Open Letter to a Confused Supporter / Miriam Celaya

Mr. Josep Calvet:

I have hesitated for some weeks to respond to comments that you have occasionally poured into our little forum, but recent events that will mark the fate of my country in a not-so-distant future, force me not only to answer, but also to do so publicly. My intention is, of course, to instigate debate while exposing how damaging the official propaganda has been and continues to be, and how much distortion it creates in the minds of people, including those living in the so-called society of information and democracy. I lay as a premise that, although I feel that your comments have not been disrespectful in their design, they have indeed been so in their content, as I will make clear in this letter.

A fellow countryman of yours paved the way for me when you made some statements, among them, the “subtle” difference that exists between solidarity with the people of Cuba or with its government. At this stage of the game, almost everyone knows that both positions –support for the dictatorial government of the Castro brothers or for the Cuban people- are mutually exclusive, but you obviously have not heard. And you could not find out in any way because, judging by your approach, you – in the best of cases – have been a victim of the media’s misrepresentation and manipulation that you attribute to others in your comments; the revolutionary eloquence has made you dizzy, as indicated by various symptoms: I see that your comments are profusely dotted with those ingredients that the official Cuban discourse has created and disseminated in what we might call the “Manual for collecting foreign solidarity”; its first chapter containing a main tenet: anyone who is not in agreement with the Cuban government is “without doubt or appeal” an enemy, spy, mercenary, etc., at the service of the U.S. government, ergo, he is being funded by that country’s Treasury Department. That’s why this ideal Manual abounds in acronyms used as menacing and demonic accents, such as USAID and USIS, which, by (and only by) the grace of the olive-green verbiage, become per se crime, trial and sentence. “They are funded by USAID,” “they connect to the Internet from the U.S. Interests Section,” are phrases that are used irresponsibly as you do in reference to anyone who questions the government, without considering that, because of the repetition of that chant, the supporters of the longest dictatorship in Latin America have caused the arbitrary imprisonment of many brave Cubans and has contributed to the suffering of tens of thousands of Cuban families.

And, believe me, I make an enormous effort to understand you, because it is difficult to believe so much cluelessness and such fierce indoctrination. If you even admit to not having understood many of the clarifications made in the post “A Pause,” where I explained how I connect to the Internet and the limitations we have in Cuba in order to maintain a blog while facing official harassment, how can you pretend that you do not succumb to the official propaganda machinery that has all the resources and all the power? Yet, I will not allow you to pin attributes that don’t fit me: I do not receive funding from anyone or any institution (my blog, far from being a source of income, is an expense to me), though I reserve the right to accept the personal help of friends who have occasionally offered it to me. I do not connect, nor have I ever connected from the USIS, not because I consider it sinful, but because I have not had the opportunity to do so. I do not consider it shameful to try to find in alternative sites the information and communication opportunities that the Island’s government denies me.

I understand that you do not have much knowledge about Cuban history beyond propaganda and text carefully edited by the regime. If you knew more about this country and its heroes, you would not commit such an offensive blunder as to state that this revolution is Martí-like. Be informed that José Martí was decidedly against socialism and the Marxist ideas, and that he made clear his rejection in an article entitled “La esclavitud moderna” (Modern Slavery), which was how he defined such a system. I suggest you find and carefully read this article which, by the way, the Cuban government has never released here, and which most of today’s Cubans are possibly unaware of. It so happens that you are also sadly mistaken even about this fact, when you contradict the pronouncements of the historic leader of the Cuban revolution himself, who has stated in more than one occasion that he has studied Marx since his youth, and that he read his works during his incarceration (a vacation, by the way) of a little more than a year, after rising up in arms and attacking a military barracks and causing the deaths of dozens of Cubans. For a lot less, other Cubans have faced the firing squad for the sake of “revolutionary justice.” The revolution has not really been, as you absurdly say, “a humiliation” for the U.S., but has reduced millions of Cubans to the humiliating condition of slaves.

Another glaring blunder: the Cuban people did not “rise in arms.” The guerrillas that fought the previous dictator, Fulgencio Batista (another big shot not worth talking about, but a mere amateur compared to Castro), consisted of only a few thousand Cubans, although it is true that the revolution, in its initial years in power, had resounding and massive popular support. The ICAP*, meanwhile, has not “existed for fifty years” as you claim, but was founded in the 1970’s as an institution created to support the government, not the people of Cuba. But don’t be embarrassed by a wrong date, which is not all that important, nor elementary. It is not surprising that someone who believes that an example of great altruism and solidarity is participating in a harvest of cooking bananas that will feed revolutionaries and dissidents alike is confused. That’s scarcely a symbolic gesture. I know that we Cubans have the widespread reputation for making light of things, but be informed that many of us cherish our freedom infinitely more than fried plantains.

On the other hand, let me inform you, Mr. Calvet, that your farm sacrifice does not impress me. Since the early age of 12 until I was 17, for six consecutive school years, I had to participate in agricultural tasks, separated from my family for 45 days each year, incorporated into that monstrosity of the revolution known as the Field Schools. I could not enumerate the number and variety of foods and vegetables I harvested, weeded, fertilized and even sowed, and none of it meant any improvement in my life. Contrary to what many believe, what we need here is Freedom, not foodstuffs. Not all Cubans have the brains of a pig.

As for your comment about the Ladies in White, whom you rudely described as “a crude imitation” of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, it is a heinous insult. As woman, mother and grandmother, I will not let you get away with such a transgression. Dictatorships, whether right or left, remain dictatorships. The Argentine Grandmothers you mention deserve all of mankind’s respect and consideration, but, in equal measure, the Ladies in White have given the world in general and Cuba in particular an unforgettable lesson in dignity. Know that their struggle is more valuable than that of the guerrillas in the Sierra Maestra, because they have confronted the longest dictatorship in this hemisphere in the midst of the city and openly, not hiding in the thicket, not chasing after privileges and power, but demanding the release of husbands, brothers and children captive of the system, not with weapons, but with flowers in their hands, with truths and rights, not killing other Cubans, but marching peacefully through the streets, confronting the fascist hordes organized and financed by the government to suppress and beat them, and chanting a word that should be sacred to all human beings: freedom.

The Ladies in White have the extraordinary merit of being the first civic movement in the history of this country that has achieved an unprecedented victory against the government by sheer force of their will and of the righteousness of their cause. They do not need to imitate anybody, because they are authentic. Today, the Cuban government itself belies you and leaves you exposed for all to see.

I would suggest you go to the Official Cuban Gazette website to find out about the new law that grants the state the right to sell the land it owns (it owns virtually all lands) to construction companies for tourism purposes (Law-Decree 273, Articles 221 and 222.1, published August 13th, 2010), with 99-year leases and also to make sales with rights in perpetuity. It states, explicitly, that the law was enacted “For the purpose of expanding and facilitating the process of foreign investment participation in international tourism.”.

What The Gazette does not state is that this Law-Decree was created expressly to legitimize investments that some American companies are anticipating, in order to build more than a dozen golf courses for the exclusive tourism of millionaires, which is not, in itself, necessarily something negative, only that we citizens are excluded and do not have the right to invest or acquire land to participate in development plans of any kind. That is, we cannot be capitalists, but the state capitalism that prevails in this country gives itself the right to sell the country off in pieces, as if it were a birthday cake, with Cubans not taking any part in the festivities.

I do not know if Mr. Calvet will also perceive the subtlety that preferential buyers who will enjoy the privileges of ownership are precisely the “imperialist enemy” that attacks us, blocks us and harasses us, the same one that — so-called “illegally” — occupies the naval base at Guantánamo. The truly peculiar thing is that, if the base exists today, it is by virtue of an amendment that granted a foreign government the privilege of owning Cuban territory, promoted on the dawn of the twentieth century by an American politician. This new one, which gives away our country to American entrepreneurs and has been designed and imposed on the Cubans by the government of Cuba itself, is the “Castro Amendment.” Contrast this law with one published before it in the same Gazette, giving peasants the land they work and produce with their own hands “in usufruct for a term of 10 years.” It is not necessary to be an astute individual to detect who the owners of power in Cuba are codling, plus let’s not mention the mysterious fate of the proceeds from such sales.

As you can see, Mr. Calvet, the Official Gazette itself is responsible for confirming what “we, mercenaries” are saying. As you may see, additionally, it is a brazen impertinence for you to try to indoctrinate me about the needs of the Cuban people. Unlike the olive-green royalty that you so passionately defend, the same one who so anxiously share in the spoils of the country, I am part of this people, deprived of rights and hopes. How can you have the audacity to point out to the Cuban people what we need and against whom we need to fight? You are definitely clueless: over a century has passed since 1898, my good man, though I suspect that date means absolutely nothing to you.

As I stated at the beginning, Mr. Calvet, your fellow countryman has taken the responsibility to respond with dignity to your twisted interventions in this space. He gives you the benefit of a doubt; I wish I could do the same, but I keep some reservations, because if you allow yourself the suspicion of considering independent bloggers as paid by the U.S. government, you might be giving me the right to assume you are a paid employee of the discredited and despotic Cuban government, which is in the business of buying the world’s solidarity while mortgaging the present and future of this Island and of Cubans. At any rate, I appreciate your participation in this blog, but you lack the moral authority to judge those who are not in love with this government. If you have any intention to participate in this debate again, be truly respectful: do yourself a favor and get informed about the Cuban reality, arm yourself with arguments, and, above all, save yourself the slogans.

Sincerely,
Miriam Celaya

* Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples

Translator: Norma Whiting

September 9, 2010

Congratulations, Poet! / Regina Coyula

Manuel Díaz Martínez turns 74 today, one of the most important Cuban poets of his generation. If Manolo wasn’t my friend, he’d still be one of my favorite poets. As if that weren’t enough, conversations with him are full of anecdotes and humor; and when he turns serious, he’s of a great clarity and erudition, with that virtue of knowing much without being pedantic. As an homage on his birthday, I’ve posted one of his poems and I invite you all to leave him birthday wishes on his blog: diazmartinez.wordpress.com

Homeland

For Fabio and Grace

An expanse of land,

An arch of coast, a sea,

Some houses, some streets

Three or four rivers,

A pattern of rainfall,

A garden, some mountains,

Some frustrations,

And perhaps a utopia,

A stew, a song, a tree,

A somewhat moving history,

A way of saying things,

The aging parents

In a provincial patio,

Perhaps some siblings too

That complete the family saga

And some friends…

That and something more is homeland

If there is space for liberty there.

If there is no space, I prefer

to die from a distance.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

September 13, 2010

Brain Drains? / Rebeca Monzo

"Now We Are Going to Construct Socialism!"

I still haven’t gotten over my amazement upon hearing, on the short-wave radio, of course, the unbelievable declarations that would be made by the Guru of my little planet to a North American journalist: “The Cuban model can’t be exported, because it hasn’t worked even in Cuba.”

Of course, whoever doesn’t have a short-wave radio here, has neither heard nor possibly will hear about this, since the daily papers haven’t published such statements up until now. These took me back to those statements of December 27, 1986, when this very same figure said: “Now we’re really going to build socialism!”

At that moment, many well-intentioned citizens asked themselves: ‘So, what were we doing until now?’

I think that it shows a great lack of respect, or sensitivity, to make such assertions. If something isn’t working and is detrimental to no more and no less than 11 million people, not counting the almost 3 million in the diaspora, how is it possible that it’s insisted upon? What consolation can be given to those millions who’ve lost relatives, because they’ve died trying to cross the sea, or who’ve been forced by these very measures (which don’t work) to leave the country, leaving behind elderly parents and even children, in search of freedom and better opportunities? And what can be said of those of us who, for a wide range of reasons, haven’t wanted to leave the country and have lost our youth waiting for change? I believe they’ve had 51 years to prove that the model wasn’t working, so, why insist on keeping it going at all costs?

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

September 10, 2010

Olivia / Yoani Sánchez

My friend Miguel left, tired of waiting for a sex change operation, and knowing full well that he was never going to get a better job. He left the red wig to a friend who worked in the same hospital and sold, illegally, the room he had in Luyanó. The day he asked permission to leave he put on a suit and tie, which made him roar when he looked at himself in the mirror. At the immigration office he tried to keep his hands off the fold of his trousers, so that the last gasp of homophobia wouldn’t spoil his departure.

He escaped before they closed the river of Cubans which, for a brief time, flowed to Ecuador. His was one of some 700 marriages contracted between citizens of both countries, many of them with the sole objective of obtaining residency in that South American nation. Miguel paid the equivalent of $6,000 and in return got a wedding in Havana with a woman from Quito he’d known for barely a couple of hours. He faked pictures of the honeymoon, paid an official at the Ministry of Public Health so he would give him his “release”and even handed over a little cash so that his white card — the exit permit — wouldn’t be too delayed. He pretended to be what he was not which was easy for him, because those of us born on this Island are good at putting on a mask.

Now he expects difficult times because the Ecuadorian police have started to investigate the 37,000 Cubans who entered that country in recent years. He doesn’t seem scared, however. He is gay, one of those they loaded into police trucks under a rain of blows, and for years he was also monitored for his critical views. After experiencing both edges of the blade of censorship, nothing frightens him. When called to testify — if he is called — he will go wearing the red dress he always wanted to wear here. Nobody is going to stop him from gesturing while they interrogate him, because already Miguel has escaped that Miguel he once was, to become — happily — Olivia.

September 13, 2010

The Third Issue of La Rosa Blanca Magazine / Henry Constantín

This is the third issue of La Rosa Blanca, you have to walk a lot in order to publish it, and walk even more to deliver it in a country mute and without internet. Every issue of La Rosa Blanca, which I’ll post in this blog as I’ve done before, since I don’t have any effective way to post it someplace else, is the sum of a few eventful trips to collaborators’ houses and loyal readers.

This magazine is also the end of many trips. In the province of Las Tunas, up north, I meet Christian essayist Frank Folgueira at his house, a stubborn historian focused on the history of another one of the towns – Manatí, which is also my birthplace – hit by the plague that is just ending. As if it were a national affliction, in Encrucijada de Villa Clara, in an old high roof wooden house from before the revolution, I meet Gabriel Barrenechea, suffocated by the gray vigilant atmosphere of his village, writing his stories and copious economics and political essays by hand.

Havana… and fourteen long flights of stairs to reach the apartment of two friendly Cubans, Yoani and Reinaldo, because La Rosa Blanca publishes some articles from Generation Y, which needs from channels like this one to be read in Cuba. Afterwards, down Tulipán street, we turn and continue for a couple of streets, in Nuevo Vedado, and underground – and under the sea which floods this island – we meet Rafael Alcides who breaks his self-imposed silence to offer us a few articles of unheard of tidiness.

A bit farther away, where Vedado and Downtown Havana meet, Yoss delivers dozens of writings of every kind, but always weighing more towards fantasy and science fiction, giving a breath of fresh air to the seriousness that national reality imposes on the magazine. I come back to Camagüey, and go to the only house where everything is discussed, freely and thoroughly, located in Agramonte, and I meet with the intellectual Rafael Almanza going through one of the thousands of pieces that make up his work.

Maybe, instead of coming back to Camagüey, I go from Havana to Pinar del Rio, where Dagoberto Valdés and Karina, Virgilio, Jesuhadín, Néstor, Servando and the others patiently try to inculcate a culture of tolerance in all Cubans. Or I’ll go to Bayamo, where my friend Ernesto Morales, who’s been just expelled from his post working as an official journalist – he’s finally managed to get that badge of recognition of his honesty and bravery – writes and blogs in the tense and isolated environment of the eastern provinces; or maybe to visit Elia, in Las Tunas, in search of Carlos Esquivel’s poems, a miraculous writer who has resisted the temptation of the big cities, and refuses to leave his indolent land.

From the work of all of them, and many others, comes La Rosa Blanca, which will later spread from computer to computer, from memory to memory, and even through old three and a half inch floppy disks, with the same silent fragility which characterizes its making. Here it is.

La Rosa Blanca 3.pdf

Translated by: Xavier Noguer

September 5, 2010

The Virgin of Charity of Cobre / Dimas Castellanos

After a mass at her shrine by the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre began on 8 August a pilgrimage across the country, with a message of dialogue and reconciliation, which will run until 10 December 2011.

The precession, commemorating the 400th anniversary of her appearance in Cuban water, coincides with a profound structural crisis provoked by the failure of the totalitarianism that monopolizes the politics, economy, and communication media, and eliminates civil society and independent civic spaces, generating a series of losses reflected in the despair, apathy, generalized corruption and the exodus; its repair requires a huge dose of spirituality. In this context the pilgrimage of the patroness of Cuba begins, through all the towns and cities of Cuba, with a message of freedom and love, two concepts which represented a turning point with Christianity, and without which it would be impossible to overcome the current crisis.

Freedom, the birthright of man, establishes that the inner conscience of human work is the freedom granted by God. Love, understood as a relationship that abandons the narrow context of only the Jewish people to include all men and all peoples, becomes an instrument of transformation to create a community where all men are brothers. So, live, the first condition of the concept of Christianity, stands as the highest form of free will, while its infrastructure is freedom.

The worship of Mary had earlier manifestations in Cuba but with the appearance of the image of the Virgin of Charity, floating in the waters of Nipe Bay — found by two aborigines and a black man — which was identified as Mary by the Spaniards, as Atabey by the aborigines, or as Oshun by the natives of Africa, deities associated with water, the sea, the moon and motherhood, which represent the universalization of love. Attributes that, from its appearance, turned it into the most Cuban of the Mary devotionals and part of our country’s history as evidenced by the following facts:

In the mines of Cobre de Santiago del Prado, site of the Shrine of Charity, history locates the first mass rebellion against slavery and the first liberation of the slaves. In 1731, due to mistreatment, the slaves in the mines in the surrounding mountains rose up to defend their freedom. In this conflict, Pedro Agustín Morell de Santa Cruz, a leading figure of the Catholic Church, not only acted as a mediator between the Governor and the rebellious slaves, but sided with the latter. Seventy years later, copper miners, led by Father Alejandro Ascanio, gained their freedom by royal decree, which was read before the Virgin, 19 May 1801.

Carlos Manuel Céspedes, on taking the city of Bayamo on October 20, 1868, celebrated a solemn mass in honor of the Virgin, putting his revolutionary army under her protection and in November of the same year he went to her Shrine to present her his arms and honor and to ask her in her position as Queen and Mother of Cubans, for the freedom of Cuba.

In the war diary of Ignacio Mora, one of the patriots of Camagüey who rose in November 1868, he wrote on September 8, 1872: “The fiesta of the Virgin of Charity of a delirium for him (the people). Without eating, they dedicate these days to looking for wax to have a mambí-style fiesta, that it they light many candles and assume that the image of the Virgin is present. On all the farms there is not a single cooking fire, only candles lit for the Virgin of Charity!”

General Antonio Maceo, who during the war would wear an insignia with the image of the Virgin, once told his men: “We must all give thanks to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, because she is also fighting in the jungle.”

At the conclusion of the War of Independence, representatives of the Liberation Army were excluded from the signing of surrender, which is why the General Calixto Garcia ordered his General Staff, with General Agustín Cebreco at the front, to advance to the Shrine to celebrate the triumph of Cuba over Spain in a solemn Mass with a Te Deum at the foot of the statue of the Virgin, a fact regarded as the Mambisa Declaration of Independence of the Cuban people.

In September 1915, a group of veterans of the War of Independence led by Major General Jesús Rabí, asked Pope Benedict XV to name the Patroness of Cuba and September 8 as the date of her celebration. The petition argued: “…(because) in the heat of the battles and major events of life when death was closer or we were nearer to despair, there was always a light dissipating any danger, or consoling water sprinkling for our souls, the vision par excellence of this Cuban Virgin, Cuban by origin and by secular devotion and Cuban because… having proclaimed our soldiers, all of them praying to her for victory, and for the peace of our unforgotten dead.” The request was granted by papal bull.

Fermín Valdés Domínguez, a close friend of José Martí, said: “The miraculous Cuban Virgin of Charity is a saint who deserves my respect because she is a symbol of our glorious war.”

For these reasons in December 1936, by delegation of Pope Pius XI, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Bishop Valentín Zubizarreta, crowned the statue of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre facing Santiago Bay. Between 1951 and 1952, as part of the fiftieth anniversary of the Republic, the Virgin made her first pilgrimage around the island. In November 1959 her image was moved to Havana and placed on the altar of the José Martí Plaza to celebrate the mass of the closing of the National Catholic Congress. In 1977, Pope Paul VI elevated the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity to the dignity of a Basilica. In 1998, Pope John Paul II crowned the Virgin of Charity of Cobre a second time, where he said: “From her sanctuary, not far from here, the Queen and Mother of all Cubans — without distinction of race, political opinion or ideology — guides and sustains, as in the past, the steps her children to the heavenly realm and encourages them to live in a such a way that authentic moral values will always reign supreme in society, which is the rich spiritual legacy inherited from our elders.

With a historical and divine foundation, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre is an enormously valuable spiritual force in our history. Like a supporter for a phenomenon as painful as childbirth, her presence is significant at the moment of delivery. For all these qualities, for the fact that she is Cuban, that is for her identity with and belonging to the culture of Cuba, the image of Mary personified in the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, is with is, speaks to us, unites us and fills us with the strength that emanates from faith and from hope, love and freedom. Hence, the relevance of this pilgrimage in this critical moment of our nation’s life.

September 9, 2010

PRINCE CLAUS AWARD FOR YOANI SANCHEZ / Intramuros

It is the fourth time a Cuban has received this international recognition.

By Dagoberto Valdés

The renowned Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez has been chosen to receive the prestigious Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development, one of the most prestigious on the European continent. The award will be bestowed in December, 2010.

The Prince Claus Award was established in 1997 in honor of he who gave it its name and heritage, Prince Claus, the consort of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Each year a select and competent international jury is convened in Amsterdam by the Foundation that bears the same name, a leader among the sociocultural NGOs, which is devoted specifically to promoting cultural diversity in developing countries. The top prize is awarded in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on December 8, to mark the birthday of the late prince, and the ten other awards are presented in the Embassies of the Netherlands in the respective countries of the winners.

Yoani Sanchez has received one of these ten awards for her work as a communicator, and her educational efforts to develop citizen journalism in the difficult conditions in Cuba. Yoani has received numerous international awards among which are the Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism, she has been chosen by Time magazine as one of 100 most important people in 2008 and, almost coincidentally with the distinction of the Netherlands, Yoani has just been chosen among the 60 personalities in the world who have promoted freedom of expression, by the International Press Institute (IPI) on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of this institution.

Cuba continues to receive the attention of the Prince Claus Fund; this is the fourth time its International Jury has awarded this important prize to a Cuban. In 1999 the magazine Vitral of Pinar del Rio, received the top prize shared with the Qatari television network Al Jazeera and the Algerian-French playwright Mohamed Fellag. In 2008 the versatile plastic artist Tania Bruguera received a Prince Claus Award at the residence of the Embassy of the Netherlands and in 2009 another of these awards was received by the editor, critic, translator and cultural animator of the Criterios Center, Desiderio Navarro. Again, it is Cuba that wins and is recognized for the plurality of its culture.

Yoani, who is a permanent contributor to our magazine, receives the congratulations and support of the entire Coexistence project team, many of whom know her. She deserves not only the prestige this laurel brings to her name from the Foundation that awarded it, which has been dedicated for over a decade to the promotion and development of the most rich and fruitful expressions of the cultures of people all over the world.

September 9, 2010

Excitement / Regina Coyula

My uncle Fernando Pérez-Puelles is 99, and save for some thick-lens glasses because he doesn’t want to have cataract surgery, he is divine, with a vitriolic personality but a great nostalgia for Cuba. Fernando has lived in Miami since 1961 and yesterday he called on the phone, very excited; a little cryptically, he said he understood that he’d be coming back here soon, because according to the news in Miami, the fall of the government was a matter of weeks.

Not as soon a my uncle would like, nor a long as I myself calculate, but beware. Fernando, from Young Cuba, saw the government of Machado fall, from the 26th of July Movement he saw Batista’s government fall, who knows if his longevity will allow him to see the fall of the current government.

Meanwhile, Fernando is making plans to buy the house in Manatí where the Pérez-Puelles spent their childhood. A wooden house that only exists in Fernando’s nostalgia, because successive cyclones passing through the country have done away with it. As I see it, it could be Fernando who rebuilds it.

September 12, 2010

A Problem of Sizes / Fernando Dámaso

Socialism is so rigid it is practically impossible to reform it. It is like a straitjacket imposed on society the minute it begins, and afterward we are forced to live with it, ignoring any development of change in sizes.

  1. A conception less orthodox and dogmatic would understand changes, and at least go from a Small to a Medium and then to a Large and Extra Large, avoiding the annoyance and in the end the tearing.
  2. But this is like asking for the impossible. And Marti, with his foresight, warned against the dangers of socialism. It’s just that, as in many other things, we forget his warnings and fall, and continue to fall, into mistakes he warned us against.
  3. There is no doubt that the ideas of Marx and Engels, as a theory, attracted and do attract as many intelligent beings as fools. Developed in their private offices and German breweries and London pubs, which is not meant as a criticism, fortunately they never applied them in life, assuming them to be Utopian.
  4. Our great disgrace has been the continual enforcement of these social models. Each one in its way, to a greater or lesser extent, in different eras, has demonstrated its failure in the real world.

September 11, 2010

Marambio Has Nothing to Fear / Laritza Diversent

In the Cuban legal system there is no procedure that allows president Salvador Allende’s ex-bodyguard to testify as an accused before the Chilean prosecutor.

He will be judged according to Cuban law and within the national territory, in person or in absentia. If he returns to the island to respond to the accusations, he can count on serving his sentence in his own country, if there are treaties to that respect between the two nations.

Not withstanding the foregoing, the official summons issued by the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) and published in the Official Gazette, the organ of dissemination of government laws and acts, does not meet the formal requirements of Cuban procedural law. Normally the Cuban authorities, in their procedures, act on their own irrespective of the legality.

In the summons to Marambio from the prosecutor, are: his name, surnames, address of the one summoned; the reason for the summons; the day he is required to appear and the consequences of failing to do so.

However, the summons did not state the place nor the time the leftist businessman must appear, requirements of the law. Nor was it authorized by a judicial authority. The provision requires that the “the summons is issued by way of a certificate sent by the secretary” of the court in the matter.

In the case of a judicial proceeding undertaken without observing the provisions of the Law of Criminal Procedure, it is established as invalid, under Article 86. MININT’s own note refers to this provision. This, at the same time clarifies that if the person summoned appears, the summons becomes legal.

Finally, it is clear that the arrest order has international repercussions.

The publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba of both notes as required, is a prerequisite for the declaration of non-compliance and the trial an absentia, in the case of an accused who is outside the country.

The Cuban judicial system provides for the continuation of the proceedings against the accused declared in non-compliance until its final resolution, in the case of crimes against the fundamental, political or economic interests of the nation.

Marambio has no reason for fear. The revolutionary government has no intention of pursuing the international businessman who, thanks to his business dealings on the island, managed a group of companies moving more than 100 million dollars annually. It’s true, he knows he cannot return and lose everything he had and enjoyed here.

September 8, 2010

Are There Guarantees in Cuba for Marambio? / Laritza Diversent

Another issue is to certify that the proprietor of the International Network Group(ING) will have his guarantees respected. One of the managers of “Alimentos Rio Zaza,” the private company formed between the Cuban Government and Marambio was the 59-year-old Chilean Roberto Baudrand. He was under house arrest in Cuba and endured strenuous interrogation sessions. In April, he was found dead at his apartment.

The Cuban autopsy, accepted by the family of the deceased, certified that the cause of death was due to respiratory failure combined with the consumption of drugs and alcohol. There is still doubt if the death was due to accidental death or to suicide.

With respect to whether the criminal process against Marambio will take place in part in Chile, I have my doubts. The questionnaire with 21 questions presented to the businessman by the Cuban authorities, is a different process. In this case, his answers are that of a witness.

In the investigation other directors of his companies in Cuba are implicated, accused of paying bribes, embezzling funds and diverting resources outside the country. Marambio was linked to the corruption scandal that involved the director of Institute of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba (IACC) and Major General Rogelio Acevedo. Lucy Leal, director of ING, was arrested and is being investigated.

Cuban procedural law provides that when the witness resides outside the national territory treaties between the two countries, if any, will be observed. If there are no treaties, formal letters through diplomatic channels will be sent, according to international practices.

The proceedings, the summons and the indictment, officially published by the Cuban authorities, are formal procedures, not administrative ones as believed by the lawyers for the Chilean businessman.

September 7, 2010

Marambio: Accused or Witness / Laritza Diversent

The subpoena and indictment prepared by the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) against the 63-year-old Chilean businessman, Max Marambio, has raised innumerable questions. The first of these is what would happen if the close friend of the eldest of the Castros decided to return to the island.

The chances that the authorities would put him in jail, as a preventive measure, are high. The criminal proceeding against him is in its preparatory phase, when the investigation occurs, the legal facts are described, and so on.

They also want to assure that the defendants show up for the day of the trail. Given that “The Fat Man,” as Marambio is known in Cuba, lives outside the country, provisional detention would be the most effective assurance.

Another question is whether Marambio’s attorneys can travel to Cuba and represent him in the investigation being carried out against him. In order to be named as a defense attorney, under the Cuban system, the individual must be part of the process.

This would start when the person is the object of a preventive measure (pre-trial detention, bail, etc.). It means that you must first appear before the instructor (similar to a district attorney) as required and testify regarding the facts alleged against you. After this your attorney is appointed.

The Chilean courts returned the warrant to Cuba, citing errors that prevented their compliance with it. For example, the lack of clarity regarding Marambio’s situation, and whether he is a witness or a defendant.

The note published by MININT in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba, however, expressly lists Max Marambio as the “accused” for the crimes of Bribery, Acts Detrimental to Economic Activity, or of Procurement, Embezzlement, and Falsification of Bank and Trade Documents, and Fraud.

There is no doubt, the businessman is called as a defendant. It’s worth mentioning that Cuban law does not provide for the presence of a lawyer during questioning, nor in the obligation to instruct him in his rights. For example, there is no duty to declare the charges against him, which can be done at any time or as many times as desired.

September 6, 2010

Justice Minister Names Legal Representatives / Laritza Diversent

The Justice Minister Maria Esther Reus González, issued Aug. 6, Resolution No. 215, which names two counselors at the Ministry of Justice (MINJUS), Dr. Diego Fernández Cañizares Abeledo and Attorney Nelia Caridad Aguado López, experts from the ministry, to act without prejudice to its final completion, in the administrative proceeding brought against her, before Second Civil and Administrative Board of the Provincial Peoples Court of the City of Havana by independent jurists.

Attorney Wilfredo Vallín Almeida, president of the Cuban Law Association, a union of dissident lawyers, asked the MINJUS Register of Associations on April 7, 2009, on behalf of his organization, for a certification which the state agency never issued. Reus Gonzales, designated by the Council of State in March 2007, is empowered to direct the operation of the National Registry of Associations, and to guide and monitor government policy on partnerships and foundations.

Counsel Almeida Vallín filed a complaint with the People’s Provincial Tribunal of the City of Havana, regarding its administrative silence before the Appeal submitted to the Minister, which still has not been responded to in accordance with the provision of Law No.54 “The Associations Act.” Last 28 July, the head of MINJUS received a summons from the tribunal requiring her to name legal representatives.

September 9, 2010

The Times of the Cuban Model / Claudia Cadelo

The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.

The Cuban model was not working for us even when I thought of it.
When the socialist block collapsed the model didn’t work, not even for us.
After much reflection, the Cuban model will no longer be working.
The Cuban model hasn’t worked, not even for Chavez.
Before me, the Cuban model had worked.
What I created as the Cuban model, failed.
The Cuban model will not work for us, not even when Raul makes changes.
It is possible that the Cuban model would not work, not even for us.
That the Cuban model has not worked doesn’t affect my visits to the aquarium.
If the Cuban model worked for us, I wouldn’t have created it.
If the Cuban model would have worked for us, I would have retracted just the same.
The Cuban model would never work.
The Cuban model would have worked in another dimension.
He who has published in Granma that the Cuban model doesn’t work, will be shot.
Work! Cuban model!

Image: Guama

Text from the cartoon:
– HAHAHA… It’s not working!
– Don’t misinterpret.

September 10, 2010