Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Recognizing families as spaces for support and growth is a commitment of the Code. Photo: José Manuel Correa
With The Arranged Marriage, Vasili Pukirev, in 1863, became an honorary member of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. The work depicts a marriage ceremony of a girl, almost a child, contracting marriage with an old man in the center of the painting, who could well be over 60 years old. The atmosphere is somber, and the groom, soon to be a married man, looks at the bride not with the gaze of one who loves, but with a stern look from on high. A priest, no less old, is about to put the ring on the bride, consecrating the transaction by the Church. Behind the bride, a witness looks directly at us, with a face that confronts us not to remain impassive in front of what is happening. The sad face of the teenager seems to be that of someone who has cried. A candle in her left hand is reluctantly held while dripping wax, and the right hand is extended, resigned, to the sentence that the religious official is about to drop.
It is said that Pukirev painted the tragedy of his friend Varentsov, who, in love with a young woman who reciprocated his feelings, saw how his beloved was given by the family to a rich nobleman in an arrangement, usual at the time, purely economic and social, in which the woman’s opinion was not taken into account.
The painting made such an impression on the British artist Edmund Blair Leighton that, in 1879, he produced the painting Till Death Do Us Part, in which another wedding scene shows a young woman, now an adult, walking down the aisle of the church hand in hand with the groom, a man much older than herself. None of the characters in the painting has a joyful face. The bride, all in white, looks sadly down, shying away from the gaze of a young man with a moved face who, standing at the same height as the couple, on the left side of the painting. When the painting was initially submitted to the Royal Academy, the author gave it the title l.s.d. from the Latin libreae, solidi, denarii, which translates into pounds, shillings and pence. A clear allusion to the transaction that occurred there.
In most of Western history marriage was not a matter of love, but a calculated economic transaction. The woman, in the overwhelming fraction of cases, was the piece given as a prize in exchange for some social or economic advantage. In colonial Cuba itself, the transactional character of the institution was evident when decrees were issued to try to regulate unions so that they did not occur between people of different social strata, or between whites and blacks.
But marriage as a transaction not only reveals social asymmetry, whether economic, racial or otherwise, but also the profound verticality of a society that granted, above all to the father, the power to decide for the children – even if they were adults – what type of union they could have and what affections could be tolerated.
Such a state of affairs was not exclusive to the colonial condition. In the neocolonial Cuba of the bourgeois republic, marriage continued to be conditioned and limited, or censored for reasons of economic, social and especially racial asymmetry. What was not imposed by law, was imposed as false conscience, justifying itself in a natural order, good customs, the traditional given as something eternal, or divine designs. There is never a lack of ideological constructions to justify purposes of a different nature, and rather petty and selfish interests.
The defense of a traditional marriage that has never existed as an ideal for all, except in the minds of those who want to stop us at some point in the past for their convenience, is of little value.
The Revolution was also a revolution in social order and customs. With it, by sweeping away the class order that imposed social exclusions, the censures for economically asymmetrical marriages were also swept away. But it did not stop there. Like a hurricane of renewal, it swept away other prejudices and false considerations of propriety. In a very short time, marriages between people from the countryside and the city, between people from different social strata, between whites and blacks, and between different educational levels, not only became common, but were incorporated as normal in a society that only yesterday viewed with displeasure what had been inculcated as unnatural or, even worse, ungodly.
There was no lack, then, of those who cried out to the earthly and the divine, that the Revolution was bringing with it a social hecatomb [(in ancient Greece or Rome) a great public sacrifice, originally of a hundred oxen.] that would destroy the basis of the family in society. That allowing barbarities such as interracial marriage would provoke chaos, and that Cuba would be an immoral country where blacks and whites would immediately come together in debauchery. It was not lacking more, the “harmony of centuries” was about to be destroyed, which according to the ideologists of the catastrophe, was sanctioned for having been that way “since the beginning of time”, by the irresponsibility of men. From there to the punishment of destiny, or of some absolute deity, it was only a matter of time. Nothing of the sort happened.
