Rebeca Monzo, 27 July 2015 — One of the most annoying problems in our country, as far as services and treatment of the public is concerned, is the humiliation to which we are subjected on a daily basis. This is especially true for women. We are required to leave our handbags, with all our personal belongings inside, in bins set aside for this purpose at the entrances of every store and commercial establishment, even though many of them have no security. This has led to instances of theft, for which the victims receive no compensation. Continue reading
Don’t say you didn’t hear me!
Don’t say you didn’t see me!
Here I am!
The sight of this sexagenarian pushing his cart through this lovely neighborhood so full of hills — from Calzada de Boyeros to 23rd Street, his head covered with a big balsa hat to protect himself from the harshness of our scorching sun — aroused my admiration.
On one occasion I noticed he was particularly happy and asked him why. With a smile on his face he replied, “My tamales have finally gone international!”
“A Cuban from Miami bought fifty tamales from me (one for each star in the American flag) to freeze and take back with him,” he explained.
“You are going to be famous, Pepe, though you are already the best in Nuevo Vedado,” I said.
’I am the only one in Nuevo Vedado,” he replied.
Early Saturday I found out through a neighbor that Pepe had just died of a heart attack.
Never more will we hear his cheerful cries. He was a fixture of one of those urban street scenes so evocative of a bygone era, which fills both those of us from here and those of us from there with nostalgia
Rebeca Monzo, 13 July 2015
Rebeca Monzo, 7 July 2015 — The conversations and approaches plagued by enormous pauses with “our neighbor across the street” continue. As far as all Cubans, or rather the people, know this started on a very significant date on our religious calendar, December 17 of last year, Saint Lazarus Day, but I believe, and I don’t think I’m mistaken, in reality it began long before.
The Cuban government has not been at all moderate in its internal language for us and its acolytes, nor in the exaggerated requests for compensation from the United States government, in exchange for practically nothing in return. And who, if not the island’s government itself, is going to compensate the people of Cuba for those 56 years of expropriations, interventions, occupations of buildings, the deterioration of the country and family separations, without even counting the number of dead lying in the depths of the Florida Straits for trying to escape the island in precarious craft, during almost five decades of a prohibition on emigration by safe means?
While the government decided to turn the page on certain questions, and leave off using some of the aggressive language against the United States in the media, slowness will continue to mark the official path, without considering that the truth is huge and in a hurry, it is the Cuban people who have endured hardships, scarcities of every kind and beatings, like those that continue to fall on the peaceful Cuban opposition, the most recent example of these practices being last Sunday when Antonio Rodiles headed alone and quietly to Santa Rita Church in Miramar to join with the Ladies in White and to offer them his moral support.
Rebeca Monzo, 27 June 2015 — Strolling through the streets of Havana, it is odd to see the profusion of American symbols on clothing, flags, decals, handbags and other items.
While walking in the vicinity of Yara cinema in Vedado recently, I happened to notice with some amazement a cart selling slushies. Such carts are not allowed to park for more than a minute. They must be in constant motion or risk getting a fine, a stupid rule since it requires customers to run along behind the vendor. At any rate, this same cart was sporting two American flags of considerable size on both its front sides. Too bad I did not have a camera to capture the image. Continue reading
From: Vera Pravdova [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2015, 4:56 p.m.
Re: A very good article! (forwarded Tuesday night)
I’m forwarding you these two articles (Alpizar, Ravsberg) with the intention of distributing them to as many people as possible, since we should immediately demand the enforcement of laws protecting plants and animals, the urgent creation of new laws in this area, and the imposition of severe punishments on all violators. Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 22 May 2015 — A little over a year ago our friends Reinaldo and Yoani came for a visit to tell us that, finally, the long-cherished dream of starting an independent newspaper was about to be realized and to ask us if we would be interested in contributing articles.
Why such an unusual name for a newspaper? I’ll tell you: The number fourteen refers to the floor on which they live, Y stands for Yoani, who came up with the idea, and medio is a reference to communication media.*
We, along with others, enthusiastically began making our modest contribution and the dream quickly came true. On May 21, 2014 the first issue of the digital daily 14ymedio was published.
Yesterday, we all gathered at the newspaper’s headquarters: the founders, the staff and the contributors. We had a delightful evening of conversations and discussions in which the main course consisted of new suggestions and ideas to further improve 14ymedio.com.
HAPPY FIRST ANNIVERSARY!
*Translator’s note: The title is a play on words. In Spanish, 14 y medio literally means fourteen and a half. The word medio can mean either half of something or medium, as in the medium of television.
Rebeca Monzo, 19 May 2015 — The year was 1985. I was still working at a state agency, like everyone in our country, and there was talk in the Cuban media about an “enemy” radio broadcast that had been named, improperly, Radio Martí. This generated fierce government propaganda against it, above all, for having baptized it with the name of the “Apostle,” (as Cubans call José Martí) which the Cuban misgovernment feels it owns absolutely.
As could be expected, like all human beings we relish forbidden fruit, especially in the case of a source of information whose censorship is imposed by a totalitarian regime. My curiosity grew and I gave myself the task of finding a formula for reaching it. Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 4 June 2015 — One evening at the beginning of the “Special Period,” when I was meeting with friends at home, I told them to drink lemongrass tea, because coffee would now become scarce: “What I most regret is not the wretched goods that will be coming, but what wretches we are going to become,” speaking in general terms of course.
Unfortunately this has happened, and on a gradually increasing scale we have thievery, deception, fraud, double standards, and many other social vices.
Right now corruption cases on the island are alarming, at all levels: stealing and selling exam answers and graduation certificates, selling jobs, falsifying payrolls, and many others. Not to mention joint ventures, where the scams and their dividends reach into the millions. Continue reading
From the time we were little, our grandparents and parents gave us spoonfuls of honey to cure our coughs, or anointed our minor injuries with a dab, or simply put it on our lips, chapped by the cold or a high fever. Its curative properties came down to us from our ancestors for hundreds of years.
This natural substance has been used as a culinary sweetener since ancient times in many countries, and also appreciated for its curative qualities. Treatment with honey is known as apitherapy and replenishes energy, increases physical vigor, and strengthens people weakened by illness or because of ongoing stress. Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 22 April 2015 — I have a friend from the old days who has a big heart, but a mouth even bigger than that vital organ. We meet a bunch of years ago when I moved to this neighborhood, and we bonded over our noble sentiments towards our fellow humans, animals and nature — despite our great differences insofar as ideas about homeland and liberty.
A few days ago she sent me, via a mutual neighborhood acquaintance, an unexpected message: “Tell Rebeca that if this time she will not vote, I myself will go get her and drag her by the hair, kicking her in the….”
Gross error, I told the messenger. Above all, I do not accept, under any circumstances, threats from anyone — but even worse, that type of message is one that only she can give to me directly, if she respects herself — and even less do I accept vulgarities. Taking advantage of the fact that the intermediary is a member of my block’s Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, I made the following remarks to her: Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 19 April 2015 — A magnificent professor of philosophy, deceased now for some years, of whom I had the honor to be a student, would invariably begin his classes with a saying. He would assert that all of life’s wisdom could be found in a compendium of Spanish popular sayings.
In an article published in the daily Granma, on 15 april of this year — a fragment of which I reproduce below — the First Vice President of the Councils of State and of Ministers, during his visit to the city of Matanzas, urged solutions to grave problems in education. He stated, “There is a deficit of 1,086 teachers, primarily in the municipality of Cárdenas and surrounding areas, and so far in this school year, 244 requested leave of absence…”
The Minister of Education remarked that, “One of the causes of the exodus of teachers, and of the current lack of activity, is the teaching overload that the teachers remaining in the schools take on.” The First Vice President also inquired about the construction status of the schools, 43.4% of which have a rating of average or poor.
How is it possible that only six months ago — when announcements were made with great fanfare in the press, radio and television about the start of the 2014-15 school year — it was said that everything (teachers, classrooms, uniforms and books) was ready? It is obvious that there were lies then, as there have been in all spheres throughout all these years.
As a recent highlight of this string of falsehoods, the decisive blow was administered by the official delegation, organized and prepared by the regime, to represent us at the recent Civil Society Forum during the Summit of the Americas in Panama. The prefabricated members of this delegation themselves were those charged with nakedly showing themselves with their wrongdoing and the marginalized way they acted before the press and international public opinion, exposing yet another of the great lies of the regime.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
Rebeca Monzo, 15 April 2105 — The 7th (of April) arrived. The Summit of the Americas in Panama and, with it, the invited and participating delegations started to arrive in the Central American country. The official Cuban delegation, one of the largest, had a good time organizing and preparing, under the optics of the totalitarian regime, making up a series of NGO officials, with the objective of making themselves look like the only Cuban civil society.
The inconceivable and unacceptable thing was to send characters well-known as loyal to the regime, pretending to make them pass as members of this civil society. Among them, just to mention the most known, was Dr. Eusebio Leal, the historian of Havana, Miguel Barnet, President of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and Abel Prieto, Adviser to President Raul Castro who, along with many others chosen, lended themselves to serve as bullies in the famous meetings of repudiation against the Cuban opponents, real members of nascent civil society, insulting them and even sometimes, hitting them and preventing them from leaving through the front door of where they were staying, having to remove them safely from the hotel by the kitchen and the backyard of the property.
These acts, absolutely unacceptable, have set a terrible precedent in front of governments of other countries, the international press, who have remained amazed before similar acts of marginality, vulgarity, and lack of respect to the host country. As my friend Mary would say: “They showed their trashy ways,” confirming with their deplorable attitude what the opposition from within the island has been condemning for years.
As if these abuses of power were not sufficient, they have tried to monopolize Jose Marti, as if he doesn’t belong equally to all of those born on this battered island.
Translated by: BW