El presidente uruguayo José Mujica reclamó este lunes "respeto" para Venezuela "y toda América Latina" y clamó contra las amenazas sobre sanciones económicas al país caribeño vertidas desde Estados Unidos, informa EFE.
En una breve nota publicada por el portal de la Presidencia de la República, el mandatario, un exguerrillero tupamaro de 78 años, lamentó que "cuando el mundo entero le pide a EEUU que archive su política de bloqueo económico a Cuba, surgen desde ese Gobierno voces amenazando con sanciones a Venezuela".Continue reading
Los partidos españoles Convergencia i Unió (CIU, Cataluña) y Nacionalista Vasco (PNV), ambos nacionalistas, registraron un escrito en el Congreso de los Diputados pidiendo la creación de una comisión de investigación sobre la muerte de Oswaldo Payá, reporta Europa Press.
Los dos grupos parlamentarios decidieron pedir la comisión de investigación en el Parlamento español tras la decisión de la Audiencia Nacional de rechazar la admisión a trámite de la querella presentada por la esposa y la hija de Payá, un auto que ya no cabe recurrir.Continue reading
La policía federal brasileña incautó el lunes 3,7 toneladas de cocaína destinada a Cuba, Europa y África en el puerto de Santos (estado de Sao Paulo), y detuvo a 23 personas, reporta AFP.
La operación pretendía desarticular un grupo de narcotraficantes que utilizaba contenedores para el transporte de cocaína que partían desde el puerto de Santos, el mayor de Latinoamérica, según informó la policía federal.
Los agentes aseguraron que se trata de la mayor incautación de los últimos tiempos en el litoral de Sao Paulo.Continue reading
Los dueños de inmuebles alquilados en Venezuela hace 20 años o más deberán venderlos a sus arrendatarios en un plazo perentorio de 60 días o afrontar multas cuya mora derivará en posteriores embargos, informa EFE.
El decreto del Ministerio de Vivienda advierte que la multa inicial será de 2.000 Unidades Tributarias, equivalente a 254.000 bolívares (unos 40.317 dólares a la cotización oficial de 6,3 bolívares por dólar), que debe ser pagada en un lapso de cinco días.Continue reading
El segundo número de la revista independiente Cuadernos para la Transición ha sido publicado en La Habana, esta vez sobre el tema de la transnacionalidad.
La revista contiene artículos de Antonio Rodiles, Walfrido López, Emilio Morales, Alexis Jardines y Juan Antonio Blanco, entre otros activistas y escritores.
"El debate sincero sobre temas fundamentales no espera más. Debemos abrir un intercambio desde el civismo que estimule el crecimiento de las diversas ideas y visiones de la otra Cuba que deseamos construir", expresa Rodiles en uno de los materiales.Continue reading
March 31, 2014
Isbel Díaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES — On March 13, a new version of Cuba's Granma newspaper
website went online. The most attractive feature of the new, more
dynamic page design is the possibility of posting comments on published
Till now, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party had a
website with a static and visually awful platform, far behind other
Cuban government pages, such as Cubadebate, Cubasi and newspaper sites
such as Trabajadores and Juventud Rebelde.
The digital version of the weekly Granma Internacional, which came
online in August of 1996, was the first Cuban Internet press site. The
online edition of the newspaper (which has now been fused with Granma
International) became available as a digital publication in July of 1997.
According to Granma, the new staff of designers sought to make the site
"modern, respond to the demands of new information and communication
technologies and any platform used to convey news, in order to inform
the public quickly and truthfully, sharing news content in such a way
that users aren't mere passive receivers of information, but also the
main sources of such content."
The current Internet platform of Cuba's official newspaper relies on a
"dynamic framework" that employs a modern "content manager". This allows
for updating from different places, regardless of circumstances. Tablet
and smartphone versions of the site have also been released.
The new website also affords a range of editorial solutions that "allows
decision-makers to act, not only expediently, but also intelligently.
This holds for the editing of a given text and for the way it is
presented to the user, with emphasis on the classification of the
materials to be uploaded."
In addition to improved design, better content organization, responsive
design, performance, increased cache and the availability of 2.0
applications, a portion of the published news can be read in English,
French, German, Italian and Portuguese.
The Face and the Body Aren't Always the Same
Granma's new young staff introduced itself to readers through an article
titled "Granma.cu, nuestra nueva cara en la red" ("Granma.cu: Our New
Face on the Internet").
