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September 2017
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Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 22 September 2017 — In that bit of Havana between Calle Línea and Avenida del Malecón, people are still taking out mattresses, clothes, furniture, and other things damaged by the sea which was driven inland by the powerful Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, and leaving them to air in the sun. In any park, … Continue reading "What if Hurricane María had gone through Cuba? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 18 September 2017 — TV Cuba is different. In the news, we see mechanical shovels collecting debris, brigades of electrical linemen repairing the posts blown down by the powerful hurricane and optimistic citizens who “trust that the revolution will not leave them helpless.” Real Cuba is something else. Garbage collection is done at a snail’s … Continue reading "Cuban Hurricane Victims Demand Cuts in Prices and Customs Fees / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García,13 September 2017 — On Friday September 9th, Omar, 55 years old, set up two speakers in his house,  located in an inside corridor off San Lázaro Street, in Lawton, in the south of Havana, just like he does almost every weekend, and, at 6 in the evening he started to open some bottles of … Continue reading "Cuba: The Day After / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García,5 September 2017 — In addition to packing several blouses, underwear and a pair of worn-out jeans the night before travelling to Havana, twenty-six-year-old Magda brought along three homemade cheeses and four kilograms of ground roast coffee. She plans on selling the cheese and coffee. For six years Madga has been teacher at a … Continue reading "Cuba’s School Year: Fewer Teachers, More Expenses for Parents / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 30 August 2017 — Since his wife died two years ago, Manuel hasn’t been eating properly. At night, he sits in front of an obsolete cathode ray tube television, and usually watches the news or the baseball while he drinks some fourth-rate rum bought from a convenience store. His big old house with high … Continue reading "Cuban Universities Need Autonomy / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 26 August 2017 — Shortly after five in the morning, before walking a quarter-mile to the house of the owner of a Ford with a 1948 chassis, Reinerio, 56, wolfed down his egg sandwich and the usual strong breakfast coffee. The owner of the Ford rents it for 600 Cuban pesos a day (about … Continue reading "Private Taxi Drivers: The Government Always Looks for a Way to Fuck Us Over / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 18 August 2017 — While slicing pork and a half-dozen chicken breasts into cutlets, which he then weighs on a digital scale, the owner of a cafe in Havana’s south side that serves light meals and sandwiches gets a call on his cell phone. “Hey. Listen, partner, have you got any beef? Or … Continue reading "Private Businesses in Cuba Sound the Alarm / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 14 August 2017 — A week in Punta Cana, Cancun, or some paradisiacal beach in the Bahamas. And if the family is well heeled, two weeks on a luxury cruise. The excursion to an all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean, in addition to the quinceañeara and her parents, can include the girl’s best friend … Continue reading "Quinceaneras in Cuba: A Vanity Catwalk / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 8 August 2017 — When night falls on Havana’s Malecon, an optical illusion gave the impression that on the horizon the sun was devouring the sea. This is the hour when Daniel, a retiree of 66, sat himself down on a wooden bench and, along with several neighbors, and drinks the worst quality … Continue reading "The Day Havanans Shouted "Down With Fidel!" / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 6 August 2017 — Havana, 4 August 1994. Amidst the suffocating heat, 12-hour blackouts, the devalued currency, and the scarcity of food, the sensations felt on the streets of Havana 23 years ago had reached the breaking point. Frustration and social malaise were in full bloom. People sat on the corners making plans … Continue reading "The Maleconazo, Cuba’s First Popular Revolt, Happened 23 Years Ago / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 31 July 2017 — Although they speak bad Spanish, with sentences chopped-up and sometimes incoherent, Sarah and Liudmila, in theory, are not illiterate. Their academic certificates show they passed the twelfth grade. After finishing pre-university with their high school diplomas, they opted for the quickest way to make some money — working as … Continue reading "Cuba: Killing the Language and Making Beauty Ugly / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 August 2017 — Not even the threat of rain accompanied by a slight coastal breeze dampens the terrible heat that of this summer in Havana. People on the street are in a bad mood. The sun burns, public services are inefficient as always, and empty dinner plates mobilize thousands of capital residents to rummage … Continue reading "Cubans on the Island Don’t Like Maduro / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 July 2017 — Hunched and wearing an oversized military uniform, helped by his grandson-cum-personal-bodyguard, Raul Castro rose from the beige leather armchair at the presidential desk and with the air of an exhausted old man, and went to the dais to give the closing speech of the conclave. He placed a folder … Continue reading "Raul Castro Now a Retiree-in-Waiting / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 24 July 2017 — Cuba’s incipient civil society, independent journalism and political activism on the island is starting to find the cupboard is bare. According to a US embassy official in Havana, “Seven out of ten dissidents chose to settle in the United States after the Cuban government’s new immigration policy in January … Continue reading ""Since 2013, 7 of every 10 Cuban dissidents have settled in the US" / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 10 June 2017 — The heat is terrible. Not even a light breeze in the wide entry to Carmen Street, by Plaza Roja de la Vibora, thirty minutes from Havana centre. Reinaldo, an old chap, depressed, seated on a wall facing the water tank of the building where he lives, waits for the water … Continue reading "Without Water in Havana / Ivan Garcia / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 15 July 2017 — Even the street dogs, ragged and hungry, take cover under the roofs in Havana when the clock marks 1 PM. The sun burns and humidity gives you sweat marks on your clothes. After noon the Havana’s street look like the Saharan desert. People take cover in their houses and those … Continue reading "Salaries in Cuba are a Joke / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 14 June 2017 — What you lose last is hope. And those who have plans to immigrate to the United States maintain bulletproof optimism. Close to a small park in Calzada street, next to Rivero’s funeral home, dozens of restless people await their appointment for the consular interview at the American Embassy located … Continue reading "Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García,  11 July 2017 —  After painting the facades of several buildings along 10 de Octobre street, the workers of the brigade shelter from the terrifying heat in doorways, eating lunch, having a smoke or simply chatting. These days, in Havana’s La Vibora neighborhood, in the area between Red Square and the old Bus … Continue reading "How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 28 June 2017 — On Havana there are illegal stores for all tastes. Pirated jeans at 20 CUC, copies of Nike shoes at 40 CUC and imitation Swiss watches at 50 CUC. People with higher purchasing power mark the difference. By catalog, they buy fashions, smartphones, LED lights, Scotch whiskey, Spanish wines. And … Continue reading "Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 July 2017 — The fan stopped turning around 3:30 in the morning, when in the middle of a heat wave, a black out forced Ricardo, his wife and their two children to sleep on a mat on the balcony of their apartment in the Lawton neighborhood, a thirty minute drive from central … Continue reading "Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 8 July 2017 — Without too much caution, the CUPET tanker truck painted green and white begins to deposit fuel in the underground basement of a gas station located at the intersection of Calle San Miguel and Mayía Rodríguez, just in front of Villa Marista, headquarters of State Security, in the quiet Sevillano neighborhood, … Continue reading "If Trump Ends Our Remittances? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 21 June 2017 — One morning, eighth grade students at a high school in La Vibora, a neighborhood in southern Havana, are waiting to take a Spanish test. After drinking a glass of water, the principal clears her throat and lashes out with the traditional anti-imperialist diatribe, denouncing the interference of “Mr. Trump … Continue reading "Trump Provides the Perfect Stage for the Castro Regime / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 19 June 2017 — For both countries it amounts to a remake of the Cold War, this time in version 2.0. It will take time to determine the scope of the contest or if the new diplomatic battle will involve only bluffs, idle threats and blank bullets. With an unpredictable buffoon like Donald … Continue reading "Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 June 2017 — “Impotence.” This is the word that a performer in the Guiñol Theater (located in the basement of the FOCSA building in Havana’s Vedado district) uses when asked her opinion of the new Trump Doctrine regarding Cuba. On a day of African heat, a group of eight waits to navigate the Internet … Continue reading "Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García" 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
Ivan Garcia, 8 June 2017 — The die is cast. At the special session of the National Assembly of People’s Power held on May 31 and June 1 at the Palace of Conventions, delegates have, as expected, approved the economic plan for 2016 to 2021 and a national plan for economic and social development for … Continue reading "Being Rich Is Banned in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 20 May 2107 — A downpour in May hits the corrugated metal roof hard. Water filters in through several holes into the house of Mireya, a blind, half-deaf seventy-one-year-old woman. She relies on pieces of black rubber to cover and protect her most precious possessions: an obsolete Chinese television with cathode ray tubes … Continue reading "Where is Socialism in Cuba? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 June 2017 — In coming days when the administration of the unpredictable Donald Trump, following four months of review, announces its Cuba policy, it could be that Obama’s guidelines are retained save for touch-ups of a few items such as doing business with military enterprises that directly benefit the dictatorship. Good news … Continue reading "Cuba: From Worse to Impossible (and We Haven’t Hit Bottom Yet) / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 26 MAY 2017 — Ideology is no longer the most important consideration if you want to get an administrative position in Cuba’s chaotic business and commercial network. They only ask you to do two things: fake support for the autocracy and show loyalty to government business. If you have both these qualities, they will remove … Continue reading "The Cuban Government, Complicit in Corruption and Peddling Favours / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 6 May 2017 — Some people in Cuba, not just a minority, want blood. And more severe laws for criminals. While the Catholic Church and different international institutions are advocating a crusade to eliminate the death penalty on the Island, there are people who, for many reasons, think firing squads should be reactivated. If … Continue reading "Cubans Want More Severe Laws for Criminals / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 1 June 2017– The majority of the openly anti-Castro opponents I know do not live in lavish mansions nor do they possess items fashioned with the latest technology. Neither do they boast bank accounts in financial paradises and they do not own yachts or beach houses.  