Intolerance always disguises itself as necessity and victimizes itself as the threatened in order to hide the fact that it is the slasher. The time has come to take one more step towards justice. There is a right to vote no, but there is no right to lie about the Families Code.
The day after the approval of the Code, there will not be more homosexuals, nor will there be fewer; there will not be more transsexuals, nor will there be fewer; there will not be more bisexuals, nor will there be fewer; there will not be more heterosexuals, nor will there be fewer. Society will not collapse because of it, nor will the universal deluge be unleashed. The day after everything will seem to remain the same, but behind the apparent “no change” in the streets, an earthquake will have occurred: we will all have our rights better protected, and we will be a society a little fairer, more beautiful, happier, more with everyone and for the good of all.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, one resource to intervene in the political changes of a country, which was an object of US interest, was to resort to assassinations. As a method, political assassination, it is characterized by a conspiracy with internal elements which, advised by the intelligence apparatus and financed by the imperial power, are violently disposed to the physical elimination of a Head of State.
It has long been used, even within the empire, against presidents of one party or the other. Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan have been the object of assassinations or attempted assassinations. As an undeclared practice, but one that fulfills interventionist objectives, it was used to prevent the rise of liberation movements or governments that came to power through revolutions. By 1981, the participation of the Central Intelligence Agency in the overthrow and assassination of presidents or revolutionary leaders in different parts of the world was proven with irrefutable data.
1953: Overthrow of the government of Mohammad Mossadegh, in Iran.
1954: Military rebellion and overthrow of the government of Jacobo Árbenz, in Guatemala.
1958: Conspiracy to assassinate Gamal A. Nasser, president of Egypt. Nasser, president of Egypt.
1959: Assassination of the prime minister of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, S. Bandaranaike.
1961: Assassination of the prime minister of the Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba.
1969: Assassination of the leader of the Mozambique Liberation Front, Eduardo Mondlane.
1973: Assassination of the secretary general of the African Party of Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, Amilcar Cabral.
1973: Coup d’état and assassination of the president of Chile, Salvador Allende.
1977: Assassination of the president of the People’s Republic of Congo, M. Ngouabi.
The list would be endless, but in the examples cited above, the participation of the CIA, which also has a negative record of more than 600 attempts on the life of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, was shown.
In the current conditions of the empire’s growing loss of world predominance, it is a resource potentially used as a means of force in the face of the failure of economic, financial or diplomatic methods of pressure. Neither archived nor forgotten, assassination continues to be a possibility to intervene in processes of social change, despite the so-called soft coup in non-conventional wars. The most recent examples are the coup d’état against Evo Morales, in the case of Bolivia, and the assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, two years ago.
Why assassination? Because their victims, of course, those who are not part of the empire, are people committed to building a better future for their people, which is at odds with hegemonic ambition.
That is why they wanted to assassinate at point blank range the Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez, for her dedication to her country, for the welfare of the most dispossessed. That is a sacrilege for the oligarchy that, full of impotence and frustration before the popular acceptance of the vice president, was not enough with an equally criminal legal process, such as the judicialization to which she is subjected. They wanted her dead and used a social outcast eager to vent their hatred for that purpose.
No unfounded premonitions: it is difficult to understand, but the world is being led – and quite rapidly – to the outbreak of a nuclear confrontation, perhaps the last, because it involves weaponry that can exterminate the population of the planet.
Let us look at the elements that make us think in this apparently apocalyptic way.
As recently as this August 24, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced a new package of arms shipments to Ukraine in the amount of 2.98 billion dollars. Enough money to feed or cure a few million African children who are dying for lack of food or medicine.
On the same day, the UN Security Council met, at Russia’s request, to discuss the Ukrainian military attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which had already been attacked by Kyiv 17 times in the last few days and, in addition, fires had broken out near the facility.
The war in Ukraine has exposed the fact that the United States is using the Ukrainian population as cannon fodder, in its hegemonic eagerness to subdue Russia and turn all its guns against China.
Moscow warned from the very beginning: “We will not allow Russian citizens or citizens of Russian origin living in the Donbas region to be massacred by constant aggressions”.
And another Russian warning: “We cannot allow the United States and NATO to try to encircle Russia, bringing modern weapons to its border with Ukraine”.
