November 15: Chronicle of a War Foretold / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Translator’s Note: The screenshot above is taken from a social media post in 2021 by the Archipelago Collective. The essay below by Jeovany Jiménez Vega appeared on his blog on November 9, 2021, six days before the originally-scheduled date of a protest planned by the organization. 

15 November 2021
Civic March for Change

The regime’s response shows once again that the rule of law does not exist in Cuba, that they are unwilling to respect even their own constitution, and that they violate the human rights of the Cuban people. The regime’s response has made a mockery of the very chief justice Supreme Tribunal, who declared that Cuba would respect the right of protest. The regime’s response is filled with falsehoods, defamations, and lies. The regime’s response constitutes a crime. On 15 November our personal decision will be to march civically and peacefully. In the face of authoritarianism, we will respond with civility and more civility.


Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 9 November 2021 — Just a few days remain until D-Day, but for several weeks now every Cuban has been fairly certain about where and how he will observe November 15 this year: whether he will be content to water his daisies and swallow the usual swill served up by “Humbertico”* on Cubavisión, or whether, for variety’s sake — just to humanly do something different — he will heed that deep voice of his conscience that demands he defy his fear and take to the streets against the Thousand-Headed Hydra.

Unlike others, the Archipelago announcement was not launched from abroad by some émigré safe from the repressive police baton, but from Havana and other Cuban provinces by young people assuming that tremendous risk on their home turfs. This time the call did not go unheeded but rather found resonance inside and outside of Cuba to the point of mobilizing thousands of émigrés who, in more than fifty cities, will support the initiative on several continents that day. Feeling challenged, the regime unsheathed its sword and made full use of its machinery of propaganda, coercion, and terror, before which Archipelago, with admirable nobility, has not backed down and stands by its proposal, so the die is cast.

When the sun rises above the horizon next Monday [November 15, 2021] over this Island imprisoned by Castroism, it will do so over one of three distinct scenarios, the first of which is what I consider the most probable:

Some 24 or 48 hours prior to the protest, ETECSA will have perpetrated its usual digital blackout — due to a certain “unexpected” rupture caused by some solar flare, no doubt — which, along with selective cuts to key phone lines, will render various centers of insubordination incommunicado. Already by that time, the principal organizers will have been detained or confined to their homes, and the mobs of thugs and hooligans assembled from whichever barracks or military academies can join in the parade convened by the “cultural” authorities to fill the streets on precisely that Monday (what better day for festivities than a Monday?) will have been “spontaneously” organized with all that revolutionary tastiness that so typifies the regime’s moments of great unease.

The second scenario would be somewhat less likely: somehow the organizers would have foreseen the first scenario, managed to evade the repressors, and gone into the street without being stopped at the first corner by the political police. Since they would know in advance that they would be incommunicado, they would have agreed on an independent action that would not require feedback between the parties and each one would proceed according to a previously agreed protocol — of which their repressors would also very likely be aware — which would significantly reduce the chances of success. In both cases, there would be several sources of protest, but the lack of coordination would quickly take its toll with a net result of dozens of new prisoners.

Most improbable of all — it pains me to say — would be the third scenario, something more epic: the Cuban people, aware of their rights and willing to defend them tooth and nail, being definitively fed up with the brutal and unjustified poverty to which late-stage Castroism subjects them, massively support the call; they do not give in to whatever threat the henchmen have hurled, and once the confusion of that first moment has been overcome, they resist with courage in the streets. continue reading

Against all odds, the flood is diverted from the regime’s control, this time growing bigger than on July 11, and after the first attack by the hordes of repressors, the neighborhoods entrench themselves, resisting for days that turn into weeks and months; the protest evolves into organized resistance that eventually paralyzes the country to the point of making it ungovernable; the oligarchs of Castroism quickly lose the support of a large part of the army officer corps who are aware of the abuses committed against their people and of which they disapprove; the first units rebel, others quickly second the uprising, the situation worsens and only then does the world take the Cuban problem seriously. All the major international organizations speak out and the rejection of Castroism becomes universal, Havana is completely diplomatically isolated and more and more regular troops join the uprising until the main squares are taken. This is when the Castro clan and their henchmen try to flee but are arrested and handed over to popular Justice, a civilian/military junta forms the transitional government, and a free nation emerges in Cuba.

Although this would be the happy ending dreamed of by all, it would be better that we were pinched and awakened, because with autocracies as consolidated as Castroism, things don’t work that way. The Cuban dictatorship has invested too much time, and too many resources and malicious instruction manuals to have it all come crashing down after a mere couple of quakes. It would be naive to expect that the number of Cubans taking to the streets would surpass that of 11 July, given the impunity with which the rights of millions were trampled, and after the thousands of detainees and victims of battery, and the more than 500 prisoners whose individual sentences exceed a quarter century.

If this dictatorship knows our fears so well, it is for having been their patient gardener, planting them one by one, and, fertilizing them with cold cruelty, it has grown fat on them, and on them it has pinned all its hopes. Today, Castroism reaps the fruits of the terror that it fermented in our brain, and the harvest seems too bloody for us to suddenly uproot the deeply implanted evil. It is at times like these that we as a people pay the high price rendered to tyrants every time we join their ranks out of inertia: when we apathetically cast a vote, when we parade on May 1st, or wave innocent banners on some “glorious” July 26th; every time we go on a work mission abroad knowing that we would legitimize their cynical discourse; when we keep complicit silence in the face of an oppressed colleague, an unjustly condemned opponent, a decent neighbor who with dignity resisted that rally of repudiation. When this would happen — you, Cuban who now suffers — we would do nothing but issue a license to tyrants and dig our own grave.

Recklessness is worth as much as the reasons that prompt it, even anger is worthy, but what is worthless is the naivety of supposing that Castroism has been exhausted when it still has ample resources within its reach — paralyzing tendrils from which to reactivate conditioned fears — at a time when the democratic world seems to have turned its back on our drama. Hence, this hand-picked monstrosity continues to mock the norms of decency with surprising success, and on the permissive world podiums — along with analogous regimes — even manages to reserve for Havana a comfortable seat on the Human Rights Council of the indifferent United Nations, which knows nothing.

Archipiélago’s call to action has generated wide controversy among those who support it and those who, for the time being, opt for more conservative tactics. The former group responds to an irrefutable argument: we suffer from an unsustainable economic and social situation in a country that has collapsed under not only a health emergency but, above all, due to decades of government ineptitude that stiffen our entire productive fabric; Cuba is a country paralyzed by the same backward “fortress under siege” discourse**, where poverty and hopelessness have reached unfathomable levels. Therefore, these brave people have enough with this list of very justifiable reasons to launch a protest which, by the way, is their right as legitimately endorsed in the current Constitution.

On the other hand, those who disagree over the prudence of this launch also do so from an irrefutable position: lacking logistical guarantees and without a previous organization centered around visible leaders who can summon the people from clear and credible assumptions, with achievable goals, and under the protection of minimally effective foreign support from the Cuban diaspora and the international community, it will be extremely difficult to put the dictatorship in such a compromising situation as to extract lasting concessions or ultimately remove it from power.

These are not less courageous nor worse patriots than the others, no — I am personally aware of this — but they speak from the certainty granted by the experience of suffering in their own flesh the consequences of mistakes they are sensing today in this new call; they do nothing more than warn against repeating mistakes so that everything may end up redounding in benefits for the regime and in popular frustration set off, rather than foster, faith in future calls. The reiteration of frustrated calls would be fatal in terms of negative conditioning as it would generate a predictable erosion that would bog down the social psyche. The regime knows this and will play its best notes on that string, knowing that it would not be able to brutalize a rampant people and will first bet on exhausting our capacity of resistance – something also foreseen by this “skeptical” opposition that these days has been unafraid to play the role of spoilsport.

The incontestable evidence of facts supports this undoubtedly correct strategic approach. In practical terms, the reckless exits of UNPACU [Patriotic Union of Cuba] during several decades or the activism of other groups such as the United Anti-Totalitarian Front (FANTU) have been of little use, as were the multiple initiatives of the Estado de Sats or the exemplary resistance of the Ladies in White once their undisputed victory was consummated in 2010, among other laudable and even inspiring examples, but all of which have something in common: none has managed to erode the regime in its deepest foundations. From all this, one certainty can be drawn: any opposition initiative or strategy in Cuba seems doomed to failure as long as it does not achieve enough convening power to bring the country to a standstill in an indefinite general strike or something similar in scope.

Courage is not reprehensible, nor even is recklessness, when the warrior goes into battle armed with reasons to fight. But even the most just ones are of little use when a long war is launched from false assumptions, ignoring the real scale of the challenge, or from the unfounded naivety of underestimating the means and cruelty of the enemy, if a realistic vision of the whole is not achieved or when, with supreme naivety, one hopes to dialogue with a counterpart who has never buried the hatchet of war. Let us hope that on Tuesday, November 16, we will have finally learned this.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison 

Translator’s Notes:
* “Humbertico” – A diminutive version of the name Humberto. Cubans express affection or disdain for somebody by diminutizing their name. In this case, Jeovany is expressing his disdain for Humberto López, a presenter on Cuban Television and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

** “the same backward ‘fortress under siege’ discourse” – A reference to a motto, “In a besieged fortress, all dissent is treason,” adopted by the Castro regime shortly after the 1959 Revolution from Jesuit founder Ignacio de Loyola. Fidel and Raul Castro were educated by Jesuits in Cuba. 

Why Can Cuba Keep Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara Locked Up? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jiminez Vega in Havana’s Calixto Garcia Hospital.

Jeovany Jiminez Vega, 30 May 2021 — It was nearly a month ago that Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was arrested in this home and taken by force to Calixto García hospital in Havana, where he has been kept by Cuban State Security. The lying officials have published various manipulated videos showing a disoriented and confused Luis Manuel who seems not to know why he is staying in that place, and there even circulated an anonymous complaint from a supposed worker in that centre, claiming that Luis Manuel is being subjected to  — for which read tortured by — electroconvulsive procedures, which presumably would explain his evident deterioration.

Up to now, even Luis Manuel´s closest family are prevented from visiting, as well as any members of the Movimiento San Isidro, who are also victims of this onslaught, including all sorts of threats and retaliations, ranging from the typical police warnings up to house arrests lasting for weeks. Meanwhile, according to the official version, the activist has abandoned his hunger strike and presents normal vital signs.

Nevertheless, up to the moment of writing the leader of San Isidro remains a prisoner, an obvious contradiction which presents the obvious question: if Luis Manuel is presumably sane, and has abandoned his protest, why is he still being detained in isolation from his family and friends? Why, taking into account the seriousness of this outrage, similar to the imprisonment of the activists detained in the  Obispo Street protests  — against imprisonment of the artist, in 2021 has this not produced a more energetic reaction from the San Isidro Movement and 27 N Movement, and why the relative silence in the rest of the opposition on these scandalous cases? continue reading

On a superficial view of the matter, there are the immediate demands from Luis Manuel — that is, the ending of the hostility towards the activists and the return of their works – but this would be too partial a view which leaves some important factors out of the equation. For the government it could be convenient in tactical terms to accede to Luis Manuel´s demands; It would mean little to return his works to the activist in the face of the connotation that such a “compassionate” gesture would have for a Biden who, after sending strong signals, has now hit the brakes and is observing in standby — something that has Castroism on tenterhooks, even when it claims the contrary — because it would be prudent to resolve the case if only not to stoke the fire.

