Fearful Debates at “Topics” Magazine / Agustin Lopez

“Last Thursday”

Don’t talk about politics because they’ll hang you, but I hung myself first and talked about politics afterwards.

In front of me there are four panelists, I imagine that they’re people who are knowledgeable about the matter, prominent scholars on the subject of Cuba and its miseries, but full of demagoguery and revolutionary utopias, they were born, grew up, and came of age within the political fanaticism of socialism, submissive and obedient to the directives of the Party and the whims and the ego of the Maximum Leader, so they substituted their needs and looked for sustenance, listening to and making what was bad, and they didn’t deal with looking for what was good.  I’m not judging, I am trying to be just and find reason.

The debate presented today is: Bread winning: incomes and standards of living.
Maria del Carmen psychologist and scholar on the subject, presents the moderator.  Jose Luis Rodriguez prestigious professor.  Betty Anaya Cruz also an expert on the subject and the pompous reporter Yasley Carrero Chavez.

Between them they make a detailed presentation of income, salaries and standards of living.  At no time do they explain how to obtain a salary that covers the necessities, incomes that raise us to a dignified standard of living and earn us our bread in an honest, honored form.  Of course, the means don’t exist in a socialist system and even less in this mutation implanted in Cuba.  They concur that salaries only cover 50% of the necessities and the other 50% comes from other sources of income.  They don’t dare say that it comes from corruption or from selling or exchanging dignity and decorum for leftovers from the State.  If they make direct political critiques they’ll hang.

A leading official representing the State in matters of commerce states that: “Not even if they raise the salary several times will it cover basic necessities and resolve the problem.”  Fuck, I say to myself, why is this mediocre person here if he already committed suicide, he is more dead than socialism, I hope he goes home and runs his errands to the corner store, and to think that he represents society and has a prominent post.

The panelist Jose Luis Rodriguez uses data to show that people’s savings in banks have grown.  Wow! Damn! Now I believe that shame has a price in the stock market.
So I wrote my first question on a scrap of paper that was on the seats.

If the system implanted in Cuba is socialist, based in Marxism and Leninism, and I read in one of Lenin’s books that the salary earned by the worker in a socialist system serves to satisfy his basic material and spiritual needs within the society and still have a little left over for other enjoyment:  What has happened that this hasn’t come true, does the system work?  Could we reverse the situation without political changes?

I didn’t believe they would give me the floor for my question but they gave me three minutes in front of the microphone and so I repeated what I had written and I added these words about the increase in savings: Was it the honest and honored worked who had saved his salary?  The worker can’t save anything.  Therefore it’s not saving but robbing, embezzlement, corruption and other undignified forms of raising income.  

I understood that all this problem of salary and everything else has been engendered by a socialist system and we are going to solve it with more socialism; that’s like a doctor faced with a bacterial infection wanting to heal it with more bacteria.  Thank you I’m done.  

They finished by giving a social and economic tint to the debate, supporting the new reformist model, as always avoiding the subject of necessary political change.  Terror and demagoguery.  If they directly confront politics they hang.

TOPIC: What is the income? What is the standard of living? What is the relationship between them?

19 July 2013

Our Rivals Are Right / Agustin Lopez


We must cultivate our lands in the way our rivals cultivate theirs

At the end of a row of makeshift kiosks a colorful poster highlights Communist Party propaganda based on the economic reforms and new forms of production, its assertion inviting me to reflect, not like the usual reflections of Cuba’s ex-president Fidel Castro based in the imperial ideology, I don’t want to turn the reflection into a pollution, seeking the pragmatism that declared the history of the Revolution.

Rivals. This is a word that denoted opposition, conflict, attack, enemy and so it always was. They educate us creating a rival. The most powerful of the rivals in general terms is capitalism represented by the United States. Then there were the individual rivals, fabricated within the people. Christians, peasants, intellectuals, professionals, a friend, brother, cousin, neighbor, anyone who had the means and their own ideas and before obeying the the patrons of the politics implanted by the Revolution they obey the patrons of justice.

Most of these rivals were dispossessed of all their property and expelled to the United States, where they learned to make the land productive. Our rivals created a dignified and prosperous Cuban outside of the socialized Cuba of misery and corruption. Amazing and ironic. Now we must cultivate our lands like our rivals cultivate theirs, referring of course to the inventions of the great leader of the misery, his dynasty and his Communist Party, not the real rivals who were born with the Revolution, nourished on the Revolution, cultured within the Revolution, and crowned in the direction of the Revolution and today they are updating the Machiavellian model of socialism.

kioscosWhat are they? The cult of personality and power, the political fanaticism, inefficiency, negligence, incapacity, fraud, the double standard that is worse than the amorality, the hypocrisy, the like, the ideology based on a loathsome sense of hatred, the incapacity of the mediocre ruling over the talented. Those rivals were not imported from capitalism, nor the consequence of the blockade, most were created by power and the rest were imported from Russia based on Stalinism and some of Leninism.

