A Monday of Anguish in Havana

We can’t even say that it was dawn in the city because the horizon was a dark smudge this morning. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 8 August 2022 — My sore throat woke me up. I went to the bathroom to gargle and looked out the window. An eerie glow was visible in the sky to the east. The fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Terminal, which started last Friday, is not something that can only be seen on television screens or through social networks. It is also here, in Havana, where a dark cloud, with the residue of the combustion, covers the city while people search for answers they cannot find.

My dog ​​Chiqui raises her snout and hides her tail between her paws before hiding under the sofa. My mother calls me because she has to go outside and she doesn’t know what precautions to take. I tell her to wear a mask and to avoid at all costs getting wet in the rain if there is a downpour. In the background the official television report sounds, showing party leaders in a meeting in an air-conditioned room and some announcers who avoid precise words at all costs. “Explosion” or “alarm” is not said, nor are the words “danger” or “threat” pronounced.

They are two parallel realities. While in the microphones there is talk of overcoming and resisting, in my neighborhood people raise their eyes and fear. We can’t even say that it was dawn in the city because the horizon was a dark smudge this morning. My eyes burn and when a ray of sunlight manages to cross the clouds, a strange, almost ghostly golden line is projected on the floor of the balcony. My head throbs and I try to drink as much water as I can; yes, from that we have collected before the start of the fire, because the rains may have contaminated the reserves between Saturday and today.

I review my list of the most fragile people I know in this situation. The old lady on the corner who had to stand in line at dawn to buy bread, the friend who has a small plot of vegetables and fears that so much waste in the air will end up on that food, and if he can’t sell it he won’t have the money to support his family, and the mother with a son in the Military Service whose heart is in suspense because her boy could be sent to the disaster area, even if he lacks the experience and age to face the monster of fire.

I never believed that this system’s capacity for disaster could reach such a point, that mismanagement, violation of security protocols, laziness and voluntarism would take us to these limits. As an optimist by nature, I thought that even the official bungling had a limit or a circumscribed margin of effect, that they could not harm so many people in such a short time. I was wrong. This system is lethal. Its ineptitude kills and kills many. The sky of my city today is screaming those truths.


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.

“Hey, You Can’t Go Through Here!” a Guard From the ‘People’s House’ Yelled at Me

This place almost every Havanan has a memory, is now exclusive to officials and guards. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 30 July 2022 — I pick up the pace. The shared taxi I just got out of was going “at a snail’s pace” and if I don’t take longer strides I’ll be late for my appointment. I cross the Parque de La Fraternidad, I cross the street at full speed with a path that is still closed and leads to the ruins of the Hotel Saratoga, and I enter fully into the gardens of the Havana Capitol building. “Hey, you can’t go through here!” a stern-faced guard yells at me, adding: “You have to go on the sidewalk, it’s forbidden to go through this area!”

They are the same gardens where I practiced as a child with my first skates, the esplanade dotted with vegetation where I sat with my friends to imagine a future that most of them ended up realizing in another part of the world, and the space where Reinaldo waited for me for five hours 30 years ago, in a show of perseverance that sealed that incipient relationship. In other words, this place where almost every Havanan has a memory is now exclusive to officials and guards.

They are the same gardens where I practiced as a child with my first skates, the esplanade dotted with vegetation where I sat with my friends to imagine a future that most of them ended up realizing in another part of the world. (14ymedio)

Although I am in a hurry, I decide to question the man about that prohibition. “Isn’t this Parliament? Isn’t Parliament the People’s House? Why are its gardens off-limits to the people?” separated by several meters from the gleaming facade of a building that was humiliated for decades with neglect, carelessness and official insults. Now, already repaired and with a layer of gold leaf on the dome, the regime has gone from rejecting it to monopolizing it.

I’m already running late for my appointment, so I walk away from the Capitol, its dour guard and its exclusive gardens, while I think about the sensation I felt the first time I left Cuba. It was like an uneasiness that made me fear that in any public square or monument a policeman would come out to tell me that taking a picture with that sculpture, getting too close to that casing or touching that ancient piece of stone was a crime. After days without the uniformed man appearing to scold me, I relaxed and took off the heavy burden of waiting for the whistle, the shout or the fine for my behavior.

