Cubans as Carrion from the Hunt / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

As long as Cuban laws remain unchanged, the Castro brothers will continue to use political prisoners as foreign-policy leverage. (Mdzol)
As long as Cuban laws remain unchanged, the Castro brothers will continue to use political prisoners as foreign-policy leverage. (Mdzol)

From September 19 to 22, the Catholic Pope will visit Cuba for the third time, and as is customary, the Castro regime has had a sudden merciful change of heart.

This time, Cuban jails have released 3,522 prisoners. That’s 500 prisoners more than in March 2012, when Benedict XVI came to the island, and 3,000 more than those released thanks to John Paul II’s visit in January 1998. In each case, the whole world celebrated the gesture as if it were a human-rights victory. continue reading

Similarly, General Raúl Castro freed 53 political prisoners as a “gift” to Barack Obama for his announcement to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba on December 17, 2014. Some of them, like Afro-Cuban activist Sonia Garro and her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, had been behind bars for nearly three years, without a trial.

In other words, the state kidnapped them during a perverse and hypocritical wave of repression, while, ironically, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass on the island. But never mind that. Everyone applauded Castros’s “gesture of good will” in light of the diplomatic transition and the opening of Cuba’s Marxist markets for Uncle Sam.

Over the past two decades, Cuban prisons have held between 50,000 and 60,000 inmates, producing an alarmingly high ratio of 500 prisoners for every 100,000 residents. However, that disheartening figure is the least of it.

The worst part is that the repressive and backward Cuban laws remain untouched and unquestioned. The death penalty, crimes of contempt against the commander in chief, censorship laws that criminalize dissent as “the enemy’s propaganda,” and punishments for “pre-crime” reminiscent of Italian fascism are all still on the books.

Meanwhile, the state’s paramilitary groups ensure — with complete disregard for the penal code — that the threat of imprisonment reaches every Cuban citizen: beggars, ministers, former agents, and exiles alike.

This means that if there were no political prisoners in Cuba, the regime would have to invent them. Otherwise, the dictatorship would have no leverage to negotiate with the European Union, the United States, and, of course, God’s representative on Earth.

This brutal, tyrannical regime has been in power for so long, happily executing thousands and forcing nearly one-fifth of its population to leave, that it now must somehow manufacture political prisoners. That’s why the regime puts on a show whenever it cracks down on a peaceful demonstration in Cuban streets.

These periodic protests and arrests pose no threat to the Castro brothers’ reign. Instead, officials turn it all into a convenient tool to manipulate the international agenda, depending on whether they want to look like the good cop or the bad cop.

As long as there is no separation of powers in Cuba, the slightest tolerance for freedom of expression or association, or a civil society independent of the corporate-military elite; as long as the Constitution does not allow for questioning why socialism should be the eternal “irrevocable” model of the country, then, it really doesn’t make a difference whether five or 50,000 prisoners are released.

We are not dealing with some sort of amnesty brought on by social pressures. It more resembles a kind of royal pardon that takes us all by surprise: a gesture as oppressive as the thumbs-up or thumbs-down of a Roman emperor in a bloody coliseum.

Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White, astutely summed it up when she said: “the Cuban government is clever; it won’t be the first time … that they will spend months imprisoning people for petty crimes, only to inflate the figures of those released.”

I could not be happier for my fellow countrymen who are now out of jail. However, it makes me sad that millions of Cubans don’t yet understand that not a single one of us has been truly freed, and that the world continues to applaud the bounds of our curtailed liberty.

Originally appeared in PanAm Post translated by Vanessa Arit

The Campaign to Have a Plebiscite for Freedom in Cuba Begins

Maurice Ferré: The solution for Cuba and Puerto Rico: plebiscites.

From El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2015 / Reprinted from Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo’s blog

Although both were the booty of war, the results for Cuba and Puerto Rico were different in the Treaty of Paris (1898) at the end of the Spanish-American War.

The Republic of Cuba was established in 1903. As a republic, Cuba prospered for 37 years. With the Constitution of 1940, eliminating the despicable Platt Amendment, Cuba advanced. But by 1959 Cuba was already a corrupt country. After 55 years of Castro-communism, Cuba went from being one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America to place itself, currently, among the poorest. continue reading

Puerto Rico did better. Washington cultivated Puerto Rico as a military base, guarding the Panama Canal. In 1917, the U.S. Congress unilaterally gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. In 1922 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Howard Taft (before being President of the U.S.), presented the majority opinion in the last Insular Case (about the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico), Balzac v. Porto Rico, concluding that although Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens, they didn’t have all the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Puerto Rico would continue “belonging to the United States but not being part of the United States.”* This infamy of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922 is still alive in 2015.

In 1952, the North American Congress conceded autonomy to Puerto Rico in local matters, creating the Associated Free State (AFS). In 62 years of self-governing with bad judgments by its governors and responsible financial counselors and with lucrative contracts for friends of the government in attendance, Puerto Rico had an external debt of $73 billion, more than the annual GDP of the island. On August 1, the island, for the first time, failed to comply with a Wall Street bank debt. As a result of the precarious financial situation, Wall Street Hedge Funds and vulture investors bought up Puerto Rico’s junk bonds. Puerto Rico fell into the hands of the “savage capitalists” that Pope Francis has criticized so much.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, who insists on the opening with Cuba, ignores Puerto Rico’s fatal condition. The North American Congress, presently in the hands of the Republicans, insists that the Cuban political system be modified to one that establishes the consent of the governed, but ignores that in an internal plebiscite in 2012, Puerto Rico, with 78 per cent participation, voted 54 percent to not consent to the system of government presently alive on the island, the AFS.

Among Cuba’s dissidents, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the fallen martyr, Oswaldo Payá-Sardiñas, has created a new opposition entity called “Cuba Decides,” which has numerous followers on the island. Payá, with her group, attended an important meeting of Cuban dissidence in San Juan: First National Cuban Meeting, which met on August 11, 12 and 13.

Cuba Decides presented, in Puerto Rico, a continuation of Oswaldo Payá’s patriotic vision: a plebiscite for Cuba. The questions, although not finalized, ironically are similar to the active questions in Puerto Rico: consent of the governed and the preferred form of government on the island.

Cuba is a sovereign nation where its citizens, internally, don’t have individual liberties.

For its part, Puerto Rico doesn’t enjoy sovereignty, since it’s an unincorporated territory of the United States, whose citizens are governed under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress under its territorial clause. But Puerto Ricans who reside on the island do enjoy individual liberty.

In order to resolve these incongruencies with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Constitution, in the case of Puerto Rico separate plebiscites should be performed. Both plebiscites should entail compliance with conditions, previously agreed upon by the respective governments.

In the case of Puerto Rico, President Obama has recommended and the U.S. Congress has accepted an appropriation of $2.5 million to “educate” voters on the alternative conditions of the plebiscite. Because of the results of the 2012 island plebiscite, in which 61 percent chose federated statehood as a political status, the question of the new plebiscite would simply be: Statehood, yes or no?

The questions for the Cuban process are very complex because they require acceptance by the Government of a future plebiscite in Cuba, without the presence of the Castros.

Cuban exiles and dissidents on the island, some of whom reunited this week in San Juan, should carefully study Rosa María Payá’s presentation and persistently demand of the Cuban Government a plebiscite that determines the consent of the Cuban people. Then Cuban citizens will decide if they want a socialist government or a democratic, pluralist republic and a free market.

Declaration of San Juan

The text of the declaration can be found in English here, along with the list of signatories.

*Puerto Rico was not incorporated into the Union.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Cubans Expect Thaw to Lead to Improvements For All The People / 14ymedio

The new embassy of Cuba in the USA. (14ymedio)
The new embassy of Cuba in the USA. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 20 June 2015 – This Monday, a group of protestors outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington accompanied the speech by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez with shouts of “Cuba sí, Castro No”; “Freedom for Cuba”; “Democracy.” While some chanted, “Viva Cuba,” others responded, “Freedom.”

At some points “Castro sí” was also hears. “Never in this country would I have imagines I would hear something like this,” said a Cuban who came to renew his passport in the consulate.

“I’m here to support the human and civil rights of the Cuban people who have not had free elections for more than 60 years,” said Laura Martinez, a Cuban-American, 26, gathered outside the building that, since 1977, housed the Cuban Interests Section in the United States. “Although I support the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, I want the human, civil and political rights of the Cuban people to be respected and we are demanding that right now,” she added.

The activist Rosa Maria Paya believes that “this is only the beginning of diplomatic relations that so far has meant the conversation between two elites, of people who were not there and don’t represent the Cuban people, because the Cuban people never elected them.”

“We are expecting that, at least in their discourse, those people who approach Cuba converse not only with the elites in power, but that they also support the right of Cubans to decide, of legislation conducive to [exiles’] visit to the island, and the extension of immunity from violence to those who demonstrate [against the regime] inside and outside of the island,” she adds.’

The writer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo stressed the importance of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana also resulting in greater freedom for independent journalists. He asks for “a more inclusive future,” in which “the chokehold that the regime keeps on civil society is loosened.”

Everyone Bears Your Name, Fidel / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 April 2015

We Cubans are going to miss Fidel a lot.

Fidel was a spontaneous, almost infantile, assassin with an irresistible charisma that eroticized even his bodyguards. Meanwhile, he could kill just out of a curiosity to see his victims’ last expression of panic or rage. Like someone who naively opens up a lizard from Birán* or the virginal vagina of an adulterous woman from Havana.

With Fidel deceased–in one of those fecal spectacles of running around between stretchers and Mercedes Benzes–today, we as a people have ended up alone with a one-eyed psychopath* and the pathetic pedophile, Eusebio Leal. continue reading

Fidel was always covered in mud. He got in and out of military jeeps and helicopters whose blades decapitated the rest of the leaders of the Revolution. He cut sugar cane with gusto. He drank water from wooden cups containing the saliva of peasants. He shot three-point baskets. And thirteen-point baskets. He expelled priests and sent gays to concentration camps. Or both.

He caught marlins like Hemingway and he was an ace at cross-breeding cattle. He smoked and smoked and dodged cancer cells. He planted everything and had a talent for reaping nothing; that cycle of sterile stubbornness toward the Cuban people was a symptom of closeness. Fidel was a loser that never lost, a Cuban from the ’hood.

Fidel was me. A guy that diverted hurricanes and brought AIDS to Cuba from the African bush, in the white blood cells of his little hetero, ebony-colored soldiers. He cloned interferon and solidified the amorphous formula of Spirulina. He deported half the country and put it to work for him in malls from Miami to Melbourne. And that’s not counting that he sent the first black man into orbit. Fidel, my friends, was fearless.

Now in 2015, Cuba is on its way to democracy. The government in Havana is saturated in rich white people who have made pacts with the rich whites of the Cuban-American ex-exile community. The commanders of the Revolution are being cremated on a regular basis and the holocaust archives have not only disappeared, they’ve been quickly rewritten. The future belongs entirely to that past that never made its debut.

The only thing we can hope for from the grim, one-eyed Alejandro Castro Espín** and his Zionist zetas is massacre, but those thousands of dead matter less than Eusebio Leal’s robes. The grand nineteenth-century gentleman, the despicable thief who made off with the property of Dulce María Loynaz, Lage’s pal and other so-called reformers who ended up in pajamas*** and powerless even to give interviews, the historian who was punished for being corrupt and for making an embassy joke about taking Old Havana to the “Granma Yacht mausoleum,” in short, the parish priest who shoves his pedigreed dollars up the asses of Lolitas… he judges the Cuban people in public–a people whose mass stampede abroad has been our only revenge against the tyrant–barely equal to a speck of dirt on his Lord Spengler rain coat.

As a result, the neo-marketization between Brickell’s*** totalitarian tycoons and the corporate mafia bosses of Siboney****, must imply recycling the best minds of my generation in the laundry room of a high security prison. Nothing that happens in Cuba is believable. The first democrats to reach democracy on the Island will simply be the fast food items that Fidelism currently teaches at its world summits.

As a Cuban, I miss Fidel a lot. I miss his cadavers, who are my last contemporaries. The maximum leader of the Third World calls us “lumpen,” “scum,” “worms.” Yet he never stopped covering himself in our excrement, the excrement of a prostituted nation during half a millenium of despotism without government and without God.

It also makes me sad that, in his death, Fidel is going to really miss us, his Cubans.

Translator’s notes:
*Birán is the place in eastern Cuba where the Castro brothers were born and raised.
**Refers to Raúl Castro’s son, Alejandro Castro Espín, who lost an eye during military training in Algeria and is currently a colonel in Cuba’s interior ministry.
*** In Cuba when someone in power is ousted (but not imprisoned) their “retirement” is colloquially referred to as “the pajama plan.”
****Brickell is a street in Miami where the superrich live, and Siboney is a neighborhood in Havana where the elites live and ordinary Cubans are not allowed.

Translated by: Kathy Fox

An Urgent Call for Independent Journalism in Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

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Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca in Havana

The plight of journalist Valle Roca draws attention to the risks faced by independent reporters in Cuba and the complicity of the United States and other countries.

Sampsonia Way Magazine, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 29 June 2015 — If you are an independent reporter in Cuba—that is, if you are an illegal reporter in Cuba, since the media on the island are all the private property of brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro‘s Communist Party—you may end up being expelled from your place of study or work, sentenced to long periods in jail, or forced to go into exile for the rest of your days. In the worst case, you may just end up dead. continue reading

On June 13, Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, anindependent reporter in the Cuban capital,lodged a public complaint with the “representatives of the Inter-American Press Association of Reporters Without Borders” for the “indiscriminate repression of activists, peaceful protestersreportersbloggersphotojournalists and independent spokespeople involved in the struggle for citizenship, political participation and human rights” in Revolutionary Cuba, where the Communist Party has now held power for more than 56 despotic years.

Valle Roca’s open letter not only tells his own story, but draws attention to the plight of hiscolleagues Vladimir Turró Páez and Enrique Díaz, collaborators on the Misceláneas de Cuba (Cuban Miscellany) and Primavera Digital (Digital Spring) websites; Juan González Febles, director of Primavera Digital; Agustín López Canino andLiván Serafín Morán, independent bloggers and reporters; and Antonio Rodiles, director of the audiovisual debate project Estado de SATS. In recent weeks, all have fallen victim to regular random arrests and police torture practices, theirfamilies have suffered harassment, and some have even received death threats.

In many cases, these illegal detentions are not backed up by any official charges and last for “several days, with no reports being filed to document our detention or the seizure of our belongings.” The latter has included the confiscation, or more accurately the theft, of their “cell phones, cameras, and USB sticks.” These reporters and media activists have been “beaten in detention centers” by the Castroist State Security forces (the DSE) and the National Revolutionary Police (the PNR). They have been held “for hours in the sun in locked police vehicles,” such that several of them “have lost consciousness, presenting with symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

In Valle Roca’s case, on the night of Saturday May 9 an unmarked car attempted to ram into him on Avenida 26 de Nuevo Vedado, very close to his home. Coincidentally, the street where the attack took place is just a stone’s throw away from the emblematic Plaza de la Revolución, that symbolic monument revered by Latin Americans who have no idea what is going on in Cuba, as well as by so manycomplicit academics in US universities.

But then on the morning of Sunday June 7, Valle Roca underwent another horrifying experience that should shock all defenders of justice and liberty to the core. While out walking peacefully through the Miramar neighborhood, Valle Roca was arrested on a street corner and taken to the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior’s State Security Services, located miles away in the 10 de Octubre municipality.

After being interrogated and threatened, he was handcuffed and driven in another vehicle to a deserted location in the vicinity of the town of Santa Cruz del Norte, dozens of miles from Havana. There, an agent forced him to his knees and held him at gunpoint with a Browning. “Now you have been warned what could happen to you,” proclaimed the executioner in the olive-green uniform to Valle Roca. In his letter to the worldthe reporter makes clear that he “holds Raúl Castro’s government responsible for whatever may happen to me and my colleagues in the days ahead.”

I would extend this list of those to blame for Cuban impunity to include the cynical smile of United States President Barack Obama, as well as the wicked, feminine sneer of Cuban Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino. Both men have supported thedemocratic legitimization of Raúl Castro’s repressive regime, which has cost the Cuban people dearly in tragedy and scuppered hopes for a real life under a democratic system.

Please, share this urgent call to action with your friends, and keep sending Valle Roca and his Cuban colleagues your moral and material support. His email address is lazaroyurivalleroca@gmail.com. Your solidarity is the only weapon that these reporters can use to defend themselves.

Translated by Alex Higson

MCl Leader for the Freedom of a Cuba without Castros / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Interview with Rosa Maria Paya

Leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and Cuba Decides

From El Pais

 “The United States is negotiating with the Cuban caste.”

Cuban regime opponent, daughter of Oswaldo Para, speaks of the shortcomings of the thaw.

Alba Casas

Madrid, 3 July 2015, 23:03 CEST

To Rosa Maria Paya (b. January 1989, Havana), daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and a member of the Christian Liberation Movement — founded by her father — is not afraid to say the thaw will not end “the embargo on freedoms” that the Cuban Executive imposes on its inhabitants. “The United States is talking with the Government and those surrounding it. But civil society is left outside. It is a privilege reserved for the Cuban caste. For the rest, it is a situation of exclusion,” she says. continue reading

Although she looks favorably on the advance in relations between both countries — in her own words: “And attempt to include Cuba as part of the international community is good, provided the inclusion is of all of Cuba, not just the government.” Paya believes that the reestablishment of the talks offers a “halo of legitimacy to a Government that every day violates the rights of its citizens.”

And she defends, over and over again, the need for this process to come with a change for society. “The confrontation with the United States is the excise the government has used to justify some of its repressive measures. Now the excuse has fallen but the situation continues the same, which shows that it was not the United States that was oppressing Cubans, but rather the government itself.”

Among the North American giant’s motives, according to Paya, should be to defend “the opening of Cuba to Cubans themselves,” to offer legal security to entrepreneurs who want to embark on new commercial activities on the island.

“Totalitarianism is a tacit threat to them, like negotiating with the mafia. I don’t expect an altruism from foreign investors, but to negotiate without the guarantees of democracy is to accept the rules of the Cuban government,” says this young woman of 26, with some political ideas of her own who spend this same time leading rallies in front of the cameras.

In drawing a parallel between this “game that follows the rules of the Cuban government,” with the current situation of the thaw in which the United States, despite its initial demand to ensure the rights of Cubans, has finalized the embargo and removed Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, without a real advance in freedoms for society.

Paya says, “It is terrible when talking becomes more important than the objectives of the talks. When this happens, the impunity is total and the government feels free to assassinate a Sakharov Prize winner and nothing happens.” She is referring to her father, Oswaldo Paya, who died in 2012 in strange circumstances in a traffic accident. “To call it an accident is to use the government’s words,” she says.

Paya’s criticism against the executives who prefer “to ignore the violations of human rights” is not directed solely at the North American giant. The young woman even links to “the 15 years of recession experienced by the democracies in the region,” with the Cuban dictatorship.

“I’m not saying it’s the only reason, but it is a common denominator. And you can observe the complicit silence of the senior Latin American politicians with all the crimes of the region, not only those of Cuba,” she says.

The instrument that the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement proposed to achieve that advance in rights and initiate a process of the democratic transition is to hold a plebiscite to ask the citizens of the island if they want to participate in free elections, in which any citizen can stand as a candidate of the opposition, with full media coverage and, above all, “with guarantees for the voters that there will be no consequences from the powers-that-be.”

Looking at this utopian scenario cannot, however, ensure that Cubans taking to the polls is going to translate into the end of the Castro mandate. “I believe that if Cubans could vote, they would vote for freedom. But if they do not do it, all we can do is to give them the tool. Cubans will be free when they want to be so.”

Decrepit Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 15 May 2015 — Cuba’s sun beats down on everything. Shrinking the eyes. Crushing the skin. Dehydrating us, making us seem older than we have always been.

And it’s not only Cuba’s sun. It is Miami’s sun, too. Which is indistinguishable with so much uncivil barbarity.

Below that continuous light without gaps, which flattens out forms and extinguishes colors, we Cubans have very little to do. That excessive luminosity is called Castroism, and it existed before and will exist after Castro. continue reading

There are no hues, there is no texture nor context. Nothing is subtle or mysterious. Everything is body and corpse. Cuba like a great Castroite caiman, from San Antonio to Maisí (that is to say, between Maceo and Martí: the violence that decapitates and the violence of the demagogue).

From that country without shadows is what we Cubans escape. From its history of eternal day, without nights in which to be oneself. With no space for pleasure, understood as freedom and not as animalism. That is why there is no possible return to an Island without imagination, where everything is factual yet fictitious, where our life passes us by in a kind of restless sleep yet it is impossible to dream.

Cuba has no State and has no God. In its midst, there does not yet exist the first Cuban man who will survive that oversaturated absence of light. (When one is born, they assassinate him in the plain light of day.) To speak of hope in Cuba is to spit upon the remnants of our intelligence, and even upon that instinct for self-preservation that disguises our cowardice as dignity.

He who respects his love will leave Cuba immediately. To love in Cuba is to betray love.

Go, Cubano. Go, Cubana. For you. For him, for her, for love.

Do not perpetuate with your pathos that Cuba that is only body and corpse with no heart.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Dearest Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

OLPresident

Barack Obama, behind, channeling the corpse of Hugo Chavez

The presidents of the USA have been a taboo subject in Cuba for 55 years. The image of the Bad Imperialist can only be authorized by the top propaganda authorities of the Communist Party (the only legal one on the island) or, when appropriate, by the very Council of State.  The idea was to depersonalize and discredit all the men of the White House (the documentary pamphleteer Santiago Alvarez embodied the vile vanguard of that mission). The external enemy has to be artificially animalized, to be slain just the same as one more internal opponent. Only in that way, by a simple media comparison for the eyes of a captive audience, would the elevated image of our Maximum Leader shine brighter in our hearts.

Fidel the future, Eisenhower the fossil; Fidel the strapping, handsome proletarian, Kennedy the bourgeois little asshole; Fidel the internationalist warrior, Johnson the international warmonger; Fidel sincere to the bone; Nixon scandalously phony; Fidel the perpetual comrade; Ford this year’s fleeting model; Fidel the pitcher, Carter the catcher; Fidel the still-young star, Reagan the nearly senile stuntman; Fidel in the “Special Period in Times of Peace,” Bush the bombings of post-perestroika; Fidel celibate, Clinton promiscuous; Fidel the horse, W. Bush the jackass; Fidel the dove who has been robbed several times of his Nobel Peace Price, Obama the white hawk with a blackbird’s feathers (the official Cuban press racistly accused him of betraying his own race). continue reading

After nearly a decade of being censored in Cuba (in spite of receiving the clear signal and being invaded by Cuban personnel), the TeleSUR channel started to be free in Cuba as a gift from Raul in the New Year. Now it’s not just the pirate patch of Walter Martinez on tape, savoring the Bolivarian mush to the illiterate and fanatics of the continent, but rather, since January 2013, it’s finally Mr. Barack Obama, live and kicking on every TV in Havana.

And, to the confusion of everyone at home, it turns out that the skinny kid from The Mulatto House in Washington doesn’t shout, nor present a threat to the public with his hooked fingers, nor wear a military uniform, nor spend hours and hours giving speeches to the millions and millions of his Babylonian nation. To top it off, the guy looks like a citizen and, as such, talks about urgent environmental concerns, about minority rights (representing the local LGBT community better than our National Assembly), or social projects that don’t need another half-century of sacrifice (while at the same time the police authorize a protest against him).

In my surveilled neighborhood of Lawton, after seeing this unheard of thing—a civilian president who does not preside in perpetuity—there were those who made the joke that the next People’s Power electoral ballot should include an extra box to check for “Deputy Obama.” I should publicize that humorous story online. OK, now I’ve done it here.

If I were the Cuban government, I would not take so lightly the symptoms of satisfaction or scorn for our socialism within the Cuban neighborhood. And, just in case, I would prepare one more chair in the Palace of Conventions. The slogan of the plebiscite of the Castros to the Castros in 2018 could well be this:

Cuba, Obamaness is coming!

Translated by: BW

11 April 2015

Rosa Maria Returns to the Revolution of Death / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Click on image for link to video in Spanish
Click on image for link to video in Spanish

ROSA MARIA AND DEATH

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 11 May 2015

Since she was a little girl, death was a guest in her home. A guest no one invited in the midst of the family happiness, rather an intruder imposed by a fascist State called Revolution. A totalitarian state that began killing before the assault on power, killing that prevailed for decades, and that will end up killing more, sooner than later. It is the only logic of a governance in which the Castros are effective, a dynasty of several generations that were never elected in Cuba. Since she was a little girl, death peeked through the blinds and revealed the probable terror: she always knew that the Cuban wanted to kill her papá. continue reading

Rosa María Payá, after a year and a half living outside Cuba, returns today to the Island where lie the remains of Harold Cepero — her soulmate — and those of Oswaldo Payá. She brings them a flower. A little flower of the most commercial and cowardly Miami. Where thousands of “mules” travel daily as accomplices of the Castro regime. Where all the entrepreneurs are Castros with Cubanologist ties, but ultimately they are simply thirst for dollars and power. A caste that, with the story of the economic empowerment of civil society, aspires to enslave Cuba based on their earnings and their corruption. They are not another shitty mafia, but they are the same and of the same ideological sign as the shitty mafiosos of the Plaza of the Revolution.

Cepero and Payá were assassinated in Cuba by order of the high command of the Ministry of the Interior on Sunday, 22 July 2012. It was a personal vengeance on the part of the homicidal brothers. A crime against humanity whose atrocious guilt will never expire, and for which they will be held accountable before justice, including the descendants of the tyrants: in particular Alejandro Castro Espín, who was already in office when they killed Cepero and Paya.

This crime would never have been undertaken blindly. Before executing it, the Castro regime consulted on the double homicide with the highest spheres of power in the European Union and in the United States. And also with the insulting insular Catholic hierarchy, and it is possible with the Vatican (Ratzinger’s resignation will eventually be totally explained). The Cuban-American tycoons, of course, did their part, with the perverse promise they would soon be allowed to return.

Such a plot is not launched directly, but with hallway inquiries and social destabilization blackmail. With hostages and promises of appeasement. The diplomacy of disgust. And everyone was in agreement that there would be no penalty for the Castros for the death of a man in his sixties who to the majority felt too weighty, whose moral superiority is intolerable in Cuba and in our ex-exile. He had to be sacrificed to the sanctimoniousness of democracy. It had to sink Cuba even deeper into despair. Harold Cepero, on that summer afternoon, was just collateral damage. And if Rosa María had been traveling in that Hyundai rental car, as she thought she might hours beforehand, Rosa María  would have been buried three years ago along with her papá.

But today Rosa María Payá returns as a Cuban of Cuba to Cuba. The whole world, and especially the Casto agents of the Miami press, sneeringly called her on zero day a “refugee” and the last of the “exiled.” As if all of us Cubans, wherever we live, weren’t refugees and exiles under the boot of our olive-green barbarity. Now they will tell Rosa María  whatever other vile things, as soon as the officials of El Habana Herald sends them by email the ongoing strategy of stigmatization of her.

But Rosa María will face the executioners whom she has known since childhood to be hunting her papá to behead him. The family has not even been given the autopsy showing how Oswaldo Payá died. Only Fernando Ravsberg, a Uruguayan terrorist turned privileged journalist on the Island, wrote with demonic detail of the destruction of Payá’s body: head split into five pieces, almost decapitated, heart pierced and kidneys turned to “mush.”

Rosa María Payá faces Monday May 11, 2015 in Cuba with that “mush” of a nation. The detritus of a country without citizens. Without values. Without a vision of the future. Aberration in time. Constitutional ugliness. Hatred on the surface and language as a hobby in perpetuity. Culture of simulation and a vocation to kill or be killed. De-anthropological damage, inhumane humanity. A double lack of State and of God.

From the Castro regime we can expect anything against that girl visited by death in her dreams in El Cerro in the midst of the Special Period. Because today the assassins no longer need to consult on their crimes ahead of time. The hands of President Obama and those of Pope Francis have exquisitely stretched out to the Cuban dictator, the octogenarian who has been stained and stained again with the innocent blood of Cubans.

Pray for Rosa María, please, at least those who still retain a remnant of what it is to pray after half a century of strictly observed Revolution.

The Specter of Castro Haunts Panama Summit / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)
The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)

PanAm Post, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 8 April 2015 — A ghost ship haunts the halls of this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama: the Chong Chon Gang.

The vessel, seized in the Panama Canal in July 2013, contained a deadly cargo hidden under 250,000 bags of sugar. The contraband ammunition and weapons on board, bound for North Korea, mocked the whole world and put half of Panama’s population at risk.

It also served as an epitaph for the Castro brothers, who have stirred up all civil wars in the region, and served as a lighthouse of populism that has lured many nations and individuals onto the rocks.

The same drifting-but-dangerous tyranny washes upon on Panama’s shores again this week, as the region’s (un)elected officials arrive to promenade in front of the world’s press for the Summit of the Americas. continue reading

Raúl Castro’s arrogance after his arms trafficking deal with Pyongyang became public is now rewarded with an invitation to attend the Summit in Panama. The military general and head of state — never elected by the Cubans — merely shrugged at the time, claiming that they were “obsolete weapons,” and few cared about the humiliation of the Panamanian people. No one cared either about the embarrassment we Cubans of integrity felt at the aggression the regime committed against our brothers.

Since the end of the Soviet era, the Caribbean island’s socialist elite have always used used Panama as its financial headquarters to launder drug trafficking money. Let the four military officers executed by firing squad in 1989 be a witness to that, plus the hundreds of people kicked out in Cuba weeks prior and during the US invasion of Panama in the same year.

US President Barack Obama and his cheerleaders in the press corps come to the region not to reprimand countries that shoot students and curtail freedom of speech. Rather, reporters can’t wait to be the first to snap the photo between the civilian leader and the despot in army uniform, even while both their days as leaders are numbered.

Only through observing this atmosphere of state-sponsored omerta can we understand how Rosa María Payá, daughter of Cuban pro-democracy martyr Oswaldo Payá — threatened and then killed on the orders of Raúl Castro on July 22, 2012 — was humiliated by anonymous National Security agents at the very door of her plane on Sunday in Panama City.

Neither Cuba nor Panama’s Foreign Ministry have owned up to the blunder, so who leaked the name of Rosa María before she landed and who ordered her detention and intimidation, as if she were an international fugitive?

Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey.

The Panamanian thugs acted, it seems, at the behest of Cuba’s intelligence agency — or perhaps they just enjoyed illegally intimidating a free Cuban, going through her underwear, photocopying her private documents (faxed to Havana for sure), and even threatening to deport her to the island where the Castro regime murdered her father and her best friend, Harold Cepero.

They should have asked themselves: after all she has been through, how could she be afraid? They’d sooner be able to kill Rosa María, and more than a generation of young people at home and exiled abroad who proudly see themselves as Cuban (myself included), than scare us.

The apartheid the Cuban military imposed on our people, leaving thousands dead and expelling hundreds of thousands decade after decade, never had any real prestige in the continent. That’s the international left’s doing. That’s why we Cubans distrust so much the backing of Latin American governments of whatever stripe.

Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey. They quake before the Cuban tyrant; the presidents of the Americas know that Castro can spoil their party with an eruption of Bolivarian diatribe, protests, and diplomatic boycotts.

That’s why secret agents in Panama target Cuban activists, and why the press release in which the Foreign Ministry formally apologizes to Rosa María is not only disingenuous but pathetic.

Panamanians, you should ask forgiveness, from Cubans and the whole region. Having once allowed a ship of war to enter national territory, you’ve once again permitted the forces of destruction and death to befoul Panama’s waters.

Translated for PanAm Post by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Laurie Blair

Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The potential complications 
of the renewed diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.

A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come. continue reading

The climactic hallmark was on December 17th, as a fulfilled promise on the day of San Lázaro Babalú Ayé, with two simultaneous speeches running in parallel windows of millions of web-connected computers all around the world except in Cuba: in one, the democratically-elected American president Barack Obama; in the other, the dynastically-appointed Cuban general Raul Castro. The former wearing the civil elegance of his suit and a hi-tech reading device; the latter in military uniform, rescuing a picture from his violent years before the Revolution in the fabulous fifties, and reading from pile of paper. Quite a pluribus duo, without liberty but with diplomacy for all.

Calls immediately exhausted the batteries of my Chinese mobile. Everybody rushed for a quote about the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era. Only The New York Times was involved enough as to bet on a series of op-eds published weeks in advance (by the way, for over a decade now they also have prêt-à-porter the obituary of Fidel Castro by Anthony De Palma). Some American Cubanologists, like Peter Kornbluh and David E. Guggenheim were conveniently located on the Island that noon. The popular reaction was overwhelming, they claimed. Tears should have come to my eyes, according to the emotional interrogation imposed to me until my smartphone was silenced.

A silence that lasts until today.

Barack Obama told the truth in his allocution: “The United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Raul Castro lied with impassive impunity: “We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.” But this is still not the case.

It’s too early to pretend to demonstrate my skepticism. Or cynicism. As a good Castro subject I know that time on the Island means not money, but more system’s status quo. To keep begging for US bank credits, the Revolution first needs to buy time. This is what biopolitics is all about. A family fighting to secure a second Castro generation in complete control after Fidel’s and Raul’s eventual deaths. Necropolitics.

Obama’s hope was to reopen an embassy in Havana ahead of the Americas summit on April 10th, as he declared to Reuters on March 2nd. In fact, the US Interests Section in Havana has been for years the largest diplomatic mission in Cuba, and no special budget needs to be considered to reestablish the formal status lost in 1961.

Yet, Castro’s hope might be to push back the US engagement to an intolerable limit of stagnation. Havana insists now that the term “normalization” will remain an absurdity while the US keeps Cuba on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. A list currently under expedited revision, as to the State Department to please the Cuban demands. The Democratic White House cannot afford to welcome a Republican president without having its job done —with or without Gitmo, for or against Radio Martí, plus or less the billions requested by Cuba as a historical compensation for decades of US embargo.

As the good-spirited Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson flies to and from Havana, she’s been forced to smile for a selfie with Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machín, her counterparts of the Cuban foreign ministry. Technically, her company is sign of prepotency in the time of appeasement, since in November 2002 Machín was expelled from the US in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case —a Castro top-level spy at the Pentagon— while in May 2003 Vidal voluntarily left the US, when her husband Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera —First Secretary of the Cuban consulate in DC— was also expelled for espionage.

After the mass media catharsis of the first round of talks last January, the third one ended in a hermetic “professional atmosphere” according to the Cuban official report, as abruptly as it was announced, and “with no breakthrough on sticking points in an atmosphere of rising tension over Venezuela”, as recognized with concern by the The New York Times.

The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to explain why she announced “positive and constructive” progress in the discussions. She has now renounced to setting any “timeline or a deadline.” Again, totalitarianism is as much about tyranny as about manipulation of time.

The last speech of Raul Castro in Caracas in support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro came as an ice bucket water challenge: “The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela” [APPLAUSE] and “we won’t concede one iota in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, nor tolerate any interference or conditioning in our internal affairs” [OVATION]. With their monologic belligerency in the Summit of the Americas in Panama, they will “expose the mercenaries who present themselves as Cuban civil society as well as their employers.”

I won’t travel to Panama this time, but I am worried of what could happen to my colleague and friends there, faces with the para-civil society that the regime is organizing as platoons of governmental NGOs, as we all know that on this Island to “expose the mercenaries” means routine repression by the political police: family harassment (Omni Zona Franca Community Poetry Festival), censorship (Hip Hop Rotilla Annual Festival), defamation (independent blogger Ernesto Morales), job dismissal (intellectual Boris Gonzalez Arenas), imprisonment for years with or without charges or trial (Sonia Garro), not paramilitary but paracivil beatings (Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press free-lance agency), temporary or permanent invalidation of travel documents (activist Antonio Rodiles and performer artist Tania Bruguera), repudiation mobs with or without throwing red paint (Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez) or tar (Digna Rodríguez Ibañez) on the dissidents, most of the time women —despite pro-Revolution feminists worldwide— and Afro Cubans —despite pro-Castro race activists worldwide, and selective extrajudicial killing (Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero from the Christian Liberation Movement in July 2012).

Besides, after the nth resurrection of Fidel Castro last month he left an untimely text for the record: against “the eccentric politics” and “brutal plans of US government” Cubans and Venezuelans are united and “ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their country”. It was not only the senile nightmare of a García-Márquez caudillo, because a Cuban government official note denounced the executive order to consider Venezuela a US national security threat as an “arbitrary, interventionist and aggressive” move from President Obama.

Maybe we’ll see in Cuba the masquerade of new investments and markets and local licenses for businesses and more access to the internet and even an electoral reform after the migratory reform, but each and every one understood as concessions, with no fundamental freedoms guaranteed as long as one and only one Communist Party keeps monopolizing all political life, with State Security from the Ministry of the Interior as the real source of governance of a model based on coercion more than in a responsible citizenry, able to self-organize to participate in life after Fidel.

Is the Cuban self-transition from dictatorship to dictatocracy under way with the US as a new geopolitical ally? Time will tell. It will not be the first example of authoritarian regimes mutating into Socialist State capitalism for the sake of regional stability. As the assassinated leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times, we Cubans have the right to have all of our rights recognized beyond any dispute or complicity among power elites. Why what has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is not good for Cubans today? Is it too impolite to peacefully demand that the Cuban people be consulted in a free and safe referendum about the destiny of our nation?

Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism is more than proud to Castrify democratic countries and still play the victim. Anyway, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against decency, since Cuban sovereignty is sequestered by a government that cannot be held accountable by our own people. Maybe this is another victory for The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts at the end.

Certainly it is good news for America that the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes for the first time in our continent. In fact, as we keep on leaving in migratory waves to the US —both legal and illegal— Cubans are making space for Americans to reforest the Island. Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its undiplomatic relations with Washington, DC, at least while the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, remains in place.

Unfortunately we Cubans got accustomed to voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite. Let’s see what the US embassy will imply in terms of profits and principles for the labyrinth of Cuban liberty.

31 March 2015

No blogger, no Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

No blogger, no cry.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

In the beginning was the Blog. 2 But blogs were formless and empty. 3 Repression was all over the blogosphere. 4 And the citizens saw the blogs were good. 5 So that lacking other channels of expression, the Cuban civil society occupied blogosphere as a tool for dissent. 6 Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 7 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the State.

As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).

Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine that in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.

This happened when the Consenso —Consensus— digital magazine became ContodosWith All— and opened the website Desdecuba.com, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster who, in April 2007, started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.

This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of the public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private Internet today.

Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a miracle.cu, although continue reading

the vice-president Miguel Diaz Canel has warned our press not to be objective but “loyal to Fidel, Raul, and the Revolution”, while Fidel himself determined that the “internet is a revolutionary tool”.

Elaine Diaz, blogger of La Polemica Digital —The Digital Polemics— known as critical of certain official measures, but at the same time a professor of journalism at Havana University and now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, in her degree thesis about the Cuban blogosphere “scientifically” established in terms of topics and chronology that none of the renowned dissident bloggers were pioneers at all, thus diluting this phenomenon in an ocean of other blogs practically discovered by her, up to nearly 3,000 today, which outnumbers by far the dozens of local independent bloggers.

Diaz quotes only those blogs that can be quoted in Cuba without risking her research position, like Patria y Humanidad —Homeland and Mankind— since 2006 administered by Luis Sexto, a winner of the National Journalism Prize; and La Isla y la Espina —The Island and the Thorn— since 2007 administered by Reinaldo Cedeño, both defined as open to “foreign authors” and to “hot heated debates” but, of course, within the temperature limits of political discipline on the Island.

Diaz recognizes that the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and no less than the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, authorized more than 1,000 official journalists to open blogs from their workplaces or privileged home connections, in order to —as Milena Recio wrote in her article “Cuban blogs: an entrenched identity”— reproduce in cyberspace the same battlefield logic of the street propaganda, to “counteract the distorted and opposite speeches from hegemonic mass media” against the Revolution.

The very Code of Ethics of UPEC rejects “hyper-criticism” in its article 7, while in articles 8 and 9 reminds their members to “maintain a social and moral behavior in accordance with the principles and norms of our society […] to promote the best of our national values and the constant improvement of our socialist society”. And after paternalism comes a large list of punishments, which includes imprisonment, as happened to a journalist from the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Jose Antonio Torres, accused of espionage after one of his official reports.

Diaz also proposes the “emancipatory and anti-capitalist usefulness of the new media and technology” in Cuba, and the need of “virtual symbols” for a country where it is “possible” the “horizontal dialogue”, beyond power hierarchies and all kinds of social exclusion: by race, by gender, by sexual preference, by economic status, etc. Although she omits to mention the cause of all discriminations in Cuba: the political intolerance and hate speech of the revolutionary government, summarized by Fidel Castro in his speech to Cuban intellectuals in 1961: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.”

Recently, this “dialogue” approach has been updated by the web Cuba Posible of Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga, former editors of a Catholic Church magazine that published some civil debates, where certain civil society activists managed to participate. Cuba Posible claims for the complicit concept of “loyal opposition” to the regime, if critics are to be considered legitimate. Besides, Gonzalez and Veiga urge the Cuban dissidence to commit suicide and stop all the support they receive from foreign NGOs, despite the detail that they both defended this viewpoint from Washington DC, invited in January 2015 by a compendium of US pro-Castro NGOs, like the Cuba Research Center of Philip Peters.

During the last decade, the Cuban alternative blogosphere has expanded and contracted like the cycles of a claustrophobic universe. Its main communication strategies and activists have renovated only to remain identical.

With my blog of fictionalized chronicles Lunes de Post-Revolution —Post Revolution Mondays— and my photoblog Boring Home Utopics, I have witnessed most of this Cuban digital e-volution, with its pro-human rights achievements and, unfortunately, with today´s drawbacks in front of a State involved in a self-transition to capitalism without capitalists, but with accomplices of Castros’ agenda.

Most of free-lance Cubans’ blogs are linked in the websites HavanaTimes.org and VocesCubanas.com, where can be found the famous Generation Y of Yoani Sanchez, blogs from visual artists like the graffiti performer Danilo Maldonado El Sexto (in jail since last December) and the photographer Claudio Fuentes, blogs dedicated to new media and technologies like the one by Walfrido Lopez, blogs from independent lawyers to give legal advice like the unregistered Cuban Juridical Association of Wilfredo Vallin, blogs from religious leaders like the Baptist minister Mario Felix Lleonart, blogs of digital publications like Plural Thinking NotebooksNotebooks for the Transition, and the magazine Voices edited by me, community participation initiatives like Pais de Pixeles photo-contest, blogs of filmed debate projects which then are uploaded to the web to impact on public opinion, like Razones Ciudadanas/Citizens’ Quests.

Thanks to the volunteer amateur projects TranslatingCuba.com and HemosOido.com many of these blogs are distributed beyond geographical isolation and the barriers of language.

Mainly in Havana, much closer to the www than Cuban pre-technological countryside, events have been held to shift from the cyberspace to citizen mobilization, like the Blogger Academy where we teach the technical rudiments of self-publication, as well as the primitive option of tweeting by an international SMS sent from the Island, as local mobiles have no internet service in Cuba. Other events also held in private houses, like the two annual editions of Click Festival 2012 and 2013, had the privilege to count on international experts on blogs, and consequently they were stigmatized by the governmental blogosphere as being part of a subversive conspiracy to disrupt social stability.

Indeed, cyber-bullying is the less brutal answer of Castro’s political police to Cubans exercising our right to freedom of expression.

Two inflexion points in this abusive battle of the government against their own citizenry, occurred in 2011. First, the Cuban TV showed a weekly series on Cyber-mercenaries where all independent activists were severely threatened to be prosecuted (coincidentally, Elaine Diaz was used an example of blogging correctly). Then a suspicious video leak occurred from State Security, where an officer later identified by the social media as Eduardo “Tato” Fontes Suarez, delivers a conference for the Ministry of the Interior to teach them how to manipulate the internet in the era of an American president “much worse the Bush”, implementing a clone blogosphere to reproduce Cuban official press and saturate the web with convenient contents. This includes the logic of creating authorized local versions of Wikipedia (like Ecured), Facebook (like La Tendedera), Twitter (like El Pitazo), etc.

This should remind us of the theories of Evgeny Morozov on how disappointing is the excess of web optimism, because repressors also learn how to take advantage of the interconnected world to channelize and control social discontent to their own convenience.

Unfortunately, after the 2013 migratory reform that for the first time in decades allowed Cubans to travel abroad without the humiliating “exit permit” or “definitive departure”, international recognition of Cuban civil society leadership has meant a national weakening of our networks and the dispersion of our already limited impact on the Island.

All the peaceful movements and prominent personalities of Cuban civil society, that in the good old days of 2008-2011 seemed about to integrate in a unified opposition front with political implications, are now splintered in their respective personal initiatives among themselves. The more successful their international projections, the more isolated among themselves are their national projects. We Cubans are still lacking a culture of open polemics and understanding of differences. After more than half a century, Castroism has castrified even their opponents.

Here are some sad examples, as they all are my dear friends and have been fighting quite a long time for a better future in Cuba:

The Ladies in White split one more time, in a fractal procedure that keeps the movement stagnated in number of members, and with an exponential increase of refugees fleeing to the US. Once in exile, most Cuban dissidents quit social activism or, in the best cases, end up as secretaries in Cuban American NGOs. The legacy of their founding leader Laura Pollán is at risk for the benefit of the Ministry of the Interior, now that their new leader Berta Soler carried out a shameful repudiation against one of its former members, and then had to hold a referendum to ratify her life-long leadership. But Soler was expelled anyway by the daughter of Laura Pollán from her home headquarters in Neptuno Street in Central Havana, where Laura Pollán junior expects to direct a new foundation that will monopolize exclusive use of her mother’s name.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) is headless after the 2012 extrajudicial killing in Cuba of their leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. Internal rearrangements have displaced from any position even the daughter and the widow of Oswaldo Payá, in a dispute for the redemptive legacy of the martyr, as well as the strategies that should be implemented by this now virtually an exiled movement.

The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) always has nearly half of their activists in jail. On one hand, UNPACU fostered the creation of an independent branch that broke out of the Ladies in White, the Lady Citizens for Democracy. On the other hand, they are obsessed with detecting and denouncing —and sometimes converting to the cause of freedom— Castro’s secret agents, like the infamous case of Ernesto Vera, but they lack a citizen mobilization strategy beyond their self-extinguishable street protests, partly because the Cuban people are unfortunately unmovable.

The Somos Mas movement launched by Eliécer Avila relies only on his face and voice as a charismatic character, once himself a digital soldier that conducted the Operation Truth at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), a platoon of trolls devoted to defaming activists worldwide, distorting online forums and surveys dealing with Cuba, and hacking websites that expose the violations and fallacies of continental Castroism.

The bitter debate of mutual distrust and discredit between those close to blogger Yoani Sanchez and her brand-new 14yMedio.com digital outlet —prone to take advantage of the US-Cuba new engagement to push the limits of censorship in Cuba—, and other previous digital citizen journalists, like the staff of Primavera Digital (who in turn last year publicly despised their Swedish funding partners), and also with the well-known Antonio Rodiles from the very active audiovisual discussion project Estado de Sats, who practically accused 14yMedio and colleagues of collaborating with the regime’s surviving agenda of allowing foreign investments with no guarantee for human rights, in a Putin-like or Chinese or Vietnamese or Burma post-totalitarian model.

On the official part, in the monolithic digital headquarter of Cubadebate, general Raul Castro with his speech at the ALBA Summit in Caracas this month, and many other op-eds published in tandem, has warned that the “international ultraconservative right” is again deploying its “mass media weapons” to use the “concept of civil society in order to attack all the progressive governments from the hemispheric left, with the purpose to deceive and manipulate all the peoples of the world.”

Cubadebate has even announced the popular repudiation that Cuban dissidents —namely, “mercenaries”— will receive in the Summit of the Americas in Panama next week, because we all are “conceived, paid and directed as drones from the US and the EU, through NGOs supposedly for the promotion of human rights, but in fact having met with confessed terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, and besides being directly financed by secret institutions of the American imperialism, including the Pentagon and the CIA”.

In March 2015 the Castro regime still proudly calls Cuban social activist leaders “Washington’s puppets, in the line of the dictators Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, whose mission if ever we attain power is to surrender the wealth of our nation to the US monopolies”, and a white elite that cares not about the “black, aboriginal, farmer and workers minorities”.

Although, paradoxically, it was Fidel Castro who dollarized the Cuban economy for over 20 years now, while his brother Raul Castro is demanding financial credit from American banks and corporations. Furthermore, Afro Cubans suffer much more than other dissidents in Cuba in the hands of the mostly white State Security top-officers, who assume that blacks owe more gratitude to them the rest of the Cuban people.

These are only some tragic examples:

The death of the Afro Cuban opposition activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo in a jail, after a long hunger strike in 2010 to stop torture against him. The 33 months that the Afro Cuban member of the Ladies in White Sonia Garro and her husband spent in prison without charges and with no trial. The harassment and beatings against of Afro Cuban leader Jorge Luis Garcia (Antunez), usually prevented from stepping out of his own house in Placetas town. The arbitrary political police arrests, plus the temporary or permanent invalidation of the passports of Cuban Afro Cuban intellectuals and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. The fascist-like mobs conducted by the government against the residences of Berta Soler and other Afro Cuban peaceful women of the Ladies in White, including throwing tar —yes, tar— with impunity against their bodies, like recently happened to Digna Rodríguez Ibañez. Or staining them by force with red paint to resemble human blood, like they did to Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez.

The White House and the remains of the US economic embargo should not ignore that a market economy is not a tropical liberation formula, since it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for despotic control. The secret negotiations to appease our tired tyranny should remember that what has been good for free Americans since the Eighteenth Century is also good for Cubans citizens today.

The rationale that, after waiting for so long, Cuban democracy can wait a little longer is a discriminatory concept implicitly legitimized by the US press and academics in their search of a lost Latin American Left.

Maybe the hope of the White House is that the New Man will stop being a soldier and become the New Salesman, but bringing down the wall should mean more than opening up the wallet. In the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer their Pearl of the Antilles, they shouldn’t forget that we “Cubans have the right to have rights,” as preached by Oswaldo Payá before the gerontocracy and their international accomplices took his life.

In any case, according to the migratory statistics, Cubans are certainly making a lot of space for the Yankees to come home to our Island, as we keep escaping by legal or lethal means, in a kind of pedestrians’ plebiscite, voting with our fleeing feet instead of with electoral ballots.

For the funerals of Fidel, the commander-in-chief will have achieved all the glories of history —which is the mother of all horrors— but also the frantic farewell of his own people —almost one-fourth of our population. This migratory crisis is what the US is really trying to stop by stabilizing the Communist dynastic succession to the Castros 2.0 generation: namely, Alejandro and Mariela Castro Espin, among other relatives, whether dandies or despots, many of them holding high level positions in the Cuban establishment while receiving privileged visitor status in the US.

The hope would be in convoking a national referendum with international observers so that the Cuban people can freely and safely express our will for the first time since 1948. Otherwise, Cuba will become a Castro-centralized capitalist condominium, economically annexed to the US but with a hyper-nationalist speech to justify impunity on the Island.

Now President Barack Obama can choose to extend his helping hand to the oldest Latin American dictatorship. Or he can consider if the Cuban people deserves to endure our apartheid until the last of the Castros manages to remain in power without consulting anyone (except maybe Obama himself).

1 Fidelism 1959, the temperature at which fundamental freedoms burn. 2 As time blogs by. 3 As I lay blogging. 4 The blogger in the ryevolution. 5 From dictatorship to dictocracy. 5 Blogged the Raven: nevermore. 6 Castrobamacare as the measure of all things. 7Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 8 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the States.

29 March 2015

Our Dead Are Raising Their Eyelids / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 22 January 2015

It’s true. Although I still don’t believe it.

But they’ve told me it in all the families I’ve visited since I’ve been out of my country. That’s what families are, a mausoleum. They don’t lie. There is no Cuban family which is not our death memory.

That’s how it is. We Cubans die in the family. That’s the saddest part of dying. Not dying as such, which doesn’t bother the person dying, but the horror of imposing on exactly those people who loved us while we were alive. People should go and die among strangers. Get lost, and that’s it. That’s why I went to the United States. That’s why I didn’t die in Havana, in spite of the fact death whispered “Orlando” in my ear every morning where I lived. continue reading

But it’s true. At first I panicked when I knew that somebody was going to tell me the same thing again. Without, of course, coming to any agreement, without ever having been in contact with each other. So, I only wanted to grab the phone, call my house and cry.

Little by little I was thinking more about it. I calmed down. From fear of the mystery to admiration of the secret sense of a non-existent nation: Cuba. The stories repeat themselves. Every Cuban family can remember one, two, three, ten cases. In every Cuban family the same sparkle in the eyes, and the trembling of the hands of the person telling me about it. And maybe too many generations have passed. We are now in exile, without guides, and with no turning back. That’s to say, we are an empty space. We all now have a memory at home of one of us who died without love, without a home, without Cuba.

They have told me it in Spanish and English. In Hialeah, which is La Lisa del Norte, and in Fairbanks, Alaska, where no other Cuban has ever been. Two details are always included:

1) In exile you don’t die at any old time. You die at night, which is when our country is reflected in the sky and indirectly under the breastbone, and because of that it is easy to see it more closely than when we are there.

2) When a Cuban goes away to die far from Cuba, he has a very intense moment of lucidity. And of youth. He stops being the scornful and cruel adult which he has always been, and gets back then an aura of the angel which he never has stopped being. We become good at the precise moment when we can no longer do any good. And every family tells me, in almost the very same words, irrespective of the level of education or intellectual pretentiousness, that the distant Cuban, before he dies, always pronounces the name of Cuba.

Can you believe it? It’s amazing. A destroyed people, degraded, dispersed, unable to recognise each other. And at the time which is no time, totally stretched out on the beloved bed to create the following Cubans, who will later cuddle them while they grow between great big pillows which save them from the shortages in Cuba, collapsed on the edge of the tomb, watched without a goodbye by our people  where everything comes together into a death rattle. And we breath out this elemental pair of syllables: Cuba.

I have never read this before revealing it here. I owe this evidence to the Cuban people, we owe it to them.  And it’s a perverse word which I detest as a killer of men. But after knowing how we will all die without Cuba, including you and me, I think we deserve to be some kind of a people. The nocturnal imaginary nation, hollow, like the human heart. The family remembering those who are going to die by themselves and neverthless with a chorus of Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.

Don’t let me say goodbye to you. What with death and everything, I still love you.

Translated by GH