The ‘Coleros’ Are Winning the Propaganda Battle Against the Communist Regime

Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel appearing on an earlier Roundtable TV program — with its updated set — on Cuban State television (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliás Amor Bravo, Economist, August 26, 2020 — Are the coleros (people who stand in line for others) so bad? Is the repression against them justified?

The unending lines that stretch for blocks in the early hours of dawn are a habitual phenomenon in the geography of Cuban commerce, above all for buying basic goods for the daily diet, like oil or chicken, and household cleaning products like detergent.

Many people detest these lines and can’t even get what they want after long hours of waiting. This happens not only to those who are last in line but also because the merchandise is limited and rarely responds to the needs of the population. Others simply can’t be in line, either because they’re at work or have family members who need attention, or simply because they have some disability that prevents them from standing in line.

In all these cases, which are many, the solution for avoiding the lines comes from anonymous citizens who provide them with a service in exchange for a remuneration. It’s normal. The cost of opportunity is fundamental for an economy to function. continue reading

The colero, which is the derogatory term used by the Government against these citizens, sells a place at the front of the line, which assures the buyer that he can get what he wants. But in order to formalize this transaction, the colero has to claim the space by spending the night outdoors in the line and sacrifice hours of his leisure time with his family. Nothing is free.

Seeing that these people have created an informal “market” and are satisfying the needs of citizens, the Regime decided to create “groups to confront coleros and resellers” throughout the whole island, accusing them in official propaganda of being guilty of creating the lines. The idea was that these intervention groups would reduce the participation of people in lines; especially because of Covid-19, since there’s a need to keep a safe distance.

Beginning August 1, the Regime created these groups for preventing and confronting the coleros, resellers and hoarders with the goal of “organizing the lines and eliminating the lists with names and identity card numbers and turns granted to some people for several days”. What’s curious is that these groups include bosses, officials and members of mass organizations, which shows the inability of the police and army to prevent crowds in the present situation of crisis. But there are also doubts about whether these people shouldn’t be at work instead of denouncing and repressing their fellow citizens. In spite of the repressive climate, the protests have been extended throughout the whole country.

However, as expected, these groups haven’t given the Regime the results it wanted, and the lines, each time longer and more disorganized, continue, and the informal commerce increases in a spectacular way. The repression doesn’t help solve problems that have to do, above all, with the scarcity of basic goods. The situation with imports got worse last year because of the Government’s lack of hard currency and the low general productivity of the economic system, especially in agriculture. In addition, the arrival of Covid-19 aggravated these structural factors even more.

Instead of trying to solve the main problems, the Regime goes back to its old ways: repression, denouncement and prison. What it’s always done in these cases. Thinking that the State Security police or the anti-colero groups will be the solution to the problem is stupid, since the problem’s origin is in the general shortages suffered by the country.

In addition, the Regime has failed in other ways with its actions against the coleros. It’s not a matter of isolated cases, and many people have discovered how profitable this activity is, as much for satisfying the needs of others as for earning a profit, the big enemy of the Cuban Communist Regime. Those who have been arrested return to the activity as soon as they can, as do those whom the Regime tries to “reorient” through the mass organizations.

The people who engage in this activity, selling a place in line as a way of life, agree that in spite of the risk of being arrested and prosecuted, they get paid better with this informal work than any employee in the budgeted sector, which is dominated by low salaries, precarious work, poor working conditions and a lack of opportunity for professional and social development.

The Government’s repression has been directed not only against the coleros but also against resellers and those they call “hard currency traffickers”, who offer dollars in exchange for Cuban pesos or Cuban convertible pesos so people can open an account in the banks, get debit cards and shop in the hard currency stores. Other citizens have been prosecuted for alleged crimes of “speculation and hoarding”, for having bought merchandise with the purpose of reselling it.

Some sources on the Island note that behind the shortages also exists “a scheme of misappropriation by corrupt leaders, who never have stood in line exposing their health or that of their family”. Luckily, many citizens have understood that the shortage of goods in the economy is the cause of the huge lines and not the acts of the coleros, hoarders and resellers, and they blame the Regime for not taking responsibility for its own inefficiency. Cubans in the diaspora rarely have to stand in line to buy in stores in Madrid, Hialeah or México. This evil is endemic in the economic system of the Island.

This concept has spread like wildfire in Cuba, and the Regime’s official propaganda hasn’t been successful in its campaign of harassment and denunciation of the coleros and resellers. Now there’s no Fidel Castro to reign in these actions with his traditional uproar, and president Díaz-Canel offers a different kind of authoritarian leadership. Rather, the opposite has been produced, now that the attacks of the official editorials, and on the episodes of the Roundtable program on Cuban TV, and in Party meetings, haven’t managed to exempt the Government leadership and divert attention from the reality, which is none other than the Government’s inability to satisfy the basic needs of the population. And this is good news. There are dangerous curves ahead.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Monetary Unification: The Story Never Ends


14ymedio biggerEliás Amor Bravo, Economist, August 24, 2020 — Perhaps, possibly, together with salaries, housing and the daily worry about food, monetary unification has become one of the main problems for Cubans. There is proof of that. The article published in Granma with the title “Monetary unification is on the horizon in Cuba”, in which several specialists from the Central Bank of Cuba analyzed this question, has had up to now 71 comments (a record for the official Communist Party newspaper). And if they’re analyzed in detail, they are critical and show that many Cubans are feeling hopeless.

With good reason. The Government has spent almost 10 years on this matter, since it occurred to Raúl Castro, in 2011, that he would have to unify the two currencies that circulated on the Island, recognizing that this anomaly created a lot of problems for the economy. Since then, the issue has been like the Guadiana River in Spain, which appears and disappears along its journey but always is there without anyone knowing very well what the result will be, and what Cubans most fear is the consequence of monetary unification on their lives.

Let’s put the problem in perspective. What’s certain is that monetary unification and exchange rates aren’t matters that concern the Government. If they were, it wouldn’t have taken nine years turning over something that, almost always, for one reason or another, keeps getting postponed. Now the justification is obvious, if you take into account the direct impact of COVID-19 on the Cuban economy. continue reading

If the Government doesn’t care, it’s because it benefits from the dual currency. To begin with, it doesn’t have to submit the Cuban peso (CUP) to the international demand for currencies, so, being isolated from international global markets, its value, credibility and responsibility pass to a second plane.

The Cuban convertible peso (CUC) becomes an “intermediary” between the world currency and the nation’s, and thanks to this, the Government keeps a part of any transaction. Hard currencies are needed to stay on the business circuit, which is cut off from the economy, and only small tourism companies have begun to participate, although in a limited way.

The problem is that the CUC loses value as a monetary unit because the relationship between money and production is unbalanced, and its depreciation is perceptible. The Government has adopted several measures to promote the weakness of the CUC in relation to the CUP. However, what has happened is that both monies are sinking. A bad business.

The explanation is found in the Cuban preference for the dollar. Not only because it gives access to a greater number of goods and services but also because it’s a guarantee of stability in the medium and long term. Some have wanted to see a return to the most difficult years of the Special Period, with an eventual dollarization of the economy. Without going to this extreme, the strength of the dollar presents notable challenges to the process of monetary unification.

Why are the CUC and CUP losing buying power so quickly and the dollar now being exchanged at more than 1.25 in such a short time? The explanation is found in the economy. The Government collects CUC and CUP but lacks dollars. And people act in accord even more than is necessary by opening bank accounts to get the debit cards that allow them to buy goods and services, with a significant increase in buying power with respect to the rest of the population.

Some may believe that 1993 and 1994 are back, and they’re right. At that time, the Government stopped penalizing Cubans for having and using dollars; the shops collected hard currency; the export of services, especially tourism, was promoted; and, there was an opening to foreign investment and the authorization of remittances from abroad. In addition, the Government allowed the principal exporters to retain part of the hard currency that was coming in, and certain business transactions were done in dollars. Same lyrics, maybe different music, i.e. same argument, perhaps different implementation.

The problem then and also now is that the Government never adopted measures of discipline and economic control over salaries, subsidies and the other usual costs of the budget in order to cope with a deficit of two percentage points over GDP. This internal lack of control was perhaps the main obstacle to unification. In fact, the CUC rose precisely in an attempt to confront this internal and external lack of control. And thus, with the passage of time, a segment of “poverty” appeared in the Cuban economy, where salaries, security and social assistance, services, food products and many other activities were carried out in Cuban pesos, while another sector of the population enjoyed the advantage of having access to “strong” money and hard currency.

So that the Government has little interest in solving problems that are increasing, like the coexistence of the dual currency and exchange rate, which creates distortion in economic activity with one kind of exchange rate in the entrepreneurial sector (1 CUP=1 CUC=1 dollar), which doesn’t reflect reality and creates an obstacle for exports at the same time it stimulates imports. Problems arise with accounting, pricing, the use of currencies and their deposit, both formally and informally. The tsunami increases every time.

Karina Cruz Simón, a consultant at the Central Bank of Cuba, has explicitly reflected on the origin of the problem. In her opinion, the “stability” of the national money (CUP) is accomplished by ensuring that the printing of money corresponds with the evolution of the real or productive economy. A good choice, which makes us ask when this necessary equilibrium was produced in the Cuban economy.

We need only look at two points of data. With the economy growing at the end of last year by 0.5%, the participation of the money in circulation in the GDP approached 30%. It’s not strange that the spectre of structural inflation appeared from time to time and remains latent in the economy. The authorities solve this by undersupplying the shops. The inflation differential of the Cuban currencies compared to that of hard currencies (the dollar or euro, for example) helps explain the growing deterioration in the buying power of these currencies and, above all, in their credibility.

The bank consultant pointed out that “a favorable scenario for the Cuban peso to comply with its functions and manage to preserve macroeconomic equilibrium implies a type of change that approaches the offer and demand of hard currency, the existence of clear regulations for the printing of money, so that there is just the amount of money needed, and discipline between the Government’s income and expenses (control of the public debt).”

She adds that “it is important that there be coordination among the organizations charged with conducting macroeconomic policies, such as transitioning from an administrative direction to using financial instruments, so that prices can offer signs for a better performance for consumers, producers and the general planning of the economy”.

I’ll say it again: The lyrics are well written, the problem is the music. Or, in this case, the argument is very good, the problem is the implementation.

How can a monetary exchange like the offer and demand for hard currency be accomplished when the two Cuban currencies aren’t present in international markets, nor do they have that goal?

How can you establish clear regulations for the printing of money if the demand for money in the economy, especially coming from the State, doesn’t stop increasing?

What must be done to discipline the State in its management of income and public expenses, especially with a serious situation like the one posed by COVID-19?

The icing on the cake comes with that requirement of “coordination among the organizations charged” to achieve a “stable offer and quality of goods and services that can be acquired in the national money” and “the need to create conditions that stimulate people and businesses to save and obtain credit in the national money”. The question is, how is this supposed to happen? By Machado Ventura’s* “harangues”?

The conclusion is that the Central Bank of Cuba, dominated by the Communist Government and without the autonomy that monetary policy demands, cannot achieve monetary unification from the technical point of view, so this process will end up being the result of a policy decision some day when it’s least expected.

*Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, “harangued” the farmers in June 2020, calling on them to increase food production by cultivating all the land.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Etecsa Begins the Sale of Cellphones in Dollars in Two Offices in Havana

One of the offers available in the two Etecsa offices in the capital where they sell in dollars. (Twitter@JancelMoreno)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 21, 2020 — This week the Cuban Telecommunications Enterprise S.A. (Etecsa) began the sale of cell phones in dollars, and restricting the method of payment to debit cards only.

