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Repression

Cuba's Proxy War in Venezuela
Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal

The commitment to Maduro among soldiers and police is breaking down

Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro is responding to mass demonstrations
by selectively killing civilians. If, as a result, some branch of the
military breaks with the regime, the country will descend into civil
war. But until then it's a one-sided slaughter.

It's also a Cuban proxy war. More than a dozen high-ranking Cuban
officers are said to be in Venezuela, along with thousands of Cuban
intelligence agents. Their job is to keep Venezuelan army officers under
constant surveillance to prevent the feared military uprising to restore
democracy. If the international community wants to head off disaster, a
good place to start would be in Havana.

On Thursday Miami's El Nuevo Herald reported it has a recording of
Venezuelan generals—at a meeting in Barquisimeto three weeks ago—"giving
orders to use snipers to control demonstrators." According to the Herald
they did so "with the argument that they find themselves on the
threshold of a civil war."

Maybe the generals know something not yet acknowledged publicly—that the
commitment to Mr. Maduro among the nation's soldiers and police is
breaking down.

It happened once before, in April 2002, when snipers backing the regime
picked off protesters during a demonstration in Caracas. When some
members of the army refused to help then-President Hugo Chávez crack
down on the crowd, he was forced to step aside, albeit temporarily.

Once back in power, Chávez accelerated the recruitment and arming of
paramilitaries. Thousands now show up at antigovernment protests, firing
weapons into crowds and using their motorcycles to run down
demonstrators. If the Cubans remain the power behind the throne, there
will be no one to stop these trained killers from slitting the throats
of the opposition.

The possibility of a break inside the armed forces seems to be on the
rise. As the Journal's Anatoly Kurmanaev reported on Wednesday, National
Guard riot police are worn down from taking on thousands of street
protesters almost daily since the beginning of April. Rank-and-file
soldiers also are not immune to the hardship and hunger caused by Mr.
Maduro's senseless economic policies. They say they too are underpaid
and underfed.

The dictatorship is clearly worried about this and recognizes it will
lose a war of attrition. One source in Caracas who marched in the
streets Thursday observed a noted increase in regime repression.

In recent weeks government enforcers also have launched attacks on lower
middle-class neighborhoods where Maduro critics live. They break down
gates and doors, rampage through apartment complexes, fire tear-gas
canisters through windows and loot homes.

On May 7 the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported that between
April 4 and May 5 the National Guard, together with National Bolivarian
Police and chavista militia, invaded 11 different residential areas in
Caracas. One family of four in the El Paraíso district, requesting
anonymity, told of how they cowered together in a bathroom for eight
hours to keep from being asphyxiated by the tear gas that had inundated
the rest of their apartment.

It wasn't the first blitz on the building complex known as Terrazas del
Paraíso. On April 19 pro-government thugs smashed an iron grille to get
in and rob one of the neighbors. On April 26 civilian-clothed militia
entered the complex and fired rubber bullets, injuring some residents.
"But it was to frighten us, because they didn't steal anything," one of
the victims told the newspaper.

On May 11 El Nacional reported that since this most recent wave of
protests began, state security forces and paramilitary have engaged in
similar violence and theft against 13 condominiums in six cities
including Maracay, Valencia, Barquisimeto and Merida. Forty-seven people
have been killed in the violence perpetrated by the antiriot squads and
paramilitary madmen since early April.

This is state terrorism. But it may not have its intended effect. Most
of the country is solidly against the government, and this includes
low-income Venezuelans, once the base for chavismo. Paradoxically the
repression seems to be strengthening opposition resolve. Perhaps
Venezuelans have reached a tipping point. They will get new elections
and freedom for political prisoners, or are ready to die trying.

The brutality also may be eroding the confidence of the men and women in
uniform. Many seem not to have the stomach for the cruelty their Cuban
handlers expect from their South American protégés. On May 5 opposition
leader Henrique Capriles said 85 members of the armed forces, including
some young captains and sergeants, had been detained by the regime for
criticizing the repression. On May 19 a member of the National Guard was
arrested in Táchira for having crossed over to defend protesters.

The international community has the power, through sanctions, to rein in
Cuba. If it fails to do so, the Venezuelan opposition will be massacred.

Source: Cuba's proxy war in Venezuela | Babalú Blog -
https://www.babalublog.com/2017/05/22/cubas-proxy-war-in-venezuela/ Continue reading
"We Are Not Leaving Cuba", Say Members Of The Center For Coexistence Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: "We Are Not Leaving Cuba", Say Members Of The Center For
Coexistence Studies – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/we-are-not-leaving-cuba-say-members-of-the-center-for-coexistence-studies/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2017 — In the midst of a wave of pressure from the authorities, members of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC) have issued a declaration of commitment to their work on the island. “We are not leaving Cuba, we are not leaving the Church and we will continue working for the … Continue reading "“We Are Not Leaving Cuba”, Say Members Of The Center For Coexistence Studies" Continue reading
Activists on both sides still await President Trump's reset with Cuba
Ledyard King and Alan Gomez, USA TODAY Published 5:41 p.m. ET May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — Four months after he was sworn in, President Trump has yet
to make good on his vow to undo his predecessor's Cuba policies.

There were reports the president would unveil his plan on Saturday to
coincide with the 115th anniversary of Cuba's independence. But those
who oppose Barack Obama's thawing of diplomatic relations with the
communist country 90 miles south of Key West will have to wait until
next month.

Trump initially applauded Obama's decision to ease sanctions. But he
shifted during the last few months of last year's presidential campaign.
In media interviews, campaign speeches and tart tweets last fall, Trump
condemned Obama's Cuba policy saying it gave away too much without
requiring human rights guarantees from the Castro regime.


Then on Nov. 28, three weeks after he won the election and two days
following the death of Cuban President Fidel Castro, Trump tweeted an
ultimatum:

"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the
Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal."

Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio expects he'll follow through.

"The president has committed to addressing U.S. policy towards Cuba in a
way that supports our national security, democracy and human rights,"
said Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and one of Congress' fiercest
anti-Castro voices. "I have no doubt it is a commitment he will keep."

A top State Department official told reporters last week the
administration is conducting a "comprehensive policy review" that will
include an assessment of human rights progress in Cuba.

"I suspect that there will be important differences that will emerge
between how this administration plans to address the situation in Cuba"
and those under Obama, said Francisco Palmieri, acting Assistant
Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Because most of the steps Obama took to open up relations with Cuba,
such as opening an embassy, loosening the ability of Americans to visit
the island nation, easing trade and financial barriers, were
presidential orders, Trump could reverse them without congressional consent.

But whenever the president decides to announce his policy, anti-Cuba
hardliners might face some disappointment. Cuba experts don't expect
Trump to make the kind of wholesale changes to Cuba policy that he
hinted at during his presidential campaign.

Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, has been
a long-time advocate of maintaining the economic embargo on the
communist island and opposed Obama's decision to open up relations with
the island.

But even he doesn't expect — or want — Trump to change some of the core
aspects of the opening, such as the reestablishment of diplomatic
relations, the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana, and some
of the new business opportunities available to American companies who
have already invested millions in new ventures.

"You can never go back," Calzon said.

Instead, many believe Trump will tinker around the edges of Obama's
opening. That could include revoking some business opportunities that
are too closely tied to the Cuban government, or making it more
difficult for Americans to visit the island.

Frank Mora, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean
Center at Florida International University in Miami, said Trump has
never been adamant about shutting down Obama's Cuba opening, but feels
he must do something to satisfy Cuban-American voters, and members of
Congress, who supported him in Florida.

"They can't say, 'We were wrong, we're going to continue with Obama's
policy,'" Mora said. "They need to deliver something. They need to be
able to say, 'Promise made, promise delivered.' That way, they can go
home (and) declare victory. End of story."

