Cuban Leinier Dominguez Wins in Dortmund and Enters the Top Ten of the World Rankings

Leinier Domínguez’s return to classical chess, after two years of inactivity, could not have gone better. (@STLChessClub)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 22, 2019 – Cuban Grand Master Leinier Domínguez was crowned champion Sunday at the Sparkassen Chess-Meeting of Dortmund, in Germany. His performance in this European event led him to rise the number ten position in the world rankings.

He greeted his followers this morning on his Facebook account and said he was “very happy to have won such a strong and prestigious event in the world of chess”

“Without a doubt [it’s] one of the best results of my career,” he added. Dominguez pointed out that the victory was not his alone and thanked his family and his wife for being the pillars of his life. “Now I will take a break and soon I will be competing again in St Louis Rapid/Blitz from August 8 to 15,” the chess player announced. continue reading

After dividing the center with the black pieces against the Polish Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the “Idol of Güines”, who now plays for the United States, finished the tournament with 4.5 out of 7 possible points. At the end of the competition he accumulated two wins, five draws and not a single defeat, as reported by ChessBase.

In this 47th edition of the event in Dortmund, eight chess players played in a round robin competition, with a time limit of 140 minutes for the first forty moves.

The Cuban was ranked second among the players at the tournamanent, surpassed only by the Russian Nepomniachtchi, who was defending his title but in the end took fifth place, with four points.

As a result of his victory this Sunday, Dominguez added three points to his ELO chess ranking that placed him in the top ten of the live chess ratings.

Other players who participated in the chess tournament were the Azerian Teimour Radjabov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek from Poland and the Hungarian Richard Rapport.

Since returning to chess, Dominguez has participated in three classic game tournaments, where he has won nine times, with 17 draws and only one defeat in 27 games, ten of those against chess players exceeding 2,700 ELO ranking points.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Man of the White Suit / Fernando Damaso

Batista lunching with his wife in the Presidential Palace, 8 months before fleeing Cuba. (Wikicommons)

Fernando Dámaso, 28 February 2019 — As a result of the Constituent Assembly and the elaboration and implementation of a new Constitution of the Republic, in an electoral process characterized by legality and tranquility, Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar became the sixth president, a man who had left the army with the rank of colonel (in February 1942, the new Organic Law of the Army grants him the rank of general retroactively), and fused into this same person the two antagonistic currents during the seven prior years, with losses for both sides and for the Republic: the military and the civilian.

Although he was a military caudillo, and had acted as such in previous years, exerting his influence in the rise and fall of several presidents, his personality also projected on the political plane. His rise to the presidency gave continuity to the Generals-Presidents of the Republic. Perhaps, because of this, he was able to easily defeat the military coup of the Chief of Police, General Jose Eleuterio Pedraza, at the beginning of his term. He exercised power from October 10, 1940 until October 10, 1944. continue reading

The main objective of his government, formed by the so-called Socialist Democratic Coalition, was to consolidate the state of peaceful coexistence that had been achieved during the Constitutional Convention, where parties, organizations and political and social groups of different stripes had managed to debate their proposals with civility and reached important results for the good of the Republic. In spite of this, from the beginning of his mandate, he had to face the opposition of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Authentic), his main opponents and losers of the elections.

Unlike prior presidential terms, which began in 1902, he set in motion the semi-parliamentary regime established by the 1940 Constitution, appointing as its Prime Minister Dr. Carlos Saladrigas, a relevant personality, who managed to establish and maintain correct relations between the Executive and the Legislative branches.

During his exercise of the presidency,  Batista created the National Development Commission, with the objective of coordinating and promoting the development of the country, set a gold standard for the issuance of monetary certificates and achieved important advances in labor policy, establishing the Sugar Workers Retirement plan.

In addition, he  approved the creation of the National Council of Education and Culture, which achieved good results in the improvement and development of these two important activities, turned over the Calixto García General Hospital and the Limones Central (a sugar mill) to the University of Havana, for their use as learning centers, built the National Archive building, as well as that of the Economic Society of Friends of the Country and established the Order “José María Heredia”, to reward Cuban and foreign personalities in the world of science, letters and the arts.

Upon entering Cuba into the Second World War, he called for national unity, the ABC Party, an ally until that point of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Authentic), responded favorably and came to collaborate with the government. In the context of the war, important measures were taken, with the aim of avoiding the scarcity of supplies and making the lives of citizens too expensive.

Although the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Authentic) continued in the opposition, it collaborated from the Congress with every act of national defense and with the belligerent attitude that Cuba had assumed. In response to this, the government appointed Engineer Carlos Hevia, an important figure of this party, as President of the ORPA, the Office of Regulating Prices and Supplies.

The President, during the years of his mandate, was able to summon and surround himself with people prepared to successfully carry out his government projects, allowing the country to live a stage of social tranquility and progress, experience that, unfortunately, has been forgotten by the others who suceeded him.

On June 1, 1944, general elections were held, including the candidacies of the Socialist Democratic Coalition, composed of Carlos Saladrigas-Ramón Zaydín, and the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Authentic) by Ramón Grau San Martín-Raúl de Cárdenas.

In an orderly process, honest and with all the guarantees, Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín obtained the victory, as the Republican Party of Dr. Guillermo Alonso Pujol joined his ranks, with the goal of, at the last minute, softening the excessive radicalism of some authentic leaders, among them, mainly, Dr. Eduardo R. Chibás, that affected the intention of voters. The transfer of powers was carried out in the most perfect democratic order.

Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar was the first President elected in democratic general elections, in accordance with the new Constitution of the Republic, after the fall of the government of General Gerardo Machado. His presidential term was characterized by the achievement of peaceful coexistence among Cubans, and the realization of important works, both material and social, which helped the country’s development after the impasse of seven years of political and economic instability. By restoring the democratic order, he created the base for its continuity.

