Hammer Blow to Freedom of Expression / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 15, 2014 • Comments Off

Magazine cover

The editors of the Catholic magazine Laity Space, a sociological debate organ of the Archdiocese of Havana, were removed from their posts. Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez announced it in a brief note that is circulating via email: “We want to inform you that after a decade of intense work — in which we tried to help construct pathways of prosperity and stability for our country — we have been relieved of our duties as Editor and Deputy Editor of the magazine.”  It continues, “It has been a true pleasure to have been able to share this time with all of you clinging to the desire for the possibility of building a better Cuba.  Without you this beautiful adventure would not have taken place.”

To put it bluntly, the Cuban authorities are afraid, very afraid of the word.

Translated by mlk.

13 June 2014

Summer Entertainment / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 12, 2014 • Comments Off

Because of stubbornness, I always trip on the same rock and end up insulted.

The following are summer vacation possibilities in Cuba; I am not exagerrating and take no position one way or the other: Due to our intense heat, most people opt for the beach and camping, but this is also a good time to talk about the magic of libraries. The fine arts entice us with their forms and colors, so visiting museums is a good choice.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to break away from the crowd, meet up with some friends, stroll through the galleries and you will see how gratified both body and soul can be. Cinema, television and radio accompaniment offer diversions that should not be overlooked during the summer season, when a willingness to make the most of it will make all the difference. Certainly, these are options for Cubans without access to hard currency.

Please, more respect by and for our people, these are not alternatives for summer vacation.  These are typical weekend activities for any family in the world.  Enough.

Translated by mlk.

9 July 2014

New Teachers Graduation / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 12, 2014 • Comments Off

The provincial director of education in Holguin estimates that the graduation of hundreds of new Education professionals from the province’s two teacher training centers will favorably impact the availability of teachers in the coming school year. The recent graduates will offer classes in the different provinces of the country’s east.

Margarita McPherson Sayu, Vice Minister of Education, said that the entrance of the new teachers into the educational system will mean not only that the faculties will again nurture youth, but also that well-trained professionals will together with the rest help make the leap to the path of quality.

Works for me, as my grandmother used to say. I do not question the quality of the new professionals, I refer to this leap; because the deterioration of instruction in Cuba is so, but so great, that really they need a magician.

Translated by mlk.

10 July 2014

Secrets and Illnesses Among Cuban Doctors in Venezuela / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 9, 2014 • Comments Off

The Cuban government, as a tactic, is entrenched in silence, compartmentalization and secrets. This is the reason why, even today, in the age of the internet and despite several defections, it is not common to find real news that described the medical mission in Venezuela from inside.

The subject is “top secret.” The island’s government prefers to hide problems, instead of preventing them with information. Any data that concerns the medical collaboration is considered “classified” and, consequently, remains guarded by the Cuban and Venezuelan special services.

So, weeks ago on the publication of an article titled, “Cuban mission in Venezuela in danger,” the bloodhounds got all upset and lost their cool, and with the momentum of hunters set off in chaotic pursuit. But, on not finding those guilty of “leaking information,” they decided to grab the most likely bidder as a scapegoat so as not to face the resounding echo of their own incompetence.

Arrested and sent to Havana, an innocent aid worker traveled handcuffed and guarded, carrying as baggage as a sheet of paper where he is accused of being a spy; without trial but with judgment. Such slander is the work of an inquisitorial tribunal chaired by Roberto Gonzalez, national chief of the Cuban Medical Mission in that country.

Somewhere I read that to see an injustice and to remain silent is like committing it. So it is my duty to clarify that the information published did not come from any foot soldier, but an upper crust official who, with his high sense of greed, tried to live in a world beyond the sky.

I do not think any cooperator would risk breaking the barrier of imposed compartmentalization without some guaranteed escape. Something that I believe justifies the innocence of the arrested. Those below don’t possess the information, nor have the desire; it’s enough to have to the responsibility to save lives and to be sheltered in a country where few people want us; because despite our good, bad or ulterior motives, much of the Venezuelan population, sees us as mere invaders.

But back to the subject at hand, and with more information than I had last week; on Monday,June 30, in Anzoategui, Aragua, Bolivar, Carabobo, Lara, Miranda, Sucre and Zulia 330 Cuban collaborators were reported with acute respiratory infections; 37 of them in the last week. In Nueva Esparta, Trujillo, Monagas, Yaracuy, Sucre, Miranda, Lara and Barinas, there is an increase of collaborators with dengue fever (nine, to be exact).

I am not given to putting figures in writing, but sometimes, like this is necessary. I must also add that in the Amazon, Trujillo, Nueva Esparta, Apure, Guarico, Anzoategui, Lara, Falcón, Barinas, Delta Amacuro and Zulia, 98 Cubans were diagnosed with ADD (acute diarrheal diseases).

Also, in the Amazonas, Apure, Monagas, Guarico, Nueva Esparta, Bolivar, Vargas, Cojedes, Sucre, Merida, Barinas and Zulia, 248 Cuban professionals (79 doctors, 80 nurses, 55 dentists and 34 laboratory technicians) are under observation after suffering some kind of occupational accidents involving exposure to blood and body fluids.