The content is the imperceptible little sign outside the circle of the government demagoguery and the fraudulent politics of the party and those who placed it and it clarifies many doubts with regards to the official effectiveness of the system over 53 years.

Today I find on a poster the reality that we must cultivate our land like our rivals cultivate theirs, perhaps tomorrow I will come across another urging that we educate our children like our rivals educate theirs, and then another urging commerce like our rivals’, and another urging we reap freedom and rights like our rivals have and even find many everywhere expressing that our rivals teach us how to do things how they do because they’re right. But the most likely is that the reformist propaganda at the end of the kiosks, after this reflection is taken down they punish whoever posted it. Notwithstanding the resignation and lack of communication, like me, people can also reflect and discover that our rivals are enjoying the honey of power*.

*Translator’s note: When Felipe Pérez Roque, former foreign minister, and Carlos Lage, former vice president, were ousted, Fidel Castro commented that they had been seduced by “the honey of power.”

17 May 2013

Money is a Mighty Lord / Agustin Lopez

tampa sealimagesUnder the title “Tampa seeks to do business with Cuba” in the Miami Herald, we learn that Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen, Yvonne Yolie Capin, and Mary Mulhern, along with Kathy Castor, will soon be traveling to Cuba.

Castor traveled to Havana in the first week of April with a team of advisers and members of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), based in Washington DC. The group promotes strategies and solutions to end the blockade and normalize relations with the people of Cuba.

The program includes meetings with officials from the Ministry of Tourism and members of the official National Association of Economists of Cuba, the Catholic Church and the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The current owners of the fiefdom of Cuba.

It is hard to see how money buys consciences, rents ideologies and submits the dignity of peoples to the aberrant debasement of the perversity of the soul. Money above values, above patriotism, above justice, above freedom.

Unfortunately it is a worldwide epidemic strengthened by lust rather than by the needs, insatiable ambition that devours feelings, butchering the sensitivity of humans for humans. He who calls you friend betrays you, lies to you, assaults you and even kills you for a few coins.

While it is true that it takes money to do things, it is wrong to believe that to preserve the human condition and inherent values money is essential.

A few days ago I received a comment on an article written to several U.S. businessmen and city council members among them Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa who unscrupulously leads business negotiations with the dictatorial regime of the Castros. A few years ago they managed to open direct flights with an apparent sense of humanity without questioning the policy of human rights violations of communist rule. The comment reproached me for my negative attitude to the eradication of the blockade and the opening of travel of Cubans to the island, claiming that this policy had no effect and that the actions of the opposition had not accomplished much in 53 years. They almost expressed that this was the right to nourish the totalitarian government.

One thing is certain, the opposition, and has not had the recognition it deserves, nor strength enough to transform the political power, undoubtedly the traitors and betrayers of the same people for whom so many have been fighting. Reading the words didn’t make me angry, but sad, ashamed, humiliated.

How is it possible? I wondered, as there is little sense of dignity and justice in a group of entrepreneurs, Americans and Cubans, many expelled by the regime, having destroyed their families and led their people to denigration, now are able to gain some more coins to support the same dictatorship, with the same ideology charged with who subject a whole nation to the most cruel thefts and denaturation. How is it possible that those who went to beg alms from exile, because they were able to claim and exercise their rights, today sustain the same policy that denies the right of their brethren.

In fact there is a frenzy of activities, forums and gestures of goodwill towards Cuba. This is what happens in Tampa, a city with historical and commercial ties that date back to the nineteenth century. Tampa has about 100,000 residents of Cuban origin, according to the commentary of the Miami Herald.

It is amazing and humiliating that they use the term “goodwill toward Cuba,” continuing to confuse Cuba with the totalitarian government. Continuing to confuse Cuba with the Communist Party and the dictatorial regime without taking into account the will of the people subjected by force of power. Whoever does business with and makes goodwill gestures toward the Castros’ government has not done business with or made goodwill gestures to Cuba, but with those who have destroyed is as a nation and people and a country.

Cuba is changing and following significant market reforms that deserve to be taken into account by the United States, said the council members.

The dictatorship is mutating to a more open dictatorship, using many tactics. The people were deprived of all rights and remedies, and now they deliver some and seem to change and reform, but the essence of control by power, to subsuming rights and freedoms to force remains intact.

