Driving in Reverse / Miriam Celaya

Image from the Internet

(Originally published in Cubanet the April 11, 2014 , titled ” Raul Castro Goes in Reverse”)

Clearly, the new Foreign Investment Law “approved” by the usual parliamentary unanimity last March 29, 2014, has been the talk of the town on the topic of “Cuba”, for the Island’s official as well as for the independent and foreign press.

With the relaxation of the existing law–enacted in 1995–the new regulation is aiming to throw the ball to the opposite field: if Cuban residents of the US cannot invest in Cuba currently, it would no longer be because the regime bans it, but because of the shackles imposed by the embargo, a trick of the elderly olive green crocodile that continues with its wiles and snares despite the collapse of the system.

Amid the expectations of the government’s and of aspiring investors, there stretches a wide tuning fork of the ever-excluded: the common Cubans, or the “walking Cubans” as we say, whose opinions are not reflected in the media, magnifying their exclusion.

This time, however, the cancellation of the innate rights of Cubans is causing social unrest to multiply, in a scenario in which there are accelerated shortages in the commercial networks and persistent and increasing higher prices and a higher cost of living.

Rejection of the Investment Law

Shortages, as well as inflation, indexation and bans for certain items of the private trade, have caused many family businesses to close since January 2014 due to the uncertainty surrounding the heralded–and never properly explained–monetary unification.

In addition to the lack of positive expectations, these are the factors that thin out the social environment and lead to generally unfavorable reviews of the new law and its impact within Cuba.

An informal survey I conducted in recent days in Central Havana after the March 29th extraordinary session of parliament shows rejection of the new Law on Foreign Investment, almost as unanimous as the “approval” that occurred in the plenary: of a total of 50 individuals polled, 49 were critical of the law and only one was indifferent.

In fact, the issue has been present with relative frequency in many cliques not directly surveyed–uncommon in a population usually apathetic about laws–in which the dominant tendency was to criticize various aspects of the law.

The main reasons for the people’s discontent are summarized in several main points: the new law excludes, arbitrarily and despotically, Cuban nationals, which implies that the lack of opportunities for the Island’s Cubans is being maintained.

Foreign investors will not only have great advantages and tax considerations which have never been granted to the self-employed, tariff concessions with respect to imports (which is just what traders in imported items asked for and was not granted); the State will remain the employer of those who will labor in foreign-funded enterprises, implying consequent hiring based on Party loyalty–be it real or fake, and taxed wages; widening social gaps between sectors with higher levels of access to consumption and the more disadvantaged sectors (the latter constantly growing).

At the same time, many Cubans question the vagaries of government policy which, without any embarrassment, favors the capital of the expats-–the former “siquitrillados*, the bourgeoisie, gypsies, worms, traitors, scum, etc.”–over those who stayed behind in Cuba.

The logical conclusion, even for those who stayed relatively associated with the revolutionary process, or at least those who have not openly opposed the regime, is that leaving the country would have been a more sensible and timely option to have any chance of investing in the current situation. There are those who perceive this law as the regime’s betrayal to the “loyalty” of those who chose to stay, usually Cubans of lesser means.

Another topic that challenges the already diminished credibility of the government is the very fact of appealing to foreign capital as the saving grace of the system, when, the process of nationalization of 1959, it was deemed as one of the “fairer measures” and of greater significance undertaken, to “place in the hands of the people” what the filthy bourgeois capital had swiped from them.

Cubans wonder what sense it made to expel foreign capital and 55 years later to plead for its return. It’s like going backwards, but over a more unstable and damaged road. Wouldn’t we have saved ourselves over a half a century of material shortages and spiritual deprivation if we had kept companies that were already established in our country? How many benefits did we give up since the State, that unproductive, inefficient and lousy administrator, appropriated them?

What revolution are you taking about?

At any rate, the majority has a clear conscience that the revolution and its displays of social justice and equality are behind us, in some corner of the twisted road. “Do you think this new law will save the revolution?”

