<The IACHR includes Nicaragua on its "black list" and maintains Cuba and Venezuela .

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EFE: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced Thursday that Nicaragua is on its “black list” due to the “de facto” installation of a state of emergency with the abuse of force, the imprisonment of dissident voices and the closure of the media.

This is the first time in 25 years that Nicaragua appears in Chapter IV of the IACHR’s annual report, which this time refers to 2018 and each year names the states of the American continent where respect for human rights deserves the “special attention” of the Washington-based organization.

In statements to Efe, Antonia Urrejola, Nicaragua’s IACHR rapporteur, explained that the establishment of this state of exceptionality “de facto” has been considered by the organization as a “determining element” to incorporate the Central American country to the “black list”.

“The grave human rights crisis (…) has lasted more than eight months due to the de facto installation of a state of emergency characterized by the abusive exercise of public force.

“The serious human rights crisis that the country is going through has extended for more than eight months due to the de facto installation of a state of exception characterized by the abusive exercise of public force to repress dissident voices against the government,” Urrejola said.

The Nicaraguan executive was also pointed out by the IACHR due to the “massive, systematic and serious repressive state response against the population” from the protests that began last April against the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, and that have left 325 dead, according to the agency itself.

According to the document, the Nicaraguan government has rejected the report because it considers it to be unscrupulous and politicized and, furthermore, assured that it reflects “destabilizing political interests against the State of Nicaragua,” whose president considers the protests an attempt at a “coup d’état” orchestrated by Washington.

Nicaragua was last placed on the “black list” in the 1993 report, after having been included in that list every year since 1982.

With respect to Venezuela, which has been on the list every year since 2005, the IACHR asserts that the “structural” conditions affecting the rights of Venezuelans have “worsened” and have led to “a serious political, social, and economic crisis, to the point where there is currently an absence of the rule of law.

The Commission referred to the elections held last May, won by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and whose results were not recognized by the opposition, which led the president of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, to proclaim himself head of state on January 23.

The IACHR did not mention Guaidó because the report refers to 2018, but affirms that “the way” in which the May elections were held “deepened the institutional crisis”.

The IACHR did not mention Guaidó because the report refers to 2018, but affirms that “the way” in which the May elections were held “deepened the institutional crisis.

The agency urged the Venezuelan state to “re-establish constitutional order,” to release those detained for exercising their right to protest and to avoid “illegal or arbitrary detentions,” as well as to take the necessary measures to guarantee access to food and medicine.

On Cuba, in the list every year since 1984, the IACHR warns of “arbitrary restrictions” on the right to vote and freedom of expression, as well as “violations” of due process.

Specifically, the IACHR believes that the process of debating the new Cuban Constitution suffered “serious flaws” and questioned the process that led to the appointment of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who replaced Raul Castro in April 2018.

The Cuban Executive was the only one that did not respond since it does not recognize the competence of the IACHR because it depends on the OAS.

In this regard, the agency said that “during the development of the electoral process” that led to the election of Diaz-Canel “was observed the persistence of conditions that prevent the genuine political participation of various sectors of society.

The governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba know that they have been included in Chapter IV since late January, when the IACHR sent them the draft report for comments.

The Cuban Executive was the only one who did not respond since it does not recognize the competence of the IACHR because it depends on the OAS, which Cuba refuses to reinstate because it considers that the organization is an instrument of U.S. imperialism to influence Latin America.

Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 after the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro and, although the organization lifted that suspension in 2009, the island refused to return.


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Abortion in Cuba (I): Boomerang effect

aborto cubaAbortion in Cuba, a growing trend. Photo taken from the Internet

GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba: Many women defend abortion because they consider it a right. But in the face of this position, a disturbing question arises: who defends the right to life of those in the womb?

Abortion was decriminalized in Cuba in 1936, but then it could only be done under the conditions imposed by law. In keeping with the moral relativism it imposed, Castroism liberalized abortion since 1965, the practice of which reached extraordinary proportions in the seventies, eighties and nineties of the last century, a phenomenon that continues in spite of the fact that some official media report that there is a tendency to decrease, although this affirmation may not be true at all.

