The Cuban Regime’s Media Publish False Data on Biological Weapons in Ukraine

The publications echo statements by the Russian Ministry of Defense according to which Ukraine develops pathogens for military use to spread through the migration of ducks and bats. (EFE/Russian Defense Ministry Press)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Alejandro Saavedra, Havana, 1 June 2022 — The Cuban official press has spent months supporting the Russian narrative that there are secret laboratories sponsored by the United States in Ukraine that are dedicated to the production of biological weapons, although there is no evidence in this regard.

In at least five articles published since the end of March, media such as Cubadebate, Granma and Visión Tunera affirm that there are more than 30 laboratories in Ukraine that carry out large-scale military biological activities. However, the aforementioned facilities are not secret, nor is there evidence that they carry out any military research.

The publications echo statements by the Russian Ministry of Defense according to which Ukraine develops pathogens for military use to spread through the migration of ducks and bats. Its only source is Russian military reports.

“The objective of this biological research funded by the Pentagon in Ukraine is to create a mechanism for the secret spread of deadly pathogens,” says one of the articles published by Cubadebate.

“During its special military operation in Ukraine, Russia found numbered birds produced by Ukrainian biological laboratories, financed and supervised by the United States,” Granma says, in an article entitled: Numbered birds, a weapon to kill without firing a single shot, among other biological experiments.

Various western media, such as BBCEFE y Polifact, have already verified that Russian claims are unfounded. continue reading

First of all, the laboratories are not secret. On the contrary, it is public knowledge that Ukraine has a network of laboratories that investigate diseases dangerous to human and animal health, such as anthrax and hemorrhagic fever.

Nor is it a secret that these facilities receive financial support from the United States. On the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine there is a section that includes all the details of this collaboration. Some of the laboratories are also supported by the European Union and the World Health Organization.

Another relevant aspect is that Russia hasn’t presented any evidence that these laboratories are used for military research or that the facilities have the necessary capabilities for the development of weapons.

“There is no indication that Ukrainian laboratories have been involved in any infamous activity, or in any research or development that contravenes the Biological Weapons Convention,” Filippa Lentzos, a biosafety expert at King’s College London, told the BBC.

“The reality is that a true biological weapons program has additional requirements, such as the formulation of an agent that can be mass-produced and stable enough to be stored and disseminated,” the director of the Postgraduate Program in Biodefense at George Mason University, Gregory Koblentz, told Politifact.

Ukraine also submits, on a regular basis, voluntary reports on compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production and possession of biological weapons. Nor does the United Nations have any report from the Office for Disarmament Affairs that indicates suspicion about the research carried out in Ukrainian laboratories.

Finally, the United States Department of Defense reported on March 11 that when the Russian attacks began, the Ukraine Ministry of Health ordered the safe disposal of the pathogen samples that were stored in the laboratories, with the aim of preventing any type of accidental release generated by the attacks.

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.

At the Summit of the Americas, the United States Will Promote a Migration Pact Without Cuba

Migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela arrested before crossing the Rio Grande and reaching Eagle Pass. (INM)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, June 5, 2022 — While some analysts think that the absence of Venezuela, Nicaragua and, probably, Cuba have made next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles meaningless, others think that there will be no consequences and that it won’t overshadow the plan of the United States to promote a migration pact, as contemplated in the official agenda.

To date, the government of President Joe Biden has avoided publishing the list of guests for the event, which will take place from June 6 to 10, amid warnings from countries such as Mexico, Honduras and some territories of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), which could boycott the summit due to absences.

Washington has been categorical regarding the non-participation of Venezuela and Nicaragua, and has been lukewarm about that of Cuba, despite the fact that in recent weeks it has resumed contacts with Havana on migration and has withdrawn some sanctions on Caracas to facilitate dialogue with the opposition.

Atlantic Council expert Jason Marczak, who directs the Adrienne Arsht Center in Latin America, a laboratory of ideas, told EFE that it would have been “very difficult” for the United States to invite the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

In his opinion, these two rulers are not interested in working together with other nations to reach an immigration agreement, since they carry out actions that destabilize the continent. continue reading

Therefore, it makes more sense to Marczak for Washington to promote a pact with the countries receiving migrants in order to coordinate their policies on this matter.

“Migrants and refugees leave Nicaragua and Venezuela, not because of Maduro’s or Ortega’s immigration policy, but because of political and legal repression and the economy,” said the analyst. Neither Maduro nor Ortega will modify the actions that cause citizens to leave their countries.

Meanwhile, in the absence of confirmation of attendance at the summit of a Cuban delegation, the US expert remarked that for some countries in the region it has been “a priority” to promote the participation of “some level of the Cuban Government.”

Given the lack of clarity on the part of Washington, the Cuban Government seems to have removed itself. The president himself, Miguel Díaz-Canel, said last week that he would “in no case” participate in the summit.

The possibility of a second-tier government delegation or a representative of Cuban civil society coming to Los Angeles has been fading as the date approaches.

The Cuban regime prevented activist Saily González from attending the IX Summit of the Americas to which she was invited as a representative of Cuban civil society. She let her know through her family that she could not pick up her visa at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and State Security summoned her to remind her that she had an open criminal investigation against her.

The activist Aimara Peña was informed that “no one would participate” in the IX Summit of the Americas. As she denounced this Saturday on her social media, State Security “did not allow me to travel to Havana and kept me imprisoned in a dirty dungeon after threatening me.”

The final Cuban slamming of the door came with the recent celebration in Havana of a summit of leaders of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which included Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, its main members, who  could puff out their chests in the face of exclusion.

For Mexican academic María Cristina Rosas, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Biden Administration has put itself in a predicament no matter what final decision it makes.

“Biden is on bad terms with God and the devil: the Republicans and a part of the Cuban community in the United States. On the other hand, he is giving many weapons to Cuba to continue blaming him for the evils there,” she said in an interview with EFE.

In the same vein, former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray pointed out Washington’s position as a mistake. “There’s no middle ground with Cuba. (Barack) Obama realized it perfectly. (Bill) Clinton paid dearly for having tried to swim between two waters,” he argued in statements to EFE.

In his opinion, the United States is reoffending with the veto on “failed policies” and diverting attention from the important problems of the region: “That is not convenient for anyone,” he said. Rosas highlighted at this point the “power” of the Cuban-American lobby, which she considers to be the “best” among Hispanic communities in the United States when it comes to influencing the country’s foreign policy.

Alzugaray said that Cuba is being harmed by not being able to participate in the hemispheric forum, but at the same time it benefits politically from exclusion, because of the regional support it has gathered — especially from Mexico — and the demonstration of Washington’s “inefficiency.”

He also pointed out that Cuban migration to the United States — which has increased significantly in recent months — is an issue that can be discussed in a regional forum, but one that must be addressed bilaterally.

The self-exclusion that Cuba seems to have chosen was not an option for Venezuela and Nicaragua, since the White House made the resounding and irrevocable decision not to include them in the list of invited countries.