Both reasons could well have been part of a dialogue without the interference of third countries and, of course, without the arrogant presence of NATO as the driving force of the war.
However, what has the European Union (EU) done but hinder the search for peace around the conflict and create an adverse economic and social situation, to the detriment of its own nations?
European governments that support U.S. policy on Ukraine, i.e. arming that nation and sanctioning and destabilizing Russia, should bear in mind that this nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe, with six pressurized water reactors and a total capacity of 6,000 megawatts, and anything that happens there can affect the countries of the old continent. In the worst case, the radioactive components can spread and act against the lives of millions of people.
Sending weapons to Kyiv and imposing sanctions of all kinds on Russia has favored the U.S. military complex.
With the policy of Russophobia pursued by the EU and many countries in that region, the situation of every European household and citizen is affected in an extraordinary way. This August 25, for example, the news could not be worse: the price of gas has risen to a record high of 3,200 dollars per thousand cubic meters.
Add to that, the adversity that Europe is today affected by the worst drought in the last 500 years and is the victim of an unprecedented heat wave, which has already caused more than a thousand deaths.
Nevertheless, the head of EU diplomacy has just proposed “a large training and assistance mission to the Ukrainian army”.
Joe Biden’s actions, approving a new allocation of almost 3 billion dollars in arms for Ukraine and Josep Borrell’s initiative for the EU, in addition to providing arms to Kiev and joining the bandwagon of sanctions against Russia, to train the Ukrainian military involved in a war, show that many have an interest in this war not ending.
I can’t imagine Joe Biden summoning his followers to “take over” the Capitol, or insisting on proclaiming electoral fraud in the “cradle of democracy”.
However, in the time elapsed since he assumed the presidency until today, he has not infrequently identified with Donald Trump’s political actions and, at least, he applies inertia as a strategy to avoid changing what was established by his predecessor.
Being a Republican, in the case of Donald Trump, or a Democrat, in the case of Joe Biden, does not at all ensure, within the concept of American “democracy”, that there are differences when it comes to implementing policies.
Not to be surprised, but Biden was “other” when he was only serving as vice president, in Barack Obama’s time. Now, as president, it is valid to ask how much of Trump is Biden.
A few examples may define the answer.
Trump, with his unpresidential style, invented and signed 243 new sanctions against Cuba, which were added to those already contained in more than 60 years of blockade. During his electoral campaign, Biden said -and said again- that he would eliminate such measures, but in almost a year and a half of his termin the White House, he has maintained the legislation and has mocked -as Trump did- the UN resolutions, the appeals of world leaders and the demands of Americans and other personalities of the planet, who demand an end to such criminal actions.
Biden allowed himself to be trapped by the group of extreme right-wing counterrevolutionaries of Cuban origin settled in Florida, who, during the Trump era, took control of the Cuba issue and decide -always against the Cuban people- the line of action of the State Department and the Presidency.
Another coincidence in the way of acting: when Trump decided to surround with high metal fences the border with Mexico, the international community compared the fact to a kind of apartheid. Biden, in his campaign, assured that he would stop such construction and dismantle what was already fenced. What has happened? The wall has not been dismantled, rather areas that are considered less secure are being repaired to stop immigration.
An unusual fact: Donald Trump abruptly destroyed and threw in the trash the documents supporting the Iran Nuclear Deal; an arbitrary and dangerous decision condemned everywhere in the world. Trump was putting humanity itself at risk, his critics said. Biden, more tenuously, also opposed the Republican’s actions.
The Democrat, in his first attempts to reverse such a situation, spoke several times of “returning to the Nuclear Agreement” with the Persian nation. But, once again, the inaction of the current ruler has thrown away his commitments, and he continues to bet on sanctions against Teheran and not on the renewal of the Agreement.
U.S. specialists say that in critical areas, the Biden administration has not made major changes, which shows how difficult it is to chart new courses in foreign policy in Washington. This was evident in the President’s tour of Israel and Saudi Arabia, aimed, in part, at further strengthening ties with those states.
