Cuban Government Cancels Global Air Flight Contracted To Repatriate 120 Cubans From Ecuador

Aeroregional is linked with Global Air, which owns the plane which crashed in Cuba in 2018.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 April 2020 – The group of Cubans trying to return to the island from Ecuador still doesn’t know when they will be able to go. The humanitarian flight planned for this Thursday from Quito to Havana was unable to enter Cuban airspace because it was operated by a company linked with Global Air, the owner of the plane which crashed in Cuba in May 2018.

“The aviation authorities of the Republic of Cuba determined that the plane proposed to make the flight was connected with a company involved in the tragic accident which happened in Havana on 18 May 2018, which cost the lives of more than 100 passengers, and for that reason the Cuban aviation authorities have decided not to permit this flight”, announced a communication from the Cuban embassy in Quito.

According to the document, the authorities hope to rearrange the flight with another airline, “including Cubana de Aviacion” and hope to have further information in the next few hours. continue reading

The decision, taken for reasons of security, leaves “up in the air” the return plans of over a hundred Cubans anxious to leave Ecuador, one of the countries hit worst by Covid-19, with 520 official deaths, 902 probables, and 10,398 positives. The numbers might be higher, because the country is overwhelmed by the pandemic and the undertakers can’t cope.

In order to leave Ecuador, the passengers, whose application was accepted, had to pay $480, except for children under two whose tickets cost $100, and who could be paid for from the 18th onwards. Many of those affected complained about the elevated price charged by the airline, especially for a humanitarian flight.

However, the fact that payment had to be made by PayPal makes future refunds easier.

Last April 17th the embassy indicated an agreement for the evacuation of a maximum of 120 people who should have gone Thursday, April 23rd at 9:00 from Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, to Jose Marti in Havana, in a flight operated by Aeroregional, which would return with Ecuadorian citizens stranded on the island. The flight had special  permission, as air space is closed in both countries.

The initial communique specified that Cuban emigrees or those with residence permits in other countries could not take this flight to return to the island.

Aeroregional, based in Ambato, was formed in the mid-90’s, but in June 2018 its owners sold their interest to the main shareholder of Global Air, the Spaniard Manuel Rodriguez Campos, who was named as president of the company at the beginning of last year.

The plane which crashed in Havana on its way to Holguin was owned by Global Air, a company with a long record of failure to comply with safety regulations, and also was prohibited from flying in various areas. A technical report from Cubana de Aviacion advised against hiring any planes from Global Air, but on that occasion they did so, with fatal results.

The families of the victims of the accident, as well as the only survivor, Mailen Diaz Almaguer, have not been financially compensated, although at least there is a hearing pending in Mexico.

Translated by GH

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Jose Daniel Ferrer Released From Prison / Cubalex

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, from before his recent arrest.

CUBALEX, 3 April 2020: The Cuban opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer, coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has been given his freedom along with three other activists who had also been jailed.

Ferrer was locked up October 1st, 2019, and was tried last February 26th, along with the other members of the opposition, Roilán Zárraga Ferrer, José Pupo Chaveco and Fernando González Vaillant.

According to his brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer, UNPACU external representative, his prison sentence of four and a half years was replaced by house arrest.

The opposition leader spent 6 months in prison, following a highly irregular process, in which the Cuban regime violated its own laws. continue reading

March 12th was the date when the Tribunal should have passed sentence on the four members of the opposition. Nevertheless, in contravention of existing laws, the verdict was never made public. During the trial, the Attorney General ratified the recommendation for nine years for the UNPACU leader and seven and eight years for the other activists.

According to statements by Julio Ferrer Tamayo, a lawyer from the independent Cubalex Center for Legal Information, the judges charged with dispensing “justice” in the Ferrer case should be subject to disciplinary proceedings for failure to comply with the date set down for notification of sentence, in accordance with Art. 31 of the Law of Penal Procedure.

A wide international media campaign was mounted to urge the Castro regime to set free the UNPACU coordinator, along with the rest of the political prisoners.

UNPACU also publicised their concern over the condition of their principal leader, and for those Cubans in jail for peaceful political activism. The opposition group demanded the immediate freeing of all political detentions which were part of the extraordinary measures taken by the Cuban regime within the the state of emergency in force throughout the country.

 Translated by GH

Only in Cuba is the Sale of Used Cars News

Independent and foreign press gathered at the site. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 25 February 25, 2020 — At first light you could see the tired yawning faces of the people who had come to form a queue. The start of the sale of used cars for foreign currency has attracted more curious people than purchasers to the shop on 20th Street, between 1st and 3rd, in the Playa district of Havana.

The first person in the line, waiting for them to call the next customers, commented,  “I thought I had come early, but at 5 am there were more than ten people, who, I imagine, turned up last night”. The person behind him was sure that “the best deals will go in the first days, and that’s why people are impatient.”

The wide lot where the cars are parked has a reception area with AC, where there is a list with the prices of each vehicle. What doesn’t appear is the year, or the mileage, or kilometrage, of the car. “If you want to know those details, you have to stand in line and go through the process”, says an employee, through a gap in the door. continue reading

In the air conditioned reception is a list of the vehicles’ prices. (14ymedio)

The independent and foreign press have also come. Lights, cameras … and cars everywhere. Some mock the excessive coverage. “This wouldn’t be news anywhere else but Cuba”, laughs a  passer-by taking his kid to school.

In order to get in, you have to show a credit card charged with real convertible currency. Someone asks if it is also necessary to have a minimum amount on the card, and this leads to some confusion and some consultation. A few minutes later, a man confirms that “If you really want to buy something, you obviously have to have money, but for the assistants, just having some plastic is enough”.

There is an automobile-expertise competition among the onlookers, who observe from far away, and then up close. “None of those cars look more than ten years old; the problem is knowing what their mileage is”, says one of the supposed experts. Another one adds, “And it would be difficult to know because you can clock the mileage and leave it at zero”.

Nearly all the cars on show are grey. Some are small, and some are more like pick up trucks or minivans.

Nearly all the cars are grey. There are small ones, and ones which are more like pick-ups or minivans. Some are covered  in dust, and none of them have licence plates.

Some point to the cheapest models, going for about $34,000, and say they will probably will go quickest, while others consider that it is “better to pay more and get a stronger car”. Nearly everyone in the line are men, although there are some women accompanied by their husbands, and a woman shouting about the trinkets she is selling.

“When they advertised it, I thought it would be for people who import directly”, says a young man who, he makes clear, has come “just to look”. His brother, who lives in Miami, has had a car for five years and wanted to send it, but he says that “there’s no way to get it here.”

Vehicle imports are controlled by state businesses, in particular, the Cimex Corporation, a commercial arm of the military. “That’s why the prices are like that, because they control the whole situation”, is the opinion of one of the customers, summing up the conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of each car.