By removing the legal restrictions that existed on the practice of abortion, the Cuban regime not only departed from continental tradition, but made it as natural as going to the movies. The abuse of what many classify as a conquest of the revolution has consequences: irresponsible sexual behavior or complete ignorance about sex education, something that doesn’t seem to have changed much. The country’s poor economic situation, the impossibility for young couples to have adequate housing, and the high prices of the basket and other essential goods for raising a baby with dignity also contribute to this, although the latter is the sole responsibility of an economically inefficient regime.

As if we were not facing an extremely worrying situation for the future of the country, many people who occupy important responsibilities in state institutions related to this issue stubbornly defend the right to abort, without taking into account that beings who are going to be deprived of life cannot defend themselves.

An article signed by Liliet Heredero and published by BBC Mundo, with the title Cuba: When abortion is an alternative to the contraceptive method, assures that contrary to what happens in most Latin American countries, in Cuba there is a social and moral tolerance to abortion and its practice is frequent.

According to data recorded by the Johnston Archive in 2015, the abortion rate in Cuba is among the highest in the world.

Everything seems to indicate that despite the magnitude of this problem, many young Cuban women have no real knowledge of its physical and psychological consequences.

Yindra Garcia ̶ a 28-year-old boy and mother of a one-year-old baby when interviewed by Liliet ̶ said she decided to have her child because she was afraid to have another abortion, since she had had nine from the age of 20 until then.

In 2009, more than half of the infertility cases of women treated in health centers were caused by the sequelae of one or two abortions.

Alarming figures

Although some articles related to the subject, available on the Internet, cite as source the figures offered by the Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), the Yearbook corresponding to 2018 does not offer any information in this regard.

According to a Cibercuba publication, dated September 1, 2017 in Havana, in 2016, 85,445 abortions were performed on women between the ages of 12 and 49, resulting in 49.1 terminations per 100 pregnancies, half of those performed in 2005, according to the publication.

In order to have another reference on the magnitude of the problem, another news item, this time from the EFE agency, published on January 24th of this year with the title Abortions outnumber births on the Isle of Youth, in Cuba, in that territory 1,200 abortions were registered last year compared to 900 births. If we add to the number of abortions the 1,500 cases of women who had menstrual regulation, we would have that 70% of these (1,050) plus the cases of abortions add up to 2,250, a figure that exceeds 2.5 times the number of births.

The assertion that the practice of abortion in Cuba tends to diminish can be misleading if we follow the testimony given by Dr. María Elena Benítez to Cibercuba in the article cited. This galena published in 2014 a study in which it assured that there is an underestimation of the level of abortions in recent years, given that 70% of menstrual regulations are considered to interrupt an unwanted pregnancy. The doctor’s affirmation is due to the fact that MINSAP does not consider menstrual regulation as a form of abortion ̶ and it is ̶ , enabled in Cuba since 1989 ̶ although other specialists assure that since 1987 ̶ . Menstrual regulation is less invasive because it consists of applying the technique of aspiration of the uterus and is performed on women who have not exceeded six weeks of pregnancy.

According to the figures provided by Liliet Heredero, until 2004 the number of regulations had been increasing, since in 1989 it was 11 per 1000 women of childbearing age and in 2004 it was 36.

Anti-abortionist positions gain ground

Anti-abortionist positions are gaining ground in Cuba, and although they are led by different religious denominations, there are public demonstrations by some MINSAP leaders who, faced with the magnitude of the problem, have warned of its consequences at a time when population ageing is increasing and population growth has gone from low to negative, as thousands of young women continue to opt to leave the country.

Abortion has become a boomerang for castrism, since it harms one of the essential constituent elements of every State, its population.

The government’s very liberal position had a turning point after John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in 1999. From then on, Cuban authorities began to express that abortion is not a contraceptive method.

Cuba Says U.S., Not Canada, Manipulates Diplomatic Health Incidents

Director of United States Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Fernández de Cossio. Photo Reuters

MIAMI, United States – Cuba denounced Donald Trump’s government on Thursday for continuing to refer to health incidents among its diplomats in Havana as “attacks” without presenting any evidence, and said it was part of a broader campaign to damage bilateral relations, according to a Reuters news agency cable.

Both Canada and the United States reduced their embassy staff in Havana after diplomats began complaining of mysterious episodes of dizziness, headaches and nausea two years ago.

“The issue has been highly manipulated politically by the U.S. government, with unfounded accusations, which has been a pretext for taking action against bilateral relations,” Carlos Fernández de Cossio, director of U.S. affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference in Havana.

U.S.-Cuba relations have plummeted since Trump became president once again, reinforcing the trade and travel embargo he has been in Cuba for decades.

“This manipulation is also serving those who want to reinforce the idea that Cuba is a threat and those who opportunistically seek to label Cuba as a country that sponsors terrorism,” Fernandez de Cossio said, according to Reuters.

While Cuba had no doubt that some diplomats had fallen ill, so far there was nothing to suggest that this was not due to a pre-existing condition, natural causes or even psychological suggestions, he said.

In contrast, cooperation with Canada had been much better, the Cuban official said. “Canada made no accusations against Cuba regarding the attacks, Canadian politicians have not come out threatening us or making irresponsible statements.”

However, in January the Cuban government criticized Canada’s decision to reduce the number of diplomatic personnel in Cuba by half after someone else became ill, bringing the total number of Canadians with unexplained symptoms to 14.

At the time, he said the measure would not help solve the mystery and would damage bilateral relations. “We hope that there will be no greater damage to our relations (with Canada), nor do we see any reason why there should be,” Fernandez de Cossio said.

Ortega agrees to release protesters and reform Nicaragua’s electoral system

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EFE: The Nicaraguan government and an opposition alliance agreed on Wednesday to release within 90 days the demonstrators arrested for protesting against President Daniel Ortega and to immediately discuss a reform of the electoral system.

“The parties agree to develop immediately and simultaneously the issues of the release of all prisoners and detainees, and of democracy and electoral reforms,” according to the agreement read by the apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, who acts as an international witness and accompanier of that process.

During a press appearance in the presence of the full negotiators, the parties also announced that they agreed on a negotiating agenda that will be developed broadly at the negotiating table.

The first of the agenda items is to strengthen democracy and electoral reforms for the holding of electoral processes.

The first of the agenda items is to strengthen democracy and electoral reforms for the holding of electoral processes.

In addition, strengthen citizens’ rights and guarantees, and the release, within a maximum period of 90 days, in accordance with the country’s legal system, of all persons imprisoned and detained in the context of the events that occurred from 18 April 2018.

The fourth point concerns the issue of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.

The other items on the agenda will be the mechanisms for implementing the agreements, and international efforts to obtain support for their implementation.

In due course, and by mutual agreement between the parties, the international community will be asked to suspend sanctions to facilitate the right to human, economic and social development of Nicaragua, favouring the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

The delegate of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Ángel Rosadilla, was present during the reading of the common agenda.

The negotiations, which are taking place at the headquarters of the Central American Institute of Business Administration (Incae) in southern Managua, have so far advanced without concrete results, amid mutual distrust and recriminations.

Nicaragua’s agricultural sector urged Daniel Ortega’s government to reach agreements with the opposition to avoid the collapse of agricultural production.

During the day, Nicaragua’s agricultural sector urged Daniel Ortega’s government to reach agreements with the opposition to prevent the collapse of agricultural production.

“The government is disrupting what we had on the economic issue (…), Nicaragua’s problem is socio-political, as long as we don’t have an agreement to do justice (…) free, advanced elections, this is not going to be able to stop,” said the president of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua (Upanic), Michael Healy, in a press conference.

The agricultural sector considers that the economic measures implemented by the Government, in addition to the political decisions adopted since 2018, could cause the suspension of the annual agricultural cycle, which begins within a month, and consequently a worse social outburst than last April.

Meanwhile, deposits in Nicaragua’s commercial banks have fallen 29.5% as a result of the socio-political crisis, according to a report by the non-governmental Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides).