Yesterday, Friday morning, I longed for that lightness, when I couldn’t cross the manicured but censored gardens of my own city’s Capitol.


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.

‘I Buy Food!’ The Desperate Cry That Went Unanswered in Havana

This Tuesday morning the thick voice of a town crier rang around our building. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 20 July 2022 — Proclamations recorded and broadcast through loudspeakers are part of the musical band of the Cuban reality of this century. In our neighborhood, a wide variety of them are heard every day, ranging from the already classic “Ice cream sandwiches!” through “I fix mattresses!” to the surprising “I buy empty shampoo bottles!” To these we can add that the current economic crisis is giving birth to its own oral announcements.

This Tuesday morning a thick voice swept through the surroundings of our building. “I buy food!” the man repeated for long minutes as he walked around the block. In other times, the noise from nearby Boyeros Avenue might not have allowed us to hear it from the higher floors of this rough concrete block, but the lack of fuel has reduced the traffic and its constant hubbub, so that announcement was heard “clarito clarito” [loud and clear]. “I buy food!” slipped through the blinds and the balconies.

For half an hour, that peculiar crier moved from the nearby train tracks to the mountain of garbage that has been growing for weeks on the corner of Estancia and Santa Ana. He made a stop at the nearest twelve-story building, repeated his shouts a few yards from the wide parking lot of the Ministry of Agriculture, approached those who were lining up for the rationed products at the bodega, and finally the desperate notice faded little by little as the man headed towards Tulipán Street.

During that time, no one responded to his cries. No neighbor looked out over the balcony to tell him, like others who shout their merchandise or his services, to wait for him to come down right now to sell him some bread, a bag of potatoes or a liter of yogurt. They didn’t even tell him to shut up from the apartments where they were trying to get a baby to fall asleep or where a grandmother was nodding off on the balcony. Nor did the “hardened” militants of the Communist Party show up to combat that phrase, which was more rebellious than any opposition slogan.

“I buy food!” he repeated, and the silence of the neighborhood spoke without uttering a word. From the silence that came out of the houses a clear answer could be extracted: “We don’t have any!”


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.

Remember Sri Lanka

Takeover of the presidential palace by Sri Lankan protesters. (EFE/EPA/Chamila Karunarathene)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 15 July 2022 – “What we need here is Sri Lanka,” “Remember Sri Lanka,” and “We’ll see you at the pool… like in Sri Lanka,” are some of the phrases Cubans are using right now to greet their friends. The mention of the Asian nation is not accidental: after several weeks of protests, thousands of people entered the luxurious residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and forced him to flee the country.

For months, the protesters denounced the mismanagement by the Sri Lankan Executive of the economic crisis, long power cuts and inflation, three evils that also fuel outrage on this island. It is enough to read the reports of foreign press agencies accredited in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s major city, to easily find the coincidences between the discomfort of its residents and the weariness that is heard in every Cuban corner.

In our case, the allusions to Sri Lanka are also a form of social self-criticism, recognizing that in the face of inefficiency and crisis there are people who choose to pack their bags and remain silent, while others go to the house of those responsible for so much disaster and force them to resign. Nor is it the first time that we Cubans have made use of the parallels offered by other geographies to denounce our situation and, incidentally, evade censorship.

A few years ago, the monologue The Problems in Cyprus, performed by the humorist Nelson Gudín, alias El Bacán de la Vida, became a sharp metaphor for our Island. Taking the headlines of the official press, given to reporting political problems and economic in other latitudes while silencing the national ones, the artist used that point in the eastern Mediterranean as a synonym for “Cuba.”

After his excellent performance, which was requested wherever he appeared, it was enough to say “how bad things are in Cyprus” for all of us to understand that he was talking about our own reality. Until today, in the popular speech of this Island there have been several phrases that allude to the Cypriot situation and that feed the surprise of some foreign students who come to practice Spanish in our country and do not understand the reason for this closeness with Nicosia.

Sri Lanka has now been assumed as a dream mirror, as a symbol of the power of a people when united and also as a verbal joke to warn the olive-green hierarchs that no palace full of comforts is safe when the citizen’s anger is overflows. Nor is the water of the presidential pool enough to quench the annoyance accumulated for decades, nor can the stately beds, with their soft pillows, calm a massive protest.

“See you in Sri Lanka,” a neighbor yelled at me yesterday from across the street. “We are all Sri Lankans,” I replied, while some children who passed by on bicycles also repeated the name of a country that a few weeks ago was barely mentioned in Cuba.


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.

Cuba: 11J (July 11th), the Day We Swallowed Our Fear

A group of demonstrators in Havana during the protests on July 11, 2021. (Marcos Evora)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 11 July 2022 — No one foresaw it, no analyst included it in their forecasts, and even the most optimistic had put aside, years ago, the possibility of a popular protest in Cuba. “People have gotten used to it,” “young people prefer to jump into the sea than to demonstrate in a plaza,” “their civic-mindedness has been amputated,” “they have become meek and docile,” were some of the phrases repeated to us from all sides, but the day of 11 July 2021 was enough to destroy all those diagnoses that made us seem like a people unable to raise our voices.

That Sunday morning, the spark did not even catch fire in the two largest cities in the country, but in the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, in the province of Artemisa, a community that until then we associated in our minds with the Ariguanabo River, a good-humored town with its international film school and long blackouts. The first images of the popular outrage reached us through Facebook and Twitter, but our own skepticism dampened the enthusiasm and many of us thought that it was just something momentary and small.

Then the demand spread through Palma Soriano in Santiago de Cuba, Cárdenas in Matanzas, different points of Havana and many other regions. What no one had predicted was happening. For many, that was one of the most important days of their lives, to the point that everyone on this Island remembers what we were doing when the demonstrations began. Like the day a child is born to us, a parent dies or a natural catastrophe occurs, 11J has left a mark on our lives.

And then came the repression pushed and propelled by Miguel Díaz-Canel and the “combat order” that he issued before the cameras of national television, a summons that could one day take him before a court to be tried for inciting violence and launching the military against unarmed people. Not only did we see the uniformed officers viciously beat young people and teenagers, but also the official press – which had initially been left without a script and did not know how to react to the people in the streets – begin to try to create a different story, one parallel to the reality.

In that narrative, dictated by the Plaza de la Revolución, the protests were small, violent, carried out by criminals, vandals and the marginalized. To impose this fiction they appealed to the monopoly of television, radio and printed newspapers, but the truth of 11J had already crept into the retinas of millions of people thanks to social networks and the independent press. In the images that came out of hundreds and thousands of mobile phones, we can see a citizenry that once again, after being gagged for decades, proves its civic voice. It was the day we swallowed our fear, chewed it for a long time and realized that we, the dissatisfied, greatly outnumbered the repressors.

After those bright hours, in which the protests showed their libertarian and massive character, the long night of repression arrived, and we continue under it now. But it is enough to remember that Sunday last summer to conclude that Cubans are no longer the same. We have shouted in the streets, we have chanted freedom and we have shown the world that we are neither cowards nor bowed down, just that a calculated dictatorship has prevented us from taking our places for a long time. The next outbreak will also be neither announced nor predictable, but it may be the last time the regime can crush the unrest and respond with punches, gunshots and trials. On 11J we also learned that fear changed sides.


Editor’s Note: This text was originally published in DW in Spanish.


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.

In the Absence of Present Solutions, Today’s Cuban Regime is a Caricature of Republican Era Cuba

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14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 29 June 2022 — As popular indignation grows due to the continuous power outages that affect a large part of Cuba, the authorities deploy all kinds of justifications to place the responsibility for the blackouts as far as possible from their own management. There is no shortage of repeated phrases blaming the US embargo, the damage caused by the fall of communism in Europe and, of course, the allusions to Cuba’s former Republican period as a dark and miserable time.

