Cuba: Laugh Now, Cry Later

US President Joe Biden during the Ninth Summit of the Americas. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 13 June 2022 — The Ninth Summit of the Americas has ended. The biggest controversy aroused was the (fulfilled) threat by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador not to attend… if the three remaining – although ruined – Latin American dictatorships, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, were not invited. They were not, and the Patron Saint of tyrannies didn’t attend. However, he sent his Foreign Affairs Secretary, a much more likeable character than himself, Marcelo Ebrard. The Americans sighed in relief. They had the best of all possible worlds. AMLO’s government, without AMLO.

But the president of Mexico was not the only one in absence. The presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the famous “northern triangle” of Central America (famous for its crime rate and its number of exiles) didn’t attend the event either. The Ninth Summit, fortunately, had an exceptional chronicler, Héctor Silva Ávalos for Infobae, the first Argentine digital media.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei did not attend the Summit outraged by the accusations of corruption. Nayib Bukele, the Salvadoran, first, because he had made a pact with the gangs known as maras so he could rule the country, and second (damned if you do and damned if you don’t,) because of the mistreatment of the thousands of imprisoned gang members, when they continued murdering people in the streets of the tiny country. (Bukele’s iron fist stance against the gangs has the support of a majority of the population.) As for the president of Honduras, Mrs. Xiomara Castro, wife of the political leader Manuel (Mel) Zelaya, because she feels more comfortable in the proximity of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and because her husband wanted to thank these dictatorships for the favors rendered.

In Mexico, simultaneously with the Los Angeles Summit, the “mother of all marches” is being organized. I remember the origin of that phrase – “the mother of all battles.” It was the spectacle that Saddam Hussein promised if the United States dared to lead the attack after the occupation of Kuwait by the Iraqi army. A German newspaper estimated the number of weapons held by the two contenders and concluded that “the mother of all battles” would probably be won by Saddam Hussein. A few hours were enough for the coalition forces, led by the US, to show that German journalists had underestimated George H. W. Bush (the father of George W. Bush), and General Norman Schwarzkopf, the head of the Armed Forces, during the “so-called” Gulf War. Actually, it was an easy victory. continue reading

Many of those who are attempting “the mother of all marches” are Cubans, Venezuelans and those belonging to “the biggest triangle of Central America,” precisely those who don’t have a president to represent them – Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans. What should be done with them? Of course, let them in and give them “papers” to pay taxes and become citizens as soon as they can. There is nothing more ridiculous than assuming that they are “spies.” The spies enter in a different way. Cubans have been allowed entry at all times and this has been very convenient for the receiving country. About 99.99% come to work. It is not possible to defend freedom and deny them entry when they need it. People don’t leave their land for frivolous reasons or in pursuit of a ridiculous stipend.

Cubans and Venezuelans were recipients of immigrants before 1959 and the 21st century. Cuba experienced a small emigration after World War II. From 1945 to 1955, 35,000 people “left,” but in that same period 211,000 immigrants “arrived.” Fernando Bernal, a diplomat of the revolution, and later an exile, told me that in the Havana consulate in Rome alone there were 11,000 requests to emigrate to the Island. As for Venezuela, what has happened in that country is mind-boggling – from having a growing number of immigrants (Portuguese, Italians and Central Europeans), today they have six million exiles.

Why are they leaving? Essentially, because they have no way of earning a living and lack social mobility. The idea that you can’t improve your quality of life, no matter what you do, is a spur to leave. The type of political regime in the abstract only matters to a minimum of people. If the US wants to restore social mobility in Cuba and Venezuela, it has to overthrow the regime that hinders it. Otherwise, it’s laugh now, cry later.

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Cuba and the Ninth Summit of the Americas

Cubans on the island love Joe Biden, but outside of Cuba, in large numbers, they love Donald Trump, says Montaner. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 5 June 2022 -The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been unleashed and transformed into the Patron Saint of dictatorships – Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He has threatened not to go to the California meeting if the three dictatorships are not invited. (Since ‘Andrés López’ seems vulgar to him, he uses all his names, to the despair of his American neighbors: Andrés Manuel López Obrador.)

He should be reminded that the first letter, from Clinton in 1994, clearly stated that “these are meetings of democratically elected Heads of State.” Or, at least, belonging to the OAS, and none of the three cases has remained within the organization.

In the Fifth Summit, held in Trinidad-Tobago, inexperienced President Barack Obama was harassed with the issue of the embargo on Cuba. He believed that the end of the embargo was a popular request. It was April 2009. He had started his first term on January 20. In 2014, relations between the two countries had been reestablished. But at the Seventh Summit, in Varela’s Panama, in 2015, Raúl Castro appeared, and they finalized the details for an Obama visit to Havana.

The visit took place in March 2016, very close to the end of Obama’s term. He gave a sensational speech in which he said many things that Cubans longed to hear. Raúl Castro almost accused him of trying to overthrow him and of having ‘hidden intentions.’ However, since that moment, Obama became an idol of Cubans on the island, but someone very confused and naive for the exiled community.

That dichotomy can still be seen today. Cubans on the island love Joe Biden, but outside of Cuba, in large numbers they love Donald Trump. Cubans on the island associate the Democrats with a period of hope and relief from economic misery, and they don’t care if the ultimate goal is to overthrow the tyranny. Simultaneously, Cubans outside the Island abhor any concession to the Díaz-Canel government, without stopping to think that it might lead to the end of the dictatorship.

The First Summit

I remember the First Summit of the Americas. It was in 1994. I was invited by Luis Lauredo, then the Bill Clinton administration’s ambassador to the OAS. There was the purpose of dealing with regional issues within that institution. Cuba was a “regional issue,” and Ambassador Lauredo, with a reputation for being very competent, had the mission of monitoring the movements of what was already called “Socialism of the 21st Century.” continue reading

His role went very well with something I heard him say to a person who knew the intricacies of the Democratic Party in relation to Cuba. In the eighties, Bill Clinton lost re-election as governor of Arkansas for compromising his government with the arrival of 125,000 Cubans through the port of Mariel. After the end of the three minutes assigned to Cuba, the only comment Bill Clinton made was, “I don’t want to be surprised again. I hope the CIA knows what is happening on that Island.”

Bacteriological warfare

They knew it. “The Cubans” were preparing an elaborate plan to make the US intelligence believe that they already had bacteriological warfare ready to face a hypothetical invasion. It was the poor man’s atomic bomb. Placed at the center of the universe by his own personality, Fidel could not believe that the least attractive thing for Bill Clinton was to land the Marines in Cuba.

He thought that this inexperienced young “Gringo,” who had gotten fewer votes than Michael Dukakis, and who was in the Oval Office thanks to the unexpected candidacy of Ross Perot, could not resist the old hypothesis of the “ripe fruit,” a kind of conspiracy theory from the 19th century, by which Cuba’s destiny was to be part of the American nation. Something that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States (1801-1809), could believe in, but not Bill Clinton, the first president of the USA after 1945 who had not participated in World War II, and who had not even had to deal with the Cold War.

I was returning from a trip to the chancelleries of Eastern Europe, including Russia. They all saw – some more and others less – an opportunity to eliminate Cuban Stalinism, but they invariably asked me, “To what extent is the United States willing to commit itself?”

I took advantage of the visit to Miami to confirm what I already sensed – the United States did not want to take advantage of the obvious weakness of the Cuban government in those hazardous years to hasten the end of Castro’s absurd regime. The thesis of Republicans and Democrats alike was that the Island did not pose a danger to the United States, and it was much more beneficial to sit on the fence than to rush to depose the Cuban government. After all, the regime was totally “rotten,” and had no capacity (as they believed) to do harm.