I provocatively ask an old man who sells newspapers in my neighborhood. “Girl! Which revolution are you referring to, the one that made Batista flee or the one that is making all Cubans escape? The 1959 revolution was over the moment ’this one’ handed over the country to the Russians, now the only thing the brother wants is to give it back to the Americans and to keep himself a nice slice.”

I probably never before heard such an accurate synthesis of what the history of the Revolution means today to many a Cuban.

*Translator’s note: Those who lost investment and personal property when companies were nationalized in 1959 and early 1960’s. From one of Fidel’s speeches, “we broke their wish bone and we will continue to break their wish bone”.

Translated by Norma Whiting

11 April 2014

The Voices of Cubans? / Miriam Celaya

Arrogance is a personality trait impossible to hide for those who suffer from it. In fact, it becomes more obvious when an arrogant individual tries to cover his proverbial petulance under a cloak of feigned humility. The worst of such a subject, however, is his histrionic ability that allows him to deceive considerable groups of people, particularly those who desperately need someone to speak “for them” or those who, quite the opposite, enjoy the blessing of authority.

In the case of Cuba, where freedom of speech, of the press, of information and of association are among the major shortages of this society, it is not difficult that, from time to time, some savior may appear self-proclaiming to be “the spokesperson for Cubans” which–it’s obvious–betrays immeasurable insolence, not only because it lacks the allocation of powers, but because it previously assumes an often repeated lie that, for some chumps, has become the truth: Cubans have no voice. Allow me, Mr. Arrogant and his troupe, to correct your mistake: Cuba’s Cubans do have a voice, what they lack is the means to be heard, not to mention the great number of deaf people in the world.

But, of course, a shining hero will always appear–usually with credentials and even with a pedigree–who, from his infinite wisdom, will quickly delve into the deeper intricacies of the Cuban reality and will be the only one capable to interpret it objectively because he, balanced and fair, “is not at the end of the spectrum”. Interestingly, these specimens proliferate virulently among accredited foreign journalists on the Island.

Since I don’t wish to be absolute, I suppose that there are those who are humble and even respectful of Cubans and of our reality, only I have never had the privilege of meeting them. It may be my bad luck, but, that said, to practice journalism in Cuba armed with credentials of a major media outlet and with the relative safety that your work will be published and–very important–duly financially rewarded, seems to have a hallucinogenic effect on some of them.

Such is the case of quasi-Cubanologist Fernando Ravsberg, to whom I will refer as “R” as an abbreviation, a journalist recently fallen from grace with his (ex) employer, the BBC, who has written a plaintive post following his clash with the powerful medium and, oh, surprise! after many years of working as a correspondent in Cuba and having collected his earnings has found that “he does not share their editorial judgment” as stated in his personal blog, Cartas Desde Cuba. R, inexplicably, took longer to find out the editorial standards of the BBC than to get acquainted with the intimacies of such a controversial society as that of Cuba. Continue reading

The Beginning of the End / Miriam Celaya


The note pinned to the Cuban flag being burned says “Out of Venezuela”

HAVANA, Cuba – The stunning images of the National Guard repressing marches in Venezuela reveal a stark contrast between the capability achieved by mankind to communicate globally at breakneck speed and the existence of apelike behavior: the authorities using their beasts against unprotected civilians.

Things are not going very well in a nation whose president, supposedly democratically elected at the polls to lead to a successful destination all its citizens and not just his followers, has adopted repression as a resource to establish “peace”, while he stokes the fires of hatred and polarization as a means to “solve” the crisis, behavior which evidences the failure of his political performance beyond the period of time he may yet stay in power.

The complexity of the situation in Venezuela is also reflected in that the protests being held steadily since February 12th are not initiated or led from the well-known opposition figures, but are mostly student and civic demonstrations against a government trying to establish itself as a dictatorship. The discontent has been growing from within society, not only because of the increasing shortages and the growing gaps and civil liberties violations, but also since President Nicolas Maduro’s Parliament sought and obtained full freedom to exercise despotism at will.

And, though control of the situation has slipped from Maduro’s fingers, (if he ever had any control), and though he is deserving of, but sadly destined to go down in the country’s history as the perfect scapegoat of the Castro-Chávez experiment that seems to be reaching its end, the truth is that the late Hugo Chávez would not have been able to sustain indefinitely the Bolivarian project either, in the presence of an economy that had begun its countdown at the time of his death, after 14 years of nonsensical policies. The outcome is only a matter of time.

The end of an alleged paradigm

It goes without saying that any leftist project inspired by a “Cuban Marx-Fidel-Martí” ideology — and for some years also “Chávez-Venezuelan” — which manages to achieve political power in Latin America, carries in itself all the essential elements that, though originally intended to perpetuate the new ruling class, leads instead to its failure: contempt for property, populism as a platform to support the political-ideological government programs, the destruction of the infrastructure and of the institutions inherited from earlier periods, the elimination or limitation (radical or gradual ) of civil liberties, the reformulation of the legal basis in favor of the interests of the new controlling power and the identification of an external enemy that hinders or prevents achieving government programs, among others.

This last element, which decades ago allowed F. Castro to polarize society from his power base by establishing a watershed between the government and its supporters (the worthy ones, the Patriots) and those in the opposition (the evil ones, the stateless), currently constitutes a political immaturity that is not delivering the dividends of previous decades, since the ever-villain U.S. government is not showing too much interest in taking part in Latin-American conflicts, an issue that weakens the regional nationalistic outbursts of a sub-continent with a historical past plagued by the interventions of its powerful northern neighbor.

And if that were not enough, the so-called “Bolivarian revolution” supports, in addition, an extra burden: while Castro’s revolution assumed, relatively successfully, a regional symbolic leadership managed to date – this must be acknowledged — with great skill by the Cuban leadership, Chávez’s revolution risked economic leadership by subsidizing the region’s leftist and other related projects, squandering generously Venezuela’s natural energy resources with the consequent deterioration of its very economy, ultimately leading to the current crisis. In short, just like Fidel Castro long ago depicted himself as an image of the Messiah, Hugo Chávez, in his time, ended up as the image of a patron saint, while the fickle masses will end up someday seeing Maduro as “the guy who ruined everything.”

As for the rest, and for the detriment of the radical leftists, Venezuelan oil is the lifeline of that pipe dream called ALBA, conceived as an economic locomotive of the “Latin American integration” which has allowed so much nationalist populism to be reborn in a region particularly addicted to sentimentality and caudillos. Little fortune could be predicted in an alliance whose central axis has its household upside down. Just in case, each fairly astute chieftain should be reviewing his accounts and stuffing his personal savings under the mattress. When XXI century socialism eventually stops developing in its Chávez cocoon, it will drag with it whatever parasites are feeding on Venezuela. It is possible that, at least in that nation, a very long sleep awaits the fundamentalist left.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Cubanet, 24 March 2014, Miriam Celaya

Putin Looks to Cuba / Miriam Celaya

Barco-MorroHAVANA, Cuba.-The crucial dispute in which the geopolitical, economic, and military interests of major world powers are played is the most relevant one in escalating individual conflicts that have been taking place in other regions–the Syrian and Venezuelan crises are two examples–perhaps of lesser effects globally, but where hegemonic interests also have some influence. Thus, in numerous media, alarms have gone off heralding the Cold War, an old ghost which many believed had been banished.

Review Notes

The term “Cold War ” was coined during the late 1940s to define tensions of multiple natures (economic, political and ideological, military, scientific, technological, etc.), that characterized the relations between the communist bloc, under the aegis of the dominant USSR, and the capitalist, led by the U.S., after the end of World War II.

The ongoing power struggle between the two axes to achieve global hegemony constituted a permanent threat to world stability and peace, branding many of the major events of the second half of the twentieth century up to the time of the elimination of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the disappearance of the Soviet Union (1991).

The US bloc and its allies had won the game; however, tensions between East and West have never really been overcome. Currently, competing interests go beyond the ideological aspect that defined that almost 50-year span, but the global threat of conflicts between the powers remains intact.