Most of the people waiting there seem to belong to what most people call “nouveau riche”, or “flashy”. They show off their social status in their clothes, the kind of shoes they wear, they way they show off their knowledge of cars, and, make it clear they do have a credit card with thousands of dollars deposited, in a country in which the average monthly salary is no more that $50.

Halfway through the morning, not one buyer has left with his car. The process of inspection, testing and delivery is long and tedious. “You have to check it out, right down to the spark plugs, because when you leave there’s no way to complain about anything” says a man who boasts about being an auto mechanic, and who is accompanying a friend interested in Peugeots.

Although Chinese Geely cars are cheaper, some people reject them because of their bad reputation, since they have been distributed for years at subsidised prices to the military, and Party bureaucrats and leaders, as well as the police and members of State Security.

Carlos, a young man who has been in the line since about four in the morning, explains it perfectly. “I think I’m gonna go for a Kia for $40,000; although a Geely goes for $5,000 less, it’s a car that gives you a headache to get it fixed, and also my neighbours would think I was with the state security”, he says ironically.

Translated by GH

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Evo Morales Goes to Cuba

Evo Morales was in Cuba two months ago, presumably for the same medical reasons (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Buenos Aires, February 10th, 2020 – the Head of State of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, stated that Evo Morales, ex-president of Bolivia, left Buenos Aires Monday morning, to go to Cuba.

“As I understand it, he was undergoing certain medical treatment, and had to go. He spoke to me a few days ago and made the comment when he was on his way”, Fernandez said to Radio Continental when asked about Morales’ trip to Havana.

The ex-president had arrived in Argentina mid-December, where  he sought refuge, after having been given asylum for a month in Mexico, following his resignation, under duress by the armed forces, on November 10th.

Fernandez emphasised that “as a political refugee, there was nothing to stop him going to Cuba”.

Morales was already on the island at the beginning of December for a medical appointment, when he was in asylum in Mexico, the first country that accepted him when he left Bolivia, and before he left for Argentina. Morales’ departure for Havana was timed some hours after the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that it had concerns about his candidacy to be a senator for Cochabamba, representing his Socialism Movement (MAS) Party.

Additionally, there was concern about the candidacy for president of Luis Arce, from MAS, who had not complied with certain requirements for participation in the elections the following May 3rd.

Translated by GH

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Three Dead and Eight Injured in Another Accident in Santiago de Cuba

The vehicle overturned in Fray Juan, Altos de Titi. (Sierra Maestra)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Havana, February 3rd, 2020 — Three people were killed and another eight injured after a truck that was in use as a makeshift bus crashed on a highway in Santiago de Cuba.

The accident happened last Saturday on a stretch of road near Alto de El Titi, on the Laguna Blanca highway, in the Contramaestre area, according to information published in the official Sierra Maestra newspaper.

The fatalities were two men and a woman of 19, 40, and 44 years of age, and three of the injured were taken to Orlando Panoja de Contramaestre hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The photos published show that the vehicle left the highway, but, up to now, there are no further details. continue reading

It’s only two weeks since the last fatal traffic accident in the same province. On the 20th, two people were killed and another 22 injured when a Kamaz truck turned over, after hitting a Maz-500 truck (both are Russian-made vehicles) travelling in the opposite direction on the Central Highway, between Dos Palmas and Yarayabo.

For the last several years, traffic accidents have been the fifth cause of death in Cuba, where one is reported every 55 minutes, there is a fatality every 15 hours, and an injury every one hour and fifteen minutes, according to a recent report by the Department of Transport.

Major accidents occur with particular frequency in the eastern part of Cuba, where it is normal for trucks to be adapted to carry passengers, owing to the scarcity of public transport.

From January up until the end of October 2019, 7,800 traffic accidents were reported in Cuba, leaving 5,735 injured and 490 dead, according to official data.

Inadequate vehicle maintenance, ignoring rights of way on the road, speeding, and driving under the influence are among the most frequent causes of accidents.

But the high rate of accidents on the highways and on urban streets is also due to the advanced age of the vehicles (most of them are over 20 years old and many of them over 60), and their poor maintenance, often carried out on a DIY basis.

Translated by GH

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 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.

Bolivian Running The Cuban Medical Programme Arrested On Corruption Charges

Carlos de la Rocha was the national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales` government health programme (Red Uno)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 9th 2020 – The Attorney General of Bolivia arrested Carlos de la Rocha, who was national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales´ government health programme, and accused him of corruption,  for alleged “anti-economic” activity, failure to complete duties, and aggravated robbery, as reported in the country´s press.

De la Rocha, a Bolivian national, and doctor by profession, rejects the charges and insists that there are documents which prove he did everything in a legal manner. “I am innocent of all wrongdoing, we always managed the programme and its resources with total transparency. You can see that by examining all the documentation in the Ministry of Health”, the ex-official told the press before being taken off to a detention centre.

The ex-official had made a declaration to the Attorney General, following a summons from that office to clarify what happened to the millions of dollars used by the previous government to finance the Cubans in Bolivia. continue reading

According to his lawyer, Luis Velasco, De la Rocha did what he was supposed to do: “He was appointed by memorandum as coordinator of this programme, he proceeded to administer and manage the funds by way of the approved budget”, he told Eju TV channel.

The Medical College of Bolivia requested an investigation into the funding provided by the government of Evo Morales, an ally of Cuba, for the contracting of doctors from the island. Havana withdrew more than 700 “cooperating aid workers” from the country, following Evo Morales` exit last November.

A little before that, the government in Ecuador had decided to put an end to the presence of Cuban doctors in the public health system, and, a year earlier, following the electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro, Cuba had withdrawn 8,300 doctors who were working in remote parts of Brazil.

“We are discovering the indiscriminate use of government resources, the misuse of public money deposited in private accounts for, supposedly, paying Cubans, when those funds should have been in a fiscal account”, stated the President of the Medical College of La Paz, Luis Larrea.

Larrea accused the Cuban doctors of inflating the statistics of patients treated, and discarding drugs paid for by the Bolivian budget in order to increase purchases of drugs, by the previous government, from the island. He also asserted that Morales discriminated against Bolivian doctors, many of whom were unemployed, while he contracted foreign personnel.

The Bolivian Minister of Health, Aníbal Cruz, revealed that only 205 out of the 702 Cubans stationed in Bolivia had qualifications as doctors. After reviewing the contract papers of the Cuban functionaries, the Jeanine Añez interim government President determined that the majority were technicians or chauffeurs. Nevertheless, they were all charged as doctors.

In over 13 years in government, Evo Morales never revealed the cost of the Cuban squads to the Bolivian treasury.

Cuba’s principal source of income is the sale of medical services. International agencies have criticised Havana for the doctors´employment conditions, under which they receive 25% of what the foreign governments pay for them.

“We don´t have true and complete information about the salaries of the Cuban mission, but what we do know is that the money came from the Health Ministry. They paid $1,040 monthly for each of them.” said the new Minister, Aníbal Cruz.

