Yeilis Torres and 21 other Cubans are at Guantanamo Base Awaiting Resettlement in a Third Country

Activist Yeilis Torres Cruz has been at the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantánamo since last May. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 November 2022 — The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that 22 Cubans are waiting for “resettlement in a third country” at the Migrant Operations Center of the Guantánamo Naval Base (MOC). Among them is activist Yeilis Torres Cruz, who spent ten months in prison under investigation for the crime of attack after she was assaulted by the official announcer Humberto López.

The former prosecutor, who was ’regulated’ [the term for being formally forbidden to leave the country], found a way out and escaped on a raft with seven other people, but on their journey to Florida they were intercepted, and only she was given to opportunity to stay at Guantánamo because of “a credible fear.”

With a six-month stay in Guantánamo, Torres “remains in migratory limbo,” her husband, Pavel Pérez, explained to Radio y Televisión Martí. “Basically, the disciplinary regulations are rigorous. They have restrictions on free mobility, lack internet access and must be escorted when going to the nearest beach.”

On November 18, the day she turned 35, Torres received a video call from her husband, who showed her a stuffed animal and chocolate candy as a gift. As he revealed, among the rules to follow in Guantánamo is the possibility of making three five-minute calls, “always under the presence of a custodian” and having a bicycle to take tours. It’s forbidden to talk to the media and receive money.

Those detained in Guantánamo were rescued by the Coast Guard between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022, according to Radio Martí.

According to an official from the same publication, the balseros [rafters] were interviewed by staff of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). “They demonstrated a credible fear of persecution and torture,” noting the risks they ran in case of being returned to the Island. continue reading

The State Department provides for the custody and care of migrants in the MOC until the time of their resettlement in a third country.

A spokesperson for the US Department of State assured the BBC that 445 people had been relocated to third countries through the Migration Operations Center based in Guantánamo since 1996. The vast majority were Cubans.

In addition to the 22 Cubans, there are three Haitians and three Dominicans in the Migrant Operations Center who, according to USCIS, “are not detained and can request return to their respective countries whenever they wish.”

This Monday, the Border Patrol rescued two migrants who were about to drown in the Florida Keys. The chief officer of the Miami sector, Walter Slosar, specified on his social networks that 18 people were rescued, without publicizing their nationality.

On Saturday, Slosar reported the landing of eight rafts in the Florida Keys of 180 Cubans in the last 48 hours. All were placed in the custody of the Border Patrol to continue being processed.

That same Saturday, 53 people were repatriated to the Island aboard the William Flores ship. “The Coast Guard and partner agencies are patrolling the Straits of Florida, the Windward and Mona Passages to stop illegal migration,” reiterated non-commissioned officer of District Seven, Nicole Groll.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

With Uniforms Donated by China and Without Textbooks, This is How the School Year Begins in Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, November 28, 2022 — Not even in Cuba, immersed in a deep economic crisis, do children cease to be excited about the first day of school. Thus, this Monday, when the 2022-2023 cycle begins, enthusiasm and shouts were evident at the school doors, not only in Havana but in other provincial cities.

Parents, of course, know full well that the course not only begins off balance, once again, due to the various interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, but with worrying shortages. Hence their long faces, distant from the enthusiasm of the children.

We walk around like crazy people looking for polyester for linings and fasteners,” a Havana mother complained this Monday. “Not to mention the price of backpacks or shoes, or all the notebooks that will have to be bought, because they have already said that they’re not going to distribute what they did in other years.”

Indeed, the Minister of Education herself, Ena Elsa Velázquez, explained the situation last week in State Television’s Roundtable program.

On the one hand, students would receive half of the notebooks that are usually given to them, Velázquez said, an “adjusted standard” that will also be applied to pencils: one per month, unlike the two that used to be offered.

Students will continue to use the dilapidated textbooks that have already passed through hundreds of hands. “We have indicated the need to recover the existing ones for redistribution,” the minister said, alluding to the custom of many students to “stay” with their books, often “solved” by paying the teachers for the privilege of a copy in good condition.

However, Velázquez assured that the books are also available in digital format for “students who have conditions for it,” a measure that, in her opinion, will be beneficial for “those who don’t have the necessary resources.” Although the school year is about to begin, the workbooks are barely “in production,” and the minister warns that there is little paper available in the print shop. continue reading

As for school uniforms, to the lack of which the population is already accustomed, there is a demand for 2,153,310 garments, according to Mirla Díaz Fonseca, President of the Light Industry business group. According to the official, the blackouts have prevented achieving the “work rhythm” necessary for the uniforms to be ready for the beginning of the school year.

Students in Sancti Spirits. (14ymedio)

Thus, only 1,274,000 garments can be delivered. The rest, if the materials are obtained, will have to wait until February. Díaz Fonseca explained that not even that amount would have been possible without “a donation from China” and the “new method” of re-dyeing the old mustard-colored uniforms blue.  The old uniforms were worn in basic secondary schools before the change of design, which was carried out in the midst of a serious commodity crisis, and the dying process is now carried out by the textile manufacturer of Villa Clara.

The deficit of uniforms will be felt in the establishments provided by the Ministry of Internal Trade to sell them. Although it is customary to bribe the salespeople of these shops or to resell garments, the fact that the uniforms will be available for sale in only 1,900 stores will make the purchase even more difficult.

Those who don’t manage to get the uniforms or don’t reuse the ones they already have will still have to “attend school with the appropriate clothes,” said the Minister of Education. Without explaining where and how parents will be able to buy those clothes for their children, or defining what she considers “appropriate,” Velázquez apologized by stating that the school year was “a challenge for everyone,” and that things would be different if not for the US blockade, which is “hardening.”

Food is another issue that will not improve, and Velázquez avoided talking about it, although it mainly affects boarding schools, semi-boarding schools, households without subsidiary protection and basic secondary schools that follow the school snack regimen.

What she did say was that “the confrontation with cultural colonization” is, now more than ever, a priority of the educational system and its “political-ideological work system.” Invoking as “paradigms” Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Velázquez said that the Ministry of Education is targeting those “young people who do not study or work” and teachers and managers who support “unacceptable” behavior, because “from indiscipline come crime and corruption.”

This newspaper has collected numerous testimonies of students in primary, secondary* and pre-university* schools who have been prohibited from entering classrooms with T-shirts that include the name of brands, signs or eye-catching figures. In some schools, the wearing of black T-shirts is not allowed, because black is considered “an opposition color.”

Another problem that the official media don’t talk about is the gap between those who have hard currency to buy what is necessary and those who don’t. “And now the cellphone is a problem,” adds a father of Sancti Spíritus. “Imagine that since everyone has a cellphone, my daughter also wants one, and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to afford it.”

As for the foreseeable lack of teaching staff, caused by last year’s unstoppable migratory exodus, the authorities did not give figures, but in schools in Havana they found many “new faces” among teachers. “And not all the positions are covered,” says a teacher from the capital who prefers to remain anonymous.

