There Are No Drugs in Cuba?

I had pretty aggressive keratitis in my left eye. It was the result of poor hygiene in the dorm and successive conjunctivitis that was poorly treated. I was prescribed a complex treatment but after a month of drops I was not noticing any improvement. My eyes burned when I looked at white-painted walls and things in bright sunlight. The rows of books blurred and seeing my own nails was impossible. Yanet, the girl who slept in the opposite bunk, told me what was going on. “They steal your medicine to take it themselves — it gives them a tremendous high — and then they refill the bottle with something else,” she said in a whisper facing the showers. So I started watching my locker every night and saw that it was true. The medicine that was meant to cure me some of my classmates in the dorm mixed with a little water and… no wonder my cornea didn’t heal.

Blue elephants, clay roads, arms stretching to the horizon. Escape, fly, jump out the window without getting hurt… to the very abyss, were the sensations pursued by so many teenagers far from their parents, living under the few ethical values conveyed to us by the teachers. Some nights the boys went to the sports area and made an infusion from trumpet flowers — belladonna — the poor people’s drug, they said. At the end of my sophomore year powders to inhale and “grass” also started to appear in that high school in the countryside. They were brought in mostly by the students living in the slum neighborhood of El Romerilla. There were giggles in the morning classes after they ingested it, far away looks staring right through the blackboard, and heightened libidos with all those “life attractions.” With regular doses your stomach no longer burns or feels hunger, some of my already “hooked” classmates told me. Fortunately, I was never tempted.

On leaving high school, I knew that outside the walls of that place the same situation repeated itself, but on a larger scale. In my neighborhood of San Leopoldo, I learned to recognize the half-open eyelids of the “hooked,” the weakness and the pale skin of the inveterate consumer, and the aggressive attitudes of some who, after taking a hit, thought they were kings of the world. When the 21st century arrived the offerings in the market-for-escape grew: melca, marijuana, coke — this latter is currently 50 convertible pesos a gram* — EPO pills, pink and green Parkisinol, crack, poppers and every kind of psychotropic. The buyers are from varied social strata, but for the most part they are looking to escape, to have a good time, get out of the rut, leave behind the daily suffocation. They inhale, drink, smoke and then you see them dancing all night at a disco. After the euphoria wears off they fall asleep in front of the television screen where Raul Castro is assuring us that, “there are no drugs in Cuba.”

*Translator’s note: More than $50 U.S. in a country where a doctor earns the equivalent of about $20 a month.

January 30 2013


34 thoughts on “There Are No Drugs in Cuba?

  1. Help ,thank´s for explanation,i believe that controling how people voted or if voted is possible but there must be something what brings change to Cuba i believe , want to believe. i think slov changes aren´t good that are just cosmetic changes there must be something what wake up majority of nation . ooh i am a dreamer far from Cuba and with bad english :( :(

  2. Hank, I see that Yoani reports 84%, so the magic number must now be around 80%.

    This is a more believable lie for Castro’s foreign admirers, although they’d feel better with the old lies of 90 some percent.

    Maybe it’s a subtle protest lie by those who used to report bigger lies?

    I agree about the inefficiency. All those fake ballots could be used to produce more toilet paper. For the tourists of course, the natives don’t need toilet paper.

  3. Thanks, Help for your explanation.

    So, if there were 612 seats up for election in the fake Cuban assembly and only 612 candidates to vote for, why not extend the insanity of this fake election to its logical extreme and just have 612 individual paper ballots throughout the island? Seems like that would solve a lot of problems and alleviate a lot of undue stress. There must be a huge number of efficiencies to be gained from that approach.

    That’s some great revolution, that Cuban revolution.

  4. Now the 2% assumes Cubans can vote against the communists.

    But as Cubans tell me, every voting slip is tagged so the communists know how you voted.

    Don’t know if that’s true, but that’s how Cubans think.

    And if you don’t show up to vote, you get reported to the communists. That is for sure.

    But still, Castro is such a hated dictator, there are definitely places where less than 2% vote for him.

    And there is no way those results are reported and added in the final results.

  5. lopu, if you didn’t understand my previous post, I meant the lying occurs at each polling station.

    That’s why nobody knows the real numbers.

    If you’re a polling station you don’t want to get “heat” and report bad numbers, so everybody tries to agree on the general lies from the very start.

    I just made up the numbers to show how it works. Here are more realistic numbers:

    If 2% vote for Castro, you’d probably report the agreed lie right away, say around 90%.

    No point stopping at 70% if that lie will get you in as much trouble as reporting the truth.

  6. lopu,

    Nobody knows how many took part. Believe it or not, probably Castro doesn’t know.

    You see, in Cuba, everybody lies.

    Telling the truth won’t do you any good, because if you tell your boss the truth, he will just be p**ssed off at you and you will lose your job.

    He wants you to do some of the dirty work and help out with the lying.

    So let’s say 20% show up and 10% of them vote for the communists, for a total of 2% vote for the communists, which is realistically the most they can hope for.

    You tell your boss it was 69% who took part and 84% of them voted for the communists. It’s not a big enough lie for Castro or the BBC reporter who loves Castro, but you did your part.

    Your boss tells his boss it was 74% and 89%.

    His boss tells a bigger boss it was 85% and 92%.

    Then that boss tells a bigger boss it was 94% and 97%, and he informs his underlings of the final lie so everybody gets their story straight.

    As long as it looks “real” (no round numbers) and Castro is pleased, everybody can go home and keep their jobs.

    In Cuba, the magic number is 90%. A final lie above 90% sounds good, much better than 2%.

  7. COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Another Phony Election in Cuba – by Elliott Abrams

    Democracy may be spreading in large parts of the world and with it genuine, contested elections–but not in Cuba.
    Cubans “voted” again yesterday for the Cuban “National Assembly,” if one uses such terms very loosely. The Washington Post quotes Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez saying “It is a different electoral system. Personally I find it is more democratic than (others) I know.” This is offensive nonsense, because Cuba remains a one-party state where zero electoral competition is allowed. “Renouncing the principle of a single party would be equal to legalizing one or more imperialist parties,” Reuters reports Raul Castro saying last year. So the system in Cuba is summed up by Reuters this way: “Reuters talked with more than half a dozen voters on Sunday before they entered the polls in Havana. None of them knew the candidates on the national slate from their districts.” And why should they, given that there is no competition and that the Communist Party, not the National Assembly, runs the country. As one voter said to Reuters, ”I vote because I feel I have to, and it doesn’t really matter because the deputies have no power anyway.” Reuters also notes that this young woman “declined to give her name,” and no one has to wonder why.

    Cuba remains a police state and one of the few communist dictatorships still in existence, and its fraudulent elections are an insult to the Cuban people. One can only hope that Cuba’s “different” system does not survive the Castros– Fidel, now 86, and Raul, now 81.

  8. re: #23,

    I doubt Cuba Liar is smart enough to trick his own dog, let alone a Cuban family. My guess is the Cuban family had conned CL into buying a house, which they would in due time swindle him out of.

  9. Facts are facts. You can go back and see Damir’s threats throughout the history of this blog. They are still there, if you have the stomach for it. LOL, I guess “===”, along with the picture that you put up with your posts (not!), serve as a real identifier for you.

  10. Cuba Libre wasn’t trying to build a house in Cuba, he was trying to trick a Cuban couple into being his sham front people, since he could not legally purchase in Cuba himself. Learn to read.

  11. Actually, it was Damir who made the death threats, and he is not from the United States.

  12. The apologist editor has been hard at work again… unless you side with the US you get censored here!… nice one for champion of free speech… since you cannot call MsY a dissident… even the Wetern media doesn’t give her more than ‘influential blogger’ dissident is for the pips that do the heavy lifting in Cuba….

    Oh yeah quite right and what happened with the threats you the apologist made on all of us… I recall you guys threatening Damir… not just swearing at him …. I recall you trying to denigrate CubaLibre for say he is building a home in Cuba….instead to be happy for him!I recall the ‘anonimous’ threats that immigration in the UK would be this and that about myself… as if.. And you all sat an watched… We may not be so relevant (on the contrary) to you apologist cause but still threats are threats…. And obviously we didn’t retort with threats then as I recall quite clearly. Cuba Libre even tried to strike e friendship with El Cibergueas parrot, that evidently Humberto couldn’t even reciprocate since he is too much up the media… likewise you guys… So any threats are likely to come from your mentality your camp..and your kind!

