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

The Spread of Coronavirus in Cuba: Factors For and Against / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 26 March 2020 — In the case of Cuba, what factors influence, positively or negatively, the spread of the current Corona Virus pandemic? The response to this question depends on a number of factors in any country, and ours cannot be an exception. The norm of displacement caused by globalization make it such that no country in the 21st century is immune to the infiltration of this disease, but in our case there are complicated circumstances that any analysis has to take into consideration.

Among the conditions named for slowing down and/or stopping the advance of this pandemic within Cuba we have to mention the standardized National Health System, which favors a rapid and centralized making of decisions to be implemented with the necessary urgency, such as an operative feedback of disease-related statistics in real time. The existence of a single public Education System already creates the potential for authorities to temporarily postpone the school year; while the measure is well oriented, insufficient access to students due to our limited internet coverage works against it.

In this sense it will be just as necessary to maintain the closure of all borders, the strict quarantining of Cubans returning from abroad and limiting, to its possible minimum, any inter-provincial movement, all of this strengthened by the concurrence of a political system with authoritarian elements and a population conditioned to obey after six decade of absolutism, which should facilitate, at least in theory, any massive confinement measures, such as the closure of all enterprises that the State, as absolute master, deems necessary. continue reading

When considering the factors that favor the spread of COVID-19, the first to cite, paradoxically, derives from what should be our primary strength, the National Health System, but in this case with regards to the atrocious deterioration of the hospital infrastructure, something evident in practically all the healthcare centers of a country that for six decades has hoisted it as a flag of propaganda, an “excellence” that it is not, thanks to the administrative decadence that has accumulated on all its levels.

Here I am not talking about the lack of advanced equipment; I am talking about half-ruined public and private hospitals, I am talking about makeshift offices in old agricultural stands, whose conditions, at other latitudes, would be shut down as a health hazard, without running water, barely conditioned with a coat of quicklime, poorly lit and with even worse ventilation. I am talking about the scarcity or absolute lack of supplies, from lab chemicals to a long list of medications whose absences in our pharmacies had already become endemic.

To all of this we have to add the dissatisfaction of health care workers with multiple professional frustrations, multiplied tenfold by the constant exodus of colleagues, either as Medical Mission officials or as emigrants, which leaves those who remain working in Cuba with an arduous overload of under-compensated work, professionals whose altruism and and elevated human quality – in which I have absolute confidence – has been poorly matched by a system that disrespects them with a miserable salary, not to mention the preventable lack of the most basic protective measures, already unacceptable before the crisis that draws near, that will place health personnel in a situation of immeasurably high risk.

It follows, logically, that this vulnerable system could collapse in the event that the situation worsens, as has occurred in the tens of countries where COVID-19 has already caused, on a global level, hundreds of thousands of infections and the threat of causing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of death- hundreds of those already registered among medical personnel – even in the first world and within health care systems more organized and sufficient than our own

To these inescapable objective and subjective conditions of our health infrastructure one must add the current economic and social condition of the country. Cuba is passing through a critical scarcity of food and other basic products, baptized by Diaz-Canel with the euphemism “relevant period” –  only comparable with the saddest stage of the “special period” under Fidel Castro during the 90s. This perennial and brutal shortage obligates 90 percent of Cubans to expose themselves to the very real and highly probable risk of contagion in the constant, chaotic and tumultuous lines to buy anything from a frozen piece of chicken to a roll of toilet paper or any other product for our daily struggle.

In a country unfamiliar with the idea of making single shopping trips, this general shortage presents a golden opportunity for COVID-19 to do its deed in every corner of the island, first running amok within these lines and being carried back to many grandparents, its typical protagonists. In a country where the informal economy predominates and the black market sets the rhythm, these 90 % of families will continue to go out each day to put their daily meal on the table, not because this has worsened with the coronavirus, but rather because it has been this way for the last 60 years.

Under such circumstances it will be difficult to persuade a population to follow a certain policy because of global events: the inevitability of massive confinement as the only effective method up until now for controlling the pandemic. And all this in middle of the perennial and much lamentable situation of housing- to this day one of the gravest issues of this country- that imposes the forced overcrowding of three or four generations under the same roof, something that will, without a doubt, act as a key factor in the spread of the virus.

Cuba has already reported more than 50 cases, and the statistical models predict an exponential spreading pattern for COVID-19, one which anticipates a rapid increase in its incidence through the next two or three weeks, with an epidemiological peak that no one can determine yet, as seen in countries like Italy, Spain and the US.

A low perception of risk among the population, favored to a large extent by the trivializing discourse of the authorities in Havana, conspires against the security of all, especially now, when the most effective course of action would be to adopt the strictest containment measures, when the fire has not yet become widespread and could still be prevented from spreading to the rest of the forest. While it is possibly not necessary to be so alarmist, it would be much worse and more absurd to be importunately confident in the face of imminent danger. Prevention is the key word. This is the moment to apply massive confinement measures, at least in the capital of the country and in each municipality with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Better early than late: experience shows this strategy as the only way to stop tragedy.

 Translated by: Geoffrey Ballinger

The Ferrer Case: The Repetition of a Modus Operandi / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 8 December 2019 — The arrest of opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on October 1st, on false allegation of “kidnapping” and “beating” an individual, has plunged into a new whirlwind of criticism the Castro regime, which as usual insists the detainee will be prosecuted as a common inmate, which fits perfectly within the “continuity praxis” of the administrator in office at the Plaza of the Revolution.

The international repercussion of the case brought in condemnation from the European Parliament, which, through a resolution voted on November 28th, requested the Government of Havana to immediately release the opposition leader. Amnesty International has already pronounced in similar terms — requesting Diaz-Canel’s government to allow them attend the dissident’s  trial — along with relevant personalities, inside and outside the Cuban exile.

