We Can Only Avoid a Blood Bath in Cuba if the World Stops Looking Away

Yunior García Aguilera at the press conference in Madrid this Thursday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 18 November 2021 — “The Cuban problem is not called Yunior García, the Cuban problem is called dictatorship.” This is how forceful the playwright and opponent has been from Madrid, where he has held a press conference to relate the “terror” to which he has been subjected by the Cuban Government and which pushed him to leave the island.

“The revolution devoured their children and their grandchildren,” he denounced before recounting in a chronological way how he came to the opposition militancy.

García Aguilera has criticized the government from the left, calling it a “conservative caste” that exploits the workers and uses the wildest capitalism, building hotels in the harshest moments of the pandemic. “The regime became a Goliath that crushes the people, David,” he said at one point, turning on its head the image frequently used by the ruling party — David against Goliath — to refer to its relationship with the United States.

The creator of Archipiélago has compared the Cuban regime with the regime in Chile of Augusto Pinochet and has insisted that the leadership of power lives in a “bourgeois” way while he is a “true revolutionary.”

“It is a macho government that is cruel especially to women, like Carolina Barrero, and Yoani Sánchez, and has made life impossible for continue reading

a long time,” he also pointed out, advancing a metaphor that he used minutes later: “The regime has become an abusive husband who beats his wife. ”
“What exists in Cuba is fascism, what I have experienced in recent days cannot be called something else,” he stressed in reference to the threats and harassment of which he has been targeted. “How can anyone believe that this is on the left?”

The young man does not accept that they are trying to discredit him by calling him a “counterrevolutionary”: “I am a revolutionary because I want to change the dynamics of my country.”

The activist has recounted the harassment to which he was subjected in recent days, at which time, convinced that he would be arrested, he applied for a preemptive visa with which he tried to achieve some type of subsequent negotiation that would help him get out of prison. However, after November 15, when he had been isolated and incommunicado for hours, he was aware that the Government did not intend to arrest him.

“If they kill me they make me a symbol, if they take me to jail they make me a symbol,” he said. It was at that moment that he realized, he says, that the Government was planning to keep him away from society by keeping him locked up in his home, a situation that he could not bear. “They yelled insults at me and I felt like a Jew surrounded by Nazis.”

“If the only thing I have is my voice and they take it from me, then they have won,” said García, who stressed that a “living death” awaited him in Cuba. Illustratively, he has recounted the day he suffered an act of repudiation that included bird corpses on the fence of his house and has used the image as a metaphor. “If we stay in Cuba they will behead us like doves,” he said.

The opponent has repeatedly declared his intention to return after overcoming his anger at recent events. “I need to heal myself from that rage to start the fight again, and that will be when my life and that of my wife are not in danger.”

García Aguilera has repeated that he refuses to request asylum in Spain and has said that Cuba is his country and his mother and son are there, so it does not even cross his mind to stay in Madrid in the long term.

The playwright says: “I have a 90-day visa and during my stay I am going to connect with artists and focus on the movement of Cuban artists here.”

The founder of Archipiélago has revealed that on the 14th, despite having his phone cut off, he found a means of communication through which he got in touch with the cardinal of Havana, whom he asked to pray for him because he was afraid of having rage. “I needed to heal my anger to find my balance. I never wanted to stop being tolerant.”

In the same way, he has confessed to reading “painful things” about him once he was able to access the internet after landing in Spain, and apologizes to his colleagues from Achipiélago for not being able to bear more pressure. “I have to forgive myself for being human and apologize for not being made of stone or bronze,” he added.

García Aguilera has also rejected the US embargo, which he believes acts as an ally of the regime by providing it excuses, and has vindicated the use of dialogue with all political forces if the time comes.

The opponent, who has been moved by talking about his 10-year-old son, has begged the international press to look for the stories of anonymous Cubans who have not had the luck that he has had, being able to leave the island thanks to his visibility.

He has also referenced the names of José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, visible head of the San Isidro Movement, Félix Navarro, of the group of 75, and Maykel Castillo Osorbo.

García Aguilera took the opportunity to close the press conference with a message calling on the international community to help. Thus, he opined that “it is inadmissible for Cuba to have a chair on the UN Human Rights Commission.”

At the same time he rejected, for the umpteenth time, an armed intervention. “A Cuba for all cannot be achieved through violence, but through dialogue. They believe that this fight is won through blows.”

“Let us not get angry,” he asked. “This cannot become a bloodbath. It is the only way we have to get out of this, because we cannot continue to be slaves. But we cannot achieve freedom at that price either,” he said. “A bloodbath can only be avoided if the world stops looking the other way.”

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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’s New Family Code Eliminates Child Marriage

Other new element of the Code addresses “assisted reproduction.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 November 2021 — The draft of the new Cuban Family Code, in its 23rd version, has eliminated the exception that authorized the marriage of adolescents between 16 and 18 years of age. “We celebrate the end of Child Marriage in Cuba, an achievement of independent feminist activism,” claims the platform #YoSíTeCreo (I Do Believe in You) Cuba.

In statements to official media, the vice president of the National Union of Cuban Jurists (UJNC), Yamila González Ferrer, noted that the Code in force since 1975 allows the marriage of girls at 14 and boys at 16 with the exceptional authorization of their parents. Under this law, more than 320 girls under the age of 15 were married in Cuba between 2018 and 2019.