In this regard, Emma Ashford, senior researcher at the Atlantic Council, a group of experts also known as “think tanks”, said that “over time, Biden has not kept many of his campaign promises and has maintained the status quo in the Middle East and Asia”.
Meanwhile, Stephen Biegun, former Undersecretary of State, said that “there is a great force of gravity that takes policies to the same place. It’s still the same problems. It’s still the same world. We still have the same tools to influence each other to achieve the same results, and it’s still the same United States.”
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Cuban society is built on a profound patriarchal culture. This implies that, in direct correlation with the sex that accompanies us when we come into this world, there are predetermined roles, long before we even have true gender awareness.
According to these patterns, women are in charge of the home, of the children, they are the caregivers par excellence, the weakest and most sensitive; men, [by contrast, are] the providers, with total freedom to decide about their lives, [and are] strong and tough.
It is a kind of manual of what it means to be a man or a woman, of what is the “right way to be one”, accentuated by centuries of inequalities, and which, sadly, also moves discriminatory attitudes towards those who break the mold.
While it is true that this reality puts women at a disadvantage, even vulnerable to their male counterparts, it is also true that it tacitly pigeonholes men.
“Don’t kiss, don’t hug, don’t cry, don’t smile too much, leave your sister’s doll. You don’t have to do anything around the house, being unfaithful is not bad, when she bothers you a lot, just slap her”… These phrases are often part of their training, and although they are not always seen from that perspective, they also suffer pressures if they choose to be different.
Today we know that there are many ways of being a man, that this model can be broken, that there is a diversity of masculinities.
Our society needs men who are increasingly involved in raising their children, in household responsibilities, less violent, and, why not, more sensitive? Many important steps have been taken in this direction, but the new Families Code, which will be submitted to a referendum in September, proposes an innovative and profound approach.
EQUALITY IN THE FAMILY ENVIRONMENT: A NECESSARY STEP
From the very recognition of the rights of family members, there is a very clear direction: sharing responsibilities between women and men, putting them on an equal footing to move in the environment of family dynamics.
This is what the Code states: “Full equality between women and men, to the equal distribution of time allocated to domestic and care work among all members of the family, without overburdening any of them (…)”.
This is an important starting point for deconstructing the myth that collaborating with household chores or contributing to the care of the most vulnerable detracts from manhood. On the contrary, assuming an open perspective in relation to this issue will also allow them to be more functional, more independent and, at the same time, more considerate, more human.
However, this is not a perspective that should be understood only by men, but also by their mothers, wives, daughters, by society in general, so that there can be a real, visible change. It is also essential that this change is manifested from an early age, when learning is fixed for life and, generally, the differentiation of roles in relation to gender is produced.
THE RIGHT TO FORM A FAMILY
One of the essential aspects of the text of the new Code is precisely the recognition of the diversity of family structures that exist within Cuban society, in addition to the traditional one.
This is an element that has a direct impact on Cuban men, whether as fathers, husbands, grandfathers, uncles or sons, they play a determining role in the family environment.
Although it is not the most common case, it is valid to recognize that in today’s Cuba there are men who have taken on the raising of one or more children alone, who have become the caregivers of a close relative and this is their only family, or who have formed a homosexual couple.
Whether by choice or by circumstances of life, the truth is that they are also part of families that do not necessarily follow traditional patterns, but are nonetheless based on love and respect.
FATHER FROM THE BEGINNING
If we allude to the name of the UNICEF campaign that calls for fathers to be involved, in the same way as mothers, in the decision to have a baby, in its upbringing, in its education, with all the responsibility and emotional burden that this entails, it is precisely because much of this can be found in the Code.
“The protection of maternity and paternity and the promotion of their responsible development” is another of the rights promulgated in the text, which also clearly defines parental responsibility, which includes the set of powers, duties and rights that correspond to mothers and fathers for the fulfillment of their role.
However, the Code goes far beyond equating the role of the biological mother and father in the upbringing of their children; for, by identifying affection also as a vital element for the formation of parental bonds, it recognizes like-minded mothers and fathers.
There are many Cuban men who, upon joining a woman with children, make a loving adoption with them, even if it is not legal, and assume the responsibilities of fatherhood. There are even cases of those who start a relationship with a pregnant woman, and even knowing that the baby does not carry their blood, they give it their surnames.
The Code also establishes elements that favor the relationship of fathers with their children, even after the termination of the relationship with the mother. Establishing the so-called family communication regime, as well as the parental responsibility pacts related to shared custody and care -and in the case of unilateral custody, guaranteeing a harmonious relationship with the non-guardian, provide countless possibilities so that the bonds of love and closeness are not lost, nor can they be hindered.
UNLEARNING VIOLENCE FOR THE GOOD OF THE FAMILY
Unfortunately, within families, there are still manifestations of violence that hurt not only the direct victims but also family harmony in general, because, as the text points out, they are expressed on the basis of hierarchical inequality.
While it is true that it is not only men who are the perpetrators, it is also true that they are responsible for many of its expressions. The worst thing is that, since it is not only physical abuse, but also verbal, psychological, economic, sexual, moral, and other forms of abuse, it is not always recognized in time and, therefore, there is a lack of tools to deal with it.
However, it is also true that violence is often naturalized and certain behaviors are seen as “normal”. It is therefore imperative to promote among children, adolescents and men themselves, behaviors that appeal to dialogue, to respect that is earned and not imposed, to affection that is clearly more effective than hitting and shouting to educate, to the understanding that the most vulnerable are not inferior, nor are they to blame for their situation.
Violence is learned, and violent family spaces are ideal spaces to form violent people. Being a man does not imply, in any case, an iron fist so that fear wins over respect.
The issue of masculinities is sheltered in the Family Code from its diversity, and corroborates the idea that men and women can continue to build, also from the home, a path of equity and love for a common goal, the good of each and every Cuban family.
FROM THE “LEGITIMATE” RIGHT TO BUY FIREARMS TO THE BAN ON ABORTION
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, gave legal status to the agreement approved by Congress that minimally restricts access to guns.
By signing the document, Biden took a step considered by many Americans as necessary, but insufficient, on the road to putting an end to the massacres caused by the promotion of violence and the indiscriminate sale and use of firearms.
It is important to note, because of its contradictory nature, that the June 23 congressional approval of this agreement was preceded by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that expands the right to bear arms.
The Supreme Court ruled to overturn a New York State gun ownership law, enacted more than a century ago, that placed restrictions on carrying firearms in public.
This decision may have implications in seven other states with similar laws: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the Supreme Court’s ruling “outrageous” and “reckless,” according to CNN.
It is worth noting that there are about 310 million guns in circulation in the northern nation. With a population of 319 million, that means that almost every American owns a gun, regardless of age.
A few hours after the Uvalde massacre, considered -after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut- as the deadliest in U.S. history, the National Rifle Association (NRA) held its annual convention, which was attended, among others, by former President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.
In the speeches of both politicians, highly committed to the NRA, ideologically, business-wise and, above all, politically, they criticized the Democrats’ proposal to push for stricter gun legislation.
Ted Cruz went so far as to propose increased security in schools, placing armed guards to deal with shootings.
Many interests are at work behind politicians’ support for the NRA. From the coffers of the powerful association flow the money that finances electoral campaigns, bills and vetoes against anyone who tries to limit the business.
When guns cease to be a profitable vein that finances careers and buys consciences, the path will begin to clear, the chants of death and the macabre hymn of gunfire will cease.
The U.S. Supreme Court also overturned the landmark 1973 ruling, known as Roe v. Wade, which determined that the right to abortion was a constitutional guarantee in the United States.
Ending this constitutional right is the result of a long-standing campaign by the nation’s most backward sectors, especially conservative Christians.
After it was confirmed, Trump called the decision “the greatest victory for life in a generation”; meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence expressed, “We must not rest and we must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the country.”
On the other side, President Joe Biden, taking advantage of the circumstances, in an address to the nation, pointed out that the only way Americans can protect abortion rights is by voting for Democrats in the November mid-term elections, reported BBC, and the leader of the Democratic majority in the Lower House, Nancy Pelosi, called the Supreme Court ruling an “insult” to women.
The non-profit association, Planned Parenthood, described the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as “dangerous” and “unprecedented”, as it will leave 36 million women of reproductive age unprotected, according to La Opinión.
Prior to the decision, access to this right was already out of reach for many women in the United States.
“This contrasts with many countries, including those in Western Europe, which offer access to subsidized, fully funded abortion services, universal health care, contraception and broader social programs,” said Risa Kaufman, director of U.S. Human Rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
It should be noted that this is not just in Europe. Closer to home, Cuba, the Caribbean island labeled a “dictatorship” by Washington, was the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to decriminalize abortion. In the Greater Antilles, abortion has been free and legal since 1961, and in 1965 the legal basis was created so that it could be performed within the framework of the National Health System.
THE COURT’S IMPARTIALITY IN QUESTION
Another ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrates the bias and ultraconservative bias that prevails in its decisions.
On June 27, the Court recognized the right of teacher Joseph Kennedy, a soccer coach at a school in the Bremerton, Washington, school district, to pray with his students at midfield after the game.
The Supreme Court ruled against the School District and in favor of Kennedy, who demanded the right to pray with his players after games at the 50-yard line. The decision significantly erodes the separation of church and state in public schools.
The school had determined that Kennedy’s practice violated the students’ religious freedom rights, and also created a security risk at the games, because the teacher had orchestrated a public spectacle by inviting the media and local politicians to attend; while Kennedy claimed that the school’s actions violated his free speech and free exercise rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington filed a brief with the Court, arguing that Kennedy’s prayers are not protected by the Free Speech Clause.
Students stated that they were forced to pray, and one player explained that he participated against his own beliefs, for fear of losing playing time if he refused.
We refer to the country that took centuries to classify lynching as a federal hate crime. For years, attempts were made, to no avail, to punish mob killings, of which people of African descent and other minorities were the main victims.
More than 4,400 African Americans were executed in the United States as a result of this practice between 1877 and 1950 alone, as documented by the Equal Justice Initiative.
The crimes were committed with impunity, often in public places and in broad daylight, and also affected, albeit to a lesser extent, other minorities such as Native Americans, Asians and Mexican migrants.
The division within the U.S. is becoming more and more pronounced; some even speak of a schism, of insurmountable polarization, of possible balkanization. The truth is that the borders between one and the other are very clearly distinguishable.
Whoever stops just for a moment to take a look at the panorama of American society in these times, will discover the depth and extent to which the most ultra-conservative and retrograde thinking has reached.
He will hear, amidst the paraphernalia of political showmanship and gunfire, the deafening roar of the dinosaurs that refuse to disappear.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
“I love the Cuban people very much. I had good human relations with Cuban people and I also confess: with Raul Castro I have a human relationship”, said Pope Francis in an interview granted to Univision TV.
His words in favor of the island have raised many reactions of solidarity and, also, comments among the haters of the Cuban Revolution.
This U.S. media “consulted” the Supreme Pontiff to hear his views, one year after the destabilizing attempts of July 11, 2021 in Cuba. However, His Holiness’ answers were supportive of the Cuban government and people.
“Cuba is a symbol. Cuba has a great history. I feel very close, even to the Cuban bishops”, ratified the Argentinean religious.
Regarding the normalization of relations between the Greater of the Antilles and the U.S., he said: “I was happy when that small agreement was reached with the United States, which President Obama wanted at the time and Raul Castro accepted it, and it was a good step forward, which has been stopped now”. And he added that at the moment there are probing dialogues to shorten the distance between the two nations.
After being questioned about the press labeling him as “communist”, he criticized the tendencies of certain media groups “very ideologized, who dedicate themselves to ideologize the position of others”.
The actions implemented to facilitate the clearance of travelers and cargo through the border managed to reduce the average stay time of passengers in Cuba’s air terminals to 45 minutes, Yamila Martinez Morales, general director of Customs Processes at the General Customs of the Republic (AGR), told Granma.
She added that the digital declaration was implemented for travelers arriving in the country by air, through the D’Viajeros platform, and to date, 8% of the total number of passengers who have cleared through Customs have used this form.
On the other hand, he said that 58% of the total of checked-in baggage is identified as containing exempt products, and 89.5% of the total of checked-in baggage is in the green channel (passengers who do not have to make an import declaration upon arrival, and therefore have an expedited departure).
Another measure is the customs treatment that allows importing or exporting goods with total or partial suspension of duties and taxes on the condition that they are re-exported or re-imported within a certain period of time, without having undergone any modification, except for their normal depreciation, as well as the application for pre-dispatch of passengers.
In the case of parcels, Mr. Martínez Morales pointed out that postal dispatch was automated, direct delivery without the addressee’s presence was implemented, old loads were solved, and delivery time was reduced to less than 30 days.
On this point, Nelson Cordovés Reyes, head of the AGR, highlighted the work carried out, which, although it still has several problems to be solved, it has gained in agility, and proof of this are the nearly three million shipments cleared by Customs in the first half of the year.
Similarly, the Customs Single Window for commercial procedures was established, which allows foreign trade operators to provide Customs with the documentation and information needed to comply with the requirements for processing regimes, formalities and other customs procedures, as well as timely notification of the results of the procedure.
Cordovés Reyes pointed out that, in addition to this, work is also being done to include electronic payment facilities and further streamline the processes.
He expressed that the AGR continues to improve the system of attention to the population throughout the country, and that they are attentive to the criteria both on digital platforms and through conventional channels.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Matanzas: Although blackouts annoy and provoke the most varied reactions, especially if they are repeated and at night, the people are grateful to the workers who work in the sector, and especially to those involved in the restoration of electricity.
Ángel Luis Valdés Cárdenas, a maintenance specialist at the José Martí Diesel Power Plant, located in the industrial zone of the capital city, a short distance from the Antonio Guiteras CTE, lives the gratitude for this daily effort in a very curious way.
“I am one of those who close the door of the house and hide when they turn off the power, because as soon as they see me, the people in the neighborhood start to protest: “look, this is the one to blame for the lack of electricity, that’s why we are like this now”, they say among other things.
“Everything, of course, is in a joking tone, because I know that deep down it is the way my neighbors express their admiration for my work and feel proud that an electrical worker lives in the community,” says the 66-year-old engineer, a resident of the Matanzas town of Juan Gualberto Gómez, in the municipality of Unión de Reyes.
After feigning that response of disgust, he admits, he is asked a thousand and one questions about the electric power situation in the province. “That is normal because everyone wants to know what is happening and how and when we are going to get out of this predicament.”
He assures us that the workers of his medium are not safe from the interruptions in the electric service either.
“Sometimes, when I leave for work at dawn, there is no power in town, and when I return I find the same situation. That’s hard because our job is precisely to provide electricity”.
Ángel Luis Valdés works at the José Martí site, since its commissioning in 2018, a plant that has 16 electric generators that operate with diesel, which is known as distributed generation.
Right now, he says, there are only ten in technical conditions to offer service, which contribute more or less about 12 megawatts between them all. The rest are shut down due to breakdowns or shortages of spare parts, he says.
“I believe that at the beginning these types of equipment were subjected to overexploitation, since they are conceived as support to the Electric System, basically during peak hours, and for almost two years they were active 24 hours a day.
“According to technical requirements, after 6,000 hours of operation, the motor components must be replaced. All of them have already far exceeded that workload and none of them, as they say, has even had a screw changed.
“It is good to clarify that these machines are very expensive. The price of one injector (each engine takes 16) exceeds 20 000 euros, so it is not difficult to imagine how costly it is for the country to acquire them.”
He is pleased to emphasize the importance of distributed generation as a backup for thermoelectric power plants and maintains that, so far, the engines have not stopped for lack of oil.
Undoubtedly, this is a great contribution, he stresses. “If it weren’t for these engines, blackouts would be more frequent and prolonged.”
Ángel Luis Valdés, who previously worked for more than 20 years in the mechanical industry, must travel daily to the José Martí site in the city of Matanzas, some 50 kilometers from his native Sabanilla.
Dressed in his blue overalls, he can be seen going from one end of the plant to the other, attentive to every detail and to any setback that could alter the correct operation of the equipment.
-What is the life of an electrical worker like?
“I admire and raise both hands for the personnel in Health, Education and many other specialties, but I love what I do and I feel great joy for our contribution to the country’s economy and the tranquility of the people.”
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The month of July is for Cubans an unequivocal synonym of Revolution. Of this month is the glorious 26th, when the Apostle was reborn to guide, from the immensity of his legacy, Fidel and the entire generation that continued the irreversible path towards the full dignity of Cuba.
So much human greatness, so much sacrifice, so much history, are sacred causes; symbolic expressions of our perseverance, resistance, principles and sense of justice.
This people has fought tirelessly for its independence. It triumphs every time they try to drown it, it stands irreverent in the face of those who try to rob it of its right to decide how to live; therefore, it will never bow down to provocations or threats.
Proof of this has been the economic, commercial and financial blockade, the practice of State terrorism, the attempted invasion. And since nothing has served the overthrow plan, our enemies are betting on the so-called soft coup. The most insolent expression was rehearsed on July 11, 2021, ignorant of the depth with which the roots of the Revolution reach the bellies of those who make it, perfect it and keep it firm.
With the deployment of a large-scale political-communication operation, they wanted to opportunistically take advantage of the combined impacts of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, of the economic crisis derived from it, and of the measures that tightened the blockade to an unprecedented level.
The clearest objective? To generate the false idea that the shortages and material difficulties are due to the inefficient management by the revolutionary government, and to cover up the real cause: the inhuman economic siege by the United States.
Before the world, they sold the notion of a social outburst intended to “overthrow the dictatorship”. But their plan had a flaw: they underestimated the unity of the nation, the majority support for the revolutionary project, the will to not allow peace and social conquests to be undermined. That condemned them, as always, to the most resounding failure.
They have not yet understood that continuity in Cuba is not demagogy, and that defending the Revolution at whatever cost is necessary is not an empty slogan, but a firm resolution that the people unveil, putting their chest out in the face of the audacity of their enemies.
Because the dangers are certain, the Cuban people have always been in combat readiness. This was demonstrated on July 11, when they crushed that skirmish in just a few hours.
Under that precept, with an open heart, as if Fidel, Raul, Marti and all the heroes of the Homeland were speaking, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, called [on the people] to defend the Revolution in the streets, and the people, without hesitation, were already there.
It was an act of fidelity to the legacy of the Commander-in-Chief, who, just as on January 8, 1959, he had set the mode of action in situations of imminent danger: “I tell you that the first thing I will always do, when I see the Revolution in danger, is to call on the people. Because by talking to the people we can save blood; because here, before firing a shot, we have to call the people a thousand times…”.
And with full courage, these people asserted their condition of supreme protector of this work, and showed that the tranquility of the citizens is sacred, and that the just and sincere demand [of the people] does not need violence to be heard.
These same people are the ones who reject impunity, because no one in the service of foreign interests has the right to subvert the order of this sovereign nation.
Poor those who wanted to kidnap, for their paymasters, July 11, the date on which the revolutionaries defeated a vandalistic coup d’état.
The 26th of July is so important in the history of the nation that the month to celebrate it is so short. How can we make so much glory fit if we also add to it the crushing victory of the 11th; so similar to that 13th in which Maceo, in 1895, made an entire army of Spaniards flee in disarray in the fields of Peralejo?
For the artful mercenary attack, and for the illusory eagerness to get a “beachhead” from which to clamor for Yankee intervention, there was already a place and a date that are the most serious shame of the empire: Giron.
However, if in their servile purpose, the enemies of Cuba insist on giving themselves a Girón with each attempt, they will have one each time, as in April 1961, as in July 2021.
Revolutionary Cuba, meanwhile, remains cheerful and at peace, on the side of reason, truth and justice. We know that times are hard, but we also know that together we are capable of overcoming the pitfalls of a circumstantial reality, whose complexities are not exclusive to our country.
We continue and will continue to stand up, with a critical vision, with a transforming spirit, with creative resistance and with dreams and hopes always thought for a future in Revolution.