Mexico Will Send Cuba Two Ships With Medical Supplies and Food

SEMAR [Secretariat of the Navy] personnel ready the boats with aid to be sent to Cuba. (Video Capture)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 23 July 2021 — This Sunday, Mexico will send two vessels of the Secretariat of the Navy to Cuba with health aid such as syringes, T-type oxygen tanks with 9,500 liters and mouth coverings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said in a statement.

The shipment also includes foodstuffs — powdered milk, beans, wheat flour, cans of tuna, cooking oil — and diesel. The agency said that the assistance sent is “in line with the Mexican Government’s policy of international solidarity.”

The SRE’s announcement came on the same day that the U.S. government toughened its measures towards the island by sanctioning the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR), Alvaro Lopez-Miera, and the elite military unit known as the boinas negras [Black Berets], who it held responsible for the repression of the continue reading

anti-government protests of July 11 in Cuba.

In them, thousands of people shouted “freedom,” “down with the dictatorship,” and “homeland and life,” in the midst of an unprecedented economic and health crisis, and hundreds of people, including some minors, were arrested.

The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed its opposition to the U.S. sanctions and has called for them to be lifted.

Regarding the embargo on Cuba, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, after participating in a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council in mid-July, said: “The blockade on Cuba and other countries where extreme sanctions are applied are causing serious impacts in terms of suffering and humanitarian conditions that we should all respect.”

With the dispatch of the two vessels, the Mexican Foreign Minister pledged to send more oxygen and Mexican-made respirators, used during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, if needed.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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Cuba Is Yours

Demonstration this July 11 in Alqízar, Artemisa. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Federico Hernández Aguilar, San Salvador, 22 July 2021 — Cuba is yours, brother. This island belongs to you, sister. Your face is reflected in its waters. In the blue of its skies, the clouds of your dreams are roaming. But in this island land they have wanted — how redundant! — to isolate you, they have wanted to drown your voice for many years, to muzzle your conscience, to force you to embrace a destiny that was not, is not, has never been yours.

For more than six decades, equivalent to the entire life of a human being, hundreds, thousands of Cubans were born, grew up and died breathing a rarefied air, contaminated by the hegemonic discourse of a group of privileged people who came to believe they were eternally in power.

And yet, sister, brother: do you hear, do you perceive, have you seen how the wind has turned on the coasts, have you observed how intensely the sun has renewed itself on the horizon? On July 11, you turned history upside down. You made your footsteps echo from one corner to the other of the island that was always yours and whose possession you now claim.

They were so determined to instill fear in you that they ended up continue reading

snatching it away from you. They never knew how much strength they were giving to your yearning for freedom when they silenced you, when they locked you in cold dungeons, when they covered you with chains. Today they know. Today the fear is theirs.

You have taken the fear out of your little house and put it in their official residences. You no longer tremble; they do. Their power, once so immense, is now blurred, and you have achieved this by putting your feet on the street, joining the spontaneous march of others who have also discovered that the future belongs to them.

José Martí looks at you from the height of his white statue. His thought, lucid, crosses your memory and makes your lungs expand: “Like bones to the human body, the axle to the wheel, the wing to the bird, and the air to the wing, so is liberty the essence of life. Whatever is done without it is imperfect.”

And you have had enough of the imposed imperfections, of the undeserved poverty, of the hunger that eats away at the entrails, of the yearning, the longing, that eats away at the soul.

Martí watches. He greets your heroic deed with the power of a word that tyranny tried to usurp, but that today recovers its original brilliance in the cries of freedom that make your heart vibrate. That hero thus offers you the warmth of his breath; he affirms your ankles; he pushes you to the unprecedented struggle. And you watch him lean from his pedestal to whisper in your ear: “He who lives in an autocratic creed is the same as an oyster in its shell, which only sees the prison that encloses it and believes, in the dark, that this is the world; freedom gives wings to the oyster.”

And it is true, brother, sister of Cuba: you have grown wings. In vain did they think they were going to turn this island into your shell. In moments you have reached the elevation that Martí wished for the people for whom he bled to death at Dos Ríos. Between him and you there is a real, indestructible bridge, stronger than any ideology to connect your aspirations with those of every man or woman who loves and defends freedom, their own and that of others.

Cuba is yours, sister. The nation belongs to you, brother. It is present in that woman who demands bread for her children, in the rebelliousness of that young man who demands respect for his dreams, in the slogan of that group of poets, musicians, journalists, citizens who, together, shoulder to shoulder, go out today to the public square to chant the pair of words that is burying 62 years of opprobrium: “¡Patria Y Vida!” [Homeland and Life].

