United States Reduces the Alert Level for Travel to Cuba

The US embassy in Havana continues to staff at minimum levels after the evacuation of its non-essential personnel. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | 23 August 2018 – The United States on Thursday reduced the alert level for travel to Cuba, a surprise decision after relations between both countries were frozen after the mysterious “sonic attacks” suffered by 26 US diplomats in Havana, reports the Nuevo Herald.

Cuba is now found in category 2, which recommends exercising caution due to attacks directed against employees of the US embassy in Havana. At the end of September, the State Department had placed the island in category 3, recommending that Americans “reconsider” a trip to the Greater of the Antilles.

After the departure of 60% of the US diplomatic personnel deployed in Cuba and the reduction in the services of the embassy, relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly. The United States accuses the island of knowing who is behind the alleged attack on 26 of its diplomats, while Cuban authorities say it is a pretext to derail the process of reestablishing relations undertaken under the previous administration. continue reading

The Cuban economy has been affected in the past year by the fall in the number of tourists visiting the country, which dropped by 5.67% according to official figures. President Donald Trump in June of last year toughened the conditions for Americans visiting the neighboring country, so that their travel to Cuba fell by 23.6%.

The Havana Consulting Group, a company specializing in analyzing the Cuban economy, considers that the first half of 2018 has been “traumatic and devastating” for the Cuban tourist industry due to the combination of “countless accumulated unresolved problems,” among them the low influx of tourists from the USA.

According to Orna Blum, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, the change to level 2 was due to a new assessment of the risk of traveling to Cuba.

“The Department conducted a comprehensive risk assessment for US private citizen travelers in Cuba and decided that a Level 2 travel alert was appropriate,” the spokeswoman told the Nuevo Herald.

The United States reiterated that it does not yet know the weapon used to harm its officials or what country or group is behind the alleged attacks.

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.

Every Effort Against the Dictatorship Seems to Me Appropriate and Inevitable / Ángel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban, 12 May 2018 — Every effort against the dictatorship seems appropriate and inevitable to me. I believe fervently that in all of them is the pushback on the wall of dictatorship; but the actual reality does not lie there, at this stage of the championship contest we can’t believe in siren songs.

In particular, I believe in all of the opponents, in the Ladies in White, in Rosa María Paya, whom I respect and admire, in Antonio Rodiles, in Guillermo Fariña, UNPACU, Antúnez and all the others, just to mention those that come to mind now. continue reading

What I don’t believe is in the regime, in that some opponent can count on the Castros and his minions compromising and accepting any exigency that does not include them.

It is simply about agreeing or not, with one or more projects. I think it is unnecessary that five years can pass by only for them to tell us, this is not the way, we better rectify it.

From now on, and we see it in the example of Venezuela where Cuba is the ideologist, they won’t permit anything. The demand it seems to me, must be direct: that the regime abandon power and allow the road to a democracy where the people are the ones who govern. Accept that they will not be actors in that transition, and that it can only be achieved, of course, with pressure from the concert of nations.

By then we will have saved several years, that our generation has already missed, to see if we can have the experience of freedom in our beloved islands that make up the Cuban archipelago.

Hopefully the opponents who are leaders of projects will sit down to talk and find a roadmap, between all of them, the best path, the most united, in time and in form, as to what the dictatorship needs in order to leave power. This is like religion, each one contains a little bit of truth, of reasons and needs, none alone has all the answers and all the knowledge.

And for that I think that the artists and intellectuals should have an active role. As you well know, no political movement has been achieved without a prior cultural movement of art and of developed thought. I lend my voice so that it can be achieved.

About the author

Ángel Santiesteban

(Havana, 1966). Graduated in Film Direction, resides in Havana, Cuba. Mention in the Juan Rulfo contest (1989), National Prize of the Writers Guild UNEAC (1995). The book: Sueño de un día de verano [Dream of a Summer Day], was published in 1998. In 1999 he won the César Galeano award. And in 2001, the Alejo Carpentier Prize organized by the Cuban Book Institute with the set of stories: Los hijos que nadie quiso [The Children Nobody Wanted]. In 2006, he won the Casa de las Américas prize in the story genre with the book: Dichosos los que lloran [Blessed are Those Who Mourn]. In 2013, he won the Franz Kafka International Novels of the Drawer Prize, organized in the Czech Republic with the novel El verano en que Dios dormía [The Summer God Slept]. He has published in Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, China, England, Dominican Republic, France, USA, Colombia, Portugal, Martinique, Italy, Canada, among other countries.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

ETECSA Performs Another Test of Mobile Internet but Limits it to 70 Megabytes per User

Two women connecting to the state WIFI network. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 August 2018 – The Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA), this Wednesday, is carrying out another test of Internet browsing on mobile phones but, unlike the prior one that was unlimited, this time users can only consume one package of 70 non-renewable megabytes, according to the state monopoly.

From eight in the morning until midnight today, customers have “access to the Internet for prepaid cellular services,” a statement from ETECSA indicated. “During the period of time foreseen for the test, it may be partially or complete stopped depending on the behavior of the network and the adjustments of technical parameters that are being evaluated,” the text adds.

In the first test, this past week, customers complained about the excessive slowness of web browsing from mobile phones, the constant crashes and the lack of prior notification. continue reading

The company clarifies on this occasion that “those customers who use email from their cell phones should consider that their use of the email will count against any remaining limits in their active accounts.”

The connection this Wednesday has been marked by slowness, frequent loss of the data signal and congestion in the service, despite the fact that, like the prior test, a pre-announcement was not made in the national media. Users can barely check their email accounts, use chat services and social networks such as Telegram or Facebook but are unable to play videos online or download applications.

On August 14 ETECSA ran the first public test of internet access from mobile phones, which includes some 800,000 users. The prices for connecting at public wifi points (equivalent to one dollar per hour) and in homes (between 15 and 70 dollars for a 30-hour package) are still very expensive for Cubans, whose salaries average the equivalent of 30 dollars a month.

Results of an internet “Speed Test” during Etecsa’s test on Wednesday of internet-by-mobile connections. (14ymedio)

As information about the test spread and a larger number of people  began using the data package, the connection became slower and access to the MiCubacel portal became almost impossible. “In the middle of the morning I was able to download a small app from the Google Play store but after noon I couldn’t even open my Gmail account,” lamented Brandon, a 17-year-old who found out because a friend called him from Trinidad and Tobago to tell him that he had read about the test on the internet.

Some users in Sancti Spíritus told this newspaper that they had been able to make video calls through the IMO in the morning and others in Havana also confirmed the information although “with avery low quality image.”

The 70 megabyte package can be acquired by dialing *133 #, then following the menu and selecting the appropriate option number: Data (1), Daily Use (2) and Send (1) and also by accessing the MiCubacel portal (https://mi.cubacel.net) after registering as a user.

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.

An Alliance is Created to Denounce the Violations of Human Rights in Cuba

Tomás Regalado, Director of the Office of Transmissions to Cuba, during a press conference this morning in Miami. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario J. Pentón, Miami | August 14, 2018 – Radio and TV Martí together with the non-governmental organization Freedom House launched a campaign on Tuesday that will aim to disseminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as setting up a telephone number to receive complaints from Cuba.

“If you feel that your rights have been violated, denounce it on our human rights line. Call +1 305 437 7301. You’re not alone” says one of the promotional messages that will be broadcast on Radio and TV Martí, presented by Tomás Regalado, former mayor of Miami and current director of the station.

“We have seen an extraordinary upsurge in the violation of human rights,” added Regalado, who directly ordered Los Martí journalists to process the complaints received from Cuba. continue reading

“Through our network of correspondents on the island, those of the opposition and this hot line, human rights violations will be exposed. The News Department will dedicate itself to verify in a reliable way the denunciations and then present them  to Freedom House”, explained the official.

Carlos Ponce, director of Freedom House for Latin America, considered the alliance with Los Martí “a golden opportunity” that will promote the “Cuban, know your human rights” campaign.

“Every time the regime feels weak, it increases the repression of human rights,” he said.

For Ponce, the Cuban government infringes on their citizens “most basic rights”, such as educational freedom and political rights. “It is time for people to open their eyes so that Cuba not continue being the same old story that people no longer want to see,” he added.

“With this strategic alliance we will be able to bring a number of significant complaints to international organizations and give visibility to what is happening on the island,” he said.

In statements to 14ymedio, Ponce lamented that media coverage of human rights violations often focuses on Venezuela and Nicaragua, with no references to Cuba.

“Unfortunately the media has turned a blind eye to the situation in Cuba. The root of evil in Latin America is a dictatorial regime that with impunity continues to operate in the region,” he said.

“Cuba is a dictatorship that influences other countries, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, in order to leach on them, prop up their regimes and destroy democratic systems. We call on all Cubans to denounce the violations of their rights,” he added.

Radio and TV Martí bet on reaching more Cubans with new technologies

According to statements from Tomás Regalado, director of the Office of Transmissions to Cuba (OCB) of the US Government, the coming months will see a substantial increase in the number of Cubans who can listen to the station or watch the television programs of Los Martí.

Regalado recently announced the addition of a new frequency for radial transmissions at 11860 kHz. “In short wave we had three frequencies and the regime managed to block one or sometimes two frequencies. With three we have the means to be immune to their blockade,” remarked the newly appointed director to 14ymedio.

For its part, a new type of technology, whose technical details have not yet been made known, will make it possible for TV Martí to be seen on the Island, according to its directors. “It is a novel technology that will allow what we call the Martí Communities to establish themselves,” explained Regalado.

At the moment there are more than 200 of these devices on the island and several communities of neighbors who can watch the TV Martí signal, the former mayor told the local media in Miami. According to him, it is impossible for the Government of Havana to track the signal of the devices, a concern of many activists who fear the sentences that can be faced by “counterrevolutionaries.”

“In the Cuban penal code there are criminal forms that put these people (who are part of the Martí communities) in danger, but the people defy it. The most important guarantee is that the Government does not know where the signal is shared,” explained Regalado.

“The regime can interfere with the output signal of the equipment but not the one that enters (input). It is immune to being detected,” he said.

The appliance that will allow TV Martí to be seen on the Island was designed by Cuban engineers on the Island and in South Florida. Regalado will present the results of this new technology at the beginning of September at an event of the Board of Governors of Radiodifusión, the federal entity in charge of Radio and TV Martí.

The Cuban Government has made a particular effort to block the Marti signal and accuses the United States of violating international radio broadcasting agreements by allowing and financing the stations. During the administration of Barack Obama, which promoted the thaw with the island, Cuba took the opportunity to demand the dismantling of these communication media.

Radio Martí began broadcasting its signal to Cuba in 1985 under the government of Ronald Reagan. In the early nineties, TV Martí followed and the Martí Noticias portal appeared with the digital era. This year the budget allocated by the US Congress to both broadcasters will exceed 28 million dollars.

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.

Dead Animals, Feces and Plastics Envelop the Quibu River as it Passes Through Havana

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 17 August 2018 – “River Quibú, nobody washes on your shores,” the singer Frank Delgado chanted in the eighties. Three decades later the panorama has not improved around the river that crosses the western neighborhoods of Havana.

The neighbors denounce a delicate epidemiological and ecological situation caused by the great accumulation of solid waste that washes down the river.

“You can find anything from a floating dead pig to cupboards, chairs, tables or feces when there is flood,” says an inhabitant from the lower part of the basin, very close to the coastal area. continue reading

Along its route, the locals tell 14ymedio, the river collects several drainages and the garbage that people throw in. In addition, they assure that a project that began in 2006 to expand the mouth of the river and avoid floods “has not been finished” and is no longer talked about.

Some of the neighbors insist on the need to return to the idea of dredging to avoid the accumulation of garbage and assure that each year this matter is brought up to different institutions and responsible bodies, as well as being a recurring issue in the community’s “accountability assemblies” where the elected deputies offer residents a report on the year’s accomplishments.

The biologist Isbel Díaz says that “there is no project to sanitize the river in an integral way” and, although in some places sanitation works are carried out, this does not “mean anything when the river enters the city.” For Díaz, the fact that there is no project with this objective has to do with the fact that the waters flow “through a place that is one of the least privileged” and that “are further away from the tourist’s eye.”

The Quibú river basin is located within the City of Havana and passes through the municipalities of Marianao, Playa, La Lisa and Boyeros, including 16 People’s Councils which, in most cases, are made up of populations in very precarious economic situations, like the neighborhoods of Siboney, Buena Vista, Zamora, Santa Felicia, Pogolotti, Balcony of the Lisa, San Agustín, Heights of the Lisa, El Cano and Wajay.

In accordance with some scientific studies undertaken in the last decade, the main economic activities carried out in its surroundings are related to agriculture and scientific research. According to several university studies by the University of Havana, the environmental problems of Quibú have been evaluated as “of great importance” and the river is considered one of the most polluted in the city.

A UH master’s thesis on coastal zone management, published by Edgar Alexander Amaya Vasquez in 2015, argues that the origin of pollution in the Quibú basin is of both domestic and industrial origin, among the latter it mentioned the presence of heavy metals, detergents, pesticides, oils and petrochemicals. The contamination of the river, whose level is higher than that established by the Cuban Standard of Sanitary Quality, extends to a large part of the coastal zone, frequently used by bathers.

Inhabitants of the river bank tell of frequent mosquito outbreaks and that many people have already been infected with diseases such as zika or dengue. “The patios are full of mosquitoes and mice, you have to always have poison traps because if you don’t they get inside the house,” they say. Near the mouth of the river, all kinds of solid waste, jars and plastic bags, as well as old shoes accumulate on its shores, an ideal scenario for the proliferation of insects and rodents.

Díaz warns that, although the river water is not potable, it is used for other purposes such as agriculture, so that pollution can reach “the digestive system of the human being in an indirect way.”

In February 2017, the Law on Terrestrial Waters in Cuba came into effect, regulating, among other issues, the dumping of liquid and solid waste in the waters of the country, but the impact this legislation has had on the environment has yet to be evaluated.

This newspaper has not found a single person or company that has been fined for dumping waste or untreated waste into the river, which has contributed to creating a situation of impunity for those responsible for the contamination.

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.

Informative Note about Detained Members / Somos+

Somos+, 18 August 2018 — The Executive Council has been able to contact the six members of our movement who had been arbitrarily detained by the State Security in Puerto Padre, province of Las Tunas. All have been released and are in their respective homes.

We are deeply grateful to all our members for their solidarity, and to the honorable and exceptional instances of journalists, influencers and members of other political projects that responded on behalf of our representatives during these days. continue reading

  • In our initial contact, these brave men and women have expressed firmness in their decision to stay in our movement and the certainty that nothing will make them bow down.

As we have already reported, their phones, a video camera, as well as the money provided for their travel expenses and performance of their duties, were confiscated

Repressive actions against Somos + is increasing, but no obstacle will stop us.

Executive Council

Political Movement S+

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Another Another Cuban Physician from the Mais Medicos Mission Dies in Brazil

The Cuban doctor Ramón Domínguez Rivera. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, August 18, 2018 – Cuban doctor Ramón Domínguez Rivera, originally from the province of Pinar del Río, who was on assignment in Brazil, died on August 16, as reported by his Medical Brigade. Dominguez Rivera worked in Melgaço, Pará state. His body was found three days after he disappeared, according to the local press. One of the heads of Mais Medicos, Lizander Rubio, said on Facebook that the cause of death could be “a cardiovascular condition.”

Some of Dominguez Rivera’s colleagues expressed their grief on the loss of the doctor in social networks. Guillermo Fernández Maqueira stressed the generosity of the deceased. “I know that many of us will remember you, those of us who shared a meal with you, those of us who shared clothes and shoes in the dormitory in order to go out with our girlfriend at night,” he wrote. continue reading

According to data compiled by 14ymedio, this is the fifth Cuban doctor that has died in the last four months in the mission deployed in Brazil. In April, Guantanamo native Adrián Reyes Valverde was killed in a motorcycle accident in the municipality of Babaçulândia. A few days later physician Jorge Alberto Borrego died in the crash of the Cubana de Aviación flight last May in Havana.

Luis Alberto Martínez Vila, 29, died last month in a car accident near the city of Redenção, in the state of Pará, and Yanier Samón De Hombre, 32, died after a bout of severe abdominal pain two weeks ago.

Official media rarely report the deaths of any Cuban aid workers abroad.

More than 18,000 Cuban doctors have passed through Brazil since the two governments created the Mais Medicos program in 2013 to increase the presence of health personnel in municipalities and rural areas. After the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the number of Cuban doctors in the program has decreased. However, the figure still exceeds 8,000.

Brazil pays Havana around $3,600 per month for each doctor, who, in turn, receives only $900 from the Cuban government. Cuban professionals or their families do not receive compensation in case of accidents or death at work.

