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Monday, September 1, 2014

72 Hours to Demolition

72 Hours to Demolition / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar
Posted on August 31, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Luz Escobar, 26 August 2014 — Impotence and
indignation has spread among residents of La Timba, in the Plaza de la
Revolution municipality, one of the Havana neighborhoods affected by the
Government's war on architectural illegalities. For years, thousands of
families with housing needs built additions their homes, took vacant
land to expand them, or improvised makeshift parking spaces. A campaign
by the authorities against this social indiscipline has put the
spotlight on all these irregularities.

The Housing Institute inspectors, in cooperation with the police, travel
the neighborhoods looking for these "illegalities" and, once they detect
a violation, deliver an order to the homeowner to tear down every inch
of the constructions put up without permission. The situation not only
hurts those affected but puts the serious construction problem in the
country at the center of the debate.

It is estimated that there is a deficit of over 700,000 homes in Cuba.
In addition, 8.5 out of 10 existing dwellings need repairs. During the
year 2013 only 25,634 units were built in the entire country, of which
47.7% were erected by the occupants' own efforts.

Havana is one of the most seriously affected areas, and it is estimated
that it would take about 28,000 new homes to ease the situation.

Jazmin, age is 57, is responsible for three teenage granddaughters. She
lives in La Timba, at the bottom of 39th Street with her husband, who is
about to turn 60. A few years ago, they added two square meters to their
home by taking over part of the building's common garden. Aware of the
family problems that had pushed them to do so, none of the neighbors
ever complained.

"We live with my husband's brother and father. Both are alcoholics,"
says Jazmin. "They're good people but when they're drunk they are
completely transformed." The problems of living together got more acute
and, over time, the family felt forced to divide up the house. "We had
to figure out this little piece to put a kitchen and a bathroom," she
explained, pointing toward a construction made from blocks and a light roof.

Jazmin decided to commit the architectural illegality after her husband,
who worked in construction for three decades, asked for a house but they
weren't given it. The family's economic hardship keeps them from buying
a larger house or renting another space for the problematic relatives.
"If they knock this down, we're going to have defecate in a bucket," she
explains. But the time for herself ended with the collapse of the walls
she built. This Monday the police and inspectors put an end to her
"social indiscipline."

"If they knock this done, we're going to have defecate in a bucket." A
neighbor explains.

Her case is repeated all over the area. Maria and Juana are two elderly
ladies, both over 80, who have surrounded their property with a barbed
wire fence to protect themselves against the many robberies in La Timba
neighborhood. They, also, were given only three days to dismantle the
entire fence, but they've resisted doing it and now have legal documents
to validate it. The Housing Institute, however, alleges that it was
authorized by a prior law and by employees who no longer work for the State.

"What's happening is they woke up pressured by someone from above and,
as it's easier to obey than to question, here they are," as they say
here, "following orders," the older of the elderly ladies points out.

In the midst of the conversation Gladys appears, an impulsive neighbor
who was also required to remove her fence and who shouted, at the top of
her lungs, that she "didn't feel like removing anything," because the
law says that every citizen has the right to protect their home.
Furious, she accuses a neighbor of having built a parking space, sure of
having permission because he works in military counter intelligence.
"That didn't go down well with me, I'm not stupid," she says.

Tempers flare and the clock is ticking. In a few hours the inspectors
will arrive.

Source: 72 Hours to Demolition / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar | Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/72-hours-to-demolition-14ymedio-luz-escobar/

Cuba introduces new customs limits

Cuba introduces new customs limits
1 September 2014 Last updated at 01:37 GMT

Cuba is bringing in new rules limiting personal imports of foreign goods
into the country, where locally-made items are scarce and expensive.

Some $2bn (£1.2bn) in goods have been flown into Cuba in travellers'
baggage each year since air travel restrictions were lifted in 2009.

Many ordinary Cubans say the new rules will throttle one of their few
sources of high-quality consumer goods.

The government says the new measures are aimed at professional "mules".

Baggage carousels

The changes across Cuba are taking effect on Monday, and the Communist
government has already published a list of the restrictions.

Travellers will now be allowed to bring in 10kg (22lb) of detergent
instead of 44kg and 24 bras instead of 48.

But four car tyres and two flat-screen TVs will still be permitted.

Many Cubans fly to the US and also Europe each year and return home with
luggage bursting with goods that are often scarce, badly made or
expensive in Cuba.

The baggage carousels at Havana airport often seem to be offloading what
looks like the entire contents of a supermarket warehouse.

But the changes have angered many Cubans.

"Very far from protecting the economy, these measures will only bring
disadvantage and the only protection they bring is to state monopoly
shops," one reader complained to the online edition of Cuba's Granma
official newspaper.

"Where are we supposed to buy without difficulty pumps for cars, a set
of tools for car engines, assorted clothing that hasn't been hanging for
half-a-year the year on the rails in one of our shops because almost
no-one wants to buy them?"

Roberto Rodriquez, another Cuban, said: "These measures will strangle
and put the brakes on a dynamic economy just to favour the state shops."

But the government has given examples of prolific "mules" including one
passenger, who allegedly brought in 41 computer monitors and 66 TVs in
one year.

This business is one of the most significant sources of earnings for the
Cuban population, says Emilio Morales of the Havana Consulting Group, a
Florida-based private consultancy.

He was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that with foreign
reserves dropping sharply, the government is desperate to reduce the
flow of goods.

He said the authorities also wanted Cubans' relatives abroad to send
help in the form of cash remittances which were subject to heavy
government fees.

Source: BBC News - Cuba introduces new customs limits -
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-29008303

Young Cuban rafter who played Star-Spangled Banner on boat is now a mom and teacher in Hialeah

Posted on Sunday, 08.31.14

Young Cuban rafter who played Star-Spangled Banner on boat is now a mom
and teacher in Hialeah
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
NGAMEZTORRES@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

Lizbet Martínez, the Cuban rafter girl who warmed the hearts of U.S.
Coast Guard officers and many others across the nation 20 years ago with
her rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, still has the violin that
made her famous.

Martínez, then 12 years old, became the endearing face of a successful
campaign to bring other children out of Guantánamo refugee camps and
into "the land of the brave and home of the free."

She was among more than 30,000 Cubans rescued in the Florida Straits
during a one-month summer exodus from Cuba that became known as the
rafter, or balsero, crisis.

Today, she's a Florida International University graduate with a music
degree, teaches preschool children in Hialeah and is raising two kids of
her own as a working mom.

But it was the events of two decades ago that made her a part of South
Florida history.

Martínez, who traveled on a makeshift raft with her parents and 10
others, became so famous that she was invited to Tallahassee to play
before then-President Bill Clinton, and was honored by Florida lawmakers
who declared March 29, 1995, as "Lizbet Martínez Day."

During her encounter with Clinton, Martínez handed the president a
ceramic angel and a postcard asking him to "open his heart" and help the
Cuban children who were then still in camps in Guantánamo and Panama. In
return, she received Clinton's promise that the children would be
"relocated in the very near future."

Indeed, the last of the Cuban balseros left the refugee camps in May
1995. Most ultimately made it to the United States under a new
immigration accord that put an end to the mass exodus and required that
most of those interdicted at sea be returned to Cuba to apply for a visa
at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Known as the wet-foot, dry-foot
policy, those who set foot on U.S. land were allowed to remain in the
country.

"When I left Guantánamo [five months after being intercepted at sea],
there were still many children there because the first who were able to
leave were those with medical problems," said Martínez, now a teacher at
a preschool in Hialeah. "And that was my plea to Clinton.

"In Guantánamo, we received an identification band that looked like a
watch, and I told him I would not take it off until the last person was
out," Martínez said. "And I kept my promise. When the last lady got off
the plane, she cut it off, a year later."

What she remembers most from her departure by sea was "the uncertainty
of not knowing if we were going to be rescued. We were so eager to leave
Cuba behind, but once you find yourself alone at sea, that's when you
begin to really pray to God. Thank God, we were rescued at 4 in the
morning."

Before the family left Cuba, Martínez was studying violin at the
Alejandro García Caturla conservatory in Havana. She learned how to play
The Star-Spangled Banner, thinking it was a religious hymn, until her
uncle, who is Major League Baseball fan, warned her about the song's
significance.

"When we were rescued, they wanted to throw all the contents from the
raft and they wanted to throw out my violin," Martínez said. "They did
not know Spanish, and we did not speak English, but I figured they would
know the American national anthem. So that's when I got my violin and
began to play it. They were super-impressed."

"The captain was so moved that he transmitted what she was playing over
the radio to all the other cutters in the area," Martínez's father,
Jorge Martinez, said in 2003, when the violinist graduated with a music
degree from Florida International University.

Upon her arrival to the United States, Martínez recalls the many Cuban
exile activities she took part in and a community that treated her with
"great affection." Among the many people who reached out was
Cuban-American singer Willy Chirino, who gave her a $3,000 scholarship
to help pay for college.

