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Accessing the Internet in Cuban Churches

August 28, 2012 1 comment

By Lic. Yarmis Flores

Liu, reader of the blog, asked the Office, if Cuban churches one can have access to the internet.  Since 1996, the Cuban government, has been clear about its policy with respect to full access to internet services, in Decree 209 of the Council of Ministers, “Access from the Republic of Cuba to Information Networks of Global Reach.”

The island’s government established its proposal to guarantee full access to the Internet, but in a regulated form and acting in the national interests, giving priority to the connection of people in the judiciary and the institutions of the most relevance to the life and development of the country.

All the users with access to the internet on the island, be they Cubans or foreign residents in Cuba, need authorization from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).

In addition, the IP address has to be registered (the only addressing protocol of the Internet, assigned to each machine or device found on the network) and they are controlled by the Agency of Control and Supervision of the MIC. Penalties are imposed on those who don’t comply with this requirement, like the removal of the license to be an Internet user.

It is not recommended to access the Internet secretly, because if the authorities suspect some irregularity in a church or religious group, an order is not required to carry out a search, because Article 217 of the Law of Legal Procedure establishes that “To enter and search a temple or other place intended for a religious group, handing a message to the attention of the person in charge is all that is required.”

Translated by: BW

August 28 2012

Resonance

February 1, 2012 1 comment

Cuba, the little island difficult to locate in the Caribbean Sea and the big booty in the new world order.  Often I hear that it is under siege by the voracious appetite of the empire, its eternal enemy.  Other big powers in the great Europe also lurk for prey.

A nice opening for a fiction novel.  However, we Cubans feel we are at the center of the world, thanks to the eagerness of the socialist government for persecution.  “The little besieged nation survives the attempts to dominate it.”  Lyrical and melodramatic.  In reality, we are the oldest of the Antilles, but not as important or the most well-known among the citizens of the world.

It is there where the problem lies of those who decide to say, from within and faces uncovered, what they feel and think.  How can we make ourselves heard in this world, inside a great act that is called the Socialist Revolution, when the media does not allow us to use new information technology. How can we show up the other side of the system and with angered eyes of repression?

It’s not a question of patriotism. It’s necessity. The human being is nothing without self-expression. Nevertheless, the problem remains. How can we make the world listen when we are surrounded by such obvious successes, free healthcare and education.  Resonance is the only way we can make our voice heard.

Moving away from the methods, the positions, including the work of lobbying the diplomats and politicians, it is fair to recognize that in Europe and United States there are many people who help and multiply our voice, overcoming the differences in customs and languages.  Also, its true that many times we don’t attach enough importance to or know how to appreciate the extent of this support.

On a personal level, I am thankful that they are where it is impossible for us to be, they help us get around the exit permit and conquer the borders of the Ministry of the Interior.  Also I know that many of us hope for more.  Some an aggressive Europe and other a less intransigent United States. Nevertheless, we ask for a little and nothing from ourselves.

That support achieves much more. It counteracts the loneliness when friends are afraid to share with you so that the State Security doesn’t place a mark on them. Only God knows how many times I asked myself, if what I do really is worthwhile. The attention of the outside world feels like a pat on the back, that keeps us from surrendering.

The interest and help from the outside world, in my opinion is an important factor in our struggle for freedom. It shows, as if we, ourselves, were the other side of the coin:  the beatings that the Ladies in White received, the arbitrary detentions, the conditions of political prisoners, the persecution of news reporters, the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and most recently of Laura Pollán.

The part that touches me, I not only am thankful, I also admire those in the outside world who morally and materially support the Cuban dissidents.  Especially so to those, knowing the risk, who come to Cuba and contact us.

I am not interested in the background if there is one, for me it is pure altruism. If another were in my situation I don’t know if I would be interested in those who endure repression in this world and, regretfully, there is no shortage.  For that reason, I am extremely thankful to those in the outside world who make the voice of the Cuban dissidence resonate.

Translated by: BW

January 31 2012

Cubans Can Sell Their Homes

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment

This past November 2nd, the Cuban government published the Legal Decree Number 288 that modified the “General Law of the Home”, and permitted the buying and selling of real estate between private parties, until then it was prohibited by national legislation.

The new law took effect the 10th of November and generally permits owners: Cubans and foreign permanent residents in the country to dispose freely of their real estate.

However, it keeps as a legal requirement, the possibility of owning only one family home and another located in a vacations or summer area.  With respect to the exchanges, donations, and trading, it establishes that it can be formalized before a notary public of the municipality where the real estate is located, prior to registration in the Property Registry.

The real estate registry started to operate in Cuba in the middle of the 19th century.  In the 60s, it came to a standstill with the creation of the General Housing Law, ending legal sales.  It was reopened in 2003, due to the requirements of foreign investment.  Currently, it constitutes an indispensable requirement to carry out transfers of ownership.

The legal decree also eliminated the existing permit that owners had to obtain from the Municipal Director of the Home, to trade and donate their real estate.  Also, it repealed the method of losing a building (confiscation), in cases of transfers of property, construction, expansion, and illegal rehabilitation of houses.

Nevertheless remaining in force are the restrictions of freedom of residence, which impose migratory rules for the capital and for zones of high significance for tourism undergoing a special administrative regimen, as is the case with Old Havana, in the capital, Veradero, and Matanza.

The Legal Rules permit compensation in the case of a difference in the values of the real estate that is traded, which was forbidden before. Also, they reestablish the rights of heirs who are able, in every case, to be awarded the housing, if and when they have no other property. Previously, the beneficiary dweller acquired the property, otherwise, the law recognized the cohabitant.

It maintains the confiscation for leaving the country, but it permits family members to acquire the real estate for free. Before, the state sold the confiscated houses, or some of them, to the co-owner or cohabitant who could show they had lived for 10 years with the emigrant owner. Also, they could not dispose of the housing during the four years before their departure, a restriction that was eliminated.

It imposed the payment of taxes for the Transfer of Real Estate for those who acquire the housing and for the sellers, through Personal Taxes. The taxes on the purchase are based on 4% of the value of the home and are paid in Cuban pesos.

In general, the new law eliminated a series of prohibitions that prevented Cubans from exercising the powers of disposal arising from their ownership. However, it keeps some restrictions pertaining to freedom of movement within the national territory, which impedes the full realization of this right.

On the other hand, it simplifies a series of bureaucratic obstacles. However, the paperwork and the time it takes to exercise this right will be hardly reduced. The state does not have the adequate infrastructure and the conditions for the provision of legal services with the efficiency and the quality that the new regulations require.

Translated by: BW, Haydee Diaz

November 14 2011

Cuban State Remains Silent About Unconstitutional Measures

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The government extended authorizations to contract workers, a decision which violates the Constitution and which no tribunal can question.

Laritza Diversent

The Council of Ministers agreed to extend the authorization to hire workers in the 178 authorized activities of self employment.  The measure was announced by the Granma Newspaper, the official voice of the Communist Party of Cuba, this past 17th of May during a meeting of the Cuban government in which they intended to update the “Economic Plan of 2011″.

The accord signed by the Council of Ministers violates and disrespects precepts of the State Constitution which acknowledges that Cubans have the right to use and enjoy their own personal goods.  It also guarantees property over means and instruments of personal or family work.  However, it prohibits contracting salary work.

In fact, other laws from the judicial system are violated as well.  Contracting a work force is considered  a crime by the penal code, which is punishable by up to 3 years of prison and or a 25,000 peso fine in national currency.

A silenced vital point for sustaining of the” rule of law”. Especially in Cuba, where no court of law can rule on the law’s constitutionality and guide or influence the actions of the legislature and the government.

On the island , the People’s Supreme Court is in charge of the judicial branch, but it is the parliament that decides the constitutionality of the laws enacted by themselves, the laws decreed, decrees, and the rest of the general rules and regulations, and that also revokes the judicial rules that contradict the national supreme law.

The ease with which the measures are adopted, still when it is unconstitutional, and the silence of the government respectively, creates mistrust, because the effectiveness and supremacy of the Cuban Constitution and the exercise of the fundamental rights recognized in it are affected.

A constitutional reform would offer guarantees to citizens who decide to exercise this right, to formally prevent new restrictions about the same things by political free will.

One fears that in the future, the government will rush off to prohibit the hiring of the workforce or they will be interested in putting the brakes on the boom of the sector, as happened in the last few years of the 90s, when they began to freeze the granting of licenses to the self-employed.

According to official statistics, since 1993, when the activity was authorized, until a little before the expansion and liberalization of the self-employed workforce in October 2010, the sector was made up of approximately 87,889 persons, 0.78% of the population.  In 6 months, the figure tripled.  Currently, 309,728 are self-employed, close to 2.76% of the islanders.

In the middle of the economic restructuring, the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party approved self-employment; it became the only economic activity that can be exercised individually by Cubans within the island.

Also, it constitutes an employment alternative.  Since October, self-employment added up to almost 222,000 Cubans, of whom 68% didn’t have labor ties to the only legally recognized employer until October 2010, when self-employed work was expanded and liberalized.

Although the decision represents a benefit for the sector, its legitimacy brings an implicit constitutional and legal reform. The parliament, the organ that supposedly expresses and represents the will of the people, has the responsibility to defend the effectiveness and supremacy of the Cuban Constitution and to guarantee the interests and rights of the cuban people.

Translated by: BW

June 6 2011

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