Permission is Granted to Add a Discussion in the Neighborhoods About the Petition to Modify the Actual Elections System / Silvio Benítez Márquez

As of a few weeks ago members of the citizens’ protect Voices of the Neighborhood are announcing to national and international public opinion their supposed participation in the people’s debate on the economic and social policies with the intention of proposing to the communist government the modification of the current electoral system.

The novelty of the Spokespeople provoked a feeling of malaise and disdain in the General’s palace. The scope of the debate didn’t offer any guarantees for the proposal to be included in its political agenda, condemning it beforehand to the ostracism. To silence the effect of this initiative the orthodox communists and hard-line repression agents were instructed to act as soon as anything could affect the unanimous approval of the government guidelines.

The challenge of the proposal was in place. It only remained to convene the assembly to know the results. The intransigent rulers were busy tying up the loose ends and placing barriers before the citizens. The strategy was not to tell the voters in time so that the news wouldn’t reach the ears of the Spokespeople so they couldn’t participate in the debate.

A counterproductive measure which didn’t work at all for the organizers. On the contrary, they needed a sufficient quorum to keep in check The Neighborhood Spokespeople who were in the front row were anxiously awaiting the start of the assembly to make their proposals.

The expected debate was happening chapter by chapter with the inexorable note that no chapter was approved unanimously . A total of eleven voters were at all times defiant despite the inquisitive watch of the communists which were handling the debate’s manual.

Silvio Benitez, voter in his area, was present with a group of “Voices of the Neighborhood” in debate of Friday, February 4, asking at several opportunities for a turn to speak in order to include or modify the following proposals.( Propositions that were recorded in the official document.)

– The excessive taxation of the recently allowed small business licensees.

– The right to travel to any world destination.

– The humongous price of construction materials.

– The right to sell properties and goods without the interference of the government.

– The necessary inclusion of the Cuban diaspora exiles in the policies, based on the Jose Marti doctrine, ” For all and for the benefit of all.”

– The creation of a procedure to elect the delegates from the base to the National Assembly.

At the end of his motion Silvio was questioned by a disheveled woman who, in a harsh way, pointed out that these reforms were only for the Cubans who defend the regime, not for those who in the past abandoned their homeland. Her tirade didn’t have enough backing, the communists, sad and disappointed, left without the unanimous approval of the policies they seek, not even in one of its chapters.

Silvio Benitez Marquez

Promoter of the Neighborhood Spokespeople project

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

February 16 2011

Neighborhood Spokespeople Receive Answers to Citizen Demands / Silvio Benítez Márquez

Weeks ago the Neighborhood Spokespeople sent a group of citizen demands to headquarters of the People’s Power National Assembly regarding public opinion about the measures of December 2010. These were gathered over months by the different bodies and no response has been received.

This disinterest shown by the different channels of the People’s Power with regards to the Neighborhood Spokespeople petitions led the activists to decide on a legal remedy, faced with the exhaustion of the channels established in the law.

The idea of filing a formal complaint against the People’s Power mechanism is motivated by the immediate signs and fears among officials and agents, recalling the bitter case of Vallin and the Law Society to remain silent as in the previous response.

But to repeat the dose with the spokespeople’s petitions would make no sense, to run the experiment again could be fatal to the aspirations of the General. He knows the urgency of institutional credibility and also the needs of the unicameral assembly, where abstentions and no votes could be points of departure for new processes.

So the logic is not to err again but to gain time feigning that the institutionality is a sacred act of this mechanism. Of course, that this is not the highest authority who is accountable to the spokespeople of the District, but the establishment of the base which is responsible for offering a rhetoric of little death to these people and ending the problems for the time being.

The trite ritual this Saturday was revealed when the President of the Popular Council of Punta Brava after months in limbo and without the slightest importance to the issues raised called on one of the spokesmen of the District to give an accounting of significant advances in the areas of high demand. Demands now being followed in the same path but disguised with a different political hue.

Silvio Benítez Márquez
Promoter of the Neighborhood Spokespeople Project

April 10 2011

Criticizing is for Cowards / Silvio Benítez Márquez

I’ve been meaning to write a post about someone I respect and think highly of in my neighborhood. I’m referring to José Quintana y Pérez, that illustrious figure who became submerged in an alcohol addiction from a very early age. As for his reasons, I only know what his drinking buddies have told me, which is that it all started because he was seeking pleasure. Up to now, this mulatto — who already has white hairs and walks bent over — is one of the few who has been able to still uphold the most intrinsic values as a human being despite his bad habit of drinking excessively.

A few days ago, his sincere and plain words once again moved me. He had fallen into conflict with an agent of the secret police due to his fervent activism in the “Voices from the Neighborhood” project.

As I listened to him, various ideas faded away in my clear memory. José has not even remotely been able to imagine how many times I’ve had to defend him from so many hypocritical people who judge him for being such a marginalized member of society. Clearly, all these fools use this subterfuge to hide his cowardice before the civic push which José is so capable of giving in order to confront the future.

Punta Brava, Havana, March 22 2011

Translated by Raul G.

