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Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 15 February 2018 — He’s like a character out of a dark novel by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez. He turned 30 on December 2, 2017, and the life of Luis Manuel Otero has been marked by survival. He still remembers the 12-hour blackouts when he was a kid, in the middle of the Special … Continue reading "Luis Manuel Otero: From Athlete to Dissident Artist / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 8 February 2018 — It was Sofia’s fifteenth birthday. Between her parents and relatives living abroad, they saved $3,700, enough to pay for a week in a four star hotel in Cancún.  After finding out via international media about the brutal violence devastating nearly all the Mexican states, they decided to change their planes … Continue reading "The Virtual Wall of the Mexican Embassy in Havana / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 1 February 2018 — “What concerns me most right now is to finish building the room for my eldest daughter who plans to give birth to a girl at the end of February,” confesses Eduardo, the warehouse manager of a bakery west of Havana, as drives along in his uncomfortable and tiny Fiat made … Continue reading "Elections and the Future Cuban Government / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 6 February 2018 —  A silent police patrol began to search passersby they considered suspicious. When they saw it, the illegal tomato sellers quickly hid their merchandise on the staircase of a building in Havana’s Vibora neighborhood at Acosta and Diez de Octubre. An old woman, a regular seller of the newspaper Granma … Continue reading "The Other Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 29 January 2018 — At the foot of a small stairway, at the entrance of the former Vibora Institute of Secondary Education which is now René O’Reiné High School, a group of students smoke one cigarette after another and argue loudly about football. They are sitting on a cement floor and lean their backs … Continue reading "Jose Marti: A Hostage of the Cuban Regime / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 26 January 2018 — When it seems that all the doors for emigration to a first world country are closed, that the blue Cuban passport is not welcome at most border crossings, and putting yourself into a boat to get to the United States is not just useless but suicidal, Mayra, a university … Continue reading "Cuban Emigration Carries On / Iván García" Continue reading
Ed. Note: This article talks about Cuba’s two currencies, the Cuban peso and the Cuban convertible peso, and the potential ‘unification’ of the two currencies. The Cuban peso is also called “national money” and by the acronym “CUP.” The Cuban convertible peso (“CUC”) only came into use in 1994. It is not convertible outside the … Continue reading "The Dollar Strengthens In Cuba In Anticipation Of Currency Unification / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 January 2018 — Ana Gálvez, now 72, spent eight months picking sweet potatoes, yuccas and squash in a state agricultural enterprise outside of Havana before she was allowed to leave for the United States in 1971. “They treated us as if we were prisoners or slaves. The food was disgusting. We had to work twelve … Continue reading "The "Worms" and the Future of Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 18 December 2017 — On the night of Thursday, 14 December at night, after fifteen hours on the road under a copious downpour, from Sagua de Tánamo, in Holguín, province 530 miles northwest of Havana, in an old General Motors truck from the 1950s, Erasmus and his wife arrived in Havana ready to fulfill … Continue reading "Cuba: The Devotion to Saint Lazarus / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 4 January 2018 — The initial surprise is making him more and more angry and likely to lose his temper. Sitting in a black leather armchair in the living room in his house, 43-year-old Armando, a qualified physical education instructor, first moves his head from side to side, then smiles cynically, until he … Continue reading "For The Ordinary Cuban, Things Could Get Worse In 2018 / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 9 January 2017 — Jumping from a conversation about football one about Cuban domestic politics is not exactly an exercise in rational balance. That is why Eduardo, a veterinarian in a cooperative outside Havana, responded with a prolonged silence when the street debate took an unexpected turn. The group was chatting in a corner in … Continue reading "Raul Castro Postpones His Retirement / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2018 — When the old Soviet-era truck was parked in front of a pharmacy in Havana’s La Víbora neighborhood, a line of more than thirty people soon formed to acquire some of the medicines unloaded. Nearby, at the entrance of a produce market, dozens of retirees and housewives waited to buy tomatoes. In the … Continue reading "Cuba 2017: Waiting for a Miracle / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 12 december 2017 — On 28 January 1976 in Havana, Ricardo Bofull founded the Cuban Committee For Human Rights, along with Edmigio López and Marta Frayde. Forty-one years later, the independent journalist Tania Díaz Castro, in her house in Havana’s Jaimanitas neighborhood, west of the capital, surrounded by dogs and books, recalls that era. “I … Continue reading "Cuba: ’The Human Rights People’ / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 22 December 2017 — You sense it, the penetrating smell of dead pigs, opened in the middle and showing their viscera, as soon as you enter the state-owned smoked meat production center in the municipality Diez de Octubre, south of Havana. Four people with green surgeon hats and high rubber boots sort the pigs. Some … Continue reading "Christmas and New Year’s in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 20 December 2017 — The place where Anselmo and Yolanda prepare their food has cracked walls and soot covers the entire room. Modernity has not arrived. They cook with kerosene, wood or charcoal. Fixed to the wall, two casserole dishes of medium proportions soaked by the excessive use of fire and blackened from the lack … Continue reading "In Cuba the Future is More Frightening Than the Present / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 15 December 2017 — In the papers, it appeared that El Encanto state pizzeria, in Havana’s La Vibora neighborhood half an hour by car from downtown Havana, sold around a dozen daily products: lasagna, cannelloni, five versions of spaghetti and pizzas, beer, entrepanes (sandwiches), guava, crab and empanadas, among other offers. But the reality … Continue reading "Cuba: The Black Market Never Sleeps / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 4 December 2017 — Let’s call him Ramón, 65, a city bus driver. He says that one morning he realized that he had arrived in the third age when he couldn’t tie his shoelaces sitting on the sofa in his living room. His sedentary lifestyle and a prominent belly prevented him from doing it. “Nature is … Continue reading "The Indifferent: The Great Cuban Dissidence / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 8 December 2017 — While the group of young people from a high school in La Víbora, south of Havana, were in a physical education class on a dirt track adjacent to the school, Andrés, 40, with a cardboard box on his legs, masturbated frantically sitting on the cement floor of the basketball court. … Continue reading "Women in Cuba Can’t Take it Any More / Iván García" Continue reading
  Ivan Garcia, 13 November 2017 — In the studio there are three light reflectors that give off an unbearable heat. In the background there is a wall of mirrors and two white umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. Joan, a professional photographer, considers himself a freelancer. He also sells audiovisual packages to foreign press agencies based in Havana, … Continue reading "Fifteenth Birthday Parties, Also for Boys / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 27 November 2017 — In a dirty and unventilated state bar on Tenth of October Avenue, which sells for six pesos (0.35 cents), with their tankard of beer served, two speakers reproduce a recital by La Lupe. At a table in the background, Joel, with his glassy eyes, leans his back against a wall … Continue reading "Fidel Castro Everywhere / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 20 November 2017 — While Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the oldest dictator in the world at age 93, was giving a televised statement from Harare, surrounded by soldiers and elegantly-dressed officials, many miles away from Zimbabwe, Edna, a history professor at a pre-university, was washing clothes in Havana, in an anachronistic Aurika from the … Continue reading "The Crisis in Zimbabwe is Barely Mentioned in the Cuban Media / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 7 November 2017 — A fat man with a tenor voice and a bag hanging across his chest, as he passes through the inner streets of the Lawton neighborhood, announcing that he buys empty perfume jars and plastic soft drink bottles. Two santiagueros fleeing poverty and lack of opportunities in their province, announce … Continue reading "Cuba Belongs to All Cubans / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 November 2017 — While several business owners from the island connected to the internet in the lobby of the EB Miami hotel a stone’s throw from the international airport, and others drank beer at nine dollars at the bar, a Cuban dissident lawyer who spent more than a decade in Puerto Rico and … Continue reading "The Private Sector, the Most Powerful in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 November 2017 — Twice a week, Mayté, a bank employee, usually talks with and sees her daughter through an internet app that she uses from a park in western Havana. The travel and immigration rules that the Cuba authorities will begin to apply as of 1 January 2018, still won’t allow professionals … Continue reading "Travel and Immigration Reforms Will Bring More Hard Currency to Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
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
Iván García, 9 October 2017 — Inside a Miami house devoid of grand architectural pretensions is a museum devoted to Brigade 2506. It commemorates the Cuban troops who came from the United States to confront the island’s militias and armed forces at the Bay of Pigs. On several wooden panels hung on the walls are hundreds … Continue reading "What Remains of Che in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia,25 September 2017 — If you want to go to the house of the 58-year-old dissident lawyer, Julio Ferrer Tamayo, the busy Esquina de Tejas, which is ten minutes by car from central Havana, can do as a reference point. Four important city streets meet at the famous corner; Monte, Infanta, Calzadas de Cerro, … Continue reading "Interview with Julio Ferrer Tamayo, Independent Cuban Lawyer / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 6 October 2017 — On Friday, 29 September, a light intermittent drizzle and overcast sky lent a mournful touch to the area around the United States Embassy in Havana. The six-story building with tinted glass and stone-clad facade, where every morning hundreds of people line up for consular appointments and dozens of dissidents … Continue reading "What Cubans Say About the Partial Closure of the US Embassy / Iván García" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 October 2017 — “The worst thing after a hurricane is that the food is lost,” says high school teacher Liana, 37, after making the rounds of several farmer’s markets and stores in the old part of Havana. “There are no eggs in the whole city, not even a package of hotdogs. More … Continue reading "The Cold War Returns to Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
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