‘They Threw Us Out Like Dogs’, Say the People Evicted From Factoria 70 in Havana

Those thrown out have a month to collect their things from the warehouse where the local authority put them.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana 7 February 2024 — “Easterners, gay AIDS patients, the elderly, women with their husbands, children and people who have nowhere to live,” is how Yunier, one of those evicted from Factoría 70 between Corrales and Apodaca in Old Havana, described the situation of the people who were evicted on 31 January because the building was in danger of collapsing. “They dragged us all out of the place like dogs”.

The nearly one hundred people who were illegally occupying some 26 rooms in the building were evicted by the police and several local government officials, Yunier says. They were mistreated and given no assurances, although not all versions of what happened coincide. “They told everyone to find by themselves places to stay. They told them to go back to where they came from. The only thing they set up was a warehouse to store things while we found a place”, says the Havana native.

The evictees’ belongings can only stay there for a month, Yunier explained. The young man remembered how, about three years ago, people began to move into the the building, which had been declared uninhabitable by the authorities. “The people who were moving in began to put up windows and doors, and to organise the rooms a bit. Almost all were from Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, although there were some from Havana”. The former inhabitants of the building, he said, had previously been moved to shelters. continue reading

He said that none of the people living in Factoría 70 received any eviction notices. The police arrived on 31 January, asked the residents for their ID cards and took them to Dragones station. “They handed out fines and let us go, and said they were going to come back another day, but they showed up the same day at five in the afternoon,” Yunier recalled. “The police wanted to finish before dawn, so that none of this would get out and people wouldn’t notice. The one who said we had to leave was a policeman from Dragones”, saids the young man. “Agents on motorbikes and other vehicles arrived,” as well as a government superintendent from Old Havana who did not identify himself. Five other officials with him also did not give their names..

The eviction was tense, said Yunier. “They threatened us. They said that if we didn’t leave they were going to do bigger things”. Homosexuals got the worst of it and were threatened by the officers: “You shut up. You are birds and we don’t want your comments. Similar things were said to the people from Santiago and Guantánamo, who were told that they “should go back to the East”.

Now the evictees are worried about what will happen to their belongings in the “goods warehouse” where the local government stored them. “So far nothing has been lost,  but they might be,” he said.

The person who stands to gain most from the emptying of the building is, Yunier guessed, the president of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) on the block where Factoría 70 is located. The Havana native identifies him as Santiago, owner of a hostel and a pink convertible car, with “a lot of power and money”.

Yunier thinks that the person who stands to gain most from the departure of the building’s occupants is the president of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution

Santiago offers tourists rooms in his early 20th-century mansion, as well as providing tours of Havana and other parts of the country in his vehicle. On his social networks, a photograph taken in mid-January shows the crumbling façade of the building, still inhabited, as evidenced by the sheets spread out on its balconies, as a backdrop to his shiny convertible.

Yunier mentioned a rumour circulating among neighbours, that Santiago has enough influence over the government and the local police to speed up the eviction. His goal: to have a free hand to expand a car workshop he owns on the ground floor of the building. “He was the one who provided the materials to close the door of the building, cement, blocks and so on. Now he has started to store more cars.

The Factoría 70 building, which was formerly a stately three-storey building, with ochre walls stained by damp

Other nearby residents also point to his desire to “calm the block” as one of the main motivations for the prosperous businessman to push the authorities to act. Although it is  within touristy Old Havana, the Jesús María neighbourhood where the building is located does not see many tourists due to the poor state of its infrastructure — which has barely benefited from renovations — and its crime level.

At the Factoría 70 building, formerly an imposing three-storey building, the walls remain ochre and stained by damp. Inside the ruin, families lived in overcrowded conditions and there were lots of issues between neighbours.

Recent rains have battered the now abandoned building even more, and the only thing with any colour in the area is the pink convertible. Those who left Factoría 70 are still looking for somewhere to sleep, in a city that is getting rougher every day for newcomers as well as for locals. Yunier’s diagnosis is pessimistic. “There is nowhere to live in Havana. They don’t say anything. They don’t help anyone. Nobody gives you any hope.

Translated by GH


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.

Nicaragua Receives a Record $4.66 Billion in Remittances, More Than Double What Cuba Receives

In Cuba, remittances from the USA are temporarily halted. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Managua | 8 February 2024 — Nicaragua received a new record $4.66 billion in family remittances in 2023 – representing 29.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) – of which $3.841 billion came from the United States, the Nicaraguan Central Bank reported Wednesday in Managua.

Nicaraguans received $1.4352 billion more than they did in 2022, when they received $3.2249 billion in remittances, 23 per cent of GDP and 44.5 per cent more, the state-owned bank said in a report.

The main sources of remittances in 2023 were from the United States with 82.4 per cent ($3.8411 billion), followed by Costa Rica with 7.1 per cent ($331.9 million), and Spain with 5.9 per cent ($276.6 million), the monetary entity highlighted. Remittances from these three countries together accounted for 95.4 per cent of the total.

Remittances from the US, Costa Rica and Spain together accounted for 95.4 per cent

Remittances from the United States totalled a record $3.8411 billion in 2023, $1.3714 billion more than received in 2022, when they totalled $2.4697 million, or 55.5 per cent more, the source stressed. In addition, the $3.8411 billion received from the United States exceeded the $3.2249 million sent in 2022 from all countries, according to official data. continue reading

Those from Costa Rica totalled $331.9 million, up 20.3 per cent over 2022 ($275.9 million), and those from Spain totalled $276.6 million, for a year-on-year increase of 2.4 per cent ($270.1 million in 2022).

Nicaragua increased its economic growth projection to a maximum of 5% in 2023 and 4.5% in 2024, “based on the behaviour of a set of variables (exports, tax collection, credit, remittances, tourism, among others), as well as the positive evolution of the country’s main trading partners”, according to the Central Bank, which does not yet provide this indicator.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a 4 per cent growth of Nicaragua’s economy in 2023, driven by record remittances, and 3.5 per cent growth rate in 2024.

The IMF expected family remittances to reach about 28% of Nicaragua’s GDP by the end of 2023, double their level at the end of 2021, driven by the rapid increase in Nicaraguan emigrants.

Cuba, although it has a similar percentage of exiles, only received $1.973 billion  last year, the same amount as in 2010

About 20% of the total Nicaraguan population, estimated at 6.7 million, live abroad, mainly in the United States and Costa Rica, and it is estimated that half of them are undocumented.

The data on remittances to Nicaragua contrasts with those of Cuba, which although it has a similar percentage of exiles, only received $1.973 billion last year, the same amount as in 2010 and a decrease of 3.31% compared to the amount in 2022.

According to a report by the Havana Consulting Group, the collapse shows that many exiles prefer to invest money in getting their relatives off the island rather than sending them foreign currency. “It is a strong warning sign that the country is losing one of its main lines of income,” they said.

Currently, money transfers to Cuba through various agencies are at a standstill following an alleged Fincimex cybersecurity incident.

Translated by GH


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.

