via .ORGWorld News
By Guest Nicole
Si algo conoce Marilín Jiménez Bouchereau, y de cerca, es dejar el pellejo para salir adelante: es mujer, negra, oriental, no tiene una carrera universitaria y tampoco suficiente dinero como para guardar en el banco. Por si fuera poco, ha sufrido el rechazo y la discriminación por ser Testigo de Jehová, una combinación no apta para personas que teman meterle el pecho a la vida.
Ella es una verdadera «Mariana». En Cuba se le dice así a esa mujer heredera del espíritu de Mariana Grajales, esposa de Marcos Maceo, progenitora de una estirpe gloriosa de la historia nacional y patriota cuyo valor y fuerza de carácter le hizo ganar el epíteto de «Madre de todos los cubanos».
Generalmente se les llama así a las féminas obrera, campesina, Heroína del Trabajo, investigadora, científica, dirigente, todas vinculadas de alguna manera al sector estatal… y aunque Marilín nunca saldrá en la televisión o en el periódico, y su conmovedora historia jamás será convertida en ondas radiofónicas, ella tiene de sobra para considerarse una verdadera Mariana.
Leer más: https://www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2018-08-18-u135253-e20037-s27061-vida-marilin-cubana-testigo-jehova-ha-hecho-todo
By Guest Nicole
3. Jehovah's Witness in Cuba, for decades, were stigmatized, persecuted, criticized and taboo, even Catholic. But in recent years there has been some other flexibilization. However, Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, continue to suffer discrimination. Pedro and María Isabel are a couple from Las Tunas. Both are Jehovah's Witnesses. On one occasion, Pedro applied for a vacant post in a company. Among the inquiries that are normally made in the CDR that detail was known, that even though it did not officially prevent him from opting for the position, he knew from comments from a friend that it was what tipped the scale unfavorably. But María Isabel has also suffered discrimination because she is a Jehovah's Witness. The first was when, after being affected by a cyclone, she was denied the temporary facilities she required when she lost the roof of her house. Officially she was told that it was because of being a Jehovah's Witness. The second one "happened to me in a hospital. I said I was a Jehovah's Witness when I required blood and I requested to them to use a blood substitute. The doctors disrespected me and did what they pleased. I felt bad, more than religious they treated me like an insane person, "she says.
By Guest Nicole
3. Testigo de Jehová
La práctica religiosa en Cuba, por décadas, fue estigmatizada, perseguida, criticada y tabú, incluso, la católica. Pero en los últimos años ha habido alguna que otra flexibilización. No obstante, los testigos de Jehová, por ejemplo, siguen sufriendo discriminaciones.
Pedro y María Isabel son una pareja de Las Tunas. Ambos son testigos de Jehová. En una ocasión Pedro optó por una plaza en una empresa. Entre las averiguaciones que normalmente se hacen en el CDR se supo ese detalle, que si bien oficialmente no le impidió optar por el puesto, supo por comentarios de un amigo que fue lo que inclinó la balanza de forma desfavorable.
Pero María Isabel también ha sufrido las discriminaciones por ser testigo de Jehová. La primera fue cuando, tras resultar afectada de un ciclón, le negaron las facilidades temporales que requería al perder el techo de su casa. Oficialmente se le dijo que era por ser eso, una testigo de Jehová.
La segunda “me pasó en un hospital. Dije que era testigo de Jehová cuando requería sangre y solicité que usaran un sustituto de sangre. Los médicos me irrespetaron e hicieron lo que le dio la gana. Me sentí mal, más que religiosa me trataron como una demente”, señala.
By Guest Nicole
Pero más en el presente, existen casos donde la libertad religiosa sigue siendo nula, para Berta Núñez, practicante testigo de Jehová, la vida en Cuba se le hace difícil, ella me da su nombre completo, pues “estoy acostumbrada a las represalias, como de costumbre fui abucheada por no usar pañoleta cuando niña, no se me permitió entrada a la universidad y ahora a mis hijos, que decidieron abrazar este camino, les pasa lo mismo. Las relaciones con el Estado son pésimas, puesto que nos tratan como una secta malévola”. La prohibición de hacer templos pesa sobre los Testigos de Jehová, grupo que casualmente ha sido igual de perseguido por otros regímenes totalitarios como la Alemania Nazi o la Rusia de Stalin.
Leer más: https://www.havanatimes.org/sp/?p=133783
By Guest Nicole
HAVANA -- A Cuban-operated airliner with at least 110 people on board crashed into a cassava field just after takeoff from Havana's international airport on Friday. There appeared to be mass casualties as Cuban officials said three people had survived, but had yet to give an official toll.
Authorities said there were 104 passengers and nine foreign crew members on the flight that was headed to the eastern city of Holguin. Witnesses said they saw a thick column of smoke near the airport.
Witnesses said they saw a thick column of smoke near the airport.
"A column of black smoke rose up in the sky," resident Ana Gonzalez told the Reuters news agency.
The screams of high school kids could be heard inside a nearby school as they ran to safety, CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez reports.
The plane lay in a field of yuca-root plants and appeared heavily damaged and burnt. Firefighters were trying to extinguish its smoldering remains. Government officials including President Miguel Diaz-Canel rushed to the site, along with a large number of emergency medical workers. Residents of the rural area said they had seen some survivors being taken away in ambulances.