The facts show that Batista was not the illiterate politician that they tried to make us believe, but someone intelligent who made good government during this presidential period. No monument or bust was erected that would honor him, although during his presidential termt the 4th of September flag fluttered next to the Cuban flag in the military camps and institutions.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Open Letter from a Doctor to a Dictator

Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo addressed the letter to Raúl Castro because she attributes to him the decisions of what happens in Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Santiago de Cuba | 4 March 2019

To: General Raúl Castro Ruz, Dictador of Cuba

General dictator Raúl Castro Ruz,

The objective of this open letter is to expose, to your regime and to the world, the fundamental reasons why I have decided to renounce my work as a doctor in the service of an inhuman system that violates the most elementary rights of the citizen, that beats children, the elderly and pregnant women, and that uses medicine for political purposes, and doctors and nurses as slave labor.

My decision has been maturing for some time now. There are too many injustices, excessive lies and justifications. Always blaming others for what is the total responsibility of a cruel system that only cares for the human being, hypocritically, to the extent that is necessary for the person to submit itself docilely to the dictates and whims of the dictator of the day. continue reading

Why do I write to you and not to the Minister of Public Health or Miguel Diaz-Canel? For one simple reason: one confronts the master, one speaks with the principal party responsible for the suffering of an entire nation.

Like millions of young Cubans I was indoctrinated and deceived, I am the daughter and granddaughter of people who were also indoctrinated and used by the tyranny that your brother Fidel Castro initiated.

I militated, unfortunately, in the ranks of the Union of Young Communists, UJC. I was pressured by your political police to, as a doctor, monitor and influence peaceful opponents who only seek respect for human rights. Your agents demanded that I should collaborate with them and give them information about the health of and everything I knew about the UNPACU leader, José Daniel Ferrer García.

Drawing me closer to the UNPACU and its leader was the worst mistake they made. While it is true that I had my doubts, disagreements and concerns, it is also true that, like many other professionals, I only thought about my career as a doctor and helping my humble and sacrificed family. In order to do so, I hoped to go abroad for a “mission.” That is, travel as a political instrument and slave labor. But with UNPACU, I learned about dignity, human rights, democracy, justice, and the true and perverse essence of the regime that you lead.

For breaking with the regime, for joining UNPACU and sharing my life with their leader, a very humane and courageous man who truly loves our country, the Directorate of Public Health in the Municipality of Santiago de Cuba has taken unfair measures and sanctions against me. My family has been pressured by your political police so that they, in turn, put pressure on me so I will return to the “fold.”

However, the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred on February 11 when dozens of agents of the Ministry of the Interior, mostly assault forces, broke into 8 homes of UNPACU members with such violence that, had I not lived it, I would not have believed it.

They beat many. They beat my grandmother, a prostrate old woman, and they beat me, five months pregnant. They stole and broke everything. Even the food and medicines, with which we cure sick people, were stolen by their agents.

They also stripped me of my means of work. All these serious actions and others like it in the following days, were in revenge because we campaigned peacefully and legally for the No vote to your Stalinist Constitution in the false referendum on February 24.

For 15 days your repressive forces completely surrounded our home and did not let me go to work. The few times I was able to go out to do personal tasks, I was the victim of violence and humiliation by your aggressive agents.

The siege continues today, and every night they pelt our home. In summary, I’ve lived and seen so much cruelty and nonsense…! I thought that this could only happen in regimes like those of Adolfo Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

I  will abandon continuing to work for the Ministry of Public Health of your tyrannical regime, they will not use me anymore, in the least, but I will never stop exercising my noble profession.

I will continue attending to the activists that are beaten, persecuted and marginalized; I will continue to care for every sick person who requests my services. I will continue to denounce the injustices of your regime against doctors and patients. I will continue to serve my people and fight for their freedom.

I am completely cured of the syndrome that has done the most damage to our people: the “helplessness syndrome” and I will be helping other doctors and health workers to free themselves from such a harmful pathology.

Your dictatorship will fall and we doctors will be able to exercise our sacred profession with dignity and freedom. We will have adequate working conditions and decent wages. Nobody will use us as political instruments. The people will have excellent health and will not have to pay for it with submission and misery.

We Cubans will live in freedom and prosperity. You can be sure of it.

Dr. Nelva Ismarays Ortega Tamayo, Specialist in Integral General Medicine, Professional Registry No.18667, Santiago de Cuba. March 4, 2019

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Result of the Referendum: Reversal or Victory?

With our heads held high, let us recognize that we did not achieve what we set out to do, that the Yes vote won widely. (14y medio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, José Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 1 March 2019 – Despite the doubts generated by the data offered by the National Electoral Commission, which include significant changes in the voting rolls and irregularities detected and disseminated by the independent press, it is possible to recognize that the Yes vote exceeded 6 million and would mean between 67% and 70% of the eligible voters validated the new Constitution.

So without a doubt the Yes vote not only did win, but it did by a wide margin. Why did this happen?

Apart from the obvious reasons, such as the impossibility for those of us who advocated for the No vote to bring our reasons to the population while the regime had all the means to do so with its discourse — manipulations and half-truths included — I consider that there are two causes that contributed to a great extent to the result. continue reading

First, that the voters did not see the referendum like we did. For many of them this was not the opportunity to say to the regime Yes, or No. For the voters of the island, what happened was that they were able to say Yes to a Constitution that they perceived as more liberal and that extended the range of their rights. It must be recognized that the new Constitution gives a little more breathing space to those who intend to open, little by little, greater spaces of freedom in Cuba, but it does not matter so much if, in short, it is like that or not, but how our neighbors perceived it .

Secondly, the threat of intervention in Venezuela only served for many Cubans to reactivate the anti-imperialist sentiments that for so long have been part of their imaginanation. In this way it has been possible to bring together a considerable number of voters, probably those over 30 years of age, around a regime that understood that it should reinvent this type of discourse.  Added to this is the damage that was already caused a month earlier by the inopportune (or safe move) threat to intensify the embargo.

For many Cubans, the fall of Venezuela does not necessarily mean the fall of the government of Havana, but only a worsening of their day to day lives. For that reason, not a few of that immense majority of pessimists who maintain that “this regime will not fall” interpreted that it was necessary to show support for the regime, which in turn shored up the Venezuelan teat from which we suck.

From all this we can draw two conclusions.

The first is that the penetration of the internet is not as broad as we thought, or, more clearly, that the cost and the few minutes of connectivity do not allow the majority to use the internet to inform themselves and model their political position, but is only as a means of survival, whether to ask for remittances, manage their departure from the island, or look for a partner abroad that makes their existence in Cuba bearable.

The second is that the opposition discourse still does not reach the Cuban on the island. As I said in The Martian (referring to Jose Marti) Knot of the Opposition and the Exiled, Cubans on the Island are a kind of extraterrestrials species apart from the rest. We live in a society with an interpretation of existence that is alien, and incomprehensible, for other mortals except for the North Koreans.

This vision also works the other way around. The Cubans of the Island, locked in the Castro bubble, also do not understand the discourse from the outside. That is why, when one of us leaves that bubble, be it by emigrating or becoming an opponent, he breaks with it and tries to forget it completely, as is normally the case with anyone who escapes from such enclosures. He also loses the possibility to understand, or being understood by, those who have been left behind.

This explains for us that we have an opposition that speaks a language understandable to an American, Spaniard, Mexican or Peruvian; but that the islander only interprets because he does not understand the content of the message.

We must overcome mental laziness, political self-importance (of which there is much) and even the fear of revisiting our beliefs and feelings of when we lived inside the bubble, something we avoid for fear of being absorbed back into the bubble.

We must develop a discourse of our own, based on our exceptional circumstances, fully understandable to those neighbors we now call bootlickers, lazy bums and other such “niceties.”

We must have concrete proposals, that are not up in the air waiting for Mr. Market and Uncle Sam to get here so that happiness and abundance will ipso facto make their presence.

If we do not do all this we will remain as isolated as we have been until now from those neighbors whose interests at some point we intend to represent, and as the resounding Yes vote to the Constitution shows that we are, because although we accept that the Yes vote was not for the government, it was an outright demonstration of the irrelevance of our discourse and proposals (if there are any) for the absolute majority of the islanders.

What can we do after what has happened?

First of all, do not allow ourselves to be overcome by discouragement, much less by hysteria, which leads to nothing positive.

With our heads held high, let us recognize that we did not achieve what we set out to do, that the Yes vote won easily. Because denying it to a population that knows very well that it voted affirmatively will only serve, at the very least, to distance ourselves from them. Let us understand that the triumph of the Yes vote is not in the long term a triumph of the regime, but that the citizens preferred to say Yes to the changes that it can obtain without peril, given the adverse circumstances.

The referendum gave an opportunity to verify the existence of a broad sector of the population, in general the most educated and cosmopolitan, who want more than what the regime offered; that is to say, there is a will for movement and to see changes, which, in the long run, is fatal for Diaz-Canel’s immobilism, which will not be able to follow in step without breaking at some point with the continuity that it claims to respect.

What is needed is therefore to feed this dynamic.

We must turn to the denunciation of the characteristics of the current Electoral Law and ask that all Cubans be able to vote, regardless of where they live. We must also demand that the new Law be discussed and submitted to a referendum. The main argument must be based on the words of Raúl Castro, who affirmed that in Cuba no important decision should be made without consultations with the people.

If someone expected Castroism to fall this February 25, we had already previously warned that no such a thing would happen.

Let’s keep chipping away at the monolith. Stop thinking and acting so much for the overseas public, to win an intervention that will not come (look at Venezuela) and let’s begin to mature a discourse for the island. For the followers of Jose Marti trapped in it.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Authorities Threaten a Baptist Pastor for Preaching Against the New Constitution

The Baptist pastor Carlos Sebastián Hernández Armas called on the faithful of his congregation to oppose the new Constitution. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2019 – The Communist Party of Cuba categorized the Baptist pastor Carlos Sebastián Hernández Armas a “counterrevolutionary” for a sermon in which the pastor called on the faithful of his congregation to oppose the new Constitution that will be submitted to a referendum this February 24.

Sonia García García, an official of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, telephoned Dariel Llanes, president of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, to inform him that Hernández Armas “going forward will not be treated as a pastor but as a counterrevolutionary. ”

The complaint was shown on his Facebook profile by Hernández Armas himself, secretary general of the Baptist Convention, and confirmed to this newspaper by Llanes. This newspaper tried to communicate by telephone with the Office of Religious Affairs but García was not “available” for press inquiries. continue reading

“The official demonstrated outrage at my message last Sunday, when I spoke to the church, with over 200 brothers gathered, that it is a Christian duty to vote NO on the new Constitution,” the pastor wrote.

According to the text, the official told the president of the Baptist Convention that she “does not understand” how it is possible that Hernández Armas occupies positions of responsibility in the organization.

“I have been categorized as a counterrevolutionary since 2004, when leading the church of Yaguajay we recovered the temple and the pastoral house in a story that’s too long to tell, but in which the Government was for years an accomplice of its thieves and then stole the bordering land”, adds Hernández Armas.

According to the pastor, it’s about persecution for his religious beliefs and the friendship he has with Pastor Mario Félix Lleonart and Oscar Elías Biscet, well-known opposition leaders.

The Baptist Convention of Western Cuba was one of the evangelical churches that appealed to the Government to prevent the approval of the controversial Article 68 of the constitutional project on equality of marriage.

In the document, subscribed by the Evangelical League of Cuba, the Baptist Conventions of the West and East, as well as the Methodist Church and the Evangelical Assembly of God Church, it was affirmed that “gender ideology” has no relation whatsoever with Cuban culture “nor with the historical leaders of the Revolution.”

The Commission that drafted the constitutional reform was in charge of substantially modifying the article due to the supposed majority rejection that it received during public consultations. To generate consensus, the Commission announced that an amendment to the Family Code should be ratified by another referendum within two years.

“We are living a very delicate situation in Cuba right now. They (the Communist Party) are very angry, they have put pressure on religious communities to support this constitutional project, but if we do that, we are going against our faith,” a high representative of the Evangelical Church on the island who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals against his organization told this newspaper.

“In Cuba there are still many people with dignity who love this country and God. We will be firm in following Christ even if we are persecuted for it,” he added.

The Christian, Evangelical and Catholic Churches have openly manifested their opposition to the constitutional referendum, as have LGBT groups, opponents and human rights activists.

A recent message from the Catholic Conference of Bishops laments “the exclusion” in the constitutional text “of other forms of full realization of the human being different from those of socialism and communism.”

According to the bishops, “a Christian cannot be forced to submit to a conception of reality that does not correspond to his human conscience enlightened by faith.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Several Opponents Arrested Protesting Against the New Constitution in Havana

Opponents Antonio Rodiles and Ángel Moya were arrested after staging a protest this Saturday in downtown Havana. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2019 — Opponents Antonio Rodiles and Ángel Moya were arrested after staging a protest in downtown Havana against the constitutional referendum that will be held Sunday.

Moya and Rodiles walked down Galiano Street and were followed by dozens of people who recorded the protest with their cell phones, without participating in it, while others came up to them with official slogans. The activist Maikel Herrera, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), joined the opposition and was also arrested, as confirmed to this newspaper by the organization’s leader, José Daniel Ferrer. continue reading

Ángel Moya, Antonio Rodiles, other activists and people mobilized by Galiano, Havana in protest against the dictatorship.pic.twitter.com/4j3g2HG6tD

– José Daniel Ferrer (@jdanielferrer) February 23, 2019

Ferrer was the first to transmit the video of the protest through his Twitter account, where activists are seen shouting “freedom” and “enough of the manipulation.” Moya was released shortly after, while Rodiles and Herrera remain detained. In the vicinity of the Capitol, an indeterminate group of Unpacu militants was arrested by the police when they tried to join the protest.

In conversation with 14ymedio Moya explained that his arrest lasted about two hours and that both he and Rodiles were taken to the Zanja unit. “They issued me a warning for disorderly conduct and a fine of 4,000 pesos for dirtying public ornaments,” he said. He also stated that he saw Rodiles in a dark cell before leaving the unit and that he has not yet been released.

The former political prisoner Ángel Moya and Antonio Rodiles are in favor of boycotting the constitutional referendum and not participating in a process that they have described as a “farce”. Other organizations on the island have asked Cubans to go to the polls and vote NO to send a strong message to the executive Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The Government has deployed a campaign for the YES vote through its monopoly on the media and its domination of the public spaces. Several NO activists and referendum observers have been threatened with jail if they campaign and more than 100 Unpacu members are holding a hunger strike to protest the arbitrary raids and arrests.

The Government finds itself in a delicate situation with its main ally and benefactor, Venezuela, plunged in a deep crisis. Nicolás Maduro, a key figure in the alliance with Cuba, is not recognized as president by more than fifty countries and a change in Miraflores Palace could trigger a crisis like the one of the ’90s — a time that Fidel Castro called “The Special Period in Time of Peace” — when the Island lost its privileged trade status with the Soviet Union.

This Friday the Baptist minister Carlos Sebastián Hernández Armas denounced that the Communist Party had threatened to withdraw his status as pastor for preaching against the new Constitution. Hernandez had called on faithful of his congregation to vote NO in the referendum.

Cuban police on Friday arrested Roberto Veliz Torres, minister of the Assemblies of God in the town of Los Benítez, in the municipality of Palma Soriano. According to a denunciation of the faithful of his Church, Veliz had called all Christians to vote NO because, he says, the Constitution that the Government wants to impose is not compatible with the Christian faith.

The Christian, Catholic and Evangelical churches have demonstrated a strong rejection of the new Constitution, which leaves the power of the Communist Party intact and introduces small changes such as the approval of private property.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Eduardo Cardet Receives his First Visit at the Minimum Security Facility Where He Was Transferred

The prolonged confinement of Eduardo Cardet generated protests from international organizations such as Amnesty International. (oswaldopaya.org)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 February 2019 — Yaimaris Vecino, wife of Eduardo Cardet, visited the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement and prisoner of conscience for the first time at the minimum security prison to which he was transferred last Friday by the authorities.

The visit went “fairly well”, according to Vecino as she explained to 14ymedio, and she believes that Cardet’s living conditions have improved in the new prison. “Everything is better there: the ventilation, the food, it’s less overcrowded … they call that place La Aguada,” she explained.

“His mind is a bit more calm, there he is also still under lock and key, nor can he walk around. He’s still in prison, but there has been a slight improvement in his conditions,” said Vecino. continue reading

Although Cardet has the option of working, he has not been able to do so thus far due to a lack of documentation that is on the way to being solved. “Soon he will have that resolved,” said Vecino.

The new jail administrators will allow Cardet to spend some weekends at home with his family, although before that occurs he will be on probation for 60 days before receiving an initial leave pass.

“Now I can go to see him every fifteen days, everything is more flexible. Phone calls as well; there they are able to make calls whenever they want,” his wife emphasized.

Cardet’s lawyers, according to Vecino, have again solicited his conditional release. “This is the fourth time, the court denied previous requests, objecting that he was not in a minimum security regimen, there is no reason for the court not to agree to give it to him now that he is no longer in that situation. Hopefully all will end well and soon.”

The Cuban criminal code establishes that a prisoner can “receive the benefit of parole” after having completed part of his sentence while showing good behavior or when due to the details of the of the case, it is presumed that the purpose of the sentence can be achieved without its full execution or with only a partial execution”.

Cardet, born in 1968 and a physician by trade, was violently detained in November 2016, five days after the death of Fidel Castro, accused of the crime of assault against an official and sentenced to three years in prison in 2017 by the Provincial Court of Holguín.

Last year, at a ceremony held in Miami, Cardet was named the winner of the Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award. Amnesty International declared Eduardo Cardet a “prisoner of conscience” and launched several campaigns urgently calling for his “immediate and unconditional release.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Doctor "Deserters" Disillusioned by Bolsonaro Ask for Help from the United States

The Cuban doctors who decided to stay in Brazil are disillusioned with the Bolsonaro government. (O Tempo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 February 2019 — More than 2,000 doctors who defied the orders of the authorities in Havana and stayed in Brazil after the end of Cuba’s participation in the Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program have sent a letter to Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez after learning that the Government of Jair Bolsonaro will suspend the health care program and will not offer them work.

In the letter, which El Nuevo Herald had access to, the professionals asked that both politicians continue to support the efforts to reinstate the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, repealed by former President Barack Obama in 2017, which grants US visas to health professionals who abandon the Cuban international missions.

The physicians claim that they stopped honoring their commitment to the Cuban government after having relied on Bolsonaro’s promise of offering them political asylum and employment, but nearly three months later most have not been able to find work as doctors. continue reading

“The situation of the doctors who decided to stay in Brazil has been darkened by reality, most of us have been abandoned and left in precarious situations surviving with the help offered by friends and many of those who were our patients and who once again have shown their gratitude towards us,” they explained.

The professionals ask in their letter to the senators that, if they are unable to reactivate the aid program, “they dialogue” with the authorities to help them find jobs.

Mayra Pinheiro, the Brazilian Secretary of Labor Management and Health Education, told the press on Thursday that the current government would terminate the Mais Médicos program and replace it with a new project, so there will be no further requests to fill the 8,300 positions left behind by the Cubans. “All vacancies were filled by registered Brazilians,”she affirmed.

With the closure of Mais Médicos, more than 2,000 Cuban professionals who hoped to obtain work in the state program will not be able to fill positions as health workers in Brazil. In addition, the Cuban government prevents recognizing legally the degrees of these doctors, whom it considers deserters.

Pinheiro, who had talked some time ago about the possibility of performing special revalidation exams for the Cuban professionals to speed up their incorporation into the system, now delegates that responsibility to Cuba and, when asked in an interview about the future of those doctors, responded that it was Havana that abandoned the program.

The first secretary of the Federal Council of Medicine, Hermann Von Tniesehause, said, for his part that, “there is great concern in the government in relation to the Cuban doctors who asked for asylum in the country.” Von Tniesehause denied that the physicians can practice without having taken the revalidation examination.

Last November, Bolsonaro, at the time the president-elect of Brazil, said that the Cuban doctors of Mais Médicos were “slaves” of a “dictatorship” and asked for the modification of the conditions of the program. Havana reacted by abandoning the agreement and facilitating the departure of thousands of its professionals, who had been working in complex areas of Brazil for years.

More than 2,000 of these workers decided to stay in the South American country encouraged by the president’s promises, but now they survive without jobs and see their expectations shattered.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Chad will Pay Cuba the Nearly 18 Million Dollars it Owes for the Training of its Doctors

Signing of the memorandum under which Chad agrees to make their delayed payments to the Island. (Apanews)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 February 2019 — Chad pledged to reimburse Cuba before the end of the first half of this year the almost 18 million dollars that it owes for the training of its students in the health field on the island.

Last Friday, the Minister of Finance and Budget of Chad, Allali Mahamat Abakar and Marcia Cobas Ruiz, Deputy Minister of Health and in charge of medical cooperation in third countries signed a memorandum by which N’Djamena promises to pay 50% of the total of the backlog, about 10,200 million FCFA (African Francs).

They will then pay the remaining 50% balance in two equal installment — the first on March 15th and the other prior to June 15, 2019.

The arrears are due to “failures in the Chadian economy,” explained Mahamat Allali Abakar before recalling that “Chad has more than 300 students in Cuban universities.”

For her part, Marcia Cobas Ruiz said that “the Chadian students are very studious, very disciplined and will be very good doctors”.

44 Cuban doctors are currently working in Chad.

In mid-2018, the Cuban government protested the lack of payment for medical services in Ghana and pointed out, as an example, precisely the compliance of poorer countries such as Chad.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Meteorite that Fell in Vinales May Shed Light on the Origin of the Universe

Some witnesses claimed to have seen “a ball of fire” in the sky. (Guerrillero)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2019 – The meteorite that plunged over the Valley of Viñales, in Pinar del Río, may shed light on the origin of the universe, Cuban experts told the state press.

Astrophysicist Oscar Álvarez said that so far not enough carbon has been found in the fragments of the meteorite, which is necessary in order for further study on the origin of life on earth. However, being a chondrite rock, it will help to expand the knowledge about the origin of the Solar System.

Efrén Jaimez Salgado, head of the Department of Environmental Geology of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment of the Island added that so far between 40 and 50 pieces of the meteorite were found scattered in the areas of Dos Hermanas, El Palmarito, Los Jazmines, El Cuajaní and in the vicinity of the town of Viñales. continue reading

The researchers believe that the meteorite could have weighed about three tons but when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere it disintegrated into dozens of fragments. According to preliminary investigations, experts have found metallic crystals on the rock, presumably of iron and nickel.

The meteorite that fell in Viñales released some 1,400 tons of TNT of energy when it entered Earth’s atmosphere, according to estimates published by NASA and corroborated by Cuban experts. The celestial body was seen from Key West, where a radar detected the meteorite at an altitude of more than 7,920 meters (26,000 feet) near Viñales at 1:21pm.

When it fell, the meteorite produced an explosion that was felt in a good part of the province of Pinar del Río, alarming the local population, who took to the streets after the loud noise. In the areas closest to the event broken glass was reported, a result of the shock wave and the shingles of a house were damaged. There were no deaths or injuries to lament from the impact.

Even though scientists are asking for caution with the rocks (to avoid contaminating them) some neighbors picked up pieces of the meteorite and, according to reports from the local press, have even “sampled it” to determine its flavor. Such was the case of Rainel Rivero, a Pinar del Rio resident who had hopes of being cured of his “hypertension.”

In 2013, a meteorite fell in Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing a huge explosion that left hundreds injured and damaged buildings and infrastructure.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Twenty Reasons to Vote No

The text that will be subject to the plebiscite was not the result of a consensual labor among the diverse currents of opinion of the citizenship. Billboard: “My will, my Constitution. I am participating in the drafting of my Constitution.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, 5 February 2019 — Why should we vote “No” in the February 24 referendum on a new constitutional project? Of the many reasons, these twenty seem the most important.

1. Because the text that will be submitted to plebiscite was not the result of consensual labor among the different currents of opinion of the citizenship, as it would be in a democratically elected constituent assembly, but rather it was written by a team handpicked by the elite of a single party. Party is derived from “part”, so that said text is only the work of the interests of a sole line of thinking.

2. Because that constitution would institutionalize in perpetuity a one-party dictatorial regime implicit in Article 5, as well as the concentration of the three branches of the State, legislative executive and judicial, in the hands of that same elite. continue reading

3. Because this project aims to reaffirm the institutionalization of systematic violations of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and of association, when in reality the opposite should be sought, the rule of law.

4. Because voting “Yes” would mean giving carte blanche to the same group that in 60 years has not been able to solve vital problems of the population such as the crisis in transportation, in housing and in shortages and that continues to offer the same failed remedies over and over.

5. Because Article 22 seeks to institutionalize the principle of equality in misery for the vast majority of citizens regarding the limit on properties that they may possess, even if they are acquired honestly by their own efforts or by their talent, which blocks the stimulus of creativity and productivity.

6. Because we need a Constitution that offers a legal framework for the protection of workers and retirees and, in particular, self-employed workers, artisans and artists to be free in their creativity and free in economic initiative for their prosperity, which allows freedom of unionization, right to strike and public demonstration.

7. Because the current project does not guarantee ending the policy of excessive restrictions and obstacles to self-employment, as well as the elimination of discrimination against Cubans living abroad in investing in their own country.

8. Because the new Constitution continues to perpetuate a politicized education under the exclusive control of the State, which implies generating culturally one-dimensional citizens, while at the same time, by excluding private education, parents are deprived of the right to choose for their children the type of education they prefer.

9. Because the deletion of Article 68 that defined marriage as “voluntarily arranged union between two people” leaves a gap in the constitutional text regarding the possibility of members of the LGTB community for cohabitation contracts that ensure basic rights such as that of inheritance.

10. Because the text leaves undefined a topic as vital as the death penalty, suspended but still officially in existence, which, because of the dramatic connotation in our history, must be abolished constitutionally. The life of any human being, regardless of his criminal responsibility, must be considered sacred.

11. Because if we can demonstrate that a considerable percentage of the population supports the No vote, even if it is not a majority, it would allow to demand, before international organizations, that the Cuban government be required to respect the rights of that significant part of the population in disagreement with the official policy.

12. Because a high number of No votes would help to create a civic conscience of resistance in the population before the arbitrary impositions of the current power — or any other power — against their rights and begin undermining the mentality of indolence or blind fanaticism.

13. The belief that voting Yes or No is irrelevant because there will be fraud does not take into account that many of the thousands or tens of thousands responsible for the fraud being carried out will not be able to negate their relatives and friends if there is a really significant number in favor of the No vote, and this would be important in raising the consciousness and willingness for change in the citizenry, the first step towards open expression in favor of a better Cuba.

14. The government’s thesis that voting No signifies opposing the supposed achievements in education and medical care by the regime does not hold, because those benefits whose iterations already existed before 1959 such as emergency medical care and public schools are seen as increasingly diminished by an unviable economic model, as the new Constitution does not propose any alternative model but a continuity of what has already failed; so voting No would mean, on the contrary, opting for a different  form of ensuring these universal rights.

15. The thesis that going to the polls, even if voting No, would mean legitimizing a fraudulent election, does not take into account that in many cases in which a dictatorship agreed to popular consultation in the belief that it would win, not even the potential frauds were enough to circumvent the popular decision, as was the case in the famous plebiscite in which Pinochet was defeated, or in the case of the electoral failure of the Sandinistas against Violeta Chamorro.

16. Because the option of abstaining is indirectly a Yes vote, since generally in no country is it interpreted as a rejection but more as a careless attitude of someone likely to vote Yes who doesn’t due to indifference. Silence gives consent. The No vote, on the other hand, leaves no room for doubt.

17. Nevertheless, due to harassment by pro-government elements to go to the polls, the vast majority of citizens who disagree with this proposal are more likely to attend and vote No, since they fear that their refusal to vote will mark them as malcontents by the regime.

18. Every annulled or absent vote subtracts power from the opposition against an adversary that never splits their vote, because it would be as if the opposition presented three separate candidates against the sole candidate of the authorities. They have only one slogan: Vote Yes. The opposition must not act differently with respect to the No vote, but keep the unique slogan: Everyone Vote No!

19. Because this continent lives a historical moment in which the dictatorships of the so-called “socialism of the 21st century” are in retreat thanks to the decisions and courage of the citizens of those countries, and taking into account the role played by our country in that process, we should do no less but instead go to the source of the evil to eradicate it, and this is justly the first step: vote No!

20. Finally, taking into account all the above reasons, it is necessary to vote No, also for our personal satisfaction, not only because it is our duty as citizens, but also because we must be true to ourselves and act accordingly to how we think. Every time we reject an arbitrary and unjust imposition, something very beautiful is reaffirmed within us.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Spain Recognizes Guaido as Acting President of Venezuela

Pedro Sánchez appeared on live television at 10 o’clock in the morning to announce the recognition of Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio / EFE, Madrid, 4 February 2019 — The Spanish government has announced that it officially recognizes the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as acting president of Venezuela, as explained by the president of Spain in an institutional statement made without taking questions and broadcast live on the major television networks.

Pedro Sánchez explained that the scope of this recognition is clear, “the calling of elections in the shortest time possible: democratic, free and without exclusions.” The decision was made after the passing of the eight-day deadline given to Nicolás Maduro to hold elections without him having taken the requested steps. “Venezuela must be the owner of its own destiny,” he said. continue reading

Sánchez explained in his brief appearance of about seven minutes that Spain believes in defending multilateralism to solve conflicts and that is why it has led the common position of the European Union. Likewise, the Spanish Prime Minister added that the next step he will take will be to promote within the EU and the United Nations the delivery of humanitarian aid. “The Venezuelan people themselves are suffering the consequences,” he said.

I recognize @jguaido as acting president of Venezuela, with a clear scope: the call for free, democratic presidential elections, with guarantees and without exclusions. I will not take a step back. For freedom, democracy and harmony in #Venezuela

— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) February 4, 2019

Pedro Sanchez addressed the “many colonies of Spaniards” residing in Venezuela and the companies based in the country and stressed that he knows that they share with Venezuelans the desire to have a full democracy “which means that there are no political prisoners and that there are elections, free, transparent and with all the guarantees.”

“Venezuela is a beloved brother country and can count on Spain. We are and we will be by its side”, he said in closing.

The statement came minutes after France also recognized Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.

“We consider today that the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, whose legitimacy is perfectly recognized, is authorized to call presidential elections,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in an interview with the public broadcaster France Inter.

“It seems clear to everyone, including the Europeans, that we must get out of this crisis with an election that is completely legitimate” for the head of state, since Venezuela is a country with a presidential government, argued the head of French diplomacy.

He explained that there will be consultations today between France and its European partners to form a contact group with those who wish “to accompany the transition, not to be neutral.”

To the question of whether recognizing Guaidó as president is interference, Le Drian denied it, since Guaidó asked for help. In addition, he argued that “it is an attempt on our part to resolve the Venezuelan crisis calmly and avoid confrontations and violence,” as well as the intervention of the military.

He stressed that Venezuela is a “dead” country in which “there are many refugees, there is oppression, there is horrible inflation, the people are on the street, they want change and we believe that we must avoid” the risk of “civil war and confrontations.”

He also noted that the election of Maduro in May of last year “was very questionable,” unlike that of the National Assembly, which resulted in Guaidó’s mandate.

Shortly thereafter, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, made the decision public through Twitter.

Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically. France recognizes @jguaido as “acting president” to implement an electoral process. We support the contact group, created with the EU, in this period of transition. https://t.co/7cgpdgz7TN

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 4, 2019

United Kingdom, Austria, Sweden, Latvia and Denmark were other countries that today joined in the decision of Spain and France.

The British Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, revealed the decision on Twitter, after confirming that the current president, Nicolás Maduro, “has not called elections within eight days as we established.”

Hunt wished that the recognition of Guaidó will bring closer “to putting an end to the humanitarian crisis.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Under Dogma and Stubbornness / Fernando Damaso

José Martí statue in Havana. (The Straights Times)

Fernando Dámaso,29 January 2019 — On Sunday, January 27th, Havana was affected by a strong tornado that caused considerable destruction, mainly in the October 10, Luyanó, San Miguel del Padrón and Regla neighborhoods.

It is striking that the “March of the Torches”, scheduled for that evening and then moved to the 28th, nonetheless was held instead of using the resources and the young people from the march to help the many victims who, as is habitual, despite speeches and promises of opportunity, will swell the lists of those who wait for solutions to similar phenomena, which extend for more than two decades without visible results. continue reading

Recall that, according to official data, on June 7, 2018 there were 1,703,926 homes in poor condition and, of them, 61,051 in total collapse. The current victims, as is logical, will be placed at the end of the list.

Dogma and stubbornness are some of the actions of the partisan and governmental authorities, who always prioritize “idiotology” rather than the most elementary reasoning.

As a result, they have molded the history of this country in their image and likeness and as a function of their political interests, always prioritized, in spite of natural catastrophes.

January 1st is “the day of the triumph of the experiment”, the 8th is “the entrance to Havana of the” supreme maker” (Fidel Castro) and the evening of the 27th “the march of the torches” in honor of the 28th, the birthday of José Martí.

In February, the 24th is the day of the “Grito de Baire” (Proclamation of Baire in 1895 that began the War of Cuban Independence), usually poorly remembered, although this year it has been linked to the spawn of a Constitutional referendum, as if it the two were related.

March is adorned with the “Assault on the Presidential Palace” on the 13th (1957), the bravest action of the whole insurrection, and with the “Protest of Baraguá” (rejection in 1878 of Treaty with Spain ending Ten Years’ War) on the 15th that, although it was a powerful event, was actually an act of stubbornness that did not lead to anything, because it was impossible to continue the war for independence.

April is Girón (Bay of Pigs) and the supposed “first defeat of imperialism in America”.

May begins with the “Day of the Workers”, on the 1st, where they happily parade without making demands, giving thanks for the crumbs given to them, forgetting that Martí died on the 19th and that the Republic was founded on the 20th.

June is for Maceo (2nd in command of Cuban War for Independence) and Ché, artificially joined on the 13th by their birthdays, although in totally different eras.

July is the month of the “supreme maker”, with the “Day of Kings” and the Carnival of Havana, moved absurdly to this month (traditionally it was held in February), and the Assault on the Moncada Barracks, which they unsuccessfully try to make more important than the Proclamation of Baire.

August 13th is the day of the birth of the “supreme maker” with displays of banners and music.

September is the month of the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), a government organization for monitoring and controlling its citizens.

November is for the medical students shot in the 19th century by Spanish forces and December is for the “Landing of Granma”, relegating Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, as inconsequential dates.

This imposed “shrine”, where not everything presented deserve honors, crushingly repeats itself annually, trying to dilute in time our true patriotic dates and commemorations, forgetting that history is not a blur and new account, but a chained continuity, where all the links are important.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Guaido Rejects Dialogue Proposed by Mexico and Uruguay

Juan Guaidó rejects dialogue and does not close the door on military aid, although he claims he will try to avoid it. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Caracas / Bucharest, 1 February 2019 — The head of Parliament and self-proclaimed president in charge of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, told Mexico and Uruguay this Friday that he will not attend a dialogue that seeks to keep “violators of human rights in power” and reiterated that he is only interested in a negotiation that results in  the end of the “usurpation” by Nicolás Maduro.

“We want to express with certainty and firmness that the democratic forces, the legitimate institutions, much less the people of Venezuela, are unwilling to participate in conversations and negotiations whose purpose is to keep human rights violators in power through deception,” he said in a letter published on Twitter. continue reading

We affirm to the governments of Mexico and Uruguay our position of restoring the constitutional order in Venezuela. We have a clear route:

1. Cessation of usurpation 2. Transitional government 3. Free elections

Join our democratic call! pic.twitter.com/88QScWUIUq

– Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 1, 2019

In the letter addressed to the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Tabaré Vázquez, respectively, Guaidó affirms that he will only be interested in a negotiation “when it is the one that agrees definitely to the terms of cessation of the usurpation.”

A negotiation that, he adds, “allows the effective transfer of power to legitimate representatives of the Venezuelan people to initiate a process of transition that culminates with the holding of free elections, in which the participation of all democratic forces is allowed in a fair and transparent manner.”

He also criticized the neutrality of the representatives of the two countries, pointing out that in this moment that Venezuela is going through being “neutral is to be on the side of a regime that has condemned hundreds of thousands of human beings to poverty, hunger, exile and even death.”

Guaidó invited Mexico and Uruguay, which, this Friday, will bring a proposal for dialogue to the UN to promote a solution to the Venezuelan crisis, to reflect and join as “collaborators” to the demand of “restoring the Constitutional order to initiate a transitional government that leads” to a process of free elections.

He stressed that anything else that distances itself from this negotiating framework will only aggravate the crisis.

Earlier today Guaidó stated on the American network CNN, responding to a question about whether he would be open to receiving US military aid, that such a step would not be desirable, but avoided rejecting that option outright.

“Here in Venezuela we are doing everything possible to put the pressure on, so that we do not have to get to a scenario that nobody wants to have,” Guaidó told CNN.

In Europe, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Josep Borrell, warned that the countries of the European Union (EU) maintain an “absolutely overriding” position of rejection of foreign military intervention in Venezuela in the face of the political crisis that the country is experiencing.

“It is very clear, after my intervention in the Cortes (Spanish legislature) and the statements we have made at all times, that Spain will not support and would be opposed to a foreign military intervention,” Borrell told reporters after participating in an informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

“I believe this is the absolutely overriding position in the Council” of the EU, he stressed.

At their meeting, the ministers addressed the situation in Venezuela, although they did not reach consensus for recognizing the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as interim president, mainly because of the non-acceptance by Greece and Italy.

Borrell said he did not know about Guaidó’s statement about possible military intervention: “I do not know about it, I’m not going to judge it, Mr. Guaidó has his opinions, what I’m telling you is the Spanish position.”

The minister explained that he spoke by telephone on Thursday with the American national security adviser, who “has contacted several countries,” and with whom he discussed the situation in Venezuela.

“You have to be very careful with these issues of military interventions,” he said.

With regards to EU States that do not support recognizing Guaidó, Borrell said that “there are some countries, two countries, which base their reluctance not on the National Assembly taking the lead in the call for elections,” but on the “conditions” under which the president of the Assembly is acting.

Italy has been blunt in rejecting the recognition of Guaidó because “he has not been chosen by the people.”

“Change is decided by Venezuelan citizens, we are on the side of democracy and therefore we have to create all the motives to favor new elections,” Di Maio said when commenting on the abstention of the members of parliament from the parties that make up the Italian government, Liga Y M5S, in the voting of the European Parliament.

Asked if the United States had asked Spain to break all dialogue with Maduro, he said he does not know, although he acknowledged that Washington has asked several countries “to proceed to recognition (of Guaidó) days ago.”

Borrell insisted that Spain “is not abiding by guidelines” from the United States and that the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, “set a deadline” (of 8 days for elections to be held in Venezuela), an ultimatum that “will be maintained,” a position that “many other countries have joined.”

Asked if the United States is upset that the EU is going to push for a contact group to support free elections in Venezuela, Borrell said that “there are many countries that do not look kindly at the EU creating this support group.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

An IMO Update Leaves Thousands of Cubans Without Messaging Services

IMO has become, in the last three years, the preferred app for Cuban families to keep in touch with relatives who have emigrated. (Flickr /CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar / Mario J. Pentón, Havana / Miami, 15 January 2019 — A recent update of the popular IMO messaging and calling application has left thousands of Cubans on both sides of the Florida Strait without communications. After the update the contacts with the American prefix disappears, inviting the user to open a link to install the application again.

“The problem with IMO coincided with the Nauta Hogar network and the Wi-Fi network throughout the country going offline, and last night I called [the state phone company] Etecsa to ask what was happening and they told me there were problems with the application,” an app user from Cienfuegos who connects through Nauta Hogar said by telephone. continue reading

IMO surpasses in popularity other videoconferencing applications, due to its stability, the ability to operate despite poor quality connections and its free services. Initially, it was used exclusively in Wi-Fi zones, but with the arrival of the internet to mobile phones, users have also started to use it on the 3G networks.

“The app is unavailable throughout the country but it has nothing to do with Etecsa,” clarified a customer service operator who identified herself as Yaneisy.

“We have been receiving calls reporting problems with IMO but we can’t do anything about it because it’s not under our control,” she said.

IMO did not immediately respond to a request for comment made by this newspaper, but in several technology forums users from other countries complained that they could not call any number in the United States through the tool.

Other instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram are not reporting problems from the Island for calls or videoconferences, other than those derived from low connection speeds that, in some cases, cause crashes and delays in the arrival of the image and sound.

Luis Castro, a computer scientist who has a repair workshop for computers and cell phones in Havana, recommended that users “use safer alternatives such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Messenger.”

“By consuming less data, IMO is cheaper for the user’s pocket, but that’s also why the quality of the image and sound is worse, not to mention security,” he explained.

A telephone call through Etecsa’s regular service costs 1.10 CUC (Cuban convertible peso roughly equal to the US dollar) per minute to the Americas and 1.20 CUC to the rest of the world, while an Internet browsing card costs 1 CUC per hour.

Cuba allowed navigation through mobile data with 3G technology in Mid-December. The telecommunications monopoly offers several data packages between 7 and 30 CUC. You can also pay through your telephone bill at a rate of 0.10 CUC per Megabyte.

IMO in the last three years has not only become the preferred app for Cuban families to keep in touch with relatives who have emigrated, but has also played an important role for activism  on the Island, where it is used frequently to broadcast calls for assembly and to organize meetings.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.