Tearing Up an Image of Fidel Castro is Worth a 12 Year Prison Sentence, According to the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office

A protester is detained by a policeman and a State Security agent in civilian clothes on July 11 in Havana. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Havana, 24 September 2021 — The Prosecutor’s Office is asking for 12 years in prison for Roberto Pérez Fonseca, detained after the July 11 protests in Cuba, during which he tore up a photograph of Fidel Castro. The case will be tried in San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, on September 28.
The document of the Prosecutor’s Office, to which Martí Noticias has had access, indicates that Pérez Fonseca is accused of two crimes of attack and another two of contempt, in addition to instigation to commit a crime and public disorder.
The Public Ministry comments that, “ignoring the highly complex situation” that plagued the province due to the covid-19 pandemic, the 39-year-old accused took to the streets “shouting counterrevolutionary slogans.”
Later, he stood on the Boulevard, “leading a large number of people who he incited to throw stones and bottles at the officers of the National Revolutionary Police,” before which he maintained a “defiant” attitude, arriving, the document says, to throw a stone in the direction of an agent he was insulting which did not hit him. However, it did hit a police vehicle that was damaged.
The mother of the accused, Lisset Fonseca Rosales, believes that the facts do not correspond to the seriousness of the sentence requested by the Prosecutor’s Office and attributes the request to the tearing of Castro’s image.
“That is recorded on video and it went viral on the networks,” she told Martí Noticias. Fonseca Rosales refers to the video broadcast on social networks that shows what happened on that day, when her son walked with several people shouting “freedom,” “down with communism” and “patria y vida,” (homeland and life) among other things.
Pérez Fonseca was arrested on July 16, five days after the events. The police handcuffed him at his house, to which they had gone insisting they only wanted to talk. From there he was taken away and remains in the Quivicán prison as a precautionary measure awaiting trial.
Three witnesses appeared at the PNR (National Revolutionary Police) in San José, who went to testify that he never threw stones, which is one of the things he is accused of, that the only thing he had done was to march. And none of the three appear in the Police file. One of those who was detained was also going to testify in his favor and they never took a statement. The Defense can only bring two witnesses,” Pérez Fonseca’s mother told Martí Noticias.
The sentence petition duplicates the one requested for Sissi Abascal Zamora, a Lady in White and a member of the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party who is in home confinement as a precautionary measure and is also awaiting trial. The 23-year-old girl is accused of attack, contempt and public disorder for protesting in the park of the town of Carlos Rojas, in Matanzas.
After July 11, more than 700 people were arrested, according to volunteers who have collaborated in preparing these lists with Cubalex. Of these, some 400 are still deprived of liberty. According to official data, around 70 protesters were tried in summary proceedings for what the Government considers minor crimes, while those it accuses of what they consider serious crimes are awaiting trial.
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The Price of Biking in Cuba is Rising

Since Mi Bici closed some time ago, there is no longer a state business that sells spare parts in Havana. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 22 September 2021 — “Before there was a store called Mi Bici, that was by the train terminal. I used to buy some pieces there, when it was there,” says Elizabeth. At age 56, this woman from Havana, a resident of the Plaza municipality, has been pedaling around the city for more than three decades and considers herself an expert in cycling. The convergence of a constant energy crisis and a pandemic, in which avoiding public transportation is key, could have turned the bicycle into a lifeline for many Cubans, but that has not been the case.
Elizabeth says that since Mi Bici closed some time ago, there is no longer a state place to buy spare parts. “We have to die in the private businesses of Cuatro Caminos, and everything there is very expensive. You have to keep an eye out for any part, and they are not even original,” she explains. Of course, the area outside the shopping mall has become the main black market in Havana, where any accessory or spare part could be ’resolved’.
“Sometimes they bring the parts from outside and that makes them even more expensive,” continues Elizabeth, who sees it as impossible for many to be able to afford the prices and admits that they will have to return to the severely lacking public transport, where they are also more exposed to the coronavirus.
Pedals, racks, ball bearings, axles, tires and brake pads, among others, are parts that must be changed regularly to maintain a bike and many, like Elizabeth herself, must wait to receive help from someone they know abroad, if they are so lucky. “I’m waiting for a package that my nephew who is abroad sends me. From there he sends me some parts that I have to change, but while I wait, I will have to travel on two feet,” he concludes.
Having a “mountain” bike is a headache. A chain or sprocket can cost between 2,500 and 3,600 pesos, some pedals up to 3,000 and bearings 1,500. Most of the parts for these bikes are sold at ’millennial’ prices, so putting together a complete bike can reach more than 30,000 pesos.
As for racing bikes, the luxury is even greater, since the components are sold in dollars and a single tire costs no less than 100, almost 8,000 Cuban pesos at the exchange rate on the black market.
The expenses not only go include the parts and maintenance. In Havana, the number of bicycle parking spaces has fallen sharply. A few years ago it was common to have a place near each shopping center where, for one or two pesos, someone guarded the bike while the customer made their purchases, but as the use of cycles decreased, so did these places.
“Parking now is not less than 20 pesos and you have to walk a long way between parking the bicycle and getting to the place where you were going, it is a headache,” says Daniel, a young university student who regrets the limitations on getting many places by bike. “You come in and they tell you it’s forbidden but they don’t offer you a place to park.”
With classes suspended in recent months, Daniel has worked as a courier making home deliveries of pizza and other food through the popular Mandao service. “When a customer lives on a high floor and asks me to go up the elevator to deliver the order, I can’t, because if I leave the bicycle alone, even if I put a lock on it, it is very likely that it will be stolen and it is not easy for me to find place to park, and if I do I have to spend part of my profit on that.”
Daniel also regrets that the city “is no longer a place for bicycles.” In addition to the lack of parts and parking spaces, there is added “the removal of the cycle lanes”, previously marked on the main avenues. “Many of the tire repairers who used to work exclusively with bicycles have also gone out of business. This is going uphill, it is getting harder and harder.”
In the interior of the country, where the bicycle is used even more than in the capital, the situation worsens, since the prices exceed those of the capital. Jesús, 40 years old, resides in Sancti Spíritus and goes every day from his home to work by bicycle, a 7-kilometer journey.
“We have the Santa Clara factory close enough, which supplies us with a few spare parts. However, the quality is terrible and the variety is practically non-existent. What strikes us the most is the lack of tires, the Ring 26s are still available, more or less, because they bring them from abroad and they show up for about 4,000 or 5,000 pesos each. But for Ring 24, like mine, they simply don’t exist and, if they appear, I can’t buy them because they can ask for up to 6,000 pesos. That is to say: a single rubber tire could exceed my monthly salary,” he laments.
In spite of everything, Jesús considers that the rustic machinery which many entrepreneurs work with are helping to solve the problem. “Although the pieces are homemade, they have made our day to day a little easier,” he argues.
Last August, the State newspaper Granma announced that about a thousand students  from the Marta Abreu University of Villa Clara could benefit from the purchase in installments of bicycles assembled in the state company Ángel Villareal Bravo, located in the province and better known as Ciclos Minerva.
The price of each unit was 2,900 pesos, paying in full and in cash, but if the buyer chose to postpone payment (an option available since the option was approved in July), he had to pay 20% down and had one year to pay the remainder with an interest rate of 2.5%.
The official newspaper said then that it was a great opportunity for young people, who could access a means of transport in a more flexible way. But the great advantage, as is being demonstrated, is the opportunity people have found with the resale of parts on the black market, at 12,000 or 15,000 pesos.
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Cuban Teleclasses: A 20th Century Practice That Fails Among Today’s Students

