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Daily Archives: April 2, 2017

La organización Human Rights Foundation (HRF) expresó "profunda decepción" por la exclusión del filme Santa y Andrés, del realizador cubano Carlos Lechuga, de la actual edición del Havana Film Festival de Nueva York, que arrancó el 30 de marzo y se celebra hasta el 7 de abril.

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… possibly being influenced by Russia,” Cuban speculated. Trump likely “had no … and intellectual shortcomings. Last September, Cuban offered to pay $10 million … business deals, according to Cuban’s view. Cuban is also convinced that … tweeted about Cuban dozens of times. Just last month, after Cuban hinted … Continue reading
Fidel Batista Leyva y Anairis y Adairis Miranda Leyva Amnesty International last week called for "urgent action" on behalf of three imprisoned siblings, who their mother says are in poor health after starting hunger strikes on March 7 to demand... Continue reading
  El Estado Cubano, “enemigo” de una prensa independiente, ejercer sobre ésta un aparato “legal abrumador” para “amordazar e impedir” su desarrollo con una represión preventiva a través de leyes … Click to Continue » Continue reading
La escritora cubana afincada en Miami Lilliam Moro se alzó este domingo en España con el Premio Internacional de Poesía Pilar Fernández Labrador con el poemario “Contracorriente”. La poetisa galardonada, … Click to Continue » Continue reading

El Gobierno abrirá este lunes su Congreso de Petróleo y Gas (Petrogas 2017) en busca de nuevos inversores que se arriesguen a buscar crudo en su Zona Económica Exclusiva del Golfo de México, donde hasta ahora todos los intentos han fracasado.

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… , Salvador Sánchez Cerén, has presented Cuban prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonso … later became Cuba’s National Ballet Company. The prestigious Cuban dance ensemble … Continue reading

El Partido Liberal, el mayor de la oposición paraguaya, anunció este sábado que sus diputados operarán en la Cámara para llevar adelante un juicio político al presidente del país, Horacio Cartes, por los violentos incidentes que provocaron el incendio del Congreso y la muerte de un joven de esa formación, reporta EFE.

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… this year shines on Cuba. "Getting Cuba has been two years … 's going to be Cuban food and art and music … addition to the music, the Cuban cultural exchange will include opportunities … country's food. Congreso Cuban catering company will serve frijoles … Continue reading

La escritora cubana Lilliam Moro, afincada en Miami, ganó este domingo en España el Premio Internacional de Poesía Pilar Fernández Labrador con el poemario Contracorriente, reporta EFE.

Moro recibirá como premio la publicación de su poemario y una réplica de la pintura "Don Quijote y Sancho" del artista Miguel Elías.

La poeta salió de Cuba en 1970 y vivió durante 40 años en España, donde trabajó en editoriales de Salamanca y Ávila.

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Former FARC Guerrillas to Train as Doctors and Journalists in Cuba /
Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 17 March 2017 — From the very moment it gained power,
the Cuban regime has devoted precious resources to exporting its
ideology and cultivating followers. Overseas military conflicts as
distant as those in Africa in the late 1970s and the guerrilla wars in
Central America in the 1970s and 1980s relied on Cuban logistics and
personnel. And just as it expressed solidarity by sending professionals
from multiple disciplines to so-called Third World countries, so too has
it brought professionals to the island for training throughout the
years, generating a wellspring of sympathizers who feel a huge debt of

As part of this successful experiment, there is now a new Cuban
"solidarity" contribution to the peace process in Colombia. It was no
coincidence that the island's capital was the setting for the signing of
the peace accord.

The Castro regime has instructed its ambassador in Bogota to announce
that it is awarding up to one thousand scholarships to the demobilized
members of the FARC guerrilla group and the victims of its armed
conflict to study medicine in Cuba.

The communiqué notes that the 200 scholarships to be awarded annually
over a five-year period — 100 for FARC soldiers and 100 for its
executive council — will be Cuba's contribution to the implementation of
the peace accords reached in Havana and to a lasting peace in Columbia.
Students may access their scholarships beginning in the 2017-2018 school
year. The Cuban embassy will submit a document to the Columbian
government and the FARC outlining the details which, even at the last
minute, was still being finalized by Cuban authorities.

This "goodwill gesture" on Cuba's part — a followup to the final
resolution of the conflict — seems more about publicity than
plausibility. The war went on for so many years that any attempt to
avoid death and violence is noteworthy. Cuba wants not only to promote
itself as a champion of peace in the region but also to profit from the
naivety of some democratic voices who applaud any action that might help
end the long conflict. But above all — and this is very important — it
wants to influence the underdogs, the FARC, with aid and support in
order to achieve a fundamental objective: to mask their image as crude
terrorists by treating them as a legitimate political organization.

Let's not forget that a significant portion of the two billion dollars
that the FARC made from kidnapping and drug trafficking in its own
country is now safely stashed away. Having been well laundered, it is
used to buy sophisticated, modern equipment for humanitarian purposes at
CIMEQ and the Cira Garcia Clinic.* Or it has been invested as Cuba's
contribution to joint venture projects that the government has with
business consortiums and large hotel chains operating both inside and
outside the country.

Cuban ambassador José Luis Ponce publicly announced the program
alongside members of the CSIVI, the commission which oversees the
implementation and verification of the peace accord. He addressed his
remarks to FARC secretariat member Iván Márquez, who used his Twitter
account to stress that "this contribution by Cuba to the implementation
of the Havana Agreement and to the postwar period in Colombia is a pure
humanitarian gesture."

Curiously, Piedad Córdoba — a Columbian attorney, politician and leader
of the Citizen Power XXI Century movement — used her own Twitter account
minutes later to state, "In spite of being under embargo, Cuba not only
has the best medicine in the world, it is also among the most supportive."

Such Twitter coincidences are not exactly a fitting prelude to support
for the end of the conflict. Why don't any of the parties involved
mention that, in addition to the one-thousand scholarships to study
medicine, the Cuban government is offering as many as five-hundred
scholarships to study journalism on the island?

Cuba is well-known for the high-quality training it provides to its
health care professionals as well as for the benefits it receives from
its program of exporting doctors.

This lab coat diplomacy, which includes training foreigners on the
island to be physicians, currently generates more income than tourism,
family remittances, nickel or sugar.

Besides operating a well-oiled financial machine, the Cuban government's
main goal is to create an army of grateful people, spread across the
globe, who are influential in the social circles. They remain committed
and invisible, ever ready to take immediate action in support of
medicine and the Cuban revolution.

Let us take this to the exercise of journalism, taking into account the
fluidity, or freedom of information that exists today in the world,
where even some democratic governments are becoming more and more
controlling. A host of indoctrinated journalists is a weapon of
significant influence and an effective tool for spreading ideas and

*Translator's note: The hospital and clinic mentioned here were
established to treat foreigners and foreign dignitaries as well as
members of the Cuban government, the military and their families. Their
facilities, equipment and provisions are known for being of a much
higher quality than those for ordinary Cubans.

Source: Former FARC Guerrillas to Train as Doctors and Journalists in
Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/former-farc-guerrillas-to-train-as-doctors-and-journalists-in-cuba-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Iván García, 6 March 2017 — A sloppy piece of cardboard painted with a crayon announces the sale of a discolored house in the neighborhood of La Vibora, 30 minutes by car south of Havana. If Amanda, the owner, who is raving poor, manages to sell the house for the equivalent of 40,000 dollars, she … Continue reading "Volunteer Blood Donors Ignore The Cuban Regime’s Business Dealings / Iván García" Continue reading
"Aquí, en pie de guerra seguimos, apoyando la causa cubana" Continue reading
Régimen cubano intenta acallar a los medios alternativos y reprime a periodistas opositores 01 de abril de 2017 – 15:04 En el informe se destaca que muchas veces los periodistas cubanos agredidos no saben qué hacer legalmente para defenderse, o como están seguros de que no logrará nada, ni siquiera intentan su defensa legal. LA […] Continue reading
Vigilancia permanente a Damas de Blanco: una a la cárcel y todas amenazadas Idolidia Darias La vigilancia por 10 días consecutivos a la sede del movimiento opositor femenino, el traslado a prisión de una de su miembros y las amenazas del régimen de seguirlas encarcelando es el resumen de la semana en Cuba. Fuerzas del […] Continue reading
El Estado es un aparato “abrumador” que amordaza a la prensa en Cuba, denuncia la SIP Un informe de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa critica que el gobierno cubano emplee a la Seguridad del Estado “en el hostigamiento” constante a los profesionales de los medios. El Estado cubano, “enemigo” de una prensa independiente, ejerce sobre […] Continue reading
Hostales, comercios y cruceros: GAESA va por más en La Habana Vieja abril 01, 2017 Iván García, desde La Habana Cuando de dinero se trata, la junta militar no se anda con chiquitas. En nombre del socialismo ocupan cualquier rincón de la isla que les pueda reportar moneda dura. El enemigo a conquistar es el […] Continue reading
Lilliam Moro se ha alzado con el Pilar Fernández Labrador gracias a su poemario "Contracorriente" Continue reading
Luego de sus palabras en contra de la sentencia emitida por el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Continue reading
Cuba's elderly adrift on the streets
By: Mario J. Penton and Luz Escobar
Posted: 04/2/2017 4:00 AM
Miami Herald/Tribune News Service

HAVANA — At 67, struggling against the challenges that come with aging
and a meagre pension, Raquel — an engineer who in her own words was
"formed by the Revolution" — survives by sifting through garbage every
day in search of recyclable products.