*Translator’s note: In the United States these designations would be “junior high school” and “high school.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Raul Castro Spoke In Chinese, Will Diaz-Canel Do It?

Díaz-Canel in Beijing. (Minrex)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 25 November 2022 — The chronicles of the time say that when he had already replaced his brother at the head of power, Raúl Castro received a delegation of Chinese in Havana and surprised everyone by speaking Chinese and singing songs from that country. Will Díaz-Canel do the same? Anything can be expected.

Well, after 15 and a half hours of flight from Ankara, Díaz-Canel’s pan-handling delegation arrived in Beijing, with the aim of raising money, this time from the supposed Chinese friends. And here the term “supposed” can be taken any way you want. Unlike the Russians, with whom there was an ideological connection from the early days of the so-called cold-war revolution, Chinese and Cuban friendship went through different stages, some of them complicated, especially when Fidel Castro publicly condemned Mao Tse Tung’s repressive action in the 1960s during the cultural revolution, standing alongside the Soviets.

Who would have thought? Almost half a century later, Castro’s heir arrives in the capital of the forbidden city precisely on the same day that the death of the maximum leader is commemorated. The Cuban communist state press has made it very clear to him: the front pages are for the immortal. The trip to China has been relegated to second or third place.

Someone might believe that this is due to the preeminence in Cuba of Fidel Castro, who is treated on the sixth anniversary of his death as if he were still alive. But no, it seems that the maneuver of ’disappearing’ the trip of Díaz-Canel’s entourage obeys more obvious reasons, such as, for example, that it is still a failure in terms of the collection of money and in the identification of a “milk cow” that provides the Díaz-Canel regime with financing in exchange for nothing, as the USSR and Venezuela did. Times have changed, and no one is ready for that game. And we shall see what happens with the Chinese. continue reading

Díaz-Canel said that he has presented himself in China with an invitation from the only party, the Chinese communist, whose leader, Xi Jinping, the same character who publicly purged his predecessor during the 20th congress and who questioned the Prime Minister of Canada for disclosing content to the press in the G-20. President Xi is someone who doesn’t mess around. Again, the Cuban communist delegation arrived at the Beijing airport at an untimely hour and was received by a very low-level government official, Xie Feng, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Facing the caravan’s media, and for domestic consumption, Díaz Canel said that “it is a pleasure to be in the People’s Republic of China. For us it is an honor that we have been invited, as the first country in Latin America, to visit China, after the successful celebration of the 20th Congress,” insisting once again on the invitation, because the cost of the trip, for a budget like the Cuban one, begins to be scandalous. An independent audit of expenses would show that, apart from the invitation, there is a lot of expenditure in this entourage that is little or not at all justified for the Cuban people, whom they claim to serve, and who are hungry.

It was announced that during the visit there will be official talks with Xi Jinping, Li Zhanshu, President of the National People’s Assembly and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, as well as the signing of more than ten agreements between the parties.

The good relations between China and Cuba are part of the global strategy of the Asian giant to occupy positions of economic control in Latin America. China, in its objective of becoming the world’s leading power, has developed a global extractive model of income and resources in the countries where it is established, and through this mechanism it increases its economic power, grants aid for cooperation, permeates financial systems and occupies commercial positions in sectors of interest.

Its interest in politics is relative. Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have witnessed that extractive invasion of China that has benefitted significantly from globalization. The strategy has worked well for the Asian giant. Producing low-cost goods worldwide by international companies installed in its territory, China has obtained substantial trade benefits that have increased its economic power. The rest is known.

And meanwhile, Díaz-Canel is talking about China as if it were an “ancient civilisation whose cultural and historical values have endured over time and constitute a heritage not only of China, but of all humanity”; or he’s recalling Che Gievara’s visit in 1960 to establish relations. And from all this he concludes that “this profile is the one that has captivated the Island despite the geographic distance.” This argument that can look pretty good in a second-class brochure, but it has very little to do with global geopolitics. Getting off the plane in Beijing, and wearing a black beret, Díaz-Canel, according to Granma, sent “the warmest congratulations to my counterpart Xi Jinping,” who at that time was sleeping soundly.

Another mistake by Díaz-Canel is to think that Cuba and China are today references for the construction of socialism. All you have to do is to take a walk around Beijing, or any of the great capitals that are filling up with skyscrapers, to verify the enormous distance between Chinese socialism and the communist destruction that exists in Cuba. Wanting to compare the two countries is an insult to intelligence, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Xi, with the character he has, commented on it.

Díaz-Canel has placed cooperation in the biotechnology sector as the main objective of the visit, but there must be more. In fact, China ranks second in the world as a commercial partner of the Island, a short distance from Venezuela, which is receding. Cuba’s exports to China reached 417 million dollars in 2021 (ONEI yearbook), 21% of the total, just behind Canada, which reached 613 million dollars. On the other hand, Cuba’s imports from China reached 972 million dollars, 11.5% of the total. In this case, China was behind Venezuela, with 1.245 billion dollars. This position of second trading partner of the Island is accompanied by a very unbalanced trade deficit of minus 555 million dollars that requires financing. On the other hand, in 2021 only 799 tourists from China came to Cuba, after reaching 49,000 in 2018.

The Cuban communist regime’s commitment to China carries risks. Basically, because the Chinese don’t give anything for free. They always demand something in return, such as the part of the sugar harvest that corresponds to them and which Cuba cannot manage to deliver, due to the low levels of harvests in recent years. Or in the case of minerals, or tobacco, the Chinese have travelled to Cuba to look for resources to extract, but the landscape they find is well known: devastation and widespread poverty. In addition, the Chinese are not interested in tourism or services, which is what Díaz-Canel offers. The Chinese don’t give a fig about coincidences on the political level with the Cuban regime; they want something else.

The visit to the Asian giant has just begun. The entourage is already tired of so many thousands of miles. The bet is high, but the results are uncertain. It doesn’t seem that China will become the substitute for Venezuela. It will ask for something in return.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

In Cuban Prisons, Prisoners Survive Thanks to Private Initiatives

The family of political prisoner Andy García Lorenzo manages the funds and ensures that they are distributed fairly. (Facebook/Roxana García Lorenzo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yankiel Gutiérrez Faife, Camajuaní, 26 November 2022 — Without the help of charitable organizations and private donors, prisoners would be on the verge of starvation in Cuban prisons, where they receive from the State the bare minimum to survive. “Lately the contributions have been greatly reduced,” laments Jonatan López, brother-in-law of political prisoner Andy García Lorenzo, who inspired the Funds for the Victims of Communism initiative. “We have up to 110 beneficiaries, but now we have resources for only about 44 detainees.”

“We’re a bridge for delivering food to prisoners in Cuba. We receive small donations from people who are sympathetic to the cause and help low-income families,” explains Jonatan López in conversation with 14ymedio.

