The Cardinal of Disgrace / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

I have no words to describe the recent statements made by his Eminence Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana Jaime Lucas Ortega Alamino during his stay last week in the United States of America.

Those who have followed each of the press releases that mention in one way or another the statements of the highest Cuban authority within the Catholic Church, have noticed that despite the fact that he has spoken in a deliberate tone, the language used by the Cuban cardinal places at disadvantage the credibility of the good function of the Catholic hierarchy in the island. He has repeated in his discourse the same phrases used by the ruling class.

All of us who follow the evolution of the Catholic Church in Cuba, have denounced on many  occasions the so badly called relationship between Church and State, and the complicity of the Church with the silence of the true existing situation in the island related to the lack of a state of rights and also the lack of places for free religious worship.

Maybe for many people the last two visits of the Popes to the island are more than enough, if we would add some minutes on domestic television, or the last tour of the pilgrimage of the Virgin, to show the world the false freedom of worship in Cuba.

Today’s comment does not attempt to criticize the role of the Church in Cuba, but it tries to put in its right place he who uses the Catholic Church for his own benefit and in defense of those who are sinking the nation into an increasing poverty.

Today I want to use this article or comment as a pulpit, and from it denounce the words of someone who does not deserve to wear the purple color used by martyrs of the Christian faith. The last words spoken by Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, on April 24th during his mediation at the Church and Community Forum sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center of Latin American Studies of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As many have judged, his speech was similar to one of the many speeches dictated by the office of the Department of Ideology of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

We would have to ask such a Cuban Cardinal, “How could he have access to the police records of each person who occupied the Caridad Church in Havana?” We would also ask, “How could he obtain the information that such acts of civil disobedience were organized from Miami?” I understand this time, like many other times, that the Cardinal spoke more than he should, and now he has to withstand all the critics coming from different latitudes.

I never imagined to hear, from the lips of the highest pastor of the Cuban Church, so much malice for those who try to promote full respect to the basic freedom of each man. To call those who serve unfair sentences under the most terrible conditions not described by people like him “common delinquents,” at some international meeting, makes him an accomplice of a corrupt and inert government.

We would have to ask Jaime, “How would he feel if we call him delinquent because of the fact he was sentenced to compulsory work during the years of UMAP* together with many other priests and religious people who practiced faith?”

I am a true catholic, I love the faith of the church, I love my motherland and the freedom experienced in the abandonment of each of our vicissitudes on the shoulders of Jesus who deserves to be called The Greatest Man of All Times. But every time I face situations like the ones today, by means of which the judgment of the world is focused on the behavior of the Catholic hierarchy on the island,  I see myself with the obligation to ask that the whole Cuban clergy not be judged for the behavior of him whom I dare to name the Cardinal Puppet of Castros Brothers.

It is my wish that there be a new awakening of the Christian faith in a Cuba free from stereotypes and obsolete dogma which place next to the ruling class those who have to walk next to the poorest people. It is my wish that the body of the Cuban church receives a transfusion of young blood with a new zest for life and who will promote a new nation where  true patriotic and Christian values are practiced.

For today I say goodbye to someone who does not deserve to be called Cardinal and even less Cuban, people like him should be sentenced to forgetfulness or, it would be better to say, to be sentenced to carry the weight of the disgraceful history that only he using his high position has invented, only God knows, and his terrestrial accomplices for in exchange for benefits.

Translated by: AnonyGy

*Note: UMAP = Military Units in Aid of Production, a series of concentration camps for religious believers, homosexuals, and others who ran afoul of the Castro regime. Cardinal Ortega was interned in a UMAP camp when he was younger.

April 30 2012























































































Humiliating, Brutal and Cruel Treatment / Laritza Diversent

Laura Álvarez Rojas, a Cuban woman resident in South Africa, in less than nine months lost two of her loved ones. Her brother, Alberto Álvarez Rojas, a resident in the island, died last March 13th, in a car accident in that country.

“When I had not yet recovered from the pain of losing my mother, I found myself unprotected and enormously depressed at the death of my brother”, wrote Alvarez Rojas in a letter to some of her friends. She decided to take the remains to her motherland and share such a painful loss with her relatives in Cuba.

She went through all the bureaucratic requirements demanded by the Immigration and Foreign Department to go to the island. She had her passport extended, also had legalized her brother’s death certificate and paid all the consular tariffs. Last March 23rd, she left the African continent with the flight KL 0592 and landed in Cuba the ext day at 6.00 pm.

She was surprised when an immigration officer told her at the window, that she was not allowed into the country and did not know the reasons. In a separate office she asked them to check her name. In the year 2011 she visited Cuba twice without any trouble. She did not come to have holidays. Her mother was suffering from a terminal liver cancer. “You can not come in and that is all, your embassy in South Africa is the one responsible to explain the reasons”, answered the officer.

The officer tried to find out why the entry was denied. “Did you pay your tariffs at the immigration office in Cuba?”, she asked. “Yes, I did”, answered Laura. “Did you fight with anyone?”, she asked again. “Never, neither before nor later”, she rejected. “Did you visit some places?”, she continued asking. “My visits were to the hospital to transfuse my mother, to immigration and to the airport”, she refuted.

In a bag she had Alberto’s remains. “To the persons whose entrance to Cuba is denied, the luggage is not allowed”, added the immigration officer. “Ask the embassy to send the remains of your brother using diplomatic mail, she woman advised.

Desperate, she phoned her husband, a doctor who deserted and who had been working for approximately 10 years in South Africa, her sister who was waiting for her outside and the consul of her embassy. “Turn off the phone, you can not communicate with anyone else”, the officer advised to her. The woman “became furious and took my phone”, added Alvarez Rojas.

Laura insisted in bringing in her brother’s remains. “They saw me like a crazy one talking to all officers, I was locked in an office and some body took me by the neck, breaking my rosary”, she stated.

In spite of the mistreatment and physical aggressions, she insisted on her purpose. “I kneeled and begged to give the remains of my brother to my sister who was waiting outside, I could be returned, I did not care”, she insisted to another officer who was watching her in the office.

Laura did not make it. She was seated in the flight KL 02724 the same day, in the same airplane she had arrived. The pilot was told she was an illegal person for being delinquent in Cuba. The man was furious when the young lady showed her papers in order, the ashes of her brother’s and the death certificate of the embassy.

The pilot complained. It was not the first time it happened. “I was returned without a pre-ticket so that once in Holland I had to pay my ticket to South Africa again”, argued Alvarez Rojas. He refused to board her without the ticket and warned he would report Cuba through his airline, for the frequent abuse to its citizens.

The crew tried hard to assist her. “They made me feel like a person since the treatment received in my country was that of an animal”, she continues. “I was not carrying a dead dog, I was carrying a part of my Heart”, said Laura in a desperate attempt to find comprehension and solidarity for what had happened to her.

“They did not let me cry my pain for my loved ones, neither did they give me the right to hold my sister who was crying desperately on the other side and I was forced to come back here with the remains of my brother, unprotected heart, broken hope, and the biggest disappointment in my life”, she ended.

Laura insists on an explanation at the Cuban embassy in South Africa, although she knows there is no reason for what has no explanation. However, she is wrong when she says no one can understand what she feels. Cuban authorities treat many of its citizens like this. No doubt it is a cruel treatment, brutal and humiliating.

Translated by AnonyGY

April 25 2012

Open Letter to The Cuban Dictator Raul Castro / Jorge Luis García Pérez Antunez

Mr. Dictator Raul Castro

From Placetas, in the center of Cuba, Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez and his wife Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera are writing to you, a married couple openly opposed to your tyrant and totalitarian regime. On this occasion we want to send you a responsible summons motivated by the cruel, unfair, arbitrary blockade to which we and our homes are subjected by your cowardly repressive forces every day and night for the last months, with the clear purpose to hinder and impede our movements.

Mr. Dictator, general without battles with the only achievement of being able to sustain the Castro regime after your brother, based on murders like those of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto García, Laura Inés Pollan Toledo, Wilman Villar Mendoza; and to launch a daily cruelty against your own people, also know the writers herein are neither afraid nor will permit your aggressive and demoralizing repressive political organizations to keep us in an arbitrary and constant house arrest, by means of which we are not only arrested when we go to opposition activities, but also our daily life is hindered like visiting a friend, attending a funeral and the worst is when we want to go to a hospital to receive medical assistance due to our aggravated sufferings due to the physical deterioration and attrition of so much repression.

Mr. Dictator to you, promoter of so many crimes, executions, off-the-record murders, evictions of unprotected families, firings of our workers, we are not scared and we summon you in public to bring to an end to this rude and arbitrary violation of our rights, of freedom of movement within our own country, and have the courage to order your servants and compliant courts and military figureheads to take us to prison, because we assure you, Mr. Dictator, that from now on you will have to arrest us almost every single day because our home is not a prison and we have much more courage and principles than those hungry colleagues of yours located day by day on the corners of our home to stop our steps.

Mr. Tyrant in chief, responsible for the murder of our Brothers to Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate), of more than twenty unprotected children and women maliciously sunk in that ship 13 of March (Embarcacion 13 de Marzo), to You tyrant whose crimes are only compared to those of the Germany of the Nazis or the Russia of Stalin, we summon you to know that here in this city of Placetas, there is a black couple in the opposition with a lot more self-respect and strength than those subordinates of yours who uselessly by means of beatings, arrests, cells of confinement and all kinds of attacks, think you will make us desist from our purpose. We will not renounce our Motherland if that is what you are looking for with such unmeasurable persecution, harassment and constant acts of imprisonment.

Raul Castro we understand you and your frightening repressive teams before the terror and concern caused by a group of women called Movimiento Femenino Rosa Parks (Rosa Parks Women’s Movement), who had the courage last 1st of March to go to the municipal headquarters of the dishonorable and parasitic ruling party that you represent, to claim in a loud voice, freedom and justice for their people. I can imagine how a regime must be feeling in order to send its elite troops to repress these peaceful and unprotected women who, different from your troops, have the courage to go out to the streets to protest.

Raul Castro I understand what it means and represents to your government to have on the streets a man who after 17 years of uninterrupted political prison has not submitted and despite his many possibilities to leave, has decided to stay in Cuba struggling against the tyranny you represent. Mr. Dictator I understand that neither you not your ghastly and unburied brother who represents hatred, violence, opposition and depravity itself, you don’t know what consequence means and never believe in the appearance of the National Front of Civic Resistance Orlando Zapata Tamayo (Frente Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Orlando Zapata Tamayo), guided by young men and women, simple and mainly all born under your so badly called Revolution, to whom your instruction did not succeed, and that this Front grows and multiplies along the country with demonstrations and actions never thought before which have stimulated the struggle there in that scenery that hurts you so much, the streets. You can not accuse us of being Batistianos, bourgeois, yet we have not known another society than this one, neither of mercenaries, nor paid because of the way and conditions in which we proudly live, and which ruins your stupid campaign that attempts to show the contrary.

Raul Castro, your repressive teams never imagined that slogans like “We are all resistance” or “The streets belong to the people” would make the tyranny kneel, and that the effort to divide the domestic and exile resistance would fail. The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, worthless dictator, knows it is one of your biggest and worst nightmares and that the Cuban people in this island, far away from your tendentious round tables or programs of official instruction, they look for the truth in Radio Marti and Radio Republica. That’s the reason why you so much attack them.

That’s why I am here, worthless dictator, to summon you to stop the prohibition on my wife Yris and me being able to walk freely in our own country, or find the courage to arrest us, yet with pleasure I would return to the group of political prisoners. My political and patriotic personal experience that is most important and where I was never dissuaded, and another thing assassin dictator I think you can not do, because I reassure once again that he who writes, Jorge Luis García Pérez Antunez, I WON’T SHUT UP, I’M NOT LEAVING.

Translated by AnonyGY (Edited by site manager)

April 12 2012

It Will Change / Mario Barroso

The city that looks toward the heavens, that looks toward the sea, at the infinite / asking itself from within what our destiny will be

A neighbor from Taguayabón, scandalized with the growing brutality of the system, peculiar to dictatorships in decline, and sincerely worried about me, begged me with all her heart after my arrest last October 19th, that I stop talking and start acting in accordance with the prophetic role to which I have no doubt been called by God before the beast that is Cuban Castroism. To compensate, I told myself, use music. Although she didn’t attend our church, she was referring to the chants she heard with such frequency coming from there, which I so often amplify in order for the many pedestrians to hear them, as well as to the concerts we offer from the vestibule, filling the streets with people alive with faith and feeling, but with high doses of fear about crossing through the doors of a place where we preach, in the words of Bonhoeffer, the gospel that frees from all who oppress and overwhelm.

I confess that I am very thankful for this neighbor’s pleas, and those of so many other people who truly love me and approach me with worry, but I cannot silence God’s encouraging push: do not be afraid! I must recognize nonetheless, something very wise in the appraisal of my neighbor: the power of music against this tyranny. My experience related to this past International Day of Human Rights in homage to the universal principles signed on December 10th, 1948, supports the certainty of my neighbor.

A brief trip to attend to some personal matters placed me in Havana in the maelstrom of December 8th and 9th, at the same time they led me away from the hunt, this time unsuccessful, that was organized against me in Taguayabón to prevent my free movement on a day as transcendental as that of the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration. In the midst of dozens of arrests of friends and the immobilization of so many others, I became aware of the things that were happening through my Twitter account @maritovoz, things like the civil act of Cubans from the other side who had the healthy intention of shooting off fireworks only twelve miles off the coast of Havana’s seafront. I thank God I was offered the inescapable opportunity to discourage some desperate youths, who without doubt were incited by the bad intent of State Security to throw themselves into the sea under the deceit that some fleet of Democracy would be a way of escaping this island prison, when in reality they were to be used as a boycott of a healthy act free of all provocation by being bearers of a message of love and peace.

I don’t know if it was UNICEF or someone else that made the wise decision to convene an open-air concert with the successful singer-songwriter X Alfonso at just a few blocks from the seafront (Ave G and Calzada), and right at the end, greeting the brothers from the other side on the night of December 9th at 10:00pm! This allowed many to see the fireworks, charged with significance on the horizon, closing with the culmination of a silver so strong as if it were the presentation of the disk of X “REVERSE”, completely free and in the open-air.  Thousands of young people, still without the courage to go out on the street like those admired women dressed in white brandishing gladiolas like swords of peace, nevertheless had the courage and passion to sing with energy and a certain freedom words charged with authentic rebellion and nonconformity like those of the talented X Alfonso, so sensibly named an Ambassador of Good Will by UNICEF.  Again, art succeeds where the harassers have not been able.

I was one among the multitude. Before the seafront, on one side without access because of the enraged sea, and hundreds of policemen watching its access on the other side, I climbed unnoticed to the top floors of the Giron building, on the corner of F and Malecon. Running the risk of being taken for a thief, since I was a stranger, I stayed an hour, between 8:30 and 9:30, stationed like a guard to watch the signals on the horizon in one of the corridors. A number of curious neighbors, not because of my presence, but because of the lights of freedom in the horizon, gave me peace. I imagine the same show was happening in all the buildings along the eight-kilometer strip of seafront, and furthermore, especially in the neighbors of Eastern Havana like Cojimar and Alamar, where there were many reports and photos of this luminous embrace that will one day cross the twelve miles that remain for us to melt into one single people. Undoubtedly, the emotion of being able to make out physical lights was much smaller than that of the lips of a people divided for more than fifty years trying to kiss each other in spite of the weight of those twelve miles.

Leaving the Girón at 9:30 to melt with the mass of people that gathered on Presidents Avenue in spite of its being a military zone, and singing with an enormous crowd that seemed to not notice such worried uniformed civil police was an unforgettable emotion. Words like those in this song sum up everything:

The city that looks toward heaven, that looks toward the sea, toward the infinite

asking itself what our destiny will be

hiding its answer in the air of a breath

and waiting for the time to pass, like bored fish.

Politics incapable of resolving any conflict,

government taxes that make them rich,

officials who waste the effort obtained,

workers rising early, giving their souls for their children.

Everything will change, oh, some day it will change,

everything will change, I have faith that it will change.

The poisoned lie that preaches fanaticism,

the ban, speak softly, that you get me into trouble,

the importance of selling a paradise to the outside,

the reasons for taking away my rights, my principles,

those that ignore your problems for obeying what is established,

who point with a finger for thinking differently,

make families unable to share the most beautiful moments,

loneliness that is not a name, is a really messed-up feeling.

Everything will change, some day it will change,

everything will change, I have faith that it will change.

The city that looks toward heaven, that looks toward the sea, toward the infinite

 asking itself what our destiny will be,

this anguish of the silence of knowing if we are alive,

sacrifices without an answer at the end of this road.

Everything will change, someday it will change.

Everything will change, I have faith it will change.

Everything will change.

I should confess that I often remember the words of my neighbor and recognize that art and faith, in the case of Cuba, are achieving what political orders and tendencies cannot, decimated by too much aggression by an intolerant system and concentrated on ways to confront so many valiant people, while a people expires from physical and spiritual hunger. As if to corroborate this, I submerged myself in another sea of people the next day, in Villa Clara, in a provincial gathering among my Baptist brothers, accompanied and protected by the people of my church who, to demonstrate valor, only need to accompany me, as they did. There I sang, our Cuban gospel music this time, and I felt the certainty of what X Alfonso predicts will happen with the impulse of art and faith, like this faith in Christ that not only frees and saves the soul for eternity, but also converts enslaved human beings into citizens with dignity, full of civic consciousness in the here and now, as it did with the possessed Gerasene. I have no doubt that everything will change; what is more, I have faith it will change.

 Translated by: Kimberly De La Cruz, M. Ouellette, AnonyGY

January 3 2012

ETECSA One Option … / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

ETECSA: Telecommunications Corporation of Cuba.

A new strategy, a new option, improvements in their cell phone services is what Cubans were expecting starting February 1st, 2012. The offer that a message would cost 00.09 cuc was better than the previous 00.16 cuc, it was encouraging, the cost of a call was better since the person who called also had to pay for it, similar to the fixed lines, and the cost was 00.45 cuc per minute, better than the previous options since using *88 the person who called had to pay, but each minute would cost “00.60” cuc, similar to *99, where the person who was calling was charging the cost of the call to the receiver for the same tariff of “00.60” cuc.

The offer is not bad since there is an improvement, not big, but something is better than nothing. What happens then to ETECSA clients? Why is there a discomfort among clients?

The service they activated for customers so that the receiver would not have to pay for the call, was to activate *88, I mean,  the person who wants to phone a friend searches in the cellphone contacts and the number appears with *88 activated, it does not appear on the screen of the person who calls, but on the screen of the receiver, but the number of the calling person does not appear on that of the receiver, for example: -00535387234588- so that the name does no appear, despite the fact that it is in the telephone contacts!

The option would be to save it as it appears and one does not feel uncomfortable not knowing who is calling. But there is another problem, as it was saved the same way it had appeared in the example above, one can not send messages. The other option is to save it twice, one to identify the name if it is in the contacts and another one to send messages.

The only hope we have is to expect this small, but inconvenient, problem to improve, for the use of the cell phone.

Translated by AnonyGy

February 6 2012