Now settled into her new life in America, Martínez hesitates when asked
whether she would put her two children on a raft to an uncertain future.

"Back then, we were told that the U.S. Coast Guard was 12 miles off the
Cuban coast," Martínez said. "They were well past the 12 miles, but
luckily nothing happened to us. Thank God, I am not in the position of
having to make that decision, because it is a very difficult one. But I
am very grateful to my parents, who left their own parents behind, so
that I could live in freedom."

While the little Cuban violist received much acclaim and made headlines
all over the world, her story is not known in Cuba. The
government-controlled media never published a word.

Over the past two decades, she has returned several times to visit
family members still on the island.

"One yearns to return because it your homeland, because you miss your
family so much," Martínez said. "And then, when you arrive, when the
plane lands and you get off and say to yourself, 'I'm standing in Cuba
again,' that, for me, is a miracle. Even though it has the problems it
has, it is the country where you were born, it's your culture. I know
there are many people who think one should not go, but I still have my
family there."

At FIU, Martínez earned a degree as a violin soloist, but no longer
performs for large audiences. She also has stopped teaching music due to
cuts in school programs. But she continues to play at her church and at
small events such as weddings, adding that in today's economic climate
there is more demand for DJs than for a string quartet.

"I can play in front of thousands of people, but during auditions in
front of a panel of judges, my nerves betray me," Martínez said with a
chuckle, adding that beyond nerves the opportunities for those who play
classical music are limited.

Among her favorites is the music of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, and
although she rarely plays such complex pieces she enjoys the music in
her preschool classes. "I like the reaction people have to the music,"
she said.

Martínez keeps the violin she brought from Cuba preserved at home as
part of her history.

"In fact, it started to come apart because of the salt during the trip
on the raft. But a priest in Guantánamo gave us glue and we were able to
fix it," she said as she picked up another violin. "I have never been
ashamed to say that I came on a raft and I am proud to be a balsera, truly."

With that, she began to play a popular Cuban melody: the danzonete.

Source: Young Cuban rafter who played Star-Spangled Banner on boat is
now a mom and teacher in Hialeah - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/31/4320871/the-little-violinist-20-years.html

Cuba cracks down on goods in travelers' luggage

Posted on Monday, 09.01.14

Cuba cracks down on goods in travelers' luggage
BY MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HAVANA -- Cubans braced Monday for a clampdown on the flow of car tires,
flat-screen televisions, blue jeans and shampoo in the bags of travelers
who haul eye-popping amounts of foreign-bought merchandise to an island
where consumer goods are frequently shoddy, scarce and expensive.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans and Cuban-Americans fly to and from the
island each year thanks to the easing of travel restrictions by the U.S.
and Cuban governments over the last five years. Their Cuba-bound checked
baggage has become a continuous airlift that moves nearly $2 billion of
products ranging from razor blades to rice cookers. The baggage
carousels at Cuba's airports often look like they're disgorging the
contents of an entire Wal-Mart or Target store. Many families bring
special trailers to carry the bags of their returning family, which
often weigh many hundreds of pounds and include items such as bicycles
and flat-screen TVs.

But the Cuban government on Monday is enacting new rules meant to take a
big bite of that traffic, sharply limiting the amount of goods people
can bring into Cuba in their luggage, and ship by boat from abroad. The
Cuban government says the restrictions are meant to curb abuses that
have turned air travel in particular into a way for professional "mules"
to illegally import supplies for both black-market businesses and legal
private enterprises that are supposed to buy supplies from the state.

Among ordinary Cubans, reactions have ranged from worry to outrage that
their primary, and for many only, source of high-quality consumer goods
may be throttled.

"People are really unhappy," said Maite Delgado, a 75-year-old retired
state worker. "All the clothes and shoes that I have come from my
granddaughters in Spain or my siblings in the U.S."

The rules that go into effect Monday run 41 pages and give a sense of
the quantity and diversity of the commercial goods arriving in checked
bags. Travelers will now be allowed to bring in 22 pounds (10 kilos) of
detergent instead of 44; one set of hand tools instead of two; and 24
bras instead of 48. Four car tires are still permitted, as are two
pieces of baby furniture and two flat-screen televisions. Cuban customs
also bars passengers from bringing in items worth more than $1,000.
Rather than examining receipts, customs agents are given a long list
assigning pre-set values to certain goods ($250 for a video-game
console, for example.) Those prices rise sharply under the new rules,
making it far easier to reach that $1,000 limit.

The new rules similarly increase the duties paid on goods shipped from
abroad, another major source of foreign merchandise for the island.

Authorities have taken to the airwaves and pages of state media in
recent days to assure Cubans that the vast majority of travelers won't
be affected. The change is intended "to keep certain people from using
current rules on non-commercial imports to bring into the country high
volumes of goods that are destined for commercial sale and profit,"
Idalmis Rosales Milanes, deputy chief of Cuban customs, told government
newspaper Granma in Friday editions.

The government has justified the new rules with examples of prolific
mules including one passenger it said brought in 41 computer monitors
and 66 flat-screen TVs in a year.

Between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion worth of goods were flown to Cuba
in traveler's baggage last year, with the average flyer bringing in
goods worth $3,551, according to a 2013 survey of 1,154 Cuban and
Cuban-American travelers conducted by the Havana Consulting Group, a
Florida-based private consultancy that studies the Cuban economy.

"It's sustenance, support that greatly aids in the survival of the Cuban
family," Consulting Group President Emilio Morales said. "Along with
cash remittances, it's the most significant source of earnings for the
Cuban population, not the salaries the government pays."

While his study did not look at the final destination of travelers'
goods, Morales said he estimated based on his knowledge of the
phenomenon that about 60 percent went to families and 40 percent to
black-market retailers.

With foreign reserves dropping sharply over the last two years as Cuba
tries to pay off sovereign debt and make itself a more attractive
destination for foreign investment, Morales said, the government is
desperate to reduce the flow of goods and push Cubans' relatives abroad
to send help in the form of cash remittances, which are subjected to
hefty government fees. Limiting informal imports also would presumably
help boost business in state-controlled stores.

The rule change already has had an effect in Miami, where many stores
are dedicated to selling goods to island-bound Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

"I haven't sold almost anything this morning," said Diana Calzadilla,
28, a cashier at Cadalzo Fashion, a store in Miami's Little Havana
neighborhood that sells discount clothing and accessories to travelers
on their way to Cuba. "People look around but they don't buy anything
because they're not sure how much they're going to be able to bring."

Several "mules" have commented that they are going to look into other
ways to make money, she said. At least one customer, she said, appeared
decided.

"It was their last trip," she said. "They don't know if they'll go again."

---

Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana, Christine Armario in Miami and Gonzalo
Solano in Quito, Ecuador contributed to this report.

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

Source: HAVANA: Cuba cracks down on goods in travelers' luggage - Latest
News - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/01/4321329/cuba-cracks-down-on-goods-in-travelers.html

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The First Cuban Forklifts

The First Cuban Forklifts / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on August 31, 2014

Nelson Espinosa, director general of MONCAR, a business located in the
Havana municipality of Marianao, told the newspaper Granma that the
production of the first 15 Cuban forklifts, a result of collaboration
with the Chinese entity Auto Caiec LTD, distinguished his business's
performance during 2013.

With 40% national integration in terms of physical components, the
equipment is in a testing phase and capable of supporting up to 2.5
tons. We are now in 2014 and they have not manufactured one more. I
suspect that the future of MONCAR is related to the manufacture of the
T-34M war tanks that Raul Castro inaugurated in 1960 and these are the
holy hours when he did not build even one tractor.

Translated by mlk.

18 August 2014

Source: The First Cuban Forklifts / Juan Juan Almeida | Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/the-first-cuban-forklifts-juan-juan-almeida/

To Rigola I Shall Not Return

To Rigola I Shall Not Return / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on August 31, 2014

Two years ago, after a lot of red tape, long lines and pointless waits
at Immigration, the Spanish embassy and the Plaza Military Committee, I
finally managed to get the son of a friend — a woman who lives overseas
and who had granted me power-of-attorney — exempted from military
service so that the family could be briefly reunited.

Then, a few days ago, she, her husband and her son decided to come here
on vacation to visit family. Everything seemed to be going very well.
The joy of being reunited with family and friends helped mitigate the
enduring economic hardship and deterioration of the country, which are
very noticeable to anyone who comes back after spending time abroad.

The night that marked the return to the "mother country" finally arrived
but a new odyssey had just begun.

After checking their luggage and paying the 25 CUC per person airport
exit tax, an immigration official informed the couple that they could
leave but that their son would have to stay behind because he had not
yet completed his military service. Of course, the parents decided to
stay with their son, but this meant losing their airline tickets, the
exit tax they had already paid and the time spent waiting for their bags
to be returned. There was also the anxiety and aggravation caused by the
incompetence of the system.

