Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Castro Clan is Fighting over Point Zero, Fidel Castro’s Home

The Castro Clan is Fighting over Point Zero, Fidel Castro's Home / Juan
Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 13 January 2017 — Point Zero has unleashed a conflict
between the Castro Soto del Valles and their cousins of the "emporium,"
the Castro Espins (Raul Castro's children), who are trying to expel
Dalia, Fidel Castro's widow, and her children from the strategic property.

It all seem carefully calculated, to maintain the appearance of a
well-groomed, well-brought-up happy family. Health, fame, money, power,
good moods and excellent humor; but less than three months since Fidel's
death, the fight between the members of the clan for the exercise of
power over the famous parcel that for years served as the refuge of the
former commander-in-chief, has become the beginning of a great soap
opera that promises to have many episodes.

Located to the west of Havana, in the municipality of Playa, in the
Jaimanitas neighborhood, exactly at 232 Street between 222nd and 238th,
is Point Zero, the apple of discord.

"They are pushing to get Dalia out of Point Zero," says one of the
bodyguards of the late Commander-in-Chief who, in addition, adds that he
feels hurt because none of the bodyguards were invited to the funeral.

"A lack of respect, a personal affront, and to justify the eviction they
come up with three cheap justifications," says the source.

1 – They are going to destroy everything so that nothing is left and no
one else can access the "last estate" of Fidel Castro.

2 – They are going to convert Point Zero into a museum with limited
access. Remodel it and include it as a part of an exclusive and
obligatory tour that will only be shown to important visitors.

3 – They are going to maintain the property as the temporary residence
for future Heads of State of the island.

I do not know what the outcome will be of this truculent story. But what
I do know, is that, by resolution, the properties used and enjoyed by
the maximum leaders do not appear on the Registry of Property because
they are a part of the "Associated Housing and Possessions Linked to the
Council of State" and cannot be inherited.

The provision is that the widows abandon the property where they lived
with the political leader. This was the case with the wives of José
Alberto "Pepín" Naranjo and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, to cite
the examples of two deceased leaders.

But of course, there is always an exception. I know of one.
The "leadership of the country," understood to mean Raul Castro, for
personal interest and affection, is authorized under the
incontrovertible power of … "I feel like it," to transfer a property
from the regime's "Basic Possession" to "Personal Property."

"Dalia can be called the most varied epithets; but she was the wife of
Fidel and dedicated herself to that man. If they confront her, I assure
you that we are going to see the unleashing of the tongue of more than
one* Castro Soto del Valle" according to the firm statement of one of
the many former daughters-in-law of the dead commander.

*Translator's note: Fidel and Dalia had five sons and Fidel had another
son with his first wife and other acknowledged children.

Source: The Castro Clan is Fighting over Point Zero, Fidel Castro's Home
/ Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -

We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Land

We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Land… / Somos+

Somos+, 14 January 2017 — Forty-eight hours have passed since we have
officially declared ourselves, as a movement, with regards to the
elimination of the "Wet foot/Dry foot" policy. There is a reason for
that: We do not want to say anything without, at least, consulting the
National Council and the greatest possible number of active members.
Also, it was prudent to read and listen to all the explanations to
correctly understand the scope of the measure.

Today we affirm that, in the long term, we consider it positive for Cuba
as a country, a nation and a homeland.

We are deeply pained by the situation of thousands of Cubans stranded in
distant countries, almost all of us have some family member in this
situation. We know their expenses have been huge as have their
sacrifices. But logic tells us that the departure of the all the people
of Cuba will not fix the problems that face us.

On the contrary, to the extent that the already limited number of
energetic and dissatisfied youth leave the island, the ability to
rebuild our society is ever more distant, starting from the profound
changes which can only be driven by millions of people determined to
take control of the reins of the nation.

Many argue for the exceptionality of the political situation of Cubans,
we among them. But it was precisely the thousands of Cubans traveling
through Latin American who are leaving us alone in this thesis, because
when we put our cameras in front of people they always say the same
thing: "We are not leaving because of political problems, but to improve
our economic situation."

Some even throw in slogans in support of Fidel and Raul, or proudly show
off tattoos with images of the creators of the system in which they
cannot support themselves. It was these images that convinced a great
share of international public opinion that there is no difference
between Cuban emigrants and those from the rest of the continent. So?

