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Ivan Garcia, 30 October 2017 — The leaden sky presaging rain did not stop Hector, 79, from roasting chicken breasts and a snapper over charcoal. In his house in Víbora Park in the Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood in the south of Havana, the atmosphere was festive. His brother Humberto, who has lived in Canada for 20 years, was visiting … Continue reading "How Cubans Remember the Missile Crisis / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar and Zunilda Mata, Havana, 18 September 2017 — Black smoke from charcoal rises from an improvised fire in Dinora’s yard, which is close to the area most affected by Hurricane Irma in Caibarién, in the province of Villa Clara. In addition to half her house being on the ground, her new problem now … Continue reading "Charcoal, the Expensive and Only Cooking Fuel After Irma" Continue reading
Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 29 May 2017 —  Yes, General, on this point I entirely agree with you: “The enemy uses ever more sophisticated information weapons”. He clearly is the enemy; the one who stubbornly opposes all my people’s progress; the one who brazenly deprives them of their rights; who obliges them to live in misery; … Continue reading "Talking With The Enemy / Jeovany Jimenez Vega" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 24 July 2017 — In a crowded bus, two women discuss who is entitled to the disabled seat. While one carries a cane, the other shows an ID card from the Cuban Association of Limited Physical Engines (Aclifim), an official entity with more than 74,000 associates that sets ideological requirements (i.e. fidelity … Continue reading "A Group Of People With Disabilities Organizes Outside The Cuban State" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 24 June 2017 — Independent journalist Sol García Basulto is under new restrictions of movement after police imposed a “precautionary measure of house arrest” during an interrogation held Monday in the city of Camagüey. The 14ymedio correspondent responded to a police summons at ten o’clock in the morning. First lieutenant Yusniel Pérez Torres, from the criminal … Continue reading "Police Impose “House Arrest” On Journalist Sol García Basulto" Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 June 2017 — Independent communicators in Cuba are victims of an escalating repression, according to a complaint filed Monday by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid. The alarm sounded by the organization coincides with an increase in complaints from journalists on the island as a result of … Continue reading "Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba" Continue reading
The Cuban Republic: Buried by Official Decree / Iván García

Iván García, 24 May 2017 — May 20 of this year with mark the 115th
anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Cuba. In the Throne Room of
the Palace of the Captains General, a building which now serves as the
City Museum, Tomás Estrada Palma — born in Bayamo in 1835, died in
Santiago de Cuba in 1908 — would go down in history as the first
popularly elected president of the republic.

With heat bouncing on the asphalt so intensely that even stray dogs seek
shelter under covered walkways, I go out to inquire about the May 20
anniversary.

Four pre-university students in their blue uniforms have skipped class
to go to Córdoba Park, a free wifi zone in the 10 de Octubre district.
They want to check out their Facebook wall, chat with relatives in Miami
and read the latest soccer blog from the Spanish newspaper Marca.

Though the heat is stifling, the young men do not even notice it. They
are eating ice cream cones, joking, gesturing and shouting at each
other. Striking up a conversation with them is easy. They are
seventeen-years-old and all four of them say that they hope to go to
college when they finish high school. When I ask them if they know on
what date the Republic of Cuba was founded, they hesitate and look at
each other, trying to come up with a correct answer.

"January 1, right?" two of them respond simultaneously.

"You guys are so dumb," says another, mocking his cohorts. "Independence
day is 10 October, when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes freed his slaves."

Another justifies his ignorance with the excuse that he does not like
history. "That subject is a drag. You mechanically learn to answer exam
questions like that, but the next day no one remembers the dates or what
they commemorate."

A man selling popcorn, who has been eavesdropping on the conversation,
sums it up by saying, "There are a lot of opinions on this topic.
Whether it was January 1 or October 10. But I think it was 1492, when
Christopher Columbus discovered the island."

It seems only academicians, professors, students of history and
well-informed citizens can explain the significance of May 20, 1902 in
the context of national history. Most Cubans are unaware of it. Keep in
mind that around 70% of the current population was born after 1959.

For people over the age of sixty-five like Giraldo — from his wheelchair
he asks people walking along the side streets of the nursing home where
he lives for cigarettes and money — the date brings back fond memories.

"It was the most important day of the year," he says. "The tradition was
to debut a new pair of shoes and a change of clothes. Cuban flags were
hung from balconies. I would go with my parents and brothers to Puerto
Avenue. In Central Park there were public concerts by the municipal
band. The atmosphere was festive. But this government erased it all from
popular memory. Now the dates that are celebrated are those that suit them."

While Cubans living in Miami enthusiastically celebrate May 20, in Cuba
it is a day like any other. That is how the military regime wants it.

Dictatorships have a habit of manipulating events. Just as the official
narrative would have us believe that José Martí was an admirer of
Marxist theories, so too does a military confrontation take on aspects
of science fiction. This is what happened in 1983 in Granada. According
to the Castros' version of events, during the invasion of the country by
U.S. forces, a group of Cuban workers sacrificed themselves while
clutching the Grenadian flag.

For Cuba's ruling military junta, the past is something to be erased.
Economic, urban infrastructure and productivity gains achieved in the
more than half century that the republic existed do not matter.

In an article published in Cubanet, independent journalist Gladys
Linares recalls that in 1902, as a result of the war for independence,
"agriculture, livestock and manufacturing were in a disastrous state. In
a gesture of great sensitivity, Estrada Palma's first action was to pay
members of the Liberation Army and to pay off the war bonds issued by
the Republic in Arms. To do this, he secured a loan from an American
lender, Speyer Bank, for $35 million at 5% interest, which had already
been repaid by 1943."

For its part, EcuRed, the Cuban government's version of wikipedia,
states that "Estrada Palma was noted for being extremely thrifty during
his presidency (1902-1906). In 1905 the Cuban treasury held the
astonishing sum of 24,817,148 pesos and 96 centavos, of which the loan
accounted for only 3.5 million pesos. The accumulation of so much money
compelled Estrada Palma to invest in public works. The government
allotted 300,000 pesos to be used in every province for the construction
of roads and highways as well as more than 400,000 for their upkeep and
repair.

The state-run press labels this period with the derogatory term
"pseudo-republic" or "hamstrung republic."

"They have done everything imaginable to obviate or destroy it. From
producing television programs such as "San Nicolás del Peladero," which
ridiculed the venal politicians of the time, to minimizing the advances
in material well-being achieved by various sectors of society. But when
you review economic statistics from the period 1902 to 1958, you realize
that, despite imperfections, there was more growth," says a retired
historian.

He adds, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. The Republic
of Cuba was founded on May 20, 1902. In the future, setting ideology
aside, May 20 should be included in the schedule of national holidays
and should be celebrated once again. Everything began on that day."

That remains to be seen. For the moment, new (and not so new)
generations are unaware of the significance of May 20.

This ignorance, a willful act of forgetting, is part of the late Fidel
Castro's strategy of building a nation from the ground up, burying its
customs and values, rewriting history to suit his aims. And he succeeded.

Source: The Cuban Republic: Buried by Official Decree / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-republic-buried-by-official-decree-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Independent journalist detained in eastern Cuba
June 23, 2017 5:12 PM ET

New York, June 23, 2017--Cuban authorities should immediately release
independent journalist Manuel Alejandro León Velázquez and return his
equipment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. State
security forces and Interior Ministry officials detained León Velázquez
around 4 p.m. yesterday in the eastern province of Guantánamo, according
to his news website Diario de Cuba and the Cuban Institute for Freedom
of Expression and the Press.

The journalist's neighbor, Isael Poveda, told Diario de Cuba that he saw
authorities arrive at León Velázquez's home with an order to confiscate
"counter-revolutionary" equipment. According to Poveda, who is an
opposition activist, police arrested León Velázquez and took a computer,
a Sony camera, a copy of the Cuban constitution, and work documents from
the journalist's home. CPJ was unable to determine what documents were
confiscated.

"Independent journalists in Cuba should be able to work without the
constant threat of arbitrary detention," said CPJ Senior Program
Coordinator for the Americas Carlos Lauría. "Cuban authorities should
release Manuel Alejandro León Velázquez and return his equipment
immediately."

León Velázquez covers general news in Guantánamo and other eastern Cuban
states for the independent news website Diario de Cuba. Normando
Hernández, director of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and
the Press, told CPJ today the organization is aware of the case, and has
spoken with León Velázquez's editor, who confirmed the arrest.

León Velázquez has been detained on several occasions, including in
October 2016 while reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, and
in February 2017, when police detained him for two hours at a checkpoint
on the border between Guantánamo and Santiago de Cuba province, Diario
de Cuba reported.

A September 2016 CPJ special report on press freedom in Cuba found that
independent journalists there continue to face the threat of arbitrary
detention, and that vague and outdated laws and limitations on internet
access continue to slow progress on press freedom.

Source: Independent journalist detained in eastern Cuba - Committee to
Protect Journalists -
https://cpj.org/2017/06/independent-journalist-detained-in-eastern-cuba.php Continue reading
Iván García, 24 May 2017 — May 20 of this year with mark the 115th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Cuba. In the Throne Room of the Palace of the Captains General, a building which now serves as the City Museum, Tomás Estrada Palma — born in Bayamo in 1835, died in … Continue reading "The Cuban Republic: Buried by Official Decree / Iván García" Continue reading
Reinaldo Escobar: The Unqualified Cuban Truth / Somos+

Somos+, Leyla Belo, 23 MACH 2017 — Those who ever speak with Reinaldo
cannot deny his innate genius, his sense of humor and gentleness of
expression. A matter of decorum, isn't it? That quality which is so
scarce among many people nowadays. He does what he considers to be his
duty: to disassemble our Island from within, dreaming that some of us,
or all of us together, will fix it. Each one of his writings brims with
endless sensibility, while leaving to others the use of easy adjectives
and trivial cruelties. A committed journal¡ist; of the kind of those no
longer living, because his commitment is not centered around one man but
around his Cuba, his suffering Cuba.

You had nearly two decades of work in official media under your belt.
When did you decide to take another path and why?

When I was supposed to graduate from the School of Journalism in 1971,
there was a "purge" at the University of Havana which meant the
expulsion and punishment of several students. My "punishment," caused by
my "ideological issues," consisted of working for a year for a tabloid
by the name of El Bayardo, which was part of Columna Juvenil el
Centenario, a youth brigade (a forerunner of the Youth Working Army), in
Camagûey province. I stayed there until mid-1973.

After serving out my sentence I was placed with Revista Cuba
Internacional where, according to my colleague Norberto Fuentes, we were
involved in "sugarcoating." I worked there until mid-1987, when I
transferred to the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, inspired by the Soviet
glasnost, and thought that we would be able to engage in a different
type of journalism in Cuba. I tried to do so with the best of
intentions, and the result was that I was expelled from the newspaper in
1988 and disqualified from exercising the profession on the Island.
Thus, some 18 years elapsed between mid-1971 and 1988 when I was engaged
in official journalism.

I began working as an independent journalist in January, 1989, which was
referred to at that time as "freelance" journalism, and contributed to
several European publications by writing about Cuban subjects.

You are the founder of 14ymedio and are its Editor in Chief. How
difficult is it to engage in serious journalism in an underground media?

