Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dissidents detained in Cuba: rights group

Dissidents detained in Cuba: rights group

Cuban government opponent Elizardo Sanchez, pictured in 2009. Dozens of
opposition activists have been detained in Cuba over the past five
weeks, an outlawed rights group said on Tuesday, blaming President Raul
Castro for the crackdown

Dozens of opposition activists have been detained in Cuba over the past
five weeks, an outlawed rights group said on Tuesday, blaming President
Raul Castro for the crackdown.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, known
by its Spanish acronym CCDHRN, said at least 65 men and women have been
arrested by secret police, 29 of whom remain in custody in the Americas'
only one-party Communist-ruled nation.

"For five weeks the government has carried out violent political
repression against women and other peaceful dissidents" in Santiago de
Cuba province in the south of the island, according to a statement
signed by the rights group's founder and spokesman Elizardo Sanchez.

"Most were totally unarmed and suffered acts of police brutality," it added.

According to the statement, several members of the "Ladies in White"
group comprising wives and relatives of political prisoners were "beaten
and arrested" on Sunday to prevent them joining a Mass in Santiago de Cuba.

A Ladies in White leader, Berta Soler, told AFP the group planned to
meet Cardinal Jaime Ortega in Havana on Tuesday, and would ask him to
intervene on behalf of dissidents, officially considered "mercenaries"
in the pay of the US government.

A US State Department spokesman said Washington was "troubled by reports
of increased violence by government-organized mobs against the Damas de
Blanco in Havana and Santiago de Cuba in recent weeks.

"The use of government-organized mobs to physically and verbally abuse
peaceful protesters is unconscionable," the US spokesman added, noting:
"We call for an immediate end to the harassment and violence committed
against the Damas de Blanco.

"We support the Cuban people?s desire to freely determine their own
future," the US spokesman added.

Cardinal Ortega's 2010 dialogue with Castro led to the release of 130
political prisoners, many of whom left Cuba for Spain with their relatives.

Meanwhile, the Cuban singer and songwriter Pablo Milanes -- who is on
tour in America -- hit out at the alleged mistreatment of Ladies in
White members, but said he did not share their negative views of the
government in Havana.

"When I see ladies in white dresses on the street who are protesting but
being harassed by men and women, I cannot help feeling ashamed and
indignant," he said in an open letter published in Miami's El Nuevo
Herald newspaper.

"Even though I do not agree with them at all I express solidarity with
them," the singer added of the wives, whose wearing of white clothes is
meant to symbolize peace.

The CCDHRN called on foreign governments and international human rights
groups to show "solidarity" with Cuban dissidents and urge Havana to end
its "abusive practices."

Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata died in Cuba on February 23, 2010 on the
85th day of his hunger strike. His death at the age of 42 drew global
attention to the plight of political dissidents in Cuba.

New rumors of Fidel Castro's death circulate among Cuban exiles and online

New rumors of Fidel Castro's death circulate among Cuban exiles and online
Source: (AHN) Reporter: Matthew Borghese
31, 2011 06:33 am EDT

A new round of rumors says former Cuban President and revolutionary
Communist Fidel Castro has passed away at his home in Havana. The rumors
have spread online through microblogging site Twitter and among the
Cuban exile community in south Florida.

A spam e-mail has circulated falsely tracing the news back to Chilean
news agency, but the site has as of yet made no such
statement involving Fidel's death. Nonetheless, sources within the Cuban
exile community in Miami confirm to AHN that they are aware of the
rumors and are continuing to monitor the situation through their
contacts on the island and in Washington.

Fidel's official Twitter account has had a recent flood of activity, yet
it is impossible to verify if the 85-year-old former president actually
made the posts himself. The tweets, posted in Spanish, were links to
news articles involving Cuba and did not address the health rumors.

Rumors of Fidel's death sent jubilant Cuban-Americans into the streets
of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood in 2006 and again in 2007. The
rumors were centered around Fidel's poor health and were the result of
Cuba's secretive Communist regime where his health is a state secret. It
wasn't until July 31, 2006 that Fidel issued a public proclamation
transferring power to his younger brother, Raul.

In February 2008, Fidel officially resigned as President of Cuba after
serving 51 years in office. The peaceful transition solidified the
80-year-old Raul's control over the government, where he remains the
current president. Fidel dispelled rumors he had died in secrecy with
several photo shoots throughout the years, as well as a public
appearance in 2009.

Petition launches to free Alan Gross from Cuba

Petition launches to free Alan Gross from Cuba
08/31/2011 14:40

DC Jewish Community Relations Council petition appeals to Cuba's
leadership to release Gross before Rosh Hashana.

An online petition to free the Jewish American contractor Alan Gross
garnered almost 1,000 signatures in its first day.

The petition launched Monday appeals to Cuba's leadership to release
Gross on humanitarian grounds before the High Holidays begin with Rosh
Hashana on Sept. 29. Gross, 62, is serving a 15-year prison sentence in
Cuba for "crimes against the state" for distributing laptop computers
and connecting Cuban Jews to the Internet.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington sponsored
the petition.

Gross was arrested in 2009 as he was leaving Cuba and accused of being a
spy. His appeal was rejected recently by the island nation's Supreme
Court, and now the only legal avenue left available is for the
commutation of his sentence by President Raul Castro.

Since his incarceration, Gross reportedly has lost approximately 100
pounds and is suffering from partial paralysis, as well as other
ailments. His daughter has breast cancer and his mother was diagnosed
with cancer as well.

The petition:

A small taste of Arab spring in Cuba

A small taste of Arab spring in Cuba
Posted: 08/31/2011 1:00 AM

AN extraordinary event occurred in Havana last week. Four women staged a
brief protest against the Castro regime on the steps of the Capitol
building and a host of onlookers quickly gathered. The surprise came
when police showed up to arrest the protesters, members of the Rosa
Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights, and the crowd suddenly erupted
with taunts and jeers.

Sueltalas, carajo! (Let them go, damn it!), yelled an angry bystander.
Others called the police shameless (descarados) and hurled epithets. The
crowd did not try to stop the detentions, but they had no qualms about
calling Castro's thugs by the names they richly deserved -- bullies and

This is something new in Cuba. By the standards of, say, the Arab
Spring, the event may not seem like a lot. But by the standards of Cuba,
where tension and discontent with a half-century of dictatorship have
been unable to find a powerful voice, it represents a daring show of
defiance, all the more so because it was spontaneous.

It is virtually unprecedented for a random group of Cubans to take sides
with protesters, openly and fearlessly, when the police make a show of
force. The only acceptable role for the people in the Castro playbook is
to support the regime, do as they're told, and otherwise be quiet. No
defiance is tolerated.

Everyone in Cuba knows that departing from this script can bring the
state's wrath down on them.

Precisely because Castro's agents have perfected the police-state tactic
of nipping protest in the bud, any open manifestation usually comes to
nothing. The regime's durability is a testament to the effectiveness of
police state.

But if the onlookers this time were unwilling to join the protesters'
repeated cries of "liberty," they were quick to jump in verbally to
support the women's right to express themselves.

Most Cubans may be hesitant to join a protest, but they understand
intuitively that everyone has civil rights the state can't deny,
including the all-powerful right to voice their ideas openly. In Cuba,
where the communist government has robbed people of all their rights,
this development is something for the regime to fear.

Also important: The video shows many in the crowd holding up cellphones
to record the protest and arrests. As it has done on so many fronts, the
regime has been effective in limiting access to the Internet and other
technology, but it can't stop progress.

That's the reason American Alan Gross, who was delivering satellite
phone technology to the tiny Jewish community in Cuba, sits in a Cuban
jail. Technology is a threat to the dictatorship because it serves as a
venue for communication, and the state finds it impossible to impose
rigid control. What a nightmare for Fidel and Raul, because you know
what happens when people start talking to each other without Big Brother
listening in. Pretty soon they start getting wild notions about freedom
and then...

Cuba may be a long way from there. But maybe, 10 years after Pope John
Paul II told Cubans not to be afraid; they are finally finding their voice.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2011 A13

Cuba's Pro-Freedom 'Resistance' Movement Is Growing

Cuba's Pro-Freedom 'Resistance' Movement Is Growing
Aramis L. Perez
August 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

As attention focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, where
protesters have taken to the streets to demand political change, some
wonder whether Cuba will follow suit. A closer look at the island, where
freedom fighters wage a nonviolent struggle against a regime desperate
to conceal the effectiveness such methods have met during the "Arab
Spring," reveals good news: a big story that cuts through the bleak
reality of 52 years of totalitarian rule and the media noise fueled by
pro-regime talking points.

The island's growing pro-freedom Resistance, a movement of brave
activists who defend Cubans' basic liberties and fight for democracy, is
making gains that are impossible to ignore. Their civic resistance
actions, including increasingly bold demonstrations in highly visible
public places, are garnering greater support from the man on the street.
The Resistance has the courage to speak what is on the country's mind.

Testimony from longtime activists and new video footage making its way
out of the island confirm that something new is happening: more and
more, ordinary Cubans are overcoming the climate of fear created by
systematic surveillance and repression, firing squad executions,
political imprisonment and torture to support Resistance members who
proclaim a pro-freedom message on Cuban streets. This is happening in a
situation which finds Cubans at a disadvantage in comparison to
conditions in some "Arab Spring" countries: Cuba is a single-party
Communist state with centralized control over the economy and people's
livelihoods, the regime denies Internet access to all but a chosen
elite, mobile phone penetration is very low, telephony is monitored, and
all independent media is illegal.

