Lessons from Argentina and Venezuela for Building Democracy in Cuba

With María Corina Machado, the Venezuelan opposition now has a leadership legitimized by the participation of the political parties and their voters (EFE).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Julio Aleaga Pesant, Manzanillo, 29 October 2023 — Last Sunday, October 22, marked a page in Latin American politics from which the Cuban democratic opposition can learn. First, the failure of Javier Milei to be elected in the first round of the Argentine presidential elections, and then the election of María Corina Machado (MCM) in the primaries of the Venezuelan democratic opposition, are points to consider.

What happened to Milei?  In last August’s pre-presidential elections, known as Paso, he came in first place. Such was the euphoria, that he himself bragged that on his birthday he would be elected president of the Argentine Republic. But he was in the end relegated to a creditable second place in the actual elections.

What happened was typical of democracies that have parties. Sergio Massa is the candidate of the ruling Peronist coalition, Unión por la Patria. Allied with the convicted Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President Alberto Fernandez and the continental left grouped in the Puebla Group, they put their foot on the accelerator of the structure. Between Kirchner, Fernandez, Massa and others, they set the party’s electoral machinery in motion. continue reading

Unión por la Patria showed its muscle and defeated the candidate of Libertad Avanza by 7 points. A new organization, full of euphoric people disenchanted with the “caste,” but still with a lot to learn about politics.

I do not rule out that the strategists and the money of the Puebla Group flowed to Buenos Aires to achieve this result

I do not rule out that the strategists and the money of the Puebla Group flowed to Buenos Aires to achieve this result and also that the next ballot will be held. Everything remains to be seen, in politics two plus two might not equal four.

And in Venezuela? There, the opposition primaries were held to elect a leader and a team to promote and set an agenda that will take the country out of the pit it is in, based on concrete actions and public policies that will put an end to the long Chavo-Madurist night. Is it the key to the “seven thunders”? No! But it is an important step to give the Venezuelan citizen a voice.

How did they do it? Well, in the only and complex way it can be done. The leaders of the political organizations agreed (Plataforma Unitaria) to hold elections (primaries) to elect the leader of the opposition before the presidential elections. The leaders summoned their bases and enlisted them in an independent electoral commission (National Primary Commission), composed of prestigious lawyers and representatives of the different participating organizations.

In that process, fiercely bombarded by the caste of “bolidictatores“, María Corina Machado, from Vente Venezuela, was elected. Thus, the opposition now has a leadership legitimized by the participation of the political parties and their voters. Does this mean that they fulfilled the Hill of Zion? No, it does not. Only that they started to walk their “road to Damascus”.

And when will we learn from others?

The pains that mistreat me / are so many that they run over / and as they try to kill me / they crowd each other and that’s why they don’t kill me. Sindo Garay’s song, performed by the unforgettable Silvia Perez Cruz, intoned by the Cuban democratic opposition in exile or “insile,” but undoubtedly in the center of its labyrinth.

Why don’t we just get it over with?

Under the conditions of cruel repression of the predatory communist regime against the whole society, it is difficult to organize a process of selection of leaders within the island, such as the one that has just taken place in Venezuela. Especially when the most important opposition parties and organizations have also disappeared from the island in the last seven years under the blows of repression, exile, the old age of the founders or the lack of interest of young people.

But, does anything prevent compatriots from abroad from forming and accepting a leadership, with goals, challenges and that is pro-tempore, asks Ernesto Gutiérrez Tamargo from Europe. And he focuses on the exile, because of its “freedom of political action and international logistic maneuverability”, and because it has the opportunity to “tune in with the internal opposition of the island to develop strategies.”

The foundation of these “primaries” we dream of, he continues, is that they “must represent the essential pillars of building a Constitutional and Democratic Rule of Law with national proposals to confront the regime in international forums.”

Of course, in order to nurture this proposal, the reluctance of so many “kingdoms of taifas [petty political factions]” must be overcome

Of course, in order to nurture this proposal, the reluctance of so many “taifa kingdoms” [small kingdoms] and political parties without representativeness or leadership capacity will have to be overcome. But it would be a step. We have been denied the right to exist as a democratic political alternative: “the Castroist pax castrista” typifies us as criminals in its Penal Code.

I agree with the Cuban lawyer, and I would only add that a primary in the opposition would be the opportunity to make the decision-making process transparent within the democratic opposition. Above all, in the face of the citizens and with the pertinent consensuses, it would be projected on the whole Cuban society, directly affecting the bases of the regime. It would be a special time of identification of forces and the existence of ideologies, which would begin to coexist for a common good, the homeland and a higher goal: to build democracy.

The lessons of 22-O are both in Argentina and Venezuela: to face our national challenges, we need strong and qualified leaderships and structures, chosen by the citizens.

Translated by Hombre de Paz


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

Cuban Government Denounces ‘Cowardly, Fascist-Like Acts’ Against the Duo Buena Fe in Spain

Buena Fe’s tour of Spain began last Friday in Madrid and was to include performances in the cities of Bilbao, Barcelona, Zamora, Salamanca and Cáceres. (Buena Fe/Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 18 May 2023 — Cuban authorities said Thursday that the cancellation of three concerts in Spain by the musical duo Buena Fe, a group close to government and party circles, was due to “harassment” and media “campaigns” against them.

The president of the Cuban Institute of Music, Indira Fajardo, described the situation as “harassment” at a press conference.

“The evidence that these attacks had been previously prepared is evident, since the videos on social networks provided incitement to attack the Cuban group,” said Fajardo, according to the Cuban News Agency (ACN).

Meanwhile, the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac) expressed in a communiqué its “indignation” at the “barbarity revealed in the harassment and persecution” directed against the Cuban musicians.

“This is an attack against civility, a manifest disregard for culture and for those of us who defend the right to do our work from this blockaded and slandered island,” the text states. continue reading

Uneac claimed that the perpetrators of this campaign are “anti-Cuban elements” who “have followed the fascist script dictated by the Platista faction entrenched in South Florida.”

Cuban Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, stated on Twitter that “the harassment of the due Buena Fe and the pressures on the owners of the venues that programmed their concerts in Spain are cowardly acts, of a McCarthyist and fascist nature.”

