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ElTOQUE is an independent multimedia platform focused on the storytelling of Cuba
This Happened—January 1: The Cuban Revolution Ends
This Happened

This Happened—January 1: The Cuban Revolution Ends

On January 1, 1959, Cuba’s military dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the country and the rebels, led by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, celebrated in Havana, ending the Cuban Revolution.

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Why did the Cuban Revolution take place?

The U.S. had been a major force in Cuba since the early 1900s. Much of the country’s business was owned by the U.S., including its main export, sugar. The Batista regime was unpopular with the Cuban people. However, he supported U.S. interests, so Washington in turn supported him.

Castro wanted to remove the chokehold the U.S. had over the Cuban economy and launch a Communist Revolution in the process.

How did the Cuban Revolution happen?

In November 1956, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara gathered 80 guerrilla fighters and sailed from Mexico on a small yacht. Batista learned of the attack and ambushed the group, but 20 men escaped, including Fidel and Raul Castro and Guevara. The group found refuge in the mountains, attracted new members, and started guerrilla warfare against Batista’s better-armed regime.

For the next two years, Cuba experienced civil war. In December 1958, Guevara’s forces defeated a larger army in the Battle of Santa Clara, where they captured a train full of arms and ammunition. By January 1, 1959, the rebels had reached the capital, Havana, and Batista fled.

What was the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution?

Batista lived in exile in Portugal until his death in 1973. Fidel Castro reached Havana on January 9 to take charge. Many Batista supporters were tried and executed. Although Castro had promised elections, he postponed them once he came to power.

The U.S. initially recognized the Castro government, but relations quickly broke down when Castro implemented a Communist regime. The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Havana in 1961. Tensions further increased in the following years, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Fidel Castro remained in power until 2008, when he chose his brother Raul as successor.

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

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.

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:

-OpEd-

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.

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This Happened—November 25: Death Of A Communist Icon
Cuba

This Happened—November 25: Death Of A Communist Icon

After winning a revolution, and ruling for almost half a century, Fidel Castro dies at the age of 90.

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Who was Fidel Castro?

The bearded face of Communism in Cuba and beyond, Fidel Castro reigned from 1959 to 2008 as Prime Minister and President of the island nation.

Castro had led a successful Communist revolution against the oppressive U.S.-backed Batista regime. His administration nationalized Cuba’s industries, putting an end to private ownership. He was a self-proclaimed “socialist, and Marxist–Leninist" who believed strongly in converting Cuba - along with the rest of the world - from a capitalist system in which individuals own the means of production into a socialist system in which the means of production are owned by the state and workers.

Why was Fidel Castro controversial?

After the U.S. repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to end Castro’s early rule with a series of assassination attempts, embargos, and the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro aligned more closely with the Soviet Union, allowing them to build missile launch sites on the island less than 90 miles away from the U.S., solidifying him as a sure enemy of Washington.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro was reportedly enraged when the Soviet Union agreed to disarm, rather than fire its nuclear weapons at the U.S.

When did Fidel Castro Die?

The 90-year old former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Council of State, Fidel Castro died of natural causes at 10:29 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2016.

Picture of Raul Castro and Nicolas Maduro watching Havana May Day parade
Geopolitics
Mauricio Rubio

How Cuban Intelligence Helped Secure Maduro's Grip On Power In Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has managed to cling to power after an allegedly rigged 2018 presidential election. He did so with the help of Cuba, having enjoyed "working relations" with Cuban intelligence for decades.

BOGOTÁ — In the late 1980s, Venezuela's Socialist President Nicolás Maduro was a student in Havana, where Cuban intelligence tried to recruit him to promote revolution in Latin America.

Maduro has been president of Venezuela since 2013, following the death of Hugo Chavez. Since taking office, the authoritarian leader has been accused of crimes against humanity and managed to cling to power after attempts to oust him over an allegedly rigged 2018 election.

New evidence has shown how Maduro's formative years in Cuba have helped him cement his grip on power.

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March for the 69th anniversary of the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.
Economy
Loraine Morales Pino

What's Driving The New Migrant Exodus From Cuba

Since Cuba reopened its borders last December after COVID closures, the number of people leaving the island has gone up significantly. Migration has been a constant in Cuban life since the 1950s. But this article in Cuba's independent news outlet El Toque shows just how important migration is to understand the ordeals of everyday life on the island.

HAVANA — Some 157,339 Cubans crossed the border into the United States between Oct. 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, according to the U.S. Border Patrol — a figure significantly higher than the one recorded during the 1980 Mariel exodus, when a record 125,000 Cubans arrived in the U.S. over a period of seven months.

Migrating has once again become the only way out of the ordeal that life on the island represents.

Cubans of all ages who make the journey set off towards a promise. They prefer the unknown to the grim certainty that the Cuban regime offers them.

Migration from Cuba has been a constant since the 1950s.

In 1956, the largest number of departures was recorded in the colonial and republican periods, with the arrival of 14,953 Cubans in the United States, the historical destination of migratory flows. Since the January 1959 revolution, that indicator has been exceeded 30 times.

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​Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits the Volkswagen plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo on the first day of his campaign for Brazil’s presidential elections.
In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

Night Of Shelling Across Ukraine, Lula Leads, Resurrecting Tasmanian Tigers

👋 Laphi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine wakes up from a night of sustained shelling, Lula leads the polls as Brazil’s presidential race opens, and researchers are trying to bring Tasmanian tigers back to life. Meanwhile, we look at the dire dairy situation in Cuba, which faces severe milk shortages.

[*Aymara - Bolivia]

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This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Russian missiles strike Odessa: At least four people have been injured overnight after Russia fired anti-ship missiles on the city of Odessa, in southern Ukraine. Several buildings including a recreational center have been destroyed, and a fire is ravaging a 600-square-meter area.

• Liz Cheney loses Republican primary: Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney has lost her seat against Donald Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary elections. Cheney had been her party’s most vocal critic of former President Trump since the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

• Lula leads Brazil election polls: The race has officially begun for Brazil’s presidential election that will pit far-right President Jair Bolsonaro against former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on October 2. The most recent poll gives Lula a 12% lead over his rival, who lost popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Multiple bombings in Thailand: Three provinces in southern Thailand have been rocked by bombings and fires in 17 separate locations on Wednesday, injuring at least seven people. The coordinated attacks, the perpetrators of which are unknown, targeted convenience stores and a gas station.

• Biden signs climate and healthcare bill: U.S. President Joe Biden has signed an unprecedented $700 billion bill aiming to fight against climate change and high healthcare costs. The bill will also increase taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals.

• China tries boosting its birth rate: Chinese authorities are taking steps to increase the nation’s birth rate, one the lowest in the world. Measures include discouraging abortions, improving education and housing support, and making fertility treatment more accessible.

• Scientists hope to revive Tasmanian tiger: A team of Australian and U.S. researchers intends to revive the Tasmanian tigers (or thylacines), marsupials who have been extinct since the 1930s. If successful, this plan would mark the first “de-extinction” event in history.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Milan-based sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sportcelebrates Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs’ 100m race victory at the European Athletics Championships. In July, Jacobs had to withdraw from the World Athletics Championships in Oregon due to a thigh injury. With this new medal, “Il Re” (The King) becomes only the third man in history to win 100m European and Olympic titles back to back.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

10.1%

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that the United Kingdom’s inflation rate jumped to 10.1% in July and is at its highest since 1982. This is mainly due to the soaring food prices, including milk and bread, as a recession looms and the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

The many paradoxes of Cuba's eternal milk shortages

Milk shortages are not a new thing in Cuba, where the state pays producers less for their milk than what they can make for it on the black market, reports independent media platform El Toque.

🥛✖️ People on the island have stopped saying "there is no milk" because it’s already a well-known reality. Children under seven and the elderly with special medical dietary needs don’t receive it frequently enough, even though they are the only sectors of the population with the right to acquire it through a government subsidy.

🐄 Cow owners can decide to kill their cows if they first meet the commitments with state contracts for the sale of milk and meat and can guarantee the growth of the herd. Manuel, who has worked in a cooperative for 12 years, believes that the government measure is too little too late.

💰 The government pays producers around $0.71 per liter of milk, depending on its quality, according to the measure approved on Nov. 1, 2021, which aimed to increase production. On the black market, a liter can go for up to $1.46. For producers, it is more lucrative to produce cheese or yogurt and sell it on the black market, at $7.29 per pound. The government blames the difficulties on the pandemic and the toughening of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

I was steering the ship in the middle of the tempest.

— Australia's former Prime Minister Scott Morrison is resisting pressure to resign from parliament after the revelations that he was secretly sworn in to five major ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Morrison's actions have undermined Australia's democratic system. Morrison explained he did not take over the ministries but was only appointed the powers in case of emergency given the exceptional circumstances. Three of the five ministers were not aware that Morrison shared their powers at the time.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou


Let us know what’s happening in your corner of the world!

info@worldcrunch.com

The Many Paradoxes Of Cuba's Eternal Milk Shortages
Economy
Sadiel Mederos Bermudez

The Many Paradoxes Of Cuba's Eternal Milk Shortages

Milk shortages are not new in Cuba, where the state pays producers less for their milk than what they can make by selling it on the black market.

HAVANA — "There is no milk" ceased to be a repeated phrase on the island, because everyone knows it and, probably, by now they have resigned themselves.

Children under seven and the elderly with medical diets don’t receive it with the necessary frequency, even if they are the only sectors of the population with the right to acquire it through a government subsidy.

Because there simply is no milk in Cuba.

The rest of Cubans must buy it in stores in freely convertible currency (MLC). However, powdered or fluid milk hasn't been available in stores in MLC for months. Last time, at the beginning of the year, the price of a bag of 1 to 1.2 kilograms was between 6 and 8 MLC ($6-8).

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Photo of a hand waving a rainbow flag and a Cuba flag at a pro-LGBTQ+ rights demonstration in Havana, Cuba
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdel, McKenna Johnson and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: Greece Intersex Surgery Ban, Cuba Gay Marriage Hope — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

  • Athens banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries
  • Israel giving priority to gay men for Monkeypox vaccines
  • Guatemalan drags making history
  • … and more

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Subscribe here.

🇬🇷 Greece Bans “Sex-Normalizing” Surgeries On Children Under 15

Greece’s parliament approved a law last week banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries on babies born intersex, thus preventing doctors from performing such surgeries on children under the age of 15, “unless there is a court decision stating otherwise.”

According to the UN, intersex people “are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.” “Sex-normalizing” surgeries sometimes lead to sterilization, loss of sexual sensation or other health problems in the past. Malta, Portugal and Germany already banned this procedure.

🇬🇧 Exclusive: The Secret Mission To Evacuate LGBTQ+ Afghans When Talibans Took Over

The BBC revealed exclusive details about a secret mission in Afghanistan to save LGBTQ+ Afghans when the Taliban took over the country. The UK was the first government to offer an evacuation program specifically for LGBTQ+ people, working with charities such as Stonewall and Micro Rainbow in addition to the Canadian organization Rainbow Railroad.

Three of the evacuees included Bella, a teacher who hid that she was transgender all her life; Ali, who lived cautiously to keep officials from finding out he was bisexual; and Ahmed, a former youth worker who is gay (Ali and Ahmed’s names have been changed for security reasons). When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last year, LGBTQ+ Afghans began being hunted practically overnight. Ali said that “even a simple song could have been enough to get you in trouble.”

The charities involved in the mission worked with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to secure spots for LGBTQ+ Afghans on the final flights out of Kabul. Upon arrival in the UK after staying in an undisclosed country to await paperwork, Bella, Ali, Ahmed and the others were housed in quarantine hotels. The charity Micro Rainbow has been helping the group settle with lessons and workshops to help them adapt to the new country.

🇷🇺 Russian Tennis Star Comes Out, Criticizes Her Country’s Treatment Of LGBTQ+ People

Photo of tennis player Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina

Peter Menzel/wikimedia commons


Interviewed by Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko in Barcelona, Daria Kasatkina, the highest-ranked Russian female tennis player, came out as gay, and went on to criticize her country’s stance regarding LGBTQ+ people. Kasatkina, 25, currently ranked No. 12 in the world, also expressed empathy for Ukrainian tennis players in the context of the war, which she called a “full blown nightmare.”

🇨🇺 Cuba Opens Door To Gay Marriage, Will Hold Referendum In September

On September 25, Cuba will hold a binding referendum on the New Family Code, which would replace the law in force for 47 years. As independent news website El Toque explains, the voters' ballot will contain a single question: Do you agree with the Family Code?

To be considered approved, the Code must reach more than 50% of the valid votes in its favor. If the Yes is imposed, it would legalize, among other measures: same-sex marriage, adoption between same-sex couples, as well as outlining regulations for surrogacy and the role of the family in the care of the elderly.

Even so, this new referendum family code has been criticized, as LGBTQ+ activist Sandra Heidl told Deutsche Welle "the Code includes certain progressive content for the first time, and somehow the government didn't want to take responsibility for it. It seems to me a huge mistake, because they are talking about human rights, and human rights cannot be taken to a referendum."

🇺🇸 Record Number Of LGBTQ+ Candidates In U.S. Election

1,008

A record 1,008 LGBTQ candidates are seeking political office in the U.S., according to data from LGBTQ Victory Fund. This, CNN notes, “coincides with a more sobering statistic,” as this year also sees a record 162 anti-LGBTQ state bills being introduced. It also comes just weeks after the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade, sparking fears that same-sex marriage could be the next target.

🇩🇪 Germany To Commemorate LGBTQ+ Victims Of Nazis For First Time

The German parliament will commemorate for the first time those who were persecuted, imprisoned and murdered because of their sexual orientation in the Nazi state. The event will be held Jan. 27 during the annual memorial hour for the victims of National Socialism. For years this has been demanded by many groups, associations and individuals. German parliament members will put those victims “as the focus of the commemoration ceremony”, SPD politician Bärbel Bas told German daily Tagesspiegel.

Henny Engels, member of the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), stated “In order to draw lessons from all of its facets, history must be kept alive comprehensively. Unfortunately, after the end of National Socialism, the exclusion and suffering of sexual and gender minorities in Germany continued.”

The activist highlighted in the press release, that gay and bisexual men continued to be prosecuted in both West and East German states for years. Section 175 of the Criminal Code was finally abolished on June 11, 1994. The so-called "gay paragraph," dated back to the 19th century. According to Deutsche Welle, “this put an end to the legal persecution of male homosexuals in Germany, which had lasted more than a century.”

🇬🇹 Guatemalan Drag Queens Make Theater History

For the first time, drag queens performed at a public theater in Guatemala. Last week, the Lux, one of the main cultural spaces in Guatemala City, used to hosting film shows, concerts, literary festivals and plays, welcomed a drag event for the first time.

As Guatemalan independent media Agencia Ocote reports, the venue is located in the historic center of the Guatemalan capital, opened in 1936. The night’s objective was to reach audiences beyond the young LGBTQ+ community, with the aim of fitting a bigger crowd than in a bar or other spaces where drag events usually take place.

“We are making history,” Gloria, one of the drag queens declared.

🇺🇸 Department Of Education Invites Florida Student To Delivers Banned Grad Speech


A gay high school senior from Florida delivered his banned valedictorian speech last week at the invitation of U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Last May, Zander Moricz was informed by his school principal that his microphone would be silenced if his speech to graduating seniors mentioned LGBTQ+ issues, advocacy or his sexual orientation, according to news site LGBTQ Nation. Moricz resorted to using a metaphor for the banned subjects, but was invited to deliver the original version in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education.

🇬🇭 Hotline Launched To Assist Ghana's LGBTQ Victims 

One Love Sisters Ghana, an association seeking to empower women to embrace diversity in Islam, is launching a gender-based violence hotline. On their Facebook page, they have encouraged lesbian, bi, queer and transwomen to report all forms of violence they may experience. This is a welcome move in a country where the LGBTQ+ community often suffers from abuse.

The 5 hotlines operate 24/7 with correspondents “ready to listen and render the assistance needed.” One Love Sisters Ghana creates safe spaces for conversations about gender-based violence within Muslim communities and is trying to reach people on multiple platforms.

🇦🇺 Seven Rugby Players Boycott Game Over Pride Jersey


Seven members of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles team, playing in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL), decided to boycott a game against the Sydney Roosters this Thursday, important for the qualification to the NRL finals. The reason: they refused to wear a jersey carrying the LGBTQ+ rainbow on “religious and cultural grounds,” as part of the club’s initiative to promote inclusivity and diversity in sports.

During a press conference, Manly’s coach Des Hasler apologized on behalf of the club and said it had made a “significant mistake” for not consulting the players beforehand. The situation is seen as an embarrassment for the club, as the first NRL rugby player to openly come out as gay in 1995, Ian Roberts, was playing for the Eagles.

🇮🇱 Israel To Give Monkeypox Vaccines First To Gay Men At Risk

The first 5,000 Monkeypox vaccines are arriving in Israel this week, where at least 105 cases have been confirmed. Health authorities have declared that they will be offered in priority to gay men at risk, since this category of the population has been particularly affected by the virus, which is transmitted through physical contact.

HIV positive men born after 1980 are particularly at risk, as well as men who take pre-exposure prophylaxis medication to avoid contracting HIV. Men who have tested positive for syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea since the beginning of the year are also included. Health authorities hope to be able to prevent a larger outbreak by taking such preventive actions.

🇻🇳 ​Trans Woman With “Hug Me” Sign In Saigon Street Overwhelmed By Acceptance

Strangers hug trans woman Do Ba Duy on Nguyen Hue Street

Duy


As part of communication contest in a transgender beauty pageant, 22-year-old Vietnamese Do Ba Duy recorded a social experiment on Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon. She stood with a sign reading "I'm transgender person, you want to hug or throw water?” and waited anxiously for people to react. She was hugged by over 100 people in an hour and a half, and no one threw water at her. The video clip has now gone viral on social media.

OTHERWISE

• South African news site MambaOnline focuses on LGBTQ elders and the importance of learning old tricks

• Feminism in India offers a review of Hindi comedy-drama Badhaai Do which highlights “the suffocation of being queer in a homophobic society.”

• Take a look at Japanese photographer Takashi Homma’s portraits of young members of the queer community in Tokyo.

• Comic book writers, podcasters … Head here to read about some great “Advocates for Change Working to Better Queer Lives.”

• Check out this list of 21 cultural varieties of same-sex unions that have been part of traditional African life.