Case in point: a daring protest in Havana on Tuesday, August 23, 2011,
first reported by the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of
pro-democracy groups in Cuba and abroad, and video of which quickly made
its way online thanks to independent Havana-based news agency Hablemos

Four women, members of the island-wide National Civic Resistance and
Civil Disobedience Front, as well as the Rosa Parks Women's Movement for
Civil Rights, ascended the granite steps of Havana's historic Capitol
Building. It is a majestic, neoclassical structure that housed the
Congress of the Republic of Cuba before the totalitarian takeover in 1959.

These valiant ladies, Sara Martha Fonseca Quevedo, Tania Maldonado
Santos, Odalys Caridad Sanabria Rodríguez and Mercedes García Alvarez,
wore black, a symbol of mourning for their country and those fallen in
pursuit of freedom. They paused about one-third of the way up and
unfurled a white banner bearing words of hope and courage: "Freedom,
justice, and democracy… DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP."

There, before crowds of Cubans and foreigners making their way through
the broad space before the Capitol where tourists often pause for
snapshots of bicycle taxis or old American cars, camcorders and mobile
phone cameras captured the sight of four Cuban women publicly
demonstrating for freedom.

For at least half an hour they made their stand, borne above the crowds
by stones that once buttressed Cuban democracy.

"We all are the Resistance! The streets belong to the people! Freedom!
Freedom! Freedom!" they chanted, as onlookers watched.

Their actions brought to mind the words of former Czech President and
anti-communist resistance fighter Vaclav Havel, who wrote that when a
person breaks the rules of a Communist state and does not obey the
regime's demand in silent conformity, he chooses to "live in truth," an
essential step in opposing the crushing power of that system.

As you can see in the accompanying video, after a time, a single man,
assumed to be a plainclothes officer of the feared State Security force,
attempted to drive the women from their chosen ground, but they clutched
their banner and sat.

Real Cuban voices, belonging to persons who chose to live in truth on
that sun-drenched morning, shouted at the regime's man. "Bully, Abuser!
Let them go!" Facing a crowd that had suddenly lost its fear, the regime
thug balked, and conferred with three additional plainclothes agents,
returning after a time with uniformed male officers who manhandled and
dragged the women away amid jeers and whistles of contempt for the
oppressors from those witnessing the scene.

The women were detained, beaten, and threatened, but vowed to continue
their struggle for freedom. The regime, meanwhile, continues to lash
out, using systematic violence to maintain its hold on power. It has of
late increased its repression against women, including the well-known
Ladies in White who march on Sundays after Mass for the release of all
political prisoners.

The protest at the Capitol and the people's support for the activists,
are proof that open support for the Cuban Resistance is growing among
the people at large. Their strategy, nonviolent civic resistance, has
proven effective against oppressive regimes. Their friends and allies
abroad work actively to spread news of their struggle and provide support.

The big story in 2011 Cuba is that freedom is on the march, and it is
very good news.

Aramis Perez is a member of the Secretariat for the Assembly of the
Cuban Resistance. You can follow him on Twitter @AramisLPerez.

Ros-Lehtinen: Cuba Heading UN Disarmament Panel 'Ludicrous'

Ros-Lehtinen: Cuba Heading UN Disarmament Panel 'Ludicrous'
Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011 08:40 AM
By T.M. Golub

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, calls Cuba taking over the rotating presidency of the United
Nations Conference on Disarmament "ludicrous." Cuba succeeded North
Korea on the panel.

"It's hard to fathom a more ludicrous image than Kim Jong Il passing the
chair of the Conference on Disarmament to the Castro brothers, but
that's what passes for change at the U.N.," said Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

"Cuba will no doubt exploit its presidency of the Conference on
Disarmament to distract from the increasing threat of proliferation
posed by its allies Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and to instead
castigate free democracies like the United States and Israel," she said.

Ros-Lehtinen is set to introduce an updated version of the United
Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, which she first
introduced in 2007. The measure seeks to base further United States
funding of the U.N. on sweeping reforms.

Cuban forces crack down on protests

Cuban forces crack down on protests
Published: Aug. 30, 2011 at 9:20 PM

PALMA SORIANO, Cuba, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Cuban opposition activists say
State Security agents used tear gas in a raid against dissidents and
beat dissident women in Santiago province.

"The riot squad came into the house like it was a commando movie,
because that's never been seen in Cuba," said Yulie Valverde, whose
husband was detained with 26 other dissidents during the raid Sunday on
a home in the town of Palma Soriano, The Miami Herald reported.

Sunday's raid was the latest in response to a series of unusually strong
protests that have prompted violent police crackdowns by the communist
government in Cuba. The latest reports come from dissidents and their
relatives, the Herald said, since foreign journalists in Havana have
reported nothing and the Cuban government has refused comment.

As 27 men gathered in a house in Palma Soriano to prepare to protest
police abuses, security forces sprayed tear gas in the door and windows
and arrested them, taking them away in a bus, witnesses said.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, a dissident who said he watched part of the raid
from a distance so he could report on the event, said a fire truck was
deployed during the raid, apparently to use water hoses for crowd
control if needed.

Cuba seeks South African funding for medical projects

Cuba seeks South African funding for medical projects

South Africa should join a Cuban-Norwegian medical aid project in Haiti,
Cuban officials suggested during an annual bilateral meeting Aug. 30 in

A Cuban expert delegation visited Norway in September 2010, to talk
about joint relief work in Haiti and cooperation in natural disaster
prevention and response. In October 2010, the Scandinavian country
provided 5 million Norwegian kronor ($850,000) to Cuban relief efforts
in Haiti. Cuba is using the Norwegian contribution — the second after a
$850,000 check in January — for the purchase of drugs and medical
equipment for its 930-member medical brigade in Haiti.

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said during the
Joint Consultative Mechanism meeting in Havana that he appreciated
services Cuba provides in his own country.

"The deployment of architects, engineers, doctors and technical experts
throughout the country rendering service to South African citizens bears
testimony to Cuba's commitment," Ebrahim said, according to South
African government agency BuaNews.

During the bilateral meeting, officials also talked about South African
aid for Cuban medical projects elsewhere in Africa. South Africa has
provided several million dollars to support the presence of Cuban
doctors in Mali and Rwanda, and funded Cuban-designed anti-malaria
campaigns in Ghana and Tanzania.

"Possibilities for further similar projects are being explored," BuaNews
said, without providing details.

Cuba has deployed 1,831 medical personnel in Africa, and provided full
scholarships to 2,299 medical students from 48 African countries,
according to Ebrahim.

Cuba's medical expertise in disaster and poverty zones is unique in the
world. An increasing number of wealthier countries outsource their aid
efforts to Cuba.

Dissident women in Cuba want government harassment halted

Posted on Tuesday, 08.30.11

Dissident women in Cuba want government harassment halted

The Ladies in White want the church to intercede on behalf of dissidents
in eastern Cuba, who have been harassed by government-organized mobs.
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuba's dissident Ladies in White met with an aide to Catholic Cardinal
Jaime Ortega on Tuesday to lay out their concerns over the recent
government crackdowns on their supporters and other activists in the
eastern province of Santiago.

"Our principal worry is to stop the beatings and harassments against the
Ladies in White in all of Cuba, but also that there's been too much
violence against other peaceful opposition activists," said Ladies in
White spokeswoman Berta Soler.

Soler said that she, Ladies in White leader Laura Pollán and her
daughter Laura Maria met at the office of the Havana archdiocese with
Msgr. Ramón Suarez Polcari, in charge of non-religious affairs, and
media spokesman Orlando Márquez.

Soler said the women had expected to meet with Ortega but were told he
had returned on Thursday from a busy trip to Spain and was still
recuperating. The women were not put off by his absence, she added.

Polcari "received our concerns and will relay them to the cardinal, who
will be in touch with the government and bring us back an answer," she
told El Nuevo Herald by phone just after the 80-minute meeting.

Ortega interceded with Cuban ruler Raúl Castro last spring, when
government-organized mobs attacked the Ladies in White as they marched
after Sunday mass in Havana to demand the release of political
prisoners. The harassments quickly stopped.

But members and supporters of the Ladies in White in eastern Cuba faced
renewed harassments as they tried to establish their right to attend
Sunday masses at the cathedral in Santiago, the island's second-largest
city, and stage street march afterwards.

Women activists in and around Santiago have complained of police
beatings, sexual harassments and detentions of one or two days to keep
them from reaching the cathedral.

Police also used tear gas and deployed a riot control unit on Sunday to
block a planned protest march in the nearby town of Palma Soriano. The
27 men arrested in that incident were last reported still in police custody.

Soler said the Havana Ladies in White have been asking to meet with
Ortega since July 18 to complain about the violence in eastern Cuba.
When they were called to Tuesday's meeting, they expected to meet with
him but were not specifically told he would be there.

"As human beings we understand that he's recuperating,' she said. Even
if he had attended the meeting, Soler added, he would not have been able
to provide immediate answers to the women's concerns.

The women have previously met with Ortega or Suarez Polcari or both
Suarez Polcari and Marquez, she added.

Human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, meanwhile, condemned
the recent repression in a statement Tuesday and said he was convinced
they were "ordered or approved by Gen. Raúl Castro himself."

Sanchez described the crackdown as "violent acts of political repression
against women and other peaceful dissidents," and said that most of the
men and women detained in recent weeks "suffered diverse acts of police

He also urged human rights organizations and activists abroad as well as
democratic governments to express their support for the victims of
political repression in Cuba and call on the Havana government to stop
the abuses.

In Washington, a spokesperson said the State Department was "concerned"
about the "growing violence by government-organized mobs" in recent
weeks against the peaceful Cuban protesters.

"We urge an immediate halt to the harassment and violence against the
Ladies in White," a department spokesperson told the AFP news agency.
"We support the wish of Cubans to freely determine their future."