Camagüey’s local newspaper, Adelante, has tried to placate its readers this week by reminding them that before 1959 “Cuba only generated 397 megawatts, 397,000 kilowatts, distributed in isolated systems, not interconnected, typical of an underdeveloped country. Only 56% of the population was connected to electrical service. Data that must be put in the context that electrification was a process that had only been implemented worldwide for a few decades.

The article in the Camagüeyan newspaper not only hides that detail, but also avoids saying that Cuba’s electrification was one of the best in Latin America in those years. The article seeks to create in the audience a sense of relief in the face of current problems if they are compared with the situation that their grandparents experienced. A rhetorical trick that is less and less effective in a society tired of attempts to instill fear through the past. In the absence of solutions in the present and progress in the future, the Cuban regime can only be a caricature of the country that existed before Fidel Castro came to power.

With this clumsy strategy they managed for decades to silence democratic demands, assuring that an opening process on the Island would bring back the excesses of the previous dictatorship. When the demands have turned to the inefficiency of the economic model to produce the most basic foods, the official spokesmen come out to recall the corn flour, without any accompaniment, that typified the national dishes during the Machadato.*There are public officials who have even dared to say that a dissident or independent journalist would work as a prostitute if she lived in Cuba in the first half of the 20th century.

All this verbal juggling, which once could generate fear and social paralysis, now reaps ridicule and ends up adding fuel to the fire of social annoyance. People have stopped hanging their heads and shutting up when one of those old stats is thrown at them. Only a system without a tomorrow can believe that it is going to break an entire population by taking the ghosts of yesterday out for a walk.

*Translator’s note: The term ‘Machadato’ refers to Gerardo Machado’s increasingly repressive years as Cuban president (1925-33) overlapping with the worldwide ‘Great Depression’ which began in 1929.


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.

The De-balconization of Havana

Unlike the German city of Berlin, the de-balconization that Havana has been suffering has not been due to the projectiles of war. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 18 June 2022 — A German academic was especially happy when his friends came to visit and he was able to give them an insightful tour of Berlin. The history of the gradual loss of the balconies suffered by the area of ​​the city that had come under communist control after the Second World War was never missing in those journeys. The impact of the bombs during the conflict, the tendency to wall up those parts of the building instead of rebuilding them when peace came, and a socialist architecture more oriented towards the practical than the beautiful, led to the “de-balconization” of the GDR capital.

After recounting everything that happened in great detail, the German professor pronounced that peculiar concept in his own language. After a breath, he began to detail how after the fall of the Berlin Wall the reverse process began, the “re-balconization” of the city. At that moment, he made a stop and confirmed that it was only when he explained that architectural detail of his country’s history that he could use that word. On no other occasion did that term pass his hips, hence he was doubly grateful to his patient listeners for the opportunity to shake up his vocabulary.

Unlike the German city, the de-balconization that Havana has been suffering has not been due to the projectiles of war. Laziness, lack of maintenance and the material indigence of the owners of many buildings have caused this architectural element to be lost between collapses, cracks and shoring. It is becoming more and more common to see facades with exposed pieces of steel that once supported a beautiful terrace projecting outwards.

The Cuban capital has lost its balconies, but it has also been losing its cornices and the flowery capitals of many columns. (14ymedio)

But missing are not only the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of balconies that have fallen onto the streets, and onto the heads of passers-by or the lower floor apartments, but many others are closed or never used due to the inhabitants’ fear that they will collapse if someone peeks out through them. What was once an element of entertainment and pleasure for the dwellers of the home and a treat for the eyes of pedestrians, is now a cause for widespread panic. People fear these vantage points pierced by cracks, moisture and mold.

The Cuban capital has lost its balconies, but it has also been losing its cornices and the flowery capitals of many columns. In streets where before you could walk without leaving the covered portals, now the route is interrupted by the collapse of the roofs that force you to get off the sidewalk and continue on a zigzagging route. To this we must add that most of the buildings that were built during the Soviet subsidy period dispensed with that detail so important in a tropical country, a balcony. Gray walls, small windows and not even an area to hang clothes is the harsh reality experienced in most of these post-Revolution concrete blocks.

