Speaking of Chile: Boric and Lagos

“No one in their right mind wants it to fail” Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who has the advice of the elderly Ricardo Lagos, a former president. (Twitter/Gabriel Boric)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 17 September 2022 — Former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos has taken Chile’s current president Gabriel Boric as his disciple, although he doesn’t know it. The former social democratic president is practically half a century older than the brand-new socialist president. Lagos is 84 years old. He has seen it all. Boric is the youngest president in Latin America; he is only 35 years old. Protecting the boy is a sound decision. The interview with Lagos appeared in Madrid’s El País. No one in his right mind wants things to go wrong for Boric. Chile continues to be the benchmark for Latin Americans, the nation that was about to enter the first world. It is true that it had a stumble in October 2019, but I think that everything has passed.

This was also called “Octoberism.” I read the report of that atrocious period, which many Chileans find surprisingly reasonable, especially teenagers, on the website of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, “Chile: return from hell,” written by Peruvian Luis Gonzales Posada, an APRA follower and former Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs:

“Violence erupted to inexplicable levels. 118 of 136 subway stations and numerous cars were damaged or destroyed. Several churches, including the 150-year-old La Concepción, were burned and hooded criminals entered the temples to destroy religious images and take them out to the street to use them as barricades. There was looting in 200 supermarkets, pharmacies and stores. The statues of the Conquistadores were pulled down by Mapuche protesters. Military barracks and 400 carabineros stations were attacked with firearms and Molotov cocktails. Neither the curfew nor the state of emergency calmed the angry protest. More than 3 billion dollars and 200 thousand jobs were lost, the currency was devalued, the GDP was reduced by one point and the stock market fell 13%. There were 34 dead, 9,000 arrested, 12,000 injured and 3,400 hospitalized, including 800 carabineros.”

That is why Chilean novelist and politician Roberto Ampuero, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, with great literary experience and in the ideological field, described those events as “atrocious.” In his youth he was a member of the Chilean Communist Party and lived in Cuba. He wrote an excellent crime novel, Demonio (Demon,) in which he ventures the hypothesis that it was an international coup attempt of the unrepentant left. The protagonist of the novel is Cayetano Brulé, his permanent detective, who is hired to locate a missing painter, and ends up discovering an international plot after the events of October 2019. continue reading

In any case, the unexpectedness of the cataclysm succeeded in paralyzing, at least for a time, the appearance of the basic Latin American “model,” and was on the verge of preventing the development of Chile. In the second presidential term of Peruvian Alan García, it was smart to be guided by the market instead of relying on “centralized planning.” In the countries that imitated Chile, the accounts of the private pension system were essential to create a volume of savings that would give stability to nations. However, those of us who believed that private investment accounts would give stability to families, since they created an extra interest in individual people, were wrong.

It didn’t happen like that. We didn’t count on youngsters, the high school kids who would be the workforce in the happy destruction of the environment. Nor did we count on the insistent propaganda against the Chicago boys, and even Milton Friedman, and against the “unsupportive-tendencies-that-inevitably-emerged-from-the-neoliberal-constructions.” It was irresponsible not to respond to all the mindless people who attacked from many universities and communication sites the efforts to rescue Chile from mediocrity. “Mindless” is perhaps the best description of a “mind captured” by nonsense that is usually subservient to the communist left and the fascistic right in our current moment. People tend to forget that the revolution against the “old regime” was made precisely in favor of liberal principles.

For example, the globalization that prevented nationalism. There is not the slightest doubt that Chile benefited from the “free trade agreements” signed with many countries. Free trade was never so intense. For example, consumerism, repudiated by hundreds of years of religious preaching that favored the spiritual or physical penalty of interests, and opposed the free use of savings. For example, the deregulations that encouraged investments in Chile (and in any place that chose bureaucratic simplification). For example, the preference for statism, so Latin American, so Roman, which gave the State permanent possession of the subsoil instead of giving it to the owner.

Is it worth to continue? The kicking (62% against 38%) that was given to a new Constitution was a return to the path of growth, not an endorsement of Pinochetism, as Gustavo Petro, the new president of Colombia, stupidly said. Chile returned from hell. It peeked out and didn’t like what it saw. Ricardo Lagos, a social democrat ideologically akin to Felipe González, who has already governed prudently, is right to guide Gabriel Boric. Nobody in his right mind wants him to fail.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Gorbachev, the Man Who Detested Violence

Mikhail Gorbachev

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 3 September 2022 — Mikhail Gorbachev has died at 91 years old. Not that bad. The life expectancy of Russians in 2019, just before the pandemic, was eight years less than the average of people in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). If you decide to be from Korea, a member country of the institution, I advise you to be born in the furiously capitalist south, and not in the gloriously socialist north. On average, you will live 12 more years (80.5 vs. 68.8) and will be three centimeters taller (168.6 vs. 165.6). But I want to write about Gorbachev, “Gorby” for his friends, which he didn’t have too many of in Russia.

I visited Moscow three or four times during Gorbachev’s last period in the government and Boris Yeltsin’s first tenure. At that time, I was traveling as vice president of the Internacional Liberal — in the sense that term has in Europe — and as president of the Unión Liberal Cubana. I didn’t meet Gorbachev, although I had friends who did establish a certain friendship with him. Instead, I met Aleksander Yakovlev, his anti-totalitarian conscience and the person who most influenced him. So I can assure that the changes that took place in that tortured region of the planet were due to Yakovlev’s advice.

Yakovlev was a hero of the USSR. He lost a leg during World War II at the Battle of Leningrad, the largest siege in history (900 days). He was barely 20 years old. He was born in 1923 to semi-illiterate, albeit communist, parents in the small town of Korolyovo. He joined the Communist Party at 21 and rose to become the Central Committee’s head of National Propaganda. He knew every last detail of Marxism and began to suspect the Party. It led to the creation of parasitic structures that only served to sustain the leadership, and to give life to ridiculous attitudes such as chauvinism and nationalism. He published an article in 1972 in Literatunaya Gazeta denouncing these attitudes. Brezhnev, who ruled at the time, felt alluded to, and he got rid of Yakovlev sending him as ambassador to Canada. There he would not “harm” the “true” communists, the ones akin to Brezhnev.

Except that in 1983 Gorbachev visited Yakovlev and was dazzled. He was in Canada. He was a lawyer who was simultaneously an agricultural technician. He was the theorist he needed, Gorbachev thought, but he didn’t tell him at the time. There were several days of endless conversations allowed by Aeroflot’s everlasting failures. He articulated like nobody else the defense of glasnost, transparency, because all the economic reforms had already been tried: the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the era of Lenin until 1924, and Stalin until 1929, with few real results, except the initial ones. The virgin lands had been brought into production in the decade under Khrushchev’s rule, more than 300,000 square kilometers (1954-1964). The terror of public discussion and the consequences of popular debate had to be suppressed. In Canada things worked differently. It was a huge and frozen territory, similar to the USSR. Really, glasnost made the difference!

They were two idealistic communists. Both wanted to reform the system without destroying it. Yuri Kariakin, a philosopher and thinker, husband of economist Irina Zorina, an expert in Cuba’s issues, had told me that there was a type of communist, resistant to violence, among whom were Mikhail Gorbachev and, indeed, Aleksander Yakovlev. They wanted to convince their opponents, not defeat them. The history of Russia was full of men and women drenched in blood who had created the myth of the inability of Russians to be obedient to anything other than the threat of punishment. continue reading

Was Kariakin’s story true? I believe it. It’s a matter of time. I have already said that Gorbachev has died without the esteem of the majority of Russians. He is loved abroad. At the same time, Russian society is not willing to go back to collectivism and the one-party system without being tortured.

I read that Vladimir Putin will not attend Gorbachev’s funeral. He is a KGB man beyond redemption. He prefers to convey an image of a fierce man, an image of everything that Gorbachev and Yakovlev hated.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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: The Unfinished Dream

A street in central Havana.(EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 28 August 2022 — “It’s in the genes.” Javier Figueroa de Cárdenas is a relative of Miguel Figueroa, a brilliant 19th century autonomist. Autonomism was a way of being patriotic in Cuba, especially since the “Pact of Zanjón,” which in 1878 put an end to the “Ten Years War,” until 1898, when the United States tipped the balance in favor of the Cuban insurrection.

Independentism

Autonomism was defeated by the independentism promoted by José Martí, but, as the most reliable historians recognize today, the best Cuban minds were autonomists: Rafael Montoro, Antonio Govín, José María Gálvez, Eduardo Dolz, Figueroa himself and a very long etcetera. Unfortunately, the experiment only lasted 20 years (from 1878 to 1898,) the same period that the “Liberal Autonomist Party” lasted, the first political entity that emerged in a totally independent Cuba.

Javier Figueroa is an excellent professional historian. I met him with Sylvia, his wife, in Puerto Rico, where he taught until he retired. He got his PhD from the University of Connecticut, and he has published a very remarkable book, with more than 700 pages and with almost 2000 footnotes, which he has called “The Unfinished Dream: A History of the Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE). Cuba 1959-1966”.

The unfinished dream and the “Spanish pax”

Why is it called The Unfinished Dream? Because Cuba has not been liberated and democracy has not been restored, as Alberto Muller, Juan Manuel Salvat and Ernesto Fernández Travieso, the three founders of the DRE, proposed at the beginning of the adventure, in 1961. And why could they not achieve it? Somehow, this first review tries to address that issue. In fact, Cuba and all of Latin America pay to be far from the European fighting pit. They pay (and charge) for the Spanish isolation. The 19th century brought the destruction of the “Spanish pax.”

For several centuries Spain had kept her colonies on the sidelines of European crises, only bothered by the actions of pirates and corsairs. But Napoleon appeared in European history, invaded Spain and, after a moment of doubt, the Latin American peoples became independent, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico. (I know I am oversimplifying, but this is not the place to detail the hypothesis.)

Not all were costs, of course. There were some advantages. To the extent that Spain did not participate in the two world wars, with their enormous share of blood and destruction, but with the relative advantages of the two continue reading

post-war years, Latin America continued to be perceived as something different, despite the fact that language, religion, the layout of the streets, the division of powers and the rest of the symptoms pointed to Europe itself, led by Spain and Portugal, sticking its head out across the Atlantic.

Fidel Castro was a disciplined communist

Thus, on January 1, 1959, came the news that Fulgencio Batista, president and (not so) strong man of the country, had fled the island, leaving his army completely helpless. In the US embassy in Havana there was total confusion. Some accuse Fidel of being a communist. Others, of being, fundamentally, “fidelista.” There are even some (the fewest) who think that he is an “anti-communist democrat.”

A few weeks must pass to unravel the mystery. It happens in April 1959. But the outcome is not at all clear. Castro travels to the USA that spring. He has been invited by the press association. He announces that he will go as part of “Operation Truth” to contradict those who oppose the executions.

Dwight D. (‘Ike’) Eisenhower, as president, and Richard Nixon, as vice president, are in the White House. On April 19, Nixon invites Castro to visit him. Eisenhower is not available. He has some urgent golf games. The VP writes a short memo in which he characterizes Fidel as charismatic (which he is) and as “incredibly naïve” regarding communism (which he is not) or a “disciplined communist” with all its consequences (which he is.) But Nixon’s opinion was not taken seriously by Ike.

Until the beginning of next year. 1960, an election year in which, in the November elections, at the end of the year, Kennedy was preferred over Nixon. However, Eisenhower adopted a wrong strategy, perhaps due to misunderstanding of the Cuban drift that forged the presence of atomic weapons pointing at the United States from Cuba, just 90 miles away.

Let me be clear. Stalin had died on March 5, 1953. With him he had taken to the grave the notion that the Latin American peoples should wait for the American revolution to assault the “winter palace.” That was the talk of Earl Browder and of Browderism. Fidel Castro had shown that a communist revolution could be made a stone’s throw from the USA. Everything depended on what Moscow was willing to risk.

Khrushchev times

Those were the days of Khrushchev, who believed that the future would be communist. He thought that the USA was a giant “Potemkin village.” The first object had left Earth headed for outer space. It was Russian. The USSR was winning the space race. There were reasons to be confused.

In 1966 it wasn’t like that. But what could Eisenhower have done in the last year of his second term, in 1960? Perhaps, understand the danger of Fidel Castro, and admit that Latin America was one more region of the European side, facing the communist challenge, and act accordingly. That meant that he should openly engage his armies, and not uselessly try to hide behind the CIA, created at the beginning of the “Cold War,” in the late 1940s.

Only that this course of action contradicted the widespread prejudice that Latin America was not part of the same value system of the Western nations, subscribed to by Eisenhower, and Fidel Castro should not be taken seriously by his enemies. (It is said in Cuba, sotto voce, that on that first trip to the US, after the triumph of the revolution, a drunken Congressman, Republican or Democrat — in this case it makes absolutely no difference — stared at Fidel Castro, tried playfully to take his hands, and just said, “Oh, Fidel Castro, Cha-Cha-Cha!” The Maximum Leader, as he was called then, looked at him in astonishment.)

A book about Cuba from 1959 to 1966

It gave me great joy that the author gathered in one volume so many scattered friends and even the dead and executed: Virgilio Campanería, Manolo Salvat, Alberto Muller, Joaquín Pérez Rodríguez, José Basulto, Juanito de Armas, Emilio Martínez Venegas, Nicolás Pérez, Huber Matos, Rolando Cubelas, Miguelón García Armengol, Ramón Cernuda, Luis Fernández Rocha, Ignacio Uría, Pedro Subirats, José María de Lasa, Miguel Lasa, Pedro Roig, José Antonio González Lanuza, José Ignacio Rasco, Manuel Artime, Fernando García Chacón, and so many others that would make this chronicle a useless catalog of names.

It occurs to me that the same scruples that Muller, Salvat and Ernesto Fernández Travieso had in accepting the CIA aid were shared by all the groups and personalities that joined the fight in that first wave. To what extent was it honorable to accept financial aid from the CIA?

José Miró Cardona, engineer Manuel Ray and the People’s Revolutionary Movement (MRP), Manuel Artime at the head of the Revolutionary Recovery Movement (MRR), Tony Varona with his Revolutionary Rescue (RR), and all the organizations with their acronyms in tow had serious doubts about accepting the aid offered by the CIA. Perhaps they didn’t know that the collaboration between the USSR and Fidel Castro began as soon as the revolution began.

Angelito Martínez Riosola

Indeed, the party of Cuban communists, the PSP, took over State Security since the beginning of the revolution, and put a man trained by the KGB at its helm. On March 4, 1960, when Eisenhower became convinced of Fidel Castro’s communist drift, and asked the CIA to put together a response, it was already too late. That same day, Soviet General Francisco Ciutat de Miguel had arrived from Curaçao to take charge of the defense of the communist tyranny that had emerged in Cuba. On the Island he was called “Angelito Martínez Riosola” by direct appointment of Fidel Castro.

The CIA was not effective at all in fighting the KGB. It even almost lost in Guatemala in 1954. Despite this, they entrusted the same team to prepare a response plan. The infiltrations it made behind the Iron Curtain were all annihilated. It was, as they used to say in Cuba, “Monkey against lion and the monkey tied up.”

Salvat ended up selling books in Miami, Miró Cardona teaching law in Puerto Rico, Ray exercising his profession as a builder of cheap prefabricated houses. In short, the first batch settled for “the unfinished dream.” Downhearted, Santiago Álvarez told me that the Kennedys would have solved the issue, but I don’t know. They would have to use the US armies or wait for the inherent inability of the collectivist economy to produce goods and services, to cause certain changes that would wipe out the system. That’s what we’re waiting for.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

‘Give Him Death’

Oswaldo Payá (L) and Harold Cepero (R)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 22 July 2022 — It has been 10 years since Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were assassinated in Cuba. It was July 22, 2012. We’ll get to that later. Ángel Carromero, a Spaniard, and Aron Modig, a Swede, were, more or less, witnesses to the murder. Carromero was a delegate of Nuevas Generaciones (New Generations,) the youth organization of the Spanish Popular Party, and Modig was the president of Sweden’s Young Christian Democrats.