From its preliminary database, the Ministry of Health calculates that its country paid Cuba $69.4m for the Cuban missions, without taking into account the eye operations promoted by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, which were also carried out by Cuban doctors.

Roxana Lizarraga Vega, Minister of Communications of the Interim Government, said that at least 100 of the Cubans who came to Bolivia as part of the medical teams were in fact intelligence agents.

The La Paz police entered three Cuban medical team “safe houses”, where they found electrical circuits, security cameras, a hidden safe room, a safe, and various documents which are  being studied by the Attorney’s office.

 Translated by GH

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

I Have No Confidence in the Cuban Constitution / Cubalex, Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo

Cubalex, Lic. Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo, 13 November 2019  — Unfortunately, in the Cuban legal context, there is no Constitutional Tribunal, or, to put it another way, there are no constitutional guarantees. Along with many lawyers, non-lawyers, and legislators as well, I was hoping for a change. Along with other colleagues, I had confidence in the national constitutional tradition, and especially in the milestone represented by the Constitution of 1940, recognised as the most advanced in Latin America, for its time;  nevertheless, it didn´t work out like that. Everybody, whether they voted yes or no, continues with no constitutional guarantees.

In order to be implemented, the new text, in force since April 10th, 2019, needs legislation, which hasn’t yet been prepared, and requires various time periods in which to do it. This gap has given rise to what many have called the “legislative gap”, or “legal limbo”, which is simply a period of legal system paralysis, while waiting for the legislation to be passed. At the moment, the Constitution remains an undelivered message.

To sum up, we Cubans have to wait six months for the new Electoral Law regulating election of representatives to the National Assembly, its President, Vice President, and Secretary; as well as the Council of State, and the President and Vice President of the Republic. And this is going to be delayed even further by other processes. For example, the regulations for the National Assembly will be delayed a year, and two years for the Council of Ministers, the provincial and municipal governments, and their administrative councillors. continue reading

The enactment of the law on Popular Tribunals is eighteen months away, as are also the modifications to the Laws on Penal, Civil, Administrative, Employment and Economic Procedures, and also the legislative modifications needed to effect Art. 99 of the new constitution.

As far as the Family Code is concerned, which is the window which still holds out the prospect of a marriage of equals, there are still 24 months before the start of the popular consultation process and the relevant referendum.

“The most completed and advanced of the Cuban constitutional texts”, which is what Homer Acosta Alvarez, the Secretary of the Council of State, has termed the new Constitution, will be applied bit by bit, because it needs, according to Homer himself, no fewer than 50 items of legislation. And, really, it is difficult to be optimistic about it.

The legislation which backed up the 1976 Constitution was not a happy memory. We can recall the Law on Migration (it dealt with the right to leave the country with an exit permit, a carte blanche, authorised by the Ministry of the Interior), or the Law on Association, and its Regulations (it conditioned the right of association upon prior permission of the Ministry of Justice).

We can think of other equally disastrous legislation, such as Order 149 (which violated the right oto personal property enshrined in Art. 21 of the said Constitution. And also Decree 217 of 1997 (imposed innumerable legal requirements on Cuban citizens of other provinces wanting to reside permanently in Havana).

What we can learn from such legislation is that they are a double-edged sword, holding back and restricting rights proclaimed in the text of the constitution, preventing citizens from exercising them.

Will it be the same this time around? I think so. We Cubans need to be very watchful over this legislation, because they will have been enacted without prior popular consultation, and therefore people will not be able to influence the contents, in spite of the democratic process they have been boasting about.

We remember that Art. 26 of the old Constitution recognised the right of every individual who suffers loss or is prejudiced by inappropriate action by officials or agents. Later, this right was restricted by Section 2 of Art. 96 of the Civil Code, which subordinated its exercise and implementation to declarations of illegality on the part of the superior state authorities. That is to say, if the superior state authority thinks it is not in the state’s interests, there will be no compensation, or indemnification, or any constitutional rights worth a bean.

This right, with identical wording, is anticipated in Art. 98 of the new Law of Laws. It remains to be seen if the regulations which are to enact this constitutional precept, let’s call it Civil Code, will set up a legal mandate of subordinate status, constraining the right to compensation and indemnification for damages improperly caused by state authorities.

If the new Constitution had conceived of a Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees or other similar entity with the authority and structure necessary to protect the constitution, then those persons who had seen their rights infringed would have had an organisation to go to in order to defend the constitutional position. That organ would be a defensive wall against arbitrary action.

Translated by GH

Is What Happened After Jose Daniel Ferrer’s Detention The Exception Or The Rule?

Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Cuban opposition organization UNPACU

Eloy Viera, from El Toque, published by Cubalex, 19 November 2019 — On October 1st, 2019, Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the opposition organisation Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU, by its initials in Spanish), was detained by the Cuban police in his home. His family stated that, for a period of several days, they were unable to verify his whereabouts or physical condition.

On October 29th, the United Nations Committee Against Forced Disappearance issued a “request for urgent action” to the Cuban government, asking for, among other things:

To clarify immediately what has happened to Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, and where he is.

To inform his family members and representatives … what has happened and where he is, and … permit his family and representatives to make immediate contact with him. continue reading

In the event of his precise location being unknown, to take all necessary actions to clarify where he is and what has happened to him … including the adoption of a comprehensive and exhaustive strategy to find him and to investigate his alleged disappearance.

If his detention is confirmed, to bring Mr Ferrer Garcia immediately before a judge, having informed him precisely of what crimes he is accused, and affording him access to a lawyer.

The United Nations Committee’s pronouncement is based upon the Convention relating to the Protection of Persons against Forced Disappearance. Cuba signed and ratified the Convention in the years 2007 and 2009 respectively, as a result of which, in accordance with International Law, it has assumed the expectations and obligations of that legislation.

According to the Convention, “the arrest, detention, kidnapping, or any other form of deprivation of liberty, whether resulting from the activities of agents of the state, or those acting with the authorisation, support, or acquiescence of the state, accompanied by a failure to recognise said deprivation of liberty or the concealment of the situation or whereabouts of the disappeared person, depriving him of the protection of the law”, is a forced disappearance.

ON WHAT BASIS CAN THE COMMITTEE AGAINST FORCED DISAPPEARANCE ASSUME THAT THE CASE OF JOSE DANIEL FERRER MAY CONSTITUTE A FORCED DISAPPEARANCE?

The legal instrument intended to protect the individual against forced disappearance and arbitrary detention is habeas corpus.

 Habeas corpus in its classical sense provides a direct form of protection for the individual in terms of personal liberty and physical condition.  In order to be able to confirm that a person has benefitted from a habeas corpus process which meets international standards, it is essential that the person detained be presented before a judge as quickly as possible.

