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Daily Archives: July 9, 2011

Cuban transgender woman says she was fired because her lover is with opposition,

Posted on Saturday, 07.09.11

Cuban transgender woman says she was fired because her lover is with opposition

For Mariela Castro, gay rights are OK in Cuba but political rights are not, says transgender woman.By Juan O. Tamayo

A transgender woman has quit her job at a government-run sex studies center headed by the daughter of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro, alleging that Mariela Castro accused her of disloyalty because of her relationship with a gay opposition activist.

Castro "challenged my life, (asking) why am I with my man?" said Wendy Iriepa, 37, who added that she handed in her resignation Thursday to the National Sex Center in Havana (CENESEX), which Castro heads.

Iriepa was a long-time fixture at the center: the first to benefit from Castro's push for government approval of sex-change surgeries and steady participant in center-organized events for Cuba's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Castro, who directs CENESEX, has long been known as an advocate for LGBT rights and widely credited with lobbying the government to crack down on discrimination against gays and offer benefits to LGBT community members.

But a small group of gays has accused her of monopolizing the LGBT rights movement, demanding total loyalty to her father's government and blocking efforts to establish gay rights groups that are independent of the government-run CENESEX.

On June 28, a small group of independent gays and lesbians known as the Observatory for LGBT Rights strolled down a Havana boulevard to mark Gay Pride Day. That's a day Castro has refused to celebrate, arguing that such a protest is not necessary in Cuba.

One of the Observatory members at the demonstration: Iriepa's lover, Ignacio Estrada, a gay activist for the rights of -positive Cubans and self-described "opponent of the Castro government" who spoke at length about the Iriepa case in a phone chat with El Nuevo Herald.

Castro summoned Iriepa to her office the day after the Gay Pride celebration, showed her videos of Estrada's participation and asked "how she could live, in bed and in a home, with an enemy of the revolution," Estrada said.

The CENESEX director added that she had lost all trust in Iriepa, he added, signaling that she would be demoted from her job arranging services for CENESEX functions and managing a list of people who seek the center's help.

"I submitted my letter of resignation yesterday, noting it was due to interference in my personal life. I never before had any political problems," Iriepa told El Nuevo Herald before handing the phone to Estrada because she was busy.

Iriepa and Estrada also claimed that she tasted Castro's food and checked any gifts she received, but two Havana residents who know Iriepa said she simply handled the food at the center.

Iriepa and Estrada also said they plan to marry later this year and that as part of her job Iriepa usually tasted Castro's food and checked any gifts she received. Two Havana residents who know Iriepa said she simply handled the food at the center.

A woman who answered the phone at CENESEX on Friday said Castro was not available to comment for this article and that no one else knew anything about the Iriepa case.

Iriepa's sex-change surgery in 2007 was the first such procedure performed in Cuba after Castro and CENESEX had started to push the government, which owns all hospitals on the island, to approve the surgeries.

She was interviewed for several news reports about LGBT rights in Cuba, Castro and CENESEX, and often marched prominently next to Castro at events organized by the center.

Her surgery "has been a sign of humanity that the Cuban government has given. We have a lot to be thankful for," Iriepa declared in one interview with the British Reuters news agency.

In a separate interview, she thanked Castro and said the sex studies center had helped her understand her rights, noting that even though it is legal for cross-dressers to wear women's clothes in Cuba, often issue them fines.

The Gay Pride celebration last month, though it drew no more than 20 participants, cast a spotlight on the growing activism by a wide range of independent groups — gays, blacks, artists and farmers, among others — seeking a stronger voice in Cuba's affairs.

But a gay Havana man who blogs under the name of "Paquito el de Cuba" and supports the Castro government made a thinly veiled accusation in a July 4 post that the independent gays and lesbians are being supported by enemies of the revolution.

He noted an El Nuevo Herald report last month that the U.S. State Department planned to commit $300,000 this year to help Cuba's LGBT community, and that an organizer of the Gay Pride celebration had met with former Jimmy Carter in March.

"Not one word more," he concluded, as though he had proven his point.

Cuba’s opposition needs exiles’ support not a litmus test on U.S. embargo

Posted on Friday, 07.08.11

Cuba's opposition needs exiles' support not a litmus test on U.S. BY JOE CARDONA

For the better part of my life, Cubans' struggle against tyranny on and off the island has been unfairly undermined and dismissed by the international community as an appendage of the Cold War battle between Washington and Havana.

Given this association, it has been a struggle to get pop culture icons to back the fight for liberty in Cuba. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to hear that Bono mentioned Cuban opposition leader Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet at the U2 concert recently at Sun Life Stadium.

Cuban resistance to despotic regimes, which dates back to the colonial period when Cubans waged wars to free themselves from Spanish rule, has always been founded on an innate and sovereign desire to be free. It is understandable why Cubans outside the country have hitched their cause for a free country to the U.S. wagon — there weren't many countries offering to stand against the Cuban dictatorship.