A few days ago, I received an excellent book by David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorialist for The Washington PostGIVE ME LIBERTY: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and His Daring Quest for a Free Cuba. The Pulitzer Prize is a guarantee that Hoffman knows how to investigate. He wouldn’t buy a pig in a poke.

For those unfamiliar with American history, “Give me Liberty” is a famous speech Patrick Henry delivered at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775, as the American Revolution was brewing. His words, which electrified the audience, ended with a well-known phrase in the country, “Give me Liberty… or give me death.”

The very well researched work, especially regarding the history of Payá, was sent to me by John Suárez, who replaced Frank Calzón, the founder and soul of the “Center for a Free Cuba,” a think tank devoted exclusively to freedom for Cubans. Perhaps it is the only one of its kind in a city where think tanks abound.

As I was saying, Give me Liberty convinced me of what Ofelia (Payá’s widow) and Rosa María (Payá’s eldest daughter and founder of “Cuba Decides,” a formidable collaborator in her father’s work) had already warned me about, that the regime assassinated Oswaldo and Harold, although it was not what Raúl Castro intended to do. He wanted to scare them, not kill them, but he condoned the action as soon as it was done. For Fidel and Raúl it was obvious where their loyalties lay. Hence the brutal cover-up, as always happens – the episodes of the sunken ships with their cargo of innocent children, the “13 de Marzo” and the “Canímar,” and the executions of General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Tony de la Guardia et al, are the best known, but not the only ones.

Cuban secret services, organized and trained by communist Germany’s Stasi in the 1960s and 1970s, have conspicuous and invisible ways of carrying out the persecution of any targeted individuals on the island. They wanted to give a lesson to the “arrogant Europeans” that were on the island to train Cubans in the details of the transition, so they chose the “conspicuous” formula.

A conspicuous vehicle, typical of the fearsome Cuban State Security, a red Lada, which followed them for a long time during the journey, even hitting the rear end of their car, causing the accident that would result in the death of the two Cubans (what a coincidence!) continue reading

It was not the first time that Oswaldo Payá had been followed conspicuously. An associate of Payá stated that days before the assassination of the opposition leader, together with Harold Cepero, they used the same procedure to try to instill fear in Payá, only that on that occasion they overturned his vehicle, and the car was left with the tires facing up.

That is why State Security (the Cuban political police) exhibits erratic behavior. On the one hand, they did what they have always done, what internally they felt authorized to do – terrorize dissidents. But in this case both people were killed.

If they died on the spot, or if they were killed later, in both cases there is a cover-up and very suspicious behavior. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, a great expert on Cuban affairs, insists that he was assassinated in an article (“How did Oswaldo Payá really die?”) published in the Wall Street Journal on April 7, 2013.

Why do they deny the family the opportunity to examine the body and perform an autopsy? Why don’t they respond to the accusations made by the jurists of “Human Rights Watch”? What is the point of refusing to share the evidence with supporters and opponents if they have it at hand and it is a golden opportunity to shut up the opponents of the Cuban revolution for many years?

No one believes the story of the “revolutionary arrogance.” When it has been necessary, they have lowered their heads and swallowed their pride. Both are already dead, and the story can be told. Fraga Iribarne told Fidel Castro that they were going to hang him by the testicles if he did not change his behavior. Fidel left Galicia that early morning, but he did not reply to Fraga. He swallowed his response.

Today, and since the Chavista charity ended, the country has worsened and has become a pigsty due to the lack of every basic item (electricity, medicines, drinking water, food), to which is added the presence of dengue fever, Covid and of other similar misfortunes, as if the seven plagues of Egypt affected Cuba.

Ultimately, what Oswaldo Payá proposed with the “Varela Project” is extraordinarily valid. In 2003, 19 years ago, he proposed going “from the law to the law,” taking advantage of a space left by the current legislation to ask the nation if it insisted on communism or if it evolved towards other more intelligent and sensible ways of organizing coexistence. At that time Fidel Castro was still alive and, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity that his opponent gave him to rectify, he came out with a rude remark and accused him of being “the CIA by other means.”

He did not give him freedom. Instead, he gave him death.

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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: 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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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 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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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.

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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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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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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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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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 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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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.