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How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:


Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

Instead, you visit your homeland simply to see your mother or spend time in your own country.

When parasites bite harder

People in charge there believe — mistakenly — that they are the country, like parasites imagining they have become the body they feed off. You, of course, have said this much better in your own eloquent words, which only makes the parasites angrier.

The last time you went home, you went on hunger strike, to speak with a vigor that transcends words. So they took you to a room for questioning. They must have thought that would be enough to shut you up. Or they may have just done it in routine fashion, without much conviction.

They were just doing a job, as it were, and are not paid to "believe" in it. These inspectors are, at the end of the day, simply smaller parasites living off the big ones. The parasitical system has its logic.

In your writings, you have denounced the logic that is insane: as the blood runs out, the mites bite harder. They reveal themselves. The parasites of politics no longer have time, nor saliva left, for florid speeches to numb their victims. They seek new strategies.

And so on Sunday, at 3.30 p.m., Cuban writer and journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez was scheduled to board an American Airlines flight in Miami for Havana. He was going to see his mother. But the airline wouldn't let him onto the plane. No explanation given: just that from Havana, he were denied permission to fly. Has sido negado de La Habana.It's not even a proper sentence. "Denied?"

It's absurd, but he's made to understand: No, you cannot reenter your own country.

Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez was prevented from returning to Cuba from the U.S. on November 20.

Instagram account

Money talks

The same thing happened to Anamely Ramos, an art curator American Airlines had also refused to board onto a flight to Havana in February. The Airline says both times the Cuban regime made them do it.

American Airlines and Southwest have become servants of a totalitarian regime

There was also Omara Ruiz Urquiola, a professor that Southwest Airlines prevented from boarding her flight in June. There is complicity here. American and Southwest Airlines have become servants of a totalitarian regime, working from inside democratic countries. The parasites send them their blacklists — containing people who have committed no offense — so their cabin staff can do the Cuban security services' jobs for them.

These airlines are disgracing themselves, allowing the Cuban regime to violate human rights inside the United States. Such actions should be outlawed by U.S. courts, if it isn't already illegal.

So why are these American companies doing the Cuban regime's bidding on U.S. soil? One simple reason: to safeguard their lucrative route between Miami and Havana. You know what they say: business is business.

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Zambia Questions Its Harrowing Puberty Rites Of Passage For Girls

Zambia’s traditional counselors are rethinking the country’s puberty rites, which some argue are detrimental to girls’ well-being.

Photograph of young girls in Zambia standing behind a vegetable stand.

October 5, 2018, Lusaka, Zambia: Children standing behind a vegatable stand.

Lou Jones/ZUMA
Prudence Phiri

LUSAKA — On a sunny afternoon in Chipungu, a clean-swept hamlet in Rufunsa, a rural district east of Lusaka, three girls who have recently reached puberty sit on the floor of a thatched roof hut in the center of the village. The girls, wearing only their underpants, are seated on a reed mat, their legs stretched out and heads bowed. Around them, women take turns performing sexually suggestive dances, aimed at teaching the teenagers how to engage in sexual acts.

This is an essential part of the traditional female initiation ceremony into adulthood, known as Chinamwali in Zambia’s Eastern province and Chisungu in the country’s Northern province. Here, for the next few weeks, the girls will learn how to serve and sexually please their future husbands.

Margaret Banda, a 54-year-old woman who serves as the community’s apungu — a local term that refers to the ritual’s mistress of ceremony — raises the girls’ heads, forcing them to watch the women and demonstrate what they’ve learned. It is then the teenagers’ turn to repeat the dances.

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