  13. Help … the only people to have the mentality to make death threats are your kind darling… I didn’t grow up in gun culture where things get sorted by ‘death threats’… the only place such ‘threats’ could have come from is someone living in your culture … full stop.

  14. _man comes_ (or == whatever you call yourself now)

    stop playing the fool, either you or your buddy Damir made repeated death threats against Yoani, which violates site rules.

    Just express your opinions without threats of violence and hate speech and all your brilliant thoughts will stay on this blog without any moderation, as they’ve been expressed ad nauseum since 2009.

  15. Deutsche Welle: Cuba: A look back at five years of Raul Castro

    Cuban President Raul Castro wanted to update socialism when he took up office, but, five years on, little has changed. Change is not expected after Sunday’s elections with 612 Communists running for 612 seats. Since taking over the post from his brother – “Commandant” Fidel Castro – in February 2008, reforms have supposedly been at the top of the agenda. Upon closer inspection, however, not much has changed. That image of stagnation is also reflected in the parliamentary election on Sunday (03.02.2013): for the 612 seats of the one-house parliament, there are exactly 612 candidates – with all of them coming from the Communist Party. “Some smart measures have been implemented, but the reforms still do not go far enough and are too slow,” Cuban dissident Oscar Espinosa Chepe told DW. The critic of the regime was one of 75 prisoners who were taken into temporary custody during the so-called “Black Spring” of 2003. According to Espinosa Chepe, an economist who continues to live in Cuba, the reforms have facilitated a “non-state-run sector, but not one of truly private enterprises.” “The companies are heavily taxed so that this area does not grow too much and remains under state control,” he noted.

    But many experts said they believe this dilemma will not be resolved as long as Raul Castro is running the island’s government. The Communist Party’s leading ranks see the reforms as an “update of Socialism,” and not as a transition to a different economic model.

    The in-fighting among Communist Party politicians as well as excessive bureaucracy, which many Cubans find maddening in daily life, are also contributing to the problem.

    Furthermore, the euphoria over the freedom to travel abroad that went into effect in mid-January has died down as Cubans recognized that bureaucratic red tape and economic constrictions can be just as limiting as political restrictions. For most Cubans, it is not only difficult to apply for a passport or visa, it’s also quite tough scraping together enough money for a plane ticket.


  16. January 28 2013

    The Forgotten: Black and Dissident
    Published January 30,

    FREE the Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso NOW! Poster by Rolando Pulido
    The case of the arbitrary arrest of Sonia Garro and her husband Ramon Alejandro is confusing for several reasons. That she belongs to the well-known group the Ladies in White and he to an independent Afro-Cuban organization, highlights lack of tactics or support (or both) by our internal dissent.

    Recognized international institutions have raised the alarm at such injustice, but what has happened inside Cuba? The recent case of a protest against the police for the arrest of well-known figures like Yoani Sánchez, Antonio Rodiles and Angel Santiesteban (respectively: a receiver of many awards, a new rising star and prize-winning writer) among others, demonstrated what a nonviolent force can achieve pushing back against a repressive government.

    In the case of Garro and her husband there has been a lack of actions to pressure the government from the dissident circles where they were recently active before being imprisoned, that is specific actions, specific public planned demands with the idea of exposing their situation to international public opinion.

    Just because they are two almost unknowns they should not be neglected, left to their fate; a demand organized in stages, starting with the issuing of letters to the authorities, appearing before every police station, and a call by a considerable part of the internal opposition could pressure the authorities with a different urgency.

    Among the most common questions about the case are whether Sonia Garro is a street activist, directly confronting the dictatorship, and this has put her in a select and minority group on the island, which has undermined solidarity, or whether others take individual actions as she did, women who, finally, take a powerful weapon like a “pot-banging demonstration” to make their voices heard.

    Another angle that is taken into account is whether her membership in a marginal sector, her social background of extreme poverty and her skin color have resulted in her being deserted by those who don’t feel close to her, considering her level of education, her projection as an opponent, or her open and uncontrolled challenges to daily repression.

    This married couple, brave opponents, now imprisoned without a defined legal process, have left a teenage daughter without their daily care. No matter how painful the case, it is no longer uncommon. It is a damaging trend that virtually unknown human rights activists languish in the dungeons of Cuba without proper promotion and attention from the elite dissident.