Nicaragua’s GDP contracted by 4% last year and the forecast for 2019 is another contraction of between 7.3% and 10.9%, according to Funides.

As of March 31, 2018, deposits in the national financial system amounted to $5.495 billion dollars, and as of January 31 closed at $3.876 billion dollars, Funides said.

This NGO warned that the contraction of Nicaragua’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year, estimated at at at least 7.3%, will have a downward effect on the number of insured persons by an additional 10.2%.

Nicaragua’s GDP contracted by 4% last year and the forecast for 2019 is for another contraction of between 7.3% and 10.9%, according to Funides, an independent think tank. Ortega’s government projects a decrease of 1.01% this year, according to official data.


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Cuartelero socialism and the peace of the sepulchres

alcoholismo-cuba(File photo)

HAVANA, Cuba. – Although there is nothing more certain than this irrational fear of death, it seems that a growing number of Cubans persist in becoming corpses. I am not only referring to the disturbing throw from a rooftop, to the decision to suffocate with a rope around one’s neck, to the instantaneous consumption of several dozen tranquilizing pills or lethal portions of rodent poison, but also to that death in instalments caused by the ingestion of alcoholic beverages.

In Cuba, suicide continues to be one of the main causes of death, although the official press insists on hiding the figures that point to the existence of a serious psychosocial problem, worsened by the economic crisis that began in 1991, until today, as a result of the suspension of aid from the so-called socialist camp.

In the capital it is very natural to come across groups of heavy drinkers and people who have lost their minds, many of them from the accumulation of misfortunes and the lack of hope to benefit even from partial solutions. Alcohol, even industrial alcohol, previously distilled to reduce its harmful effects, is consumed with total lightness by this segment of the population, victim of alienation and where the increasing presence of young women and men is noted.

This is a phenomenon that belies the government’s cheap enthusiasm for its management successes in all aspects of national affairs.

The administrators of neocastrism boast of the number of university graduates each year, of their ability to organize massive patriotic marches, of the absence of illiterates, of free access to public health and the preservation of monthly deliveries of rationed products, among other achievements, no less publicized, despite the economic setbacks, which they attribute solely and exclusively to the U.S. embargo.

For the sake of objectivity, it would be appropriate to add the revealing number of potentially suicidal alcoholics and orates who roam the streets and sleep in the portals of battered buildings.

The leap forward that television and radio reports describe, and that appear, as spectacular or more spectacular, in the pages of the flat press, is pure mirage. In reality, life in Cuba has to do with upheavals and escapes, nothing to do with prosperity or approaches to the spheres of rationality and calm.

Precisely, alcohol is an escape route at the expense of overflowing with walkers in the years to come. Living like a zombie is part of a process determined by circumstances.

It is not easy, to have to steal to satisfy a minimum portion of the basic necessities, to shelter in a quarter in danger of collapse, to sleep on a filthy and ramshackle mattress and to bathe with a splinter of soap and half a bucket of water. Millions of Cubans have been facing these calamities on a daily basis for decades, and on top of that they can’t even complain out loud. They must do so discreetly or otherwise remain silent. Public scandal fines and contempt convictions are always available to those who overdo their dissatisfaction.

Everyday life is permeated with those agonies that everyone relieves in their own way. Some get drunk, thinking about the fatality of water everywhere. Others manage to break the siege of the Caribbean Sea and count the sorrows from other shores. The point is to escape from an unworthy existence with few possibilities of change, under the absolute hegemony of the Communist Party.

For many, suicide is the gateway to escape. Lacking the courage to die through a desperate act, some prefer to leave this world slowly with their viscera saturated with alcohol. About twenty friends and acquaintances have opted for this type of escape. Others languish step by step, their faces deformed by drunkenness and the scrapes of falls and fights that occur in the fullness of drunkenness.

Bachelet asks Maduro to guarantee the work of the UN mission in Venezuela

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EFE: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, asked the Venezuelan government on Wednesday to guarantee the experts in her office who are currently in that country access to the places and people they choose, without reprisals against those interviewed.