The Cuban medical mission in Venezuela has serious problems; besides manifest rejection and disease, the exodus of physicians is increasing.

I was told that the opening of offices in areas of extreme poverty is stagnant due to the lack of cooperation of community leaders, and Venezuelan students are reluctant to participate as extras in this circus. And to make it more surreal, there is a lack of medications, even basic ones. They say there is a delay in delivery. I will also speak about this.

8 July 2014

Cuba is Going, But into Exile* / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 8, 2014 • Comments Off

According to the authorities, Cubans are now allowed to travel, they can own businesses, and now Cuba is the world champion of freedom. However, even so, desertions from the country continue apace. Within the span of a few hours, ten dancers from the National Ballet of Cuba via Puerto Rico, two tennis players who competed in the Davis Cup, and the members of the women’s Cuban field hockey team, all decide to cross the border to the United States.

Raúl can say what he wants, but judging from events, things — meaning Cuba — are going from bad to worse.

* Translator’s Note:  The first part of the title of this post, “Cuba Va”,  is a play on the title of – and lyrics in – a song by Cuban folk singer Silvio Rodriguez. In the sense that Rodriguez uses the phrase, it can be interpreted as “Cuba will survive” or “Cuba will prevail”.  But the phrase can also be read literally, as in “Cuba is Going” — which is the sense in which the blogger is using it.

Translated by:  Alicia Barraqué Ellison

13 June 2014

Cuba: National Security and Defense of Cattle / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 5, 2014 • Comments Off

The “National Defense Council” is, in exceptional situations, the highest institution of power. Whenever it meets, it is charged with internal order, security, foreign policy, military forces, plus all the economic, legal and social activity of the country.

So it is logical to understand why the luggage of the Cuban leaders are filled with reserves of Imodium, Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismal and all the anti-diarrheals in existence, before leaving for the Extraordinary Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, held in Bolivia, the Army General Castro Ruz called for a Defense Council his First Vice President and his Vice Presidents and a select representation of civilian and military.

The topic was the illegal slaughter of cattle that — as argued — is aggravated in the current socioeconomic circumstances: recording-breaking in southern Cienfuegos. The Pearl of the South, as this beautiful city is known, is the province where the highest rate of cattle theft and slaughter.

The pandemic of killers — as revealed in this important meeting — is seriously affecting the national economy, further reduces the almost non-existent cattle herd, affects the animal heritage of the State companies, cooperatives and individual producers.

This fact, and other administrative issues that of course are ignored, were responsible for the insufficient availability of beef cattle for people’s consumption (as if citizens even received beef), with affects on the food industry, tourism and even light industry because of the lack of skins for the making of shoes and other leather goods for export. The words fly, we know that during the important meeting there was talk about creating rules and measures intended to exercise more control over the livestock industry, and making new regulations aimed at exorcising the evil of illegal slaughter.

The Revolution dictates, and the revolutionaries comply with the need to confront the problem by creating a joint integrated commission for officials from the Ministries of Justice, Agriculture and the National Police, with special participation in the issue by the forces and measures of State Security.

For the first time, to anyone’s knowledge, in a government meeting no one mentions “the Blockade”; I imagine that it’s pretty convoluted to blame the United States for the Cuban amateurs. But the prize for the day’s hero, or the fool of the moment, depending on your point of view, was won by Gustavo Rodriguez, agricultural engineer and Minister of Agriculture.

The comment is heard among the most select gossip of the Cuban political class.

They say that in the full meeting, where the job is to obey, the man, armed with the courage that comes from ingenuity, and not rebellion, criticized the inefficient of the State and its legal mechanisms. He said that, “Increasingly severe criminal penalties haven’t been able to stop the crime; we should recognize the farmers’ ownership of their animals and implement other alternatives to address the problem, such as legalizing and regulating the controlled slaughter of cattle, and gradually implement it, in an experimental way and with a tax policy and prices capable of governing the trade in beef.”

“El Chino*” got upset and let out a shout that was heard in China; leaving the only alternative and unanimous proposal to increase repression, sanctions and the prison population. Oh! And to keep under observation the opinion offered by the comrade minister.

*Translator’s note: “El Chino” (the Chinese man) is reference to Raul Castro.

25 June 2014

Very Deep to be Real /Juan Juan Almeida

•July 5, 2014 • Comments Off

The Latin Press agency reports that in a scientific seminar of the Cuban Economic Studies Center (CEEC), the attendees analyzed topics related to the updating of the Cuban economic model, among them those related to decentralization, municipalization, education and development.  The specialists linked to this workshop say development has to be built and planned, and should include sector policies, macro-economics, national priorities coordinated with territorial priorities, innovation, competition and a marketplace.

I am convinced that they are talking about another country, because judging by the concrete reality that we touch, the experts met and met again; they studied and studied but in the end, they disapproved.

Translated by mlk.

27 June 2014

 
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