Meanwhile, those countries under the influence of the super powers continue as test sites in the show of force of world power centers, and also as blackmail scenarios of the worst of dangers, just as the 1962 Russian nuclear threat against the U.S. from the Cuban mainland. No wonder, then, that the mere mention of the Cold War can be a source of apprehension to many Cubans, especially now, when there are surges of the unmistakable signs of intentions of using our region, and in particular, our country, as platform for Russian imperialist expansion in this hemisphere, in full defiance of the U.S.

Good and Evil Empires?

At first glance, it might seem that the Russian intervention in the Crimea, the Russian arms sales to Venezuela, and the presence of a Russian spy ship in Havana, are unconnected events. However, declarations by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, about their intentions to open military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba (in the latter case these would “reopen”), information which was not published by the Cuban official media, show that Mr. Putin, seasoned in intrigue and sordid affairs since his days in the KGB, is ready to step up the tone, moving his historical adversary’s line of dispute in Latin America which, despite everything, remains an American sphere of influence.

Meanwhile, “leftist” governments in this region are sounding the alarm against “Yankee Imperialism”, but at the same time they meld alliances with the Russian Empire, whose importance might not be wise to underestimate, despite its post-Soviet era of decline, while others remain indifferent to these events.

Thus, Russia, with its culture and history completely unrelated to ours, and with a lack of traces in our national emotional memory, today has the enthusiastic connivance of the same old Cuban conspirators and their regional disciples, and the acquiescent silence of our Latin American brothers/step-brothers.

Obama and Putin, Mexico 2012

Obama and Putin, Mexico 2012

For Cubans, such a plot could not be taking place at a worse time, when the military power cast holds the monopoly of the economy, and the gerontocracy has been consolidating its international political legitimacy–though not its prestige–thanks to the collusion of governments that met in late January at that aberration called CELAC, and of other international organizations that decided to give the Havana regime a boost, thereby increasing the defenselessness of Cubans against the power’s game for political gains.

For now, some Russian entrepreneurs have begun to invest in sectors of economic interest on the Island, such as tourism, and reportedly also in the Special Development Zone in Mariel, indicating that Cuba remains a point of strategic interest for “the Northern Bear”, the only empire that, at a time when it was Cuba’s “ally”, at the goriest time of the Cold War, placed us in the epicenter of what had the potential to become a global conflagration which, in a matter of minutes, could have wiped us from the face of the earth.

It is terrifying to remember that there were Cubans back then, to whom the government denied the existence of those dangerous Russian artifacts on Cuban soil, who, immediately and massively, got up “in arms against the US imperialist threat”. Such a sad paradox, the enemy was, and continues to be, at home.

More than 50 years later, the scenario is different but some facts are repeated, creating–due to lack of information–the most diverse speculations. The same irresponsible government retakes up the affair with its former allies, perhaps with the collateral intention of indirectly pressuring for the repeal of the U.S. embargo, among other possible plans. Concerns abound, because, if the first part of that forced marriage was bad, we can bet that a second part could even be worse.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Cubanet, 12 March 2014, Miriam Celaya

More Chalas Than Carmelas / Miriam Celaya

conducta_02-500x400HAVANA, Cuba- I confess that I have some animosity against Cuban fiction film, so prone — with few exceptions — to clichés, stereotypes, overly cryptic messages, implied story morals, or what is perhaps worse, the search for easy and superficial acceptance through humor, catharsis or bad satire. I will not list examples, because there are too many, but anyone who has seen a vernacular film of the last 15 to 20 years knows exactly what I mean. Personally, I hate the delight in trying to provoke laughter at the expense of our own misfortunes, derived largely from the pernicious tendency to exploit mockery in order to avoid deep reflection and collective responsibility for the reality that chokes us.

Only a handful of movies from this period preserve dignity, and most of them do not properly fit the genre of fiction, they are documentaries, such as the masterful and unforgettable Suite Habana (2003), directed by Fernando Pérez, to quote a valid example.