And so it is. Do not doubt it. Because life is yours, brother, sister of Cuba, yours will also be the homeland!

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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Cuba Needs a New Political Language, Says Filmmaker Fernando Perez

Filmmaker Fernando Pérez during an interview with this newspaper. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2021 — Cuban filmmaker Fernando Pérez said that to overcome the crisis in Cuba that led to the July 11 protests a “new political language” needs to be built without violence and without the dark “acts of repudiation,” he stressed in an interview with AFP news agency.

The multi-awarded director, winner of a Goya for his film La vida es silbar (1999) and the Biznaga de Oro award for best film for Últimos días en La Habana (2017), considered that with “the social crisis that the country is going through, there has to be an explosion, which I tell you, I don’t know how far it’s going to go”.

During his participation on November 27 in the demonstration of hundreds of artists and creators, which took place in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana to demand freedom of expression, he lamented the breakdown of dialogue. “I felt that something was really changing in our reality,” he told AFP, referring to the fact that the 300 participants in the protest “are asking for what I call a new language.”

For Pérez, a director who is very close to the new generations, they should not be “only of words but of attitudes, of solutions, of radical changes in our country”, for which he considered that they should include “freedom of expression, respect for those who think differently and open independent spaces, not only in art but also in other spheres of reality.” continue reading

The demonstrations, warned the Cuban filmmaker, respond to the “lack of that new language, of that new attitude of a country that has to open up to the participation of these young people, because they are not the future, they are the present”. They are the result of “the pandemic, the new order, the blockade…The phenomenon is there, what I saw in front of the Capitol. It is a rebellious attitude that I share”.

The multi-awarded director took time to talk about the contradictions of Cuban cinema. He defended, he said, the policy of “propaganda” to turn it into a “cultural fact”.

“The development of that policy has faced elements of freedom, of regression, of contradiction,” he said, referring to the so-called ’Five Grey Years’ between 1971 and 1976. A period in which “everything was confused, reduced to an ideological view, really very overwhelming, very closed, which has left very deep marks, some of which are irreparable.”

Pérez has been for many years the standard bearer of the new generations of filmmakers on the island, and in 2012 he resigned as director of the Muestra de Cine Joven, an annual meeting that brings together and disseminates proposals of new audiovisual creators. “Not being able to demonstrate in practice the inclusive coherence that I have proposed for the show, I have taken the personal decision not to continue at the head of it,” he said then and after several acts of official censorship.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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No News of Man Violently Arrested After Shouting ‘Libertad!’ at Official Rally in Cuba

So far, it is only known that Sánchez resides in Centro Habana but there is no information on whether he belongs to any dissident or human rights group. (Asiel Babastro/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 July 2021 — A man, identified as Ernesto Frank Sánchez Aguilar, shouted “libertad!” this Saturday shortly before the start of the official ceremony on Havana’s Malecon. The demonstrator was beaten and taken away from the place by several members of the State Security, as seen in a video released by the foreign press.

So far, it is only known that Sánchez resides in Centro Habana, but there is no information as to whether he belongs to any dissident or human rights group. His whereabouts are unknown after he was violently arrested in front of the cameras of the international media accredited at the event.

In a brief video that has been broadcast by several news agencies, you can see the moment in which Sánchez begins to shout and is surrounded by a mob of burly men who beat him and throw him to the ground. Seconds later, the man reappears continue reading

before the cameras subdued by two individuals and with his shirt visibly torn in the neck area.

Sánchez’s shouts occurred at a time when the rally, which began at the stroke of 7:00 a.m., had not yet begun and the sun had not yet risen. The man managed to circumvent the access controls to the rally area, which was surrounded by metal detectors and a strict operation. The students and workers summoned had to wear certain clothing in order to be identified as supporters of the government.

This is the brave anonymous person who shouted “Libertad” (Freedom) right in the middle of the theater they staged this morning on the Malecón…appreciate how peaceful these “revolutionaries” are.

Sanchez’s arrest adds to the hundreds of reports that have been coming out in recent days of arrests following the popular protests of last July 11. Authorities have raided the homes of numerous citizens throughout the country, especially in the areas where the demonstrations were most intense, such as Cárdenas, Havana, San Antonio de los Baños, Alquízar, Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba.

In all the rallies, shouts of “down with the dictatorship” and “freedom” were heard. The government cut the internet connection in the country to prevent Cubans from uploading to social networks videos of what was happening in the demonstrations and that also showed the repression of the participants.

On Monday and Tuesday protests were reported in different parts of the island, but the political police increased repression against demonstrators. Reports of violent house-to-house detentions multiplied on social networks.

On May 1, 2017, the international press accredited on the Island, also recorded in Havana’s Revolution Square, the moment when Daniel Llorente, later known as The Man With The Flag, stood out for his activism after the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States. A few meters from the rostrum where then President Raúl Castro was standing, Llorente raised the U.S. flag and shouted for freedom for Cuba. His run was interrupted by seven security agents who pounced on him and forcibly subdued him.

The opponent spent a few weeks in detention at the 100 y Aldabó prison but was quickly transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital popularly known as Mazorra. After a year he was released and emigrated to Guyana, from where he undertook the journey through several countries until he reached the USA and requested asylum.

Translated by: Hombre De Paz

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‘Lay Down Your Arms,’ Asks General Lopez-Calleja’s Nephew

Rodríguez Halley is an actor and an audiovisual creator. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 July 2021 — Carlos Alejandro Rodríguez Halley, nephew of General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, sent a strong message to his uncle and to the island’s power leadership: “Lay down your arms.” The young man called for the beginning of a “process of transition to democracy” after the protests that took place throughout the island in recent days.

López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s ex-son-in-law, although he has kept a low profile within the regime’s politics, is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, executive president of Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S. A. (Gaesa) and is considered by analysts as the man behind the economic power of the Castro family.

“At the moment I am not in Cuba, I left for fear of reprisals from my own family for projecting myself in my social networks in favor of human rights and continue reading

dialogue between intellectuals and artists with the government,” said Rodriguez Halley.

The young man said that his family is part of the power elite on the island and mentioned that his words were addressed to them, to the Cuban military, and with special emphasis he mentioned his uncle López-Calleja and his cousin Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, Raúl Castro’s grandson.

“I call for harmony and for them to lay down their arms. Let a process of transition to democracy begin in Cuba. The people have shown that they no longer want you in power, listen to your people,” he added.

Rodríguez Halley called for an end to violence, imprisonment and repression: “do not be responsible for more bloodshed.” The people demonstrated in the streets, he said, “that they do not agree with their government, a failed government that has led to a situation of health, economic, social and political crisis.”

Lopez-Calleja’s nephew also rejected the position of the island’s regime of blaming the U.S. Government for what is happening in the country. The U.S. Administration “has demonstrated that it is not going to intervene militarily in Cuba,” he said.

“Enough repression, lay down your arms. I make a call from the love I have for my family, for my country, for all Cubans and for humanity. Let us not forget that ’homeland is humanity’,” he concluded.

At the Eighth Party Congress held last April, López-Calleja was appointed a member of the Political Bureau. The military consortium Gaesa controls a large part of the tourism business and other strategic sectors on the island. Analysts had been predicting for years the military man’s rise to positions closer to the top of Cuban power.

Rodríguez Halley is an actor and audiovisual creator, and has worked in films such as Caballos, by Fabian Suárez and in 2019 he independently wrote and directed the short film Un chino cayó en un pozo, awarded a Diploma al Mérito by the jury of the Panama Human Rights Film Festival (BannabáFest).

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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I Am Cuban!

Willy Chirino and Alexis Valdés have created this new song with the collaboration of Arturo Sandoval. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eloy M. Viera Moren, Madrid, 20 March 2021 — A video clip posted on the internet a few days ago shows three young non-commissioned officers wearing uniforms of the Ministry of the Interior performing a song in response to the song Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life). The origin cannot be specified, but judging by the uniform of one of them, even equipped with the regulation whistle with its chain to the epaulette, they certainly seem to be members of the forces of law and order. Such an eyesore would not deserve a comment if it were not for the initial phrase: “Sixty years of this great nation; 62 of this Revolution”.

First, dressing up as police to intimidate by this music those Cubans who think differently is absolutely anti-national, and sounds more like the dogs in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, who disappeared as puppies and then became the dangerous bodyguards of the pig Napoleon when he came to power.

In order to define Cubanness, it is indispensable to turn to Fernando Ortiz. Among his works and articles on the subject, he conceived it as a “condition of the soul” that requires “the conscience of being Cuban and the will of wanting to be Cuban”; no other reference to place of residence, ideological preference or political thought. Likewise, he denounced that “our synthetic intellectual characteristic is ignorance” — an epithet more characteristic of the young authors of the song, to say the least. continue reading

On March 15, the same day on which the laughing stock was released, another piece by Alexis Valdés was premiered, sung as a duet with Willy Chirino, accompanied by a group of Cuban musicians, including a brief performance by composer and performer Arturo Sandoval. As far as I know, the idea arose during the presentation by these and other artists sponsored by several members of the European Parliament in order denounce the hardships of the Cuban people. Sixteen days later it was released, despite the urgency, a true offering to the nation from the feelings of quality and enduring.

With a fusion of genres, it has, however, the flavor of a son Cubano. Sandoval’s virtuosity in his brief solo spiced up the performance in the best tradition of his brilliant predecessors Félix Chapottín, the Louis Armstrong of the son Cubano, or Julio Cueva, who made Paris vibrate with the conga.

All of them outstanding trumpet players, Chapottín had no known political affiliation, Julio was a consistent communist (by the way, he died in Havana in 1975, submerged in anonymity) and Sandoval considers Marxism to be one of the greatest misfortunes suffered by this country in its history. All of them are Cuban and qualify among the most apt to express Cubanness through music.

Our oligarchs, masters of populism, have been capable of erasing genuine exponents of popular music such as Sandoval or Chirino from broadcasting, just for thinking differently. When to this is added an “excessive professionalism” (I quote Ecured, the Cuban official platform), the musician becomes absolutely unknown. Such a qualification is found in the page dedicated to Aurelio de la Vega, universally known as composer, instructor and orchestra conductor, described as “colossus of Cuba and the world” in the Diario Las Américas.

With more than 90 years of active life, he has been forced to spend 62 of them in exile because he considers that Cuba suffers from “a totalitarian communist government with a capitalist business system.” The criticism of his professionalism is due to the cultivation of atonalism as a tendency in many of his compositions, as if the work of Harold Gramatges, who held prominent positions in the communist leadership of culture, were not equally complex.

The ruckus motivated by Patria y Vida has generated, on the one hand, a significant amount of responses from the government, mostly marked by mediocrity; and on the other hand, the aforementioned composition, which was made with skill and professionalism. Disregarding likes, dislikes and even “data mining”, this ideological battle has been lost by the Cuban government.

The reason is that talent cannot be forced (not even with money) to generate lasting works, even less from a false and insubstantial patriotic feeling. An eloquent testimony of this nervousness is the newspaper Granma’s announcement, 25 days after the premiere of Patria y Vida, about the inclusion of the topic “political-ideological subversion on the internet” among the issues to be discussed at the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.

As genuine an expression of Cubanness is the work of the communist Julio Cueva with his Tingo talango, as the most elaborate of Arturo Sandoval, to the definitely atonal and complex of Aurelio de la Vega. We are all equally Cuban by the will of wanting to be so, although motivated by a similar diversity of possible worldviews. For the time being, with much good Cuban music still to be heard, I say goodbye, along with Valdés and Chirino: “I am Cuban, and no one will be able to take away my being Cuban”.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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The Marxist Philosophical Roots of Repression

In the most elementary courses of Marxism-Leninism one learns that in society there are antagonistic contradictions that can only be solved through the violence that generates a revolution. (Minrex)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 February 2021 — Many find it hard to believe, or understand, how it is possible that the ideas of such cool and sexy thinkers as Marx and Engels can be used to justify such decadent (cheas) attitudes as repressing young creators, holding rallies of repudiation or prohibiting the free exercise of professional activities and the independent dissemination of information and opinions in journalism.

Where does the deep justification come from; to what philosophical concept can be anchored the unbridled repression whose most “subtle and sophisticated” expression is articulated in national television programs where those who think differently are grossly denigrated, without the right to reply?

In the most elementary courses on Marxism-Leninism, after studying the three fundamental laws of dialectics, one learns that in society there are antagonistic contradictions that can only be solved through the violence that generates a revolution.

According to that dogma, an antagonistic contradiction is only resolved when one of the contenders achieves the extermination or annulment of the adversary. continue reading

It should be noted that in the original texts of Marx or Engels this apothegm is not found, not as it appears in the previous paragraph. Dialectics of Nature was an unfinished work of Engels that only saw the light in 1925 when it was edited by the academics of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, right in Stalin’s time. It was they who systematized, in order to simplify them into manuals, Engels’ philosophical sketches scattered in notes and complementary notes.

Three years later, forced cooperativization took place in the USSR, and it is no coincidence that that horror, which gave continuity to the “red terror” implemented by Lenin, appeared later in the hackneyed manuals as an example of a solution to an antagonistic contradiction, whose purpose was the definitive extermination of the kulaks. Many of these texts are available today on the Internet.

The decision of a small group of people to implement a socialist system in Cuba was in contradiction with the existence of private owners of the fundamental means of production. In less than a decade the owners were dispossessed by violence, and those who resisted ended up in exile, were imprisoned or died in combat.

The owners disappeared but socialism did not appear. At least its fundamental laws of “satisfying the ever-growing needs of the population” and “eradicating the exploitation of man by man” were not fulfilled.

Such plundering to exterminate the antagonistic owner was of no worth. The “blood spilled on the sands of Playa Girón [the Bay of Pigs] to repel the bourgeoisie who came to recover what had been confiscated” was worthless; the militiamen in the Escambray Mountains killing peasants who had risen up because their lands had been taken away from them were worthless.

All those supposed victories ended in an economic defeat because the socialism of the books failed to establish itself as a system in reality, and finally the rules of the market had to be recognized. It was also an ideological defeat because the desire of Cubans to be owners and to express themselves freely never disappeared.

In present times, this is the most acute contradiction that comes to the surface. It is no longer the one, artificially sustained under the concept of class struggle, which was solved in the material sphere by confiscating properties. What the Government is trying to do now is to put a brake on those who promote the proposal to expand the productive forces against the backdrop of maintaining a planned economy as the last redoubt of the frustrated “socialism.”

The “philosophical question” is whether this is an antagonistic contradiction and whether the idea of the extermination of the opponent as the only solution to antagonism is still valid.

Those who aspire to change things in Cuba, who are the most dynamic element of this contradiction, are divided between those who aspire to the violent overthrow of the dictatorship and those who believe in a gradual, bloodless change, the result of a dialogue.

The bad news is that the only thing that those in charge in Cuba understand is that they must annihilate their counterparts, radicals and moderates, put without distinction in the same bag, because they see in each and every one of them their future exterminators. In order to put into practice what they have learned in theory, they are willing to limit, with all available violence, the freedom of expression of their citizens, interpreting that any discrepancy should be considered as complicity with imperialism.

It is a task for the present and for the future to answer the question of whether Marxism was perverted by politicians or whether all this theoretical scaffolding constitutes a perversion of thought.

Beyond this subtlety of a definition of contradictions, the fruit of the subversion of Hegel’s dialectic, it is easy to find in Marx unfounded statements such as the belief that by implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat not only would the class struggle end, which would result in the disappearance of the State, but also that the aspiration to be owners would be erased from the minds of men, and all this he deduced from his study of the 72 days that the Paris Commune lasted.

The saddest thing is that, possibly behind the repression that subjugates Cubans in the 21st century, there are not even vestiges of elevated thought that can be considered the force of reason, but simple ambition for power backed by the reason of force.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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Armando Trujillo is Being Tortured by his Jailers, States Cuban Prisoners Defenders

Armando Trujillo González was sentenced to three years in prison for the false crimes of “robbery with force” and “disobedience”. (CPD)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 17 February 2021 — On Tuesday, Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD) denounced the situation of prisoner of conscience Armando Trujillo González, who is serving a three-year sentence in the Agüica maximum security prison in Matanzas.

Trujillo, an activist of the Movimiento Independiente Opción Alternativa (Independent Movement Alternative Option), has been held incommunicado since his admission to prison on July 4, 2019, states CPD, and his health “is very, very deteriorated with a coronary problem for which he does not receive medical attention or medicine.” He is also not allowed to receive food, clothing or medicine from his family.

In a legal report, which it submitted to the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the European Union, the organization based in Madrid, demonstrates that Trujillo was arbitrarily convicted of a false crime of robbery with force, and disobedience. continue reading

In prison, CPD claims based on internal sources, “he is harassed, threatened and coerced through psychological and physical torture to leave human rights activism and betray his organization,” trying to force him to record a video that “will serve as social blackmail in case he is released from prison.”

In addition, Prisoners Defenders says that the political authorities of the prison instigate the most dangerous inmates to “rape him in exchange for perks for themselves,” with the aim of “undermining his morale” and “creating a state of constant physical and psychological torture,” in order to “ensure that Armando, to defend himself, may at some point be charged with some additional crime so they can increase his sentence.”

