For Melissa Barreto Galvez, a Cuban from Santa Clara, the Trip Ended in Mexico

For Melissa Barreto Gálvez, a Cuban from Santa Clara, the trip ended in Mexico (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 17 January 2021 — When Melissa Barreto Gálvez boarded the plane in Havana that would take her to Nicaragua, the only thing on her mind was her three-year-old son Mylan Kahled. She left him behind, under Grandma’s care, but he was her driving engine to make the big leap and become an immigrant.

“Leaving my little one in Cuba, whom I love most in life, causes me pain that grows stronger every day, which leaves me hardly able to breathe. It’s as if the world is going to fall on you,”  this 22-year-old resident of Santa Clara said moving to 14ymedio.

Melissa is one of thousands of Cubans who in 2020 chose to petition for refuge in Mexico. This process has been triggered in the last four years among the nationals of the island, who have ranked as the third highest of nationalities that requests it, behind Hondurans and Haitians. continue reading

Here she arrived last July, in the midst of the health crisis across the region, dodging obstacles, corrupt cops, dealing with scammers, and some fears. “I left Cuba with other people. When I arrived in Nicaragua, blind, I got my rent by myself and a way to sustain myself,” recalls the young woman, who left in the middle of her medical career in Cuba to seek a better future.

“Since every Cuban is known by our accent and even the way we dress, on my way out of work I met two Cubans. We started sharing and struck up a great friendship.” Like her, the boys also wanted to jump the borders into Mexico, and that’s what they did together.

Melissa and her friends were set up to a contact with coyotes. Within a few days, they had set out on the road. The $1,200 of the initial fare for the trip ended up at $3,500. “I spent some very difficult days, because in the end coyotes took money from us whenever they could. They left us 15 days in a house, almost without food because, according to them, the passage was difficult, but they did it all in order to ask us for more money. Most people arrive in Chiapas [Mexico] in four or five days, I spent 26 days and they were the worst.”

The young woman, who never gave up hope of arriving in Mexico, says she felt a lot of distrust at first “because of the things she heard” about the journey. “But along the way I was losing my fear, because I also knew my friends wouldn’t abandon me.”

The day after she stepped on Mexican soil, on July 12, she showed up at the Office of the Refugee Aid Commission (COMAR). “I did it all very quickly and easily, there were no queues. In those months almost no one was entering the country, mainly because Honduras and Guatemala had their borders closed because of COVID.”

“The third month after I went to the COMAR, I was called to interview for the asylum process. Within a few days I was told to go and pick up the resolution that recognized me as a refugee in the United Mexican States.” She is already in the process of obtaining permanent residency.

The migration landscape in Mexico for Cubans has changed a lot in a few years here. The usual, before, was the immediate deportation of the nationals from the island, a procedure interrupted for a few months, just over five years ago, when, faced with the imminent elimination by the Obama administration of the wet foot/dry foot policy, there was an avalanche of Cubans who entered the Chiapas border with the intention of reaching the United States by land. They then received an expedited “letter of exit” from the Instituto Nacional de Migración (Mexican National Institute of Migration), which allowed them to remain in the country legally for 15 days, until they reached the northern border.

Melissa now lives in Monterrey. She went a few days without a job, but she then was able to find one in order to move ahead. She claims that the important thing is to work, and she has lived it from the south to the north of the country, within a Cuban community that grows every day. And she also found love in another Cuban, a man who is young like her, who also wants to “throw in” (echar pa’ lante = work hard to get ahead), she says.

If everything becomes better on the northern border, does she plan to apply for asylum in the United States? “My son is not here with me and I have no plans to go to the USA yet. Maybe tomorrow, when I have my son, I will be able to tell you, but the truth is, I want to be here, in the beautiful country that has welcomed me.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Diaz-Canel vs Ordinary Cubans: Equal Before the Law?

Díaz-Canel appearing on the Roundtable TV show on Cuban State television (pre-pandemic) (Twitter)

Cubalex, Lawyer Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo I myself, Julio Alfredo Ferrer, filed a complaint against President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez with the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) for the crime of spreading epidemics. José Luis Reyes Blanco, promoted in August 2019 to FGR prosecutor by the State Council, quoted me and responded verbally.

Reyes Blanco argued that the president’s conduct did not constitute an administrative or contraventional offense nor did it typify the crime of Spreading of Epidemic, because there was no contagion or transmission of the epidemic. In view of the institution representing this criminal figure, according to doctrinal definitions, it was a crime of concrete danger.

Such an argument is an error and an attempt to guarantee impunity to public officials to the detriment of the right to equality and non-discrimination of Cuban citizens. continue reading

Debate of recognized experts on criminal law on the differences between “abstract danger” and “danger”

According to Doctor of Legal Sciences Renén Quirós Pírez, the classification of offenses of danger into “abstract” and “concrete” by Santiago Mir Puig had obscured the issue. He added that Gonzalo Rodríguez Mourullo understood that it was a contradiction to continue talking about abstract danger where there was indeed a concrete danger.

According to Dr. Quirós, the terminological question did not change the concepts. The jurist defined crimes of “concrete” danger as those in which the danger to the good as protected by criminal law is a requirement of the crime itself or one of its constituent elements. He exemplifies it with the following crime from the Cuban Penal Code:

“It is punishable by deprivation of liberty from three months to one year, or a fine of one hundred to three hundred shares*, or both, for: while having the responsibility of the operation of a drinking water supply for the population, for negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water, endangering the health of the population.” [1].

This crime is of concrete danger, because the standard requires that the person who commits it, either by negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water.

Crimes of “abstract” danger are those in which the act is punished because the behavior itself is dangerous. It adds, that action or omission is prohibited, because it creates a situation in which it is possible to damage the good, as protected by criminal law. The person driving a vehicle in a state of alcoholic intoxication is punished, even if in such a state he does not run over or injure someone or cause damage [2].

The Danger in the Crime of “Spreading Epidemics”

The Penal Code sanctions with imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine of between 100 and 15 thousand pesos to “in breach of measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities for the prevention and control of communicable diseases and programs or campaigns for the control or eradication of serious or dangerous diseases or epidemics” [3].

On 27 May 2020, the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos ratified the one-year and six-month penalty of deprivation of liberty for Keilylli de la Mora Valle for a number of crimes, including the spreading of epidemics.

The Appellate Sentencing Act says “that the crime of spreading epidemics only requires that the perpetrator fails to comply with the measures provided by health authorities for the prevention and control of epidemics, and the prosecutor argued that, “in the case under review the accused actually failed to comply with one of those measures which is the correct, permanent use of a mask when taking to the streets…”

President Díaz-Canel Bermúdez also did not wear the mask correctly or maintain social distancing, when on November 29, 2020 he participated in the rally called “TANGANAZO”in Parque Trillo. He wore a mask like a bib while delivering a short speech, practically on top of the people gathered there.