“A technical team from my office is currently in the country and I consider this to be a positive first step,” Bachelet said in an address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where she noted that “it is essential that the team have full and unrestricted access.

He also asked the government of Nicolás Maduro not to retaliate “against any person who has interviewed or tried to interview them,” without giving details about the people the mission is contacting.

He also asked the government of Nicolás Maduro not to retaliate “against any person who has interviewed or tried to interview them”.

The technical mission is in Venezuela to study a possible visit by Bachelet, since Maduro’s government has extended an invitation to her, but the United Nations agency wants to make sure that she will have free access to opponents and dissidents.

Bachelet informed the Council of human rights developments in Venezuela over the past year, a period in which, according to the former Chilean president, there continues to be a serious crisis that “also constitutes a disturbing factor of regional destabilization.

Spanish version of @mbachelet’s statement on the human rights situation in Venezuela pic.twitter.com/7qF9kYKcpV

– Center for Defenders and Justice (@DefensoresDDHH_) March 20, 2019

“Since June 2018, the exercise of social and economic rights has continued to deteriorate steadily,” Bachelet said, noting that Venezuelan authorities “have refused to recognize the dimensions and severity of the crisis in terms of medical care, food and basic services.

On the other hand, the high commissioner indicated that the sanctions from Washington to Caracas, which affect, among other aspects, the sale of Venezuelan crude oil to the United States, “could contribute to aggravate the economic situation”.

He added that his office continues to investigate allegations of extrajudicial executions, with at least 205 deaths attributed to the Special Action Forces (FAES) in 2017 and 37 more in January’s protests alone, coinciding with the self-proclamation of National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela.

“I am also concerned about the increase in restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press in Venezuela,” said the high commissioner.

“Most of these deaths have occurred according to a similar pattern, occur during illegal home invasions by the FAES, and later these bodies report the death as a result of an armed confrontation,” Bachelet said.

“I am also concerned about the increasing restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press in Venezuela,” said the high commissioner, who denounced that the “law against hatred” approved by the regime in November 2017 has been used arbitrarily against journalists, opposition leaders and dissidents.

On the social front, Bachelet said the recent blackouts in Venezuela “symbolize the infrastructure problems facing the country,” where one million children have stopped going to school because of the economic problems of families and schools or the simple lack of teachers, many of whom have emigrated to other countries.

“The polarization is aggravating an already critical situation,” concluded the high commissioner, who stressed that “an agreement for a political solution must be reached.

Bachelet said the recent blackouts in Venezuela “symbolize the infrastructure problems facing the country,” where one million children have dropped out of school because of economic problems.

In response to Bachelet’s report, Venezuelan representatives today accused the U.S. and its “regional acolytes” of being behind violent demonstrations in the country, the attack on Nicolás Maduro in August 2018 or the recent general blackout in several Venezuelan cities, among other events.

“The violent and criminal acts that have been repeated in Venezuela in recent years are promoted by a sector of the opposition financed from abroad,” the Venezuelan ambassador to the Council, Jorge Valero, said in his speech at the European headquarters of the United Nations.

The diplomat added that the U.S. “steals our economic resources, denying the possibility of Venezuela acquiring food and medicine for our people, and along with its regional acolytes speaks of a supposed humanitarian crisis.


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An unavoidable contribution to Guantanamo culture from exile

Photos by the author

GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba – Manuel Augusto Lemus Martínez is another of the millions of Cubans ̶ guantanamero por más señas ̶ who opted to leave Cuba in search of better horizons.

Together with Germán Guerra, Rebeca Ulloa, Ena Ruíz Columbié, Julio Benítez, Octavio Armand and many other Guantanamo poets and writers whom I do not remember now, they left for exile with no more luggage than the hope and the memory of what they lived in the land, indelible trace that they have modeled according to their experiences. Since that absence of their homeland, which has bled our culture, they have managed to continue taking Cuba deep inside.

