Decrepit Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 15 May 2015 — Cuba’s sun beats down on everything. Shrinking the eyes. Crushing the skin. Dehydrating us, making us seem older than we have always been.

And it’s not only Cuba’s sun. It is Miami’s sun, too. Which is indistinguishable with so much uncivil barbarity.

Below that continuous light without gaps, which flattens out forms and extinguishes colors, we Cubans have very little to do. That excessive luminosity is called Castroism, and it existed before and will exist after Castro. continue reading

There are no hues, there is no texture nor context. Nothing is subtle or mysterious. Everything is body and corpse. Cuba like a great Castroite caiman, from San Antonio to Maisí (that is to say, between Maceo and Martí: the violence that decapitates and the violence of the demagogue).

From that country without shadows is what we Cubans escape. From its history of eternal day, without nights in which to be oneself. With no space for pleasure, understood as freedom and not as animalism. That is why there is no possible return to an Island without imagination, where everything is factual yet fictitious, where our life passes us by in a kind of restless sleep yet it is impossible to dream.

Cuba has no State and has no God. In its midst, there does not yet exist the first Cuban man who will survive that oversaturated absence of light. (When one is born, they assassinate him in the plain light of day.) To speak of hope in Cuba is to spit upon the remnants of our intelligence, and even upon that instinct for self-preservation that disguises our cowardice as dignity.

He who respects his love will leave Cuba immediately. To love in Cuba is to betray love.

Go, Cubano. Go, Cubana. For you. For him, for her, for love.

Do not perpetuate with your pathos that Cuba that is only body and corpse with no heart.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Dearest Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

OLPresident

Barack Obama, behind, channeling the corpse of Hugo Chavez

The presidents of the USA have been a taboo subject in Cuba for 55 years. The image of the Bad Imperialist can only be authorized by the top propaganda authorities of the Communist Party (the only legal one on the island) or, when appropriate, by the very Council of State.  The idea was to depersonalize and discredit all the men of the White House (the documentary pamphleteer Santiago Alvarez embodied the vile vanguard of that mission). The external enemy has to be artificially animalized, to be slain just the same as one more internal opponent. Only in that way, by a simple media comparison for the eyes of a captive audience, would the elevated image of our Maximum Leader shine brighter in our hearts.

Fidel the future, Eisenhower the fossil; Fidel the strapping, handsome proletarian, Kennedy the bourgeois little asshole; Fidel the internationalist warrior, Johnson the international warmonger; Fidel sincere to the bone; Nixon scandalously phony; Fidel the perpetual comrade; Ford this year’s fleeting model; Fidel the pitcher, Carter the catcher; Fidel the still-young star, Reagan the nearly senile stuntman; Fidel in the “Special Period in Times of Peace,” Bush the bombings of post-perestroika; Fidel celibate, Clinton promiscuous; Fidel the horse, W. Bush the jackass; Fidel the dove who has been robbed several times of his Nobel Peace Price, Obama the white hawk with a blackbird’s feathers (the official Cuban press racistly accused him of betraying his own race). continue reading

After nearly a decade of being censored in Cuba (in spite of receiving the clear signal and being invaded by Cuban personnel), the TeleSUR channel started to be free in Cuba as a gift from Raul in the New Year. Now it’s not just the pirate patch of Walter Martinez on tape, savoring the Bolivarian mush to the illiterate and fanatics of the continent, but rather, since January 2013, it’s finally Mr. Barack Obama, live and kicking on every TV in Havana.

And, to the confusion of everyone at home, it turns out that the skinny kid from The Mulatto House in Washington doesn’t shout, nor present a threat to the public with his hooked fingers, nor wear a military uniform, nor spend hours and hours giving speeches to the millions and millions of his Babylonian nation. To top it off, the guy looks like a citizen and, as such, talks about urgent environmental concerns, about minority rights (representing the local LGBT community better than our National Assembly), or social projects that don’t need another half-century of sacrifice (while at the same time the police authorize a protest against him).

In my surveilled neighborhood of Lawton, after seeing this unheard of thing—a civilian president who does not preside in perpetuity—there were those who made the joke that the next People’s Power electoral ballot should include an extra box to check for “Deputy Obama.” I should publicize that humorous story online. OK, now I’ve done it here.

If I were the Cuban government, I would not take so lightly the symptoms of satisfaction or scorn for our socialism within the Cuban neighborhood. And, just in case, I would prepare one more chair in the Palace of Conventions. The slogan of the plebiscite of the Castros to the Castros in 2018 could well be this:

Cuba, Obamaness is coming!

Translated by: BW

11 April 2015

Rosa Maria Returns to the Revolution of Death / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Click on image for link to video in Spanish
Click on image for link to video in Spanish

ROSA MARIA AND DEATH

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 11 May 2015

Since she was a little girl, death was a guest in her home. A guest no one invited in the midst of the family happiness, rather an intruder imposed by a fascist State called Revolution. A totalitarian state that began killing before the assault on power, killing that prevailed for decades, and that will end up killing more, sooner than later. It is the only logic of a governance in which the Castros are effective, a dynasty of several generations that were never elected in Cuba. Since she was a little girl, death peeked through the blinds and revealed the probable terror: she always knew that the Cuban wanted to kill her papá. continue reading

Rosa María Payá, after a year and a half living outside Cuba, returns today to the Island where lie the remains of Harold Cepero — her soulmate — and those of Oswaldo Payá. She brings them a flower. A little flower of the most commercial and cowardly Miami. Where thousands of “mules” travel daily as accomplices of the Castro regime. Where all the entrepreneurs are Castros with Cubanologist ties, but ultimately they are simply thirst for dollars and power. A caste that, with the story of the economic empowerment of civil society, aspires to enslave Cuba based on their earnings and their corruption. They are not another shitty mafia, but they are the same and of the same ideological sign as the shitty mafiosos of the Plaza of the Revolution.

Cepero and Payá were assassinated in Cuba by order of the high command of the Ministry of the Interior on Sunday, 22 July 2012. It was a personal vengeance on the part of the homicidal brothers. A crime against humanity whose atrocious guilt will never expire, and for which they will be held accountable before justice, including the descendants of the tyrants: in particular Alejandro Castro Espín, who was already in office when they killed Cepero and Paya.

This crime would never have been undertaken blindly. Before executing it, the Castro regime consulted on the double homicide with the highest spheres of power in the European Union and in the United States. And also with the insulting insular Catholic hierarchy, and it is possible with the Vatican (Ratzinger’s resignation will eventually be totally explained). The Cuban-American tycoons, of course, did their part, with the perverse promise they would soon be allowed to return.

Such a plot is not launched directly, but with hallway inquiries and social destabilization blackmail. With hostages and promises of appeasement. The diplomacy of disgust. And everyone was in agreement that there would be no penalty for the Castros for the death of a man in his sixties who to the majority felt too weighty, whose moral superiority is intolerable in Cuba and in our ex-exile. He had to be sacrificed to the sanctimoniousness of democracy. It had to sink Cuba even deeper into despair. Harold Cepero, on that summer afternoon, was just collateral damage. And if Rosa María had been traveling in that Hyundai rental car, as she thought she might hours beforehand, Rosa María  would have been buried three years ago along with her papá.

But today Rosa María Payá returns as a Cuban of Cuba to Cuba. The whole world, and especially the Casto agents of the Miami press, sneeringly called her on zero day a “refugee” and the last of the “exiled.” As if all of us Cubans, wherever we live, weren’t refugees and exiles under the boot of our olive-green barbarity. Now they will tell Rosa María  whatever other vile things, as soon as the officials of El Habana Herald sends them by email the ongoing strategy of stigmatization of her.

But Rosa María will face the executioners whom she has known since childhood to be hunting her papá to behead him. The family has not even been given the autopsy showing how Oswaldo Payá died. Only Fernando Ravsberg, a Uruguayan terrorist turned privileged journalist on the Island, wrote with demonic detail of the destruction of Payá’s body: head split into five pieces, almost decapitated, heart pierced and kidneys turned to “mush.”

Rosa María Payá faces Monday May 11, 2015 in Cuba with that “mush” of a nation. The detritus of a country without citizens. Without values. Without a vision of the future. Aberration in time. Constitutional ugliness. Hatred on the surface and language as a hobby in perpetuity. Culture of simulation and a vocation to kill or be killed. De-anthropological damage, inhumane humanity. A double lack of State and of God.

From the Castro regime we can expect anything against that girl visited by death in her dreams in El Cerro in the midst of the Special Period. Because today the assassins no longer need to consult on their crimes ahead of time. The hands of President Obama and those of Pope Francis have exquisitely stretched out to the Cuban dictator, the octogenarian who has been stained and stained again with the innocent blood of Cubans.

Pray for Rosa María, please, at least those who still retain a remnant of what it is to pray after half a century of strictly observed Revolution.

Rosa Maria Paya of Cuba and for Cuba

Statement from Rosa María Payá at the Summit of the Americas
Panama, 10 April 2015

Good day.

I would like to thank everyone for their willingness to dialog. We came willing to dialog. We wanted to listen to our Cuban brothers and sisters, who we know are in the same condition as ourselves.

I want to ask forgiveness from everyone in the name of the Cuban people for what just happened in the conference hall. Despite what you saw, we Cubans are a generous and caring people. Even those people who were there were also deprived of their rights. They also cannot decide. And probably did not decide to be there. These are the aberrations that occur when you live in a dictatorship.

My father, who was killed in an attack from the Cuban government just over two years ago, said that rights have no political color. Nor do dictatorships have a political color. And we are here today wanting to promote solutions to a problem that is no longer only Cuban, nor only Venezuelan. It is a regional problem, like that we just had here. Because we have all been affected by an intolerance that we do not share. continue reading

There are two points I would like to put forward.

The first is affecting us in several countries in the region: it is the issue of impunity. We see young people disappearing in Mexico. We see prosecutors who die the day before they present their evidence. We see children murdered on the streets of Caracas. My best friend and my father were murdered in an attack two and a half years ago, and we don’t even have an autopsy report. We know it is also an issue in Nicaragua and in Guatemala. I would like to settle our point in favor of stopping the impunity and calling attention to the political leadership of Latin America to stop this impunity and take impartial measures.

My second point perhaps could be understood as very particular, because it has to do with Cuba. But from Cuba there has been a marked interference (as there has been from other countries, such as the United States, but I am Cuban) and we have to stop the interference that in some places in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, the Cuba government is engaging in right now.

My point is in favor of the right of Cubans to decide. Cubans have not decided in free and plural elections for more than 60 years. We are asking for support for the right of Cubans to decide in a plebiscite.

In two days time, a general will arrive here to converse with the presidents of Latin America: a person who has never been chosen by the people. We also want to hear him, but we want the people to be listened to. So we ask for your support for a plebiscite in Cuba and that Cubans be asked if they want free and plural elections, if they want the recognition of political parties, if they want access to the media. If they want this process in impartial conditions.

To support the right to decide of Cubans is also to support the right to decide, the right to development and democracy for the entire region.

Many thanks.

Rosa María Payá Acevedo

Video in Spanish

The Specter of Castro Haunts Panama Summit / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)
The ghost of North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang and its deadly message for the region haunts Panama. (La Prensa)

PanAm Post, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 8 April 2015 — A ghost ship haunts the halls of this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama: the Chong Chon Gang.

The vessel, seized in the Panama Canal in July 2013, contained a deadly cargo hidden under 250,000 bags of sugar. The contraband ammunition and weapons on board, bound for North Korea, mocked the whole world and put half of Panama’s population at risk.

It also served as an epitaph for the Castro brothers, who have stirred up all civil wars in the region, and served as a lighthouse of populism that has lured many nations and individuals onto the rocks.

The same drifting-but-dangerous tyranny washes upon on Panama’s shores again this week, as the region’s (un)elected officials arrive to promenade in front of the world’s press for the Summit of the Americas. continue reading

Raúl Castro’s arrogance after his arms trafficking deal with Pyongyang became public is now rewarded with an invitation to attend the Summit in Panama. The military general and head of state — never elected by the Cubans — merely shrugged at the time, claiming that they were “obsolete weapons,” and few cared about the humiliation of the Panamanian people. No one cared either about the embarrassment we Cubans of integrity felt at the aggression the regime committed against our brothers.

Since the end of the Soviet era, the Caribbean island’s socialist elite have always used used Panama as its financial headquarters to launder drug trafficking money. Let the four military officers executed by firing squad in 1989 be a witness to that, plus the hundreds of people kicked out in Cuba weeks prior and during the US invasion of Panama in the same year.

US President Barack Obama and his cheerleaders in the press corps come to the region not to reprimand countries that shoot students and curtail freedom of speech. Rather, reporters can’t wait to be the first to snap the photo between the civilian leader and the despot in army uniform, even while both their days as leaders are numbered.

Only through observing this atmosphere of state-sponsored omerta can we understand how Rosa María Payá, daughter of Cuban pro-democracy martyr Oswaldo Payá — threatened and then killed on the orders of Raúl Castro on July 22, 2012 — was humiliated by anonymous National Security agents at the very door of her plane on Sunday in Panama City.

Neither Cuba nor Panama’s Foreign Ministry have owned up to the blunder, so who leaked the name of Rosa María before she landed and who ordered her detention and intimidation, as if she were an international fugitive?

Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey.

The Panamanian thugs acted, it seems, at the behest of Cuba’s intelligence agency — or perhaps they just enjoyed illegally intimidating a free Cuban, going through her underwear, photocopying her private documents (faxed to Havana for sure), and even threatening to deport her to the island where the Castro regime murdered her father and her best friend, Harold Cepero.

They should have asked themselves: after all she has been through, how could she be afraid? They’d sooner be able to kill Rosa María, and more than a generation of young people at home and exiled abroad who proudly see themselves as Cuban (myself included), than scare us.

The apartheid the Cuban military imposed on our people, leaving thousands dead and expelling hundreds of thousands decade after decade, never had any real prestige in the continent. That’s the international left’s doing. That’s why we Cubans distrust so much the backing of Latin American governments of whatever stripe.

Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is unlikely to sound at the official Summit of the elites, where the Castro regime calls the shots and the region’s governments duly obey. They quake before the Cuban tyrant; the presidents of the Americas know that Castro can spoil their party with an eruption of Bolivarian diatribe, protests, and diplomatic boycotts.

That’s why secret agents in Panama target Cuban activists, and why the press release in which the Foreign Ministry formally apologizes to Rosa María is not only disingenuous but pathetic.

Panamanians, you should ask forgiveness, from Cubans and the whole region. Having once allowed a ship of war to enter national territory, you’ve once again permitted the forces of destruction and death to befoul Panama’s waters.

Translated for PanAm Post by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Laurie Blair

Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The potential complications 
of the renewed diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.

A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come. continue reading

The climactic hallmark was on December 17th, as a fulfilled promise on the day of San Lázaro Babalú Ayé, with two simultaneous speeches running in parallel windows of millions of web-connected computers all around the world except in Cuba: in one, the democratically-elected American president Barack Obama; in the other, the dynastically-appointed Cuban general Raul Castro. The former wearing the civil elegance of his suit and a hi-tech reading device; the latter in military uniform, rescuing a picture from his violent years before the Revolution in the fabulous fifties, and reading from pile of paper. Quite a pluribus duo, without liberty but with diplomacy for all.

Calls immediately exhausted the batteries of my Chinese mobile. Everybody rushed for a quote about the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era. Only The New York Times was involved enough as to bet on a series of op-eds published weeks in advance (by the way, for over a decade now they also have prêt-à-porter the obituary of Fidel Castro by Anthony De Palma). Some American Cubanologists, like Peter Kornbluh and David E. Guggenheim were conveniently located on the Island that noon. The popular reaction was overwhelming, they claimed. Tears should have come to my eyes, according to the emotional interrogation imposed to me until my smartphone was silenced.

A silence that lasts until today.

Barack Obama told the truth in his allocution: “The United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Raul Castro lied with impassive impunity: “We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.” But this is still not the case.

It’s too early to pretend to demonstrate my skepticism. Or cynicism. As a good Castro subject I know that time on the Island means not money, but more system’s status quo. To keep begging for US bank credits, the Revolution first needs to buy time. This is what biopolitics is all about. A family fighting to secure a second Castro generation in complete control after Fidel’s and Raul’s eventual deaths. Necropolitics.

Obama’s hope was to reopen an embassy in Havana ahead of the Americas summit on April 10th, as he declared to Reuters on March 2nd. In fact, the US Interests Section in Havana has been for years the largest diplomatic mission in Cuba, and no special budget needs to be considered to reestablish the formal status lost in 1961.

Yet, Castro’s hope might be to push back the US engagement to an intolerable limit of stagnation. Havana insists now that the term “normalization” will remain an absurdity while the US keeps Cuba on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. A list currently under expedited revision, as to the State Department to please the Cuban demands. The Democratic White House cannot afford to welcome a Republican president without having its job done —with or without Gitmo, for or against Radio Martí, plus or less the billions requested by Cuba as a historical compensation for decades of US embargo.

As the good-spirited Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson flies to and from Havana, she’s been forced to smile for a selfie with Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machín, her counterparts of the Cuban foreign ministry. Technically, her company is sign of prepotency in the time of appeasement, since in November 2002 Machín was expelled from the US in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case —a Castro top-level spy at the Pentagon— while in May 2003 Vidal voluntarily left the US, when her husband Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera —First Secretary of the Cuban consulate in DC— was also expelled for espionage.

After the mass media catharsis of the first round of talks last January, the third one ended in a hermetic “professional atmosphere” according to the Cuban official report, as abruptly as it was announced, and “with no breakthrough on sticking points in an atmosphere of rising tension over Venezuela”, as recognized with concern by the The New York Times.

The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to explain why she announced “positive and constructive” progress in the discussions. She has now renounced to setting any “timeline or a deadline.” Again, totalitarianism is as much about tyranny as about manipulation of time.

The last speech of Raul Castro in Caracas in support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro came as an ice bucket water challenge: “The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela” [APPLAUSE] and “we won’t concede one iota in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, nor tolerate any interference or conditioning in our internal affairs” [OVATION]. With their monologic belligerency in the Summit of the Americas in Panama, they will “expose the mercenaries who present themselves as Cuban civil society as well as their employers.”

I won’t travel to Panama this time, but I am worried of what could happen to my colleague and friends there, faces with the para-civil society that the regime is organizing as platoons of governmental NGOs, as we all know that on this Island to “expose the mercenaries” means routine repression by the political police: family harassment (Omni Zona Franca Community Poetry Festival), censorship (Hip Hop Rotilla Annual Festival), defamation (independent blogger Ernesto Morales), job dismissal (intellectual Boris Gonzalez Arenas), imprisonment for years with or without charges or trial (Sonia Garro), not paramilitary but paracivil beatings (Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press free-lance agency), temporary or permanent invalidation of travel documents (activist Antonio Rodiles and performer artist Tania Bruguera), repudiation mobs with or without throwing red paint (Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez) or tar (Digna Rodríguez Ibañez) on the dissidents, most of the time women —despite pro-Revolution feminists worldwide— and Afro Cubans —despite pro-Castro race activists worldwide, and selective extrajudicial killing (Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero from the Christian Liberation Movement in July 2012).

Besides, after the nth resurrection of Fidel Castro last month he left an untimely text for the record: against “the eccentric politics” and “brutal plans of US government” Cubans and Venezuelans are united and “ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their country”. It was not only the senile nightmare of a García-Márquez caudillo, because a Cuban government official note denounced the executive order to consider Venezuela a US national security threat as an “arbitrary, interventionist and aggressive” move from President Obama.

Maybe we’ll see in Cuba the masquerade of new investments and markets and local licenses for businesses and more access to the internet and even an electoral reform after the migratory reform, but each and every one understood as concessions, with no fundamental freedoms guaranteed as long as one and only one Communist Party keeps monopolizing all political life, with State Security from the Ministry of the Interior as the real source of governance of a model based on coercion more than in a responsible citizenry, able to self-organize to participate in life after Fidel.

Is the Cuban self-transition from dictatorship to dictatocracy under way with the US as a new geopolitical ally? Time will tell. It will not be the first example of authoritarian regimes mutating into Socialist State capitalism for the sake of regional stability. As the assassinated leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times, we Cubans have the right to have all of our rights recognized beyond any dispute or complicity among power elites. Why what has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is not good for Cubans today? Is it too impolite to peacefully demand that the Cuban people be consulted in a free and safe referendum about the destiny of our nation?

Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism is more than proud to Castrify democratic countries and still play the victim. Anyway, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against decency, since Cuban sovereignty is sequestered by a government that cannot be held accountable by our own people. Maybe this is another victory for The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts at the end.

Certainly it is good news for America that the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes for the first time in our continent. In fact, as we keep on leaving in migratory waves to the US —both legal and illegal— Cubans are making space for Americans to reforest the Island. Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its undiplomatic relations with Washington, DC, at least while the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, remains in place.

Unfortunately we Cubans got accustomed to voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite. Let’s see what the US embassy will imply in terms of profits and principles for the labyrinth of Cuban liberty.

31 March 2015

No blogger, no Obama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

No blogger, no cry.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

In the beginning was the Blog. 2 But blogs were formless and empty. 3 Repression was all over the blogosphere. 4 And the citizens saw the blogs were good. 5 So that lacking other channels of expression, the Cuban civil society occupied blogosphere as a tool for dissent. 6 Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 7 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the State.

As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).

Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine that in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.

This happened when the Consenso —Consensus— digital magazine became ContodosWith All— and opened the website Desdecuba.com, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster who, in April 2007, started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.

This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of the public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private Internet today.

Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a miracle.cu, although continue reading

the vice-president Miguel Diaz Canel has warned our press not to be objective but “loyal to Fidel, Raul, and the Revolution”, while Fidel himself determined that the “internet is a revolutionary tool”.

Elaine Diaz, blogger of La Polemica Digital —The Digital Polemics— known as critical of certain official measures, but at the same time a professor of journalism at Havana University and now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, in her degree thesis about the Cuban blogosphere “scientifically” established in terms of topics and chronology that none of the renowned dissident bloggers were pioneers at all, thus diluting this phenomenon in an ocean of other blogs practically discovered by her, up to nearly 3,000 today, which outnumbers by far the dozens of local independent bloggers.

Diaz quotes only those blogs that can be quoted in Cuba without risking her research position, like Patria y Humanidad —Homeland and Mankind— since 2006 administered by Luis Sexto, a winner of the National Journalism Prize; and La Isla y la Espina —The Island and the Thorn— since 2007 administered by Reinaldo Cedeño, both defined as open to “foreign authors” and to “hot heated debates” but, of course, within the temperature limits of political discipline on the Island.

Diaz recognizes that the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and no less than the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, authorized more than 1,000 official journalists to open blogs from their workplaces or privileged home connections, in order to —as Milena Recio wrote in her article “Cuban blogs: an entrenched identity”— reproduce in cyberspace the same battlefield logic of the street propaganda, to “counteract the distorted and opposite speeches from hegemonic mass media” against the Revolution.

The very Code of Ethics of UPEC rejects “hyper-criticism” in its article 7, while in articles 8 and 9 reminds their members to “maintain a social and moral behavior in accordance with the principles and norms of our society […] to promote the best of our national values and the constant improvement of our socialist society”. And after paternalism comes a large list of punishments, which includes imprisonment, as happened to a journalist from the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Jose Antonio Torres, accused of espionage after one of his official reports.

Diaz also proposes the “emancipatory and anti-capitalist usefulness of the new media and technology” in Cuba, and the need of “virtual symbols” for a country where it is “possible” the “horizontal dialogue”, beyond power hierarchies and all kinds of social exclusion: by race, by gender, by sexual preference, by economic status, etc. Although she omits to mention the cause of all discriminations in Cuba: the political intolerance and hate speech of the revolutionary government, summarized by Fidel Castro in his speech to Cuban intellectuals in 1961: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.”

Recently, this “dialogue” approach has been updated by the web Cuba Posible of Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga, former editors of a Catholic Church magazine that published some civil debates, where certain civil society activists managed to participate. Cuba Posible claims for the complicit concept of “loyal opposition” to the regime, if critics are to be considered legitimate. Besides, Gonzalez and Veiga urge the Cuban dissidence to commit suicide and stop all the support they receive from foreign NGOs, despite the detail that they both defended this viewpoint from Washington DC, invited in January 2015 by a compendium of US pro-Castro NGOs, like the Cuba Research Center of Philip Peters.

During the last decade, the Cuban alternative blogosphere has expanded and contracted like the cycles of a claustrophobic universe. Its main communication strategies and activists have renovated only to remain identical.

With my blog of fictionalized chronicles Lunes de Post-Revolution —Post Revolution Mondays— and my photoblog Boring Home Utopics, I have witnessed most of this Cuban digital e-volution, with its pro-human rights achievements and, unfortunately, with today´s drawbacks in front of a State involved in a self-transition to capitalism without capitalists, but with accomplices of Castros’ agenda.

Most of free-lance Cubans’ blogs are linked in the websites HavanaTimes.org and VocesCubanas.com, where can be found the famous Generation Y of Yoani Sanchez, blogs from visual artists like the graffiti performer Danilo Maldonado El Sexto (in jail since last December) and the photographer Claudio Fuentes, blogs dedicated to new media and technologies like the one by Walfrido Lopez, blogs from independent lawyers to give legal advice like the unregistered Cuban Juridical Association of Wilfredo Vallin, blogs from religious leaders like the Baptist minister Mario Felix Lleonart, blogs of digital publications like Plural Thinking NotebooksNotebooks for the Transition, and the magazine Voices edited by me, community participation initiatives like Pais de Pixeles photo-contest, blogs of filmed debate projects which then are uploaded to the web to impact on public opinion, like Razones Ciudadanas/Citizens’ Quests.

Thanks to the volunteer amateur projects TranslatingCuba.com and HemosOido.com many of these blogs are distributed beyond geographical isolation and the barriers of language.

Mainly in Havana, much closer to the www than Cuban pre-technological countryside, events have been held to shift from the cyberspace to citizen mobilization, like the Blogger Academy where we teach the technical rudiments of self-publication, as well as the primitive option of tweeting by an international SMS sent from the Island, as local mobiles have no internet service in Cuba. Other events also held in private houses, like the two annual editions of Click Festival 2012 and 2013, had the privilege to count on international experts on blogs, and consequently they were stigmatized by the governmental blogosphere as being part of a subversive conspiracy to disrupt social stability.

Indeed, cyber-bullying is the less brutal answer of Castro’s political police to Cubans exercising our right to freedom of expression.

Two inflexion points in this abusive battle of the government against their own citizenry, occurred in 2011. First, the Cuban TV showed a weekly series on Cyber-mercenaries where all independent activists were severely threatened to be prosecuted (coincidentally, Elaine Diaz was used an example of blogging correctly). Then a suspicious video leak occurred from State Security, where an officer later identified by the social media as Eduardo “Tato” Fontes Suarez, delivers a conference for the Ministry of the Interior to teach them how to manipulate the internet in the era of an American president “much worse the Bush”, implementing a clone blogosphere to reproduce Cuban official press and saturate the web with convenient contents. This includes the logic of creating authorized local versions of Wikipedia (like Ecured), Facebook (like La Tendedera), Twitter (like El Pitazo), etc.

This should remind us of the theories of Evgeny Morozov on how disappointing is the excess of web optimism, because repressors also learn how to take advantage of the interconnected world to channelize and control social discontent to their own convenience.

Unfortunately, after the 2013 migratory reform that for the first time in decades allowed Cubans to travel abroad without the humiliating “exit permit” or “definitive departure”, international recognition of Cuban civil society leadership has meant a national weakening of our networks and the dispersion of our already limited impact on the Island.

All the peaceful movements and prominent personalities of Cuban civil society, that in the good old days of 2008-2011 seemed about to integrate in a unified opposition front with political implications, are now splintered in their respective personal initiatives among themselves. The more successful their international projections, the more isolated among themselves are their national projects. We Cubans are still lacking a culture of open polemics and understanding of differences. After more than half a century, Castroism has castrified even their opponents.

Here are some sad examples, as they all are my dear friends and have been fighting quite a long time for a better future in Cuba:

The Ladies in White split one more time, in a fractal procedure that keeps the movement stagnated in number of members, and with an exponential increase of refugees fleeing to the US. Once in exile, most Cuban dissidents quit social activism or, in the best cases, end up as secretaries in Cuban American NGOs. The legacy of their founding leader Laura Pollán is at risk for the benefit of the Ministry of the Interior, now that their new leader Berta Soler carried out a shameful repudiation against one of its former members, and then had to hold a referendum to ratify her life-long leadership. But Soler was expelled anyway by the daughter of Laura Pollán from her home headquarters in Neptuno Street in Central Havana, where Laura Pollán junior expects to direct a new foundation that will monopolize exclusive use of her mother’s name.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) is headless after the 2012 extrajudicial killing in Cuba of their leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. Internal rearrangements have displaced from any position even the daughter and the widow of Oswaldo Payá, in a dispute for the redemptive legacy of the martyr, as well as the strategies that should be implemented by this now virtually an exiled movement.

The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) always has nearly half of their activists in jail. On one hand, UNPACU fostered the creation of an independent branch that broke out of the Ladies in White, the Lady Citizens for Democracy. On the other hand, they are obsessed with detecting and denouncing —and sometimes converting to the cause of freedom— Castro’s secret agents, like the infamous case of Ernesto Vera, but they lack a citizen mobilization strategy beyond their self-extinguishable street protests, partly because the Cuban people are unfortunately unmovable.

The Somos Mas movement launched by Eliécer Avila relies only on his face and voice as a charismatic character, once himself a digital soldier that conducted the Operation Truth at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), a platoon of trolls devoted to defaming activists worldwide, distorting online forums and surveys dealing with Cuba, and hacking websites that expose the violations and fallacies of continental Castroism.

The bitter debate of mutual distrust and discredit between those close to blogger Yoani Sanchez and her brand-new 14yMedio.com digital outlet —prone to take advantage of the US-Cuba new engagement to push the limits of censorship in Cuba—, and other previous digital citizen journalists, like the staff of Primavera Digital (who in turn last year publicly despised their Swedish funding partners), and also with the well-known Antonio Rodiles from the very active audiovisual discussion project Estado de Sats, who practically accused 14yMedio and colleagues of collaborating with the regime’s surviving agenda of allowing foreign investments with no guarantee for human rights, in a Putin-like or Chinese or Vietnamese or Burma post-totalitarian model.

On the official part, in the monolithic digital headquarter of Cubadebate, general Raul Castro with his speech at the ALBA Summit in Caracas this month, and many other op-eds published in tandem, has warned that the “international ultraconservative right” is again deploying its “mass media weapons” to use the “concept of civil society in order to attack all the progressive governments from the hemispheric left, with the purpose to deceive and manipulate all the peoples of the world.”

Cubadebate has even announced the popular repudiation that Cuban dissidents —namely, “mercenaries”— will receive in the Summit of the Americas in Panama next week, because we all are “conceived, paid and directed as drones from the US and the EU, through NGOs supposedly for the promotion of human rights, but in fact having met with confessed terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, and besides being directly financed by secret institutions of the American imperialism, including the Pentagon and the CIA”.

In March 2015 the Castro regime still proudly calls Cuban social activist leaders “Washington’s puppets, in the line of the dictators Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, whose mission if ever we attain power is to surrender the wealth of our nation to the US monopolies”, and a white elite that cares not about the “black, aboriginal, farmer and workers minorities”.

Although, paradoxically, it was Fidel Castro who dollarized the Cuban economy for over 20 years now, while his brother Raul Castro is demanding financial credit from American banks and corporations. Furthermore, Afro Cubans suffer much more than other dissidents in Cuba in the hands of the mostly white State Security top-officers, who assume that blacks owe more gratitude to them the rest of the Cuban people.

These are only some tragic examples:

The death of the Afro Cuban opposition activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo in a jail, after a long hunger strike in 2010 to stop torture against him. The 33 months that the Afro Cuban member of the Ladies in White Sonia Garro and her husband spent in prison without charges and with no trial. The harassment and beatings against of Afro Cuban leader Jorge Luis Garcia (Antunez), usually prevented from stepping out of his own house in Placetas town. The arbitrary political police arrests, plus the temporary or permanent invalidation of the passports of Cuban Afro Cuban intellectuals and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. The fascist-like mobs conducted by the government against the residences of Berta Soler and other Afro Cuban peaceful women of the Ladies in White, including throwing tar —yes, tar— with impunity against their bodies, like recently happened to Digna Rodríguez Ibañez. Or staining them by force with red paint to resemble human blood, like they did to Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez.

The White House and the remains of the US economic embargo should not ignore that a market economy is not a tropical liberation formula, since it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for despotic control. The secret negotiations to appease our tired tyranny should remember that what has been good for free Americans since the Eighteenth Century is also good for Cubans citizens today.

The rationale that, after waiting for so long, Cuban democracy can wait a little longer is a discriminatory concept implicitly legitimized by the US press and academics in their search of a lost Latin American Left.

Maybe the hope of the White House is that the New Man will stop being a soldier and become the New Salesman, but bringing down the wall should mean more than opening up the wallet. In the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer their Pearl of the Antilles, they shouldn’t forget that we “Cubans have the right to have rights,” as preached by Oswaldo Payá before the gerontocracy and their international accomplices took his life.

In any case, according to the migratory statistics, Cubans are certainly making a lot of space for the Yankees to come home to our Island, as we keep escaping by legal or lethal means, in a kind of pedestrians’ plebiscite, voting with our fleeing feet instead of with electoral ballots.

For the funerals of Fidel, the commander-in-chief will have achieved all the glories of history —which is the mother of all horrors— but also the frantic farewell of his own people —almost one-fourth of our population. This migratory crisis is what the US is really trying to stop by stabilizing the Communist dynastic succession to the Castros 2.0 generation: namely, Alejandro and Mariela Castro Espin, among other relatives, whether dandies or despots, many of them holding high level positions in the Cuban establishment while receiving privileged visitor status in the US.

The hope would be in convoking a national referendum with international observers so that the Cuban people can freely and safely express our will for the first time since 1948. Otherwise, Cuba will become a Castro-centralized capitalist condominium, economically annexed to the US but with a hyper-nationalist speech to justify impunity on the Island.

Now President Barack Obama can choose to extend his helping hand to the oldest Latin American dictatorship. Or he can consider if the Cuban people deserves to endure our apartheid until the last of the Castros manages to remain in power without consulting anyone (except maybe Obama himself).

1 Fidelism 1959, the temperature at which fundamental freedoms burn. 2 As time blogs by. 3 As I lay blogging. 4 The blogger in the ryevolution. 5 From dictatorship to dictocracy. 5 Blogged the Raven: nevermore. 6 Castrobamacare as the measure of all things. 7Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 8 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the States.

29 March 2015

Our Dead Are Raising Their Eyelids / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 22 January 2015

It’s true. Although I still don’t believe it.

But they’ve told me it in all the families I’ve visited since I’ve been out of my country. That’s what families are, a mausoleum. They don’t lie. There is no Cuban family which is not our death memory.

That’s how it is. We Cubans die in the family. That’s the saddest part of dying. Not dying as such, which doesn’t bother the person dying, but the horror of imposing on exactly those people who loved us while we were alive. People should go and die among strangers. Get lost, and that’s it. That’s why I went to the United States. That’s why I didn’t die in Havana, in spite of the fact death whispered “Orlando” in my ear every morning where I lived. continue reading

But it’s true. At first I panicked when I knew that somebody was going to tell me the same thing again. Without, of course, coming to any agreement, without ever having been in contact with each other. So, I only wanted to grab the phone, call my house and cry.

