Maggie Alarcón

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Fidel Castro, reflexiones recientes y el alboroto en los medios

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Politics, US on June 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

En semanas pasadas Fidel Castro ha limitado sus reflexiones a comentarios mínimos de no más de 65 palabras cada uno. Los temas han variado desde el yoga hasta observaciones tersas respecto a líderes políticos del pasado.

Los medios tanto en los EEUU como en Europa llevan días especulando sobre el estado mental del líder histórico de la Revolución Cubana. ¿Será que estará enfermo? ¿Se habrá cansado de tanto escribir? ¿Habrá perdido la cabeza? Todo esto debido a que las más recientes entregas por escrito han sido cortas y escuetas, y a menudo inexplicables para el lector.

A pesar de que estos exabruptos de especulación pudieran bien tener algo de cierto, y es posible que el octogenario estadista del siglo XX podría bien estar perdiendo facultades y esa habilidad sobrenatural de comandar el verbo escrito y oral, todo esto es tan hiperbólico como lo es improbable y definitivamente una suposición apresurada al estilo de la prensa amarillista.

No se puede pretender que Fidel Castro se mueva en el mundo del Blog o del Twitter. El motivo principal de esto es obvio: las restricciones que hay en la isla sobre la Internet son reales y también parte de la ola de críticas que recibe el gobierno a diario tanto dentro como fuera de la isla. Cuba está bajo controles internos y externos en materia de internet y estas afectan a las agencias extranjeras en la isla, las sedes diplomáticas, las agencias de prensa, las corporaciones extranjeras y por supuesto al ciudadano común. No se puede pretender que Fidel haga como otros mandatarios de estos tiempos, Obama, Chávez y Correa que gozan de una mucho mejor situación en el mundo de la www.

Debido a esto, Fidel Castro ha estado produciendo obras ideales para un sitio blog personal pero en vez de hacer eso lo que ha hecho es enviar a que se publiquen en los dos periódicos principales de la isla y en el sitio no oficial de noticias por internet Cubadebate.

Estas reflexiones siguiendo a tono con el estilo del carácter de Fidel Castro han ido creciendo de una a cuatro páginas cada una haciendo de estas no solo una lectura prolongada sino también poco funcional para estos tiempos modernos. Es posiblemente debido a esto que lo que esté haciendo el antiguo presidente cubano sea un ejercicio de entrenamiento para adentrarse en el mundo del Twiteo, si tenemos en cuenta que lograr la maestría de comunicarse en 140 caracteres o menos es harto difícil.

Ya sea que esté perdiendo la cabeza, - algo poco probable – , o que esté practicando el arte de dominar el Haikú de estos tiempos modernos, la realidad es que tanto los medios como los gobiernos no le pierden ni pie ni pisada a cuanto escribe al punto que se preocupan por el “como” y el “cuanto” tanto como por el “que”. Me pregunto entonces, ¿no hubiera tenido más lógica sentarse con el hombre frente a frente hace más de 60 años a conversar? O mejor aún, ¿porqué no sentarse con el hermano ahora?

Las turbulentas aguas del estrecho de Florida

In Alan Gross, Blockade, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on June 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Inspirado en la Divina Comedia de Dante, el Pensador de Rodin parece estar “pensando” como entender el enrredo entre Cuba y EEUU…

Por Rafael Chacón

Tomado de Cartas desde Cuba 

Estados Unidos se queja porque el sistema bancario de Cuba no es trasparente y eso habría permitido que unos cubanos -refugiados de “la persecución comunista”- estafen al sistema de salud y saquen el dinero a través de un banco extranjero que también opera en la isla.

Es sorprendente que Washington le pida a Cuba trasparencia bancaria a pocos días de sancionar a un banco holandés por hacer negocios con La Habana. Antes ya habían castigado a otro suizo y, si no recuerdo mal, también a uno de la lejana Australia.

Pero parece que andar persiguiendo los negocios de la isla por todo el mundo los agota y quieren simplificar las cosas: el Banco Central de Cuba debe trasparentar todas sus actividades para que a ellos les resulte más sencillo castigar a los socios financieros de la isla.

Mal vista esa propuesta de trasparencia bancaria puede parecer hasta tonta, sin embargo, vista desde el optimismo -mucho optimismo- podría ser el primer paso hacia un acuerdo de colaboración bilateral en la lucha contra el lavado de dinero.

Si las autoridades estadounidenses están tan interesadas en perseguir ese delito tienen la opción de comprometerse a cesar la persecución financiera mundial de Cuba y, entonces sí, solicitar a este país que siga las normas internacionales de trasparencia bancaria.

Claro que La Habana se lo va a pensar muy bien, no sea que les ocurra como cuando comunicaron al FBI sobre las acciones violentas que se fraguaban en el exilio de Miami y al final sirvió para que capturaran a los agentes cubanos que consiguieron la información.

Sus juicios estuvieron tan viciados que Gabriela Knaul, relatora de la ONU sobre la independencia de jueces y abogados, acaba de expresar a Washington su preocupación por el proceso judicial contra los 5 cubanos encarcelados en EE.UU. por conspiración para cometer espionaje.

La ingenuidad de Cuba con el FBI los llevó a la cárcel. Cuatro de ellos aún permanecen en prisión y el quinto está en libertad vigilada en Miami.

Y parece que no habrá cambios en su situación legal, La Casa Blanca rechaza la oferta cubana de liberar a los 5 a cambio de Alan Gross.

Washington asegura que ellos son espías y Alan solo es un inocente “contratista”. Es verdad que trabajaba por “contrato” pero al servicio del gobierno de EE.UU. y contrabandeando a Cuba equipos de comunicación tan sofisticados que algunos solo los usa la CIA y el Pentágono.

En la negociación para liberar a Gross EE.UU. apostó todo el tiempo a “caballo ganador” porque conocían de antemano cada intención cubana. Sin embargo, desde hace unos meses perdieron sus ojos y oídos y la reacción parece ser dar palos de ciego.