Habeas corpus does not just permit the assessment of the legality of a detention or disappearance, but also serves as an instrument by which an impartial entity (a judge) may consider whether the authorities, or those appointed by the state, have respected the individual’s life and physical condition. The physical appearance before a judge of the detainee prevents the location of the detention being kept secret, and protects him against torture or other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment.

After more than 15 days’ detention, Jose Daniel Ferrer’s family members claimed that they did not know where he was being held, his physical conditions and the crime of which he was accused. For this reason, they lodged an application for habeas corpus before the Popular Provincial Tribunal of Santiago de Cuba.

They hoped to obtain the support which “theoretically” is offered by Cuban law in such situations, as set out in the currently applicable regulations which acknowledge that a judge who is in receipt of such an application may:

Order the authority, or official, having charge of the detainee, to present him, at the time and date specified, before the Tribunal, within a space of 72 hours.

Require the same authority, or official, to provide a written report indicating when and why he was detained.

If the judge is informed that the person in question is not being detained by that authority, he may require anew that it be clarified whether, at any time, he was so detained, and whether he was transferred to another authority or official, indicating their identity.

On presentation of the detainee and the report, he may arrange an oral hearing in order to hear the interested parties and assess the evidence presented. Following this hearing, the judge is in a position to take an informed decision, which may or may not lead to the freeing of the detainee.

Nevertheless, the application presented was responded to by way of Order 39, dated October 18th, 2019, in which the judges declared that the application for habeas corpus had no merit.

The judges, without having undertaken any of the aforementioned procedures, considered that “the application has no merit” because Ferrer is being processed by way of a Preparatory Phase Action initiated on October 3rd, 2019, covered by an Act of Detention, dated the first of the said month. Moreover, they considered that his detention is in response to A Precautionary Measure of Pre-trial Detention issued by a prosecutor on October 7th, 2019.

The unofficial versions of the announcements, which were circulated afterwards by the Committee on Forced Disappearances, and the campaign in favour of the release of Jose Daniel, as well as the nuances which were introduced, do not detract from any of those arguments.

So, in the absence of any official written pronouncement to clarify the current situation of the leader of UNPACU, the assumptions of the Committee Against Forced Disappearances are not unfounded.

IS WHAT HAS HAPPENED WITH THE HABEAS CORPUS OF JOSÉ DANIEL FERRER THE EXCEPTION, OR THE RULE?

The report issued in Cuba on the Periodic Assessment of Human Rights (by the United Nations) in 2018, stated that “there is an immediate right of application for habeas corpus to challenge the illegality of deprivation of liberty and detentions … between 2010 and June, 2017, the tribunals considered 156 applications for habeas corpus. In 8 of them it was agreed the application had merit and the detainee was immediately released”.

These numbers, rather than demonstrating the ethics of the Cuban authorities, and the absence of arbitrary detentions or forced disappearances, evidence the inefficiency of Cuban habeas corpus and its resultant lack of use by legal professionals.

Because of the design of juridical regulations in Cuba, it cannot be considered that “judicial supervision”, which is essential in habeas corpus, is a guarantee for those deprived of liberty or who are detained. In Cuba, the supervision of the legitimacy and legality of such situations is not in the hands of a judge, but rather in those of the party with the principal obligation of investigating crime and representing the state in achieving a judgement: the prosecutor.

The decision proffered by the Provincial Popular Tribunal of Santiago de Cuba in response to the habeas corpus application presented in favour of José Daniel Ferrer, demonstrates this. What the judges did, and do, in this , and in the majority of these cases, is deny the person affected the opportunity of an “impartial” tribunal to assess the reasons for his detention, the circumstances in which it arose, and its legality.

The Cuban regulations consider that all acts of the police and instructions approved by the prosecution are legal, and do not need to be supervised or evaluated by the tribunals. Art. 467 of the Law of Penal Procedure establishes that: “applications for writs of habeas corpus shall not proceed in cases in which the deprivation of liberty results from a sentence or order of pre-trial detention in respect of a criminal act.

That provision allows judges not to analyse the application presented in favour of José Daniel Ferrer, and so, not to require his presentation before them, not to mention the crime of which he is accused, and not to assess his personal circumstances or to define his place of detention.

It would have been good if the judges, rather than hold that the application “had no merit” had expressed what really had happened: that they were unable to decide whether or not the interested party was right. They took advantage of the ability granted them by law and did not seek to establish the details or to evaluate the arbitrariness of a detention which has been described as politically motivated.

If they had done the opposite, then probably the Committee Against Forced Disappearances would not have needed to present its petition for urgent action. Nevertheless, the way most of the Cuban penal process is designed, including that of applications for habeas corpus, detached from international standards of due process, will ensure that there is much to occupy the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Working Group.

ESTABLISHED LEGAL PROCESS FOR POLICE DETENTION OF AN INDIVIDUAL

The police are aware of a crime, or capture someone in the course of its commission. For this reason, they may detain for 24 hours.

In order to justify the detention, there needs to be a formal report, or it should be prepared immediately afterward.

Following the detention, and once the suspect is in police custody, an Act of Detention should be prepared.

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In the case of offences attracting an award of more than 12 months´  loss of liberty, then, following the 24 hours, if the police decide to continue the detention, the matter must be reported to the instructing body, for the preparation of an Initial Hearing Report.

In the case of offences attracting an award of up to 12 months´  loss of liberty, the police have 72 hours in which to determine the detention and the investigation, and to report to the prosecutor in the event of wishing to extend it.

In the case of offences attracting an award of more than 12 months´  loss of liberty: following preparation of the Initial Hearing Report, a furtheR 72 hour period is available for the determination regarding the release of the detainee.

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If the decision is to continue the detention of the accused beyond the 72 hour period, the Attorney´s office should be requested to validate such decision.

The Attorney´s office has a further 72 hours to decide such application.

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INITIAL 24 HOURS (POLICE) + 72 HOURS (INSTRUCTION) + 72 HOURS (ATTORNEY) = 7 DAYS DETENTION WITHOUT CONTROL OR SUPERVISION BY IMPARTIAL ENTITIES, AND WITHOUT POSSIBILITY OF DEFENCE

Translated by GH

Executive Order 389/19: Big Brother is Watching You in Cuba / Cubalex

Cuban authorities arrest a Cuban human rights activist from the Ladies in White

CUBALEX, 10 December 2019  — Tapping phone lines, using electronic devices to follow you around, planting cameras, monitoring mail and personal conversations, taking video recordings without permission; these have been the Cuban regime´s habitual practices. Up to now it was all done arbitrarily and illegally, but last month they approved “the use of electronic surveillance” without need for previous judicial authorisation.

Executive Order 389  of the  Council of State, signed by the head of state Miguel Diaz-Canel and published in the Extraordinary Official Gazette No. 27 of November 18th, evisages its application in investigations into “money laundering offences, and financing of terrorism, in defence of national interests”. In the same way, the text indicates it may be employed to “prevent the use of national territory for these ends”.