14ymedio confirmed with customer service in Havana that Etecsa has only two places where you can buy the phones with debit cards: the Cubanacán business office in Naútica, Playa, and the one at 17th and Y, in Vedado. It specified that these are the only places “at the moment” and that the offer they have now is an Alcatel cellphone at $65 and another at $165, with a warranty of three months.

In some images shared on social networks, the equipment they are selling in hard currency comes accompanied by several accessories like a Micro SD card of 16GB, in the case of the $65 cellphone.

The news, which has been spread through company channels, has generated criticism from users on Twitter and Facebook. continue reading

The activist, Jancel Moreno, points out: “#Dollarization. Etecsa begins the sale of cellphones in USD,” and asks at the same time: “What will be the next thing that can you can buy with the money of the enemy?”

Eblis López Guerra, a customer, asks, responding to one of the company’s tweets about the next promotion for an international recharge: “Why today is the sale beginning of cellphones in USD in Guantánamo? Where was this announced? Who said it? It shows a lack of respect on the part of @ETESCA_Cuba”, he complained.

López explains that he only earns 310 Cuban pesos a month (about $12) and wonders: “Where am I, a worker, supposed to get hard currency?”

Last July, the Cuban Government opened shops for the sale of cleaning products and food in hard currency. This type of business began to function at the end of last year, in an attempt by the Government to raise income from abroad, given the lack of liquidity in the national economy, but at that time it was only for the purchase of home appliances.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The Offensive Against ‘Hoarders’ Comes To The Hard Currency Stores

Line for a hard currency store in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 21, 2020 —  In the middle of the pandemic and the social differences that the hard currency shops generate, a case of corruption related to these State businesses now comes to light.

Several citizens in Guantánamo, in confabulation with workers in the TRD Caribe chain, carried out “illicit actions” to obtain merchandise that later was sold on informal networks, according to the official Agencia Cubana de Noticias [Cuban News Agency].

The Ministry of the Interior (MININT) carried out a raid against several offenses and acts of corruption that occurred in this chain “in the present context of the Covid-19 pandemic”, the agency said.

The investigations discovered that those implicated hoarded articles for resale on the black market or charged exorbitant rates for letting third parties buy with their debit cards in hard currency. So far, the amount of money confiscated is more than 3,300 CUC (roughly 3,300 USD at pre-pandemic exchange rates), 74,500 CUP (roughly 3,00 USD at the same rates), and 150 USD. continue reading

The notice says that complaints from the residents of Guantánamo provoked the police operation and the investigation of the accused. During the search of the suspects’ homes, they found home appliances like freezers, scooters, and refrigerators.

Although there is no clear policy that regulates the amount and frequency of buying in these places, in order to avoid the actions of resellers, the Government has implemented mechanisms of control for the sake of eliminating coleros (people who stand in line for others for pay) and hoarders. In most cases in these shops you have to show your identity card, in order to keep the same client from buying several times.

In recent weeks, hoarders have been repeatedly blamed in the official discourse and by part of the population for causing the shortages.

“The problem isn’t what they buy; it’s that they buy it and don’t need it and get a profit from it. That’s the big problem we have today, and not only with home appliances but also with construction materials and hardware articles,” commented a reader in a note published in Cubadebate.

“If they carry out raids in other shops they’ll see similar results, because the lines last for days when they have home appliances, so many people run to Revolico — an on-line commerce site — and buy them at a higher price,” commented another person in the digital publication.

This newspaper reported, during the first day of the opening of hard currency shops with food and cleaning products, that when locals entered, the employees warned them about limitations on the number of products, especially for those that, in addition, sell home appliances and car parts.

Another person on the site asked a question on Friday: “If the State isn’t selling it in hard currency, why not let people who can sell it to other citizens do so, so they can buy things in the shops?”

A commentator on Cubadebate, resident of Havana, sums up the disagreement and complaints that the opening of these stores has caused in the population:

“Yesterday I went to 3rd and 70th for the first time, to buy some food for my sick wife. I left very disgusted since they had nothing. Only very expensive beef and without having clear prices,” he complained.

“It’s not possible by selling in hard currency to keep the markets supplied. I always thought that would be a solution. These stores aren’t finding a way. They can’t say now that they’d be wrong again about demand. What’s needed is to sell a lot in order to collect a lot, and to not limit sales,” he added.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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 are Among the Biggest Winners in the U.S. Visa Lottery

Cuba is the third country of the continent with a large representation among the winners of the 2021 diversity lottery. (U.S. Embassy in Lithuania)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 20, 2020 — Cuba was the third country in Latin America with the largest number of winners of the well-known U.S. Visa Lottery, held each year.

Those chosen for the Program of Diversity DV-2021 were 1,872 Venezuelans, 1,559 Peruvians and 1,235 Cubans, who will have to do the paperwork for U.S. residence in the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2020.

The other Latin American countries that participated had between 1 and 246 beneficiaries. The following countries were excluded this year: Bangladesh, Canada, China (born in the continental area), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica and Mexico. continue reading

The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs said it offered 55,000 visas that granted green cards to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The registered applicants for the DV-2021 program were selected randomly from 6,741,128 qualified entries, received during the application period of 35 days that extended from October 2, 2019 until November 6, 2019, they said.

“The visas have been distributed among six geographic regions with a maximum of 7% available for people born in any country,” said the note.

The Island has stood out in the last 10 years as one of the countries with a large number of citizens admitted in the Lottery. For this fiscal year, the participation of Cubans was marked by the incorporation of a new requirement in the draw: having a current and valid passport at the time of entry.

Although the demand can be made only by the applicant, not the dependents, not everyone on the Island can count on having this document of identity because of its high cost, so this new rule influenced some to try their luck later.

To that is added the uncertainty of not being able to count on the presence of a consular section in the United States Embassy on the Island, and they will have to travel to Guyana to request the visa and do other paperwork like that for family reunification. Thousands of people are worried about the migratory veto of the present administration, which is maintained until December.

The Department of State also clarified that in the visa interview, the principal applicant must provide proof of a secondary education or its equivalent, or show two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience in the last five years.

It was also announced that there will be visa lotteries for 2022, and the dates for the program’s registration period will be published in the coming months.

“Those interested in entering the DV-2022 program should consult the web page of the Department of State Visa in the next months,” the press release specified.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

 

U.S. Suspends Private Charter Flights to Cuba to ‘Deny’ Resources to Havana

This measure affects flights on private planes that are rented or owned, not commercial charters. (JFI)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 August, 2020 — The United States decided on Thursday to interrupt private charter flights to Cuba, a new measure to put pressure on the Cuban Government. This measure affects flights on private planes that are rented or owned, not commercial charter flights.

“I asked the Transportation Department to suspend private flights to all the Cuban airports, including Havana,” Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, announced.

“This action will suspend all charter flights between the United States and Cuba over which the Department of Transportation exercises jurisdiction, excepting public charter flights authorized to and from Havana and other private charter flights for emergency doctors, search and rescue missions and other trips in function of U.S. interests,” said Pompeo. continue reading

The U.S. Secretary of State explained that the measure aims to “deny” resources to the Cuban Government and prevent it from using them “to commit abuses”.

For the same purpose, this last May, the U. S. Department of Transportation limited charter flights to the Island to 3,600 per year. “Maintaining and limiting charter flights to José Martí International Airport involves controlling the main access for travel from the United States for family visits or other legal ends, at the same time preventing charter operators from increasing service to Havana in response,” the Department said at the time.

These flights, used by Cuban Americans to travel from Miami to Havana since restrictions are imposed on regular airlines, are not affected by the measure announced on Thursday by Washington.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

A New Contingent of Cuban Doctors Arrives in Venezuela

The Venezuelan Chancellor, Jorge Arreaza, receives the new contingent of Cuban doctors. (Twitter/@cancilleriaVE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 2020 — A new contingent of Cuban doctors arrived in Caracas on Sunday to join the Barrio Adentro mission, according to the Minister of Venezuelan Foreign Relations. This makes 230 health workers added to those already deployed in the Caribbean country to attend to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was what Chávez and Fidel dreamed about and constructed. It’s up to us to continue carrying forward the dreams of our commandantes and show the North American imperialists that no one and nothing will divide us,” said the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, in his statements on Twitter.

in his speech, Arreaza thanked the Cuban authorities for their support to Venezuela to combat coronavirus, qualifying the Cuban doctors as “heros and heroines who are risking their lives to work in our country”. continue reading

According to official data from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, most of the COVID-19 positives entering the Island are coming from Venezuela. However, the Ministry has suppressed reports on the exact origin of 41 of the cases reported and where it said “traveler coming from Venezuela”, it now says “source of infection abroad”.

Last July, a group of 26 health workers arrived in Maracaibo, Venezuela, according to authorities, to reinforce efforts before an outbreak of coronavirus that was generated in the Las Pulgas market.

There are more than 20,000 Cuban health workers in Venezuela, including doctors, nurses and technicians, according to official data for 2019. Last April, the Government of Nicolás Maduro announced the importation of 1,200 professionals from the Island, justifying his decision by decreeing an emergency because of the pandemic.

For each health official, Venezuela pays Cuba more than $10,000 per month, in addition to supplying the country with fuel, although the opposition to chavismo has criticized this because of the shortages faced by Venezuela.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

New and Drastic Measures to Control the Pandemic in Havana, Camajuani and Pinar del Rio

Camajuaní returns to quarantine for the second time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. (Facebook/Dayron Pérez Urbano)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 10, 2020 — The increase in Covid-19 cases in Cuba requires taking drastic measures not only in Havana but also in other zones of the Island that are affected by the resurgence, especially in Camajuaní, Artemisa and Pinar del Río.

The Cuban Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal, said on television Saturday during his daily report that “the forecast indicates that the situation is almost out of control,” especially in Havana.

Although the number of deaths remains the same at 88, health authorities confirmed on Sunday 65 new cases from the day before. Of these, 29 are in the province of Havana, where, since Monday, restrictive measures going back to Phase 1 of the reopening have been put into force. continue reading

The rules include the suspension of public transport, with the exception of buses for essential workers in production, health and services who continue to work, and the total closing of beaches, bars and parks.

Unlike the previous stage, the authorities decided to leave chains of stores and businesses open “to avoid concentrations in one single place”, they said. Restaurants and cafeterias will be allowed to serve food for takeout.

Because of the increase in cases, the Spanish Consulate in Havana announced on Sunday that it is suspending services until further notice. “A counter will still be open for emergencies and documents”, the Consulate states on Twitter.

In Artemisa, where an outbreak was detected after a religious event, there were 17 new cases.

In Camajuaní, Villa Clara Province, where a local transmission event had been detected, the authorities announced a quarantine on Sunday, for the second time since the pandemic began.

People’s Councils 1 and 2 are now isolated, and vacationers at Juan Francisco, a popular beach, were evacuated. Public transport has been eliminated between Camajuaní and Santa Clara, Placetas, Encrucijada and Remedios.

At the moment, health activists from other territories have been mobilized to determine the number of inhabitants in the areas at risk and then to proceed to disinfect State and private centers that receive the public. The authorities have ordered commercial centers to make their sales on tables placed at the door and not inside. In the previous quarantine, the motel La Cañada was used to house those suspected of infection, but now they’re moved to Placetas or Santa Clara because Camajuaní lacks a hospital.

The manager of the Ministry of Tourism in the province, Regla Dayamí Armenteros, told local media that a total of 220 workers on Cayo Santa María, many of them from Camajuaní, would not return to work while the quarantine lasts. Those installations belonging to the Gaviota corporation had been open to international tourism since July 1. She added that the money would be returned or the date rescheduled for nationals who had made reservations in the hotels and camping centers.

Librado Linares, leader of the opposition movement Cubano Reflexión, explained to 14ymedio that Independencia Street, at the center of the municipal capital, was cordoned off with tape, and the police were only allowing passage to those who were previously authorized.

“Camajuaní has been known in the last few years for having a booming private economy. During the previous quarantine, which lasted around four months, many private businesses were on the brink of bankruptcy, mainly because they didn’t have any kind of subsidy. Now, just when they seemed to be recovering, they have to go back to closing their companies,” said the dissident.

Apart from the local event of open transmission in this municipality, six others were found in the country: in the Havana municipalities of Habana del Este, La Lisa and Marianao. In Artemisa, three remain active: in the municipality of Bauta (center and Playa Baracoa) and in the Special Development Zone of Mariel.

In Pinar del Río, only one new case was reported on Sunday, but the provincial authorities decided to quarantine anyone who came into the province for 14 days. They also declared a curfew for the population between midnight and 6:00 am, the closing of commercial and recreation centers from 11:00 pm and beaches from 5:00 pm.

“We’re not prohibiting private cars from coming into Pinar del Río, but people who come in are going to be submitted to a period of vigilance for 14 days,” said the President of the Council of Provincial Defense, Julio César Rodríguez Pimentel.

The Minister of Health, who includes in his daily report the imported cases — almost all coming from the medical brigades — suppressed in his last report the exact origin of 41 of the cases reported. Where he used to say “traveler coming from Venezuela”, now he says “source of infection abroad”.

Venezuela recorded 795 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths on Saturday. The total number went up to 24,961 positive cases and 215 deaths.

The new figures threaten still more the economic collapse of the Island, where the pandemic has been met with a shortage of food, medicine and other products and lengthened the lines to purchase these items.

The optimism that existed from the beginning of July, when the the next opening of the longed-for international tourism was anticipated, is, for the moment, history.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Cuban Financial Institution Won’t Issue New Debit Cards Because of Shortages of Many Products

Debit cards are used to receive remittances and to make purchases in the hard-currency stores that have recently opened for the sale of food and personal hygiene and cleaning products.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 16, 2020 — The financial institution Fincimex announced that beginning this Monday, it won’t accept new requests for AIS (American International Service) debit cards, used to receive remittances and make purchases in the hard-currency stores that were recently opened for the sale of food and personal hygiene and cleaning products.

“It’s reported that beginning this next Monday, August 17, we find it impossible to accept new requests for AIS cards. The rise in demand has surpassed our capacity to import certain consumables,” the company said on its official Facebook page. Fincimex belongs to the Cimex Group, which is managed by the Armed Forces.

Fincimex’ announcement contrasts with the company’s official statement four days ago, said a client on social media, who was worried about the delay in the delivery of his card. “They’re issuing 4,000 cards daily. Right now there isn’t any problem with the products.” continue reading

Last June, Fincimex, which was created as a company in Panamá 25 years ago, was sanctioned by Washington and included on the blacklist of firms with which the U.S. is prohibited from doing business.

The penalty from the U.S. Government heightened concern for many clients, but Fincimex said that “all the cards requested before August 6 are ready”. In the communication this week, the company explains that the cancellation of the service has given them incentive to “become better organized for the present high demand”.

“We are working to make the interruption as brief as possible. We shall return,” says the text.

However, complaints have leaked out about the cards, and many clients are upset about Fincimex’ inefficiency. “Why don’t they pick up the phone when you call? I need to know if I can get my card and not make an unnecessary trip,” asked Yami Romero in a comment. “The lines are dead,” was all the company answered.

“My husband spent days trying to request one for me and it was impossible. I wrote to them, called, and no one answered,” complained Dayanna Castillo.

The opening of hard-currency stores with food and personal hygiene and cleaning products forms part of the package of measures that the Government presented as a necessary decision before the economic crisis that the country is experiencing in the middle of the pandemic.

Before the controversy that this news generated, Government officials say that the income collected in these stores will allow them to improve the offers in the Cuban Convertible peso and Cuban peso markets, which are in constant crisis with the shortages.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The Cuban State “Is Intensifying Its War Against Farmers,” Farmers’ Groups Inform Bachelet

A Cuban farmer plows the land with his oxen. (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 13, 2020 — “We’re approaching a famine that can be avoided,” begins the letter that the League of Independent Cuban Farmers and the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (Flamur) delivered to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The authors of the letter request an urgent intervention from the ex-President of Chile, in order to avoid starvation on the Island. “The cause is not external or related to a natural disaster. The famine that is appearing on the Cuban horizon is a consequence of the fierce internal blockade of our productivity by the national Government,” say the signatories, who have been launching the campaign for a few months: Without the countryside there’s no country. They are asking the authorities to eliminate the tax on farming, and they demand permanent title to their property.

“We can assure you that the U.S. embargo doesn’t prevent the Cuban Government from buying, every year, tons of food from that country that it later sells to the population at notably higher prices,” they continue. “Nor are medicines included in the sanctions. Cuba imports 80% of its food because of the State’s inability to produce it. If now the Cuban Government doesn’t have money, it’s because, in addition to their poor economic management and the impact of Covid-19 on tourism, it hasn’t complied with its commitments to pay the interest on the debts it assumed after its creditors forgave billions of dollars five years ago,” they argue. continue reading

In a telephone conversation, Esteban Ajete Abascal, leader of the League of Independent Farmers and one of the signers of the letter, together with Lisandra Orraca Guerra, President of the Cuba Chapter of Flamur, told 14ymedio that the letter was sent to Bachelet “through friends of good will who have a way to channel this request”, and she claims that there’s a “permanent system of surveillance” over her “on the part of the political police and its other mechanisms of control. They’re waiting for the right moment to do us harm,” she says

The document points out something “that many ignore”: private Cuban businesses “are not included in the sanctions, and any business in the United States can do business with and even invest in them, but the Cuban Government has never allowed it”.

Furthermore, they criticize the State system of Acopio, which “monopolizes” the production and commercialization of the farmers, who are “up to their eyes in taxes, harassed with continuous inspections and the confiscation of their harvests and farming equipment”.

Ajete told this newspaper that he doesn’t rely on statistics about the number of farmers who have had the fruit of their labor and their farming equipment confiscated. “It’s really hard for us to have access to the data, and we lack the necessary mobility to get these statistics, but we rely on brave people who dare to denounce the abuses,” he explained. “We’re speaking for those who aren’t allowed to go on television or other official media to tell their version of events.”

“They’ve declared an economic war against us, and special operatives from the Armed Forces and the police are taking part in it, and through their monopoly of the communications media they’re engaging in constant assassination campaigns against our reputation”, they say in the letter to the High Commissioner.

While the official press portrays the independent farmers as “selfish bandits”, they themselves say they’re the “bearers of the solution to avoiding a famine for the population”.

As for the number of field workers who don’t own the land they work on, Ajete tells 14ymedio that “right now there’s an insignificant number of farmers who own very small parcels of land, and most of their production is in tobacco”, and he remembers when his grandfather was offered a ridiculous amount of money to buy the land for a farming cooperative in San Juan y Martínez, in the province of Pinar del Río. “The cooperativization wasn’t exactly forced, but there was enormous political pressure. Only a few resisted; some others were allowed to leave the land to their children and grandchildren.”

At the end of the letter, the farmers tell Bachelet that their initiative Without the countryside there is no country has not received a response from the Government.

On the contrary, they say that it “has intensified the Government’s economic war of confiscations and arbitrary arrests against the farmers”, and they make a forceful comparison: “Their present methods aren’t any different from those of the militant communism — which Lenin had to rectify — or those of Stalin, when he induced a famine in the Ukraine, which cost the lives of millions of people”.

Finally, the farmers urge the Commissioner: “Invite the Cuban Government to find inspiration in the political power of the Vietnamese leaders who, after helping the international community to feed a starving population, took the path of reform that made them self-sufficient and the exporter of food in barely five years”. And they conclude: “You are not Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent in Moscow who was complicit with Stalin in hiding the horror of the Ukraine famine during the Holodomar. To speak loudly, clearly and opportunely to Power in the name of those who don’t have voices, that is your mission”.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Project to Contract With Cuban Doctors Without Going Through the Cuban Government is Advancing

Some 25,000 Cuban doctors have been deployed in Venezuela on different missions. (Facebook/Misión Médica Cubana en Venezuela)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 10, 2020 — The organization Archivo Cuba (Cuba Archive) and the platform No Somos Desertores (We are not Deserters), formed by Cuban health workers who are prevented by their Government from returning to the Island, have publicized an initiative for connecting Cuban doctors with countries that need reinforcements for their health systems during the pandemic. Negotiations have begun with two countries from the American continent.

The initiative, “Médicos Cubanos Libres contra el Covid-19” (Free Cuban Doctors Against Covid-19), intends to promote contracting directly with Cuban health workers without government intermediaries, as happens now, guaranteeing labor conditions, direct payment of salaries, trip expenses, lodging and medical insurance.

In the press release, the NGO, headquartered in Miami, announces that the project will allow Cuban doctors to “exercise their profession freely”. It also points out that, at present, they receive an average salary of less than 70 dollars a month and can work only “for the State, under total control of the Communist Party of Cuba”. continue reading

On the other hand, they explain that outside Cuba, most of the doctors who have emigrated in search of better conditions for life and liberty “aren’t managing to have their qualifications recognized and face all kinds of obstacles”. Archivo Cuba says that the countries that hire Cuban doctors independently will gain access to medical specialists “without entering into bilateral accords with the Cuban State, which institutes a form of modern slavery and human trafficking”.

Thus, they explain, the contracting party will avoid the Cuban Government’s requirements that the accords demand, such as “paying personnel who watch and discipline (“manage”) doctors and oblige them to buy drugs and medical supplies subject to murky practices for increasing income to the Cuban State, and they will have an alternative that “respects workers’ rights and upholds international rights”.

Archivo Cuba gives as an example the French territory of Martinique, which recently signed an agreement to import a brigade of 14 Cuban health workers and an “administrator”, through which the workers would be paid 23 euros a day. “This is less than 25% of the pay that toilet cleaners receive in the Fort-de-France hospital”, they say, and they argue: “France should abide by the institutional mechanisms of the European Union to combat human trafficking, and contracting Cuban doctors directly represents a practical and humanitarian solution that will avoid legal repercussions“.

In response to questions by 14ymedio, María Werlau, the President of the NGO, says that she’s been talking to parliamentarians “in two countries who are very interested, but that doesn’t include Martinique”.

As far as the professionals who might be interested, the organization says that it will notify them directly of any employment opportunity. The confidentiality of the organization’s data, explains Werlau, will be guaranteed, and only two people in Archivo Cuba will have access to it. “We’re only connecting interested parties with employment managers once we can give them the details of offers that are concrete and they authorize us to do so”, she specifies.

Exporting health services is the major source of income for the Cuban Government. In 2018, the last year of official statistics, Cuba received $6.4 billion for the export of health services.

Since last March, the Cuban Government has taken advantage of Covid-19 to send some 3,000 health workers to more than 40 countries, which, in addition to the fortune in payments this supposes, has allowed them to launch a world-wide propaganda campaign, even to claim the Nobel Peace Prize for the medical brigades, which they hope will be announced on the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s birth on August 13.

Translated by Regina Anavy 

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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.

Advice from Dentists on Avoiding Coronavirus Contagion / Juan Juan Almeida

This is a blue toothbrush (ready for a night on the town?)

Juan Juan Almeida, 8 August 2020 — Experts from the Official Dentists’ College of Castellón (CODECS) insist on the need to wash your hands before touching your toothbrush, clean and dry it correctly after each use and keep it from having contact with other members of the household in order to avoid cross contamination with Covid-19.

Other guidelines are to not share your toothbrush, place it in a vertical position and in a separate glass for each family member, put on the protective cap only if it has holes, wash your hands well before touching the toothbrush and keep it as far away as possible from the toilet. Make sure the whole bathroom is clean.

Translated by Regina Anavy

[Site Manager’s note: Yes, we’re all going a little stir crazy here.]

Havana Returns to a Previous Phase to Fight a Resurgence in Covid-19

The return to a previous phase of control for Covid-19 in Havana makes the lines and shortages worse.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 8, 2020 — The Cuban Government ordered the province of Havana to return to the phase of “limited local transmission” after a month of Phase 1 of the recovery. This was announced on Friday, after the daily meeting of the temporary working group on COVID-19, headed by Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The number of positives and serious cases hasn’t stopped going up in the last 10 days, and on Friday, 165 active cases and six open events were reported in the municipalities of Habana del Este, La Lisa and Marianao.

The Vice Prime Minister, Roberto Morales Ojeda, explained that “mathematical models” suggest that the Government “take measures that are very energetic, restrictive, complete and immediate”. continue reading

So the capital and its province take a step backwards to Phase 1, where it was on July 3. The return to this “phase of limited local transmission” supposes that only essential activities will take place, and that there will be strict restrictions on transport.

As part of these measures, the Havana airport will remain closed for an indefinite period, according to a report in el Nuevo Herald, and the much-desired arrival of international tourism will remain stopped.

The return to classes in September also remains compromised.

In Friday’s meeting, the situation in the province of Artemisa was evaluated, where there were three events of local transmission: one in the urban center of the municipality of Bauta and another in the People’s Council of Baracoa, where authorities say they’ve stabilized the contagion. There is also a report of an event at the Company of Construction and Assembly belonging to the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.

In the municipality of Camajuaní, Villa Clara, nine positive cases have been confirmed. Some of these people stayed in Havana, and the location was put under immediate quarantine.

For several weeks, the authorities have been blaming the resurgence in cases on “indiscipline”, and although Díaz-Canel reflected on the attitude of people who “aren’t inert, aren’t comfortable, aren’t satisfied” and therefore have the “will to confront anything”, he warned “the irresponsible ones, those who don’t cooperate: we have to tell them that this isn’t a game that you lose”.

With 310 active cases on the Island, the President notes that the pattern of behavior in the last two weeks has been favorable in the country, except in Havana and Artemisa: “In Artemisa, we can recover faster; in Havana, we have to work harder because the contagion is greater.”

The authorities in Havana have already published new restrictive measures on Thursday to try to stop the rise in illness in the capital, which includes a curfew from 11:00 pm to 9:00 am, restricting entrance from nearby provinces and limiting the hours for bars and restaurants.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Cuba is Criticized for Home Detentions, Dollarization and Persecution of ‘Coleros’

Cuban State Security operatives are becoming more common at the homes of activists. (Archivo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 3, 2020 — The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), headquartered in Madrid, in its July report, denounced the consolidation of a new pattern of repression on the Island, keeping activists in their homes. According to the NGO, although the practice isn’t new, it has increased this year. Already in February, before the pandemic, there were 44 actions of this type. In June there were 55, and in July the number increased to 72.

The network of the organization’s observers on the island calculates 314 repressive acts in July, of which 97 were arbitrary detentions, 68 were against men and 29 against women. In addition, at least 19 detentions were violent.

The OCDH records that these detentions take place de facto, without any type of judicial order or written documentation. “Although sometimes you don’t even know why they’re doing it, as happened on July 30”.

That day, several activists and journalists, among them a good part of the editorial staff of 14ymediowere obliged to remain in their homes by State Security agents. The journalists, Mónica Baró, Luz Escobar, Iliana Hernández, Hector Luis Valdés, Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar were affected, along with others, without having had any news about a trigger that would cause the authorities to protect themselves by taking such a decision. continue reading

On previous occasions, this type of action coincided with demonstrations against the Government or relevant political and social acts, something that wasn’t happening on July 30.

“While this mechanism is nothing new, we are seeing a growing trend in its application, in the measure in which they are lifting the restrictions for Covid-19. That’s why we’re identifying it as a pattern. Probably they’re looking to camouflage what in another moment will be an arbitrary detention,” says the OCDH.

“This type of mechanism is a clear violation of free movement and a way to prevent the exercise of other rights,” says the communication.

The NGO also reviewed the economic and social situation and believes that the elimination of the 10% tax on the dollar isn’t enough when prices are going up for basic necessities, which now are being sold in the hard currency shops. This situation is rejected by the Observatory, as three-quarters of Cubans don’t receive dollars, and salaries and pensions paid in Cuban pesos are very low.

“The dollarization of basic products in Cuba constitutes a violation of the right to food,” adds the report.

The report calls attention to a phenomenon that has been on the rise recently, first in the official media and now through direct physical confrontation: putting the coleros (people who stand in line for others) under the spotlight. Since last week, the official press has published columns of opinions that accuse resellers and coleros of hoarding and having no scruples about profiting by selling their turns in line to enter stores to purchase scarce items. On Friday, Miguel Díaz-Canel himself presided over a constitution ceremony of the new “groups to confront resellers, hoarders and coleros“, celebrated in the Plaza de la Patria in Bayamo.

“These groups will be formed by workers in the shops of Cimex, TRD and Caracol, by political cadres, mass organizations and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, and will have the mission of combating the indiscipline generated outside these establishments and the acts of reselling and hoarding, among other criminal conduct,” said the provincial newspaper of Granma, La Demajagua.

“Social pressure has increased against people who are trying to get a certain quantity of food in the shops, which worsens the already serious economic situation,” denounced the OCDH, something confirmed in last week’s movements.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.</p

The Castro Regime Declares War on the ‘Coleros’

An “ordinary” line in Cuba in pre-pandemic days. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerElías Amor Bravo, Economist, August 4, 2020 — The Regime designed by Fidel Castro has been based historically on informing, pitting Cubans against each other. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) were created to accomplish this mission. Denouncing deviant, non-revolutionary behavior was the slogan, so that then the authorities could take punitive measures. Snitching in itself became something inherent to the survival of the revolutionary Regime, a face of its identity that quickly obliged Cubans to react in order to survive.

With the passage of time, this system of informing acquired still more importance every time the country entered into crisis, as happened in different moments along its existence. Then someone “antisocial” was identified as the enemy and had to be harassed and have his life made impossible. Cubans know very well what I’m talking about, because that slogan of informing, repressing and expelling compatriots from Cuba has been happening for 61 years and has formed part of the DNA of three generations of Cubans. For the Communists, there’s only one model of society: theirs. The alternative isn’t admissible, and if it appears, it’s simply persecuted and eliminated. Cuba has been drained dry of its population because of the Regime’s ideological uniformity and policy of informing.

Now, in these most difficult moments with the economy moving towards collapse and the food crisis, the Castro Regime has identified a new enemy to destroy and has put all of the official press and propaganda at its service: the “hoarders”, resellers and coleros, (people who are paid to stand in line for someone else). This could become much worse if groups of “rapid response” are created, which has already been announced in Holguín. However, the Regime is surprised to see that the image of these citizens as “antisocial” and criminal collides with the extraordinary social acceptance of the services they provide. continue reading

Granma points out that attacks on hoarders, resellers and coleros are increasing on social networks, in Internet journals and television programs, and refers to multiple examples. But of course what they don’t say is that a good part of the complaints come from supporters and defenders of the Regime who have been instructed to post these messages. So far the waters are calm, but a storm may be coming.

Communist propaganda has put its point of view in a position that probably doesn’t coincide with most of the population. The criteria of the official Regime propaganda is based on a supposed nonconformity of the citizen affected by these behaviors associated with the “monopoly” of the lines that obliges them later to resort to acquiring products on the black market, at super-inflated prices. Certainly, this isn’t the order of things, as many Cubans explain.

On the contrary, the need to resort to those who “crash” the lines is motivated by the fact that, after several unsuccessful attempts, people are tired of wasting time and not getting what they want, because what exists in the shops is insufficient. Even more, people with physical difficulties can’t stand in line for hours.

Then along comes someone who offers his turn in line, generally among the first, so the consumer is sure of having access to the desired product. The early turn doesn’t fall from the sky, like manna. You have to fight for it, keep watch on the door of the establishment, spend one night or several out in the elements, sleeping the best you can and away from your family. The colero business, in the informal economy, is one of the most important that has existed in Cuba in its 61 years of lines and hardship.

What’s wrong with that? The line is nothing more than a consequence of the Regime’s poor economic management, and that’s where the responsibility lies, not with the people who dedicate time, strength, lack of sleep and the ability to manage a job that has a great social benefit, which, logically, should yield a private benefit, and which will last as long as shortages and poverty exist.

The Regime’s propaganda on this subject is so far off base that it even presumes that these behaviors are related to “the media war that has faced Cuba for more that six decades”. Incredible.

Coleros and resellers arise because there are lines. The hoarders, as Granma calls them, are people who fear that products will disappear from the store and simply won’t be there when you want them. The lines are caused by deficient economic management. Citizens who attack the coleros and resellers, if they even exist, should direct their anger at the Communist leaders, who, for sure, don’t have to spend long hours in the lines of misfortune. If someone doesn’t have access to “essential purchases” as a consequence of the monopoly and control of the lines, he should know that the only one responsible for that situation is the Communist leader at the head of the country, and he’s the one they should ask to explain.

The great irresponsibility of the official press is to use this scenario to pit Cubans one against the other, promote snitching and accusations, and ultimately, return to more of the same, always. This isn’t good for a country, nor should it continue in these times of special gravity. In addition, if the Regime continues forward with its plans to eliminate coleros, hoarders and resellers, as the Cimex stores have announced, the economic situation for many Cubans will get worse, and the need to “resolve” [ed. note: the all-purpose Cuban word for figuring out how to get by] will again become a difficult problem.

Lastly, Granma has to be told that of course Cubans have the right to complain about shortages in the shops, without the need to ridicule anything. The Regime’s errors in economic management are very visible here. In the stores that accept only dollars and a few other foreign currencies there is no problem with buying what you want; in the State stores there is greater injustice. In Cuba, as much as the State declares that no one will be abandoned, the coleros, hoarders and resellers help resolve the need for food and cleaning products. More than a negative social attitude, they offer a service to society. They don’t abandon anyone.

Thus, there is no historic duty for revolutionaries to close the way to those Cubans who want to offer solutions to their compatriots. Those who close the way are precisely those who cause the lines, and they need to understand this in order to break the chains that bind the Cuban people to a policy and ideology that is contrary to human reason.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.