Rui Ferreira

Rui Ferreira

Mi padre era actor y mi abuelo general. Una mezcla lo suficientemente explosiva como para generar un tipo que solo hace preguntas, no le gusta las respuestas a medias, y refleja todo eso en la mejor profesión del mundo. Por lo demás, me gusta viajar y fotografiar. A veces eso da plata, otras veces solo entretiene. Pero siempre vale la pena. Por lo que queda, dejémonos de pretensiones.

The lines of people applying for unemployment compensation do not always follow the ordered distance. | Cristóbal Herrera / EFE

Coronavirus: large crowds in Hialeah for unemployment compensation

With the computer system to apply for unemployment compensation collapsed in the face of the advance  of the COVID-19 pandemic, better known as coronavirus, the Florida state government has created a form  for applicants to apply by post, which had initially started being distributed in post offices and government buildings. But with a credible figure of 400,000 unemployed in sight, huge lines have started being seen to get them. It is estimated that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 unemployed in South Florida, a number that will undoubtedly increase as the pandemic spreads. This Wednesday in Miami-Dade County there were 5,354 coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. Unemployment figures are not exact and circulate through informal channels. The city hall of Hialeah, a city with a strong concentration of Cubans in the Miami metropolitan area, has set up three locations to serve the public. But the reception has been so large that endless lines were formed that the police had difficulty controlling. “It is very difficult to determine how many have passed through here,” explains the city’s police spokesman, Ibel Pérez. “They have seen that the lines are huge, never seen before except in artistic or sporting events. It is difficult...

Members of the National Guard wear protective gear while making nasal swabs for coronavirus testing at a test station in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Cafe Miami in the Super Bowl Stadium in Miami. Photo: Cristóbal Herrera / EFE / EPA.

Almost 400,000 people have applied for unemployment compensation in Florida due to COVID-19

COVID-19, the scientific name for the fearsome coronavirus, has left a trail of nearly 400,000 unemployed in Florida. But there are many more. In fact, nobody knows how many because there is no way to count them. All this because the computer system that processes the applications for unemployment benefits, whose installation cost 77.9 million dollars, simply doesn’t work. The program was created during the past administration of the former governor and now Republican Federal Congressman Rick Scott (2011-2019). Over the past three years, Florida auditors have repeatedly told Scott and current Governor Ron De Santis that the system has to be fixed. But they have not listened to them. In addition to the fact that the situation might not be a problem in normal times because Florida used to receive a monthly average of 30,000 requests for compensation. During the past two weeks the figure has shot up to just under 400,000 requests and the system has crashed. The crisis is so big that, at least in this, Republicans and Democrats agree. “It’s a disaster,” an unidentified adviser to Governor De Santis commented to the Politico site. The fiercest criticism comes from the Republicans. This being a presidential election...

A group of nurses and doctors carry out coronavirus tests at a drive-through site at the Hard Rock Café in Miami. EFE/Cristobal Herrera

National Guard controls entrances to Florida and prevents tourists from entering Key West

The advance to the southern United States of COVID-19, the fearsome coronavirus, has led authorities to control entering the state. First of travelers from Louisiana and now from New York, where the virus has attacked with more force and caused 1,550 deaths only this Tuesday, 300 new cases more than the previous day, for a total to date of more than 76,000 patients reported. This alarm has caused thousands of New Yorkers to want to move to Florida, which has led Governor Ron DeSantis to sign an executive order to prevent their entry. Likewise, from other states that, although they don’t register such high figures, are cause of public concern. The order also requires anyone who wants to enter and has visible signs of carrying the virus to be quarantined. To do this, it has mobilized the National Guard and local police. But it is not an easy task, among other reasons because the terms of the proclamation of the state of emergency promulgated by DeSantis are not emphatic in this regard, and the subsequent orders hardly allow the authorities to encourage the return home of those who want to enter Florida. For example, if a New Yorker has a...