But that's probably not a victory Cuban-Americans in Congress who remain
critical of the Castro regime are likely to salute.

They point to continued reports from rights groups suggesting very
little has changed since U.S-Cuba relations began thawing in 2014

"The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and punish public
criticism," according to a report from Human Rights Watch, "It now
relies less than in past years on long-term prison sentences to punish
its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders,
independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in
recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government
include beatings, public shaming, and termination of employment."

"Despite all of the propaganda, despite all of the misguided policy over
the past years, the reality is that the regime's repression is only
getting worse," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami-Dade, said on the
House floor Wednesday

"We must be honest about what is really going on in Cuba. We must not be
placated by the regime's lies or by those who repeat them," she said.
"We must fight for the truth and show the Cuban people that they are not
alone, that together we all stand in solidarity with them in the pursuit
of freedom."

Source: Cuba policy: Activists on both sides still await President
Trump's reset -
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/05/18/activists-both-sides-still-await-president-trumps-reset-cuba/101840226/ Continue reading
Cuban Government Extends Censorship To The Digital Site Somos+

14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2017 — The digital site of the Somos+ (We Are
More) Movement has now joined the list of pages censored on the servers
of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) which supply public
WiFi. The leader of the organization, Eliecer Avila, links this measure
to "the growing influence" of the site among the younger generation.

The government is "very aware of the statistics of who reads our blog
and from where they are reading it," says the opponent. "They have
simply detected that the site is a threat to the system's monolithic
discourse," he told 14ymedio on Tuesday.

"The blocking is the clearest sign our site is effective," he adds. "We
are trying to make a video tutorial of how it can be accessed despite
censorship" and for months "we have had a weekly newsletter that is sent
by email."

The independent movement has been subjected in the last months to strong
repression that includes the arrests of its members, police operations
around the homes where they meet and a raid on Avila's house, who is
being prosecuted for an alleged crime of "illicit economic activity."

Officialdom maintains censorship over several dozen critical pages, as
well as blogs and opinion sites that shed light on Cuba's most serious
social problems. Among the sites shuttered in this way are 14ymedio and
the news portals CubaNet, Diario de Cuba and Martí Noticias, among others.

Until the middle of last year the popular classified ad site
Revolico.com also was blocked on the national servers, but in August
access to that page was restored.

Cuban authorities have copied the Chinese model of filtering digital
sites by their content. A situation that Internet users are struggling
to overcome through the use of anonymous proxies, the so-called "virtual
private networks" (VPNs), and other tools such as the Android operating
system app Psiphon and the Tor browser.

Freedom House recently produced a report in which it identified 66
countries in which it believes that the free right to information is not
exercised. Cuba ranked among the top ten, in a list headed by North
Korea and Turkmenistan.

In September 2016, 14ymedio published an investigation into censorship
of words and phrases in text messaging in the cell phone network. The
state monopoly of telecommunications maintains at least fifty blocked
terms, among which the name of the organization Somos+ stands out.

Source: Cuban Government Extends Censorship To The Digital Site Somos+ –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-government-extends-censorship-to-the-digital-site-somos/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2017 — The digital site of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement has now joined the list of pages censored on the servers of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) which supply public WiFi. The leader of the organization, Eliecer Avila, links this measure to “the growing influence” of the site among … Continue reading "Cuban Government Extends Censorship To The Digital Site Somos+" Continue reading
Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/independent-journalism-seeks-to-revive-press-freedom-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Editorial: Vilma Espín, Homophobe
DDC | Madrid | 16 de Mayo de 2017 - 12:46 CEST.

When the first police raids of homosexuals were carried out in
revolutionary Cuba, Vilma Espín was already the wife of the head of the
armed forces, the sister-in-law of the regime's top leader, the woman
with the highest political position among the elite, and president of
the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the only gender-based organization
allowed in the new society.

When they imprisoned homosexuals and "other degenerates" in UMAP forced
labor camps, when they persecuted homosexuals and expelled them from
classrooms, theater companies and any setting in which they enjoyed
visibility, Vilma Espín occupied the same position and had the same
relatives.

When during the Mariel Boatlift homosexuals and lesbians were officially
placed on a par with criminals and delinquents, and it seemed expedient
to get rid of them, Vilma Espín's position remained as privileged as before.

As president of the FMC, during all those decades she should have
defended Cuban homosexuals and their families. But she did not, instead
fully supporting the policies that her brother-in-law and her husband
had devised.

When in 2010, in an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada
Fidel Castro recognized some responsibility for the existence of the
UMAP, Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Vilma Espín and Raúl Castro,
hastened to contradict her uncle in an effort to exculpate her father,
by then the ruler of the country.

Fidel and Raúl Castro and Vilma Espín are three of the figures most
responsible for repression against homosexuals in Cuba. Mariela Castro
Espín, too young to have actually participated in these events, is
currently in charge of whitewashing her elders' crimes. After
recognizing that the UMAP existed, and after promising an investigation
to clarify this phenomenon, she must also explain why this investigation
has never been carried out, and never will be.

Just as her mother took advantage of the struggle for women's rights,
she exploits the struggle for the rights of the LGBTI community in a
ploy to wield power and suppress dangerous freedoms. In the history of
her family's homophobia, her role has been to hide the horrors of the
past and to misrepresent that history to favor her family's interests.
It is not surprising, then, that the first postcard envelope "dedicated
to the lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) community in Cuba"
actually features a stamp graced by an image of her mother, Vilma Espín.

Other countries dedicate these kinds of postal products to true
activists for LGBTI rights, and artists and works from this community,
or to emblems like the rainbow flag. The circulation of these images
serves to raise the public's awareness of the rights and achievements of
these minorities. In the Cuban case, however, no seal will be circulated
including any mention of or allusion to the LGBTI community. What has
been issued, rather, is an envelope including a mere allusion. And,
unlike postage stamps, these envelopes are not meant to actually be
mailed, but rather to expand the collections of stamp collectors.

A postage stamp has not been issued acknowledging the LGBTI community,
but rather one honoring Vilma Espín, issued in 2008, and a great
opportunity for social activism and awareness raising has been
squandered. The family that has been Cuban homosexuals' worst enemy
dares to exploit this opportunity to burnish its image, at the expense
of those whom they denied and persecuted. Like her elders, Mariela
Castro Espín mocks the wishes and dreams of those she claims to
represent, this time by promising them a postage stamp for their cause,
and then circulating an image of her own mother.