Little by little I was thinking more about it. I calmed down. From fear of the mystery to admiration of the secret sense of a non-existent nation: Cuba. The stories repeat themselves. Every Cuban family can remember one, two, three, ten cases. In every Cuban family the same sparkle in the eyes, and the trembling of the hands of the person telling me about it. And maybe too many generations have passed. We are now in exile, without guides, and with no turning back. That’s to say, we are an empty space. We all now have a memory at home of one of us who died without love, without a home, without Cuba.

They have told me it in Spanish and English. In Hialeah, which is La Lisa del Norte, and in Fairbanks, Alaska, where no other Cuban has ever been. Two details are always included:

1) In exile you don’t die at any old time. You die at night, which is when our country is reflected in the sky and indirectly under the breastbone, and because of that it is easy to see it more closely than when we are there.

2) When a Cuban goes away to die far from Cuba, he has a very intense moment of lucidity. And of youth. He stops being the scornful and cruel adult which he has always been, and gets back then an aura of the angel which he never has stopped being. We become good at the precise moment when we can no longer do any good. And every family tells me, in almost the very same words, irrespective of the level of education or intellectual pretentiousness, that the distant Cuban, before he dies, always pronounces the name of Cuba.

Can you believe it? It’s amazing. A destroyed people, degraded, dispersed, unable to recognise each other. And at the time which is no time, totally stretched out on the beloved bed to create the following Cubans, who will later cuddle them while they grow between great big pillows which save them from the shortages in Cuba, collapsed on the edge of the tomb, watched without a goodbye by our people  where everything comes together into a death rattle. And we breath out this elemental pair of syllables: Cuba.

I have never read this before revealing it here. I owe this evidence to the Cuban people, we owe it to them.  And it’s a perverse word which I detest as a killer of men. But after knowing how we will all die without Cuba, including you and me, I think we deserve to be some kind of a people. The nocturnal imaginary nation, hollow, like the human heart. The family remembering those who are going to die by themselves and neverthless with a chorus of Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.

Don’t let me say goodbye to you. What with death and everything, I still love you.

Translated by GH

Leave Me a Comment at the Entrance and We Will Win This Contest / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 March 2015 — Every morning we would lose ourselves amid the skyscrapers until we find ours. That one. The one with the artificial rain that would fall, even in the driest months of the city. She likes then to take a pause in our route. She would let go my hand and draw near to the false marble facades, until she would start getting wet almost without realizing it, from imaginary drops that would evaporate before reaching the asphalt. Imaginary but, even so, they would wet her in a dance that was greatly erotic and somewhat erratic.

Her liquid hair, her transparent garb, in the megalopolis of limousines and suits. I would lag a bit behind. I did not want to interfere with those little mornings in liberty. They lasted so little, it was only an instant. Far from Cuba, far from the Revolution. Oh not so far. Because once, upon the end of an October of overcast skies and recurrent cyclones, it was raining for real in Manhattan. She said to me, “You smell it, too, right? Today is not New York, but rather Havana.” And she went out from under our umbrella, a grave bumbershoot more appropriate to those scenes of cemeteries at the end of the North American films of our childhood.

Far from the “long island” [Cuba], so close to Long Island. She told me, “One day we are going to be like those imaginary drops that never fall. And another day it will be we who fall amid a tired rainstorm.” I just walked behind during the rest of that morning. I knew that she would never forgive me seeing her mix the rain with her foreign-city tears.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Roberta Jacobson Queries the Castros’ Crime / Rosa Maria Paya

Screen shot from the Twitter account of one of the regime’s aliases

A subject we always include

Rosa María Payá

I have only been in Washington DC 12 hours. Time enough to take up Senator Marco Rubio’s kind invitation to go to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

It’s winter in DC, but as it gets late, the monumental silhouettes are turned on, giving the capital a warm appearance. In the Capitol I was able to talk to various Democrat and Republican senators, all of them wanting to hear about Cuba. The points in question continue to be fundamental ones:

1) The United States is having high level conversations with a government which has never been chosen by its citizens. And therefore we hope they will put on the table some support for the constitutional petition put up by thousands of Cubans in favour of a referendum for free and multi-party elections. continue reading

2) The United States authorities have, on various occasions supported the need for an independent investigation into the violent deaths on 22 July 2012 of my father Oswaldo Payá, European Union Andrei Sakharov prize-winner, and Harold Cepero, young leader of the Christian Liberation Movement. To be consistent, this matter should be discussed now with the Cuban government, as there is the opportunity to address it directly via the new official channels.

Flying back, I bumped into Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. I went up to her immediately and she got up to greet me. I was pleased she did that.

“Going back home or just to Miami?” she asked me in an innocent way. “I’m going to Miami,” I told her and it struck me that I had not gone back to my home in Havana for more than a year. The last time I was there, State Security chased my brothers in the street, by Parque Manila in El Cerro, and phoned them to say, “Bastards, we’re going to kill you.”

Mrs. Jacobson was going to Havana to some meetings with Cuban government officials. One of them is the well-known State Security functionary Gustavo Machín. Not by coincidence, it was he who had the responsibility for the press conference circus given by the Swede Aron Modig in Cuba, while he was kept in solitary confinement without charges, just before he was deported from the country without being allowed to meet my family, as we had requested as he was a friend and we would be the ones most affected.

Aron was in the car with my father the day of the long-expected attack on our family (nearly always with witnesses, to terrorize them, like an exemplary measure) and was captured by the State Security immediately after the car was run off the road.

I asked the Assistant Secretary whether the independent investigation we have been demanding into the death of Oswaldo Payá and  Harold Cepero would form a part of the dialogue with the Cuban government. “This is always a point that we raise,” she answered in agreement.

She also explained that they were planning to discuss human rights, without saying when. She was speaking in the normal way officials do, as if they weren’t travelling to the heart of the longest-running dictatorship on the planet to meet criminal functionaries, some of whom worked as spies in her own United States.

The Cuban government has lied to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Crimes, when he had asked them for information about my father’s death. More than two years later, the Cuban authorities continue to deny us the autopsy report, which the family has the right to see under current laws in the island.

This Friday January 21st, I am going to meet Ricardo Zúñiga in the White House. I hope that by then he will have news about the Cuban government’s response to Roberta Jacobson, about the investigation into the attack against Harold and my father that cruel day which my family feared but never were able to understand.

The United States and every other country in the world ought to know that, unless all the truth comes out about this and so many other atrocities that have been mythified  as a “Revolution”, there will be no real democracy or stability in Cuba. It is possible that before Friday the accredited international press in the island will already have a reply to both parts of this inescapable question in such a high-level dialogue.

 Translated by GH

22 January 2015

NO EMBARGO, NO CRY / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

073_pcentral2MantleThought.org, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 18 March 2015 — The U.S. embargo against the Cuban government is like those recurrent childhood nightmares, for both Cubans living on the Island and abroad. Oh, the Embargo Embargo: limit of our life, fire of our leaders…

During decadent decades the Cuban Revolution has been defined by that urge of surviving in a besieged place, where distrust and the hate speech are officially justified by the tricky threat of a foreign foe, where an invisible U.S. invasion was continue reading

enough to promote impunity within the Island, including the need of a messianic savior: Fidel, just Fidel—because calling him Castro could be considered a first symptom of dissent.

And public dissent begets personal disaster in dictatorships.