I don’t believe any of them know how … Continue reading "Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 17 May 2017 — In front of an old mansion on 17th Street in Vedado that now serves as the headquarters of the Union of Writers and Artists, there is a poster showing hundreds of men dressed in battle fatigues and lined up in military formation. A resounding verdict in two rows of … Continue reading "Cuba: More Castroism but Without the Castros / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 26 April 2017 — When night falls, it’s not advisable to walk through certain neighborhoods in Havana. Like the one from El Curita Park, on Reina and Galiano, up to the corner of Monte and Cienfuegos. In addition to the disagreeable odor from the sewer water running through the streets, you’ll see propped-up buildings, … Continue reading "Havana: Clandestine Business Deals, Poverty and Glamor / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 15 May 2017 — The plastic drawers holding garments for men and women give off the usual scent of things that have have been in storage for a long time. We are in a government-run store that sells used clothing on the Calzada de Monte, a busy thoroughfare lined with state-owned retail establishments, privately … Continue reading "Getting Dressed in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 11 May 2017 — Scarcely a block away from the majestic Grand Hotel Manzana Kempinski, whose inauguration is expected next June 2nd, next to the Payret cinema, a state-owned cafeteria sells an acidic and insipid hamburger with bread for the equivalent of 50 centavos. Workers in the neighbourhood and beggars who survive on asking … Continue reading "Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let’s step back in time. One morning in 1985, Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet entitled “Nueva Cuba.” After distributing the single-page, handmade newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall … Continue reading "Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk only to later write a critical analysis on the state press’s awful performance. “The Cuban press is disgusting. … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to theFreedom of Expression / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 May 2017 — When he is particularly bored, after flicking through the eight channels that there are on the island, 56 year old civil engineer Josuan watches the national news some nights with a smirk only to later write a critical analysis on the state press’s awful performance. “The Cuban press is disgusting. … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime is an Enemy to the Freedom of Expression / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 2 May 2017 — On an afternoon like any other, an underground seller of beef, living in the southeast of Havana, bought flank steaks wholesale from a slaughterer, to then sell them to private restaurants and neighbours who could afford them. He filleted the chops and started to offer them for the equivalent of three dollars a pound. … Continue reading "Eating Steak and Fries is a Luxury in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 28 April 2017 — Soot covers the unpainted facades of buildings on Tenth of October Boulevard. Old American cars from the 1950s, rebuilt with modern diesel engines and now privately operated as taxis, transit across asphalt, leaving behind a trail of black smoke and the unpleasant odor of gasoline. The noonday sun glimmers in … Continue reading "If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 5 April 2017 — He says his name is Alejandro. A thin, timid mulatto, dressed in light-blue jeans, a pullover sweater with Prussian-blue collar, and low-cut black sneakers. In one hand is a dark briefcase. He speaks quietly and deliberately. He looks like a recent graduate of the Cuban counterintelligence school. According to the … Continue reading "State Security Summons for Ivan Garcia / Ivan Garcia" Continue reading
Iván García,9 April 2017 — They did not put a Makarov pistol to his head or torture him with electric prods. Let’s call him Josué. (The names in his article have been changed). He is a guy who wears American-made jeans, listens to jazz by Winton Marsalis on his iPhone 7 and is a diehard … Continue reading "How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 April 2017 — Money is no object. When it comes to thwarting, harassing and repressing intellectuals or journalists, there are always enough funds in military’s coffers to write a blank check. Solid numbers are hard to come by but, according to conservative estimates, Cuba’s special services and armed forces account for roughly 35% … Continue reading "Cuban Counterintelligence Plays Hardball with Journalists / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García , 21 February 2017 — The wood charcoal embers are slowly browning half a dozen kebabs with vegetables, pineapples and pieces of pork, while, on a shelf, the flies are hovering around the steamed corn cobs. From very early in the morning, Jesús, a chubby mulatto with calloused hands, gets on with cooking chicken, pork … Continue reading "The Fidel Castro Fair / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 21 April 2017 — There is a slightly damp and cold breeze when Antonio, after drinking a rather bitter sip of coffee, with his wooden cart with rusty steel wheels, moves to a water spout in Manglar Street, very close to an old Sports field in the overpopulated neighborhood of La Victoria, in the … Continue reading "Cuba: Risk of Health Crisis Due to Lack of Potable Water / Iván García" Continue reading