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

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

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

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

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

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