View of the Lincoln Road shopping street in Miami Beach, with all businesses closed. Photo: EFE / Ivonne Malaver

Miami-Dade closes all hotels and Miami Beach decrees curfew

Miami-Dade County ordered the closure of all hotels and Miami Beach decreed curfew and also the closure of its hotels, all as of next Monday. This represents an unprecedented impact on the South Florida economy, because in addition to the loss of large incomes, it involves laying off thousands of workers. Mayor Carlos Giménez’s emergency decree makes just one exception in the accommodation of airline personnel, since the airport is still open, medical care, firefighters, victims of domestic violence, journalists from out of town and individuals who do not have a way to depart from South Florida. In turn, after the beaches were closed, in Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber decided to close the nearly 250 hotels in the city and enact the curfew from twelve at night until five in the morning starting Monday, which will transform the famous South Florida beach resort into a ghost town. According to Gelber, violators of the ordinance will be harshly prosecuted. “Any person who fails to comply with the measure will be subject to arrest, fine and/or imprisonment,” according to the aggravating circumstances. In a statement, the mayor regretted having made that decision, since “hotels are the soul of the economy on...

Photo: www.unmundopequenio.com

Canceling all flights to Cuba due to coronavirus proposed in Miami

While President Donald Trump banned flights between the United States and European countries in the Schengen area, a Miami-Dade County commissioner has scheduled a meeting for next week to discuss the total cancelation of flights between southern Florida and Havana. Republican and Cuban-American Commissioner Esteban Bovo’s reasons for canceling the flights are the existing rumors about possible cases, the increase in bilateral trade between China and Cuba, the absence of information by the Cuban government about the extent of the pandemic in the country as well as Cuban medicine’s alleged lack of preparation and equipment to face the threat. The proposal will be discussed next Tuesday, March 17. Such a measure would radically affect the largest Cuban community in the diaspora. Last Thursday, in a press conference at the Jackson Memorial public hospital, the mayor of the county, Carlos Gimenez, said that he agrees with the suspension of flights to Cuba and that he has the support of Governor Ron DeSantis. “I have spoken to the governor, I know that the president yesterday suspended all flights from Europe, and I am asking him (the governor) for help if he can assist us in this. I know that the coronavirus has...

Photo: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS.

Western Union suspends sending of remittances to Cuba from all over the world except the United States

The U.S. financial services and communications company Western Union confirmed this Thursday that it has canceled money transfers to Cuba from all countries except the United States. “Given the unique challenges of operating remittance services to Cuba from countries outside the United States, Western Union is unable to operate money transfers to Cuba from countries other than the United States as of February 26, 2020. We understand the impact this will have on our clients and we will continue to contact them if we are presented with the possibility of reactivating transactions to Cuba outside the United States in the future,” said a company spokeswoman in a brief statement sent to OnCuba, confirming something that had been advanced several days ago. The note does not specify the circumstances or the reasons that led Western Union to take this measure. These transactions represent an important support that Cubans living abroad provide to their families on the island. This is a flow of funds that in 2018 reached 6.6 billion dollars, 90% from the United States. Although the restriction will not substantially affect the amount of remittances, it also does not represent the end of their sending from other countries, where other...

San Lázaro Street, in Havana. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Cuba faces crucial payments of its external debt

2020 hasn’t started well for Cuba in terms of paying its foreign debt. After a delay in the 2019 payment to the Paris Club, it is now at the door of a lawsuit in a London court after the Cayman Isles investement fund CRF I Ltd. filed the case for the default of a debt of 1.4 billion of dollars, contracted since 2009. In 2018, this company and other creditors submitted a debt renegotiation proposal, but it was not answered by Havana, so the matter now went to court. CRF I Ltd. is a conglomerate of several companies that sells material related to the nuclear world, military, radiological supplies, detection of explosives and analysis of needs in this field, including the medical field. In the case of Havana, the debt is due to the acquisition of airport and clinical security material. The company and its associates tried to contact the Cuban authorities last year, but did not get an answer, one of its executives said to the British press. “CRF is an important holder of Cuban commercial debt and seeks a fair and equitable outcome for both Cuba and its commercial creditors and will endeavor to work constructively with Cuba towards...

Photo: eju.tv

Claver-Carone, architect of the counter-thaw with Cuba, leaving the White House

President Trump would be unhappy with the slowness in a solution to the “Venezuelan situation.” One of the main architects of the dismantling of the thaw between the United States and Cuba is probably in the final stretch of his days at the White House. Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, director for Latin America of the National Security Council, is being considered for the position of vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, based in Washington, as confirmed by two sources close to the Donald Trump administration. The position at the Bank is currently held by an old employee of the institution after his predecessor, Brian O’Neill, passed away last year in January. Although the United States is the main contributor of the funds to the Bank, it does not appoint its president but the second in command. Claver-Carone has experience in banking. Before being appointed to the National Security Council, he served as executive director of the International Monetary Fund for some years and was an advisor to the Treasury Department. Since arriving at the National Security Council, he was characterized by great hostility towards Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and, along with the also Cuban-American senator, Republican Marco Rubio, was characterized...