But in the Cuban context it can be assumed that those affected will be members of the opposition and organisations in civil society. continue reading

Cubalex explains the implications of Executive Order 389/19 for Cuban citizens.

“Electronic, and other types of surveillance” v. the right to privacy and a private life

The Order 389/19 modifies the Law of Penal Procedure and authorises legal investigation agencies to use electronic and other types of surveillance, with the prosecutor’s approval.

They are defined as “use of media whose application enables listening to and recording voices, localising and following around, placing cameras and shooting images, monitoring any type of communications, accessing computerised systems and other technical resources which enable the identification and evidencing of criminal acts”.

An important element of this type of surveillance, which is not mentioned in the Order is that it enables the authorities to monitor a person´s actions without their knowledge or consent.

Tapping into any kind of communications will give the green light to the use of monitoring software (otherwise known as “spyware”) which may be installed in any kind of computer, tablet, or smartphone to secretly monitor its use without the user knowing.

The “spyware” would allow an abuser to have access to everything in the phone, as well as the abillity to intercept calls and listen in to them. Therefore, the authorities could be able to access our social media or email.

How would DL-389/19 affect our tight to privacy and a private life?

According to the United Nations Office Manual on Drugs and Special Investigation Methods, these should be authorised by a competent legal authority, and carried out in the most discrete and confidential manner.

Does the public prosecutor have this jurisdictional authority? Internationally, public prosecutors are not considered to be officials excercising judicial functions. The correct operation of the judicial function requires that those exercising it be independent, objective, and impartial in relation to the matters they deal with.

The impartiality required of the District Attorney’s office derives from the legailty of the tribunals and is independent of either the positions taken by the parties concerned or of the authority charged with instructing or undertaking judgement.

The fact that the Attorney’s office prosecutes the action as the representative of the state and is a part of the penal process makes clear that it is an inappropriate instituition to be given the ability to authorise particular investigation methods.

These methods would be employed by the Attorney prior to the oral hearing, in the absence of any supervision or judicial control. The criminal investigations are  presented  to the judicial entity on the conclusion of the investigative process. This stage may legally be delayed for up to 60 days, a term which may be drawn out by the Attorney without limit as to time.

The total absence of judicial supervision increases the amount of discretion available to the agents of the state during the preparatory stage of the case and permits arbitrariness in the use of those methods, especially in relation to the individual’s privacy and private life, at a time when the strictest caution and discretion should be being exercised.

Nor do we have effective legal appeals. The Law of Legal Proceedings authorises the presentation of complaints to the Investigating Judge in relation to his decisions, or in relation to those of the Prosecutor, which may cause irreperable damage. The appeal is handled by the Attorney, or his superior in the event of the Attorney having authored the decision in question. In the case of the special investigation methods, the Attorney is both judge and jury. Additionally, his decision may not be subject to judicial review.

Therefore, how can we protect ourselves against abusive and arbitrary invasions of our privacy? The absence of judicial supervision and adequate legal appeal  renders illusory the right recognised by Art. 92 of the Constitution: “The State guarantees, in conformity with the law, that the individual may enjoy access to judicial entities with a view to obtaining effective judicial protection of his rights and legitimate interests…”

DL-389/19 does not confer exceptional status on special methods, and also permits them to be employed before the obtaining of the Attorney´s approval, and to be included in the record of the preparatory stage, after having obtained the evidentiary documentation on the alleged crime.

Another aspect open to question is the legitimacy and validity of this executive order, passed by 3.47% of the national deputies “elected” by the “people”. Its adoption violates basic principles of the structure and operation of the domestic legal code. Without doubt, the Council of State is exceeding its remit. It modified laws passed by the National Assembly, a “supposedly” superior body.

DL-389/19: Strengthens the domestic legal code, or increases the discretion of the agents of the government?

“To strengthen the internal penal code, in relation to that which is enacted in international treaties in force in the country”, indicates the Council of State in Executive Order 389 (DL-389/19) to justify its adoption.

Once it ratifies a treaty, the state is obliged to adopt legislative and other measures, to guarantee its application in domestic law. I certainly recognise, although not without some concern, that the state attempts to juggle its  own legislation with its international obligations.

The problem arises on the adoption of a regulation which is incompatible with other obligations derived from other treaties, undertakings and mandatory rules which admit of no conflicting agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Many people will say that the UDHR does not have binding force because it was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Nowadays no-one argues against its obligatory nature, and it is widely accepted by the General Assembly and other human rights entities as a model against which to measure countries’ conduct and practices.

The United Nations Office against drugs and crime issued a manual on Special Investigation Methods, in which it sets out certain principles in relation to their use. According to the documents, such methods must be carried out in a way which shows respect for the state constitution, accords, international treaties currently in force, laws, and other regulations.

In conclusion, no oregan of the state may adopt regulations or legal provisions which are incompatible with international obligations. Executive Order 389/19 has the capacity to violate internationally protected human rights, especially the right to privacy and a private life.

It also violates rights recognised in the constitution:

– 48: “Every person has the right to have his privacy and private life respected.”

– 49: “The home is inviolable. No-one may enter another person’s home without the permission of the person living there, other than by express order of the relevent authority, by way of correct legal forms and for reasons already defined by law.”

– 50: “Correspondence and other forms of communication between individuals are inviolable. They may only be intercepted or registered by way of the express order of the relevant authority, in all cases with reference to the formalities established by law. Documents or information obtained  by way of infraction of this principle may not constitute evidence in any proceeding.”

Translated by GH

United Nations Acknowledges Freedom of Speech Crisis in Cuba / Cubalex

A group of Cuban independent journalists and activists all stopped at the airport on the same day in October of this year, and prevented from leaving the country. (Inalkis Rodríguez / La Hora de Cuba)

Cubalex, 10 November 2019 — Cuba and Venezuela  were flagged up by the United Nations as the countries in the region with the worst indicators in regard to promotion and protection of freedom of speech.

For years, both countries have been evidencing a crisis in freedom of speech, according to the UN special rapporteur.

The suppression of independent communicators and political activists has increased in the last year on the island. There have been 54 aggressions against unofficial reporters, 11 of which were women, as reported to th Association for Press Freedom (APLP) as of June 2019. continue reading

As a part of these aggressions, the reporters are intimidated, have their homes observed, their houses broken into, they are confronted in the street, and have their means of work confiscated. They are also arbitrarily detained by state security, normally for hours or days on end.  In late March, the journalist Roberto Quinones was detained, and they took action against him, resulting in his being locked up for a year.

This case was denounced by independent Cuban organisations and media. The  conviction of this Cuban journalist has been included in OneFreePress’s list of the ten most serious cases of injustice against journalists, and Amnesty International named him as “prisoner of conscience.”

On top of all these measures, there is refusal of permission to leave the country for random periods. This year, nearly 200 Cuban citizens have complained of their “regulated” status.

