Dearest Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

OLPresident

Barack Obama, behind, channeling the corpse of Hugo Chavez

The presidents of the USA have been a taboo subject in Cuba for 55 years. The image of the Bad Imperialist can only be authorized by the top propaganda authorities of the Communist Party (the only legal one on the island) or, when appropriate, by the very Council of State.  The idea was to depersonalize and discredit all the men of the White House (the documentary pamphleteer Santiago Alvarez embodied the vile vanguard of that mission). The external enemy has to be artificially animalized, to be slain just the same as one more internal opponent. Only in that way, by a simple media comparison for the eyes of a captive audience, would the elevated image of our Maximum Leader shine brighter in our hearts.

Fidel the future, Eisenhower the fossil; Fidel the strapping, handsome proletarian, Kennedy the bourgeois little asshole; Fidel the internationalist warrior, Johnson the international warmonger; Fidel sincere to the bone; Nixon scandalously phony; Fidel the perpetual comrade; Ford this year’s fleeting model; Fidel the pitcher, Carter the catcher; Fidel the still-young star, Reagan the nearly senile stuntman; Fidel in the “Special Period in Times of Peace,” Bush the bombings of post-perestroika; Fidel celibate, Clinton promiscuous; Fidel the horse, W. Bush the jackass; Fidel the dove who has been robbed several times of his Nobel Peace Price, Obama the white hawk with a blackbird’s feathers (the official Cuban press racistly accused him of betraying his own race). Continue reading “Dearest Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo”

After nearly a decade of being censored in Cuba (in spite of receiving the clear signal and being invaded by Cuban personnel), the TeleSUR channel started to be free in Cuba as a gift from Raul in the New Year. Now it’s not just the pirate patch of Walter Martinez on tape, savoring the Bolivarian mush to the illiterate and fanatics of the continent, but rather, since January 2013, it’s finally Mr. Barack Obama, live and kicking on every TV in Havana.

And, to the confusion of everyone at home, it turns out that the skinny kid from The Mulatto House in Washington doesn’t shout, nor present a threat to the public with his hooked fingers, nor wear a military uniform, nor spend hours and hours giving speeches to the millions and millions of his Babylonian nation. To top it off, the guy looks like a citizen and, as such, talks about urgent environmental concerns, about minority rights (representing the local LGBT community better than our National Assembly), or social projects that don’t need another half-century of sacrifice (while at the same time the police authorize a protest against him).

In my surveilled neighborhood of Lawton, after seeing this unheard of thing—a civilian president who does not preside in perpetuity—there were those who made the joke that the next People’s Power electoral ballot should include an extra box to check for “Deputy Obama.” I should publicize that humorous story online. OK, now I’ve done it here.

If I were the Cuban government, I would not take so lightly the symptoms of satisfaction or scorn for our socialism within the Cuban neighborhood. And, just in case, I would prepare one more chair in the Palace of Conventions. The slogan of the plebiscite of the Castros to the Castros in 2018 could well be this:

Cuba, Obamaness is coming!

Translated by: BW

11 April 2015

The Ferry At Last! / Rebeca Monzo

For many years, a ferry in our country served as a practical and economic means of communication between Havana and Key West (Cayo Hueso).  It was heavily utilized by those people who travel with their automobiles, to facilitate movement to other places after arrival at the destination. This was only up to the year 1959, when everything changed dramatically.

Again, after 56 years, the exchange of travel by ferry with the United States of America has been reestablished, this time with certain limitations: people cannot come to our city accompanied by their cars and at the moment only certain people can utilize this means of transportation: Cuban citizens resident in the US and those on the island, and those Americans that qualify for cultural, sports, scientific, academic and other types of exchange. Continue reading “The Ferry At Last! / Rebeca Monzo”

Upon learning the news, the Cuban population has proved to be somewhat disconcerted with these limitations, because they haven’t been given any explanations in this regard. I supposed that this is due, fundamentally, to the lack of infrastructure in our ports to receive these vessels transporting automobiles, the necessary legalization of the use of American and Cuban license plates and driver’s licenses and the deficiency of supplies to deal with the rapid increase in visitors.

As a friend who works in tourism told me, recently a large cruise ship arrived and the travelers descended to visit the historic center of Old Havana and, in a flash, the supplies of bottled water and beer were exhausted.  What does the administration think about confronting this problem, an administration that right now is mired in severe shortages in the shops, markets and businesses of our capital?

As always, the opening measures seem to surprise the Government that says it is working on it “without haste but without pausing*.”  I imagine that, with the prices and salaries of our country, in spite of the ferry, many more  flimsy and clandestine boats will continue leaving, loaded with Cubans “without a visa but in a hurry.”