Many parents regret that content is being repeated in teleclasses. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 24 September 2021 —  For months, Yanet Fernández, who lives in the neighborhood of multi-family buildings in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado, has not started her day with kisses to her classroom friends and the rowdy conversation of the “gang” before the morning assembly. Since the capital’s schools closed last January, he has had to receive classes at home and the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes is the television screen and the notebook next to his breakfast.
“I only watch teleclasses to please my mother. I copy everything, but out of commitment to her. It’s the most boring thing in the world and, to top it all, it’s the same as last year,” says this ninth-grade student. “I have asked everyone, but none of my friends have seen a single subject from those classes on television,” says Fernández.
Alina Moreno, mother of the teenager, has been dealing with this problem since face-to-face classes were suspended. “Turning on the television and seeing the teacher sitting behind a desk, trying to capture the attention of the children without the slightest preparation makes me desperate. They do not exploit all the tools that this format offers and, in addition, they are repeating content,” she complains.
Each teleclass lasts half an hour and, most of the time, the teacher who teaches it has never been in front of a camera before. The most used resource is the PowerPoint presentation, often with errors and spelling mistakes, a tool that has begun to become obsolete.
“What I see now is that they are not recording anything new and I understand that they get tired and do not want to see it. The authorities are not taking the education of the boys very seriously in this pandemic scenario,” says Moreno.
Inés Casal, a grandmother of two school-age adolescents and a retired professor at the University of Havana, tells 14ymedio that she has been aware of this issue because her two grandchildren also receive teleclasses and it is difficult for her to separate her roles “as a professional and as a grandmother.”
Casal recalls that the educational television method “had its peak in the 60s of the last century,” when it was strongly promoted in the US. But, in her opinion, the idea “has been a failure,” above all if it is based, as many countries have done, on trying to make up for the absence of a teacher in the classroom by putting one in front of a camera.
“A teacher giving classes on TV, without any teacher-student interaction, will never be able to replace a teacher in a classroom constantly exchanging with their students, and vice versa.”
Casal believes that, in the specific case of Cuba, failure was predetermined. “The classes that I have seen are disastrous. The teachers simply repeat what is in the books, without an atom of didactics, with almost zero support media: presentations with texts and nothing else. With some exceptions, serious mistakes are made when writing the questions of the exercises. They have selected teachers who have no sense of humor to give this type of classes, they look like robots. The children who manage to attend and, above all, learn, are so good that they do not even need the classes,” she emphasizes.
In her opinion, it would have been preferable “to understand and assume that there will be a regression in the students (lost years) and hard work required after they rejoin classes.”
This idea has been rejected by world institutions in the field of childhood and education, which consider it essential that children continue to receive classes, face-to-face as much as possible, or a replacement with some technological tool.
In Cuba, not even teachers like Inés Casal consider the method most used in most Western countries that faced the closure of schools at some point in the pandemic: online classes.
The teachers resorted to video calls and messaging to try to advance in the subjects and, although in no case has the quality of face-to-face been matched, the mechanism has allowed not only a minimum of learning, but also routines and a culture of effort.
Countries with lower incomes or where internet penetration is low have suffered more, but this should not have been a problem in Cuba, with a relatively small size and the state telecommunications monopoly Etecsa potentially capable of providing a basic infrastructure to cover the service to guarantee online operations and education that the country offers, ultimately, free.
“There were two possibilities: either that Etecsa would offer educational data packages to be used by teachers and students; or that the Ministry of Education would acquire the packages and offer them to students. But this has not happened because Etecsa does not have a social vocation, rather it focuses on collecting [money]”, says María, a resident of the same neighborhood of Yanet Fernández.
“Teachers complain that they have not been offered an extra allocation for WhatsApp,” she adds, knowing that many teachers are spending money out of their own pockets to keep in touch with their students.
Although an agreement between the telecommunications monopoly Etecsa and the Ministry of Education would be very simple, since both are part of the State, the Government has never explored this route.
“They don’t want to set a precedent because then anyone who works remotely could ask for a data quota and, as a general rule, the only people who have preferential or free prices are some employees of Etecsa, State Security and, probably, also the senior officials. There is an eternal mistrust that people are not going to use it for its intended purpose,” says María.
Juliete Isabel Fernández Estrada has two children who receive teleclasses and she has managed to get them to watch them daily, even if just “as a formality.” However, she believes that the limitations of this format are a reflection of those already possessed by Cuban education.
“To the poverty and rigidity of the contents that are taught, the political indoctrination, the outdated and the deficient training of teachers, is added the poor use of the facilities provided by the television medium and the lack of imagination to animate teleclasses, in which practically all kinds of resources and messages would fit, not just the patriotic songs in fashion and fragments of Fidel’s speeches,” she laments.
Lizandra, a fourth grade teacher, says that there are parents in the group she teaches who have been able to pay for a private tutor to help their children not lose the thread with their studies, but points out that “this is not the case for most of them.” Many parents complain that children have no way to review the assignments and exercises that are given to them every day in class and that teachers are very fast in the teleclass.
“I think that the fact that students are not motivated by the teleclass has so much to do with the television format. Many of them spend hours watching Youtuber programs downloaded from the internet that come in the ‘weekly packet‘ but, unlike teleclasses, there they find an attractive set, different camera shots, animations or graphics that make the content more digestible,” says Lizandra.
The teacher confirms what María pointed out: the internet is “very expensive” and it is very difficult for teachers to always be connected to monitor the evolution of their students.
The announcement by the Ministry of Education that face-to-face classes should be resumed gradually starting in November and it will be difficult for young people to get used to returning to an activity that they have abandoned almost a year ago.
“I have spoken with other mothers and they tell me the same thing,”  explains Alina Moreno. “I am afraid that going back to school will be difficult for a young woman who has been away from classrooms and the routine of learning for months.”
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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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Statues of Fidel Castro and ‘Che’ Guevara in Mexico Vandalized Again

This is how the so-called ’Monument of the Encounter’ appeared after being vandalized. (Twitter / @ ELPOLICIA8)
14ymedio, Havana, 23 September 2021 — The statues of Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che  Guevara in the Parque Tabacalera, in Mexico City, woke up this Wednesday vandalized again. Two people threw white paint on the so-called ’Monument of the Encounter’, the work of the sculptor Oscar Ponzanelli, and placed between the two statues a flag of Mexico and a leaf on which they drew a hammer and sickle with the phrase: “Out AMLO” (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president). The perpetrators were arrested.
The effigies of Castro and Che, who met in the Mexican capital in 1955, have always been a target and even more so in recent weeks. Prior to Miguel Díaz-Canel’s visit to Mexico on September 16, opposition senator América Rangel shared on her social networks an image of the memorial, anonymously “intervened in,” accompanied by the phrase: “Thus, with blood and the labels of ASSASSINS, is how these two architects of the Cuban dictatorship, which has its people in misery and without freedom, should be represented.”
Days before, on September 11, a group of residents of the central Tabacalera neighborhood asked the Senate to intercede to demand that the head of government of the Mexican capital, Claudia Sheinbaum, remove the sculptures because they consider them an “insult” to the victims of the regime on the island, since they represent an ideology “contrary to democratic principles.”
The petition was also uploaded to the platform of the organization Change.org and already has 10,459 signatures of support. It refers to the “destruction” of the figures and they refer to Fidel Castro as a “dictator” and call Che Guevara a “murderer.” They point out that they are “perpetrators of crimes against humanity and have caused the systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people.”
In addition, last July, legislators from the National Action Party called for a consultation to define the future of the ’Monument of the Encounter’. “The regime instituted in Cuba has caused thousands of deaths, repression, violation of freedoms, a gag law, extreme poverty, and has his people in misery,” Diego Garrido said to Radio Formula.
The disagreements have even led to a robbery attempt, such as the one carried out in October 2020. The authorities then decided to cover the piece with a metal structure.
The controversy has accompanied the monument from the moment it was installed, in 2017, according to the local press published on December 2, behind the National Museum of San Carlos, very close to where Castro and Che are supposed to have met, but they did it without the necessary permission. For this reason, they removed it and kept it in a warehouse, until its relocation to Parque Tabacalera, last year.
On a park bench, seated in a casual way, the Castro and Guevara sculpture mimics a way of presenting historical figures that has been used the Island for personalities such as John Lennon in a park in Havana’s El Vedado. These sets are also designed to allow a photo in which the passerby sits next to or in the middle of those represented.
In Cuba there is no sculpture of Fidel Castro, only some bas-reliefs in the main political squares of the country, an absence that many have pointed to as an indicator of Castro’s fear that his physical image would suffer some type of aggression as happened with the sculptures of Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin after the fall of the Baghdad regime and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Despite this care, on July 11, one of the most iconic images of the popular protests shows a group of people tearing up a poster with the face of Fidel Castro. Anger and mockery are mixed in a few short minutes of video in which the responsibility that Cubans place, regarding the current situation, on the shoulders of the person who ruled the country for almost six decades, is noted.
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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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Colombian policeman in the dock over protest death

