to Justify his Trip to Cuba

García, the second from left to right, during a meeting with Cuban businesspeople from the private sector. (Twitter/Joe García)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2022 — Former Democratic congressman for Florida, Joe García, pointed out in an interview with OnCuba that the Biden government will take more steps in its policy of rapprochement with the Island, the first of which, the issue of remittances, is already underway.  In a conversation with the media he defended his controversial trip to Havana, where he met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and he said that it didn’t contradict the spirit of Jorge Mas Canosa, the deceased historical leader of Miami’s Cuban exile community and García’s mentor.

“It doesn’t seem to me that I did anything that wasn’t in agreement with the history of Jorge Mas Canosa. Remember that once he debated with Ricardo Alarcón,” alleges the politician, whose interest is focussed on promoting cooperation between Florida and the Island through small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs]. He emphatically states that “Cuba’s problem cannot be solved without Miami.”

“The rules [of the embargo] that apply to the Government and Cuban companies do not apply to SMEs in Cuba,” García explains. According to him, despite not exactly being a businessman, he has been working for some time to establish relations allowed by the embargo laws and despite the obstacles in Havana.

The former congressman, born in Miami in 1963 and close to former President Barack Obama, recounted his trip last week to the Island. In it, he had the opportunity to verify that the population’s need is extreme and considers that the Cuban community abroad can help develop initiatives that improve the lives of Cubans without going through the Cuban Government, which is possible, he indicates, through private businesses.

“They can buy without restrictions. They are entrepreneurs, and the law and regulations that Obama wrote allow them to do business with SMEs,” he emphasizes. Asked about the timid progress of the current president, García says that there will be more: “[Joe Biden] has done a little and will do more. Look, he opened the embassy again, restarted the flights, not only to Havana but to the interior, and now they are working to improve the situation with remittances.” continue reading

Joe García participated in a meeting that has generated a lot of discomfort in the sector considered the hardcore of exile, which no longer makes up only the political exiles of the 1960s, as before. The Democrat reflects on the most recent wave of emigrants, many of them for economic reasons, who arrived in the United States more radicalized than before.

“That is a question that the Government of Cuba should ask itself, because these are children of the Revolution. Here you can’t blame Batista, the CIA, the US government, the Russians. Who is to blame for this reality, that mostly people between the ages of 35 and younger arrive with perceptions about their own country that could not be instilled by me, or anyone else? The question is as follows: if Cuba can’t talk to its children, who is it talking to? Who are you going to bury?” he argues.

The politician defends himself against the sector that has criticized his trip more vigorously and says that he was with an entire group of people gathered to “study the theme of SMEs and the forms of investment in Cuba.” They met in a salon where Miguel Díaz-Canel gave a speech, after which García had the opportunity to talk with him.

“There are things that I’m not going to reveal. But I told him that the issue of SMEs had to be pursued, that it was an opportunity, and that the decisions that were made had to be implemented. I also advocated for the people who are imprisoned in Cuba after the events of July last year and other events,” he says. He recognizes, however, that there was no reaction. “We’ll see if he listened to me. But he heard me.”

The former congressman insists that neither his trip, his conversations with Cuban officials or his intention to do business on the Island clash with the ideas of his admired Mas Canosa who, he says, he had in mind at this meeting.

“What I know is that I have buried many friends, men who fought with weapons in Cuba, and who impressed me with their memories, their affection, their deep love for the Cuban nation. I have buried many. Some of them, in important positions, all they want is a dignified reunion with their country. And it seems to me that it’s something that the country owes them too. No 80-year-old man, who must be the age of the youngest brigadier [of Playa Girón — the Bay of Pigs, to Americans], is a threat and something that the Government of Cuba must fear.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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’s State Communications Company and Armed Forces Create a Cybersecurity Group

The companies participating in the workshop showed Marrero Cruz, the Minister of the Armed Forces, and other military and officials, several surveillance items. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2022 — Closely monitored by an entourage of the Armed Forces, Manuel Marrero Cruz created a National Working Group for Cybersecurity in Havana on Wednesday. Although the Cuban prime minister avoided mentioning it, this step facilitates the recent alliance of the state communications monopoly, Etecsa, with the military Information Technology Company for Defense, known as Xetid.

Xetid, founded in 2013 by a group of military computer scientists, is the technological arm of the Armed Forces. With a discreet profile, it focuses on the search for “solutions” to guarantee the effectiveness of the regime in digital surveillance and the development of Defense software, in collaboration with the University of Computer Sciences (UCI).

Xetid is responsible for the design of the EnZona electronic payment application, which requires a large amount of private information from users before allowing them to access their profile, in addition to monitoring their transactions.

Etecsa’s pact with Xetid allows the Government to unify the databases of both companies and to amplify, with the direct supervision of the Armed Forces, their control over users. Among the terms of the alliance is the joint management of EnZona and Transfermovil, created by Etecsa to guarantee the flow of telephone recharges from abroad, among other operations. continue reading

The directors of both corporations affirm that the pact aims to “make life easier for Cubans in the digital area” and invites users to trust the transactions that are made with both applications.

In addition, it allows Etecsa “to have access to Xetid’s software tools related to industry 4.0, business management and e-government, the main lines of the organization along with automation and security,” according to Cubadebate.

During the opening of the first workshop on cybersecurity, organized at the José Antonio Echevarría Technological University of Havana, Marrero Cruz applauded this alliance and pointed out that cyberspace surveillance is “a priority” of the Government.

The “identification and elimination of security breaches” was one of the concerns of the prime minister, who read his speech in the presence of a watchful minister of the Armed Forces, Álvaro López Miera, and his military group.

Marrero Cruz avoided departing from the script provided in his speech, and when he did it was to nervously mention the 11J protests, which he attributed to an “offensive” from the United States. “Let’s not forget that the US created the Internet Working Group for Cuba in 2018 with the aspiration that social networks become subversion channels,” he said, not without first describing as victims official portals “such as the Presidency, Granma, Cubadebate and the Government,” in the sights of “media bombing” from abroad.

After the speech, the companies participating in the workshop showed Minister of the Armed Forces Marrero Cruz and other military and officials several surveillance items like security cameras, identification mechanisms, alarms and defensive-use software.

Marrero didn’t specify what the functions of the National Working Group for Cybersecurity would be, although he did point out that it would operate under the direction of the President of the National Defence Council, a position held by President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

Carlos M. Alvarez Will Return to Cuba ‘By Any Other Way’ After American Airlines Denied Him Boarding

Cuban Carlos Manuel Álvarez could not board the flight from Miami. (Rialta)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 21 November 2022 — Journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez tried to return to Cuba this Sunday from Miami, but American Airlines employees informed him that he could not board the flight due to Havana’s refusal to authorize his entry into the country.

” ’You have been denied from Havana’, they told me,” the writer and independent reporter wrote on his Facebook profile, who said he felt united in fate to Anamely Ramos and Omara Ruiz Urquiola. These  two activists have also not been able to travel to the Island from the United States due to measures of the Cuban regime.

“I’m calm, the pain is now permanent. In a while I will explain the matter in more detail,” added Álvarez, who has not yet given more information about it.

The journalist, who collaborates with several international media such as El País, New York Times, BBC and The Washington Post, is one of the founders of the Cuban independent media El Estornudo and won in 2021 the King of Spain journalism prize for his report Three Cuban Girls, in which he recounted the collapse of a balcony on a street in Old Havana, which ended the lives of three minors returning from school.

“I want to believe that I have reached the limit in my confrontation with the direct injustice that has subjugated my country for decades, and that there is a secret prize in the punishment of the tyrant, because your “respectability” has revealed its true nature, something that the tyrant always wants to hide,” he stated. continue reading

The author warned that he is willing to return “by any other way” and to organize with Cubans who also want to do so. “The return of a community in full is perhaps the only way we have left. On the other hand, from Heredia to Arenas, I also belong to the exile,” he concluded.

Álvarez already mentioned on a previous occasion the option of boarding “a peaceful flotilla” to return to Cuba. “I think the moment will come when we’ll have to consider it as something imminent and inescapable. It’s a practical, feasible operation that citizens can do,” he argued.

The writer, who has been residing in the United States for several years, returned to Havana in 2020 to accompany the protests of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) and was arrested by State Security, which held him for several hours before forcibly moving him to Cárdenas, in Matanzas, where he is originally from and where his parents live. Despite this, shortly after, he was able to fullfil his intention to reach the capital.

The author described his arrest as kidnapping, since unidentified people dressed in civilian clothes put him, against his will, in a vehicle without telling him where he was going. “It’s an absolute civil death; this cannot be seen either as an arrest, or as low-intensity pressure, but as the absolute formalization of prison throughout the national territory,” he denounced.

The siege against the reporter intensified because of his support for the hunger strike that several activists of the San Isidro Movement, led by Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara began, to demand the release of Denis Solís, then in prison for contempt and currently in Germany after leaving the Island through Serbia in a forced exile agreement.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.

More than 75 Cubans Arrive in Florida by Sea on Thanksgiving Day

“Our teams will continue patrolling by air, land and sea during the entire holiday season. Those who attempt to enter the United States illegally will be rescued and repatriated.”

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 24 November 2022 — More than 75 migrants arrived aboard rafts at various points in the Florida Keys in the last few hours, according to official sources who, on Thursday, informed Miami television channel Local 10.

On Thanksgiving Day, the most important non-religious holiday in the United States, at least four landings of migrants occurred in the chain of islands situated between the continental US and Cuba.

“Our teams will continue patrolling by air, land and sea during the holiday season. Those who attempt to enter the United States illegally by sea will be rescued and repatriated,” Walter N. Slosar, chief of the Border Patrol (CBP) for the Miami sector, wrote on Twitter.

More than 30 migrants arrived at the uninhabited Marquesa Key, the western-most islet of the Florida straits, according to sources cited by Local 10.

Another ten arrived by boat at Dry Toturgas Key, a tourist destination for scuba diving that has no permanent residents, 19 landed in Marathon and another 17 at Grassy Key, reported Slosar.

All of them were detained and remained in the custody of the Border Patrol. continue reading

The information does not mention the nationality of the migrants arriving in the Keys, but it is the part of the United States closest to Cuba and it is understood that it is likely they are Cubans.

Border Patrol agents intercepted at sea 1,132 Cubans during the month of October, a significant number taking into account that in the prior 12 months 6,182 were intercepted, according to figures from the American Coast Guard.

The number of Cubans intercepted trying to enter the United States by land is even higher.

The Border Patrol indicated last week that a total of 29,872 Cubans entered the United States in an irregular manner via land borders in October, in the middle of a migratory crisis that had generated the greatest exodus of people from the island in decades.

The majority of Cubans, 28,848 of the total, made their entry via the Mexican border.

Only Mexico, with 67,186 migrants, exceeded the number of Cubans entering the United States during this time period, according to updated data from the CBP.

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria 

____________

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 Singer-Songwriter Pablo Milanes Will Be Buried in the Las Rozas Cemetery, Near Madrid

Funeral chapel for Pablo Milanés, installed in the Cervantes room of the Casa de América in Madrid. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 23 November 2022 — Hundreds of people approached the Casa de América in Madrid on Wednesday, where the funeral chapel of Pablo Milanés, who died early Tuesday, was installed. The musician, as confirmed to 14ymedio by family sources, will be buried near the Spanish capital, in the cemetery of Las Rozas.

At the foot of the coffin, in place from 10:30 to 15:30, people had deposited numerous bouquets of flowers, mostly white. The Cervantes room of the Casa de América was also framed by a dozen wreaths of flowers, some sent by colleagues, such as Joaquín Sabina and the Universal Music label, and others by politicians, like Podemos supporters. Workers of the institution pointed out to this newspaper that this is the first time that Casa de América prepared one of its rooms as a funeral chapel to honor a particular person.

People lined up at the main entrance when the building opened, in the central Plaza de Cibeles, despite a cold and cloudy morning. Numerous Cuban artists and journalists exiled in Madrid, such as Yunior García Aguilera, Dayana Prieto, Luz Escobar, Julio Llopiz-Casal, Yanelis Núñez and Michel Hernández, made an appearance.

Cuba’s ambassador to Spain, Marcelino Medina, also approached the Casa de América, where he spoke to the press. Milanés “was one of the founders of the Nueva Trova, that movement of young composers who with the Revolution burst onto a stage with songs that are today a symbol of an entire generation, but who was also welcomed with great respect, with great admiration by the younger generations of today,” said the diplomat.

To the question of whether there would be any official tribute in Cuba, Medina replied: “I have no information in that respect.” Similarly, about continue reading

the possibility of the musician being buried in Spain, he said: “it’s a personal wish that must be respected.”

Moment when Pablo Milanés’ coffin is taken out of the main entrance of Casa de América in Madrid. (14ymedio)

The Cuban singer-songwriter, a universal figure, died at the age of 79 after several weeks of hospitalization for several infections as a result of his illness. Milanés suffered from a type of cancer — myelodysplastic syndrome — that decreased his immune response.  He moved to Spain five years ago for medical treatment.

This Tuesday, on the Island, the Government wanted to monopolize  any kind of tribute to the artist, who in recent years had openly broken with the regime.

At the same time that all the front pages of the Cuban official press were filled with unusual praise for Pablo Milanés, the various events organised in his memory in Havana were strongly monitored by State Security.

The surroundings of the park at H and 21st, in El Vedado, where a group of fans had spread the word that they would meet to honour the memory of the artist, singing his songs from three in the afternoon, were guarded by a police operation.

Like the H and 21st park, the area was under close  surveillance. (14ymedio)

State Security agents dressed as civilians were seated and scattered on the benches. Motorcycles circled around and even a bus that the Police use to load people or fill with shock troops implied that, if any action took place, they would not let it happen with full freedom. Finally, a little more than 30 people dared to make an appearance and hung a Cuban flag on the kiosk located in the centre of the park.

Meanwhile, the troubadour’s family summoned friends and admirers to sign a book of condolences at Milanés’ recording studio, on 11th street, between J and I, also in El Vedado.

In the tribute, not many spontaneous people were observed, but there were officials and media related to the regime, such as Telesur. An unknown woman did not stop taking photos of everyone present.

In the 11th Street tribute, not many spontaneous people were observed, but official journalists and media related to the regime, such as Telesur. (14ymedio)

Like the park at H and 21st, the area was under close surveillance. “You can’t even quietly pay tribute to a great artist who has died,” protested a young woman who approached to offer condolences to the musician’s relatives.

The operation, where even René González, one of the “five spies,” according to 14ymedio, appeared, was also extended to the Cuba Pavilion, headquarters of the Hermanos Saíz Association, on La Rampa, where the Ministry of Culture organized a tribute to Pablo Milanés.

No family member was at the official “cantata” disseminated on social networks by people associated with the regime.

Translated by Regina Anavy 

____________

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 Cubans Who Arrived in the United States a Month Ago Fear Being Deported

The exodus of Cubans to the United States continues to yield record figures: 29,872 entered illegally last October. (Facebook/Impact Vision News)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 November 2022 — Cubans Pedro Yasmani, Raúl Santana and Daisel Pons, who crossed the Rio Grande to the United States on October 17, remain in a detention centre in southern Texas and fear being “deported,” they told Univision News 23.

“They chose us at random,” Yasmani complained. The Cuban said that after surrendering to the Border Patrol, they separated him from the group of Cubans with whom he crossed the border through Mexico. There are more than 200 Island nationals on the site, all concerned about their future. “Why didn’t they free us like the others? Nobody tells us what’s going on,” he added.

Raúl Santana, another of the countrymen detained, thought that when they called him it would be to free him so he could reunite with his family, but he was handcuffed and transferred to southern Texas. “We are afraid that they will put us on a plane to be returned to Cuba without giving ‘credible fear’ a chance.”

A similar case is that of Daisel Pons, who also said that “they didn’t do any interview or check” after surrendering. “They just took me here,” to the detention center.

These complaints come a few days after the Governments of Cuba and the United States held a new meeting in Havana to address the problem of migration, which remains unstoppable.

The exodus of Cubans to the United States continues to yield record figures, with 29,872 entering illegally in October, a figure that exceeds the 26,730 who entered in September, according to data from the United States Office of Customs and Border Protection. continue reading

In the midst of the exodus, this week the death in a traffic accident of Cuban Claudia Suárez Pérez, who arrived in the United States three months ago, was announced. “My girl had an accident and it killed me,” the young woman’s mother, who did not identify herself, told journalist Mario J. Penton. “I need help to bring my girl’s body home so I can see her for the last time,” she added.

Yesi Boza, cousin of the 21-year-old girl who left her “five-month-old baby” on the Island, requested the support of any organization that is in a position to help in the repatriation efforts. “Today it was my cousin, but tomorrow it can be any of our daughters, sisters, friends, granddaughters or ourselves,” she told America TeVé.

This Saturday it was also announced that the Cuban Marcos Cabrera, who managed to reach the United States, was hit by a van while riding his motorcycle. “The doctors tell me that his brain received such a forceful blow that it burst, as they say, inside; for many it’s a miracle that the boy is still alive,” the young man’s father told América TeVé.

Due to the severity of his injury, his relatives are requesting help so that Cabrera’s mother can leave the Island with a humanitarian visa.

Translated by Regina Anavy

____________

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.