On the same social network, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel also spoke of “harassment” and assured that “all of Cuba” stands with the duo.

Buena Fe’s tour of Spain began last Friday in Madrid and was to include performances in the cities of Bilbao, Barcelona, Zamora, Salamanca and Cáceres.

But at the first concert there was an incident: two activists against the Cuban government claimed to have been beaten — allegedly by personnel of the Havana embassy in Madrid — after shouting slogans against the system on the island during the performance.

The following day the cancellation in Barcelona was announced, which the group linked to “organizational and logistical reasons”, followed by the cancellation of their performances in Salamanca and Zamora.

“Under the pretext of defending democracy, fascistic harassment and threats have been unleashed against the owners of the venues and that has been more powerful than the songs,” said the members of the musical duo.

Created in 1999, Buena Fe is a regular at official events and celebrations of the Young Communist League (UJC). Several times it has traveled as part of official Cuban delegations to events such as the World Festival of Youth and Students.

Translated by Hombre de Paz

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

Food Prices in Cuba Rose Almost 71 Percent in One Year and Much More in the Informal Market

As Cuba imports 80% of what it consumes, according to UN estimates; the depreciation of the peso is relevant in the inflationary spiral (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 20 May 2023 — Annual inflation in Cuba’s formal market stood at 45.36% in April, compared to 23.69% in the same month of 2022, fueled by food and catering, the National Statistics and Information Office (Onei) reported Friday.

This agency does not include the changes in prices in the island’s informal market, which is the largest and best-stocked, and is more prone to inflation due to the severe shortage of basic products on the island and the total lack of regulation.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 2.78% in April compared to the previous month, Onei said.

By category, the annual increase in Food and non-alcoholic beverages (70.67%), followed by Restaurants and hotels (64.91%), Miscellaneous goods and services (21.79%), Furniture and household items (21.19%), Education (19.50%) and Transportation (19.15%) stood out.

In April alone, prices for Restaurants and hotels experienced a 4.01% increase, followed by 3.70% for Food and non-alcoholic beverages. continue reading

All categories experienced annual price increases, many of them with double-digit rates. The least inflationary were Health (2.41%), Communications (0.34%) and Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (1.82%), sectors controlled by state monopolies.

This sharp price increase follows upon the one recorded in 2021, when Onei put inflation at 77.33%, and 39.07% for the Cuban formal market in 2022.

There are no data on the trends in the Cuban informal market, where some commodity prices have doubled in the last 12 months and an exchange rate of 120 pesos to one dollar is in effect. A carton of 30 eggs has gone from 600 to 2,000 pesos in Havana, when the average salary in 2022 was 4,200.

According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), inflation in the informal market reached almost 740% in 2021, the first year of the entry into force of the Ordering Task legislation. The situation improved in 2022, as prices rose 140% in the informal market, according to US economist Steve Hanke.

Since Cuba imports 80% of what it consumes, according to UN estimates, the depreciation of the peso is relevant in the inflationary spiral. Cuba has been going through a serious economic crisis for two years, as evidenced by the shortage of basic products (such as food, medicines and fuel), the partial dollarization of the economy, prolonged and frequent blackouts, and a sharp increase in prices.

The effects of the pandemic and errors in national macroeconomic policy are the main causes of this crisis, which is fueling migration – mainly to the US – and social discontent.

Translated by Hombre de Paz


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

Cuba’s Diaz-Canel, Five Years as Hand-Picked Dictator

Díaz-Canel’s international policy has placed Cuba on the side of the most infamous causes (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 5 April 2023 — That April 19, 2018, when deputies had to “elect” the president of the Republic, there was only one name on their ballots aspiring to the position. Raúl Castro himself cleared away all doubts by declaring that his appointment was not a coincidence, that it was planned and foreseen by the Party’s leadership. Díaz-Canel was the only survivor of a dozen “test-tube” leaders who had been training to inherit the throne.

The electronic engineer and lieutenant colonel had slowly climbed from the Union of Young Communists. His ascent was meticulously calculated, without haste, so as not to repeat the mistakes they had previously made with Roberto Robaina, Carlos Lage, Feliz Pérez Roque and Jorge Luis Sierra Cruz.

The “star of Placetas” fulfilled an international mission in Nicaragua. He next became the highest authority of the Party in Villa Clara, his native province, and then was given his litmus test: Holguín. In the “city of parks” he earned the nickname of Miguel Díaz-Condón [condom] for preventing peasants from smuggling milk. And it was also there that he met Lis Cuesta, broke up his marriage and fearing that his promotion would be frustrated.

I remember that on one occasion they both attended the premiere of one of my works. At the end of the show, they stayed for the toast and told us about the adventures of their romance. The then-first secretary of the Party in Holguín feared that the scandal would affect his image and asked for advice from the most experienced boss in the province.

The old man, Miguel Cano Blanco, was familiar with local customs and situations and suggested to his namesake that he grab his lover by the hand and take her everywhere. For a couple of weeks there would be no talk of anything else in the city, but over time, the gossip would run out, people would end up getting used to the new normal, and his career would not be affected. Creative resistance, is what Cano Blanco recommended. Lis Cuesta would take his advice to the letter, to this day. continue reading

There’s not even a shadow left of that guy I once met in Holguín. His face has hardened, giving him a robotic appearance. Paranoia has made his hair turn white in a very short time, and his belly increased at the same rate as his blunders. Pigeons never landed on the new dictator’s shoulder, only vultures. The crash of a passenger plane, a tornado in Havana, the pandemic, the explosion of the Saratoga Hotel and the fire at the Supertanker Base at Matanzas are just a few examples of the unluckiness (salao) that is Díaz-Canel, according to his own words.

But not everything has been a consequence of misfortune. His obstinacy in giving continuity to a perverse and dysfunctional model makes him a direct culprit for the destitution suffered by the Cuban people. The Ordering Task* was a catastrophe and plunged the country into unbridled inflation. And his international policy has placed Cuba on the side of the most infamous causes, such as Putin’s imperialist war and Daniel Ortega’s criminal extremism.