All, including the highest executive authority of the Cuban nation, broke the measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities in order to confront Covid-19. The Ministry of Public Health established as mandatory the correct use of the mask outside homes or places of residence, and social distancing in all public and private spaces[4].

Following the judgment sustained by the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos, regarding the danger in the crime of Spread of Epidemic, the President of the Republic must be held criminally liable in the same way as Keilylli de la Mora Valle, who was imprisoned for less dangerous acts than those committed by Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

The right to equality before the law

The Public Prosecutor’s Office should seek the same legal treatment that it gave to the President of the Republic, to all those who like De la Mora Valle were punished for the crime of Spreading of Epidemic. It should push forward in favor of these others, the Review procedure before the Supreme Court, by requesting annulment of sanctions and compensating those who were unjustly imprisoned.

In the television program Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) of June 6, 2020, the Attorney General of the Republic, Yamila Peña Ojeda, reported that the spreading of epidemics was one of the criminal conducts associated with the pandemic, and that by then they had referred 1,868 criminal cases to the courts. Rubén Remigio Ferro, President of the Supreme Court, noted that 1,856 people were tried and 1,839 sanctioned for failing to comply with health measures to deal with COVID-19.

This issue is of vital importance to Cubans, especially to those imprisoned for the same crime for which the President of the Republic was exculpated. I take this opportunity to convene all the jurists inside and outside the Island to offer their considerations on the corrupt actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

[1] Paragraph ch) of Section 1 of Article 194 of the Penal Code

[2] Paragraph a) of Section 1 of Article 181 of the Penal Code

[3] Paragraph 1 of Article 187 of the Penal Code

[4] Paragraphs a) and c) of Section “Tercero” of Resolution 128/2020 of the Ministry of Public Health

*Translator’s note: In Cuban legal codes fines are expressed as “shares.” In this way the definition of a “share” can be changed in one place, and all the fines throughout the code are automatically changed.

Translated by Hombre de Paz

The Cuban Bishops Ask for a Dialogue Between Those Who Have ‘Differing Opinions’

The message of the bishops was added to several voices who in recent weeks have criticized from within the Catholic Church the distressing situation that is being lived on the island. (IglesiaCubana)

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14ymedio, Havana, 12 December 2020 — On Saturday, Cuba’s Catholic bishops published their traditional Christmas message which, this year, includes calls “for dialogue and negotiation between those who have different opinions,” a few words that arrive in the middle of a strong defamation campaign on the part of the government against its critics.

“As pastors we are looking at a tired and overwhelmed people,” warns eleven bishops and Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, who signed the text. “Material deficiencies, spiritual fatigue, personal, family and national economic insufficiencies that severely affect life in the present and cast a shadow over the future.”

Some problems that “are weighing on the souls of the vast majority of Cubans. The existing economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of natural phenomena cause fears and uncertainties within the population,” they itemized. continue reading

According to the signatories, gathered at the Conference of Bishops of Cuba, these difficulties especially strike “the most disadvantaged: pensioners, the unemployed, single mothers, the sick, prisoners and the elderly living alone and in need.”

“In the midst of this situation, in addition to the proposals for a solution provided by the authorities of the country, so many others have been expressed, the result of the genuine love and commitment of Cubans,” some proposals that “must be heard and attended to,” the priests claim.

The message includes a list of the good news that Cubans need to hear, such as that “the burden of getting food becomes a serene sharing of daily bread as a family” and also “that the announced readjustment of the national economy, far from raising the concerns of many, will help everyone to sustain their family with decent work, with sufficient pay and with the ever-necessary social justice.”

Avoiding “violence, confrontation, insult and dismissiveness, to create an atmosphere of social friendship and universal fraternity” is also part of those good news that the population hopes for, along with “intolerance giving way to a healthy plurality, dialogue and negotiation among those who have different opinions and criteria.”

What the bishops long for is that “Cubans not to have to look outside the country for what we should find within; that we don’t have to wait for them to give us from above what we ourselves should and can build from below.” In addition to “ceasing all blockades, external and internal, and giving way to creative initiative, the liberation of productive forces and laws that promote initiative.”

Only in this way will “everyone feel and be able to be the protagonist of their life project and, in this way, the Nation will move towards comprehensive human development,” consider the signatories of the message. The text concludes with a Christmas message for “all Cubans, wherever they are.”

The message of the bishops comes in addition to several voices who in recent weeks have criticized, from within the Catholic Church ,the plight that is being lived on the island. Last November, the Cuban Conference of Religious (Conferencia Cubana de Religiosos y Religiosas, CONCUR) condemned that it was not right what “is happening with the supposed currency exchange, which has become an almost permanent and threatening shadow.”

CONCUR, which brings together the consecrated nuns and priests of the Catholic Church, thus joined with several priests of the island and the diaspora who in recent weeks have raised their voices to blame the Government for the lack of freedoms and food suffered by the country.

The first was the priest Jorge Luis Pérez Soto, parish priest of San Francisco de Paula, in the municipality of Diez de Octubre, in Havana, who in October claimed in a homily that the Church should get involved in politics.

A few days later, another priest, Laureano Hernández Sasso, lamented the deafness of Cuban leaders. “Why do we have to beg? Why does President Miguel Díaz-Canel speak and speak and never say anything? Or is it that we have to tell our president that we can’t go on like this?” the priest wrote on his Facebook account.

On November 1st, it was the Camagueyan priest Alberto Reyes, who spoke of the fear toward the regime and the situation that is being lived on the island. “Cuba is a big jail where, if you misbehave, they put you in a smaller one. And as in a prison, at last, we felt controlled,” he denounced in his social networks.

From Miami, he was supported by the rector of Ermita de la Caridad (the National Sanctuary Hermitage of Charity), Fernando Heria, who called on the bishops of Cuba to speak out against the regime, since Cuban priests “are tired of living under two types of dictatorships: ecclesiastical and government.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Letter to Fernando Rojas, Cuba’s Vice-Minister of Culture

The first group of artists to plant themselves in front of the Ministry of Culture on November 27. (Reynier Leyva Novo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ines Casal, Havana, December 7, 2020 — Fernando: If you find it disrespectful for me to address a letter to you in this way, I ask your pardon. And I assure you, I do it this way because I have no other way to communicate with you. Who knows if you won’t read this thing I write, either, but “just because my message might never be received doesn’t mean it’s not worth sending.”