I dream of the day when my academic friend visits Havana again and this  whole nightmare of deterioration is just a bad memory from the past. I will surely explain to him how democracy not only meant being able to say what you think without being punished, but also promoted the construction of houses, attracting back to the country so many talented émigré architects who designed cooler houses that take better advantage of the maritime breeze, and at the same time do not make their inhabitants feel as if they were locked in a matchbox. At that moment, I am going to enjoy telling him that the re-balconization of the city where I was born has already begun. It will possibly be one of the few times that I will be able to pronounce that word.


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.

In Havana, It is Not Two Men Who Are Judged, But a Symbol

Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo in Havana, when they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, 31 May 2022 — The last Monday of May dawned cloudy and humid in Havana. However, it was not the possibility of a shower or the difficulties of getting around in a city paralyzed by the fuel crisis that were the main features of the day. In the Court of Marianao, a neighborhood in the western part of the Cuban capital, a trial is taking place that thousands of eyes are watching. The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and the rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo are the accused.

Although in recent months oral hearings against those who participated in the popular demonstrations of last July, or to sentence citizens who show their disagreement on social networks have become common, this week’s process marks a climax of repression in the country. Otero Alcántara is being tried, among other crimes, for placing the Cuban flag on his body for days, in an artistic action that has annoyed a ruling party that hijacked the national emblems for its particular ideological and partisan crusade.

For his part, Osorbo is blamed for having insulted the figure of the ruler Miguel Díaz-Canel and for holding Prime Minister Manuel Marrero responsible for the lack of supplies in hospitals. Both accusations, with a prosecutor’s request for seven and ten years respectively, would hardly carry a small fine in democratic nations or, simply, would not constitute a crime under a rule of law. But the two artists have been in jail for long months and are only now being brought before a court, whose ruling is governed more by the whims of a group in power than by the rigors of justice.

To avoid showing solidarity with the defendants, the surroundings of the Court woke up under a strong police and security services operation, the telephone lines and Internet access of innumerable activists and independent journalists were cut, and an intense campaign of demonization was deployed on social networks to try to counter any show of support for Otero Alcántara and Osorbo. But the effect of this offensive seems to be just the opposite of what the regime is seeking: people who were not aware of the trial have found out after inquiring about the many uniformed men they have seen in that part of the city, and the insistence on defining them as “criminals” in the official media has aroused more sympathy than rejection.

In the hands of Castroism — like a hot potato that burns if held between the fingers and ridicules if it is dropped — are the lives of two young people who represent the failure of a system. Coming from a humble neighborhood, both were supposed to blindly embrace the political model established in the country more than six decades ago because, according to official propaganda, they are part of the sectors most favored by the Revolution. But instead of that, Otero Alcántara and Osorbo have denounced the lies and arbitrariness of the leaders in olive green, the poverty of their neighborhood of San Isidro and police impunity.

By arresting and judging them, the Cuban system itself is showing that it only accepts total obedience from citizens, never criticism or dissidence in any of its forms. It has turned them into a banner of the fragility of a citizenry that has been cut off from all peaceful paths to change the status quo.

In the next few days the sentence against the two artists will be known. It is very likely that they are sentences designed to send an exemplary message to the rest of the population. But the Cuban regime has already lost this battle, it can lock up their bodies for years but it will not be able to put behind bars the symbol they have become.


Editorial Note: This text was originally published in Deutsche Welle in Spanish.


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.