González Ferrer specified that “girls between 14 and 18 years old marry men who are twice or triple their age and, from there, leave school, become pregnant, become economically dependent. As they are not educated and have limited possibilities to improve technically or professionally, they also have less possibilities of accessing employment.” continue reading

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) considers child marriage a violation of human rights. For this reason, the possibility of marriage through the exception contemplated by current legislation contrasts with the ratification by the Cuban State of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Another new element in the proposed Code addresses “assisted reproduction,” which opens the door to surrogate wombs, although the official press does not refer to it by this name. In this regard, González Ferrer explained that the regulation of “solidarity gestation” is still being outlined to avoid “the exploitation or use of women’s bodies and against the trafficking of children.”

The so-called surrogacy, which consists of implanting a fertilized egg in a “surrogate” woman, who has no biological relationship with the future child, is a very controversial option, allowed in very few countries. It is only regulated in Canada, some states of the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, the United Kingdom, Australia and India, and is subject to many conditions.

In the case of this version of the Cuban Family Code, the authorities assure that they will protect “that future pregnant woman from the psychological effects that may arise from carrying a child that is not hers,” as González Ferrer pointed out.

“To give just one example, the ovum that is going to be fertilized will never belong to that pregnant woman, unless she is going to be part of a multi-parental project,” she declared in Cubadebate.

The official media notes that the regulation of solidarity gestation “requires specific legal norms that go beyond the family sphere,” specifically gynecological and obstetric issues (which they do not mention here either). That is why, as they say, they are working on “special binding rules and protocols” with the Ministry of Health.

This new version also mentions “post mortem artificial insemination,” an option that allows a widow to be inseminated by her “spouse or partner” for a period of up to one year after death.

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Rust Has Taken Over Havana’s Playgrounds

Some children are forced to make up their own games under the structures that used to support the swings. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 21 November 2021 — “This looks like the tetanus park with so much rust on the structures,” complains a mother who has arrived with her son to take advantage of the reopening, after a long closure, of the playground on 104th between 39th and 41st, in the municipality capital of Marianao. “The merry-go-round is practically a foot chopping blade, a complete disaster,” she says before leaving with her little one. “Let’s go, this is no time to end up in the hospital.”

Far from having taken advantage of the closure that they have experienced for more than a year due to the pandemic to renovate the facilities, the parks have reopened in conditions of worrying abandonment and deterioration, which has resulted in the discomfort of parents and even some children when noticing the bad condition of the swings, slides, and other games.

“Papi, why is everything broken and dirty?” a little girl asks innocently at the 1004th Street park, to which her father replied: “The economic crisis my love, the country does not have the resources to fix anything right now.” How can he tell a little girl that the government prefers to invest in luxury hotels for tourists? To make her displeasure pass, the father decided to take the little girl to eat an ice cream in the cafeteria on the corner. continue reading

Some children are forced to settle for inventing games under the structures that once supported swings and boats, the smallest under adult supervision, but the largest were at their mercy. “Boys be careful!” shouted a woman who was watching her son from a bench to others who running across the place while they played. “You have to see things in this country, even the fence has been stolen,” she exclaimed annoyed, while pointing out the more than 10 meters of mesh that the park is missing.

How can he tell a little girl that the government prefers to invest in luxury hotels for tourists rather than parks? (14ymedio)

The enthusiasm with which the state newspaper Granma announced on November 14 the reopening of the parks, coinciding with the anniversary of Havana — a date moved up by the Government to discourage the Civic March — led some parents to take their children to enjoy some leisure time in them. “Joy takes the parks of Cuba,” the official newspaper headlined, but in La Pera, a man who had approached with his family commented: “Those who have to take over the parks are the masons and metallurgists, because more than joy what this level of abandonment offers is sadness.”

“Oh God, be careful Pabli,” exclaimed a girl of about nine years old in this same park located in the Plaza municipality, when she saw how her friend had leaned against a wall of blocks that constitutes the perimeter fence that, just at that moment that the stones broke away. For months, some people have been stealing several of those stacked blocks as a last resort in the face of a lack of building materials for sale.

The incident gave the little ones a scare, although some of the restless children who usually play in that place, often come home with cuts and scrapes produced by some broken metal or a loose screw. “Hopefully they will come to fix the park before a misfortune occurs with a child,” said an older woman who, with the help of her cane, was heading towards a line on one of the corners to shop in the Rapidito at Requena and Lugareño.

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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.

The Imponderables of History, Fidel Castro and Diaz-Canel

The fall of the Castro regime has been announced since he proclaimed his Marxist-Leninist character and Díaz-Canel may have to bury him. (Escambray)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Frank Calzón, Miami, 18 November 2021 — The imponderables make historical predictions difficult, but from the moment, in April 1961, when Fidel Castro proclaimed the Marxist-Leninist character of his revolution, the collapse of the regime began. The collapse may still be delayed, but it is inevitable, as it was in racist South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, and in the European communist regimes.

In all those countries, where fundamental human rights were denied for years, the levels of repression soared before citizen mobilizations that, without violence, demanded a national dialogue in search of solutions to the political, economic and ethical crisis that their nations were suffering.

The response of the authorities in those countries was to declare martial law, that is, take the troops to the streets, imprison many without presenting them in court, persecute national journalists and foreign correspondents, cut off communications, try to discredit opponent leaders, use blackmail and intimidation and blame foreign powers.

The result was that international human rights organizations, democratic governments, intellectuals, artists, union and religious leaders from around the world defended the activists and obtained restrictive measures against dictatorships. And, within those societies, disenchantment and opposition within the Armed Forces, the bureaucracy, the Party and the mass organizations grew. continue reading

The regimes fell into the classic vicious circle: the peaceful opposition urged a dialogue demanding internationally recognized basic rights — freedom of expression, assembly and association — and the government responded with more abuse, beatings, rigged trials, violent arrests against protesters who were trying to exercise rights guaranteed by law, while the authorities violated their own constitutions. While the opposition presented a message of hope and tolerance for all, the authorities insisted on the continuity of an obviously failed system.