Very early the next morning the three of them headed to the Military
Committee to clear up what was clearly a big mistake. The excuse they
were given was that the error had been committed by a "neo-fascist" who,
fortunately, no longer worked there. From there they went to Immigration
to resolve their son's status.

Finally, after waiting for four hours due to a system-wide computer
failure, they left with their problem resolved. The officials offered
their apologies but did not offer the couple any sort of reimbursement.

As a result of all this they have had to forfeit their tickets. The
earliest date the boy and his mother could get a return flight was
October 8, which meant the mother would not be able to get back to work
on time and the boy would not be able to take his upcoming exams
scheduled for September 1. Given this new predicament, the parents went
back to the Military Committee to request a document explaining the
situation which they could give to their son's school in Spain. Their
request was denied, the excuse being that officials there were not
authorized to issue such a document.

My friend's husband, who did finally manage to get a ticket, will have
to leave tomorrow to get back to work. He will try to explain the
situation to the administrators at his son's school in the hope that
they will allow the boy to take the exams upon his return.

When they came over for a visit today, they told us that, unfortunately,
due to this recent experience they had no intention of returning to Cuba
anytime soon, at least not until they could forget everything that had
happened to them.

All told, this may appear to be no big deal. But, to appreciate it, you
had to have to experienced it. This is why, when they finally overcome
all the obstacles and absurdities and manage to finally leave the
country, many Cubans swear to themselves they will never return for fear
of having to relive their bad experiences.

When she told us goodbye today, my friend recalled a line from an old
song: "To Rigola I shall not return."

14 August 2014

Source: To Rigola I Shall Not Return / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/to-rigola-i-shall-not-return-rebeca-monzo/

No, No and No Raul Castro

No, No and No Raul Castro / Jose Luis Garcia Antunez
Posted on August 31, 2014

This I believe is the second or third occasion that I write to you, and
as always without the least mood or desire that you answer me, because
given the absolute contempt and disgust that emanates from your person I
can't feel otherwise.

Señor Dictator and Genocide, 24 years and five months ago at barely 25
years, five months and 15 days of age I dared to defy you. Surely your
lackeys and sycophants in the high command of the political police and
the party mentioned it to you.

I remind the dictator, that night you pronounced in the city of Santiago
de Cuba that call to the Fourth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba,
and as always with a discourse like so many and like so many of your
brother's, barely a few paid you any attention.

I recall that I was in the plaza that you all call Revolution, where big
loudspeakers transmitted to mute, hungry and above all deaf people your
verbal diarrhea. That was Thursday March 15, 1990, Stalinist Europe was
falling, the old Soviet empire was at the point of disintegrating and
here in the Caribbean a senile caste was clinging to power and refusing
to implement reforms.

For demanding them, that evening, your bullying forces savagely beat me,
their educational bodies tortured me and instructed me so that months
later your lackey judiciary would sentence me to deprivation of liberty
for the famous crime of "oral enemy propaganda."

Señor Dictator, I believe it feasible to confess to you that at the
moment of my detention I was still unaware of the long and proven
history of crime and terror instituted by your brother and you.

From the forced labor, the concentration camps of the UMAP, the sad
history of those captive peoples and not to mention the Castro meddling
in the internal affairs of other countries and in international
conflicts. Maybe because of that lack of knowledge, I only asked for
reforms and screamed that communism was a mistake and a utopia. Today,
after knowing your system better, I ask for its overthrow and I catalog
communism as an aberration and a crime: the social plague of the 20th
century.

It was only enough for me that day to feel that as a young man and a
Cuban, I was not free; that as a social being I lacked something in
order to be able to breathe and walk. I felt that I was prohibited from
speaking and that I must either continue using the mask in order to
avoid problems, or remove it and act and live in accord with myself
although that would mean suffering the most horrible repression.

I did that, I defied you, General without battles. I did it in spite of
your known fame as a cruel and bloodthirsty man. I did it, General and
the only thing that I regret is not having had the valor, the
opportunity or perhaps the possibility of doing it much sooner.

On the other hand, I also have to confess to you that the idea never
entered my mind that such a sickening fury of hatred and harassment was
going to be applied to me.

That in 1993, three years after the arrest and completing my unjust
imprisonment in Cause # 4 of 1990, your famous division for crimes
against State Security in the gloomy Popular Provincial Tribunal of
Santa Clara condemned me again, now in Cause #5 of that year for
supposed acts against your socialist Revolution for which I had to spend
17 years and 38 days of uninterrupted political imprisonment which
offered me the possibility of learning firsthand about torture and
vexation as a weapon of political repression.

Raul Castro, my case is known to you, because it was you and no one else
who ordered the multiple searches and lootings by those who have
victimized me in my home during the last weeks where in the grossest
flaunting of force and impunity you commanded that your cowards and
opportunist assault troops partially destroy my house and steal items
left and right on more than one occasion, goods, office materials,
medications, food during these acts known in the Cuban jargon as acts of
thievery, well, in the end, each does what he is taught.

Señor General, and now that you also title yourself president of the
Councils of State and of Ministers, I know well how many letters
opponents have sent you from within and without asking you to carry out
reforms and political opening as well as to hold elections. They ask it
of you as if you really were a president and as if in Cuba a true
government were in power and not a tyranny.

We know that at any moment, you, a Machiavellian and opportunistic
tyrant, are going to accept what they ask and carry out a referendum,
that is to say, an electoral farce under your control, where like in
Venezuela the totalitarian officialism will continue in power.

And it is no longer a secret for anyone, the desperate and astute
maneuvers that you and your acolytes carry out in order to manufacture
supposed opponents and assure with them the dynastic and ideological
succession.

But we warn you, General, which is one of the reasons for this missive,
that we, the decent Cubans committed to the future of our country, we
are not going to accept that fraudulent and cosmetic change that you all
forge. Know also that the Cuban Resistance does not expect or want
reforms implemented by the criminal tyranny over which you preside. The
only reforms to be accepted by us would be after your overthrow or
withdrawal from power, which the people will carry out from their base.

Señor Dictator, enough tricks, because you will not get another new
mandate, that does not even matter to us. That you carry out reforms in
the arena of economics and migration, that is a bunch of lies, and that
does not matter to us, either. That your regime carries out an update of
its model is another fallacy and another lie. That is more of the same.
That you will sell a monetary reform, tremendous trick and lie, General.

We, the people of Cuba, need a democratic system where a market economy
prevails. One, two, three or ten thousand currencies, it does not
matter, as long as there exists a centralized and asphyxiating economy
like your totalitarian system. We, Señor dictator, we do not want you,
nor reforms nor openings, you people are not our owners, nor do you need
to dictate our guidelines.

We know that your time on the earth is running out, and that powerful
interests have shown the intention of playing the game or dividing juicy
profits at the cost of the pain and sacrifice of the Cuban people.

General Raul Catro, warning about the danger of the fraudulent change,
you ordered killed Oswaldo Paya and young Harold Cepero. I doubt that
you now have enough goons to keep killing the thousands and thousands
that like Paya and Harold will keep denouncing your tricks and constant
maneuvers.

For Laura Pollan, a defenseless woman, you sent your paid assassins to
get you out of it, because you could not defeat her in her marches every
Sunday on Avenue Quinta. It did not matter to you her condition as a
woman and the justice of her cry. But also Laura defeated you, coward
General, because her valiant troops of the Ladies in White survived the
cruel execution of their leader and now spread like patriotic wildfire
across the whole Island.

And they have also defeated you: Pedro Luis Boitel, Olegario Charlotte
Pileta, Orlando Zpata, Wilman Villar and many others who had the courage
to sacrifice themselves in the name of liberty and in respect for their
dignity, this honor that you lack as well as your goons who threatened
me with death in reprisal for my slogan that "I won't shut up and I
won't leave Cuba."

They themselves, also, barely some days ago, during one of the many
arrests of which I have been victim, tortured and beat me, now that
according to them and you, I sabotage the efforts of your tyranny to
normalize relations with the United States.

Know General Raul Castro that neither the absurd precaution of house
arrest that weighs against me and the evident threat of being
assassinated, will be able to make me change my purpose which is shared
by thousands and thousands of Cubans.

You all will not be able, Raul Castro, to crush a people who have grown
tired of living without freedom, just as you will not be able to
materialize the international conspiracy that is conceived against the
cause of freedom for Cuba. That conspiracy, Raul Castro, will not have
success, whether it comes from Havana, Washington, Brussels or Vatican
City itself. You people will not be able, General, because as much as
you, your family or that cruel and bloodthirsty party may know, you will
be excluded from all process of democratic change because you all mean
the negation of democracy itself.

And tell your subordinates, General, that I am here and will be, in my
beloved homeland of Placetas from which neither you nor your repressive
forces nor anyone will remove me, and that my humble home, although
profaned, vandalized and sacked by your faction, will continue being a
bastion of Resistance, fight, refuge and sanctuary for my compatriots
who fight against you and in favor of liberty and justice.

