Is Disorganization Institutionalized in Our Society, or Is Our Society Institutionalized Disorganization? / Cuban Law Association, Rodrigo Chavez Rodriguez

Foto: OLPL

Rodrigo Chávez Rodríguez, Esq.

For Cubans today it no longer seems strange, much less unusual. A lack of punctuality affects any number of activities, whether they be in the workplace, the classroom or at celebrations. There is always some excuse. The bus did not come; they turned off the lights when I was having visitors; the water shut off when I went to take a bath; etc.

Although there might be valid justifications, they are daily occurrences that have become persistent issues, and are now one in the same.

The critical moment occurs when we try unsuccessfully to find out why from the agencies responsible for transportation, electricity, water, or whatever it might be. The responses from each one of them to the problem at hand are no more than mere excuses.

As a general rule the problems of transportation, electricity, water, or anything else are always blamed on the fifty-year-old unbending and illegal blockade. However, the vast majority of problems we face on a daily basis are rooted in the lack of organization prevalent in all spheres of activity.

Aside from the lack of replacement parts and accessories necessary to achieve the optimum benefit from parking spaces, there is no adequate plan for their use in response to the interests and needs of the populace. One could ask: Wouldn’t it be possible to contract post-market services abroad?

Under the current conditions, the acquisition of the means of transportation is carried out through “friendly” countries, which provide us with easy credit. Is it not possible to carry out a serious and thorough study that would allow for the orderly planning of bus schedules that takes into account customer demand?

After all these years have there been no graduates in engineering who specialize in transportation management? How is it possible that private transport providers can satisfy the needs of the populace with punctuality but those of the state cannot? Why do the famous reinforcements appear as if by magic? And then there is air and rail transport. It is nothing less than a miracle if arrivals and departures occur on schedule. No doubt there are justifications for these too.

If all planning undertaken in “time of war” carries over into “time of peace, then we can be sure that disorganization will be permanently institutionalized.

There are always justifications for the lack of power, electricity or water supply. They have now become common. While we are informed about disruptions, breakdowns, maintenance and other issues, it is undeniable that these almost always occur when we least expect them. In other words not at opportune times or on schedule. Nothing, or almost nothing, is well-planned or well-organized.

These are only a few examples of how organized the disorganization is, how institutionalized it is. One could broaden the scope and look at other recurring problems such as academic courses, the distribution of medications and other issues that would make up an endless and tiresome list.

At the start of every academic course, there are assurances that “everything is planned and very well-organized.” As the course proceeds, however, there are shortages of certain things. It could be fuel, it could be the basic course materials, it could be various sorts of input, etc.

The issue of medications and their distribution is, in large part, an irrefutable example of the institutionalization of disorganization, especially of those items distributed through the well-known “ration card.” In other words, medications that are controlled.  An exhaustive system of control has been set up to register individuals, yet when these same individuals go to a pharmacy to obtain their supposedly controlled medications, they find they are no longer available.

Maintenance of the distribution systems for electrical energy and water require planning. How unlike our own reality! When there are problems due to maintenance, disruptions or breakdowns, this implies that service is not available and, therefore, is not being used. But – wonder of wonders! – although charges are based on kilowatts per hour, we find out when the bill arrives that those hours, when nothing was being consumed, were not taken into account.

If there were a real desire for organization, one need only look to private sector workers as an example, whether they be in the transportation, restaurant or service industry. The first “organizers” pave the way, the second ones maintain a standard of excellence, and the third benefit from word-of-mouth.

If there is no justice and fairness, bread becomes charity.

Translated by Maria Montoto

August 15 2012

The Elevator and the Wheelchair / Regina Coyula

The other day in the hospital, after waiting fifteen minutes for an elevator to take my husband to the medical offices on the top floor of the building, a man who was pushing someone I assume was his mother in a wheelchair, was prevented from getting on the elevator although there was ample space, because no wheelchairs are permitted.

We got onto the elevator when it was on its way up and the elevator operator called on the phone so that the person in the wheelchair could be picked up, but the “specialized” elevator was detained on another floor waiting for another patient. On the way down, the elevator stopped once more on the floor where we had been and the “solution” was to stand the patient up and to fold the wheelchair — everything being done as a favor and with the operator’s explanation that she could be reprimanded.

My husband got excited because the reason for a hospital is to care for the infirm and the lady had been waiting for nearly half an hour; he surmised that if the conditions which led to a given policy changed, then the policy also had to change. I was giving him discreet signs — touching him with my foot and jabbing him with my elbow.

The gentleman pushing the his mother’s wheelchair excused the operator, who had left them stranded, and effusively thanked her for agreeing to transport them. The submissiveness of accepting any measure is not merely something of hospitals, but a national syndrome.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 14 2012

ALL OF US CHRISTIAN CUBANS SHOULD SIGN THE CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA / Mario Barroso

ALL OF US CHRISTIAN CUBANS SHOULD SIGN THE CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA

For several weeks now the CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA has come to be known, a demand which a symbolic number of Cubans — not on behalf of any party or institution, but simply by virtue of citizenship — turned in to the National Assembly of Popular Power. Given such a short period of time, this effort has already achieved a record number of Cuban signatures, both within and outside the island. Internationally recognized figures of unquestionable prestige are starting to take note and see this demand favorably — a snowball that is increasing exponentially in size and is headed straight toward the sore — perhaps as a last valid effort for obtaining the changes, so urgent to Cuba, via totally peaceful and civilized means.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have decided not to remain neutral before the disaster — in every sense — that is today the nation in which I live, in which I am called to minister, and which I love. I believe Dante was correct when he declared: “the most fiery parts of Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, remain neutral.”

That is why my signature of the CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA was already among that first symbolic group of signers who carried out the formal delivery. Also there, were those of my wife as well as other esteemed brethren of faith.

I consider that no one who claims to be a disciple of Christ in Cuba should remain neutral before the debacle that is being reaped as a result of these more than fifty years of disaster; and much less remain in whichever of those organizations which are identified as political or of the masses — merely tentacles of the oppressive government.

My pastoral work is characterized by a lot of patience and tolerance of the many who are in such ambivalent positions, but my personal opinion is that if neutrality is questionable in its extreme, placed on a par with the half-heartedness referred to in the Book of Apocalypse of the Bible, conspiracy with a system that is at present totally unmasked is equivalent to complicity, also equivalents to allowing yourself to be marked by the political beast to whom the Book of Apocalypse makes reference in chapter 13.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is not neutral to the Cuban plight, and much less favors it, I call all of my Cuban brethren of faith within and outside the island, to sign this demand that can in itself constitute an instrument of response to the innumerable prayers and clamor that has been raised to Him during decades of suffering. Those possessing access to internet may do so on the following web page: http://porotracuba.wordpress.com

The CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA merely insists that the pacts signed in the United Nations by Felipe Perez Roque, ex-minister of Foreign Affairs, be ratified. The ratification involves one step beyond a simple signing since it forces the urgent materialization of constitutional changes that will adapt to those pacts.

The Bible states in Galatians 3:15 that A PACT, EVEN IF MADE BY MAN, ONCE RATIFIED, NO ONE CAN INVALIDATE IT NOR ADD TO IT. Although human, these pacts pick up on basic elements so that people be treated with the dignity corresponding them for the simple reason of being born, created in the image and likeness of God.

Let our acts correspond to our prayers.

Let us sign the CITIZEN DEMAND FOR ANOTHER CUBA!

Presbyter Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 5 2012

Pastors For What? / Fernando Dámaso

The caravans for Cuba, which are organized annually by the so-called Pastors for Peace, force one to think. In the one held this year (the 22nd), which already crossed the border between Canada and the United States, they orchestrated the usual media show with allegorical posters to the blockade (in reality an embargo) and the five heroes (in reality spies), arms raised with closed fists, combat songs and the overworked Cuban flag on their vehicles. The next border to cross — after visiting 80 North American cities on their tour, picking up unused articles — will be between the United States and Mexico, in the state of Texas, where they will repeat the show.

It seems these Pastors are more committed to propaganda than to humanitarian help for Cuba: in the end, in order to bring a few knick-knacks to Cuba, they are guaranteed, on top of the media involvement, a tourist run throughout the North American territory, a stroll through Mexico, a free trip to Cuba with all expenses paid, the welcoming by governmental organizations and coverage by the official press. What else could one ask for such a small investment?

“Aid” buses on J Street in El Vedado

If the first articles they expect to transfer to Cuba were collected in Canada (medical supplies, bicycles and wheelchairs), why not ship them directly from that country? Why face the customs transactions (surely they must be a lot less bothersome as well as cheaper, than those of Cuban customs with any simple traveler), having to employ vehicles and spend on gas and food, traveling with them throughout the North American territory? Perhaps with those savings they could have added a few more articles. It appears that the spectaclewas planned with a show at the beginning, on the Canadian border, and another at the end, on the Mexican border.

It is worthy of note, for those who are not aware, that these shipments are not made to Cuba but to the Cuban government — which would seem to be the same thing, but isn’t — which distributes them through their organizations and institutions or other affiliates, according to its specific interests. No nongovernmental agency, which doesn’t respond to its political interests, is taken into account, independently of the needs of its members: 22 times it has been repeated, so it is not a coincidence.

When committing to peace, one tries to facilitate dialogue and tolerance between the parties in conflict. During more than twenty years, these Pastors have defended their positions and have repeated the arguments and followed the orders of the Cuban government. They have never worried about the situation of any political prisoner, nor of their mothers, wives and children, and much less so, have they ever heard the opinion of those who think differently — who are as Cuban as the rest. With that lack of neutrality, it is not possible to expect one to believe that they are committed to peace.

This use of the name of Cuba for everything, when in reality the right thing to say would be Cuban government, is something that is already bothersome to many citizens. As we all know, the government does not represent nor does it substitute for all of us eleven million Cubans who live on the island, and much less, the more than two million who reside outside of it. If the Pastors, or any other organization, should want to support the government, let them do so (they are fully in their rights to do so), but let them not hide behind the name of Cuba, and much less so behind the Cubans: they should assume their decision, with all of its present and future implications. It is true that not everyone involved is like that, nor is everyone like that involved; however, without intentions of offending anyone: it seems that God created them all, and the Devil brought them together.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 14 2012

ETEC, On Line with Neglect / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

From Ecopolis.org

Some months ago, I read on the Internet that the Cuban government had bought from Italy its portion of shares in Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A.*, better known by its acronym ETECSA. If it is now totally national, the abbreviation for “anonymous society” (S.A.) is superfluous. That purchase may be interpreted as a convenient “financial exclusion” of a foreign investor, whose economic injections in Cuba were fundamental to Cuban telephony. It is like a blockade in reverse, whereby the only beneficiary is the all-powerful state, which obtained the capital that it needed for that branch without having to cede too much to the liberating capitalist demands of its commercial associate.

I learned some days ago through the Cuban press, that they have facilitated the change of titled ownership for fixed landline phones: a fundamental step forward — some believe — toward the debureaucratization of that entity. I believe that it was a logical step after having legalized the purchase/sale of housing, because as is natural, some real estate properties include telephone service and it was ridiculous from a legal standpoint that it would be easier to be the owner of a house than of a phone.

Last May, the Ministry of Informatics and Communications approved Resolution No. 82, which makes possible the change of ownership title. Before, only transfers in cases of divorce, death, definitive emigration, or permutas** were allowed, in a country where only the minority of the population has access to that constant means of communication.

I don’t know if the procedure will be prompt or as slow and ineffective as state services tend to be for Cubans. We gain “the dignity” of recuperating “sovereignty” in our only telephone company in exchange for mistreatment, indolence and inefficiency for all of us Cubans who live on the archipelago.

This past 2nd of June my telephone line “passed away” and although we reported it on various occasions (several of our friends also did), we are still in mourning for the lack of communication.

What to do? Where to seek help? It appears that when there is financing from “foreign exploiters” mixed in with a government enterprise, we are better tended and paid, and less exploited than in one that is solely Cuban; and that “damned capitalism” is better than the capitalism of a ruling state, which ignores us, violates our rights and denies us services and attention.

When ETECSA was an anonymous society and a client reported a break in service, it would take two or three days to fix. Now that only a few months have passed since the state once again assumed control over the telephone enterprise as sole proprietor, it is as if there were no one tending to its given function. It is preferable that they charge us a diligent smile, rather than constantly advertising apparent and biliary benefits for the average Cuban, which are only in the minds of the highest political and bureaucratic class — generally demonstrating indolence and ineptitude.

The slogan “ETECSA: on line with the world” reflects the institutional frankness — aligned with the government — that they are fundamentally interested in the part of the orb which provides them with juicy dividends in the coin of the capitalist “enemy”, whom they criticize so much, and not in the other one — within our borders — without capital and exploited, to whom they imposed a line of silence and a devalued money that they disrespect and reject.

Note: My telephone service was reestablished two weeks after this text, which was delayed due to the impossibility of accessing the internet for a month.

Translator’s notes:
*Enterprise of Telecommunications of Cuba, Annonymous Society.
**Permutes are a legalized form of exchanges of living quarters.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 30 2012

Liberties in Cuba? / Yoaxis Marcheco Suárez

Baptist, Methodist and Pentacostal pastors in a UMAP forced labor camp. Source: religionrevolution.blogspot.com

By: Yoaxis Marcheco Suárez

I don’t know what is happening with some people and institutions in the world, I think that they suffer from some sort of lethargy that doesn’t allow them to perceive Cuban reality, or they are simply content with what the antidemocratic government of the country informs and draws for them. The Cuban heartland is something else, very distant from the reports and statistics that the un-government offers to international opinion. The mere fact of seeing the nation submerged in bankruptcy and disequilibrium caused by more than 50 years under the same system, with leaders whose extreme self-sufficiency has led them to believe that they are immortal gods, almighty and non-substitutable, is already sufficient for the free world to understand that on the tiny Antilles island, democracy and freedom went out to the countryside one day and apparently cannot find their way back home.

I also can’t seem to explain the reason why the Cuban nation doesn’t take over the reins and liberate itself once and for all from everything that overwhelms it. We can clearly see, one only needs to have a bit of good vision, that the country will succumb, that its inhabitants are discontent with daily living, although, lamentably, the answer to this unhappiness is the high number of emigrants, suicides, alcoholics, delinquency, the low birth rate (which has resulted in an aging population), alienation and silence.

To speak of freedom in Cuba is almost painful, the most recurrent monosyllable is “No”. No freedom of expression. No freedom of the press. No freedom of political or party affiliation (in a one-party system). No freedom of ideas. No freedom of information. No freedom of meetings or membership. And there is a so-called “religious freedom” where the separation of Church and state only applies to the Church, because the state is constantly exerting its meddling dominion over the various denominations, associations, etc.: manipulating the ecclesiastic leadership, forever threatening, blackmailing, with airs of superiority. I truly do not know what they call separation of Church and state, when the former is supervised in every aspect by the latter: every step that is taken, every decision that is made.

The questions posed by Benedict XVI on his recent visit to the country continue to be unanswered. When will properties that were confiscated from the Churches in the early years of the Revolution be returned in their entirety? When will it be possible to build new church-affiliated educational institutions so that present and future generations of the faithful may be educated, not under the doctrines of Marxist-Leninism, but under the teachings of the Bible? When will religious institutions be allowed to have their own radio and television time-slots, have their periodical publications, presses, editorial houses and bookstores? Could it be that denying all this to the Church is not, in some good measure, the same as wounding its freedom?

Furthermore, it is important to point out that all of the elements that deny believers in Cuba of their genuine freedom should, if restored, be for everyone without distinction including, as Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy would say in his post: “Another lie of Radio Marti…” to the “tiny and irrelevant congregations delegated to the Western Baptist Convention, as well as the Apostolic Movement,” the latter not legalized by the censoring filter of the Central Committee Register of Associations.

The great fallacy is (and, believe me, this is already more than “a quagmire of lies”) in stating that in Cuba its un-government (and I cite the aforementioned author): “has never tortured or persecuted religious pastors for their beliefs, independent of the size of their denominations, their isolation, or lack of a support group on a national or international level.” I believe the term “never” is too broad. Although, of course, the author to whom I am referring is following the steps of his maximum guide, the now historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, who had the shamelessness to declare in the interview “Fidel and Religion,” that in Cuba no place of worship had ever been shut down.

In the not too distant past –just barely the decade of the ’60s of the past century)– the dictators (by then staunch enemies of religion) created the UMAP* concentration camps, where hundreds of pastors and Church leaders were sent. Many places of worship were literally shut down, among them the Baptist Church Ebenezer of Taguayabón, of which I am a member.

The faithful were not worthy to attend the universities of the country, many would lose their jobs if they decided to remain steadfast to their faith. Places of worship were emptied giving way to the era of Communist ideology, with its atheist and materialistic nature, that in Fidel Castro’s version takes on the appearance of exterminator of the spirituality of a believing people, by their nature.

The current, much-trumpeted Cuban Constitution –all the while manipulated by the owners of everything within the island– claims in its article 8, to acknowledge and respect freedom of conscience and religion. They should, if they were honest, include a clause in this article: only if whoever professes these is a Revolutionary, practices “Fidelism” and has learned to abide by whatever is mandated to them on behalf of governmental entities.

The clause is implied, even when the article goes on to state that religious institutions are separate from the state. Article 55 states: that the state recognizes, respects and guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. It would be repetitive to explain this great lie: a country where whoever thinks differently –in ideology and politics– is incarcerated, arbitrarily detained, threatened, repudiated and always under the same defamatory pretext: that they are either paid by the empire or are mercenaries. In the atrocious egocentrism of the Castros and their “revolutionary” followers, differing minds do not fit. They fear plurality, like the fear that the tyrants have of those of true faith and firm convictions.

In any case and without understanding what happens to those who proclaim themselves free in the world, and with the Cuban nation so lacking its most basic rights, I carry on here within this stifled Cuba and in this “tiny and irrelevant Baptist Convention of Western Cuba”, for my fill of beautiful traditions and a deep history of more than one hundred years, with champions of the faith like Alberto J. Diaz, who was very close to José Martí and who collaborated in the pro-independence struggles against the Spanish colony; Luis Manuel Gonzalez Peña, who in the darkest hours of the faithful in Cuba told a civil servant, who predicted the end of the Churches in the country, that there would be Churches to last a while, and others. Believing in a Jesus, who does not commune with the powerful egocentrics of this world but with those below them –with “the immense minorities”– and who in the end was followed by many, to be abandoned later by the greater part of them, including His disciples, and who was also crucified by many and accepted by few.

*Unidades Militarias de Ayuda a la Producción: Military Units for Assistance to Production

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 6 2012

CITIZEN PETITION / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

 

Havana, June 26, 2012

TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE POPULAR POWER OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA:

The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in its article 63, states

All citizens have the right to direct complaints and petitions to the authorities and to receive the attention or pertinent responses in an adequate time-frame, according to the law.

And according to its letter and spirit, we the undersigned are directing ourselves to that maximum authority of the government of the nation with the following.

CITIZEN PETITION

According to postulates reflected in the Preamble of Principles of Jakarta about the application of international legislation of human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and which establishes that:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and every person has the right to the enjoyment of human rights, without any distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, opinion –political or of any other nature– national or social origin, economic status, birth or any other condition.

In all regions of the world people suffer violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudices due to their sexual orientation or gender identity…

International human rights legislation imposes an absolute prohibition of discrimination in regard to the full enjoyment of all human rights…; that the respect of sexual rights, sexual orientation and gender identity are essential for the achievement of equality between men and women and that States should adopt all appropriate measures to eliminate prejudices and tactics based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes…

Considering that in our country such ideas are still very far from being carried out in the bosom of Cuban society and are not duly reflected in current legislation, we believe it appropriate to SOLICIT:

The official acceptance and carrying out of the Jakarta Agreements.

