“If I had someone to sponsor* me…” / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

colasss

cubanet square logoCubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 19 May 2015 – This morning I woke up pessimistic. There was no milk in the house, and the kind they sell at the “shopping” [hard-currency* store] is priced out of reach for anyone who is not an executive at a firm or who does not have relatives out there who love him very much and are well-off.** But at the bakery where I purchase the bread allotted to me via the libreta [ration book], I ran into somebody who today was more pessimistic than I am. He is a retired teacher and, without taking into account his age, one of those characters who pride themselves on being well informed told him that the ration book is about to be discontinued, that in fact it would be eliminated before August.

The teacher understands that this book weighs heavily in the pocket of the government, but he also thinks that instead of taking it away, the government should make it selective. Neither the powerful musician, nor the executive, nor he who receives remittances from abroad, nor any other characters of the New Bourgeoisie, need the ration book. The teacher, however, retired on a pension of nine dollars per month (that is, less than 30 cents a day), and with no one abroad—what would he do without this small assistance? There are just four little items that the ration book now subsidizes, but these four little items keep him from begging in the streets. The teacher spoke to me very badly of the Revolution, to which he had dedicated his life. Continue reading

What the Wind Left Behind* / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

Dawn in Havana

Dawn in Havana

cubanet square logoCubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 10 April 2015 – Havana sixty years ago was a pretty city—clean, young and with no thieves of any consequence in the neighborhood. Around 9:00 at night the garbage truck would make its rounds. It was a regular truck, not one of those modern-day versions that look like interplanetary spaceships. It carried four workmen—two standing and holding on to the rear of the truck, flanking it—the other two at the top. Upon hearing the bell signaling the truck’s approach, the neighbors would hastily place the garbage can at the door, the two men from the rear would toss it with great flair to the ones at the top of the truck, those men would fling it back with equal style, and the can would be placed once again by the door. It was painful to watch them do this work that would cause the street to be enveloped in the stench of rotten melons. However, these men, with the elegance and precision with which they went about their task, made it seem like they were playing an individual basketball game. How many of these vehicles the city possessed, I don’t know, but your neighborhood truck would show up every night, through rain, a cold snap, or the coming of a hurricane.

This was not all.

In the afternoons, a crop duster would fly overhead, fumigating against flies and mosquitoes, and at dawn, Havana smelled clean. Overnight, its streets had been washed down and whisked with the metal brush that was applied between the road and the sidewalk by a powerful machine. The sewer manholes had their covers, the sanitation system was inspected every week, power outages were unknown, and Havana gave the impression of a city inhabited by people who had never done harm to anyone and therefore could live without fear, despite this being a time when the din of sudden gunfire was commonly heard along with the eruption of firecrackers. In the residential neighborhoods open planting beds were common, and in the traditional El Vedado neighborhood, the little foot-and-a-half high wall was established by municipal ordinance. Continue reading

No Leader is Interested in the Rights of Cubans / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera

Cubanos

An old man selling newspapers on the streets of Havana (Elio Delgado)

Hablamos Press, Eduardo Herrera, Havana, 16 May 2015 — In recent weeks, meetings between Raúl Castro and various heads of state have attracted the attention of national and international public opinion.

During his visit to Algeria, Castro met with Abdelaziz Buteflika, who at 78 years of age has been president of his country for 16 years. Later, Castro travelled to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Daily life of the People of Jaruco / Hablemos Press, Elio Delgado

Mayabeque, Cuba. – Cubans immersed in the day to day of survival with a salary of $20 per month do thousands of work-arounds to earn a living. These images captured by my lens reflect the daily life of the inhabitants of Jaruco.

Jaruco is a municipality of Mayabeque province, situated some 30km southeast of Havana. Its norther border abuts the municipality of Santa Cruz del Norte, and on the south, San José de las Lajas [the provincial capital].

Economic activities are based mainly on livestock and agriculture–both of which are impacted by the socialist bureaucracy.

Photo Credits: Elio Delgado, Hablemos Press

Translator: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Changing the Subject / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 12 May 2015 — When it comes to talking about human rights, our authorities ignore the 30 items in the Universal Declaration about them, and they go on to extol the medical, educational and other types of assistance they lend to dozens of countries–as well as to foreigners in our country–without clarifying the fact that in the majority of these cases, this help is paid-for by those countries, and by the individuals who receive it in Cuba. In reality, more than help, it consists of services that are commercialized for very good political and economic returns for the government. Everything should be called by its proper name.

Such assistance, albeit respectable, does not form part of human rights and, therefore, should not be used to evade responsibility for their disrespect where Cuban citizens are concerned, nor accepted in international forums. Continue reading

My Minutes With the Pope / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 9 May 2015 — What would I say to Pope Francis if I could speak with him minutes before his meeting with Raúl Castro?*  If Jesus came into the world to save the impure, to sit also at the table of the Pharisees (those with souls most contaminated by the splinter of evil), what could I say to His Holiness that would convey to him all the pain of my people, and advise him of the true dimension of disaster through which my country lives?

Tomorrow* the Pope will face the representative of a deformed creation made up to fool the world about its true wretched nature, which hides its true face behind curtains splattered with the blood and suffering of my people. Raul Castro represents the longest-running, most perfidious and subtle dictatorship known in the Americas, whose sinister side is known only by the humble man of miserable means who dares not speak up for fear of certain reprisals; or the censored journalist confronting taboo subjects; or the ethical writer marginalized by an apostate pseudo-intellectualism who, like a prostitute, traded in his dignity for status**; or the civic activist trampled-on for defending her truths. Continue reading

Their Weapon is the Word, Peaceful is their Struggle / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

The dissidents, labeled as “mercenaries,” seek only, through peaceful means, democracy for Cuba (file photo)

The dissidents, labeled as “mercenaries,” seek only, through peaceful means, democracy for Cuba (file photo)

Our “mercenaries” do not plant bombs, nor do they plan attempts on people’s lives, nor sabotages, as did those who today are in power.

cubanet square logo

Cubabet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 30 April 2015 – A young Communist, lamenting how the Cuban government delegation (supposedly there representing Cuban civil society) made fools of themselves in Panama, told me, “Well, at any rate, all you people are mercenaries.”

“First of all,” I responded, “exclude me from that group. I do not belong to any party, I am an independent voice. Secondly, regarding that ‘mercenary’ label, even the government doesn’t believe it. It has always been thus: for the autocrat, there is no ‘opponent,’ no ‘adversary’ – there is only ‘the enemy.’ ”

I took a mental trip back to the administration of José Miguel Gómez, when, to take advantage of the recently enacted Platt Amendment, the striking term “annexationist” came into use to exterminate the opponent, the enemy. Indeed, extermination is the issue. The “mercenary” term began having the demolishing effect of ten tons of cast concrete falling on its target. Continue reading

Cuba: A Bill to Penalize Acts of Repudiation / Juan Juan Almeida

Act of repudiation against and arrests of Ladies in White/

Act of repudiation against and arrests of Ladies in White.

To guarantee the prevalence of solidarity and respect, a bill is urgently needed that would penalize acts of repudiation, and hold their perpetrators and accomplices criminally responsible.

Help me to promote this bill.

Act of Repudiation Act of Repudiation

A Bill to Penalize Acts of Repudiation in Cuba

By Juan Juan Almeida

To guarantee the prevalence of solidarity and respect, a bill is urgently needed that would penalize acts of repudiation, and demand their perpetrators and accomplices be held criminally responsible.

We Cubans are living through an unequivocal social collapse and loss of values that we should, for the benefit of all, reverse. The Government bears much blame for this phenomenon that underlies civic conduct. Perhaps it thought that it was doing enough by providing us the opportunity for suitable professional advancement, and upon decreeing that good manners were a petit bourgeois vestige, created the “anti-value.” Continue reading

Cardinal Ortega: You Are a Prisoner of Conscience

Authored by Angel’s Editor, 4 April 2015 — But you are not one of those worthy men who serve a prison sentence in Cuba for raising his voice against the abuses of the dictator. You are a prisoner of conscience, because your conscience is not free; it is a slave to the designs that Raúl Castro has imposed with shady negotiations, even on institutions such as the Church, which should be watching over Her sheep, as Jesus did, and not being an accomplice to a dictatorship that works against everything established by that God Whom you claim to represent in Cuba. Your soul was kidnapped by your cowardice before the pressures of the dictatorship, and since then you live as a prisoner of that double morality wielded every day by those who live off the pain of the Cuban people, and the economic, social and ethical destruction of a nation like Cuba. Continue reading

A Snow Roller in Cuba / Dora Leonor Mesa

A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed as they are blown along the ground by wind. Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and require special conditions to form. [Source: Wikipedia]

 The Machel Report With Recommendations for the Armed Forces

When speaking of childhood and military matters, it is indispensable to refer to the report from the expert Graça Machel, who assigns to the world’s governments the responsibility of providing resources and education in human rights to judges, police, security personnel, and the armed forces. Continue reading

The Disparagement of Our Heroes Should End / Dora Leonor Mesa

Dora Leonor Mesa, 24 April 2015 — The photos of Cuban President Raúl Castro conversing with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during the Seventh Summit of the Americas are still appearing on the principal pages of the world’s most important newspapers.

Images of Cuban volunteers who, risking their lives, went to fight the fatal Ebola virus in Africa, those who help disaster victims in Haiti and other places, i.e. Brazil, Pakistan, Chile, etc., have also been given prime placement in the broadcast media and the most prestigious news agencies.

In Panama, during the forums of the Seventh Summit of the Americas, Cuban men and women of the State-sponsored civil society also appeared on the front pages of every known communication medium in the world. Continue reading

The Revolution and its Functional Illiterates / Diario de Cuba, Jorge Olivera Castillo

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Havana, 23 April 2015 — According to a close friend, no fewer than half of the graduates of Cuban universities during the last 50 years, have been graduated in vain.”

Such an assertion might be considered distorted and extremist, but the reality outweighs the data that continue to have no place in the official press nor in the other spaces controlled by the State-Party.

From the start, what counted was massiveness. The only insurmountable barrier to higher education is ideological divergences. The slogan about the university being “only for revolutionaries” is kept as current as on the first day it was proclaimed from the platforms and acclaimed by the multitudes. Continue reading