The export of medical services is one of the main sources of revenue for the island government, which maintains tens of thousands of health professionals deployed in more than 60 countries, from which it annually derives more than 11.5 billion dollars according to official figures. Human rights activists have criticized this work activity as a form of “modern slavery.”

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.

In Camaguey, Neglected Beaches in Cuban Pesos, Beautiful Beaches in Hard Currency

The most ‘democratic’ of Camagüey’s beaches suffers from a chronic neglect. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre, Camagüey | August 18, 2018 – The sun rises and dozens of bathers start to arrive at the beaches of the Bay of Nuevitas, on the north coast of the province of Camagüey. They are equipped as if for battle: food, water, sturdy shoes to deal with stones and even an improvised kit for the possibility of cuts on pieces of glass or cans. The poor conditions of the coast do not manage to cool the desire to take a dip.

The province of Camagüey has 25% of all the beaches in the archipelago but the state of the coast has been getting worse in recent years due to climate change, lack of maintenance and deterioration of infrastructure, to which is added the discharge of industrial or domestic waste. Some areas that were once a haven of peace and beauty today seem to come out of a post-war scene.

Among the extensive coastline, Nuevitas is the busiest resort because it is cheaper thanks to the “beach train” that runs in summer, from Friday to Sunday, from the city of Camagüey and arrives a few meters from the sea. continue reading

The beach train runs in summer, from Friday to Sunday, from the city of Camagüey and reaches a few meters from the sea. (14ymedio)

For low-income families this is one of the few possibilities of having a day sunbathing in front of the waves, because the most beautiful and well-kept areas, such as Santa Lucía beach, have been filled with hotels where mainly foreign visitors stay.

Getting there is expensive and complicated, so Nuevitas is a more accessible option. However, the most democratic of Camagüey’s beaches suffers from chronic neglect. The ruins of old buildings destroyed by hurricanes or abandonment dot part of the coastline and holiday makers are forced to bathe in the middle of concrete fragments, metal beams and other types of rubble (debris).

Among the beaches with the highest number of visitors Las Piedras, La Colonia and the others that extend close to the old railway line stand out, although some opt for the more distant ones such as Santa Rita and the one with better seabeds such as Varaderito, about three kilometers from the city, but which can only be accessed by a road in poor condition.

“Here it has been years that no repairs have been made nor the beach dredged,” laments Mily Marín, a local resident who takes her children to the beach. “These places do not look like the beaches I knew as a child, my children leave with wounds on their feet,” laments the mother, who recalls a childhood with a maintained coastline and denounces the institutional abandonment that the area has reached.

The industrial growth that the zone experienced during the years of Soviet subsidy made industries proliferate, among them some very polluting ones like the 10th of October Thermoelectric Company and a fertilizer factory. The damages left by strong hurricanes, such as Irma last September, have exacerbated the situation.

The rising waters have also taken space from vacationers. During the last century an increase in the average annual temperature of 0.6 ° was registered in Cuba and the average sea level has increased at a rate of 2.14 millimeters per year. At least 291 beaches in the country (84% of the total) have already been affected by these changes. The climate changes and industrial discharges are compounded by the problem of domestic waste carried to the sea by the waters of the Saramaguacán River and from places as far away as the north of the municipality of Camagüey and the plains of Sibanicú.

The neighbors of Nuevitas remember the beautiful beach before industrial waste and neglect appropriated their coastlines. This is the case of Juan, a retiree who makes a few pesos selling corn chips to holidaymakers and regrets that the bay is now invaded by a “fetid mud.” He only has one word to define the situation: “It’s a disaster.”

The authorities have been working on a project supported by the United Nations Development Program that seeks to alleviate the environmental impact in the area. “A series of results has already accrued that have repercussions not only on biodiversity, but also on the economic development and good social living of the territory,” assured the local newspaper Adelante.

The signature work of this collaboration is the so-called Malecón-Patana Rosa Naútica Complex, inaugurated at the end of last year, which includes a seawall on the coast with various recreational opportunities nearby. The work, 320 meters long, was erected partly over an old pier.

The Malecón-Patana Rosa Naútica complex, inaugurated at the end of last year, includes a wall on the coast with various recreational offers around. (14ymedio)

“It turned out very good, but the vacationers of Camagüey do not come to these places,” clarifies Pastor Yilber Durand. “They want to enjoy the beaches, which are in terrible conditions. I think it would have been better to invest all that money by improving them.”

The difference between “the beaches of the people,” as many call the coast where the Camagüeyans dip and “the beaches of the tourists” does not only lie in the quality of the maintenance they receive, in the cleanliness of their waters or in the number of houses that rent rooms for vacationers. The gastronomic offers also mark a great difference

While in Santa Lucia you can buy “almost anything […], in Nuevitas the offerings are poorer,” says Roxana, mother of two girls and resident in the city of Camagüey, who frequently visits the north coast. She has no doubt that “many sellers prefer to go to those places where customers can pay better for a sandwich, a soft drink or a fresh fruit.”

However, Roxana is happy that some private businesses remain in Nuevitas. If they were not here, “there would be very little left to enjoy, because between the dirty waters and the attention that you have to take with the garbage on the coast, at least drinking a cold juice in front of the sea is worth it.”

“We are the ones who guarantee food and drink to those who arrive from the main city, because the state offers are very scarce,” the owner of a restaurant that operates in a place leased to the State confirms to 14ymedio. The small businessman and some others plan to stay, waiting for good luck and care to return to the beaches of Nuevitas.

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.

What Rights are Affected or Restricted by Decree 349/2018? / Cubalex

T-shirts: Criminal Artist

Cubalex, 16 August 2018 — The Cuban State ,through Decree No. 349 of April 20, 2018, has deliberately adopted regressive measures without consideration or justification that disproportionately influence the exercise of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The decree limits equal access to worthy work to all people. It institutes forced labor by obliging artists to qualify with and establish links to a state institution in order to obtain remuneration for their work.

It establishes a system of retroactive censorship for cultural activities, the arts and other forms of expression, violating freedom for creative activity and the right to the full development of the human personality. It also violates the freedom of thought, belief, religion and of opinion, association and peaceful assembly. continue reading

Independent artists or those who do not have associations with the institutions of the state or groups of civil society will see themselves doubly discriminated against because their forms and means of expression are perceived by the state as a challenge, or an expression of political opinion.

It stimulates and promotes discrimination based on political opinion. It does not respond to any pressing public or social need. It does not pursue a legitimate purpose and is not compatible with the provisions, aims and objectives of international human rights law. It is not strictly necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of a democratic society.

On the contrary, it violates the principle of prior responsibilities that ensure respect for the rights or reputation of others, and the protetion of national security, the public order or health or public morals. With this decree victims are not needed, nor are affected groups or denunciations, and it does not take into account the guarantees of due process for the accused. The agents of the State will decide in a discretionary, selective and discriminatory way if any artistic manifestation promotes discrimination, violence or uses sexist, vulgar or obscene language.

Artists were not consulted before the adoption of Decree No. 349/2018 and the resolutions of the Ministry of Culture (MINCUL) that implemented this cultural policy. They are totally unprotected. They have no means to participate in the direction of public affairs nor in the process of formulation, application and adoption of public policy decisions that affect the exercise of their cultural rights.

They do not have access to effective judicial remedies or other adequate resources to obtain reparation, restitution, compensation and satisfaction or guarantees of non-duplication, in the event of possible violation of their moral and material interests. There are no mechanisms in the country to challenge this Decree in case of illegal, abusive, arbitrary, irrational or discriminatory application.

This article was first published in Cubalex.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Open Letter to All the Cuban Artists and Intellectuals

A group of artists are protesting the decree and are being repressed.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Sandra Ceballos, Havana | 14 August 2018 – Cuban artists and intellectuals have to unite. Cuban artists and intellectuals can not remain passive in the face of such ignominy and repression. In many parts of the world people have the right to disagree and demand justice, demand modifications and changes. There is also the right to demonstrate and strike. Of course, in places where there is democracy, the individual thought of man is respected.

Most of the artists and intellectuals do not agree with the entire Decree of Law 349, but they speak behind closed doors and not in public. Nevertheless,  there is a group of artists who are protesting and are being repressed, imprisoned and physically injured. They are accused of delinquency and mediocrity, a strategy that is very vulgar and pathetic; but, for the most part,  these are young intellectuals and artists who are raising their voices publicly, who are just thinking about our economic assets and properties, international events and family peace. What a shame!

Some of these artists, like Amaury Pacheco and his wife Iris (from Omni Zonafranca), have four children, live in precarious conditions and dare to defend our cause. Others like Yanelys Núñez and Luis Manuel Otero have for several years performed, exhibited and sculpted. Of course, I understand the discrimination, since he did not graduate from ISA (Higher Institute of Art), nor from San Alejandro, and therefore is not a member of the institutional guild. What a pity. Of course not a pity for him, but for the guild. Undoubtedly these artists are fighting for the right to independence of  their ideals, the right to disagree, and the right to choose, which are nothing more than human rights. continue reading

The events in the San Isidro neighborhood clearly demonstrated to the world the violence and mistreatment perpetrated by the Cuban authorities towards the artists. But something very shocking happened: the neighbors of the community came to the defense of the artists and expressed their indignation at the actions taken against them. Finally, repression generates rebellion. Violence generates violence.

If we do not unite, we will end up having to ask permission to hang our works on the walls of our homes and studios; we will have to allow the authorities to enter our houses  and take away our equipment and personal property; we will have to present projects to the authorities for approval before we can celebrate them in a  party in our homes.

It will be necessary to ask the institutions what subjects we can adress in our works, we will have to forget that the patriotic symbols represent us, we will have to look at them as something unattainable, untouchable, alien. We will have to lower our heads in order not to lose the legal status of the Creator’s Registry.

The artists that do not belong to the small institutional ghetto will end up selling pizzas or fritters, or worse, painting slogans or the antique cars seen on the streets of Havana. This is going to end very badly if we continue to allow them to mistreat those who are raising their voices for us if we do not support them.

I ask myself where are the Cuban intellectuals and artists, where is the warrior spirit that Maceo taught us, where is the solidarity and dignity of the Cubans. Until when will we be sitting on ambition and selfishness. Will we have to wait until they have died in the ditches or other “accidents”? We must go to the institutions and express our disagreement, we must sign the letter opposing Law 349 that is circulating on the internet. Do not let the authorities divide us by sowing distrust and fear amongst ourselves. Let us not allow their blackmail and threats.

If we do not unite, we will say in chorus: Happy new 1960!

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.

Venezuelan Migration Overwhelms the Region’s Borders

Venezuelans looking for work in the Brazilian city of Boa Vista. (File / EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Havana, 11 August 2018 – The pressure of migratory inflows from Venezuela on the countries of the region led Ecuador, this Wednesday, to declare a state of institutional emergency in the provinces of Garchi, Pichincha and El Oro, while in Brazil this week the authorities closed the border with its northern neighbor for 20 hours after a court order, specifically in the state of Roraima, the main gateway for Venezuelans fleeing the economic, political, and social crisis of their country.

In the case of Ecuador, a country with which Venezuela does not share a border, a statement from the Foreign Ministry indicated that “in recent days, the flow reached 4,200 entries daily”. The fear that the new Colombian president, Iván Duque, might close the border, has intensified the arrival of Venezuelan immigrants in recent days in search of a destination in the south of the continent.

In 2017, 288,005 Venezuelans entered Ecuador, a figure that is likely to be surpassed this year, judging by the crowds on the border between the two countries. continue reading

The main gateway to Ecuador is the Rumichaca pass, on the border with Colombia, totally congested in recent days. From there many of migrants move to the capital, Quito, with the intention of continuing their journey to the south and crossing into Peru, and even reaching Chile.

The state of institutional emergency will last throughout the month of August, although it could continue according to the circumstances at the border crossing points.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, it will “strengthen medical care with a greater number of doctors.” The deployment will include a group of social workers and psychologists, especially for vulnerable groups (children, adolescents and women), as well as humanitarian aid to meet primary needs.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the differences between the government of Roraima and the Federal government caused the temporary closure of the border. The lawsuit filed with a federal judge by the local authorities, who have seen about 50,000 Venezuelans arrive in the past year, was later annulled by the Federal Regional Court of the First Region.

“Closing the border means not recognizing the immigrant as equal to the Brazilian,” said the Court, while the country’s Minister of Security, Raúl Jungmann, hinted that the request for border closure suggested by the authorities of Roraima might be linked to internal political issues of that region, ahead of the elections that will be held this coming October in Brazil.

Jungmann considered, on a personal basis, that the decision to request the closure of the border may have had some “toxic interference of the elections,” which he affirmed would be “intolerable,” since “that issue can not be included in the electoral contest. ”

The minister pointed out that, since the government declared this past February a “situation of vulnerability” due to the massive influx of Venezuelans, the financial resources directed to Roraima have increased, in order to alleviate the situation.

Likewise, in cooperation with international entities, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), camps have been set up which welcome Venezuelans and a program initiated to move Venezuelans wishing to relocate to other regions of the country, through which 820 immigrants have been placed in cities such as Sao Paulo, Cuiabá, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.

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.

Diaz-Canel Visit to Manzanillo Recounted by Historian Without Mincing Words

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14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marion J Pentón, Miami, Augut 11, 2018 — On the eve of the visit to Manzanillo by Miguel Díaz-Canel at the end of June, this western city in frank decadence was subjected to special treatment. Houses were spruced up, the indigents were secluded in the psychiatric hospital, criticism was gagged, and even various ice cream flavors appeared in the unstocked state-owned ice cream parlors.

The historian Delio Orozco González dared to raise his voice and said that this visit was “prefabricated”.  His complaint earned him the censorship of a program he conducted for free on local television, Golfo Visión.

Like the child who was the only one that dared to say that the Emperor had no clothes when he thought he was dressed in invisible cloth, in the fable The Naked King [The Emperor’s New Clothes], in real life Orozco-Gonzales denounced what everybody knew but no one dared to say: that the visit by Díaz-Canel was nothing more than staged to please the new ruler. continue reading

“One thing is to show what has been accomplished by conscious and systematic work and quite another to prepare a staging with last minute touches whose sole purpose is to impress the visitor to avoid critical remarks. Unfortunately that was what was done in Manzanillo”, Orozco González wrote in a blog.

Orozco González, a well-known local historian, was unable to witness in slience the violent eviction of Mirtha Escobar Rodríguez, a physically handicapped woman who waited for Díaz-Canel in Céspedes Park to let the president know “what liars” the local leaders are.

The woman was promised 11 years ago the construction of a house, but her denunciation of alleged mismanagement in public funds for her home earned her the enmity of the local bosses. The police officers took her by force and took her first to the hospital and then to the psychiatric hospital.

“When they took her to the Celia Sánchez Manduley Hospital with very high blood pressure to give her medical treatment, they transferred her to the psychiatric hospital, as was done in the Soviet Union, to try to confuse her civic demand with dementia, the public denunciation with madness, the truth with alienation,” related Orozco González.

The historian, who is far from having a dissident position against the system, questioned the plasticity of the measures taken to receive Diaz-Canel, whom in the first hundred days of his mandate has appeared constantly in the media travelling throughout the provinces and leading meetings.

They hurriedly painted the old electoral billboards, removed the vines from the Caymari building, set up another lab in the Palace of Computing and “gathered all the homeless so that the President and his delegation would not see the sad spectacle of drunks and destitute people who swarm and sleep in our streets”.

Orozco González has worked in the Historical Archive of Manzanillo since 1990. He is also vice president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba in the territory and is a member of the Academy of History of Cuba.  Among his notable books are Manzanillo in the pen of José Martí, Presence and reception martiana in Manzanillo, Manzanillo in the 50s and Of the faithful of Manzanillo.

The decision to stop broadcasting the historian’s program, Findings, was communicated a week ago by the scriptwriter of the television program. According to Orozco González, the municipal authorities prohibited the television director from continuing to use the platform to teach. The historian has said that he will not talk to the media because for him everything has been said. “Now the censors, if they believe it, should explain their decision or simply do what they always do: not show their faces,” he added.

14ymedio made multiple attempts to contact the director of Golfo Visión, Geraldo Romero Díaz, and several journalists from the channel, but none wanted to offer comments on the matter.

It is not the first time that Golfo Visión has been in the midst of a controversy over the treatment of its workers. At the beginning of the year cameraman Raidel Tirado was fired after having suffered a traffic accident on his motorcycle and caused minor damage to the state-owned camera when he was on his way to cover the celebration for the triumph of the Los Alazanes baseball team in Granma  vs. Las Tunas.

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.