The Havana regime sees with great concern and greater clumsiness how these chestnuts are charred by fire, as evidenced by the disgusting report released last week — on the eve of the aforementioned European Parliament Resolution — by the National News of Cuban Television where, by means of gross manipulation, events, videos and photos taken of Ferrer, were distorted to the point it makes you sick, and a collage of tampering and false allegations to present the detainee as a vulgar criminal, natural-born angry and violent, was conclusive. continue reading

One of the moments of this botch-up shows in a very low video resolution — something very curious and inexplicable in a country that already has high-definition channels — someone with a physique very much to Ferrer’s, who at some point hits his forehead against a table several times  in front of impassive officer, as harmless and meek as a nun on Easter night. This would presumably prove, according to the script of the report, that any injury found on Ferrer’s anatomy would be self-inflicted.

Personally, I believe that, according to comments on several sites, the one who is hitting himself in the manipulated report is not Ferrer but a carefully chosen double. It is exposed by some gestures and subtle notes of his voice, both, by the way, easy to alter using current digital technology.

But even if  Ferrer was self-injured in that video, it should be taken into account the two months he has been kidnapped by his captors, suffering all kinds of threats, humiliation, extreme physical and psychological torture, and isolated in the midst of absolute helplessness, all of which, humanly speaking, would excuse this moment of self-aggression.

Note, however, that such violence is never directed at the officer who undoubtedly harasses him. For all this, even in the hypothetical case that this video shows the actual Ferrer hitting himself, it would not count against him.

That we are facing one of the many cases staged by the dictatorship, typical of its modus operandi and where it outrageously lies, was demonstrated by those who patiently investigated this vulgar fiction of hit men from the 21st.

The Cuban regime displays itself to such a discredit already, such a degree of impunity shown for more than half a century, so vulgar, so recidivist, such unscrupulous liars, that I haven’t believed a single word of theirs for a long long time.

Not even certainties as definitive as the roundness of the Earth sound like truth to me when they come from them in that news channel that now tries to lynch Ferrer.

That a national report highlighted Ferrer’s identity in details — something meticulously avoided by the authorities for six decades to deprive its opponents of visibility — only denounces a high degree of despair. Although this shot could end up shooting the dictatorship in its own foot. As things are right now, it could a double-edged sword and bring them the opposite result: instead of annihilating Ferrer, it could end up giving him an unusual importance inside the country.

But the fearlessness of the event never ceases to outrage. Personally, I will always prefer to face a tyrant rather than a cynic. At least the first, despite his mighty arrogance — or just for that very reason — has the courage to clearly present the rules of the game: “It is what it is because I said so.”

However, cynicism is topped with cowardice: it is like that guy that does not dare to show himself as the true arrogant bully that he actually is — which has nothing to do with the tyrant at all — but also insults your intelligence when expecting you to believe all that foolishness he spits in your face.

The same thing happens with the henchmen — from Cuban political police — when they wear civilian clothes in their unpunished operations so as not to expose themselves… as cowards!

It is the classical duet “Communist Party-State Security”, when it organizes the repudiation mobs and the public beatings against peaceful opponents — where a perimeter secured perimeter by local police is mandatory, “seasoned with the occasional enforcer in an official uniform, orchestrated to “humanely” protect the beaten “scum” [Fidel Castro’s favored term for dissidents] from the fury of angry people who “spontaneously” defend their revolution — as well as the same cynicism of Ferrer’s case.

The dictatorship clings once more, in its wreckage, to the same old board: everyone who dissents from the flock is nothing more than a piece of shit, a disposable lumpen, a mercenary paid by the CIA and US Government. But this old trick, — repeated over and over — is already decaying and suffers beyond repair, which is why, today, only their greatest fans swallow it.

But a lie repeated a thousand times will never be more than that, a lie a thousand times repeated, and there is a fact here that cannot be buried: José Daniel Ferrer, beyond the empathy that he generates or not inside or outside Cuba, has the undeniable merit of having developed the most extensive, active opposition organization, one that has kept a more visible, systematic and constant civic resistance against Castro dictatorship over the past two decades, and has done so against all odds, out of a civil struggle, without violent methods and showing his valor.

This is, despite the gorillas’ tantrum and their disgusting lies, a truth that regime of Havana can no longer reverse.

Translated by: Rafael

Tragedy in the Darien Jungle: a Warning to the Returnee / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 17 June 2019 — Several weeks ago we received the news of the tragedy of the Armila River, in shock. On the night of April 23rd, dozens of Cuban families were mourning when more than fifty young people, who traveled north into Panamanian jungle, died dragged by a sudden flood.

Despite its obvious dramatic and seriousness of the news, it found, however, relatively little exposure on international mainstream media and Internet sites, which clearly shows, why Cuban matter can be considered more profound and harder to solve, than other Regional conflicts now in the spotlight -meaning- Venezuela and Nicaragua unfortunate situation of  under their respective dictatorships.

Perhaps if these deaths had occurred among young people from these two countries (Venezuela and Nicaragua), the tragedy would have had a greater impact; but when the news is about Cubans fleeing from Castro regime, relevance is reduced because more than half a century of dictatorship always have its toll of attrition. It appears today that the loss of our emigrants retains all its tragical nuances only if it is suffered within a Cuban home from the perspective of the father in despair or an orphan child.

Cuban authorities, of course, looked the other way. In its cynical logic, this Panama doesn’t seems the same that a loud  psychologist -from the UJC (Cuban Youth Union)-traveled to, with her humble  salary,  to boycott the 2015 Summit: for the dictatorship she is regarded as a model citizen and these (deceased Cubans) are nothing but dead maggots. [The name given by Castro regime to anyone willing to leave the island seeking freedom.]

In contrast to this new Castro regime massacre a few days ago, a “new official position” emerged: the elite of the “Revolution Square” recently made it clear to Cuban diaspora, that in their “draconian” Law of Foreign Investment 118, in effect since March 2014, it actually does not exclude Cubans from being able to invest in their own country, however, holding eager ones back, reminds them, this offer is only  for those whose net worth and residence are stablished abroad.

Needless to say, such a statement, excludes a private sector that struggles to survive in the Island, in spite of all obstacles imposed by a dull system, obsessed in demonstrating that “the anticipated bright future” is incubated in its state own socialist enterprise.

These two -apparently unrelated- news show the complexity of a failed society whose dictatorship not only coax civil and political liberties of my people, but as collateral, grabs with an iron hand their economic rights aswell.