*Translator’s note: A phrase from a speech by Raul Castro (“sin prisas pero sin pausas”) describing the regime’s approach to “updating” the economy.

 Translated by: BW

To the Government supporters: “You showed your trashy ways” / Rebeca Monzo

Image of the pro-government supporters taken from the Internet

Rebeca Monzo, 15 April 2105 — The 7th (of April) arrived.  The Summit of the Americas in Panama and, with it, the invited and participating delegations started to arrive in the Central American country.  The official Cuban delegation, one of the largest, had a good time organizing and preparing, under the optics of the totalitarian regime, making up a series of NGO officials, with the objective of making themselves look like the only Cuban civil society.

The inconceivable and unacceptable thing was to send characters well-known as loyal to the regime, pretending to make them pass as members of this civil society. Among them, just to mention the most known, was Dr. Eusebio Leal, the historian of Havana, Miguel Barnet, President of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and Abel Prieto, Adviser to President Raul Castro who, along with many others chosen, lended themselves to serve as bullies in the famous meetings of repudiation against the Cuban opponents, real members of nascent civil society, insulting them and even sometimes, hitting them and preventing them from leaving through the front door of where they were staying, having to remove them safely from the hotel by the kitchen and the backyard of the property.

These acts, absolutely unacceptable, have set a terrible precedent in front of governments of other countries, the international press, who have remained amazed before similar acts of marginality, vulgarity, and lack of respect to the host country.  As my friend Mary would say: “They showed their trashy ways,” confirming with their deplorable attitude what the opposition from within the island has been condemning for years.

As  if these abuses of power were not sufficient, they have tried to monopolize Jose Marti, as if he doesn’t belong equally to all of those born on this battered island.

Translated by: BW

White Flag to the Regime in Havana? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

By: Jeovany Jimenez Vega — Those who advocate the elimination of the mechanisms of political pressure to which the Cuban government remains subject — I mean basically the United States Embargo and the Common European Position — often wield as a fundamental argument the alleged climate of reform undertaken by Raul Castro during the last few years.

One can suppose that this oversized expectation had its roots in the profound and systematic stagnation that characterized the big government of Fidel Castro, because the incorrigible bearded man became the extreme social framework in an immutable and absurd style that would have been impossible for anybody after him to modify in any way without it being perceived as a relief.

But if we accept the obvious premise that since 1959 one government has existed in Cuba — since it has already shown that in essence the mandate of Raul, with all its sweetening, has not been more than the prolonging of the mandate of Fidel — we can assume also, with a solid level of certainty, that the psychology of the regime continues to be exactly the same.

That drives us to a logical question: Would one expect that, in the case of these sanctions being lifted, that this olive-green oligarchy, at last, would grant the long awaited rights Continue reading “White Flag to the Regime in Havana? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega”

provided by United Nations Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, as well as Economic and Cultural Rights, whose ratification and implementation Havana has kept has a pending topic since February 2008?

The optimists would return to the idea of the Raul Castro reforms, but anyone who can make a more thorough approach to these alleged “transformations” will find that very few have actually represented a practical change, one which would have a beneficial and immediate impact in the life of Cubans on the island.

But we work from very good faith — which our counterpart has not deserved — and we accept that among these measures, some represent a more drastic and positive change than do others; among these the freeing up of the right to travel outside the country and the authorization of the purchase and sale of homes between native-born people.

We cannot forget, nevertheless, that the emigration reform has been in force since January 2013, stipulating that some professions are not permitted to travel freely, “…in virtue of the rules intended to preserve the skilled labor force…“; nor can we scorn that it also establishes as “…inadmissible…” for anyone accused by the Cuban government of “Organizing, encouraging, carrying out, or participating in hostile actions against the fundamental economic and social policies of the Cuban state…” to enter the country, “…When reasons of Defense and National Security are so advised…” and that the government considers that they should “… Be prohibited from entering the country, for being declared undesirable or thrown out.”

It is made more evident by the wide margin of maneuverability that this delicious tool for coercion leaves the repressor.

As for the authorization for the sale and purchase of homes, let us remember that the act has just recently foisted a series of annoying regulations of prices, that results in a return to the government’s hand, interfering where it isn’t called for — to remind us that here good things never last too long.

Now, a look at the rest of the package certainly will show definite signs that reveal suspicious edges in these so-called “reforms.”  Because it is really very difficult to accept the sincerity of these measures such as the “authorization” to buy used cars at astronomical prices; or the corrupt focus on the management of cooperatives like the transport ones, for example, that leaves it members (never owners of their means of working) with a useless margin of autonomy; or the imposition on the rest of the small business owners of unfair fees on prices or excessive taxes and the non-existence of a retail market that would supply them with the most basic primary materials; or all the limitations that make ever more evident the failure of the policies undertaken in the agricultural sector, as well as the refusal to liberate the management of the livestock farming sector while slaughtering and/or selling a cow continues being a capital sin that in Cuba one still pays for by up to 20 years in prison.

These are, among others, current evidence and premonitions that cast a shadow over our overall state in the short and long term and seriously put into question the will of the Cuban government.

But still more serious than the immutability of these “trivialities” of an economical nature, is the persistence of the repressive policy that continues fomenting that lethal duet: Communist Party-State Security. It is from the offices of what continues to be the only legally recognized party that the strategy, then executed by the henchmen in the street, is drawn up.

Today in Cuba arbitrary detentions persist and the most abject precariousness of due process guarantees — bastard daughters of the lack of division of powers — continue to perpetrate with impunity the beatings and repudiation rallies against opponents, without any authority protecting them so that they can avoid it.

Hitmen are ordered to stab the opposition leaders and suppress women who don’t bring arms but carry white gladioli in plain view.

They persist in a strong and absolute censorship of dissident thought by means of an absolute monopoly over the means of broadcasting and all types of press, and in addition, they veto any access to the Internet for the people and it is already the 21st century.

Therefore, we can conclude that in Cuba the “changes” that they have produced are insubstantial and skin-deep, purely cosmetic, nothing that heralds a real opening up to anything that sounds remotely like democracy.

If, in the end, this new mediocre generation isn’t capable of offering anything different, it would be more than logical to doubt its future good intentions or its capacity to conceive a scheme for real prosperity, and very much less so if the formula, whatever it is, includes moving away from the known path.

It is completely questionable that these “reforms” reflect a sincere attempt at opening the doors for the Cuban people to the potential that a globalized economy offers today. It is more coherent to think that we are observing delaying maneuvers that only serve to perpetuate the same people always in power.

Should the international community, the Cuban people and the internal opposition decide to offer a vote of confidence and give way: at what point would they offer guarantees that they would later ratify and implement the Human Rights covenants, and would that produce an immediate opening for democracy? Here all logical reasoning leads to the conclusion that this would never happen.

To revoke the sanctions now, would be translated into nothing more than an immediate oxygenation for the regime, without excluding, of course, its repressive mechanisms. It would not become a more efficient Cuban government from the economic point of view but would simply have more resources within its reach to squander and rob, to fatten still more the millionaire accounts of it oligarchs hidden abroad, and even to ennoble its delusions of grandeur.

The beast has already tasted blood and will stop at nothing. An autocratic government like that of the Castros, once it has released its instruments of political pressure and with the tacit approval internationally that this would imply, would never ratify the human right covenants but, on the contrary would probably repress more viciously than ever dissident thinking but from a much more comfortable position than previously.

This octogenarian generation that subjects the destiny of my country to its whims is definitely out of step with the needs of my people. No original protest has yet affected its dusty epaulets. These neo-burgesses will never consider a dignified exit from the poverty and inequality into which they have plunged us, because they know that this would mean an end to their privileges.

If history teaches us anything it is that unwise concessions, or those made at the wrong time, over the long term do more harm than good to the people who mistakenly assume them, and it also teaches us that there are definitely people who never change, and the pleiade that now leads this country according to their testicular fickleness is an excellent example.

The three decade marriage with the former Soviet Union made clear that the Cuban people will never be the final destiny for these riches; and if history proved that at that time why would we assume it would be different now when the indolence and corruption of the government are higher than ever.

To extend this blank check to the totalitarian government in Havana, and at this precise instant when its better half is tottering in Caracas, without the slightest sign of friendship to the internal opposition nor the recognition of our civil rights–as most recent events have pointed in the complete opposite direction–and without even having ratified and implemented the already signed United Nations covenants on civil and political rights as well as those on social and cultural rights, would be a catastrophe in strategic terms for the Cuban people and possibly delay, for many more decades, the coming of democracy for the long-suffering Cuban nation.

Translated by: BW

9 December 2014

 

I also demand / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

*Everyone in Peace /  Raise your hands, unite / our voices /  #YoTambiénExijo /  The 30th at 3:00

By Jeovany Jimenez Vega

For the mere act of having been born a man, to be thinking, already implies in inalienable right to express myself freely without waiting for the permission of another man.

Because my right of freedom of assembly and association are provided for by international agreements recognized by the civilized world, and these agreements are found to be above the decision of the dictators that try to continue enslaving the mind of my people with its out of date demagoguery.

Because the universal right of peaceful protest implies that the streets and plazas that belong to all Cubans and not to that group that tries to set themselves up as the only owner, that group that tries to monopolize the street only for the “revolutionaries.” Continue reading “I also demand / Jeovany Jimenez Vega”

Because if a real revolution is progression, dialectical forward, 180-degree turn forward, then the retrograde breed that from the power hinders the progress of my people today doesn’t deserve anything but to call themselves counterrevolutionaries.

Because more than 50 years of monologue from an undeserved altar already was too much and today it is its turn before the jury of the people of Cuba, to the betrayed, today has arrived, finally, the offended’s turn.

For all this, I also demand:

That the Cuban government ratify and immediately and unconditionally implement the International Covenants on Civil and Political Human Rights and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights that it left pending as of February 2008.

That the Cuban authorities officially recognize the existence and legitimacy of the Cuban opposition, and consequently call democratic elections where the entire spectrum of the plurality of thought of Cuban society is represented.

That an effective separation of powers be established. In this sense, it would be essential that the People’s Supreme court, highest authority of judicial power, stop being under the Council of State, highest authority of executive power, so that the judges of the People’s courts being affiliated with the Communist Party of Cuba would be prohibited, something that would favor their credibility in the impartial exercise of justice.

Let it consequently stop the harassment, persecution or any type of repression of any individual group that tries to express its political position publicly and peacefully, as well as stopping the arbitrary detentions of civic activists that represent a dissident proposal.

That the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban State Security stop organizing the sad infamous acts of repudiation, which are profoundly damaging to the dignity of those that they perpetrate, as well as unequivocally noxious to the public morality; consequently those acts become considered as a body of crime by the existing Penal Code, at which moment will be sanctioned under the law as they have always been: authentic acts of vandalism, that include invasion of the home and/or aggression and danger to persons.

That it establish an appropriate legal framework that guarantees a full freedom of the press and total access and without censorship to the Internet as means for the exercise of our freedom of expression, from which all can, without fear of being punished for it, to propose a better way of changing these ruins that we inherit in that nation that we have, as the first law of the republic, the cuban worship of the full dignity of man.

For all these reasons: #YoTambiénExijo

Translated by: BW

 

The First Intelligent Step / Rebeca Monzo

In these eight years that have passed since Raul Castro was designated by his brother as his successor, to take up the government of the country, this 17th of December, a date of only religious significance for the Cuban people until now, will go down in the history of our island as the most transcendent act of these last 50 years, by the announcement of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the US.

The previous steps taken by him as president, such as the liberalization of travel, selling and buying homes and automobiles, establishing small private businesses and others, are nothing more than the return of usurped rights to citizens, by the same regime that will soon reach fifty-six years in power. Continue reading “The First Intelligent Step / Rebeca Monzo”

Among other fundamental factors that may have influenced the Cuban side, I consider: an economy in crisis without real hopes of improvement; little foreign investment; the exodus of young professionals and the wear and tear and aging of the adult population; among many others that are part of an endless list.  We can add to those the low price of petroleum, that has been arriving generously from Venezuela, and that could fail to turn up at any moment.

Two countries that have joined together to come to an understanding, that necessarily should continue to develop further, to get Cuba out of the economic and social abyss that it finds itself.

 Translated by: BW

19 December 2014

Digressions on “With You, Bread and Onions” / Rebeca Monzo

Among the films presented at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema, which began here on the December 4, is one entitled With You, Bread and Onions. In a recent interview on the television program Afternoon at Home, the director Juan Carlos Cremata commented that he had decided not to submit his film for judging because he does not believe in competitions like this. Nor does he believe there are good films and bad films, nor good and bad actors and directors.

If he does not believe in prizes or in what they represent, then why is he making movies? Why did he accept the “crappy housing” he was given in Nuevo Vedado which, according to “wagging tongues,” was a reward for his film Chamaco? I swear I almost had to be tied to my seat just to get through that dark, sordid tale. At least it was not a theater seat; fortunately I made the sacrifice at home, watching it from my armchair on a rented DVD.

With You, Bread and Onions, which I have not yet seen, is based on a play by Hector Quintero, though I doubt much can be expected of this film. The title recalls an old Cuban expression which gained popularity at a time when onions and bread cost only a few cents. It referred to a romance taking place in extreme poverty.

Saying this today would connote something extremely expensive, what with a pound of bread costing 10 CUP (Cuban pesos) and a half an onion at least 70 CUP, much more than the daily wage of the average worker.

So the meaning of the phrase has changed a lot, as have the social values lost during these last 54 years of survival.

 Translated by: BW

9 December 2014

In Cuba There are Fewer Rural Schools Than in 1958 / Dora Leonor Mesa

The urban centers have been submitted to systematic closure since 1973, although the worse period has been under the Government of Raul Castro.

In 2012, in the Las Tunas town of Majibacoa, the People’s Power delegate Sirley Avila Leon put a face on a grave national problem: the constant reduction of schools on the part of the regime in Havana, due to, among other causes, the demographic situation, and the country’s economic reality.

Ávila León suffered all kinds of pressures when she complained about the closure of the only school in her area. Then, there were few general facts about the dismantling of one of the Castro regime’s propaganda pillars.

Today, the figures speak for themselves, even those that the National Office of Statistics conservatively publishes. According to the study group Foresight Cuba, that investigates and contextualizes the official data, the number of schools increased at the beginning of the 1960s, but decreased rapidly starting in 1973-1974.

From that moment on, there has been a systematic closure of schools, with a great acceleration since the year 2007.  During the course of 2013-2014, there were 9,482 schools functioning, the study indicated, based upon government data.

Primary Schools — as much urban as rural — increased from 7,567 in the period 1958-1959, up to 15,547 in 1974-1975.  “From this moment on, they started to decrease to 6,842 in the period 2013-2014. The government of Raul Castro has accelerated the closure of schools; in the period 2008-2009 there were 8,999 primary schools. “

 The languishing country

The biggest decrease was in the number of rural schools, “Now there are fewer rural schools (4,729) than in 1958, when there were 4,889″  facilities in these areas, added Foresight Cuba.

“It is something that I have seen here where I love, in the municipality of Song-La Maya (Santiago de Cuba)”, assured the ex-university professor Hergues Frandin. “For example, in La Meca, Alto Songo, they closed the school and now the children have to travel up to 8 kilometers on foot, back and forth.”

Dora Leonor Mesa, president of the independent Cuban Association for the Development of Children’s Education, indicated that many rural schools are located in remote areas, with only one or two students.

“There is an important population decrease, that influences the quantity of students of school age.  In these rural areas, different levels study mixed together in the same classroom”, explained Mesa.

Foresight Cuba also remembered that in the 1990-1991 school year, there were 2,70 functioning secondary schools in the country, but since then, the number has decreased to 1,941 in the school year 2008-2009.  After that, somewhere around 500 schools were closed, and in the school year 2013-2014, there were only 1,434 middle schools.

 Amending Fidel Castro

The statistical series reveals that the number of higher education schools increased from 3 to 68 throughout these years.

The 3,150 universities created in the school year 2005-2006, in the context of the propaganda program known as “The Battle of Ideas”, they were also mostly closed during the 2008-2009 academic year. Today, only 122 remain.

“The enrollment in the municipal sites was reunified in central universities, due to the deficit of teachers and material conditions” said Frandin.  In this case, the ex-professor indicated that “It’s a good thing that they have been removed, because it didn’t make sense to have universities in the municipalities”.

In summary, and taking into account that some facilities have been closed because of being in very bad condition, Dora Leonor Mesa pointed out that “Cuba really never had good schools”.

“A good classroom should count on technology and capable professors, as well as friendly conditions for the child. That does not exist in Cuba”, she concludes.

Michel Suarez | Madrid | 15 Oct 2014

Published in http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1413398150_10830.html

Translated by: BW

14 November 2014

Unidentified Coiled Objects / Rebeca Monzo

To the astonishment and concern of patients, one day there appeared in the ceiling of a surgical recovery room in the old Charitable Clinic (now renamed the Miguel Enríquez Hospital by the government in honor of a Chilean doctor killed during the Pinochet dictatorship) a coiled, yellow animal or vegetable entity that was visibly growing and getting fatter. A few days later another one appeared and then another, exhausting the patience of those confined to the room.

After repeated complaints by patients and family members, two hospital employees finally arrived armed with a ladder, brushes and paint. In one fell swoop they knocked the three unidentified coiling objects from the ceiling, quickly applied a few strokes of paint to the area where the objects had appeared and then left.

No one later came to investigate the cause of these apparitions nor did anyone fumigate. Everything was simply covered up with paint.

Just a few years ago I was caring for a friend who had just had surgery and was in recovery in the Institute of Nephrology Surgical Hospital when I suddenly heard a commotion behind the drop ceiling. To my astonishment the regular patients told me with a striking calm and acceptance, “Don’t worry, ma’am. It’s just the cats chasing the rats!”

According to the United Nations, our country is among the top ten healthiest on the planet. This, as well as daily incidents of sanitation problems and lack of maintenance that affect our hospital facilities — the exception being those exclusively for top government leaders, their family members and foreign patients — demonstrate that both the visitors and the workers of this world-renowned institution, whether there as a guest or working permanently in our country, resign themselves to what the government tells them to do and don’t bother to look for anything more than that.

The patients from the same old hospital, are still waiting to be informed about the cause and origin of those unidentified coiled objects.

 Translated by: BW

1 December 2014

Centers of Love Become Victims of Apathy / Rebeca Monzo

Colorful Butterflies kindergarten

“Today day care centers celebrate their fifty-second anniversary. These institutions continue fulfilling and improving their mission so that work in education might be more profound and efficient…”

So begins an article published in Juventud Rebelde on April 10 of this year. It goes on to provide a brief history of how the first such institutions began in our country in the early 1960s. It reminded me of how I first got involved in this work through the direct request from a friend.

For a year I did “volunteer work” by myself in a big space in which they provided me with abundant and varied material, making fabric dolls as well as various articles for the home. These would later be auctioned in a raffle which took place on property owned by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce. The goal was to raise funds for a day care center on the ninth floor of a building on 23rd Street where a lot of women worked.

Finally, a year later they were able to bring the project to fruition as a result of many important donations from companies who had entered into negotiations with the ministry as well as my own modest contribution. I also remember actively participating in the decoration of center’s facility.

What I noticed was how this article ignored some of the real reasons for the deterioration and subsequent closure of many of these centers, whose construction had been such a noble goal.

A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with the director of Colorful Butterflies, a kindergarten next door to my house which my two sons attended. I asked her about the visible neglect of the center, and she told me it was due to low enrollment. After reading the article in Juventud Rebelde, it occurred to me that this was perhaps one of many causes, the main one being the lack of resources provided to the these institutions in addition to neglect and lack of maintenance.

“At the moment there are 45,000 applications pending and 46 institutions in the country have been closed — 40 in the capital alone — all for construction problems.”

This is how it was stated in one of the paragraphs from the article in question. We should, therefore, hold the government responsible for the current state of these buildings, which were built in great haste and in excess by people who had no experience in this kind of work to fulfill the usual quotas, not to mention the failure to provide stable funding for their subsequent maintenance.

Additionally, the ever more apparent lack of personnel qualified to work with children has led parents to take their children to private homes which, until a very short time ago, functioned in a kind of clandestine limbo. There is an ever increasing number of self-employed workers who take up this work now that they have a license to do it.

In the face of the importance and magnitude of the problem, since families don’t have sufficient resources to leave their children in private day care, due to poor salaries and not possessing another type of stable source of income, the government has implemented a new type of plan: “Educate your child”, that is being developed in some communities, offering guidance to the family to stimulate and adequately look after the little one, with the objective of achieving integral development and preparation for the start of the child’s school life.  We hope that this plan, like many other before it, will not languish on the road. Ladies and Gentlemen, love must be attended to!

Translated by: Unknown, BW

22 April 2013

New Emigration Measures / Aimee Cabrera #Cuba

DSC00104
By Aimée Cabrera

New emigration measures take effect on the 14th of January of this year.  Passports can be requested at Identity Card and Population Registration Offices, of Immigration and Immigration Matters; also from the Ministry of the Interior of the provinces of Artemisa, Mayabeque, and the municipality of the Isle of Youth.  There are 195 office in the entire country.

Now when you have to go to change or get the identity card, you have to get into a line of a thousand hells, they complicate everything, never doing anything so that “the lower ones feel attended” — as someone from the capital municipality of Plaza noted.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security carries out, together with the institutions of the State central administration, the process of defining which citizens are subject to the regulations  established in the Decree 306/12, in which one can upgrade passports without the holder being present.

Minors under 18 years of age and disabled will be able to upgrade passports without a fee, in accordance with Resolution 43 of the Ministry of the Interior.  The parents and legal representatives also have to show the identity card of the minor, and an authorization formalized before a notary public.

If one or both parents, or the legal representatives are outside of the country the formalized authorization is presented before a corresponding consular officer; if one of the parents has passed away, the death certificate must be shown, as must the judicial resolution when one of them does not have parental authority or it has been suspended.

The increase in requests for passports for the desire to flee the country, where no one can adequately prosper, is remarkable. While this measure constitutes an opening, it is not for all.  Cubans that belong to illegal groups or from the opposition continue waiting to be able to emigrate and admitting the obstacles imposed by the offices that provide these services.

“I don’t want to stay, I want to travel where I desire and return to my homeland, for people that want the same as me, I don’t see anything in writing, nothing more than negative”, expressed a worker in the tourist sector.

