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Have You Tried Cyanide… General?

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 1 September 2014 -- Today is Zero Day, the fateful date, the day the General Customs of the Republic enacts its new restrictions for non-commercial imports. The measure called to mind an old joke that circulated in the nineties and is still heard today. In this humorous story, a foreign journalist interviewed Fidel Castro and he listed all the obstacles we had faced.
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Who Is Filling Cuba’s University Classrooms?

New students at the University of Havana (14ymedio) Born during the Special Period, they have grown up trapped in the dual currency system, and when they get their degrees Raul Castro will no longer be in power. They are the more than 100,000 young people just starting college throughout the country. Their brief biographies include educational experiments, battles of ideas, and the emergence of new technologies They know more about X-Men than about Elpidio Valdés, and only remember Fidel Castro from old photos and archived documentaries. They are the Wi-Fi kids with their pirate networks, raised with the "packets" of copied shows and illegal satellite dishes
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After 40 Years of Working, Keeping Body and Soul Together Selling Plastic Bags

Selling 'jabitas' (plastic bags) in front of an agricultural market in Havana. (Luz Escobar) 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 28 August 2014 - "I need some dark glasses," Veronica told me one day when I ran into her on the street. Almost seventy, the lady underwent cataract surgery some months ago and now must "take care of my eyes," as she explained to me. She works in the sun selling jabitas (plastic bags) to the customers of the farmers market on Tulipan Street.
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Cuba’s Official Press: Triumphalism, Blacklisting and Censorship

News kiosk (Luz Escobar) 14YMEDIO, Havana, Yoani Sanchez, 22 August 2014 - The phone rings and it's a friend who works for a government publication. She's content because she's published an article that attacks bureaucracy and corruption. The young woman finished college two years ago and has been working in a digital medium that deals with cultural and social issues. She has the illusions of a recent graduate, and she believes she can do objective journalism, close to reality, and help to improve her country
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‘Calling Us Communists Makes Us Look Bad’

Big Brother stands as judge of journalistic "objectivity." [The text says that CPI can temporarily or permanently cancel press credentials for "lack of journalistic ethics... or objectivity.'" Minrex is the Foreign Ministry) A few years ago I met a foreign correspondent based in Cuba who related an absurd and revealing anecdote. The International Press Center (CPI) had called him in to warn him about the content of an article. Receiving the summons didn't surprise him, because warning calls like that were a common practice of this agency in charge of registering and controlling foreign journalists living on the island. Nor could he refuse to appear, because he depended on the CPI for his credentials to report on a nature reserve and even to interview a government minister
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The Maleconazo and the Rafter Crisis in a Can of Condensed Milk

Photo: Karl Poort, 5 August 1994 We had run around together in our Cayo Hueso neighborhood. His family put up several cardboard boxes in vacant lot near Zanja Street, similar to those they'd had in Palmarito del Cauto. His last name was Maceo and something in his face recalled that Titan of so many battles, except that his principal and only skirmish would entail not a horse, but a flimsy raft. When the Maleconazo broke out he joined in the shouting and escaped when the arrests started.
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