The 14ymedio newspaper is not an underground newspaper. If I were to
label it at all, I would rather call it an independent or unofficial
newspaper. The best definition is that we are a digital, non-subsidized,
non-printed newspaper.

That definition is essential to explain its difficulties. The problem
other media have in securing ink and paper is experienced by us in
achieving Internet connectivity. The largest volume of information flow
is with our correspondents in the provinces and with other associates
through the Nauta webmail network, which is slow and government-controlled.

The other difficulty is the scarcity of journalists who meet the
appropriate requirements, as the first characteristic is for them to
have the professional sensibility to sense everything which is really
newsworthy. The second characteristic is to be able to truthfully and
appealingly write in any journalistic genre, while checking with
reliable sources. The third element is for them to dare to face the
risks stemming from the threats by the political police.

At times those threats materialize into specific events which physically
render it difficult to perform our job.

Current independent journalism (most of it) does not stem from a
"passion" when dealing with the news.

One of the distinctive features of the current, independent journalism
is the short distance that exists between many of its reporters and
political activism. Arbitrary detentions, beatings, searches, evictions
and everything that contributes to a true picture of a typical
dictatorship seems to be the only thing of interest to that type of
journalism. This can be explained because such news is absent from
official media, and to counteract the official media monopoly on
information is one of the raisons d'être of independent media. The
passion is inherent to the nature of this reporting, hence the (always
unnecessary) profusion of adjectives.

Independent journalism should also focus on other matters, such as the
growing presence of entrepreneurs, and it should look at those
–apparently insignificant– signs of defiance by our plastic artists,
filmmakers, writers, humorists and musicians.

Authorized press in Cuba is subsidized by the Cuban Communist Party
(PCC). In your opinion, what would be the ideal management paradigm for
the media?

I do not think there is an ideal management paradigm for the media.

The issue of media ownership is a complex matter. When it is
privately-owned, under a market system, information becomes one more
item of merchandise and "what sells" gains visibility over "what needs
to be reported." When management is in state hands and does not depend
on advertisers, the media often becomes boring and doctrinaire. In
addition, there is public management, which is somewhat different from
state management in that it is governed by the readership.

Even though it is not noticed at first glance, the official broadcasting
media in Cuba are privately-owned and are the monopoly of the Communist
Party. If we understand that the concept of ownership specifically
refers to the decision-making capacity and add to the aspect of material
responsibility for what is owned, there is no question that the official
media owner is the PCC, which designates the management staff,
establishes the editorial line, manages material resources and pays the
salaries.

Earnings are not measured in terms of money as under a market system,
but in terms of the achieved control over the population, which only
finds out about what those media report if they are privileged enough to
connect to other media. It is acceptable for a political party to own
its own publication, but it not acceptable for that party, having
exclusive access to power in the name of the law, to use State funds to
pay the cost of its media and, in addition, to take upon itself the
right of prohibiting the existence of its competitors.

Eventually, we will have private newspapers and magazines in Cuba,
perhaps full of advertisements, police-blotter journalism and trivial
news about the world of show business; civil society institutions will
manage their own media and perhaps there will be a public TV channel
where people will learn about the debates in Parliament.

You interviewed the Law student expelled from Cienfuegos University. How
do you define his action?

This young man only exercised his sacrosanct right to free expression
when answering the test questions. If a student is asked on a test what
his opinion is regarding a specific subject, whoever grades the test has
to refrain from his or her political prejudices, otherwise they should
pose the questions with more honesty, such as, "What do you think I
would be pleased to hear regarding such subject?"

You were detained a few months ago while a Spanish journalist
was interviewing you. Was that another violation of the freedom of
expression?

During the days of mourning following the death of former president
Fidel Castro, I was interviewed by journalist Vicent Sanclemente, from
Televisión Española. I do not think I was being followed at that
particular time, but "they" were just highly-strung. Maybe the informant
who was keeping an eye by the Malecón sea wall thought my answers to be
inappropriate. When this young man reported to his superiors that there
was a Cuban guy saying strange things to a foreign journalist, the
person who got the report was compelled to fulfill his duty. Something
"natural" in our environment.

Violating the freedom of expression is expressed in the most acute way
when, for instance, our 14ymedio.com newspaper becomes inaccessible to
the domestic servers providing Internet browsing service.

The official discourse boasts of freedom of expression in Cuba. Yet the
reality is different.

Once, I do not remember the exact date, Mr. Carlos Lage maintained that
there was total freedom of thought in Cuba… and it is true. What happens
is, as Friedrich Engels used to say, "the word is the material wrapping
of thought," so that it is totally worthless for someone to come up with
a political formula if he or she cannot in absolute calmness expound
upon it to all of his or her followers.

Freedom of expression, exercised in its public environment, is the best
guarantee that all rights to which people are entitled are fulfilled,
including, naturally, the right to education, public health and social
security.

Translated by: Anonymous

Source: Reinaldo Escobar: The Unqualified Cuban Truth / Somos+ –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/reinaldo-escobar-the-unqualified-cuban-truth-somos/ Continue reading
Somos+, Leyla Belo, 23 MACH 2017 — Those who ever speak with Reinaldo cannot deny his innate genius, his sense of humor and gentleness of expression. A matter of decorum, isn’t it? That quality which is so scarce among many people nowadays.  He does what he considers to be his duty: to disassemble our Island from … Continue reading "Reinaldo Escobar: The Unqualified Cuban Truth / Somos+" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 25 Havana, 25 April 2017 — The independent magazine El Estornudo (The Sneeze) has denounced Monday’s detention of its collaborator Maykel González Vivero. The young journalist was detained at Marta Abreu de las Villas Central University, while reporting on the expulsion of journalism student Karla Pérez González. The digital site asserts that the reporter “did not at any … Continue reading "Independent Journalist Arrested For Investigating The Case Of Karla Pérez González" Continue reading
Cuban Counterintelligence Plays Hardball with Journalists / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 17 April 2017 — Money is no object. When it comes to
thwarting, harassing and repressing intellectuals or journalists, there
are always enough funds in military's coffers to write a blank check.

Solid numbers are hard to come by but, according to conservative
estimates, Cuba's special services and armed forces account for roughly
35% of the nation's paltry GDP.

There is never a shortage of fuel, guesthouses, vacation homes, medical
clinics or surveillance equipment for monitoring alleged
counterrevolutionaries.

It is mistakenly believed that the top priority of the Special Services
is the fragmented domestic opposition, which can never turn out more
than a few followers for any public gathering. Meanwhile, the brave
fighters at the barricades are kept in line by punches, karate chops and
detention in damp, filthy jail cells.

The real danger for the government, and for counterintelligence as well,
are high-level officials. "They are like laboratory guinea pigs, always
under observation. Their phone calls, internet traffic, contacts with
foreigners, sexual preferences and personal tastes are monitored. They
cannot escape electronic surveillance even in the bathroom," says a
former intelligence officer with experience listening in.

As in the German film The Lives of Others, people with meaningful
positions in government, the armed forces, international trade and the
foreign ministry are under tight scrutiny. The next most heavily
monitored group of individuals — more closely monitored even than
dissidents — are those in the world of arts and letters and the sciences.

"The method for dealing with outspoken opposition figures is to
intimidate them, pressuring them with physical and psychological abuse,
or simply incarcerating them. We know how they think. But individuals
such as writers, musicians, scientists, researchers and
government-employed journalists are like a knife with two edges. Many
are silent dissidents. They often lead double lives. In assemblies,
government offices and newsrooms they appear to be loyal to the system.
At home they are budding counterrevolutionaries," observes the former
intelligence officer.

According to this source, agents are well-trained. "They focus on
managers, officials and employees of important state institutions.
Recent graduates of the Higher Institute of the Ministry of the Interior
are assigned to dissidents and independent journalists. They are more
adept at using physical and verbal violence than intellectual arguments."

In my twenty-years working as an independent journalist, State Security
has summoned me for questioning five or six times. On other occasions
the interviews were more casual. A guy would park his motorcycle outside
my building or near my house, as though he were a friend, and calmly
chat with me or my mother, Tania Quintero, who now lives in Switzerland
as a political refugee and who was also an independent journalist.

He said his name was Jesús Águila. A blond, Caucasian young man, he had
the air of an Eton graduate. When he became annoying, as when he would
call or visit us to discuss our case or would harass my sister at work,
Tania would threaten him with a ceramic mug and he would flee the scene.

One afternoon in the late 1990s I was questioned at a police station by
a high-ranking, rather refined official. Then, on an unbearably hot
morning in 2010, I was questioned at a branch of Special Troops near the
Reloj Club on Boyeros Avenue by officials from Military Counterintelligence.

The site where I was interviewed was an interrogation cubicle located in
a holding area for inmates. I had written a couple of articles for the
Americas edition of the Spanish newspaper El Mundo on meddling by senior
military officers in businesses and corporations. According to my
interrogators, the Cuban armed forces did not like the image these
articles created of military institutions. In a hollow threat, they told
me that I could charged with violating a law — I do not remember which
one — against disrespecting the "glorious and undefeated revolutionary
armed forces."

But ultimately it only amounted to intimidation. For six years they did
not bother me. They denied me access whenever I tried to cover something
at which operatives from State Security were present but they never
detained me. Then, three weeks ago, they questioned a few of my friends
whom they suspected of being sources for my articles.

I wrote one piece in which I said that, if they wanted to know anything
about me, they could call me in for questioning. Apparently, they read
it because on April 4 they summoned me to appear the next day at a
police station in Havana's Lawton district.

There I encountered two pleasant, mixed-race and educated young men. I
cannot say much else about them. I told them that what is needed — once
and for all and by everyone — is open dialogue, to acknowledge the
opposition and to try to find a solution to the national disaster that
is Cuba today by following the path of democracy. While the officers did
not promise tolerance, they did remain silent.

Three days later, one saw the flip side of the coin. As had happened for
ninety-seven Sundays, a mob dressed in civilian clothes was incited by
State Security to stage a verbal lynching of the Ladies in White House
near the police station in Lawton where I had been questioned.

From January to March of 2017 the political police made 1,392 arrests
and in some cases confiscated work materials and money from independent
journalists and human rights activists.

They harass people with little rhyme or reason. A group of reporters
from Periodismo del Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism), an online journal
which focuses on environmental issues and vulnerable communities, or a
neo-Communist blogger like Harold Cardenas are as likely to be targeted
as an overtly anti-Castro figure like Henry Constantin, regional
vice-president of the Inter-American Press Society.

With ten months to go before Raul Castro hangs up his gloves, the
Special Services' game plan is poised to undergo a 180-degree
turnaround. Using its contacts, it could establish a channel of
communication between dissidents and the government, which could serve
as a first step towards the ultimate legal resolution of Cuba's
political problems.

But I fear that democracy is not one of the Cuban regime's top priorities.

Source: Cuban Counterintelligence Plays Hardball with Journalists / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-counterintelligence-plays-hardball-with-journalists-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 April 2017 — Money is no object. When it comes to thwarting, harassing and repressing intellectuals or journalists, there are always enough funds in military’s coffers to write a blank check. Solid numbers are hard to come by but, according to conservative estimates, Cuba’s special services and armed forces account for roughly 35% … Continue reading "Cuban Counterintelligence Plays Hardball with Journalists / Iván García" Continue reading
Exercising Independent Journalism In Cuba Is A State Crime / Iván García

Iván García, 30 March 2017 — Fear has the habit of first knocking on
your door. On any night, in a work center or a house, an official of
State Security can give a citizen an official citation with an
intimidating look.

It could be your sister, a close relative, childhood friends or a
neighbor. The strategy is always the same. The assassination of the
dissident journalist's reputation by combining half-truths with
treacherous lies.

They play all their cards. From one's commitment to the Revolution to
blackmail and social isolation.

Since I began a relationship with my wife, a telecommunications
engineer, her professional career has been stalled. They control her
email and the contents of her work through a magnifying glass. The same
thing happens with friends who collaborate on my journalistic notes.
It's an insolent and arbitrary harassment.

The political policy officials in Cuba know they have an all-reaching
power. They perform, Olympically, the violation of their own laws of
autocracy.

An official of the National Revolutionary Police told me about the
problems the State Security agents cause among their staff instructors.
"They consider themselves to be above good and evil. They come into the
unit and mobilize personnel and resources to detain or repress someone
in the opposition. Or they take over an office without even asking
permission. They're a bunch of thugs."

If you want to know the methods they use to create tensions among
families and friends and to cause marital problems, I recommend that you
see the documentary on political prisoners in Cuba, Avatares de la
familia, made by Palenque Visión and recently premiered in Miami.

When someone gets involved in peaceful dissidence or exercises
independent journalism, the family pays the price. If it's not enough to
create concern when a mother, father, spouse or son isn't going to sleep
at home one night; the treacherous State Security tries to dynamite
intimate relations with accusations of marital infidelity.

The Regime surely washes its hand like Pontius Pilate when it declares,
in international forums, that the Island doesn't assassinate the
opposition or independent journalists. But the fabrication of files with
false proof is also a punishable crime.

The beatings of dissident women on public streets or in front of their
children have increased. The occupation of work teams and the harassment
of independent journalists have become a habitual practice of the
political police.

Creed, religion or ideology doesn't matter. It's the same repression for
neo-communist bloggers like Harold Cárdenas (El Toque Cuba), foreign
correspondents like Fernando Rasvberg (Cartas Desde Cuba) or pure
reporters like Elaine Díaz, who founded a digital newspaper (Periodismo
de Barrio), which covers the country's vulnerable communities.

For Raúl Castro's government, disagreeing is a symptom of
insubordination and the first step toward dissidence. In the midst of
the 21st century, the olive-green State affirms its right to give
permission about what should be written or expressed. Anyone who doesn't
fulfill this precept is a criminal outside the law. Of course, for the
openly anti-Castro journalists, the repression is more ferocious.

In the spring of 2003, 14 years ago, Fidel Castro ordered the
incarceration of 75 peaceful opponents, 27 of which were independent
journalists, among them the poet Raúl Rivero, whose "weapon" was a stack
of ballpoint pens, an Olivetti Lettera typewriter and a collection of
literature from universal writers.

Some colleagues who write without State permission and with different
doctrines believe that the subject of the dissidence in Cuba — although
it is packed with problems, divided but real — is hidden by the
ideological police, and that those who support the status quo, the
cultural policies and ideological thought on the Island, are rewarded.

Recent facts show that the mantle of intolerance, which at times
resembles fascist behavior, has no borders. They insult Rasvberg with
crude swearwords and detained Elaine and several of her colleagues from
Periodismo de Barro when they tried to report on the aftermath of
Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, just as they systematically harass the
independent journalist from Cama gagüey, Henry Constantín Ferreiro, who
has been the regional Vice President of the Sociedad Interamericana de
Prensa for some months.

I know Henry personally. He's a quiet guy, unaffected and creative, and
right now the authorities are trying to accuse him of "usurpation of
legal capacity," the same as his colleague, Sol García Basulto. His
"crime" is to exercise independent journalism and direct a magazine
without State sponsorship.

We Cuban journalists should show solidarity with each other when the
State tries to roll over us and shut us up. It doesn't matter what each
of us thinks. We all have the right to freely express our opinions.

To paraphrase Martin Luther King: You don't have to love me, I only ask
that you don't lynch me.



Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Exercising Independent Journalism In Cuba Is A State Crime /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/exercising-independent-journalism-in-cuba-is-a-state-crime-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 23 March 2017 – This Wednesday the gates have begun to close around independent journalist Sol Garcia Basulto, who has been charged with the crime of “usurpation of legal capacity.” (In other words, “practicing journalism without a license.”) The correspondent for this newspaper in Camaguey is facing a sentence of between three months and … Continue reading "Legal Process Opens Against ‘14ymedio’ Reporter in Camagüey" Continue reading
"We've Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years" / Iván García

Iván García Quintero, Havana, 19 March 2017 — When the summons arrived
for an interview with a police official, the girl's puzzled family
thought it was a mistake.

Let's call them Kenia, Pedro, and Camila. They are neighbors of mine and
prefer to remain anonymous.

Kenia was summoned to a police station on Finlay street, in the
Sevillano District, near the State Security barracks known as Villa Marista.

"When I arrived, the man started harassing and threatening me, saying
that I hung around with foreigners. Then he wanted to get information
about Ivan García, 'a known counterrevolutionary that we've been
investigating for five years.' He wanted to know details about his
private life, about where he got the money to repair his house. He also
asked my opinion about his work as an independent journalist. At one
point he described him as a 'terrorist' and said that both he and his
mother were 'conspirators.'

"I was in a state of shock. I told him that he is a friend of mine and
my family, and that if what he said is true, why didn't he arrest him.
The officer who interviewed me— young, hostile, and with a military
haircut — replied that for now they had no evidence, but they were
contacting people like me to collaborate with them and give them more
information. I refused to be an informant," says Kenya.

They were more direct with Pedro. "They accused me of giving
confidential information to Ivan Garcia. I told them that I had been
retired for four years. They threatened to open a file on me for
collaborating on some of the news stories written by Ivan. At the end of
the meeting, they warned me to be careful not to say anything to Ivan,
because 'he might get off scot-free, but you, Pedro, old as you are, you
could die in jail.'"

Without providing any evidence, they issued Camila a warning for
harassing tourists and prostitution. "I didn't sign it. But they told me
that if I keep associating with Ivan I will be prosecuted for
prostitution. I was accused of pimping and, together with Ivan, of
controlling several prostitutes who, in return for money, offered
information about their work. All that is a scandalous lie. Out of fear,
I promised to delete Ivan's phone from my contact list. "

All three were warned that they would soon be summoned again. I told
them that when they were, to let me know so I could go with them. If you
want to know about me, cite me; it is despicable to intimidate innocent
people.

In March 1991, four years before I began writing as an independent
journalist at Cuba Press, I was detained for two weeks in a cell at
Villa Marista, the headquarters of the State Security Department. They
accused me of "enemy propaganda." I was never tried, but beginning in
1991, for whatever reason, I was detained.

Then there was a period of less harassment until October 22, 2008, when
at the intersection of Prado and Teniente Rey, a Colombian colleague
handed me some books sent by Ernesto McCausland, a prestigious Colombian
journalist, writer, and filmmaker (deceased in 2012). The Colombian and
I were arrested by the police and placed in a patrol car. He was
released immediately, but they took me to the station at Zanja and
Lealtad and kept me in solitary confinement for 11 hours. I recounted
this in State of Siege.

Two years later, August 2010, brought the first harassment by Military
Counterintelligence. I was then writing for El Mundo.es/América, which
published three denunciations, the first titled Citación oficial. Three
years later, I would again be harassed by the secret police. On February
18, 2013, Diario Las Américas published, on its front page, "Las
Américas Journalist harassed by the Cuban government." Continuing
evidence of this remains posted on the blogsite Desde La Habana.

State Security knows where to find me. They have my phone number and the
address where I live. I wait for them.

Translated by Tomás A.

Source: "We've Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years" / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/weve-been-investigating-ivan-garcia-for-five-years-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García Quintero, Havana, 19 March 2017 — When the summons arrived for an interview with a police official, the girl’s puzzled family thought it was a mistake. Let’s call them Kenia, Pedro, and Camila. They are neighbors of mine and prefer to remain anonymous. Kenia was summoned to a police station on Finlay street, … Continue reading "“We’ve Been Investigating Ivan Garcia for Five Years” / Iván García" Continue reading
A Year After Obama's Visit, Cubans Feel Disillusioned With His Legacy /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 19 March 2017 – It rained when the presidential
plane touched down on the tarmac at Havana's Airport. On 20 March 2016,
Barack Obama began a historic visit to the island that awakened hopes
and sparked questions. One year after that visit, Cubans are taking
stock of what happened and, in particular, what did not happen.

The tenant of the White House evoked waves of enthusiasm during his tour
of Havana's streets. His official agenda included talking with young
entrepreneurs, he appeared on a comedy TV show, he visited a private
restaurant, and he met with representatives from civil society. They
were intense days during which popular illusions reached historic records.

However, Obama's decision to eliminate the wet foot/dry foot policy
before the end of his term in January, caused that sympathy to plummet.
Now, inquiring about his legacy on Cuban streets leads to answers mostly
filled with criticism, resentment or a sense of betrayal.

"I lost my life," Luis Pedroso, a soundman by profession, tells
14ymedio, He sold all his property to pay for an illegal trip to the
United States. He left Cuba for the Dominican Republic, and then crossed
Mexico and arrived at the border in Nuevo Laredo, on 12 January when the
immigration policy that benefitted Cubans was no longer in force.

Cubans crowded the streets hoping to see Obama and his family. (EFE)
"What did he do that for?" asks Pedroso, about the act of the
Democrat. "We Cubans gave him our hearts and he betrayed us," he
says. The man sleeps on the couch of his sister's house waiting to "make
money again to leave." He thinks "Trump is less sympathetic," but
perhaps, "will get more loyal."

The months following the presidential visit, the emigration of Cubans to
the United States continued its growing trend. More than 50,000 Cubans
entered US territory during fiscal year 2016, according to the Office of
Field Operations of the Customs and Border Protection Service.

Norma works as a saleswoman in a private coffee shop in Havana's
Chinatown. She recalls that in the days when Obama was on the island,
"people were going crazy all over to try to see him." She was among the
hundreds of people who crowded along the Paseo del Prado when word
spread that The Beast (Obama's armored car) would pass by with the
presidential family.

The woman was especially hopeful about the economic benefits that could
come from the trip. "It seemed that everything would be fixed and that
we self-employed workers would be able to import and bring products from
over there," she reflects. But, "everything is stuck," is continues.

The entrepreneur would like to bring an "ice cream machine" from the
United States, and "ask for a loan or find an investor who wants to put
money into a small business." However, the customs restrictions imposed
on the Cuban side make commercial imports difficult, and there is no
easy way to send supplies to the island from the United States.

Nor have expectations in the countryside been met. Luis Garcia, a farmer
dedicated to planting rice outside Cienfuegos believes that "everything
has been greatly delayed." The flexibilities implemented by Obama from
the beginning of the diplomatic thaw were mainly directed toward the
private and agricultural sectors, but "the benefits haven't appeared,"
said the farmer.

The Cienfueguero continues to plow the land with an old yoke of oxen and
recalls that "there was much talk about the arrival of "resources,
tractors and seeds, but everything remains the same." Nevertheless he
believes that "Obama has been the best president of the United States
with regards to us, a man of integrity," he says.

The activists, who talked with Obama on that occasion and behind closed
doors, are also taking stock after twelve months.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the independent magazine Convivencia
(Coexistence), the main result of the trip was "to show that 'the enemy'
used as a weapon in the Cuban government's narrative was willing to
offer a white rose," as Obama demonstrated in his speech at Havana's
Gran Teatro.

The speech, broadcast live, is considered by many as "the best part of
the visit," says Valdez, who recognizes that "a year later,
unfortunately, the situation in Cuba is worsening." He cites an increase
in repression, the attacks on the United States in the official
discourse, which continues to be one of "trenches and confrontation."

The opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa was also at that table at the US
Embassy in Havana. He points out that after the arrival of the Democrat
there was an emphasis on "an awareness that our problems are our
problems, not problems caused by the United States." Obama helped to
defuse the "historic tension" between "democracy and nationalism."

On the other hand, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz who was traveling
during the historic visit, sums up the impact of Obama's trip as "none."
While "he left everyone filled with hopes," on the contrary, "what he
did was to put a final end to the wet foot/dry foot policy."

The former prisoner of the Black Spring believes that the visit "is not
something that is remembered gratefully right now." When it happened,
"everyone was very happy and filled with hopes, but a year later it's
completely different," she emphasized.

The columnist Miriam Celaya believes that beyond "being in favor or
against" Obama's actions toward the island "there is one thing that is
undeniable, and that is that he marked the Cuban policy of the last
fifty years like no other American president."

Celaya believes that the Democrat "ended the exceptionality" of the
Cuban issue "by taking away the government's foreign enemy." A situation
that has the Plaza of the Revolution "forced to render accounts. Ending
the wet foot/dry foot policy," also contributed to ending "the
emigration preference for Cubans in the United States."

"Any policy towards Cuba framed by US politicians, as long as this
system lasts, will have as an obligatory reference this parting of the
waters achieved by Obama," the independent journalist says.

Celaya believes that the population developed "tremendous expectations
that are now completely deflated. Many see Obama as the beloved and the
hated," an attitude that puts "the solutions in the United States, as if
they have to come from outside," she says.

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer,
believes that Obama "did everything possible to help the people out of
the deep crisis in which Castroism has plunged us," but "the regime
closed all the doors".

The outgoing president urged Raúl Castro "to open up to his people, to
allow the people to recover the spaces" but instead, the authorities
remain "in their old position of controlling everything and doing
nothing that endangers the total control they have over society. "

"What's up, Cuba?" Obama tweeted when his plane was about to land in
Cuba. Today, listening to that question generates more concerns than
certainties.

Source: A Year After Obama's Visit, Cubans Feel Disillusioned With His
Legacy / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/a-year-after-obamas-visit-cubans-feel-disillusioned-with-his-legacy-14ymedio-luz-escobar/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 19 March 2017 – It rained when the presidential plane touched down on the tarmac at Havana’s Airport. On 20 March 2016, Barack Obama began a historic visit to the island that awakened hopes and sparked questions. One year after that visit, Cubans are taking stock of what happened and, in particular, … Continue reading "A Year After Obama’s Visit, Cubans Feel Disillusioned With His Legacy / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar" Continue reading
Police Accuse Journalist Henry Constantin Of "Usurpation Of Legal
Capacity" / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 17 March 2017 – Journalist Henry Constantin, director
of La Hora de Cuba (Cuba Hour) magazine and regional vice president of
the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), was formally charged Friday
with the crime of "usurpation of legal capacity," he told 14ymedio.

Constantin received a subpoena for the third Police Station in the city
of Camagüey where First Lieutenant Pacheco Seagnamillo informed him that
he was accused of conducting interviews on the public right-of-way in
which he "misrepresented reality."

The police did not mention the names of potential complainants, but
emphasized that he was not "empowered" to perform a reporter's job.

The journalist could be prosecuted for violating Article 149 of the
Penal Code which punishes whomever "performs acts of a profession for
the exercise of which he is not properly qualified." The sentence
contemplates the "deprivation of liberty from three months to a year or
a fine of 100 to 300 shares* or both." The official told him that the
independent journalist Sol García Basulto, correspondent of this
newspaper, will also be prosecuted for the same crime.

In the next 60 days, Constantin will be subject to a precautionary
measure yet to be detailed but at the moment he cannot leave the
city. The reporter will not be able to attend an exhibition in Los
Angeles, about the current situation of journalists on the island, nor
the subsequent meeting of the IAPA in Guatemala.

Constantín was named last December as IAPA's regional vice president for
Cuba and pledged to spread "the reality of journalism" on the
island. The organization has issued several press releases condemning
the harassment and arrests of those who have been victims of attacks in
recent weeks. It has urged the Cuban government to guarantee freedom of
the press and expression throughout the country.

*Translator's note: Cuban law sets fines based on "shares"; the value of
a share is set separately and in this way can be changed, over time,
without having to amend all of the laws that reference fines as a penalty.

Source: Police Accuse Journalist Henry Constantin Of "Usurpation Of
Legal Capacity" / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/police-accuse-journalist-henry-constantin-of-usurpation-of-legal-capacity-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 17 March 2017 – Journalist Henry Constantin, director of La Hora de Cuba (Cuba Hour) magazine and regional vice president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), was formally charged Friday with the crime of “usurpation of legal capacity,” he told 14ymedio. Constantin received a subpoena for the third Police Station in the city of Camagüey … Continue reading "Police Accuse Journalist Henry Constantin Of “Usurpation Of Legal Capacity” / 14ymedio" Continue reading
The Official Press and the Art of "Sweetening The Pill" / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14 March 2017 – After contemplating
several ideas of what to write about on this Day of the Press in Cuba, I
decided to share with my readers an extract from an unpublished
autobiography where I relate the vicissitudes of a journalist in the
late eighties of the last century .

It is the best testimony I have on hand to illustrate the art of
"sweetening the pill" that for years has characterized the official
press and that causes so much damage to our profession. I hope you enjoy
it and that it will help you better understand why I decided to assume
the risks of being an independent journalist.

The complicated task of telling the truth

Before leaving for the factory, the journalist was warned by the
editor-in-chief of the Government's interest in having the magazine Cuba
International write about the quality of the batteries that were
produced on its assembly line.

When Antonio and Juan Carlos, the young photographer, announced their
presence at the factory, the guard on the door made two calls. The first
one to the Director and the second one to a colleague to warn him: "Hey,
tell Cuco that the journalists are here, hurry up…"

A short time later an employee appeared and asked them to accompany him
to the director's office. Cuco also arrived, and in a trembling voice
addressed Antonio:

"Journalist, I am the union's representative: I want you to talk to us
before you leave."

"Of course," said the reporter.

The administrator exchanged a hard look with the union leader and
emphasized to the newcomers the gesture of "follow me."

The office they entered had a model that reproduced the whole
installation. In front of it the director waited for them, and
introduced an engineer with a pointer in his hand, who explained the
industrial process.

Juan Carlos took a couple of photos of the small scale model and others
of the showcase with the types of batteries that the factory was able to
produce. The engineer announced that they would visit two sections: the
laboratory and the assembly line.

"We also want to go through the area of ​​chemical components and the
warehouses," Antonio said.

"We do not have authorization for that," said the engineer.

When they arrived at the laboratory they saw a range of sophisticated
instruments that could diagnose of the quality of the products and the
conditions of the raw material.

At the request of Juan Carlos, two smiling girls stood in front of the
devices as if they were handling them. Minutes later they went to the
assembly line to organize "a cover photo."

Juan Carlos chose an angle in which the nozzle of the plastic packing
and the conveyor belt with the finished batteries could be captured. In
the background, a forklift, frozen for the snapshot, filled a container.

"What do you think?" he asked the reporter.

Everything was perfect, clean and in order. The image offered an obvious
sense of efficiency and modernity, but Antonio realized that there were
only two batteries on the conveyor belt.

"Can we put some more there?" he asked the engineer.

"The number of finished pieces is an index of our productive rhythm,"
said the specialist.

"And what would be the optimum?" inquired the reporter.

"Someday we'll have between four and six examples on this same stretch,"
he replied in response.

"Can we put five?"

"Yes," said the engineer, "up to five."

After the photo shoot, Antonio inquired about Cuco.

"He works in the area of ​​chemical components and we cannot go through
there, but I'm going go look for him."

The union leader arrived more calm than he had been earlier.

"Ten minutes to lunch," he said. "Would you accept an invitation to join
me in the dining room?" he asked, so we talked.

The first surprise was to see that the workers did not eat where the
engineer had indicated with the pointer on the model, a place he
described as "a large, bright and ventilated room with comfortable
tables and chairs," but rather in a closed area, originally intended to
store the finished products.

Cuco began without beating around the bush.

"I don't know if you know that this factory was started 11 years ago.
One night a caravan arrived with a large crane and unloaded the
machinery. They left it outside, because there wasn't a single place
with a roof.

"It sat out there for three years and the boxes were taken away by the
neighbors. They started with the clocks, the light bulbs, the electrical
cables, and nuts and screws. They didn't leave a single ball bearing,
because everything ended up in strollers, water pumps or old cars.

"One day the order came to finish everything in six months. Two hours
before the opening, volunteers from the Communist Party Municipal
Committee hid all the debris and planted a garden as fast as they could.
Among them were several of the predators who had made off with the
machines when it appeared they had been abandoned.

"The artist who painted the portrait of the martyr, whom the factory is
named for, spent 14 hours without getting down from the scaffolding.
That's why the portrait looks cross-eyed and with a mustache tilting to
the left. The hero's mother was about to cause a scandal because of what
her son looked like.

"In the haste, they didn't build the workers' bathrooms, they didn't
finish the dining room and they didn't put the fans in the areas where
chemicals are used. Nor did they complete the tank for processing toxic
waste and now they dump it in a lagoon where before there were fish but
now there aren't even mosquitoes."

Antonio listened to the story in silence.

"All that data you copied into your notebook is real, but I bet you
anything that they never told you what was produced, just what the
factory is capable of producing. You will only have heard of the
possibilities, not of the results achieved."

Antonio opened his notebook. Indeed, before each figure appeared
formulas of the kind: "When the installation is in full operation it can
reach …", "We are designed to produce …", "The line has a maximum
capacity of …" but not a single word of what was being produced.

"And what is the reality?" I ask.

"What is being completed in a month is what the factory should produce
in a week. We should make at least six models and we are only making two."

"And the ones in the showcase?" the reporter asked.

"Those came as a sample along with the machinery."

Cuco continued.

"You want to help us? Then publish the truth. Your article could play a
very important role in improving our working conditions," said the trade
unionist.

"Our magazine has been commissioned to produce a report to attract
buyers from abroad," justified the reporter. "I can only speak about the
bright side."

Cuco looked at his watch. He had no desire to ask Antonio if he knew a
journalist who was paid to tell the truth, but intuited his lack of
guilt in the matter and only managed to say goodbye with a phrase:

"Do not look for trouble for us, journalist, and I hope you can sleep easy."

Antonio would have preferred to be insulted. He would have liked to say
that he preferred to breathe poison in the area of ​​chemical elements
rather than sweeten the reality that the union leader had tried to denounce.

But it was false. They paid him for "sweetening the pill" and they not
only paid well, they demanded only three or four articles a month. He
received food and cash allowances for transportation. His position also
served to develop relationships in many places and to gain prestige
among those who considered the magazine Cuba International an enviable
place for a journalist to work.

I did not work in that publication to tell the truth, but to contribute
to making it up.

Source: The Official Press and the Art of "Sweetening The Pill" /
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-official-press-and-the-art-of-sweetening-the-pill-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14 March 2017 – After contemplating several ideas of what to write about on this Day of the Press in Cuba, I decided to share with my readers an extract from an unpublished autobiography where I relate the vicissitudes of a journalist in the late eighties of the last century . … Continue reading "The Official Press and the Art of “Sweetening The Pill” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar" Continue reading
The Countdown Begins For Raul Castro's Departure From Power / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 24 February 2017 — On February 24 of next year Raul
Castro must leave the presidency of Cuba if he is to fulfill the
promise he has made several times. His announced departure from power is
looked on with suspicion by some and seen as an inescapable fact by
others, but hardly anyone argues that his departure will put an end to
six decades of the so-called historical generation.

For the first time, the political process begun in January 1959 will
have a leader who did not participate in the struggle against the
dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Nevertheless, Raul Castro can
maintain the control of the Communist Party until 2021, a position with
powers higher than the executive's and enshrined in the Constitution of
the Republic.

In the 365 days that remain in his position as president of the Councils
of State and of Ministers, the 85-year-old ruler is expected to push
several measures forward. Among them is the Electoral Law, which he
announced two years ago and that will determine the political landscape
he leaves behind after his retirement.

In the coming months the relations between Havana and Washington will be
defined in the context of the new presidency of Donald Trump and, in
internal terms, by the economy. Low wages, the dual currency system,
housing shortages and shortages of products are some of the most
pressing problems for which Cubans expects solutions.

Raul Castro formally assumed the presidency in February of 2008,
although in mid-2006 he took over Fidel Castro's responsibilities on a
provisional basis due to a health crisis affecting his older brother
that forced him from public life. And now, given the proximity of the
date he set for himself to leave the presidency, the leader is obliged
to accelerate the progress of his decisions and define the succession.

In 2013 Castro was confirmed as president for a second term. At that
time he limited the political positions to a maximum of ten years and
emphasized the need to give space to younger figures. One of those faces
was Miguel Díaz-Canel, a 56-year-old politician who climbed through the
party structure and now holds the vice presidency.

In the second tier of power in the Party is Jose Ramon Machado Ventura,
an octogenarian with a reputation as an orthodox who in recent months
has featured prominently in the national media. A division of power
between Díaz-Canel and Machado Ventura (one as president of the Councils
of State and of Ministers and the other as secretary general of the
Party) would be an unprecedented situation for millions of Cubans who
only know the authority being concentrated in a single man.

However, many suspect that behind the faces that hold public office, the
family clan will continue to manipulate through pulling the strings
of Alejandro Castro Espín. But the president's son, promoted to national
security adviser, is not yet a member of the Party Central Committee,
the Council of State or even a Member of Parliament.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the Center for Coexistence Studies,
Raúl Castro leaves without doing his work. "There were many promises,
many pauses and little haste," he summarizes. He said that many hoped
that the "much-announced reforms would move from the superficial to the
depth of the model, the only way to update the Cuban economy, politics
and society."

Raul Castro should "at least, push until the National Assembly passes an
Electoral Law" that allows "plural participation of citizens," says
Valdés. He also believes that he should give "legal status to private
companies" and "also give legal status to other organizations of civil
society."

The American academic Ted Henken does not believe that the current
president will leave his position at the head of the Party. For Henken,a
professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Baruch College in
New York, Castro's management has been successful in "maintaining the
power of historic [generation] of the Revolution under the authoritarian
and vertical model installed more than half a century ago" and "having
established a potentially more beneficial new relationship with the US
and embarking on some significant economic reforms. "

However, Henken sees as "a great irony that the government has been more
willing to sit down and talk with the supposed enemy than with its own
people" and points out "the lack of fundamental political rights and
basic civil liberties" as "a black stain on the legacy of the Castro
brothers."

Blogger Regina Coyula, who worked from 1972 to 1989 for the
Counterintelligence Directorate of the Interior Ministry, predicts that
Raul Castro will be remembered as someone "who could and did not
dare." At first she saw him as "a man more sensible than the brother and
much more pragmatic" but over time "by not doing what he had to do,
nothing turned out as it should have turned out."

Perhaps "he came with certain ideas and when it came to reality he
realized that introducing certain changes would inevitably bring a
transformation of the country's political system," says Coyula. That is
something he "is not willing to assume. He does not want to be the one
who goes down in history with that note in his biography."

Independent journalist Miriam Celaya recalls that "the glass of milk he
promised is still pending" and also "all the impetus he wanted to give
to the self-employment sector." She says that in the last year there has
been "a step back, a retreat, an excess of control" for the private sector.

With the death of Fidel Castro, his brother "has his hands untied to be
to total reformist that some believed he was going to be," Celaya
reflects. "In this last year he should release a little what the
Marxists call the productive forces," although she is "convinced… he
won't do it."

As for a successor, Celaya believes that the Cuban system is "very
cryptic and everything arrives in a sign language, we must be focusing
on every important public act to see who is who and who is not."

"The worst thing in the whole panorama is the uncertainty, the worst
legacy that Raul Castro leaves us is the magnification of the
uncertainty," she points out. "There is no direction, there is no
horizon, there is nothing." He will be remembered as "the man who lost
the opportunity to amend the course of the Revolution."

"He will not be seen as the man who knew, in the midst of turbulence,
how to redirect the nation," laments Manuel Cuesta Morua. Cuesta Morua,
a regime opponent, who belongs to the Democratic Action Roundtable
(MUAD) and to the citizen platform #Otro18 (Another 2018), reproaches
Raúl Castro for not having made the "political reforms that the country
needs to advance economically: he neither opens or closes [the country]
to capital and is unable to articulate another response to the autonomy
of society other than flight or repression."

Iliana Hernández, director of the independent Cuban Lens,
acknowledges that in recent years Raúl Castro has returned to Cubans
"some rights" such as "buying and selling houses, cars, increasing
private business and the right to travel." The activist believes that
this year the president should "call a free election, legalize
[multiple] parties and stop repressing the population."

As for the opposition, Hernandez believes that he is "doing things that
were not done before and were unthinkable to do."

Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello is very critical of Raul Castro's
management and says she did not even fulfill his promise of ending the
dual currency system. "He spoke of a new Constitution, a new economic
system, which aren't even mentioned in the Party Guidelines," he says.

"To try to make up for the bad they've done, in the first place he
should release all those who are imprisoned simply for thinking
differently under different types of sanctions," reflects Roque
Cabello. She also suggests that he sit down and talk to the opposition
so that it can tell him "how to run the country's economy, which is
distorted."

Although she sees differences between Fidel's and Raul Castro's styles
of government, "he is as dictator like his brother," she said. The
dissident, convicted during the Black Spring of 2003, does not consider
Diaz-Canel as the successor. "He is a person who has been used, I do not
think he's the relief," and points to Alejandro Castro Espín or Raul
Castro's former son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, as
possible substitutes.

This newspaper tried to contact people close to the ruling party to
obtain their opinion about Raúl Castro's legacy, his succession and the
challenges he faces for the future, but all refused to respond. Rafael
Hernández, director of the magazine Temas, told the Diario de las
Américas in an interview: "There must be a renewal that includes all
those who have spent time like that [10 years]." However, not all
members of the Council of State have been there 10 years, not even all
the ministers have been there 10 years."

This is the most that the supporters of the Government dare to say.

Source: The Countdown Begins For Raul Castro's Departure From Power /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-countdown-begins-for-raul-castros-departure-from-power-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 24 February 2017 — On February 24 of next year Raul Castro must leave the presidency of Cuba if he is to fulfill the promise he has made several times. His announced departure from power is looked on with suspicion by some and seen as an inescapable fact by others, but hardly anyone argues that … Continue reading "The Countdown Begins For Raul Castro’s Departure From Power / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Inter-American Press Association Names Henry Constantin Vice President
for Cuba / 14ymedio

14ymedio, 30 December 2016 — The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA)
has named independent journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro as regional
vice president for Cuba. Director of the magazine La Hora de Cuba and a
resident of the city of Camagüey, the reporter told 14ymedio that he
intends to defend and spread "the reality of journalism" on the island
from his new responsibility.

A few hours after the announcement, Constantín told this newspaper via
phone that he received the news with a mixture of "surprise and pride"
and said he was grateful to be part of an organization that "has engaged
in numerous battles over the freedom of the press in the region."

Born in 1984, Constantín is a contributor to several independent media,
including the magazine Coexistence. He studied journalism for several
semester as an undergraduate and also the specialty of film direction at
the Higher Institute of Art (ISA).

The reporter feels that the journalism in Cuba is going through "a
special moment" marked by "an increasing plurality, although still
restrained by the government." On the island there are "media that cover
almost the entire political spectrum," says the new vice president of
the IAPA.

"In this new year we will have to defend the national press because
although the context is new, the threats are the same and some of them
are even growing," Constantín points out.

Upon his appointment, the reporter will be responsible for reporting the
violations of press freedom that occur in the country and for drafting
the report that is published each semester by IAPA.

Previously, the vice president for Cuba was occupied by journalist and
director of 14ymedio Yoani Sanchez, who assumed the responsibility in 2012.

Last November, Henry Constantín was detained at Customs at the Ignacio
Agramonte International Airport in Camaguey, on his arrival from
Miami. The dissident was taken to a police station where his mobile
phone and his laptop were confiscated.

Source: Inter-American Press Association Names Henry Constantin Vice
President for Cuba / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/inter-american-press-association-names-henry-constantin-vice-president-for-cuba-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, 30 December 2016 — The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) has named independent journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro as regional vice president for Cuba. Director of the magazine La Hora de Cuba and a resident of the city of Camagüey, the reporter told 14ymedio that he intends to defend and spread “the reality of journalism” on the island from his … Continue reading "Inter-American Press Association Names Henry Constantin Vice President for Cuba / 14ymedio" Continue reading
… during his historic visit to Havana in March, 2016. FRANCE 24 … and social chaos to Cuba. He divided Cuban families, fuelled exile, and … the Cuban nation! That cult of personality always existed in Cuba, but … closer contact between Cubans and Americans, both here in Cuba and abroad … Continue reading
CONSISTENT KILLING BY THE CASTRO REGIME FOR ALMOST SIX DECADES

The Cuban regime has killed systematically since the start of its
57-year dictatorship. 345 documented disappearances and fatalities
occurring in the month November, as in any other month, illustrate the
widespread atrocities occurring over decades, continuing to date, and
taking thousands of lives. This is the tragic tally Cuba Archive feels
obliged to chronicle.

A SAMPLE OF NOVEMBER KILLINGS

Independent journalist and former political prisoner, Jorge Alberto
Liriado Linares, age 67, died this past November 14th (2016) in
Camaguey. He had been systematically harassed and threatened by agents
of the political police and on Ocotber 27th had a heart attack after
arguing with a State Security agent. He was interrogated even while in
the hospital and after eleven days was released over his objections and
that of his friends due to his weak condition. He was homeless, having
recently lost his home, and while anemic, was unable to acquire the
special diet he had been prescribed. The deliberate medical neglect and
overt political persecution led to his death.


Human rights activist Arcelio, "Chely," Molina Leyva, age 53, died this
past November 15th (2016) in Havana. He allegedly fell from the roof of
his house during the early morning hours and was impaled on a pointed
fence. Cuban opposition members, concerned over the suspicious deaths of
several human rights´ activists in recent years, question the
circumstances of his death. "Chely" attended to political prisoners and
his home served as headquarters in Havana for UNPACU, an opposition
movement based in the eastern province of Oriente.



Darío Andino León, age 18, died November 18, 2014 at a military unit in
Cienfuegos, Cuba. Darío was completing his obligatory military service
under typically harsh conditions. While out on a pass, he and around
twenty neighbors took to sea in a rustic vessel, attempting to escape
Cuba. Five days later, after a terrible ordeal at sea, they were rescued
by the U.S. Coast Guard and returned to Cuba. After spending several
days in the hospital, he was sent back to Cienfuegos province and
imprisoned for deserting his military service, kept in a punishment cell
in isolation. Days later, authorities reported he had hung himself with
a sheet, yet prisoners are not allowed sheets or garments in punishment
cells. He left a young wife and one-month old daughter.

Gerardo Contreras Hernández and Antonio Hernández Rivero were killed
November 26, 1990 at La Coloma, Pinar del Río province. Gerardo, an
AfroCuban in his mid-twenties, was at a birthday party with several
friends, listening to music and drinking. A local policeman stopped by
and told them they had to stop the music and warned them he would return
to make sure they complied. When he came back, the music was on. Gerardo
started arguing with him; the policeman took out his gun and shot him.
His friend, Antonio Hernandez, was nearby when he heard the shots and
came running. When he saw that Gerardo had been killed, he began arguing
with the policeman, who again pulled out his gun and shot him to death
too. The rest of the party group was tried and sentenced to prison for
four years (presumably, the policeman was not charged).

Marcelo Díaz González, was presumably killed November 9, 1973 at a State
Security office in Santa Clara, Las Villas province. Marcelo was in jail
at Manacas Prison Camp in Las Villas province. A few days before
completing his sentence, he was taken to the State Security (G-2)
headquarters in Santa Clara for questioning. His family was told he had
committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell, but his body showed
evidence of a savage beating, with bruises and wounds to the body
including the face.

José Angel Masó Hernández. November 8, 1975, killed at Kilo 5 1/2 prison
in Pinar del Río. Political prisoner in his mid-thirties serving prison
for conspiring against the powers of the state. Held in a punishment for
refusing to attend political indoctrination sessions, Masó was subjected
to daily injections of a mysterious substance on orders of the prison
director. He vomited daily until he died, receiving no medical
attention. Prison officials claimed he had died of a heart attack.

Florentino Pelaez, son, age 17, and father (same name), executed
November 15, 1963 in Santa Clara, Las Villas province. The small farmer
and his son were executed by firing squad for collaborating with
insurgents fighting against the Castro Communist regime. Their blood was
forcibly extracted before the execution (Cuba was secretly selling it to
other countries). The son was executed first, in front of his father.

Source: Cuba: November victims / Víctimas de noviembre -
http://us12.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f93aaff2d1c7f165f9da290f6&id=1635df041c&e=45d9ff4f3c Continue reading
Police Confiscate Activist Henry Constantín's Phone And Computer / 14ymedio

On Sunday night, the activist Henry Constantín was detained at Customs
at the Ignacio Agramonte International Airport of Camaguey, on his
arrival from Miami. The dissident was taken to a police station where
they confiscated his cellphone and laptop, according to what he told
14ymedio. The independent journalist was released around ten at night
and says he will begin the legal process to recover his belongings.

Constantín arrived in Cuba around four in the afternoon on a American
Airlines direct flight and was held at the airport until after eight
o'clock at night. The officers of the General Customs of the Republic
insisted on seizing their belongings to "review their content," but the
activist emphatically refused.

Constantín, who is the director of the literary magazine Time for
Cuba, told them they could search the devices in his presence, but not
out of sight. After four hours of waiting, Constantín was taken to a
police station in the Montecarlo neighborhood.

At the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) unti, the soldiers took his
"prints of all kinds," he explained to this newspaper. The reporter
refused to sign the record of the seizure of objects when the police
told him that they would not give him a copy of the document.

After the Immigration Reform implemented by the Government in 2013, it
has become a common practice to confiscate computers, video cameras and
cellphones from activists arriving in the country.

Source: Police Confiscate Activist Henry Constantín's Phone And Computer
/ 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/police-confiscate-activist-henry-constantins-phone-and-computer-14ymedio/ Continue reading
On Sunday night, the activist Henry Constantín was detained at Customs at the Ignacio Agramonte International Airport of Camaguey, on his arrival from Miami. The dissident was taken to a police station where they confiscated his cellphone and laptop, according to what he told 14ymedio. The independent journalist was released around ten at night and … Continue reading "Police Confiscate Activist Henry Constantín’s Phone And Computer / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Lawyers and journalists, in danger
HILDEBRANDO CHAVIANO MONTES | La Habana | 9 de Noviembre de 2016 - 13:34
CET.

There are two vexing occupations for the Cuban government. One of them
is the legal profession, a career only open to those deemed reliable by
the political police.

But when they leave classrooms Law graduates acquire the irritating
habit of questioning everything, and the training they have received
makes them implacable critics, able to assimilate new knowledge,
interpret it according to their own judgments, and, if necessary, apply
them, or at least try to do so in the particular conditions in which
they live. The Law for them ceases to be socialist and becomes simply
Law, and it is at this point when they are no longer reliable, and
become a danger to the powers that be.

It does not matter if they have been militants, CDR members, the
children of revolutionary families, servants of the revolution, or
pioneers from La Moncada. Law is a difficult career. Those who initiated
the war in 1868 were lawyers. Men from Bayamo, Camagüey, Havana and
elsewhere on the island, including ranchers, landowners and businessmen,
all studied Law. Once in power, Fidel Castro thought seriously about
whether to reopen the Law School.

Journalists, meanwhile, had no School of Journalism, which came only
later, as another mechanism to ensure control over the press. Those now
dedicated to independent journalism do not necessarily have university
studies. Some do, while others have been passed courses sponsored by
Florida International University that have provided them with the
appropriate tools to write a story or an opinion piece, investigate, and
do digital journalism by making the use of new information and
communications technologies.

Despite this preparation and their steady work as independent
journalists, collaborating with various media sources, according to the
political police, the official press and the Communist government, they
are not genuine journalists if they did not attend the School of
Journalism.

In the history of Cuba and the world there are plenty of examples of
renowned journalists who never studied Journalism in college: Ernest
Hemingway, Jose Martí, Mark Twain, Juan Gualberto Gómez, Gabriel García
Márquez, Pablo de la Torriente Brau, Julius Fucik, Jorge Manach, José
Zacarías Tallet, etc. Whether on the Left or Right, there have been
Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, patriots and adventurers,
all of them, regardless of their political affiliation, were great
writers, skilled in the art of narration, which is not learned in
college, but by writing, and they all had something in common: the need
to share what they saw.

With this impotent argument they aim to discredit Cuba's independent
press. To make matters worse, a former independent journalist, fallen
into State Security's clutches, for some reason only he and his masters
know, has now been admitted as a journalist in the official press and a
member of the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC), despite the fact that
he was never an outstanding editor, or occupied a post at any university.

Another equally ridiculous criticism is that independent journalists
charge for their published works, when this is true of any journalist in
the world – including those at the newspaper Granma and Radio Reloj.

If independent Cuban journalists could freely publish within their own
country, there would be no need to turn, as almost their only option, to
media based abroad, to provide news or express opinions that pertain
primarily to the people of Cuba and its Government.

The onslaught that the Cuban government is waging against lawyers and
independent journalists at this time reflects the Government's impotence
because, university graduates or not, these two civil society groups
will not be silenced, and will continue to condemn, investigate and give
advice in a country whose authorities do not respect the law, and where
professional journalists are persecuted as if they were criminals,
stigmatized, threatened by police and attacked by vigilantes.

Source: Lawyers and journalists, in danger | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1478694870_26596.html Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 5 November 2016 — When I began writing in 1996 as an independent journalist for Cuba Press, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique was no longer working as an economist for Cuba’s Central Planning Agency (JUCEPLAN ) and had already become an opponent of the Castro regime. In 1991, together with another economist, friend and colleague, … Continue reading "Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique: Farewell to an Exemplary Dissident / Iván García" Continue reading
Sol Garcia Basulto (photo via Facebook) Cuban independent journalist Sol García Basulto is pleading with the world to take up her cause, after the Castro secret police threatened to imprison her and punish her family because of her work. Garcia,... Continue reading
In Cuba, online media pry open state grip on news
October 27, 2016

Havana (AFP) - Abraham, Elaine and Jose are under 30, and they've pulled
off the unthinkable in Cuba -- they are producing online news, prying
open the state's half-century grip on the media.

The Castro government created a crack in the Cuban media wall, allowing
this small revolution, when it opened up internet access to the public
in 2013.

What followed was a progressive rollout of 200 Wi-Fi hotspots across the
Caribbean island of 11.2 million people.

Access is limited. Few Cubans can afford the sky-high connections fees
of $2 per hour and the government only rarely authorizes an internet
connection at home.

Still, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists counts about 3,000
blogs and portals dedicated to Cuba that are published on the island or
by Cubans living abroad.

Sites like The Sneeze (El estornudo), Neighborhood Journalism
(Periodismo de Barrio), El Toque and the most well-known, OnCuba, are
key voices in this flourishing cyber-media field.

Some of the journalists were educated at the University of Havana's
communications school, the traditional launch pad for careers at state
media and the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

"We all came from classes at the University of Havana, and we were kind
of left homeless, in the sense that for us, the state press isn't an
option," Abraham Jimenez, the 27-year-old who heads The Sneeze, told AFP.

Jimenez and his colleagues launched the portal in March. Like other
independent media, they chase a variety of funding sources, including
selling what they can to survive month-to-month.

"Internet access is very expensive, we don't have an office or
anything," Jimenez explained, saying that articles and photos are sent
by email abroad to be put online.

"Without state economic support, we must look for other ways to manage
finances," said Elaine Diaz, 30, director of Neighborhood Journalism.

"Some turn to paid advertising, or payment for content or a service, or
partnerships with other media or nonprofit organizations, or a
cooperative financing group," she said.

At times, like at The Sneeze, it takes another job to survive -- the
price of realizing the dream of being an independent journalist in Cuba.

- 'Honest' journalism -

With sleek homepages, full-screen photos, polished writing and reporting
that tends toward features rather than hard news, the publications for
the most part are trying to depict the reality of Cubans' everyday lives.

But unlike others, such as 14yMedio launched in 2014 by
journalist-dissident Yoani Sanchez, or independent portals published in
Spain, like Cuba Daily, or in Miami, Cubanet and CiberCuba, these new
media eschew confrontation with the authorities.

We present "very honest viewpoints, stemming from life experiences, and
we don't want to respond to the combative visions of extremists," said
Jose Nieves, 28, the editorial coordinator of El Toque.

The authorities, who block access to the main dissident portals,
tolerate these new sites. But the first rumble of a counteroffensive is
being detected in the state media and on social networks.

In Granma, official blogger Iroel Sanchez recently condemned
"journalistic bias, marked by superficiality, lack of context and
inaccuracy, which serves the media war and those who hope to dismantle
socialism in our country."

But the state's messages can be more direct, like the September firing
of a reporter for radio Sagua la Grande who collaborated with
independent media, or the one-day arrest of Diaz, the head of
Neighborhood Journalism.

She was arrested in early October because she lacked an official permit
to cover the damage from Hurricane Matthew in the far west of the island.

The law only recognizes state media and accredited foreign journalists,
and the online media operate in a legal limbo.

For now, the new media outlets present no real threat to the Communist
authorities, whether by their tone or their audience.

In Cuba, only a tiny fraction of the population goes online regularly.
And, reading the independent press generally is not a priority.

"I'm probably the only crazy one connecting by WiFi to send an article
or read the press," said The Sneeze's Jimenez.

"Everyone would rather talk to their mother who left (Cuba), with their
brother, or look for a tennis partner," he joked.

Source: In Cuba, online media pry open state grip on news -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cuba-online-media-pry-open-state-grip-news-020224243.html Continue reading
"It's Hard for the Government to Tolerate the Professionalism of
Independent Journalists"

14ymedio, Joanna Columbie, Havana, 21 October 2016 – Ignacio Gonzalez is
frequently seen in the streets of Havana with microphone in hand
recording citizens' reactions to a flood, a historic baseball game or
the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of
Cuba and the United States. Independent journalist and editor of the Hot
Free Press (ECPL) agency, the young man aspires to continue excelling
professionally and thinks that non-government media are experiencing a
time of growth.

Recently Gonzalez spent 48 hours under arrest at a police station as a
consequence of his work as a reporter, an arrest that is among the
repressive acts carried out against independent journalism in recent months.

Columbie: How was Hot Free Press born?

Gonzalez: It comes from the idea that people are again gaining
confidence in the independent press, which had lost a little due to
government propaganda that says that it involves unqualified and
mercenary journalists. We interview not only the regime's opponents but
also doctors, engineers, can collectors, mechanics, carpenters… people
like that.

Columbie: You suffered an arrest recently. What happened?

Gonzalez: I was doing a report together with another colleague on a
study of central Havana, and an operation began with a patrol car, five
police officers and two agents from State Security. They took us to the
fourth police unit and interrogated me in one of the offices. They made
me undress and squat forwards and backwards in order to see if I had
hidden any USB drives. I felt denigrated.

Then I was transferred to a police station on Zanja Street and later to
the 10th of October, located on Acosta Avenue. I was detained for 48
hours, which had never happened to me, because they had always detained
me between three and four hours.

Columbie. Were you accused of some crime or are you now subject to some
investigative process?

Gonzalez. They told me that they had a file on me and that I am a
counter-revolutionary. Although they assured me that my detention was
not because of political problems, but because I was committing an
illicit economic activity, since I had an agency where it was known that
I paid workers and that I had no license to practice this activity nor
was I accredited in the country. They also threatened me that my
equipment could be seized. I did not sign nor will I sign any paper.
There is no accusation as such, what I have is threats.

Columbie: Do you feel you are a "counter-revolutionary?"

Gonzalez: I told them that they were the counter-revolutionaries because
they refuse progress and all kinds of democracy to our country. If they
are going to put me in prison, they are going to have to do so also with
thousands of Cubans who bravely and spontaneously make statements for
our reports. Nor am I a mercenary. I work and get a salary for my work
with my press outlet.

What they want with their threats is that I stop being an independent
journalist and dedicate myself to taking photos for birthdays and
quinceañeras [girls' 15th birthday celebrations – a major coming-of-age
milestone].

Columbie: How do you define yourself?

Gonzalez: I am neither an opponent nor a dissident; I am a person who
practices journalism in favor of the truth. If the government does
something positive, I do an interview or a report about that topic, but
if it does something negative, I also bring it to light. If an opponent
commits an act of corruption, I bring it to light, and if he is making a
move in favor of the people, I do as well. That's how journalism should
be: impartial.

Columbie: Why do you believe that the repression against you has become
more intense now?

Gonzalez: The increasing growth of independent journalism is upsetting
them. We unofficial reporters have had the opportunity to attend
courses, improve ourselves, and the government doesn't tolerate it. This
improvement, this professionalism that journalists are acquiring, even
the audio-visual media which shows the whole world the news as it is, it
is hard for them to tolerate. They are trying to accuse us of
illegalities. It is a zero-tolerance policy towards the independent press.

In the case of Hot Free Press we are making reports almost of the same
quality as Cuban television, but with the difference that we are not
censored. We are reaching people; we have managed to make people feel a
little more confident with the independent press, to give their
statements. We have even found among members of the public that they say
that if it's not for national television, they say whatever they want.
They are more disposed to make statements to independent outlets because
they know that the national press belongs to the government and simply
does not work.

Columbie: Are other non-governmental press agencies going through the
same situation?

Gonzalez: I have not seen the same attitude with the rest of the new
supposedly independent programs, like Bola 8 or Mi Havana TV. These just
have a lot of nonsense. Supposedly they are being financed by the
self-employed, but I work in this industry, and I know that the
self-employed cannot pay for a production like these programs are
showing. There are diverse locations and entry to places to which the
independent press does not have access.

Columbie: How would you define the practice of the press in Cuba outside
of the official sphere?

Gonzalez: Being an independent journalist here is like being a war
correspondent.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: "It's Hard for the Government to Tolerate the Professionalism of
Independent Journalists" – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/its-hard-for-the-government-to-tolerate-the-professionalism-of-independent-journalists/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Joanna Columbie, Havana, 21 October 2016 – Ignacio Gonzalez is frequently seen in the streets of Havana with microphone in hand recording citizens’ reactions to a flood, a historic baseball game or the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States. Independent journalist and editor of the Hot Free … Continue reading "“It’s Hard for the Government to Tolerate the Professionalism of Independent Journalists”" Continue reading
Laritza Diversent, Devastated by the Police Operation Against Cubalex /
Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 28 September 2016 — After passing the crossing of La Palma,
two kilometers from the old bus stop of Mantilla, El Calvario is found
nestled, a district of one-story houses, roads without asphalt and a
multitude of dogs without owners.

At the end of a narrow alley the Cubalex Center of Legal Information
headquarters is located, a two-story house constructed from private
resources, that also serves as the waiting room for the public on the
lower floor and housing on the upper floor.

There, in the summer of 2011, the lawyer, Laritza Diversent Cambara, 36
years old, founded a law office to give legal advice to citizens without
charging anything nor caring about the person's ideological position.

"The last year we dealt with more than 170 cases. Most of the people
were poor and without resources, and they felt helpless because of the
State's judicial machinery. We advised on homicides, cases of violence
against women, drugs, prostitution and also for any dissident who needed
it," indicated Laritza, seated on a small roofed patio at the back of
her house.

The judicial illiteracy in Cuba is lamentable. Very few know the
Fundamental Law of the Republic or the proceedings that the police force
must fulfill during arrests, confiscations or when they give a simple
citation.

Since 2009, lawyers like Laritza Diversent has given lectures to
bloggers, independent journalists and the opposition, so they would know
how to act at the moment of an arrest.

But the laws in Cuba are an abstraction. They are a set of legal
regulations that supposedly should be respected by the authorities. But
the repressive forces are the first to violate them.

What occurred on Friday, September 23 is an example. Lartiza says that
"several neighbors had warned us about an operation that State Security
was preparing. About 20 uniformed agents presented themselves in the
office, some with pistols in their belts, as officials of several State
institutions. They brought a search warrant that didn't comply with the
requirements established by law. When we let them know it, they resorted
to force and invaded the entrance of the Cubalex headquarters, which at
the same time is my home."

They destroyed the door to the patio and came into the living quarters
after forcing the kitchen door. Now inside, they took away five
computers, seven cell phones, a server, six security cameras, three
printers, digital media, archives and money.

"They acted with total impunity and arrogance. The authorities assume
they are above the law. They filmed everything. Then they stripped us
one by one and body-searched us in a degrading way. It was really
humiliating," said Lartiza.

They took away and detained the lawyer, Julio Ferrer Tamayo, and the
activist Dayán Alfredo Pérez, whom they freed 12 hours later. Ferrer was
confined in the Zanja and Dragones police station, very close to the
Chinese Quarter of Havana.

Laritza assumes that the olive-green Regime could send Julio Ferrer to
prison. "From his family we found out that in a couple of days, Julio
will be presented in the Second Chamber of the criminal court. We will
do everything we can to prevent this."

Ferrer Tamayo, perhaps one of the best prepared Cuban jurists, was a
prosecutor in Guanabacoa and later a defense attorney. He knows like few
do about the corruption, nepotism and trafficking in influence in the
sewer of the legal system.

He has proof that points to several judges. When he decided to become an
independent lawyer, he suffered all kinds of harassment from State
Security. And in an underhanded legal plot, they sentenced him to three
years in prison. But his legal knowledge obliged the olive-green
autocracy to free him, without completing his sentence.

Now, everything indicates that they are going to prosecute him and
incarcerate him again. The coercion of Special Services has no limits on
the Island. Marienys Pavó Oñate, herself a lawyer and the wife of
Ferrer, has been confined since 31 July 2012 in the women's prison,
Manto Negro, in a case that he considers a conspiracy.

Cubalex, like other law offices and groups on the State's margins,
operate in a real judicial limbo. In one form or another, they have
tried to enroll in the Ministry of Justice Association's registry. But
either they haven't received a response, or they have been denied the
right to associate themselves legally.

In that regard, Laritza says that this indefinite or semi-clandestine
status was the perfect pretext to launch the violent operation against
Cubalex on Friday, September 23.

"At the head of the search was Lieutenant Colonel Juan Carlos Delgado
Casanova and the prosecutor, Beatriz Peña de la Hoz. But to give it a
veneer of legality, other officers participated, like the ones from the
Institute of Physical Planning, the National Office of Tax
Administration and the Integral Direction of Supervision, a body of
inspection that forms part of the Council of Provincial Administration,"
points out the lawyer from Havana.

The Cubalex team is worried about the legal actions that the State can
take against Jorge Amado Iglesias, a collaborator of the office, since
he has a license to work for himself and they can fine him 1,500 pesos.
For her part, Laritza suspects that Physical Planning initiated a
process in order to confiscate both the headquarters and her own home.
Since it's a process of investigation that can last for months, Cubalex
cannot take on any cases.

Laritza Diversent is devastated. She believes that the operation
suffered by the office, added to other cases of detentions and
confiscations against opponents and alternative journalists, could be
the beginning of an imminent repressive wave against the dissidence on a
national level. "I never thought that by defending human rights I would
have to go through all this," she says.

And that new turn of the repressive screw brings back memories of the
Black Spring of 2003. The only thing different in the modus operandi is
the season of the year. To make it true, it would have to be in the fall.

Note: The photo of Laritza Diversent in her office was taken by Iván on
Monday, September 26, three days after the police operation against
Cubalex, which took place on the first floor of her house. In 2009,
Laritza began writing as an independent journalist on the blog, Desde La
Habana (From Havana). Her works from that period can be read in the
folder entitled Las Leyes de Laritza (Lartiza's Laws).

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Laritza Diversent, Devastated by the Police Operation Against
Cubalex / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
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Cuba Forbids Opposition Observers from Traveling to Columbia Because
President Raul Castro "Is Visiting There" / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2016 – The reason put forth by the Cuban
authorities to block travel to Colombia by opposition members called to
be observers in the plebiscite on the that country's agreement with the
FARC, is "national security," because "the president is already there on
a visit."

This is what a security agent, who identified himself as Ronald, told
the activist Agustin Lopez, brother of Ada Lopez. The opponent described
his arrest to 14ymedio, after he was detained at three in the afternoon
on Monday when asking the police surrounding his house why they were
there. He was released at 6:40 PM on Tuesday.

His sister, the activist Ada Lopez, had denounced a police operation
around her house in Havana from the early hours of Tuesday, to keep her
from going to the airport. She was due to travel to Colombia that
afternoon to also participate as an observer in the plebiscite for peace
that is to be held on Sunday, 2 October, but she was arrested when she
left for the airport.

Ada Lopez, who is also a member of the independent library movement,
received an invitation to visit Colombia as a part of the Otro18 project
(Another 2018) an initiative focused on promoting new laws regarding
elections, free association and political parties in Cuba.

"I was leaving my house with a suitcase to try to get to the airport,"
explained Lopez, adding that the independent journalist Arturo Rojas
Rodriguez, who was scheduled to travel with her, "was arrested
yesterday, taken to a police station in the Capri neighborhood and
subsequently transferred to a station in Cotorro, to prevent him from
traveling."

Hours later, Ada Lopez's husband, Osmany Díaz Cristo, reported that she
had been arrested the moment she left her house headed to the José Martí
Airport's Terminal Three in Havana. "The suitcase she was traveling with
was thrown to the ground and she was dragged to the police car. Right
now she is at the police station in Regla," across the bay from Old
Havana, he added.

Both activists were invited to participate in the plebiscite by the
Election Observation Mission of Colombia (MOE), as confirmed by 14ymedio
through the opponent Manuel Cuesta Morua, one of the main promoters of
Otro18.

Last Sunday, Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to the city of
Cartagena de Indias for the signing ceremony of the peace agreement
between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.

Source: Cuba Forbids Opposition Observers from Traveling to Columbia
Because President Raul Castro "Is Visiting There" / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
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Ivan Garcia, 28 September 2016 — After passing the crossing of La Palma, two kilometers from the old bus stop of Mantilla, El Calvario is found nestled, a district of one-story houses, roads without asphalt and a multitude of dogs without owners. At the end of a narrow alley the Cubalex Center of Legal Information … Continue reading "Laritza Diversent, Devastated by the Police Operation Against Cubalex / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2016 – The reason put forth by the Cuban authorities to block travel to Colombia by opposition members called to be observers in the plebiscite on the that country’s agreement with the FARC, is “national security,” because “the president is already there on a visit.” This is what a security agent, … Continue reading "Cuba Forbids Opposition Observers from Traveling to Columbia Because President Raul Castro “Is Visiting There” / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 23 September 2016 — The headquarters of Cubalex, The
Center of Legal Information, located in the Havana municipality of
Arroyo Naranjo, was searched by National Revolutionary Police (PNR)
officers and State Security agents on Friday, as confirmed to this
newspaper by the independent journalist Osniel Carmona.

After two in the afternoon, the police burst into the site which is also
the home of independent attorney Laritza Diversent. Until after five in
the afternoon all the phones of Cubalex members remained out of service
and access to the house was restricted by the security forces, according
to what this newspaper was able to confirm.

Seven people were inside the home at the time the search started, among
whom were Ariadna Romero, Yamara Curbelo Rodríguez, María Bonet, Teresa
Perdomo, Amado Iglesias, Diego Ricardo and Laritza Diversent herself.

During the morning Laritza Diversent had informed 14ymedio that there
was a operation "organized by State Security agents and the police"
around the house. She explained that several neighbors advised her of
the presence of "buses and patrol cars," so she feared they would
eventually get inside the house.

T"a report on the status of freedom of expression in Cuba" that she
presented "to the special rapporteur for freedom of expression" in the
city of Geneva "in mid-August."

"We feel that we are now at risk and are calling all our contacts asking
for help so that the world knows that right now our office and our
organization are at risk," the attorney warned by phone.

The activist Kirenia Yalit Núñez, a member of Cubalex who is just a few
blocks away, explained that the agency "had a judicial order but Laritza
rejected it because it wasn't valid." However, a little later "they
broke into the house with a crowbar and broke several locks."

After six in the evening the activist Teresa Perdoma was released and
she said that they had threatened Diversent with an accusation of
"illicit economic activity." The police also warned that they would take
"all the equipment, like computers, flash memories and hard drives."

She was arrested in the operation and taken to the Dayan Perez Noriega
police station, where she tried to send Twitter messages reporting what
happened. The other activists remained in the building until eight
o'clock on Friday night. Two police patrol cars guarded the entrance.

The Legal Information Center, Cubalex, is an independent entity that has
provided free legal advice since 2011. The lawyers' group also focuses
on Human Rights issues. In July of this year Cuba's Ministry of Justice
rejected the application for legal status presented by its members.

Source: Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters / 14ymedio – Translating
Cuba -
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14ymedio, Havana, 23 September 2016 — The headquarters of Cubalex, The Center of Legal Information, located in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, was searched by National Revolutionary Police (PNR) officers and State Security agents on Friday, as confirmed to this newspaper by the independent journalist Osniel Carmona. After two in the afternoon, the police … Continue reading "Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters / 14ymedio" Continue reading
UNPACU Reaches 5th Anniversary Amid Achievements And Criticisms /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Luz Escobar/Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 24 August 2016 – Five
years can be a long time in Cuba, when we're talking about an opposition
organization. In the complex kaleidoscope of dissident groups and
parties that make up civil society on the island, many are active for
only a few months or languish amid repression and illegality. The
Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) will reach its fifth anniversary on
Wednesday with several of its initial objectives completed and others
still in progress.

While the Cuban government classifies all opponents as "enemies" of the
nation and "hirelings of the Empire," UNPACU members have preferred to
describe themselves in their own words. They consider themselves "a
citizens' organization and a pro-democracy and progressive social
movement" interested in "freedom, sovereignty and prosperity." Their
epicenter is the city of Santiago de Cuba and other areas in Eastern
Cuba, although they also have a presence in Havana.

Organized around their leader and most visible head, Jose Daniel Ferrer,
UNPACU was born in 2011 after the process of the release of the last
prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring, among whom was Ferrer. Ferrer's
prior experience was in the ranks of the Christian Liberation Movement
(MCL), which was vital for his own political development, according to
what he has said in several interviews.

Over the years, several faces have stood out in UNPACU's ranks, such as
the young Carlos Amel Oliva, who recently led a hunger strike in protest
of the arbitrary arrests and confiscations of personal belongings.
However, UNPACU has also suffered, like the rest of the country, the
constant exodus of its members through the refugee program offered by
the United States Embassy and other paths of emigration.

Among those who have decided to stay on the island, is Lisandra Robert,
who never imagined she would join an opposition organization. Her future
was to be a teacher, standing in front of a classroom and reviewing
mathematical formulas and theories. However, her studies at Frank Pais
Garcia University of Teaching Sciences ended all of a sudden when she
refused to serve as an undercover agent for State Security. The
"mission" they demanded of her was to report on the activities of
several activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, among them two of her
family members.

Today, Robert is a member of UNPACU, and although she started with the
group as an independent journalist, with the passing of time she has
addressed the issue of political prisoners. "At first it was hard,
because the neighbors participated in the acts of repudiation, they
wouldn't look at us or speak to us." Something has changed because "now
they are the ones most supportive of us."

Among the characteristics that distinguish the work of UNPACU is the use
of new technologies. Through copies on CDs, USB memory sticks or
external hard discs, Cubans have seen the acts of repudiation from the
point of view of the opponents who have been victims of them, and they
have even used tools such as Twitter, which they teach in their Santiago
headquarters.

"This is a way to bring more people to all the work we do and they
receive it with love and great appreciation, because we also include
news that doesn't appear in the national media," says Robert.

Zaqueo Báez's face became known during the mass Pope Francis offered in
Havana's Plaza of the Revolution last September. Along with other
colleagues, the current UNPACU coordinator in Havana approached the
Bishop of Rome and demanded the release of the political prisoners. This
Tuesday he told 14ymedio that he felt "very proud" of belonging to the
movement dedicating "great efforts" to "social work undertaken directly
with people to involve those most in need."

Jose Daniel Ferrer, on a visit to Miami, said he was satisfied by what
has been achieved and feels that "in its first year UNPACU was already
the opposition organization with the most activists in Cuba." The figure
of 3,000 members stated publicly has been a center of controversy, such
as that sustained between Ferrer and Edmundo Garcia, a Cuban journalist
living in Florida. On this occasion, Garcia asked sarcastically, "How
many people (from UNPACU) can you introduce me to?"

Garcia also questioned the organization's source of funding and said the
United States government was the main source, through the National
Endowment for Democracy. Ferrer openly acknowledged that part of the
funding comes from the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and
what he describes as "generous contributions from Cuban exiles."

Former political prisoner Felix Navarro belonged to UNPACU, but said he
had left the group "without grievance, without separation." He considers
it "the most representative organization in opposition to Castro within
the Cuban nation." In addition, "it is in the street and has created a
very positive mechanism from the point of view of the information to
immediately find out what is happening every minute."

For José Daniel Ferrer one of the biggest challenges is to achieve "a
capable and committed leadership" because many activists "scattered on
the island don't do better activism because of not having good
leadership." The limitation on resources such as "equipment, disks,
printers and the money it takes to bring more people into the work of
spreading information" also hinders the action of training, he adds.

The dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua considers UNPACU to be "one of the
most active organizations, especially in non-violent protests in the
streets, bringing light and giving relief to the demands of ordinary
people." A result of this activism is that in April of this year the
number of political prisoners belonging to the organization rose to 40
people.

When Jose Daniel Ferrer was asked if UNPACU can remain active without
him in the personal leadership position that has characterized Cuban
political movements, he responds without hesitation: "It has been
demonstrated very clearly in my absence."

Source: UNPACU Reaches 5th Anniversary Amid Achievements And Criticisms
/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
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