On this occasion, Granma journalists didn't quote Marx, Lenin or Fidel
Castro. Rather, in keeping with the new times, they turned to the East
and invoked Mahatma Gandhi, in a phrase that reads: "We would do many
things if we believed that fewer things were impossible."
As though that weren't enough, the communist staff of Granma shared a
phrase written by Confucius in 551 AD: "whoever aspires to constant
happiness and wisdom must adjust to frequent changes."
Fortunately, the information acknowledges the fact that "these new tools
facilitate the management of the site but do not of themselves write,
investigate or express opinions. These, it said, require the
professionalism and commitment of a higher form of journalism," in
keeping with the appeals made by President Raul Castro.
The impact Cuba's recently appointed First Vice-President Miguel
Diaz-Canel working towards a change in the methods of the national
press, is fairly obvious.
That said, the newspaper continues to be prepared at Poligrafico Granma
("Granma Publishing House"), where all the country's national
newspapers, including those read in Havana, Mayabeque and Artemisa, are
Nor has Granma changed its fundamental objective, which isn't to inform
the public (as one would expect of a newspaper), but to "promote,
through its articles and comments, the work of the revolution and its
principles, the achievements reached by our people and the integrity and
cohesion of our people around the Party and Fidel," as the page "About
Another indication that the "body" hasn't changed is that the initiative
to modernize Granma will be extended to Juventud Rebelde, through the
same team of designers, commented Diaz-Canel in a recent interview.
I must acknowledge that slightly fresher articles written by young
people can now be found in the newspaper's Opinions column. These,
however, aren't published in the privileged spaces, which are still
reserved for the familiar praise for the current state of things on the
The Communist Party Now Accepts Comments
After two weeks online, it is clear that the editors of Granma are
willing to publish comments expressing criteria opposed to those of the
article and even opinions that are fairly critical of the government's
An article that announced the appointment a new chair of the National
Association of Small Farmers, for instance, showed several comments
criticizing the PCC's meddling in an autonomous farmers' organization
and the Party's tendency to appoint leaders who had no direct experience
in the field.
Flattering comments continue to be the immense majority for the time
being, though a group of cybernauts seems to have discovered this new
possibility and timidly begin to post their criticisms.
Generally speaking, Internet users supportive of Granma have
acknowledged that the change was necessary and appear to be pleased by
the opportunity to share their comments.
In addition, Granma designers have implemented a number of changes
suggested by readers and replied to a number of comments, giving signs
of a willingness to converse with the public (at least on matters that
aren't explicitly political).
Cuba's extremely limited Internet access could be the reason these new
spaces have been opened, in one of the few sites that didn't allow for
public participation until recently.
It is worth pointing out that several users who use Cuba's national
health network connection (Infomed) left comments expressing their
dissatisfaction with the slowness of the connection and the amount of
time it took to open the different news pages.
That dissenting opinions are still treated with a measure of
apprehension is revealed by the fact that, once articles are published
on the main page, only a selection of the comments made are left – the
majority are positive and a small number of them (usually the worst
arguments) are negative.
Regardless, we should pay attention to these shy steps and what they
could mean for the future: a move towards an acceptable model of free
press for the island, or a mere disguise used to conceal the censorship
mechanism we know so well.
Source: New Face of Cuba's Official Online Newspaper - Havana Times.org
- http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=102701 Continue reading
March 28, 2014
Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TMES — Michael A. Lebowitz, Canadian economist and professor at
the Simon Frazer University in Vancouver, answered our questions
regarding: Socialism and the Party, the New State from the bottom up,
cooperatives and self-management, Cuba and its economy.
HT: What does the Cuban economy need as a factor of the first order to
Michael A. Lebowitz: I don't think it is appropriate for me, as an
outsider, to make specific proposals for the Cuban economy. However, on
the basis of my studies of countries which attempted to build socialism
in the 20th century and several years as an adviser in Venezuela, I
think I can make some general comments.
If you wish to build a new society, it is essential to find ways to
unleash the creative collective energy of the people. It is important to
create conditions in which people through their practice can transform
circumstances and themselves.
In the Soviet Union and countries which followed that model, this was
sorely lacking. The tendency was to think that all solutions and all
movements toward socialism were to be determined at the top and
transmitted to the bottom. The result was that people did not develop
their capacities, that they were alienated in the workplace and
communities and did not and could not defend the gains that were made in
those societies. And we know the result: capitalism triumphed. In short,
even though some people may think it is more efficient to make the
decisions at the top, it should be understood that this is a
disinvestment in people.
I spent a number of years living and advising in Venezuela during the
period when Chavez was president. It was evident there in the communal
councils and workers councils that when people have the ability to make
the decisions that affect them, they develop strength and dignity. One
of the wonderful characteristics of Chavez was that he had confidence in
the ability of people to develop and to build socialism and he never
hesitated to encourage them. If you want to solve the problem of
poverty, he said, you have to give power to the people. Chavez was
consistent on this point: he stressed the importance of producing new
human beings, and he often cited Che Guevara on the necessity to build
new socialist human beings.
HT: Is an economy possible completely based on self-management and the
ML: I think self-management of state-owned enterprises and cooperatives
are an important way of unleashing the creative energy of people. They
build solidarity within those workplaces and demonstrate essential
aspects of a society based on cooperation rather than competition.
However, I don't believe that you can build a just economy limited to
these islands of cooperation. Their inherent tendency is the
self-interest of the members of these collectives.
For example, in Yugoslavia the orientation of self-managed enterprises
was to maximize income per worker. They functioned within the market
and, rather than building solidarity within the society, the tendency
was to generate inequality in the society. When every group of workers
is looking out only for itself, who is there to look out for the
interests of the working class as a whole?
It is a myth (a dangerous myth advanced by those who are either ignorant
or ill intentioned) to argue that, when everyone acts out of their own
self-interest, the interests of all are advanced. That is the mythology
of Adam Smith and neoliberal economics. In Yugoslavia: the stress upon
self-interest and the market produced the destruction of solidarity
within the society and ultimately the destruction of Yugoslavia itself.
I believe that it is essential that there be an organized voice which
expresses the needs of people and thus acts as a corrective to the
self-orientation of the members of the enterprises. In Venezuela, the
stress has been to bring together the communes (composed of a number of
communal councils) and the workplaces in those areas to explore the ways
in which the workplaces can serve the needs of the local communities.
Obviously, it is not only the needs of local communities have to be
taken into account. However, it is very important that the members of
these workplaces understand their responsibility to society. Otherwise,
you can get the perverse situation which existed in Yugoslavia where
state taxation (for the purpose of equalizing development in the
country) was attacked as exploitation by a Stalinist state.
HT: Do the cooperatives need the unique party and the state as
institutional rectors of the nation?
ML: I definitely believe that you need the state. How else can you deal
with the problem of inequality and problems of national importance like
defense? However, I think it is important to begin to build a different
kind of state – a new state.
In Venezuela, Chavez described the communal councils as the cells of a
new socialist state. They were institutions characterized by
protagonistic democracy, a democracy in practice, in which people
develop through their own activity. And he saw these as the building
blocks to move to communes and from there to the creation of a communal
city and from there upward to the new national state – a state from below.
Obviously, that new state cannot possibly develop overnight and it
necessarily coexists with the old state for a period of time. But the
goal should be to build that new state consciously – precisely because
it is a state which produces the people required for a socialist economy.
I don't think that such a new state emerges spontaneously. It requires
conscious effort. It requires the battle of ideas. It requires
leadership. In short, it requires a party which recognizes the necessity
to create the conditions in which new socialist human beings produce
themselves. And that means, I think, a party with a different focus –
not a focus upon making decisions at the top and enforcing discipline
within the party but one which creates the conditions internally for
people to develop all their potential and initiative, one which contains
within it different tendencies and which respects minorities, a party
oriented toward building socialism which can listen and learn.
HT: Do you think cooperatives are the answer to the problems of Cuban
ML: Certainly the problems of Cuban agriculture are very serious and
much depends upon a solution to these. While these problems have unique
characteristics (reflecting particular decisions that were made in the
past), it is essential to understand that there are many common
characteristics in other countries of the South.
In many places, people have abandoned the rural areas in part because of
the inability to compete with the highly subsidized agriculture of the
United States and other developed capitalist countries. It is not at all
a level playing field – poor and developing countries are pressured not
to subsidize rural production but nothing is done about the subsidies
(direct and hidden) in the rich countries. The result is that many
countries of the South lack food sovereignty despite their fertile land
and end up importing substantial amounts of their foodstuffs.
This is the situation in Venezuela, where there was an enormous movement
from the countryside to the cities in the period before Chavez's
election; a particular factor there was an overvalued currency (due to
oil exports) which meant that rural producers could not compete with
The result was that Venezuela was importing 70% of its food and much of
its countryside was empty. How was it possible to reverse that and to
develop food sovereignty? In a paper I did for the Venezuelan Ministry
of Economic Development in 2008, I stressed that if you want to
encourage food production, you have to encourage food producers and, in
particular, you have to encourage new entry into agricultural production
especially of young people.
And, I argued that this goes far beyond simply increasing food prices
for the producers (which does not necessarily mean increasing prices for
consumers). It means developing an infrastructure, schools, cultural
facilities and access to modern communications. In short, you have to
create the conditions in which young people do not see themselves as
turning their back on civilization to work in the countryside. This is
obviously an investment – an investment for the future which goes far
beyond a simple solution of raising prices for agricultural production
and leaving things to the market to solve the problem.
If a society is prepared to make such an investment (which needs to be
widely discussed so people understand its necessity), then the next
question is what should be the nature of the relations of production in
agriculture. From what I've said earlier, it is obvious that I think
that forms of self-management (whether under state ownership or
cooperative ownership) are essential. It should be obvious, too, that if
society is making this investment, then the self-managed enterprises
need to recognize their responsibility to society.
If Cuban society is not prepared or is unable to make such investments,
I fear that the prospect is one of shortages, high food prices and
continued high food imports (especially with the aging of the rural
Source: Cuba Needs to Unleash Creative Energy - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=102664 Continue reading
La nueva Ley de Inversiones Extranjeras "aprobada" el fin de semana por la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular es recibida con profundo escepticismo por empresarios y analistas debido al historial del Gobierno cubano, que incluye el encarcelamiento de algunos ejecutivos y la búsqueda de control sobre emprendimientos que resultan exitosos, informa Reuters.Continue reading
March 27, 2014
Ernesto Perez Chang
HAVANA TIMES — As a mechanism for ideological control, censorship is not
unique to totalitarian regimes. In nearly every country around the
world, there are political, religious and other demarcations that make
so-called freedom of expression mere semblance. This is a truism. No one
is so naïve as to believe they can freely express their opinions without
some form of hostile consequences.
The fact censorship exists nearly everywhere should not, however, be
used by governments to justify its practice as an unquestionable right,
nor as a kind of consolation for those whose right to dissent is curtailed.
All countries will always suffer some form of censorship (tacitly or
explicitly), but public opinion groups and individuals must be very much
aware of the legitimate role they must play in their relationship with
Journalists and writers – provided they are true to their calling and
assume the absolutely independent and responsible attitude devoid of
opportunism and complicity with higher-ups their profession demands –
are duty-bound to practice their trade honestly and decorously, even
when this means an open and direct confrontation with the political
It is not a question of turning literature or journalistic work into
propaganda, creating spaces, columns or opinion groups, much less
affiliating oneself to parties or parading down the streets holding
banners and yelling out slogans (as citizens, we are all free to do
this, of course). It is a question, rather, of shedding one's fears
ceasing to conceive of our intellectual subjugation and self-censorship
as "common sense", as these phenomena only lead to ridiculous and
nonsensical text and never to genuine literature or journalism.
While it is true that efforts to avoid censorship through the use of
literary disguises of every sort has spawned literary masterpieces and
brilliant authors whose real names we will never know, hidden as they
remained behind a pseudonym or total anonymity, it is also true that no
hand numbed by fear or guided by a foreign and despotic will ever
managed to write anything worthwhile. One cannot write a journalistic or
literary piece if one is forced to respect the limits imposed by others.
Nothing of any significance can be achieved when one needs a permit in
order to create.
Publishing a sterile work that has been emptied of potentially offensive
content, besmirched by convenience and adulterated by the fear of
punishment could be tolerated in mentally challenged people, but it is
shameful and objectionable when practiced by individuals who have an
effective influence on the public sphere.
Any system that fears individual opinion, the direct usage of the
written word or questioning (misguided or not) only demonstrates that
the ideological foundations that sustain it are as fragile as paper or
as insubstantial as hot air.
By attacking those who dissent, governments merely reveal their colossal
clumsiness. By revealing, through their hatred, their disproportionate
and contradictory faith in the written word, they attest to the fact
that their reality is made up of a huge pile of words, each propped up
by the other, part of a discourse that is only apparently coherent.
Words are not the political or ideological property of anyone. Imposing
limits on the activities of intellectuals and artists does great harm to
a country's culture. Strategies aimed at silencing people and at
controlling the opinions of individuals within the sphere of culture and
others are the fundamental causes behind the stagnation and mediocrity
that prevail in our society.
Source: Cuba: Censorship, Self-Censorship and Common Sense - Havana
Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=102649 Continue reading