And time passed, and an eagle flew over the sea,” José Martí wrote.

We are in the Ninth Summit. There are already two Latin American dictatorships under Cuba’s orders – Venezuela and Nicaragua. Collectivist Marxism has disappeared from the face of the earth. In China in 1976, after Mao’s death, an accelerated return to private property began. But the most important event occurred in the USSR. After its implosion, in 1991, privatization towards “crony capitalism” began. Very soon it drifted towards the elites close to Putin, the so-called “oligarchs.”

In those years, Fidel Castro designed a hybrid compromise between Marxism and tyrannies – State Military Capitalism (CME by its Spanish initials). The CME did not leave investors’ hands or imagination free. Either they conformed to the previous development plans drawn up by the military, or they achieved nothing, thereby amputating the most productive feature of free economy.

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Biden Changes his Policy on Cuba and Venezuela

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 22 May 2022 — What’s going on is very strange. According to an American dictum, one does not change horses in midstream. According to the analysis of Politico – an online portal that is much closer to the Democrats than to the Republicans – the recent announcement of a change in strategy by Joe Biden in his perception of Cuba and Venezuela, means that he is giving up the next election in Florida. Compromising with these two dictatorships means leaving the way clear for the Republicans, as US senator Bob Menéndez and Florida senator Annette Taddeo, both from the Democratic Party, complain.

Something fishy is going on here. The politicians – and Biden is the quintessential “politician” – or the president know something of which we have no idea, perhaps because Juan S. González, the person who manages the foreign policy of the White House in that area of ​​the world, has told him directly. Or perhaps because Biden is going through a stage of dangerous naiveté, unbecoming of a 79-year-old man who has seen the entrails of the authoritarian monster.

Cuba and Venezuela know that they have to move towards democratic change, but there is not the slightest symptom of that. Cuba has just approved a Criminal Code that is infinitely more restrictive than the previous one. The new code increases the “reasons” for which the State can execute people, while keeping in jail hundreds of demonstrators who protested peacefully on July 11, to the tune of the excellent song Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life). continue reading

Spain is the model, although each one must do it in its own way. Neither Díaz Canel nor Maduro have to think much about it. Everything starts with a general amnesty. They speak to opposition parties discreetly. An electoral calendar is established, and the chimera of socialism is buried. In fact, it doesn’t work. It never has and never will. If they want to protect the change with a referendum, it is possible to hold one. Society desperately wants to get rid of those chains.

How many people don’t want change? In Spain, which was an orderly nation, unlike Cuba and Venezuela, they were about 15% or 20%, despite the fact that in 1975, the year Franco died, it had a little less than 80% of the GDP of the leading nations in the European Economic Community. In the end, only less than 10% voted against or were against the change. If they dare, those numbers will be confirmed.

Will they dare? I don’t think so. The conditions for change are there, but I don’t think they will. There is the conviction of the most resounding failure. There has been a generational change, because the original leaders have already died – Raúl Castro and Ramiro Valdés are near the end – and those who follow are supporters of change. And if, in some cases, they don’t support change, their wives and children want to change destiny and not remain tied to the ghostly mandate of the dead leaders, nor to the emotional blackmail of “what Fidel Castro would have done.” Nobody knows what he would have done and, even better, almost nobody cares.

What does the support of China or Russia mean? Almost nothing. The only support Cuba has is based on anti-Yankeeism. Neither one nor the other are Marxists. Both systems have abandoned collectivism in favor of private property, although in China they continue to praise Mao. They provide a real lip service, to him and to his Party, hiding all his crazy things. That is why Fidel brought up the Chinese example, but, as far as I know, he died disappointed in both China and Russia, and he didn’t forgive Putin that his first gesture of independence, when he began to reign alone, without the shadow of Boris Yeltsin, was to close the Lourdes base, without prior explanations.

Why don’t they abandon economic collectivism, the one-party system, and make truly democratic reforms? In truth, out of cowardice. For that reason and because they are very comfortable with immobility. I suspect that in eighteen months Joe Biden and Juan S. González will meet again to examine the results of the change in strategy. It will be a moment of reassessment. Nothing will have happened. They will remain paralyzed. There will be, of course, more sanctions. More hostility. And then, back to square one.

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

David Beckham, Qatar and the Cuban Doctors

Island officials and local authorities in a hospital in Qatar where Cuban health workers work. (Cuban Ministry of Public Health)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 20 March 2022 –David Beckham is a great English soccer player. He is 46 years old. He started playing professionally at a very young age for Manchester. He retired at 38. He was in the Real Madrid team and there he learned to speak some Spanish. It was then when I knew his name. He is half businessman and half Jewish, although he was not raised Jewish. (His maternal grandfather was Jewish). He has just signed a juicy contract for public relations with Qatar for 277 million dollars. The deal includes promoting the 2022 World Championship, but it will be for a decade. The championship will be played in Doha, the capital of Qatar, at the end of this year.

When UK-based human rights activist Peter Tatchell (he was actually born and raised in Australia, where he was a Labor Party candidate for MP), found out, he lamented that Beckham, just for money, lent his name and well gained prestige to mortify LGBTQ people, linking himself to a government that has in its criminal code penalties of up to five years in prison against two adults of the same sex who consent to have sexual relations.

However, Beckham has a much more serious problem with the State Department. Especially, when we have seen the enormous importance that today is given locally, nationally and internationally to sanctions for repeated violations of the law. In this case, it is a serious crime that the United States and other civilized nations take very seriously – “Human trafficking,” as it is shown in Conchita Sarnoff’s book Trafficking, focused on the Jeffrey Epstein case.

This includes child prostitution, importation of illegal immigrants, and the hiring of people under a semi-slavery regime. With the aggravating circumstance that the first two crimes are promoted and committed by lone criminals (for example, human traffickers known as coyotes), or mafias that fight ruthlessly and fiercely to establish a territory, while the third crime is carried out by necktie-wearing executives in governments interested in doing themselves ideological favors, or by simple and brutal corruption, or by a sum of the two elements, defying the agreements signed within the International Labor Organization.

They call it “The Cuban Hospital of Qatar” and there is not the slightest exaggeration in that name. The 475 doctors, nurses and technicians who operate the institution are Cuban. Why are they all Cuban? Perhaps to watch them better? Or so that there is no “foreign” witness to their violation of the laws? The first breach of the rules is that everyone has had to hand over their passports to the “comrade in charge of Security.” That is totally prohibited. There he is known as “Manolo el de la Seguridad” (Manolo from Security.) It is a false name. It could be “Felipe, Carlos or Agustín.”

I read parts of an extensive article from The Guardian, a UK newspaper known for its leftist position. The headline says, “Cuba’s secret agreement with Qatar that allows Cuba to keep 90% of the salaries that Cubans receive.” That is “trafficking” in my dictionary. That is to sustain a regime continue reading

incapable of sustaining itself, a regime that survives exporting and exploiting its professionals.

The same newspaper affirms that it is a great deal for Cuba, which receives between 6 and 8 billion dollars annually from this business, much more than it receives from tourism. Cuba does not have to import sugar (yes: sugar) from the neighboring Dominican Republic. It does not need supplies or to treat foreigners like royalty. It is perfect for supporting dictatorships. To the extent that North Korea also has a place reserved for medical tourism in Qatar. And it is known that Belarus tyrant Alexander Lukaschenko also wants to participate in the health “business.”

In Cuba, during the times of slavery, “decent” people took the youngest and most beautiful black women (some of them minors) to brothels to exploit them. They put a price on them and the income that the girls produced was divided 50/50 between the brothel and the owners of the black girls.

Some “owners,” such as the mythical Julián Zulueta (“I have become rich buying whites in Spain and selling blacks in Cuba,” he said), owner of 2,000 slaves, a believer in labor incentives, reserved 5% or 10% so that the prostitutes could buy their freedom from them.

This leaves the evaluation of the operation “The Cuban hospital in Qatar” exactly in the same position as before 1886 (the year in which slavery was finally abolished). Some doctors, paramedics and technicians think that 10% is much more than what they earned in Cuba, just like many 19th Century prostitutes believed that it was better to be in the brothel than in the houses and in the sugar fields, exposed to the beatings, and with no hope of ever being free. It is a variation of the “Stockholm syndrome.”

The place where the transaction takes place has changed, but not its essence. The Cuban government knows that what it is doing is very wrong. It must change its ways. It cannot continue to exploit Cuban professionals with the blind complicity of countries like Qatar. I hope that David Beckham explains to them promptly what is happening at the Cuban Hospital, and that they begin to pay these professionals directly and not through the Cuban government.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Vladimir Putin’s War

Vladimir Putin y Madeleine Albright se reunieron en el año 2000. (CC/Serguéi Vasilievich)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 27 February 2022 — It was the early days of the year 2000. The first major American official who spoke with Vladimir Putin was Madeleine Albright. Mrs. Albright, born in Prague, was then Secretary of State in the second term of the Clinton administration. She recorded her impression of the person who had replaced Boris Yeltsin at the helm in Russia: “He is small and pale, and he is so cold and emotionless, that he could be a reptile”.

She hit the mark with that comment. But she said more, “Putin is ashamed of what happened to his country and is determined to restore its greatness.” She hit the mark again. That’s what just happened to Ukraine. Without having done anything to deserve it, Ukrainians are paying the price for the restoration of Russian greatness. The article by the former Secretary of State was published in the NYT under the title “Putin makes a historic mistake.”

It is ridiculous, for example, to say, as Putin has said, that Ukraine is a Russian invention. Any high school graduate knows that it is the other way around – the idea of ​​​​imperial Russia arose from Kievan Rus between the 9th and the 13th century. Just as it is foolish to accuse the current rulers of Ukraine of being “Nazis.” If anyone remembers Adolf Hitler, it is Mr. Vladimir Putin, who has no other argument to claim the Donbass than the one used by the Nazis to claim the Czech Sudetes – they were full of Germans. Franz Kafka, for example, lived in Prague, but spoke and wrote in German, although he had the elegance of dying in 1924 at the age of 40, before the Hitlerian whirlwind devastated Europe and, with it, the Jews, who had done so much good to the Old Continent from a technical, scientific, artistic and financial point of view. continue reading

The two eastern regions of Ukraine (Donetsk and Lugansk) were populated – I was going to write “plagued” – by ethnic Russians who communicate in Russian. Since Russian and Ukrainian have a common origin and share the same alphabet, some people think that it is the same language, but it is not true. According to many philologists, Ukrainian language is closer to Polish or Czech than to Russian. In addition, ensuring that Donetsk and Lugansk separate from Ukraine is an unspeakable forgetfulness of the values ​​of the republic, safeguarded by the Minsk Agreements, signed in 2014 and 2015 in the capital of Belarus, the same government that today betrays them.

What is Russia seeking by crushing its neighbor Ukraine with its overwhelming military power? If Putin thinks that by reestablishing the ‘zones of influence’ Russia will be more protected against a nuclear rocket, he has failed to find out (as a CNN analyst said) the current correlation of forces. The fate of Moscow or Saint Petersburg, and of any densely populated Russian city, lies in an unknown silo in Nebraska or Montana and in a GPS with the encrypted address of the site to which it will take its nuclear warhead, fifty times more destructive than the bomb that reduced Hiroshima to ashes in 1945.

Influence is measured nowadays by the quality and price of the objects around us, and none of them are Russian. Indeed, Russia has a third world economy. It has the approximate size of the Italian economy, but with 2.45 times more inhabitants. It is a single producer and exporter of energy, like Saudi Arabia, but without the investment expertise of Arab businesspeople. When gas and oil run out or are replaced by other technology (German scientists are experimenting with neutrinos), Russia – Vladimir Nabokov said in another context – “was a dream I had,” as the filmmaker Jiménez-Leal frequently quotes.

The sanctions will have a devastating effect on Russia’s third world economy. Depriving it of its sources of financing or the markets that buy Russian gas or oil will have a decisive impact in the medium or long term. Especially if an alternative for the supply of gas and oil is achieved and a real agreement is established between the US, the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Australia. This agreement, in turn, must impose very serious sanctions against those who violate the agreement.

Are we close to World War III, as happened in 1962 during the “Missile Crisis”? No, but the reasons for preventing it are the same: Russia would be thoroughly destroyed. It is true that the United States would also be knocked down, but wars are fought to win them, not to lose them or to be half demolished. In the US, where everything is calculated, it is assumed that cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants would be destroyed. Of course, there is an increased risk that a definitive conflict occurs by chance and not by the intention of the involved parties. In the 1960s and 1970s there were at least two occasions when nuclear escalation was very possible. In both cases we were saved by the good sense of a Soviet intermediate-rank operator, who listened to his intuition and did not follow “the rules of engagement.” There is no guarantee that this will happen in the future.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap Again, President Diaz-Canel

Russian President, Vladímir Putin, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel. (Estudios Revolución)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 22 January 2022 — A few days ago, Mr. Díaz-Canel, Dimitri Peskov, the Russian spokesman, said candidly, “We think about how to guarantee our own security.” He was referring to statements by Sergei Riabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, in which he, mumbling, threatened the US with deploying troops and missiles in Cuba and Venezuela if NATO continued to besiege Russia or to supply Ukraine with weapons.

Your job, Mr. President (and that of Mr. Maduro in Venezuela) is not to guarantee Russian security, but rather the well-being of Cubans (and Venezuelans). Something that is far beyond your possibilities, as long as there are no changes in the productive system that this poor country suffers from, but, at least, you can save our compatriots the bitterness of another defeat and the anxiety of losing their lives uselessly.

For that same reason, in October 1962 the “Missile Crisis” broke out in Cuba. You were very young, and you don’t know how the events occurred. The USSR wanted to target the heart of the United States, but John F. Kennedy put his country on a war footing and prepared to fight if there was no other choice.

On that occasion, Fidel Castro sent an encrypted telegram asking the Russian Premier to preventively bombard the United States with nuclear weapons. Nikita Khrushchev replied that he was a fool and dismissed his crazy initiative. Cuba would have remained a smoking, radioactive hole for half a century. It was an operatic ending for a raving madman. continue reading

I was living in Miami then, I was 19 years old, and I took several dozen young Cubans to the US Army with the promise that we would land in Cuba. “Tony” Varona, returning from Washington where he met with JFK advisors, assured me of this and I repeated his words to the boys. Varona was one of the leaders of the resistance, former Prime Minister of democratic Cuba, and a fundamentally honest person. He had a son imprisoned in Cuba after the landing at the Bay of Pigs

Fortunately, that did not happen. We all would have died. The Soviet colonels – there were 40,000 Russian soldiers in Cuba – had tactical nuclear weapons that they could use at will. That was found out many years later. They would have launched them against us, which would have generated an atomic war between the USSR and the United States in a short time.

There was even an episode in which the direct confrontation between a landing of the United States army and the Soviet troops stationed in Cuba was not necessary to ignite the spark. Many years after the incident, it was learned that a Soviet submarine broke through the US Navy’s blockade during the “October Crisis.” It was equipped with a nuclear charge that would have shattered an aircraft carrier and its attack flotilla, a fact unknown to the Americans.

