A View From Cuba: The Carnivorous Left And Obama’s Visit To Argentina / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano

The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, received President Barack Obama Wednesday in the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (EFE)
The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, received President Barack Obama Wednesday in the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, Rene Gomez Manzano, 25 March 2016 – After his historic visit to Cuba, United States President Barack Obama traveled to Buenos Aires for an official visit with his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macro. It would be hard to imagine two scenarios more dissimilar than those encountered by the American president on the Caribbean island and in the Rio de la Plata country.

In Cuba, regardless of the efforts now made by both sides to normalize relations that have been poisoned for half a century, deep differences remain between the veteran Castro government, totalitarian by vocation, and the United States, world champion of democracy and free enterprise. Nevertheless, during the visit the parties addressed these differences in a very diplomatic way. Continue reading “A View From Cuba: The Carnivorous Left And Obama’s Visit To Argentina / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano”

In Argentina, however, Obama was meeting with a leader newly installed in power, who shares the same basic ideas and has begun his term with his sleeves rolled up, doing everything he can to bring order to the country’s economy and government so that the country can emerge from the difficulties created by the previous governments.

An example of this is the massive layoffs. Former President Kirchner and her allies are raising the roof, crying foul about the layoffs of workers. Those who know the reality know that the bulk of those dismissed are featherbedders: individuals whose principal (if not only) task is to show up every month to collect their wages.

As for the current visit, it is true that there is a certain asymmetry: the American president has less than a year left in the White House, while the time Macri has been in the presidential palace in Buenos Aires is less than that. But this difference does not appear important in a relationship that, according to all indications, they aim to further strengthen in the long term.

During Obama’s stay in the Argentina capital a chorus from the radical left arose, both in the country he was visiting and in the rest of Latin America, virulently critical of the trip and of the United States president.

A leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo described his visit as “a provocation and an absurdity.” In the heat of sectarianism, the ladies even to reached a consensus to attend the tribute where, it was announced, Obama would pay homage to the tens of thousands of victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship. That is, to the children, grandchildren, sons- and daughters-in-law of the bellicose elderly.

Kirchner’s allies also joined in this attitude of rejection and condemnation, it couldn’t have been otherwise given the Chavez-style propaganda ministry that goes by the name Telesur (a multi-government sponsored television network), whose star commentator, Walter Martinez, praised to excess a journalist’s question to Obama about military regimes in the seventies. Not content with that, Martinez bitterly criticized the skillful response by the American president.

One would have to be blind not to see the double standards applied by all the apologists of socialism. In Cuba it seemed very correct “not to mention the rope in the house of the hanged man.” But in Argentina they considered it a betrayal that the illustrious visitor preferred to focus on the future, instead of dedicating himself to clarifying the past.

Particularly since, even if the American governments of the time were not openly hostile to the Argentine coup leaders, the determining factor for the human rights violations that were perpetrated was the will of Argentina’s own gorillas. And this will (although it does not justify the atrocities perpetrated) was a response to the subversion unleashed by those following in the path of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, eager to rise to power through blood and fire.

These carnivorous leftists don’t seem to see the glaring contradiction: On the one hand, they claim that Latin America is now truly free for the first time (thanks to them, as they claim). But on the other hand, they do not hesitate to virulently criticize the visit of the head of the world’s superpower, undertaken on an equal footing with one of these now free countries.

Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano

Homepage of “Neighborhood Journalism.” Headline: Why do Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba today?
Homepage of “Neighborhood Journalism.” Headline: Why do Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba today?

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano, Havana, 24 October 2015 — Thanks to the US Embassy in Havana, which provides press briefings with national and international news to us Cubans who navigate in their internet rooms, last Monday, October 19, I learned about a new information organ. Periodismo de Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism) is the name by which the colleagues engaged in it identify themselves.

The presentation of the new digital media starts with an appealing paragraph: “Journalism is an implicit promise of change. Presenting yourself as a journalist is almost like preaching in favor of hope. When you ask someone to tell you their story, it is not just asking them to confide in you, but also to believe that sharing their story can help to change something.”

According to its statement of principles, “Neighborhood Journalism is born with the objective of bringing to the public the stories of neighborhoods affected by natural disasters, or particularly vulnerable to phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, landslides or others caused by man.” Continue reading “Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano”

A summary of the United States press fills more than 34 pages of the first issue. In addition, there are reports – of good quality including some that are excellent, although perhaps one might consider them late – dedicated to floods suffered by different Havana neighborhoods six months ago, during the torrential rains of last April 29.