Cuban-American Nelson Pérez, now archbishop of Philadelphia, when he served as bishop of Cleveland. Photo: Vatican News / Archive.

Pope Francis appoints first U.S. archbishop of Cuban origin

This Thursday, Pope Francis named Cuban-American Nelson Pérez, 58, as archbishop of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, the first of Cuban origin in the United States. The priest was elevated to that responsibility after serving as bishop in the city of Cleveland since 2017 and after an ecclesiastical career that began 25 years ago with his ordination precisely in Philadelphia in 1989. In 1998, Pope John Paul II had appointed him his personal chaplain, and eleven years later his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, made him “honorary prelate.” According to Catholic sources, his elevation to archbishop is seen as a commitment of the Catholic Church to revitalize the Christian faith in Philadelphia, a city affected by a galloping desertion of the faithful from the temples because of the allegations of pedophilia in the archdiocese and financial shortfalls. His election also seeks to boost the work of the 215 parishes, their 460 priests and a network of Catholic universities and schools serving more than 141,000 students, according to the Inquirer. Monsignor Pérez was born in Miami in 1961, a few months after his Cuban parents left Cuba. With this appointment he becomes the United States’ first Hispanic and Cuban-American archbishop. The closest ones...

Photo: Kaloian.

Cubans in Miami don’t protest, but tickets are sold out

When on January 10 the Trump administration decided to reduce direct charter flights from the United States to nine Cuban airports, leaving just Havana as a gateway, thousands of Cubans protested throughout the United States. But in silence. Not raising a ruckus. The protests were not like at other times when the community has been affected by something that deeply concerns them. In Miami, nobody took to the streets to protest this enormous harm to family communication; the media also did not echo the dissatisfaction. The same happened in October when the administration imposed the same measure for U.S. airlines’ commercial flights. The Cubans protested, essentially, in the offices of the companies that rent the airplanes, which, of course, can do nothing. “People have come to protest here and are anxious about what will happen. They are booking in bulk for flights before March 10 (when the closure begins) because no one knows what the future holds in store,” explains Marisol Rodríguez, director of the Marazul company, which flies about 18 times a day to the island. But no one has taken to the streets or concentrated in front of the offices of Cuban-American politicians who support this type of...

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images.

U.S. suspends charter flights to Cuba, except to Havana

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that all charter flights from the United States to the interior of Cuba will be suspended “until further notice.” The Havana route is barely covered, as happened last year with commercial flights by U.S. airlines. The new measure affects nine airports on the island. It is not clear whether the bilateral civil aviation agreement, signed in 2016, will remain in force or will be canceled. The new restriction will begin on March 10. A cap on charter flights will also be established, to be defined in the coming weeks. As indicated in a press release by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo citing the existence of a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, the objective is to “strengthen the impact of the administration's policy of economically pressuring the Cuban regime” in areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms due to Cuban support to the Venezuelan government. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba-usa/u-s-to-suspend-flights-to-cuba-except-havana/ Cuba’s reaction was almost immediate. “I strongly reject new ban by #US government on charter flights to #Cuba except# Havana and restriction on their number. It is a serious violation of human rights, Americans’ freedom to travel and hinders family reunification. #CubaVSBloqueo,” Cuban Foreign Minister...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

2019, the “annus horribilis” for Cuba-U.S. relations

The year 2019 is considered by many analysts as the worst between Cuba and the United States in the last three years. The State Department has even admitted that it has no great interest in improving relations as long as the island does not introduce reforms and puts a stop to its alliance with the Caracas government. When relations between the two countries were reestablished on December 17, 2014, and on March 20, 2016, President Barack Obama landed at Havana’s airport, many supporters of bilateral relations felt that there was no rolling back that thaw, which was a fait accompli. What nobody anticipated was that a New York real estate entrepreneur named Donald John Trump was going to get in the way of the fate of the two countries. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s statements about Cuba were conflicting. He swayed a great deal, like a pendulum. He started by saying that he wanted a better deal with Cuba than the one negotiated by Obama. Then he said he didn't want any deal, he flirted with the total diplomatic cut and ended up saying that maybe “we can talk with the Cubans because I’m the best negotiator in the...

Eusebio Leal shows the king and queen of Spain the untouched throne at the Palace of the Captains General. Photo: EFE

Eusebio, how did you do it?

It was 1979. Eusebio Leal was leaning on the southeast wall of the Palace of the Captains General in Old Havana, looking up at the sky. It was a sunny day, there were no signs of rain but Eusebio always looks up as if looking for some kind of inspiration. Never, in all these years, have I spoken to him about this curious detail. Norma and I were walking through the square when we spotted him. Eusebio was, as his friend García Márquez said, a being who levitated without realizing it because he was not interested. At that time, he was interested in two things: teaching and recovering. And when we met him that’s what we got, a lesson. “Are you students?” Of course. “That’s great….” The phrase stayed in the air and as I was a fan of the “Andar La Habana” (A Walk through Havana) program, I couldn't think of anything other than asking where those stones he was leaning on came from. We had to ask him something, didn’t we? What followed was a university lecture. He explained that many came from quarries on the island, others from Spain, some marbles from Europe but, most importantly, that...

Image: Medicoinc / Archive.

Two Cubans who swindled public health system condemned in Miami

The Pichardos are daring people. Two decades ago they crossed the Straits of Florida on a raft. And in Miami they swindled 38 million dollars from Medicare for six years. But they were caught. This Monday it was reported that a federal judge in Miami sentenced Rodolfo Pichardo, 71, to a 15-year prison sentence, and his wife, Marta Pichardo, 66, to 8 years in prison. Between 2010 and 2016 both created six home healthcare agencies, three health personnel firms and two pharmacies, with which they devised a scheme to charge the federal government for subsidized medical services that were never provided. Although the couple pleaded guilty, the judge had no mercy and the man received the maximum possible penalty for his crime. The scheme is simple. They recruit people who receive subsidized medical services, pay them to sign the sworn statements that they have received treatment and send the bill to the government. In this case, the scam was a bit more sophisticated, because it was extended to medicines and for that they created the two pharmacies. The Pichardos have not been the only ones to defraud the government in this way. In fact, federal authorities have been constantly saying...

Cuban immigrants on the border between Mexico and the United States. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

United States has deported 1,179 Cubans in 2019

During this year that is coming to an end the amount of deportations of Cubans, who until a couple of years ago enjoyed a privileged entry to the United States, has been the largest. According to the latest figures from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), some 1,179 Cubans were deported to their home country, under a bilateral agreement signed in the last days of the Barack Obama administration. This figure represents more than double of that of last year when deportations reached 463 and in 2017 they were barely 160. That is, in the last two years, deportations registered an increase of 600%. For the director of ICE, Mattew T. Albence, the rocketing of deportations is due to the bilateral agreement of 2017, which also eliminated the wet foot-dry foot policy. At a press conference, the official said that now they can deport Cubans, that’s why this increase can be seen. And he added that Cuba did not accept them before but now they are collaborating with then by providing travel documents. “It is obvious that the Trump administration is considering Cubans as immigrants without special conditions and is applying his deportation policy to the letter,” lawyer...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Could diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States be broken?

Last Monday the director of Cuban diplomacy toward the United States, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, affirmed that if the United States decides to break diplomatic relations with the island, Havana is prepared for that possibility. “We’re not going to lose sleep,” he said. “I don't think relations will be broken. Frankly, I don't know if they will be. I do know that there is a group of powerful people who have that intention,” said the director for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry. “But what Cuba cannot do is be surprised by that reality, if it happens.” Now the question, several analysts bring up, is whether something like this will happen in the midst of the deterioration of the links in response to the revival in April of the Helms-Burton Act and the barrage of restrictions that followed, such as suspension, “until further notice,” of commercial flights to the Cuban provinces and the elimination of cruises. For now, the Donald Trump administration has reacted with utmost discretion. Neither the White House nor the State Department has wanted to comment openly on what was raised by the Cuban official. Only on Tuesday, an official related to U.S. policy towards...

Image of the first demonstration in Miami against the cancellation of the family reunification program, held in 2018. Photo: Twitter / Archive.

