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Monthly Archives: August 2014

La Aduana pondrá en vigor este lunes las nuevas medidas que dice dirigidas a limitar la entrada a la Isla de productos destinados a la comercialización ilícita, pero que en la práctica significarán también otro golpe a los ciudadanos que importan artículos para intentar aliviar necesidades básicas de sus familiares.

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DVDs of popular movie and TV series replace traditional offers of friendship on visits, reports Zhao Shengnan. She took 33 days to recover from a painful breakup with her boyfriend before becoming confident Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, Luz Escobar, 26 August 2014 — Impotence and indignation has spread among residents of La Timba, in the Plaza de la Revolution municipality, one of the Havana neighborhoods affected by the Government’s war on architectural illegalities. For years, thousands … Continue reading Continue reading
Muchos creen que las más perjudicadas son las familias con miembros fuera de Cuba que acuden a la isla periódicamente cargados de regalos para aliviar la miseria en que las ha sumido más de medio siglo de comunismo. Continue reading

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FLORIDA: US swimmer Diana Nyad - the first to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage - was presented with Cuba's Order of Sporting Merit on Saturday, the first American athlete to receive Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, Orlando Palma, 29 August 2014 — Just twelve months ago, all eyes were on Diana Nyad while she swam between Cuba and Florida. This willful 64-year-old woman was the first person to cross the 100 miles from Havana … Continue reading Continue reading
A carload of burly nephews and grandsons greeted Martha and Alfredo Gonzalez when they stepped out of Havana's international airport into the blazing heat of an August afternoon. Click to Continue » Continue reading
El atleta cubano participaba en Toronto en el Campeonato Panamericano de Gimnasia, clasificatorio para los Juegos Panamericanos del 2015 Continue reading
“Cuba es un país ocupado por alguien que nació allí mismo” Por: Claudia Peiró Dos referentes de la oposición cubana hablaron con Infobae sobre el desafío de preparar para la transición a la sociedad, tras medio siglo de una dictadura que privó a los cubanos de todo derecho político Leonardo Calvo Cárdenas y Fernando Palacio […] Continue reading
Publicado el domingo, 08.31.14 Cuba aplicará el lunes polémicos cambios aduaneros, entre críticas y malestar SARA GÓMEZ ARMAS EFE La Habana — Las nuevas medidas aduaneras que restringen a los viajeros el ingreso de bienes a Cuba entrarán mañana en vigor, en medio de un profundo malestar entre los cubanos, que lo ven como un […] Continue reading
Each year the faculty at the Columbia Journalism School selects a leading American journalist to deliver the Pringle Lecture to the graduating class. Past lecturers have included Daniel Schorr, Maureen Continue reading
The First Cuban Forklifts / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on August 31, 2014

Nelson Espinosa, director general of MONCAR, a business located in the
Havana municipality of Marianao, told the newspaper Granma that the
production of the first 15 Cuban forklifts, a result of collaboration
with the Chinese entity Auto Caiec LTD, distinguished his business's
performance during 2013.

With 40% national integration in terms of physical components, the
equipment is in a testing phase and capable of supporting up to 2.5
tons. We are now in 2014 and they have not manufactured one more. I
suspect that the future of MONCAR is related to the manufacture of the
T-34M war tanks that Raul Castro inaugurated in 1960 and these are the
holy hours when he did not build even one tractor.

Translated by mlk.

18 August 2014

Source: The First Cuban Forklifts / Juan Juan Almeida | Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/the-first-cuban-forklifts-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
No, No and No Raul Castro / Jose Luis Garcia Antunez
Posted on August 31, 2014

This I believe is the second or third occasion that I write to you, and
as always without the least mood or desire that you answer me, because
given the absolute contempt and disgust that emanates from your person I
can't feel otherwise.

Señor Dictator and Genocide, 24 years and five months ago at barely 25
years, five months and 15 days of age I dared to defy you. Surely your
lackeys and sycophants in the high command of the political police and
the party mentioned it to you.

I remind the dictator, that night you pronounced in the city of Santiago
de Cuba that call to the Fourth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba,
and as always with a discourse like so many and like so many of your
brother's, barely a few paid you any attention.