It should be clarified that the colleagues of the new media have shown a special interest in not projecting themselves as against the established government in our country. In the presentation, for example, it is bluntly stated, “We do not accept donations from any institution that seeks – or has sought – the subversion of the Cuban political system.”

Are these journalists outside the system, but who do not want to stand out as being so? “Chemically pure” informers who do not want to identify themselves with any party agenda? Agents of a new pro-government initiative to make it seem that in Cuba the press acts freely? The broad access that Neighborhood Journalism enjoys to the Castro regime’s organs and officials could suggest the latter.

But the answers to these questions do not seem to have great importance. The purpose of truthfully reflecting the realities that confront our compatriots in the face of natural disasters deserve everyone’s applause. And it is fair to say that the compañeros of Neighborhood Journalism, to achieve this purpose, have displayed objectivity and professional skill. They do not follow the easy path of limiting themselves to proclaiming “the Revolution does not abandon its children.”

The series of reports begins with a piece by Geisy Guia Delis devoted to the work of the members of the National Search and Rescue Detachment, belonging to the Fire Department. It does not lavish laudatory adjectives or trite words on them: it focuses on the facts, such as – and this is just one example – the outstanding performance of a disabled rescuer, something that is perhaps exclusively Cuban.

From the expository point of view, it might have been preferable to start the delivery of Neighborhood Journalism with another of the reports. But we should not belittle different aspects of importance. Among them, the understandable aspiration to play it safe, leading off with a laudatory work which, regardless of the humanitarian effort undertaken, is about an arm of the Ministry of the Interior, an emblematic force of the system. One more way not to alienate the powers-that-be.

The second article is a report from San Felipe by Monica Baro: probably the best of the issue. It is amazed that the dispossessed of this capital neighborhood continue to suffer the calamities described in the report, trembling with anxiety whenever the sky clouds over and threatens rain with the consequent promise of certain flooding. And this more than half a century after the proclamation of the “Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble”…

The colleagues of Neighborhood Journalism elude political allusions like the one I just offered, but it is not necessary to make them. They describe the reality and this, in its turbidity, is more eloquent than any adjective or declarations. We await their upcoming issues.

Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case / Rene Gomez Manzano

Fidel Castro, “a lawyer without any cases”

The awarding of the National Law Prize to Fidel Castro—who abolished the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts,” did away with procedural guarantees, and outlawed unfettered advocacy—is a mockery of justice.

I acknowledge that when I read that item my first thought was: “But hadn’t he already been given that?” We know that in these totalitarian regimes dominated by Marxism-Leninism, the bosses, by virtue of being that, are destined for all the distinctions, recognitions, and awards that have been or might be given. That the alumnus Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz had not been previously considered when this Prize was first granted probably cost some bureaucrat in the judicial sector a good scolding.

Now that it is an accomplished fact we should ask: What objective reasons exist for granting it? Was it based on the person’s performance before or after coming to power? The dilemma warrants that we briefly address these issues in order to give a response.

The professional practice of the older Castro after graduating as a lawyer was practically nil. In this he is no different from other figures who have gotten into history carrying a law degree. Internationally: Robespierre, Karl Marx, Lenin. In Cuba: Agramonte, Céspedes, Martí. These are just a few examples.

Fidel and his logorrhea

Of course I’m not making value judgments, simply naming people who, for better or worse, have earned a place in history. “Lawyer” is the title that is generally used to describe those figures. Although the appellation is not false, it is not really accurate nor illuminating. To more accurately describe what is common in these characters, we have to use a slightly longer phrase: “Lawyers without cases.” Continue reading “Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case / Rene Gomez Manzano”

This last characteristic is what distinguishes these beings. Unlike their colleagues, their activity is not devoted to drafting legal documents, outlining legal theories, or obtaining the acquittal of an accused. No; in the universities they were outfitted with the same tools, but they use them, if at all, to achieve more ambitious and broader political or social objectives. If they represent a clientele, it is political and not professional.

In the case of Fidel Castro, the grantors argue that the Prize is granted “to mark the 60th anniversary of his self-proclaimed defense ’History will absolve me.’” According to Granma, the obliging colleagues of the association of legal officials described this document as “a seamless legal piece . . . that has transcended the boundaries of space and time.”

We know that if anything has characterized the honoree, it is his overwhelming verbosity (rightly documented in The Guinness Book of Records). But the tens of thousands of pages containing his discourses, such as History Will Absolve Me, cannot be found anywhere else; they are not quoted in history books or cited alongside philosophers of past centuries. Haven’t the obsequious jurists noticed? Can’t they draw any conclusions from this?

José Ramón Machado Ventura received the National Law Prize on behalf of Fidel

In his plea, Castro criticized the mechanism (reminiscent of the classic tale of the chicken and the egg) established in the Constitutional Laws of the Batista regime: The President of the Republic appointed the ministers, and these in turn elected him. The curious thing is that after the climb to power of the revolutionary team in 1959, the Basic Law established exactly the same vicious mechanism.

A detailed description of the illegal acts perpetrated by the recipient during the scores of years of his absolute rule would require a collection of books. He did away with the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts” composed of guerrilla fighters lacking legal education, eliminated procedural guarantees, outlawed the unfettered practice of law, and converted the prosecution into a body guided by political criteria. In a word, he dismantled the solid Cuban legal system.

If the bureaucrats of the Union of Cuban Jurists consider that the perpetrator of such acts deserves the National Law Prize, they are saying very clearly what they really think about this award, which they both created and bestowed.

Cubanet, March 6, 2014  /  René Gómez Manzano

Translated by Tomás A.

I Defend My Lawyer / Rene Gomez Manzano

The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by X.
The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by Jorge Ignacio Pérez

Havana, Cuba, February 2014 – Last week disturbing news circulated throughout the Cuban dissident community: The top permanent body of the National Organization of Collective Law Firms (ONBC) suspended Amelia Rodríguez Cala—the great defender of accused opponents of the regime—from practicing law for a period of six months.

As the days passed, additional details about the clumsy maneuver surfaced. It became clear that, although they invoked other reasons, what is at the heart of this new hoax is the aim of punishing this learned woman because of her upright stand in the exercise of her profession.

As usual, other pretexts are deployed. They initiated disciplinary proceedings against Amelia based on alleged complaints from two clients. At this point, it is reasonable to suspect that at least one of them is a provocateur in the service of the regime. In any case, a cursory examination of the two complaints demonstrates the weakness of the allegations.

In the case of Caridad Chacón Feraudy, it is claimed that the attorney did not submit her evidence in time. Never mind that a technical assistant breached her obligation of notifying and informing the lawyer about the matter. Nor that Amelia ultimately won the case, as the evidence was presented to better purpose, and accepted and used by the Court. Continue reading “I Defend My Lawyer / Rene Gomez Manzano”

For her part, Regla Capote Alayo claims that there was no notification to the firm to report the judgment in her case. In this regard, the same lawyer exhibits the documents showing she met with that woman no less than ten times, without the woman giving her the courtesy of bringing this up.

Anyone examining the matter impartially would conclude that Dr. Rodríguez Cala should be exonerated. But the outcome was otherwise, and to ask for objectivity from the ONBC leaders is like expecting mangoes from a pine tree. What has now been decided against Amelia is just the latest link in a long chain of constant acts of harassment against her.

We know of the constant harassment that the leaders of the Carlos III Collective Law Firm have maintained against the jurist. In this, the unit director, Ileana Sandoval Roldán, and the team leader Franklyn Menéndez Tamayo, have distinguished themselves.

They have made her life impossible. In haphazard fashion they constantly question her about supposed deficiencies in her work. This has been repeated in the presence of several different clients, who can attest to the despotic and abusive way that the leaders of that law firm treat the attorney. This is no accident.

Rodríguez Cala has defended over a hundred dissidents. At the time she was excluded from her professional practice, she was representing almost all the independent personalities who are today involved in court cases: Berta Soler, Martha Beatriz Roque, Sonia Garro, Ramón Muñoz, Ángel Santiesteban, Marcelino Abreu Bonora, Reinier Mulet, Miguel Ulloa Guinart Angel Yunier Remon, Gorki Águila.

This reality is what arouses the hatred and ferocity of the mediocre, for whom the barrister’s robe is nothing more than another kind of uniform. In their lawlessness, the repressors from the collective law firms have even exceeded their powers. Decree-Law 81, which regulates the practice of law, empowers them to apply to a member of the organization, among other sanctions, that of “transfer to another position of inferior category or, after proper coordination, to another unit nearby.”

The disjunctive conjunction indicates that they can choose between the two penalties: either give you a lower position, or transfer you to another firm (implying, to work there as a lawyer). In this case, in violation of the law, both measures were applied. As for “nearby,” you only have to realize that they sent her to the distant town of La Lisa.

This week, the attorney plans to fulfill her unjust sanction. In her new position she will earn 300 Cuban pesos per month, just over $12. They want to silence her voice, but her honesty and pure love for the profession place her far above all these dirty tricks. Will she be able to work in La Lisa without difficulties, or should we expect more provocations and acts of harassment against her?

We’re waiting on the outcome of her situation. Also that of the political prisoners, whose defense, it seems, the regime wants now to be assumed by the docile lawyers that these same “leaders” of the firm have chosen. As for Amelia, I’ll keep myself informed, not only because she is a colleague who has worn the robe with dignity, but also—and now on a more personal level—because she was my advocate during my second political imprisonment.

Cubanet, 25 February 2014,

Translated by Tomás A. and José S.

Impossible Zone of Peace / Rene Gomez Manzano

Repression of a political dissident in Cuba. Source: EFE

HAVANA, Cuba – In the last several hours the Castro propaganda campaign has come to a climax on the occasion of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which will be held in Havana between today and tomorrow. Of course this focus is justified if we consider the swaddling this event implies for the totalitarian regime in Havana.

Meanwhile, the independent press informs us about the intense reservation exercised by the Castro government against all of society. Even beggars and pimps have been affected by the delirium of the conclave. Many of them are warned that, during the great event, they should abstain from exercising their ancient craft.

On a slightly more serious note, it should be remembered that several documents have been agreed to within the CELAC framework. In one of them, dating from just a year ago, it reiterates that this Community is based on, among other things, “the protection and promotion of all human rights, the rule of law at the national and international level and democracy.” Can anyone believe these beautiful words are compatible with the regime imposed in Cuba by the Castro brothers?

Of course not. But the totalitarians usually get by with ease. We have the experience of the clauses about freedoms and pluralism adopted years ago by the Ibero-American Summit in Viña del Mar. With to what was agreed to there, the Havana authorities commented: The documents signed by Cuba we interpret according to our own conception of democracy. And problem solved!

The fact of the matter lies in that the governments of our cultural environment, who for the most part respect Human Rights internally, don’t allow among their members a regime that systematically violates them like that of Havana, but they even selected it to preside and host its meetings, as is happening now with the CELAC Summit in Havana. Its fig leaf is the supposed “uniqueness of Cuba.”

In the interim, Cuban authorities do a disservice to those democratic states. We hope the world press and the internal press of those countries report on the fierce repression unleashed in the Great Antille; in this case, the respective governments confront certain difficulties. Serves them right! For having tried to patronize the only totalitarian regime in the West.

At the same time, in the context of the Summit, Castro spokespeople have recalled the words spoken by General-President Raul Castro in South Africa: “Dialog and cooperation are the way to solve differences and the civilized coexistence of those who think differently.” Events show that this is proclaimed (and applied) in relations between states, not between the totalitarian regime and its subjects.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, told the newspaper Granma a supposed new important aspect of the Havana Summit: “We believe that another contribution is the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. This is a proposal that we hope will be adopted during the 2nd Summit by its 33 member countries.”

That’s the way it is! And I thought that CELAC had already solved this in the Declaration of Santiago, agreed on in Chile a year ago! Its Point 14 establishes: “We commit that the climate of peace that prevails in Latin America and the Caribbean be strengthened throughout our region and consolidated in a Zone of Peace, and which differences among nations are resolved in a peaceful way through dialog and negotiation or other forms of solution, and fully consistent with International Law.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at a press conference, affirmed that in Cuban there is no need to hold a summit of the peoples, as is generally held in other latitudes on similar occasions. For him this is because, according to what he said, the delegations meeting in Havana represent the governments as well as the masses.

The minister didn’t say what principles of Bolshevik alchemy apply now to make this happen. Surprisingly, such a thing doesn’t happen when these meetings are held in other sites, where, in the opinion of the radical left, it is necessary that in parallel to the official meetings, there is a Summit of the peoples.

Cubanet, 28 January 2014, René Gómez Manzano

Academic Exchange on Law and Human Rights in Cuba / Estado de Sats

With the independent Cuban attorneys Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), René Gómez Manzano (Agramontista Current), Antonio G. Rodiles (Mathematical Physicist) and students from the New York University Law School.

This video is 44 minutes long. There is a live interpreter translating the session into English in real time.

22 January 2013