The opposition responded against Pinochet in Chile with the No Campaign in the plebiscite; in Poland with the workers’ strikes and the sermons in the churches; in Prague with concerts, performances and banned songs at the Green Lantern; in Lithuania with the chain of thousands of people shaking hands from one end to the other of their small country, which had suffered the Nazi and Russian occupation.

The Polish general Wojciech Jaruzelski understood in time what was good for his country as well as for himself and his family. He sent to the prison for Lech Walesa, the leading electrician of the Polish workers, to talk and seek solutions. Some accused Walesa of treason for meeting with the tyrant.

Years later, Walesa himself told me in Warsaw that, when he arrived at the meeting, the dictator general asked him why he did not sit down. His response was that he could not hold a conversation until the political prisoners were released. That was the beginning, and when the dictator, believing his own propaganda, agreed to call elections, convinced that the opposition would get no more than 30% of the vote, the Polish people overwhelmingly chose the opposition. Later, Walesa became president and received the Nobel Prize. Poland won and Jaruzelski did too, as he remained in his country undisturbed; where he died years later.

In the case of South Africa, something very similar happened. Nelson Mandela, a Marxist and promoter of revolutionary violence, was serving a long sentence on Robben Island for his terrorist activities. When he opted for non-violent struggle (which Mahatma Ghandi had used to defeat the British Empire in India), the demonstrations in Soweto and international sanctions led South African President FW de Klerk, leader of the South African apartheid government, to give in, realizing that the situation was untenable.

South African leaders and their families were already outcasts who could not even travel to the world’s most important capitals, and the world’s leading artists boycotted the Pretoria regime.

Then, the two enemies met. The racist dictatorship ended with the repeal of the apartheid system. Multi-party elections were held. The world suspended sanctions against South Africa. The transition was not easy, and South African politics remain difficult. But de Klerk and Mandela made the change. Together they received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994. When he served his term, he retired and other younger politicians were elected to direct the destinies of the country. Mandela died at the age of 95 in South Africa, in 2013. De Klerk lived the rest of his days quietly in Pretoria and has just died (on November 11th) at the age of 85.

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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.

Lines, Cops and High Prices on Havana’s Malecon

Cuban authorities set up food stalls on the Malecon on Saturday, which were open until nighttime. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 21 November 2021 — With recorded music broadcast at full volume and under the surveillance of numerous members of the Ministry of the Interior and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the authorities of Havana set up food stalls on the Malecón this Saturday, which were open until nighttime.

Several ambulances and military vehicles deployed throughout the area, accompanied the panorama, while drinks and food were sold at kiosks at high prices.

“We have only got fat, nothing else!” Complained a man who, together with his wife, bought several boxes of food to take away, with rice, cassava and some pieces of pork. “This is pure butter,” he insisted.

At various points on the Malecón, small boxes with chicken or pork were sold that included a garnish of rice and a meal, priced at 150 pesos (6 dollars at the official exchange rate). One could also find canned drinks and soft drinks at high prices. continue reading

The assistants ran from one place to another each time a vehicle arrived to stock the tents where the food was sold. Some people, perched on the Monument to the Victims of the Battleship Maine, waited for hours for an anticipated ice cream truck, which never arrived.

The most popular kiosks were the ones that had breads and sweets for sale and where the long lines lasted until the stroke of nine o’clock at night when a heavy downpour dispersed the crowd as well as the law enforcement officers.

“Look at this! Such a long line and drenched in in water to buy these teeth-breaking torticas (shortbread cookies) you can’t even eat!” lamented a woman who took shelter from the untimely rain in the portal of Coppelita.

Several ambulances and military vehicles deployed throughout the area, accompanied the scene. (14ymedio)

At the end of October, the capital authorities announced that “Have fun on the Malecón,” as they call this type of fair, was going to be held until November 16, however, the date has been extended after the opposition group Archipiélago announced it would maintain its call for protests until November 27.

A few yards from the shoreline, away from the hustle and bustle, at 23 y L, the Yara cinema was showing the feature film Cuentos de un día más, the first film co-produced between the state-run Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry (Icaic) and collectives from independent creation. The film, coordinated by director Fernando Pérez, brings together six stories that try to reflect part of the reality of today’s Cuba.

The reopening of cinemas, theaters and cultural centers is part of the framework that the Cuban Government developed to open the country to tourism as of November 15, alleging a decrease in cases of covid-19 and that a large percentage of the population has been vaccinated.

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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: A Manual for a Successful Protest March

Police on alert at Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution on Thursday, November 12. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, November 19, 2021 — If I had written this article before November 15, people would have been called me a pessimist, a harbinger of bad luck, a saboteur of protest marches, and in a way they would have been right. I would never collaborate with the oppressors but, in general terms, I knew how this was going to turn out.

Members the online Archipelago group who called for the march were very brave, as were those who showed up to protest. But bravery alone does not win battles. You have to know when and how to retreat.

Some believe that the July 11 protests were unsuccessful because they did not immediately bring about the final victory over tyranny many were hoping for. They are, however, mistaken. The protests were, in fact, a great victory because they shook civil society — students, professionals, artists, clergymen, Masons, even many who had, until then, been staunch supporters of the status quo — out of its complacency.

With the ghost of Ceausescu haunting the halls of the Palace of the Revolution, the oppressors no longer dare to continue reading

hold mass demonstrations, as they did in the past. When they did call for so-called “revolutionary reaffirmation” to deal with the protests, many of those who were summoned refused to show up. The glorious events of July 11 did represent a victory. However, no single battle wins a war.