However, this sometimes incestuous association with the United States in an effort to rid Cuba of Fidel and Raúl Castro has mostly been counterproductive.

As someone who sustains a strong conviction that historical precedence supersedes all flowery rhetoric and purple prose in determining the intended goals of future political strategies, here's my sobering conclusion: The current strategy is not working.

When analyzing the anti-Castro crusade one ominous fact has and continues to cloud, even destroy many, if not all, efforts directed against the Cuban regime: The interests of the U.S. government have rarely if ever been synonymous with the aspirations of a free Cuba.

The vote-seducing jingle ( Cuba sí, Castro no) so many American politicians predictably pronounce, while sipping a café at Versailles in Little Havana, crumbles under the weight of historical evidence.

From the origins of independence, the nationalistic vision of a sovereign Cuba held by revolutionary leaders, such as Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and Calixto Garcia, was at cross purposes with U.S. government interests.

Since the 18th century, American policy toward Cuba has been based on strategic, commercial and security issues, not on altruistic idealism. The most resourceful island in the Caribbean, Cuba has always been the dangling, succulent fruit on the tree that America has craved.

In no way is this an indictment of U.S. political leaders — their responsibility is to protect the best interests of this nation, not one 90 miles from our shores.

Still, many Cubans don't make a distinction. No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver. "No one is blinder than one who does not want to see," cautions the old Cuban axiom. It is difficult for Cuban Americans, who now pledge allegiance to the American flag, to understand that our American brethren do not interpret the issue of in Cuba the way Cubans do.

U.S. aid is essential to fight the Castros' regime, but to what extent should the U.S. government have such responsibility?

Cuban-American legislators are essential liaisons between the Cuban people and the U.S. leadership, but to rely on Washington to single-handedly remove the island from the throes of tyranny is simplistic and illogical.

The cause of a free Cuba would be better served if it were distinguished and disassociated from U.S.-Cuba relations and policies. The U.S. economic embargo, for instance is an issue between the U.S. and Cuban governments — not necessarily a primary topic for Cuban opposition leaders to constantly have to respond to and be judged by.

Cuban opposition has significantly grown on the island during the past 20 years. Cubans everywhere must do more to promulgate the names of the valiant fighters within the island and their cause for freedom.

That's not to diminish the contributions of Cuban exiles. Yet we have an opportunity outside the U.S-Cuba status quo of stalemate after stalemate to independently push forward the concept of liberty and justice within the island nation. Today's brave Cuban opposition leaders don't need or deserve a litmus test about where they stand on the U.S. embargo to be respected — and helped — by those of us already enjoying freedom.

They deserve our embrace.

Prohíben a los cubanos acceder a Internet en los hoteles

Prohíben a los cubanos acceder a en los hotelesViernes, 08 de Julio de 2011 04:59Ainí Martin Valero

Regla, La Habana, 7 de julio de 2011, (PD) María Caraballo, una joven de 23 años con un novio brasileño, llegó el pasado 30 de junio al Parque Central, en el municipio Centro Habana, para conectarse a Internet. Cuál sería su sorpresa cuando en el cibercafé, en que acostumbra a consultar su y navegar, le comunicaron que el Ministerio de Comunicaciones prohibió a los cubanos acceder a los cibercafé que operan en hoteles consagrados al .

La joven se indignó y me cuenta que por poco la llevan presa. "Eso es una falta de respeto, yo soy cubana y tengo CUC que es lo que se necesita para pagar el servicio. ¿Qué les pasa a esta gentuza del gobierno, nos quieren acorralar más? Dije allí de todo. Cuando vino la seguridad del hotel me dijeron que me calmara o me llevarían presa. Me fui, ya que allí había más personas y nadie protestó, sólo yo", comentó.proh

En Cuba existe una férrea censura a la Internet. Los medios oficiales y los periódicos del gobierno son la única vía de información de los cubanos. Ilegalmente existen antenas parabólicas, conexiones inalámbricas para internet y otras vías, que el cubano ha inventado para romper la desinformación a que es sometido desde hace mas de 50 años.

Cuba academic: Party expulsion order overturned

Posted on Friday, 07.08.11

Cuba academic: Party expulsion order overturnedBy ANDREA RODRIGUEZAssociated Press

HAVANA — A prominent Cuban intellectual who came under fire for an unusually frank article denouncing high-level corruption says an order expelling him from the Communist Party has been overturned.

Esteban Morales wrote Thursday on his personal website that a party appeals commission called him in last week to tell him of its ruling.

"I was informed of the decision to nullify the separation order from the municipal party community … to return my membership," Morales said.

An economist and columnist known for his work on topics including racism and U.S. relations, Morales published the article that got him into trouble in April 2010 on the website of the National Union of Writers and Artists.