 Translated by: BW

January 9 2013

Cubans Throughout the World / Rebeca Monzo #Cuba

Upon arriving in this corner of France and reuniting with my family, whom I had not seen for seven years, I had the great pleasure of receiving a visit from the son of a very dear friend, whom I had first seen when he was born. Later on, as you might imagine, the subject of the far-off homeland came up, as well as the problems and frustrations that come with abandoning, almost against your will, the place where you were born. This is his case.

This Cuban is not resigned to remaining in forced exile. Life has played him some dirty tricks, so he is undocumented here. They cannot repatriate him, as he would like, because Cuban authorities repeatedly refuse him entry. The last time he was in Cuba, he remained in prison for four months for refusing to leave the country.

This man, who is still young, has two names and a head, so he never stops thinking about the misery to which his homeland is subjected. He has dedicated his free time — which unfortunately is all that he can do since he does not have papers and can work only sporadically — to investigating Cuban issues in-depth.

I was truly impressed when he showed me photos, articles and a wealth of details, to which we Cubans on the island do not have access, regarding the strange accident in which Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed.

For this reason I am uploading the video that my friend provided for your consideration.

Site manager’s note: This video is not subtitled but here is a summary of the contents: The person speaking, a friend of Rebeca’s, is Israel Alejandro Cabezas González. He has put together the evidence he shows in the video, with regards to the death of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in a car crash. He believes that the photo of the car — driven by the Spaniard Carromero — was “fixed,” that is altered, and as a point of comparison he offers a photo that appeared in the Spanish press. He says that the official report of the crash was prepared to match the “fixed” photos.

Using Google maps he shows where the crash occurred, and the little collection of houses located 2 km before the crash. He believes that the “operation” was planned there and that the “supposed ambulances” were already waiting there.

The farmer speaking in he video says he was biking from the nearby town to the rice fields where he works, the entrance to which is directly across from the crash site. While he was biking a car passed him and he saw the dust cloud, based on which Alejandro estimates he’s about 1 km (half a mile) from the crash. By the time of the crash he was just meters away and arrived there in 2 to 3 minutes. He said people were already there taking each of the 4 men out of the car.

The person speaking in English is Jan Modig, the Swede who was in the car. He says, “The second memory I have is that I found myself in some sort of ambulance,” which means it wasn’t an ambulance… it was ‘sort of an ambulance’. Alejandro also says the foreigners were saying “why did you do this to us?” and he believes it was a huge premeditated operation to kill them.

He says they took “the Swede” and Carromero (the Spaniard who was driving) away separately and they didn’t know what happened to Oswaldo Paya. Paya was sitting where he received the direct impact from the crash, but that he served as a sort of ‘airbag’ for Harold Cepero who ultimately also died. Alejandro says that since they were being hit from behind everyone was wearing their seatbelts [the official version is that they were not] and that Harold was alive after the crash; he had a very small fracture of the femur.

When they arrived at the hospital — Alejandro goes on  to say — State Security kicked the regular doctors out of the hospital and brought in “G2” military doctors, and that he hopes Cepero’s body was not cremated because he did not die of natural causes.

Alejandro’s personal version of what happened was that somebody who was G2 (State Security) infiltrated Carromero and Modig’s visit and told G2 where they were going. G2 followed them from Havana and also there were more G2 agents waiting for them in the collection of houses, where everything was prepared, including the ambulances and doctors.

Translated and video summary by Unstated and BW and Chabeli

January 4 2013

The Blue Card / Rebeca Monzo

There is not much that is new in the new immigration law. Nonetheless, it has raised expectations among a wide swath of the population: retirees, homemakers, students who have not gotten past the ninth grade, the unemployed and the elderly, to cite a few.

In one paragraph, the much-publicized law mentions that medical technicians are also subject to the burden of having to wait three years from the date of a passport request or the extension of an existing passport without regard for the time they have been out of the workforce. This measure not only discourages the prospects for travel, but—and to me this is the greater danger—it also discourages the desire of people to continue with their studies. Once they have completed the ninth grade, many abandon the classroom for good.

This has been going on for many years with respect to university careers. Many quit before graduating, or simply never begin their studies in the hope of being able to travel someday. The same thing is happening is less specialized fields of study. This is leading and will continue to lead to an even greater lowering of the country’s educational and technical standards, which have already been significantly eroded.

Logically speaking, it remains to be seen whether or not those fortunate enough to be granted a long-awaited passport will be approved for a visa by the countries they hope to visit. In this way the Cuban government, like Pontius Pilate, can wash its hands of the matter, placing the blame on others as usual.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake. This new emigration law seems more like a new, more-sophisticated Mariel, but one that is organized and controlled by the state.

Translated by BW and Unstated

October 25 2012

1, 2, 3, 4… The Census! / Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado

Logo downloaded from “radiorebelde.cu”

The Antillean archipelago’s authorities say that “In Cuba, we all count”, and that’s why from the 15th to the 24th of September all of the homes of the country will be visited to gather census information. I understand that the census is a statistical operation that should be carried out every 10 years and that it is important for determining, among other things, the number of people who make up a group or state. Also,it is a primary source for obtaining other basic social, economic, and demographic data about a society. But I ask myself, who accounts for the Cuban emigrants dispersed throughout the world that are part of our nation?

In recent days, an “information supplement” on the Population and Housing Census, published by the National Office for Statistics and Information, appeared under my door. It explains to citizens what the “mission” of the census is and shows the questionnaires that the data collectors, called enumerators, will fill out. Among the notable items is question 16, which asks how many land lines and mobile phones there are in a residence. As the only telephone company that provides service to all Cubans living on the archipelago, doesn’t ETECSA, which also happens to be state-owned,have these figures?

In this census task, like in the two previous ones carried out by the government,there will be inquiries regarding the condition of the houses and their construction and general characteristics.I hope this will result in some benefits for society! Because there is no use knowing, for example, the serious problems existing in the houses and in their maintenance(that is already well-known and we have been putting up with them for years, because the necessary resources have not been assigned to them), if a sustained constructive assistance is not designated and assigned to the renovation and rehabilitation of the impoverished housing inventory in Cuba.

I remember the first time the government carried out that statistical task.It was in the 70s, when they had more than a decade in power.It’s been ten years since the last census and the results were not made known to the population, let alone did they produce any benefits or improvements in the average Cuban’s life. Development and efficiency are not achieved with state inquiries, but with the political will of governments, with real motivations for the citizens and incentives in all spheres of society. That should be a natural and systematic practice, attentive to the law and always directed to the benefit of everyone, not just a group. Modernity is not reached just with information or by decree.

It is good to keep control of our inputs and outputs, whether they be material or intangible, individual or collective. Every demographic investigation relating to the totality of people by province, municipality, city or different urban and rural areas — by sex and age, average educational level, marital status, active working population, etc. — is important for the development of government policies. On this occasion, they mix the population census with “the short-term and medium-term economic and social plans especially for the appropriate guidelines for the Party’s and the Revolution’s economic and social policies“. This opportunistic mixture conjures up in my mind, like an animated cartoon, a leader who without planning lies down on the bottom of his political boat to try to patch or plug the holes in the bottom with his body. Because he is being left without extremities…

For a militarized society, deformed by this government in the degrading tradition of having to have even one’s underwear counted when one is going to emigrate, to have “regulations” about what one should eat or wear, to have someone decide what one should read, to “be transported” generally according to the needs and interests of the state, to be watched by those in charge of one’s block or by the police, to have someone predetermine what radio stations one should listen to and what TV channel one should watch, whom one should disregard and whom one should believe, in the end produces a population sunk in a sustainable defenselessness and indolence, unaware of its rights, and as a result, easier to subdue and direct.

So let’s count: 1, 2, 3 at the dictatorship’s “conga-line pace”*, for whose manipulations and campaigns to stay in power indefinitely, but not for the exercise of our fundamental freedoms, “in Cuba, we all count”.

*Translator’s note: The original Spanish is a quote from an old Cuban song.

Translated by: BW, Espirituana

11 September 2012

Accessing the Internet in Cuban Churches / Cuban Legal Advisor, Yaremis Flores

By Lic. Yarmis Flores

Liu, reader of this blog, asked the Office if Cuban churches one can have access to the internet. Since 1996, the Cuban government, has been clear about its policy with respect to full access to internet services, in Decree 209 of the Council of Ministers, “Access from the Republic of Cuba to Information Networks of Global Reach.”

The island’s government established its proposal to guarantee full access to the Internet, but in a regulated form and acting in the national interests, giving priority to the connection of people in the judiciary and the institutions of the most relevance to the life and development of the country.

All the users with access to the internet on the island, be they Cubans or foreign residents in Cuba, need authorization from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).

In addition, the IP address has to be registered (the only addressing protocol of the Internet, assigned to each machine or device found on the network) and they are controlled by the Agency of Control and Supervision of the MIC. Penalties are imposed on those who don’t comply with this requirement, like the removal of the license to be an Internet user.

It is not recommended to access the Internetsecretly, because if the authorities suspect some irregularity in a church or religious group, an order is not required to carry out a search, because Article 217 of the Law of Legal Procedure establishes that “To enter and search a temple or other place intended for a religious group, handing a messageto the attention of theperson in charge is all that is required.”

Translated by: BW

August 28 2012