Maggie Alarcón

Archive for the ‘CENESEX’ Category

Lo que no cuentan

In CAFE, CENESEX, Politics, Press on April 25, 2013 at 11:04 am

La misoginia (del griego μισογυνία; ‘odio a la mujer’)

Del grupo Tod@s Contra la Violencia nos ha llegado este testimonio que resulta oportuno divulgar en momentos donde la prensa en Miami, se hace eco de hechos que pueden ser inexactos, sobre todo si no se tienen todos los datos. Angel Santiesteban, si bien es un escritor con cierto grado de reconocimiento nacional e internacional, no está detenido por sus posturas políticas ni por las cosas que escribe. Está detenido por un motivo que va más allá de la creación artística y la filosofía. 

Hablan los medios sobre injusticias cometidas contra el reo en prisión, de ser cierto, por supuesto que es condenable, pero aun están por comprobar. Lo cierto es que su alegato no tiene nada que ver con la calaña de la persona de la que se habla. Este señor merece mucho más que la condena minima que le han impuesto.

Lo peor en el caso de Santiesteban es que insiste en encubrir una personalidad diabólica y sádica tras un velo de “pobre mártir incomprendido y reprimido.”  Si bien es cierto que lo peor de sus actos no ha sido el motivo por el cual se encuentra en la cárcel hoy, no es menos cierto que ha cometido un sin fin de actos antisociales, y que cada uno es penado por la ley.

Este señor se encuentra en la cárcel por  haber cometido delitos, varios, y ninguno tiene que ver con una agenda politica. Es triste que no lo esté por haber cometido otros. La violencia contra una mujer, la  madre de un hijo, la suya propia, una hija o cualquiera es un hecho condenable.

En su caso, los actos más violentos, no se limitan a allanamiento de morada, incendio provocado, ni a robo ni a tráfico ilícito de bienes mal habidos.

No.

Lamentablemente la violación, los atropellos verbales y físicos y la coersión, al parecer prescriben dentro de la ley.

Que agradezca Santiestaban que solo le ha tocado cumplir cuatro años de privación de libertad. Debería aprovechar  el tiempo que tendrá para meditar sobres sus actos y buscar ayuda, porque un hombre que se comporta como lo ha hecho él, y que hoy intenta escudarse tras el traje del creador incomprendido y atosigado, solo sirve para poner en evidencia lo misógino y cobarde que verdaderamente es. 

A continuación  la declaración de una testigo de la historia, la verdadera, la que no quieren contar.

Yo, la testigo

Decido exponer a la luz, mi versión de los traumáticos eventos de los cuales fue víctima mi amiga y compañera de estudios, Kenia, ex esposa de Angel Santiesteban. Me asiste mi condición de “refugiante” de ella y de su hijo durante medio año, y de testigo de los intentos que, en el pasado y hoy, se llevan a cabo para disminuir la culpabilidad del agresor. Para salvaguardar la privacidad de la víctima, no considero oportuno mostrar imágenes de su rostro. Por gratitud, celebro la solidaridad y apoyo que recibimos de muchos y de muchas, y sin ánimo de entablar polémicas (que a ningún sitio útil conllevarán), pero siendo necesaria mi declaración para quienes aún no cuentan con suficientes evidencias, a continuación expondré la secuencia de los hechos de los cuales soy testigo. Con toda intención, no estableceré valoraciones sobre la postura ideológica de Santiesteban, que él tanto se esforzó en mostrar, y que muchos enarbolan hoy, con el objetivo de distorsionar la real magnitud de su violencia, único motivo por el que ha sido condenado en la actualidad.

 28 de julio del 2009: A las 7.00 de la noche, recibo una llamada de mi amiga desde el hospital Fajardo, quien me pide ayuda, ya que se encontraba golpeada y sin ningún apoyo. Me expresó textualmente: “Ayúdame, porque Santiesteban me cayó a golpes”. Acudí al Cuerpo de Guardia de dicho Hospital, y la encontré agazapada tras una silla, golpeada en el rostro, sobre todo en ambos oídos. Constaté marcas rojas en sus muñecas y en sus tobillos. El médico de guardia, nos orienta que se requiere de un oficial de la policía para llevar a cabo el examen médico. Nos dirigimos ambas a la Estación de Policía de Zapata y C, de donde regresamos al Hospital Fajardo, acompañadas por un miembro de la PNR.

Ya con el certificado de lesiones, volvemos a la misma Estación de Policía, donde al cabo de varias horas, los oficiales escuchan por primera vez la versión de los hechos por boca de la agredida. Ella refirió haber sido amarrada, amordazada, golpeada y violada por Santiesteban, a lo cual le señalan que por la agresión sexual, al violador podrían imponerle una sanción que oscilaba entre 20 y 25 años de privación de libertad. Ante esta información, mi amiga expresó “no quiero que mi hijo pase tanto tiempo sin ver a su padre”, por lo cual decide no denunciar la agresión sexual. Señalo que no fue conducida (como debe ser) a Medicina Legal, por lo que no se practicó examen ginecológico. La acusación del resto de los daños se realiza en horas de la madrugada del 29 de julio.

 Resulta muy significativo que mientras nosotras esperábamos para hacer la denuncia en la Estación de Zapata y C, se apareció de pronto Iris Cano, amiga de Santiesteban. Me dijo a mí personalmente que él la había llamado expresándole “Se me fue la mano con Kenia, ve a ver cómo está ella”. Iris nos acompañó cuando salimos de la Estación, y juntas las tres, con un oficial de la Policía, nos dirigimos al apartamento alquilado por mi amiga. Me pregunto ¿si Santiesteban fuera inocente para qué enviaría a su amiga esa noche?

 Un mes más tarde, el 30 de agosto del 2009, encontrándose mi amiga en la residencia de su madre en las afueras de La Habana, a las 6.00 am se aparecen en mi casa el dueño del apartamento que mi amiga alquilaba, y su vecino Alexis Quintana, quienes me comunican textualmente: “le prendieron candela al apartamento”. ¿QUIÉN? Pregunté yo, a lo cual me responde Alexis Quintana: “el padre del hijo de Kenia”. ¿Y CÓMO LO SABES? Pregunté yo. Su respuesta fue: “porque en la tarde de ayer Santiesteban me pidió que fuera al apartamento a ver si ella estaba, y me dijo LE VOY A DAR CANDELA A LAS COSAS DE ESA PUTA”. Asimismo, Alexis Quintana me contó que había ido por su propia voluntad a la Estación de Policía de 21 y C, para advertir lo que podía suceder ante la amenaza de Angel Santiesteban. El oficial Noriega de dicha Estación, fue el responsable de recibir la advertencia, aunque más tarde reconoció en mi presencia, que no le había dado la importancia a la declaración del citado Alexis, que luego se supo que merecía.

 La ex esposa y el hijo de Santiesteban encuentran refugio en mi casa durante 6 meses, al quedarse ambos sin vivienda, y con la necesidad de mantener al niño en la escuela. El apartamento que alquilaban, y que resultó dañado por las llamas, mostraba intenso olor a gasolina. Señalo con énfasis este dato porque casi un año después de dicho incendio, en julio del año 2010, el mismo testigo ya mencionado : Alexis Quintana, acudió a mi casa y nos comunicó a mí y mi familia lo siguiente:

 Que Angel Santiesteban se había presentado en su casa el día 23 de julio, con el objetivo de sobornarlo y amenazarlo para que alterara su declaración original. Nos contó que fue obligado a leer un documento mientras era filmado, donde se decía que: Kenia mantenía relaciones amorosas con un policía; que ella le había ofrecido a cambio de su testimonio una salida ilegal del país; así como que el mal estado de las instalaciones eléctricas del edificio, era la causa del incendio ocurrido un año antes.

 Enfatizo que este hecho de manipulación brutal, y de material fílmico obtenido bajo coacción (que circula en estos momentos en varias páginas de Internet), fue denunciado oportunamente en la Unidad de Policía de Zapata y C.