    What I say here may be fodder for debate, but I dare say “another rooster would crow” — it would be a different story — if the renowned photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, the musician Ciro Diaz or me (why not) would have suffered a long detention. Although now I am in exile I have good reason to demand that with my brothers, both on the island and beyond, we raise our voices, but all at once to demonstrate as strongly as possible our outrage at the case of Sonia Garro and her husband, as well as those of all political prisoners.

    That the political police officials are confessed racists and use the crime of racism as a weapon to try to humiliate unconquerable opponents, should alarm us even more. If it is the repressors who practice these different variants of apartheid, let it be we who fight this scourge, we should not go along sleeping peacefully, as if nothing is happened.



    YOANI SANCHEZ BLOG: Eliécer’s motives- Octubre 6th, 2008

    The interviews given by Eliécer Ávila, a UCI [University of Information Sciences] student, to Cubaencuentro and Kaos en la Red [Chaos on the Web] were sent to me by email. Reading both of them, I knew that they would not be published in any of the mainstream media on the Island because they express opinions—shared by the majority—that our newspapers prefer to ignore. The young man from Las Tunas has been relegated to the Internet, with the video of his run-in with the President of the National Assembly circulated only through alternative means. However, we Cubans rely on a kind of Web 4.0 that doesn’t need cables, nor modems and can even dispense with the computer. Hence, this week all of Havana already knows about Eliécer ‘s conversation with an independent journalist. Information, every day, is finer and finer sand slipping through the censors’ fingers.

    Some see this Las Tunas boy of precise speech as the tip of a conspiracy to “abduct” the most critical young people. I confess that I am tired of these manias to see in each action a perfectly calculated plot. I don’t believe that our leaders can organize everything, nor play that political chess they are believed capable of. Much less in these times when the squares on the board have been erased and at least three of the table legs are lame. I refuse to see, in every event, the strings inevitably being pulled by the hands of State Security. To believe this would be to think that they are omnipresent, that they know everything and, fortunately, this is a quality held only by God.

    I prefer to speculate that yes, Eliécer is sincere in his approach. That he is a young man, like many, dissatisfied with the dual currency, with the abuses of power, with the gerontocracy that governs us. One who with a peasant’s straightforwardness calls things by their names and believes in the power to change, from within, the system that will end up devouring it. What is not healthy, candid or honest is the reality surrounding this computer science student. A society where the boys of Porno para Ricardo can’t appear in concert, where several blogs and web pages are blocked and where someone with a different opinion is accused of being an agent of the CIA; it has the design of a long thought-out conspiracy—and it’s here, yes, that I show my paranoia—to deprive us of the right to dissent.

    The anxious young man presented himself, before Ricardo Alarcón, as part of “Operation Truth” which monitors the Internet and counters opinions antagonistic to the Cuban way. Which makes him both a victim and an executioner of the lack of space for plurality and debate. Forgive me Eliécer Ávila, but to enter the Web from an institutional PC with the direction to neutralize divergent ideas, is to act—using your own metaphor—like those “who drive a large truck believing they own the road, without respect for the rights of others, because they know that if you mix it up with them, you’ll come out of it very badly.”


    GLOBAL POST: Cuba holds military exercises against possible US aggression – Agence France-Presse

    Cuba’s armed forces on Saturday began holding military exercises aimed at preparing the Communist-ruled island to defend itself against any possible attack from the United States, media reported.
    Military units from across the island “began this weekend to prepare for Cuba’s defense… which would combine the participation of the armed forces and the people,” the government-run Prensa Latina reported.
    It wrote that taking part in the exercises are military units from Camaguey in eastern Cuba, the central city of Matanzas and the town of Artemisa outside Havana.
    Reports said officials believe the military maneuvers are needed to respond to “constant harassment and aggression” from the US, which broke relations with Havana in 1961 and imposed a trade embargo the following year.

  19. Amazing.

    Yoani Sanchez is an ordinary person. She’s a wife and mother who writes about her personal experience living in Havana, Cuba on her blog.

    People read her blog and understand what she says. Now that she has obtained a passport and the ability to travel freely to and from the island (we hope), people post death threats against her because of what she has written and her ideas?

    How appalling and obnoxious is that?

    Is a wife and mother who lives in Havana, Cuba that threatening to people just because of the things she writes?

    I hope Yoani is not intimidated by this nonsense and moves forward with her life without fear.