Another coercive measure against free speech is contained in Cuba’s own legal code. Law 88, better known as the “gagging law” threatens decades of imprisonment for those who contravene it.

Law 88 decrees the suppression of private reporting if it tries “to subvert the internal order of the state and destroy its political, economic and social system.” The last time this repressive measure was applied was during the Black Spring in 2003. At that time 75 people were locked up, and nearly a third were reporters.

Last May, the president of the Supreme Popular Tribunal, Ruben Remigio Ferro, reported on his Twitter account that the gagging law remains in force and could be applied again in the country.

First published in Cubalex.

Translated by GH

This Is How Female Journalists Are Suppressed In Cuba / Cubalex

Larisa Diversent, a founder of Cubalex who was forced to leave Cuba under threats to herself and her family. Photo: Tracey Eaton

Cubalex, 1 November 2019 — One day before the 1st of May march in Havana, the reporter from the independent daily 14ymedio, Luz Escobar, was confronted by a State Security official to stop her attending the workers’ procession. The agent of the Cuba political police warned her she could be detained if she went to the Plaza of the Revolution

She had received similar threats the day before a “kiss-in” organised by LGTBI+ groups in support of same-sex marriage, and, on the morning of April 7th, when an animal rights march was organised in the capital.

Luz managed to report both of these events without the threats coming to anything, but in the afternoon of May 8th she was arrested by the national police. From a homeless refuge in Boyeros, where they found her, she was taken in an official car to the military base. Five hours later they let her go. continue reading

Later in that month, on May 22nd, they prevented Escobar from flying to Washington to take part in Independent Art and Journalism workshops, organised by the Cuban Soul Foundation. In the Jose Marti international airport, she was informed by the immigration officials that she couldn’t travel because she was subject to an investigation. As of today they are continuing to prohibit her from leaving.

These attacks on the 14ymedio reporter took place in the context of a wave of repression mounted against the independent press in recent months in Cuba. Up to June 2019, the APLP (Asociacion Pro Libertad de Prensa – Association for Freedom of the Press) has received 54 reports of aggression against independent reporters, 11 of them women. And they have blocked access to three new unofficial press media.

As part of these aggressions, the reporters are intimidated, their houses broken into, their homes kept under observation, they are pestered while walking down the street, and their means of work seized. Another usual harassment tactic in most cases is arbitrary detention for several hours. Although, at the end of March, the Cubanet reporter Roberto Quinones, passed five days in prison in the east of the country, for trying to cover the imprisonment of two pastors who wanted to educated their children at home. Resulting from this detention, today Quinones has completed a year of being locked up accused of resistence and disobedience.

As well as this coercion, they add in prohibitions on leaving the country for random periods of time. At least 196 Cubans have protested against their status as “regulated persons” up to the end of September. This is the category used by the government to limit the mobility of specific individuals after eliminating the white card, or exit visa, in 2013.

The reporters are a group who are most restricted in their movements. In June, for example, the journalists Ileana Colas and Maricel Napoles were not allowed to travel to take part in the General Assembly of the OEA (Organisation of American States). At Havana Airport they were told that they were “regulated persons.” Now, 60% of the reporters subject to these restrictions are women, according to APLP information.

The Cuba Regional Vice President of the SIP (InterAmerican Press Society) Commision for Freedom of the Press and Information, Henry Constantin, in his penultimate report, pointed out that, although it is men who are detained most frequently and for longest, it is the women who are sanctioned  for longest, especially those with children: “Karina Galvez — economic analyst and member of the editorial council of the Convivencia magazine — is serving a sentence of three years for a trumped-up charge, which forbids her to leave her town and requires her to carry out humiliating work in order to not be sent to jail,” states Constantin.

These intimidations of reporters, in the midst of a society which is beginning to get computerised, also happens in the digital sphere. Several independent communicators are victims of different defamatory cyber campaigns. In the month of June, the director of 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, denounced hate and misogynous messages from public officials in the social media.

Independent female journalists on the island suffer distinct types of gender-related violence which men are generally not subject to. Female reporters, for example, have denounced sexual harrassment and compulsory stripping and having to squat down in the middle of the interrogations. They have also suffered mistreatment in their homes at the hands of State Security collaborators, with offensive notices stuck on the outside of their houses.

The main threats against them focus on their families, especially their young children. Dismissing their security guard or care arrangements, depriving them of their liberty, are the most frequent.

Adriana Zamora, a journalist with Diario de Cuba, received threats against her life and that of her baby while she was pregnant. Now she is in exile, a decision which at least 7 journalists monitored by Cubalex have been forced to take this year. Another 3 are inactive.

Elderly family members, or those in poor health who are dependent on medical assistance are also on the receiving end of threats. Those who are mothers or carers are vulnerable.

Translated by GH

Is Education Free in Cuba? / Cubalex

Cuban schoolchildren during the ceremony where they take on the red scarf. (14ymedio)

Cubalex, 30 September 2019 — Last April 18th, in the city of Guantanamo, pastors Ramón Rigal  and Ayda Expósito received a citation from the municipal tribunal. On that day they started a summary process against them, which ended up with jail sentences of 2 years, and a year and a half, for “actions against the normal development of a minor”.

The Christian leaders, who belonged to the Iglesia de Dios in Cuba, had decided to provide home education to their children Ruth and Joel, aged 13 and 9 respectively. They adopted “the certified methodology of the Hebron College of Guatemala study plan,” according to the Liga Evangelica.

In the legal action against the pastors, the prosecutor indicated that “home education is not permitted in Cuba, because it has a capitalist basis” and that only teachers have the ability to “inculcate socialist values.” continue reading

For their part, the parents expressed their right to decide what type of education thier children should receive, as laid down by Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In spite of the fact that the island is signatory to the Declaration, the country is solely able to conceive of state schools providing secular education.

“Numerous religious groups, including the Catholic church, have repeatedly brought up the lack of options in Cuba in respect of primary and secondary education, especially for parents who do not want their children to be educated in an aggressively atheist curriculum, according to Anna-Lee Stangl, Head of the Christian Solidarity Defence Union.

The Cuban state guarantees a free and accessible education, but does not allow parents or legal tutors to choose other programmes for children. Students may not receive a religious or moral education in accord with family beliefs in study centres.

Individuals are not at liberty to run educational institutions or other options which do not provide a secular programme. Education is the sole prerogative of the state, which imposes on parents the duty of educating their children in moral, ethical and civic values in conformity with life in a socialist country.

More than that, the teaching is based on precepts promoting ethical, moral, civic and patriotic values, including military preparation, which is in conflict with the moral and religious convictions  of some social groups.

