Thursday, October 7, 2021

Debate About Planned November 15th Protests

 U.S. Threatens Sanctions If Cuba Prosecutes Promoters of Civic March

EFEWashington22 Oct. 2021

File photo in which the U.S. government's top adviser for Latin America, Juan González, was registered, who warned that his country will respond, possibly with sanctions, if the "fundamental rights" of the Cuban people are "violated" or the promoters of the opposition civic march called for November 15 are prosecuted. EFE/Raul Martinez

The United States warned Friday that it will respond, possibly with sanctions, if the "fundamental rights" of the Cuban people are "violated" or the promoters of the opposition civic march called for November 15 in Cuba are prosecuted.

This was indicated in an interview with Efe Juan González, the main adviser for Latin America of the US president, Joe Biden, after the Cuban Prosecutor's Office threatened to charge crimes to the conveners of that opposition march in case they carry it out.

"Those individuals who are involved in violating the fundamental and universal rights of the Cuban people, is something to which we have made it very clear that we have every intention of responding," González said by telephone.

Biden's adviser thus responded to the question of whether Washington will sanction Cuban officials in case the organizers of the November march end up prosecuted or imprisoned for keeping that peaceful demonstration standing, an initiative unprecedented in 60 years.

The Cuban government has denied permission to hold that march, which it considers "illegal," and on Thursday the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Havana said that if the conveners maintain their plan, they could incur crimes punishable by economic sanctions and deprivation of liberty from three months to a year.

In a challenge to the government, activists announced last week that they would keep calling for their peaceful march, which aims to call for respect for the rights and release of political prisoners, among other issues.

The United States has sharply criticized the Cuban government's decision to prevent the protest from taking place, and González said Friday that the island's leaders are "afraid to have a national conversation with the Cuban people."

"Threatening peaceful protesters shows that you have lost the will and support of the people," Biden's adviser said.

"The future of Cuba will not be determined from Washington, (but) we are fully committed to supporting, supporting and strengthening the voice of the Cuban people who want change," he said.

González also spoke of the hardest line he has taken towards Cuba Biden, who has sanctioned senior military officials on the island for their alleged role in the repression of the protests of July 11 and has avoided following the path of the thaw that marked former President Barack Obama (2009-2017).

"What we have to recognize is that there was a world before July 11 and another after, where the regime took off its mask in repressive acts against the people," the official said.

Unlike during the so-called "maleconazo" of 1994, what happened in July in the protests in Cuba "is now being seen by the world," and "the people who are sacrificing their lives, their rights" want "to be seen, and to be defended," he added.

"We are committed to that, and we do not see that as a hard line, but it is a commitment in favor of the fundamental rights of Cubans," González said.

The adviser did not want to comment on Biden's position on the U.S. embargo on Cuba, stating that this is "an issue of the United States Congress," which is the one that has the ability to lift it.

If he wanted to, Biden could urge Congress to lift the embargo, as Obama did in his second term, but his administration chose this year to defend it during the annual vote at the UN on a resolution condemning that US measure, by voting against the text.

Spanish original


Against our will we have to pause to report, for the first time in this way, acts of repression and coercion against members of our team. 

As a journalistic medium, we have avoided being the protagonists of stories, we have chosen to tell other people's stories.

But in recent days, the State Security and other repressive apparatuses of the Ministry of the Interior have decided to intimidate and threaten members of our team, with a barrage of police summons.

In less than a week, four elTOQUE workers have been summoned for questioning at National Revolutionary Police stations in Havana; the last three in less than 48 hours. These are four young women, with responsibilities as different as journalist, designer, producer and visual artist of the graphic supplement Xel2 .

The pressures and questions of the agents turn in the same direction: accuse the work we do of mercenarism and try to find ties that unite us to the Archipelago group or to any of the assumptions that inhabit the minds of the anonymous officials.

With all our energy we denounce the harassment to which our colleagues are being subjected We understand this abuse of authority as an act that seeks to punish and instill terror in them and in our entire team, simply by assuming our professional responsibility and exercising our inalienable right to express ourselves, to exist as a means of communication, to inform and to contrast the discourse of the can.

Our work is that of a press outlet that accompanies citizens. For this reason, we will reflect and give space to any political current or citizen group that exercises their rights, without prejudice to the rights of others. Today we are talking about the Archipelago because it is an agenda , as before we have talked about the social outbreak of June 11, November 27, the San Isidro Movement ... We have offered and will offer tools and arguments to all people who can access our content to understand the changing reality in the who live.

We are not the first and we will not be the last to experience the persecution of Cuban police agencies for professional and ideological reasons. In fact, it is not the first time that we have faced attempts at censorship through repression. 

In order not to get carried away by passions, to avoid falling into the polarization to which the institutions of the Cuban political system unfailingly wish to lead us, and out of respect for the will of the affected people to remain silent, we have decided not to denounce previous abuses. We have preferred (and prefer) to respond to them with sustained work.

The escalation that the Cuban authorities seem to have undertaken against our project, as part of their offensive against all political expression of civil society that they do not control, makes it impossible to remain silent. 

With the same determination that we denounce these police summons today, we will denounce in all the spaces within our reach every act of intimidation that the Cuban security forces undertake against members of our team and against civil society.

We hold the Cuban authorities responsible for any physical or emotional damage that our colleagues may suffer. We also hold them responsible for the damages that these interrogations may cause in the family, professional and social environment of these people. We ask organizations, international agencies and the media to continue to denounce the harassment to which hundreds of people are being subjected in Cuba.

We advocate for the peaceful solution of differences between Cubans, we promote understanding and understanding, and we will continue to strive to deliver a product that is as objective and useful as possible to our audiences. We are truthful, not neutral, and our responsibility is to the Homeland, to the Cuban Nation, which are not the fiefdom or exclusive domain of a political organization and its supporters.

Today we affirm it with total conviction: they will not silence us.

Original in Spanish

Photo: Yaimí Ravelo

Following difficult months of pandemic, a disturbing world economic crisis, and an unrelenting, intensified blockade, which have hit our people hard, Cuba is beginning to revive social life, public spaces and services, schools, tourism and other sectors of the economy.

We are currently the country in the Americas with the highest percentage of the population to have received at least one dose of an anti-COVID 19vaccine; the highest daily vaccination rate in the world against the disease; and the only nation that has been able to undertake a massive immunization campaign for children two years of age and up. All this has been possible because of the country's capacity to produce our own vaccines, as a result of the scientific policy designed and promoted by Fidel and the talent of men and women educated by the Revolution.

We are recuperating on the basis of our own strengths, with the unwavering spirit, dignity and capacity for resistance of our people, the serene, firm direction of the country’s leadership, in the spirit of victory and the creativity that we have developed over so many years of hard battles.

Those who have bet on the failure of socialism in Cuba and saw July 11 as the definitive blow to the Revolution, are frustrated and in a hurry to implement their plans. They intend to prevent any possibility of wellbeing, individual and collective development, citizen tranquility and peace in our homeland.

Toward this end, they are promoting a diversity of destabilizing actions in the country, in order to provoke an incident that would lead to the social explosion that would produce the longed-for military intervention, which they are loudly advocating in Miami and even in front of the White House itself.

Neither 62 years of blockade, nor its 243 additional measures, have been able to defeat us, nor will they succeed in doing so - thus the repeated attempts to produce a "soft coup," part of the intense unconventional warfare they wage against us. One blow on top of another.

In the Central Report to the 8th Party Congress, Army General Raul Castro Ruz warned:"The program of subversion and ideological/cultural manipulation has been redoubled, directed toward discrediting the socialist model of development and presenting capitalist restoration as our only alternative.

"The subversive element of U.S. policy toward Cuba is focused on rupturing national unity. In this sense, priority is given to actions focused on youth, women and academics, the artistic and intellectual sector, journalists, athletes, people with diverse sexualities and religions. Matters of interest to specific groups related to animal protection, the environment, artistic and cultural expressions are manipulated, while totally disregarding existing institutions.

"Acts of aggression continue to be financed with the use of radio and television stations based in the United States, while monetary support for the development of platforms for the generation of ideological contents that openly advocate overthrowing the Revolution, call demonstrations in public spaces, incite the execution of sabotage and terrorist acts, including the assassination of agents of public order and representatives of the revolutionary government. Without a trace of shame, the amounts to be paid from the United States to compensate individuals who carry out these criminal acts are publically announced.

"Let us not forget that the U.S. government created the "Internet Task Force for Cuba"
which aspires to use social networks as channels of subversion, establish wireless networks beyond state control and conduct cyberattacks on critical infrastructure...

"Lies, manipulation and the dissemination of fake news no longer know any limits. Through them, a virtual image of Cuba as a dying society with no future, on the verge of collapse and leading to the longed-for social explosion, is crafted and spread to the four winds."

Sectors of the traditional counterrevolution and new characters, educated in the leadership courses financed by U.S. foundations and the federal budget, have articulated their efforts toward these ends. They lack a social base within the country, but are well instructed, financed and supported from abroad.

The empire supplies money and raises the expectations of the annexationists they train, who under the false banner of pacifism seek to provoke more disturbances, generate chaos and destabilize the country.
Over the last few weeks, the intention was announced to hold an allegedly peaceful march in November, conceived to take place simultaneously in several of the country’s cities. The declared purposes and organizational scheme reveal a provocation articulated as part of the "regime change" strategy for Cuba, previously tested in other countries.

Dates with a certain symbolism were chosen, but this time it seems they also wanted to exhibit their stature as annexationists. Did they want to celebrate President Biden's birthday with an attack on the Revolution that has so annoyed imperial administrations for 62 years? They were left empty-handed. One of their promoters was trained in courses sponsored by the right-wing Argentine foundation CADAL, U.S. universities and think tanks like the Carnegie Fund for International Peace, led until recently by current CIA director William J. Burns. Among the topics addressed in his indoctrination were the training of leaders, confrontations with government structures, the dynamics of mobilization, and the role of the Armed Forces in the "democratic transition".

Last July 11, this person was the organizer of an attempted takeover of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT), following Step no. 167 outlined in the Nonviolent Action Workshop which proposes: Nonviolent "attacks, “takeovers which begin with a march and (lead to) the peaceful occupation of a site or building.

More recently, he has joined a subversive project in academic garb, assuming a seat on its Deliberative Council along with the terrorist Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, who is accompanied by counterrevolutionary leaders of the so-called Council for a Democratic Transition in Cuba, a platform that is articulates efforts to organize an anti-constitutional coup in the country, who have openly acknowledged receiving funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a front for the U.S. government.

As soon as it was announced by its organizers, the march received strident public support from U.S. legislators, political operators of the anti-Cuban mafia and media that encourage actions against the Revolution. Tweets, declarations, Resistance Assemblies and other frenetic actions fill Miami these days, as if the demonstration were set to take place in that city. Regime change, overthrowing the government and military intervention are once again the prevailing narrative in South Florida.

Among the most fervent supporters of the provocation are Congress members Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart and Maria Elvira Salazar; refashioned terrorist Gutierrez Boronat, who has declared his support for the action "to overthrow the regime;" the Cuban American National Foundation; and the mercenary Brigade 2506, whose current president declared in Miami, "With these steps, an explosion will be fomented inside Cuba, so that once again our brothers will take to the streets and this will lead us to the collapse of the regime..."

As denounced by the U.S. media outlet MintPressNews, many of the operators of the campaign on digital social networks in support of the demonstration live in Florida or other U.S. states. "The participation of foreign citizens in Cuba's internal affairs has reached a level which would be inconceivable within the United States," the publication states. The direct involvement of the U.S. government in this counterrevolutionary farce is also explicit and provocative. No care has been taken to conceal this and no one can do so honestly. High ranking government officials are directly involved in the demonstration’s promotion and, with the support of special services, in its organization.

An important instrument, though not the only one, is the U.S. embassy in Cuba, which has issued public statements often including open interference in the nation's internal affairs.

This office, a product of the bilateral agreements signed in 2015 to formalize diplomatic relations between the two countries, has not played any diplomatic role for years. It does not even provide the immigration and consular services upon which citizens of both countries depend and demand. Its officials, including the chargé d'affaires, are obliged to play the undignified role of babysitters of counterrevolutionary proponents and provocateurs in our country, with the thankless task of keeping them in line, providing them with logistical and material support, as well as advice and guidance. All of this is well-known and documented. The embassy's own activity on digital networks provides evidence of what is occurring and what the counterrevolution is doing.
This conduct is in total contravention of international law and in particular of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

With such sponsors and stated purposes, it is very difficult to make claims about civility and pacifism with respect to the action called for November. Much less of legitimate, sovereign intentions.
What is at stake here, and no one should have any doubt, is Cuba's right to defend itself from foreign aggression, regardless of the disguise it assumes.

The organizers attempt to cloak themselves in the Constitution to legitimize the provocation. They use constitutional precepts to defend anti-constitutional strategies. They invoke the right to demonstrate expressed in the Magna Carta, but they perversely forget that the Constitution itself, in Article 45, states that the rights of the people are limited by, among other aspects, respect for this supreme legal norm: "The exercise of the rights of the people is limited only by the rights of others, collective security, the general welfare, respect for the public order, the Constitution and laws."

This Magna Carta, approved in a referendum just three years ago by 86.85 % of the voters, clearly defines in its Article 4: "The socialist system is recognized by this Constitution as irrevocable."

Article 229 also states, "In no case shall stipulations on the irrevocability of the socialist system, established in Article 4, be subject to reform, nor the prohibition of negotiations under the circumstances foreseen in appendix (a) of Article 16."

It is clear that neither now, nor in the future, can the right to demonstrate be used to subvert the political system, to overthrow Cuba’s socialist project or to establish alliances with groups and organizations that receive foreign financing with the objective of promoting the interests of the government of the United States or other foreign powers.

The right does not exist in our country to take action in favor of a foreign power’s interests or to put the stability of the public order at risk. It is unconstitutional, illegitimate, and immoral to subscribe to an annexationist project. Our laws say so and our history says so.

This is how our national hero José Marti warned us: "In our land there is another plan more sinister than that we have known to date, and this is a heinous plan to force the island to precipitously launch a war, to create a pretext for intervention and, assuming credit as the mediator and guarantor, appropriate it ... Why die, to lend support to these people who push us toward death for their own benefit? Our lives are worth more, and it is necessary that the island understand this in time. And there are Cubans, who, with simulated avowals of patriotism, serve these interests!"

Enough of lies and crude manipulation of the facts. No one is going to be crushed by tanks in the streets, as the spokespeople of this next provocation have widely claimed. The Moncada exercise is part of the training we regularly provide in preparation for our defense. In the face of such provocations, it is only right that we conduct this most legitimate act in defense of the people and their conquests.

Dignity, resistance and unity are our most powerful strengths in confronting this dishonorable, devious annexationist action that serves the historical enemy of the Cuban nation in its plans to split and divide us, in order to defeat us. Something they have not, and will not be able to do. Truth is our shield.

Yunior Garcia's Personal Agenda is Regime Change

In the year 2022, the country of our birth will mark 70 years without democracy. My parents have never been able to freely choose their ideology, their party, or their president. They have had to resign themselves to the decisions of others and have had to ratify those decisions to avoid trouble. In Cuba, unfortunately, to keep quiet about what we really think is seen by many as a sign of intelligence. They always ask us to wait for the right “time” and “place” ­ which never really come. ....

It is true that there were some achievements and wins ­ it’s not all gloom and doom. But what good are benefits if they will be used to blackmail me later? What is the value of my education if I am later forbidden to think with my own mind? Many slaves also learned to read. And they did not pay with money for their little corner of the barracks or their lunch, they paid with obedience and the sweat of their backs. If any of them happened to demand a change of regime, the whip, the stocks and the shackle would certainly await them. ...

What they call “alliances” is nothing more than honest dialogue involving all Cubans, without discriminating against anyone. No regime will ever again tell us which Cuban we can or cannot talk with. We are not going to reproduce their scheme of prejudice, stigma and demonization. ...

On November 15 we will march without hatred. We are assuming a right that has never been respected in 62 years of dictatorship, but we are going to assume it with civility. Everyone will be looking towards Cuba that day. We know that the power structure plays dirty, that it gives combat orders against its own people, that it lies to our faces, that it would even be capable of infiltrating its paramilitaries into the march to generate violence and later blame it on us. Each citizen must be responsible for their conduct and defend the peaceful and firm attitude that we have called for.

November 15 can and should be a beautiful day. Wherever a Cuban lives, we know that his heart will be in Cuba. May the powerful not insist on behaving in a cowardly fashion against their own citizens. Do not repeat the crime of July 11. May officers and soldiers understand that there is no honor in obeying immoral orders. I also hope that no foreign power interferes in an issue that we ourselves must resolve with true sovereignty, that of citizens.

Denial of permit to demonstrate

November 20 and the right to demonstrate in Cuba

Derecho de manifestación

Recognition of the right of Cubans to demonstrate has been a hot topic for decades. Throughout 62 years of Revolutionary Government, the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as the rights of association and demonstration,have been restricted by a restrictive interpretation and by the selective application of the law.

In the 1976 constitutional text,these rights were expressly limited to the "aims of socialist society". This phrase of immense ambiguity allowed any authority to exercise prior censorship according to its criteria, that is, arbitrarily. For practical purposes, any opinion capable of being interpreted as contrary to the ideology and doctrine of the PCC could be repressed and persecuted.

The 2019 Constitution,on the other hand, introduces a much more flexible recognition framework. However, this has not meant a change in policy in this regard by the government, which continues to treat as a crime the exercise of the right to demonstrate and free expression that implies a denunciation or criticism of the system.

Following the letters signed by several people and delivered to the administrations of different cities, in which the intention to hold a peaceful demonstration scheduled for November 20 is notified, a question has been placed at the center of the national debate: Can citizens be denied the exercise of constitutional rights?

In its article 61, the Constitution of 2019 recognizes the right of people to address petitions to the authorities, "those who are obliged to process them and give timely, pertinent and substantiated responses within the deadline and according to the procedure established by law." So, can complaints and petitions be submitted to the administration? Yes. Is it legal to sign them? Yes. Therefore, the letters of request for the realization of the peaceful march are within Cuban law.

Right to demonstrate (2)

Cartel publicado en el grupo Archipiélago para convocar a la marcha ciudadana del 20 de noviembre (Foto: Facebook)

So what about the possibility of manifesting ourselves? Article 56 of the Constitution recognizes the rights of assembly, demonstration and association for lawful and peaceful purposes. In practice, however, instead of such recognition, it is punished in flagrant violation of the provisions of the Constitution. Do we have the right to demonstrate peacefully? The answer is: absolutely, yes.

What would happen if the administration denies the request for the November 20 demonstration? Does this invalidate our right to do so? No. Even if the authorities do not grant permits to take the appropriate administrative measures, such as closing avenues and facilitating the march, we still have the right to demonstrate.

So much so, that article 292 of the Criminal Code establishes the offence against the rights of assembly, demonstration, association, complaint and petition. Under the same, they are punishable by deprivation of liberty from three months to one year or a fine of one hundred to three hundred quotas or both, to anyone who prevents the celebration of a lawful demonstration or the attendance at it; it also punishes anyone who refuses or hinders a person from addressing complaints or petitions to the authority. If the offender is a public official, the penalty ranges from six months to two years or a fine of two hundred to five hundred installments.

That is, it is not only illegal to obstruct the exercise of these rights, but it can also constitute a crime. The Constitution is the law of laws; you cannot prohibit what you allow. It should also be noted that rights imply duties in return. In this case, the demonstration implies the duty of both citizens and the authorities to respect it.

The natural limits to the exercise of rights will always be direct harm to other individuals or groups. This is the meaning that should be used for terms such as "public order", which are usually used to try to justify repression.

Being aware of this is the best way to empower ourselves as citizens and as a nation. Permission is not requested to have rights, nor are they granted or approved, they are exercised.


Degree in Law and In Sciences of Religion. Lawyer, researcher, journalist and essayist.


Cuba absolutely and categorically condemns all manifestations of terrorism


New York, October 5, 2021." Cuba's energetic action and condemnation of terrorism is absolute and categorical against all terrorist acts, methods and practices in all their forms and manifestations by whomever it wants, against whomever it wants, and wherever they are perpetrated, whatever their motivations, including those in which governments are directly or indirectly involved"; Ambassador Pedro L. Pedroso Cuesta, Cuba's permanent representative to the United Nations, said strongly on Tuesday.


In his statement, which took place during the debate on Item 111 of the Un Sixth Committee, entitled "Measures to eliminate international terrorism", the Cuban representative pointed out that terrorism cannot and should not be linked to any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Their confrontation must be holistic, through direct actions also aimed at prevention to eradicate their root causes, he added.


Likewise, he strongly rejected the manipulation of an issue as sensitive as international terrorism to turn it into an instrument of policy against any country. He explained that the harmful practice of certain States of financing, supporting or promoting subversive acts of "regime change", as well as messages of intolerance and hatred against other peoples, cultures or political systems, through the use of modern information and communication technologies, is in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law; this is the case, for example, of the political-communication campaign of the United States against Cuba.


Pedroso Cuesta also condemned the unilateral acts of certain States that abrogate the right to certify conduct and make politically motivated lists, also contrary to international law, since these acts undermine the central authority of the General Assembly in the fight against terrorism.


The international community cannot accept that, under the banner of an alleged fight against terrorism, certain States carry out acts of aggression, directly or indirectly against sovereign peoples, and flagrant violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law are committed, he said.


(Cubaminrex-Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations)


Upping the Ante

Alexander Perez Rodriguez is a Seventh Day Adventist minister in Florida who sparked the protest in San Antonio de los Banos.  He is projecting a more militant version of November 20th:  “hit the streets until they [the government] fall,” “all of Cuba is preparing for this!”.   I saw it in an article republished by Progresso Weekly by the US conspiracy oriented Mint Press News

On the government side, Marc Frank suggests the timing of annual military exercises is not coincidental  Is it designed to take people away from protesting, to send a signal of the power of the government or for potential direct confrontation?


Seeking a Rational Path

an excerpt from interviews with Rafael Hernandez and Carlos Alzugaray that bear on the planned November 15th protests.

Rafael is the creator and editor of Temas, the social sciences magazine that pushes the envelope on discussion of many issues.  He has been a visiting professor at both Harvard and Columbia and a leader in the Latin American Studies Association's Cuba section.

Carlos is former ambassador to the European Union and a widely published author on US-Cuba relations.

(Alzugaray)  Second, it is urgent that legislation be passed on peaceful protest. In a press conference before foreign correspondents, the president of the Supreme Court, Rubén Remigio Ferro, affirmed that in Cuba it was not a crime to hold a different political opinion and express it in public. He added: "We are not troglodytes." It is an important clarification. As it is also important to insist on compliance with the rules of due process and a Socialist State of Law.
In the criteria of the Doctor of Historical Sciences, everything established in the laws that prevent arbitrary detentions and other common practices must be applied; legislating on how citizens can protest peacefully; render a report of what happened with total transparency; amnesty or pardon, as appropriate, those who demonstrated without violence; establish a kind of truce and promote spaces for dialogue.

Rafael Hernández, for his part, prefers not to mix the analysis of the political system and the legal order.
“If law and politics had a coincident identity, it would be enough for the Communist Party of Cuba to define itself as the Party of the Nation (art. 5) for it to be in a position to exercise that role of representation, politically speaking. It would be enough for a Press Law to recognize non-state media, as the Constitution leaves open (art. 55), for anti-government digital media to engage in a balanced informative role, instead of a very belligerent one, such as the one they exercise.
“The fact that the Law is nowhere the mirror of politics does not mean that the norms agreed upon in the recently approved Cuban Constitution are meaningless. On the contrary, that Constitution, even with its limitations, represents a new legal framework for doing politics. Let's say, for example, the recognition of the right to public demonstration, assembly and association (art. 56) . That the State turns towards there does not happen automatically, it requires a process that makes it effective, through a practice that adjusts it, not just in a written norm that stipulates it, and that may have more than one application.
The original Spanish is here


Look in right margin for other resources posted recently and in previous months.

My own evolving analysis of July 11th and afterwards is here

My comments to US government officials are here

--John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Campaign for Tour Guide Privatization


Tourist guides, updating a claim

Guía de turismo

Recently, a small group of tour guides was summoned for a meeting with representatives of MINTUR and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) at the headquarters of the governing body of labor in the country. The objective of those summoned was to demand that the prohibition of carrying out the activity of tourist guide on their own be eliminated.

The meeting was cordial and friendly; full collaboration and understanding on the part of those involved in the tourism sector, which included advisors and deputy ministers. In almost every aspect there was total empathy, but right at the end of the meeting the question of the clash was asked: self-employment will henceforth be governed by projects. So what will be yours?

Faced with such a questioning, any professional in that field would answer that their project would include guiding in any of the meanings of the term, whether for an agency or not; whether to show landscapes, history or the culture of a certain product. Promote yourself, make yourself known, create a prestige, that's the claim: you need an authorization to perform that function. What would be the project of an interpreter other than interpreting? What would be the project of a chapista, other than chapistear?

In the opinion of this commentator, who was part of the aforementioned group, the exact question should have asked what would be the scope of the guide's activity (small car, four clients at most, zero room blocking, zero promotion of optional and things like that). However, the doubt arises because, under current conditions, these ventures cannot be approved since all their related activities are prohibited for self-employment. And so the counter-question arises: is it not better to exclude the activity from the list of prohibitions than to speculate how to do without doing?

There are thousands of occasions when we are assured that self-employment is here to stay on the national stage. So, it is not idle to reflect on why TCPs, MSMEs and Cooperatives are born slowed down from their genesis.

Tour guide (2)

As the sector is fragile, as has been demonstrated, how many would be willing to risk such a fluctuation and lose the benefits of a safe position? (Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP)

Presumably, in the case of tourism, there is a great fear that professionals from one of the highest income sectors of the country will leave. It is logical, but it does not show good knowledge of the guild. Many guides will always prefer the convenience of an agency that calls them regularly without having to suffer the instability of a venture and pay high taxes for their work.

As the sector is fragile, as has been demonstrated, how many would be willing to risk such a fluctuation and lose the benefits of a safe position? Considering that their independent role could be combined with work for an agency, that suspicion does not seem very objective.

Wouldn't it be wiser to negotiate limits before banning something that is going to happen on a large scale anyway? Didn't we once sell dollars, trips and hundreds of other things that, faced with the impossibility of controlling, we then had to allow and legislate?

A recent example is the repeal of Resolution 213 of August 16, 2021 of the Central Bank of Cuba, which stipulated that loans to small and medium-sized enterprises would be granted in Cuban pesos. Less than a month later, it is established, through Resolution 249 – of September 2021 – that financing can also be in foreign currency. A month later! Why delay what is inevitably going to happen?

Isn't it easier to make a calculation of what a guide in an agency represents monetarily and what it would mean if that same guide (and others) contributed a monthly amount in taxes resulting from their private activity? And what about the clients who will win and who will never be captured by the big agencies.

If it is assured that the idea is to add, the most coherent thing should be to eliminate the activity of tourist guide among the prohibited, and thus begin the summation through their ventures. Why mask the activity after a project and not issue a certification that allows you to perform in compliance with the relevant controls and certifications? The most consistent with the current times would be to reach an agreement of quantities, rules, certifications and obligations, as has already happened with the direct partner of that guide: the taxi driver.

Tour guide (3)

The most consistent with the current times would be to reach an agreement of quantities, rules, certifications and obligations, as has already happened with the direct partner of that guide: the taxi driver. (Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP)

The answer continues to revolve around fear, as if prohibitions solve the problem of the lack, quality or private practice of that activity. If we know that it is going to happen anyway, why not take advantage of it and legislate in favor of the institutions and the State?

In the golden age of tourism, when we were trying to reach five million visitors, many ways of playing the role of guides emerged; say the driver of a taxi, an old car, a buggy, a pedicab, not including other "unscrupulous" – quote from the Minister of Labor – who ended up locating Calixto García on the heights of G Street, observing the city from its peak, and José Miguel Gómez modestly facing the sea. Meanwhile, the real guide, the one trained in respect for heritage and love for history, never achieved his claim.

It is practical in much of the world that the tourist guide receives a state or national certification and is agency with an operator, given the economic benefits that this offers, but it is still relatively independent; that is, even in the face of the apparent freedom they hold, the guides remain allied at the behest of large operations.

In our case, if a tour guide can enter a certain amount into the budget six months of the year, it would be necessary to calculate if the average taxes, between 15 and 30%, are not reasonable amounts, especially when that guide may also operate for an agency; or maybe not, but have enough vision to manage direct investment in a territory through a local development project, via tourism and its corresponding promotion.

It cannot be preferable to persecute any "unscrupulous" person who stalks the tourist, than to stipulate the mechanisms that lead to proper certification. Coachmen, taxi drivers, bicycle riders and drivers of old cars, are no more tourist guides than those who unsuccessfully request the release of the activity.

In a short time, tourism will prosper again and again an immense police force will be required to identify who sells, who promotes, who rules, who moves; when, by a simple formal stroke, all that apprehension could be turned into hard currency for the country.

Decree-Law 44 of 2021 on the exercise of Self-Employment has been cited as containing the impediment to perform the functions of a guide, but in that same decree it is already exempt from the prohibitions to accommodation and the carrier. So, there is no need to postpone the next step. In my opinion, the imbrication of actors continues to be the determining factor. However, the actors that appear must be born with full capacities to contribute, a key term to get us out of the economic crisis.

Why break your head in the making of a project that convinces someone that it does not violate prohibitions and thus get an approval? Is it not known what needs to be eliminated to bring to fruition the drama that for months hundreds of people and groups have made visible in the networks through publications and pages?

The real solution will be to interwoven, decriminalize the function and sit down to negotiate on scopes. Then the projects will come. In this way, all our visitors will be able to know that those who observe the city from the height of Avenida G are far from carrying a name as illustrious as that of the one who decided to shoot himself before falling prisoner of Spanish power.

See Facebook page of  Tourist Guides for Legalization as Self Employed Workers (TCP)