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In Its Fight with Venezuela, the Trump Administration Takes Aim at Cuba

Amid the barrage of breaking news in the ongoing Trump scandals, one overlooked story is that of Cuba, which is experiencing severe fuel shortages and other difficulties, owing to sanctions levied by the Trump Administration. On September 28th, Sarah Marsh, a Reuters correspondent in Cuba, uploaded a video to Twitter. The thirty-second clip, shot on her phone from a moving car, shows vehicles stalled on a roadway: trucks, buses, modern taxis, and vintage nineteen-fifties Chevys and Studebakers in a line that appears to be half a mile long. All of them were waiting for gas. Marsh tweeted, “So I thought the fuel situation in #Cuba had improved somewhat, until I passed this multi-hr queue for diesel on the highway. This is only a fragment of what I filmed.”

Cuba’s energy shortage has begun to affect life on the island in a wide variety of ways. A week before Marsh posted the video, she reported that the government had urged its citizens to save fuel during daylight hours, warning that its supply was inadequate to cover the island’s needs for the month. Air-conditioning had been shut off in public buildings, while schools and universities had cut back on school hours, and some public-sector workers were told to stay home, because of a lack of fuel for public transportation. Oxen were replacing tractors in agricultural fields; wood was being used to to fire ovens in state-run bakeries, and a number of factories had either cut back on production or shut down altogether.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/in-its-fight-with-venezuela-the-trump-administration-takes-aim-at-cuba

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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages, South America

 

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Mexico, Cuba, and Trump’s Increasing Preference for Punishment Over Diplomacy

In his approach to the carrot-versus-stick equation that is central to statecraft, Donald Trump always opts for the stick. Apparently unaware of, or unconcerned with, the advantages offered by the canny use of public diplomacy, coercive tactics have become a main feature of his Presidency. On the international stage, Trump has used rhetorical bluster, unleashed financial sanctions, and threatened military action against adversaries such as Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, and has deployed withering tariffs to initiate an ongoing trade war with China. It is not only against nations with which the White House has ideological differences that Trump has chosen such an approach; he has also made rumblings about slapping tariffs on imports from long-standing American allies, including Canada, France, and Germany.

The weaker the country, the more bullying Trump’s behavior. In March, for instance, in a bid to pressure the nations from which much of the current surge of migrants is arriving, he announced cuts to U.S. humanitarian aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. On May 30th, he moved to punish Mexico over immigration, as well. He peremptorily announced, via a pair of tweets, that he had decided to tax all Mexican imports with a five-per-cent tariff, beginning June 10th, “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed.” His idea was that the tariff would rise by five per cent at the beginning of every month until it reached twenty-five per cent—the same rate he has levied against China.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/mexico-cuba-and-trumps-increasing-preference-for-punishment-over-diplomacy

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2019 in South America

 

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Orgullo gay vs. Represión en las calles de La Habana

Activistas y miembros de la comunidad LGBTIQ en Cuba marcharon este sábado de manera independiente por las calles de La Habana en defensa de sus derechos tras la cancelación de la llamada Conga por la Diversidad que anualmente organiza el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX). La celebración pública del orgullo gay no solo fue vigilada de cerca por las autoridades, sino también interrumpida y reprimida violentamente.

https://www.revistaelestornudo.com/orgullo-gay-vs-represion-en-las-calles-de-la-habana/

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in South America

 

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El último año en la vida de Díaz-Canel

Hace un año ya que Raúl Castro, entre aplausos coreografiados, se levantó de su butaca de la Asamblea Nacional y caminó hacia el estrado del Palacio de las Convenciones de La Habana. Alina Balseiro, presidenta de la Comisión Electoral, acababa de hacer público que 603 de los 604 diputados habían elegido como presidente del Consejo de Estado y de Ministros de Cuba al ingeniero electrónico de 57 años Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, único pretendiente al cargo.

Doce años antes, en 2006, Raúl había llegado al poder de manera interina gracias a los designios de su hermano, Fidel Castro, quien, al borde de la muerte debido a una enfermedad intestinal, delegó todos sus poderes políticos a modo de herencia familiar. Raúl estuvo dos años cubriéndole los cargos públicos a su hermano mayor, hasta que en 2008 fue electo de manera oficial como presidente de la nación.

Cuando en la mañana del jueves 19 de abril de 2018 Raúl Castro dejó atrás su asiento para dirigirse a la tribuna, en medio de la consabida ovación de un Parlamento en pleno de pie, llegaban a su fin dos mandatos presidenciales de cinco años —límite que él mismo propuso instaurar— para que asumiera las riendas de la isla, por primera vez, un hombre nacido después del triunfo revolucionario del 1 de enero de 1959. Más tarde, Raúl tomaría con su mano izquierda el antebrazo derecho de su sucesor y lo elevaría hacia las luces del salón: un gesto que la prensa al servicio del Estado vendió al mundo como la imagen de la «continuidad revolucionaria».

https://www.revistaelestornudo.com/el-ultimo-ano-en-la-vida-de-diaz-canel/

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in South America

 

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Animals Keep Creating Mysteries by Sounding Weird

In late 2016, American diplomats living in Cuba started hearing a strange noise in their homes. It was high-pitched, deafening, and persistent—and no one could work out where it was coming from.

