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Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 4 May 2015 – His shirt, once white and elegant, has turned yellow with age. He wears frayed pants and well-worn dress shoes, perhaps a size or two larger than ideal. Contrasting with his clothes, on … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 1 May 2015 – They appear silently, without anyone taking notice, a little after dawn.  They will not hide again until nightfall, when they return home or camp out in some corner of the city … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 24 April 2015 – She didn’t have any luck. Like many, Estrella is one of those Cubans who faces the difficult task of feeding her children today without being very sure of what she will … Continue reading Continue reading
[1]14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 30 March 2015 -- The Surprised Pupil is a program whose first mistake is the name. With quite mediocre staging, presentation and content, really this television program has nothing surprising to see. But to hear, maybe some viewer or another was hoping that its most recent on-air output would tackle seriously a very thorny topic: censorship. However, that viewer with high expectations was soon disappointed. Censorship is a problem that affects every Cuban producer today, but The Pupil did not worry about that. It was foreign censorship, that which nations supposedly suffer “under the dominion of big corporations,” that occupied the program. There was even a segment dedicated to McCarthyism, that period of “repressive delirium” in the United States in which “great artists lived through times of accusations, interrogations, trials and torture,” said the program’s host. Not even hinted at were the anti-intellectual raids undertaken by the Cuban government, those whose spirit was defined by Fidel Castro in his phrase reminiscent of Mussolini: “Within the Revolution everything, outside the Revolution nothing.” It would be too much to ask that they openly address chapters as regrettable as the Military Units to Aid Production [2] (UMAP), the university purification processes, or the repudiation rallies [3]. Or to remember how less than 40 years ago listening to The Beatles could lead to suspicion. Those pages of the national history have been forgotten by the official media. If, after all, few know who Cabrera Infante [4], Reinaldo Arenas [5] or Heberto Padilla [6] were; and if the ghosts of Pinero [7]or Lezama Lima [8] have suffered exorcisms of posthumous atonement, then what sense does it make to speak of censorship in Cuba? Maybe none for those guests who lent their words to The Surprised Pupil. They used, for example, statements by the actor Enrique Molina to a Spanish speaking chain for a digression about the financing of projects. As “there exists no state budget for filmmaking, [Cuban] directors have to seek financing abroad,” said he who played Silvestre Canizo on the popular soap opera Tierra Brava. Molina, who obviously does not have any intention of demanding anything from the Ministry of Culture, blamed the lack of money on the lack of foreign producers “with good intentions and honesty” who seek something different than reflecting “the ugly things of Havana” or “everything challenging the politics of the country.” That, together with the difficulties that the “blockade” involves in bringing Cuban cinema abroad, constitutes censorship for this artist. For the musician Fidel Diaz Castro, “the censors of the contemporary world have turned into diplomats” because they say: “My fellow, I would like to place your work, but that doesn’t sell.” Here he referred to the censorship imposed by marketplace preferences, although it could well be an attempt to justify his own incompetence. Another of the guests was Iroel Sanchez, a key figure in the official blogosphere in a country without the Internet. The blogger spoke of a documentary that criticizes the media groups owned by financial conglomerates. “In the United States one can speak ill of a Democratic or a Republican president,” said Sanchez, “but (…) you cannot speak badly of the owners of those big finance groups that control the means of communication.” Iroel Sanchez did not cite the example in which the governing party and the owner of the means of communication are the same. This is precisely the Cuban case where the Communist Party is the exclusive owner of the country’s media. The common denominator throughout The Pupil was the American topic. Judging by the final message, there persists in that country a fierce repression of transnational reach. And as Cuban television said it, doubting it is strictly prohibited. There was no time to mention those on the Island who seek to issue a critical judgment outside of the given guidelines. Is that also the fault of an external enemy? The Surprised Pupil is indeed very badly named. The greater error is having conceived as a surprise, and not as an insult, that the official discourse goes unpunished yet again. That is what happens when censors have no one to censor them. Translated by MLK [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39131" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Graduation, Fundacion Sucesores[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Víctor Ariel González, Mantilla (Havana), March 12 2015 – Fifteen minutes until class begins and the students that have been arriving converse under the shade of a tree. Once a week, Carlos Millares’ humble patio hosts a very peculiar meeting. It’s the headquarters of the Fundacion Sucesores, or the “Successors Foundation,” an academy created to train members of civil society in the use of tools for leadership. Professor Millares directs the program, but the idea – which gave way to a pilot course in 2013 and since then has been repeated three times – came from a young man called Frank Abel García, the coordinator of the academy, who waits for students and guides them through the steep streets of Mantilla, a neighborhood situated in the south of Havana. Once seated in the classroom, both relate how they came up with the idea of starting this school. “I worked for Hablemos Press (“We Speak Press” – an independent press group) and interviewed opposition figures like Carlos, for example,” says Frank Abel García, who is also an executive member in the Mesa de Diálogo de la Juventud Cubana (Cuban Youth Roundtable), a project aimed at strengthening youth dialogue and leadership to propel Cuba’s democratization. “When I got here, I took the time to voice my concern about civil society and he made me realize that what I really wanted was to teach a course on leadership.” “In that moment I only expected to take a group of young people and offer them the possibility of learning about topics like democracy from some of civil society’s personalities,” adds Frank Abel. “We began a pilot course with five students. Then we prepared the first course itself, which welcomed ten participants. From there, eight graduated.” In total, the academy already has around thirty graduates. For his part, Carlos Millares knew many independent leaders who might be interested in such a project. “Indeed, that’s how it was,” recalls this veteran of the opposition, also director of a center on civil society studies. Political analyst and opinion columnist, Millares recounts that he studied Sociology at the university when, in 1974, he was expelled for “talking about what he wasn’t supposed to talk about.” Those times were too dark for an opinion of even slight skepticism. His courses on leadership are the academy’s main dish. The necessary “succession of the past generation of the opposition by new young people” came to light when looking for a name that would make the idea concrete. That was how the Fundacion Sucesores was created. “The objective is to prepare young people with the characteristics needed to lead civil society,” Frank Abel García points out, “to prepare people to be able to continue and improve the work of their organizations.” Would you accept people from the Union of Young Communists (UJC) in the bizarre case that someone might be interested? “Yes. The academy does not make a distinction based on political inclinations.”  Professor Millares describes the program as “an element of cohesion” for diverse groups whose members take part in its conferences. “An interrelation is created between students, who at the same time exchange with prestigious leaders.” Here we don’t mind where the student hails from, be it from the political party Cuba Independiente y Democrática (CID – Independent and Democratic Cuba) or from the Juventud Activa Cuba Unida (JACU – Active Cuban Youth United), an anti-government civil group. Would you accept people from the Union of Young Communists (UJC) in the bizarre case that someone might be interested? The Foundation’s coordinator and vice-president responds: “Yes. The academy does not make a distinction based on political inclinations. We admit all those who want to take part in the course because the goal is not to impose a way of thinking, but to offer knowledge on which to base individual opinion and work.” The proposal has been growing in popularity. The current semester welcomed twenty registration applications for only ten available spots. Carlos Millares favors focused attention, and thus favors fewer students; of course, they must be able to put in effort and prepare very well. The authors of the program are well aware of the pressure that State Security forces tend to exert. That is the reason why initial enrollment can reach twelve, to account for the eventual “losses” throughout the semester. “Last semester there was a married couple that came to classes, but they worked for the Public Health System and they were threatened with being removed from their jobs if they continued with us,” the leadership professor relates. They have also received police citations and suffered detentions here and there. Although they “do not bother us behind closed doors,” says Millares, “for government authorities, we are part of that civil society they accuse of being fabricated.” “Last semester there was a married couple that came to classes, but they worked for the Public Health System and they were threatened with being removed from their jobs if they continued with us” In spite of the harassment, the academy has continued to consolidate. It already has several sessions and boasts a community of graduates. In addition to Millares and García, the Executive Board also has two vice-presidents: Saúl Quiala for public relations and Maikel Pardo for the press. Fundación Sucesores maintains relations with international organizations that support the development of its courses. Its future perspectives are to expand into Cuba’s interior, and they have already begun to achieve it with the enrollment of students from Pinar del Río province. Additionally, they are working to prepare a multimedia library. In the long term, the academy aspires to become a sort of “university of the opposition.” Enrollment is by open call. It is necessary to posses a High School or technical diploma as a minimum, given the level of the content discussed in the conferences. For the course’s final evaluation, a project for civil society must be conceived, and it’s not just a mere academic exercise; some of the ideas developed in past courses have been successful and are currently being applied. Courses are forty semester hours and are taught in two-hour weekly sessions at the Foundation as well as the headquarters of affiliated regional organizations. In addition to the subject of leadership, there are conferences about economics, political parties, anti-segregation movements, new technologies, and many other areas, all discussed by guest experts, among which are renowned opposition figures ranging from political leaders to LGBT activists. The program is updated each year. Recently, the topic of Cuba-U.S. relations has been added, and, for this upcoming April, human rights observers will be trained in coordination with the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission led by Elizardo Sánchez. Back in the patio of that Mantilla home, while Carlos Millares teaches his course on leadership – the current semester’s second meeting – Frank Abel García finishes explaining the functioning of the school. Speaking with students at the end of the conference, one can perceive the diverse stories that shaped each of the course’s participants. Eliosbel Garriga, from Pinar del Río, is a member of the Movimiento Integración Racial, or “Racial Integration Movement”: “We come in whatever we can,” he comments in reference to the difficult mission that is waking up in the early morning in order to travel from Los Palacios, where he lives, “but I want to develop leadership skills.” There is also Josué, a young member of the CID party: “I have the intention of becoming a leader and my dad told me that this was a good course.” His father, Esteban Ajetes, is next to him. “Within our movement, knowledge and training are lacking. It’s the first thing needed to be influential in these apolitical times,” he reflects on. Another Esteban, but surnamed García, is an independent journalist and editor of the JACU’s bulletin. He notes, “In our current circumstances [as a nation] it’s difficult to be a leader because even a sportsperson exhibits more leadership than a political figure.” They all agree on that leaders are not only born or made, but are actually little bit of both things. Translated by Fernando Fornaris [1] [2] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39079" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] 9th Congress of the UJC (EFE)[/caption] [2] 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 24 February 2015 -- The only thing Damian shares with Karl Marx may be the thick beard. In everything else, the Havana engineering student is quite different from the German philosopher who wrote Das Kapital. And the main contrast between them is found in their ways of thinking because for this young man who enjoys sporting the lumberjack style – the “lumberjack” fashion is spreading through the capital – the last thing he wants to talk about is class struggle, historical demands or communism. “Who is for that?” he asks. To judge by his tone, it seems few. Instead, youngsters like Damian and his girlfriend, or the friends with whom they usually meet in places like the Bertold Brecht café theater or the Cuban Art Factory, prefer to talk about European football leagues while drinking beer paid for in hard currency. Things like the 10th Congress of the Union of Young Communists (UJC) appear nowhere in their conversations, despite the official propaganda that has been unleashed in an intense campaign about the event. According to the press permitted in Cuba, this “will be a congress that looks like Cuban youth.” Adhering strictly to that maxim, for starters, a good part of the delegates to the Congress must come from abroad, given the number of people who are leaving Cuba. Of the almost half million who have emigrated in the last ten years, a high percentage are young people seeking opportunities that their country is incapable of offering them. Damian talks about that also, his desire to leave, and about something curious: the majority of his friends who have managed to do it used to belong to the UJC. “It’s a double standard,” he says. The most radical and exclusive leftist militants went on to live under “cruel” capitalism. Nevertheless, the increasing emigration is a taboo subject in the current municipal assemblies preceding the big meeting of the young communists. According to a leader of the organization interviewed Monday on national television, such assemblies are in their final stage and from them must emerge a document with “the major problems raised” by their members then to be discussed in the “grass-roots committees.” Only then would topics be chosen for taking to the final Congress, and this via mechanisms perhaps too arbitrary, as usually happens in a country governed by an elite that stopped being young a long time ago. Among those pre-Congress “proposals,” the leader said, “the transformations themselves of the organization” have prominence. Although there are also “recreation as a necessity,” and the ever greater challenges that globalized cultural consumption poses for “proper” values; or the search for fun spaces whose availability in Cuba now depends only on how much money – that beast that communism tried to eradicate with time – the customers are able to offer. It is also said that other subjects from the official list will be youth employment and opportunities for study. This Congress will be carried out in a context in which the private sector is gaining appeal in the face of the previously omnipresent State and where university courses are of little use in earning a decent wage. The “updating of the economic model” has not prevented the phenomenon of labor migration from skilled positions to others of lower skill but greater remuneration. One could not miss, among the “proposals made” that the communist leader mentioned, the “responsibility of the youth with respect to the continuity of the Revolution.” Something logical coming from one who defines himself as the “vanguard” of young Cubans and whose main function is indoctrination. “The UJC not only has the responsibility for the revolutionary and communist formation of new generations, but also (…) that the organization that represents them, directs them, guides them, and leads them towards each one of the transformations of our society,” said the interviewee in the morning report. Accused of being elitist for assuming the right to speak on behalf of the broad spectrum of young society, the Union is demonstrating a lack of a monolithic nature that contrasts with the discourse of assured historical continuity. Rarely do ordinary Cubans hear on official television an expression of lack of trust in an institution that used to be sacred. This is the reason that the organization’s directors themselves are considering working more closely with the “youth universe,” a classification with which they usually refer to non-members. The most novel feature about this Congress is the new landscape that emerged after December 17 and the consequent view of rapprochement with the United States, the preferred geographic destination of youth who, like the unbeliever Damian, pursue the dream of prospering outside of Cuba. Belonging to the UJC is no longer a guarantee to access the state meritocracy. Even the most popular singers, even if they keep a prudent distance from the open political opposition, have never carried communist youth membership cards. What icons or deals does the UJC have to offer? Traditionally, to be part of the organization meant an advantage for those who aspired to good recommendations in their records, obligatory for a university career or a job, the guarantee of belonging to a more favored caste. Today, with young Cubans competing to see who has the best cell phone, it is no longer like that. Without having been officially recognized, the principal enemies today of the Union of Young Communists are political apathy, the loss of its significance and its function as a social placeholder. The tie to the UJC has turned into a stigma and even a cause of ridicule among youth. Young people often call its members “militontos” (member-idiots) in their private conversations. In a society where intransigence stopped being a virtue and everyone resorts to illegality in order to live, the role of the “correct” has lost too much impact and is even satirized by official media. “Who is for that?” Damian, who definitely “is not for that,” repeats over and over. Translated by MLK [1] [2] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38384" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Presentation about the book ‘From Confrontation to Efforts at “Normalization.” The Policy of the United States towards Cuba.’ (14ymedio)[/caption] 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 29 January 2015 -- “In Vietnam, Yoani Sanchez would be in prison,” says Rafael Hernandez, editor of the magazine Temas (Topics), comparing the Cuban regime with the Vietnamese one. And he adds: “Check out how free this country is!” According to the official researcher, Cuban bloggers “are arrested and released, but they are not put in prison,” as occurs in the southeast Asian country, where these cyberspace activists receive “nothing but” jail for being “anti-government.” The political scientist and essayist offered these observations last Wednesday at the Juan Marinello Center during the presentation about the book “From Confrontation to Efforts at ‘Normalization.’ The Policy of the United States towards Cuba,” by the publisher Social Sciences. One of the authors, Elier Ramirez, participated in the panel discussion held by the magazine. Just reading its name, one deduces that the essay by Elier Ramirez and Esteban Morales – co-author – reflects the offical Cuban position about the rapprochement between the Island and its “historical enemy.” The word “normalization” in its title appears in quotation marks because, among other reasons, “the United States has always understood normalization from the position of domination,” says Ramirez. “There is no change in its strategic objectives [basically, regime change in Cuba, but] a profound tactical adjustment” behind the negotiations between Washington and Havana, according to the author. This work had already been released, at least once, during the presentation of the volume “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” written by U.S. researchers Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande. But then, last October, the political situation was very different from the current one. During Wednesday’s presentation about the book, the comparison between Vietnam and Cuba emerged in the context of what Rafael Hernandez considers a double standard in U.S. foreign relations which criticizes Cuba on questions like freedom of expression while not doing the same to other countries. “How do you [the American government] demand from me [the Cuban government] what you do not demand of the Vietnamese who put bloggers in prison?” asked the researcher who is also a moderator of the space Ultimo Jueves (Last Thursday). Rafael Hernandez also referred to the case of the performance by Tania Bruguera last December 30. In order to justify the attitude of Cuban authorities, he gave as an example a hypothetical megaphone protest in front of the home of the British prime minister. “Before taking out the loudspeaker, they already told him off and got him out of there,” he said, referring to the imaginary protester. “What does that have to do with freedom of expression? What are we talking about?” he added, insisting on the supposed “double standard” of the western discourse with respect to that basic right. Entering into a process of negotiations that both parties have deemed “historic,” one can no longer speak only of “a relationship between two governments” because now there is also “a relationship between two societies” declared Hernandez, who called for a realization that “there is a new game.” The official analysts define this “game” as a “form of battle” for preserving the regime, different from all previous battles. This war, certainly is already taking place also in the symbolic realm where the most rancid nationalists have been contaminated by a certain foreign banality, especially American. It is not strange that an official intellectual like Hernandez expresses himself thus about the rapprochement between the two countries. As far as his comparisons in matters of human rights, it is legitimate to ask what exactly the editor of Temas meant to say. There are three possible interpretations: Vietnam is a dictatorship. Cuban bloggers should be prisoners. We bloggers should feel grateful for the few handouts of freedom that the regime grants us and that it also can take from us at any time, imitating its “sister nation” from southeast Asia. Translated by MLK [1] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38224" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Western Hemisphere Affairs, US Department of State[/caption] 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 21 January 2015 – The opinions broadcast on Cuban Television spaces such as the National News or the Telesur channel show points in common, although there are also contradictions, with regards to the Havana visit of the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs from the US Department of State, Roberta Jackson. There are “great expectations,” says the journalist Cristina Escobar; while the analyst Esteban Morales says, “We don’t have many illusions.” However, everyone recognizes that the negotiations on Thursday will mark a “historic” event, because they will address the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In short, the Interest Sections in Washington and Havana will be transformed into embassies. On Tuesday’s National News it was reported that at the high-level meeting Havana “will discuss the banking situation of the Cuban Interest Section in the American capital, which has gone a year without offering normal services because no bank wants to offer them services due to the regulations of the blockade.” It was also announced that, “There will be no lack (…) of issues like the fight against narcotrafficking, human trafficking, oil spills, search and rescue, counterterrorism, and confronting epidemics.” According to the official commentary, this information was provided by “a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” on the Island. Cuba is also anxious to be removed from the United States’ list of states that support international terrorism. That decision depends on President Obama. Within the current political détente, the official media highlighted the current embargo. “Is the blockade over? Absolutely not,” concluded journalist Cristina Escobar in an analysis before Jacobson's arrival. The journalist added that “the blockad will end the day that financial transactions between the United States and Cuba are not regulated by Congress,” which will be “a long and complex road.” Coincidentally, a few hours later, during his most important speech of the year, the US president asked Congress to end the Cuban embargo. As was expected, one of the most fortified trenches on the Cuban side has been nationalist ideology. The regime will talk about human rights, democracy and individual freedoms – “the most difficult issues,” according to Esteban Morales on Telesur – with emphasis on “no interference” from outside and “sovereignty.” Morales argued that the US should not “demand that we follow a direction ordered [by them], in terms of organizing our democratic system and our individual liberties," and there should also be a willingness to "throw on the table the problems of democracy, human rights and individual freedoms that exist in the US." The Cuban analyst does not think our northern neighbor "has renounced a political strategy to regain control of Cuba," but now our country would have "the possibility of developing a much more positive activity” thanks to the existence of the embassies. Thus, “there will be a much more organized dynamic.” Another concern of the ruling party is that the final lifting of the embargo might be postponed beyond the Obama administration, because the question would "depend a lot on whether we have a future administration that will stick to this idea." While the emphasis of the high-level meeting is diplomatic rapprochement, one agenda item that will be discussed on Thursday that does not go unnoticed is that this Wednesday will be the 28th meeting between the two governments on migration issues. Havana will take the opportunity to discuss the Cuban Adjustment Act, the “wet foot dry foot” policy, and "an interpretation of the document that could change." The Cuban side is most likely to oppose a resolution that benefits all those on the Island who emigrate to the United States, a legal phenomenon that creates certain contradictions in this country with regards to migration reform. Paradoxically, those Cubans who are capable of establishing themselves in the United States – thanks largely to the Cuban Adjustment Act – constitute one of the principle sources of income to the regime’s economy. Turning to the meetings on diplomatic relations, the previous scenario had to be reconfigured in record time. In little over a month, the United States announced the rapprochement with our country, started to implement the legal measures relating to it, and its president asked a Congress dominated by the opposition party to end the half-century embargo. The speed of events is excessive for those who do not usually deal with politics in a timely fashion: the Cuban leaders. Beyond the expectations and mistrust generated among the Island’s authorities by Roberta Jacobson’s visit, there is a notable sense of consternation. Basically, what the regime is hoping for is that things will proceed slowly, so that they will not have to deal with the consequences of an excessive enthusiasm. [1] Continue reading
As ancient buildings are crumbling, the vacant lots are transformed into parks that are always closed 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzales, Havana, 9 January 2015 — A group of tourists stops at the entrance of the “ecological park” on Mercaderes Street, … Continue reading Continue reading
The legislation that has endorsed flagrant human rights violations seems to have its days numbered. 14ymedio, VICTOR ARIEL GONZALEZ, Havana, 30 December 2014 – Following the custom of seeing the speck in the eye of another, the “gag law” that … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 30 december 2014 — Contacted by phone at her home, the director of 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, said that Tania Bruguera was under arrest at the Acosta Police Station in the Diez de Octubre municipality in Havana. Reinaldo Escobar … Continue reading Continue reading
The director of this newspaper, Yoani Sánchez, is under house arrest 14ymedio, Havana, 30 December 2014 – Contacted by phone at her home, the director of 14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, explained the circumstances of the arrest of her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 20 December 2014 — “Now when they lift the blockade …” a student says jokingly to his friends sitting in Mella Park at the University of Havana. His sentence ends mentioning some a problem that … Continue reading Continue reading
“Sit down!” ordered ‘Number One.’ “I’m comfortable like this, thanks,” I responded. 14ymedio, VICTOR ARIEL GONZALEZ, Havana, 12 December 2014 — “But you didn’t come here to be comfortable,” he concluded, and for once we were in agreement on something, … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, VÍCTOR ARIEL GONZÁLEZ, Havana, 8 December 2014 – She turned 24 and spent that day with her few friends who still live in Cuba. She is known as a faithful exponent of a generation marked by uprooting and escape. … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 6 December 2014 — Establishing the rules of a sport takes time. Let’s take for example baseball, one of the most complicated games that exists; one could ask where the rules for its practice come … Continue reading Continue reading
Our team had a conversation with the New York Times journalist who has authored the editorials about Cuba. 14ymedio, 1 December 2014 — Ernesto Londoño, who authored six editorials on Cuba published recently by the New York Times engaged in … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel González, Havana, 18 November 2014 — I have spent several days trying to digest the mass of information coming out of the first TEDxHavana, where I was present as just another spectator. However, no matter how much … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana / 6 November 2014 — It’s ten in the morning, and the Golden Pig is packed with customers. On entering, one detects the intense odor of smoked meat mixed with the aroma of ripe guavas. … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 21 October 2014 — Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, has called for a vigil this October 21 in front of the Diez de Octubre Municipal Court in Havana. The reason is the … Continue reading Continue reading
The Villena room was too small for the audience, which endured sweltering heat during the two hours of the presentation of the book “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana.” The free event, at … Continue reading Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 19 September 2014 – The Morava and Danube rivers come together in Devin. The place still belongs to the Bratislava region, but only the far shore is Slovakia. The near shore is Austria. Maybe a … Continue reading Continue reading
14YMEDIO, Havana, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 21 August 2014 – “I have mattresses, games room, air conditioning …” an individual stationed at the entrance to a popular store says softly. A few yards further on, another vendor has filters for drinking … Continue reading Continue reading
Conceived 30 years ago, it would have been the largest civil engineering project in Cuba, but it sank after Perestroika. 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana | June 17, 2014 It’s morning rush hour at the Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor bus … Continue reading Continue reading
Havana, June 9, 2014, Victor Ariel Gonzalez — Corrugated fiber-cement sheets and wooden planks form a security fence in the shadow of the two tallest buildings of an iconic Havana site: the “Twin Towers” at Texas Corner, where 240 families … Continue reading Continue reading
Havana, Cuba – It’s not too surprising that a son of Cuba’s Minister of the Interior recently arrived in the U.S. to stay. Josué Colomé–as this immigrant is named–is not the first descendent of a high official of the regime … Continue reading Continue reading
The old Carlos III market was transformed into a “mall.”  At the beginning, Havanans found a wide selection of merchandise (in CUC — hard currency); today the showcases are empty. The shelves where the most common ingredients should be found … Continue reading Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, January, — Doorways where until a few days ago all kinds of clothes and shoes were for sale are now empty. All the usual stalls are closed. It is a return to the recent past, confirmation that … Continue reading Continue reading
On December 10, 1868, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes liberated the slaves of his sugar center La Demajagua and invited them to join him in the fight for Cuban’s independence. The Cry of Yara was the beginning of the 10 Years’ … Continue reading Continue reading
Havana, Cuba, November 2013, – In Cuba there exists no consumer society.  Or heavy industrial activity.  The quantity of debris should not be frightening. But the treatment of waste is troubling, because it pollutes the country and promises to … Continue reading Continue reading
On October 30th the newspaper Granma published, Beginning improvements in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The approved proposals were aimed at shaping a modern revolutionary Foreign Ministry to ensure more efficient performance of the organization and the concentration of the … Continue reading Continue reading
  “Cuba is not the place of origin, transit or destination of human trafficking”.  This was declared by Isabel Moya Richard, the director of ’Editorial de la Mujer’ (A Cuban Women’s Federation publisher) on November 1.  However, later in the … Continue reading Continue reading
Isn’t it totally iconic that the four or five newspapers — no more — that are sold in Havana are distributed by old men? Whether it’s a way to flagellate myself, make myself laugh, and even to get a spark … Continue reading Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, October, – While most young people have virtually no place to go, others go to clubs where the entry fee alone is more than the weekly wage of the average Cuban. The price, actually, is nothing special, … Continue reading Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, November 1, 2013, Victor Ariel Gonzalez/ For days now, rumors have been spreading about a strike of self-employed workers somewhere in Central Havana in the capital. Presumably, the event would be November 1st on Reina Street, where … Continue reading Continue reading