A Hero To Justify The Cuban Failure / Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez

What in abundance are those who distort and manipulate the ideology of José Martí (Reuters)

What we have in abundance are those who distort and manipulate the ideology of José Martí (Reuters)

We continue on without wanting to admit that if our “wine is sour,” even if “the wine is our own,” it is no more than that: sour wine.*

Cubanet, Luis Cino Álvarez, Havana, 28 January 2016 — Today marks the 163rd anniversary of the birth of our national hero, José Martí. It is the time to repeat by rote the two or three of his sayings that all of us Cubans learned since grade school. It is but a short time before we again commemorate his death on May 19. Those two remembrances comprise most of the veneration of Martí that was instilled in us from childhood. What a shame! Continue reading

Cuban Toy Thieves Knockout Three Kings Day / Dora Leonor Mesa

Dora Leonor Mesa, 22 January 2016 — In 2016, the toy thieves from Cuban State Security do not wish to say much about the subject, but the comparison is inevitable, and there are more than a few people now who point to their undertaking as a vile and damaging one.

This past 6 January, the day of the Three Kings and the traditional day Cuban children are given Christmas gifts, instead of hunting down rings of drug traffickers and pimps who trade in boys and girls, who have a lot of money and expensive gifts to steal, the agents had to take on a useless activity: utilizing schoolchildren, dressed in their uniforms, accompanied by poorly-paid teachers who let the boys and girls out of school without prior parental permission, to go out and insult and taunt peaceful people who today give gifts on Three Kings Day. The lowlifes in need of defending their illegal business dealings were also present at the show, persecuting women, boys and girls. Continue reading

Forgive the Castro Regime? Never! / Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez

raulfidel322013-300x218Cubanet, Luis Cino Álvarez, Havana, 11 January 2016 — I am a resentful person. I have to admit that, at least in this regard, the officials from State Security are correct, they who have condemned me as such during multiple, more or less menacing, interrogations throughout the past almost-20 years.

I am full of resentment against that calamitous abomination that some people still call “the Revolution.” And how can I not be? I would have to be a masochist, or emulate Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to love the perpetrators of the system that has crushed my life for as long as I can remember.

I would have to be exceedingly hypocritical to say that I am willing to reconcile with and forgive those who have never, in the slightest way—arrogant as they are—asked for forgiveness.

I am not a man given to hatreds and vengeances, but I cannot abide duplicity and hypocrisy. So leave me to my resentment which, in the reasonable doses in which I dole it out, will do no more harm than it already has; on the contrary, it helps me to keep going and not give up. Continue reading

Cuba: Downhill in 2015 / Miriam Leiva

Photo: The elderly are among the most vulnerable people in Cuba (File Photo)

Photo: The elderly are among the most vulnerable people in Cuba (File Photo)

Cubanet, Miriam Leiva, Havana, 29 December 2015 — Cubans greeted 2015 with joy and great expectations, but they are saying goodbye to it sadly and without hope.

Cuban officials will not be able to blame the United States government for the current crisis and the coming catastrophe that popular wisdom senses is coming. Throughout the whole year many people of all ages were heard to say, “Don’t tell me that the fault lies with the Americans,” as well as, “the [Cuban] government does not create openings for Obama’s measures to benefit us.” Continue reading

Polarized Cuban Miami / Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez

117-cuba121814-versailles-ADD-300x208Cubant, Luis Cina Alvarez, Havana, 25 December 2015 — A year since 17D*, Cuban Miami grows ever more polarized. And it’s not only between those who favor dialogue with the Cuban regime and those who are staunchly opposed to the Castro regime –although at the end of the road, everything has to do, in one way or another, with that dichotomy.

There are those who love Obama (the few) and those who detest him, who deny his part in lifting the US out of the recession, who categorically assert that Obamacare is crap, who accuse the president of being pro-Muslim and a leftist, of being too soft in foreign policy (especially regarding the Castro regime), of endangering the country’s security in the face of jihadism, of exacerbating racial tensions, etc. Continue reading

Cuba: Christmas-by-Caste and Without Discounts

Employees of private restaurants, i.e. "paladares," dressed as Santa Claus, distribute menus and price listings of holiday meals on offer. Photo credit: El Comercio

Ivan Garcia, 21 December 2015 — December is a month of summing up and partying. And of opening the purse. Yusmel, a private entrepreneur, believes that the tropical winter and the holidays lend a different air to Havana.

“It’s not so hot as in the summer, and the atmosphere smells different. After the government authorized the celebration of Nochebuena [Christmas Eve], decorations are put up in many homes, shops, private businesses and hotels. The capital is in a deplorable physical state, but the decorations and the lights in the Christmas trees beautify it somewhat,” says Yusmel while he drinks a Presidente beer in the cafeteria of the Carlos III Shopping Center.

Esther, a housewife, received US$250 via Western Union from a daughter who lives in Miami. “Thanks to that money, I will be able to have milk, fish and beef, and prepare a feast on 24 December. But the dollars buy less all the time.” Continue reading

Poverty, the Cuban Dictatorship’s Recourse / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

The Revolution is Going Well… Ever Onward! Fidel

Jeovany Jimenz Vega, 12 October 2015 — Doctor A, with 20 years of uninterrupted work to his credit, owes nothing to the little he receives in salary. Besides not being enough to feed his family, it has not allowed him to procure a proper roof and so he still lives in his shabby doctor’s office. After many disappointments, A is now tired of waiting for an improvement that will never come and chose to add his name to his polyclinic’s list of Collaborators: to go work abroad on some official “Medical Mission,” the only alternative he can see to better his life in the near term.

Engineer B works in the Mariel Free Zone and almost never seeks the light of day with his children due to the rigor of his work schedule. He knows that in the Development Zone foreign engineers and technicians receive several thousand dollars a month for the exact same work he does, but at the end of the month he receives some one hundred dollars, more or less; his share of the hard cash that goes directly from the foreign firm to the government coffers in exchange for his labor, without ever passing through his hands, and thus he is exploited by the government. Continue reading

Black Woman: Double or Triple Discrimination? / Diario de Cuba, Laritza Diversent

The regime opponents Sonia Garro and Mercedes Fresneda bear the marks of beatings from Castro regime mobs.

The regime opponents Sonia Garro and Mercedes Fresneda bear the marks of beatings from Castro regime mobs.

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Laritza Diversent, Havana, 31 July 2015 —In Cuba there is a myth that says that there is no racism here because “all the races and cultures melded together forever in a happy synthesis.”

Nonetheless, in reality, invisibility is on the rise, and a concept of “racial democracies” is maintained.

The invisibility of Afro-descendants’ poverty, along with enduring stereotypes and prejudices, contributes to the perpetuation of historic situations of segregation and exclusion, racism, and racial discrimination. Afro-descendant women, in particular, face major obstacles to the enjoyment and exercise of their rights, be these civil, political, economic, social, or cultural.

Official statistics state that men and women of African heritage on the Island constitute a minority. However, the general perception is that the official information does not reflect reality insofar as the ratio of races is concerned. Continue reading

Raul Castro in His Worldwide Debut / Cubanet, Miriam Leiva

raul-castro-ONUCubanet, Miriam Leiva, Havana, 30 September 2015 – The organization United Nations organization is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its creation in a big way. The most important players in world politics and the dignitaries from the majority of its member countries met in New York. The 2030 Sustainable Development Summit, where Pope Francis gave his first speech before the UN, took place from 25-27 September, and the Conference on Gender Equality was held on the 27th. The high-level meetings of the UN’s 70th session began on the 28th.

Raúl Castro traveled for the first time to the United States as President of Cuba on 24 September. The General-President wore the halo of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, the reopening of the respective embassies, conversations with President Obama, the constant flow of dignitaries from other countries and American visitors to Cuba, the mediation between Venezuela and the US, and participation in the meeting of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the chief of the FARC-EP for the signing in Havana of their first peace accord. Continue reading

Freedom of Expression: A Change That Has Been Just Another Strategy / Hablemos Press, Weiner Alexander Martínez

Weiner Alexander Martínez Estepe/ HABLEMOS PRESS.

Weiner Alexander Martínez Estepe/ HABLEMOS PRESS.

27 September 2015, Havana – The flexibilities described by the Cuban government in recent years regarding freedom of expression constitute only a change in its political strategy, the objective being to improve its image before international public opinion and organizations that defend human rights.

Testimonies of various government opponents and independent journalists indicate that repression of their activities has not ceased, but rather that the methods used have evolved, becoming more subtle and imperceptible.

They differ from those in the now distant 1970s and 80s, when the dissidence (and even any person who would dare to express divergent ideas) was dealt a “strong hand.” Continue reading

Were The Firecrackers That Brought the CDRs to Life Spontaneous? / Diario de Cuba, Orland Freire Santana

Creation of the CDRs, 28 September 1960 (Liborio Noval, CubaDebate)

Creation of the CDRs, 28 September 1960 (Liborio Noval, CubaDebate)

Diario de Cuba, Orlando Freire Santana, Havana, 28 September 2015 – Recently a group of friends were talking about the way the Cuban government leaders, during those first years of Fidel Castro’s Revolution, were maneuvering until achieving the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist-type totalitarian system. At one point in the conversation, one of the participants threw out the following question: Could those firecrackers that went off that night of 28 September 1960, when Castro founded the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), been spontaneous, or was it merely a matter of self-provocation?

That year, even without the socialist character of the Revolution having been declared, already the authorities were taking giant steps to annihilate civil society. By that time, the opposition press had disappeared almost completely, and the state’s takeover of the economy would proceed apace through the nationalization of foreign-owned businesses, and the confiscation of large property-owners’ holdings across the nation. But Fidel Castro liked to wrangle with words – that is, to hint that his actions were a response to The Enemy’s aggressions. Continue reading

The CDR: Social Control Begins in the Neighborhood or the Village

Photo: CDR in Viñales, Pinar del Río province. Taken from My Travelling.

Iván García, 29 September 2015 — When the bearded guerrilla Fidel Castro on the night of 28 September 1960 founded a system of collective surveillance in every neighborhood, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), civil society in Cuba was annulled until further notice.

Not even Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany, with its full record of social intrusions, had structured a system of neighborhood cooperatives with espionage services.

The most similar equivalent might be Benito Mussolini’s Black Shirts, a paramilitary corps behind numerous episodes of physical or verbal violence and aggression against its political adversaries in Italy during the 1920s. Continue reading

Many Cubans Were Indifferent to the Pope’s Visit / Ivan Garcia

El-Papa-con-el-Che-de-fondo-_ab-620x330Ivan Garcia, 24 September 2015 — The best news for Celestino Cabrera, retiree, who lives in a neighborhood of low-rise houses and steep streets, was the arrival of half a kilogram of chicken per person at his area butcher shop.

“For a week now we’ve been waiting for the ration-book chicken. Lots of Pope, but zero grub,” he says with a smile while waiting in line at a ramshackle meatmarket on Font Street, in Lawton, 35 minutes from the center of Havana.

Throughout 40 years, Cabrera worked at stowing bags of sugar and wheat flour at the Havana port. His meager pension of 243 Cuban pesos (around 9 dollars) per month is just enough to purchase seven pounds of rice, five pounds of surgar, and the 20 ounces of beans that the State provides monthly via the ration book, a few vegetables, and with the rest of the money, he pays his electric bill. Continue reading

The Abuse of My Rights and The Repression Reaffirmed My Opinions / Cubanet, Miriam Leiva

The independent journalist Miriam Leiva was detained on two occasions during the visit of Pope Francis (File Photo)

The independent journalist Miriam Leiva was detained on two occasions during the visit of Pope Francis (File Photo)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Miriam Leiva, Havana, 24 September, 2015 – I received the pleasant surprise of a brief visit to my little apartment by Msgr. Veceslav Tumir, secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Havana, around 11:30am on 19 September. It gave me great joy to receive the invitation to go to the Nunciature at 4:00 pm that day to greet the admired Pope Francis, who would be arriving there at approximately 5:30 pm. Up until that moment, I had planned to attend the welcome event at 31st Avenue (five blocks from my home) with the community of St. Agustín church, or the one at St. Rita church, and to attend the Mass at José Martí Plaza, as I did when Pope John Paul II (at which time I also went to the mass in Santa Clara), and Pope Benedict XVI came to Cuba.

When at 3:10 pm I was walking along the sidewalk about 20 yards from my home en route to the Nunciature, a State Security official, accompanied by a young woman from the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), told me that I was detained, took my cellular phone and my little camera, and took me in a patrol car to the PNR precinct on Zanja Street. Continue reading

Again With the Blockade! / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 22 September 2015 — The hackneyed topic of the blockade or embargo continues to be among the priorities that the Cuban government demands that the United States of America resolve, the objective being to assure stable and mutually advantageous relations.

However, there is a matter that the American government should solve unilaterally, without trying to achieve any type of accord with the Cuban one, being that it was imposed on the latter. The argument turns out to be rather puerile, if one takes into account that when it came time to revoke the Platt Amendment (also imposed unilaterally by the American government), many conversations and accords  were mediated between both parties. In politics, to dialogue and reach agreements is a common practice, as seen throughout history. Pigheadedness has never led to anything positive. Continue reading