Less Venezuelan Oil and More Power Cuts From January for Cubans

The Renesto Guevara thermoelectric power station in Santa Cruz del Norte, Mayabeque. (PresidenciaCuba/Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 February 2024 – While Reuters reports a reduction to 32,000 barrels a day of Venezuelan oil for Cuba in January, the Unión Eléctrica (UNE) forecasts a reduction of 945 megawatts (MW) at peak hours for Monday, which is equivalent to a third of the estimated national demand for the day. The population, however, fears that the reality will be even worse and that this Sunday’s situation will be repeated, when a deficit of 940 MW was declared and 1,109 MW were affected.

According to the state-owned company, unit 2 of the Santa Cruz thermoelectric plant (Mayabeque), unit 6 of Diez de Octubre (Camagüey), unit 2 of Felton (Holguín) and units 5 and 6 of Renté, in Santiago de Cuba, are out of order. In addition, units 8 of Mariel (Artemisa) and 4 of Cienfuegos are under maintenance, despite the shortcomings of the National Electricity System (SEN).

According to Reuters, Venezuelan fuel exports fell by 25 per cent overall in January from the previous month, to about 624,000 barrels per day (bpd), due to “power outages” affecting the main oil export terminal. What Havana received from Caracas in the same period – 32,000 bpd of crude, gasoline and fuel oil – was slightly above December’s amount, Reuters reports, but below last year’s average (56,000 bpd). All this amid US threats to re-impose sanctions on Nicolás Maduro’s regime if it does not comply with an agreement to promote a fair presidential election. continue reading

Another internet user, more sarcastic, claimed that “training for the summer blackouts started early”

Cubans, who are used to facing the worst blackout seasons during the summer due to the increase in consumption and the overloading of the SEN at that time of year, are worried when they see that the same thing happens in the middle of winter. “When summer arrives, it will be the end of us Cubans, because now, with lower temperatures,  the deficit is increasing every day,” said one user after the company’s announcement. Another, more sarcastic internet user claimed that “training for the summer blackouts started early.”

Many customers attribute the almost 1,000 MW deficit to the storm that hit the west and part of the centre of the island on Sunday, which caused part of the power and telephone lines to fall in some municipalities in the capital and even flooded streets in some provinces, such as Sancti Spíritus. However, the authorities have not reported any consequences in any of the thermoelectric plants in these regions.

The weather also does not justify what happened on January 26, when dozens of users reported blackouts across the island due to a shortfall of 1,010 MW.

According to an article published a few days ago in ’Granma’, electricity generation in Cuba consumes 61% of “the fuel available in the country”

With an obsolete infrastructure that has lacked investment and maintenance for decades and continually reports breakdowns and massive blackouts, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has claimed that it is working to reverse this situation. Its plan, however, convinces hardly anyone: by 2030, the SEN forecasts that 29% of energy will come from renewable sources, a figure it expects to be 100% by 2050, a totally unattainable goal due to the backlog in this sector, which currently covers less than 5% of energy demand.

According to an article published a few days ago in Granma, electricity generation in Cuba consumes 61% of “the fuels available in the country.” With domestic crude oil and natural gas, the UNE covers 54% of the demand, but the remaining 46% requires the import of fuel oil and diesel, which is equivalent to millions of dollars in foreign currency that the state does not have.

In addition, since 2014, when the regime took on the “strategy” of promoting clean energy generation and began to offer investment plans in its business portfolios to install photovoltaic parks, the implementation of clean generation sources has been minimal.

In parallel, fuel-fired generation has been declining in recent years with no other means to counter the shortfall. According to data published last May by the Office of Statistics and Information (Onei), between 2019 and 2023, domestic power generation fell by 24.5 per cent and the government has barely managed to contract a few Turkish patanas, (mobile power plants supplied from Turkey) which do not manage to compensate for the shortcomings of the SEN.

Translated by GH


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

Is a Fraudulent Change Brewing Up in Cuba? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Ciudadano Cero, Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 7 June 2021 [Readers, note date, this is a delayed translation] — In a memorable scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”, the old Corleone hands over the family command to Michael, while warning him of the imminent danger of betrayal. The Don is a profound connoisseur of human nature, which is why his intuition takes on a degree of certainty; he knows that in every war the enemy obeys the relentless and simple logic of destroying you, an inescapable instinct that will persist even when he pretends to want conciliation. Hence Corleone’s stony sentence when he warns his son: “…whoever tells you about the Barzini meeting is the traitor.”

I recall this scene as a result of the debate in fashion today that focuses the attention of the Cuban opposition on the widespread suspicion that the late Castro regime is plotting to stage a scene to simulate an alleged dialogue with the dissidents, which would be nothing more than a bluff aimed at the Biden administration and a sullen Europe that do not compromise on the issue of Human Rights. Considering the modus operandi of the regime, we can assume that this would be one of its planned tactics, since it would represent nothing new in its strategy of generating a controlled dissent – a familiar tactic of similar regimes since the last century.

The controversial response of Tania Bruguera, one of the most prominent voices of the emerging 27N Movement, to a question by Eliecer Avila on the hypothetical way she would address the current visible face of the dictatorship, may have generated suspicion. That Miguel Díaz-Canel does not decide anything in Cuba is an open secret: nothing has changed under a handpicked president who does not disguise his loyalty to the Castros; the visible puppet of that oligarchy which behind the scenes wields real power has done nothing but boast of his unconditional adherence to the stalest kind of continuity. continue reading

That is why when this new Tania, whom nobody has appointed – although, to be fair, she does not declare herself an “official” interlocutor either- now addresses Díaz-Canel calling him Mr. President in a tone too honeyed for the Creole palate, and almost begs him for that reconciliation that the blunt Castroism has always denied us, alarm bells go off within the Cuban opposition, not by chance more radicalized. As almost always, it is usually that group which is most vehemently opposed to the upstart proponents of dialog, not because of wounded pride or gratuitous rancor, but because a greater maturity has given it the healthy habit of objectively analyzing situations without sweetening them, and holding on to the protection of the confrontational logic to which the reiterated waves of repression have forced it.

This opposition with its feet on the ground does not rule out the possibility that the regime has planned to set up a controlled stage on which to play out its own theater and thus evade real questions. Hence, when Tania arrives hand in hand with Eliecer Avila in this hushed kind of way, it cannot help sounding to many people like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Let’s remember that Eliecer, the “boy from the ICU”,( University of Information Sciences) rose to stardom with a famous video that went viral in a Cuba without Internet, which gave him unusual visibility, where he questioned several government policies before Ricardo Alarcón. That video, which was not recorded surreptitiously but with several professional cameras on sturdy tripods – something clear from the correct framing, the stable posture and several shooting angles- somehow mysteriously circumvented the infallible censorship of the political police, and the rest is known history.

Here I am saying nothing and proving nothing, but perhaps that inexplicable event still reverberates in our imaginary subconscious and emerges now, just when we get, by way of Eliecer, this “reformed” Bruguera, so candid, hinting at rapprochements with a counterpart which has never been inclined to abandon its intransigence, and that, on the contrary, continues to break records of house arrests, detentions, acts of repudiation,  and vandalistic raids. This is happening at a time when it is essential to have an overall perception in order to avoid costly distractions. Let us not expect obvious evidence; there never was and there never will be under Castroism, which is why all reading here must be done between the lines, from a panoramic perspective that guides us in the midst of a complex context always subordinated, don’t forget, to the enormous work of penetration of the Cuban opposition., maintained for more than half a century, by the State Security.