We Cubans are fed with the populist paranoia of Fidel in our mothers’ milk. In turn, this rule of Fidelity feeds a paternalistic State where citizens always behave like children. All responsibilities rely upon the Revolution. Behaviorism in the time of barbarity. Discipline as the substitute of both duty and desire. Meanwhile all our fundamental freedoms were embargoed by the Cuban authorities as a displaced vengeance for the U.S. embargo against them.

At first, with the Soviet satellite republics nourishing the Cuban economy, our Commander in Chief was making jokes about how useless the U.S. embargo was to prevent his Revolution from turning Cuba into a First World nation:

  • “There will be enough milk produced in Cuba to fill Havana bay.” (1966).1
  • “The effect of the American blockade has been to require us to work harder and better, it has been effective in favor of the Revolution.” (1967).2
  • “The language of force does not intimidate us, we have been cured of it, so the blockade is now a subject of scorn and laughter.” (1969).3
  • “Happily, we depend on the U.S. for nothing. No trade, no food, nothing.” (1975).4
  • “Economic relations with the U.S. would not imply any basic benefit for Cuba, no essential benefit,” (1985).5

In the 1990s, however, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restoration of democracies in Latin America, Castro had to retool his propaganda machinery. The U.S. embargo suddenly proved to be the genesis of all social debacles on the Island. The economic sanctions threatened our sovereignty more than a coup d’état, and as such the world was to condemn them but with no mention of the scarcity of the fundamental rights for the Cuban people (including the exiles, now more than one-fifth of our population).

Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting.Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting. From ideology to hypocrisy to idiocy, Cubans are experts in expecting with no expectation at all. Anything goes, from fighting the Ebola virus in Africa to signing a Major League contract worth several million dollars.

Once we were austere, once we even had an astronaut, maybe we have just gone astray. Stigmatized as “worms” by the Castroites, many Cubans are indeed waiting for biopolitics—or rather necropolitics—to finish its work on a half fossil Fidel, a Marxterialist Methuselah about to turn 89, shrunken like a magic-realist character by Gabriel Garcia Marquez who, by the way, was his close collaborator and a spokesman of the Cuban Revolution.

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The alternative to indolence is to emigrate to the northernmost province of our country: Miami-Hialeah and other post-totalitarian towns, where we can rent a so-called “efficiency” to watch this film from the burger side of the embargo. Big Brother Marx is easily overwhelmed by a Big Mac.

The end of the economic and financial embargo against Cuba—still inconceivable since the U.S. Congress is reluctant to change the law—should then imply the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era, still ongoing by sheer inertia on the Caribbean island. And we all enjoyed a preview with the miraculous milestone of last December 17, when the simultaneous speeches of President Barack Obama and General Raul Castro announced the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, a pluribus duo, with liberty and justice for none—or perhaps only for the subscribers of The New York Times, after endless op-eds paved the way for the White House to pay the way for the Chamber of Commerce to invest in Cuba, just as their members did in the Fabulous Fifties.

This adulterated affair of a democracy with a dictatorship is about to seal the self-transition from power to power taking place on the Island today. The Cuban dynastic model of State capitalism is already pregnant with a baby dictatorcracy called Castrolandia 2.0. The next Putin-like president is likely to be Alejandro Castro Espin, who, like the Russian autocrat, is a colonel linked to state security who happens to be the son of Raul Castro, who in turn has promised to step down in 2018 at the age of 87 years with six decades of control behind him.

The pros and cons of this unexpected approach are not as relevant as the perverse point that there are no right or wrong options when it comes to monolithic regimes. No deal is dear with the Castro family. Every engagement is co-opted for their own convenience, because all the levers of society remain at their disposition without any limits.

Despite Obama’s rhetoric that breathed life into the Cuban establishment, the alternative to Communism is not likely to be consumerism, but Communism itself. Or collapse. After Fidel, the Flood. And Obama seems to be advancing a helping hand to us before a migratory crisis extends its hideous hands to the U.S., as it is being announced already in the record numbers of rafters and Cubans illegally crossing U.S. borders, before and after December 17.

037_p_138

Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its dialogues or diatribes with Washington, DC. That is why on Island, the rumor is that theCuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, will vanish somehow with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the White House and Revolution Square.

And so we keep voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite to kiss goodbye the Revolution—a fleeing flow that is 100% political precisely because 100% of Cuban migrants hurry to declare that they are only looking for economic benefits. What kind of benefits when they had free education, free sports, free arts, free health and free et ceteras on the Island? Farewell, Fidel.

Americans can come to Cuba in the search of profits. Cubans keep quitting their proletarian paradise in search of only we know what.

“Yankees, come home” echoes in the so-called Key to the Gulf for the first time in the history of our hemisphere. Americans are more than welcome to appease our tired tyranny with their new markets for the New Man to cease being a soldier and become a salesman. Money is time in this equation to build a stable status quo for the region, which is a major concern for America’s national security. In gold they trust: bring down the wall means open up the wallet. This explains the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer the once-called Pearl of the Antilles. Meanwhile, a multitude of five-year multiple-entry U.S. visas is being granted to Cubans of all ages, before and after December 17.

Photos in this essay appear in “Abandoned Havana” (Restless Books, 2014)If 50-plus years of U.S. diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people it is because these were never designed to bring freedom to the Island, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty with anti-democratic procedures, including the violent illegalization of civil society and all forms of property—both private and public, including the press—forcing up to one-fifth of our population to live in exile today.

Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait.

The 50-plus years to come of U.S. capitalist engagement with Cuba cannot guarantee fundamental freedoms for our people, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula per se, and it has been implemented by many authoritarian systems to deny all basic rights. But “rights” is a worn-out word that President Obama, Pope Francis, and General Castro have eagerly agreed to postpone during almost two years of secret negotiations: Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait.

What has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is still not good enough for Cubans in the Twenty-first Century. This is the basis of revolutionary racism, a discriminatory concept cruelly conceived by American academics in their search of a lost Left. First world democracies seem disappointed to support pro-democracy movements anymore in the Third World, while Castroism keeps on being more than proud to Castrify other countries —Venezuela is the most tragic example today.

Oh, bama! Why not take advantage of these U.S.-Cuba negotiations to seat the historical gerontocracy in olive-green uniforms at the same table with the emerging civil leaders on the Island? Don’t we deserve this after we have achieved so much in the struggle for freedom of speech and to raise awareness of human rights violations and the overall anthropological damage in Cuba? If the Castros want to be treated as a normal government, shouldn’t the Castros constitute a normal government beforehand?

But as it has been impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable, the lesser evil now seems to be to promote “Cuban civil society” only for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact excluding us from the establishment to come: State capitalism with the sheepskin of asoulcialism.

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In moral terms the unpopularity of U.S. policies, given the popularity of the Cuban Revolution worldwide, should be less important than securing that a true transition to democracy will take place in Cuba soon. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western Hemisphere still means advancing American interests in Western Union.

Despite any goodwill of the U.S. executive branch enforcing resolution after resolution, involving certain congressmen and think tanks and NGOs and press magnates and corporate tycoons that shake Raul Castro’s hand without asking him a single uncomfortable question, what is being legitimized is a clan that abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban think tanks and Cuban NGOs and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and all Cuban press except that belonging to the Communist Party.