Of the three, Ortega was the one who showed the greatest disinterest in participating in the summit and downplayed the event that — he believes — “does not exalt anyone.”

“We have to make ourselves respected, we can’t be asking the Yankee, begging him to go to his summit. We are not inspired by his summit,” Ortega argued on May 18 during a government event in Managua.

However, Maduro is convinced that his voice will be heard in Los Angeles, “whatever the host says,” whom he despises, by disavowing his will and ensuring that the marginalized will also be there.

“Whatever happens in Washington, the voice of Venezuela, the voice of Cuba and the voice of Nicaragua will be heard in Los Angeles in the great protests of the people and our voices will be in that room (…) we will be there with our truth,” the president said on May 24 in Caracas.

As Benigno Alarcón, director of the Center for Political Studies of the Andrés Bello Catholic University, explained to EFE, it’s most likely that Maduro’s words hide the plan to organize protests in Los Angeles, in parallel with the summit, as both Venezuela and Nicaragua did on previous occasions.

“What they’re going to try to do is what they’ve done on other occasions, which is to fund some groups to protest at the place where the summit is held. They’ve done it other times and under other circumstances. They’ve funded groups that join a protest,” Alarcón said.

But neither the absence of these countries nor the demonstrations that can be organized around the summit will overshadow, in his opinion, the plan to promote a migration pact, as contemplated in the official agenda. On the contrary.

For Alarcón, it must be the countries that receive migrants from the three excluded nations, with the United States at the head, that must address any issue that has to do with the agreement, so it will not matter that those countries are absent.

Those who have to agree on that pact are the recipient countries, to see how many each receive and how they can help, and what capacity each country has to receive and other issues of interest in this matter,” said the Venezuelan expert.

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’s Central Bank Denies That it is Selling US Dollars

The depreciation of the dollar is linked, according to some experts, among other issues, to the announcement made by the Cuban Minister of Economy. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 31 May 2022 — The Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) denied on Tuesday that it is selling, to individuals, U.S. dollars and freely convertible currency (MLC, the Cuban virtual currency backed by hard currencies). According to the official newspaper Granma, the monetary authority has thus responded to rumors that have arisen after an announcement by the Cuban Government that it would sell dollars to economic actors under certain conditions, a measure that has not yet been applied.

The BCC assured that this is “fake news” that is circulating “on social networks and digital media.” “Don’t be fooled, follow our official channels,” the BCC wrote on Twitter.

The newspaper criticized that “it is the second time this year that an attempt has been made to manipulate the issue.”

It argued that there are those who take advantage of the impact of inflation derived from the scarcity caused by the pandemic and the tightening of U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba.

The country temporarily suspended bank deposits of dollars in cash in June 2021 due to “obstacles” from the U.S. embargo, although banks continued to accept other cash currencies such as euros, pounds sterling, Canadian dollars and Japanese yen. continue reading

In mid-May, the Cuban government announced that it would sell MLC to some state and private economic actors, without specifying the conditions.

The Cuban Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, said that this sale would be “gradual and selective,” at a rate higher than the official rate (24 Cuban pesos, CUP) but without exceeding the informal rate (currently around 100 CUP).

For the first time since January, the dollar traded this week below 100 CUP in the informal market, a depreciation that some experts link, among other issues, to this announcement by the Cuban Government.

This exchange rate is the calculation made daily by the independent media El Toque, which weighs the figures of hundreds of ads for the sale of foreign currency on several websites in the country, and which many experts take as a reference value. For their part, the euro and the MLC maintained values of 110 and 106, respectively.

Alejandro Gil’s statements immediately aroused criticism from experts, such as the economist, Pedro Monreal, who called it “one more nail in the coffin of the ’Order’ and a possible source of illegalities.” In any case, the collapse of the MLC, since last week, seems to be a direct consequence of those statements.

Another factor that has influenced the fall in currencies is the new measures announced by the U.S. government of Joe Biden last week, on May 16, among which is the elimination of the remittances limit of $1,000 per quarter and per person.

This restriction had been in force since 2019, when it was promulgated by then-U.S. President Donald Trump along with other provisions that largely paralyzed the official business of foreign exchange, such as the prohibition of doing business in which the Cuban military was involved. This was the case of Fincimex, blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury in June 2020, which managed remittances up to that time.

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.

Iberojet Will Launch a Direct Flight Between Madrid and Santiago de Cuba in November

The Iberojet flight from Madrid to Santiago will be direct and non-stop and will take place once a week on board an Airbus 330. (Avoris)

14ymedio biggerEuropa Press/14ymedio, Madrid, 1 June 2022 — Iberojet, the Spanish airline of Ávoris Corporación Empresarial, has announced a new route beginning November 11 that will connect Madrid with Santiago de Cuba. The date coincides with the start of the high season in the Caribbean.

This flight, which will be direct and non-stop, will occur once a week on board an Airbus 330. The flights will be able to be booked as of Wednesday on the Iberojet website and on all official channels for sale to the public, and will cost from 283 euros each way.

This direct flight route to the second most important city on the island, by number of inhabitants, will be operational throughout the year.

In addition to operating this direct flight from Madrid to Santiago de Cuba, for travelers who decide to get to know the country in depth, Iberojet offers the possibility of combining the airports of Santiago de Cuba and Havana to enter and leave.

Last December, Iberojet opened its first office at the Miramar Trade Center in Havana. In addition, it has increased the number of flights planned for this summer from three weekly flights Madrid-Havana to five, plus one from Lisbon to Varadero, in high season. continue reading

The strengthening of the connectivity of Santiago de Cuba, made possible thanks to collaboration with the Cuban State, seeks to attract more travelers and promote the economic development of the destination, which hasn’t recovered from the harm it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the fact that Cuba received 313,908 visitors between January and March, the figure is very far from the 1,470,457 tourists that the island registered in the first quarter of 2019.

Just a few days ago, the British airline Virgin Atlantic decided to postpone the return of its flights to Cuba, scheduled for November 1. Without going into detail, through a statement, it argued that the decision was due to the “complexity of the operation.”

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.

Heavy Rains Leave Around 300 Buildings Collapsed in Western Cuba

One of the collapsed buildings in Havana after the rains. (EchezabalJD)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 May 2022 — The formation of Tropical Storm Alex has already left about 300 buildings collapsed with the main impact in Havana, where 148 of these were reported as of Saturday night, according to the State newspaper Granma. At least 53 building collapses have also occurred in Pinar del Río, 32 in Mayabeque, and another 47 in Artemisa.

This has led to the evacuation of more than 8,500 people; some 7,750 were placed in the homes of relatives, and about 800 are in evacuation centers. There are also 321 affected by the interruption of electricity service in Pinar del Río and more than 450 in Havana, where there are four primary and five secondary lines that are out of service. Meanwhile, in Artemisa, there are about 116 customers without power.