In our opinion, if this attitude had been put into practice 20 years
ago, or never existed (as it doesn't exist in many former-Soviet
controlled countries), another rooster (or hen) would be singing today
in Cuba — that is, everything would be different.

If doctors are treated like modern slaves, they should unionize with or
without permission, and no longer accept this business model that is a
thorn in their sides. Those serving on "missions" abroad can take
advantage of the ability to use social media and their access to the
news media to unite in a just fight for their rights.

If young people don't have opportunities, they also should join together
in their institutes and universities and peacefully express their
demands. Do no accept that some gentlemen who have lost all contact with
reality have condemned them to material and spiritual poverty for the
rest of their lives.

If parents do not see a future for their children, demand changes in the
educational system so that the children will be prepared to be 21st
century citizens. Do not let the authorities use their children as
instruments of political propaganda and do not teach them, at home, to
remain silent and bear up "until we can leave."

We will probably sound harsh, weird, evil, like oddballs, in the midst
of this whole wave of more or less justifiable sentimentality, but with
full honesty, we are tired of this sick and victimizing mentality that
describes us as the mental and political underdogs of the world, which
we are not.

We are comforted by the idea of expressing this opinion from here. We
hope that with time this measure will contribute to more of our
compatriots taking responsibility for our land, wherever they are. Our
entire family cannot move to the neighbor's house, much less because we
don't like "our own parents"? Because those gentlemen are not our
parents, not even our friends or allies… they are common people like you
and me and can and should be exchanged, dismissed, replaced, expelled
from their jobs if this house doesn't work. And… it doesn't work.

Let us stay and fix our own house. Together, we will be more.

Somos+ (We Are More) National Council


14 January 2016

Source: We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Land… / Somos+ –
Translating Cuba -

Vicissitudes of Paying with Two Currencies

Vicissitudes of Paying with Two Currencies / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 15 January 2017 – In March of 2014 the experiment of
allowing customers to pay with Cuban pesos (CUP)* in hard currency
stores, which previously only accepted Cuban Convertible pesos (CUC),
began. The measure is being extended throughout the country and now
includes food services and hotel reservations. However, the scarcity of
small change has significantly affected the initiative.

There are no coins, nor pesos. Please cooperate," reads a sign next to
the cash register at this hardware store in Havana. In line, people
check their pockets to count out the exact change for a hose, a light
bulb, or a simple connector for the TV antennae. The worst are those who
pay with Cuban pesos, which almost always implies change in coins of
one, five or ten centavos in in CUC.

"Compañero, don't be so strict," the clerk pleads with a customer who is
protesting the difficulty. But then someone appears who pays with 25
centavo pieces in CUC for a brush that costs 3 CUC. Everyone breathes a
sigh of relief. At least this time they have managed to overcome the
obstacles of the dual currency system.

Source: Vicissitudes of Paying with Two Currencies / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -

‘El Nuevo Herald’ Asks Obama To ‘Open The Door’ To Stranded Cubans’

'El Nuevo Herald' Asks Obama To 'Open The Door' To Stranded Cubans' /

14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2017 — An editorial in El Nuevo Herald and
the Miami Herald asks Barack Obama to open the door to Cubans stranded
in Central America and Mexico after his "sudden decision" to end the wet
foot/dry foot policy. The text, published Friday, says that the
presidential order "has had unexpected consequences that will lead to
unwarranted human suffering."

The newspaper notes that the US decision to withdraw the automatic entry
into its territory of Cubans, "has left thousands of Cubans stuck in
transit at the Mexican border, on the Florida Straits and even at Miami
International Airport."

The editorial chronicles the tragedy of some families who "were
separated simply because of bad timing — some family members were
processed through Border Patrol before the president's order took effect
while their relatives were still in line." A situation that has left
migrants "stuck in limbo" who, "if they return to Cuba, they will not be
treated kindly, and they cannot stay in Central America or Mexico for
long without facing deportation."

The Cuban authorities, however, have stressed that returned persons
"will rejoin society normally unless they have committed a crime during
their irregular immigration process or have debts with justice."

El Nuevo Herald believes that the US president "can help" and should
"modify his order and allow in anyone who has proof they left Cuba by
January 12." An opportunity for the current president to end his term
with "a humanitarian gesture."

The South Florida newspaper calls for just such a step, as migrants
"were not given any warning this would occur as they were making their
long journey from Cuba." The paper says, "there is no turning back for
them. They bet their future on the promise of America, just as so many
others from so many other countries have done."

The elimination of the Parole Program for Cuban Medical Professionals is
also strongly criticized in the text, which calls for extending "a
generous hand" to those health professionals and "giving them entry into
the United States."

The editorial boards of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald are seeking
"a small window of opportunity for Cubans standing face-to-face with a
shut door." Should Obama not live up to their expectations, they look to
"President-elect Donald Trump to show mercy and amend the order."

The text clarifies that, "once those who are in transit have arrived,
the door can be closed" and calls for "beginning the difficult task of
carrying out a real immigration reform that will continue to promise the
opportunities of the American dream."

Cuban migrants stranded on their way to the United States "should have
the opportunity to finish their trip," the editorial concludes.

Translator's note: This translation uses the Miami Herald version of the
statements in the editorial – rather than a direct translation from the
Spanish – where the topic addressed is substantially the same.

Source: 'El Nuevo Herald' Asks Obama To 'Open The Door' To Stranded
Cubans' / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

Police Raid the House of Activist Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito Del Cauto

Police Raid the House of Activist Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito Del Cauto
/ 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2017 — At six on Saturday morning the
police raided the house of Belkis Cantillo, leader of the Citizens for
Democracy movement in Palmarito del Cauto, Santiago de Cuba. The
officers showed up a few hours after about a dozen women of the
organization walked to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, as
reported to 14ymedio by Jose Daniel Ferrer, coordinator of the Patriotic
Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

The opposition leader said that on Friday the activists arrived at the
church consecrated to the Virgin of Charity, patroness of Cuba, "with
the intention of reclaiming the space that the political police have
taken away from us in the Sanctuary." This morning the police entered
Cantillo's house in the municipality Mella "where elderly people and
children live," says Ferrer.

"Several witnesses report that the political police arrested a
19-year-old girl who is six months pregnant, Martha Beatriz Ferrer
Cantillo," said Ferrer, former prisoner of the Black Spring. He adds
that "the telephones of family members have been siezed, so it has
become impossible to communicate with them."

Citizens for Democracy is a group formed by women and founded in
September 2014. Its members are residents in the towns of Palma Soriano,
Palmarito del Cauto and the city of Santiago de Cuba. The fundamental
demands of the organization focus on respect for human rights and civic

Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests in
the country, a figure that "puts the Government of Cuba in first place
in all of Latin America," said the report of the independent organization.

Source: Police Raid the House of Activist Belkis Cantillo in Palmarito
Del Cauto / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

Cubans in Panama ‘Irregularly’ Will Have to Leave the Country

Cubans in Panama 'Irregularly' Will Have to Leave the Country / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Miami, 13 January 2017 — The more than 100 Cubans who are in
Panama illegally must leave, according to the director of
Panama's National Immigration Service, Javier Carrillo. "They will not
be deported, but immigration law applies," the senior official
told 14ymedio.

Under that law, migrants "in an irregular situation" could be returned
by air to Cuba or taken to Colombia from where they entered Panamanian
territory. More than 80 Cubans are in the shelter set up by Caritas to
welcome the immigrants.

To a question about the situation of Cubans who do not have a visa to
return to Colombia, Carrillo responded: "Is your country not a place?"

"What Obama did is abominable. We did not expect it. We may have some
hope when Donald Trump takes power," says Andrés, one of the Cubans who
have set out on the long road from the island to the US.

To a question about the situation of Cubans who do not have a visa to
return to Colombia, Carrillo responded: "Is your country not a place?"

According to Deacon Victor Luis Berrio, head of Caritas in Panama,
Cubans are not illegal immigrants but "special immigrants."

"We are waiting for the change of government in Washington. In the worst
case, the Church will intercede in their favor so that they are treated
in a special way," he speculates.

According to statistics from Panama's National Migration Service
provided to 14ymedio, during 2016 more than 750 foreigners were returned
to their countries of origin. Of these, only 5 were Cubans.

Most Cubans who arrive in Panama have entered from the border with
Colombia, where they travel after traveling without a visa from Cuba to
Guyana or the Lesser Antilles.

Two large groups of Cubans were transferred through an airlift that the
Government of Panama agreed with Mexico last year. In total, about 5,000
Cubans left on those occasions, but the flow of migrants continued.