Un buen ejemplo son las declaraciones de la Secretaria de Estado Hilary Clinton, anunciando que intensificará el programa de desarrollo de comunicaciones clandestinas en Cuba, lo cual es un golpe a las esperanzas de una salida humanitaria para Gross y su familia.

Para evitar más estadounidenses presos, ahora intentarán extender internet a partir de equipos que se venden en las tiendas cubanas. Es difícil que tengan éxito, salvo que sus objetivos reales sean que La Habana limite más el uso de las nuevas tecnologías y reprima a la ciberoposición.

Porque hay una evidente contradicción entre una Hilary Clinton que pretende promover internet en la isla y su colegas del Departamento del Tesoro, que ordenan a Google prohibir a todos los cubanos el uso de algunas de sus herramientas.

Y no hay la menor duda, Christine Chen, gerente de Comunicaciones Globales y Asuntos Públicos de Google lo dejó muy claro: “tenemos que cumplir con las políticas del Departamento del Tesoro (…) no se puede usar Google Analytics en los países sometidos a embargos”.

Washington carga así las armas de los inmovilistas de esta orilla. La censura de Google y los millones de dólares regalados por Hilary a la ciberdisidencia son la justificación perfecta para que algunos propongan nuevas restricciones “que nos permitan enfrentar esta agresión imperialista”.

Ahora les resultará mucho más sencillo justificar la censura y la existencia misma del Ministerio del Silencio, limitar el acceso de los ciudadanos a internet, mantener en secreto el destino del cable submarino y declarar hostil a todo el que no les sea incondicional en la red.

Cuando llegué a la isla, Victorio Copa -un colega muy cubano a pesar del nombre- me dio un sabio consejo: “si quieres entender lo que sucede en Cuba estudia sus relaciones con EE.UU. porque casi nada de lo que ocurre es ajeno a ese conflicto centenario”.

Fidel Castro, recent reflections and media hype

In Alan Gross, Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, History, Politics, US on June 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

Margarita Alarcón Perea

In the past weeks Fidel Castro has limited his reflections to minor comments of no more than 65 words each. The subject matter has oscillated from yoga to terse observations on leaders from the past.

The media  both in the US and Europe has been speculating that the former leader of the Cuban nation is either tired, old, or simply slowly going insane given the somewhat vague literary entries, oft times, inexplicable to the reader.

Although these bursts of speculation could all well be true, and the 85 year old leader could be seen as a man who has finally lost his unearthly ability to speak and command the written word, this is both as unlikely as it is hyperbole as an analytical assumption.

Fidel Castro can’t be expected to blog or Tweet. The main reason for this is the reality that Internet restrictions on the island are real and that one of the main criticisms towards the government of Cuba is precisely the constraints on Internet connection and its accessibility  which includes foreign agencies (including the press corps and businesses) and the Diplomatic missions accredited on the island among others. Unlike other world leaders like Presidents Obama, Chavez and Correa, it would be totally unacceptable for Fidel to either Blog or Tweet.

Due to this, Fidel Castro has been writing what for many would have been the perfect literary food for a Blog spot but instead of blogging on the www his thoughts are posted on the front page of the two main newspapers and the internet version is posted in Cubadebate the unofficial government news blog.

These reflections in keeping with Fidel Castro’s character have gone from one page to over 4 pages in recent months making them both a long read and not functional for modern day media coverage. It is because of this that it be highly probable that what the former president of Cuba is doing at the moment is precisely his training game of learning to perfect the art of “Tweeting”. If one takes into account that mastering  the art of 140 characters to get a point across is not as easy as it may seem.

In a recent entry for the Huffington Post by Sarah Stevens, the author puts much of this possibility into a very enlightening and fathomable concept.

Whether it be that he has lost his mind, again, sadly for some, very much unlikely, or be it that he is learning the art of mastering the modern day form of Haiku, the reality is, that the media and governments insist on reading and listening to what he says and how he says it. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have sat down with the man for a face to face conversation over 60 years ago? Or better yet, sit down with his brother now?

La Jornada Supports Asylum for Assange

In CELAC, Ecuador, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Julian Assange, OAS/OEA, Politics, Press, Rafael Correa, US, Wikileaks on June 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

 

Press in front of the Embassy of Ecuador in the UK

 

 

By Tom Hayden

MEXICO CITY – The leading Mexican paper La Jornada is strongly supporting asylum for Julian Assange in Ecuador, in a sign of Latin American sentiment against his extradition to Sweden or the United States. The conflict is portrayed as one between the Old World and new democratic norms embraced by much of the world. “Ecuador will require the solidarity of honorable governments and societies like ours, which benefitted from the work of Assange and his team, and have obtained by way of their “leaks,” an invaluable tool for public scrutiny and social control of the authorities and world powers” a June 20 editorial declared.

Whatever response the Rafael Correa government gives Assange, the existence of a political refugee in contemporary Europe, the legal fury being directed against him by the authorities of two Old World countries, England and Sweden, and the silence of the Western powers in regard to this situation, demonstrates the hypocrisy and moral and political bankruptcy of governments that repeatedly claim to be champions of freedom, transparency, legality and respect for human rights”, the editorial went on.

“In this connection, it is worth mentioning that yesterday, while Assange was seeking political asylum at the Ecuador Embassy to avoid being extradited to Swedish territory, representatives of these powers attended the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where there was confirmation of their inability to come up with proposals for resolving the social and economic devastation that confronts their populations, particularly in European countries.”

Urge President Correa to Grant Asylum to Julian Assange

In Ecuador, Julian Assange, Rafael Correa, US, Wikileaks on June 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

 

 

There has been a petition out for over three hours requesting that President Rafael Correa of Ecuador grant Julian Assange politcal assylum.

Please log on and sign. President Correa should have as much support from around the world as possible and so should Julian Assange.

Vote to Grant Asylum

Hay una solicitud de apoyo al Presidente Rafael Correa del Ecuador para que le de asilo politico a Julian Assange.

Por favor entren en el sitio y voten. Hay que darle el mayor apoyo al Presidente Correa desde todas partes del mundo y tambien a Julian Assange.

Para votar pinche aqui Vote to Grant Asylum

 

 

 

ASSANGE SEEKS ASYLUM IN ECUADOR

In Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Latin America, Politics, US on June 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

President of Ecuador Rafael Correa left. Founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange right. (all possible puns intended!)

By Tom Hayden

Originally published in The Nation

In what might escalate into a major setback for the US government, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London and is seeking political asylum in that Latin American country. Relations between the US and most Latin American countries- and many others  around the world- are sure to be aggravated if the White House reacts negatively or tries to block an Ecuadoran asylum decision. It seems inconceivable that Ecuador will simply turn Assange over to the US or UK  authorities, setting the stage for a showdown with global repercussions.

President Rafael Correa is a progressive and populist economist who already has expelled a US military base from his country, survived an attempted coup and capture by right-wing military plotters, and expelled an American  ambassador in 2011 based on WikiLeaks revelations. Last year an Ecuadoran  court fined Chevron $8.6 billion for damage to the Amazon basin, a decision  which Correa called ³the most important in the history of the country.²  Correa also violated the tenets of US-imposed neoliberal policies by  endorsing Venezuela and Bolivia in refusing debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund in 2008. In a preview of things to come, Correa and Assange participated in a televised question-and-answer session last month on the Russia-sponsored network RT. Moscow has been a strong supporter of Assange, with Vladimer  Putin nominating the WikiLeaks founder for a Nobel prize.

US-aligned NGOs like Freedom House are attacking the Ecuadoran government for its attempts to contain private media corporations hostile to Correa¹s politics and domestic economic agenda. Correa generally is aligned with the  left-bloc of Latin American countries, although he enjoys positive diplomatic relations across most of the continent. In an example of the mainstream media distortion of all things Latin American, Reuters recently described Correa as a critic of US ³imperialism² in quotation marks. Nevertheless, the US has leverage in Ecuador as the country¹s largest trading partner, but with China and Latin American partners rising.

For more information link to  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-ecuador-usa-factbox-idUSTRE7367M

For WikiLeaks cables on US-Ecuadoran relations, link to   http://wikileaks.org/origin/65_0.html#

Castro on Democracy Now!

In Alan Gross, Blockade, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, LGBT, Miami/Cuba, Politics on June 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

Mariela Castro Espín on Democracy Now! live at the firehouse in New York City

 

<pAMY GOODMAN: In a Democracy Now! special, we begin our show today with a rare U.S. interview with the daughter of the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, and First Lady Vilma Espín. Her name is Mariela Castro. She’s best known in Cuba for her ardent support of gay, lesbian and transgender rights and as the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana.

Mariela Castro was recently granted a visa for a rare trip to the United States. Democracy Now! had a chance to sit down with her last week at the Cuban consulate here in New York City. We talked not only about her work combating homophobia, but also her thoughts on the Cuban Five and what’s happening in Cuba 50 years after the start of the U.S. embargo. She called on the United States to release five Cubans jailed for spying on violent anti-Cuban militants in exchange for U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years on charges of subversion. She says, “Free the six.”

We turn now to my interview with Mariela Castro. I began by asking her about what brought her to the United States. Mariela Castro was translated by Elizabeth Coll.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I presented my work at the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, which was held last week in San Francisco. I was also invited by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the work that you’re doing in Cuba.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I am the director of the National Center of Sexual Education. This is an academic center that is part of the Ministry of Public Health. Its mission is to coordinate the national program of sexual education with a multidisciplinary focus which coordinates different sectors.

AMY GOODMAN: Why have you chosen to make sexuality and the politics of sexuality your issue? You, yourself, are heterosexual. You’re married to a man. You have three children.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] This is work that my mother began with the Federation of Cuban Women. She was the one who created CENESEX. Though professionally I worked with preschool children and adolescents, as I heard about the difficulties of LGBT people, I began to sympathize with their needs and problems. Many LGBT couples chose to come to counseling sessions with me, and as I listened to them, I started to study, to find tools to be able to help them.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve come to the United States at an interesting time. The president, President Obama, has just endorsed same-sex marriage, marriage equality. What are your thoughts about that?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I think it’s very valuable that the president of the United States speaks out publicly in favor of the rights of same-sex couples. Being the most powerful country in the world, what the president says has great influence on the rest of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet we do not have across-the-board law that says that same-sex marriage is accepted. And in Cuba, you don’t, either. What are you doing in Cuba to change the laws?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] In Cuba, CENESEX is leading an educational strategy, with the support of the media, to promote respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity. We are also doing some advocacy with state institutions and civil society organizations, so that they support this educational strategy. Beyond the educational strategy and our media strategy, we are also promoting legislative initiatives that support the same rights for homosexuals and transgender people, so that, for example, the family code recognizes the rights of these people and also their possibilities as couples, the legalization of their union as a couple.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you pushing for same-sex marriage in Cuba?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I am promoting marriage, but it was not accepted by many groups of people. And so, what we are negotiating is the legalization of consensual unions and that the legalization of these unions would guarantee, more than anything, their property rights, inheritance rights.

AMY GOODMAN: So, do same-sex couples have the same economic rights as heterosexual couples?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] All rights are guaranteed for all people. There is no exclusion for LGBT people. But where there is still not respect for their rights is around the guarantee that if one member of a same-sex couple dies, the survivor be recognized as the person who should receive the inheritance, or even just be allowed to enjoy the goods that they had enjoyed as a couple.

AMY GOODMAN: Presumably, you have your father’s ear, the president of Cuba. How does he feel about making it fully equal between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] He is convinced that it is necessary, that it is part of the project of full justice the Cuban Revolution proposes.

AMY GOODMAN: Is he supportive like you are?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] He has been supportive since before, from when my mother was working on these issues.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about gay men and lesbians in the military?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] In all of Cuban society, there are all kinds of people. In the army, as well, there are homosexuals and lesbians. They don’t manifest it publicly, but they are there.

AMY GOODMAN: If it is known, if they are open, would they be kicked out of the military?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I see that the rules have become more flexible. Of course, before, they were more rigid. I think that in all Cuban society, the policy and laws are becoming more flexible. And the same will happen in the army.

AMY GOODMAN: We return to my conversation with Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro. I asked her about the Cuban Five, the five men convicted in 2001 for spying on violent anti-Castro militants in the United States.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] As part of the Cuban population, I am committed to fighting for the liberation of the five Cubans, in this case, four Cubans who are imprisoned and one who is out on probation in Miami. And, really, they are serving very severe sentences that do not correspond with the evidence. There is no evidence for such severe sentences. If they had been tried justly, they would have already completed their sentences. And yet, they are still prisoners.

AMY GOODMAN: I dare say most Americans don’t even know who they are, why they’re in jail. Can you explain?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] It has been silenced because it is a kind of political vendetta. You know that Cuba, since the beginning of the revolution, has been the victim of terrorist attempts, organized and perpetrated by terrorist groups based in Miami of Cubans who have even confessed to be killers. They have confessed their crimes, even in books that have been published and in interviews on television. But they have not been brought to justice. However, Cuba has more than 5,000 victims of state terrorism between the dead and the wounded. Thus, as a society, as a sovereign nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we do it peacefully.

How? Infiltrating Cuban people who identify with the revolution, infiltrating them into these terrorist groups to alert the Cuban government as to when these terrorist attacks were going to take place, in order to be able to thwart the attempts and defend our population. These terrorist groups enjoy great economic and political power in Florida, and thus, judgments were made that violate the laws of the United States, and they were made in Miami by totally partial judges who oppose the process of the Cuban Revolution.

AMY GOODMAN: Would the Cuban government be open to a prisoner swap, the Cuban Five for Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned by the Cuban government?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] The Cuban government has expressed interest in finding a negotiated solution on humanitarian terms, and of course it is fully disposed to negotiate with the government of the United States. But it has not received any response.

AMY GOODMAN: Cuban-American Congress members in the United States have condemned the Obama administration for giving you a visa into the United States. Díaz-Balart, Congressman Díaz-Balart, said, “It is appalling that the Obama administration is welcoming high-level agents of the Castro dictatorship onto U.S. soil. While the Cuban people are struggling for basic freedoms in the face of increasingly brutal repression…”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says, “Mariela Castro is part of a ruthless dictatorship that has oppressed the Cuban people for more than half a century. She wants to spew [out] the lies and propaganda of her family’s failed regime and doesn’t want to answer questions from a free and independent media.”

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I am not going to respond to the mediocre yellow press that she tries to impose on me, which for 50 years has spread lies about the Cuban Revolution. I also want to say about these Cuban congresspeople that you mentioned, everyone in the United States and Cuba knows that they promote laws that violate the rights of Americans to travel to Cuba, that violate the rights of the Cuban community and Cuban descendants in the United States, who are 1.8 million people, to travel freely to Cuba to reunite with their families. These people are constantly promoting legislation that worsens the economic blockade. And with the revolutionary government of these more than 50 years, the Cuban people have found freedom and full justice.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been allowed into the United States under the Bush administration.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I entered in 2002 for another congress in Los Angeles.

AMY GOODMAN: What would a lifting of the U.S. embargo against Cuba mean for your country, Mariela Castro?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] In the first place, it would mean that the government of the United States would begin to respect international law. It would mean the beginning of the end of one of the worst human rights violations: that suffered by the Cuban people because of the blockade. For Cuba, it would mean access to development that has been limited by the blockade. And Americans and Cubans could meet in friendship, without the mediation of these unscrupulous congresspeople who manipulate the policy of the United States towards Cuba in service of their personal power and economic interests, and not in function of the necessities of the Cuban people both within Cuba and beyond.

AMY GOODMAN: Your father, President Castro, has been making a transition in Cuba. Can you talk about the changes that you think are most important for people in the United States to understand?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] One of the most important changes is that the new economic and social strategy has been designed with the full participation of all the Cuban population, who have participated in the debates, both to question the current reality as well as to propose what changes should be made.

AMY GOODMAN: There is a lot of discussion of a post-Castro Cuba. What do you think that would look like?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] The same—with the same strategy of socialist development, which is always looking for more efficient mechanisms to support social justice and national sovereignty, and also with new public figures, because there are many people participating in Cuba in all the decisions. So that would mean new faces for the media. But for Cubans, those faces would not be new.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you consider the presidency of Cuba?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] No. That job doesn’t interest me.

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I like my job.

AMY GOODMAN: There are other socialist governments in Latin America—Bolivia, Venezuela—where there are elections. Would Cuba go in that direction?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I think Cuba has publicly expressed what the mechanisms of popular election will be, and what is being proposed is to perfect them, not repeat what others do.

AMY GOODMAN: What would it look like?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] Well, how we do it now is through mechanisms of popular election. It is the people who nominate their leaders. Term limits have been established, and the president, my father, is included in these term limits. This has been the result of a collective discussion, to give opportunities to others, so that they assume their responsibilities. And the mechanisms of control are being perfected so that the people have access to the control of the mechanisms of power.

AMY GOODMAN: How is the health of your uncle, Fidel Castro?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I just want to add, in Cuba, we don’t have electoral campaigns, and the Communist Party doesn’t field candidates. And the leaders don’t receive an additional salary. And the legislators don’t receive an additional salary, because they are still doing their jobs. So positions of power in Cuba do not generate economic interests in people.

Fidel looks like he’s doing really well. He is an octogenarian, so he doesn’t have the same vitality that characterized him his whole life—that where there was a problem, Fidel was there with the people looking for solutions; that where there was a threat or danger, Fidel was right there in front of his people. Fidel is now giving us the privilege of his writing, of the writing of history. There are things that only he knows. And he is giving us a marvelous historical legacy that gives the Cuban people a spiritual strength that is priceless.

AMY GOODMAN: How did he manage to survive? I believe it’s more than 600 assassination attempts by the United States, at least hundreds. The CIA documents many of them.