Para mayor objetividad, ofrezco el No de la denuncia: 05050; la fecha: 25 de julio del 2010, y el nombre del oficial que la recepcionó: Subteniente de Carpeta Lázaro Yenier Paz Turro.

Como es evidente, existen sobrados elementos que demuestran la culpabilidad de Santiesteban, cuyo enjuiciamiento fue dolorosamente retardado, y ahora irresponsablemente cuestionado. Lejos de abogar por su liberación, cabe preguntarse por qué se dilató su detención, por qué no se recolectaron más evidencias, por qué se mantuvo durante tres años sin apoyo suficiente por parte de las instituciones pertinentes (que se supone protejan los derechos de la mujer), a esta víctima y a su hijo, que aún permanecen sin techo propio y estable.

Leticia Pérez.

CENESEX se pronuncia ante la violencia contra la mujer

In ACLU, CENESEX on March 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

“Rompe el silencio. Cuando seas testigo de la violencia contra las mujeres o las niñas, no te quedes de brazos cruzados. Actúa.” Ban Ki-moon, Secretario General de Naciones Unidas

El Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX), en su labor de promoción de la No violencia contra la mujer, y coincidiendo con el Día Naranja, declara su posición ante la campaña mediática desatada en torno a un hecho perpetrado por el hoy sancionado Ángel Santiesteban.

Como parte de la declaración la institución reconoce que en el contexto cubano se han implementado políticas encaminadas al logro de la igualdad entre mujeres y hombres, sin embargo subraya y denuncia la persistencia de formas de violencia con impacto en la salud, la vida familiar y social.

Este es un tema que debe visibilizarse y atenderse, razón por la que cada día 25 activistas de todo el mundo promueven acciones de sensibilización sobre el fenómeno, que constituye un atentado a los derechos humanos.

Con esta declaración el CENESEX insta a tomar medidas que permitan a las mujeres disfrutar de una vida libre de violencia y evitar la impunidad que gozan los ofensores.

Declaración contra la violencia hacia la mujer

Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual

A partir de la Declaración realizada el pasado 8 de marzo de 2013 por un grupo de mujeres artistas, comunicadoras e intelectuales con la finalidad de oponerse a las acciones que pretenden justificar un evidente hecho de violencia perpetrado por el hoy sancionado Ángel Santiesteban, y la manipulación con fines políticos del delito que se le imputa, el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX):

Observa con preocupación la persistencia de diferentes manifestaciones de violencia ejercidas contra las mujeres en el mundo y, en especial, en nuestra región.

Convencido de que es un tema que concierne a los derechos humanos y que su presencia impide el efectivo disfrute de estos, constituyendo un obstáculo para el logro de la igualdad, el desarrollo y la paz.

Reconoce los avances de las cubanas durante el proceso revolucionario, y las políticas sociales dirigidas al logro de la igualdad de oportunidades entre mujeres y hombres en el país, pero llama la atención de la sociedad sobre la existencia de  formas de violencia que laceran y violan el ejercicio de sus derechos durante el curso de la vida.

Denuncia, de esta manera, toda forma de violencia contra las mujeres sin importar el ámbito donde esta ocurra, por las consecuencias graves que estos actos tienen para su salud y el impacto en la vida familiar y social.

Considera la importancia de fortalecer la formación de actores sociales en capacidad de brindar una atención especializada a la violencia en los distintos escenarios, así como la toma de conciencia de la sociedad en su conjunto sobre la inadmisibilidad de estas manifestaciones.

Condena a los hombres que cometen este tipo de hechos y, especialmente, a quienes intentan blanquear su responsabilidad, amparándose en una supuesta “disidencia” política para evadir la justicia, utilizando campañas que tergiversan la realidad y contribuyen a la revictimización de las mujeres violentadas.

Celebra la respuesta del Estado cubano al sancionar este hecho concreto de alta peligrosidad social.