Even so, in recent years, the increased tendency of some Cubans whom after residing for several years abroad -oblivious of reality in the island and having neglected their citizenship- has now returning to reside  in Cuba for good, through an insulting process called “repatriation”, humiliating euphemism given by the same (officials) who have deprived them of their right to travel and return freely, as if Homeland belonged to a few (in power) and not all of us instead.

Personally, I cannot understand under which mysterious reasoning, those who one day emigrated, stung by dreams of prosperity and from a complete certainty that they would never achieve it under a totalitarian police regime, come to conclusion, that only because they return with a few saved dollars  – even thousands, or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, in this case the amount is not relevant – today they will have more guarantees of success.

The naive ones must be aware of a bunch of snitches, there are still around each block (in the neighborhood), either by twisted conviction or primitive envy, they will inform about their every move, the moment they (private entrepreneurs) start a small business. Today the “juggling” needed to get goods in the Cuban (domestic) market, whether formal or informal, would make “Cirque du Soleil Stars” look like rookies; besides “an army” of crooked state inspectors and corrupted police officers -awaits in their neighborhood- “sharpening their teeth” to extort them; that there is no humane way to run a business in Cuba legally, because the very law that rules businesses is exquisitely designed to prevent it, and everything will have to occur “as illegally and secretly” as when they left, a case among many, in the exodus of 1994.

It is true, that everyone knows their own “Maleconazo” (1994 riot) and everyone understands their own reasons, but nobody should be so naive, assuming a false distension of the authorities after “the mirage of the Obama era”, because -sooner than later- they will collide with a reality as suffocating as the one that made them flee before. To expect something different would be like “building castles in the air”.

And it’s not about Trump’s strengthening US positions,  no; but Cuba remaining static because the dictatorship of Fidel and Raúl Castro – now with the new administrator Díaz-Canel at the threshold of the door, with the same Masters – remaining entrenched at the same position and betting on poverty for my people as a strategic weapon of control in order to stay in power.

Probably, at this moment, many returnees  regret the possibility of reversing the film, and have come to the conclusion that under such circumstances, it is not enough to own the capital, but rather to live ruled by institutions that protect and stimulate with sincere enthusiasm, producers  and small enterprises – contradicted reason  to major investors desperately needed in  today’s Cuba.

Whoever studies this Foreign Investment Law will advise that, it does not even wink at emigration, that it does not even imply any priority or preferred treatment, as anyone would expect. Rather, owners of the slum “place excuses beforehand” and clarify that everything will be on equal terms: in our case, the State Employer Company will also  mediate to pocket 90% of our wages; Cuban authorities will designate, with no exception, each operator and engineer within these companies – among which the State Security will infiltrate their henchmen – and will keep 60% of all benefits.

Such carelessness raises such unfair rules of the game, that so far no one bites the hook, and Mariel’s Special Development Zone sits idle and dusty as a witness – a project that so far has attracted only 15% of investments and profits expected by   Castro regime.

Then the question that follows: Why if the Foreign Investment Law has failed to appeal the rest of the world, it would appeal to Cuban Diaspora that knows the bird by its color? What make clown Bruno Parrilla, chameleon Malmierca, pub  administrator Diaz-Canel, and their boss, Raúl Castro, think, that emigrants will fall for a scheme they know better than anyone else?

Why would exiled Cuban entrepreneurs take chances under current circumstances, knowing that all profits will go directly to finance repressive forces of regime? Why is it, our fellow emigrant choose to pay $10,000 to traffickers on the Straits of Florida or Central America, and does not even consider investing his own country? Why do their relatives in Miami  follow the same reasoning and support them?

Would third world emigrants -who take up the same coyote route- take chances on a  reckless venture should they had $10,000 to finance a family business? What powerful reason convinces Cubans that no capital is worth in this broke Cuba that flee from out of despair? How to understand that in recent years Cubans took more than 2.3 billion dollars annually out of the country to buy abroad to supply the black market –figures coincidentally similar to the 2.5 billion annually that experts set as a goal for the Foreign investment that Cuba needs to get out of this predicament? The similarity of these figures denounces the scale of the absurd.

All of this, must be taken into account by Cuban emigrants when planning on coming back. Should that effort is fueled by nostalgia of those little details and simply prefer to keep those many things that cuddle their romantic heart, oh well, “go for it”, !A natural desire of returning to the womb and your home, no matter how distorted our reality is, but you should never be so naive to set sail on a return trip assuming that something has changed in Cuba: you must be certain that in the meadows of your childhood today, you will find burnt land, and a country that in many respects it resemblance the darkest phase of the “special period” (worst crisis of the 90s).

Future returnees must be aware they return to a harsh battlefield. There are  more than fifty Cuban corpses that have been swallowed by the Darien jungle to prove it, as a clear warning. Meanwhile dictatorship ensures nothing happens, that tenseness will be a matter of a few months, that we should not fear hunger since chubby generals will guarantee everyone “Hutia meat and Ostrich milk”, that there is nothing to worry about or bringing ghosts from the past, because the “special period” was already buried thanks to the brilliant directives left by the enlightened Fidel Castro.

And to top it off now they tell us that emigrants can invest in Cuba, which should only be taken as proof of despair, coming from a regime that will never cease to despise us. The one thing despots do not tell is that once their money has been invested, their business has failed and their assets confiscated, returnees will face the only two choices left: either they end up in prison or try ,desperately,  the same route back again through Darién jungle. Luckily, we are certain, or hopeful, that “Liborio” might be poor, but his not a fool.

Translated by RAFAEL

Letter From a Cuban Citizen to Diaz-Canel / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Source AFP

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 31 July 2019 — No, Mister Administrator, Cuba does not need to make peace with the United States in order to move forward, because this country’s future cannot be dependent on its relations with any foreign government, but on maintaining flexible and interactive relations with the largest possible number of commercial partners, with a dynamic economy truly open to the world, and with independent politics, as befits an archipelago, without any subordination or blackmail.

Perhaps when I say that, there are, in your subconscience, reverberations of long decades of absolute dependence on foreign economies — today called Venezuelan Chavomadurism, and yesterday Soviet Stalinism — and during that time the natural vassalage of the Havana regime was tied to an uninterrupted line of parasitism, without which the Cuban construct would have collapsed in just a few years, buried under the undeniable mediocrity of its architect in chief.

Nevertheless, Mister, in spite of everything, Cuba does not need the dictatorship you lead to normalise its relations with the United States. Cuba only requires, and very urgently, that those people, who so brutally misrule it, decide to normalise its relations with its own people. And to do that it isn’t necessary to look to the north for agreements with Washington, or down south to grab oil from Caracas, or to Mao in the far west, or to the new Czars of the post-Perestroika east. Just look to Cuba, to get out of the abyss, and enjoy a proper rule of law. continue reading

In a proper rule of law, Cubans could get together in different parties which, with their different points of view, would propose different ways out of the dreadful  problems created by of the ankylosis of the ancient octogenarians, and could set up a proper basis for a participative democracy. This would produce a thriving civil society which would oblige the government to properly account for its acts, not like now, where it is judge and jury. But, seeing as this is hardly likely to happen, I would like to offer you here, Mister Administrator, another way out which, as you will see, does not involve the resignation of the government, but only improvement in the standard of life of my people.

To achieve that, all that would have to be done would be to free up the domestic market, create a legal framework for a reliable contractual process for all types of producers, with guaranteed due reward for their work; provide legal personality for all private and family businesses, so that they can run and market their businesses with real autonomy within and outside Cuba, without the interference which torments them now, as well as creating a fiscal system which guarantees fair, universal and organised taxation, with no exemptions.

They should authorise and unconditionally stimulate, and prioritize over everything, large scale investment by our expats, entirely in line with their natural right as Cubans, although they should also open up the country without fear, redesigning the legal framework, and always looking after our national interest, for an essential inward flow of investment, but on a realistic basis, and without the unfair regulations imposed by the current Law 118.

In line with more civilised social norms, any person, exercising freedom of opinion, would be able to denounce any abuse of the freedom of the press, or commence due legal process against any authority infringing his rights. All of this would create ideal conditions in which, in a short space of time, our small and medium private businesses would prosper, and, without doubt, in just a few years, our rate of development would rocket, for everyone’s benefit, and not just for the foul entrenched bourgeoisie. But such a new Cuba couldn’t flourish unless the despots, who now pull all the political strings, perpetuating the autocracy created by the obsessive neurotic who betrayed his people 60 years ago, move over. And that, Mister, is something the masters of this dive are not about to do.

As and when we come to it, any true solution to the Cuban problem has to include the abdication of the historic nomenklatura which continues to obstruct our progress, so that they can devote their time to raising jutias (a kind of large Cuban hamster), getting out of the way of a new reformist government, which is able to think in terms of the country and not just a political sect.

To achieve that, it needs you, Mister Administrator, to start asking your masters to get out of the way of this people who detest them, and you will see how, in the course of a single generation we will have a country which is unrecognisable, with a booming, prosperous economy, because we are yearning for our liberty, which is not  so much held back by the embargo, fertilised by Fidel Castro’s litigant speechifying, but more by the internal blockage which you have just begun to notice, like someone who has just discovered cold water.

To cut a long story short, it would be something if your government, Mister Administrator, ratified the International Convenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which, with chameleon-like cowardice, Raul Castro first signed, then shelved, more than ten years ago, which, obviously, tells you that you need to comply with legal obligations on human rights which affect millions of Cubans.

Mister Administrator, when we stop worrying about banana phantoms (Mexican banana and chocolate treats for kids, which look like ghosts), it will be a whole new day. Get rid of the dictators, and we will see a Cuban miracle in a few years! For this to come about doesn’t mean you have to normalise relations with the United States, but rather that the moribund Castrismo, which you are currently and passively managing, stops playing the neighbourhood bully, stops behaving like a totalitarian police state, and decides to coexist in peace with its own people.

Finally, and in short, start by putting together, from square one, all the country’s political and economic strategies, break away from this appalling stasis, and create conditions in which all our countrymen, in the island and outside it, without political discrimination, can start the urgent work of developing the Cuban nation.

Translated by GH

Social Media Censorship In Cuba: Another Turn Of The Screw / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 11 July 2019 — In the last few days we have seen the crystallisation of the Cuban government’s posture on the use of social media and websites in our country. The authorities in Havana have decided that from now on they will regulate even more closely the activity in these sites by way of legislation sanctioning anyone who, in accordance with official criteria, tries, by way of social media, or web sites, “… to spread, using public data transmission networks, information contrary to social or moral interest, good custom, or the integrity of any person …”, and, at the same time, prohibits the operation of any site whose primary server functions outside Cuba, with a penalty of up to 1000 CUP.

The controversial measures announced by the Ministry of Communications had already leaked out, to “authorise” — for which read “limit” or “control” — SNet, the extensive offline medium which has operated clandestinely for years in Cuba. The Ministry will limit the maximum power of its equipment to 100 milliwatts, which in practice would imply its eventual collapse. If on top of that we now add the new prohibition on freely putting anything out “contrary to social interest …” — which is a catch-all for just about anything — from public media, we begin to see la mano peluda [the dismembered hairy hand, which is a famous Mexican horror image] behind the cradle. continue reading

These measures reveal the evident terror, which has sprung up in the Cuban regime, of the power of the media to mobilise and speak out, and demonstrate perfectly clearly why they have done, and continue to do, everything they can to set back the penetration of the internet in our country, and imposing, one step at a time, the strictest censorship, maintaining a systematic domestic intelligence on what information is entering or leaving Cuba; and all of this on the basis of pricing which is prohibitive for ordinary Cubans.

Although the Havana oligarchs are fearful of a potential tropical version of the Arab Spring, without doubt they are aware that a North Korean style model of cyber control is a bit over the top in our context since it would be very disturbing  for a tourism industry in evident decline and would lead to perpetual awkward protests in many virtual and physical forums. Because of that, the guys from the Plaza [La Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana – where many political rallies take place] have opted for an alternative, less contentious, strategy of containment, but one which is nearly as efficient as that model.

