Cuba Denies its Participation in Plans to Attack Alvaro Uribe

The former president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio The Cuban Embassy in Bogotá spoke out this Wednesday about the alleged connection of Cuban intelligence in a possible attack against the Colombian senator and ex-president, Álvaro Uribe.

14ymedio, 11 May 2018 — The Cuban Embassy in Bogotá spoke out this Wednesday about the alleged connection of Cuban intelligence to a possible attempt against the life of Colombian senator and former President, Álvaro Uribe.

Diplomatic headquarters published a statement claiming the reported participation of Cuba and Venezuela in the failed attack was “manipulative.” Cuba “has never acted in the way some media outlets and resentful individuals are suggesting, regardless of how powerful its enemies are,” advised the text. continue reading

“That is not how Cuba acts; or is it that for certain people it is difficult to understand foreign policy based on principles, values, and ethics? Asked the diplomatic statement.

Senator Alfredo Rangel, a member of the Uribe Democratic Center, announced that the intelligence agencies of Venezuela and Cuba, along with Colombian drug traffickers were behind the threats to the former president.

“A triple alliance has been formed to attempt against the life of former President Uribe,” said the senator, who immediately accused Cuban State Security and the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) of being behind the attack.

The accusation was supported by former President Andrés Pastrana, who, in a conversation with VocesRCN, said that it was President Juan Manuel Santos’ government’s turn “to state whether Cuba and Venezuela’s desire to attack against Uribe was true or false.”

The Minister of the Interior, Guillermo Rivera, confirmed that on 26 April the National Intelligence Committee informed the Government about a possible attempt against former President Álvaro Uribe.

“The president of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, asked me to communicate with Álvaro Uribe to share some urgent and delicate information,” said Rivera.

For his part, Uribe said that according to the information he received “there were local and foreign criminals involved.”

The Government has not released any further details about the alleged attack or accused any foreign country of having planned it. In Havana, representatives of the Colombian government met with delegates of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerilla to try to establish a ceasefire before the presidential election on 27 May 2018.

This is the fifth round of negotiations between the ELN and the Colombian government. In April, the Ecuadorian government, which served as a mediator, decided to withdraw after accusing the ELN of terrorist activities.

Cuba helped orchestrate the peace between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and that country. The peace agreement, forged in Havana, put an end to the continent’s longest-running guerilla and paved the way for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Juan Manuel Santos, the current president.

The process of peace with the FARC, now turned into a political opposition party, is undergoing especially tense moments after one of the leaders of the organization, Seusis Pausivas Hernández Solarte, alias Jesús Santrich, was detained and accused of conspiring to send 10 tons of cocaine to the United States.

Translated by: Chavely Garcia


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Havana Mobilizes For The Liberation Of The Spy Ana Belén Montes

Campaign image for the liberation of Ana Belén Montes. “Everyone is one country. In that ‘global country’ the principle of loving thy neighbor as much as thyself turns out to be an essential guide.”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana 27 February 2017 – This Tuesday, a campaign launches in Cuba for the liberation of Ana Belén Montes, a former intelligence analyst for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency, condemned for espionage and considered a “prisoner of conscience” by the government of Havana. The initiative includes concerts, conversations, and publications on social networks with the hashtag #FreeAnaBelenMontes.

The governing party seeks to revitalize the case of the spy, who was not included on the list of prisoners pardoned by Barack Obama at the end of his term. Now, efforts are focused on “getting her released through diplomatic negotiations,” according to official sources consulted by this newspaper. continue reading

Montes was arrested in September 2001 in Washington and sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage assisting the Havana government. Currently, after her cancer diagnosis and mastectomy, she remains imprisoned in the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Carswell, located on a U.S. Navy Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas.

For many years, the analyst provided substantial information to the Cuban Intelligence Agency, including military data following a visit to El Salvador, which Havana passed on to the FMLN guerillas (Marabundo Martî Front for National Liberation). That information served to inform an attack on a barracks in 1987 in which 65 soldiers perished, including an American.

