Same Hatred, Different Collar / Rosa Maria Rodriguez

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Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton

Hate crimes are violent acts induced by prejudices against a person or group considered “different,” owing to their social class, race, ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. Modernity has driven the legislative powers of many countries to establish judicial standards to combat those types of crimes and to prosecute the perpetrators. This has entailed a reduction of such abuses, which are provoked also by the social context of the persons or groups, and by the stereotypes created by societies.

In Cuba, the official and propaganda media of the regime inform us about hate crimes that are committed “in capitalist countries,” of course. Thus, the Cuban population knows of those violent behaviors that occur in places where there are no military conflicts and which are miles away from their security and wellbeing — rather than those that could be occurring at that moment in their own environment, just inches from their own backside, or at just a hair of separation from their own head. Continue reading

Demagoguery: A Cardinal Sign of the Cuban “Revolution” / Jeovany Vega

I want you POOR, fanatic, worshipful and grateful

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 20 August 2015 — A few weeks ago we were amusing ourselves with news reports about the vacation tour of Prince Tony Castro. Apparently, tired of playing golf in a country where 99.99% of the natives have never set foot on a golf course, the only Cuban participant in the latest Ernest Hemingway Fishing Tournament (and, coincidentally, its only winner) decided to hop over to the opulent hotels of Turkey. None of this would be especially notable if Tony were the heir to the throne of the Sultan of Brunei; but he is no more and no less the son of the most vertically anti-capitalist personage of the second half of the 20th century: the feudal lord Fidel Castro. Continue reading

Citizen Zero Resumes Publication / Jeovany J. Vega

Dear Friends of Citizen Zero:

Due to an unfortunate error, I found myself unable to publish on my site for more than two months. Thanks to the help of esteemed and friendly hands, as of today I am resuming my publishing. I hope that my faithful readers will forgive me for this lamentable delay. This blog will always be at the service of Truth and Homeland.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

20 August 2015


New Round-Up of Beggars and Loiterers in Havana / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran

A man begs for money at the entrance of a hard currency store.*

A man begs for money at the entrance of a hard currency store.*

Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran, Havana, 17 August 2015 – In recent days, a bus carrying some functionary or another and several police officers travels around some of the most central locations in Havana with the objective of rounding up all loiterers and beggars.

The districts of Vedado Capitalina, Centro Habana and Habana Vieja have been combed-through in those areas most frequented by these people. Once again, this part of the city seems a place where no social problem exists.

As customary, when an important international event is imminent, or some world celebrity is coming to visit, all the people who give the impression of being panhandlers are collected. These citizens are taken to the Havana Psychiatric Hospital, temporarily, until the event is over. Continue reading

Cuba Will Change To the Degree That We Cubans Change / Dimas Castellanos

Dimas Castellanos, 3 July 2015 — The leaders of Cuba and the United States have just announced the first and most important result of the process of normalizing relations between the two countries: the reopening of their embassies in Washington and Havana.

The 196 days elapsed between 17 December 2014 and 1 July 2015 is 100 times less than what passed between that 3rd of January of 1961, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to break diplomatic relations with government of Cuba. Because of its significance, that brief period will remain recorded in the history of the two nations, but especially in that of Cuba, creating as it does a favorable scenario for the changes that the “Largest of the Antilles” urgently needs.

Time will tell how long it will take to recover what was destroyed in more than half a century. In that sense, the opening of the embassies is only the first step in a long and complex path, for the magnitude of the anthropological damage that has been suffered will require much time, effort and will to recover. But, without a doubt, resuming diplomatic relations will produce an inevitable impact in the medium-long term on the fundamental liberties and the reconstruction of the citizenry, which constitute the two greatest deprivations of the Cuban people. Continue reading

Kerry and the Pope Make Painting Havana Necessary / Hablemos Press, Mario Echavarría Driggs

Construction brigades repair Reina Avenue. Photo: Elio Delgado

Construction brigades repair Reina Avenue. Photo: Elio Delgado

Hablemos Press, Mario Echavarría Driggs, Havana, 17 August 2015 — “A painted old lady; they’re painting her up so that Kerry and Pope can see how pretty Havana is,” were the comments from Luciano, a newspaper vendor in Havana who was marketing his merchandise on the corner of Reina and Escobar, in the Centro Habana borough.

For some weeks now, various brigades associated with the state-run construction companies ECAL, SECONS and others that fall under the National Assembly of People’s Power, have placed scaffolds along Simón Bolívar Avenue, which is popularly known by its pre-Revolution name, Calle Reina (Queen Street).

These platforms occupy the sidewalks and part of the street, and provide little or no protection to traffic and pedestrians. From high above, the workmen are painting—their paint and tools in hand—poised above a flimsy metal strip. Continue reading

Beyond the Flag / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 16 August 2105 — After hearing and reading the speech by the US Secretary of State during the flag-raising ceremony on 14 August at the site of his embassy in Cuba, and the statements by him and the Cuban Foreign Minister at the subsequent press conference, I think it necessary to clarify some things.

The Secretary of State used, at all times, a conciliatory manner of speech, cautious and respectful, focusing on the present and the future, without forgetting the past, but without allowing it to dictate the course of events.

The Cuban Foreign Minister, on the other hand, repeated some of the absurd and already-routine demands, adding now a populist twist, with the objective of gaining supporters: “…we consider it necessary to make progress on the matter of compensations to the Cuban people, to Cuban citizens, for the human and economic damages….” Continue reading

Salvia: Its Properties / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 12 July 2015 — This plant is native to the Mediterranean region. Its name comes from the Latin term, “salvare,” which means to cure. In English it is known by the name of “sage.” Despite having multiple uses, it is famous mostly has a culinary herb. It has also been utilized for thousands of years as a medicine.

It is an aromatic plant belonging to the labiate family (lamiaceae). These plants grow in bushes measuring some 30-40 cm in height, and they are cultivated in fields, orchards or gardens. It’s leaves are of a velvety grayish-green, with attractive flowers that are colored in lilac, purple or green. It requires rich soil, good drainage, and sunlight. Continue reading

Reopening of US Embassy: Cuba, Invitees Are Not Preconditioned / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran

Dozens of Cubans line up every day in front of the US embassy in Cuba to request an interview. Photo: Roberto J. Guerra

Dozens of Cubans line up every day in front of the US embassy in Cuba to request an interview. Photo: Roberto J. Guerra

Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran, Havana, 04 August 2015 — More than 700 people attended the inauguration of the Cuban embassy in the US, whether or not they agreed with the reestablishment of relations. This event created great expectations that today are an irrevocable reality. Many of those invited to the celebration were people recognized as friends of Cuba.

Individuals who are against the policies carried out by the United States towards Cuba for the last 57 years were received at the diplomatic headquarters, without any reproach by the US government. In addition, for more than 50 years, demonstrations by some US citizens in favor of the Island have been permitted. Continue reading

The Future Begins on August 14 / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

One segment of the Island's population looks favorably upon the rapprochement between the two countries. (File Photo)

One segment of the Island’s population looks favorably upon the rapprochement between the two countries. (File Photo)

Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 3 August 2015 – For some, it began on 17 December of last year, when – as surprisingly as a goal scored at the last minute deciding a world championship – the leaders Barack Obama and Raúl Castro publicly announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, following 50-some-odd years of politicians on both shores hurling invective at each other. But that was still just an announcement, the prologue. The materialization of the historic event – the first part of which was accomplished on 20 July when the Cuban government inaugurated its embassy in Washington – will take place when, this coming 14 August, John Kerry will raise the US flag at the American embassy’s old-time home facing Havana’s Malecón.

It is a moment awaited with curiosity by Cubans in general – and, very particularly, by that part of the dissidence that supports the reconciliation of the two governments. What will come later? The conjectures are flying and there is not one that can be taken seriously. But one thing that is known, that is certain, everywhere, is that tomorrow has begun, and yesterday has started to become a distant memory. It’s what can be heard in the lines to buy eggs, at the neighborhood domino tables, at bus stops, in factories, in offices, at funeral wakes, and at any other place where two or more Cubans are together, talking. Continue reading

Increase in Medical Tension – or in Medical Attention / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran

Eduardo Enrique HerreraHablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera Duran, Havana, 1 August 2015 – News media inside and outside of Cuba highlight the functioning of the Island’s health care system. They consider it exemplary, and even compare with developed countries.

Many of my medical colleagues and I have been discussing the condition of medical care in recent years. The majority of us agree that it has been deteriorating for more than 20 years. Contrary to what the Cuban state communicates.

The lack of professional, technical and service personnel in the public health centers – something that militates against good care – is evident. At the wards that receive a great number of patients, often one can find only one nurse – even in intensive care units, where the ratio should be one nurse per patient. In general, each nurse is tending to two or three very gravely ill patients at a time. Continue reading

Causes and Dangers of the Government’s Erratic Course / Dimas Castellano

The Antecedents

The Revolutionaries who took power in 1959 substituted the 1940 Constitution for the Fundamental Law of the Cuban State*, the Prime Minister assumed the powers of the Head of Government, and the Council of Ministers replaced the Congress. Measures for “the benefit of the people” were decreed that legitimized the power acquired through force. At the same time, civil society was dismantled and civic and political liberties cut. Power was concentrated in the leader, private property passed into the hands of the state, institutionality was undone, and the condition of being a citizen disappeared.

Economic inefficiency was superseded by Soviet subsidies until the collapse the socialist bloc sunk the country into a profound crisis. In response, the government introduced some provisional reforms subordinate to political power. With the triumph of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela a new godfather emerged, and the Cuban government, freed from the pressure of the crisis, put a stop to the reforms. Between that moment and the substitution of the Leader of the Revolution [when Raul Castro stepping in for Fidel Castro], between July 2006 and February 2008, economic deterioration determined the start of new changes within a context of modernizing the model.

The Failure

The transfer of power among the same forces that had held it since 1959 preordained that the order, depth and speed of the changes would remain subordinate again to political interests. This condition disabled the Minimal Plan of Reforms put forth by General Raúl Castro, which aimed to achieve a strong and efficient agriculture, reduce imports, increase exports, attract investments, halt illegalities, check corruption, deflate the public payrolls, and propel self-employment.

Continue reading