And tell them also, General, your promoters and accomplices, whether
your spokesmen are in Miami, Washington, Brussels, Havana or the Vatican
itself to stop rubbing their hands, we say no to your preservation of
the status quo because here in Cuba there will be no reconciliation
without there first being justice, liberty and democracy.

And, as we foresee, also tell some governments that call themselves
democratic and are in on the conspiracy, that they are wasting time,
General, that the event that we Cubans need and hope for international
solidarity, does not mean that some country or foreign power, as very
powerful or influential as it may be, is going to form part of our
process of change, because Cubans, those who are within and those who
are without, we are convinced that the solution for Cuba has to be and
must be resolved among Cubans, excluding of course you people, General,
who because of the damage that you have done to our nation, do not even
deserve to call yourselves Cubans.

Raul Castro Ruz, in the name of the people of Cuba, my fellow prisoners
and the victims of your dictatorship, I tell you no, no and no.

From Placetas, in the heart of Cuba, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez,"
who will not shut up or leave Cuba.

Translated by mlk.

21 August 2014

Source: No, No and No Raul Castro / Jose Luis Garcia Antunez |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/no-no-and-no-raul-castro-jose-luis-garcia-antunez/

Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder

Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Rosa Lopez, Havana, 29 August 2014 — Just outside the Tienda
Ultra (Ultra Store), an illegal seller advertises deodorants and
colognes. It is precisely in August, this terribly hot month, when the
shortage of hygiene products aggravates the bad odors and other
annoyances. The problem has made the pages of the official newspaper
Granma, which this Thursday published a story looking for answers to the
lack of soap, cologne, toilet paper and deodorant. The text reveals the
tortuous and inefficient ways of Cuban centralization.

The director general of the Cuban company Union Suchel said that
"funding cuts" have limited purchases of raw materials. The statement of
this official contrasts with the monopoly status of this well-known
industry. Suchel has reigned for decades in the domestic market, given
the absence of competitors to push down prices, diversify the product
line and improve the quality of the offerings. Instead, the perfume,
talcum powder and detergent giant has taken advantage of the privilege
of being a State-majority consortium with zigzagging foreign capital.

For 2104, Suchel developed a "reduced production plan" due to the
financial problems facing the entity. Even so, the volumes coming out of
its factories point to mammoth nature of the company still so
influential in its decline. Deliveries for this year in the unrationed
market should reach 17 thousand tons of laundry soap, 17.9 thousand tons
of hand soap, and 9.6 thousand tons of liquid detergent. Packing,
transporting and distributing such quantities has become a real
headache, especially in a country where corruption and the diversion of
resources act as leaks, sucking dry the sources of products and services.

The position of guard in one of the many company plants trades on the
black market for more than 5,000 Cuban convertible pesos

Suchel is undermined by the theft and embezzlement, an issue not
addressed by the article published in Granma. The position of guard in
one of the many company plants trades on the black market for five
thousand Cuban convertible pesos. Working in one of those jobs
guarantees the fortunate employee "under the table" earnings that exceed
in three days what a doctor earns in a month.

The work of the guard consists of simply looking away, to allow the
majority of the merchandise slip away, unregistered in the accounts.
These undeclared goods are sold in the State's own "hard currency
collection stores" (as they're called). The profit is distributed among
the managers, drivers and the industry's own security guards.

In the absence of a free market to test the efficiency of Suchel in
competitive circumstances, the monopoly will continue to impose prices,
quality standards and high costs, as well as to cause chronic supply
problems.

Source: Suchel, a State Monopoly With Feet of Talcum Powder / 14ymedio,
Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/suchel-a-state-monopoly-with-feet-of-talcum-powder-14ymedio-rosa-lopez/

Angel Santiesteban, Being Held in Military Unit to the West of Havana

Angel Santiesteban, Being Held in Military Unit to the West of Havana /
14ymedio
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, 2 August 2014 — Writer Ángel Santiesteban has been
relocated to a prison under the control of Border Guard Troops in the
Flores neighborhood near the town of Jaimanita, west of Havana. After
weeks of uncertainty and conflicting information, a reporter for
14ymedio was able to locate and see this military unit.

For three weeks Santiesteban's situation has become even more confusing
after the authorities in charge of keeping him under custody in the
prison center in the Lawton neighborhood declared that he has "escaped."
He was immediately taken to the police station at Acosta and Diez de
Octubre Streets, where he could only receive visits from his closest
relatives.

Freelance journalist Lilianne Ruiz, after touring the different places
where it was stated that the writer being held, was able to see him and
talk to him through the blinds. The guards of the Border Guard Troops
confirmed to the journalist that Santiesteban is considered a "special
case."

Santiesteban himself assured Ruiz that he is not being prosecuted for a
new offense, and that a brief letter will appear in his blog, The
Children Nobody Wanted, explaining everything that happened during the
last days.

Ángel Santiesteban serving a five-year sentence for the alleged crime of
violation of domicile. Multiple irregularities during his trial have
been denounced by activists and independent lawyers. A couple of weeks
ago Reporters Without Borders released a statement calling on the Cuban
government to clearly state the fate of the narrator and journalist.

Source: Angel Santiesteban, Being Held in Military Unit to the West of
Havana / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/angel-santiesteban-being-held-in-military-unit-to-the-west-of-havana-14ymedio/

University (for the Tenacious)

University (for the Tenacious) / 14ymedio, Henry Constantin, Reinaldo
Escobar
Posted on August 30, 2014

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 28 August 2014 – Henry Constantin is
a native of Camagüey province, born in Las Tunas on Valentine's Day, 30
years ago. He has been expelled from university three times for his
ideas, but still believes he will obtain his journalism degree.

This slender, plain-spoken young man has founded two independent
publications and has just returned from a cultural exchange program. For
years he has been part of the reporting team of the magazine Convivencia
(Coexistence), and today he invites the readers of 14ymedio to share the
challenges he has faced in his classroom journey.

Question: You hold the sad distinction of three expulsions from
university. What was the first time like?

Answer: One day I wrote this question on the board: Who was the Cuban
nominee for the Nobel Prize? My fellow students did not know, neither
did the professor, so I wrote the name of Oswaldo Payá.

Later I selected for a research topic the actual level of acceptance
enjoyed by the official media in the general population. I was failed,
and that report was suggested as possible grounds for my expulsion.
Finally, they lowered my grade for poor attendance — a false claim being
that the majority of my colleagues had more absences than I did. That
was the year my son was born and my professor/advisor had told me, "take
care of that and don't worry about absences."

My son is now 8 years old – the same age as my problems.

Q: Even so, you tried again…..

A: A year later I was able to enter the University of Santa Clara
journalism school. I was the only student who was not a member of the
FEU (University Student Federation), and — in the university's Internet
lounge — I learned of the existence of alternative blogs. It was there
that we founded a magazine called Abdala*, which we ultimately we named
La Rosa Blanca* (The White Rose). We produced it without a computer, but
still published five issues, until (another magazine) La Hora de Cuba
(Cuba's Hour) replaced it.

When I completed that course, they failed me for having produced a radio
script dealing with the effects of the Huber Matos case on the broadcast
media in Camagüey.

Q: Were you allowed to present it?

A: The professor thought it was heresy for me to stir up the case of
that Sierra Maestra commander condemned to 20 years in prison for
resigning his post. He suggested that I do a project on the journalism
of José Martí. So I tackled the censorship suffered by the Apostle** at
the hands of the Argentine government for his articles in the newspaper,
La Nación. They failed me again, but by that time I had the right to
reevaluation.

So I tackled the censorship suffered by José Martí at the hands of the
Argentine government for his articles in the newspaper, La Nación.

I went to Camagüey for the weekend and when I returned (to the
university) they were waiting to remove me from the premises. They
informed me that I had been expelled from the graduate school by virtue
of a disciplinary action — nothing ideological, of course!

Four men escorted me to the door and instructed the custodians to keep
me from re-entering the building. They also instructed the newspaper
Adelante and the Radio Cadena Agramonte station — where I had done my
journalism practica — to call the police if I tried to enter.

Q: So that was your definitive goodbye to university classrooms?

A: I don't surrender easily. In September, 2009, I took the aptitude
tests to enroll in the National Institute of Art (ISA), in the school of
audio-visual media. I attained the maximum score and was accepted. While
at ISA, I worked on the magazine, Convivencia, edited by Dagoberto
Valdes in Pinar del Río province. He proposed that I join the Reporting
Council and I said yes. I also worked on the independent program Razones
Ciudadanas (Civic Reasons).

Another project I participated in while a student at ISA was Hora Cero
(Zero Hour). It began after a strike motivated by the bad food we were
served. It consisted in staging encounters with persons outside of the
institution. Jorge Molina and Gustavo Arcos came, but when we invited
Eduardo del Llano, we were obstructed.

In May, 2011, they scheduled me to meet with the dean of ISA, to tell me
they had discovered that I had been expelled from the graduate school.
At that point I was three days from completing my courses, so I
resisted, arguing that the other students should decide my fate. Once
again I was removed by force from the premises, in a car that left me at
the bus station. So that is the end of my history as a university
student, and my obsession with obtaining a degree.

