The Backyard of My House is NOT Special* / Regina Coyula

First Screen:
There have been threats of drastic measures to be taken against any who do not comply with maintenance guidelines, and owners of vacant houses who have not had them fumigated. What you will see here is an open space of state property located just 30 yards from my house. All that’s needed is a light rain.

Last Screen:
Regina Coyula
Theme Music: The Mosquito’s Bite
J. Rudess; J. Petrucci
14 March 2016

*Translator’s Note: This is a take-off from a line in a Spanish-language children’s nonsense song, “The backyard of my house is special: it gets wet when there’s rain, just like the others.”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

16 March 2016

Tangential Reaction to Obama’s Visit / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 23 March 2016 — The reactions of the press have been quick to come. Yet, the visit from the American president has given us much to talk about. But I want to talk about comments from Rosa Miriam Elizalde yesterday on the Roundtable program on Cuban state TV. With respect to the offering of internet made during Barack Obama’s visit, the director of the portal Cubadebate could not think of a better way to refute this offer than to appeal to the example of an African country where a Swedish NGO installed magnificent internet service and the Africans, because they didn’t know how to use it, have it “filled with noise.” The same thing, she said, could happen here to Cubans.

I will leave each of you to your musings provoked by the journalist’s reflection. In my case, I think the real reason for their eagerness to put a negative spin on it is nothing more than to deny access to the content that each person could choose for themselves had they the freedom that, in Cuba, the government keeps for itself without consulting its citizens. Elizalde, with privileged access to internet of the highest quality, chose to appear arrogant, ignoring the educational level of Cubans and putting Cuba at the level of Africa.

He Failed to Immolate “His People” to End “Yankee Imperialism” / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev.
Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev.

14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 11 March 2016 — I remember clearly my mom in her militia uniform, kneeling beside me, instructing me to get under a bed, cover myself with a wet towel and bite the stick of cedar she had hung around my neck when the bombs began to fall. I remember nothing more of those days. The intensity of those recommendations was recorded in the precocity of a six-year-old girl.

They were useless recommendations for what was expected. My parents and my brothers were mobilized and I was left in the care of my grandmother. The Americans were coming. We Cubans expected to be disintegrated under a mushroom cloud.

This simple view of the October crisis took on form with the years. So I disagree with another myth of Cuba’s relations with the United States: “Cuba brought the world to the brink Continue reading “He Failed to Immolate “His People” to End “Yankee Imperialism” / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

The Crosshairs in the Crosshairs / Regina Coyula

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 6.18.35 PMRegina Coyula, 12 March 2016 — In a decision that takes one’s breath away, even among commentators who defend official orthodoxy, the author of the blog El Colimador (The Crosshairs) has decided to stop publishing.

He had been “notified by the monitoring team for the Reflejos platform, due to the publications of comments approved by him that violate the conditions of use established by this platform.” Continue reading “The Crosshairs in the Crosshairs / Regina Coyula”

Another Myth In Cuba-U.S. Relations / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Fidel Castro (2nd from R.) in the Sierra Maestra (CC)
Fidel Castro (2nd from R.) in the Sierra Maestra (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 8 March 2016 — “It was the Revolutionary government in Cuba that pushed the situation to the rupture of diplomatic relations in January 1961.”

It is well known that Herbert Matthews’ interview of Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra, shortly after the landing of the yacht Granma, favorably predisposed American public opinion towards the personality of the guerrilla leader and the objectives of his struggle, which had been detailed in the document “History Will Absolve Me.”

However, in the months following the triumph of the Revolution, the summary trials and executions of numerous collaborators of the overthrown Batista regime served to tarnish in this good impression. It was not possible to overlook the judgment annulled in a public speech by Fidel Castro – an attorney well acquainted the procedures – of the aviators in Santiago de Cuba in February, which ended with the suicide of Felix Pena, commander of the Rebel Army and president of the court that absolved them. Continue reading “Another Myth In Cuba-U.S. Relations / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

Myths And Facts About Cuba-US Relations / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

A man pedaling a pedicab with the American flag through the streets of Havana. (EFE)
A man pedaling a pedicab with the American flag through the streets of Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 5 March 2016 — The analysis of relations between Cuba and the United States, during almost sixty years of single-party government on one side and 11 presidents alternating in a two-party government on the other, is a magnet for political scientists and historians from different latitudes, but with a special emphasis, for obvious reasons, for Cubans and Americans. Last week, a text appeared on Cubadebate – a Cuban government run site – the objective of which was to dismantle myths about these controversial relations.

Starting with the introduction, the author, the academic Elier Ramirez Cañedo, announces that, despite the well-studied historical parenthesis, there are underlying mistaken ideas (myths) about the performance of the parties, and he immediately goes on to warn that “the historical distortion is a form of attack against the Cuban project, within a broader strategy of cultural war against socialism in Cuba.” Continue reading “Myths And Facts About Cuba-US Relations / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

The Functionary and the Poet / Regina Coyula

Rafael Alcides (Screen shot from Miguel Coyula's video interview)
Rafael Alcides (Screen shot from Miguel Coyula’s video interview)

Regina Coyula, 3 March 2016 — A consular official, in a flying interview lasting barely five minutes, told my husband he was not eligible to travel to the United States with a non-immigrant visa. According to the document he was given, my husband was not able to demonstrate that his proposed visit was consistent with the visa he requested.

What did this interview consist of? The official asked the reason for the trip, and the reason for the trip is a cultural meeting to deliver a tribute, in which my husband is the person to be honored. The second and last question was regarding whether he had family in the United States, to which he responded honestly that he has a son that he lost contact with a decade ago

The consular authorities of this (and any other country) have the right to approve or not approve the entry of foreigners to their territory. But haste should not make this interview a mechanical process. This awkward gentleman who face-to-face with the inquisitive functionary wasn’t able to remember the name of the institution intending to honor him, is one of the most important living poets of Cuban culture. A brief glance at Google could have informed the official about the gentleman in front of him, and relieved him of the idea that this traveler would be one more old man wanting to shelter under the Cuban Adjustment Act and Social Security benefits.

The decision — which cannot be appealed to anyone — recommends that he wait at least a year to return “if and when personal circumstances have significiantly changed.” It is lamentable, because Rafael Alcides will continue to live and write from his inxile in Havana in the same circumstances of today if he survives this year of being ignored awarded to him by the consular official.

Sent from my telephone with Nauta Mail.

A Swede in Burundi, a Uruguayan in Cuba / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

The journalist Fernando Ravsberg.
The journalist Fernando Ravsberg.

14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 10 February 2016 – The Uruguayan journalist Fernando Ravsberg has spent years living in Cuba. But after reading his article Uncle Sam’s Cuban Cousins, and pondering it, I think what happened to Ravsberg in Cuba is the same thing that happened to the “disoriented Swede in Burundi” he references in his article.

One finds errors in his article that are the fruit of original sin, because the journalist, despite his close following of national events, speaks of the opposition as a whole; it is never appropriate to speak in phrases such as, “this group,” or “the project opponents.” This is serious because Ravsberg’s blog is not censored in Cuba, many subscribe to it by email, and a reading of the article in question gives the false conclusion that the entire dissidence acts under the umbrella of the United States government although, according to his own words, this same dissidence, in a total contradiction, is trying to boycott the normalization of relations promoted by its master. Continue reading “A Swede in Burundi, a Uruguayan in Cuba / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

For A Real Battle Of Ideas in Cuba / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Sign on a street of Havana. “The Revolution is Invincible” (EFE)
Sign on a street of Havana. “The Revolution is Invincible” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 7 February 2016 – Whether it is a Cuban government presided over by a member of the Communist party, or by someone else elected by the direct and secret vote of the citizenry, the challenges that lie ahead for this future government are immeasurable. In an environment with a free flow of information, where stating an opinion is no longer perceived as a punishable activity by some, or potentially dangerous by others, Cuba, as unanimous as it seems to be, will become a tempestuous stage for disparate opinions. Continue reading “For A Real Battle Of Ideas in Cuba / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

“Periodismo de Barrio” (Neighborhood Journalism) / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 5 February 2016 — With a low media profile, sidestepping the incomprehension of establishment colleagues and the suspicions of the independent press, Periodismo de Barrio has begun its journey. Meanwhile, journalism-in-praise-of-the-government on one side and of-criticisms on the other, has appeared in this digital space that in its almost monographic issues has given us an accurate picture of Santiago de Cuba four years after Hurricane Sandy to present a straightforward and effective account of the half-life of those people who never make the headlines, those we are given to call “average Cubans.”

I would like to talk with Elaine Diaz, the lead on this project and former professor at the Faculty of Social Communication at the University of Havana, about this experience. We don’t even have to agree that the excellent articles from her news site not only confirms the government’s inability to provide a prosperous and sustainable life for citizens in the name of whom they say — and should — govern, but they leave them very badly off. I look forward to meeting Elaine; meanwhile I welcome this new site.

Twenty Independent Communicators to Consult in Cuba / Luis Felipe Rojas

ndependent Journalism. Illustration from "Another Waves" website
Independent Journalism. From “Another Waves”

Luis Felipe Rojas, 1 February 2016 — This list is not intended to be a “Top Ten,” as is so common on internet publications. The list of names that follows carries the history of the men and women who believe in words and images as a tool of liberation.

The independent journalists that appear below do their work in Cuba under the microscope of the apparatus of repression that we know as State Security.

Most of them suffer arbitrary arrests, they have spent long years in prison, they are violently detained, vilified and — paradoxically — are non-persons in government media. In the case of Jorge Olivera Castillo, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the “2003 Black Spring,” but he continues, unrepentant, to do alternative journalism. Continue reading “Twenty Independent Communicators to Consult in Cuba / Luis Felipe Rojas”

National Identity As A Pretext / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Flags of the United States and Cuba in the streets of Havana. (14ymedio)
Flags of the United States and Cuba in the streets of Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 30 January 2016 — The view that the change in United States policy toward Cuba carries the danger of a loss of independence and of the values of national identity makes me smile wryly. Contrary to those who are worried, I would say that we Cubans are immune to the loss of identity, an idea that has some losing sleep.

It did not happen during the Republic, when we had mediated governments, nor did it happen when the Soviet influence was such that it “created” traditions, things that almost no one remembers now, like laying a bride’s flowers at the bust of a martyr, or substituting “Hurrah!” for “Viva!” among others I won’t even try to list. Instead, traditional festivities around Christmas, New Years and Easter were cancelled, along with others I also won’t try to list. Continue reading “National Identity As A Pretext / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

Speculations and Speculations / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 18 January 2016 — Alejandro Armengol is the author of articles full of common sense that often clash with the opinions of opponents of the Castro regime inside and outside Cuba, but his article about the aggressions inflicted on the couple Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzales on 10 January, one more day of #TodosMarchamos (We All March) protests, seemed unwise to me.

And not because he’s not right about much of what he says, but because everything is not as explicit as it should be, and it is certain to leave many readers, among them myself, full of speculations about the intricacies of the recent trip of the two well-known activists to Miami. Continue reading “Speculations and Speculations / Regina Coyula”

A Doubt / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 21 December 2015 — With his general’s uniform, the Cuban president delivered his summary of the past twelve months of relations with the United States. I imagine that much has been written on the subject, but I would like someone to me help to understand what share of sovereignty is surrendered when one is attempting to build a democracy. To a good year’s end and a better 2016.

Translated by: Araby

The Translators / Regina Coyula

Regina Coyula, 11 December 2015 — There are moments when not even knowing grammar saves you when the time comes  to decode information. News arrives of change in Latin America and on discussing it with people better educated and informed than average — people I know, who are convinced of the need for change in this country and want it as much as I — it turns out I see them repeating like a catechism the same views from a lady who commented on television, someone not characterized by the acuity of her arguments, or those of the announcers and guests on the Telesur channel, which though it is a paradigm of media manipulation from the left (?), at least has the decency to cover events “in real time,” and when I put this information together with what I got from other means, I can judge for myself.

These commentators on the news have the habit of translating for the Cuban public the intentions, personality and projects of government opponents (in the interests of the government, if it relates to the Cuban government), but never, for variety, do they let me hear it from the mouths of the protagonists themselves. Continue reading “The Translators / Regina Coyula”