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Iván García

Iván García,9 April 2017 — They did not put a Makarov pistol to his head or torture him with electric prods. Let’s call him Josué. (The names in his article have been changed). He is a guy who wears American-made jeans, listens to jazz by Winton Marsalis on his iPhone 7 and is a diehard … Continue reading "How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 April 2017 — Money is no object. When it comes to thwarting, harassing and repressing intellectuals or journalists, there are always enough funds in military’s coffers to write a blank check. Solid numbers are hard to come by but, according to conservative estimates, Cuba’s special services and armed forces account for roughly 35% … Continue reading "Cuban Counterintelligence Plays Hardball with Journalists / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García , 21 February 2017 — The wood charcoal embers are slowly browning half a dozen kebabs with vegetables, pineapples and pieces of pork, while, on a shelf, the flies are hovering around the steamed corn cobs. From very early in the morning, Jesús, a chubby mulatto with calloused hands, gets on with cooking chicken, pork … Continue reading "The Fidel Castro Fair / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 21 April 2017 — There is a slightly damp and cold breeze when Antonio, after drinking a rather bitter sip of coffee, with his wooden cart with rusty steel wheels, moves to a water spout in Manglar Street, very close to an old Sports field in the overpopulated neighborhood of La Victoria, in the … Continue reading "Cuba: Risk of Health Crisis Due to Lack of Potable Water / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 19 April 2017 — When evening falls, Yainier and a group of friends who live in El Canal, a neighborhood in the Cerro municipality, 20 minutes by car from the center of Havana, grab a table by the door of an old bodega, and between swigs of rum and Reggaeton, they play dominoes well … Continue reading "For Ordinary Cubans, Democracy Isn’t a Priority / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 11 April 2017 — Right now the most closely guarded secret in Cuba is the protocols for succession of the nation’s president, army general Raul Castro, after his retirement in February 2018. I will tell you what is rumored among some officials close to the tight-lipped team of advisers and influential relatives in the … Continue reading "Is Raul Castro in Hibernation Mode? / Iván García" 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
Iván García, 21 March 2017 — In the slum of Lawton, south of Havana, the need for housing has converted an old collective residence with narrow passageways into a bunkhouse. With dividers made from cardboard or bricks recovered from demolished buildings, “apartments” have appeared where a dozen families reside, living on the razor’s edge. Among … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime Survives by Fear / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García Quintero, Havana, 19 March 2017 — When the summons arrived for an interview with a police official, the girl’s puzzled family thought it was a mistake. Let’s call them Kenia, Pedro, and Camila. They are neighbors of mine and prefer to remain anonymous. Kenia was summoned to a police station on Finlay street, … Continue reading "“We’ve Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years” / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 17 March 2017 — On a wooden shelf are displayed two bottles of liquid detergent, a dozen packs of Populares cigarettes, a packet of coffee, and, on a hastily-drawn poster, a quotation from the deceased Fidel Castro. Past 10:30 am, the hot bodega [in this case a store where rationed items are sold] … Continue reading "Cuba: To Live As Third Class Citizens / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 4 March 2017 — Twenty years later, Nivaldo (names changed), 43, an orthopedist, still remembers the hot morning when his parents said goodbye to him in the old train station in a small village in the depths of Cuba. The economy of his native village, with narrow streets of cracked asphalt and the … Continue reading "Cuba: Renting Out Medical Specialists / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 27 February 2017 — After working twelve hours driving a vintage 1957 Chevrolet for a collective taxi company on the Cotorro-Central Park route, twenty-nine year old Osdiel sits down to have a beer at a dark bar in the south end of Havana, where he unleashes his frustration over new measures Cuban authorities have … Continue reading "Havana Taxi Drivers Up In Arms / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 23 January 2017 — Miami Airport is almost a city. And the American Airlines’ departures area is a labyrinth, with dozens of corridors and passages. That’s why Noahn, an American living in Michigan, arrived five hours before his flight’s scheduled departure time to Varadero. He was travelling with his wife, his eight-month-old son … Continue reading "Undercover American Tourists in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 24 February 2017 — Marino Murillo, the presumptive tsar of economic reforms in Cuba, a prime minister with broad powers, passed up a seat in the first row next to the senior staff of a long-lived revolution governed by an exclusive club of elders who, as a group, have lived almost 500 years, … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime Has Redoubled Its Assault On The Private Sector / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 18 February 2017 — Seven in the morning at the bus stop at Acosta Avenue and Poey Street, in the dense La Vibora neighborhood in southern Havana. Almost a hundred people are waiting for the No. 174 bus to Vedado. While waiting for the bus, some take the opportunity to have a coffee from … Continue reading "Do We Have to Wait for the Government to Sell the Peugeot 508s to Improve Public Transport? / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 15 February 2017 — Decidedly, equanimity isn’t one of Pastor’s strong points. He’s an industrial engineer transformed into a private taxi driver, and six days a week he drives a 1954 Dodge with a body from a Detroit factory, patched up a couple of times in a Havana workshop and improved with a … Continue reading "Private Taxi Drivers Feel Harassed By The Cuban Government / Iván García" Continue reading
Juan Orlando Pérez, 1 February 2017, (re-published in Ivan Garcia’s blog on 7 February 2017) — Antonio Rodiles, one of the Cuban government’s most tireless enemies, or at least one of its most eloquent, has said that the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House is “good news for Cuba.” It is difficult to … Continue reading "Trump, Rodiles and the Cuban Opposition / Juan Orlando Perez" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 February 2017 — Seven years ago, when the roar of the winds of a hurricane devastated Havana and the water filtered through the unglazed living room door of Lisvan, a private worker living in an apartment of blackened walls which urgently needed comprehensive repairs, his housing conditions did not interest the snitches … Continue reading "Informers Approved by the Cuban Government / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 January 2017 — There are few things that spontaneously bring Cubans on the island together. For example, if the provincial team is crowned champion in the national baseball series, where, in between the infamous beer and a noisy reggaeton, in Communist Party-arranged pachangas, people celebrate at the tops of their voices. It’s also … Continue reading "Cubans Wanting To Emigrate See The United States As First Option" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 27 January 2017 — As soon as the sun warms this frigid tropical autumn, Cordoba Park, located at San Miguel, Revolucion, Lagueruela and Gelanert, in the Havana neighborhood of La Vibora, resembles a picnic and leisure area. Young people sit on the lawn and some families spread large towels as if they were at … Continue reading "Cordoba Park: Internet, History and Business / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 30 January 2017 — Five or six abstract oil paintings are tastelessly jumbled together in the living room of a house in the west of Havana, next to  a collection of laptops and ancient computers waiting to be repaired. We can call the owner Reinaldo. A clean-shaven chap, who has fixed computers, tablets and laptops … Continue reading "The Internet In Cuba: Strict Control And Excessive Prices / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 February 2017 — It’s raining cats and dogs in Havana and the Weather Institute announces a moderate cold front on the west of the island. Like any weekend, after lunch people gather in front of the TV to watch a Spanish football game, a Hollywood film pirated by the Cuban state, or … Continue reading "Everyone in Cuba Wants to Learn English / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 January 2017 — As if by magic, the irreverent and prosaic Donald Trump is the man of the hour for Cubans who have plans to emigrate. “He’s the guy; there’s no one else. If he orders it, the United States will open its doors,” says Miguel, emphatically, while he drives a ramshackle … Continue reading "Cubans Dismiss Obama as Persona Non Grata / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 28 January 2017 — Betting political capital or relying on such an erratic guy as Donald Trump is not good business. Only the desperate, shameless and amoral could argue that the New York magnate is a convinced altruist or humanist. Expecting the enraged Trump to negotiate strategies that address the inefficient Cuban economy, or … Continue reading "In Cuba Everyone Expects Favors From Trump / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia 25 January 2017 — In the poor and mostly black neighborhood of San Leopoldo, cradle of the picaresque, clandestine businesses and the sex trade in Havana, is found La Guarida, probably the best private restaurant in Cuba — which are known as “paladares.” The business is run by Enrique Nunez, a telecommunications engineer converted … Continue reading "Havana ’Paladares’, Between Glamor and Poverty / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 4 January 2017 — Like a metaphorical invisible hand, moving to place a ouija or bet on Russian roulette, David, a young writer, considers that the coming year will be unpredictable for the island. In the hope that the Ifá priests (Yoruba mystics) will spread around their Letters of the Year, the necromancers predict the future, and … Continue reading "Cuba: Skepticism Beats Hope / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30 PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the final redoubts of communism in the world. … Continue reading "Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
Note: This post was published the day before Obama announced the end of the “wet foot-dry foot” policy. Ivan Garcia, 12 January 2017 — Seated in front of a computer and surrounded by wooden shelves filled with DVDs pirated from US channels, Marcos, who earned a degree in biology three years ago, has half a … Continue reading "Cubans on the Island are Concerned Trump Will Appeal Cuban Adjustment Act / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 9 January 2017 — The sun’s rays were not yet peeking over the horizon, when Danier, 10, a fifth grade student at an elementary school in southeast Havana, with a small backpack and two plastic bottles of frozen water, went with his parents to the Plaza of the Revolution to participate in the … Continue reading "Goodbye to Illusion and Spontaneity in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 6 January 2017 — When you live on the edge of an abyss, you lose your capacity to think about the future. Just ask Giraldo, who works as a plumber for Aguas de La Habana, what his plans are for 2017, and you’ll see an expression of surprise on his face. He takes … Continue reading "Cubans Don’t Have Big Plans For 2017 / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 24 November 2016 — Two trucks with trailers, full of reddish-brown earth, park in a narrow street, next to the agricultural market in Mónaco, a neighbourhood thirty minutes from the centre of Havana. Four men with teeshirts and dirty overalls lug sacks of yucas and sweet potatoes, and boxes of tomatoes to a store … Continue reading "Cuba: Christmas for Rich People and for Poor People / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 13 December 2016 — The heat returned to the city along with the Reggaeton, the bustle and the alcohol. There’s nothing that bothers Danay, 26 years old, more than the drops of sweat running down her cheeks, mixed with the unbearable smell of kerosene of the old cars used as taxis in Havana, … Continue reading "So Did Havana Go Back To Laughing, Singing, Dancing? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 23 December 2016 — Every time Christmas approaches the private restaurant managed by Leonel, south of Havana, overflows with decorations and lights on the facade and over the door. The staff don red caps threaded with white and the music resonates in the doorway. The smell of turkey and roasted pig awaken the … Continue reading "Prohibition on Christmas Celebrations Disgusts Havanans / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 December 2016 — According to Luisa, 76, a former prostitute, the first time she collected money for sex, she bathed herself three times trying to remove the smell of an old man who sweated over her body. “I was once young and pretty. The dawn that Batista fled from Cuba, I was in bed … Continue reading "What Fidel Castro Left Us (Part 2) / Iván García" Continue reading
  Ivan Garcia, 17 December 2016 — At the exit of the Bay Tunnel, the P-11 bus is packed with passengers. While the riders enjoy the view of the sea, the odor of saltpeter fills their noses. In this stretch of Havana’s geography, where Monumental Avenue runs, an eight-lane street inaugurated in 1958 by the … Continue reading "What Fidel Castro Left Us (Part 1) / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 December 2016 — In a country sculpted by slogans, intolerance and symbols, the departure of Fidel Castro — absolute ruler and founding father of the Cuban Revolution — changes the rules of the game. Nothing will ever be the same again. No future autocrat will be able to summon a million people … Continue reading "The Seven Phases of Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 6 December 2016 — Some large scale political events, the ones where people are weeping over the death of a “venerated leader” or yelling slogans like ventriloquists, are really smoke and mirrors. A dishonest trick. On April 7, 1957, a month after the assault on the Presidential Palace by the March 13 Revolutionary Council, … Continue reading "The Legacy of Fidel Castro and the Future of Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 4 December 2016 — There are three things in the spirituality of the island. Rumba, Santeria, and baseball, which for a decade has been replaced by the passion for football (soccer) among Cubans, especially the youngest generation. But Fidel Castro is overwhelming. When the cedar casket reposed in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago … Continue reading "Barcelona-Real Madrid: Also Mourning in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 December 2016 — The flag with the three blue and two white stripes, red triangle and solitary star in the middle hung from a black flagpole. For the Rodriguez family, it served as the perfect diversion, taking the attention of the neighborhood’s informers and die-hard supporters off them. They live right in the … Continue reading "Weeping (or Faking It) at Fidel Castro’s Farewell / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 25 November 2016 — After sweeping a park that spans entire block in the Vibora neighborhood of Havana, Silvio sits on a wooden bench and, in the shade of a carob tree and a fresh autumn breeze, guzzles a liter of cold water. As for many Cubans, politics aren’t his forte. He’s serving a … Continue reading "Cuba: Not Everyone Sympathizes with Trump / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 28 November 2016 — It was half past ten at night in the privately-owned Perla Negra bar in Havana’s populous La Viñora neighborhood and thirty minutes by car from the center of the city, where the locals were drinking mojitos, caipirinhas and even stout. No one had yet learned of the death of … Continue reading "The Death of Fidel Castro: What Awaits Us Now? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 29 November 2016 — Cintia will never forget the day Fidel Castro died. Not because she had affection for the old guerrilla or felt devoted to the figure of the ex-comandante in chief. One month ago, Cintia’s parents had reserved a room, paid for sessions of photography and makeup, and invited some 100 … Continue reading "The "Dry Law" After the Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 26 November 2016 — At midnight no one was talking about the biggest news story of the year along crowded Tenth of October Avenue. A group of drunks was downing white rum from little cardboard cartons, cheap hookers were plying their trade in a tiny park in Santa Catalina, and four transvestites in … Continue reading "Fidel Castro Dies for Real / Iván García" Continue reading

Algunos sábados, ya tarde en la noche, tras repartir las ganancias con el administrador y separar discretamente un sobre con varios billetes en pesos convertibles "para los pejes gordos de más arriba", Nicolás, jefe de almacén de un centro nocturno, abre una botella de Johnny Walker.

El whisky lo guarda en la última hilera de un estante metálico donde se amontonan rones añejos, vodkas y pomos de refrescos. Luego de echarle cubitos de hielo al trago, se pone a recordar viejos tiempos de la gastronomía habanera.

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Ivan Garcia, 17 November 2016 — Yoandry, 29, vowed that he would emigrate fromCuba in 2016. The best strategy was not to put all his eggs in one basket. Last year he sent in a form to participate in the global lottery offered annually by the United States government. “To have an American visa is … Continue reading "Cuban Emigration: All Roads Lead to the United States / Iván García" Continue reading