Meaningless Nonsense About the Flag / Fernando Dámaso

The flag, better “well adjusted” some think. (14ymedio)

Fernando Damaso, 24 April 2017 — The “official experts” continue talking and writing about the “correct” use of the national flag. Some of the arguments they trot out are laughable. The problem is not so much the rejection of the use of the national flag on clothing, as criticising the use of the American flag by many, mostly young, Cubans. It is something ideologically unacceptable  for fossilised minds. Let´s take ít one bit at a time.

In the United States, from when it was born as a nation, the flag has had an important place in the life of its citizens. Honoured and respected, it can be seen in government institutions and in front of many houses, as well as on the facades of many buildings. It is also everywhere in sporting and leisure facilities, and framed ones adorn the rooms of young people and adults alike and even the walls of commercial organisations. As if that weren´t enough, it appears on clothing and different consumer goods, with original and bold designs. It has never been idolised, but forms part of the daily life of every American. Something similar, though to a lesser extent, happens with the British flag.

In Cuba, the flag accompanied the Mambisas (a mixture of Cuban, Dominican and Filipino fighters for independence) who fought for independence in the 19th century but, when the republic was established, it became an official symbol of state, on display only in state institutions from dawn to dusk. It never featured in peoples’ day-to-day lives, apart from certain patriotic dates, like 10th of October, 24th of February or the 20th May.  During the years of the Cuban republic it was an object of respect, and its use was well regulated.

After 1959, the flag began to be used in a thoughtless way by the authorities, often without worrying about the established norms for its use, for any kind of political event and, over time, for many people, losing its emotional impact. And more than that, they put other flags next to it which had nothing to do with it, and that compete with it for importance (which is what happened with the 26th of July flag).

This totally anomalous situation changed it, for many, into more of a symbol of a government which had appropriated it, rather than of the Cuban people. In other words, the flag had become “official”, like the guayabera (a kind of mens’ shirt similar to what barbers wear), “safaris” and checked shirts that government officials are in the habit of wearing.

Nowadays no Cubans wear such clothes, least of all young people. They appear to be repudiated. Also, very few Cubans are interested in putting up a flag in their home or displaying it as a part of their clothing. The problem does not have to do with regulating, or stimulating, its use, as some suggest, but in honestly pointing out why many young people, and some not so young, wear clothing with the American flag on it.

Listen, you brainy ideologues,  don’t you understand that it’s a subtle way of demonstrating a preferance for a different system to the one we have here?

It isn’t, as you think, a problem about “trashy merchandise”, nor about “imperialist aggression”. Test it out, design some clothing with the flag, or parts of it incorporated, and you will see how few people actually buy it.

Translated by GH

The Bolivian Circus / Fernando Dámaso

Map of Pacific War area. Source: Wikipedia

Fernando Damaso, 31 March 2017 — Although hardly anyone is surprised at the clowning about by the person who calls himself ” the first indigenous president” (in fact, there was another one before him), now, with his going on about “a sea for Bolivia” he is becoming news again.

Bolivia lost Antofagasta, the Atacama desert and the sea coast in the Pacific War or the “Saltmine War”, [trans. note: The full alternative name was the Birdshit and Saltmine War] which went from 1879 to 1883. It was ended in 1883 with the signing of the Treaty of Ancón. In the Treaty, Bolivia lost land to Chile, and also Peru and Argentina. Peru, which annexed the Bolivian territory of Tacna and Arica, returned the saltmine provinces of Tarapacá and Arica to Chile. Argentina kept hold of the territories it had annexed.

To try to change present-day frontiers between countries, which have been settled by treaty and agreements favouring the winners, following wars and occupations, is not really doable. It would mean changes pretty much all over the world, which is absurd.

Also, Paraguay doesn’t have an ocean outlet either, just as, for example, countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which hasn’t held back their development.

The ambition of the “Bolivian indigenous man who became president”, rejected by Chile, seems to be more a response to his “indigenous jingoism” policy, intended to gain support for his intention of putting himself forward again as a presidential candidate, something which was turned down in a referendum. Everything seems to indicate that the “indigenous” has enjoyed power so much that he wants to perpetuate it, intending to arrange a new referendum on something which the Bolivians have already decided.