We should bear in mind that before this Havana had to deal with more serious crises, like Coco Fariña´s  hunger strike, following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2010; then the international press focussed its attention on the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) resulting in the demand for the freeing of the Black Spring protesters. That crisis had to be managed during Obama´s first term, under pressure of a European Union Common Position which closed off Havana from Europe.

In contrast, today, the government of Díaz-Canel is not being watched by international media,  and although it is sinking in an irreversible economic crisis, it is not under attack from the political point of view — in fact, since six months ago, the Cuban government is a member of the UN Council of Human Rights!¡¡??!

Today the world is not showing much interest in Cuba; other topics, such as the conflict in Palestine, the Belorusian situation, the increasing tension between the US and Russia and the trade war with China, as well as the the crisis in Colombia, are drawing its attention, and it is just in this inattention toward things Cuban where we find one of the keys to the current wave of repression by the Cuban dictatorship.

We can add another most important factor to this evidence:  the dictatorship´s continuing potential for repression. If we take objectivity as the starting point for our argument, free from catharsis and deceitful triumphalism which often portend imminent  breakdowns, we can note that up to this moment the dictatorship has not even had to arrange extreme measures — grand displays of special troops and the use of riot squads or regular military units — to control brief bouts of insubordination.

We cannot forget that this huge repressive apparatus which eagerly waits to spring into action — ignorant cannon-fodder, indoctrinated and blind — is the same one that advised and participated in the direct carrying out of violent repressive escalation during the grave crisis which, in 2017, shed blood on the streets in Venezuela: which served as a great laboratory and rehearsal where Castroism could try out its tactics of repression and extreme control, and, don´t be in any doubt, took careful note of it.

When we put these scenarios into perspective, we realise that, in spite of the unsustainable economic situation, today´s Cuba is still far-removed from the premonitory climate for a such a social explosion, which is hard for somebody to understand who takes a bird´s eye view of our reality and who has not lived beneath a Stalinist totalitarianism. The Castroism has had plenty of time to crystallise, and has been very aggressive and systematic in its indoctrination which now appear absorbed into the very genes of entire generations of Cubans, so that, until now, it has been enough for the murderous thugs to activate these conditioned reflexes by appealing with relative success to their supreme resource: the learned helplessness, that philosopher’s stone of every absolutist regime, which has become the best weapon of Castroism.

That is why it is not against Luis Manuel, nor against the activists of Obispo Street, that this battle is being waged today, but against 14 million Cubans. The dictatorship knows that this war is won or lost in the collective psyche, that is why it is towards that unfathomable and total fear that this pristine message is directed: don’t even try, it will never be worth the trouble of opposing it, you can do nothing against Big Brother. Dilute yourself in your condition of flag-waver in the shapeless mass, settle for that, your place and your destiny, where you will be the standard raised in my parades, my basic medium, that malleable statistic always useless when you think, the impersonal rag that I undo and reuse, just insect, protoplasm, gob that I spit out when I want. Do not claim anything, demand nothing, with you I will always do whatever the hell I feel like, and anyone stupid enough to oppose it will be made to pay dearly.

This aberrant and despotic handling of the Alcántara case in full view of all should be understood as a fully-fledged declaration of principles, with which the dictatorship lectures us and pursues humiliating us, delighted in its arrogance. It seems orgasmic to Castroism to perceive how its poison paralyzes us and it pleases it to see us curled up in our comfort zone while it tears another Cuban to pieces like one more line is drawn on the tiger’s skin. This impudent kidnapping is an open challenge to civil society and a challenge to the opposition to test how far they dare at this precise moment when social networks are just imposing their dynamics despite the low penetration of the Internet and systematic censorship, granting greater immediacy and visibility to increasingly numerous and daring complaints and citizen initiatives, something the regime warned against with great nervousness.

But it has never been the same to summon a demon as to see it arrive. Although it is true that the regime maintains police fences, that it has kept more than one activist in house arrest and carried out numerous arrests, I do not believe that it has dealt with all of them from time to time to the point of rendering inoperative that network which, to a greater or lesser extent, has spoken out publicly before and after November 27, and yet now, almost a month after the San Isidro leader was detained and in the midst of an insulting official silence, he has not achieved a sufficiently energetic projection that favours the release of Luis Manuel and the rest of the imprisoned activists.

Let us imagine with what orgiastic joy the executioners will at this precise moment look into the eyes of what remains of Luis Manuel after this torture, and ask him where are all those brothers of the cause who protested against Decree 349, or the group of rebels in front of the Ministry of Culture that day in November. Will the activists awaiting trial along with common prisoners since the Obispo protest not say anything either? How is it that the people of San Isidro, of Havana and of Cuba as a whole are not constantly asking the authorities wherever they are, or the medical management of “Calixto García”, or directly to the Minister of Public Health why that young man who fights for the usurped rights of all Cubans is kept imprisoned in a Havana hospital?

From all this it can be concluded that Cuba’s harsh fight for freedom cannot be undertaken with the passionate intensity of a sprint ending up in exhaustion after the first few meters, but rather as a long-distance race conceived in strategic terms, which can only be won with firmness and perseverance; it is a war that only the chosen ones can fight, those really willing to risk their skin and persevere til the end.

Once this wave of repression has passed, we will be taught how useless it will always be to try to build idyllic bridges between a subjugated people and their tyrants, we will have verified how little catharsis is worth and that dictatorships do not lie down with songs, but we will also be more mature and it will be more obvious to us that freedom will come only when this people vibrates in resonance with its dignity, assumes risks to conquer its rights and dares to jump into the void. When we have finally accepted that as the only way in which a people shakes off tyrants, only on that day – not one hour more, not one hour less – will we be able to sink the dagger in a definitive thrust to the heart of the beast. It will be just that day when you lose your fear, you Cubans who are listening to me, when the dictatorship collapses.

Artists and other protestors in front of the Ministry of Culture on 27 November.

Translated by GH

One Year After July 11: The Necessary Reminiscence / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 11 July 2022 — There are days in life that are never forgotten. Bright days, like when you are given a son, or as gloomy as the one that takes a loved one away from you; whether fateful or sublime these days will always be, like treasured jewels until the end of that steep road called life: blessed or fatal they will never be lived with indifference because after them, we will never be the same.

In the end, we all have had one of these days that marked us with impregnated fire under the skin as an indelible soul tattoo. One of those days was, for millions of Cubans, the past July 11th [shortened to “11J” by Cubans] a date that I cannot evoke in words without my chest knotting up and hundreds of reasons choking me. That Sunday the miracle took place and the dictatorship trembled in front of the cry of a jaded people.

That unstifled cry is still latent in millions of throats, although its echoes resonate as well from the depths of the jungle and from the volcanoes root that in Central America today are witness of the most dramatic exodus in Cuban history, the definitive condemnatory plebiscite that so many times were denied – 140,000 Cubans crossing the border since “11J” and more than 3,000 intercepted at sea should be an irrefutable proof.

Today the dictatorship fears the Cuban people more than ever. The proof is in the stubbornness with which they still opt for repression as the only alternative, although to honor the truth it must be recognized that they cannot offer anything else other than the hundreds of brutal convictions that since 11J raised our political prisoners to more than a thousand, with teenagers serving sentences that exceed their age – all under the worst cruelty aimed to punish families and neutralizing us all for terror – as well as the intensification of a Penal Code that has placed Castroism among the top of the most repressive of the world; an arrogance that has extrapolated the bad habits of the regime to the virtual media where the dictatorship dogs believe they have the egregious right to question you, outrage your dignity, and defame you exactly as they do on this side of their Matrix; also their cowardly beatings, their soldiers undercover in civilian clothes and their media assassins; in short, a year later we still have before us the same thousand-headed hydra thirsty for the same blood.

A day like today, I cannot write without feeling like a real coward in front of the testimonies of courage and integrity of that mother who does not allow herself to be blackmailed, who does not keep quiet even when she knows her son is in the arena with the beasts; of so many that from the bottom of a jail are today the most refined pride of the country. In the face of these stories, we cannot do anything other than leave our skin and take all the risks so that their voice is heard, so that the executioners cannot bury them alive, so that in the end it is worth so much pain and mourning.

I don’t want these lines turned into a sterile lament. Our long-suffering Cuba does not need cowards or mourners in this difficult hour, and it would be useless to implore mercy before the vile who despise us. What the country demands of us, a year after that sacred day, is that we keep the flame alive and that that burning cry of war never go out of our common throat.

Pride as a Philosophy; Brutality as a Currency / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Dr. Alexander Jesús Figueredo Izaguirre, disqualified from practicing Medicine in Cuba.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 3 December 2021 — Things are going very badly in a country where any citizen can be punished with impunity for exercising their right to speak freely, something contrary to the constitutional norms that have been pillars of democracy for the last 25 centuries. When this aberration becomes a frequent practice, we can be sure that we are facing a failed society and a lousy government; but when the abuse of power becomes a chronic habit that constantly threatens everyone, then we are in the presence of an aberrant dictatorship. This is, without a doubt, the case of Castroism.

But if such a country is doing very badly, how much sadder or more disturbing will it be if the most extreme sanction is applied to a doctor — disqualification from exercising his profession — for reasons unrelated to his professional performance, but also with the inexcusable aggravation of doing so in the midst of the worst health crisis in the country’s history. And I am no longer speaking in the abstract, I am now referring to a real case, which recently occurred under the late-Castro remnants of President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

A few days ago, Dr. Alexander Jesús Figueredo Izaguirre was disqualified from practicing medicine for issuing critical judgments on his social network against the misrule that ruins millions of fellow citizens. Some neophyte on the subject of Cuban could presuppose a misunderstanding here, but their doubts will be dispelled as soon as they know that something like this has already happened before: in 2006, two doctors from Artemisa were also definitively disqualified for something as natural and simple as submitting a salary demand signed by a group of colleagues to the then Minister of Public Health José Ramón Balaguer; of the case of Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, who died in 2017 in Florida under very strange circumstances; or when they learn that Dr. Eduardo Cardet, national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, served a three year sentence in Fidel Castro’s prisons.

There are also other renowned cases in this painful sequel to the dictatorship, such as that of Dr. Hilda Molina, exiled in Argentina, or that of other analogous although less well-known ones, counted by dozens, as well as thousands of other colleagues punished mercilessly for abandoning onerous work contracts in one of the official foreign Medical Missions maintained by the Cuban regime across half the planet which have have brought the regime hundreds of billions of those dirty, convertible and imperialist dollars that are both enemies and well tasty treats for the Castro palate.

For all this, on the Day of Latin American Medicine, it was so outrageous that the Cuban health authorities once again tried to hide with gilded tributes the harsh reality experienced 365 days a year by tens of thousands of workers and professionals from all medical branches in a Cuba that more than living are dying under the overwhelming boot of the dictatorship. continue reading

Empty talk will have been of no use if the same workers presented to the world as a saving panacea when they are exported as part of the Henry Reeve Brigade suddenly become irresponsible bums by the grace of a Prime Minister as soon as the regime tries to wash its hands to evade its obvious responsibility in the disastrous management of the COVID crisis – so scandalous was the reaction of the authorities to the brave denunciation of dozens of Holguin doctors – and meanwhile the Cuban doctor assigned to a ‘mission’ abroad continues to be treated like a true modern slave.

To bury this outrageous truth, the regime in Havana has worked hard during the reign of Raúl Castro before, and during Díaz-Canel’s pathetic buffoonery afterwards – since Fidel Castro did not even try – to export an image of change and renewal that has never been either sincere nor effective, nor in any sense real, since it has always sought to cover up its crime, gain time and delay as much as possible the arrival of authentic reforms that would shake the foundations of a totalitarianism of proven efficacy.

It is demonstrated that under Castroism any announcement of change must be understood as part of a broad spectrum of simulation, one more cynical delaying maneuver; pure showcase effect. Fifteen years have passed since that disturbing experience that fractured my life, but even before and throughout these five years, the intolerant and petty nature of a miserable regime that has not changed its tyrannical essence has remained an unalterable continuous line.

What changes are they talking about when new visible faces wear their masquerade and other hitmen carry out the same dirty work, when new dogs threaten these prisoners with the same arrogance and brutality as a backdrop? Let these recent examples serve as definitive proof, these broken lives as collateral damage that will hardly keep tyrants awake at night. After all, what will one more scratch on the tiger’s bloodied skin matter? Nothing, according to the superb logic of Caesar.

Yunior Garcia and Archipielago: Between Messianism and the Wall / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 22 November 2021 — Yunior García Aguilera was showered with caustic criticism once his departure for Spain was confirmed. These scathing accusations find their foundation, I believe, in that mental conditioning imposed by decades of Castroism according to which any departure from the country will necessarily be potentially final.

In a country where hundreds of thousands have left never to return, such reasoning implies for many the unfounded conclusion that his trip to Spain meant an irreversible abandonment of the Cuban political arena, even though he himself has clarified that he traveled on a tourist visa, that he has not applied for asylum and explicitly insists on his intention to return home.

That the young man from the Archipiélago platform did not stay in Cuba to risk it is a coward for that? Discounting the fact that he was absolutely prevented from doing so by the police siege, a good question for you who judge him would be: have you perhaps accompanied a Lady in White or the UNPACU in any of their recklessness when in those same streets they have defied the dictatorship?

It is true, Yunior did not immolate himself in front of his house against that mob to keep his word, but again I would ask you: have you witnessed, or been the victim of any act of repudiation? Do you know what it feels like? Did you ever come out in defense of your good opponent neighbor, decent people, against the mob to share in the retaliation like someone who shares a good cup of bitter coffee? If the answer to those questions is a presumable no…

Listening to the admirable clarity of Yunior’s convincing speech, the successful way in which he delved into the sores that hurt the dictatorship the most in his press conference in Madrid, I have ended up wondering if his activism will not be ultimately more useful to Cuba by his offering these devastating denunciations — amplified by this unusual media focus recovered after the relative oblivion that followed July 11 (11J) – silenced behind the bars of Castroism. continue reading

In this regard, I have few doubts, although his point of view regarding the US embargo on Havana deserves a separate comment: its lifting would not result in greater well-being for the people of Cuba because the embargo is not the cause of their poverty, rather the cause is Castroism. If the sanctions are lifted, it would only happen that the thieves would steal more and the policemen would be better armed, nothing more. On this point I consider myself unyielding.

The battle raised by Archipiélago is not part of a new war. In no way was the political opposition against Castroism born recently in San Isidro, nor last November 27 in front of the Ministry of Culture: this has been a long struggle that began in the mid-1980s, passed through the subsequent initiative of the Cuban Council, and has known a long trail of atrocities that the most notable voices of these emerging platforms, Archipiélago included, seem unaware of when they omit the most relevant names in their speeches.

Names of militants or opposition organizations that for decades have left their skin in the streets and prisons of Cuba — and to ignore that is something that can be read as an act of puerile arrogance, but also as an unhealthy intention to shift media attention to the frequencies of the dial less hostile to the regime — all of which raises justified suspicions, especially when later some light dialoguers prudently distanced from that frontal opposition propose with presumed candor the lifting of sanctions against Castroism.

One week from November 15 (15N), all that remains is to extract lessons and make a dispassionate balance of costs and benefits. Let’s start from the criterion that when someone makes a call to action that reaches a resonance like this, they must also be willing to assume the consequences of their act.  I think that once a war cry has been raised, one should return from battle with the shield or on the shield. My convictions dictate that once the ships are burned, Samson must burn on board with all the Philistines because a war, when it is authentic, must be launched irreversibly and totally or not be launched.

Before challenging a Stalinist-style totalitarianism such as Castroism, you must properly calibrate the monster you are facing. You should know that when you get in the way of a train it will be the crushing impact of a train that will hit you and never a bouquet of white flowers.

An absolute gain of 15N? Having confirmed that with Castroism the possibilities of an authentic dialogue are buried in stone, and furthermore that if the regime managed to frustrate the march it was only by resorting to the total militarization of the country — when not even the diva on duty, Humberto López, managed to evade the police siege — all of which reflects the state of ungovernability generated by the late-Castro gerontocracy. Today the political credibility of the dictatorship is wallowing with historic lows in the quagmire of discredit and if 11J was its final plebiscite of disapproval, the coup de grace that was missing was this 15N.

However, when I see Yunior calling to dismantle the romantic myth of the bearded vigilante that, from the stands of the outdated left, still harms millions of Cubans so much, while emphasizing that he does not aspire to become an idealized bronze statue, I refer once again to the core of the Cuban problem: that damned messianism, our constant need for a savior who arrives on the back of a glorious white horse to serve us the freedom of Cuba on a silver platter, as if we Cubans deserved that providential twist of fate.

It must be that after so many ration cards we end up believing that freedom will come to us, also free of charge, by cosmic predestination. It will be that by expecting everything from state paternalism we also end up waiting for the arrival of some chosen one to unload on him this responsibility that must touch everyone, which will always be, in principle, doomed to failure.

No one can handle such a load. For this reason, let us not blame Yunior García for the fact that Castroism subsists against the will of the Cuban people, nor should we blame the next elected party just because our laziness or our cowardice so determine.

The true solution to the Cuban problem lies in assuming our common responsibility, and it will come only when as a people we gain a mature awareness of our civic duty to the country, assuming all the pertinent risks and paying in advance, at the fair price, for each freedom conquered.


The Lifting of the Cuban Embargo: A Necessary Commentary / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 9 August 2021 — Sandalio, in your diatribe against the embargo, there are a couple of points which aren’t logical – nor ethical either, but let’s stay with logical – because they have been  definitively refuted by events.

The embargo is not all that inviolable when the Cuban government has never stopped trading or receiving tourists from more than half the world, including all of Europe, Russia, China, most of America and a very long etc.  But where you keep getting it wrong – and where your error is the most inexcusable and fundamental – is when you say again and again that “to go against the Cuban people is a terrible thing”, when you refer to the patriots who are opposed to the lifting of the sanctions against Castroism.

Sandalio, you need to get the message: Castroism and the Cuban people will never be the same thing. Please don’t mix up completely opposed concepts; forget your idea that those of us who oppose the indulgences of the the dictatorship, do it because we don’t love our people and we wish them ill, when it is totally the opposite. That is a typical Castroist argument, Sandalio. Don’t make me suspicious!

These patriots, among whom I am proud to be included, support the embargo and whatever sanctions are applied against the dictatorship which is oppressing us, because of their clear conviction that any resource which might enter Cuba resulting from international concessions will never be applied, NEVER! for the good of my people. continue reading

Instead of that, they will inevitably be controlled by the stupid Castroist oligarchy which, you mention, squandered, robbed and diverted to fatten up their secret accounts in tax havens, and ultimately, only used to strengthen even further its lethal repressive apparatus.

That is written in the Bible, Sandalio, and to close your eyes to something so logical and predictable makes one doubt a person’s intelligence and good faith, and makes me suspect their complicity with the regime, above all after the ample historic evidence displayed last July 11th (a day of mass protests in Cuba).

What more do people like you need, Sandalio,  than a July 11th, to make you understand that the hatred and grudge are not fed by my people but by those who beat them during those historic days??!! How many more people detained or dead do you need before you understand that there is an irreconcilable conflict between Castroism and my people, and that it is not the fault of the Cubans, whether inside or outside Cuba? When will you understand that Castroism always passed, passes, and will pass through the triumphal arch,  however many bridges of love are laid out to it because it is not interested in any authentic dialogue, which it will always be opposed to, by nature and essence.

Who were the miserable people, Sandalio, who hit and subjected to summary justice hundreds of semi-adolescents just for protesting, not giving a shit about their own current constitution, ratifying it as a dead letter.  None of this has anything at all to do with the embargo, and it would continue to happen, and worse things too, if this very day all the sanctions were cancelled and the regime felt more secure and legitimate because of it. To doubt that offends the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Cubans, Sandalio!

Nothing suggests that changing this strategy, maintained “without obtaining any results in decades”, will stop the dictatorship easily adapting to new circumstances and, in the face of every new proposal, bringing up new excuses and never granting us the rights we claim, above all because experience predicts the exact opposite: if it accepts new sources of finance from unwary creditors, Castroism will reposition itself and there will be nothing for Cuba but more repression every day, more poverty and less liberty.

It is not “the Americans”, nor any exiles, Sandalio, who stoke resentments and keep the majority of the diaspora totally angered with the Cuban government. No!! Those doing that are precisely the same Castroists for whom you are pleading forgiveness every time they mistreat, neglect and defraud us in every consulate; when they blatantly help themselves to part of every remittance; when they prevent us from freely entering and leaving our own country because of political bias, in fact, for the thousands of accumulated reasons counted up by this people during over six decades of absolutism, peasant! It is Castroism, and nothing else, that ruins our lives, and keeps our families as hostages in Cuba, Sandalio!

How dare you try to pass that most serious responsibility to people other than those who hold us up at the Cuban customs?  Just to insinuate such an idea is an aberration and frankly immoral, when you, like millions of Cubans, know that the only people guilty of this abomination are in Havana, not in Washington! It will be impossible to achieve this “brilliant future vision” that you invent in your mental masturbation, Sandalio, while every peaceful proposal from the Cuban civic opposition is received by the Communist Party/State Security duo as a provocation and ends up coming to blows.

Please don’t bang on any more about the idea that supporting the well-deserved sanctions against those who tyrranise us, they tease and shit in all this “good tone and optimism”, which outdated people like you hallucinate in your alienation is an act of treason, when the real traitors are in the Plaza de la Robolución (**play on words between Plaza de la Revolucion, a large square in Havana, where the seat of government is, and “robo”, meaning theft) waiting for people like you to do their dirty work.

Please, have some self-respect, Sandalio, it’s always a good idea to preserve a little dignity if you don’t want to remain a traitor to yourself … no matter how angry you paint yourself!

Translated by GH

Are There Any Apolitical Cubans? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Yordenis Ugás, Cuban professional boxer.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 20 August 2021 — I have always thought it is a lie that there are apolitical Cubans. When I hear a fellow countryman say, whether on the island, or in exile, that that politics are not their thing, and that when they send money back home and guarantee food on their family’s table in Cuba, they take for granted the universal order, I can’t avoid feeling I want to throw up. I always try to hide my feelings if I hear someone like that and try to avoid the topic in internet forums, because, if  I am confronted with it, any words I come up with end up being borderline offensive.

Life has taught me not to be too ready to judge; up to now my experiences have persuaded me in a thousand ways — sometimes quite bloody ways — that, at the end of the day, every person has his reasons for behaving in one way or another, but, above all, I have have come to the wise conclusion that I am not God to judge anybody; but even so, I can’t control the nausea. Really, I do not believe that within such a polarised reality such as in Cuba, living under the most despotic absolutism, that you can vegetate so that it doesn’t matter to you that four senile old men and their group of satraps decide everything in your life.

I could believe that a Swedish or Dutch person, or someone in Switzerland can take no interest in politics, but if you are a Cuban and some handpicked government moronic idiots decide what you can or cannot eat — and as a result what you can shit — and whether today you will or won’t have any soap to clean the one thing, or toilet paper to clean the other, if you can or cannot sell avocados from your garden or bring four fish back to your house, what music may or may not be broadcast by your radio station, what book you may read, what opinions you may or may not express in your Facebook wall and whether or not you are permitted to enter or leave your own country; that is, when you live in in a country where absolutely everything that happens in your life is decided by four thieves who matter nothing to you, I seriously cannot understand how something like that cannot matter to you.

It would be more elegant if you silent Cubans would just recognise that you are afraid. There is nothing bad in being afraid: it’s the most basic and necessary emotion; with good reason the first one we learn in life, and although I will always excuse fear, I will never understand cowardice, because the first continue reading

is an understandable vital reflex, but on the other hand the second needs to be assumed and understood as a philosophy of life which can end up destroying human dignity.

But it is completely shameful to recognise yourself as a coward! It follows that a Cuban who calls himself apolitical is in reality paying his tribute of fear to the dictator, while he shelters in his blanket of egotism, hiding from human misery within his comfort zone; converted into a non-person, giving up his self-respect and, with no dignity to defend, reduces the world to a plate of lentils, as if all that was needed to make life worthwhile was just to eat and to shit. In essence, there is no difference between such a vegetative existence and the scarcely organic routine of a pig or an insect.

I don’t know how they manage that, but there are plenty of them who do not even trouble themselves over the hundreds of young people who, since July 11th, are stuck, with cowardly convictions, in Cuban jails  — after all, when all’s said and done, they aren’t your family! — and don’t care either about the imposition of a diktat like Decree 35, [a decree penalising “ethical and social harm, or incidents of aggression” in social networks], among other gems of dim-witted Castroism. No, I simply don’t believe it is possible to be so insensitive, everything in me refuses to accept that it is enough just to down a Coca Cola of oblivion in order to live like that; it would be like listening to an Afghan woman who was unaware of the return of the Taliban, and that the reimposition of fundamentalism was just like water off a duck’s back. No! That is not ethically or practically possible!

That’s why I bite my tongue in the face of these unfeeling nonentities, but on the other hand my soul revives when I hear young people like Yordenis Ugás [Cuban professional boxer]  — a completely accomplished Cuban, an acclaimed sportsman, who entered world professional boxing history independently of the result of his next match with the star Pacquiao [Filipino  professional boxer] — who does not forget his valiant people and who, at the peak of his career, devotes the fight of his life to the humble Cuban people fighting for their liberty. The outcome of his match this Saturday in Las Vegas hardly matters: Cuba has already chosen its champion and awarded the prize to his proud son — the belt of dignity! [Ugás won.]

Examples like this move me, I recover my faith in the human race and can only feel full of pride. It’s impossible to avoid the contrast with the clown Cesar La Cruz [Cuban amateur boxer], set up as the Castroism front-man during his final in Tokyo: a miserable tambourine who betrayed his people when he attempted to legitimise some assassins who only a few days before had massacred their own people, to the same opportunists who one day not far from now will be thrown away like kitchen rags when they are no longer useful, as happened before with hundreds of our champions who now are dying of hunger in Cuba, abandoned in their faded glory.

There are definitely no apolitical Cubans: there are only decent Cubans, ready to place their grain of sand and pay the fair price for it, just as there are cowards who prefer to keep quiet because they are afraid, and  make out they don’t see the bottomless abyss into which the land where they were born is sinking. That’s all; there are no other pages to turn here. To the Cuban who reads this, you have to choose in  which of these two groups you will live your life; in a barbarism like Castroism, there are no other options. If you are offended by what I am saying, I don’t care any more — those are the bad habits that come with age, or perhaps the hangover from July 11th, I don’t know; but, do you know what? … it doesn’t bother me too much either way!

Translated by GH

Cristina Escobar’s Stupid Performance Before Cuban President Diaz-Canel / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, Ciudadano Cero, 31 August 2021 — Prefabricated speeches, like the one from Cristina Escobar to Mr. Handpicked [Cuban president Díaz-Canel] on August 19th — in a delayed transmission prudently edited by Cuban TV —  always drip the same deceit: the minutes fly by and you only hear the nonsense surrounding the edges of the wound, without ever getting to the centre of the ulcer, always carefully avoiding key ideas and words.

That is precisely the pathognomonic sign which points them out and exposes them as vulgar stupidities, and so we listened to this brand new “social communicator” say “government” instead of “regime,”  for example, or use the euphemistic “construction of omissions” to refer to the dreadful censorship imposed since forever by Castroism: bread should be called bread, and dictatorship dictatorship!

The pathetic nerve of a Miss Escobar making out it is all the plain truth when she then goes off on tangents, and not calling things by their proper names. Although there were other speeches, Escobar’s contained some real gems, for example, when she recognised that in Castroism’s Cuba “… any nobody can run the press …” and that the Communist Party leaders have always been “… deciding how to say things…”  continue reading

To put it more simply; she recognised that the official press in Cuba has as its ultimate aim washing the dirty laundry of its lying political demagogues — what a sacrilege to say that in this land of spotless leaders! — and ultimately to promote that “… place under siege mentality …”, that perpetual justification for the regime’s repressive practice sadly displayed in all its cruelty during a historic 11th of July [a day of protests against the Cuban government] which, as Escobar recognises, was Olympically ignored by the stupid press.

Miss Escobar will know that if her tambourine journalism didn’t bother to cover 11th of July, it was because it preferred to give in to its masters and turn its back on the people at the precise moment when they most needed it. At the exact minute when her “journalists” accepted, as the most natural thing, to guard the ICRT building (Cuban Institute of Radio & TV) from a hypothetical attack which never happened — since the people didn’t start any violence —  another much rougher building called the Cuban Nation collapsed under the seismic shock of its people across the whole length of this ruined country. Therefore, when those “communication professionals”, displaying their proverbial cowardice, buried their heads in the sand to avoid having to report the unpublished protests of the people demonstrating their contempt for the tyrants, they betrayed the very essence of their profession and renounced the opportunity of their lives to vindicate themselves after such disloyalty.

But no-one can deny our legitimate right to defence so, there, where the official press didn’t dare to go, the people’s reporting did go and recorded its priceless testimony in thousands of photos and videos which bore witness to the energy of this sea of humanity and also the brutality with which they were opposed, to smother their cry. Hence the indignation at the sugar-coatings of this naive lady when she called them “…terrible images…” — another euphemism to avoid saying brutal repression — to the disturbing repression: the heartbreaking cry of impotence and pain of a people who resisted solely with reason and naked fists against the brutality unleashed by the hordes. But her cynicism reached its lowest point when this chameleonic diva purported, with total unscrupulousness, to make out to be heroes the cowards who maliciously beat with impunity, who kicked, tortured and locked up the tens of thousands of young people that memorable 11th of July.

Such subservience is scandalous. When even the ones who should, in theory, denounce and condemn those who were guilty of the massacre, settle for complicity by appearing as fools in the farce, they completely confirm a couple of certainties: that the Day of National Dignity was, for the history of Cuba, the point of no return which closed once and for all any possibility of an authentic dialogue with the dictatorship, and which, in its fight for freedom, our people can only count on the one authentic journalism in Cuba today, the independent journalists, who every day risk their skin, their liberty, and their life in the street struggling through wind and rain, in an unfair fight, in order that the truth may come out into the light against the defamations of these circus bootlickers whose faces the people will remember tomorrow.

This grotesque mise-en-scene saw the irreconcilable antagonism between the rights of my people and the dirty interests of the dictatorship; in the end it was clear that the Havana establishment will only “enter a dialogue”  if they can choose whom they talk to, decide what topics they fancy, and up to what point the conversation can go, always on their own terms and so long as their position of power is not brought into question. This is a valuable definitive lesson for all those last-minute upstart “dialoguers” who, inside and outside Cuba, still dream of the impossible from Castroism.

Translated by GH

Cuba: Following July 11th, Now What? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. ~Thomas Jefferson

Jeovany Jiminez Vega, 24 July 2021 — “Our enemy follows one plan: to anger us, scatter us, divide us, drown us. That’s why we must follow another plan: to demonstrate our greatness, to come together, join each other, outwit them, to finally make our homeland free. Plan against plan.”

What did July 11th mean for the dictatorship?

The popular uprising of July 11th in Cuba made things very clear. It will be impossible for the dictatorship to hide its most blunt political defeat in more than 60 years, no matter how much it wants to. The Cuban people took the streets en masse on that historic day, shouting “Libertad“. Hundreds of videos are circulating online and this time, there were millions of witnesses. It is impossible to hide evidence of such magnitude, as well as the brutal repressive response of the regime to crush, at any cost, this vibrant national clamor.

What strategy will the dictatorship follow? 

In light of overwhelming evidence, knowing that it is going through its lowest credibility in history, and understanding its psychology, I believe the regime will channel its brutality through the following strategies:

APPEAL TO THE CONDITIONED SOCIAL REFLEX TO WHICH PEOPLE ARE ACCUSTOMED, WHICH UNTIL NOW HAS BEEN SUBMISSION THROUGH FEAR: Intensifying all the modalities of its repressive standards of practice, keeping the militarization of large cities through the constant mobilization of operating resources to perpetuate the terror, arresting or issuing subpoenas to as many protestors as possible to intimidate everyone, imposing excessive sanctions and long prison sentences, threatening anyone who has participated directly or indirectly in the protests or who has supported them in any way — including any social media posts — with expulsion from work or school.

LAUNCHING A DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE TO MINIMIZE INTERNATIONAL BACKLASH: Putting at maximum pressure through its extensive network of pro-Castro activism, organized and financed by Cuban embassies and consular offices, directing its vast espionage network to thwart new initiatives from the Cuban community in exile, promoting declarations from important personalities (ideological figureheads) to legitimize its repressive practices as much as possible; bribing, calling in old favors or blackmailing continue reading

key positions at global institutions.

RAMPING UP PROPAGANDA OFFENSIVE INSIDE CUBA: Increasing attacks  by its henchmen of dissidents through the state-run media and orchestrating character assassinations, distorting the spirit of the protests through disinformation and the constant broadcasting of its media theater: false crimes, false arrests, and any kind of fictitious atrocity will later be denied as fake news and allegedly promoted by the “mercenary opposition” — or acts of vandalism ordered from their own State Security — later attributed to real protestors — to belittle the credibility of the thousands of real complaints triggered by their abuses.

FIND AND SACRIFICE SOMEONE TO BLAME: Insisting that the popular discontent is due solely to the serious health situation and not to the people’s massive rejection of an imposed political regime; intensifying its background discourse that blames the US “blockade” as the only cause of our ruin; and lastly, sacrificing its expendable piece, Díaz-Canel, as a scapegoat, just to promote another unelected figure more inclined to the sycophancy required by the Castro’s oligarchy.

INITIATE A SERIES OF COSMETIC REFORMS: Implementing insubstantial changes, though potentially reversible in some areas, mostly directed at the independent sector (those who are self-employed); diminishing the rigor of, or eliminating, measures that are known to be the least popular — such as the limits on non-comercial imports imposed by customs; calling meetings with the lightest “negotiators,” etc. Anyway, small concessions, for the purpose of creating small delays without questioning the permanence of the Castroism in power.

Which strategy should the Cuban people, within and outside of Cuba, follow?

PASSIVE RESISTANCE; DO NOT COOPERATE IN ANY WAY WITH THE DICTATORSHIP: If you no longer believe in this falsity, don’t accept the simple inertia of government organizations: solicit the firing of the Communist Party, its unions, the Women’s Federation and its despicable CDR [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution]; never again participate in the useless accountability meetings of the People’s Power where nothing is decided and absolutely abstain from participating in fake elections; never again attend an official demonstration during key dates for Castroism (January 1st, May 1st and July 26th) stay home: empty streets will be evidence that your people have definitively declared themselves July 11th!

THE ORGANIZATION OF A NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FREEDOM FOR THOSE DETAINED ON JULY 11TH: One essential issue. The regime knows that the punishing the brave detainees that day will be a determining factor in its ability to perpetuate its state of terror; it knows the tremendous deterring effect of unjust sentences, which is why they impose long prison sentences, from there we must organize in support of the families of the imprisoned, constantly support them and periodically protest in massive sit-ins of neighbors in front of police stations, the seat of government and the Communist Party, in each municipality where they held, to constantly pressure, to demand their unconditional release –l et us remember the Ladies in White who in 2010 bent the dictatorship in a moment of great strength, while it was still under the direct leadership of Fidel Castro. Do not allow, Cuban descendent, another act of repudiation against that neighbor who fights for your freedom: may the neighborhood barricades defend your neighbor’s dignity, and yours.

ADAPT OUR RESPONSES TO EACH SPECIFIC SITUATION: A potentially prolonged struggle should not be considered as something which will be resolved in a few outings, as a result we should always take into account the opponents’ superior resources. For unarmed people confronting a regular army, it will not always be appropriate to face them head on: all civil demonstrations should tactically seek specific objectives, but always adapting themselves with resilience to a fundamental strategy, and be launched at the most opportune and favorable moment. When it is most prudent to step back, one must step back — which does not imply defeat, rather the contrary: this will force the regime to mobilize constantly and the people will be less frequently exposed unnecessarily and would be more unpredictable.

COUNTERING THE FALSEHOODS OF THE REGIME THROUGH ACTIVISM ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Its importance, as well as that of Youtubers and influencers, was shown to be an effective counterpoint to the information monopoly of the Castro regime; it will be very important to continue disseminating the videos and pictures of July 11th, as well as encouraging each attempt to unify and disseminate every new civil initiative or action of political opposition on every forum.

COUNTERING THE PROSELYTISM OF THE CASTRO REGIME: Wherever you find yourself abroad, worthy Cuban, do not allow an exile to easily pay tribute to the Castro regime while enjoying the bounties of a democracy they deny us in Cuba: confront that fallacy with determination; organize and join committees that support freedom in Cuba; generate initiatives that denounce the abuses of the dictatorship and put pressure on the government of your host country so it may condemn or withdraw its support for a regime that vandalizes its people. Support initiatives that empower our full access to uncensored Internet, which is interrupted indefinitely by the regime, so we may evade the censorship imposed by Havana.

DO NOT ACCEPT REFORMS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE THE DEPARTURE OF THE CASTROISTS OLIGARCHS IN POWER: Never allow the regime to present Díaz-Canel as the only guilty party and sacrifice its leader only be replaced with someone similar. We should demand as the only real solution to this irreversible crisis the Castrosim leave power.

The sum and coordination of these lines of action will allow the Cuban people to gain greater confidence each day, and thus become more aware of its immense power. Never cease raising awareness among your friends, your neighbors, your family that we, Cubans who desire the collapse of the Castroist regime, are an absolute majority. July 11th demonstrated millions of us are willing to take to the streets, and the dictatorship will be able to do very little when faced with another massive popular uprising like that National Day of Dignity, though better coordinated and with clearly defined immediate objectives. Accustomed to treating us as slaves, the dislodged dictatorship will be capable of nothing, when faced with millions of upstanding Cubans, because when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes a duty.

11th of July: Day of National Dignity / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

“Citizen Zero,” Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 20 July 2021 — Throughout last week a hornet’s nest buzzed in my temples and I didn’t have a minute’s rest from ruminating on so much news and thinking about my long-suffering Cuba. I was moved to the core by that flood of people that swept away in a few hours more than six decades of indoctrination and terror until, for three days, in more than fifty cities, the most perfidious and best structured dictatorship in this hemisphere was pushed back. This was already an indisputable victory for my people, and, whether it admits it or not, the most devastating political defeat for the dictatorship in more than six decades.

That day my people carried out their vindication before History. Just as past generations had their Yara and their Baire, their Baraguá and their Palo Seco; just as they dethroned a tyrant in the 30s, and later rose up in the mountains or resisted with stoic heroism in the cities during the Revolution of 1959, before being betrayed by the Castros. This July 11, our people recovered for our homeland its lost dignity. Each of these milestones in history was the pride of their respective generation, as from now on that memorable day in July will be our pride.

There is no reason for disappointment here, worthy patriot, because on that jubilant day the great winner was, without a doubt, the Cuban people! It does not matter what Castroism claims to have seen. What millions of Cubans starred in and the world saw that glorious DAY OF NATIONAL DIGNITY – let’s call it by name now – was a dictatorship on the defensive against a rebellious people who responded without fear of the henchmen, pushing back a repressive machinery, well-tuned and honed for more than half a century with the same public treasure that it had stolen from them. During those days we saw for the first time terror on the face of the stunned regime, which could not continue reading

contain us, and which reacted with irrational violence, just confirming how much it fears us.

Today’s scenario, a week after the uprising, was totally predictable. It is not to be expected that a regime founded on six decades of social indoctrination and systematic terror will be struck down at the first blow. Was this the dream of millions of Cubans? Of course! But in real life, with such a consolidated totalitarianism, which Castroism typifies, it never happens that way. There are plenty of examples to prove it, and ours is not exactly the exception.

But there was no cry of defeat on July 11, but rather the opposite. In reality, Cuban, you were defeated every time that you kept complicitly silent in the face of some clear injustice; every time you apathetically raised your hand in some absurd assembly to approve decisions made by others that harmed you as a worker or as a common citizen; every time you waved little flags in a parade ordered by those who disrespect you so much, and you dug your own grave by thus strengthening this merciless despotism that today pounces vengefully, like a hungry beast, on your brothers.

In reality, Cuban, you were defeated when you went abroad on humiliating work missions, under oppressive contracts, knowing that they would enslave you miserably and rob you until they were satisfied, succumbing to the pretext of poverty that today finally launched us into the streets. You were defeated when you did not defend your honorable neighbor from the “acts of repudiation” of the communist mobs, or when you militated without conviction in the antics that the ruling party calls “civil society” only to display it to the world as a cynical insignia. In sum, you have suffered thousands of daily defeats over long decades every time you paid some tribute to that paralyzing fear that turned you into the shame of yourself, into a shadow without dignity, at the mercy of the powerful and the thieves.

But that changed forever on July 11, brave Cuban, because the true weapon of Castroism was never its rifles, or its tanks, or its riot troops, or its wasps of whatever color they paint them: its main weapon was always that fear rooted in your brain like a cancer. That and no other has always been the definitive weapon of Castroism!

The same one that this people, becoming millions, snatched from them when the time of the Homeland arrived, and of which it will be deprived forever. From now on, without your fear, the dictatorship is doomed to be extinguished. But though the beast may be stunned, it is definitely not dead. That is why the two phrases are the order of the day: PASSIVE RESISTANCE – do not cooperate at all with your oppressors; and ACTIVE SOLIDARITY – organize and relentlessly support the liberation of all brothers imprisoned during the raising of that DAY OF NATIONAL DIGNITY.

Let us not allow this huge tide of people to dissipate into a bland emotional clamor, for very little is achieved with useless catharsis. This war could be cruel; it is destined to be difficult and to have many battles; it may be long; it must be fought on all fronts and it can never be conceived as a short-term sprint, but rather as a commendable long-distance race, a demanding marathon, where our people will have to use all their forces, and the Civic Resistance will be called to be the most decisive key.

But regardless of what happens from now on, we have one certainty left: as of this July 11, nothing else will be the same, because now we will be freer, since freedom — like its antithesis, slavery — is an intangible state of mind more than a visible external condition. The freedom that you just tasted is a state of grace that lives in you, Cuban who hears me, and depends more on the nobility of your heart than on the thickness of your chains.

Translated by Tomás A.

July 11 in Cuba: The Hour of the Homeland / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 14 July 2021 — July 11, 2021 entered Cuban history through the front door when the dignified spark ignited in San Antonio de los Baños spread throughout the rest of the island: in a few hours more than fifty Cuban cities, from east to west, rose spontaneously in a massive outcry and millions of Cubans raised a fiery battle cry against a cornered dictatorship that has been able to do little.

During the first moments, the international press tacitly reduced everything to a simple discontent with the health crisis, however, during the three days that have followed all the cruelty of the regime has not been enough to quell the cry, which shows that the matter it is much more complex.

Exemplary has been the manhood with which my brave people reconquer the streets, fight for their freedom, stone their repressors, defend their neighborhoods, respond with nobility to beatings and disable police patrols.

We are facing a full-fledged general rebellion; what is being carried out by the Cuban people today is an authentic popular revolution, a much deeper phenomenon that far exceeds the magnitude and significance of the Maleconazo of 1994. That revolt, historic in that continue reading

it was the first in more than 30 years of Castroism, was limited to the areas bordering the Havana coastline and was led by desperate people who did not demand anything, who only hoped to flee the island.

However, the perpetual Cuban crisis, never resolved, has deepened to unsustainable levels and on it rides an evident vacuum of political leadership not typical of the context of 1994. Without a doubt, the serious health situation generated by Covid could be the trigger this time, but the essential cause would have to be sought in the general boredom of a people tired of poverty and lies. A people who have traveled the world since the 2014 immigration reform opened opportunities for Cubans to travel, a people who have contrasted realities and are better informed, but also — a determining point — has found a powerful weapon in the immediacy of social networks, all of which raises a very different scenario from that of 1994.

This people that overflows the Cuban streets no longer seeks to flee, now it has become radicalized, it cries out for freedom, full freedom, and in multiple waves demands the end of the dictatorship. But even so much bravery can degenerate into banal outrages if it lacks direction, if the people who resist in the street cannot focus on precise objectives; then everything could be shipwrecked in the fatal sea of disillusionment. That will be, nobody doubts it, the bet of the regime: to delay everything, to add multiple dissuasive maneuvers to its repressive tactics until we are exhausted.

When I see my people suddenly recover their dignity, for so long forgotten, my heart swells with pride, for that reason it would hurt a lot if everything was badly managed due to the lack of clear goals. This fight must focus on concrete demands, which must be:

1.     The immediate resignation of Díaz-Canel and the establishment of a transitional government ( never accept a new figurehead elected by the pointing of a finger).

2.     Dissolution of the Communist Party of Cuba.

3.     Dissolution of the repressive bodies of the Ministry of the Interior.

4.     Dissolution of parliament and urgent formation of a constituent assembly.

5.     Call for free elections under international supervision.

For freedom to arrive and be consolidated in this long-suffering land, all these conditions must be met, otherwise everything would be frustrated: a context as polarized as the Cuban one would not allow half measures. Any formula that seeks to include some element of the current establishment would be incompatible with democracy.

The protests that began in Cuba on the second Sunday in July are a sublime act of vindication of the national dignity vexed by more than six decades of dictatorship, and must be understood by my people as a war in all rigor, not because they want to, but because this is what its counterpart assumes it to be.

The time of the Cuban people has come! This is the moment and no other, never has our freedom been so close! Let’s hold on to this historic opportunity, fight tooth and nail to defeat the tyrants. They can do nothing against millions of Cubans. It is proven by the hundreds of videos that are already swarming showing the intifada in the neighborhoods, the henchmen in flight, the residents who protest loudly, without any fear, in open rebellion. A brave Cuban has already said it:

Worthy Cuban, may you listen to me: we are facing a dictatorship overwhelmed by a sea of people, facing a dying tyranny that is on the defensive and fears us. Cuban who loves your country and suffers it every day: if you do not collaborate in any way with the tyrants who overwhelm you, if you raise your voice without fear, if you resist in the street for just one day for each year suffered in dictatorship, at dawn on the 63rd day we will be free!! Let’s live up to the moment: History expects from us the most selfless heroism so that our dead have not fallen in vain.

Their digital blackouts, their mass arrests, their beatings and all the atrocities committed or still to be committed will be of no use! They will achieve nothing with their riot police, with their cowardly hitmen disguised as civilians, with their rapid response brigades at the speed that they operate in front of a people determined to do everything, if for every imprisoned Cuban ten come out to retake the streets with reason and truth fighting on our side. The repressors must know that nothing will go unpunished!!

Not one step back, Cuban people, Castroism is mortally wounded!! The sacred time has come to reconquer the homeland that we will bequeath to our children!! The die is cast: if we retreat now the dictatorship will fight back with fury and all will be lost.

To the Cuban streets!! They protect their privileges, we fight in the name of human dignity! It’s about choosing between being free or living in slavery for the rest of our lives! Let’s conquer the usurped rights as expected by the heroes who from the insurgent jungle order the charge and shout Homeland and Life! Long live Cuba free of dictatorship!

When Anger is Not Enough / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 14 April 2021 — The controversy is useful: there are recent high-octane videos circulating in the social network where we can hear certain activists, or rather another chorus of Habaneros (people from Havana), who rant and rave in the street, hurling insults at the police and at (Cuban president) Diaz-Canel himself, and every day we come across more YouTubers reaching a crescendo in spraying around comments featuring our extensive vocabulary of swear-words. Resulting from the commotion generated in the media, Estado de SATS (Cuban discussion forum, supposedly named after Scandanavian expression meaning the moment just before the curtain rises), has proposed a debate on “Civility versus vulgarity”, and the controversy is increasingly heating up between contributors about the validity of this kind of protest.

Trying to define my position in this matter, my memory drags up the diva of Neo-Castrism, Humberto Lopez, when, in the Cubavision National News, he vented his rage against one Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara who posed nude in front of the cameras recently installed by the political police a few metres from his balcony. It was very shocking to see this sourpuss clown of officialdom asking millions of Cubans if “that is the way the opposition want to debate”, when everybody knows that for decades the cowardly government has evaded all direct confrontation with the opposition and has never dared to expose itself to public debate.

It’s surreal to see how the heartless bastards who disrespect my people, in an olympic outpouring of cynicism, try to make out they are the defenders of decency. But, in defence of little Humberto, it has to be said that in many cases we made it very easy, although at the very least it served to confirm one more time the old Castrista killer tactic: delegitimise and slag off whatever message of vindication by alluding to the “vulgarity” of the messenger. continue reading

From this, we need to draw an intelligent lesson: Castroism, like an old sea-dog,  knowing a lot about the ocean of possibilities of manipulation, will always make us pay for any error and with vicious impunity will go for the jugular every time we try to take a shot.

While we are on this point, I would like to clarify something: everything I write here is from the point of view of conciliation of all parties, if I can. More than 60 years of outrage have caused still-bleeding wounds and left tracks in the psyche of my people, and so, in this controversy, whatever stinging reaction comes up is understandable.

I understand that in the face of this despotism there is an accumulation of  feelings of impotence and frustration which would make even Teresa de Calcutta lose it, but, just the same, I hope my position is understood to be valid and urgent because this is a big deal for our nation. If, with my tone, I offend against any sensibility, I excuse myself in advance, above all if my humble apology touches the heart of any brother passing sleepless nights over the liberty of my people.

Our political situation got more complex with the deepening of the irreversible social and economic crisis of the Cuban regime. Right now, there are visible and invisible factors interacting because of the eruption of the social media, adding their new dynamic. In this context it is clear that some people consider protesting is valid and that  the more insults you throw in per second the more patriotic you are.

This is a troubled world we are dealing with, where there is an absence of any civic proposals and where almost never does anyone propose a concrete way out of the crisis we are living through. In fact, either they avoid expressing themselves in political terms, or, alternating between naiveté and “prudence”, they end up claiming they don’t consider themselves to be the opposition, and they are only bursting with rage from their position of common indignation, as if that made any sense in a totalitarianism like Cuba.

Those who praise such spontaneous and visceral outbursts – no doubt sincerely – where all that can be heard is barren and boring, and therefore useless, rather than argument which is disruptive and coherent – thats to say, politically useful – supported by “traditional” Cuban opposition, whom they oppose, are opting for a path which is sterile and gets us nowhere. Doing this is just a marginalisation, which is seen as an end in itself, but simply shows ourselves to the world as naive, superficial and grotesque – remember, my friends, that, for good or ill, time rushes by, and all that is happening is that we are handing ourselves over on a silver platter, because that is the image of all the Cuban opposition as a whole which the opportunist government ideologues are trying to construct in the collective public imagination.

These ideologues, don’t forget, have their next congress in a few days and have made it known that they will, with the worst of intentions, review government policies regarding use of the internet. No-one should be in any doubt that they have noted and will refer to these eloquent examples, to clothe with legitimacy the escalation of censorship, and strengthening of the legislation against the “offences” associated with the “inappropriate” use of social networks.

History has shown us that wars – and this one is no exception – are not won by the just, but by the smart. Courage is not enough; the fight for the freedom of a people cannot be reduced to a matter of bravado, no matter how much frustration or rage is weighing down on our backs. There is evidence that marginalisation never opens the way forward for any people, but rather, totally cynically, the common enemy of our liberty uses this point of weakness to conceal its dagger, and we have to put up with them perfuming their guarantee of public spirit, which is an insult to us, and so the equation doesn’t stack up, and that is when we will recognise the sad reality: that we will have placed in their hands a formidable weapon which will be mercilessly turned against us, which is an inexcusable aggravation, an act of self-harm lacking any logic in the context of this rigorously ideological war.

It’s not just me saying that, but history has demonstrated it. We recall not only the exemplary struggles of Ghandi, and Mandela, Luther King and Walesa, but also poking around in our own rich patriotic ideology with its roots down with the precepts of Padre Valera, and way up to the heights of Jose Marti, as well as dispersed throughout many thinkers, creators and activists throughout the 20th century; don’t forget that the pen sleeps alongside the machete, because in the beginning is the idea, and that is what calls us. It is essential that we make no concessions in this epic struggle, so we don’t get wrecked because we didn’t avoid trivialising our fight with pointless and directionless shouting.

Although shouting is always better than keeping quiet, and with everybody fighting against the Castroist absolutism every grain of sand counts, I could never imagine Jose Julian Martí naked against the Spanish courts during his exile in protest against colonialism; and I really have not seen, nor can I recall one example of a world-class hero in the last hundred years who achieved civil rights, set people free or defeated empires throwing boxes of pineapples. What has freed people up to now  – without exception – has always been the energetic flow of ideas fermented groups of thoughtful people which then clearly pointed the way to go so that the people could rush forward.

Victories were never achieved by producing vulgarities, no matter how much empathy we have for the pain felt by the dispossessed. We have no reason to accept vulgarity, or to suppose that living in an era in which victimisation is fashionable it is best to sign up to the “humble” faction to go with the flow, just because “that’s the way we Cubans talk”, because its easier, or because we lack character, and get to the point of being the negation of the firmness of principle or spiritual elevation, to the point of accusing the “other opposition” of frivolity, when their capital sin is nothing other than defending with steely tenacity coherent proposals for opposing a ruthless common enemy  – an opposition which, let us not forget, has sacrificed all in the trenches.

The war cry of Osorbo (Cuban rapper) is not more authentic just because it is spontaneous of visceral, or because he he came from a modest home in San Isidro, than that of Antonio Rodiles (Cuban political activist) just because he comes over as more thoughtful in Estado de Sats (forum for debate on social, cultural, and political issues in Cuba) from a “chic” location in Miramar. It would be counterproductive to try to parameterise, when both messages have the same intention – expressed in different frequencies but on the same dial as far as all our sufferings are concerned – and when both are, in their different ways, authentic war cries.

Any confrontation within the Cuban opposition which does not end in an embrace against the common enemy is senseless and is music to the ears of the dictatorship. But, look, it isn’t that both authentic cries have equal range. The main point here is not asking ourselves whether both are sincere claims – I don’t doubt that at all – but which of these two ways of understanding civic responsibility – different only in form, not content – is the more strategically useful in fighting against a dictatorship which has clung on through 60 years of terror. Which of them is realistically destined to help us reach our longed-for achievement of a Rule of Law? That, and nothing else, is the question.

To close these reflections, above all for those who are not yet convinced, I will just put one question: why is it that a propaganda machine as efficient as the Cuban Communist Party’s has never dared to publish a page or a fragment or any article or to transmit even 30 seconds of video of any criticism or civic proposal out of the mouth of Eduardo Payá or his daughter Rosa María Payá, or Antonio Rodiles, Coco Fariñas, Dagoberto Valdéz, José Daniel Ferrer, Reinaldo Escobar or Yoani Sánchez – from whom you have definitely never heard a bad word – but if any member of this new wave hurls any swear words, they rush to put out lengthy reports in the national chain which take up a good part of their news about whichever is the latest flunky mouthing off?

The answer is very simple: Castroism knows that its mortal enemy, with the potential to wipe it out, is a long-term proposition that avoids the ghettos and the tribalisms, and which advances arguments like punches in firmly denouncing at the right time so as to dissect and analyse the regime in all its cruelty and greed. The fight against the most  treacherous  dictatorship which we are living with is not a task for sprinters, but a long-distance race in which it is not worth wasting energy in senseless outbursts, because it is constancy, firmness and clarity of purpose, and nothing else, that finally define the guidelines for victory. Here the thoughtless guttural scream, no matter how emotionally justified, is born condemned to be extinguished, without ever having seen off the despot oppressing us.

True people are made from men who are the way they actually are, not the way they ought to be. These are the oxen who have to pull the plough; these are our drills and with them we will build the house, and a war cry emitted from the throat of a patriot will always be a good cry to shake up the tyrants, whether uttered from Miramar or San Isidro, but we have to keep in mind that to succeed in our main objective, and to work for our liberty, anger is not enough.

Translated by GH

Castroism’s Sleight-of-Hand Tricks / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 10 February 2021 — These days we are witnessing the most recent Castroist sleight-of-hand: the Cuban government has just announced that it has eliminated the list that defined the activities authorized to be carried out by the private sector — called “One’s Own Account” (Self-Employment) due to a phobia of this “cursed word” — and instead, it has established another where more than 120 activities will remain prohibited for that management approach.

Immediately the trigger of mistrust jumps when living in a country where everything private has been demonized and all the fruit of individual work stigmatized, almost synonymous with selfishness and indolence in the face of common needs. It is when we see that the magician with his gadget makes that absurd list of permitted activities disappear, and then makes appear, like a prodigy, another one of prohibited activities! And that is where we wake up, we get suspicious, and we wonder if it is not the same shit.

How will the current dynamics of the labor market change having eliminated a list that could easily be published in Charlemagne’s Europe – because all the authorized trades had a frankly medieval profile – and implement another where they continue to veto the professions of the 21st century that demand university training –precisely those destined to have a greater economic and social impact? continue reading

If you ask me, I will say that as things are, that dynamic will change very little, and that the impact will be very little, or zero, as long as the Havana regime persists in its confessed intentions to restrict the management of the private family business and punish the success of its initiative.

Of course, the moment when the Cuban government announces this display of openness is not free. Castroism is an old fox that knows well how and when to play its cards to achieve the best effect. You have already heard that Joe Biden is excited about the idea of empowering Liborio* [the Cuban ’everyman’] and that is why in Havana they file their teeth.

Someone must alert Mr. Biden that eliminating that list was nothing more than a trap, an invitation to Washington’s naivety to spread its legs again, a trap that will only serve for 10 million Cubans to confirm, when some months have passed, that this dictatorship, whose genes dictate a perpetual crusade against any hint of individuality, will never give in on it.

I expect to find among the more than 120 activities on which the prohibition of the principal professions, to wit: the legal profession, the principal engineering professions, those of the highest-end pedagogical sciences, computer science, and of course all those related to Medicine and Dentistry, as well as everything that implies access to financial management.

But beyond that, we all know that in Cuba from announcing to doing there are always large stretches, and this “opening” will be of no use if the regime insists with the same stubbornness on boycotting the private sector. Take as a timid sample the limitation on the exercise of Veterinarian to the care of pets, as if this science were not extended to the rest of the animal kingdom.

If something has always marked Castroism, it has been the demagogic inconsistency between what was said and what was done. Let us remember how the magician told me yesterday that I, a peasant, would be the owner of the land that he confiscated on behalf of the people, but later he forced me to join cooperatives and deprived me of all rights.

He told me that I, a small entrepreneur, could manage my own private restaurant, but he immediately set the dogs on me and put up so many obstacles that they made me give up.

He told me that I could study medicine for free and apparently that was the case, but then I worked for decades for $20 a month, I did a thousand free shifts and in the official mission of collaboration abroad he robbed me blind, and with all the freebies!

Then he assured me that I, a worker in short, could already buy a car, and to prove it he offered me used Chinese carcasses for $35,000 in US dollars.

This magician, a typical Creole joker, told me one day that I, a humble worker of this century, could already access the Internet, but until just a few months months ago he forced me to connect under the sun in a park, and today, now more comfortable in my house, he charges me triple my salary(!) for 30 hours a month of lousy censored service.

This conjuror insists that he has reformed the immigration law, when he reserves the right to allow me to leave my country or return, and “regulates**” me whenever he wants; in short, a masterful wizard, this rogue who never gives you the last in his surreal game where nothing is what it seems; A game in which you will never win because you will never know which ace is up his sleeve and, in the end, he will always screw you in some way.

Joe Biden does not seem impressed with the overwhelming evidence that the Obama opening in no way empowered the Cuban people, but since Castroism has always opted to create its own semantics to mask its nonsense, it has us long accustomed to the unbridled use of euphemisms. The most accused of all would be the one that, due to its foundational nature, paved the way for the subsequent triumphal entry of all the others, and that was to call the disaster that followed the war of liberation against the Batista dictatorship: “Revolution”.

As a revolution in historical terms implies evolution, a leap forward, progress and social conquests for the benefit of the people, it is worth exposing here why the Cuban Revolution ceased to be an authentic Revolution as soon as Fidel Castro passed the aspirations of my people through the triumphal arch and he betrayed them to the point of welding himself to power, which is why it is still inappropriate to call this brutal regression to the 19th century a revolution, caused by a gerontocracy whose real achievement was to create, in its futile search for the “new man”, an anodyne two-faced being, capable of betraying himself in exchange for a Chinese television.

Authentic revolutions do not last 60 years, but once consummated they can only follow one of two divergent paths: they evolve naturally towards a genuine rule of law, or instead they drift inexorably into the swamp of dictatorship.

Fidel Castro chose the second trail, and when the product of his egotism exploded in his face in the 90s, to disguise it he renamed the creature and decided, with a hilarious euphemism, to call the worst nightmare known under his regime “Special Period in a Time of Peace.”

As the son of a cat he always hunts a mouse, so it is natural that today Raúl Castro, through the mouth of his puppet Diáz-Canel, calls the irreversible aggravation of the dying person a “temporary period”; temporary when he knows that he has no solution or possible solution!!!???… Sleight-of-hand tricks and crazy things!

If, in the 80’s, Fidel Castro called his string of follies and improvisations a “Process of rectification of errors and negative tendencies” – a desperate response to the imminent socialist “falling apart” in Europe – then why not call this madness of indiscriminately raising wages and prices, ignoring all modern economic maxims, without any support in production and supply, which will only aggravate an already rampant inflation, a “Reordering.”

All crazy, but whoever dies for his pleasure, death tastes glorious. Now, no one is fooled, because the magician, in his eagerness to dazzle Biden, can pull even more surprises out of his hat, even though in this Cuba, so drowned in despair and boredom, no one believes his tall tales or his fairground tricks. We are already on to the falsities of the conjurer, we know his corner tricks and we are tired of his promises of gold in exchange for mirrors, of his trifles for naive tourists who do not understand that some vices will never be remedied.

  Translator’s notes:

*Liborio is a character in the novels of Cuban journalist and author Carlos Loveira (1882-1928) who has come to be a symbol of the Cuban Everyman.

**”Regulated” is Cuban government-speak for the condition of a Cuban citizen who is prohibited from traveling outside the island. People commonly find out they are ’regulated’ when they are already at the airport, ticket in hand, and told they cannot board their flight.

Dual Currency in Cuba Goes from Two to Three / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 24 July 2020 — A few days ago the government of Diaz-Canel slipped us all a surprise. Finally, after multiple postponements we got to the long-awaited end to dual currency, and, so in order that we didn’t complain, in effect, there will be no more circulation of TWO (national) currencies in our country, and, from now, we will start to use THREE! …

Obviously the first reaction of every Cuban who has lived on the island for the last 25 years was to swing between astonishment and disbelief, until they realised this was not just the moronic Castro successor fucking about, or some kind of bad taste joke, and, having searched in vain for the hidden camara, they realised that our shiny new “president’ was absolutely serious.

You can understand the astonishment when you remember that decades ago Fidel Castro, that pimp who implemented the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) rip-off, had already been speaking of eliminating the dual currency, which existed for the time being, that the tricky topic was a temporary thing which featured in Raul Castro’s policy slogan only to be delayed while he was in power, and that the Havana government had kept this aberration going as its big unresolved business up to this morning because its latest administrator up to now had done nothing more than imitate his mentors who had left him holding the hot potato. continue reading

Instead of promoting conditions and necessary mechanisms to put right the present damaging situation in an orderly and progressive way, Diaz-Canel’s government surprises everyone with a new grinding of the gears in the opposite direction, taking an obvious step backwards, doing the exact opposite of what was expected, and everything announced and recognised as the first essential step towards sorting out our finances and reorganising the economic chaos and at least regaining a thousandth part of their zero credibility.

Once more, the magical realism of the Castro regime shows us one of its most surprising facets: its amazing capacity for saying something and doing the exact opposite right in front of our noses without the slightest embarassment, and, as always, assuring us that its decision is for our own good. You would laugh if it wasn’t so serious!

Because if there is anything the kids in the Plaza are really good at, it is their amazing talent for cynicism. It’s exactly what we heard Fidel Castro say when he beat his chest for the liberty of the poor people of the world while here he was squeezing our nuts, prohibiting us from travelling, humiliating us at the doors of the dollars-only shops for foreign diplomats and of all the hotels in Cuba, and, at the same time assuring us that the results of this “necessary sacrifice” would be for the benefit of all of us, which never happened.

What did happen, along with the power cuts of the Special Period, was the dual currency, which remained with us. As far as that’s concerned, I don’t know of any other country which has used two national currencies at the same time, although there are lots of cases where, along with the national currency there has circulated another foreign currency, with the close-to-home example of pre-revolutionary Cuba, where the peso and the US Dollar circulated at the same time. But there has been no example of two national currencies, as we have now in Cuba with the Cuban peso (CUP) and the CUC.

This was, without doubt, one of Fidel Castro’s most shameless swindles perpetrated on the Cuban people. During more than 25 years in Cuba we have been paid miserable salaries  in a national currency (the CUP) with an arbitrary exchange rate relative to the CUC (currently 25 for 1 at the exchange bureaux of the Cuban National Bank), a device which has guaranteed the Cuban regime that remittances from abroad in the sum of billions of dollars, euros, or other currencies have gone straight into its coffers while they have handed over CUCs (unsupported bills which can’t be used outside the island) to Cuban families.

Well, as from now, both national currencies (the shameful CUP and the devalued CUC) will have to cohabit with the dirty imperial dollars, the same ones which Fidel Castro ranted and raved about in his fiery delusionary historic speeches.

But it won’t be that way for long because the useless CUC has its days numbered. In the midst of a calamitous economic crisis – for many people worse than the one in the ’90’s –  the CUC has been for many months getting knocked backward, setting repeated devaluation records, and today it has a street value of about 1.20 CUCs to the dollar. In the meantime, up to a few days ago, before ending the tax on the US dollar, the National Bank exchange rate was 0.87 CUC per dollar, showing a complete detachment from reality.

You can’t help but notice, nevertheless, that only now Havana decides to end this awful 10% tax on US Dollars – another arbitrary dodgy move by Fidel Castro – after having blustered from the Obama opening-up that they would  only do it when the economic sanctions were withdrawn by the US., something which certainly has not occurred, and it is being withdrawn now, when the CUC is worth less and less – a tax which, quite definitely, never had any effect on Obama’s pockets, or Trump’s, but did directly affect those of us Cubans.

Although, if anyone lost out in this sad tale, it has been the Cuban nation – meaning the Cuban people – whose economy has paid an incalculable price due to the brutal financial distortion generated on every level by the dual currency, particularly, of course, in those businesses operating in CUC – the biggest and most strategic in the country.

In trade carried out in this currency at that level the CUP/CUC relationship of 25/1, valid for the rest of the system, ceases to function, and, ignoring economic principles, becomes 1/1 thanks to the efforts of the all-powerful Castroism. This serious distortion has become an immovable obstacle since it prevents any objective valuation, makes any control extremely difficult, obstructs and renders inoperable accounting procedures, impedes ability to pay, and seriously discourages productivity.

Because of the resulting chaos, Cuba’s macroeconomic indicators are ignored, or viewed sceptically, by analists, and although this has ever-more profoundly discredited the already inefficient state-owned socialist business, we need to bear in mind that putting right this sorry state of affairs, should be easy for the Castro government: it could all be fixed if – always dependant on the elimination of this disastrous financial ambiguity – along with an effective decentralisation of state management, they legalised and stimulated family and private business – another unfinished business for the administrator Diaz-Canel.

Oh! but this is where Castroism crashes into a problem which up to now has been insoluble: the economic situation which would result from implementing the necessary, fair, and profound changes, would result in greater prosperity and autonomy for the Cuban people, a “risk” that the dictatorship could not possibly permit.

The Castroistas would never accept any change or formula which would result in the improved wellbeing of my people, because that would imply a bigger dose of liberty, which, sooner rather than later, would lead to political demands which would then – by way of the Marxist dialectic which opposes until death antagonistic contradictions – turn radical and in a short space of time my people would shake the chains that tyrannise them.

There is no other way of looking at it: it is that simple, and the solution to our problems would be just as simple. The only thing standing between us and prosperity is a cynical and brutal dictatorship which continues to put the rights of the Cuban people through a triumphal arch (the one in Cienfuegos which commemorates Cuban independence).

Translated by GH

To Change of Not to Change in Cuba: That is the Question / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 19 July 2020 — Anyone unfamiliar with the endless capacity for pretence and cynicism on the part of the Castro dictatorship, could perhaps see in the recent words of the latest occupant of the Finca Biran (Fidel Castro’s birthplace) a sincere call for reform. When Diaz-Canel, in an admirable fit of sincerity, accepts publicly that “we can’t keep doing the same thing with the economy, because we won’t get the results we need …”, he is only confirming something which, for decades, most of Cuban society has been saying, until it is blue in the face.

Everyone sees the urgency, from the militant communist who disagrees while stuck in his trench, to the most enraged and in-your-face member of the opposition; from the functional illiterate vegetating each day away in the bread line, to the most sophisticated economist: from the most eminent pensioner to the most important director struggling with creative firewalls and the totally obvious inherent uselessness of socialist government commerce; you can be completely sure they all agree, except for the antiquated ninety-year-old losers still clinging to the brakes of the train.

Although they argue about the causes of the disaster — the US embargo or the domestic blockade — the perception is becoming ever clearer and ever more common that Cuba has to make a sharp and profound U-turn in how it runs the economy, because the present situation is unsustainable and, if we don’t make serious, substantial and definitive changes, we are going to sink, into what will be, with every minute which passes, an ever more abject total ruin. continue reading

Obviously, if we in Cuba carry on doing what we are doing we will get what’s coming to us. That’s a principle as old as man, and the dust-covered geniuses of the Central Committee have done nothing to change that. Fidel Castro knew perfectly well, and so today does the timid Raul Castro, and also — why not? — the administrator Diaz-Canel, that the Soviet economic model was never suited to our idiosyncrasies, and that it never worked, nor ever will. It doesn’t work in the sense of serving the wellbeing of the Cuban people, but, in the sense of maintaining the most hermetic control possible, without caring about the social, economic or moral consequences, it has worked perfectly. It’s just a question of your point of view.

It doesn’t work and it will not work, because of its very nature, and the people in power in Havana know it, and so do all the senior directors of the Cuban establishment, all the oldies who are still fucking us around, and all the generals whether retired or still at their posts. Six decades of failure and ruin should be sufficient to convince even the most relentless defender of the regime, if it were not for the human calamity that is their fanaticism.

The situation now is, in several ways, more complicated and desperate than in the most critical moment of the ’90’s. In the middle of an authority vacuum — as Diaz-Canel has no charisma and up to now has given no indication of any character in the face of the “oldies” — and with Venezuela in the dumps, China and Russia as strategic allies, but tired of the fraudulent Creoles, and the well-deserved reputation of the people in the Plaza de la Robolucion for stuffing and ripping off half the people.

A little while ago the Cuban government went into default on its payments, in spite of the fact that hardly five years previously they were pardoned billions of dollars by the Paris Club, by Russia, and other creditor countries, tempted by Obama’s opening up, which made La Antilla [a tourist resort in Holguin province] fashionable for a few months. Just the bad debts from the Soviet era alone totalled 35 billion dollars! of which, let’s remember, 90% was forgiven while the remaining 10% was invested in Cuba.  But not even this stroke of good luck could rescue Castroism from ruin, and now, with the window of opportunity closed, it’s too late. The world has got the point, and now the swindlers of Havana will not get any serious finance or proper investment of capital or credit of any kind, not for all the snails in Guanabacoa [there was a plague of these things in 2019].

Although for its enthusiastic supporters, the Neo-Castrismo would always have the same answer, which is proof against all tests: demagogy. This infallible weapon, always employed by Fidel Castro, has shown its value so many times, and could be used this time as well. Because talk of austerity is worth nothing if it is not practised by all, and by the Castroites more than anybody. And news announcements of change are worth nothing if not supported by a body of law guaranteeing the rights of those hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs both inside and outside Cuba who are only waiting for the opportunity which has always been denied them, and who for decades have been denied their working autonomy, and whose confidence in the authorities and their political credibility has been destroyed.

And high-sounding announcements are worthless if they are not supported by unambiguous demonstrations that enable everybody to believe that this time no upstart opportunist  leader, political police, or prejudiced judge will have the power to ruin a producer, or a business for political reasons or with exercise of arbitrary power of any kind, and in the knowledge that they may be helped by a fair body of law and with the help of impartial trials, will not end up behind bars.

Calls to raise productivity are worth nothing while there are still laws which enable the Attorney General, conspiring with the dreadful DTI [the Technical Department of Investigation, a repressive government intelligence organisation], to knock on the door of a farmer, who labours every day on an interest offered by the state to show him a 10 cm document listing every infraction he has been obliged to commit because that is the absurd situation — and then confiscate the shirt off his back; at the same time as the State Collection Company continues to abandon crops rotting in the fields, and continues to lock people up for decades for butchering a cow — an absurdity only explainable when you understand its obvious potential for extortion to recruit informants in the service of the State Security.

And the repeated invitations to foreign investors count for nothing if they continue to exclude Cubans in exile who genuinely want to invest in the country where they were born, or their parents were born. Its incredible that these doors remain shut which could let so much capital be injected into the Cuban nation, just for reasons of political exclusion.

It is also pointless raising salaries without increased productivity, which devalues the currency and shoots up inflation – first law of economics – nor trying out this variant of dollarisation which has now been proposed, in the middle of these amazing shortages. Cuba needs to reemerge without any delays, which will never happen without an energetic and sincere opening up of our economy to this hope which has been betrayed a thousand times.

But, up there I said change …? OMG! Because there will always be someone who insists in discovering similarities between necessary and inevitable change, and total chaos or zombie apocalypse, because, without doubt, if any word has always given rise to distrust and allergic suspicion on the part of the obsolete psychos of the dictatorship, it has been precisely this one. Change!! The antithesis of centralised statism, that endemic disease, behind which Fidel and Raul Castro, with perfect historic geometry, took shelter, just like, up to now, Diaz-Canel ingenuously today rediscovering the cold shower.

This fatal Cuban mania for going to extremes and avoiding the good sense of the centre ground, perhaps prevents us from understanding that when something stops being the socialism of the barracks, it doesn’t necessarily mean going for untamed neoliberal capitalism, and that there are halfway houses which can also guarantee conditions more conducive to a non-parasitic, sustained and autonomous increase in productivity, while at the same time preserving social guarantees and without in any way compromising national sovereignty.

Although we have been deceived so many times that we we cannot tolerate any more lies. Never in Cuban history, before Castro, has there ever been such misgovernment of my people, with so many abuses over such a long period of time, perpetrating such an appalling betrayal and showing such strong contempt for my people.

It is now up to Diaz-Canel to show, if he can, and if he wants to, to free himself from the strict dogmatism of the ultra-conservatives, which no-one has been able to do, and opt for the freeing-up of the productive forces ready to save this country and permit a hoped-for opening which, as is obvious, will never be complete if it does not go hand-in-hand with profound political reforms.

It is in his hands to put right the immense damage they have caused; any other strategy would be skating over the same shit and cheap words. Only time will tell if he has the courage to do it, or if he will be judged by history as just one more coward.

Translated by GH