Pre-Mortem / Regina Coyula

Image from mundodesubikado.blogspot.com

(After seeing a meeting of Cuban bloggers at City University of New York (CUNY))

I clarify this is pre-mortem, because the Spiritualist Congress here is not going to believe that it is my ectoplasm who speaks for me. And as for post-mortem, I don’t believe in it, the only post I give credit to is coming from my keyboard.

The cathartic need to express an opinion, at first led me to write steadily at a rate of two, three or even four weekly postings. I thought about everything, and consciously, although diffuse, fixed a position, which does not necessarily have to be aligned with anyone, so I had (I have) affinities and disagreements with friends and strangers, officials and dissidents.

When the heady sense of freedom derived from expressing an opinion or connecting to the Internet ceased to cause me anxiety and insomnia, I lowered the crest of that wave with the desire to compare views with real people, whether or not they had a (better) way of thinking like me.

My long-time readers will remember the opinions in the form of the posts I dedicated to responding to the blog La Joven Cuba (Cuban Youth), an experience that more than once made me “get serious” and pull our my History, its sister Philosophy and its cousin Ethics. I stopped commenting there when I realized that the young people from Matanzas were not interested in an open-door exchange with someone with a different position.

After complaining and suggesting rules of behavior; not wanting to use censorship, unable to use moderation, and unable to interact with the opinionated, I stopped having expectations about the comments area of the blog as a space for debate.

I thought to find in Estado de Sats that physical space, but this being our society where freedom of expression it so restricted, Estado de Sats proved to be sufficiently transgressive as to merit a warning (prohibition?) for anyone with a governmental affiliation.

In Jueves de Temas* (Thursday Topics) they identify opinion trends, people committed to the future of Cuba, but the selection of the panel, having to ask to permission to speak before listening to the guests, and the two hours allotted, don’t allow any possibility of “hot” debate.

And I’m not usually a good speaker, so I return to the blog. I also use Twitter, this tool so valuable in our state of non-communication, only to try to supplement what you are doing now, with what is happening now.

I feel so comfortable with my blog what I visualize myself older (that is, as a little old lady) writing about recipes, or the grandchildren, although it will be difficult not to write about everything — especially — to speak about the evils of the government of the time.

*Translator’s note: “Thursday Topics” was a discussion space in the officially sanctioned Cuban culture organization La Jiribilla, but it was cancelled in 2012.

27 March 2013

I, Citizen / Regina Coyula

The Laboratorio Casa Cuba makes a very interesting proposal, a space of which I have vague references. Invited to give my opinion, I sent some ideas after a first reading. We are many who dream about Cuba, although our dreams might be like life: diverse and even opposed; the challenge is in finding consensus.

I invite you to enrich this proposal with your opinions. (labcasacuba@gmail.com)

Translated by: JT

22 March 2013

The Violence that Touches Us / Regina Coyula

I believe I have successfully crossed the threshold of the 21st Century, a century that I prefer to believe more inclusive, comprehensive, and cohesive. After having been educated in certain social and ideological intolerance, I’ve gotten past them. My lesbian friends — they aren’t my friends so I can be “tuned in” — rather because their friendships enrich my life. I have other friendships whose political or religious posture could make us enemies, but for a long time my values of good and evil are established according to my beliefs; no more will I leave in other hands the thinking I should be doing for myself.

Gender-based violence just hasn’t not disappeared, but it remains buried, and sometimes so much so in our machista society, where the publicity campaigns look very pretty on the posters and audiovisuals; but looking at it closely, or listening to reggae music, you see it like a persistent bad weed.

The quantity of women with whom I’ve discussed this subject who have confessed to being victims is alarming; victims of the passions of a boss and of the consequences of rejection, and the higher the position of the boss, the worse it is for the woman; some end up giving up and almost all remained silent about it in shame because they (we) were educated in blame.

It might seem contradictory from the above that I should defend Ángel Santiesteban. As I have known him for many years, and I’ve taken interest in this case from the beginning, I allow myself to doubt the transparency of the trial and the objectivity of the witnesses, and I allow myself to think that the accuser has been manipulated, “another subtle form of the exercise of violence.”

I see a group of intellectual women passing judgment on this case of which they do not possess sufficient evidence, despite adding that … nobody can judge these facts without knowing the depth of the damage …. I want to point out a quote from a letter these intellectuals circulated on International Womens’ Day … whoever uses these theories is reproducing aggression; like those who blame the victim of a rape of having provoked her aggressor.

It’s inevitable for anyone who knows even minimally the hostage state to which the Ladies in White have been subjected to keep that in mind. On the margins of political beliefs, to ignore the copious testimony of the violence exercised against them, is to blame them for having provoked their aggressor.

