A Racist Intellectual Legacy / Mackandal – Manuel Aguirre Lavarrere

Racism was supposedly abolished by the revolution of the Constitution and from public places, but there were no policies to educate the citizens to be conscious about their actions.

The revolution did not care about intellectual abolition of racism and did not educate the people about this phenomenon.

Blacks are seen as inferior beings with an ugly skin pigmentation and a lower IQ, and therefore, they must be treated according to these differences, so that at least one day they will become closer to the civilization imposed by the white race, which claims itself to be the superior race. Everything that does not fall within the whites’ rules is considered as culturally and humanly disposable.

All this has been the result of a racist intellectual legacy.

The phenomenon of the right to own property adds to the worsening of the racial issues in Cuba. The Cuban regime suppressed private property, which it considered to be one of the vices of capitalism. In the Castro regime’s society, private property exists by custom and acceptance, but not — until recently — by law and rights, which are still subject to the will and rules of an arbitrary regime.

This has to do with social and ethnic relations because the regime is the sole owner and guarantor of rights, and it can grant or expropriate goods and property, with tricky laws whenever it pleases.

Black and mestizos in Cuba are the property of the regimen, which from redemption and free labor has turned them into a cheap labor force. A large supply of slaves, all from a single owner.

Within Cuban socialism, skin color weighs heavily over social relations, and the man loses all of his freedom rights, becoming property of an ideology that manipulates him and can put him on sale or make him disappear whenever his Master, the State, says so.
Skin color and class struggles become meaningless. The man does not exist as such, no matter how much they want to pretend the opposite.

The invisibility of blacks is their punishment for being a bad example and a stigma for society.

Today’s racism is the fruit of a prolonged belief in eugenics and of a white-focused and anti-black legacy.

Only open regimens may be able to provide spaces for everyone, to create spaces for debate about social issues without the presence of the State, whose only obligation is to respond to the will of its people. And this is only accomplished in representative democracies whose ideological and political formula is so far not surpassed by any other in guaranteeing individual rights.

Published by Primavera Digital, July 7, 2012

Translate by Chabeli

Racist Practices and Behaviors Make a Comeback / Mackandal – Manuel Aguirre Lavarrere

Social and racial equality in Cuba was grossly embezzled and supplanted by the greed of political power. To understand the achievements and chimeras of this equality that is nothing but virtual, it is essential to submerge ourselves in the discourse of Fidel Castro during the “Second Declaration of Havana”, in 1962, where he talked, among other things, about ending unemployment, gambling, vices, and corruption, which are all present in Cuba, today. Castro also alluded that racism was settled in Cuba. After more than fifty years, this has been proven one of the most distressing lies for the Cuban regime.

While the existing laws contained in the Labor Code, which were consequently included in the Constitution of February 24, 1976 and later amended in 1992, take the right to work, social security, welfare, and others, to the constitutional level, establishing in Article 3 that “all citizens able to work regardless of race, color, sex, religion, public opinion or national or social origin, have the opportunity to get a job with which they can contribute towards the goals of society and the fulfillment of their needs”, the day-to-day practices in Cuban society show that opportunities are limited for Afro-Cubans.

The “Second Declaration of Havana” synthesizes the history of the struggle against racial discrimination during much of the Republic, the efforts made by the former Socialist Party (PSP) and the way in which it understood the issue of discrimination and its solution to this problem in Cuba. There are some fundamental points such as the integration of public spaces and the nationalization of education into one single system, administered by the State, where racial equality is established. However, this is a complicated phenomenon: words will be useless without first taking into account the training of workers, which conflicted with the organizational structures of the unions. All these measures, plausible at the time, unfortunately vanished because they were not enforced in a country willing to whiten its society and to refuse opportunities to blacks.

This political irresponsibility brought consequences: within education, the workplace and public spaces, the political illusions of the Revolution, which was most concentrated in exporting its ideology, assumed that racism had been struck a deathblow.  But it lost sight of this issue in relation to private spaces, interpersonal relations, and public opinion.  Consequently these areas were kept outside the vision of an inclusive logic, turning the characters implied into puppets of the desires of others, whether it is the State, Ministry of Labor or any other entity.  As a result of this political recklessness, the stigmas that perpetuate racist practices and behaviors in schools, the workplace, and public spaces are very alive and continue to dominate our entire society.

Published by Primavera Digital, July 19, 2012, Year No. 5
www.primaveradigital.org / Space for all / Made in Cuba

Translated by Chabeli

31 July 12012

Resignation Over Censorship / Miguel Coyula

Miguel Coyula

Miguel Coyula (a jury member for the exhibition) on the resignation of Fernando Pérez from the presidency of ICAIC* Young Filmmakers Exhibition:


I understand and respect Fernando’s decision. Beyond whether it was artistically accomplished or not, the short-film Despertar [Awaken] deserved to be shared with the public.

Enough already.

I hope that Exhibition continues to move forward, but it won’t be the same after having been stomped on. I believe in resigning. I have been antisocial since I was a child; it’s a question of my personality. But I have not resigned from making films, from creating. It is the only thing over which I can have absolute control in life. Political systems, religions, structures of power, movements, leaders, they all end up disappointing us because those at the top always make decisions that leave us disappointed and helpless, especially when our interests are distant from those of the majority.

Sacrifice? No. Not for anything other than creation.

I also believe in individuals, in friends, but never in the masses because they have always been manipulated throughout the history of humanity. In my case, there is nothing new to be said. I am not going to wrap it up with a lot of verbiage to soften the message: of course that I am fed up with the censorship in my country. This is the result of a political structure that is rotten to the core, which IS NOT GOING TO IMPROVE, NOR WILL IT BE REPLACED BY A BETTER ONE because the mutilation suffered will last for several generations, and nor does there exist in the rest of the world, another humanist alternative implemented with an effectiveness that seduces me.

I know I am apocalyptic.

That is why I make films and not politics. I have no vocation for the second, and if I had, I would surely be a dictator. I prefer to be an apathetic in the physical world, instead of screwing over people’s lives. Experimenting only within a screen of images and motion. Living closer to the hermit, creating an inner world of imperfect universes with freedom of a totalitarian subjectivity. An improbable mix of cynicism and romanticism but, at least for me, it has been the only way to sleep peacefully.

Ailer Gonzalez (left), Raudel Collazo (center) — the subject of the film — and Ricardo Figueredo (right) — the filmmaker. Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

*Cuban Film Institute

Source: Tension Lia

Support Miguel’s new film here.

Translated by Chabeli

Tomás, the Man who Brought Broadway to Taguayabón / Mario Barroso

Source: http://buenavistavcuba.blogspot.com/

This past July 2 was second anniversary of the death of Tomás Leopold Alfonso Manso. He was born on September 30, 1941, and unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on July 2, 2010, leaving an irreplaceable emptiness in Taguayabón, the town in which he lived since 1978 and to which he devoted his art, with the same dedication as if Taguayabón was New York City.

In the last months of his life, we shared the same daily routine of having coffee in the morning at the home of a mutual friend, a ritual as important to Cubans as three o’ clock tea is for an Englishman. Tomás adopted me as his spiritual guide and told me the stories about his deepest traumas and desires. In the 51st edition of the folklore magazine Signos from 2005, dedicated to the traditional occupations in Cuba, I published my contributionHabit Makes the Monk, and Hard Work Traditions Make Taguayabón,” and under its title it said “Tomás Manso Alfonso, our float maker” (pages 65-66). This human being was receiving then one of the very few tributes that honored him during his life, and that he very much appreciated.

The fact that he was a literacy teacher, especially in the Escambray, during the harsh days of the 1960s when Cubans shed the blood of other Cubans, made him a witness of the crimes committed by the Cuban regime, crimes he never forgot.

The firing squads scenes which he was forced to attend turned into a horrific drama that accompanied Tomás throughout his life. He still could hear the cries of “Long live God our King!” from those who were going to die, teenagers among them, if not children.

Tomás could not find any other way to avoid those memories, but secluding himself in art, and Taguayabón had the blessing of being the place for Tomás’s work. Thanks to him, the hardships of a town like this, in  remote Cuba, became less because Tomás gave his people a reason to laugh and dream. Probably, most of Taguayabón’s people will never see Broadway, not even Tomás did, but that was not an excuse to not bring it to the Taguayabonians.

The State censors, who were always shadowing Tomás’ projects and who knew very well what he had witnessed, in spite of knowing that this was contrary to the wishes of his family and of El Gavilán, the party neighborhood to which he belonged, made a clumsy attempt to stop me from speaking at the cemetery of San Antonio, on the morning of July 3rd, before his burial.

They failed. And as a tribute to Tomás, on behalf of all of Taguayabón, two years after his deeply felt absence, the blog Cubano Confesante will make available a video that his entire neighborhood El Gavilán dedicated to him, which was publicly exhibited in the 2010 carnival parties that were organized to honor Tomás’ memory. The entire recordings of two mournful farewells before his burial will be also available, that of a retired State Security agent who served as the head of this organ for many years in Caibarién, and my own, which he failed to stop from happening.

Translator’s note: Two video links accompanied this post but they have been removed from YouTube because they are too long.

July 5 2012

S. O. S. for the Zoo / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

Havana – Once again the international media talks about the shipment of 146 animals from Namibia to Cuba. The act will fulfill the agreements signed by both governments a few moths ago.

Just to cite some examples, there are elephants, black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs and antelopes on the list of species. These animals will be removed of their natural habitat and will have as their final destination one of the two Zoos of Havana, God only knows.

To this date, it has been said that the shipment of these 23 species of animals will be carried out by plane and will take place in October of this year. The shipment has been named “Noah’s Ark II.”

It is embarrassing for the Cuban people that these animals are being removed from their natural habitats to be put in captivity or, in the best case, to be taken to the new Zoo, which is located on the outskirts of the city and is currently undergoing restoration.

For years we have been deprived from seeing in our Zoos animals like those that soon will be landing in the capital. What is really sad for us and, calls all of those who may be concerned about this issue to reflect, is the treatment that these animals will receive on the island.

In recent years the parks for animal exhibitions throughout the entire country have suffered a high decay. In many of the cases, they lack the required diet to feed these animals, or when they have it, it is scarce. The sanitation of the facilities where the animals will live does not even have the slightest similarities to their natural habitat.

With the pictures that we are publishing today, taken at the Zoo on 26th Street in the Cuban capital, I make a warning call to all the international organizations for animal protection to reflect on the shipment of these animals to Havana.

If the animals are sent as scheduled, they are at risk of living in the same conditions the animals we already have live under.

It is important to point out that the Namibians are the ones financing this shipment. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, currently headed by Minister Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, must be warned. There is no doubt that prior to the signing of the agreements with Cuba, those in charge of the Havana Zoo did not show the images of the facilities that the animals will soon inhabit to the Namibians who with good will are giving this gift to the Cuban people.

We must never allow that the new animals continue to be bruised from beatings to gain their obedience, as one of the lions in one of our pictures which shows scars from beatings on his face. Neither we must allow that the animals starve to death due to lack of food  or that  they contract diseases because of the lack of hygiene in the facilities they inhabit.

We want the animals in our country, no matter what habitat they live in, to become long lasting memories, instead of the sad images of lanky, hungry, thirsty, and ill animals.

Havana, Cuba more than being ready to receive new animals, must be ready to shout out loud to all people of goodwill: S. O. S. for the Zoo.

Translated by Chabeli

July 16 2012

The Downfall of Black Ethnicity / Mackandal – Manuel Aguirre Lavarrere

The downfall of the black man’s ethnicity is a phenomenon that is part of universal history. In the Americas this ethnic downfall arose when the African stopped being called African but Negro, as a result of the slave trade.

Taboos against blacks and mestizos emerged precisely from the loss of ethnic origins, which implies a constant discrimination that is constantly being recreated.

Cuba is, perhaps, symbol of a failed abolition. Afro-Cubans are still suffering the consequences of slavery and racism. In Cuba, the vice of Socialism and its policies to turn the individual into a mass, lead to the abolition of all rights and to the constant whitening the individual’s mentality.

If an ideological concept is assiduously systematized, as happens in Cuba, and it is never separated from the social context, regardless of the real aspirations of the citizens, it is clear that we are witnessing an exclusionary political context that exclusively responds to the interests of the only party.

Cuban socialism is founded on political and ideological exclusions. It establishes differences between men because of their ways of thinking, and it makes these differences stand out offensively. Cuban socialism emphasizes not only political differences, but also differences based on skin color.

This phenomenon of branding each other has existed, and it continues to exist, within all structures of totalitarian power, where the weakest ones are exposed to submissiveness, physical and mental abuse.

A society that truly fights prejudices and racism of all kinds is a society that gives its citizens the opportunity to stand up for themselves and be protagonists for change, without discriminating against its citizens because of their skin colors or their ethnicities.

As long as this continues to happen, it will always be a stigma for our nation and psychological shock with the individual human person. It will always be the oppression of one over each other. It will provoke hatred and fear towards differences. The country will be nothing more than a mere reference.

Man must have the right to what he aspires, without having to take any differences into account, but the fulfillment of his demands and respect for his freedoms.

Translated by Chabeli

28 June 2012

Winning to Win / Fernando Dámaso

Photo Juventud Rebelde

It’s no secret to anyone that Cuban baseball, regardless of the odd triumph, has been in crisis for some time. Exposing the story of the majors, showing that professionals are playing against amateurs, the successive defeats against teams playing in equal conditions, have got the specialists and managers on the run, looking for magic formulas to resolve the situation. At some point there is the impression that, in the end, they will have to set aside the syndrome of champions at all cost, more political-ideological than sporting, and bet on the massive practice from the base, facilitating the emergence and practice of new talents, which would fill out the teams of the national series as well as the Cuban team in international competitions.

The games against the team from Nicaragua and the college students from the US demonstrate that nothing has changed. We went to Nicaragua to win and not to give a chance to our new players to get started; in contrast, this was, intelligently, what the Nicaraguan mentor wanted and did in every game with his inexperienced players.

The Cuban mentor chose to go for the victory with the best players from the national series that recently ended, without taking into consideration their physical exhaustion after the intense national series, and left the beginners on the bench as if they had traveled as spectators.

They used the same formula with the US team, after having lost the first and last games and having suffered throughout the second and third games to the last Out. Defeating the Americans (3 vs. 2) turned out to be again a political-ideological problem, having nothing to do with baseball.

Some questions emerge from this last game (Cuba vs. US), which was settled as a mutual training, not as a championship. If the visiting team was formed by college students from different universities (between the ages of 17 and 21), why wasn’t the Cuban team formed by college students from several universities as well? Why was the Professional Team of Cuba brought to this game? Isn’t this happening because baseball teams do not exist in our universities, and the sport is not practiced in an organized way?

Until we restore the practice of sports (not only for baseball) from the bottom up, with organized teams in schools and in the workplace, as it used to be before 1959, where the talented athletes emerge and naturally climb up the ladder, from lower to higher levels receiving the attention and training from specialists, our trumpeted massive character will continue to be a myth, and our teams, genetically manufactured in schools for sports or in high performance centers, ill with champions syndrome, will continue to be more distant every day from the award podiums.

Translated by Chabeli

July 11 2012

First International Congress for Public Law Firms will be held in Cuba / Yaremis Flores. / Laritza Diversent

ImagenBy Yaremis Flores

The National Organization of Legal Collectives (ONBC) announced this past Tuesday,June 5th, on the official radio its first international congress: Advocacy 2012. The event will take place from the 19th to the 21st of September at the Conventions Palace, in Havana.

Co-sponsored by the National Union of Jurists of Cuba and the School of Law of the University of Havana, the event will host all legal operators and law students. However, the organization did not communicate to the public the registration fees:

Delegates:$240USD (approx.)

Presenter and students: $180 USD (approx.)

Guests: $80 USD (approx.)

According to the ONBC’s website, registration will be open to the last day of the month. Fifty papers, from throughout the nation,have been pre-selected to present. Ariel Mantecón, President of the National Executive Board of the ONBC, highlighted that the theme of the event will be “Management and Solutions for Legal Disputes.”

“The event will empower the commercial contracts sphere through the exchange with professional of Latin America, North America, and Europe”, said Mantecón. The procedural protection laws in agrarian-legal relations, the efficiency of the economic processes, and the new technologies in the notarial field are among the main topics for debate.

Nonetheless, after discussion with several attorneys not affiliated with State sector, they all agree that legal practices in Cuba demand immediate attention towards other issues. The delayed intervention of lawyers in the criminal process and the free exercise of law are among them. In Cuba only those who belong to the ONBC are legally recognized as lawyers.

Translated by Chabeli

July 9 2012

CUBA, Talit’ cum – I speak to you / Ricardo Medina

Zuleydi Lizbeth Pérez Velázquez

Talitá, cum, is a phrase in Aramaic, a language spoken in Palestine in Jesus’ time, meaning “I speak to you”, and it belongs to the gospel of Mark 5, 21-43, and the church has set it has aside for us to meditate this week.

This gospel tells us the story of a woman, who, for twelve years, had been suffering from hemorrhages caused by some anomaly in her menstrual cycle, and in the middle of a crowd, she came up to Jesus from behind and touched his hand seeking health. She had already used up of all her resources going to different doctors, and none of them had been able to find out about her condition, especially since in those times women were excluded in society.

Coincidentally, since 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 30, Zuleydi Lizbeth Pérez Velázquez, a well-known activist of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID) and of the Laura Pollán Ladies in White Movement, in Holguín, had been facing harassment from the political police and its repressive agents, who seek to ingratiate themselves and to gain perks, so that they can act as deliberately as they please, protected by the shield of the insecurity of the State, spent 20 hours monitoring Lizbeth to stop her from participating in her demand for freedom for all the political prisoners, along with the Ladies in White. A group of activists from CID did not hesitate in offering their support and converged on her modest dwelling showing their support. During the act of coercion from the political police and the state security agents, Lizbeth and her family were not alone; Hoguín’s CID supported them.

Jesus’ answer was: “Daughter, your faith has cured you. Go now in peace and health“. There was no scolding from his side as the poor woman may have thought, as she walked fearfully towards him. Jesus asked: “Who has touched my cloak?” The story tells that at that precise moment Jairus, the chief of the synagogue, arrived to ask for a prayer for his very ill daughter, who had been reported dead. “Don’t be afraid; it’s enough to have faith,” was Jesus’ answer.

After Jesus said Talitá, cum, the girl began to talk and walk, and became healthy.

San Pedro, summarizes the healings and resurrections carried out by Christ throughout his life, saying: “He went doing good“. This is, then, a call for health and faith, to which we are all invited to continue healing and removing prejudices toward political and social affiliations, and creeds.

We have to keep in mind that the Creator saw good in everything, as he spread encouragement for life in the universe; the man (his image), second to God in the Creation, has the responsibility to continue filling the world with good and life. We cannot stop making this call, as long as men and women remain imprisoned for claiming their rights. Rights also for those have bags full of food, and the people next to them suffer from hunger and needs.

We are the ones who have to keep the balance, and the harmony among all.

Pope Paul VI said in his homilies:Christ is the center of history and of all things; he got to know us and he loves us; he is companion and friend of our lives, a man of pain and hopes, and eventually our judge; and according to our level of trust, He is also our fulfillment and our bliss.

Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the king of the new world, the hidden and supreme reason of human history and of our future fate.

Jesus would say today, Talitá, cum – I speak to you Cuba; You, man, women, elderly, Cuban, wherever you are, must assume your Christian responsibility, acquired by you or by your parents on the day of your baptism; do not stain with blood or hatred your soul for those who erroneously have imposed on you a rule of life, for more than half a century, which the world already recognizes does not work, and its imposer publicly recognized it as wrong.

CUBA, Talitá, cum – I speak to you.

Published on Cuba CID

Translated by Chabeli

July 2 2012

Laura Pollán Is With Me / Lilianne Ruíz

A photograph of Laura Pollán in her coffin.

The sun is still rising in Cuba. The natural cycle of birth and death never fails to mock ideology and power. It is the rag that will wipe away all the actors of this diabolic drama.

Recently I got to know through a friend who is a veteran of  the Ladies in White, that a few days before going into Calixto García hospital Laura Pollán was cut with a sharp utensil by a woman from one of the repudiation rally mobs that the State Security organizes against the Ladies in White.

Immediately after being wounded, Laura started to feel very ill. The mutual friend went to see her and told me that she found Laura weak and ill, and “she was not one of those who would let them (the state security mobs) intimidate her.”

It was not the first attack against Laura Pollán, the one that probably caused her death. There is a documentary titled I am the other Cuba, by the Italian filmmaker Pierantonio Maria Micciarelli, which shows in real time, during an interview with Laura Pollán, how the car in which Laura and he were riding was mysteriously hit by another car which pushed it out of its lane.

If the anti-Castro Cubans had 1% of the money that State Security attributes to them, I would vote to fund a massive media campaign, as big and expensive as that for the five agents from the Ministry of Interior — the so-called “Cuban Five” — demanding an international investigation into the mysterious death of Laura Pollán. A death probably organized by colleagues of the five Ministry of Interior spies. Of course, those in charge of the investigation of the crime would not be allowed into the country and the world would have to put it where the sun don’t shine, once again, before the arbitrariness of the government of this island. The bitchy world that makes so many mistakes so often and so badly.

By the way, imagine if any of us, we Cubans who inhabit this island, were to organize a Solidarity Club for Allan Gross, an American citizen imprisoned in Castro’s jails under the dubious charges of having bought, in the most ordinary technology shops of today’s world, equipment, instruments, and communication tools which, once in the country, had some destination independent of the Cuban State and its sacred control.

Would the Cuban political police be more respectful of my hypothetical Solidarity Club for Allan Gross, would they organize solidarity parades in the United States, even a parade of four people whom the political police would pay with the money that is not even enough to cover the basic needs of the Cuban people? Cubans’ basic needs that are administered by the paternalistic State according to whatever level of hunger people in Cuba can endure each day?

Anyone in the world, I repeat, can buy technological equipment like that involved in the sin committed by Allan Gross without being accused of high-profile espionage or being linked to weapons of mass destruction. You would think connection, communication, are crimes in Cuba, especially when these kind of crimes serve as good bait to get the five Ministry of Interior (MININT) agents out of trouble.

You know what? I recommend that these spies be returned — I say it with my deepest respect for the pain of the surviving brother from the organization “Brothers to the Rescue” which saved Cubans found in open waters, Cubans who threw themselves into the ocean running away from the rough life conditions on the island — because this has been another repugnant episode of the Castro regime, and Alan Gross does not deserve to be suffering in prison.

Now, how can I express that I started writing this post from the discomfort provoked by an article that I read in the El Nuevo Herald, on June 27, about Mariela Castro’s visit to the United States; Mariela whose name and entire family’s name I wish I didn’t remember, honestly. The social life of my country, occupied by such a clan, is a nightmare. Their cynicism, which seems hereditary, would scandalize anyone who gets to know the gruesome details of the truth about Cuba.

Mrs. Castro says she belongs to civil society by virtue of being the director of CENESEX. The real civil society in Cuba is chased down by the henchmen of the family to which the intolerable Mrs. Castro belongs. Civil society must be independent from the State power, an alternative to political power; therefore Mrs. Castro is anything but a representative of our civil society.

In Cuba, the men and women who celebrate Gay Pride Day do it under threats of detention and police beatings, because she — even when it seems unbelievable that everything continues to be in the hands of one person — only allows the celebration of the “International Day against Homophobia,” a parade organized by a State institution, CENESEX, not by civil society.

It seems easier to control how this rainbow flag can wave by isolating it from the rest of the representatives of this flag in the world, imposing a line of what is politically permitted. I have hopes that the LGBT community, after so many centuries of resistance, keeps being as rebellious as it has been forced to be because all of kinds of repression, and it continues to rebel against wearing a uniform.

The Director of CENESEX, the daughter and niece of bloody tyrants, always taking advantage of the historical sense of the moment, pretends to line up gays and gain the sympathy of this growing social group in Cuba and in the world. Perhaps Mrs. Castro is after the sympathy of LGBT groups at the international level because people here don’t buy her story at all.

It will be like the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), designed to consolidate and better control women in Cuba; it is a system that does not tolerate freedom.

Consequently, people should know, so that they can decide to sympathize with Mariela Castro or not, that she has been responsible for proposing the exchange of prisoners, ignoring the pain of Cubans oppressed by the claws of the complex apparatus of repression that works to ensure the power of her family and the pain of the Americans who follow the case of Allan Gross. In such a no man’s land we should all be heckling her.

The speech of the First Lady of the Castro regime where she declared that she, too, is a dissident, “a dissident against the global hegemonic power,” is the same as that of her family that has wanted to gain power from the aspirations of millions of people from around the world to be free from the powers that oppress them; gain power so they can throw over them the same net with which they hunted down Cubans, Cubans whose souls were stolen before being condemned to hunger and misery.

Translated by Chabeli

July 2 2012

Compliance with Court Sentences / Cuban Law Association, E. Javier Hernández H.

Mr. E. Javier Hernández H.

As a consequence of the sad social deterioration and the weak rule of law in our country, for years now there has been an increase in the dangerous behavior of the citizens and other state entities that refuse to fulfill the sentences dictated by the courts, also due to the limited powers that these courts have to enforce their decisions.

The Cuban Constitution states in its article 123:

“The sentences and other final court decisions … are of unquestionable compliance by the state agencies, the economic and social entities, and the citizens.”

The complementary law covering the objectives, functioning and procedure of the Cuban courts is Law 82 of the People’s Courts. Its Article 7 summarizes clearly their mandate and responsibility:

“Article 7. – Legality in the judicial process is guaranteed by:

“The obligation of state agencies, state organizations and public entities to comply with and enforce court sentences and all final tribunal resolutions, dictated within the limits of their power.

“Citizens, political, social and mass organizations, associations, and private national and foreign entities must comply with and enforce court sentences and all final tribunal resolutions…

“Tribunals must effectively carry out the dictated court sentences and must watch over their compliance and the work of the entities in charge of enforcing these sentences.”

There are countless examples, that have come to our Association, of issues that, in sad and dangerous ways, are affecting our safety and public order, and even worse, the trust and faith in the highest-level judicial institutions of our country, such as:

Sentences authorizing the occupation or vacating of a citizen’s residence.

Resolutions to compensate a worker who was unlawfully deprived of his or her job.

Firm sentences against entities for non-compliance with their contracts.

Resolutions against the Housing Department for illegal actions towards homeowners, etc.

The level of conscious compliance with norms and rules that we would have wanted to achieve in the XXI century is a utopia, and for many reasons, we Cubans have been moving from respectful to undisciplined, along with being trusting, subsidized, manipulated, passive and destructive people.

Incredibly, since we are children of the extremes, there is also an official tendency to be part of the problem, not a part of the solution. In addition to the fact that our judicial system has no agents with the official authority, in the name of justice, to enforce court decisions, sentences or resolutions.

The greatest danger lies in the near future. We all want the judicial restructuring of social infrastructure, property, constitutional rights, the restoration of safety and public order, of pardons, the restitution of freedoms and that the courts, as guarantors of legality, are respected and make themselves respected; otherwise, we would lose a large part of the core values that, as a Republic, we have defended so much, and that we Cubans want to peacefully reconquer.

Translated by Chabeli

June 1 2012

The Ghost of the Treaties / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

“A ghost is traveling around Europe: it is the ghost of Communism” said Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their famous Manifesto.

Over a century later, when he was Foreign Relations Minister and the one who best interpreted the thoughts of the Commander in Chief (Fidel Castro), a photo of Felipe Pérez Roque shaking hands with Mr. Ban Ki Mon, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), appeared in the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, on February 28, 2008.

The snapshot was taken on the occasion of the signing, by Foreign Relations Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, of the two International Covenants on Human Rights (ICCPR and ICESCR) that came out of the UN in 1966 and started to be signed and ratified worldwide, going into effect in 1976, 10 years later.

The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, despite the overwhelming moral commitment that it entails, is only a recommendation, not a binding treaty for any government.

Precisely, because of its non-obligatory condition (or non-binding, as you would say in the language of international law), the UN created these two International Covenants, detailing and more specifically defining the rights laid out in the Universal Declaration. The two Covenants are: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), (or first generation), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), (or second generation).

Four years after this event, there are several questions to be answered if we want to analyze it:

  • Why would the Cuban government take 32 years to sign such important documents?
  • Why did the citizens never receive an explanation about the reasons why the documents were signed?
  • Why have the Cuban people never been exposed to the content of these Covenants?
  • What implications would the ratification of such legal instruments of justice have for the Cuban people?
  • Why, since their signing date, have these agreements been kept in the “secrecy” that today is criticized by the authorities?

The problem is that, right now, we continue to face this widespread crisis that seems endless, just like the absence of deep and serious responses from the side of the government.

Outraged people are not only in Europe, in Wall Street or in Arab countries. A group of citizens from Cuban civil society is demanding the ratification of the UN Covenants signed on behalf of the Cuban people, precisely because we are… outraged.

Ghosts have always existed throughout history. Yesterday, Communism was Europe’s ghost. Today, in Cuba, a new ghost starts moving around, horrifying and frightening for some: the ghost of the Human Rights Covenants of the United Nations.

Translated by ChabeliJune 28 2012

Pollution in Santa Clara / Ricardo Medina

ImagenThe well-known Bélico River in Santa Clara is showing, in these rainy days, the pollution in the city of Marta, causing astonishment among the people passing by and the rest of the population.

Santa Clara, capital of the Villa Clara province, was founded on July 15, 1689, under the shade of a tamarind tree, by 14 families from the village of San Juan de Los Remedios who declared its foundation after a public mass. This took place in what is now Parque del Carmen, named after the church that stood there, and where a tamarind tree was kept in place to honor the historical fact.

It was the capital city of Las Villas (Santa Clara, Cienfuegos and Santi Espíritus) before the last political-administrative border division* given by the so-called revolutionary process; the splendor of this city was always contagious to its visitors, and it distinguished itself by its hospitality, and the cleanliness of its streets and residents.

The Train Memorial

The Bélico River, cuts through the city; it was a navigable river, where Mrs. Marta Abreu Esteves, benefactor of the city, created public laundry sinks for the poor women. The sinks were later tarnished with the building of the Minerva and Ochoa dam, another Castro invention that ruined my beloved hometown.

The images published on this post denounce by themselves the health authorities of Santa Clara and of the province of Villa Clara, the waste management services, and the office of the monuments; in the background of the images, you can see the monument to The Armored Train, and there it says “triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution” and there, a question comes to my mind: “Aren’t the monuments also interested in the hygiene of the city?”

I share this enormous pain with people from this place. In my Free Cuba, I want Santa Clara and the city of Marta free of pollution and dirt, and for that I will work.

Note: For more pictures visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/cubacid/

Ricardo Santiado Medina

CID Cuba – http://www.cubacid.org

*Translator’s note: Before the Revolution Cuba had 6 provinces, it now has 15.

Translator: Chabeli

June 26 2012

A Pending Subject / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

May, Havana, Cuba.

FROM www.cubanet.org

The process of transition towards democracy, in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, should be included as a subject within the Political Science field, because of the worldwide vast experiences gained from recent history, especially in European countries.

The fall of Communism in the Euro-Asian continent was undoubtedly one of the major events of world history, ending an ideological system that resulted in more than one hundred million victims.

The key elements that made the system collapse were: the stagnation of the socialist societies, the frustrated expectations of their citizens, nationalism, leaders of the dissidence like Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, the militaristic policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the advent of a Polish Pope, and especially the actions taken by Mikhail Gorbachev, a leader who, despite being in control of all the totalitarian powers, decided to create programs to promote freedom of the press and freedom of expression (Glasnost).

Gorbachev decentralized and restructured the stagnant Soviet economy (Perestroika); he also created competitive elections for new parliaments and leaders (Demokratizatsiya), and implemented new foreign policies that ended the Cold War.

The way in which Communism emerged in these European countries had a crucial influence on how they could get rid of it. Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Georgia, Lithuania saw Communism as a foreign invasion that had brought poverty, deportations and violence. This is why these countries had a strong dissidence movement during the communist era.

In other countries like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Serbia, there was some legitimacy due to poverty, illiteracy, lack of previous democracies, and lack of awareness as nations.

They ways in which the transition out of Communism took place in Europe can be divided into several groups. In the first group dissidents and nationalists were able to topple the recalcitrant Communist Party and form a government mainly composed of the opposition. As examples we can mention Vaclav Havel’s Czechoslovakia (where large student demonstrations took place, followed by a national strike), Sviad Gamsakhurdia’s Georgia, Askar Akaev’s Kyrgyzstán, and Vojislav Kostunica’s Yugoslavia.

In the second group, the communist parties were more flexible and willing to negotiate a transition, as in Poland and Lithuania.

In the third group, the communist leaders carried out the changes as their own initiatives and without being pressured. This was called “Revolution from Above”, and resulted in a moderate opposition movement, which negotiated with the moderates in the government. The most eloquent example was the Soviet Union.

In the fourth group, the former communist functionaries, who had been expelled from the Party’s high ranks, took advantage of the democratic movement to seize power through opportunism and revenge. A few examples to mention are Boris Yeltsin’s Russia, expelled in 1987 by Gorbachev; Franjo Tudjman’s Croatia, expelled in 1971 by Tito; and Ion Iliescu’s Romania, who was also expelled by Ceausescu in the 80s.

A fifth group characterized by second-level functionaries, as categorized within the regime’s nomenklatura, took advantage to raise reformist flags, either democratic or nationalist, and attack the government that they previously applauded and served. This is the case of Gyula Horn in Hungary and Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia.

The sixth group of countries is composed of the cases where political parties, due to major social pressures, were forced to fake a breaking away from Communism to survive. This was seen in Leonid Kravchuk’s Ukraine, Anatolijs Gorburnovs’ Latvia, and Ramiz Alia’s Albania.

For the seventh group, the transition was like a facade. The communist leaders became heads of state of independent nations, and kept in place the repressive structures and the planned economies, as in the case of Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan, Vyacheslau Kebich’s Belarus, and Nursultan Nazarbaev’s Kazakhstan.

The eighth group is formed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, where the leaders ignored inter-ethnic conflicts for political interests.

Designed based on the same image, structure and political system from the countries of the former socialist camp, Cuba has not found yet its path to a political transition.

Its political and economic models remain the same. The fundamental freedoms continue to be shelved, awaiting social movements as drivers of change. The State, the government, the party, the judicial, legislative, military and repressive structures, continue to be a single entity.

The work of the internal opposition and the push from the diaspora have not been effective in creating the necessary objective and subjective conditions for change on the island.

The revolutionary strategies, presented as reforms and openings, as the correction of errors and negative tendencies, or as the modernization of the socialist model, have buried the aspirations in times of suitable circumstances.

The transition into democracy remains a pending subject for the largest of the Antilles.

June 25 2012

Bad Policy / Mackandal – Manuel Aguirre Lavarrere

Cubans get up and go to bed with politics. In Cuba, politics, far from being an exercise of citizenship, is a way of life and a must to get to the Party’s lines.  It has always been like this in the past; the only difference is that today’s politics and politicians pull altogether to one side.

In Cuba, it is the State that sets the tone for what is right and what is wrong, for what can be said or what cannot be said, and even for the appropriate times to say it. Whatever time and space are given to the individual cannot affect in the least the official discourse, which is ultimately what must prevail over the will of the citizens.

In other words, sovereignty is defined by what the State dictates. What the citizens should say or not must always match the interests of the State itself, the sovereign State.

Therefore, a society where universal and fundamental human rights are continuously violated and the constant threat to the internal dissidence is torment, full of slanders and physical abuses against people who only use words as weapons and their right to disagree, has to recourse to bad politics and lies.  It has to distort history and count on the few intellectuals who, as paid assassins, are willing to subordinate their pens and knowledge to the service of deprivation.

The entire Cuban population is subjected to that.  Blacks and mestizos, despite the few existent benefits, like the education system, can educate themselves and graduate. The educational balance is even, and this has been demonstrated in recent studies; however, in regards to everything else, blacks cannot count on the same benefits that whites count on.

In the past, it was the fear of blacks. Today, the racial prejudices have not been overcome. Skin color, resentment, hatred and distrust, inevitably contribute to the exclusion of blacks, when the control of the political, social, economic and cultural arenas of the nation is in the hands of one single race, that at the same time tries to neutralize the aspirations of blacks to progress, and like it has always been, it makes blacks to become dependent human beings, with no rights but to obey the white racist regime.

Translated by Chabeli

Published by Spring Digital, 05/04/2012.