When You Read This Article I Will be Dead

Cuban writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner. (14ymedio)

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14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 3 July 2023 — When you read this article I will be dead. “Living is a right, not an obligation,” said Ramón Sampedro, a Spaniard who had become a quadriplegic after an accident on the beach. His life, his fight to be allowed access to assisted suicide and his death were interpreted in the cinema by Javier Bardem in the film Mar adentro.

“Don Carlos, are you going back to live in Spain?” asked an amazed neighbor from Brickell Avenue, where I was living in Miami. “No. I’m going to die in Spain,” I kindly replied, with a smile, and continued on my way. After all, I lived 40 years in Madrid, my intention was to live again in my apartment across from El Retiro park, I have Spanish nationality and I firmly believe in euthanasia and assisted death, as do, fortunately, more than 70% of Spaniards.

I started writing this article in Miami at the beginning of 2022 and I conclude it by dictating it, since I currently have great difficulties writing. At that moment, before being informed of a more severe diagnosis, I came to the conclusion that I would not allow the Parkinson’s that I had suffered for a few years to take away any more of my faculties. By then, I had already lost the ability to improvise orally, but not the ability to write. It seems that the brain houses the two faculties in different places. In any case, everything would get worse.

I started writing this article in Miami at the beginning of 2022 and I conclude it by dictating it, since I currently have great difficulties writing

In March 2021, the Spanish Congress of Deputies approved the euthanasia law by 202 votes in favor, 141 against, and 2 abstentions. It is one of the countries that has it – in the US there is assisted suicide, but only in 10 states and the District of Columbia, out of the 50 of the American Union. Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal and Canada have legislated on euthanasia and assisted dying. It is a small number. There are almost 200 nations recognized by the United Nations Organization.

On April 3, 2022, I turned 79 in Miami. It was the age at which my father died of heart disease on March 7, 1992. My mother died at the age of 83 from a “minor” operation (except for her, of course) in the year 2000. According to the admired Italian neurologist Rita Levi -Montalcini, Nobel Prize in Medicine (1986), children, roughly, should calculate their life expectancy by averaging the age at death of the two parents, but adding ten percent, as a result of medical advances. My number was 88 years. It’s too much. I think starting the eighth inning, as my friend Jorge Sonville says, is more than enough. It’s quite a provocation.

My younger brother, Robert Alex, a brilliant physician with whom I discussed the Levi-Montalcini formula, was skeptical of this hypothesis. He argued, with good reason, that those averages didn’t help much. He, my younger brother, died at the age of 69 in the midst of the Covid 19 epidemic. His death occurred on August 1, 2020. At that time, there was no vaccine. I was almost eight years older than he. But my older brother, born in October 1940, Ernesto, is still alive. Of the three, he is the most resistant to life’s adversities.

The purpose of this article is to stimulate the debate on euthanasia: my position is to support it as long as it is a voluntary choice. In the same way that organs are donated while alive, I think it would be enough to put it in writing or designate a person to make the decisions in the event that it is materially impossible to assume that responsibility. This is how, when I arrived in Madrid in October of last year, I delivered a document to the public health service establishing health care and treatment in extreme situations. Thanks to the advice from the beginning of the Right to Die with Dignity Association (DMD) I have been able, with the unconditional support of my loved ones, to overcome all the bureaucratic steps required by a protectionist law. In that way, I started the legal process that has culminated in the approval of the provision of aid to die in my case, since, in accordance with the provisions of the Law, I meet all the requirements for serious, chronic and disabling illness. Until the end of the road I count on the assistance of Social Security professionals.

The purpose of this article is to stimulate the debate on euthanasia: my position is to support it as long as it is a voluntary choice

As if that were not enough, an MRI carried out at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital concluded that I actually suffer from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), an atypical and more aggressive Parkinson’s disease. That explains my accelerated lack of eye movement, which prevents me from reading and writing, in addition to the increasing limitations in expressing myself verbally. My daily life, in which reading, writing and oral expression have been my hallmarks, are erased from one day to the next. My body hasn’t been with me for a long time.

I have lived in a country, Spain, for 40 years, at the western end of Europe, of which it was said, unfairly, that the Spanish only understood at the crack of a whip. It was not true. Democracy and freedom are within the reach of any people who propose it. I have returned in the twilight of my life. Here I have turned 80 years old. The last of my existence thanks to the euthanasia law. Does one want a greater freedom than choosing the moment of departure?

I fulfill my wish to die in Madrid, the city that I love and in which I have shared so much with Linda, my beloved wife through good times and bad. I do so while still enjoying the ability to express my will to exercise my right to end my life in a free and dignified manner in accordance with my beliefs. I will not bother you anymore, dear reader. Adiós.


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.

Carlos Alberto Montaner, Tireless Fighter for Cuba’s Freedom

The writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner during a conference in 2018. (Sergio Santillán Díaz / YouTube / Captura2)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 28 May 2023 — The first time I learned about Carlos Alberto Montaner was thanks to an article of his entitled Henry Kissinger in Havana, a work that I liked very much and that established my future interest in a compatriot who, when no one was listening and even less wanted to see, assumed the commitment to attack Castroism, without considering the damage that such a decision could bring about.

The clipping was sent to me in Cuba in the mid-1970s or late 1970s by former political prisoner Héctor Caraballo, who had managed to escape the island on a raft. Héctor, based in Puerto Rico, established a relationship with Montaner as a result of the interest they both shared in Cuba.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that those were decades in which rare voices cried out in the desert of anti-Castroism. Not a few, including governments, underestimated the Cuban dictator who dizzyingly set up a gigantic apparatus with the help of the former Soviet Union to subdue all of America.

Montaner is among the pioneers who confronted the nascent totalitarianism in Cuba and abroad, an honorable credit that not many can show. His management has been successful, to the extreme, that, in a few years, he became a benchmark for learning about the reality of the Island that the Castros and their henchmen had taken over.

On the other hand, Carlos Alberto is among the first to denounce the danger that Castroism represented for the entire continent. His works in this regard were many and I am sure they were among the most widely read by politicians and intellectuals in the hemisphere, including in the United States, which greatly contributed to the mission of combating totalitarian subversion. His farewell letter leaves a void that is difficult to fill.

It is true that I have commented on more than one occasion that one of the sayings of the writer José Antonio Albertini is “ink also kills,” but there are writers like Montaner and Albertini himself who, with the ink they use, have saved and protected those who require aid. continue reading

We must never forget those who, with their talent and dedication, have defended freedom, as well as others, with plenty of courage, who have fought the Fidelista subversion with arms in their hands in different parts of the world, such as Félix Rodríguez and Rigoberto Acosta, among others, as well as the Makasis, Cubans who fought in Africa, both on land, in the air and even in the legendary Lake Tanganyika, the Guevarist and Víctor Dreke armies.

Nor should the many patriots who languished in prisons in Cuba, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela be overlooked for confronting, in their own way and with their convictions, the Island’s totalitarianism.

Castroism has never stopped repressing, and nor have dignified Cubans asked for quarter, among them Carlos Alberto, who through the media, his political activism and international appearances did not stop attacking the dictatorship that overshadowed his homeland, turning him into one one of enemies most hated by Castroism.

There was no lack of patriots to wage war against totalitarianism in all its forms, with or without the consent of the United States. Nor have compatriots been absent who, like Montaner, José Ignacio Rasco, Juan Clark, Eduardo García Moure and Humberto Medrano, just to mention a few, put their talent to the task of spreading the truth about Cuba, achieving, modestly, that willful blindness would give way to some light.

Not all of us will agree with the work that Montaner has accomplished throughout his intellectual tenure, but we do recognize that his work has been exemplary. While the Castros sank Cuba as a nation and a Republic, his life’s work has profoundly contributed to demonstrating the catastrophe that was taking place in our country.

Carlos Alberto Montaner has been, in my opinion, one of the most productive promoters of democracy in Cuba and the rest of the continent. His indisputable talent for debating and his ability to communicate his ideas made him a giant whose work we should all be proud of. He is a great man and as such he deserves our respect and a prominent place in our present and in national memory.


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.

Carlos Alberto Montaner: My Last Column

Carlos Alberto Montaner is retiring after a lifetime writing for the best newspapers in Latin America, Spain and the US. (Archive)

With great sadness and, at the same time, with the satisfaction of having been accompanied from the beginning by one of the most brilliant adversaries of the Castro regime, ’14ymedio’ publishes the “last column” by Carlos Alberto Montaner.

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 5 May 2023 — I’m retiring without a retirement. I’m retiring from “columnism”. For years, my column was distributed by my closest collaborator, Lucía Guerra. I turned 80 years old. I have Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). The name says it all.

It is a rare brain disease. I was diagnosed at the Gregorio Marañón hospital – one of the best in Spain – after an MRI. It affects three in 100,000 people. It is not contagious and it is not hereditary. There is no cure for it. They don’t know how it begins nor why. It is in the Parkinson’s family, but without tremors. Hence the confusion in the diagnosis. It is characterized by interfering with my ability to carry out a conversation and read anything beyond headlines (Linda, my wife, and our daughter, Gina read the newspapers to me), and so unable to write all of the “good” it allowed me to write for more than a half century – among other things – a syndicated weekly column.  I have written thousands of columns and I owe everything I accomplished afterward to my articles.

This PSP that now affects me is characterized (just like the other, the one of the Cuban communists) by “slowed or slurred” speech” which made me stop commenting on CNN en Español 

This PSP that now affects me is characterized (just like the other, the one of the Cuban communists) by “slowed or slurred speech” which made me stop commenting on CNN en Español (where I shared so much with Andrés Oppenheimer, Camilo Egaña and other notable journalists), despite the efforts of the chain’s president, Cynthia Hudson to retain me.  And on 20 radio stations, beginning with El Sol de la Mañana under the direction of the Dominican couple Espaillat, Montse y Antonio, followed by La Hora de la Verdad on RCN in Bogota a space led by Fernando Lodoño, even the very modest online station Orlando Gutiérrez directs toward Cuba, which has one of the most solid bulwarks in Julio Estornio. Furthermore, for years my comments reached Cuba through Radio Martí. Thank you for tolerating me in your ranks.

I saw Cuban journalist Carlos Castañeda arrive in Puerto Rico toward the end of the 60s with a job which, to me, seemed very difficult: elevate Ponce’s El Día to a level where it can compete with San Juan’s El Mundo. If I’d known Carlos’s plans with enough notice, I’d have stayed to fight that battle, but we already had our plane tickets to Spain. I’d been accepted at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid to complete a doctorate. My family and I embarked on a new European adventure. continue reading

It was the first half of 1970. Castañeda moved El Día to San Juan, changed its name to El Nuevo Día and made a tabloid with large headlines, ad hoc photos and large caricatures. Soon, it was the only one in its field. El Mundo closed.

Since that time before I settled in Madrid, I’ve held onto advice that was very important in my professional life: “In New York, find Joaquín Maurín, Castañeda told me. He is a Spanish exile. Tell him you want to write columns for his agency ALA (American Literary Agency). The best of the language are there, among others, Germán Arciniegas and Pablo Neruda.” I did. Maurín asked me for a sample. I gave him one. When I found it reproduced in 156 newspapers I swore to take care of my columns. And that is what I’ve done since then.

Joaquín Blaya called me in Madrid. He was Chilean, president of Univisión. Later of Telemundo. He asked me for one commentary a week and allowed me to choose the topic. It would be, of course, current events. Maurín’s promise was fulfilled. ALA would share my ideas and these would open doors for me in other areas such as TV, much better paid than the print media [NOTE: “prensa plana”?]. But Blaya proved to be an executive of the highest quality. At one point, they gave me one minute to explain the hypothesis of an anthropologist priest, a professor at a university in New York, on a program about welfare, designed mostly by men, and its impact on low-income women. Without a doubt, a controversial topic. Channel 41 in New York understood the political gains, or acted out of fear, under management orders. The truth is that Al Sharpton, Baptist minister, went to the channel to ask for my head, without hearing my commentary in Spanish, and Blaya defended me with complete firmness.

When The Miami Herald spawned an insert in Spanish they thought it would be a fleating phenomenon. But they later proved that the limits for Castilian were growing. Since the world of newspaper editors is small, everyone spoke of Carlos Castañeda with great respect and of his prowess in Puerto Rico. They called him, and El Nuevo Herald was born in the early 1980s. Appearing there were Roberto Suárez, Gustavo Pupo Mayo, Sam Verdeja, Armando González, Roberto Fabricio and the great Carlos Verdecia, former director of El Nuevo Herald.

At the end of my memoir,  ‘Sin ir más lejos’ [Without Going Further], I cite Julián Marías for his humble phrase. Today, I do so once again, “I did what I could”

I believe it was Pupo Mayo. He offered me the directorship of El Nuevo Herald. I did not accept it. I didn’t want to be uprooted from Spain. They offered me the head of the  Opinion page. I placed two conditions so they wouldn’t accept: I would only be present the first week of the month. The other three I’d be in Spain. (In the end, I started remote work, which became so popular during the pandemic). The second condition was that my adjuncts would be Araceli Perdomo, of whose integrity the editors spoke very highly, and Andrés Hernández Alenda, so as to not commit any errors or injustices. To the point that, later, after my resignation, Araceli and Andrés replaced me in that role. Throughout time, El Nuevo Herald has been my home.

I’ve had the opportunity to write for the best newspapers of Latin America, Spain and the U.S. Recently my weekly column appeared in El Libero, Chile’s best digital newspaper and El Independiente, an excellent digital newspaper produced by Casimiro García-Abadillo, Victoria Priego (two great veterans of Spanish journalism) and – in the international section – Ana Alonso. These two newspapers round out the field in the language in which I’ve had the privilege of fighting for freedom. At the end of my memoir, Sin ir más lejos [Without Going Further], published in Debate by Silvia Matute, also editor of Penguin-Random House, in Spanish, I cite philosopher Julián Marías for his humble phrase. Today, I do so once again, “I did what I could.”


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: An Open Letter to President Miguel Diaz-Canel

The writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner at a conference in 2018. (Sergio Santillán Díaz/YouTube/Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 29 April 2023 — I’ve aged in opposition to your regime. Before you were born, I was a premature anti-communist, totally intuitive, at 16 years of age. I was 15 years old when the revolution triumphed. Today, I am 80. You have no right to this continuity.  And I was anti-Batista, also, naturally. The “anti-Batista” was as a result of my parents. Manola and Ernesto were also. Arriving in exile on the afternoon of 9 September 1961, the change I observed in my father surprised me: it was a pro-Batista shift I attributed, without any basis, to his new wife: Lourdes Anaya-Murillo, the daughter of prominent Batista supporters.

Manola, continued to be anti-Batista. I was happy my mother continued feeling democracy in the same way I had learned: absolute tolerance to alien thought. I tell you this story so that you won’t believe the disinformation the regime disseminates in its publications about its adversaries. I have nothing to do with the CIA, nor terrorism, nor Batista, and there is not a shred of truth to the buzz “that Montaner helped train Yoani Sánchez on matters related to the internet” during one of her visits to Europe. Unlike Yoani, director of the magnificent and much-needed digital outlet 14ymedio, I have no interest in understanding how the internet functions. My knowledge of these matters is very limited. Those are excuses State Security makes to discredit those who propose initiatives on the margins of communism, such as the one in this letter.

Mr. Díaz-Canel, Marxism, as the substance of the communist system, has always failed, just as any leader who attempted it

Mr. Díaz-Canel, Marxism, as the substance of the communist system, has always failed, just as any leader who attempted it. Why? It has been implemented among the Germans and you’ve seen the results. It was tried among the Koreans and you’ve seen the consequences: on the same peninsula there is one portion, the north, which doesn’t even have electricity at night. And in the south, in turn, is the developed Korea which exports vehicles, televisions, and computers, and the population enjoys a standard of living similar to that of the first world.

What has not been achieved is equal results. Not everyone is powerful and rich in the most prosperous countries on the planet. There are, of course, many poor people in the world’s richest societies. But, what type of poor people find themselves immersed in those pockets of wealth? In the U.S. the poverty level for a family of four is an income less than $27,750, in addition to access to schools, hospitals, food stamps and justice. The welfare state is even more impressive in Nordic countries of Europe. Denmark will pay my granddaughter, Claudia, for her second Master’s degree. When she finishes she will begin life debt free. continue reading

This is all paid for by income generated from the salaries of workers and employer benefits. Confiscating large and medium enterprises was a grave error committed between June and December 1960 in Cuba. Charging taxes would have been sufficient. And confiscating small enterprises was a stupidity that occurred in 1968, when tens of thousands of businesses were taken by the State, during the “Revolutionary offensive,” some of them comprising only one person, such as taxis and certain barber shops and hair salons; much to its chagrin, Cuban society became the most communist on the planet.

Confiscating large and medium enterprises was a grave error committed between June and December 1960 in Cuba

I haven’t come this far to tell you what you already know. It is evident Marx was mistaken. That communism was based on the appropriation of the productive apparatus was a disaster. That our island is a tremendous catastrophe, with its cities and roads destroyed, as if it had suffered a bombardment from an unforgiving power. What you deserve to hear is “how to transform setbacks into gains” as I believe you like to say.

Recently, Rosa María Payá came to visit me in Madrid. She came to bring me a book. She is the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, who State Security murdered in 2012, along with Harold Cepero. This is what David E. Hoffman, who won the Pulitzer prize for historical research, has exposed through his research (Give Me Liberty, Simon & Schuster).

Today, Rosa María leads Cuba Decide and doesn’t flinch in her resolve to continue her father’s mission, when he headed the Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación [Christian Liberation Movement] and launched the Varela Project on the island. His objective was to hold a plebiscite through which Cubans could freely decide their destiny at the polls.   An objective his daughter continues to pursue to end, once and for all, the curse that is the continuity you sadly preside over.

My time has already passed. The time for Castroism has been exhausted. In reality, it was born to fail from the beginning. This moment is for youth like Rosa María Payá, within and outside the island, who  desperately search for what she summarizes as “defense of liberty, democracy and human rights.” Learn from them. You still can.

Translated by Silvia Suárez


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.

Cuban Catharsis in a ‘Jacuzzi’

In exile, there is no doubt, creative freedom exists. Last Tuesday, Yunior proved it by stirring up the Cuban catharsis in a jacuzzi. (Gabriel Guerra)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 15 April 2023 — We went to see Jacuzzi, a play which premiered in Cuba. Our group was not at all majestic. It was four people: Linda (my wife), Gina (our daughter, also a journalist) and Rogelio Quintana, an illustrator and painter, who escaped from Cuba and has lived in Spain for more than 40 years. The fourth, of course, was me.  It was a Tuesday night.  The Teatro Lara was bursting at the seams. The actors, Yunior García Aguilera, who wrote the work and plays himself, Claudia Álvarez, who plays Susi, and Yadier Fernández, who plays Pepe. All three of them were magnificent. They are prodigiously “naturals”. So much so that they were met with an ovation and had to return to the stage three times.

Yunior is an idealist who wants to be a friend to revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, because he cannot accept the premise that any child ‘per se’ is opposed to the values of friendship and decency.  

It wasn’t a jacuzzi at all – just a simple bathtub or, as Cubans say, a “bañadera”, full of water and soap suds. Susi has worked abroad and saved enough money, which allowed her to buy a house in Cuba, “jacuzzi” included. (There is no doubt that Raúl has been better than Fidel in this regard, or at least less stupid.) Susi has returned triumphant from her blessed jobs. She  complains about the Revolution in concrete terms: how expensive “everything” is, and especially, that it is impossible to work to improve your quality of life, “except for daddy’s children”, who have everything going for them.

Pepe is the revolutionary, the child and grandchild of those who have defended the “process”, and accuses all the “gusanos” [‘worms’] of acting against them, but admits that the situation is exasperating as it inevitably deteriorates. Yunior is an idealist who wants to be a friend to revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, because he cannot accept the premise that any child ‘per se’ is opposed to the values of friendship and decency. He wants to be a free person and choose his friends beyond the narrowness imposed by the Revolution. However, it is Pepe who requests and constantly says, “let’s not talk about politics anymore.” It is a declaration imposed by the Revolution and that he allows without question.

There are two high points in Jacuzzi. One when Yunior tells Pepe that, despite the hogwash he must listen to when he defends the Revolution and the gratitude people are supposed to feel when they speak of the apparent “achievements”, Pepe is still his “best” friend. The chatter Pepe has learned by heart doesn’t matter. There is always and will always be a place in Yunior’s heart to admire his friend. continue reading

The second high point is when 40-year-old Yunior creates Archipiélago in Havana, along with Diana Prieto, his wife – a monologue apparently written outside of Cuba – and develops a strategy to get Cubans to demonstrate as if Cuba were a free country. It is not. The regime went to their modest home and organized an “act of repudiation”, in which their neighbors did not want to participate because to their neighbors they seemed like a couple of decent, hard-working, young people. And it is not to the point that he ended up exiled in Spain, betrayed by the very people who seemed to help him, accused of being a “CIA agent”, and plotting something unspeakable with Felipe González.

Welcome to the exclusive club of the “CIA agents”.  I hope that after so much trash talk  from the Castrist regime it has completely lost its effectiveness.

Welcome to the exclusive club of the “CIA agents”.  I hope that after so much trash talk  from the Castrist regime it has completely lost its effectiveness. Cuba is the only country in the world that gave the order in writing, in the 70s, before the Archipiélago generation had even been born, of breaking relationships with the Revolution’s “disaffected”. And the only society that dared to comply. Husbands and wives who never again heard from their spouses and partners. Children who never heard from their parents and vice versa. Brothers and friends who pretended not to see their relatives so they wouldn’t be associated with them.

At the height of machismo, the secret service spied between the legs of women of the higher ups to surprise them during their comings and goings and demand that they spy on their husbands or divorce them. The slogan was clear, “Never had a revolutionary leader been cheated on.”

I hope that Yunior García Aguilera realizes that the only favor State Security did for him was to expel him from the jail and the Island of Cuba. A dilemma presented itself to the regime: kill or exile Yunior García. It opted for the latter, but not before or simultaneously creating an atmosphere of suspicion. In exile, there is no doubt, creative freedom exists. Last Tuesday, Yunior proved it by stirring up the Cuban catharsis in a jacuzzi.

Translated by Silvia Suárez


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.

When the Motherland is Really a Mother

Madrid has offered Spanish nationality to political prisoners released by the Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 18 February 2023 — There is a rhetorical way of referring to Spain: “The Motherland.” But sometimes that fits reality and is said without hypocrisy. Especially, when it involves some sacrifice and a certain price has been paid. The socialist government of Spain, contradicting its minority partners in the coalition with Podemos, the communists, has offered citizenship to 222 Nicaraguan opponents. The comrades are going nuts.

That’s very good. The offer was made by José Manuel Albares, the Spanish chancellor, and there are 222 European Union passports. If the satrapy formed by Ortega and Murillo, president and vice president, (and also a married couple), planned to leave those who dared to do politics in Nicaragua without nationality, they were meticulously wrong. The Spanish passport opens the door to 27 nations. In addition, they can fly to many places without having a visa.

The Venezuelans are settled in the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid, a place that doesn’t know trouble judging by the high price per square foot. There are, more or less, 400,000 that have settled in the Kingdom of Spain. There are hundreds of entrepreneurs who benefit from franchises or who create them. Thousands more work as clerks in the stores that serve Venezuelans.

If the flood of Dominicans, Ecuadorians and Peruvians who arrived earlier — there are one and a half million Hispanic Americans living in Spain — was characterized by poverty, with some exceptions, these Venezuelans, the rich and the poor, have skills and modernity in common. Cubans, another substantial source of emigrants, always saw Spanish destiny as a step towards their integration into the United States, which has always made things easy for Cubans.

Spain is correcting numerous mistakes. Passports have been offered to the descendants of the Sephardim (not the English who expelled the Jews in 1209, or the French in 1306). On such a significant date as 1492, from the kingdoms in which they had lived for hundreds of years, they were expelled from Castile and Aragon. A century earlier, in 1391, the popular pogroms occurred in which they killed numerous Jews and burned the Jewish quarters. continue reading

It was the classic case of shooting oneself in the foot. Suddenly, the investments dried up and the counselors to the kings of Castile and Aragon by such a distinguished community disappeared, almost in their entirety. It is uncertain how many Jews were affected by the expulsion decrees (there were two edicts), but from March 31 to July 31, 1492, apparently about 100,000 people were expelled, and they had to sell their properties at great discounts during that period. The Catholic Monarchs, while teaching Spanish to the New World, a magnificent gift that unified several hundred pre-Columbian languages and dialects, inadvertently created, with the expulsion of the Sephardim, a very special commercial network in the eastern Mediterranean.

In truth, during the Franco regime, the exiled Cuban students who came to Spain, to finish their careers interrupted by communism, were taken in. But Franco died at the end of 1975, and the exiled Cubans had the same fears as the Spaniards: that all the passions repressed since 1939 would be unleashed. Not in vain, Cuba had been strongly linked to Spain until 1898 and was the last of the American colonies that was emancipated. However, what happened was exemplary and unexpected: a surprising peaceful transition to democracy and freedoms. Certain Cubans, on and off the Island, took note. It was totally possible to break with communism without the experiment crumbling in their hands. In any case, they would have to wait until communism imploded, something that happened between 1989 and 1991.

After the news that the Caudillo had died, events began to accumulate. In 1976, Adolfo Suárez was already head of government, and the Cuban opposition depended, on the Island, on the Spanish diplomat Jorge Orueta, and outside, on Carlos Robles Piquer and his brother-in-law, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, and on his willingness to present a story, El radarista [The Radar Operator] by Commander Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Hispanic-Cuban, a social democrat and one of the most important leaders of the Revolution.  Eloy had to wait in the harshest of prisons, where he was severely tortured, until Governor Felipe González released him.

Felipe González, who crossed Moncloa with the opposition to Castroism and, at the same time, called Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and asked him to listen to the opposition — for which Fidel never forgave him — was replaced by José María Aznar after exemplary elections. One of Aznar’s first diplomatic successes was to achieve a common diplomatic position on the Cuban issue within the European Union. The proposal of the “Common Position” was essentially written by Miguel Ángel Cortés in 1996, a deputy and senator for Valladolid within the Popular Party.

Aznar’s two mandates were characterized by a very clear policy against Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. This did not prevent Fidel from calling him on the phone to beg him to intercede for Chávez’s life during the coup in April 2002, which he did. What was not subject to any change was the Common Position, which remained inalterable. Guillermo Gortazar, historian and deputy of Alianza Popular, at the head of the Hispano-Cuban Foundation and the collection of Revista Hispano-Cubana, admirably curated by Grace Piney Roche, gives a good account of this.

The Common Position was supported by the 15 nations that were then part of the EU (today there are 27). It remained until it was not possible to sustain it within the socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. In June 2008, just three months after the elections that had given him a second term, Spain changed its vote. But he could not avoid the contempt of Havana for his insistence on the release from prison of the dissident Raúl Rivero (2005) and his wife Blanca Reyes, a legendary lady for having walked, Sunday after Sunday, with the Damas de Blanco [Ladies in White]. Rodríguez Zapatero defended himself against these accusations on the grounds that he had not granted citizenship to Rivero.

That was before, in the time of Zapatero. Now it’s the turn of the Nicaraguans and Sánchez. With a stroke of the pen, 222 people have been granted citizenship. That’s what a mother does. She comforts and encourages her children not to shrink from adversity.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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.

How to Enthrone Democracy and the Market in Cuba in Just 365 Days

How long the regime lasts will depend on the ability of the opposition to exert pressure, and on the willingness of the thousands of reformists who still exist in the government to change. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 12 February 2023 — In Cuba there will be elections in March for the National Assembly of the People’s Power (ANPP). These are potentially the most important elections the system provides. Ricardo Alarcón, former President of Parliament, realized this and Raúl Castro dismissed him and did not allow him to run again. “You don’t play with power” is the motto of the Castro brothers, and Alarcón was going for power head first.

They will run, and will be elected with 99% of the votes, Raúl Castro, Miguel Díaz-Canel, Manuel Marrero, Elián González, and the current president of the ANPP, Esteban El Gori Lazo, as Fidel himself used to call him to humiliate him for being black and heavy-set. This caused him much laughter, which the extraordinary poet Raúl Rivero heard directly, before he confronted the regime of “the dead and flowers” (Silvio Rodríguez said in Ojalá, a song written by the troubadour to hurt the dictator, although disguised as loving care).

Up to 605 “fathers and mothers of the homeland” will be elected on that day. My advice, requested by no one, is to enjoy the occasion. It may be the last. The July 11, 2021 date is not only a precedent, it is a path. That day, thousands of people yelled “freedom” and sang Patria y Vida*, which immediately became the second anthem of Cuba. More than a thousand of them have been accused before tribunals and are serving unjust sentences.

The number of recently arrived exiles in the last year is more than 300,000 people. There are plenty of children and family members of generals, ministers and former ministers, of delegates and former delegates. That includes only the U.S. because in that country they collect and preserve data better than most of the world.

More than two decades ago, I received dissident Gustavo Arcos Bergnes (GAB) the name of an active general who commanded troops. A short time later, he told me he could be trusted to initiate a transition in Cuba. GAB was Fidel’s party colleague, an attacker of the Moncada barracks, where he was shot in the spine and was almost paralyzed. After the triumph of the Revolution he was the Cuban ambassador to Belgium.

GAB was a serious man. So much so, that he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criticizing his former boss. Once in jail, and later out of jail, he met with Ricardo Bofill, with Martha Frayde, with his brother Sebastián Arcos Bergnes, a mid-level leader of the Revolution, and with his son, also named Sebastián, to place the opposition under the cloak of human rights and prevent another bloody revolutionary cycle. Later came Elizardo Sánchez and Juan Manuel Cao, not even 20 years old, whose verses were “taken” as if they were bombs, very witty verses against the Commandant. Today he is renowned novelist and Channel 41 reporter.

At that time I believed the regime did not have much time left, but Fidel pulled Hugo Chavez from his sleeve, and as he had previously with Lula da Silva, and as he supported the Sao Paolo Forum, he was able to weather the storm by renting out professionals. Fidel and Hugo Chavez no longer exist, and the Sao Paolo Forum is under the constant scrutiny of the Brazilian army, thus, the Cuban communist dictatorship’s death sentence has been issued. It died of starvation and incompetence. continue reading

Definitely, it died of what communist regime’s usually die of –t he inability to produce sufficient quantities of goods and services. Much less than what are achieved in an open economy subject to the market and the existence of private property, although at the expense of the attempted equality of results. However, how long it lasts, be it months or years, will depend on the capacity of the opposition to exert pressure, and the will, of the thousands of reformists that exist in the government, to change. We all must listen to them attentively.

In 1990, liberal soviet economists put in motion a plan to transform the USSR in 500 days; Cuba only needs 365 days. The plan promised to revive in that timeframe the subordination of all to the market and, still within the rules of Marxism, it was believed that society would, on its own, discover political freedom. Ultimately, they achieved neither economic nor political freedom. That all ended, despite having the approval of Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1990 Grigory Yavlinsky, president of the Yabloko or “Apple” party, and Stanislav Shatalin, bet all the prestige of their doctoral degrees in economics that the formula would work in the USSR, but as soon as Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov tenaciously opposed it, their plan was destroyed. I do not believe that will happen in Cuba. If a clear consensus exists, within and outside power, it is that there is no human way to revive Cuban communism. Which is why, in the last year, 300,000 people have left to all parts of the planet, and among them many members of the nomenklatura and their descendants.

What has been learned about the transitions is that they all have a high level of improvisation and singularity. Anyway, it has been useful to gather the ideas put in place in other countries and other systems:

    • Restore hope. Yavlinski and Shatalin’s “unborn” plan serves to frame the reforms within a timeframe. In one year “things” will begin to improve. To a society which has been deceived countless times by crazy plans that don’t work, this is referred to as restoring hope.
    • U.S., always the U.S. Little Cuba can become a place where it is possible to do business with her. At the end of the day, it will only be with 11 million people. A free trade agreement will be necessary. One of the reforms that should be made is the dollarization of the economy. The Island’s biggest resource is having as a neighbor, only 90 miles away, 325 million people including the richest and most creative on the planet.
    • Between 20% and 30% of the Cuban Americans have roots on the Island. That is a source of extraordinary richness on both shores for potential business.
    • For the first time, the U.S. has someone with whom they can speak outside of its territory. Cuban American members of congress should appear on this list of priviledged people. Four or five formermembers of congress as well.

What I mean is that it is not worth making a detailed plan. It is only necessary to create the conditions for it to work and let the imagination do the rest. We continue to wait for someone who can initiate the transition in Cuba. I don’t believe that general who commanded troops who Gustavo Arcos Bergnes spoke of is still alive.

*Translator’s Note: Patria y Vida was the 2021 Latin Grammy Song of the Year; the title translates to “Homeland and Life”–a play on the Cuban government’s old slogan of “Homeland or Death”. 

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.