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Rafael Alcides

Como viajaban las noticias en la Antigüedad, de mano en mano, al poeta Rafael Alcides le llegaban las críticas que de manera episódica escribió Néstor Díaz de Villegas, otro poeta cubano, pero exiliado en EEUU, sobre el documental Nadie, de Miguel Coyula, del cual Alcides es protagonista.

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"Es importante que los creadores sean valientes no solo a la hora de gestar el proyecto y hacerlo, sino también de defenderlo", dice el realizador Miguel Coyula a DIARIO DE CUBA pocos días después de que la Seguridad del Estado impidiera la presentación de su película Nadie en la galería privada El Círculo.

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Note: The video above is not subtitled but the excerpts from Nadie here are subtitled. 14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 April 2017 – Cuba’s State Security and the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the independent gallery El Círculo to prevent this Saturday’s screening of the documentary Nadie (Nobody), directed by Miguel Coyula and featuring the censored … Continue reading "State Security Prevents Screening Of Miguel Coyula’s Documentary ‘Nadie’" Continue reading

La Seguridad del Estado y la Policía desplegaron este sábado un fuerte operativo alrededor de la galería privada habanera El Círculo, donde estaba prevista la proyección de la película documental Nadie, del realizador Miguel Coyula.

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For our readers who understand Spanish… Our apologies for this being in Spanish and not subtitled. Here is an article about the movie and with links to excerpts from the movie that are subtitled. Continue reading

El documental Nadie, de Miguel Coyula, protagonizado por el poeta cubano Rafael Alcides, se alzó este domingo con el Premio al Mejor Documental en el X Festival de Cine Global Dominicano, según informan la propia página de leer más

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El documental Nadie, de Miguel Coyula, fue presentado este diciembre dos veces en La Habana. La segunda con una actualización sobre la muerte de Fidel Castro y bajo amenazas hacia los responsables de la galería El Círculo, que lo puso. Ni en sueños el Festival de Cine lo hubiera considerado para exhibirlo y, sin embargo, fue una de las mejores obras que se vieron durante el mes en la ciudad.

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Entre advertencias de la Seguridad del Estado de que no iba permitir la exhibición, e incluso iba a cerrar la calle con patrullas para no dejar pasar a ninguna persona, se estrenó en la Galería El Círculo el documental Nadie, del cubano Miguel Coyula, con la presencia del poeta Rafael Alcides, su protagonista.

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El realizador Miguel Coyula presentará este domingo en La Habana su documental Nadie, junto al poeta Rafael Alcides, protagonista del filme.

En la película, el poeta "cuenta su visión personal de la nación cubana a través de las épocas que le tocó vivir. Una aproximación muy íntima a la historia de Cuba más reciente".

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14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 6 June 2016 — Cuban filmmaker Miguel Coyula participated in the New Media Film Festival of Los Angeles with the seventh chapter of his series Rafael Alcides. The short film was part of a more than two-hour interview with with the well-known poet and writer, addressing topics such as art, beauty and Cuba past … Continue reading "Rafael Alcides Close Up / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar" Continue reading
Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 13 May 2015 – Extremely worried, doctoral candidate in physics Antonio Rodiles and his wife the actress and political activist Ailer Gonzalez, in their home, related to me two events that I have prayed over, that … Continue reading Continue reading
Our “mercenaries” do not plant bombs, nor do they plan attempts on people’s lives, nor sabotages, as did those who today are in power. Cubabet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 30 April 2015 – A young Communist, lamenting how the Cuban government … Continue reading Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39778" align="aligncenter" width="600"] [1] Photo from the Internet[/caption][2]Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 10 April 2015 – Thinking of my son Reuben (whom I have not seen in twenty-one years, five more than his age when he emigrated in 1993) I wrote in 2003 a text collected in a booklet in 2011 which was published by Mangolele, in Logrono, Spain. Here it is: ASTRONOMICALMiami is far away.As far as a remote planet.And in that remote planettoday lies a part of my heart.In Miami, Lord,in that remote planetthat was so closein the days of Pan American.I never traveled by Pan American. When I was in Miami in 1959 (as part of an official delegation attending the July 4 celebrations) I went on the ferry, and returned from Tampa by Aerovías Q. Nor was I a shareholder in Pan American. But the name Pan American, like all the names of my past, formed a part of my identity.I remember them, however far away they are, they give me back my sky, my streets, my people, the odors of my neighborhood, they take me back to certain days, certain events, and then, suddenly, unable to abstain, the word "Camagüey” brings me the vision of Ignacio Agramonte, machete held high, with this thirty-five immortals on that afternoon of victory when he snatched General Julio Sanguily from the well-armed Spanish column of one hundred and twenty soldiers who had taken him prisoner.For an instant, the past and my cultural self were then something so much of the present, so timeless, that not even Agramonte and his legendary cavalry were beings of the past, nor was his corpse burnt after death because it frightened the king's soldiers*, nor did any one of his immortals grew old. All of them were, to me, like in their portraits, or perhaps they had just departed on the 1:00 pm train to almost surely return in the evening.Triggering fantasies and truths that, equally, can, and in the Cuban case, make such patriotic attributes as the flag and the shield, the tocororo**, and the flower called mariposa, to Ingelmo shoes [3], for instance.Today, when everything we see and touch in Cuba is Chinese or comes from Brazil, or Chile, or Spain, or the United States if it is something to eat, because from food to ideology we are ruled by foreigners, today young Cubans have to show their identity card to verify they are Cubans.It was a disgrace that I didn’t know in my past when I so hungered, like I was talking about the other day in a dinner table conversation with my son Rafael, who is twenty-one and like the young of all times needs to complete himself knowing the world where he was born in a time before him, this region of the past where the young were not, and that later they books tell them about with the gaps that books usually have, especially when interested hands wrote them. I lived in a Cuba where the mark “Made in Cuba,” present even on my toothbrush, reminded me of my nationality and reinforced it. Other than the vehicle fleet and electronics, almost everything else in those times was “Made in Cuba.”And as one lives proud of the pride of their country, I was proud to know that many Cuban products were equal in quality with the best brands in the world, and even superior to them. All this in a republic fifty-six years old in 1958, and in a Havana that, outside the center, was less than seventy years old, and then with painted houses and reputed to be among the most beautiful cities of the world. They were killing in those times, the dead appeared every day, but not even Havana stopped growing (its three tunnels and most important buildings and hotels and hospitals were built between 1952 and 1958), nor can we forget the new production every day of tires, footwear, textiles, preserved foods. (We had seventeen brands of soft drinks.) Because, curious dichotomy, the killing went on on one side and the industry on another saying without lying, “To eat what the country produces is to make a homeland.”Many of these productions, it is true, were made with imported supplies coming partly or entirely from the United States, cut off after 1959 by the economic embargo law imposed on the socialist government, but it is a calamity that cannot explain the total absence of 99% of the manufactured goods circulating on the island of the patriotic mark “Made in Cuba” that, in those remote days of Pan American, was a source of such pride to us, who also felt ourselves to be a proud product “Made in Cuba.”Translator’s notes: *A fragment lifted from this poem. [4] ** Cuba’s national bird[1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/hecho-en-cuba.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org [3] http://www.alejandroingelmo.com/ [4] http://iagramonte.blogspot.com/2010/12/agramonte.html?m=1 Continue reading
[1][2]Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 10 March 2015 — Let’s call him Hermes. Everything he says is said in private. I will not reveal his identity but, given the positions he has held, it is worth listening to what he has to say.We all know these are confusing times, but imagine how much more confusing they would be if Fidel were to survive Raul. While hard to believe, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. While respectful of nature, for him it is the statistics that are significant.We have in Havana fifteen thousand people living in provisional housing. In other words people whose homes have partially collapsed and who are more or less living in these places as best they can, some for twenty years or more.We also have some one-hundred fifty thousand people "approved for housing." In other words people who should be in housing but are not due to a housing shortage. That’s one-hundred fifty thousand people whose roofs could fall in on them even without a downpour.That’s one-hundred fifty thousand people who hug their loved ones before they go to bed at night as though they were going off to war. One hundred seventy-five thousand people, both in temporary housing and waiting for housing, who — as architect Miguel Coyula pointed out at a conference sponsored by the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) — is equal to the population of Matanzas.Add to this political threat, says Hermes, the fact that Havana — with the exception of Nuevo Vedado — has still not been fixed and is like a wheel about to lose its spokes. Add to this the serious problems of internal plumbing and electrical wiring and carpentry... Replacing a window, just one (and most of them are rotted from termites), costs 100 CUC or more.These problems are not unique to Havana; they are found throughout all of Cuba. Exactly how this has happened is not clear, but it is worth asking — adds Hermes — if, once Fidel and Raul are gone, will Cubans be willing to continue living and dying under such conditions.His salary does not allow him to carry out repairs on his house. Nor would a bank be able extend him credit based on that salary, something that might have been possible one-hundred fifty or two hundred years ago. And even if it could, where would the country get the cement and the wood for such a monumental reconstruction effort. We are, therefore, faced with a problem created by socialism but for which socialism has no solution.That’s the issue, says Hermes. That’s it. In other parts of the world there are the "landless." Here there are the "roofless," the ones who need things repaired, the ones who cannot wait to have things repaired. In these dramatic population figures, which encompass more than seventy percent of the country’s housing stock, he sees the inevitability of change, of the transition to democracy. Of course, all of this depends on Raul and Fidel not being around, as he points out.Raul and Fidel were heroes. They were forged in war. The founded a religion based on it. They started handing out houses, handing out cars, handing out scholarships. For years they were like the Magi. For years they could count on bad American foreign policy decisions and people imagined themselves fighting alongside them. But aside from the legacy of destruction left by the Magi, what will their hand-picked successors and all those like them be able to offer?Think about it, he suggests. Do the numbers. The path to the future will be based on pragmatism, not ideology. It is a matter of survival. Whoever comes after will not be able to imitate the Chinese. The country has been disappointed with the future that was offered to them a little over half a century ago.Now the future as we imagnied it is gone. Anything with even whiff of socialism will cause a Cuban to quickly and decidedly go for his proverbial axe. We live in the age of the internet, says Hermes, and if the level of development we have seen in those countries which have left utopian socialist visions behind were not enough, we can now witness in Cuba the financial well-being of those who struck out on their own and began working for themselves.For all these reasons Hermes is sleeping soundly. His digestion is good and he is laughing at the pessimistic prognostications of today’s soothsayers. He knows, as his numbers indicate, that anyone who did not seem to be political — the average guy who watched his house age without being able to make repairs or who watched it fall down — will be at the forefront of deciding the question of democracy’s future, even in the event that Fidel survives Raul.[1] https://homiscdocs.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/fidel-ok-1.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org Continue reading
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] [1] Photo from the internet[/caption] Imagine you are at a party where a suckling pig is being roasted and all of a sudden, at the height of the festivities, Raúl Castro comes along with a bucket of water and douses out the fire. I cannot conjure a more apt image to illustrate the effect the army general’s speech at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit had on the spirits of Cuba’s dissidents.What Raul said was a recycling of what the secretary of state was saying. It was the spitting image, cut to size, to summarize the state of affairs. While the inhospitable bucket of water was being filled, he left it to the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) to release the statement by the American government indicating that the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between that country and ours did not include a lifting of the embargo, the closure of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo or permission for American tourists to travel to Cuba."So the Americas have not had to hang their heads as low as TV and newspapers have been telling us," noted one party stalwart while waiting in line at a pharmacy.With the PCC not being terribly secretive on this issue, one dissident was heard to express the following words of despair:"Rather than making our work for democracy easier, this could make it more difficult. The United States and the Soviet Union had diplomatic relations and even then it was a cat and mouse game. Given that experience, if up till now they have imprisoned us, in the future they could execute dissidents for being American spies, which is what happened to Russian democracy advocates in Soviet times."Other dissidents are less pessimistic. After the initial impact of the unwelcome bucket of water that Raul used to dampen the festivities, some began to look at the glass and realized it was not half empty but rather half full.Times have changed. No matter how much Raul might like to resurrect the tactics of the USSR, he cannot. According to Marx every organism contains the seeds of its own destruction, as I heard said to a proverbially enthusiastic dissident and learned man. Such is the case with socialism, to which Raul Castro must ever increasingly apply capitalist remedies in order to survive. The now almost five-hundred thousand self-employed workers — an army that just keeps growing — will be the gravediggers of the system.Clearly, they are not politicians; they are merchants. They are in the business of making money and, not surprisingly, would prefer not to court problems with the government that might stand in the way of their making even more money. The great paradox, however, is that, by choosing to be economically independent, they have become a potent political force.Behold a people, a sector of workers, with initiative but with no knowledge of their rights, as the dissident scholar of my story keeps saying. For example, the "botero" still does not know that, by paying taxes, he has the right to demand streets without potholes. The same applies case by case, sector by sector, to the restaurant owner, to the mechanic. Before you know it, you have created a public with intentions similar to the multitudes who stormed the Bastille.Based on what they have told me, other dissidents more optimistic than the one mentioned above are betting on the perhaps exaggerated notion that Raul and his few remaining cohorts from the old days do not have many civilians from which to choose. And with perhaps even more exaggerated optimism, they do not see anyone in the Council of State with the status to command respect in their homes much less, they claim, under circumstances in which a fixty-six-year-old government has shown that socialism is no more than a fantasy dreamt up by Karl Marx.Havana, the Cuban city from where I am gauging the pulse of the political situation, is experiencing a period of forecasting comparable to that of the Institute of Meteorology during hurricane season. Except that, unlike cyclones, no one knows when or where things will happen.Meanwhile, the public — the frowning general public — is dying from trying to catch a bus while waiting for remittances from overseas, as if the guy with the bucket is not on their side. Neither the divinations of dissenters nor the enthusiastic forecasts of the governement’s new economic model matters to them. Trying to interpret this feeling, a seasoned retired teacher who sells empanadas in hospitals told me the following:"Don’t waste your time listening to them. It’s not going to happen here. And they can stop talking about Raul and his opponents. What happens will be what God wants."20 February 2015[1] https://homiscdocs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/cubo.jpg Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38537" align="aligncenter" width="600"] [1] Photo from the Internet[/caption][2]CubaNet, RAFAEL ALCIDES, Havana, 3 February 2015 – In the Havana of recent days, hope and despair continue to grow. Hope, in the people: who have already begun to paint and fix up their houses, with visions of the peaceful invasion by the Americans of the future. Because, it is said with much authority, without anybody knowing the provenance of this fact, by about the end of April, we will have them arriving in waves of a million per week and, of course, neither the State-owned hotels nor the paladares (private restaurants) currently existing have the capacity to accommodate them.An acquaintance from the neighborhood, retired and living with his wife and son, a doctor, in a small, two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor, facing the street, has already begun remodeling to take advantage of the coming boom. He has built a separate entrance to the unit from the side that faces a hallway, and on the patio has fashioned a little guestroom equipped with a shower, sink and toilet. Now he is on the hunt for a bidet, an air conditioner and a mini-fridge – all of which need to be of the “gently-used” variety, because that is all he can afford with the bit of cash sent to him from Miami. Besides, he still needs a pair of twin beds to replace the box spring inherited from a sister who emigrated 20 years ago, and which will continue to be his son’s bed until the first American arrives to rent the room.The government, of course, could try not to cede any ground, to take advantage of the negative effect of the struggle for democracy on the future psychological wellbeing of the people, and it will not ratify the United Nations covenants [3] on human rights nor, much less, hear talk of elections.Pitying me, an acquaintance of my daughters – a successful owner of a paladar who was in the midst of preparing his papers to leave the country when an opening to a bonsai-type of capitalism designed by Murillo* appeared – told me that, to him, “all that” about democracy and Human Rights is of no interest. He is no politician, he said, nor has he dreamed of writing for the newspapers. Rather, he is a businessman who has done well for himself, and he expects that with the million Americans expected to be flocking here every week, he will do even better. Making money is his thing. To that end, he has already begun setting up a second “paladar.”Hence the sorrow, in that word’s best sense, or perhaps, the despair, of the opposition. It is a sad fact, but also inevitable: the smell of money tends to make conservatives out of even the ultra-radicals of yesterday (as we saw happen in the USSR lately). A reaction, this, all the more terrible in a country such as ours where 70 percent of the population, never having known democracy, has learned to live without it -- and also being a country where survival has required pilfering here and there, dreaming of having things, of being able to live like one’s cousins in Miami. A dangerous indirect alliance with the government that will not be easy to break.The opposition’s despair increases with the government’s silence, its apparent immobility. I say “apparent” because the government has not ceased to make changes, to transfer to “non-agricultural cooperatives” (and by extension, it is fitting that the newspaper Granma should one day speak to us of “non-veterinary doctors,” “non-merchant marines,” “non-porno artists,” “non-retired military personnel”) even small-town aqueducts. Another shift not even dreamed of before now: a new investment law with room for the native citizen (i.e. the Cuban residing on the Island) in joint venture with foreigners or as sole proprietor – a development which, it goes without saying, cancels, makes obsolete, Murillo’s brilliant and sophisticated botanical design.However – and I repeat, however (and this is indeed the great enigma): Is the government making these changes with an eye towards opening a path for democracy? Or conversely, is it to facilitate the Chinese method [4], in which the pessimistic opposition presupposes the State will be immersed waist-deep in its eagerness for continuity? Only time can tell.Apart from these “non-Lenten winds”** optimism reigns supreme. Havana goes on renovating itself, When carpenters cannot find lumber, they buy old armoires, tables, doors to recycle the wood, to keep up with their orders and deliver furniture to the owners of houses or paladares who are preparing to accommodate a million Americans per week. Those who grow flowers increase their sowings. The bricklayers charge ever higher prices. A spirit of rejuvenation reigns, as the romantics might say, throughout the land.Of course, regarding elections, I hear less and less.Translated by Alicia Barraqué EllisonTranslator’s Notes:*Marino Murillo is Cuba’s Minister of Planning and Economy. The late Cuban economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a regime opponent, coined the term “bonsai businesses” to refer to the types of small private businesses now allowed by the regime: bonsai, of course, are very small, and are subject to constant “trimming” to make sure they are not allowed to grow to any significant size. **Likely a reference to the novel by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, “Los Vientos de Cuaresma (Lenten Winds)”. The protagonist is a policeman who is growing increasingly disaffected with contemporary Cuban society. The story takes place in the spring, during the Lenten season, when hot southern winds arrive in Cuba.  [1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/coca-cola-lenin.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org [3] http://translatingcuba.com/why-the-united-nations-covenants-antonio-rodiles/ [4] http://translatingcuba.com/capitalism-straight-away-or-the-chinese-method-first-rafael-alcides/ Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38397" align="aligncenter" width="550"] [1] Young Cubans marching in a government sponsored protest against the United States[/caption]Whatever the Cuban government does, that amorphous thing with no head or eyes, that they call “the masses,” is in its final days. And with it are also ending the repudiation rallies, detentions, physical attacks on the Ladies in White, and other forms of repression.Cubanet [2], Rafael Alcides, Havana, 29 January 2015 -- In the first elections of Cuban socialism, an old Communist leader would call the voters from his neighborhood and would instruct them which candidate they should vote for. I, being a provocateur and also a friend of his, told him, “Didn’t we agree to let the masses decide?” He replied to me, with a complicit irony while stopping the next voter in order to instruct him, “Yes, but we need to orient them.”I say complicit irony, because that leader understood that I, by that time, should have known all too well that the trappings of democracy are a farce in socialism, mere props. Being, after all, totalitarian, one thing the Socialist State fears is that the citizenry – “the masses” as those who “orient” them call it – could think for itself.From there proceeds the State’s lifelong fear of the artist, the intellectual – even of those whom it pretends to honor with its paper roses – and its fear of the individual, of the loner. In Cuba, the State – the better to keep an eye on him, and beyond that to convert him into one of “the masses” – made the peasant a member of a cooperative, he who had been granted two plots of land, and whenever possible made him live in housing developments where the units were joined window to window, allowing the residents to watch and overhear each other at good advantage.Clearly, this fear had to be hidden. Taking advantage of the political circumstances of the moment (we’re talking of the months following the Bay of Pigs [3]), the “Within the revolution, everything; outside the revolution, nothing”* pills were quickly manufactured, which had a certain flavor of patriotism on the outside, and much Soviet medicine on the inside.Even though they appear to have been produced for use by the intellectuals, these pills have been a daily dose administered to the masses. We observe them when, arguing that “the enemy** is listening,” Cubans are prohibited to speak unless it is to praise the Revolution. Or when, without consulting the people, the government declares wars in which the country will participate with tens of thousands of men. Or when, as right now, the government makes peace with the “enemy” of just a minute ago, according to the surprising announcement by Raúl this past December 17 [4].All right, now. Following this announcement, which the people have greeted with emotion, these pills have lost their potency. Or, we must re-think this. Besides, logic and the reasoning of the Socialist State tend to not coincide. The foreign press continues mentioning (while the national press doesn’t discuss it) new detentions, operatives stationed outside residences, all with the object of preventing the opposition from attending anti-establishment events, and reporting names of dissidents whose passports have been confiscated or not renewed – who rightfully fear being returned to their former condition of “prisoners at large.”But, why? When, after all, ‘round about two years ago, they were allowed to travel outside the country, and the government did not collapse. So, then, why this regression? And besides, why now, at this moment, when the hackneyed and same old song about the “plaza besieged” can no longer be invoked?We are not so Hellenic, although anything can happen in a government full of secrets.In any case, let the government do what it will now, that amorphous thing with no head or eyes, which the government leaders privately call “the masses,” is in its final days. And with it are also ending the repudiation rallies, detentions, physical attacks on the Ladies in White, and all manner of repression that has up to today been the government’s common practice.Because, with the ratification of the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – without which as a precondition for the agreements announced on December 17, 2014, Obama would have become a super-generous Santa Claus to Raúl Castro – the dissidents will, finally, enter into possession of the rights that will allow them to dedicate themselves, without government interference, to the formation of political parties, societies, professional schools and institutions, all essential to a democratic civil society. Why? Because in those little pills that are the Covenants — and the reason the government has not wanted to ratify them — is contained all that is necessary to articulate a democracy wherein the citizen can enter an electoral college and vote with decency, without anybody “orienting” him.Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison* Translator’s note: A line from Fidel Castro’s so-called “Speech to the Intellectuals,” delivered in June 1961.** Translator’s note: The “enemy” is a common epithet used by the Castro government and its supporters to refer to the United States.[1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/marcha_jovenes_cubanos.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org/ [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion [4] http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-and-the-united-states-will-reestablish-diplomatic-relations-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Cubanet, Rafael Alcides, Havana, 13 January 2015 — Following the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, Havana has become a cauldron of ideas about how we could have elections by secret and direct ballot – an exciting thing … Continue reading Continue reading
By Rafael Alcides — It’s December 17th. The majority (and right now there are about 30 of us in line at the pharmacy) is celebrating the agreements between Raul and Obama; if there had been firecrackers, they would have lit them. Anyway, … Continue reading Continue reading