He wrote that some top officials were preparing to divide the spoils if Cuba's communist political system disintegrates, and that graft posed a greater threat to the state than the island's small, fractured community of dissidents.

"Corruption is the true counterrevolution," Morales wrote.

The essay broke a taboo by openly discussing corruption rumors surrounding the dismissal of a top government aviation official who had fought alongside Fidel and and Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the 1950s.

In the following months, authorities have reported trials and convictions of dozens of Cubans, including one former Cabinet minister and at least three foreign businessmen who were accused of falsifying documents, fraud against the state and even laundering drug money.

Last July, Morales announced that his essay had led to an effort to expel him from the Communist Party. At the time, he defended his right to air his critiques and said he would appeal the decision.

Raul Castro himself has said fighting corruption is a major challenge for Cuba, and this April he urged Communist Party members not to keep quiet with their criticisms.

Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Galban dies

Posted on Friday, 07.08.11

Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Galban diesBy PETER ORSIAssociated Press

HAVANA — Manuel Galban, a Grammy-winning Cuban guitarist who rose to international fame as a member of the Buena Vista Social Club, has died of a heart attack in Havana. He was 80.

An article in Communist Party newspaper Granma on Friday noted Galban's passing the previous day and called him a "master of the guitar."

"It is a very sad day for Cuban music and fans of Cuban Music," said Daniel Florestano, longtime manager of both Galban and the Buena Vista Social Club, in a statement issued by Galban's publicist. "Galban's enormous impact worldwide with his unique guitar sound and warm smile will be missed by many."

Born in 1931 in Gibara, in the eastern province of Holguin, Galban made his professional debut in 1944, according to the statement. In 1963 he joined Los Zafiros, Spanish for "Sapphires," which fused styles as varied as bolero, calypso and rock with Cuban "filin" music, which comes from the word "feeling."

The group became one of the island's most popular until it disbanded in 1972.

Galban spent the next three years as head of Cuba's national music ensemble.

He then formed a group known as Batey, which performed throughout the world "representing Cuba in numerous acts of solidarity," Granma said.

In the 1990s he became part of the Buena Vista Social Club project, a group of elderly, sometimes retired, musicians who were living quietly in Cuba before U.S. guitarist and producer Ry Cooder brought them together.

The album was an international smash hit and later the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Wim Wenders.

In 2003 Galban teamed up with Cooder to record Mambo Sinuendo. It won a Grammy the following year for best pop instrumental album.

Galban follows others from the Buena Vista Social Club who have already died, including Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Cachaito Lopez and vocalist Pio Leyva.

Traveling to Cuba, as a Cuban

Traveling to Cuba, as a Cubanby Achy Obejas | Jul. 08, 2011

If things had gone according to plan, I'd be writing this from Havana, the first of what I hoped – and maybe still hope, I'm not sure now – would be a brief series of blogs from the city in which I was born.

But instead I'm writing from a dreary non-beach in Cancun, Mexico, listening to the rain come down like a machine gun on the roof. The streets are inundated from the avalanche of water, a fact I discovered on my little jaunt downtown to the Cuban consulate.

See, supposedly, as a Cuban citizen with a duly recognized Cuban passport, a trip to Cuba shouldn't be much of a trial. Sure, Cubans – like most Latin Americans – love a good bureaucracy, but between my own resigned experience and most of the bureaucrats' own growing experience, it's been getting better.

Normally, I to Cuba via Jamaica, on what I now think of as a great , Air Jamaica. I recall they used to have a champagne breakfast en route to Havana. But I digress … the poor suckers went bankrupt and got reorganized and, in the process, friends recommended the Cuba Network. It's basically a German travel agent that administers business for Cubana de Aviación, the Cuban national airline.

Normally, I try to avoid Cubana. Not very supportive, I know, but I once flew Havana to Santiago on Cubana on an old Soviet-era that scared the devil out of me. Besides the fact that the flies buzzing around seemed to defy the laws governing air pressure, the seats were worn down to their metal skeletons, and the noise that came from the engines seemed to suggest an emergency landing … well, almost any minute. My fear's not rational, but that's the way it is. It's not just me though: In Cuba, the airline is actually referred to as "La Milagrosa," the miraculous one.

Anyway, when I finally emerged out of in Cancun yesterday – a mind numbing 2 hours after arrival because the Mexican customs computers were down off and on – I made my way over to the Cubana counter where I was promptly informed I didn't have the proper documentation.

You may wonder what that is. See, in most countries, citizens can breeze in and out with a passport. And I have that. In fact, it's good until March 12 of next year. I also have a nifty little sticker on my Cuban passport called the "rehabilatación," a unique Cuban permit that allows certain citizens to go in and out of the island without having to ask permission each time.

Yeah, Cubans need to ask permission of Cuba to both come and go from their own country. Not just me or other Cubans living abroad. Everybody. If you don't get the permit as a rehabilitación, you have to get an individual travel waiver each and every time you travel, in and out of Cuba. (It's like getting a visa to your own country as well as to the country you're going to.)

But there's one other little thing, called a "prórroga." If you look it up, it means deferment or some such thing. You may wonder what, exactly, is being deferred. But your passport, which is good for 6 years, and your rehabilitación, which runs concurrently, are worthless without a prórroga, which is only good for two years at a time.

Needless to say, the passport has a fee, the rehabilitación has a separate fee, and the prórroga has a separate fee. Never mind that they all work together.

So when I arrived yesterday, all was good except my prórroga but I wasn't worried. I'd travelled through Jamaica dozens of times with the same situation and simply gotten my prórroga renewed in Cuba. No such luck here.

After various attempts to get on the plane via a variety of exemptions (the consulate here was closed already), I ended up staying the night in Cancun. First order of business had been to change my flight via email, since every single Cubana rep at the vanished the minute my flight took off.

This morning, it looked pretty good. The rep in Havana dealt with the guy in and emailed that all was settled. I was then at the consulate, enduring a cretin from Italy who kept pointing at the portrait of José Martí and asking me if that was Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the revolution's early heroes, then asking if the guy next to Fidel in another picture was Camilo (it was Che), and also, by the way, Cuban women … they're really something, aren't they?

Finally, I paid $1,400 Mexican pesos for the prórroga which, as it turns out, is retroactive, so only good until March 12. Meaning that, if this trip doesn't work out, it'll have been a complete waste of time and money.

What happened? Well, while I was dealing with the Italian, an email came in from Havana. The Cubana girl in Havana said someone had cancelled my flight yesterday, including my return. And that I needed to confirm that I wanted to fly today. I emailed back that, yes, that was the plan. Two seconds later, she wrote that it didn't matter because they couldn't release a flight to without a flight back from Cuba. Oh, and Cubana here in Cancun is closed. It should be open, yes, but it's not.

I'm headed to the airport now to see what happens. I may write again from Havana on Monday, if I'm lucky, or maybe back from Chicago. I'll let you know.

Cubans eye prospect of being able to buy and sell homes

9 July 2011 Last updated at 13:42 GMT

Cubans eye prospect of being able to buy and sell homes

Private property sales are about to make a comeback in Cuba for the first time since they were outlawed by the government after the 1959 revolution. The BBC's Michael Voss meets one couple desperate for a place of their own.

Mario Perez and Lilian Carballo were married for 11 years before they broke up about 12 months ago.

They still see each other every day. But out of necessity, not choice.

Their story is not unusual in Cuba, where divorced couples stay under the same roof because they have nowhere to move to.

And it is not uncommon for three generations to live together in a tiny apartment.

Cuba, with its population of 11 million people, has a shortfall of about 500,000 homes. Much of the existing stock is run-down and in need of repair.

The Communist Party Congress in April agreed in principle to allow people to start buying and selling homes and cars.

Now the government has started fleshing out some of the details and says that the changes should be in place by the end of the year.

"It's difficult living together, " said Lilian.

"Everyone has their own habits; some are tidier than others. It's OK when you are in love but afterwards such things become really annoying."

By Cuban standards, Mario and Lilian's first-floor flat is relatively spacious with a small balcony off the living room. They share a tiny kitchen and bathroom but do have separate bedrooms.

It was a relatively amicable divorce and at least they remain on speaking terms. The pressure, though, is hard to bear.

"It's all about respect. I can have a girlfriend but I can't bring her home just as she can't bring a boyfriend here. It's one of the conditions we jointly agreed on, " said Mario, a jazz and rock drummer who is struggling to make ends meet.Swap shop

Most Cubans do have title to their homes and can pass them on to their children. But buying and selling property were outlawed in the early 1960s as Cuba set about building an idealistic communist state.

The only legal way to move house is through a complicated bureaucratic swap system called "La Permuta", The Exchange.

Every Saturday morning, hundreds of Cubans gather on the pedestrianised Paseo de Prado in Central Havana looking for people to swap with.

There are old ladies holding handwritten notes giving details of what they have and what they want. Other people look through lists pinned to trees.

Maritza Rodriguez is walking up and down holding up a sign which simply says '1 x 2'. She and her brother want to swap the house they inherited from their parents for two smaller apartments.

"We have no other choice: swapping is our only option," she said.

There are plenty of middlemen and touts helping people to make the right contacts and handle the bureaucracy.

You need government permission to make a swap and officially money is not allowed to change hands. This has led to under-the-table payments and widespread corruption.

One of the classics of Cuban cinema, made in 1984 by Juan Carlos Tabio, was a comedy called "Se Permuta", House for Swap.

It was a farcical and satirical look at the ridiculous lengths one woman went to as she tried, unsuccessfully, to move house.

Only now, 27 years later, is the system finally being reformed.

Soon people will be allowed to buy and sell homes, or pay the difference when swapping, all with a minimum of government interference.

One of the most welcome announcements was that property transactions would be performed by licensed notaries. This should avoid lthe ong wait for approval from various ministries and other government bodies.

"It's great," said Marlen, a Havana nurse who asked that her last name not be used.

"Now all those people who have made our lives miserable and turned the regulations into a way of making money might have to earn a living."

According to Juan Triana, from the Havana-based Centre for the Study of the Cuban , housing is one of the three main problems, along with and transportation.

"The government and the party know that people are buying houses on the black market.

"The idea, in part, is to give more transparency to this market. That is why we need a new law to allow people to buy and sell houses freely," he said.Property boom?

This is the latest in a series of modest but ideologically significant reforms that Cuba's has demanded since taking over from his ailing elder brother, Fidel.

So far, more than 200,000 Cubans have taken up the offer to become self-employed and set up small businesses. Many were working for themselves illegally on the black in Cuba harvesting lettuce – file photo Private farmers produce about two-thirds of Cuba's home-grown food

In , Castro is trying to reduce Cuba's dependence on costly food imports by revitalising the farming sector.

would have called for greater discipline and revolutionary zeal from the farmers.

Instead, the government has leased out more than 1m hectares (2.5m acres) of unused state land to private farmers who today produce at least 70% of all the food grown on the island.

Last year, restrictions were lifted on individuals building new homes on private plots. It is also easier to rent properties or rooms today. This has led to a mini building boom and many houses in Havana have been getting a fresh lick of paint.

According to Granma, the official Communist Party newspaper, it will take until the end of the year to get the new property regulations and legislation in place.

In a country where the average wage remains barely $20 (£12) a month, it is those who have financial support from relatives abroad who will be in the strongest position to start buying properties.

This may create social tensions and problems in the future, although under the new rules everyone will be restricted to owning just one home.

For divorcees Mario Perez and Lilian Carballo, the return of private property sales can't come a moment too soon.

Cuban Pastor, Family Arrive in U.S. After Suffering Under Regime

The Christian Post > World|Sat, Jul. 09 2011 11:08 AM EDT

Cuban Pastor, Family Arrive in U.S. After Suffering Under Regime

Authorities imprisoned, fined church planter who fought for religious .By Compass Direct News

The Rev. Carlos Lamelas, 50, his wife Uramis and two daughters, Estephanie, 18, and Daniela, 10, landed at Miami International Thursday evening (July 7) on a direct flight from Havana.

Lamelas, who once served as national of his denomination in Cuba, was granted asylum in the United States due to he has endured for more than five years at the hands of Cuban authorities. On Feb. 20, 2006, security officials conducted an early morning raid of his home and Lamelas.

They accused the successful evangelist and church planter of "human trafficking," a charge related to aiding Cubans who wish to escape Cuba without government permission. Those close to Lamelas, however, said targeted him because he had challenged the Castro regime on religious liberty issues.

During his imprisonment, hundreds of letters poured in from fellow Christians around the world, confirming their prayers for him and offering encouragement. Jailers admitted to Uramis Lamelas that the correspondence created difficulties for them, and that they "had decided on a change in procedure."

Four months after his arrest, Lamelas was unexpectedly released. Authorities tried him in court in December of 2006. The state prosecuting attorney recommended acquittal on the human trafficking charge, which carries a sentence of up to nine years in .

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Later that month, however, the court convicted Lamelas on a previously unannounced charge of "falsifying documents" and fined him 1,000 Cuban pesos (US$45). The move was seen as an effort to save face and send Lamelas a message that he was still under surveillance.

Denied means of employment following his imprisonment – leaders of his denomination had earlier expelled Lamelas from the church at the behest of government authorities – he supported his family as a freelance photographer.

Fearing another unexpected arrest and possible long-term imprisonment, Lamelas applied for political asylum in 2010 but was denied. He described the ordeal to friends as "our spiritual waters of Mara. As when Moses was leading the God's people through the wilderness and, hungry and thirsty, they found the bitter waters of Mara."

A U.S. official in Havana familiar with the Lamelas case encouraged him to reapply for asylum. Following interviews with the family on March 22, the Department of Internal Security determined they qualified as political refugees.

The family will be resettled in Texas under the auspices of the Division of Refugee Affairs of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Lamelas admitted that the news that they had qualified as political refugees came as a shock, albeit a welcome one. Tense months of waiting and uncertainty had aggravated nagging problems – he has suffered from chronic stomach ailments since his imprisonment. But once he learned of the asylum decision, he began to recover.

"For our part, we have been open to the will of God, and we know He will take us where we can best serve Him," he wrote. "Our moral commitment with the Lord's work is permanent and without borders . . . We know that many brothers and sisters have collaborated for our benefit – we're sorry not to know specifically who they are. Nevertheless, we want them to know that our love and gratitude is sealed in our hearts for the rest of our lives."

Ciudadano espirituano denuncia atropello

Ciudadano espirituano denuncia atropelloAna Margarita Perdigón9 de julio de 2011

Sancti Spíritus, Cuba – – El miércoles 29 de junio, numerosos agentes de la autoridad se presentaron en la Terminal de Ómnibus de Sancti Spíritus y expulsaron del lugar a los vendedores de golosinas y otros comestibles que prestaban sus servicios en ese sitio.

Según comunicó Jorge Llerena Reyes, los represivos informaron verbalmente que la medida se debe a una orden superior que prohíbe la venta de productos de ese tipo en lugares públicos tales como hospitales, escuelas y centros de transportación.

La disposición ocasionó protestas de los afectados, así como de usuarios, uno de los cuales exclamó en alta voz: "¡Se ve que los que mandan no tienen que montar guaguas ni pasar hambre en la terminal!"

Dos hermanos poseedores de la correspondiente licencia que se negaron a que registraran sus pertenencias en el lugar, fueron golpeados brutalmente, incluso después de esposados, por individuos vestidos de civil que posteriormente se identificaron como agentes de la policía.

Agencia Yayabo Press

Hija de Raúl Castro presiona a mujer transgénero por relación con opositor

Publicado el sábado, 07.09.11

Hija de Raúl Castro presiona a mujer transgénero por relación con opositorJuan O. Tamayo

Una mujer transgénero renunció a su trabajo en un centro de estudios sexológicos dirigido por Mariela Castro, hija del gobernante cubano Raúl Castro, alegando que ésta la acusó de deslealtad por su relación personal con un activista gay de la oposición.

Wendy Iriepa, de 37 años, dijo que Mariela Castro "vino a cuestionar" su vida, preguntando por qué mantenía una relación con su compañero, Ignacio Estrada. Añadió que entregó el jueves su renuncia en el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX) en La Habana.

Iriepa era una veterana del centro: fue la primera en beneficiarse de las gestiones de Mariela a fin de conseguir aprobación gubernamental para las operaciones de cambio de sexo, en su caso de hombre a mujer. También participó frecuentemente en eventos organizados por el centro para la comunidad Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual y Transgénero (LGBT) de Cuba.

Mariela se ha destacado por mucho tiempo como promotora de los derechos LGBT y muchos le acreditan haber intercedido ante el gobierno para que ayudara a eliminar la discriminación contra los gays y ofreciera beneficios a los miembros de la comunidad LGBT.

Pero un pequeño grupo de gays la ha acusado de monopolizar el movimiento de derechos LGBT, exigiendo lealtad absoluta al gobierno de su padre y bloqueando los esfuerzos de establecer grupos de derechos gay que sean independientes del gubernamental CENESEX.

El 28 de junio, un pequeño grupo de gays y lesbianas conocido como Observatorio Cubano de los Derechos de la Comunidad LGBT marcharon por el Paseo del Prado, en La Habana, para marcar el Día del Orgullo Gay. Ese es una fecha que Mariela no ha querido celebrar, alegando que ese tipo de protesta no es necesaria en Cuba.

Uno de los miembros del Observatorio que participaron en la protesta fue Estrada, activista gay por los derechos de los cubanos infectados con el virus del , y quien dijo ser un opositor al gobierno de Raúl Castro durante una entrevista telefónica con El Nuevo Herald el viernes.

Mariela llamó a Iriepa a su oficina después de la celebración del Orgullo Gay, le mostró videos de la participación de Estrada y le preguntó "cómo iba a convivir en la cama o en la casa con un enemigo de la revolución", dijo Estrada.

Según él, Mariela había perdido toda confianza en Iriepa, indicando que sería destituida de su puesto administrando servicios de para actividades del CENESEX y manejando una lista de personas que piden la ayuda del centro.

"Presenté mi carta de renuncia por discrepancias, por injerencia en mi vida personal. Yo nunca tuve ningún problema político antes", afirmó Iriepa a El Nuevo Herald antes de pasar el teléfono a Estrada.

Iriepa y Estrada dijeron también que planean casarse más adelante este mismo año. Precisó que, como parte de su trabajo, Iriepa generalmente probaba la comida de Mariela y revisaba todos los regalos que recibía. Dos residentes de La Habana que conocen a Iriepa dijeron que ella simplemente manejaba la comida en el centro.

Una mujer que respondió el teléfono el viernes en el CENESEX afirmó que Mariela no estaba disponible para hacer comentarios sobre el tema, y que nadie más sabía nada sobre el caso de Iriepa.

La operación de cambio de sexo de Iriepa en el 2007 fue la primera de este tipo llevada a cabo en Cuba después de que Mariela y el CENESEX comenzaron a presionar al gobierno para que aprobara las operaciones.