Q: And after the third expulsion?

A: I returned to Camagüey and re-initiated the Hora Cero (Zero Hour)
project, at my own risk, in my own home. We started with exhibitions of
the photos of Orlando Luís Pardo, a short by Eduardo del Llano, and
music by some troubadour friends. Up to now, we have had good attendance
by the public. The poet Maikel Iglesias, the theater troupe Cuerpo
Adentro, the poet Francis Sánchez, and Eliecer Ávila with his
audiovisual work, Un cubano más (Just Another Cuban), have also
participated.

To Hora Cero have come university students, professors, neighbors,
courageous people who dare to exchange ideas. Some attend who have been
instructed to inform about what takes place in these encounters, and
others who have been coerced for having received a simple invitation
from me to participate.

The first time that State Security visited me, my mother — who at that
time was serving on a mission in Venezuela — was threatened. They told
her that if she continued supporting me, she could lose the bank account
where her salary is deposited. Others have been told that Hora Cero is
funded by the CIA.

Q: Have you gone back to your studies?

A: A year ago I heard about a program, Somos un solo pueblo (We Are One
People), for young people who have had difficulty pursuing their studies
here, and are given the opportunity to do a 6-month course in the United
States. Classes in psychology, personal effectiveness, principles of
business or sociology, among many others. It was a wonderful experience
for me and I learned a lot.

Q: And now?

A: I think I will have my work cut out for me in the next 50 or 60
years, judging by how I see present-day Cuba. If I have any time left
over I want to write fiction…but with the way things are, that will have
to wait.

Translator's notes:
* Both of these titles are from the poetry of 19th century Cuban patriot
José Martí.
**Martí is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence".

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: University (for the Tenacious) / 14ymedio, Henry Constantin,
Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/university-for-the-tenacious-14ymedio-henry-constantin-reinaldo-escobar/

Cuban Health Authorities Alert on Increasing Dengue Prevalence

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cuban Health Authorities Alert on Increasing Dengue Prevalence

Havana, Cuba, Aug 30.- The prevalence of Dengue in many countries of
the world continues to pose a complex situation said Cuban health
authorities who alerted that the presence on the island of all four
Dengue types triggers major concern.

The alert was made by Doctor Gilberto Zamora, expert with the Ministry
of Health during a prime-time TV show on Friday.

Dengue has been identified in 35 Cuban municipalities, 15 of them in
Havana, said Doctor Zamora, who called for a higher preparation of
health professionals and the people after the four types of the virus
have appeared in the country.

Doctor Rosaida Ochoa, head of Unit for Health Promotion and Prevention
of Diseases, insisted in the need to take all precaution measures at
homes, workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of Dengue.

She said that such measures will also protect the people from
Chikungunya virus, which has been reported in only 13 imported cases.

Meanwhile, Doctor Alberto Duran who heads the Department of
Transmissible Diseases at the Health Ministry called on the people to
look for medical attention in the event symptoms like high fever, muscle
pains, because the disease may evolve very fast.

He also alerted that the presence of abundant diarrheas in a short
period of time is also a reason to go soon to the doctor, since cholera
continues to be a threat.

Cuba has reinforced surveillance and control measures against the Ebola
virus, said the director of the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute,
Doctor Jorge Perez, who alerted about the ways the disease can be
transmitted.(ACN)

Source: Cuban Health Authorities Alert on Increasing Dengue Prevalence -
http://www.cadenagramonte.cu/english/index.php/show/articles/19448:cuban-health-authorities-alert-on-increasing-dengue-prevalence

Slowdown Of Tourist Arrivals To Cuba Continued In July

Slowdown Of Tourist Arrivals To Cuba Continued In July
Published August 30, 2014EFE

HAVANA – The arrival of visiting foreigners to Cuba, where tourism is
the second largest source of revenue, continued its slowdown in July
with a drop of 0.5 percent compared with the same month in 2013,
according to official figures released Saturday.

The National Statistics and Information Office, or ONEI, said the island
received during the month of July a total of 211,456 tourists, some
1,055 fewer than in that month last year.

ONEI had already recorded in June a decline of 1.4 percent compared with
2013.

Nonetheless, statistics show that in the first seven months of the year,
tourist arrivals grew 3.4 percent over the same period the year before.

In 2013 Cuba welcomed a total of 2,852,572 travelers, a modest growth of
0.5 percent more than in 2012, while for this year the country set the
goal of attracting 3 million visitors.

The official daily Juventud Rebelde noted Saturday that to reach that
goal the sector would have to achieve, between August and December, a
growth of 8.1 percent.

Canada, Germany, Britain, Italy and France remain the leading sources of
travelers to Cuba, where tourism is the second largest source of foreign
currency after the export of services.

Source: Slowdown Of Tourist Arrivals To Cuba Continued In July | Fox
News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2014/08/30/slowdown-tourist-arrivals-to-cuba-continued-in-july/

Touring Cuba by bicycle - Take the challenge

Touring Cuba by bicycle: Take the challenge
Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014 12:15 am
Ken Youngblood

So you've flirted with the dream of touring Cuba by bicycle. Go for it.
But not because the media tell you it's a "cyclist's paradise." Go
because there are no real legal obstacles you can't overcome and you are
sure to leave the island wiser, both in terms of the body politic and,
more importantly, an emotional wisdom sharpened by a wondrous people.
Cuba's road system is a bicycler's nightmare. No wonder horses and
bicycles vastly outnumber cars and trucks. Most likely a vintage guzzler
— you can breathe in the half century of plying these roads in their
billowing black belch.
Because of the U.S. embargo and Cuba's failed experiment with Socialism,
road surfaces are neglected beyond belief. Equip your bike with strong
rims and wide tires to cushion the constant jarring and minimize flats.
Then, too, you'll have to endure long, flat stretches of monolithic
agriculture with little in the way of food and lodging. So concentrate
your time on the best areas for bicycling and take advantage of the
nationwide bus system to skip the dull terrain. For an extra $5 Víazul
will carry your bicycle.
Whatever you do, spend time in Valle de Viñales, Bahia de Cochinos, and
the highway slithering the southeastern coast in the shadow of the
Sierra Maestra, mountains so remote Batista's military never found
Fidel's revolutionaries.
Because Viñales is popular with tourists, the roads there are about the
best you'll experience. You'll ride lush green valleys where oxen and
horses graze against the backdrop of towering mogotes whose limestone
made Viñales the heart of tobacco country. We spent nearly a week there,
hiking, bicycling and on horse exploring the communal paths meandering
from one little cluster of houses to another. Wherever we went oxen
worked the fields to commands issued by the man behind the plow, his
soft voice a constant lulling. A bicycler can thank his gods: tractors
compact the earth too much for tobacco's taste.
Yes, Bahia de Cochinos or as history knows it, the Bay of Pigs, is one
of those must-see destinations. And not just because of the roadside
signs and memorials that boast being the only nation to have defeated
American imperialism.
Today it's tourists who invade the Bay of Pigs. The best offshore
snorkeling and diving in this hemisphere draws tourists to the 70
kilometers of coastal highway from Playa Larga at the head of the bay to
Playa Girón at its mouth. Wherever we stepped offshore, we experienced a
startling variety of corals and colorful fish. So strap your snorkeling
gear on the back rack.
Try to avoid Bahia de Cochinos in late March or early April or you will
be caught up in the slaughter that occurs during the Migración Anual de
los Cangrejos. Crabs by countless millions migrate to the sea to lay
their eggs. Every day, thousands per highway kilometer are crushed and
smeared under the wheels of buses, the sound of shells popping audible
to the tourists holding handkerchiefs up to their noses to shield them
from the stench.
And once the Discovery Channel videoed the carnage, the government's
Transfur buses for tourists were so packed they had to add more runs.
Bahia de Cochinos had become a tourist destination. Making the slaughter
even greater.
Bicyclers can thank bumbling Socialism and Sandy's fury for what
bicyclers see as their mecca in Cuba. The road that hugs the coast from
Manzanillo to Guantánamo. This stretch of Cuba's southeast coast once
was busy with tourists. Every turn exposes yet another vista of mountain
and sea in collision. But here is where Sandy made landfall, mangling
bridges and eating up kilometer after kilometer of pavement where ocean
and mountain afforded narrow passage. Now long sections of this route
are passable only by horse, four-wheel drive … and bicycle.
Broken asphalt or washed out road bed, the going is tough on a bicycle,
but the seclusion is worth the price.
One final word to the wise:
Stay in the many casa particulares that dot towns from one end of the
island to the other. In a concession to free enterprise, the government
grants licenses to families to rent out rooms. The government collects
over half the rent, but there is no way of tracking how many meals a day
tourists eat in a casa. You will sit down to more than a few lobster
dinners prepared by professional chefs who have learned taking care of
one couple for one night can pay more than a month at a restaurant. You
will be casting one more vote for free enterprise each time you sit down
to a delicious meal invariably priced $4, $6, $8 or $10.
By no means is touring Cuba easy, but as is so often true with a
bicycle, the more challenging the ride, the more wonderful memories mark
the route.
Ken Youngblood, who made a career writing and teaching writing, is the
first place winner of seven Distinguished Writing Awards in the New York
News Publishers Association Award for Excellence competitions. In 1992
he was honored with the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching
from then Chancellor Johnstone of the State University of New York.

