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Ecuador promises fuel price cuts amid protests

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersEcuador’s president has promised to lower fuel prices across the country after weeks of disruptive mass protests over the cost of living. Protesters have blocked key roads and staged mass rallies demanding action on fuel and food prices – some of which have turned violent. In response, Guillermo Lasso vowed to cut 10 cents a gallon from both petrol and diesel prices. That is only a third as much as demonstrators had demanded. Since 2020, the cost of diesel has almost doubled and petrol prices have risen dramatically in the oil-producing nation.President Lasso also said that despite his move to lower fuel prices, any violent protesters would face consequences for their actions. “Ecuadorians who seek dialogue will find a government with an outstretched hand,” he said in a Sunday night address. “Those who seek chaos, violence and terrorism will find the full force of the law.” Police lose control of Ecuador town Indigenous groups block roads in fuel price protestsThe move comes after an initial meting between the government and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie), which began the demonstrations. No deal was reached, but the two sides agreed to begin dialogue after a state of emergency was lifted at the request of Conaie, more than a week after President Lasso imposed it.But the president is also facing political pressure amid the crisis. Over the weekend, the national parliament began a debate tabled by the opposition on removing him from office. It is set to conclude later this week. The extent of the disruption caused by the mass demonstrations is significant.The blocking of key roads has led to fears of food shortages in the capital, Quito, as agricultural workers outside of it campaign for fairer food prices. Leonidas Iza, the leader of Conaie who was briefly arrested over the protests, asked his supporters to guarantee “corridors” into the capital over the weekend for essential supplies. The weekend was broadly calm, as demonstrators took a break amid the political movements. But concerns about supplies and the broad economic impacts remain. On Sunday, the energy ministry issued a statement warning that oil production – a key export which the country’s economy relies on – could come to an end within 48 hours if protests and roadblocks continued this week. Production was at a “critical” point, it said, and could stop because of “vandalism, takeover of wells and closing of roads”.The country was hard-hit by the Covid pandemic and its economy is still recovering.This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.More on this storyPolice lose control of Ecuador townIndigenous groups block roads in fuel price protestsPolice arrest indigenous fuel protest leader

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Colombia: Scores injured as bullfight stand collapses

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingAt least four people have been killed and hundreds injured after a stand collapsed during a bullfight in central Colombia, local media report.Footage has emerged showing the wooden stand filled with spectators falling down at a stadium in the municipality of El Espinal, Tolima department.People are seen running away in panic.Sunday’s incident happened during a traditional “corraleja” event, when members of the public are encouraged into the ring to engage the bulls.There are fears that the death toll will rise further.A bull escaped from the stadium and caused panic in the municipality. Local councillor Iván Ferney Rojas said the town’s hospital and ambulance services were unable to cope with the number of injured, El Tiempo newspaper reports.”We need support from ambulances and neighbouring hospitals, many people are still unattended,” Mr Rojas is quoted as saying.

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Almost All the Industries of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Are Shut Down to Save Energy

In the meat industry, it is not enough to work during the hours without sun, but rather the temperature range at which the refrigerators work must be changed. (Screen capture)
14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spíritus, 14 June 2022 — The cuts extend throughout Cuba due to the energy problems that put an end to a summer whose worst part is just beginning. The directors of companies in Sancti Spíritus gathered their workers on Monday to give them the bad news: practically all production processes must be stopped.
The announcement is no small thing. Sancti Spíritus is part of a group of provinces with a high presence of state-owned companies dedicated to the production of food, from baby compotes to shellfish grown on its coasts, or in its livestock, including its traditional pig farming, of which there is very little left.
On June 13, several state companies received “a ukase from above,” an employee linked to dairy production in the province details to 14ymedio. “They told us that the electrical system cannot withstand the current rate and that we have to reduce all the consumption that we can,” says this source, who participated in one of the meetings in which the new savings regulations were distributed.
“I know that it was sent to all the companies because it was what was said among the big bosses,” details this employee. His fear is that in a traditionally cattle-raising province, the state cold-storage where meat from the entire province is stored “is going to implement the closing of the refrigerators and the reduction of personnel. During the day they are not going to be able to open the refrigerators, they have to do it at night or early in the morning, to avoid letting the cold out.”
But it is not enough to do it in the hours without sun, you have to change the margin in which the refrigerators where meat is stored work. “There is a margin of plus or minus -15 degrees, but normally they remain between zero and minus five degrees” and now they will have to be reduced even more, he explains to this newspaper. The limit of the cuts is set by a category yet to be deciphered, but the “vital” productions will remain unaffected.
Among the essentials for the new regulations are dairy products. “We don’t know how they are going to manage to maintain the milk distribution chain with this if, right now and despite the fact that the planned cut has not been implemented, the milk often arrives sour at the customers’ homes.”
The La Estancia industry, producer of compotes for children, could also be among the most affected by the measure. “They ordered it to shut down, even though most of what it produced is sold in freely convertible currency (MLC).” The final product, made from natural fruits, would be among the most affected by the cutback to the Sancti Spíritus industry.
“If they are going to stop our production, what are we going to produce?” laments the employee.
This same Monday, the official press reported that the Lidio Ramón Pérez thermoelectric plant, from Felton, in Holguín, is not operational, after “Block 1” of the plant was disconnected early Monday morning. It is the largest capacity plant in the country.
The newly disconnected unit will receive a “10-day planned maintenance.” This, together with the repairs to Block 2, which, as notified by the Electric Union (UNE), “will begin work in early July,” will increase “the tension in the National Electric System.” In other words, they expect more blackouts for the population.
The UNE also warns that the Otto Parellada thermoelectric plant, known as Tallapiedra, in Old Havana, and Unit 6 of the Antonio Maceo plant, in Santiago de Cuba, are “out of service for maintenance.” Nor does Block 3 of this last thermoelectric plant work “due to breakdowns” either.
Other damaged Units are 6 and 7 of the Máximo Gómez, in the port of Mariel, west of Havana; the 3 of the Ernesto Guevara, in Santa Cruz del Norte, Mayabeque, and the 4 of the Tenth of October, in Nuevitas, Camagüey.
Still working, indicated the UNE, is Block 4 of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes thermoelectric plant, in Cienfuegos, which “has already been incorporated into the generation.”
For now, the city of Sancti Spíritus spent the night from Monday to Tuesday without power. A dark omen for the whole country.
For now, the city of Sancti Spíritus spent the night from Monday to Tuesday without power. A dark omen for the whole country.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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70 Percent of Pregnant Women in Havana are Anemic at Delivery

In Havana, pregnant women arrive at the hospital with anemia so they must undergo blood transfusions. (Havana Tribune)
14ymedio, Havana, 14 June 2022 — The figures are official and overwhelming: 70% of pregnant women in Havana have anemia. It is the percentage of women who are treated in the Gynecology and Obstetrics unit of the Eusebio Hernández Hospital, in the capital, known as the Obrera Maternity, but according to Dr. Jordanka Rodríguez Morales, “it is almost the commonality in the other maternity hospitals in the city.”
In an interview published on Sunday in Tribuna de La Habana, the specialist details that the majority of pregnant women about to give birth arrive at the hospital below 11 grams per liter of hemoglobin in the blood, below which they are considered anemic: “They arrive with 10 grams, and many as little as 8,” so they must undergo blood transfusions.
“Presenting this situation at 34 weeks shortens the time to offer them treatment,” continues the obstetrician-gynecologist, who warns that “delivering or a cesarean section below 11 hemoglobin increases the risks, even for life.”
Rodríguez Morales acknowledges that the free “prenatal iron tablets” “are now deficient,” for which she recommends “alternatives to counteract the latent reality,” which includes the lack of variety and high prices of available foods.
“Green vegetables are also ideal. This is the case of cabbage, cucumber, spinach, the latter under rationed consumption,” suggests the specialist, who adds that “there are very attractive ways to combine them with chicken and mincemeat, the most readily available proteins today. Carrot and eggplant are also found in the ideal diet.
The doctor advises against “the daily intake of red meat,” although it is an unattainable product due to its low or high prices, usually in foreign currency, as well as “investing money in something as harmful as soft drinks, sweets, ice cream, and even the box juices.”
“The Cuban Health System is structured so that each pregnancy reaches a happy term,” says Rodríguez Morales, who adds that part of the responsibility for it must also be “individual.” In her interview, the doctor refers only to Havana, but taking into account that in the capital there is access to more resources than in the provinces, it is to be expected that the situation in less populated areas of the country will be even worse.
According to official figures released earlier this year, in 2020, 40 pregnant women died in Cuba for every 100,000 live births, while last year the rate shot up to 176.6, with 175 deaths. In percentage terms, the increase is 341.5% since 2018.
The infant mortality rate has grown by 55.1% since 2020, when 4.9 children under 12 months of age died per 1,000 live births compared to 7.6 in 2021. Compared to 2018, when the rate was 3 .9, the increase is 91.77%.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Flights from the US to Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey Announced

