A Dead End / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 24 May 2016 — Historically, Venezuela has been a country of dictators, as have others in Latin America: Simon Bolivar was one, regardless of his merits as the Liberator of America from the Spanish yoke;  and then the Monagas brothers were (1846-1858); followed by Guzmán Blanco (1870-1888), Cipriano Castro (1899-1908), Juan Vicente Gómez (1908-1931), Delgado Chalbaud, Marcos Perez Jimenez (1950-1958), Hugo Chavez and now, in the process of learning, Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro’s pedantry, his attempt to be Chavez’s “designated” successor, his accelerated loss of popular support, the unassailable triumph of the opposition in achieving a majority in the National Assembly, the systematic setbacks of his operation and, now, the overwhelming number of signatures collected to proceed with a midterm recall referendum, plus his economic failures, have made him hysterical, inventing conspiracies, economic wars, interventions and other absurdities, products of his fevered mind and those who guide him from inside and outside the country. As Uruguay’s former president Mujica said, “He is madder than a goat.”

To this is added the environment around him which is not favorable: Argentina without Cristina Kirchner and with Macri, Brazil without Dilma Rousseff and with Temer, Evo Morales unable to be reelected, Correa responsibly dedicated to the his country’s recovery from the earthquake, and Cuba getting worse all the time.

As if that were not enough, the institutions and organisms created by the Latin American Left (UNASUR, ALBA, CELAC and others) in the years of splendor, for their mutual support and to maintain themselves in power, ignoring those existing previously, are in the doldrums, having lost their main sources of economic support, and very little has been done, other than some passing some generic declarations, more formal than real, to make it clear that they are still breathing, although they are in intensive care.

Maduro blames the opposition, the “empire” the OAS, Uribe, and the many who criticize the problems in Venezuela, but forgets that it is, above all, he and Chavism that is to blame. With Maduro and those who sustain him in power, Venezuela will not emerge from the political, economic and social crisis in which it finds itself.

Servile Talents / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 10 May 2016 — “There is really no spectacle more hateful than that of servile talents.” (José Martí, Complete Works, Volume 13, Page 158, Cuban National Press.) I wanted to start these lines with this thought of the Apóstol [Cubans refer to Martí in this way], as many of our intellectuals, some of them with famous names, have joined the flock of government sheep, without having any need to do so, taking an active part in its campaigns of disinformation and manipulation of the people, going so far as to commit acts of violence against those who think differently to them, and demonstrating an aggressiveness which is foreign to them and does not fit well with their personalities. Continue reading “Servile Talents / Fernando Dámaso”

Two Absurd Terms / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 4 May 2016 — When I hear the elderly political leaders talking about the irrevocability and the permanence of Cuban socialism, I feel sorry for them, thinking about how everyone in the world with at least half a brain must be laughing at them. It’s clear that nothing made by man is irrevocable or permanent.

Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin, just to give four examples from history, thought that their ideas and regimes would indeed last, and, nevertheless, harsh reality demonstrated how wrong they were. It seems that there is a lot of historical illiteracy about.

To think that Cuba could be the exception, is absurd. Albert Einstein stated “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity.” It seems like the latter is flourishing.

Having hurriedly included these terms in the Constitution means nothing, since Magna Cartas can be written and unwritten. Without looking any further afield, how many have been revoked or changed in the last few years in Latin America? It will happen in Cuba too.

It seems that political leaders who consider themselves to be intelligent people, when their final hour draws close, try to cling on, to make sure everything continues in accordance with their wishes. Once again, harsh reality demonstrates that this rarely happens, although sometimes change is slowed and delayed more than it should be.

This Cuban-style socialism, imposed with so much enjoyment, constructed with so little seriousness, will disappear like a failed monster, and it will do so because it has plunged Cubans into misery and destroyed the country.

Translated by GH

Cubans on the Borders / Fernando Dámaso

Cubans are once again crowded along the border between Costa Rica and Panama. the Cuban government, as usual, blames it in the “Cuban Adjustment Act” and ignores, as always, the real causes: Cubans don’t believe in the promised “prosperous, sustainable and irrevocable socialism” and, even less, in their old political leaders.

The political, economic and social situation, instead of improving, has continued to deteriorate, without the appearance of any intelligent measures that could turn it around. Everything goes back to words, slogans, recycled speeches and empty promises, by the same “historicals” responsible for the current crisis and their national and international spokespeople. Continue reading “Cubans on the Borders / Fernando Dámaso”

Between Transfusions / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 13 April 2016 — It is no surprise that the Cuban communist party is sick. The run-up to its 7th Congress unleashed a campaign of “transfusions” in a effort to revive it. These included excerpts of old speeches from the front pages of Granma that addressed the subject, opinion pieces and even short editorials on the same topic and lastly an item with the suggestive title “Without the Party the Revolution Could Not Exist.”

A revolution is a process that lasts for a certain period of time. It is certainly not eternal nor does it drag on for fifty-seven years. The Cuban Revolution lasted, more or less, until 1975 or 1976, when it became institutionalized. After that, it was just a government, the government of the Republic of Cuba. To continue referring to it as “revolutionary” is nothing more than an ideological addiction. Continue reading “Between Transfusions / Fernando Damaso”

Turning the Page / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 4 April 2016 — Given President Barack Obama’s intelligent proposal to leave the past behind, turn the page, and together build a better present, some Cuban fossils have cried to the heavens, or to hell, go figure.

After the Revolutionary War, Cubans and Spaniards, who had fought a bloody war, with real fighting and not mere skirmishes, shook hands, agreed on mutual forgiveness and dedicated themselves to building a Republic “with all and for the good of all.” This was possible because José Martí’s ideas prevailed, a man who always proclaimed love over hatred and rancor. Continue reading “Turning the Page / Fernando Dámaso”

The Changes Are Yet to Come / Fernando Dámaso

Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez
Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez

Fernando Damaso, 23 March 2016 — At an event with Cuban and foreign journalists on March 17, the Cuban foreign minister — one of the dullest and most lackluster persons to hold this position — once again stated that “all the changes in Cuba took place on January 1, 1959.”

The minister seems to take it for granted that the so-called “generation of the century” has the right not only to exercise power but to do so forever. He forgets that five generations of Cubans have been born since this one, many of whom feel no attachment to these “historic figures” or their actions, and that these younger generations have the right to change what they they feel should be changed for the good of the country and its citizens. There is no “historic debt” which must be paid. Continue reading “The Changes Are Yet to Come / Fernando Dámaso”

A Before and After / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 29 March 2016 — The official journalists and the functionaries of the Cuban government, all in chorus, just to prove that the Guantanamo Naval Base is illegal have taken up against the presidents and Cuban governments from the years 1903 and 1934, years when the status of the installation was, respectively, signed and ratified. There is talk of appeasement, surrender and other accusations against facts, institutions and people who belong to history and who no longer physically exist.

However, no one said a single word against the installation — behind the backs of the Cuban people and without their approval — of Soviet nuclear missiles in the national territory in 1962. Nor about the installation of the “Lourdes” Radar Espionage base, nor about the deployment of a Soviet motorized combat unit, also without the approval of the Cuban people. Continue reading “A Before and After / Fernando Dámaso”

A "Privileged" Artist / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 15 January 2016 — Personally, I have nothing against the plastic artist known as “Kcho,” be it against his values or his work–a task I leave for specialists–aside from the fact that his recurring little boats and oars leave me cold.

The reason for these lines is that “Kcho” seems to have become the “preferred artist of the kingdom”: his paintings, installations and other works are regularly presented as gifts from the authorities to foreign and national personalities, as if there were no other national plastic artists whose works would merit this special treatment. Continue reading “A "Privileged" Artist / Fernando Dámaso”

No Red Carpet for Obama in Cuba / Fernando Dámaso

President Obama being greeted at the airport in Havana (AP Photo)
President Obama is greeted at the airport in Havana (AP Photo)

Cuban authorities receive every “political whippersnapper” with pomp and circumstance. But not Obama.

Fernando Damaso, 20 March 2016 — In my family they always told me that when someone visited the house, the principal figure should personally receive the visitor, as a show of culture and respect.

It is striking that none of the principal Cuban authorities, who have always received with pomp and circumstance every “political whippersnapper” who has visited the country, have not been present at the airport for the visit of President Obama: no salutes at the foot of the steps, no red carpet, no honor guard, no marching band, no presidential 21 gun salute. It was a manifestation of rudeness and disrespect. Do they think, perhaps, that this is a way to show their “populist friends” in crisis their independence and sovereignty. Crass mistake.

I imagine the media, echoing around the whole world this huge politcal “gaffe.” Is this how they intend to improve relations between the two countries?

It seems that the Cuban crisis is not only political, economic and social, but also one of intelligence. Poor country. Each day change becomes more necessary, if we are really going to save ourselves.

A Strange Visit / Fernando Dámaso

Nicolas Maduro meets with Fidel Castro on the eve of Obama's visit to Cuba. (abc.es)
Nicolas Maduro meets with Fidel Castro on the eve of Obama’s visit to Cuba. (abc.es)

Fernando Damaso, 19 March 2016 — The big question this weekend has been, “What made Nicolas Maduro and his entourage come to Cuba, two days before the arrival of President Barack Obama?

Besides being an unannounced visit, unlike normal procedires, the objectives put forward are laughable: “To sign cooperation accords for the present year (we are already in mid-March), and for 2030 (by someone whose days as president are numbered).

Also notable is the great display by the Cuban authorities, with an official reception ceremony (this character visits Cuba every month), more handing out Continue reading “A Strange Visit / Fernando Dámaso”

Relationship is Not Simply Acceptance / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 8 March 2016 — At the 31st Ordinary Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which met in Geneva, the delegation of the Cuban government, headed by Mr. Pedro Nunez Mosquera, Director General for Multilateral Affairs and International Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), was upset because a few days before President Obama’s visit to Cuba, Mr. Antony Blinder, Undersecretary of State of the United States, pointed out some outstanding issues for the Cuban authorities with regards to Human Rights, such as the importance of the Cuban people being free to elect their leaders, express their ideas, and enjoy a flourishing civil society. Continue reading “Relationship is Not Simply Acceptance / Fernando Dámaso”

A Highly Questionable Constitution / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Dámaso, 29 February 2016 — The current constitution — ratified on February 24, 1976 and with significant amendments added in both 1992 and 2002 — was based on document developed by the executive committees of the Council of Ministers and the Politburo, and submitted to the chairman of a drafting committee created for this purpose.

Unlike the 1940 constitution, it was not drafted under the direction of an elected constituent assembly, one in which the full range of political opinion — from extreme left to extreme right — was represented. Nor was it debated article by article before being adopted. Continue reading “A Highly Questionable Constitution / Fernando Dámaso”

Straight Talk About Cuban Baseball / Fernando Dámaso

baseball logo downloadFernando Damaso, 19 February 2016 — After the foolishness of Cuba baseball at the recent Caribbean Series, plus the poor state of the eight teams participating at this stage in the National Series, “official government” sportswriters don’t agree on how to resolve the catastrophic situation, and even talk and write nostalgically about the good old days when “we were respected and invincible,” forgetting that then our professional players (they were paid their salaries for playing baseball) competed against university students and real amateurs, in a kind of “lion against the tied up monkey.” Continue reading “Straight Talk About Cuban Baseball / Fernando Dámaso”

The Urban Marabou* / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 5 March 2106 — Poor taste and anti-aesthetics have spread across the whole country. Havana is an excellent example of this. None of its suburbs or districts have been able to avoid it. In Nuevo Vedado, in Tulipán Street, between Marino and Estancia Streets, an African-Cuban religious-cultural centre has been put up, made out of waste materials which, instead of embellishing the location, has made it ugly. Apart from making everybody who passes it miserable, with its profusion of flags, full-size unartistic figures, worthless paintings and aggressive and dangerous metal sheets, it also afflicts its  neighbours with music from early morning until late at night.

If it had belonged to any individual, the Planning Authority would have ordered its demolition by now, and would have ordered them to open up those sections of Marino and Estancia Streets, between Tulipán and Lombillo Streets to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, both of which have been closed and appropriated for its private use by the Ministries of Transport and Construction.

There is a repeat of the problem in the ramshackle facilities for the farmers’ market in Tulipán Street on the corner of Protestante, where poor taste and anti-aesthetics are also on display, made even worse by the dirty environment at that location.

It seems that urban regulations don’t apply equally to all situations, and that there are some strange “exceptions.”

*Translator’s note: Marabou is an invasive weed that has spread across much of Cuba’s agricultural land.

Translated by GH