My introduction to this post is not gratuitous. Let us keep hold of the certainty that the Cuban State has always maintained a mafia-like approach in its relationship with its people: this bunch of no-goods commit crimes, break their own laws, steal with full hands and profits from our misery, extorts us inside and outside Cuba when we pay unjustified and expensive extensions, when it monopolizes exorbitant prices in its network of commerce; it makes use of force if you complain to it, it abuses its power when it makes generalisations about its lousy management, it traffics in influences in its public functions and restricts the division of powers when it sets itself up as judge and jury; it blackmails millions of Cubans when it denies them entry or exit to their own country because of political biases, in short, pure Mafia in the strictest sense of the term, and it is with these people that the dialogue partners hope to reach agreements.

If the prediction comes true and the regime agrees to “dialogue”, the most consistent opponents will never be invited to its assembly: Antonio Rodiles on behalf of Estado de Sats, José Daniel Ferrer on behalf of UNPACU, Coco Fariñas speaking for FANTU, Berta Soler for the Ladies in White, and the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, will be among those not invited. Nor would the most vocal voices of the Cuban Independent Press be invited, from Yoani Sanchez to the dozens of activists inside and outside Cuba who would deserve to be there for having exercised, against all the odds, their legitimate right to disseminate truthful information, and have been the nail in the regime’s shoe.

No, this would not be the opposition they would invite to “dialogue”. Castroism has a different plan that would not expose it to real dangers: it would set it up according to its prepared pre-established script, and that is why it plants and equips its agents with credible profiles, to keep the door ajar and for everything to flow smoothly when the time comes. At that table, they would play a rigged deck, Castroism would bet on its cards and would invite only lightweight interlocutors and the occasional small-time voice so it could impose its usual monologue.  And it wouldn’t matter that at that precise minute its repressive apparatus would be continuing in the streets doing its business. Another dirty trick, comparable to the tomfoolery when Fidel Castro used to call “cordial” meetings in Havana to “normalize” his relationship with the emigrants.

What would happen next is obvious. the diplomatic and publicity offensive would follow, where he would employ his media figureheads, collect outstanding favors, pressure his extensive network of international accomplices,,squeeze the balls of his blackmail victims, and activate his agents in the US and Europe to pave the way for reopening the door to this Biden who until yesterday was trying to reactivate Obama’s freebies. That would be the ultimate purpose of the trap. With all this, Castroism would try to calm tempers while silencing the most critical voices and demoralizing the most radical opposition, but above all, it would gain precious time in the midst of this chaos generated by its absolute lack of cash flow and its pathetic political isolation, sinking every day deeper into an irreversible crisis that is leading it to a potential social upheaval.

A completely different scenario, however much it may resemble it, would result from an authentic step-by-step negotiation, in the style proposed in ADN. In that case, clearly, each step forward would be dependent on previous concrete measures, leading to real and progressive openings -you give me, I give you; you don’t give me, I don’t give you- that is to say, verifiable changes would be demanded a priori, which is, in essence, exactly what the opposition is demanding. This could lead to the irreversible implementation of democratic mechanisms that would lead to a negotiated exit from the abyss. A utopia? Definitely yes, in light of current events, but also a door that we should leave ajar to avoid bloodshed in the future.  It would be a supreme folly to refuse a negotiated solution that would lead us to real freedom and full democracy.

The danger exposed here does not come from the kind of negotiation I have outlined above, no. Processes of this type have previously resulted in the liberation of peoples in South Africa and India and were even decisive in the Spanish transition, among other happy examples, but the prevailing conditions in Cuba at the moment are very different: in our case the opposition has not managed to cohere and show enough muscle to put pressure on its counterpart. As long as this essential condition is not met, such a negotiation will be impossible in the Cuban context, and the dictatorship knows it, that is why it is now preparing a new trap to offer us, once again, its cup of hemlock.

Listen to me, Cubans! If Castroism succeeds in pulling off such a trick, it would be able to reposition itself on its throne and then we could live under terror for another 62,000 years. From these facts an undeniable evidence emerges: whoever accepts a “dialogue” under such rules of the despotic government of Diaz-Canel would actually negotiate with the hidden power behind him, would be an accomplice and participant in the dictatorship’s game and would be guilty of an unforgivable act of betrayal of the homeland. At that moment, Corleone’s premonition would be valid: if that day comes, we will see who participates in the deception and we will know who is the traitor.

Translated by GH

Cuba Recommends Wearing Masks in Crowds, but Does Not Require Tourists To Take Covid Tests

Image in Havana in August 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic (14ymedio/File)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 9 January 2024 — The Cuban Public Health Ministry this Tuesday recommended that people use masks in crowds and keep to the program of vaccination against covid-19.

The request, issued in an article from the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, came out just after the country kept to its position of not requiring covid-19 tests for tourists coming to the island, at the start of the economically-important high tourist season.

Portal Miranda affirmed that his ministry maintains “active” epidemiological and microbiological surveillance in its health system to detect the presence of respiratory viruses and new variants of covid-19.

He stressed that in Cuba “the current increase in these infections is not significant”, although he cited the recent alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in view of the world-wide increase in respiratory diseases caused by covid-19, influenza and other viruses during the last few weeks. continue reading

However, he drew attention to the “need to comply with health protection measures, especially in vulnerable groups” during the coldest time of the year, which coincides with the seasonal period of acute respiratory infections.

So far in 2024 the most frequent covid-19 subvariants on the island are XBB 1.5, XBB.1.9 and XBB.1.16, classified by the WHO as being of interest or under surveillance

The health authority pointed out the importance of using masks “in places with high concentrations of people; the need to go to the doctor when respiratory symptoms appear, and to keep the anti-covid-19 vaccination schedule up to date”.

In this regard, he said that as part of the country’s health protocols, vaccination against covid-19 has continued to be carried out, with “special emphasis” on children from two years of age, pregnant women and people identified as vulnerable, who are receiving booster shots.

The Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) reported that as 0f January 5, 90.9% of the population (10,044,217 people) had received the complete schedule of the three Cuban-made anti-covid-19 vaccines: Soberana 02, Soberana Plus and Abdala.

Portal Miranda stated that control of the circulation of the covid-19 virus has been achieved on the island and that in 2023, of the more than 121,800 tests performed, only 2.5% were positive.

He added that in the last two months of 2023 and so far in 2024 the most frequent covid-19 subvariants on the Island are XBB 1.5, XBB.1.9 and XBB.1.16, classified by the WHO as being of concern or under surveillance.

A recent publication by the Ministry of Public Health explains that international travelers “do not have to present any negative test for covid-19” upon arrival on the island and pointed out that only those who present or are detected with respiratory symptoms will undergo a rapid test or PCR sample collection.

Recommendations to visitors include the use of face masks in airplanes and air terminals, as well as in crowds and on public transportation.