That is why, since the beginning of this cinematic phenomenon called Conduct, with the fanatic public filling theaters and with the general approval of viewers and critics, I decided to go see it, only after a process of self-estrangement, and to not write about it as cinematographic product film — something the critics and a whole host of admiring amateurs have already done — but from the perception of the public’s reaction and what it means.

It is fair to recognize that, in the presence of this movie, it is impossible for a Cuban to put distance between the screen and his emotions. The imagery, the dialogue, the plot and sub-plots, the settings and the conflicts it exposes so crudely, are elements that combine to place before a viewer’s eyes the reality of the lives we share and which we hardly notice, immersed in the necessity of an existence full of shortages and unresolved problems.

The plot consists of a central drama, a child of an alcoholic and substance abusing mother. At the same time he pursues elementary school studies, the child also works tending fighting dogs and raising pigeons, which he sells in order to earn money, thus helping his mother. He simultaneously maintains a close bond with his teacher, an experienced educator and very dedicated to her profession, her main reason for living. The child (Chala) and his teacher (Carmela) are characters of great strength and intensity, perfectly articulated and credible. Continue reading

Jurassic Cuba / Miriam Celaya

Mass demonstrations in Venezuela. Image taken from Internet

The news agencies don’t have a moment’s rest these days: a satrap in Ukraine has been overthrown through demonstrations and street protests amid the harsh winter, people stand on long lines to see with their own eyes the pomp and pageantry in which the ex-ruler, an ally of Russia, lived.

In Venezuela, student demonstrations continue, supported by opposition leaders finally came together to confront the Maduro government. In Ecuador, the opposition has just delivered a commendable blow to the government authorities by winning an unquestionable majority vote during local elections this Sunday February 23rd in important places like Quito and Guayaquil, putting the brakes on the rampant President of the “citizens’ revolution.”

The world is moving at breakneck speed, changing scenarios and uncovering new players, while we in Cuba remain in the political Jurassic era, with a government of dinosaurs perpetuated in power. Continue reading

Tax Culture in Totalitarianism / Miriam Celaya

Estado-ladrón-MiriamApproximately four years into the process of the reinstatement of private labor in Cuba, official data acknowledges the existence of over 400,000 “self-employed” throughout the country, representing a percentage of workers that pay taxes to the State, a force to be reckoned with, given their great tax contribution to the State and the jobs they generate, that is, close to half a million individuals producing foods and services, offering income to others, and contributing to the country’s economy, supporting at the same time the State and its many institutions which are just as parasitic.

The authorities, through their media, have been insisting on how important it is for Cubans to gain experience and awareness regarding the “tributary culture” (paying taxes), since the era of “state paternalism” ended, along with its policies of subsidy; everyone should strive to earn a living based on their own capacity and resources to safeguard the revolution’s social benefits, namely the supposedly extraordinary standards of health and education that we enjoy on the Island.

Cynicism aside, the logic of the need for a tax culture is undeniable in any moderately functional society. But in the case of Cuba – are we ever going to stop being a “case”? — It appears that the tax culture that we now aspire to, which was destroyed by the government with the Revolutionary Offensive, is destined to flow in only one direction: from those who provide the tax to the tax institutions, but never the other way around.

Thus, a particular economic variant comes into play in virtue of which the producers must assume the burden of a heavy tax to the State, but the State is not required to report the amounts collected or the fate of the funds collected.

Silent tGaceta-oficialaxes

But there are longer standing taxes whose fate is also unknown. For decades, Cubans have contributed taxes to the Sate-party-government through a system of evaluations from multiple quasi-State organizations that it created.

For example, if we use the official statistics, which indicate there are about 3 million State employees whose average salary is 400 pesos, and if we consider that they are affiliated with the Workers Center of Cuba and, as such, they donate one work day each year destined for a non-existent territorial militia, their contribution in this context would be about $50 million annually — about 16.66 pesos per capita — not counting what they pay in dues to their unions, which, paradoxically, represent the interests of employers, who benefit both from what the employees produce as well as what they pay into the unions.