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, Courtesy of Sandra MenesesFive months after at least 58 people died during a wave of anti-government protests in Colombia, a policeman will become the first law enforcement officer to face trial over one of the deaths.Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a murder conviction against Major Jorge Mario Molano.Maj Molano of the Ibagué police force is accused of shooting dead 19-year-old Santiago Murillo as the student was walking home alone and unarmed in the city in central Colombia. He denies the charges. The incident occurred minutes after protesters had thrown rocks at police, who responded by firing warning shots in the air and also throwing rocks.The case is being closely monitored by human rights groups in Colombia and abroad, which are demanding that major reforms be made to the country’s police force after the anti-government protests in April and May were marked by violent clashes and police abuse.The original protests over proposed tax reforms quickly grew to cover other issues, including police violence and poverty.What was behind Colombia’s protests?”The government has long denied that police are using excessive force,” says Miguel Ángel del Río, founder of Legal Front Line, a lawyers’ collective representing protesters. “But here we have a case that contradicts that narrative. It shows how the police clearly attacked an unarmed civilian, and [how they] are abusing their power.” The Legal Front Line says it has defended hundreds of protesters who were subjected to arbitrary detentions and beatings while they were under police custody in May. ReutersColombia protests58people killed (Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman)
25people whose deaths were linked to police actions (Human Rights Watch)3police officers being investigated over protest deaths (figure from May 2021)
Sources: Colombian Attorney General’s Office; Colombian Human Rights OmbudsmanThe Colombian Attorney General’s office said that at least 26 people were killed during the wave of demonstrations. It did not respond to requests for information on the number of police officers who are currently under investigation for allegedly killing protesters, but back in May it put the number at three, including Maj Molano.The prosecutors in the case say Maj Molano shot Santiago Murillo from a distance of about 32m (100ft) as the student was crossing a street on 1 May. Police and protesters had been clashing on the same street corner minutes before Mr Murillo was fatally wounded.A video taken by a witness from an apartment window shows the teenager collapsing after being shot. Other videos show a police officer hiding his gun after firing, and refusing to heed calls from bystanders to call for medical help, but the officer’s face cannot be seen. Maj Molano has denied killing the student. His lawyer says the officer left the area on a motorcycle two minutes before Mr Murillo was shot and therefore he is not the man seen firing a gun in the videos.The prosecution alleges that a bullet found in Mr Murillo’s body came from Maj Molano’s gun, but the police officer’s defence team say they will prove in court that ballistic reports are not precise enough to link the bullet to the officer’s weapon. Evidence collected so far suggests that Mr Murillo was killed by a police officer, though it is yet to be determined if it was Maj Molano or one of his subordinates. The killing of Mr Murillo shows there is a strong need to make the police more accountable and change how officers are trained, argues Diego Cancino, a member of the city council in the capital, Bogotá.image source, Long Visual Press Some 70,000 people recently backed a proposal by Mr Cancino to reform Colombia’s police.The proposal, which Mr Cancino has presented to Congress, suggests creating a panel of civil society groups that can veto the promotions of officers involved in abuses as well as having human rights organisations participate in the creation of police training manuals.”We need a police force that is closer to the citizens,” Mr Cancino says. “We want them to generate confidence instead of fear.” In June, Colombia’s government began to implement its own police reforms which include creating a human rights directorate within the police – led by a retired officer – that will process complaints from citizens. The government will also require officers to take new human rights courses, and will place body cams on their uniforms.image source, AFPBut critics say the changes do not go far enough. Some human rights groups say part of the problem is the fact that Colombia’s police currently fall under the jurisdiction of military tribunals run by the Ministry of Defence. There, officers who commit abuses are often judged by their peers. José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas Director of rights group Human Rights Watch, says that needs to change.”[President Iván] Duque’s response has unfortunately been too little, too late. “His reform fails to transfer the police out of the Ministry of Defence, does little to bolster the police’s poor disciplinary system and does not limit the military justice system’s ability to handle criminal investigations into abuses,” Mr Vivanco says. The case against Maj Molano was at first assigned to a military judge, who ordered the officer’s release from pre-trial detention. But prosecutors appealed against the decision and a civilian judge ordered Maj Molano’s arrest a couple of weeks later. It was not until August that the case was transferred to the regular justice system after Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that it should not be heard by a military court. Santiago Murillo’s mother, Sandra Meneses, says she would like “an exemplary punishment” to be handed out, so that police officers are dissuaded from exerting violence on civilians. Ms Meneses, who is suffering from depression and anxiety, has not been able to return to work since her son’s murder”This has destroyed our family,” she says. “I can’t sleep well at night because I dream that Santiago is here. And when I wake up I realise he’s still gone.”

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A Mexican Senator Denounces Payment of 13 Million Dollars to Cuba for ‘False Doctors’

The Government of Mexico said at the time that the first group of Cuban doctors arrived in April 2020. (Collage)
14ymedio, Havana, 20 September 2021 — The coordinator in the Mexican Senate of the opposition National Action Party (PAN), Julen Rementería, denounced this Monday that the highest authorities of Mexico and Cuba “orchestrated a fraud” of 255,873,177 million pesos (about 12,692,940 million dollars ) to the detriment of the Mexican Health budget by hiring 585 “untitled” doctors from the Island to treat covid-19 patients.
This is the group of healthworkers imported in April 2020, as the Mexican authorities argued at the time, to help fight the covid-19 pandemic, raised suspicions from the beginning. On the one hand, due to the lack of transparency of the agreement between both countries and, on the other, due to the apparent lack of training of Cubans, denounced by various medical associations in Mexico.
In a long thread on his Twitter account, headed by the title “Cubagate”, Rementería released an investigation that, he says, took six months, and which reveals that the Mexican government hired what he calls “false doctors” with the consent of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.
The PAN senator recalls that on April 21, 2020, in the “crisis of the pandemic”, the federal government transferred to Mexico City, through the Institute of Health for Well-being, Insabi, a sum of 135,875,081 million pesos “to help it in the covid crisis.”
Three days later, Rementería continues, the government of Mexico City signed with “the Cuban dictatorship” two “biannual agreements”: one, for the exact value of that transfer and another for 103,638,266. “Both are aimed at hiring ’Cuban doctors’ to help in Mexican public hospitals,” says the senator.
In both “biannual agreements,” the thread continues, “the Cuban Ministry of Health is committed to guaranteeing that the personnel sent to Mexico have full capacity and experience. According to them, they say they have the documentation that certifies as professionals the personnel sent to our country.”
CubaGate investigation document published by Senator Julen Rementería. (Twitter / @ julenrementeria)
The documents presented by Rementería show that, as a minimum, the public institutions involved in the agreement — Insabi, the government of Mexico City, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Navy, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) and the Institute of Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) — they did not demand any title from Cuban health workers, claiming that the responsibility for this lies “from the Cuban Ministry of Health.”
“The IMSS accepted foreign people as ’doctors’ without corroborating that they were accredited and put them to treat covid patients in the middle of the pandemic,” accuses the opponent.
In this regard, Rementería says that they consulted the National Institute of Migration and the Ministry of the Interior, and they responded that it was not their competence. “In other words, the authority in charge of controlling the migratory flow to Mexico, allowed 585 people to enter, without knowing who they are or what they are coming to.”
In September 2020, the LatinUs portal already revealed that imported doctors worked undocumented, showing that there was no evidence of immigration permits or entry as “visitors.”
“How many Mexicans have died at the hands of these false doctors?” Rementería asks in his thread, noting that each of them cost 437,390 pesos out of the taxpayers’ pocket (about $21,700), while a Mexican doctor earns in the IMSS 17,000 pesos a month (about 843 dollars) “and they have them without the tools to work.”
During his investigation, Rementería tried to find out what documents accredited the professional training of the health workers and the conditions imposed by the Cuban government in the contract. (Twitter / @ julenrementeria)
That money, asserts the PAN senator, showing documents that prove it, did not go to the “supposed doctors,” but “to the Cuban dictatorship,” since the transfers were made to the regime’s official accounts.
“This doesn’t stop here,” announces Rementería. “We want the records of the patients treated by these false doctors. We want to know how many Mexicans died as a result of this fraud. We want compensation for the families of the victims of this fraud. We want those responsible to answer to the law.”
The investigation presented by the head of the PAN in the Senate does not refer to the almost 200 Cuban health workers who were stationed in Veracruz on the same dates as the 585 in Mexico City or the 500 they sent in December, about whose spending and titles nothing is known.

INVESTIGACIÓN #CubaGate
El gobierno del Pdte. @lopezobrador_,el de @Claudiashein y el de @DiazCanelB orquestaron un fraude de 255,873,177 MDP al presupuesto de salud.
Contrataron 585 falsos médicos (que no tienen título) para tratar pacientes mexicanos de COVID.
— Julen Rementeria (@julenrementeria) September 20, 2021

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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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Why are so many Haitians at the US-Mexico border?