As Mauricio Claver-Carone comments at the end of the article: It is “an exercise in shamelessness. It is sad that with 34 democratic countries in the Western Hemisphere, these local councilors seek to be entertained by the only anomaly — a military dictatorship that violently represses men, women and children.”

6 May 2013

Another Fateful May 1st / Agustin Lopez

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Once again it is the first of May, once again the Plaza is filled, slogans that will never be accomplished, unattainable challenges, huge flags carried as if over coffins, people raising their fists and shouting against the ghosts of fear, and above, on the tribunal the tribunes, the Caligulas of this empire waving their arms like Caesars, hands up, hands down. Like petrified mummies. Perversity in those above and perversity in those below, and over the city the black wings of opprobrium.

Many eyes reflect indifference, others fright and confusion. There are those threatened at their workplaces with the loss of their little bag of goodies handed out at the end of each month with some toiletries, or with the loss of a few dollars added to their salary as a prize for fulfilling their monthly slavery, as well as those looking for the opportunity to leave on international missions where they could earn in a few years what would take their entire working life on the island, those who attend universities and others who have started working for themselves and who prosper thanks to corruption, also the heads of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution who, on every block, applaud the Revolution. All threatened with the loss of something they need. They have never thought that this lie of their existence denies their identity and blocks their salvation making them live in the most absurd and miserable way.

It hurts to see a nation whose modesty is accumulated in landfills and whose honor is in the sewers. Tomorrow they will return all to the same things, stealing, lying, cheating, corrupted to the core, humiliating themselves to beg for a modicum of freedom and a crumb of rights.

If the José Martí of the Plaza, in front of whom they parade, weren’t made out of stone he would have fled the city in terror of a Cuba so shameless and vile. I hope there aren’t many of these May Days left in storage for the future.

3 May 2013

Seeing Berta Soler off at the airport / Agustin Lopez





Between hugs, handshakes and some tears we said goodbye at the Havana aiport last night, Sunday, 10 March, to the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler.

She was accompanied more than fifty of these brave women and about thirty friends and admirers (including the political police brigade that never misses these events) but not along the the usual route of the Ladies in White through the streets of Cuba to demand freedom for political prisoners. Rather she is taking advantage of a part of Law No. 13, embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, violated for 53 years by the authorities of the Cuban government led by Fidel Castro Ruz, before, and now by his brother Raul Castro the leader of the Communist party, the only party allowed to exist under the constitution created by them and approved by fear. A violation that had motivated thousands of Cubans to make an out-of-control exodus in which many lost their lives trying to escape the dictatorship. For 53 years Cubans could only leave the island to work in international missions (serving as doctors and other positions), in sports delegations, or on cultural tours, all well-controlled by government authorities, but still many members risked desertion under the strict eyes of State Security. Thus numerous talents in all branches of learning and doing fled the island.

A few minutes before leaving this reporter asked Berta Soler two questions:

What will make you return to Cuba?

Berta: My commitment to my people, to political prisoners who remain in prison, to freedom. To demand the rights that are still violated by the dictatorship. I go out into the world only to bear witness to the truth of Cuba and to fight for our rights. We are not mercenaries as we are painted by the dictatorship but patriots, people of any social class who lose the fear of repression and hold to citizenship in search of democracy.

Are you afraid to return home?

Berta: No, not at all. Fear of the tyrant has plunged this country into misery, has made this people mediocre and isolated from the rest of the world, not knowing how to relate to their own brothers. Even the government itself has confessed that it has failed to create a generation within the Party capable of replacing the old and worn out satraps who govern. God willing, I will return to new streets, that do not belong to the Party, to a government or to a dynasty, but to all Cubans, those here and our brothers who have been banished into exile, because for me we have all been banished, expelled from out country, the land that by right belongs to us.

Now on the point of crossing over the high wall of the Revolution, her husband, Angel Moya Acosto, a political prisoner from the Black Spring Group of 75, hugs her and says, “Do the right thing, not one step back. Our best weapon is the truth. Give the world this message. We are here, waiting for you.”
Laughter, applause, excitement, and the cameras clicking, until the Afro-Cubana leader is lost behind the curtains of customs.

11 March 2013

Dust Thou Art and Unto Dust Thou Will Return. Until then, Manolo Rodiles. / Agustin Lopez

1359741636_dsc06050It is January 28, Monday, I get a call from Yoani earlier than usual, it was 7:55 am when she told me we should go by Rodiles’ house; she always thanks me as if my work were a favor and not an obligation, I was ready and found myself behind the wheel, at 8:07 I was already at the side of the container only existing in our imagination, a few minutes later el Indio and La Gacela got out, we went to pick up Regina Coyula and then Claudio in el Vedado, taking 23rd Avenue to 12th, which goes to the tunnel before coming out on 10th to First Street, then continuing on 60th to Rodiles’ house. A close look around suggests to me that the dictatorship’s henchmen aren’t around, or are hiding like rats in the sewers. The writer Angel Santiesteban opens the door to us and we exchange hugs and enter the house. I was immediately surprised by seeing the casket before me, I didn’t expect it. Continue reading

A Stupid Answer, Heaven is not Congested / Agustin Valentin Lopez Canino


Agustin, Eliecer y “la novia”

The boy stands to the side of the entrance, on his left is his girlfriend who has accompanied him to say goodbye. He carries a bag over his right shoulder and looks around as if startled. On the floor a dark suitcase where he’s packed maybe a few clothes.

Today I arrived at a very different airport from those many times in which tears of pain and impotence were like stones behind my eyes. Also my passengers had been other who didn’t flee, or retreat in fear and resignation of living in fragments terrorized by communism. Today the rivers of tears sometimes seen in the past, have decreased and undefined goodbyes sleep in the past. Many hands will be raised in goodbye but it will no longer be the solemn gesture of a possible eternal separation.

I return to the past for a minute. My daughter’s back lost on the other side of the dictatorship’s dingy hallway, having abandoned her medical studies so as not to get caught in the shackles of tyrannical government. Someone who loved her had paid ten thousand dollars to a network of human-traffickers, well-structured by corrupt state officials, perhaps all honorable members of the Cuban Communist Party. It was a payment for the exercise of one of the Human Rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration.

This afternoon I arrived there with some exceptional friends to say goodbye to Eliecer Avila, the young man who, with the ingenuity of the peasant who believes in integrity and respect for the human person, some years back publicly asked Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly, for a simple explanation of why Cubans cannot exercise Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the one regarding arbitrary detention — and the mediocre satrap with one of the most ironic stupidities by a representative of the Communist government, under whose direction a nation has been torn apart, its people enslaved and the country crushed: If we give permission for everyone who wants to travel travels, the airspace would be so congested: power not only corrupts it also leads to imbecility.

Those words, so offensive to the intelligence and contrary to the human condition of freedom, rights and justice for all, was the trigger. From that moment, the boy was selected for social exclusion. The boot of the tyrant was placed on top of him to squash him like a repugnant insect, but the boy under the boot turned into stone. It is the blindness of power, confuses butterflies for lions, humility for weakness, hatred for love, forgiveness for submission, and bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper, excrement and sewage for their own waste.

I approach him and give him a hug as if his veins run with my own blood and more. Later I ask him to answer two questions.

How do you feel to be traveling today and having been, I think, one of the first people to directly demand from a government official the right of all Cubans to travel?

Eliecer: Well, first I’m thrilled and second satisfied that in some way my desire to have a country in which, in order to change a law to better the country, no one has to do anything violent, disrespect anyone or start a war; it is simply enough to clearly express the opinions of the people and the leaders act in response to this. So I think this step, however small, can be very important in all of our lives.

Do you think that this form of peaceful demand is right for everyone, most beneficial for everyone?

Eliecer: For me it’s the only way to ensure a future of peace and harmony. I think that opening new wounds doesn’t close old wounds. Therefore, I believe that at least for me, respect and dialogue will be my only attitude.

Thank you and I wish you success, I tell him.

No longer the naive peasant (and I say this as the greatest praise), who asked Alarcon with kindness, respect and decency for the right corresponding to the human condition, not from the pressure of the independent press, giving to know the reality of the day-to-day life, the strength of the opposition under the prison regime, the exclusion, exile, discrimination and open repression in criminal acts of barbarism, we would never acquire this right. It’s good that we don’t incite to violence, but the government has never been willing to transparent and respectful dialog with people who think differently, and until this is achieved, what is left in Cuba will continue to live in bondage and uncertainty.

When he was nearly inside the NBC cameras approached. Some curious people approached and asked who this character was, but the people don’t know anything beyond what the hypocrites, demagogues and perfidious dictatorial programs say in official discourse.


This has been one of the largest and most efficient achievements of the Revolutionary press, hiding the truth and hiding the sons of the nation that make it honorable behind the word mercenaries. Its essence was the betrayal of decency and ethics.

I hear a taxi driver who works for Cubataxi for hard currency ask another, “Why don’t they take a picture of me?” And the other one answers, “You want to lose your job?”

Once inside the terminal a young woman approaches Yoani and says to her, “You’re Yoani, right? I’m from Spain and I read your blog.” The painful irony of love. What is freedom. Most travelers are Cubans, none has come to greet any messenger of freedom. The people you love the most, for whom you demand their rights, some ignore you and the majority don’t know you. Your people for whom you have risked everything and for whom you write, and they don’t know who you are.
The dictatorship has been charged with murdering information. But we have the consolation of Christ crucified by those he came to save. The young man who went to Europe today with the right of return, shows his ticket, delivers his suitcase, raises his right hand and is lost behind a door.

We turned around and left the airport, I looked up at the sky looking for airplane congestion blocking the view, but all I see is the afternoon light dispelling the darkness of the foolish minds of tyrants who rule the people by force of power and not through waving the flag of freedom.

This time I entered the airport happy and left happier, I had fulfilled a promise I made to myself when I watched my daughter leave with tears in my eyes. Today I melted but with passion and love, not for feeling shame on my conscience for having betrayed my people.


4 February 2013

Chosen Roads. Roads to Freedom Part 3 / Agustin Lopez

Emigration: the road to freedom with no destination, shipwreck, despair and death: the price of escape.

The people of Israel, that is like saying God’s people, emigrated from Egypt. The Creator led them to “the promised land flowing with milk and honey” to deliver them from the slavery to which they was subjected for over two hundred years.

Migration is a human habit, always with the hope of a promised land. Erroneously in most cases when we emigrate we believe we are taking the the path of freedom because we freed ourselves from something that has been oppressing or subjugating.

Wars, famines causing disasters, pandemics, major droughts making vast areas of land inhospitable, and dictatorships, are causes for men, or people, to migrate.

But of all these the less justifiable and most aberrant, which denigrates the human condition, is the emigration caused by dictatorships, and the foolish, clumsy and ruthless rulers who lead them. Continue reading

The Banished Wise Men Return to Cuba / Agustin Lopez #Cuba































Although the boy forgot to put a note under the bed for the Three Kings, the father wrote: I don’t want any more governments that rob children of their innocence. It’s a few minutes before 2:00 when I walk into Neptune Street, towards the home of the late Laura Pollan, made God put here in the place of glory she deserves and that, she was not given here in Cuba, in her country, by the government, the dictatorship and the people from their cowardice.

A purulent stink massacres the afternoon with the patchwork of sun hidden behind grey clouds. It’s not cold, hot, or windy, and people seem to have taken the miserable landscape by assault. At the corner of Hospital Street the taxes that pre-date the Revolution are a symbol of the stopped development.

Some uniformed cops practically drag a man with his hands cuffed behind his back to a patrol car parked on the left. It’s the usual operation, almost a tradition with the Castro-Communist power around the block when there’s any activity in the house of the fallen leader of the Ladies in White, to block access to those interested.

So I put the car between two taxis, looking confused but trying to go unnoticed. The gentle little voices of the three girls in the back seat touch my soul to think that they stop us, they’re trying to block us from reaching for the celebration of Three Kings Day, that Fidel and the Revolution buried in the mire of his evil imperial chauvinism after taking power by means of arms.

Traffic continues and I cross near the police car taking a sideline at the face of of the man arrested feeling that it could be an opponent I know, but I couldn’t tell. I was wrong, I say again after having passed through the danger zone. Danger Zone! and again I say: I was wrong, a danger zone for those who think differently from Castro Communism is different from any place within the island. I stop the car in front of the door, the schoolteacher’s humble little house is full of children and mothers.

I take the camera and start shooting bullets of happiness for the children leads and deadly for the dictatorial power. A picture is worth a thousand words, say the sages of the photographs but today does not fulfill the adage because I can not translate the pain of the past in them. The soul flies and falls like a wounded bird on the crumbling reef of the Revolution.

First it was this: the toys were disappearing from the shops,the last ones were taken for a robber’s ransom by the revolutionaries. Then they appeared in the ration books followed by anxious days of waiting for the truck transporting them. Later moms and dads ran in disarray to the doors of the shops to form terrible lines of several-day of insomnia.

After some brainy revolutionary came up with the idea of changing the queue for the assault to the counter, then when the doors opened, if before that the push of the mob the shop windows didn’t shatter, the crowd threw itself on the counters that often were detached and mobbed the place. People went mad and fought until police intervened who were still respected because they hadn’t entered into the corruption of this.

The more educated and decent, not because of their grades befor for having a deeper training in respect, remained to the end and took the simplest toy for their children. They were usually the peasants, Christians, along with “people of rank” as the middle class is called in a derogatory manner by the Communist populace. As the years passed respect was forgotten and those who didn’t leave, banished into exile, were added to this rabble that accumulated in front of stores when the day of the Magi approached. Of course, the real magi — the wizards — were the parents and what they had to do to give their children a toy.

