A Chilean Court Tries a Mapuche Leader Who Brought Weapons and Ammunition From Cuba

Llaitul is famous for launching, on different platforms, several “declarations of war” against the Chilean State/ Infobae

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, March 21, 2024 — The Chilean Police revealed on Wednesday that Héctor Llaitul, leader of the armed organization Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco and imprisoned for his responsibility in multiple attacks, bought and transferred “large-caliber weapons” and “ammunition” from Cuba. The experts found on the accused’s cell phone “different conversations” about a trip to Havana to acquire weapons, which were presented in the trial against Llaitul in Temuco, in the Chilean region of La Araucanía.

A confessed defender of political violence, supporter of the regimes of Havana and Caracas, Llaitul kept on his phone information about efforts to transfer the weapons – “with their respective ammunition” – from the Island through the border of Chile with Argentina. The Police also showed photographs of different attacks taken by the accused, who sent them to the media.

Neither the Cuban government nor the official press – which usually publishes communiqués and apologies from the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator – has commented on the accusations against Llaitul for the time being. On the Island there are no private sellers of military weapons, and the arsenals are owned by the Army, so any acquisition and transfer of “large-caliber weapons” cannot have gone unnoticed by the authorities. continue reading

Llaitul was also a regular and “honored” guest in Caracas, where the regime of Nicolás Maduro has shown its “solidarity with his  causes and struggles several times   

Llaitul was also a regular and “honored” guest in Caracas, where Nicolás Maduro’s regime has shown its “solidarity with his causes and struggles” several times. During one of his last visits, in 2018, he was received by then Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and Adán Chávez, brother of the late caudillo Hugo Chávez.

After hearing the report from investigators, the prosecutor stressed that the telephone messages will not only serve for Llaitul’s case, but will also serve as a background for investigations against others accused of violent acts and, subsequently, during the trials for other charges against the leader of the armed group.

“The content of the phone shows when instructions are given for the transfer of weapons and [conversations] to make decisions about who will participate in certain events or attacks,” explained prosecutor Héctor Leiva, who clarified that the current trial focuses only on the charges of theft, usurpation and violations of the State Security Law. If he is found guilty after the trial – which will last 29 days – he could remain in prison for 25 years.

Llaitul is famous for launching, on different platforms, several “declarations of war” against the Chilean State and exhortations to an armed uprising. During the trial, the Prosecutor’s Office read excerpts from his book Chem Ka Rakiduam [Thought and Action], written in the Mapuche language, where Llaitul affirms: “We are responsible (the members of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator) for political violence as a coherent response to our right to rebellion.”

Llaitul himself, in his long plea – it took him two days to read it before the court – declared on March 13 that he considered himself a “political prisoner” and the “visible face” of the conflict between the Mapuche and the Chilean State. He criticized the authorities for calleing him a “terrorist” when the United Nations invited him to speak in Switzerland five years ago.

“What for you is or can be a crime, for us is justice, a duty   

About political violence, he was clear: “What for you is or can be a crime, for us is justice, a duty,” he said, adding that he was not making “an apology for violence.”

In 2021, the Chilean Police wrote a report on the weapons used by armed groups in southern Chile, where Llaitul was suspected of being linked to the presence of weapons in the region. Llaitul was a member of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, an organization that opposed the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 80s and had weapons supplied by Fidel Castro.

According to police sources, Havana had then sent to Chile “80 tons of weapons and explosives, among which were Colt M-16 rifles, 5.56 caliber.” “This arsenal was seized,” the report said, but “not in its entirety,” so it was not ruled out that the Mapuches continued to use it.

However, this information is not mentioned in the trial. According to the Chilean press, the conversations found on Llaitu’s phone about the acquisition of weapons from Cuba are recent.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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The Mother of Political Prisoner Sayli Navarro Was Arrested During Cuban President Diaz-Canel’s Visit to Matanzas

Sonia Álvarez is a member of the Ladies in White and wife of the former prisoner of the Black Spring, Félix Navarro

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, March 26, 2024 — Sonia Álvarez, mother of political prisoner Sayli Navarro, was arrested for several hours on Tuesday morning at the Jovellanos police station. Álvarez’s arrest was part of the security operations for the visit of Miguel Díaz-Canel to several municipalities in the province of Matanzas, says activist Annia Zamora.

Zamora, mother of Sissi Abascal, a political prisoner who, like Navarro, was convicted of participating in the popular protests of July 11 and 12, 2021, tells 14ymedio that Álvarez had scheduled a visit to the La Bellotex prison where her daughter is imprisoned, but “when I left my house I was arrested without any explanation.”

Sonia Álvarez, who is a member of the Ladies in White and wife of the former prisoner of the Black Spring, Félix Navarro, currently also in prison, spent several hours in detention. “She was released at 11 in the morning without any explanation,” Zamora adds.

“When she was released they told her that she could continue to the prison, but so far we don’t know if she was able to see Sayli”   

“They only told her to continue to the prison where her daughter is being held” adds the activist, for whom the arrest had a clear reason: Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel was visiting this Tuesday in several municipalities in the province of Matanzas, including Jovellanos, “a town where they painted the facades, picked up the garbage that had been continue reading

accumulating in the streets for months and made  everything look pretty before his arrival.”