The Americans launched depth charges to bring it to the surface. The submarine had lost contact with its base and its crew didn’t know if the war had already begun. According to the rules for launching an attack, all three commanding officers had to agree: the captain, the first mate, and the second mate. The captain and the first officer thought that the fighting had already begun, but the second mate, named Vasili Arkhipov, didn’t believe in that possibility and persuaded his two companions not to fight back. He was a hero of whom nothing was known until many years later.

In 1962 Marxism-Leninism was actually a vaguely credible option. Nikita claimed that in 10, 20 or 30 years the USSR would be on a par with the US. The Soviets had inaugurated the space age with the Sputnik and “the power of the Soviets plus electricity,” as Lenin wanted, was paying off, especially after the devastation of World War II. There were urban areas that grew at 10% per year.

But it was a matter of ignorance. One had only to read the book entitled Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, written by Ludwig von Mises in 1922 (probably written for Lenin, then in his heyday), about the failure of the price system under socialism, and how it would end up producing a monstrous distortion that would make economic calculation totally impossible. However, in 1962 it was not necessary to resort to reading or theoretical analysis. It was enough to compare the results of the two Germanys to know what would happen in one and the other system after a few years.

In short, Mr. Díaz-Canel, Putin is playing with fire and he’s going to burn himself. The British have sold the Ukrainians hundreds and hundreds of state-of-the-art weapons that are fired from the shoulder at tanks and artillery pieces. Estonia is used to deliver Israel’s Spikes missiles against aviation to Kiev. To direct the presumed war, the US has installed its headquarters in Albania, the most anti-Soviet of the former satellites of the USSR. France, England and the US guarantee that Russia will not use nuclear warheads. NATO under Biden is working reasonably well. What are you going to get into that war for, President? It is a grave for Russia. Do you them to bury you in it?

The size of the Russian economy is roughly that of Italy, but Italians are less than half the population of Russia. Putin is making the same mistake as his predecessors. They see that they have the largest nation on earth (approximately twice the size of the US or China) and from this they deduce that they can develop an empire. In 1991 it was seen to be “Bangladesh with missiles,” as US diplomat Jeanne Kirkpatrick used to say. Only 32% of Russians want to revitalize the empire; 68% presumably want to live better. Like the Cubans, señor Díaz-Canel. Cubans want to pursue their own dreams and not those of the leaders. When will you learn your lesson,  president?

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Sixty-Three Anniversaries of the Cuban Revolution

The biggest blow to the Cuban dictatorship was delivered in Las Vegas, where ‘Patria y Vida’ won two Latin Grammys. (EFE / EPA / Nina Prommer)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 1 January 2022 — It is worth reviewing what happened in Cuba in the preceding months. Year after year, and we are already on our way to the 63rd anniversary, I have said we were near the end. I believed it, but it was not true. I thought that Fidel was interested in the fate of the Cuban people and not just doing what he wanted. Sebastián Arcos, in a statement to the BBC from Florida International University, thought otherwise. He was right. Fidel was willing, as during the Missile Crisis, for everyone to die, as long as he didn’t have to give in. I thought that reality would force him to rectify. In November 1989, communism disappeared, and on December 25, 1991, the USSR itself made an exit from history and it seemed that the Cuban dictatorship was left totally alone.

It was the time of alms and conspiracies. Salinas de Gortari gave him a political hand together with Carlos Andrés Pérez and César Gaviria. That happened in Islas Mujeres, in Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and Salinas de Gortari and Beatrice Rangel, then Minister of CAP, told me about it. Felipe González designed a reform for him and secretly sent Carlos Solchaga, his trusted economist, to carry it out. The Department of conspiracies was in charge of the Sao Paulo Forum and Lula da Silva, and they even invited the engineer Marcelo Odebrecht, a major figure in corruption. (There is a photo on the Internet of Raúl Castro, M. Odebrecht, Ramiro Valdés, and other accomplices of corruption in an image from the Sao Paulo Forum).

2021 was the emergence of the San Isidro Movement and its most visible head, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. They are a group of young and very poor artists, most of them mestizo, like almost the entire Cuban people, that emerged in 2018 to fight against Decree 349, that tried to further restrain young artists. Tania Bruguera immediately echoed the protests. And the rappers turned against President Díaz Canel adding an epithet, “si… gao” (“f…ked”) which even a parrot repeated incessantly without knowing that it was in danger of losing its feathers, as a Cuban saying goes.

But the greatest blow to the Cuban dictatorship was delivered in Las Vegas, United States, on November 18, despite pressure against that very well-connected government. It was there, in the Grammy Awards Galas, where “Patria y Vida” won two Latin Grammys (not one, but two: the award for the best urban song and the best song of the year). Composing and singing it are Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, Mykel Osorbo, El Funky and Gente de Zona. Along with Mario Vargas Llosa I heard the song by Yotuel during a special distinction that the International Foundation for Freedom awarded to the creators of what have been called “Cuba’s second anthem.” continue reading

What has happened in Cuba so that the disaster is major and irreversible? Thirteen hundred political prisoners, almost all of them young, for demanding the freedom of Cuba in the July 11 demonstrations. An inflation in this year that is about to end of 740%, reports the Diario de Cuba, citing The Economist’s studies by country. That is an obscene figure that reflects the incompetence of the leadership that runs that poor country. There is no money or anything to buy in Cuba. Pork production has decreased by 44%, reports the digital newspaper 14yMedio and Pedro Monreal, an economist inside the system, verifies the complaint. Not in vain does Cubanet title one of its chronicles, “Empty refrigerators and broken dreams, this is how Christmas Eve was spent in Cuba.” This comes, very well selected, in the daily “packet” assembled by Miguel García Delgado, a former officer of the Second National Front of Escambray.

Reinaldo Escobar, a freelance journalist and expert on Marxism, fears that Díaz-Canel wants to revive Marxism-Leninism to escape the crisis. But there is only one way to escape this mess: to repeat, more or less, what Gorbachev said on December 25, 1991, 30 years ago. Marxism leads to failure and dictatorship. There is no other option but to cancel it completely.

Marx knew this since 1870, when William Jevons, a young British professor, published his “marginalist” conclusions on the theory of value (later reiterated, independently, by the Austrian Carl Menger and by the Frenchman Leon Walras). That is why Marx didn’t publish volumes 2 and 3 of Das Capital. It was useless. If his theory of value was false, as the Austrian economist Eugene von Böhm-Bawrek demonstrated at the time, so was surplus value and his entire hypothesis collapsed. As simple as that.

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Washington and Latin America

Soon Ana Belén Montes will leave prison, but she will have left her perfidious work very well done. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 5 December 2021 — It is like the “never-ending story.” A circular nightmare.

Havana, summer of 1959. I remember a person who was very sure that US President Ike Eisenhower, in the middle of the Cold War, “would never allow the consolidation of a Soviet base 90 miles off the coast of the United States.” The person was a veteran of that “forgotten war” in which more than thirty thousand Americans died.

 The reasoning was impeccable. A few years earlier, between 1950 and 1953, during the presidency of Harry S. Truman, the US Armed Forces had gone to fight on the Korean peninsula, a poor and dusty country, thousands of miles away, supposedly under an order from the recently created United Nations. The real purpose was to prevent China – the Communist world – from having another victory and conquering another country.

However, on 1 January 2023, the Cuban government will begin the 63rd year of its uninterrupted stay in power, exercising its most stubborn “anti-Yankee” attitude, without “Uncle Sam” appearing to care at all.

Why this indifference to Havana and its tense hatred against “the Americans”? For different reasons, among them, the tireless work of Cuban intelligence.

Ana Belén Montes, a Puerto Rican, was the highest-ranking spy, but not the only one, planted by “the Cubans” in the United States Defense Intelligence Agency. Her first contacts with Havana occurred in 1984, 17 years before she was arrested and accused of espionage, ten days after 11 September 2001. continue reading

She was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison plus five years of close surveillance, although theoretically she will spend them in her home. Her two siblings – Tito and Lucy, male and female – work loyally for the FBI. Montes will soon be released from prison, but she would have left her perfidious work very well done.

Indeed. Ana Belén Montes became the main analyst on Cuban issues for that institution for a great number of years. Her job consisted of coordinating from the Pentagon the vision between the different intelligence sections on the Cuban revolution, but her secret mission, agreed to with Havana, was to minimize the risk to Cuban communism and convince Washington of the convenience of lifting the embargo against the Island.

Fidel Castro didn’t like the arrival of Gorbachev at the Kremlin (1985). He came to think that Gorbachev was a CIA agent. “He can’t be such an idiot,” he said back then. He prepared for the worst. He met with the Brazilian trade unionist Lula da Silva. Brazil was a giant country, and the leader of the metallurgists union could support him with the “Workers Party.” Fidel Castro convinced him to support the Sao Paulo Forum. It was a kind of ‘International’ of the Latin American left that included the most violent organizations, such as the FARC and 47 other groups, which met in Sao Paulo in July 1990.

Faced with Mikhail Gorbachev’s strategy of “liberating Russia from the weight of the Soviet Union,” Fidel, who never did the math, didn’t care that the USSR was ruined on the way. His goal was fighting and defeating the United States, his particular war since he confessed to his secretary and lover Celia Sánchez his leitmotif in a handwritten letter dated June 5, 1958, in the middle of the Sierra Maestra.

Gorbachev’s strategic vision was evident in two matters that were very important to Fidel: he was notified, very discreetly, that Moscow would not continue to pay for the presence of Cubans in Africa, and the USSR sent a message to the Sandinista Front that it would not continue financing the war against the “Contra.” Gorbachev urged them to go to free elections against Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, something that Fidel strongly discouraged.

It seemed that communism was collapsing, but the Cuban regime showed that perseverance pays great results, even when its objectives were not the same ones that the USSR advocated – ending private property.

In 1990-1991 it seemed that Latin America had returned to the fold of democracy and development. Chile had separated from Augusto Pinochet, but not from its commitment to the market. But it didn’t happen like that: in 1994 Fidel invited Hugo Chávez, an unknown Venezuelan coup leader who had just been released from prison and had less than 2% popular support. At the end of 1998 he was elected President, guided by the Cuban political operators, and the return of chaos began.

In 2006 Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia. In 2007, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. In 2019 many young Chileans rebelled against the market, destroying many symbols of their recent successes. At the end of 2021, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya was elected in Honduras. She will control the government; her husband, Daniel Ortega will take power.

As I said, it’s like “the never-ending story.” A circular nightmare. There is no remedy.
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The Battle of the Grammys and the Example of Spain

The creators of ‘Patria y Vida’, with the exception of Osorbo, incarcerated in Cuba, collect the prize. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 29 November 2021 — The Cuban regime turns everything into a ridiculous battle. It’s incapable of looking at itself in the mirror. It fears the image of octogenarians defeated by life and takes on a heroic vision of them. Right now, it has transformed the 2021 Latin Grammy awards into an epic struggle against Yotuel, Maykel Osorbo, who is jailed, Descemer Bueno, Yadam González, El Funky, Gente de Zona, and Beatriz Luengo. Why? Because they are the authors or the performers of Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] (“Chancleta Records”), and because the organizers, in all fairness, chose that song as the best and the most outstanding of the year. At the same time, they received the Award for the “Best Urban Song” of 2021.

They weren’t even the only Cubans to win a Grammy. Gloria Estefan and the Aragón Orchestra also received one. Gloria Estefan won the “Best Tropical Album of the Year” award with Brazil-305, while the Aragón Orchestra, founded in 1939, 20 years before the Cuban Revolution arose, received the “Best Traditional Tropical Album” award for its Cha-Cha-Cha: Homenaje a lo tradicional (Tribute to the traditional.) The news surprised the members of the orchestra, according to Rafael Lay, its current director and son of one of the founders, although the sound quality was achieved in Los Angeles thanks to the efforts of Isaac Delgado and Alain Pérez, two excellent and charismatic performers.

Let’s look at the sequence of events. First, the clash with the San Isidro Movement took place. A group of very poor young artists, separated from political power, appeared in good faith at the Ministry of Culture to speak with the Minister. Their petition was not granted. Months later, the civic protests of July 11 occurred. Thousands of people rose up across the country. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the two events. Finally, on November 15, the civic association “Archipiélago” took over. It was provisionally led by Yunior García Aguilera, who ended up exiled in Spain, and who offered a magnificent explanation of these phenomena delivered at a press conference. continue reading

The fact that the “Song of the Year” award has been given to Patria y Vida should have told the revolutionary leadership that its message smells like mothballs. It’s very old. Twenty or 30 years ago they would have awarded a song based on the motto Patria o Muerte [Homeland or Death], and it would have been awarded by a kid wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, but today it is unthinkable that something like this would happen.

On January 1st the 63rd year of that revolution and that regime will begin! Of course, they can remain at the helm, but how long? General Francisco Franco died in bed like Fidel, as will likely happen to Raúl, but what they will not prevent is that the young generations completely modify the political course of the country. It has always been that way in world’s history.

Franco had carefully supervised the education of his successor in the executive power – the king – to ensure there would be no surprises. Even in Parliament – which at that time was called “the Cortes” and was made up of tercios, as the fascist manuals indicated – there were some fierce parliamentarians who made up “the 40 of Ayete.” They were known like that after the small palace in which they used to meet, very close to San Sebastián, in the Basque country, Franco’s residence in some summers. It was the group of Franco supporters that, supposedly, would resist any attempt to change. Only that at the head of “the 40 of Ayete” was no other than Adolfo Suárez, the man who, together with the king, led the transition once Franco died.

Neither King Juan Carlos nor Adolfo Suárez betrayed Franco. Or, if they did, they had to choose one of two conflicting loyalties: the one they owed to the old Caudillo who had personally elevated them, or the one they owed to the new generations who had not actively participated in the civil war, just like themselves. Both Juan Carlos de Borbón and Adolfo Suárez were products of World War II, or, in any case, of the Cold War that was then being fought. They chose to lead their compatriots to modernity and extract them from the first part of the 20th century to which the Generalissimo of Spain had dragged them.

I don’t know how the example of Spain can be ignored, despite the fact that, from an economic point of view, the last 15 years of the Franco regime were splendid. Cuba has a golden opportunity to correct the wrong course taken in 1959. All it has to do is rectify, consult society, and go, as Oswaldo Payá pointed out, “from the law to the law.” Otherwise, the country may fall into another stage of unnecessary violence.

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Regime Change in Cuba

In fact, it is Cubans who want to change the regime that prevails on the island. It is not the United States. The United States cares little about the fate of its neighbors. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 14 November 2021 — Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla was used by Raúl Castro to try to “scare” the young creators of “Archipiélago” and the San Isidro Movement. Bruno summoned the diplomats based in Cuba and said that the excesses announced for November 15 wouldn’t be tolerated. Why? Very simple and very sinister: because the United States is behind these efforts to “change the island’s regime.” It is behind these efforts with its dirty money and with the evil CIA, that doesn’t miss an opportunity to harm the country.

When Raúl considered whom to assign the presidency of Cuba, he hesitated to use the engineer Miguel Díaz-Canel. At one point, he believed that the presidency would be better defended by Bruno Rodríguez, but he chose to trust the criteria of José Ramón Machado Ventura, his official “headhunter.” Both are sorry for the selection, but they believed it would be enough to place a Prime Minister in President Díaz-Canel’s environment, as if he were a magical babysitter. For that purpose, they used the architect Manuel Marrero Cruz, although they had to restore the position, eliminated since 1976. (At the time, Marrero offended the doctors in the midst of the pandemic, which seemed unjustifiable to Raúl Castro, but preferred to reprimand him in private, something that Díaz-Canel chose to disclose.)

Perhaps it is impossible to have a president and a prime minister unrelated to the origins of the Revolution. For that reason, republics were established, organized around absolutely neutral laws and institutions that change destination with each generation that comes to power. In the United States, it is said that the Democratic Party was created by Thomas Jefferson, but this “founding father” had in mind a slave society of small plantation owners, as it was logical to think in those years (he was president from 1801 to 1809.)

The error is in believing the tale of Marxism-Leninism and in supposing that, once the Revolution was made, the design of the perfect state and permanent goals were found. That is simply not true. As the song by Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela says, “William Tell/ your son grew up/ and he wants to shoot the arrow.” Young Cubans don’t see themselves as the continuators of any revolution. They want to shoot their own arrows. The leader of the San Isidro Movement, the plastic artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, and the playwright Yunior García Aguilera, born in the eighties, don’t feel the slightest adherence to the legacy of Fidel, Raúl or Che Guevara.

If revolution is sudden change, then the most revolutionary country in the world is the United States, at least since continue reading

the 20th century. Here is where the most important technological and scientific discoveries on the world emerge, but also the most transcendent literary experiences, the singer-songwriters, from ragtime to rap, along with blues, rock, country, gospel and even “niuyorquina” salsa, that combines Cuban guarachas, Puerto Rican music, and Dominican bachatas and merengues.

There is no possibility of communicating to young people the “anti-Yankee” emotions of some generations that made the revolution. For them the blockade is a pretext to oppress them. They know that Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdés and Arturo Sandoval had to take their music business elsewhere, as Celia Cruz, Olga Guillot and Fernando Albuerne had done before, just to mention a few artists among the thousands who have gone into exile, because in Cuba the foolishness and the dictatorship met in an extraordinary expression that Paquito D’Rivera once had to hear, “The saxophone is a counterrevolutionary instrument.”

In fact, it is Cubans who want to change the regime that rules the island. It is not the United States. The United States cares little for the fate of its neighbors. Cubans don’t want to take to the hills or get involved in gunfights to change the regime. They wish to do so peacefully, through regular open consultations in good faith. I don’t know the opinion of the Cuban rulers. But if I were in their shoes, I would think very carefully about it.
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Cuba and the Protests of November 15

An image from the 11 July 2021 protests in Havana, Cuba. (Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 7 November 2021 — I have not been able to find out, for sure, why Raúl Castro authorized the appearance of Carlos Lage asking for “deep changes.” Lage is the former Cuban vice president purged a few years ago along with former Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque. I have asked the experts in the Cuban nomenclature. Dr. Pedro Roig attributed it to Raúl’s arteriosclerosis and that he has never been accused of being intelligent. It was, of course, a boutade. If anyone is aware that the general doesn’t do something for nothing, it’s this historian and lawyer, former Director of Radio and TeleMartí.

The inquiry led me to another point. It was a proxy target. The real target was Miguel Díaz-Canel. The Cuban president is in trouble. The frighten him with Lage’s presence. If his repressive strategy against the kids of November 15 goes wrong, he will have to pay a high price. He is not backed by any individual or institution. The Party doesn’t want him. Neither do the generals. “The puppeteer Raúl Castro showed him that if he can make Lage reappear, he can make Miguel Díaz-Canel disappear.” It may be true, but that is evident. If Raúl asks Díaz-Canel to resign, he has to resign, even though he disguises himself as a patriot and pretends to be more communist than Lenin.

Díaz-Canel has no way to win that battle. Security can run over the young artists of “Archipiélago”, the association that called for the march. But what it would not be able to do is restore its revolutionary enthusiasm. That’s dead, kaputt, rotten. It happens as it did with the Communist Party of the USSR. They had twenty million members, but the institution was dissolved by a simple decree. It is impossible to convey emotions. Silvio Rodríguez met with Yunior García Aguilera and his wife and heard them say something that is the key to the phenomenon that is happening in Cuba: young people no longer feel part of the process, what are they waiting for? Raúl to die? continue reading

Huber Matos, Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Manuel Artime, Jorge Valls, Pedro Luis Boitel, Higinio “Nino” Díaz, Payá Sardiñas, Alfredo Carrión, José Ignacio Rasco and many others died. There were thousands and they were part of the process. Opposite part, but ultimately an integral part of that process. Some died and others were killed. Cuba has the golden opportunity to find a rational solution to the current crisis. Is testicular reason going to prevail again? Will thousands of Cubans have to die when it would be possible to turn the page freely consulting the whole of Cuban society?

I continue.

“It has to do with something absolutely different – the Vatican.” Cuba has penetrated (no pun intended) Pope Francis. There are cardinals who report to Havana. The pope didn’t learn that a peaceful Cuban who prayed on his knees in the square would be expelled from the Vatican. It was an intrigue of the Cuban services in collusion with Vatican Security. The pope is surrounded. At stake is a continuation of the triangle that brought Obama to Havana – the Catholic Church, represented by Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Washington and Raúl Castro. The Cuban Church is no longer part of the equation. When Ortega Alamino died, and another Cuban cardinal was appointed, any vestige of “Raulism” disappeared in the ranks of the Cuban clergy.

The Havana regime has a huge interest in continuing the exchange and in having President Biden lift the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump. They invited Cardinal Patrick O’Malley to Cuba, despite his friendship with Xavier Suárez, former mayor of Miami and father of Francis Suárez, the current mayor of the city.

However, to hide the ultimate reason for the trip, they first took him to Dominican Republic, as if it were a regular route. O’Malley, who is no fool, knows the Cuban Security game, and knows that Obama was wrong to give so many concessions without receiving anything in return. He wouldn’t recommend anything like that to Joe Biden.

The Cuban regime is so interested in the US sanctions against the island being lifted, that it is willing to campaign to have Felix Varela declared a saint. Varela was a 19th century Cuban priest, exiled, wise and pro-independence, who was a parish priest in New York during the height of the exodus of the Catholic Irish as a result of poor potato harvests.

Raúl Castro doesn’t have the same aversion to the Catholic Church as his brother Fidel had. When his daughter Mariela asked priest Carlos Manuel de Céspedes to bless her marriage to an Italian, Raúl Castro agreed… as long as it was something public and well-known. He didn’t want it to be a secret ceremony.

Clearly, the trigger is the November 15 protest. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have complained in CubaDebate, an electronic ‘rag’ that collects the “legacy” of the Castros.

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Cuba: The End of the Party

Yunior García, one of the leaders of the Archipiélago, at the time he received the official response declaring the march of 15N “illegal”. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 30 October 2021 — The Cuban march on November 15 has been called by Archipiélago. This group is not a political party and does not intend to replace the communists in the country’s leadership. It takes its name from diversity. It is not true that Cuba is only an island. It is a large island – larger than the Netherlands and Belgium combined – and with many habitable islets, and also the Isle of Pines and the abundant keys.

Nor are the members of Archipiélago are at the service of the “Americans” or, specifically, of the CIA. This is the classic infamy with which the regime tries to discredit and disqualify those who oppose its forced unanimity. What the many members and supporters of Archipiélago want is to express themselves and tell their truths under the Constitution’s protection.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of thought, but, simultaneously, it subjects what is said to the socialist goals designed by the institutional order of the text itself. It is deliberately ambiguous since its model is the Stalin’s 1936 Constitution and its derivatives. On one side, it establishes the fundamental rights. On the other, it suppresses them.

In the Cuban case, when Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, on behalf of the ‘Christian Liberation Movement,’ presented more than the ten thousand signatures (in fact, more than 14,000) that were required to submit to a vote a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would authorize the multiparty system, the Cuban Parliament (the ‘National Assembly of People’s Power’) did not bother to answer him.

In 2012, he was murdered along with Harold Cepero. They were too bothersome. Human Rights Watch tells it: after a confusing incident, in which only the Cubans died continue reading

, despite the fact that both had got out of the car on their own feet, unaided. This was told to me by Ángel Carromero, a young Spanish man who was driving the car on the day of the crime.

Previously, the Constitution, the communist aims of Cuban society and the role of the Party had been “armored,” so that it was highly unlikely to modify the course of Cuban events. However, it is practically impossible to prevent such changes towards openness. When will they happen? Once there is a critical mass that demands them or, otherwise, when certain people with effective power have the political will to carry them out.

Both forces converge in Cuba. On July 11, it became clear that young people want to expand society’s participation margins, but, at the same time, there are thousands of cadres from the Communist Party itself who call themselves “reformists” and are eager to initiate a substantial change that allows them to abandon collectivist and authoritarian superstitions forever. It has been 62 years of continuous failures.

In this sense, the cases of Leo Brouwer, Pablo Milanés, and Silvio Rodríguez, despite being different, are very significant. They repeated the “we have come this far” of José Saramago, when three young black men were executed in Havana on April 11, 2003. Brouwer sharply distanced himself from the Cuban regime due to the repression exercised against civil society on July 11 of this year. Hundreds of peaceful people were beaten and imprisoned, which was intolerable to this great-nephew of Ernesto Lecuona, a great guitarist and a great composer.

Pablo Milanés has lived in Spain since 1992, so his clear break with the regime, expressed in previous circumstances and now reiterated, is not surprising. More significant was the position taken by Silvio Rodríguez. He talked for more than an hour with the young playwright Yunior García Aguilera, an animator from Archipiélago, and with his wife, Dayana, a filmmaker, after García Aguilera’s arbitrary arrest. From that meeting came out a formal request from the singer-songwriter to the dictatorship to release the hundreds of detainees who had not used violence.

Silvio Rodríguez said on Facebook, “The meeting with Yunior and Dayana was good, I am not exaggerating if I say fraternal; there was dialogue, exchange, we listened to each other with attention and respect. The most painful thing for me was hearing that they, as a generation, no longer felt part of the Cuban process but something else. They explained their arguments, their frustrations to me. I tried to make them understand that at my age everything was also much slower than we expected it to be.

Silvio Rodríguez has taught Miguel Díaz-Canel a lesson on how to deal with the opposition. But he has received another quite obvious lesson – he has heard that Yunior and Dayana “do not feel part of the Cuban process.” The story of the Sierra Maestra is so old that it’s not possible for young people to bond emotionally with those stories. Silvio was born in the 1940s. Yunior in the eighties. If Silvio were as rational as he appears he would tell Díaz-Canel to get ready for the end of the party. It’s just around the corner.

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Biden Opposes Cuban Communism

US President Joe Biden during a meeting at the White House on July 12th. (EFE/Sarah Silbiger/Pool)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 24 July 2021 — Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was tortured and killed by the Russian political police in 2009. He had denounced tax fraud for more than 200 million dollars in his native country. They killed him or left him to die in his cell. It’s the same thing.

In 2012, Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, with the support of Republican John McCain, presented a bill to the United States Congress that he entitled “Sergei Magnitsky’s Rule of Law Accountability Act.” It was signed by President Obama. As there is an American tendency to abbreviate the language, they have applied the “Global Magnitsky Act” to the Cuban state and have sanctioned General Álvaro López Miera, Minister of Defense, in charge of the armed forces and the feared Black Berets.

The Russians, led by Putin, have vigorously opposed the globalization of justice, but the trend continues. The idea that “we are the only ones who should judge our own crimes” does not work at all. It generates impunity. England, Canada and the Baltic countries are on board with the “Global Magnitsky Act.” Pretoria is studying it, along with France and Germany.

In any case, the first demand of the Cuban exiles to President Joe Biden was that he restore the internet to the Island of Cuba. It is known that, technologically, the United States continue reading

can do it.

But the second demand, according to María Werlau, the soul of “Archivo Cuba,” was that he implement the Global Magnitsky Act, and it seems that they have listened to her or have concurred. (I don’t know if the people who oppose globalization know that they are playing a game of cards shamelessly marked by Vladimir Putin.)

Many years ago, I received a message from Gustavo Arcos about General Álvaro López Miera. There were the names of other generals in the letter that I won’t reveal. Gustavo was a hero in the fight against Batista and later opposed his former friend Fidel Castro and ended up in jail.

Gustavo asked me to closely follow the figure of López Miera. I did so. He is from Santiago, although born in Havana, the son of Spanish Republicans, who had been semi-adopted by Vilma Espín and Raúl Castro. His father was a professor at the Universidad de Oriente. Supposedly, Alvaro was 14 years old (he was born in December 1943) when he rose up in arms, and then he pursued a military career in the USSR. “Vilma loved him like a son,” those who knew the ties between the two families told me.

I don’t know why Gustavo mentioned this name, but I find him once again accused as a repressor of the human rights of Cubans. For now, I remember Venezuelan General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, former head of SEBIN. He went over to the enemy and the sanctions were lifted. There are two epigraphs that justify that wonderful Jordan. One is “genuine repentance” and the other, because, at the request of the President of the United States, it is convenient for National Security. I don’t know which of the two criteria were applied to the Venezuelan general. Perhaps both. Anyway, there is no doubt that the sanctions exist to be eventually lifted.

There won’t be an American invasion against Cuba, despite the wishes of the Cubans inside and outside the island, unless the resistance inside Cuba provokes a generalized massacre, abundantly filmed. Faced with these facts, for humanitarian reasons, American society can be dragged into combat, but it’s very difficult for it to happen. Not even Donald Trump ordered an intervention against Nicolás Maduro, despite having flirted with “all options are on the table.” Trump was playing to scare Maduro, but he didn’t talk seriously with his generals about the possibility of destroying the Venezuelan armed forces from the air, something that would have been very easy.

This outcome is only possible if the US takes seriously what is happening in Latin America and creates an organization like NATO in its hemisphere, but I don’t see the slightest intention of implementing political decisions with full force. Nor is there, in this part of the world, a will to defend democracy like the one observed in Europe, where the United States is forced to bomb the Serbs or Libyans from the air. We are used to living with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia and soon we will get used to Mr. Pedro Castillo in Peru.

That doesn’t mean that the Cuban regime is getting away with it. Despite what AMLO in Mexico or Mrs. Cristina in Argentina shout, the protests on July 11 and 12 have served to deny the dictatorship any significant support. The obscene images of young policemen and communist militants dressed in civilian clothes, arriving in buses and equipped with bats and sticks to silence the opposition, are unforgettable. That happened throughout the island.

Although the protests were drowned in blood, the few investments that will flow will be, for the most part, unholy money. No serious and law-abiding person will want to mix with that small world of criminals.

We are very close to the end. How will it come? In the same way that the revolt of mid-July began. Unexpectedly. But it will come.

Note: This translation is from Montaner’s own blog.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Open letter to Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel

All of you lack credibility, Mr. President. Nobody believes you, neither inside nor outside the country.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 17 July 2021

 

Mr. President,

Nobody, except psychopaths, likes to be perceived as an inducer of terror. That changed abruptly on Sunday, July 11. Esteban Ventura and Conrado Carratalá, two famous murderers in the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, returned at full speed and mingled with the revolutionaries. The story was substantially modified. The revolutionaries went from being the protagonists of a gallant story of resistance in the face of adversity, to being perceived as abusers who beat and killed unarmed young men who demanded freedom.

The social outbreak was looming. The San Isidro Movement and the song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] were the turning points. Your government, Mr. President, didn’t know how to respond. As they have always done, they stuck to their guns without realizing that the circumstances are different. It was a mistake not to talk to those young people.

On July 11, 2021, everything began to change in Cuba. It’s not the end, but it is the beginning of the end.  Very worried, Yoani Sánchez at 14yMedio, and the priest José Conrado Rodríguez, among others, said it before it happened to anyone willing to listen. This time it would be different. It was not a usual crisis.

Cubans have been undernourished for decades and living in ruined houses due to the negligence of their rulers. They often have to evacuate their homes because they collapse. Education and healthcare are from the third world (except for the big shots, of course). Clothes, shoes, and cell phones are so precious that some people might kill you to steal your continue reading

tennis shoes or your cell phone. Transportation belongs to the fourth world. The Internet comes and goes at the discretion of the bosses. And yet nothing happened.

What happened on July 11? It happened that Fidel died in late 2016 and Raúl, apparently, had retired. It happened that food almost ran out. Society was fed up with the official manipulations of the currency because it was one scam after another. Nothing irritates workers more than to be paid in a currency without purchasing power while products are sold in a currency that is worth 20 or 30 times more than a worker’s meager salary. The heat of the terrible Cuban summer and the absence of electric fans, much less air conditioners, happened.

The Covid-19 pandemic happened. You, Mr. President, managed that crisis very badly. The “Abdala” vaccines don’t even have the approval of the Cuban or Venezuelan health authorities. They have only reached a tiny percentage of the island’s inhabitants, while 12 million vaccines have ended up in Venezuela. They have dared to say that the effectiveness of the vaccine is 92%, after three doses. Why 92%? To be no less than the Russian vaccine? You don’t gamble with people’s lives, Mr. President. Secrecy is not a virtue in these matters. We know, because José Martí said it, that a Republic is not ruled as if it were a military camp.

All of you lack credibility, Mr. President. Nobody believes you, neither inside nor outside the country. You can’t lie to people for that long. Fidel swore that he was not a communist at the beginning of the Revolution. Then he contradicted himself and claimed that he became a Marxist-Leninist at the university. He accused the United States of all the evils that affected Cuba, including the hurricanes. He called the “embargo” a “blockade”. The embargo was a series of measures that limited commercial transactions between the two countries, as a result of the confiscations of American companies without paying a penny of compensation.

These confiscations began during the Eisenhower administration and escalated in the thousand days of the Kennedy administration. But when Obama reestablished relations in 2014 and tried to pave the way between the two nations, he was accused of being an imperialist and of having hidden intentions to annex the Island, a trend that, supposedly, had been present in the United States since the beginning of the 19th century, since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson.

Mr. President, if you don’t want to provoke a military coup, you have to open up a dialogue with society. Thousands of people have already left. The most conspicuous are the artists we all know: Chucho Valdés, los Van-Van, Leo Brouwer (Ernesto Lecuona’s great-nephew) and Silvio Rodríguez (he’s thinking about it). But there is a general, a Vice Minister in the Ministry of the Interior, named Jesús Manuel Burón Tabit, who is very upset with the abuses in Cuba, according to Juan Juan Almeida and published in Madrid’s ABC. Although if he weren’t the person, someone else would replace him.

At ninety years old, Raúl is very old and has lived to please Fidel. He is hopeless. Even after the Commander is buried, he gravitates over all of you. What did you say in the meetings? You wondered what Fidel Castro would have done. But Fidel didn’t understand anything about today’s world, and he died devoted to the production of Moringa. He could win, but not convince. Democracy serves, among other things, President, to avoid violence. It is true that you may lose power, but what good is the government if you are universally repudiated? The Cuban Revolution was exemplary in its beginnings, but the process was gradually rejected. The last vestiges of freshness were lost on July 11. Since then, they have remained as murderers and thugs. No one likes that role, Mr. President. Desertions will continue.

Note: This translation is from Montaner’s own blog.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba is Dedicated to Conquering Columbia

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 29 January 2021 — It appeared in the weekly Semana. They published a secret dossier, written by the intelligence bodies for Colombian President Iván Duque. This happened after the entry in the publication of the “Gilinski Group.” The sensational content reveals Cuban manipulation and interference in internal political affairs. Semana is a very important Colombian magazine directed by journalist Vicky Dávila.

Colombia is in the sights of “the Cubans.” Naturally, the president of Cuba himself, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has denied it, but the mark is very clear. Why is Havana dedicated to conquering Colombia? For at least three reasons. Because they already rule in Venezuela and the country has been thoroughly looted and destroyed. Cuba needs to replace the sources of oil supply and economic funds. The Island has an absolutely parasitic and unproductive system at the service of the military and doesn’t want to change it.

Second, because it counts on old apparatchiks like Gustavo Petro and Iván Cepeda. It’s no longer necessary to knock down the old structures of the Republic with cannon fire. It’s enough to participate in the elections and win. The Quislings are inside the country, as happened with Chávez and Maduro. And third, because Cuba has always done it and has done it “well.” Fighting bulls charge because they charge. It’s not necessary to find the guilty ones or play psychoanalysis. It’s in their nature. continue reading

Iván Duque will have to decide what to do with the Havana regime. He already knows that Cuban ambassador José Luis Ponce Caraballo is a smiling and skilled intelligence officer trained to penetrate and win friends, as former Cuban intelligence officer Enrique García, exiled in Miami, told me. And besides, he knows that Colombia is a desired target because of its oil production (although it has diminished substantially), and its ability to produce food for the hungry Cuban people.

If he breaks relations with Cuba, “the Cubans” assure sotto voce, they will release their internal pack of dogs, including the ELN, created by them half a century ago. But if he doesn’t, Cuban political operators will find a way for Petro to win the election. “Chávez had less than 5% when we started to operate in 1998. At the end we defeated Henrique Salas Römer by a wide margin,” they say with pride.

If Cuba conquered Venezuela when Fidel was alive and there was some hope that it would improve the quality of life of the Cuban people, today there is almost no one on the island who thinks the same regarding Colombia. All have watched with fear the gradual destruction of the country. The plummeting drop in oil production. Caracas’s inability to produce food or to meet its financial obligations. The blackouts. The sudden exile of almost six million Venezuelans. In short, they have seen in Venezuela what happens when the Cuban model is copied.

What’s the purpose of subjecting the people of Colombia to Venezuelan or Cuban horror? Why should they take the same path if Cubans are rehearsing or studying how to eliminate the Soviet model copied from the USSR in the sixties, when the USSR existed, and when Fidel, Raúl, Che Guevara and a dozen “revolutionaries” more believed the tale of Marxism and imposed an implacable dictatorship? What will they do after destroying Colombia? Will they try the same in Brazil?

Joe Biden administration’s officials in charge of Latin American affairs should ask themselves these questions. Over many years, since Clinton and his successor George W. Bush administrations, they have invested billions of dollars in strengthening Colombia, an effective and sincere ally in the fight against drug trafficking and for the preservation of democracy. Will they allow all that effort to fade away? Will they allow the sacrifices and the deaths to be without a purpose?

One of the symptoms of Third-Worldism is to completely ignore the predecessor’s acts of government. Not everything Trump did was wrong. One of his last decrees was to include Cuba once again among the nations that sponsor terrorism. Presumably, President Obama hastened to eliminate the description of the Cuban state as “terrorist,” thinking that the good intentions of one of the two contenders were enough for the other to change its behavior. He hadn’t realized that fighting bulls are programmed to charge. It’s their nature.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.