That the national authorities carry out an ample investigation in all that is related to that negative event of our history named “Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción” (UMAP: Military Units for Assistance to Production) and that their results be published in the national mass media.

That those responsible for those dreadful occurrences be subjected to judicial action for the repeated and massive violation of the human rights of countless numbers of Cuban citizens.

That the arbitrary use and application of the concept “dangerous state” of the current Penal Code against persons for the sole “crime” of their sexual orientation be explained publicly.

That the forced exile that numerous homosexual citizens were subjected to be opened to public debate.

That the violent deaths of some homosexuals on the streets or other locations be made clear.

Wendy Iriepa Diaz and Ignacio Estrada Cepero.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 2 2012

Play Offs / Rafael León Rodríguez

Source: www.tvcamaguey.ICRT.cu

The teams from the western part of the country, the Industriales and Matanzas, began the fifty-first series semifinal playoffs of Cuban baseball, a national sport considered “truly free” by the authoritarian authorities of the archipelago. During the last games, the television images were surprising in the number of players who handled the tension of the games by chewing gum, until, suddenly, all of them stopped doing it. Have they all decided to do so in unison or did the real “liberty in sports” work… under vigilance?

Translated by: Maria Montoto

May 16 2012

A Paradise in Destruction / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

What did the triumph of the Cuban revolution accomplish? A lot: it changed what should not have been changed, destroyed all of the island’s prosperity. It focused on the benefits for the government and forgot the people; it deceived, lied and used many followers, deluded at first by promises of a false freedom and independence for Cuba.

What did they do? They made us dependent on the Socialist camp and didn’t care about the future in their eagerness to demonstrate that they can come out ahead without help from its neighbor to the North; this governmental pride oppresses us more each day.

What do they do? Nothing: to invent a blocade that always existed, mocking this measure by having the help of the Soviet Union, and today said embargo is brought out in order to explain and justify the scarcity of all that was promised.

What have they demonstrated? The lack of preparation and the ambition for power; that we are being led by incompetents or by people who love regression.

The inexplicable! An island surrounded by ocean yet there is scarcity of salt, there is scarcity of fish; 53 years of government and we have nothing.

The explicable! We are governed by an ambitious dictatorship of destructive power, with ideological methods based on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, that force one to adhere to its beliefs or to be punished by death or to be exiled forever. They are people who do not know how to find equilibrium because they want to demonstrate their absolute perfection — and that doesn’t exist, not even nature is perfect!

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 2 2012

The Face of a Bohío / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

The Eurocup 2012 soccer match left me seated before the TV this past Sunday the 17th of June. However it was not the soccer that led to this writing, but the documentary titled “Bohío” they put on afterward and whose director won –they said in the presentation– the first place in a contest of young producers.

The audiovisual dealt with a young couple who lives in the Sierra Maestra and decides to build their bohío — a type of shack or hut made with Royal palms — and beautify it in spite of their hardship and rusticity. It begins with an on-screen text that claims that when the Spanish arrived in Cuba in 1492, the inhabitants they found here were already building these types of shacks.

Some 520 years after that historic occurrence, one is surprised by the general poverty of the environment; the same one that harbored the bearded-ones led by Fidel Castro so that they would make the Revolution, so there would be greater social justice and to create better living conditions for the peasants.

Currently, various zones in the Sierra do not have electric power, nor can they count on water or waste systems, and living conditions are not too far from those of 53 years ago. It is true that they have been taught to read, but perhaps ironically that instruction may serve them to contrast their situation with that of the other territories of Cuba and the world that they may –or may be allowed– to know. It is also true that they have free medical attention, but great distances, communication difficulties, the lack of transportation and the steepness of the region have probably led more than once to someone with a medical emergency not receiving care in time.

A tight-lipped despair pervades the brief cinematic report, in which we see the woman carrying water and peeling and cooking ñame (a type of sweet potato cultivated in the region) bent over a wood stove on the dirt floor. At no time did they show the bathroom, whereby I suppose that it is the typical hole in the ground that still exists in rural areas, and which are called latrines, and are generally built outside of the house. The loquaciousness of the images did not allow for voice over commentaries. The silent docudrama sketches the routine of the couple making paint with red mud and applying it to the palm frond walls with a broom. Their stern faces say it all.

Those are the vignettes of Cuba that don’t appear in the tourist and promotional brochures offered in agencies for Cuban travel, nor in the postcards that are sold in our airports.

It was moving to be the spectator in this millennium of a lifestyle which should have been eradicated a long time ago in Cuba and in which silence, photography, and apathy are the protagonists.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 30 2012

Petroleum / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The economic debt grows as Cuba searches for black gold using geological studies that, to date, have mistakenly stated that the Gulf of Mexico – an area of 112,000 square kilometers – is one of the main petroleum producing basins in the world. These studies indicated a high potential for the discovery of new hydrocarbon reserves based on drilling results from the first well, Jagüey-1x, in the exclusive economic zone off Cuba’s coast.

The government knows that if it were to find petroleum in the Gulf, it would be an escape route from debt and a boost to the Cuban economy. It would also mean an end to its dependence on Venezuelan petroleum, which now carries with it the risk of a change in government as a result of Hugo Chavez’s looming and inevitable death.

The risk contracts with companies from India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Venezuela, Norway, Angola, Russia and Spain. The latter quit given the lack of results from the first well drilled and the risks the Basque country would take by investing money without positive results.

The braced ceilings of the Cuban economy are shaken by being at the mercy of fruitless endeavors where luck is one’s best ally. Should petroleum not be found in deep Cuban waters, it would be yet another negligence on behalf of the Cuban leaders of the fact that nature does not favor us now.

The government chose to plunge itself into a game of “we find petroleum or we go adrift”. The end is always uncertain, the future takes you by surprise and  the present is to be lived, but nobody knows what Raul Castro has in mind, however they have Fulgencio Batista as an example: he took off with all of Cuba’s money and lived until his final days.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 28 2012

Cellular Telephony "a la Cubana" / Rebeca Monzo

“+0000000000 Today 6:48

From mobile phones compradetodo.com (buyeverything.com)

Call as soon as possible to 07 2043145

For recharge of minutes balance via Internet,

If you do not call back today the charge will be returned

to the purchaser.

In case of fraud, the line will be cancelled.”

As soon as I saw this same message twice, I called the number in question and the voice of the woman who took care of me repeated that I had received a recharge. I asked for how much, as I was not expecting one, and she did not want to say.

Thereupon she asked my name, the number of my identification card, my cell phone number and the address of my house. I gave her all these facts believing that they were necessary and she immediately asked me the name of the person who was doing the recharge. I asked her if this was an interrogation, to which, a bit irritated, she responded that she had only asked three questions. Since she insisted on the name of the possible benefactor, I answered that it could be one of my two sons or my aunt. Then she told me: “say a man’s name”. I mentioned those of my sons and she said: “Those are not it… (This reply means that she knows the name)… when you know the name, call us. In the meantime, your recharge will be here. Have no fear”. The message in question has been repeated, as of now, five times.

This whole conversation, as well as its very tone, at first appeared to me to be in jest and immediately thereafter, a lack of respect and even a violation of the client’s right to privacy.

I state this so that anyone who might generously recharge my telephone, be they family or friend, may know just how tightly our telephony is controlled. This appears to be a new “Service to the client” of the Cubacel Enterprise.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 28 2012

Site manager’s note: If you recharge the bloggers’ cellphones (a WONDERFUL thing to do) it’s a good idea to send them an email with whatever name you used when you recharged it and the amount… otherwise it may not always be credited to them. If there’s no email on their Spanish blogs … email us (translatingcuba … at… gmail…) and we’ll try to get in touch with them. I will also put this information and the emails we have for the bloggers on the “How to Recharge Bloggers’ Phones” page.