Shortly after arriving in Guantánamo, in the mid-1980s, I met Lemus, who at that time stood out in the city’s cultural environment for his research and poetic work. On more than one occasion I noticed his eagerness to preserve magazines, documents, photographs and any source that would help him to enrich his archive.

Now, from exile, Lemus surprises us with his book Archivos Guantanameros, published by Ediciones Exodus in 2018 with the collaboration of the Cuban Institute of Cultural Sciences of the Diaspora and with the publication of Ángel Velázquez Callejas. We are surprised because the work, in two volumes, shows the magnitude of their work, which reflects the patience and time used to carry out what to date is the most complete, serious and complete research on Guantanamo writers, their publications and much more.

What I affirm is not only my opinion, but that of all those who so far have had the opportunity to review the book that Lemus graciously sent to the local poet Alex Ruiz. And it is that the work is not limited to record aspects of the life and work of literary creators of the terroir, but also goes into the investigation of the footprint that relevant Cuban intellectuals, such as Don Fernando Ortíz, and foreigners like Max Henríquez Ureña, Pedro Mir and archaeologist Mark Raymond Harrington have planted in the region of Guaso. That imprint, together with the work of those who have been born and written here, and also that which has been left by the flattened ones, constitutes ̶ I believe ̶ what Lemus has called “la guantanameritud”.

There is also updated information on the poet Octavio Armand, unknown here due to his prolonged stay in exile for ideological reasons, but considered by many who have read his work the most important poet guantanamero of the second half of the twentieth century.

In the Introduction, Lemus states with incisive sincerity: “Without distinction, along with the consecrated ones, there are occasional writers, minor writers, spoiled writers and even forgettable writers. The born, the flattened and the passing ones, those who left the imprint or the detritus of their work in some bend of the way of the Guantanameritude. Even at the risk of seeming chauvinist I have appropriated of all, without old-fashioned suspicions, calling for a new cultural paradigm of our environment. We already know that there are no unpunished innocences, we will pay the price”.

Photo by the author

It’s too early to make a definitive judgment on this book. I very much doubt that, for now, despite its values, it will be published in Guantánamo, because it is already known, as Lemus states, that “there are no unpunished innocences”, but, I add, much less courageous acts that do not receive discriminatory silence as a response from intolerant people. What is unquestionable is that his book constitutes a resounding lie to those who affirm that Cuban culture only takes place within our insularity.

I am also sure that the only consequence of Lemus’ efforts here so far is gratitude. Gratitude for his sincerity, for not excluding anyone ̶ or even, as he himself states, the forgettable ̶ and for having provided us with so much valuable information so far published half-heartedly or silenced. Gratitude for remembering those of us who, still alive, breathe in the burning chapel that the dictatorship wants to impose on us as the only social and cultural space, unfortunately with the conspiracy of many of those mentioned in that work, and who always have a sentence to the surface to justify their cowardice in exchange for the repeated tributes paid to them by the authorities and other crumbs, quotas of power and privileges, for keeping silent in the face of abuses and tacitly defending the dictatorship, not inconsiderable dividends given the circumstances, especially when it requires dignity and courage to live these times with decorum and is not an intellectual of national resonance.

But there will already be someone who will one day make that story, someone like Lemus, who will also delve into the intricacies of these times and reveal the names of the protagonists of that vileness, today aupados, tomorrow presented in all the magnitude of their servitude.

And although in the end everything is vanity, as is affirmed in Ecclesiastes, and one day the Earth will disappear into the infinity of the universe, and the names of the greatest authors, nor of the geniuses, nor of the forgotten ̶ will not be saved, the phrase was said some time ago by José Saramago, when he was asked if it bothered him to be nominated year after year for the Nobel Prize and not to obtain it ̶ is worth imagining, much more firmly believe that in the midst of that unknown and indescribable catastrophe, will be the trace of hope that has to save the noblest of our little human soul ̶ Boti verse ̶ as undoubtedly is this invaluable contribution of Lemus to the culture guantanamera, which will also one day be dust, but as the great Spanish poet said, dust in love.