  20. Griffin,

    Damir and Cuba Libre and the other Walking Dead would all party if she had an “accident”, one scenario that Castro or his thugs are playing with probably.

    If outside of Cuba one of Castro’s spies does something to her and is caught and jailed, there will be an international campaign from the “friends of Cuba” to free the heroic “anti-terrorist” from his country club prison.

  21. re: #10,

    MCA, About the prisoners the US holds at Guantanamo, you ought to have a look at the Geneva Conventions.

    The GC defines the types of people to be found “in a place of war” and how they are to be treated. The first category are uniformed enemy soldiers. They are to be housed in proper prisoner of war camps, treated humanely & permitted to wear their uniforms and allowed Red Cross visits. The 2nd category are irregular soldiers in organized militias, indigenous to the area of war, identified by some mark or article of clothing such as an arm band or kerchief, (such as the French Resistance wore in WWII) . These people are to be treated in the same manner as those in the first category. The third category are non-combatant civilians. These people are to be left unharmed and not subject to capture or imprisonment. The fourth category are non-uniformed, irregular fighters not wearing anything to identify them as belonging to a local militia, and often not native to the area of war. By definition, these combatants are beyond the protections of the the GC, except that they are to be treated humanely and not tortured.

    The prisoners held at Guantanamo all fall into the fourth category. The were not wearing a regular uniform, nor any local militia marking. A Yemeni or Libyan found planting roadside bombs in Afghanistan is not considered a legitimate protected combatant under the rules of the Geneva Conventions. They were engaged in terrorist attacks on US military personnel and on local civilian populations.

    The US is not obligated to do anything for these people. In WWI & WWII, such irregular combatants were taken out and shot. Period. The US decided to be nice and let them live in a decent prisoner of war camp. They are allowed visits by the Red Cross/Red Crescent, they are allowed to practice their religion. They are provided with halal food. They are provided with books and medical treatment. This good treatment is far above and beyond what the Geneva Conventions require.

    Of the 160 or so prisoners, the Obama Administration plans to return about half to their native country for to face the legal systems there. Of the remaining prisoners, about half will be tried in US courts for war crimes and or terrorism charges. Of the remaining 30 to 35 prisoners, for a variety of reasons they cannot be repatriated and they cannot stand trial. They will be held as prisoners indefinitely, at the expense of the US taxpayers.

    This is far better treatment than any other country in the world would provide them, expect perhaps for the UK, were they would be placed on the dole and given a council flat and would no doubt run for parliament and be elected for Labour or some new Leftist-Islamist party.

  22. no _man comes_

    people are imprisoned in the US base at Guantanamo because they’re psychopathic killers who enjoy blowing up school girls.

    People, total pacifists, are imprisoned on the Cuban side because they criticize the government.

    The psychopathic killers get much better treatment.

    Now if you’ve noticed, Yoani’s post is about drugs in Cuba, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned drugs in “bad ole USA” yet.

    You might notice Obama never goes on TV and says “there are no drugs in the USA”

    In the USA, no president can get away with such a bold-faced lie. Only dictators can lie all the time and not face any heat.

  23. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH WORLD REPORT 2013: Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent.

    In 2012, the government of Raúl Castro continued to enforce political conformity using short-term detentions, beatings, public acts of repudiation, travel restrictions, and forced exile.It has also relied increasingly upon arbitrary arrests and short-term detentions to restrict the basic rights of its critics, including the right to assemble and move freely.While reforms passed in October 2012 eliminate the need for Cubans to obtain an exit visa to leave the island, they contain vague, broad provisions which could be used by authorities to continue to deny the right to travel to people who are critical of the government.

    Cubans who dare to criticize the government are subject to criminal prosecution. They do not benefit from due process guarantees, such as the right to fair and public hearings by a competent and impartial tribunal. In practice, courts are “subordinated” to the executive and legislative branches, thus denying meaningful judicial independence. Political prisoners are routinely denied parole after completing the minimum required sentence as punishment for refusing to participate in ideological activities such as “reeducation” classes.

    Dozens of political prisoners remain in Cuban prisons, according to human rights groups on the island. These groups estimate there are more political prisoners whose cases they cannot document because the government does not allow independent national or international human rights groups to access its prisons.


    Cuba, the hemisphere’s only country to tolerate no independent media (or with few exceptions), got the region’s lowest ranking – 171st. The past year has seen a renewed crackdown on dissent and the island now has two journalists in prison, one of them a state media employee.