Havana dissident Martha Beatriz Roque wrote to her parish priest urging
him to push his church superiors so they would press government
authorities to observe the women's right to attend mass at the Santiago

State Security agents have told some of the women dissidents in eastern
Cuba that only those who are practicing Catholics would be allowed to
attend mass at the cathedral, Roque wrote to The Rev. Santiago Martínez
at her neighborhood San Juan Bosco church.

Cuban singer Milanes blasts attacks on dissidents

Posted on Tuesday, 08.30.11

Cuban singer Milanes blasts attacks on dissidents
AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

MIAMI -- Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanes has criticized harassment
of a leading Cuban dissident group, saying insults and obscenities
hurled by pro-government crowds at the so-called Ladies in White during
their protest marches are "vile" and "cowardly."

In an open letter published Tuesday in Miami's El Nuevo Herald, Milanes
said one may not agree with the dissident group, but he disapproves of
how they've been treated at times by rowdy government supporters. The
public comments drew attention for their outspokenness and came just
days after the Havana resident and two-time Grammy winner performed his
first concert in Miami, before several thousand people.

"When I see that some women dressed in white protest in the street and
are mistreated by men and women, I cannot help but be ashamed and
indignant," the 68-year-old singer wrote in Tuesday's letter, referring
to the group.

Milanes, one of the celebrated founders of Cuba's "nueva trova" musical
movement, has long maintained he is loyal to the Cuban Revolution. But
he has at times advocated for more freedoms on the island and been
critical of the government. In 2010, he publicly backed a dissident
hunger striker who was demanding the release of political prisoners.

The Ladies in White formed in 2003, following the arrest of 75
dissidents, many of whom have since been freed and left communist Cuba.
The women, who seek march weekly, are appealing for more political
freedoms and the release of remaining dissident prisoners there.

Usually, the protests are quiet and uneventful, but on occasion large
crowds come out and taunt the women with shouts of "Worms!" and "Get
out!" Cuban officials insist that the counter-protests are spontaneous,
though state security officials are normally present.

"The most vile and cowardly thing is for a horde of supposed
revolutionaries to ruthlessly attack these women," Milanes wrote. This
"does not mean I disagree with Fidel (Castro), nor does it mean I agree
with the Ladies in White."

Dissidents have increasingly complained of harassment and rough
treatment in recent weeks, including the reported weekend arrest of more
two-dozen people in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba, including
members of a local chapter of Ladies in White.

Cuban state media, which rarely mention dissident groups except to
accuse the dissidents of being "mercenaries" hired by Washington, have
not reported any arrests, and the accounts could not be independently
confirmed. Exile groups in Miami said relatives of those arrested over
the weekend were planning sit-ins.

Milanes is most famous for ballads such as "Yolanda", which he performed
in Miami on Aug. 27.

In the letter published Tuesday, Milanes also said he was saddened and
embarrassed by what he views as a "complicit silence" among fellow
artists and others who are afraid to openly criticize the government.

"Upon my return to Havana," Milanes wrote, "I say to the Cuban
intellectuals, to the artists, to the musicians, and to the high-level
state officials, don't whisper in my ear: "I'm with you but...."

There was no immediate government response in Havana to Milanes' letter.

His comments about the Ladies in White came in response to a column last
week by journalist Edmundo Garcia, who co-hosts a Miami radio show with
a charter flight company owner who is one of the foremost advocates of
travel to Cuba.

Garcia criticized Milanes for telling U.S. media he sympathized with the
Ladies in White and was no longer a "Fidelista." Garcia also mocked the
singer for failing to criticize the exile community and for eschewing
pro-revolutionary songs when he performed in Miami.

About 200 hard-line Cuban exiles, who have long considered Milanes a
supporter of Fidel and Raul Castro, picketed his Miami performance.
Meanwhile, some on the left have questioned the revolutionary
credentials of someone who dares to criticize the government.

"My 53 years of revolutionary militancy give me the right, which very
few exercise in Cuba, to express myself with the freedom that my
principles require," Milanes wrote. "That freedom means I have no mortal
commitment to the Cuban leaders, whom I have admired and respected. But
they are not gods and I am no fanatic, and when I feel I can make a
criticism and say no, I say so without fear or reservations."

Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ya Viene Llegando (It's On Its Way) / Rebeca Monzo

Ya Viene Llegando (It's On Its Way) / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Ya Viene LLegando

That's how the lyrics go of a great song by Willy Chirino, the great
pinareño (referring to the Isle of Pines) composer, very well-known
among us, in spite of the fact that on our beloved planet it's
prohibited to play his work in the media.

It seems that the final judgment is on its way for all of the tyrants.
Mr. Gaddafi has but a few hours to face his.

Who was to say that a man, who is despised as a human being, now has a
bounty of a few million dollars on his head. I wouldn't want to be in
his skin. He's probably hiding, like his neighbor in Iraq, until they
find him in a cave, seeking refuge. I think that this guy, wherever he
goes, sooner or later will be found and justice will be served for the
multitude of deaths caused by his obsession to maintain power no matter
the cost.

I want to extend my sincere condolences to the Libyan people, for deaths
on both sides, since all have been victims of tyranny. My wish is that
peace, supported by a government elected by the people, will come to
them so that they may recuperate from the horrors of a civil war.

August 26 2011

Ex-Police Official in Same Jail as His Victim's Brother / Laritza Diversent

Ex-Police Official in Same Jail as His Victim's Brother / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Ya Viene LLegando

Amado Interian, the former official of the Ministry of the Interior, who
shot Angel Izquierdo Medina, 14, while Mr. Medina was eating fruit from
a mamoncillo tree this past July 15th, is being held in the same prison
awaiting trial, as the victim's brother.

"They put him there so that my son can carry the rap for the murder he
didn't commit," affirmed Raiza Medina, mother of Izquierdo Medina,
referring to the authorities, when her eldest son informed her, from the
Valle Grande prison in Havana, that they had placed his brother's
assassin, in the same prison where he was being held.

"I am not healthy enough to withstand 20 more years, they know that a
death in there costs 20 years", said Raiza, who suffers from a chronic
renal insufficiency and fears for her eldest son, Roilan Herce Medina,
arrested, according to the family, for an alleged assault.

"I know that my son remains there and it's going to get complicated,
because one has to have very cold blood knowing that someone has
murdered your brother, seeing the assassin on a daily basis, and not
being able to do anything," she commented. Mrs. Medina thinks that the
authorities did it on purpose so that her son will react against Interian.

"They are finding an excuse so that later they will be able to take him
(Mr. Medina) out of there and put him in his son's house, who is an
assembly deputy and who is doing everything possible to put the land
where his father killed my son, in his father's name."

"Maybe they are only looking for one or another of them to seek revenge
and take justice into their own hands", said the maternal grandmother of
Angel Izquierdo. Many of the residents of Mantilla, where the young
Izquierdo lived and where Amado Interian practiced as Chief of the
police sector, are serving sentences or awaiting trial in the same

According to information given to the victim's mother by Major Maikel
Nuviola, the preliminary investigations into her son's death are
inconclusive due to a lack of statements by two witnesses who
accompanied the young Mr. Izquierdo, that fateful day.

It was Mrs. Izquierdo who took a second set of declarations made by the
two witnesses to the Department of Territorial Investigations, on 100th
and Aldabo, because the first statements taken the day of the killing,
were lost at a police station in Capri. Additionally, the present
statements have not yet reached the hands of the District Attorney
because he is on vacation.

Regarding the alleged cause of death, acute anemia, certified by the
authorities, the victim's mother affirmed, that the investigator on the
case and the state institution, confirmed to her that the bullet shot by
Interian entered her son's body from the left side, destroyed the
femoral artery, crossed through his kidneys and liver, then lodged
itself in the lung, causing the youth's death almost instantly.

Translated by Ya Viene LLegando

August 22 2011

Gimme Cable! / Yoani Sánchez

Gimme Cable! / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

Some of the boredom of the year 1983 was broken by the visit of Oscar
D'Leon and his performance at the Varadero amphitheater. Amid the
tedium, he came to the Island of the Salsa Devil, to interpret with his
voice our own son classics. Along with the shout of "siguaraya!"* which
he launched in honor of the banned Celia Cruz, the most memorable part
of his visit was the request, "Gimme cable," which he repeated over and
over during his concerts. He tugged on the microphone while demanding
that the technician "Gimme cable, gimme cable" as he plunged into the
dancing crowds, overcome by his music. On his departure he left us that
phrase which became a metaphor for demanding freedom. "Gimme cable," the
kids would say when the parents demanded they cut their manes or get rid
of the tight paints. "Gimme cable," demanded the illegal vendor when the
police confiscated his merchandise. "Gimme cable," asked the husband,
when the wife went through his pockets, consumed by jealousy.

The expression slept in some corner of my mind and has reemerged with
the "appearance on the scene" of the fiber optic cable between Venezuela
and Cuba. Promised since 2008, it only made it to our coast this last
February, and then lapsed into a silence quite suspicious for an effort
that already cost more than seventy million dollars. At first it was
announced it would multiply the data transmission speed by 3,000 times,
but now, absurdly, they declare that it won't provide broad Internet
access to nationals. After accumulating several corruption scandals, the
investigation of two deputy ministers, and official guidance to
journalists not to talk about the details, the controversial cable has
now become an urban legend. Some assure us that they've seen it, touched
it, and say it's already providing service to a few people. Others
assert that it's just a smokescreen to placate the discontent of the
disconnected Cuban Internauts.

The truth is that not a single kilobyte flowing through its modern
fibers has yet reached our computers. The prices for surfing the web
from the hotels continue to be prohibitive and the connections there
suffer from a slowness that borders on fraud. Not only that, the assault
on the social networks — such as Facebook and Google — has intensified
in State workplaces. In a desperate act to make us believe that this
phantom umbilical cord between Santiago de Cuba and La Güaira, Venezuela
really exists, Deputy Minister Boris Moreno swore a few days ago that it
would be working in the coming months. But many of us feel like that
Venezuelan singer trying to reach his Cuban public despite the controls
of the "sound technician." Gimme cable! we ask and demand. Gimme cable!
we think… as in that old metaphor for freedom.

Translator's note:
The siguaraya is a Cuban bush — considered an orisha in the Santeria
religion — which figures in the the title of a famous song, Mata
Siguaraya, sung by Celia Cruz and others. The expression "this is the
country of the siguaraya" means "anything is possible here." Starting
about 3:00 minutes in this video you can see Oscar D'Leon in Varadero
trying to get a longer cable, and, at 3:30 you can hear him singing
"dame cable" (give me cable) over and over, and watch with the efforts
of several sound technicians to meet his demand.

New Nuncios in Japan, Cuba

New Nuncios in Japan, Cuba
And Other Appointments, Including in South Africa

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 29, 2011 ( Benedict XVI named Archbishop
Joseph Chennoth as the apostolic nuncio in Japan and Archbishop Bruno
Musarò as the nuncio in Cuba.

Archbishop Chennoth, 67, is a native of India. He has served as nuncio
in the Central African Republic, Chad and Tanzania.

Archbishop Bruno Musarò, 63, is a native of Italy. He has served as
nuncio in Panama, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, Guatemala,
and most recently in Peru.


In the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Bishop Michael Gower
Coleman, 72, has resigned and Father James Brendan Deenihan has been
named the apostolic administrator.

Archbishop Karl Hesse has resigned from the Archdiocese of Rabaul in
Papa New Guinea. He is being succeeded by the coadjutor, Archbishop
Francesco Panfilo.

In Slovakia, Bishop Štefan Sečka has been named the bishop of the
Diocese of Spis. He succeeds Bishop František Tondra.

And in Haiti, Bishop Chibly Langlois has been moved from the Diocese of
Fort-Liberte to the Diocese of Les Cayes.

ZE11082904 - 2011-08-29

Cubans may finally get to buy new cars

Aug 29, 2011

Cubans may finally get to buy new cars
By Chris Woodyard, USA

After decades of having to try to keep 1950s American cars running,
Cubans may finally get to a chance to buy new cars.

Early next year, Cuban authorities plan to loosen restrictions and make
it easier for private citizens to buy or sell modern cars, the Detroit
Free Press reports.

By Ellen Creager, GANNETT
The change may open the trade door to more Chinese, Korean and European
vehicles, those built in countries that have a trade relationship with
Cuba, unlike the U.S. Already, relatively new Chinese-made buses and
Chinese Geely taxicabs prowl Havana.

But as welcoming as the new Cuban policy may sound, the average citizen
will still have trouble getting a new car. There will be no private car
dealerships, the government will control how many cars are imported and
even if it didn't, most Cubans are so poor, they never could afford a
new car anyway.

That means they will continue to try to keep their mid-1950s American
cars running, whether it's with wire and tape, or with new engines under
the hood.

Dissidents say police used tear gas in a raid, beat women

Posted on Monday, 08.29.11

Dissidents say police used tear gas in a raid, beat women

For the first time in years, Cuban police used tear gas in a raid over
the weekend. Women also accuse police of beating and sexually harassing
them over.
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuban police used tear gas in a weekend raid against dissidents in
eastern Santiago province, where State Security agents also pummeled and
made obscene gestures at dissident women, opposition activists reported

"The riot squad came into the house like it was a commando movie,
because that's never been seen in Cuba," said YulieCQ Valverde, whose
husband was one of the 27 dissidents detained during the raid Sunday on
their home in the town of Palma Soriano.

It was the first time in recent memory that Cuba was reported to have
repressed political dissidents with tear gas and the riot squad, clad in
black uniforms and carrying gas masks, shields, helmets, riot batons and
tear gas launchers.

But Sunday's raid was only the latest in a string of reports of
unusually strong protests and violent police crackdowns in Cuba, where
the communist government has long kept an iron grip on domestic security.

The latest reports came from dissidents and their relatives, and there
was no way to independently confirm them. The government has not
commented on the weekend incidents, and foreign journalists in Havana
reported nothing about them.

Most of the recent incidents took place in Santiago, where members and
supporters of the Ladies in White have tried to gather Sundays at the
cathedral in the city of Santiago to attend mass and then stage street
marches demanding the release of all political prisoners.

The worst incident this weekend came in the town of Palma Soriano, 18
miles to the northwest, where 27 men had gathered Sunday at the home of
Marino Antomarchit for a street march protesting the violence against
the Ladies in White and other police abuses.

Before the men could hit the street, Valverde said, police sprayed tear
gas through the front door and windows and riot squad members in gas
masks rushed in, handcuffed the dissidents and took them away in a bus.

"It was like the end of the world," she said, adding that police also
broke up much of her home's furniture, tore up bedding, seized
documents, computers, cameras, cell phones, notebooks and some wallets
and ripped up some of the men's T-shirts, which displayed the word "Change."

Valverde and José Daniel Ferrer, a dissident who said he watched part of
the raid from a distance in order report on the event, told El Nuevo
Herald that a fire truck was deployed during the raid, apparently to use
its water hoses for crowd control if needed.

Ferrer said he also saw police drag away four or five neighbors who
shouted "bullies" and "murderers" at police. Antomarchit's asthmatic 2 ½
year old daughter, Stefhani, was overcome by the tear gas and evacuated
from the house through a window, he added.

The dissidents remained in police detention as of Monday evening, Ferrer
said, adding that he had also received reports that one of them, Ruben
de Armas Adrouver, was beaten by police and received five stitches on
his head.

Ladies in White supporter Caridad Caballero, meanwhile, alleged police
pummeled and sexually abused her and Marta Díaz Rondón on Saturday when
they tried to travel from their homes in Holguín to Santiago for Sunday

Halfway into the 66-mile trip, police and State Security agents stopped
their hired vehicle, dragged them out, shoved them into patrol cars and
took them to a police station in nearby Bayamo, she reported.

The police "were shouting at us the whole time, hitting us and making
signs and gestures with their fingers that were horrible, grabbing their
crotches, something sick, gross," Caballero told El Nuevo Herald by
phone from her home in Holguín.

State Security agents urged the police in Bayamo to strip-search them,
but the two women refused to take off their clothes, Caballero added.
Police freed them Sunday and drove them back to Holguín.

Ferrer also noted that top State security officers have been contacting
him with oddly mixed messages about his fellow Santiago dissidents.

"They told me to go slow, that I am losing some standing with people
that support me," he said, "but that they will jail as many people as
needed to keep this from spinning out of their control." He called the
contacts "a trick to halt the protests."

Also on Sunday, police allegedly beat and detained 13 members and
supporters of the Ladies in White who had gathered in a separate Palma
Soriano home for an attempt to travel to Santiago for mass at the cathedral.

The women were dragged into a bus that then dropped most of them off at
several different locations, said Berta Soler, a spokeswoman for the
Ladies in White. She was put on a bus back to her home in Havana, she
told El Nuevo Herald before her cell phone went dead. Some remained late
Monday in apparent detention.

Dissidents Guillermo Cobas Reyes and Agustin Magdariaga were also
detained Sunday in their hometown of El Caney, about four miles from
Santiago, according to reports from opposition activists in the province.

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez , a dissident in central Cuba also known as
"Antunez," also reported the weekend detentions of several opposition
figures in the eastern province of Camaguey and the westernmost province
of Pinar del Rio.

Seven of Cuba's best-known dissidents, meanwhile, issued a joint
statement Monday demanding an end to the violence against the Ladies in
White, their supporters and other peaceful dissidents.

"Stop the punches and other abuses!" said the statement by Ferrer,
Gisela Delgado Sablón, Guillermo Fariñas, René Gómez Manzano, Iván
Hernández Carrillo, Héctor Palacios Ruiz and Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.

Watertight Compartments / Yoani Sánchez

Watertight Compartments / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

There are days for separation and others for confluence. Times when it
seems that the strategy of confronting us is working, but also minutes
in which we manage to leap over the narrow limits within which they want
to enclose us. Last night was precisely one of those moments of probing,
of identification and exchange. In Estado de SATS–"Creating a Space for
the Confluence of Art and Thought in Cuba"–we find ourselves among
people of very diverse tendencies, such as the members of Omni Zona
Franca, the leader of the group Puños arriba (Fists Up), and the
organizers of the Rotilla Festival, recently hijacked by official
institutions. They spoke at a packed place, in the midst of the worst of
the August heat, and with a great need to understand why censorship has
been unleashed on them. I think that yesterday some brainy State
Security guy must have lost his job. Because among the hugs, questions,
swallows of tea, they exposed months and months of intrigues,
professionally sowed, to discredit those actors of civil society.

The method is simple and nothing new. They call someone and tell him its
not advisable to talk with someone else, to send him a simple text
message, to respond to a greeting. To justify this distancing, they
clarify that this hip hop musician, that blogger, or some music
producer, works for the CIA, or has been trained by the Pentagon. They
don't have to believe it, it's enough that the intimidation and fear
seep in and few will approach those stigmatized. To sustain such rivalry
it is essential to keep both parties away from each other, to not let
them meet and discover — surprise! — that neither of them has tentacles,
swastikas painted on their clothes, or a gun sticking out of their pockets.