Translated by GH


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 Wealthy Districts of the Cuban Capital Enjoy VIP-Level Cleaning Services

Perhaps what stands out most in this neighborhood are the garbage containers: spotless and emptied, without the mountains of garbage around them that can be seen in so many corners of the city (14ymedio).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 8 January 2024 — Beyond Nuevo Vedado, past the Colón cemetery and the zoo, on the border between Playa and Plaza de la Revolución, passers-by can admire a landscape that does not exist in the center of the capital. Wide, tree-lined streets, huge, well-kept houses, well-dressed people, some of them with bags full of food, modern cars. Here, on Kohly Avenue, you can´t hear shouting or arguing, and the only queue that can be seen, at the Acapulco gas station, moves forward in an orderly fashion.

It is the other face of the Cuban capital, far removed from the chaos of Central Havana or Old Havana, not to mention poorer municipalities such as Cerro, La Lisa or Diez de Octubre, where decay and dirt leave little room for beauty. Surprisingly, and as a significant indicator, there are ATMs, such as those of the Banco Metropolitano at 26 and 32, with money, without queues and working properly.

Wide, tree-lined streets, huge, well-kept houses, well-dressed people, some of them with bags full of food, modern cars (14ymedio).

But perhaps what are most noticeable in this neighborhood are the garbage containers: spotless and emptied, without the mountains of garbage around them that can be seen in so many corners of the city, and that sometimes, give rise to dangerous fires. The Community Services people can be seen working in these streets.

n Kohly Avenue, you can´t hear shouting or arguing, and the only queue to be seen is at the Acapulco gas station, moving forward in an orderly fashion.

Kohly illustrates the inequalities that the Revolution, far from solving, accentuated. A normal well-preserved and civilized city, inside another city, which is neglected and where the law of the jungle prevails… reserved for those who do not have a share of power on the island.

Translated by GH


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

A Mother of Four Children Killed by Her Partner in Holguin, Cuba

In 2023, the independent platforms and media confirmed the murder of 87 women. (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/file)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 10 2024 – Independent platforms  Alas Tensas y Yo Sí Te Creo in Cuba this Wednesday confirmed the second femicide of the year, which had hardly started. This was Yanilsa Zamora Miranda, a 48 year old housewife. It is understood that she was killed by her partner this Tuesday in her house in calle Guarro, in Santiesteban Department, Holguín.

The first news of the crime was given by an official Facebook profile, Cazador-Cazado, calling it a “passionate murder.” The brief text said, without referring to the victim, that “in the early hours of the morning” the individual Yusniel Arevalo Mora presented himself at the 3rd Police Station of the eastern city to declare that “he had taken the life of his partner”, which, it stated, “was corroborated by the authorities.”

In the early hours of the morning” the individual, Yusniel Arevalo Mora,  presented himself at the 3rd Police Station in the eastern city to declare that “he had killed his partner.”

Zamora Miranda leaves three daughters and a son, two of them still minors.

Just two days ago, both Alas Tensas and Yo Sí Te Creo included in their records the murder of Diana Rosa Cervantes Mejías, the first femicide of 2024, which had been confirmed by the independent press on January 3.

As detailed in La Hora de Cuba, the 29-year-old victim was brutally beaten by the alleged assailant, who was out on bail and awaiting trial at the time of the crime, for having assaulted “a co-worker with a machete.”

In 2023, independent platforms and media confirmed the murder of 87 women, more than double the 36 recorded the previous year.

Translated by GH


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.

Proposal for Introduction of Decree Law 35 / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 18 August 2021 [Correct date, translation delayed]  — Well, what was always a very high possibility is now a crude certainty: the Gag Law for the Internet in Cuba has just come into force!  Decree-Law 35, which has recently been published in the Official Gazette, has as its declared aim the silencing of the Cuban people on social networks, and making any criticism of Castroism on the Internet, a crime, because the Cuban regime knows that it was there that the spark went off that set the streets of Cuba ablaze on 11 July 2021 (’11J’)

Freedom of thought and opinion is a luxury forbidden to my people under old-school tropical Stalinism. On this absolute principle, this ominous dictatorship has built an overwhelming information monopoly that takes up absolutely all the available national space through which it systematically spreads lies left and right, defames opponents and arranges as many media lynchings as it wants, without ever granting the right of reply. But today, that is not enough; it also wants to break into your house uninvited.

It turns out that these gentlemen, who are used to their infamous monologue, now come to us with this vulgarity – which is inadmissable in continue reading

the terms of the current Constitution, which they promulgated in a fit of demagogy – and with their now customary cynicism they included in the objectives of their nonsense “… to protect the interests of citizens… to ensure access to telecommunications services… and the rights to equality, privacy and secrecy in communications…”, as if millions of Cubans, massive victims of the digital blackout perpetrated on 11 July, were not already long accustomed to the systematic censorship by ETECSA’s servants, and had not witnessed the innumerable pressures in the weeks following ’11J’ – threats of dismissal from work or study centres for repeating information about the protests or showing support in any way for the victims of the repression – throughout the entire country.

But even if I am not willing to abide by it, to begin with I propose that this decree be applied to the President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez himself – and this time I omit his second forename to avoid confusion – since we can all remember how this gentleman made an irresponsible call to violence through his social media account last July 11; a call that the Cuban people will never forget, inciting his communist hordes to repress my people -something he did not do from a park bench, but on national television and social networks, from his position as President of the nation!

We all clearly heard this scoundrel shout “…the combat order is given…!” after which, together with the usual repressive hordes of the MININT, the army’s elite pack – whose only mission, presumably, should be to defend the people from external aggressions and never to turn against them – was unleashed to crush the cry in the only way it knows how: with beatings, imprisonment and summary trials without any right to defense.

No one would dispute the direct responsibility that Díaz-Canel had in that massacre, as well as the media clowns who have incited hatred from those same social networks that today they want to constrain for years, and who also comprehensively defamed the defenseless opposition, and threatened them in a thousand ways – read the Humberticos  and the Serranos, the Randy and the Froilanes, followed by a shameful etc.

That is why I also propose to apply Decree-Law 35 to them, because all of them, with a greater or lesser degree of responsibility, have thousands of times, with millions of Cubans as witnesses, carried out acts clearly catalogued in the three subcategories of this Royal Decree as crimes of a high level of danger: repeating false news in the media – every time that they deliberately lied to our people; blocking millions of accounts in social networks – when this miserable wimp perpetrated the cowardly digital blackout of July 11; and spreading harmful information with total bad faith – lies intended to delegitimize the opposition by presenting them as mercenaries at the service of a foreign power.

Of course, after July 11, you could hardly leave out from the decree the pearl that represents the call to insubordination – section (category 3, subcategory 3) – as a “…disturbance of public order…” and a “…promotion of social indiscipline…” catalogued with a very high level of danger, and for which the regime will of course have reserved its most refined resolutions of condemnation.

But as self-defense is the most basic of rights, millions of false profiles will be opened from where my people will go into that kind of digital hiding that many will opt for. That is why from the exact minute this post is published, I wish to make public that Jeovany Jimenez Vega – el Chino, to my friends – will never hide behind a false profile: I never did it and am very proud to say I certainly will not do it after 11 July.

Anyone who does not want to know what I think is perfectly entitled not to visit my wall and to ignore my tweets, but I will always show and defend my love for my homeland, in accordance with principles written in stone, that I did not learn in any party manual, but are influenced by the sacred thoughts of José Julián Martí – which will never be questioned.

