The Bad Sleep Well / Julio Cesar Galvez

Foto tomada de Internet

Photo taken from the Internet

By:  Julio Cesar Galvez

General Raul Castro will visit Chile in the next days, January 26-27, in order to participate in the First Summit of the Community of Latin American and Carribean States and the European Union (CELAC-EU).  On this date he will again meet face-to-face with Cristina Fernandez, president of Argentina; Evo Morales, of Bolivia; Ollanta Humala, of Peru, and of course with Nicolas Maduro, Fidel Castro’s new pretty-boy, who now serves as the hand-picked president of Venezuela.

Maybe in the Chilean capital they will again meet to continue tracing the strategy that permits them, although one day the dream of glories will end, to become the new Latin American colonial masters of the 21st century.

They all passed through Havana recently in order to see and talk with Hugo Chavez during his post-operative process, but the truth is that the press only published and reflected conversations and handshakes with Fidel and Raul Castro.  Not a shadow of Chavez.  Nothing.  No commentaries about how they had seen him, or photos at his side, to say the least.  As the grandmothers in Cuba used to say years ago:  “If I have seen you, I don’t remember.”  Just in case, “Solavaya.  Pa llá pa llá.”*

The meeting with the president of Brazil Dilma Rouseef is not to be missed, she will surely inquire how the South American giant’s investments go on the island; nor that with the Nicaraguan commander, Daniel Ortega, although a little distant from the clan at the moment, in spite of how much he praises the Castros and Chavez fearing to lose the subsidies with which Venezuela favors him.

It will surprise no one that he talks animatedly with Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, or with his Foreign Minister, Manuel Garcia Margallo. In the end, one must be grateful to the Mother Country.  Ah, so it is, don’t talk to me about Carromero. That’s all in the past, and the main thing, in times of crisis, is business.

Santos, of Colombia, will laugh in the photo that they will take together and they will agree that many of the FARC can continue on vacation, as it may be, another month in Cuba.  “The poor guys, after so much time in the scrublands, they well deserve a rest!”

Rafael Correa will tell him, whispering in his year ear, how his presidential re-election campaign is going, and Pinera, who is not disposed for anyone to tarnish the handover of the Pro Tem presidency of CELAC on the 28th of this month, is not worried about delivering the top leadership of a democratic organization to a man accused of complicity in a political assassination.  Simply, he washes his hands like Pontius Pilate.  Done!  Castro as president of Cuba enjoys diplomatic immunity.

We do not doubt, something that is in the calculus of probabilities, that Holland, the president of France, and even the German Chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, will hold bilateral meetings with the leader of Cuba.

Everything will be a celebration, hugs, congratulations, photos, good omens, while they think of the juicy investments and fabulous commercial agreements they will establish. They will all be complicit, nothing new under the sun, in the repression and the beatings by the political police against all who don’t go along with the official discourse; from the legal violations of civil and constitutional rights of the inhabitants of the Greatest of the Antilles by the regime; from the hunger, misery, physical, psychic and moral impoverishment, through which the Cuban people traverse.

For the 90 political prisoners who currently find themselves in Cuban jails, especially Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband Ramon Munoz Gonzales, detained since March 18, 2012, and who they keep incarcerated without informing them of any charge.  For journalist Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, in prison since September 16 of last year, for unveiling the existing cholera cases in the country, and the regime refuses to this moment to recognize the number of deaths from this epidemic.  The case of American Alan Gross, sentenced to 15 years in prison, for the supposed crime of subversion, for the simple fact of providing to the Cuban Jewish community internet communication equipment.

Many things will be talked about in the days of the CELAC summit with the European Union, except the problems that in reality affect the whole world.  Latin America will keep exporting its in-demand raw materials.  Europe will try to take advantage of its former colonies in order to solve the severe economic, political, ethical and social crisis through which it is passing.  The people of these countries will fight to improve their standard of living and to exit from the usual routine, while the leaders — ah, the leaders! — as always:  Mine first.

*Translator’s note: These two expressions are both incantations to ward off evil.

Translated by mlk

January 24 2013

The Everyday Marti / Julio Cesar Galvez

Foto tomada de Internet

Photo from the Internet

By Julio Cesar Galvez

The figure of José Martí has been used in an unmeasured way for their search for political prominence by the Cuban regime, long before the seizure of power on January 1959.

Many young people are unaware of the truth about the man who fell in Dos Rios fighting against Spanish colonialism. He has been co-opted by the educational system imposed on the island for more than half a century, which has twisted history at will. But many Cubans, scattered throughout the world, remember this figure, the thinking and actions of José Martí, not only on the 160th anniversary of his birth, but every single day of the year.

Undoubtedly, and without any chauvinism, Martí can be classified as a person of exceptional qualities within the group of nineteenth century men of ideas and thinking throughout the Americas. Continue reading

He did it! / Julio Cesar Galvez #Cuba

Foto tomada de Internet

Madura and Cabello — source Internet

By Julio César Gálvez

The battle for power in Venezuela deepens as the date fixed by the Constitution of this country for the swearing-in of the reelection Hugo Chavez takes office nears: January 10.

Chavez has been in Cuba since December 11, when he underwent his fourth operation for a pelvic cancer diagnosed 18 months ago, where he suffered postoperative complications, first with respiratory failure, and now with a severe lung infection, according to official reports, so his presence in Caracas for his swearing-in won’t happen.

This has unleashed an open fight between Nicolas Maduro, Vice President of the nation and the person hand-picked by Chavez as his successor in case of his death, the man whom the Cuban regime fully supports for the presidency of Venezuela, and Diosdado Cabello, former military, a close friend of Chavez, who was at his side in the failed coup attempt against Carlos Andres Perez and who was reelected as president of the National Assembly on Saturday January 5, but who never sat at the table of the Castro brothers in Havana, much less took orders from them.

In an interview on Friday 4 through state broadcaster Telesur by the journalist and current Minister of Communication and Information Ernesto Villegas, Maduro, imitating his boss, holding a booklet of the Constitution in his hands, was unable to answer why the fact that a medical board appointed by the Supreme Court certifying the permanent physical or permanent inability of  Chavez to take power was not the equivalent of a “complete failure.”

He only managed to repeat, again and again, “The Constitution provides that in all cases, as a formality, there must be an oath of office before the National Assembly on January 10, but on January 10 the new constitutional term begins and he continues his their duties and is established (…) the moment at which he can take the oath before the Supreme Court of Justice.”

The Supreme Court, in an informal statement, made a somewhat unusual argument, justifying that the oath is not necessary because Chavez is the President of the Republic, and therefore it is a continuation of his acts.

Meanwhile the opposition said that “The president of our country has been in the hands of the Cuban government for over 18 months. He was practically kidnapped by a foreign government. We have a right to go there and see what is going on. No more mysteries, Venezuela is not a colony of Cuba, “said Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Caracas.

But from Havana the threads that weave the skein in favor of the Cuban totalitarian regime are, supposedly, well woven, according to some media. The presence of an entire Cuban military contingent of more than 5,000 troops in Venezuela, which may have been increased between December and January, in full combat readiness for any emergency, and more than 50,000 aid workers — doctors and health personnel, teachers of primary and secondary teachers and coaches, agricultural and forestry advisers, in addition to military intelligence specialists and counterinsurgency — seems to support this view.

Stationed at Fort Tiuna, the headquarters of the Cuban troops in Venezuela, Barquisimeto, Barinas, Elorza, Puerto Cabello, Agua Viva, Pariaguan, Maracay, the military air base (ramp 2) installed in Maracaibo International Airport, as well as that of Apure region, with about 50 senior officers, all under the command of Major General Leonardo Andollo, accompanied by Brigadier General Herminio Rodriguez Hernandez, as chief of staff, who is in the Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

More than 100,000 barrels of oil daily, the control of customs and all that goes in and out of Venezuelan ports and airports, and delivery of more than six billion dollars a year, according to expert Latin American political analysts and economists, are the perks that Cuban totalitarianism can not afford to lose at this critical time for its economy and its hold on power.

Both Maduro, who has the backing of the pro-Cuban leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, like Cabello, more pragmatic and who has broad support within the armed forces, have lambasted the opposition, making it clear that they will not allow them to take advantage of Chavez’s illness. The latter said that Parliament will remain revolutionary and socialist.

With just a few days to the presidential inauguration in Venezuela, interests of all kind are active. None of the beneficiaries in government or party positions for Chavez wants to lose their privileges. The fight is gut-level, sordid and no one shows his true colors. They play under double standards. Waiting to see how events unfold. But who will be the chosen one? There is no sign of any favorite. Everyone has an opinion and a preference, but for fear of reprisals they do not make them public.

Maybe it’s like in our childhood when we played with the candles, pointing with our index fingers: he did it!

January 8 2013

More Than Half A Century Making A Mockery of Human Rights / Julio Cesar Galvaz #Cuba

Foto tomada de Internet

Photo taken from the Internet

By: Julio César Gálvez.

The current economic and social crisis spreads and worsens among the most vulnerable sectors of the population: children, elderly, disabled, women, ethnic minorities. It is not an isolated case. It is a well-structured plot over 50 years ago to control an entire country. The lack of ethical and moral values and rampant corruption of the ruling class is added to the above.

Despite the illusory reforms announced by President Raul Castro on assuming leadership of the nation, the reality is quite different.

Unemployment, cuts in public budgets, the inefficiency of the political, economic and productive system, and repeated promises for more than 50 years, have led to the impoverishment and marginalization of an entire people, accosted and frightened by the constant harassment and repression.

Although 64 years have passed since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Cuban totalitarian regime attacks anyone who dissents from the official discourse, and even if the offense or insult is verbal, the State resorts to physical assault and even murder if necessary.

There were more than 440 political arrests during the month of November, which tripled what happened in 2010, is an example of increased repression unleashed by those who for over 50 years have held power in the island.

There is perennial harassment is against the Ladies in White, who were beaten on November 4th and 11th in the provinces of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba, for the crime of attending Mass and asking for freedom for the political prisoners who are still behind bars.

Calixto Ramón Martínez, an independent journalist, 42, who remains on hunger strike since 10 November in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, is held in contempt for uncovering the existing uncontrolled cholera outbreak across the country; he is is one of those who daily risk their lives so that the reality of what is happening in Cuba will not be forgotten.

The writer Ángel Santiesteban, winner of the Casa de las Americas of 2009 for his novel, is sentenced to five years in prison on a false accusation – dismissed by the trial court – announced with sarcasm and irony in advance by political police officer who calls himself Camilo.

There are 21 members of the Cuban Patriotic Union currently imprisoned without charges or justification for peacefully demanding freedom and democracy. A quarter of all its members.

Antonio Rodiles, held for nine days; Angel Santiesteban, Angel Moya, Librado Linares and nine opponents beaten and detained, from November 7th to 9th; for inquiring about the arbitrary detention of a young couple, both independent lawyers.

Physical aggression against Guillermo Farinas, 2010 winner of the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, and even the threats to Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights, in mid-month, after leaving a meeting of opponents, something that didn’t happen two years ago.

There was the savage aggression against the young woman Berenice Hector Gonzalez, in the province of Cienfuegos, for defending the honor of the women of her family who are Ladies in White. The 15-year-old suffered countless stabs the face, neck, forearms, thighs and buttocks received, while her assailant, daughter of a colonel in the Ministry of the Interior of the province, is paraded through the streets of Perla del Sur without any problems, these were actions of gross violations of human rights.

The Cuban regime degrades itself before the fear of loss of power and control of the streets, but the increase in public and street protests, the denunciations of repression and abuses committed by the political police and paramilitary mobs, the call to reflection and alternatives used by dissidents to achieve the needed freedom and democracy, show that the Cuban people have said: Enough.

December 9 2012

The Kiss of Death / Julio Cesar Galvez #Cuba

Foto tomada de Internet

Photo taken from the Internet

By Julio César Gálvez

As every year, every time we approach the festivities of Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Years, the Cuban military are far from home and family, locked in their barracks or running from one place to another after a fictitious enemy or ghost landing. Nothing new. From the first of January 1959 there has always been a justification for this to happen. This year, 2012, will be no exception, as the characteristics that the history of Congo, Ethiopia, Angola and other countries where Cuban troops were involved in wars or guerrilla fronts is being repeated in Venezuela this year end.

Many of  major world media announced today that a tracheotomy had to be performed in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to keep him on life support after suffering a respiratory infection after his fourth operation for pelvic cancer.

The situation seems quite serious, when the chosen successor to Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro has called, from Havana, several Venezuelan leaders who support Chavez, Diosdado Cabellos, president of the National Assembly, perhaps with the intention of their serving as witnesses to the possible death or impossible inauguration of Chavez as president for another term of office this coming January.

Given the uncertainty that they could escape from government control in the event of either of the two variants, the members of the Cuban intelligence and the Cuban military in Venezuela are on high alert. To this must be added the thousands of doctors, health personnel, teachers, coaches, close to 50,000 people, who by necessarily are subject to the orders of Cuban Brigadier General Andollo, top leader of all of the island’s personnel now in Venezuela.

The possibility of a coup in favor of Maduro, the “godson” of Fidel Castro, which would enable  the Island’s regime to maintain the ample supplies of money and oil, floats in the atmosphere.

We have to wait to see what happens, but for now, on December 15, Fidel Castro already said goodbye in person to his disciple, a leave-taking embodied in a note to Chavez supporters published by the press: “I have complete confidence in you as in him, and however painful his absence might be, you are capable of continuing his work.” This was addressed to the Cuban military in Venezuela.

December 23 2012

Opening Pandora’s Box (Pt. 1) / Julio César Gálvez

Math does not make mistakes.  Two plus two is always four.  It is part of the exact sciences.  The Spanish press agency EFE published a report titled “Spanish government studies possibility of slashing aid for former Cuban political prisoners”, which has been re-posted in various other news agencies around the world.  However, the “sources close to the Ministry of Exterior Relations”, which EFE quotes without mentioning names, does not say the absolute truth, or is not aware of specific details.

Two minutes before boarding the plane which brought us to Madrid on July 13th of 2010, we signed documents provided by functionaries of the Spanish embassy in Cuba at the airport of Havana.  These documents were known as BROA, and they specify the aid we would receive upon arriving to Spanish soil for 18 months, but could be extended to 24 months in cases of VULNERABILITY, which we do find ourselves in at this very moment.

According to the document, we were to receive house payment of up to $745.00€ monthly, not 700 as the functionaries of the Red Cross who tend to us have informed.  The document which we signed was to give us funds for being political refugees in the European Union, not in Spain.  The truth is surely known by the functionaries who elaborated the secret agreement between Moratinos, Zapatero, Raul Castro, and Jaime Ortega.

Of the monthly 180.00€  per person which we receive, we have to pay electricity, gas, water, food, and everything else, which we have to justify with receipts.  This is something which is very good and normal, just that I can’t buy candies and sweets for my 7-year-old son Emmanuel.  Inviting a friend to drink coffee at any shop is a sacrilege.  Albert Einstein could not carry out any similar mathematical analysis in order to survive.

In regards to medical coverage, it is the same which every other resident of Spain has, and it is registered.  It is much better and of excellent quality. Very far from the Castro propaganda which says that Cuban healthcare is the best in the world.  The Cuban medical centers wish they were at the level of Gomez Ulla or Gregorio Maranon, doctors whom I’ve met.  There is nothing special, save for the fact that the first 8 families which arrived to Madrid were able to routinely carry out medical check-ups thanks to the gestures of the Community of Madrid, considering that the Red Cross, which was the entity in charge of the refugees at that time, had refused.

Translator’s note: Julio César Gálvez is one of the Black Spring political prisoners released into exile in Spain in 2011. He blogs at Cuban Voices from exile with Pablo Pacheo Avila and Jose Luis Garcia Paneque.

12 April 2012