On Sunday, Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil pointed out that the main damage was to housing, agriculture and electricity, with about 750 houses affected and 3,200 hectares of tobacco, sweet potato, cucumber and pumpkin crops damaged. He also said that there are 158,000 customers experiencing power outages. Minister of Energy and Mines Livan Nicolás Arronte said that about 4,487 customers in Pinar del Río and Artemisa still don’t have electricity. continue reading

The areas most affected by building collapses in Havana are in La Polar, El Fanguito and El Pentón, all very poor neighborhoods with homes made of light materials.

So far, two deaths have been reported in Havana, a 69-year-old man in Central Havana, who died as a result of a building collapse, and a 54-year-old, who drowned in Boyeros.

A third death was reported in Pinar del Río, where the lifeless body of Yosvel Cabrera Álvarez, 44 years old, who fell into a swollen creek and drowned, was found near the ESPA in the Diez de Octubre neighborhood. Since Saturday night, another person has been missing In this same neighborhood.

Heavy rains have continued to cause flooding throughout western Cuba, and weather stations reported accumulations that exceeded a foot of water.

In the early hours of the morning, authorities pointed out the formation of Tropical Storm Alex, with winds of 80 kilometers per hour and located 1,110 kilometers southwest of Bermuda. Despite the departure of the first cyclone of the hurricane season, the rains will continue to affect the island.

By Sunday, the rains are expected to be more intense in the mountainous areas and on the south coast, while in the west, it will be cloudy with some storms in the afternoon. In southeast Cuba, there will be abundant cloudiness and rain.

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 Biden Government Officially Revokes Restrictions on Flights to Cuba

A flight of the U.S. company American Airlines during a commercial trip to Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 June 2022 — The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it is reestablishing commercial flights to Cuba, which until now could fly only to Havana. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued the order at the request of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

According to Reuters, Blinken said that the action was “in support of the Cuban people and in the interests of U.S. foreign policy.”

Until now, U.S. airlines could only fly to Havana, leaving Cuban Americans with few options to visit their relatives in other parts of the island.

The measure is part of a policy change towards the island announced in the middle of last month, which includes the resumption of the family reunification program and the suspension of the limit of $1,000 per quarter on remittances, thus reversing some of the toughest measures of former President Donald Trump. It is not known when these last two measures will go into effect. continue reading

The Government of Cuba described Washington’s decision as a “limited step in the right direction.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regretted in a statement, issued just over an hour after the U.S. announcement, that the Joe Biden Administration hasn’t eliminated the economic embargo, in force since 1962.

In 2019, the Trump Administration banned commercial flights from the U.S. to all cities in Cuba with the exception of Havana and, in August 2020, went further by suspending private charter flights to all airports on the island, including that of the capital.

These charter flights were used by many Cuban Americans to travel to the island from Miami.

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.

Floods, Landslides and Thousands Sheltered from the Rains in Western Cuba

Floods have left some communities incommunicado. (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 June 2022 — Havana reports the greatest damage due to the heavy rains associated with the large area of low pressure in the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico that affects western and central Cuba. The authorities of the capital describe the conditions in the city as becoming “complex” and report two deaths, 111 building collapses, of which two are total, more than 4,500 evacuees and 23 flooded areas.

In addition to “the heavy rains, the floods,” they said the damage was due to “the age of the city,” according to the Cuban Presidency’s Twitter account with a source at a meeting of the National Civil Defense General Staff.

The rise of the Almendares River, the main one in Havana, has forced the evacuation of almost 50 people in the communities of El Fanguito and La Polar, neighborhoods where most of the houses are made of wood and other light materials. The waters rose quickly, and when they withdrew they left a thick layer of mud and garbage, according to Tribuna de La Habana.

The president of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power of Plaza de la Revolución, Osmani Arcia Peñate, reported that 48 people were evacuated from El Fanguito this Friday to the nearby Pioneer Palace, including six minors and two infants. Vicente Ponce Carrasco Elementary School was was also able to accommodate another 300.

In Pinar del Río, where the rains have caused flooding in several locations, the disappearance of citizen Yusiniel Cabeza La Rosa was reported yesterday afternoon. According to the state radio station Radio Guamá, the 21-year-old, resident of the Ojo de Agua farm belonging to the Santa Lucía popular council north of the municipality of Minas de Matahambre, was swept away by the strong currents of a river that he tried to swim across. continue reading

“Since then, combined forces of the Ministry of the Interior together with inhabitants of the surrounding communities are carrying out search work,” reported the Municipal Civil Defense, which added that “the spillage from the Nombre Dios dam makes it difficult to search.”

Provincial authorities also say that 11 communities continue to be incommunicado, and they ask the population to “maintain discipline” and not cross rising rivers to “avoid the loss of human life.” On Friday afternoon, the body of Yosvel Cabrera Álvarez, 44, who fell into a swollen creek hours earlier, was found.

In Pinar del Río, 4,480 people continue being evacuated, and there have been 302 reports of damage to the electricity service.

“In the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus, the rains have been beneficial and so far no major damage has been reported,” reported Presidencia Cuba, while noting that in Mayabeque 17 homes were damaged and the cucumber, melon and corn crops were affected.

On the Isle of Youth, four families were helped, and the biggest problem “is the leaks in buildings,” while in Matanzas the return to their homes of about 250 people who were evacuated began and, in addition, there are 14 homes damaged. In Artemisa, “a severe local storm occurred in the municipality of Candelaria, which affected the roofs of 22 homes,” the local authorities said.

The Institute of Meteorology of Cuba predicts for this Saturday that in much of the western and central regions it will continue to be largely cloudy “with showers, rains and some thunderstorms that will be strong and locally intense,” in some territories, although it predicted that the rains “will gradually decrease in the west in the afternoon.”

He also warned of tidal waves on the south-west and central coast and on the north west. “In the areas of showers and thunderstorms, both the strength of the winds and the height of the waves will increase.”

The heavy rains so far have left three dead in western Cuba and one missing.

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.

Freedom, Private Property Rights, Market and Profitability in the Cuban Countryside

Cooperatives are one of the forms of agriculture in Cuba. (Bohemia)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 30 May 2022 — Cuban president Díaz-Canel wants to sound like Fidel Castro, but it’s hard. That way of approaching problems, as if he had a magic wand and the solution to everything, is leading him along the path to perdition. Castro did the same thing. Even when a threatening cyclone was coming, he became the television meteorologist to explain where it was going to go and where it was not going to go. Díaz-Canel has done the same with agriculture, and from there came a front-page report by the State newspaper Granma entitled “Producing food efficiently is the challenge,” which directly talks about how to feed Cubans every day.

Díaz-Canel met with agricultural producers to convey his impressions on what to do to “advance the processes of production, better use of land and promote the diversification of agricultural products; the objective is not to reduce production and planting but to do them in the most efficient way possible.” But you have the impression that he isn’t on the right track, that he’s not connected to reality. More or less like Castro, but look, it’s not the same. No one blamed Castro for his extravagances, like a deceptive cyclone that changed its trajectory and in the end went another way. Díaz-Canel should be careful.

No one at this point can have the slightest doubt. The Cuban communist regime may have two or three heartbeats left if it doesn’t find a solution to increase agricultural production. That is, so that a Cuban family can normally have three meals a day.

But any idea that occurs to the communists goes right in the opposite direction. With nothing better ahead, that idea of banishing food imports, because there is no foreign currency to pay for them, may end up creating more hunger problems and a terrible food crisis that blows everything up. In the short term, there is no choice but to import food and pay any price, no matter how high. The fault, as you know, lies with an ally of the Cuban regime: Putin, with his expansionist adventures in Ukraine.

Díaz-Canel speaks in an inappropriate way of “banishing the import mentality in an effort to meet the food needs of our population,” but he knows very well that, under current conditions, the agricultural sector is unable to feed the population. It may be very good to break that dependence in the medium and long term, but tomorrow, next month, things will be more complicated than ever.

And he doesn’t blame the bureaucracy and the obstacles that prevent the management of companies in this area, because he is solely responsible for that internal blockade, which we have denounced so many times in this blog. Freedom, private property rights, market and profitability are the principles that must be restored in the Cuban countryside, and in the economy as a whole, if it is to move forward.

But Díaz-Canel turns a deaf ear to these calls and remains silent on the subject of the application of science and innovation, which may be very good, and no one disputes it, but it must be raised over a longer time horizon. Tomorrow when they want to eat lunch and don’t have enough of what they need, Cuban families will not remember science and innovation at all. continue reading

He also spoke of “advancing production processes, better land use and boosting the diversification of agricultural products,” but this is impossible if the producers don’t own the land they cultivate. No one aspires to leave their mark on something that will never be theirs. Working for the communist state came to an end. Production and planting can only be increased and done in the most efficient way possible with private land-ownership rights, markets for the purchase and sale of plots and land, and private management of the agricultural sector. The land should belong to those who really work it. There is no other way; even the Vietnamese did it, and it was a wonder for them.

And then he talked nonsense at that moment, about “protein plants to increase the obtaining of animal feed, the production of feed with our own resources, or the development of mini-industries to take advantage as much as possible of agricultural production.” These are also things that don’t serve to solve the problem of tomorrow’s lunch.

The same is true of the use of bioproducts, even when the possible decrease in intermediaries between producers and agricultural markets is cited, and the speeding up of marketing in this area. No farmer supports the ideas that are included in the “63 measures.

Díaz-Canel knows that there is no point in publishing a Law on Food Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security or the 63 measures, if the crops aren’t harvested and the population can go to the points of sale. Something so simple and so easy to achieve in Cuba becomes, thanks to the communist economic model, a thankless task.

Hence, in the face of such a difficulty, which could be solved with the aforementioned recipe of freedom, private property rights, market and profitability, principles that must be restored in the Cuban countryside and in the economy as a whole, Cuban communists start rehearsing other collectivist experiments to see what comes out. Díaz-Canel is irresponsible, getting into these types of stories that lead nowhere. I am referring to the 19 “productive poles” that have been created throughout the country.

According to Granma, these poles are made up of 86 basic business units, 54 basic cooperative production units, 45 agricultural production cooperatives and 190 credit and service cooperatives, with an arable land area of 151,829 hectares.

Can these poles really solve the problem of tomorrow’s lunch? They are clear about it. The estimated production at the end of 2021 reaches a total of 706,200 tons of agricultural items,, only a quarter of the planned production. Honestly, such a bureaucratic and organizational effort to achieve only that percentage of agricultural production is unjustified. If private tenants obtained from the communist regime the same amount as these collectivist-inspired poles, they would surely produce much more than that quarter, and they would also do so more efficiently.

But the communist regime is more interested in poles and municipalities, in the commitment to transfer to the local representatives the responsibilities that the central government is unable to achieve because it has failed again and again. The local authorities are not in favor. This strategy that can even be counterproductive, but it offers an idea of how lost they are for not giving up failed ideological principles.

Especially worrying was Díaz-Canel’s message to the attendees: “We are called upon to train and mobilize government structures from the municipal level so that they are in a position to lead this production process with popular participation in the local stages and, in addition, to promote an intense process that reaches all local producers, both state, cooperative and private, the state enterprise and even the last farm, the agroindustrial productive pole, each local development project, favoring agroecology as a necessary alternative for agricultural production in the current circumstances.” What does this sound like?

In the midst of all this, Díaz-Canel called for “increasing exports, achieving the linkage of all producers through a state company, or in other cases of cooperatives and new economic actors also closely linked to production.” Not a single reference was made to the values of freedom, private property rights, market and profitability in the Cuban countryside. As if he were talking about another country, at another time. You have the feeling that every day that passes he is further away from the reality in which he lives, and it is not known if it is his fault or the court of party and regime sycophants that surround him. The same as Fidel Castro.

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.

One Missing Person and Dozens of Residential Areas Flooded by Rainstorms in Cuba

The rains are linked to the low-pressure zone that moves slowly over the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico. (Social Networks/Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 June 2022 — A resident of Pinar del Río fell into a swollen creek in the district of Diez de Octubre and is reported missing by local authorities after heavy rains that mainly affected the west and center of the country.

According to what neighbors told the official media, the man “didn’t manage to get out of the water,” and agents of the Ministry of the Interior and neighbors are searching for him.

Several residential areas, both in Pinar del Río, as well as in Havana, Sancti Spíritus and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, have been flooded with water by the rains associated with an extensive area that covers the northwest of the Caribbean Sea and western Cuba.

The climatic phenomenon is linked to the low-pressure zone that moves slowly over the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and has caused the evacuation of families in several territories, falling trees, landslides and overflowing rivers. Interruptions in electricity service are also reported in Pinar del Río, large areas of Artemisa, Havana and other provinces.

In the Cuban capital, neighborhoods and areas near the Plaza de Cuatro Caminos have been affected, an area that normally reports flood problems and where neighbors, in the last few hours, are living with water above their knees. continue reading

The corner of Infanta and Amenidad is seriously affected by the rains, and the water even covers part of the vehicles parked nearby. The same panorama is experienced in the lower areas of Centro Habana, especially in the neighborhood of Los Sitios, very close to the El Pontón Sports Center.

According to the latest report from the Institute of Meteorology of Cuba, the territories with the highest record of rainfall are the weather station of Embalse Cuyaguateje in Pinar del Río with 176.0 millimeters, followed by the INRH Municipal Delegation of Isla de la Juventud with 160.0 and the Jarahueca Telecorreo station located in Sancti Spíritus with 156.5.

A month ago, the Institute of Meteorology recalled that June is considered the rainiest month of the year in Cuba. “A considerable part of the accumulated precipitation occurs associated with rainy events of several days duration, which occur mainly in the first twenty days of the month.”

He then anticipated that “the precipitation depends on the influence of migratory systems in the tropical zone, such as tropical storms and low pressure systems and their important interaction with mid-latitude systems,” while recalling that this month “the period of high thunderstorm activity” begins.

This Wednesday, June 1, the new tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic began, which will close on November 30, and in which up to 17 cyclones are expected to form, of which nine could reach hurricane status.

With this perspective, the Forecast Center of the Institute of Meteorology has predicted an 85% chance that one of these hurricanes could affect Cuba in the coming season.

The official institution called for attention to the persistence of rainfall, due to the saturation of soils mainly in low-lying and poorly drained areas.

The new cyclone season is favored by the presence of warmer than normal sea temperatures in the tropical strip of the North Atlantic and the Caribbean during the first months of this year, according to observations by Cuban meteorologists.

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 Doctors Arrive in Mexico Without Waiting for a Court’s Decision on Their Hiring

A judge in Puebla will decide whether to suspend the hiring of 500 Cuban doctors. (Vladimir Molina / El Diario)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 1 June 2022 — Health workers from Cuba arrived in Mexico on May 31, a few hours before a judge in Puebla was to decide if Mexico could hire 500 Cuban doctors under the conditions agreed upon by the governments of both countries.

“They have already arrived and are in Mexico in three hotels; whether they are doctors or not, we don’t know, but they are here,” confirmed Éctor Jaime Ramírez Barba, deputy of the National Action Party (PAN) for Guanajuato. The politician argued that, taking into account the number of health workers that the federal government plans to hire, Cubans do not represent a disproportionate amount, although at one time he opposed the agreement.

“If they are doctors, there is no formal decree that prevents the President from incorporating them today. If he doesn’t comply with what the court orders, we will be making the corresponding complaints,” Ramírez Barba told the local press. If the data available to the opposition, provided by the Government, are true, the number of Cuban health workers in Mexico would equal for every 10,000 national health workers.

However, the complaints are focused on issues such as whether the group is made up entirely of health professionals, whether they are properly trained and whether working conditions are respectful of the law, which is very doubtful considering the number of complaints charging that agreements of this type are a semi-slavery relationship.

The anonymous whistleblower who is trying to paralyze the incorporation of the 500 doctors stated in the application that the Mexican Government has not demonstrated that the doctors have the adequate capacity or training to practice medicine in Mexico and that the remuneration that the Mexican government will pay for these health workers could go, as in all agreements of this type, to the Cuban Government rather than to the contracted professionals themselves. continue reading

The judge denied the provisional suspension because “so far it’s not determined that the agreement signed by the federal government contravenes provisions of public order,” but he gave a deadline of May 31 for the authorities to present their arguments and is scheduled to announce his decision on June 1.

On May 31,  the PAN deputy explained that the model in which Cubans will work is the one planned for “dispersed areas,” which are organized by health communities. The politician commented that Mexican doctors who go to those areas do so temporarily, with a one-year contract that provides them with points for their next destination, so they are not classified as “places.” However, national health workers refuse to occupy these areas.

By virtue of the agreement announced by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, during his visit to Havana on May 8, Cubans will be sent to these places, some of them in very dangerous areas, such as the Montaña de Guerrero, one of the most conflictive points in the country, due to the presence of several cartels that dispute drug trafficking.

The profession of doctor in Cuba, which was once the jewel in the crown, is losing its appeal and not only within the island, since the foreign missions, often used by the doctors to earn more money but also as a springboard to emigrate, are becoming more complicated. On Tuesday, news broke on social networks that at least 17 Cuban doctors sent to Venezuela were arrested while trying to leave for Colombia.

Doctor Miguel Ángel Ruano said on Facebook that some have been sent back to the island as prisoners and threatened with the application of article 176 of the new Criminal Code, which punishes with between three and eight years in prison anyone who “on the occasion of the fulfillment of a mission abroad and against the express order of the Government, moves to another country.”

Emilio Arteaga Pérez, a member of the Free Cuban Medical Association like Ruano, confirmed the facts and said that the rest of the 20,000 Cuban collaborators in Venezuela have also had their passports taken away as retaliation and as a preventive measure.

Under these conditions, it’s not surprising that the majority of Cubans who still have a vocation for public health choose the only way that opens the door for them to leave the island, which is to practice “Integral General Medicine.” Medical specialists have been regulated since 2015 and are prohibited from leaving the island for five years, after which they can request their “liberation” by the authorities.

The advice not to specialize so as not to close the door to emigration circulates in several medical forums, one of them based in Spain, where many Cubans fight to validate their degrees in a country where more and more doctors are imported while nationals emigrate.

In the last five years, 20,608 foreign doctors have had their degrees validated in Spain. Cubans were in the top tier of the most professionals admitted in 2018, 2020 and 2021, with 342, 598 and 564 respectively. Most know that in order to work in a European country they need the permission of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from which they must ask for the required documentation to be able to validate their degrees. To do this, they must have performed their required social service and, of course, not be “regulated” [banned from leaving the country] or marked by “desertion”; otherwise they will never get the papers.

In addition, they often need to complement their studies to equate their level with that required and pass the MIR (Internal Resident Doctor) exam in case they want a specialty other than family medicine.

Trade unions in Spain warn of the shortage of doctors in the country, where wages are low and the workload very high, especially compared to some of the neighboring European countries, where there is more stability and better conditions. In the last five years 11,506 Spanish health workers applied for the certificate of eligibility to leave, while, in the same period, almost twice as many foreign graduates validated their degree: 20,608.

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.

But What Good Practices Are They Going to Substitute in Cuban Agriculture?

As Cuba’s economic situation worsens, citizens are faced the with empty markets. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 29 May 2022 — Is the agricultural situation in Cuba really going to be substituting “good practices” to increase the production of food, vegetables, grains and fruits? Well, it seems that this is what they did in the National Plenary of Cooperatives and Advanced Producers of the Productive Poles of various crops. Tremendous name.

According to the State newspaper Granma, which carried out the news coverage of such an important meeting, “the integral management of agroindustrial chains to generate high value-added products and services was analyzed, and the good practices of producers were socialized, with the purpose of increasing the production of food, vegetables, grains and fruits.” Deputy Minister Tapia, Minister of Agriculture Ydael Pérez, along with other ANAP (National Association of Small Farmers) authorities participated in the event.

Faced with the terrible results of the agricultural sector in 2021, which apparently are just as bad in 2022, as Minister Gil acknowledged at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers, citing the numerous “non-compliances” in product deliveries, communist leaders organize these “flower games” in which the cooperatives that make up a so-called “Political Productive Vanguard Movement” participate for the 100,000 kilograms of various crops and advanced producers.

Apparently 19 municipal plenaries were preceded by as many others in the agro-industrial “productive poles” with an agricultural vocation, the last collectivist invention of the regime, and four provincial ones. And of course, in the face of so many agricultural gatherings of the “productive avant-garde” one asks: Who is left in the furrow working daily to produce more? continue reading

The communists, in the face of the evident failure of their “63 measures” and any initiative that has its origin in the social communist model that governs Cuban agriculture in the last six decades, can think of nothing more than to “distract” producers, instead of letting them work freely, decide how much to produce, in what dimensions of plot and at what prices.

The regime’s interference in agriculture is the origin of all the evils of a sector that aspires to have the freedom to decide. Agrarian reform was a disaster; INRA’s (National Institute for Agricultural Reform) replacing the old ministry was another. A lot of time has passed since then, but the evils of Cuban agriculture remain the same: statism, bureaucracy, interference, control and repression.

It is not with “substitution of good practices” that more and better can be produced. The communist invention of the so-called “productive poles” dedicated to the production of various crops, will not work either, since it implies exercising a coercive force on producers, based on bureaucratic and political decisions, which have little or nothing to do with the socio-productive reality of Cuban agriculture.

A good example of this deficient creation of the so-called “poles” was offered by Granma stating that this formula, despite the full support of the regime, including these “substitutions of good practices,” has only produced 706,200 tons, barely 26% of the total production achieved in the year. A minutiae. And in the first quarter of this year, when non-compliance by Minister Gil was reported, the productive poles have not improved their contribution, with only 232,485 tons, which represents 25.3% of total production, one point less.

Then the National Director of Marketing of the Ministry of Agriculture spoke about marketing policy to point out what everyone knows, “that it is once again a difficult task, especially because of the scenario that Cuba is currently experiencing.” The solution is at their fingertips, and if they don’t implement it, it’s because they don’t want to: suppress ACOPIO (Cuba’s State Procurement and Distribution Agency) forever and leave absolute freedom to the marketing of producers with competitive private distributors. That’s a good practice.

In reality, and although this plenary served to vindicate, for the umpteenth time, the 63 measures of agricultural production, the truth is that no more production has been achieved, and there are the official results of ONEI (National Office of Statistics and Information) and the statements of Minister Gil, and they have not served to improve marketing either. Cuban communists still do not understand that what is not produced cannot be distributed, and that before the pitcher, you have to have the cow to produce milk. The achievements in terms of new products, new points of sale and new economic actors that offer products in other varieties have been carried away by the wind, in a 2021 lost forever, and a 2022 that is not going any better.

And in the face of the failure of the “63 measures”, the leaders insist that it’s necessary to continue “advancing in the dissemination of this policy, in which its importance and advantages, especially for the producers, are understood.” The author of this blog has consulted several Cuban agricultural producers who insist that the problem isn’t in knowing the measures, but in their futility, which simply don’t address what is really needed, so they turn their backs on them.

The meeting also discussed agricultural prices, an issue of the utmost importance, which according to the CPI prepared by ONEI on a monthly basis, are the fastest growing of the different components of the index, with their negative influence on the population. The evidence indicates that the current inflationary process that the Cuban economy is experiencing, which will get worse in the coming months, is originating from and also influencing the prices of raw materials and food.

And that either the authorities face this problem with effective and practical solutions, or the probability of a food crisis in Cuba seems very high. Wasting time relying on a possible solution to the problem on the part of state-owned companies doesn’t make sense, in view of past experience. The productive poles don’t either. The regime has no solutions within the communist social model to deal with the agricultural crisis, a situation that, similarly, led the Vietnamese to apply the Doi Moi (1986 Vietnam economic reforms). Why not in Cuba?

With this type of substitution of “good practices” and support for statism, the communist regime is on its way to a situation of serious structural crisis in the agricultural sector that no one wants, but which is on the doorstep. For a long time, the Cuban guajiro has known what the good practices are in his sector, and although he cannot claim them freely for fear of repression, it’s very clear: freedom, private property rights and a free market. The rest is wasting time.

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.

No. The Cuban Agricultural Sector is Not Doing Well

Farmers believe that the new measures only support “on paper” what they had already been doing. (Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 25 May 2022 — The worst thing that can be done to a person is to deceive him or take him for a fool, or both at the same time. This is what can be concluded from the Round Table program in which the Castroite Minister of Agriculture, Ydael Pérez, participated, and which Cubadebate has outlined with an article entitled “A year after their approval, how are the 63 measures to boost agriculture going?”

Well, they’re going badly. Very badly. They don’t produce the expected effects, no matter how much makeup you put on them, and now, in addition, as a council of economists in Davos warns in a quarterly report, a global food crisis is coming that won’t pass by Cuba, far from it. As happens in these cases, the blame for everything lies with the American embargo, and the rest is a mere formality.

It was another Roundtable program wasted for Cubans, in which Randy Alonso limited himself to agreeing with everything the communist minister said. Yes, the regime is concerned with looking for solutions and energizing agricultural production; yes, the processes in agriculture take time and some are long; yes, there are 63 measures and 658 actions with measurable goals and indicators, which are accountable to their promoters, and endless explanatory arguments that don’t convince anyone because once again they entertain themselves with indicators of process and not with the results, when what really matters to people is being able to eat every day. Very communist.

I ask, what Cuban is interested in the ministry’s decisions being divided into seven groups related to the management and finances of the agricultural system, the productive program, the cooperative system, the cadres of the sector, science, innovation and communication or the agricultural communities? What Cuban is interested in knowing that 16 agricultural policies, seven decree laws, 11 decrees and 19 resolutions have already been approved, to favor and unblock issues related to production? What Cuban is interested in knowing that the National Assembly recently approved the Law on Food Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security? As if hunger and food shortages were resolved by publishing laws and more laws. continue reading

The minister missed a golden opportunity to assume responsibility and speak clearly about why there is a lack of food in Cuba. Surely he knows why and also that getting lost in talking about a process indicator does nothing more than bore an audience that doesn’t give a damn that there is a reorganization of the ministry or that the role of the municipalities is strengthened, passing employees from one place to the other, as well as Raúl Castro’s old idea of producing in pots, parks and gardens.

At one point in his speech, the minister alluded to the restructuring of companies, which have reduced their workforce by 39%, especially the OSDEs*, which, out of an average of 180 contracted workers, now have fewer than 70. To avoid panic, he said that it’s not a matter of leaving people unemployed, but of “relocating them” and cited the example of “comrades who were heads of UEB** who today are heads of an irrigation-machine labor collective.” In other words, UEBs don’t help much, if budget tables can be dispensed with.

The minister said that “we need to look for more people dedicated to production.” it seems that he doesn’t have enough, that almost 20% of the employed population in Cuba is in the agricultural sector, and he wants more people producing with the result of lower productivity. On the other hand, he talked about “inflated structures” so we don’t really know what to expect.

He also talked about increasing foreign investment, recognizing that not enough progress has been made in agriculture. In fact, it has been on the margins of the projects, due to the legal structure of property rights that has to change.

He referred to the agricultural development bank, which in his opinion “has been very well received by producers,” but in reality has a marginal existence, since only 1.8 billion pesos were granted last year “mainly to producers linked to pig production, cattle ranching, and the cultivation of rice, bananas, cassava and guava” without significant increases in production, as revealed by ONEI*** data.

Other beneficiary products such as tomatoes, soybeans, pigs and livestock, in addition to rice, beans, corn, potatoes, bananas, cassava and sweet potatoes, also did not experience any improvements, with the exception of tomatoes. The 18,282 credits approved do not reach 10% of tenants and independent producers, and the 5 billion pesos are a drop in the bucket for the real needs of the sector. The farmers have turned their backs on the “dynamizing measures” of agricultural production. They have done the right thing.

Then, after talking about the need for more labor in agriculture, the minister said that “there is a lot of land to be exploited,” and in this case, once again, the direct responsibility is his. In reality, if “idle or poorly exploited land remains in Cuba, a problem to be solved in order to raise production,” the regime has to recognize that collective ownership of land is a strategic error and that it should be transformed into private property, as the Chinese and the Vietnamese did.

If the minister wants “our people to feel that making the land produce is part of their life project,” what has to be done is to give the land to those who work it, but with all the consequences, so that its use can be increased, reduced, sold, rented, or freely decided without ideological or partisan slogans, only with the criteria of efficiency and profitability.

The minister doesn’t seem to bet on this. For him, it’s more important to take care of labor groups as part of the land delivery process. He cited the more than 1,500 labor groups, with almost 15,000 workers, who could benefit from the approved measures, but acknowledged “that they’re not received everywhere in the same way (…) We find problems with the bosses, because they don’t change their methods. That doesn’t create a sense of belonging in the workers, and we need efficient management there as well.”

With regard to the delivery of land, the minister was critical and pointed out the delays in meeting the deadlines and resistance of the administrations to deliver idle land. The picture is bleak: premature requests that have to be resolved through political management, many more in process and the people going hungry.

The minister spoke of “working more intentionally with producers, approaching them and offering land to them.” But he stressed in this regard that “we don’t want to concentrate the ownership of the land in usufruct [a form of leasing], but in the management of that land.” And it was justified by the delivery of land for livestock, because of more than 7,000 hectares of land delivered, due to the lack of imported feed, no increases in production have been achieved.

In livestock production, milk and meat, the minister spoke of the recovery of more than 1,000 typical dairy farms, as well as the efficiency of the more than 150,000 producers, the 27,000 ranchers with 10 or more cows that “are key in our plans and we are visiting them” to give them land. Apparently it doesn’t work; they want to give them up to 555 acres of land but the average is around 165. No one wants to contribute their work and effort to something that will never be theirs. Let’s see when they learn. The minister acknowledged that there is a decrease in the livestock mass and said that “we have just over 3.5 million head of cattle, but only 40% of our cows give birth. Although we are complying with the milk plan, this is an area where more can also be done.”

In organic farming, the minister pointed out that the cultivated areas have grown but are insufficient. For example, bananas need 70,000 more acres, while malanga needs another 27,000 and cassava needs more than 125,000. The disturbing question is who decides which areas are organically cultivated, how and why?

He also pointed out that in the cultivation of food and vegetables, “more could be done” and cited as an example the autonomy of municipalities to agree on prices as a stimulus to production, while helping not to raise costs excessively, in his plans is to recover urban agriculture.

At another point he said that in Cuba there are 4,494 cooperatives and more than 400,000 producers and noted that “in the Political Bureau, 17 solutions for cooperatives were approved, and work is currently being done on a new legal norm that gives them more independence.” The organizational form is in crisis.

Regarding the training of cadres, with which he was dissatisfied, he pointed out that work is being done on skills and on the projection of the cadre and insisted that “we have to continue to improve work with young people.”

He reserved another part to talk about the role of scientists and science, which in his opinion has allowed progress in innovation-based management having achieved “247 innovations, 33 topics and 117 indications from the president.” In this regard, he said that “dissatisfaction persists. We must look for mechanisms that allow what has been achieved in one producer to spread more quickly to others.”

In summary, the minister defended the implementation of the 63 agricultural measures by justifying their positive impact, but didn’t offer a single indicator of improvement results. The recent publication of ONEI still gave figures very close to the negative balance of the agricultural sector in 2021. Therefore, following the lines of Minister Gil, the head of agriculture joined the official speech that “progress is being made, although we can’t feel pleased. We are totally dissatisfied.”

The question is, what gradual progress should be achieved to be satisfied with something that obviously doesn’t work? Because at this rate, either a new model for the Cuban agricultural sector is identified, or the food crisis anticipated by analysts and experts is closer than ever.

And it may be true that the solution is not to import consumables, as the minister said, but to find a way to produce them here, but perhaps others should look for and implement solutions. Cubans can’t be fooled any longer. Don’t take them for fools. Their daily meal is not secure. Things are getting worse and worse.

Translator’s notes:
*Organizaciones Superiores de Dirección Empresarial [Higher Organizations of Business Management]
**Unidad Empresarial de Base [Basic Business Unit]
***Oficina National de Estadisticas e Información [National Office of Statistics and Information]

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: ‘No One Should be Forced to Choose Between Leaving Their Country or Facing Abusive Charges’

The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (left) with rapper Maykel Castillo months before his imprisonment. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 May 2022 — Just four days before the start of the trial against Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, the international human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued a joint statement in which, in addition to demanding once again the release of both artists, they condemn the practice of exile used by the Cuban regime to get rid of opponents, a tactic that the two activists have rejected but that many others were forced to accept.

“No one should be forced to choose between leaving their own country or facing abusive criminal charges for which they should never have been prosecuted or imprisoned,” the two organizations reproach. In the text, they explain that they were aware of the offer made by the Cuban authorities to Otero Alcántara and Osorbo to be released and that the former publicly rejected it, while in the other case it was retracted. “This is a practice that the Cuban Government has carried out historically and with other critics in recent months and that violates the human right of everyone to enter their country of origin,” they say.

Tamara Taraciuk Broner, Acting Director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said that both artists “are being prosecuted for exercising their human right to criticize their own government” and has demanded that the countries of the continent take a stand in a this situation. “Latin American governments should not remain silent when there are artists threatened with prison sentences, a sign of extreme intolerance typical of the brutal dictatorships that ruled the region in the past.”

For its part, Amnesty International’s representative for the region, Erika Guevara-Rosas, demanded that if the trials continue, as they take for granted they will, the governments of Latin America and Europe be able to closely follow the trials “against these Cuban prisoners of conscience, who should never have spent a day in prison… In a country where more than 700 people, including some under the age of 18, are imprisoned simply for expressing themselves, it is of the utmost importance that these trials are subject to international scrutiny,” she added.

The organizations note that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg and that these trials are only “part of a much broader pattern of systematic abuses against Cuban artists and other critics of the Government and protesters in the country. In recent years, the Cuban authorities have imprisoned, criminally prosecuted and forced into exile dozens of Cuban artists, including those of the San Isidro Movement and the 27N [27 November], who bring together artists, intellectuals and critical journalists.” continue reading

The trial against Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo begins this coming Monday, May 30th, in Marianao, Havana. The Cuban Prosecutor’s Office requests seven years in prison for the first for aggravated contempt, public disorder and incitement to commit a crime, and ten years for Osorbo, for attack, public disorder and evasion of prisoners or detainees. Alcántara also carries the accusation of outrage against patriotic symbols, for creating a work of art, “Drapeau,” with the Cuban flag.

Otero Alcántara, declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, has been in the Guanajay maximum security prison since July, from where he sent a message on May 17. “We have endured all this and more in search of a dream and responsibility for the Cuba of today and tomorrow. And they are dreams that as of today nothing has erased,” he said, adding that for those dreams he is willing “to sacrifice the flesh of the artist, my flesh of the artist, my freedom-loving spirit.”

For his part, Castillo, who was arrested on May 18 of last year, has been in the maximum security prison of Kilo Cinco y Medio since May 31. His family, the organizations report, learned of his whereabouts days after the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances urged the Government to disclose it.

In January 2022, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Castillo Pérez had been arbitrarily detained and said that the Cuban Government should release him immediately by determining that he had been arrested for exercising his fundamental rights and had suffered violations of due process, including abusive limitations on his right to defend himself.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch close the statement demanding that the authorities allow the presence of journalists, human rights observers and personnel of foreign embassies in Cuba in the 11J trials, which, in any case, should be annulled.

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.

Mexican Court Agrees to Consider Injunction Against Hiring of Cuban Doctors

Mexico will send the new brigade of Cuban health workers to the “Guerrero Mountain area.” (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 27 May 2022 — A Mexican judge has agreed to consider a preliminary injunction against plans announced by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to hire 500 Cuban doctors, according to the Associated Press.

According to the Mexican press, the second district judge in matters of Civil, Administrative and Labor Protection of Puebla, José Luis Evaristo Villegas, has agreed to the injunction, refusing the provisional dismissal because “the agreement signed by the federal government contravenes provisions of public order.”

“Future acts of uncertain performance, both in their execution and in their effects, are not likely to serve as a matter for the precautionary measure; this is only appropriate if there is certainty about their performance because they are imminent acts,” the judge concluded.

The judge has given the Government a deadline to present its arguments and will decide on June 1 whether or not to grant the injunction.

The injunction indicates that the Mexican Government has not demonstrated that the doctors have the adequate capacity or training to practice medicine in Mexico and argues that the remuneration of health workers might go to the Cuban Government rather than the professionals.

The complainants argue that the agreement was negotiated “without having confirmed the quality of the doctors, and without having validated their education, as required by applicable regulations, and without proving they have knowledge of the illnesses and endemic diseases of the Mexican population.”

“Their hiring is illegal, favoring the conditions of modern slavery and even human trafficking,” adds the injunction. continue reading

During his trip to Havana on May 8, López Obrador announced the hiring of 500 Cuban doctors, in addition to buying the island’s vaccines. The Mexican president said that his country has a “specialist deficit,” and there are health workers who don’t want to go to remote areas. The Cubans will be sent to the Montaña de Guerrero area, one of the most violent places in the country, due to the presence of several drug cartels.

After the opposition criticized the hiring, stating that there are capable doctors in the country and underlining the well-known semi-slavery conditions in which Cubans work, the Mexican president lashed out at them and maintained that he would not back down.

“Why shouldn’t we have the doctors? If we’re doing this with Cuba, it’s because we need them,” said López Obrador, who took the opportunity to charge his “adversaries” of the “neoliberal period” with having damaged the public health system.

On Tuesday, and to appease the controversy, the Government announced a broader plan, which it christened “recruitment of medical specialists” and through which it seeks to hire 13,765 national specialists in order to reduce the deficit.

We don’t have the doctors we need, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” the President said. We need internists, emergency specialists, gynecologists, obstetricians, pediatricians and anesthesiologists.

The president assured that the Government will “hire Mexican doctors as far as possible,” because “unfortunately” the country doesn’t have all the required specialists.

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 journalist Camila Acosta is fined 1,000 pesos for reporting about 11J

Camila Acosta, independent Cuban journalist. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 27, 2022 — Camila Acosta has avoided  trial for an alleged crime of public disorder after paying a fine of 1,000 pesos imposed by State Security. The independent journalist, who was arrested for reporting on the protests of July 11 (11J) and had been under house arrest for 10 months, reported on the resolution of the case in an article published by Cubanet, the media with which she collaborates.

Acosta relates that the Aguilera police, in the municipality of Diez de Octubre, summoned her on Wednesday and imposed a fine on her in the presence of her lawyer under a rule — relating to the criterion of opportunity — that allows proceedings to be resolved without going to court.

The fine must be paid in three days, and although she believes this is arbitrary, she is accepting it to avoid going to trial, “which, knowing the constant violations that are committed and the state of total defenselessness before the laws, is the lesser of evils.”

In addition to the fine, State Security confiscated personal property that she allegedly had on the day of her arrest on July 12: two laptops, a hard drive, two phones, five flash drives, work agendas, books, a blouse she wore on July 11, $50 and 20,000 CUP pesos. “Some of these assets were not even my property,” the journalist adds. They returned only a phone charger, a wireless computer mouse, and a recording device, which she thinks they broke, because it doesn’t work.

Acosta denies that a she committed a crime and, even less, that the confiscated objects are related to the public disorders that she was charged with. continue reading

During the four days she spent in detention, the journalist says that she was interrogated by State Security twice a day for two hours each time, and she confirmed to them that she participated in the July 11 protests as a reporter. “I don’t regret having done it, and I would do it again. Reporting is not a crime, nor is a peaceful demonstration.”

Camila Acosta says she is aware that she didn’t commit a crime, but going to trial would mean a sentence of three months to one year in prison. The criminal investigation against the journalist was opened ten months ago, and in the last five she was under daily surveillance in her home, where she was constantly harassed “with the psychological burden that this represents, both personally and for family and friends.”

The journalist predicts that her fight is not over yet. “The new Criminal Code is more criminal than the previous one and provides the regime with repressive tools that directly attack independent journalists, the opposition and civil society in general. The torment is far from over.”

Camila Acosta is a contributor to CubaNet and the Spanish newspaper ABC, and before moving to the independent Cuban press she was on local television, Canal Habana.

The transition to the private sector has cost her family break-ups, repression and the harassment of State Security, as is the case with many other reporters and activists.

The resolution agreed in this case coincides with the release of several young people who participated in the 11J protests, such as the young Andy García Lorenzo, who went from prison to an “open regime” camp; after an appeal, five others obtained the same benefit: Jorge Gabriel Arruebarruena, José Miguel Gómez Mondeja, Lázaro Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz, Ariel Núñez Martínez, Mercy Daniela Pitchs Martínez and Amanda Dalai Matatamoros Cabrera.

Jonathan Torres Farrat was also released, as a change of pre-trial measure, after the payment of bail, while awaiting his trial.

Others released on Wednesday were Eloy Bárbaro Cardoso, an 18-year-old university student captured in La Güinera; Juan Yanier Antomarchi Nuñez, also 18 years old and sentenced in the first instance to 8 years of deprivation of liberty, and Dariel Cruz García, 20 years old, who also received an 8-year sentence.

In total, this week, 15 accused of participating in the July 11 protests have been released. Thirteen of the protesters had their sentences reduced by up to 10 years, and two were switched to correctional work, one of them without internment.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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