The Problem Is Not the Packaging / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 23 March 2015 — Many years ago when I worked at an advertising agency named Marketing, Research and Public Relations, Inc., its head — Enrique Cuzco — would often say, “A bad product won’t sell no matter how good the advertising is.”

In an effort to get young people to actively participate in the current electoral process, the National Electoral Commission recently decided to give responsibilty for the entire public relations campaign to a group of young journalists, designers and artists, figuring they can speak a common generational language.

Cuzco’s words immediately came to mind.

If anyone thinks that by designing more colorful and attractive “packaging” he will better be able to sell a low-quality “product” such as the Cuban electoral process, he is wasting time and resources. Continue reading

Intransigence at Any Cost / Fernando Damazo

Fernando Damaso, 16 March 2015 — When a phenomenon is analyzed, or a historical occurrence or any important matter, this analysis should be done objectively evaluating all its components, be they internal or external, without a priori positions, keeping in mind their positive or negative aspects.

Yesterday marked another anniversary of the events which occurred at Mangos de Baraguá on March 15, 1878.

The Baraguá Protest, mounted by General Antonio Maceo and other generals and officials of the Cuban Army of Independence [in the 19th Century against Spain], as a response to the Pact of Zanjón, has been included by history as a symbol of intransigence for Cubans. The virile gesture by Maceo and his comrades deserves the greatest respect — even though it did not correspond to the actual status of the struggle which, except for within the jurisdictions of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, had waned, primarily because of the exhaustion of the Mambí forces, the internal divisions within Continue reading

A Vote for a Good Appearance / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 25 February 2015 — A journalist has written in a government daily about good appearance — not to demand it, but to question it. She focuses her question on advertisements by certain private businesses, which read: “In search of a young trabajadora [female worker] of good appearance.” (I will add that there also are ads which ask for “young trabajadores [male or non-gender-specific workers] of good appearance.”) In any event, the request is not as limited as the writer describes it, but let us get to the point.

Upon this weak foundation begins her argument regarding discrimination by gender, age, skin color, whether a certain type of figure is required, whether women are objectified for commercial purposes, etc. These are well-known claims, being repeated as they are Continue reading

Regarding the Massive Dumbing-Down / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 20 February 2015 — It has lately become fashionable to speak and write about the need for combatting negative cultural trends that, as is to be expected, arrive from abroad, mostly from the “empire.” This practice has increased since December 17, 2014, when it was announced that diplomatic relations would be re-established with the “empire”… sorry, with the United States government.

Nobody with any sense can bet on the vulgarity, the bad taste, the alienation, the extremisms of all types, the violence, and other ills, but much care must be taken when deciding what is negative, and who determines this. Let us remember that for years this country prohibited foreign music, and to listen to it constituted a crime. Continue reading

Are Interference and Solidarity the Same? / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 11 March 2015 — The words “interference” and “solidarity” have been used interchangeability, according to the political-ideological interests of those who employ them. As a result, the United States practices interference in the internal issues of other countries, and Cuba practices solidarity, which is nothing more than interference under another name.

Just like the extinct Soviet Union did during the “Cold War”: its political interference in its “brother socialists countries” and, armed interference in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan were acts of solidarity or, as it was called then, “proletarian internationalism.”

Cuba has practiced interference, disguised as solidarity, in Latin America and Africa, organizing guerrillas Continue reading

A People Without Representation / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damas, 7 February 2015 — The great tragedy of the Cuban people at the present time is that it lacks true representation. I speak of the average Cuban citizen, who constitutes the majority of the nearly 12-million inhabitants of this Island.

The government, which during the first years of the 1960s signified hope for a better life in a democracy for Cubans, very soon (with the imposition of socialism and its later institutionalization and bureaucratization) began to abandon its representation of the people’s interests and separated itself from them — being preoccupied instead with establishing and consolidating the institutions, organizations and mechanism to perpetuate itself in power indefinitely. Today the regime finds itself separated by light years from the average Cuban Continue reading

Adopting Other Terminology / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 7 March 2015 — According to official pronouncements, conversations between the governments of Cuba and the United States are proceeding in a serious, respectful and substantive way regardless of the fact that each party is defending its own point of view.

But what is striking is the way representatives of the official media continue to use the worn-out terminology of the Cold War by repeatedly parroting terms like anti-imperialist, anti-annexationist, anti-colonialist and other anti’s from the voluminous repertory crafted by the international left. Continue reading

Are There More Than Enough Reasons? / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 16 February 2015 — The Young Communist League (UJC) is a government organization, established and directed by the Party and the government, with the objective of controlling the youth of the Island politically and ideologically. It proclaims itself the sole representative of young Cubans, similar to how other government organizations operate in this totalitarian system — such as the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), who consider themselves to be the representatives of all Cubans, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), which purports to speak for all women, and Continue reading

There Are Differences / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, Havana,30 January 2015 — When considering the future development of the contacts between the Cuba and United States delegations who are brokering the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, profound differences between the two participating groups become evident.

While the North American delegation represents a democratic government, the Cuban one speaks for a totalitarian Continue reading

The Law of the Funnel / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, Havana, 3 February 2015 — Following December 17, 2014, and the first working meeting between the United States and Cuba delegations to reestablish diplomatic relations and find solutions to other questions that affect both governments, the Cuban authorities have framed the event as a victory.

They say it is a result of “almost half a century of heroic struggle and faithfulness to the principles of the Cuban people…thanks to the new era in which our region lives, and to the solid and brave demand from the governments and peoples of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).” Once again, the false triumphalism that has given us so many headaches makes an appearance.

What goes unmentioned is the courageous decision by the president of the United States and the measures which Continue reading

Institutional Crisis / 14ymedio, Fernando Damaso

Meeting of the National Assembly (Neo Club Press)

Meeting of the National Assembly (Neo Club Press)

14ymedio, FERNANDO DAMASO, Havana, 22 January 2015 — Among so many crises that affect us, little is said about that related to institutions. In the Republican era, there existed institutions that, without being perfect, worked. If it had not been so, the country would not have developed in the way that it did. When the new regime was put in place in 1959, instead of being perfected, most of the existing institutions were liquidated or their spheres of influence were reduced for the purpose of initiating other new ones on bare ground. Even the family, considered a principal and primary institution, did not escape, being dismembered and atomized to respond to political and ideological interests.

An institution can be many things. There exist formal and informal institutions and, in both cases, they are always social constructions. They must be efficient, that is to say, capable of functioning well, having legitimacy, being able to adapt to changes in the environment and anticipate changes besides demonstrating stability. These components must act together if they want to get results. In the Cuban case, stability has turned into a kind of brake that impedes the necessary changes, giving rise to ossified institutions. The majority of institutions established in the last fifty years suffer this infirmity, mainly the economic, legal and political ones. Continue reading

Mutual Respect / Fernando Damaso

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States has been well received by the majority of Cubans both within and outside the island. Although it represents only the first step in solving the dispute between the two governments, it provides the basis for achieving a normal coexistence between close neighbors, both geographically and historically.

During the process of resolving this dispute, it is hoped that steps will also be taken to resolve another dispute: that between Cubans and their government

As expected, there are those who do not agree with this first step, who reject it and will do everything possible to make it fail. These people are found within the governments of both countries, as well as among the internal and external opposition. Some have lived too long under this dispute, and it is too difficult for them to give up what has become a way of life.

I am referring to government figures, who have made careers for themselves taking advantage of the dispute, enjoying the perks, experiencing neither shortages, scarcities, nor the “Special Period,” and also some opponents who, although it has cost them a great deal of work, have benefited from it, through media attention, economic assistance, and the occasional trip abroad.

This is also happened with some Cuban-American politicians, Both Democrats and Republicans. It is a well-known reality and cannot be ignored.

Those of us who are committed to change and have as our main objective the well-being of Cuba and all Cubans, without any kinds of differences or exclusions, I call on to fight to overcome the obstacles that undoubtedly will appear, and to advance this process.

It is noteworthy that, in recent days, in the press and in the Government-supported blogosphere, there have appeared some articles which, instead of promoting understanding and good relations, try to fan the flames of discord, recalling difficult times in recent history, where the only culprit, with or without evidence, continues to be the American government, while Cuba continues to play the role of innocent victim: they appear to be stuck in the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf

If we really want to have good relations with our neighbor, and so the language of the barricade and of the ignorant, used for so many years, should begin to vary: respect, to be effective, must be mutual.

18 January 2015