Tension heightens in Cuban Miami due to cancellation of family reunification program

The feeling of rejection over the Trump administration’s suspension of the family reunification program for Cubans has been increasing within the Cuban-American community, frustrated by broken promises. The reunification program, known as “parole,” implied that Cubans who had applied to reunite with their relatives in the United States had priority at the time of receiving the permit, without waiting for the virtual line that takes years and includes other nationalities. In addition to the painful prospect of spending years without seeing their relatives, many of the affected complain that immigration officials charged them in advance for the service, but later they suspended the program and they haven’t even been reimbursed. “The problem here is the silence. The government suspended the program but didn’t give back the money, which was quite a lot. People are upset with this, but the worst thing is the silence. There is no explanation from immigration or the secretary of state and, in return, all they offer is rejection. Even for us,” explains to OnCuba Jorge Benavides, a Cuban-American immigration lawyer. The official position of the immigration services is that the program is “under review,” but it’s been like that since it was suspended in 2017,...

List announcing flights to Cuba at Miami International Airport. Photo: EFE / Archive.

Miami airport with high passenger to Cuba index despite flight restrictions

U.S. airlines may no longer be traveling to the interior of Cuba, but despite this, the movement of passengers at the Miami airport does not seem to have decreased. Charter flights have now occupied that market niche and have filled that need with the increase in the number of flights. “We are responding to the need of the public who on these holidays, as on previous ones, travels en masse to Cuba. From here to the end of the year all flights have been sold out,” Mireya León, flight dispatcher of one of the charter companies, told OnCuba. And the source explains that they have even sold in advance the seats that are usually set aside for passengers with last-minute emergencies. Since commercial flights to Cuba opened in mid-2016, charter companies suffered a downturn, difficult to quantify because they don’t report detailed figures, and lost customers because U.S. airlines lowered prices in many cases by more than 50%. Although the ticket prices for Christmas tend to increase due to the high season, even with the absence of commercial flights to the interior of the island, the trip for many Cubans living in South Florida was made more bearable. “I started...

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking at the University of Louisville, Ky., on Monday, December 2, 2019. Photo: Timothy D. Easley / AP.

U.S. accuses Cuba of “hijacking” protests in Latin America and applies more sanctions

Hours before leaving for London for the 70th anniversary ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Cuba of trying to “hijack” the public protests of recent weeks in Chile and Bolivia to include them in their ideological orbit. And hours after arriving in the British capital, the Trump administration announced a new package of sanctions against a group of oil tankers transporting crude from Venezuela to the island. “In just the last few years, we’ve seen some truly remarkable things.  Many nations have made a sharp turn towards democracy and capitalism, good government, away from dictatorship and socialism and the corruption that has been endemic in some of those countries. You see this just in the past few weeks. The Bolivians are rebuilding their democracy even as we sit here today.  No one in the region any longer believes that authoritarianism is the way forward, that it’s the right path, whether you stare at the people in Cuba or in Nicaragua or in Venezuela,” said the secretary of state in a speech at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. Pompeo said the United States assumes the “moral and strategic” responsibility of making it appear...

Image of the Portuguese Parliament. Photo: Assembleia da República.

Portuguese Parliament closes friendship with Cuba parliamentary group

The Foreign Relations Commission of the Portuguese parliament has taken Cuba out of the list of parliamentary groups of friendship with Portugal, a gesture described as “unusual” and that will be appealed by the communist MPs. The decision was made behind closed doors, without it being included in the work agenda and without the presence of the communist MPs, one of which chairs the Portugal-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group. According to Sergio Sousa Pinto, chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission and deputy of the ruling Socialist Party, the exclusion is due to the fact that the Cuban parliament “isn’t democratic” nor does it have “a multi-party parliamentary election,” two “mandatory” requirements to maintain friendship relations with its Portuguese colleagues. However, the Parliamentary Group of Friendship with Cuba is one of the oldest formed in the Portuguese parliament: it exists since 1977, when it was created at the beginning of the first legislature on the advent of the country’s democracy after 48 years of dictatorship The Friendship group is chaired by communist MP Antonio Felipe and is made up of, among others, his colleague Joao Oliveira, who reported in a press release that the communist MPs were not summoned to the meeting...

Photo: Marita Pérez.

The juice war in Miami

Fruit shops are one of the most popular establishments in Miami. There you can buy all kinds of imported fruits from the most diverse places on the planet. They serve monumental juices that put anyone's sugar levels at risk but they don't stop being consumed by liters. In recent years they have been accompanied by popular Latino food, desserts of all types and they have created an environment for family recreation. Almost all of them are initiatives of Cuban immigrants who saw in it a commercial goldmine enhanced by quality and variety and are already an indelible part of the city whose inhabitants appreciate them. “We come every week, it's a cheap place where you eat healthy food. It is easier for them to choose the fruits for us, propose juices and it is a place to have a social life and not being locked up at home,” explains Joselino Gutiérrez, a Cuban who almost always goes to one of the establishments of the Palacio de los Jugos. A customer is served in the hot food section of the Palacio de los Jugos. Photo: Rui Ferreira. The fruit shops are scattered throughout the city, there’s one...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. Photo: EFE / EPA / OLIVIER HOSLET

Mike Pompeo defends U.S. diplomats in Havana

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a passionate defense of the highest U.S. diplomat in Havana after the Cuban government accused her of interfering in the country's internal affairs by meeting with opponents. “Our Chargé d’Affaires and her team at the U.S. Embassy in Havana remain steadfast as they carry out the President’s mission to defend human rights and advance the cause of democracy in Cuba,” said the secretary of state in a press release referring to recent criticism of Chargé d’Affaires Mara Tekach. According to Pompeo, the Cuban government “has launched these baseless allegations against her in an attempt to distract the international community from its abysmal treatment of the Cuban people, especially the ongoing arbitrary detention of dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer.” In his opinion, the Cuban ambassador to Washington, José Ramón Cabañas, “enjoys freedom of expression here in the United States and uses it to publicly criticize our government.  We only wish other Cuban citizens, including the over 100 other political prisoners currently incarcerated by the Cuban regime and the hundreds of other dissidents subject to official harassment, could enjoy that same right to freedom of expression and the ability to criticize their own government in Cuba, as...

View of the Miami-Dade Commission. Photo: Miami-dade.gov

Miami-Dade councilors vote against family reunification for Cubans

Miami-Dade County Commissioners reverted to U.S. foreign policy, a federal exclusive, but this time against the aspirations of many of its neighbors, by rejecting a proposal to urge Washington to restore the family reunification program for Cubans. In a rather unusual vote, Democrats and Republicans agreed to vote against a proposal presented by federal Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Murcasel-Powell, presented through Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. The Democrats have a slight majority in the commission but all their commissioners are not of Cuban origin. When they began to see the rejection of the Republicans, surprisingly even Levine Cava ended up withdrawing the proposal. The commissioner argued that this is an issue that has to do with the importance of the family, with the need to reunify the families that have sought refuge after escaping the Cuban communist regime. But Republican Esteban Bovo, a strong follower of President Donald Trump, argued that a request of that nature represented “a slap” to Washington's policy and should be rejected. The 13 commissioners engaged in a quick discussion that ended up leading to nothing, but it made it clear that they still think they have something to say in terms of foreign policy. Last July the...

The ICE correction center in Cibola County, New Mexico, where the Cubans are isolated. Photo: ICE

More Cubans detained by immigration in U.S. on hunger strike

The hunger strikes by Cubans who are in the process of deportation have intensified in recent days. This time they are about 12 Cubans who are confined in the Cibola County Correction Center, in the city of Milan, New Mexico. The reason for the strike is that their requests for political asylum have been denied and the authorities have included them in a process for their deportation to the island. As a result of this strike, two of them told local media, the prison authorities have put them in punishment cells isolated from the rest of the prison population. “We are not criminals but they keep us prisoners. We are threatened with death if they take us back to our country, they will have to bury us here, they will have to cremate us here,” said Cuban Juan Carlos Peña Pavón, 51, who is being held in the Cibola center after passing nine days in an isolation cell. Peña Pavón is part of a group that has starred in similar protests in another prison, in the city of Chaparral in the same state, and even two of his cellmates have attempted suicide, the newspaper The New Mexican reported. Although the...

Mérida airport. Photo: sipse.com

Prices to Cuba have gone up because of the season, not because of the restrictions

The reduction of flights between the United States and Cuba resulted in airlines from other countries starting to meet those needs mainly focused on the Cuban community in South Florida eager to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with their families. But it is also a kind of return to the origins when flying to Cuba was more difficult, there were barely no charter flights, and many passengers made fun of the restrictions by traveling through third countries, almost always Mexico, Bahamas or Canada. Several employees of travel agencies in Miami have confirmed to OnCuba that they have started seeing an increase in flight reservations to the island in this now recovered modality. “People are now flying through a Mexican airline that has opened a daily flight from Mérida (in the state of Yucatán, near the western coast of Cuba) to Havana that is cheaper. It takes a little time because they have to travel to Mexico, but it really isn't that much. The process can take about three hours between flights and the stopover at the airport,” explains María González, an agency employee. The Mexican airline is Interjet, which until two weeks ago had two weekly flights between Mérida...

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