“That mother spent the whole night preparing food for her daughter, and it spoiled because of her arrest, and no one told her why she was arrested,” says Zamora. “When she was released, they told her that she could continue to the prison, but so far we don’t know if she was able to see Sayli.”

Sayli Navarro, Lady in White and activist of the Cuba Decide movement, was sentenced in March 2022 to eight years in prison for the alleged crimes of public disorder, assault and contempt. She had gone to the police station of Perico, the town where she lives with her family, to protest the arrest of demonstrators in the Island-wide ’11J’ protests on 11 July 2021. Her father, Félix Navarro, joined the protest and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Navarro, 70, was one of the political prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003, when 75 opponents and independent journalists received long prison sentences. In 2011, as a result of several negotiations between the Governments of Spain and Cuba and with the mediation of the Catholic Church, they were released and sent into exile, but Navarro was part of the twelve former prisoners who at that time decided to stay in Cuba.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Cuba, Diasniurka Salcedo Arrives in Miami

Diasniurka Salcedo reunites in Miami with her son, whom she hadn’t seen for nine months

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 March 2024 — “I’m free.” With these words, Diasniurka Salcedo Verdecia confirmed on Monday her arrival in Miami (Florida), after spending several days detained in a migrant center in Arizona, on the border with Mexico.

Salcedo also traveled with two of the five children she took care of in Cuba – children of abusive parents or prisoners – after her demonstration last November with several mothers in front of the Ministry of Public Health. The regime gave her the choice between leaving the country before January 15 or serving eight years in prison.

“They told me that he (Alain) must stay because someone had to be detained so that I would be silent,” Salcedo said   

Salcedo Verdecia surrendered at the beginning of last week to the Border Patrol in Arizona – after making the crossing from Nicaragua to the southern border of the United States – and remained incommunicado for several days. This Tuesday, the activist landed at Miami International Airport, where her son and relatives received her. continue reading

In a video published by Telemundo, the activist explained that she cannot return to the Island, because she was “threatened.” She  also said that last January, at Havana International Airport and about to board the flight to Managua, State Security agents prevented Alain, another of the minors she cares for and whom she planned to take with her, from leaving the country. “They told me that he must stay because someone had to be detained so that I would be silent,” she told the television station.

Asked about the March 17 (17M) demonstrations in Santiago de Cuba and other provinces, Salcedo said that they are a clear sign that “the regime has little left.” “They know it and that’s why there’s so much repression.”

Salcedo said that the 17M demonstrations are a clear sign that “the regime has little left”   

Due to the warnings by State Security and a sentence of eight years in prison – suspended on the condition that she leave the country – Salcedo cannot return to Cuba. The ruling was issued in January by the Municipal Court of Alquízar, which accused her of the crimes of enemy propaganda, incitement to commit crimes, insulting patriotic symbols and defamation against a public figure. However, she stated that she will continue with her activism from the United States.

Prior to her exile, and after the protest in front of Public Health – in which she and other mothers asked for medical attention for their children with chronic diseases – the activist said she was a victim of a discredit campaign by the regime. On December 8, she explained on her social networks that the threats were a way to withdraw custody of the minors in her care. However, a week later, at the hearing held in the Municipal Court of Alquízar, she was granted custody of the infants.

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.

Nine NGOs Criticize Havana’s Rejection of UN Recommendations

The recommendations were made during the United Nations Universal Periodic Review

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio) Washington D.C., 26 March 2024 — Nine NGOs criticized Cuba for rejecting 28 of the recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which, among other issues, have to do with political prisoners and the repression of dissent.

The nine groups that sent reports for the UPR – including Cubalex, Article 19, Justice 11J and Pen International – released a statement on the same day that the final report of the Working Group of the UPR mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council was approved.

This UN document indicates that Cuba accepted 292 of the 361 recommendations made – mostly from other states – while it took note of 41 and rejected 28.

“Rejecting 28 recommendations related to the rights to freedom of expression and association shows the lack of commitment of the Cuban authorities to their international human rights obligations,” the NGOs stated. continue reading

It was recommended that Cuba allow “the access of independent observers to trials and prisons   

Among the rejected recommendations are the “liberation of people deprived of liberty for political reasons, the cessation of repression and the harassment against dissident voices.”

Likewise, Cuba was asked to allow “the access of independent observers to trials and prisons, and the development of ’free and fair’ elections,” according to the NGOs.

In their opinion, the rejection of these points acquires “special relevance” after the peaceful demonstrations on March 17 and 18 in several parts of the Island, where hundreds of people protested the prolonged blackouts and the shortage of food.

According to their records, “at least 14 people remain arbitrarily detained” after these events. The Cuban authorities have not offered data in this regard.

The NGO Prisoners Defenders, for its part, puts at 32 the number of people who remain in prison and could be added to its list of political prisoners in Cuba, which in its latest report numbered 1,066 people.

“We demand that the Cuban State recognize and guarantee the fundamental rights of people residing in the country, regardless of their political position, religious belief, profession, race, sexual orientation and gender identity,” the statement concludes.

The signatory groups are Cubalex, Article 19, Justicia 11J, Pen International, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), Cuban Prisons Documentation Center, Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, Cuban Youth Dialogue Table and Museum V.