  25. NBC LATINO: Obama tells Telemundo he hopes for immigration overhaul within 6 months – by Telemundo – 01/30/2013

    JDB: Yesterday Secretary Clinton– referring to Cuba said it’s a dictatorship that must change in the near future. That policy of your administration, of no normalization until there’s democratization, do you see that changing in your second term with a new secretary of State?

    PO: Well, you know– we have tried to– make overtures that were good for the Cuban people. You know, loosening up remittances from family members. Loosening up travel for family members back to Cuba. Because our view has been that that empowers civil society inside of Cuba. That empowers people– who, you know, wanna have a voice in Cuba.

    But what we’ve also said is– is that– in order for us to see an actual normalization– of the relations between– the United States and Cuba, that we have to do something about all those political prisoners– who are still there. We’ve gotta do something about just basic freedoms of– of the press and– and assembly.

    We don’t expect every country to operate the way we do. And obviously we do business with a lot of countries around the world– that don’t meet our standards in terms of– you know, constitutions and rights. But we do think it’s important for us to continue to push to make sure that– the Cuban people themselves– have a voice in their lives.

    And– my hope is is that– slowly but surely– the Cuban leadership begins to recognize, “It’s time to join the 21st century.” You know, it– it– I mean it– it– it’s– it’s one thing to have cars from the 1950s. It’s another thing when (CHUCKLE) your whole political ideology– is coming out– is– is 50 years or s– or 60 years old and– and it’s been proven not to work.

    And– I think that we can have– progress over the next four years. I’m happy to engage it. I think it would be good for the Cuban people. But– but it’s– it’s gotta be a two way street. It can’t just be– that we look away completely from– you know, the very sad circumstances that a lot of Cubans– still live in.

  26. MIAMI HERALD: Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez receives passport but Angel Moya told he could not – Passport officials told Angel Moya he could not get a passport because he never completed his 20-year sentence. – By Juan O. Tamayo

    In the first real tests of Cuba’s new migration laws, blogger Yoani Sánchez got a passport Wednesday after 10 years of being denied permission to travel abroad, but a former political prisoner was rejected because he did not serve all of his 20-year sentence.

    Angel Moya, who spent eight years in prison and is married to Berta Soler, leader of the dissident Ladies in White, said a passport office worker told him she could not accept his application because he “is regulated for the public interest.”

    Many dissidents who had been blocked from traveling abroad by the State Security apparatus saw their hopes to go rise after Cuba adopted reforms on Jan.14 that lifted the requirement for the widely hated exit permits known as “white cards.”

    Under the new system, Cubans are supposed to be able to make personal trips abroad with just valid passports and visas from other countries. But the laws specifically note that passports can be denied for “national security” or “national interests.”

    Sanchez and Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for human rights in 2010, Yoani Sanchez had been told after Jan. 14 that they would indeed be able to obtain new passports and travel abroad.

    State Security repeatedly denied her permission to leave the island to pick up the many international prizes she has won for her blog, Generación Y, and take part in seminars — even though she had so many visas on her old passport that she had to ask for a new one.

    Moya, 49, was sentenced to 20 years in prison during a 2003 crackdown on 75 dissidents known as Cuba’s Black Spring, and many of the others were sentenced to 28 years in one-day trials. Several were freed early over the years on “extra-penal licenses” usually related to ill health.

    The last 52 were freed in 2010 and 2011 — also under licenses — as part of an agreement between Cuban ruler Raúl Castro and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega. Virtually all went directly from prison to exile in Spain but 12, including Moya, chose to stay on the island and continue their opposition work.

    Moya said he went to the passport office closest to his Havana home Wednesday morning and asked about applying for a passport “because I want to travel like any citizen in any country, maybe to Spain, maybe to the United States.”

    The woman at the counter took his national ID card number, looked at a computer and said he could not have a passport “because I was regulated for public interest,” he told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from Havana.

    The word “regulated” appears to be government-speak for a control. The reason for the block, he was told, was that “my sentence had not been fulfilled.”

    He explained to the woman that he had been freed as part of the deal between the government and the church, Moya noted, but she just pointed to the computer and indicated there was no information on how he could appeal that decision.


