In His Quest to Save the Cuban Regime, Lopez Obrador Gives a Boost to Diaz-Canel

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, during his speech at the military parade for Independence, in the Zócalo of Mexico City. (Presidency of the Republic)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 16 September 2021 — With a speech during the military parade that commemorates the Independence of Mexico every year and a place on the stage, it was clear this Thursday the leading role that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reserved for his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Despite the words of the Mexican president a few days ago, the Cuban was not just another guest: it is the first time that a foreigner participated in this event from such a privileged place, delivering a speech on the presidential platform before the main figures of the Government.

The importance of the visit was not only noted by López Obrador, since from the moment the delegation left from the airport in Havana it was clear that it was not a routine trip. At the foot of the ladder, Raúl Castro himself, Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa, along with the ministers of the Armed Forces and the Interior, among other figures from the Cuban leadership, said goodby to him in the morning.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel appealed to the usual victimizing rhetoric. “We suffered the attacks of a multidimensional war with an opportunistically intensified criminal blockade with more than 240 measures in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, which has such dramatic costs for everything,” complained the hand-picked president, while denouncing that his government is the victim of “an aggressive campaign of hatred, misinformation, manipulation and lies mounted on the most diverse and influential digital platforms that ignore all ethical limits.” continue reading

With cries of “freedom,” “freedom for political prisoners in Cuba” and “long live free Cuba,” some twenty Cubans showed their outrage at the presence of Miguel Díaz-Canel in Mexico. (14ymedio)

López Obrador’s message did not lag behind in pointing out to his northern neighbor the ills that afflict the Island. “In all frankness, it seems bad that the United States Government uses the blockade to impede the well-being of the people of Cuba with the purpose that they, forced by necessity, have to confront their own government,” he said, and asked: “I hope President Biden, who has a lot of political sensitivity, acts with that greatness and puts an end, once and for all, to the policy of grievances towards Cuba.”

The Mexican president, also in an unprecedented gesture, spoke to the Island’s exile community, mostly in Florida. “In the search for reconciliation, the Cuban-American community must also help, putting aside electoral or partisan interests,” he declared. “We must leave resentments behind, understand the new circumstances and seek reconciliation. It is time for brotherhood and not for confrontation. As José Martí pointed out, the shock can be avoided, with the exquisite political tact that comes from the majesty of disinterest and of the sovereignty of love.” And he exclaimed, twinning both countries in the same phrase: “Long live the independence of Mexico, long live the independence of Cuba.”

“We may or may not agree with the Cuban Revolution and with its government, but having resisted 62 years without submission is an indisputable historical feat,” said López Obrador in a message that several analysts have already classified as directed to Washington and seeking another diplomatic thaw.

To this, the Cuban historian living in Mexico Rafael Rojas replied: “That maxim, unfortunately, has not been fulfilled nor has it been fulfilled in Cuba for sixty years,” he said in a tweet. “Whoever disagrees is excluded in multiple ways, from prison to exile.”

In the Cuban delegation notably was the presence of Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, Raul Castro’s former son-in-law and CEO of the military conglomerate Gaesa, which is on the list of companies sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States, and who was presented at the event as “principal advisor to the President of the Republic of Cuba.”

Meanwhile, a few yards from the Zócalo, where the ceremony was taking place, a score of Cubans gathered at the central corner of 5 de Mayo and Palma to protest the presence of Díaz-Canel.

With cries of “freedom,” “freedom for political prisoners in Cuba,” “down with Díaz-Canel” and “long live free Cuba,” they showed their outrage at López Obrador’s invitation to his Cuban counterpart to participate in the celebrations on the Mexican independence.

That same group, mostly young Cubans, said that this Friday they will again demonstrate in front of the Cuban Embassy.

Anamely Ramos, a Cuban curator and member of the San Isidro Movement, megaphone in hand, shared with those present her reasons for being outraged by this visit and gave an overview of the current situation that the Island is experiencing in the midst of the crisis and the shortage of supplies in the markets to buy food and other basic goods.

He also spoke of the repression that the Government unleashed, following the order of Díaz-Canel, against the July 11 protests on the island. “The testimonies of the people who have managed to get out of jail are terrible,” she told those present. “Cuba is not that tropical paradise where people live happily and there is social justice. Cuba is a dictatorship, a totalitarian regime that does not allow any type of individual freedom that does not allow citizen political participation.”

The young woman said “it is inadmissible” that the president of Mexico has invited Miguel Díaz-Canel to the independence celebration, whom she defined as “a dictator.” As this newspaper was able to verify, among the protesters there was a Cuban who provoked the participants by repeating slogans in favor of the Government of the Island and recording with his cell phone.

On the ground, on some posters, the protesters wrote one by one the names of the detainees of July 11th, and the songs from the last few months that have supported a change on the island, such as Patria y Vida, by Yotuel Romero, sounded from the speakers. Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Osorbo and El Funky, and Que se vayan, the most recent song by Willy Chirino .


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

Tele-Classes Begin in Cuba, Though Students’ Homes Have Neither Pencils nor Notebooks

The school year in Cuba will begin on September 6 with tele classes. (Bohemia Magazine)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana | September 02, 2021 — Four days before the school year begins, there is no trace of notebooks or pencils for the students, but there is a lot of uncertainty. This Wednesday’s Roundtable program on State TV, dedicated to the restart of classes, which will be in tele-class mode, did not clear all doubts either.

“I thought that yesterday at the Roundtable they would have already broadcast the television schedule with the subject’s programming, but I have not seen it published yet,” Ana Miriam Rosado tells this newspaper. As a nurse, she is always working during tele-class hours, and her mother is in charge of ensuring that her 11-year-old daughter does not miss the lessons.

She explains that her daughter has already been promoted to sixth grade, but in reality “she has not been able to finish because the school year was interrupted” by the advance of the pandemic, which forced the suspension of face-to-face classes in January 2020. “Today I called the teacher to find out what content they were going to give and he told me that the tele-classes will be a consolidation of the same material that was taught the previous course,” she says.

“Here we have the books they gave us when she finished fifth grade, and they graded her and everything, but we don’t have notebooks, pencils, continue reading

or ballpoint pens,” laments Rosado, referring to the school supplies, which up to now, the school has always provided. “I will have to invent, because you cannot even buy the stuff in the stores to complete what little they give you for school, as was done every year. The only thing that is currently available for sale in the state stores are food and cleaning products.”

“Here we have the books they gave us when she finished fifth grade, and they graded her and everything, but we don’t have notebooks, pencils, or ballpoint pens”

Another issue that worries parents and one which has generated many doubts is how the vaccination process will be carried out. Many relatives wonder without finding an answer: Will children be forced to get vaccinated? What options are there for parents who do not want to get them vaccinated?

These are questions that the Roundtable did not answer, where the Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Fernández Cobiella, reported that, at the beginning of this month, the vaccination will begin for students who are in 12th grade, third year of Technical and Professional Education and third and fourth of Pedagogical Training. For this group, the official assured, the courses will be face-to-face starting October 4th.

In the case of students who are between 12 and 18 years old, she said that vaccination is scheduled to begin “on September 5th,” and she specified that sixth grade students are included in this group. She added that the idea is to resume the course in the face-to-face mode for them as of November 8th. “Vaccinations for children in Primary Education will begin on September 15th, therefore, they will resume the course in person starting November 15th,” she said.

Despite the inconveniences of the resumption of classes, many of the mothers have not stood idly by. This is the case for Linda Reloba, who has already agreed to go this weekend to the La Cuevita Fair with a friend: “You will always find everything there, so I hope to solve some of the problems with notebooks and pencils, because if not, I don’t know where or what my children are going to write with.”

She is upset because “at school they have not given the materials as they always do” and the only thing she has to start the tele-classes with are books that she was given at the end of the previous year.

Nor was it mentioned on the Roundtable, Reloba complains, “if they are going to sell new uniforms before the start of classes or if they are going to take other measures, such as allowing them to wear street clothes.”

It is a concern shared by many other families, who have to deal with the fact that their children have grown or gained weight and the uniform of a year and a half ago will not work for them.

The other option is to compare these materials on the black market, but “a 200-page lined notebook does not cost less than 75 pesos and neither do the graph ones that are used for mathematics.”

Translated by Norma Whiting


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Two Ways Out for a Decaying Cuba: Reinvention or Collapse

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in San Antonio de los Baños, where the July 11 protests began. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Sebastian Arcos Cazabon, Havana, September 11, 2021 — The brutal repression following the popular protests of July 11 seems to have stabilized the political situation in Cuba. However, the regime must understand that, despite its long history of repression, the current calm is fragile. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, the protests broke a very important psychological barrier: the conviction — meticulously cultivated by Fidel Castro for decades — that publicly demonstrating against the regime was impossible and pointless. When that dam broke in Eastern Europe, it signaled the beginning of the end for Marxist totalitarianism there.

The second reason is that the causes underlying the protests will not go away anytime soon. The regime has lost almost all political legitimacy and, when it comes to economics, is intrinsically incompetent The Cuban people no longer believe in the official dogma and know that their situation will not improve under the Cuban Communist Party. To make matters worse, the Covid-19 health crisis has reinforced the image that the regime is inept and intolerant. The popular rebellion has now spread even to the public health sector. The third reason is that, despite their declarations of solidarity, neither Russia nor China is willing to support a destitute and parasitic regime.

It is clear that Raul Castro’s policy of continuity is unsustainable. The regime is at a crossroads, its ruling class paralyzed, clinging to repression and reluctant to adopt serious reforms. The opposition has been radicalized because, rather than extinguishing it, the wave of repression has only added fuel to the fire. This is a bad omen for Cuba’s communist oligarchs.

In his essay “Totalitarian and Post-Totalitarian Regimes in Transition and Non-Transition from Communism” (2002), Mark R. Thompson describes the evolutionary process most of these regimes follow. According to his thesis, Cuba should now be moving from “frozen post-totalitarianism” to a “decomposing post-totalitarianism.” The final phase is characterized by intransigent and paralyzed leadership, ideological decadence, lack of continue reading

political and economic legitimacy, widespread popular cynicism and increasingly counterproductive repression. Sound familiar? The theory holds that, once a regime begins decaying, it either reinvents itself or collapses.

With the Cuban regime at a crossroads, academic literature points to several possible options it has for reinvention. This is not a matter of making predictions but rather about applying lessons from the past to current circumstances. In addition to Thompson’s essay, there is another important analytical reference: Samuel P. Huntington’s classic The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20h Century, published in 1991.

 The Chinese Model

Known in academic literature as “post-totalitarian hybrid” or “market Leninism,” this alternative requires a pragmatic leadership that accepts the need for improving people’s quality of life in order to insure the continued political dominance of the communist party. This is achieved by replacing the centralized economic model for one which favors the free market and private property. This would be the worst option for the democratic opposition because, as in China and Vietnam, it would guarantee the communist party’s hold on power. If there are supporters of this approach within the party, they have been silenced by Raul Castro’s hardline faction. In addition to political pragmatism, this alternative requires speed and determination, three ingredients which the country’s oligarchs do not currently seem to have in abundance. I believe the probability of this option being chosen is low.

 Controlled Transition to Democracy (and the Rule of Law)

Defined by Samuel Huntington as “transformation,” this option consists of a deliberate transition to free elections and full democracy initiated and controlled, from start to finish, by the regime. According to Huntington, half of the thirty-five transitions that occurred between 1975 and 1991, such as those in Spain and Chile, were these types of transformations.

This approach has benefits for everyone. On the one hand, it avoids violence by funneling all internal and external interests and actors in the same direction. On the other hand, the ruling class does not have to pick up the tab and ends up in a more advantageous economic and political position than the opposition. This option requires a powerful reformist faction within the regime that would prevail over the hardline faction, something that does not seem realistic in today’s Cuba. Unless the balance of power changes radically, I believe this is unlikely to occur.

Tolerated Authoritarianism (Putinism)

Academic literature also points to the possibility that one system can be set aside, either deliberately or unexpectedly, in favor of a different system. For example, the transformation initiated by Gorbachev in the USSR was interrupted by a military coup that tried to reverse it.* The coup’s failure quickly led to a democratic replacement (a “transplant,” according to Huntington).

The Cuban regime could begin a limited transformation in hopes of convincing a pragmatic U.S. administration to accept an authoritarian regime in exchange for political stability on the island. If the United States blesses this transformation with diplomatic and economic normalization, the regime could freeze the process and remain in power as an authoritarian Putin-style kleptocracy.

This option is viable because it plays on the fear, shared in certain American military and intelligence circles, that a collapse of the regime would turn Cuba into a failed state, preyed upon by drug traffickers and terrorists. According to this hypothesis, which has the hallmarks of having been planted by Cuban intelligence, it would better suit U.S. interests to reach an understanding with the regime than to contribute to its collapse.

This option is very attractive to Cuba’s oligarchs because it can be implemented relatively quickly and without the significant economic or political changes required by the first two. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that authoritarianism is more vulnerable to political winds than totalitarianism. A robust democratic opposition could force a transplant, thwarting the oligarch’s plans and turning the limited transformation into a full-blown transition. Although this scenario presents the regime with more uncontrollable variables — it depends, for example, on who happens to governing the United States at the time or how effective activist Cuban exiles turn out to be — I believe it is a more likely outcome than the first two.

Continuity or Collapse 

The worst outcome for everyone would be if the regime decided to continue following its current course of repression and limited reform. As previously discussed, this option would resolve none of the chronic problems that led to the July 11 protests. Sooner or later, the people will return to the streets and the regime will be forced to either ramp up its repression to intolerable levels or give up power. A vicious cycle of growing opposition followed by more repression followed by more opposition is unsustainable and could end in civil war, as happened in Romania in 1989.** Even if the pro-Castro elites were inclined to unleash rivers of blood, the tragic end of Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu should give them pause.

Finally, those hoping for U.S. military intervention should consider the example of Afghanistan. Setting aside the damage foreign intervention would cause to Cuban nationalism, events in Afghanistan demonstrate how little appetite the United States currently has for foreign military adventures. On top of that, the obvious incompetence of the Biden administration in handling a matter of utmost importance to U.S. national security should be enough to rule out the idea of an interventionist option for Cuba. Among the insiders, incompetence abounds.

Translator’s notes:

*Though the military was involved, the attempted coup was actually led by eight senior officials from the Soviet goverment, Communist Party and KGB.

 **Spontaneous mass protests led to the overthrow of Nicolai Ceausescu on December 22, 1989. He and his wife Elena were executed three days later after a summary trial. The provisional government subsequently promised free and fair elections, which took place five months later. While thousands died or were injured in the course of the uprising, the event might better be described as a brief period of violent civil unrest rather than a civil war.


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

Diaz-Canel in Mexico, the Invitation That Never Should Have Been Extended

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, during an official visit of the former in 2019. (Presidency of Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 15 September 2021 – salsa dancing or smiling with several Hollywood actors, this was Miguel Díaz-Canel’s look three years ago during a visit to New York. Now, cornered by the complaints after violently repressing the July 11th protests, the Cuban president finds himself isolated on the international scene, a repudiation from which Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s invitation to Mexico attempts to extract him.

When the citizens of that neighboring country celebrate the date of the Grito de Dolores on Thursday, a graying and grim figure will be among the guests at the commemoration. In just two months — since he insisted on national television that he was ready “for anything” and that “the combat order is given,” in a call to crush the protesters – the official-propaganda-imposed image of the pragmatic engineer has been shattered.

Although, since his occupation of the presidential chair, Díaz-Canel has been surrounded by criticism of not having been elected at the polls, the president came to enjoy the sympathy of those who were relieved that, at least, “his name is not Castro.” The political cabals mention him as a man from a generation with less guilt and “without bloodstained hands,” unlike his predecessors.

However, the same headlines of the newspapers that until recently called it a respite in the long family dynasty that has controlled this Island for more than half a century, now broadcast images of the police beating unarmed citizens, their fists raised in the cry continue reading

of “libertad” – freedom – that has spread throughout the entire country, and mothers with tear stained faces whose children are locked up in cells without any respect for their legal procedural guarantees.

The entire publicity arsenal aimed at showing Díaz-Canel as an efficient, popular and modern administrator was inoperative after that day that divided contemporary Cuban history into two parts. Since then, the leaders who used to shake his hand, smile with him for the family photo or pat him on the back in meetings of international organizations, now flee from him and rebuke him.

Only López Obrador has extended an invitation to this president whose people told him loud and clear that they do not want him and who responded with the arrogance of one who feels that he should not apologize, amend his course or give up his position to another. What is this gesture of the leader of Mexico’s Morena Party about? Is it in payment of an old ideological debt? Is he looking to inconvenience his political adversaries or a neighboring government? Was the request born in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana and the Mexican could only say “yes”?

Aware that his trip raises criticism and suspicion, the man who is also the First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party has preferred keep the details of his agenda under a cloak of secrecy. Information on the place or time when he will participate as a speaker in the Mexican national holidays has not even been offered. A mystery that seeks to avoid public rejection not only by hundreds of Cuban emigrants who are already organizing to reject his visit, but also by many other Mexicans who are in solidarity with the cause of democratic change on this island.

From the main focuses and starring lights of his tour of Russia, Ireland and Belarus a few years ago, Díaz-Canel will avoid journalists, and escape from public presentations and rope lines to prevent the uncomfortable image of another invited guest who shuns his greeting or leaves him with his hand in the air. It is a dangerous choreography, because rudeness and protest can await one anywhere.

The warmth and sympathy that his host professes will also clarify much of this trip: whether it is a simple formality or a resounding political endorsement of a dictator rejected by his people, a man who called for a fratricidal confrontation for which, hopefully, one day he may be tried in national or international courts. The number of yards that separate the two rulers in the main act, whether or not López Obrador mentions the Cuban, even the number of hours that he spends in Mexican territory, will all be very revealing. We will have to be attentive to each of these rituals.

But also, we will have to look towards the interior of the island in the absence of Díaz-Canel. His unpopularity is not unrelated to the “wolves of the pack” who are vying for power in Cuban. As soon as they feel that keeping him in the presidential chair endangers their control over the country, they will dispense with this Villa Clara engineer, a man unable to string three sentences together without making it sound like a boring litany dictated by others.

This trip may be designed to clean up his image outside of national borders, but it also risks things getting out of control at home. Be that as it may, López Obrador has chosen the sad role of supporting a man who will go down in Cuban history as a puppet who, on the day he could have cut the strings and acted with the greatness of a statesman, preferred repression. The old practice of the Castros, of the blow and the gag.

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

‘It Looks Like the July 11th of Jam’ a Cuban Shopper Jokes

It was no more than five minutes after 5:00 in the morning, before dawn, when hundreds of people were already in line to enter La Casa de las Preserves. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 14 September 2021 – No sooner had I closed to the door to my house, early in the morning, and gone out into the street to get a place in line at the brand new Casa de las Conservas (House of Preserves), than I noticed the unusual scene. Four women were blocking the passage, huddling on the ground. They were hiding from the frequent Police patrols passing by to control anyone who might be violating the curfew, in force from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am in Havana.

“It’s five o’clock, let’s go!” They said to each other; and turning to me, as I stared at them in amazement, they added, “Thanks, muchacha, for not giving us away.”

I didn’t think it was necessary to run like they did – the store wasn’t going to open until nine, four hours later – until I got to the block where the line started. A few minutes after the curfew ended there were already 400 people at Ayestarán and 19 de Mayo, in the Cerro municipality.

Crouching, hiding in the undergrowth, perched on the branches of nearby trees, on stairways, and in doorways, and entrances to homes, thousands of Cubans wait every day for the curfew to end to be able to get a place in the line for stores that take payment in foreign currency or in continue reading

Cuban pesos.

The phenomenon, known by the authorities and ridiculed in cartoons in the official press, has extended to all the places when the word spreads that a product of wide popular demand is about to be put out on store shelves. The families arrange for one person to stay up all night and the others to arrive after the clock strikes 5 am.

From nearby places, coming from all directions, numerous groups of people with anxious faces and hurried steps came running, trying to reach a privileged position in the line to be able to shop in the recently opened store that takes payment in Cuban pesos, an anomaly in a city ​​and a country that every day surrenders more to foreign currency.

Being first in line did not guarantee any privilege. The police officers did not allow people whose identity cards showed distance residences to join the line. Anyone who did not live within a five-block area could not have made it to the line at that time of the morning without violating the curfew, they said, with an argument they themselves did not believe, aware of the subterfuges to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

But, there were exceptions. “Look at this one, it is from Old Havana, but he says he is someone’s nephew,” a policeman shouted at an obvious State Security agent, dressed in civilian clothes, while pulling a man out of the line; the man gave the name of a relative who is an “official of the Ministry of the Interior,” and they let him stay. From that moment and without explanation, they no longer checked any more addresses, and began to hastily collect the cards from the rest of those present.

“It is not possible that there are 200 people in front of me in the line, because I live on that balcony that you see there and I came down at five o’clock,” a girl complained to a policeman. “I live with my little daughter and my mother with schizophrenia,” she said to get him to let her pass, without achieving any results.