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I think it was three things. First, his charisma and his sense of justice convinced even his executioners. Above all, he was the leader of the Cuban people, he is the maximum leader of the Cuban people, and the people have always protected him. But he is also a third world leader. And in the countries that he visited where they organized the attempts, mostly organized by the CIA, these same populations protected him.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of President Obama?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] President Obama represents an imperialist government and policy. So if you were to say to me, “Do you prefer him? Would you like him as a president?” I would say I would prefer a president who responds to the interests of the American people, who protects the poor from the arbitrary actions of the rich, and that respects international law. I have a very personal impression that Obama is a person who tries to be just. But while occupying the position of the presidency of the United States, it is very difficult to be just. However, I am a person who always likes to think positively, and I would like to believe that Obama in a second term will be a better human being and a better president.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned issues of poverty and equality. What is your assessment of the Occupy movement in the United States?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] It’s very interesting to me how the American population has found new languages and forms of struggle, a new language of struggle to fight for their social demands. And they do it peacefully and with deep reasoning. I don’t think they are against the government. They are against the policies that violate their rights. And I feel admiration for the courage of these people.

AMY GOODMAN: What would you like to see most change about the United States?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] I want the Cuban Five to go back to Cuba and for Alan Gross to go home. I want an end to the financial, commercial and economic blockade that violates the human rights of the Cuban people, and the normalization of relations between both countries.

AMY GOODMAN: And what would you like to see most change about Cuba?

MARIELA CASTRO: [translated] In Cuba, I want to see the socialist system strengthened with mechanisms that are always more participatory and democratic, and that the sovereignty of Cuba always be respected.

AMY GOODMAN: Mariela Castro, daughter of the Cuban president, Raúl Castro. She is the most prominent champion of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in Cuba. She called on the United States to release the five Cubans imprisoned here in the U.S. They were spying on anti-Cuban militants in the U.S. In exchange, she says, Cuba should release Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen jailed in Cuba.

Una onda legal para David

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba/US, Politics, US on June 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Benjamin Willis,  músico que vive en Queens, Nueva York, miembro fundador de C.A.F.E (Cubanos Americanos en pos del Encuentro según sus siglas en inglés) y desde hace muy poco padre recién parido,  publicó un artículo muy elocuente en uno de los medios alternativos más leídos y serios de los Estados Unidos de Norte América.

Miembros de C.A.F.E y de otras organizaciones en los EEUU como  LAWG (Grupo de Trabajo para America Latina según sus siglas en inglés) se han enfrentado a la propuesta del Congresista David Rivera de enmendar una ley. El representante Rivera quiere modificar H.R. 2831. Esto básicamente quiere decir para los menos familiarizados con la legislatura estadounidense que quiere reajustar la Ley de Ajuste Cubano, ley donde se plantea que cualquier cubano que llegue a tierras de los EEUU tiene derecho automático a la residencia en ese país luego de un año y un día (USCIS).  Rivera quiere cambiar esto. El quiere modificar la ley de la manera más distorsionada posible. Según la propuesta de Rivera, cualquier cubano residente en los EEUU bajo la Ley de Ajuste que aun no se haya  hecho ciudadano, si intenta visitar a sus familiares en la isla luego de haber emigrado hacia los EEUU será automáticamente considerado “un ilegal” a su regreso a los EEUU.

Yo estoy de acuerdo con el Sr. Rivera. He aquí mi lógica al respecto: si Rivera se sale con la suya, la única opción para los cubano americanos viviendo en los EEUU bajo la condición de residencia será la de hacerse ciudadanos para poder viajar libremente a ver a sus familiares. Si logramos obligarlos a través de esta propuesta  nefasta maquiavélica e injusta a hacerse ciudadanos tendrán entonces el derecho al voto y  habremos logrado virar el curso de la historia a nuestro favor. Será entonces que los cubano americanos viviendo en los EEUU, la inmensa mayoría de la cual no tiene problemas políticos serios con la Revolución Cubana – por favor no confundirlos con la llamada “Mafia de Miami” – podrán ejercer su derecho al voto y votar a personas como Rivera fuera del gobierno de ese país y rumbo al destino que mejor les acomode.

Hablando claro, como dijera Bob Dylan “los tiempos están cambiando” y estos legisladores cubano americanos no proponen leyes para “el pueblo cubano”, las proponen para justificar salarios personales y otras ganancias.

Por eso digo, “Métele Rivera!” Una vez más tu tocayo David habrá vencido al inmenso Goliat; el número cada vez mayor de cubano americanos coherentes  miembros de una generación inteligente te derrotaran en tu propio campo de batalla.

El articulo de Benjamin Willis en Counterpunch  solo está disponible en inglés.  

Respect for democracy begins at home

In CAFE, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Politics, US on June 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

By Arturo López-Levy

Originally published in The Havana Note

Article 1 of the United States Constitution recognizes Congress as the first branch of US democracy, with the executive and judiciary following behind. Bicameralism was a central concept of the 1787 constitutional pact. It was seen as a republican “remedy” against potential abuses of legislative despotism. If the House was conceived to express the direct mood of the people, James Madison envisioned the Senate as a high chamber of “enlightened individuals” that would operate with “more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch”.

But a conspicuous gap has emerged between the founders’ design and the reality of some of today’s Senators. Poll after poll shows that the public holds Congress in low esteem. In the view of many Americans, some Senators not only reflect a polarized public but also contribute to making the system dysfunctional by abusing procedures, such as the unanimous consent rule, in pursuit of personal or parochial gains or to settle personal vendettas, rather than to defend national interests.

The Cuban community’s representation in US politics has been remarkable over the last decade. No place is this more evident than in the Senate. Although the 1.8 million Cubans living in the US only represent 4 % of the Hispanics and less than 0.6 % of the US general population, they have managed to elect three Senators since 2004. The first was Mel Martinez, a moderate republican from Tampa who served as HUD secretary during the first term of George W. Bush. Second was Robert Menendez, a congressman from New Jersey who was appointed by the state governor and successfully ran for reelection in 2006. After Martinez’s retirement in 2010, Florida elected Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the state House.

One might disagree with Senator Martinez’s positions, but his posture was appropriate for the high office he held. On the verge of a constitutional crisis in 2005 over President Bush’s controversial judicial nominations, and the threat by Majority leader Bill Frist to use the so called “nuclear option” against the democratic minority, Senator Martinez joined the bipartisan “gang of fourteen” and helped to diffuse the conflict, thereby acting with the “coolness” and long-term perspective the framers foresaw. During his service on the strategic Judiciary Committee, Martinez placed country above party and developed a congenial relationship with other members (including Senator Biden) that eased partisan tension and gained him the respect of his colleagues.

Unfortunately, the other two Cuban American Senators have not emulated Mr. Martinez’s respect for the institution. During the current 112thCongress, Senators Menendez and Rubio have abused their powers to filibuster, with unusual frequency and unwholesome motives, in order to hold up nominations to the judiciary and several positions in the Foreign Service. Such behavior makes one wonder whether the two Cuban American Senators understand the gravitas the framers embedded in the Advice and Consent function of the institution in which they serve. It also raises concerns over how the Cuban American right-wing political culture, characterized by incivility, dishonesty and vengefulness, pollutes the halls of Congress and contributes to a further decline in voter confidence.

Since Mr. Rubio arrived in the Senate, he has tried to micromanage the Treasure Department policy regarding licenses for travelling to Cuba. Wasting hours of the Senate’s precious time, Mr. Rubio has read, again and again, promotional materials about educational travel to Cuba by various US institutions interested in participating in President Obama’s people-to-people diplomacy, second-guessing the decisions of US officials who are acting in full consistency with the laws of the land and the regulations of their agencies.

Since the White House began implementing its own Cuba policy, supported by the majority of the Cuban-American community and the US public, Mr. Rubio has embarked upon a McCarthy-style crusade against the State Department that is damaging our nation’s policy towards the entire Latin American region. In the last three months, Mr. Rubio has held-up the nomination of three ambassadors (Jonathan Farrar to Nicaragua, Adam Namm to Ecuador, and Mari Carmen Aponte to El Salvador) as well as the nomination of Roberta Jacobson for assistant secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. As a result of Mr. Rubio’s pitiful bickering, US diplomatic presence in the region has been seriously handicapped, creating political opportunities for our adversaries.

In the case of Farrar, the former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana who simply carried out the policy of the State Department, Senator Rubio’s McCarthyism sent a chilling message: Ignore the Constitution and do not implement the policy of the Diplomat in Chief; Cuban-American right-wing politicians, not the State Department, will decide your promotion.  The same must be said about Mari Carmen Aponte. Mr. Rubio blocked her confirmation as the first Puerto Rican US Ambassador, despite the support of the entire US community in El Salvador where she had been serving under a recess appointment. The reason, he argued, was that more than twenty years ago, she had been sentimentally involved with someone who had links to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and who was also an FBI source.

It is reasonable to expect that Senator Menendez, as a senior Cuban-American legislator, would guide his junior colleague toward a more mature stance. But the opposite is true. Rubio is Menendez’s “A +” pupil. In 2009, Menendez was responsible for holding up the nominations of Dr. John Holden and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, both world renowned scientists, because of an issue totally unrelated to their careers: Menendez was simply retaliating against President Obama’s policy that allows unrestricted Cuban American travel to Cuba.

Just a week ago, Menendez was shamefully blocking President Obama’s nominee to a seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senator never presented one substantive complaint against Judge Patty Shwartz, who is rated by the American Bar Association as “unanimously well qualified”. The people of New Jersey know that Mr. Menendez was pursuing a self-indulgent political vendetta. Judge Shwartz’ companion of two decades, James Nobile, was the officer in charge of a public corruption unit that investigated Mr. Menendez and issued a subpoena against him in 2006. Only after massive pressure from his own party and powerful editorials against his action by the Washington Post and the New York Times, Menendez drop his block against Judge Shwartz’s nomination.

These behaviors, unworthy of the US Senate, should give pause to voters. The press must seriously scrutinize the moral capacity of these two Senators to honorably fulfill their constitutional duties of Advice and Consent especially in regards to the President’s policies towards Cuba. Senator Rubio’s lies about his parents’ immigration to Miami- reported by the Washington Post- and his hiding behind an artificially created clash with Univision as a pretext for not engaging in a televised debate about immigration are not isolated misdemeanors. The actions of Senators Menendez and Rubio are typical reflections of the authoritarian political culture that caused Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. By bringing this culture of deceitfulness, revenge and corruption into the US Senate, these elected officials are demeaning the very kind of freedom they claim to want for Cuba. They have forgotten that respect for democracy must begin at home.

Dawn Gable contributed to this article.

Amanpour & Castro

In Alan Gross, CENESEX, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, LGBT, Politics, US on June 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

The United States had a rare and unique opportunity last week to witness first hand a one on one conversation between two intelligent women. Unfortunately the event was promoted on live television for Spanish speaking audiences and for the international section of CNN.

Below please find the full English transcript of the conversation held between Christiane Amanpour and Mariela Castro Espín.

MAP

Mariela Castro during the May Day Parade march holding a sign from the “OBAMA GIve Me Five!” campaign

 

 

AMANPOUR: Mariela Castro, thank you for being with us.

MARIELA CASTRO ESPIN, DAUGHTER OF RAUL CASTRO: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you first, who inspired you to this cause of gay rights?

ESPIN (through translator): In the first place, it was my mother.

My mother began to do this kind of work in the Cuban women’s organization, first defending women’s rights, children’s and youth rights and little by little she began to try and have people be respected in the LGBT community that, because of a very patriarchal culture inherited from the Spanish system continues to be our reality, these prejudices are still repeated.

AMANPOUR: Let me show you these pictures that we have found, amazing pictures of you and your family, your mother and your father and your siblings. This is the current president, Raul Castro, your father. And this is your mom, Vilma.

ESPIN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And which is you here?

ESPIN: Here. Esta.

ESPIN (through translator): I’m right here. This is me. I’m the second child.

AMANPOUR: Given your family’s history and the revolutionary hero and the tough guy image in Cuba, was it difficult to take up this cause of gay rights?

ESPIN (through translator): All families in the world are patriarchal families and they’re machista families. And in the case of my family, the fact that my mother was already working in this field, she ensured that my father interpreted this reality in a more flexible way.

And for me it was always easy to speak openly with my parents and this idea of fighting against homophobia was really something that I took from them.

But even so, although I found understanding in my family and my family was very understanding, even my father is very understanding right now, it’s a very difficult and complex process, and this is why my father always said that I have to be very careful about everything and to do this very attentively and carefully so that I wouldn’t hurt other people who don’t understand, but that I do have to provide people the instruments with which they can respect other realities, even though they don’t understand them.

AMANPOUR: You have written, “As I began to recognize the damage that homophobia was doing to society, I would come home and confront my parents with the issue. And when I got home, I said to my father, `How could you people have been so savage?’ My dad said, `Well, we were like that in those days. That’s what we were taught. But people learn.’”

So it was an evolution for your father.

ESPIN (through translator): Exactly. I think that Cuban society as a whole has been changing and its political leaders are also changing as part of society.

AMANPOUR: Even in this country, it’s taken a long time for politicians to agree, for instance, to gay marriage, same-sex marriage. President Obama has just said that he supports it. You must admire President Obama.

ESPIN (through translator): Yes. And when I heard this news, and I was questioned about it in the press, of course I can say that I support and I celebrate what President Obama has done. I believe that it’s very just and I feel a great deal of admiration for President Obama.

I believe that if President Obama had fewer limitations in his mandate, he could do much more for his people and for international law and international rights. Yes, I think that I dare to say that, because I’m not American. That’s really a right that the American people have. But I feel the right to express what I feel, and if I was an American citizen, yes, I would vote for President Obama.

AMANPOUR: On this issue of same-sex marriage, do you think that will become legal in Cuba?

ESPIN (through translator): Already several years ago, my mother began to promote this bill and even trying to propose changing legislation. First we were proposing the freedom of same-sex marriage.

But since there’s been such a debate on this and there are so many diverse opinions in Cuba, what is being proposed right now are civil unions, where gay couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples. However, this hasn’t happened as yet, and people who are in same-sex couples do not have any protection.

AMANPOUR: You can see these pictures of gay rights marches in Cuba itself. When do you think this law will be taken up? When do you think that there will be progress from the Cuban parliament on this?

ESPIN (through translator): According to what had been planned, it’s this same year that this still has to be presented, which recognizes the rights of same-sex couples.

AMANPOUR: As we’ve been talking, you’ve talked about human rights and you’ve talked about the limits of the state. So let me ask you about the rights in your country and whether you think that gay rights, civil rights, could lead to more different kinds of rights, political kinds of rights. Where do you see this trend going, opening up the space for civil rights?

ESPIN (through translator): At present, in the last few years, there’s been a big debate that the Cuban people have participated in in many sectors. And there have been criticisms and suggestions of what we have to change in Cuban society.

And many valuable ideas have come from this. And what we’ve seen is what the population believes should be our socialist transition process in Cuba. And we want to include everything that we believe to be our need. And of course, this translates into rights, civil rights.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about that. I’ve been in Cuba several times over the last 14 years, and I can see that under your father, President Raul Castro, there’s been opening on the economic front, but not so much on the political front. Again, do you think these civil rights will lead to more political diversity, more political rights?

ESPIN (through translator): As to political rights, what are you talking about?

AMANPOUR: Obviously, there’s one party in Cuba, so that’s one issue. But Human Rights Watch says that Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent. So I’m trying to figure out whether there is space in Cuba for broader political rights, where people, for instance, can dissent without being sent to jail.

ESPIN (through translator): All right. Human Rights Watch does not represent the ideas of the Cuban people and their informants are mercenaries. They’re people that have been paid by foreign governments for media shows that do not represent Cuban positions correctly.

However, the presence of a sole party in Cuba came from the fight against colonialism, from Spain. Jose Martin had the merit of creating the Cuban revolutionary party in Cuba as a sole party, specifically to achieve independence and to avoid domination by the United States. So that’s the line that we followed in Cuban history because conditions haven’t changed.

And it hasn’t been easy. We’ve been working for many years to achieve this. We’ve achieved it in many spheres, in human rights, the rights of women, health, in many areas. But in other areas, where we haven’t reached that, we’re still working. That demand, that Cuba have various parties, no country has shown that having plural parties leads to democracy.

So the suggestions that they want to make to us aren’t valid. Conditions haven’t changed. Cuba is a country that for over 50 years have been subjected to the violation of international law with the financial blockade which has not allowed Cuba to access development.

AMANPOUR: I think I heard you suggest that if the embargo was not there and if you were not under pressure, that there would be a different political reality or there could be a different political reality in Cuba. Is that right?

ESPIN (through translator): Exactly. That’s right. If Cuba weren’t the subject of an economic and trade embargo, which has created so many problems for us, then Cuba, it wouldn’t make sense to have a sole party, just one party. But it’s when our sovereignty is threatened that we use this resource, which has truly worked in Cuban history.

AMANPOUR: As you know, there are many people, even inside Cuba, who feel that if the embargo was lifted, it would actually cause the one-party system to collapse. It would cause, perhaps, socialism to collapse.

ESPIN (through translator): I don’t think it would collapse. I don’t think socialism would collapse. I think it would become stronger. This is why they don’t lift the embargo.

AMANPOUR: Let me get to some of the reaction that your visit here has caused. Were you surprised that the U.S. government gave you a visa?

ESPIN (through translator): Even though I had obtained a visa under Bush in 2002, I was surprised this time. I didn’t think that I would be granted a visa. But I’m grateful. I was able to have a very rich exchange with professionals and activists in San Francisco and in New York as well.

AMANPOUR: You don’t need me to tell you what the Cuban-American community thinks. Florida Senator Marco Rubio accused you of bringing a campaign of anti-Americanism to the United States. Is that what you’re doing here?

ESPIN (through translator): In the first place, that senator doesn’t represent the Cuban-American people in the United States, just a very small interest group that has dedicated itself to manipulating policies in the United States towards Cuba affecting the civil rights of the Cuban-American people to travel freely and as often as they want, to be able to go back and see their families in Cuba.

So their leaders have always asked that we normalize relations based on respect towards our sovereignties and our social and economic projects. And I think that we can achieve this. I think it’s easy. It’s unfortunate that a small group of people are really limiting this process. I felt the friendship and the affection of the people of the United States.

I felt very well here. I’ve met wonderful people and I see that we share many points in common, Cuba and the United States. Right now in Cuba, there are many Americans because of the flexibility that Obama has. And it’s wonderful. They may feel very well there. And we’re ready. We’re ready to meet in friendship with any type of conditioning or political (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Did you expect more from President Obama or has he gone as far as you expected him to go on the Cuban issue?

ESPIN (through translator): I think that the whole world and the American people have placed great hopes on President Obama and I personally understand that that is his position and that his public mandate limits him a great deal.

But I believe that President Obama needs another opportunity. And he needs greater support to move forward with this project and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart. He wants to do much more than what he’s done. That’s the way I interpret it personally. I don’t know if I’m being subjective.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that he wants to lift the embargo, and that there could be proper relations between Cuba and the United States under a second Obama term?

ESPIN (through translator): I believe that Obama is a fair man. And Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision.

AMANPOUR: Do you want Obama to win the next election?

ESPIN (through translator): As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win. Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.

AMANPOUR: Now, as you know, there are many issues that cause problems between Cuba and the United States. One of the issues right now is Alan Gross. I want to play you something that he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN GROSS, AMERICAN HELD PRISONER IN CUBA: I have a 90-year-old mother who has inoperable lung cancer and she’s not getting any younger. And she’s not getting any healthier. I would return to Cuba, you know, you can quote me on that. I’m saying it live. I would return to Cuba if they let me visit my mother before she dies. And we’ve gotten no response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So my question to you is why should Alan Gross not be allowed to visit his sick mother?

ESPIN (through translator): The Cuban government has publicly requested that they want to negotiate based on human considerations, Alan Gross’ situation as well as the situation of the five Cubans who have been in prison for 15 years in the United States. And the Cuban people who are participating in this process is to seek a satisfactory solution for the six families, the five Cubans and for Alan Gross.

I think that it’s fair. I’m hurt by any families suffering. I’m dedicated to helping people and making them happy, and it seems to me that independently of the fact that he’s committed a crime and that he’s only served a short period of his sentence, I think that it’s fair that people can receive the benefit of flexibility in the world of law and justice, and that these negotiations go forward into the two governments. I think that as a people, we’re going to be very happy the situation has been solved.

But we have the case of Gerardo Hernandez, who’s in prison. His mother fell ill. He asked for permission to see his mother. His mother passed away, and Gerardo was not able to say goodbye to his mother. He also hasn’t been able to see his wife this whole time.

Alan Gross has been granted everything that he’s asked for. He’s been able to see his wife. He’s been able to have matrimonial conjugal visits and he has been treated with respect and dignity the way we always treat prisoners in Cuba.

We haven’t received the same treatment on the other hand for our five prisoners who have very long sentences. They’re not right. So what we want is the well-being of all of these families. That’s what we (inaudible) the most. I think that the six must be released, both the five Cubans and Alan Gross.

AMANPOUR: You yourself have said in New York this week, our system is open and fair, as you’ve just told me. Many would disagree with you, but you have said that. But you’ve also said that it could be more democratic. What do you mean by that?

ESPIN (through translator): I meant to say that we need to establish permanent mechanisms for the people’s participation when we make decisions, because this is the only way that all our people can participate.

AMANPOUR: We often wonder why it is that Cubans can’t travel very easily. Cubans have to get permission from the government to travel and come back. They can’t just leave. And it’s quite difficult to get permission. I mean, people have told me that inside Cuba. Why? I mean, what’s the point of that?

ESPIN (through translator): The subject of migration in Cuba was always managed politically from here and you know that there are many difficulties. And immigration law, even though the law in the United States is maintained, should change in Cuba.

So several years ago, there’s been a great discussion regarding the subject about how to modify this law and I understand that the fear and new immigration law will be approved in Cuba, which opens up to everything that the Cuban people have requested in our ongoing debate.

AMANPOUR: So you foresee change in the travel laws?

ESPIN (through translator): Yes, and I believe it’s going to come about very soon.

It’s one of the things that we’ve asked for the most in all of these discussions.

AMANPOUR: I have to ask you about somebody who you’re already having a bit of a verbal war with, and that is Yoani Sanchez, the dissident blogger inside Cuba. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to blog? Why shouldn’t she be allowed to say what she does?

ESPIN (through translator): The way I see it, Yoani Sanchez is allowed to express herself. She has a blog. She’s on Twitter. She’s on Facebook. She’s not in prison, even though she’s a mercenary. (Inaudible) she’s received over half a million dollar in prizes (inaudible) form of payment and (inaudible) mercenary does exist in Cuba.

Even though she’s done that, she’s not in prison. Even though she is breaking the law, she’s allowed to express herself and she’s allowed to lie. She has time to lie in everything that she wants. She’s free. She even has the most sophisticated technology which exists in Cuba to connect to Internet and to be able to publish her ideas.

AMANPOUR: In that regard, a couple of years ago, journalists came to Cuba, and they met with your uncle, Fidel Castro. And he gave an interview and he basically said the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore. What do you think he meant by that?

ESPIN (through translator): He meant to say that in this new era, in Cuba’s new reality, with the development of the political culture and functions (ph) in our country, it was time for a change. We had to change our strategy. And that’s what we’ve been doing. He realized it. And as a leader, he was calling upon us to do that.

But those changes do not happen overnight. I repeat, they have to be worked on. We have to generate a debate, and I think that that is what we’ve been doing. And I’m very satisfied to see that the maximum leader of our revolution has identified our difficulties, because as a people we were also defining them.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much for coming in.

ESPIN (through translator): Thank you very much.

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