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Translator: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Cuba Primera Digital, Eduardo Martinez, Rodriguez, El Cerro, Havana, 25 July 2017 –The Cuban people wish for, desire and silently demand changes that can lift us out of this sticky inertia wherein poverty resembles some plasticine or treacly substance that endlessly congeals in our hands. The demand is silent because we lack access to communication … Continue reading "Real Power / Eduardo Martínez Rodríguez" Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 12 May 2017 — At the recently concluded Fifith National Council of the National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), during skin-deep presentations, one timorous playwright expresed this thought: “A critical mindset is fundamental in society. UNEAC must become the thermometer wherein discussion is allowed.” It appears that in UNEAC, as in the … Continue reading "Nothing Has Changed* / Fernando Dámaso" Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 4 July 2017 — Happy Anniversary to the North American Government and People. Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, Havana, 16 June 2017 — Cuba is a distant planet. It has nothing to do with the rest of the world, because nothing functions there as in the majority of civilized countries. This “planet” is ruled by the whims of its ancient rulers who have spent almost 59 years doing whatever they please. … Continue reading "Planet Nothing" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 19 June 2017 — “Impotence.” This is the word that a performer in the Guiñol Theater (located in the basement of the FOCSA building in Havana’s Vedado district) uses when asked her opinion of the new Trump Doctrine regarding Cuba. On a day of African heat, a group of eight waits to navigate the Internet … Continue reading "Cubans Feel Like Hostages to Both Castro and Trump / Iván García" Continue reading
Fernando Dámaso, 13 June 2017 — Of the real and supposed problems that the Cuban Revolution proposed to solve, as the basis of its historical necessity, after more than half a century of exercising absolute power, many have not been solved, the majority have been aggravated, and others have emerged that did not exist before. … Continue reading "A Bad Bet / Fernando Damaso" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 3 June 2017 — In coming days when the administration of the unpredictable Donald Trump, following four months of review, announces its Cuba policy, it could be that Obama’s guidelines are retained save for touch-ups of a few items such as doing business with military enterprises that directly benefit the dictatorship. Good news … Continue reading "Cuba: From Worse to Impossible (and We Haven’t Hit Bottom Yet) / Iván García" Continue reading
Iván García, 1 June 2017– The majority of the openly anti-Castro opponents I know do not live in lavish mansions nor do they possess items fashioned with the latest technology. Neither do they boast bank accounts in financial paradises and they do not own yachts or beach houses.  I don’t believe any of them know how … Continue reading "Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván García" Continue reading
Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez, Havana, 18 May 2017—A neighbor of mine in Arroyo Naranjo recently had to ask an old friend of his who lives Miami to help him obtain some amitriptyline. A psychiatrist had recommended this medication for my neighbor’s wife to treat a nervous condition that would worsen without it. This drug, among … Continue reading "Miami Has It All, Even Russian Meat / Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez" Continue reading
Somos+, Ezequiel Álvarez, 27 March 2017 — I believe that, in the resistance against the totalitarian, military dictatorship of the Castros, the existence of diverse organizations is essential and necessary. If we fight against a monolithic system, it is indispensable to start from a pluralist base wherein there is room for different ideas. If communism’s major flaw is to intend … Continue reading "The Right of Assembly / Somos+" Continue reading
Iván García, 17 March 2017 — On a wooden shelf are displayed two bottles of liquid detergent, a dozen packs of Populares cigarettes, a packet of coffee, and, on a hastily-drawn poster, a quotation from the deceased Fidel Castro. Past 10:30 am, the hot bodega [in this case a store where rationed items are sold] … Continue reading "Cuba: To Live As Third Class Citizens / Iván García" Continue reading
Regina Coyula, 7 February 2017 — Today is the worldwide observance of Safer Internet Day. Best practices should guide navigation for the benefit of the user; thus, she would never have the sour sensation that her Facebook page has been taken down for having undesirable content or that he has lost access to his email account containing … Continue reading "#SaferInternetDay / Regina Coyula" Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 4 March 2017 — Another crazy initiative…a bit picturesque, perhaps interesting, but totally absurd. Representatives of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) arrive at the José Martí Airport in Havana with the express intention of combatting animal abuse and creating vegetarian habits on the Island. The idea of watching young activists dressed … Continue reading "Eight Truths About Cuba That the Bikini-Clad Girls Don’t Know / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez, Havana, 9 February 2017 — Try as I might—to avoid being a bore and accused of holding a grudge against the boy—I cannot leave Harold Cárdenas, the ineffable blogger at La Joven Cuba, in peace, I just can’t. And the fault is his own, because the narrative he makes out of … Continue reading "Too Young for the Party and Too Old for the Communist Youth / Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez" Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 27 January 2017 — With notable determination, the Cuban government seeks to lure, or rather rope-in, physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers who have defected while serving on medical missions outside Cuba. To this end, it has sent out a flyer in which it assures that the right of return is guaranteed–just as … Continue reading "Cuba Seeks to Have Defecting Physicians Return to Work in the Island / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 16 December 2016 — Twenty-seven years after Cause Number 1, the judicial proceedings that resulted in the deaths by firing squad and arrests of several high officials of the Cuban army and secret services, Ileana de la Guardia–daughter of the then-colonel of State Security of the Havana regime–believes that the decision to execute … Continue reading "Ileana de la Guardia: "Castro Executed My Father Because of Rivalry" / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 29 November 2016 — In October, Hurricane Matthew struck the eastern side of the Island, creating destruction and desolation in Maisí, Baracoa, and other communities of the territory, from which their inhabitants–given the precariousness under which they were already living–will take years to recover. This is especially so being that much of what is reconstructed … Continue reading "Little War Games / Fernando Dámaso" Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 12 September 2016 — In light of the proliferation among Cubans of garments adorned with elements of the United States flag and, to a lesser degree, the flag of England, some “defenders” of the national identity and of patriotic symbols have proposed making the Cuban flag more visible, as “many Cuban flags.” Being that … Continue reading "The Flag "Bearers" / Fernando Dámaso" Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 27 November 2016 — On Saturday 26 November of this year, my telephone rang at almost 2 in the morning. I picked it up with trepidation because normally at that hour one expects to hear bad news. The reality, however, was different: a friend was calling to inform me of Fidel’s death. I was … Continue reading "Period of National Mourning, or Curfew? / Rebeca Monzo" Continue reading
Hablemos Press, 26 November 2016 — The dictator Fidel Castro has died in Havana this 25 November. He was among the military men who ruled the Island with an iron fist for 49 years, amassing a great fortune–despite being a critic of capitalism. Hablemos Press, 26 November 2016 — The dictator Fidel Castro has died … Continue reading "The Dictator’s Fortune Exceeds 900 Million Dollars / Hablemos Press" Continue reading
Ángel Santiesteban, 2 September 2016 — After writing what will now be considered the first part of this post, and publishing it under this same title, I was arrested by State Security; however it was not the writing, and much less the visibility that it would attain in my blog, that was the real cause for the … Continue reading "Assassins, Accomplices, and Victims (II) / Ángel Santiesteban" Continue reading
Vicente Botín, Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), The Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel, 29 July 2016. Once upon a time… A female cat fell in love with a handsome young man and prayed to the goddess Aphrodite to turn her into a woman. The goddess, pitying the cat’s yearning, … Continue reading "Cuba: Tallies and Tales of the Reforms / Vicente Botín" Continue reading
Mario Lleonart, 24 September 2016 — During this past July 28-30, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2016 meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, held in Miami, as part of the panel discussion,”Transitional Justice and the Longed-For Cuban National Reconciliation.” My paper was on “The Longed-For National Reconciliation: Challenges, Realities … Continue reading "Vicente Botin, the Spanish Journalist Who Can’t Get Cuba Out of His Mind / Mario Lleonart" Continue reading
Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera, Havana, 30 August 2015 — During a recent broadcast of Televisión Cubana’s national news program, the government denounced the first ever Cuba Internet Freedom Conference, scheduled for 12-13 September in the city of Miami, which members of Cuban civil society will attend to participate in the debate. The argument utilized for … Continue reading "Cuban State Media Monopoly Denounces Internet Freedom Conference / Hablemos Press, Eduardo Herrera" Continue reading
Hablemos Press, Armando Soler Hernández, 1 August, 2016 — Timothy Garton Ash is a well-known journalist, editorial writer and British researcher. His books on history are notable, above all for their distinctive focus on recent contemporary history. During the 1970s, Ash became interested in researching the period of anti-Hitler resistance in Nazi Germany. While seeking … Continue reading "The Stasi’s Sad Footprint / Hablemos Press, Armando Soler Hernández" Continue reading
Angel Santiesteban, 30 March 2016 — The denunciation of the violation of Ángel Santiesteban’s human rights has been accepted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The organization has given the Castro dictatorship a three-month deadline to respond. – The Editor [A translation of the letter from the IACHR, addressed to Ángel Santiesteban’s editor, Elisa Tabakman, follows … Continue reading "ICHR Accepts Denunciation of #CUBA for Violation of Ãngel Santiesteban’s Human Rights / Ángel Santiesteban" Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 25 July 2016 — Tomorrow, a new anniversary of the 26th of July–that failed insurrectional action of 1953–will be commemorated. This date, one of the principal ones of the Castro regime’s calendar, served as the title and standard for the political movement that emerged from the event. The province of Sancti Spíritus has been selected as … Continue reading "The 26th, Again / Fernando Dámaso" Continue reading
Hablemos Press, Cuban Journalists and others* (see below), 13 May 2016 — Officials of the Cuban Communist Party hired a Swiss attorney to establish offshore companies for their global business activities, the Panama Papers reveal. The unprecedented leak of 11.5-million documents from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama exposed the offshore actions and suspicious … Continue reading "Cuban Officials in the Panama Papers / Hablemos Press" Continue reading
Hablemos Press, Leonel Rodriguez Lima, Havana, 16 April 2016 — It has been much-emphasized by Cuban officialdom that we are in the process of constructing an indigenous or distinctly Cuban socialism, prosperous and sustainable. But the phrase could turn out to be a hollow one, being that its realization continues to be delayed as time … Continue reading "Cuba: A Prosperous and Sustainable Socialism? / Hablemos Press, Leonel Rodriguez Lima" Continue reading
Hablamos Press, Eduardo Herrera, Havana, 16 May 2015 — In recent weeks, meetings between Raúl Castro and various heads of state have attracted the attention of national and international public opinion. During his visit to Algeria, Castro met with Abdelaziz … Continue reading Continue reading
Mayabeque, Cuba. – Cubans immersed in the day to day of survival with a salary of $20 per month make thousands do thousands of work-arounds to earn a living. These images captured by my lens reflect the daily life of … Continue reading Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 12 May 2015 — When it comes to talking about human rights, our authorities ignore the 30 items in the Universal Declaration about them, and they go on to extol the medical, educational and other types of assistance they … Continue reading Continue reading
Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 9 May 2015 — What would I say to Pope Francis if I could speak with him minutes before his meeting with Raúl Castro?*  If Jesus came into the world to save the impure, to sit also at the … 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
To guarantee the prevalence of solidarity and respect, a bill is urgently needed that would penalize acts of repudiation, and hold their perpetrators and accomplices criminally responsible. Help me to promote this bill. Act of Repudiation A Bill to Penalize … Continue reading Continue reading
“The Editor”, 4 April 2015 — But you are not one of those worthy men who serve a prison sentence in Cuba for raising his voice against the abuses of the dictator. You are a prisoner of conscience, because your … Continue reading Continue reading
A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed as they are blown along the ground by wind. Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and require special conditions to … Continue reading Continue reading
Dora Leonor Mesa, 24 April 2015 — The photos of Cuban President Raúl Castro conversing with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during the Seventh Summit of the Americas are still appearing on the principal pages of the world’s most important … Continue reading Continue reading
Diario de Cuba, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Havana, 23 April 2015 — According to a close friend, no fewer than half of the graduates of Cuban universities during the last 50 years, have been graduated in vain.” Such an assertion might … Continue reading Continue reading
[1] Civil society activists from other countries confronted the Cuban government’s “civil society” representatives with these signs, reading “Democracy is Respect” / Source, InternetRebeca Monzo, 19 April 2015 — A magnificent professor of philosophy, deceased now for some years, of whom I had the honor to be a student, would invariably begin his classes with a saying. He would assert that all of life’s wisdom could be found in a compendium of Spanish popular sayings.In an article published in the daily Granma, on 15 april of this year — a fragment of which I reproduce below — the First Vice President of the Councils of State and of Ministers, during his visit to the city of Matanzas, urged solutions to grave problems in education. He stated, “There is a deficit of 1,086 teachers, primarily in the municipality of Cárdenas and surrounding areas, and so far in this school year, 244 requested leave of absence…”The Minister of Education remarked that, “One of the causes of the exodus of teachers, and of the current lack of activity, is the teaching overload that the teachers remaining in the schools take on.” The First Vice President also inquired about the construction status of the schools, 43.4% of which have a rating of average or poor.How is it possible that only six months ago — when announcements were made with great fanfare in the press, radio and television about the start of the 2014-15 school year — it was said that everything (teachers, classrooms, uniforms and books) was ready? It is obvious that there were lies then, as there have been in all spheres throughout all these years.As a recent highlight of this string of falsehoods, the decisive blow was administered by the official delegation, organized and prepared by the regime, to represent us at the recent Civil Society Forum during the Summit of the Americas in Panama. The prefabricated members of this delegation themselves were those charged with nakedly showing themselves with their wrongdoing and the marginalized way they acted before the press and international public opinion, exposing yet another of the great lies of the regime. Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] https://porelojodelaaguja.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/capture.jpg Continue reading
[1]Juan Juan Almeida, 26 March 2015 — The online Brazilian portal Jornal Da Band denounced the social welfare program Más Médicos (More Doctors), which is aimed at the most needy sectors of the Brazilian population, and deploys Cuban doctors to places where the Brazilian physicians do not want to work, as having been conceived as a way to transfer resources to the Island’s regime, and as an economic boost.Thought-provoking, but it seems to me simplistic to view in this type of humanitarian invasion just a simple economic undercurrent. It is necessary to know that Cuban involvement in healthcare started in the Algeria of 1963, when a health crisis and trachoma epidemic were ferociously taking over the Algerian territory. The Cuban ambassador at the time, Commander Jorge “Papito” Serguera, proposed to the Algerian health minister, a certain Mr. Bumasa, to confront the situation with aid of Cuban doctors.The Algerians accepted this proposal, and Seguera took his idea to Havana and spoke with Manuel “Barbarroja” Piñeiro, who in turn presented it to Fidel Castro. The latter, with canine astuteness, smelled the opportunity to penetrate through other fronts into African territory.Algerian public health was strengthened, the pandemic was eliminated, and the work of Cuban medical personnel spread rapidly through Africa to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America and the Caribbean–acting as a force to promote multi-million-dollar contracts and take control of strategic countries such as Qatar, China, South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil.At this time, Cuban medical personnel are present in 66 countries of the world — 40 of which receive the service at no cost, and another 26 which pay for it and generate revenues above and beyond a staightforward social program. The most conservative figures reported by the official media show that the exportation of these volunteer workers — who include physicians, ophthalmologists, healthcare technicians and service personnel — brings in more than $5.5 billion annually, which makes it the principal line item in the Cuban economy.Even so, besides the clear economic and humanitarian factors, the Cuban health program has other objectives.If it is true that Cuban doctors, as overseas volunteer workers, tend to a population of scarce resources, it is also true that they offer very diligent services to certain members of families that are not so disadvantaged.Jornal Da Band will be surprised to know the extensive list of important political figures, influential personalities and world celebrities who have been patients in the Island. But, why mention them? I feel that, to quote Che’s sadly famous missive, “There is no point in scribbling pages.” And the crushing truth is that the Cuban volunteers, besides being professionals, also know how to be persons, how to develop friendships, and to break the almost inhuman distance that certain medical protocols create between doctor and patient.It is not necessary to explain that healthcare requires commitment. I myself do not belong to that group that is willing to dedicate their lives to the noble cause of the homeland, but I would gladly give it for who would save my child, a friend, or an ill relative. Therefore, politically speaking, even more than ideology and making money, the Cuban medical missions have as their primary objective creating an army of the grateful spread throughout the world, who occupy an important place in the social sphere, who remain motivated and invisible, but ever at the ready to take action and speak favorably about Cuban medicine, the Cuban Revolution, and its hysterical leaders. Oops, the spell-checker played a trick on me! I meant to say, “historical.”The Cuban medical programs have basic objectives: political, economic, humanitarian and caregiving.Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] https://lavozdelmorroen.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/1427416388_medicos.jpg Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 15 April 2015 — The culture minister’s presentation of Cuban flags to twenty Cuban artists and intellectuals, members of the “governmental Jurassic park,” in recognition of their shameful behavior during the Summit of the Americas civil society forum — actions criticized and condemned the world over — is deplorable.It is true that our national standard, debased through improper and cheap use, has been losing over time, among many ordinary Cubans, the respect it always deserved, especially during the most complex moments of our history.Since wearing the flag as apparel (not unusual in some countries) is prohibited in Cuba, how ironic to be using it now as a mop cloth.The unacceptable and swaggering behavior of these artists and intellectuals deserves not recognition, but a reprimand, for how poorly they have represented all Cubans.True representatives of intolerance, dogmatism and the most caveman-like authoritarianism, they have amply demonstrated that, if this is our only civil society, we are better off without it.As no one has before, they have demonstrated that “within the Revolution, everything….” is possible.*Translator’s Notes: *A reference to Fidel’s so-called Speech to the Intellectuals in 1961, in which he proclaimed, “Within the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.”Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison Continue reading
[1] [2]Cubanet, Martha Beatriz Roque, Havana, 2 April 2015 -- Whenever the topic of democracy and the Cuban regime comes up, the top leaders say that this is the most democratic country in the world. The latest version is that “‘democracy’ is subject to interpretation, and every country understands it in its own way.”This also occurs with citizen participation, which assumes a receptivity on the part of government officials to listen to what the citizens want to communicate to them, to help improve the politics and management of public concerns. It means that all who want to get involved in matters that affect the people will be heard, and they will be allowed to contribute their points of view, concerns and possible solutions.Even so, although the regime talks a good game, the totalitarian power looms over the practically null power of the people, which makes citizen involvement quite difficult in Cuba, thus preventing the growth of participatory democracy.Today, in the modern democratic society, another way in which citizen participation takes place is through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which, in most cases, push for certain social and humanitarian causes.The regime in general pays very little attention to the participation of the citizens, however through “opinion surveys,” which it conducts constantly, it knows perfectly well what they are thinking, but there is no interactivity in the process.And the issue, according to the Constitution of the Republic in its Article 62, is that none of the recognized liberties of the citizens can be exercised against what is established in the Constitution and the laws of the land, nor against the existence and ends of the Socialist State, nor against the decision of the Cuban people to construct socialism and communism.It is for this reason that to maintain a majority control of citizen participation, there are those inappropriately named NGOs – the ones which the regime wants to be recognized as members of the civil society, and which in the official context are called “mass organizations.” Notable among these are the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs).This organization was founded by Fidel Castro on September 28, 1960, in a public ceremony in front of what is today the Museum of the Revolution, with the objective of carrying out acts of collective vigilance against foreign meddling and acts of destabilization committed against the Cuban political system.The CDRs have a structure controlled by the State which, besides their social labors, performs the principal mission of monitoring and controlling the public and private lives of individuals and all the neighbors, on a very close level.[caption id="attachment_39612" align="aligncenter" width="533"] [3] Automobile of the National Leadership of the CDR, with a State license plate (author photo)[/caption]Despite their being considered an NGO, it can be publicly seen that the CDR supplies come from the government, even though they collect a monthly per-member fee of 25 cents in national currency for financing their operations. For example, the cars driven by the nomenklatura of the CDR—at all levels—bear the organization’s logo and a State license plate. They have a considerable number of buildings to maintain the provincial, municipal and zone structures. If only one of these organizational levels were eliminated, housing could be provided to some of the families in the country who have no roof over their heads.One of the official arguments for considering the CDRs as promoters of citizen participation in the common good, is its intervention in elections. According to Article 68 of Law # 72 (the Electoral Law), the CDR includes the Candidacy Commission, along with other supposed NGOs, such as the Cuban Workers Center (which the CDR presides over), the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation of Secondary Students, and the Federation of University Students.The CDRs are in charge of keeping current the Registry Book of Addresses, which is the official roll in which all citizens must register when they move from one location to another. In most cases the official in charge of the registry is the president or the person responsible for neighborhood monitoring. It is difficult to comprehend that an official document that serves, among other things, to keep lists of voters, is in the hands of a non-governmental agency. Even less understandable is that the Law stipulates that those responsible for these registries must produce, within fifteen days following the publication of the call to vote in the Official Gazette of the Republic, a list of citizens who reside in their areas of purview who have, in their judgment, the right to vote, according to established law.In addition, the CDRs are the font of primary information for the “verification” done of individuals by their workplaces, the police, State Security, etc. – which implies, by the same token, an obligation to the state, and an official linkage.Among other duties they perform: blood donation, street sweeping on designated dates, collection of raw materials, participation in repudiation rallies against those who dissent from the regime, and the constant monitoring of the neighbors in their block. In some coastal areas they support the fight and vigilance against possible drug importations via the seas that surround the Island. They have quotas to achieve in the mobilizing campaigns to recruit participants for the parades and demonstrations in the Plazas of the various provinces.It wouldn’t be surprising to see a television program of official accounting, from the Interior Ministry, titled, “On the Trail of….,” in which they publicly show that their main source of information are the CDRs.[caption id="attachment_39611" align="aligncenter" width="533"] [4] Site of the National Headquarters of the CDR (author photo)[/caption]It is possible that they also consider it citizen participation to nominate those persons, during neighborhood meetings, who should be sold television sets or be assigned telephones. They have been so involved in State matters that, even during the Mariel Boatlift, they were ordered to give away the houses that were left vacant.The CDRs violate human rights, because they have been involved in “acts of repudiation,” which have included abuse, intimidation, and, on occasion, physical mistreatment, against those who have been deemed “counterrevolutionaries,” or enemies of the Revolution. Still today, in the minds of two of the generations that have lived through the dictatorship, memories persist of the events of Mariel, in which the CDRs actively participated, harassing entire families, physically and verbally mistreating them, simply because they wanted to emigrate.Although throughout the entire existence of this organization, numerous reasons can be identified which support the contention that the CDR is indeed an “official” entity, one would have to particularly name the fact that its National Coordinators have been members of the Council of State in the eight legislatures conducted to date: Jorge Lezcano Pérez, Armando Acosta Cordero, Sixto Batista Santana, Juan Contino Aslán, and Juan José Rabilero Fonseca. They were all representing this “NGO” until 2013. By the same token they were all at some point members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.This is the citizen participation of which the Castro dictatorship will boast, through its official spokespersons, at the Seventh Summit of the Americas.Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cdr-3.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org [3] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cdr-2.jpg [4] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cdr-1.jpg Continue reading
[1] [2]Cubanet, Luis Cino Alvarez, Havana, 30 March 2015 -- Despite the fact that on the three occasions I ever visited Varadero my experiences were not particularly pleasant, that beach – which today for the majority of Cubans is almost as inaccessible as Waikiki – occupies a special place in my nostalgia.The first time I was at Varadero was in November, 1970, during the Festival of the Song. I was 14 years old. I went with two friends who were more or less my age, fleeing our homes and playing hooky from school, chasing after the Spanish pop groups Los Bravos (without Mike Kennedy), Los Angeles and Los Mustangs. They weren’t really our top favorites (at the time when we had still not resigned ourselves to the break-up of The Beatles, we were crazy for Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Santana) but in the ideologically pure Cuba of the period, one could not aspire to something greater. Plus, we wanted the performances by those Spanish groups – despite how abysmally bad they sounded – to be our own version of Woodstock.But the police rained on our parade. We ended up in a police station that stank of shit and where from a poster on the wall the Commander in Chief [Fidel] stared at us, scowling. I don’t know if his angry expression was due to our insolent ideological diversionism, or because the 10 Million Ton Harvest [3] failed, and he had to devote himself to turning the setback into a victory at the expense of Nixon, whose name at that time was invariably spelled with a swastika in the newspaper, Granma.By throwing us in the pokey, they almost did us a favor, because outside it was as cold as Kamchatka [4]. The bad part was when the officers started to talk about cutting our hair, and we heard one say, "These guys are gonna get scalped." Luckily these were no more than idle threats. They let us go at the Cárdenas terminal with the warning, “Get the fuck out here right now, Punks.”My second visit to Varadero was in the summer of 1979. I went with my wife. We arrived unexpectedly, with a few clothes in a backpack. At that time, Varadero was not only for foreign tourists. Even so, we had to spend the night between the “Park of the Thousand Box Offices” and the sands of the beach. When the police threw us out of the park, we went to the shore. We drank Coronilla brandy, made love among the casuarina trees, and later, despite the mosquitoes, fell asleep in the sand. We were awakened by the border patrol, with dogs and bayonets, who told us that we could not spend the night on the coast. We then returned to the park, sans police. At dawn we returned to the beach and, when the sun was out, got into the water to wake ourselves up.We were only able to obtain lodging (very reasonably priced) in a little wooden “hotel,” the Miramar. As old and decrepit as it was, I suppose it no longer exists.We had a great time: all day on the beach, and at night we would go dancing to the beat of The Bee Gees at the La Patana club. The only downside was the couple in the room next door. When they made love, they would screech as if being murdered. Their screams penetrated the wooden walls, as if inviting one to emulate them – or to switch partners, because with all that racket, it was as if we were all entangled together in the same bed. When we finally caught sight of them one morning at the hotel entrance, these sexual athletes turned out to be a little chubby peroxide blonde, and a skinny guy with a mustache, nearsighted glasses and the look of an official from the Central Planning Council.The third and last time that I was in Varadero was in 1986, during an excursion on a “day for outstanding employees” that my wife won at the State company where she worked. We went with the oldest of our sons, who had not yet turned three years old. All went well, until we ran out of drinking water and, while searching for a faucet where we could fill several bottles, we lost the boy’s left shoe. This was a real tragedy because that pair of Chinese Gold Cup shoes had cost us a fortune at the Yumurí store.Since that time, I have not returned to Varadero – a place at first reserved for foreign tourists and the privileged elite, and now on the way to becoming a global resort, without an identity, depersonalized, only for the rich. Or rather, what we Cubans in our indigence understand to be “rich.” I don’t want to feel discriminated against, humiliated, or to be expelled in a worse way than I was back in 1970 – keeping in mind that, in the logic of the security personnel who watch me, a dissident would be much more troublesome than a kid disguised as a hippie.Varadero, in my mind, continues to be associated, in a certain way and in spite of everything, with happiness. I don’t want to ruin that image.The first time I was at Varadero was in November, 1970, during the Festival of the Song. I was 14 years old. I went with two friends who were more or less my age, fleeing our homes and playing hooky from school, chasing after the Spanish pop groups Los Bravos (without Mike Kennedy), Los Angeles and Los Mustangs. They weren’t really our top favorites (at the time when we had still not resigned ourselves to the break-up of The Beatles, we were crazy for Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Santana) but in the ideologically pure Cuba of the period, one could not aspire to something greater. Plus, we wanted the performances by those Spanish groups – despite how abysmally bad they sounded – to be our own version of Woodstock. .But the police rained on our parade. We ended up in a police station that stank of shit and where from a poster on the wall the Commander in Chief [Fidel] stared at us, scowling. I don’t know if his angry expression was due to our insolent ideological diversionism, or because the 10 Million Ton Harvest failed, and he had to devote himself to turning the setback into a victory at the expense of Nixon, whose name at that time was invariably spelled with a swastika in the newspaper, Granma.By throwing us in the pokey, they almost did us a favor, because outside it was as cold as Kamchatka. The bad part was when the officers started to talk about cutting our hair, and we heard one say, “These guys are going all the way." Luckily these were no more than idle threats. They let us go at the Cárdenas terminal with the warning, “Get the fuck out here right now, Punks.”My second visit to Varadero was in the summer of 1979. I went with my wife. We arrived unexpectedly, with a few clothes in a backpack. At that time, Varadero was not only for foreign tourists. Even so, we had to spend the night between the “Park of the Thousand Box Offices” and the sands of the beach. When the police threw us out of the park, we went to the shore. We drank Coronilla brandy, made love among the casuarina trees, and later, despite the mosquitoes, fell asleep in the sand. We were awakened by the border patrol, with dogs and bayonets, who told us that we could not spend the night on the coast. We then returned to the park, sans police. At dawn we returned to the beach and, when the sun was out, got into the water to wake ourselves up.We were only able to obtain lodging (very reasonably priced) in a little wooden “hotel,” the Miramar. As old and decrepit as it was, I suppose it no longer exists.We had a great time: all day on the beach, and at night we would go dancing to the beat of The Bee Gees at the La Patana club. The only downside was the couple in the room next door. When they made love, they would screech as if being murdered. Their screams penetrated the wooden walls, as if inviting one to emulate them – or to switch partners, because with all that racket, it was as if we were all entangled together in the same bed. When we finally caught sight of them one morning at the hotel entrance, these sexual athletes turned out to be a little chubby peroxide blonde, and a skinny guy with a mustache, nearsighted glasses and the look of an official from the Central Planning Council.The third and last time that I was in Varadero was in 1986, during an excursion on a “day for outstanding employees” that my wife won at the State company where she worked. We went with the oldest of our sons, who had not yet turned three years old. All went well, until we ran out of drinking water and, while searching for a faucet where we could fill several bottles, we lost the boy’s left shoe. This was a real tragedy because that pair of Chinese Gold Cup shoes had cost us a fortune at the Yumurí store.Since that time, I have not returned to Varadero – a place at first reserved for foreign tourists and the privileged elite, and now on the way to becoming a global resort, without an identity, depersonalized, only for the rich. Or rather, what we Cubans in our indigence understand to be “rich.” I don’t want to feel discriminated against, humiliated, or to be expelled in a worse way than I was back in 1970 – keeping in mind that, in the logic of the security personnel who watch me, a dissident would be much more troublesome than a kid disguised as a hippie.Varadero, in my mind, continues to be associated, in a certain way and in spite of everything, with happiness. I don’t want to ruin that image.Author’s Email Address: luicino2012@gmail.comTranslator’s Notes: *The title of this piece is taken from a line in the song, Conocí la paz, sung by legendary Cuban singer, Beny Moré. Varadero is a beach resort town in the province of Matanzas, Cuba.Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/varadero-cuba21.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org [3] http://faculty.mdc.edu/tpedraza/MMF-Ten%20Million%20Ton%20Harvest.htm [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamchatka_Peninsula Continue reading
[1]Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 March 2015 — Every morning we would lose ourselves amid the skyscrapers until we find ours. That one. The one with the artificial rain that would fall, even in the driest months of the city. She likes then to take a pause in our route. She would let go my hand and draw near to the false marble facades, until she would start getting wet almost without realizing it, from imaginary drops that would evaporate before reaching the asphalt. Imaginary but, even so, they would wet her in a dance that was greatly erotic and somewhat erratic.Her liquid hair, her transparent garb, in the megalopolis of limousines and suits. I would lag a bit behind. I did not want to interfere with those little mornings in liberty. They lasted so little, it was only an instant. Far from Cuba, far from the Revolution. Oh not so far. Because once, upon the end of an October of overcast skies and recurrent cyclones, it was raining for real in Manhattan. She said to me, “You smell it, too, right? Today is not New York, but rather Havana.” And she went out from under our umbrella, a grave bumbershoot more appropriate to those scenes of cemeteries at the end of the North American films of our childhood.Far from the “long island” [Cuba], so close to Long Island. She told me, “One day we are going to be like those imaginary drops that never fall. And another day it will be we who fall amid a tired rainstorm.” I just walked behind during the rest of that morning. I knew that she would never forgive me seeing her mix the rain with her foreign-city tears.Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison[1] https://orlandolunes.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/dca1e-concurso2bmarzo.jpeg Continue reading