With this alternative version, the Castro dictatorship has opted for a mixture, which varies with whatever tactical necessity, of a Beijing type totalitarianism and a Stalinist practice, which is by no means extinct, with the unmistakable signature of the KGB: systematic censorship using aggressive commentators, and the perpetual use of legions of trolls, cleverly combined with physical repression of activist dissidents and the independent press, such as by the use of laws which severely punish “crimes” which are just rights vetoed by a police state.

And, although the potential of social media in Cuba has not yet been more than hinted at, it’s quite enough for some shit to hit the panic button in the reactionary Politburo of the Central Committee and the cold offices of its despicable political police, which is where, without doubt, they are better able to assess the situation , because it is where they are better informed about the general frustration felt in the street, and the real extent of the hatred  felt by the Cuban people for those responsible for their misrule and subjugation.

Nevertheless, up to now, we hardly attend the habitual complaints of arbitrary raids and constant short-term arrests, the pitiless deluge of taunts against General “Jutía” Frías rambling on like an old idiot about ostriches [Comandante de la Revolucion who, in the face of Cuban food shortages, said “let them eat ostriches” or the repeated messages under the hashtag #BajenLosPreciosDeInternet denouncing the monopolistic abuses of ETECSA (the state telecoms company), among other nonsense and excesses.

Although the consequences haven’t always been virtual: we were also witnesses to how, on 12th of May last, the social media were the determining factor in the irreverent mobilisation of the LGBTI community in Havana, which resulted in a scandalous, and definitely physical, repressive operation organised by the State Security in the Paseo de Prado, and this still has a bad smell. It looks like we are all up to here with authorities who are  completely unwilling to tolerate any disagreement, whether physical or virtual.

There are various indications which show that the Cuban dictatorship continues to be stuck in the ’60’s: the recent imposition of Law 349 which, even when it has been watered down, seriously limits creative freedom, or the amendment imposed to the recently-approved Cinema Law, which will be the mano peluda (see the above translator’s note) which will, at the end of the day, authorise such licences. Although all that intransigence could be more clearly seen summed up in the embarrassing harangue that Diaz-Canel gave on the eve of the the UNEAC Congress — virtually a carbon copy of Fidel Castro’s notorious “Words to the intellectuals“, seen by many as a veiled threat.

Although, in reality, what is coming up now has been practised before by the regime and widely known and suffered by the dissidents. The only thing new here is the official advert, and as this site operates out of WordPress, a platform whose servers are of course not in Cuba, I could not turn a deaf ear, after which there is nothing much more to add.

My last words will, therefore, be brief — and I hope will be well understood by everyone who commits cyber identity theft, and every repressor: this humble blog is a space for free thought, in which I exercise my human right to express my sincerely-held opinions, and no tyrant has any authority over that. This site will stay open and active as long as there is a de facto power in my country which violates the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of my people.

Right now I am living temporarily outside of Cuba, but when I return, and I will definitely, if there is still this unfair regulation in place, I will not let it crush me, and every word I have said here I will keep to against all banners. The person who administers Ciudadano Cero (that is, this blog) is ready to defend his right to express his opinion, from wherever, regardless of the consequences.

Ah! … and on that subject: I, like Jose Daniel Ferrer, dont pay fines either

Translated by GH

Reflection on the Student Protest in Havana / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Cuban police repressing Congolese Medical Students protesting the failure to pay their stipends.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 17 April 2019 — He would allow me to call him ‘brother’ even though he doesn’t know me. It would be enough to know that I am a Cuban doctor who graduated in 1994 in Havana, three facts about myself that made me feel moved by the events that took place some day ago for him and the rest of the Congolese students in the Student Residence of the Salvador Allende School of Medicine.

During my years at G and 25th streets, studying on a scholarship at the Calixto García Faculty in the early 90s, I met more than a few African students, among them some Congolese, and I remember them as good students, generally focused and calm, educated and affable , good companions and friends.

That is why the protests now being carried out by this generation convinced me, from their very first moments, that there must be very good reasons for the mood to get so heated. Then I learned that for months to students had been appealing to whatever authority they could to try to solve something clearly unfair, receiving only evasive responses; the reasons began to emerge. continue reading

Then we saw how the official Cuban press, with its usual cynicism, spoke in terms of “delay,” when in fact it is about the blatant non-payment of 27 months of the stipends of hundreds of students! Students who know that this money should have arrived monthly in their hands by virtue of a clearagreement. They also infer — which is even more outrageous — that this money was perhaps diverted, with a very high degree of certainty, into the pockets of some other corrupt official.

No one is surprised to hear such an offensive euphemism from the official Cuban press, because it is already part of the usual shamelessness of this monster controlled by the same despots of the Plaza of the Revolution who, by that time, had sent their repressive elite troops against defenseless students, totally screwed in the already extinct autonomous university.

Nothing makes a dictatorship more nervous than a public protest, whatever its size. But when those squads of special troops deployed threateningly in front of the school, it was not really against these young Congolese that the message was directed; these students, despite their many reasons, were protesting peacefully. That message of intimidation was targeted directly against the subconscious of the Cuban people, and was launched by a dictatorship expert in exercising all kinds of physical and psychological violence.

It was a diaphanously clear message: do not be sympathetic, public protests are strictly forbidden in Castro’s Cuba, on pain of receiving the most devastating beating. A clear warning was thus issued to all the Cuban people, now that the Castro regime is going through one of its deepest economic and political crises, while Caracas is faltering and Havana’s credibility is at rock bottom, and they are fearfull the protests will become widespread due to the unjustifiable poverty accumulated after six decades of opportunism and neglect.

The Cuban dictatorship is too cunning to not realize that it is sitting on a powder keg, it knows very well that my people hate it to the core, and like the fear this people town exhibits, gratuitously and whenever the opportunity presents, it unleashed all its repressive brutality.

In that tense moment the merits of the demands didn’t matter to Havana’s repressors. None of the reasons given would move them at all: sixty years of turning a deaf ear to the needs of millions of Cubansmust have trained them to ignore any such complaint. Once again it was a matter of repressing simply to repress, because that is a cardinal question of principles for any good dictatorship.

And, for the cherry on top, ultimately we heard that someone, on behalf of several students, by message on social networks. immediately magnified by the government press, apologized to the Cuban people.

Although the demands were very clear and were directed exclusively and unequivocally to the government of the Congo, the puppet press in Havana did not wait and expanded on baseless accusations, launching gratuitous accusations about an alleged “political manipulation” of the facts by the “enemies of the Revolution,” something that in no way corresponded to the truth.

I already imagine the pressures to which they would be subjected, and in this respect all fear is justified. Let’s not forget that the university in Cuba does not belong to the people, but to the “revolutionaries.”  We recall the recent expulsions of several university students for political reasons, and that the infamous “Rapid Response Brigades” were once again activated in each of these central universities.

And all this does not happen in 1965, but in 2019, which establishes an uninterrupted line of terror that covers the entire Castro regime, and there are the facts to prove it before history.

But what is said, is said, and I would answer: brother, this good people that welcomes you today does not need your apologies. Rather thank you to remember them with your gallantry in times past, when the university staircase was a sacred site; that there was once a University Student Federation (FEU) founded by that brave Julio Antonio Mella murdered for his ideas, and then guided by an José Antonio Echavarría to star in the most reckless gesture of that Revolution, so authentic and necessary and then later betrayed by the great demagogue, Fidel Castro.

There is nothing left of that FEU, only its mute complicity, hidden in its mousetrap while the riot police repressed its own students — because most of those students must have active membership in the FEU — it’s worth remembering that more than half a century ago that FEU, like the rest of the organizations of its kind in Cuba, was castrated and reduced to rubble, to its sad role today under direct control of and in the exclusive service of the Communist Party.

The repression now suffered by these young Africans is the same long suffered for six decades by the Cuban people, who have exhausted the hope of justice and have only received, like them, unfulfilled promises, vain verbiage thrown to the wind by a caste of neo-bourgeois whose presence at the head of my country is their greatest shame. This clan of decrepit old people, despoilers of the public treasury of the Cuban nation, who eternally announce bad times, today invite us to be sated with jutía skin and ostrich tripe from the opulence of their table.

But I know that deep down they no longer deceive they, because with the beating came the disenchantment, confessed or unconfessed, it hardly matters anymore. I only hope that when, once graduated and wherever he is, when my friend remembers Cuba he knows how to distinguish clearly between the dictatorship and my people that I know would allow me to call him brother, even if he does not know me. And may he never forget that this time life put us in the same ring on the side of the offended.

Dilemma of Cuban Doctors Withdrawn from Brazil / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Vega — Why are so few people surprised that the Castro regime withdrew its collaborators from the Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program in Brazil?

As soon as his investiture was announced, the elected president of the giant of the south, Jair Balsonaro, confirmed what he had announced several months ago and what already seems an accomplished fact: he will only allow the Cuban physicians to remain in Brazil if they pass a Brazilian licensing exam and if they are paid their salary in full regardless of the intermediation of the government of Havana. In exchange, he guarantees these professionals immediate residence in country and visas for all their family members, something the Plaza of the Revolution rejected outright, as expected.

The modifications announced impose unacceptable conditions and breach the guarantees agreed upon since the beginning of the Program…” argued the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, although in reality the dictatorship’s meaning is: such modifications would not allow me to cheat my slaves out of three quarters of their salary which, until now, I was unscrupulously stealing. continue reading

This clearly demonstrates that as far as the Cuban dictatorship is concerned, closing off the faucet of profit also automatically and instantly extinguishes its “philanthropic vocation.” Because according to the words through which the Castros have governed Cuba, “philanthropy” has presumably been the raison d’etre of the more than sixty official medical missions that the regime of the island sustains abroad: everything has been done, first and foremost, for purely humanitarian reasons.

That, in passing, these magnates have pocketed more than 10 billion dollars, guaranteed, each year for the last two decades, well… those are secondary details! But absolutely first and foremost, according to the cynical jargon of the dictators, has been the “internationalist vocation” of the Cuban “Rob-olution” and the altruism of those thousands of professionals who opted fervently for that alternative, not as an act of despair because in Cuba they live on the verge of misery with an absurd salary, but rather because everything they did was done disinterestedly for the poor of the Earth.

But now, suddenly, it seems the poverty of Brazil’s favelas — its urban slums — and Amazon has ended. Now, that the pimp will not receive more easy money, it turns out that he collects his shillings and orders his pure victims to report immediately in Havana. Now that the money for the dictatorship has stopped flowing, the same poor people who until yesterday adorned the rhetoric of the speeches no longer matter.

How many doctors will return to Cuba* and how many will have the courage to dare to try their luck and exercise freely in that country, from now on under decent conditions? Half and half? Will a third, or a quarter, defect? This remains to be seen. Betting on a figure is risky because you should not underestimate the power of coercion, intimidation and control which the most virulent dictatorship in the hemisphere is capable of exercising over its citizens, even when separated from them by thousands of miles across the sea.

We cannot forget that when they went to Brazil they left behind in Cuba  parents, husbands and wives and children held hostage, and that the regime is an expert in playing those cards without mercy whenever it pleases, and much more so if they give it the ability to hurt where it hurts most.

Nobody doubts the certain reprisals Havana will take against the irreverent ones. In fact, many cases visits from the “black hand of the regime” have already been reported by family members on the island, threatening them with greater or lesser subtlety, but always leaving clearly planted the aberrant idea: if their family members in Brazildare to desert they will not see them again for at least eight years

Undoubtedly, risking close to a decade without seeing one’s children will be something that will have a strong dissuasive power, and this is very clear to the Cuban collaborators themselves, so the decision will depend on the concept that each one has of himself, the degree of nobility she is capable of taking on this dilemma, and — why not? — even their philosophy of life; in short, something reserved only for the elect, for those more free, or perhaps the most reckless?

But if there is one thing there is no question about, it is that with this move Balsonaro screwed, in fact really fucked, Raul Castro and company, because those more than 11,400 Cuban doctors deployed in Brazil, represented so far nothing more and nothing less than a fifth of the total collaborators deployed all over the world, which implies that the pimps of the Plaza will suddenly find more than 2 billion dollars per year will disappear and no longer be deposited in their secret accounts.

And to this multibillion-dollar impact must be added to despicable political blow dealt to the very testicles of the dictatorship when the final number of deserters is announced, and the repressors know it, which is why they haven’t wasted any time to avoid it, making use of their usual miserable tricks.

But in the end, would Havana risk retaining thousands of relatives in Cuba who request reunification with the approval of the host country? What would it argue in that case to disguise what would clearly be an open retaliation, violating the most basic rights of those families separated by force? Would it be able to withstand the political pressure that thousands of Elians** would generate, but vice versa, requested by their parents to join them, from Brazil? Only to imagine the drama intimidates.

But let us not underestimate a well-demonstrated fact: the ability of the island’s authorities, always blinded by arrogance, to shuffle obtuse decisions in the face of similar situations in order to finally settle for the stupidest, for which the above-mentioned is a scenario that can not be discarded at all.

Let us not forget that greed obfuscates these satraps who continue to call the authentic democratic exercise of parliament that, making a natural use of its powers, pushed aside the corrupt Dilma Rousseff through tools clearly established in their laws and its Constitution, a “… legislative-judicial coup d’état … ”

A second wave of the Ladies in White could be the answer to such a decree, something that I, in the place of Raul Castro, would not risk at a time when his ill-fated day is approaching: the one that will see Nicolás Maduro leave through a popular and forceful kick in the ass in the already imminent elections of 2019, and a replacement announcing from Miraflores Palace, in the name of the Venezuelan people, that they are not willing to serve as pimps for Havana.

Translator’s notes:

*This article was written before the final accounting of doctors returning and not returning to Cuba from Brazil, but it appears that a considerable number stayed behind.

** A reference to Elian Gonzalez, the child rafter rescued from the sea, who in the year 2000 was the subject of a major international spectacle as his custody was disputed.

Alejandro Castro Espin: President of Cuba for 2023? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Raul Castro’s son, Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 27 January 2018 — The very notable absence of Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín on the nominating list of the National Assembly of People’s Power only confirms the suspicions of many analysts: the Castro clan opted to continue ruling from the sidelines. It was an open secret that the Prince of the Plaza was contemplated until relatively recently by the elite of Havana as a real possibility to be the next president, should it happen that, at the decisive moment, there was no other candidate both predictable enough and completely lacking in charisma so as not to be a threat to the establishment.

Someone minimally presentable and capable of taking on the masquerade of the Castro “succession” before the world.  But once the complete submission of the current dauphin, vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, to the government’s hardline was secured, the soup was ready to be served. continue reading

Many foresaw it. Personally, I always doubted Castro Espín’s intentions to stand for President in 2018. To take for granted such a step was to underestimate the chameleonic capacity for mimicry of a dictatorship like the Cuban one, which has never needed to expose itself so crudely.

Baring oneself and putting one’s true dynastic vocation on display is something that does not go with the style of the Birán clan. Those would be pathetic vulgarities that would be expected from cartoons like Kim Jong-un from his Pyongyang headquarters, but not from the fine boys in Havana.

Here in the tropics the minions of my people have been incomparably more creative and subtle. For one thing, they have squandered a considerable part of our heritage — the part they did not manage to hide in Switzerland — in putting together one of the most extensive and paralyzing intelligence apparatuses in the world. This apparatus, “coincidently,” now happens to be in the hands of Castro Espín, which suggests a quiet hurricane season for 2018.

That Raúl Castro will continue to govern the island from his position as First Secretary of the Communist Party no one doubts, not even those dumber than a plank; that is something already written in the Bible. However, it might seem confusing to those who evaluate the Cuban reality from the outside and do not understand that in this country the People’s Power has never ruled, since who really calls the shots here is the Supreme Party.

From the seat of the Central Committee the only legal party in Cuba dictates by decree all the country’s policies, without exception, which are then presented before the most docile and indecent “Parliament” in the world, where they are all are ratified by unanimous agreement.

With this farce guaranteed no one should doubt that as of this April the real leader will continue to be Raul Castro from his position at the head of the Communist Party. After all, this is what he’s trained his henchmen for.

From his strategic position at the head of the “mega-firm” GAESA, his former son-in-law General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas today monopolizes two thirds of the Cuban economy through direct control of the largest and most lucrative corporations in the country, practically all managed by the military.

On the other hand his son, the aforementioned Colonel Castro Espín, for several years now has been the main depository of every secret of the fearsome Cuban intelligence and counterintelligence, with all of its enormous power of penetration, threat and blackmail.

Looking at the matter in persepctive, one arrives at the obvious conclusion that everything will be in-house, and Raul Castro will be “retired” from the government, with everyone’s back well-covered. That is why this mafia will not need to expose itself to the public light: to maintain an absolute control it will be enough to put any marionette on the stage and let him perform his clowning before the world.

It could be Diaz-Canel, Esteban Lazo, or even someone as gray as Bruno Parrilla, and they might just as easily have summoned from among the deceased Enrique Arredondo, Teófilo Stevenson or Agustín Marquetti, it would not matter. It would be the least important detail because none of them, neither those nor these, would be able to decide absolutely anything during the buffoonery that Cuba will witness during the next five years.

So after this next five-year term, looking ahead to the “elections” of 2023, the true intentions of the family clan will be clear, because by then all the police and propaganda apparatus of power will be turned over to progressively imposing Alejandro Castro Espín as successor to the throne.

Anyone who wants to see the picture most clearly can pour water on it. They will have time to prepare their shells according to the regulations of Castro Primero, having passed through Castro Segundo, with this “democratic” five-year bypass — called to convince the most naive that in Cuba there never existed a North Korean style dynastic socialism — until the final and strategic consummation of the plan: a third Castro president starting 2023, and with obvious intentions to perpetuate himself in power. Who knows? It could be for another 50 years.

Once this is understood, to calibrate the final formula it is enough to add the classic 0.5% of informants and repressors estimated as sufficient in the dictatorship manuals, and scatter them along each street of this little island; all that cream of unscrupulousness floating on the dung heap of opportunism which is never lacking in these situations; as well as the dozens of loyal retired generals actively guarding their little scraps of power, among other disgraces, all of this emanating from Castroism.

Let us remember José Martí: The bad only triumph where the good are indifferent. Many other variables influence this dynamic, of course, but among the most important, undoubtedly, are the immobility and indolence of all the current generations of Cubans, the institutionalized apathy and the absolute civic apathy in which this country has sunk, and the ignominy and greed that still threaten to perpetuate miseries on the exhausted remains of the Cuban nation.

Sonic Attack in Havana. A Script Worthy of Hollywood? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 3 October 2017 — You could see the present diplomatic crisis between Cuba and the United States as just one more stage in the long running saga, but the present duel is nevertheless different from the others,  having arisen in the difficult context of the arrival of an administration in the White House which has never concealed its intention of radically changing its predecessor’s legacy in relation to the dictatorship.

In the course of the succession of North American presidents since 1959, there has never been such a marked divergence of intentions between two successive occupants in relation to the government of the island. If we dismiss the barely hinted at approaches by Kennedy just before he was assassinated, not even the contrast between Jimmy Carter’s suggested detente and Ronald Reagan’s reinstated hard line is comparable in its violence with the post-Obama about-turn. continue reading

For that reason the present diplomatic crisis provoked by the suspected acoustic attack against American diplomats in the Havana embassy has its own particular flavour. In fact it is the first one of such importance which has occurred since Trump’s arrival, and, worryingly, has greater long term implications than the foreign policy changes announced last June.

But what really hits you in the face is that the US has flat out suspended the issue of visas and is withdrawing three out of every five diplomats based in Havana under the pretext of such an inconsistent and unbelievable accusation. Biassed accusations from the North American side and minimal comment from the Cuban have characterised this story for months, and today most of us have no proper idea of what happened.

We are talking about supposed sonic attacks (??) which ended up causing psychological and auditory damage to 21 embassy officials, according to the Americans, who have not directly accused the Cuban government but have strongly hinted at it publicly. Havana has, of course, replied that it knows nothing, but is ready to collaborate in any way to clarify the situation.

But, at the end of the day, who could be behind these supposed attacks? Who could want a total diplomatic breakdown? This needs a cool logical analysis because behind the answer to these question is the face of a conspirator.

The American version has various strange aspects. According to this, the attacks occurred in different hotels in Havana, as well as in the embassy. But to claim that, with a sniper’s accuracy, they only affected the eardrums and brains of diplomatic officials, and to be able to commit this damage over such a long period of time without it being picked up by the counter-espionage resources attached to the embassy, is pretty inconsistent.

There haven’t even been any reports of collateral injury in any of these locations affecting Cuban employees, or those of any other countries — if there are any — working in the embassy, or other workers, neighbours, or non-American tourists potentially exposed by chance to the attack. This is something, at least, very strange; it sounds too bizarre.

But even so, and if we grant for the moment that the attacks happened, we still haven’t defined who ordered them. And I say that because the notion of carrying out the aggression off their own bat in the context of a false news operation will always be a possibility in a geopolitical U-turn, especially when we are dealing with the United States.

We cannot forget the sinking of the battleship Maine — the US pretext for barging into the Spanish-Cuban war — or the attack which was permitted in Pearl Harbour, which was used as the pretext for entering into the Second World War, when all the Japanese Admiralty communications intercepted in real time allowed them to fully anticipate the attack. Don’t even talk about the 9/11 disasters with the dozens of examples of outrageous evidence accusing the George W. Bush administration of, at least, open complicity — all with the objective of Middle Eastern influence. There are dozens of other examples.

Therefore it is worth analysing the posture struck by both parties in regard to the resumption and maintenance of diplomatic relations, as well as the convenience, or not, for either side, of the refreezing of the thaw.

Looking at the North American side, one can see a crude manoeuvre to justify the reduction to the minimum possible the work of the recently unveiled embassy in Havana, without going for a total rupture: a kind of being incommunicado, or Cold War Diplomacy, as you might say.

Above all, Trump has never disguised his dislike of immigration, and, with these measures, he can guarantee the interruption, for now, of the granting of thousands of visas for Cubans, at the same time as, undoubtedly advised by the hard-line Florida lobby, depriving the dictatorship of its main escape valve.

What would Trump gain? As well as cutting off the flow of thousands of potential immigrants assisted by the Cuban Adjustment Act, he will have worked out that in very little time the internal pressures will become unmanageable for a second Castro who needs some peaceful pastureland to feed the  millions in his flock, without shocking them.

Looking at the Cuban side, it could be a stupid hard line move by the Plaza of the Revolucion but a practical one, in order to revert to the icy tone of the Cold War instead of carrying on towards a thaw. In spite of everything, the motto remains “be unscrupulous” and nothing will get in the way of its desire to make sure the puppet stays in its place, because they know that only by keeping the domino immobilised can they control the reins of a people who are every day more impatient.

What would  Raúl Castro and his people gain from this? Keeping control. At the end of the day, they know that Trump is serious when he says that he gives nothing for nothing, the know that they are dealing with an inflexible negotiator, and there is no way they are going to go along with the proposed formula: doing business with the Cubans, but without much to do with Castro’s military conglomerate. In other words, nothing for the tyrant. It’s a question of take it or leave it – period. Nothing like Obama’s weak little gestures which gave no additional freedom to Liberio [ed. note: a kind of  traditional Cuban “good ol’ boy”, and, by extension, the Cuban people].

This waste-of-space is not interested in too many opening moves, which he has demonstrated often enough. But what is clear is that money sent back by emigrants — with the Cuban Americans without doubt sending a substantial percentage — is one of the main sources of foreign exchange right now — estimated at about $3.5 billion in total — for which, if we are talking about motives, every move which affects the flow of emigrants works against the inflow of money, or, what comes to the same thing, less money to put in his personal piggy banks. That wouldn’t seem to be the intention of Ali Baba and his 40 generals.

In this autumn thriller, the compass’s moving finger points accusingly toward the magnetic north. While that is happening Donald Trump will go on making his demands and Raúl Castro, as always, will bet on his hostages.

Translated by GH