Translated by Regina Anavy
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Outrage in Manzanillo Over the Prohibition of Holy Week Processions

Dionisio García Ibáñez made a plea in the Palm Sunday prayer before the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre / Screen capture

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, Juan Ramos, 25 March 2024 — Rumors about the suspension of Holy Week processions in the diocese of Bayamo-Manzanillo, in Granma province, are true, as confirmed to 14ymedio by a priest who asked to remain anonymous. “The Government does not want people on the street for fear of possible demonstrations. That has obliged us to stop doing something that we have been doing year after year. Last year there were processions, and everything was done with the peace of God,” he says.

The priest points out that religious acts have not been suspended, but they will be inside the temples. He explains that Holy Week processions are a tradition that dates back to at least 1952, and “they have been carried out for years and years, depending on how the Government is doing.” However, in 2020 and 2021 they were stopped, as part of the measures to avoid contagion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very disgusted by that decision; faith has nothing to do with politics and should not be mixed,” he told this newspaper, visibly indignant. His opinion was shared by a seller who usually placed himself at the corner of the church, who didn’t like the measure either. continue reading

“I don’t know how long the Government will have the power to influence matters of the Church”

“I don’t know how long the Government will have the power to influence matters of the Church. The Church is apart from the Government and has nothing to do with it. If they are afraid of demonstrations, that’s their problem. But it’s easier to prohibit than to solve the people’s problems,” he says.

News of the suspension circulated from a source that alerted the Catholic media Aciprensa. The article included the opinion of Osvaldo Gallardo, a writer and religious activist who currently resides in Miami but lived more than 40 years on the Island, working on culture and communication projects for the Cuban Episcopal Conference. “[The regime] is very afraid of any large concentrations of people right now,” he said.

“The processions of the Catholic Church often bring together not only the faithful but also a number of other people. So the Government fears, since the demonstrations of less than a week ago are still ’fresh’, that similar events will be repeated.”

Gallardo recalled a case that occurred on September 10, 1961, when a young man named Arnaldo Socorro was mortally wounded in front of the church of Our Lady of Charity in Havana, for defending a prohibited procession and shouting “long live Christ the King.”

A seller of devotional items next to the parish church of the Purísima Concepción, in Manzanillo / 14ymedio]

“A procession can, under the enthusiasm and devotion of Easter, create a breeding ground so that another political demonstration suddenly explodes,” the writer said.   This Sunday, meanwhile, the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García Ibáñez, known for his criticism of the Government, which has caused him some problems with the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, made a plea in the Palm Sunday prayer before the Virgin of Charity of Cobre in defense of the demonstrators who ask for “current and food.” “Is that unattainable? Is it asking too much? No. Our people also ask for freedom. For what? So that everyone can carry out their own project,” said the prelate, who left a phrase to be remembered: “In the absence of energy, we ask the Lord to give us inner energy.”

García Ibáñez defended the right of those who protest to express themselves and argued that “in the vast majority of cases it’s done without violence. On the contrary, they are expressing a feeling. In situations that seemed a little tense the same people have begun to chant ’no more violence’. This is what our people ask for and want,” he added.

In addition, the archbishop, visibly moved, also referred to the massive Cuban migration. “Many of our children go to other places because they can’t find it [their development] here. And there are others who hope to do it. What a pity, if this is our land, the one that God gave us!”

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 Grand Master Is Expelled From Cuban Freemasonry to the Cry of ‘Out With the Thief!’

The Freemasons considered that Urquía was illegally carrying out the position / Facebook

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 March 2024 — The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cuba, Mario Alberto Urquía Carreño, has been expelled by the representatives of more than 300 lodges on the Island to the cry of “Out with the thief, usurper, scoundrel, traitor!” The event took place on Sunday, when Urquía, who continues to hold the position after the controversial theft of $19,000 from his office, was preparing to preside over the biannual session of the Masonic Upper Chamber.

The information, reported by CubaNet, was confirmed to 14ymedio this Monday by Ángel Santiesteban, an independent journalist who is a 33rd grade Mason – the highest step in the hierarchy of the order – who could not attend the event but knows the facts. In his opinion, whoever succeeds the Grand Master – predictably the Deputy Grand Master, Gerardo Cepero Díaz, a critic of Urquía – will stop the interference of State Security in the lodge, something that leaves room for optimism.

The Freemasons considered that Urquía was illegally carrying out the position, since on January 25 he was expelled by the Supreme Council of Grade 33 for the Republic of Cuba for his alleged “betrayal.” continue reading

“That had never happened in Cuban Freemasonry, not the painful  aftermath of the robbery, nor the blatant interference of State Security and the expulsion of an acting Grand Master

A witness to what happened this Sunday told CubaNet that the Grand Master refused to leave the room, but he had to do so due to the almost unanimous demand of the representatives of the lodges. “There was a lot of indignation accumulated over the actions of the Grand Master. He came out saying that he would call the Registry of Associations (of the Ministry of Justice) to complain, but they have no authority here,” he said.

“That had never happened in Cuban Freemasonry,” he added, “not the painful aftermath of the robbery, nor the blatant interference of State Security and the expulsion of an acting Grand Master. Today is a day of shame, a day in which Cuban Freemasons demonstrate our autonomy and integrity.”

The Grand Lodge had expelled Urquía for “punishable and intentional” conduct, despite the fact that his responsibility in the theft of money – which belonged to the Llansó Masonic National Asylum, in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo – is still being investigated. The Supreme Council then added that his “entrenchment” had as a consequence a “major Masonic schism in the national territory.”