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, AFPThousands of predominantly Haitian migrants are still camped at the US border, where officials have struggled to provide them with food and sanitation.Last weekend, approximately 13,000 would-be migrants gathered under a bridge connecting Del Rio in Texas with Ciudad Acuña in Mexico.Many of the migrants are fleeing natural disasters, poverty and political turmoil, and making a treacherous journey through Latin America to reach the border.Who are the migrants?While citizens of several countries are represented in the migrant camp in Del Rio – including Dominicans, Venezuelans and Cubans – the vast majority are from Haiti.Of the Haitians, a significant number were those who fled after a devastating earthquake struck the country in 2010, and took up residence in Brazil and other South American countries.Haiti has also suffered from years of political instability, culminating in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July. The following month, the country suffered another deadly earthquake.Katiana Anglade, the Haitian-born development and operations director of the Washington-based Lambi Fund of Haiti, says the combination of natural disasters and political unrest over the years has left many Haitians “with nothing to hold on to”.image source, Getty Images”There was a big lack of hope for the people who were living on the ground in Haiti,” she says. “It’s just been one shock after another, and one trauma after another.”Many of the Haitians at the US-Mexico border experienced a long and difficult journey from South America.Ralph Thomassaint – a journalist for the Haitian news outlet AyiboPost who visited Del Rio this week to collect testimonies from migrants – says most of the migrants “had a sad story” from the journey.”Many, many women were raped during the trip, and many people die,” he says. “You have thieves and gangs along the route, and people they have to pay to take them from one point to another.”Why are they coming?A significant number of Haitians at the border originally had been in Brazil, attracted by the promise of plentiful jobs during the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2014 World Cup.When those jobs dried up, many began heading to other countries in Latin America.”After Brazil, many Haitians went to Chile. There were opportunities in the construction sector there too,” Mr Thomassaint explains. “At that time, it was very easy for them to go there. They didn’t need visas.”But many Haitians subsequently left Chile, driven away by increasingly strict migration policies.Government statistics show the number of visas issued to Haiti this year stands at approximately 3,000 – down from 126,000 in 2018.Images of Haitians at US border echo grim pastWhat is Biden doing differently at US border?From South America the Haitians head north to the US under the false assumption – sometimes fuelled by rumours – that they will be welcome there.”The people we have at the US borders are the ones who left five, six, or seven years ago,” Mr Thomassaint says. “Many of them just couldn’t find jobs anymore.”Ms Anglade says many head towards the US after hearing “that the door will be open” to them if they arrive at a port of entry.”They thought that that as long as they make it the border, they’d have a better opportunity,” she says. “But what they walked into is a deplorable situation. There are no words to explain or express how painful it is watching what those people are going through underneath that bridge.”What’s the situation on the ground?On Thursday, US officials said that approximately 4,000 migrants remained under the bridge. Several thousand have already been returned to Mexico, while an estimated 3,200 are in custody waiting to be processed.In addition, about 1,400 have so far been flown back to Haiti under the US government’s Title 42 policy aimed preventing the spread of Covid-19 in holding facilities.Jenn Budd, an immigrant rights activist who was at the scene on Wednesday, says police and National Guard personnel have “completely blocked off” the area.”You cannot breathe here without law enforcement knowing what you’re doing,” says Ms Budd, a former Border Patrol agent.”They’re cleaning it up and getting rid of everything, and they have shut down access to the river itself.”Meanwhile more Haitians are heading north from South American countries. Nearly 19,000 mostly Haitian migrants are in Colombia waiting to cross the border to Panama, Colombian officials say.

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US Haiti envoy quits over migrant deportations

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThe US special envoy for Haiti has resigned in protest over the deportation of Haitian migrants.The US decision to send the migrants to a country where armed gangs controlled daily life was inhumane, Daniel Foote said in his resignation letter.Last weekend, the US started flying out migrants from a Texas border town which has seen an influx, with some 13,000 having gathered under a bridge.They have been waiting in a makeshift camp in temperatures of 37C (99F).Local officials have struggled to provide them with food and adequate sanitation. Most of those at the camp are Haitians, but there are also Cubans, Peruvians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans present.Since Sunday, the US has returned to Haiti 1,401 migrants from the Texas camp on the border with Mexico. On Wednesday, chaos broke out at Haiti’s main airport as flights carrying those being being deported arrived.But Mr Foote said Haitians “simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy”.Images of Haitians at US border echo grim pastWhat is Biden doing differently at US border?Shocking images of horse-mounted US officers corralling the migrants have evoked dark comparisons to US slavery and the country’s historical mistreatment of black people. The widely shared images, taken by an AFP photographer earlier this week, appear to show US Border Patrol agents on horseback using their reins against the migrants and pushing them back towards the Rio Grande river that divides Texas and Mexico. Many Haitians left the country after a devastating earthquake in 2010, and a large number of those in the camp had been living in Brazil or other South American countries and travelled north after being unable to secure jobs or legal status.This year has brought further hardship for the impoverished country. In July, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated – and in August it suffered another deadly earthquake.image source, AFP

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Ten Months Forced Labor for Young Cuban Marching on the Street on July 11th

The moment in which Armando Sardiñas Figueredo is detained by a policeman and a State Security agent in civilian clothes, on July 11 in Havana. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Havana, 20 September 2021 — The image of a young man violently taken into custody by a plainclothes policeman a few meters from the Capitol in Havana has become one of the iconic photos of the repression against protesters on July 11. Now, the protagonist of the snapshot taken by a 14ymedio reporter faces a sanction of ten months of internment in a correctional labor camp.
On Monday, Armando Sardiñas Figueredo, 20, shared on his Twitter account the document issued by the Supreme People’s Court (TSP) in which he is informed that he has been sanctioned to “ten months of deprivation of liberty subsidized by correctional work with internment,” a sentence to be served in the center of La Lima, Guanabacoa.
“I never offended or attacked any official,” the young man assures this newspaper, who says that no one ordered him to demonstrate that Sunday, that he learned of the protests “through the social networks,” and he went out into the street at the corner of hotel Manzana de Gómez. Sardiñas narrates that several State Security agents addressed him when he joined the peaceful demonstration in Central Park. One of them tried to hit him, but Sardiñas dodged him, after which they restrained him, put him in a patrol car and transferred him to the Zanja police station.
There, they put him in a cell. “I did not know why they were arresting me, because I knew that I was not committing any crime,” says the young man, who assures that inside the cell there were “about 70 people who continued to demonstrate.”
An officer, says Sardiñas, interviewed him about two hours later, “and practically forced me to sign the arrest warrant.” The accusation: “public disorder.” He spent ten days imprisoned at the 100th y Aldabó,  station in Havana, and, regrets, that as a result of the arrest he lost his job.
The legal document specifies that he must present himself at the correctional center on October 7, under penalty of having the current measure revoked to go on to serve his sentence in a regular prison. “The tasks to be carried out” are mainly in agriculture, the document points out.
It also recommends that Sardiñas come to the place with a “towel, sheet, a bucket, clothing” suitable for the work to be carried out, in addition to other personal hygiene products, since “the center cannot guarantee them,” clarifies the information from the TSP.
“I am going to serve an unfair sanction on the 7th but this is not the end, it is only a sign that they have to remove the blindfold and be realistic,” Sardiñas added on his Twitter account after publishing the document. “Let’s be realistic. Cuba is a dictatorship and Human Rights are violated and freedom of expression is not respected.”
The July 11 protests began in San Antonio de los Baños, Artemisa province. After learning about this demonstration through videos that circulated like wildfire on social networks, the streets of Cuba became abuzz with people and protests were added in Matanzas, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Havana. Shouts of “Cuba libre,” “Patria y vida” and “Down with the dictatorship” echoed through the most important streets of the country.
Around the Capitol in Havana, where Sardiñas was arrested, hundreds of people gathered shouting “libertad” and “patria y vida.” A 14ymedio reporter took several videos and photos, one of which records the moment when Sardiñas was violently arrested by a plainclothes policeman who grabbed him by the neck.
The image reflects the excessive repression against the demonstrators that the Government deployed, especially after Miguel Díaz-Canel assured that the “combat order is given” and that they were ready “for anything,” words that unleashed violence against those who protested.
So far, the Cuban government has not recognized official figures of detainees, injuries or deaths. It only admitted the death of one person, Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, 36, a resident of the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.
Along with hundreds of anonymous citizens who went out into the streets on July 11, several of the main figures of the Cuban dissidence  also ended up in detention. Among them, the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement; Félix Navarro, from the Democratic Action Unity Roundtable, and José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba.
According to the list drawn up by various volunteers under the coordination of the Cubalex legal advice center, of the more than 800 detainees who have been confirmed from those days, 377 remained in jail in August, 10 of them enforced disappearance.
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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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Cuba’s Province With the Most Livestock Yields No More than Eight Liters of Milk per Producer

Official media highlight the production of milk in Camagüey. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Havana, 22 September 2021 — The official press celebrates that the Evelio Rodríguez Curbelo cooperative, from the municipality of Jimaguayú, Camagüey, reached an annual production of one million liters of cow’s milk. “It reached this goal for the tenth year in a row,” an article reported this Wednesday.
The feat is a mirage. In one day, the cooperative obtains 2,739 liters of milk; if there are 347 members, this represents 7.89 liters for each one, which is what each farmer delivers on average to the Camagüey Dairy Products Industry.
Officialdom has little to celebrate when they highlight that in Camagüey a cow gives almost seven times less milk than in Spain, even taking into account that production fell 1.3% in that country, according to the first report of the Spanish Agrarian Guarantee Fund. Only the average in Galicia is around 25 liters per day per cow, although in some parts they can exceed 50 liters.
For Isel Galindo Cruz, president of the Evelio Rodríguez Curbelo cooperative, production is an achievement, the fruit of the “result of the will of the peasants and their desire,” since “in the last two years no inputs of any type have been received type to develop livestock.”
The cooperative member confirmed “the infestation of the pastures, the deterioration of the roads, the blackouts and climate change are some of the obstacles we have faced” and concluded: “Even so, we reached” the production goal of milk.
Galindo Cruz attributed the low milk production to the lack of rainfall and announced that for this year there will be 1,247,000 liters of milk, which will comply with what was agreed in the calendar. There are in Camagüey, he said, 174 cattle farms that have 2,400 cows and from each one they are obtaining an average of 3.7 liters.
The crisis in milk production the island is going through is evident. In May 2020, the State newspaper Granma announced that it had “158,000 cow owners.” In that year there was talk of the start of a livestock development project in Camagüey to “benefit 105 cooperatives.” The announcement was made a month after they denounced that “the dairy farmers accumulated a delay in the deliveries to the industry of about five million liters,” and that the deficit in milk production increased.
Due to the lack of milk, the Cuban government announced “restrictions on the production of ice cream, yogurt and other assortments that depend” on this food product. So it has had to resort to the production of soy yogurt and its derivatives.
Today the news is the production of milk in Camagüey, in June it was the slaughter of six cows as part of the package of 63 measures that the Government announced in April in order to stimulate food production. At that time, only 6% of the cattle ranchers in Camagüey met the requirements to trade “freely” beef and milk.
The province of Camagüey, due to its size and soils, has led the sector throughout history; however, malnutrition was a negative factor for livestock last year. In the first semester, the province registered the death of 17,000 cows due to malnutrition and a 30% decrease in milk production. To this was added the low birth rate, which resulted in their being 5,982 head of cattle fewer than the previous year.
But the low indicators may point to another phenomenon: the growing diversion of milk and its productions towards the informal market. In a country where the dairy derivatives industry and trade has been strongly monopolized by the State, the ways to get cheese, yogurt and milk through clandestine networks have proliferated.
To avoid this obvious traffic, checkpoints are permanently maintained on the island’s roads, with uniformed officers and specialized dogs to detect the illegal trade of dairy products. However, the thriving business of selling pizzas, snacks and other quick recipes flourishes in the shadow of this informal business.
To avoid declaring all the milk they produce, farmers resort to many tricks. From pointing to the drought, the lack of feed and drugs to care for their animals, to declaring many of the calves that are born as male to avoid subsequent control over the females, their udders and their young.
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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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Grim echoes of history in images of Haitians at US-Mexico border

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, AFPShocking images of horse-mounted officers corralling Haitian migrants along the US-Mexico border are evoking dark comparisons to US slavery and the country’s historical mistreatment of black people. The widely shared images, taken by an AFP photographer earlier this week, appear to show US Border Patrol agents on horseback using their reins against Haitian migrants and pushing them back towards the Rio Grande river that divides Texas and Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said that the officers were trying to manage the migrants crossing the river. He has vowed that his department will investigate reports of alleged abuse. US probes horseback charge on Haiti migrantsMany Americans have likened the images to historical representations of slavery – which was abolished in 1865 – and other dark periods for black people in the US. One widely shared image, for example, compares a recent picture from the US border with a historical drawing of an African slave being pulled with a rope and struck with a whip. These images although centuries apart still seem to represent the worst of America’s capacity for humanity. @Potus if the plan is to #BuildBackBetter step 1 must be tearing down a foundation of oppressive practices. pic.twitter.com/bEkGDYl6Wg— NAACP (@NAACP) September 21, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter”That’s exactly what it is. It’s horrible, and it’s pure evil,” Angela Byrd, an African-American resident of Washington DC, told BBC News. “It’s very disheartening, because of the historical connections that we – whether it be Haitians, Cubans or African Americans – have with a man, on a horse, with a whip.””It’s a reminder of America’s history, and how far we’ve come, but also of how far we still have to go,” Ms Byrd added. “Clearly, some people are ready to change. Some people aren’t.” Officials have disputed that the agents “whipped” the migrants. The National Fraternal Order of Police labour union, for example, noted that the officers are simply holding the reins used to manoeuvre the horses. Among the prominent voices who have spoken out about the images is Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – the nation’s oldest civil rights group. On Monday, Mr Johnson met with administration officials and members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the issue. image source, ReutersIn a statement, Mr Johnson said that the events at the border are “all too familiar to those who are aware of America’s ugly history”. Another observer, Bernice King – the daughter of famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr – tweeted that the “United States treats people the way it wants to and that treatment has been heavily contingent on colour and class for hundreds of years.” Anne Bailey, a professor and the director of the Harriet Tubman Center for the Study of Freedom and Equity at Binghamton University, explained that while the images are “difficult regardless of the history”, they are reminiscent of historical “slave patrols”. Sometimes referred to as “paddy rollers” in the pre-Civil War era, slave patrols were groups of armed men who policed and controlled the movement of slaves, or were used to track down those who had escaped from plantations in the US southern states. They were supported by landowners and, in some places, the state itself. image source, Getty Images”They were there to ensure that every person of colour stayed in their place, and stayed on their plantation,” Ms Bailey said. “If somebody was found not on their plantation and on their way somewhere else, they often had to have a pass signed off on by their slave owner.” These patrols, Ms Bailey added, were often horse-mounted and equipped with whips. “These slave patrols would enact their own kind of justice. They were supported by the state to do whatever they wanted to put their person back in their place, or just punish them with those whips,” she said. image source, ReutersThe recent images of officers on horseback corralling black people – particularly white men – comes as the US is in the “midst of a racial reckoning”. “It’s who we were. But I don’t think, and I hope, that it is not who we are,” Ms Bailey added. “But [those images] bring back pictures of an ugly past, and we’re still dealing with the legacy of that.”What is Biden doing differently at US border?Joe Biden’s ‘big problem’ at the US borderMark Naison, a professor of history and African and African-American studies at Fordham University in New York, said that he believes the reaction to the images from the border are a natural result of growing public awareness of historical mistreatment of black people in the US. “In the last 10 years, there has probably been more effective publicity about atrocities relating to racism in US history than there were in the previous 40 years,” he said.image source, AFPThe historical images of slavery being shared on social media this week, Mr Naison added, are more accessible – and spread much more quickly – than other forms of media, such as TV shows or films in which African-American history is the focus. Mr Naison added that the impact of these viral images, in turn, are often eye-opening for many Americans. “History is alive. Images move like wildfire,” he said. “Images of black people – not only during slavery, but after – being attacked and assaulted, are probably more visible now then they ever have been before.”Ms Byrd, for her part, said she believes the comparisons being made between the images from the border and America’s past should serve as a reminder that Americans should learn their history. “We have to continue to have those discussions, and we need to continue to talk about it,” she said. “Not everyone wants to talk about slavery, but we have to continue to talk about it, to understand why this is wrong.”

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Bolsonaro: Fact-checking claims by the Brazilian leader at UN

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, Getty ImagesPresident Bolsonaro of Brazil, the first head of state to address this year’s UN General Assembly in New York, made a number of claims about his record in office.We’ve been looking at what he said, and how accurate he was.’More than 140 million Brazilians, representing almost 90% of our adult population, have received…the first dose.’President Bolsonaro has himself chosen not to be vaccinated.He has also publicly cast doubt on vaccines, including at one point suggesting the side effects could turn people into crocodiles.image source, Getty ImagesHe caught Covid last year and argues that he has antibodies and doesn’t need to be vaccinated.Brazil is currently vaccinating anyone 12 years and older and according to government data, 142,205,968 Brazilians have had one dose. And using World Bank population figures, that’s more than 84% of the over 14s in Brazil who have had a single dose.But so far only about 37% of the population is fully vaccinated, which offers the best protection against the virus. That compares with more than 55% in the US, more than 61% in the EU and over 66 in the UK%.President Bolsonaro faced criticism over the initial slow rollout of the vaccination programme. He’s also belittled measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing and called coronavirus a “little flu” while advocating unproven treatments.’In the Amazon, deforestation was reduced by 32% in August in comparison with August the previous year… 84% of the forest is intact’Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) says the rate of deforestation in August this year is down on the rate in August 2020.But some NGOs which monitor deforestation, question these figures. Imazon, which operates its own monitoring system, says its data do not show the rate of increase slowing down this year.More data are expected to be released next month or in November, which may help clarify the picture.The Climate Observatory NGO points out that the longer term deforestation trend is still upwards.”In the five years prior to the Bolsonaro administration, the average deforestation rate in the Amazon was 6,719 sq km (4,175 sq miles)” they said in a statement.”In the first two years of the current administration, the average rate was 10,490 sq km (6,518 sq miles), which means a 56% increase.”Mr Bolsonaro has been blamed for encouraging development in the rainforest, and cutting funding to official bodies meant to enforce environmental regulations.Figures from the INPE currently show that just over 80% of the Amazon is intact.Although scientists don’t agree on how much deforestation could cause the rainforest to be unable to support its own ecosystems, it’s thought by some to be as little as 20-25%.’There has been not a single case of corruption in the past two years and eight months. ‘This ignores the fact there’ve been on-going corruption cases since Mr Bolsonaro became president in 2019, including one relating to Covid vaccine procurement.There’s also an enquiry underway by Brazil’s Congress, which is looking at the official pandemic response, including whether or not federal or state officials committed criminal negligence or corruption.Mr Bolsonaro himself faces possible charges of negligence over allegations that he ignored irregularities linked to a multi-million dollar contract to buy coronavirus vaccines from India.He has been accused by opposition politicians of ignoring concerns about the deal when they were flagged to him – something he has denied.Mr Bolsonaro, and some of his family and friends have also been linked to various investigations since he took office in 2019.In November 2020, his son Flavio was formally accused of embezzlement, money laundering, misappropriation of funds and directing a “criminal organisation.” He has denied any wrongdoing.The Brazilian Supreme Court is looking into allegations that President Bolsonaro had tried to interfere with the work of the federal police, who were looking into corruption cases that may involve family members.’Brazil is already an example in energy generation, with 83% coming from renewable sources’image source, ReutersWe found the figure used by President Bolsonaro in data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, published in January this year..It refers to energy supplied to the country’s electricity grid.Brazil is a world leader in hydro-electric power generation, which is estimated to supply nearly 80% of the electricity grid.But this is not the same as the total energy mix, which includes other energy sources. Figures the Brazilian government published in August show that just under half all the energy produced in Brazil was from renewable sources.It’s worth saying that the country has been increasing the amount of energy it gets from renewable sources – it went up to 46% in 2019 from less than 39% in 2014, according to Our World in Data figures.But Brazil still relies to a significant extent on fossil fuels, and in 2019 nearly 40% of its total energy was from oil, with smaller amounts form natural gas and coal, according to the International Energy Agency.

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The Cuban People Have Already Conquered Their Freedom

Young man with a placard during the July 11 protests in Cuba. (Capture)
14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, 20 September 2021 — When José Martí was preparing Cuba’s war of national liberation from exile, he wrote in the newspaper Patria that the objective was not a change of clothes, but “a change of soul.” It could be understood that the root of the problem did not consist of transforming institutions, not excluding economic relations here, but a change of consciousness and, in this case, a much deeper and more generalized consciousness than would have been a class consciousness like the one that Marx advocated.
This was probably related to what Martí expressed in his article about the act carried out in New York in honor of Marx posthumously, where, after praising him, he added this criticism: “But he walked quickly and somewhat in the shadows, without seeing that children who have not had a natural and laborious gestation are not born viable, neither from the bosom of the people in history, nor from the bosom of a woman in the home.”
Martí, more influenced by Emerson and the American transcendentalists, did not see the class struggle, and violence in general, as the appropriate way for the triumph of social justice. For him the important thing was not the number of weapons in hands, but “the number of stars on the forehead,” from which it is understood that a patient struggle was required to generate that consciousness that was not class, but transcended the social classes towards a civic conscience of the entire population. “Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone,” he said.
Thus, the only revolution that could bring about the rights and freedoms of a people was the one carried out in the human spirit.
Political prisoners who individually had become aware of rights that are inherent to human nature were not afraid to speak out their thoughts. They were even freer behind the bars than the jailers who guarded them. When a State Security captain threatened me with a new charge for a “subversive” manuscript that they had found in my cell during a search, I replied: “Well, when you understand its pertinence, send for me to sign the papers.” And when he warned me that if they found an anti-government leaflet out there they would come looking for me, I told him: “If it isn’t signed by me, don’t bother, because I sign everything I write.”
To use violence to overthrow communist regimes is to confront it in a field that those regimes know all too well. All the violent attempts against the totalitarian regime imposed in Cuba were defeated. But when half a dozen political prisoners created a group that instead of violence denounced human rights violations along with other peaceful actions, that was the starting point of a non-violent movement that grew and spread throughout the country and that could never be defeated, because the regime had prepared to counter any violent opposition, but not a peaceful struggle.
Curiously, of the six of us, two had been professors of Marxism, and another two came from the ranks of the old communist party, the Popular Socialist Party (PSP). Little by little we came to understand that more than denouncing international public opinion, our most important mission was to create an awareness in the population of their rights. It was a patient process that in reality turned out to be a long and tortuous path of almost forty years from which only the two professors of that small founding nucleus survived. But it was very necessary because it required, as in Martí’s criticism of Marx, “a natural and laborious gestation.”
In the first days of 2021, we both wrote an open letter to the Government alerting it of what was coming so that it could make the radical changes that could prevent that imminent social explosion, but they did not want to listen. And when the people finally took to the streets on July 11, the behavior of those massive demonstrations that took place in dozens of cities in the country was peaceful, unlike the social explosions in other Latin American countries.
The violence was later initiated by the regime with ruthless repression. But Cuba could no longer be the same, because finally the people had awakened and had become aware of their destiny. And this is a more important conquest, even, than the possible collapse of the dictatorship, because it is a conquest for all time. That people did not take to the streets because a caudillo ordered it to. No leader led it.
Remember how this dictatorship was imposed. The leader was applauded, they compared him to Christ, and in fact many took down the images of Galileo from the walls to place their own. Many people offered him their homes: “Fidel, this is your house.” When someone expressed their mistrust, they said to themselves: “If Fidel is a communist, put me on the list.”
And in the tumultuous mobs they called out for “to the wall” [execution] for their adversaries. If it is idolized, if an idol is raised to an altar, from there our destiny will rule with an iron fist. The Cuban people, with their cries for freedom and “Patria y Vida” [Homeland and Life], have just brought down from that altar all those who today have tried to establish themselves as supreme sovereign.
None of the Eastern European countries that escaped this totalitarian dictatorship had a history of civic struggle as long as Cuba’s, and consequently as fruitful for the collective consciousness of its people. Even from the brutal response of the repressive forces we have accumulated valuable experiences.
Threats, gags, and jailings don’t matter. A people who are not afraid to say what they think and who act not as unjust laws dictate but as their own conscience dictates, is already, in fact, free.
Because freedom is not granted by governments, nor by laws, not even, in the end, by bars and chains, but by the will to be free in thought, in words and in actions. The rest will follow.
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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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Angry scenes at Haiti airport as deported migrants arrive

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, ReutersAngry scenes broke out at Haiti’s main airport after migrants were deported to the country from the US. On Tuesday, migrants at the airport in Port-au-Prince rushed back towards the plane they had arrived on, while others threw shoes at the jet. Last weekend, the US started flying out migrants from a Texas border town which has seen an influx in recent weeks. About 13,000 would-be immigrants have gathered under a bridge connecting Del Rio in Texas to Ciudad Acuña in Mexico.Chaos unfolded at Toussaint Louverture airport as one man attempted to re-board the aircraft. The plane’s crew rushed to close the jet’s doors in time, Reuters news agency reports. Video footage taken a the airport shows people scrambling for their personal belongings after their bags were dumped out of the plane. There are reports that some migrants were not told they would be returning to Haiti. According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there were two separate incidents at the airport on Tuesday. A source told NBC News that the pilots on board one of the flights was assaulted on arrival in Haiti and three US immigration officers were also injured. The removal of migrants has been criticised by Partners In Health, an NGO that has been working in the country. “During a challenging and dangerous period for Haiti, it is unthinkably cruel to send men, women and children back to what many of them do not even call ‘home’ anymore”. About 4,000 people have either been deported or moved to other processing centres, according to DHS. image source, ReutersFrom Thursday, flights could be ramped up to as many as seven a day, according to the Washington Post. The migrants have been waiting in a makeshift camp in temperatures of 37C (99F). Local officials have struggled to provide them with food and adequate sanitation. Most of those at the camp are Haitians, but there are also Cubans, Peruvians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans present.Many Haitians left the country after a devastating earthquake in 2010, and a large number of those in the camp had been living in Brazil or other South American countries and travelled north after being unable to secure jobs or legal status.This year has brought further hardship for the impoverished country. In July, Haiti’s president was assassinated – and in August it suffered another deadly earthquake.

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Does the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Have a Future?

The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, after his arrival in Mexico to attend the Celac summit, with the Mexican Foreign Secretary, Marcelo Ebrard. (Twitter / @ SRE_mx)
14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Valencia, 18 September 2021 — As might be expected, this Saturday the official Castroist press turns to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which is celebrating its sixth summit in Mexico and which has justified the official visit to that country of the Cuban communist leader, received with great fanfare but little money, by Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Amlo). After all, the Morena Party is an organization that shares many ideals and principles with the Cuban Communist Party. Birds of a feather flock together. Cuba’s State newspaper Granma titled its article Celac has the floor, but I believe, however, that the most important thing is to think about whether Celac has a future.
The answer is much more speculative and less emphatic than these communist declamations to which Granma has us accustomed, as if it were a question of glossing a permanent historical feat. Hopefully one day the editorial committee of this newspaper will realize how ridiculous they appear to the world. I hope it will be soon, and in a free nation in which one of the fundamental principles to be respected is freedom of the press.
Let’s go to the matter at hand, does Celac have a future?
It should be remembered briefly that this organization arose under two fundamental principles: opposing the Organization of American States (OAS) until it disappeared and assuming the principles of the so-called 21st century socialism, which was gaining space in the region through the flow of Chavista oil that had been put at the service of this adventure. The organization’s agenda was created by Chávez, Lula and the material author, Fidel Castro, who in the last years of his life dreamed of a regional project that would serve to end up pitting some countries against others.
Fortunately, the second principle is far from being achieved and does not seem feasible. Furthermore, Celac, its principles, its funding, its political relations and interdependencies have shown notable limitations in facing the global challenges of this century. Specifically, the arrival of covid-19 has thrown more than a few shadows of doubt on the usefulness of this organization.
For this reason, this sixth summit is interesting, because speculation about Celac will be on the table, no matter how much diplomacy has tried to soften the positions and reach an agreement that allows the continuity of the project, revitalizes its organization and gives it new airs right. This is a very difficult time when countries, for obvious reasons, have to focus on solving their own problems and stop fooling around with adventures that only fit in heated minds, many of them physically or politically disappeared from the face of the region.
That is why the organization has decided to focus on the first principle: ending the OAS. A good example of the Celac crisis is that instead of advancing projects and tasks for the organization, some leaders have recovered the old thesis of forcing the disappearance of the OAS as a matter of priority. Those who defend this proposal, led by Amlo, think that Celac can only have a future to the extent that the OAS is ended, while at the same time they see it as a body subordinate to Washington.
Serious mistake. Strengthening Celac does not have to do with disappearing the OAS or any other regional cooperation project, such as the Ibero-American Cooperation Summits promoted from Madrid, which this year turned into hilarious speeches against the United States embargo.
Contrary to the ’Uniformity Theses’ everything fits in diversity. To impose a single way of seeing things and to demand a painful uniqueness based on common principles that, luckily, not all countries endorse, is absurd. This search for unity within diversity is a founding trap for Celac, from which, when it falls, it is very difficult to get out. A good example: what some authoritarian leaders describe as “foreign interference”, others see just the opposite, and therefore it is difficult to advance.
Charactierizing the OAS as “discredited, dying entity, contrary to Latin American interests and compliant with the script drawn up by the United States Government to keep our peoples subdued” is another good example of that “uniformitarian” language that wants to be imposed on all the governments of Latin America, when precisely not all think the same. Also, someone could end up thinking the same of Celac.
All these Celac champions should realize that if the OAS has not disappeared there is a reason why, and that rather than seeking changes in attitude or radical positions, it makes much more sense to advance in cooperation, dialogue and understanding, because at the end, that’s what it’s about. And not to pit some nations against others, from positions that are contrary to public liberties, respect for human rights and plural democracy.
The communists of the State newspaper Granma call this strategy of understanding and conciliation “cosmetic band-aids” or “non-conceptual reform” and declare their commitment to the destruction of the OAS, a company in which they identify the members of 21st century socialism, as if these were the only ones that exist in Latin America or have the right to impose their principles and ideas on the rest.
Focusing the future of Celac on the disappearance of the OAS seems to be the objective of this sixth summit. They will forget about covid-19, the poor economic results in the region, as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Carribean (ECLAC) has recently reported, the need to boost world trade and investment by transnational companies, to ensure stable and quality employment for citizens of their countries and thus overcome their economic backwardness.
They will not talk about that, because whoever finances this whole type of adventure, the Chavista Venezuela, is not there for great celebrations, and, in the absence of the black gold of that country, it is necessary to find some way to finance the Celac and its existence.
I am very afraid that this will be the matter to be discussed in this sixth summit, but Granma and the official Cuban press will not say much about it. They are justifying with unpresentable arguments the continuous blackouts that the country suffers, also originating from the lower supplies of Venezuelan oil.
Will Mexico and Amlo be able to carry Celac on their shoulders? I doubt it. Because it is one thing to raise a battle and quite another to win it.
And the stage is not for this type of show. The sixth summit will be like the others: a collection of silly messages and photographs, and someone telling Díaz-Canel: “You eat and you go.”
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This text was originally published on the Cubaeconomía ____________
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Covid: Immune therapy from llamas shows promise

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage source, University of ReadingA Covid therapy derived from a llama named Fifi has shown “significant potential” in early trials.It is a treatment made of “nanobodies”, small, simpler versions of antibodies, which llamas and camels produce naturally in response to infection. Once the therapy has been tested in humans, scientists say, it could be given as a simple nasal spray – to treat and even prevent early infection. Prof James Naismith described nanobodies as “fantastically exciting”. Prof Naismith, who is one of the lead researchers and director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxfordshire, explained that coronavirus-infected rodents treated with the new nanobody nasal spray fully recovered within six days. The treatment has, so far, been tested only in those lab animals, but Public Health England said it was among the “most effective SARS-CoV-2 neutralising agents” it had ever tested.This apparent covid-fighting potency comes from the strength with which nanobodies bind to the virus. Just like our own antibodies, virus-specific nanobodies latch on to and bind to viruses and bacteria that invade our bodies. This binding essentially tags an invading virus with an immune “red flag”, to allow the rest of the body’s immune armoury to target it for destruction.The nanobodies that these researchers produced – with the help of a llama’s immune system – bind particularly tightly. “That’s where we had some help from Fifi the ‘Franklin [Institute] llama’,” explained Prof Naismith. By vaccinating Fifi with a tiny, non-infectious piece of the viral protein, the scientists stimulated her immune system to make the special molecules. The scientists then carefully picked out and purified the most potent nanobodies in a sample of Fifi’s blood; those that matched the viral protein most closely, like the key that best fits a specific lock. The team was then able to grow large quantities of the specially selected, most potent molecules. Prof Naismith told BBC News: “The immune system is so marvellous that it still does better than we can – evolution is hard to beat.” Professor Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist from the University of Manchester said the new development was “exciting but still quite early”. “We more data on efficacy and safety before we move to human trials,” she added. “However it’s very promising nonetheless and the fact it may be cheaper and easier to administer is a plus. Covid-19 will be, unfortunately, with us for a while yet, so more treatments will be needed.”Professor Naismith and his collaborators, who published their research in the journal, Nature Communications agreed that, even with the success of the Covid vaccines, having effective treatments in the future would be very important.”Not all of the world is being vaccinated at the same speed,” he said, “and there remains a risk of new variants capable of bypassing vaccine immunity emerging.”

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Uruguay’s President Denounces the Imprisonment of Opponents in Cuba

OnSaturday, Uruguay’s president Lacalle Pou speaking at the VI Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), denounced that in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua “there is no full democracy.” (@PPT_CELAC)
14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 18 September 2021 — The president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, and the Cuban leader, Miguel Díaz-Canel, staged an exchange of accusations this Saturday at the VI Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), in Mexico. The discussion began when the Uruguayan showed his concern because on the island, and in Venezuela and Nicaragua “there is not a full democracy” and opponents are imprisoned.
Lacalle’s speech began by recognizing that two principles promoted by Celac are “self-determination and non-intervention” but he also described democracy as “the best system that individuals have to be free” and that, for that reason, “participating in this forum does not mean being complacent.”
After that introduction, his criticisms were even more direct: “When one sees that in certain countries there is no full democracy, when the separation of powers is not respected, when the repressive apparatus is used to silence protests, when opponents are imprisoned, when human rights are not respected, we in a calm but firm voice must say with concern that we look seriously at what is happening in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”
Lacalle’s statements gave rise to a strong exchange of words between the two leaders, which was only partially broadcast on Cuban television, but which is already generating comments in support of the Uruguayan on social networks for his direct comments to the President and First Secretary of the Communist Party on the island.
Visibly annoyed, Díaz-Canel responded to Lacalle saying that with his words he was showing a lack of knowledge of the Cuban reality. “The courage of the Cuban people was demonstrated for six decades. Listen to your people who collected more than 700,000 signatures against the LUC (Law of Urgent Consideration). Monroism and the OAS is what you have just defended,” he said.
The Uruguayan asked for the floor again and addressed Díaz-Canel: “If there is something that is true in my country, luckily, it is that the opposition can gather signatures, in my country, luckily, the opposition has democratic resources to lodge complaints, that is the great difference with the Cuban regime,” he added.
Lacalle went further and added: “I just want to quote, and they are not my words, it is a very beautiful song and those who sing it feel oppressed by the Government: ’No longer shall flow the blood / Of those who dare to think differently / Who told you Cuba is yours? / Indeed, Cuba is for all my people’,” he added, quoting the song Patria y Vida.