Source: Editorial: Vilma Espín, Homophobe | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1494931609_31150.html Continue reading
Iván García, 3 May 2017 — Let’s step back in time. One morning in 1985, Yndamiro Restano Díaz, a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with Radio Rebelde, took out an old Underwood and wrote a clandestine broadsheet entitled “Nueva Cuba.” After distributing the single-page, handmade newspaper up and down the street, one copy ended up pinned to a wall … Continue reading "Independent Journalism Seeks to Revive Press Freedom / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 14 May 2017 – This Sunday Cuban State Security prevented Yoandy Izquierdo, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC), from boarding a flight to Sweden to participate in the Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF). The car in which the activist was traveling to José Martí International Airport was intercepted by the police, according to … Continue reading "State Security Prevents Yoandy Izquierdo From Boarding A Flight For Sweden" Continue reading
While the new U.S. president's policies on Cuba remain uncertain, the government in Havana appears to be more nervous about its domestic opposition than usual, as the island heads into … Click to Continue » Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – The number of political prisoners has doubled this year, according to the most recent report from the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which counts 140 people charged for these reasons in April, compared to 70 for the same months in 2016. The organization’s monthly accounting … Continue reading "Number of Political Prisoners Doubles In Last Year, According To Human Rights Group" Continue reading
Print section Print Rubric:  Latin America wakes up to its biggest headachePrint Headline:  Venezuela is not an islandPrint Fly Title:  Bello UK Only Article:  standard articleIssue:  The policy designed to make America great againFly Title:  BelloMain image:  20170513_AMD001_0.jpgYOU find them driving taxis in Buenos Aires, working as waiters in Panama or selling arepas (corn bread) in Madrid. The number of Venezuelans fleeing hunger, repression and crime in their ruptured country grows by the day. For years, Latin American governments kept quiet as first Hugo Chávez and then his successor, Nicolás Maduro, hollowed out Venezuela’s democracy. Now their economic bungling and Mr Maduro’s increasingly harsh rule are causing a humanitarian crisis that the region can no longer ignore. At last, it is not. Colombia and Brazil bear the brunt of the Venezuelan ... Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 10 May 2017 –The independent Cuban press has been especially harassed after the passage of Hurricane Matthew in the eastern part of the country. Several reporters were arrested while trying to cover the situation of the victims, reports the Association for Freedom of the Press (APLP) in its latest report. “The population of Baracoa … Continue reading "The Government Unleashed a Crackdown on Journalists After Hurricane Matthew" Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 9 May 2017 — Cubans have not seen the images of that lady who, armed only with her determination, stopped an armored police tank in the streets of Caracas. The official press also conceals the tears of those who have lost their children because of the repression of the those in uniform and the … Continue reading "Manipulation And Silence, Cuba’s Information Policy On Venezuela" Continue reading
Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of TodosMarchamos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall wants to sell Kansas wheat to Cuba
("Congressman reflects on a recent Cuba trip," High Plains Journal,
April 10), and has filled a bill that "allows" American banks and to
finance the Cuban government's purchase. Really? Cuba has one of the
worst credit records in the world. Americans shouldn't be dragooned into
the role of guarantors of credit extended to Cuba.

The real issue isn't selling to Cuba. It's getting Cuba to pay for what
it buys. The Heritage Foundation's 2017 Index of Economic Freedom puts
Cuba's credit rating right in the bottom—178th out of 180 countries,
followed by Venezuela and North Korea.

The problem : The average Cuban's salary is about $25 dollars a
month—there's no great purchasing power there. Havana has defaulted on
loans worth billions.

It's not a new issue. Despite raking in massive Soviet Union subsidies
and boasting Moscow was a better commercial partner than the United
States, Fidel Castro stopped payment in 1986 on the island's $16 billion
debt to the Paris Club, a consortium of foreign banks facilitating trade
with Cuba. By 2015, those banks had "forgiven" $4 billion of Cuba's
debt. Last year, Japan forgave $1.08 billion dollars (120 billion Yen)
owed by Cuba. The Castros dynasty seems to assume it never has to pay
off its loans. Uncle Sam must not become Cuba's next sucker.

American companies have been making sales for years to Cuba on a "cash
and carry" basis. In the year before Barack Obama became president,
American companies exported $711.5 million in foodstuffs to Cuba. By
2010, trade had dropped to $362.8 million and by 2015 to $180.2 million.
The decline was deliberate and intended to put pressure on U.S.
companies to lobby Congress and the U.S. administration to extend credit.

"Much has changed and in a very positive way," Marshall says now. In the
United States, many changes. In Cuba, not much change other than a
dramatic increase in repression. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights
documented 1,005 political arrests in 2008 and 9,940 in 2016.

The "greater mutual security" that the Congressman wants can't be
attained without considering the presence of Russian spy ships in
Havana's harbor and such hostile acts as Gen. Raul Castro's 2013 attempt
to smuggle war planes, hidden under tons of sugar, in a ship to North
Korea—a clear violation of United Nations' trade sanctions. That came as
President Obama prepared to re-establish diplomatic relations by making
numerous concessions to Cuba.

One of those concessions was removing Cuba from the U.S. list of
supporters of terrorism. Yet, Cuba today harbors numerous U.S.
criminals. On the FBI's "Most Wanted List" is a domestic terrorist
convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in cold blood. She was
sentenced to life in prison but escaped and fled to Cuba, where she
enjoys the regime's hospitality. The good people of Kansas may want to
ask President Donald Trump to demand her return and, if Cuba refuses, to
put the island nation back on the infamous list.

Before the Castro Revolution, Cuban teenagers used to sell expired
lottery tickets to naïve American tourists. Now Congressmen take guided
tours to Cuba. As Mark Twain observed: "It is easier to deceive folks,
rather than to convince them, they have been deceived." Extending credit
to "do business with Cuba" would be a deceit—and a very bad deal for
American taxpayers.

—Frank Calzon is executive director of the Washington-based Center for a
Free Cuba.

Source: Cuba: Another perspective | Opinion | hpj.com -
http://www.hpj.com/opinion/cuba-another-perspective/article_2a56e050-31c0-11e7-be16-eb0b120a6fed.html Continue reading

Within the framework of the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), a group of Cuban academics and former officials recently circulated a document protesting the LASA'S position regarding the wave of repression and political crisis in Venezuela.

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14ymedio, Havana, 4 May 2017 — Journalists Sol García Basulto and Henry Constantín were summoned Thursday to Camagüey’s Third Police Unit, where they were threatened with having their homes searched and the equipment they use to do their work confiscated if they do not stop “publishing on social networks and in independent magazines.” An official, … Continue reading "Camaguey Police Prohibit Sol Garcia and Henry Constantin From Exercising Journalism" Continue reading
If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván García

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 the opaque windows of old clothing stores,
which have been converted into low-quality jewelry and handicraft shops.

Tenth of October is one of Havana's main arteries. Formerly known as
Jesus of the Mountain, the boulevard immortalized by the poet Eliseo
Diego is now a walkway of pedestrians carrying plastic bags past
makeshift booths set up in the covered entryways of people's houses.
Vendors sell old books, photos of Fidel and Kim Il Sung, and knickknacks
that are not longer fashionable.

Seated at a stool outside his butcher shop, Rey Angel reads a headline
in the newspaper Granma. He has not worked in days. "There have been no
deliveries of chicken or ground soy," he says. He kills time reading
boring articles by the nation's press and watching women walk by.

Right now, news from Venezuela is a high priority for the average Cuban.
"It's like seeing yourself in the mirror. You don't like to read stories
about shortages and misfortunes similar to your own, although ours don't
come with street protests or repression and killings by the police,"
says the butcher.

"But we have to follow the news from Venezuela," he adds. "If it all
goes to hell there, things won't look good for us. There will be another
'Special Period." The government is trying not to alarm people but
according to the official press, the country produces only 50% of the
crude it needs. The question then is: Where the hell are we going to get
the money for the other 50% Venezuela gives us."

The longstanding economic, social and political crisis in Venezuela also
impacts Cuba, a republic that has been unable to control its own
destiny. Hungry for power, Fidel Castro hijacked the country, making
political commitments in exchange for a blank check from the Kremlin and
later oil and credit guarantees from Hugo Chavez.

Like a baby, Cuba is still crawling. It won't stand up and walk on its
own two feet. "Whom should we blame for these disastrous policies?" asks
a university professor before answering his own question.

"If we are honest, the answer is Fidel Castro," he says. "Cuba a total
disaster, except supposedly in the realm of sovereignty and
independence. But these days we are more dependent than ever. In order
to survive, we must depend on tourism, on the export of doctors who work
under slave-like conditions and on remittances sent home by Cubans from
overseas."

Although Cuba's government-run press and Telesur — a media company
founded with petrodollars from Hugo Chavez — is trying to cover up the
causes of the situation in Venezuela, to ignore other points of view and
to manipulate the narrative of the Venezuelan opposition, people on the
island can now compare their reporting with other sources of information.