Por tal motivo, el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual insta:

A todas las instituciones y organizaciones cubanas a aunar esfuerzos dentro del marco de sus respectivas competencias para intensificar acciones en contra de la violencia ejercida sobre las mujeres, pues, aunque Cuba muestra avances significativos en esta materia, se trata de un fenómeno complejo que aún persiste.

A tomar las medidas que se requieran para garantizar el derecho de las mujeres a disfruta de una vida libre de violencia y evitar la impunidad que gozan los ofensores.

A unir fuerzas y recursos  en una Campaña Nacional  que muestre a la violencia contra las mujeres como un problema de salud, social y de derechos humanos; y que integre a la sociedad en la superación de las brechas de equidad de género, a tenor del cumplimiento del Plan de Acción Nacional de Seguimiento a la Conferencia de Beijing y los Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución.

Por lo antes expuestos convoca a cubanos y cubanas, amantes de la paz y el respeto, del humanismo que ha sostenido por décadas nuestro proyecto social revolucionario, a repudiar de modo pacífico toda manifestación de violencia contra las mujeres y las niñas, así como las conductas que pretendan justificarlas.

Cuba contra la violencia

In ACLU, Arts, CAFE, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuban 5 on March 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

 

Durante la última sesión de los talleres de la VI Bienal de Dramaturgia femenina “La escritura de las diferencias”, en la UNEAC,
sus organizadoras concedieron un espacio para hacer público el llamamiento “8 de marzo: tod@s contra la violencia”, leído por Helen
Hernández Hormilla, Laidi Fernández de Juan y Zaida Capote Cruz, junto a Lirians Gordillo Piña a nombre de las demás compañeras firmantes.

Varias de las personas participantes sumaron sus firmas al documento impreso y desde su envío por correo electrónico hemos recibido nuevas
adhesiones que sumamos más abajo. Agradecemos estos apoyos y rogamos la mayor socialización posible del texto.

8 de marzo: tod@s contra la violencia

El escritor Ángel Santiesteban ha sido juzgado y condenado a prisión por agredir violentamente a su exesposa. Y enseguida han comenzado a
circular notas de apoyo al escritor y de cuestionamiento a la sentencia del tribunal que lo juzgó. En casi todas se acusa a la víctima de loca, o de magnificar una leve “riña doméstica”[1]. Nadie puede juzgar estos hechos sin conocer la profundidad de los daños causados por Santiesteban a su exesposa y a su hijo, y nadie debería acusar a la víctima de estar inventando un caso para que alguien sea condenado por ocultas razones políticas. La violencia contra la mujer tiene su origen, precisamente, en ese gesto tan usual de imaginarla carente de juicio, de  independencia,  o de opinión propia, y quienes esgrimen esas tesis están reproduciendo la agresión; como aquellos que culpan a la víctima de una violación de haber provocado a su agresor.

Las instituciones y organizaciones cubanas deben pronunciarse sobre este caso en particular y también acerca de la violencia contra la mujer en nuestra sociedad. Es preciso intensificar, multiplicar y hacer permanentemente visible una campaña pública contra la violencia de todo tipo, especialmente la que se ejerce contra la mujer. Hay que divulgar aquellas leyes que la previenen o penalizan y los debates que han tenido lugar en espacios académicos y con motivo de campañas específicas. Combatir la violencia contra la mujer solo puede lograrse si nos unimos tod@s contra la desigualdad que la inspira y reconocemos el derecho de las mujeres violentadas a defenderse de su agresor y a denunciar la agresión, aunque se trate de un genio artístico o científico, un general victorioso, un deportista de élite o un obrero de vanguardia. Nadie más que ella misma tiene derecho a decidir sobre su vida y sobre su cuerpo, y nadie, absolutamente nadie, tiene derecho a juzgarla loca por querer defender sus derechos.