"So far [Panama] Immigration has not told us anything nor have officials
come here. We have to wait, we have no choice, "says Andres.

Source: Cubans in Panama 'Irregularly' Will Have to Leave the Country /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

The Drama of Hundreds of Cubans Who Have Their Bags Packed

The Drama of Hundreds of Cubans Who Have Their Bags Packed / 14ymedio,
Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Havana/Miami, 14 January 2017 – Yeny Varela
cried bitterly this Thursday when she heard on national television about
the immediate end to the wet foot/dry foot policy.

Repatriated to Cuba from Mexico after a long month-and-a-half trip from
Ecuador in 2014, and after raising the necessary funds to leave the
country again, her hopes of escape from the Island were ruined.

"I did everything to get to the United States where I have my elderly
aunt and uncle. I went to the embassy, and they denied me a visa, I
walked from Ecuador, and the Mexicans deported me, the last thing I had
managed was a work contract in Mexico for which I paid thousands of
dollars, and now I have lost everything," she laments.

At 32 years of age, this young Havanan believes that the best years of
her life are behind her.

"And now where do I go?" she says.

"They (the US government) are doing that because they believe that they
are going to force a change, but it's not going to happen," she says.
Although everyone is "sick" of that system, no one can protest because
"they disappear you," she says.

"Do you really believe they are going to give you a visa at the embassy?
No one believes that. Don't you realize that once someone has a visa
he's going to stay?" she adds.

Varela is not the only one dressed up with no place to go. In Villa
Clara, Rosa, age 26, had sold her house and all her belongings to begin
the dangerous trip through Guyana.

Her intention was to make the trip that thousands of other migrants have
made in recent years to get to the southern border of the United States.
After the immigration policy change, she is "devastated."

"Our intent was to leave the country in order to live a little better.
There are no opportunities here," she explains. The Villarena does not
plan, however, to go to the United States embassy to seek political asylum.

"I don't involve myself in politics, that doesn't interest me. I wanted
to leave Cuba for economic reasons," she explains.

Now she will have to start again from scratch. Meanwhile she decided to
live with her mother.

Not only in Cuba were migration plans cut short. Throughout the
continent hundreds of Cubans who were headed to the United States border
have seen their plans thwarted.

"I never get involved in politics at all, but Obama has been worse than
Pontius Pilate, seven days from leaving the presidency, it was not for
him to have done such a thing," says Maria Isabel, a Cuban who lives in
Argentina and was preparing her trip to the United States.

"I have left everything behind. I was just taking a small step here in
order to continue my journey," she says.

According to the Cuban, who spent three months awaiting papers to
continue to Mexico, the most misguided thing about the Obama
administration's decision is that it "tackles the consequences but not
the causes."

"How many people have risked or lost their lives? The degree of despair
and frustration is so great that we can only cry," she laments.

The latest statistics from the US Office of Citizenship and Immigration
Services calculate that 56,406 Cuban citizens benefitted in the last
fiscal year from the wet foot/dry foot policy.

After the resumption of relations between Cuba and the US, a migratory
crisis unfolded which had regional repercussions when several thousand
Cubans were stranded in Central America after Nicaragua refused to
permit the islanders to pass.

With the later closure of the Costa Rican and Panamanian borders, the
crisis spread to Colombia and Ecuador when those countries took steps to
prevent mass migration from the Island. Two "air bridges" arranged with
Mexico allowed the evacuation of the Cubans; however, since the
departure of the planes from Panama in May, hundreds of other migrants
continued arriving.

More than 80 Cubans on their way to the United States are in a hostel
run by Caritas, a non-governmental organization tied to the Catholic Church.

One of them, Andres, says that "Obama is abominable" and that they did
not expect it.

His situation was apparently made worse by the Immigration General
Director's statements only a few hours earlier that Cubans must leave
the country.

However, the migrants being sheltered by Caritas have the support of the
Catholic Church, which will intervene to prevent their deportation, as
explained by Deacon Victor Luis Berrio, head of the organization.

At least those in Panama have protection, says Yuniel Ramos, who
together with another 40 Cubans is continuing his journey through
Honduras to get to the American border.

"They will have to do something with us because Cuba won't take us
back," he adds.

But the doors to the United States are now closed for Cubans.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: The Drama of Hundreds of Cubans Who Have Their Bags Packed /
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -