One More Insult / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 15 April 2015 — The culture minister’s presentation of Cuban flags to twenty Cuban artists and intellectuals, members of the “governmental Jurassic park,” in recognition of their shameful behavior during the Summit of the Americas civil society forum — actions criticized and condemned the world over — is deplorable.

It is true that our national standard, debased through improper and cheap use, has been losing over time, among many ordinary Cubans, the respect it always deserved, especially during the most complex moments of our history.

Since wearing the flag as apparel (not unusual in some countries) is prohibited in Cuba, how ironic to be using it now as a mop cloth.

The unacceptable and swaggering behavior of these artists and intellectuals deserves not recognition, but a reprimand, for how poorly they have represented all Cubans.

True representatives of intolerance, dogmatism and the most caveman-like authoritarianism, they have amply demonstrated that, if this is our only civil society, we are better off without it.

As no one has before, they have demonstrated that “within the Revolution, everything….” is possible.*

Translator’s Notes:
*A reference to Fidel’s so-called Speech to the Intellectuals in 1961, in which he proclaimed, “Within the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Speaking of Legitimacy / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 8 April 2105 — The claim that governmental organizations and associations are the sole representatives of Cuban civil society to the exclusion of all others not legally recognized by the authorities figures prominently in public statements and actions by leaders and officials of the regime and is a frequent topic in articles by academics and some official journalists.

Government leaders and officials simply state it. Academics try to provide a rationale for it while journalists generally disparage, accuse and repeat tired slogans.

The idea that “civil society has advanced beyond the primitive stage to the point that it is organized to serve political ends, with the state directing and regulating it,” is not only absurd, it amounts to blatant manipulation. Continue reading

Cuban Festival in Panama / Fernando Damaso

The violent events in Panama, where the representatives of the Cuban regime shed their lamb skins and, ready for action, turned into a real pack of wolves, and launched insults and blows against Cubans who think differently, becoming a national shame.

The stars of this shameful spectacle were a mediocre writer, a frightened poet and a historian of Cantinflasian oratory, transformed into energetic state officials. Seeing figures of culture and intellect downgraded to simple “neighborhood bullies” (some lacking any demonstration of courage in their whole lives), was humiliating and laughable. Continue reading

Hysteria in Panama / Fernando Damaso

The circus staged by the delegation of governmental organizations at the Forum on Civil Society in Panama, supported by a similar one from Venezuela, was to be expected. Those people, used to imposing their opinions by force, without listening to anyone who thinks differently, are impossible to argue with, debate, much less have discussions with. They limit themselves to repeating what they are ordered to say by their bosses.

They are used to actively participating the “repudiation rallies” against the opponents, always protecting the authorities and the repressive organs, and have found a different scenario, where there is equal respect for everyone, where differences are accepts and political adversaries are just that, not mercenaries nor traitors, because they all know that the opponents of today are the leaders of tomorrow and vice versa. Continue reading

Dialogue or Monologue / Fernando Damaso

Our authorities have always been preoccupied with extolling the originality of anything coming out of Cuba. Our freedoms, socialism, democracy, human rights, political and economic system, electoral process, governmental bodies, political and grass-roots organizations, and everything else are unique and unlike anything comparable in the rest of the world. Furthermore, it is argued — with scant modesty — that they are the best and most perfect. What is striking is that this unhealthy addiction to being different applies only to the outside world. Differences within the country, among Cubans themselves, are not acceptable.

Dictating how things are to be done has become a daily and unhealthy practice over the years, especially when done by those have held and still hold absolute power. We have seen the imposition of a political, economic and social system, one-party rule, a socialist Constitution, basic laws, organizations and associations, educational, cultural, and moral standards, and many other things that should have involved consultation with citizens and should have been freely approved or rejected by them. Continue reading

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