News footage from November 15 showed the streets of the capital in a state of calm and the regime successfully managing to maintain control. This led some reporters, such as CNN’s Patrick Oppmann, to ask, “Why aren’t Cubans coming out to protest?” In contrast Euronews broadcast images not only of large-scale police deployments but of arrests of protestors shouting demands for freedom and democracy as well as arrests of well-known opposition figures such as Manuel Cuesta Morua, Guillermo Fariñas and Berta Soler.

To be fair, the qualified response I would give to Oppmann’s question would be the same as his: “This time the Cuban government had time to prepare.”

When my daughter called me from Ecuador several days earlier to ask what I thought would happen, I replied with a popular saying I had often heard in childhood: “Soldiers forewarned of an attack don’t get killed.” The events of July 11 were a social eruption that took not only the government but most of its opponents by surprise. There was no need for a nationwide call to protest. It started in just one town and quickly spread throughout the country thanks to social media.

Months before the July 11 protests, some Cuban exiles in Miami tried to convene something similar. I wrote in an article, “Social eruptions are not convened.” Nevertheless, it was clear to me that it would not take much to set one off. That is why, when the Cuban government alleged that the explosive protests were planned by the CIA and Cubans living in south Florida, I laughed.

But in the case of November 15, the fact that the results were not as hoped cannot be explained solely on the fact that the government had been forewarned. It was also because the planned protest was not well-timed. The wounds from last July’s repression had not yet healed and numerous protesters remained in prison.

This reminded me of the so-called Little War in the 19th century, which began very shortly after the Ten Years War. It took some time afterwards for Jose Marti, as head of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, to prepare for the final struggle that would lead to independence. The difference here, of course, is one of time. What took years to accomplish back then can now be achieved in a few days, thanks largely to technology.

July 11 also fell on a Sunday, a day when most workers and students were at home. The results are not the same on a weekday. Many find it inconvenient to leave work or school to join an anti-government demonstration, whether it is formally planned or not.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” says Ecclesiastes. The Cuban peasant was very patient and always knew exactly when his crops should be harvested, when the moon was perfect and, in the meantime, watered and cared for his plants. Our own fruit, to paraphrase Jose Marti, requires a natural and arduous gestation period. For now, it’s maturing.
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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.

Inflation in Transportation in Cuba: A Threat to the Economy

It is not unusual in cities and villages in the interior of the island, to see the horse and cart in use as one of the main means of transport. Taken from Carol Kieker’s blog.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 20 November 2021 — The failure of the communist social model imposed by the Castro regime for 62 years has one of its most obvious results in transportation.

In Cuba, unlike in the rest of the countries of the world, mobility depends on the existence of a state service, by bus or train or by horse-drawn carriage when things go wrong, but there is no independent and private transport.

The fleet of private cars is minimal and, because we do not track it, there are no statistics on how many cars circulate in the country. In Cuba, access to a private car as an investment is impossible for the vast majority of the population. The first cars that were put up for sale, those ridiculous Peugeots, were offered for scandalous prices that generated no little controversy. The private car is a luxury.

In such conditions, the mobility of people depends on the existence of national bus terminals in the different provinces and on services, under a monopoly regime, to which there is no choice but to resort when it comes to a travel for any reason. continue reading

Passenger transport by bus accounted for 62% of conventional means and 47% of the total. The alternative is a train that does not offer guaranteed departures or arrivals, and that meets 0.2% of the demand. Finally, travel by means of an ox or horse cart, the so-called animal traction, reached 27% of the total, in the official statistics of the ONEI.

“Makeshift” buses have been common in Cuba; here a cart pulled by a tractor is used as a bus in Pinar del Rio. (MJ Porter)

This being the case, mobility is a failure of the model, because all the service goes through the state, which has to invest in the purchase of buses, but also in terminals, spare parts, technology, internet, etc. So much so that, in the end, we have bitten off more than we can chew.

Now that the nation is beginning to regain a certain normality after the COVID-19 pandemic that required people be immobilized, the transport sector is showing a series of deficiencies and is unable to meet the increasing demand.

Changing the model is not possible. Cubans will not be able to buy cars, as in other countries, to achieve their free and independent mobility. The state will continue to provide the service under a monopoly regime. With known deficiencies. So what can we expect from all of this?

Cubans waiting for a bus, which may or may not come and will certainly be unlikely to meet the demand.

Little or nothing. An article in Cubadebate entitled “Interprovincial transport: a service on wheels?”explain some interesting things.

The authorities have set to work starting where they always have: service planning. An activity that consumes time and effort, and then leads to nothing because the plans are not met. And so, for example, it is found that of 19 planned departures in a terminal, only 9 left in these first days of the return to normality.

This is a good a priori data. That there is more supply than demand is a rarity in the Cuban economy where the usual thing is that there is a deficit, a shortage and this requires rationing.

So, how is it possible that interprovincial transport has these results? It seems it is due to planning errors. Those responsible decided to launch the same departures as before the pandemic, and of course, things have changed and no one seems to have realized it. The state planner to his own.

Produce routines, orders and processes, and then make mistakes. The reason is simple. The planner has no idea of the needs of the market. He plans because it is his thing, but he has never studied marketing in his life, nor does he base his calculations on market studies. Not interested. His goal is the plan. And we see the results. Routes and more routes, and then the buses do not leave or they go empty.

And above all, they believe that acting in this way is correct, even when it is recognized that they still do not cover most of the demand. In other words, they are committed to programming services that have less demand than supply, and there are others that are neglected. The state planner to his own.