Recently a friend and colleague speculated about the contributions of the 800,000 members of the ruling and only party. Using an extremely conservative estimate, my friend found an estimated 50 pesos per year per militant, which produced $40 million annually in contributions to the State.

In addition to these estimates, there are taxes collected from mass organizations, such as the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Federation of Cuban Women, a minimal amount, but significant because of large number of their affiliates, or the Young Communists Union, “the revolution’s youth vanguard”, in which both students and workers are active.

National Tax Administration Office

National Tax Administration Office

All these organizations, in turn, are supported by a monstrous (and expensive) infrastructure ranging from office buildings, furniture, fleets of vehicles, employees, materials and resources, even wages, fuel costs and electricity, etc., producing absolutely nothing.

As for the huge bureaucratic apparatus of government and its repressive forces, it is impossible to calculate their living costs. In this sense, many Cubans, especially the so-called “self-employed”, have begun to do their accounts and they wonder if it is not too much of a contradiction to help support the same system that plunders and represses and that, in addition, continues treating them like lepers.

Because, at the end of the day, the tax culture is not — as the government pretends — the imposition of a consciousness of servitude to the Master State in order to keep supposed supreme ideals that, so far, only benefit the State. The tax culture is born and consolidated from the self-awareness that individuals acquire when they reach economic independence, a road that sooner, rather than later, will have to start to flow in both directions.

Cubanet, 20 February 2014, Miriam Celaya

Translated by Norma Whiting


My Friend, La Peregrina / Miriam Celaya


The recent declaration of the birthplace of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (Camaguey, 1814-1873) as a National Monument on the 500th anniversary of the city’s founding, originally named Villa de Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, (today, Camagüey) awakens in me the evocation of a special woman who has always resonated in my spirit.

Tula is that great poet who once chose the pseudonym La Peregrina to publish her poems, never imagining that over 150 years later, this obscure writer would borrow her familiar name to use as the distinctive signature of my own work. Because Tula Avellaneda was my first pseudonym as citizen journalist, a personal way to hide my identity behind the name of a Cuban for whom I have great affection, admiration and respect, as if she were a close friend. The strength of her dynamism was a kind of symbolic shield in the process of exorcism against the demons of fear. Tula is, in short, the only woman for whom I secretly keep a friendly complicity not devoid of a trace of envy.

Because, you know what? I’ve always preferred the Tulas over the Marianas. The nineteenth century was rich in extraordinary Cuban women. Most of them, however, went down in history for their relationship with the wars of independence, and in particular for their link — either maternal or marital- – to men who were the protagonists of these military contests. A few were warriors themselves, so they transcended as patriots for a nation that, unfortunately, has always rendered greater worship to violence than to poetry, love, and literature. Continue reading

Slaves in White Coats / Miriam Celaya

Cuban doctors arriving in Brazil. The joy of the escape.

Cuban doctors arriving in Brazil. The joy of the escape.

In the nineteenth century, slave crews were rented out after the harvest to other landlords, providing the slaves a few trifles. 

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 12 — The recent “defection” of Cuban doctor Ramona Matos Rodríguez, who provided services in Brazil under an agreement signed between that country and Cuba, part of the program “More Doctors for Brazil” once again brings to the forefront the controversial topic of the exploitation of health professionals by the Cuban regime in its desperate race to obtain hard currency.

Matos’s claims are based on the deception which she stated she was victim of, since she was not aware of the two countries’ agreement providing for a monthly royalty payment equivalent to about $4000 per physician, of which Cuban doctors would only be paid $1000 each month, that is, approximately 25% of the total of the original contract.

Medical Sciences graduates. Professionals to export

Medical Sciences graduates. Professionals to export

In addition, the Cuban government would have violated the contract signed by doctors in Cuba prior to their departure to Brazil, since, in practice, they get just over $300 per month, while the Cuban bank holds back $600 to be accessed by the doctors with the use of a debit card on their return to Cuba three years after completing their “mission”.