So I enjoyed a hug from Luis Eligio, a resounding kiss from Raudel of
the Eskuadrón patriota (Patriot Squadron), the warm greetings from the
members of Matraka and Talento Cubano. I also listened to them as one
listens to a well-known story: the long suffering of the demonization
they have lived through in person. When the public was given the floor,
the asked them if they had been thrown into the same bag as the
protestors and what would happen to them from now on. Someone told that
since there were so many of us in that bag, the problem now was for
those who had been left outside of it. I went home happy, at the proof
of how ineffective the machinations of the political police are turning
out to be, how difficult it it is to keep everyone compartmentalized.

Monday, August 29, 2011

State of SATisfaction / Reinaldo Escobar

State of SATisfaction / Reinaldo Escobar
Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate as a spectator at the
most recent edition of the Estado de SATS event where a group of young
art promoters met to discuss alternative projects and censorship. The
presence of an attentive and respectful audience, despite the threats
that loomed from the authorities and their intentions to discredit a
narrow sector of the opposition, was significant.

It was made clear that anyone who intends to undertake any independent
project in the area of the arts will have to be willing to live with the
anguish of a permanent state of war. The institutions whose ultimate
goal is supposed to be promoting culture function as braking mechanisms,
not only in terms of their pretensions to audit content, but also
through the petty jealousies of their prominence.

In the year when the home-grown intellectuals have celebrated the
fiftieth anniversary of "the words to the intellectuals" many of them
have tried to clarify that maxim: "Within the Revolution, everything;
against the Revolution, nothing," does not mean a state of "being
outside" the Revolution, but only one of "being against it." However,
the testimonies expressed in this discussion clearly showed that the
process of institutionalization resulted in substitutions for the
elements of the equation, leaving an unspoken rule: "Within the
institutions some things; outside the institutions, nothing."

Nevertheless, the oppressive force of this rule has not achieved its
purpose of extinguishing the yearnings for freedom that dwell in the
natures of creative people. Sometimes through playing with ambiguous
language, other times appealing to clandestine tricks, or in some cases
openly defying the censors and repressors, numerous Cuban artists have
made their own a phrase attributed to José Martí: "He who is not able to
create, is not obliged to obey."

Castro vs. the Ladies in White


Castro vs. the Ladies in White

Rocks, iron bars and sticks are no match for the gladiolas and courage
of these peaceful Cuban protesters.

Rocks and iron bars were the weapons of choice in a government assault
on a handful of unarmed women on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba on
the afternoon of Aug. 7. According to a report issued by the Paris-based
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the beatings were
savage and "caused them injuries, some considerable."

It was not an isolated incident. In the past two months attacks on
peaceful women dissidents, organized by the state security apparatus,
have escalated. Most notable is the intensity with which the regime is
moving to try to crush the core group known as the Ladies in White.

This is not without risk to the regime, should the international
community decide to pay attention and apply pressure on the white-elite
regime the way it did in opposition to apartheid in South Africa. But
the decision to take that risk suggests that the 52-year-old
dictatorship in Havana is feeling increasingly insecure. The legendary
bearded macho men of the "revolution," informed by the trial of a caged
Hosni Mubarak in an Egyptian courtroom, apparently are terrified by the
quiet, prayerful, nonviolent courage of little more than 100 women. No
totalitarian regime can shrug off the fearless audacity these ladies
display, or the signs that their boldness is spreading.

The Castro brothers' goons are learning that they will not be easily
intimidated. Take, for example, what happened that same Aug. 7 morning
in Santiago: The women, dressed in white and carrying flowers, had
gathered after Sunday Mass at the cathedral for a silent procession to
protest the regime's incarceration of political prisoners. Castro
supporters and state security officials, "armed with sticks and other
blunt objects," according to FIDH, assaulted the group both physically
and verbally. The ladies were then dragged aboard a bus, taken outside
the city and dropped off on the side of a highway.

Some of them regrouped and ventured out again in the afternoon, this
time to hold a public vigil for their cause. That's when they were met
by another Castro onslaught. On the same day thugs set upon the homes of
former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer and another activist. Six
people, including Mr. Ferrer's wife and daughter, were sent to the
hospital with contusions and broken bones, according to FIDH.

The Ladies in White first came on the scene in the aftermath of the
infamous March 2003 crackdown in which 75 independent journalists and
librarians, writers and democracy advocates were rounded up and handed
prison sentences of six to 28 years. The wives, mothers and sisters of
some of them began a simple act of protest. On Sundays they would gather
at the Havana Cathedral for Mass and afterward they would march carrying
gladiolas in a silent call for the prisoners' release.

In 2005 the Ladies in White won Europe's prestigious Sakharov prize for
their courage. Cellphones that caught the regime's brutality against
them on video helped get their story out. By 2010 they had so
embarrassed the dictatorship internationally that a deal was struck to
deport their imprisoned loved ones along with their family to Spain.

But some prisoners refused the deal and some of the ladies stayed in
Cuba. Others joined them, calling themselves "Ladies in Support." The
group continued its processions following Sunday Mass in Havana, and
women on the eastern end of the island established the same practice in

Laura Pollan, whose husband refused to take the offer of exile in Spain
and was later released from prison, is a key member of the group. She
and her cohorts have vowed to continue their activism as long as even
one political prisoner remains jailed. Last week I spoke with her by
phone in Havana, and she told me that when the regime agreed to release
all of the 75, "it thought that the Ladies in White would disappear. Yet
the opposite happened. Sympathizers have been joining up. There are now
82 ladies in Havana and 34 in Santiago de Cuba." She said that the
paramilitary mobs have the goal of creating fear in order to keep the
group from growing. But the movement is spreading to other parts of the
country, places where every Sunday there are now marches.

This explains the terror that has rained down on the group in Santiago
and surrounding suburbs on successive Sundays since July and on other
members in Havana as recently as Aug. 18.

Last Tuesday, when four women dressed in black took to the steps of the
capitol building in Havana chanting "freedom," a Castro bully tried to
remove them. Amazingly, the large crowd watching shouted for him to
leave them alone. Eventually uniformed agents carried them off. But the
incident, caught on video, is evidence of a new chapter in Cuban
history, and it is being written by women. How it ends may depend
heavily on whether the international community supports them or simply
shields its eyes from their torment.

Write to O'


Increment of violent repressive acts escalates throughout the island
August 28, 2011

Forces of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior began acts of repression on
Friday, August 26, 2011, against human rights defenders in three cities
in Eastern Cuba to prevent the Ladies in White from attending mass at
the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba on Sunday. The cities of Palma
Soriano, Palmarito de Cauto and Santiago de Cuba were besieged by
paramilitary squads and "acts of repudiation" were carried out by
government instigated mobs against the homes of peaceful activists.

Ladies in White Caridad Caballero Batista and Marta Diaz Rondon were
dragged, beaten, sexually harassed, insulted and arrested on Saturday as
they were on their way to Palma Soriano. Caridad Caballero suffered a
fractured finger. Both women were released full of bruises from a police
station in Bayamo, August 28, 2011.

Also, this past Sunday in Palma Soriano, thirteen Ladies in White, who
were gathered in the home of Aimee Garces Leyva, were prevented from
going to the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba by State Security officers
who twisted their arms and beat them when they tried to go out into the
street. Tania Montoya's arm required medical assistance as a result of
the ill treatment. The 13 women were forced onto buses that left them at
undisclosed locations. The home of Garces Leyva was ransacked by
authorities. Among other women also involved were Belkys Cantillo, Oria
Casanova, Yaquelin Garcia, Gisel Escalona, and Berta Soler who had
traveled from Havana and whose whereabouts are unknown.
Around twenty five human rights activists, who were gathered at the home
of Marino Antomarchy, also in Palma Soriano, were brutally beaten by
armed riot troops, were overcome by teargas, and were violently arrested
late Sunday afternoon. Even neighbors who went to the aid of the
activists were gassed and arrested. Antomarchy's family, including a
young daughter, was also the victim of this attack. The home was
searched and authorities took a computer, mobile phones and documents.

Some of those also arrested in Palma Soriano were: Ruben Adrobe de
Armas, Doraisa Correoso, Marino Antomarchy, Reinaldo Rodriguez, Jose
Batista, Yimi Troche, Raumel Vinajera, and Jorge Cervantes who was
severely beaten during his arrest by a head State Security Officer and
was eventually released after he declared himself on a hunger strike.

In the city of "El Caney", the home of Guillermo Cobas Reyes was
surrounded by paramilitary mobs. Cobas Reyes was violently arrested
along with Agustin Magdariaga Alvarez, August 28, 2011.

Annia Alegre Pecora was also arrested and released. In addition, Rusela
Vaso and Romel Avila Vaso, respectively, the wife and son of human
rights defender, Raudel Avila Losada were arrested.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" also denounced the Cuban regime's
arbitrary arrests of members of the "Orlando Zapata Tamayo" National
Front of Civic Resistance" and the increment of repressive acts against
its leaders in the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Camaguey.
Rosario Morales and Ivon Mayeza, known activists who were arrested on
Friday, August 26, 2011, before a large crowd in Havana as they made
noise beating pots and pans to protest the unemployment, the hardships
of the Cuban people, and demanding an end to the dual currency in Cuba,
were released on Sunday, August 28, 2011, after both endured brutal
From August 26 – 28, 2011, the Cuban regime has subjected more than 50
human rights activists and their families to unlimited physical,
emotional violence. Once more, The Coalition of Cuban-American Women
makes an urgent call to the press and to non-governmental organizations
dedicated to the defense of human rights worldwide, as well as to
individuals in positions of leadership in religious, political,
educational, social, and cultural institutions to denounce these cruel
and degrading acts committed by the Cuban regime against its own people.
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: Belkis Cantillo + 53 53790867 / Jose D.
Ferrer Garcia + 53 53631267 / Caridad Caballero + 53 52629749 / Berta
Soler + 53 52906820 INFO IN SPAIN: Luis E. Ferrer + 34 - 691 803 955
Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Laida A, Carro

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jokes About Dictators / Regina Coyula

Jokes About Dictators / Regina Coyula
Regina Coyula, Translator: Unstated

Yesterday I didn't leave my house. The morning news on Radio Reloj
(Clock Radio), didn't even have old news about Libya. I couldn't watch
the midday news because the power was out. At eight at night on National
Television News there were only the headlines after the 50th anniversary
of the Cuban Women's Federation (FMC) and the threat of a cyclone.

A synthesis:

- Confusion in Tripoli.

- Doubts about the capture of the dictator's sons.

- Concern for the journalists of the Voltaire Network who exposed the
Atlantic Alliance massacres and who are threatened with death.

- A young man was kissing the American flag.

- The rebel troops were unable to find the whereabouts of Gadaffi.

- The opinion of the Venezuelan president about the situation in the
North African country.

- Gadaffi had spoken by telephone with Ilyumzhinov, president of World
Chess Federation and the Republic of Kalmykia.

This morning, Radio Reloj, which, together with the newspaper Granma and
National Television News, General Gadaffi should promote to the Generals
of his troops, was proclaiming that the dystopian clown should convert
Libya into a volcano against foreign invasion, and denounced the rebels
hidden in houses of the residents of Tripoli.

This reminded me of the joke about Granma (the original joke was about
the newspaper Pravda), that if Napoleon had had this paper, the world
never would have heard of his defeat at Waterloo.

It also reminds me of something less festive and more recent: Those
jingoistic statements by many compatriots urging Saddam Hussein to fight
to the death before being poignantly captured. Live and learn.

August 24 2011

Drivers in Cuba turn genius to ensure classic Detroit cars still run

Drivers in Cuba turn genius to ensure classic Detroit cars still run
Aug 28, 2011 |

VINALES, Cuba -- The 1955 Dodge has a 2-liter bottle strapped to the
driver's-side door frame, with a hose leading from the bottle to a hole
in the hood.

It is the gas tank. And it works.

Although the aqua car's interior is stripped, owner Obel Aguado still
drives it to work at the Los Jazmines viewpoint snack bar.

"He's going to put a Bulgarian diesel engine in it," another man said
proudly. "He has a lot of work to do."

Although Americans buy cars on a whim, Cubans -- who cannot buy, sell or
trade vehicles made after 1959 -- have turned genius to keep their old
Detroit cars alive.

"The automotive history community should realize that Cuba's achievement
with that fleet is one of the most important achievements in automotive
history," said Rick Schnitzler, co-founder of TailLight Diplomacy, a
Philadelphia group that monitors the state of classic autos in Cuba.

"It is so enraging that our foreign policy provides the rest of the
world with a shabby vision of the symbols of our nation," he said. "It's
a huge tragedy to have that fleet in this condition."

Nobody knows how many classic American cars remain in Cuba. A Cuban
would tell you 170,000, but auto watchers put the number at more like
20,000 to 50,000. Most date to the 1950s, especially the sturdy 1952
Chevrolets. Many are used as taxis or tourist cars.
Cuba's roads take on new look as old American cars wane

The 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo prevents American auto companies or
parts suppliers from doing business with Cuba.

That didn't matter much in 1961. But now it's half a century later, and
these cars need work.

"Sometimes you see a pile of rust on four tires, and you're thinking,
how can that thing even move?" said John McElroy of Autoline Detroit,
who has been to Cuba. "I saw people who were making their own brake
fluid using sap from a bush and mineral spirits."

Cuba is full of do-it-yourself mechanics, using whatever they can dig up
to keep their cars running.

Despite the embargo -- started after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution --
the Obama administration could make rules allowing U.S. aftermarket auto
parts into Cuba, said Jake Colvin, vice president of global trade issues
for the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington, D.C.

"Wouldn't that be great, to allow mechanics and old car buffs to go down
there with parts under a people-to-people visit?" he said. "The
administration absolutely has the ability and latitude to do that under
the law. It just hasn't been a priority."

But that's only half of the story. While creaky American cars are
begging for parts, Cuba's roads are taking on a new look.
Partnership with China

China, which is Cuba's second-largest trading partner after Venezuela,
has supplied thousands of new buses, built by Zhengzhou Yutong Group.
Police cars in Havana are Chinese-made Geely CKs. Rental cars and
government cars also are by Geely, which has an office in Havana.

Geely has exported more than 5,000 cars to Cuba since 2008. China did
$1.8 billion in trade with Cuba last year overall.

While U.S. automakers sit on the sidelines, Chinese automakers are
making inroads into the nation of 11 million.

"China knows what it's doing. But do we?" said Rick Schnitzler,
co-founder of TailLight Diplomacy, a Philadelphia group that monitors
the state of classic autos in Cuba.

Colvin said any car with U.S.-made content cannot be exported to Cuba,
so Canadian-made vehicles can't be sent there, even though Canada is a
trading partner with Cuba. Other nations also are fearful of angering
the U.S. by making a deal with Cuba to provide cars, he said.

General Motors, the most famous car brand in Cuba, isn't pushing for
change, either.

"We do not have any lobbying efforts relating to the trade embargo
against Cuba," said spokeswoman Ryndee Carney.

Visitors see a lot of cars on Cuba's roads. In addition to Chinese-made
models, you'll see South Korean-made Kia and Hyundai vehicles, as well
as European cars such as Volkswagens.

Most cars belong to the government.

Those with yellow license plates are privately owned, mainly old
American cars and a few limping Russian Ladas from the 1970s.

For now, old cars are still the citizens' cars.

Havana taxi driver Walfrido Cabezas cherishes his red 1956 Chrysler
DeSoto Diplomat.

"It was the best year for this car," he said, with the assurance of a
man who can identify old Detroit steel at 100 paces.

Because he can't get authentic parts and to save fuel, the DeSoto has a
2-liter Toyota engine in it.

Cabezas' favorite old car is the 1960 Cadillac. His dream car? The Audi
A6, which he's sure he'll never own.

"The new car is for the doctor, engineer or for famous people," he said.
'A huge change for Cuba'

Early next year, Cuban authorities plan to loosen restrictions and make
it easier for private citizens to buy or sell modern cars. That sounds
good, but there still will be no private car dealerships. The government
still will control supply. Most Cubans could not afford a new car.

Still, "you can be sure this is a huge change for Cuba," said William
Burrowes, a Havana tour guide.

Eventually, the change should mean fewer old cars on the road and more
new Chinese, Korean and European vehicles.

And if the economy really opens up, "the old cars will disappear in no
time," McElroy said.

Not waiting for that moment, Rafael Diaz Perez of Havana is fixing up a
1952 Chevrolet, which needs a new carburetor and distributor.

He's doing all the work himself, as many Cubans do.

"The technology of these cars is very simple, really," he said. He'll
get it running.

He has to.

Contact Ellen Creager: 313-222-6498 or

The spark of disobedience

Posted on Sunday, 08.28.11

The spark of disobedience

OUR OPINION: Small protest in Cuba brings anti-regime defiance
By The Miami Herald Editorial

An extraordinary event occurred in Havana last week. Four women staged a
brief protest against the Castro regime on the steps of the Capitol
building — unusual in itself — and a host of onlookers quickly gathered.
The surprise came when police showed up to arrest the protesters,
members of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights, and the
crowd suddenly erupted with taunts and jeers against the security agents.

Suéltalas, carajo! (Let them go, damn it!), yelled an angry bystander.
Others called the police shameless ( descarados) and hurled epithets.
The crowd did not try to stop the detentions, but they had no qualms
about calling Castro's thugs by the names they richly deserved — bullies
and abusers.

This is something new in Cuba. By the standards of, say, the Arab
Spring, the event may not seem like a lot. But by the standards of Cuba,
where tension and discontent with a half-century of dictatorship have
been unable to find a powerful voice, it represents a daring show of
defiance, all the more so because it was a spontaneous reaction from
average Cubans.

It is virtually unprecedented for a random group of Cubans to take sides
with protesters, openly and fearlessly, when the police make a show of
force. The only acceptable role for the people in the Castro playbook is
to support the regime, do as they're told, and otherwise be quiet. No
defiance is tolerated.

Everyone in Cuba knows that departing from this script can bring the
state's wrath down on them and their loved ones.

Precisely because Castro's agents have perfected the police-state tactic
of nipping protest in the bud, dousing the spark of protest before it
turns into a flame, any open manifestation usually comes to nothing. The
regime's durability is a testament to the effectiveness of the brutal
police state.

But if the onlookers this time were unwilling to join the protesters'
repeated cries of "liberty," they were quick to jump into the fray
verbally to support the women's right to express themselves.

Most Cubans may be hesitant to join a protest, but they understand
intuitively that everyone has civil rights the state can't deny,
including the all-powerful right to voice their ideas openly. In Cuba,
where the communist government has robbed people of all their rights,
this development is something for the regime to fear.

Also important: The video shows many in the crowd holding up cell phones
to record the protest and arrests. As it has done on so many fronts, the
regime has been effective in limiting access to the Internet and other
technology, but it can't stop progress.

That's the reason that American Alan Gross, who was delivering satellite
phone technology to the tiny Jewish community in Cuba, sits in a Cuban
jail. Technology is a threat to the dictatorship because it serves as a
venue for communication, and the state finds it impossible to impose
rigid control. What a nightmare for Fidel and Raúl, because you know
what happens when people start talking to each other without Big Brother
listening in. Pretty soon they start getting wild notions about freedom
and next thing you know . . .

Cuba may be a long way from there. This was just one small event in
Havana. Or not. Maybe, more than 10 years after Pope John Paul II told
Cubans not to be afraid, they are finally finding their voice.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Transition / Yoani Sánchez

The Transition / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

Recently, with a friend from Spain, I watched a documentary by Elias
Andres and Victoria Prego about the transition to democracy in that
European nation. There were thirteen episodes, filled with details
covering the period from 1973 to 1977, between the death throes of a
caudillo and the birth of a plural society. Through images and the
voices of important political actors in this process, they analyzed the
Law for Political Reform, the death of General Franco, the coronation of
Juan Carlos I, and the legalization of the Communist Party. My friend,
now over fifty, didn't get up from her chair even once during all the
hours those chapters lasted. At the end, she said something that gives
me strength at this time, "I was there, in many of those times and
places, but while we lived through it we didn't know it was the transition."

I think the same thing is happening to us Cubans. We are in transition,
something seems to be on the verge of being irreparably broken on this
Island, but we don't realize it, sunk in the day-to-day and its
problems. Afterward, the documentary filmmakers appeared and in thirty
minutes narrated what for us has taken decades. Analysts will create
their timelines, laying out the events of what has happened here, what,
some day, will be history. Cubanologists, for their part, will say that
the indicators of the fall were already apparent, and will choose a date
on the calendar to mark the end. Filmmakers will take pleasure in
reconstructing "zero day" and even little kids will agree yes, that's
right, and say that they also have memories those times.

But the main change will not be the death of an old man in his bed, a
person about whom Cubans care less and less, nor the legalization of
some other political force to compete against ancient Communist Party of
Cuba. The substantial transformation has already started to occur in our
minds. A slow metamorphosis, timid and fearful, but ultimately an
evolution. An irreversible process where we are leaving behind something
that seemed to us, at times, eternal. When we sit in front of the
television and watch the documentary about those years, our
grandchildren will ask us questions and after-the-fact reflections will
flourish. We will discover a great deal, only then, about those events
of transcendental importance on which, for now, the official press is
totally silent. But there will be others who will point with pride, "I
was there, I lived it, and in my stomach I felt the vertigo of the

Columbus' Cross Made Cuban National Monument

Columbus' Cross Made Cuban National Monument
Archbishop Points to History as Lesson for Future
By Araceli Cantero

BARACOA, Cuba, AUG. 26, 2011 ( At the end of a thanksgiving
Mass on Aug. 15, the archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, raised high the Cross
of Parra, planted by Christopher Columbus on Dec. 1, 1492, and with it
he blessed some 2,000 faithful gathered in the square.

Minutes earlier, the crowd broke out in applause on learning that the
National Cuban Commission of Monuments declared the Cross of Parra a
national monument. This cross is kept in the parish church of Our Lady
of the Assumption in Baracoa.

Historian Eusebio Leal made the announcement and described the Eucharist
in Baracoa as "a celebration of concord, a beautiful celebration for and
in our homeland, in the oldest of all the cities of Cuba."

Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estévez of Guantanamo-Baracoa began the ceremony,
welcoming the bishops of the island and government officials.

The Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo García
Ibáñez of Santiago de Cuba, who preached the homily, inviting his
listeners to live history as a teaching with a view to the future.

Catholics arrived from all the communities of the diocese wearing white
T-shirts with the message: "500 generations of faith, 1511-2011, I saw a
new heaven and a new earth."

At the beginning of the ceremony, young people gave a presentation on
the origins of the city, the arrival of the first Spaniards, the meeting
of cultures, and the evangelizing work of the missionaries, outstanding
among whom was St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop of Santiago de Cuba
between 1849 and 1858, when the diocese covered virtually half the island.

The Havana historian spoke of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, and Antonio
de Montesinos, "who raised his voice for the Indians, for the
aborigines, in Hispaniola Island and, particularly, in Santo Domingo."
He recalled that the great Cuban poet José Martí described the
missionary "as the apostle of the Indians," and described Fray De las
Casas as "one of the authors of modern humanism, who was able to discuss
in the debate of Valladolid the existence of an immortal soul in the

Referring to the Cross of Parra, Leal explained how the National
Commission of Monuments did an analysis to verify its historicity.

He also noted that some days before, President Raúl Castro presented the
topic of faith "as a cardinal topic of liberty."

The historian said that that address "was as important for us as the
Edict of Milan," by which Emperor Constantine in the fourth century
allowed Christians to practice their faith freely: "The right of all
those that today, for reasons of love of history or out of devotion,
recognize in that Cross a part of their people."

Baracoa is the primate city of the Caribbean country and the first
visited by Christopher Columbus in Cuba, on Nov. 27, 1492, as he himself
attested in his diary. The Diocese of Guantanamo-Baracoa was erected by
John Paul II during his visit to Cuba in January of 1998.

ZE11082606 - 2011-08-26

Horns To Havana To Deliver 120 Donated Instruments To Cuban Students

Horns To Havana To Deliver 120 Donated Instruments To Cuban Students
Published: 2011-08-26

(New York, NY) HORNS TO HAVANA will take a full planeload of musical
instruments and nearly another planeload of jazz musicians, luthiers and
brass, percussion and woodwind repair technicians to four Cuban music
academies from September 4-11.

All U.S. Government licenses and approvals have been granted that will
facilitate shipping and travel for Horns to Havana's lyrical cultural
exchange between the American jazz community and Cuban music students,
based on music with deeply shared African as well as European roots.

"Our venture to Cuba is the way jazz functions in the world," says the
organization's Artistic Director, Carlos Henriquez, "Horns to Havana is
the foundation of our soul when it comes to helping kids who want to
make music. We have come together in a way so positive that we have
generated new ways to teach and learn, methods that will make this trip
a memorable one."

Horns to Havana was created after Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at
Lincoln Center Orchestra visited Havana in October 2010 for a week of
performances and workshops, and saw the schools up close, all of them
containing large numbers of gifted students but small numbers of
instruments. A number of Jazz at Lincoln Center musicians are at the
heart of Horns to Havana, including bassist/arranger Carlos Henriquez,
reed-master Victor Goines, drummer Ali Jackson, trombonist Vincent
Gardner and Executive Committee member, producer Eric D. Wright. Joining
the group are saxophonist Erica von Kleist, and the Rodriguez brothers,
pianist Robert and trumpeter Michael, who, like the others, will work
with the kids, conducting master classes, listening and performing. New
York based luthier David Gage will head up a team of
masters-of-their-craft, musical-instrument-repair- technicians that
includes Jeffrey Bolbach, Kevin Gillins, Brian Katz and Andy Frobig.

Key to the all-volunteer effort have been some astoundingly productive
partnerships. Perhaps our most important partner is RS Berkeley Musical
Instruments, donor of a full orchestra's worth of brand new reeds,
brass, string and percussion instruments to the Amadeo Roldan
Conservatory. Les Silver, Berkeley's CEO, has also helped us purchase
other instruments and parts at substantial discounts. Ninety instruments
on their way to Havana schools come from RS Berkeley. Other partners who
made significant contributions include: the Sheldon Concert Hall's Music
for Lifelong Achievement Program in St. Louis, Missouri, that gathered
19 instruments; PlazaCuba in the San Francisco Bay area source of both a
substantial cash donation and some fine horns for Havana, as well as an
anonymous donor who gave us a matching kickoff grant of $75,000. The
Center for Cuban Studies in New York served as a base for Horns to
Havana's activities and many individuals helped us bring in over 120
first class trumpets, trombones, saxophones, drums and other
instruments. In addition we will distribute, one hundred recorders for
younger children and boxes of reeds, strings, bows, mouthpieces, pads
for reed instruments, valve oil, and a variety of other parts to repair
old or broken instruments.

"We want to thank everyone who has helped," says Horns to Havana's
co-founder, Susan Sillins, "All of us are now looking forward to meeting
some very special, young people.

"These students are hungry for music," comments Educational Director,
Victor Goines, "That's what this trip is about." Carlos Henriquez adds,
"All of us intend to come out of Cuba fulfilled and joyful after doing
something to help these talented kids."

On Cuba's Capitol Steps

On Cuba's Capitol Steps
Four women speak the unspeakable

The four Cuban women who took to the steps of the Capitol in Havana last
week chanting "liberty" for 40 minutes weren't exactly rebel forces. But
you wouldn't know that by the way the Castro regime reacted. A video of
the event shows uniformed state security forcibly dragging the women to
waiting patrol cars. They must have represented a threat to the regime
because they were interrogated and detained until the following day.

The regime's bigger problem may be the crowd that gathered to watch. In
a rare moment of dissent in that public square, the crowd booed, hissed
and insulted the agents who were sent to remove the women.

One of the four women, Sara Marta Fonseca, gave a telephone interview to
the online newspaper Diario de Cuba, based in Spain, as she made her way
home after being freed. Ms. Fonseca, who is a member of the Rosa Parks
Feminist Movement for Civil Rights, said that the group was demanding
"that the government cease the repression against the Ladies in White,
against the opposition and against the Cuban people in general." The
Ladies in White are dissidents who demand the release of all political

Yet as Ms. Fonseca explained, the group wasn't really addressing the
government. "Our objective is that one day the people will join us," she
said. "Realistically we do not have the strength and the power to defeat
the dictatorship. The strength and the power are to be found in the
unity of the people. In this we put all our faith, in that this people
will cross the barrier of fear and join the opposition to reclaim freedom."

Ms. Fonseca said her group chose the Capitol because the area is crowded
with locals and tourists and they wanted to "draw attention to the
people of Cuba." In the end, she said that they were satisfied with the
results because she heard the crowd crying "abuser, leave them alone,
they are peaceful and they are telling the truth." This reaction, the
seasoned dissident said, "was greater" than in the past.

