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"We Are Not Leaving Cuba", Say Members Of The Center For Coexistence Studies

14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2017 — In the midst of a wave of pressure from
the authorities, members of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC)
have issued a declaration of commitment to their work on the island. "We
are not leaving Cuba, we are not leaving the Church and we will continue
working for the country," says the text signed by Dagoberto Valdés,
director of the CEC.

The message expresses gratitude for "solidarity in moments of tough
repression" and assures that the team "continues to think, propose,
dream and build a free and prosperous future for all Cubans."

The statement was issued a few hours after police stopped the vehicle in
which Yoandy Izquierdo, a member of the CEC, was traveling from Pinar
del Rio to Havana to board a flight. The activist was invited to
participate in the Stockolm Internet Forum (SIF) in Sweden but misses
his plane this Sunday because of the arrest.

Izquierdo was detained at the police unit in Los Palacios and officers
asserted that they need to conduct a search to determine if the driver
of the car was "charging for the shuttle service to the airport."

The activist was not released until after his flight took off, but this
Monday he managed to reach José Martí International Airport and board a
plane to his destination.

The detention of Izquierdo was added to an escalation in repression
against the members of the CEC that has increased in the last months;
several of the organization's managers have been object of pressures,
warnings and interrogations.

Last January the economist Karina Gálvez suffered a raid on her home and
has been accused of an alleged tax evasion offense. The police are
keeping her house sealed waiting for the trial to take place.

The Coexistence Studies Center organizes training courses for the
citizenry and civil society in Cuba. The entity functions independently
of the State, the Church and any political grouping. The magazine of the
same name emerged in 2008 and is published bimonthly.

Source: "We Are Not Leaving Cuba", Say Members Of The Center For
Coexistence Studies – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/we-are-not-leaving-cuba-say-members-of-the-center-for-coexistence-studies/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2017 — In the midst of a wave of pressure from the authorities, members of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC) have issued a declaration of commitment to their work on the island. “We are not leaving Cuba, we are not leaving the Church and we will continue working for the … Continue reading "“We Are Not Leaving Cuba”, Say Members Of The Center For Coexistence Studies" Continue reading
San Salvador, May 19 (RHC-teleSUR)-- A judge in El Salvador on Thursday reopened the nearly four-decade-old case of murdered Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, an icon of the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America, and asked that prosecutors seek criminal … Continue reading
… a refurbished synagogue in Havana, shows Cuba's progress in religious … . The priest is a native Cuban who celebrated Mass in churches … spiritual connection between Cuba and Tampa. Tampa and Cuba have already had … in Cuba. Two other Catholic churches are currently under construction in HavanaContinue reading
Reparto Eléctrico: causeways, mounds of garbage, spillage, and zero
cultural life
JORGE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ | La Habana | 18 de Mayo de 2017 - 12:38 CEST.

The Consejo Popular Eléctrico, in the Havana municipality of Arroyo
Naranjo, is another example of a "marginalized neighborhood" stemming
from the Government's erroneous practices with regards to socio-cultural
and economic issues, complain residents.

"It is hard to say that Reparto Eléctrico is a community when the first
idea that comes to mind, if you pay attention, is its absolute
desolation, in every way," says Luis Alcides, while waiting in a long
line to withdraw money from the only ATM in the area.

"In Reparto we don't have even a CADECA (currency exchange center.). The
closest one is in Mantilla, five bus stops away," says Lazara Mena,
standing in the same line.

"There is a small branch of the Banco Metropolitano, where transactions
are limited, and a little stand to pay phone bills, or for retirees to
collect their pensions. But they close around 3:00 in the afternoon.
After that time you have to go to La Víbora," she adds.

Other inhabitants complain about the deterioration and neglect the
neighborhood suffers from, which has worsened in the last 15 years.

With a current population of approximately 19,515, distributed in six
different sections, Reparto Eléctrico - formerly known as Finca
Parcelación Blanquita - was completed on 26 August, 1952, on a lot of
5.2 caballerías (some 495 acres), thanks to a contribution of 48,000 USD
from the Electrical Company Retirement Fund.

After rising to power in 1959, Fidel Castro's Government nationalized
the electric company, and also distribution.

According to Isabel Díaz, a Metrology and Quality technician, what
really characterizes the area today are "causeways instead of streets,
mounds of garbage, wastewater leaks, limited lighting and public
telephone services, and no cultural life."

"A cityscape that truly illustrates marginalization, where you have the
feeling that the bushes are going to swallow the buildings. And there is
never any answer about who is in charge of the distribution and
implementation of state public utilities, because here, except for the
general hospital and the schools, nothing works or exists."

Manuel Triana, a retired cartographer, says that she is proud of the
fact that Popular Power delegates and territorial leaders don't like her.

"My questions irk them. They never show up when a problem is pressing.
They appear for patriotic celebrations, when the main street is all
decked out, the day after the garbage is collected. I always tell them:
'You come one day, and I live with the disaster the other 29 days of the
month.'"

Without cultural life or entertainment

In addition to the shortage of State establishments (which affects the
entire country), the dearth of public services, and the deterioration of
all the Consejo Popular Eléctrico's infrastructure, there is also a
cultural void.

"Except on those occasions when artistic activities are organized by
order of the Municipal Cultural Board, there is no cultural life here,
even though we have the Casa de Cultura 13 de Agosto," grumbles Natacha
Gutiérrez, age 24.

"At 9:00 everything stops, and the only services are those offered by
the self-employed. But it can´t all be eating and drinking," says
Ernesto Rosa.

"The Casa de Cultura has a program, but it does not address the
entertainment interests of this community, and I don't mean just the
teenagers, but also the children and the adults. The Casa de Cultura is
like a church, it's so quiet there."

Madelyn Reygada, the mother of a 15-year-old son, says that she was
recently summoned by a police unit in Zapata, in Vedado, because her son
was caught with two friends taking selfies on the statue of Eloy Alfaro,
on G Street.

"The officers behaved decently. But they asked me an incredible
question: why my son went from here all the way to Vedado to have fun. I
didn't even bother responding."

Local residents do not view their socio-cultural impoverishment as a
unique, unusual or isolated case, but rather part of a phenomenon of
marginalization that, Luis Alcides observed, extends through Havana's
humblest neighborhoods, whether "central or on the outskirts."

An official with the municipal council in Arroyo Naranjo, who requested
anonymity, stated that the "private sector could help to enrich the
social, cultural and economic life of these neighborhoods."

"But there are many limitations and regulations imposed by the State on
self-employment. As long as there is no public participation in the
design of the country's cultural policy, we will witness the
marginalization of an entire city."

Source: Reparto Eléctrico: causeways, mounds of garbage, spillage, and
zero cultural life | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1495103927_31206.html Continue reading
A Liverpool bar with a Cuban spirit could become the place … they say in Havana). Over at Alma De Cuba on Seel Street … mezzanine floor at Alma De Cuba. “The altar is the centrepiece … church overlooks the Alma De Cuba dancefloor “It’s a really … Continue reading
… we have a synagogue in Havana," Cabañas said. Still, the … build a new church. The Cuban government approved the necessary permits … here of cigar factories using Cuban tobacco. The ties were strengthened … are under construction in Cuba — one in Havana and another in Santiago … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 14 May 2017 – This Sunday Cuban State Security prevented Yoandy Izquierdo, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC), from boarding a flight to Sweden to participate in the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF). The car in which the activist was traveling to José Martí International Airport was intercepted by the police, according to … Continue reading "State Security Prevents Yoandy Izquierdo From Boarding A Flight For Sweden" Continue reading
Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different
MAY 15, 2017 BY MONIKA DONIMIRSKA

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cuba is
experiencing a brain drain, though it's not the kind that forecasters
were predicting when the long-closed country began opening its borders.
It's internal brain drain, says Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of
the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business Office of
Global Initiatives and Center for International Business Education and
Research.

The small island nation's doctors and other highly skilled workers
aren't emigrating for more lucrative jobs in Miami and elsewhere. In
fact, they aren't emigrating at all. They're staying in Cuba, but moving
toward the burgeoning hospitality sector.

And it's posing a major new threat to Cuba, Bellinger says. „Cubans are
deciding that they'll have a higher quality of life if they enter the
travel and service industry."

To be sure, some highly skilled Cubans – doctors, lawyers, professors
and others – are leaving the country in search of opportunity. But many
more who are staying in Cuba are opting to leave their jobs because of
low state salaries or are taking on second jobs, becoming taxi drivers,
waiters and bellhops – jobs involving regular interaction with foreign
visitors and their hard currency. The government is experiencing a sort
of „drain" as well, as state workers flee their jobs for the more
lucrative private sector.

„These are people who are leaving the jobs for which they have been
trained," Bellinger says. „Last year, we met an English teacher who left
his rural school position to become a tour guide, both to use the
language he had learned and to gain access to hard currency."

Cuba's universities have long been regarded as the best in Latin
America, but in recent years, gross enrollment has been plummeting,
sparking additional worries.

The country maintains two forms of legal tender: the Cuban peso (CUP)
and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S.
dollar, and is many times more valuable than the CUP. Neither trades on
the global forex market. Most Cubans are paid in the weaker peso (CUP),
limiting their buying power. Visitors to the country use the CUC and
leave tips, and that's helping to fuel Cuba's internal brain drain.

Bellinger has been traveling to Cuba since 2010, studying what's
happening there as she forges experiential learning opportunities for
students and collaborative partnerships with the University of Havana
and its associated research centers. As part of her work with NAFSA, the
Association of International Educators, she has worked with the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, a Treasury Department unit that manages
sanctions, to educate the higher education community in the U.S. on
regulations that govern legal travel to Cuba. She also leads the CIBER
Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Program to Cuba for
faculty from across the U.S.

She has seen an uneven upturn in travel, steep in Havana, but shallow
everywhere else.

„Last year, we were told by a hotel manager that Havana has 100 percent
capacity in hotels all year long," she says. The capital city is so full
of foreign travelers today that it's scarcely recognizable from even a
year ago.

Travel to Cuba's secondary cities, meanwhile, has been generally missing
the boom. That's in large part because U.S. travelers have faced highly
restrictive travel conditions in the past and may not be aware of what
the island has to offer outside of Havana.

To be approved for travel to Cuba, Americans must have an itinerary that
aligns with one of 12 approved purposes, which include religious
activities, journalism, humanitarian projects and people-to-people
outreach. „And tourism is not one of them. This is not a destination
that U.S. citizens can just explore for sun and sand," Bellinger says.
That has kept most U.S. travelers in Havana for now, but gradually that
will change, Bellinger says, as U.S. relations with Cuba continue to evolve.

As Cuba looks to its future, Bellinger says, it must focus on these
eight things.

Support economic reforms: This has already begun, Bellinger notes, but
much work remains. The economic reforms announced in 2010 have
encouraged development and job creation in the non-state sector, which
has eased the financial burden on the state. Over 500,000 Cubans are now
self-employed in their own microenterprises and private cooperatives,
but the regulations that govern these businesses are still constraining.
For example, private restaurants are able to have only 50 seats, and
private companies are not permitted to import any goods or foodstuff to
support their business.

Address the dual currency issue: Rebuild the country around a single
currency, to level the playing field for Cubans and increase consumer
confidence.

Address salary issue: Traditionally esteemed, high-skilled work should
be appropriately compensated, to counter brain drain tendencies in the
country.

Invest in innovative capacity: „Because of Cuba's history," Bellinger
says, „it does not lack the ability to innovate. Just think about the
old jalopies." Closed off from much global trade, Cubans have long found
ways to maintain and retrofit 50-year-old automobiles. „That type of
innovation exists," she says, „but so do impressive global innovations
in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

Ease access to information: Access to the internet has increased in
Cuba, with about 2,000 homes in Havana authorized to receive the
internet directly and with the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing
virtually every day. „It is fantastic," Bellinger says, „that the
government is no longer afraid of giving people access to information."
The country should encourage the democratization of the internet,
allowing greater accessibility at a fair and level price, she adds. In
most countries, internet prices are determined based on the amount of
data used. In Cuba, users are charged based on the types of websites
visited, with domestic websites costing less than foreign ones. Some
foreign websites are still blocked in Cuba.