A Longstanding Trick

The subcontracting system of Cuban doctors to other countries has become one of the most important sources of hard foreign currency for the Cuban government, plus an instrument of political manipulation for electoral purposes by some populist governments. In this sense, the olive-green caste behaves like the old slave-holding landowners in the nineteenth century Cuban sugar industry aristocracy, whose crews were rented out after the harvest to other landlords for dissimilar tasks, providing the slaves with a few coins of some other trifles. Continue reading

Raul Castro on a Tight Rope / Miriam Celaya

raul-castro-mano-en-el-cuelloRaul Cast has the choice to either deepen the openings or go backwards. In both instances, he will have to face the consequences.

HAVANA, Cuba, January. According to Castro II, the General-President, the seven years he has spent as head of government have been, according to his own express desire, barely a “period of experimentation”, in which he has been forced to relax existing laws in an agonizing effort to “update” — not reform — a model that had demonstrated obsolescence since its inception.

At first glance, it would seem that we are in a continuation phase of the experiment that started in January 1959, and the period between July 2006 and December 2013 is just “more of the same” as some like to repeat. But there are certain details that dramatically change the setting, inconsistent with the intentions of the official plan and the results of the experimentation.


The fact is that the “Raúl” phase of the experiment surrendered the foundation over which Fidel’s revolution was erected (except, of course, the power of historical and social control mechanisms, such as the monopoly of the press, information and repression), placing us in front of a curious process of self-destruction of the system from which, subsequently, the same class would emerge at the helm, but in a different political system. We would be thus helping an “experiment” called sweeping the last remains of the paradigm of Marxist breath by the same class which imposed it, to reinstate a market economy, paradoxically intended to perpetuate the power of the supposed enemies of capitalism. Continue reading

ETECSA, the Beggar Phone Company / Miriam Celaya

clip_image002HAVANA, Cuba Just months after Graham Bell patented the telephone, an invention of the Italian Antonio Meucci, Havana hosted the first telephone conversation in Spanish, an event that took place in October 1877.

137 years after the event that would favor the island with the use of a device that definitively contributed to global development, and 132 years after the inauguration of the first telephone service in Havana, the monopoly of the totalitarian system of more half a century over communications and control of the telephonic infrastructure – besides being insufficient — has taken the Island to a brutal technological underdevelopment in this area.

On the other hand, cellular phone service, which has been implemented globally with all the features offered by the development of new information and communication technologies, remains a primitive and embryonic service on the Island, and despite that, extremely costly for most people.

Such a technological gap is not due entirely to the objective lack of capital on the part of the owner/State for investing in the necessary infrastructure to develop communications, but also to a policy bent on keeping Cubans outside sources of information and rights which in today’s world technology enhances. Continue reading

Spain Preaches Democracy in her Underwear / Miriam Celaya

ppcubaespana091112-300x192HAVANA, Cuba, December 2013 www.cubanet.org.- Some insist on denigrating us based on the longevity of the Castro dictatorship and our supposed inability to free ourselves from the yoke.

It is noteworthy that our most stubborn critics tend to be Spanish, which demonstrates not only faulty historical memory, but also the persistence of the type of the controversial love-hate relationship between Cuba and Spain, born centuries ago between a small colony that was able to thrive and generate great wealth thanks to Cubans’ tenacity, talent and labor and a decadent metropolis that -though one day it managed to own an empire “on which the sun never set”- never stopped being one of the poorest and most backward countries in Europe, an encumbrance lingering to date.

ManuelFragaFidelCastroRansesCalderio-300x217Perhaps the loss of Cuba in 1898, which marked the end of the once-great empire in whose dogged defense Spain squandered more resources and young Spanish lives than in the rest of the independence wars in other parts of Latin America, left a mark in its national psyche as the failure of the last stronghold of the Iberian symbol on this side of the Atlantic and the blow to her pride, finally defeated by the intervention of a nation that always valued work and technological advances more than titles of nobility, crests and coats of Arms: the United States. Continue reading