In the following years, the mystery ballooned into an international incident. Many of the diplomats experienced dizziness, insomnia, hearing loss, and other troubling symptoms. A team from the University of Pennsylvania examined 21 affected people and concluded that they had “sustained injury to widespread brain networks,” based on evidence that other neurologists said was “almost unbelievably flimsy.” Donald Trump, without evidence, accused Cuba of being responsible. Various parties argued that the strange noise was the result of a sonic weapon, a microwave attack, or malfunctioning eavesdropping equipment.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/sound-haunted-diplomats-cuba-crickets/579637/

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2019 in South America

 

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Los gays en la Casa del Señor

Todos los martes, todos los jueves, todos los sábados, de todas las semanas, alrededor de 700 feligreses esperan las 10 de la mañana con la barriga vacía. «Es un culto de ayuno», dice el diácono Omar Rivas en la puerta de la Iglesia Metodista Universitaria del Vedado, y explica que «para que el Espíritu Santo se apodere del cuerpo, no se pueden ingerir alimentos porque se generan desechos en el organismo». El templo radica en la intercepción de las calles 25 y K. Es grande, espacioso, está rodeado por unos jardines bien cuidados. La entrada tiene una escalera y en una de sus ventanas luce una pancarta en colores de casi dos metros de alto.

La pancarta reza: «ESTOY A FAVOR DEL DISEÑO ORIGINAL», y muestra cuatro siluetas que representan a un hombre y una mujer con dos niños de las manos. Debajo de las figuritas, otro mensaje: «LA FAMILIA COMO DIOS LA CREÓ». Luego, una imagen: un grupo de fieles celebran la unión matrimonial de una o varias parejas. Al final, una última frase: «MATRIMONIO = HOMBRE + MUJER».

Dentro, en uno de los alargados bancos de madera, una anciana tiembla mientras ora con los ojos cerrados. Su susurro se mezcla con el del resto de los devotos; una especie de zumbido altisonante se esparce por todo el recinto. Faltan aún algunos minutos para las 10:00 am, y mientras el pastor se alista para subir al estrado, algunos parroquianos predican.

A través de varios bafles, que están colgados en las paredes blancas y azules del templo, se escucha: «Te pedimos por Cuba, por los pecados de esta tierra, misericordia por los gobernantes de esta nación». Es la prédica de una señora que se mueve por toda la parte delantera del salón con un micrófono en la mano. Los feligreses del fondo levantan la vista y la posan en una de las tres enormes pantallas LED que reproducen lo que acontece.

https://www.revistaelestornudo.com/los-gays-la-casa-del-senor/

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Reportages, South America

 

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Cuba’s Next Transformation

On the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, which the ruling Communist Party celebrated on Tuesday, the island nation is stable, having overcome such existential threats as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and a half-century of diplomatic isolation and withering economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

Cuba has also weathered the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main Cold War benefactor, and a slew of traumatic internal ructions including the Mariel boatlift in 1980 and the Cuban raft exodus in 1994. Last but not least, Cuba has managed its first major political transitions, following the death in 2016 of its defining leader, Fidel Castro; the presidential retirement, last year, of his younger brother, Raúl Castro; and Raúl’s succession in office by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, a 58-year-old Communist Party loyalist.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in South America

 

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El ecosistema Wifi

Dybala es el tipo –le dice Jordan a Daniel, su compañero de negocios, justo antes de que un chiflido lo interrumpa.

Se pone de pie de un salto y busca con la mirada. A media cuadra, un hombre lo espera en una moto eléctrica recién parqueada en una de las esquinas del Parque Coyula, ubicado en las calles 19 y 30, municipio Playa, La Habana. Jordan va hacia él, no sin sigilo. Luego ocurre un canje. Rápido, sin palabras.

Con tres CUC en el bolsillo, Jordan vuelve a lo suyo. Hace dos años, desde que el gobierno instalara en el parque Coyula una zona wifi, Jordan comenzó a revender tarjetas de conexión Nauta, a sabiendas del riesgo que implica tal ilegalidad. Su rutina arranca en la glorieta, junto a Daniel, quien se encarga del negocio cuando por alguna razón él no está.

https://www.revistaelestornudo.com/el-ecosistema-wifi/

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in South America

 

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The Meaning of Che: a Revolutionary Power to Heal

On October 9, 1967, in southern Bolivia, near the barren and desolate village of La Higuera, the Bolivian Army, under instructions from the government of the U.S., trapped the isolated guerrilla column led by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Che, a hero of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, believed that Cuba, only 90 miles away from the mainland of the U.S., would remain vulnerable unless other revolutions succeeded in the world. His reaction to the violent U.S. bombardment of Vietnam had been similar, not enough to defend Vietnam, he had said, but it was necessary ‘to create two, three, many Vietnams’. Failure to spark revolution in Congo led Che to Bolivia, where its army trapped him. He was eventually captured and brought to a schoolhouse. Mario Terán Salazar, a soldier, was tasked with the assassination. Che looked at this quivering man. “Calm down and take good aim,” he told him. “You’re going to kill a man.” Che died on his feet.

Source: The Meaning of Che: a Revolutionary Power to Heal

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2017 in South America

 

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Cuba and the Hurricanes of the Caribbean

As bad as things have been for those who suffered loss and discomfort from Hurricane Irma in the continental United States—where millions of Floridians evacuated their homes and fled north in slow-moving processions of possession-packed cars—the difference in scale between their experience and that of residents of the affected Caribbean islands cannot be understated. That gap has only been accentuated by the advent of Hurricane Maria, which has wreaked havoc upon the island nation of Dominica. The United States citizens most directly in its path—as in Irma’s—are the people of Puerto Rico. Otherwise, only the destruction in the Florida Keys, which are, essentially, Caribbean outcroppings, is comparable. The damage to settlements on some of the Leeward Islands, such as Barbuda and the French-Dutch island of St. Martin, is so thorough that rebuilding seems neither realistic nor wise, given the likelihood that even greater hurricanes will come in the future.

Source: Cuba and the Hurricanes of the Caribbean | The New Yorker

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in South America

 

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