Which is precisely not listening to people and attending to their needs. What for? Everyone’s salary will be charged regardless of the service and profits of the company. The state will cover the losses with subsidies and start over. And so we get to the source of the problem. The provision of transportation service by the state generates a perverse dynamic of dependence of this activity on the subsidies of the regime. Precisely when in the rest of the countries of the world, passenger transport is private, either with people’s own cars, or through private transport companies that earn money from the services they provide.

The directors of the state transport companies live calmly, because the consumer is not the king. And if they complain, it can be worse. They obey another monarch, the communist party, which arbitrarily and with political criteria, says what has to be done, and what does not.

And this is the second derivative of the problem. The first, state provision, the second communist interference. And with these ingredients, you have to think about how the basket that is manufactured is going to come out: of course, badly and full of holes.

Added to this are the problems derived from the lack of profitability, such as the lack of investment in new buses or in spare parts for tires or batteries, among others, which makes it impossible to respond quickly to unexpected increases in demand.

And if the bus is a failure, however you look at it, the railroad is even worse. The low use of this means of transport by passengers is due to the absolute neglect of the authorities. The design of the network, for example, has hardly changed from what existed before 1959.

People wait to be picked up by a passing driver on a main arterial nearly empty of traffic. (14ymedio)

On the other hand, private transport through the formal and informal ride-sharing system is used by the population, but since it is a sector regulated and intervened in by the state, it prevents an efficient provision of services, as it could be verified when the Ordering Task* came into effect and official rates were applied.

In the midst of this panorama, something appears that has caught the attention of analysts in relation to transport, and it is the spectacular increase in prices. The measurement of the inflation rate of the Cuban economy by ONEI, as of this October (latest published data) places the increase in the general price level at 66.3%, one of the highest in Latin America.

But if inflation has risen significantly, the component of the index that has risen the most has been, curiously, Transport, nothing more and nothing less than 174.7%, more than double the average, and a three-digit rate that is alarming due to its intensity, and above all, because it has an effect on the prices of other goods and services.

Thus, the return to normality in the last three weeks has coincided with a spectacular increase in transport prices and, perhaps because of this, demand is contained and does not reach pre-pandemic levels. The communists disdain the market and the laws of supply and demand, but one day they will have no choice but to recognize that they work and work much better than that silly planning that from year to year produces defaults and failures.

The highlight of this outbreak of inflation is that it starts from a time when demand was contained. Its origin is in production costs (energy) and is explained by the measures adopted in the Ordering Task, which have moved the Cuban economy away from the price stability that it had been experiencing until 2019.

With the diminished purchasing power of wages and pensions, and a low capacity to save, Cubans will reduce their demand for transport if prices do not return to levels compatible with the purchasing power of the population. And that would bring a greater need for state subsidies for companies, which goes against the Ordering Task. The transport sector is thus trapped in a vicious circle from which it will not easily escape, and the responsibility for this is squarely on the regime.

As indicated in the Cubadebate report, communists always blame others for their failures, they are incapable of taking responsibility for the country’s economic disaster. Now it is unscrupulous individuals who raise prices to take advantage of people.

Messages of the style that people take advantage of the situation, of problems, to earn money, go against the rationality of economic activity and are a populist hindrance that does not help to solve a problem which, like many others in Cuba is arranged with more freedom and choice. Transportation is a sector that should be privatized in its entirety.

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = The [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others. 

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Tips to Tourists to See the Harsh Reality in the Cuban Paradise

Tourists passing down 23rd Street in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 20 November 2021 — I like the complicity of my terrace, especially at that time when I don’t know if it’s day or night, and the city wakes up smelling of the sea and freshly brewed coffee. In front of me the Capitol is projected with its golden dome and its monumental architecture, which not only dwarfs man, but also hides a city that suffers from neglect, heartbreak and the incompetence of a government more interested in appearances than in realities.

Upon arrival, dear tourists, you will find buildings gnawed by 60 years of indolence. With their cracks and exposed steel descending to their foundations, weakening their structures and causing them to collapse in some cases without warning. Collapses that condemn humble and working families to live in shelters, which look more like ghettos than temporary homes.

You can search, investigate, find those families who live in deplorable conditions in marginal neighborhoods that you can’t even imagine exist in the “Cuban paradise” that was described to you by the travel agency. If you do, you will discover people whose hope dies in the archives of oblivion or in the worn-out cliché of the lack of resources produced by a ’blockade’ (the US embargo) that only seems to exist for the most humble sector of society. continue reading

You should know beforehand that the ultra-worn excuse of lack of resources was disproved when in 1991 they squandered millions to satisfy the pride of a self-centered, hypocritical and lying dictator. And it is an easily disproved lie if we calculate the number of luxury hotels that are now being built in a few months. From those same terraces, they will be able to appreciate with their own eyes the harsh reality that the media under the control of the dictatorship try to hide from the world.

You, as I watch from my beloved terrace, will witness how the cancer of abandonment and indolence devours a city left to its own devices and where the few resources that exist are sold in the currency of the American enemy.

Your cameras will show the world the great scam of this failed and outdated system, designed to limit man’s progress in order to subdue and make him dependent. So I invite you all, camera in hand, to seek and show the world the fallacy.

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Spain’s Foreign Minister Supports Freedom in Cuba and Receives Yunior Garcia

Image of the meeting between Minister José Manuel Albares and Yunior García. (Twitter / @ jmalbares)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Madrid, 20 November 2021 — Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, expressed his support for freedom of expression and demonstration in Cuba this Friday after the Spanish Government facilitated the departure of Yunior García, one of the promoters of the Civic March that calls for a political change in the country.Albares explained to the Joint Commission of the European Union that Yunior García, with whom he had a meeting, received a visa from the consulate in Havana that was processed “normally.” It is, according to the Executive, a short-term tourist visa with limited territorial validity.

