Cuba Converts Cultural Venue to State Business / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 November 2017 — The Cuban authorities decided to close a private cultural venue that revolutionized the Matanzas nights, place its employees in front of a court, and then reopen the place as a state disco.

Located on General Betancourt Road, in the residential area of Peñas Altas in Matanzad, and under the slogan “A universe to be discovered,” the modern Galaxy club became the most famous private audiovisual iniciative for young people with fat wallets.

Customers had to book in advance if they wanted to enjoy the shows or theme nights, among which were parties with different themes: beach, Brazilian, Hawaiian, gym, fitness shows, or the attractive “semaphore parties” (where those who dress in green are single, yellow means looking for a couple, and red signals committed). The club was attended by more youth from the capital than from the city of Matanzas itself. continue reading

Things go well in Cuba, until one day they go badly. Galaxia was a busy club until it ceased to be a successful ship and became the Titanic. The raids and arrests were carried out in mid-August, but in early November, local authorities decided to reopen the site using the same equipment and furniture as before. They just changed the name; now it’s called La Bella Atenas.

“For the municipal council, the club had a culture of drug consumption and pimping practices that neither the police nor any of its employees were able to control; but as the space left by the Galaxia club was an essential part of the local income and the cultural landscape that the province devotes to the recreation of youth, it was decided to reopen, change the name to clean up the image and make it work as part of the state company that operates nightclubs and luxury restaurants,” says a municipal party official who prefers the prudence of anonymity, saying that there is a fine line between telling the truth and forced silence.

“The officers of the Anti-Corruption Unit of the DTI (Technical Research Department — i.e. State Security) said they found elements indicating that drugs were trafficked there, foreign capital was laundered, and paid sexual acts were directed, controlled and performed to the benefit of the managers,” said sources close to the case who can not explain why the owners of the place and most of the employees, without even being military, were all put before the Western Military Court of Matanzas.

Part of the popular rumor says that due to the gravity of the case and the evidence collected of the illegal activity that took place in Galaxia, the prosecution determined that the acts constituted a threat to the well-being and the security of the area. The other part of the proclamation says that the whole scandal is a dirty plan orchestrated by someone with influences who wanted to close the place to appropriate an established business. The Cuban authorities, for a change, have not offered any version of their own.

It is appropriate to remember that during the extraordinary session of the National Assembly of People’s Power [Cuba’s single unicameral parliament], held on May 30, Cuban Vice President Marino Murillo said that in the new socialist model of the island “the concentration of the property and wealth, even under the existence of private forms of management is promoted.”

Translated by JR

The Embargo and How it Concerns Us / Laritza Diversent

US politics is back to debating it. As far as they see it, Cuban dissenters are divided into those who are in favor, and those who are against the embargo. Each side contributes its reasons, but few stop to think about the advantages that the elimination of the US policy represents, in the preservation of its personal freedom.

It is difficult for any dissident to ignore the Gag Law, Number 88, which protects “the National sovereignty and the Cuban economy;” The law penalizes “acts aimed to support, facilitate, or collaborate with the objectives of the Helms-Burton law, the ‘blockade’, and economic warfare.”

Does it mean, then, that the abolition of the Helms-Burton Law would take away the underpinnings of the law which considers any and all statement or activity questioning the Communist policies within the Island to be subversive and a disturbance to the public order, promoted and stimulated by the US Government?

Simple acts such as talking on the phone with the Radio Marti broadcasting station, reporting an event that happened inside the Island, expressing an opinion about government policies, publishing in a foreign newspaper, or participating in a peaceful demonstration are enough to suffer between 2 and 15 years in prison and be fined between fifty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand pesos.

Sanctions can extend to 20 years if, among other reasons, financial support from the US is received, or if the Cuban authorities consider that the transgression can cause harm to the national economy, or if the US Government retaliates against Cuban or foreign entities, or against any of their representatives or their families.

It seems as if the prison time suffered by 75 dissidents, victims of this law, has not been enough to make us understand that it is time to make decisions about the embargo thinking about the Cuban people and not their government. The international pressure and solidarity is appreciated, but it alone will not prevent that in the future more dissidents will suffer imprisonment for the same causes.

There are also sanctions for those who distribute financial aid, material or otherwise, from the US including the Europeans in solidarity with our cause who, as far as the Cuban government is concerned, also support the US policy.

The case of Alan Gross showed that even Human Rights activists run a risk when they come to the Island to help us. I do not understand the conflicting positions. Could it be that we need more people in jail?

I can understand those on the outside who wait with anticipation the arrival of democracy in Cuba, even that it is easy to ask for a hardening of the embargo, if they have no skin in the game. I do not, however, understand those on the inside asking for the same thing. Do they want to become heroes? As far as I am concerned I prefer freedom in the widest sense of the word and to be present every time my son needs me.

Translated by: JR

September 12 2011