“Andy knew what it was to go to bed hungry, without being able to satisfy himself with the small portion of food they get in jail,” López says. On each visit, they assure, they tried to bring the young man everything he needed. “But he always asked for more, because he wanted to share his food with the others.”

Funds for the Victims of Communism — promoted on social networks under the name of Help the Brave of 11J [11 July 2021 protests] — is responsible for raising money so that families can provide prisoners with food, toiletries, cigarettes and everything they need during their imprisonment. continue reading

The organization takes care of raising money so that families can provide prisoners with food, toiletries, cigarettes and everything they need during their imprisonment. (14ymedio)

The economic crisis on the Island and the increase in the price of food and basic necessities have had a negative impact on the situation of prisoners, and it’s difficult to provide them with the bag of supplies during family visits.

The visibility of the García Lorenzo family, following the multiple complaints made by its members, contributed to the project gaining notoriety and interest from donors. After initially refusing to send money, they decided — in December 2021 — to create a structure to collect funds.

The initial recipients were 15 families of political prisoners in Villa Clara, but the direct transmissions of Roxana García Lorenzo — Andy’s sister — and the complaints of other activists allowed increasing the number of donations and expanding the scope of the organization.

At the moment, the funds are destined for the families of 44 inmates in the western and central regions of the Island, for whom 3,000 pesos per month are deposited on their cards to buy products intended to cover their basic needs. The same amount has been given, at least once, to 110 prisoners.

Jonatan López, recently exiled in Germany, explained to 14ymedio that “to assist 110 prisoners, 4,500 to 5,000 dollars must be paid monthly, in order to distribute 6,000 pesos to each prisoner. And even so, their needs are not fully met, but it would be a huge relief for those families who, in many cases, have run out of their main economic livelihood,” he said, alluding to the fact that the work of many of the young people arrested was what supported their families.

The García Lorenzos manage the funds and ensure that they are distributed fairly. Activist Samuel Rodríguez Ferrer, a resident of the United States, is responsible for managing the PayPal and Zelle accounts opened for donations, which are then sent in their entirety to Cuba, without subtracting administrative or promotion expenses from the initiative. Ways have been found, says the activist, so that “the dictatorship does not access this currency” at the time of the transfers.

In addition, as they clarify on their website, the organization “is not political, nor is it affiliated with any party, organization or government. We do not receive a federal grant from the United States, or from any other country. Donations come from individuals and independent companies.”

Jonatan López records the donations in a public Excel document, to ensure transparency, while Pedro López, his father — also in the situation of asylum seeker in Germany — and his wife, Roxana García, from Santa Clara, are responsible for managing the organization. Through different channels, with the help of people traveling to the Island, the money reaches the families of the inmates.

“This project is so that they don’t feel alone, and they know that there are people outside and inside helping them,” Pedro López explains to 14ymedio. “You go against the dictatorship, they try to isolate everyone who dissents, and one of the ways is to tell them that they are alone. They try to demoralize them,” he says.

Despite their exile, Pedro and Jonatan López took measures so that the project didn’t stop. So far, they say, State Security has not confiscated their supplies, which in some cases are transported on national buses.

“It’s not difficult to work from the outside. We created an infrastructure made up of the same relatives, so that it wouldn’t stop when we left,” Pedro López says.

The work of the organization has not been without controversy. Several opponents have opined that the project “accommodates the relatives of prisoners,” which prevents them from “protesting” for the freedom of their relatives. These criticisms “do not make sense,” says Jonatan López. “The funds barely alleviate the situation of the families, and, in addition, the prisoners are not to blame for not assuming a ’frontal position’ against the regime in their homes.”

“We believe that it’s unfair to deprive them of this help, which is only the most basic, food, because their families don’t want to protest,” added the young man who, exiled in Germany due to pressure from State Security, confirmed to this newspaper his willingness to continue working on the project, combined with other initiatives such as I lend you my voice, Justice 11J, Where you fall, I’ll pick you up and the Accompaniment Groups of the Cuban Conference of Clergy (Concur).

For her part, Roxana García — known for her strong denunciations of the Government for the harassment of her brother — remains in Cuba, along with her parents, to continue demanding his freedom and that of the almost 1,000 political prisoners of the Island.

Several relatives of the prisoners have expressed their gratitude to the Funds for the Victims of Communism. Yanet Rodríguez from Holguin pointed out that the project has provided “help to the east of the country,” since most of the initiatives of this type are concentrated in the western region or the main cities of the Island.

Saily Núñez, wife of protester Maykel Puig, described the work of the organization as “extremely transparent,” while Niurka Ricardo, mother of prisoner Mario Josué Prieto, described the project as “something extraordinary and very human,” since it guarantees the food and medicines that are sent in the jabito (“little bag) to the inmates.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

China and Cuba: a Lot of Noise, Little Action

Díaz-Canel with his wife Liz Cuesta boarding the plane from Ankara to Beijing. (Cuba Presidency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 27 November 2022 — Back in Havana, the state press has started a propaganda campaign aimed at exalting the results of a trip, which leave much to be desired. The first to speak has been exactly the one who should be silent, taking into account that little or nothing has been achieved by his department on this trip. We refer to Alejandro Gil, Cuban Minister of Economy, who described relations with China as “a new starting point, a relaunch of our country’s relations with the Asian giant.” So he wishes.

It is true that “twelve legal instruments” were signed as Granma says, but there is a long stretch from the saying to the fact. The minister even dared to quantify at 100 million dollars the Chinese donations to Cuba (practically nothing) and the reopening of new state funding, but in reality, like most of the trip, Chinese support is aimed at old projects that are either underway or have not even started, like the Floating Dam project, which since 2019 and even before has not been completed.

The lesson that Díaz-Canel and his entourage have learned from this trip is that the Chinese have not given money for banalities or to sustain an inefficient political system, as the USSR or Venezuela did, but have provided funding for concrete projects to be developed by the Cuban communist state. And this is the source of the main problem.

The communist regime inherited from Fidel Castro has more than shown its inability to develop investments in infrastructure, in fixed capital, in projects of mid-life cycle, in energy, housing and real estate developments (except hotels). At the same time, it has an extraordinary voracity for spending on current projects, which is consumed in the annual budgets.

The data are eloquent. The share of the investment aggregate in the GDP of the economy, about 10%, is less than half of that recorded in Latin American countries. The low investment in Cuba is the result of a political choice that has conditioned the state’s intervention in the economy, which has resulted in the deficient general state that it presents. continue reading

The Chinese money is a double-edged sword, because it requires discipline, efficiency and effectiveness from the Cuban communist state — attributes that it lacks — in order to undertake projects of a certain magnitude with the guarantees provided. So the money will be there, in front of the eyes of Díaz-Canel and company, but its execution will be problematic if things do not change, and by a lot.

It’s like the Algerian power plant. Who is going to build it, with what technology and at what cost of time and money? The Chinese have put their cards on the table, and although they have granted money — this is undeniable — they have sent a message to the Cuban communists that the waste, adventure and the little campaigns to organise trouble in other countries are over. China is not Venezuela, nor does it want to be.

In that sense, one has the impression that the “legal instruments” that Granma talks about are designed, precisely, to adjust the accounts to Cuban partners, and that China plans to give money as the projects progress.

The question is, is the Cuban communist state ready to undertake all those investments and make it through? There are doubts.

In the Cuban economy there is everything. From planned and never-executed investments to investments with an advanced degree of execution, but which are pending some administrative work. And others that, when executed over very long periods, end up being allocated to different purposes than those for which they were planned. The Chinese know this situation and don’t believe in that model. Its economy advances along a different path in which the expected profitability of the projects is the determinant of investment, while the political criteria have gone to a better life.

So in the end, the only thing that will benefit the Havana regime is the donation of the 100 million dollars that Minister Gil talks about. For the moment he is the only one who has mentioned that figure, and the debt negotiations with China are reaching out-of-control dimensions, as this country becomes the second buyer and supplier of Cuba’s foreign trade.

The Chinese, who were sympathetic to the economic situation of the Island, want to collect or at least secure the payment, and there doesn’t seem to be good news there either. And for this they demand adequate plans for the ordering and restructuring of the debt, because otherwise, the credits associated with China’s investment projects in Cuba will be paralysed.

It’s the same as Díaz-Canel’s idea of attracting Chinese companies to invest directly in Cuba and that it not be all state aid. No matter how much political convergence exists between the two countries, these Chinese companies respond to management boards oriented by the perspective of profit, and they will not be willing to invest in ruinous businesses in Cuba. There are no data to justify it, but the low Chinese direct investment in Cuba since the adoption of Law 118 is amazing.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

With Dams Invaded by Weeds, Aquaculture Reduces its Production by Half in Cuba

The Sancti Spíritus Fishing Company reports that the catch deficit in the province is 1,694 tons. (Escambray)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2022 — The aquaculture workers of Sancti Spíritus have been able to fulfill only 57% of their production plan for 2022. A lower presence of species, the shortage of fuel to carry out the extraction work and the lack of maintenance of the dams are some of the difficulties they face.

Miriam Solano Valle, a specialist in Aquaculture at the Sancti Spíritus Fishing Company, told the provincial newspaper Escambray that the production deficit to date is 1,694 tons. The decline will affect the production of foods that use fish as raw material and that are distributed in the network of specialized ’boxes’.

Solano Valle indicated that the different fishponds, mainly the Zaza dam, have not received maintenance or cleaning in the areas covered with invasive plants since 2017, due to fuel shortages. The same cause hinders the entire food and beverage industry on the Island and has slowed down production from bread-making to meat plants.

As a result, the company spokeswoman explained, 40% of the surface of Cuba’s largest pond is covered with weeds and the invasive marabu, which hinder the fishermen’s maneuvers, since fish find refuge in the weeds. continue reading

To the rosary of problems that afflict the sector are added the damage to the ice plant and the freezing tunnel and delays attributed to the excessive rain from Hurricane Ian, at the end of last September.

Nor has this 2022 been able to increase the offspring at the Alevines Station of the Sancti Spíritus municipality of La Sierpe. Of the 31.4 million offspring that are destined each year for this fish pond, about 30 million were sent to Zaza, where 87% of the catches in the province are obtained.

Solano Valle pointed out that the decline in fishing is also due to unprotected exploitation in the intensive cultivation of clarias and tilapia, which are then used as raw materials in the production of feed for farm animals.

The crisis of the fishing sector in Cuba doesn’t seem to ease, nor is there a glimpse of the possibility of recovery. A year ago, in December 2021, the Government recognized that this sensitive sector for Cuban families will not recover the levels of production it experienced more than three decades ago.

Aquaculture has been a lifeline in Cuba, because the country cannot fish in international waters since it doesn’t meet the requirements and has not renewed its old fleets. In addition, the Island has no truly fast-flowing rivers that allow adequate freshwater fishing.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

The Harvest Begins in Cuba After the Worst Planting of Sugarcane in More Than a Century

In other times, the sugar industry was the economic engine of Cuba but it suffered a drastic fall in production from the 1990s. (ACN)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 26 November 2022 — Cuba’s 2022-2023 sugar harvest began this Friday with the goal of producing 455,198 tons of sugar in a harvest that will be “small,” seeking to resuscitate the depressed sector.

In this harvest, started in the central province of Cienfuegos, it is planned to grind 6.5 million tons of sugar cane with only 23 factories, 13 fewer than in the previous harvest, according to the strategy set out by the Azcuba state group, which manages the area.

It’s about making an “objective and flexible harvest, although small, with good practices,” concentrating resources in fewer sugar mills with the aspiration to achieve “greater efficiency,” as explained by the president of Azcuba, Julio García Pérez.

The purpose will be to concentrate production for family consumption through the rationing book — which delivers 4 pounds of sugar per person per month — as well as for tourism, medicines, industrial production and export. continue reading

In addition to producing to satisfy national consumption, the sector’s plans aim to produce more alcohol, electricity and derivatives for domestic consumption and the foreign market.

Cuban President Diaz-Canel Gets a Donation From China of 100 Million Dollars and More Cybersecurity

Rodrigo Malmierca, the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, has carried out all the concrete negotiations in Algeria, Turkey, Russia and now in China. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2022 — In China, the last station of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s panhandling tour, the Cuban delegation signed a dozen agreements and appealed to “friendship among the peoples” to extend Havana’s debt terms with Beijing and get an “emergency donation” of about one hundred million dollars.

The negotiations focussed on biotechnology (essential to continue manufacturing vaccines), energy and the most recent obsession of the Cuban regime: cybersecurity and computer surveillance, which will give it more technological resources to control the population and prevent new protests such as those of July 11, 2021.

Locked in a “bubble” against the resurgence of coronavirus that China is going through, Díaz-Canel told the journalists who accompanied him on the trip that the results “are above our expectations.” According to him, Xi told him that “we have to find solutions to all of Cuba’s problems,” despite “the challenges with debt.”

His “small country” — as he has also defined Cuba in front of Putin and Erdogan — will pay, although he is not sure when. We must provide China, he explained, with guarantees to “help our friends feel secure about what we are doing,” because “they’re taking off a little” to accommodate the default on the debt, whose repayment has been impossible since 2019. continue reading

Díaz-Canel affirmed that he felt the need to “explain” to Xi the rosary of “involuntary” calamities that have shaken the Island: accidents, hurricanes, coronavirus and, of course, the “hardening” of the US blockade, which has caused a “tense situation” for his government. “It’s not the same when you can talk, when you can explain, when things can be understood from sensitivity,” he said.

The Chinese “are open,” the president concluded, which he interpreted as a sign that his arguments about Cuba’s willingness to accept foreign investment had worked.

Díaz-Canel will return to Cuba with an “emergency cash donation” of about one hundred million dollars, the result of one of the twelve agreements signed with Xi. In addition, there will be another donation of food and medicines, signed by Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, who has carried out all the concrete negotiations in Algeria, Turkey, Russia and now China.

Beijing will also offer the Island the indispensable raw materials — in addition to an economic donation — to complete the number of school uniforms for the year that begins next Monday, which will start with a notable deficit of material. Another of the contracts guarantees the supply of “kitchen utensils for high-impact programs.”

Several agreements, the most ambiguous, define a “plan of political consultations” between the Cuban and Chinese Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Signed by Chancellor Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, it was not explained what the nature of these “consultations” would be, which Cuba will be obliged to offer until 2025. The contract for “exchange and cooperation” between the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban Communist Party is also political.

The expansion of the new Silk Road and the role of “entry” to Latin America that the Island has were ensured by several “memoranda of understanding,” signed by Malmierca.

In an interview published in Cubadebate, Alejandro Gil, Minister of Economy and member of the Cuban delegation, assured that these agreements are the gateway to “new financing” from Beijing. Funds will be provided to activate the Floating Dam installed in 2019 — essential for the construction and repair of ships on the Island — and to execute a program of “reconversion or modernization” of the Cuban press, one of the main interests of the Chinese Communist Party, according to Gil.

In addition, the financing of a wind energy park, another solar park in Las Tunas and two bio-pesticide plants in Havana and Villa Clara will be explored. And Chinese companies have been invited to make “direct investments” on Cuban territory, the minister said.

The most disturbing agreements, however, are those that promise Chinese aid in the digital and telecommunications fields. In addition to the execution of a “Biocubafarma Cloud Telepresence System,” which promotes digitization in the vaccine and drug manufacturing sector, China signed a project to organize a National Identity System for Natural Persons and another Wireless Network Supervision System.

To both projects — backed by an economic donation — is added a Forensic Data Laboratory that the Government plans to execute. The implications of these contracts for espionage and state surveillance of the Cuban population will be notable, since they guarantee the use on the Island of the digital monitoring systems that Xi Jinping and his Government have been implementing in their own country for years.

With the creation, this Wednesday, of a National Working Group for Cybersecurity, the Cuban regime is taking more concrete steps in the surveillance of the digital environment and Cuban communications. A recent alliance of Xetid, the technology company of the Armed Forces, with Etecsa, makes evident the growing government interest in executing an “offensive” on social networks.

This was confirmed by Cuban Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, who together with Álvaro López Miera, Minister of the Armed Forces, organised a cybersecurity workshop to display surveillance equipment — several of Chinese manufacture — that the Government will install on the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Cuban President Diaz-Canel Arrives in China to ‘Promote the Adaptation of Marxism to Our Time’

Díaz-Canel with his wife Liz Cuesta boarding the plane from Ankara to Beijing. (Cuba Presidency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 24 November 2022 — Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is heading to China now. It’s the last stop of a presidential tour aimed at courting some partners to whom, in return, little can be promised except influence on the American continent and agreements in countries where the Island still retains some prestige, such as in healthcare.

On the eve of this visit, the Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui, offered an interview to the Xinhua state agency in which he made clear the idea: “We will work together to promote the great practice of adapting Marxism to our time and, together, undertake a new socialist construction with its own characteristics, for the benefit of the two countries and the two peoples, and make new and greater contributions to the bright future of humanity.”

Ma Hui stressed that both countries have had a high level of cooperation for 10 years, the greatest example of which has been the Chinese aid sent to Cuba during the pandemic and the three great tragedies that took place in 2022: the explosion of the Saratoga hotel in Havana, fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base and the passage of Hurricane Ian.

According to the ambassador, the areas of collaboration will be extended from this visit to energy, agriculture, biomedicine, science and technology, education and culture. Few sectors are left out of this cooperation, since some agreements were not mentioned but are already known to exist in transport and industry. Those that were named involve exports from the Island that include the typical rum and tobacco, honey and other products that have disappeared from the life of Cubans, such as sea cucumber, eel and some fruits.

It’s important to take care of the relationship, then, since it affects almost everything. Good proof of this is that even the most unsuspected things have a Chinese hand behind them. “We have been able to secure the clothing that we already have available thanks to a donation from China,” revealed the Cuban Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, appearing Tuesday on State TV’s Roundtable program, referring to the school uniforms.

The official explained that the start of the 2022-2023 academic year will begin next Monday, November 28, after accumulated delays due to the pandemic, and China is providing the financing. Mirla Díaz Fonseca, continue reading

President of the Business Group of Light Industry (GEMPIL), stated that the initial demand was for 2,153,310 garments, but the quantity had to be adjusted to 1,274,000 garments, of which 100% have been delivered to primary schools.

Uniforms are lacking, the officials said, basically because of the blackouts, and they have had to resort to techniques such as the blue-dyeing of the old mustard uniforms. “We have asked for help from the seamstresses in the sports industry, for example, and we are talking about using the GEMPIL carriers to distribute the fabric, pieces and buttons,” they added.

However, little would have been achieved without the aid from China, which, in addition, provided financing; however, no further details were given.

All this exchange, which has made China the second largest trading partner of the Island, provides the Asian giant with a gateway to Latin America, where it has been consolidating its influence over the years. This Thursday, the country’s state press pointed out that the volume of bilateral trade between China and Cuba increased by 7.2% in 2021. In addition, trade continued to grow in the first three quarters of this year, and China’s imports from Cuba even increased by 18.1%.

The improvement is reflected on the rest of the continent, since, according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, 21 countries in the region have signed some type of collaboration with the New Silk Roads, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese plan to build roads, railways, ports, logistics platforms and other infrastructure in more than 60 countries.

“The Chinese and Latin American economies are highly complementary, and among them there is enormous potential for cooperation,” said the spokeswoman, adding that the volume of trade between the two regions “has fully recovered and already exceeds that existing before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the Chinese ambassador to Havana, “China and Cuba are linked by common ideals and beliefs, and as traveling companions of socialism, they will take advantage of this visit as an opportunity to continue strengthening the relationship between the two parties and the two nations.”

Hardly any information has emerged about the official agenda, although it’s expected to develop in an “anti-covid bubble,” through which the entourage’s contact with the outside is avoided.

Carlos Miguel Pereira, Cuban Ambassador to China, just announced that Díaz-Canel “will honor Chinese heroes” and stressed that after 62 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations, bilateral ties “have reached full maturity.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

The United States Calls for the Release of Cuban Protesters Detained on 11 July 2021 (11J)

Photo of Jonathan Torres Farrat with his mother published by Nichols to demand the release of the llJ prisoners. (@WHAAsstSecty)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana/Washington, 24 November 2022 — The United States called for the release of Cuban demonstrators detained in the protests of July 11, 2021, who are being tried this Wednesday, including Jonathan Torres, a minor when the events occurred.

“We are concerned about the upcoming trial of Jonathan Torres Farrat, who was only 17 years old during the 11J protests. He faces up to 8 years in prison,” the Undersecretary for Latin America of the State Department, Brian Nichols, said on social media.

The message is accompanied by a photograph of the young man, who was accused of “public disorder” and “assault” after participating in the largest protests in Cuba in decades. “Families must be together. The Cuban government must release Jonathan and other detained protesters,” adds the head of relations with Latin America holding the foreign portfolio.

Torres’ mother, Bárbara Farrat, said she felt hopeful after the first day of the trial, speaking to the Spanish agency EFE. “There is hope that a lower penalty will be achieved,” she said.

Farrat, who defends her son’s innocence, said she observed that the president of the Havana court who judges him could opt for the penalty of “correctional work without internment.” continue reading

Torres’ mother had been summoned to testify against her own son, but refrained from doing so, she told EFE.

In the first session of the trial, the testimony of one of the witnesses for the Prosecutor’s Office — a police officer who claimed to have been assaulted by the demonstrators — was discarded after he contradicted himself and failed to identify his attackers, according to the mother and her husband, Orlando Ramírez. “They presented videos as evidence (against the 15 prosecuted), but there were times when an expert said that he could only be 50% sure that it was Jonathan. They also wanted to say that it was him because of the color of his shoes,” Ramírez said. An agent, Ramírez recalled, even said that there was a video of the assault, but this turned out not to be true.

Despite what they saw in the courtroom this Wednesday, Ramírez and Ferrat doubt that there may be an acquittal. “We all know the situation that the boys are in,” they said regretfully.

According to the letter to which EFE had access, the defendants are accused of throwing “stones, bottles, pieces of wood and other items” at the police and shouting slogans against the Government and President Miguel Díaz-Canel. According to the prosecutor’s petition, dated December 30 of last year, the defendants carried out actions “of violence without limits.”

The ages of the defendants range between 17 and 51 years old, with Torres being the youngest. He is one of the 55 protesters between the ages of 16 and 17 who face criminal proceedings for the events.

Although the Supreme Court alleges that in all cases “due process” is observed, the relatives of the convicted and some NGOs warn of the constant irregularities. In addition, access to the trials for the independent or foreign press or the diplomats who requested it has not been allowed.

After the 11J protests, about 600 sentences have been handed down, some up to 30 years in prison. Several of the magistrates who are judging these cases have been added to the list of repressors prepared by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FDHC).

Precisely, one of the people on the list is the Cuban prosecutor Vivian Pérez Pérez, who prepared the dossiers against the 15 defendants now in Havana, in addition to another for San Miguel Padrón. In both cases she requested very high penalties.

“Since June, Pérez Pérez can be found under file number 597 in the database of Cuban repressors, for having produced two unjust dossiers in the preparatory phase against peaceful 11J protesters,” said Rolando Cartaya, a specialist in the FDHC program.

“In the first, number 755, she requested penalties of between 5 and 14 years in prison for 15 of those who protested in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, mostly young people, accused of public disorder, contempt, assault and incitement to commit a crime. At the end of October, the relatives of these defendants received word of the final sentences: between 3 and 10 years in prison.”

“It is now announced that 15 other protesters of that popular uprising will go to trial on November 23 and 24, but in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. Prosecutor Pérez Pérez was even more severe in asking for sentences of 7 to 12 years of deprivation of liberty for the same crimes. But in this case, 13 of the 15 defendants face prosecutors’ petitions for 10 years or more.”

“Prosecutor Pérez Pérez could be accused of two malfeasance charges for requesting these sentences, obviously unfair and disproportionate,” Cartaya concluded.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Erdogan Dispatches the Castroite Delegation at Full Speed

Díaz-Canel and Erdogan. (Cibercuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 24 November 2022 — And Cuban President Díaz-Canel arrived with his entourage to Turkey, including a photographer-reporter on the plane with a more sanchista (Pedro Sánchez)-than-Kennedy aesthetic. This is the third stop of the economic journey that began in Algeria. And of course, as could not be otherwise, the Cuban state press praised and described it as “very fruitful and encouraging” encounter with an unimproved President Erdogan, whose face reflected the serious hardships of the Turkish economy and the political instability of the country.

Let’s take this apart. Recent economic data from Turkey are not good. Inflation in October skyrocketed by 85.5% year-on-year; the unemployment rate, 12.8%, is among the highest in the world. These two data point to a population with low purchasing power with an average salary of 8,000 euros.

Foreign trade, strongly unbalanced by imports, has a coverage rate of 82%, with a trade deficit in GDP of -5.65%. And finally, economic growth throughout this year does not exceed 2.1%. Bad data for one country to offer economic collaboration with another. The rating agencies (Moody’s S&P, Fitch) grant Turkey a B, due to doubts about its financial capacity. As for political instability, the authorities still continue to investigate the terrible attack in Istanbul a few days ago, with notable repercussions for the country’s tourism.

So Díaz-Canel’s advisor, who planned this stage of the economic journey, must not have had access to these statistical data, and if he did, or he didn’t interpret them correctly, or someone told him to forget about them, then It’s not surprising that Díaz-Canel told Erdogan that “relationships between the two countries are maintained on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples,” and went on to add that, in economic-commercial matters, “Cuba ratifies its willingness to continue working in sectors of mutual interest, such as biotechnology, renewable energies, tourism, agriculture, livestock, health, education, sports and culture.” Or what is the same, “give me something.” Doesn’t matter what, but give me something. continue reading

And it seems that Erdogan, with little time for this kind of begging, and driven from Russia by his ally, Putin, valued the visit as “historic” and announced that it will be “a turning point in the ties between the two countries.” But how, and with what?

It seems that he intends to achieve this with investments by Turkish companies already established in Cuba; in particular, with the technical support to the Island in cooperation projects associated with agricultural development, and the realization of joint investments to produce vaccines, taking into account that Cuba and Turkey are countries that have been able to develop their own treatments against COVID-19. And little else.

This offer from Erdogan, of a small amount and little real impact, resulted in the signing of six agreements, of which four are memorandums of understanding: two between the foreign ministries, a third between the central banks of both nations and a fourth between the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and the Turkish Agency for Cooperation and Coordination. Burocracy at full speed.

Erdogan quickly dispatched the Cuban communist delegation. No joke. And Díaz-Canel, seeking to extend the meeting, told the journalists who were waiting for him at the exit, that “we have just had official talks with President Erdogan. It has been a very fruitful and encouraging exchange, in which we have ratified the will to continue strengthening political relations between both countries.”

And coincidentally, no journalist asked him, as a suggestion, if what was addressed at this meeting could not have been agreed upon in a videoconference from Havana, thinking about the agonizing situation that Cubans live in. It doesn’t matter, no one asked about the cost of the trip and this delegation — as has already been seen before in Algeria and Russia — does not skimp on expenses.

Instead of hiding the waste of money for something that was already known to be agreed and closed, Díaz-Canel told journalists that “it’s an honor for us to be here and to be able to respond to the invitation given to us by the most excellent President Erdogan, to visit his country.”

And knowing that this argument for the invitation is limited, he added “it is also a great satisfaction to make this visit in the context of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which have been maintained uninterruptedly on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples.” More or less, the same. Superfluous expenditure. A videoconference would have been much more practical.

However, the journey through Turkey was once again pregnant with tourist events and of a low economic profile, such as the meeting of Díaz-Canel with members of the Cuba-Turkey José Martí Friendship Association, founded 20 years ago, and a counterpart to others in Europe, which receive the discreet support of the Cuban foreign ministries.

Díaz-Canel also visited, accompanied by his wife Liz Cuesta, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, and there he again declared something that is uncertain, “the Cuban and Turkish peoples are united by shared values, in recognition of the legacy of the founders of both nations.”

The state press reports that “the tribute had as its prelude a quiet walk along a long and wide path in which the sun reflected off the cream marble of the trail.” That is, more tourism paid for by the Cuban state budget.

Then the entourage entered the tower of Misak-I-Mili, where Díaz-Canel wrote in the book that collects the impressions of those who arrive to meet and pay honors with the consequent reference to Fidel Castro that he described as a “source of inspiration for the Cuban revolution.”

And little else remained to be done in Turkey, on a lightning visit that seems to have lasted much less than in the other two destinations. For whatever reason. Cuban communists don’t give something for nothing.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Canada Condemns the ‘Hard Sentences’ Against the July 11, 2021 (11J) Protesters in Cuba

Cuban-Canadian Michael Lima, human rights activist and director of Democratic Spaces. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Toronto, 25 November 2022 — Canada communicated to Cuba its “great concern” about the “violent repression” of the protests on the Island and condemned the sentences against the protesters of July 11, 2021, but did not indicate whether it will sanction the Cuban regime, as human rights organizations have requested.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada told EFE that it has transmitted “to the highest levels” of the Cuban regime its concern about the repression against protesters, journalists and activists, and that it condemns the “hard sentences” of the 11J protesters, up to 13 years in prison, according to the ruling leaked this month.

“Canada will continue to raise its concerns to Cuban officials about human rights violations,” the spokeswoman for the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sabrina Williams, told EFE.

Williams also confirmed that senior Canadian officials met with the NGO Democratic Spaces, which on November 14, together with the Cuba Decide organization, requested sanctions by Ottawa against Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, senior officials and other entities of the regime for human rights violations. continue reading

The spokeswoman did not indicate whether Canada will sanction the Cuban regime, but added that the Canadian government considers it important to “provide a voice for human rights defenders and better understand their concerns and also to express them to Cuban officials.”

Michael Lima, a human rights activist and director of Democratic Spaces, confirmed to EFE that he met with senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 16, and said that, although Ottawa has not announced sanctions against the regime, he detected a change in mentality in the Canadian authorities.

“We are pleased that Canada understands that Cuba is a dictatorship, one of the oldest in the world, and that there needs to be justice. I liked seeing the change of mentality in Canadian government officials, who understand that human rights are systematically violated in Cuba,” he said.

Lima blamed Canada’s different attitude towards countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran, to which Ottawa has applied sanctions similar to those requested against Cuba, in the absence of information about what is happening in the country.

“We are asking for uniformity in (Canadian) foreign policy,” he explained.

The director of Democratic Spaces believes that the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, “admires” the Cuban regime for the friendship between Fidel Castro and his father, Pierre Trudeau, who led Canada twice, first from 1968 to 1979 and later from 1980 to 1984.

“And if the prime minister has that position, it influences the formulation of foreign policy,” he said.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

You Can Still Love and Be Happy in a Dictatorship

Pablo Milanés. RTVE

Diario de Cuba, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Saint Louis, 24 November 2022 — An icon of Castroism has died. Pablo Milanés now belongs to history. May the soul of a contemporary Cuban rest in peace. Thank you for allowing us to be your exceptional witnesses. We promise to tell the Cubans to come about you, with love.

A musical work by Pablo Milanés, after his death in European exile, inevitably begins to be updated again, especially in that instantaneous civic square that is the Internet. I mean, here.

How much did he win, how much did he lose? What did he sing and what didn’t he sing, who did he sang for and who didn’t he sing for? Also, as attached to his scores and his good-natured Bayamé voice, his anthological selfies with the tyrant return, which today are part of the emotional archeology of a tyranny that at times illuminated and at times made our days unbearable.

Faced with mourning for the disappeared of the Cuban Utopia, the voiceless victims of the Paradise of the Proletariat, we always need to bet on light and compassion. We are better than our executioners, and we have known how to be reborn to a life in truth, free and good in the midst of the servile and vile. Totalitarianism is powerless before our tenderness.

Qualities and originalities apart, Pablo Milanés was a genius of our national songwriting of all time. His absence impacts us from another place that doesn’t necessarily go through reason. Just admit it. The future of free Cubans without Cuba cannot begin with a gesture of denial.

Because Pablo hurts us, he grips our hearts. A bit pathetically and provincially, it’s true, but what can we do? We are like that, half sentimental and half wise. And we feel in Pablito an existential companion that we have lost and whose loss — we all know it, knowing it or not — will be irretrievable for the rest of our biographies.

Pablo Milanés shone with his own brilliance. And also with that brilliance he kidnapped thousands and thousands of Cubans who could have been as creative and affectionate as him, but who ended up mentally and physically demolished by the dictatorship of Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Pablo Milanés knew closely those Cubans who did not fit in the Nueva Trova, but were forced to be militants of hatred until today (if they survived the olive green military). And, for decades, he delicately shut them up. continue reading

Having been one of them himself at the beginning of his career, Pablo perhaps considered that his triumph would be his best revenge against the brutes and abusers who imposed barbarism on us disguised as ideology.

Over time, the one who appeases everything, Pablo Milanés began to take a discreet distance from the ossified elite in power in Havana. We reach the 21st century together. We began to miss each other among Cubans. Until last Monday, when he died far from home — as you and I will die — the singer-songwriter had already broken rhetorically with the Revolution, from the peaceful perspective of the prophet who believes that the revolution has been betrayed by the revolutionaries themselves.

Poor for the singer and good.

It would be a mistake of the human soul to leave the remains of Pablo Milanés in the hands of local repressors, allies or renegades with him in life. It would be a mistake of political strategy to put his legacy among the icons of the international left. And it would be a mistake of Cubanness to renounce wanting to be in communion with a Cuban who, yes, was able to love and be happy in the midst of Island totalitarianism.

As you and I were able to, until we were no longer.

And that’s precisely why we left, remember? We escaped from the horror because we could still love and be happy in the Castroite prison in the open air into which they converted Cuba. And because, from that love and that happiness under surveillance, we could still make the sovereign decision to leave the Island to love and be happy at any other solitary point on the planet.

Here we are still. Together. Connected from a distance. Inconsolable, but never irreconcilable. Without Pablo Milanés.

We don’t need to make mourning another cause of combat, nor that our immemorial wrath undoes our memory of the singer-songwriter. If we could fall in love and feel happiness on the Island under the lies and violence of the military junta, it makes no sense to deny it now in the inner democracy in which each Cuban can fulfill himself.

Pablo Milanés belongs to the Cuban people. He is a treasure and a testimony in perpetuity of what we are going through. The Revolution is even running out of its dead. In addition, death is a very desolate place. Let’s not leave Pablito there, please.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Former Congressman Joe Garcia Resorts to the Figure of Mas Canosa to Justify his Trip to Cuba

García, the second from left to right, during a meeting with Cuban businesspeople from the private sector. (Twitter/Joe García)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2022 — Former Democratic congressman for Florida, Joe García, pointed out in an interview with OnCuba that the Biden government will take more steps in its policy of rapprochement with the Island, the first of which, the issue of remittances, is already underway.  In a conversation with the media he defended his controversial trip to Havana, where he met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and he said that it didn’t contradict the spirit of Jorge Mas Canosa, the deceased historical leader of Miami’s Cuban exile community and García’s mentor.

“It doesn’t seem to me that I did anything that wasn’t in agreement with the history of Jorge Mas Canosa. Remember that once he debated with Ricardo Alarcón,” alleges the politician, whose interest is focussed on promoting cooperation between Florida and the Island through small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs]. He emphatically states that “Cuba’s problem cannot be solved without Miami.”

“The rules [of the embargo] that apply to the Government and Cuban companies do not apply to SMEs in Cuba,” García explains. According to him, despite not exactly being a businessman, he has been working for some time to establish relations allowed by the embargo laws and despite the obstacles in Havana.

The former congressman, born in Miami in 1963 and close to former President Barack Obama, recounted his trip last week to the Island. In it, he had the opportunity to verify that the population’s need is extreme and considers that the Cuban community abroad can help develop initiatives that improve the lives of Cubans without going through the Cuban Government, which is possible, he indicates, through private businesses.

“They can buy without restrictions. They are entrepreneurs, and the law and regulations that Obama wrote allow them to do business with SMEs,” he emphasizes. Asked about the timid progress of the current president, García says that there will be more: “[Joe Biden] has done a little and will do more. Look, he opened the embassy again, restarted the flights, not only to Havana but to the interior, and now they are working to improve the situation with remittances.” continue reading

Joe García participated in a meeting that has generated a lot of discomfort in the sector considered the hardcore of exile, which no longer makes up only the political exiles of the 1960s, as before. The Democrat reflects on the most recent wave of emigrants, many of them for economic reasons, who arrived in the United States more radicalized than before.

“That is a question that the Government of Cuba should ask itself, because these are children of the Revolution. Here you can’t blame Batista, the CIA, the US government, the Russians. Who is to blame for this reality, that mostly people between the ages of 35 and younger arrive with perceptions about their own country that could not be instilled by me, or anyone else? The question is as follows: if Cuba can’t talk to its children, who is it talking to? Who are you going to bury?” he argues.

The politician defends himself against the sector that has criticized his trip more vigorously and says that he was with an entire group of people gathered to “study the theme of SMEs and the forms of investment in Cuba.” They met in a salon where Miguel Díaz-Canel gave a speech, after which García had the opportunity to talk with him.

“There are things that I’m not going to reveal. But I told him that the issue of SMEs had to be pursued, that it was an opportunity, and that the decisions that were made had to be implemented. I also advocated for the people who are imprisoned in Cuba after the events of July last year and other events,” he says. He recognizes, however, that there was no reaction. “We’ll see if he listened to me. But he heard me.”

The former congressman insists that neither his trip, his conversations with Cuban officials or his intention to do business on the Island clash with the ideas of his admired Mas Canosa who, he says, he had in mind at this meeting.

“What I know is that I have buried many friends, men who fought with weapons in Cuba, and who impressed me with their memories, their affection, their deep love for the Cuban nation. I have buried many. Some of them, in important positions, all they want is a dignified reunion with their country. And it seems to me that it’s something that the country owes them too. No 80-year-old man, who must be the age of the youngest brigadier [of Playa Girón — the Bay of Pigs, to Americans], is a threat and something that the Government of Cuba must fear.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

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

Cuba’s State Communications Company and Armed Forces Create a Cybersecurity Group

The companies participating in the workshop showed Marrero Cruz, the Minister of the Armed Forces, and other military and officials, several surveillance items. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2022 — Closely monitored by an entourage of the Armed Forces, Manuel Marrero Cruz created a National Working Group for Cybersecurity in Havana on Wednesday. Although the Cuban prime minister avoided mentioning it, this step facilitates the recent alliance of the state communications monopoly, Etecsa, with the military Information Technology Company for Defense, known as Xetid.

Xetid, founded in 2013 by a group of military computer scientists, is the technological arm of the Armed Forces. With a discreet profile, it focuses on the search for “solutions” to guarantee the effectiveness of the regime in digital surveillance and the development of Defense software, in collaboration with the University of Computer Sciences (UCI).

Xetid is responsible for the design of the EnZona electronic payment application, which requires a large amount of private information from users before allowing them to access their profile, in addition to monitoring their transactions.

Etecsa’s pact with Xetid allows the Government to unify the databases of both companies and to amplify, with the direct supervision of the Armed Forces, their control over users. Among the terms of the alliance is the joint management of EnZona and Transfermovil, created by Etecsa to guarantee the flow of telephone recharges from abroad, among other operations. continue reading

The directors of both corporations affirm that the pact aims to “make life easier for Cubans in the digital area” and invites users to trust the transactions that are made with both applications.

In addition, it allows Etecsa “to have access to Xetid’s software tools related to industry 4.0, business management and e-government, the main lines of the organization along with automation and security,” according to Cubadebate.

During the opening of the first workshop on cybersecurity, organized at the José Antonio Echevarría Technological University of Havana, Marrero Cruz applauded this alliance and pointed out that cyberspace surveillance is “a priority” of the Government.

The “identification and elimination of security breaches” was one of the concerns of the prime minister, who read his speech in the presence of a watchful minister of the Armed Forces, Álvaro López Miera, and his military group.

Marrero Cruz avoided departing from the script provided in his speech, and when he did it was to nervously mention the 11J protests, which he attributed to an “offensive” from the United States. “Let’s not forget that the US created the Internet Working Group for Cuba in 2018 with the aspiration that social networks become subversion channels,” he said, not without first describing as victims official portals “such as the Presidency, Granma, Cubadebate and the Government,” in the sights of “media bombing” from abroad.

After the speech, the companies participating in the workshop showed Minister of the Armed Forces Marrero Cruz and other military and officials several surveillance items like security cameras, identification mechanisms, alarms and defensive-use software.

Marrero didn’t specify what the functions of the National Working Group for Cybersecurity would be, although he did point out that it would operate under the direction of the President of the National Defence Council, a position held by President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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