Time Stopped

It’s as if all the clocks had been stopped.  In unison, the same day at the same time. The unease is widespread around the Cuban political prisoners and their families.

Despite the official announcement that 52 opponents of the Group of 75 will be released, they still don’t know  exactly when those releases will occur. Much less who are the candidates to leave the country immediately and who in the coming months. And if it’s true that they will exchange their cells for exile.

Arnaldo Ramos, 68, sleeps little and badly. And he always has the same dreams: that his wife Lidia is preparing his favorite dish, while running her fingers through the long hair of their granddaughter Roxana.

Right now, all the prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003 are a bundle of nerves. A group of men who never should have been imprisoned.

I seem to see the doctor Oscar Elias Biscet, praying before bed, with the Bible at the head of his bunk in the Combinado del Este prison.

Or the reporter Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, full of aches, thinking about David and Daniel, his sons who aren’t little boys any more and after seven long hears he will see them as teenagers.

Either way, there are hopes. At this moment I can’t forget Reina Luisa, Orland Zapata’s mother. The hunger strike that cost the life of her son forced the government to reconsider its rigid postures.

In the solitude of their small and poor dwelling in Banes, Holguin, Reina knows that Orlando will not knock in the door carrying his duffel bag, like the rest of those released. She will not be able to hug hum, nor sit down and talk with him.

I also think of all the men and women of Cuba and in the world who in a loud voice, without fear, have called for democratic changes on the island.

In Madrid, a friend listens to the boleros of the singer Olga Guillot and drinks strong coffee, typing with two-fingers his chronicles for the newspaper El Mundo. Morón, his hometown, he keeps under his pillow.

This gesture, the result of three-party negotiations, could be a first step. Pablo Pacheco would like to watch Sunday’s final between Spain and Holland sitting next to his son. And I want to hug my niece, Yania, who left Cuba when she was 9 and just turned 16.

In this battles there are no winners. We have all lost something. And we all want change.

Iván García

Photo: Reina Luisa Tamayo is consoled by a Lady in White, shortly after the death of her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.


Since I started this blog I’ve felt like never before the isolation produced by not having a phone line. It’s not that I didn’t want one. If blame needs to be apportioned to anyone or anything besides the boycott and the imperialist menace it should be to my husband who never wanted a phone line when he was still an active member of the Cuban Artists and Writers Union (UNEAC for its initials in Spanish). His reasoning was that the telephone ring, the same as the door ring, would upset the state of grace in which he needed to immerse himself in order to write. By the time he knew about answering machines he was already a “writer on hiatus” as he likes saying, and despite my begging he didn’t want to ask for a letter from UNEAC avowing his condition as a founding member of the institution. For those who are lost at this point of the story, I have to clarify that the telephone company is in charge of deploying new lines, but only after being authorized by the Poder Popular Municipal, which is more or less the equivalent of a city government.

Somewhere around six years ago, and without my husband knowing, I went to UNEAC’s literature section and filed a written application for e-mail service, to be “anchored” to the telephone line from my mother’s house. I was told back then that it would take some time because of upgrades on the CUBARTE server taking place at the moment, and I never got an answer afterwards. It seems that my husband doesn’t meet their criteria on reliability, or they knew beforehand that he wouldn’t accept the signed user agreement included in the contract, which implies that no information criticizing the government may be sent or received.

I’m considering now applying for a mobile phone, but I haven’t decided yet, for as long as there are no fixed tariff plans, which is what I really want, a mobile phone may be a luxury or a necessity depending on circumstances.

Translated by: Xavier Noguer

Progress of Review

Written by: Yadaimí Domínguez

Earlier this week, Coronel Lazaro Martin Diaz, who visited us at our home, told us that the Petition for Review filed by the family of Jamil Dominguez, with the Ministry of Justice, on 27 April had been sent up to the People’s Supreme Court on Friday July 2. He showed us the letter by the Head of National Review’s Criminal Affairs Ministry, which would reach the hands of Jamil during the week.

With this process, we must wait for the Supreme Court to notify us, thereby to appoint lawyers to defend the case. Although the information is encouraging, we despair with regards to the sentencing process, given the situation in which my brother finds himself since April 14.

It turns out to be that once received in writing by the Ministry of Justice, the competent court, it must arrange, within three  days, the emplacement with delivery of copies to those people who have been parties to the case or to their successors, so that within a term of ten days, they are notified in writing to appear as is their right. The court deeming it necessary, will proceed to consider the evidence offered by the parties and in possession of the office, and require the pre-trial hearing, signaling the right to appoint counsel to represent him establishing that consideration of the formalities is complete it will give it through the roll and the actions to the District attorney, and later to the defender, and if there is no designated attorney it will appoint one, giving him three days to prepare for the hearing. Finally, the hearing will be occur within 30 days following the expiration of the previous term.

The haste with which this case should be conducted, given the circumstances, and prolonged time in which Yamil stays, it is inevitable. In situations like this is essential to violate the terms of the law indicated, if the aim is above all not to cause irreparable prejudice to a human being, especially when he been evilly condemned by those who represent the law.

New Satisfactions

When I first heard someone speak about a blog I had no idea what it meant, yet I was still interested and decided to attend the classes with my friend Regina.

I recall that my first post was actually published on her blog, for I had not yet opened mine.  I would have never imagined just how far of a reach this would have, nor how much personal satisfaction it would bring me.  Through this, I have found long lost friends, while I have also made new friends like Gustavo and Aracelis.  I just found another one of my very loved friends whom I have not seen in years, but who I still keep very close to me through many cherished memories.  She asks me to please post photos on my blog of all of my work.

However you paint it, we have gained a bit of relief with the positive outcome of the hunger strike of Coco Farinas.  Meanwhile, the World Cup has everyone absorbed.  I am going to publish, especially for Felita and for all of my readers, some photos of my recent works on patchwork.

Translated by Raul G.

The Procedure to Legalize an Association in Cuba

After a group is formed, it submits an application to the Registrar of Associations of the Ministry of Justice for a certificate stating that no other official or non-governmental organization (NGO) exists in the country with the same name or the same purposes as the new association. This certificate accompanies the rest of the documents for the application for the charter.

The rule requires that when the association is of national scope, the application must be made to the government department or agency that is relevant to the objectives of the proposed association.

If the goals are of a provincial or municipal nature, the entity responsible for receiving the application will be the executive committee of whichever Administrative Board of the Assembly of the People’s Power is appropriate (provincial or municipal).

These entities make evaluations and submit reports to the Ministry of Justice (MINJUS), setting out their considerations regarding approval or denial. MINJUS issues the order that either authorizes or rejects the charter of the association, in accordance with the law and regulations (Article 7, Law of Associations).

That decision can be challenged by lodging an appeal with the Minister of Justice, and his or her resolution of the matter may be challenged in the courts. (Article 20 of the Act).

The state agencies maintain a close link with the chartered association and oversee its activities, coordinating and collaborating with the development and operation of the entity so that it achieves its intended goals. The Ministry of Justice also oversees the functioning of the association and may impose administrative penalties. These rules of connection and dual control over its actions govern the relationship of dependence and subordination of the organization to state interests.

Conclusion: an association in Cuba is created by a private autonomous act, followed by administrative control of that initiative, a process that leads to entry in the appropriate registry, which determines its legal status.

There are associations in Cuba that have a special form of constitution, for example, cooperatives of credit and services (CCS), and of agricultural production (CPA). In these cases the applicants must have the State declare that it recognizes the group as a legal entity, provided that it is organized in conformance with the terms and conditions imposed by Law 36 of July 22, 1982.

The State verifies whether these conditions have been met by the proposed entity, and if so, the official confirmation of the prescribed requirements, and the subsequent order of registration and publication, are what confer legal status upon the entity. The law is not the source of that status.

Political, social, and mass organizations recognized as legal entities in our legal system are also formed in a unique way. They are regarded in the legal system as organizations of people, with legal independence, whose decisions and contracts are given the status of voluntary acts, with the power to dispose of or encumber their assets, for historical-political issues.

Translated by: Tomás A.


EN UNIÓN ESTÁ LA FUERZA, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

“Mark of Eggs”

Ernesto Pérez Chang

In 1980 the Marxist Louis Althusser murdered his wife in the middle of an attack of schizophrenia; also dead – but not at the hands of Althusser – Sartre, Roland Barthes and Bon Scott, the lead singer of AC / DC; but we remember this year in Cuba because chicken eggs were still not rationed or available only in the illegal market; but a peso a dozen and you could buy as many as you wanted.

The hens had not been extinguished nor were they as nervous as those today who lay only under more conditions than can be generated, together, by the legal paperwork of two transnationals of steel who generate a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.

Those chickens, maybe a Russian breed, produced at any time and throughout the year, faster than we could eat the eggs. So there came a time in which some officer came up with a policy initiative: launch them against the “enemy.”

Something strange happened that year that it was all over, and if they were given to the Marxists for murdering their wives, a few Cubans, perhaps, watching their neighbor’s beard burn, they were given for escaping the island leaving a country divided between those who were leaving because, among other things they could stand neither the eggs nor the thrown eggs, and those who were left had to comply with the order to launch them in “acts of repudiation” or “marches of the combatant people.”

They shouted slogans against Jimmy, who also agreed with Torrijos who boycotted the Moscow Olympics, and eggs were thrown against the elusive and perhaps a wise economist got them for calling out “worms” because they foresaw that in a not too distant spring, when a shortage of eggs and rubles would have to return processed pupae in gorgeous green-winged style of “federal reserve.”

I was only nine years old but I remember the afternoons the Chairman of the Committee of Defense of the Revolution would send us to pass by the house to leave slips of paper with the names and addresses of the “scum.” The slag, in my neighborhood, was never a “military.”

The slag was not exactly a vile or contemptible person or even a scrap of cast iron. The scum were those “civilian” neighbors who wished to emigrate to the United States; and the Order of Party was disavow them with posters and eggs; “lightning rallies” were a sort of brief, impromptu pedagogical carnivals seeking to teach, first, those who practice “treason” suffer the consequences, and second, in international public opinion, the Mariel boatlift that was the plot of a tiny undesirable clique.

But the house of the “worm-scum” was always the same as that of some friend of ours; however, after seven or eight at night, we obeyed our parents – who in turn obeyed the Party – and we accompanied them shouting slogans and throwing eggs forgetting that until that evening the ones we listened to weeping, terrified by the mob, had played with us in the park.

Some – especially those who never accepted that the neighborhood was invaded by “civilians” -were so inflamed they even hit the doors and windows of the houses with sticks, shouting obscenities and violent phrases. Once they knocked down a door and pulled a family out to beat them. I can still hear the cries of the children’s pleas as the parents bent over their children to protect them from an excited torrent tearing their clothes and spitting. I remember the face of every one of us who were there, and I can ensure that there was no compassion.

Today it is rare to hear someone talk about those days. Of the enraged a few remain who do the same again. Despite that after all these years, they haven’t spent the time; others, most, I don’t know, some no longer live in the neighborhood. Years later in the nineties, they built rafts and boats, and no one threw eggs or called them worms or scum, as they emigrated to the United States.

Of the families repudiated, a few remain. Patience and silence has been a lesson. They walk and wave at their attackers as if nothing had happened. Sometimes I think they didn’t understand what happened that year, I can not believe that everyone has forgotten. Is it resignation, simple resignation?

A visitor to Havana today, can see the marks of exploded eggs still remaining on some buildings. Despite rains since 1980, and although the attempt to cover them with paint and slogans, the tossed eggs refuse to disappear, but I don’t know if it is to remind us of the folly of that year on the island or to talk about resignation or faith.

Sports Chronicle


Bishop Ortega as a striker just made the decisive goal after a pass from Moratinos. Key in making this play was the impressive defender Fariñas and the timely intervention of the regulars always dressed in white. Once again the team play and short but effective passes, end in victory.


Something unprecedented has happened. On the occasion of the World Cup, young people have flooded several of the capital’s downtown cinemas to watch the games. They have created a stadium atmosphere with flags, t-shirts, posters, wigs, makeup, and even the grating vuvuselas have appeared in Havana to break the monotony of the first evening of this summer vacation.


And while my sympathy is with Guardiola and Barca, from the beginning of the World Cup I put my hopes in Spain. And they didn’t  let me down against Germany, it’s not important they didn’t have more goals; the match was so nice, so effective was the famous tiquitaca, that I think yes, on Sunday instead of shouting GOOOAL! the sportscasters are going to cry OLEEEEEE!

Prologue to The Little Brother

Finally, yes, I yielded to necessity. I often wondered how long I could resist the stimulus, the temptation, and I delayed my response as if it had something to do with the uncomfortable or inevitable.

Because to admit the need for a blog, these days, is a bit like adopting the latest style, and I am ashamed to admit that over every trendy fashion hangs the suspicion of childishness. At times without discrimination. And so, as so often, I renege.

Eventually, circumstances overcame my stupidity, and I told myself: there are times when fashion saves and redeems us. We fill our lungs with oxygen when we feel overcome by routine, and find new paths, beautiful solutions.

Thus was born my abdication. And in consequence, thus arises The Little Brother. From the recognition that without our own voices, men strangle us in their thoughts. The cumulative thinking becomes a matter that needs expansion, otherwise it turns against itself, crashes against the cranial walls, and self-destructs.

To avoid this, we have our voice. Oral or written. Nut we need to use it. And if no one around you gives you a place to extend it, if all the parks and plazas are closed to you, if they prevent you from screaming or writing in a newspaper, something must be sought, no? The alternative word had become so essential that if we didn’t have it in our language, we would have to invent it.

So, I repeat, thus arises The Little Brother.

This blog is a view from below. A camera from underneath. But it is a view that doesn’t admit bandages nor tolerate disadvantages. Because even though Big Brother outweighs you, and even though he will put a lot of effort into stopping you (like the one who burned the scores of Johann Sebastian Bach, and didn’t let him play the harpsichord with freedom), the Little Brother has eyes to see.

And, fortunately, a clear voice, very sincere, that also knows how to speak.

The First Sip of Water

After 134 days without solid food, or even a sip of liquid, Guillermo Fariñas lifted a red plastic cup to his lips and drank a little water. It was 2:15 in the afternoon on Thursday July 8, and from the other side of the glass in the intensive care ward where he was being treated, dozens of friends watching him burst into applause as if they had been witnesses to a miracle.

Fariñas had won one battle but still remains in a fierce war against death, because the land that has seen the action of this singular belligerency is his own body — ultimately the only space available to him to carry out this campaign. His intestines are now like fragile paper conduits distilling bacteria through their pores, his jugular vein is partially obstructed by a blood clot which, if it detached, could lodge in the heart, brain or lungs; or more precisely, in his heart, his brain or his lungs. He has suffered four staph infections and at night a sharp pain in his groin barely allows him to sleep.

His shriveled esophagus was not ready for that first sip of water. It created such a pain in his chest that for a minute he thought he was having a heart attack, but he endured it in silence. On the other side of the glass, expectantly watching, were those who for days had been keeping a vigil outside the hospital, praying for his life, and others who had come from very far away to ask him to end his martyrdom and to be a witnesses to his victory. Not wanting to dampen the celebration of his jubilant colleagues applauding the triumph of his cause, he managed to turn a grimace into a smile.

Guillermo Fariñas’s family allowed me to watch over him on this, the first night after the end of his hunger strike, and he allowed me to be a witness his suffering, his occasional crankiness, and his human weaknesses. Only then did I discover the true hero of this day.

Legal Requirements for Associations in Cuba

Cubans have a constitutionally recognized right of association. But it is necessary to distinguish between constitutionally endorsed rights, and state recognition of the legal status of an association as an entity capable of assuming rights and obligations. That recognition is what enables an organization to exercise its legal capacity.

In Cuba, associations are formed in accordance with the requirements of the law. The Law of Associations (Law 54 of December 27, 1985) and its regulations set out those particulars, and once an association complies with them, it is recognized as a legal entity.

Nevertheless, for an association to come into existence, first it is necessary for the entity to be formed, and second, it must receive state or legal recognition. The first step is linked to the will of those concerned, to the act of a group of people coming together to achieve a goal, or setting aside some asset to accomplish a particular purpose.

The law does not impose any requirement that future members of the association show their intention of creating the same thing, it does not require that they demonstrate their willingness in a public writing, following the norm.

The second point refers to the fact of legal recognition, which is the last stage, the registration of the legal entity. Its legal existence is accredited with the certificate prepared by the Registry where it is issued (Article 18 of the Associations Law), which indicates the purpose of its registration. The legal system will not recognize any group as an association that is not listed in the Register of Associations.

To be legally constituted, the group needs the authorization of a state body, which requires an investigation of legality and appropriateness. The permit is a discretionary administrative act issued by the administration (Ministry of Justice) at the request of a party, in this case, of the founders or group of people interested in fulfilling a societal goal.

The law allows associations only for certain purposes: scientific, cultural, artistic, athletic, friendship and solidarity, and any others that promote goals of social interest. The formation of political organizations is implicitly prohibited within the constitutionally-sanctioned single-party system.

It excludes social and mass organizations, churches or religious associations, agricultural production cooperatives, credit and services cooperatives, and others (Article 2).

The State recognizes the validity of the goal and the opportunity that arises from an independently functioning entity in the life of society. It evaluates the entity’s social, non-profit aim. Among the necessary elements it takes into account is its social legacy, which becomes the most important element for its constitution.

Translated by: Tomás A.

The "Castro List"

These have been remarkable days. From the time it was known that the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos had on his agenda the topic of releasing a significant number of political prisoners, people started to sit up and take notice.

Never before has a telephone been as important for me.  The uncertainty was making me crazy. Neither the mobile nor the land line were ringing. Surrounded by crackers, roasted peanuts and mango juice I sat glued to the Sony shortwave radio, listening the soccer games and waiting for the good news.

In the dissident sector there existed — and does exist — many doubts and misgivings.  And no wonder. The behavior of the Cuban government over the last 51 years is hardly something that inspires optimism.

Saturday, July 3, the rumors started.  Everyone was talking about the famous list. We called it, “Castro’s list.” The number that it comprised was like a charade. Some were saying no more than five would be freed. Others swore that a good sources assured them that all the prisoners of conscience would be out on the street.

Speculations came and went and I stayed in touch with the different families of the political prisoners. No one knew a thing. Not even a single figure of the opposition. Until the independent journalist Pablo Pacheo, sentenced to 20 years in April 2003, gave to a reliable tip.

Pacheco called me every week from Canaleta prison in Ciego do Avila. That afternoon it was raining cats and dogs in the capital and a tiny voice told me, “Ivan, be discreet, but officials from State Security told us that our stay in the cells is a question of days or weeks.”

But the news came as a surprise to me and in the least expected way, on Wednesday, July 7. While biting my nails to the quick watching the semifinal match between Spain and Germany, because the Iberians’ goal wasn’t coming, the telephone rang.

It was my mother, the journalist Tania Quintero, from the prudish and distant Swiss city of Lucerne, in a choked voice, telling me that the reporter in Cuba’s TVE just reported that the 52 remaining prisoners from the Black Spring of 2003 would be released.

I told her I would call back in ten minutes.  I wrote a note and read it over the phone. Then I called the various families who still didn’t know. Lidia Lima, wife of the economist Arnaldo Ramos, listened to me in silence. I thought the call had been cut off. But she was crying so hard she couldn’t speak.

Then I called to Ciego de Avila, to Oleidys Garcia, Pacheco’s wife. She was watching the soccer match with Jimmy, her 11-year-old son. She was mute. And then started to cry, nervously.

She said it didn’t matter if her husband was on the list. “What matters is that a new road has opened up…” she was telling me, when Puyol got a header, Spain scored, and we were so excited we decided to talk again in a minute.

In this hot and humid Havana, the names on “Castro’s list” are still unknown. The secrecy and paranoia is typical of the Cuban government.

Although no dissident should ever have been imprisoned, the gesture is appreciated. Palm branches for General Raul Castro, the Catholic Church, and the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos.

Perhaps this news will help to save the life of the dissident Guillermo ‘Coco’ Fariñas. People close to Fariñas told me he was going to suspend his 125-day hunger strike.

Moratinos, a man who has been and continues to be sharply criticized by the opposition on the island and also from exile, despite his innumerable efforts to free the political prisoners, and to see Cuba once and for all on the democratic path, fulfilled his promise when he said the month of July would bring surprises.

Iván García

Photo: AFP

Freedom to Decide? (II)

Most Cubans belong to social and mass organizations. While they don’t expressly declare their willingness to belong to them, neither do they argue against it. This fact leads to the presumption that consent in these cases is inferred or assumed.

There are a number of assumptions, however, that exclude consent because of a gap between what we really want and our declared will, as in the case of agreement with mental reservations.

One of the duties of members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) is to keep and defend socialist legality. We imagine a mother who participates in the activities of the CDR; but she tolerates her daughter being a prostitute or allows her son to operate on the black market. Obviously this kind of conduct is a sham, very common in our society.

There is another hypothetical where although what is said and what is meant are in perfect concordance, the consent is vitiated by intimidation. This is the case when a citizen feels a rational and well-founded fear of suffering some wrong to his person, property or family, if he does not belong to these organizations.

One of the requirements to enter into an employment relationship with the State, the only legal employer in the country, is to present a document issued by your CDR that attests to your conduct and reliability. A negative assessment of your conduct implies that you will not get the job you want or need.

This is one of the means that the government has to annul an citizen’s ability to decide and attain self-realization. It is a form of personal intimidation that compels the individual to belong to these organizations.

Paragraph 2, Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No person shall be compelled to belong to an association.” In direct violation of this principle, the Cuban government requires its citizens to belong to the social and mass organizations it creates.