I also apologize for addressing you informally as “Tú”, but this “letter” is addressed to the human being I met years ago (although maybe you don’t remember me), and not the official you are today. And I have a hard time treating you as a “you” [the more formal “Usted”], when I met you as Fernandito, as your parents called you. I trust you don’t see it badly either.

I know the lineage from where you come. Your parents were my co-workers, my bosses and my friends for a long time at the University of Havana. Your father, Fernando Rojas, Rector of the UH for several years, was an upright and honest man, who dedicated his whole life to his country and his Revolution, who educated, together with sweet Fefa, four children with a sense of truth and honesty, first and foremost. Although some wretched people (there always are) may have criticized him and even charged him for some “human weaknesses,” but never of being corrupt or opportunistic. continue reading

But since as I know your family well, you may have forgotten where he comes from and who my son Julius César Llópiz Casal is.

My son also comes from upright, honest parents who gave all their strength, all their energies, all their knowledge, all their revolutionary dreams to the UH and to their country. And they also educated their two children to respect truth and decorum, which is what people have when they don’t hide what they think.

I know what the duties of a post or a party are. I was a militant of the PCC [Partido Comunista de Cuba, the Communist Party of Cuba] for almost 30 years, and I was conscientious, because I believed in the Revolution, from the heart. Although for years I have felt betrayed in my purest dreams. But no office, no party position made me lie or betray my conscience. Luckily, I was always surrounded by colleagues who were able to discuss what we didn’t understand. When I felt betrayed by the Revolution (because it wasn’t me who did the betraying), I just stopped believing in it.

My son, Fernando, is not a terrorist, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, doesn’t seek to destabilize the system, let alone incite a popular uprising, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is not manipulated, managed, paid for by any foreign government, by any organization, by any means of the press, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is not a criminal, he is a Cuban artist who also works by Cuba and for Cuba, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, says what he thinks, anywhere and under any circumstance, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is a good man, and you know it.

That is why, from the bottom of my heart, I ask you to try, now from your duty as an official, in time to put a stop to a defamatory and cowardly campaign that has broken out in the official media against peaceful people who have only wanted to be heard. This media circus can have unimaginable and terrible consequences.

And that, Fernando, you also know.

With all my respect and consideration, Inés Casal Enríquez.

Ed. note: This letter was originally published in the social network Facebook.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Organizations Speak Out Concerning the Wave of Repression in Cuba / Artículo 19 and Cubalex

Artículo 19 and Cubalex — Article 19 strongly condemns the wave of arbitrary arrests that have been taking place since Thursday, November 12, against independent journalists, human rights activists and political opponents in Cuba. These events have been accompanied by interrogations, threats, seizures of work equipment, beatings, among other assaults.

The aggressors have been agents of the Cuban State in their official capacity, belonging to the organs of State Security (Seguridad del Estado), Military Counterintelligence (Contrainteligencia Militar) and the National Revolutionary Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria, PNR). As part of the modus operandi of these officials, detainees have been transferred to several police stations in the city and have remained missing on average for more than twelve hours.

Arbitrary arrests began on November 12, when a group of activists, journalists, artists and opponents concentrated in the vicinity of the Cuba and Chacón police station, in the municipality of Habana Vieja, Havana, to demand the release of Denis Solís González. He had been arbitrarily arrested a few days earlier and transferred to that police station. In his detention, the most basic guarantees of due process were violated, and on Friday, November 13, it was said that he was allegedly transferred to Valle Grande prison in western Havana for a summary trial for the alleged commission of a crime of Contempt. continue reading

The people who were arrested during these days were: Iliana Hernández Cardosa, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Anamely Ramos González, Denis Solís González, Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, Maykel Castillo Pérez, Oscar Casanella, Omara Ruiz Urquiola, Katherine Bisquet, Adrián Rubio, Jovián Díaz Batista, Jorge Luis Estien Bryan, Alfredo Martínez, Michel Matos, Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, Eralidis Frómeta, Yunier Gutiérrez and Yasser Castellanos. As of today, Sunday November 15, some of these citizens still persist in their demands in front of police facilities.

These facts constitute a flagrant violation of international obligations for the protection and guarantee of human rights, which the Cuban State has assumed under International Law (Derecho Internacional). It is also a violation of the recommendations made under the universal system of protection of human rights, both by bodies and agencies belonging to it, as well as by other States during the last Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Cuba (Examen Periódico Universal de la República de Cuba) in 2018. Similarly, the arrests of these persons are violations of inter-American and universal standards concerning the rights of assembly and peaceful demonstration, freedom of expression, the right to individual freedom and security, due process, access to justice, among others.

The article Organizaciones se pronuncian por la ola de represión de Cuba was first published in Cubalex. Indexing topic: San Isidro Movement (MSI)

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

 

Cuban Science, Victim of Propaganda and Greed

Caption: Of all the studies that have been carried out, only one meets all the requirements: that of the national vaccine candidate, Soberana. (Prensa Latina)

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Javier Roque Martínez, Isabel M. Echemendía Pérez and 14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2020 — In mid-March, just two days after the first case of coronavirus was detected in Cuba, state-owned Biocubafarma announced that it had the necessary products to fight the disease, some of them “already proven with high efficacy.”

From then until the end of September, the Registro Público Cubano de Ensayos Clínicos (Cuban Public Register of Clinical Trials) has mentioned 22 trials of pandemic-related products, of which nine would have produced some kind of scientific article by that date. However, so far there have been found academic articles related to only four Cuban coronavirus treatments.

Cuba has presented itself during the pandemic as a pharmaceutical power, but the truth is that, if you look closely at the trials of its medicines and other biotech products, the errors and inconsistencies are numerous. The ideal standard of science are tests that are randomized, controlled, and with some sort of masking technique. But of all those that have been made, only one meets all the requirements: that of the national vaccine candidate, Soberana. continue reading

The four products about which there are publications, were either tested on a very small number of people, or they were tested on groups of patients from which were excluded those most likely to be made worse by their age or by having other diseases, according to the scientific articles.

Cuba has tested four types of products: antivirals to reduce the chance of patients getting worse (such as the interferons); specific drugs to prevent the more severe cases from dying (such as Jusvinza and Itolizumab); products that improve immunity for risk groups (such as Biomodulin T); and vaccines (Soberana).

The interferons were presented as one of Cuba’s great contributions to the world since the beginning of the pandemic, and were tested in many countries. Itoluzimab and Jusvinza, for their part, were promoted by the president himself, Miguel Díaz-Canel, but the studies for most drugs of these groups have not produced publications, which in practice leads to the assumption that the studies do not exist. This is the case, for example, of Biomodulin T, whose results have not yet been disseminated.