The agent replied that he understood her situation but could not do anything. “We already have 57 people at the Police station,” he justified. Those arrested, all in the early hours of the morning, will be fined 2,000 pesos and will receive a “warning letter.” As the products sold by the store are not “essential,” argued the officer, there was no separate line for the “vulnerable,” people with disabilities or bedridden patients in their family who obtain a card that allows them to shorten the wait in other stores and markets.

Despite the early hours, the hubbub that spread through the place gave the impression that the clock was already ticking past noon. People yelled at those who sneaked in relatives and acquaintances who arrived later, to the indifference of the agents, who collected, in total, some 300 identification documents.

Ayestarán Street, which until recently was an artery full of vehicles and dotted with private businesses with offers of pizzas and soft drinks, has now become an area of ​​long lines, not only because of the recently opened Casa de las Conservas, but also because of the nearby Trimagen store complex, managed by the military and supplying products that can be paid for with Cuban pesos.

More than 300 people were still in line after the first 300. From them, they would collect, they announced, 200 more cards, but later. At that moment, a crowd rushed at the agents to demand that they finish collecting the remaining documents. “Pick up a few and fine them 2,000 pesos right here and you’ll see how they calm down,” one of the officers rebuked. The tumult dissolved immediately.

“My God, what is this, where have so many people come from?” said a surprised woman her 60s who had run two blocks to get there on time and barely reached number 350. “This seems to be the 11th of July of Jam,” she said jokingly, making reference to the recent protests throughout the country on July 11th.

“I am here to buy a can of mayonnaise, because my daughter has her birthday today and she has asked us to make her a cold salad,” a young man who arrived at five o’clock in the morning explained to this newspaper. “We managed to get an appointment but I think we will be shopping after one in the afternoon, so we are going to spend part of the festivities in line.”

A lady came by for guava jam. “My mother is bedridden and cannot eat anything she has to chew, so every day I have to find her some yogurt, compote or a base to make juices,” she explained. The woman was one of those who did not not manage to get a number. “My address is a bit remote and I couldn’t justify what I was doing there at the time I arrived.”

The locals are used to crowds and shouting. Not surprisingly, a few meters yard is a Trimagen store famous for being the epicenter of endless lines, traffic accidents and fights. However, when passing by the House of Preserves, they were stunned: there was no comparison with the madness that was seen here this Tuesday.


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

For the First Day of ‘The House of Preserves’ in Havana, Just 300 Places in Line

The line on September 12th to shop in the recently opened La Casa de las Conservas, which takes payment in Cuban pesos. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 13 September 2021 — The opening of La Casa de las Conservas [The House of Preserves], located in Ayestarán, between May 19 and Néstor Sardiñas streets, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, was received with many complaints due to the long lines it generated in the first hours of its opening and the limitation on purchases by customers.

“They distributed the first 300 places in line at exactly five in the morning because the place was full of people from four o’clock,” according to a housewife who arrived at the store which takes payment in Cuba pesos, speaking to 14ymedio after eight on Sunday morning. “It closes today at 2:00 in the afternoon and it does not open on Mondays,” she complained. “In other words, they inaugurate it and it is already closed.”

La Casa de las Conservas will be open from Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm and on Sundays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Tribuna de La Habana also reported that it will be supplied by eight factories, three in the capital and the rest in Mayabeque and Artemisa, although it may also receive products from other provinces of the country.

On reporting on the opening last Saturday, the official press limited itself to registering the visit of senior government officials, praising the effort to open the store, and promoting it as a “new type of market for the Cuban family,” but did not allude to the extensive crowds caused continue reading

by a market like this, which is very scarce not only in the capital, but throughout the country.

“There are product limitations, you can only buy one of each line and they scan your identity card so that the same person cannot buy again for 15 days,” another customer complained.

Some of the products that were on sale this Sunday at La Casa de las Conservas. (Collage)

The store specializes in “all kinds of preserves,” according to the Tribuna de La Habana, and “there will be a permanence of products” that “will be controlled and regulated.” This Sunday one could find: pasta or VitaNova sauces (at 200 pesos), guava jam (at 160), pizza sauces (at 160), mango jam (at 165), ground cumin (at 90), mayonnaise (at 80), ketchup (at 60) and mustard (at 50).

Despite “the control” in the sales, resellers are already offering several products. “Just yesterday, three blocks from the store, they were reselling VitaNova cans at 400 pesos and mayonnaise at 290 pesos,” a neighbor from the El Cerro neighborhood told this newspaper.

However, although officialdom promises that the trade will remain assorted, suspicion reigns in that area of the capital, and even delegates from the People’s Power have suggested to the neighbors that they try to buy as soon as possible: “You know how the inaugurations go with great fanfare,” the official warned, “the products really only last for a few days.”


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

Cuba: Ferrer’s Family Continues to Demand His Freedom and a Faith of Life After ‘Edited Video’ Aired

The brief recording was posted on the Facebook page of Guerrero Cubano, an anonymous spokesman for the regime. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana 10 September 2021 — Cuban State Security circulated a video this Friday in which the regime opponent José Daniel Ferrer, arrested on July 11 (11J), appears, sending a few words to his family from prison.

“A hug for my wife, for my children, my brothers, my mother, for the whole family,” says the activist in the brief recording that was published on the Facebook page of Guerrero Cubano, an anonymous spokesman for the regime.

“I have been in the Mar Verde prison since August 12. So far I have not had any type of situation, no problem of violence or mistreatment,” he adds and concludes: “Here we are, firm and serene. Hug.”

After disseminating the material, Ana Belkis Ferrer García, the dissident’s sister, denounced on Twitter that the “dictatorship of Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel” published an edited and undated video where Ferrer, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), appears. after two months “kidnapped and disappeared.” She also demanded on behalf of the family a proof of life and immediate and unconditional freedom for Ferrer. “Where do you intend to go?” she questioned.

A month after being arrested after the 11J protests, the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba determined that the opponent must serve the sentence of four years in prison that had been imposed in February 2020 for “injuries and deprivation of liberty” against from a third party.

Until that Sunday, the Unpacu leader enjoyed continue reading

a subsidiary sanction that kept him free, although he was besieged by the political police. His wife, Nelva Ortega Tamayo, who had demanded information about Ferrer’s whereabouts, was informed of the new disposition.

At the end of August, his family reported that they had received a letter signed by Ferrer to which they gave “some credit”, although according to his sister, they could not “guarantee that it was really in his own handwriting.”

The activist also said that the letter denounced that Ferrer was confined in an isolation cell “half naked, in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions,” and that on two occasions they put him in “the uniform of a common prisoner by force,” as he was denied his clothes. Regarding his health, he said that he had “serious problems with heartburn and constant stomach pain.”

Ferrer has been subjected to permanent repression for a long time. Last April, he was detained for eight hours for helping an activist get to the Unpacu headquarters despite an attempt by the Police to stop him.

The activist has been recognized by the Victims of Communism Foundation with the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. Since July 11, he is one of the 10 cases of forced disappearance reported by the organization that is dedicated to investigating the whereabouts of the detainees.


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

Breakdowns and Excuses Used to Justify Cuba’s Multiple Blackouts

Some users report outages lasting 4 hours, and in some cases up to three times a day (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 September 2021 — The Cuban Electricity Union (UNE) has once again announced failures and problems in the generation system, a situation that is no longer news and that will cause more service cuts and blackouts in the coming days.

The state company issued a statement hours after several incidents occurred that caused “service disruptions” from 8 am on Wednesday. The “technological limitations and the breakdowns that occurred in both the thermal and distributed generation systems” prevented meeting the demand for electricity in the country, the note indicates.

In addition, the note adds, the situation was complicated by another failure, this time in the boiler, which caused the “unforeseen disconnection” of a unit at the Lidio Ramón Pérez thermoelectric plant, in Felton, in Mayarí (Holguín). The repairs will take four days, so the lack of electricity will last, although months of cuts and blackouts already prevent people from knowing when there is a new breakdown or if it is all the result of the disastrous electrical system of the Island.

After weeks of suffering, in the middle of summer, long blackouts that have even prevented Cubans from falling asleep, the UNE has decided to give explanations to users about the reasons that lead to this situation, among which stands out “the non-execution of the maintenance.”

Last Friday, the UNE released a note through the official press in which it reported the accumulation of problems that have led to the extreme continue reading

situation experienced in the country since at least June of this year, although the electricity crises have been a constant on the Island over the last three decades.

The electricity monopoly argued that of the 19 generation units that the country owns, 16 are working “outside their maintenance cycles,” to which is added the extreme age of the thermoelectric park, with plants that far exceed the average useful life of a power plant. The US sanctions, which could not be lacking in the justifications, were also another of the reasons alleged by the UNE, which attributes to them the impossibility of accessing the international market under normal conditions or going into debt at the current time of economic crisis due to the pandemic.

However, the note ended with a call for optimism based on the fact that an end to the pandemic (which is not in sight in the short term) will allow the recovery of funds and solve the problems suffered by the national electricity system.

On this occasion, the UNE statement also wants to offer hope and assures that “putting unites 4 and 5 of the Antonio Maceo CTE, and unit 6 of the Diez de Octubre CTE into service will contribute to mitigating the cuts,” although he warned that these will continue to be scheduled in blocks of four hours and announced by the local press.

Cubans, however, maintain that blackouts are very frequently exceeding forecasts and that each of these cuts is repeated sometimes twice a day, causing days of even eight hours without electricity in different parts of the island.

In this context, last Monday the Government approved a resolution published in the Official Gazette, by means of which the importation of large electrical appliances considered high energy consumers was liberalized, including induction glass-ceramic cookers, with or without ovens, and air conditioners of great power.

The rule said that the decision is based on the new “policy approved for the prospective development of renewable sources and the rational use of energy,” although the UNE note this Wednesday has insisted on asking Cubans for rationality in the consumption in the residential sector, in addition to requesting restrictions in state companies.

“In reality, I do not understand, if the system is not capable of guaranteeing stable demand or the reliability of the generation, why open the possibility of importing household electrical appliances? After the explanations in the press, this is a great contradiction” says a clever reader of the State’s Granma newspaper.

Among the most plausible theories to explain the decision could be the State’s impossibility of guaranteeing the demand in the interior of the country. The lines to buy appliances and the speed at which they sell out, even in the case of expensive sales and in foreign exchange stores, would support this idea.


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

Poor Organization and Few Staff Delay Vaccination Process in Cuban Schools

The wait began on the sidewalk, outside the extensive building that occupies the entire block from Tulipán Street to Lombillo. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 12 September 2021 — The time of a working day, the itchiness of the skin in the sun and the long faces of children tired of waiting are part of what I experienced and observed during the vaccination process for my two daughters last Friday. A day that began with the hope of immunization but it was twisted with the inefficiency and slowness of the process.

Among the parents who took their children to be vaccinated against covid-19 at the José Luis Arruñada school in Havana that day, uncertainty and complaints reigned. However, the criticisms went more to organizational problems than to questioning the effectiveness of the Soberana 02 vaccine, developed in Cuba and surrounded by intense official propaganda.

Questions about the process ranged from how to access the vaccination site to the lack of outdoor seats, on a day marked by the heat and the discomfort of a long wait. However, the line — slow and at times paralyzed — was a scene for the exchange of wishes and fears before a possible start of face-to-face classes.

Those who came to the school, from the Plaza de la Revolución municipality, were called by a notice that, like me, reached them by phone or through the WhatsApp group that parents keep with teachers. In the message they detailed schedules by group. Everything seemed very organized, but the reality was very different.

“We are behind schedule because the vaccine was almost two hours late,” said several teachers as soon as the first complaints began to rise. “We are slow because some kids had a reaction to the vaccine and we had to stop to attend to them,” they explained.

With a single nurse vaccinating, the process lasted for hours and in some cases, continue reading

families with children in different grades in the school had to wait the equivalent of a full working day to be able to return home with their two children now immunized with this first dose, out of a total of three that children and adolescents are expected to receive.
From early in the morning the students gathered at the door hand in hand with a relative. In the call to come for the vaccine, it was explained that it was an essential requirement to be accompanied by an adult and we were also armed with water bottles, charged cell phone batteries and some snacks. In a few hours there were already dozens of us crowded in front of the school.

The wait began on the sidewalk, outside the extensive building that takes the entire block from Tulipán Street to Lombillo, a school managed more than half a century ago by the Catholic Brothers of La Salle and which for years has housed a primary school and another secondary school, surrounded by a sports area that has been worn out.

In my case I was lucky, because my two daughters, the youngest who is in sixth grade and the oldest who is in eighth grade, were scheduled for the same day. But it was not going to be easy because despite going together they had to be immunized separately, each one at the time assigned to their teaching group. So after waiting they called the younger one and, although I tried to convince the teacher to inject both of them, my words did not persuade her and the older one had to stay outside, sitting on a wall.

Despite the stumble, we were relieved that we had managed to overcome the first obstacle and enter the school. Already in the shade and just after passing the threshold of the door, a woman had the task of spraying a jet of water with chlorine on each hand, a dirty sack splashed with that liquid also served as the “breech step.” In one of the classrooms they had set up a makeshift waiting room with chairs placed five feet apart.

After answering a few questions, it was just involved a few steps to where the nurse was and receiving the injection. (14ymedio)

When we entered the vaccination center, the nurse was waiting for the kids in a corner of the room where she had everything ready on a table while another nurse was taking care of registering the batch and making the vaccination card. But first you had to go through another table with a doctor who took the students’ temperature and asked them some questions: Are you allergic to any medications? Do you suffer from any disease? Have you had covid recently? Are you taking antibiotics?

After answering, it was just taking a few steps to where the nurse was and receiving the injection. We had to wait for her to finish with another child, the father took out his cell phone to take a picture and she told him: “You can but please don’t publish it.” “Don’t worry, it’s for Grandpa who doesn’t want to miss out on this moment,” he replied.

My younger girl took a seat and they gave her the first dose of Soberana 02 which will be completed later with a second, allowing 21 days to pass between each one and a third which is with Soberana Plus. Now it was an hour of waiting in the school dining room, to monitor her condition after being immunized.

It was almost noon and my other girl had already passed the time indicated in the summons message. A teacher informed us that they had to stop the process “because some children had raised blood pressure.” So my youngest daughter and I left the regulation wait and went to another line where the high school students were.