As announced, flights to the US from the Abel Santa María airport in Santa Clara, Cuba resume this Thursday. (DC)
14ymedio, Havana, 14 June 2022 — Almost a week after the first charter flights from the United States to Santa Clara and Holguín, Cuba, were announced, starting this Thursday, the Cuban Airport and Airport Services Company (Ecasa) announced the complete schedule of operations to the rest of the the provinces of Cuba during this month.
Thus, from the Antonio Maceo International Airport in Santiago de Cuba, as of June 20, there will be a flight on Mondays and another on Fridays to Miami, and from the Ignacio Agramonte Airport in Camagüey, as of June 23, there will be a flight on Thursday and another on Saturday to Miami.
As of June 16, as planned, there will be flights to Miami from the Abel Santa María International Airport in Santa Clara, one Thursdays, another on Sundays, and another on Wednesdays, as well as flights on Sunday and another on Wednesday to Tampa.
Finally, from the Frank País airport in Holguín, as of Friday there will be flights on Friday, Monday and Tuesday to Miami, and a flight on Tuesday to Tampa.
The resumption of trips from US territory to the provinces comes after Washington’s announcement, on May 16, to resume the family reunification program and abolish the limit of 1,000 dollars per quarter to send remittances to the Island.
These measures, imposed two and a half years ago by then President Donald Trump, in retaliation for the collaboration of the Cuban government in the repression in Venezuela, were intended at that time, according to the US, to restrict the economic resources of the Havana regime.
Flights have not yet been announced for the remaining airports that were affected by the restriction: Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Manzanillo, Cienfuegos and Matanzas.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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The Regime Punishes the Brother of Cuban Fighter Cristian Solenzal

The brothers Cristian and Damián Solenzal, two outstanding athletes of Cuban wrestling. (Facebook)
14ymedio, Havana, 20 June 2022 — The family of Cuban fighter Cristian Solenzal, who defected in Acapulco, Mexico last May, is suffering reprisals. While his arrival in Lexington, Kentucky (USA) was confirmed this Monday, SwingCompleto revealed that the athlete’s brother, Damián “will be limited in traveling with the Cuba team to international events.”
The decision, the publication says, was made “arbitrarily.” The sanction was finalized after Cristian, who was one of the strong candidates to get his ticket to the Pan American Games in Santiago de Chile 2023, escaped before his commitment against the Peruvian Sixto Miguel Auccapina during the Pan American Wrestling Championship that took place in Mexico.
Damián is one of the most outstanding athletes from Sancti Spíritus. In 2019 he won the Junior Pan American Championship, in Guatemala. In that same year he won the silver medal at the Pan American Championship held in Argentina.
Cuban sports are plagued with similar cases, SwingCompleto published and noted that the authorities erase “from one day to the next the laurels for which they were once celebrated,” referring to athletes who have undergone the same punishment.
Damián’s case occurs in a week agitated by leaks. This Saturday, details were offered about the capture of the players Alfredo Fadraga and Yosvani Ávalos, who had left the group of the Under-23 team that participated in the Pan American Championship in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes.
The Mexican police arrested the boys who were returned to the island before the tournament ended as if they were criminals. The disciplinary measure has not yet been announced.
This Sunday the escape of the Olympic boxing champion Andy Cruz was confirmed. The boxer is in the Dominican Republic, which shook the Cuban government.
Since Cristian’s escape, sources confirmed to 14ymedio that the man from Sancti Spiritus had in mind to continue his career in the United States. Solenzal is part of the group of five Cubans who left the wrestling team in Mexico. The others were the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic champion and two-time world champion Ismael Borrero, Leonardo Herrera, Amanda Hernández and Yolanda Cordero.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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The Left Hand of Latin America

Gustavo Petro with his future vice president, Francia Márquez. (EFE)
14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, June 21, 2022 — Latin America has voted again with its left hand. Gustavo Petro’s victory in Colombia breaks a historic wall that had kept his country on the right for 200 years. Among the causes of his unprecedented triumph is the deterioration of traditional political forces, unable to reinvent their proposals in the face of a completely new reality.
Nor can the impact of the pandemic, which accelerated popular discontent and caused a social explosion between April and June 2021, be ruled out. In addition, the Uribe leadership didn’t know how to handle the complexities of the peace process that, in the end, have placed Petro in the presidential sash. The Colombian left has achieved with the polls what it could not achieve with weapons. And society has not voted with its brain or heart, not even with its stomach: it has voted with its liver.
During the 20th century, there were several times when the left about to govern by electoral means, but in the context of the Cold War, the United States wasn’t willing to allow it. Latin America was shaken by various coups d’état that installed far-right dictatorships. Pinochet, Somoza and Videla caused panic in the face of possible communist expansion and shed rivers of blood in order to defend their notions of freedom.
At the opposite extreme, the Cuban dictatorship shot, imprisoned or banished anyone who dared to express an opinion against its doctrine, while exporting armed revolutions from the Rio Grande to Patagonia. With the collapse of the USSR, the United States softened its positions to the south and stopped seeing the victories of the left as threats to its national security. Fidel Castro, for his part, could no longer continue investing in expensive rebel enterprises and decided to use his tentacles to put his allies in power through a more sustainable path: the ballot box.
Then came the “pink tide” headed by Chávez, Lula, Evo, Correa and the Kirchners, among others. The Cuban regime was appointed as official guru and used its very long experience in propaganda and its romantic-mystical speech. The new great enemy would be neoliberal globalization. The successful formula was to shout to the four winds that the identity of the oppressed peoples was in serious danger. The ideologues of Castro-Chavism reformulated the proposals of 21st Century Socialism, presented in 1996 by the German sociologist Heinz Dieterich Steffan.
The São Paulo Forum was joined by ALBA and UNASUR, regional institutions opposed to the Washington Consensus and created with the purpose of establishing, on firm ground, the roots of the socialist clan. The wave advanced as much as it could, although it didn’t reach a tsunami. The deterioration of economies, the fall in the prices of raw materials, the corruption scandals, the death of leading figures, as well as the democratic inadequacies of Bolivarian theory, caused the decline of that crest, tearing it apart against the electoral reef.
However, at the end of the first quarter of a century, the Latin American left hand rises again. It does so in a post-pandemic context, in the midst of Putin’s war, with China pretending to be Swedish as it moves towards becoming the world superpower, with the United States weaker and more ignored than ever, and with the European Union frightened by the winds blowing from the other side of the planet. Global institutions responsible for ensuring peace, democracy and human rights now have symptoms of obsolescence. Humanity is on the verge of radical change, which could lead to a new order or the extermination of the species.
So far, the new Latin American left remains fragmented into three blocs. On the one hand, there is the Cuba-Nicaragua-Venezuela triumvirate, fossils that have survived embedded in the rock of authoritarianism, with strident discourses and policies. Very close to them, but with a more moderate tone, are López Obrador [Mexico], Xiomara Castro [Honduras] and Luis Arce [Bolivia]. All three were absent from the Summit of the Americas and have openly defended the triumvirate. In a third group we see Alberto Fernández [Argentina], Pedro Castillo [Peru] and Gabriel Boric [Chile], somewhat more correct than the previous ones and critical of the dictatorships in the region with which they are ideologically related.
It remains to be seen if Petro’s victory or Lula’s possible triumph unify these blocs and resurrect a cycle that pushes the left to its most sinister side. Among so many waves, there are already those who call our Macondian piece of world “América del Surf.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Police Threaten Young People in Sancti Spíritus to Prevent a New 11J (July 11th Protests) in Cuba