Complaint / Silvio Benítez Márquez

Punta Brava, La Habana
29 March 2011

For days the omnipresent political police have been plotting a vast campaign of hostility and harassment of activists and relatives of the citizens’ project Voices of the Neighborhood.

Yesterday afternoon an agent of the repressive apparatus informed Joisy Garcia Martinez, one of the leaders of the citizen initiative, that he was officially called to appear on the morning of Wednesday the 10th at the police station of San Agustin de la Lisa.

This citation and harassment against members of this project led to agreement on a new strategy of the neighborhood spokespeople to collect signatures across the whole island to repeal the current electoral law.

Silvio Benitez Marquez
Promoter of Voices of the Neighborhood Project

March 29 2011

Call to Sign the Modification of the Electoral Law / Silvio Benítez Márquez

In late January of this year, 2011, we launched an initiative to modify the Cuban Electoral Law, in particular Article 171 that limits the parameters voters may consider to determine for which candidate to cast their vote, as well as four more articles to make the principal modification coherent.

At the suggestion of many citizens who have become aware of the initiative and after having collected and introduced the proposed corrections, we invite all Cubans interested in supporting this idea, to sign it, with the aim of channeling it as a formal proposal to the relevant institutions .

The signature collection process began on March 14 and runs through September 30 of this year. Those interested will accompany their signatures with their full names, municipality of residence and identity card number.

*Silvio Benítez Márquez
Promotor of the Voices of the Neighborhood Project

March 16 2011

Neighborhood Voices Discuss Strategies / Silvio Benítez Márquez

Punta Brava, La Habana-22-02-11.Punta Brava, La Habana

After several weeks of communication and interaction with the different segments of Cuban Civil Society, the Neighborhood Spokespeople decided to call a working meeting Saturday morning, with the aim of analyzing and evaluating the results of the first stage of the proposed modification of the current Electoral Law.

Through admirable effort, the Neighborhood Spokespeople outlined the first piece of the initiative, despite the usual schemes of the totalitarian State. However, the promoters assured that in the coming weeks the proposal will arrive at the rest of the provinces, thanks to the tremendous efforts of the collaborators in the interior of the island.

The meeting also offered a chance to analyze and discuss the lack of response by Cuban parliamentarians to the citizen petitions from the 14th of December activists of the Voices of the Barrio Project, delivered it the headquarters of the Popular Power National Assembly in the hopes that the highest chamber can be relieved of its characteristic morass and produce a viable solution to the ever more chronic problems.

This indifferent attitude of parliamentarians and officials of the mechanism of People’s Power leaves the Neighborhood Spokespeople no option other than filing a lawsuit against the figure of Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, President of the Assembly.

Finishing on that topic, the activists went through other agenda items to define new strategies for the second stage of the proposal: The phase that will begin at the beginning of March with the massive collection of signatures and that will conclude at the end of November presenting the population’s support with the Citizen Proposal to the same Assembly that today ignores the petitions of the Spokespeople.

At the end of the meeting, the Spokespeople spent several minutes to honor the memory of the martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died a year ago after a long hunger strike.

Silvio Benítez Márquez
Promoter: Voices of the Neighborhood Project

February 23 2011

My Detention / Silvio Benítez Márquez

This March 3 I was detained for more than 72 hours by the repressive forces of the regime. It happened when I was walking along 51 Avenue in the Marianao neighborhood in Havana, holding a sign that said, “Down with the snitches like Serpa Mareira,” the State Security agent who passed himself off as a dissident. (See my article about it here.)

During the arrest I was threatened with prosecution if I continued my activism against the abuses of the tyranny.

It is time for Cuban civil society to make its way without fearing tyranny’s threats.

You who read my blog spread the news, knowing that you protect me, in my struggle, from the abuses this dictatorship can take against me in retaliation for raising my voice.

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March 9 2011

Carlos Serpa: From Chump To Know-It-All / Silvio Benítez Márquez

Punta Brava, La Habana

In the calendas griegas* they tell us that empires based part of their hegemony on the recruitment and purchase of courage. The strategy soon bore fruit and lead to a powerful army of slaves charged with the most dirty and hair-raising tasks that human beings can imagine, unrelenting practices which they still carry out today in closed societies like ours.

I bring up this ancient text due to the similarity between what was previously expressed and the official documentary Pawns of the Empire which aired Saturday night on Cuban television.

Cuban Intelligence organs drive themselves to delirium repeating the sketch with the idea to create an atmosphere of unfair public opinion against internal dissidents at the moment when criticism and discontent is rising toward the political system.

In the crude documentary the journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira, (Agent Emilio) sits giving a detailed report to the viewer about how dissidents on the island are manufactured and trained. Also the informant paints the activists and leaders of the opposition movement as heretics, individuals without principles or values, motivated only by the common denominator, finance capital from their puppet masters (terrorist groups based in Florida).

To curry favor and give a mocking tone to the hackneyed operation, Serpa the informer confirms how easy it is to mount any campaign through information media opposed to the Cuban revolution (Radio Marti in this case).

Clearly we are looking at a rare species unacquainted with ethics and consideration. An individual without scruples who took advantage of the pain, the oppression, and the family separation of the steadfast (the Ladies in White) in order to sell them to the highest bidder and move up the ladder at the infallible Department of State Security (DG2).

The Department that, on the eve of the documentary, rubbed its hands together with the new achievement. Soon the tiny snoop Serpa Maceira would make public his despicable betrayal of the country and longstanding friends in the dissident movement. The biggest irony of fate is that the journalist was decorated with the Order of Hero of the Fatherland for his chibatiante** work inside the ranks of the Cuban counter-revolution.

His protectors, on the other hand, with faces of contentment and frowning a bit with worry at the uncertain future, set off for home after organizing the next hunting party. The General, with an unfriendly gesture, ordered his subordinates to call the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) to have them repeat the documentary, they had to hit the minuscule opposition hard before they return roused up. The situation with the American government had worsened in recent weeks. There wasn’t good news.

Carlos Serpa Maceira, the screw-up independent journalist, has no idea of his unfortunate next stop. The way the situation is here on the island I doubt that he dares hang around his beloved Isla de la Juventud as he boasted in the documentary. The reaction of the population wasn’t the backing that the Communists hoped for. Well now the third-rate snitch should prepare his nerves for what’s coming his way and remember the old saying — Rome pays its traitors, but it despises them.

Silvio Benítez Márquez
Promotor for Proyecto Voces del Barrio

Translator’s notes:

*calendas griegas refer to greek calendars, i.e. something which never existed
**chibatiante- a sarcastic combination of chivato, i.e. stool pigeon, and combatiente, i.e. fighter.

Translated by Dodi 2.0

March 1 2011

The Neighborhood Spokespeople Are Repressed / Silvio Benítez Márquez

Punta Brava, Havana

According to statements of Emilio Pérez Correa, activist of the Voices of the Neighborhood project, on the afternoon on Friday the 17th, the President of the People’s Council in Punta Brava cited him urgently to the seat of said institution. Upon presenting himself at the required place, the activist noticed that the call was not a routine chat as the inefficient manager had informed him.

Pérez Correa assured that it was about a dirty trick organized by two groups, political police agents and the People’s Power Delegation. The strategy of the meeting was supported in joint action and persuasion of the democrat that he should disengage himself immediately from the opposition action in the area.

The agent charged with repression waited until the right moment to impose himself on the defenseless activist and later in an arrogant manner identified himself as the local representative of State Security (DG2). Correa, after the prologue, stared at him and insisted he raise his voice because he wasn’t hearing him well. The astute cop performed the interrogation inadvertently before the curious workers, fearing that the matter would spread and come to the ears of the other locals.

Emilio relates that the crushing harangue of the young cop lasted more than a half-hour if at all, leaving for the end the veiled warning that he was risking the sovereignty of the Revolutionary process which wouldn’t stop until he was sentenced.

Correa considers that the temporary arrangement to which he was exposed on Friday by the President of the Peoples’ Council and the Castro regime agent was no more than the beginning of a dirty and abominable campaign against the Citizen Proposal that was recently launched by the Neighborhood Spokespeople.

*Silvio Benítez Márquez.

Promoter of the Voices of the Neighborhood Project

February 23 2011

It’s Never Late If Luck is Good / Silvio Benítez Márquez

It was mid-afternoon, the door half-open and rumor was alive from a distant and hopeful Egypt. All of a sudden some shouts flowered in the rusty railing. Bobby was a guy with luck in the art of negotiating and the black bag who, one fine day, decided to leave and try his luck in cold Russia.

Out of the blue, you couldn’t make out his face, he’d changed so very much since the last time we’d crossed paths. His visit took me by surprise. At the end I didn’t understand what the motive was for his sudden visit if we were both on diametrically opposed roads.

I open the door and invite him in. Later, I offer him a cup of coffee to cut the tension level down a bit. I notice he’s really disturbed, the movements of his eyes alone give away the young man’s unease. I was doling out the words of welcome drop by drop. In the end I didn’t understand in the slightest what this guy was carrying in his hands. I asked him to please leave his apprehension aside and cut to the chase.

Finally he decides to calm down and tell me the reasons that generated the unexpected encounter. On the Internet he’d found the other — hidden face — of Cuba and he wanted to bring something although it was useless to the cause of freedom.

After having said the moving words, the conversation starts to flow lazily. He narrates in detail the excuses and stunts to which one exposes oneself on each trip you take to the Russian city of Stalingrad, earning in the best of cases a minuscule percentage which isn’t nearly enough to live together with your family in Havana.

He also alleges having been accustomed to tough luck despite the irrefutable pain that being separated from one’s loved ones and the land of one’s birth provokes.But that which no one can forgive Roberto for is the time he wasted living with his back turned to the Cuban reality. Now he is another person thanks to the distance and the diaspora itself. Soon his aspirations are to correct his errors and help in the construction of a new Cuba without the Castros.

February 17 2011