In his meeting with García, the minister told the activist of Spain’s commitment to freedom, as noted on Twitter .

In commission and in the face of criticism from Vox, which accuses the Government of “lukewarmness” and of siding with the “Castro dictatorship”, Albares has defended that he has spoken “very clearly” about Cuba: “Freedom of expression, freedom of demonstration and return of credentials to Efe journalists,” he said.

The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, also expressed this Friday the government’s concern about the situation in Cuba and pointed out that its objective is to help the well-being of Cubans and to guarantee their rights. That is why the ’documentation’ for García’s arrival in Madrid was facilitated.

Yunior García is the promoter of the Civic March of November 15 against the Cuban Government and, after his arrival in Spain, he has demanded an end to the romantic idea about a country that “is a dictatorship” and where the relationship of the Government with its people has become a “failed marriage.” continue reading

In a recent interview, the coordinator of the Archipiélago platform said that his departure from the island has been “celebrated as a victory for” the Cuban government, but what they really won was “the terror that they have implanted. You have to wonder how long can win that terror.”

The activist said that he went to the Spanish Embassy “to request a visa” in expectation of being arrested, and thus having the option of leaving the country. “If my only weapon has always been the word, I had to find a way to defend that word.”

García Aguilera warned that being away from the island does not mean that he is going to renounce his ideas, his principles, his objectives, but he did point out that they were moments that changed his life. “When you experience things that I can only compare to fascism, a rage begins within you that is very difficult to control.”

The aim is to “be useful” and then return to his country, as well as working for the liberation of the Archipiélago activists who were arrested and whose whereabouts are still unknown. “I’m not going to rest until those people are free and safe.” He insists that, although everyone “is waiting for a statement from Yunior,” now “the important thing is those who are detained inside Cuba, who are not allowed to leave their home, who are without internet, who cannot speak.”

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Otero Alcantara Has Been Invited to Art Activities Outside Cuba

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of Movimiento San Isidro (Foto: EFE/Yander Zamora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 19, 2021–Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara reaffirmed that he “would not, under any circumstances, accept exile as an option” to leave Cuba, as he made known to art curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo, following a visit from his family at the prison where he has been held since the July 11th nationwide protests.

However, the leader of Movimiento San Isidro (MSI), to which Genlui also belongs, continues expressing “his willingness to leave the country to participate in artistic and residence programs which had already been planned and in which he had committed to participate.”

Genlui’s clarification comes a few weeks after it became known that the Cuban Government intended to remove Otero Alcántara from the Island as part of the negotiations announced by Tania Bruguera, and which facilitated the exit of artists Hamlet Lavastida and Katherine Bisquet, who traveled to Poland after Lavastida was released from prison in exchange for exile.

“Yesterday, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara’s family was able to visit him in Guanajay, a maximum-security prison, where he remains since July 11th, accused of the alleged crimes of aggravated assault, public disorder, and instigation of a crime,” wrote Genlui on her Facebook page. “He is also charged with offending patriotic symbols, a charge imposed last year for his work Le drapeau,” she added.

His family also communicated to Genlui that “he is well, plays sports and is in good spirits, though he is very worried for Maykel Castillo’s continue reading

health, of which he was informed at that moment.”

Furthermore, she said the artist was well-informed of all that had occurred on the Island in the last few days and “reaffirmed his commitment to the Cuban people.” “Movimiento San Isidro continues to track him and all political prisoners,” she concludes.

One of the family members who visited him relayed to 14ymedio that Otero Alcántara maintains his same convictions. “Not for a moment did he appear to be lost or that the events he is experiencing have changed his view, not at all.” The source also noted that visits to the prison will occur every two weeks.

While Otero Alcántara has been jailed, he contracted COVID-19 and between September and October, was on a hunger and thirst strike for several days to demand his release and that of all political prisoners, according to a statement from MSI.

The activist has been detained on numerous occasions since 2018, though the repression against him escalated in November 2020 when he initiated a hunger and thirst strike along with several activists to demand the release of rapper Denis Solís. It ended when the police rushed Movimiento San Isidro’s headquarters in Old Havana on November 26th, where members of the group were entrenched, and arrested 14 activists who were inside the building.

Toward the end of April, Otero Alcántara declared once again a hunger and thirst strike to demand an end to the police siege at his home. State Security entered his home in the middle of the night and transported him to Calixto García Hospital, where he remained without explanation for a month in the custody of security forces. On that occasion, Amnesty International declared him a “prisoner of conscience”.

In mid-September, Time magazine named Otero Alcántara one of the 100 most influential people of the year.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

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Social Networks and International Pressure Achieve the Release of a Cuban Minor

Starting image of the video broadcast by ’Girón’, in which, once it begins, only Reniel González’s mother speaks. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 November 2021 — Reniel Rodríguez, the 15-year-old activist arrested on Wednesday at his school, was released this Thursday as confirmed by his own brother through Twitter and spread the account of the Alianza Juvenil Libertaria (ALJ), of which he is founder. The day before, the boy had been led by a teacher to a police car in which he was taken to an EFI (Comprehensive Training School — i.e. ‘reform school’) of the Ministry of the Interior.

The release came shortly after the provincial daily Girón published a video in which his mother, María Josefa González Mayé, appeared “clarifying what had happened.” In the images, published on the newspaper’s Facebook account, the video starts with a photograph of the young man with his mother in which it is seen that he his hair appears as it had previously, in apparent contradiction with the dissemination of information that his head was shaved. However, immediately afterwards the video starts with the mother alone and Reniel is not seen again.