"Whether it's through the internet, an illegal antenna or family members
returning from medical missions in Venezuela, people know that not
everything reported in the national media is true. It's not just the
middle class that supports the opposition, as the state press would have
us believe. If that were the case, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie would
number in the millions. Maduro's days are numbered. When another
political party occupies the presidential palace, when the oil agreement
and the exchange of doctors are over, the Cuban economy will experience
a crisis , a period of recession the likes of which it has not seen for
twenty-eight years. And even worse, all the turmoil in Venezuela
coincides with Raul Castro's stepping down from power" notes an academic.

Among the late Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro's longterm goals was the
eventual unification of their two countries," says a former diplomat.
"ALBA* was just a first step. They hoped to later create a common
currency: the sucre. In the halls of power it was jokingly referred to
as 'Cubazuela'. In their minds Castro and Chavez thought they would rule
forever. They didn't foresee themselves dying or anticipate the current
catastrophe. In spite of all Maduro's authoritarianism, there are still
democratic institutions which could reverse the situation. But in Cuba?
When Venezuela crashes, we'll be up the creek without a paddle. We can
perhaps count on rhetorical support from Bolivia and Ecuador but no one
is going to write us a blank check or extend us credit. We will then
will have to figure out where we are going and how to get there. If some
future politicians manage to figure out a path forward, we'll have to
erect a monument to them."

Hyperinflation, polarization and the socio-political crisis in Venezuela
are all impacting the Cuban economy. In the summer of 2016 Raul Castro
announced fuel cuts for the public sector, causing numerous government
programs which do not generate hard currency to grind to a halt.

As people die and mass protest marches take place in Venezuela,
officials and presidential advisers at the Palace of the Revolution in
Havana are devising contingency plans to deal with the eventual collapse
of the Chavez movement. It could take months, maybe a year or two, but
it will happen.

*Translator's note: Acronym for Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of
Our America, an organization founded by Cuba and Venezuela and currently
made up of eleven socialist and social democratic member states.

Source: If Venezuela Goes to Hell, Will Things Look Bad for Cuba? / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/if-venezuela-goes-to-hell-will-things-look-bad-for-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Miami/Havana, 4 May 2017 — The team at the Cubalex Legal Information Center and its director, attorney Laritza Diversent, have obtained political refuge in the United States following the intensification of repression against the nonprofit organization dedicated to legally advising Cubans. Diversent, told 14ymedio, from a stop at Miami International Airport this … Continue reading "Laritza Diversent and Cubalex Begin Their Life In Exile" 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
Outdated laws and limited, expensive internet access slow Cuba's progress
Committee to Protect Journalists 2 May 2017
By Carlos Lauría

Cuba's media landscape has begun opening up in recent years, transformed
by a lively blogosphere, an increasing number of news websites carrying
investigative reporting and news commentary, and an innovative breed of
independent reporters who are critical of, yet still support, socialist
ideas.

The energized press scene contrasts with the island nation's restrictive
legal framework, which curbs freedom of speech under the guise of
protecting the "independence or territorial integrity of the state."
Though the constitution bans private ownership of the press and all
media are supposedly controlled by the one-party Communist state, the
spread of independent reporting is a sign of change.

Reporters, from the most critical - who are known as dissidents - to
journalism school graduates, documentary filmmakers, and
pro-revolutionary bloggers, are opening new spaces for free expression
and entrepreneurial journalism that seemed off limits just a few years ago.

Bloggers said they have embraced the loosening of restrictions. "We are
seeing opportunities that were inconceivable five years ago," said
Alejandro Rodríguez, who quit his job in 2012 at Adelante, a state-run
weekly in the eastern city of Camagüey, to start a blog.

However, many said that more work needs to be done, with the threat of
arbitrary detention, vague and outdated laws, and limitations on
internet access slowing Cuba's press freedom progress.

Internet access in Cuba, which the U.N. rates among the lowest in the
Western Hemisphere, is still inaccessible to most citizens. And though
large-scale systematic state repression has eased significantly, the
most strident opponents in the media say they still face harassment and
intimidation from authorities.

Read the full article on CPJ's site.
https://www.cpj.org/2017/04/connecting-cuba.php

Source: Outdated laws and limited, expensive internet access slow Cuba's
progress - IFEX - https://www.ifex.org/cuba/2017/05/02/leyes-arcaicas-cuba/ Continue reading
State Security Summons for Ivan Garcia / Ivan Garcia

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 summons, he is a
first lieutenant.

The interview location is the Aguilera police station in the Lawton
neighborhood, off Porvenir Avenue. By now the procedure is habitual.
State Security routinely summons dissidents and unmuzzled journalists to
police precincts.

Although he didn't tell me the reason for the summons, it probably has
to do with my latest news reports about the upcoming implementation of
the 3G network, and a report on the state of opinion of workers and
residents in Old Havana about the administration of the military company
GAESA in businesses run by Eusebio Leal, the City Historian.

Of course, the citations serve to try to gather information and to
threaten the interviewee. It's nothing new for me. In March 1991 I spent
two weeks in a cell at Villa Marista, headquarters of the Department of
Security (DSE). They accused me of "enemy propaganda," but I wasn't
prosecuted.

Later, during several hours or days, in cells of the 10th Unit, at
Avenida de Acosta and October 10th Street. Then various summonses from
the political police in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In October 2008,
a 12-hour detention at the Zanja and Lealtad Unit, Central Havana. And
in August 2010, a summons from Counterintelligence in a special unit of
the armed forces, in Rancho Boyeros.

The novelty in this case is that before citing me directly, as they have
now done, they cited several friends in the neighborhood to gather
information about me, intimidating them with the accusation that they
provided me information or that they violated certain laws, and
ultimately asked them to collaborate with the special services.

This technique was used by the Soviet KGB and the East German
STASI. According to the procedure, the ideal is that there are two or
more informants in each neighborhood and a counterintelligence officer
for every 50,000 inhabitants.

The main lines of operational work of the Counterintelligence at the
moment are directed by Alejandro Castro Espín, the only son of Raúl, the
president appointed by his brother Fidel.

Since forever, the Castro brothers have designed the strategies to
follow and authorized every step taken by State Security. They don't act
alone.

In the current context, with the crisis in Venezuela that has cut oil
supplies to the island by 40%, the economic recession worsened by the
oil deficit, the arrival in the White House of a guy as unpredictable as
Donald Trump, who has threatened to repeal the agreements made with
Barack Obama since 17 December 2014, and the hypothetical change in
government in February of 2018, has set off alarms among the olive green
executive and the secret services.

The arrests have increased. The physical violence towards the Ladies in
White has not stopped. And the harassment, threats and confiscation of
the equipment of free journalists is multiplied.

In the case of the alternative press, they don't care that they have
different ideological positions. They repress equally an anti-Castro
journalist like Henry Constantin, a neo-communist blogger like Harold
Cardenas, or a foreign journalist with family in Cuba like Fernando
Ravsberg.

For political opponents, the repression has also increased. The most
controversial are beaten and injured. To those who bet on inserting
themselves legally into legal mechanisms, like Candidates for Change and
Otro18 (Another 2018), they are also repressed.

There is no ideological distinction. Liberal thinking wihout
authorization from the military junta is punished. Tomorrow it's my turn
to be 'interviewed' by the counterintelligence officials.

I promise to keep you informed.

Source: State Security Summons for Ivan Garcia / Ivan Garcia –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/state-security-summons-for-ivan-garcia-ivan-garcia/ 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
14ymedio, Havana, 30 April 2017 – After 100 days in the White House, Donald Trump has not uttered a single word about Cuba. His indifference is keeping Havana officialdom on pins and needles, worried about the opposition and disoriented by Cuban society. More than two years after the beginning of the diplomatic thaw between the … Continue reading "Trump: 100 Days in the White House and Not a Single Word About Cuba" Continue reading
Corruption Versus Liberty: A Cuban Dilemma / Dimas Castellano

Dimas Castellanos, 18 November 2016 — The evil of corruption–the act of
corruption and its effects–has accompanied the human species since its
emergence. It has been present in all societies and in all ages. Its
diverse causes range from personal conduct to the political-economic
system of each country. In Cuba it appeared in the colonial era, it
remained in the Republic, and became generalized until becoming the
predominant behavior in society.