And as everything that comes from love illuminates, so long as we do not reach the end of the world ̶ which thank God is far away ̶ Guantanamero Archives will continue to shine.

Roberto Jesús Quiñones You Do

More than 600 Ebola deaths in Democratic Republic of Congo

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EFE – The total number of deaths from Ebola in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reached 606, while infections reached 968, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Health.

In an official report sent late Tuesday with figures valid until March 18, the authorities put the number of deaths at 606, of which 541 were laboratory-positive, while the number of cases is 968, of which 903 are laboratory-confirmed.

This outbreak – the most lethal in the history of the DRC and the second in the world in terms of deaths and cases, following the 2014 West African epidemic – was declared on 1 August in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

However, control of the epidemic has suffered from the refusal of some communities to receive treatment and insecurity in the area, where many armed groups operate.

In January 2016, the World Health Organization declared the end of the 2014 epidemic, in which 11,300 people died and more than 28,500 were infected.

Since 8 August, when vaccinations began, more than 89,656 people have been inoculated, mostly in the cities of Mabalako, Beni, Mandima, Katwa and Butembo, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health.

Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated blood and body fluids, causes hemorrhagic fever, and can reach a 90% mortality rate if not treated in time.

The most devastating global outbreak was declared in March 2014, with cases dating back to December 2013 in Guinea-Conakri, from which it spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Almost two years later, in January 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of this epidemic, in which 11,300 people died and more than 28,500 were infected, figures that, according to this UN agency, could be conservative.


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Black Spring sixteen years later

Black Spring in Cuba. 75 opponents were arrested and imprisoned. Internet Photo

LAS TUNAS, Cuba – A police raid that covered practically the entire national territory, only surpassed by the one that occurred in April 1961 on the occasion of the landing of Brigade 2506 by the Bay of Pigs, began to deploy in Cuba from the early hours of March 18, 2003 until the end of that month, giving rise to what in the world became known as the Black Spring of Cuba.

Dozens of opponents of the Castro regime were arrested, and 75 of them, subjected to summary trials, sentenced to deprivation of liberty with sanctions of between six and twenty-eight years in prison, leading Amnesty International to declare that, “the condemned were prisoners of conscience,” given that the conduct of which they were accused was “peaceful and within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international norms.

Considering, furthermore, that the charges against these persons were “politically motivated and disproportionate to the alleged crimes”.

The condemned were 74 men and one woman. Fidel Castro called her “one of the most notorious counterrevolutionary leaders”. At his home on February 24, 2003, a group of opponents gathered to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the War of Independence.

That patriotic act, called by the opposition, in which James Cason, then head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, also participated, Fidel Castro took it as an insult, ordering, personally, “to proceed against the main ringleaders because they were very active, among them Mrs. Martha Beatriz Roque,” he said.

Martha Beatriz, an economist, sentenced to prison in the Black Spring and later with an extrapenal license, refused to leave Cuba, exiled, after the Group of 75 to be released as a consequence of the national and international repulsion to which Castroism was subjected, after those disproportionate imprisonments.

But neither Martha Beatriz nor the rest of the opponents of the Group of 75 who remain in Cuba, technically, the extra-criminal license exempts them from the main sanction imposed nor from the accessories, so they are deprived of their rights, among which are the right to active and passive suffrage. In an election process they cannot elect or be elected.

Sixteen years ago, police cars braked, abruptly and ostentatiously, or with the utmost secrecy, in front of the houses of the opponents previously sentenced to prison; in their houses drawers were emptied, papers, books, old typewriters were seized, and then families saw their loved ones, guarded by policemen, depart for the dungeons.

I was not and I am not a “counterrevolutionary ringleader”, according to the late Fidel Castro, I am only captain of myself, but threatening me for having written the novel Bucaneros, the lieutenant colonel Abel Cervantes Palomino, at that time chief of penal processes in Las Tunas, very proudly told me: “We got the highest sanction of the 75”.

He was referring to Luis Enrique Ferrer García, detained in Puerto Padre, sentenced to 28 years in prison, after celebrating something like a Roman circus at the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Las Tunas.