Educate a generation of business leaders: For a half-century beginning
around 1960, the economy was generally controlled by the Cuban
government. Now, the country faces a crisis in business education: Who
will educate the next generation of business leaders, job creators and
entrepreneurs? The reforms that have allowed for the creation of private
business have not been supported with education, meaning that the
individuals starting and running small businesses do not have access to
the formal training they need to be successful. The Catholic Church has
begun a program that's similar to a masters of business program, and a
Miami-based nonprofit is doing some startup business training on what
Bellinger describes as „a very small scale." But education remains an
area where Cuba prohibits joint ventures with foreign entities, so
prospects for business education remain murky.

Improve transportation and infrastructure: Cuba has infrastructure
problems, „first and foremost," Bellinger says, making travel cumbersome
between Havana and the country's secondary cities. Addressing those
problem would spread economic development across the island.

Choose democracy: Elections are planned for 2018, when Cuban President
Raul Castro plans to step down. „But if there's going to be an election,
is it going to be fair? Who will be the key players? We don't know,"
Bellinger says. „It's as important as ever that Cuba listen to its
citizens."

Central to her suggestions is the notion of investing in human capital.
„At the end of the day," Bellinger says, „if you don't invest in human
capital – if you don't invest in your workforce – nothing is going to
change in Cuba."

Visit Smith Brain Trust for related content
at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust and
follow on Twitter @SmithBrainTrust.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized
leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and
schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School
offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online
MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as
outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its
degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North
America and Asia.

Contact: Greg Muraski at 301-892-0973 or gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu

Source: Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different | satPRnews -
http://www.satprnews.com/2017/05/15/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 5 May 2017 — “Cuba is waiting for changes,” said Archbishop Dionisio García Ibáñez Friday on Radio Vatican; he has also said that “the Cuban people can live in better spiritual and material conditions.” The statements of García Ibáñez, collected in Spanish by ACI Prensa, came after Pope Francisco received a delegation of Cuban prelates … Continue reading "The Archbishop Of Santiago de Cuba Says In The Vatican That The Island “Is Waiting For Changes”" Continue reading
Christians in Cuba worry about student's alleged persecution
After trip to the U.S., Cuban pro-democracy student gets expelled
By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer , Hatzel Vela - Reporter
Posted: 2:01 PM, May 10, 2017
Updated: 2:11 PM, May 10, 2017

HAVANA - A 20-year-old history student dared to publicly criticize the
Cuban government. He also defied them when he met with U.S. officials to
try to influence President Donald Trump's policy.

During a meeting with representatives of the U.S. Commission on
International Religious Freedom in Washington, Félix Llerena wore a suit
and tie. The ten members of the U.S. federal government commission make
policy recommendations to Congress, the Secretary of State and Trump.

Llerena documented his trip on social media. He drank coffee under the
U.S. flag and visited the Radio y Televisión Martí studio in Miami. The
U.S. federal government has been financing the TV station's programs in
Spanish since 1990.

"I am returning to continue the struggle for your true liberation,"
Llerena wrote on Facebook during his return flight to Cuba.

Cuban customs' officials detained him for about four hours when he
arrived April 27 at the Aeropuerto Abel Santamaría in Santa Clara. He
reported they seized his tablet, flash drives, a pamphlet of the U.S.
Constitution, a cap with the Bay of Pigs Invasion Brigade 2506 logo and
cards. The alleged harassment didn't stop there.

Cuban police officers later went to pick him up at his home in the
province of Villa Clara's town of Encrucijada. He told friends that
state security agents called him a "terrorist," accused him of having
ties to terrorists living in Miami and threatened him with not being
able to go back to the town.

"I am a young Christian, a Cuban, a patriot and a pacifist,"
Llerena later said in a statement. "I would never approve of an armed or
violent struggle, or of an armed foreign invasion that would hurt my
people."

On Monday, Llerena learned that the Universidad
de Ciencias Pedagógicas Enrique José Varona's administrators decided to
expulse him. They attributed their decision to absenteeism.

"They told me that if I wanted to return I had to wait for two years ...
But of course everyone knows that my expulsion is due to purely
political reasons," Llerena wrote on Facebook.

Llerena traveled to the U.S. as part of a Christian delegation that
included Baptist church leaders Mario
Felix Lleonart, Yoaxis Marcheco and Raudel Garcia Bringas, and Apostolic
Movement Pastor Yiorvis Bravo. They are part of the island's Christian
revival.

The Cuban constitution recognizes freedom of religion. As a result,
clergy and academics estimate there are some 40,000 Methodists, 100,000
Baptists and 120,000 members of the Assemblies of God. About 60 percent
of Cubans are baptized Catholic, with many also following Afro-Cuban
syncretistic traditions such as Santeria.

Llerena also serves as the central region coordinator for the Patmos
Institute, a Christian organization that promotes religious liberty on
the island. He is also a promoter for CubaDecide, a campaign to request
an electoral vote to begin a transition to Democracy on the island.

Mervyn Thomas, the director of the London-based Christian Solidarity
Worldwide, released a statement asking the Cuban government "to cease
its harassment of Felix and to turn its attention to addressing its
ongoing violations of freedom of religion or belief as a matter of urgency."

Source: Christians in Cuba worry about student's alleged persecution -
https://www.local10.com/news/cuba/christians-in-cuba-worry-about-students-alleged-persecution Continue reading
Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of TodosMarchamos

14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested
this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa
Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March)
campaign for the release of Cuba's political prisoners.

The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with three
other activists outside the group's headquarters in Havana's Lawton
neighborhood. The women carried posters denouncing the harassment
against their movement, dissident Deisy Artiles told 14ymedio.

Soler was leaving the headquarters along with to Yamilet Garro, Aliuska
Gómez and Sodrelis Turruella when they were intercepted and arrested by
the police. Inside the house were Artiles, along with Ladies in White
Zenaida Hidalgo and Cecilia Guerra.

The police also detained, in the vicinity of the headquarters, the
former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta and the activist Jose Oscar
Sánchez.

"The operation started on Friday morning," Artiles said, adding that "an
act of repudiation was carried out [against Berta Soler] at the time of
her arrest."

Dissident Ada Lopez was also arrested outside her home when she tried to
reach the headquarters of the movement. Her husband reported the arrest
and managed to photograph the moment she was taken to a police car.

In Matanzas, at least a dozen of the movement's women managed to reach
the church to attend Sunday Mass, while 19 were arrested on the way to
the parish.

"We have had an operation since Saturday in front of the houses of the
Ladies in White," said Matanzas activist Leticia Ramos Herrería.

The police "have been embroiled in trying to end our movement," says the
opponent. "The threats they are making against the activists and their
families are serious. Many are being fined for simply evading the police
cordon in front of their homes."

In the town of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba, a dozen members of
the group were arrested, while in Ciego de Avila the police violently
arrested the dissidents Lucía López Rondón and Mayden Maidique Cruz.

On Thursday, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) issued a
report in which it stated there were 1,809 arbitrary detentions in the
island during the first four months of 2017.

Throughout the month of April the organization documented 467 arbitrary
arrests, of which 335 were women and 132 were men. 147 of those arrested
were black and ten of them were "beaten brutally," according to the text.

The OCDH emphasizes that a climate of repression prevails "at a time
when the Cuban Government has achieved important international support
such as that from the European Union and the Government of Spain," and
warns that "in the coming months the political climate may be aggravated
because of the government's nervousness over the difficult economic and
social situation that Cuba is facing."

Source: Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of
#TodosMarchamos – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/dozens-of-ladies-in-white-arrested-on-the-100th-day-of-todosmarchamos/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March) campaign for the release of Cuba’s political prisoners. The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with … Continue reading "Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of #TodosMarchamos" Continue reading
Cuban student arrested after trip to Washington
by Diana Chandler, posted Friday, May 05, 2017

SANTA CLARA, Cuba (BP) -- Religious liberty leaders are interceding on
behalf of a college student interrogated, threatened and charged with
public disorder by the Cuban government because of his work to expose
Christian persecution there.

Felix Yuniel Llerena López, far left, is shown with USCIRF commissioner
Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, center, and others during his April trip to
Capitol Hill to advocate for religious liberty in his native Cuba.
Photo from Twitter
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, a
commissioner with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
(USCIRF), are advocating for the student, 20-year-old Felix Yuniel
Llerena López, who was arrested April 27 upon his return from a trip to
Washington.
Cuban state security authorities made him sign an "Acta de Advertencia"
or pre-arrest warrant for public disorder, ordered him to appear in
court and also interrogated his mother, CSW said in a May 2 press release.

"We are extremely concerned about the government's treatment of Felix
Yuniel Llerena López upon his return to Cuba," CSW Chief Executive
Mervyn Thomas said in the press release. "Public accusations linking him
to terrorism are not only preposterous and unfounded, but also put his
family in danger. We call on the Cuban government to cease its
harassment of Felix and to turn its attention to addressing its ongoing
violations of freedom of religion or belief as a matter of urgency. We
also urge the international community to closely monitor this situation."

Llerena, central region coordinator for the independent Patmos Institute
for religious freedom, was part of a Patmos delegation including
evangelical pastors who briefed USCIRF, the State Department and
non-governmental groups on religious freedom violations in Cuba, CSW
reported. Llerena is described as the only Christian in his family.
Arriaga, who met Llerena during his trip to Capitol Hill, has initiated
a Twitter campaign on the student's behalf -- @FelixLlerenaCUB. While
Llerena's current whereabouts were not disclosed, Arriaga said on a May
2 WORLD Radio broadcast that he remained in custody.

"He came to the United States briefly with a group of evangelical
pastors," Arriaga told WORLD Radio, "and after he met with the
commission members -- precisely because he met with the commission
members -- he flew back to Havana with great courage to again continue
to spread the Word of Gospel."

The exposure of Llerena's story will not only encourage him but will
also help deter the Cuban government from harming him, Arriaga told
WORLD Radio. She also encouraged Americans to call and email the Cuban
government directly, urging them to stop harassing people of faith.

"The fact that his name is known by Americans alone," she said,
"protects him in Cuba."

Llerena was detained just a day after USCIRF released its 2017 annual
report naming Cuba for the 14th consecutive year as a "Tier 2" country,
the USCIRF category that falls just short of countries described as the
world's most severe violators of religious liberty.

Other members of the Patmos delegation to Washington, CSW said, included
Apostolic Movement pastor Yiorvis Bravo Denis, Baptist church leaders
Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, and Baptist
theologian and former political prisoner Raudel Garcia Bringas. But
there was no word of whether they also had been interrogated upon their
return to Cuba.

Cuban authorities captured Llerena as he arrived at Abel Santamaria
International Airport in Santa Clara, CSW said in its press release.

"Llerena López reported that he was questioned aggressively by two
high-ranking state security officers, who appeared to have detailed
information about his activities while in the United States," CSW said.
"They told him, 'This is a country town; the people here don't know
anything about human rights and if one of these country peasants is made
to believe that you are going to commit a terrorist act, he is going to
cut you open with a machete, and later you won't be able to say that we
sent him."

CSW describes the Patmos Institute as an independent group promoting
freedom of religion or belief and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.

Common religious liberty offenses committed by the Cuban communist
government, USCIRF said in its 2017 report, include the harassment and
short-term detention of religious leaders and laity, demolition of
churches, threats to confiscate churches and the systematic restriction
of religious practice through laws and surveillance.

Source: Cuban student arrested after trip to Washington -
http://bpnews.net/48819/cuban-student-arrested-after-trip-to-washington Continue reading
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, May 5, 2017 / 09: … ;EWTN News).- Following the Cuban bishops' ad limina meeting … faster than others, but we Cubans, whatever our personal ideas may … can express their own faith.” “Cubans are a religious people, but … Continue reading

La iglesia First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York (FPCNYC) invita al concierto de Melvis Santa & Ashedí, evento que forma parte de "Cuban State of Mind", una serie de actividades que pretenden celebrar "la rica tradición del arte y la cultura cubana" en Estados Unidos.

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In the twilight of the Castros
By Stephen Kinzer APRIL 14, 2017
SANTA CLARA, Cuba

THIS PROVINCIAL CAPITAL in central Cuba throbbed with life on a recent
Saturday night. In one plaza, a Beatles cover band sang "Ticket to Ride"
for an enthusiastic crowd. Exuberant groups of gay men made their way
toward a club that stages drag shows and welcomes patrons of all sexual
orientations. In an evangelical church, dozens of young people were
being driven to near-ecstasy by a young preacher shouting, "We need the
voice of God now!" Many kids wore T-shirts featuring the American flag.

None of this would have been possible or even imaginable at the height
of Fidel Castro's power. Beatles music was banned in Cuba. Gays were
arrested. Public displays of religiosity were forbidden. Police would
have viewed wearing the American flag as nearly equivalent to wearing
the swastika. Cubans now enjoy more cultural freedom than at any time
since the Castro movement seized power 58 years ago.

Economic progress has been more fitful, but still significant. Small
businesses have sprouted across the island. By some estimates, as many
as half a million Cubans are now self-employed. That is a remarkable
change in a country where private enterprise was demonized for
generations. It has whetted the appetite of many shopkeepers,
beauticians, and restaurant owners to expand beyond tight legal limits.

As for political change, it remains beyond a distant horizon. President
Raul Castro is expected to retire next year. No one I met imagines that
this transition will lead to serious changes in the ruling system. This
is today's Cuba: remarkable cultural opening, growing economic opening,
no political opening.

Cuban leaders fear that allowing unrestricted business growth would
strengthen the wealthier class that is already emerging, give enemies in
the United States new ways to subvert the revolutionary project, and
ultimately lead to the collapse of their government. They are right.
Capitalist economics might make Cuba rich, but it would also create a
new version of the class society that revolutionaries have devoted their
lives to wiping away. This is their dilemma. In recent years they have
allowed Cubans to become more prosperous, but that has led to widening
social divisions. How far should they allow the process to go?

Booming tourism is among the forces that have created both new
possibilities and new frictions. Tourists — and Cubans with relatives
abroad — use a different currency from the one most Cubans use. It
allows them to buy many products that are beyond the reach of those who
earn local pesos. Worst of all, tourist demand sucks large amounts of
food out of the market. That leaves even less for Cubans. Many spend
hours every day trying to find food they can afford on government
salaries that often hover below $25 per month.

Cuba has large amounts of fertile and uncultivated land. Selling it to
agro-business conglomerates would produce more than enough food for
every citizen. It would also, however, mark a return to the era when
rich outsiders controlled Cuba's economy. Determined to avoid this, the
government is taking half-steps instead. Private farmers may now sell
their produce more freely. Some state-run cooperatives have become
independent. Good food, though, remains beyond the reach of many Cubans
who must shop in ill-supplied government markets.

Havana, the capital, used to be famous for its fleet of sputtering,
broken-down American cars, all imported before the 1959 revolution. Many
of them have been refitted, polished, and turned into taxis that take
tourists on pricey city tours. Not all Cubans appreciate this. "Those
cars look different to us than they look to you," one man told me as he
pointed to a glistening 1939 Ford Deluxe convertible, complete with
rumble seat. "To you, they're a cute way to have fun. To us, they
symbolize our backwardness. We're stuck in time, back in the days when
those cars were made. We're not getting anywhere."

One sign of the frustration many Cubans feel is the remarkable aging of
the population. Young people have flooded out, leaving parks and plazas
in many towns full of old people. This adds another burden to the
already inadequate welfare system, and poses serious challenges for
future growth. "Before, there were lots of grandchildren to take care of
grandparents," said Juan Carlos Alfonso Fraga, an official at the
national statistics bureau. "Now, we sometimes have more grandparents
than grandchildren."

Cuba's long century of repression and upheaval famously began with the
US intervention of 1898. A commanding monument on the Malecon, the long
seaside boulevard that anchors Havana, commemorates the explosion of an
American warship, the USS Maine, that became the pretext for
intervention after newspapers and politicians falsely claimed that it
was the result of an enemy attack. In 1899, the US government decided to
renege on its pledge to grant Cuba full independence, and installed a
puppet regime instead. That led to dictatorships, deepening anger, the
Castro revolution, and decades of Communist rule.

President Obama's visit last year, and his modest loosening of the US
trade embargo, momentarily raised hopes for a deep change in US-Cuba
relations — and possibly deep changes in Cuba itself. That has not
happened. Cuban leaders are working quietly to assure that President
Trump does not revert to the bitterly anti-Cuba policies of the
pre-Obama era. Many ordinary Cubans, however, worry more about getting
through each day.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for
International and Public Affairs at Brown University. Follow him on
Twitter @stephenkinzer.

Source: In the twilight of the Castros - The Boston Globe -
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/04/14/twilight-castros/95OdHKELKcSeu8NfrnyFxJ/story.html Continue reading
Marco Rubio: 'Trump will treat Cuba like the dictatorship it is'
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Two months after the Trump administration announced a total review of
U.S. policy toward Cuba, several controversial proposals are being
circulated at the White House with no clear front-runner on the issue.

But Sen. Marco Rubio says he has spoken with Trump three times about Cuba.

"We've been walking through all these issues with the president and his
team, figuring out the right steps to take and when," Rubio told el
Nuevo Herald.

"I am confident that President Trump will treat Cuba like the
dictatorship it is and that our policy going forward will reflect the
fact that it is not in the national interest of the United States for us
to be doing business with the Cuban military," he added.

The Miami Republican of Cuban descent declined to say whether the
president had made any commitments to him on Cuba policies. But a Rubio
spokesman told el Nuevo Herald that the senator and his staff "have been
working behind the scenes" on Cuba policy.

The Cuban government has taken notice of Rubio's rising voice in U.S.
policy toward Latin America, and the state-run Granma newspaper recently
criticized his efforts to have the Organization of American States
condemn Venezuela's human rights record.

But the Granma article carefully avoided insulting Trump. And the Raúl
Castro government, in a rare show of restraint, has said little about
the Trump administration as it waits for the ongoing review of overall
U.S. policies toward the island.

Spokespersons for the White House and the State Department have said
that the National Security Council (NSC) has the lead in the
multi-agency review. Several knowledgeable sources have said that Jill
St. John, a low-level NSC staffer, is coordinating the work. The White
House did not immediately reply to el Nuevo Herald questions about St. John.

The review requires an initial examination of current policy and
regulations. But whoever is gathering that information "has no
directions on what to do about that," said one source who favors
improved relations with Havana.

Several key jobs in the State Department and other agencies also remain
unfilled by officials "who usually would be the ones you could approach
to talk about Cuba," said one pro-embargo source frustrated by the
so-called "vacuum."

But "treating Cuba as a dictatorship" does not necessarily entail
reversing all of President Barack Obama's measure to improve bilateral
relations. Rubio said he favored tougher policies toward Cuba, a
strategy favored by some dissidents on the island. But he did not reply
directly to a question on whether he favors a total rollback of the new
regulations, as proposed in a memorandum making the rounds on Capitol
Hill and the White House that is believed to have been crafted by staff
members for Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

The memo proposes imposing new sanctions within 90 days unless Cuba
meets a string of requirements contained in the Helms-Burton law and
takes action toward the return of U.S. fugitives and compensation for
confiscated U.S. properties.

Several proposals circulating
However, the memo is just one of many proposing different policies,
according to several sources.

A White House official said in a statement of the Diaz-Balart memo:
"This appears to be an unofficial DRAFT memo which is not consistent
with current formatting and may be a Transition document.

"Some of the language is consistent with what the President said during
the campaign, which is guiding the review of U.S. policy toward Cuba,"
the official said. "The review is not complete and therefore there is no
further comment at this time."

Trump promised during the presidential campaign to "reverse" all the
pro-engagement measures approved by Obama unless the Cuban government
bows to his demands. These days, the phrase making the rounds within
political circles in Washington and Miami is "treat Cuba like a
dictatorship."

"Cuba must be treated for what it is and not, as the Obama
administration did, what it wished Cuba were. Cuba remains a Communist,
totalitarian police state that allies itself with American adversaries
and enemies, including state sponsors of terror and terrorist
organizations," said attorney Jason Poblete of the Washington-based
PobleteTamargo LLP. His wife Yleem Poblete was appointed to the Trump
transition team.

Other proposals floating around Washington would reverse only parts of
the Obama changes, because doing more would disrupt the market and risk
lawsuits from U.S. companies that have already signed deals with Cuba.
The recommendations in the presumed Diaz-Balart memo would cost U.S.
tourism and service companies about $2 billion during the remaining
years of the Trump administration, said John Kavulich, president of the
U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

Turning back the clock even further, to the tight restrictions on travel
and remittances imposed by former President George W. Bush — a
possibility that had frightened many people — seems even less likely now.

Several sources who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly on the
issue said that among the proposals submitted to the Trump
administration is one that would eliminate the self-guided trips to Cuba
under the so-called "people to people" travel category, described as
"tourism on steroids" or a thinly-veiled way to sidestep the U.S. ban on
Cuba tourism.

Another would impose targeted sanctions on Cuban military or Interior
Ministry officials. And a third would deny further licenses to U.S.
companies that do business with enterprises run by the Cuban military,
which controls at least an estimated 60 percent of the island's economy.

"They are 100 percent looking into this," said one source close to the
business sector with ties to Cuba. One pro-engagement source said that
the proposal to deny licenses — perhaps the most detrimental for Cuba —
would be difficult to implement.

"How's OFAC going to determine which companies are connected to the
Cuban military?," said the source.

He also cautioned that such harsh measures could strengthen the most
conservative sectors within Cuba, at a time when the Venezuelan crisis
is growing worse and Castro's deadline for retiring from power in 2018
is approaching.

Rubio's statements, nevertheless, hint that Trump policies may target
the Cuban military. House Speaker Paul Ryan last year also proposed
banning U.S. companies from doing business with Cuba military enterprises.

Lobbyists scrambling
At the same time, groups that support improving relations with Cuba have
not stopped their lobbying efforts, and continue "strategizing about how
to influence the Trump administration, although the window of
opportunity is closing," said Ted Piccone, a senior fellow at Brookings
Institution who specializes in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Piccone said that maintaining the current policy toward Cuba would be in
the best interest of the United States, not just because of the economic
benefits but also because of national security concerns. He said Trump
administration officials such as Jason Greenblatt at the NSC, Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are
"open to this argument."

U.S. companies doing business with Cuba also have been sending messages
to the Trump administration in support of a pro-business agenda.

"With the new administration's desire to grow our economy, we are
hopeful that both governments will continue the momentum to work to open
the door for commerce to flourish between our two countries," said
Vanessa Picariello, Norwegian Cruise senior director of public relations.

"Business and civic leaders from the American Farm Bureau, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce and Republican members of Congress also have been
encouraging President Trump to shake up our failed embargo policy with
Cuba," said James Williams, director of Engage Cuba, a coalition of
businesses and organizations lobbying to eliminate economic sanctions to
Cuba. "President Trump can create billions of dollars in trade and tens
of thousands of American jobs by expanding trade with Cuba."

Letters in support of the current pro-engagement policy have been sent
to the Trump administration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Catholic
Church leaders, the American Farm Bureau, Cuban-American organizations
like the Cuba Study Group and members of Congress like Minnesota
Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who has submitted a bill to lift the U.S.
trade embargo on Cuba.

Piccone said that on balance the pro-engagement camp feels "positive,
although realistic that certain promises were made to senators like Rubio.

"It is up for grabs, what is happening at the end."

Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Marco Rubio: 'Trump will treat Cuba like the dictatorship it is'
| Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article142898404.html Continue reading
… when visiting Cuba recently. The six-strong group travelled to Havana as part … three years, with visitors from Cuba coming to Scotland last year … 's Sarah Brown in Cuba While there the group got … different issues (about living in Cuba) will be looked at in … Continue reading
14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 31 March 2017 – A report published by the Associated Press published last Monday, under the title “Far From the Dark Past, Evangelicals Growing in Cuba,” upset evangelical pastors with its open defense of the Cuban regime to the detriment of religious freedom. The author, Andrea Rodríguez, cites one of the … Continue reading "Cuban Evangelicals Denounce Complacent Article By Associated Press" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 31 March 2017 — A delegation from the European Union in Cuba visited the Coexistence Study Center (CEC) in the city of Pinar del Río on Thursday. The group was headed by EU political attaché in Havana, Carlos Perez Padilla, and also included representatives from the embassies of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece … Continue reading "European Diplomats Visit The Center For Coexistence Studies In Pinar Del Río" Continue reading
Ladies in White Report the Repression They Suffer to Attorney General

14ymedio, Havana, 2017 — The Ladies of White Yamile Garro Alfonso,
Lázara Barbara Sendilla and Maria Cristina Labrada delivered on Monday,
as representatives of the whole movement, a summary report to the
Attorney General's Office on the repression they have suffered over the
last fifteen months.

The leader of the women's group, Berta Soler, explained to 14ymedio that
the report is the same as the one presented on 23 March by Leticia Ramos
to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression,
David Kayes, on "Arbitrary detention and harassment against the family
of Ladies in White," but that it had been "updated to yesterday."

Soler detailed that the new version of the report explains how "the
Cuban regime" threatens them "all the time" with fines to keep them from
leaving the country and with imprisonment.

The leader of the movement denounced that activist Lismerys Quintana
Ávila was sent to prison on Monday in what she defined as "a rigged trial."

"They are really inventing some crimes to be able to fine us and to kill
the Ladies in White," explains Soler

"We delivered it to the Attorney General's Office, the European Union
Delegation, the mailbox of the Apostolic Nunciature and the Embassy of
the United States," said Soler. She also said that they will also "hand
it over to the Archbishop of Havana." According to the Lady in White,
the movement wants the Catholic Church to understand what is happening
to them.

"They are really inventing some crimes to be able to fine us and to kill
the Ladies in White," explains Soler, who considers the actions of the
authorities arbitrary and also denounces "what they are doing to the
families, to the children and spouses," of the activists.

He added that they plan to deliver a copy of the text, about twelve
pages, to the Military Prosecutor's Office and the State Council, as
well as to send it to the embassies of Spain and the Czech Republic by
e-mail.

She also denounced that the Ladies in White headquarters in the Lawton
neighborhood of Havana is surrounded by "an operation" that "has been
around the clock since Thursday, March 23."

Source: Ladies in White Report the Repression They Suffer to Attorney
General – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/ladies-in-white-report-the-repression-they-suffer-to-attorney-general/ Continue reading
Evangelical Churches Booming In Cuba Amid Tensions
March 27, 2017 7:47 AM

HAVANA (CBSMiami/AP) — Fidel Castro's government punished Rev. Juan
Francisco Naranjo and sent him to two years of work camp for preaching
in Cuba where atheism was law. For years, Naranjo's church was almost
abandoned, with just a handful of people daring to attend services.

Naranjo died in 2000 but on a recent Sunday, his William Carey Baptist
Church was packed and noisy. Government doctors treated disabled
children at a clinic inside. A Bible study group discussed Scripture in
one corner of the building before a service attended by 200 of the faithful.

"In the 1960s, the few brothers and sisters who came here had to hide
their Bibles in brown-paper covers," said Esther Zulueta, a 57-year-old
doctor. "It's night and day."

Trump administration officials have repeatedly said religious freedom is
one of the key demands they will make of Cuba when they finish reviewing
former President Barack Obama's opening with the island. The
administration has never been more specific, but outside groups have
accused Cuba of systematically repressing the island's growing ranks of
evangelicals and other Protestants with acts including the seizure of
hundreds of churches across the island, followed by the demolition of many.

An Associated Press examination has found a more complicated picture.
Pastors and worshippers say Cuba is in the middle of a boom in
evangelical worship, with tens of thousands of Cubans worshipping
unmolested across the island each week.

While the government now recognizes freedom of religion, it doesn't
grant the right to build churches or other religious structures. It has
demolished a handful of churches in recent years, but allowed their
members to continue meeting in makeshift home sanctuaries. And like the
Roman Catholic Church, the island's dominant denomination, evangelical
churches have begun providing social services once monopolized by the
Communist government.

"There's a revival of these churches, of the most diverse denominations
in the country, and all of them are growing, not just in the number of
members, but in their capacity to lead and act in society," said
Presbyterian pastor Joel Ortega Dopica, president of Council of Churches
of Cuba, an officially recognized association of 32 Protestant
denominations. "There is religious freedom in Cuba."

Clergy and academics say Cuba's 11 million people include some 40,000
Methodists, 100,000 Baptists and 120,000 members of the Assemblies of
God, which had roughly 10,000 members in the early 1990s, when Cuba
began easing restrictions on public expressions of religious faith. The
church council estimates there are about 25,000 evangelical and other
Protestant houses of worship across the country. About 60 percent of the
population is baptized Catholic, with many also following Afro-Cuban
syncretic traditions such as Santeria.

Naranjo was part of that opening. After the work camp, he returned to a
church whose worshippers were barred from many state jobs. A thaw began
in 1984 when visiting American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson
stunned Cuba by taking Fidel Castro to a Protestant church service. In
1990, Naranjo was among a group of pastors who met with Castro to push
for a greater freedom, and his own church worked on building ties
between religious groups and the Communist Party.

The opening culminated in the 1998 visit of Pope John Paul II, which led
to new liberties for both Catholic and Protestant worshippers.

The Cuban constitution now recognizes freedom of religion, but the law
is silent on the issue of church construction. In a system where the
government has long monopolized public life, virtually all activities
are presumed illegal unless the law says otherwise. Authorities in some
areas have prohibited new churches, even as they allow worship in
religious buildings erected before Cuba's 1959 revolution.

The London-based advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide issued a
report alleging the Cuban government committed 2,380 violations of
religious liberty in 2016, most linked to the declaration of 2,000
Assemblies of God churches as illegal, with 1,400 in process of
confiscation. The group says it based that information on a source
inside Cuba whom it would not name.

Juan Whitaker, the Assemblies of God's treasurer in Cuba, told The
Associated Press this month that none of its churches had been declared
illegal or were at risk of confiscation.

David Ellis, regional director for Latin America and Caribbean for world
missions of the Missouri-based General Council of the Assemblies of God,
told the AP, "We are in ongoing contact with the Cuba Assemblies of God
leadership and they have not reported any churches being confiscated.
Neither have they reported that churches have been threatened with
confiscation."

Kiri Kankhwende, a spokeswoman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said
its assessment hadn't changed and any statement to the contrary could be
explained by official pressure on churches in Cuba.

Christian Solidarity has also cited the case of Juan Carlos Nunez, a
minister in the Apostolic Movement in the eastern city of Las Tunas,
while other religious freedom advocates have cited the case of Bernardo
de Quesada, in the eastern city of Camaguey, as examples of religious
persecution.

Both men told the AP that churches they built in the yards of their
homes were demolished by the government because they were constructed
without permits. Both continue leading services inside their homes,
where hundreds of worshippers gather each week.

"They tolerate me, but they don't accept me," said de Quesada. "I'm not
shutting up or leaving. We have passion and no one will stop us."

Nunez said he was sentenced to a year of house arrest after neighbors
complained about speakers he set up to boost the sound of services in
his home. He blamed the situation on the vague status of new churches in
Cuban law.

"If there were a law on church activities, none of this would happen and
everything would be clear," he said.

Even so, churches are working on projects that once would have been
forbidden to them, including efforts on AIDS prevention, sustainable
agriculture, renewable energy, medicine distribution, training of farm
workers and disaster relief.

"The Cuban authorities have understood the necessity of our presence and
dialogue with the government, which still continues, even if we don't
always agree," said the Rev. Dorilin Tito, a 38-year-old pastor at
William Carey Baptist Church.

Source: Evangelical Churches Booming In Cuba Amid Tensions « CBS Miami -
http://miami.cbslocal.com/2017/03/27/evangelical-churches-booming-in-cuba-amid-tensions/ Continue reading
… previously exclusively operated by the Cuban government. 'There's … ;There is religious freedom in Cuba.' Cuba's 11 million … in a report that the Cuban government has committed 2,380 … Baptist Church, said: 'The Cuban authorities have understood the necessity … Continue reading
Cuba's secret negotiator with US was president's son: cardinal
AFP March 24, 2017

Havana (AFP) - Cuban President Raul Castro's son, Alejandro, was the
communist island's envoy for secret negotiations with the United States
that led to the countries' historic rapprochement, a cardinal close to
the talks said.

Speculation had long swirled that Alejandro Castro Espin, the
president's 51-year-old son, headed up the secret talks.

But the confirmation from Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the former archbishop
of Havana, is the most official namedrop to date -- and further boosts
the profile of Castro Espin, who is touted as a possible future
president of Cuba.

Castro Espin was "at the head of the Cuban delegation," Ortega said in a
speech to a conference in the United States that was published in the
latest issue of Cuban Catholic magazine Secular Space (Espacio Laical).

Ortega, who recently stepped down as head of the Cuban Church,
represented the Vatican at the talks, which Pope Francis played a key
part in brokering.

The US delegation was led by Ricardo Zuniga, a top adviser to then US
president Barack Obama.

The negotiations led to the announcement of a rapprochement in December
2014 after more than half a century of Cold War hostility.

Castro Espin, an army colonel, is an international relations expert.

The president's only son, he kept a low profile for years. But he was
present when his father and Obama held their first-ever talks in Panama
in April 2015.

Many observers now tip him to be a major player in the power transition
due next February, when Castro is due to step down.

Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 56, is seen as Castro's heir apparent.
But Castro Espin is increasingly viewed as a president-in-waiting.

Ortega also unveiled another mystery of the US-Cuba talks, saying the
date of the rapprochement announcement -- December 17 -- was chosen
because it is Pope Francis's birthday.

Source: Cuba's secret negotiator with US was president's son: cardinal -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cubas-secret-negotiator-us-presidents-son-cardinal-212705806.html Continue reading
"San Lazaro Has Been My Savior" / Cubanet

San Lázaro has been my savior. I've been through some very hard times
and only when I placed my faith in San Lázaro was I able to find my way.
Many people don't understand why I do this. I left school in ninth
grade, quite early, to work and help my mom. She earned very little
money. How was she going to raise my ailing brother and me, if the money
was never enough, not even for food?

They always called us 'poorly dressed', and to top it off we lived in a
house cramped with people. (…) Since 2007 I've been making my
pilgrimage. I remember the first time, I did the whole trip in
somersaults. My brother went with me. I swear that one was the most
exhausting trip. I passed through many villages, but I was told that was
how it was supposed to be, I had to prove my faith. And I did.

Once I got to El Rincón they took pictures of me, movies… I felt that
San Lázaro was with me. It was my first time at the Santuario del Rincón
[the church dedicated to San Lázaro in the village of El Rincón to the
south of Havna], and when I came in the door it was something amazing.
Seeing the photographers and the people shouting, giving me water, it
felt good. (…)

Today I'm alone, my brother feels better. I start my trajectory in
November and I go around the streets of Havana collecting alms. Everyone
stops, even the children. I see fear in their little faces, but one day
they will understand.

Translated by: Beverly James, Aliya Kreisberg, Aracelys Pichardo-Bonilla

Source: "San Lazaro Has Been My Savior" / Cubanet – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/san-lazaro-has-been-my-savior-cubanet/ Continue reading
As Cuba's economy flat-lines, retirement has become notional
Tiny pensions must be supplemented by whatever work is available
Mar 23rd 2017 | HAVANA

NORBERTO MESA, a 66-year-old grandfather, stands in the hot sun 11 hours
a day, six days a week, guiding cars in and out of the parking spaces in
front of a bustling farm stand. The 4,000 Cuban pesos ($170 at the
official exchange rate) he earns each month in tips is more than ten
times his monthly old-age pension of 340 pesos. Without it, the retired
animal geneticist could not afford fruit and meat, or help his children,
who work for low salaries, to feed his four grandchildren.

Though revolutionary Cuba had one of the region's earliest and most
comprehensive pension systems, in recent years retirement has almost
vanished. Without further economic reform, and the cheap oil that used
to come from Venezuela, the economy has stalled. Pensions have been
frozen, and their value eaten up by inflation. According to the most
recent government statistics, from 2010, a third of men past retirement
age are working. Three-fifths of older people say they often have to go
without necessities.

The insular socialist paradise supposedly offers a social safety-net,
cradle to grave. But it is full of holes. Medical care is free, but most
medicine is not. Retirement homes are scarce, and rules that mean
residents must give up their pensions and homes put off many, since
these are often a lifeline for younger relatives in equally distressed
circumstances.

So old people can be seen on the streets of Havana selling newspapers
and peanuts, or recycling cans. They are scrubbing floors in affluent
homes or cooking for a growing number of private restaurants and
bakeries. Ernesto Alpízar, an 89-year-old former agronomist, goes
door-to-door selling strawberries and flowers. Even so, he remains an
ardent "Fidelista", grateful to the island's late dictator for the free
cataract surgery that saved his eyesight.

For even as the island's old and infirm must hustle to survive, they
have benefited from its success at providing health care. Life
expectancy at birth is 79, not far short of most developed countries,
and widely available birth control helps explain why family size has
fallen further and faster than in most other countries (see chart). The
flip side, though, has been a breakneck demographic
transition—exacerbated by the large share of young and middle-aged
Cubans who have fled to America. Over-65s now make up 14% of the
population. The national statistical office estimates that the total
number of pensioners will overtake the number of state-sector workers by
2025.

A few churches and charities, mostly funded from abroad, are trying to
fill the gap. Rodolfo Juárez, a pastor of the International Community
Church, a Protestant congregation, helps 60 indigent elderly people in
Havana. His scheme provides fruit, vegetables and beans to supplement
government rations of a daily piece of bread; and 7lb of rice, 2lb of
sugar, five eggs and a piece of chicken a month. Although running it
costs just 18,000 pesos a month, funding is a constant problem.

Mr Juárez and his wife, at 80 and 75, are older than many of those they
help. Between their church duties and his teaching at a seminary, they
make 3,600 pesos a month. Though that does not go far, it dwarfs Mr
Juarez's pension. As long as Cuba's economy flat-lines, its elderly will
have no rest till they drop.

Source: Hustling, cradle to grave: As Cuba's economy flat-lines,
retirement has become notional | The Economist -
http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21719482-tiny-pensions-must-be-supplemented-whatever-work-available-cubas-economy-flat-lines Continue reading
San Lázaro has been my savior. I’ve been through some very hard times and only when I placed my faith in San Lázaro was I able to find my way. Many people don’t understand why I do this. I left school in ninth grade, quite early, to work and help my mom. She earned very little … Continue reading "“San Lazaro Has Been My Savior” / Cubanet" Continue reading
"The LGBT community in Cuba is going through a transition"
Daniel Abma, director of 'Transit Havana' says the regime is now
integrating gays into society
IÑAKI MAKAZAGA
Bilbao 20 MAR 2017 - 15:50 CET

"El colectivo LGTB de Cuba vive un momento de apertura y transición"
A meeting with a Belgian surgeon gave the Dutch documentary filmmaker
and human rights activist Daniel Abma the story he was looking for:
every year, Cuba invites this surgeon along with a Dutch colleague to
carry out sex reassignment surgery on five of the island's residents.
Between November 2013 and January 2015, Abma documented the lives of
three transsexuals hoping to be among the lucky five. Then, as relations
between the US and Cuba warmed, he was given a newsworthy peg on which
to hang his film.

"The regime has gone from persecuting homosexuality to using all its
propaganda machinery to promote integration," says Abma who has just
watched his documentary, Transit Havana, premiere at the LGTBI Zinegoak
2017 Film Festival in Bilbao. " But Cuban homosexuals still have to deal
with religious intolerance, poverty, discrimination and often prostitution."

Many Cuban transsexuals have no alternative than to turn to prostitution

Cuban-trained doctors do not possess the necessary know-how to perform
sex reassignment procedures, which is why the Cuban government seeks out
experts in Europe. Through him, Abma was able to get permission to
document the new transgender residents' program, headed by President
Raúl Castro's daughter, Mariela.

"Mariela Castro supported us in every way. There was no control over
what we filmed and it became clear that she is a sort of mother figure
for the community," says the director, who visited the island four times
over the course of two years.

Mariela Castro is a member of Cuba's National Assembly and Director of
the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), whose push for
integration is giving the community a great deal of positive exposure
while, at the same time, making socialism a priority – the program
financing the sex reassignment surgery has adopted as its slogan:
homophobia no, socialism yes.

But it wasn't all plain sailing for Abma's project. While he was offered
unprecedented access to certain aspects of life in Cuba, some of his
footage was thought to give the wrong image of the island. "Without
Mariela's support, it would have been impossible to move so easily
around the island but when the authorities saw the results, they wanted
several changes that we didn't make," says the director, who regrets
that Mariela Castro did not show up for the premiere.

The Cuban authorities wanted some cuts to the documentary, which were
refused

Along with Abma, the documentary's three protagonists, Odette, Malú and
Juani – three generations of different sexes facing different challenges
– were at the premiere in Bilbao. "At 64, Juani has a good life," says
Abma. "She was one of the first transsexual women and her new identity
as a man has not caused her problems."

This is not the case for Odette, who at the age of 38, has had to deal
with rejection from her family due to their religious beliefs, while
Malú, 28, was forced at times to turn to prostitution to make a living.
"Each of the three highlights the challenges that still face
transsexuals: religious prejudice, the lack of job opportunities and
social stigma," says Abma.

The director adds that Cubans are aware discrimination is wrong and
that, in the spirit of the revolution, they accept in theory that all
people are equal. But in practice traditional attitudes, combined with
Catholic convictions, mean that prejudice is widespread.

"The Church is a big problem for Odette," says Abma. "Her mother insists
that she can't be transsexual because it goes against Creation. Malú's
fight for transsexual rights has become her life and made her the leader
of the TransCuba Association. The older generation has reservations
about the country opening up, and finds it hard to understand
transsexuals. The young people are pushing for change and see the
community as normal."

The making of Transit Havana also prompted Abma to consider issues such
as how countries can implement radical change and how the most
traditional governments can turn their propaganda tools to good use. "In
Cuba, tradition exists side-by-side quite comfortably with movements
keen to open up," says Abma. "And it's Mariela Castro who is promoting
integration within the National Assembly. It's a shift that fills the
LGBTI community in many Eastern European countries with hope.
Communities can take strength from my documentary and governments can
reinforce their campaigns."

In Georgia, a transsexual was murdered on the street just days after
Transit Havana was released. But as he embarks on his next project,
these kinds of brutal responses only make the director more determined
to use cinema as a platform to bring about change and equality.

English version by Heather Galloway.

Source: Gender issues in Cuba: "The LGBT community in Cuba is going
through a transition" | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/03/20/inenglish/1490015070_027498.html Continue reading
… , and two residents from Bolondron, Cuba, who enjoyed trying out skateboarding … another Christian church in a Cuban city not much larger than … , about 90 minutes southeast of Havana, were pressured to be more … and happy,” Lewis said of Cubans. During the weeklong visit, Steamboat … Continue reading
Do You Want to be Free? / 14ymedio, Jose Azel

In memory of Oswaldo Payá
Video:
https://youtu.be/TB0m5Euv1Ag

14ymedio, Jose Azel, Miami, 9 March 2017 – We take as a given that all
people aspire to be free, but the idea of ​​individual freedoms is not
universally accepted.

Defenders of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes argue that a
dictatorial approach to government is moral, just, and necessary. Some
preach that a developing nation needs a strong man to effectively
promote economic growth without the complications of democracy.

Others feel that an authoritarian government is necessary to ensure law
and order. Others prefer monarchies and other hereditary forms of
government to protect the traditions and customs of their people. Others
believe that their church and government are one and the same, and that
their religious beliefs are about selfish desires for freedom. Marxists
sacrifice individual freedoms on the altar of collectivism.

If that is their decision, those believers in the permanent dominion of
a single party should be free not to be free, preferably on another
planet. But this implies the question of how a society should decide its
form of government. The dictatorial response is to remain in power
indefinitely, as we can see in totalitarian states such as North Korea
and Cuba. The democratic response is to hold free, fair, competitive,
multiparty and frequent elections.

That is why the Cuba Decide plebiscite project, headed by Rosa Maria
Payá Acevedo, seems to me to be a refreshing proposal after nearly six
decades of Castro rule in Cuba. Rosa María is the young and eloquent
daughter of the late democratic activist Oswaldo Payá, winner of the
prestigious European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for the Freedom of
Thought. Rosa María, as president of the Latin American Youth for
Democracy Network, continues her father's work to promote democracy on
the tragic island.

The Cuban Decide initiative proposes that voters respond with a simple
"Yes" or "No," to a basic but transcendental question:

Do you agree with free, fair and plural elections, exercising freedom of
expression and of the press; and organizing freely in political parties
and social organizations with total plurality? Yes or No?

It would be naive to expect the Castro regime to accept such a
plebiscite. But, at the very least, promoting the plebiscite provides a
strategic tool to stimulate in Cuba and in international forums a
solidly focused political debate and public dialogue. The plebiscite
focuses attention on the fact that deciding how to be governed is the
prerogative of the people, and no one else.

Few would reject the central postulate of the plebiscite that Cubans
should be free to decide their future. Even sympathizers of the Castro
regime would find it ideologically difficult to refuse to ask such a
simple question to the Cuban people.

The only intellectually honest way to oppose a plebiscite that empowers
the people in this way would be to argue that the people have nothing to
say about their future, and that dictatorships are the preferable forms
of government. Not many international leaders would be willing to
publicly proclaim that preference.

The Cuba Decide Plebiscite is not a political platform, but rather a
tool to begin the change that would be justified if the Cuban people
decide, by a "Yes" vote, and that offers the possibility of
alternatives. The "No" vote would legitimize the one-party permanent
mandate. To some extent the idea of ​​the plebiscite offers the
leadership of Raúl Castro's successors an elegant and accepted way of
changing course or, alternatively, legitimizing one-party rule. In
post-Castro Cuba, the initiative of the Cuba Decide plebiscite promoted
by young people can become a key component of a legitimate transition.

Freedom has consequences, not all of them useful, but it is immoral to
deprive the people of their liberties, as dictators do. Our rational
approach is our basic way of living. If we cannot act according to our
free opinions we can not live fully as human beings. And we need freedom
to act according to our reasons.

After decades of living without freedom under a totalitarian government,
the Cuba Decide Plebiscite is an initiative promoted by citizens
presenting to the Cuban people a question with rational criteria: Do you
want to be free? "Yes or No." Who could oppose such a question? The
answer should enlighten us all.

____________

Editor's Note: José Azel is a senior researcher at the Institute of
Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami and author
of the book Mañana in Cuba.

Source: Do You Want to be Free? / 14ymedio, Jose Azel – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/do-you-want-to-be-free-14ymedio-jose-azel/ Continue reading
Dancers who defected from Cuba are building new dreams in Syracuse
mgreenlar@syracuse.com
Michael Greenlar | mgreenlar@syracuse.com

on March 09, 2017 at 1:54 PM, updated March 09, 2017 at 2:11 PM
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Alejandro Cobus would leave his apartment in Syracuse
for his ballet class three hours early. He'd walk nearly six miles in
the snow and cold in sneakers. Then he'd warm up, dance for the next
three hours, and walk the same route home in the dark.

He never complained.

"We had no idea," Kathleen Rathbun said. Rathbun is the artistic
director of the Syracuse City Ballet and its school, Ballet & Dance of
Upstate NY. When they found out, the parents of other dancers and
Rathbun began giving Cobus rides.

Until December, Cobus and Jose Carlos Pino were dancers with the elite
national ballet company of Cuba, Ballet de Camaguey. The men, 20, began
their careers at the age of 8 in Cuba. The government program in the
communist country chooses the dancers. They leave their families for school.

"This is your career," Cobus said through an interpreter.

Getting into the program, and staying in, is a tremendous
accomplishment. Cuba, like Russia, trains some of the best ballet
dancers in the world. Now, fate and circumstance have dropped the two
young men in Syracuse where they are dancing with the Syracuse City
Ballet in its production of Snow White.

In Cuba, Cobus and Pino found little opportunity and meager pay. Dancers
were given a place to live and paid $10 a month, they said. They were
given small rations of meat and rice, they said, but it was not nearly
enough to fuel their constant movement. Both men said they often went
hungry.

Beyond those practical struggles, they saw, stretched before them, a
world of little opportunity. There are only a few good roles for men in
the company. And that company was the only company available to them in
a world where the government controls every choice.

In December, when the company was touring in Mexico, the two men walked
away from everything they knew. They defected from Cuba, crossing the
border into Texas, legally, as political refugees.

They left behind their families. The mothers of both young men are
school teachers who make about $20 a month. The pay is so meager that in
all of their years of dancing, neither man's mother has seen him on stage.

The road to Syracuse for both men has been accidental in the way fate
sometimes seems. At first, Pino and Cobus split up. Pino had relatives
in Houston, so he stayed there for a while. Cobus had no one and no money.

Cobus got a job driving a van until he saved up enough money to make it
to Miami. When he was in Miami, Cobus said, he found help at a church.
There, someone made a connection for him with InterFaith Works in
Syracuse, which brought him to Syracuse and helped him find an
apartment. They also helped him find the ballet and are continuing to
help him learn English.

On the surface, Syracuse seems like a place that couldn't be farther
from Cobus' tropical home. But when he found a place to dance, he found
a new home. Ballet, after all, is the same in every tongue. And he found
warmth, family even, in Rathbun and her ballet company.

Cobus called Pino to tell him he found a place where they could both
live and dance.

Pino arrived two weeks ago. He and Cobus are sharing the small apartment
in Syracuse. They are friends, but more like "hermanos," brothers. And
opposite in so many ways.

Cobus leans forward as they talk, pointing and unpointing his toes. The
men are paid a little by the ballet, but they need other work, Cobus
says. He tries to think what he could do with his meager English -
cleaning during the day maybe, so he can dance at night?

Pino leans back in his chair, he legs outstretched. He smiles and tells
Cobus he worries too much. All will be fine.

They bicker, in a friendly way. Cobus gets up too early, Pino says.
Cobus says Pino sleeps too late.

Rathbun smiles at them and laughs before their words are even
translated. She calls them, "the boys." She and dance moms from the
school have clothed them, driven them. A dance mom, Erica Stark,
translates for them. As they talk before rehearsal, another mother
brings sandwiches for them.

When asked what their ultimate goal is, Rathbun already knows the answer
for Cobus: Basilio in Don Quixote.

"He is always doing it in the studio," Rathbun says. The role is full of
dramatic leaps, including a spiraling, dangerous one that Cobus adds.
(That makes Rathbun grimace because she worries he'll fall).

Pino would be Albrecht in Giselle, he says.

While dance was chosen for them, neither man would change his life path.
They live to dance.

In a back room studio at the Civic Center, where the ballet is doing its
dress rehearsal for Snow White, Cobus and Pino take turns running
through leaps and twists across the floor. It is a friendly show of
one-upping. One man runs and leaps, the other take a cell phone video.
Then they switch.

Cobus does that spiraling leap that makes Rathbun nervous. The first
time, he falters and puts him hand down. The second time, he nails it.

Here, though they have so little, their dreams seem closer. Even this
one: Perhaps one day their mothers, who gave them to the ballet when
they were still little boys, will see them fill the stage with leaps so
large it seems like there must be a tiny bit of magic somewhere.

"Algun dia," they both say. And smile.

Some day.

Marnie Eisenstadt writes about people, life and culture in Central New York.

Source: Dancers who defected from Cuba are building new dreams in
Syracuse | syracuse.com -
http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/cuban_dancers_who_walked_away_from_their_country_are_now_building_new_dreams_in.html Continue reading
American cruise travelers bump into Cuba's rules
BY DAVID G. MOLYNEAUX
TheTravelMavens.com

ISLA DE LA JUVENTUD, CUBA
After a calm winter's night at anchor on Cuba's remote Siguanea Bay, 34
American travelers on the 150-foot motor-sailor Panorama II awakened
before dawn and collected their snorkeling gear, prepared for a ride on
a local boat to the southwest corner of Isla de la Juventud (formerly
Isle of Pines).

But on this day, the schedule, which had been arranged with and approved
by top tourism officials in Havana, was not to be.

Communication about changing procedures is not an attribute of central
government in Cuba, a country known for breakdowns in plans and
mechanics and disincentives for individual decision-making. Military
guards in charge of the island docks had received no written
instructions from Havana (though an approving word would filter down for
Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic trips in weeks that followed).

So, no local boat would be coming to tender us from our ship to shore as
the sun began to rise. Ever resourceful, expedition guides attempted
alternative transportation, rolling out zodiacs that belonged to our
chartered Greek vessel. Alas, Panorama II's captain called off our
morning journey to a white sandy beach for swimming and snorkeling at
Punta Frances Marine National Park. Instead, we would cruise directly to
Cienfuegos, our last city on the 11-day Cuba expedition.

During the course of the cruise, our schedule changed almost daily from
our printed itinerary.

The previous day on Juventud, we had reached shore without a hitch. We
toured Presidio Modelo, where Fidel Castro and fellow revolutionaries
were imprisoned in 1953 through 1955. We then made a delightful visit to
Nueva Gerona's Escuela de Arte Leonardo Luberta, a music school for
gifted children.

We walked El Búlevar, a pedestrian-only boulevard where city residents
turned out to watch us watch a terrific show. The show featured models
dressed in minimalist pirate's clothing made of newspapers, and two
local bands, one playing for a presentation by children of a folkloric
dance, a second performing music of the Santeria Church as dancers
representing the orishas, Yemayá and Eleggua, swirled.

"After such an inspiring day among the creativity, talent and spirit of
the local people, and after seeing the benefits from so many of the
government institutions like art schools and hospitals, today we faced
our share of difficulties," said Tom O'Brien, our expedition leader, as
we motor-sailed east to Cienfuegos (toasting with a spontaneous round of
Bloody Marys).

Earlier in the week we had been turned away from two seaside sites,
including famed Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park,
the attraction that had drawn some of the passengers to book this
voyage. Now we had been outmaneuvered by the Cuban military, although
they did it politely and respectfully.

O'Brien applauded passengers for their patience, flexibility, open minds
and "surprisingly high spirits."

Why not? While snorkeling and swimming were out — in fact, we never
dipped our bodies into the water during the entire week at sea — we
remained a satisfied lot of travelers, sailing in and around ports on
the southwestern coast of Cuba, which largely has been closed to
Americans since the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

Fifty-five years later, we had floated up to the infamous Bay of Pigs
and calmly walked ashore to visit a museum in Playa Girón for Cuba's
version of the failed invasion. We began the morning at daybreak for a
woodsy birdwatching walk that did not yield a Cuban green woodpecker but
did lead us to exciting views of a dozen indigenous species, including
the Cuban pygmy-owl and the bee hummingbird, smallest bird in the world
at 2 ½ inches.

The Lindblad/National Geographic expedition to Cuba — three nights in
Havana at the venerable, outdated Nacional Hotel and seven nights
cruising on the cozy Panorama II — was described as a people-to-people
tour, as spelled out in a contract with the Cuban government. That's
what we did — meeting, listening to and/or watching talented Cubans
speak, entertain and show off their homes, businesses and creations in
Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Nueva Gerona. Even our free time one
morning at the 60-block Havana cemetery, Cementerio Colón, seemed to
qualify as a people-to-people visit.

In Havana, the Habana Compás dance troupe drummed and danced to blends
of the rhythms of Cuba. In a private rooftop performance, Grammy-winning
Septeto Nacional, founded in 1927 and now in its fourth generation,
played Cuban music with special guest singers that included Pedro
Godinez, 90. We rode in classic American cars from the 1950s; toured
Ernest Hemingway's former home, Finca Vigía; and met with artists and
young journalists (at OnCubaMagazine.com, which is published in the
United States).

In Cienfuegos, the Cantores de Cienfuegos choir sang religious and
classical Cuban songs. In a specially arranged musical program, children
performed "Cucarachita Martina" at a harborside pavilion.

We ate well, and viewed even better at seaside rooftop restaurants and
in historic homes where Cubans are expanding their businesses and
presentations for an anticipated rise in visitors.

Havana, said guidebook author and lecturer Christopher Baker, is in the
midst of a gastro-revolution thanks to the creativity of cuentapropistas
(private entrepreneurs). Cuban food was tasty, although without much in
the way of fresh vegetables. On Panorama II, meals were more creative
than those on land, all of which were well-prepared combinations of rice
and either meat or fish.

Twice when we arrived at Cuban ports, passengers and guides lined up to
have their temperatures taken by a local nurse. That was a first for me.
In Cuba, at least on the southwestern coast, the government doesn't want
travelers bringing any germs ashore.

Travelers on this expedition unanimously reported a positive feeling
about the island and their many contacts with its residents. American
travel guides who have spent time in Cuba call it a country of
scarcities when speaking of material goods but with no scarcity of
enthusiasm and confidence among the people. That was an accurate
portrayal of the Cuban folks we met, both the people we were guided
toward and those we met casually on the streets.

By its nature, expedition cruising is significantly more adventurous
than relaxing. Such a cruise draws a special breed of travelers who are
flexible and patient about outcomes. Although Lindblad/National
Geographic expeditions are well guided by experts of the land, nature
and photography, travelers do not know for certain what expectations
will be realized, and when. That is part of the fun.

New expeditions, such as cruising the southwestern coast of Cuba,
require an additional degree of open-mindedness, anticipating a surprise
every day.

▪ Eleven-day cruises of Cuba on Panorama II start at $9,500 per person
double occupancy and are available through March, then again in December
through March 2018. Information: 800-397-3348 or expeditions.com.

David Molyneaux writes monthly about cruising. He is editor of
TheTravelMavens.com

Source: Adjusting to Cuba's rules on a Lindblad cruise of the island |
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article137421348.html Continue reading
In memory of Oswaldo Payá 14ymedio, Jose Azel, Miami, 9 March 2017 – We take as a given that all people aspire to be free, but the idea of ​​individual freedoms is not universally accepted. Defenders of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes argue that a dictatorial approach to government is moral, just, and necessary. Some preach that … Continue reading "Do You Want to be Free? / 14ymedio, Jose Azel" Continue reading
Cuba: 50 Ladies in White Arrested After Communist Mob Stones HQ
Kyodo via AP Images
by FRANCES MARTEL 6 Mar 2017

The Cuban anti-Communist group Ladies in White reports at least 50 of
its members were arrested this weekend following a mob attack on their
headquarters in Havana, in which the dissidents were forced to hide as
the mob hurled large stones into the building.
"They called us mercenaries, paid for by the Empire [the United States],
told us to get on a raft and go," Ladies in White member María Cristina
Labrada told the Spain-based publication Diario de Cuba.

"They shouted obscenities at us, called us whores, lesbians, told us to
come out so they could beat us." Labrada added that the group, which she
estimated to be about 200 people, ran to the other side of the building
in which they typically congregate on Sundays to avoid coming "under
fire with stones… they threw large rocks, we had to cover up the TV and
get away."

Ultimately, the women needed to leave the building. Labrada says the mob
beat those who left, ensuring to cover up any cell phone cameras that
could capture the attack.

The government reportedly organized the mob at a nearby park under the
guise of an International Women's Day celebration. "I think the goal was
to organize people at that activity and bring them here," Labrada said
from the Ladies in White headquarters.

Miami's Martí Noticias cited a different Lady in White, Denia Fernández,
who confirmed the event as an attempt to keep the Ladies from attending
Catholic Mass on Sundays. The group, founded during the Black Spring of
2003, began as a support group for the wives, daughters, sisters, and
mothers of political prisoners. The Ladies in White attend Catholic Mass
every Sunday carrying the portraits of their relatives who remain
imprisoned for opposing Communism. The government often intervenes to
prevent them from attending Mass, even during holiday seasons like Lent.

Violence against the Ladies in White is common in Cuba. In an incident
in December, for example, Lady in White Ivonne Lemus lost consciousness
after a Cuban state police officer repeatedly slammed her head on the
pavement while arresting her. During high-profile visits like those of
Pope Francis and former U.S. President Barack Obama, police beat and
temporarily detained Ladies in White members to prevent them from
attending welcome event for the prominent individuals. The women would
be beaten and driven hours away from their homes, abandoned with no way
of returning to their families.

During Pope Francis's visit in 2015, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler
recalled: "They grabbed me by the hair, by the neck, and shoved my
violently into a car."

That same year, a Communist mob attacked Lady in White Digna Rodríguez
Ibañez and doused her in tar as a form of humiliation.

While President Obama claimed that opening the United States up for
further interaction with the dictatorship of Raúl Castro would help the
Cuban people, extreme repression of dissidents has continued, and
worsened, since his "normalization" announcement in December 2014. The
Cuban Observatory for Human Rights documented 484
arbitrary/politically-motivated arrests in February 2017 alone. Largely
driven by Ladies in White activity, 77 percent of those arrested were women.

The 2016 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report on Cuba found
multiple incidents of police torture of dissidents, including an
incident in March 2016 in which "police officers allegedly beat two
members of the Damas de Blanco with cables" and multiple reports of
"head injuries, bites, bruises, and other injuries during
government-sponsored counter protests and detentions."

Source: Cuba: 50 Ladies in White Arrested After Communist Mob Stoning -
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/03/06/cuba-communist-mob-stones-ladies-white-way-church/ Continue reading
Growing Old in Cuba: Luck or Misfortune? / Cubanet, Ana Leon

Cubanet, Ana Leon, Havana, 3 March 2017 – Jose Vargas is 85 years old
and a retired musician. He lives alone in a room in a tenement in Old
Havana, depending on a monthly check of 240 Cuban pesos (eight dollars
U.S.) and whatever help his neighbors can offer.

For two years this old man has waited for cataract surgery in both eyes.
He was "given the run around" without the least consideration at the
League Against Blindness; at Dependent Hospital, the operating room
ceiling collapsed, causing the indefinite postponement of the surgery;
and at Calixto Garcia Hospital there were no doctors available.

In spite of Vargas' ordeal, the official press speaks with pride of the
aging population that today comprises 18% of the Cuban population. It
argues that this longevity is an achievement of the socialist system and
optimistically describes it as a "challenge" for the near future. But at
the current juncture, the free health benefits that the Island's high
officials preach so much about in front of international agencies are
not perceived. How can you plan to confront the "challenge" if a
helpless old man has to wait two years for a cataract operation?

Disabled by partial blindness and diabetes, Vargas began to experience
hunger. He suffered hypoglycemia more than once from not eating for long
hours. Rosa, 68 years old, is the only neighbor who, in accordance with
her means, has dealt with feeding him and washing his clothes. "It hurt
me to see him so dirty and hungry (…) I have seen him eating things that
are not good for an old diabetic," the lady told CubaNet.

Nevertheless, Rosa could not take on that responsibility for long given
that she herself is retired and has health problems; so she tried to
seek help.

Trusting in Christian charity, she went to the New Pines Evangelical
Church – very near the tenement where Vargas lives – which distributes
food daily for some elderly loners. But what a surprise when a woman
responded to her, without the least sign of compassion: "That is not our
problem. Go see the delegate [to the local People's Power], the Party
and the Government."

Rosa explained Vargas' case to Old Havana's Municipal Government and
sought a food quota and social worker services from the Family Attention
Centers. Reluctantly, they gave her written authorization that would
permit Vargas to carry home, twice a day, a bowl with rice, peas,
scrambled eggs and jam; all poorly made and without the necessary
caloric content.

As if that were not enough, Vargas had to walk a kilometer a day or pay
30 Cuban pesos (a fifth of his pension) for a bicycle-taxi in order to
collect the food. The social worker who should have taken care of this
task never showed up.

Behind the suffering of a forsaken old man there is so much
administrative corruption and human sordidness that right now the
prospect of growing old in Cuba is terrifying. The State does not have
the institutions or the specialists equipped to confront the wave of
aging that is approaching. The old age shelters – with a couple of
exceptions – are worse and do not accept old people with dementia,
advanced Alzheimer's or any other illness that requires care around the
clock.

At the beginning of the century Fidel Castro dedicated many resources to
graduating thousands of social workers who only served to squander
public funds in that crazy "Summer on Wheels" campaign, where the same
young people charged with regulating fuel consumption in order to
protect State property wound up stealing it. The government spent
millions of pesos, awarded college degrees to a gang of delinquents and
today cannot even harvest the humanitarian benefit of the investment
planned on the basis of political volunteerism and a lack of common sense.

In Cuba today there are not enough social workers, geriatric
specialists, adequate food or medicines. Many unfortunate old people
live in dwellings that are in a deplorable state. Vargas himself is in
constant risk of slipping on the mold caused by leaks in the tenement's
cistern; or being killed by a piece of loose brick from the eaves and
balconies of the building whose century-old structure is in an advanced
state of deterioration.

In the face of official indifference, people who don't have a place to
live enter "the mansion" in an old folks' home, to be "cared" for in
exchange for staying with the living instead of the dead. While death
approaches, who complains of mistreatment? Who can say if the old person
accepts his new situation or is feeling threatened?

A country that does not concern itself with old adults leaves them to
the mercy of bad people. That is the future that awaits Cuba, given that
the State wants to subsidize everything, and it is not possible.
Families have fragmented because of the exiles, and not even the Church
can be counted on. It is no wonder that the number of suicides by
elderly people has increased, although the government hides the statistics.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: Growing Old in Cuba: Luck or Misfortune? / Cubanet, Ana Leon –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/growing-old-in-cuba-luck-or-misfortune-cubanet-ana-leon/ Continue reading
Cubanet, Ana Leon, Havana, 3 March 2017 – Jose Vargas is 85 years old and a retired musician. He lives alone in a room in a tenement in Old Havana, depending on a monthly check of 240 Cuban pesos (eight dollars U.S.) and whatever help his neighbors can offer. For two years this old man … Continue reading "Growing Old in Cuba: Luck or Misfortune? / Cubanet, Ana Leon" Continue reading

La iglesia First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York (FPCNYC) presenta "Cuban State of Mind", una serie de eventos que forman parte de su programa Art at First, y que en esta ocasión pretenden celebrar "la rica tradición del arte y la cultura cubana", según indica la nota de prensa.

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Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban
exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans
after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers
to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to Manuel de la
Peña, Carlos Acosta, Armando Alejandre and Pablo Morales, at the
monument in Opa-locka that reminds them of the 21st anniversary of the
tragedy.

"Every year when we remember them, we feel immense pain," says Ana
Ciereszko, sister of Armando Alejandre, one of those murdered.

"When President Obama returned the spy responsible for the murder of our
relatives it was very hard because they gave their lives to save the
lives of others, Cuban rafters, many of whom have disappeared at sea,"
she added.

Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also recalled those
killed and lashed out at the Obama administration for the release of spy
Gerardo Hernandez, convicted of providing information to the Cuban
government that allowed the perpetration of the crime.

"Our nation must defend these murdered Americans and ensure that justice
prevails so that the families of these victims can have the final peace
they so deeply deserve," said the congresswoman.

Brothers to the Rescue emerged as an initiative of civilian aviators of
various nationalities and Cubans interested in assisting the rafters who
escaped from the island in fragile vessels during the migratory crisis
in the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the greatest
economic crisis in the country's history and thousands of migrants threw
themselves into the sea in the hope of reaching the United States.

The two Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft, from Miami, were shot down with
air-to-air missiles by a MiG-29UB 900 fighter and a MiG-23 fighter. A
third plane escaped and called for help from the US authorities, who
never gave it to them.

The Cuban government accused the organization of having "terrorist
purposes" and defended the demolition of light aircraft on the grounds
that they were over Cuban waters. Brothers to the Rescue, however, says
that the shooting down took place in international waters.

"There has been no justice because there was no clarification of the
truth. The facts were carefully hidden under the presidencies of Clinton
and Castro," says Jose Basulto, 76, president of Brothers to the Rescue
and one of the survivors of the tragedy.

"It was a joint action, complicit, because they wanted to resume
relations between both countries," he says. He adds that on the Island
there practice runs for shooting down the planes and that it was
suggested to American officials what was going to happen. "We were
exposed to the enemy fire and nobody helped us," he adds.

According to Basulto, the days before each commemoration of the
demolition are filled with memories and are "very sad."

"Brothers to the Rescue was an example of human solidarity with the
people of Cuba and to teach the world the harshness of the suffering of
the people, capable of committing suicide at sea in order to escape from
that dictatorship," he recalls.

At Florida International University (FIU) a commemorative event was held
with relatives of the victims and a broad representation of the
exile. The meeting has become a tradition to remember the four
Cuban-American youth and, as every year, silence was held between 3:21
pm and 3:28 pm, the time at which the planes were shot down.

"My brother was my first baby. He was just a boy when he was killed,"
says Mirtha Costa, sister of Carlos Alberto Costa.

"He loved being together with everyone in the family. He was also a very
cheerful person and always looked for how to make jokes to others," he
recalls.

Both Costa and the other relatives are responsible for the CAMP
Foundation, named after the initials of each of the victims of the
shooting down.

The foundation supports diverse organizations that promote youth
education, such as Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.

The families of the victims will honor their memory with a Eucharist at
St. Agatha Church at 7:00 pm this Friday.

Video:
https://youtu.be/j8bD4F_J7W8

Source: Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/brothers-to-the-rescue-a-crime-that-hurts-like-the-first-day-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996. The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to … Continue reading "Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”/ 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
Appeasement Never Works
by GEORGE WEIGEL February 25, 2017 4:00 AM

And it's making matters worse in Cuba.
At first blush, Luis Almagro would seem an unlikely candidate for the
disfavor of the current Cuban regime. A man of the political Left, he
took office as the tenth secretary general of the Organization of
American States in 2015, vowing to use his term of office to reduce
inequality throughout the hemisphere. Yet Secretary General Almagro was
recently denied a visa to enter Cuba. Why? Because he had been invited
to accept an award named in honor of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo
Payá, who died in 2012 in an "automobile accident" that virtually
everyone not on the payroll of the Castro regime's security services
regards to this day as an act of state-sanctioned murder. Payá's "crime"
was to organize the Varela Project, a public campaign for basic civil
liberties and free elections on the island prison, and he paid for it
with his life.

The regime's refusal of a visa for the head of the OAS caused a brief
flurry of comment in those shrinking parts of the commentariat that
still pay attention to Cuba, now that Cuban relations with the United
States have been more or less "normalized." But there was another facet
of this nasty little episode that deserves further attention: While
Almagro's entry into Cuba was being blocked, a U.S. congressional
delegation was on the island and, insofar as is known, did nothing to
protest the Cuban government's punitive action against the secretary
general of the OAS.

According to a release from the office of Representative Jim McGovern
(D., Mass.), the CoDel, which also included Senators Patrick Leahy (D.,
Vt.), Thad Cochran (R., Miss.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Tom
Udall (D.,N.M.), and Representative Seth Moulton (D.,Mass.), intended to
"continue the progress begun by President Obama to bring U.S.–Cuba
relations into the 21st Century and explore new opportunities to promote
U.S. economic development with Cuba," including "economic opportunities
for American companies in the agriculture and health sectors." I've no
idea whether those economic goals were advanced by this junket. What was
certainly not advanced by the CoDel's public silence on the Almagro
Affair while they were in the country was the cause of a free Cuba.

There were and continue to be legitimate arguments on both sides of the
question of whether the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba should be lifted.
And those pushing for a full recission of the embargo are not simply
conscience-lite men and women with dollar signs in their eyes. They
include pro-democracy people who sincerely believe that flooding the
zone in Cuba with American products, American technology, and American
culture will so undermine the Castro regime that a process of
self-liberation will necessarily follow. That this seems not to have
been the case with China is a powerful counterargument. Meanwhile, my
own decidedly minority view — that the embargo should have been
gradually rolled back over the past decade and a half in exchange for
specific, concrete, and irreversible improvements in human rights and
the rule of law, leading to real political pluralization in Cuba — seems
to have fallen completely through the floorboards of the debate.

But as pressures to "normalize" U.S.–Cuba relations across the board
increase, there ought to be broad, bipartisan agreement that Cuban
repression, which has in fact intensified since the Obama initiative two
years ago, should have its costs. If, as Congressman McGovern averred,
he and others want to move Cuba–America relations into the 21st century,
then let him and others who share that goal agree that Cuba should be
treated like any other country: meaning that when it does bad things, it
gets hammered by criticism and pressures are brought to bear to induce
or compel better behavior in the future.

"Opening up" without pressure has never worked with Communist regimes.
It didn't work when the Vatican tried it in east-central Europe in the
1970s; the Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI made matters worse for the
Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It didn't work vis-à-vis
the Soviet Union in the years of détente, which coincided with some of
the worst Soviet assaults on human-rights activists. It hasn't worked
with China, where, as in Cuba, repression has increased in recent years.

To will the end — a 21st-century Cuba where the government behaves in a
civilized fashion and economic opportunity is available to all Cubans,
not just those favored by the regime — necessarily involves, at least
for morally and politically serious people, willing the means: which
must include holding the current Cuban regime to account when "opening
up" does not extend to basic civil liberties for the Cuban people, and
when "opening up" does not include a decent respect for the hemispheric
proprieties, such that the head of the OAS is summarily refused entry
into Cuba.

That the Almagro Affair had to do with an award named for Oswaldo Payá,
a true martyr in the cause of freedom who was inspired by Christian
Democratic convictions, suggests that the Castro regime and those who
wish to inherit its power are nervous. Authoritarians confident of their
position would not have reacted so stupidly to an award being given to a
left-leaning, Spanish-speaking, Latin American politician — unless, that
is, they were afraid that the memory of Oswaldo Payá would be rekindled
in the ceremony in which Almagro received the Payá Award. All the more
reason, then, for congressional delegations and others to end the
Neville Chamberlain routine, stop appeasing the Castro regime, and start
taking steps to ensure that what Congressman McGovern called "the
progress begun by President Obama" is, in fact, progress in Cuba — and
not just economic progress, but progress in human rights and the rule of
law.

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics
and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in
Catholic Studies.

Source: Luis Almagro -- Cuba Blocks Visa for Oswaldo Paya Award |
National Review -
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445238/luis-almagro-cuba-blocks-visa-oswaldo-paya-award-organization-american-states Continue reading
Canary Islanders in Cuba, Islanders Two Ways / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mara
and Daniel Delisau

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata and Daniel Delisau, Havana/Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria, 20 February 2017 — The players arrange their dominoes on the
table. Outside, the sun still floods the wide entryway on Monserrate
Street in Old Havana and time seems to have stopped. The scene occurs
at the Canary Island Association of Cuba, a community that languishes
between nostalgia and lack of resources.

People from the Canary Island migrated to Cuba for decades. In 1862
there were 48,192 Canary Islanders in Cuba, 41.5% of the total Spaniards
in the country. The flow continued, with highs and lows, and between
1898 and 1932, another 70,000 Canary Islanders arrived.

The descendants of those travelers maintain some of their customs and
gather at the Association that bears the name of Jose Marti's mother,
Leonor Perez.

In the main building, there's a cultural folk night every Thursday, with
typical dances and songs although the average age of the regulars is
over 60 and the younger ones rarely come, says an employee of the place.
"They are older people, most of them with economic needs," she explains
to 14ymedio. "They need food and basic products like vitamins,
disposable diapers, bedsore creams, wheelchairs or walkers. But we are
less and less able to help them, because they've cut off a lot of the
aid to us," she adds.

"When they are helpless we have to send them to the Church, because this
Association is going through a bad time. We can barely help them and we
also have to prepare the activities we hold here," she confessed. "This
building consumes a tremendous amount of resources and keeping the doors
open every day is a heroic task."

Upstairs, sales of food and drink try to raise some cash. Coffee, soft
drinks, chicken and garbanzo Milanese, says the menu board. But the food
service isn't enough to stop the institution's decline. A deterioration
hardly noticeable to the newcomer, dazzled by the majesty of the
interior and the recently painted façade.

The Association has around 47,000 members throughout the country, and
those who are able pay 12 Cuban pesos a month in dues. This money is
barely enough to run the building, a few yards from the most luxurious
hotels in Havana's historic center, nor to maintain the association's 14
houses across the country.

In mid-2014, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government of
the Canary Islands sent three grants worth 16,000, 9,000 and 6,000 euros
for the Association, intended for a day care center for the elderly, the
purchase of medications, and repairs and improvements to the Guines
headquarters. But the resources were quickly depleted due to high
demand, according to internal sources.

The president of the Association, Carmelo Gonzalez Acosta, traveled to
the Canaries this January to remind its public administration of the
need to maintain the aid and interviewed the Deputy Minister of Foreign
Action, Pedro Rodríguez Zaragoza, with a view to "recovering the support
of the Community Administration toward those who have Canary Island
blood in their veins," reported local media.

The Cuban authorities also asked the Canary Island government to help
them by sending a stone mill to supply Canary descendants with gofio
(flour made from roasted grains), the Cuban consul in the Canary
Islands, Ulises Barquin, explained recently in an interview.

The official explained that the gofio disappeared "at the end of the
1980s with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which was the main
supplier of wheat," but now they want to restart the production because
"it goes far beyond the food aspect… it has an enormous symbolic value."

The mill sounds like a distant promise to those who spend their hours in
the spacious facility in Monserrate Street. "Before, you could come here
and eat very cheaply, but we've lost a lot of options," complains an old
man. "Now they don't sell custard and rice pudding for us, which I can't
eat any more because my sugar is through the roof."

Paco, a Cuban son of the Canaries, feels grateful for being able to
count on a place to "meet friends and have a good time." His two sons
emigrated to get Spanish nationality and now the old man waits to "have
a place in the Canary Island vault in Havana's Columbus Cemetery,"
because his family "doesn't have a proper tomb."

A woman walks through the wide gate and asks the receptionist if there
will be a feast for Easter. Her name is María Antonia Hernández, she is
56 years old and she is the granddaughter of a Canary Islander who came
to the Island at the beginning of the 20th century. "He came looking for
a better life and ended up owning a bodega in San Antonio de los Baños,"
says the woman. "A short time later he married a woman from Pinar del
Rio and they had eight children."

Roberto Domínguez, author of the book Ariguanabo: History, Music and
Poetry, says that "the behavior, the character and the way of being of
Cubans is very linked to the Canary Islands." He calculates that at
present in Cuba "there are at least 650,000 Canary Islanders of their
descendants.

When she was a child and was annoyed by something, Maria Antonia
Hernandez's mother repeated with a sneer that she was acting like an
"islander" like her grandfather. Although Cuba is also subject to "the
damn circumstances of water everywhere," according to the poet and
playwright Virgilio Pinera, Cubans rarely self-define as islanders. In
the popular language "islander" is reserved for those from the Canary
Islands.

"We are the few who called them by their place of origin, because the
rest of the Spaniards call them Galicians," reflects the granddaughter
of the old man. "He had a lot of friends who came from villages close to
his and he loved to eat ropa vieja, but with garbanzos," she recalls.

Hernandez tried to obtain Spanish nationality through the Law of
Historical Memory, popularly known as the Law of Grandchildren, but
failed to complete the paperwork with all the required documents. "My
grandfather came to this country with just his clothes and always gave
very little importance to the papers," she laments.

Failure to obtain a European Community Passport has meant a severe
economic blow for her. Earlier this month the Spanish Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Cooperation announced the subsistence allowances for
2017, support that would have been very welcome to María Antonia
Hernandez, who is retired with the equivalent of 10 euros per month.

Others have been luckier than this descendant of a Canary
Islander. According to Cuba's National Statistics Institute (INE), as of
January 2015, 119,662 Spaniards resided in Cuba, the vast majority of
them Cubans who obtained Spanish nationality through the law of
grandchildren. In 2014 alone, some 5,618 nationals received their
European Community passport through that route.

Maria Antonia's grandfather was never able to return to his homeland.
"He died a few days after the events of the Port of Mariel," the
migratory crisis that led thousands of Cubans to escape the island in
1980 and that came to be known in the United States as the Mariel
Boatlift. "He would not have believed that the country he had come to
would have turned out like this."

"The bodega was nationalized and suffered directly from the shortage of
things that he liked most: tobacco, gofio and sardines," recalls Maria
Antonia. As an inheritance he left her an old mahogany wardrobe and a
three-string guitar that he played in country parties.

From Island to Island

José Luis Mosqueda is president of the Association of Cuban Residents in
Gran Canaria, the second largest of the Canary Islands. The entity "was
created six years ago and is meant to bring together the majority of
Cubans" who reside on that other island, he comments to 14ymedio.

The group has 112 members and the last public event they celebrated was
for the anniversary of José Martí, when they took flowers to a bust of
him in Telde. "The mother of José Martí was from Tenerife, but her
ancestors, the grandparents, were from San Mateo, in Gran Canaria,"
Mosqueda proudly remarks.

Consul Ulises Barquín estimates that there are some 22,700 Cubans spread
over the seven islands that make up the archipelago, "although 25 to 30%
of them are not physically here" because "they left with the economic
crisis or they repatriated themselves after Cuba changed its controls on
travel and migration, in January 2013, eliminating the requirement for
an exit permit to leave the country.

"In actual numbers, we are around 15-16,000 Cubans living in the Canary
Islands, with Tenerife having the most," and 95% of them are
regularized, says the consul.

Mosqueda emigrated to Gran Canaria 26 years ago. His sister is married
to "a Canarian of those who went to Cuba to avoid military service
during the Spanish Civil War," he says. In 1961 they decided to return
and soon the brother joined them.

When he arrived he began to work "in a company that polishes parquet and
granite, with a friend of the family." Later, he became independent and
created "a building and renovation business," he adds. He then set up an
aluminum workshop where he has been working for 15 years.

The association that he leads, Mosqueda says, brings together those who
"continue to believe that they are really Cuban and still love Cuba."

Source: Canary Islanders in Cuba, Islanders Two Ways / 14ymedio, Zunilda
Mara and Daniel Delisau – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/canary-islanders-in-cuba-islanders-two-ways-14ymedio-zunilda-mara-and-daniel-delisau/ Continue reading
… week in eastern Cuba, travelling from Santiago de Cuba to Holguin and … chocolate bars. Something musical: These Cuban maracas are apparently extra durable … Santiago de Cuba. Something of this earth: El Cobre, Cuba’s most … church. Something woody 1: Entrepreneurial Cubans make the most of their … Continue reading
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata and Daniel Delisau, Havana/Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 20 February 2017 — The players arrange their dominoes on the table. Outside, the sun still floods the wide entryway on Monserrate Street in Old Havana and time seems to have stopped. The scene occurs at the Canary Island Association of Cuba, a community that languishes between … Continue reading "Canary Islanders in Cuba, Islanders Two Ways / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mara and Daniel Delisau" Continue reading
Cuba's Ladies In White Report 50 Arrests This Sunday / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 19 February 2017 — Some fifty Ladies in White were
detained this Sunday on the Island, according to members of that
dissident organization.

Former political prisoner and regime opponent Angel Moya told 14ymedio
by phone that Berta Soler had been arrested by members of a State
Security operation and the police surrounding her Lawton house. The
incident happened shortly after three in the afternoon on Sunday, when
Soler left the movement's site in the company of the Lady in White
Danaysi Munoz.

Moya added that in Havana the Ladies in White Yordanka Santana and Norma
Cruz were "abandoned to their fate*" on the ExpoCuba and Cotorro
highways respectively, after being released. According to the same
source, as of 6:00 in the evening 23 Ladies in White had been arrested
in the capital, although that number could be increased by some "who
still haven't called in."

Moya also reported on a Lady in White detained in Bayamo and eight in
Palma Soriano, while in Matanzas there were 22. In that locality Leticia
Ramos and Marisol Fernandez were arrested twice in a single day and he
said that the whereabouts of both women was still unknown.

The opponent also reported that from the province of Ciego te Avila
Lucia Lopez complained that she was "beaten at the time of her arrest"
by State Security agents and "stripped of her blouse and bra before
being released," in a "clear act of indignity," said Moya.

Meanwhile, Iván Hernández Carrillo reported from his Twitter account of
the arrest in the city of Cárdenas of Odalis Hernandez, Hortensia
Alfonso, Cira de la Vega and Mercedes de la Guardia. Likewise, from
Columbus the activist denounced the arrest of his mother Asunción
Carrillo and Caridad Burunate when they were on their way to the church.

At two o'clock on Sunday afternoon, minutes before being detained, the
leader of the Ladies in White women's movement, Berta Soler, informed
the media that there were already more than twenty detained in Havana to
"prevent them from reaching the site." She mentioned that two of them
were "released on the road to Pinar del Rio*," despite living in the
capital. "Since last Wednesday morning there has been a constant [State
Security and Police] operation outside," the organization's headquarters.

She also mentioned the particular case of Berta Lucrecia Martínez, who
was detained at noon hours after a solo protest in Calabazar
Park. According to the information that Soler has received, the activist
stood for "more than 35 minutes" with a poster regarding Human Rights
and shouting anti-government slogans.

Lucrecia Martinez is one of the Ladies in White who has repeatedly been
prevented from attending Sunday Mass or reaching the headquarters of his
organization. Until the moment of not knowing the place to where it was
led by the police patrol that stopped it.

Calabazar park is a very busy wifi area. As reported to this newspaper
by the activist Agustín López Canino, many people "filmed and
photographed the moment of protest."

Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary
detentions, a figure that "places the Government of Cuba in first place
in all of Latin America" ​​at the head of such arrests, according to a
report by the independent organization.

*Translator's note: Cuban police/State Security often arrest dissidents
and drive them a long way outside the city where they are arrested and
then put them out of the car in the "middle of nowhere," to find their
own way home.

Source: Cuba's Ladies In White Report 50 Arrests This Sunday / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubas-ladies-in-white-report-50-arrests-this-sunday-14ymedio/ Continue reading