Iriepa participó en entrevistas para la prensa relacionadas con los derechos LGBT en Cuba, así como la labor de Mariela y el CENESEX. A menudo marchó en posición prominente junto a Mariela en eventos organizados por el centro.

En una entrevista con la agencia de prensa británica Reuters, Iriepa dijo que su operación "ha sido una prueba de humanidad que ha dado el gobierno cubano".

"Tenemos mucho que agradecer", declaró entonces Iriepa.

En otra entrevista dio las gracias a Mariela y señaló que el centro la había ayudado a entender sus derechos, señalando que aunque en Cuba es legal para los travestis usar ropas de mujer, la policía les impone multas a menudo.

Aunque no atrajo a más de 20 participantes, la celebración del Orgullo Gay en junio llamó la atención sobre el creciente activismo de un amplio rango de grupos independientes –gays, negros, artistas y campesinos, entre otros— que tratan de tener una mayor participación en los asuntos de Cuba.

Pero un hombre gay de La Habana que escribe un bajo el nombre de "Paquito el de Cuba" y apoya el gobierno de Raúl Castro hizo una acusación tenuemente velada en una entrada del 4 de julio de que los gays y lesbianas independientes están siendo respaldados por enemigos de la revolución.

La entrada señaló un reportaje del mes pasado de El Nuevo Herald que indicaba que el Departamento de Estado de planeaba dedicar este año $300,000 para ayudar a la comunidad LGBT de Cuba, y que un organizador de la celebración del Orgullo Gay se había reunido en marzo con el ex Jimmy Carter, quien estuvo de visita en La Habana.

"Ni una palabra más', concluyó el , como si hubiera probado su aserción.

Cuba: el síndrome de Benjamin Button

Cuba: el síndrome de Benjamin ButtonVICENTE BOTÍN 09/07/2011

A los hermanos Castro y a la nomenclatura cubana les gustaría ser como el protagonista del relato de Francis Scott Fitzgerald, El curioso caso de Benjamin Button, que David Fincher llevó al cine en 2008, con Brad Pitt como protagonista. Es la historia de un hombre que nace con el cuerpo de un anciano y va rejuveneciendo con el paso del tiempo hasta que muere a los 85 años con el aspecto de un bebé.

La gerontocracia cubana desearía que su reloj biológico fuera como el de Benjamin Button para poder caminar hacia atrás en el tiempo. La cuadrilla de ancianos que gobierna Cuba desde hace más de medio siglo se resiste a aceptar lo inevitable. Su vida y su obra están a punto de fenecer. Pero ellos actúan como si fueran a vivir eternamente, como si su obra fuera a persistir. Viven encerrados en una caverna como la ideada por Platón, cegados por un vano solipsismo que les impide ver la realidad.

Es difícil creer que la revolución cubana va a continuar después de la desaparición física de sus hacedores. Produce estupor ver a Raúl Castro pegar parches con saliva en las velas desplegadas a todo trapo de un barco encallado. Sorprende ver al otrora Líder Máximo bendecir sin rechistar las "reformas" de su hermano que, entre otras cosas, legitiman a los merolicos, los trabajadores por cuenta propia a los que demonizó con acusaciones de "contrarrevolucionarios, bandidos, especuladores y lacra social explotadora".

Al sanedrín de ancianos que gobierna Cuba ya no les queda ni siquiera la vergüenza de enrocarse en sus "convicciones". Han dejado de ser lo que dicen que fueron. En 1959, dijo: "Queremos liberar de dogmas al hombre (…) el problema es que nos dieron a escoger entre un capitalismo que mata de hambre a la gente, y el comunismo, que resuelve el problema económico pero que suprime las libertades tan caras al hombre". Cincuenta y dos años después no se sabe muy bien en qué quedó aquella elección porque en Cuba no hay libertades y tampoco se ha resuelto el problema económico. Por eso Raúl Castro, en un más difícil todavía, parece inclinarse ahora por una mixtura entre comunismo y capitalismo, es decir que Cuba sea capitalista sin dejar de ser comunista. Como en el juego de Rayuela (se llama Pon, en Cuba), Raúl Castro salta a la pata coja de una casilla a otra para salir del purgatorio y alcanzar el paraíso con cuidado de no caer en el infierno.

En su libro Rayuela, Julio Cortázar propone al lector una búsqueda a través del caos. Y eso es lo que parece estar haciendo Raúl Castro. Después de destruir Cuba junto con su hermano, se postula ahora como arquitecto para reconstruir el país. Elemperador cubano sueña con la Domus Aúrea, la Casa de Oro que Nerón edificó sobre las cenizas de la Roma que ordenó incendiar. Las "reformas" que ha puesto en marcha son un lavado de cara, un espejismo en medio del desierto para hacer creer que el sistema puede reformarse desde dentro.