I recall that I was in the plaza that you all call Revolution, where big
loudspeakers transmitted to mute, hungry and above all deaf people your
verbal diarrhea. That was Thursday March 15, 1990, Stalinist Europe was
falling, the old Soviet empire was at the point of disintegrating and
here in the Caribbean a senile caste was clinging to power and refusing
to implement reforms.

For demanding them, that evening, your bullying forces savagely beat me,
their educational bodies tortured me and instructed me so that months
later your lackey judiciary would sentence me to deprivation of liberty
for the famous crime of "oral enemy propaganda."

Señor Dictator, I believe it feasible to confess to you that at the
moment of my detention I was still unaware of the long and proven
history of crime and terror instituted by your brother and you.

From the forced labor, the concentration camps of the UMAP, the sad
history of those captive peoples and not to mention the Castro meddling
in the internal affairs of other countries and in international
conflicts. Maybe because of that lack of knowledge, I only asked for
reforms and screamed that communism was a mistake and a utopia. Today,
after knowing your system better, I ask for its overthrow and I catalog
communism as an aberration and a crime: the social plague of the 20th

It was only enough for me that day to feel that as a young man and a
Cuban, I was not free; that as a social being I lacked something in
order to be able to breathe and walk. I felt that I was prohibited from
speaking and that I must either continue using the mask in order to
avoid problems, or remove it and act and live in accord with myself
although that would mean suffering the most horrible repression.

I did that, I defied you, General without battles. I did it in spite of
your known fame as a cruel and bloodthirsty man. I did it, General and
the only thing that I regret is not having had the valor, the
opportunity or perhaps the possibility of doing it much sooner.

On the other hand, I also have to confess to you that the idea never
entered my mind that such a sickening fury of hatred and harassment was
going to be applied to me.

That in 1993, three years after the arrest and completing my unjust
imprisonment in Cause # 4 of 1990, your famous division for crimes
against State Security in the gloomy Popular Provincial Tribunal of
Santa Clara condemned me again, now in Cause #5 of that year for
supposed acts against your socialist Revolution for which I had to spend
17 years and 38 days of uninterrupted political imprisonment which
offered me the possibility of learning firsthand about torture and
vexation as a weapon of political repression.

Raul Castro, my case is known to you, because it was you and no one else
who ordered the multiple searches and lootings by those who have
victimized me in my home during the last weeks where in the grossest
flaunting of force and impunity you commanded that your cowards and
opportunist assault troops partially destroy my house and steal items
left and right on more than one occasion, goods, office materials,
medications, food during these acts known in the Cuban jargon as acts of
thievery, well, in the end, each does what he is taught.

Señor General, and now that you also title yourself president of the
Councils of State and of Ministers, I know well how many letters
opponents have sent you from within and without asking you to carry out
reforms and political opening as well as to hold elections. They ask it
of you as if you really were a president and as if in Cuba a true
government were in power and not a tyranny.

We know that at any moment, you, a Machiavellian and opportunistic
tyrant, are going to accept what they ask and carry out a referendum,
that is to say, an electoral farce under your control, where like in
Venezuela the totalitarian officialism will continue in power.

And it is no longer a secret for anyone, the desperate and astute
maneuvers that you and your acolytes carry out in order to manufacture
supposed opponents and assure with them the dynastic and ideological

But we warn you, General, which is one of the reasons for this missive,
that we, the decent Cubans committed to the future of our country, we
are not going to accept that fraudulent and cosmetic change that you all
forge. Know also that the Cuban Resistance does not expect or want
reforms implemented by the criminal tyranny over which you preside. The
only reforms to be accepted by us would be after your overthrow or
withdrawal from power, which the people will carry out from their base.

Señor Dictator, enough tricks, because you will not get another new
mandate, that does not even matter to us. That you carry out reforms in
the arena of economics and migration, that is a bunch of lies, and that
does not matter to us, either. That your regime carries out an update of
its model is another fallacy and another lie. That is more of the same.
That you will sell a monetary reform, tremendous trick and lie, General.

We, the people of Cuba, need a democratic system where a market economy
prevails. One, two, three or ten thousand currencies, it does not
matter, as long as there exists a centralized and asphyxiating economy
like your totalitarian system. We, Señor dictator, we do not want you,
nor reforms nor openings, you people are not our owners, nor do you need
to dictate our guidelines.

