Calendar

We run various sites in defense of human rights and need support in paying for servers. Thank you.


Cubaverdad on Twitter

Dissident

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 25 June 2017 – More than five years ago social networks were roiled by the Arab Spring, while the screens of their mobile phones lit up the faces of the young protesters. In those years Twitter was seen as a road to freedom, but shortly afterwards the repressors also learned how … Continue reading "The Hijacking Of Social Networks" Continue reading
Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2017 – Over the weekend the
official media have repeated ad nauseam the declaration of the
government in response to Donald Trump's speech about his policy toward
Cuba. The declaration's rhetoric recalls the years before the diplomatic
thaw, when political propaganda revolved around confrontation with our
neighbor to the north.

Beyond these words, many on the island are breathing a sigh of relief
because the main steps taken by Barack Obama will not be reversed. The
remittances on which so many families depend will not be cut, nor will
the American Embassy in Havana be closed.

On the streets of Cuba, life continues its slow march, far from what was
said at the Artime Theater in Miami and published by the Plaza of the
Revolution.

Julia Borroto put a bottle of water in the freezer on Saturday to be
ready for the line he expects to find waiting for him Monday outside the
United States Embassy. This 73-year-old from Camagüey, who arrived in
the capital just after Trump's speech, remembers that Trump had said "he
was going to put an end to the visas and travel, but I see that it isn't
so."

The retiree also had another concern: the reactivation of the wet
foot/dry foot policy eliminated by Obama last January. "I have two
children who were plotting to go to sea. I just sent them a message to
forget about it."

The hopes of many frustrated rafters were counting on the magnate to
restore the migratory privileges that Cubans enjoyed for more than two
decades, but Trump defrauded them. Hundreds of migrants from the island
who have been trapped in Central America on their way to the US were
also waiting for that gesture that did not arrive.

Among the self-employed, concern is palpable. Homeowners who rent to
tourists and private restaurant owners regret that the new policy will
lead to a decline in American tourists on the island. The so-called
yumas are highly desired in the private sector, especially for their
generous tips.

Mary, who runs a lodging business in Old Havana, is worried. "Since the
Americans began to come, I hardly have a day with empty rooms." She had
made plans on the basis of greater flexibilities and hoped "to open up
more to tourism."

On national television there is a flood of "indignant responses from the
people" including no shortage of allusions to sovereignty, dignity and
"the unwavering will to continue on the path despite difficulties." The
Castro regime is seizing the opportunity to reactivate the dormant
propaganda machinery that had been missing its main protagonist: the enemy.

However, away from the official microphones people are indifferent or
discontented with what happened. A pedicab driver swears not to know
what they are talking about when he is asked about Friday's
announcements, and a retiree limits himself to commenting, "Those people
who applaud Trump in Miami no longer remember when they were here
standing in line for bread."

Of the thirteen activists who met with Barack Obama during his trip to
Havana, at least five expressed opinions to this newspaper about the
importance of the new policy towards Cuba.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was
at that table in March 2016 and was also mentioned on this occasion by
Donald Trump during his speech. The activist had planned to be in Miami
for the occasion, but at the airport in Holguin was denied exit and was
subsequently arrested.

"It is the speech that had to be given and the person who could have
avoided it is Raul Castro," the former political prisoner asserts
categorically. Ferrer believes that Obama did the right thing whenhe
began a new era in relations between the two countries but "the Castro
regime's response was to bite the hand that was extended to it."

In the opinion of the opposition leader, in the last 20 months
repression has multiplied and "it was obvious that a different medicine
had to be administered" because "a dictatorship like this should not be
rewarded, it should be punished and more so when it was given the
opportunity to improve its behavior and did not do so."

Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, was also prevented from
flying to Miami to attend the event. For her, the words of the American
president were clear and "if the Cuban regime accepts the conditions
that Donald Trump has imposed on it, Cuba will begin to change."

Soler believes that the Cuban government's response is aimed at
confusing the people, who "do not know exactly what is going on." She
says that Trump wants to maintain business with Cuba "but not with the
military, but directly with the people," something that the official
press has not explained.

Opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who manages the platform #Otro18 (Another
2018), is blunt and points out that "returning to failed policies is the
best way to guarantee failure." The measures announced by Trump, in his
opinion, do not help the changes, and they once again give the Cuban
government "the excuse to show its repressive nature."

The dissident believes that the new policy tries to return the debate on
democracy on the island to the scenario of conflict between Cuba and the
United States, "just when it was beginning to refocus the national
scenario on communication between the Cuban State and its citizens,
which is where it needs to be."

The director of the magazine Convivencia, Dagoberto Valdés, believes
that there is a remarkable difference between the discourse itself
"which seems a return to the past with the use of a language of
confrontation, and the so-called concrete measures that have been taken."

For Valdés there is no major reversal of Obama's policy. "The trips of
the Cuban Americans, the embassy, ​​the remittances are maintained… and
the possibility of a negotiating table remains open when the Cuban
Government makes reforms related to human rights."

Journalist Miriam Celaya predicted that the speech would not be "what
the most radical in Miami and the so-called hard line of the Cuban
opposition expected. What is coming is a process and it does not mean
that from tomorrow no more Americans will come to the Island and that
negotiations of all kinds are finished," she says.

In her usual poignant style, she adds that "regardless of all the
fanfare and the bells and whistles, regardless of how abundant the
smiles, and no matter how much people laughed at Trump's jokes, it
doesn't seem that the changes are going to be as promising as those who
are proclaiming that it's all over for the government."

Celaya sheds light on the fact that the official statement of the Cuban
government "manifests its intention to maintain dialogue and relations
within the framework of respect." This is a great difference with other
times when a speech like that "would have provoked a 'march of the
fighting people' and a military mobilization."

Instead, officialdom has opted for declarations and revolutionary
slogans in the national media. But in the streets, that rhetoric is just
silent. "People are tired of all this history," says a fisherman on the
Havana Malecon. "There is no one who can fix it, but no one who can sink
it."

Source: Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump's Cuba Policy –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/consensus-and-dissent-in-the-face-of-trumps-cuba-policy/ Continue reading
… coordinator of Cuba's largest dissident organization, the Cuban Patriotic Union … "strong sanctions" on Havana. However, notwithstanding much hype both … relations; reduced immigration favouritism for Cubans; restored commercial flights and cruise-ship … remittances and visitation by Cuban Americans; removal of Cuba from the list … Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2017 – Over the weekend the official media have repeated ad nauseam the declaration of the government in response to Donald Trump’s speech about his policy toward Cuba. The declaration’s rhetoric recalls the years before the diplomatic thaw, when political propaganda revolved around confrontation with our neighbor to the … Continue reading "Consensus and Dissent in the Face of Trump’s Cuba Policy" Continue reading
… , general coordinator of Cuba’s largest dissident organization, the Cuban Patriotic Union … favor of “strong sanctions” on Havana. However, notwithstanding much hype both … remittances and visitation by Cuban Americans; removal of Cuba from the list … Continue reading
Cuban dissident on the cheek and pronouncing “Little Havana” with a mimic Cuban … embassy in Havana, which was closed in 1961 following the Cuban revolution … similar views on Cuba,” Trump said, adding that “Cuban people” were “very … the United States and Cuba on his “Cuban friends” in Florida, whom … Continue reading
… kisses Martha Beatriz Roque, a Cuban political dissident, during a speech … U.S. Cuba policy on Friday, June 16, 2017, Cubans are bracing … negotiate a better deal for Cubans and Cuban-Americans. Announcing the rollback of … increase pressure on Cuba's government. Embassies in Havana and Washington … Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 6 June 2017 — The leader speaks for hours on the platform, his index finger pointing to an invisible enemy. A human tide applauds when the intonation of a phrase demands it and stares enraptured at the bearded speaker. For decades these public acts were repeated in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, shaping the … Continue reading "Populism Cuban Style: Conquests, Threats and Leadership" Continue reading
Cuba: From Worse to Impossible (and We Haven't Hit Bottom Yet) / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 3 June 2017 — In coming days when the administration of the
unpredictable Donald Trump, following four months of review, announces
its Cuba policy, it could be that Obama's guidelines are retained save
for touch-ups of a few items such as doing business with military
enterprises that directly benefit the dictatorship.

Good news for the regime would be that the White House were to maintain
the status quo.

To appease the internal dissident movement and a segment of the historic
exile community that supported his election bid, Trump will demand
respect for human rights, economic liberty and freedom of expression,
and blah, blah, blah.

But the Castroite autocracy will counterattack with plausible and
powerful arguments.

And it will point a finger at the Trump administration, which accuses
his own country's press of being his worst enemy and which makes
multi-million-dollar deals with the Saudi monarchy, a government that
violates innumerable human rights and reduces women to mere objects. All
of which makes it not the best moral paragon to speak of freedoms.

During the Obama era–my god, how the regime misses him–Castroism did not
allow small private businesses to access credit nor import products from
the US.

The Cuban government's strategy is simple. They want to do business with
the powerful Norte, all comers, but with state–or military–run concerns
as the sole partners.

If Trump maintains the scenario unfolded by Obama, i.e., academic,
cultural, business and political exchanges between both nations, Raúl
Castro will probably make his move and grant greater autonomy to small
private businesses on the Island so as to placate the New York real
estate mogul.

Not a few small private entrepreneurs, perhaps the most successful ones,
are children or relatives of the olive-green caste, and they head up
successful enterprises such as the Star Bien paladar (private
restaurant), or the Fantasy discotheque.

If the panorama does not change, the regime will continue its diplomatic
and academic offensive, utilizing its agents of influence in the US to
continue efforts to bring down the embargo, or at least weaken it until
it becomes a useless shell.

For the olive green autocracy, the plan to counteract that "damn
obsession of US elites with democracy and liberties" involves conducting
sterile negotiations that only buy time.

The Palace of the Revolution wants to change, but only in the style of
China or Vietnam. It does not understand how those two communist
countries can partner with the US while Cuba cannot. Castroite strategy
is headed in that direction.

There are two subliminal messages coming from the military junta that
governs the Island.

First: With an authoritarian government of social control in place,
political stability is assured and there is no risk of a migratory
avalanche or of the Island becoming a base of operations for Mexican
drug cartels.

Second: Were there to be a change that provoked the people to take to
the streets, the Island could become a failed state.

Trump, who is not known for his democratic qualities and has the
discernment of an adolescent, could take the bait and do an about-face.
"After all," he might think, "if we're partners with the monarchies in
the Gulf, we continue to buy oil from the detestable Maduro government,
and I want to make a deal with Putin, what difference if I play a little
tongue hockey with Raúl Castro or his successor?"

But Trump is an uncontrollable reptile. And Cuba is not a center of
world power, and it has a small market and laughable consumer power.
Thus it could be that Trump will play the moralist and make demands that
not even he himself lives up to, just to satisfy the Cuban-American
political bloc in Miami.

Whatever happens, Trump has begun shooting tracer bullets. His
announcement of a drastic $20 million cut in funding for dissident
projects favors the Havana regime.

It is likely that this was not Trump's intention. But remember that he
is not a Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He is a man in his third age with
the mind of a primary school student.

With all that the Island autocracy is going through–reductions in
petroleum from Venezuela and a crisis that could annihilate Venezuelan
President Nicolás Maduro, leaving Cuba bereft of an important economic
support; Russia supplied a shipment of fuel but is asking where will the
money come from next time; and a Raúl Castro who is supposedly destined
to surrender power–for the military mandarins the scene that is coming
into view at the moment is the worst possible.

Don't worry about the repression. Hard-core dissidents will never want
for punches and slaps. But in a country at its breaking point, any spark
can give rise to a conflagration of incalculable proportions.

Right now, the average salary in Cuba is 27 dollars per month, but to
live decently requires 15 times that amount. And Havana, the capital of
the Republic, has gone for a week without water.

Food prices are through the roof. Public transit has gone from bad to
worse. And, as if we were living in Zurich, Samsung has opened on the
west side of the city a store (more like a museum) where a 4K Smart TV
goes for $4,000, and a Samsung 7 Edge costs $1,300, double its price in
New York.

Havanans, mouths agape, go to gaze and take selfies with their cheap
mobiles. This is the snapshot of Cuba. A mirage. And all during a
stagnant economic crisis dating back 27 years which few venture to guess
when it will end.

While we thought we were in bad shape, the reality is that we could be
worse off. And nobody knows when we will hit bottom.

Iván García

Photo: In the entryway of the Plaza Hotel, in the heart of the capital,
a beggar uses a nylon bag containing her belongings as a "pillow." To
the side is an empty cigar box collecting coins from passersby. This
image is part of The Black Beggars of Havana, a photo essay by Juan
Antonio Madrazo published in Cubanet.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Cuba: From Worse to Impossible (and We Haven't Hit Bottom Yet) /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-from-worse-to-impossible-and-we-havent-hit-bottom-yet-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 June 2017 — In coming days when the administration of the unpredictable Donald Trump, following four months of review, announces its Cuba policy, it could be that Obama’s guidelines are retained save for touch-ups of a few items such as doing business with military enterprises that directly benefit the dictatorship. Good news … Continue reading "Cuba: From Worse to Impossible (and We Haven’t Hit Bottom Yet) / Iván García" Continue reading
… York mayor and the prominent Cuban political dissident share the same … as Cuba's "leading woman dissident," is touring Cuban-American … island next week.  Nicknamed "Havana on the Hudson," North … is home to a large Cuban-American community.  Roque Cabello said she … Continue reading
… with other Cuban dissidents, and even talked about returning to Cuba to … , Sergio Gatria, director of the Cuban Information Center in Lyndhurst. Gatria … marches through Cuban streets. He has also helped bring Cubans across the … York, respectively, Roque is among Cuban-American Democrats who opposed President Obama … Continue reading
Cubans Want More Severe Laws for Criminals / Iván García

Iván García, 6 May 2017 — Some people in Cuba, not just a minority, want
blood. And more severe laws for criminals.

While the Catholic Church and different international institutions are
advocating a crusade to eliminate the death penalty on the Island, there
are people who, for many reasons, think firing squads should be reactivated.

If you ask Gisela about the subject, her eyes fill hopelessly with
tears. At one time this woman, who is pushing 50, was a brilliant nurse.
She formed a model family together with her spouse, an ex-official of a
foreign business. They lived in a well-cared-for apartment in Reparto
Sevillano, in the south of Havana.

But the night of December 14, 2010, their marriage took a dramatic turn.
"They killed our only son. He was only 15. He was with some friends in
El Vedado. A gang assaulted him to take his clothes. Before running
away, they stabbed him twice in a lung. After his death, our life
changed and got worse. I always wonder, if God exists, where he was that
night," says Gisela.

After the loss of their son, the marriage dissolved. She became a
habitual alcoholic. They sold their car and later exchanged their
apartment for a smaller one. The money was spent on rum and psychotropics.

Gisela divorced the father of her deceased son, and they put him in a
psychiatric hospital. When you ask her opinion about the death penalty
or more severe laws for certain crimes, she answers without subtlety:
"Whoever kills a person ought to be executed. Look at my case. The
criminal who killed my son got 20 years in prison, and for good conduct
he served only six and is now back on the street. It's not fair."

Those who have lost a family member or friends of violent crime victims
are more susceptible and hope for the return of executioners and a State
that decrees death.

In Cuba, the crime rate is notably low. Although official statistics are
unknown, the Island is a safe place. But gangs of juvenile delinquents
and home robberies have increased.

Since 2005, the Cuban Government has had a moratorium on the death
penalty. The last convict executed was called "Crazy Victor" in the
world of the marginal underground, and he was a sinewy mestizo almost
6'6″ tall, with an assassin's soul.

At the end of the '90s, he killed an old woman inside her house in the
neighborhood of La Vibora. The day of his arrest he had a shoot-out with
police in the style of an American action film.

In the spring of 2004, the Council of State ratified the death penalty
for Victor, which was carried out in the adjacent courtyard at the
Combinado del Este, a maximum security prison on the outskirts of the
capital.

Fidel and Raúl Castro have not held back from pulling the trigger. From
the very beginning of January 1, 1959, they used the death penalty to
eliminate their recalcitrant enemies and even peaceful dissidents. A
lawyer, now retired, relates:

"When an objective academic study is done, without political passion,
the exact number of Cubans that the government of Fidel Castro has
executed will be known. On principle, they eliminated criminals from
Batista's police and army. Several of these trials were real Roman
circuses, televised to the whole country, without the proper judicial
guarantees. They took advantage of the situation to deliver justice in
order to liquidate the enemies of the revolution.

"In one step, the laws sanctioned the death penalty for betrayal of the
country by soldiers, as in the case of General Arnaldo Ochoa. Or the
execution of 19 people in an air base in Holguín in 1963, most of them
war pilots. Fidel, Raúl and Che signed quite a few death penalties. The
figures vary, according to the sources. Some say that 500 were executed;
others, 3,000 or more.

"Dissident jurists consider these to be crimes of the State, because
they were established offenses that didn't necessarily call for capital
punishment. But the Government claimed it was being persecuted by Yankee
imperialism."

In 2003, after a summary trial, three young black men, residents of
Centro Havana, were executed for trying to hijack a boat to leave the
country, which they weren't able to achieve. "It was a counterproductive
political error. It was an an act of Fidel Castro's meant to set an
example that cost him the condemnation of world public opinion," said
the ex-lawyer.

In the spring of that same year, among the 75 peaceful dissidents
punished with long years in prison by Fidel Castro, who used only words
as a weapon, the Prosecutor of the Republic requested seven death
penalties. "It was something appalling. Luckily the Government didn't
carry it out. It would have been a crime in all meanings of the word,"
said the old lawyer.

As in any revolutionary movement, whether in France, Russia or Cuba,
violence begins with force. The death penalty always was a weapon of
combat for intimidating the enemy. However, several people consulted
considered that while political adversaries were sanctioned excessively
or executed in a pit in the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, Cuban
justice was too permissive with some blood crimes.

"Right now someone who kills a cow gets more years in prison that
someone who kills a human being. I know cases where they got only four
or five years in prison in spite of having killed someone. Those who
slaughter beef cattle are condemned to 20 or more years of privation of
liberty," says an ex-prisoner.

There are quite a few ordinary Cubans who think that crimes like robbery
in occupied homes, sexual violations and other mean-spirited acts should
be considered by the State as crimes, and the killers should be executed.

"Although my religion is against the death penalty, I'm in favor of
executing those who commit horrendous crimes," confesses Mayda, who
defines herself as a practicing evangelical.

Saúl, who works for himself. considers that in addition to "executing
serial killers or psychopaths, they ought to punish other infractions
with more years. As in the United States, where they give them life
imprisonment for these same crimes. The thugs would think twice before
breaking the law."

But in the opinion of another lawyer, in the case of major crimes or by
resuming the death penalty, "the State could be tempted to condition
these laws and carry out a purge of the opposition. The subject of the
death penalty, whether to abolish it or keep it, should be debated
nationally and the citizens should decide by vote." But Cuba isn't
Switzerland.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Cubans Want More Severe Laws for Criminals / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubans-want-more-severe-laws-for-criminals-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 6 May 2017 — Some people in Cuba, not just a minority, want blood. And more severe laws for criminals. While the Catholic Church and different international institutions are advocating a crusade to eliminate the death penalty on the Island, there are people who, for many reasons, think firing squads should be reactivated. If … Continue reading "Cubans Want More Severe Laws for Criminals / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 3 June 2017 – The Ministry of Higher Education (MES) ratified the expulsion of Professor Dalila Rodriguez from the Marta Abreu Central University of Las Villas. A letter dated May 9 and delivered this Friday to the academic, responds to her earlier appeal and confirms the revocation of her teaching status, as Rodriguez … Continue reading "The Ministry Ratifies the Expulsion of Professor Dalila Rodriguez from the University of Las Villas" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 2 June 2017 – The principal of Academy 1010 and Somos+ (We Are More) Movement activist, Joanna Columbie, was deported Friday from the Vivac detention center in Havana to Camaguey province, as reported to 14ymedio by the leader of the Somos+ organization, Eliecer Avila. “Joanna called from Vivac to say that she was … Continue reading "Activist Joanna Columbie Deported to Camaguey" Continue reading
Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván García

Iván García, 1 June 2017– The majority of the openly anti-Castro
opponents I know do not live in lavish mansions nor do they possess
items fashioned with the latest technology. Neither do they boast bank
accounts in financial paradises and they do not own yachts or beach
houses. I don't believe any of them know how to play golf or can afford
a vacation on a Greek island.

Those luxuries are reserved for the hierarchs of the olive green regime.
Those who sing The Internationale, compose speeches replete with
declarations on behalf of social justice and poverty, but who wear
designer-label clothing, use French perfumes and employ household servants.

The national prosecutor's office will never open a file on the Cuban
functionaries involved in the Panama Papers. No state office exists
where the average Cuban citizen can learn how public monies are spent or
invested. The nomenklatura lives and performs its functions with total
impunity.

That leadership style of never being accountable, which has taken root
inside the olive green autocracy, has in a certain way been imitated by
the opposition on the Island. Most certainly, it is a harmful style.

Corruption, and its variants such as nepotism and influence peddling,
has permeated a significant sector of the dissident movement. There is
no transparency regarding the funding and materials they receive.

Some opponents behave with dictatorial arrogance and manage their
organization as if it were a family business.

One needs money to live. And it doesn't fall from the sky. The ideal
would be that the opposition obtains money through local financing
mechanisms. But Cuba under the Castros is a genuine dictatorship.

Those on the Island who declare themselves dissidents, if they work or
study, are expelled from their workplaces or schools. And even were they
employed, because of the financial distortions caused by the country's
dual currency system and low wages, they would be unable to sustain
their organizations. Prior to 1959* political parties supported
themselves with membership dues and donations from sympathizers and
anonymous supporters.

To make political opposition and free journalism, to maintain offices
for independent lawyers or for any civil society organization, requires
funds. How to obtain them?

There are foreign private foundations that award grants to approved
projects. Government institutions in first-world democratic societies
also provide aid.

Is this lawful? Yes. But for the Castro regime, it is illegal and you
could be prosecuted under the anachronistic Ley Mordaza [Gag Law] in
force since February 1999. If the nation's laws prohibit obtaining funds
from other countries to finance political, journalistic, or other types
of activities, Cuba in this case should be able to count on banking
mechanisms to enable to transmission of resources.

But the opposition on the Island is illegal. The dissident movement has
almost always been financed by institutions or foundations based in the
US, which is not illegal in that country and is publicly reported.

I am not against receiving money from US government institutions, as
long as it can be justified by by the work performed. In the case of
journalism, reporting for the Voice of America, Radio Martí, the BBC,
and Spain's RNE Radio Exterior is not a crime–except in Cuba, North
Korea or perhaps in China and Vietnam.

Any funding from abroad is financed by that country's taxpayers. In the
case of political or journalistic activities, the ideal would be to
receive monies from journalistic foundations and citizens or enterprises.

An important part of the opposition's economic support has come from the
US State Department or other federal institutions. Those local
opposition groups who believe this to be ethical and a lawful way to
obtain funds should therefore be transparent in their management.

Yet 95 per cent of them do not account for those monies nor do they
publish reports about them. Most of the time, the members of these
groups do not know how the funds received are managed. By and large they
are administered by the individual at the head of the opposition group.

They justify this secrecy with the pretext, at times well-founded, that
they are keeping this information from reaching the ears of the State
Security cowboys, who act like 21st Century pirates and confiscate money
and goods without due process of law.

However, and this is regrettable to say, that opacity in managing
collective resources is the embryo of corrupt behaviors within the Cuban
opposition. Within the majority of dissident organizations, whatever
they may be called, such absence of managerial accountability and
transparency leads some dissidents to skim money and goods that do not
belong to them, or to appropriate a portion.

These organizations, with their erratic performance, hand over on a
silver platter enough information for the counterintelligence to sow
division and create interpersonal conflicts inside the dissident movement.

How to stamp out these corrupt and nefarious practices, which not only
defame the dissident movement, but also set a bad precedent for a future
democracy? Can you imagine one of those current venal opponents tomorrow
becoming a State minister or functionary? The most reasonable way to nip
this phenomenon in the bud is through practicing transparency.

This could take the form of quarterly or annual reports. For example,
the reporters of Periodismo de Barrio [Neighborhood Journalism], led
by Elaine Díaz, keep a running budget on their web page of receipts and
expenditures.

The Trump administration's measure to drastically cut aid to the Cuban
opposition, more than being harmful, signifies a new way forward that
will require the development of new funding models.

Besides, this will provide greater autonomy and credibility. And it
might bury once and for all that very questionable mentality of seeking
solutions to Cuba's problems through mechanisms sponsored by other
governments.

The interests of the US are their interests. They are not necessarily
our interests. Of course, that nation's solidarity and also the European
Union's, is a support at the hour of denouncing the lack of political
freedoms and the Cuban regime's human rights violations.

But that's where it ends. The money needed to carry out political
projects under the harsh conditions of absurd tropical socialism should
be provided by those Cubans in exile who are concerned about the future
of their homeland. Money from their own pockets. Not from a foreign
government. And if they believe that to enroll in a cause that is not
their affair or doesn't interest them is not a smart investment, they
are within their legitimate rights to not donate even a penny.

Cuba's problems are for Cubans, those at home and abroad, to resolve.
Not for anybody else.

Our society's modernization and the future we design for ourselves is
our problem and we should resolve it with creativity, greater humility
and more unity of judgment.

Perhaps the Cuban opposition will end up being grateful to Donald Trump
for cutting millions in funds of which few knew the ultimate
destination. Believe me, it is always better to be as independent as
possible.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

*Translator's Note: Fidel Castro's revolutionary forces overthrew the
government of dictator Fulgencio Batista on New Year's Day, 1959.

Source: Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/autonomy-of-cuban-dissidents-will-always-be-beneficial-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 1 June 2017– The majority of the openly anti-Castro opponents I know do not live in lavish mansions nor do they possess items fashioned with the latest technology. Neither do they boast bank accounts in financial paradises and they do not own yachts or beach houses.  I don’t believe any of them know how … Continue reading "Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván García" Continue reading
Can We Progress in Cuba under the Current Model?
May 29, 2017

HAVANA TIMES — I couldn't help but think about the analogy of a popular
Cuban saying when reflecting upon the prospects we have of our economy
progressing by 2030, while reading about a case in the Juventud Rebelde
newspaper last week.

The article talks about the solution of a rice farmer's complaint
because of outstanding payments for his sales to the State, which had
been overdue for a ridiculously long amount of time. And they still want
to pick up this country by 2030! At the rate the government is going,
and with its dysfunctional system, this won't happen even in 2230.

According to the newspaper, solutions only appear once a public
complaint has been made that is covered by the media, which don't appear
spontaneously. Yusbel Valera Mesa, from Campechuela, is the farmer who
complained. However, it's very common to experience delays of months
(and even years) in receiving payment for a harvest you've sold to the
State.

It's common at my cooperative and we always hear "we're working on
resolving this issue"; not only at a local level, but at a central level
too. However, they've been "working on this" for 58 years and it still
isn't working. Maybe it just doesn't work? Another laughable phrase at
this stage is: "so many thousands of tons are being produced, but we are
still unable to satisfy the population's demands."

Tell me, with only 10 million inhabitants in a country with the
agricultural capacity to feed over 100 million people more than enough,
what would happen if the Revolution had inherited resources from
capitalism like Mexico City, which has almost double the Cuban
population? The queue to buy tortillas would be a kilometer long and a
child would be able to cross Paseo de la Reforma without any trouble at
rush hour.

The emancipating ideology of these "socialists", which takes away the
sovereignty of its people behind the guise of a noble ideal, is like an
herbicide: wherever they act everything dries up. Their ways are
arbitrary, bureaucratic and unnatural. They are so far from the real
socialist ideal! I see more socialism in the Scandinavian countries and
in Canada than in any Marxist-Leninist system, the ones that called
themselves "real Socialism". In my opinion, this is just radical
socialism or pseudosocialism.

I can't help but think about the parallel between the way of tackling
the problem of outstanding payments for rice farmers and the tobacco
farmers' struggle to receive a fair price for tobacco. The solution in
the rice farmer's case and the problem being dealt with, in our case,
only appears once we complain to the press. Nothing comes out of, nor
can we hope for solutions from official channels of action.

The farmer from Granma reported his problem in Juventud Rebelde; I
reported my problem on alternative digital media platforms, such as
Havana Times (How can you fight injustice in Cuba?). After more than
four months of complaining and forging agreements at meetings that are
then archived, Cubatabaco finally came to the cooperative to analyze the
price problem we have. However, they didn't go to the Farmers Assembly,
the came directly to the farmer, the one who publicly denounced the
problem, which was me in this case.

Of course, I pointed out the fact that this wasn't a personal problem,
that it was something all tobacco farmers were suffering. However, the
unfair price for tobacco continues. Resolving injustices in Cuba is a
titanic task, especially if whoever should be defending us by law (the
National Association of Small Farmers in Cuba ANAP) admits that
"defending farmers is our responsibility, but our first and foremost
task is to defend the Revolution." These were the words of a politician
who gave an speech on May 17th at the party for Cuban Farmers' Day. If
there is a dichotomy, farmers interests fade away into the background
and we are the ones who pay the ANAP a high tax on our incomes.

Furthermore, defending the Revolution isn't "changing everything that
needs to be changed" according to them. This idea, which doesn't cease
to be a concept of pure propaganda, is never implemented because it
might be the case that the ones who are raising this flag might be the
same ones who need to be changed. That's why everything is the opposite:
they try to keep this concept static, under the mistaken concept that
highlighting this or that mistake and trying to rectify it, is a
dissident and counter-revolutionary act.

So of course I must be considered a "counter-revolutionary" for wanting
a fairer price for tobacco. If I were robbing the Cuban people or giving
manipulative-coercive political speeches to make them work for measly
salaries, then they would consider me to be a true revolutionary.

I'll put it like Hatuey did: If those men are true revolutionaries I
don't want to be like them, nor do I want to go where they are heading.
But, of course, I won't stop being a socialist, nor believing in the
struggle for a better world, because of the simple fact that this noble
ideal is being abused. If we were to stop dreaming of this and fighting
for it, we would also stop being human: this was the spirit that got us
out of the caves and brought us to the skyscraper era.

These examples aren't an exception: if we were to analyze any example
taken from Cuban daily life, it would irrefutably prove the fact that
the Cuban system is unfeasible. There isn't any chance of progressing
under this current model. There won't be any improvements, without more
profound changes, that need to stem from a democratizing process of
society as a whole.

Of course Raul Castro wanted to leave a legacy of a growing and
developing Cuba, if he really is going to step down next year: but this
is already impossible. Cockroaches also wanted to sit down, but they
don't have buttcheeks. That's how the saying goes: What does the
cockroach have? It isn't enough to want it; we have to do the right
thing to ensure success.

Source: Can We Progress in Cuba under the Current Model? - Havana
Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=125473 Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miamia, 25 May 2017 — On the verge of being operated on in Miami for a traumatic cataract caused by a punch from a Cuban State Security agent during one of the many acts of repudiation against her, the dissident and former political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque was forceful in evaluating the … Continue reading "Martha Beatriz Roque: “The Cuban Opposition Has Not Found The Right Path”" Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 22 May 2017 — The saleswoman described her merchandise in a murmur: loggerhead turtle steaks, beef and shrimp. The man salivated, but replied that he could not buy any of those products, the most persecuted in the informal market. Every opponent knows that the authorities would want to try him for an … Continue reading "Economic Crime, the Pitfall in the Path" Continue reading
Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García

Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let's step back in time. One morning in 1985,
Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio
Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet
entitled "Nueva Cuba." After distributing the single-page, handmade
newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall in
the Coppelia ice cream parlor in the heart of Havana's Vedado district.

His intention was not to criticize the autocratic regime of Fidel
Castro. No, it was simply an act of rebellion by a reporter who believed
that information was a public right. In his writing, Yndamiro tried to
point out the dire consequences that institutional contradictions were
having on the country's economy.

He was arrested and questioned at Villa Marista, a jail run by the
political police in southern Havana. Later that year he was arrested
again, this time for having given an interview to the New York Times.
That is when his troubles began. He was fired from Radio Rebelde and
branded with a scarlet letter by Special Services. Without realizing it,
Yndamiro Restano had laid the foundations for today's independent
journalism in Cuba.

Cuba was emerging from overwhelmingly bleak five-year period in which
censorship was having an almost sickening effect. The winds of glasnost
and perestroika were blowing from Gorbachev's USSR. Some intellectuals
and academicians such as the late Felix Bonne Carcasses decided the time
was right for more democratic openness in society and the media. Havana
was a hotbed of liberal thought.

Journalist Tania Díaz Castro along with young activists Rita Fleitas,
Omar López Montenegro, Estela Jiménez and former political prisoner
Reinaldo Bragado established the group Pro Arte Libre. According to the
writer Rogelio Fabio Hurtado, Cuba's independent press was born out of
the first dissident organization, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights,
led by Ricardo Boffill Pagés and the organization's vice-president
Rolando Cartaya, a former journalist at Juventud Rebelde. In a 2011
article published in Martí Noticias, Cartaya recalled, "When we arrived
at dawn at his house in Guanabacoa's Mañana district, Bofill had already
produced half a dozen original essays and eight carbon copies of each
for distribution to foreign press agencies and embassies."

No longer able to work as a journalist, by 1987 Yndamiro Restano was
making a living cleaning windows at a Havana hospital. He would later be
fired from that job after giving an interview to the BBC. Frustrated by
not being able to freely express himself in a society mired in duplicity
and fear, he joined the unauthorized Cuban Commission on Human Rights
and National Reconciliation created by Elizardo Sánchez.

Along with other journalists fired from newspapers, magazines, radio
stations and television news programs who were eager to publish their
own articles without censorship, Restano decided in 2011 to form an
organization that would allow reporters condemned to silence to work
together. Thus was born the Cuban Association of Independent
Journalists, the first union of freelance correspondents.

In 1991 — a date which coincided with the beginning of the Special
Period, an economic crisis lasting twenty-six years — the Havana poet
Maria Elena Cruz Varela founded Criterio Alternativo which, among
causes, championed freedom of expression. In an effort to crack open the
government's iron-fisted control of the nation, Maria Elena herself,
along with Roberto Luque Escalona, Raúl Rivero Castaneda, Bernardo
Marqués Ravelo, Manuel Diaz Martinez, Jose Lorenzo Fuentes, Manolo
Granados and Jorge A. Pomar Montalvo and others signed the Charter of
Ten, which demanded changes to Castro's status quo.

On September 23, 1995, Raúl Rivero — probably Cuba's most important
living poet — founded Cuba Press in the living room of his home in La
Victoria, a neighborhood in central Havana. The agency was an attempt to
practice a different kind of professional journalism, one which reported
on issues ignored by state-run media.

Now living in exile in Miami, Rivero notes, "I believe in the validity
and strength of truly independent journalism, which made its name by
reporting on economic crises, repression, lack of freedom and by looking
for ways to revive the best aspects of the republican-era press." He
adds, "There was never an attempt to write anti-government propaganda
like that of the regime. They were pieces whose aim was to paint a
coherent portrait of reality. The articles with bylines were never
written so some boss could enjoy a good breakfast. They were written to
provide an honest opinion and a starting point for debate on important
issues. That is why, as I found out, Cuba Press was formed at the end of
the last century."

Cuba Press brought together half a dozen official journalists who had
been fired from their jobs. Tania Quintero, now a political refugee who
has lived in Switzerland since 2003, was one of them.* Once a week,
Quintero boarded a crowded bus to deliver two or three articles to Raul
Rivero, whose third-floor apartment was a kind of impromptu editing
room, with no shortage of dissertations on every topic. An old Remington
typewriter stood vigil as the poet's wife, Blanca Reyes, served coffee.

The budding independent journalism movement had more ambitions than
resources. Reporters wrote out articles in longhand or relied on
obsolete typewriters using whatever sheets of paper they could find.
Stories were filed by reading them aloud over phone lines; the internet
was still the stuff of science fiction. The political police often
confiscated tape recorders and cameras, the tools then in use, and well
as any money they found on detainees. They earned little money but
enjoyed the solidarity of their colleagues, who made loans to each other
that they knew would never be repaid.

Those who headed other alternative news agencies also had to deal with
harassment, arrest and material deprivation. That was the case of Jorge
Olivera Castillo, a former video editor at the Cuban Institute of Radio
and Television who wound up being one of the founders of Havana Press.

Twenty-two years later, Olivera recalls, "Havana Press began life on May
1, 1995. A small group led by the journalist Rafael Solano, who had
worked at Radio Rebelde, was given the task of starting this initiative
under difficult conditions. After working for four years as a reporter,
I took over as the agency's director in 1999 and worked in that position
until March 2003, when I was arrested and sentenced to eighteen years in
prison during the Black Spring."

Faced with adversity, the former directors of Havana Press — Rafael
Solano, Julio Martinez and Joaquín Torres — were forced to go into
exile. "More than two decades after this movement began, it is worth
noting its importance to the pro-democracy struggle and its ability to
survive in spite of obstacles. Those initial efforts paved the way for
the gradual evolution of initiatives with similar aims," observes Olivera.

For the former prisoner of conscience, "independent journalism remains
one of the fundamental pillars in the struggle for a transition to
democracy. It has held this position since the 1990s, when it emerged
and gained strength due to the work of dozens of people, some of whom
had worked for official media outlets and others who learned to practice
the trade with remarkable skill." This is because independent journalism
began with people who had worked in technical fields or in universities
but had no journalistic experience or training. They are self-taught or
took self-improvement courses either in Cuba or abroad, carved a path
for themselves and are now authorities their field. They include the
likes of Luis Cino, Juan González Febles and Miriam Celaya.

Radio Martí was and still is the sounding board for the independent
press and opposition activists. The broadcaster reports on the regime's
ongoing violations of freedom of expression, its intrigues, its delaying
tactics and its attempts to feign democracy with propaganda that rivals
that of North Korea.

In a 2014 article for Diario de Cuba, José Rivero García — a former
journalist for Trabajadores (Workers) and one of the founders of Cuba
Press — wrote, "It is worth remembering that this seed sprouted long
before cell phones, Twitter, Facebook or basic computers. The number of
independent journalists has multiplied thanks to technology and
communication initiatives over which the Castro regime has no control."

Necessity is the mother of invention. Even without the benefit of proper
tools, a handful of men and women have managed in recent years to create
independent publications such as Primavera Digital, Convivencia or 14ymedio.

Currently, there are some two-hundred colleagues working outside the
confines of the state-run media in Havana and other provinces, writing,
photographing, creating videos and making audio recordings. But they
still face risks and are subject to threats. At any given moment they
could be detained or have their equipment confiscated by State Security.
Their articles, exposés, chronicles, interviews and opinion pieces can
be found on Cubanet, Diario de Cuba, Martí Noticias, Cubaencuentro and
other digital publications, including blogs and webpages.

In almost lockstep with the openly confrontational anti-Castro press
there is an alternative world of bloggers and former state-employed
journalists. They practice their profession as freelancers and hold
differing positions and points of view. Among the best known are Elaine
Díaz from Periodismo de Barrio, Fernando Rasvberg from Carta de Cuba and
Harold Cárdenas from La Joven Cuba, all of whom are subject to
harassment and the tyranny of the authorities.

Reports issued by organizations that defend press freedom in countries
throughout the world rank Cuba among the lowest. The regime claims that
there have been no extrajudicial executions on the island and that no
journalists have been killed. There is no need. It has been killing off
the free press in other ways since January 1959.

Since its beginnings more than two decades ago, Cuba's independent press
has sought to revive freedom of the press and freedom of expression. And
slowly it has been succeeding. In spite of harassment and repression.

*Translator's note: Tania Quintero is the author's mother.

Source: Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/independent-journalism-seeks-to-revive-press-freedom-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let’s step back in time. One morning in 1985, Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet entitled “Nueva Cuba.” After distributing the single-page, handmade newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall … Continue reading "Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 11 May 2017 — Karla Pérez González, the student expelled from the University of Las Villas for her membership in the dissident organization Somos+, arrived in San José, Costa Rica, this morning after receiving an offer to continue her studies there. “This opportunity came to me through the journalist Mauricio Muñoz in (the … Continue reading "Karla Pérez Arrives In Costa Rica To Continue Her Studies In Journalism" Continue reading
The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to the Freedom of Expression / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking
through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old
civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk
only to later write a critical analysis on the state press's awful
performance.

"The Cuban press is disgusting. The news channels and local newspapers
are a compendium of good news that exalts the supposed achievements and
conceals the deficiencies. It is journalism that does not reflect what
ordinary people want. They manipulate absolutely everything, that or
they disguise and hide information. Venezuela is the best example. The
protests in capitalist countries are in order to defend social conquests
and they are suppressed by the police's heavy-handedness. Venezuela's
news is lead by terrorists and fascists that want to give Maduro's state
a blow and never mention police brutality. For this reason, people who
want to be well-informed go to illegal cable channels or read foreign
press on the internet", expresses Josuan.

To date, Cuba's state journalism is a tribute to the absurd. Cantinflas
falls short; a choir of trained scribes and ventriloquists manage in
their thick opinion pieces to defend a system that is incapable of
guaranteeing decent housing for many families, sufficient food and a
living wage.

Freedom of expression is quashed on the island by the government's
propaganda. It all started when Fidel Castro abolished the private and
republican press shortly after his arrival into power in 1959.

It buried honest and different exchanges from other political ideals and
schools of thought. The control of the press, the banning of other
parties and of carrying out strikes to demand greater salaries cut off a
great number of rights that any modern society is entitled to. It
transformed Cuba into the perfect dictatorship.

An executive machine that repressed or silenced people to dissident
voices with the threat of several years imprisonment. The government
became the owner of newspapers, magazines, television channels, radio
programmes and publishing houses.

Fidel Castro's model can be summarised in one of his own statements:
"Inside the Revolution, everything, outside the Revolution, nothing."
Fear silenced the average citizen.

Histrionics and simulation became a mask, used by the populace for
convenience, to elect people's delegates who do not actually solve
anything, to applaud an ideology that is not theirs and to appear loyal
to the regime by using language that is full of slogans.

Although the majority of Cubans may pretend to be integrated with the
army of zombies, observing the game while comfortably seated in the
grandstands, factors such as the continuous economic crisis, daily
shortages and a future caught up in interrogation have been catalysts to
wake them up from their drowsiness.

In the absence of free press where the people are able to express their
discontent, waiting in the queue for their potatoes or in the back of
old private taxis people have expressed critical opinions, some being
openly anti-government.

We got to know two Miguel Antonios. One is a young director of a
department producing lactose free products just outside of La Habana who
projects an image of being a Revolutionary cadre. The other is a private
entrepreneur who arrives at his home frustrated before the many
obstacles and challenges to business autonomy.

"The system for businesses in Cuba is a disaster. It has to be
completely abolished and authentic businesses that are private and
cooperative with actual independence must be created. This is a problem.
We ought to build a new country that is more democratic and functional,
that rewards talent and creativity. But I fear that with this current
government it is impossible. The only place where Cubans can express
their freedom is in their homes. Outside of our homes we swallow our
tongues", businessman Miguel Antonio emphasizes.

At the end of the 1980s there were surges in an independent press that,
without censorship and with alternative perspectives, described the
reality of the nation. This allowed little cracks to open in the
monolithic control of the flow of information that the state exerts.

About 200 journalists with no desires to be martyrs write for
alternative digital media outlets. Some of them with notable quality bet
on modern capitalism or true socialism and agree to do so by following
democratic rules. In one corner of the ring, we can find those who
openly consider themselves to be anti-Castro. In the other corner are
those with a more impartial view who recognise the social policies of
the revolution and condemn the United States' meddling in the funding of
the dissidence.

Nothing is black or white. There are nuances. This is the case with the
Periodismo de Barrio (Journalism of the Neighbourhood, a Cuban
newspaper) and their superb chronicals on poor communities in the depths
of Cuba. Also the relaxed digital magazine El Estornudo (The Sneeze), or
La Joven Cuba (Young Cuba), websites which opt for a democratic
neo-communism. But all of them with no exceptions are censored by the
regime.

People like Frank, a refrigerator mechanic, consider that "a free press
that is not biased is necessary amid so much corruption, governmental
secretism that does not consider the people and Cubans' need to see
themselves reflected in the media, not as a caricature, but to see their
reality."

Freedom of expression is not in its prime. According to Reporters
without Borders, Cuba is the worst country in the Americas with regards
to the freedom of press. In Mexico, organised crime and the government's
indifference coupled with the deficiency of democratic jurisprudence has
made it impossible to investigate the deaths of various journalists in
the last ten years. Venezuela currently is an open dossier on
understanding how autocratic doctrines work and their congenital
disrespect for the freedom of expression and democracy.

Even the United States, the supposed guardian of liberties, is finding
itself confronted by its unpredictable president Donald Trump who has
classified the media as 'enemies of the people'. Of course, Cuba is worse.

Source: The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to theFreedom of Expression / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-regime-is-an-enemy-to-thefreedom-of-expression-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk only to later write a critical analysis on the state press’s awful performance. “The Cuban press is disgusting. … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to theFreedom of Expression / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk only to later write a critical analysis on the state press’s awful performance. “The Cuban press is disgusting. … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to the Freedom of Expression / Iván García" 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
Cuban man carrying U.S. flag rewrote monotonous script of Havana's
annual celebration
BY MARIO J. PENTÓN
mpenton@elnuevoherald.com

The rehearsals for Havana's annual May Day celebration went on for
weeks. The Plaza of the Revolution was to host hundreds of thousands of
Cubans as they marched past top government leaders in the best Soviet
tradition.

But a man who came out of nowhere rewrote the monotonous script this year.

Self-proclaimed dissident Daniel Llorente waved a large U.S. flag as he
ran down the plaza and demanded freedom at the top of his lungs. His
performance lasted just a few seconds, until security forces tackled and
pummeled him before a shocked audience that included several foreign
journalists.

"He had everything figured out. My father is an educated man. A few days
before he had bought books on the Cold War and the Cuban Missile
Crisis," his son, Eliezer Llorente Perez, 17, recently said by phone
from Havana. "He says that you have to know history to understand what
we're going through."

As he ran in front of the marchers, Llorente shouted, "Freedom for the
Cuban people." His words were drowned out by the official song, produced
by members of the Young Communists' Union, to energize young Cubans long
indifferent to government propaganda.

"This is what I am. It's time to open my heart and show life that this
is what I am," says some of the lyrics to the song titled, "Gallo de
Pelea (Fighting Rooster)."

Seven men carried Llorente out of the plaza. He is currently being held
at the 100 y Aldabo detention center in Havana.

Llorente assured his son that he "was not beaten" but was told by police
that he's been charged with public disorder and resisting arrest and
will remain in jail until his trial, his son said. A trial date has not
been scheduled.

Llorente's anti-government protest was not his first, but it was the
most visible. He also waved the U.S. flag when President Barack Obama
visited Havana last year, and when the cruise ship Adonia first sailed
into Havana harbor. His social network posts claim that he also
protested on Aug. 31, 2016, at the airport when direct U.S.-Cuba
commercial flights resumed.

He was arrested at almost every protest.

"This system has not done anything to benefit the people," he told the
Mexican television channel EjeCentralTV during Obama's visit in March 2016.

"The people are afraid," Llorente said at the time. "Although many
Cubans are afraid to do it, here you do have one who's decided to do it
because I trust Obama's plans for the Cuban people."

Llorente was born in 1963, one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He
traveled to East Germany in the 1980s to study automotive mechanics,
said his former wife, Yudiza Pérez.

"He's very intelligent and has a big heart. He speaks perfect German
because he learned it when he studied about cars there," said Pérez, 39.

"I was married to him for 10 years and I am the mother of his only
child, who is also the only relative he has in this world because the
rest of his family died," she said.

The government-controlled newspaper Granma, official voice of the Cuban
Communist Party, broke the silence it traditionally maintains on
anti-government protests and accused Llorente, without naming him, of
being a convicted criminal who is padding his "opposition" resume to win
U.S. asylum. It also blasted the foreign media for reporting the event.

According to Granma, Llorente was convicted of robbery and sentenced in
2002 to five years in prison.

"It's true that he was in prison, but it was for a crime he did not
commit. Everything they said in the newspaper is pure lies," said his
former wife.

Pérez, who lives in the San Isidro neighborhood in Havana, said the
conviction and prison changed Llorente's life because "he missed out on
his son's childhood and his marriage" for something "that he did not do."

The son, Eliezer, who has studied to be a car mechanic and aspires to be
an actor or model, described his father's absence from the age of 3 as
traumatic.

"I was distanced from my father because he was in prison. We started to
talk after he came out of prison and today he is my best friend,"
Eliezer said. "He is a good father, and was a good son when his mother
was alive."

Llorente drives a taxi at night and financially supports his son, who
lives with his mother and a younger sibling. After he left prison, he
decided to become a "self-employed" dissident — not tied to any group —
and speak out against the government.

"Why did he protest with a U.S. flag? Because he says that's where there
is a true sense of patriotism and family, things that have been lost in
Cuba, that all human values have been lost in Cuba," Eliezer said.

Still, Llorente does not want to leave Cuba.

"I support my father. His biggest hope is for a change in the governing
system," his son said. "He always tells me that he wants to live in
Cuba, but in a free Cuba, with opportunities for all."

Follow Mario J. Pentón on Twitter: @mariojose_cuba

Source: Self-proclaimed Cuban dissident protests with U.S. flag in
Havana | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article149316914.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 — Activist Rosa Maria Payá denounced Monday the arrest of three coordinators of the CubaDecide initiative in Matanzas. The opponents were arrested early in the morning as they headed to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana to welcome Payá, who is promoting the campaign for a plebiscite on the island. The … Continue reading "Cubadecide Activists Arrested A Few Hours Before Rosa Maria Paya Arrives On The Island" 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
Cuba: When "Winning" is Losing
By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES — The violent reaction to the dissident who ran through
Revolution Square carrying a US flag on May Day has been the last of a
series of failed responses.

The guy was beaten up and arrested in the middle of Revolution Square,
during the rally for May Day in front of journalists.

Photographs and videos of the scene have traveled the world over and
this was clearly the opponent's objective. He "stole the show" thanks to
the priceless help he received from those people who jumped on top of
him, grabbing the flag from him and hitting him in front of rolling
cameras which belong to the world's main press agencies.

What would have happened if nobody had got in his way during his speedy
race through the Square? It would have surely not been much more than an
anecdote, which would have supported government discourse when it
accuses dissidents of being mercenaries who serve the star-spangled banner.

Not too long before this event, a young journalism student was kicked
out of the university in Villa Clara, with the official media arguing
that "university is only for revolutionaries." Her photo went around the
world and stirred people's rejection, even from well-known followers of
the Cuban Revolution.

If the CIA's psychological warfare team had to have chosen a case, they
couldn't have done a better job. She was an 18-year-old girl, with the
face of an angel, who was expelled from a Cuban university because she
didn't share the government's ideas, "the perfect victim".

The University of Havana doesn't fall far behind either. Two Economy and
Law professors were dismissed from their jobs for such a malicious deed
as writing for a [non-governmental] media outlet which is legal and has
offices in a building on the Malecon.

Today, Omar Everleny Perez, PhD, continues to live in Cuba but he
travels all over the world, from Japan to the US, pouring out his
economic knowledge in classrooms of different universities, none of
which are Cuban. Who won and lost with this expulsion?

Lawyer Julio Fernandez was forced to choose between continuing to
express his thoughts publicly or to renounce this civil right so that he
could remain a professor at the university. Today, he continues to write
for OnCuba but he no longer teaches at the University.

After the hurricane that hit Baracoa, a group of young Cuban journalists
carried out a public fundraiser and traveled to the region to report on
the natural disaster. The government's response was to arrest them,
thereby converting an insignificant event into international news.

The Periodismo de Barrio journalists were released without the
authorities filing any charges against them. So, why were they arrested?
If they couldn't go into the area, wouldn't it have been enough to just
have stopped them from getting there? Does anybody believe that this
scandal helps Cuba in any way?

I recently received a threat that they would break my teeth if I didn't
start "talking softly". The threat was published by a government
journalist. Is there nobody capable of assessing the damage that such
cockiness does to the image of Cuba?

In Holguin, another scandal made headlines when a colleague, Jose
Ramirez Pantoja, got axed from the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC)
and fired from his job at a local radio station because he reproduced,
on his personal blog, part of a speech the assistant director of the
official Granma newspaper gave at a professional event.

Pressure on young journalists in Villa Clara who collaborate with
digital media platforms (non-governmental) led them to write a public
letter of protest, which has also traveled across the globe. Despite the
cost, these policies remain steadfast.

Extremist blogs, financed by the State, repeat over and over again, that
whoever isn't a revolutionary is a counter-revolutionary, that is to say
that whoever isn't with "them" is their enemy, an opinion which pushes
towards a dangerous social polarization.

These are the same people who are promoting blind unanimity, a
caricature of the true conscious union between human beings. Unity
upheld in diversity is the only glue that can keep the mosaic of a
nation in place.

In 275 BC, General Pyrrhus of Epirus had already understood that some
battles inflict such a devastating toll on the victor that it is
tantamount to defeat. These "Pyrrhic victories" of the most extremist
sectors could lead Cuba down this same route.

Source: Cuba: When "Winning" is Losing - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=125087 Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 3 May 2017 – The independent activist Lia Villares finally traveled to the United States on Wednesday, as confirmed to 14ymedio by the dissident musician Gorki Aguila. On Tuesday, Villares was not able to board her flight to the US, after being detained by the police on her way to the airport. The activist … Continue reading "Lia Villares Finally Makes it to the United States" Continue reading
In the video Llorente Miranda says, “This government has done nothing to help its people.” 14ymedio, Havana, 2 May 2017 – On Tuesday, the official press railed against a citizen who raised an American flag during the May Day parade, and accused him of “building a counterrevolutionary file to emigrate to the United States” (i.e. … Continue reading "Cuba’s Official Press Attempts To Discredit Protester Wrapped In American Flag" Continue reading
How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván García

Iván García,9 April 2017 — They did not put a Makarov pistol to his head
or torture him with electric prods. Let's call him Josué. (The names in
his article have been changed). He is a guy who wears American-made
jeans, listens to jazz by Winton Marsalis on his iPhone 7 and is a
diehard fan of LeBron James.

He used to work at a gasoline station. One day earned the equivalent of
fifty dollars, enough to have some beers at a Havana bar with his
buddies. "One of my friends was an opponent of the regime and two were
independent journalists," says Josué. "That wasn't a problem for me. I
had known them for years and they were decent, trustworthy people. We
talked politics but, when we just hanging out, we usually talked about
sports or our daily lives," says Josué.

One morning two officials from the Department of State Security (DSE),
dressed as civilians and riding motorcycles, showed up at his door.
"They wanted to 'have a friendly chat' with me. They asked if I would
collaborate with them, if I would pass on information about my dissident
friends. When I refused, they threatened to charge me with embezzling
state funds."

"'We know you are stealing gasoline,' they said. 'Either you work for us
or we'll press charges.' At first, I went along with it but only passed
along false information or said that my friends didn't tell me anything
about their work activities. Then they suggested I infiltrate the
dissident movement. I refused. In the end I quit my job at the gas
station. So now they hassle me constantly and come up with any excuse to
arrest and detain me at the police station," say Josué.

For Sheila, an engineer, the modus operandi is familiar: "First, they
tried to blackmail me, accusing me of having an extra-marital affair
with a dissident. When I told them, 'Go ahead; do it,' they changed
tactics and said they were going to charge me with harassment of
foreigners and prostitution because I have a European boyfriend."

One of the objectives of Cuban special services is to "short-circuit"
the connections that so many of the regime's opponents, such as
independent journalists, have with official sources. "They are in a
panic over the possibility that dissidents and independent journalists
are building bridges and establishing networks of trust with employees
and officials at important state institutions. That's why they are
trying to poison the relationships dissidents and journalists have with
relatives, friends and neighbors," claims an academic who has received
warnings from the DSE.

According to this academic, "The DSE will use whatever weapon it can to
achieve its goals. These include blackmail, psychological pressure, a
person's commitment to the party and the Revolution, and threats of
imprisonment for criminal activity, which is not uncommon given that
some potential informants work in the financial or service sector and
often make money by defrauding the government. State Security does not
need to torture its informants. A system of duplicity, widespread
corruption and fear of reprisal are enough to accomplish the objective:
to isolate the opponent from his circle of friends."

Yusdel, an unlicensed bodyshop repairman, recalls how one day an
agent from State Security told him, "If you want to keep your business,
you have to inform on your stepfather," a human rights activist.
"They're pigs," says Yusdel. "It doesn't matter to them if you betray
one of your relatives. If you refuse, you are besieged by the police."

For Carlos jail is a second home. "Once, when I was a serving time at
Combinado del Este prison, a guard asked me to intimidate another
inmate, who was a dissident. 'Punch him, do whatever it takes. Nothing
will happen to you.' In exchange for this, they were going to give me
weekend passes. I said I wouldn't do it. But there are common criminals
who are all too willing to do this shit," says Carlos.

The pressure to become a "snitch" is greater when a government opponent
or an alternative journalist is inexperienced. Because the dissident
community is made up of groups of pacifists and because it operates
openly, it is easy for counterintelligence to infiltrate it and
blackmail dissidents, who can easily break down or crack under
psychological pressure.

With eighteen years' experience in the free press, a colleague who has
known fake independent journalists such as the late Nestor Baguer and
Carlos Serpa Maceira says that ultimately they became informants
"because of pressure exerted on them by State Security."

A professor of history who has been subjected to bullying by an agent
believes, "The revolutionary/counterrevolutionary rhetoric was inspiring
in the first few years after Fidel Castro came to power, when those who
supported the revolutionary process were in the majority. Now, those who
collaborate do not do it out of loyalty or ideology. They do it out of
fear. And that makes them vulnerable and unreliable citizens. Not to
mention that the professionalism of the current DSE officers leaves much
to be desired. Some agents seem marginal and very intellectually unstable."

To achieve its objective, Cuban counterintelligence resorts to extortion
of would-be informants. And in the case of the opposition, to physical
violence. If you have any doubts, just ask the Ladies in White.

Source: How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/how-cuban-state-security-intimidates-potential-informants-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Former CIA Operative Argues Lee Harvey Oswald's Cuba Connections Went Deep
Olivia B. Waxman
Apr 25, 2017

After Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy shortly after
noon on Nov. 22, 1963, things moved quickly. About an hour later, Oswald
fatally shot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. Thirty minutes after
that, police found Oswald and arrested him. Two days later, on Nov. 24,
Jack Ruby shot Oswald. And just a day after the assassination, FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover had already expressed his preliminary finding
that Oswald had acted alone.
The full Warren Commission report would later back up that finding — but
more than a half-century later, polls have found that most Americans are
not convinced of that fact.
That's why former CIA operative Bob Baer launched an investigation into
the declassified government files on the case. As the above clip shows,
on his six-part series JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald — debuting
Tuesday night on the History channel — Baer (seen in the clip above with
former LAPD police lieutenant Adam Bercovici) attempts to demystify the
link between Oswald and Cuban and Soviet operatives. It's no secret
that, for example, Oswald went to a meeting at the Soviet embassy in
Mexico eight weeks before he assassinated JFK, or that he tried to
defect to the Soviet Union in 1959. But Baer pursues those leads, and
further investigates Oswald's connections to the Cuban dissident group
Alpha 66, which had been infiltrated by Cuban intelligence officials who
were reporting their activities back to Fidel Castro's government. His
conclusion is that, while Oswald acted alone when he fired the bullets
that killed the President, his connections to Cuban and Soviet officials
were deeper than is often assumed.
Ahead of the debut of his series, Baer spoke to TIME about why Oswald
could have wanted to work with the Soviets and Cubans:
TIME: Why did you start looking into declassified government files on
Lee Harvey Oswald?
BAER: I went through CIA files on it when I was working there, and there
was Cuban-related stuff that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
When I got into the CIA, George H.W. Bush signed a release [of files] to
me, and the archives came back and said they couldn't find [the files I
requested] anymore. Documents on it that shouldn't have disappeared had
disappeared. So that raised an alarm bell. But what really got me into
it was meeting a defector from Cuba and one of the best agents the CIA
has ever had. He said that on the 22nd of November 1963, four hours
before the assassination, he was at an intelligence site in Havana when
he got a call from Castro's office, saying, "Turn all of your listening
ability to high frequency communications out of Dallas because
something's going to happen there."
What are the biggest revelations in the documentary?
Our hypothesis was that the Cubans knew [about Oswald's plan] in
advance. We have eyewitnesses putting Oswald with Cuban intelligence in
Mexico City. And the last people that Oswald was hanging out with before
the assassination were Alpha 66. I do believe that, after the
assassination, Oswald was heading for a safe house that was owned by
Alpha 66. Now, according to the FBI, CIA and Cuban intelligence sources
we talked to, in November 1963, info about anything that Alpha 66 did in
the U.S. was sent back to Cuba. So if, in fact, Oswald told Alpha 66 he
was going to kill the president — and we do have witnesses saying he
told them this — then Castro knew. And the borders were all shut down at
that point, so our assumption is he was going to this Cuban safe house,
where he had been before. Whether the Cuban dissidents of Alpha 66 knew
he was coming or not, we don't know.

But I do not think that [Castro] furthered the plot. I think the Cuban
dissidents reporting back to Havana informed him that there's this
American, Lee Harvey Oswald, who says he's going to kill the president.
The fact that this stuff has never been looked into I find extraordinary.
Why didn't they?
The Warren Commission did mention it, but they just said that it was a
coincidence that he met with the KGB's head of assassinations for North
America in Mexico City. They didn't look into how peculiar it is for an
American, on a weekend, to meet with three KGB officers during their
time off. The Warren Commission said he only went to the Cuban consulate
in Mexico City and met a local employee. But I believe his Cuban
connections are much deeper than the Warren Commission shows. I think
[the commission] just didn't want to make that public. Johnson told the
FBI that if they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Russians
and the Cubans were involved in this, then they shouldn't drag their
suspicions into the public eye. But they sort of suspected it.
That reminds me of the discussion of whether the FBI should have shared
its news from its investigations into Hillary Clinton's email use or
possible Russian involvement in the campaign prior to the election last
fall. It's this question of how and whether intelligence officials
should talk about something that's still ongoing.
Yeah it's exactly like that; If you can't prove it, don't drag it out to
the public. Except the [Oswald] evidence is stronger than so far what
we've seen on Russia and its connections to the Trump campaign.

What was going on in Cold War history at this point that caused this
controversy to play out the way that it did?
My assumption at the end is that Castro had every reason in the world to
[want to] kill Kennedy. It's risky if there are actual Cuban agents
shooting the President, that's Armageddon, nuclear war. But if you
simply hear rumors of this, you don't do anything. I've seen that happen
in the CIA, where we heard stuff and didn't pass the details to another
government because it was a hostile government.
What about the Soviet side? Did you find any evidence that they
encouraged Oswald?
There's no evidence that the Russians took that risk, providing him
money weapons or training, and I don't think the Russians encouraged
him. What we think is that they were like three times removed. I think
they simply monitored Oswald as best they could. The Russians probably
thought, "We can't afford to deal with an American crazy person," but
Cuban intelligence deals with a lot of crazy people. The Cubans didn't
give money or guns to agents; they were just looking for fellow believers.
Why did Oswald want to defect to the Soviets in the first place?
I think he was at a dead end. He had a broken childhood, and he joined
the Marines to become somebody. He wanted to become a historical figure,
and he thought he deserved to be one. He needed some sort of anchor to
his life and that thing in 1959 was communism. When he gets there [to
the Soviet Union], they don't want him at first. And when they have to
accept him after he attempts suicide, they send them to Minsk. It's sort
of the end of the earth. He's a factory worker, not what he expected at
all, so he comes back. That's the context of the whole series, what was
going through his mind at each one of these steps.
Are there any unanswered questions you still have or now have after
doing the documentary?
I'd look for further confirmation that Cubans knew about this to confirm
our thesis. We don't know exactly what the Cubans told him in Mexico
City — was it to go back to Louisiana and Dallas and tell us what Cuban
dissidents there were doing? And what did Oswald mean when he said he
was a "patsy" when he was being questioned by the Dallas police? A patsy
for whom?I know the general relationship was that Russians and Cubans
shared everything in those days. So did this get back to Moscow? I don't
know, I don't have the evidence. Do I suspect it did? Yes. It's sort of
like if an American went to Syria, spent a month with the Islamic State,
and came back and assassinates the President. Would anyone call him a
lone wolf? That's what happened with Kennedy.

Source: Lee Harvey Oswald and JFK—Documentary Argues Cuba Connection |
Time.com - http://time.com/4753349/oswald-kennedy-declassified-documentary/ Continue reading
Iván García,9 April 2017 — They did not put a Makarov pistol to his head or torture him with electric prods. Let’s call him Josué. (The names in his article have been changed). He is a guy who wears American-made jeans, listens to jazz by Winton Marsalis on his iPhone 7 and is a diehard … Continue reading "How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 April 2017 — In the palace of the Captains General in Havana there is a throne awaiting its king. It was prepared when Cuba was still a Spanish colony and a monarch has never sat in its imposing structure. The visit of Spain’s King Felipe VI visit may end such a long wait, … Continue reading "The King, The President and The Dictator" Continue reading
For Ordinary Cubans, Democracy Isn't a Priority / Iván García

Iván García, 19 April 2017 — When evening falls, Yainier and a group of
friends who live in El Canal, a neighborhood in the Cerro municipality,
20 minutes by car from the center of Havana, grab a table by the door of
an old bodega, and between swigs of rum and Reggaeton, they play
dominoes well into the dawn.

They are six unemployed youths who live by whatever "falls off the back
of a truck." They also sell clothing imported from Russia or Panama,
joints of Creole marijuana and toothpaste robbed the night before from a
local factory.

They note down the domino scores they accumulate in a school notebook.
The duo that gets to 100 points earns 20 pesos, the equivalent of one
dollar, and if they really kick ass, they can earn double that amount.

The winners buy more rum, and between laughter and chatting, they kill
time in a country where the hours seem to have 120 minutes. No one has a
plan for the future.

In the seven or eight hours they pass playing, they usually talk about
women, football or black-market businesses. Politics is not a subject of
conversation.

The dissident, Eliécer Ávila, lives a few blocks away from where they're
playing dominoes. He's an engineer and the leader of Somos Más (We Are
More), an organization that supports democracy, free elections and free
speech.

Probably Ávila is the most well-known dissident among Cubans who drink
their morning coffee without milk. His debate in 2008 with Ricardo
Alarcón, then the president of the one-note national parliament, was a
success on the Island. The concerns of the young computer engineer and
Alarcón's incoherent answers circulated clandestinely on flash drives.

Eliécer, together with Antonio Rodiles, Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Julio
Aleaga Pesant, figure among the most well-prepared dissidents in Cuba.
Born in 1985 in Puerto Padre, Las Tunas, Ávila has leadership qualities
and good speaking skills.

His project goes over the heads of people in the neighborhood, like the
six domino players, who are indifferent to the reality of their country.
How to achieve anything is a problem to solve for a repressed local
opposition, which up to now has no power to convoke a meeting. Without
going farther, in the slum area of Canal, where most inhabitants are
black and deathly poor, almost no one is interested in demanding
inalienable rights in any modern society.

One of those neighbors is Raisán, a mulatto with discolored skin, who
religiously pays his dues to the Cuban Workers Center, the only labor
organization that's authorized on the Island. However, he recognizes
that the Center, which supposedly ensures his salary and labor demands,
doesn't even attempt to manage them.

"Brother, this has to change. You can't live on a salary of 400 Cuban
pesos — around 17 dollars — while it costs 10 times that to eat or dress
yourself," says Raisán, after making a list of the daily hardships that
the government never solves.

There's a dichotomy in Cuba. Ask any Cuban his assessment of the
performance of the State organizations and you can publish several tomes
of complaints. People are tired of political rhetoric. The citizens want
better services, salaries and living conditions. But they don't have the
legal tools to carry out their propositions.

Creating a movement or party that looks out for their interests,
changing the political dynamic and demanding the democratization of
society, continue to be taboo subjects. Although the dissidence requests
these rights, it still hasn't managed to gain the confidence of the
beleagured citizens, for whom the priority is to find food and money
sufficient to allow them to repair their houses, among other needs.

State Security, the political police, short-circuits any initiative that
tries to insert the opposition inside the population. And certainly it's
the fear, typical of a tyrannical regime that has more severe laws for
dissenting than for certain common crimes. Fear is a powerful wall of
containment that repels nonconformists.

Cuban society continues being excessively simulated. It always was.
During the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, after the assault on the
Presidential Palace by the Revolutionary Directorate, March 13, 1957,
the authorities called for an act of reconciliation with the dictator,
and in spite of the rain, 250,000 residents of Havana responded in a
spontaneous manner.

The same thing happened in 1959, after Fidel Castro took power. In
silence, without protesting, Cubans saw how Castro knocked out
democracy, dismantled the legal judicial machinery, buried the free
press, eliminated private businesses and governed the country like a
vulgar autocrat.

The answer to discontent always was to emigrate. A considerable segment
of the citizenry didn't support – nor do they support – those who bet on
peacefully reclaiming their rights, inserting themselves into politics
and denouncing the frequent attacks on human rights.

People prefer to look away or continue coming to the game, seated in the
stands.

To get Cubans to understand that the best solution to their complaints
is democracy, free elections and a coherent and independent judicial
framework, which supports small and medium-sized businesses, until now
has been a subject that stopped with the internal opposition. Which has
tried, but without success.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: For Ordinary Cubans, Democracy Isn't a Priority / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/for-ordinary-cubans-democracy-isnt-a-priority-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 19 April 2017 — When evening falls, Yainier and a group of friends who live in El Canal, a neighborhood in the Cerro municipality, 20 minutes by car from the center of Havana, grab a table by the door of an old bodega, and between swigs of rum and Reggaeton, they play dominoes well … Continue reading "For Ordinary Cubans, Democracy Isn’t a Priority / Iván García" Continue reading
… plebiscite be held in Cuba whereby also Cubans can decide their future … Democratic Party, Carolina Gopic. The Cuban dissident is making a Latin … accident in Cuba in July 2012 along with another Cuban dissident, Harold … an assassination orchestrated by the Havana regime. Continue reading
Cuba opposition candidates say targeted for reprisals
AFP April 12, 2017

Havana (AFP) - Cuban dissidents planning to run in the communist
country's local elections in November have been arrested, threatened and
otherwise harassed by the authorities, one of their leaders said Tuesday.

At least five would-be candidates have been charged with crimes such as
robbery, had their property seized, or been threatened with losing their
jobs, said Manuel Cuesta Morua, spokesman for the opposition Unity
Roundtable for Democratic Action (MUAD).

"They (the authorities) are taking preventive measures so that no
independent citizen who doesn't fit their agenda can run," he told AFP.

The local elections in November kick off an electoral cycle that will
ultimately decide the successor to President Raul Castro.

The next step will be the election of the 612-member National Assembly,
which chooses the all-powerful Council of State, which in turn chooses
the president.

Opposition parties are banned in Cuba, but dissident groups are trying
to sneak the maximum number of Castro opponents into the local polls.

Two opposition candidates managed to stand in the last local elections
in 2015. Neither won.

This year, 109 opposition candidates are prepared to run, according to
Cuesta Morua.

Castro, 85, took over in 2006 from his brother Fidel, Cuba's leader
since 1959.

Raul Castro has steered Cuba toward a very gradual economic opening and
restored ties with its old Cold War enemy the United States.

But opponents say the only communist regime in the Americas still
controls most of the economy, and muzzles free speech and political dissent.

Source: Cuba opposition candidates say targeted for reprisals -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cuba-opposition-candidates-targeted-reprisals-224942848.html Continue reading
'We have an advantage. We're not scared.' A former political prisoner to
run in the 'elections'
YUSIMÍ RODRÍGUEZ LÓPEZ | La Habana | 12 de Abril de 2017 - 12:10 CEST.

'We will take the voter's voice wherever necessary', says José Díaz Silva.

For his anti-Government activism José Díaz Silva has received four jail
sentences totaling 16 years. He is the leader of various internal
dissidence organizations, and frequently ends up in jail. Now he plans
to be a candidate to serve as a Poder Popular (national assembly)
delegate, running on the #Otro18 independent platform, exercising his
right, as stipulated in the Constitution, to elect and to be elected.

Never before had he thought about taking a step of this type. "I do not
belong to the CDR, nor did I use to vote. Years back, we wanted to be
observers. We went here to the Electoral Board close to here, and they
threw us out. I will run here and now because we want to define the
difference between their [pro-Government] candidates and ours," he
explains. In this way, we will not change the system, but we will act as
spokespeople for the community, which complains about its lack of say.
We know that they will (...) describe us as delinquents and
contrarrevolutionaries. They also claim that we are paid by the Empire.
A lie, and they know it," says Díaz Silva.

"I get help from my family in the US: two children (also former
political prisoners, for writing 'down with Fidel', as stated in their
court records), five siblings, and my mother. My wife has five siblings
there. There I have friends there who want to see a free and democratic
Cuba. They help human rights organizations and political prisoners. They
send food," he explains.

Díaz Silva is the president ofOpositores por una Nueva República,a
national delegate of the Movimiento Democracia, a national coordinator
of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Frente de Resistencia y Desobediencia
Civil, and one of the coordinators of the Democratic Action Unity Bureau
(MUAD).

"The way you entered through, I clear it with a mower I brought from the
United States. Where is the money assigned for that? It is robbed by
Áreas Verdes, Comunales, the municipal government. They report that the
highway is kept clean. But it is cleaned by a human rights activist," he
explains.

"We want to know where the budget assigned to each municipality goes,
which comes from taxes," he affirms.

He is already suffering retaliation for his intention to run for office
in his district.

"They have threatened us, telling us that they could easily tie us up in
the courts, which would prevent us from exercising our right. Manuel
Velásquez Licea and Eduardo Herrera Hernández, also candidates, have
been incarcerated for the past six months", he explains.

"On Tuesday, 28 March, at 4:35 a.m., they knocked on my door. They came
to conduct a search. The paper indicated 'electronic equipment and
others.' To make it legal, they have to look for something specific. The
witnesses were people they have used before to carry out acts of
rejection, brought from Santiago de las Vegas. This is a violation, as
the witnesses must be from the community," he complains.

"I told them to wait, as I was going to get cleaned up. They kicked the
door in. They injured my hand and fingers, throwing me against the wall.
My head was swollen, but it subsided. I bled from my nose. They
handcuffed me. They burned our brochures. They took books, legal
documents (like sentences), two laptops, a mini laptop belonging to my
daughter, and another to my granddaughter, a disk drive, CDs; money,
mine and my daughter's; two chains worth some 1,200 CUC, my pressure
gauging device, two little short-wave radios, a printer, a television
set antenna, a large television set that my son bought and that entered
legally, through Customs. They left the one in the living room. They
broke the door to my daughter's room, to which I do not have a key. She
came when the neighbors told her, and they wouldn't let her in. From the
refrigerator they took a tin of Spam, packages of noodles, six or seven
bars of chocolate, and two of peanut butter, sent for the prisoners," he
explains.

"The police officers' ID numbers were 29140 and 29113, two captains. And
lieutenant 29156. There was an official from the MININT who, while the
search was carried out, lit up a cigarette. I told him that he was
showing a lack of respect, that in my house nobody smoked. He went
outside to smoke, very annoyed, and when he returned he said to me: 'you
people, for us, you are animals, dogs, and we are going to do away with
you.' I asked why he didn't say that on television, so that the people
could know their position. He responded: 'that's just what you'd like.'"

Díaz Silva says that he was taken to Santiago de las Vegas. The
authorities, he indicates, made eight copies of what they took from his
house, but did not give him one.

State Security agents Bruno and Raymo, who had threatened him before,
said to him: 'Have you seen how what we said is happening?'" the
activist recalls.

"The police fined me for handling stolen goods. They let me go the next
day, a 6:00 in the afternoon. Here there are no laws. They could kill us
and nothing would happen."

Do you think any members of your community will dare to nominate or vote
for you?

A family told me that they were going to nominate me. But it remains to
be seen, as they can take measures against the family… but residents
told me that I can count on their votes, and I think that they will dare
to follow through. When the Police entered my house, some neighbors
expressed their indignation to me. It was they who alerted my daughter.
And they are not dissenters.

Many presidents of the CDR and women with the Federation (FMC) approach
us, as dissidents, to tell us that we have their votes." There are even
police who tell us to "continue fighting, because you are right. They
see that what the regime says, that we are delinquents, is a lie.

How did Fidel and Raúl deal with this? With force. They killed. They
killed police heads, informers. It is in the documentaries that they
broadcast. We don't do those things. We are pursuing what Fidel Castro
claimed he wanted in History will Acquit Me: a state based on the rule
of law.

Traditional delegates, many eager to work, face barriers, like the lack
of resources. Will a dissident be able to do more for the community?

We don't promise anything, and we don't have conditions. After all, the
system is our enemy. But we will take the voice of the voter wherever it
is necessary. The community's vote will give us the right us to demand
solutions to problems before bodies. In this way we have an advantage,
because we are not scared, and we know the laws a little better.

In spite of your intention to run, you say that the way to remove the
Castros' Communist regime from power is with people in the streets.

They will always look for mechanisms to thwart anything that we do. We
have the example of Oswaldo Payá. It was necessary to change the law,
because he presented the signatures. I was a promoter of the Varela
Project. When it reached [the National Assembly], they said that the
Cuban socialist system was irrevocable, and the Constitution said so.
They mocked what they themselves had written, because they wrote that
Constitution and Penal Code. Now they will do the same thing, but this
is a way to tell the people that we have the right to change this
through peaceful channels.

Source: 'We have an advantage. We're not scared.' A former political
prisoner to run in the 'elections' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1491991825_30312.html Continue reading
Cuban dissidents planning to run in … . Opposition parties are banned in Cuba, but dissident groups are trying … 2006 from his brother Fidel, Cuba's leader since 1959. Raul Castro has steered Cuba toward a very gradual economic … Continue reading
Eliécer Ávila, The 'New Man' Who Became An Opponent

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 8 April 2017 – Walking along the
streets with Eliécer Ávila can be a complicated task. His face is well
known thanks to a viral video broadcast almost a decade ago. However,
before fame came into his life, this young man born in Las Tunas was a
model "New Man": the most finished product of ideological indoctrination.

Like all Cuban children, Avila shouted slogans during his school's
morning assembly, participated in countless repudiation activities
"against imperialism" and dreamed of resembling Ernesto 'Che'
Guevara. But while, in school, they taught him the social achievements
that the Revolutionary process brought to the population, at home
reality was stubborn and showed itself to be something quite different.

The residents of Yarey de Vázquez – the Puerto Padre municipality of
Puerto Padre where the leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement was
born – are poor, the kind of poverty that grabs you by the throat. A
place lost in nothingness, where many families still use latrines for
their bodily needs, and live in houses with roofs made of palm fronds.

Surrounded by pigs, chickens and tedium, Avila realized that his life
did not resemble the official version he was being taught. Born in 1985,
in the middle of that "golden decade" when the Soviet Union was propping
up the island, he was barely walking a year later when Fidel Castro
ordered the closing of the free farmers markets in the midst of the
"Process of Rectification of Errors and Negative Tendencies."

Eliécer Avila reached puberty during what was called the Special
Period. With the voracity that still characterizes him, he faced many
days of his adolescence with his plate half full, or almost empty. He
hand stitched the shoes he wore to school, invented all kinds of
"outfits" from his grandfather's old shirts, and turned off the light
when it was time to strip down to his underwear, so no one could see the
holes.

With a natural leadership quality, in which a certain humor mixes with
an undeniable histrionic capacity to narrate anecdotes, the young man
made his way through those years without climbing aboard a raft to
escape the country or ending up in jail. Those who knew him predicted a
future in politics, because of those "fine lips" that helped him in
student meetings and in romantic conquests.

A little bit later, luck smiled on him. He was able to enroll in the
University of Computer Sciences (UCI), founded in 2002 in the middle of
the Battle of Ideas. UCI was located on the site that had once been the
Center for Exploration and Radioelectronics Listening, known as the
Lourdes SIGNIT Station, where until 2001 Russia – and the Soviet Union
before it – had had its largest spy station outside its borders. UCI was
a school for trusted young people to become computer soldiers for a
Revolution that fears the Internet.

While a student at UCI, Avila led Operation Truth. His task was to
monitor digital sites and blogs critical of the Government. In those
spaces, the young revolutionary sharpened his arsenal of tools for
political struggle that included everything from hacking to the
execution of the reputation of anyone who opposed the Plaza of the
Revolution.

Little by little, like acid that filters through the cracks, those
anti-government arguments he read on the web began to sink into his mind
and mingle with his own disagreements. Restless, in 2008 he took his
turn at the microphone during a visit to UCI of Ricardo Alarcón, then
president of the National Assembly. The minutes of that public
appearance that followed marked the rest of his life.

The video of the collision between Ávila and Alarcón jumped to first
place in the hit parade on the clandestine networks that distributed
audiovisuals. No one wanted to miss it, especially the moment when the
leader of Parliament justified the travel restrictions imposed on Cubans
by saying how congested the skies might be, if everyone were allowed to
board an airplane.

Now, nine years later, the young activist prefers not to be called
"Eliécer, the one who debated with Alarcon," but for the rest of his
life it will be his most important letter of introduction to millions of
Cubans. His challenge of power, with simple questions and a firm voice,
has been one of the most accurate and best documented gestures of
rebellion in almost six decades of Castroism.

After that, he received his punishment. After graduating, the
authorities sent him to a remote Youth Computer Club to purge his
audacity. It was the decisive moment in which he decided to cross the
red line towards independence. He left the state sector, founded the
Somos+ Movement and relocated to Havana. One audacious act after another.

The attacks rained down from all sides. State Security raised the level
of pressure on his environment, traditional opposition leaders threw
darts at the upstart, and there was no shortage of those who claimed
that he was only a mole for the political police disguised as a dissident.

Since then, Ávila has tried to give shape to a civic discourse that uses
new technologies and a less politicized language, closer to the concerns
of ordinary people. But, like every dissident, he is caught in the grip
of charges of illegal action, subjected to constant vigilance and
assigned the halo of demonization imposed on anyone who does not applaud
power.

The numerous trips abroad that he has made since the Travel and
Immigration Reforms of 2013 have allowed him to know the world, only to
discover that the most exciting and indecipherable of the territories
that await him is located in the future Cuba. That country so many have
dreamed of and that is taking so long to arrive.

Recently he went a step further and announced that he was prepared to
represent the electors of his constituency as a delegate. A somewhat
remote possibility, given the oiled mechanisms of control over the
People's Assemblies maintained by the ruling party where, by show of
hands, the attendees must nominate the potential candidates.

This week, the guajiro of Yarey de Vázquez has crossed another line. A
public protest at José Martí International Airport has resulted in his
house being searched, and him being arrested and charged with "illicit
economic activity." The trigger was the seizure of his laptop at Customs
when he returned from Colombia.

Now, it is expected that the siege around the young leader and his
Somos+ Movement will continue to close. Nothing is more disturbing to a
system that has played with social alchemy than a creature from its own
ideological laboratory turning against it. Eliécer Ávila will be doubly
punished because power acts with more fury against its own, when it rebels.

More articles in English by and about Eliécer Ávila can be read here.
http://translatingcuba.com/category/authors/eliecer-avila/
With online translation:
http://www.cubaverdad.net/weblog/?s=eliecer+avila

Source: Eliécer Ávila, The 'New Man' Who Became An Opponent –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/eliecer-avila-the-new-man-who-became-an-opponent/ Continue reading