Urquía continued to cling to the position despite the rejection of a large majority of Freemasons, some of whom had asked the United States to deny him a possible entry into the country for “being an active collaborator of the intelligence agencies of the Cuban regime.” This was stated by the Freemason residing in Colombia, Pompilio Portuondo, on his Facebook account, where he added the names of some alleged “collaborators.”

“We will expose them so that the entire international community and especially the United States will know, so that they will be denied entry as agents of the regime”

“We will gradually continue to bring to light more names of people who are collaborating with Mario Alberto Urquia and all the brothers who in one way or another have hidden, supported or helped Mr. Mario Alberto Urquia Carreño in the next session of the Masonic Upper Chamber of the Grand Lodge on Sunday, March 24. We will expose them so that the entire international community and especially the United States will know, so that they will be denied entry as agents of the regime,” he said.

According to CubaNet, once Urquía’s departure was achieved, and under the transitional presidency of the former Grand Master, Ernesto Zamora, all the Decrees that Urquía had formed after January 25 to date were challenged, “including those in which he sent to the Court those who had confronted him.”

It remains to be seen what will happen to José Ramón Viñas Alonso, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the 33rd grade, who was expelled from Freemasonry for seven years by a sentence of the Supreme Court of Masonic Justice of Cuba on Thursday, February 22. His “punishment” was interpreted by many as a revenge of Urquía Carreño against Viñas, for having reported the theft of the $19,000 in dispute.

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.

About 400 Chickens Drowned in the Storm in Artemisa

With the strong winds of this weekend, the chicken coops lost part of their roofs / Cubadebate

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 March 2024 — The Poultry Company of Artemisa reported on Monday the death of 400 birds in the Ciro Redondo unit, due to the storm that hit the western provinces this weekend. The poor condition of the roofs, which were detached by the strong winds, caused water to enter the chicken coops and some of the birds to drown, the official press explained.

As the provincial authorities told El Artemiseño, “due to the heavy rains and the poor condition of the roofs, it was impossible to prevent some birds from getting wet.” The greatest damage is reported in the José Martí unit, where five warehouses have holes in the roofs, 500 zinc tiles were lost and “damage to the steel structures was reported.”

The greatest damage is reported in the José Martí unit, where five of the warehouses have holes in the roofs   

“At the moment, the workers of the Artemiso poultry farm are in the recovery phase with the tiles that were blown inside and outside the perimeter of the units,” the media added. continue reading

Although the authorities did not offer data about the performance of the poultry industry in the province, the loss of several hundred birds cannot be good news for a company that, at the end of 2023, reported a decrease of 80 million eggs compared to the production of 2020, when they reached 185 million.

“We have 80 million fewer eggs, 50 million because we have fewer chickens and the rest because of low efficiency, since over 70% of the birds are in their second production cycle,” Luis Alberto Hernández Blanco, director of the company, told Cubadebate at the time.

Production was also affected, according to Hernández Blanco, in the months of July and August, when “the food consumption of birds almost reached zero and “the company fell from 62% of position to barely 16%.” “From 300,000 eggs a day we went to 17,000,” he said, and although the company managed to recover, it never attained the level it had before the crisis.

The Irregular deliveries of raw materials, the low quality of the chicken feed and the difficulties in the production of egg cartons are the worst problems that the industry faces, not only in Artemisa but also at the national level.

A credit of 4 million pesos granted by the provincial government last year demonstrates what the industry could achieve with the support of the State

A credit of 4 million pesos granted by the provincial government last year demonstrates what the industry could achieve with the support of the State: in a short time the units acquired better feed, which raised the positions by 70%, and the company sold almost 4 million cartons in the capital city alone. However, far from boosting national production, famous for its “depressed” and “decrepit” chickens, the Government decided to import eggs from Colombia.

After the negotiations began last July and the health certifications were approved in December, the Colombian Agricultural Institute sent the first batch of eggs to Cuba at the beginning of March: two containers, 40 feet each, with 17,280 boxes of 30 units – 518,400 eggs in total. The State has not pronounced on the purchase of this product, nor the price it will have in the Cuban market, where the eggs that arrive on the tables of Cubans are rationed in the bodegas (ration stores), five a month per person.

In the informal market, where inflation and hunger set the rules, a carton of 30 eggs costs 3,000 pesos, a figure well above the average monthly salary.

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.

Arrests Continue for the March 17 Protests in Santiago de Cuba

The two most recent detainees for their links to the 17J protests in Santiago de Cuba are father and son. Yosmany Mayeta Labrada / Facebookddd

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 March 2024 — Almost a week after the protests that took several hundred people to the streets in Santiago de Cuba, on Saturday the authorities arrested 18-year-old, Cristian Kindelán, for having participated in the marches of the Carretera del Morro.

According to the Santiago journalist Yosmani Mayeta Labrada, who lives in the United States, the boy was removed from his house and taken to the Police Unit known as “El Palacete.” He was later transferred to the “operations and torture center” in the Altos de Versailles neighborhood.

The young man’s father, Asdrúbal Kindelán Garbey, was arrested a few hours later in the same center, after going there with several relatives to make a report on Facebook about the situation.

Teresa Garbey, Asdrubal’s mother and Cristian’s grandmother, sent a message on her social networks about the situation. In it she explains that her grandson was arrested for having appeared in a video of the protests and when she asked the agent, whom she identifies as “Major Oscar” and as the one responsible for the case, he told her, “with tremendous disrespect continue reading

that he did not have to give an explanation.” At this, the young man’s father Asdrúbal, annoyed, reprimanded the agent, which in turn caused his arrest.

“It seems that we are in the times of a dictatorship, where people disappear without any explanation, something our commander fought so much against”

“It seems that we are in the times of a dictatorship, where people disappear without giving any explanation, something which our commander fought so much against,” the woman wrote. “It seems that they want to erase all their ideas and bury their legacy in the past. I make this publication to call for the reflection of the officers of this Revolution and their new rulers. This is nothing more than a way to repress people and break them, and I wonder what they fought for and lost so many lives for only to destroy that legacy. I only ask the authorities of this country to reflect on that. I don’t sayPatria y vida’* [Homeland and life], I say ’patria y muerte’ [homeland and death].”

Her statement in defense of the regime motivated an angry response on-line from Mayeta, who wrote “I strongly ask all my followers to share this publication, because if this lady, mother and grandmother does not raise her voice for her own family and continues to support the dictatorship, I, as a Cuban from Santiago and a fighter for the freedom of Cuba and a lover of freedom, will do it.”

This weekend, the Prisoners Defenders organization said that those arrested on March 17 total 38, although the amount could be much higher.

The organization, based in Spain, pointed out that it is very difficult to obtain a final figure due to the lack of official data and the reluctance of many people to give an account of their situation, especially those who have only received a fine or a precautionary measure.

By provinces, Holguín, with 13, had the most arrests, while in Santiago de Cuba there were 12, in Havana four, in Cienfuegos two and in Artemisa three. Six of the total have now been released.

Meanwhile, Justicia 11J counted 13 detainees in total, although two of them have now been released.

*Translator’s note: “Homeland and Life” was the motto for the demonstrations of 11 July 2021, meant to contrast with the regime’s motto of “Homeland and Death.”

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.

Over Three Feet of Water Entered the Occupied Tenements at Galiano and Virtudes From the Rain and Hail

The vents lead onto the street, but also to several garbage containers, whose stench gets worse with the rain / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Espinosa, Havana, March 23, 2024 — The only natural light that residents enjoy in the tenements [“citadel” in Spanish] at Galiano and Virtudes in Havana comes from the vents at street level. However, those same openings allowed the penetration of the water that flooded the basement under an abandoned pharmacy, where several families with children live.

Storms like those that hit the west of the Island this weekend are fatal for a natural environment that is strained and in which people live in deplorable conditions. The vents lead onto the street, but also to several garbage containers the stench of which gets worse with the rain.

This Saturday, after the downpour, which also brought hail to several municipalities in Havana, residents removed water from their homes with buckets. Desperate, they asked the State for a suction pump to draw out the water, which is more than three feet deep. continue reading

This Saturday, after the downpour and the flooding, the residents had to use buckets to remove the water / 14ymedio

The pharmacy above the tenements has been closed for ten years, but the residents say that is no reason to relocate them: “There is no danger of collapse,” they have been told, despite the fact that the bricks of the pharmacy’s facade barely support the building’s arches.

One of the side effects of the storm has been, precisely, the collapses of weak and abandoned structures such as the one that, in the Matanzas neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, collapsed this Friday. The building, located on San Juan de Dios Street, fell with a big “rumble” at 10:00 pm, according to what the neighbors told the official press. Many said that they had tired of warning the authorities about the danger. “What they warned about finally happened,” said one of the interviewees.

Storms like those that hit the west of the Island this weekend are fatal for an environment that, by nature, is rarefied / 14ymedio

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 Creole Mojo Falters With the Rise in Price of Garlic in Cuba

A street vendor of garlic / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, March 24, 2024 — Yucca with creole mojo, tamales with a good portion of sofrito on top and the marinade for meat. In each there is an ingredient that leads and surpasses in importance to all the others: garlic. Cuban cuisine basically smells like the aromatic condiment that accompanies a good part of everyday recipes.

However, ensuring that garlic cloves end up next to the black beans or the boiled malangas is becoming more and more difficult for the pocketbooks of Cuban families. Traditionally sold in the form of bulbs, cloves or strings, garlic is one of this year’s products that has experienced a greater price increase in the agromarkets that 14ymedio monitors every week.

At the beginning of January, on Plaza Boulevard in the city of Sancti Spíritus, a string of garlic reached 1,000 Cuban pesos, and this season’s offer for bulbs and cloves barely appeared on social platforms. “We can’t sell untied garlic because it’s not profitable,” said a seller from a well-known agromarket last January when this newspaper questioned why customers had to buy a complete string of 50 small bulbs. continue reading

“Almost everything was seasoned with the popular bulb, and it was also used in herbal teas for many ailments and in skin plasters”

“I put a small bulb in the garlic juicer and there’s plenty of space,” complained a buyer. “It’s not worth peeling because the cloves are so puny that it takes a lot of work; it’s better to crush them all together and use them like that to at least give some flavor to the food.” This is the method to “not give up eating with some garlic.”

‘Paro Nacional’ (National Strike) Is El Funky’s New Song for the Resistance in Cuba, Is Launched in Miami

“Everyone go on strike! Down with the dictatorship,” says a citizen of the Island in the video clip of El Funky’s new song / Screen capture

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 20 March 2024 — This Wednesday in Miami, the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance (ARC) presented the new song by Eliexer Márquez “El Funky”, Paro Nacional (National Strike), as part of a series of initiatives in support of the resistance in Cuba.

Composed of 54 groups inside and outside the Island, the coalition reported a march this Sunday in Miami, which will start from the Bahía de Cochinos Monument and will conclude at the House of the Cuban Political Prisoner, under the slogans “Support the people of Cuba,” “End the Castro dictatorship” and “Support the National Strike.”

At an event held at the House of the Cuban Political Prisoner, the ARC presented the video of the song.

El Funky is one of the creators of the song Patria y Vida, the anthem of the 11 July 2021 protests in Cuba and winner of the Latin Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Urban Song in 2021.

“We ask the international community, the European Union (EU) and Canada to stop financing the Castro regime,” Orlando Gutiérrez, coordinator of the ARC, told EFE

“We ask the international community, the European Union (EU) and Canada to stop financing the Castro regime,” Orlando Gutiérrez, coordinator of the ARC, told EFE.

Gutiérrez expressed the unconditional support of the ARC for the “Cuban people in the streets for a real change” in Cuba, a change that can only take place, he said, “with the exit from power and the illegalization of the Communist Party and the departure from the Island of the Castro family.”

In the video calling for a national strike in Cuba, several citizens express their indignation from the Island.

“Not a minute more on your knees, Cuba will be free, National Strike,” several voices over the video clip repeat, before the artist sings: “There is no government that resists or that endures that pressure, what Cuba needs is a strike.”

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.

Thousands of Cubans Are Left Without Electricity After Friday’s Rain and Hail Storms

Another phenomenon that accompanied the storms were gusts of wind up to 47 miles per hour / Mario J. Pentón

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 March 2024 — The rain and hail that hit western Cuba this Friday left 120,000 users without power in Havana alone, as reported on Saturday morning by Lázaro Guerra, technical director of the Unión Eléctrica (UNE). The rest of the western provinces also suffered serious effects, although the worst was in four municipalities in Havana: El Cotorro, San Miguel, Arroyo Naranjo and Boyeros.

In addition, 13,679 customers are without electricity in Pinar del Río, 54,787 in Artemisa, 43,808 in Mayabeque and 38,000 in Matanzas. Guerra said that they have summoned technical brigades from the central provinces to help in the repair of the electricity network of the most damaged areas.

A series of clouds with rain and thunderstorms, whose passage between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm was reported by the Institute of Meteorology this Friday, also brought hailstorms in the western towns of Honda Bay, Guanajay, Mariel, Bauta and several municipalities in the capital. The images of the hail, which according to the official press reached the size of “a one-peso coin,” circulated widely on social networks. continue reading

Hailstone in the Havana municipality of El Cotorro / 14ymedio

On Friday, State reporter Lázaro Manuel Alonso published some videos of the ravages that the storm was causing in Havana. The images showed the difficult advance of several vehicles on a flooded and rainy road, in addition to mounds of hail accumulated in the streets and courtyards of several houses in the Reparto Eléctrico, La Güinera and Punta Brava neighborhoods. In addition, the Luyanó River overflowed its banks, and traffic was stopped on the Via Blanca.

This is what 52nd and 99th streets looked like this Saturday, in Lotería, a municipality of Cotorro / Courtesy

The Caribbean Channel reported that several individuals who had been trapped in their vehicles during the flooding had to be rescued by firefighters. “Sources from the place confirm that the cars were swept away by the flood, while neighbors in the area had to evacuate,” they explained on social networks.

Overflowing rash bins hit by the downpour, on Calle Valle in Havana / 14ymedio

Another phenomenon that accompanied the rains were gusts of wind up to 47 miles per hour, in addition to “floods in low-lying and poorly drained areas,” according to the Institute. It also warned that the western region will continue to be cloudy on Saturday, with showers and thunderstorms becoming milder at night. The center of the country will be cloudy, with rain and thunderstorms, while the east will have few clouds and isolated rain showers.

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 Cuba, Private Opticians Have Displaced the State Workshops That Are Totally Unstocked

Opticians carry out the few repairs they can with what they have at hand

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 March 2024 — The statements to the official press by Gilda Tápanes, administrator of the State optical company of Calle del Medio, in Matanzas, leave little doubt about her opinion of the private optical companies that overshadow the State ones. “Our clientele has been stolen,” she says, despite the fact that her service “is very cheap.” However, the testimony of other managers, opticians and clients interviewed by Girón makes it clear that the State workshops have had nothing to offer since 2020, when they received their last batch of lenses and frames.

In the supposed “competition” that Tápanes describes, the understocked State opticians have lost the lead. While the 13 provincial workshops lack “arms, screws, terminals, lenses and frames,” private companies like SuperVision, which received an enthusiastic report last June, offer “all possible services.”

With a small reception area and a young staff,” the official newspaper says, “SuperVision continues receiving customers and has plans to expand to other municipalities. They work with “security and confidence,” insists Girón, and although it doesn’t necessarily support them, the conclusion is that “the private ventures are the ones that today sustain the production of eyeglasses in Matanzas.” continue reading

The properties exhibit empty showcases that force customers to buy in private companies like SuperVisión/Girón

In just 10 days, SuperVision – for a price ranging from 5,500 pesos to  10,000 – gets the appropriate lens and frame with the help of the Office of the Conservator of Matanzas, which facilitates imports.

In just 10 days, SuperVision – for a price ranging from 5,500 pesos to 10,000 – gets the appropriate lenses and frames with the help of the Office of the Conservator of Matanzas, which facilitates imports

Getting glasses through the State, characterized by”precariousness,” is “a headache,” says Girón. This was the case for Gabriel Rodríguez, from Matanzas, interviewed by the newspaper, whose son has a serious impairment in his eyesight and needed special lenses.

The State workshops, he said, “have practically nothing. Even for repairs, spare parts are scarce, not to mention their manufacture. The shortage is widespread and includes frames and lenses; in our case, there was no way to get glasses with the depth of vision the child required.”

The optician had no materials, but he knew of an “unlicensed” workshop that could “guarantee a good job” for 16,000 pesos, plus the cost of the frames. Rodríguez ended up in a private company, and the glasses for his son cost him 12,000 pesos. However, his odyssey didn’t end there. When he went to check at the pediatric hospital that the gradation of the lenses was correct, the number did not match the prescription. They company tried to reassure him: “The hospital machine is not calibrated and gives errors.” Rodríguez didn’t know who to believe.

Getting glasses from the State, characterized by “precariousness,” is “a headache” / Girón

Pedro Tanquero Riaño, provincial director of the Pharmacy and Optics Company, admits that there is no solution to the problem. “There is no financing or resources,” he says. The workshops “have been shut down for about four years because of raw materials and spare parts that it has not been possible to obtain, because everything is bought in dollars and optical services in the world are expensive,” he alleges.

Girón ends the article by blaming, of course, the U.S. blockade and saying that, despite the “voracious demands of the market” that prevail in Matanzas, at some point the State will have to start charging for glasses, even though free healthcare was “one of the greatest achievements of the Cuban social system.”

Meanwhile, for most Cubans in Matanzas, who see the prices of private companies going through the roof but will pay anything when a child is involved, they have a dilemma: “They must choose between eating or improving the child’s vision.”

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.

Ciego De Avila, Cuba, Extends the Sugar Harvest Until May Due to the Lack of Fuel

The Ciro Redondo sugar mill was not able to take part in the harvest this year and remains shut down.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 March 2024 — Forced to extend the harvest until March due to ’non-compliance’ — i.e. the failure to meet the goals of the sugar plan — nothing can help the Ecuador sugar mill in Ciego de Ávila. Now it is “the lack of the essential fuel,” according to the official press this Friday, that delays the ’campaign’, aimed at the province’s own consumption. Last Tuesday it still had not exceeded 45% of the production plan, with just 3,732 tons of sugar milled.

The Ecuador mill began working in January, but with significant delays in the planting and constant breakdowns of machinery, and even with the support of the Ciro Redondo workers the deadline could not be met.

“The poor dividends in the sugar mills are joined by delays in the planting, since in the first two months of 2024 only 43% of the fuel necessary for these needs was received,” says the local media, Invasor. continue reading

Now, in order to “comply with the plan for sugar,” both the Ecuador and the Primero de Enero mills, also in Ciego de Ávila, must again extend the campaign until April and May, respectively, “as long as the usual rains of that season don’t prevent the work.”

“The poor dividends of the sugar mills are joined by arrears in the planting of the cane

Of the three sugar mills, only Primero de Enero is fulfilling the forecast for the campaign and has so far delivered 1,769 tons of sugar.

As for the Ciro Redondo sugar mill, whose entry into the harvest is an unattainable goal even for workers in the sector, it remains in a “prolonged industrial silence, waiting for the incorporation of the adjoining bioelectric plant,” on whose energy it depends.

About to finish the campaign, the province has only 16% of the planned sugar, and, according to the media, “the material deficiencies that hinder the progress of manufacturing operations” are the main cause. The measures promoted in the sector so far “depend on the will of the labor groups and managers in the Ecuador mill,” who cannot stop the industry debacle on their own.

Before the extension of the harvest until April was announced, the workers of the mill had already predicted in February the disaster for sugar in the province. “The most hard-core predict that it will be the smallest production in more than a century of the mill’s existence,” Invasor said at the time.

The news is no better in other provinces. According to the official newspaper El Artemiseño, the 30 de Noviembre sugar mill of that province, “responsible for the manufacture of sugar corresponding to the basic basket of the provinces of Artemisa and Pinar del Río” — sold through the rationing system — as of Wednesday had produced 8% of the expected volume of sugar, about 746 tons.

“Broken harvesting machines, automotive and rail transport equipment, as well as the fuel deficit, also conspire against the development of the crop

According to Joselín Barrios Álvarez, director of the mill, the 30 de Noviembre mill could not even join the first weeks of the harvest due to a “fault in one of the three boilers,” a problem that is still “in the process of being solved,” and which they hope to have repaired by the end of this month. “As a result, we owe all the unprocessed sugar at that time. However, we plan to complete without problem the pending quantities for the basic basket of March: 1,001 tons for Pinar del Río and 934 for Artemisa,” Barrios explained.

“Broken harvesting machines, automotive and rail transport equipment, as well as the fuel deficit, also conspire against the development of the harvest, executed in a scenario of resource and financing limitations,” summarized El Artemiseño.

The manager, who acknowledges that “they are behind” but promises that the sugar mill will “be up to date,” said that he is working on “increasing the transport of cane to the mill from the reorganization of the harvest, adjusting to the available transport.” However, as in the Ecuador mill, there is little more that workers can do to revive the depressed sugar sector.

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.

At Least Six Arrested for Protesting Against the Blackouts in Holguin, Cuba

Elsa Elisa Solís Barrera and Lea Velázquez Ochoa are the two women who have been detained.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, Miguel García, 23 March 2024 — At least six people were arrested in the town of San Andrés, in Holguín, after demonstrating on March 8. They are charged with the crimes of contempt and public disorder, according to sources close to the accused.

According to Martí Noticias, four of the detainees spent several days “incommunicado” in the State Security barracks in the people’s council of Pedernales, in the provincial capital. Since last Thursday, they have been waiting in another prison for the results of the police investigation into the protest.

Among the detainees are two women – both imprisoned in the provincial prison – who have been identified as Elsa Elisa Solís Barrera and Lea Velázquez Ochoa. Of the rest, two are imprisoned in the CubaSí prison – Yunior Barrera and Yulier Ramírez – and two others, Reinier Reimón Peña and Warnel Ricardo, are still in the State Security prison.

Elsa Solís’ mother and Yunior Barrera’s sister, Blanca María Barrera, told Martí Noticias that the authorities “have not explained anything” about the situation of the detainees. The woman, sick with worry, regretted not only the arrest of her daughter, but the fact that her 48-year-old brother is far from his children, “two minor children with intellectual disabilities.” continue reading

The authorities “have not explained anything” about the situation of the detainees  

The Holguin activist Dámaso Fernández offered details about another prisoner, Lea Velázquez, who was fined 5,000 pesos. “On Monday, March 11, they confiscated her cell phone and told her that she would be notified. When she went to get the phone, they detained her,” Fernández explained.

The activist said that on the day of the protest, a group of residents in San Andrés took to the streets “asking for freedom, banging on pots and pans and forming a crowd in the park.” Other relatives spoke to Martí Noticias but, according to the media, they asked that their statements not be published for fear of State Security reprisals.

The long blackouts and shortages that the Island is suffering sent Cubans into the street to protest in Santiago de Cuba on March 17. Since then, according to the count of the NGO Prisoners Defenders (PD), a total of 32 Cubans in nine provinces have been “detained, fined and prosecuted.” Only six of them have regained their freedom. The list of prisoners “increases every day at a considerable rate, and many victims (the majority) do not report, especially if they are given a fine or a home confinement precautionary measure, so we think that throughout the country there could have been around a hundred arrests,” warns this organization based in Madrid.

In Holguín, about 13 people were arrested on March 17, and in Cienfuegos and Artemisa, respectively, two citizens were arrested. In Havana there were four detainees and at least one each in the provinces of Granma, Guantánamo, Villa Clara and Matanzas, says PD. However, the NGO warns, given that several detainees in the protests were released with a fine and do not want to be exposed to more serious measures, the number of detainees could be estimated at 100 throughout the country.

In Holguín, about 13 people were arrested on March 17, and in Cienfuegos and Artemisa, respectively, two citizens were arrested   

Before that date, smaller demonstrations were confirmed by the independent press in several provinces of the country. One of them was the solo protest of Eric Luis Acea Quevedo, 24, who caused damage to an official car in Cienfuegos and who will have to pay more than 300,000 pesos to the State, as sources close to the young man told Martí Noticias. “First they wanted to accuse him of an attack but now they say that he will have to pay a lot of money to the Government and wait for trial in prison,” said a person from Cienfuegos who asked not to be identified.

Acea will have to pay 136,066 pesos for damage to the front windshield, 54,000 for the rear windshield, 44,610 for the door windows, and 73,100 for the labor, body work and paint: more than 300,000 pesos in total. The young man attacked the car with a machete on March 12 in front of Communist Party headquarters in Cienfueguos and was instantly arrested by the Police.

Popular discontent with the long blackouts is at the origin of several gestures of protest against State property. Throwing rocks at windows, cacerolazos (banging on pots and pans) and an increase in police surveillance are increasingly frequent in the areas that suffer the worst part of the energy crisis, as reported previously by 14ymedio.

Popular discontent with the long blackouts is at the origin of several gestures of protest against State property  

Holguín is one of the provinces where long blackouts occur, which can last up to 15 hours in a single day. A resident of the popular council of Alcides Pino told this newspaper that, since the power outages began, “the ’incidents’ to express discontent happen practically every day. They haven’t spilled into the street, but there’s no shortage of cacerolazos when the power is off. Discontent is widespread.”

As for the foreign-currency stores, the neighbor says that the authorities have not stood idly by. “They are putting police officers and red berets (state security) at night to guard them to prevent people from breaking the windows. It’s not the first time that this has happened in Holguín,” he says.

Alarm has been raised in Havana, where the Government insists on blaming the United States for the demonstrations of discontent and has unleashed a flood of propaganda that comes from Miguel Díaz-Canel himself.

The president premiered this week on State TV’s new program Desde la Presidencia (From the Presidency), a kind of Cuban Aló Presidente,* in which he crushed the official explanation for the demonstrations: “As long as there is a blockade, as long as there is a worsening blockade and the inclusion of Cuba on the list of countries that supposedly support terrorism, we have every sovereign right to blame the Government of the United States.”

*Translator’s note: Aló Presidente was a Venezuelan talk show that featured then president Hugo Chávez.

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.