They have brought a clown with a tangerine for a nose. Children are crushed together, sitting on the floor, I think of the powers-that-be, the vandalism of the acts of repudiation, the beatings, handcuffing the Ladies in White and not letting their admirers pass, they close the street to traffic with uniformed officers and plainclothes officers at the corners, with the brazen and shameful statement that they are providing “protection”. Today they forgot the “protection” for children, infants whose parents do not share the ideas of the powers-that-be do not need “protection”.

Laurita is dressed in white and standing in front of the little ones to say in a few words about the reasons for the celebration. Mentioning the sensitive teacher, her mother, who for many years gave her heart and soul to the education of children, had her believed people and then the only alternative left to her by the ruthless Castro-power was to launch herself into the street with other wives and mothers asking freedom of their husbands and children sentenced to decades in prison for the sole crime of exercising their rights pertaining to the human condition and despite all that tragedy, the day of the Three Kings is not forgotten for the children tormented by the powers-that-be.

On mentioning the Ladies in White the Clown, scared, exclaims: “Oh, this has to do with the Ladies in White”. Listening to I smile with the joke and he says: didn’t you know?

I think of saying, “You’re at the center of things, you ended the antics, you’ll lose the tangerine nose”, but it seems he is really scared and if he gets more scared he could run out and forget about the children, he too; then there doesn’t seem anything left to do for the clown and I don’t know if it would work.

The funny man exclaims: “Well, I’m a Christian I have nothing to do with politics.” The justification of fear of power with Christianity: a magnificent and widespread way to avoid responsibility with social justice.

“Me too,” I tell him. I’m an Adventist.”

“You’re in trouble if they know. It’s Saturday,” he exclaims.

“’Suffer the little children to come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ says the verse,” I say. The clown is unresponsive and is pondering his situation or perhaps in anticipation of possible future problems to continuing with his work. Will this Christian practice Christianity? I wonder. He doesn’t know that for God nothing is hidden and that the Christian works for God first and then for men. I remember the lesson of December 13 of the book Growing in Christ which says: Render therefore to all their dues…    (Rom13:1-7).

“The Christian puts God first in all things, and evaluates every action and accountability from this perspective. So he opposes discrimination in any form, even if it is officially sanctioned. While Christians pay taxes, participate in civic duties, respect traffic laws and regulations on  property and cooperate with civil authorities to control crime and violence.”How many times at the door of this house violence been committed protected by or exercised by the authorities? I wonder.

I remember it like it was yesterday: my mother one day, after many sleepless nights in front of one of the shops the managed the heroic triumph of bringing a blonde doll my sister. It came in a pink box and outside it said: “Lily”. A great feat by my mother working for the State in a pizzeria, sometimes days and others at night. More than 10 hours a day to receive a miserable salary at the end of the month.

Since children were forgetting the tender little notes left under the bed on the eve of Epiphany. Now the naive childish illusion of the coveted toy and the conformity that, the day after it was received, was absorbed by the Communist cannibalism. The imperial ideal Fidel Castro was accumulating in the dustbin of history the most naive traditions of a people.

The clown seems to have forgotten his shock and pulls out a puppet that makes children laugh. He puts on a big mouse head and makes fun competitions rewarded with toys, by a Santa Claus who has appeared at the time. He dances, jumps for joy and more laughter again swallows all the noise of the ruined city of zombies and the restless. The timid clown ends carefully and takes the children out to the sidewalk to take a picture.

I’m afraid that a Communist mob of security agents and university students will appear, as officialdom alleges and that all will end in tragedy. Adults are placed in front of children to prevent one of the cars that drive more than 30km/hr from running over anyone. We get the photo and return inside. It’s time for the presents. The Kings banished into exile by the dictatorship and other people of good will have provided a gift for each child, and they do not have to shout a political slogan, put a pioneer scarf around their necks, reciting a combat poem or express hatred toward the U.S. The little blond haired boy, son of the opponent who disappeared in suspicious circumstances is rolling a beautiful truck down the sidewalk in the company of another toddler.

“It’s the first toy he’s received since he was born,” says his mother.

The memories continue to flow, as the process was advancing today Communism the Day of the three Kings and the toys were disappearing from the tradition and the stores. At some point there were replaced by an emerging clandestine artisan world after the State was reluctant to acknowledge the need.

It is not for the common good of the children but to raise taxes before the inability of the State to control the theft of raw materials. So some children could play with rustic toys, while others, children of honorable uncorrupted parents looked on with desire and sadness.