Hands that at one time drew plans and measured distances now pick up
cardboard, cans and other discarded containers.

"My life is a struggle from the moment I wake up," Raquel said.

"My last name? For what? And I don't want any photos. I have children,
and I once had a life. I don't want people talking about me," she said
after agreeing to tell her story.

Digging through garbage as a way to make a living was not part of
Raquel's plan, but she is not alone. Many within the island's growing
aging population are struggling with survival in their twilight years.

Cuba has become the oldest country in the Western Hemisphere, according
to official figures, amid an accelerated process that has even surprised
specialists who had not expected the phenomenon to become apparent until

Facing a pension system that is increasingly nonviable, a harsh economic
recession and an expected impact on social services as a result of the
aging population, the island is confronting one of the biggest
challenges of its history, experts say.

Almost 20 per cent of Cubans are older than 60 and the fertility rate
stands at 1.7 children per woman of child-bearing age.

To counter the aging population, the fertility rate would have to rise
to 2.4 children per woman of child-bearing age. Cuba's economically
active population shrank for the first time in 2015, by 126,000 people.

"The population aging that is affecting the country leads to a
significant increase in public spending as well as a drop in the
population of the fertile age, which in turn leads to a decrease in the
fertility rate," said Juan Valdes Paz, a Cuban sociologist who has
written several books on the issue.

Valdes said no government can be prepared for the kinds of demographic
problems Cuba has.

"If there's no harmony between demographic progress and economic
development, the latter is impacted," he said.

Government spending on public health per capita in 1999 was 21 per cent
lower than in 1989, economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago said. Official Cuban
figures show that category of spending dropped from 11.3 per cent of the
country's gross domestic product in 2009 to eight per cent in 2012.

Although Raquel is retired, government pharmacies do not subsidize the
medicine she needs for her diabetes and hypertension. State social
service programs do not serve elderly Cubans who live with relatives or
other presumed caretakers.

"I get a pension of 240 pesos a month," said Raquel, the equivalent of
less than US$10. "From that money, I have to pay 50 pesos for the Haier
refrigerator the government forced me to buy and 100 pesos to buy my

Cuba has about 300 daytime centres for the elderly and 144 nursing
homes, with a total capacity of about 20,000 clients. Officials have
acknowledged a significant portion are in terrible shape and many
elderly prefer to go into one of the 11 homes across the country run by
religious orders.

They operate thanks to foreign assistance, such as the Santovenia asylum
in the Cerro neighbourhood of Havana.

The state-run daycare centres charge 180 pesos per month and the nursing
homes charge about 400 pesos. Social security subsidizes the payments
when social service workers determine the clients cannot afford to pay
those fees.

Cuba once had one of the most generous and broadest social security
systems in Latin America. But that was largely possible because of the
massive subsidies from the Soviet Union, calculated by Mesa-Lago at
about US$65 billion over 30 years.

"Although the pensions were never high, there was an elaborate system
established by the state to facilitate access to food and other products
at subsidized prices," the economist said.

"After the Soviet subsidies ended in the early '90s, pensions remained
at about the same level, but their purchasing power collapsed. In 1993,
a retired Cuban could barely buy 16 per cent of what he could afford in

By the end of 2015, the purchasing power of retirees remained at barely
half of what it was when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba entered
into the so-called Special Period."

Raquel is a product of that reality.

"It bothers me when I hear talk of the good services for the elderly,"
she said. "I don't get any subsidies because I live with my son, his
wife and my two grandchildren. But they have their own expenses and
can't afford to also pick up all of mine.

"I need new dentures," she added, "and if you don't give the dentist a
little gift, they take months or come out bad."

Other elderly residents on the island echoed Raquel's sentiments.

"We are two old people living alone, we have no one overseas, so we
receive no remittances," said Andres, a former cartographer who lives
with his wife Silvia in the central city of Cienfuegos, and now sells
homemade vinegar and other products to make ends meet. "It's very hard
to get old and live off a US$10 pension when four drumsticks of chicken
cost US$5.

"Last year, I was awarded with a lifetime achievement recognition at
work and then I was laid off," he said. "I was already retired but
continued to work because we could not live on my pension."

After Fidel Castro left power in 2006, following a health emergency, the
Raul Castro government began drastic cutbacks in social security
benefits under the rubric of "the elimination of gratuities."

From the 582,060 Cubans who were receiving social assistance benefits
in 2006, such as disability or special diet funds, the number was
slashed to 175,106 by 2015.

Castro also removed several products from the highly subsidized ration
card, such as soap, toothpaste and matches, forcing everyone to pay far
more for those products when they bought them on the open market.

The government has launched some new programs for the elderly. The
Sistema de Atencion a la Familia (System to Help the Family), for
example, allows more than 76,000 low-income elderly to obtain food at
subsidized prices. That's a tiny number compared to Cuba's elderly
population, estimated at more than 2 million in a nation of about 11

Some elderly Cubans also receive assistance from churches and
non-governmental organizations.

"People see me picking up cans, but they don't know I was a
prize-winning engineer and that I even travelled to the Soviet Union in
1983," Raquel said.

After retirement, she had to find other ways of making ends meet. She
cleaned the common areas of buildings where military officers lived near
the Plaza of the Revolution until she got too old to handle the work.

"They wanted me to wash the windows of a hallway on the ninth floor.
That was dangerous and I was afraid of falling. I preferred to leave,
even though they paid well," she said.

Raquel was earning 125 pesos (about US$5) per week — more than half her
monthly pension of 240 pesos.

Raquel said she sells the empty recyclable containers she collects to
state enterprises but would love to be able to sell them to a private
company, instead, to avoid bureaucratic problems and delays.

In the patio of her home, she has created a homemade tool to crush the
empty cans she finds on the streets.

The work can be profitable but competition is stiff and physically
tougher for the elderly and disabled who have to wait in long lines to
sell their products at state enterprises or pay someone else to hold
their spot in line.

"In January, I made 3,900 pesos on beer bottles. But I paid 500 pesos to
hold my spot in line because I can't just lay down on the floor while I
wait," she said. "Aluminum also pays well. They pay 40 pesos for a sack
of cans. It's eight pesos per kilogram."

Cuba does not have official statistics on poverty.

A 1996 government study concluded 20.1 per cent of the two million
people in Havana were "at risk of not being able to afford a basic

A poll in 2000 found 78 per cent of the country's elderly complained
their income was not enough to cover their expenses.

The majority of the elderly polled said their main sources of income
were their pension benefits, assistance from relatives on the island and
remittances sent by relatives and friends abroad.

Many elderly now walk the streets in Havana and other cities, selling
homemade candy or peanuts to make ends meet.

Others resell newspapers or pick through garbage for items to sell. The
number of beggars on the streets of Cuba's main cities has visibly

For Raquel, the daily struggle is but another chapter of her life.

"I have always been a hard worker because the most important thing is my
family," she said. "It doesn't bother me to wear old clothes while I
collect the cans. The one who has to look good is my grandson, who just
started high school.

"The kids in school sometimes make fun of him, but my grandson is very
good and he's not ashamed of me, at least not that he shows," she said.
"He always defends me against the mockery."

— Miami Herald

Source: Cuba's elderly adrift on the streets - Winnipeg Free Press -
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/cubas-elderly-adrift-on-the-streets-417886713.html Continue reading
Ha enfatizado el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela, Julio Borges Continue reading
Marco Rubio: I've spoken to Trump three times about Cuba
Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald
Friday, March 31, 2017 1:55pm

Sen. Marco Rubio has kept mostly tight-lipped about what he's discussed
with President Donald Trump on the occasions the two Republicans have
met -- including over dinner with their wives at the White House.

But Rubio disclosed in a Spanish-language interview this week that he's
used those conversations with Trump to bring up Cuba.

"I've spoken to the president of the United States personally on three
occasions," Rubio told Mega TV host Oscar Haza after Haza asked about
the future of U.S.-Cuba policy. "I think without a doubt there will be
changes in U.S.-Cuba policy."

Rubio said he and his staff are dealing "very closely" with the White
House on the issue, which he expects Trump to address "strategically."

"If the Cuban government is going to behave like a dictatorship, well,
then we're going to deal with them like a dictatorship," Rubio said,
without going into specifics. "We're not going to pretend it's changing.
There haven't been any changes -- on the contrary, we've seen more

The topic of Cuba came up last week during White House health care
discussions with Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Source: Marco Rubio: I've spoken to Trump three times about Cuba | Tampa
Bay Times -
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/marco-rubio-ive-spoken-to-trump-three-times-about-cuba/2318733 Continue reading
Locked up for 16 months: how a British architect discovered Cuba's dark side
2 APRIL 2017 • 7:00AM

The Cuban conundrum is that little is what it seems. The mojitos flow,
the Buena Vista tribute acts play and the tropical sun shines
magnanimously on the tourists: the pasty Canadians, Britons and now –
thanks to Barack Obama – Americans.

My mother, on her first visit to the island a few years back, remarked:
"It's so strange, because when you think of Stalinist dictatorships you
think of grey, North Korean-style misery, and Cuba doesn't feel like
that." I'm going to buy her Stephen Purvis's book.

In Close But No Cigar, Purvis, a 52-year-old London architect who moved
to Cuba in 2000, reveals a rather different side to the Castros' fiefdom.

His shocking memoir recounts being locked up for more than a year,
initially for "spying", then for "economic crime", without ever being
told the details of the allegations against him. "It's Alice in
Wonderland for sociopathic commies," he writes.

In 2012, Purvis was seized from his home in Havana by the much-feared
secret police.

"When they come for you, they mostly come either to your workplace and
march you out of the front door for maximum public humiliation, or they
grab you off the street like the Gestapo and throw you in the back of
the car so no one knows," he writes.

"But sometimes they appear like phantoms at your house just before dawn,
politely dismember your family and dismantle your life forever." So it
was for Purvis. In the early hours, he was bundled into an ageing Lada,
and went on to spend 16 months trapped in Cuba's Kafka-esque justice system.

The frightening thing is just how unwittingly he had been caught in the
spider's web. Having arrived from London with his wife and four children
aged between six months and six years, his decade in Cuba had been, on
the whole, tropical and bright: a whirl of diplomatic socialising and
business schmoozing, with weekend sorties to the beach.

He made Cuban friends, and took up painting and boxing; he was on the
board of the international school, and co-produced the Sadler's Wells
dance show Havana Rakatan.

Things began to sour in October 2011 when his boss, overseeing 
$500 million construction of the Bellomonte golf course and club, was
arrested. As the web tightened around Purvis, his diplomat friends
became concerned. But Purvis, with what he now sees as naivety, believed
that even the Cubans couldn't invent charges. After all, he said, he had
done nothing wrong. But he underestimated the danger.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Fidel Castro realised that he had to
open up the island to the outside world to survive. It was a reluctant
engagement: Castro was horrified by memories of a visit to China, and
determined that the communist grip would not slip. He and his brother
Raúl had a tiger by the tail; capitalism was ushered in, but kept on a
tight leash.

At times, when it served their interests, business freedom was
increased. When it got too much, it was abruptly curtailed.

"Having allowed foreign capitalism in to rescue the collapsed economy,
they now want to behead it before it becomes too powerful," Purvis
writes. "They have watched the piggy get fat and now they want to steal
the piggy before it goes to market. It's a Stalinist purge for the
internet generation."

After his arrest, Purvis endured eight months of daily interrogation in
Havana's notorious Villa Marista prison, sharing a fetid cell no larger
than a king-size mattress with three others, the rancid roof six inches
from his nose. He was kept in that darkness apart from 15 minutes each
week, when he was ushered into a cage open to the sky. He was not
physically tortured, but felt his mind slipping away. To cope, he
relived in his mind childhood escapades to the Norfolk coast.

Then he was transferred to the dog-eat-dog world of La Condesa, 40 miles
outside the capital, a prison for foreign inmates, where he found
himself with Latin American drug traffickers, European paedophiles and
what he terms "business class passengers" – those, like him, locked up
for falling foul of some economic rule they never knew existed.

The heat was unbearable, the boredom stifling, the food inedible – and
meagre, tithed first by the deliverers, then by the guards, then by the

"My Friday supper club for business-class passengers is going well," he
jokes. "Last night I did Chinese, although to be fair the only Chinese
thing about it was that it was cooked in a communist country."

He spent his time playing chess with an Algerian inmate, and carved out
a niche painting fellow inmates' wives from photos. He gave classes on
architectural design, and helped Jamaican drug smugglers draw up
business plans for boat repair shops.

One evening, he came across a group of Yardies, sobbing during a
screening of the film Mamma Mia! Prison football teams played
tournaments: São Paulo Dealers vs Juarez Rapists, Napoli Smugglers vs
Montego Bay Murderers. "It's like being retired except without the
G&Ts," he says.

But his humour cannot hide the horror. Purvis lost 50lbs in weight, and
his wife had to be sectioned. The ordeal of finding psychiatric care for
her in Cuba was a nightmare all of its own.

After his family left for Britain, Purvis struggled to mask despair in
his letters home – with good reason. In July 2012, the redoubtable
British ambassador Dianne Melrose was succeeded by Tim Cole, about whom
Purvis is scathing. The Foreign Office mantra that Britain cannot
interfere in another country's judicial system – a line parroted to
journalists – still drives him to rage.

In its tragic absurdity, Close But No Cigar reads like a Graham Greene
story, with a cast of characters to make Hemingway proud. Purvis
describes it as 
"an attempt to shine a tiny 
light into the broken
heart of Cuba". His tale should be read 
by anyone who wants to
understand what lies beyond 
the beaches and Bacardi.

After an absurd trial, Purvis was released in 2013 with a
two-and-a-half-year custodial sentence, then driven by a cheerful guard
to the house of a friend. The driver sauntered off with the words: "I
hope you have enjoyed your stay in Cuba."

Purvis, turning, replied: "You are all totally f------ mad."

Close But No Cigar by Stephen Purvis
272pp, W&N, £18.99, ebook £9.99. To order this 
book from the Telegraph
£16.99 plus 
£1.99 p&p, call 0844 871 1515 or visit

Source: Locked up for 16 months: how a British architect discovered
Cuba's dark side -
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/locked-16-months-british-architect-discovered-cubas-dark-side/ Continue reading
Misiones de observación electoral internacional están en Ecuador para acompañar el proceso Continue reading
También serán apoyados por las autoridades con alimentos y seguro médico Continue reading
Cuba amanece con gasolineras cerradas Entra en vigor una restricción a la gasolina premium sábado, 1 de abril de 2017 – 3:40 PM Por Agencia EFE Algunas de las gasolineras que solo venden combustible de alto octanaje, el más difícil de encontrar, exhibían desde hace unos días los conos y cintas amarillas que indican que […] Continue reading
Gasolineras cerradas al comenzar restricción en Cuba Ha entrado en vigor la medida que limita la venta de combustible premium Sábado, abril 1, 2017 | Agencias LA HABANA, Cuba.- Varias estaciones de servicio que expenden solo gasolina especial amanecieron cerradas en La Habana este sábado, día que transcurre con ambiente de normalidad y en el […] Continue reading

Luz Escobar

Ni los más incondicionales seguidores de Tomás Gutiérrez Alea han visto la película Fresa y Chocolate tantas veces como Alberto Maceo, Albertico para sus amigos. Este cubano de sonrisa pícara trabajó como proyeccionista del cine Acapulco cuando la película estuvo en cartelera durante un año. La cinta dejó en su memoria una marca indeleble de la cual todavía no logra, ni quiere, desprenderse.

Desde Alemania, donde vive actualmente, Albertico se enteró la pasada semana de que iba a ser restaurada la única película nacional que logró colarse en la competencia por el Oscar. El Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) anunció que se trataba de un "proceso muy complejo", a pesar de tener menos de un cuarto de siglo de antigüedad.

La noticia de la restauración desató en el emigrado una ola de nostalgia. En 1993, cuando se estrenó la historia de Diego y David, Albertico era un adolescente que no cabía en su pupitre de secundaria. No solo había pegado un estirón físico que lo llevó a sobresalir por encima de su colegas, sino que sus inquietudes lo empujaban hacia el teatro. Interpretó su primer papel en una versión escénica de Pinocho, pero el cine le permitió ganarse los frijoles.

Empezó de carambola a trabajar como proyeccionista en una época difícil cuando la producción de filmes nacionales había caído en picado y las salas de proyección olían a moho y sudor. En medio del Período Especial, el joven se acercó a una profesión de la que recuerda que, “si la aprendes bien y te metes en sus detalles”, se toma conciencia de que “lo que tienes en tus manos es una obra de arte".

Pero no bastaba con el entusiasmo. Eran tiempos difíciles, en los que el hambre y el sueño no eran buenos aliados en la cabina de proyección. Albertico desarrolló trucos para no quedarse dormido, desde escuchar música hasta leer algún libro, pero pocos funcionaban. Descubrió que solo conversando con el otro proyeccionista lograba no cerrar los ojos mientras en la pantalla aquel filme de Titón se veía por enésima vez.No faltaron los fracasos. Un día en que estaba solo el sueño lo venció y, a pesar de los gritos de “¡cojo!” y “¡suelta la botella!”, solo despertó cuando desfilaban frente a los ojos de los espectadores “todas esas letras, números y marcas del final del rollo” que se supone que nadie debe ver “en una buena proyección”. 

“Lo único que de verdad nos alegraba la vida era el Festival de Cine de cada diciembre”, evoca ahora. Significaba un oasis en la monotonía de la repetitiva programación. “Lo malo era cuando el evento terminaba y el menú volvía a ser Fresa y Chocolate”, ironiza.

Llegó a conocer tanto la película que una estudiante le pidió una transcripción de todos los parlamentos de los personajes y Albertico solo necesitó tomar un poco de aliento para comenzar a decirlos uno por uno.

Un día el joven proyeccionista fue trasladado hacia el cine Riviera, en plena calle 23. Pensó que así se libraría de ver la misma película cada día, pero su felicidad duró poco. La Distribuidora Nacional de Cine decidió programar Fresa y Chocolate también en su nuevo centro de trabajo. Albertico volvía a tener la célebre pieza de Titón entre sus manos “como ese ladrillo con el que Diego no sabe qué hacer”, bromea.

Entre sus más pertinaces recuerdos está la música compuesta por José María Vitier para la cinta, aunque él la recuerda de una manera bastante peculiar. “El material estaba picoteado y rayado” por lo que había algunas notas de los créditos que faltaban. Se acostumbró a escucharla así. Ahora, cuando la oye en perfecta calidad su mente “siempre omite esas notas”.

En aquellas interminables tandas, atrapado en un ritornelo del que no podía escapar, analizó los movimientos de los actores, aprendió a saber cuándo pestañeaban, cada uno de sus respiros y de sus pausas”. Se le grabó en la cabeza “cada fotograma”.Albertico empezó a detectar esos detalles en los que nadie se fija. “¿Qué hace ese actor de relleno y desenfocado allá en el fondo de la escena? ¿Qué sucede con la fresa en la cuchara de Diego en la primera escena en Coppelia?”. Comenzó a notar también esos “micrófonos o cables que accidentalmente se ven en algunas escenas”. 

“Son detalles que nadie ve porque Fresa y Chocolate es una obra de arte que te lleva por los caminos del bosque”, reflexiona.

“Lo curioso es que en un año de proyección, la película nunca dejó de tener público”, recuerda. A la sala “entraba el que no tenía más nada que hacer, el que no la había visto antes, para fumarse un taco de marihuana o la parejita que se ubicaba en las últimas lunetas del cine para comerse vivos”, y también el que “con algún desnudo de Marilyn Solaya, o los pocos segundos de sexo en pantalla, iba a masturbarse".

También evoca cómo la cinta fue desarmándose entre sus manos porque el material estaba en "muy mal estado". A la película le faltaban fotogramas y los daños eran tan considerables que el proyeccionista comenta que "en algunos casos casos "podías ver el salto en la pantalla".

Hace algún tiempo, Albertico compró en un mercado alemán una copia de Fresa y Chocolate en DVD. Siempre que la ve imagina el sonido del rollo en el proyector. Aunque en la pantalla de su televisor las escenas resplandecen, sus ojos se encaprichan en ver las cicatrices de aquella película que tuvo tantas veces entre sus manos.

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Cuba e Israel [02-04-2017 04:27:01] Pedro Corzo Escritor, Periodista y Editor (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Entre Israel y Cuba, tanto en geografía como en historia hay muy pocas semejanzas. En términos geográficos las diferencias no pueden ser mayores y en la historia no existen particularidades que los aproximen. Sin embargo, en lo que respecta a los pueblos si […] Continue reading
¡Mucho cuidado con los espías vice! ORLANDO FREIRE SANTANA | La Habana | 2 de Abril de 2017 – 09:38 CEST. No es difícil imaginar que en este momento el presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Economistas y Contadores de Cuba (ANEC), la presidenta de la Sociedad Cultural José Martí, y el rector del Instituto […] Continue reading

Yoani Sánchez

Todo fue para llegar hasta aquí: las largas arengas de Hugo Chávez, sus promesas populistas y las prebendas repartidas a los leales. Casi dos décadas de “socialismo del siglo XXI” han logrado que Venezuela abandone el cauce democrático. Esta semana, con la anulación y posterior “restauración” de las competencias de la Asamblea Nacional, la jaula se ha cerrado definitivamente.

Nicolás Maduro dio un paso osado y desesperado. La entidad todopoderosa en la que convirtió al Tribunal Supremo asestó el golpe que el presidente llevaba planeando desde que perdió el control del Parlamento en diciembre de 2015. Los jueces solo hicieron el trabajo sucio y, tres días después, cargaron con el ridículo de echar atrás su decisión.

Los reclamos dentro y fuera de Venezuela impidieron a la cúpula concretar el autogolpe. Una jugada con la que buscaba terminar de anular a su tenaz oposición, enrocarse ante la posible aplicación de la Carta Democrática de la Organización de los Estados Americanos, además de comprar tiempo para su maltrecho y corrupto Gobierno.[[QUOTE:Un país sacudido por los caprichos de una élite política tan obstinada por conservar los privilegios, como de no reconocer que ha perdido el respaldo de la ciudadanía]]Aunque poco después Maduro dio marcha atrás, decretos anteriores hacen que los parlamentarios siguen sin poder implementar sus decisiones legislativas y el país vive desde enero de 2016 bajo un estado de excepción, llamado eufemísticamente de emergencia económica. Los venezolanos pasan por un calvario de penurias, violencia y éxodo.

Cada semana Maduro se inventa alguna campaña o confrontación que le ayude, con el apoyo de la cúpula de su partido, a mantenerse en la silla presidencial y ejercer el control sobre el presupuesto y los pozos petroleros del país.

A los chavistas no les queda nada de ideología. El movimiento que calificaron de popular se ha vuelto adicto a los atributos del poder, incapaz de percibir la realidad de las calles. No es el pueblo venezolano lo que les interesa, sino esa vida de lujos que se han construido en sus palacios mientras proclaman a los cuatro vientos el discurso de ayudar a los pobres y a los más necesitados.

Sin embargo, más alarmante que su insaciable voracidad material es la fragilidad institucional en la que han dejado a la nación. Un país sacudido por los caprichos de una élite política tan obstinada por conservar los privilegios, como de no reconocer que ha perdido el respaldo de la ciudadanía.

Maduro tiene a Venezuela en un puño y no parece dispuesto a soltarla.

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Gasolineras y bombas cerradas en el inicio de la restricción sobre el combustible premium AGENCIAS | La Habana | 1 de Abril de 2017 – 21:07 CEST. Varias estaciones de servicio que expenden solo gasolina especial amanecieron cerradas en La Habana este sábado, día en el que entra en vigor una medida —aún no anunciada […] Continue reading
SIP: El ‘abrumador’ aparato legal del Estado ‘amordaza’ a la prensa e impide su desarrollo AGENCIAS | Ciudad de Guatemala | 2 de Abril de 2017 – 11:35 CEST. El Estado cubano, “enemigo” de una prensa independiente, ejerce sobre ésta un aparato “legal abrumador” para “amordazar e impedir” su desarrollo con una represión preventiva a […] Continue reading

Un tribunal chino condenó a cuatro años de prisión al activista y artista Chen Yunfei, arrestado en 2015 tras rendir tributo a dos estudiantes fallecidos en la masacre de Tiananmen, uno de los capítulos más oscuros de la historia reciente de China, reporta EFE.

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El Gobierno boliviano informó el sábado que un equipo médico cubano realizó una cirugía exitosa de extirpación de un nódulo benigno en una de las cuerdas vocales del presidente del país andino, Evo Morales. "La cirugía prevista que tenía nuestro presidente Evo Morales fue absolutamente exitosa. Los resultados conclusivos y el informe médico nos llenan de plena alegría y satisfacción", informó desde La Habana... Continue reading

El Estado cubano, "enemigo" de una prensa independiente, ejerce sobre ésta un aparato "legal abrumador" para "amordazar e impedir" su desarrollo con una represión preventiva a través de leyes de control económico y político.

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Legna Rodríguez vive desde hace dos años en Miami, pero de alguna manera aún reside en Cuba, donde escribió Mi novia favorita fue un bulldog francés. Quince relatos cortos, "enormes brochazos de un mundo real", el de la Isla, trazados con fuerza y simplicidad, reporta EFE.

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14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 1 April 2017 — Rumors of a general rise in prices have sharpened shortages at gas stations this Saturday, with long lines of vehicles waiting their turn at service stations across the country. The fuel sold at preferential prices for thousands of state employees has gone up 0.10 CUC in recent … Continue reading "Anxiety Grows Over Cuba’s Gas Shortages" Continue reading

La oposición venezolana protestó este sábado en Caracas y algunas otras ciudades del país en rechazo al "golpe de Estado" que, a su juicio, perpetró el Tribunal Supremo y pidió continuar con las movilizaciones pese a que el órgano judicial dejó sin efecto su decisión de asumir las funciones de la Asamblea Nacional, reporta EFE.

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Los orígenes de lo que hoy se conoce como prensa y su papel de veedora de la realidad cotidiana son antiquísimos. Ya hace dos mil años, en la Roma imperial, las cartas de Plinio el Joven fueron un antecedente ancestral del periodismo, pues sirvieron como crónicas que permitieron conocer detalles de la vida romana, así como de la erupción del Vesubio que sepultó a Pompeya.

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No es difícil imaginar que en este momento el presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Economistas y Contadores de Cuba (ANEC), la presidenta de la Sociedad Cultural José Martí, y el rector del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales, estén pensando en aquello que reza "cuando veas las barbas de tu vecino arder, pon las tuyas en remojo".

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… and intellectual challenges. Last September Cuban offered to pay $10 million … business deals, according to Cuban’s view. Cuban is also convinced that … business if Trump lost, Cuban noted. Cuban expounded his Trump theory in … tweeted about Cuban dozens of times. Just last month, after Cuban hinted … Continue reading
… Undergoes Successful Tumor-Removal Surgery in Cuba HAVANA – Bolivia’s President Evo Morales … successful surgery on Saturday in Havana to remove a benign tumor … Research Center hospital in the Cuban capital, the president’s chief … , Rene Martinez, told Telesur from Havana, adding that as part of … Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 24 March 2017 — The José Martí Sports Park, on the Havana Malecon, is benefitting from major repairs, albeit with several years of delay. The iconic installation, which for decades has fascinated photographers with its peculiar mixture of ruins and beauty, is filled these days with construction workers. The sports area was … Continue reading "After Decades of Abandonment, Work Begins on José Martí Sports Park" Continue reading
… table with the Russian government, Cuban theorized, candidate Trump saw it … possibly being influenced by Russia,” Cuban said. “His lean campaign took … most businesses including mine. — Mark Cuban (@mcuban) April 1, 2017 4 … attempt to influence voters — Mark Cuban (@mcuban) April 1, 2017 11 … Continue reading