Source: Touring Cuba by bicycle: Take the challenge - The Taos News:
Lifestyle -
http://www.taosnews.com/lifestyle/article_5646c0e4-2fc6-11e4-bbc0-001a4bcf887a.html

Cuba gives US swimmer Diana Nyad sporting medal

Posted on Saturday, 08.30.14

Cuba gives US swimmer Diana Nyad sporting medal

U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad arrives for a ceremony where she will
receive Cuba's The Order of Sporting Merit medal in Havana, Cuba,
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. Nyad is the first swimmer to swim the crossing
between Cuba and Florida without flippers or a shark cage for
protection. Nyad made four previous attempts; first in 1978, and three
times in 2011 and 2012. Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo

Fullsize previous | nextImage 1 of 2
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HAVANA -- One year after becoming the first person confirmed to have
swum from Havana to Key West, Florida without a shark cage, U.S.
endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was back in Cuba to receive that country's
Order of Sporting Merit award.

After a ceremony led by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel on
Saturday, Nyad said she dreams of uniting Cubans and Americans to walk
with her the length of the island of Cuba "as good neighbors and friends."

Diaz-Canel called Nyad's feat "a symbol of the friendship between our
peoples," referring to the United States and Cuba.

Nyad attempted the swim from Cuba to Florida four times before finally
completing the journey on her fifth attempt one year ago, making her the
first to make it without a shark cage.

Source: HAVANA: Cuba gives US swimmer Diana Nyad sporting medal -
Americas Wires - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/30/4319155/cuba-gives-us-swimmer-diana-nyad.html

Coast Guard repatriates Cuban, Haitian migrants

Posted on Sunday, 08.31.14

Coast Guard repatriates Cuban, Haitian migrants
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI -- The U.S. Coast Guard has repatriated 86 migrants it says were
illegally migrating from Cuba and Haiti.

The Coast Guard said in a statement Saturday that the repatriations are
the result of five separate interdictions of people attempting to
illegally migrate to the United States through the Florida Straits. The
incidents occurred over more than a week.

On Aug. 21 the Coast Guard Cutter Williams Flores interdicted 24 Haitian
migrants north of the Grand Bahamas Island. Sixteen of the migrants were
reported to have jumped into the water, but were rescued.

In a span of a week in the south Florida Straits, Coast Guard and
Customs and Border Protection units located and interdicted 62 Cuban
migrants from homemade vessels in three separate incidents.

Source: MIAMI: Coast Guard repatriates Cuban, Haitian migrants - Florida
Wires - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/31/4319982/coast-guard-repatriates-cuban.html

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly

Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly
Posted on August 29, 2014

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 28 August 2014 – "I need some dark
glasses," Veronica told me one day when I ran into her on the street.
Almost seventy, the lady underwent cataract surgery some months ago and
now must "take care of my eyes," as she explained to me. She works in
the sun selling jabitas (plastic bags) to the customers of the farmers
market on Tulipan Street. The harsh midday glare is hard on her
eyesight, but that's not the worst of her problems. "We have an alarm
system to know when the police are coming, although sometimes they're in
plainclothes and catch us by surprise." Last month she paid a 1,500
Cuban peso fine (roughly $60 US) for engaging in illegal sales, and this
week she received a warning letter for recidivism for the same offense.

If you read articles like Randy Alonso's about the absence of bags in
the hard currency stores, you might come to believe this resource is
being diverted into the hands of unscrupulous traders. However, it's
enough to simply know Veronica to understand that her business is one
more of misery than of profit. For the four decades she worked as a
cleaning assistant in a school, the lady now receives a pension that
doesn't exceed ten dollars a month. Without the resale of the plastic
bags, she would have to beg, but she asserts that she "would die before
asking for money in the streets." She is not to blame, rather she is a
victim of the circumstances that have pushed her into an illegal
activity to survive.

Having to carry purchases in one's hands in the absence of bags is
something that annoys any buyer. But realizing that Randy Alonzo, one of
the great spokesmen of the current system, doesn't know the human dramas
that lead to the diversion of plastic bags, is even more irritating.
It's not about callous people who are dedicated to enriching themselves
through the fruits of State embezzlement, but rather citizens whose
economic poverty leads them to resell whatever product comes into their
hands. Right now Veronica is outside some business, wearing the old dark
glasses they gave her, muttering "I have jabitas, I have jabitas, one
peso each."

Source: Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/jabitas-plastic-bags-and-pensions-for-the-elderly/

Another Member of the Magazine ‘Coexistence’ is Cited by Police

Another Member of the Magazine 'Coexistence' is Cited by Police / 14ymedio
Posted on August 29, 2014

14YMEDIO, Havana, 28 August 2014 – In an escalation that started weeks
ago, another member of the editorial board of Convivencia (Coexistence)
magazine has been summoned by the police. This Wednesday Javier Valdes
received a citation for the following day at 5:00 PM, at the National
Revolutionary Police (PNR) station in Pinar del Rio. Other notifications
were sent a couple of weeks ago to Karina Galvez, Juan Carlos Fernandez
and William Rodriguez, members of the editorial team and collaborators
on the independent publication.

Convivencia is a magazine created in the westernmost Cuban province,
that recently celebrated its sixth anniversary and 40 issues. Its topics
include culture, civil society, debates about the economy and politics,
but also cover pastoral and ethical issues. Since its inception, the
publication has been the object of police pressure and its director,
Dagoberto Valdes, has been treated especially aggressively in the
official media.

Pressures have also come from the General Customs of the Republic, who
confiscated cameras and laptops from Karina Galvez and Juan Carlos
Fernández after a recent trip abroad.

Source: Another Member of the Magazine 'Coexistence' is Cited by Police
/ 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/another-member-of-the-magazine-coexistence-is-cited-by-police-14ymedio/

Cuban migrants head back to sea as relatives pray in the U.S.

Cuban migrants head back to sea as relatives pray in the U.S.
BY PETER POLACK
GEORGE TOWN Cayman Islands Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:26pm EDT

(Reuters) - Sixteen Cuban migrants who sought refuge in Grand Cayman
have resumed their voyage in a small, homemade aluminum boat after local
officials turned them away, citing a migration agreement with Cuba.

The 20-foot (6-meter) boat, a patchwork of fiberglass and metal with
large inner tubes attached to makeshift outriggers, left on Thursday
night, headed for Honduras, about 400 miles (644 km) away.

They were last seen being trailed by a police boat and helicopter about
5 miles (8 km) off Grand Cayman, drifting west in 5-foot (1.5-meter)
waves with a squall approaching.

"I am praying as hard as I can," said the anxious mother of a
23-year-old passenger, who was interviewed by phone in Texas and asked
to be identified only by her first name, Marlenis, because the group
left Cuba illegally on a boat built in secret.

Most of the passengers, 11 men and five women aged 18 to 40, are from
her barrio in the town of Manzanillo in eastern Cuba, she said. "Life is
very difficult there. They have no jobs, no opportunity, no future at
all," she added.

Boats smuggling Cubans who are seeking to flee the communist-run island
are frequently seen off the Cayman Islands, located in the Caribbean
less than 100 miles (160 km) south of Cuba.

They head for Honduras from where migrants make the long journey
overland to reach the U.S. border with Mexico. Under the U.S. so-called
"wet foot, dry foot policy," Cuban migrants who make it onto United
States soil are allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea are
turned back.

Marlenis, 42, said she left Cuba by boat six years ago taking the same
route via the Cayman Islands.

"It was a very tough journey, five storms, lots of rain, drifting,
almost lost. I don't like to remember it," she recalled. "It took us 11
days in total but the hardest part was the last two days on the open sea
from Grand Cayman to Honduras," she added.

The U.S. Border Patrol said in late July that more than 13,500 Cubans
without proper travel documents had tried to cross the southwestern U.S.
border since Oct. 1, 2013, more than during all of the previous 12
months. Four years ago, the 12-month total was about 5,500.

Cayman immigration officials estimate about 244 Cuban migrants have
passed through its waters so far in 2014, while 76 were repatriated.

Under a 1999 migration accord with Havana, Cuban boats are allowed to
pass through Cayman waters as long as they do not seek any assistance.
If the migrants come ashore, they are taken into custody and usually
repatriated to Cuba.

(Editing by David Adams, Ken Wills and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: Cuban migrants head back to sea as relatives pray in the U.S. |
Reuters -
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/30/us-cayman-cuba-idUSKBN0GT2HC20140830

Catholic archbishop in Cuba criticizes government

Posted on Friday, 08.29.14

Catholic archbishop in Cuba criticizes government
BY NORA GAMEZ TORRES
NGAMEZTORRES@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

In an unusual gesture for a member high in the Catholic Church's
hierarchy in Cuba, the Apostolic nuncio Bruno Musaro spoke openly about
Cuba's "extreme poverty and human and civil degradation."

Musaro made his controversial remarks while on vacation in Italy after
holding a Mass in the San Pio de Pietrelcina park, in the Italian
municipality of Vignacastrisi.

The Cuban people are "victims of a socialist dictatorship that has kept
them subjugated for the past 56 years," Musaro said, according to the
Italian newspaper, Lecce News24.

"I'm thankful to the pope for inviting me to this island, and I hope to
leave once that the socialist regime has disappeared indefinitely," said
Musaro, a Vatican ambassador living in Cuba since 2011. "Only liberty
can bring hope to the Cuban people," he said.

The Italian newspaper said his remarks were "a cry for help, a call to
the weapons of conscience and common sense" made by the diplomatic envoy
from the Holy See, who also said regarding Cubans, "The only hope for a
better life is to escape the island."

The monsignor compared the realities of his native Italy and Cuba and
warned Italians that they should make note of the fact that "in Cuba, a
doctor makes 25 euros a month, and to live with dignity, some
professionals go work as waiters during the night."

"In Cuba, everything is controlled by the state, even milk and meat.
Eating lamb is a luxury, and whoever kills one to eat it is arrested and
taken to jail," he said. "Half a century later, and people are still
talking about the revolution. It is praised. Meanwhile, people don't
have work and don't know what to do to feed their own kids," the
archbishop said.

Masuro was born in Andrani in the Lecce region, nearby to Vignacastrisi,
where he officiated the Mass. He was named a Vatican representative in
Cuba in 2001 after a long career within the Catholic Church.

He was ordained as a priest in 1971 and began his diplomatic service in
1977. He was previously designated apostolic nuncio in other Latin
American countries such as Panama (1994), Guatemala (2004) and Perú (2009).

According to a source of the Apostolic branch in Cuba, he is currently
"on vacation" in Italy and isn't expected back until three weeks from now.

The source claimed to be unaware of the comments made by Masuro and
denied that his mission in Cuba had ended, although other media outlets
suggested it had.

The archbishop's comments were given in Polish and on Vatican Radio on
its website. They were not given in Spanish or in English.

Masuro's declarations could bring tension to an era in which the
Catholic Church has improved its relationship with Raúl Castro's government.

Monsignor Felix Perez, adjunct secretary of the Conference of Catholic
Bishops, recently told the Italian news agency ANSA that Cuban
authorities have approved plans to build two new churches in Santiago de
Cuba and Pinar del Río.

The frank nature of Masuro's criticism contrasts with the caution that
high members of the Catholic Church uphold when it comes to topics of
politics and social well-being on the island.

The Christian Liberation Movement quickly welcomed the archbishop's
comments.

From Havana, activist Luis Alberto Marino said on Radio Martí that
Masuro's words "give a lot of hope to those of us on the inside and
those on the outside who believe that another Cuba is possible."

Source: Catholic archbishop in Cuba criticizes government - Nation -
MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/29/4317220/catholic-archbishop-in-cuba-criticizes.html

What Does a Cuban Bring Home in Her Suitcase?

What Does a Cuban Bring Home in Her Suitcase? / 14ymedio
Posted on August 29, 2014

Nuria retired last year and this month she traveled to Miami, where her
sisters live. On returning to the Island she showed 14ymedio what she
brought home in her suitcase.

Let's take a look at what she threw in her bags with brief comments from
her about why she chose each product.

Two bottle of dishwashing soap. "There isn't any in the spiritual
centers and what they do sell here destroys my hands."
Two packages of napkins: "In the snack bars they cut them in two and
even in four, making them real onion skins."
A stove lighter: "There aren't any matches in the stores, and when you
find them the heads fall off and burn my clothes."
Two packages of bath soap: "I've spent years without washing myself with
something soft and creamy, so I just couldn't resist."
Four pairs of jeans: "They last and I'm not going to pay the price the
State charges for them in its boutiques."
A package of coffee: "I know it seems like a crime, but I'm going to mix
it with what I get from the ration book and it'll last me longer."
Two bottles of cologne: "Since Suchel reduced production, it's something
refreshing and fragrant for after the bath which has become a luxury."
A packet of washing detergent: "I have clothes that are a little grimy
and I'm going to see if this can restore the colors."
A paper datebook: "The doctor who operated on my cataracts asked me for
something to write down her appointments and I can't go wrong with her."
Four scouring pads: "With the ban on traders [importing such things for
resale], mops and sponges have disappeared."
A package of instant glue: "I need it to glue together things that have
broken around the house."
A package of candles: "I'm preparing for the blackouts, because every
now and then the lights go out."
Ten condoms: "At my age I don't think you need them, but I brought them
for my daughters because they say the ones at the pharmacy are past
their expiration date."
A jar of CoffeeMate: "I'm going to invite my friends to have a little
coffee with this, to remind us of the old times."
Two towels: "The only one I have I bought a decade ago and there's so
little left of it it doesn't even dry you."
20 bouillon cubes: "This fixes a meal, if I don't have anything to go
with the rice I throw in a cube and at least it tastes of something."
Two tubes of tomato concentrate: "I have so many cravings to eat some
good spaghetti with real tomatoes, I couldn't resist."
Five school notebooks: "My granddaughter is starting elementary school
in September and the study materials they give them there are poor quality."
A tube of toothpaste: "My prosthesis will be gleaming with this."
Two boxes of Tampax: "My daughters are dying for this, because the
sanitary napkins on the ration book are annoying and not very absorbent.
A package of disposable plates: "I want for at least one day to have the
pleasure to invite someone to eat and not have to scrub the dishes."
Two rolls of toilet paper: "There is none in the stores and the
newspaper Granma is printed on rougher and rougher paper, so I wanted to
treat myself to something soft but sturdy."
A swimsuit: "You'd think we didn't live on a tropical island considering
the high price of suits in the stores."
A bottle of aspirins: "When I have a headache I prefer some real
aspirins, not the kind that when you take them they stick in your
throat… like the ones they make in Cuba."
A jar of ointment: "I'm old, I have to have something on hand for sore
bones."
A roll of plastic bags: "My sisters laughed because I brought these, but
they don't know how many stores and markets there are that after you buy
the merchandise they tell you they don't have any bags to carry the
products."
A blood pressure monitor: "I'm tired of going to the family doctor and
finding there's no one there, because the doctor is on a foreign mission
or because the water is off."
Four razors: "So I don't have to go out looking like a pirate with hair
legs."
A bottle of salt: "This isn't easy to find here and when you can buy it
it's so damo and heavy it will barely pour."
Four incandescent bulbs: "I can't remember when I had light on the
terrace and in the hallway because the energy-saving bulbs aren't
available and when you can find them they cost an arm and a leg."
Some reading glasses: "I bought them in a wholesale market but at least
I solved the problem, because in the Miramar opticians they wanted to
charge me ten times more for some similar ones."
Powdered onion and garlic: "Onions and garlic are so expensive in the
agricultural markets that I can't buy them."
A small tin of olive oil: "I don't want to die without experiencing that
taste again."
A universal remote control: "The one for my Panda television that they
gave me during the energy revolution broke years ago."
A DVD player: "My trip was especially to bring back this, because the
truth is that I can't stand the official programming."
Nuria has also traveled with a handbag in which she brought personal
belongings and some underwear. She's happy about her "treasures," so she
shuts the suitcase, smiles and goes home to distribute the gifts and
enjoy what she brought.

Source: What Does a Cuban Bring Home in Her Suitcase? / 14ymedio |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/what-does-a-cuban-bring-home-in-her-suitcase-14ymedio/

Friday, August 29, 2014

You Can’t Come In

You Can't Come In / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on August 28, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Rosa Lopez, 27 August 2014 – "You can't come in," a
young doorkeeper emphatically tells a young man, while gesturing for him
to move away from the door. When the target protests, he receives the
explanation that in this crowded Havana club, "you can't enter wearing
shorts." A sign posted at the entrance warns that the place, "reserves
the right of admission."

The story is repeated in many other places in Havana. The Charles
Chaplin Cinema downtown posts a sign with entry restrictions. When you
ask an employee if the rules are dictated by higher body, she says, "No,
no. Management is in charge, there's no law. We are the ones who
decide." And she adds, "We don't allow people without shirts, or wearing
flipflops, or behaving inappropriately." It's not unusual to see,
however, flexible rules for foreigners. An Italian in short shorts—which
could be confused with a bathing suit—passed through the lobby without
being ejected.

In 2010, the Chaplin Cinema refused entry to a group of people trying to
attend the premier of the documentary Revolution about the hip-hop group
Los Aldeanos. Some of these citizens drafted a legal demand against the
entity, charging that the segregation was based on ideological reasons,
because they were activists, bloggers and musicians from the dissident
scene, but it was unsuccessful in court. Years later, the downtown movie
theater still sports a sign with restrictions on entry.

Welcome Cubans, but…

In 2008, one of the first steps taken by Raul Castro on assuming power
was to allow Cubans access to hotels. According to the General
President, that decision was meant to avoid the emergence of "new
inequalities." Nevertheless, native Cubans still can't enjoy all the
recreational areas of the country. The boats that run along the coast,
the marine enclaves along stretches of the coast, and some keys still do
not allow Cubans residing on the Island where they were born.

By the Bay of Cienfuegos a pleasure boat sails which doesn't allow any
Cubans to enjoy the excursion.

By the Bay of Cienfuegos a pleasure boat sails which doesn't allow any
Cubans to enjoy the excursion. The reason, according to several dock
workers, is fear that that the boat could be hijacked in an illegal
attempt to leave the country. The argument reveals the drama of
emigration, but also the continuing existence of an apartheid that makes
those born in this land second-class citizens. The measure also violates
the Cuban Constitution which guarantees, in Article 43, that all Cubans
have the right to use, "without segregation, maritime, rail, air and
road transport."

So far, there are no national guidelines that justify such segregation
procedures, especially in State facilities, where it is established that
they are projected by law. Outside Pepitos Bar, located on 26th Avenue
downtown, there is a sign that shows the use and abuse of the right
admission "They are rules imposed by the administration," says a worker
at the center who didn't want his name revealed.

The existing Penal Code establishes one to three years imprisonment or a
300,000 share* fine for an official who arbitrarily exceeds the legal
limits of his or her competency. However, none of the lawyers consulted
by this newspaper could remember a trial against any administrator or
director of a public facility for irregularities in the "right of
admission."

The "house rules" that govern some public sites in Cuba go against even
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to its Article 133,
"Every person as the right to circulate freely," and Article 27 also
adds that every citizen "has the right to freely form a part of the
cultural life of the community."

Several State restaurants on Obispo Street prohibit nationals from
talking with tourists.

Attorney Wilfredo Vallín, director of the Cuban Law Association,
published an article on the site Primavera Digital (Digital Spring), in
which he asserted that "restricting, and at the extreme not permitting,
access to public places to people who behave correctly, don't cause
disturbances, don't bother anyone, is illegal."

Several State restaurants on Obispo Street prohibit nationals from
talking with tourists. Management claims the right to expel people from
the premises under the pretext that they are annoying foreign customers.
However, cases of verbal reprimands or expulsions of tourists for
annoying a Cuban with their insinuations or proposals are unheard of.
Having a passport from another country appears to grant carte blanche in
these situations.

*Translator's note: Under Cuban law fines are set as a number of
"shares"; the value of a single share can then be adjusted, affecting
all the fines, without having to rewrite every law.

Source: You Can't Come In / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/you-cannot-come-in-14ymedio-rosa-lopez/

Different Times

Different Times / Fernando Damaso
Posted on August 29, 2014

In my far-off childhood, extracurricular organizations — whether public
or private — were concerned principally with sponsoring weekend trips to
interesting natural locations, cultural institutions or factories.

The goal was to encourage our love of nature, expand our general
knowledge, provide opportunities to attend age-appropriate entertainment
events, enhance participation in sports, arrange excursions to the
beach, and other such activities.

We were also involved in social service activities such as participating
in public health campaigns, collecting donations for the blind, cancer
treatment, park improvements and other causes. We were interested in all
of them. They motivated us and taught us civic and social
responsibility. We were never used as tools for political or ideological
ends.

I noticed that the Pioneers of Cuba* have recently announced changes for
the upcoming season of activities. It will be interesting to see if
these changes are intended to depoliticize the organization by
prohibiting children from participating in acts of repudiation to a
reggaeton beat, public protests against the "eternal enemy" with
speeches written by their teachers, gatherings in support of the
"eternal commander," and similar activities which have been routine for
years. I believe these changes are intended "to test the maturity,
initiative and sense of responsibility of the pioneers, and their
ability to discern, decide and act."

The organization's designated president — an official from the Young
Communist Pioneers well past the age of her members — has also decreed
that beginning September 1, the season's start date, children and
adolescents will be required to condemn subversive actions by U.S.
government against Cuba, and participate in actions in solidarity with
the Cuban Five, the children of Palestine and other peoples. Very
appropriate childhood activities, I am sure.
Why not let children be children and allow them to experience their
childhoods without imposing adult hatreds? From the moment you are born,
you are allotted a pioneeer neckerchief in your ration book, even if
neither you nor your parents want it. Most people just go along because,
if they refuse, "the road to hell" awaits them. Ironically, most of
those who have emigrated or are in the process of emigrating were once
pioneers.

In reality there should be other changes, such as dropping the
requirement that children join the Pioneers. As things stand now, the
change that has been announced simply amounts to more of the same.
*Translator's note: A communist youth organization with activities
similar to those of the Boy Scouts but with an additional focus on
communist ideology. Children enter into the organization in elementary
school and continue until adolescence, at which point they often join
the Young Communist League. In Cuba members' uniforms include a
characteristic red or blue neckerchief.

23 August 2014

Source: Different Times / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/different-times-fernando-damaso/

Cuba meeting next month

Cuba meeting next month
Posted By Paul Kennedy
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 7:58 pm

The costly problems of Cuban migrants staying in Cayman could soon be
over. High level discussions between government officials here and in
Cuba will take place next month.
The meeting has been cancelled and rearranged since February but Deputy
Governor Hon. Hon. Franz Manderson said the meeting will go ahead on 18
September.

Top of the agenda is updating the current Memorandum of understanding
that dates back fifteen years.

Under the current terms, migrants seeking assistance here cannot be
helped, instead if they land on Cayman soil they must stay here while
seeking asylum.

A Freedom of Information request by Cayman 27 earlier in the year
revealed this has cost the cayman government more than $500,000 in 2013
alone.

Next month's meeting in Havana will be with the Division of Consular
Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
the Republic of Cuba and other officials.

Source: Cuba meeting next month - Cayman 27 -
http://www.cayman27.com.ky/2014/08/27/cuba-meeting-next-month

Havana says U.S. embargo hurts Cuban cancer patients

Havana says U.S. embargo hurts Cuban cancer patients
Published August 28, 2014 EFE

Cuba is facing difficulties getting medications and technology to treat
children with cancer due to the U.S. economic embargo, state-run media
said Thursday, citing an official with the pediatric service of the
National Oncology and Radiobiology Institute.

The country's costs have been higher than they should have been because
it cannot purchase medications or radioactive products in the United
States and has to do so in third countries, Dr. Glenda Gomez said.

She also mentioned difficulties in obtaining equipment for anti-tumoral
therapy, a situation that has forced Cuban doctors to "transfer patients
from one province to another to receive treatment."

The Cuban health system currently has nine pediatric cancer treatment
centers spread around the country.

The problems caused by the embargo for pediatric and cancer care are one
of the most sensitive issues denounced by the Cuban government each year
in its traditional report to the U.N. General Assembly regarding the
consequences stemming from the U.S. sanctions.

Cuban authorities estimate that the country has lost more than $10
million in the oncological sector due to the blockade in recent years.
Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death on the communist-ruled island.

The U.S. embargo put in place against the island in 1962 is one of the
main issues of bilateral disagreement and, Havana says, it has caused
economic damage to the Cuban economy calculated at more than $1
trillion. EFE

Source: Havana says U.S. embargo hurts Cuban cancer patients | Fox News
Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/08/28/havana-says-us-embargo-hurts-cuban-cancer-patients/

Dominican, Cuban authorities sign immigration agreement

Dominican, Cuban authorities sign immigration agreement

Santo Domingo.- As a result of the Seventh Round of Cuba-Dominican
Republic Migration Talks, which took place at the Foreign Relations
Ministry, the two countries signed an immigration agreement aimed at
regulating illegal immigration.

The agreement was signed by Immigration Agency director Jose Taveras and
Consular and Immigration Affairs Deputy minister Nelly Perez. The Cuban
delegation was headed by ambassador Rafael Daussa, who was accompanied
by Cuban ambassador in the Dominican Republic Alexis Bandrich Vega.

According to elnacional.com.do, Taveras said that due to the lack of
opportunitiethe and the existance of inequalities, the migration
phenomenon will continue to be a problem that requires attention by the
states. "That is why cooperation for the order and legality in migration
flows is an imperative in our times."

Smuggling cases involving Cubans, including baseball players, have been
heard lately in Santo Domingo and Santiago courts. Among the Cuban
professionals who have migrated to the Dominican Republic illegally are
journalists, doctors and teachers.

Source: Dominican, Cuban authorities sign immigration agreement -
DominicanToday.com -
http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2014/8/28/52572/Dominican-Cuban-authorities-sign-immigration-agreement