THE HOMELAND BELONGS TO US ALL – Cuban Dissidence Task Group 1997 – Historic Document


Cuban Dissidence Task Group
Havana City, June 27, 1997



Original in Spanish here

Authors: Felix Antonio Bonne Carcasses, Rene Gomez Manzano, Vladimiro Roca Antunez, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello

Translated for CubaNet by Jose J. Valdes


When you finish reading this document, you will be able to support us if we can agree on this initial assertion:

Man cannot live from history, which is the same as living from stories. There is a need for material goods and for satisfying his spirituality, as well as to be able to look to the future with expectations. But there is also a need for that openness that we all know as freedom.

The Cuban government ignores the word “opposition.” Those of us who do not share its political stance, or who just simply don’t support it, are considered enemies and any number of other scornful designations that it chooses to proclaim. Thus, they have also sought to give a new meaning to the word “Homeland” that is distortedly linked to Revolution, Socialism and Nation. They attempt to ignore the fact that “Homeland,” by definition, is the country in which one is born.

All of this aside, our Task Group has examined the Project Document prepared for the V Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, scheduled to be submitted for approval during this event. Because it is impossible for us to make public our viewpoints here [in Cuba] (given that the [Cuban] news media is in the hands of the state), we have decided to set them down in the hope that they will somehow be made known to Cubans inside and outside the island. By this mean we seek to defend our right to express our opinion, because we are convinced that THE HOMELAND BELONGS TO US ALL.


Of the 11,080 words that the document contains, grouped into 260 paragraphs, more than 80% are dedicated to interpreting history. They wish to convince those that read the document that:

    • There has been only one revolution [in Cuba] since 1868; and
    • The U.S. has tried to seize Cuba ever since the 19th century.

To try to strengthen these assertions, they invoke the name of [the father of Cuban independence, Jose] Marti.

Thereby they persist in the old and absurd argument that the existence of a single political party is based on Marti’s ideas, as only one party was founded by him. There is no known political leader that has created various continue reading

political parties simultaneously. Nevertheless, many distinguished freedom fighters in their respective countries, once independence was achieved, have respected the multi-party system of government. Washington, Mahatma Ghandi and General DeGaulle were among them.

There is no reason to think that Marti, had he survived the War of Independence, would not have done the same given his very positive views on democracy. Point V of the Tenets of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (1892) states: “It is not the goal of the Cuban Revolutionary Party to bring to Cuba a victorious group that will consider the island as its prey and dominion. It is, instead, to prepare, by as many efficacious means as freedom in exile permits, the war which is to be fought for the honor and welfare of all Cubans, and to deliver to the whole country a free homeland.”

Following the war, no patriot argued for the need to have a single party. On the contrary, many actively participated in politics with different affiliations and all respected the multi-party system.

Even though they wish to portray the democratic republic as a series of interrupted failures and treasons, they have to contend with the socioeconomic achievements obtained between 1902 and 1958 which placed our country among the three most advanced nations of Latin America. In some areas, in fact, Cuba was ahead of even major Old World countries such as Spain and Italy. This undeniable reality speaks volumes for the industriousness of Cuban workers and the enterprising spirit of our businessmen— especially as all these true accomplishments took place following a major cataclysm (our glorious War of Independence) and in spite of the terrible socioeconomic crisis of the 1930s. In addition, there are the political successes, such as the revocation of the infamous Platt Amendment in 1934 which the political propaganda does not mention, though its imposition in 1901 is well-remembered.

This twisting of information is also present in the document. If the pre-1959 statistics are consulted, it can be seen that the illiteracy rate among the Cuban population at the time amounted to 16% and not 40% as proclaimed. The statistics are also manipulated when it is stated that 7% of the population voted in the elections at the turn of the century. This implies that the remaining 93% included non-voting women (51%), children, and the great number of foreigners that lived here, as is to be expected in a country that had recently ceased to be a colony.

Regarding the application of due process in the trials held for members of the Batista regime, Castroites have their own interpretation. But it must not be forgotten that—as the document recognizes—those principally implicated fled the country on January 1st, on which date the mass executions commenced. Those that were shot by the firing squads were arrested, accused, judged and executed in less than 24 hours. The rise to power of the current government was sealed by a vicious settling of accounts. The so-called “revolutionary trials” bore no relation whatsoever to due process nor to a true right to a defense. A notorious example was the trial of the pilots sentenced after having been absolved, an event which led to the suicide of Captain Felix Pena.

Every year, by an ever-growing number of votes, the General Assembly of the United Nations demands that the so-called [U.S.] “blockade” be ended. This statement is true, but what goes unsaid is that, with the same frequency, the Cuban government is sanctioned for its systematic violations of human rights.

The October [1962] “[Missile] Crisis” is mentioned, while omitting the fact that the Cuban leadership urged Moscow to deliver the first strike without waiting for the “Yankees” to take the initiative. This is acknowledged by history. A nuclear attack against the United States would have meant a terrible catastrophe for all humanity, but, undoubtedly, Cuba would have been swept from the map. That solution to the crisis was offered by the same party members that are now worried—according to them—that their departure from power would mean the disappearance of Cuba as a nation.

But can we forget the autocratic way in which nuclear weapons and foreign troops were brought into the country? The people learned of the matter only after the problem arose.

As the document well states: “Everything began to change on July 26, 1953.” We should not fail to mention that—in effect—on that date, for the first time in many years, much Cuban blood was spilled. Up to that time, the deaths in the political struggle which occurred under the Batista government could be counted on the fingers of one hand. To find in Cuban history as mournful and fratricidal a day as this, we would have to go back to decades long past. Despite its being such a sad day, it has been made into a holiday and celebrated as such. This, we suppose, meets with the disapproval of even the fallen martyr’s own relatives.

These are but a few examples of the way in which the Communists have sought to INTERPRET HISTORY.


The party insists on unity but forgets that, for that unity to be valid and real (and not a mere parody), it is necessary for a consensus freely reached by the citizenry to emerge. The opposite would amount to a brutish imposition that would be a unity in name only. We the members of the opposition are here to show that in our country there is no consensus.

The text asserts that: “Only the unity of revolutionaries can lead to the unity of the people.” This argument, just like every other perspective on this matter, suffers from what is known in logic as “circular reasoning,” whereby that which is sought to be demonstrated is taken as a starting premise.

The party, declaring itself the representative of the people, prepared the document that warns the citizenry to participate in the meetings to support it. The people, subjected to the pressures of totalitarian power, attend [these meetings], and the fact is portrayed to the world as a plebiscite on Cuban society. This is declared the most evident and irrefutable proof that the party represents all of the people. It is precisely the same premise that was used as a starting point. Although there is talk of plebiscite, the people have felt what it is like to be trampled upon. A latent popular will still exists, just as when General Arnaldo Ochoa and his comrades were sentenced to execution by firing squad. Even though the vast majority did not agree with this sentence, it was officially declared as necessary and the opinions of the masses ignored.

If, as its leaders assert, the citizenry in general supports the Communist Party, there is no reason not to hold internationally-supervised, free elections, which would serve to silence all the detractors of the system.

In the name of unity, the Fist Party Congress considered it legitimate to bestow upon itself constituent powers and approve the final version of the 1976 Magna Carta. This includes Article 5, which proclaims the [Cuban Communist] Party as “a guiding force superior to society and the state.”

We are aware that there are historical precedents for this concept of unity. The Cuban Communist Party, in imposing a single party system, places itself in the unenviable company of Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Trujillo, Pol Pot and Sadam Hussein, among others.

Having called the ranks to order on the matter of unity, the party saw it fit to declare that “the Cuban people have decided to have a single party.” But, in the name of unity, under the concept of shared-guilt for mistakes, we have seen many things that have left their mark on history for having contributed to create chaos and instability in the country. It will suffice to cite a few examples:

  • The attempt to drain the Cienaga de Zapata wetlands;
  • The creation of an “agricultural belt” around Havana;
  • The collectivization of agriculture;
  • The genetic alteration of livestock, in particular of cattle;
  • The authoring of a plan for food rationing and the mass production of “micro jet” bananas;
  • The dismantling of the sugar industry and the attempts to alter cane varieties;
  • The imposition of ideas that entail disastrous investments, such as the Paso Seco Dam, which is a monument to that which should not be undertaken.

Likewise, in the name of unity, a sugar mill was given as a gift to Nicaragua, an airport was built in Granada and, under the mantle of so-called “Proletarian Internationalism,” troops were sent off to kill and die in different countries. To be sure, this was something that was never done under what they call the “subjugated republic,” whose various governments refused to send troops to fight in either of the two world wars or the Korean war. This despite the fact that the “Yankee imperialists” did so. In this, our northern neighbor truly set itself apart from the Soviet Union, which—not practicing what it preached—enabled and financed the sending of Cuban troops to a whole series of countries.

The document, by the way, makes only a passing reference to these “missions” so as to avoid having to explain just what was achieved through that useless effort. Its only significance for the [Cuban] people was the breakup of families, mourning, pain and exotic diseases, among other things. Angola and Ethiopia—to cite only two such countries—exacted a high death toll among our fellow Cubans. At present, over in those strange lands, Angola seeks a national solution with the participation of UNITA and the genocidal general Mengistu Haile-Marian, decorated here in Cuba with the Order of Jose Marti, fled ignominiously from Ethiopia. In addition, when it was considered convenient, unity was invoked to welcome our exiled brothers as representatives of the “Cuban community overseas.” This after families had been keep apart and their mail hindered to avoid any kind of affectionate exchanges.

Because of what it represented for the tattered finances of the country, party members were told that they could welcome into their homes those same people that had been reviled as “traitors” and “worms;” those that had had to endure the egg-throwing and blows of the renowned “popular dignity demonstrations.” The latter subsequently gave rise to the Rapid Response Brigades and the detestable “acts of repudiation.”

In the name of unity, the “captive villages” were created, religious people were persecuted, and churches were practically left without priests. The document points out that: “The Congress approved the admission into the party of revolutionaries with religious beliefs.” This implies that they take pride in a decision that bridles the shame of more than 30 years of persecuting those who profess religious ideas. If we look back, all of this came about, in good measure, due to opportunistic motives, as some members had turned religious just to be let go from the party.

The unity to which the party refers is not about ideas, but about the aim that the people rally around the party leadership.

For the rest, we cannot accept that a government which has dedicated itself to dividing the country can speak IN THE NAME OF UNITY.


The philosophy of the government is not to serve the people but to be their dictator. It is not its main objective to guarantee the citizenry a quality of life which has a minimum of decorum. Power, exercised through totalitarian control, is the end that is being pursued with this political ploy. No longer is anyone fooled by the much-touted call to social justice. The wage rates combined with the stagnation of other economic factors makes the situation of the populace more difficult each day. And the more they deteriorate, the more the economic activities are politicized and militarized.

Something which is truly deserving of a triple-X rating in the meaning assigned to what is termed the Socialist Civil Society. The document’s authors wish to ignore the fact that a civil society is made up of elements outside the control of the state and therefor cannot be socialist or, what amounts to the same thing, “sovietist.”


In a paragraph detailing some of the accomplishments of the government, the following statement appears: “Our country became covered with highways and roads, as well as with waterworks for productive uses. Milking machinery and aerial spraying, previously unknown technologies in rural communities, were put in place.”

However, reality confronts us with the fact that there are no means of transportation on the highways and roads, and that there is insufficient water available to supply the major cities. In particular, there are heavily populated neighborhoods in the city of Havana where there are serious shortages of the precious liquid, and whole provinces—Santiago de Cuba being the prime example—are experiencing irrigation problems.

The cattle population has declined. In 1955 it reached a per capita level of 0.82 heads per inhabitant. Forty years later it was 0.38. The milk that was distributed in the 1980s originated from trade with the former German Democratic Republic. As there are practically no cows left to milk, the automated milking machinery has turned into scrap heaps from lack of care and maintenance. In the long term, far from serving to increase agricultural food production, all of the methods that were indiscriminately and inefficiently introduced have only hindered its development. The old methods at least yielded reliable results and allowed the needs of the population to be met.

Further on, the document asserts that more than three million hectares were handed over to the Basic Units for Cooperative Production (BUCP). The pretense here was to make it seem that this was an innovative production method which would pull agriculture out of its presently critical situation. However, more than three years have passed since their establishment and no results can be seen. The government itself, through its official spokespersons, has declared that only 7% of the BUCPs are even marginally cost-effective. To this we can add that more than 60% of the state organizations have been recently deemed unreliable. It has also been recognized that the sugar mills are not grinding cane in a cost-effective manner but that, as cane production cannot be curtailed, nothing can be done about it.

Allusions are made, in speaking of the changes and the things accomplished up to the time of the Special [Economic] Period, to how the food production program could have been successfully developed. This implies that at present this program is no longer viable. But no alternative is presented; not even the slightest suggestion that could put an end to the severe rationing that has lasted now 35 years—a world record.

After considering the ensuing paragraphs, one may also conclude that there is also no plan for solving the country’s economic and social crisis. For Cuba to partake in the global economy without renouncing its totalitarian ways, the challenge is more than difficult. The stagnation that has characterized the Cuban government’s policies continue to increase its alienation from financial institutions, the assistance of multinational consortiums such as the European Union, and even from the possibility of entering into any bilateral agreements. The foreign financing situation is dismal and it is not possible to continue to pay short-term loans with interest rates of 17 or 18%. However, loans that offer at least low initial rates are difficult to obtain.

What does the Communist Party offer the people? “We will have only that which we are capable of creating,” it tells them. More than a promise, it seems a mournful threat about the proverbial inefficiency of the production system and about the usual limitations which it imposes on the citizenry. The list of problems is enormous. Nevertheless, only material problems are addressed and no mention is made of the spiritual needs of our people, much less about the lack of all sorts of freedoms. For the party, the concrete tasks ahead are clear, but it does not identify for the populace the solutions to the problems, the timetables involved, or the differing view points. It is as if, suddenly, the future were synthesized into that one slogan. Faced with our harsh reality, there is only room for the patriotic and revolutionary code-of-conduct of working more and better.

That past that is portrayed as something so brilliant should not have given rise to the present crisis, as all of those accomplishments and conquests have been touted about since the 1960s. Accepting what the communists allege, it can only mean that they have given nothing to the people in the last 30 years. It is a case, then, of a regime anchored in the past and which lives in the past—and quite a remote past at that.


When on January 28th the U.S. government published its Plan in Support of a Transition [in Cuba], there was no alternative response by the Cuban government regarding the responsibilities identified in the plan to support a transition process. The document issued by the Communist Party is not such an alternative because it offers nothing concrete to the Cuban people. The following matters are still without explanation:

  • the way in which the catastrophic economic situation will be solved;
  • a solution for the ideological vacuum that the current political crisis has created, one result of which has been the use of foreign flags by young people in their attire;
  • what is going to be done to maintain at least the levels of service once attained in public health, education and social security, so as not to increase the painful situation of the population;
  • what the Cuban government will agree to do in order to solve international disagreements and to try to adopt global economic standards;
  • the measures it will take to eliminate the embargo; the means to be used to recover those parts of the Cuban territory occupied by foreign military bases: Guantanamo [Bay], Lourdes and Cienfuegos;
  • ways in which to address the growing number of people that express their opposition to the official political position and to stop the treatment of Cuban citizens as third class people in their own country.

It is no secret that Cuba had the worst performance in the region during the five-year period between ’91 and ’95, and that even though it is said that an economic recovery occurred in 1996, the populace never experienced it. Upon the termination of Soviet-block aid, the inefficiency of the system increased and foreign commerce diminished.

There is no doubt that the socioeconomic policies need to be reformed and redesigned so as to achieve better results. The use of the society and the economy to exert controls has to cease.

Cuba needs a recovery based on high rates of sustainable growth to bring itself back into the realm of intense international competition and dynamic technological change. What the party has set forth is not this. It is merely an attempt to maintain the status quo of obsolete totalitarianism; to entrap us in social and economic backwardness amidst a dynamic and competitive world.

No one wishes a return to the negative aspects of the 1950s, as the government argues. The realities of the world have change and those of our country too. The transition toward democracy that we wish to achieve is based on the fundamental principles of the 1940 Constitution, which establishes social rights that have nothing to do with the influx of neo-liberalism. The current situation whereby foreign companies hire their workers through a state intermediary could be termed neo-totalitarian. Through such an arrangement, the state exploits the workers without even offering them stable employment.

The document does not offer the possibility of establishing a true constitutional state, nor an independent and impartial legal system that would protect the liberties and rights of the individual and the practice of political pluralism.

The government, given its current position, has no chance of stabilizing the economy quickly and without a recession, and this is a necessary pre-condition to effectively achieve an economic recovery and consolidation.


The document states that economic liberalization is linked to the creation of joint-ventures and other forms of business arrangements with foreign companies. But this has not been enough, and is far less than what is needed. What is needed is a process of true economic liberalization, which would entail the democratization of the country. The Cuban community overseas—amounting to a million and a half people—could undoubtedly contribute to a sustained economic recovery. Currently, in fact, the financial assistance that [the exiles] send to their relatives on the island accounts for a substantial portion of the country’s import-purchasing power. This is demonstrated by the fact that the government has gone so far as to as to impose taxes on the receipt of this money.

The Cubans on the island have demonstrated what they are capable of accomplishing if given even a small degree of economic freedom. The self-employed—whom the system has tried to drown because of what they represent from a political perspective—manage to turn any small business they undertake into models of efficiency. In this regard, the Revolution stimulates the creativity of the masses in all fields of endeavor. Innumerable innovations have been introduced to production and service activities. If there is a true desire to stimulate the creativity of the masses in all areas, then they must be allowed to enter the economic arena. Cubans must be allowed to invest, just as foreigners are allowed to. Moreover, to be consistent, this type of stimulus should be extended to the political realm.

It is said that the party demands each and everyone of its members to think with his own head and to express himself freely within the bosom of the party organizations. This means that there are 770,000 persons in the country who are allowed to think and speak freely, while the rest of the population—the ones without a party; the ones that constitute the majority—have no opportunity to express themselves freely. They too need breathing space.

You may find this a curious assertion: “Our electoral system is above political games, fraud, and the buying-selling of votes.” And is this not what is to be expected? It would, after all, be truly mind-boggling for the party to engage in and condone vices to benefit candidates that already follow the party line. It is also stated that: “The party does not nominate, reelect or impeach.” Clearly, it has no need to do so. The entire leadership of the mass organizations belongs to the party. It is enough that these leaders participate in the whole-scale nomination process of the so-called “Candidacy Commissions.” Despite all this, people are compelled to go vote. For something truly novel, they should allow the opposition to form part of the electoral process itself; to be able to rally its own parties, nominate its own candidates and engage in political campaigning—all under the supervision of international observers.

The document does speak of a constitutional state. However, not one of the traits that would characterize as such is discernible. There is no respect for the law, as demonstrated by Decree 217, which violates provisions of the Constitution and the General Housing Law. There is also the case of the systematic disregard of the Law Governing Associations, under which different independent organizations should—as they have repeatedly requested— be made legal.

The state is not at the service of the citizens. Between them there is not even an egalitarian relationship of reciprocal rights and obligations. Instead, the citizen is at the service of the state.

The laws do not respect the rights inherent upon human beings, as demonstrated by innumerable denunciations of the violations of these rights as well as repeated sanctions against Cuba in the United Nations over this issue.

The government should resolve problems such as the matter of the right of Cubans to freely enter and leave the national territory and allowing the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, and his team, into the country. It must also be noted that there is no legal protection in the country, as it has been shown that the laws, and even the Constitution, can be modified overnight. Thus, if other ideologies besides that advocated by the Communist Party were recognized, a Constituent Assembly should be convened with the main goal of modifying the existing constitution. The Constitution of 1940 could be used as a basis for the revisions, with the subsequent aim of holding multi-party elections.

Measures such as this are what the Communist Party should propose to try to avoid a spontaneous outbreak in the near future of incidents of social violence.

It is impossible to continue leading the nation to its ruin without expecting an uncontrolled awakening of the populace in search of a rightful space within a civil society with democratic institutions. That which no one desires could well occur, and thus it is better to discuss solutions now than to plunge our homeland into mourning tomorrow.

Havana City, June 27, 1997

Felix Antonio Bonne Carcasses
Rene Gomez Manzano
Vladimiro Roca Antunez
Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello

Document distributed by Ruth Montaner of the Cuban Dissidence Task Group.

Translated for CubaNet by Jose J. Valdes

Spanish version here

Bernie Sanders, Cuba and Super Tuesday

In recent days, the issue of Cuba has broken into the United States presidential campaign with unusual force. (Livenewsnow)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, René Gómez Manzano, Havana, 29 February 2020 — In recent days, the issue of Cuba has burst with unusual force (and not entirely deserved) into the US presidential campaign. Especially among the many leaders of the Democratic Party who are struggling to win the nomination in opposition to the Government of Donald Trump.

The trigger for that issue — which does not have to have a primary importance in that political debate but which has acquired such relevance — were statements made by the septagenarian Senator Bernie Sanders — a self-proclaimed “socialist” — who, for now, is leading in the polls for the nomination of the “blue” party.

In an interview with an important national television network, the Senator from the state of Vermont ratified his previous statements, favorably assessing certain facets of Fidel Castro’s performance. Specifically, he spoke about the literacy campaign carried out by the late Cuban dictator and declared it a positive. continue reading

These statements admit several objections. The first is the that formulated correctly by the blogger Yoani Sánchez: Is it possible to applaud that hundreds of thousands of citizens are taught to read and, at the same time, to ignore that the Castro regime, for those same literates and millions of other Cubans, for ideological reasons, prohibits access to books that this regime considers “undesirable”?

But we can also ask ourselves: is it permissible to point out a positive aspect of the public performance of a dictator while silencing the essentially negative balance of his Government? To give an example: can we find it good — say — that someone praises Adolph Hitler for having built the highways or having significantly reduced unemployment?

If it were a colloquium of specialists talking about the construction of public roads or a convention dedicated to employment policies, perhaps it could be tolerated that the performance of the Nazi leader in these areas be cited, without entering into an analysis — or even a mention  of other facets of the dire acts of that macabre character.

But it is inadmissible for a politician to act in the same way. Whoever devotes himself to the public trust is obliged, by virtue of his own profession, to take into account all the implications that anything he does or says may have on the different sectors of the electorate.

Should we assume then that Mr. Sanders is a public man with little aptitude? The he praised Fidel Castro out of ignorance? That is not the case. He, with the remarkable support he has managed to gain among the sectors of the extreme left of his party, has demonstrated his extraordinary political ability.

The problem is that Mr. Bernie has no empathy in courting those extremist groups of Democrats. It is a human conglomerate whose little hearts, after sixty years of an anti-democratic regime and economic involution in Cuba, and despite the arrival at the American coast of a couple of million fugitives from Castroism, continues to beat in unison with the ringleaders in Havana.

This should not surprise us, because in the sect of the “socialists” the many sins committed by those who uphold these doctrines are easily forgiven. And regardless of whether the measures taken by their governments have produced tens of millions of deaths (as in the cases of “little father” Stalin and “great helmsman” Mao), or “only” millions, as in the case of Kim of North Korea, Pol Pot or Mengistu … aren’t they all co-religionists! Then it’s about simple venial sins!

In the case of the American leftists with respect to Castro, the matter is complicated a little, due to the extreme anti-Yankeeism maintained by the man. It is an orientation not only demonstrated by decades of political decisions, but also confessed in the well-known letter that, before his rise to power, the founder of the Cuban dynasty addressed to his confidant Celia Sánchez, telling her, “When this war ends, a much longer and greater war will begin for me: the war I am going to wage against [the Americans].  I realize that is going to be my true destiny.”

But all these are minor inconveniences for the Vermont senator. This, in order to win the sympathies of the extremists of his party, does no less to seek to make an enemy of the Cuban exiles (most of whom are citizens of the United States and vote in that country). I suppose Mr. Sanders made a very simple calculation: You are not going to vote for me anyway!

In the meantime, I believe that President Trump and his friends have every reason in the world to pray that the ineffable Bernie continues to win party primaries and caucuses and that he ultimately achieves the Democratic nomination. Everything seems to indicate that, in such a case, the current tenant of the White House would continue to live there for another four years.

As altogether different thing is what the traditional sectors of the blue party think, dreaming that their nominee will be a more moderate leader, capable of obtaining, in the presidential election of November, the support of the political center.

We will have to see how the voting turns out next Tuesday, when the voters of numerous states, including some as important as California and Texas, will pronounce themselves.  It’s not for nothing that it is called “Super Tuesday.”


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Cuba and Venezuela: And God Created Them… / Cubanet, René Gómez Manzano

Venezulean President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro

cubanet square logoCubanet, René Gómez Manzano, Havana, 5 Abril 2017 — In recent days, the absence of a true rule of law has become evident in the two countries of “Socialism of the 21st Century,” an absence that reached the highest levels of arbitrariness and injustice: Cuba and Venezuela. In the second of these the iniquity took place at the highest level, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

The brand new Chavista magistrates ruled: “As long as the contempt and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persist, this Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the body that it designates.” In short, the court replaced the parliament with itself. continue reading

And in passing, the High Court also withdrew immunity from the country’s parliamentary deputies. It was a coup d’etat pure and simple; only not one undertaken by the military or the congressional branch, but by the judicial. Of course, it didn’t happen on the judges’ own initiatve, but because Maduro ordered it, because it is already known that the supposed independence of that power is now a fiction in the homeland of the “Liberator,” Simon Bolivar.

The voices of protest did not hold back: in Venezuela, National Assembly President Julio Borges called the shameful ruling “trash” and ripped it up in front of the television cameras. The protests of students and others who disagree began. At the international level, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States was convened, and Peru withdrew its ambassador from Caracas. Even complacent the mediators Torrijos, Fernandez and Rodríguez Zapatero rejected the gross maneuver.

But not only democracy supporters weighed in. A character as little suspected of being anti-Chavez as the Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega (yes, the same person labeled the “Eternal Commander” as “the most humanist man that has ever existed on the planet” and totally supported the unjust imprisonment of Leopoldo López) described what happened in his country as a “rupture of the constitutional order.”

Urgently convened, the Venezuelan Defense Council called on the Supreme Court to “review” the statements that left Parliament without functions. The obedient magistrates, in a fulminating manner, applied “what I meant to say was…”

In Cuba, on the other hand, recent illegality had a lower level, in both directions of the word. Lady in White Lismerys Quintana Ávila, also urgently, was subjected to a spurious trial and sentenced to six months in prison — the maximum allowed penalty — by a docile Municipal Court.

As a precedent for this injustice, we must remember the new trick that the political police use against these admirable women: At the outset, they impose a fine for a misdemeanor that does not exist. After the refusal to pay the illegally imposed penalty, the defendant (in this case, Lismerys) is taken to a Municipal Court to be tried.

Now the offense charged is “breach of obligations arising from the commission of misdemeanor,” and is provided for in article 170 of the current Penal Code.Under this provision, “anyone who fails to comply with the obligations arising from a resolution that has exhausted its legal process, issued by a competent authority or official, relating to contraventions” may be punished.

According to the final sentence of that rule, “if before the sentence is pronounced, the accused meets the obligations derived from that resolution, the proceedings will be archived.” The purpose of this, obviously, was not to establish a mechanism to send one more person to prison, but to dissuade her from not paying the imposed pecuniary penalty.

But it is already known that, in Cuba, “whoever made the law, set the trap.” In the case of someone who disagrees and says so, any misrepresentation of the correct sense of the rules is valid for the Castro regime’s authorities. What real chance to pay the fine had Lismerys or her loved ones if she were detained and the latter did not know what her situation was?

We know that the repressor who “cared for her” (who calls himself “Luisito”, but whose real name is known (unusual in itself) — Ariel Arnau Grillette) was truthful in the text messages with which he harassed this Cuban mother. We know what they said thanks to the inventiveness of the brave fighter Angel Moya Acosta: “the desicion to send you to prision is in my hands,” he wrote. A phrase in which we do not know what to admire more: his creative spelling or the confidence with which he says what everyone knows, but usually shuts up about …

However, what is decisive in this case is not what the murky State Security intended, but the submission of a court to the design of that repressive body. This is how the “organs of justice” of Cuba and Venezuela, once again, have become brothers in ignominy.

 Translated by Jim

A View From Cuba: The Carnivorous Left And Obama’s Visit To Argentina / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano

The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, received President Barack Obama Wednesday in the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (EFE)
The president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, received President Barack Obama Wednesday in the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, Rene Gomez Manzano, 25 March 2016 – After his historic visit to Cuba, United States President Barack Obama traveled to Buenos Aires for an official visit with his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macro. It would be hard to imagine two scenarios more dissimilar than those encountered by the American president on the Caribbean island and in the Rio de la Plata country.

In Cuba, regardless of the efforts now made by both sides to normalize relations that have been poisoned for half a century, deep differences remain between the veteran Castro government, totalitarian by vocation, and the United States, world champion of democracy and free enterprise. Nevertheless, during the visit the parties addressed these differences in a very diplomatic way. continue reading

In Argentina, however, Obama was meeting with a leader newly installed in power, who shares the same basic ideas and has begun his term with his sleeves rolled up, doing everything he can to bring order to the country’s economy and government so that the country can emerge from the difficulties created by the previous governments.

An example of this is the massive layoffs. Former President Kirchner and her allies are raising the roof, crying foul about the layoffs of workers. Those who know the reality know that the bulk of those dismissed are featherbedders: individuals whose principal (if not only) task is to show up every month to collect their wages.

As for the current visit, it is true that there is a certain asymmetry: the American president has less than a year left in the White House, while the time Macri has been in the presidential palace in Buenos Aires is less than that. But this difference does not appear important in a relationship that, according to all indications, they aim to further strengthen in the long term.

During Obama’s stay in the Argentina capital a chorus from the radical left arose, both in the country he was visiting and in the rest of Latin America, virulently critical of the trip and of the United States president.

A leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo described his visit as “a provocation and an absurdity.” In the heat of sectarianism, the ladies even to reached a consensus to attend the tribute where, it was announced, Obama would pay homage to the tens of thousands of victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship. That is, to the children, grandchildren, sons- and daughters-in-law of the bellicose elderly.

Kirchner’s allies also joined in this attitude of rejection and condemnation, it couldn’t have been otherwise given the Chavez-style propaganda ministry that goes by the name Telesur (a multi-government sponsored television network), whose star commentator, Walter Martinez, praised to excess a journalist’s question to Obama about military regimes in the seventies. Not content with that, Martinez bitterly criticized the skillful response by the American president.

One would have to be blind not to see the double standards applied by all the apologists of socialism. In Cuba it seemed very correct “not to mention the rope in the house of the hanged man.” But in Argentina they considered it a betrayal that the illustrious visitor preferred to focus on the future, instead of dedicating himself to clarifying the past.

Particularly since, even if the American governments of the time were not openly hostile to the Argentine coup leaders, the determining factor for the human rights violations that were perpetrated was the will of Argentina’s own gorillas. And this will (although it does not justify the atrocities perpetrated) was a response to the subversion unleashed by those following in the path of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, eager to rise to power through blood and fire.

These carnivorous leftists don’t seem to see the glaring contradiction: On the one hand, they claim that Latin America is now truly free for the first time (thanks to them, as they claim). But on the other hand, they do not hesitate to virulently criticize the visit of the head of the world’s superpower, undertaken on an equal footing with one of these now free countries.

Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba / 14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano

Homepage of “Neighborhood Journalism.” Headline: Why do Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba today?
Homepage of “Neighborhood Journalism.” Headline: Why do Neighborhood Journalism in Cuba today?

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Rene Gomez Manzano, Havana, 24 October 2015 — Thanks to the US Embassy in Havana, which provides press briefings with national and international news to us Cubans who navigate in their internet rooms, last Monday, October 19, I learned about a new information organ. Periodismo de Barrio (Neighborhood Journalism) is the name by which the colleagues engaged in it identify themselves.

The presentation of the new digital media starts with an appealing paragraph: “Journalism is an implicit promise of change. Presenting yourself as a journalist is almost like preaching in favor of hope. When you ask someone to tell you their story, it is not just asking them to confide in you, but also to believe that sharing their story can help to change something.”

According to its statement of principles, “Neighborhood Journalism is born with the objective of bringing to the public the stories of neighborhoods affected by natural disasters, or particularly vulnerable to phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, landslides or others caused by man.” continue reading

A summary of the United States press fills more than 34 pages of the first issue. In addition, there are reports – of good quality including some that are excellent, although perhaps one might consider them late – dedicated to floods suffered by different Havana neighborhoods six months ago, during the torrential rains of last April 29.

It should be clarified that the colleagues of the new media have shown a special interest in not projecting themselves as against the established government in our country. In the presentation, for example, it is bluntly stated, “We do not accept donations from any institution that seeks – or has sought – the subversion of the Cuban political system.”

Are these journalists outside the system, but who do not want to stand out as being so? “Chemically pure” informers who do not want to identify themselves with any party agenda? Agents of a new pro-government initiative to make it seem that in Cuba the press acts freely? The broad access that Neighborhood Journalism enjoys to the Castro regime’s organs and officials could suggest the latter.

But the answers to these questions do not seem to have great importance. The purpose of truthfully reflecting the realities that confront our compatriots in the face of natural disasters deserve everyone’s applause. And it is fair to say that the compañeros of Neighborhood Journalism, to achieve this purpose, have displayed objectivity and professional skill. They do not follow the easy path of limiting themselves to proclaiming “the Revolution does not abandon its children.”

The series of reports begins with a piece by Geisy Guia Delis devoted to the work of the members of the National Search and Rescue Detachment, belonging to the Fire Department. It does not lavish laudatory adjectives or trite words on them: it focuses on the facts, such as – and this is just one example – the outstanding performance of a disabled rescuer, something that is perhaps exclusively Cuban.

From the expository point of view, it might have been preferable to start the delivery of Neighborhood Journalism with another of the reports. But we should not belittle different aspects of importance. Among them, the understandable aspiration to play it safe, leading off with a laudatory work which, regardless of the humanitarian effort undertaken, is about an arm of the Ministry of the Interior, an emblematic force of the system. One more way not to alienate the powers-that-be.

The second article is a report from San Felipe by Monica Baro: probably the best of the issue. It is amazed that the dispossessed of this capital neighborhood continue to suffer the calamities described in the report, trembling with anxiety whenever the sky clouds over and threatens rain with the consequent promise of certain flooding. And this more than half a century after the proclamation of the “Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble”…

The colleagues of Neighborhood Journalism elude political allusions like the one I just offered, but it is not necessary to make them. They describe the reality and this, in its turbidity, is more eloquent than any adjective or declarations. We await their upcoming issues.

Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case / Rene Gomez Manzano

Fidel Castro, “a lawyer without any cases”

The awarding of the National Law Prize to Fidel Castro—who abolished the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts,” did away with procedural guarantees, and outlawed unfettered advocacy—is a mockery of justice.

I acknowledge that when I read that item my first thought was: “But hadn’t he already been given that?” We know that in these totalitarian regimes dominated by Marxism-Leninism, the bosses, by virtue of being that, are destined for all the distinctions, recognitions, and awards that have been or might be given. That the alumnus Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz had not been previously considered when this Prize was first granted probably cost some bureaucrat in the judicial sector a good scolding.

Now that it is an accomplished fact we should ask: What objective reasons exist for granting it? Was it based on the person’s performance before or after coming to power? The dilemma warrants that we briefly address these issues in order to give a response.

The professional practice of the older Castro after graduating as a lawyer was practically nil. In this he is no different from other figures who have gotten into history carrying a law degree. Internationally: Robespierre, Karl Marx, Lenin. In Cuba: Agramonte, Céspedes, Martí. These are just a few examples.

Fidel and his logorrhea

Of course I’m not making value judgments, simply naming people who, for better or worse, have earned a place in history. “Lawyer” is the title that is generally used to describe those figures. Although the appellation is not false, it is not really accurate nor illuminating. To more accurately describe what is common in these characters, we have to use a slightly longer phrase: “Lawyers without cases.” continue reading

This last characteristic is what distinguishes these beings. Unlike their colleagues, their activity is not devoted to drafting legal documents, outlining legal theories, or obtaining the acquittal of an accused. No; in the universities they were outfitted with the same tools, but they use them, if at all, to achieve more ambitious and broader political or social objectives. If they represent a clientele, it is political and not professional.

In the case of Fidel Castro, the grantors argue that the Prize is granted “to mark the 60th anniversary of his self-proclaimed defense ’History will absolve me.’” According to Granma, the obliging colleagues of the association of legal officials described this document as “a seamless legal piece . . . that has transcended the boundaries of space and time.”

We know that if anything has characterized the honoree, it is his overwhelming verbosity (rightly documented in The Guinness Book of Records). But the tens of thousands of pages containing his discourses, such as History Will Absolve Me, cannot be found anywhere else; they are not quoted in history books or cited alongside philosophers of past centuries. Haven’t the obsequious jurists noticed? Can’t they draw any conclusions from this?

José Ramón Machado Ventura received the National Law Prize on behalf of Fidel

In his plea, Castro criticized the mechanism (reminiscent of the classic tale of the chicken and the egg) established in the Constitutional Laws of the Batista regime: The President of the Republic appointed the ministers, and these in turn elected him. The curious thing is that after the climb to power of the revolutionary team in 1959, the Basic Law established exactly the same vicious mechanism.

A detailed description of the illegal acts perpetrated by the recipient during the scores of years of his absolute rule would require a collection of books. He did away with the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts” composed of guerrilla fighters lacking legal education, eliminated procedural guarantees, outlawed the unfettered practice of law, and converted the prosecution into a body guided by political criteria. In a word, he dismantled the solid Cuban legal system.

If the bureaucrats of the Union of Cuban Jurists consider that the perpetrator of such acts deserves the National Law Prize, they are saying very clearly what they really think about this award, which they both created and bestowed.

Cubanet, March 6, 2014  /  René Gómez Manzano

Translated by Tomás A.

I Defend My Lawyer / Rene Gomez Manzano

The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by X.
The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by Jorge Ignacio Pérez

Havana, Cuba, February 2014 – Last week disturbing news circulated throughout the Cuban dissident community: The top permanent body of the National Organization of Collective Law Firms (ONBC) suspended Amelia Rodríguez Cala—the great defender of accused opponents of the regime—from practicing law for a period of six months.

As the days passed, additional details about the clumsy maneuver surfaced. It became clear that, although they invoked other reasons, what is at the heart of this new hoax is the aim of punishing this learned woman because of her upright stand in the exercise of her profession.

As usual, other pretexts are deployed. They initiated disciplinary proceedings against Amelia based on alleged complaints from two clients. At this point, it is reasonable to suspect that at least one of them is a provocateur in the service of the regime. In any case, a cursory examination of the two complaints demonstrates the weakness of the allegations.

In the case of Caridad Chacón Feraudy, it is claimed that the attorney did not submit her evidence in time. Never mind that a technical assistant breached her obligation of notifying and informing the lawyer about the matter. Nor that Amelia ultimately won the case, as the evidence was presented to better purpose, and accepted and used by the Court. continue reading

For her part, Regla Capote Alayo claims that there was no notification to the firm to report the judgment in her case. In this regard, the same lawyer exhibits the documents showing she met with that woman no less than ten times, without the woman giving her the courtesy of bringing this up.

Anyone examining the matter impartially would conclude that Dr. Rodríguez Cala should be exonerated. But the outcome was otherwise, and to ask for objectivity from the ONBC leaders is like expecting mangoes from a pine tree. What has now been decided against Amelia is just the latest link in a long chain of constant acts of harassment against her.

We know of the constant harassment that the leaders of the Carlos III Collective Law Firm have maintained against the jurist. In this, the unit director, Ileana Sandoval Roldán, and the team leader Franklyn Menéndez Tamayo, have distinguished themselves.

They have made her life impossible. In haphazard fashion they constantly question her about supposed deficiencies in her work. This has been repeated in the presence of several different clients, who can attest to the despotic and abusive way that the leaders of that law firm treat the attorney. This is no accident.

Rodríguez Cala has defended over a hundred dissidents. At the time she was excluded from her professional practice, she was representing almost all the independent personalities who are today involved in court cases: Berta Soler, Martha Beatriz Roque, Sonia Garro, Ramón Muñoz, Ángel Santiesteban, Marcelino Abreu Bonora, Reinier Mulet, Miguel Ulloa Guinart Angel Yunier Remon, Gorki Águila.

This reality is what arouses the hatred and ferocity of the mediocre, for whom the barrister’s robe is nothing more than another kind of uniform. In their lawlessness, the repressors from the collective law firms have even exceeded their powers. Decree-Law 81, which regulates the practice of law, empowers them to apply to a member of the organization, among other sanctions, that of “transfer to another position of inferior category or, after proper coordination, to another unit nearby.”

The disjunctive conjunction indicates that they can choose between the two penalties: either give you a lower position, or transfer you to another firm (implying, to work there as a lawyer). In this case, in violation of the law, both measures were applied. As for “nearby,” you only have to realize that they sent her to the distant town of La Lisa.

This week, the attorney plans to fulfill her unjust sanction. In her new position she will earn 300 Cuban pesos per month, just over $12. They want to silence her voice, but her honesty and pure love for the profession place her far above all these dirty tricks. Will she be able to work in La Lisa without difficulties, or should we expect more provocations and acts of harassment against her?

We’re waiting on the outcome of her situation. Also that of the political prisoners, whose defense, it seems, the regime wants now to be assumed by the docile lawyers that these same “leaders” of the firm have chosen. As for Amelia, I’ll keep myself informed, not only because she is a colleague who has worn the robe with dignity, but also—and now on a more personal level—because she was my advocate during my second political imprisonment.

Cubanet, 25 February 2014,

Translated by Tomás A. and José S.

Impossible Zone of Peace / Rene Gomez Manzano

Repression of a political dissident in Cuba. Source: EFE

HAVANA, Cuba – In the last several hours the Castro propaganda campaign has come to a climax on the occasion of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which will be held in Havana between today and tomorrow. Of course this focus is justified if we consider the swaddling this event implies for the totalitarian regime in Havana.

Meanwhile, the independent press informs us about the intense reservation exercised by the Castro government against all of society. Even beggars and pimps have been affected by the delirium of the conclave. Many of them are warned that, during the great event, they should abstain from exercising their ancient craft.

On a slightly more serious note, it should be remembered that several documents have been agreed to within the CELAC framework. In one of them, dating from just a year ago, it reiterates that this Community is based on, among other things, “the protection and promotion of all human rights, the rule of law at the national and international level and democracy.” Can anyone believe these beautiful words are compatible with the regime imposed in Cuba by the Castro brothers?

Of course not. But the totalitarians usually get by with ease. We have the experience of the clauses about freedoms and pluralism adopted years ago by the Ibero-American Summit in Viña del Mar. With to what was agreed to there, the Havana authorities commented: The documents signed by Cuba we interpret according to our own conception of democracy. And problem solved!

The fact of the matter lies in that the governments of our cultural environment, who for the most part respect Human Rights internally, don’t allow among their members a regime that systematically violates them like that of Havana, but they even selected it to preside and host its meetings, as is happening now with the CELAC Summit in Havana. Its fig leaf is the supposed “uniqueness of Cuba.”

In the interim, Cuban authorities do a disservice to those democratic states. We hope the world press and the internal press of those countries report on the fierce repression unleashed in the Great Antille; in this case, the respective governments confront certain difficulties. Serves them right! For having tried to patronize the only totalitarian regime in the West.

At the same time, in the context of the Summit, Castro spokespeople have recalled the words spoken by General-President Raul Castro in South Africa: “Dialog and cooperation are the way to solve differences and the civilized coexistence of those who think differently.” Events show that this is proclaimed (and applied) in relations between states, not between the totalitarian regime and its subjects.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, told the newspaper Granma a supposed new important aspect of the Havana Summit: “We believe that another contribution is the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. This is a proposal that we hope will be adopted during the 2nd Summit by its 33 member countries.”

That’s the way it is! And I thought that CELAC had already solved this in the Declaration of Santiago, agreed on in Chile a year ago! Its Point 14 establishes: “We commit that the climate of peace that prevails in Latin America and the Caribbean be strengthened throughout our region and consolidated in a Zone of Peace, and which differences among nations are resolved in a peaceful way through dialog and negotiation or other forms of solution, and fully consistent with International Law.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at a press conference, affirmed that in Cuban there is no need to hold a summit of the peoples, as is generally held in other latitudes on similar occasions. For him this is because, according to what he said, the delegations meeting in Havana represent the governments as well as the masses.

The minister didn’t say what principles of Bolshevik alchemy apply now to make this happen. Surprisingly, such a thing doesn’t happen when these meetings are held in other sites, where, in the opinion of the radical left, it is necessary that in parallel to the official meetings, there is a Summit of the peoples.

Cubanet, 28 January 2014, René Gómez Manzano

Academic Exchange on Law and Human Rights in Cuba / Estado de Sats

With the independent Cuban attorneys Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), René Gómez Manzano (Agramontista Current), Antonio G. Rodiles (Mathematical Physicist) and students from the New York University Law School.

This video is 44 minutes long. There is a live interpreter translating the session into English in real time.

22 January 2013