Translated by GH

For Cuba? / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 29 July 2017 — The slogan adopted for the so-called 2017-2018 General Elections is “For Cuba.” According to propaganda claims, these elections are unique in the world in that, unlike in most countries, it is not political parties which nominate candidates but rather citizens at the grass roots level. In reality this is not the case.

The party, the only legally recognized party, does it by using official civil society organizations — the only such organizations which are legal — which operate under its direct control. Furthermore, if a “troublesome” candidate should happen to slip past the control mechanisms, the party — once again, working through these same organizations — will do everything in its power to make sure the individual is not nominated. In practice, a candidate has never been nominated who had not been previously approved by the party. continue reading

It is precisely at the grass roots where any real citizen participation begins and ends, where voters “choose” a candidate from those already chosen by the party. Only those nominees who have been previously “filtered” and approved will be on the ballot.

The governing body for municipal, provincial and the national elections is the so-called Candidates Commission, composed of representatives appointed by the municipal, provincial and national leaders of these same governmental organizations (the Cuban Central Workers’ Union, the Commitees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Assembly of People’s Power, the University Students’ Federation and the Pre-University Students’ Federation).

These organizations draw up lists of candidates for the provincial legislatures and the National Assembly without any citizen participation. As is widely known, everything is tightly managed to ensure that the absolute unanimity of voting that characterizes Cuban legislatures is maintained, from the grass roots to the National Assembly.

Since all representatives are required to be nominated and elected by the electoral base, those whose nominations and elections are considered crucial are assigned (or planted) to ensure that none of the party’s stalwarts get left out. This often involves a candidate being nominated based on his or her place of origin or other incidental considerations. As a result, someone may be nominated and formally elected in a place which he has not visited in years and to which he no longer has any ties.

By democatic norms, Cuba’s general elections are undoubtedly “quite original.” Perhaps that is why its “elected” leaders remain in power for decades. In spite of being terrible at governing, spending their terms in office veering from disaster to disaster, they win reelection every time.

Rather than being a democratic electoral process, the Cuban system amounts to a process of dynastic ratification and a way of recycling its buffoons.

Daily Incongruities / Fernando Dámaso

Panorama and Tulipan streets near the 19th of April Policlinic in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado neighborhood.

Fenando Damaso, 1 June 2017 — To the annoyance of the citizens, the annual campaign against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Dengue fever and the Zika virus has begun anew, through weekly fumigations of homes. Undertaken year after year, it seems that the insect has been the winner since is has not been eradicated.

In 1900, the Cuban doctor Carlos J. Finlay and the American medical team presided over by Dr. Walter Reed succeeded in eliminating it and sanitized the country, declaring it free of yellow fever or black vomit, as it was known then.

To do this, ditches, streams, muddy places and wastelands were cleaned, and crude oil was spread on top of them to kill the larvae. They then sprayed infested and adjoining houses. The process of sanitation and control of the insect was maintained during the Republic and there were no new outbreaks. continue reading

The transmitting mosquito reappeared in the years of socialism, when “republican sanitation” was stopped and the city, which had been one of the cleanest in the world, became a veritable dump. Today it continues to be: garbage everywhere, sewage in the public thoroughfare.

When the nurse who distributed the papers with the day of the fumigation was asked why they don’t clean and fumigate the unhygienic places in the neighborhood, she replied: “The mosquito lives in clean places and not in dirty ones.”

Nice! Finlay and Reed are obsolete. The solution is to make the neighborhood and the city a real den of dirt, to force the mosquito to emigrate.

To the absurdity of the response is added starting this campaign at a time when the city lacks potable water, due to the rupture of the major line in the Southern Basin, with 70 years of unmanaged operation, and when the highest governmental authorities, instead of confronting and solving the serious problems of the present, are dedicated to rambling on about the future.

Like they say in the street, “This is Cuba, chaguito!”

Nothing Has Changed* / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 12 May 2017 — At the recently concluded Fifith National Council of the National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), during skin-deep presentations, one timorous playwright expresed this thought: “A critical mindset is fundamental in society. UNEAC must become the thermometer wherein discussion is allowed.”

It appears that in UNEAC, as in the rest of Cuba, discussion is not allowed and requires permission to practice. And here I thought this was an inherent right of every citizen and not only for members of the UNEAC (with its appropriate authorization).

We all know that the UNEAC is a governmental organization, commanded and controlled by the Ministry of Culture, a body which lacks independence and whose principal duties are designated by the government and the party. continue reading

This Council, as more of the same, stands behind the execrable repression inflicted, in plain light of day this past May Day, on a citizen who had the gall to get ahead of the official start of the parade and run while waving a North American flag. If he had done this with a Venezuelan flag, perhaps he would have been applauded and even congratulated–but he did it with that of the “eternal enemy” and that, over here, constitutes a criminal act.

Both events demonstrate the prehistoric dogmatism and intolerance of our authorities, incapable as they are of setting aside their totalitarian stances.

Only in dictatorships are discussion and the display of a flag (even that of a country with which we have recently reestablished diplomatic relations) prohibited, and are those who do these things beaten up.

To speak of tolerance and of respect for diverse opinions is one thing, but to practice them is something else entirely. It constitutes a yet-unlearned lesson for the Cuban authorities. The old and new rulers do not tire of repeating the same old, broken record of defending the sovereignty, independence and identity of the Nation–which has always served as the basis of violating the most basic rights of the citizenry.

In this country nothing truly important changes. The few changes are limited to insignificant matters, which often are even more detrimental than beneficial to Cubans. To understand this, you need only sense the public opinion on the street and set aside the tired official rhetoric.

The matter of the Cuban flag could not be left out of the UNEAC Council, albeit already a tired topic.

Señores, the elements of the flag, or even the actual flag, reproduced in a piece of apparel, a tool or a craft, are not the flag. Let us leave aside extreme positions and let us truly repect the flag, not utilize it for cheap political and patriotic acts nor as a background for demogogues, thus breaking with the established tradition for its use–which actually has been and is systematically violated by the authorities. A similar thing occurs with the national anthem and emblem.

Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Translator’s Notes:

*The orginal title of this piece in Spanish is, “El Cuartico Sigue Igual,” which can be literally translated as, “the little room is unchanged.” The author is riffing on a song that became very popular in Cuba in the late 1940s, “El Cuartico Está Igualito.” The phrase is a jilted lover’s refrain addressed to the departed love object, describing how everything in their love nest remains the same, just as she/he left it. Ever since, Cuban writers have used this phrase or a variation when referring to all manner of unchanged situations.

Higher Taxes / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 6 July 2017 — It is no secret among Cubans that their government is inept and inefficient. Fifty-eight years of failure attest to this.

With the emergence of self-employment, however, officials have found a way to fill the state’s coffers without having to devote resources or effort to it. It’s called taxes.

They have devised (and continue to devise) taxes of all kinds to drain citizens who have decided to work for themselves rather than depend on the state. continue reading

The recent tax increase on the sale of homes is one example and there is talk of increases in other areas as well. A contract was recently announced in which homeowners would provide rooms to Public Health clients in order to care for those who are ill or need medical attention.

As logic would have it, it would be at the homeowner’s expense even though every medical tourist’s insurance pays for it. Never in Cuban history, even during the colonial era, has there been a government that exploited its citizens more than this one.

No one disputes the need for taxes as a contribution to the maintenance of the state and its social services. But the assumption is that the state will create wealth and not use taxes as its main source of income. There is also no entity or authority that exercises control on citizens’ behalf over the expenses of the state. The so-called Comptroller General of the Republic exercises this role only over her own ministry, not over the president or vice-presidents.

According to the legislation passed last month at a special session of the National Assemby, “the accumulation of property and weath by citizens is not and will not be permitted.”

Fortunately for the citizens, the laws are made by men, and when they disappear most of the time the laws disappear as well. Nothing is eternal. To believe otherwise shows a lack of intelligence.

Whom Do They Serve? / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 28 June 2017 — Whether at the municipal or provincial level, the people’s administrative councils are supposed to be looking out primarily for the interests of their constituents and, in conjunction with them, carrying out the duties of local governance. But due to the inaccessible and very undemocratic Cuban electoral system, that is not the case.

Lacking any real power and without questioning what is meant by “the people,” these councils have for years simply carried out the orders handed down to them by higher-ups in government without concern for the needs of their constituents or responding to them in a compelling way. In a country where every worker was once an employee of the government, their inefficiency was just part of the broader inefficiency of the entire system. continue reading

With the advent of self-employment, or private sector work, they have continued to act in the same way, turning a deaf ear to the complaints and grievances of the self-employed, imposing bureaucratic measures under the guise that such taxes benefit the weak and needy. This demagogic, paternalistic position, far removed from reality, is not fooling anyone.

For evidence one need only look to the government’s recent “collisions” with private-sector taxi drivers, with homeowners in Viñales who rent out rooms to tourists (the government tried, without success, to force homeowners to permanently cover over swimming pools they had built on their properties), with construction crews (whose prices officials have tried unsuccessfully to regulate), with clothing and handicraft vendors (who continue to sell these items), with truck drivers transporting passengers in the backs of their vehicles (who were overwhelmed by endless and repeated demands for documentation) and many other similar examples.*

Even without established organizations to represent them, small groups of people with shared interests began pushing back against arbitrary demands by authorities, who were trying to exercise the same sort of tight control they had always exercised over state-sector workers without understanding that something had changed: a group or collective spirit had arisen that was at odds with the authorities’ interests. It is all still very new and appears to be primarily driven by a need for survival rather than by economic or political demands.

The original sin of the Cuban dissident movement has been that it has never actually represented any specific segment of society. Instead, it has been made up of independent agents who have assumed a critical and combative stance towards the system, gathering around them a few like-minded individuals. The exception has been the Ladies in White, which respresents the interests of family members unjustly sentenced to long prison terms for holding differing opinions.

At the moment, one cannot say that there is a real dissident movement, one that demands respect and fights for its rights, that represents specific segments of society, that is united by economic interests. This is, in truth, what brings about change.

As long as there are no solutions, these segments will grow, develop and gain strength. And every day the authorities will find it more difficult to maintain a hegemonic position of force.

*Translator’s note: In 2013 the government announced that independent clothing vendors would no longer be allowed to sell items imported from abroad, a major source of their inventory. More recently, private truck owners have been converting their vehicles to accommodate passengers in order to transport them from one city to another. In spite of the dangers this presents, such as the absence of seat belts, the service is more accessible than that of the state-owned bus company and much cheaper than buses catering to the tourist market. 

A Lot of Heat and No Fire / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 18 June 2017 — The policy toward Cuba, announced by United States President Donald Trump, in an event in Miami that was more buffoonish than serious, as well as the Declaration of the Revolutionary Government responding to it, constitute “a lot of heat and no fire.”

First of all, Trump’s speech was full of rhetoric and repetition of set phrases, with the objective of satisfying the small group of Cuban-Americans and Cubans who still remain frozen in the years of the Cold War, dreaming of a triumphal entry into Havana on the shoulders of Uncle Sam, something that neither Trump nor any other American president will provide them, rather than concrete measures against the Cuban government. continue reading

If we look behind the curtain, aside from repealing the previous presidential directive and signing the new one (nothing but a play on words), the only elements are: eliminating the people-to-people individual travel and blocking American companies from doing business with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the intelligence and security services. All the rest, established by Obama, remains in place.

And in the Cuban case, as well, there is an abundance of revolutionary rhetoric that has been repeated for over half a century and that, carefully, “reiterates the will to continue respectful dialog and cooperation on issued of mutual interest, as well as the unfinished bilateral negotiations with the government of the United States.” All the rest of the long document can be forgotten about.

It seems as if both presidents have agreed to reassure their supporters, while “silently” continuing the conversations and exchanges of the Obama era. Trump is not as crazy as he seems, nor are there, in Cuba, new conditions of “historic confrontations.”

Let’s let things take their course.

A Bad Bet / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 13 June 2017 — Of the real and supposed problems that the Cuban Revolution proposed to solve, as the basis of its historical necessity, after more than half a century of exercising absolute power, many have not been solved, the majority have been aggravated, and others have emerged that did not exist before.

The housing shortage, the thousands of families living in precarious and overcrowded conditions, and more thousands housed in inadequate locations, constitute a clear demonstration of the Revolution’s failure. Insufficient and inefficient public transit, for years incapable of meeting the minimum needs of the population, and the appalling and unstable public services of all types, show another face of the failure. If we add to this the loss of important agricultural outputs, the obsolescence of the industrial infrastructure (lacking upgrades and needed investments), plus a generalized lack of productivity, the situation becomes chaotic. continue reading

Nor have the political and the social spheres achieved what was promised, what with the continued absence of freedoms and basic rights for citizens, as well as low wages and pensions, covert racial and gender discrimination, street and domestic violence, incivility, antisocial behaviors, corruption, and disregard for flora and fauna.

The blame for this string of calamities has always been cast upon the embargo–but even back when it went unmentioned while the country was benefitting from enormous Soviet subsidies* these problems went unresolved. At that time, the abundant resources were squandered on foreign wars, backed insurgencies, absurd and grandiose failed plans, and other frivolities.

The socialist state and its leaders, albeit abusing the revolutionary rhetoric, have reliably demonstrated in Cuba that the system does not work and is unfeasible–just as happened in the other socialist countries which erroneously bet on it.

To propose a “prosperous, efficient and sustainable socialism” is to propose a negation, and it constitutes no more than another utopia to deceive the citizenry and detain the march of time a little longer–knowing that, at the end, it will fail as it has up to now. Socialism, perhaps attractive in theory, is in practice a failure. A bet on it, in any of its forms, is to ensure a loss.

Translator’s Notes:

*Before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the start of Cuba’s “Special Period.”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Names and Brands / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Dámaso, 29 October 2016 — Creating a brand name respected around the world requires resources, effort and time. In the colonial and republican eras certain Havana names became famous established brands over time.

Among retail department stores there were El Encanto, Fin de Siglo, La Epoca, La Opera, Filosofia, Sanchez Mola and Los Precios Fijos. Stores specializing in jewelry, fine china, and luxury giftware included Le Trianon, Riviera and Cuervo y Sobrino.

Confectioners included Potín, La Gran Vía, and Sylvain. Restaurants and cafes included La Zaragozana, El Castillo de Farnes, Floridita, El Emperador, Monseñor, El Castillo de Jagua, and Rancho Luna. continue reading

If other types of retailers are included, the list becomes almost endless. This was the case throughout the entire island.

Brands also repeated the phenomenon: Bacardí. Arechabala, Hatuey, Cristal, Tropical, Polar, Pilón, Regil, Jon Chí, Tío Ben, Bola Roja, El Miño, Nalón, Escudo, Catedral, Guarina, Hatuey, Regalías El Cuño, Partagás, H. Hupman, Competidora Gaditana, Trinidad, and many more.

Beginning in 1959 the new authorities changed the names and the brands, and allowed years of resources and serious work by many Cubans to be lost. It was a suicidal commercial policy, replacing established names and brands with absurd numbers and generic names.

So appeared the markets A-14, S-34, M-67, and others; cigarettes were all Popular or Soft; soaps were Nácar; soft drinks and deodorant were Son; cologne, shampoo, and other products were Fiesta.

Gone were the labels and containers that differentiated one brand from another, although they were made in different places. Names and brands to defend or to answer for ceased to exist, losing quality.

This still happens with some products, the most representative example being matches: they are called Chispa, although their producers are different and they are located in different provinces. Many beers, with different brand names, are produced in a factory in Holguín, closing the existing factories in Havana.

With the slow entry into the world market, some names and brands have been rescued and other new ones have been created.

As for commerce, the laurels go to the Historian of the City, who has restored the original names to many business of the historic district, although with some liberties regarding their locations: Cuervo and Sobrinos were in Águila and San Rafael and not in Oficios and Muralla, where they are located now. But hey, not everything can be perfect. The effort should be appreciated.

Hopefully the new private businesses being built on the sites of old shops will imitate him. Maybe this way in Havana and in other places in Cuba the lost historic continuity will be restored.

An Unfortunate Article / Fernando Dámaso

Juventud Rebelde masthead from earlier years

Fernando Damaso, 26 March 2017 — In a mis-timed article, a journalist from the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), a self-proclaimed Cuban youth, visits Hiroshima and unleashes her personal feeling about the events of 6 August 1945. She says she “is pained,” that “August in Hiroshima is forever” and shocked that a survivor, after the passage of 71 years, bears no grudge, and that “in Japan forgiveness is long-overdue subject.”

Then, instead of understanding that forgiveness is a sign of wisdom, she speaks about “the fiery blood of Cubans,” and says “it is hard to understand it.” continue reading

She’s right: We Cubans lack the wisdom necessary to forgive, and what’s more, to ask for forgiveness. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are pending subjects here, despite the fact that our mambises — the original freedom fighters of a previous century — at the end of a real war, knew how to forgive.

These last 58 years are filled with bad examples. In Cuba hatred has overcome love, even though Jose Marti made it very clear that love builds and hatred destroys. The problem is that the example of Marti is used according to political convenience: one part of his thinking is manipulated and published and the other is hidden.

The journalist, to ride the wave, goes even further and addresses the visit and words of President Obama, when he was here. She says, “But that a victim of the Holocaust leans on his words to talk about the most painful moment?  That’s more than I can stand.”

Despite everything, I understand it: if she were not spiteful, filled with hatred and a practitioner of intolerance, it would be very difficult for her to write for Juventud Rebelde.

It is striking that “at this stage of the game,” when it is already lost and it will end very soon, instead of drawing useful conclusions from her visit, she shows herself to be so dogmatic. These are times to forgive and not to accumulate rancor and historical hatreds that, as can be seen, contribute absolutely nothing: Cuba is an example.

You have to know how to “turn the page” and not get stuck in the past. Japan demonstrates this with its spectacular development without losing its national dignity. It would be wise to learn from them.

 Translated by Laura

It Appears He Is Right / Fernando Dámaso

!

Fernando Damaso, 17 March 2017 — According to his brother [Raul Castro], later endorsed by the docile National Assembly of People’s Power, the “historic leader” [Fidel Castro] ordered that there would be no public establishment, street, avenue, park or building named after him, nor any monuments erected to him.

At first glance it seems a gesture of humility and modesty at the end of his life after a lifelong display of a overwhelming ego. However, there was no order with regards to the media, perhaps betting he would stay alive in them.

At least that is what emerges from the monumental and interminable media campaign about his figure and thinking, initiated before his death and continuing “in crescendo” to the present. Spectacles of all type, conferences, festivals, dances, songs, documentaries, expositions, and every kind of thing in that sphere, dedicated to him, offer reliable proof.

Should there be any doubt, the Book Fair, which is now touring the provinces, has surpassed all signs of servility with a sick personality cult; colloquia, conversations, workshops, expositions and much more, all in his honor and, in addition, the presentation by different Cuban publishers of 24 titles by him and about him, including three comic books about his life. No world personality, including Cervantes and Shakespeare, has had so many books on the stands of the fair, in addition to the official presentations each and every one of which is filled with the usual words of praise.

A close friend told me, “We are ruled by a dead man.” It appears he is right!

Very Little Unites Us / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 9 March 2017 — The Electric Union (UNE), the Cuban State Electric Company, plans blackouts for repairs, maintenance and tree pruning that affect its aerial networks. Generally, the extend from 8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon, directly affecting citizens in their homes, and the production of state and private services.

The extended times planned, generally don’t correspond to the work done; it’s common to see some workers working and the rest wasting time, sitting around in the streets and sidewalks, paying homage to unproductivity or, as a foreign friend ingeniously told me one day, “Those who don’t work, are most of them, and they honor those who do work, which are the few.” continue reading

Sometimes the repairs, due to their poor quality, have to be repeated. On my block, one entire day, they spent time replacing the wires and, a month later, came back and did it all again. I questioned the brigade chief about it, and answered that the previous ones weren’t adequate. A similar situation is frequently repeated. It seems that UNE legalizes the unproductivity and the irresponsibility.

If they had to compensate those affected for all the affects generated by these “planned blackouts,” I’m convinced that they would be much more careful and productive.

Perhaps they should take account of the experience of the former and antiquated Cuban Electricity Company which, with much less sophisticated resources, undertook all these works without affecting the consumers and with little impact.

The difference is that the previous company was an efficient capitalist monopoly and UNE is an inefficient socialist monopoly.

A City Invaded / Fernando Dámaso

Sign: Prohibited to throw garbage here

Fernando Damaso, 26 February 2017 — The lack of hygiene has taken over the city: poorly maintained and filthy streets and sidewalks, garbage everywhere, nauseating streams of sewage, grimy floors and walls in state establishments, widespread environmental contamination, and even dead animals rotting in squares and courtyards, in full sun under the laziness of passersby and the authorities.

Today’s Havana has no resemblance to the Havana of the Republic: it has lost all the cleanliness and hygiene that characterized it, the pride of the people of Havana and the admiration of those who visited it. continue reading

The authorities can blame numerous factors, but the key one has been their inability to organize and operate an effective cleaning system. Faced with chaos and prolonged inefficiency, social discipline was lost and today everyone contributes, with their citizen irresponsibility, to make the so-called “capital of all Cubans” dirtier, which is not the case in other cities and towns in the country, where the sense of belonging to the place where you were born has not been lost.

Unfortunately for Havana, the majority of those born here, the original Havanans, abandoned it, and their place was occupied by emigrants from other provinces, without any affectionate bond with it, becoming a city invaded, with all the evils that such a situation entails. In Havana they did and do what in their places of origin they did not nor would they dare to do.

The Havana of “dudes,” “bros,” “homies,” “uncles and aunties,” “chicks,” “moms,” “pals,” and others in that vein, is not my city.

 Translated by Jim

Two Dates in the Second Month / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 14 February 2017 — February, for Cubans of the so-called third age, presents two important dates: The Day of Lovers (the 14th), and the Grito de Baire (Cry of Baire — the 24th).

On the first, re-baptized as the Day of Love years ago, gifts were exchanged only between lovers, with the prevailing image being hearts pierced by Cupid’s arrows. Today it has a more general character, and I believe it has lost much of its original identity.

In a recent spot on national television about its celebration, first a couple of lovers appeared, and then an elderly couple, followed by a pregnant woman with a man rubbing her belly, and in the end, dragged by the hair, an image of Che and Fidel. I accept this “romantic broth,” but reject the final image as absurd and manipulative. continue reading

The 24th, harking back to events of 1895, was a patriotic remembrance with an abundance of Cuban flags and official commemorations in schools, rendering homage to the beginning of the War of Independence organized by Jose Marti and other illustrious patriots.

This day, over time, has lost its importance, while other less important ones have replaced it and are now celebrated with overwhelming propaganda. It seems like the so-called “new patriots” are considered superior to the founding fathers of the Cuban nation, which is disrespectful and totally false.

This process of historical dismantling has been carried out with the younger generations, which have been and are manipulated in the interest of satisfying overflowing egos and above all, and ironically, “in the interest of the Fatherland.”

It is essential to look critically at our historical calendar, from which events and figures that totally expendable and lacking the merits to remain on it should be removed, but to accomplish this courage and dignity are required, something that some of our historians and social communicators lack.