The Commander Erased from the Currency / Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces

Hubert Matos does not appear on the bill. Photo by the author

Hubert Matos does not appear on the bill. Photo by the author

GUANTANAMO, Cuba, January – www.cubanet.org These days, as every year, young activists of the UJC (Communist Youth), FEU (Federation of University Students) and veterans of the rebel army, reenact the trip from Santiago de Cuba to Havana made by the then young and hopeful commander-in-chief Fidel Castro Ruz with other guerrillas.

The entry into the capital on January 8, 1959 which was called the Caravan of Freedom, was an extraordinary historical event that filled the people of Havana with joy, as it had hundreds of thousands of Cubans along the way to whom they promised the restoration of the 1940 Constitution, the civil and political liberties Batista had taken away, and free elections after the tyrant was ousted.

Huber Matos then

Huber Matos then

Also in these days, the TV re-broadcasts a video about Fidel entering Havana and, although the images have been edited, the informed spectator knows that the guerrilla appearing briefly to the left of Fidel is Commander Huber Matos. Today, few young Cubans know who Huber Matos was, perhaps because he was only referred to with the epithet of traitor from October 1959, which the Cuban leaders saddled him with.

So they ignore that on the back of the One Peso (CUP, not convertible) bill where the screened imaged of Camilo and Fidel appear, there should also be the guerrilla commander in adherence to historical truth, the same one who Fidel mentions in his concept of Revolution. Continue reading

Teacher Dismissed from Job for Reporting Fraud / Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces

GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba, November, www.cubanet.org – Alain Lobaina Laseria is a mathematics graduate and worked in the Pedro Agustín Pérez Basic Secondary School in the municipality of El Salvador in Guantánamo. However, he has been dismissed from his employment for reporting failures and irregularities related to the education system.

When one teacher at the school went to complete a work mission to Haiti and another transferred to a polytechnic, Alain, who until that point had worked as a tutor, had to teach mathematics and physics to eighth grade students.  Upon receiving the groups he carried out an examination to check the students’ knowledge and the results were disastrous.  In one of the groups no one passed and in the other, from 72 students, only 7 passed.

As the course advanced Alain noticed that the students level of knowledge was extremely low. After carrying out the second test in mathematics, he failed 8 students because they had handed in their exam papers almost completely blank. After reporting the results, the teacher in charge of the grade carried out an analysis and threatened him, saying that he could not fail those students. From that moment onwards his situation in the school became very difficult.

Then he decided to write, under the protection of Article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic, a letter to the government and the municipal Party in which he reported the fraud that had been committed in the school and how he had been pressured to pass 100 percent of the students.

Furthermore, as a response to the public call to the highest levels of government and the Party to combat corruption and all kinds of violations, Alain reported other cases of fraud committed in Polytechnic No. 2, in the San Justo neighbourhood, in the Vocational Computing Polytechnic, in the Pre-University Vocational Institute of Exact Sciences and in the educational centres of the city of Guantanamo.

Shortly after Alain sent his letter, the Provincial Director of Education turned up at the school and read it in front of all the workers.  The purpose of discrediting him in front of his colleagues and making an enemy of him was made clear through the following warnings: “All of this school’s workers can be involved in this….this letter cannot be published in the Venceremos de Guatanamo Newspaper…and we will not tolerate a Gorbachov here in El Salvador”

In the final test, Alain failed various students, being the only teacher who didn’t promote 100 percent of students. In the re-evaluation test he caught a student copying the exam responses from a cheat sheet and reported the incident to the school administration. However, all he achieved was to have the school principal, Angel Velazquez, the secretary of the Party named Leticia, the municipal education teacher leader and the secretaries of the UJC (Young Communist Union) and the trade union reprimand him as if he were the guilty one.

Although Alain was opposed to the fraudulent student sitting another re-evaluation test, the aforementioned people agreed to allow it and they never investigated to find out how, suspiciously, the boy obtained the correct responses to the exam.

Upon starting this school semester, the principal of the school cancelled Alain’s work contract.  All this has occurred after the Granma Newspaper has repeatedly denounced academic fraud and the radio program “Speaking Clearly” of Rebel Radio and the television program “The Roundtable” have adopted similar positions.

Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

Cubanet, 19 November 2013

Translated by Peter W Davies

New Pastoral Letter from Catholic Bishops of Cuba / Roberto Jesus Quinones

GUANTANAMO, Cuba, October, www.cubanet.org – The latest Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Cuba, “Hope does not disappoint,” has been distributed to the faithful. Contrary to what happened twenty years ago, when the document “Love Hopes for Everything” was unveiled, so far this letter has led to no reaction from the government or the official press.

Several people attribute this to the fact that conditions have changed significantly. The new document is being made public at a time when relations between the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the government are good, and when the  institution can serve the government as an intermediary in resolving conflicts. The truth is that, without flourishes, the bishops have prepared a thorough and accurate analysis of our reality.

For reasons of space, we could not attempt an examination of all aspects addressed in this new Pastoral Letter. Those interested would find it useful to read it in full. However, by way of advancement, I would refer you to several of its highlights.

For example, in the second section, entitled “The visits of the two Popes mark our history with signs of hope,” the bishops discussed the significance the visits to the Isle of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI have had on the Catholic Church and the Cuban people. Meanwhile, in the third section, “The divine and human word of the Church encourages our hope,” it discusses the role of the Catholic Church in Cuba today.

In the fourth section, “The common destiny of material goods and freedom are a source of hope,” it states that among the different options for the common good, the Church chooses one that defends and promotes the responsible freedom of man. Also in this section it argues that human beings can not seek their own good while forgetting or neglecting or oppressing their brother. And that the structure and organization of societies and governments, both yesterday and today, can generate groups of power that do not always represent everyone and which are not interested in those who are outside their circle of belonging.

Literally, the bishops warn in the fourth section: “No one can claim freedom for themselves and deny it to others, or seek his own good and be indifferent to that of others. The freedom that God conceives for man is a freedom responsible for the lives and the destiny of those around us.”

The fifth section, “The changes encourage the hope of our people,” makes reference to the Pastoral Letter “Love Hopes for Everything,” and how some of its petitions have been met, but not others.

For its part, the eighth section, “The hopes of a better future also include a new political order,” is perhaps the most daring of the entire document. It says that Cuba is called on to be a pluralistic society, the sum of many realities, the nation of all Cubans, with their differences and aspiration, and there must be the right to diversity of the thinking, creativity, and the search for truth.

In the ninth section, “Dialogue among Cubans opens a path of hope,” the bishops insist that this is the only way to achieve and sustain the social transformations taking place in Cuba. While the tenth section, “Cuba in the concert of nations: reasons for hope,” mentions the changes in Latin America and in the world, and commits to the inclusion of Cuba in these contexts, but also reiterates the need to consider the relations of our country with the United States.

In the eleventh section, “The family and youth, hope of the Nation and the Church,” the bishops examine the matter deeply and honestly, based on the assertion that twenty years after the publication of “Love Hopes for Everything,” family life in Cuba is very poor, with severe consequences that affect the lives of individuals and society.

In sum, it is a document that not only responds adequately to the expectations created by the bishops of the Cuban Catholic Church, with their previous pastoral letter of 1993, it also traces the historical role that corresponds to this institution in the complex circumstances of the present and the near future.

Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

From Cubanet, 14 October 2013

Would They Have Been Like Us? / Roberto Jesus Quinones

GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba, October, www.cubanet.org — Today there were commemorations marking the 145th anniversary of the beginning of our first war of independence. At a celebration on October 10, 1968, the centenary of this historic event, Fidel Castro gave a speech in which he suggested that — faced with the same conditions experienced by those who took up arms against Spanish rule — contemporary Cuban revolutionaries would have behaved in the same way as those distinguished patriots and vice versa. The expression he used was, “Today, they would be like us: back then, we would have been like them.”

In 1968 Fidel was not the feeble, crumpled-over, almost unintelligible old man shown on television on February 3 during elections for delegates to the National Assembly. He was a vigorous, forty-two-year-old dreamer of a man, who took a mocking stance towards the embargo. Without the slightest sense of propriety he imposed his vision of what he thought government ought to be, first obtaining power through force of arms and then creating a cult of personality. He turned Cuba into his own encampment. The above-mentioned expression, repeated over and over, came to be accepted as fact after the news media, educators and government officials actively promoted the claim.

Any reasonably informed person knew, however, that this expression was simply one more speculative tidbit from the comandante’s extensive oratorical collection. A review of the names of those executed during the first few years after the revolution would be enough to indicate that there were many revolutionaries fighting with Fidel against Batista’s dictatorship who were never sympathizers of communist ideology. It was lauded by the astute members of the Popular Socialist Party, who almost effortlessly infiltrated every branch of the nascent revolutionary government. They also managed to convince the young revolutionaries to abandon the Moncada Program, the Mexico Convention and the Sierra Convention, and to begin imbibing the “sweet nectar of power.” (1)

Frank País, José A. Echevarría and Camilo Cienfuegos were no communists. Had the first two not been killed by Batista’s police and had the latter not died under mysterious circumstances shortly after the Revolution, it is well worth asking if they might have ended up facing a firing squad or serving long prison sentences much like Huberto Matos and hundreds of other officials and soldiers from the rebel army. And if it is worth asking in the case of these three young men, the question is even more pertinent when discussing the lives of patriots like José Martí, Ignacio Agramonte and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, especially in light of the comandante’s above-mentioned expression. One of the preferred arguments used by Castro’s ideologists to justify his claim is that these men — of whom I have presented only the three most notable examples — did not live long enough to experience Marxism and, therefore, were not able to express opposition to it.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The opinions expressed by Agramonte and Martí as they relate to the ideas of Karl Marx leave no room for doubt. In the case of Martí, one need only read what the “Father of the Country” wrote in the historical document “Acta de El Rosario, Acuerdo del Levantamiento” to be aware of his very deep commitment to democracy, support for liberal ideas and complete rejection of all forms of authoritarianism.

In this document the patriots who take up arms against Spain declared, “To the God of our consciences and to the verdict of civilized nations we appeal. We aspire to popular sovereignty and universal suffrage. We want to enjoy freedom, for whose use God created Man. We sincerely profess the dogma of brotherhood, tolerance and justice, and consider all men to be equal. We exclude their benefits from no one, not even from Spaniards, provided they are willing to live in peace with us. We want the people to be involved in the formation of laws, and in the distribution and investment of their contributions. We want to abolish indemnified slavery for those who have been harmed. We want freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience. And we are asking for sacred respect for the inalienable rights of Man, which is the foundation of independence and the grandeur of its people. We want to shake off forever the yoke of Spanish oppression and to move forward as a free and independent nation.” (2)

Ignacio Agramonte made eloquent statements in opposition to totalitarianism, among them this one I read recently in the fifth issue of “Vocablo,” a publication of Asociación Pro Libertad de Prensa: “A government which destroys the potential for full development of individual action and restrains society from progressive advancement is not one founded on justice and reason but merely on force. A state built on such a principle could at any moment in time declare itself to be stable and unshakable to all the world. But sooner or later, when men realize their rights have been violated and set about to regain them, they will proclaim with canon fire that the state’s lethal domination has ended.”

Biographies of this noted author, however, cannot be found in any bookstore and it is extremely difficult to find them in libraries as well. And what of the writings of our apostle Martí? To add insult to injury, his Complete Works are now sold with the volumes containing his thoughts and critiques on Marxism and socialism removed.

There is no evidence whatsoever to back up the claim that men like Camilo Cienfuegos, many of the guerrillas who fought in Oriente province or members of the Second Escambray Front held communist beliefs either when they were fighting against Batista’s dictatorship or on January 1, 1959. Given the overwhelming body of evidence, we can state the following without the slightest shadow of a doubt: No, Cuba’s 19th century Mambisa warriors would not have been as portrayed by Fidel Castro in 1968!

Footnotes:

(1) An expression used by Fidel Castro in reference to his removing from office the Vice-President of the Council of State, Carlos Lage Dávila, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Pérez Roque.

(2) This document, known as “Acta de El Rosario, Acuerdo del Levantamiento” appears on page 103 in the book Carlos Manuel de Céspedes by Fernando Portuondo and Hortensia Pichardo and published by Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, Havana, 1982.

Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

From Cubanet, 10 October 2013

The Diana Buses Are Already Broken Down / Roberto Quinones Haces

Diana bus assembled in Cuba. Photo from internet

GUANTANAMO, Cuba, October 7, 2013, Roberto Quiñones Haces/ www.cubanet.org – I’ve seen them circulating and and I remember that on a news broadcast on National Television they talked about them. They are called “Diana” and from last September, eight of them have to been to Guantanamo to improve public transport.

The new buses bear a lot of resemblance to those mid-sized “Girón” buses, which were also assembled in the Evelio Prieto plant in Havana, and dedicated primarily to student and intercity transport. According to a report from the journalist Raciel Sayú Font on the weekly “Venceremos” (We Shall Overcome) broadcast, put on by the provincial committee of the only Party, the vehicles have a capacity of 42 passengers, 28 seated and 12 standing, although the reader will see that this adds up to 40, not 42 as stated by the journalist.

The vehicle body is Brazilian, the diesel engine is Chinese, and the rest of the components come from Russia. The journalist said that Rodolfo Labadies Limedux, a transportation specialist at the Transport Agency, said that the vehicles passed technical reviews and met the quality and safety standards, but that they were out of service due to breakdowns, according to the report.

The information could not be published earlier because provincial and municipal transportation officials refused to provide details to this newspaper. The journalist is careful in mentioning names, but beyond identifying those responsible, it is obvious that the event shows although hundreds of Cuban Journalist Union (UPEC) congresses have called for an end to secrecy, those who have the last say are not exactly the journalists.

At least, as long as the buses in good condition keep circulating, Guantanamo’s residents will have two routes that have been reestablished after having been out of service for fifteen years. The route crosses the city from south to north and vice versa, but now it costs a peso each way, instead of the usual twenty centavos.

These buses represent a transportation alternative to the horse-drawn carriages, a private service that has helped people a lot in recent years but that dirties the city contaminates it. To completely remove the horses, the coachmen and all they leave behind, with the displeasure and dangers this service carries with it, Guantanamo needs a great many more Diana buses and, above all, for them not to breakdown prematurely.

Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

From Cubanet, 8 October 2013

Spanish post
10 October 2013