Recently, CPD denounced that prison authorities use “severe torture, beatings and isolation at unusual levels” which, coupled with tempting offers, seek to get prisoners to agree to film compromising videos in which they “confess to being mercenaries and accuse the leaders of their groups.”

The recordings would be used against them if they resumed their human rights activism, the organization said.

The detailed report is similar to the one CPD prepared in the case of protest rapper Denis Solis, sentenced last November 11 in a “summary proceeding” to eight months in prison for an alleged crime of “contempt”. Solis’ imprisonment was the origin of the protest by members of the San Isidro Movement who went on hunger strike at the collective’s headquarters in Old Havana for more than a week, and the subsequent peaceful protest by more than 300 artists in front of the Ministry of Culture to demand dialogue with the authorities.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

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Hope Reborn for Cubans at Southern U.S. Border

Cuban migrants in Ciudad Juarez, after finally deciding to stay and work in Mexico. (EFE/Capture)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 12 February 2021 — The announcement by Joe Biden’s administration to reopen the cases of asylum seekers who were sent back to Mexico, as of Feb. 19, has renewed hope for many Cubans who remain at the southern U.S. border in the expectation of being able to access an immigration court.

“In almost two years, it’s the only positive news we’ve had,” Luis Hechavarría, who is stuck in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, tells 14ymedio. “In the Trump era all the news was negative; all the executive orders that came out were to make the process difficult for us and to leave us here in Mexico, but now a new path is opening up for us.”

Hechavarría does not stop harboring some doubts and recalls that there is a lot of desperation among Cubans since last January. “They have wanted to force their way to U.S. soil and that’s no good. Violating the national security of a country like the United States is a serious crime and I don’t want to add federal charges against myself.” continue reading

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday that it will reopen asylum cases as part of a program “to restore the safe and orderly processing” of immigrants who remain at the southern border under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) known as Permanezca en México, established through an agreement between Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The DHS estimates that some 25,000 people have active cases, as is the case with Hechavarría, who has only been able to attend court once. “I have known people who have had to attend up to four times, it is unfortunate and very stressful this situation.”

“Many of these people prefer not to show up at the border again so as not to be deported,” he says. Many like him cannot afford legal counsel, nor do they have sufficient knowledge to defend their cases. Hiring an immigration lawyer, he says, costs between $6,000 and $8,000 and “that service does not guarantee you a favorable resolution.”

Since the pandemic arrived in the United States, the courts have suspended their hearings on several occasions. “They haven’t worked for months and the new administration suspended them altogether.”

Faced with this panorama and the uncertainty of being deported to the Island, some Cubans along the border have decided not to appear before an immigration judge and have opted to apply for residency in Mexico, says the man, who is originally from Holguín (Cuba).

The violence and social insecurity on the Mexican side keeps Hechavarría on alert because of the large number of murders, but he admits that the people have been very welcoming to the Cubans. “We behave well and just work. If we were misbehaving there would be more deaths, but since I’ve been here I’ve only heard of two murders in our community.”

Hechavarria, who has been working in a restaurant for a year and a half, left Cuba for Guyana in 2018. “I have a daughter and I saw myself at 27 years old and with nothing in my hands, with no future to give her. In me, the pain of that last hug and that last kiss always remains,” he says. “But well, you know, one must be made of stone.”

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.

Mexican Doctors Rebel Against Being Required to Study in Cuba

Mexican doctors protested this Monday in Mexico City’s Zocolo plaza.

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14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 9 February 2021 — A score of doctors demonstrated Monday in Mexico City’s Zocalo plaza in protest against Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government requiring them to study their specialty in Cuba.

“They say that the infrastructure there is greater than what we have in Mexico, but here we have more hospitals and there is a greater need for specialist doctors,” declared Ingrid Izar Cuéllar to the local media; Dr. Izar was one of the doctors who protested this Monday in front of the Palacio Nacional, the seat of the Mexican Executive and also, since he took office two years ago, the residence of López Obrador.

The Mexican president had announced in May of last year that they would start a program of scholarships for doctors to live abroad, due to the lack of vacancies in the country. Months later, in November, the health authorities reported not only the doubling of positions but also the launching of up to 1,600 scholarships abroad, with destinations in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Cuba and Australia.

In fact, when doctors took their specialty exams, they were asked if they wanted to go abroad and which country they preferred. continue reading

However, when the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) published the call for the scholarships last December 15, they were only for Cuba. On that occasion, health consultant Xavier Tello noted that Mexico would pay the Cuban government a total of 40 million dollars as “tuition” for this program.

Those aspiring to residencies were up in arms, because it was not even optional: if they did not accept the place on the Island, they would lose it, and their exam results would not be considered.

“It is unfortunate for the aspirations and dreams of doctors who yearn to do a specialty outside the country, that they are not given the opportunity to do it in the place they prefer,” Belinda Cázares Gómez, president of the Mexican Medical Association, told 14ymedio. “It is frustrating, moreover, that if they do not accept studying in Cuba, they will lose their exam passing grade and their efforts will not be recognized.” And she adds: “I don’t think they were even warned.”

“Because of the conditions associated with the pandemic, doctors prefer to stay in their own country and not go out to take risks,” says Dr. Cázares.

Along the same lines, Dr. Izar told Imagen Radio: “We are in the middle of the pandemic and we demand a position here because our selection certificate is about to expire in two weeks.”

Those, like Izar, who passed the National Medical Residency Examination last November, must begin their residency on March 1, but those who chose to go abroad, in this case Cuba, must apply for the Conacyt scholarship before February 12.

“For Rehabilitation Medicine, 449 applicants were selected, of which only 149 obtained a national position,” said Izar. The remaining 300 have to go to Cuba, “obviously doing all the paperwork, which costs between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos, at our own expense,” not to mention “nor are you assured of acceptance.”

With the 1,100 dollars that Conacyt will pay each month for each scholarship holder who goes to Cuba, Izar reflected, two doctors could do their specialty in Mexico, since what is paid to residents in national territory is half the cost. “That is why we think that those economic resources should be redirected to our country and not to Cuba, because we do not know what study plans they manage, what hospitals they offer, we know nothing, everything is phantasmal.”

Dr. Belinda Cázares adds in an interview with 14ymedio: “The doctor who wants to do a specialty wants to have the certainty that his studies have the right academic conditions, that they are what he aspires to, that within the Cuban academic infrastructure he can know which are the study programs and the hospitals where he will work and what opportunity he will have here to occupy a position as a trained specialist once he finishes his specialty” in Cuba.

The president of the Medical Association sees it as positive that other countries receive Mexicans to study specialties and carry out scientific exchanges, but she asks: “What guarantee will these doctors who will go to Cuba to do a specialty have of obtaining a professional license to be able to practice when they return to the country?”

Cázares says he has “very certain information” that there are medical degree students graduated in Cuba but who were later not granted professional licenses in Mexico by the Mexican General Directorate of Professions “because the Cuban academic programs are not compatible with the Mexican ones.”

The issue of forced specialties in Cuba is a new episode that divides the healthcare profession and the president with regards to the Island. The College presided over by Cázares was, precisely, one of the signatories of the letter addressed to López Obrador last June in protest against the hiring of Cuban doctors to work in Mexico.

“We first asked why we as a guild had not been informed”, says Cázares, “what were the specialties of the Cuban doctors who were coming to the country because of the pandemic.” On that occasion, the schools heard “many concerns from the healthcare personnel… They didn’t know if they were doctors, intensive care or emergency physicians, nurses, we didn’t know their academic quality,” he says. “The authorities were very secretive, even the Cubans didn’t talk much.”

Another complaint of the doctors was that they did not even enter the spaces where the COVID patients were being treated. “Did they come to support us?” Cázares asks doubtfully. “The Secretary of Health of Mexico City [Oliva López] answered us that they were observers, epidemiologists, who came to do work of that nature.” Thus, denounces the doctor, “there was a double discourse: did they come as support for the pandemic or to be observers?”

The more than 700 Cuban Brigadists were in Mexican territory during the first wave of the pandemic, distributed between Mexico City and Veracruz returned to Cuba last October. The National Welfare Institute paid the regime more than 6 million dollars for their services, although the contract between the two parties was never made public.

Despite the uproar, Lopez Obrador “imported” again, two months later, a brigade of 500 healthcare workers, joined by a new contingent of 200 last January. Unlike those who worked during the first wave of the pandemic, stationed in civilian hospitals, this time they are in military hospitals, “attending” with the help of the Navy and the Armed Forces, as the Mexican president himself said and a medical source confirmed to 14ymedio, which makes the information about them, if that were possible, even more opaque.

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 and Other Migrants in a Critical Situation at the Frontier of Colombia and Panama

Migrants at an improvised camp on the shore of the beach. (Semana)

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14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 29 January 2021 — More than 100 Cubans have been stranded for 23 days in the Colombian border municipality of Necoclí, in the department of Antioquia, along with hundreds of Haitians, Venezuelans and other migrants. They are waiting to be transported by boat to a point in Panama in order to continue on to the United States.

The Colombian government announced on January 15 that it was extending the closure of land and river borders until March 1. The director of Migration Colombia, Francisco Espinosa, reported that due to the increase of cases and the worrying hospital situation, due to the high occupation of COVID-19 patients, the passage between Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela was suspended.

According to Wilson Patiño, director of Migration in Antioquia, “it is not a time to travel”, but “to protect ourselves, in order to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infection”. continue reading

Necoclí has become a place with no way out for the migrants: “Every day more and more Cubans continue to arrive, becoming completely trapped in a nightmare”, describes Telemundo’s correspondent, from a makeshift camp where migrants, including small children and pregnant women, find themselves

“What prevents us from leaving is the sea, and I have a son with diarrhea and vomiting,” Cuban Odalys Trobajo, says with impotence, having been stuck halfway after Colombian authorities closed the border because of the pandemic, she tells the news channel.

In the last year, given the restrictions on mobility and quarantine due to COVID, as reported by the Colombian magazine Semana, the passage of migrants has decreased in that region. However, at the beginning of the year, the movement of travelers returned in “Necoclí, the next-to-last step before crossing the Gulf of Urabá and venturing on a path of death through the Darién Gap”, the article states.

First, travelers must reach Capurganá in order to board a boat that will take them to a point in Panamanian territory. “They don’t sell us a ticket because the borders are supposedly closed to us, the migrants, and the illegal boats are leaving,” Ailen Campos, another Cuban, tells Noticias Caracol.

Cuban Jany Perez tells Telemundo: “We are afraid to cross in the illegal boats, because when they arrive they throw you in the water and we don’t want to go through that moment”.

Father Aurelio Moncada, parish priest in a settlement near Capurganá, affirms that the number of migrants arriving in the area continues to rise, too much “for the coyotes (traffickers)”, reports the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. “Since October they have been smuggling them at night”, adds the priest.

For his part, the mayor of Necocli, Jorge Tobón, denounces the critical situation of migrants: “They are taking care of their ’necessities’ on the beaches, that is why we have decreed a health emergency and a humanitarian emergency”.

“I call on the national and departmental government to help us, because the truth is that we are overwhelmed,” insists the mayor. “I hope they help us, many of these migrants are already enduring hunger today. The children are sick too. Migration Colombia should also support us with these people.”

Data published by the International Organization for Migration, collected by El Espectador, point to the increase in the transit of migrants between Colombia and Panama: whereas in 2006 only 79 people crossed the Darien Gap, in 2012 the number rose to 1,777.

By 2015 there were already 29,289 migrants and a year later there were 30,055, “mostly Cubans hoping to quickly to reach the US” in view of the possibility, implemented by Barack Obama in January 2017, of the elimination of the wet foot/dry foot policy, which allowed Cubans who “touched land” in the United States to be on a path to citizenship.

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.

Havana Hopes Biden Will Reverse US Policy Toward Cuba ‘Rapidly’

Raúl Castro and Barack Obama, during the latter’s visit to Havana in 2016. (Fotograma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2021 — The Cuban government hopes that the new US president, Joe Biden, will “quickly” reverse the hard line towards the island of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and resume the thaw initiated by Barack Obama in 2014. This was stated to Reuters by Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the top Cuban Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations with the country to the north.

“Everything could be reversed in the short term if that is the will of the government,” he says in an interview with the British agency. Havana is open to dialogue, he says, but acknowledges that it will not make “political concessions” in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions.

Fernández de Cossío points out that Biden’s promises suggest he will restart the process where he left off when he was Obama’s vice-president. continue reading

Fernández de Cossío is also optimistic that Biden’s team will include officials with experience in relations with Cuba, “who would not be swayed by simplified narratives…This team has more experience than any other in the last 60 years,” he said.

The last measure against the Island’s regime by the Trump administration came just five days before leaving office, with the sanctions imposed on the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and its head, General Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas, for “serious human rights abuses.”

Earlier that same week, the US included Cuba in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism; it had been removed from the list in 2015 during the Obama Administration.

Last May, Washington included the island in the list of countries that “do not fully cooperate” with US anti-terrorism efforts, and, among other sanctions, banned the sending of remittances to Cuba through companies controlled by the Cuban Armed Forces, and included in its black list companies “controlled” by the military, such as Gaesa, Fincimex and Kave Coffee.

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.

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.