We know that your time on the earth is running out, and that powerful
interests have shown the intention of playing the game or dividing juicy
profits at the cost of the pain and sacrifice of the Cuban people.

General Raul Catro, warning about the danger of the fraudulent change,
you ordered killed Oswaldo Paya and young Harold Cepero. I doubt that
you now have enough goons to keep killing the thousands and thousands
that like Paya and Harold will keep denouncing your tricks and constant

For Laura Pollan, a defenseless woman, you sent your paid assassins to
get you out of it, because you could not defeat her in her marches every
Sunday on Avenue Quinta. It did not matter to you her condition as a
woman and the justice of her cry. But also Laura defeated you, coward
General, because her valiant troops of the Ladies in White survived the
cruel execution of their leader and now spread like patriotic wildfire
across the whole Island.

And they have also defeated you: Pedro Luis Boitel, Olegario Charlotte
Pileta, Orlando Zpata, Wilman Villar and many others who had the courage
to sacrifice themselves in the name of liberty and in respect for their
dignity, this honor that you lack as well as your goons who threatened
me with death in reprisal for my slogan that "I won't shut up and I
won't leave Cuba."

They themselves, also, barely some days ago, during one of the many
arrests of which I have been victim, tortured and beat me, now that
according to them and you, I sabotage the efforts of your tyranny to
normalize relations with the United States.

Know General Raul Castro that neither the absurd precaution of house
arrest that weighs against me and the evident threat of being
assassinated, will be able to make me change my purpose which is shared
by thousands and thousands of Cubans.

You all will not be able, Raul Castro, to crush a people who have grown
tired of living without freedom, just as you will not be able to
materialize the international conspiracy that is conceived against the
cause of freedom for Cuba. That conspiracy, Raul Castro, will not have
success, whether it comes from Havana, Washington, Brussels or Vatican
City itself. You people will not be able, General, because as much as
you, your family or that cruel and bloodthirsty party may know, you will
be excluded from all process of democratic change because you all mean
the negation of democracy itself.

And tell your subordinates, General, that I am here and will be, in my
beloved homeland of Placetas from which neither you nor your repressive
forces nor anyone will remove me, and that my humble home, although
profaned, vandalized and sacked by your faction, will continue being a
bastion of Resistance, fight, refuge and sanctuary for my compatriots
who fight against you and in favor of liberty and justice.

And tell them also, General, your promoters and accomplices, whether
your spokesmen are in Miami, Washington, Brussels, Havana or the Vatican
itself to stop rubbing their hands, we say no to your preservation of
the status quo because here in Cuba there will be no reconciliation
without there first being justice, liberty and democracy.

And, as we foresee, also tell some governments that call themselves
democratic and are in on the conspiracy, that they are wasting time,
General, that the event that we Cubans need and hope for international
solidarity, does not mean that some country or foreign power, as very
powerful or influential as it may be, is going to form part of our
process of change, because Cubans, those who are within and those who
are without, we are convinced that the solution for Cuba has to be and
must be resolved among Cubans, excluding of course you people, General,
who because of the damage that you have done to our nation, do not even
deserve to call yourselves Cubans.

Raul Castro Ruz, in the name of the people of Cuba, my fellow prisoners
and the victims of your dictatorship, I tell you no, no and no.

From Placetas, in the heart of Cuba, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez,"
who will not shut up or leave Cuba.

Translated by mlk.

21 August 2014

Source: No, No and No Raul Castro / Jose Luis Garcia Antunez |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/no-no-and-no-raul-castro-jose-luis-garcia-antunez/ Continue reading
To Rigola I Shall Not Return / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on August 31, 2014

Two years ago, after a lot of red tape, long lines and pointless waits
at Immigration, the Spanish embassy and the Plaza Military Committee, I
finally managed to get the son of a friend — a woman who lives overseas
and who had granted me power-of-attorney — exempted from military
service so that the family could be briefly reunited.