El miedo de la dictadura de @DiazCanelB es tal, que mandó a que cortaran la transmisión para que en #Cuba ñó escucharan la estrofa de #PatriaYVida con al que el presidente de #Uruguay @LuisLacallePou respondió a sus irrespetuosas palabras. pic.twitter.com/bfRDIgv0Rf
— Mario J. Pentón (@MarioJPenton) September 18, 2021

Díaz-Canel, abruptly demanding the floor, replied in a sour tone: “I think that things should not be left unclear, it seems that President Lacalle has very bad taste in music, that song is totally a lie and a construction among some artists against the Cuban revolution.”
The clash between the leaders of Uruguay and Cuba was not the only one on a day in which Celac has shown its deep internal differences, most of them linked to the issue of respect for human rights, authoritarian regimes and repression against dissent.
Mario Abdo Benítez, president of Paraguay, asserted that his presence at the summit “in no sense or circumstance represents recognition of the Government of Mr. Nicolás Maduro.”
“There is no change in the position of my Government and I think it is gentlemanly to say it up front,” said Abdo Benítez. Immediately Maduro responded by shouting from the other side of the room: “Nor mine to yours!”
Later, when it was the turn of the Venezuelan ruler before the microphone, he went further: “And I say to the president of Paraguay: Set the date, place and time for a debate on democracy! In Paraguay, in Venezuela and Latin America! And we are ready to give it, name your place!”
For his part, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, inaugurated the summit, in which more than a dozen leaders of the region participate, with the call that something similar to the European Union (EU) be built in the area.
In his welcome message López Obrador highlighted the need to “build on the American continent something similar to what was the economic community that gave rise to the current European Union.”
He also criticized the lack of support from the United States Government, as he stressed that since 1961 that country invested 10 billion dollars in 10 years (82 billion dollars at the current exchange rate) for the benefit of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It has been the only important thing that has been done in terms of cooperation for development in our continent in more than half a century,” he said.
He affirmed that it is time to end “the lethargy” and propose a “new and vigorous” relationship, in addition to replacing the policy of “blockades and mistreatment with the option of respecting ourselves.”
For López Obrador, it would be a gesture of “goodwill” for the United States to make donations of vaccines against covid-19 to countries in the region that have not had the possibility of protecting their peoples against the coronavirus.
Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel denounced, for the second time since his arrival in Mexico, the “opportunistic campaign of US interests against Cuba” and that the US embargo has been tightened while the island suffers “conditions due to the pandemic.”
“The interventionism of the United States is a flagrant violation of international rights,” Diaz-Canel said.
For his part, the Bolivian president, Luis Arce, criticized the Organization of American States (OAS) and called for an organization “that functions with democratic practices and that responds to reality by supporting the sovereignty of the countries and without interference.”
“The OAS is useless,” said Arce, who praised Mexico’s work in favor of Celac as an organization that defends that “financial interests cannot be above social interests.”
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Iron Fist Against Swimmers in Cuba: Fines up to 3,000 Pesos

Among the prohibitions is sitting on the emblematic wall of the Malecón or even walking along the sidewalk closest to the sea, where there are police operations. (EFE)
14ymedio, Havana, 17 September 2021 — Among the announcements of the reopening of tourism in Cuba for November 15, even with the health risks that this implies, the official press announced that from August 2 to September 10, 1,731 swimmers were fined for “violating regulations” and endangering their own life and that of other people.
This iron fist is wielded against Cuban swimmers, who were fined between 2,000 and 3,000 pesos, while at the International Hotel in Varadero, one of the 15 currently operating and with 20% occupancy, foreign tourists are allowed to enjoy the sun and seashore without limitations.
In August alone, on the social networks of the Sol Palmeras hotel complex, in Varadero, foreign visitors could be seen in images enjoying the beach without any health-related restriction.
The delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in Matanzas, Ivis Fernández Peña, told the AFP agency on September 8 that they “managed to turn” Varadero into a haven of sun and beach. Since April only “0.1% of the more than 50,000” tourists received have tested positive for covid-19, said the delegate.
The State newspaper Granma took up the information on the fines for swimmers and emphasized that it is a measure to confront “indiscipline in beach areas” with the application of Decree Law 31, which regulates the protocol at the current stage.
The offenders, it was said, were “detected” at the intersections of 1st and 70th streets in La Puntilla, and on the beach at 16th and La Concha, “a situation that increases on weekends,” with the deployment of the police in the municipalities of Playa and La Habana del Este.
It is even forbidden to sit on the emblematic wall of the Malecón or even walk along the sidewalk closest to the sea, a measure that has fueled the anger of Havanans, used to spending long hours enjoying the sea breeze, meeting friends or listening to some music in what they call “the longest bench in the world,” one several kilometers long.
For its part, Tribuna de La Habana also referred to 63 people fined in “East Havana, including the Camilo Cienfuegos district, and 51 in the municipality of Playa.” Hence, the president of the Defense Council in the capital, Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, and the governor, Reinaldo García Zapata, demanded “greater rigor” from the authorities and called on “the public to respect health measures and standards.”
Havana, a coastal city with an ancient tradition of swimming along its coastline, has gone through the hot summer with its beaches and Malecon closed to those who want to take a dip, even if they just want to get close to the waters to cool off in the middle of the intense heatwave.
The closure of the East Beaches to swimmers, the most popular in the capital, has been a severe blow to the entire economic network of towns such as Santa María, Boca Ciega and Guanabo, in which a large part of the families survive by renting rooms, serving food or managing other entertainments for those who come looking for a quiet day in front of the sea.
Instead, Guanabo has practically become a ghost town, in which the few restaurants and cafes that continue to offer their services to the public only do so via take away and do not allow any customers to sit in their premises. The sands are constantly patrolled by uniformed men who warn those who arrive that they cannot swim.
These strict restrictions have been highly questioned, not only by those who point out the devastating economic effect it has on the private fabric of the area, but also remember that open and ventilated places are the least risky for getting COVID-19. Critics question the fact that state stores are kept open behind closed doors and with long lines, while families who want to enjoy the sea breeze are penalized.
According to information from the Ministry of Health, in the last seven days, Havana has registered 40 deaths from covid-19 and 4,028 infections. This Friday it reported 501 cases and four deaths: two in Boyeros, one in Marianao and one in San Miguel del Padrón.
The sanctions released this month are in addition to the 549 imposed between February and July of this year by the control and supervision bodies of the Havana government and the police. The highest incidence was detected in the popular councils of Guanabo and Cojímar.
In July of this year the opening of beaches was denied. On the 21st of that month, the figures for the pandemic showed 1,222 infections by covid-19, for a total of 7,745 cases. “When the epidemiological situation of the territory improves and access to these areas is approved, the news will be duly reported by the relevant official media,” the capital’s government networks announced.
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Ongoing Blackouts, the Story that Never Ends in Cuba

The National Electrical Union confirmed that power outages will continue on the island. (EFE)
14ymedio, Havana, 19 September 2021 — It’s the story that never ends,” says Leonardo, one of many people affected by the island’s ongoing power outages, in response to the explanation offered by Unión Eléctrica (UNE), the state power company. On Sunday morning UNE director Lazaro Guerra claimed power had been completely restored but warned that there would still be outages.
Though power has been restored, it does not mean that the problems with electric service the country has faced in recent days have been solved, as Guerra acknowledges. This was reiterated in a social media post which states that, if current conditions continue, “expectations are that disruptions in electricity service may occur due to a deficit in generating capacity.”
The company offered its “apologies for the inconvenience,” which only further frustrated those affected. “I don’t know how long this will go on. Every day there are new outages and repairs. When will they finally restore service everywhere?” asks Linney
Karlos made forty-seven calls to the designated UNE telephone line, #18888, for reporting power outage. “When I wasn’t getting a busy signal, it rang but no one answered… Nine hours without power and, from what I read, it’s going to be the same tomorrow. It’s infuriating to see what’s going on and that nothing is being done about it. Every day there’s a new breakdown and the saddest part is that they still charge you during the outages.”
14ymedio reported that a disruption on Saturday left several provinces in the dark until Friday night, a situation that in some cases lasted until dawn. The blackout was described in the state-run press as “an oscillation in the 220-thousand volt transmission lines.”
This unusual anomaly caused thermoelectric plants in Holguín and Santiago de Cuba, as well as engines at a fossil fuel power station in Moa, to drop off the national electric grid, causing a fall in generating capacity that led to a widespread blackout.
14ymedio received several reports indicating that by the early morning power remained out in areas of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and several provinces in central Cuba. It was also confirmed on Sunday that the outages had spread to Guantanamo and Granma provinces.
Cubans are all too familiar with Guerra’s explanations: the failures are the result of technical problems resulting from lack of timely maintenance, which depletes the system’s reserves when demand is high.
The bad news is that maintenance to restore generating capacity is planned but, according to Guerra, it is dependent on the ability to get financing as well as the state of the nation’s electric grid.
At the moment outages are reported at CTE Otto Parallada, Units 5 and 7 at CTE Maximo Gomez, CTE Antonio Guiteras, Unit 5 at CTE Tenth of October, and Units 3 and 4 at CTE Antonio Maceo.
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