Read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/plane-crash-havana-cuba-today-2018-05-18/
By Guest Nicole
By Guest Nicole
La organización Solidaridad Cristiana Mundial (CSW, sus siglas en inglés) denunció el jueves en un nuevo informe un incremento de las violaciones de los derechos religiosos y de culto en la Isla durante el 2017.
De enero a diciembre de 2017, CSW documentó 325 violaciones a los derechos religiosos y de culto.
Para Kiri Kankhwende, vocera de la organización citada por Martí Noticias, ello evidencia la tendencia del Gobierno cubano y la Oficina de Asuntos Religiosos de hostigar a líderes de la iglesia de todas las denominaciones.
El reporte recoge detalles sobre la restricción severa a eventos religiosos públicos, incluida la interrupción y la detención de un evento de culto interconfesional en el oriente de Cuba, que había recibido permiso anticipado de las autoridades locales.
Cuba Embassy Attacks on U.S Diplomats State Department officials testified about the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba before a Foreign Relations subcommittee chaired by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Several questions to the witnesses focused on the timeliness of the State Department’s response to the attacks, the health and medical treatment of personnel affected, the possibility of the involvement of a third party, and future relations with the Cuban government. Several committee members determined that a future classified briefing would be needed to address more sensitive questions about the attacks. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues
Mysterious sonic weapons reportedly caused brain injuries in US diplomats in Cuba — here's what we know!By Bible Speaks
Mysterious sonic weapons reportedly caused brain injuries in US diplomats in Cuba — here's what we know
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Mysterious "sonic weapons" have been blamed for symptoms affecting American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Victims reported hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injury, nervous system damage, and balance issues. Sound-based weapons exist, but experts aren't sure whether any were actually used in this case. More than 10 US diplomats and their family members in Cuba have experienced strange symptoms including hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injury, and central nervous system damage after being exposed to some kind of mysterious sonic weapon, according to a review of medical records by CBS News.
The Associated Press reported: "After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose."
But a number of experts aren't sure whether such a device exists.
"There isn't an acoustic phenomenon in the world that would cause those type of symptoms," Seth Horowitz, a neuroscientist and author of the book "The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind," told Business Insider via email.
Horowitz explained that no known inaudible - and seemingly undetectable - device could have the properties attributed to these strange sonic weapons.
Would someone target diplomats with mysterious devices?
Starting in late 2016, a number of diplomats and their family members sought medical attention for mysterious nausea, hearing problems, and balance issues. At least five Canadians have experienced similar symptoms, according to CNN.
The attacks - if that's what they were - appear to have stopped. But it remains unknown what sort of device could have caused these medical issues and who was behind these attacks.
Diplomats have experienced other forms of harassment, like break-ins and surveillance, since the US formally restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015. But a physical attack is unprecedented, and many experts say Cuba has no interest in damaging relations with the US. Some experts have said that the fact Canadians experienced similar symptoms make the possibility of an intentional "attack" even less likely, since Cuba and Canada have a strong relationship.
Because of these factors, experts wonder whether the symptoms could be the result of a third party (potentially from another government) trying to sabotage US-Cuban relations. Others have mused that this could be some sort of eavesdropping device gone haywire.
It "sounds like a science experiment," James Carson, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, told The New York Times.
For the most part, it seems victims didn't hear anything, which implies the device operates outside the audible range of sound. But CNN's report said two officials also described "a deafeningly loud sound similar to the buzzing created by insects or metal scraping across a floor," though no one knew where that sound came from.
Toby Heys, the leader of Manchester Metropolitan University's Future Technology research center told New Scientist that it's possible for something emitting infrasound - vibrations at a frequency below what humans can hear - to cause hearing loss. But Heys said that would require large subwoofers, making covert deployment unlikely.
Ultrasound devices, which operate above the range of human hearing, exist and could damage the ears, Heys said. But these would need to be directly targeted into the ear.
"Overall, I would be pretty circumspect about the claims to be honest - it is all very Philip K. Dick territory," Heys said. "That said, we are living in a fairly surreal world right now."
Horowitz said via email that without more evidence of these weapons, this incident should be considered a non-story, and that other possible explanations for these medical problems should be considered.
Sonic weapons have been used to repel Somali pirates.
The use of sonic weaponry
Sonic weapons do exist, but for the most part they are "highly visible and easy to avoid," according to Horowitz.
Such weapons include long range acoustic devices, or LRADs, which emit a shill, loud, disabling sound that can damage the hearing of people more than 900 feet away. These devices have been used by US troops in Iraq, for crowd control in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and by cruise ships to repel Somali pirates. Similar "sound cannons" were also used by police against protestors at the G-20 meetings in Pittsburgh in 2009.
But those devices are large and emit obvious sounds. A mystery machine that emits harmful, silent waves defies any immediate explanation.
Business Insider has reached out to other experts on non-lethal weaponry and will update this post if a plausible explanation emerges.
TRUMPOCRISY: When Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China are all great but you can’t have relations with CubaBy TheWorldNewsOrg
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
By Guest Nicole
LUTZ — In a way, credit for the opening of one of the Tampa area's newest Cuban restaurants belongs to Fidel Castro.
