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Op-Ed: Brave & Bold Writers at The Havana Times Independent News Source in Communist Cuba

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 United States Embassy in Cuba
Flags of Spain and the European waving over the Embassy of Spain in Cuba. Havana Cuba, November 25, 2020, File photo: Julio Rivalta, Shutter Stock, licensed.

I have seen the rise of fascism and communism. Both philosophies glorify the arbitrary power of the state… But both theories fail. Both deny those God-given liberties that are the inalienable right of each person on this planet, indeed, they deny the existence of God.” –President Ronald Reagan  

PORTSMOUTH, OH  – The United States Embassy in Cuba reopened visa and consular services in January 2023, according to the New York Post. The U.S. says the reopening is to ensure the safe and legal migration of Cubans. 

Due to the 2021 protest for freedom by citizens, Cuba’s new Penal Code, which went into force on December 1, 2022, risks further entrenching long-standing limitations on freedom of expression and assembly and is a chilling prospect for independent journalists, activists, and anyone critical of the authorities, reports Amnesty International

Over many decades, the Cuban authorities have consistently used the criminal law — or the threat of it — to silence dissent. The new Criminal Code contains a suite of chilling provisions that give the authorities even greater powers to continue smothering freedom of expression and assembly in 2023 and beyond,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. 

Review:

The Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that Cubans took to the streets July 11, 2021, calling for the resignation of President Miguel Díaz-Canel and denouncing the regime’s anti-democratic governance. Recent crackdowns on political freedoms and individual liberties, rising poverty levels, and government economic mismanagement have fueled the largest protests that the island has seen in over two decades. 

Thousands of Cubans took to the streets shouting “down with the dictatorship” and “we are not afraid,” protesting against recurring power cuts, economic hardships, the management of the covid-19 pandemic and demanding freedom, the article reported. 

The article noted that Cuba witnessed the largest anti-government demonstrations since the 1994 Maleconazo uprising, which sought to highlight an economic crisis and widespread hunger brought about by the fall of Cuba’s largest benefactor, the Soviet Union, during what is known in Cuba as the “special period.” 

According to a 2021 article by the World Association of News Publishers, the World Editors Forum “condemns the continued arrests of media professionals in Cuba and urge the authorities in Havana to release journalist Camila Acosta immediately. The charges against Acosta and any other journalist in a similar situation must be dropped, and the professional material confiscated must be returned.” 

Communism is in conflict with human nature.” –Ernest Renan 

The protests ended with hundreds of arbitrary citations and detentions across the island, including that of opposition figures, artists, intellectuals and local and foreign journalists. 

Cuban citizens have the right to be informed without hindrance” said Fernando de Yarza López-Madrazo, President of WAN-IFRA. “We urge the Cuban regime to restore the fundamental rights of Cuban journalists to work freely, stop the escalation of violence and arrests. We call on Cuba to lift restrictions on the Internet and guarantee the conditions for the rights of Cuban citizens to be freely informed” he added. 

But throughout the years of bondage and turmoil in Cuba, an independent news source survived because freedom is etched on the hearts of citizens, journalists, writers, and those that tell the stories of both tragedy and triumph. 

Watch an interview with Havana Times editor Circles Robinson. He answers a wide range of questions about the web publication, its history, policies & direction. Havana Times began in October 2008 and is now in its 14th year.  

One of the principal ideas was to give young people, without any avenue of expression in the monopoly state media, a chance to be heard. We naively didn’t think such an effort would be seen as something subversive that would merit punishing the writers…”  

Recent Stories from the Havana Times

Reading the stories of the daily lives of the Cuban people in the section titled, “Diaries” is where you’ll find gut-rending narratives of precious souls on an island prison, as many call the tropical piece of land they inhabit. Many put their raw sufferings on paper as a way to share and bear hardships – and to tell the truth about detrimental communism.  

“Cuba is once again bleeding profusely. Over many decades, the bleeding has never really stopped, but there have been high and low points and the current year was tops statistically. The chronic shortages of basic food and hygiene products, medicines, and nearly everything else, plus routine blackouts and a near collapse of production in all areas creates a desperate panorama,” writes Robinson, the editor in 2022 for the Cuban Diaries.  

Being born and raised in American, the great land of liberty, I cannot even fathom the travail and trials of being controlled by a brutal communist regime. Heartfelt prayers for the Havana Times crew and Cuban citizens that desire freedom, liberty, and justice for all.  

The tyranny of Communism is as old as the Pharaohs and the Pyramids – that the State stands above all men and their individual aspirations.” –Robert Kennedy 

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