Reseller, That Dirty Word / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

14YMEDIO, Havana, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, 21 August 2014 – “I have mattresses, games room, air conditioning …” an individual stationed at the entrance to a popular store says softly. A few yards further on, another vendor has filters for drinking water, and so it continues, on both sides of the commercial center, an illicit network that caters to more than a few dissatisfied customers with poor State offerings.

If you look in the stores without success, you shouldn’t worry, because outside it’s possible to find everything you need from the “resellers” for a few pesos more. Those traders who swarm streets like Carlos III, Monte, or 10 de octubre, operating with nothing more than the law of supply and demand. The solution that occurs to the government, far from focusing on filling up the half-empty shelves, has been to eradicate what they describe as “social indiscipline.”

What they haven’t considered, however, is granting licenses to the traders. In fact, the word “trader” is banished from the official jargon. Those who exercise one of the oldest crafts known to humanity are called “resellers” and that, in the eyes of the authorities, is not a good thing. The government accuses them of hoarding and speculation.

So far this year there have been almost 17,000 fines and hundreds of seizures. However, the punitive measures taken so far are not enough. “We don’t have an inspector on every corner. We need help from the public,” declare some State inspectors on the TV news. The phenomenon has gotten out of control. This not only contributes to the lack of productivity and bad distribution on the part of the State monopoly, but the problem also includes more than a few corrupt officials.

Chimeras and Frustrations / 14ymedio, Luzbely Escobar

Longing for the beach (14ymedio)
Longing for the beach (14ymedio)

14YMEDIO, Havana, Luzbely Escobar, 21 August 2014 – It is a little more than a week before the start of school and the youngest at home are already taking stock of what they’ve done on their vacation. They go to sleep thinking about what they’ll tell their friends in September and in their little heads they remember each outing with their families. Although parents have few options to entertain their children in the summer, they always make an effort.

The options range from five pesos to buy an ice cream cone at the corner snack bar, to the complicated and greatly desired trip to the beach. I’ve made many promises to my little ones to take them for a dip, but I still haven’t been able to keep my promise. A trip to Santa Maria or Guanabo is like the children’s Road to El Dorado during the summer season.

A trip to the beach is a chimera. The main difficultly rests in the long lines for the bus, with its riots of boys who push in front of everyone because they don’t like to wait that long. Coming home, as if it weren’t hard enough to catch the route 400, we add the drunkenness and fights that break out in front of the innocent eyes of the children. Not to mention the abundant stream of bad words and atrocities shouted with a natural mastery from one end of the bus to the other. continue reading

As an alternative to the beach, the other day we inflated a plastic pool in the basement and poured in a few buckets of water. They had a good time, after the frustration of the breakdown of the transport that would take us to Marazul—coming and going guaranteed—but in the end it left us with swimsuits packed and snacks prepared.

To go to the beach there are other variants such as the almendrones—classic American cars—that cost one convertible peso* (CUC) each but don’t guarantee the return. At one time we could take advantage of the buses that run on the tourist routes, at least for a visit, because they cost 3 CUC each coming and going and the children didn’t have to pay. However, now they’ve gone up to 5 CUC, which is too expensive for ordinary mortals.

Other options, which we have done, are going to the movies, the theater, the usual family visits and games in the park below. But that quickly bores them and they want more. They are tireless in their requests for the Aquarium, the beach, the pool, the zoo, and the Maestranza Fun Park in Old Havana. We decided we weren’t going to the last one any more. It’s too much suffering under the sun and closes at the best time, when it starts to get dark.

If we went to the Zoo twice it’s because it’s close, although it already has a super-well-known terrible reputation. We can go to the Aquarium at night, but sadly, that’s when transport in that area of Havana is more complicated than in the daytime, and so we haven’t had an opportunity to go. In short, if we add up the possible choices, there are few real possibilities of entertaining children.

There are still about ten days of vacation but I don’t think we’ll do much more. Now we’re focused on uniforms, backpacks, shoes, snacks, notebooks, pencils and everything that makes up the school package. Luckily they’ve already forgotten the chimerical holiday and have replaced it with school. We still have the task of making sure there’s no lack of teacher for the classroom, as happened in the last semester of the previous school year. That would be too much frustration.

*Translator’s note: The average monthly wage in Cuba is around 20 CUC. One CUC is about 24 Cuban pesos (about one dollar US).

Portugal Has Spent $ 12 Million Euros Since 2009 to Recruit Cuban Doctors / 14ymedio

14YMEDIO, Havana, 19 August 2014 – The Portuguese National Health Service spent about 12 million euros (about $16 million dollars) in the last six years to recruit Cuban doctors, the local newspaper Jornal I reported Tuesday.

In June 2009, the Government of the Socialist José Sócrates signed its first agreement with Cuba to address the shortage of family doctors. The first protocols provided for payment of a monthly payment of 5,900 euros for every Cuban professional, a base salary above the pay of the Portuguese healthcare provides, although the figure was reduced to 4,230 euros at the end of 2011.

Between August 2009 and 2011, Portugal disbursed 259,600 euros a month for a team of 44 Cuban doctors. Spending in 2012 and 2013 was 164,970 per month for 39 professionals. Following the changes in the latest revision of the agreement last April, the monthly cost is currently 219,960 euros, according to information published by Jornal I.

Payments are made every three months to the Cuban Medical Services Company, which is responsible for paying for healthcare workers, although each of them receives less than a quarter of the total disbursed by Portugal for their services. Cuban authorities justify these deductions to finance training and for the National Public Health Service.

In addition, Portugal has assumed the cost of travel between the two countries, including during the holidays, so that doctors can travel once a year to their country of origin.

The workers on this mission are subject to Cuba’s code of ethics and disciplinary rules. They cannot participate in political activities or make statements to the press, and must inform the authorities if they want to marry. The agreement also provides that in case of abandonment of the mission or violation of the contract, the doctors cannot return to Cuba for a period of eight years.

 

Do You Recognize the Face of This Rafter? / 14ymedio

Some photos from the collection of Willy Castellanos (Exodus Project website)
Some photos from the collection of Willy Castellanos (Exodus Project website)

The photographer Willy Castellanos fought so that the faces of the more than 30,000 rafters who fled Cuba in the summer of 1994 would not be forgotten. The Exodus Project, by the Aluna Art Foundation, in which the Polish documentary film maker Marian Marskinsky is also involved, attempts to once again give names to the protagonists of the exodus of that era.

Castellanos documented the departure from the island of dozens of people in precarious vessels from the beaches of 30th and 24th in Miramar, and from the Cojimar esplanade, east of Havana, during the so-called Rafter Crisis.

The photographer launches a call for all those who recognize the faces immortalized in the photos to provide information to help reconstruct their individual stories.

“Today, 20 years later, I want to once again find these people. I want to document the progress of their lives from the precise moment that my old Nikon captured them on the Cuban coast exchanging spells with fate and the sea, to aspire to a different life. If you recognize yourself, or recognize someone you know in these images and, like me, value the importance of remembering and are moved to tell about it, call or email me,” Castellanos said on the website of the project.

The curator Adriana Herrera of Aluna Art Foundation and Castellanos himself are preparing an exhibition at the Spanish Cultural Center of Miami, which will open in September. The exhibition will also feature videos and installations by Cuban artists such as Coco Fusco and Juan-Si Gonzalez.

Juanita Castro: Memory is Never Harmless / 14ymedio, Francis Sanchez

Juanita Castro Ruz in front of the cover of her book (14ymedio)
Juanita Castro Ruz in front of the cover of her book

14YMEDIO, Francis Sanchez, Ciego de Avila, 18 August 2014 – The anecdotes, the identities and the composition of the family of the Cuban Revolution’s Maximum Leaders, after become a taboo subject due to steps taken by themselves, has become the subject of public interest and a source of constant speculation. A delicate area, the private and mythical environment of the Castro Ruz brothers acquires historical content from rumors, with unnamed girlfriends, faceless wives, children and many family members rarely seen together even in photos.