Nothing had moved, the clock read 12, and not a single eighth grader had been vaccinated.

Of course, the line of these teenagers did not resemble that of the little kids who came hand in hand with their parents. They met in groups to talk while their parents stood in line and of course each greeting was mediated by a hug and a kiss: Who controls the euphoria and hubbub of 13- and 14-year-old students who have not seen each other in person for months?

But the three of us were hungry and we crossed Tulipán to have a snack in a cafe that is right next to the school. Although we delayed, when we returned the panorama was the same. At half past two they began to organize the line for the eighth grade students and soon it was my daughter’s turn because she was one of the first.

The process was almost the same, the difference being that they did not allow us to go to the dining hall to accompany them during the observation time. “But and that’s why, the objective of them coming with their parents is that, that we accompany them, they are not going to complain so you have to keep an eye on them in case they feel bad,” protested a mother but the teacher in front was uncompromising: “You have to wait outside.”

When the hour passed, we went home and when we left we saw that there were still dozens of students outside waiting in the inclement September sun. The process that should have occurred in one morning lasted until late in the afternoon, unnecessarily expanding the physical interaction between the kids.

After the vaccination, the only complaint that has come from the girls, especially the younger girl, is a severe pain in the arm. We went to see the doctor, but she commented that this is normal and that it was more of a warning sign if there was redness on the arm or if the area where she received the injection became very hard.

Speaking later with other mothers who also went through the same process this Friday, I was able to hear quite similar stories: delay in the arrival of vaccines, little organization and, in general, slowness in the process.

“The worst thing is that we still have to go through this two more times and I don’t think it will be any different,” one pessimist commented. “For the next time you have to bring an umbrella, a bench and more cold water,” she said.


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

Cubans Pay Tribute to Patron Saint the Virgin of Charity del Cobre From Their Homes and Under Surveillance

A group of people worshiping the Patron Saint of Cuba at the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Church in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 8 September 2021 — Like every September 8, the streets of Cuba are dressed in yellow fabrics and sunflowers to celebrate the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. This year, however, the Patroness of the Island is not accompanied by her people. Facing the covid-19 pandemic, which offers the country no truce, and despite the fact that they have no qualms about seeing people crowded into lines waiting to enter stores, and even calling for other “revolutionary” demonstrations, the authorities decided to restrict the processions on foot.

The Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba organized tours of the Virgin through various neighborhoods of the city, in a vehicle, starting on September 6 and culminate on Wednesday the 8th between 4:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon.

“So that we all feel the closeness and protection of the Mother of the Son of God.” This is how the Catholic Church announced that the image of the Virgin of Charity, which is venerated in the temple of Saint Thomas the Apostle, would travel through the neighborhoods of Santiago without the traditional procession of parishioners.

On Wednesday morning, the Eucharist of the Feast of Our Lady of El Cobre was also held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Cobre, and was broadcast on the social networks of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba.

“The Virgin Mary of Charity of el Cobre occupies a very special place in the heart of the Cuban people, which is why today we can say that it is the feast of the Mother; but it is also the feast of continue reading

Cubans, her children,” Juan Elizalde, parish priest of Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús in the city, said in an address.

“Loved ones, let us definitively remove from our lives everything that is a consequence of selfishness, hatred, pride, lack of love and solidarity, so that love, joy and peace may spring up in us, like a swollen river. I am sure that this is the desire of our Mother and the way of meeting with God!” declared the parish priest.

The Virgin could not be accompanied by her believers, but she was accompanied by State Security. In Havana, the church dedicated to Cachita — as she is fondly called — the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, faced the dawn this Wednesday, watched by dozens of agents.

“They are almost all young, dressed in civilian clothes, and they are standing in the corners. You can see above their clothes that they are segurosos (state security),” says Carmen, a resident of Old Havana who went to the church to bring Cachita flowers.

Near the church there were, as is customary, people selling flowers. “People are complaining because the smallest bouquets cost 300 pesos and they have about five sunflowers, three large and two small,” laments Carmen. “In some cases they are bundled with other little flowers.” The bouquets with larger pieces and more variety cost 500 pesos, details this Havanan.

Unlike Santiago de Cuba, in the capital they decided not to bring out the Virgin. “People are being allowed to go to the church and see it little by little, ten by ten,” says Ramón, another parishioner living in Centro Habana. “Unfortunately, they don’t even let you leave the flowers you bought outside and justify that it is because of the covid. When you try to do it, they tell you no, that you should take the flowers home.”

In exile, Florida Cubans also worship Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre. In the hermitage located in Miami, a mass will be held this Wednesday as the culmination of an extensive program of celebration where they also celebrate the arrival of her image six decades ago. This church is the first obligatory stop for Cuban rafters who manage to reach the United States, to thank the Patron for having achieved their feat alive.

Also on this date, some worship Oshún, the deity that the Afro-Cuban religion syncretizes with the Catholic Virgin.

For many years, due to the Marxist-Leninist atheism imposed by the Cuban regime, processions such as those currently allowed to celebrate the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre were prohibited.

It was a conquest long demanded by the Catholic authorities and the faithful that the Virgin be able to leave the temples, walk the streets of Cuba and people be allowed accompany her. The change came in the 1990s, especially after it was determined in 1991 that religious people could join the Communist Party.

The first time that the main image of the Virgin left her sanctuary was in December 1936, when the National Eucharistic Congress was held, where, in addition to her coronation it was reaffirmed that she is the Patron Saint of Cubans.

In 1998, when Pope John Paul II personally crowned her, her original image was also seen outside the Sanctuary of El Cobre. A few years later, between 2011 and 2012, she toured the entire country, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of his “appearance.”

Traditionally, the Patroness of Cuba have been entrusted to the relatives of the prisoners and especially those who have suffered political imprisonment. In her Sanctuary of El Cobre, the offerings of the guerrillas of the Sierra Maestra and their relatives alternate with the requests made by the Ladies in White after the repression of the Black Spring in 2003.

This September, the celebration arrives with new political prisoners imprisoned from the day of popular protests on July 11. The State Security has tried to avoid with, its operations around the churches, the day becoming another day of demands for amnesty for those arrested.

The regime opponent Guillermo Fariñas, recipient of the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, was arrested this Wednesday at his home, in the city of Santa Clara, without any cause, his mother, Alicia Hernández, told the Efe agency. This September 8, the activist María Elena Mir was also arrested, as confirmed ontheir social networks by Manuel Cuesta Morúa, and the independent reporter Héctor Valdés Cocho.


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

Felix Navarro Remains on a Hunger Strike in Prison, Bishop of Matanzas Confirms

Félix Navarro, former prisoner of the Black Spring, before his latest arrest. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 September 2021 —  Félix Navarro, a member of the Cuban opposition, “is very thin” and weighs about 60 kilograms (132 pounds) after going on a hunger strike in jail for almost three weeks, said the Bishop of Matanzas, Monsignor Manuel Hilario de Céspedes.

The Bishop visited the former prisoner of the Black Spring in the Combinado del Sur de Matanzas prison, according to Dagoberto Valdes, director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, reported on his social networks.

“Félix told him that he would stay like this [on hunger strike] until the charges were dropped,” Valdés said.

Navarro, who is the president of the Pedro Luis Boitel Abraham Democracy Party and a member of the Executive Secretariat of the Democratic Action Unity Table (Muad), was arrested along with other opponents in the heat of the demonstrations on July 11.

Accused of the alleged crimes of “attack and public disorder,” two weeks after his arrest, his family denounced that the opponent had been admitted to and held incommunicado at the Matanzas Military Hospital after being diagnosed with covid-19.

Activist Saily Navarro Álvarez, daughter of the opponent, clarified last week continue reading

in an audio broadcast by Ángel Moya — also a member of the Black Spring Group of 75 — that on August 17 her father informed the family that if he was not released before 23 August, then from that day on “he would be on a hunger strike.”

Since that day, the relatives have not been able to communicate with him further, but the daughter denounced “the uncertainty and anguish of not knowing for sure how he is” with regards to his health and asked for help to make visible the situation of danger that her father is experiencing.

Dozens of opponents, activists and members of civil society have expressed their support for the opponent and demanded his freedom, including the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, who joined a fast of other dissidents on Thursday to protest against the situation of Navarro, as well as that of José Daniel Ferrer and other detainees from the massive protests in July.

“We want them free and healthy. Freedom now,” said the Lady in White, who also detailed that the first to show solidarity with a fast, in concrete support of Félix Navarro, was Caridad Burunate. “The day after her initiative we are in solidarity with her,” said Soler.

In a statement, Muad noted that other members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Abraham Democracy Party were arbitrarily arrested, including: Francisco Rangel, Armando Abascal, Lázaro Díaz Sánchez (released on July 15) and Leylandis Puentes Vargas, who did not participate in the demonstrations. of July 11 but that he was arrested two days later.

The organization also denounced that Navarro “is a 68-year-old man, with a delicate state of health, among other reasons, due to the difficult conditions of the political prison that he had to face in the past and the constant abuses of the Cuban authorities against him.”

According to the Cubalex legal advice center, the list of detainees in the protests reached 949 people from July 11 to date, of whom 437 protesters are still in jail.


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Cuban Xiaomi Users Breathe a Sigh of Relief With the Unlocking of Their Mobiles

According to the data offered on the ’Statcounter’ page, Xiaomi is the cell phone brand with the second largest presence on the Island. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 September 2021 — The complaints of hundreds of Cubans about the blocking of the mobile phones of the Chinese company Xiaomi have yielded results this weekend. “They are already unlocking all Xiaomi phones in Cuba” said Programmer and Youtuber Erich García,as he explained on his BacheCubano channel how users can connect to a WiFi network and unlock their phones, automatically.

Canal Caribe also echoed the news and pointed out that the fear of many of the company’s customers who were supposedly being charged “between 1,000 and 3,000 pesos” by private workshops to get their phones unlocked. The official channel specified that most of the complaints about their phones being blocked came from the owners of the Redmi Note 9 (Global), 9 S, 10, 10 Pro, 9A (IN), 9C, 10 T, and the X3 Pro. (Global).

While specialists mobilized to investigate the origin of the problem, the first advice that García gave on Twitter to Xiaomi users were: “Do not update the system; install firewalls and prohibit system updates; verify that the mobile is global, not regional; attend a workshop to unlock bootloader and consider global custom ROM flash.” continue reading

XiaomiAdictos shared information about the incident and explained that the company’s terms and conditions informed customers that they could not export any products to Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan and the Crimea region.

“As we can read through Reddit, Xiaomi has begun to block some of its latest smartphones that are in Cuba. The same thing is happening to Syrians, who have begun to receive a message on their smartphones that it makes it impossible for them to use the device,” he pointed out in one of his publications.

Xiaomi’s official page says in the section that refers to exports that “the contract and all products are subject to the applicable export control laws, including, among others, the export control laws of the United States and those of the client’s own jurisdiction.” It adds that “the customer may not export any product purchased from the seller to any country, territory or region if prohibited by export control laws.”

In just a few years Xiaomi managed to position itself at the top of the world market and is very popular in Cuba. According to the data offered on the Statcounter page, Xiaomi is the cell phone brand with the second largest presence in Cuba, surpassed only by South Korean Samsung.


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

Willy Chirino Says the Song ‘Que se vayan’ is 13 Years Old and Alluded to Fidel Castro

Chirino during his performance in the video clip of the song ’Que se vayan ya’ [Get Out!] (Screen capture)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 September 2021 — Cuban singer Willy Chirino said he was very satisfied with the result of Que se vayan ya [Get Out!] after Thursday’s release of the song’s music video. The song, said the composer, had a first version in 2008 with the title Que se va ya and alluded to Fidel Castro. It was precisely that year that Castro announced that he was resigning as president of Cuba and affirmed that he did not accept “the position of Commander in Chief.”

The salsa singer appeared on América TeVé  on Friday and said the song had been a part of his album Pa’lante.  “We decided to change [the lyrics] and make it more up to date — ‘que se vayan’ — because in reality, there is more than one henchman” on the island. [Ed.note: va is singular and vayan is plural]

In the audiovisual that promotes Que se vayan ya, Chirino and reggaeton artists Lenier Mesa, El Micha, Srta Dayana, El Chacal and Osmani García appear dressed in a pristine and symbolic white  broken only by Chirino’s guitar stamped with the Cuban flag, and Srta Dayana’s braid of the same colors.

The song’s choruses, recorded at Mars Music Studio in Miami, include phrases such as ‘let the wall fall down’, ‘there is no more going back’ and ‘what the people want is freedom’. The production was led by Chirino, Lenier, Mauro Bertrán, Albareda and Nelson Martínez.

Chirino said that he is satisfied with the new version and very proud of continue reading

each of the interpreters who performed in the song: “Each one did their part in a spectacular way.” He also acknowledges that there was “a very great affinity not only when we made the song but also when filming the video.”

The winner of the Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and an icon of the Cuban exile in Miami, note that 30 years have passed since he wrote his hit Ya viene llegando [(Our Day) is Coming], which has accompanied opponents of the Cuban regime for decades and speaks of maintaining the hope to regain the country they had to leave.

“There has not been a day that I have not felt optimistic over the years, I think that can never be lost, the desire to return to the homeland, to make this happen, each one in what they know how to do,” he confessed. “You have to have been born in Cuba to have experienced what it was like, to have known it before the Castros and to know the true beauty of the homeland before them and what a free Cuba means for all of us.”

Regarding the impact of his music, he said that both the artists who participated in Que se vayan ya, as well as many followers, tell them that they had to listen to his songs in silence because on the island they could not be heard, “it was illegal to listen to them and many of them they paid a high price for doing it,” but that risk helped them to “understand a little of the Cuban reality.”

“We are artists and it is up to us to use our art to reach people and communicate the Cuban tragedy. That cannot be lost and it is what I have felt over the years, even before Ya viene llegando, since the beginning of my career, since I came to Miami 60 years ago.”

The song Que se vayan follows the path started by Patria y Vida, released in February 2021, which became an anthem of the Cuban opposition. The song, by Gente de Zona, Yotuel Romero and Descemer Bueno with Maykel Castillo ’Osorbo’ and El Funky, was released to honor the San Isidro Movement and has paved the way for others such as Libertad, by Emilio Estefan, and Libertad y Amén , by Amaury Gutiérrez .


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‘Get Out!’, the New Anthem from Willy Chirino for the Freedom of Cuba

The six artists appear dressed in a pristine and symbolic white broken only by Chirino’s guitar, with the stamped Cuban flag, and Srta Dayana’s braid, with the colors of the national flag. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana 10 September 2021 —  “We are waiting for the time of your retirement, what people want is a break (…) pick up and go assassin.” That is how forceful the lyrics of ‘Que se vayan ya’ [Get Out] are, the new song by Willy Chirino and the reggaeton artists Lenier Mesa, El Micha (who raps the phrase), Srta Dayana, El Chacal and Osmani García. All of them have joined in this song that aspires to be part of the soundtrack of the July 11 protests in Cuba.

The popular singer released the video this Thursday, in which the six artists appear dressed in an immaculate and symbolic white that is broken only by Chirino’s guitar stamped with the Cuban flag, and Srta Dayana’s braid of the same colors.

“These are the things of destiny. We can already see the light lighting the way, there is no more going back, it goes forward, what the people want is freedom,” they sing. The image of the musicians contrasts with those that alternate, in black and white, of Fidel Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara and Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the repression of the anti-government marches that took place two months ago and that left one person dead, shot by the Police, and more than 700 people arrested.

“This break is over, may you go to hell,” continue the lyrics, and as the song progresses it shifts towards a more optimistic tone until ending with the persistent refrain “what the people want is freedom.” The musicians close by making the L gesture with their thumbs and forefingers, a symbol which, for a long time, the Cuban opposition has used to express continue reading

the demand for Libertad — Freedom.

Eight hours after its release, the video already has almost 40,000 views [over 330,000 at the time of this translation], arriving just two weeks after the song De Cuba soy [I’m from Cuba] by the reggaeton artist Roberto Hidalgo Puentes, known as YomilThat song and its video, by Yimit Ramírez, sowed controversy among officialdom for the use of images of historical figures, such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo, and Cuban artists such as Celia Cruz and Benny Moré.

Chirino specifically expressed solidarity with Yomil a few days ago for the attacks on him from officaldom, highlighting that he has the courage to oppose the authorities from within Cuba. “Another Cuban artist feeding the bonfire that was lit in Cuba on July 11… Well done Yomil, especially since you did it while you were inside the prison island, knowing the risks that this implies,” Chirino said.

The song follows the trail started by Patria y Vida, released in February 2021 and turned into an anthem of the Cuban opposition. That song, by Gente de Zona, Yotuel Romero and Descemer Bueno with Maykel Castillo Osorbo and El Funky, was premiered to honor the San Isidro Movement and has paved the way for others such as Libertad, by Emilio Estefan, or Libertad y Amén, by Amaury Gutiérrez.


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

Political Intrigue in Today’s Cuba

Citizens do not even know who is in favor or against an article of a law, who has an open-minded tendency or who is part of the mechanisms to stop reforms. Everyone is supposed to agree before starting to argue. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 September 2021 — Political intrigues have been fruitful in Cuba, especially since 1959. The deposition of President Urrutia, the microfraction, the Marquitos trial, the execution of General Ochoa and, more recently, the dismissal of the dauphins Carlos Lage, Felipe Pérez Roque and Carlos Valenciaga are partially known facts that show dark machinations alien to the proclaimed political principles.

After the death of Fidel Castro, in November 2016, they did not stop.

Today’s palace intrigues have protagonists and purposes. Names are known because they appear on the list of the Political Bureau, the Council of State and Ministers or because they bear certain surnames, but the inclination of each towards the only two possible purposes cannot be confirmed with certainty: to maintain the system or to liquidate it.

They all share, perhaps, a parallel objective, not related to ideals but to personal ambitions. Understand, enjoy the obscene attributes of power, those honeys that must be tasted with discretion but that are the most effective motivation to agree opportunistically or to conspire in the shadows, as the case may be.

Today there is no conspiracy in the upper echelons, as in 1959, to avoid or promote communist ideology, nor to, as in the 1960s, to approach the Soviet Union or China. No one is plotting to continue reading

start a tropical perestroika anymore. Not even in the local academy do purists of Marxism appear confronting its reformers. No one has ever consulted the books on the political economy of socialism by P. Nikitin or cited the manuals of scientific communism, where it was claimed that humanity was experiencing the transition period from capitalism to socialism.

The most critical dilemma does not seem to be whether or not to proceed with the liquidation of the system (if it can be called that) but how to carry it out and when.

The debate has not yet emerged nor is it recorded in the minutes. Flashes only appear when the promulgation of a decree is prioritized or the presentation of laws to Parliament is delayed without explanation. You can see certain sparks in the advances and setbacks of the acceptance of the market rules or in the absurd prohibitions and timid permissiveness.

In the corridors of the Palace, in the halls of the Capitol, in the ministerial offices, change must be cooking. An enigmatic smile, raised eyebrows, a greeting, will be enough to create complicity. But the opacity in the deep opinions generates doubs and suspicions.

Much is debated about the role that this entelechy called “the military leadership” can play. Here we must distinguish the generals who have taken over the economy through the business group called Gaesa, from the commanders who have the operational capacity to mobilize troops. In parallel, the powerful political police have the mission of discovering any fickleness that could be considered as a presumed treason.

The absence of a transparent and democratic political debate makes anyone who tries to forge alliances to drive change a presumable traitor. The President of the Republic does not commit a crime, not even a mistake, if he orders State Security to seize documents in the offices of opposition parties. It does not engage in Watergate because opposition parties do not have a permit to exist and what is considered illegal is that they issue and keep documents.

That is the reason why the public does not even know who is in favor or against an article of a law, who has an open-minded tendency or who is part of the mechanisms to stop reforms. Everyone is supposed to agree before starting to argue, because unity is not only expressed in action, but also in thought.

The obsession with showing a monolithic union around continuity is intended to give the impression that “up there” everything is under control.

This unitary staging is aimed at the institutions and governments that exert pressure from abroad, the citizens residing on the island, the repressive forces that keep any discrepancies at bay and, very especially, that small group of characters of the so-called ’historic generation’. Although they have not appeared on the payroll of power since the Eighth Congress of the Party, they maintain “one foot in the stirrup” ready to defend their designs at any cost.

Sooner rather than later, the laws of biology will leave the watchmen of that immobile legacy out of the game and the actors in this farce, no longer masked, will want to show themselves to the world and to the people as the only ones capable of carrying out a controlled liquidation, without a power vacuum, bloodbaths or the piñatas of corruption; providers of amnesty and deserving of pardon.

Meanwhile, citizens remain oblivious to the affairs of politics and are amazed how in Spain they flay the political party Podemos, in Chile the president apologizes and promotes a change in the Constitution, in Peru they limit the powers of the president and in the United States he is accused of fraud against the party that won the elections. “Nothing like that happens here,” some think, as if it were a choir of angels that rule the country and not a pack of hungry wolves ready to tear each other apart.


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