The analyst provided substantial information to the Cuban Intelligence Agency, including military data following a visit to El Salvador, which Havana passed on to the FMLN guerillas.

The cause for the liberation of the ex-official maintains a low profile in comparison to the media coverage that surrounded the campaign for the five Cuban spies belonging to the Red Avispa (Wasp Network). In recent months, however, a photograph of Montes has appeared in various events organized by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the People (ICAP) and other official entities.

Last year, the life of the Pentagon spy came to the screens through an episode of ‘Declassified,’ a documentary series released on CNN. The presenter of the program, Mike Rogers, former chair of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, guided spectators through the evidence that led to Montes’ arrest.

Like a fast-paced thriller, the documentary included the clue of a purchased Toshiba laptop, which led the FBI right to the spy, found in her apartment with information revealing her connection with the Island’s intelligence services; a code table found in her bag completed part of the investigative jigsaw puzzle.

The promoters of her release rely on International Amnesty’s definition of “prisoner of conscience,” considered as an “individual that has been imprisoned for their race, religion, skin color, language, sexual orientation or beliefs, as long as they have not propagated or practiced violence.” Her Cuban defenders argue that Montes did not receive payments from the Cuban government for her services nor was she recruited through “sordid blackmail.” They define her as someone that faced risks “for love of justice and honorary solidarity for the cause of the Cuban revolution.”

In October 2015 the Cuban Committee for the Liberation of Ana Belén Montes was created in Havana. The organization relies on various global affiliates and for months its objective was to demand a “presidential pardon” for the ex-official. The members systematically sent letters to the American government seeking her liberation.

A rumor about the possible exchange of Montes for Joanne Chesimard, alias Assata Shakur, who is a refugee in Cuba and wanted for the murder of a police officer in New Jersey, faded away without it being confirmed. The fugitive, who is on the Ten Most Wanted List in the United States and for whose capture there is a posted reward of 2 million dollars, continues to live out her days in Havana.

In October 2015 the Cuban Committee for the Liberation of Ana Belén Montes was created, which relies on various global affiliates.

In the weeks leading up to Obama’s White House departure, demands for the liberation of Montes rose to new heights. “She deserves now, more than ever, a presidential pardon, now that the U.S. speaks of normalizing relations with Cuba,” declared organizers of the committee.

This Tuesday Belén Montes turns 60 years old. Her release date is anticipated to be in 2023 and nothing points to her being released before that time. 

Translated by Chavely Garcia.

Birthrate Is Not Just a Matter of Resources / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

Mothers who return to work after 18 weeks of maternity leave will receive, in addition to 100% of their salary, an extra provision of 60% of their pay. (Priscila Mora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 15 February 2017 — Concerned about low birthrates, this month the Government has launched a campaign focused on fertility and a package of measures to stimulate births of two or more children per woman.

Since 1978 fertility rates have declined throughout the Island, dropping below population replacement levels. By 2050, the country will rank 9th in the world for elderly population. The aging demographics will exacerbate the lack of economically active people.

The new regulations to stimulate birth, made widely known by the paper Gaceta Oficial (Offical Gazzette), are composed of two decrees and four resolutions. These measures include the paid participation of family members in the childrearing process. continue reading

“Now my mother will be able to stay home with my daughter while I go to work,” says Sahily Cuevas, mother of a four-month-old baby and an employee of a Cooperative of Credits and Services in the municipality of Güira, Artemisa.

The discount of 50% on subsidized childcare rates for parents of two or more children can help “the poorest families,” especially in rural areas.

The grandmother, employed in the State Gastronomic Network, will receive 60% of her salary as a social benefit, a benefit that up until February was only available to the father of the child. It is true, however, that this payment is equivalent to $11, the price of three packs of disposable diapers.

The majority of women surveyed point to lack of resources as the main cause for postponement or interruption of a pregnancy. In the period between 2006-2013, birth rates rose from 1.39 children per woman to 1.71, but that figure should reach a minimum of 2.1 to get out of the red zone.

“I would not dare have a second child,” exclaims Tahimí, 27, resident of Aguada de Pasajeros. “The list of necessities to have a baby is so long that the extra money will be like a drop in the ocean, it will serve very little use.”

The women believes that the 50% discount on subsidized childcare rates for parents of two or more children can help “the poorest families,” especially in rural areas. With the third child the family will become exempt from payment, a benefit extending to couples that have multiple deliveries at once.

Returning to work after giving birth has also received new stimuli. Mothers who return to work after 18 weeks of maternity leave will receive, in addition to 100% of their salary, an extra provision of 60% of their pay, from three months to one year after giving birth.

The private sector, with more than half a million employees in the country, has also received a reduction in monthly taxes for self-employed workers with two or more children under 17 years old. But the labor demands in private businesses leave little room for women to take a more extended family leave.

“I would not leave from here because they would replace me and this is my family’s livelihood,” comments an employee of La Mimosa, a restaurant in Chinatown in Havana. “There is a lot of competition and getting pregnant is the same as being left out,” adds the employee, who chose to remain anonymous.

Maipú, 21, has had four abortions. The first two with the technique of menstrual regulation performed on an outpatient basis that does not require anesthesia. For the last two she entered an operating room where they used the technique of scraping, known as curettage. The young woman refuses to have children at the moment.

“I live with my parents and my grandparents, as well as my two brothers,” she says to 14ymedio. Housing problems are the main cause for postponing motherhood, but she also has her eyes set on emigrating. 

The director of the Center of Population and Development studies believes that “social processes like female emancipation” also influence in the decision to push back maternity.

In recent years, without publicly announcing it, the Ministry of Public Health has restricted abortions. “Now the requirements to receive an abortion are stricter,” says a nurse of the Obstetrical Gynecological Hospital, Ramón González Coro. The employee believes that “it is difficult to complete all the paperwork in time for a menstrual regulation technique or an abortion.”

However, the informal market has also flourished in that field. Maipú paid 50 CUC for her last abortion. “I did not have much time because I was already at 12 weeks,” she recounts. She spent the equivalent of a doctor’s monthly salary. There was no record of her procedure on her medical record.

The director of the Center of Population and Development Studies, Juan Carlos Alfonso, has tempered the weight of the economic crisis and immigration in the rejection of pregnancies maintained by Cuban women. For the specialist, “social processes like female emancipation “also influence in the decision to push back maternity.

A 2009 fertility survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (ONEI) found that 21% of women aged 15-54 had experienced at least one pregnancy that ended in intentional abortions. Eighty percent of the population reported having used contraception.

“Obtaining one visa is not the same as obtaining two,” affirms Maipú in a pragmatic tone. However, she acknowledges that she has always wanted to “be a mother and have many children running around the house.”

Translated by Chavely Garcia.


Private Taxi Drivers Close Ranks Against Fixed Prices Charged By The State / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

Transportation crisis in Havana is aggravated by the “semi-strike” of private taxis. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerMarcelo Hernandez, Havana, 12 February 2017 – “Take me, I’ll pay you double,” implores a woman to a taxi driver on the main route of Prado y Neptuno. The car is empty, but the driver does not stop to those hailing his taxi, even while showing money in their hands. Imposed fixed prices on private transport have unleashed a silent battle on the streets of Havana.

Since last Wednesday capital authorities have applied a new scale of fixed rates on the routes of private taxis, a decision that reinforced an end to the law of supply and demand, which regulated the private transport since its authorization in the mid 1990s. Last year the authorities decreed set fares, but the drivers found a way to get around them and the state came back with a second round of controls last week. continue reading

Private transport drivers reacted by eliminating intermediate stops or by opting to pick up only passengers going the full route. Despite not relying on an independent union, they have closed ranks and reduced the number of clients they transport in order to pressure local authorities to take a step back.

Since last Wednesday capital authorities have applied fixed rates on the routes of private taxis.

“It has not been necessary for drivers to agree on taking these measure because we all know that accepting this means worse measures to come,” assures Leo Ramírez, one of the private taxis whose route runs between downtown and the neighborhood La Víbora. Driver of a 1957 Chevrolet, this man says the government is “waging war” on them.

Like most of his colleagues who transport passengers within the city, for the past three days Ramírez only accepts riders going the full route. “Most of the time I ride around with no passengers and I have lost a lot of money,” he says to 14ymedio. He claims, “if the measure is not reversed I will turn in my license.”

At the end of 2016, Cuba had more than 535,000 private or non-state workers, the largest figure recorded since 2010, according to data from the Ministry of Work and Social Security (MTSS). Of these, about 54,350 work in the transport of cargo and passengers and are popularly know as boteros (boatmen).

The situation has put the mobility of Havana in check, a city with over 2 million people and a public transport system facing a deficit of vehicles.

In July 2016, the Council of Provincial Administration published Agreement 185, setting maximum fares for the routes of the popular almendrones*, or private taxis. At that time, established rates were for the most important routes, but the drivers resorted to breaking the trips into segments and charging per segment.

Tatiana Viera, vice-president of the Council, explained on national television that behind that decision was “a series of violations that occurred between the months of September and October.” Consequently, “in order to continue to protect the public,” they decided on the new “measures for shorter trips.”

The official explains that private taxis transport workers, students and even “teachers, who with their salary and hard work cannot afford transportation at those prices.” Viera pointed out that “it is our state and moral duty to continue protecting these customers,” even though she classified the almendrones as “complementary transport.”

The situation has put the mobility of Havana in check, a city with over 2 million people and a public transport system facing a deficit of vehicles.

“The problem is not prices, but wages,” says Yampier, a taxi driver on the route from the area of the Capitol to the municipality of Marianao. According to this self-employed driver, “our cars are always full, which means there are people who can afford our prices.” However, he considers that presently, they are all affected by the new measures.

A retiree who tried to take a taxi this Saturday to Santiago de la Vegas from El Curita park, showed more optimism. “There was no one who could pay those prices, which makes me glad the State intervened,” she commented to 14ymedio. She went outside with the newspaper stating the new rates to “show (the drivers) if they tried to take advantage of her.”

The sanctions for those who do not conform to the new rates range from a fine to the confiscation of the vehicle. “Our inspectors are already on the streets” dressed in “blue jackets,” warns Viera and adds, “They are accompanied by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).”

The sanctions for those who do not conform to the new rates range from a fine to the confiscation of the vehicle.

Carlos Manuel, known as the Mule, is self-employed in construction and lives in the Martí neighborhood. Every day he takes at least two private taxis to get to the house where he is building a bathroom and a kitchen. “When I heard the news I felt happy because I was going to pay half of what I was paying last Thursday,” he commented to this newspaper.

However, as the days pass, the Mule explains that these new measures have actually “affected me a lot.” Now, “I have to go to where the route starts to hop on a taxi,” he retells. So, “I pay more because I have to go on a longer route now.”

This construction worker is also concerned that “this type of decision by the State will trickle down into other professions.” In his case, he is afraid that “one day they might announce fixed rates for the placement of a square meter of tiles or the installation of sanitary fixtures,” a situation which he would be “deeply affected” by.

*Translator’s note: “Almendrones” means “almonds” – from the shape of the classic American cars often used to provide this service.

Translated by Chavely Garcia.

Faith Arrives to the Rhythm of Reggaeton / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Members of La Union: Left to right: Osmel (Mr Jacke), Misael (Dj Misa), Ramiro (Pucio) and Randoll (El Escogido). (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerLuz Escobar, Havana, 11 February 2017 – Sexists, hard and streetsmart, such are the lyrics of most reggaeton songs that are heard everywhere. Topics that speak about jealousy and rivalries, but that can also convey very different messages. Under the name La Unión (the Union), a group of young artists spread the Christian faith to the rhythm of this urban genre so popular in Cuba.

The group, founded in 2013, promotes their songs and videos through the Weekly Packet in the folder titled “Christian section.” A musical work that stands out in the Cuban panorama by combining two elements that seem opposed: religion and reggaeton.

Willing to break down those prejudices, Ramiro (Pucio), Osmel (Mr. Jacke), Randoll (El Escogido), and Misael (DJ Misa), compose and sing for a new generation of listeners born with this millennium. A generation accustomed to choosing a la carte the audiovisual materials they consume and who are very familiar with flash drives, Zapya and smart phones. continue reading

In times of vertigo in the exchange of content, the members of the Union release their songs under the label Kingdom Records, a handcrafted studio installed in the house of DJ Misa, in the Alamar neighborhood. In that zone of ugly buildings and good musicians, rap and hip-hop reigned in earlier decades.

In public performances of the Union, women dancing with lewd movements, twerking style, are not seen and the group members do not wear heavy gold chains around their necks. Even so the places where they perform are packed and fans sing along to the lyrics, which praise values such as solidarity and friendship.

In public performances of La Union, women dancing with lewd movements, twerking style, are not seen and the group members do not wear heavy gold chains around their necks.

In a conversation with 14ymedio during a promotional tour around La India, in Old Havana, the director of the group, DJ Misa, said that from the beginning they wanted to “take the message of Jesus to the Island’s youngest listeners” and they thought it “perfect” to use urban music “as a strategy” because “that is what is mostly heard in the streets.”

Currently, the DJ Misa is immersed in a whirlwind of preparations for a concert the group will perform on February 17 in the central venue Riviera. The launching of a new video clip also fills him with pride, although reaching the point they have now arrived at has not come easily.

The beginnings of the Union were not exempt from “some obstacles,” comments DJ Misa, because few people dared to “mix Christian music with reggaeton.” However, they found acceptance within the island’s millennials and the pastor of the Methodist Church of Alamar, Daniel Marín, who supported them unconditionally.

A recent survey of young Cubans found that their idols range from soccer players, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to reggaeton singers, like Yomil, El Chacal and el Príncipe, who are overwhelmingly popular among those under 30 years old.

In this context, Christian musicians count on an audience interested in rhythms representing reality. But it is also an audience accustomed to the ruggedness of many reggaeton songs, which praise sexism, promiscuity and frivolity. These are the themes heard in bars, cafeterias, and taxis and even during morning assemblies in Cuban schools.

Christian musicians count on an audience interested in rhythms representing reality. But it is also an audience accustomed to the ruggedness of many reggaeton songs, which praise sexism, promiscuity and frivolity.

DJ Misa explains the support they have also received from other pastors. He says it is because many young people “who are in church but no longer very interested and about to leave,” after listening to their music return with more joy. Although he laments that due to lack of resources they can only do two or three concerts a year.

Both performances and video clips are self produced and financed, says the artist, who complains “there are still no companies that promote Christian music.” Nevertheless, they have managed to perform various concerts and in August of last year filled the venue Avenida.

The young man’s production ability was self-taught, and he counts on spreading his music through social networks, such as Facebook and YouTube.

He does not discard that the Union will be televised and is thinking about presenting his next music video, Jesus Fanatic, at next year’s Lucas Awards. DJ Misa is convinced that his audiovisuals “have the same quality as the ones presented” and show a “very professional appearance.”

As they reach the small screen, these young musicians are achieving a special place in the national urban music, a place where the heavy terrain of reggaeton manages to gain spirituality and compromise.

Translated by Chavely Garcia


Only 45% Of Cuban Teens Watch National Television / 14ymedio

Cuban teens feel superior when they acquire a device that allows them to access new technologies. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 January 2016 — New technology and the consumption of audiovisual material a la carte are gaining ground among Cuban teenagers. Only 45% of teenagers claim to watch national television, according to a study conducted in November 2015, which the official Press has reported on this week.

Research was conducted through a questionnaire administered to 2,051 individuals and personal or group interviews to another thousand, a representative sample of the 1,381,135 people that are between the ages of 10 and 19, roughly 12% of the population, according to the Cuba 2015 Statistical Yearbook. continue reading

Keyla Estévez García, a researcher from the Center for Youth Studies who lead the study, stressed the importance of this study and pointed out that these adolescents’ behavior definitely “resembles the Cuba of today, transformation, changes; and needs to be understood from this new context.”

Study participants were chosen from two municipalities in each territory. About 59% are residents in provincial capitals and 13.5% live in municipalities of Havana, especially from Plaza of the Revolution, Old Havana, Arroyo Naranjo and Boyeros. Of the study group, 44% are female and 54% are male.

More than half of the participants want to enroll in University and obtain a high-level degree, while one-fifth of the study sample will settle for finishing college preparatory training.

Close to 10% only aspire to finish high school, prepare to work as a skilled laborer or work as a mid-level technician.

At least 27.6% of participants chose not to respond or was unsure as to which profession they would like to pursue. Medical science was at the forefront of professional aspirations, followed by the hard sciences with the humanities in last place. This scenario may represent a vocational reorientation implemented in schools.

However, students’ opinions about their schools were very negative. Only a few respondents believe that school is a place where they feel happy, their rights are respected or where they can defend their beliefs. Only 11% opined that schools taught them what they needed to know.

The official press says that a “not so insignificant” share of these teenagers sees school as a boring place, where they do not want to be but are obliged to go. They classify school as a dogmatic, closed and uncreative place.

A “not so insignificant” share of teenagers sees school as a boring, dogmatic, closed and uncreative place.

As for having fun, they like to listen to music, go to the beach, pool or rivers, visit family and friends and consume audiovisual products, but they read little and hardly visit museums. The national television programs fail to attract more than half of those who prefer other options like the “weekly packet” (for which there is no data in the questionnaire), content shared through USB or mobile phones.

The majority of respondents said they had computers, internet access, music players and mobile phones, in that order. “A high number of adolescents can access the internet from Wi-Fi zones, which implies expenditures, generally covered by their family,” indicates the official press.

For these adolescents, the main use of information and communication technologies is photo exchange, music, videos and games, although they are also used to study. These technologies generate happiness and many develop a sense of superiority when they acquire one of these technologies

As far as consumption habits, 12% of adolescents’ surveyed smoke and 36% of them drink alcoholic beverages, while 2% of them admitted to using toxic substances. The age of onset for these habits is between 14 and 15.

Sexual relations begin early, especially in urban zones. Close to half of the study sample began having sexual relations between the ages of 14 and 15.

These adolescents’ idols have little to do with political figures or with those associated with the official ideological discourse. In sports, predilections point to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, while in the artistic world preferences are for Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and Selena Gómez. Among national artists, Reggeaton singers Yomil, el Chacal or el Príncipe take precedence over other artists.

The absence of questions about political preferences, immigration and their perception on the rest of the world, in a survey conducted one year after the reestablishment of relations with the United States, is striking. Nevertheless, the report did not provide direct access to the study itself and its complete data.

Translated by Chavely Garcia

U.S Deports 71 Cubans Detained Before Reversal of Wet Foot-Dry Foot Policy / EFE, 14ymedio

Cuban immigrants being repatriated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio) Miami , 16 January 2017 – A total of 71 Cubans were deported this Sunday after being detained in ­­­­­the Florida Straits seeking to enter the country days before the U.S government announced the change in immigration policy toward Cubans, the Coast Guard announced on Monday.

The immigrants were transferred to Bahía Cabañas, in Cuba, after being intercepted on five different operations between January 4th and 6th, dates prior to the White House announcing the end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy. continue reading

A statement by the Coast Guard said they carried out these operations in their function to protect the American border and to “prevent these trips by sea from ending up in tragedy.”

“We discourage anyone from going out to sea and attempting to reach U.S soil illegally. You are risking your lives with little chances of success,” said Captain Mark Gordon, of the Coast Guard Seventh District, who emphasized that navigating the Florida Straits could be “extremely dangerous,” especially with the bad weather currently in the area.

Gordon was categorical in saying the Coast Guard would continue these operations to “detain those who initiate the illegal, foolish and unsafe journey through the Florida Straits.”

He explained that once aboard the Coast Guard boat, the immigrants received basic medical attention, food and water.

Since October 1, 2016, when the current fiscal year began, at least 1,893 Cubans have attempted to enter the United States by sea.

On 12 January, the U.S. government announced the repeal of the “wet foot/ dry foot” policy,” which for 20 years granted preferential immigration status to Cubans able to reach U.S. soil, and granted them residency status after one year.

On the contrary, those intercepted at sea, even if only a few yards from shore, were returned to Cuba.

Due to fear of this policy ending there has been a notable increase of Cubans entering the U.S. in recent months, by land across U.S.-Mexico border, as well as by sea.

Last fiscal year, between October 1,, 2015 and September 30, 2016, 7,411 Cubans attempted to reach the U.S coast by sea, a significant increase from the 4, 473 that attempted the same in the 2015 fiscal year.

Translated by Chavely Garcia

Several Cienfuego Residents Hospitalized with Malaria / 14ymedio

The Damují River empties into Cienfuegos Bay and is an ideal site for the propagation of the mosquito that carries malaria. (collruiz)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Cienfuegos/Miami, 10 January 2017 – About a dozen people have been hospitalized at Gustavo Aldereguía Lima Hospital in Cienfuegos with a diagnosis of malaria detected in Rodas, a municipality in southern central Cuba.

The cause of the disease is plasmodium, a parasite that is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female mosquito part of the anopheles genus. It is potentially deadly and affects various areas of the planet.

“They are undergoing sanitation efforts. They have eliminated the source from the Damují River and we are in the middle of an intense fumigation campaign through the streets,” explained a nurse from a Rodas polyclinic who chose to remain anonymous in the independent press due to fear of repercussions. continue reading

“It is something that cannot be spoken about unofficially. The Health Minister himself, Roberto Morales Ojeda, has visited the province on various occasions in the past several weeks,” confirms the same source.

Morales, born in Rodas, was at one time the director of the Municipal Unit of Hygiene and Epidemiology of that town and the municipal director of health in Rodas and Cienfuegos.

According to a Rodas native who now lives in Miami, alarm has spread throughout the population, which totals about 30,000 inhabitants.

“Family members call and describe the situation they find themselves in, but when you look for information through the official press there is nothing to be found,” says the anonymous source.

Malaria is an acute febrile illness. The first symptoms, which include fever, strong headaches, chills and vomiting, begin a week after the mosquito bite.

According to the medical literature, if the disease goes untreated within the first 24 hours, some cases of malaria, such as the one propagated by the parasite plasmodium falciparum, can escalate, often leading to death.

Children may show symptoms of severe anemia, sometimes even affecting the brain. In adults there can also be adverse effects on various organs.

For the spread of malaria to occur, mosquitoes need to have an area where they can reproduce, specifically, sitting fresh water and big puddles. Rodas is known as “the village of the Damují,” due to the presence of the river in the lives of the inhabitants. The river, which empties into the Bay of Cienfuegos, has the perfect conditions for anopheles mosquito reproduction; hence, the river sanitation campaigns.

Translated by Chavely Garcia

Activist Abandons Hunger Strike After Promise Of Not Being Deported To His Home Province / 14ymedio

Vladimir Martín Castellanos, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 January 2017 — Vladimir Martín Castellanos, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), abandoned his hunger strike this Monday after the authorities promised that he would not be deported from Las Tunas to Santiago de Cuba, as confirmed by the Castellanos himself to 14ymedio. continue reading

The activist remained 32 days without food in his fight to register himself in the civil registry of Puerto Padre where his wife, Ileana Marrero, resides. Beforehand and on various occasions, the Security of State intercepted him when he attempted to register.

On Monday, an officer who identified himself as Captain Miguelito, visited Castellanos’ wife and promised her he would be allowed to reside in the municipality. Upon hearing the news, Castellanos decided to end his hunger strike.

“I feel very weak and began drinking soup” to regain strength, he commented to this newspaper. “I would like to continue my fight and stay with the Unpacu,” explained the activist.

Martín Castellanos, 53, believes that “the authorities will follow through” this time, but notes that they did not provide him an official document confirming the decision. A family member of the activist is arranging tickets to “travel early tomorrow toward Puerto Padre.”

Translated by Chavely Garcia