"I am very happy because in spite of being beaten and dragged we could
see that the people were ready to join us."

For 52 years the Cuban dictatorship has held power through fear. The
poverty, isolation, broken families and lost dreams of two generations
of Cubans have persisted because the regime made dissent far too
dangerous. If that fear dissipates, the regime would collapse. Which is
why four women on the Capitol steps had to be gagged.

Today's Cuba & the Ripe Fruit Policy

Today's Cuba & the Ripe Fruit Policy
August 26, 2011
By Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES, 26 August — In April of 1823, US President John Quincy
Adams established his well-known "Ripe Fruit" foreign policy in relation
to Cuba:

"There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an
apple severed by its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground,
Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain,
and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North
American union…

"There is no foreign territory of greater significance to the United
States than the island of Cuba… It has come to take on momentous
importance for the political and commercial interests of our union."

One hundred an eighty-eight years have lapsed and the fruit has yet to
ripen. Nevertheless, the strategic political, military and economic
importance of Cuba for the empire has not declined one iota.

At this point, annexationism as a political concept among Cubans has
been reduced to small and steadily declining segments of the extreme
right that have no influence on the island's population.

Even anti-government groups of some significance in Cuba have clearly
distanced themselves from classic annexationism. Many have even spoken
out against the blockade and the aggressive policies adopted by the US
against Cuba.

However, the systematically aggravated economic, political and social
consequences of the neo-Stalinist model of "state socialism" (really a
disguised form of state monopoly capitalism) have by natural pendular
restoration generated a progressive increase in the numbers of those who
sympathize with the US economic and political system. This has reached
the point that the United States has become a point of reference for
many Cubans, especially youth, who see no other remedy than immigrating
to the United States or transplanting that system in Cuba.

So Who's to blame? John Quincy Adams? Richard Nixon? George Bush?
Barack Obama?

The upper echelons of the Cuban government have recognized the true
enemies of the changes they would like to implement in the bureaucracy,
corruption, immobility, double standards and that whole pernicious
mentality generated by the statist and centralized model of neo-Stalinism.

If the "fruit" ended up maturing and fulfilling the prediction made by
the sixth president of the United States, we would have to "thank" that
model implanted in Cuba in the name of "socialism and working class
power." That model has acted like carbide, the chemical compound used
by Cuban merchants to artificially ripen fruits.

This is why for some time I and others have been denouncing the
existence of a new neo-Plattism that has consistently blamed all of our
misfortunes on the US blockade, deflecting attention from those truly

It won't be necessary to wait long for the verdict of history to
identify what/who has turned out to be the best ally of imperialism and

That monstrous model has led to such an ideological disaster that the
Communist Party itself has decided to undertake economic reforms under a
slogan of "updating" the model.

Notwithstanding, their effort is pregnant with neoliberal recipes:
laying off workers, increasing the retirement age, intensifying the
exploitation of wage labor to the benefit of private capital,
transferring land to foreign capitalists for tourism deals, making
drastic cuts in social services, reducing care for the handicapped and
the chronically ill, expanding opportunities for foreign capital,
granting administrative autonomy to companies without workers' control,
and others.

However this "updating" doesn't propose solutions to two basic problems
that are generating corruption, causing the popular economy to
hemorrhage, encouraging emigration and serving to age the population:
Low wages and the double currency. Instead, this effort centers on
remedies of discipline, control and demands imposed from above.
Volunteerism always fails, and the blame for the disaster allows falls
on the workers.

The economists behind the "updating" — who fail to understand the causes
of the failure of "state socialism" — are choosing a narrow capitalist
gorge for the Cuban economy. This is what is pointed to by the
"Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC)."

It's not that those "updaters" are inadvertently aiming for the real or
virtual annexation of Cuba to the US, it may be that they don't
understand that the full integration (I use the term "integration," not
"interchange") of the Cuban economy with the contemporary capitalist
system can lead us to dependence and our real or virtual annexation to
US capital – so near to us, so predictable in its habits, and always so
eager to control our strategic position.

This should be known by all those who desire the return to private
capitalism — with its "free" circulation of capital — even if they've
distanced themselves from annexationist ideas. The idea isn't to go
from the frying pan into the fire").

E. Preobrazhenski, one of the great economists of the Russian
Revolution, in his work "Perspectives of the New Economic Policy"
stated: "The unnatural alliance between the socialist state and big
foreign capital will fail and be replaced by a natural alliance between
that same foreign capital and all the bourgeois forces of Russia." (1)

History agreed with him in Russia, and in the rest of former socialist
Europe and in China.

What would happen with new oil discoveries and lots of tourists?

Have they considered what would come of Cuba if its oil were pumped by
US companies and if two million American tourists visited the island
annually while foreign companies administered or co-administered our
state-run tourist facilities, beaches, our sugar-alcohol industry,
hotels and scientific centers?

Have they imagined the impact of more than a dozen golf courses and
"gated communities" for the well-heeled (complete with luxury mansions
and limousines), along with the repercussions of several marinas with
slips for the yachts of millionaires, a giant port in Mariel and a
"special economic zone" (with a maquiladora assembly park that would
exploit cheap Cuban labor) that would handle several million containers
going to or coming from the US?

Is that what we want Cuba to come to? A world cruise-line destination –
yes; and appendage of the United States – no.

Isn't it enough that our special intelligence services cooperate with
those from the empire on their southern border to control drug
trafficking, illegal emigration and terrorism while we serve as an
example of the unworkability of "socialism" to the continent? And look
at the imperial compensation: they again put us on the list of countries
that support terrorism.

No one is pleading for a moat in relation to the US or for complete
economic self-sufficency. We are not advocating ignorance of the
contemporary world or the absence of all types of exchange with the rest
of the world (as was attempted in Albania, North Korea, and in China at
one time).

International collaboration – yes, but not with the objective of
accumulating capital at the expense of workers. Technology and money by
themselves do not generate socialist development. This is a part of
prioritizing the advance and consolidation of forms of production under
workers' democratic, collective and generically socialist control, along
with their broad participation in ownership, the management of companies
and the distribution of profits through cooperative/self-managerial
structures. This is a condition that has been emerging — for centuries
— within the core of more or less developed capitalist countries as a
natural alternative to capitalism's failure.

Cuban economists trained in the de-ideological epoch of the '90s,
placing emphasis on macro-economic problems traditionally dealt with by
bourgeois experts (like those related to fiscal policy, the circulation
of money, marketing and others), discarded Marxist political-economic
categories and analysis as being "out of style."

Being so "well-informed," they tell us: "We have to live within the
modern world; we have to integrate ourselves with it." But aren't they
confusing the facts that it's one thing to trade with the capitalist
world and another thing to be integrated with it?

They forget, ignore or don't want to know that without effective changes
in the wage-labor production relations of capitalism, we will not be
able to advance to a new mode of producing and living.

Once again, I repeat — for those who insist on refusing to understand
that it's not about converting everything into cooperatives — what we
are proposing is prioritizing the socialization of government-owned
property through co-management processes (worker-state and
national-foreign capital when necessary) and self-management by workers
of government-owned industrial and agricultural companies or services.

This would mean full freedom to cooperative labor with wide state
support in the form of loans, reduced taxes, freedom of trade and the
full range of self-employed work (by individuals, including
professionals, and families who do not exploit wage labor) as a form of
self-managed production.

One philosopher, ignorant of the Marxism that Stalinism tried to hide,
belonging to the neoliberal intellectual litter that generated the
de-ideologization of the social sciences in Cuba (an action promoted
after the fall of "real socialism") said that Marxism has been unable to
explain those events and that it has failed to offer a viable
alternative to capitalism. Clearly this academic has not read Cuban
historian Ariel Dacal Diaz, not to mention others who have not been
published at home.

It was that same rejection of Marxist political-economy that
ideologically dismantled the Communist Party itself and has in good
measure led to the position of "updating the model" when what needs
changing are the state-centrist and wage-labor foundations of the Cuban
"socialist" system.

In the genesis of Stalinism there was subordination to a sole way of
thinking, one that failed to understand that capitalism is a mode of
production sustained by a number of pillars: the exploitation of wage
labor, the concentration of ownership and production output, and the
continuation of forms of social domination and oppression.

There was no real understanding that socialism implied the greatest
freedom of thought and a gradual advance toward new forms of production
different from wage-labor production, and that it entailed the
socialization (non-statization) of ownership and output, along with the
democratization of the country's political life and the de-alienation of
society through the elimination of all forms of oppression.

The basic error was the oversimplified identification of capitalism with
a system of government and socialism with a form of distribution. From
all of that were derived multiple political errors, such as combating
all bourgeois-democratic forms of government, absolutizing the armed
struggle as the path to revolution, underestimating transformations in
the forms of production within the core of the capitalist system itself,
looking down on the economic struggles of workers, the negation of
self-management, and a host of other mistakes.

Neutralizing the "carbide effect" will demand the participation of
everyone: communists, socialists, revolutionaries, national democrats
and all Cubans of good will. Neo-Stalinist philosophy, methods and
concepts must be disassembled within the party, within the government
and within all of society to make the "unity of the nation" a reality
and to truly turn Cuba into a country "with all and for the well-being
of all."

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba left a plan that looks
more like capitalization than socialization, promoting differences
rather than equality. The Party conference scheduled for this coming
January could correct that path and rescue the libertarian, democratic,
socializing and comradely contents of the revolution, those elements
than many of us continue attempting to secure.

My colleagues and I have contributed to the debate around the current
situation and various perspectives, and we continue to be willing to do
so in any setting. We are ready to explain our position to the
government, the opposition or any other interested parties.


Three years ago the document "Cuba Needs a Participative and Democratic
Socialism. Programmatic Proposals" was published.

Pedro Campos: