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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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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Civil Society Organizes to Help Those Affected by the Tornado

Artists and independent journalists have gone to the areas most affected by Sunday’s tornado in Havana to provide support to the victims. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 January 2019 — Artists and independent journalists have gone to the areas most affected by Sunday’s tornado in Havana to provide support to the victims. Arriving in several groups at the esplanade of the Church of San Juan, they went into the surrounding streets to deliver clothing and shoes, canned meat, bread, crackers, pasta and blankets they managed to collect in the preceding hours.

The singer Haydée Milanés, pianist Roberto Carlos Rodríguez Cucurucho, actor Carlos Manuel Paiffer, director Alejandro Gutiérrez, journalist Michel Hernández and the musician Athanai were some of the individuals who went to Luyanó and distributed what they could along Mango, Remedios and San Luis streets. continue reading

As they explained, their intention was to come together and bring some essential products they collected from family and friends. In addition, they recorded a video in the streets to ask others to join this initiative. At these times, they affirm, it is important to use the power they have as public figures to bring people together .

The artists Yomil and El Dany, Alex Duval, and Divan also came to the Luyanó area, and appeared on Mango Street with two pick-up trucks which they used to distribute soft drinks, yogurts, juices and sanitary paper to the crowd that surrounded them. The arrival of this group of artists created much confusion among the neighbors and initially many thought they were representatives of the Government. “I’m running to see if it’s Diaz-Canel, I’m going to tell him that no one has come here to take an interest in us,” said a neighbor before she took off up the hill.

“We are all here supporting the cause for those affected and we are happy to have the opportunity to help the people, who are so badly in need at the moment,” said Yomil, a reggaeton singer, as he handed out groceries to the neighbors. The artist came with part of his production team that helped organize the line.

An hour later several neighbors in the area told this newspaper that a group from State Security did not let the artists finish distributing the aid and expelled them from the area.

Several independent media reporters helped to remove debris from houses to the street, including Rafa Escalona, of AmPm magazine. Photographer May Reguera, a contributor to the magazine Garbos, was also seen carrying aid in a small box  for the most affected neighbors.

The Pazillo bar and the tattoo studio La Marca have tacked on their own initiatives for providing relief for the victims through a donation corresponding to their receipts for a day. Some restaurants like D`La Abuela have proposed to bringing, for free, food with a 30% discount for adults and free of charge for children.

El Destino restaurant announced that it is in talks with the provincial government to ascertain information on the location of the victims with the intention of getting them canned liquids and toiletries. “Any contribution is very much needed for these people,” they said.

The Government, for its part, has announced the arrival of material resources to the most affected areas. “Six new locations for sale of construction materials have been set up and it is anticipated that 800 roof modules (fiber cement) and 800 window units will be available,” they reported. Authorities have counted up to 1,286 damaged homes, plus 123 total and 625 partial collapses. They have placed more than a thousand water tanks for the population, replacing the 873 that were damaged.

The Minister of Public Health has updated the number of injured. Of the 195 initial admissions, 74 patients remain hospitalized, 12 in serious and two in extremely serious condition. The death toll remains at four in the official data.

The Council of Ministers, which assessed the damage, indicated 140,000 people were without electricity as of Wednesday morning, a problem that, according to the authorities, will be resolved in the next 48 hours.

Some 5,300 customers have had telephone service restored, but there are still 10,800 customers without it.

According to the authorities, the distribution of potatoes in Havana will begin on Friday, starting with the affected areas.

#FuerzaCuba. A un #Tornado devastador, un tsunami humano de reconstrucción. #Cuba conoce y practica la #Solidaridad. Una sociedad organizada, una economía planificada, un gobierno socialista, siempre tendrán reservas para que nadie quede desamparado. #SomosCuba #YoVotoSí pic.twitter.com/IkX6CKfxGk

— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) 30 de enero de 2019

On Twitter, Miguel Diaz-Canel has acknowledged the solidarity of the Cuban people but has specified that the planned economy and the socialist government “will always have reserves so that no one is left homeless.”

For the moment, however, the ruling party has not commented on the donations that Cuban emigrants are collecting in several countries, especially in the United States, Mexico and Spain. The organizers of the collection efforts fear that the General Customs Office of the Republic will not relax its strict import regulations to let the products into the Island.

On previous occasions, the Plaza of the Revolution has preferred to appeal for the help of other ideologically aligned governments, such as Venezuela, Bolivia or Russia, but has rejected aid from international organizations and exiles.

The damage left by the tornado last Sunday has occurred at a time of extreme fragility of the Cuban economy. The country has a chronic lack of liquidity for buying abroad, has accumulated debts and has deepening shortages of basic products within its borders.

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.

The Stain of the Torches

Official government march yesterday, for the birth of José Martí. (MiguelDiazCanelB)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Henry Constantin, Camagüey, 29 January 2019 — I did not believe it, I could not believe that they were capable of such selfishness. Our unelected government began its annual torch march in Havana, one day after the tornado had passed.

It is not a march to pick up debris, nor to bring help to people who lost their belongings in the tornado (although they tried to apologize by promising that they will do it, not today, but the next day); it is not a march of solidarity and compassion with the Cubans who today are sleeping in anguish: it is a march of insensitive politicking. And it is not for José Martí, don’t try to deceive us, he would never have prioritized his birthday nor the cult to himself or any deceased caudillo (Fidel Castro) over the tribulations of his people. continue reading

The march serves to remind us that in Cuba politicking is still the priority of the higher-up officials, to the point that they prefer to maintain an expensive parade (how many official vehicles are currently burning the people’s fuel? how many security agents needed to protect the well-known, how much electricity used so there is light and sound for the choreography?, how many press teams are active to cover a ritual that, in the end, doesn’t even touch the edge of the heart of almost anyone in Cuba?).

A few kilometers from the march there are dozens, hundreds of families having a terrible time, without electricity, with injured relatives or destroyed property, surrounded by debris and shortages, and half of those with torches and the wasted resources would have helped them quite a bit. If not to recover their lost belongings, at least to have faith yes, which is the essential thing that people need to make it to the next day.

I admit that yesterday I had to keep quiet. Diaz-Canel immediately appeared in the affected areas, I do not know if it was heartfelt or because it is stipulated by his job responsibilities, God knows. But the image of a leader in pain seeing the suffering of his people did not last long.

Now he is posing among the scenes of the march, by obedience or insensibility, or maybe both; the unelected president with his also unelected boss, and the two freshly-bathed, recently having dined, with their unaffected homes, their happy families and their quiet smiles, because they lost nothing. It is true that, in the end, they do not owe anything to those people the tornado affected: none voted for them for president or anything else.

Let’s see if the people who are suffering find out about it, that Cubans are not worth much to those who are on top — and if they are worth it, it is not when they are in trouble, but when they march obediently — and hopefully they will make it clear in the circus-like referendum of February 24, with anything but the false Yes vote that many plan to mark on the ballot with the same inertia with which they marched today [on Monday] for Martí and the other one (Fidel), then go marching the following day for a visa or to cross a frontier.

If the tornado does not make those still in charge prioritize Cubans in their agenda, at least it will help us to give back to them the lack of importance they give us. Because at the end of a day of pain in so many Cuban homes, what the authorities have done in Havana is not a march. It’s a stain, and one that is not easy to erase.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


Note from 14ymedio: This text was originally published in La Hora de Cuba. We reproduce it here with the permission of the author.

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 European Parliament will Recognize Guaido as President of Venezuela this Thursday

Mauren Barriga and Leonardo Muñoz, and the Spaniard Gonzalo Domínguez, detained in Caracas. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio / EFE, Brussels / Caracas | January 31, 2019 – The European Parliament will vote this Thursday on a resolution recognizing Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela after noting that Maduro “has publicly rejected the possibility of holding new presidential elections” following the European Union’s (EU) request.

Sources from the popular and socialist parties in the European Parliament, the two major parties, confirmed to EFE that they will vote in favor of this resolution, thus giving it sufficient support to pass among the parliamentarians.

“The European Parliament recognizes Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela according to the Constitution of Venezuela (…) and expresses its absolute support for his road map,” the Parliament said in a resolution that will be voted on Thursday to which EFE obtained access today. continue reading

The resolution drawn up is also enjoined by the parties of conservatives and reformers (ECR) and the liberal group (ALDE), although liberal sources suggest that some members of parliament from this group may not join.

The text also urges the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, and the EU member states to recognize Guaidó “until new and free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be held to restore democracy.”

The resolution condemns the violence and repression in Venezuela and rejects “any proposal or attempt that may involve the use of violence to resolve the crisis.”

Likewise, it also reiterates that the National Assembly is “the only legitimate democratic organism in Venezuela” and stresses that its powers “must be restored and respected,” including “the safety of its members.”

The resolution urges Mogherini to “contact the countries of the region and other key actors to create a contact group that can mediate to reach agreement to request presidential elections based on an agreed timetable, equal conditions for all actors, transparency and international observers

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, an EFE team of reporters has disappeared in Caracas after being arrested by the authorities ant, according to the president of the agency, Fernando Garea, find themselves the offices of Sebin (Venezuelan intelligence services). It concerns Colombian photographer Leonardo Muñoz, the Spanish Gonzalo Domínguez Loeda and the Colombian Maurén Barriga Vargas.

The three are part of a team that traveled from Bogotá, Colombia to cover the crisis in Venezuela.

According to EFE journalists in Caracas, members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) came tonight to the Agency’s offices, where they arrested Barriga and Dominguez and said that Muñoz had been detained by the Military Counterintelligence Directorate (DGCIM by it spanish acronym).

The Sebin agents ordered Dominguez and Barriga to accompany them to the hotel where they were staying in the Venezuelan capital in order to, according to the agents, collect their belongings, and took them away under arrest for questioning.

The director of EFE in Caracas, Nélida Fernández, along with a lawyer followed Domínguez and Barriga to the Sebin offices to try to clear up the situation with the Venezuelan authorities and obtain their release as soon as possible.

The EFE team traveled to Caracas on January 17 to help cover the Venezuelan crisis and upon arrival at the Maiquetía airport they identified themselves as journalists, upon which the intelligence, immigration and customs authorities allowed them to enter without restrictions after subjecting them to several security background checks of nearly three hours.

However, when photographer Muñoz was heading this morning to cover demonstrations against the Nicolás Maduro regime in the Caracas neighborhood of Petare, contact was lost with him and the driver who accompanied him, the Venezuelan José Salas.

For that reason, the Government of Colombia requested on Wednesday the “immediate release” of Leonardo Muñoz, whose whereabouts until recently were unknown.

The “Government of Colombia rejects the arrest in Venezuela of the Colombian national Leonardo Muñoz, photographer of the EFE Agency and demands his immediate release. We demand respect for the life of our countryman,” said Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on Twitter.

When they traveled to Caracas, the three EFE journalists had plane tickets to return to Bogotá on February 7.

Fernando Garea, in an interview with Spanish Television, has expressed concern that the time difference resulted in no news in the last hours about the situation concerning the reporters and has assured that the intention of the Venezuelan regime is to prevent witnesses from seeing what is happening

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.

Guaido’s Envoy in the United States Rejects Maduro’s Dialogue Offer

Carlos Alfredo Vecchio maintains that previous attempts to negotiate with Maduro have been futile. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio / EFE, Caracas, Washington, Brussels | January 30, 2019 – Carlos Vecchio, Juan Guaidó’s highest representative in the United States, rejected on Wednesday the offer of dialogue by the president of that country, Nicolás Maduro, considering that he seeks to “manipulate” the international community and gain “space” to continue “repressing.”

“His dialogue always seeks to manipulate, deceive, seek space, stop the political momentum and then repress. We do not agree with a dialogue that is made to deceive,” Vecchio said during a debate on Venezuela at the Atlantic Council think-tank in Washington. continue reading

Vecchio said the opposition is not “willing” to participate in the dialogue on the “terms” of the Chavista authorities and that “the only thing” they are willing to discuss is the “agenda” of Guaidó to achieve the “exit” from power of Maduro, occupant of the president’s office of Venezuela since 2013.

As justification for his response, Vecchio referred to the failure of previous attempts at dialogue, including the one that took place in 2014, after days of violent protests, and the one initiated in 2017 in the Dominican Republic with the participation, among others, of the former president of the Spanish Government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

“We are not performing an abstract analysis (…) one cannot be manipulated again by the dictatorship,” said Vecchio.

This was the initial response of the Venezuelan opposition to the offer of dialogue made by Maduro today in an interview with the Russian agency RIA Nóvosti.

Russia is prepared to participate in “international formats” of mediation to try to resolve the current situation in Venezuela, said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We are ready to participate in international efforts (mediation) in those formats that are acceptable to the Venezuelan parties”, the head of Russian diplomacy told a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Mohamed Ali al Hakim.

Maduro said he was willing to sit down with the opposition to dialogue with an open agenda about “peace and the future” of Venezuela; and also opened the door to dialogue with US President Donald Trump, in “private, in public, in the United States, in Venezuela or wherever he wants, with an open agenda.”

But the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is far from considering any proposal of this type and this Wednesday reiterated, via telephone call, his “full support” for Guaidó, the parliamentary leader explained in a message on Twitter.

“I appreciate the call of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who reiterated full support for our democratic work, commitment to humanitarian aid and the recognition of his administration of our presidency (in charge),” Guaidó wrote on his Twitter account.

US President Donald Trump had boasted shortly before that Nicolás Maduro was “willing to negotiate” with the opposition thanks to “US sanctions” on oil revenues. The leader recommended that US citizens not travel to Venezuela “until further notice”.

“Maduro is willing to negotiate with the opposition in Venezuela after US sanctions and the reduction in oil revenues,” Trump wrote in his Twitter account about the measures taken by Washington on Monday against Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

On the verge of a demonstration today called by the opposition, a new diplomatic front has been opened to Chavismo by the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who demanded Wednesday the “immediate release” of two journalists from the National Television of Chile (TVN) who were arrested on Tuesday night in Caracas. “Our Foreign Ministry is taking all the necessary steps. Freedom of the press is another of the victims in Venezuela. The peaceful solution is free and democratic elections, now,” Piñera signaled in his Twitter account.

According to TVN, journalist Rodrigo Pérez and cameraman Gonzalo Barahona were detained in the vicinity of the Miraflores presidential palace, headquarters of the Venezuelan Executive.

The National Syndicate of Press Workers (SNTP by its spanish acronym) of Venezuela denounced that, along with the Chileans, Venezuelan journalists Maiker Yriarte and Ana Rodríguez of the VPI online channel were also arrested, although these two were freed Wednesday morning.

It is believed that the journalists were covering  the vigil in defense of ruler Nicolás Maduro convened by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV by its spanish acronym) last week.

Chilean chancellor Roberto Ampuero said that Roberto Araos, charge d’affaires at the Chilean embassy in Caracas and head of the diplomatic mission in Venezuela, has been working all night to obtain the release of the press team.

Ampuero said on his Twitter account that he expects an “early release” of the detainees and added that the situation should be clarified “in the shortest possible time.”

Chile is one of the countries that has backed the president of the Venezuelan Parliament, Juan Guaidó, as the ruler in charge of Venezuela since his proclamation on January 23. On Tuesday, the government recognized Guarequena Gutiérrez, the diplomatic representative appointed by Guaidó in Chile, and welcomed him.

In Europe, where several leaders headed by the Spanish Prime Minister asked Maduro for elections within eight days, one of its main institutions, the European Parliament (Legislative) has recognized Guaidó as “sole interlocutor”, according to President Antonio Tajani

“I have spoken on the phone with President Guaidó, our only interlocutor, to assure him of the support of the European Parliament,” Tajani said at the start of the plenary session of the European Parliament held this week in Brussels. The institution cannot remain “silent”  before the latest developments in the Latin American country, said the Italian politician.

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.

"When We Left We Had No Ceiling in the Living Room, and No Walls"

Neighbors desperately wonder how they will resolve things from now on, after the destruction caused by the tornado. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 29 January 2019 – The sun invades every last corner of the houses after the tornado took everything: ceilings, walls, electric poles, street lamps, warehouses, pharmacies, schools, markets …

Entering from Luyanó Road and turning into Teresa Blanco one arrives at a disaster area. The street full of debris, water tanks, pieces of zinc covers, trees, a television, a record player, a car with a tree trunk on top, another further up overturned with the wheels facing the sky. But the tires are gone. continue reading

Rubble is thrown down from roofs and the neighbors try to delineate a safe area on the sidewalk and give a warning every time they toss down a rock. Lucinda was leaving through the front door at the same time that her neighbor was tossing a rock the size of a soccer ball off the roof. She was saved from injury by mere seconds.

The man stopped short just as he raised the stone over his head to throw it when he saw Lucinda taking short hops from her doorway to the street and heard all the neighbors scream:! Luciiiiiiiiinda!, who continued along oblivious to what might have occurred.

Entering from Luyanó Road and turning into Teresa Blanco one arrives at a disaster area. (14ymedio)

In the main streets there are policemen, ambulances, brigades from the phone company Etecsa, electricians raising utility poles, work crews cutting trees and collecting debris, but in the side streets of the affected areas of the 10 de Octubre (10th of October) municipality there was no such hustle and bustle.

Elaine sweeps the street because she does not know what else to do, she says that when she looks at her house she dies of sadness. “My father does not stop crying, he can’t get rid of the fright from last night. We were eating when everything started and, the moment we understood that the noise we heard was not from an airplane, he put us all in the bathroom. When we left we had no ceiling in the living room, and no walls,” she recalls.

The horror is evident in her facial expression. The sidewalk is full of rubble but she insists on removing the dust that falls ceaselessly from among the ruins that surround her with her broom. “We rescued the neighbor from under the wall that had fallen on top of him. After everything happened we heard a little voice saying: ’help, help’, and between my sister and I, together with other neighbors, we got him out. Luckily he did not have any injuries.”

People removed the debris from their homes in boxes one after another and threw them out on the sidewalk. (14ymedio)

Elaine takes off her handkerchief and places it back on, she puts her hands on her head and starts crying. “Now I just found out that my cousin’s husband is in a very serious condition in the hospital. He called my cell phone. He said that last night, when he was getting out of the car here on the road, a utility pole fell on his head. They already operated and everything, but he is not well”, she says while she cries relentlessly. She puts her hands on her head, she uses her handkerchief, puts it back, and continues sweeping.

From a hallway a young woman emerges holding her son by the hand, the mother carries a black bag full of clothes and the child a small basket full of plastic toys. “I’m going to my mother’s house, there’s nothing left here, I am not  picking up anything else,” the woman said as she walked down the street stopping every now and then to rest. At midday, a helicopter was flying over the area, but nobody paid attention to it.

“You’re a journalist? Come look, come in. Take a photo of my patio, my roof, everything was destroyed, this is the only part where one can stay,” and points to the ceiling. In the bodega (grocery store) on the corner nothing is left, the blue wood walls are bare. The gocer opens his arms and shows what was left of the store while opening his arms.

A school on Pedro Perna Street was left without a roof and without walls, only the bust of José Martí remained intact on one side of the courtyard. “This was Pedro Perna, now you can’t tell what it is”, responds a young man who took pictures and took notes in a notebook.

On Remedios Street, between San Luis and Delicias,  is the house of Bárbaro Ravelo Fernández.

“When the newscast was over, a very strange noise began to get louder. Luckily I was at my neighbor’s house and his daughter said: ’It must be the car that is parking.’But forget that, it was a very strange noise that grew louder. In seconds there was a roar and I went without thinking to close the window, but something threw me backwards. My neighbor had part of the ceiling fall on his arm and now it is injured and I have a blow to the head because part of the false ceiling fell on me.

“I stayed there with them, and that’s what saved me. It did not last very long, look I have seen tornadoes out in the country but never in the city. It had a very high pressure, it was very strong, in a few seconds it razed everything. My neighbor’s house is gone, mine too, Look how it smashed my television, and my record player. It busted everything, now we’ll see what happens here in order to resolve things,” he says pointing to a pile of rubble.

A mixture of solidarity and tension floats in the air. Suddenly, in one of the street corners, a group of people screams while looking at the roof of a house. It’s a quarrel between two men because the owner of the house almost killed his daughter when he was tossing debris from the roof.

They shove each other, they argue and punch while the people down below provoke them with shouts of: “hit him, punch him”. The youngest stand on the stricken cars out in the street, the elderly stand on tiptoes to look or climb up the neighboring houses.

The small houses near the church all lost their roofs, the neighbors are outside, young people playing music with their portable speakers, mothers with children in their arms, parents looking for bread and water for their children. “The church lost its cross,” one child tells another as they play ball on the esplanade in front of the church of San Juan. “Yes, look, and the horses came out to eat,” replies the other child, pointing with his finger at the grazing animals.

On the 10 de Octubre road, the destruction was also enormous. There were crews that erected utility posts, but the danger was still present on each block. The poles that remained standing swayed and sometimes seemed ready to fall. The neighbors removed the rubbish in boxes from their houses and threw them on the sidewalk, where tree limbs and broken objects were piled up.

On Monday, none of them went to work or school. No bus passed either on Luyanó road, or on 10 de Octubre. Getting in and out of there was only possible by walking.

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.

Amid the Chaos in Venezuela, Cuba has No Plans to Evacuate Its Doctors

Cuban doctors during an event in the state of Carabobo, Venezuela. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario J. Pentón / Luz Escobar, Miami / Havana, 29 January 2019 — Kept quartered in some states and working in others, the thousands of doctors that the Cuban government maintains in Venezuela await the outcome of the conflict between the president-in-charge Juan Guaidó and ruler Nicolás Maduro, without evacuation plans.

“Since Guaidó assumed office as president, they told us that we should continue working as if nothing was happening. We are scared because nobody is guaranteeing our security and the situation is deteriorating rapidly,” says a Cuban professional, who, like the rest of her colleagues, is prohibited from speaking with the press. continue reading

Several doctors who spoke with this newspaper under condition of anonymity said they were afraid of finding themselves in the middle of a crossfire if tensions lead to a civil war. “The Venezuelan army is waiting for an invasion from the United States and the criminal gangs move with total freedom,” said a general medicine specialist in Tachira who was speaking by telephone.

“In the state of Bolívar, they looted a CDI [Comprehensive Diagnostic Center] and they took all the medical equipment.” In other offices, doctors have been forced to provide emergency services to criminals and motorizados* [Chavista paramilitaries], illustrated a third doctor .

In Caracas and some other cities the doctors were ordered to remain “quartered” while the the protests last in the country. The entire mission is strictly forbidden from going out on the streets after 4:00pm and thay have been asked to limit their contact with the opposition.

Cuba maintains a contingent of 21,700 health professionals in Venezuela which will be joined in the coming days by another 2,000 doctors that Havana had taken out of Brazil after the electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro. In return, Venezuela subsidizes the oil it sends to the Island, which has been reduced to 30,000** barrels per day, according to Reuters, although other sources say it is 40,000. In addition to the doctors, Cuba has thousands of teachers, technicians, military advisers, electricians and construction workers in Venezuela.

The work of the doctors provides the Island with more than 10 billion dollars annually, according to official figures. Several countries have denounced this work as “slave labor”. The US Senate has asked the State Department to reactivate a special program to grant Parole (refugee status) to doctors fleeing missions while in Spain the Popular Party (opposition) urges the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez to grant political asylum to Cuban doctor “deserters”.

On Friday, those responsible for the medical mission in Venezuela asked the coordinators to carry out “special mornings” to demand from the doctors “discipline and firmness” in the current situation, as was made known to this newspaper by three sources. In addition, courses of “reflection and debate” were held to discuss the situation in the country.

“They have kept some of the doctors quartered in the capital for fear of reprisals. Thus far they have not informed us of a plan to withdraw if Maduro leaves power,” said one doctor, who also recalled that Cuba had maintained all their staff in Venezuela even during “the coup against Chávez in 2002”.

The interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, said on Friday that Cubans “are welcome” in the country,” but demanded that they end their interference in “the armed forces and decision-making positions.”

On the island, relatives and friends of the Cuban professionals say they are worried because they have no information about what is happening in Venezuela.

“The only thing we know is what is seen in Telesur and what is said on Cuban television, that there is an attempted coup d’état and that the collaborators are doing fine,” said Joanna, daughter of a “collaborator”, via telephone from eastern Cuba.

Doctors in Venezuela also lack information about what is happening in the country.

“The internet is lousy, extremely slow, in the mission we are only allowed to view Telesur and the newscasts from Cuba. I have bought few things, in case we have to flee, but until now we have not been informed of any contingency plan” explains one of the doctors interviewed in the state of Carabobo.

Translator’s notes:
*”Moto” (from motor[cycle]) is a word for a motorbike or motorcycle; “motorizado” (“motorized”) is a reference to the paramilitaries who ride them.
**Down from a previous 100,000 barrels

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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Cuba’s Political Police Threaten the Organizers of an LGBT "Kiss-In"

Despite police pressure, on Sunday some activists arrived in front of the church. (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2019 — A “Kiss-In” organized by the LGBT community last Saturday, in front of an evangelical church on 25th and K streets in Havana, ended with several activists and independent journalists threatened by the political police, according to reports that reached the editorial office of 14ymedio.

State Security threatened to expel Jancel Moreno, a medical student and one of the activists who launched the call on social media, from the university if he attended the public action. “I was threatened with my career, telling me I could be arrested,” he explained.

On Friday night, two State Security officials told the 19-year-old that the counterrevolution was looking to “put on a show” with the Kiss-In and that he could end up being arrested if “the police arrive and pick up everyone.” continue reading

Other activists and a journalist from this newspaper also received threats from the political police to not approach the place of the event. “If you go, you’ll spend all day at a police station,” a State Security official assured the reporter.

The Kiss-In is part of a campaign to reject the actions of various religious denominations against same-sex marriage in Cuba. Evangelical groups have organized marches and distributed propaganda of support for the “original design of the family.”

Despite police pressures, on Sunday some activists arrived in front of the church. Among them was the designer Roberto Ramos Mori, who took a photograph with two other friends a few meters from the entrance. “There was a police operation and a lot of cars, but no one messed with us,” he told this newspaper.

A police operation was maintained throughout the weekend in the vicinity of the church and, as told to 14ymedio by some neighbors, the atmosphere “was tense.”

The trigger for this initiative was the publication in social media of a music video produced by the church with a strong homophobic aspect. The audiovisual was denounced on Facebook by LGBT groups that consider its content as inciting hatred.

Ramos Mori believes that when the song calls to extract “evil, yes, but by the root” it promotes violent actions, a message reinforced because “while stating that phrase the singer runs his hand across his neck as a threatening sign.”

Towards the end of last year, on the eve of the National Assembly approving the draft of the new constitution, a score of Protestant churches came together to sign a document where they stated their position on marriage between people of the same sex.

The evangelicals affirmed in their declaration that “the family, as the word of God teaches, is a divine institution through marriage as the exclusive union between a man and a woman.” They also alleged that “equal marriage is totally incompatible with the thinking of the Fathers of our country.” Finally the religious group managed to collect 180,000 signatures in opposition to Article 68 in their places of worship.

The National Assembly did not approve the inclusion of the controversial Article in the proposal for the new constitution, yet another reason that LGBT activists have found to mobilize before a scenario they consider unfavorable for that community.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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The Tornado Has Come and Gone but How Long Will it Take to Fix This

The Luyanó neighborhood, one of the most affected by the tornado. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 January 2019 — As soon as the first rays of the sun appeared, the inhabitants of Havana began to understand the magnitude of the damage caused by a tornado that crossed several areas of the capital and so far has left three fatalities and more than 170 injured. Havana is paralyzed and without electricity. Complete neighborhoods are cut off from access to roads.

In the year in which the 500th anniversary of the founding of the town of San Cristóbal de La Habana will be commemorated, the tornado wind gusts have caused considerable damage to the homes in Regla, Guanabacoa, Luyanó, Lawton and other areas of the municipality October 10th. All these neighborhoods stand out for the deteriorated state of their buildings, some dating from the nineteenth or early twentieth century. continue reading

In many parts of the city fallen trees have cutoff access to streets and sidewalks.(14ymedio)

Evelio, resident of Maia Rodríguez Street, in La Víbora, woke up in the middle of the night because of the noise made by the wind. “When I looked outside, everything was chaotic and my car was heavily damaged by a branch that fell on it and other objects that flew and broke the windshield and several side windows,” he told this newspaper.

He fears that the insurance on the vehicle won’t cover the damage caused. “It’s an insurance that reimburses in national currency and everyone here knows that to repair a car you have to use convertible currency,” he says. The car is valued in the informal market at 25,000 CUC (roughly equal to $25,000 US), but Evelio fears that, if the insurance does pay something, “it will not be enough to even buy a new tire.”

In the social media, several Cubans living abroad have asked the General Customs Office of the Republic to allow more flexibility in the rules regarding personal importations in order to send aid to affected relatives and friends on the island. Others have demanded the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa) lower the price of calls so that the citizens of Havana can speak with their relatives abroad.

In Luyanó neighbors have joined forces to start clearing the rubble from the streets. (14ymedio)

However, so far the authorities have not articulated a position on these demands and  neither has there been a call, from the Government, for a collection of aid for the victims.

Luyanó, in the municipality of 10 de Octubre (10th of October), took one of the worst hits in the destruction left by the tornado. A helicopter was flying over the neighborhood at noon on Monday, where neighbors were trying to clean up debris inside homes, on the rooftops and on the roads.

Numerous wooden facades, typical of the area, had been reduced to pieces and in the streets many people waited for the arrival of aid, especially water and food. According to the Institute of Meteorology, the extratropical low that reached the western region of the island Sunday had wind gusts of over 100 kilometers per hour and was accompanied by hail.

Tons of rubble and tree limbs fill the streets of Regla. (14ymedio)

“This is the most terrifying thing I have lived through in my 82 years,” says Lidia, whose house was damaged by the fall of a tree limb that broke the water tank on the roof and broke off a window. Now the main concern of the retiree is “to have water and food, because all the bakeries were closed in the morning and I have not been able to even eat breakfast”.

The Cuban capital has experienced a severe shortage of basic products such as flour, oil and eggs in recent weeks that has complicated the domestic economy. Now, with the devastation left by the intense storm, fear has spread among the inhabitants of the capital city that the situation could get worse.

Leonor, another resident of Luyanó, recalls Sunday night as one of the worst of her life. “We were watching the news, coincidentally the weather report, when we felt a noise like an airplane and some yellow lights,” she tells this newspaper. The woman tried to close the doors and windows but was unable to due to the the force of the wind.

“The tornado has come and gone but now how long will it take to fix this,” she asks herself, relieved and worried at the same time.

Doris, a resident of San Jose Street, between Remedios and Quiroga, described the noise that the tornado produced “like a train crash.” In her house “everything shook and the doors of the display case shut by themselves,” she now recalls in one of the areas most punished by the wind gusts.

In Doris’ block several neighbors rescued a man whose house collapsed. “We took him out from under the rubble with the back of the chair around his head” and, although he was hurt, his injuries were not serious. The woman explains that the pipeline that supplies gas “broke but they have not disconnected the service” and, despite several calls to the state company, nobody has arrived to repair the problem.

In Regla, at the end of Havana Bay, the neighbors this morning crowded the polyclinic of the area to take advantage of electricity, supplied by a group of generators, to charge their mobiles and communicate. Several state stores disposed of the last of their merchandise for fear that the lack of refrigeration would damage the products.

The main damages are in the peripheral districts of Regla, with many trees and downed power poles. All the testimonies collected by this newspaper assure that the tornado lasted less than a minute and that it did not allow time to react.

Throughout the day the neighbors have shown their solidarity with the victims, helping to repair the damages without anyone having to ask them to mobilize.

The lines to buy food extended out in front of the few shops that are open in town, especially to buy bread, crackers and eggs. In the streets there is a large presence of police, along with the frantic movement of trucks and motorized equipment for removal of the debris.

Matilde, a neighbor of the La Colonia quarter, tells 14ymedio that she was already in bed when she heard a noise “like the howl of a monster”. She went out to look and immediately heard a noise behind her because her house had collapsed in the wind. She is now out on the streets and some neighbors have helped her with a little coffee and words of encouragement.

This is one of the worst natural disasters that Havana has suffered in recent years.

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.

Venezuela Will Not Host the 2019 Caribbean Series

The Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation will announce in a few hours the new site for the tournament, which will be delayed by two days.(Efecto Cocuyo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 January 2019 — The 2019 Caribbean Series, which was to be played in Barquisimeto (Venezuela) next week, will be held “in an alternate venue.” The decision was made by the Commissioner of the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (CBPC by its Spanish acronym), who reported on Sunday that the resolution is “official” and irrevocable.

Three of the four full members of the CBPC voted to withdraw the series from Venezuela, with the only opposing vote cast by the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (LVBP by its spanish acronym). continue reading

The organization based the decision on three reasons, the first of which is the information provided by the Venezuelan executive, in which a state of “usurpation of powers” as well as “acts of a foreign enemy, hostilities and coup d’etat” is being experienced. These facts, the CBPC argues, “are outside the control or influence” of the LVBP and the organizing committee of the event.

Another of the reasons given by the Confederation is the rupture of relations between Venezuela and the United States, which makes it impossible to “obtain visas to Venezuela for US citizens who  form a major part of the teams that will eventually participate.”

Finally, and also as a consequence of the above, the recommendation that Major League Baseball (MLB) officially made to its affiliated players “not to remain in Venezuelan territory, compromises the participation of a large majority of players,” the statement said.

The organization recognized the “enormous effort” the Venezuelan league and the organizing committee have made to date, and said they did not make this decision before conducting “the deepest analysis of its impact and consequences” for professional baseball in Venezuela and all the leagues that are members of the Caribbean Confederation.

The organization also confirmed a slight delay with respect to the dates of the tournament, now scheduled for February 4-9, instead of the originally scheduled  February 2-8. The Venezuelan champions of the 2018-2019 season, the Lara Cardinals, will be unable to play in the sporting event on their home turf.

The new venue for the event and details of the game dates, the competitors and the schedule format will be announced in a few hours at a press conference. Some of the options under consideration are Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia or Panama.

The announcement coincides with the one made by the Cuban baseball authorities, which offered Sunday to host the Caribbean Series venue in 2020 or 2021, if it achieves approval as a full member of the CBPC.

During the act of presenting the flag to the group of players that will represent the Island in the upcoming 2019 Caribbean Series, the president of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB by its Spanish acronym), Higinio Vélez, said that after attending as an invited guest five editions of the event Cuba will reiterate its request to join the CBPC.

Velez said that there is no longer any impediment for Cuba to gain membership at the next meeting of the CBPC after the signing of the agreement between the FCB and the Major League Baseball on December 19.

Cuba was one of the founding nations of the Caribbean Series in 1949, when its club, Almendares, was crowned champion, the first of eight titles, seven in the period from 1949 to 1960, and another in 2014 after its return to the series as a guest nation.

This year, the Island will participate in the Series with a selection made up of members of the Leñadores de Las Tunas (Las Tunas Lumberjacks) team — winner of the just concluded national championship — reinforced with players from other squads.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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Cubans Who are Abroad for Personal Reasons Will Not be Able to Vote in the Referendum

The February 24th referendum ballot was shown on Thursday in the television program Mesa Redonda (The Roundtable). (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 January 2019 – Cubans residing on the Island who are away from the national territory on February 24 will not be able to exercise their right to vote in the constitutional referendum, unless they are fulfilling an official mission of the Government, according to several officials who confirmed it this Thursday in the Cuban television program Mesa Redonda (The Roundtable).

“For the individuals who are fulfilling an official mission abroad, it is impossible for them to travel to Cuba and vote in their places of residence, as this would mean that they would no longer perform the functions for which they were appointed,” said Marcos Fermín Rodríguez Costa, President of the Special Electoral Commission of the MINREX. continue reading

The Minrex has organized 122 Electoral Commissions Districts that will manage the process in each country where Cuban personnel work and 1,051 polling stations will be deployed. The process will be carried out in advance, on February 16 and 17, to guarantee the countng of these ballots on the same date as the voting on the Island.

Alina Balseiro, President of the National Electoral Commission (CEN by its spanish acronym), stressed that in the electoral stations abroad specifically “Cuban diplomats, all Cuban collaborators abroad, Cuban scholars in those countries and citizens who are fulfilling official missions” will vote.

Significantly, she reiterated the scenario that Cubans residing in the country who are traveling abroad for personal reasons can only exercise their right to vote in Cuban territory on February 24. She was referring to the thousands of citizens who have left Cuba after February 24, 2017 and who, having not exceeded the 24 months established by the immigration law, keep intact all their rights as Cuban citizens.

These restrictions make it impossible to vote for those Cubans who are studying abroad apart from the national education system, those who have left to buy goods overseas or those who are receiving medical treatment abroad.

A protest march of Cuban citizens living outside the island proposed for January 26 in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington and other countries will demand the right to participate in the referendum.

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.

Papua New Guinea Prepares to Receive the Assistance of Cuban Doctors

A group of Cuban doctors will travel to Papua New Guinea, one of the nations in the Pacific region with the most precarious infrastructure. (OPS)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Sydney, 25 January 2019 — The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, said a group of Cuban doctors will arrive in his country to help improve the health services systems, in an interview published this Friday.

“The diseases are not confined to a single area or a region, we need doctors all over the country,” O’Neill told the Papuan newspaper, The National, specifying that the Ministry of Health’s approval of the recruitment process is pending. continue reading

The arrival of the doctors is contemplated by virtue of a memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 between O’Neill and the former president, Raúl Castro, to provide assistance in training, medical research, technology and medical tools, financing, infrastructure, among other matters.

Papua New Guinea, a nation that gained its independence from Australia in 1975 and currently has more than 8 million inhabitants, has the most precarious infrastructure in the region, as well as a fragile healthcare system that must deal with a high incidence of polio, malaria and tuberculosis.

Its infant mortality and malnutrition rates are among the highest in the Pacific region, in addition to having little access to water sources, sanitation infrastructure and hygiene services, among other problems.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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Pure Burlesque Theater / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso,24 January 2019 — Around the vote “Yes” campaign in the upcoming referendum, the government has unleashed demented propaganda, which tries to influence citizens to comply with their wishes. The absurdity reaches the point that, even when it is assumed that the vote “is individual and secret”, the “characters” interviewed and presented in the official media declare without equivocation and without the slightest shame that “they will vote Yes”, leaving aside these rights. In addition, the vote in the referendum, which should be Yes or No for the Constitution, has turned it into the vote “for the Homeland”, “for socialism”, “for the Revolution”, etc., changing its meaning completely.

We know that the referendum, like the Constitution approved “unanimously” by the National Assembly of People’s Power, constitutes a farce, one of the many that we have by now grown accustomed to, to keep us entertained and make us believe that the “system” is irrevocable and eternal, which constitutes sovereign nonsense negated by history, which shows that everything changes sooner or later. continue reading

This referendum replaces the carnival celebrations that were traditionally celebrated during February, which were moved to July by the work and grace of the “supreme maker” since disappeared [Fidel Castro], although the official media ridiculously pretends to keep him alive.

It seems 2019 will be lavish in the works of this theater of the burlesque, taking into account the string of laws that will have to be elaborated and approved, to apply what is already established in the Constitution.

Of course, in terms of economic development, of solutions to the problems that have piled up during six decades and in the improvement in the standard of living for the citizens, it will be even more disastrous than in 2018.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria