Seasons Greetings, Readers! / Regina Coyula

My Santa is from the Industriales baseball team

As the holidays approach I believe that everyone, regardless of what side of the ocean they are on, celebrates them. In every Cuban, however, there is some nostalgia–the feeling that the puzzle is never complete. So, I would like to wish everyone a warm celebration with their families and close friends, with the health to live and see. A virtual hug and the happiness for the dialogue we are creating from different points of view. This gives me hope for the future of Cuba.

Translated by: Lita Q.

December 21 2010

Margarita’s Rescue / Rebeca Monzo

She is not beautiful (at least not according to the canon of dogs), but she possesses the 3 key qualities that convinced me to take care of her: she’s female, flirtatious and abandoned. I could not leave her in the street, and she was interrupting my sleep. However, I could not take care of her and her puppy, because I already have a mini zoo in my house. I spoke to many people attempting to persuade them to keep the puppy, but was unsuccessful. Everyone is too worried about the food, and besides, here in my planet there is no culture of keeping pets.

Unfortunately, ever day one can find an abandoned pet. This pains me. It is also worrisome, that with time, these animals will become disease carriers.

They say that we have a Pet Protection Society. The truth is that, like all of our other things, it doesn’t work. Sometimes I see modern cars with the Society’s logo, but when one calls to report an abandoned animal, they simply reply that there is no room for them.

Today, when I went to take her food, I learned that her puppy had died. I brought her to my apartment and before bringing her up we bathed her and removed all the fleas. My husband, having foreseen her arrival, made a little house for her. Margarita and my other dog Lucky (who came to my house under similar circumstances) smelled each other and barked at each other a little but soon enough it passed. Now they are playing together on the roof. Margarita seems sad, but grateful. She shows it in her body language. When we approach her she stands on her hind legs and wags her tail. I believe that soon she will feel at home, because this is the first time she’s had one. She was brought to the neighborhood by construction workers of energy efficient homes for medical personnel (microbrigades) to be a sort of night guard. She was baptized with that name. Once the project was completed they left and abandoned the dog. As of then, the neighbors began to take care of her.

On Monday the vet will come to vaccinate her and remove parasites. In the end, the pet is one more member of the family. Today I will sleep better after Margarita’s rescue.

Translated by: Lita Q.

September 18, 2010

Lives Condemed Due to Medical Malpractice / Miguel Iturría Savón

Yadima Évora Casales is a 25-year-old Cuban mother from Vista Hermosa in San Miguel del Padron, Havana. She believes she is a victim of deceit and manipulation at the hands of officials from the institutions that “respond” to the interest of the country’s citizens.

Her tragedy began five years ago when she became pregnant. Since she was healthy no one worried about difficulties in labor. The doctors who examined her did not realize that her uterus–high, narrow and backward–would prevent a natural birth and necessitate a Cesarean.

Since no Cesarean was prescribed consequences were awful for herself and the baby, who suffers from severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy which causes spastic quadriplegia (a form of cerebral palsy), according to documents given to Joel L. Carbonell Guilar, leader of the Organization of Human Rights of Free Cubans who recently reported the case to international organizations in the face of the apathy of officials from the Clinic of San Miguel de Padron.

In December 2006, Yadima went to the Hijas de Galicia Hospital with contractions, however, since her due date was January 19th the gynecologists sent her home. She went back on January 23rd with new contractions, she was again sent home because of a lack of beds. Upon leaving the hospital, a family friend who is also a doctor recommended that she return on the 26th, he would attend her during his shift. She returned that day to the maternity ward; five days later she was recognized and monitored by doctors but none of them realized she was past her due date. On the 30th her water broke in front of the attending doctor who recommended she sleep because she was not dilated.

Yadima did not dilate. She cried and the baby struggled to be born. The next morning another gynecologist put her on the monitor and the machines began to make noise. The baby’s heart was failing. The doctors decided to perform an emergency Cesarean. Her baby was alive and cyanotic (his skin was blue due to lack of oxygen). Three weeks later they returned home where Yadima discovered that the child could not hold up his head. “He’ll do it later” the specialists told her at her first appointment.

Four years later her baby requires special care to hold up his head, he does not walk, does not chew or have control of his sphincter and suffers from spasms in his hands and feet. He requires physical therapy and medications that are not accessible to Yadima and her family. Solutions are not available at the local clinics or the Julito Dias and Pedro Borras because the specialists and technicians are being sent on medical missions to other countries.

The tragedy of Yadima and her child, Ernesto Arias Evora, is worse because of their living conditions. They live with 11 family members in a small run down house with dirt floors and cement roof. She requested aid from government organizations such as the Administrative Council and the Housing and Health Directorate. After interviews and visits from officials and social workers who “elevated the case”, she wrote the State Council.

Yadima Evora Casales cannot work and waits for aide. She and her child were victims of medical negligence and are being bounced around by officials that have led her to believe they have solved her problem with a check for 158 pesos a month–the equivalent of 6 cuc, not enough for food and medicine.

This mother asks the government agencies for a wheelchair with head support, a blender to make meals for the child, diapers, a bed and medicine. She dreams of a room with ventilation, a bathroom and a kitchen to ease the plight of her child. She is still waiting.

She was told by Joel L. Carbonell that she must combine her plea with the demand, since article 26 of the Cuban Constitution allows for “reparation and compensation” for damages caused by State agents and officials. She also learned about the rules for the protection of children and youth and the obligations assumed by the island’s government when they agreed to the terms of the Instruments for Human Rights and the Conventions of Children’s’ rights.

Translated by: Lita Q.

September 8, 2010

The New Silk Road / Rebeca Monzo

This is not about Marco Polo. This is about a great 90-year-old woman. She lives in New Zealand, and is a great artist and wonderful person. She loves to share her art, so she travels long distances to demonstrate her creations and give free workshops.

Three years ago I had the honor of meeting her and the privilege of being her student.

According to what my friend who introduced us told me, she met Betty when she came to my planet as a tourist. Immediately, she empathized when my friend and a beautiful friendship resulted. From there the idea to return was born, but instead of returning as a tourist, she returned as a teacher. She assigned my friend the task of choosing a small group of friends who would be interested in learning her trade…I was one of the lucky chosen ones.

When the teacher arrived, with a lot of materials and white silk, the only thing she needed was a space. This is when our troubles began. We spoke with the authorities in our municipality and asked if they could provide a place for our workshops. When we explained what it involved and that it was completely free of charge, they accepted us.

The long-awaited day came and we went to the “House of Culture” carrying our materials and silk weaving panels with enthusiasm. Upon arriving to the location we were turned away because our teacher was foreign. Completely embarrassed, we called around to find someone who could help us. Finally, we found a dirty and practically abandoned location. We had to improvise tables and sit on boxes. Our teacher, who was 87-years-old (she celebrated her birthday while she was with us) adapted well without any complaints and introduced, with all the love that only a true teacher has, her beautiful world of silk.

Now, three years later, while travelling such great distances, she has returned to teach us the ins and outs of silk painting. This time we improvised our workshop in the garage of the building where I live. With her love and dedication she has marked a new silk road.

Translated by: Lita Q.

August 24, 2010

Polish Culture in Cuba / Eugenio Leal

The 58th edition of “Poland Today”, a periodical written and edited by the Polish Embassy in Havana, is already in libraries and national institutions. It is structured in specific sections such as current events, culture, politics, the Man and society, economics, science and Polish cooking. It is published three times a year, the 58th edition is the second of 2010.

In the January-March issue we learned about the celebration for the 200 year anniversary of Polish composer and pianist Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) who is considered one of the greatest creators of music for the piano of all time.

As part of the festivities honoring the musician, the Wielki-Opera Ponznan theater put on a show titled “Waiting for Chopin” at the San Felipe de Neri church. The show is inspired by the desire to visit and present little known works of the composer; his poor state of health prevented him from traveling to many countries.

The performance also welcomed the exhibit titled “Chopin in Cuba” which includes nine portraits of the artist by nine contemporary Cuban painters. The exhibit had already been shown for the first time at the Amadeo Roldan Theater during Frank Fernandez’s concert, which inaugurated the Chopin Year in Cuba.

The Numismatic Museum was able to present the “Numismatic Exhibit” due to a loan from the Polish Mint. The exhibit included the institution’s most interesting coins. One could see coins from Poland, Russia, Armenia and Andorra. The exhibit also included one of the smallest coins in the world, which weights a mere gram and holds a portrait of Frederick Chopin. Other novelties included pieces with encrusted amber and other precious metals and some that depict reproductions of famous paintings from Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci.

From the April-June edition of the bulletin we also learned about projects for public buildings in Poland, whose advanced technological design will make them paradigms of reference in the cities where they are erected.

In this latest edition, much to the dismay of Caribbean male chauvinism, we found out about an activist for male rights. This person has a unique way of making his claims. With a long beard and a machista attitude, without being a homosexual or a transvestite, he dresses in a petticoat and high heels, even inside his home. And so he makes fun of the stereotypes associated with the male gender in society.

The relationship between Poland and Cuba can be traced back to the 19th century. Let’s remember that Carlos Roloff from Poland participated in our independence struggles and reached the rank of general. Later, when the Republic was formed he was conferred Cuban citizenship.

In keeping with this historical precedent, every year Poland organizes a week of cinema in Cuba which includes exhibits, conferences, theater workshops and other events. Their socio-cultural projects are a valuable contribution to the development and consolidation of civil society in our country.

Translated by: Lita Q.

August 31, 2010

The Conciliatory Cat / Rebeca Monzo

To my granddaughters abroad.

One cold night in November, I was awaken by the cry of a kitten. I tried to tell myself, “calm down, tomorrow you will see where it is”. Impossible, I could not find sleep.

I covered myself with a sweater, grabbed a lantern and conquering my fears, climbed down from the third floor to see what was happening around the building. I found nothing, but the cries continued, becoming stronger every time.

I went up the stairs and awoke my husband so he could help me look through our garage. We searched through all the artifacts we have accumulated with our neighbors, until, finally, we saw a pair of flashes behind a car tire that then disappeared. I ran up the stairs and heated up some milk in a bowl. Soon, a tiny black cat with white paw tips appeared with a bright star on its forehead, like a proud steed. It devoured the milk immediately and the cries ceased. We returned to our apartment so that early in the morning we could feed the kitten again and try to get it used to us.

Soon we confirmed one more time that “love enters through the kitchen”. In the following days we repeated our operation until the kitten began to trust us. We discovered that it was a she, thus she needed even more protection. Just like in “El Principito“, we were domesticated by a black cat which we named Wampy. We removed her fleas. At seven months we neutered her, protecting her further. Soon that tiny animal won all of the neighbors’ affection, who have become her god-parents. Our relationship with them, which used to be very severed, improved since her appearance. Even though the cat is ours–we are responsible for feeding her and visits to the vet–she spends hours visiting with our neighbors, who narrate cat stories as if they were referring to a young family member

Translated by: Lita Q.

August 7, 2010