Then, a few days ago, she, her husband and her son decided to come here
on vacation to visit family. Everything seemed to be going very well.
The joy of being reunited with family and friends helped mitigate the
enduring economic hardship and deterioration of the country, which are
very noticeable to anyone who comes back after spending time abroad.

The night that marked the return to the "mother country" finally arrived
but a new odyssey had just begun.

After checking their luggage and paying the 25 CUC per person airport
exit tax, an immigration official informed the couple that they could
leave but that their son would have to stay behind because he had not
yet completed his military service. Of course, the parents decided to
stay with their son, but this meant losing their airline tickets, the
exit tax they had already paid and the time spent waiting for their bags
to be returned. There was also the anxiety and aggravation caused by the
incompetence of the system.

Very early the next morning the three of them headed to the Military
Committee to clear up what was clearly a big mistake. The excuse they
were given was that the error had been committed by a "neo-fascist" who,
fortunately, no longer worked there. From there they went to Immigration
to resolve their son's status.

Finally, after waiting for four hours due to a system-wide computer
failure, they left with their problem resolved. The officials offered
their apologies but did not offer the couple any sort of reimbursement.

As a result of all this they have had to forfeit their tickets. The
earliest date the boy and his mother could get a return flight was
October 8, which meant the mother would not be able to get back to work
on time and the boy would not be able to take his upcoming exams
scheduled for September 1. Given this new predicament, the parents went
back to the Military Committee to request a document explaining the
situation which they could give to their son's school in Spain. Their
request was denied, the excuse being that officials there were not
authorized to issue such a document.

My friend's husband, who did finally manage to get a ticket, will have
to leave tomorrow to get back to work. He will try to explain the
situation to the administrators at his son's school in the hope that
they will allow the boy to take the exams upon his return.

When they came over for a visit today, they told us that, unfortunately,
due to this recent experience they had no intention of returning to Cuba
anytime soon, at least not until they could forget everything that had
happened to them.

All told, this may appear to be no big deal. But, to appreciate it, you
had to have to experienced it. This is why, when they finally overcome
all the obstacles and absurdities and manage to finally leave the
country, many Cubans swear to themselves they will never return for fear
of having to relive their bad experiences.

When she told us goodbye today, my friend recalled a line from an old
song: "To Rigola I shall not return."

14 August 2014

Source: To Rigola I Shall Not Return / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/to-rigola-i-shall-not-return-rebeca-monzo/ Continue reading
Kilómetro 0 en La Habana: bazar gigante de jineteras y limosneros El autor da una instantánea del área comercial de la capital cubana, donde acuden de todas parte de la Isla “para hacer sus compras o simplemente mirar las vidrieras”. Iván García Quintero agosto 31, 2014 Subiendo por la calle Águila desde Monte, rumbo a […] Continue reading
Se fuga en Canadá el gimnasta Ernesto Vila, principal esperanza de ese deporte en la Isla DDC | Miami | 31 Ago 2014 – 6:05 pm. El gimnasta cubano Ernesto Vila, campeón en los Juegos Olímpicos de la Juventud 2010 en la categoría manos libres, se fugó de la delegación cubana que participaba en Toronto […] Continue reading
Photo taken from Granma Nelson Espinosa, director general of MONCAR, a business located in the Havana municipality of Marianao, told the newspaper Granma that the production of the first 15 Cuban forklifts, a result of collaboration with the Chinese entity … Continue reading Continue reading
From the MIDLAND-REPORTER TELEGRAM: "We started this process almost two years ago and it was only recently that all of the visa and legalities got worked out," said the Rev. Tim Walker, senior pastor Continue reading
HAVANA - US swimmer Diana Nyad - the first to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage - was presented with Cuba's Order of Sporting Merit on Saturday, the first American athlete to receive Continue reading
Wayfair offers the La Hacienda Cuba Chiminea in Oxidized Corten or Black for $121.04 with free shipping . That's the lowest total price we could find by $41, although we saw it for a buck less two weeks Continue reading
Lo que antes de 1959 fueron tiendas elegantes, bares, cafeterías surtidas, son ahora timbiriches sucios, desvencijados donde las desigualdades sociales se hacen cada día más evidentes Continue reading
Las nuevas medidas aduaneras que restringen a los viajeros el ingreso de bienes a Cuba entrarán mañana en vigor, en medio de un profundo malestar entre los cubanos, que lo ven como un obstáculo más en la difícil tarea de adquirir artículos como ropa, productos de aseo o electrodomésticos. Continue reading
Cuba denounced at the United Nations on Friday the full enforcement of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade, particularly the imposition of fines on entities that have commercial relations Continue reading
Two years ago, after a lot of red tape, long lines and pointless waits at Immigration, the Spanish embassy and the Plaza Military Committee, I finally managed to get the son of a friend — a woman who lives overseas … Continue reading Continue reading
Most of Illinois' governors have lived in the Executive Mansion in Springfield at least part time. The first governor to call the 1855 manor home was Democratic former Gov. Joel Matteson, whose single Continue reading
El autor da una instantánea del área comercial de la capital cubana, donde acuden de todas parte de la Isla "para hacer sus compras o simplemente mirar las vidrieras". Continue reading
CUBA - Although many have moved away from the area or died during the past decades, that hasn't stopped Maxine Hadden from encouraging her remaining former high school classmates from attending a reunion Continue reading
RUSHVILLE - Nothing went right for the Rushville-Industry football team early in its game against Havana. The Ducks put together a long drive in the first quarter to take the lead, using an offense Continue reading
El jóven atleta cubano participaba en Toronto en el Campeonato Panamericano de Gimnasia, clasificatorio para los Juegos Panamericanos del 2015. Continue reading
WHETHER you're after an island escape or an epic rail journey across the US, here's 10 holiday packages to book now. Continue reading
This I believe is the second or third occasion that I write to you, and as always without the least mood or desire that you answer me, because given the absolute contempt and disgust that emanates from your person I … Continue reading Continue reading
0 RecommendedRecommend Share on Facebook 1 1 SHARES Sitting a mere 90 miles off the southern tip of the United States, Cuba is perhaps the one area for foreign policy many politicians ignore unless you Continue reading
31 de agosto de 2014, 09:38 Havana, Aug 31 (Prensa Latina) The American long distance swimmer Diana Nyad received here the Order of Sporting Merit granted by the State Council of the Republic of Cuba, Continue reading
When newly signed center fielder Rusney Castillo (above) makes his Red Sox debut, likely at some point next month, he will join an ever-growing list of Cuban hitters in the big leagues. The latest to Continue reading
(CBS) - The long season has taken its toll on White Sox Rookie of the Year candidate Jose Abreu. The 27-year-old Cuban defector was removed from Friday night's game after limping his way toward a seventh Continue reading
Angel Santiesteban, Being Held in Military Unit to the West of Havana /
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, 2 August 2014 — Writer Ángel Santiesteban has been
relocated to a prison under the control of Border Guard Troops in the
Flores neighborhood near the town of Jaimanita, west of Havana. After
weeks of uncertainty and conflicting information, a reporter for
14ymedio was able to locate and see this military unit.

For three weeks Santiesteban's situation has become even more confusing
after the authorities in charge of keeping him under custody in the
prison center in the Lawton neighborhood declared that he has "escaped."
He was immediately taken to the police station at Acosta and Diez de
Octubre Streets, where he could only receive visits from his closest

Freelance journalist Lilianne Ruiz, after touring the different places
where it was stated that the writer being held, was able to see him and
talk to him through the blinds. The guards of the Border Guard Troops
confirmed to the journalist that Santiesteban is considered a "special

Santiesteban himself assured Ruiz that he is not being prosecuted for a
new offense, and that a brief letter will appear in his blog, The
Children Nobody Wanted, explaining everything that happened during the
last days.

Ángel Santiesteban serving a five-year sentence for the alleged crime of
violation of domicile. Multiple irregularities during his trial have
been denounced by activists and independent lawyers. A couple of weeks
ago Reporters Without Borders released a statement calling on the Cuban
government to clearly state the fate of the narrator and journalist.

Source: Angel Santiesteban, Being Held in Military Unit to the West of
Havana / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/angel-santiesteban-being-held-in-military-unit-to-the-west-of-havana-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Rosa Lopez, Havana, 29 August 2014 — Just outside the Tienda
Ultra (Ultra Store), an illegal seller advertises deodorants and
colognes. It is precisely in August, this terribly hot month, when the
shortage of hygiene products aggravates the bad odors and other
annoyances. The problem has made the pages of the official newspaper
Granma, which this Thursday published a story looking for answers to the
lack of soap, cologne, toilet paper and deodorant. The text reveals the
tortuous and inefficient ways of Cuban centralization.

The director general of the Cuban company Union Suchel said that
"funding cuts" have limited purchases of raw materials. The statement of
this official contrasts with the monopoly status of this well-known
industry. Suchel has reigned for decades in the domestic market, given
the absence of competitors to push down prices, diversify the product
line and improve the quality of the offerings. Instead, the perfume,
talcum powder and detergent giant has taken advantage of the privilege
of being a State-majority consortium with zigzagging foreign capital.

For 2104, Suchel developed a "reduced production plan" due to the
financial problems facing the entity. Even so, the volumes coming out of
its factories point to mammoth nature of the company still so
influential in its decline. Deliveries for this year in the unrationed
market should reach 17 thousand tons of laundry soap, 17.9 thousand tons
of hand soap, and 9.6 thousand tons of liquid detergent. Packing,
transporting and distributing such quantities has become a real
headache, especially in a country where corruption and the diversion of
resources act as leaks, sucking dry the sources of products and services.

The position of guard in one of the many company plants trades on the
black market for more than 5,000 Cuban convertible pesos

Suchel is undermined by the theft and embezzlement, an issue not
addressed by the article published in Granma. The position of guard in
one of the many company plants trades on the black market for five
thousand Cuban convertible pesos. Working in one of those jobs
guarantees the fortunate employee "under the table" earnings that exceed
in three days what a doctor earns in a month.

The work of the guard consists of simply looking away, to allow the
majority of the merchandise slip away, unregistered in the accounts.
These undeclared goods are sold in the State's own "hard currency
collection stores" (as they're called). The profit is distributed among
the managers, drivers and the industry's own security guards.

In the absence of a free market to test the efficiency of Suchel in
competitive circumstances, the monopoly will continue to impose prices,
quality standards and high costs, as well as to cause chronic supply

Source: Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio,
Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/suchel-a-state-monopoly-with-feet-of-talcum-powder-14ymedio-rosa-lopez/ Continue reading
University (for the Tenacious) / 14ymedio, Henry Constantin, Reinaldo
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 28 August 2014 – Henry Constantin is
a native of Camagüey province, born in Las Tunas on Valentine's Day, 30
years ago. He has been expelled from university three times for his
ideas, but still believes he will obtain his journalism degree.

This slender, plain-spoken young man has founded two independent
publications and has just returned from a cultural exchange program. For
years he has been part of the reporting team of the magazine Convivencia
(Coexistence), and today he invites the readers of 14ymedio to share the
challenges he has faced in his classroom journey.

Question: You hold the sad distinction of three expulsions from
university. What was the first time like?

Answer: One day I wrote this question on the board: Who was the Cuban
nominee for the Nobel Prize? My fellow students did not know, neither
did the professor, so I wrote the name of Oswaldo Payá.

Later I selected for a research topic the actual level of acceptance
enjoyed by the official media in the general population. I was failed,
and that report was suggested as possible grounds for my expulsion.
Finally, they lowered my grade for poor attendance — a false claim being
that the majority of my colleagues had more absences than I did. That
was the year my son was born and my professor/advisor had told me, "take
care of that and don't worry about absences."

My son is now 8 years old – the same age as my problems.

Q: Even so, you tried again…..

A: A year later I was able to enter the University of Santa Clara
journalism school. I was the only student who was not a member of the
FEU (University Student Federation), and — in the university's Internet
lounge — I learned of the existence of alternative blogs. It was there
that we founded a magazine called Abdala*, which we ultimately we named
La Rosa Blanca* (The White Rose). We produced it without a computer, but
still published five issues, until (another magazine) La Hora de Cuba
(Cuba's Hour) replaced it.

When I completed that course, they failed me for having produced a radio
script dealing with the effects of the Huber Matos case on the broadcast
media in Camagüey.

Q: Were you allowed to present it?

A: The professor thought it was heresy for me to stir up the case of
that Sierra Maestra commander condemned to 20 years in prison for
resigning his post. He suggested that I do a project on the journalism
of José Martí. So I tackled the censorship suffered by the Apostle** at
the hands of the Argentine government for his articles in the newspaper,
La Nación. They failed me again, but by that time I had the right to

So I tackled the censorship suffered by José Martí at the hands of the
Argentine government for his articles in the newspaper, La Nación.

I went to Camagüey for the weekend and when I returned (to the
university) they were waiting to remove me from the premises. They
informed me that I had been expelled from the graduate school by virtue
of a disciplinary action — nothing ideological, of course!

Four men escorted me to the door and instructed the custodians to keep
me from re-entering the building. They also instructed the newspaper
Adelante and the Radio Cadena Agramonte station — where I had done my
journalism practica — to call the police if I tried to enter.

Q: So that was your definitive goodbye to university classrooms?

A: I don't surrender easily. In September, 2009, I took the aptitude
tests to enroll in the National Institute of Art (ISA), in the school of
audio-visual media. I attained the maximum score and was accepted. While
at ISA, I worked on the magazine, Convivencia, edited by Dagoberto
Valdes in Pinar del Río province. He proposed that I join the Reporting
Council and I said yes. I also worked on the independent program Razones
Ciudadanas (Civic Reasons).

Another project I participated in while a student at ISA was Hora Cero
(Zero Hour). It began after a strike motivated by the bad food we were
served. It consisted in staging encounters with persons outside of the
institution. Jorge Molina and Gustavo Arcos came, but when we invited
Eduardo del Llano, we were obstructed.

In May, 2011, they scheduled me to meet with the dean of ISA, to tell me
they had discovered that I had been expelled from the graduate school.
At that point I was three days from completing my courses, so I
resisted, arguing that the other students should decide my fate. Once
again I was removed by force from the premises, in a car that left me at
the bus station. So that is the end of my history as a university
student, and my obsession with obtaining a degree.

Q: And after the third expulsion?

A: I returned to Camagüey and re-initiated the Hora Cero (Zero Hour)
project, at my own risk, in my own home. We started with exhibitions of
the photos of Orlando Luís Pardo, a short by Eduardo del Llano, and
music by some troubadour friends. Up to now, we have had good attendance
by the public. The poet Maikel Iglesias, the theater troupe Cuerpo
Adentro, the poet Francis Sánchez, and Eliecer Ávila with his
audiovisual work, Un cubano más (Just Another Cuban), have also

To Hora Cero have come university students, professors, neighbors,
courageous people who dare to exchange ideas. Some attend who have been
instructed to inform about what takes place in these encounters, and
others who have been coerced for having received a simple invitation
from me to participate.

The first time that State Security visited me, my mother — who at that
time was serving on a mission in Venezuela — was threatened. They told
her that if she continued supporting me, she could lose the bank account
where her salary is deposited. Others have been told that Hora Cero is
funded by the CIA.

Q: Have you gone back to your studies?

A: A year ago I heard about a program, Somos un solo pueblo (We Are One
People), for young people who have had difficulty pursuing their studies
here, and are given the opportunity to do a 6-month course in the United
States. Classes in psychology, personal effectiveness, principles of
business or sociology, among many others. It was a wonderful experience
for me and I learned a lot.

Q: And now?

A: I think I will have my work cut out for me in the next 50 or 60
years, judging by how I see present-day Cuba. If I have any time left
over I want to write fiction…but with the way things are, that will have
to wait.

Translator's notes:
* Both of these titles are from the poetry of 19th century Cuban patriot
José Martí.
**Martí is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence".

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: University (for the Tenacious) / 14ymedio, Henry Constantin,
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Touring Cuba by bicycle: Take the challenge
Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014 12:15 am
Ken Youngblood

So you've flirted with the dream of touring Cuba by bicycle. Go for it.
But not because the media tell you it's a "cyclist's paradise." Go
because there are no real legal obstacles you can't overcome and you are
sure to leave the island wiser, both in terms of the body politic and,
more importantly, an emotional wisdom sharpened by a wondrous people.
Cuba's road system is a bicycler's nightmare. No wonder horses and
bicycles vastly outnumber cars and trucks. Most likely a vintage guzzler
— you can breathe in the half century of plying these roads in their
billowing black belch.
Because of the U.S. embargo and Cuba's failed experiment with Socialism,
road surfaces are neglected beyond belief. Equip your bike with strong
rims and wide tires to cushion the constant jarring and minimize flats.
Then, too, you'll have to endure long, flat stretches of monolithic
agriculture with little in the way of food and lodging. So concentrate
your time on the best areas for bicycling and take advantage of the
nationwide bus system to skip the dull terrain. For an extra $5 Víazul
will carry your bicycle.
Whatever you do, spend time in Valle de Viñales, Bahia de Cochinos, and
the highway slithering the southeastern coast in the shadow of the
Sierra Maestra, mountains so remote Batista's military never found
Fidel's revolutionaries.
Because Viñales is popular with tourists, the roads there are about the
best you'll experience. You'll ride lush green valleys where oxen and
horses graze against the backdrop of towering mogotes whose limestone
made Viñales the heart of tobacco country. We spent nearly a week there,
hiking, bicycling and on horse exploring the communal paths meandering
from one little cluster of houses to another. Wherever we went oxen
worked the fields to commands issued by the man behind the plow, his
soft voice a constant lulling. A bicycler can thank his gods: tractors
compact the earth too much for tobacco's taste.
Yes, Bahia de Cochinos or as history knows it, the Bay of Pigs, is one
of those must-see destinations. And not just because of the roadside
signs and memorials that boast being the only nation to have defeated
American imperialism.
Today it's tourists who invade the Bay of Pigs. The best offshore
snorkeling and diving in this hemisphere draws tourists to the 70
kilometers of coastal highway from Playa Larga at the head of the bay to
Playa Girón at its mouth. Wherever we stepped offshore, we experienced a
startling variety of corals and colorful fish. So strap your snorkeling
gear on the back rack.
Try to avoid Bahia de Cochinos in late March or early April or you will
be caught up in the slaughter that occurs during the Migración Anual de
los Cangrejos. Crabs by countless millions migrate to the sea to lay
their eggs. Every day, thousands per highway kilometer are crushed and
smeared under the wheels of buses, the sound of shells popping audible
to the tourists holding handkerchiefs up to their noses to shield them
from the stench.
And once the Discovery Channel videoed the carnage, the government's
Transfur buses for tourists were so packed they had to add more runs.
Bahia de Cochinos had become a tourist destination. Making the slaughter
even greater.
Bicyclers can thank bumbling Socialism and Sandy's fury for what
bicyclers see as their mecca in Cuba. The road that hugs the coast from
Manzanillo to Guantánamo. This stretch of Cuba's southeast coast once
was busy with tourists. Every turn exposes yet another vista of mountain
and sea in collision. But here is where Sandy made landfall, mangling
bridges and eating up kilometer after kilometer of pavement where ocean
and mountain afforded narrow passage. Now long sections of this route
are passable only by horse, four-wheel drive … and bicycle.
Broken asphalt or washed out road bed, the going is tough on a bicycle,
but the seclusion is worth the price.
One final word to the wise:
Stay in the many casa particulares that dot towns from one end of the
island to the other. In a concession to free enterprise, the government
grants licenses to families to rent out rooms. The government collects
over half the rent, but there is no way of tracking how many meals a day
tourists eat in a casa. You will sit down to more than a few lobster
dinners prepared by professional chefs who have learned taking care of
one couple for one night can pay more than a month at a restaurant. You
will be casting one more vote for free enterprise each time you sit down
to a delicious meal invariably priced $4, $6, $8 or $10.
By no means is touring Cuba easy, but as is so often true with a
bicycle, the more challenging the ride, the more wonderful memories mark
the route.
Ken Youngblood, who made a career writing and teaching writing, is the
first place winner of seven Distinguished Writing Awards in the New York
News Publishers Association Award for Excellence competitions. In 1992
he was honored with the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching
from then Chancellor Johnstone of the State University of New York.

Source: Touring Cuba by bicycle: Take the challenge - The Taos News:
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