My freedom of thought and opinion is an inalienable right that I will never entrust to the mercies of any despot! If from now on my words are not more incisive or aggressive against those who subjugate my people, it will only be because of my lack of talent, or because I cannot find the exact words to portray all their crudeness and the deepest contempt they arouse among my people.

The cowards who still oppress my beloved Cuba are warned: do not expect any indulgence from me, and I will not expect any from you! If you do not want to be called dictators and murderers, you will have to stop acting like them;  this is a war to the death between my people who fight for freedom and the tyrants who destroy it, and I am willing to leave my soul, my skin and my life outside or inside Cuba in that war.

I say this to make things clear.

Translated by GH

Calabria Contracted Cuban Doctors Out of ‘Desperacion’, Say the Italian Authorities

Roberto Occhiuto, president of the Calabrian region, and the first group of Cuban healthcare workers who arrived there last January. (Facebook/ Roberto Occhiuto)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, October 4th 2023 – – “The idea sprang from desperation”, was the answer that Roberto Occhiuto, president of the region of Calabria (Italy), gave to Reuters regarding the hiring of Cuban doctors last August to alleviate the health crisis in that province. According to the politician, doctors from other countries do not want to work in the European nation because, he says, they would earn much more in countries such as France or Germany, which offer higher salaries. ##”I tried with Albanian doctors, but they told me that, although in Italy they can earn five to six times more than in their own country, in Germany they could earn much, much more than that,” the official explained to the British agency. Havana, however, did not wait long, and a contract was quickly signed for 497 doctors to arrive in Calabria this year for a period of three years, of whom at least 171 are already working in the region.

Although the hiring annoyed the Italian medical staff, the authorities gave assurances that the Cubans “are not going to steal any jobs”

Although the hiring annoyed the Italian medical staff, the authorities gave assurances that the Cubans “are not going to steal any jobs” and that increasing the personnel was necessary, especially after the covid-19 pandemic, which exposed the deep crisis in the sector.

Interviewed by Reuters, Elizabeth Balbuena, a cardiologist from Santiago who arrived in the Calabrian city of Locri as part of the first contingent of 51 doctors this January, described her surprise on learning that she would be traveling to Europe as part of the mission. “It was a surprise to me to think that Italy had a health problem. None of us had ever been to Europe,” said the Cuban, who is used to the most common destinations being in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

Nevertheless, the country´s authorities recognise that the arrival of the health workers only constitutes a temporary relief, since they have to return to the island in 2025. By the same year, according to Italian trade unions, a quarter of the 102,000 Italian doctors working in public health will be of retirement age.

With these forecasts, the Italian government has begun to negotiate with professionals from less “demanding” nations who are willing to provide their medical services. This is not only the case of Cuba, but also of India, a country visited last March by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, where she signed a memorandum for the recruitment of nurses and paramedics.

Italy has always been reluctant to hire foreign staff, says Reuters. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2019 the country had just 0.9% presence of healthcare personnel from OECD countries, in contrast to 11.6% in France, 13.1% in Germany and 30% in the UK. However, only 107 French and 317 German physicians worked in Italy.

During the pandemic, when the country faced saturation of its public health services, the government eased restrictions that only allowed the recruitment of physicians from the European Union or who had residency.

According to OECD data for 2021, at least 11,358 Italian doctors are working in OECD member countries

The situation is aggravated by the fact that salaries in the medical sector in Italy ($82,000 per year for a specialist) are considerably lower than in other nearby countries with similar size economies, such as France (99,000), the United Kingdom (156,000) or Germany (172,000).

Interviewed by Reuters, Lorenzo Grillo della Berta, in charge of health in Morbegno, north of Milan, describes the case of a hospital with just 15 beds that could not open due to lack of staff. “It’s a remote place and it’s not considered attractive. Besides, as soon as you cross the border you find yourself in Switzerland, where you earn more.” “If here a nurse earns 1,500 euros (per month), in Switzerland she earns more than twice as much,” she said.

According to OECD data for 2021, at least 11,358 Italian physicians are working in OECD member countries, of whom 1,644 are employed in France and another 1,408 in Germany. Other non-member states, such as the United Arab Emirates, also attract the attention of Italian staff. According to the Nursing Up union, this September 550 nurses signed up to go to work in Abu Dhabi, where they earn about 3,400 euros and have their accommodation and travel expenses paid.

Uncompetitive salaries, defective infrastructure, long working hours and bureaucracy not only deter national healthcare workers, but also hinder the arrival of foreigners seeking opportunities in the sector. “In Italy it takes a year or a year and a half to accredit (international) degrees. People leave because of that,” Foad Aodi, head of the Italian association of foreign doctors, told the agency.

During the pandemic, the country’s leaders promised to reinvest more heavily in public health. However, as the number of infections declined, these promises came to nothing.

The Meloni government reported that healthcare spending for 2023 will be 6.6% of gross domestic product, 0.2% less than the previous year. By next year it will fall even more, to 6.2%.

Translated by GH


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: Carlos Rojas Residents Protest in the Streets About Lack of Water Supply

A street in the Carlos Rojas village, in Matanzas. (Mapcarta/Captura/Archivo – Radio Televisión Martí)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2023. – – Dozens of residents in Carlos Rojas village, in the province of Matanzas, protested in the streets this Wednesday because of the lack of water supply. The local people demanded the restoration of the service and criticised the apathy of the officials, according to statements to 14ymedio by the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque.

According to the dissident, an ex-prisoner of the Black Spring the water supply problem has affected the area for several days. Roque, who was able to talk by phone with the activist Ania Zamora, a Carlos Rojas resident, explains that local anger has increased in the last few hours.

“Apart from the fact that we have been without water for days, now they want to take away the transformer because there is no electricity in Perico [a nearby village] and the head of the electricity company came to take it away to re-establish service there, but if they take it away then the problem we have with the water will last much longer,” said Zamora in a call to the dissident.

“They tell us lies and more lies”, complains Zamora about the actions of the officials. In the recording of the call, to which this newspaper had access, the activist adds that along with the electricity company’s directors and several party officials, the police have also arrived in the village “to frighten” the residents.

“Not only have we been left for days without water, now they want to take away the transformer because there is no electricity in Perico.” continue reading

“There are a lot of people involved, they are in front of their houses and in the streets, we are not going to move until we get water and so that they don’t take away the transformer. The people are great, they’re not quiet, they’re shouting at the officials,” says Zamora. Attempts by this newspaper to contact Martha Beatriz Roque were unsuccessful, her mobile phone was “switched off or out of range”.

The village of Carlos Rojas has a population of approximately 6,000 inhabitants and is located on the road that connects the town of Cárdenas with the municipality of Jovellanos.

This is not the first time that the village residents have staged a protest to demand the restoration of water services or the reestablishment of the electricity supply. In November 2020, they received several officials and military personnel shouting “Liars!” after several hours of blackout.

“We are tired of lies,” warned activist and Lady in White Sissi Abascal Zamora, Annia’s daughter, currently in prison and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for painting ’Patria y Vida’ on a sheet during the protests of 11 July 2021.

“There are a lot of people involved, they are in front of their houses and in the streets, they are not going to move until we get water and so that they don’t take away the transformer.”

In those images, taken in the dark and only visible by the light of the mobile phones, one can see the officials confused and overwhelmed by the avalanche of complaints and criticisms of their management.

In September 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, local residents also took to the streets to demand the repair of power lines and a food supply.

The name of the village is a tribute to the pro-independence general Carlos María Rojas Cruzat, who was elected mayor of Cárdenas during the Republican period. The community has traditionally been involved in  the cultivation of sugar cane and livestock, which is why in recent years it has been greatly affected by the decline of the sugar industry on the island.

Translated by GH


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.

Double Tragedy in the Cuban Village of Mir: Two Young People Die in a Well and a Third Is Killed by a Lightning Strike

Yasmani Parra Peña was 28 years old and left two small children as orphans. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2023 — The village of Mir, with fewer than 7,000 inhabitants, in the municipality of Calixto García in Holguín, was already in mourning when, on Monday, a lightning strike killed a young man and injured several others. All the victims were at the cemetery, at the burial of two other boys who had drowned in a well in the Monte Alto area, identified in social networks as Alexey Pantoja Ventacurt and Rafael Zamora. According to various media reports, the circumstances of this latest incident, which occurred at the weekend, are still being investigated, and it is only known that the victims are also young men who went down the well and drowned.

Yasmani Parra Peña was killed by the lightning strike, as confirmed  to 14ymedio by an employee of the Ernesto Guevara polyclinic. He was 28 years old and left two young children orphaned. “This has been terrible here in Mir,” said the shocked worker, who said that all but one of the injured had already been discharged.

“This has been terrible here in Mir,” said the shocked worker, who said that all but one of the injured had already been discharged

On the Facebook group Friends and Neighbours of Mir, where news of the tragedy broke, condolences to those close to them immediately multiplied. Some seemed to know Parra Peña very well and referred to him as the “son of Mariela, Cheo’s wife”. continue reading

His sister, Yaquelin Parra Peña, thanked everyone for their comments. “My brother, you turned me into dust, you took my heart, I love you with my life. I fought for you until the last day and now I will fight for your children; I no longer have three children but five, my children, you will always be present in my life”, said the young woman, with a lot of pain. “My soul brother, he finished me off, he buried me alive.”

Translated by GH


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.

Economic Disorder, Castroism’s Vocation / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 15 Dec 2020 (Readers note: This article is more than three years old, but has just been translated for this site]We are so accustomed to Castroism’s autocratic punches that we end up reacting in the same way every time the Cuban authorities announce with suspicious solemnity some “set of new measures”, so that, without being able to help it, the ordinary Cuban in the street puts his hands to his head and enters into the same state of anxiety as when an arrogant hurricane arrives. It is a basic conditioned reflex that time has turned into an inevitable sensation, and so as not to break his old habit, Raúl Castro has just left us his farewell gift: a combo designed in the galleys of the Council of State with the connivance of the politburo that blackens the horizon and our Dantesque future.

The year that is ending had already witnessed how the Castro technocracy closed the doors to the private sector that supplied the informal market by means of mules importing clothes, footwear and other supplies, and we saw how, full of malice, it imposed the onerous MLC shops – operated by magnetic cards that can only be recharged abroad – to hoard all the currency in its coffers and limit as much as possible its circulation on the island. The result? An exchange rate devaluation of the CUC and the CUP that broke historical records at the year end. This measure revived the passport-only shops of the 1980s and only paved the way for the second step of a plan euphemistically called “monetary unification”, postponed since 2011 and aimed at remedying an evil that kept business management inoperative with its serious distortion for almost three decades.

“Unification” is a euphemism because when the devalued CUC says goodbye in January 2021, the country will again be left, in practical terms, with two currencies, given that the CUP/DIVISA duo will replace the CUP/CUC pair in force until now – quite apart from the certainty that the virtual currency MLC shops, even if precariously, will be the only ones with supplies. In other words, the supposed “unification” will be more fictitious than real and will solve nothing, just as it will be useless to abandon the disastrous practice up til now of equalising only in business transactions the 1 CUC/1 CUP ratio because the new rate of 24 CUP/1 USD will not be realistic either, but just one more arbitrary measure that will continue to distort production indices. continue reading

But as if that were not enough, Raúl Castro closes this grey year with a flourish and launches a final shit decision to fuck up the lives of 95% of Cubans. Because that is the only way a pensioner could look at it, even if his monthly chequebook is quintupled, if he still sees his electricity tariff quintupled and the cost of every food item in his shopping basket increased in the same proportion. It is pointless  throwing into circulation millions of pesos if they are going to be devalued on the spot: without properly addressing demand we will have our hands full of fake currency, volatile paper, and we will be faced with a useless attempt to weather the storm without really solving any problem.

Hopelessly doomed to failure, and coming at the wrong time, a policy that does not even mention measures to emancipate SME activity, to stimulate and protect small entrepreneurs or agricultural producers, or the product of their work, or to provide them with a legal personality that would make it possible to legalise orderly trade and provide for a universal, egalitarian, fair and sensible system of taxation; then, and only then, would another cock crow.

This pig´s breakfast calls for another comment, for being an arbitrary immorality, the icing on the cake for Cuban emigrants: the obligation to pay to Havana 4% of the gross monthly income earned from their work abroad while they hold the status of permanent resident in Cuba, even if they do not permanently reside in the country. The measure, which has been contemplated in Law 113 since 2013 (an ugly tale) would come into force from January 2021, a decision that has been received with open hostility by our emigrants wherever they live and their families in Cuba.

This unfair imposition is an armed robbery and will be very difficult to deal with for those who do not physically reside on the island, but who visit their family for a few days each year and are permanent residents only in the migratory sense – which is, of course, pure semantics – and who therefore have not made effective use of public services on the island for years, or decades, but only from time to time, Cubans who also work their asses off abroad under different circumstances to support their families inside and outside Cuba, but who above all – and this is the big issue – already pay taxes in those respective countries, where of course they pay social security and make effective use of public services. This double taxation now demanded by the regime in Havana is unacceptable, and will never be logical for an emigrant who must also pay double taxes to the same shameful regime that forced him to leave his homeland.

There are of course other, less radical measures that could be considered to cover the expenses of Cubans who do not wish to change their migratory status because they eventually visit the island while living abroad – there is travel insurance, possible differentiated rates during their visits for certain services, to cite just a few examples – but something very different presupposes putting one’s hand in the pockets of emigrants every month, because in this case we are dealing with an excessive abuse, a real armed robbery, and evidence of the bad faith of those who are once again blackmailing with the idea of prohibiting emigrants from entering their own country – for such will be the punishment of the insubordinate – and taking millions of families in Cuba hostage as a bargaining chip in this dirty game of late-Castro Stalinism.

Although calling this blunder an unauthorised decision would only make sense in the light of the Creole joke, because evidently we are facing a package of measures as draconian as they are well premeditated. Something so comprehensive and complex to implement can only be the deliberate perversity of some opportunistic son of a bitch. Something like this implies an intentional decision to fuck up our lives, and is the tacit answer to those who still do not understand why Raúl Castro left unratified those Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that in a fit of puerile boasting and waste of consummate demagogy was signed by Fidel Castro in February 2012.

Will these measures solve the Cuban problem? Raúl Castro’s secretary himself, his wimp Díaz-Canel, made it clear to all of us that they will not. Will they alleviate the shortages on our table, or will they fill some basic basket of goods? Even pre-school kids in Cuba know the answer to that. Or will they only aggravate the public debt and further jeopardise the already astronomical budget deficit? This is something that even the stupidest person  understands. Isn’t increasing wages without an increase in production and without a proportional increase in supply the same as filling a bottomless bucket and will only devalue the current currency even more brutally? This is something that even the least gifted student learns from his first class in any economics faculty, even at the University of Havana.

It is obvious that the most stubbornly uncooperative Castroism has opted to continue ploughing the sea. The clique of opportunist henchmen in power know perfectly well that this is just another mental straw, and they know this because they also know very well what could be done to get the country out of the quagmire. Of course they know it perfectly well, but the alternative of giving up their class privileges and giving the people back their real rights would be to the detriment of their selfish and bourgeois way of looking at things.

Although nothing more could be expected of Castroism than for it to persist to the end in its anthological parasitism. But these delusions may be its final death rattle, the definitive confession of an agonising regime that knows it has failed, that recognises it is incapable of generating wealth and therefore goes out to steal it from the world. In the event, they only have in mind Louis XV’s maxim which the octogenarian minor military man seems to repeat when he throws everything into the shit while thinking – if he still thinks – after me the deluge!… and the Cubans can go fuck themselves!

Translated by GH

Cuba: You Must Be Having a Laugh Diaz-Canel… / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 5 May 2023 — How was it possible, after the worst plane crash in our recent history, [Cubana de Aviación Flight 972 crashed in May 2018  at Santiago de las Vegas with loss of 112 lives], after the fatal collapse of the balconies that took the lives of three girls in a ruined Havana – and the subsequent collapse of several other buildings – as well as the appalling neglect to which the neighbourhoods devastated by that fatal tornado [January 2019 in Havana, 3 died] were condemned? After the extremely painful Hotel Saratoga disaster; after we saw the storage tanks at the Matanzas supertanker base burn to the ground – all tragedies that had as a common denominator the carelessness and irresponsibility of the Cuban authorities?

How was this possible after repressing marches of homosexuals demanding genuine respect outside Mariela Castro’s opportunism, and even after sinking up to his neck in shamelessness when setting his dogs on millions of unarmed Cubans on that historic day of protest 11 July 2021 when half a hundred cities across the country made clear their disgust and weariness? How can this “re-election” be at least minimally credible after the return of the hated hard currency stores – with the evident apartheid that this implies – and the daily blackouts; how after killing off the supposed monetary unification and each and every one of the vaunted points of a “reordering task” that only further deepened the previously prevailing chaos and has plunged us into a galloping inflation that breaks new records every day?

These are the mysteries and miracles that can only be worked in mediocracies – if they are authentic, of course – such as ours. The answer to all these questions lies behind a by no means fortuitous fact, which explains why five years ago Raúl Castro pointed his all-powerful finger at the anointed Díaz-Canel and not at any other among dozens of obsequious flunkies, and it was for something very simple: because he always knew that he had before him an anodyne type, the typical grey, cowardly guerilla type of being, so lacking in swing that in the eyes of ordinary Cubans he would go unnoticed even if he were dancing the hula hoop in a thong at noon at the intersection of 23rd and 12th in Havana; precisely for that reason the hardliners, the real Taliban of Castroism, set their sights on someone so colourless and lacking in charisma: those who really pull the strings always knew that this ductile amalgam was the right bet, safe and comfortable in order not to take any unnecessary risks – or what is the same, said in Castro jargon – to “change” everything that needs to be changed… without changing anything. continue reading

The leadership of Castroism needed someone sufficiently insipid and lacking in character, someone whose lack of magnetism would guarantee an absolute lack of leadership and whose genuflection – which we have witnessed during the “government” farce of the last five years – would ensure smooth sailing through the calm waters of obedience without casting any shadow whatsoever; The rascals in Havana’s La Plaza de la Revolucion knew full well that such a wimp would never pose any danger to their clan which, behind the scenes, has continued to pull the strings of royal power without a fuss.

And so, to conclude, let it be said in plain language: Díaz-Canel was re-elected because he has governed very well so far! Such a statement should come as a surprise to no one because, as always, anyone who wants to find the right answer only has to ask the right question: for whose benefit was Díaz-Canel supposed to govern, what was and still is his real mission, was he elected and then re-elected “by the pointing of a finger” to promote, foster and stimulate the prosperity of the Cuban people? In the face of such rhetorical questions, superfluous answers are superfluous: it is enough to go out into the street and look at the harshest face of our poverty to conclude, after such obvious evidence, the clearest and simplest of truths: this puppet was brought on stage to “govern” for and on behalf of the Castro regime, never for the benefit of the Cuban people, and so far he has done it very well!

And consider if that is what has happened: there are our more than a thousand political prisoners of July 11 as clear proof of their servility to the chosen way forward, the most abject continuity; there is the most bestial repression against our authentic civil society; there is the most painful and massive exodus in Cuban history, the result of the post July 11 repression, which long ago made the total number of emigrants from Camarioca in 1965, the Mariel exodus in 1980 and the one that followed the rafter crisis of 1994 pale in comparison; there is your “government” at the bottom of all world standards of freedom of the press, its enviable indexes of repression and of common and political prisoners per number of inhabitants; there are still the laws in force that under their disastrous management have turned the Cuban legal system into one of the most repressive in the world and further criminalised our civil rights, including laws that continue to restrict the right of emigrants to return and invest with due guarantees in their own country, that continue to stifle the national economy in every possible way – the true and only origin of our poverty – while the cynical mourners continue to blame it on the external embargo. In the meantime, the money has continued to flow unceasingly into the dictatorship’s coffers thanks to the effective management of our current shit in office.

This gentleman will go down in history for all this; his most profound legacy will be to have made lemonade the basis of everything, for having played the saddest role in this circus: that of the clown who, from above or from below, nobody respects, condemned as he is to be remembered forever, renamed in all the ends of the earth – and for this, people, you do have to be laughing like Díaz-Canel

Translated by GH

Castrochavism and Its Accomplices

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Cuba’s Raul Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, in a 2012 image. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 4 May 2023 — Castroism has been catastrophic for Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, as well as a certain threat to the progress and stability of the rest of the countries in the hemisphere because of its vast, deep and different ways of operating against democracy, so many that, despite the accumulated failures, they are still poles of attraction for those who see power as spoils of war.

Decades after their emergence, these nations and those that have approached them — Ecuador is a valid example — present serious governance problems, exacerbated by chronic misery and a total absence of freedoms and rights, a situation that forces citizens aware of their prerogatives to fight disgrace with the tragic consequences of death, prison and exile.

However, it is a source of pride for all of us that, although the tragedy in these four countries is a painful reality, resistance has not been broken in any of them, since repression, however crude it may be, does not succeed in extinguishing free spirits.

However, it would be very helpful for these resistance fighters to have more concrete support from the international community, and to get beyond high-sounding declarations and sanctions that are seldom fully implemented.

A network of regimes of force such as the one built by the Castro-Chavistas cannot be destroyed or neutralized with superficial solutions and in isolation, because, in addition to having power, there is no lack of friends ready to serve them, as is the case of Brazil’s Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, among others. continue reading

It is true that the greatest responsibility lies with the people who put up with tyranny, but history has shown that transnational domination cannot be overthrown by unilateral actions. Common and decisive action on the part of those who challenge them is necessary. There is no country free of predators, there is no vaccine against little gods, as Anatole France would say, with the capacity to destroy what has been built, a warning that no time should be lost in what has to be done.

On the other hand, we should keep in mind that the commanders who impose the ignominy of a government of force are the people most responsible for that misfortune, but they are not the only ones. Their collaborators and followers share responsibility, because as José Martí wrote, “to calmly observe a crime is to commit it”, and those regimes are characterized by spreading their cruelty to achieve the desired social control, and in that way gaining numerous accomplices who join in the mischief.

These dictatorships have a vast clientele of servants who can mutate from victims to aggressors. The latter are transformed into abused slaves when they get a bad conscience about their complicity, or on a whim are punished by their masters.

There is no shortage of willing and talented autocrats, cruel and merciless people, but even so, they cannot build a regime in their own image and likeness by themselves. They have to find a team of executioners in the literal sense of the term, and people to carry out the dirty work.

The work of autocrats, be they Fidel and Raúl Castro, Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega, Miguel Díaz-Canel, Evo Morales or Rafael Correa, is assisted and complemented by ever-present opportunists, or by those who carry out their designs with blood and fire. They are the ones who give form with their actions to the official slogans and voluntarily give up their rights.

The work of these despots, including their march to power, is aided by the bad judgments, idleness and complicity of large numbers of their fellow countrymen. Of these, perhaps the majority, the most passionate supporters, come from the common people. Nevertheless, they have to count, at least in part, on the ruling class, intellectuals, businesspeople, social leaders, artists and professionals, to be able to build their empire, at least that is what happened in Cuba, and it was also seen in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Although as Cubans it is painful for us to see it, we must recognize that the Island´s regime has provided a wealth of experience and knowledge to its Latin American peers. The dictators of these countries, and those that the future may bring, have been able to impose their will thanks to the direct advice of Castro’s totalitarianism, which has sent many of its executioners to show how terror should be systematically and institutionally imposed.

Translated by GH


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.

Abstention, a Fearsome Weapon Against Castroism / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

14ymedio biggerJeovany Jimenez Vega, 29 March 2023 — The regime’s most embellished figures on turnout in the last parliamentary elections put voting abstention at between 25 and 30 per cent of the voting population. Beyond the certain statistical adulteration and the lies accepted a priori, the rising and active trend of non-participation during the last elections has been striking, something that surely provokes a strong nervous tension in the Castro leadership.

If the officially accepted fact — I personally infer that the actual abstention rate was around 50% — that one in four voters was insubordinate has ended up drawing attention to our evident social anger, just imagine what a hot potato we would leave the Communist Party technocrats if in some future farce we get a picture of a majority of empty polling stations. That landscape would leave the satraps with their despicable mantras about “massive turnout as proof of the unshakable confidence of the people in their leaders” — which would imply a tacit acceptance of the governed to remain subservient to the ruler even as the ruler strives every day of this world to keep them in the most insulting poverty.

Because that’s all you do, candid ’Liborio’, [a traditional caricature of a middle aged Cuban peasant] every time you attend that clown show, when you report to your polling place to mark with a pencil a bland ballot and as if by naivety or inertia you deposit it in the ballot box guarded by cute pioneers, all in the knowledge that the final count will be inexorably adulterated and that you consented to be part of that pantomime without external observers mounted by the same ruffians who ruin your country.

Now, after several days have passed and the liars have already been going on about the “new victory of the people”, perhaps you will understand once and for all that with these people there is no point in cancelling cards. You will remember that it has always been the same: someone with a nondescript face and an eraser at hand pointed out your name in the register, you signed it and went on to mark — always with a pencil, of course, a card that you cancelled, you remember having written DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP across the whole width of the page — and lo and behold, at the end of the day, as if by magic it still ended up marked with a resounding “yes” by this luminous socialism that has us eating dirt. continue reading

No, Cubans! with this scum there is no room for half-measures: abstaining completely and not making any appearance in the murky tent of their circus is the only thing that can do them any harm under such circumstances; this would be the only way to hinder, in no small measure, their cynical set-up. You must know that as soon as you enter a polling station and sign the register you will have voted “yes” in the dictatorship’s statistics and therefore don’t attend this farce, full stop. They will inflate the figures anyway, yes, most certainly. Would they dare to forge the signature of an absentee voter, perhaps, they are unscrupulous enough for that and more, especially when they feel so unpunishable. But at least let’s not make it easy for them: faced with hundreds or thousands of empty polling stations, they would have to polish it and it would undoubtedly be exponentially more complicated for them to set up their own mess.

Even in the twenty or so countries where voting is compulsory by law, there will always be those who prefer to pay the fine in exchange for their abstention from punishment, but never forget, ’Liborio’, that in Cuba voting is still a right and not an obligation and therefore it is up to no one else but yourself to exercise it; after all, you have little to lose.

That is precisely where the main battle of the dictatorship is fought, where it wins or loses, within ourselves, and by this I am not saying that it is easy, nor as simple as it seems at first glance. Let’s leave naivety for the motivational catharsis of Facebook, for those who push from the outside without having a fucking idea of what it is like to live in the heat of the moment under a totalitarian state. No, no one says it’s easy, but that essential first step, I hope you understand, is the only really essential and necessary one: once you have made the light, believe me, there will be no turning back: you will see how your tormentor grows smaller and smaller, and not because he is less perfidious or less evil, no, but because it will be you who will have grown up and risen with dignity, no longer contemplating him on your knees.

But that miracle does not fall from the sky my friend, that inner rebirth is only achieved after a relentless search for truth and constant inner growth, after a titanic battle waged within yourself, and when the hatching has taken place, once the chakras are aligned with your authentic dignity you will feel emancipated, you will look at fear in its right emotional dimension but without its irrational paralysing capacity and that, at last, will distance you from the lies that have ruled your life.

When you have the courage to defy the informer who dares to pressure you to vote for something you don’t believe in; when you have the personal courage not to give in to the fear that four sons of bitches have planted in your bones; when it becomes morally unacceptable for you to wave flags in a parade and then mumble your grudges alone, or attend a meeting where you know that a delegate will talk shit and then vote on your behalf in parliaments that decide nothing; when it stops being acceptable for you to applaud in the assembly with the same hands that then steal in your company and you get tired of begging for handouts, when that dormant dignity awakens in you and you cry out “enough, Cuba has endured enough humiliation! and you make your family, your friend, your neighbour understand it, on that day and not before, Liborio, we will leave the parades and the dictatorship’s schools empty and we will be screwing the oligarchs who have traded so much with our poverty. That historic rant will be a new July 11 (July 11, 2021, day of protest marches in Cuba) — and hopefully the definitive one — that the Cuban people will explode in the face of Castroism.

Translated by GH


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.