The Quadruplets Have a Birthday

Two plumeria rubra plants, common name frangipani, in the editorial office of the newspaper ’14ymedio’.
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14ymedio, Yoani Sanchéz, Generation Y, 21 May 2022 — I have made some vital decisions that fill me with pride. The list would be very long but here I leave some of the most important on this day to remember one of them:

  • At age 16: Choose a humanities degree despite also having a strong attraction to Physics.
  • At 17: Meet a “crazy and long-haired” journalist named Reinaldo Escobar, and go live with him.
  • At 19: Give birth to Teo, although most of my friends and acquaintances told me that it was too early to be a mother.
  • At 26: Emigrate and taste the pleasant taste of freedom.
  • At 28: Return to my country and, against all odds, raise my critical voice within the island’s borders.
  • At 31: Write the first post of my Generation Y blog.
  • At 38: Found the newspaper 14ymedio.
  • At 43: Inaugurate the Cafecito informativo podcast.

Today our “quadruplets” are turning eight. This is what we say, in the privacy of the home, to the newspaper 14ymedio, because since it was born, on May 21, 2014, there has been no early morning in peace in this house, and when the news “screams” all rest is over. Our lives have come to be at the mercy of news emergencies, the ups and downs of reality and the vertigo of a newsroom.

Nothing to regret, I cannot imagine a better existence.

This is the eighth month of May in which I blow out the candles of this newspaper and in which I am grateful to be surrounded by excellent reporters, essential journalists and sharp editors.

Family, being with you is one of the best decisions of my life. I have no doubt.


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.

Cuba: A Penal Code to Bind Us All

Under the new Constitution, journalism not controlled by the Cuban Communist Party faces a demonizing of the access to funds from international organizations. (14ymedio)
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14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 17 May 2022 — The new Cuban Penal Code, recently approved by the National Assembly and which will enter into force in the coming days, is a detailed compendium of the main fears of the ruling party. Like any authoritarian model, the island’s regime is forced to break down each prohibition and enumerate all the punishments, trying to anticipate even the new forms of confrontation and rejection that may arise from the citizenry.

When reading between the lines of the new regulations, and separating what it inherits from the previous Code in terms of penalizing common crimes, the great panics that keep Cuban leaders awake at night emerge. The independent press, activism, popular protests in the style of the one that occurred on July 11 (11J), and the possibility that individuals unite in initiatives to revoke the economic political system, these are at the center of the tremors that run through the Plaza of the Revolution.

Journalism not controlled by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) bears one of the worst parts of this new legislation, which further demonizes the access of the independent press to funds and resources from international organizations and foundations. In a country where a group of men uses the public coffers at will to support their media of ideological propaganda, those same individuals try to cut off any financial oxygen that allows the existence of newspapers or magazines that annoy power. Only the PCC can carry out the exercise of content dissemination, under supervision and with censorship’s scissors ready to cut everything that does not benefit the Party.

However, the current twist already had its antecedents in the Gag Law for which 75 dissidents went to jail in the Black Spring of 2003 and which has never been repealed. So it can be interpreted more as an update to the new realities than the beginning of an unprecedented raid against the free flow of news. The growing popularity of information portals managed by independent journalists has put in check a dictatorship that, for decades, ruled from secrecy and absolute control of information dissemination.

Something similar occurs with article 120.1 of the new Code, which penalizes anyone who “arbitrarily exercises any right or freedom recognized in the Constitution of the Republic and endangers the constitutional order.” As in the Constitution the PCC is considered the superior force and leader of society; trying to change that and erect another alternative will result in a serious, very serious crime. However, a similar straitjacket already existed with the popularly called “constitutional mummification” which, without meeting the requirements of a referendum where voters were asked their position in favor or against the proposal, was imposed in 2002.

In short, if much of what is penalized in this legislation was already prohibited, in one way or another, in decrees, regulations and resolutions, it is worth asking the reasons for reinforcing this veto and expanding the punishments in the new Code. Everything indicates that it is a victory for the forces of immobility; we are facing the image of those bridges, the ones dynamited by the most retrograde to prevent democratic change from coming from within the Island, from springing up from ordinary people. This is, in reality, a glossary of the terrors of Castroism and its desperate attempts to stop what will come no matter what.

The Penal Code designed to bind us all points to the fact that it has been drafted by a system sunk in mistrust of society and in fear of the future.


Editorial Note: This text was originally published in Deutsche Welle in Spanish.


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.