The 20th of May, its Place in Cuba / Dimas Castellano

Dimas Castellano, 21 May 2021 — Not because it was expected does it cease to be a surprise. The collapse of sugar production in the recently concluded harvest, in addition to being the biggest disaster suffered by that industry in the history of Cuba, constitutes definitive proof of the incapacity of the totalitarian model implemented after 1959.

Of the 1.2 million tons planned for the 2020-2021 harvest — after six months of milling — the total did not exceed 816,000 tons; a quantity very similar to the 807,000 tons  produced in 1891.

It is not a drop caused by temporary factors — US embargo, fuel, breakages, soil moisture or Covid-19 — but a sustained decline for decades, whose first signal was emitted by the monumental voluntarist campaign to produce ten million tons in 1970. The pompous slogan of “Not a pound less” ended with a million and a half tons less, and with the economy and society dislocated. And, despite the fact that the goals were reduced year after year, what was planned was never fulfilled. In 2001, the volume of sugar produced declined to 3.5 million tons, an amount that Cuba had already reached in 1918.

The government’s response, steeped in military culture, was to appoint a major general in 2001 to head the sector, who launched an operation known as “New sugar architecture”, made up of two fronts: “Restructuring of the sugar industry ” and “Tarea Álvaro Reynoso”, whose goal was to produce six million tons of sugar, a figure that had been reached in the 1950s.

Once the initiative was launched, and using the argument that prices had fallen the international market, and making use of that other enemy of the economy that is voluntarism, the Government decided to close 71 of the 156 existing sugar mills and redistribute the 60% of sugarcane land for other crops. Which further upset the depressed economy.

The 2003 harvest produced 2.1 million tons, which made the government face the dilemma of importing sugar for domestic consumption or failing to comply with foreign commitments. The 2005 harvest fell to 1.3 million tons: the lowest in the last hundred years.

The results demonstrated the difference between directing the military, where the individual interest does not count, and economic work, in which individual interest is a determining factor; confirmed by the pronouncement of José Martí, addressed to General Máximo Gómez: “A people is not established, General, like a military camp is run.” continue reading

In 2008, in the face of the crisis — labeled by the president of the State Council as a matter of maximum national security — a solution was once again sought where it was not to be found. The Municipal Delegations of Agriculture were created to control closer to the productive base, ignoring that the controls from the “dad” State to the “child” producers in the midst of the imbalance between salary and cost of living generates corruption. Agronomists, livestock keepers, and veterinarians were turned into comprehensive specialists, equipped with transportation and fuel to control reports and supervise producers. The result: the 2010 harvest fell to 1.1 million tons; less than the 1.23 million produced in 1905 during the government of Tomás Estrada Palma.

The search for a solution anywhere but within the inefficient state ownership and centralized planning led to the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, approved at the VI Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in 2011, which reaffirmed that line. To stop the decline and increase the derivatives of sugar cane, the Ministry of Sugar was replaced by the AZCUBA group; it announced that the 2013-2014 harvest targeted 1.8 million tons, and would be the best in the last decade. For greater guarantee, the then Second Secretary of the PCC, José Ramón Machado Ventura, toured a many of the sugar mills appealing to conscience. And yet, the best harvest of the last decade failed to meet its goal.

Just two months after the start of the current harvest (2020-2021), the official news that the amount of sugar provided by the government in the regulated family basket corresponding to the months of January and February was assured indicated that something was very wrong. It was the signal that once again the plan would not be met. It wasn’t a surprise since of the 44-45 mills that ground in the prior harvest, only 38 did so in the current year, and of those 14 delayed the start of the season.

Since AZCUBA was created ten years ago, it has not yet fulfilled a single one of its plans, and last year was so disastrous that for the first time the amount of sugar produced by the country was not disclosed.

Cuba was at one time the main producer and exporter of sugar in the world. In 1894 it was already producing a million tons. In 1925 it produced 5.16 million, and in 1952 it set a record of 7.13 million tons.

The conversion of the largest sugar complex in the world into one of the least efficient producers is the most irrefutable proof of the incapacity of the model, implemented in Cuba after 1959. Despite this, last April the VIII Congress of the PCC determined that the state enterprise and the socialist planning system would continue to be the main form for the direction of the national economy.

The sugar industry, a symbol of the history and culture of the Cuban nation since the 19th century, ceased to be so. A symbol that wisdom condensed into a phrase that defines our identity: “Without sugar there is no country.” And then what, if we are running out of sugar?

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria 

Spain Refuses to Sell Riot Gear to Cuba

Cuba bought riot gear from Spain in the first half of 2021, when the massive July 11, 2021 protests were about to break out throughout the island. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 23, 2022 — The Government of Spain denied the Cuban Ministry of the Interior the sale of 2,500 tear gas cartridges and 40 light, sound and smoke riot control devices, for a combined value of 350,000 euros. The refusal is recorded in the Report on Exports of Defense Material, Other Material and Dual-Use Products and Technologies for the first half of 2022.

According to the document, published by the Interministerial Regulatory Board for Foreign Trade in Defense Material and Dual Use (JIMDDU) – an organization chaired by the Secretary of State for Commerce, dedicated to regulating arms export operations – the reason for the refusal is the “lack of respect for human rights” that characterizes the Havana regime.

Under the protection of criterion 2 of the Common Position of the European Union – the rule of conduct on exports – the JIMDDU argued before the Spanish Congress that it is necessary to consider the degree of “respect for human rights in the country of final destination” when weapons are sent, in addition to the little “respect for International Humanitarian Law” that is observed on the Island.

This newspaper contacted the press office of the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade, which regretted not yet being able to offer the full text of the report – to which some Spanish media have had access – and guaranteed that it would be available “in the coming days” on its web page.

The repeated violation of human rights was also the reason why the JIMDDU blocked the license to export 50,000 tear gas cartridges – for a price of 2.1 million euros – to the Central African Republic. continue reading

Pakistan is also on the list, from which a “diversion risk” is alleged in the 670 sports pistols it requested, valued at 175.1 million. Nor will 5.5 million hunting cartridges be sold to Burkina Faso, for 1.6 million, nor the 13.3 million bird shots required by Guinea Bissau, which would have cost that country 2.7 million.

On the other hand, the JIMDDU did allow the shipment of riot control material to Peru, a country whose political crisis has just taken serious turns, for a value of 6.3 million euros.

The JIMDDU is required to issue a report on the granting of this type of licenses every year and the enforcing of the European legislation, which requires that the material not be destined for internal repression in countries where human rights are not respected, among other regulations. In 2021, permission to export to Cuba was granted and there was no refusal, but on this occasion the island was demanding chemical substances for laboratory analysis or ammunition used in hunting.

Another report from the Secretary of State for Commerce dated 2021 reported that Cuba had purchased riot gear in the first half of that year, when the massive protests on July 11 were about to break out throughout the island.

Although the authorization from the Spanish government took effect before July 11, it was not explained in the report if the shipment arrived in Havana in time to suppress the protest or if Spain blocked the shipment so that the regime would not attack peaceful protesters.

Also in 2014, a report from the former Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness reported the export of 3,170,228 million euros in gas masks and anti-riot suits.

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria 


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.

Days Before Christmas, 175 Cubans Who Landed in Florida Are Taken Into Custody

Since October 1, 2022, the Coast Guard has intercepted 3,724 Cuban rafters. (Twitter/@USCGSoutheast)
Since October 1, 2022, the Coast Guard has intercepted 3,724 Cuban rafters. (Twitter/@USCGSoutheast)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, December 23, 2022 — The Border Patrol took into custody this Thursday 175 Cubans who disembarked in the last 24 hours in the Florida Keys and Hollywood Beach. The chief officer of the Miami sector, Walter Slosar, affirmed that all the rafters were fine and will continue to be processed while under investigation.

Island nationals who manage to disembark in Florida are detained and taken to immigration stations where they are given the opportunity to demonstrate “credible fear.” If they convince the judge, they can post a bond and apply for asylum. In the best of cases, they are released and given a document that legalizes their entry into the country.

Last Monday, Mr. Slosar shared on his social networks images of four rafts in which 98 Cubans disembarked in the Florida Keys and Key Biscayne, who were helped by the Coast Guard and then placed under investigation.

The exodus of rafters is alarming, this Friday the interception of an “overloaded” rustic raft with 20 Cubans south of Key Largo was divulged. The authorities reiterated that they “continue to advise against these unsafe” and dangerous trips. These individuals will be repatriated in the coming days.

A day earlier, the US Coast Guard repatriated 67 people to Cuba on the ship Charles David Jr. The captain insisted on the uncertainty of the sea, and that this month, in addition, “the winter weather is unpredictable in the Florida Straits.”

Since October 1, 2022, Coast Guard crews have prevented 3,724 individuals from reaching for the American dream. continue reading

The Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also alerted on its social networks about “extremely cold temperatures, below the freezing point” along the border of Mexico and the United States during the next week. It advised migrants not to try to cross the Rio Grande to avoid tragedies.

The warning comes as much of the United States prepares for a major “freak” winter storm, “once in a generation,” as the National Weather Service (NWS) has described it.

ALERT: Extremely cold temperatures, below freezing, are expected along the US-Mexico border during the next week. Do not risk your life or that of your family crossing the Rio Grande or the desert. Stay home or in a safe shelter and avoid a tragedy.

— CBP (@CBP) December 23, 2022

The weather phenomenon will range from the northern Great Basin – a hydrographic area that includes Nevada, part of Utah and California, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming – to the northern Midwest, the Great Lakes and the central and northern Appalachians.

President Joe Biden warned Americans on Thursday to take the storm “extremely seriously” and to follow the recommendations of the authorities.

“This is really a very severe weather alert. And it goes from Oklahoma to Wyoming, and from Wyoming to Maine. And there are real consequences, so I encourage everyone to please follow local advisories,” he told reporters at the Oval Office of the White House.

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria


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.

More than 75 Cubans Arrive in Florida by Sea on Thanksgiving Day

“Our teams will continue patrolling by air, land and sea during the entire holiday season. Those who attempt to enter the United States illegally will be rescued and repatriated.”

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 24 November 2022 — More than 75 migrants arrived aboard rafts at various points in the Florida Keys in the last few hours, according to official sources who, on Thursday, informed Miami television channel Local 10.

On Thanksgiving Day, the most important non-religious holiday in the United States, at least four landings of migrants occurred in the chain of islands situated between the continental US and Cuba.

“Our teams will continue patrolling by air, land and sea during the holiday season. Those who attempt to enter the United States illegally by sea will be rescued and repatriated,” Walter N. Slosar, chief of the Border Patrol (CBP) for the Miami sector, wrote on Twitter.

More than 30 migrants arrived at the uninhabited Marquesa Key, the western-most islet of the Florida straits, according to sources cited by Local 10.

Another ten arrived by boat at Dry Toturgas Key, a tourist destination for scuba diving that has no permanent residents, 19 landed in Marathon and another 17 at Grassy Key, reported Slosar.

All of them were detained and remained in the custody of the Border Patrol. continue reading

The information does not mention the nationality of the migrants arriving in the Keys, but it is the part of the United States closest to Cuba and it is understood that it is likely they are Cubans.

Border Patrol agents intercepted at sea 1,132 Cubans during the month of October, a significant number taking into account that in the prior 12 months 6,182 were intercepted, according to figures from the American Coast Guard.

The number of Cubans intercepted trying to enter the United States by land is even higher.

The Border Patrol indicated last week that a total of 29,872 Cubans entered the United States in an irregular manner via land borders in October, in the middle of a migratory crisis that had generated the greatest exodus of people from the island in decades.

The majority of Cubans, 28,848 of the total, made their entry via the Mexican border.

Only Mexico, with 67,186 migrants, exceeded the number of Cubans entering the United States during this time period, according to updated data from the CBP.

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria 


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.

Members of US Congress Meet in Havana with the Authorities and Producers

Meeting of US members of Congress and Cuban officials this Tuesday in Havana.

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 23 November 2022 A bipartisan delegation of the US Congress, composed of three members of the agricultural committee, met in Havana with the Cuban vice-president, Salvador Valdés Mesa, deputies and producers, according to official newspaper Granma this Wednesday.

Representing the US were Salud Carbajal(D), James Baird(R) and Jahana Hayes(D), members of the House of Representatives and the Agricultural Committee of the US Congress, who have been in Cuba since last Saturday, according to the newspaper.

They also visited scientific and commercial entities, added the source, without providing details of discussions in these encounters.

In the meeting with the Cuban vice-president in the offices of the Caribbean executive, participated the interim minister of External Relations, Geraldo Peñalver; the vice-chancellor Carlos Fernández deCossio and the charge d’affaires in Washington DC, Lyanis Torres. continue reading

Also present was the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Havana, Benjamin Ziff.

The information provided does not clarify anything else surrounding the stay of the US Congress members, whose visit takes place during the intensifying formal bilateral relations of the last few months.

This year has seen sustained contacts between the two countries in the areas of immigration, commerce and disaster aid.

Although quite far from the levels of the so-called “thaw” during the last term of Barack Obama, there have been some gestures and signals in both directions in the recent past, according to concurring experts.

Translated by Wilfredo Diaz Echevarria


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.

Santiago de Cuba Declares Two Municipalities Under Quarantine

Firemen disinfect an area of Marimón in Santiago de Cuba last week.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio Havana, April 20, 2020 – Two municipalities in Santiago de Cuba, Marimón (Agüero Mar Verde) and Cuabitas (Boniato), are under quarantine starting this Sunday for the next 14 days.

Entering and exiting these towns is limited to residents and essential personnel for the operation of commerce and other essential services, who will work only between 7:00am and 7:00pm. In addition, the movement of residents is restricted between 8:00pm and 7:00am, who can only leave for medical reasons or force majeure.

There will be access control points for these communities, as well as a sanitary containment point for those entering or leaving. continue reading

As reported by the Cuban News Agency, the president of the Municipal Defense Council in Santiago de Cuba, Niurka Bell, assured that the products of the basic food basket in the ration stores were transported to avoid the movement of people.

Yanelis Hechavarría, president of the Municipal Assembly of the People’s Power of Santiago, indicated that Acopio has prepared food modules that must be purchased by a single person per family unit, with the exception of those who are in the most vulnerable groups, who must receive the aid organized by the community for those who live alone or need such assistance.

Hechavarría added that resources have been guaranteed for the Family Care System, which sells inexpensive food to these vulnerable groups.

Santiago de Cuba had, as of this Sunday, 405 patients hospitalized with coronavirus and 473 under isolation. Guillermo Mora García, provincial director of Health, insisted on the danger of contagion implied by the number of asymptomatic positives and called for continuing to do rapid tests to isolate the chains of contagion and contain the spread of the virus.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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

A Group of Americans Stranded in Cuba will Depart this Friday on Two Charter Flights

Two charter flights from the US airline Delta will depart this Friday to evacuate some Americans who are still in Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 23, 2020 – US citizens who are stranded in Cuba will begin to depart this Friday on two charter flights operated by Delta Airlines, as reported by the embassy of that country on Wednesday.

Passengers must pay the airline the price of the tickets, the amount of which is unknown, and will travel from Havana to Miami.

“The embassy will continue to explore options for the repatriation of US citizens who are not traveling on this flight but wish to return home, however, there are no additional charter flights scheduled at this time,” the diplomatic headquarters stated. continue reading

The embassy has advised those who have not been able to obtain a seat on these flights that they should plan their stay in Cuba “until the airport reopens and the airlines can return” and urged them not to contact the mission unnecessarily, indicating that it will be the diplomatic envoy who will communicate with interested parties in case there are more flights available.

The note also reminds that all routine services and visas are on hold for the time being and urges US citizens to access the website for emergency situations.

Cuba closed its borders to international flights the last day of March to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which so far has totaled 1,189 cases on the island and has claimed 40 lives.

On the Island there are 12,744 visitors, of which 5,673 are foreign tourists and 7,071 are Cubans, who the authorities describe as “emigrated” for having permanent residency abroad.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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

Fines of 100 Cuban Pesos for Sitting at the Havana Bus Terminal

Travelers sit on the ground or lean against the walls of the National Bus Terminal in the absence of sufficient seats. (Courtesia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 22, 2020 – The same scene is repeated day after day. Hundreds of passengers crowd in the Bus Terminal of Havana and in the absence of enough seats, some make themselves comfortable by sitting on the floor, or on the projections of a wall. Without knowing it, they commit an infraction that can end in a fine, as happened on Tuesday to several university students.

That day during the afternoon, an inspector imposed fines of 100 cuban pesos each to a group of young people who had sat down on a small wall inside the bus station while they waited for the transportation to take them to their destination.

The inspector sanctioned the young people because they had allegedly violated Decree Law 272, especially article 17, which considers an infraction to affect “by any form or means, wall, facades, sidewalks, doors, windows or any part of the exterior of buildings, cinemas, theaters, hotels, elevators or other premises open to the public. “ continue reading

The text regulates behaviors in the matter of Territorial and Urban Planning and punishes those who damage decorations, the communal hygiene and monuments. Often it is also applied in public spaces such as bus terminals and government offices, which generates much discomfort among citizens who stick up for themselves by appealing to the lack of facilities while waiting for service.

“Who likes sitting on a wall when you can be in a seat with more comfort?” asks Dayana Peña, who witnessed the incident at the main interprovincial bus station in Havana and often frequents those installations. “This place has no facilities for the number of people who spend hours waiting.”

The young woman, who lives in Matanzas and travels every week to the Cuban capital, says that “instead of improving the situation so that passengers who pay for the service do not go through all these inconveniences, they want to fix the matter by imposing fines.” She says she has even seen “people who have ended up at a police station for arguing over the inspector’s fine.”

In her Facebook account another witness, Diraine Aguiar, denounced the case, which immediately prompted several comments of solidarity with the young people and complaints about the state of the terminal, which was the subject of a capital repair program recently.

“They gave me an unjust fine for sitting and leaning against a little wall of the terminal. Me and two other students,” said one of those affected by the penalty on condition of anonymity. The young man said that many passengers showed their solidarity with the students and complained to the inspector for her harshness and for not taking into account the infrastructure problems of the terminal.

Although the inspector who imposed the fine was not identified, it is known that it is Teresa Fernández. Last December, Fernández was the target of a complaint made on the social networks by a self-employed worker who was also fined for selling his products outside the municipality where he has his self-employed license.

In the incident on Tuesday, “the fine has no legal basis, for several reasons, but especially because there was no sign that prohibited sitting in that place, in addition to the fact that people were forced to sit on the ground including the elderly and disabled because in the waiting list room there were about 200 people and only about 25 seats”, explained one of the fined individuals to this newspaper.

“The inspectors arrived and went directly to where we were sitting, no one from the terminal management intervened to explain the situation nor did any employee call to our attention the matter prior to the incident, the first complaint was to impose the fine of 100 cuban pesos, which is a lot of money for a student who has no income of his own,” he claimed.

A few hours later, the inspectors were still prowling around the place. “This terminal is a disaster, they demand a lot and do very little,” a passenger waiting to travel to Sancti Spiritus complained at nightfall. “They demand a lot from customers but the bathroom is a disaster, there is not a single drinking fountain, everything they sell to eat and drink is very expensive and to top it off there is almost no place to sit.

The woman, who was traveling with her two daughters, improvised a seat in a corner with some luggage and a cardboard box. “The floor is cold but that’s what it is because the seats are all full and nobody wants to risk a fine for leaning against the wall.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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

Cuban 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 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 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


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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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

– 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


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. (

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


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.