Exclusion as a policy / 14ymedio, Fernando Damaso

The Cuban flag serves as a symbol of the nation (14ymedio)

The Cuban flag serves as a symbol of the nation (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Fernando Dámaso, Havana, May 17 2015 – The Cuban government, since it seized power on January 1959, has maintained an authoritarian and exclusive approach to politics. Patriots, Cubans and citizens are considerations that have only been extended to those who unconditionally support the establishment. Those who do not or who simply criticize it are deemed unpatriotic, traitors, and anti-socials.

This system is primitive in its simplicity, but it has been useful. This absurd and unnatural positioning has been applied to everything: democracy, liberty, human rights, unity, opposition and many other terms have been redefined according to the ideological and political interests of those who govern, giving the impression that the Island exists in an unreal political and geographical space, outside of planet Earth. Continue reading

No Leader is Interested in the Rights of Cubans / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera

Cubanos

An old man selling newspapers on the streets of Havana (Elio Delgado)

Hablamos Press, Eduardo Herrera, Havana, 16 May 2015 — In recent weeks, meetings between Raúl Castro and various heads of state have attracted the attention of national and international public opinion.

During his visit to Algeria, Castro met with Abdelaziz Buteflika, who at 78 years of age has been president of his country for 16 years. Later, Castro travelled to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. Continue reading

“The Cuban people must get their voice back to begin the transition” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Rosa Maria Paya

Rosa María Payá. (14ymedio)

Rosa María Payá. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 17 May 2012 — In the summer of 2012, Rosa María Payá had just started out in the political arena. She moved among the young people who animated the Varela Project, El Camino del Pueblo (The Path of the People) and the Heredia Project, initiated by the Christian Liberation Movement founded by her father, the dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Now 26 years old, she has two missions that consume most of her time. The first, is demanding an independent investigation into the death of her father, for the government to explain an “accident” which she believes was an attack. The second is leading the project Cuba Decides, which promotes a referendum on a proposal to hold free elections in the country.

Escobar: Your departure from Cuba came less than two years ago. How do you see the situation in the country upon your return?

Payá: We left Cuba under political persecution. The persecution against my father and my family before the attack, that ended his and Harold Cepero’s lives, continued after they died and became increasingly intense. They chased my brother when he was driving my dad’s car and did so in cars that have the same make as those that were chasing my father and that finally rammed [the car he was traveling in] on 22 July 2012. In addition, they did it with uniformed people, so that everyone — not only my family but also the local people — was aware of it. Continue reading

Cuban Baseball: Ciego de Avila, 2015 Champion / Ivan Garcia

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Ivan Garcia, 18 April, 2015 — 2015 is another Year of the Tiger.  The avileño* team, headed by former receiver Roger Machado, scored twice, then in the 2012 season they won their first title in the local league to unseat Industriales in five games.

Cuban baseball right now is very even.  For years it was dominated by the usual suspects: Industriales, Pinar del Río, Santiago, or Villa Clara.

It is necessary to go back to 1979, when Sancti Spiritus surprised more distinguished rivals. Or to 2001, when in a dramatic play-off to the best of seven against those Sancti Spiritus roosters when Yulieski Gourriel and Frederick Cepada, the Holguin bloodhounds, clouded the sky with the all the bottle rockets that went up after their unexpected victory. Continue reading

Fidel Castro’s “Hardships” in Prison / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones

Fidel Castro’s mug shot (photo from the internet)

Fidel Castro’s mug shot (photo from the internet)

“We sleep with the lights off, we have no roll calls or formations all day, we get up whenever (…) Plenty of water, electric lights, food, clean clothes and all for free”

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 15 May 2015 – This May 15 marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the Moncadistas. The attack on the Moncada barracks is characterized by many as a terrorist act. Beyond the adjectives, always debatable, those who have been charged with praising the rebellious generation and denigrating the army officers of the time say nothing about the soldiers killed that Carnival dawn. Nineteen officers fell, but their names do not count for the official historians.

What would happen today if a group of Cubans, tired of political discrimination and abuses, were to attack a military unit? Would they receive sanctions as benign as those applied to the Moncadistas? Would they be allowed to meet in jail and be separated from the regular prisoners? Would they be granted amnesty? Continue reading

Success with a Little Knowledge of Economics / Dora Leonor Mesa

A new way of thinking: 2 x 2 = 7

The advantage of economics is that it is a discipline in which a few ideas can take you a long way. You can’t say that about, for example, the study of physics or Japanese.

Economics has virtues of both politics and science. It is truly a social science. “Its subject is society, that is, how individuals choose to live and how they interrelate. And it brings the subject matter into focus with the dispassion of a science, applying the scientific method to policy issues, in order to make advances in the fundamental challenges facing any society.” Continue reading

The Reconversion of the Devils / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

papa-Francisco-raul-castro
cubanet square logoCubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 12 May 2015 — Yesterday, Tuesday May 11, 2015, the front page of Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), showed a photograph of the Cuban President General amicably shaking the hand of Pope Francis in Vatican City. Quirks of politics, to convince us of the survivability of the Castro regime, represented by another member of the same caste that in the decade of the 70’s and 80’s harassed members of religious orders, reviled priests and marginalized the faithful. Now, just like that, the Castro regime perfumes its stubborn Marxist conviction with myrrh and frankincense, and it is almost hard to believe that this seemingly respectable octogenarian who visits with the Pope is one of those guerrilla leaders of that Revolution that was anticlerical, antireligious and church-phobic even before declaring itself Marxist.

In retrospect, the war against religious faith in Cuba was not just a momentary attack, but a policy of systematic and ongoing state-sanctioned persecution or discrimination against individuals for reasons of their religious beliefs, while, at the same time, Marxism-Leninism, that other fake religion, kept spreading with the aid of the Kremlin’s petro-rubles. Continue reading

Could Liborio* Be the Enemy of Your Opinions?

1430767279_souvenir-ii-bota1okIn search of economists who can speak the language of everyday people

In economics it’s not enough that ideas or conclusions be based on concrete data; to be effective they must be shared by society. In other fields of knowledge, such as medicine, it is enough merely that the doctor knows the remedy in order for the patient to accept it. Continue reading

The Harvest of the Sowing of Violence / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

Repression Against the Ladies in White (Internet photo)

Repression Against the Ladies in White (Internet photo)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 13 May 2015 – Extremely worried, doctoral candidate in physics Antonio Rodiles and his wife the actress and political activist Ailer Gonzalez, in their home, related to me two events that I have prayed over, that those events that started with the blood of Moncada wouldn’t end up being a circular story. Ailer and Antonio spoke of the increased police repression after December 17, most particularly of the brutality with which the oppressors are being dispatched.

On Sunday the 26th of last month, with their trucks crammed with martial arts experts at the end of the usual parade of the Ladies in White, Carlitos, the son of Jesus Menendez, an elderly diabetic with heart problems, was grabbed, dragged and thrown in the back of the truck like a sack of potatoes. Yury, Blas Roca’s grandson, was put in plastic handcuffs so tightly that his hands turned black and they didn’t cut them off. Up Calabazar, the truck with the prisoners inside was left in the sun to bake them a little. They grabbed Antonio among the many present and pushed him with blows to the back before throwing him headfirst into the truck. An endless number of books could be written about the mistreatment and repression of the Ladies in White, apparently excluded from government’s media campaign to end violence against women. Continue reading

Russia and Raúl Castro’s Mediating Role / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea

Raúl Castro and Vladimir Putin in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution in July 2014. (EFE/Alejandro Ernesto)

Raúl Castro and Vladimir Putin in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution in July 2014. (EFE/Alejandro Ernesto)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 5 May 2014 — Russia is not the West’s Enemy, with a capital “E.” And even if it were, it would not be taken seriously. Russia is no longer the industrial superpower of the ’70’s and ’80’s, nor is it a leader in innovation. Its population is dwindling to catastrophic levels, as its share of GDP in comparison to those of other countries. It is indeed true its army is still the only one that can face the American army in all-out symmetrical war, but for how much longer?

In fact, Russia is not the enemy because it shares real enemies with the West, the enemies we really should fear. And we share them because Russia is part of the West. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Daily life of the People of Jaruco / Hablemos Press, Elio Delgado

Mayabeque, Cuba. – Cubans immersed in the day to day of survival with a salary of $20 per month do thousands of work-arounds to earn a living. These images captured by my lens reflect the daily life of the inhabitants of Jaruco.

Jaruco is a municipality of Mayabeque province, situated some 30km southeast of Havana. Its norther border abuts the municipality of Santa Cruz del Norte, and on the south, San José de las Lajas [the provincial capital].

Economic activities are based mainly on livestock and agriculture–both of which are impacted by the socialist bureaucracy.

Photo Credits: Elio Delgado, Hablemos Press

Translator: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

From “White Udder” to the seven-legged bull / Yoani Sanchez

Illustration of a cow. (14ymedio)

Illustration of a cow. (14ymedio)

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 5 May 2015 – For a long time the extraordinary, the unusual, was our hope. On this Island which must have been Atlantis, the reincarnation of Alexander the Great was born and there lived a cow who gave the most quarts of milk in the history of humanity. Like all childish people we needed to feel that nobody surpassed us and that the ordinary rested far from our borders. White Udder, the cow that still owns the Guinness World Record, was a sacrificial victim on the altar of this national and political vanity. Gone are the times of those exaggerated ranching achievements, now we can only crow about our anomalies.

Muñeco is a bull with seven legs. The local press just narrated his story, a wild yearling born from two commercial zebu breed cattle, and ultimately adopted by the cattle rancher Diego Vera Hernandez in the Trinidad area. What distinguishes this exemplar from so many others that die of hunger and thirst in the Cuban countryside is that springing from its back, near the shoulder hump, are three additional legs and one testicle. Its anatomy includes everything the official rhetoric needs: on the one hand the inconceivable, on the other, this piece of virility that should not be lacking in anyone or anything that wants to brag about being made in Cuba.

Gone are the times of those exaggerated ranching achievements, now we can only crow about our anomalies.

Muñeco’s three legs have saved him from the illegal slaughter to which so many of his peers succumb due to the needs and poor livestock management displayed by the current system. That piece of another bull hanging from his back has freed him from the middle-of-the-night butcher’s knife because a clever farmer realizes that he has before his eyes a fair animal, a circus creature, to show off to journalists at the agricultural fairs. But there is not much difference from this pet with mischievous genes and that cow that represented all our hopes of seeing milk run in the streets and factories drowning in cheese and yogurt.

White Udder died from the excesses of a leader who needed results, but Muñeco has lived for the pride of this nation burdened by its own malformations.