And in this “complete photo of the first family,” that was never taken and probably never will be, is the disturbing “presence” of an odd woman who carries the same last names with pride, defending the family lineage, but at the same time rejecting the stamps these names have placed on Cuban history. A strong, secluded, argumentative woman who appears, because of this, doubly cursed.

Her request for political asylum in Mexico City on 29 June 1964 was a bombshell. She started the day with a press conference that had a huge impact: “The person addressing you is Juanita Castro Ruz, sister of the Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro.” continue reading

Nearly half a century later, Juanita again comes to the fore with the publication of the book “Fidel and Raul, My Brothers” (Aguilar 2009), with the subtitle “The Secret History, Memoirs of Juanita Castro as told to Maria Antonieta Collins.” The testimony was ready back in 1999, after months of confidential interviews, but ten years passed before the protagonist would agree to the printing.

Recalling her departure from Cuba, she casts aside the possible label of traitor, stating that from the beginning she had felt flagrantly deceived, because from the days of the Moncada attack and the Sierra Maestra front, when Cubans died confronting the Batista dictatorship in order to recover the 1940 Constitution, her brother Fidel always said that he was not a Communist.

Among the new confessions, this time perhaps the most incredible, is that she came to belong the CIA—although she clarifies that she never accepted money—in those difficult days in which, in Havana, she took advantage of the paralyzing influence of her last names, to come to the aid of many whom she sometimes didn’t even know, saving them from a summary trial or getting them out of the country. Her house came to be, according to these memoirs, a refuge and an always full transit center.

Anguish and contradictions abound in a woman who conscientiously confronted a beloved part of her own biological being

But the basic need that has led her to gather together her memoirs, she says, it to tell the truth about her family’s past, her brothers’ childhood, the history of the grandparents, and especially her mother, Lina Ruz, and her father, Angel Castro, on seeing how they have been slandered by historians who in attacking Fidel seek explanations in a supposed dark and cruel family origin, in Biran, a farm ruled over by a supposedly unscrupulous father, one who prospered based on criminal acts.

“I’m sorry to disappoint the pocket historians and the instant psychologists,” she says. Of her father, she opines, “Angel Castro Argiz was a man who cared for others. No one who came to him asking for a favor, asking for help, was refused.” And she is nostalgic for the atmosphere of the little place in the former Oriente province, now converted into a museum: “Biran—where we were like a big family because we all knew each other.”

Anguish and contradictions abound in a woman who conscientiously confronted a beloved part of her own biological being, her family and her country. Someone who has not lost, for example, her affection for her youngest brother, Raul. “Musito” to his mother. She favors him, and presents him to us in very human situations, as at the death of their mother, Lina Ruz, crying and inconsolably talking to the beloved body. An image that contrasts with the description of another brother in power.

Her memories leave a sense of transparency. However, this doesn’t mean that the reader should accept everything she describes. Memory is never inoffensive. Even at times when it is just interpretations. And Juanita’s has been a very particular and unique angle on Cuban history, with advantages and disadvantages, precisely for being so close. The most natural—to give one example—is that the memories of the taskmaster Angel’s daughter are more emotional and sweet than a subordinate of his could have, without lying.

She broke with the CIA when they asked her to give a powerful new statement to the press

She broke with the CIA—this is another hot testimony—when they asked her to give a powerful new statement to the press, similar to her request for asylum, but this time with a very different objective: to dispel the fears about the advance of communism. The United States, then, to avoid the danger of a nuclear confrontation, had reached an agreement with the Soviets which demanded the US end its support for anti-communist groups in Miami.

Perhaps Juanita appears more like typical Cuban of whatever shore, and of the island of Cuba itself, when she is shown as vulnerable, unjustly attacked, manipulated and, ultimately, in the midst of the waves and the storms, alone: “In this fight we are all pawns in a game of chess,” she affirms.

She has a very Cuban gesture of feeling herself the most miserable in the world. And on this point, it is appropriate to concede to her the sad merit of being a symbol of the pain and intolerance that divides Cuban families. “No doubt I have suffered more than the rest of the exile because on no side of the Florida Straits am I offered a truce, and few understand the paradox of my life.”

Expressed by her, it is no less pathetic and we see the opinion that “hatred has always prevailed over our reason.”

Luckily, toward the end of the book she invokes the future, allowing the opportunity for love, not prophetically, but with an intimate appeal to the smallest of the seven siblings, her “Musito,” once he has replaced Fidel in power: “Raul, in your hands could be the democratic transition for Cuba… To evolve with dignity could be your great opportunity in history…”

The book of memoirs is written in a pleasant colloquial style, like a good novel of 51 chapters, narrated in the first person. We “hear” the voice of a woman who has lived and stands before everything and everyone with clear and direct style.

The Business of Standing in Line / 14ymedio

The line can form the night before (14ymedio)
The line can form the night before (14ymedio)

14YMEDIO, 18 August 2014 – From Thursday night at 10:00 PM Anabel stood in the line at International Legal Counsel on 22nd Street in Playa. She’d already tried at dawn that morning, when she thought if she got there at 5:00 AM she would have a good chance. But she was wrong, they only took 40 cases and she was about 80th in line.

Anabel came to get a legal criminal record document because she’s trying to get a visa for Argentina and this is a part of the required paperwork every Cuban citizen who is not traveling on official business must have.

This time, on arriving at the corner in the dark, she found only professional line-standers. A group of 4 or 5 individuals who work selling, for 10 convertible pesos (about two weeks wages in Cuba), the first 15 places in the line. Each one “stands in” for three people and has enormous psychological experience in determining to whom to offer their services.

The normal clients didn’t begin arrive until two in the morning. Some, like Anabel, had been frustrated on previous occasions. continue reading

People come to the International Legal Counsel for multiple purposes. To get legal papers for use abroad, documenting their university degrees or certifications, their marriages and divorces, and especially, Cubans living abroad who need to update their passports. Here is where you used to get permission to leave the country in exchange for a letter of invitation, but this requirement disappeared with the immigration and travel reform law enacted in January 2013.

At 7:30 in the morning, about an hour before the offices officially open, the public starts to swell the line. It’s a crucial moment when, already daylight, people physically place themselves one after another. Those who arrived at 2:00 AM who thought they would be behind just five or six people, discover that in reality they are 18th in line. They now realize, that the gentleman who arrived in a Peugeot at 6:00 am and never asked “who’s last in line?” occupies one of the first spots. The first protests are heard, but they’re weak because they are confronting a practice accepted for decades.

That gentleman who arrived in a Peugeot at 6 in the morning and never asked “who’s last in line?” occupies one of the first spots.

At 8:30, giving it all the importance she believes it deserves, a clerk comes out to explain that today there are only two specialists in the center and they will only be calling 40 people. At that moment the line seems to have received an electric shock and stiffens like a living organism.

The official, who has entrenched herself firmly in the door to collect the identity cards of those who manage to pass, stares into Anabel’s eyes before spitting out in an unpleasant tone: “Up to here are the places for criminal records.” And only then does Anabel realize that the employee has more ID cards in her hands than there are people in the line. She has the urge to protest, because she’s the only one who has noticed, but chooses to keep quiet because in the end she will be seen.

The group goes to an office on the second floor, in a hot space where it’s not possible to control the passage to the cubicles where the specialists work. She has 65 convertible pesos in her purse, and stamps worth 25 Cuban pesos, which is what the paperwork costs.

Those who have come to legalize degrees have to pay 200 convertible pesos, while certifications cost 250. Other more minor paperwork costs between 15 and 20 convertible pesos. An entire industry to extract money.

At 3:00 PM they’ve called only five of those waiting in line, but the parade to the specialists’ cubicles has been continuous. Then there’s a spontaneous demand to see the director, because the excessive delay for a requirement that is so expensive, and the undeniable influence peddling by which it works, seems unspeakably disrespectful.

The director arrives, friendly and positive, and pretends to scold the employee in charge, and promises the clients that everyone will leave satisfied. Indeed, as if by magic, in the last 45 minutes they resolve every case. Everyone goes home; tomorrow will be another day.

Brochure Warns Travelers About New Customs Rules / 14ymedio

14YMedio, Havana, 16 August 2014 – As of this morning a brochure titled “Customs Regulations Every Traveler Should Know” is on sale at all the newsstands. This is the fourth edition which, at a price of 2 Cuban pesos, includes the new customs regulations that will take effect September first.

The General Customs of the Republic (AGR) issued Resolution 206/2014 which limits the quantities of the same item that can be imported, and details the cost to bring it into the country. Among the most affected products are food, jewelry, toiletries, clothing—including underwear—plus appliances and computers.

In an interview with the official press, the deputy chief of the AGR, Idalmis Rosales Milanes, justified the move based on “a study that confirmed the high volumes imported by certain people are destined for marketing and profit. Computers and communications tools will be particularly affected.

The brochure available at the newsstands contains some of the clarifications that Customs has been posting on its website. The text answers general questions about what will change and what will not change as of the first of September.

The measure has caused concern among Cubans who consider these imports a way to alleviate shortages, high prices and the poor quality of the products offered in the retail trade network. The self-employed are demanding the implementation of commercial import rules that allow them to bring into the country the raw materials and products to do their jobs.

The Associated Press Calls Us ‘Mercenaries’ / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua

US sends Latin Americans as subversive agents, according to AP
US sends Latin Americans as subversive agents, according to AP

14ymedio, Havana, Manuel Cuesta Morua, 14 August 2014 — Two separate reports from the American Associated Press (AP) agency, published urbi et orbi, reproduce a syndrome of certain US media in relation to Cuba, at least in the last 55 years.
The syndrome began in 1958 with the New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews, and his sympathetic tale of the bearded ones in the Sierra Maestra; it could be called the Syndrome of the Ultimate Thule, that mythical and distant place in classic antiquity beyond the borders of the known world, where the sun never sets, and the reign of the gods is behind the customary events occurring on the world stage.

In this undisturbed world, inaugurated by the myth, there is no external influence—and if there is, it’s called ‘interference’—its inhabitants can be treated like idiots, that is they don’t think about freedom for themselves, and certain common words acquire another meaning.

Above all, it’s about a world that should not be altered, and any attempt to do so could only be a conspiracy; generated, naturally, by external forces. The role of the media is exactly this: to transform facts, to endorse the vocabulary of those who rule in the name of good, and show evil as banal. continue reading

The Associated Press reports on Zunzuneo and the programs developed by USAID, an agency of the US government to promote a possible version of development and democracy, are modeled on the template of this syndrome and follow its procedures.

If we accept what is put forward by the medium, the promotion of social networks and civic courses in a territory captured by a dictatorship are demonstrably illegal acts, not according to the ordinary law ruling the interior of the kingdom, but according to the discourse of the dictators.

Nothing in Cuban legislation punishes the use a citizen makes of a digital or educational tool provided from the exterior, whether by a government or another institution, for legitimate purposes. But with the enmity between the Cuban autocracy and the democratic providers we have the necessary ingredient for the AP reporters to mount a case for conspiracy, harassment and overthrowing, where the only thing that exists is a project to promote democracy. Nothing else. And this toward a country–I don’t know why AP doesn’t report on it—where democratic ideas and freedom have more roots and antecedents than the “protoideas,” we could argue, of the Castro regime.

The AP reporters mount a conspiracy case where there is only a project to promote democracy

The fundamental questions, far beyond the ‘expertise’ of USAID, are whether it is legitimate to promote democracy—it turns out it’s less cynical to argue that you can bring in money from the outside, but not ideas—and if Cuban citizens consider the Internet or a couple of prohibited books as interference and manipulation of their brains. And this latter, judging by the constant police raids prohibiting everything that can be prohibited, doesn’t appear to be the case.

Which the Associated Press can’t talk about, unless it is willing to discuss the existence of USAID itself, which it has the right to do but that would lead it to question the very legitimacy of democratic changes anywhere in the world, supported in every case from outside, including by governments, and reported on by AP.

However, the AP doesn’t risk criticizing the legitimacy of the social purpose of USAID, it only suggests that it designs bad secret projects. And it lies, using the techniques of the complex lie. How? Through a report classified as secret that doesn’t previously appear published by the AP.

Certain press engage in the vice of recognizing as public only what is published, a media tautology that circumscribes the real world to the newsrooms; for the rest, they’re either not aware of it, or it only exists in the hidden labyrinths of the games of power. It so happens, however, that USAID programs and funding are exposed to view by anyone who wants to know about them or criticize them. And indeed they are, for certain sectors, by their very nature public.

When it feeds the conspiracy theory, the AP has no other choice than to assume the terminology of the Cuban penal code. For a Cuban, the term ‘subversion’ that the AP so happily uses in its reports, has made a long journey from violence to public and peaceful demonstrations of popular discontent with the brutality of an abusive regime. Thus, it tries to criminalize the extreme right that helps the people to shake off their oppression; this time solely through tweeting and civic leadership; a demonstration, by the way, that people can behave themselves in a more civilized way than those who oppress them.

Here the AP establishes an equivalence between a dictatorship and a democracy, as if the criminal codes between the two regimes were interchangeable

Here the AP establishes an equivalence between a dictatorship and a democracy, as if the criminal codes between the two regimes were interchangeable and the punishments they mete out are within the same category. From the depravity of pandering to the rhetoric of the dictatorship, the press in democratic countries wants to appear aseptic and condemns people like Alan Gross to ostracism by omission and journalistic trivialities, and this a man whom everyone knows was not in a condition to subvert any regime.

Hence the banalization of evil the AP always incurs referring to the pro-democracy activists. It’s odd that in all their reports the term “mercenary” appears, a term the Government assigns to its opponents in its periodic table. But doesn’t the AP know that “a mercenary” is a figure in the Cuban penal code but that that section of the code cites are none of the actions for which the Government calls us mercenaries.

Dictatorships are not rigorous with words, an imponderable for its specious domination over its citizens; but the free press should use the language of the dictionary and not the neo-language of the autocrats.

We are still waiting for a report from AP that concludes by saying, “The dissenters consider the Government to be despotic,” to achieve that balance. Something closer to the facts. In any event, I would like to record that, according to the penal code, we can be where many of us are: working for democracy in Cuba, although according to the rhetoric of power we are mercenaries fighting to subvert the regime. Does the AP have any objective opinion?

And the money? Well there it is. Money from the American people, both private and public—not from the Government—that public and private agencies in the United States destined to dissimilar projects all over the world, for the benefit of the organizers and governments, with few exceptions, which don’t include the Cuban government, much less its associated institutions.

In this whole issue of AP and Cuba I have a hypothesis: we are facing a conflict in the centers of power between the media groups, and those of the establishment. Which is settled from time to time on the periphery. Once resolved, Cuba will once again be a dictatorship for the AP, neither of the left nor the right, but infamous. As are all dictatorships, in the words of a wise politician.

Four Cardinal Points / Reinaldo Escobar

puntos-cardinales_CYMIMA20140814_0005_13

They are difficult to count, not to mention uncountable, the projects carried out in order to find alternative solutions to Cuba’s problems. When I say “alternatives” I’m obviously referring to a broad set of programs, documents, statements not coming from governmental institutions, but from that disjointed amalgamation of opposition parties and civil society entities, both within and outside the Island.

Many of these platforms have tried to encourage an essential unity, few have managed to do so. One of the reasons for the failure of this unity of purpose is the inclusion of one or another point that has led to disagreements. Another reason is the effect of what could be called “strongman rule in reverse,” which consists in opposition leaders refusing to support a specific program because of the presence among its signatories of others with whom they have differences. continue reading

In an effort to find the minimum consensus, without any specific organization trying to open the umbrella of leadership, four cardinal points have arisen in which, so far, the majority seem to agree. Best of all is that they don’t aspire to be the four cardinal points, simply four points, lacking the definite article. Their principal merit is not that everyone agrees with them, but that no one appears to be against them.

If we made the incalculable error of saying that these were the only important points and there were no others, we could be sure that there would be more detractors than defenders, particularly given our infinite capacity to add new elements to the list of what needs to be done, of what must be demanded of the government, or of what motivates citizen dissatisfaction.

This is the reason why other just demands, which enjoy undisputed sympathy but no broad consensus, do not appear on the list. One could mention, for example, the prohibition of abortion, the acceptance of marriage between same-sex couples, the elimination of military service, the return of confiscated properties, the opening of judicial processes against violators of human rights and the ensuing investigation of crimes committed, the immediate celebration of free elections, the dissolution of Parliament, the annulment of the Communist Party, or the rebate of taxes.

There are thousands of demands which, like mushrooms after the rain, will arise at the instant that political dissent in Cuba is decriminalized and when, happily, Cuba will be a difficult country to govern

The absence of particulars does not take away from the effectiveness of these four points which, far from attempting a neutrality to facilitate their assimilation, constitute a clear commitment to democracy and human rights, the proof of which is in the enthusiasm that has awakened in our civil society, and the obvious aversion this is caused among those who rule.

Although they have already been divulged I reproduce them here:

  1. The unconditional release of all political prisoners including those on parole.
  2. The end of political repression, often violent, against the peaceful human rights and pro-democracy movement
  3. Respect for the international commitments already signed by the Cuban government, and ratification—without reservations—of the International Covenants on Human Rights and compliance with the covenants of the International Labor Organization on labor and trade union rights.
  4. Recognition of the legitimacy of independent Cuban civil society.

14 August 2014

 

Outrage and Confusion Over Silvio Rodriguez’s Statements / 14ymedio

Silvio Rodriguez in concert in 2011
Silvio Rodriguez in concert in 2011

The unusual statements of the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez on the official website Cubadebate have provoked a stir on the web, where the habitual defender of the regime is the object of severe criticism. The person who was the greatest exponent of the Cuban Nueva Trova gave an extensive interview to Cubadebate in which he claimed that during his travels around the neighborhoods of the Island he learned that people in Cuba are “fucked, really fucked, much more fucked than I thought.” And he admitted to having “a much more comfortable life than the vast majority of Cubans.”

A 14ymedio reader commented that, “From his permanent residence in El Vedado [in Havana] and his vacation mansion on Jibacoa beach in Santa Cruz del Norte where he has a view of the sea from a high mountain, it’s clear that he can’t make out the hardships of the people.” This opinion coincided with the those of many who accuse the singer of cynicism and wonder how it is possible that he hasn’t realized that “more than fifty years have passed and the Government is still the same people.” continue reading

Another group of readers point to the possibility that Silvio Rodriguez wants to distance himself from the regime, “now that he knows the end of the dictatorship is imminent, there will be a settling of accounts and he’s trying to clean [up his act].” One of the comments posted on 14ymedio suggests that he maintains his “position as a communist,” because “the chameleons (…) no one respects them, neither one side or the other.”

Anger with Rodriguez is apparent even among the public on the official website, which published their statements. “The worst of all is that those who have lived and do live in that glass bubble without ever rubbing shoulders with those below, are those who run everything, control everything, and make the most important decisions in the names of the those below without consulting anyone and without the ability to see the reality…” laments a Cubadebate reader.

The statements of Silvio Rodriguez, who was a deputy of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba for 15 years and who contributed with his music and his international fame as a singer for the Revolution, has been one of the most read pieces of news on 14ymedio in the first month of its life, and has nearly 4,000 hits on Facebook, one of the highest of the page.