This has also been a five-year period of protests. On July 11, 2021, more than 40 cities took to the streets in a domino effect, and Díaz-Canel decided to stain his hands with blood. His combat order unleashed violence that left a young man shot in the back and killed, several wounded and more than a thousand political prisoners. The 11J was a definitive watershed moment, and the dictator earned the worst nicknames in Cuba’s history.

Then would come the biggest migratory wave of all time in the archipelago, a mass exodus that has left the country without young people and without a future. The popular disenchantment has been clearly reflected in the polls. The regime’s placebo votes have recorded the highest rates of abstention, apathy and rejection.

It is clear that his government has been disastrous. Not even in healthcare, which has always been the regime’s banner, can they boast of anything. His plan to build 1.7 homes a day per municipality went by the wayside. And Parliament itself gave him a standing ovation when he confessed that his management was a disaster.

In any democratic country, someone with his record would have already resigned or would be swept from power at the polls. But Cuba is a dictatorship. Díaz-Canel has received the order to hold the fort as long as Raúl is alive. And no one would be surprised if his name, on April 19, is again the only option on the deputies’ ballot.

*Translator’s note: The “Ordering Task” [Tarea Ordenamiento] is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy.

Translator: Hombre de Paz


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

Miguel Diaz-Canel, the Most Faithful Servant

Miguel Díaz-Canel and his Russian counterpart, Vladímir Putin, in front of the statue of Fidel Castro unveiled in November in Moscow (EFE/EPA/Sergei Savostyanov)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corvo, Miami, 13 February 2022 — In the late 1990s, times when spy Ana Belén Montes successfully insisted that Castroism was not dangerous for the United States — an assertion that resonated with some US officials who have always looked on the island dictatorship with fondness — a considerable number of Cubans rejected that assertion, arguing that the aggressive nature of the regime did not allow it to overlook any opportunity that would allow it to affect US interests.

However, everything seemed to indicate that after Fidel Castro’s death, the imperialist influence of the project he sponsored would lose momentum. This because, during Raúl Castro’s term of office, there was a notable decrease in Cuba’s participation in the international arena. This a situation that has been slowly changing since the hand-picked dictator, Miguel Díaz-Canel, “received,” at least apparently, “the baton,” as the head of government was identified by the compatriots of the beginning of the last century.

Island totalitarianism has taken at least two particularly intense initiatives. One towards the interior of the country, through which it controls power and the other towards the exterior, in order to gain political clients and associates, who have been particularly useful to it over the years. In addition, the Castro regime has masterfully used its real or supposed successes abroad, making them an essential part of its coliseum or circus with the aim of manipulating the population, aware of the chauvinistic vision that many Cubans suffer from. continue reading

Díaz-Canel’s first trip as head of Cuba’s failed state was to Venezuela, a visit that ensures the mutual dependence of both regimes. The island supplies repressive experience and social control and Caracas continues to provide vital oil. This was shown by an agency report that the Venezuelan government bought approximately 440 million dollars worth of crude oil abroad and shipped it to Cuban ports under very favorable payment conditions.

There is no doubt: it is increasingly easy to conclude that the ties between these countries are a kind of parody of the relations between Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both autocrats of the same ilk.

It must be acknowledged that the hand-picked President is adapting to the times and, contrary to what his predecessors did, he travels with his wife, Lis Cuesta, who, it seems, enjoys the advantages of being the “First Combatant” as they say in our beloved Venezuela.

To this difference with the Castro brothers we must add a similarity, and that is that the despot travels with a bodyguard who, moreover, is his stepson, a situation that shows that nepotism is a constant in that old dictatorship.

The island’s press, always loyal to the boss, has highlighted Díaz-Canel’s numerous trips abroad since he was appointed dictator, describing him as “tireless president,” a title not as distinguished as those granted to Fidel Castro.

The international exposure of this most faithful servant, a label deserved because he took other distinguished vassals out of the game, such as Carlos Lage, Roberto Robaina and Felipe Pérez Roque, among others, has been constant, if we bear in mind that in his first eight months in office he made 11 trips abroad. He demonstrated on one of them, to Jamaica, that he is as much a liar as the Castro brothers, because he brazenly said that Cuba was “perfecting socialism” and building a “prosperous and sustainable” nation, while in his appearance at the United Nations he spoke cynically about his commitment to fight chronic hunger, a constant in his government, as in that of his benefactors.

One of his most recent trips was to Algeria, Russia, Turkey and China, countries he visited in search of vital aid for his regime, while reiterating to Colonel Vladimir Putin his unrestricted support for the invasion of Ukraine, a support that Kiev should evaluate, if it is true that “the friend of my enemy is my enemy”.

Díaz-Canel is irredeemably faithful to the Castroist route of being an ally of countries hostile to the United States, as evidenced by the Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit to the Cuban capital and Pyongyang’s vaunted and invincible friendship with Havana.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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

Some 325,000 Cubans Left the Country, and Only 95,000 Were Born on the Island

Cuban authorities estimate that if families find caregivers for their children from a very young age, there will be more women in the labor market. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 14 February 2023 — Cuba once again breaks its own record and achieves, in 2022, the lowest historical number of births in relative terms with 95,000, some 4,000 less than in 2021, the year in which 99,096 Cubans came into the world. The data became known this Monday through state television, which covered a meeting headed by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, and which has been echoed by the country’s main media without revealing that number.

The official state newspaper Granma alludes to the “data shared at the meeting by Juan Carlos Alfonso Fraga, deputy chief of the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI),” without providing them, although it anticipates what the public already intuits, that “they are related to a decrease in the working age population and the economically active population, the increase in urbanization, despite the decrease in the urban population, and the average number of persons per household.”

ONEI was to have carried out Cuba’s population census in 2022, which, as in most countries, is conducted every ten years. Although it was initially scheduled to be carried out in September, Diego Enrique González Galbán, director of the Center for Population and Development Studies, confirmed in June that it was postponed due to lack of the necessary conditions and nothing more has been heard.

On that occasion, the official stated that the authorities were in possession of “consistent population figures every year, with a breakdown by sex and age, and openings at the national, provincial and municipal levels, as well as urban and rural areas.” According to these data, in March 2022, the Island had a population of 11,105,814, although the figure is flawed, since the hundreds of thousands of people who have emigrated in recent years have not been subtracted. According to the Migratory Law, Cubans lose their residency if they remain more than 24 months outside the Island, but by virtue of an exception created during the pandemic for those who could not return, currently the term is automatically extended. continue reading

The forecast, made years ago by the authorities, was that the population would decrease by more than 203,111 people by 2025, although the worsening of living conditions has accelerated — in the absence of figures — the demographic collapse. According to those calculations, already overtaken, about 26% of the population will soon be over 60 years old and those over 80, the age of life expectancy on the island, is expected to increase significantly.

Although the data on the country’s complicated demographic evolution are not yet available to the public, it has emerged from the committee’s meeting that the budget allocated to meet the needs of this growing population group will have to be increased. The budget is 869,670,000 pesos higher than last year’s and amounts to 2,113,000,000 pesos.

Among the priority issues to which the money will be allocated are dental and hearing prostheses, care for infertile couples and the modernization of equipment in assisted reproduction centers. In addition, there are also resources for the construction and maintenance of children’s circles, homes for the elderly and mothers, as well as homes for grandparents and for women with three or more children.

The situation, in particular, of the children’s daycare centers is worrying, since to date only 47% of the applications for places for the 2022-2023 school year have been granted, and 29,061 of the 53,447 applications submitted are still pending.

María de los Ángeles Gallo Sánchez, director of Early Childhood of the Ministry of Education, said that options are being sought to expand capacities, among them classrooms in primary schools and children’s houses, a modality that, according to the official, has not been “embraced” in the country, since there are only 67 on the Island with 2,187 places, with several provinces — which ones she did not specify — that lack them completely.

Marrero pointed out that the Ministry of Education has the most childcare centers, despite the call to other entities to support them with places in the children’s circles. “Everybody has to know the needs of their workers and look for solutions within the framework of this year,” urged the prime minister, who pointed out that just anyone cannot afford to pay for the child care services offered by self-employed workers.

“This is productive, because that mother eliminates one worry, goes to work and is more efficient, there is more family harmony, this is demographic dynamics,” said the leader.

The meeting also saw the presentation of a “Geriatrics and Gerontology Evaluation Kit” for medical centers containing a glucometer, digital blood pressure monitor and an oximeter, among other diagnostic and control tools, all of which are manufactured in Chile.

“This is a tremendous idea, a dream of what we want to have in all places, this is a basic module of what any center of attention to the population should have, because it is not only for the sick, it is also for studying the population, early diagnosis and follow-up,” said José Ángel Portal Mirada, Minister of Public Health, about these products commonly used in pharmacies and clinics outside Cuba.

According to the official press, the meeting was attended by Antonio Aja Díaz, director of the Center for Demographic Studies of the University of Havana, who “called attention to the need to ’make the information systematically provided on demographic dynamics our own, not only to know it, but also to master and control what each policy contributes to change that reality’.” In spite of this, the government has not made these indicators known to the population.

“Demographic issues are going to be solved in the medium and long term, and that is something important, we cannot be discouraged,” added the official with striking optimism in the midst of the largest exodus that has taken place on the island in the last 60 years.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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

Fidel Castro: Bury the Myth With the Ashes / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Fidel Castro photographed in front of a portrait of José Martí.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 25 November 2022 — Now in the middle of my life, a little older, perhaps a little wiser, I reread with new eyes that sight. If it was ever otherwise, I have already forgotten it, but now, with the mists of the past gone, behind those eyes I see only a coward. Much has been written about the traits necessary for someone to impose himself over millions of fellow countrymen who, having had a choice, have ended up fatally following him, only to pay dearly for it later. Rivers of ink have flowed in an attempt to explain what to a large extent continues to be an elusive matter, but in the specific case of Fidel Castro, we Cubans can draw modest conclusions.

Did Fidel Castro prevail because he was the most intelligent? No; pre-revolutionary Cuba was abundant in spirits of the highest caliber that shone at the continental and world level in almost all areas of knowledge and letters — just naming them would make this post endless — without any of them having nested in such a twisted mind. Did he impose himself then because he was the most audacious, perhaps the bravest? It is hard to believe it when it is known that during the Moncada action he did not even have the courage to get out of the car while the advanced group did have enough courage and paid for it with their lives.

If we are going to talk about audacity and daring, Cuban history is rich in examples, and we would not have to go that far and remember the Generalissimo who, fighting in the front line, had two horsed killed in the same battle, since machete in hand, he used to fight hand to hand like any other soldier; or the Bronze Titan who was killed after being shot 27 times.

To speak of daring and courage it would be enough to recall that group of the Directorio with Echevarría at the head executing the most audacious coup of the Cuban Revolution in the heart of bloody Havana where the most rabid dogs of the Batistato [Batista dictatorship] were roaming; that’s what I call having balls and not giving orders from the rear as Fidel Castro always did, posing with his little rifle in the Sierra or later jumping from a tank at Girón in front of Korda’s opportune lens, always after the cease-fire, always so photogenic and so light, so safe. continue reading

Did he stay in power for more than half a century because he was a brilliant economist who developed the country? A look at our desolate poverty after 30 years of squandered subsidies is enough as a definitive answer. Or was it thanks to his extraordinary eloquence, facing solid reasons and arguments before a free parliament? Never, not once! Was he ever exposed to a real popular scrutiny, regardless of pressures, where Liborio did not risk his job, the expulsion of a son from the campus “of the revolutionaries” or his own freedom? He never had the guts for so much!

All that unnatural and sickly power was exercised in the most vile way by a coward behind a totalitarianism designed to suit him, and it is here where our questions lead to the simplest answer: It was enough with the mixture of a textbook narcissism, of a total unscrupulousness that allowed him to betray without keeping loyalties and of an ambition without limits, added to a complete disregard for the suffering of others, to explain the success of Fidel Castro, in short, the typical signs of a full-fledged psychopath who arrived at the exact moment to the candid world of the 60’s resulting in that fatal mixture that still keeps alive to some extent the unfounded myth of the bearded avenger.

Does Fidel live? Yes, undoubtedly, as the manager of the incomprehensible hatred that still encourages the imbecile fanatic to perpetrate the repudiation rally ordered by others who fill their pockets in the shadows, the idiot turned into a non-thinking being, into a spearhead that perpetuates his own misery and in spite of everything does not realize that he is only the guardian of the Birán estate.

Yes, Fidel Castro still lives in our ruin, at our empty table, in our prisoners, because each political prisoner is a slap in the face of my people and a knock on the door that reminds every honest man in the world that Cuba lives in a state of disgrace, and that the order of combat heard from the mouth of the clown on duty that glorious July 11, 2021 was actually issued by the same Fidel Castro who, even in death, continues to fuck up our lives.

It has been 6 years since the monster descended into hell, but his legacy, his brutal and nefarious legacy of indignity that buries our rights under a heavy mantra of cynicism and terror, the definitive cardinal signs of the most refined and perfidious dictatorship known to this America of ours, so prodigal in phony tyrants, has been left behind.

Today, Fidel Castro continues to be the unburied corpse that roams the streets of Cuba, contaminating them with the stench of sulfur, and to bury him it will not be enough to grind him up and hide the dust behind the powder that stains the sacred soil of Santa Iphigenia: to definitively bury Fidel Castro it will be necessary to bury along with his ashes his myths, so that one day not far away any Cuban will be able to shout without fear loudly inside and outside Cuba that that man was, above all things a traitor and as such he will be described as such in the books that tomorrow’s children will read in a Cuba without tyrants.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba: November 2022 / Cubalex

Cubalex: Monthly Report for November 2022: Situation of Human Rights in Cuba

Cubalex, 27 December 2022 — The critical human rights situation in Cuba worsened during the month of November 2022. It was a period marked by the Cuba-United States bilateral negotiations, the municipal elections and the sinking of a boat with migrants in the municipality of Bahía Honda (Artemisa province).

Sustained state repression and the inability of the authorities to meet basic social needs such as the supply of electricity, medicine and food continue to be the main obstacles for Cuban citizens to have access to a decent life.

Cubalex recorded incidents in 13 provinces and 38 municipalities of the country, Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba being the territories with the highest number of victims nationwide. The practices applied by State agents, although mostly selective and individualized, involve entire families. The use of criminal law as an instrument of repression and criminalization of fundamental rights, mainly against human rights defenders, is the most frequently used measure. The use of practices that constitute serious violations of human rights and that are susceptible of being considered torture techniques, a national and international crime, was maintained.

You may download our monthly report here.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

José Daniel Ferrer Beaten in Prison for Demanding Respect for his Personal Correspondence

Ana Belkis Ferrer García, sister of the opposition leader, explained what happened on December 9. (Image capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 December 2022 — Opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), has been the victim of a beating at the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba, the Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba charged in a statement. The activist protested against the violation of his correspondence, and the guards responded to his complaint with violence.

Ana Belkis Ferrer García, sister of the opposition leader, detailed in a transmission through the social network Facebook what happened on December 9, during the family visit that the activist received in the prison. The meeting was attended by his wife, Nelva Ismaray Ortega, and two of the dissident’s children, who witnessed the aggressive response of the guards.

“His little daughter, Victoria Fatima Ferrer, who ran to her father’s aid, was also assaulted, as was his wife Nelva. The psychological consequences of this unleashed violence will have a lasting and probably devastating impact on these young children,” the Council added in its statement.

The violence against Ferrer occurred after his wife told him that on November 30, after attending the conjugal visit, she was detained, and the guards confiscated the correspondence that the opposition leader had given her. They read the letters and  “returned only some of them but kept the others,” according to the opposition leader’s sister. continue reading

Upon learning of this, Ferrer demanded the right of respect for his correspondence in front of the two guards who had been listening all the time to what he was talking about with his family. When the UNPACU leader complained, they began to beat him. “One held him down and the other hit him hard. Fatima, José Daniel’s daughter, tried to intervene to stop them from hitting her father, and they pushed her.

The activist was immobilized. “They covered his mouth because he began to shout ’Down with Raúl Castro, Down with Díaz-Canel, Down with the dictatorship!’ They threw him to the floor,” his sister said. Before he was taken out of the visiting room, the opposition leader managed to tell his wife that he was going on a hunger strike because of the violation of his correspondence and the non-compliance with his phone-call schedule.

For Ana Belkis Ferrer García, the reason for the restrictions on her brother’s phone calls is to prevent “him from making the complaints he made in those few minutes.” She explains that the opposition leader has been in a detention cell for 16 months “in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions. Since he is on a hunger strike, they have taken away all his belongings,” she complains.

“José Daniel Ferrer must be released immediately and unconditionally, in the same way as all political prisoners. All of them are innocent. Amnesty, which is supported by the citizenry, is an appropriate way, supported by the international community that defends human rights,” says the Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba in its texts, and it also demands that “the perpetrators, uniformed or not, be punished for this atrocious and barbaric display of violence.”

Ferrer is one of nearly 1,000 political prisoners being held by the regime since the mass protests of July 11, 2021, or after the demonstrations of recent months.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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

‘We Were Not Aware of All the Terrible Crimes Attributed to Castro’

The photograph of the Cuban dictator, smiling while smoking and revealing a Rolex under his sleeve, was denounced by singer Aymée Nuviola. (Capture/Instagram)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 October 2022 — The Lepple jewelry store, located in the German city of Esslingen am Neckar, in the region of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg state, apologized Thursday for having used an image of Fidel Castro to promote the luxury watch brand Rolex.

“The portrait of Fidel Castro has been removed and discarded this Thursday morning,” Lepple’s owner assured 14ymedio. “We were not aware of all the terrible crimes attributed to Castro and we have made sure that this image will never again be used in any promotion or activity of the store,” he explained.

He clarified that the Rolex brand had nothing to do with the use of the image, nor had he recommended its use in Leppel’s showcase. Neither the photograph nor Fidel Castro “are involved in any way with Rolex”.

“We send our deepest apologies to those who may have been offended by our use of this image,” he concluded.

The photograph of the Cuban dictator, smiling while smoking and revealing a Rolex under his sleeve, was denounced on her social networks by singer Aymée Nuviola, who discovered it while strolling through Esslingen. continue reading

It is no surprise that Castro is associated with all kinds of products, including luxury ones, which some brands and establishments, both on the island and worldwide, take advantage of for advertising. The most emblematic product is undoubtedly the Cohiba cigar and its various products, which Castro had manufactured in 1967 to entertain leaders and diplomats allied with the regime, and which has just generated almost three million euros in revenues for Habanos, S.A.

Revolution watch magazine published an article in 2018 that explored Castro’s relationships with “the Crown,” the symbol of Rolex. Several photographs show him wearing the celebrated Rolex Submariner 5513, which he used for scuba diving, one of his favorite pastimes.

Also, like the Cohiba cigar, Castro used to give watches of this brand to prominent officials and loyal agents. This is attested to by the testimony of Norberto Fuentes in his book Dulces guerreros cubanos [Sweet Cuban Warriors] (1999), which refers to the “disgraceful Cuban wearers of Rolexes,” himself among them.

“The Rolexes displayed from the windows of the Ladas fulfilled an important assignment,” Fuentes said of the “top brass” of the regime. “They were the attributes, the insignia. They fulfilled the important task of enhancing our dignity, which — like all legitimate dignity — is physical. The crème de la crème of the fraternity of the revolutionary combatants.”

The attachment of the leaders of the revolution to their Rolexes was such that when Ernesto Guevara was captured in Bolivia in 1967, the Argentinean was wearing two of these watches on his wrist. One belonged to a dead commander, the other was his own. One of Guevara’s last requests to Captain Gary Prado, the Bolivian military officer who captured him, was to guard his watches for when he was released.

Some time later, in 1983, Prado sent the Argentinean’s watch to his family in Havana. In exchange for the souvenir, the Castro government gave him a new Rolex.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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

In Miami, they Support the Protests in Cuba and Ask the US Not to Give Aid to the Regime

A group of people demonstrated in support of Cubans on the island this Sunday in Miami. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana/Miami, 3 October 2022 – – A group of Cubans living in Miami gathered this Sunday in front of the Versailles Restaurant to support the protests that have been taking place on the island since the electrical system collapsed after the passage of Hurricane Ian, leaving millions of citizens without service. The Internet cuts began in order to prevent communication and dissemination of the demonstrations and their repression.

Among those gathered in front of the legendary Florida restaurant were historical opponents such as former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, Antúnez, and Cuba Decide leader Rosa María Payá; along with other recently arrived opponents such as rapper Eliecer Márquez Duany, El Funky, graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, independent journalist Esteban Rodríguez, and boxer Yordenis Ugás. In addition, actor Roberto San Martín and influencer Alexander Otaola were also present.

Together with them, more than 200 Cuban exiles called on the international community not to abandon Cuba in the face of repression and called on Joe Biden’s Administration to take a strong stand against the Cuban regime and refuse to send aid.

In a brief speech, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and the promoter of the Varela Project, Oswaldo Paya, insisted that the aid that Castroism is asking the U.S. government for should not be provided, since the people have taken to the streets to demand freedom and not business or aid. “Business will come when Cuba is free,” cried the activist, who added that the opposition will help at that time. continue reading

Payá insisted that it is necessary to send a message to the Biden Administration that there should be no rapprochement that would legitimize the dictatorship and would not change anything for the population.

Among the demonstrators, some called for military intervention in Cuba, although most showed their solidarity with the protests and support for those who are in the streets of the island standing up to the authorities. “If Cuba is in the streets, so is Miami,” they chanted.

Many of those who gathered this Sunday in front of the Versailles were recent arrivals to the U.S. who were telling each other about their journey through Nicaragua. There were also some who were still fearful of the presence of several police units guarding the peaceful development of the rally, although the more experienced ones asked for calm. “The police are here to take care of us,” they said to each other.

Meanwhile, this Sunday night Cubans went out again in several cities, according to videos that circulated on social networks. From Punta Brava and Santiago de las Vegas, in the Havana municipalities of La Lisa and Boyeros or Capellanía, in Artemisa, came testimonies of different pots and pans in which people shouted “We want the lights”.

According to the organization Justicia 11J, since September 30 there have been 20 arrests of participants in these protests, 14 of whom are still in detention.

“About 15 people [were] detained over last night’s protests in Linea Street, Vedado and Arroyo Arenas,” in Havana, as well as in Baracoa, the collective said on Twitter. They are in addition to five arrests in previous days.

Although the relatives “have been told that the demonstrators will soon be released”, some of those who were detained in Vedado have been transferred to the Technical Department of Investigations (DTI), where suspects are usually taken for prosecution.

Justice 11J also reports that five protesters from Havana, Villa Clara and Guantanamo have already been released.

In addition, the organization Amnesty International (AI) charged on Sunday that “protests are intensifying in Cuba” and that they are receiving “reports of repression, possible detentions and Internet cuts”.

“We demand that the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel put an end to the repression, and listen to the demands of those who protest peacefully,” AI stressed on Twitter.

Hurricane Ian crossed the western tip of Cuba from south to north on Tuesday, with heavy rains and winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour, causing heavy material damage and five deaths, according to the latest official balance published on Sunday.

The Cuban Electric Union (UNE) multiplied this weekend its announcements of new electric circuits reestablished, but outages and blackouts continue without it being possible to distinguish whether they are a consequence of the major breakdown last Tuesday or of the months of generation deficit accumulated by the system due to the continuous breakdowns of thermoelectric plants and distributed generating plants.

In Havana, UNE has reported that 95.3% of customers now have electricity, but there is still no service in some parts of the city. Regarding water supply, at a meeting of the Government of Havana it was said that 92% of the population is receiving service, with 170,000 customers pending.

On the other hand, the restoration of services is extremely slow in the province of Pinar del Río, the most affected by the hurricane, where only 7% of the 235,311 customers have electricity service and, according to the authorities, the situation will be normalized within 15 to 20 days.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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

Where is the Cuban Embargo/Blockade?

A billboard in Cuba demanding “Down with the blockade” and vowing “Fatherland or Death”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 30 April 2022 — Where is the embargo? Day in and day out, the communist leaders parade the intensification of the U.S. embargo/blockade as the origin of all the ills of the Cuban economy. And it turns out that these leaders contradict the news published by the official press of the regime.

The State newspaper Granma boasts in the run-up to May 1st of the signing of no less than 18 agreements this past week by the Castro consortium BioCubaFarma with Cuban and foreign entities.

I insist: where is the embargo? If this fiction created by the Cuban communists to hide their responsibilities really existed, this type of agreement would be impracticable, impossible. But no. The 18 agreements between companies of the BioCubaFarma group and Cuban and foreign entities indicate that there is no restriction whatsoever for Cuba to trade, receive investments, capital or any type of aid from 192 countries in the world.

There is, however, a dispute with the United States that regulates the scope of relations between the two countries, which, moreover, has its well-defined origin in the practices of the communist regime towards its northern neighbor, which has refused from the beginning to negotiate.

Nevertheless, BioCubaFarma’s agreements are implemented, as are the agreements with Vietnam, with Spanish hoteliers, Canadian or Dutch miners, etc. The Cuban economy is one of the most open in the world, receives donations from numerous countries that support the “revolution” and establishes, when it deems it convenient, the most controversial alliances, as in this case, in the field of biotechnology.

The agreements, moreover, have not fallen from the sky. They have been well worked out, despite the “threat” of the embargo, and have been presented as one of the results of the BioHabana-2022 International Congress, which concluded last Friday. Someone from the organizing committee of the congress told Granma “we exceeded a thousand participants, including Cubans and foreigners from 51 countries, although 10% participated virtually; in addition, more than 600 papers were presented in conferences, short oral presentations and posters.” continue reading

Indeed, it is very difficult for a blockaded or embargoed country to hold this type of international congresses, even to promote conference tourism, which is catered for in the formidable luxury hotels of the capital, close to the collapsed buildings, the destroyed streets and the rubble plots of that marvel that was long ago the world’ s old Havana.

Other information published in Granma that questions the embargo is the agreement signed by Cuba and Argentina concerning the housing sector, after the celebration of the XIII International Construction Fair Fecons-2022, which concluded this Friday.

This was a convention aimed at improving the production of construction materials in Cuba, with the participation of state-owned and foreign companies, non-agricultural cooperatives and MSMEs. There they talked about goods needed for Cuba to boost its industrial and housing construction sector, such as plaster, mortars, additives, and the repair and maintenance of equipment, and new investments in technology to achieve efficiency with a rational use of the workforce, but with diligence.

But the event led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Argentina’s Ministry of Territorial Development and Habitat  and Cuba’s Ministry of Construction, with the reciprocal interest of promoting the economic progress and integration of Latin America and the Caribbean and collaboration in the housing sector.

Under this agreement, emphasis was given to the family of medium, fine and special pegaporcelain mortars; ceramic tiles decorated with digital printing; gray clinker for cement and the housing cell construction system. This is the embargo/blockade, one more example that the arguments used by the regime are not true.

For the record, this blog will never be against the Cuban economy maintaining its openness to the outside world and obtaining these types of agreements, and even better ones. Cuban biotechnology should advance as much as possible, since it is one of the technologies that encourage the development of the fourth industrial revolution. Betting on this sector could be an intelligent decision. And the same goes for the manufacture of construction materials, whose scarce production has forced the regime to increase its prices significantly.

What we will always denounce in this blog is that the ills of the Cuban economy are attributed to something that does not exist, the embargo/blockade, or that only exists in the imagination of a regime that lives on confrontation and provocation to its northern neighbor since Fidel Castro’s visit to the Teresa Hotel in Harlem in 1959.

A lot of rain has fallen since then, but if in anything in the expectations of the communist regime devised by Fidel Castro have been exceeded, it has been in the field of the embargo/blockade fiction, of which these Granma articles are a good example, of course, of the very opposite.

The embargo/blockade propaganda has worked for the Cuban communists for more than 60 years. It is true that when the multimillion dollar subsidies from the former USSR used to flow in, nobody remembered it, but the sign of the times shows that the relations between two neighbors, which were built by geopolitics since colonial times, were destroyed by the communist regime as soon as it came to power, and this for its own benefit, even if it was detrimental to the interests of the Cuban people.

It is difficult to find a similar process in any other country in the world.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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.

Two Jurists Harassed by State Security Leave Cuba

Cuban Activist Fernando Almeyda is in Belgrade, Serbia. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2022 — Cuban activist Fernando Almeyda joined this weekend the list of dissidents who are leaving the island. After requesting a humanitarian visa from Spain, which was not granted, the former Archipiélago coordinator decided to go to Serbia, a country that currently does not require a visa for Cubans, although his intention does not seem to be to remain in the Balkan country, according to an interview published by Cubanet on Monday.

Almeyda, who participated in the July 11 protests and later joined the Archipiélago collective — which he left after Yunior García Aguilera’s abrupt departure from Cuba — argues that he never had any real intention of developing his professional career on the island and that since he graduated as a lawyer he wanted to go into exile so as not to be part of the system. The activist emphasizes that his job position led him to a lack of money, which at the same time delayed his departure.

His final departure comes now, because, he states, he has been suffering repression, harassment, persecution and threats from the State Security for months. “I was very afraid, an atrocious fear, and I even tried to find a way to flee and seek asylum, but always after 15N [November 15], never before,” he explains. What happened with the Marcha Cívica por el Cambio (Civic March for Change) and the arrests that took place led him to speed up his procedures and initiate the application for a humanitarian visa to Spain in December, a document that is granted only in cases of emergency and which was denied.

Almeyda decided to travel to Europe, with a flight to Belgrade, where he does not plan to apply for asylum, but rather for temporary residence, which indicates that his intention is to travel to another destination, probably Spain. continue reading

The opposition leader also explains in the interview how he came to activism through the San Isidro Movement, to which he attributes the ability to break with the classic forms of opposition in Cuba, which until 2018, he says, were things of political parties “sometimes tending to extremism and opposed to each other. The exile was divorced from the Cuban reality and Cubans did not even know what was being said or did not even care.”

The lawyer then gives an account of the events that followed the police raid on the MSI headquarters, the protest of 27 November and the spontaneous demonstrations in July, in which he participated, even receiving a stoning. At that time, he says, he was already in the crosshairs of State Security.

Almeyda maintains that since he took the initiative to leave Cuba, he has been in “semi-clandestine status,” although he did not hide completely and he attended some public activities.

