Four Cardinal Points / Reinaldo Escobar

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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.