CUBABRIEF: THE WHITE HOUSE NEW TENANT AND THE RUSSIANS ARE BACK
RAUL CASTRO AND THE NEW TENANT: Just in case the Cuban dictator had not realized fully the implications of the new tenant in the White House, the U.S. missile attack against a Syrian air force base, and the unanimous Congressional support it has receivedhas reminded him of the new reality. The shorthand for what has happened in Havana, Tehran and Pyongyang is that “Trump is not Obama.”
ELIECER AVILA INSISTS THAT ‘WE ARE MORE,’ [Somos+]When Eliécer Ávila in 2008 took the microphone to question Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s National Assembly about travel restrictions, Mr. Alarcon said that the reason was that otherwise there would be “congested skies” with too many airplanes. When the video went viral Eliécer was abused and persecuted. At the Havana airport returning from Colombia last week, he was detained and his laptop, money and other items were confiscated, reports Yoani Sanchez in 14yMedio. His house was searched, and the young leader of Somos + [We are More] was arrested “and charged with illicit economic activity.”
THE WASHINGTON POST HEADLINES TODAY THAT “The Soviet Union fought the Cold War in Nicaragua. Now Putin’s Russia is back.” In Cuba they never left. Little media attention was given to Russian spy ships docked in Havana Harbor while President Obama’s negotiators drank those “mojitos” with Cuba’s secret police Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Castro Espin, General Raul Castro’s son.
A CUBAN DIVER WITH THE POLICE AFTER HIM AND A STACK OF DEGREES UNDER HIS MATTRESS was picked up by the Coast Guard: "We were on the mother ship for seven days. Separately, we were interviewed by an Emigration Officer who asked us many questions. I got seasick: nausea, dizziness, incoherent speech, and I was unable to tell him that I was Joaquín Vázquez from Jaimanitas, with multiple degrees under my mattress, and that I dove every day in the sea to bring up sludge worms, and with the police after me, on top of everything. But I didn’t say that. They returned us to Cuba.” But Cuba Adjustment Act or not, hope is eternal. “Hey,” he says, “the weather's good. I'm headed for the water.”http://diariodecuba.mailrelay-ii.com/newslink/5830736/4502.html
14ymedio, April 8, 2017
Eliécer Ávila, The ‘New Man’ Who Became An Opponent
By Yoani Sanchez,
Havana, 8 April 2017 – Walking along the streets with Eliécer Ávila can be a complicated task. His face is well known thanks to a viral video broadcast almost a decade ago. However, before fame came into his life, this young man born in Las Tunas was a model “New Man”: the most finished product of ideological indoctrination.
Like all Cuban children, Avila shouted slogans during his school’s morning assembly, participated in countless repudiation activities “against imperialism” and dreamed of resembling Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. But while, in school, they taught him the social achievements that the Revolutionary process brought to the population, at home reality was stubborn and showed itself to be something quite different. [More]
The Blaze, April 9, 2017
Russia’s disturbing new spy base is on America’s doorstep
By Justin Haskins
A new report published today by the Washington Post claims the Russian government has constructed a new intelligence base in Central America.
The alleged base is located in Managua, Nicaragua, a city of about 2.2 million people. The Washington Post report states the Nicaraguan government claims the operation is “simply a tracking site of the Russian version of a GPS satellite system,” but the article claims sources in the U.S. government believe the site is being used for more than just GPS.
“Current and former U.S. officials suspect the new Russian facilities could have ‘dual use’ capabilities, particularly for electronic espionage … showing Russia can also strut in the United States’ back yard,” wrote Joshua Partlow for the Post. [More]
Diario de Cuba, [Havana] April 7, 2017
A diver with a stack of degrees under his mattress
He gets by selling sludge worms. DesSpite having trained to be a skipper, he has failed in his attempts to cross the Florida Straits.
Joaquín Vázquez is one of the many parents whose best-laid plans for the future fell apart. Under the mattress of his room he stores several diplomas from studies he undertook to achieve a broad education. He says they were of no use to him. "I have to get by selling sludge worms (calandracas), to support my family."
We talked in the entranceway of his grandparents' house. He says that when he graduated from high school he did not rush to get a job, but rather worked harder, and in a relatively short time earned a Master's in the Culinary Art, took a course in Baking, specialized in Urban Design, and studied four semesters at the Port of Havana.
"To get a captain's license," he says.
Of all his studies he liked this last one most, because of the family tradition involved and his personal tie to the sea. Joaquín is a member of one of the founding families of Jaimanitas 110 years ago, the Bustamantes, who created buceo en el limpio, which consists of extracting jewels and money that visitors carelessly lose from the sand on beaches, and the sale of sludge worms and bait, two trades today plied by the locals, or Jaimanitenses.
"But, as Cuba has no ships, the captaining classes were delayed," Joaquin continues. "They sold the boats when the Special Period hit, and now in the Port of Havana there only remains the boat 'Bay of Nipe', as it’s so busy, with all the coming and going now. A boat that sailed so many seas, now reduced to cruising around they bays, making petty runs. "
"We had to do the hands-on training on a Spanish boat," he recalls. "It pains me to say that. After graduation, the crew met up. We looked at each other and we said: 'Where are we going to work, if there are no boats? Now at the port you can see a cruise ship anchored every day. Yesterday I saw a huge one. I looked at it from afar and I said 'God, if only I could be at the helm of one of those, docking in Taiwan or Cyprus' ... But I know I'll never will. That's reserved for other people."
Joaquin's degrees have been stowed away so long now that they are yellowing, and some are dog-eared. But the young man did not give up in his effort to succeed in life. He started a family, and the sea gave him sustenance.
"I built an apartment in the courtyard. It took me 10 years. I managed by bringing up sludge worms, working like a dog, and with the help of my wife, who works at the house of a diplomat with two children, like us, so they passed on their old clothes and shoes, which helped. I bought the plasma TV therethanks to a 22-gram gold chain that I found in my fishing area, across from the Marcelo (wall). The kitchen counterand the plumbing was possible because I won la bolita (underground lottery) back in 2014, making history: 22 and 69, the police and chaos..."
And he explains how he envisioned that winning combination: “I saw Cuba as a place of chaos, with my dusty diplomas, skyrocketing prices and low wages, and I had the boss breathing me down the back of my neck. No matter how often I told him that there were no boats, he told me that I had to work. Fortunately, doors were opened for self-employment, though bringing up sludge worms and diving do not appear among the new trades allowed. We get in the water every day, to look for something to live on.”
Joaquín has attempted to cross the Strait of Florida three times, and says that it is the only possible way out of the bind in which he finds himself. The last time was a few months ago, in a ramshackle vessel of foam and wood, rigged with a tractor engine and a propeller. Fifteen local jaimanitenses left from the Muro del Marcelo (wall). At the helm was Joaquin, who drew upon everything he had learned in the course at the port, captaining the contraption safely for many miles, and drifting with the current, as the books recommend.
The third night, when there was no more water or food left, they spotted long, bright lights, and he thought it was Key West, but it wasn’t. In fact, they were in for a big let-down: despite all his sailing practice and training on that Spanish ship, Joaquin ended up sailing directly to the "mother ship" charged with picking up balseros (refugees attempting to emigrate from Cuba by boat) on the high seas and return them to Cuba.
"We were on the mother ship for seven days. Separately, we were interviewed by an Emigration Officer who asked us many questions. I got seasick: nausea, dizziness, incoherent speech, and I was unable to tell him that I was Joaquín Vázquez from Jaimanitas, with multiple degrees under my mattress, and that I dove every day in the sea to bring up sludge worms, and with the police after me, on top of everything. But I didn’t say that. They returned us to Cuba. Hey, the weather's good. I'm headed for the water.