Translated by GH

The ‘Indigenas’ Beat Ecuador’s President in a Battle Without Winners

Moreno preferred to blame the Correistas rather than the indígenas for the acts of violence (EFE/Jose Jacome)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías L. Benarroch /Daniela Brik, Quito, 15th October, 2019 — The “indigenous spectre” has beaten Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and forced him to repeal the controversial decree that raised the price of fuel, putting him and Ecuador between a rock and a hard place with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Decree 883 will be remembered by many Ecuadorians as the decree which led to the worst bout of social violence in recent years, a situation which many people think could have been forseen, and could have led to a total institutional collapse.

The eleven days of protests didn’t produce any winners on the battlefield, and in fact it seems there are only losers. continue reading

“It may be that the central actors in this conflict each underestimated the other side’s ability to act”, commented Efe’s analyst Daniel Kersffeld [an Argentinian left wing writer for Spanish news agency] the day after the principal parties reached an agreement to revise the whole government strategy in the face of the financial agency.

For Kersffeld, the government didn’t think that the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) could pull together more than 20,000 indígenas, nor that they would have enough strength to organise such a long strike, and the capacity to act simultaneously over all the country.

“The indigenous movement, also underestimated the government’s ability to respond: the level of repression in the last few days is unprecedented in the history of a country wracked by repeated social convulsions”, he said.

In his opinion, the agreement was a response to both parties beginning to show “signs of weakening and growing condemnation on the part of those interests which chose to keep themselves outside the conflict”.

The destruction and losses occasioned by the shutdown — the indígenas closed the principal highways, causing shortages — and the high number of victims of police repression of the protests — between five and seven deaths, and a thousand people injured — are not the only damages.

An official told Efe on Monday, without wanting to be identified, that “the social fabric had also been undermined” and it remains to be seen how the wounds left by this conflict may be healed.

Wounds which also are rooted in the old battle between morenistas and correistas, the two big political blocs headed by President Moreno and his predecessor Rafael Correa, because stretching beyond the price of fuel, the revolt has been a mixture of interests

“The connection between the indígenas and the violent demonstrators is not real. The others have ridden on the back of the indígenas protest, relating to recognition of specifically economic issues, causing chaos”, Jose Valencia, the Foreign Minister, explained to Efe.

In spite of the fact that they also took part in acts of looting and vandalism, the government has exonerated the indigenous movement from any responsibility, and laid all the blame for the violence on correismo.

“The government could not open two fronts, like the correistas, but the indígenas are more manipulative than the others, and manipulated human rights organisations, and even international media, who made them look like poor victims”, says political scientist Santiago Basabe, talking to Efe.

He remembered the fanatical speeches by their leaders throughout the protest, in which they called Moreno “the cripple” because he was in a wheelchair.

He also explained that it is not “politically correct” to blame the indígenas because that immediately triggers accusations of “racism”.

In weighing up the winners and losers, Basabe sees “more cohesiveness” in the indigenous movement, which “has become an important factor, as it was before correismo”, but he thinks that it has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the mestizos, who did not approve” of their violent actions and paralysing the country.

Kersffeld also thinks that Conaie has gained importance as a “resistance actor”, but  not a political force capable of directly bending the wishes of the government”. “The legitimacy of their protest lies in their historic position of misery and backwardness, in political and social stigma”, he considers.

Both think that the correismo has lost force as the target of the accusations and above all that the government looks very weakened now and incapable of moving forward on reforms in order to continue receiving help from the IMF.

“Moreno finds himself seriously weakened and his principal political team members severely challenged by a good part of public opinion”, says Kersffeld.

For his part, Basabe thinks it will be difficult in the conditions created for the government to have anything to offer to satisfy the IMF’s demand for cutbacks and increased tax income, because it will be unable to progress on fiscal reform and even less on labour reform.

In those circumstances, the promised loans may be denied, which would be a severe blow to the national fiscal situation.

“Moreno has been left floating in the air, hoping that, with the passage of time, perhaps he will be able to undertake relevant measures, small loans here and there”, thinks the political scientist, who considers that the whole society has gained from the accord because the outcome could have been worse: a complete national institutional destruction.

This Monday, the country is trying to return to normality. The measures taken in the State of Emergency decreed last week, like the curfew and the militarisation of the Metropolitan District of Quito and the valleys, are de facto cancelled, according to government Defence sources, following the agreement on Sunday between the indigenous leaders and the government.

But the people did not wait for an official announcement, and, from early morning, the Ecuadorians hit the streets, especially in the capital, Quito. The city slowly recovered its routine, with the opening up of the streets, the resumption of public and private transport, the resulting traffic jams, also the restocking of the markets and supermarkets, follwing a Sunday in which there began to be shortages of basics like bread, milk and eggs.

School classes, which were interrupted from October 3rd, when the so-called national strike started, with resulting fierce confrontations, started up again this Tuesday, announced the Ministry of Education.

As another sign of return to normality, we saw the progressive restarting of flights from Quito airport, the resumption of operations in the Amazonian oilfields, and in the services from the 62 bus stations throughout the country.

Hundreds of people took part yesterday in efforts to clean up, remove rubble and clear away paving stones in the centre of Quito, as a voluntary and municipal operation.

Andres Ordonez, an agent of the Metropolitan Transport Agency in the capital, explained that more than 300 officers participated in this project, along with hundreds of students.

“They are working out the extent of the damage, but up to last Thursday, losses added up to about 100,000 million dollars”, he said.

Translated by GH

Editor’s note: The translator of this article is an Ecuadorian and has appended the following note, which we include here in recognition of the fact that “translators are sometimes allowed to express their perspectives, particularly when they are unpaid volunteers.” (!)

Translator’s note: Readers should be aware that there is some imbalance in this article in that it makes no reference to the comments of many Ecuadorians glued to the television every day watching the unfolding tragedy, who considered that this was an attempt by correistas to destabilise the government, in league with Maduro in Venezuela, possibly aided by the FARC, and that some of the indigenous leaders were indeed correistas themselves. The translator does not assert this view, he simply reports it.

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

Canadian and American Diplomats Wiped Out by Secret Mosquito Fumigation Brigade

A fumigation team in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Conde Zika Dengue, Miami, September 22nd, 2019 — The media continue their fable about what have been called “sonic” or “acoustic” attacks. This time with the version of a group of Canadian scientists  who apparently have discovered an efficiently operating secret  team of exterminators working for the Cuban intelligence, employed in the area where the Canadian and North American diplomats in Havana live.

The new script of the sonic attack saga makes out that the diplomats were, in fact, affected by the dilligent activities of a team of undercover ninjas protecting them from mosquito bites. The mission was carried out with such perseverance and care that they overdid the dosage of pesticide used in their mission to protect the diplomatic corps.