González Mayé tells the camera that on the 15th her son uploaded a video to the networks with a call in favor of the Archipiélago opposition march, something that she was unaware of at that time. Later, some officers came to her house to tell her that she should take her son to Menores, so she went to the school to pick him up. Rainel’s mother insists that he was present throughout the interrogation and insistently alleges that he was treated “very well.”

According to her version, at that time they informed her that she should go to the EFI, something that at first upset both of them, but she later said continue reading

that she had visited the place and greeted the director and the workers and changed her mind about the good treatment that, she repeats, she saw was given to the boy. “If my son had been treated badly, I would say so, I am not going to lie,” she says pre-emptively.

Before finishing the video, González Mayé sends a message to parents, asking them to be very aware of their children’s activities on social networks.

From the account of the Libertarian Youth Alliance, it has been assumed that Reniel’s mother was coerced to record the version that exonerates the authorities of an event that has spread like wildfire on social networks and led to a complaint to organizations such as UNICEF regarding the attitude of the Cuban government.

“The love of a mother for her son knows no limits. We believe that it would have been more true if the child, Reniel, would have made the statement, giving his reasons and demands. Not making this cheap copy of a reality show. We keep asking for concrete images of his situation,” said the AJL, which also observed that González Mayé was “having a horrible and depressing moment with her son, and that the Government is only trying to castrate his voice as it has always done with citizens who demand their rights.”

The youth organization also celebrated the news of the departure of its founder from the center with a tweet in which it praised the avalanche of solidarity received, resulting, in its opinion, in the resolution of the situation. “We are all grateful for the exceptional support they have offered in all forms and means. Once again we show that we are Fuenteovejuna. We unite for a just cause, injustice trembled and the people rose up.”

See also: #FreeLunatico

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The Escape of Another Cuban Baseball Player Rains on the Celebration of the Day of Physical Culture and Sports

The young player Luis Jesús Quesada is already in the Dominican Republic. (@ francysromero10)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 November 2021 — Cuban national sport is in crisis. This Friday the prospect Luis Jesús Quesada left the island and is already in the Dominican Republic. The athlete from Cienfuegos joined Cristián de Jesús López, Darlin Jiménez and Gustavo Urgellés, who emigrated in the last 30 days in search of opportunities in Major League Baseball in the United States (MLB).

Quesada “left through the legal channels of the country,” according to the journalist Francys Romero. At 16, he said, “he is one of the best talents in his class and, according to my rankings, the number one in batting average and home runs in his category.” In the last National Championship with Cienfuegos, his average was .416 (37 hits in 89 at-bats), 11 doubles and three home runs.

The bleeding of players continues, while the state newspaper Granma highlights in an article Cuba’s “essence of a world sports power” on the Day of Physical Culture and Sports, recognizing the role of physical education as “the basis of Cuban sports.”

A foundation that seems broken with the flight of 12 baseball players  last October from the U-23 World Cup that continue reading

took place in Sonora, Mexico, and another three in the Baseball Pre-Olympic in Florida with the desertions of César Prieto, Lázaro Blanco and Andy Rodríguez. To these losses was added that of the team psychologist, Jorge Sile Figueroa.

“I don’t know well about other sports, but young players don’t have the opportunity to grow on the island, they don’t have the freedom to choose, that’s why they run away,” said the players’ agent based in Miami, Carlos Pérez. “The boys shouldn’t have to be jumping from balconies or seeking asylum.” Meanwhile, Romero warned that “with the recent opening of airports in Cuba, the emigration of baseball players will begin to resume its normal patterns.”

The desertions have spread to other disciplines, such as the judokas Ayumi Leyva and Nahomys Acosta and the basketball player Raudelis Guerra, who left the island’s delegation during stopovers in Madrid, Spain, which affected the image of INDER (National Institute for Sports Physical Education & Recreation).

This Friday it was also announced that one of the youths who left the patriotic team in Mexico, Miguel Antonio González, is already in the US and will be represented by David Hastings. The next objective will be to obtain a free agent, although several teams have already shown interest in adding him to their ranks.

Last season he had an offensive line of .318 / .417 / .439, 7 doubles and two homers, plus 14 RBIs. In the U23 World Cup, he registered “five games, with .385 / .556 / .385, 5 hits in 13 at-bats and 3 RBI,” highlighted the FR website.

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Cuba Begins Two-Day Moncada 2021 Military Exercises

Raúl Castro was present with Díaz-Canel at the start of the Moncada 2021 exercise yesterday. (Estudios Revolución)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 19 November 2021 – The Moncada 2021 military exercise, which was convened to coincide with the date initially requested for the Civic March for Change, began this Thursday in Cuba with the participation of the high political command, including former President Raúl Castro, and in order to “prepare in situations of risk or threat to the security of the country “.

For two days, the main Cuban leaders and military chiefs will study “actions to prevent and face risk situations, threats and attacks on the country’s security,” according to the official state newspaper Granma.

The organ of the Communist Party of Cuba added that the maneuvers are carried out in the scenario of “unconventional war” imposed by the United States.

On Saturday 20, when Moncada 2021 ends, the National Defense Day will be celebrated with training activities and others contextualized in the “War of All the People,” a current strategy in Cuba in the face of eventual aggression.

The Cuban government convened these exercises last October 8, making them coincide with the date on which the Archipiélago opposition platform had requested permission to organize its marches in favor of political change in the country, scheduled for November 20. continue reading

Faced with this decision that the group considered “the threat of the tanks,” Archipiélago changed the day of its mobilization to November 15 to avoid coinciding with Defense Day, but the Government still did not give authorization, making the march illegal, also militarizing the country and threatening or preventing many activists from leaving their homes.

Every year, Cuba holds military exercises at this time, although the specific dates were interpreted as a clear response to the demonstrations, confirmed by the attitude towards the March even as the day moved. In addition, Moncada Exercises are of a higher level than traditional maneuvers and are usually announced much longer in advance.

The Moncada military exercises have been carried out sporadically with the objective of “increasing the level of preparation and cohesion of the leadership and command bodies at all levels, the troops, the economy and the population.”

The first time they were held was in 1980 — the most prominent were in 2007 and 2008 — and they are generally convened as an appeal to the United States that they “not underestimate” the Cuban people.

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Archipelago States Motives for Protest are Still Valid and Extends It Until November 27

Yunior Garcia trapped inside his home as pro-government supporters rally outside.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 16, 2021 — After the Cuban government took actions that prevented the Civic March for Change from taking place, the online platform Archipelago issued a statement in response, calling upon participants to extend the protests until November 27, the one-year anniversary of a sit-in by artists and intellectuals in front of the Ministry of Culture. The group states, “The Cuban people have never been more united in the struggle for their rights.

The dissident group is proposing a series of activities to draw attention to its message. It asks people to continue wearing white clothing, carrying single roses, banging metal pots at 9:00 PM every night and spreading the word about what is happening in the country, their families and their neighborhoods, particularly among those who do not have access to social media.

It is also inviting all those sympathetic to its cause to lay a rose at the statue of a Cuban martyr at time time that feels appropriate and safe, documenting their actions so they can be disseminated online. The group characterizes such action as a way to repay “a debt of honor to the Apostle José Martí.”

The group made its proposal in a statement, released after midnight, in which it summarized the previous day’s events. The document criticizes actions by the government, stating it has criminalized and shown contempt continue reading

for the right to freedom of expression, assembly and protest recognized by the Cuban constitution and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It accuses the government of “turning Cubans against Cubans.”

“The Cuban government has responded to our calls the way a dictatorship does: with extreme militarization of the streets, harassment of more than a hundred activists, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, acts of repudiation, threats, coercion and hate-filled speeches,” the document states. The group warns it will not tolerate this escalation of violence against peaceful citizens.

Despite all the efforts by authorities, the group portrays the march as a success. It cites expressions of solidarity it received from 120 cities around the world and from those in Cuba who were able to take to the streets to show a minimal gesture of support. “We have surpassed ourselves as a nation and this is the resounding success of November 15.

The group’s efforts will continue till November 27 and its goals remain the same: the release of political prisoners and prisoners or conscience, respect for the rights of expression, assembly and protest, an end to politically motivated violence among Cubans and the beginning of a dialogue with the goal of to resolving differences by democratic and peaceful means.

At the end of the statement the group suggests November 27 will not mark the end of its activities: “If the Government does not abandon its efforts to violate our rights, we will continue the civic struggle until Cuba is a state of rights, a republic ’of all and for the good of all’.”

The group expressed its solidarity with the many people linked to the opposition who remained unaccounted for, detained or under siege in their homes as of November 16.

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The Day the Cuban Regime Ran Alone… And Did Not Win

On November 14, the authorities placed a bus completely blocking the street Yunior García lives on, when he wanted to go out for a walk in white with a rose. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 19 November 2021 — They say that the horse ran alone on the track and reached the finish line first. Locked in their stables and bound with strong chains were the possible adversaries of that contest. The victor could not contain so much arrogance in his body and he celebrated as if his legs — and not his tricks — had carried him. They say it was the 15th of November, a day when the public was prohibited from witnessing the race.

In an interview with the Russian network RT, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez declared last Monday’s call for a Civic March a failure. “The face-to-face reality, the real, true, physical reality in Cuba indicates that nothing happened in the country,” the minister boasted. To drive it home, he told the complacent journalist: “You have been able to move freely, you know perfectly what happened, you experienced it together with the Cubans and you also know what did not happen.”

To avoid the scenes of people in the streets dressed in white or with a flower in hand, officialdom deployed the largest control operation– meter by meter – in the memory of many in this country. The bitter surprise of the spontaneity of the July 11 protests led to a preparation so that the avenues would no longer be a river of people shouting ‘Libertad‘ and demanding the resignation of Miguel Díaz-Canel. To achieve this, this time they tied up the entire island. continue reading

Police operations, a deployment of State Security agents in civilian clothes, acts of repudiation, threatening messages and the selective cutting off of telephone lines. They made use of all the cowardly tactics and abuses of power in the authoritarians’ manual, and also added to it from their own harvest of Castroism, experts in lying and in the preparation of stage sets. As they themselves tried for years to create the props of a medical power, which the pandemic shattered, for ‘15N’ the set design of “peace and tranquility” was proposed.

But the result was closer to the script of a funeral: deserted streets, murmured conversations in the lines outside stores , which until two days before were pure tumult, trembling hands that could not manage to remove a cellphone from a pocket before the intimidating gaze of the police, and tearful mothers who pleaded with their children not to leave the house that Monday. A white sheet hanging from a clothesline could paralyze the neighbor next door with fear, even the flower sellers hid, or only offered yellow sunflowers and very red roses. Terror starred in the day.

And then the regime believed itself powerful, shook its mane, flaunted the strength of its haunches and showed its teeth. Now, it wants to make national and international public opinion believe that it really earned the gold medal for its abilities and for the support its people gave it, but in the Plaza of the Revolution they know that everything is a lie: that if they had not carried out the the largest and most expensive repressive operation of the last quarter century on this island, Cubans would once again have shown their weariness with the current system.

Nor will the regime be able to prevent the neighing of the locked up horses from being heard. Without respecting the rules of the political game, eliminating your competitors or preventing them from showing their abilities as dissidents, you are only invalidating the court, the referees and the medals. It is forcing an entire people to find another way to get on the podium.
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