And on days like this, I can only call Martha Beatriz to say to her: “Martha, the woman has in her favor femininity and at the same time the spiritual strength that allows her to appreciate an event with the subtlety that men often lack, then… How did you appreciate the arrests in 2003 and how do you appreciate the consequences of those arrests 16 years later?

“They took the prisoners from one end of the country to the other; but if the regime thought of bending the opposition, the shot went out the window. Instead of diminishing opposition increased, and led to the emergence of the Ladies in White, which are the visible face of opposition in exile, and in many parts of the world.

Martha Beatriz, Fidel Castro himself admitted that in February and March 2003 “we were already worse than in the days before that August 5, 1994,” when hundreds of Cubans protested at the Havana Malecon, accusing you of the “idea of unleashing a massive emigration, which would be the argument for an aggression against the country” on the part of the United States.

“There have been a few mass migrations in Cuba, but the opponents have never had anything to do with them.”

According to Roque Cabello, the only woman in the Group of 75, the arrests of the 2003 Black Spring occurred at a time of “weakness” of the regime, like the one living “now.

It is no secret, and even less so for the Castro regime, the growing discontent of the population as a result of the progressive shortage of supplies that Cuba is experiencing today, dissatisfactions exacerbated by the overflowing bureaucratism of an authoritarian regime that, in order to remain in power, decrees even how theatrical performances and painting exhibitions should be.

It is worth asking oneself: In order to silence Cubans, will castrism opt in 2019 for massive imprisonments such as those of the Black Spring of 2003?

Because of the international condemnation of that time and the determination of not a few opponents to die on hunger strike before carrying out unjust sanctions, large harvests of prisoners are not to be expected.

But the existence of Castro’sism is subordinated to the applause, or at least to the silence of the Cubans, and in order to maintain that applause or silence, given that Castro’s expertise is not the production of food or other goods but the construction of prisons, it is to be expected that the imprisonment and harassment of as many people as the Castro’s bloodhounds smell opposition will not cease, as it has been throughout these 60 years.

“In the life of a people, the turning point is when people let power go to criminals,” Willy Brad said. And as long as castrism exists in Cuba, no one who opposes the regime is safe. History has shown it from 1959 to the present day.

Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan since 1991, resigns.

CUba travel

EFE: The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, presented his resignation on Tuesday during a message to the nation broadcast on television in the Central Asian country.

“I have made the decision to end the exercise of my powers as president,” he said in a televised address.

Sitting in his presidential office, Nazarbayev, whose current presidential term expired in April 2020, recalled that he would celebrate 30 years in power next July.

As of tomorrow, the Central Asian leader will become head of the Security Council of the Central Asian republic, a consultative body, and the presidency will be provisionally assumed by the leader of the Senate.

“This year it will be 30 years since I hold this high office. The people gave me the opportunity to be the first president of an independent Kazakhstan,” he said.

As of tomorrow, the Central Asian leader will become head of the Security Council of the Central Asian republic, a consultative body, and the presidency will be assumed provisionally by Senate leader Kazim-Zhomart Tokayev.

“According to the legislation, in case of cessation of the faculties of the president, his duties are assumed by the president of the Senate. Then there will be elections,” he said.

Nazarbayev, 78, came to power in the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan in 1989 and, after proclaiming independence in 1991, assumed the presidency of the largest country in Central Asia.

He has been unanimously re-elected several times since then, most recently in 2015, when he won more than 97% of the vote.

In May 2010 he was proclaimed leader of the nation with life immunity, so he cannot be arrested or prosecuted for acts committed in the line of duty or once he leaves power.

In May 2010 he was proclaimed leader of the nation with life immunity, so he cannot be arrested or prosecuted for acts committed while active or once he leaves power.

Nazarbayev, who will also continue to lead the ruling Nur Otan party, is the most respected leader of the entire post-Soviet space, as he turned his country into one of the region’s economic locomotives.

While maintaining good relations with the Kremlin, he forged close cooperation with Western countries, which are very interested in the enormous energy resources of the country bathed by the Caspian Sea, as well as with China.


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