To understand the regression suffered we must return to the formation of
our morality, essentially during the mixing of Hispanic and African
cultures and the turning towards totalitarianism after 1959, as can be
seen in the following lines.

The conversion of the island into the world's first sugar and coffee
power created many contradictions between slaves and slave owners,
blacks and whites, producers and merchants, Spanish-born and Creole, and
between them and the metropolis. From these contradictions came three
moral aspects: the utilitarian, the civic and that of survival.

Utilitarian morality

The father of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), said that
utility is measured by the consequences that actions tend to produce,
and came to the conclusion that all action is socially good when it
tries to procure the greatest possible degree of happiness for the
greatest number of people, and that each person has the right to be
taken into account in the exercise of power.

That thesis of Bentham became a popular slogan synthesized in the
phrase: "The greatest happiness for the greatest number." Such a concept
crystallized in Cuba as a creole variant of a utilitarianism that took
shape in exploitation, smuggling, corruption, banditry, and criminality,
which turned into the violation of everything predisposed as an accepted
norm of conduct in society.

The gift of a plant by the sugar planters to the governor Don Luis de
las Casas; the diversion of funds for the construction of Fortaleza de
la Real Fuerza de la Cabaña, which made it the most expensive fortress
in the world; the gambling house and the cockfighting ring that the
governor Francisco Dionisio Vives had for his recreation in the Castillo
de la Real Fuerza, whose government was known for "the three d's":
dancing, decks of cards, and drinking, for which reason, at the end of
his rule, there appeared a lampoon that said: "If you live (vives) like
Vives, you will live!"; the mangrove groves; bandits like Caniquí, the
black man of Trinidad and Juan Fernandez, the blond of Port-au-Prince …
are some examples.

Utilitarianism reappeared on the republican scene as a discourse of a
political, economic, and military elite lacking in democratic culture,
swollen with personalismo, caudillismo, corruption, violence and
ignorance of anything different. A masterful portrait of this morality
was drawn by Carlos Loveira in his novel Generales y doctores, a side
that resurfaced in the second half of the twentieth century.

Thus emerged the Republic, built on the symbiosis of planters and
politicians linked to foreign interests, with a weak civil society and
with unresolved, deep-rooted problems, as they were the concentration of
agrarian property and the exclusion of black people. The coexistence of
different moral behaviors in the same social environment led to the
symbiosis of their features. Utilitarianism crisscrossed with virtues
and altruisms, concerns and activities on matters more transcendent than
boxes of sugar and sacks of coffee.

Throughout the twentieth century, these and other factors were present
in the Protest of the 13, in the Revolution of the 30, in the repeal of
the Platt Amendment, in the Constituent Assembly of 1939, and in the
Constitution of 1940. Also in the corruption which prevailed during the
authentic governments and in the improvement accomplished by the
Orthodox Dissent and the Society of Friends of the Republic. Likewise,
in the 1952 coup d'etat and in the Moncada attempted counter-coup, in
the civic and armed struggle that triumphed in 1959 and in those who
since then and until now struggle for the restoration of human rights.

Civic morality

Civic morality, the cradle of ethical values, was a manifestation of
minorities, shaped by figures ranging from Bishop Espada, through Jose
Agustín Caballero to the teachings of Father Felix Varela and the
republic "With all and for the good of all" of José Martí. This civic
aspect became the foundation of the nation and source of Cuban identity.
It included concern for the destinies of the local land, the country,
and the nation. It was forged in institutions such as the Seminary of
San Carlos, El Salvador College, in Our Lady of the Desamparados, and
contributed to the promotion of the independence proclamations of the
second half of the nineteenth century, as well as the projects of nation
and republic.

Father Félix Varela understood that civic formation was a premise for
achieving independence and, consequently, chose education as a path to
liberation. In 1821, when he inaugurated the Constitutional Chair at the
Seminary of San Carlos, he described it as "a chair of freedom, of human
rights, of national guarantees … a source of civic virtues, the basis of
the great edifice of our happiness, the one that has for the first time
reconciled for us the law with philosophy."

José de la Luz y Caballero came to the conclusion that "before the
revolution and independence, there was education." Men, rather than
academics, he said, is the necessity of the age. And Jose Marti began
with a critical study of the errors of the War of 1868 that revealed
negative factors such as immediacy, caudillismo, and selfishness,
closely related to weak civic formation.

This work was continued by several generations of Cuban educators and
thinkers until the first half of the twentieth century. Despite these
efforts, a general civic behavior was not achieved. We can find proof of
this affirmation in texts like the Journal of the soldier, by Fermín
Valdés Domínguez, and the Public Life of Martín Morúa Delgado, by Rufino
Perez Landa.

During the Republic, the civic aspect was taken up by minorities.
However, in the second half of the twentieth century their supposed
heirs, once in power, slipped into totalitarianism, reducing the Western
base of our institutions to the minimum expression, and with it the
discourse and practice of respect for human rights.

Survival morality

Survival morality emerged from continued frustrations, exclusions, and
the high price paid for freedom, opportunities, and participation. In
the Colony it had its manifestations in the running away and
insurrections of slaves and poor peasants. During the second half of the
twentieth century it took shape in the lack of interest in work, one of
whose expressions is the popular phrase: "Here there is nothing to die for."

It manifested itself in the simulation of tasks that were not actually
performed, as well as in the search for alternative ways to survive.
Today's Cuban, reduced to survival, does not respond with heroism but
with concrete and immediate actions to survive. And this is manifested
throughout the national territory, in management positions, and in all
productive activities or services.

It is present in the clandestine sale of medicines, in the loss of
packages sent by mail, in the passing of students in exchange for money,
in falsification of documents, in neglect of the sick (as happened with
mental patients who died in the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana of
hypothermia in January 2010, where 26 people died according to official
data), in establishments where merchandise is sold, in the workshops
that provide services to the population, in the sale of fuel "on the
left" and in the diversion of resources destined for any objective.

The main source of supply of the materials used is diversion, theft, and
robbery, while the verbs "escape", "fight" and "solve" designate actions
aimed at acquiring what is necessary to survive. Seeing little value in
work, the survivor responded with alternative activities. Seeing the
impossibility of owning businesses, with the estaticular way (activities
carried out by workers for their own benefit in State centers and with
State-owned materials). Seeing the absence of civil society, with the
underground life. Seeing shortages, with the robbery of the State.
Seeing the closing of all possibilities, with escape to any other part
of the world.

Immersed in this situation, the changes that are being implemented in
Cuba, under the label of Guidelines of Economic and Social Policy of the
PCC, run into the worst situation regarding moral behavior. In this,
unlike in previous times, everyone from high leaders to simple workers
participates. A phenomenon of such a dimension that, despite its
secrecy, has had to be tackled by the official press itself, as can be
seen in the following examples of a whole decade:

The newspaper Juventud Rebelde on May 22, 2001 published an article
titled "Solutions against deception", where it is said that Eduardo, one
of the thousands of inspectors, states that when he puts a crime in
evidence, the offenders come to tell him: "You have to live, you have to
fight." According to Eduardo, neither can explain "the twist of those
who bother when they are going to claim their rights and instead defend
their own perpetrator." It results in the perpetrator declaring that he
is fighting and the victims defending him. The selfless inspector,
thinking that when he proves the violation he has won "the battle," is
wrong. Repressive actions, without attacking the causes, are doomed to
failure.
- The same newspaper published "The big old fraud", reporting that of
222,656 inspections carried out between January and August 2005, price
violations and alterations in product standards were detected in 52% of
the centers examined and in the case of agricultural markets in 68%.
- For its part, the newspaper Granma on November 28, 2003, in "Price
Violations and the Never Ending Battle" reported that in the first eight
months of the year, irregularities were found in 36% of the
establishments inspected; that in markets, fairs, squares, and
agricultural points of sale the index was above 47%, and in gastronomy 50%.
- On February 16, 2007, under the title "Cannibals in the Towers", the
official organ of the Communist Party addressed the theft of angles
supporting high-voltage electricity transmission networks, and it was
recognized that "technical, administrative and legal practices applied
so far have not stopped the banditry. "
- Also, on October 26, 2010, in "The Price of Indolence", reported that
in the municipality of Corralillo, Villa Clara, more than 300 homes were
built with stolen materials and resources, for which 25 kilometers of
railway lines were dismantled and 59 angles of the above-mentioned high
voltage towers were used.

If the official newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde had addressed the
close relationship between corruption and almost absolute state
ownership, with which no one can live off the salary, with which
citizens are prevented from being entrepreneurs, and with the lack of
the most elementary civic rights, then they would have understood that
repression alone is useless, that the vigilantes, policemen, and
inspectors are Cubans with the same needs as the rest of the population.

In order to change the course of events, it is necessary to extend the
changes in the economy to the rest of the social spheres, which implies
looking back at citizens' lost liberties, without which the formation
and predominance of civic behavior that the present and future of Cuba
require will be impossible.

Ethics, politics, and freedoms

In Cuba, the state of ethics – a system composed of principles,
precepts, behavior patterns, values and ideals that characterize a human
collective – is depressing; While politics – a vehicle for moving from
the desired to the possible and the possible to the real – is
monopolized by the state. The depressing situation of one and the
monopoly of the other, are closely related to the issue of corruption.
Therefore, its solution will be impossible without undertaking deep
structural transformations.

The great challenge of today's and tomorrow's Cuba lies in transforming
Cubans into citizens, into political actors. A transformation that has
its starting point in freedoms, beginning with the implementation of
civil and political rights. As the most immediate cause of corruption –
not the only one – is in the dismantling of civil society and in the
nationalization of property that took place in Cuba in the early years
of revolutionary power, it is necessary to act on this cause from
different directions.

The wave of expropriations that began with foreign companies, continued
with the national companies, and did not stop until the last fried-food
stand became "property of the whole people", combined with the
dismantling of civil society and the monopolization of politics, brought
as a consequence a lack of interest in the results of work, low
productivity, and the sharp deterioration suffered with the decrease of
wages and pensions. Added to these facts were others such as the
replacement of tens of thousands of owners by managers and
administrators without knowledge of the ABCs of administration or of the
laws that govern economic processes.

The result could not be otherwise: work ceased to be the main source of
income for Cubans. To transform this deplorable situation requires a
cultural action, which, in the words of Paulo Freire, is always a
systematic and deliberate form of action that affects the social
structure, in the sense of maintaining it as it is, to test small
changes in it or transform it.

Paraphrasing the concept of affirmative action, this cultural action is
equivalent to those that are made for the insertion and development of
relegated social sectors. Its concretion includes two simultaneous and
interrelated processes: one, citizen empowerment, which includes the
implementation of rights and freedoms; and two, the changes inside the
person, which unlike the former are unfeasible in the short term, but
without which the rest of the changes would be of little use. The
transformation of Cubans into public citizens, into political actors, is
a challenge as complex as it is inescapable.

Experience, endorsed by the social sciences, teaches that interest is an
irreplaceable engine for achieving goals. In the case of the economy,
ownership over the means of production and the amount of wages
decisively influence the interests of producers. Real wages must be at
least sufficient for the subsistence of workers and their families. The
minimum wage allows subsistence, while incomes below that limit mark the
poverty line. Since 1989, when a Cuban peso was equivalent to almost
nine of today's peso, the wage growth rate began to be lower than the
increase in prices, meaning that purchasing power has decreased to the
point that it is insufficient to survive.

An analysis carried out in two family nuclei composed of two and three
people respectively, in the year 2014, showed that the first one earns
800 pesos monthly and spends 2,391, almost three times more than the
income. The other earns 1,976 pesos and spends 4,198, more than double
what it earns. The first survives because of the remittance he receives
from a son living in the United States; the second declined to say how
he made up the difference.

The concurrence of the failure of the totalitarian model, the aging of
its rulers, the change of attitude that is occurring in Cubans, and the
reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the US, offers better
conditions than previous decades to face the challenge. The solution is
not in ideological calls, but in the recognition of the incapacity of
the State and in decentralizing the economy, allowing the formation of a
middle class, unlocking everything that slows the increase of production
until a reform that restores the function of wages is possible. That
will be the best antidote against the leviathan of corruption and an
indispensable premise to overcome the stagnation and corruption in which
Cuban society is submerged.

Source: Corruption Versus Liberty: A Cuban Dilemma / Dimas Castellano –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/corruption-versus-liberty-a-cuban-dilemma-dimas-castellano/ Continue reading
Dimas Castellanos, 18 November 2016 — The evil of corruption–the act of corruption and its effects–has accompanied the human species since its emergence. It has been present in all societies and in all ages. Its diverse causes range from personal conduct to the political-economic system of each country. In Cuba it appeared in the colonial era, … Continue reading "Corruption Versus Liberty: A Cuban Dilemma / Dimas Castellano" Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 April 2017 — In the palace of the Captains General in Havana there is a throne awaiting its king. It was prepared when Cuba was still a Spanish colony and a monarch has never sat in its imposing structure. The visit of Spain’s King Felipe VI visit may end such a long wait, … Continue reading "The King, The President and The Dictator" Continue reading
Commentary: Social justice in Cuba? No racism?
Javier Garcia-Bengochea
Guest Columnist

Privacy Policy
It ain't what you don't know that hurts you. It's what you think you
know that just ain't so ... Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige
paraphrasing Mark Twain.

It's called fake news. For decades, Cuba has promoted a false narrative
regarding its revolution. A receptive media have dutifully perpetuated
this lie and Americans remarkably suspend all critical thinking
regarding Cuba, accepting this deception categorically.

What Americans think they know about Cuba just ain't so. Here's the
#FakeNews:

Cuba is a socialist country. Wrong. Cuba is a totalitarian white male
military dictatorship that insulates itself from accountability to the
Cuban people through the enormous bureaucracy of the Cuban government.

The Cuban government "owns" Cuba's industries. No, the military owns
these, particularly the tourist industry run by Raul Castro's son-in-law
(a general). Virtually every aspect of licensed travel by the U.S.
Treasury to Cuba is controlled by the military (who are white). Tourism
funds the repression.

There is social justice in Cuba. Nope. The dictatorship has
institutionalized an apartheid between foreigners and Communist Party
elites — Cuba's 1 percent — and "ordinary" Cubans. How? Through two
currencies, a valuable one for the former and a worthless one for the
latter, who are mostly black and brown.

Tourists use one currency (CUCs) pegged to the U.S. dollar. Cubans are
paid (by law) in the second worthless currency. The latter can pocket
tips in CUCs. Consequently, neurosurgeons rush through brain surgeries
to park cars, drive taxis and bus tables for tips. Most doctors,
lawyers, teachers and engineers leave their professions altogether. This
slavery few Americans even notice. It's disgraceful.

There is no racism in Cuba. Ha! As one white regime official put it on
page 119 of UCLA professor Mark Sawyer's book, "Racial Politics in
Post-Revolutionary Cuba," "It is simply a sociological fact that blacks
are more violent and criminal than whites. They also do not work as hard
and cannot be trusted." This was 2003; enough said.

Free health care and education for all. Sorry. University professors and
managers in tourism are overwhelmingly white and connected to the
generals. Most university students must join the communist party.

There are hospitals for foreigners and Communist Party elites and those
for everyone else. The former are for medical tourism with Cuba's best
doctors. The latter have no sheets, soap, toilet paper, electricity,
medicines or even Cuban doctors — they are imported from Africa.

Where are Cuba's doctors? Those not driving cabs are "rented" to foreign
countries for $10,000 monthly. The chattel slave doctors are paid a few
hundred CUCs while their families are held in Cuba. Ditto for thousands
of Cuban nurses, social workers and teachers. Human trafficking is the
dictatorship's largest source of hard currency — by far.

Opening Cuba represents a tremendous business opportunity. Really? Cuba
is bankrupt. Moreover, everything in Cuba is stolen: land, homes, rum,
cigars, even old American jalopies — in many cases from Americans. Every
enterprise in Cuba will involve trafficking in stolen property. This
isn't a business opportunity; it's criminal and immoral behavior.

The intent of U.S. law is to protect, not disenfranchise claimants as
President Obama has done by allowing select companies to "do business"
and traffic in stolen property. Sustaining this requires protection by
the dictatorship and a U.S. administration that disregards property
rights and the rule of law. It's politically sanctioned organized crime.

History is replete with examples that economic engagement will not bring
political liberalization or change (e.g., China). See Cuba before 1959,
when American cronyism brought corruption and three dictators — Batista
and the Castro brothers. Why would U.S. businesses "invested" in Cuba
property want change? A democratic government will return property to
the legitimate owners and these "investments" will be lost. Investment
seeks certainty.

The embargo is "failed" policy. The teeth of the embargo, the ability to
prosecute traffickers in stolen property, has been waived since its
inception to "expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba," a
justification that is conclusively false.

It's the definition of insanity: capitulating with another dictatorship
and perpetually violating existing sanctions while expecting change.

Here's a novel approach to Cuba policy: Enforce the law.

Javier Garcia-Bengochea, a Jacksonville neurosurgeon, is a certified
U.S. Claimant for The Port of Santiago de Cuba.

Source: Social justice in Cuba? No racism? #FakeNewsCuba - Orlando
Sentinel -
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-cuba-fake-news-20170424-story.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 20 April 2017 — The Venezuela of “XXI Century Socialism” is wavering and threatening to collapse. It’s only a matter of time, soon, perhaps, as to when it will tumble. And since the economic and political crisis of the country has slipped from the government’s grasp, President Nicolás Maduro, in another … Continue reading "Tell Us, General, What’s Plan B?" Continue reading
When Your Ally's Beards are on Fire*… / Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 April 2017 — According to an old
adage, when you see you neighbor's beard on fire, go soak your own*. The
maxim should be applied to the elderly Cuban dictator, especially if we
take into account that the erratic performance of Venezuelan President
Nicolás Maduro is largely attributed to the bad advice he received from
the founders of the Castro dynasty, in addition to the deficient or
lacking mental capacity of the absurd southern leader.

It is disastrous that, while Venezuela is experiencing the worst
political crisis of the last 20 years, most Cubans on the Island are not
only lacking in information but – even worse — are being subjected to a
real bombardment of misinformation by the government's press monopoly.

As a result of decades of lies and "secrecy" — which journalist Reinaldo
Escobar has defined as "the euphemism that disguises what is in reality
a policy of censorship of the press" — and the requirements of the
struggle for daily survival in a country marked by shortages and poverty
in perpetuity, common Cubans live alienated from reality and are
apathetic to any political scenario, whether inside or outside Cuba.

In fact, the shortage of information in the official Cuban media about
what is happening in Venezuela is truly extraordinary, even though its
government is the closest ally to the Palace of the Revolution. The
presence of tens of thousands of Cuban professionals delivering their
services to Venezuela should be sufficient reason for relatives and the
population as a whole to be duly warned about the growing political
tensions and clashes that are taking place between the government of
Nicolás Maduro and his Chávez phalanges, on the one hand, and the
opposition sectors supported by thousands of Venezuelans who are fed up
with the regime on the other.

But if most Cubans may care very little about the fate of Venezuelans,
for which the lengthy meddling of the Cuban dictatorship has so much
responsibility, they should, at least, worry about the fate of their
countrymen, volunteer slaves in Venezuela, where violence, growing
poverty and political polarization make them potential victims of
circumstances that, after all, are alien to them.

Who doubts that a possible situation of social unrest and chaos would
constitute a colossal danger for the Cuban "missionaries" of health and
other fronts of the Castro-Chávez alliance who remain in Venezuela? Does
the Cuban General-President have any contingency plans to protect them?
Or will he launch them as cannon fodder to defend the autocratic system
with totalitarian aspirations that the Castro regime has sown in
Venezuela? Will we be witness to a second Grenada, like that of the late
Maurice Bishop, where in 1983 Castro the First ordered unassuming Cuban
construction workers to offer themselves up against US marines in a
sacrifice as irrational as it was absolutely useless?

Venezuela is now a time bomb where the population is satiated with more
gloom and the outrages of government than even opposition parties and
leaders, a place where the citizens are playing all their cards in
street demonstrations. And, while tensions and violence of the
"collectives" and police forces are increasing, and the government's
repression against the demonstrators, torture against detainees and
arrests against journalists attempting to cover the truth of events are
also on the increase, the Castro regime, accessory to Venezuelan
suffering and perverse to the marrow, remains silent.

Word is that the immediate future of Venezuela will be defined next
Wednesday, April 19th. No one can predict if that day, when the streets
will be taken over by supporters and opponents of the Chávez-Maduro
government will end in a bloodbath, only to perpetuate another
dictatorship in Latin America or to end the most ambitious
extraterritorial plan of the Castro Clan. For now, Mr. Nicolás Maduro
has already made clear that his path is one of repression, while
thousands of Venezuelans remain determined to regain freedom and democracy.

In such a scenario, the Venezuelan Armed Forces could be the key factor
to support its own people or to sell its soul to the merchants of the
Miraflores Palace or to the infiltrated Cuban officials in the high
command of the army of that country, but in any case, XXI Century
socialism, which in its heyday proclaimed itself to be "the peoples'
alternative," has lost the match prematurely, for no decent government
or respected international organization will support a government that
is imposed by blood and fire.

It is precisely for this reason that the old fraudsters at Havana's
Palace of the Revolution continue to keep discrete silence. They are
waiting to see how this hand ends. They count on the proverbial meekness
of Cubans, lacking in Venezuelans' will and courage, but knowing that
with Maduro deposed they would lose their last strong political ally in
the region and one of their main sources of oil and capital that still
sustains them in power, in return for which they lease out their slaves
in the form of doctors, teachers, sports coaches, etc.

It is impossible to imagine what new tricks the General-President and
his clique may be plotting in order to find a non-"Bolivarian"
alternative to the crisis ahead. They have their work cut out for them.
It's not always possible to find allies with the features of the
Venezuelan government — brutality, corruption and compromise – all in a
neat package, that has enabled the Castro regime for almost 20 years to
fully manipulate, for Cuba's benefit, the riches of Venezuela, and thus
extend its own power. They will no doubt think of something, but it is
likely that, in order to stay in the game, they will have to satisfy
certain conditions to even minimally fulfill their role as "a democratic
dictatorship" for the world. For now, in the midst of all the storms,
presumably they are soaking their beards*.

*Translator's note: Akin to the expression in English that begins: "When
your neighbor's house is on fire…"

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: When Your Ally's Beards are on Fire*… / Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/when-your-allys-beards-are-on-fire-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 April 2017 — According to an old adage, when you see you neighbor’s beard on fire, go soak your own*. The maxim should be applied to the elderly Cuban dictator, especially if we take into account that the erratic performance of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is largely attributed to the … Continue reading "When Your Ally’s Beards are on Fire*… / Miriam Celaya" Continue reading
The Risks of Defending Human Rights in Cuba / Cubalex

Cubalex, 4 April 2017 — In the cycles of the United Nations Universal
Periodic Review (UPR), held in 2009 and 2013, the Cuban State rejected
32 recommendations calling for an end to repression against human rights
defenders and lifting restrictions that impede freedom of speech,
opinion, association, assembly and peaceful demonstration.

Members of the Human Rights Council suggested that the state ensure a
safe, free and independent environment for human rights activities,
without the risk of harassment, intimidation, persecution or violence.

They recommended that the state refrain from abusing the criminal code
to repress and harass people. In addition, all necessary measures should
be taken including a review of the legislation, to ensure that all cases
of aggression against human rights activists are investigated by
independent and impartial bodies.

The Cuban State objected to these recommendations, on the grounds that
they were inconsistent with the exercise of the state's right to
self-determination; they claimed that this would imply implementing a
policy conceived by a foreign superpower, with the aim of destroying
Cuba's political, economic, and social system.

However, the government claims that, in the country, human rights
defenders are protected, on an equal footing, and act with total freedom
and without any restriction that is incompatible with international
human rights instruments.

The state adds that there are the millions of people who in Cuba are
grouped in thousands of organizations, and who have all the guarantees
for the exercise of their rights. They do not need different protection
from that of anyone with Cuban citizenship. They are not a threat, they
are not in danger, nor do they face the possibility of an act in
violation of the conduct of their activities.

Source: The Risks of Defending Human Rights in Cuba / Cubalex –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-risks-of-defending-human-rights-in-cuba-cubalex/ Continue reading
Cubalex, 4 April 2017 — In the cycles of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), held in 2009 and 2013, the Cuban State rejected 32 recommendations calling for an end to repression against human rights defenders and lifting restrictions that impede freedom of speech, opinion, association, assembly and peaceful demonstration. Members of the Human Rights … Continue reading "The Risks of Defending Human Rights in Cuba / Cubalex" Continue reading
14ymedio, Naky Soto (Vertice News), Caracas, 15 April 2017 — In spite of having previously asserted that they would call him a dictator and that would not matter to him, Nicolas Maduro did not put up with two days of national and international denunciations of Venezuela’s constitutional rupture demanding a reversal of the Constitutional Chamber’s … Continue reading "Chavism Chose Repression" Continue reading
In the twilight of the Castros
By Stephen Kinzer APRIL 14, 2017
SANTA CLARA, Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: In the twilight of the Castros - The Boston Globe -
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/04/14/twilight-castros/95OdHKELKcSeu8NfrnyFxJ/story.html Continue reading
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 11 April 2017 — HAVANA, Cuba. – “Thank goodness oil is something we don’t have in Cuba.” So said the lyrics of a popular song by Cuban musical group Habana Abierta. However, now Cuba’s official media insist the opposite is true: “The enterprise Cuba-Petroleum Union (CUPET), which promotes prospecting projects with … Continue reading "Oil in Cuba: Dream or Nightmare?" Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Miami, 14 April 2017 — In this blog I have experienced good readers and bad moments, shared stories and exchanged opinions. For almost three years you have also accompanied me in the adventure of running a digital newspaper. Together with the team of 14ymedio, you are part of a diverse family spread over … Continue reading "Invitation to the Readers of ’14ymedio’" Continue reading
"State Security Doctors Constantly Mistreated Us"

14ymedio, Havana, 4 April 2017 — Maydolys Leyva can breath easy for the
first time since last March 7. Her three children have abandoned their
hunger strike after being released on parole. This Monday, their mother
prepared a meal of mild creamed vegetables, root vegetables and meat for
her daughter Anairis and son Fidel Batista, as they began to resume
eating. Her other daughter, Adairis Miranda, is still in intermediate care.

From her bed at Vladimir Ilich Lenin Teaching Hospital in Holguín,
where she is recovering, Anairis Miranda spoke via telephone with 14ymedio.

14ymedio. What led you to undertake the hunger strike?

Anairis. We spent 27 days without food and continued to demand the
immediate release of our family because we never accepted the unjust
sentence of a year of deprivation of liberty imposed on us.

We are also demanding the release of the political prisoners of the
Cuban Reflection Movement to which we belong with pride and whose
national leader is Librado Linares. We also demand the immediate release
of the national leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Eduardo
Cardet. In response to these demands we obtained parole for health reasons.

14ymedio. Are you still under surveillance?

Anairis. Right now, here in the hospital, there is no presence of State
Security. As of Sunday, when they delivered the parole documents to us,
they took their repressors and left.

14ymedio. What were the most difficult moments during the strike?

Anairis. We suffered a lot of repression by State Security. They made
threats against our mother's life. The official in charge of
confrontation in the province of Holguin, Fredy Agüero, threatened to
take custody of my sister's two children, who were being looked after by
our mom. He said they would arrest her and kill her in prison.

14ymedio. How is your sister right now?

Anairis. Adairis is now in intermediate therapy in the surgical clinic,
she has a monitor and an IV. We all have very low blood pressure. We
weigh 66 pounds and are continuing to lose weight. My brother has very
unstable blood pressure, it goes up and down. My brother and I are
suffering from ischemic heart disease as a sequel to the strike. I have
some vaginal bleeding and diarrhea. I am still very ill, just like my
siblings.

14ymedio. How has the treatment from the doctors been from a humane
point of view?

Anairis. Some doctors have treated us well, those who are not from the
Ministry of the Interior. The doctors of the State Security, who
constantly mistreated us, have already left. They tried to misrepresent
everything about our health and to overshadow everything. Now, since
they left, we have noticed the change in the treatment of the hospital
doctors and the people who have come to see us. Before they didn't let
anyone approach us.

14ymedio. How many days do the doctors expect you to remain hospitalized?

Anairis. They tell us that we have to stay in the hospital about ten
more days because we could suffer a heart attack or different
complications can occur, although in the case of my sister it could be
longer depending on the improvement in her immune system.

14ymedio. How did you receive evidence of solidarity?

Anairis. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the international
public for their solidarity and to all the brother and sister activists
of both the diaspora and the country. Of course, also the journalists
who reported what happened.

Source: "State Security Doctors Constantly Mistreated Us" – Translating
Cuba -
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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 -
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14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 31 March 2017 – A report published by the Associated Press published last Monday, under the title “Far From the Dark Past, Evangelicals Growing in Cuba,” upset evangelical pastors with its open defense of the Cuban regime to the detriment of religious freedom. The author, Andrea Rodríguez, cites one of the … Continue reading "Cuban Evangelicals Denounce Complacent Article By Associated Press" Continue reading
Marco Rubio: I've spoken to Trump three times about Cuba
Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald
Friday, March 31, 2017 1:55pm

Sen. Marco Rubio has kept mostly tight-lipped about what he's discussed
with President Donald Trump on the occasions the two Republicans have
met -- including over dinner with their wives at the White House.

But Rubio disclosed in a Spanish-language interview this week that he's
used those conversations with Trump to bring up Cuba.

"I've spoken to the president of the United States personally on three
occasions," Rubio told Mega TV host Oscar Haza after Haza asked about
the future of U.S.-Cuba policy. "I think without a doubt there will be
changes in U.S.-Cuba policy."

Rubio said he and his staff are dealing "very closely" with the White
House on the issue, which he expects Trump to address "strategically."

"If the Cuban government is going to behave like a dictatorship, well,
then we're going to deal with them like a dictatorship," Rubio said,
without going into specifics. "We're not going to pretend it's changing.
There haven't been any changes -- on the contrary, we've seen more
repression."

The topic of Cuba came up last week during White House health care
discussions with Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Source: Marco Rubio: I've spoken to Trump three times about Cuba | Tampa
Bay Times -
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… with Trump to bring up Cuba. "I've spoken … ;strategically." "If the Cuban government is going to behave … repression." The topic of Cuba came up last week during … Continue reading