It’s not enough to bring focus on the phenomenon through a particular mention of an alleged act of violence and a general mention of the rest of the violence against women in our society.  Anything one might do with this approach isn’t enough, given the environment tainted by the stereotypes in which we’ve lived. It won’t be with a bland and superficial reading of a text filled with ironies that the poet Rafael Alcides might write that the struggle for equality and respect. will be won. Equality and respect for women and for any other form of discrimination.

Translated by: JT

15 March 2013

In Baseball / Regina Coyula

My worst fears came to pass. Holland has us sized up. Like the majority of readers pontificated, we aren’t going to the next round. I’ll leave it to those who know the analysis of factors of the defeat of a team into which so many resources were invested. Marginally, my personal impression is that the charisma of Victor Mesa was adverse to the team and applied additional pressure to that it already carried. Differently than those who are happy about it, I so lament not being able to see them play in San Francisco.

Translated by: JT

11 March 2013

Angel Santiesteban and the Handwriting Expert / Regina Coyula

Angel and Regina

Angel and Regina

In Minority Report, the precogs were used in the pre-crime unit to predict possible murders. Already the presupposition is morally questionable while at the same time familiar as we have seen in our own Penal Code the “crime” of “pre-criminal dangerousness.” But can graphology emulate the precog, or at least can prove with scientific accuracy that traits of a criminal personality, or criminal, can be detected through handwriting? The answer is categorical and is negative.

I speak advisedly. Certified as an expert in documents at the Central Laboratory of Criminal Science, my specialty was handwriting. Many books have been written on the subject that “prove” that the handwriting reveals personality traits still hidden or that one tries to hide. Always using familiar characters, whose life history is closed and whose biographies have been widely documented to “prove” what their handwriting reveals in this or that characteristic. But nothing can be found in the wide literature on this subject with respect to a single systematic study of the relationship between handwriting-personality, and if there is, it is greatly subjective.

It is possible to establish the authorship of a document, because handwriting is a somewhat scatterbrained sister of the fingerprint in its individuality; by the same principle it is possible to detect a forgery, although there are fakes with a high degree of complexity and elaboration that shed a false positive. By the handwriting may know the approximate age and sex. Writing reveals, among other things, personality traits, cultural level, if a person is writing with their other hand, if they try to disguise their writing (for which there must be a comparison between two or more documents).

I find it irresponsible and manipulative to present at a trial an “expert” to certify by the handwriting of a paragraph, that a defendant has such and such a tendency in his personality. With a mere glance at a piece of paper copied reluctantly and under pressure, an expert certifies in court with his statement that the accused has the characteristics necessary to convict.

Graphology is a pseudoscience. No crime lab expert could offer an unproven statement by a photo-tableau illustrating their expert conclusions. To do so borders on the ridiculous: the case of my friend Angel Santiesteban, was judged in advance.

March 4 2013

A Personal Theme

I am against war. All weapons, but especially nuclear ones, seem to me to be an aberration. The armies should be disbanded and spend their budgets to solve the problems of hunger in the world (an issue in which the Vatican would be decisive with its influence, but above all with its wealth). I believe in an economic independence that guarantees political independence. I see the United States as a neighbor. And here I apply the same principle as in my neighborhood: I say Good Morning, I help if I am needed, I ask for help when I need it, and if I don’t like the neighbors sticking their noses in my business, I don’t stick my nose in anyone else’s.

Trying to go along with the new century, I like to think of the global village, and whether you live in Africa or in Europe, it makes no difference. I know we have a long way to go, at worst the natural state of man, as history shows, is one of confrontation. But it is now with the visionary and arrogant heads of state that we find a balance between our ambitions and the common good. And how good it will be when we define the common good as that of humanity.

The fact that I have absolutely no influence in these events makes this a rant, a catharsis, that I write one weekend for people I don’t know and who don’t know me, but if my readers take the smallest thing away from this, it could be a butterfly effect, and if not the youngest, their grandchildren, or beyond, will see the result. That is, if some lunatic hasn’t already pressed the button.

An Iranian Theme

Just the fact that I am a woman makes me look with disfavor on the current government of Iran. As a housewife who reads, I remember that the era of Mohammad Reza, with everything bad that could mean, signified for the Iranians the opportunity to emancipate themselves. I do not know very well what happened after Khomeini, but the Revolutionary Guards persecuted those who had opposed the Shah but did not agree with the fundamentalism of the Ayatollah, and in this purge of Persian society many Communists were killed. And for women, they imposed backwardness, the role of object, all at the expense of the most ferocious repression in the name of Allah.

It would be worth remembering who pulled the strings behind the Iran-Iraq war of the eighties. It would be worth asking why Mr. Ahmadinejad does not want to sit down to talk now, but would be willing to do it later.

And certainly it would be worth considering if the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

A Korean Theme

I would like to discuss a detail that I do not know, which the rest of the world has been reading about. The Korean heir must not have been very convincing on his trip to China following allegations about the sinking of the Cheonan, in that China voted against North Korea in the Security Council.

I still remember when that son of his father claimed to be developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes. I do not know if the poor Koreans will have electricity from the atomic plant, but their president has the Bomb. If he lied then, I don’t know why he wouldn’t lie now.

Second Calls Are Never Good

In a previous posting, I had commented on the entrance exams for university education, which this year were a disaster, so a second call was made to compete for places that were not occupied by the kids who passed at the first opportunity. For this second call they gave reviews from May until now. The test should have taken place on Thursday July 15, but when the students arrived in the classroom, the test had been suspended. It soon leaked out that the suspension was due to the questions leaking out. I cannot imagine a bunch of kids executing a robbery Mission Impossible-style; rather I see a tempting wad of money passed with discretion under the table. Do you remember a recent post titled “Explode“?

Binomial of Three

Frank Delgado and Buena Fe have made a record together. I like the chemistry of these artists a lot, they have a very good eye for looking and for making music which is catchy and makes you think at the same time. The first song, Extremistas Nobles, from which the record gets its name, is a statement of intentions. The songs of love (and loss) are excellent, Retazos de amor, and especially the bachata song Loco por ti have beautiful lyrics. I have always been a fan of Frank Delgado, a rebellious singer who hasn’t been broadcast as much as he deserves precisely for that- he answers back. The duo of Israel and Joel, who are also among my favorites, have had a successful career starting with Sicología al día, and even though they have been marketed, broadcast and received several awards, some of their songs have been censored; but beware: the young crowds still sing their songs and fill their concerts.

This new record is a mix between both styles, which makes it very unconventional. Lacking any pictures for this post, I post here the lyrics for Cubannolito.

Please visit rockason.wordpress.com. I wanted to post some audio from the song here, but I didn’t know how to do it.

Hey, my brother, how come nobody wants to be Cuban anymore

And everyone is busily searching for their ancestors

Do you remember the black Marcelo, all dark and with long grelos

He got a blue passport*, yes, because he’s got a Basque great-grandfather.

Patriotism comes with many strings attached, I’ve been a Cuban for four generations.

The Spanish are achieving what the Gringos couldn’t

Maybe next year we’ll already be subjects of King Juan Carlos.

Nor was it that the Bourbons managed to be a panacea

But they got into the parade and now they’re the door to the European Union.

Perucho Figueredo** points his arrow up. It so happens the Spanish anthem doesn’t have lyrics.

I say what I think: Little Spaniard, say pal what’s up, or low grade Cuban.

And so I find many acquaintances, practicing this new sport, running with the whole family to make sure nobody ends without a passport.

And since it comes with the right to vote in spanish elections, their candidates will be coming to campaign in Cuba.

The good things and the bad things. Fighting to paint or to fade the flag.

If you’re Cuban they will bust your balls (with a stone). The voice of command has a Spanish accent.

When you finally get to be a Spaniard you’ll feel important, you’ll finally be able to travel and even open an elegant restaurant.

What I would like the most is a trip to Spain, but everyone is going from the slum to luxury, it’s becoming a crowd. To the Nigerian embassy!

Translator’s Notes:
* Spanish passport.
** Composer of the Cuban national anthem

Translated by: Xavier Noguer

Telephone

Since I started this blog I’ve felt like never before the isolation produced by not having a phone line. It’s not that I didn’t want one. If blame needs to be apportioned to anyone or anything besides the boycott and the imperialist menace it should be to my husband who never wanted a phone line when he was still an active member of the Cuban Artists and Writers Union (UNEAC for its initials in Spanish). His reasoning was that the telephone ring, the same as the door ring, would upset the state of grace in which he needed to immerse himself in order to write. By the time he knew about answering machines he was already a “writer on hiatus” as he likes saying, and despite my begging he didn’t want to ask for a letter from UNEAC avowing his condition as a founding member of the institution. For those who are lost at this point of the story, I have to clarify that the telephone company is in charge of deploying new lines, but only after being authorized by the Poder Popular Municipal, which is more or less the equivalent of a city government.

Somewhere around six years ago, and without my husband knowing, I went to UNEAC’s literature section and filed a written application for e-mail service, to be “anchored” to the telephone line from my mother’s house. I was told back then that it would take some time because of upgrades on the CUBARTE server taking place at the moment, and I never got an answer afterwards. It seems that my husband doesn’t meet their criteria on reliability, or they knew beforehand that he wouldn’t accept the signed user agreement included in the contract, which implies that no information criticizing the government may be sent or received.

I’m considering now applying for a mobile phone, but I haven’t decided yet, for as long as there are no fixed tariff plans, which is what I really want, a mobile phone may be a luxury or a necessity depending on circumstances.

Translated by: Xavier Noguer

Sports Chronicle

I

Bishop Ortega as a striker just made the decisive goal after a pass from Moratinos. Key in making this play was the impressive defender Fariñas and the timely intervention of the regulars always dressed in white. Once again the team play and short but effective passes, end in victory.

II

Something unprecedented has happened. On the occasion of the World Cup, young people have flooded several of the capital’s downtown cinemas to watch the games. They have created a stadium atmosphere with flags, t-shirts, posters, wigs, makeup, and even the grating vuvuselas have appeared in Havana to break the monotony of the first evening of this summer vacation.

III

And while my sympathy is with Guardiola and Barca, from the beginning of the World Cup I put my hopes in Spain. And they didn’t  let me down against Germany, it’s not important they didn’t have more goals; the match was so nice, so effective was the famous tiquitaca, that I think yes, on Sunday instead of shouting GOOOAL! the sportscasters are going to cry OLEEEEEE!

Guillermo Fariñas in the Newspaper Granma

Saturday’s Granma newspaper featured an extensive interview with the doctor treating Guillermo Fariñas at the hospital in Salnta Clara. I was overwhelmed by so many technicalities. Although the interview does not mention figures, I sense that so much attention could cost a considerable sum of money. Money that could be saved.

The unusual presence of such information in the official media tells me that Fariñas is in critical condition and the defensive posture of the government will focus on showing Fariñas died because of refusing to eat, because the doctors did everything to avoid it. And that is certain, but it is not the truth.

In his hunger strike, Fariñas is not asking anything for himself. Fariñas calls for medical parole of sick prisoners. Prisoners who attacked no barracks, who placed no bombs,  that was bombed, who executed no enemies, who undertook no kidnappings. Inmates who continue to pray to Marti, a man who said: a man who does not dare to say what he thinks is not an honest man.

I have discussed with my family and friends, the impression it makes on me that Fariñas does not want to die but is prepared to die. The cries will come for the  intensification of the media war, and garmets will be rent at such an injustice. But the death of Guillermo Coco Fariñas will be a shadow over the current Cuban president everywhere he goes because he could have avoided it.

Railroad Will

Cuba is a long and narrow island, with discrete mountain ranges along the coasts, ideal conditions for a good railroad. We were pioneers in this invention and being a colony of Spain, we had it before the metropolis. We should have an excellent rail network, it is an economic means of transport, ideal for the conditions of our poor country.

For many years the rail service has been awful. The trains are almost never depart or arrive on time, to the point of adding hours to a trip the farther it goes. Using the parcel service is to risk losing the contents of the package, whether by loss or damage, especially with food.

Once in the dark train cars, the bathrooms stink, the snacks are third class, I recall that you can travel in local currency, if you want a better offer, it’s in in foreign currency. You have to get used to the speed reductions, frequent stops and being shunted to sidings.

The condition of the roads has led to some very powerful and publicized locomotives, acquired from the People’s Republic of China, that can barely run at 30 kilometers per hour.

As already announced, 6,000 kilometers of roads will be rehabbed in the next three years. Elementary arithmetic tells me that fto accomplish that goal 5.5 km must be completed every day per day, a more frenetic pace than the train. The new vice president, Lussón, is the one who is going to resolve this complex issue of recovering the railway. He has experience in the field, as a young man he served as Minister of Transport. I wonder why it hasn’t been maintained all these years?

Fresh Air

The first time I heard of Carmelo Mesa Lago, he was a Cubanologist seconded to a Center of Diversionary Political Ideology as it was called at the university where Mesa Lago was a researcher in the ’80s. A very dangerous man as I recall. Years later I met Mesa Lago again in his collaborations with the magazine Encounter. Reading it, I understood his bad reputation of old. He is a diligent researcher with serious scientific method and data, necessary to reconstruct the map of the Cuban economy and an essential reference for scholars within and outside Cuba.

Just two weeks ago Carmelo Mesa Lago was in Havana. It seems that as part of the visit of Monsignor Mamberti, they authorized his visit Cuba. They didnt’ want to tell the Church no. At the Fernando Ortiz Foundation, Mesa Lago touched on interesting themes, among others, the need for dialogue, and of having partners for this dialogue. Like one who doesn’t want things, he talked about an issue that will occupy us in the future: dialogue among all Cubans. And that dialogue must be use the colloquial language spoken by siblings after they have gone a long time without seeing each other. Thank you very much to Carmelo Mesa Lago. For its part, the proposal is made.