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Cubaverdad on Twitter

Armando Chaguaceda

In one week, the Cuban State has launched an attack on a sector of society that, despite everything, refuses to choose between submission, exile or silence.

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En una misma semana, el Estado cubano lanza una razzia contra ese sector de la sociedad que, pese a todo, se resiste a elegir entre el sometimiento, el exilio o el silencio.

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Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez has announced new immigration measures which, he says, show that "Cuba is opening up, while the US is closing down." It rescinds the ban on Cubans who left the country illegally, lifts the prohibition on entering by sea, eliminates the procedures of "habilitation" and "residence registration" for those who, respectively, wish to visit or nationalize their children born off the Island.

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El canciller Bruno Rodríguez anuncia nuevas medidas migratorias que, dice, muestran que "Cuba abre mientras EEUU cierra". Suprime la prohibición a cubanos que salieron ilegalmente del país; cancela el impedimento a entrar por vía marítima; elimina los trámites de "habilitación" y "avecindamiento" para quienes, respectivamente, deseen visitar o nacionalizar a sus hijos nacidos fuera de la Isla.

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Si algo caracteriza a los autoritarismos, en su incestuosa relación con la ley —su ley, es la perenne vocación para burlarla. No importa si esta fue forjada por mayorías afines o si la administran instituciones domesticadas.

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For two centuries we Latin Americans have viewed the United States as a mixture of an imperial superpower that threatens us, and the kind of prosperous and open society we envy.

In politics, we learned to hate the CIA, but to admire the civil rights movement; we criticize the legacy of Bush, but we celebrate that of Obama. Meanwhile, the most radical have supported an anti-imperialism that refuses to acknowledge changes over time in neighboring behemoth.

However, we are hardly as wary when it comes to the presence and agenda of other powers. Paradoxically, these powers – whose history, culture and political regimes are very foreign to our bicentennial republicanism, democratic progressivism and Latin American social movements – are very active in the region today.

China, with its powerful mix of capital investment, offers of credit, and the massive purchasing of commodities, is banking on a slow and steady advance.

Russia, incapable of competing with China's burgeoning power, turns to technical/military collaboration and bilateral geopolitical alliances;: and, in the midst of all this, strategies and tactics inherited from the KGB seem to be taking on new life.

The reappearance in Latin American forums and publications of Nikolai Leónov, the veteran agent who recruited Raúl Castro in the land of the Aztecs, years before the revolutionary triumph, is eyebrow-raising. This is the man who trained Nicaragua's FSLN to carry out works of sabotage on the Mexican-American border. And who in Latin America implemented Yuri Andropov's strategy to discredit (through operations of psychological warfare and propaganda) and to beat back (through the triumph of allied regimes) the United States throughout the Third World, to crown its global defeat in the Cold War. The same Leonov who two years ago wrote the biography of the current Cuban president, packed with Leninist lexicon and a rejection of liberal democracy.

Also making a comeback are events organized by regional social science institutions and their Russian counterparts, affiliated with the Kremlin, such as diplomatic, economic and history academies, featuring ideologues and apparatchiks from the Soviet era.

Moscow's media network, including outlets like RT and Sputnik World, has become a source of information and voice for intellectuals backing Latin American populism and anti-imperialism. These are the same figures calling for the necessary expansion of democracy under their neoliberal governments, but who remain silent regarding manifestations of social conservatism and political authoritarianism and imperialism under Putin.

Latin America needs to forge alliances in a complex and convulsive world, in which a half-millennium of western global primacy seems to be giving way to a burgeoning Asia. But doing so by banking on extracontinental autocracies will not bring about greater social equity or respect for human rights.

This is not a clash of civilizations, with culture and faith as unshakable pillars. Rather, the problem is more conventional. We live under regimes where it is possible to oppose the government and, by peaceful means, reform the state. It is a matter of choosing whether we will ally ourselves with powers where the regime, state and government are all one and the same, and an oppressive one, alien and hostile to our idea and experience as citizens; or count on other satraps, liberally supporting their Latin American allies, to get rid of our oligarchs.


This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It is published here with the author's permission.

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Los latinoamericanos, desde hace dos siglos, vemos a EEUU como la mezcla del superpoder imperial que nos amenaza y la sociedad próspera y abierta que envidiamos.

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Información es poder. En Cuba, donde unas pocas personas —dos hermanos, sus retoños y algunos administradores de ocasión— han controlado los hilos por 60 años, poder e información son privilegio de una élite. La masa —dizque pasiva— obedece al poder y consume su información dosificada y esterilizada.

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In a recent interview Venezuelan analyst Rocío San Miguel, an expert on military affairs, masterfully defined the role of Cuba in his country.

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En una entrevista reciente, la analista venezolana Rocío San Miguel, experta en asuntos militares, definió magistralmente el rol de Cuba en su país.

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Según el diccionario de la RAE, la palabra coherencia tiene varios significados. Los dos primeros aluden a la "conexión, relación o unión de unas cosas con otras", así como a una "actitud lógica y consecuente con los principios que se profesan". Los posicionamientos políticos de un segmento de la intelectualidad cubana, en la actual crisis venezolana, están a años luz de ambos sentidos. Resultan, por estricta definición, incoherentes.

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Donald Trump's announcement of an alteration of his country's policies towards Cuba caused a great stir. Despite its limited scope - in terms of affecting Obama's legacy and the foreseeable impact of the measures - adversaries and officials in Havana were quick to applaud or condemn Trump's move.

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Poets, they say, are usually noble people. They write of beauty and pain, rise above the banality of everyday life, and turn the simplest elements of the universe into magic. Poets, they say, have sensitive souls. But I'm not so sure that this necessarily translates into an eternal defence of the helpless or an incorruptible love of humanity. At the end of the day, for every bard with a thirst for justice, there is always a buffoon who reveres tyrants, whether out of fear, wealth, or vanity; in some cases, a mixture of all three.

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Los poetas, dicen, suelen ser gente noble. Cantan a la belleza y al dolor, se elevan por sobre la mundanidad cotidiana, convierten en magia los elementos más simples del universo. Los poetas, dicen, tienen un alma sensible. Pero no estoy tan seguro que ello redunde, per se, en la eterna defensa del desvalido y el amor insobornable a la humanidad. A fin de cuenta, por cada bardo con sed de justicia, hay siempre algún bufón que adula a tiranos. Por temor, riqueza o vanidad; en ciertos casos por una mezcla de las tres.

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Iran has held its fifth regular elections since the triumph of the Islamic revolution of 1979. President Hasan Rohani, a moderate and reformist cleric —according to his society's standards— prevailed against the conservative candidate, being re-elected for another term.

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Irán ha realizado su quinta elección regular desde el triunfo de la Revolución Islámica de 1979. El presidente Hasan Rohani, un clérigo moderado y reformista —según los cánones locales— prevaleció ante el candidato conservador, siendo reelecto para otro mandato.

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That the Government of Cuba supports Venezuela's is common knowledge. Their intelligence apparatuses turn opposition activism into persecuted dissidence.

Their control and propaganda cover up the Venezuelan political and humanitarian crisis, as messages are broadcast via Telesur.

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Que el Gobierno de Cuba sirve al de Venezuela como sostén es cosa sabida. Sus aparatos de inteligencia convierten la militancia de oposición en disidencia perseguida.

El control y propaganda comunicacionales, que invisibilizan la crisis política y humanitaria venezolanas, amplifican su mensaje vía Telesur.

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Within the framework of the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), a group of Cuban academics and former officials recently circulated a document protesting the LASA'S position regarding the wave of repression and political crisis in Venezuela.

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Por estos días, en el marco del congreso de Latin American Studies Association (LASA), un grupo de académicos y exfuncionarios cubanos circularon un documento protestando por la postura de LASA ante la ola represiva y crisis política de Venezuela.

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Years back what they call "civil society" became part of my life through my early engagement in a combination of community activism and links to the few NGOs working in Cuba, followed by participation in Latin American social movements and organizations that defend an ethical economy, the environment and human rights. Thus, as an activist and analyst, I can say something about the matter.

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Desde hace años eso que llaman "sociedad civil" entró en mi vida. En una temprana combinación de activismo comunitario y vinculación con las escasas ONG que trabajan en Cuba. Luego, participando en movimientos y organizaciones sociales latinoamericanos que defienden la economía solidaria, el medio ambiente y los derechos humanos. Así que, como activista y analista, algo puedo decir sobre el tema.

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Status as a "dissident " is not the product of any coherent calculation. It does not refer to a particular affiliation or a specific creed. It does not even necessarily stem from a primeval hatred of what they call "Revolution."

It is everyday abuse, accumulated disappointment, insufferable humiliation, and, largely, chance, that turn a simple citizen into a dissident.

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La condición disidente no es producto de un calculo razonado. No alude a una militancia particular o un credo especifico. Ni siquiera nace de un odio primigenio a eso que llaman Revolución.

Son el abuso cotidiano, la decepción acumulada, la vergüenza insoportable y, en buena medida, el azar, los que convierten a un simple ciudadano en un disidente.

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A new fight against the demons of censorship is being waged these days in Cuba. In a feverish damage control operation, the Cuban authorities and their organic propagandists have accused various media and journalists of being "Trojan Horses, funded by the enemy." Authorities are busy assassinating reputations of members of the alternative press, citing the criminal and labor codes or simply sending their dark agents to warn —in situ or through social-networks— that some kind of superhuman anger will break loose from Olympus.

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Autocracy and transparency are, as a rule, opposites. However, as a global and complex political phenomenon, autocracies kept the distances among each other that mark the history, culture and society that give them shelter.

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Autocracia y transparencia son, como regla, opuestos. Sin embargo, como fenómeno político global y complejo, las autocracias guardan entre sí las distancias que marcan la historia, cultura y sociedad que les cobija.

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Una verdad medias, repetida hasta el cansancio, es el compromiso de la izquierda latinoamericana con la democracia. Supuestamente, tras la  caída del Muro de Berlín y con el fin de las dictaduras anticomunistas, el progresismo continental habría abrazado principios como la participación en elecciones, la organización civil, legal y pacífica y la defensa y léxico de los Derechos Humanos.

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La anunciada performance de Tania Bruguera en la Plaza de la Revolución se saldó con una serie de detenciones de ciudadanos cubanos, sacudiendo el terco y moderado optimismo que tenía. Las esperanzas respecto a cierta relajación del control policiaco sobre las iniciativas autónomas del activismo social y cultural cubanos, derivadas del deshielo EEUU-Cuba del pasado 17 de diciembre, se van por la cañería.

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En el portal Havana Times el autor describe los abucheos contra Yoani Sánchez en Brasil como "manifestaciones de violencia pública promovidas por funcionarios de un estado en territorio extranjero". Continue reading
Reforma migratoria, CambiosCada vez que los dirigentes cubanos (…) nos repiten semejantes llamados a una paciencia y cautela demasiado parecidas a la parálisis, bien podríamos responderles con el estribillo del recordado bolero “Estás perdiendo ... Continue reading