Berta Soler and Laurita finish handing out the the gifts and a kiss to each child. Now the photos speak, but not more than a thousand words because not as many little Cuban children cry without a toy because their parents are not corrupt, or mixed with the indignity to the denigration of their humanity; for whom a rag doll, horse and wooden machete, yoke of oxen made from Coke bottles and cart made from an empty sardine can, of a day gone by when for  rich and poor there was for a day of kings.

The sun is setting and by the gray the yellow swallows the white and the shadows of the architectural blog of the revolutionary feud have been dragging and deforming to form grotesque figures, too rancid to assimilate without reluctance. The children ended the raffle and the pinata spilled from its belly candy and dolls that  disappeared in the desperation of cries and little arms that extended until they touched their lost dreams.

Later, when the sun is almost buried in the horizon, the cake that was hiding in cardboard boxes and jam was enjoyed by everyone and eaten with great relish. The clown sitting in a secluded little place remained undaunted as if in a state a nostalgic ecstasy he had drunk, or a court had sentenced him to one hundred years of solitude. Then I saw him pick up his head and his puppet mouse and head down on the sidewalk while I followed him with my eyes to the corner praying to God so he would not lose his tangerine nose the the hands of state security and could continue to make Cuban children laugh.

Agustin Lopez

January 7 2013

Foreign Journalist Are Afraid to be Seen Covering Dr. Biscet’s Emilia Project / Agustin Valentin Lopez Canino #Cuba


This Wednesday, January 9, a new project comes to light from one of the organizations that dare to claim rights and freedoms under the most strict censorship of the state, repression and prison. Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet convicted in case 63 of 1999, in the case 662 of 1999 and finally in case 15, 2003, tried and convicted in Case 16 of 2003 to 25 years in prison, a part of the group of 75 and the fatal and infamous Cuban Black Spring.

President of the Club of Friends of Human Rights, he proposes a legitimate government is based on constitutional grounds and on respect and unconditional exercise of the 30 articles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Cuba as a State is a signatory.

As most of the projects launched by and for freedom and civil rights are considered constitutionally illegal and the State reserves the right without rights to judge them as punishable offenses. That is why each time they do not cease to monitor and guard by well-armed police well supported in the media and agents prepared for espionage and prepared to use force with impunity as the government desires. This case is no exception.

It’s about 10 in the morning as the sun burns outside as if it were August, the foreign press accredited in Cuba arrives and, as usual after the rise to power of Fidel Castro by force of arms in 1959, foreigners will receive information about the events that occur within the island, which will then echo back through a small part of the people in the society interested in receiving the information, the rest might die ignorant, which is a characteristic of totalitarian regimes to maintain power.

The activist who serves as moderator starts the event, and offers an introduction. Some journalists who have been left behind accidentally or deliberately arrive in those moments, I don’t know them and my camera has stopped working to cover as a journalist authorized by the host to take their pictures.

From the ethics of courtesy I give up my space in the small room but they did not accept it and stayed near the door. Dr. Biscet begins the reading of the document entitled Project Emilia, and as he finished he gives way to the moderator’s questions. After the conference while Twittering the journalist identified with the F agency and her companion called me aside, with the peasant’s innate ingenuity they approached me and I offered my hand, my imagination ran on Christian transparency and fraternity, but what was not a surprise was to find myself questioned about my identity and presence.

An agent of the State Security could not have done a better job with that work. As I have said before anyone asked me my identity, and even written in my blog, I said I do journalism but I have no title, nor belong to any agency, I publish on my blog. The problem is that we’ve taken photos of ourselves and of the journalists and they don’t want to appear is association with the event. I do not let them finish the sentence and first for decency, and then ignoring the ethical rules of journalism, I felt embarrassed and try to give them my camera with great ingenuity to erase the unwanted photos, did not take it and I opened the small visual display to let them make the selection at will.

Lili, my wife who was with me, objected to the humiliating demand with which the reporter flaunted his journalistic profession to teach me. Everything was there, later I realized that these correspondents had also violated my right to freedom, none of the photos had been made with any evil intention that they noted, much less were they alone in them.

With regards to the submissiveness and subservience to the interests of the State of the accredited press corps in Cuba have made several critical assessments. Fear, I think, sometimes, of being expelled and losing the privileges coupled with substantial governmental perks added to the life of kings or princes which the job allows them to enjoy, most shun being present at and covering events where Cubans decide to protest and engage in civil disobedience.

This is one of the reasons for the emergence of more accurate and credible citizen journalism  which reports from when and why things happen. More than a journalism of news it has become a journalism of justice for the people inside and below.

The two previous reasons, fear and ambition could occasion a demand from the journalist representing the F agency whose name I’m not sure was was Andrea Rodriguez and the young man who accompanied her, have demanded that I remove the pictures where they dimly appear.

If we meet at another public event which is very probable I beg them to come wearing a hood or to stay away from my lens so that I won’t have to voluntarily erase one more photo from my camera with which I delineate part of the current history of Cuba, for which I face the risk of repression or prison, a story I don’t think interests them very much since they don’t get paid for it.

As I never grossly manipulated a photo contrary to justice or to treacherously denigrate the honor or dignity of a human being, attributing to the image some motive of mockery or slander, I take advantage of the occasion to recommend that at a public event any citizen who falls under the shutter of my equipment, without regards to the social strata he belongs to or the job he holds within the government, will only through a compassionate act or violent force get me to give up my images.

The audio of the press conference will be posted soon, due to technical problems it could not be posted now.

11 January 2013

Interminable Poetry / Lilianne Ruiz #Cuba #FreeSantiesteban

Luis Eligio d'Omni reading his poetry at Yoani's and Reinaldo's house

Luis Eligio d’Omni reading his poetry at Yoani’s and Reinaldo’s house

Last Friday a group of  us friends met at the “Y Scares Vultures,” as Agustín calls Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sánchez’s house, for the penultimate round of the Endless Poetry festival. The poetry reading started this time with Luis Eligio d’Omni reading a poem of his to Celia Cruz in slam style, as attractive as The Letter of the Year which opened the festival with the slogan “Love your rhythm, rhyme your actions. Poetry is you.”

Agustin Valentin Lopez reading his poetry at Yoani and Reinaldo's house

Agustin Valentin Lopez reading his poetry at Yoani and Reinaldo’s house

Agustín waited 20 years, isolated and rebellious, to read Mi Tengo to be published in the next issue of the magazine Curacao 24. Reinaldo Escobar, usually Magister Ludi, chose a very beautiful one titled Motivos del Lobo (Reasons of the Wolf), that I am going to ask him to repeat here. And El Sexto believing in Things Unseen, as tender and unforgettable as his graffiti.

Reinaldo Escobar flanked by Yoani Sanchez and Luis Elegio d'Omni

Reinaldo Escobar flanked by Yoani Sanchez and Luis Elegio d’Omni

It was the time of fellowship, because we are all joined a similar fate in many ways. As I remember Munch’s The Dance of Life, so I felt that night, because I can reproduce every hour in my memory from the influence left on me by the conversation with the swell of sympathy.

Liliane Ruiz + Angel Santiestaban at Yoani and Reinaldo's house

Liliane Ruiz + Angel Santiestaban at Yoani and Reinaldo’s house

The tide threw me up on Ángel Santiesteban’s beach. All we Cubans have to defend ourselves with against the system power of the dictatorship of the State is our solidarity. Angel faces a fate* that threatens to swallow him alive. Everything that the prosecution charges him with to remove him him from public life, which is the true final objective of end file prepared by State Security, has been manufactured against him by the system itself. I ask again the solidarity of many people and I hope to write about the case a later post.

*Translator’s note: Recent posts about the prison sentence Angel faces are here, here, here and here.


Liliane Ruiz

January 4 2013

Update on Arrest of Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar, Agustin Lopez (and others?) in Bayamo

Police blockades outside the court. Source: EFE

Site manager’s note: The following excerpts are translated from an article in Cubaencuentro.  In addition, an official government blogger reported that Yoani traveled to Bayamo intending to disrupt and put on a “media show” at the trial of Angel Carromero, who was driving the car in which Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were killed.

For those who are unaware, Yoani is a correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, and was intending to cover the trial. Oswaldo Paya’s children also traveled to Bayamo, and according to tweets from Rosa Paya, his daughter, they have been prevented from attending the trial. Also note, Agustin Lopez has been reported in some tweets to be Agustin “Diaz.” Finally, the Paya and the Cepero families have specifically stated that they do not hold Angel Carromero responsible for the car crash.

From Cubaencuentro:

The well-known Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez and her husband, thejournalist Reinaldo Escobar, among other activitists, have been arrested this Thursday in Bayama, reported the official journalist Garcia Ginarte and it has been confirmed in Twitter by several sources on the Island.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo on his account on the social network, who says he received the information from Teo, Sanchez and Escobar’s son. According to what Teo Escobar told the blogger, the activists were detained at 6:00 in the afternoon and were not permitted to make telephone calls until 3:00 in the morning, the time when his parents called him to report their arrest.

5 October 2012