Fidel is a talented, egotistical guy who hates the Cuban people / Augusto Cesar San Martin

Huber Matos, photo by Augusto César San Martín

Huber Matos, photo by Augusto César San Martín

Havana, Cuba — Hubert Matos is a symbol of the struggle against the tyranny that has dominated Cuba since 1959.

As an admirer of his rebelliousness and perseverance — something that characterized him until he drew his last breath — I resolved during my visit to the United States in January of last year not to go home without interviewing him.

We quickly settled on a date for the interview, arranged by Cuba Independent and Democratic (CID), an organization that he founded to bring freedom to his homeland.

With the help of a 17-year-old student, Christopher Campa, to capture the images of the meeting — he filmed unedited images — we’ll see three generations in his house in Miami. The same home which welcomed him on October 2, 1979, coming from Costa Rica, to where he was exiled by Fidel Castro, and in which country he asked for his body to be temporarily interred, before being placed to rest in Cuba some day.

Huber Matos gave us four hours of his precious time to explore his indefatiguable life, which he committed fully to Cuba.

Before his physical loss, we forwarded Cubanet fragments of the interview, taking notes of the transcription of the video.

Cubanet: I understand that your name has something to do with the life you have lived.

Huber Matos: “The first thing you should know, or the most important in my life, is that they gave me a name the kids said was unique — “Where did they get that name Huber from?”

“Before I was born, my father read a book by a Swiss-German researcher, biologist and naturalist named Francisco Huber. I used to say, “What does that have to do with me?” The man was blind by the time he began studying the lives of honeybees. He spent twenty years studying the subject with the help of two assistants and wrote the most definitive book of its era on the subject.

“That persistence, that strong will of that man… that means you have to be strong inside,” said my father. And that’s how me raised me.

Christopher Campa, Huber Matos and Augusto Cesar in Huber’s garden.

“One cannot soften oneself, one cannot allow oneself to be defeated by adverse circumstances … The life of a human being has one principal function that goes beyond saving one’s skin.

“So I owe a lot to my parents and teachers. It is not happenstance that I could withstand 20 years in prison. Of course, there’s the luck factor. If, in those beatings they give … once they almost split me. They made deep scars on my neck area.

Cubanet: But you also trained values as a part of the Cuban magisterium.

HM: “I spent years training teachers in the normal school in Manzanillo. We were some 20 professors training teachers, from the first year though the fourth. Trying, not only to give them knowledge, but also to train conscience in my case.

“I told them: The Republic is an entity that must be built day by day. Each of you has a role to play, not only to teach reading and writing, and teaching arithmetic … helping to train the citizen in the field which corresponds to him. Help form a conscience.

“As a youth I was afraid of prison. Once they condemned a relative to one year, 8 months and 21 days because he’d taken a girl and didn’t want to marry her. He asked me to visit him in prison. “Cousin, get me out of here”, I told him, “this is insufferable”. Afterwards I had to tolerate 20 years in prison.

Cubanet: You were incarcerated due to a sinister and vengeful trial during the beginning of the Revolution. Linked to events like the death of Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the dark chapters of the revolution. Do you feel hatred towards the Castros, declared enemies of yours since then?

HM: “With all certainty, I tell you in a very sincere way, the question of hatred no, it’s a rejection and some unsettled scores. But I subordinate that of the unsettled scores to the harm I’ve done to them and they are doing to Cuba. In my personal order of things, I’ve overcome all they’ve done to me.

“When I left a free man, I could have accepted recognition at the international level. Afterwards, when I wrote my book, I noted that in my story.

“Right now they’ve called me to Mexico to recognize me as a Hero of Freedom in America”, I told myself “Boy, I didn’t expect this … I think this is beyond my rights, what I deserve.”

“Anyway, I think that in some form it’s a recognition of the demand of the Cuban people for respect of their rights. I try to cover the unsettled account (with the government) with the Cuban people.

“The Castros killed Camilo. I have no proof, but I know that Fidel had tremendous jealousy of Camilo, for his popularity. He wasted no opportunity in the months I was in office, from 1 January (1959) until 21 October, which was when I resigned, to impress me with Camilo.

“Fidel traveled all the provinces twice. I was the boss in Camaguey. No two weeks passed without Fidel calling to tell me something … the two (Fidel and Raul Castro) were determined he’d form some part of the government, or perhaps the Minister of Foreign Relations, or Minister of Agriculture, at the beginning, when they were talking of agrarian reform. In all their conversations with me they were always trying to impress me with Camilo.

“Camilo was a guy the people applauded, but he was disorganized, drunken … I was Camilo’s friend, and I’d tell him: “Take care, you know that Fidel eulogizes you in public, but in private he says nasty things about you.” Camilo didn’t put much stock in that.

“They took advantage under cover of my resignation to see if my people were trying to kill Camilo. Afterward, they took advantage of my situation to eliminate him.

“How they killed him, I don’t know. That which I do know is that they killed the pilot and bodyguard. I can’t affirm how they killed him because I don’t have the evidence. Camilo got in the way of Fidel’s popularity.”

Cubanet: Have you been afraid?

HM: “I’ve been lucky to be a man who doesn’t scare easily. In more difficult situations, I haven’t backed down.

“At my sentencing, I was convinced they were going to shoot me, they were going to shoot me for proclaiming my truth. If they didn’t shoot me, it was because they made a mistake. They brought a lot of people to encourage my execution, so they would shout “To the wall!”, and it happened that when I stopped speaking, they applauded me. And they applauded me because I said: “Okay, if with my death the true Cuban Revolution is saved and the republic is saved, then blessed be my death.”

Cubanet: You know intimately the how attached the Castros are to power. Do you think Raul has the will to change?

HM: “A change to survive them. One always has to expect the chance of deceit, of the trap. Because they’re two individuals who, although they differ much in their personalities, they team up to scam the rest. To deceive the rest and leave with what’s theirs.

“Fidel is a talented guy, an egomaniac who with all certainty harbors a tremendous hatred of the Cuban people, which no one can explain. He hates and detests everything that is not in his self-interest. His taste for dominion and power traps all mankind.

“Raul is very careful to make sure of this and that, he’s organized. Fidel is chaos.

“They’re being flexible in matters of maneuvering here and there, but if they find a seriously adverse situation, they will ensure it’s invented on the way. That is Raul Castro, in my manner of seeing, the man I know and have known through his pronouncements.”

Cubanet: If I told you to send a message to the new generations of Cubans, what would you say?

HM: “That it’s worth it to make the maximum effort to implement the ideals of the founders of the Cuban nation. In a true republic, as Marti said, “with everyone and for the good of everyone”.

“What exist and what the Castros have imposed on us is something, but not a republic. The opposite of the ideals that inspired the mambises, the founders of the Cuban nation. This one (Castro) has a fiefdom, a whorehouse, a colony, a farm — something — but not a republic.

“The compromise with the founders of the Cuban nation and the compromise with the values that inspired them is permanent. Service to collectivity.

“I trust in that. I don’t know if it will take us 20, 15, or 100 years more to achieve a real republic. It’s worth the trouble to make the maximum effort for that achievement.”

Cubanet: Does Huber Matos still have things to do?

HM: Before I die, although one never knows if death will come tomorrow or the day after, I have to write a few more things. I’m taking it from there. I can’t afford to fool myself, 94 years isn’t a very short time.

“I wrote the book How the Night Came; now I have to write how we want the dawn to come out.

“I still have a little understanding, but doubtlessly the almanacs are respectable.”

Cubanet, 28 February 2014. 

Translated by: JT

Collapse in Havana Leaves More Than 600 People on the Street / Agusto Cesar San Martin and Pablo Mendez

Building in danger of total collapse — photo Augusto Cesar San Martin

HAVANA, Cuba. — Since the afternoon of last Thursday the 27th, the residents of the building located at 308 Oquendo, between San Rafael and San Miguel, Centro Havana remain on the street.

The partial collapse of the upper floors put in danger the structure of the five story building of 120 apartments.

From the first concrete crashes, the more than 600 residents began to abandon the property, transferring their belongings to the street.  Facing the imminence of total collapse, the local authorities ordered an evacuation.

The residents keep doors, bathroom tiles, toilets, electric appliances, beds and all kinds of belongings on the street.  These people have not been evacuated.

At 7:00 pm on Saturday the police ordered the electricity cut off and prohibited entry into the building until Sunday morning.  The order caused a disruption for the residents who have not finished gathering their belongings.

On Friday, local government officials met with some of those affected.  According to one of the victims, they made assurances that they would evacuate everyone gradually.

One of the building’s residents who did not want to be identified told the independent press said:

“We don’t know where to go.  Yesterday nine buses came by here in order to take us to shelters, and they were empty. . .  We want homes, not shelter.”

It is also known that some affected families were installed in apartments of buidlings located in Santa Fe, Playa township.  The provision of dwellings is prioritized by the composition of nuclear families with children.

The building constructed in 1928 was declared in danger of collapse in 1988.  All the victims consulted agree on the reiteration of the government alerts about the deterioration of the building.

Photo gallery of collapse in Centro Havana, sent by Augusto Cesar San Martin and Pablo Mendez

1 El-derrube-en-los-pisos-superiores-puso-en-peligro-la-edificacion-420x5052 Edificio-desalojado.-2.3-53 Edificio-desalojado.-2.3-1 4 Derrumbe-1-feb-2014-5-400x505Cubanet, March 3, 2014, Augusto Cesar San Martin and Pablo Mendez

Translated by mlk.

The Internet Isn’t Eaten, But it Feeds / Agusto Cesar San Martin

HAVANA, Cuba – In the first half of the year the ironic character of the restoration of some of the people’s rights will be perfected with Internet for cellphones. Cubans will have access to the network from our cells, in proportions equal to the costs of unattainable hotels, real estate and cars.

The government announcedthat the cost of activating the service will cost 5.40 CUC. The cost exceeds the 4.50 CUC Cubans have topay for the same concept to connect to the Internet in one of the navigation rooms.

In its 54th edition of 11 November 2013, the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba established official service prices. Every Kb downloaded will cost 0.0005 CUC, which is 5,000 CUC (125,000 Cuban pesos, more than $5,000 USD) per gigabyte.

El servicio que ofrecerá la única Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), no solo inspira en los cubanos la crítica negativa de los precios. Existen dudas sobre la afirmación oficial de que el servicio multiplicara el ancho de banda y alcanzara velocidades semejantes al resto del mundo. La desconfianza de un servicio óptimo se sustenta en la tecnología GPRS instalada en el país que ajusta la capacidad hasta 2 Mb.Un ex funcionario de ETECSA, que solicitó omitir su nombre y profesión, explicó al

The service offered by Cuba’s only Telecommunications Company (ETECSA), not only inspires negative critiques of the prices. There are doubts about the official statement that the bandwidth and speeds will match those of the rest of the world. The lack of confidence in an optimal service is based on the GPRS technology installed in the country that adjusts the capacity up to 2 Mb.

An ex ETECSA officia, who asked me not to mention his name explained, “If you have 2 Mb in optimal conditions (which he clarified there never are) and three people connect with you to the GPRS, and you divide 2 MB by 4, you have 500 Kb.  A low bandwidth because what the towers permit is very limited.”

“You have a 4G phone in Cuba and the most you can get is 2 Mb because the cellphone transmission system is GPRS,” he adds. To the specialist, the service announced is not only limited, it’s one more highway robbery of the user.

“In Italy the LTE norm of 100 Mb costs a flat fee of 30 euros. At that price you can download whatever you want simultaneously,” and he added. “To install LTE in Cuba, they have to change the antennas, the base radio, the central…”

Terrifying prices

To inquire about rated we talked to ETECSA’s office of commercial information. The official identified as Lucia alleged she had no information about it. For her, the topic is an unknown.

“… We have no information for the user about what is going to happen in the future, nor when it could be (the Internet) for cellphones… Martha, Lucia’s supervisor, explained that there is still no “guidance” to explain to the users about the information offered by the Official Gazette and the Round Table on television.”

ETECSA sources unofficially revealed that the prices announced by the government could be open to discussion. For Cubans to download a page of 1 Mb could cost 5.12 CUC, perhaps a few cents less if it’s HTML, just text. A modest volume of downloads of 10 Mb a month would cost 51.20 CUC (1,280 Cuban pesos).

Robbing the poor

The disinterest and ignorance of people about a service that they can’t afford makes it hard to talk to them about it on the street. In a four of the so-called cellphone clinics visited, those present were unaware of the details published about our new service.

Raul, a sports teacher, referring to the prices announced for cellular Internet, said, “They remove the prohibitions from the legal point of view and establish them from the economic side.”

A Chinese tourist named Kwang, said that in his country there were plans for contracting Internet service on a cellphone. He added that he pays 7 dollars (42 yuan) a month for the service. “I never focus on the kilobytes I download, I just have it,” said the foreigner.

Josvany, 24, who sells TV antennas in the street, explained his interpretation of the prices based on what people are saying in the street. “You put 25 CUC into an account, and in four months you have to recharge it even though you haven’t spent it.” According to the young man the recharges are made from abroad.

With prices so far from people’s reality, the government returns services that have been prohibited for years. The right of Cubans to stay at hotels on the island, to have a cellphone, to sell their property (houses and cars), and the Internet, to mention a few.

In this respect, Osvaldo, an unemployed restaurant worker, summarized in his opinion, that of the people. “They can’t eat cars or the Internet. They have to start lowering the price of food… They (the government) want to fill their pockets with the poverty of the people.”

Cubanet, 20 February 2014 |