Parental Rights and Other Powers / Cuban Law Association

Alberto Mendez Castelló (work appeared in the June 1, 2012, cubanet.org)

A violation of the Municipal Department of Education here, committed to the timetable for the publication of examination results of incoming students to university, reveals that the Ministry of Higher Education would restrict parental authority.

For several months across the island, Cuban families faced a stressful career stage: preparing young high school graduates for university entrance.

These past few months, students, teachers and family had to strive to correct the  failures accumulated during years of a poor education system.

In Cuba it is not uncommon to find university graduates–whether doctors or lawyers–with poor speech, who can not write, or do so with glaring spelling mistakes. Many barely know the history of their country.

To mitigate the pandemonium, forged in a social setting where the family was estranged from its original role with regards to school performance borders on idiocy; the high school graduates must pass exams in mathematics, Spanish and history before entering the university.

Since the students or their parents are entitled to complain about unsatisfactory grades–a student was given grade of zero when in fact they had scored 90 points–the national timetable for the information of test results announced in the case of History is as follows:

— Publication of the results of complaints: May 25th, at 9 am in senior high schools.

— Sample review: May 26th, 9 am to 2 pm at the universities.

But the municipal department of education in Puerto Padre violated that schedule. All day the 25th teachers, parents and students waited for a response to their claims… that never came.

According to official sources, it was at 2:47 pm on Friday, May 25th, when the city official in charge of this task presented himself at the university for the results of the claims.

At 9 am on Saturday the 26th, a family in this eastern town (Puerto Padre), was hastily notified to appear just when they should have been there, at the University of Las Tunas.

A quick trip can not be made by bus, but in general cargo trucks adapted to carry passengers, like cattle for the slaughter.

A father and his 17-year-old son had to pay 40 pesos to get one of these vans from Puerto Padre to Las Tunas. If they had a rental car, the price would amount to 200 pesos, that is, about half the average monthly salary in Cuba.

But at the University of Las Tunas they were waiting for a disheartening response.

“Sorry Dad, but only the student can participate in the review of his exam,” they were told, friendly but firmly, by the advisor of the Rector in charge of the Revenue Commission, protected by an ordinance issued in January 2012 by the then Minister of Higher Education, today, vice president of the nation, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Under Article 38 of the Constitution, parents have the duty to assist their children in the defense of their legitimate interests and the realisation of their just aspirations.

Does the review of a test that is critical to get into the university not qualify as a legitimate and just aspiration?

In Cuba the children reach adulthood at age 18 or by having been “emancipated” of parental rights by marriage.

In accordance with Article 85.5 of the Family Code, parental authority–that is, the authority of parents over their children of unemancipated minors–includes representing them in all legal acts and transactions in which they have a timely interest and exercise oppotunities, and the actions in which they are entitled to defend their interests and assets.

Is it not a parent’s interest to defend the correct classification of a test that his child can gain or lose entrance to a university and thus, his future?

Too bad that a right so sacred to some, is insignificant to others. Perhaps this is because for too many years they separated the children from their parents. Or because they still put a gun in the hands of the boys before they can shave.

Maybe restricting the parental authority of a father in Cuba is a harmless act, if ultimately the Constitution of the Republic Article 43 says that, without distinction, citizens living in any sector, zone or area of cities or staying in any hotel, where segregation is swilling that has undergone an entire nation at the hands of a socialist government telling, the benefits of the country reserved for himself and for the benefit of foreigners.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

June 4 2012

THE PRICE OF RECOVERING CELEBRATIONS / Mario Barroso

In my previous post, “Recovered Celebrations,” I alluded to the concessions that the Cuban regime has granted to the Catholic church in regards to Christmas and Good Friday. Although the latter has been recognized and adopted by Catholics, it also serves as a way for many Christians throughout the world to remember Christ’s suffering on Calvary as he made his way along the Via Dolorosa to his death on the cross. I personally celebrate Christ’s birth as well as his death and resurrection in the firm belief that thee three events are a sign of our faith and, of course, of the Messiah’s mission and ministry among men.

I also believe that each concession the dictatorship makes to insure its own survival – though undoubtedly for the church they amount to “crumbs” – is a sign of its growing and progressive deterioration, and its striking inability to suppress topics that in previous decades it controlled, and over which it exercised its “absolute” and arbitrary power. In my previous article, however, I made it very clear that my real objective was specifically to show that, in other areas, Cuban leaders still refrain from addressing issues such as the opening or reopening of religious schools, or allowing radio and television programming. Nor does it address the issues of genuine freedom of assembly, freedom of religious belief, or respect for the autonomy of different religious groups by refrainng from openly and blatantly interfering in these churches’ internal affairs and manipulating the leaderships of these organizations.

The Cuban government has created a new form of penetration and manipulation – something which Pastor Mario Félix has called “the arm of death” – in which church-state relations appear to go from good to better. Granting small requests, allowing a little slack in the rope, and offering perks and privileges gives the regime a bit of the vital oxygen it needs to survive. As I have said, it guarantees a more comfortable control over the church. Thus, the construction and repair of sanctuaries, permits to build new churches, facilities for the acquisition of means of transport, exit permits for church leaders and special visas for foreigners as well as other tactics are part of a “respectful blackmail” in which governmental power is exercised over ecclesiastical power. This fateful embrace favors the dictators and tarnishes the image of Christ in the haggard face of the Cuban Church.

I am sure that these celebrations, which the religious public can once again enjoy, are, I repeat, a sign of the the current weakness of the regime, and not of its understanding and affection for Christianity. It felt obliged to make concessions, which themselves required a high degree of appeasement and obsequiousness on the part of the country’s Catholic hierarchy. We saw this quite clearly in the unfortunate remarks by Cardinal Jaime Ortega during his trip to the United States in reference to the dissidents who occupied churches in the days prior to the visit by Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal made use of the petty, offensive and always dismissive language of the regime. This made me think that perhaps he had recently been receiving lessons and had become an enthusiastic student. Such is the price of holidays.

I only hope that the true church, the authentic flock recognized by the Good Shepherd, flees from the clutches feigning an embrace in order to choke her to death. We must begin to relinquish all material and worldly interests, and enunciate the truth in our daily discourse, denouncing the sad state of Cuban reality, without ambiguity or artifice. We must call out by name the sin of those who have misgoverned us for many decades now. We must also denounce “the great whores” who sit beside the powerful of this world (and country) and trade their divine legacy for the superfluous profits of this life. The pact between the country’s tyrannical monarchs and their new sychophants will not endure because God will not allow any malignant force to continue adversely affecting and subjugating our nation, and especially its children. This I declare without any fear and with complete certainty.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty and Anonymous

April 27 2012

CELEBRATIONS RECOVERED / Yoaxis Marcheco Suárez

By: YOAXIS MARCHECO SUÁREZ

I acknowledge that the Catholic Church through its pontificate has achieved in recent years some privileges that have benefited not only its faithful, but all Cuban Christians and the whole people in general. First by the actions of Pope John Paul II, who asked the government authorities to allow December 25th to be a holiday or festival,  as this is one of the most important dates in Christianity marking the nativity or the birth of Christ. The request was granted and after decades of passing unnoticed by the Cuban society, a date that Western culture as a whole had adopted as its own, the 25th December became a day of rest for believers and nonbelievers in Cuba.

After many Christmases in the dark, under the explicit prohibitions of the Communist government and the metaphorical strafing of the Christmas tree and the legendary Santa Claus, “for being symbols of consumerism and the capitalist and bourgeois demagoguery,” to the point where Santa was almost declared the most bourgeois of all the bourgeois,they began to resume the festivities.

The trees now shine with their bundles of colorful garlands and lights, in public places, markets, and homes, and in the shops and especially in the places where things are sold in hard-currency, elevated in this time of hospitality, as if after having been silenced for so long, not even the government takes advantage of it from an economic standpoint.

Everyone enjoys themselves or at least tries to, although the vast majority lack the financial resources to buy anything at the super high prices in the hard currency markets, and many have to construct their trees from dry branches because it is impossible to acquire one.

But the good news is that Christmas came out of hiding in the temples and has been taken by assault by all Cubans. I suggest that it is important that the church take advantage of this to remind people over and over of the true meaning of this festival and its only star, God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

A new milestone achieved, again as part of a papal visit to Cuba, this time of Benedict XVI, who explicitly requested from the Cuban political hierarchies that they cede Good Friday as a holiday.

During Holy Week or the Passion we commemorate other relevant events of greater significance for Christianity, the death and resurrection of the Savior, two moments that mark our faith and that give us hope for the future, because the death of Jesus on the cross at cruel Golgotha has redeemed us from sin and guilt before God, and his resurrection, has given us once and for all, the victory over Satan and death by ensuring those who have placed their confidence in Christ, will experience after earthly death a future life which will last forever.

This Friday was the first Passion, at least since 1959, officially declared as a holiday and I think it has been welcomed by the majority, whether or not they are Catholics.

Although the national recognition of these two celebrations so important for the churches (Catholic or Protestant) is certainly an achievement there are still many others we have been unable to reclaim and that the Communist leaders do not seem very disposed to cede to us.

Pope Benedict XVI touched on points of great importance such as allowing the church to return to the radio (and why not TV), and its right to teach in its own schools, not just in theological seminaries for the formation of young leaders and spiritual guides, but also to offer our children a Christian education for the new generations of leaders who will arise.

As the Pope said, this is a right of the church, and I would argue not only of the Roman Catholic Church but of all other churches in Cuba. The teaching in public schools does not allow believers to share their ideas in the classroom, nor to publicly carry Bibles, nor evangelical literature or tracts.

Children and young Christians have only the space offered by the churches on Sundays for worship and Biblical studies to learn the Gospel and the ethics and norms that emanate from it, and of course the guidance offered by their family if it is Christian.

State education is marked by atheism and taught as a fundamental and almost obligatory ideology, the ideas of Marxism through the lens of Castro.

It is important to insist on the return of the former church schools where, in addition to science and letters the education was imparted based on the principals of our faith.

Hopefully this will be achieved in the not too distant future, and not only for Catholics, but in the same way that the papal influence has been effective on two occasions in recovering Christmas and Easter to the benefit of all.

The freeing up of spaces to teach our faith benefits all the believers in the country, without distinction, and the whole society in turn.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty and others

April 24 2012

My Opinion / Yoaxis Marcheco Suárez

Note: This post is from March 2012, in advance of the Pope’s visit to Cuba

The topic most discussed these days with regard to the Cuban reality is the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The official press has made clear its predictions, of course favorable to the regime, and the head of the Roman Catholic Church comes as a guest, not only of the faithful, but also the government.

On the other hand, the internal and external opposition also speculates, and their hopes center on the coming of the Catholic leader to resolve, if not all, at least some of of the ills battering the country. The star of the expected visit has been somewhat lost in the moment when thirteen opponents occupying a Catholic church decided to stay, with the objective of bringing their demands and claims to Benedict XVI.

This event captured the attention of many and the occupiers received the support of some and the unfavorable criticism of others. In the end they failed in their intention because the church leadership sought the support of the “authorities” and they managed to remove the entrenched group of opponents from within the Basilica of Havana.

I do not want to speculate about an event that has not happened yet,but the trajectory so car gives us an idea about what the Papal visit will consist of. As an evangelical believer and as a Cuban, I don’t give much weight to what the Pope can resolve for us, as I don’t believe in his infallibility and in observing the Cuban Catholic Church I see that it has been colluding with the regime in a lamentable way.

I also think that Benedict XVI is not just a religious leader, he also carries the weight of a State on his shoulders, which he must govern, as he is also a political boss and greatly concerned with political issues.

In a scenario where we are building up, not dividing, the voices against the power of the Castros, this spiritual and political representative cannot hear those who dissent and cannot value their complaints and petitions for him to intercede for them before the Cuban rulers, making clear their disadvantageous position.

Perhaps this same future scenario, the Pope meeting with “his church” and his Cuban political peers, making the case to omit the dissidents is the mark that divides those thirteen people stationed in the Catholic church, thinking that the idea would carry their voices in some way to the visitor, especially because the Catholic church has adopted the position of mediator between dissidents and rulers on other occasions.

Although I am not a Catholic nor a member of any political party, I don’t judge the actions of these dissidents, their way of working solely to seek communication with the Pope in this peaceful way, so I think the dissident voices raised against this action, although within their rights, had to have done more damage to the opposition, than the attitude adopted by the thirteen or the general discord around the event.

When we refer to the Roman Catholic Church, we can not try to free it from political developments in any country where it is located, whether for good or or ill of the people, it has always been present in political scenarios, and we must be honest, not always in favor of the disadvantaged, but the powerful.

An example of this in the past it was Pope Pius XII, known as Hitler’s Pope, the latter said that his negotiations with Pius XII had created an atmosphere of deep trust between them, while the Pope trivialized the fascist formula.

There is no denying the heroic and worthy voices that have come from the bosom of this church, such as Monsignor Romero, true to the poor and dispossessed in our country and of Monsignor Pedro Claro Meurice Estiu, whose historical intervention marked the visit previous papal, that of John Paul II, to bring to light the true burden of the Cuban people place the blame for the misgovernment of the country in the right place.

Apparently the current Cuban church has signed some sort of concordat with the dictators, we are simply waiting to see what Benedict XVI does, but I repeat, with no high hopes.

Meanwhile and although I support the diversity and full democracy, the only ingredients needed in the formula for freedom, I think the opposition should show the world and Cubans the unity we all want for the future of the country, that unity that consolidates us as people and makes us strong, to be one in the midst of diversity is the greatest achievement that both those who live in exile and those of us on the Island can achieve.

The solution of our destiny is not in the hands of the Pope, but in our own, and it s in whom I have greater expectations and in God whom I do believe to be infallible.

Let us not judge one another, let us not adopt opinions or criticism that can then lead to unhealthy division or discrepancies. In the end, and I again clarify that this is my personal opinion, there is no differences between these thirteen opponents and other groups, although they use the space for Catholic churches to pray for freedom for political prisoners, it does not make them less political. The intention of these people was simply to be heard, but ultimately their efforts did not bear fruit.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty and others

March 22 2012

The Harvest of 2012 or the Last Call / Dimas Castellano

“It seems that every year is the first harvest the country has ever done. Every year we start fresh, even though we’ve been producing sugar for more than 200 years. If we are talking about the need for change, the first thing we have to change is the routine.” So begins, “Attacking the problems and not waiting for the autopsy,” a report by Sheyla Delgado Guerra, published on Monday, May 30th, in the newspaper, Granma.

The Guidelines of Economic and Social Policy, adopted at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party in April last year, set out among the central tasks, to increase the production of sugar and the derivatives of the cane, a branch of the economy where it is assumed Cuba has long experience. However, the results of the 2011-2012 harvest confirmed the failure of that purpose.

The harvest, programmed to produce 1.45 million tons of sugar (a figure that was produced in the late nineteenth century), finish milling on April 30th. There was enough sugar cane and 98% resources needed to produce the programmed amount of sugar but, according to Sheyla, the same problems occurred as in previous years: industrial breakdowns, operational disruptions, difficulties in the supply of cane, unstable grindings, aging of the raw material, poor quality of repairs of agricultural machinery, late harvesting, poor technical skills of staff and poor utilization of potential capacity. As a result the milling did not end on the date set by central planning, not was the programmed figure for tons of sugar achieved.

This was confirmed at the meeting to review the results, held 29 days after all the plants should have completed the milling. Although as in previous years, the amount of sugar produced has not been published, in the meeting it was admitted that the setbacks of this season were higher than results obtained. According to Sheyla’s report, the cane not ground because of the late harvest in 21 of the 46 centers participating, together with the low capacity utilization and failure of planned efficiency are among the main causes of the terrible result.

This time, although all the cane needed was grown, to the point where they could have crushed more than the planned amount, the production of sugar fell short again. In the industrial phase only 60% the capacity is used, a figure even lower than the harvest of 2010-2011, and of course lower than was planned for this crop. While there was a modest over-fulfillment in the production of white sugar, in terms of direct target it barely reached 8%. In addition, seven of the mills which after being inactive for several years, produced 54% of their potential, which is why some 27,500 tons of sugar was not produced.

To this is added the low yields due to weather conditions in May, for 29 days after the scheduled closing several plants were still milling in the rainy season, which accentuates the sugar decline, which is nothing new, the same thing having gone on more than two decades; the 1998-1999 harvest could not exceed 3.8 million tons of sugar, a figure lower than that produced in 1920, when it exceeded 4 million tons.

The failure is higher if one considers that the country has dozens of schools and agricultural research centers throughout the country, which have graduated thousands of engineers and technicians in these fields, and that this time, from the beginning of the harvest, nearly all the resources were available to fulfill the plan, all of which indicates we should look elsewhere for the source of the failures.

Reforms related to sugar production, like the rest of those that have been implemented, do not have the depth required, nor do they move at the speed that the situation demands. Clearly, the lack of interest of the producers — the workers because of low wages and the proprietors because of the constraints imposed on them — is present in the results of the current harvest as in the previous failures.

The essence of the problem is that the reforms introduced by the Cuban government start life subordinated to the ideology and the interests of power, so the proposals therefore perversely preserve an obsolete model that has consistently proven to be nonviable.

Adverse outcomes of central planning, manifested in the 2011-2012 harvest, should be the last call, which will definitely draw attention to the aspects that the reforms have ignored so far. I am referring to the urgent need for profound changes to include, once and for all, the ownership structure. Since half a century seems sufficient to indicate the gap between managers and owners, between command and control and employee participation, aspects which in turn imply reforms in the area of rights and freedoms, to validate the previous.

It would be useful to proceed with these changes and not continue pointing fingers at the “deadbeats” as one of the senior officials did when he appeared on May 29 on Cuban television. Having participated in the meeting to review the harvest, he said, “I’ve told you, they have to change,” something that has become the custom year after year.

Posted in June in Diario de Cuba.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

June 11 2012

AFTER THE VISIT OF THE POPE TO CUBA, WHAT? / IntraMuros

AFTER THE VISIT OF THE POPE TO CUBA, WHAT?

You are and must be the sovereigns of your own personal and national history.” (John Paul II, Cuba 1998)

The two visits of the Popes of the Catholic Church, are milestones that show the step forward of Cuban civil society. Cuba has changed, not only and not always for the worse. Our opinion is that between the two apostolic visits there is a process that progresses from awakening of many in the Cuban civil society toward adulthood citizenship, still in development.

Fourteen years are sufficient to feel the difference in the composition of Cuban society and the interrelation of forces between the different social actors. The Cuban State has gained the least lasting thing. The Church has gained, short-term, part of what is proper for her.But the rest of the Cuban civil society is the one that has won: yes, lost because there is some frustration due to the handling of state movements and gestures of the visit; but wins because it not to be recognized as a partner, allows you to advance in the awakening citizen, without waiting for foreign saviours. And this is what most lasts, mature and is beneficial to the nation, in the mid and long term. Although it hurts.
More than complaints without remedy, we intend to analyze other aspects of this visit from four of its multiple facets: Cuba in the showcase; Gestures of the Pope to Cuba; Messages of the Pope to Cuba; and legacy of his visit.

Cuba in the showcase

The country the Pope visits is placed in the centre of the attention of all social media, which is always positive. To achieve such transparency, the world has an extraordinary opportunity to experience firsthand the reality facing the Cuban people, the relationships of domination that the authorities have established with their own citizens, as well as the different methods that the Government uses, the opposition, and the rest of the Cuban civil society. To know what happens really, even for a few days, is a sample button which always leaves fruits of truthfulness on the nation observed.

The gestures of the Pope

The successor of St. Peter, on the one hand has made gestures of much closeness and admiration for Cuba, its cultural and religious heritage, by its founding fathers mentioned several times, among others. One of these symbolic positive gestures was to raise the devotion to the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, the most eminent range of expression of universal Catholic piety, presenting her with the Golden Rose. Another gesture was the possibility for people of the diaspora and exile, members of the only Cuban nation, to participate in the celebrations. However, the organizers of the papal visit, could not find time for, not only for a courtesy visit to the head of State – absolutely normal and noticeable in all the countries that the Pope visits – but also for other encounters with people who no longer hold any public office. This could be understood by its symbolic nature, although not necessary, if at the same time, the Pope had greeted briefly some representatives of the Cuban civil society: the other part of the nation without which there would be neither unity nor inclusion nor national reconciliation. The Cuban Church, that will be as the servant in the morning that the same Pope gives a preview of in his messages, perhaps regrets, in time, thisexclusionaryomission, that looks more to the short term than to the medium and long journey of Cuba in relation to the people and excluded groups who must necessarily be part of the morning in our country. The Church, expert in humanity and with its two thousand year experience, almost always looks further and highest taking in all the time to come. It was a pity that on this occasion it was not so as well. In this aspect it seems that the balance is negative. Hopefully that will be righted, in the daily life of the Church’s relations with the rest of civil society, the best way possible for all.

The message of the Pope and his legacy

We believe that in this aspect the balance sheet is, perhaps, the most positive, compared with the previous issues. For both the present and in the long perspective for the future. The messages from the Pope have pulled forward, have looked high and far. They have left a rich legacy, concrete and inclusive. I hope that no Cuban overlooks this theological legacy of height, maximum humanist depth, and especially of a great love for Cuba and to all Cubans without exclusion. May God who grants serenity to our spirits, no Cuban from here or from outside, obsessed by what the Pope himself called ’irremovable or unilateral positions’, allow us to study and apply these messages a deep ethical, civic and spiritual way.

Although in this number we publish entirely all the official texts that the Pope Benedict XVI pronounced in Cuba so that everyone could extract of them what seems best to him, over a few days, so as not to leave ourselves feeling despondent, we offer the first and immediate selection of these texts, to facilitate the study of the contribution that the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church has suggested to us with great respect and all its moral authority. At the same time we have wanted to compare them with the expectations of many people in Cuba, some of them published in our Leading article 24 corresponding to January – February, 2012. That is the same Pontiff who speaks with our readership:

The Pope recognizes in his heart the suffering and the just aspirations of the Cuban people

“I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they are found, their sufferings and joys, concerns and desires more noble, and especially of young people and the elderly, adolescents and children, patients and workers, of prisoners and their families, as well as poor and needy.” (Greeting upon arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport)

Cuba is already looking to tomorrow, from the patrimony of the heritage of the homeland
“I’m convinced that Cuba, in this particularly important moment in its history, is looking ahead to tomorrow, and it strives to renew and widen its horizons…to what will cooperate this immense heritage of values…that have been shaping its most genuine identity, and that are sculpted on the work and life of many illustrious Fathers of the homeland such as the blessed Jose Olallo and Valdés, the Servant of God Félix Varela or the hero Jose Marti. ” (Greeting upon arrival at the Airport Antonio Maceo)

This message satisfies the expectations of many Cubans that we were outlining in number 8, of the Leading article 24: The opening to the world strengthens the cultural identity and the national sovereignty.

Shortcuts in search of the truth

Warning of the traps and recesses into which fall all seekers of truth, the Pope lists us some of them: “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8,32). The truth is a longing of the human being, and find it always involves an exercise of genuine freedom. Many, however, prefer the shortcuts and try to avoid this task. Some, like Pontius Pilate, satirize the possibility of being able to know the truth (cf. Jn 18, 38), proclaiming the inability of a man to achieve it or denying that there is a truth for all. This attitude, as in the case of skepticism and relativism, produces a change in the heart, making them cold, hesitant, distant from each other and locked into themselves. People who wash their hands as the Roman Governor of the story and leave the water running, without making a commitment. On the other hand, there are others who interpret badly this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism, locking in ’the truth’ and trying to impose it on others. They are like those stubborn lawyers, see Jesus beaten and bloody, crying angry: “Crucify him!” (Cf. Jn. 19, 6)’. (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

Even God respects and needs the supreme gift of freedom.

This message is, perhaps, the most far-reaching theological and humanistic, which could serve as a solid foundation for its anthropological, social, political or economic, and even religious consequences: ’God not only respects the human freedom, but seems to need it.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

Propose, not impose, even in the face of rejection and the cross.

“Christianity, to highlight the values that underpin ethics, does not impose, but proposes that the invitation of Christ to know the truth that makes us free. The believer is called to offer it to his contemporaries… even before the grim harbinger of the rejection and the cross.” (Homily at the Mass at the Plaa Cívica José Martí of Havana)

If we want to achieve unity in diversity: look for a minimum of ethics that will bring us closer

Every human being has to inquire into the truth and opt for it when he finds it, even at the risk of dealing with sacrifices. In addition, the truth about the man is an inescapable desire to achieve freedom, because in it we discovered the foundations of ethics with which everyone can confront, and containing clear and precise formulations on life and death, the duties and rights, marriage, the family and society, in short, on the inviolable dignity of the human being. This ethical heritage is what can bring to all cultures, peoples and religions, the authorities and the citizens, and citizens, believers in Christ with those who do not believe in him.” (Homily at the Mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

This message matches the expectations of numerous compatriots, reflected in number 4, of our Leading article 24, on the contribution that the teachings of the Pope could give: The reconstruction of the fabric of the sovereign civil society. The search of ethics, with a common minimum denominator, which it includes to all in the national community of life, is and it can be the firmest foundation to reconstruct the relations between the citizens and the authorities, which must be to the service of the civil society and not the contrary.

That Cuba is the home of all, without exclusion of God or of men

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1, 14). The expression “became flesh” points to the human reality more concrete and tangible. In Christ, God has entered into our history, made his dwelling among us, thereby fulfilling the intimate aspiration of human beings that the world is truly a home for man. On the other hand, when God is thrown out, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man…” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba). ’The Virgin Mary with the presence in theSanctuary del Cobre, from where she accompanies the journey of the Church in this Nation…gives courage to all Cubans so that, of the hand of Christ, they discover the genuine sense of solicitude and desire that lurk in the human heart and reach the force required to build a society of solidarity, in which no one will feel excluded… That no one is prevented from joining this exciting work by the limitation of their fundamental freedoms, or exempt from it because of neglect or lack of material resources. That situation is compounded when restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country weigh negatively on the population.” (words of farewell in the José Martí Airport of Havana)

These teachings fulfill other expectations shared by many people and delineated in number 1, of the Leading article 24: La Caridad unites us. The unity is an inclusion. An enclosing and united society proposes to us that we not be blockaded from the outside and, much less, from within by apathy, repression or the disrespectful disregard of the diversity on the part of the same civil or ecclesiastic authorities. We cannot understand how the government can respect and feel affection for a thought, be it different or coincidental,of a foreign visitor as the Pope and fails to do the same for its own citizens, peaceful, independent and respectful of the laws of coexistence in the land where they were born.

Role of the Church in Cuba: show your true face without fear or complexes

“Dear Brothers, it was with much effort, courage and selflessness they are working each day so that, in the specific circumstances of his country, and in this time of history, the Church increasingly reflects its true face as the place where God is close to and found with men. The Church… has the mission to prolong on the ground, the saving presence of God, of opening up the world to something larger than itself, to the love and light of God. It is worth dedicating one’s whole life to Christ…the upcoming Passover, let us without fear or complex follow Jesus in his path toward the cross. We accept with patience and faith any adversity or affliction, with the conviction that, in his resurrection, he has defeated the power of evil that darkens everything, and the dawn that has made a new world, the world of God, the light, the truth and joy.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

The expectation number 9, of our Leading article 24 was hoping for a message from the Pope that should exhort us to: The transition of fear to hope and from the hope to the reconstruction of the Country. These teachings from the Square Antonio Maceo confirm and satisfy many who want to let go of fear and open a world where they can breathe more freely. At the same time it is an exhortation so that the Cuban Church is faithful to Jesus Christ, reflects his real face and is not afraid of the cross of the Lord. Collaboration and trust can not exist at any cost. One can not stop being something of the essence of what one is, so as not to run against those who are different.Society and the Church can not exclude part of their message, or part of the people who comprise them, for being different, to thereby achieve complacency or dialogue, to trust or cooperate with the other part of that society and the Church. Trust and collaboration are with all parties or they are not a collaboration nor a credible trust. What is at stake is the authenticity and credibility of all parties.

True religious freedom includes the social and political performance of believers

The essential contribution that religion is called to play in the public sphere of society.’ (Greetings to arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport).’The right to freedom of religion, both in its individual dimension and as a community expresses the unity of the human person, who is both citizen and believer. It also legitimizes believers to offer a contribution to the building of society. Its strengthening consolidates the coexistence, feeds the hope in a better world, creates conditions conducive to peace and harmonious development, at the same time establishes a firm base on which to strengthen the rights of future generations. When the Church emphasizes this right, it is not claiming any privilege. It is intended only as faithful to the mandate of its divine Founder, aware that where Christ is present, man grows in humanity and finds its consistency.” (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana).

In number 6, of our mentioned Leading article, we were reviewing what some Cubans were hoping that the Pope should clarify: the authentic concept of the free expression and performance of the Christian religion: Towards a real religious freedom. The Pope has said clearly that the rights of the future generations cannot separate the believer’s condition of citizen and of his contribution to the building of the society. This way one concludes that: religious freedom is alone neither freedom of worship, nor what we have called ’a freedom of permissions’. The law must open and guarantee for all, without distinction or exclusions, the profession of worship, the exercise of the prophesying Christian that includes the announcement and the denunciation; as well as the social, political and economic service that the Christian conception of the human being and of the world demands of its believers.

The path of change: teach to think and form men of virtue

Cuba and the world need changes, but they will be given only if each one is in a position to ask for the truth and decides to take the road of love, sow reconciliation and fraternity. An illustrious example of this work was the great priest Félix Varela, educator and teacher, illustrious son of this city of Havana, who has passed into the history of Cuba as the first one who taught his people to think. Father Varela presents the way for a true social transformation: form virtuous men to forge a nation worthy and free, that this transformation will depend on the spiritual life of man, because ’there is no homeland without virtue” (letters to Elpidio, letter sesta, 1836 Madrid, 220). (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana). Under the gaze of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre. I would like to make a call…for living in Christ and for Christ, and with weapons of peace, forgiveness and understanding; fight to build a society open and renewed, a society better, more worthy of man, reflecting more the goodness of God.” (Homily at the mass in the plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

On the basis of the strongly Creole teachings of Father Felix Varela, the Pope told us clearly that Cuba needs changes and that we must do so with a spirit, and by a road, without trauma. This meets some of those expectations of broad sectors of our society reflected in Editorial 24,n 24, specifically in number 2: The spirit that promotes structural changes, peaceful and gradual; and in number 7: The national reconciliation: truth, justice, amnesty and magnanimity. The portico of this visit was opened by Benedict XVI while on the plane to Mexico, when he said: The Marxist ideology, as it was conceived, it no longer responds to reality and the Church is available to help changes to take effect without trauma’. We see that he did not say Marxist ideology as applied in the former USSR or in the socialist camp, but as it was conceived. We believe that this frank complaint, which is a part of the prophetic message of every Christian, was superbly complemented by the other part of that prophetic vision which is the announcement that the Pope himself made within Cuba on the way, the style and the players to ensure that changes were without violence or trauma. In effect, we believe that there are two root causes, fruit from the more than 60 years of totalitarian authoritarianism and paternalism, which could lead to violence and trauma: the anthropological damage that produces depersonalization, and the ethical and civic illiteracy that produces personal and social anomie. These roots of the social and political evils must be overcome with an ethical and civic education and regenerating of the human person and of peaceful coexistence.

It is time of coexistence and national dialogue that banish immovable positions

“The present hour demands in a compelling way that in human, national and international coexistence, set positions and the unilateral points of view — which tend to make understanding more difficult the understanding and collaborative effort ineffective, will be banned. Any discrepancies and difficulties will be solved by tirelessly searching for what unites all, with patient and sincere dialogue, mutual understanding and a loyal will to listen that accepts goals, carriers of new hope.” (Words of farewell to the José Martí airport in Havana)

The Pope culminates, in his words of farewell at the airport, the masterful strokes of his messages and its legacy. We wish to highlight these teachings that have responded to and exceeded the expectations of many, mentioned in our Editorial 24 in number 3: The promotion of citizen sovereignty and an inclusive national dialog and about essential topics. And in number 5: The decriminalization of diversity.

Make each Cuban feel indispensable as the sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.

I conclude here my pilgrimage, but I will keep on praying heartily so that you go forward and Cuba becomes the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist, in a climate of serene brotherhood. The respect and cultivation of the freedom that beats in the heart of every man is essential to answer appropriately the fundamental requirements of his dignity, and to construct in this way a society in whom each one there feels himself the indispensable sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.’ (Farewell Words in the Airport José Martí of Havana)

Here’s the key to everything. The legacy that we feel is most important and transcendent. And at the same time, the continuity with the message of the unforgettable Pope John Paul II in 1998, prominent as an essential expectation of many in number 10 of the 24 Editorial: ’Cubans we are and we should be the sovereigns of our own personal and national history’.

Cuban civil society, rather than incipient has already grown, having reached, in some central themes, a consensus as never before in the past 500 years of our history. We mentioned some of these points: to be the sovereign of our own personal history with the commitment to weave a civic coexistence; join in the diversity accepting that democracy is plural, diverse and complex; agree on minimum ethics, as are: the aim of achieving democracy and the use of peaceful methods to achieve it.

We have lived through the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. This tour leaves us with a new bar to overcome a challenge that arises as a result of his teachings: giving us, finally, to realize that changes do not come from outside, or from above, but from the inside and from below, which is to say: to exercise the sovereignty of each citizen in personal and corporate form. From outside, the solidarity, support and respect for what we lead from within. And not the other way around.

We believe that the greatest challenge that this visit leaves us is that we cannot, nor should we, expect more from a one-time event, or from a messiah who would come to redeem us from outside, nor even from the representative of the Messiah Jesus Christ. We have entered, it was time, in the deception of false Messiahs and imported solutions. Cuba will be in the future only what Cubans will be able to do among all of us, a sovereigns of our own personal and national history.

This is the unique, authentic and lasting civic adulthood.

Pinar del Rio, April 8 2012

Easter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Coexistence Magazine. Editorial 26. March-April 2012
www.convivenciacuba.es.
redaccion@convivenciacuba.es

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

May 3 2012

TO WAKE UP WITH RAUDEL PATRIOT SQUADRON / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

TODAY, PREMIERING AT THE EVENING CUBAN STATE OF SATS, IS THIS DOCUMENTARY BY RICARDO FIGUEREDO: AWAKENING … THE FILM WAS CENSORED AT THE LAST SAMPLE OF YOUNG DIRECTORS OF HAVANA 2012, WHICH LED TO THE DIGNIFIED RESIGNATION OF DIRECTOR FERNANDO PEREZ BEFORE THE PRESSURE OF THE SEGUROSOS (STATE SECURITY AGENTS) AND THE EX-MINISTER OF CULTURE ABEL PRIETO …

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

April 27 2012

Apologetic / Lilianne Ruíz

The presence of the voice of a priest on television during the celebration of Mass, the opening words of the Pope, rendering thanks to his welcome, “the Church must earn a place in the public space”, the presence of the faithful, in the streets, in recent months to venerate the image of the Patroness of Cuba, suggests that the negotiation of the Catholic Church with the Castro State already has a purpose.

To allow the Catholic Church to open schools, at all educational levels, is a dream for a mother like me. I would prefer, a thousand times, the puritanical and elitist education of the Church, of our children and youth, rather than their being educated in the revolutionary pantheon doctrine. But any negotiations require concessions and these seem to be, as we have been told by the priests in advance, the removal of believers from public political life.

There can only be the Communist Party, to be in the opposition is still a crime, is based on human rights not from the perspective of another party. This is a betrayal, but the Pope is not Christ. What seems to be the commitment of the Catholic Church in Cuba, in 2012, is not the love of John Paul II for the Spring.

Let us assume that Benedict XVI is betting on the proclamation of the Gospel. What will young people do with the Gospel, with inner freedom, when they come out of the Temples? It could happen as it did in the ’50s, when it was easy for Cubans to relinquish their religious school training, because they believed that priests were hypocrites.

The Catholic Church in Cuba was more credible when it was the Church of resistance to the materialism of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

I believe in Jesus Christ in the style of the Apostle Paul. So I could not object to the Pope’s homily, the only time of license for the priest because the rest are wanting to watch the liturgical prayer and that is really all, speaking strictly of the Incarnation of the Word, that is all to which I would listen, but in order to live in ecstasy and be like Christ in recognising that even after an arbitrary prison sentence of twelve years, the police are still holding Oscar Elias Bicet and his wife Elsa incommunicado by cutting off their cell phones during these days.

The Ladies in White, Gladiators, arbitrarily arrested, threatened and besieged. All hounded by the political police. I do not know about UNPACU (Foundation of Human Rights in Cuba), because they are in Santiago, but we clearly saw the actions of State Security which we all know were to prevent an opponent of the regime from reaching the Vicar of Rome. Perhaps His Holiness knew that fact and did not want that to affect the negotiations.

Ignoring these people that are now being denied and crushed by the state is — if not to condemn them to be abused by the political power — to underestimate them, to abandon them for reasons of business.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but all seems to indicate that this visit has a purpose but not a Universal purpose, but coming from an Inquisitor only considering the imposition of a doctrine of life as if it were an ideology. Since this doctrine is the only one, which I believe in more than in life, I justified Mr. Ratzinger not saying in his homily that to obey God before men is the road to liberty.

It would be absurd to suppose that he spoke of obedience to encourage the people to acquiesce to the dictatorship. All due to the “greater good”, the Church’s presence in public spaces, is not bad, but it is not enough.

Finally, I saw the image of the Crucifixion, now the symbol, and I happened to think of Christ as Judge, who alone can open the seals on the beautiful images of the last book of the Bible. God the Saviour, Son of the Father, genitum, non factum, consustansiabilis Patri, came to this world, became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin.

He became like us without what is called sin in the Bible, which among other things allows us to relate to God. He suffered the same as us, temptations, helplessness, but did not lose faith in the Father. Until Jesus Christ has made us the gift of being children in faith and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, that relationship was not entirely real or written on the heart.

For Nirvana and other higher state of consciousness seem mute and lonely before the eloquence of the Word. Even though, in fact, they express wisdom, they are impersonal. I know I sound inquisitive, but I will never be the police of someone who thinks differently from me. And I dare say that is completely unprecedented in the world of Christian revelation, because without indicting the pictures that have been made of God in different religions, the Incarnation of God is the heritage of Christian doctrine only.

The other founders of religions have participated in a higher deity, has been made corporal in the conscience of the ascetic, but God Incarnate was born only in the manger of Bethlehem. In heaven there is but the Trinity of one God, is the testimony of Christ and the contemplative tradition of the best Christian mysticism, it is not, as the atheists say, a heritage of Hindu trinities. Assuming the lineage of David, earthly parentage has given us a heavenly and indestructible life, resurrection, the knowledge of God through faith and one day by the Spirit. And being the only innocent, and the source of all the gifts of those who could participate, he was killed, tortured by the violence that we are capable of. That cross is our judgment and incredibly our forgiveness. Tertullian, apologist, coined the phrase: Credo quia absurdum.

There is in fact an exclusion in the apostolic doctrine, but such a faith would assume tolerance and respect, although from the inquisitorial behavior of the Church, over the centuries, is the model that has been copied by the totalitarianisms.

There is a point that consternation produces in me, as a believer, and it is the alliance of the Communist totalitarianism with Catholic inquisitorial doctrine. It would be a travesty that human beings more advanced than the “Aryan” and the “New Man”, would endanger the Christian doctrine of salvation. I hope that I am wrong in my assumptions and that my blog, Jeronimo, is not heckled for not being right. I do not know if the Pope knows what he has done.

Everything was much simpler in the apostles, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and I miss him very much, although we know calmly that everything will pass except for the Easter victory.

Therefore permit me to repeat the disillusionment that Ratzinger causes us with the same words used by Teresa of Avila: God alone suffices. The cause of the Spring for Cuba should not be abandoned by Him.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

March 27 2012

The Ex-Militant Requests the Floor / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

The First National Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba, recently held on January 28th and 29th, left a permanent bittersweet taste. First Secretary Raul Castro said that one of its objectives was to, “promote greater democracy in our society, starting with an example within the ranks of the Party.” In this light, any person outside of the harsh reality that we Cubans live — not the virtual mysticism preached by the ruling party — could sigh hopefully. But millions on the island, hardened by the repetition of phrases like these, we claim the benefit of the doubt.

In my capacity as an ex-militant of that party, of which I was a member for 10 years until I was expelled in 2005 – without ever having committed any act of corruption, crime or treason, but only by this story that ended in the creation of this blog “Ciudadano Cero” (Citizen Zero) in Voces Cubanas — I ask to speak.

I think that if the Communist Party wants to be minimally tolerant in relation to society, it should begin to be so in relation to its own members. An anecdote to illustrate it will suffice: In mid 1999, I had the silly idea to ask, in my heart, how the recently issued Resolution 54, of the Ministry of Public Health, would be implemented in light of the Cuba-US migration agreements in place since 1994, after the Rafter Crisis, to prevent a worker who received a U.S. visa from leaving the country, perhaps for years, would not that contradict the letter of these agreements?

Well, this “mischief” cost this Cuban boy a year of tense meetings with officials of the Municipal Committees and Provincial Party to penalize me for trying “….to question the decisions made at the central level.” I did not back off, but such fuss over a simple little question – not even made public, but kept within the party – and eventually I opened my eyes to a reality: someone who uses his own judgement and he leaves, with his music, headed elsewhere, in the Communist Party of Cuba they do not join to think, but to obey orders without restrictions, without questions, but rather obey orders unrestricted, divine, unquestionable, dictates from the higher-ups who only listen when people applaud and never when they ask questions.

Then he concludes, if this mechanical operation of party members persists, in the face of such a psychology, would one expect a different attitude toward the rest of the people?

When reading in Raul Castro’s closing speech in the newspaper Granma, from the headlines and leads it is obviously an antagonistic contradiction: The party states the need to “…promote greater democracy…” yet refuses so resoundingly to officially recognise differing political positions.

“Ending the principle of a single party would be….to legalise the party or parties of imperialism on our native land…”. Most clearly, impossible: the question remains are you with me or against me!

Such an approach still admits the possibility that Cubans have different opinions, genuine patriots willing to safeguard the independence of their country. Thus the emphasis is on Fidel’s classic syllogism of leader-Revolution-nation, in which there is only one way to be a consistent patriot: by being an ardent admirer of the Revolutionary leader and obeying even his most absurd decisions.

In a discourse that emphasizes analogies historically used by the Cuban government to demonise various political schemes (plurality = demagoguery = commercial exploitation of politics = appeasement to the U.S.), our President criticizes “…the validity and usefulness of so-called representative democracy…” because “…has become invariably the concentration of power in the class that holds the economic hegemony…” and he says it as if in Cuba, even with specific nuances, the same thing didn’t happen.

Too often our people witness that the most notorious corrupt – Raul recognizes it – are the ardent activists who for decades maintained their status of stratospheric life before the impassive gaze of the Party and government authorities. If this is known, despite a press censorship comparable only, perhaps, to the one that governs North Korea, it is easy to imagine what would happen if in our own in a fit of ethics, difficult to conceive, unwrapped Pandora’s box. For all this we were married to the lie and they forced us to live with her.

I remain stunned by Raul Castro when he asked the party “…to foster a climate of maximum trust and the conditions….for the most comprehensive and frank exchange of views, both within the organization, its links with the workers and the population, encouraging disagreements to be taken with ease and respect, including the mass media… to be involved with the strictest accountability and accuracy in this endeavour… with proven objectively and without unnecessary secrecy.

It turns out that over the last year and a half, I myself have gotten to Raul Castro four letters which clearly expounds our case, Raul himself here speaking completely ignores them and likewise it did reach the main Cuban periodicals without their ever having the courage to publish them.

Although my astonishment increased when I hear the President ensure: “You have to get used to telling us all the truths from the front, looking into his eyes, disagree and argue…when we consider that we are in the right…” however, finally awakened when displayed in fact, stating that everything will be “…of course, in the right place at the right time and in the right way…

This blog is run by someone who dared to disagree and that is why he was expelled from the party, lost his specialty, Medicine, and was then barred from practicing his profession. It is a curious way of understanding the right to dissent and of “naturally and respectfully accepting differences“! In fact, I would advise the First Secretary a little “caution” when talking, for example, about the danger the corrupt assume, that it not end with he himself expelled from the Party for challenging them, as recently happened to Professor Esteban Morales.

But where this speech is worthy of “coven” award for the great Creole humor it distills, it is the point at which the First Secretary assures us “...that in the Party there must be a definitive end to the top down control — the ’boss-ism’ — its force is moral, not legal… it is the moral force!

To listen to this in a country where the Communist Party arranges and controls everything – even the prosecution, forgive the repetition – is hilarious. It is no secret that while the Party says in public that it does not govern, not manage, and that its function is to “guide” that “…it demands all those responsible fulfill their, without interfering in the administration…” – I do not see how it is possible to do one thing without the other – however, the reality is that nothing of political or administrative importance is approved without the consent of the Communist Party, its leaders have unlimited powers, the Party gives and takes, according to its interest, officials from all levels of government, appointed and replaced at leisure managers, company directors, provincial directors, ministers, generals, trade union leaders and mass organizations, and it arranges which “NGOs” will be approved and which will have his profile.

It promotes and fires deputies of all levels, presidents of municipal and provincial assemblies of the Popular Power, in the end, it is the manager of the totality of life of this country without any type of limitation, with an attentive eye on these civil servants to be thrown out the window for minor slides.

In this way, the Cuban government – of which all the high officials are, incidentally, communist militants – reaches the audacity to proclaim to the four winds, when you want to question the Cuban electoral system, that it is not the Communist Party that postulates, that what happens “in theory”is for one simple reason: it doesn’t need it, because it is the lord and master of this country. If the party frowns; ministers, deputy ministers, colonels and generals grow pale. But if the party raises its voice and gives them a swipe, they defecate their pants.

So why shouldn’t we recognize that the party actually nominates them all?

In the end, this speech holds in abeyance some basic questions: Would the Cuban government dare to officially recognize the political opposition now that the Party says it is willing to “promote democracy”? Deciding to limit the stay in government positions to two terms of five years – after spending more than 50 years in it themselves – are they finally convinced that power intoxicates when exercised for too long?

Also in this speech – like those Fidel Castro used to make – starting from the atrocities perpetrated by the imperialist blocs, he tries to legitimize atrocities committed by our government against its own people, as if the one justifies the other. Yes, the world is screwed up, but in this little rock that suffers under the Caribbean sky, the civil rights of 11 million Cubans are finally slaughtered with the permission of the Communist Party.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

February 26 2012

 

Torture China

Many will think that I am referring to a method of torture made by the Chinese with the deliberate attempt to hurt, but far from that, I am speaking of the famous Yutong brand of bus made in China. Although, I am sure it was not designed to torture us, it does so with amazing efficiency, especially when the distance traveled is long. Obviously, the Chinese Yutong buses manufactured do not take into account Cuban characteristics, for if they had, the space between the seats would be greater because Cubans do not like to ride anything that crowds us especially when those around us are unknown. The seats in these buses have been the cause of more than one altercation between passengers and if someone really wanted to know what I mean by torture, one would only need travel from Villa Clara to Havana to understand, much less try a masochistic journey of more than fourteen hours from the capital to any point of the eastern part of the country.

The jokes abound among the clients of the only bus line in the nation, the ASTRO, which in spite of its name, every day loses more luster due to the fact the buses age without receiving much maintenance. The backs of the narrow seats, for example, suffer from the pockets of mesh within which to place containers of water or other possessions that we carry by hand. In many buses the curtains hang with breaks or it is impossible to close them, cording them through the clasps made for it, or riding in the hot Cuban sun, whether by day, or cold moonlight in the night passing through the windows; or you cannot see outside at all. A very bad matter for the claustrophobic. If we add the stench emerging from the bathroom added to the monotony of travel and the screens for the projection of film or music hang useless all the way. But the most uncomfortable aspect continues to be the tightness between the seats.

As I said the jokes and conjectures are many: the Chinese think that Cubans have limbs as short as theirs and we are as thin and stiff as them, that the buses were built to travel short distances, if I still carry my knee pinned in the back, that if the fat next to me almost touches the floor and the last I heard: Hey, this bus is a Chinese condemnation of torture!

During these days we were visited by friends, the anecdotes were raining down and to me, I almost used the entire tube of Bengay in the massage I gave my visitors imagining the seats located in front of the bathroom and third to the last, stiffer as it is known those don’t lean backward. If anyone has doubts about how torturing these babies are, if a foreigner will not travel the country in rented cars or on buses chartered by National ASTRO, choose instead to sit on one of the stiff (bus seats), I am certain that after that experience no one will be able give him a story of what the true reality of the life of everyday Cubans.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

March 9 2012

What Nonsense! / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antunez

Reforms by Raul Castro: self-employment, immigration reform, with abolition of the so-called “white card or exit permit. Every time I listen to some analysts and wise guy lecture on that topic, I think they have lost their sense of reality of what a Communist style totalitarian dictatorship is.

To exercise the legitimate and sacred right to travel freely, in other words to leave and return freely from one’s own country is a right. If the regime in Havana allows citizens to freely leave and return, it immediately stops having at its disposal one of the most important tools of repression. If they eliminate the travel permit — the “white card” — the political police lose a sophisticated weapon of political pressure and blackmail.

If Cubans were allowed to leave and enter freely it would cost the regime their campaign of demonising capitalist society.

Sometimes I think some have truly believed in those economic and social manoevres implemented by Raulato (Raul Castro) to buy time and divert attention from true reforms. It bothers me that our compatriots, inside and out, with sufficient information and experience with Castro, believe that the beginning of a real liberalisation programme can wait for a meeting or a party congress.

I do not understand how they expect a general, stained with the blood of thousands and thousands of Cubans, who encourages sinister mobs and is the instigator of so much crime, to cause what amounts to the collapse of the one thing in what he is most interested: total power.

And if so, it is good to know that we are thousands and thousands of Cubans who for reasons of principle, common sense, and above all in honour and respect for our martyrs, do not want changes with the Castros, nor do we accept mediated solutions that would mean continuity, succession and exemption of blame for those criminals. For reconciliation without justice first, is as unacceptable as it is ignominious.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

February 13 2012

We Ask for a Home for Newborn Twins Mario Alejandro and Maria Alajandra Lara Alfonso / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antunez

As with the campaigns, “Return Yili to his Father”, “Save Ariel”, “Do Not Let Mario Alberto Perez Aguilera Die”, “For Dignified and Decent Housing for all Cubans”, “Do Not Let Orlando Zapata Die”; again, the Rosa Parks Movement as a part of the Central Opposition Coalition, and the Front sensitized to the pain and suffering of others, has launched a new campaign to pressure the Castro regime into providing the young mother, Lara Yaima Alfonso, and her newborns with a roof over their heads and a living commensurate with their situation and needs. Presently, the 28 year old Yaima, is living in the maternal room of the Placetas General Hospital, where just a few hours after giving birth to these innocent creatures, the mother refuses to leave until they have a place to live, but she may be thrown into the street at any time.

The suffering of this Cuban mother strengthened to the harsh reality of not having a crib, diapers, bottles nor basket; and the cruel rejection of his parents due to his homosexual condition, another achievement of the Castro revolution fragmenting families over differences in political, sexual (orientation) of whatever type.

Yesterday, several of his relatives certainly did not see much as they arrived at the hospital with a fan and a succulent lunch, in exchange for staying away from “Human Rights people.”

“If you don’t turn away from them we’ll take everything and not come any more”

“Fine, that take it now, because I’m not going to turn away from these people, not now and not when my problem is resolved, because they are the only ones who really helped me.” Such was the brave and honourable response to a family sent and manipulated by the political police.

And indeed they returned with the lunch that they had taken to her, as they also removed the fan that the patient needed, but thank God and the women of Rosa Parks, Yaima is having lunch every day and enjoying a fan.

As we see again the human insensitivity of the political police, far from solving the problem of the needy, they respond with harassment and threats such as brandishing the name of Idel Morfi Gonzalez*, also known as “Railroad Nail”: “If you are still dealing with those people of human rights, you are not getting a home and may go to prison from here.”

The case of Yaima and her little innocent creatures are the reflex of the mentality of hatred of a regime which must be called a reflection to you, dear reader, wherever you go raise your voice as a form to put pressure on the Castro dictatorship so that he gives a home to Yaima and her children.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

February 16 2012