If not for the late Cuban president, Jose "Pepe" Diaz said, he might never have become a chef or opened La Yuma Cuban Cuisine in Lutz.
"He's being ironic," said his daughter and restaurant co-owner Thania Clevenger.
Diaz, 76, learned his trade as a prison cook in Cuba after he was jailed for speaking out against communism.
Calling what he did "cooking" may be a stretch, though.
The fare was usually bland Russian meat from a can and all Diaz had for seasoning was paprika, which he overused.
"They called me Paprika Pepe," Diaz said, with his daughter translating.
Still, he said, when he eventually was released from prison and moved to Madrid, Spain, he landed a job as a chef at a five-star restaurant — based on his claim he had years of cooking experience.
On his first day, he was given a filet to prepare. The head chef quickly realized he had embellished his culinary experience.
"The chef said you have a lot of courage," said family friend and La Yuma employee Juvenal Alfonso, 33, conveying Diaz's recollections. "So, he taught him to be a chef."
A year later Diaz made his way to Miami. There, he met his wife Tania, 61, who fled Cuba in 1970.
Together, they would go on to operate restaurants in Miami and Key West before moving to Lutz this year to partner with their daughter on La Yuma, a name Cubans use for the United States. The business at 16411 N Florida Ave. opened in early March.
"This restaurant is the representation of the American dream," said daughter Clevenger, 33, a Tampa attorney. "That's what we are."
Diaz, born and raised in the town of Yaguajay in central Cuba, originally fought for Castro against Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who ruled the island through fear and the military.
Among those he met in battle, Diaz said, were Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, two of the Cuban Revolution's top leaders.
"I hated Batista," Diaz said. "I hated his exploitation of the villages, his robbery, his theft, the murder."
Castro, he explained, portrayed himself as anti-Batista, someone who cared about bringing freedom to Cuba.
But within a year after revolutionary leaders declared victory Jan. 1, 1959, he realized Cuba was not the country he fought to create. He began publicly denouncing the new government.
In 1963, Diaz, then a civil engineering student, was arrested.
"They said he was a danger to the government," Clevenger said.
He spent a year in a prison in Sancti Spiritus before he was transferred to an agricultural labor camp in Camaguey.
He joined others deemed anti-revolutionary or considered by the government to be socially abnormal. Most cut sugarcane for 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. They had no showers, bathrooms or clean drinking water.
Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals were treated the worst, Diaz said.
He was given the option of kitchen duty or the fields. The choice saved his life.
"There were a lot of things I saw at those camps that are hard to talk about," Diaz said. "A lot of people died."
He was released after four years and told to leave Cuba. But as he waited for a visa, he had to work in the fields under government supervision to be sure he did not support the dissident movement.
Five years later, in 1972, he moved to Spain.
Now working in suburban Lutz, he finds the culture much dfferent from the hustle and bustle of South Florida. But he is happy to be here, working with his daughter, and hopes his restaurant brings a Cuban flare to the area.
"This is a good place," he said. "I respect it and everyone treats me with respect."
February 15, 2017
HAVANA TIMES — Organoponicos or urban organic farms in Cuba are a style of farming that can be used to produce vegetables, condiments, various crops and fruits. Tania Reyes Ferro, a 45 year old Cuban lady, is one of the few women who is in charge of an organoponico in the municipality of Candelaria. Her dedication and passion for her work give her the strength to continue on as a farmer.
HT: Having an organoponico is good for your financial and food situation. What disadvantages are there to working the land?
Tania Reyes: I studied agriculture but I never practiced it. I never thought that after all these years I would have a piece of land to cultivate. Working the land is hard. I’ve had problems with my cervix, backbone, waist, lower abdomen. I’ve been diagnosed with generalized osteoarthritis; when I suffer an attack and I can’t go to the fields, my children help me cook and do other chores. Whatever I collect is enough for us to eat at home. We use the money we get from selling extras to buy rakes, hoes, we don’t have the farm implements we need to do more work.
HT: How much do you have to give to the State for farming?
TR: We don’t produce very much on my plot, it’s just a hectare which I’ve divided into the garden and fruit trees. As the plot is very small, the only thing I have to do is give fresh condiments, vegetables and fruit to the maternity center and the Jose Luis Tacende primary school for disabled children. I pay a social contribution to the cooperative I belong to.
HT: Do you use any chemicals on your crops?
TR: No, there are many alternatives to getting rid of pests. For example, we collect seeds and leaves from the Neem Tree, which is a pesticide, we mash them up and let it set so we can fumigate the next day. We also use ashes of a fire, none of these products are harmful to our health, plants grow better and pests are kept under control using natural products. I have planted Mexican Marigolds because of their different colors and its unpleasant smell which keeps bad insects away so they don’t attack the plants; sunflowers, basil, millet and rosemary are all natural repellents, I also use blue, yellow and white traps.
HT: I imagine it’s hard to get a hold of seeds.
TR: There is a store that sells them here but they don’t have them a lot of the time or they are bad quality. I’m trying to leave some of my plants which give me seeds like lettuce and runner beans for example. I have 17 crops, six which are currently in production: moringa, tomatoes, lettuce, parsley, oregano, leeks. Sweet potato, corn, cassava, caimito and citrus fruits are growing at the moment.
HT: How long do you work in the fields?
TR: I work from very early in the morning until 9 AM; and then from 5 PM until it gets dark. My father, brother and children all help me out regularly although I’m the one who does most of the work. I have a lot of love for the earth, plants are living beings and we need to water and care for them. It’s a habit and necessity for me.
HT: Does the cooperative help you create optimum working conditions?
TR: There aren’t decent conditions for working the land. When my husband left for the United States, I had to face the cruel and hard reality of my situation: I was alone. Everything went downhill from there. My brother spoke to me and told me that we couldn’t lose this piece of land, marabu plants were beginning to take over it. I fell into a severe depression which lasted several months; I wasn’t interested in what had been planted or the future of this land. Between all of us, we began to fix the fence because this was at the time that Hurricanes Gustav and Ike hit and we were left with nothing. We fixed the planting beds, we weeded. Two of my children decided to work with me but they didn’t see any short-term results, you need a lot of patience to harvest. It doesn’t give us enough to get by, just to eat. If you don’t work this land they can take it away from you, it’s in usufruct, it used to be idle land before.
HT: You had studied agricuture, but there are some things which you forget, where do you get your information from?
TR: I like talking to old people a lot, they haven’t studied very much but they have a lot of experience in farming. They plant using the moon phases, they know when to cut sweet potatoes, how far you need to sow one plant from another. I am also looking for courses, I like to know why you have to sow chicory 90 cm away from the other plant and am not satisfied with a: that’s how all of them are planted.
HT: There is an agro-market not far from your house which sells the same products you harvest. Does it harm your business?
TR: I try to sell for a little less than agro-market prices. Customers like organic crops, what comes directly out of the earth and doesn’t have chemicals. People know me and know that I am very helpful and that I’m not expensive. Everything I sow has grown under the sun. The organoponico used to have a semi-protected cover* which used to regulate the sun’s rays, but when we were hit by the hurricanes, we lost everything. Our crops all grow directly under the sun and that’s why they need a lot of watering.
HT: What do you do in your spare time?
TR: I go to the church twice a week; I’m a Jehovah’s Witness. This faith and trust I have in God is what has helped me to persevere. I go to the fields a lot of the time and ask him to give me strength to finish off this work because it doesn’t only depend on me, there’s a lot of work to do and when I get home I have to keep on doing chores here and there. Thank god for my children who help me out a lot. My sons are 27, 23 and 19 years old and my daughter is 16. But I do everything; I don’t believe there is anything that a woman can’t do.
By Guest Nicole
Los compañeros de la víctima del incendio no podían reprimir su dolor por la pérdida de «un buen hombre». Recuerdan que Tomás -no sabían cuál era su apellido- había nacido en Cuba y que llegó a Andoain hace «unos tres años» procedente de Barcelona. «No tenemos muchos datos sobre su biografía. Recuerdo que en una ocasión me dijo que se había marchado de su país en una balsa. Creo que llegó a Estados Unidos, pero tampoco lo puede afirmar», relataron.
Puede que no conozcan sus antecedentes, pero todos coinciden en señalar que era una excelente persona. «Estaba dispuesta a echar una mano. Cuando venía con algo de comida la solía compartir. Y siempre huía de los conflictos. Cuando a veces discutíamos con la persona que ha provocado el incendio, solía tratar de apaciguar los ánimos».
La víctima era miembro de los Testigos de Jehová. «A Tomás le habían dejado una casa para vivir pero prefería estar con nosotros. Allí se sentía muy solo».
By Jack Ryan
By Zunilda Mata.
Discriminated against for decades, Cuba’s Jehovah’s Witnesses just opened an employment agency that focuses on the “honesty and decency” of its people. The database “is an opportunity to advertise the skills that the brothers have in different professions and trades,” says Tamara Sanchez, one of the managers.
As a “private initiative,” although it is linked to the religious community, she describes the new project as one to connect the private sector with “serious and decent” workers. Close relationships within the congregation are a plus for the rapid transmission of information.
“When I look for a job with the state and they realize that I am Jehovah’s Witness they see me as a weirdo,” said Mario Francisco. “I was not a Pioneer [in elementary school] and did not wear the neckerchief,” he recalls.
The young man works in the private sector as a caregiver for the elderly. He considers that job opportunities through the agency could be “a way to erase prejudice.” He notes that he only works with families who share his beliefs because he feels “more respected.”
“Please, if you are not a witness, do not call to register (…), although we do not doubt that you are an honest person, we cannot accept your registration,” clarify the managers of the employment exchange. The project is focused only on those who “find it very difficult to get work in these critical times.”
Jehovah’s Witness Hall in Havana. (14yMedio)
The Cuban government’s relationship with Jehovah’s Witnesses has been tense since the coming to power of Fidel Castro. Many were interned in the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP) camps that operated on the island between 1965 and 1968 – along with other religious believers, homosexuals and political dissidents – while others were driven underground and into exile.
The official animosity continues today, but some years ago the authorities issued permits for the congregation’s meeting halls to open. “We are allowed to meet but there is no public recognition that we exist, that we are here and we are not criminals or bad people,” says the nurse.
The stigma is felt strongly in teaching and working life. “There is not a single Jehovah’s Witness who is the manager of a hotel, a hard-currency store manager or a state official,” says Mario Francisco. In his opinion, this group is still seen as “unreliable” for certain positions.
The latest report on Religious Freedom in the World (2014), released by the United States Department of State, reveals that the Cuban authorities continue to monitor the activities of religious groups on the island. Among the hardest hit are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Although the Constitution, in force on the island since 1976, enacts that “the State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom,” the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party staunchly monitors construction permits for new houses of worship.
Excessive controls have strengthened the informal networks that serve the Witnesses to spread their beliefs from door to door, to help each other in case of need and to warn each other of dangers. They have now extended these networks to the job search.
Through a phone call, a text message or an e-mail sent to the organizers of the new employment agency, applicants submit their professional skills and contact details. The project has two databases, one public and one private.
The public information can be read on classified site such as Revolico and others circulate in the Weekly Packet. There are more than twenty occupations included and they include everything from plumbing to cooking, cleaning, medicine and jewelry making.
“Often someone would ask us for a serious, honest and responsible worker for a job and we didn’t have ways to identify the brother who would be ideal for the position,” the promoters explain. The list will favor those who until now have been adversely affected by prejudice.
“The witnesses who are contacted for a possible job will be duly questioned about their beliefs and their faithfulness in the service of the Lord,” they clarify. A test that Mario Francisco deems necessary. “When people ask me for my religious beliefs, it is usually to not give me the job… but in this case I will answer the question without fear.”
Source: 14yMedio and Translating Cuba.
I was born in one of the central eastern provinces. Cuba was recognized by many as the beautiful pearl of the Caribbean from the very first day of its discovery by Christopher Columbus, who expressed that this was the most beautiful land ever seen by human eyes. I was born in nineteen hundred and fifty-eight, one year before the triumph of the revolution. My parents were religious, they educated me in accordance with their principles. My father and my older brother were detained on various occasions, and completed sentences of deprivation of liberty; my brother on three occasions and my father on two. Mistreated and abused as you might imagine. I was the fourth son of seven that my mother had, we lived in a coastal town. My father owned a candy store and dedicated the better part of his time to his work and to preach the Word of God, as is common with the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. He never wished to mix in political problems nor give opinions that were not about his religion, this was known by the whole town, where he was very appreciated for the help he offered to many people.
In that time, to be religious, homosexual, or dress in the latest fashion was to be considered counter-revolutionary. They were persecuted or causes would be invented to detain and judge them.
One day several uniformed men appeared at the house bearing large arms, they broke down doors and windows, one group entered brusquely and another surrounded the house outside, as if they had entered a haunt of criminals or terrorists, though my parents had never had troubles with the police or justice. They handcuffed my father, they took him out of the house beating him, and by force they took him into detention. I am never going to forget what they did before our eyes, I was already around seven years old and was there with three brothers younger than me.
My mother took us all through town by foot, and we went to the police station where they were holding my father. When we arrived they were taking his statement, they wanted to accuse him of counter-revolution. He refused to sign, he told them he was a religious person and that his beliefs did not permit him to mix in political matters.
After several hours of interrogation, of personal offenses and physical mistreatment, right in front of is they took him down with blows and shoving him, put him in a cell together with other common prisoners. One of them helped the policeman, and as a result, they fractured his ankle as well as left many marks on his body. That day they did not take him to the doctor, instead on the following day, then they could make out a certificate about the lesions that was useless; they never made a case based on the denunciation of my father.
My father remained firm and offered resistance to being detained, because that was an arbitrary act, it was illogical to think that they were dealing with a counterrevolutionary or something like it. If he signed those documents he was recognizing his participation in something he had not done, the entire town was a witness to these facts, I remember having seen many people meeting in front of the police station.
After several days of detention and without proof, the police decided to set him free. Our family looked for lawyers, we presented proofs, the medical certificate but they never accepted the complaint. With time we finally realized the impossibility of carrying a criminal complaint forward against the police and we left it all in God’s hands.
On another occasion, they used Maturranga, a poor town drunk, to make him pass as a Jehovah’s Witness. I was small and don’t remember his real name, what was important was the trauma they raised around him. The police would get him drunk, they’d give him matches and fuel so that he would appear in a sugar cane field as if he were going to set it ablaze. The man followed orders and in those moments the police showed up, faked having been advised to stop this man — whom everybody knew well for his alcoholism and not as a religious type — from setting the sugar cane field on fire.
Meanwhile in town the other part of the plan was being cooked up. The raising of a public show trial in the park. They had the circus set up, cars with amplifiers installed, to announce that they had surprised a Jehovah’s Witness trying to burn a cane field. They got the whole town together to give him a show trial, in the middle of a park in town; but as everyone knew it was a farce, very few attended.
The only thing they succeeded in was being the town joke, which as always they invent stories and jokes around anything that happens. I remember some verses in the form of a popular satire which came out of that happening:
In God’s Armaggedon
According to the prophet Maturranga
There will be a lot of taro,
Butter, wine, and rice
By Guest Nicole
Discriminados por décadas, los Testigos de Jehová cubanos acaban de inaugurar una bolsa de empleo que apuesta por “la honradez y decencia” de su gente. La base de datos “es una oportunidad para anunciar las habilidades que tengan los hermanos en distintas profesiones y oficios”, asegura Tamara Sánchez, una de sus gestoras.
Como una “iniciativa privada” aunque vinculada a la comunidad religiosa, la joven describe el nuevo proyecto para conectar al sector privado con trabajadores “serios y decentes”. Las estrechas relaciones dentro de la congregación son un punto a favor para que la información se transmita con rapidez.
“Cuando busco trabajo con el Estado y se dan cuenta que soy Testigo de Jehová me ven como un bicho raro”, comenta Mario Francisco, un graduado de enfermería. “Sufrí mucho en la escuela. Me apartaban porque no era pionero y no me ponía pañoleta”, recuerda.
El joven labora en el sector privado como cuidador de ancianos. Considera que la nueva bolsa de empleo podría ser “una manera de borrar prejuicios”. Cuenta que solo acepta trabajo en familias que compartan sus creencias porque se siente “más respetado”.
“Por favor, si usted no es testigo, no llame para inscribirse (…) aunque no dudamos de que sea una persona honrada, no podremos aceptar su inscripción”, aclaran los gestores de la bolsa de empleo. El proyecto solo está enfocado en aquellos que “se les hace muy difícil conseguir trabajo por lo crítico que están los tiempos”.
La relación del Gobierno cubano con los Testigos de Jehová ha sido tensa desde la llegada al poder de Fidel Castro. A muchos los internaron en las Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción (UMAP) que funcionaron en la Isla entre 1965 y 1968, mientras que otros fueron empujados a la clandestinidad y al exilio.
La ojeriza oficial se mantiene hasta el día de hoy, pero desde hace algunos años las autoridades expiden permisos para que la congregación abra salones de encuentro. “Se nos permite reunirnos pero no hay un reconocimiento público de que existimos, que estamos aquí y no somos criminales ni malas personas”, apunta el enfermero.
El estigma se siente con fuerza en la vida docente y laboral. “No hay un solo Testigo de Jehová que sea gerente de un hotel, administrador de una tienda en divisas o funcionario estatal”, asevera Mario Francisco. En su opinión, este grupo sigue siendo visto como “no confiable” para ciertos puestos de responsabilidad.
El último informe sobre la Libertad Religiosa en el Mundo (2014), difundido por el Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, revela que las autoridades cubanas continuaban controlando las actividades de los grupos religiosos de la Isla. Entre los más afectados estaban los Testigos de Jehová.
A pesar de que la Constitución, vigente en la Isla desde 1976, promulga que “el Estado reconoce, respeta y garantiza la libertad religiosa”, la Oficina de Asuntos Religiosos del Partido Comunista vigila férreamente los permisos para la construcción de nuevas casas de culto.
Los excesivos controles han fortalecido las redes informales que sirven a los Testigos para difundir sus creencias de puerta en puerta, ayudarse mutuamente en caso de necesidad o advertirse de peligros. Ahora han extendido esas redes a la búsqueda de empleo.
A través de una llamada telefónica, un mensaje de texto o un correo electrónico remitido a los organizadores de la nueva bolsa de trabajo, los interesados remiten sus habilidades profesionales y datos de contacto. El proyecto cuenta con dos bases de datos, una pública y otra privada.
La información pública podrá leerse en sitios de clasificados al estilo de Revolico y otros que circulan en el paquete semanal. Las ocupaciones aceptadas superan la veintena e incluyen desde la plomería hasta la cocina, la limpieza, la medicina y la orfebrería.
“Muchas veces alguien nos pide un trabajador serio, honrado y responsable para un empleo y no tenemos maneras de localizar al hermano ideal para ese trabajo” explican sus promotores. El listado favorecerá a quienes hasta ahora se han visto perjudicados por los prejuicios.
“Los testigos que sean contactados para un posible trabajo serán debidamente interrogados sobre sus creencias y su fidelidad en el servicio de Jehová”, aclaran. Una prueba que a Mario Francisco le parece necesaria. “Cuando me preguntan por mis creencias religiosas, normalmente es para no darme el trabajo… pero en este caso voy a responder sin miedo la pregunta”.
El poderoso huracán Matthew deja Cuba y se dirige a Bahamas y Florida tras su devastador paso por HaitíBy Guest Nicole
El huracán Matthew, el más poderoso del Atlántico en casi una década, dejó atrás la isla de Cuba y continúa curso rumbo a Bahamas y después a Florida, Estados Unidos.
Matthew, ahora de categoría 3, tocó tierra en el extremo este de Cuba a última hora de la tarde del martes después de haber golpeado fuertemente República Dominicana, donde dejó cuatro muertos, y Haití, donde el saldo provisional es de cinco muertos, 14.000 desplazados y severos daños materiales.
A territorio cubano, Matthew llegó como huracán de categoría 4. El ojo de la tormenta entró por Punta Caleta, en la provincia de Guantánamo, el martes a las 6 de la tarde y se mantuvo estacionario durante varias horas hasta que salió de la isla esta madrugada.
Al dejar Cuba, las ráfagas bajaron a 215 km/h, aunque seguía siendo considerado de categoría 4. Los vientos huracanados se extienden a lo largo de 75 km alrededor del ojo.
Se espera que Matthew siga en dirección norte durante las próximas horas y que el miércoles gire hacia el noroeste. Este jueves atravesará Bahamas y se espera que durante la noche pase "muy cerca" de la costa este de Florida.
El Centro Nacional de Huracanes de Estados Unidos amplió las zonas de la península de Florida que considera en peligro de sufrir vientos huracanados el jueves.
El paso por Haití y República Dominicana
Además de dejar cuatro muertos, el huracán Matthew provocó daños en al menos 200 viviendas en República Dominicana, dijeron funcionarios después de que la tormenta sacudiera la isla que el país comparte con Haití.
Las autoridades dominicanas se vieron obligados a evacuar a casi 800 personas. Las fuertes lluvias y los intensos vientos dejaron asiladas 31 localidades, informó el Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia local.
En Haití, el huracán tocó tierra cerca de Les Anglais, en el extremo oriental del país, hacia las 7 de la mañana hora local (11 GMT).
Informes desde la costa sur indican que varias comunidades quedaron anegadas.
El alcalde de Les Cayes, Jean Gabriel Fortuné, le dijo a la BBC que casi todos los edificios de la ciudad habían perdido sus techos por los fuertes vientos y muchas de las casas más débiles habían sido destruidas.
Mientras que las calles estaban inundadas por la marejada.
El funcionario agregó que hubo numerosas muertes, aunque no precisó la cifra.
Según el periódico Diario Libre, de República Dominicana, el Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia (COE) informó que cuatro personas habían muertoa causa de los deslizamientos de tierra producidos por las lluvias: dos niñas de ocho y diez años, un niño de cinco años, y un oficial retirado.
El presidente interino de Hatí, Jocelerme Privert, dijo más temprano que algunas personas que no habían respetado las alertas habían muerto, pero no dio más detalles.
Haití es uno de los países más pobres del mundo y muchos de sus 11 millones de habitantes viven en zonas propensas a las inundaciones y en viviendas endebles.
El país no se ha recuperado del devastador terremoto de 2010 ni de una extensa epidemia de cólera que trajeron soldados de Naciones Unidas.
Haití ha recibido un golpe brutal. Las condiciones aquí son atroces. Dar un paso fuera es igual a empaparse en cuestión de segundos.
Los más vulnerables fueron quienes viven en las chozas a lo largo de la costa occidental. Allí, las grandes marejadas son el principal peligro.
La gente aquí se enfrentan a inundaciones que amenazan sus vidas y la probabilidad de deslizamientos de tierra en un paisaje sin árboles.
Esta tormenta de categoría 4 llega a este empobrecido país que todavía trata de recuperarse del terremoto de 2010 que mató a más de 200.000 personas, y una epidemia de cólera que llegó después del sismo.
Muchos de ellos viven en los barrios marginales que ofrecen poca protección contra los fuertes vientos y lluvias. Y muchos se negaron a evacuar, por temor a que sus pocas pertenencias que les quedan fuesen robadas.
Las autoridades haitianas informaron que se han construido unos 1.300 refugios, suficientes para acomodar a 340.000 personas. Los dos aeropuertos del país están cerrados.
A pesar de que algunos haitianos han rehusado trasladarse a los refugios, un ciudadano de Puerto Príncipe aseguró que la comunidad se uniría para hacerle frente al peligro de la tormenta.
"Estamos en comunicación entre nosotros por nuestros propios medios. Le informaremos al pueblo cómo está la situación. Si las cosas se ponen mal, nos uniremos".
En Jamaica, el gobierno suspendió la alerta por huracán y la reemplazó por una advertencia de tormenta tropical luego de que el centro de Matthew cambiara su curso hacia Haití.
"Evitamos lo peor del impacto, pero no creemos que estemos fuera de riesgo todavía", dijo Evan Thompson, director del Servicio Meteorológico del país.
Tras golpear a Cuba, se espera que el huracán atraviese las Bahamas con una trayectoria noroccidental, pasando cerca de la costa este de Florida, en Estados Unidos.
En este estado y partes de Carolina del Norte se ha declarado el estado de emergencia.
"Impactos directos de huracán son posibles en Florida tarde esta semana", dice una advertencia del NOAA en su sito internet.
El huracán Matthew es el más poderoso de la región desde Félix, en 2007.
El Centro Nacional de Huracanes de EE.UU. también advirtió sobre la formación de una nueva tormenta tropical, Nicole, que se encuentra a 840 km al noroeste de San Juan Puerto Rico.
Cuenta con vientos máximos sostenidos de 85 km/h con ráfagas más fuertes.
By Guest Nicole
The first time he attended the Pioner School, he did not have a book because of the persecution in Cuba.
By Guest Nicole
La primera vez que fue precursor en la escuela no tenía un libro a causa de la persecución en Cuba
By Guest Nicole
La primera vez que fue precursor en la escuela no tenía un libro a causa de la persecución en Cuba
By Guest Nicole
The last direct flight carrying Cuban migrants out of Costa Rica arrived in Mexico on Tuesday, ending an effort to transport Cubans who have been stranded in Central America since mid-November.
Nearly 8,000 Cuban migrants had been stuck in Costa Rica after Nicaragua, a Cuban ally, began denying them entry. As the flow of migrants began to bottleneck at the border of Nicaragua, Costa Rica in turn closed its border to new arrivals, forcing additional migrants to seek shelter in neighboring Panama.
Panama and Costa Rica agreed on a solution to fly the migrants over Nicaragua to various cities in Mexico and El Salvador starting in January, from where they could continue north until they reached their destination: the U.S. border.
“This has been a successful operation, which included organizing nine flights in a period of three weeks and which was made possible thanks to exceptional measures of support and collaboration on the part of Mexico, Panama and governments of the Latin American region for humanitarian reasons and from a viewpoint of shared responsibility,” Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo de Alvarado said Friday in a statement.
Although most migrants were able to continue on their journey, all arrivals from Cuba after the end of the flight operation on March 8 have been left to comply with Panama’s standard immigration laws, according to the Latin American Herald.
A small number of Cubans are still in Costa Rica as well, said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, unable to make the journey north for various reasons, according to Agence France-Presse.
The process has undeniably had its share of challenges, from lost passports to missing information and logistical setbacks. Tired of waiting in the shelters, approximately 2,985 migrants chose to take their chances with immigrant smugglers (although some reportsestimate the number is closer to 4,000).
According to Costa Rican news source Tico Times, the Solís administration has sought to highlight Costa Rica’s respect for human rights after having helped cause the migration crisis in the first place. The country’s handling of the situation has been praised, and with good reason; Costa Rica issued 7,800 temporary transit visas to the Cubans in just four months, and sheltered 5,500 migrants in 44 locations across the country. These efforts were aided by dozens of families, community groups and religious organizations that helped provide both shelter and food.
“We’ve never had such a large number of migrants together at one time,” President Solís told Tico Times on Friday morning, as one of the last planes carrying Cuban migrants left for Mexico. “Look how they’re leaving – they’re leaving happy and tranquil, thanking the people of Costa Rica.”
The migration of Cubans to the United States has gathered speed in the past few years, with the renewal of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Many Cubans fear that the 1961 Cuban Adjustment Act will be eliminated, and with it, the opportunity to obtain residency in the U.S.
An unprecedented crackdown on churches across the denominational spectrum in Cuba in 2015 has fuelled a spike in reported violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), according to a new report by CSW.
Figures compiled by CSW, which are not exhaustive but which serve as an indicator of the level of FoRB violations, reveal a tenfold increase - with 2,300 separate violations recorded in 2015 compared to 220 in 2014. Many incidents involve involved entire churches or, in the case of arrests, dozens of victims. A digital illustration by CSW highlights the crackdown on churches in Cuba.
The spike in cases was largely due to the government declaring 2,000 Assemblies of God (AoG) churches illegal, ordering the closure or demolition of 100 AoG churches in three provinces, and expropriating the properties of a number of other denominations, including the Methodist and Baptist Conventions. Legally registered and unregistered religious groups across the denominational spectrum reported varying degrees of hostility from the government.
According to the report, “the consistently antagonistic relationship” between Caridad del Rosario Diego Bello, director of the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA), an arm of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party which oversees religious affairs on the island, and the leadership of many religious groups, “is evidence that the office exists solely to monitor, hinder and restrict the activities of religious groups.”
In 2015, the ORA continued to deny authorisation for a number of religious activities and in cooperation with other government agencies, issued fines and threats of confiscation to dozens of churches and religious organizations. The ORA also sanctioned the arbitrary expropriation of historic, registered church properties and the actions against the AoG churches.
CSW’s report also highlights “more brutal and public tactics” being employed by government agents than were witnessed in the first decade of the millennium:
“Week after week, state security agents physically and violently dragged scores of women away from Sunday morning services. Most were arbitrarily detained until after the conclusion of religious services. The government continued to employ a strategy of frequent, temporary arbitrary detention to target those it views as political dissidents. This tactic is also applied to religious leaders who are viewed as problematic, for whatever reason, by the authorities…for the first time in four years a church leader was sentenced to and served six months in prison for holding unauthorised religious services.”
In the face of intense pressure, many Christians are engaging in peaceful protest, as seen in the case of the attempted demolition of an AoG church in Santiago de Cuba in November 2015 which was thwarted after local Christians held a peaceful sit-in at the church building. On 8 January 2016, a large-scale government operation led to the mass arrests of several church leaders and the blocking of their communications devices while two churches were demolished, possibly to pre-empt a similar protest. Both churches belonged to the Apostolic Movement, an unregistered network of Protestant churches.
CSW’s analysis suggests that the Cuban government is trying to eliminate the potential for social upheaval by cracking down on any and all groups that are calling, or could call, for social and political reforms alongside the limited economic reforms the government has enacted.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW doesn’t use the word ‘unprecedented’ lightly to refer to violations of freedom of religion or belief in Cuba in 2015. Following an upward trend in violations in recent years, 2015 witnessed a spike as the authorities deployed ever more public and brutal tactics to target churches across the denominational spectrum, regardless of their legal status. It is clear that despite promises of reform, the government is determined to maintain a tight grip on civil society, including churches. We commend the courage of religious groups who have spoken out publicly to denounce these violations and to call for the right to freedom of religion or belief to be upheld. We urge the international community to stand with them and to hold Cuba to account for these human rights violations.”
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