Si damos la vuelta al famoso anatema de Fidel Castro: "Dentro de la revolución todo; contra la revolución, nada", podría decirse: "Contra la revolución, todo; dentro de la revolución, nada". A partir de esta premisa ¿se puede encarar el futuro de Cuba? Hay muchas variables en juego. No se puede trazar una línea divisoria entre los que miran al pasado y los que lo hacen al futuro. Dentro del régimen hay fuerzas contrapuestas entre los duros y los pragmáticos; fuera de él, la sopa de letras que forman el insilio y el exilio, hacen muy difícil un frente común contra la dictadura. Sin , todos esperan el hecho biológico, la desaparición física de los hermanos Castro.

La monarquía cubana no tiene un heredero como en Corea del Norte o Siria. La revolución devoró a sus propios hijos y no queda nadie con el carisma suficiente como para aglutinar a las distintas "familias" que controlan el país. La lucha por el poder puede ser despiadada como lo fue en la URSS tras la caída del comunismo. No será por ideología sino por dinero. Como dicen los gánsteres de la película El Padrino, de Francis Ford Coppola, "no es nada personal, solo son negocios".

En el caso de que la nomenclatura resuelva la disputa a la rusa, quizá también como en Rusia alumbren a un aprendiz de brujo que quiera "blanquear" la revolución con un partido similar a Rusia Unida, de Vladímir Putin. Si a Enrique IV de , París bien le valió una misa, el Putin cubano y su camarilla no tendrían inconveniente en someterse al veredicto de las urnas teniendo como tienen todos los resortes del poder en sus manos. Hay muchos intereses en juego y harán lo imposible por mantener el control sobre los recursos económicos del país.

Los partidos democráticos y sus líderes, desconocidos por el pueblo cubano, tendrán que decidir si quieren participar en un juego desigual con rivales experimentados y con las cartas marcadas o, por el contrario, se inclinarán por un borrón y cuenta nueva. Hay grupos radicales que rechazan todo contacto con la dictadura, pero otros preconizan un diálogo con los "reformistas" para negociar una transición pacífica a la democracia. El modelo español es una referencia para ellos. También, la Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia chilena, que aglutinó a los principales sectores de la oposición a Augusto Pinochet y derrotó al candidato de la dictadura en las elecciones presidenciales de 1989.

Es muy difícil especular sobre lo que va a pasar en Cuba. La tarea que se ha propuesto Raúl Castro para "actualizar" el modelo y garantizar la "irreversibilidad" del socialismo, es una quimera tan fantástica como el monstruo imaginario de la mitología griega que tenía tres cabezas, una de león, otra de cabra y otra de dragón que salía de su cola. Raúl Castro no echa fuego por la boca, pero sus palabras son cenizas. Lo que arde en Cuba son los rescoldos de una hoguera apagada imposible de avivar.

Los babalawos, los sacerdotes de la santería cubana utilizan un complejo sistema de adivinación para que el orisha o dios Orula les revele el futuro. En ninguna de sus predicciones aparece Benjamin Button, un hombre que nació con el cuerpo de un anciano y va rejuveneciendo con el paso del tiempo hasta que muere a los 85 años con el aspecto de un bebé. Pero los hermanos Castro sueñan con parecerse a Benjamin Button. No quieren darse cuenta de que su reloj no puede ir hacia atrás. Su reloj se detuvo hace mucho tiempo.

Vicente Botin, excorresponsal de TVE en Cuba, es autor de Los funerales de Castro y Raúl Castro: La pulga que cabalgó al tigre.

Firma española ofrece una ‘nueva vida’ para las motos soviéticas Ural


Firma española ofrece una 'nueva vida' para las motos soviéticas UralAgenciasLa Habana 09-07-2011 – 5:33 pm.

Un portal de la Isla propone su renovación por un equipo nuevo con piezas de la marca Dnepr.

Los cubanos que tienen viejas motos Ural, soviéticas, recibieron hoy la peculiar propuesta de renovarlas "sin necesidad de aumentar" el número de vehículos en el país, informó ANSA.

"Sin necesidad de aumentar el parque de vehículos del país se pueden renovar todas las Ural que están en mal estado, por un equipo nuevo donde solo se mantenga su cuadro y las demás piezas serían incorporadas de la moto Dnepr totalmente nuevas", anunció una firma española.

La propuesta está a tono con la política oficial de conseguir ahorros energéticos.

La firma Palmas Export-Import S.A., de Islas Canarias, destacada en Cuba, brinda ese servicio en la revista Opciones, en su página en .

La mayoría de los vehículos privados que circulan actualmente son de origen norteamericano, de la década de los 50, o fabricados en la desaparecida Unión Soviética.

Entre estos últimos se destacan los automóviles Lada y las motos Ural, que recuerdan la época de oro de las relaciones entre ambos países, terminada en 1991 cuando la URSS quedó desintegrada.

En el caso de las motos Ural, sus fabricantes afirman que son "irrompibles", y comenzaron a hacerse en 1939, poco antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

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