Alexander Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés. (Courtesy)
14ymedio, Havana, June 17, 2022 — Alexander Fábregas Milanés has not had peace since he was released last April, after serving nine months in prison for convening a demonstration on July 11, 2021, through social networks.
The young man from Sancti Spíritus, 32, is being harassed by State Security and, on Tuesday, was threatened in an interrogation with a return to prison if he continued to publicly show his activism, which in any case he had announced that he would not renounce.
Cited to appear at the police station at one o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés, who accompanied him, decided to leave because they were not being attended. They had not gone even three blocks, when a State Security car stopped them and took them back to the police station.
There, the young man explains, “They told me that if I continued to be an activist on social networks, I would be sentenced under the new Criminal Code to 20 years of deprivation of liberty.” The rule, approved by the National Assembly last May, will enter into force 90 days after being published in the Official Gazette.
According to Fábregas, in front of an investigator who was filling out the corresponding forms, a woman dressed as a nurse and “a new officer”  by the name of “Lusito” assigned to his case, “Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Pérez, with a lot of cynicism, told me that he was already doing the paperwork to send me back to prison, that he was going to do it well for me, just as he did on July 11, and this time it wasn’t going to be the same as the previous conviction.”
Fábregas was arrested at his home on the night of July 11 for transmitting on social networks a call to take to the streets of Sancti Spíritus, to join the protests that occurred during that day in other provinces of the island.
Nine days after his arrest and in a summary trial, Fábregas was sentenced to nine months in prison for the crime of incitement to commit a crime, although he didn’t set foot in the street on July 11. He only managed to have a lawyer one day before the trial, his family said at the time.
Although the young man belonged to the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum at the time of his call to take to the streets, he was a “self-employed opponent,” according to his mother. In December 2020, he had already spent three days under arrest, after he posted a photograph on social networks where he appeared with a sign that said: “No More Misery.”
Fábregas’ mother, who along with her son has suffered pressure from State Security all this time, was also interrogated on Tuesday, despite not being summoned.
“I think that they’re trying to prevent a new July 11 in Cuba and are beginning to threaten all those they believe have the courage to demonstrate,” is the spirited young man’s explanation for the harassment they are suffering. “Also because I have appeared on television in Miami, on América TeVé, and because since I got out of my unjust confinement I have continued my activism on social networks and have contributed to helping my brother prisoners.”
In this regard, he mentions Luis Mario Niedas, sentenced to three years in prison for continued contempt, who is serving his sentence in Nieves-Morejón prison. “We are not allowed to approach the family of Luis Mario Niedas,” says Fábregas. “They want us to stop supporting him and they are trying to isolate him and make him feel lonely and forgotten.”
Neither in prison nor outside it, has Alexander Fábregas ever renounced his dissent. “I will continue to be a human rights defender in Cuba and, especially, here in Sancti Spíritus,” Fábregas said in an interview with 14ymedio after being released, although he took into account that “I have to be cautious, because I already have a criminal record and for sure they will want to continue summoning me to the police and harassing me.”
This same Thursday, the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office reported four other final sentences, against 33 participants of July 11, in this case in Havana and Mayabeque. The defendants were convicted, “fundamentally,” according to a note in Granma, for crimes of sedition, sabotage and public disorder.
A total of 30 young people received prison sentences; 10 of the sentences are between 10 and 18 years, and 20 sentences are between 5 and 9 years, says the official report, without further details. It adds that two others were sentenced to “correctional work without internment” and a third to “limitation of freedom.”
Four days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office estimated the number of people convicted after the 11J demonstrations at 381. In an official notice, the Prosecutor’s Office indicated that 76 sentences are no longer subject to appeal and have resulted in sentences of deprivation of liberty for 297 people, of whom 36 committed a crime of sedition, according to Cuban judges. All those convicted of these acts received between 5 and 25 years in prison.
The NGO Prisoner Defenders (PD) then attacked the data of the Prosecutor’s Office, which they described as “biased” and “fake news.” “It’s suspicious that the Prosecutor’s Office in charge of prosecuting the 11J protesters doesn’t talk about those who have been processed and limits its report, as they explicitly say, to 76 sentences that have become final,” Javier Larrondo, President of PD, told this newspaper on Monday. He denounces the fact that they have stopped reporting about the “hundreds of defendants and even hundreds of those sentenced, who are already languishing in prison.”
The objective, according to Larrondo, is to “deceive the press and make it communicate that there are only 381 people sanctioned in Cuba.” And he affirms, “There are more than 1,000 defendants, 726 sentenced.” He says that the NGO has all the documentation.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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The Blackout is the Essence of the Cuban Communist Revolution

The problems in the electricity supply continue to worsen. (Yoani Sanchéz)
14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 17 June 2022 — The social pressure cooker is about to explode. This kind of thing has not been seen in Cuba since the time of the maleconazo. Unexpectedly, Díaz Canel appeared along with other senior officials of the regime and directors of the sector, simultaneously on Cubavisión, Cubavisión Internacional and Caribe, as well as the radio stations Radio Rebelde and Radio Habana Cuba, to publicly recognize that the blackouts will continue, that they have no solution at least for the time being, and that the national energy situation will not change. There’s a. extensive report in today’s edition of Granma to justify the unjustifiable.
Really, can you imagine Macron, Sánchez, López Obrador, I don’t know, even Biden, in a similar situation? Impossible. In all those countries of the world, the electricity supply, although more expensive due to the war in Ukraine, doesn’t stop. There are no blackouts, and the people and industry live normally.
The blackout is the essence of the Cuban revolution. And it isn’t a  recent phenomenon. Already in the 1960s, many Cubans went to bed without knowing the end of the television series of that time, because the electricity was cut off, unexpectedly. Afterwards, the blackouts became daily existence during the Special Period, and now they have returned again, creating a growing discomfort in the population, which is no longer willing to accept silly explanations from their leaders.
Díaz-Canel, for whom the communist state press spares no flattery and usually presents him as the fighter he isn’t, continues to insist that the problems of the electrical system come from the American blockade [i.e. embargo], or from flaws in the work, but he never recognizes his direct responsibility in the facts, In his analysis of the problems.
And so, boring everyone, Díaz-Canel unloads a whole theory about “peaks and valleys” that shouldn’t occur in supply, and consumption during the hours of the day, which explains, according to him, what is happening. What happens is the same thing that happens in other countries, such as Spain, for example, where the intense heat of summer forces air conditioners to be turned on, but electricity continues to work. No one there thinks of unexpected blackouts.
Now Díaz-Canel wants consumers to use electricity at other times, outside the “peaks,” to mitigate demand. According to him, thermoelectric plants have the capacity to generate what the country needs when there are no peaks, and they do so with national fuel, a product that is also available to work for stability. The solution seems clear.
The problem is that the thermoelectric units of the Felton and Guiteras plants don’t function continuously because they’re obsolete and require investments and maintenance that weren’t carried out at the time, and now they fail continuously and unexpectedly. In the absence of such a supply, the “peak” reappears at any time of day and after a blackout because there is no other source of electricity. No one in 62 years has really thought about how to improve the energy supply in Cuba, by resorting to renewables, for example.
And at this point, Díaz-Canel’s explanations went in other directions, such as the signing of agreements to establish three new power plants and the possible future growth with a fourth plant. However, this isn’t an investment that can be made in the short term, and solutions such as mobile power plants won’t solve the problem either.
He even referred to the boiler deposits that are created by the national fuel, which, if not taken care of, could cause the loss of generation capacity. Even distributed electricity generators that consume large amounts of diesel aren’t the solution to the problems of crude oil supply.
Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, what can be done? You can’t stand idly by.
The proposed solutions are also enough to keep you up at night.
It is intended to use tourism revenues to finance investments. But, of course, the tourists who arrive are still few, and the income is small, so this route is impractical. Before [the solution was to] build hotel rooms, it seems. The same happens with the revenue in MLC [freely convertible currency] stores, which, despite the commercial margins of 200% and 300%, is barely enough to replace products. Hence, the shortages that we see in these stores. The money raised from tourism and MLC shops has barely helped to buy fuel and allocate resources to maintenance and repairs. The beans have been counted.
The other solution is to fix first what gives more generation capacity to the electrical system, which has led to the prioritizing of the Felton and the Guiteras, with all the difficulties derived from the obsolescence of these plants.
And then Díaz-Canel proposed energy savings, transferring the problem to individual and collective responsibility. It’s the same populist argument as always, as if three million of the four million homes were to turn off a 20W bulb that may be unnecessarily lit, that would instantly represent a power of 60 MW, the same as a generation block of Renté or one of October 10. It’s incredible that such efforts are requested from the victims of the blackouts.
After Díaz-Canel, Liván Arronte, Minister of Energy and Mines, spoke. He referred to what he called “the cyclical situations that have occurred in the electrical system, causing the worsening of the situation in recent days.”
And he returned again to the incidents of Unit 2 of Felton, which is nothing more than an accumulation of nonsense derived, as already mentioned, from the lack of investment and attention in recent years. He likewise referred to the Guiteras thermoelectric plant, which is equally affected by the same maintenance problems.
The minister went so far as to say that the 200 MW of reserve of the electricity system, often due to instability and problems, are not reached, which at any time causes blackouts. But he said nothing about what to do to overcome these problems.
What Arronte did talk about is the burning of national crude oil in thermoelectric plants, which although it gives sovereignty from the energy point of view because it’s our fuel, its high sulfur content causes the dreaded fouling and corrosion in the boilers, which has to be compensated for with systematic maintenance, like cleaning and replacement of parts and aggregates.
That is, using national crude means that we have to do more maintenance, but it’s the available fuel, and in the face of the high prices of the international market, it’s the country’s solution to be able to guarantee electricity generation. In other words, there will be more blackouts.
Arronte did not miss an opportunity to remember that the electrical problem has a lot to do with the blockade, not only for the acquisition of fuels, but also for the resources needed to repair the units, requiring the purchase of parts through second countries.
Omar Ramírez Mendoza, the Deputy Director of the Electrical Union, participated after Arronte and advanced much more technical issues that were interrupted by Díaz Canel.
Ramírez was very clear. Maintenance is done, but not always with the depth it takes because there is no time available to meet demand and avoid blackouts. The other reason is that the teams that need the resources to intervene don’t have them available, so using them runs the risk of increasing the damage, or resulting in a greater need for intervention than expected.
At this point, Díaz-Canel recognized that there is a state of discomfort in the population that he described as “logical, and that had two dimensions: one on a personal and collective level in the population, who suffer directly from blackouts, and the other is that the economy is affected, which has to do with guaranteeing services and goods to people.”
And, in this regard, he pointed out that “states of opinion express discomfort, but also understanding, so it is necessary to highlight the way in which the people, living in a rigorous, demanding situation of limitations, have been able to understand for the most part that this is not the fault of a government that doesn’t occupy itself or a weakness in the work of the institutions, but has to do with the aspects addressed.” In this regard, Díaz-Canel is wrong, because most Cubans know who is responsibile for the blackouts. What they don’t understand is that they continue to occur, despite the fact that, as Díaz-Canel says, “a lot of work is being done to solve the problem.”
After briefly referring to the difference between real power and the available power of the plants, he spoke of an accident that occurred at the Máximo Gómez plant in Mariel, which caused Unit 6 to now need (and this is being addressed) the import of components needed to bring it to 100 MW, while Unit 7, which produces 90 MW, was completely lost.
Then came explanations for accidents and similar events at the CTE Otto Parellada, Tallapiedra, and Ernesto Guevara power plants in Mayabeque, the CTE Antonio Guiteras and the Felton in Holguín, and the Renté in Santiago de Cuba. Speaking of the plants in service and those that are paralyzed, and the planned entry into operation of the plants, Díaz-Canel threw out even more confusion and, of course, if he wanted to give peace of mind to the people who watched the program, forget about it. The live connection during the program with the authorities of different thermoelectric plants in the country did very little to give that peace of mind to the people. There was only some positive news about the Nuevitas thermoelectric power plant that apparently is overcoming its problems.
At this point, Mario Pedroso, Director General of the Company of Generators and Electrical Services, referred to the actions that are being taken with the diesel groups to make up the deficit of thermoelectrical generation with distributed generation.
Geysel is an electric generator maintenance and operation company that has representation in all the provinces of the country, and whose fundamental task is aimed at working on the peaks, to evacuate contingency in the system or to guarantee amendment during a natural disaster. To do this, they have 943 generator sets of different technologies and an installed power of 1,334 MW. In these cases, breakdowns due to lack of maintenance accumulate and increase their frequency due to common use.
Of the 943 electric generators, there are only 579 MW available and 348 MW of the 1,334 potential ones. The availability of diesel will be compromised in the coming months if the forecasts of the world economy are met, and that may be even worse for this energy option. They recognize it themselves. There are difficulties with the supply of diesel fuel, and in many cases the fuel needed for power generation hasn’t been delivered in a timely manner, which has strained the country’s fuel distribution system. In other words, the possibility of a quiet summer is increasingly in the air.
Later, Pedro Sánchez Torres, Director of the Oil-Fuel Electric Generator Maintenance Company, announced that they have some 950 MW installed as part of Cuba’s base generation in 489 machines in 33 power plants, located throughout the country.
In this case, he explained that the company is going through a complex situation today with respect to spare parts that in recent years they haven’t been able to acquire, not only because of the financing, but also because of the complexities in access to the factory where they can be supplied, since they have been forced to use third-party suppliers. This has meant 506 MW in breakdowns, more than 200 MW that they haven’t been able to recover and 163 MW in maintenance that they haven’t been able to recover. Nor should there be favorable expectations.
In the end, Ramiro Valdéz, who had been listening to the entire program in silence, but with obvious blushing, said something like “we need to work in function of living from the electric-energy point of view in a balance with the budget of each household” and closed. The historic generation has less and less confidence in the heirs, and they realize that it’s over.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo ‘Osorbo’ Sentenced to Five and Nine Years in Prison

Otero Alcántara (back) and Maykel Castillo (front) in Havana, when they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)
14ymedio, Havana, 24 June 2022 — There is now a sentence in the trial against the artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, held on May 30 and 31 in Havana. In a statement made public this Friday by the Attorney General’s Office, the People’s Municipal Court of Central Havana reported that the sentence for Alcántara is five years in prison for the crimes of outrage against the symbols of the country, contempt and public disorder, and for Osorbo, nine years for contempt, attack, public disorder and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs.
From these, time they have already spent in prison, 11 months in the case of Alcántara and 13 in the case of Osorbo, is discounted.
Although the judges lowered the requests of the Prosecutor’s Office – which was seven years for Alcántara and ten for Osorbo – they reached the “conviction about the facts proven in the oral hearing and their social harmfulness,” says the text, “determined the responsibility of those prosecuted, as well as the position assumed and the acts carried out by each one.”
Thus, for Alcántara, without mentioning the, events they refer to the Drapeau artistic performance, say that he had “the express intention, sustained over time, of offending the national flag, by publishing photos on social networks where it is used in demeaning acts, accompanied by notoriously offensive and disrespectful expressions, belittling the feelings of nationality and pride that the Cuban people profess towards our national flag.”
As for Osorbo, they argue that he used false images “digitally manipulated, which he made public on social networks; and for the same purpose he carried out direct interventions from his personal profile to dishonor the function that law enforcement officers perform in society,” without major details, “with the manifest purpose of outraging, affecting the honor and dignity of the country’s highest authorities.”
In the same trial, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel were sentenced for the crime of attack. The first, to five years in prison, and the second, to 3 years of “correctional work without internment.”
The sentence, to which 14ymedio has had access, is signed by judges Helen Hernández Pozo, Martha Palomino Barany and Yoany Martínez Pérez, and dismissed the defense’s petitions. Alcántara’s lawyer asked either for his acquittal, or to accept a crime of contempt with mitigation, which did not carry a prison sentence, and Osorbo’s lawyer asked to accept a crime of resistance and one year of internment.
The “proven facts” include posts on Facebook by Alcántara in July, August and September 2019, as well as a post by Osorbo in August 2020. It should be remembered that the former, leader of the San Isidro Movement, has been in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, Artemisa, since July 2021, when he was arrested before being able to join the protests of the 11th of that month.
Osorbo, for his part, has been in the Kilo Cinco y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, since May 2021. The events for which he had been told he was detained occurred on the previous April 4, at a demonstration in the Damas street, in front of the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, when the police tried to arbitrarily arrest him and he refused to get on the patrol car. In this, he was helped by those also prosecuted, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel.
In the ruling made known this Friday, it is stated that on the afternoon of that April 4, “in the vicinity of Cuba street on the corner of Acosta”, in Old Havana, Maykel Castillo, Félix Roque and Juslid Justiz were present, and that Justiz “lacked the sanitary mask” to protect against covid-19.
Two agents who were in a vehicle of the National Revolutionary Police, continues the legal text, called the attention of the woman, who at the time was defended by Osorbo. “The co-defendant Castillo Pérez told the officer that no one would put on a mask, that he was Osorbo, and he began to shout in a disturbed manner in the place,” says the sentence, which indicates that it was Osorbo who attacked the police vehicle, before the officers tried to stop him, to no avail.
After that, the accused, always according to the sentence, arrive at Damas 955. There, the document continues, “both of those prosecuted, with the evident purpose of altering public order and citizen tranquility, began to play music at full volume on the outskirts of Otero Alcántara’s home, which caused an crowd of people who occupied the entire public thoroughfare, while the defendants chanted ‘when I say Díaz-Canel you say singao [motherfucker], Díaz-Canel singao, Díaz-Canel singao‘, with the marked intention of insulting the deputy of the National Assembly of People’s Power and President of the Republic Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.”
The loud chorus is part of the anti-establishment rap Diazka. The artists themselves reported, and so it appeared in videos that they spread on social networks, that on April 4 they sang the song turned into an anthem Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) in the street.
The artist Julio Llópiz-Casal, who together with Lázaro Saavedra witnessed the defense of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and had said that the questions in his statement that May 30 focused on emphasizing “what was based on to vouch for the artistic career” of the activist, has seen with astonishment how his statement in the sentence is portrayed.
“Friends of the accused,” says the text, “tried to justify the actions of the defendant, an aspect we did not give credibility to, as they omit the that the national symbol, in this case the Cuban flag, generates in the people a feeling of patriotism, which unites belonging to the same land, having the same origin, and the same history, which becomes tangible when we respect the flag, since it is a sign of what distinguishes, identifies and unifies the Cuban people.”
In this regard, Llópiz-Casal bluntly declared to 14ymedio: “Using as an argument the bond of friendship that unites me with Luis Manuel Otero as a defense witness to dismiss the elements that I gave for the defense cause is an act of baseness, bungling and manipulation.”
The Madrid-based NGO Prisoners Defenders has also spoken out against the sentence , calling the court decision a “crime against human beings and art.”
The trial of Alcántara and Osorbo, both declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, has been denounced by international organizations such as the UN. The days of the oral hearing were characterized by the harassment and repression of activists and journalists within the Island.
Those days, Alcántara was punished; without permission to make calls he released an audio that he had recorded on May 17, in which he spoke of the repression suffered in recent years, the offer of release in exchange for exile that was made to him from the regime, and rejected, and of the fighting spirit that he wishes to transmit to his son and to the entire Cuban people.
This same Wednesday, Alcántara’s official account reported: “Luis has just called. They have apparently removed his punishment. He is not in a very good mood, he continues to demand his freedom without conditions. About @MaykelCastill19 [Osorbo] he comments that in the trial he saw him with a foot in bad condition due to a pimple. We don’t know if it has been taken care of.”
Both have ten working days to appeal the sentence.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Thousands of Cubans Sing Along with Pablo Milanes During His Concert in Havana

Pablo Milanés’ performance was marked by the emotion of an audience that had not heard him live for several years. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 21 June 2022 — Under a strong police operation, long lines and a thorough review of each person’s belongings before entering the premises, thus began the concert of the Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanés on Tuesday at the Coliseum of the Sports City of Havana. The performance was also marked by the emotion of an audience that had not listened live for several years to the author of songs like Yolanda.
From the stage, flanked by two large screens with his face, Milanés sang the song Marginal with which he began a concert that, from its opening minutes, kept the singer-songwriter in tune with the thousands of people gathered at the venue. Años, El pecado original, La soledad, Nostalgias y Días de gloria, were also among the most acclaimed songs during the night.
One of the most emotional reactions of the public occurred when the first chords of Éxodo [Exodus] sounded, which was repeated in chorus by the audience. “Where are the friends I had yesterday? / What happened to them? / What happened? / Where did they go? / How sad I am” was heard from thousands of voices in a country where, in recent months, one of the largest mass exoduses in more than half a century has occurred.
“I want to see them to know that I am human, that I live and feel for my brothers and they for me,” the audience completed the song. For most of the concert the also held their cell phones high while recording Milanés. Another moment of ecstasy occurred when the singer-songwriter sang “There is a people that waits silently / There is a body that I want to undress” from his song Hay [There is], which generated wide shouts of joy from the stands.
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Outside the sports center, converted into a concert hall for the occasion, a large uniformed operation and several well-known State Security agents who frequently harass activists and independent journalists could be seen from the early hours of the afternoon. Among them is an officer who identifies himself as Jordan and who is often part of the police cordons to prevent reporters and opponents from leaving their homes.
“This is so full of segurosos (State security agents) that it seems like it’s Barack Obama who’s coming,” joked a young man who decided to walk to the Coliseum in a city where transport difficulties were exacerbated this Tuesday by the thousands of people who sought to approach to the Ciudad Deportiva, a large complex of facilities where the legendary British rock band The Rolling Stones performed in 2016.
For most of the concert the audience held their cellphones high, recording Pablo Milanés. (14ymedio)
Shortly before the start of the performance, a note from the Ministry of Culture posted on Facebook was quick to assure that “everything continues to run normally at the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum… There is no threat of explosives or incidents. The public enters from 6 pm and the invited press prepares to enter the box. Many spectators have arrived early to the gigantic indoor venue.”
However, several foreign press agencies based on the island reported that they were prevented from accessing the facility. “At the entrance, the security guards told us that we couldn’t film here and that they invited us to leave the place,” a Cuban-accredited reporter who preferred to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals explained to 14ymedio . “They didn’t give us any more explanations, they just told us that we had to withdraw.”
It was also not easy for concertgoers to post photos and videos from the Coliseum because the internet connection remained unstable and at times it was impossible to access the web from the venue. “It could be the number of people gathered that makes the signal drop, but it could also be that they don’t want us to broadcast live,” suggested Fabián, a 23-year-old who attended with a dozen friends.

“We left Central Havana at four in the afternoon and we walked here because we couldn’t even dream of catching a bus,” the young man tells this newspaper. “Along the way there were a lot of people trying to hail a taxi or get on anything with wheels to get here.” The interest in listening to Milanés comes not only from the years that the singer-songwriter had not performed in his native country. “It’s just that Pablito is Pablito,” Fabián insists.
Possessor of a wide repertoire and with a voice that stands out in the broad Cuban musical spectrum, the troubadour has also built a solid reputation for his criticism of the Cuban revolutionary process that he once enthusiastically supported. That position has cost him exclusions, institutional reproaches and a limited diffusion on the Island of his presentations abroad. His Días de luz [Days of Light] tour, which has taken him to stages in Europe and the United States, has barely been commented on in the official Cuban media.
“He sounds wonderful, he has a clear, crisp voice that doesn’t sound old at all. The instruments that accompany him are only two, a pianist and a woman on the cello, but it looks like a symphony,” admired a singer who managed to get a seat near the stage although too close, for her liking, to the speakers. “The best positions are reserved, but I’m not complaining, the important thing is to have been able to be here.”
“People are hypnotized and you can see who are those in the audience who came to control and not enjoy the concert, because they don’t sing,” said Massiel, a Havana native who attended with part of her family. “It was worth the number of hours we had to spend to get here and then stand in line to get in. This is pure vitamin for the soul.”
We must also reference the incident that fueled official anxiety, right in the Ciudad Deportiva during a concert by Carlos Varela on May 29th. At that concert the audience chanted the word “freedom” at various times. At the end of that performance, the singer-songwriter shouted “Viva Cuba libre” and thanked the organizers – with Eme Alfonso at the head – of the event, whom he praised for “having the ovaries” to invite him to sing in Cuba.
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Milanés, who has lived in Spain for some time, spoke out with indignation after the repression of the demonstrations on July 11 last year. “I believe in young people, who with the help of all Cubans, must be and will be the engine of change.” The singer-songwriter described as “irresponsible and absurd” the use of repression by the Cuban government against the people, “who have sacrificed themselves and given everything for decades to support a regime, and in the end what it does is imprison them.”
After saying goodbye to the public this Tuesday night, Pablo Milanés returned to the stage acclaimed by the applause and the cries that asked for the concert to continue. “Love me as I am, take me without fear / Touch me with love, I’m going to lose my cool” sang the troubadour before an audience that was reluctant to end a night of reunion and good music.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Bodies of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira returned to families

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, AFPThe bodies of UK journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira have been handed over to their families in Brazil, according to local media.They were killed in the Amazon earlier this month while returning from an expedition in the Javari Valley.On Thursday a fourth suspect handed himself into police in Sao Paulo.The men’s families are now planning their funerals, to be held on Friday and Sunday.Brazilian media reports that the ceremony for Bruno Pereira will take place in the city of Recife on Friday. Dom Phillips’s family will hold a cremation near Rio de Janeiro on Sunday – exactly four weeks since the pair were last seen alive.Alessandra Sampaio, Mr Phillips’s widow, has released a photograph of her holding his wedding ring, which police reportedly found next to his body.The Javari Valley is an expansive and remote region in Brazil’s far west, and is home to thousands of indigenous people from more than 20 groups.Mr Pereira had been introducing the journalist to people he could interview for a book about the Amazon, when their boat failed to arrive near the border with Peru.Image source, Alessandra SampaioThe fourth man arrested in connection with the killings, Gabriel Dantas, has given details on how the men were killed and buried.He told officers he drove the boat that chased the two men, according to excerpts of his statement published by local media. But he claims he was not told any details about the trip or its purpose.Dantas says he was given orders by another suspect – Amarildo da Costa Oliveira – who then allegedly shot Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira with a 16-gauge rifle inside their boat.Dantas told officers he helped transport their bodies to be buried, with the help of other men.Oliveira was the first man to be arrested following their disappearance. Police said he told them how both men were killed before leading officers to the location where their bodies were buried.His brother, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, has also been arrested, but denies any involvement. Another suspect, Jeferson da Silva Lima, was arrested last week.As well as the four men in custody, five more have been identified by police for allegedly helping to hide the men’s bodies.Image source, Getty ImagesMr Phillips had been living in Brazil for more than a decade and was a long-time contributor to the Guardian newspaper and was writing a book on the Amazon.Mr Pereira who was on leave from his post with the government’s indigenous affairs agency Funai, was an expert on isolated tribes in the Amazon.Mr Pereira had received death threats prior to taking the trip, indigenous rights groups said.’Dom was one of the best – quiet but curious’Inside the Amazon’s lawless Javari ValleyThe area in which they were travelling has become known for illegal fishing, mining, logging and drug-trafficking activities.It is also known for violent conflicts between these various criminal groups, government agents and indigenous people. It was these conflicts that Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were documenting.More on this storyAmazon suspect leads police to human remainsSuspect admits burying pair missing in Amazon – policePair missing in the Amazon: ‘A tragedy foretold’Police find belongings of missing pair in Brazil

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Cuban Government’s Triumphant Data on Tourism Covers Up a Dire Reality

Compared to 2021, the number of travelers from the ’usual’ countries have grown, but again, if compared to 2019, it is understood that foreign exchange will continue to be scarce. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Havana, 20 June 2022 — As of the month of May, the Cuban government has obtained just over 261 million dollars from tourism, of the 1,159 million that it aspires to collect in this sector throughout the year, according to the triumphant estimate of disastrous data that it offered last Friday.
At the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Economy and Planning stated that, if the forecasts were met and 2.5 million foreign travelers arrived on the island, some 1,159 million dollars would be contributed to the Cuban economy. The figure represents about 463.60 dollars per traveler, quite far from the average declared in 2019, when spending per tourist stood at 700 dollars.
On Friday, the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei) released the tourism data for June, with the January-May range included. This data reports that as of that date more than half a million travelers had arrived on the Island. If they had spent the average of what the Government attributes to them, not even a quarter of the foreign exchange expected by the authorities would have been collected.
Onei’s message highlighted the strong rise in tourism compared to the same period of the previous year. “564,847 international visitors have been received as of the month of May, which represents 640.3%, that is, 476,637 visitors, more than in the same period of the previous year,” but once again, the Government is cheating by reporting data that could only be spectacular compared to the dates of the pandemic, when the borders were closed.
If compared to the year 2019, the bad data is visible. In that year, the last fully normal year in terms of the movement of people, 2,286,882 people traveled to the Island as of May. The drop is 75%. As for 2018, in the same period 2,159,967 arrived, which gives a drop of 73%.
“Recent tourism data in Cuba confirms today that the route taken by the authorities marks an upward march towards recovery plans for the recreation sector,” Prensa Latina published on Friday, which, in a display of optimism, estimated the figure is “one evidence of the recovery path of this economic sector.”
The Cuban government agency did not stop there and considered that the forecasts of reaching 2.5 million foreign tourists “seems to be going at a good pace.” However, there are approximately 2 million visitors left to reach the planned goal and the margin is slim. Cuba’s high season dow not begin until October and, especially November, while the months between April and September usually have the worst data.
Last May, during the celebration of FitCuba 2022, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero admitted that the recovery of the tourism sector should be postponed for a year, which contradicted the overly optimistic comments made a few days earlier by the minister of the branch, Juan Carlos García Granda.
The data is clear: in addition to the debacle that is observed when compared with dates under the same conditions, it is clearly noticeable how Russia, one of the countries that acted as a locomotive for Cuban tourism, due to how much tourism from that country grew, is erased from the map.
The sanctions that the US and Europe imposed on Moscow after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, on February 23, have blocked flights to the island from Russia, which had sent 75,977 travelers between January and June 2019, before collapsing to 37,333 for the first five months of 2022. But more serious than the total is the evolution, since in January 19,434 Russians arrived in Cuba and in February 16,437. But the number for March was 807, for April 321 and for May 334, which means the virtual disappearance of the only growing tourism in recent years.
The numbers of other travelers from frequent countries are growing compared to 2021, but again, if compared to 2019, it is understood that foreign exchange will continue to be scarce. Canada, the largest source of tourists to Cuba, sent 182,733 as of the end of May, while in the same period of 2019 the number was 682,458. Spain sent 20,963, compared to 50,401 three years ago, for just a couple comparisons.
In the words of the Cuban economist based in Spain, Elías Amor: “There is no gradual recovery of tourism, and the worst thing is that the private sector that depends on this activity cannot take it anymore.”
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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US immigration: 'They'd rather die than return to Nicaragua'

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesNoé was somewhere on the outskirts of the gritty southern Mexican city of Tapachula when he realised how difficult his journey to a new life in the US would be.Just days after crossing the border from Guatemala, the meagre supplies in Noé’s small rucksack had dwindled, and he had gone with barely any food for several days as he bussed and trudged across the humid, forested landscape of Mexico’s Chiapas state, where temperatures rose to a sweltering 34 C during the day.Already reeling from exhaustion and an empty stomach, Noé then faced another hazard: corrupt and abusive members of Mexico’s security forces, who he said repeatedly strong-armed migrants for “mordidas” – a Mexican term for “little bites”, or bribes – at roadblocks.”Mexico was very hard,” he said. “The police were bad. They looked for people to take their things and chased us. They charged us bribes when we were already all hungry and tired”.This, despite having paid a group of smugglers several thousand dollars for the 2,000-mile (3,332km) trip from his home on the banks of the San Juan River in southern Nicaragua through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico – a small fortune for a man from a country where the average income per person stands at around $1,850 (£1,533) per year.Several weeks after his journey began, Noé – a stocky and muscular figure whose sun-beaten face and reserved demeanour makes him seem older than his 38 years – was crossing the murky green waters of the Rio Grande into Texas aboard a small rubber raft alongside migrants from as far afield as Ecuador and Colombia, including young children and their mothers.”It was very scary,” he said. “I can swim, but the river is stronger than it looks. And it was dark.”Safely on the US side, Noé voluntarily surrendered to Border Patrol agents. Detention came as a relief. After a few weeks, he was released into the country to wait for a court date to decide his future in the US.”Here one feels protected. They [US authorities] even fed us well,” he told the BBC at a migrant shelter in Texas. “It was hard, but I couldn’t have stayed in Nicaragua”.Noé is not alone in feeling this way. Privation and poverty have been known to many Nicaraguans like Noé for a long time. But a recent crackdown on civil society, a faltering economy and an atmosphere of terror instituted by the country’s long-serving president, Daniel Ortega, is now driving many to leave. US Border Patrol figures highlight the growing flood: a record number of nearly 19,000 were taken into custody in May, up from 12,600 in April and 16,000 in March. All told, a record high number of about 111,000 Nicaraguans have been detained entering the US so far in the 2022 fiscal year, compared with 50,722 in all of 2021 and just 3,164 in 2020.Soon after being released from custody, Noé joined dozens of other migrants in temporary housing at a non-profit humanitarian shelter in Laredo, nestled in a quiet residential neighbourhood just 1.5 miles (2.4km) from the Mexican border.On a sweltering hot Monday morning in late May, he was among dozens of people – mostly men in their 20s and 30s – milling around a courtyard. Some were stretching in the Texas sun, while others used mobile phones to call friends and family back home or in the US.While a smattering of Colombians and Venezuelans were there, the vast majority were Nicaraguan.A climate of fearImage source, Getty ImagesThe stories shared by Nicaraguans at the shelter have two common themes: a struggling economy and fear of the government of Daniel Ortega, the leader of Nicaragua’s 1979 Sandinista revolution who earlier this year was sworn into a fourth consecutive term as President.Affectionately known as Comandante Daniel to his supporters, Mr Ortega has long been accused of abandoning the revolution’s ideals by turning into a dictator, harshly suppressing any opposition. These crackdowns have become more pronounced since Mr Ortega was returned to office in November, in an election that saw opposition candidates arrested or exiled alongside prominent regime critics, journalists, business leaders, human rights advocates and students. Since then, the clampdowns have continued and escalated, with the UN’s human rights chief warning that new criminal legislations are being used to persecute perceived opponents of the Ortega government. In one week in early June alone, almost 200 civil society and non-governmental organisations were shut down in what the Paris-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said was an attempt to eliminate “all social and political vision that differs from that established by the regime”. The harsh measures imposed by the Ortega regime prompted the US government to announce that Nicaragua would not be invited to the recent Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. A senior administration official cited a “lack of democratic space” as the reason.The Nicaraguan American Human Rights Alliance, which helps citizens who have fled the country, has been inundated with daily inquiries from citizens who’ve drawn the ire of Mr Ortega’s government, according to its president, Anita Wells.Image source, Getty ImagesAny opposition – real or imagined – is considered a “sin” by the authorities, she said, often with disastrous economic consequences for working class Nicaraguans.”They don’t let you work if you’re part of the opposition,” explained Ms Wells, herself part of an earlier wave of Nicaraguan refugees from the 1980s. “They won’t renew your business license. Or, if you’re a farmer, they won’t buy your product to be exported. That’s part of the reason Nicaraguans are leaving the country”.The Nicaraguan government did not respond to a BBC request for comment.Ms Well’s comments were echoed by a Nicaraguan academic who asked not to be identified, citing fears of retaliation from the government.”The reality is that ordinary, working-class people have been the most exposed to the full brunt of regime oppression,” he said. “The threshold for being subject to retaliation is extraordinarily low”.The consequences of crossing the government vary widely. In some cases, workers are fired by their employers who deem the risk of having potential dissidents on their payrolls too high. In other cases, government agents harass customers and employees.”Or maybe you’re just picked up by paramilitary forces and threatened with death,” the academic said. “You don’t even need to be personally victimised. It might just be the case that you saw family members subjected to this and you feel it’s not safe to stay”. A dangerous journeyImage source, Getty ImagesFaced with these conditions, an increasing number of Nicaraguan citizens are choosing to leave. Comments on Nicaraguan news outlets – mostly those now operating from outside the country – are peppered with questions from those seeking to go.Some are taking practical steps to prepare. According to Reuters, dozens of would-be migrants in the Nicaraguan town of Esteli have been signing up for swimming classes offered on social media in anticipation of crossing the fast-moving waters of the Rio Grande at the end of a long trek to the United States.But many migrants have little idea of the dangers that they may face.The risks were starkly highlighted on 1 May by the death of Calixto Nelson Rojas, a Nicaraguan radio host, whose death by drowning in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass was caught on video by a Fox News cameraman. About two weeks later, a three-year-old Nicaraguan girl went missing after her 25-year-old mother drowned crossing the river. While the mother’s body was recovered, the little girl has still not been found.Justine Ochoa, a Texas-based Nicaraguan activist, told the BBC that her group is aware of nearly 30 Nicaraguan citizens who have perished since the start of the year.”Smugglers tell them it’s a good time, or that people are crossing over easily. But that’s not the truth,” she said. “We know that a one or two people this year have died in accidents. Two were murdered by criminals on the Mexican side. But they mostly just drown in the river”.Ms Wells said that even those who understand what is at stake are likely to continue to take enormous risks to pursue “the myth of the American dream”. She often advises people still in Nicaragua to not go.”It is a myth, because it’s not easy, even if you do cross the border. People sometimes have the wrong impression, that this is Disneyland,” she said. “I always ask them if it was worth it…they say that if they die, they die, but at least they’d have tried. Imagine the desperation. They’d rather die than return to Nicaragua.”More on this storyMigrant caravan heads to US as key summit beginsNicaragua shuts down non-profits in new crackdownLose your fear, dissident Nicaraguan diplomat says

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Cuban Rapper Denis Solis is Living in Extreme Poverty in Serbia

Solís during his stay in jail in Cuba. (Facebook)
The opposition rapper Denis Solís, a former prisoner of conscience recognized by the United Nations, and subsequently forced into exile, is in a situation of extreme poverty in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he has lived since he left Cuba at the end of 2021. The organization Prisoner Defenders has tweeted an alert about the situation and refers to a telephone to provide help to the activist, a member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI).
The artist “left [Cuba] with a cousin and the cousin’s daughter,” a relative confirmed to 14ymedio at the time of his departure, although little has been known about him since then, except that he has requested political asylum and, therefore, cannot work. The rapper has declared that he is having a hard time in Serbia and that he needs to resort to the help they give him in order to survive and pay the rent. “I have already reached the limit and I have no way to support myself,” he said in a brief message to Martí Noticias.
The arrest of Denis Solís in November 2020 and his subsequent conviction for contempt in a summary trial, opened the spigot of the MSI protests, led by the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Its members then began a hunger strike at its headquarters in Havana, from which they were violently evicted by State Security agents disguised as health workers with the excuse of measures to contain the covid-19 pandemic.
The event triggered a protest by more than 300 artists who gathered before the Ministry of Culture to ask for dialogue with the authorities and gave rise to the 27N group, also the seed of Archipíelago, led by playwright Yunior García Aguilera. Both he, who now resides in Spain, and Otero Alcántara, currently in prison in Cuba, faced reprisals for defying the authorities.
Solís’ release occurred in July 2021, after serving eight months in prison. Shortly afterward, after being harassed by the Cuban authorities, he took a flight to Moscow headed for Serbia, a country that exempts Cubans from visas.
His departure was leaked by anonymous accounts at the service of the regime, which released images in which Solís was seen at the José Martí International Airport in Havana, carrying a suitcase and accompanied by relatives.
Luis Robles, known as the young man with the placard, has also suffered the consequences of defending Solís. On December 4, 2020, he took to the streets to demand, sign in hand, the release of the rapper on the San Rafael Boulevard in Havana.
The gesture has earned him a five-year prison sentence for “responding to a call” from the Cuban influencer “Alexander Otaola to speak out” against the arrest of Solís, “from the police authorities, the leaders of the State and the Government ” and “performing any act aimed at destabilizing internal order, publicly demonstrating in the streets against the Cuban economic and social system,” according to the text of his sentence.
Solís has said he feels a moral debt to Robles, who is currently being mistreated in prison, according to his relatives.
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Seven Minors Convicted for July 11th (11J) Protest in Cuba Will Not Serve Prison Sentences After a ‘Special Analysis’

The moment in which several young people turn over a patrol car on the corner of Toyo, Havana, on July 11, 2021. (Facebook)
14ymedio, Madrid, 21 June 2022 — The more than 30 individuals convicted for their participation in the July 11th (11J) demonstrations on the corner of Toyo in Havana, where an overturned police patrol became a symbol of the protests that day, have had their sentences reduced by the Supreme People’s Court (TSP) of Cuba after the appeal hearing, held in the Municipal Court of Diez de Octubre on May 27.
The sentence, signed this Monday and to which 14ymedio has had access, confirms what the Justice 11J platform advanced on the same day of the appeal trial , that “changes of measure” were expected for the youngest.
Thus, the sentence imposed on Rowland Jesús Castillo Castro, 17 years old at the time of his arrest and sentenced to 18 years in prison, becomes 5 years of “deprivation of liberty subsidized by the same term of correctional work with internmen,t” the same sentece imposed on Kevin Damián Frómeta Castro (19 years old and previously sentenced to 16 years in prison) and Kendry Miranda Cárdenas (age 17 and previously sentenced to 19 years).
Another young person, Lauren Martínez Ibáñez, 18, was also given the same reduction “for reasons of justice and equity,” despite not having filed an appeal. Justice 11J had warned that the boy’s family had no resources to file appeals.
“The sanctions of deprivation of liberty and that of correctional work with internment will be fulfilled by those sanctioned in the penitentiary establishment designated by the Ministry of the Interior,” the legal document details.
For their part, Brandon David Becerra Curbelo, 17 years old at the time of the events and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Rafael Jesús Núñez Echenique (sentenced to 12 years) and Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada (17 years old and sentenced to 10 years) have had their sentences changed to 5 years of correctional work without internment.
Brayan Piloto Pupo (16 years old and previously sentenced to 10 years) and Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo (17 and sentenced to 14 years) obtained a change to 5 years of “limitation of freedom.”
The imprisonment of minors after the peaceful demonstrations of 11J has been denounced by organizations such as Prisoners Defenders and international institutions such as Unicef, but until now the Cuban courts had ignored it. Last May, the UN Committee against Torture described as “alarming” the “high number of arrests” in Cuba after the protests and referred to the imprisoned youth.
Although President Miguel Díaz-Canel had assured that there were no minors incarcerated in Cuban prisons and that the high convictions of 16- and 17-year-olds had been carried out with “high judicial rationality,” in Monday’s ruling, recorded by Judges Plácido Batista Veranes, Alina de Fátima Santana Echerri, Paula Joaquina Rodríguez Sánchez, Marta Elena de Armas Castillo and Lázaro Máximo León Pelegrín, it reads that the defendants “whose ages at the time of committing the acts ranged between 16 and 19 years of age deserve special analysis.”
And they justify: “Cuba has always had attention to the comprehensive development of youth among its priorities. It is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which has forced it to draw up strategies that allow it to abide by its postulates. They have adopted various legal measures aimed at strengthening the rights and guarantees of committers of crimes in this age range, among which are judicial decisions, which must be a reflection of the state’s will.
The text also argues in favor of reducing the sentences of the only two women prosecuted for the events, Yunaiky de la Caridad Linares Rodríguez, 24 years old, previously sentenced to 14 in prison, and Daisy Rodríguez Alfonso, 38 sentenced to 16 in prison.
Both will serve an 8-year sentence for having “a less relevant participation in the crime” and being deserving of mitigating circumstances. The first, “of normal civic performance, known in her community for being linked to the work of social organizations that, before the appeal judges, asked for an opportunity, which speaks in favor of her chances of amendment,” the sentence states. “The second, ill with HIV-AIDS and cancerous conditions.”
Despite the reductions in sentences, which are given after dozens of complaints in international instances, the TSP categorically refused to disregard the crime of sedition for which they were all convicted (two of them, Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada and Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo, were also accused of theft), as requested by the defense of the majority of those who appealed.
“The defendants, indistinctly, state that there was no disturbance of the constitutional order, that their motivations were not of that type, that they joined the crowd of people without knowing the real purposes they were pursuing, that there was no preconceived agreement to act in this way, and they deny the use of violence against the authority and the representatives of the State institutions,” states the sentence, which asserts that the regulation of the crime of sedition “is in correspondence with the declaration that appears in Article 4, third paragraph of the Constitution of the Republic,” that is to say: that the socialist system is irrevocable.
This is how the sentences of those accused of the acts at the Toyo corner remain after the appeal hearing:

Juan Emilio Pérez Estrada, 17 years in prison (previously sentenced to 21 years)
Alexis Borges Wilson, 17 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
Jorge Vallejo Venega, 15 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
Duannis Dabel León Taboada, 14 years old (sentenced to 19 years)
Dayan Gustavo Flores Brito, 14 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
Asley Nelson Cabrera Puentes, 14 years old (sentenced to 25 years)
Ronald García Sánchez, 14 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
Donger Soroa González, 14 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
Yoanky Báez Albornoz, 14 years old (sentenced to 23 years)
Adael Jesús Leyva Díaz, 13 years old (sentenced to 19 years)
Henry Fernández Pantera, 13 years old (sentenced to 21 years)
Francisco Eduardo Soler Castaneda, 13 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
Oriol Hernández Gálvez, 13 years old (sentenced to 15 years)
Óscar Bravo Cruzata, 13 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
Ricardo Duque Solís, 12 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
Luis Armando Cruz Aguilera, 10 years (sentenced to 15 years)
Yussuan Villalba Sierra, 10 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
Adrián Oljales Mora, 10 years old (sentenced to 14 years)
Edel Cabrera González, 10 years (sentenced to 15 years)
Alexander Ayllón Carvajal, 8 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
Yunaiky de la Caridad Linares Rodríguez, 8 years old (sentenced to 14 years)
Daisy Rodríguez Alfonso, 8 years old (sentenced to 16 years)
Rowland Jesús Castillo Castro, 5 years of correctional labor with internment (sentenced to 18 years)
Kevin Damián Frómeta Castro, 5 years of correctional work with internment (sentenced to 16 years)
Lauren Martínez Ibáñez, 5 years of correctional work with internment
Kendry Miranda Cárdenas, 5 years of correctional labor with internment (sentenced to 19 years)
Brandon David Becerra Curbelo, 5 years of correctional labor without internment (sentenced to 13 years)
Rafael Jesús Núñez Echenique, 5 years of correctional work without internment (sentenced to 12 years)
Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo, 5 years of correctional work without internment (sentenced to 14 years)
Brayan Piloto Pupo, 5 years of limited freedom (sentenced to 10 years)
Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada, 5 years limitation of freedom (sentenced to 10 years)

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Cuban Athletics Champion Juan Miguel Echevarria Leaves the National Team

Juan Miguel Echevarría during the athletics men’s long jump qualifying rounds at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (EFE /Juan Ignacio Roncoroni)
EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 18 June 2022 — The Cuban pole vault champions, Yarisley Silva, and long jump champions, Juan Miguel Echevarría, left the national teams of their respective disciplines, the Athletics Commission officially reported this Friday.
When presenting the 35th edition of the Barrientos Memorial this weekend, an event that traditionally brings together the most outstanding figures of Cuban athletics, the commissioner of the specialty, Yipsy Moreno, confirmed the absences of Silva and Echevarría.
Moreno said that the long jumper Echevarría will not compete in this event because “due to personal problems, he requested his withdrawal from the national team,” according to a report in the official sports newspaper Jit.
A silver medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Echevarría, 23, is considered the most successful Cuban long jumper in recent times.
After suffering several injuries, Echevarría’s trainers had indicated that he was preparing for future competitions.
Regarding pole vaulter Yarisley Silva, 35, the commissioner reported that she “determined to put an end to her sports career.” However, Silva’s abandonment had already been made known at the beginning of April by the independent press.
“The issue is not what could happen with regards to sports with Yarita in the future, but that her reasons for her departure include her dissatisfaction with the way in which the Federation has carried out many logistical and other movements related to her and Navas [her coach Alexander Navas ],” said SwingCompleto journalist Yasel Porto.
“That is another personal decision, it is a sad moment that all world champions have to go through and it tears us apart, we recognize her athlete lineage and for us she will continue to be our warrior,” Moreno justified this time.
Silve has had an outstanding sports career with a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as outdoor and indoor world titles. She was also three times Pan American champion.
In March, she decided not to participate in the world indoor athletics championships in Serbia, because her pole vaults had not arrived on time.
“Why did I decide not to compete? Because, even if they looked for poles that were as similar as possible, they weren’t going to be mine. It was the third time this had happened to me,” Silva told the state publication Cubadebate.
She also said then that her goal was to “finish big” and that is why she did not want to say goodbye to athletics “below” her results, so she said she planned to participate in the next Central American and Caribbean Games.
The retirement of these outstanding figures of Cuban sports adds to a series of abandonments registered in recent months, mainly by young people in disciplines such as baseball, karate, wrestling, athletics and canoeing.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

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Bodies of murdered priests and tour guide found in Mexico

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersThe bodies of two Catholic priests and a tour guide have been found days after they were shot dead inside a church in northern Mexico, officials say.The three were killed on Monday after a suspected run-in with a wanted drug trafficker in the state of Chihuahua.The priests were gunned down while trying to help the guide, who ran into their church for help, officials said.Pope Francis condemned the killings, calling it a shocking reminder of the level of violence in Mexico.”We’ve found and recovered… the bodies of the Jesuit priests Javier Campos, Joaquín Mora and the tour guide Pedro Palma,” Chihuahua Governor Maria Eugenia Campos said in a video posted to social media.Palma was fleeing an armed gang when he sought refuge in a church in the town of Cerocahui, before being shot dead along with the two priests who tried to intervene, the Chihuahua prosecutor’s office said. The three bodies were then taken away by a group of men in a pickup truck, Luis Gerardo Moro, head of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview.The suspect, who was identified by another priest who was in the church, was already wanted for the murder of an American tourist in 2018, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. The suspect has been named as Jose Noriel Portillo Gil.The president added that Palma’s wife was one of two people who were kidnapped on Monday before the killings, and is still missing.Image source, EPAPope Francis expressed dismay over the killings.”So many murders in Mexico. I am close, in affection and prayer, to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy,” the pontiff said at the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican.A reward of 5 million pesos ($249,300; £203,000) for information relating to the suspect’s whereabouts has been announced. Some 30 priests have been killed in Mexico in the past decade, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, a Catholic organisation.More on this storyHow dangerous is Mexico?

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Bodies of murdered priests and tour guide found in Mexico

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersThe bodies of two Catholic priests and a tour guide have been found days after they were shot dead inside a church in northern Mexico, officials say.The three were killed on Monday after a suspected run-in with a wanted drug trafficker in the state of Chihuahua.The priests were gunned down while trying to help the guide, who ran into their church for help, officials said.Pope Francis condemned the killings, calling it a shocking reminder of the level of violence in Mexico.”We’ve found and recovered… the bodies of the Jesuit priests Javier Campos, Joaquín Mora and the tour guide Pedro Palma,” Chihuahua Governor Maria Eugenia Campos said in a video posted to social media.Palma was fleeing an armed gang when he sought refuge in a church in the town of Cerocahui, before being shot dead along with the two priests who tried to intervene, the Chihuahua prosecutor’s office said. The three bodies were then taken away by a group of men in a pickup truck, Luis Gerardo Moro, head of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview.The suspect, who was identified by another priest who was in the church, was already wanted for the murder of an American tourist in 2018, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. The suspect has been named as Jose Noriel Portillo Gil.The president added that Palma’s wife was one of two people who were kidnapped on Monday before the killings, and is still missing.Image source, EPAPope Francis expressed dismay over the killings.”So many murders in Mexico. I am close, in affection and prayer, to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy,” the pontiff said at the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican.A reward of 5 million pesos ($249,300; £203,000) for information relating to the suspect’s whereabouts has been announced. Some 30 priests have been killed in Mexico in the past decade, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, a Catholic organisation.More on this storyHow dangerous is Mexico?

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