Jusvinza and Itolizumab, on the other hand, did produce scientific articles, but to date neither has been subjected to peer review, a process that consists in other experts thoroughly examining the article for errors or biases, in order to ensure that the authors of the research have followed a strictly scientific method.

But the most serious problems do not occur in this regard, but in the data produced by the tests that were carried out.

In the case of Itolizumab, it was tested on a group of 19 patients from the Santa Clara nursing home. Although this drug was advertised as a treatment for severe patients, the recipients only had moderate symptoms, such as fever or lack of oxygen, but without a need for intensive care or intubation. In this outbreak there were 47 positive cases and between three and six deaths, so it does not explain the specific selection of those who participated in the trial, or whether the others did so and their reaction was not included.

Jusvinza, the other product for seriously-ill patients, was tested on the right people, but there were only 16 people, of which two died from an unidentified infection which they acquired in the hospital, which led to the conclusion that “all critical patients (11) recovered from respiratory distress.”

In other cases where the drugs were tested on more people, the findings cannot be clearly determined because the control groups were not comparable. This invalidates the study or makes it meaningless.

“It is important to note that such studies (the uncontrolled ones) cannot be taken as evidence that the treatment works,” said Javier González Argote, a Cuban physician taking doctoral studies in Biological Chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires.

Problems related to the selection of patients in the control group were evident in the study carried out with Heberon (trade name of Interferon alfa-2b), the largest in Cuba.

This antiviral was tested until July in 2,165 patients, a large majority of those infected on the island. The researchers concluded that an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and treated with Heberon was 57 times more likely to recover than one who did not receive it.

In the control group there were 130 patients, those who did not agree to receive Heberon, those who could have contraindications, and those who were most vulnerable to serious sickness. This made the group completely different from the one who did receive it: younger patients (44 years on average), with fewer previous diseases, and even asymptomatic people (up to 56% of the group). The average age of the control group was 68 years; 80% had possible complications and only 18% were asymptomatic.

In the group that received Heberon, less than 1% died, and in the other group, half did. Researchers recognize the problem of having had two non-parallel groups. “The data analysis in this study was limited, because it includes unbalanced demographic groups,” they add.

In the case of HeberFeron (the combination of Interferon alfa and gamma) a control group similar to the one receiving the treatment was used. But it was decided not to include in the research those patients who were most likely to worsen and those who showed a greater persistence of the virus in their body (several positive PCR tests [polymerase chain reaction] after receiving treatment). In this trial, involving 66 people, all patients with chronic diseases which are associated with increased comorbidity with COVID-19 were excluded.

With these patients eliminated, two groups were formed, one that received HeberFeron and the control group that received another interferon. Although no one died, only one patient worsened in the control group; while in the one which tested the drug there were two. Despite this, it was considered successful because the latter took less time to negativize the virus.

Cuban researcher Susana Delgado Ocaña, a doctoral student in Biological Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina, believes that concessions are acceptable, given the current emergency circumstances, but recognizes that the effectiveness of a drug cannot be validated. “Studies (of this type) may report improvements not necessarily attributed to treatment. In general, such trials tend to show greater efficacy of a treatment, sometimes ‘false positives’,” she pointed out.

U.S.-based Cuban biochemist Jorge Antonio Benítez argued in a recent article that, while the island’s biotechnology has obtained great achievements, its results are affected by politicization, a culture of secrecy, and a lack of regulations against conflicts of interest. For Benitez, one of the main problems of Cuban research is its emphasis on product development that can generate economic benefits in the short term, without conducting research set on solid theoretical foundations.

According to Nature Index, which evaluates countries for the quality of their scientific publications, Cuba is currently behind countries such as Panama or Costa Rica.

Despite all this, the experts agree on the success of the Cuban strategy, the country with the fewest deaths and cases of the continent. However, they do not attribute it so much to their pharmaceuticals, but to the good implementation of “non-pharmaceutical interventions and other epidemiological tools”, as noted in a recent article by the Cuban biologist Amílcar Pérez-Riverol. These virtues would apparently be the rapid implementation of mobility restriction measures, mass investigation in suspected cases, effective contact tracing, and the testing programme, as well as the great strength of its primary care system.

In any case, the rate of lethality, being low, is similar in Cuba to most countries around it and there is no reason for pharmacological triumphalism.

When President Díaz-Canel visited the Instituto Finlay in early October to ask about the progress of the Soberana study, the institution’s director, Vicente Vérez, informed him that his plan was to start immunize “our entire population” in the first half of next year. As always, ideological voluntarism takes precedence over reality.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Salesian Father Bruno Roccaro Dies at 100, ‘A Living History of the Cuban Church’

Bruno Roccaro was ordained a priest in 1949 and arrived in Cuba when he was 50 years old. (Raúl Ernesto Gutiérrez García)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 November 2020 – The priest Bruno Roccaro died on Tuesday in the city of Santa Clara from cardiac arrest, the Agencia Católica de Informaciones reported. The Salesian missionary, who on July 23 turned 100 years old, had been admitted Monday for a hip fracture.

The Salesians of Cuba Facebook page confirmed the news in a post, echoing a message from Arturo González Amador, Bishop of Santa Clara: “Father Bruno Roccaro has just passed away from cardiac arrest. Rest in the peace of God. Yesterday he was admitted for a hip fracture and waited in very good spirits for tomorrow for surgery. A friend is in heaven!”

Among the many comments of condolences, that of Father Jorge Catasus stands out, who said: “A wise and holy priest. How much do many of we Cuban priests owe him. Together with the venerable Father René David he was one of the saviors of Seminario San Carlos and San Ambrosio, in times of crisis. Thank you for your transparent priestly testimony.” continue reading

For the Salesians of Cuba, Roccaro was like the “living history of the Cuban Church” and they emphasized that he evangelized the island for 50 years. “Italian by birth and Cuban by vocation. And one of the creators of the historic Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting/Encuentro Nacional Eclesial Cubano of 1986,” they noted.

During the celebration of his last birthday, the missionary stated, “If I am what I am, what little I have done in my life, I have not done it alone, it is not my work, but that of the many who have helped me, and first of all, God.” He also said that it was necessary to build bridges between the Catholics themselves, adding: “I find it very difficult to think that two people of the religious life cannot agree, that they are enemies, opponents.”

Bruno Roccaro was born on July 23, 1920, in Scorzè, Venecia. He was ordained a priest in 1949, and arrived in Cuba as a missionary at the age of 50.

During his stay on the island he organized study programs in Humanities and Philosophy, in addition to his work for a quarter of a century at the Seminario San Carlos and San Ambrosio in Havana.

“I believe that a missionary in Cuba has to be a happy man, one who has also found the source of his happiness,” the father told Vandor Producciones. “He has to be a courtier, that is, when he sets foot in the territory to which he is destined here in Cuba, he cannot forget the past, but neither is it a thing of nostalgia for him. He has to feel Cuban, he has to love the nation where he is.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Cuba Archive Broadcasts Video Testimonials of Relatives of Victims of Extrajudicial Executions

Gerardo Fundora, Marta González’s cousin, was shot in October 1960 at Limonar’s shooting range, Las Villas. (Captura)

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14ymedio, Havana, 2 November 2020 — Moíses was 24 in 1961 and a leader of the Matanza resistance when, one night, after the tip-off by someone he trusted, hooded government agents went to pick him up at his house and executed him alongside three comrades, Bernardo and Orlando Barrabí and Orlando Rodriguez. All four were shot in the cemetery of Agramonte and buried in a mass grave.

Stories like this try to put faces to a large list of victims of the two Cuban dictatorships of the twentieth century, that of Batista from 1952 onward, and that of Castro. Archivo Cuba / Cuba Archive works on the testimonies of the stolen lives of at least 11,303 missing Cubans, in an ongoing database. The organization wants to go beyond the numbers, and asks relatives or witnesses of those killed o narrate their personal trauma.

“These are people, real human beings, whose lives have been stolen prematurely by political violence, directly or indirectly. These unjust and often brutal losses have impacted many more people: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc., and have had a broad impact on the nation,” the organization says. continue reading

This is also the case of Gerardo Fundora, shot in October 1960 at the firing range in Limonar, Las Villas. Marta González, his cousin, recalls the story of this 32-year-old trade unionist, a member of the resistance against Batista who opposed the Castro brothers and formed a group of rebels in Palenque, Matanzas. After being captured with some members of his group and tortured, he was executed without trial after being accused of shooting at a girl. Before shooting him, he was exhibited in the city as an “example” of what could happen to any opponent.

According to data from Cuba Archive, 3,045 people were shot by the Castro regime, in a list that is still being updated.

The project incorporates many other murders, such as that of political prisoner Ernesto Díaz Madruga in 1964, recounted by the former political prisoner Armando Valladares. The event happened in the prison of Isla de Los Pinos in an attack by the guards with bayonets. Another victim was José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, whose death at 61 his sister Lucy Ramón recalls.

His death was caused by hepatitus contracted in a Cuban prison in 2018, a date so recent that it recalls why it is still necessary to bring back to the memory of the nation the lives that intolerance has claimed.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz
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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.

On the Failures of Central Planning in Cuba

The bad condition of the buildings and the ruins of the city are among the favorite snapshots that foreign tourists love to take as a souvenir — and are among the many failures of a centrally planned economy. (14ymedio)

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14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 28 October 2020 – I do not think I am wrong in saying that, in Cuba at this point, there are still those who believe in the feasibility of central economic planning, even after 61 years of continuous failures.

Central planning means giving the state superior power to direct, according to its political criteria, the decisions of economic operators, thus breaking with market efficiency as an instrument for resource allocation. The ethics of centralized economic planning are unacceptable. This even, thinking that its chances of success increase, since there are no private property rights in Cuba.

Between the two extreme positions, central planning and market, there are countless points where a favorable result can be achieved in terms of well-being and quality of life. continue reading

But in Cuba it is still thought that the comprehensive transformation of the development management system can be successfully undertaken through central planning as its main element. This idea, rooted in the revolutionary principles of communist orthodoxy, refuses to use other instruments of economic policy, such as regulation, public policy management, governance or economic control, among others.

Perhaps that is why planning was established as a benchmark in the so-called Conceptualización del Modelo [Conceptualisation of the Cuban Socio-Economic Socialist Development Model], approved during the seventh Communist Congress. It was approved, that the planning-based management system should establish a mandatory relationship between the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social [National Economic and Social Development Plan], the State Budget and the monetary and financial balance, all in line with fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, credit, wage and price policies.

The Cuban economy, under such conditions, does not depend on the free and motivated action of private and public economic operators, but rather is centralized under absolute control of the state, which, moreover, owns most of the resources and means of production. Contrary to official doctrine, which considers this scenario to be a strength, it makes sense to think just the opposite, considering what the results of planning have been at all levels.

If in the free market economy the adjustment between the decisions of the operators is made in the market, through supply and demand, in Cuba this process goes through the hands of bureaucrats holed up in a government “ministry,” who make decisions based on their alleged superiority over the rest of the citizens and companies.

While the market produces efficient results, despite its failures, the second is a scenario of failure, and one after the other. And the bad news is that the Cuban communist authorities cling to planning, as if it were the only thing that can help overcome the serious obstacles of the economy.

Centralized planning is the source of numerous problems, because it limits, conditions, and, in some ways, coerces the behaviors of the economic operators of consumption, investment, savings, production, etc. Decisions that in any economy of the world are freely made by their stakeholders, in Cuba are directed “from above” and there is no room for your questions. Then, when what is planned doesn’t come to pass, no one is answerable for their failures. And it all begins again.

Over the years, the Cuban communist experience in centralized economic planning has served to prove the real impossibility of a state or government efficiently conducting its economy. The enormous centralization of decisions in the Cuban economy and the total absence of democracy in the processes, determine that the population is facing problems in order to exercise their role as consumers, investors, savers or simply to devote hours to leisure. Centralized economic planning intervenes in micro space, where operators maximize their well-being with income constraints, and therefore the Cuban economy is systematically distorted.

For example, central planning explains why bankrupt state-owned enterprises, which produce at very high prices, and therefore need state budget subsidies to adapt prices to the low purchasing power of the population, are kept in operation. Numerous examples of investment, foreign trade operations and even decisions on what to produce and how could be cited. Those responsible for central planning in Cuba have never negotiated to achieve a consensus, but have imposed their decisions, setting objectives that, most of the time, were simply impossible to meet.

By identifying central planning as the central axis of the economy, together with the key role given to state-owned enterprises, the Cuban communist régime regresses 50 years, to positions that in the global and modern digital world and in transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, are unthinkable, and which will eventually cause its own demise. The foundations of this model of economic organization, based on numerous failures and mistakes, are weaker than the authorities think and at any moment, the house of cards will fall apart completely.

Could monetary and exchange rate be the setting for the crisis of the model? Of course it could. As now planned, with a central role of the state in controlling the wage and price process after the devaluation of the Cuban currency, anything can happen. Without the need for “shock therapies” or avoiding “leaving anyone helpless,” the tensions that will occur after the devaluation and the effects on prices, wages and consumption will make it very difficult to anticipate the results, no matter how much planning is done.

Companies fear that they will not be able to pass their higher costs on through prices, consumers fear that they will not be able to buy the products they want to consume because of their insufficient wages and pensions, commodity producers do not know the impact of the devaluation on their supply, the export options are unknown, the utilization of installed production capacity remains low. The uncertainty and risks ahead are so high that many wonder, what’s the point of centrally planning the economy, when there is no confidence in the authorities in charge of its leadership.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

They Will Resurrect Fidel Castro in Havana / Juan Juan Almeida

Raul Castro placed the urn with the ashes of Fidel Castro in the mausoleum of Santa Ifigenia cemetery. (EFE)

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 September 2020 — On November 25th, the day when one more anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death will be commemorated, a museum will be inaugurated in his memory in Havana.

Located on Avenida Paseo between 11th and 13th streets in Vedado, Havana, the historic gallery will exhibit paintings, gifts, photos, belongings and other odd junk that former dictator Fidel Castro used in life; this will actually violate the last will of the late commander.

It should be recalled that on January 3, 2016, General Raul Castro publicly affirmed that — in view of the express wish of his brother, the recently deceased leader of the Cuban communists — he was advising the National Assembly that the name and figure of Fidel Castro not be used in any public place, nor that statues or busts or public squares be raised in his memory. continue reading

It is also worth noting that – according to sources close to the brood of the late commander-in-chief – the objects displayed in such a bombastic manner, were not donated by the relatives, but sold.

At a cost that already exceeds 700 thousand dollars (USD), the museum will be inaugurated by November 25. Among the strangest of the attractions of this sort of Church, where the venerated image will be that of the only Saint who wears glasses and a green outfit, there will be presented a small audiovisual: there, among other things, you will see for the first time the culinary recipes preferred by the legendary Ex-Commander, who passed on from his residence “Punto Cero,” to reside, Encased in Stone, over in the necropolis of Santa Ifigenia in the historical city, Santiago de Cuba.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

Cuban Prosecutor asks for 12 Years Imprisonment for the Nurse who Vaccinated the Girl Paloma Dominguez

Little Paloma Domínguez Caballero, who died in October 2019, after having been vaccinated in Havana.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 October 2020 – Yaima Caballero, mother of the girl Paloma Domínguez, announced that the trial of the nurse who vaccinated her daughter was held on Friday. After the vaccination the little girl, only 1 year old, died on October 9, 2019.

“They have already tried the nurse who killed Paloma; she acknowledged that she did everything wrong, although she hardly said she was sorry, but that she was very sorry because she had opted for the right to remain silent if she wished…,” Caballero posted on her Instagram account.

“The prosecutor is asking for a 12-year sentence of deprivation of liberty, for murder and injury,” the mother said, reporting that she did not have all the details of the trial, although she went on to say that the defendant’s representative did not agree with the prosecutor’s request. continue reading

“Her lawyer appealed, because she says five to seven years would be correct, because she’s the best nurse in the world. We have to wait six business days to see what they say, this nightmare is not over,” she said. “Do you have any idea, how they changed laws, 12 years ago?” the mother questioned at the conclusion of her message on the social network.

The trial was scheduled to start on last August 14, but was postponed by Havana’s health situation following the reemergence of the new coronavirus. “I can’t go, you know if I go back they won’t let me out,” the little girl’s mother said to 14ymedio a month before that first date.

She explained that she would not be able to attend because she was not in Cuba, but in Mexico. “It’s all very complicated, what more could I want than to be there.” Caballero confirmed that the trial was attended by several of her friends, in addition to her parents, Paloma Dominguez’s grandparents, her brother and her paternal aunts.

At a meeting with health authorities before leaving Cuba, State Security, present at the meeting, warned the mother that she could go to prison if she persisted in making “unfounded accusations,” against Cuban Public Health. The situation led her to go into exile with her husband on Mexican territory.

Yaima Caballero’s life turned around a year ago when she took her daughter to get her PRS vaccine (MMR, against mumps, rubella and measles) at Polyclinic Enrique Betancourt Neninger, in Alamar, Havana. A few days later, the little girl passed away.

“They killed my daughter,” was her complaint on social media from the first moment, and then she also made public her disagreement with the results of the investigation that was released by the Ministry of Public Health a month after Paloma’s death, and which pointed to a “bad handling” of the vaccine.

According to the health authorities, the severe reaction presented by the little one was caused by “violations of the standards established for vaccination” and “negligence during the process of conservation, preparation, handling and exposure of the syringe used.”

According to those results of the investigation, the nurse who vaccinated Paloma was punished with a firing from the National Health System, along with disqualification from the practice of the profession and the criminal investigation process.

Since then, Caballero has waged a personal battle to thoroughly investigate what happened, so that it might not happen again. Although she never complained about the medical care received by her daughter, on the contrary, she thanked the doctors, but soon came the retaliation against her for raising her voice.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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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.

Cubans in Costa Rica: Hardship and Waste / Ivan Garcia

Photo from Deutsche Welle.

Ivan Garcia, Costa Rica, 9 December 2015 — Following the guide dictated by a relative who in the Spring of 2015 pointed out the Central American route of eight countries up to the frontier of Laredo in United States, Norberto Fumero, 34-year-old truck driver in Cuba, since his departure from Ecuador has always traveled in small groups.

But now in Puerto Obaldía, in Panama, or en route through Costa Rica – considered by Fumero as “a truce from all the extortion by the police, the ‘coyotes’ and the murderers” – acted with more liberty of movement. continue reading

A rainy morning arrived in Paso Canoas, a quiet and level town in Costa Rica at the edge of the border with Panama. “In the march through Colombia we were 14, 11 men and three childless women. Children are an impediment. They make the trip slow and dangerous. Already in Paso Canoas I left the group and I joined four people with enough money to cover a stay that can be extended longer than expected,” says Fumero at the entrance of a hostel in La Cruz, a town about 12 kilometres from the border with Nicaragua.

When he arrived in Paso Canoas, soaked by rain and hungry, he stayed in El Descanso, hotel with corrugated roof tiles and more than 80 rooms.

“I was there three nights. I paid 9 dollars per day and between lunch and breakfast spent about 12 dollars a day. I was traveling with the money hidden within a small battery radio. More or less 8 thousand dollars. By text message from relatives in Miami I heard about the crisis on the border of Nicaragua. Along with four friends, a Costa Rican friend took us from Paso Canoas to a farmhouse on the outskirts of the Cerro de la Muerte,” he recounts while he insists on reading a letter that he and his partners have written to the press.

“We went from the extreme heat in Paso Canoas to a beastly cold during the march via Cerro de la Muerte. We made the trip by stages. When we arrived in Liberia, a town that looks like a city, we boarded a bus to La Cruz, where we awaited the outcome of our cases,” says Fumero.

The steep Cerro de la Muerte has an own microclimate and its legends in tow. Jorge, a Costa Rican cabbie, in a low voice told them that by night, on the Hill people with hoods hiding their faces pass by and the cries of women are heard.

But Fumero and his friends were not going to listen to fables. “It’s a place like any other. We traveled at night in the back of a pickup truck. Never in my life I’ve been so cold,” he recalls.

While they wait for lunch, Fumero reads enthusiastically a letter written in pencil which, pretentiously, requested the authorities of Costa Rica to adopt the following strategy:

“Point one: enable a ship to skirt Nicaragua in order to arrive in Honduras. Point two: establish humanitarian flights from Costa Rica to Honduras. If not possible, at least allow the Cubans who can afford the ticket to travel to Honduras,” he reads with tenor voice while his friends nod their heads.

In the town of La Cruz there are four shelters. In a rundown alley, next to a lookout point with a spectacular view, is the highest capacity shelter, located in the gym and classrooms of a high school.

The shelters have a schedule and a handful of standards. Until ten in the evening the Cubans walk from one end to another the settlement of La Cruz. They also sit in an airy and broad park in the center of the village, where they see a Real Madrid football match at the Bella Vista hostel.

In the group of more than 4 thousand Cubans stranded in Costa Rica there is a segment with roomy pockets who can rent rooms in hotels and even cars or motorcycles to visit nearby beaches.

But they are the few. When evening falls, some come to a rough bar to take a drink of Peleón rum or a couple of Imperial beers. And every journalist who arrives at the hostel is eager to address them with questions about a possible solution to the immigration crisis.

Scattered on rubber foam mattresses they spend their time sending messages by cell phones, sitting in front of the TV or getting in long lines at the Western Union Office, to receive money orders from relatives from Florida.

On the morning of Wednesday, November 25, local authorities set up a children’s party which included a clown. Lunch that day consisted of white rice, red beans, and a beef hamburger.

Nayda Cosset, a telecommunications engineer who fled Cuba with her boyfriend, said that “the food is scarce and bad. Only when journalists visit or visitors from the Red Cross come does the quality improves. The treatment is good. But we are going crazy wanting to move ahead.”

At the entrance of the shelter at La Cruz they have placed portable toilets and in the back showers have been set up. Only a single Costa Rican watchman, unarmed, enforces calm.

“Despite their dislike for not be able to continue their march, their behavior is good. There have been cases of disputes and complaints because of what they consider poor treatment,” points out the custodian.

The Cubans who are interviewed blame Nicaragua or accuse the authorities of Costa Rica of mishandling their case. Very few point to the real culprit of the crisis: the autocracy of the Castro brothers.

In passing, they allege that they left Cuba because of its precarious economy and a future labeled with question marks. But still, so far from their homeland, the fear and the inner police that many Cubans carry inside prevent them from speaking freely before the cameras.

If the worst happens and they must return to the island, they say, the government may retaliate. And so they establish a pact of silence. Which very few break.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

The Cuban Evangelical Churches Face Future Democratic Elections / Mario Lleonart

Mario Lleonart, 30 June 2105 — A paper I presented on Monday, June 29, at the event “Paths of Transition”, in Havana (a theoretical conference concerning on issues of democratic construction in Cuba).

In the present order of things, the Cuban State boasts about how some of its deputies in the National Assembly of People’s Power (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular) are evangelical pastors, or have some other leadership position in the Protestant religious environment, which is an evident attempt at necessary auto-reaffirmation of that constitutional change which took place in 1992 of declaring a hitherto religiously atheistic State to secularity was more than a simple change of letter.

These exceptional cases of Protestant leaders that the Government boasts about, as in the case of other minorities, such as women, with regard to sex, or blacks, with regard to race, have helped soften the image which from all appearances is monolithic clearly from the ideological point of view that characterizes this body from its first organization. It is a sort of, “You tell me what you boast about and I’ll tell you what you lack.” continue reading

Indeed, three or four names, of peoples characterized by their unconditional surrender to system, were on loan to rent out their cassocks and sweeten of the lack of democracy in the current Parliament. The same faces can be seen in similar condition on other fronts where they were sent to represent the archaic system, as it was in evidence at the recent 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama, when some of these “religious” people were even able to participate in the so-called acts of repudiation against representatives of Cuban civil society, only to later affirm that they felt the presence of God there.

It is classic cohabitation of the princes and the false prophets. Regardless of the efforts to make people believe through the official propaganda that these individuals are heads of the Cuban evangelical churches, it is known for sure that they have actually been, are leaders of the so-called Cuban Council of Churches (Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba, CIC) after excelling in denominations of limited membership or historically vulnerable to government interference.

The CEC, notwithstanding the efforts made by the Office for the Attention of Religious Matters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), in conjunction with a manipulated Registrar of Associations of MinJus (Ministry of Justice), has failed to bring together the diversity of Evangelical and Protestant churches of Cuba.

Its membership lists do not reach half of religious institutions which possess legal personality, so if we also take into account the huge group of churches and religious movements without legal recognition, despite attempts to procure it, then we arrive at the conclusion that only a minority within the minorities that constitute the Protestant and Evangelical churches have been represented, not to say abused, by such opportunists.

In this context, one might think that even with pseudo-parliamentarians, at least the Protestant minorities might have had some experience, and that even have taken the lead over the Catholic Church, whose clergy have been notoriously absent, while [the evangelicals], in the end, in some way, have been present in the National Assembly. But in the future this actually might be reversed in a negative way for the evangelical minority, for two reasons at least.

On the one hand, the Catholic Church, whose political ambitions have never been a secret and which surely will seek representatives from its clergy in Cuba, when there is finally a genuine Parliament, could appeal to its current withdrawal, as advantage moral to get votes for having not lent names to a spurious Assembly.

On the other hand, the majority of evangelicals, by their negative reaction against the current undemocratic conditions, and perhaps even by rejection of the positions of “their representatives”, adopt a negative position, that is the extreme of rejecting the political, of alienation, by confusing the political with the current situation.

It is the social burden of false political position known as ’neutrality’, which is so necessary to question because, in addition to its real non-existence, is incompatible with the “subversive memory” of the Christian message, and which is by their apathy, an accomplice of so many excesses, is extremely dangerous, especially for the future of Cuba.

It is imperative to recognize that essential aspects of the evangelical mission, whatever arises, in the field of social, political, educational, economic, unfortunately remain excluded today, and what is worse, sometimes so far as rejected, either by fears of a State that has demonstrated its repressive character of “leftovers”, or by negative reaction to the aforementioned negative procedures.

It turns out to be extremely reductionist that the powerful message whose powerful influence has been demonstrated in Western culture, and the history of America, with roots even in the huge differences of today between the North and South; that this force, in the words of theologian and German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “frees from everything which oppresses and overwhelms”, be understood in Cuba as exclusively religious and cultic categories, even if they include the commendable knowledge of practices, beliefs, membership, attendance, etc.

It is undeniable that in Cuba in the present reality, evangelical churches have become what the Swiss sociologist Christian Lalive called The Refuge of the Masses; these communities, in their exponential growth, have become family, hospital, shelter, consolation for the unprotected masses of the island, and this has its positive side, but if you want to provide a greater good to Cuba it is necessary a go further if they really wish to contribute to their nation as a source of leadership and influence, and not remain as a mere reservoir.

The bad example, the negative face of those who pretend to represent them has have given currently to a foul play could be reversed with genuinely evangelical members of parliament in the future, contributing to a new Cuba where real justice, real democracy and respect to the most vulnerable groups, better distribution of wealth, which is in sumo a nation with good rulers, which coincides with the biblical ideal that these minorities preach.

It is time, not to withdraw into one’s shell or hide like the ostrich, but to first of all break to their core the myths and taboos put in a manifesto in a mutilated fulfilling of the mission.

Cuba needs that these powerful minorities get involved too, and participate in order to transform their reality, it needs a church that understands that both evangelism and social action are components in equal measure of its mission, that its good news constitutes a comprehensive message that knows no boundaries of any kind and that is addressed to every human being, considering all the reality of the person: the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, social, and political.

In this context it is necessary that the evangelical leadership, if it is responsible and if the destiny of Cuba really interests it, begin to exchange this sterile culture of the rejection of the political, inherited as much from the anthropological damage infringed against all of society, as by the negative attitude of those who have lent themselves to the game of a false democracy.

Pastors, theologians, and other leaders of the Cuban Protestant churches must open up to the need for what we might call an integral evangelization for Cuba.

And it’s not necessary to sit and wait while others dedicate themselves to changing social conditions and generate the creation of a genuine Parliament, able to represent all the interests of the nation, without ignoring the minorities, in which group the evangelical churches are represented.

All Cubans; including evangelicals, in accordance not only with their path throughout the world, but in Cuba itself since their arrival in the 19th century; we are called to be proactive agents that we begin to generate the change-before-the-change. The analysis of the results of the latest constituency elections is extremely interesting, even if the results are taken from the official statistics.

On the one hand is the historic 20% that expressed their opposition whether through its absence from the ballot box (11.7%), by voiding a ballot (4.92%), or by leaving it blank (4.54%).

On the other hand are those who took the courageous position of going even further, trying to get candidates and even in two very unusual cases managing to dispute the elections in order to obtain the support of more than four hundred electors who dared to vote in favor of those who, in violation of the very Constitution, were called with the pejorative and intimidating label of “counter-revolutionaries”.

In the midst of this panorama I am interested in wondering how much the evangelicals contributed to each of these percentages. And I am even more excited to imagine the positions in which they will be able to decide the fate of Cuba, not only the evangelical leaders, but that number of electors that reaches their churches more and more, the evangelical mass, when they come to be aware of how much good they can do for the nation, in keeping with their faith, if it is genuine, and if this wish is verified by more than simple attendance at church: in living standards, in democratic decision-making, in the satisfaction of justice, in the common good of all.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

Raul Castro, what are you plotting?

Abel Prieto, Raul Castro advisor leading the pro-Castro demonstrations in Panama
The sign reads: “Get out Che’s assassin”

Today, April 9, 2015, we are just 19 days away from the date in which the dictatorship of the Castro clan should have granted probation to Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a prisoner wrongfully for crimes he did not commit as has been widely attested.

So within days of him being about to be released, we have learned that they have planned to move him again. We don’t know where or why.

We have also found out that on the last visit he received, he was monitored by cameras set up for this occasion. continue reading

Barnet, also leading pro-Castro mob

This Friday, April 10, he should again receive a visit, and this visit coincides with the Americas Summit in Panama City, where Raúl Castro will be with his entourage. There will also participate members of civil society, a fact that – after having done the impossible – he has not managed to avoid, and for days, their henchmen have not stopped trying to disqualify and detract them.

The Panamanian state collaborated with the dictatorship of Castro, harassing and arresting dissidents just as they were arriving in the country, and in the last hours there have been acts of condemnation and beating of Cubans, organized by the embassy and Panamanian groups of solidarity with Cuba, against opponents who have been invited to Civil Society Forum of the summit, a thing really embarrassing, although it was predictable.

Pro-Castro mob in Panama

We hope that this new transfer of Angel Santiesteban-Prats, and the recent cameras that violate the privacy of his visits, have nothing to do with the Summit and is not an attempt to silence his voice on this issue.

Pro Castro mob attacking independent civil society members in Panama

Whether or not Angel gets to send his opinion pieces on the subject — and especially on the dictatorship — we know what he thinks, and know better still that he is imprisoned just for thinking thus.

We warn again that all eyes are on Angel and we will not wait a second to denounce new abuses that can be prepared for him.

Angel’s editor

1428570213_angel-santiesteban-prision-militar-de-jaimanitas

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

Breaking the Censorship / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban Prats,Jaimanitas Border Patrol Prison, Havana, 12 February 2015 — Today February 12, 2015, precisely the day of opening of the Havana International Book Fair, various officials have come to me noting one of the recent complaints concerning the slavery of the prisoners in Cuba, their cheap labor, and the inhumane conditions with which they work twelve to fourteen hours a day, including the weekends or public holidays or non-working days.

To make matters worse, they work with boots and torn and patched clothes, which they cannot even buy with their minimal, token salary — which sometimes doesn’t arrive on time — and they have to wait until the following month to cash it. Prisoners, like almost always, are fearful for reprisals when continue reading

the inspection officers depart, since they hinted to them of the deprived circumstances in which they survive their sentence.

I am pleased that, somehow, the blog fulfills the role for which it was created, which is nothing more than make justice prevail for the destitute, the fearful, or those who are unaware of the way in which their voices influence society.

My generation, the vast majority, got tired of receiving the topics about which we should write, when the repressive government sends them through cultural officials.

The truth is that somehow they will give you new boots and adequate clothing. They will not send them to work sick or beaten. Nor, or at least I suppose, while I am nearby, will they allow them to work well beyond the established hours. And they noted down in their agendas the type of job they perform and the fair payment that should receive, since the officials confirmed that prisoners are being swindled by their employers.

We know that, unfortunately, a large part of Cubans do not have access to the Internet, but apparently the government is paying attention to a part of my complaints. I’m happy for them, but they do it only to conceal them, we hope they will be eradicating them.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

4 March 2015