It is noteworthy that the rest of the diplomatic corps stationed in the country did not suffer from the ninjas’ excessive care, nor did the 11 million Cubans living on the island. The mission was so successful that the protagonists were rewarded with an international assignment to China to continue their protection activities. They were also successful on that occasion, as they managed to wind up more than a dozen US diplomats, utilising such sophisticated and intriguing methods that they avoided  being discovered. continue reading

The US diplomats stationed in Beijing, after being supposedly fumigated against Carribean mosquitos, complained of symptoms similar to those presented by their colleagues in Havana. Doubtless, this was the decisive evidence which guaranteed the high praise awarded by Havana to their valiant and efficient fumigator ninjas. They were all awared the “Silver Mosquito” medal, presented in person by the head of the National Security Commission, better known as the One-eyed Dumbass, having unfortunately lost an eye playing quimbumbia  (a kind of Cuban bat-and-ball game, where the ball is cigar-shaped, and whoever hits it furthest wins).

Without doubt, the medals were deserved. The “study” arranged by donors and supporters of a team of multidisciplinary  investigators in Halifax, associated with the Brain Repair Centre, the University of Dalhiousie, and the Health Authority in Nova Scotia, was more creative than was expected by the passive Cuban scientists, who held to the simplistic siren song explanation of the causes of the previously inexplicable sonic attacks.

The crazy Canadian explanation, concocted by foreigners with more sophistication than the grotesque account of the brave Cuban scientists, nevertheless made a real mess-up in leaving out the 11 million possible guinea pigs who, for decades, and in all the cities in Cuba, have been subject to energetic fumigation campaigns against the nasty  aedes aegypti mosquitowhich has resulted today in the majority of the country’s hospitals being packed out with patients.

But, the surprising thing is that if the fumigation affected the diplomats’ brains, the effect on the fumigated Cubans was to make them emigrate. The little rafts are no longer sufficient for crossing the Straits of Florida. The funniest thing is that the migratory epidemic caused by the said fumigations not only affects the young people who feel they have no future on the accursed island. It has also affected kids and old people who have preferred to flee rather than continue to be fumigated. Ironically it was the mosquitos who decided to stay and now live everywhere.

Meanwhile, the top brass of the Cuban Communist Party octogenarian ayatollahs have been summoned by the current president to review the sophisticated and successful fumigation processes, to try to avoid any further damage. One thing is for certain, that the days are numbered for the total hash cooked up by the people directed by the One-eyed Dumbass, along with their “Silver Mosquito” trophy as well.

Translated by GH

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

Letter From a Cuban Citizen to Diaz-Canel / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Source AFP

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 31 July 2019 — No, Mister Administrator, Cuba does not need to make peace with the United States in order to move forward, because this country’s future cannot be dependent on its relations with any foreign government, but on maintaining flexible and interactive relations with the largest possible number of commercial partners, with a dynamic economy truly open to the world, and with independent politics, as befits an archipelago, without any subordination or blackmail.

Perhaps when I say that, there are, in your subconscience, reverberations of long decades of absolute dependence on foreign economies — today called Venezuelan Chavomadurism, and yesterday Soviet Stalinism — and during that time the natural vassalage of the Havana regime was tied to an uninterrupted line of parasitism, without which the Cuban construct would have collapsed in just a few years, buried under the undeniable mediocrity of its architect in chief.

Nevertheless, Mister, in spite of everything, Cuba does not need the dictatorship you lead to normalise its relations with the United States. Cuba only requires, and very urgently, that those people, who so brutally misrule it, decide to normalise its relations with its own people. And to do that it isn’t necessary to look to the north for agreements with Washington, or down south to grab oil from Caracas, or to Mao in the far west, or to the new Czars of the post-Perestroika east. Just look to Cuba, to get out of the abyss, and enjoy a proper rule of law. continue reading

In a proper rule of law, Cubans could get together in different parties which, with their different points of view, would propose different ways out of the dreadful  problems created by of the ankylosis of the ancient octogenarians, and could set up a proper basis for a participative democracy. This would produce a thriving civil society which would oblige the government to properly account for its acts, not like now, where it is judge and jury. But, seeing as this is hardly likely to happen, I would like to offer you here, Mister Administrator, another way out which, as you will see, does not involve the resignation of the government, but only improvement in the standard of life of my people.

To achieve that, all that would have to be done would be to free up the domestic market, create a legal framework for a reliable contractual process for all types of producers, with guaranteed due reward for their work; provide legal personality for all private and family businesses, so that they can run and market their businesses with real autonomy within and outside Cuba, without the interference which torments them now, as well as creating a fiscal system which guarantees fair, universal and organised taxation, with no exemptions.

They should authorise and unconditionally stimulate, and prioritize over everything, large scale investment by our expats, entirely in line with their natural right as Cubans, although they should also open up the country without fear, redesigning the legal framework, and always looking after our national interest, for an essential inward flow of investment, but on a realistic basis, and without the unfair regulations imposed by the current Law 118.

In line with more civilised social norms, any person, exercising freedom of opinion, would be able to denounce any abuse of the freedom of the press, or commence due legal process against any authority infringing his rights. All of this would create ideal conditions in which, in a short space of time, our small and medium private businesses would prosper, and, without doubt, in just a few years, our rate of development would rocket, for everyone’s benefit, and not just for the foul entrenched bourgeoisie. But such a new Cuba couldn’t flourish unless the despots, who now pull all the political strings, perpetuating the autocracy created by the obsessive neurotic who betrayed his people 60 years ago, move over. And that, Mister, is something the masters of this dive are not about to do.

As and when we come to it, any true solution to the Cuban problem has to include the abdication of the historic nomenklatura which continues to obstruct our progress, so that they can devote their time to raising jutias (a kind of large Cuban hamster), getting out of the way of a new reformist government, which is able to think in terms of the country and not just a political sect.

To achieve that, it needs you, Mister Administrator, to start asking your masters to get out of the way of this people who detest them, and you will see how, in the course of a single generation we will have a country which is unrecognisable, with a booming, prosperous economy, because we are yearning for our liberty, which is not  so much held back by the embargo, fertilised by Fidel Castro’s litigant speechifying, but more by the internal blockage which you have just begun to notice, like someone who has just discovered cold water.

To cut a long story short, it would be something if your government, Mister Administrator, ratified the International Convenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which, with chameleon-like cowardice, Raul Castro first signed, then shelved, more than ten years ago, which, obviously, tells you that you need to comply with legal obligations on human rights which affect millions of Cubans.

Mister Administrator, when we stop worrying about banana phantoms (Mexican banana and chocolate treats for kids, which look like ghosts), it will be a whole new day. Get rid of the dictators, and we will see a Cuban miracle in a few years! For this to come about doesn’t mean you have to normalise relations with the United States, but rather that the moribund Castrismo, which you are currently and passively managing, stops playing the neighbourhood bully, stops behaving like a totalitarian police state, and decides to coexist in peace with its own people.

Finally, and in short, start by putting together, from square one, all the country’s political and economic strategies, break away from this appalling stasis, and create conditions in which all our countrymen, in the island and outside it, without political discrimination, can start the urgent work of developing the Cuban nation.

Translated by GH