I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba”—as the American scholar Julia Sweig might say—but rather about what nobody dares to know about Cuba. Even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against independence. And decency. The U.S. change in its Cuban policy is the latest victory of The End of History: from the Spanish-American War to the Anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “common marketization” of international relations is what really counts and “Cuban” continues to be out of date.

Milan Kundera, maybe the best Cuban novelist who is a Czech who writes in French and lives in Switzerland—a perfect mix for liberty—knew that “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

“Dialogues between the elites are not the path of the people,” said the assassinated leader of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Payá—winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Dead since July 22, 2012—like Polish priest Popiełuszko in the mid-1980s— in a traffic “accident” denounced as an extrajudicial killing by the surviving witness who was driving the car, Payá and his peaceful activists managed to collect more than 25,000 signatures on the Island to legally democratize our society, as established by the Cuban Constitution. The Castros’ reaction was dozens of incarcerations, forced expatriations and, ultimately, his murder by the Ministry of the Interior.

Is the Obama administration willing to mention such delicate details in The New Deal with Cuba or will there be no solidarity with Payá’s family, who has been requesting an independent investigation since that sad Sunday that abolished the hope of an inclusive country? And not just a clowntry club for cowboys, a post-totalitarian museum turned into a tourist theme park or worse, into a mausoleum of martyrs like Orlando Zapata—left to die during a hunger strike—Laura Pollán—our second Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—and Oswaldo Payá?

Respect for universal values like life, mercy, beauty, truth, and liberty—the most natural and yet so difficult to attain in times of tyranny—is the responsibility of every free man and woman who wishes to favor my people, who deserve not to wait any longer to be treated like real citizens, with or without whatever diplomatic decisions are taken one thousand miles away in the U.S.

“Cubans have the right to have rights,” repeated Oswaldo Payá before the Castros took his life. And we Cubans have the right to have rights irrespective of all the Castros’ conspiracies to permanently prevail. I still skeptically trust in such a Cuba “founded with all and the good of all”—as the patriot and poet José Martí wrote more than a century ago—but most of my fellow Cubans already don’t. Our wisdom is weird, for we have seen things that you Americans wouldn’t believe

066_smokerain1

[All photos courtesy of the author.]

1.Fidel Castro. Speech at the Meeting of the Federation of Cuban Women, (December 1966).

2.Castro. Playboy (January 1967).

3.Castro. Speech at the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana (January 2, 1969).

4.Castro. Speech at the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, (December 1975).

5.Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally. Fidel Castro: Nothing Can Stop the Course of History (Pathfinder Press, 1986).

Castrobama / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

OLPresident

LET THE OLD DEAD GIVE WAY TO THE NEW DEAD

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The title is, of course, a quote from the Czech, Milan Kundera, an obsolete reference for the rest of a world, which believes it is living in the post-communist era. But in Cuba, it continues to be something referring to the future.

Just as in global capitalism, “time is money”, in twenty-first century Castroism time is the essence of totalitarianism itself. Because of that, Cubans don’t have lives, only, barely, biographies. And because of that Cubans don’t live in human time, but buried, with the dismal defect that it could last for all eternity. continue reading

And because of that, for the first time, the White House is so interested in co-opting us. Because of that Fidel Castro’s funeral fascism is rescued by the tyrranical resolutions of Barack Obama and his Democrat mates who hate democracy, in Congress, just as in the Plaza de la Revolución (before his disappearance as the Chief many of them travelled to the island to take supportive selfies with our dictator).

After his 20 January 2015 State of the Union Address, the United States was ready for his presidential winding-down. The American union’s voters are awaiting his demagogic dissolution. To survive in a stable fashion, the democracies which are going to remain on the planet should now do it not just in opposition to  fundamentalist conservatives or lefties, or both, but also in opposition to the United States. And the Cuban case feels like a valuable precedent.

As a part of the secret pact between the two elites, it was obvious that nobody was demanding anything from anybody, except mutual recognition of legitimacy. The 5 or 55 “heroes” or “brothers” of the horror-show arrived in Havana threatening that they were keen to carry out new assassination and infiltration missions, like the informant doctor who theatrically returned to Africa to challenge Ebola again. David and Goliath nowadays are only money and abuse.

The first attracts the second to the island with no Commander, where time stands still, but where there are a thousand and one “decent” descendants of degenerate generals. The second is the mechanical gesturing of the most unknown North American civil president: his public programme is based on springing a private surprise. Even physically, he seems crafty. We don’t matter to him in the slightest, on the contrary, we irritate him. He has a different agenda and Obama is not going to miss out on the legal impunity he can enjoy in his last two years.

In the case of Cuba, the communists’ revenge for Cuba’s exile has finally been accomplished. They fought for that for decades. They bumped off their  libertarian leaders with sudden post-soviet diseases. They empowered those who were interested in investing – and inventing – with a “Plattismo” economic model. They collided with North American public opinion using little Elian dolls and “sperm spies.” (It was easy to do this as they were dealing with an infantile and detestable audience). And now comes the grand orgy of reconciliation between the victims of post-revolutionary repression –  without the orgasm. Today there is not one sensible Cuban, whether in exile or on the island, who believes in the changes. Castroism ended. And, for that reason it is never-ending.

Nobody will ever ask the Castros anything about their more or less famous deaths. In her conspiratorial path to Havana, Roberta Jacobson must have gone cursing the plane from Washington DC on which she met Rosa María Payá when she felt obliged to lie to the martyr’s daughter: “it’s something we can always put on the table” (the translation is mine, the deceit is hers). Always say always.

Do me a favour. If nobody is against this farce. This disingenuous vaseline applied by the victors is unnecessary. Do less of the LGTB posturing, be less culpable, with fewer dirty needs, and come out of the Castro closet with the oppressor’s pride (the shame assumed is ours). The old dead are not yet good luck charms for our memory. The new dead can now wait to be recycled into the future dead, who are coming.

The obsolete Castroism – except in the rest of the world – manages to survive because it knows many things. But the Czech Milan Kundera had the weakness of only knowing one thing. My fellow countrymen, you can finally hang up your Cuban passports. Now, the nation of the Castros, by the Castros and for Castros has finished being embargoed forever.

Translated by GH

21 January 2015

 

Cubamerica / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuba I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
Cuba two CUCs and 56 years, January 1st, 1959.
You can’t stand my own mind.
Cuba when will we end the human peace?
Go fuck yourself with your Revolution
I don’t feel good don’t brother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my left mind.
Cuba when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your uniform?
When will you look at myself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Castroists?
Cuba why are your libraries full of totalitarianism? continue reading

Cuba when will you send your eggs to Indianapolis?
I’m sick of your sane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my Gross looks?
Cuba after all it is you and I who are perfect not the ex world.
Your Marxism is too much for me.
You made me want to be a serf.
There must be some other way to settle this government.
Batista is in Target I don’t think he’ll come back it’s minister.
Are you being minister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come. To the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
Cuba still pushing I know what I’m doing.
Cuba the rum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
migration.
Cuba I feel sentimental about the Bolos.
Cuba I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke Aromas every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the Raulists in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be transition.
You should have seen me reading Mao.
My psychoagent thinks I’m perfectly tight.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical treasons and Cardinal vibrations.
Cuba I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Sam after he came over
from The Obama House.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by The New York Times?
I’m obsessed by The New York Times.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the José Martí National Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Even the exile is serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am Cuba.
I am talking to myself again.

Original in English

27 January 2015