An Unfinished Essay on Hate in Cuba

We were lumpen, scum, worms, bastards… and now we are haters. (Ecured)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 30 May 2023 — The Cuban regime behaves like a violent husband who, after destroying his partner’s face, swears he did it out of love. They, the ones with slogans about death and clubs studded with nails, are now the “Care Bears”. Díaz-Canel, after giving his abhorrent combat order, dons a pink dinosaur costume and pretends to be Barney and Friends.

They say they’re on the side of “those who love and found.” First they used José Martí as the intellectual author of an armed attack on the Moncada barracks. Then they attempted to tattoo a hammer and sickle on the apostle’s* forehead, concealing his criticism of Marxism. Later they juggled to reinterpret the phrase, “with everyone for the good of everyone,” insinuating that “everyone” only included them. And now they waste rivers of ink trying to turn a dramatic poem, Abdala, pointing out that it was an adolescent Martí who spoke of “invincible hate”, an immature Martí.

Against us, the beaten, they always used hateful phrases. We were lumpen, scum, worms, bastards… and now we are haters. They think that, after all the beatings they gave, we will be submissive and get in bed with them.

Che, his model to be followed, was a bit less hypocritical. The hesitant guerilla spoke of hate as a factor in the fight, the intransigent hate of the enemy, the hate that should turn them into efficient killing machines. Che said that “a people without hate cannot triumph over a brutal enemy.” Guevara, at least, consciously assumed the role of hater, without pouting or masking his dislike with fake emojis.

I am not a Guevara fan. The asthmatic guerilla’s incendiary philosophy is not my paradigm. But I take responsibility for my rage. I cannot be indifferent when faced with all the crimes of a deceitful regime that has dispensed so much physical and psychological abuse, in the name of an abstract love. continue reading

That love, considered by Albert Camus as worse than hate, resulted in the Holy Inquisition, the Nazi genocide and the horrors of Stalinism. Hitler himself said he fought for love. And Castroism wants us to view executions, concentration camps for homosexuals, parameterization,** censorship, rapid response brigades, the sinking of ships with children aboard, political prison and forced exile as “crimes of passion”.

The regime has exploited the issue of Buena Fe’s Spanish Tour to shed its clothes. Even Alpidio Alonso has been so cynical as to talk about “harassment” and “physical assault in public”. The Minister of Censorship forgets the January 27th when he not only went out to snatch phones away from people on the street, but also to throw punches at young artists, beat them onto a bus, and drag them to a jail cell.

The members of Buena Fe have not been thrown onto a garbage truck, they have not seen decapitated doves at their doors, they are not imprisoned nor prevented from leaving the country, patrol cars don’t harass them. On the contrary. In a free country, Spain, they can call the authorities if they feel threatened, they can count on their protection during concerts. In Cuba, however, it is the very police deliver the scratches. It is they who dress as the people to spit and throw stones at everyone who doesn’t believe their official discourse.

This flipping of the dictatorship’s narrative about love and hate is not casual. Their laboratories know that there is a global controversy around hate on social media, that the algorithms are programmed to promote or contain content, depending on this dilemma. That is why they abuse those little words that sound altruistic and they place them in their hashtags. The order to speak of love is not the result of a genuine sentiment, it is the Party’s official directive to its technicians on the use of social media.

But millions of Cubans refuse to continue suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Millions of Cubans have shut the door, as Nora in A Doll’s House. Twenty-first century Cuba does not want to continue to be hostage to a toxic love. This country wants to report them, take them before the tribunals, so that they will pay for their abuse. And it is not hate, it is justice. This country can no longer stand the slimy phrases of a regime that only loves power, that only wants us so we can iron their shirts. And it is not hate, it is dignity.

This country… wants a divorce.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Translator’s notes:
*José Martí is known as “the apostle” by Cubans of all persuasions.
**Parameterization is a process of establishing parameters and declaring anyone who falls outside them (the parametrados) to be what is commonly translated as “misfits” or “marginalized.” This is a process much harsher than implied by these terms in English. The process is akin to the McCarthy witch hunts and black lists and is used, for example, to purge the ranks of teachers, or even to imprison people.  


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 Anguish, the Wife of a July 11th Prisoner on a Hunger Strike in Cuba, ‘He Could Lose His Life’

Yosvany Rosell García Caso was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 31 May 2023 — Before July 11, 2021, Yosvany Rosell García Caso spent his days between working as a welder and rearing his three children. That Sunday his life took a turn when he joined the mass protests in Holguín. Six months later, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition. Wednesday marked his 20th day on a hunger strike, demanding his immediate release.

“My husband has lost a lot of weight and he is very frail; he barely weighs 55 kilograms after so many days without a taste of food,” Mailín Rodríguez Sánchez tells 14ymedio. “On May 29th they transferred him from the Cuba Sí prison in El Yayal to the Lucía Iñiguez Landín Clinical Surgical Hospital.

“He is refusing intravenous hydration,” adds Rodríguez, who spoke with her husband to “try to get him to change his position.” However, 34-year-old Rosell was determined to “continue the hunger strike because he is tired of having his rights, and that of other 11J prisoners, continuously violated.”

“I understand him perfectly, but he is in a situation where he could lose his life and that worries me greatly,” says the anguished woman. Rosell began the hunger strike on May 11, following an incident where prison authorities denied him a visit from his wife and his three children, and as the days passed he expanded his demands to include his release as soon as possible.

“We have three children five, six and 14 years old. The younger ones are aware of what is happening with their father, but the oldest does know everything,” explained Rodríguez to us. “Since yesterday my daughter is asking me to go see her father and we are making arrangements so she can visit him in the hospital. I hope she will talk to him and get him out of the position he is now in.” continue reading

Since he began the hunger strike, the woman, desperately, has gone to the prison on four occasions, but they did not allow her to see him and they did not even allow him religious attention. “After much begging they only let me see him yesterday at midday when he was already in the hospital. Today I am going over there again to see if they will let me in,” she said.

Rodríguez says that the damage is not only emotional or physical, “In addition to violating his human rights, the family has lived through two very difficult years, because he was the breadwinner. We’ve suffered repression and an economic hit for his being in prison. He, working as a welder and blacksmith, provided for the family.”

This is not the first time Rosell is on a hunger strike. In February 2022, he did not eat while demanding that he not be transferred from Holguín to a prison in Cienfuegos and demanding improved conditions in prison. At that time, he had been the victim of suspended telephone calls or being kept in isolation.

Several months later, in July of last year, Rossell once again resorted to a hunger strike after being beaten for dressing in white in remembrance of the mass protests on 11J.

“I do not regret anything in the least bit. How could I regret wanting to see my country free of a communist dictatorship, which for more than 60 years, has subjected us to extreme misery and violated all our human rights? That blessed July 11th not only marked a before and after the beginning of the end of communism in Cuba, it also showed the worst face of the dictatorship,” he wrote in a letter shared on social media weeks earlier.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuban Regime Bars Private Companies from Remunerated Training Activities

14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 17 May 2023–Workforce training is one of the most important activities to develop in any economy that does not want to lose the competitiveness and prosperity race in the knowledge society in which we now live. Unions and businesses, which deploy training programs based on dialogue and social agreements that are applauded by the government and implemented with public and private funding, know this. Unfortunately, in this matter, Cuba is also different from the rest of the world. We’ve just found out that the Castroite economic system cannot be further from reality and the needs of a modern society and economy. We learned yesterday, through the Official account of Cuba’s Minister of Economy and Planning, directed by Gil, that currently, not a single micro, small or medium private enterprise (known as mipymes in Cuba) or nonagricultural cooperative (private entities) includes training activities in its approved social objectives, thus it is not legal to offer remunerated training services. From that, we conclude that mipymes and nonagricultural cooperatives are not authorized to charge for training services.

In Cuba, neither mipymes nor nonagricultural cooperatives have the government authorization to impart training for a fee. Carrying out this activity could be a crime. The regime would like them to do it for free, in which case they would not do them. The matter came to light, apparently, because the Ministry had information that a series of “non-government forms of management had requested to conduct or were conducting courses, conferences, seminars and other types of training on various topics, in exchange for a fee or by contract.”

Think of the damage it could do to an economy if courses, conferences, seminars, and other types of training were provided, establishing a price. The price would be established to regulate the conditions of service delivery in terms of quality and quantity. Is it that the regime would like that these activities be carried out for free? Once again the collectivist principles and false egalitarianism are driving the economy. continue reading

In reality, these activities could sometimes be free, if the training program benefits from some type of subsidy, but in modern economic systems, all businesses, regardless of whether they are public or private, can organize training and if they deem it necessary, may charge for their services as compensation for their effort and dedication to the task. There is nothing abnormal or odd about it.

In Cuba, forget about it. When faced with the complaint, Ministry authorities took Decree 49/2021 out of the drawer, “Of the activities carried out by micro, small, and medium private enterprises, nonagricultural cooperatives, and self-employed workers,” and the rest of the legislation relative to the Cuban education system, which prohibits the private, remunerated exercise of training activities. And they are willing to demand compliance.

In line with what was presented, one of the economy’s main sources of knowledge transfer is eliminated, which is formal or nonformal training. The so-called education and formal training is acquired through the education system and is paid for with taxes collected by the communist government. Good. But in the world of work, training aimed at improving the qualifications of workers, introducing new products or services, new processes, etc. is conducted within and by companies. Díaz-Canel’s doctoral thesis includes some references to this type of issue.

Mipymes that have, through research, development, and innovation (I+D+i in Spanish) acquired some competitive advantages, which may be of interest to others, will not be authorized in Cuba to train others on those advantages, which in any case would be continually changing so as not to lose their competitive edge.  It is interesting because on many occasions, companies finance their I+D+i activities by offering to train others, but in Cuba this path is closed by the regime, such that external training activities, both formal and nonformal, for a fee, are banned by the communist regime for the private sector. Let’s see who risks offering them for free.

The issue is that this measure may extend to foreign private companies that operate on the Island.  Let’s remember that one formula often used to hire qualified employees for open positions is based on conducting training and selecting the most qualified candidates and those that adapt to the requirements of the job. To participate in these programs, on occasion there is a fee. Is this formula banned?

And what will happen to the internal trainings all companies conduct to continually adapt their services and products, aimed primarily at their employees. Generally, these programs are implemented by the employees of the company (who get a salary supplement) or they hire external professionals to develop training initiatives. Will it also be forbidden to contract external firms to conduct training or pay trainers a bit extra? And what will happen to training consulting services that help design better plans adapted to the needs of companies? And what will happen if the union conducts training or the association of Spanish businesses in Cuba, for example?

The formula selected by the communist regime is unjust and is ideologically charged. It prohibits private companies from charging for training services they provide, such as courses, conferences, seminars and other types of training, then are we to suppose that it will do the same to non profit organizations linked to certain institutions that still can operate on the island with an authorization from and under the control of the regime? Why does it apply to some and not others? The consequences of this type of measure is that in Cuba job training will not reach the levels desired for an economy that wishes to prosper. Without training, worker productivity will be deficient and delayed relative to technological advances. Without training, workers lose motivation and are less productive.

Given the state of the Cuban economy, the recommendation to authorities is to start over with a clean slate for the haggard Decree 49/2021, before it’s too late. Cuba cannot be at odds with the world economy.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Spanish post
17 May 2023

‘My Sons are Down to Pure Bones’ Denounces the Mother of Two Brothers Detained in Caimanera, Cuba

Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez and Felipe Octavio Correa Martínez have spent three weeks in detention. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 May 2023 — Since May 6th, Victoria Martínez Valdivia has had no life. On that day, two of her sons were arrested for the street protests in Caimanera, Guantánamo, where a crowd congregated at the yell of “Freedom!”, “Homeland and Life!” and “Down with the communist system!” Since then, the brothers have been under arrest “in terrible conditions,” their mother told 14ymedio.

Felipe Octavio Correa Martínez, 26 years old, and Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez, age 32, have spent three weeks in the Provincial Unit for Criminal Investigations and Operations in the city of Guantánamo. The family has visited them on several occasions and “they are in very bad shape,” described Victoria Martínez.

“My sons are down to pure bones, the younger one was shaking,” she added. “The first times I went to visit them I noticed that my son Luis Miguel would hide his face and then I knew it was because, with the beatings, they knocked two of his teeth out, I could barely recognize him, he was in such bad shape.”

“The place for the visits is in such a condition that it is evident they are filming everything we do,” describes the mother. “There is a table, two chairs and everything is prepared in such a way that you can tell there is a camera somewhere to record what we talk about and do while we are there.”

Martínez warns that her sons have not had all the procedural guarantees, “I’ve had to hire two lawyers already, I paid 4,200 pesos for each one and that was very difficult for my family because we have a low income. But the attorneys have not been able to even speak with my sons.” continue reading

“At first I hired a lawyer who I later had to remove from the case because in the first week, he did nothing for my sons,” she says. “Later, when I went to see him to show him the videos of the protest which show that Felipe Octavio and Luis Miguel had not committed any violent acts, he said they were “already doomed.”

The lawyer, “had already penalized them and I decided to cancel his contract. How is it possible that he had already assumed they were guilty,” she explained to us. “When I went to see the police inspector in charge of the case, First Lieutenant Dailovis Torres, he gave me a paper which states they are being charged with public disorder and Felipe Octavio is also charged with resistance.”

“I asked for how long they would be detained. But they said their files are with the Military Prosecutor. I don’t know why, because they are civilians, why do they do this to them?” she reproached. “They won’t give us a trial date nor details of what will happen to them, they don’t tell us anything, they give us the runaround, trying to distract us.”

Martínez believes that such a long detention is not in line with what Luis Miguel and Felipe Octavio did, “My sons have had enough, because here in Caimanera we are dying of hunger. The last batch of split peas they sold us as part of the rationed basic food basket were full of weevils,” she denounced. “They went out into the street saying the truth and the people, who supported them, began to join them. They complained about the poor food supplies, that there is no fuel for the ambulances. They protested peacefully, without weapons.”

“That was in the afternoon, but at night the trucks full of Black Berets arrived and they beat them like animals,” remembers their mother. “My son was dragged for three blocks. His brother approached to see what they were doing to his brother and they beat him too. Since that day, they have been under arrest.”

“Luis Miguel is married, he is responsible for his wife’s son and two nephews, one of whom had a cerebral stroke,” she added. “We have lived our whole lives in Caimanera, I am 51 years old and I was born here; my parents are also from here. I care for my bed-ridden sister who is disabled and my sons’ arrest has made daily life worse.”

“For example, here in my house there is no water, my sons have to carry it from far away for us to bathe and care for the people in the house who are bedridden,” she explained. “I don’t even want to eat, I can’t sleep, I have no life since that day they took them.”

As to the situation of the Guantánamo town, Martínez describes it clearly, “Now they’ve tried to calm the situation in Caimanera by stocking the stores.” They brought oil and ground beef. They have us going from one line to another so we don’t complain, so we can’t think of anything else.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuba’s Diaz-Canel Does Not Understand the Food Situation, Rather, He Sees It Backwards

Cuban farmers have been hit hard by lack of inputs and fuel shortages. (Flickr / Kuhnmi)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 13 May 2023 — Perhaps someone could think that the script for the meetings the regime leaders are conducting throughout the Island could change at some point and gain a certain realism. An expectation that, unfortunately, hasn’t been met in Matanzas (nor in Mayabeque.) There, Cuban president Díaz-Canel once again repeated the mantra that food is a priority. Later, the state press referenced that message from the communist leader in relation to the increase in inflation for agricultural products. A serious issue that is at the origin of the social protests and growing separation between the people and the communist leaders, who didn’t even dare celebrate May 1st at the controversial Plaza of the Revolution.

Thus, if food is a priority and the main problem is food price inflation, what are they waiting for to take action? People are starting to get fed up with so many exchanges, that the state press describes as “sincere and profoundly critical”, during which, as previously in Artemisa, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara or Cienfuegos and Camagüey, they talked and talked about all sorts of things, many of them trivial, but they did not get to proposing concrete solutions to the problems. People get exasperated. And the worst of it is that, if there is a lack of trust in the county’s top leaders: Díaz-Canel, Marrero, Gil, etc., what they will gain is that people will begin to think the same of local and provincial leaders. They have been warned, they should prepare for the worst.

It’s the same old same old. The script has not shifted a single millimeter: the US ’criminal blockade’ is responsible for what happens, the party needs to perfect itself, power must be shifted to the territories and much remains to be done. A song, which surprisingly, is used later by the state press to attempt to gain some time in a critical economic scenario. The expectation now is that Minister Gil will offer real information on the economic situation during the next general assembly which has been scheduled with this topic as the order of the day. continue reading

As of now, what is not expected is for any delegate to demand explanations or responsibilities. It’s all the same, in no time the first semester of 2023 will be over, and in reality, the diagnosis will remain unknown for an economy that is in what economists describe as stagflation, a dangerous combination for its consequences — economic stagnation and inflation. The worst possible.

In the case of Matanzas, the provincial governor said that of the 264 agreements made last January, 195 have been met, showing management deficits. In Mayabeque they provided similar percentages of underperformance. The opposite could occur, that problems are not guaranteed to be resolved just by meeting the agreements.

Díaz-Canel says that much remains to be done, and the question is, what have the local communists been doing since January? The situation is grave in Matanzas where 16 companies report losses, a result that depends very much on the economic conditions created by Díaz-Canel.

They also spoke about the diminishing cattle mass and milk production, as well as not meeting the targets for fattening pigs and the slow pace, once again, of sugar production which will give way to another sugar harvest that is smaller than the previous year’s. A terrifying assessment of the situation that occurs in the rest of the provinces. The only highlight was the increase in exports of honey, charcoal and medical services. Incredible.

These meetings with Díaz-Canel, Marrero, and communist leaders with local regime representatives have placed food production at the center of the debates. As if the supply of agricultural products depended on decisions at the local level. The communists deny the existence in Cuba of agricultural holdings that benefit from large-scale operations, which allows them to achieve increasing yields, at lower unit costs.

They do not want that model because they prefer to maintain control of production so that consortia of economic power do not emerge able to escape from the ideological slogans. Thus, they want to take production to the local level, so that it occurs with small farms destined for small markets. A good example is milk, which sinks to state levels due to low farm yields, lack of motivation among ranchers, and the objective and contrasting fact that there is no milk to sell.

When paralysis strikes production, the only remedy is to review the production relationships. Even Marx would end up agreeing on this matter. If a system of production, any of them, is unable to feed the entire population and must resort to imports to cover food deficits, its design is distorted, inefficient, and should be replaced. The Cuban communists insist that the system continues functioning, and attempts to find solutions within the system, but that is impossible.

With regard to inflation, Díaz-Canel, who has been responsible, in large part, for the situation after the mistaken attempt to apply the so-called ordering task, should not say he was not warned. Prices increase in Cuba but not because people have more purchasing power and increasing demand. Prices rise because the supply is continually declining, for the reasons stated above.

And food prices rise more because agricultural production is at its lowest. Díaz-Canel is already delayed in beginning to solve problems and apply the correct decisions because the ones he’s applied until now have not yielded results. Precisely because they end up encouraging more and more reductions in supply, which must increase for prices to level off and begin to decline. Is it so difficult to understand the issue?

Díaz-Canel was worried he would not be capable of “ordering” prices, to avoid a surge in a “chain of intermediaries” because that is what, in his opinion, increases prices. He is mistaken; prices are currently rising and rising a lot, and not because intermediaries exist, which are outlawed by the communist regime. In Cuba, the only intermediary–the state through Acopio–is the one that creates these situations of food shortages in consumer markets. Díaz-Canel not only does not understand reality, but rather, he sees it backward.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuba’s Food Production Labyrinth: Heading Toward Failure

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

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 9 May 2023 — Local food production is the latest experiment practiced by Cuban communists but it will be a failure. Like many others. The municipalities aren’t up to the task of producing enough food. The idea proposed — to shift state responsibilities to the local level for them to be managed by the territorial communist organizations — is a useless, inefficient exercise and far from improving the quality of life for people, will result in authentic chaos, exacerbating differences among Cubans according to the zone where they live, and many other things.

But Cuban President Díaz-Canel’s persistence in implementing structural changes and in managing and eliminating obstacles, so that municipalities develop these functions seems firm. And the state-run press does not pass up an opportunity to spotlight the gesture.

This is what occurred on Monday in Artemisa, where Díaz-Canel participated in a meeting to “evaluate achievement of the commitments made in January by this territory to overcome the complexities the nation is experiencing in the economic, social, and political-ideologic order.” A kind of ministerial review meeting that, since it will extend to the rest of the provinces, will keep the junta that runs the country occupied for quite a while.

And here comes the most notable result, when they realized that five months after a similar meeting was held in the province, during which they identified strategies to produce food in the area, “much remains to be done and there is great potential in several places that are not being used.”

Our position on this matter is clear. If, instead of focusing on creating and strengthening local production systems, they bet on the unity of the national market to take advantage of the production potential of increasing economies of scale, which ensures a superior efficiency of production processes, it would be another story. continue reading

Any first-year economics student would have corrected their “localist” initiative which is stifled by a phenomenon economists know well: diminishing returns. These occur precisely when the scale in which one factor operates, for example, the land, is not sufficient for the amount of work available. The obsession with producing in this manner creates inefficiency and “multiple potentialities,” as the state press note says, are lost.

But this local food production is another one of the communist congress’s conclusions, of those that when implemented end up damaging the Cuban economy. Remember what happened with the Ordering Task*, which also was imposed as a communist obligation. Putting ideology ahead of economic rationality is one of the most evident examples of failure in communist Cuba.

Wanting a municipality to become the fundamental entity responsible for food production is a mistake. Another is expecting food sovereignty goals to be met; as is believing that local authorities have the capacity to make decisions related to state companies located in their territories; and getting them to produce more is another inefficient idea.

Communists are adamant about these changes in structure and resource management because the central budget is at its limit and they need to transfer expenses to the territories where tax collection tends to be higher.  But they don’t realize that, by imposing this model, what they are really doing is transferring the inefficiencies and the communist central government’s poor functioning to the territories, which will end up imploding the system. Those responsible at the local level should confront the central government about this imposition which can only lead to chaos.

Moreso because the current economic conditions and the complex international scenario are not the most amenable to absurd experiments. It is bad enough to depend on imports, as happened with the communist centrally-planned economy; it is worse to try formulas so that each territory is capable of producing a good portion of the food consumed by its population. Small-scale does not work, it is inefficient and also not very profitable.

And we realize the absurdity of Díaz-Canel’s initiative when we see that what matters to him is to have a livestock census to achieve control over the masses; to facilitate the approval of foreign investment and good evaluations of food production projects funded by international donors; to join forces with the youth labor army to farm fields that are currently fallow; and to promote the development of areas within businesses or employers to produce food for their internal consumption. Bureaucratic and administrative work. When it comes to changing things, wouldn’t it be better and more correct if they restored property and land rights and facilitated a structural transformation of the Cuban economy to a free market economy?

For their part, local governments justify to Díaz-Canel their failure to meet targets  by claiming: “too much subjectivity and lack of awareness when applying the food sovereignty and nutrition education law,” and the lack of “training that includes all those implicated in the implementation.” Another good example of the improvisation that goes along with the regime’s application of ideological measures.

No one dares to say, publicly, that it is an absurd idea best tucked away in a drawer. There is not a single opposing position that defends a thesis like the ones proposed here. Everyone knows that the formula is useless, but everyone moves forward, united, toward the disaster. And for that reason, the most curious thing is that they devote themselves to counting “commitments” and there is someone who congratulates themselves when they state that of the 111 general commitments made during the previous meeting 72 have been met to date, 24 have not been met, and 21 could possibly be met. What do you think of that? Counting nonsense and meanwhile, the people experience deprivation, scarcity, and out-of-control price increases.

And clearly, it’s time to review this year’s targets and it’s like turning off the lights and saying goodbye. A wide spectrum of unmet targets weighs on the local managers and exempts Díaz-Canel and his people.

No matter, the thing is that Cubans continue experiencing hunger. They reported that the production targets will not be met for meat and sugar, nor will the targets for international tourists in the territory. They highlighted that they surpassed the targets set for exported services, but not goods; even though they did not delay making the fallow lands available — 14,000 hectares in eight months — producers are still not satisfied with the pace at which this process is carried out. That is, leasers request more land and the communists do not make it available. And this is in Artemisa, which is productive.

The meeting went down another path, subsequently turning its attention to the programs prioritized as demographic dynamics, the Life Task, and the production of local construction materials. They reported that in six months more than 600 jobs were created, in the government and non-government sectors; and they said that they continued to repair health and education institutions, and that 141 new slots were created in pre-schools.

Generally, in the province they worked to implement the strategic lines of action in the national plan for economic and social development 2030. They also highlighted a lack of training among party cadres to confront the complexities that lie ahead. They also talked about integrating all forms of production at the municipal level; promoting greater agility in the procedures that must be followed in order to export goods; and the importance of making better use of science and innovation. About the population’s dissatisfaction, those at the meeting only talked about “the revolutionary dissatisfaction with what we do every day.”

*Translator’s note: The “Ordering Task” [Tarea Ordenamiento] is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.

Carlos Alberto Montaner: My Last Column

Carlos Alberto Montaner is retiring after a lifetime writing for the best newspapers in Latin America, Spain and the US. (Archive)

With great sadness and, at the same time, with the satisfaction of having been accompanied from the beginning by one of the most brilliant adversaries of the Castro regime, ’14ymedio’ publishes the “last column” by Carlos Alberto Montaner.

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 5 May 2023 — I’m retiring without a retirement. I’m retiring from “columnism”. For years, my column was distributed by my closest collaborator, Lucía Guerra. I turned 80 years old. I have Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). The name says it all.

It is a rare brain disease. I was diagnosed at the Gregorio Marañón hospital – one of the best in Spain – after an MRI. It affects three in 100,000 people. It is not contagious and it is not hereditary. There is no cure for it. They don’t know how it begins nor why. It is in the Parkinson’s family, but without tremors. Hence the confusion in the diagnosis. It is characterized by interfering with my ability to carry out a conversation and read anything beyond headlines (Linda, my wife, and our daughter, Gina read the newspapers to me), and so unable to write all of the “good” it allowed me to write for more than a half century – among other things – a syndicated weekly column.  I have written thousands of columns and I owe everything I accomplished afterward to my articles.

This PSP that now affects me is characterized (just like the other, the one of the Cuban communists) by “slowed or slurred” speech” which made me stop commenting on CNN en Español 

This PSP that now affects me is characterized (just like the other, the one of the Cuban communists) by “slowed or slurred speech” which made me stop commenting on CNN en Español (where I shared so much with Andrés Oppenheimer, Camilo Egaña and other notable journalists), despite the efforts of the chain’s president, Cynthia Hudson to retain me.  And on 20 radio stations, beginning with El Sol de la Mañana under the direction of the Dominican couple Espaillat, Montse y Antonio, followed by La Hora de la Verdad on RCN in Bogota a space led by Fernando Lodoño, even the very modest online station Orlando Gutiérrez directs toward Cuba, which has one of the most solid bulwarks in Julio Estornio. Furthermore, for years my comments reached Cuba through Radio Martí. Thank you for tolerating me in your ranks.

I saw Cuban journalist Carlos Castañeda arrive in Puerto Rico toward the end of the 60s with a job which, to me, seemed very difficult: elevate Ponce’s El Día to a level where it can compete with San Juan’s El Mundo. If I’d known Carlos’s plans with enough notice, I’d have stayed to fight that battle, but we already had our plane tickets to Spain. I’d been accepted at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid to complete a doctorate. My family and I embarked on a new European adventure. continue reading

It was the first half of 1970. Castañeda moved El Día to San Juan, changed its name to El Nuevo Día and made a tabloid with large headlines, ad hoc photos and large caricatures. Soon, it was the only one in its field. El Mundo closed.

Since that time before I settled in Madrid, I’ve held onto advice that was very important in my professional life: “In New York, find Joaquín Maurín, Castañeda told me. He is a Spanish exile. Tell him you want to write columns for his agency ALA (American Literary Agency). The best of the language are there, among others, Germán Arciniegas and Pablo Neruda.” I did. Maurín asked me for a sample. I gave him one. When I found it reproduced in 156 newspapers I swore to take care of my columns. And that is what I’ve done since then.

Joaquín Blaya called me in Madrid. He was Chilean, president of Univisión. Later of Telemundo. He asked me for one commentary a week and allowed me to choose the topic. It would be, of course, current events. Maurín’s promise was fulfilled. ALA would share my ideas and these would open doors for me in other areas such as TV, much better paid than the print media [NOTE: “prensa plana”?]. But Blaya proved to be an executive of the highest quality. At one point, they gave me one minute to explain the hypothesis of an anthropologist priest, a professor at a university in New York, on a program about welfare, designed mostly by men, and its impact on low-income women. Without a doubt, a controversial topic. Channel 41 in New York understood the political gains, or acted out of fear, under management orders. The truth is that Al Sharpton, Baptist minister, went to the channel to ask for my head, without hearing my commentary in Spanish, and Blaya defended me with complete firmness.

When The Miami Herald spawned an insert in Spanish they thought it would be a fleating phenomenon. But they later proved that the limits for Castilian were growing. Since the world of newspaper editors is small, everyone spoke of Carlos Castañeda with great respect and of his prowess in Puerto Rico. They called him, and El Nuevo Herald was born in the early 1980s. Appearing there were Roberto Suárez, Gustavo Pupo Mayo, Sam Verdeja, Armando González, Roberto Fabricio and the great Carlos Verdecia, former director of El Nuevo Herald.

At the end of my memoir,  ‘Sin ir más lejos’ [Without Going Further], I cite Julián Marías for his humble phrase. Today, I do so once again, “I did what I could”

I believe it was Pupo Mayo. He offered me the directorship of El Nuevo Herald. I did not accept it. I didn’t want to be uprooted from Spain. They offered me the head of the  Opinion page. I placed two conditions so they wouldn’t accept: I would only be present the first week of the month. The other three I’d be in Spain. (In the end, I started remote work, which became so popular during the pandemic). The second condition was that my adjuncts would be Araceli Perdomo, of whose integrity the editors spoke very highly, and Andrés Hernández Alenda, so as to not commit any errors or injustices. To the point that, later, after my resignation, Araceli and Andrés replaced me in that role. Throughout time, El Nuevo Herald has been my home.

I’ve had the opportunity to write for the best newspapers of Latin America, Spain and the U.S. Recently my weekly column appeared in El Libero, Chile’s best digital newspaper and El Independiente, an excellent digital newspaper produced by Casimiro García-Abadillo, Victoria Priego (two great veterans of Spanish journalism) and – in the international section – Ana Alonso. These two newspapers round out the field in the language in which I’ve had the privilege of fighting for freedom. At the end of my memoir, Sin ir más lejos [Without Going Further], published in Debate by Silvia Matute, also editor of Penguin-Random House, in Spanish, I cite philosopher Julián Marías for his humble phrase. Today, I do so once again, “I did what I could.”


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.

On May 1, A Holiday for Cubans and Red Flags for the Regime’s Foreign Guests

On Monday, foreigners were seen in the streets of Havana with red protest flags and those of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 2 May 2023–It was to be expected that the streets of Havana would be empty on May 1 after the Cuban government canceled the “austere” events that had been planned. What was surprising is that the sun was shining brightly throughout almost the entire Island, when the reason given for the suspension was that Sunday’s weather would continue.

The good weather raised suspicions, such that the “challenge” to upload a photo of the “sunny morning” from “your spot” spread on social media like wildfire. With the hashtag #yonodesfiloel1demayo [I don’t march on May 1], the message was started by Amelia Calzadilla, the English linguist who gained notoriety after posting several videos in which she denounced the struggles experienced by a mother to raise her children in Cuba. Several other Cubans joined her including journalist Diasniurka Salcedo and newscaster Yunior Morales.

At the same time, the regime boasts in the official media about receiving “more than a thousands invited guests from different countries” for this International Workers’ Day. According to Prensa Latina, some of them participated on the 26th and 27th in a “scientific workshop” to discuss topics such as “histories, theory and methods for the study of work and workers” or “experiences and challenges” of social movements in America.

Furthermore, always according to officialist media, they toured different neighborhoods of the capital to see the “transformation works in communities of Havana”. continue reading

On May 2, the plan is for these delegates to participate in the closing of the International Solidarity Encounter with Cuba in the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana, with the objective of “anti-imperialism after 200 years of the Monroe Doctrine”.

While they waited for that moment to arrive, some of those foreigners were seen on Monday in the streets of Havana with red protest flags and those of the Communist Party, in addition to their national banners as was the case of some Italians in Havana Vieja. They seem to be the only ones who have something to celebrate today.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.

House Arrest for Cuban Writer Fernendez Era and ‘CDR Guard Duty’ for His Wife

Jorge Fernández Era along with his wife Laideliz Herrera Laza. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 29, 2023–A few days after writer and journalist Jorge Fernández Era denounced reprisals against his incarcerated son, the Cuban regime imposed 39 days of house arrest on Friday. In a Facebook post on his profile, the intellectual confirmed the measures for him and his wife, which were communicated at the police station in Aguilera, Havana.

Fernández Era explained that his “detention” lasted three hours and that security agents informed him of the charges for the crimes of disobedience, a case which will be filed in the Municipal Tribunal of Arroyo Naranjo. The writer stated that an order prohibiting him from leaving the country remains in effect, to which now they have added house arrest which he is “forced to serve beginning this minute through June 6th.”

He joked about the supposed precautionary measure imposed on his wife, who must go “on CDR guard duty by herself; find chicken, hot dogs, ground beef, detergent, oil and cigarettes at Coco and General Lee; take out the trash and support the work of the delegates in our district.”

In a new post, the writer bemoaned that he could not keep his promise to sit at the monument to José Martí in Havana’s Central Park at noon this Saturday, in peaceful protest against the harassment his son is suffering. House arrest “prevents me from doing so in person, but not in spirit and in thought,” he maintained. continue reading

Furthermore, he denounced that the smear campaign has involved his son’s mother and grandmother, and he called upon Miguel Díaz-Canel’s “common sense, intelligence, and dignity” to cease the pressure against his family and he recriminated against organizations which “are supposed to represent the people,” but are “complicit in infamy through their silence.”

This week, the writer denounced on social media reprisals against his son 22-year-old Eduardo Luis Fernández who is serving a sentence for robbery with violence. According to him, the young Cuban was transferred from Toledo 2 prison to El Chico, without the penitentiary privileges he had earned for good behavior, as a way to pressure him, although authorities told him it was to “protect him from his father’s influence.”

Recently, the writer broke ties with the digital magazine La Joven Cuba,  after its director, Harold Cárdenas Lema, rejected his Sunday column in which he satirized the American pro-Castroist organization Puentes de Amor and State Security. Leaders of the media outlet, with which he collaborated since February 2021, believed the article  was “discrediting the projects and institutions which we prefer to analyze politically, rather than approach them as satire.”

On several occasions, Fernández Era has had problems with State Security, including arrests, interrogations and harassment. The journalists holds State authorities responsible for anything that may happen to his son and believes the government’s behavior is “characteristic of a fascism entrenched in the soul of a nation.”

Furthermore, he requested support from the Government of Spain and its Embassy in Cuba to intercede on his behalf and provide him a visa that would allow him to reach Madrid to present one of the books he edited and a trip which, according to him, he began making arrangements for before the police harassment against him began.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuba: A Return to the Special Period

A “makeshift” bus in Cuba; here a cart pulled by a tractor earlier in the century. (MJ Porter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 27 April 2023 — When the Soviet empire fell, after the toppling of the Berlin Wall by Germans who wanted to live in freedom, the regime in Havana was left a political and ideological orphan. Fidel Castro did not allow his arm to be twisted. Applying measures during the “Special Period in Times of Peace” he aimed to avoid the bitter pill and forced Cubans to go through all kinds of hardships. At the time, transportation was one of the sectors which fared the worst, when the Russian petroleum “supplies” failed to arrive. Like now, more or less. Already at that time, Cuba didn’t have access to global petroleum markets due to its accumulated debt. History repeats itself.

The regime blames the situation on technical problems of one of the suppliers, ships that do not arrive, or the embargo, but all that makes little sense when the main reason is its failure to pay debts that prevents it from accessing global petroleum markets, just as any other country. In fact, there is not currently a fuel shortage in any country in the world, and that is because the price of petroleum is falling. Only in Cuba is there a shortage of fuel (and food, electricity, everything.) Force them to see it.

Some things become daily realities for Cubans. During the Special Period, they ordered a series of measures to be applied to transport passengers when faced with fuel shortages; private trucks, animal-drawn carts or any kind of state vehicle were once again forced to transport people along the main routes, no matter the conditions. The movie, “Guantanamera” offered images of that time, which seemingly will become the reality once again.

The regime, faced with the lack of fuel which prevents the May 1st celebration in Havana, has approved Resolution 435 which forces drivers to pick up passengers, regardless of whether or not there are inspectors at the stop. As of now, passengers will be picked up by any mode of transport, along the busiest routes, with a priority at peak times, determined by the accumulation of people at the stops and the level of mobility. An alarming situation for difficult times. And the people, just like during the Special Period, pay the worst of it all with major sacrifices.

The state press has announced that the measures are being urgently applied in the capital and in Las Tunas, very densely populated areas, and that, little by little, they will be expanded throughout the rest of the country.

It’s easy to remember how the communists interfered in their transportation demands during the “Special Period”. Stationed in certain areas of the country, especially the busiest ones, agents of the party and state security who participated in the operation would detain any mode of transport of the few that passed on the roads and would begin an exhaustive check to know from where they came, what they were transporting, where they were going, etc. The point was to investigate and control. continue reading

Well, the communists have already provided a similar system in 2023 and according to the state press, in the early morning, the checks began, and anything could come of them. There is much talk about the need for solidarity, and the participation of all those who can, in one way or another, contribute to alleviate the situation.

But in reality, according to the media, the act of inspection and control of Resolution 435 emerged with extraordinary speed. They insist it is based on “objective planning, with the resources we have in hand, so that no destination is vulnerable and we will meet every afternoon, once again, to assess the implementation of each entity at this crucial moment of fuel scarcity.”

The regime’s behavior aims, just as during the Special Period, for private trucks to travel on the routes of highest demand and that drivers of motorbike-taxis to collaborate on the urban circuit. There are doubts about whether tourists will need to take any citizen in their cars.

These control actions are accompanied by measures to make oil more available to those who contribute to the travel network. There are doubts about whether a truck that arrives in Havana with an empty tank at a time the gas stations are not in service will need to interrupt its activity, for all its collaborating.

Currently, business units served by the Ómnibus Nacionales de Last Tunas continue their planned trips to Havana, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas and Holguín and on the evening of Wednesday, April 19, there was an extra route toward the country’s capital, but the lack of fuel will imminently affect these services.

To the lack of gasoline and fuel, which is what affects the transportation sector, one must add the lack of spare parts, tires, and batteries, supplies that are in short supply and necessary for the rehabilitation of the vehicle fleet and its updating. The transport crisis, due to its cross-cutting nature, will affect to a greater extent all sectors of the economy and, above all, the living conditions of the population. None of this is good for the GDP of 2023, it will have to be taken into account for the calculation.

Under the exceptional circumstances, many Cubans ask if the official vehicles in which Díaz-Canel, Marrero, or Gil travel will be detained and inspected for them to transport other people to their destinations. I doubt it will be that way. In the film “Guantanamera” they managed to transport a dead man in different vehicles through provinces of the country. The communists have ideas of a similar nature.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuba: An Open Letter to President Miguel Diaz-Canel

The writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner at a conference in 2018. (Sergio Santillán Díaz/YouTube/Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 29 April 2023 — I’ve aged in opposition to your regime. Before you were born, I was a premature anti-communist, totally intuitive, at 16 years of age. I was 15 years old when the revolution triumphed. Today, I am 80. You have no right to this continuity.  And I was anti-Batista, also, naturally. The “anti-Batista” was as a result of my parents. Manola and Ernesto were also. Arriving in exile on the afternoon of 9 September 1961, the change I observed in my father surprised me: it was a pro-Batista shift I attributed, without any basis, to his new wife: Lourdes Anaya-Murillo, the daughter of prominent Batista supporters.

Manola, continued to be anti-Batista. I was happy my mother continued feeling democracy in the same way I had learned: absolute tolerance to alien thought. I tell you this story so that you won’t believe the disinformation the regime disseminates in its publications about its adversaries. I have nothing to do with the CIA, nor terrorism, nor Batista, and there is not a shred of truth to the buzz “that Montaner helped train Yoani Sánchez on matters related to the internet” during one of her visits to Europe. Unlike Yoani, director of the magnificent and much-needed digital outlet 14ymedio, I have no interest in understanding how the internet functions. My knowledge of these matters is very limited. Those are excuses State Security makes to discredit those who propose initiatives on the margins of communism, such as the one in this letter.

Mr. Díaz-Canel, Marxism, as the substance of the communist system, has always failed, just as any leader who attempted it

Mr. Díaz-Canel, Marxism, as the substance of the communist system, has always failed, just as any leader who attempted it. Why? It has been implemented among the Germans and you’ve seen the results. It was tried among the Koreans and you’ve seen the consequences: on the same peninsula there is one portion, the north, which doesn’t even have electricity at night. And in the south, in turn, is the developed Korea which exports vehicles, televisions, and computers, and the population enjoys a standard of living similar to that of the first world.

What has not been achieved is equal results. Not everyone is powerful and rich in the most prosperous countries on the planet. There are, of course, many poor people in the world’s richest societies. But, what type of poor people find themselves immersed in those pockets of wealth? In the U.S. the poverty level for a family of four is an income less than $27,750, in addition to access to schools, hospitals, food stamps and justice. The welfare state is even more impressive in Nordic countries of Europe. Denmark will pay my granddaughter, Claudia, for her second Master’s degree. When she finishes she will begin life debt free. continue reading

This is all paid for by income generated from the salaries of workers and employer benefits. Confiscating large and medium enterprises was a grave error committed between June and December 1960 in Cuba. Charging taxes would have been sufficient. And confiscating small enterprises was a stupidity that occurred in 1968, when tens of thousands of businesses were taken by the State, during the “Revolutionary offensive,” some of them comprising only one person, such as taxis and certain barber shops and hair salons; much to its chagrin, Cuban society became the most communist on the planet.

Confiscating large and medium enterprises was a grave error committed between June and December 1960 in Cuba

I haven’t come this far to tell you what you already know. It is evident Marx was mistaken. That communism was based on the appropriation of the productive apparatus was a disaster. That our island is a tremendous catastrophe, with its cities and roads destroyed, as if it had suffered a bombardment from an unforgiving power. What you deserve to hear is “how to transform setbacks into gains” as I believe you like to say.

Recently, Rosa María Payá came to visit me in Madrid. She came to bring me a book. She is the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, who State Security murdered in 2012, along with Harold Cepero. This is what David E. Hoffman, who won the Pulitzer prize for historical research, has exposed through his research (Give Me Liberty, Simon & Schuster).

Today, Rosa María leads Cuba Decide and doesn’t flinch in her resolve to continue her father’s mission, when he headed the Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación [Christian Liberation Movement] and launched the Varela Project on the island. His objective was to hold a plebiscite through which Cubans could freely decide their destiny at the polls.   An objective his daughter continues to pursue to end, once and for all, the curse that is the continuity you sadly preside over.

My time has already passed. The time for Castroism has been exhausted. In reality, it was born to fail from the beginning. This moment is for youth like Rosa María Payá, within and outside the island, who  desperately search for what she summarizes as “defense of liberty, democracy and human rights.” Learn from them. You still can.

Translated by Silvia Suárez


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.

Jorge Fernandez Era Breaks with ‘La Joven Cuba’ After it Rejected an Article Described as ‘Satire’

Jorge Fernández Era stopped collaborating with La Joven Cuba on Sunday. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 24, 2023–Cuban writer and journalist Jorge Fernández Era abandoned his collaboration with La Joven Cuba, a digital magazine where he had been publishing since February 2021, after its director, Harold Cárdenas Lema, rejected his Sunday column because he did not adjust to the media outlet’s editorial line.

The article quipped that Puentes de Amor [Bridges of love], an American pro-Castroite organization, and Cuban State Security, which those responsible for the publication considered the use of “discrediting projects and institutions for which we prefer to conduct political analyses, rather than approach them as satire.”

Fernández Era refused to modify one paragraph in the column, as Cárdenas Lema proposed, and claimed satire is a legitimate method before anouncing his departure from the media outlet. “The solution, according to Harold, is to rewrite the article, with the goal of eliminating references to Villa Marista [a prison] and Puentes de Amor. I expressed that I do not accept changing a single comma in Contrato.

“Since the decision to not publish the entire text stands, I resigned as of yesterday as a collaborator at La Joven Cuba,” he announced yesterday in a Facebook post.

The writer appreciates, despite everything, the support he received from Cárdenas Lema and his patience since he began collaborating with the media outlet. “To date, I must say, I defend my writings tooth and nail, even though my thinking, humor and bite have never conceded to the all-encompassing powers at whom they are aimed,” he adds. continue reading

Fernández Era accompanied his announcement with the original column that he was unable to publish in the magazine and shared the reasons for his allusions. The writer points out that he considers Puentes de Amor a “laudable and necessary” organization which recently commited a “despicable” act.

What the journalist reproaches are the photographs of Carlos Lazo and other members of Puentes de Amor, for official press progapanda, with Ernudis Echeverría — a young emigré whom the organization helped return to Cuba after he suffered an accident that left him severely injured. “A human gesture had he not taken advantage of the opportunity for self-promotion and to take the most horrendous photos I’ve ever seen, one of them a selfie inside the plane as if he were in front of the Bridge of Sighs.”

The other institution is State Security of which he says, “it is not necessary to discredit, it does it itself.” The journalist was arrested on April 6th and interrogated for several hours at the police station in Aguilera after publishing a column in which he ridiculed the nomination of octagenarian candidates to Cuba’s parliament, in addition to an interview he gave to producer Ian Padrón.

The agents intercepted Fernández Era while he was walking with his wife and a friend and, after reviewing his documentation, took him to the police station where they accused him of “refusing assistance and disobedience” and they demanded he pay the 3,000 peso fine for not attending previous citations to appear, but the writer refused due to irregularities in the charging document, which were also “in violation of the Criminal Procedures Law, and also the National Symbols and Military Secrets laws.”

These events are considered by the director of La Joven Cuba as “a disagreement of a personal nature” and are a departure from, in Fernández Era’s opinion, the declaration the media outlet made when, after his arrest, they urged “Cuban authorities to respect freedom of expression and political guarantees of all citizens,” and demanded his immediate release. The journalist states that with the column he intended to provide his version in a humorous way, since Cárdenas Lema had offered him the space to explain himself. However, he refused to publish the article as it was.

“Following my arbitrary detention on Thursday April 6, a chain of events has occurred that confirm a consistent line of action by the repressive organs. La Joven Cuba, with its silence, is also covering up. Believe me, I have not told — I will do so in due time — all  the baseness with which the “heroic” organs of Minint [the Ministry of the Interior] have come down on me,” warned the author.

The writer’s exit follows that of members of La Joven Cuba’s editorial board: web editor José Manuel González Rubines and coordinator Alina Bárbara López Hernández. The latter was “cowardly harassed by three agents,” according to claims made by Fernández Era, of State Security when she clamored for his release in a park in Matanzas.

It was not the first time López Hernández had problems with State Security, which had already summoned her in October for an interrogation to which the professor legally refused to attend. The Prosecutor accepted her claim and annuled the summons at the time. The first time Fernández Era was called to an interrogation was in January of this year for the content of his publications; authorities did not hesitate to warn him not to attempt to file a complaint like his colleague because “Matanzas is not Havana.”

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuban Regime Retaliates Against the Incarcerated Son of Writer Jorge Fernandez Era

Jorge Fernández Era with his son Eduardo Luis. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 25 April 2023–Just two days after announcing his departure from La Joven Cuba magazine, the director of which demanded he modify an opinion column where he quipped about State Security, writer and journalist Jorge Fernández Era accused the regime of retaliating against his son. Twenty-two-year-old Eduardo Luis Fernández, is serving a sentence for robbery with violence perpetrated in March 2021 and enjoyed some prison benefits for his good behavior, until authorities began using his situation to pressure his father.

In an extensive Facebook post on Tuesday, Fernández Era wrote about how his son ended up sentenced to ten years in prison for a robbery in which his partner wielded a sharp weapon. For those events he ended up in the Western Prison for Minors in Guatao, where he was held until 2022 when he turned 21. Already, while he was under investigation, the journalist wrote, he witnessed strange attempts to separate them, including separating him from the visitation group.

In prison, Eduardo Luis — whom he affectionately calls Eduardito — began to work as a barber for the prisoners and guards, a trade he learned thanks to a course arranged by his father. When he turned 21, he had a brief time in the 1580 penitentiary in San Miguel del Padrón and was later transferred to the Toledo 2 internment camp, near the Universidad Tecnológica de La Habana José Antonio Echeverría (Cujae), where he is currently held.

His behavior earned him four passes to date, most recently last weekend, when he told his father what happened on April 12th and gave the author consent to denounce it.

“In March, an official who ’got along well with my son’ proposed that he move to the El Chico prison — which is nearby and higher security — where he’d be ’more relaxed’. My son responded that it wouldn’t suit him, there are few prisoners there and he’d have less work. Days later one of his friends approached him and suggested they transfer together to that jail,” he explained.

A few days later, the head of Toledo 2 called a close relative to let him know that they had decided to transfer Eduardo to El Chico to “protect him from his father’s influence”, a change which would include six months without passes or visitations. However, said the official, they were available to intercede on behalf of the young man. “We will make a request to the Ministry of the Interior that his transfer be postponed to allow for his father to account for the offensive social media posts against the government and the Revolution,” he said. continue reading

Although the relative, whose identity the writer does not want to reveal, alleges that those messages were not related to the young man, the female official urged the him to be on alert, while insisting that she would do “the impossible” to keep Eduardo Luis at Toledo 2 until he was either out on parole or served his sentence.

The artist emphatically rejects making his son pay for crimes he did not commit, as well as using ministry officials for “such low methods of human degradation” with the sole aim of silencing him. “What occurred with Eduardito violates the most fundamental human rights and the Constitution of the Republic,” he reproached.

Fernández Era took the opportunity to request that the Government of Spain and its embassy in Havana intercede and approve a visa for him to present in Madrid several books he edited, a visa he had requested before his problems with State Security, which now prevents him from leaving the country, began. “We will see if they dare, once again, to forcibly exile a Cuban by birthright, or to prevent me from returning to my country,” he added.

He also asks the international community, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, churches of different faiths, and democratic governments worldwide, with a special request to the international left, to intercede on behalf of his son. “I demand, from the only pages I am allowed, my son’s immediate release and to allow him to abandon the country. Here, his physical and psychological wellbeing are at risk,” he states.

The journalist, who holds the highest authorities of the State responsible for anything that might happen to his son, cited the words of Fidel Castro himself to accuse the regime of implementing “a policy that has nothing to do with the principles of the revolution.” Furthermore, he reproaches them for practicing a socialism that “gets on with attrocities like this, typical of entrenched fascism, in the soul of the nation.”

Fernández Era announced that if his requests are not addressed, on Saturday between 12 pm and 1 pm he will position himself at the monument to José Martí in Havana’s Central Park in peaceful protest against the harassment endured by so many like his son. “I will repeat it week after week, at the same time. I have nothing left to lose,” claimed the writer, who ended the post with a phrase in all caps, “DO NOT TOUCH MY SON!”

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuba’s Silent Majority

Regime supporters during an act of repudiation in front of Yunior García Aguilera’s home, November 14, 2021. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 18 April 2023 — I have a friend who says he’s not leftist, nor rightist, but the opposite. After his apparently absurd joke, it’s evident he is fed up with the polarization that is shaking Cuba and the planet.

The truth is that those on the right tend to move toward ever more conservative poslitions, exploiting ultranationalist sentiment. The left, for its part, shamelessly defends the current dictatorships, becoming complicit in their crimes. Democracy is neither guaranteed, nor an irreversible conquest.

The world is upside down. Putin’s war embodies the most voracious imperialism, while receiving the support of those who always wave “anti-imperialist” flags. These hemiplegic morals justify Russia’s talk of NATO’s expansion, but forget that six decades ago the USSR placed atomic missiles 90 miles from the United States, converting Cuba into a soviet aircraft carrier. The bearded one dreamt of the glory of the holocaust and recommended to Nikita that he launch the first bomb. Fortunately, Kruschev Olympically ignored the cigar smoker, preferring to negotiate with Kennedy.

China, the power led by an unflappable Winnie the Pooh, is now a champion of modern capitalism and also the nation with the most environmental pollution. All this, while technically being a “socialist” country. To heck with all the proletariat and value added rhetoric. To heck also with all the complaints of human rights violations in the giant Asian country. Consumers need to buy cheap, it doesn’t matter that China fills the world with trifles . Meanwhile, Thucydides’s trap threatens to confront, sooner or later, both world powers, and humanity will buy tickets to view, online, the spectacle that could extinguish us.

On the other hand, the more radical leaders on the right have become populists, in the style of Mao, Perón or Castro. They exploit the ire of non-conformists, speak of refounding and making their nations greater, of rescuing an epic past, glorious and superior. They devote themselves to creating armies of followers who lynch and exterminate anyone with a trace of dissent. And hordes of wrathful people believe that the higher they build a wall, the greater their freedom will be. continue reading

I come from a sick country. In the “revolutionary” Cuba, the New Man was forged by the fire of executions, acts of repudiation, purges, mass exodus and permanent crisis. But none of that left a legacy of a more just and inclusive place, it would have been impossible. Today we are the country with the most political prisoners in the region. A handful of bureaucrats and generals has taken the Island hostage and the ransom they demand is death. The majority has shown, on social media, in the streets, and even at the polls that they do not want to continue living under that regime, but citizens lack a single democratic tool to dethrone them.

Those in power, knowing that they are a minority, bet on confrontation, one against the other. They bet on dividing us, on us wearing ourselves out due to our own differences. They patiently wait for us to practice political cannibalism until there is no one left with a good eye.

In the dozens of interrogations I suffered, they rarely asked me questions. They knew everything about me, they had thousands of ways to find out — placing microphones in my toothbrushes, cameras in the toilet. They could threaten and blackmail those close to me until they felt squeezed. Then, why interrogate me?

In all those encounters they invested hours in talking bad about others, in damaging the image of activists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara or Tania Bruguera. They aimed to influence my subconscious so I would try to distance myself from them, so I would disagree with their positions and end up making them my enemies.

Those in power enjoy watching social media be the firing squad. And in the crossfire, there is a silent majority that does not know which side to join, disgusted from so much rot. That majority doesn’t find an alternative that seems reasonable and coherent, when faced with the downpour of insults and slogans. But that silent majority, if they decide to no longer be on the margins and rise up, could be a great force.

When this center awakens from its lethargy and takes on a position without fearing the radicals, fundamentalism, it will be folding in on itself to that point on a circle where both extremes meet. And it will be clear that, to those in power, ideology does not matter one bit, they use it for their convenience. Those in power, in reality, do not believe in left or right, but rather, all the opposite.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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

Cuban Catharsis in a ‘Jacuzzi’

In exile, there is no doubt, creative freedom exists. Last Tuesday, Yunior proved it by stirring up the Cuban catharsis in a jacuzzi. (Gabriel Guerra)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 15 April 2023 — We went to see Jacuzzi, a play which premiered in Cuba. Our group was not at all majestic. It was four people: Linda (my wife), Gina (our daughter, also a journalist) and Rogelio Quintana, an illustrator and painter, who escaped from Cuba and has lived in Spain for more than 40 years. The fourth, of course, was me.  It was a Tuesday night.  The Teatro Lara was bursting at the seams. The actors, Yunior García Aguilera, who wrote the work and plays himself, Claudia Álvarez, who plays Susi, and Yadier Fernández, who plays Pepe. All three of them were magnificent. They are prodigiously “naturals”. So much so that they were met with an ovation and had to return to the stage three times.

Yunior is an idealist who wants to be a friend to revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, because he cannot accept the premise that any child ‘per se’ is opposed to the values of friendship and decency.  

It wasn’t a jacuzzi at all – just a simple bathtub or, as Cubans say, a “bañadera”, full of water and soap suds. Susi has worked abroad and saved enough money, which allowed her to buy a house in Cuba, “jacuzzi” included. (There is no doubt that Raúl has been better than Fidel in this regard, or at least less stupid.) Susi has returned triumphant from her blessed jobs. She  complains about the Revolution in concrete terms: how expensive “everything” is, and especially, that it is impossible to work to improve your quality of life, “except for daddy’s children”, who have everything going for them.

Pepe is the revolutionary, the child and grandchild of those who have defended the “process”, and accuses all the “gusanos” [‘worms’] of acting against them, but admits that the situation is exasperating as it inevitably deteriorates. Yunior is an idealist who wants to be a friend to revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, because he cannot accept the premise that any child ‘per se’ is opposed to the values of friendship and decency. He wants to be a free person and choose his friends beyond the narrowness imposed by the Revolution. However, it is Pepe who requests and constantly says, “let’s not talk about politics anymore.” It is a declaration imposed by the Revolution and that he allows without question.

There are two high points in Jacuzzi. One when Yunior tells Pepe that, despite the hogwash he must listen to when he defends the Revolution and the gratitude people are supposed to feel when they speak of the apparent “achievements”, Pepe is still his “best” friend. The chatter Pepe has learned by heart doesn’t matter. There is always and will always be a place in Yunior’s heart to admire his friend. continue reading

The second high point is when 40-year-old Yunior creates Archipiélago in Havana, along with Diana Prieto, his wife – a monologue apparently written outside of Cuba – and develops a strategy to get Cubans to demonstrate as if Cuba were a free country. It is not. The regime went to their modest home and organized an “act of repudiation”, in which their neighbors did not want to participate because to their neighbors they seemed like a couple of decent, hard-working, young people. And it is not to the point that he ended up exiled in Spain, betrayed by the very people who seemed to help him, accused of being a “CIA agent”, and plotting something unspeakable with Felipe González.

Welcome to the exclusive club of the “CIA agents”.  I hope that after so much trash talk  from the Castrist regime it has completely lost its effectiveness.

Welcome to the exclusive club of the “CIA agents”.  I hope that after so much trash talk  from the Castrist regime it has completely lost its effectiveness. Cuba is the only country in the world that gave the order in writing, in the 70s, before the Archipiélago generation had even been born, of breaking relationships with the Revolution’s “disaffected”. And the only society that dared to comply. Husbands and wives who never again heard from their spouses and partners. Children who never heard from their parents and vice versa. Brothers and friends who pretended not to see their relatives so they wouldn’t be associated with them.

At the height of machismo, the secret service spied between the legs of women of the higher ups to surprise them during their comings and goings and demand that they spy on their husbands or divorce them. The slogan was clear, “Never had a revolutionary leader been cheated on.”

I hope that Yunior García Aguilera realizes that the only favor State Security did for him was to expel him from the jail and the Island of Cuba. A dilemma presented itself to the regime: kill or exile Yunior García. It opted for the latter, but not before or simultaneously creating an atmosphere of suspicion. In exile, there is no doubt, creative freedom exists. Last Tuesday, Yunior proved it by stirring up the Cuban catharsis in a jacuzzi.

Translated by Silvia Suárez


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.