To Almeyda’s departure should be added that of another jurist, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada, whose destination is unknown so far. Professor at the University of Havana in 2016, the lawyer was expelled for his texts critical of power, and was currently collaborating with several independent press media.

“Today he left Cuba, where he was not allowed to work for years, a great friend, one of the best people I know and an intellectual who sacrificed his career for his civism. Good luck wherever you go dear Julio Antonio Fernandez Estrada. Cuba does not lose you because it will always be in your thoughts and in your heart”, commented historian Alina Bárbara López Hernández.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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.

Descemer and Emilio Estefan: ‘Patria y Vida’ Symbolizes the Unity for Freedom in Cuba

The composers of ’Patria y Vida’ are now celebrating the first anniversary of a leading song in Cuba’s recent history. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio)– Musicians Descemer Bueno and Emilio Estefan told EFE on Tuesday that the song Patria y vida [Homeland and Life], which has become an anthem of the struggle for freedom in Cuba, represents the unity of the Cuban people in favor of a dream, that of recovering freedom on the island.

“A year ago a song was born through unity, a unity that captivated people with a message, a slogan, a vision of the future, all in one song. Through the very inspiration of the verse that each one contributed and seduced all those whose hearts pound to see a different Cuba,” said Descemer Bueno, one of the six performers and composers of the song.

The famous musician and producer who has lived in Miami for decades agreed with him, indicating that in the “heart” of the exile and dissidents “there is only one country” and they all want freedom in Cuba, as demanded by the authors of the song.

On February 16, 2021 the video with the song was posted on YouTube as just one more music release of the day, but it ended up becoming the anthem of the historic protests that broke out in Cuba on July 11, 2021.

Descemer said that this song, winner of two Latin Grammys, including Song of the Year, “was born to remain in history as the tattoo on the body of freedom.” continue reading

But not without risk, because, as Estefan himself pointed out, the “courage” shown by the singers of the song (Yotuel Romero, the duo Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, El Funky and Maykel Osorbo) was great, because, he said, it is one thing to protest from exile and quite another to do it from the island itself.

A good example of this is that the rapper Osorbo is still imprisoned in Pinar del Río for “attempting public disorder and eluding.”

But even so, Estefan stressed, they broke the “chain” and sent a message of “hope” that the young people of the island embraced and encouraged them to take to the streets in protest.

He celebrated the fact that in this case the authors realized that “it is not about oneself, but about leaving a legacy of freedom to the country,” and said he was “very proud” of what they did.

“This is a historic moment, a rebellion of people who were born on the island and who have reached a point where they cannot resist what is happening,” said Gloria Estefan’s husband, singer of songs about Cuba such as Mi Tierra, Oye mi Canto and Cuba Libre.

Estefan said that in the future there will be other examples like those experienced on the island in the past year, but not only with music, but also with displays of “rebellion” in the streets: “You will see that the music will continue, that people will have more courage.”

Because the music producer believes that on the least expected day the protests of last summer will be repeated on the island “but in a more massive way,” and on that day the Cuban people will give a “great example to the world of how a country recovers.”

Meanwhile, Descemer believes that Patria y vida represents their struggle for freedom throughout the world and allows them to “have expectations and hopes”.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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.

U.S. Hires Cuban Personnel in Anticipation of Reopening its Consular Services

In the area surrounding the US Embassy, very close to Havana’s Malecón, life also seems to have come to a standstill and even regressed. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana/Washington, 4 February 2022 — Several job announcements recently posted on the official website of the U.S. Embassy in Havana have renewed expectations for an early reopening of consular services on the island.

A U.S. official source privately told 14ymedio that “even before the events of July 11, they were already studying the reopening of part of the consular services in Havana.” Likewise, and regarding remittances, the same source said that they are trying to find “a different path than the one the Cuban regime wants to impose”.

The official did not specify when these services would be reestablished, but the offer of jobs for security personnel, cashier’s assistants and travel and transportation supervisors indicates that this could occur in the first half of this year.

On Thursday, Cuban-American congresspeople Mario Díaz-Balart, María Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez signed a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, in which they express the need for the full reestablishment of consular services on the island. continue reading

In the letter, the three Republican representatives from Florida also request that priority be given to Cuban human rights defenders and advocates for democratic change, and to those with urgent humanitarian or medical needs.

“It was particularly insulting to many in our districts when agents of the regime and their favorites, such as professional baseball players, were able to access consular services on the island, while the vast majority of the most deserving Cubans were forced to travel to a third country at considerable expense,” they say in their text.

Salazar, Diaz-Balart and Gimenez also suggest that applicants be carefully screened to ensure that no human rights abusers can enter the United States.

They also asked Biden to resume as soon as possible the management of applications for the Cuban Family Reunification Permit Program (CFRP), which was put on hold in 2018, following health problems suffered by U.S. diplomats and mission staff due to the so-called “Havana syndrome,” which so far is unexplained.

To remedy the situation, the congresspeople noted, they introduced the bipartisan Family Reunification Modernization for Cubans Act of 2021, which authorizes the State Department in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, to resume processing CFRP applications.

The lawmakers also urged the president to carefully consider how security and other non-U.S. personnel are selected at the U.S. mission in Cuba.

The closure of consular procedures in Havana has forced thousands of people to travel to third countries to carry out their procedures there.

“My sister has been in Guyana for several weeks waiting for the interview to obtain her family reunification visa; that trip and the stay have already cost us $4,000,” Niurka Gómez, a Cuban living in Miami, explains to this newspaper.

“The closing of the consulate has mainly affected the Cuban people, made the whole process of traveling more expensive and separated families. I don’t think it has been positive for anyone,” Gómez adds.

Several dissidents and activists consulted by this newspaper agree that “never has U.S. diplomacy been more subdued on the island” in relation to civil society, cultural activities and other events. The two rooms that offered Internet access to Cuban citizens have been closed for several years and the library has not provided service all this time either.

In the vicinity of the Embassy, very close to Havana’s Malecón, life also seems to have come to a standstill and even declined. The private businesses in the area that used to sell snacks, watch over bags and fill out consular forms have closed down or are barely surviving, having been converted into other services.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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.