  27. Congratulations Yoani!

    One small step towards free travel for all. I hope you can travel to America.

    Keep fighting for the millions of Cubans who don’t have passports.

  28. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION CUBA: INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST DETAINED IN CUBA – Independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias has been detained since September 2012 in Cuba in relation to his work. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience solely detained for peacefully exercising his freedom of expression. – January 30, 2013

    On 16 September 2012 Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a journalist working for the unofficial news agency Hablemos Press, was arrested by the Cuban Revolutionary Police (Policía Revolucionaria de Cuba) at José Martí International Airport in Havana. He had been investigating allegations that medicine provided by the World Health Organization to fight the cholera outbreak (which began in mid-2012) was being kept at the airport instead of being distributed, as the Cuban government was allegedly trying to downplay the seriousness of the outbreak. Upon his arrest, Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias was taken to the Santiago de las Vegas police station, located near the airport

    According to Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias’ relatives, when complaining in his cell at the Santiago de las Vegas police station about his detention, he was beaten and pepper-sprayed in his eyes, and then called out “down with Raúl”, “down with Fidel” (“abajo Raúl”, “abajo Fidel”). Although neither he nor his lawyer – who has not been allowed access to his casefile – have been informed of any official charges against him, Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias is reportedly being accused of “disrespect” (“desacato”) towards President Raúl Castro and Fidel Castro. The Cuban criminal code provides sentences of up to three years’ imprisonment in this case.

    After being held for 10 days at the Santiago de las Vegas police station, Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias was transferred to Valle Grande prison until 10 November. Since then he has been detained at Combinado del Este prison on the outskirts of Havana. On arrival at Combinado del Este prison he went on hunger strike, apparently to protest against being forced to wear a prison uniform and having his personal belongings confiscated. The hunger strike reportedly lasted 33 days.

    Amnesty International believes Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias’ detention is politically motivated and related to his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.

    Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

    1. Calling on the Cuban authorities to release Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias immediately and unconditionally, as he is prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;

    2. Urging them to remove unlawful restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly in Cuba.



  29. REUTERS: Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez gets passport, will travel – By Jeff Franks

    Cuba’s best-known dissident, blogger Yoani Sanchez, received a passport on Wednesday under the island’s new, freer travel law and said she would go abroad soon, after years of being denied that right.

    Sanchez’ case was viewed as a test of the Cuban government’s commitment to free travel, but the news was not as good for Angel Moya, another dissident who, Sanchez said, was denied a passport.

    “Incredible! They called to my house to tell me that my passport was ready. They just delivered it to me,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter. “Now the only thing left is to be able to board that plane.”

    Hated by Cuba’s communist government for constantly criticizing the system in her “Generation Y” blog, Sanchez, a 37-year-old Havana resident, has said she was denied the right to travel 20 times under Cuba’s old travel law and doubted she would get a passport under the new ones.

    Cuba’s leaders consider dissidents traitorous “mercenaries” in the employ of the United States and other enemies.

    But on January 14, when the reforms took effect, Sanchez went to an immigration office, was told she would get a passport and would be able to come and go as she pleased.

    Other well-known dissidents also have been told they will get passports.

    The old travel law was put in place in 1961 to slow the flight of Cubans after the island’s 1959 revolution.

    There are still travel restrictions for certain professions, reasons of national security and for those with pending legal cases, which may affect a number of dissidents like Moya.

    He was one of 75 people arrested and imprisoned in a 2003 crackdown that provoked international condemnation of the Cuban government.

    Moya was released in 2011, but remains on parole for the remainder of the 20-year sentence he received 10 years ago.

    Sanchez tweeted that Moya had been denied a passport.

    “I am happy and sad. On one side, I have my document for travel, but they will not permit it for several friends like Angel Moya,” she wrote.

    Neither Sanchez nor Moya could be reached for comment.



    YOANI SANCHEZ FOTO/PHOTO: Aqui esta, ahora falta poder abordar ese avion #ReformaMigratoria – Here it is, now what’s left if to be able to hop on that plane!

  31. Thank you Yoani, for the great public service of speaking the truth about what everybody in Cuba knows about.

    When Raul says no drugs, he means Raul doesn’t take drugs. Raul is Cuba.

    He does drink a lot of Rum though, but Rum is a completely non-addictive socialist anti-drug that is wonderful for your memory.

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