Sandra Álvarez, Marilyn Bobes, Luisa Campuzano, Zaida Capote Cruz,
Danae Diéguez, Laidi Fernández de Juan, Lirians Gordillo Piña y Helen
Hernández Hormilla

(Leído en la sede de la UNEAC, hoy, 8 de marzo de 2013)

Firman además:

11 de marzo:
Marta Castillo Domínguez
Neyda Izquierdo
Tomás Piard
María Dolores Molinet Córdova
Juana García Abás
José Luis Fariñas
Eduardo Sosa Laurencio
Lourdes Fernández Rius
Saray Remón Monteagut
Kaloian Santos Cabrera
Horacio Verzi, escritor e investigador uruguayo
Dra. Rosa Salup Díaz,Pediatra
David Ravelo Rodiles
Gisela Arandia
Iroel Sánchez
Luis Carlos Marrero:
Daylins Rufins:
Camilo García López-Trigo
Nadia Sánchez Nodar, asesora de TV
Marianela Santos
Camilo García López-Trigo
Caridad Tamayo Fernández
Olga Marta
Ailyn Martín Pastrana
Luis Rondon Paz
Teresa Herrera, Uruguay
Lily Suárez Rodés
Marta Rojas
Mabel Bertot
Ernesto Gonzalez
Ada Caridad Alfonso Rodríguez
Delcele Mascarenhas Queiroz, Professora Titular da Universidade do
Estado da Bahia – UNEB, Salvador – Bahia – Brasil
Rubén Larrondo Muguercia, Médico
Ambrosio Fornet
Elizabeth Diaz
Ines Rodriguez
Dayneris Machado Vento
Fernanda Martinez, Argentina
Carmen del Pilar Serrano Coello, escritora miembro de la UNEAC
Gerardo Fulleda León
Elsa Lever M./ MujeresNet.info (México)
10 de marzo:
Alesandra Riccio
Gustavo Arcos
Silvia Gil
Lupe Alvarez
Doctor José Carlos Hdez Aragoné
Mabel Machado
Nancy Fernández Rodríguez
Roberto Valera
Rebeca Chávez
Zulema Hidalgo
Dalia Acosta
Alicia Valdés
Miriam Rodríguez Betancourt
Marilyn Solaya
Dixie Edith Trinquete
Liset García
Óscar Loyola
Marta Valdés
Nisleidys Flores Carmona
Yarman Jiménez, cubana resido en Costa Rica
Dainerys Mesa Padrón
Jorge Valiente
Sahily Tabares
Marlen Domínguez
Teresa Díaz Canals
Victor Fowler
Carmen Berenguer
Angel Eduardo Rosillo Grau:
Magda González Grau
Aurelio Alonso
9 de marzo:
Sara Más
Leticia Pérez González
Fabián García Luna
Teresa Fernández de Juan
Cira Romero
Alicia González:
Nuria Gregori Torada
Eduardo Montes de Oca
Marcia Collazo Escritora y abogada uruguaya.
Nelia Casado Castro
Josefina Hernández-Téllez
Pilar Sa
Roberto Fernández Retamar
Adelaida de Juan Seiler
Vicente Battista (Narrador argentino)
Marcia Collazo (Narradora uruguaya)
Paloma Wigodzky (Argentina)
José Naves Nasser
José M Valladares Ponce
Lic. Rosa Cristina Báez Valdés “La polilla cubana”
lohania Aruca Alonso
Leticia Becerril Salas
Dr. Jesús Dueñas Becerra
Mariela López Galano
Zaida Cruz Domínguez
Daisy Rubiera
Yasmín S. Portales Machado
Aurora Camacho
Zoraida Amable
María Isabel Díaz
Livia Quintana Llanio
Orieta Cordeiro
Rosalía Arnaes
Amaury Pérez Vidal
Cipe Fridman (Argentina)
Marta María Ramírez
Pedo Pérez-Ortiz (nyc)
Eva Rodríguez
Angel Alonso
Mabel Olalde Azpiri
Marialina Grau
Elena Palacios, directora, guionista y asesora de tv
Pepe Menéndez
Neyda Izquierdo
8 de marzo:

Esther Suárez Durán
Rodolfo Alpízar Castillo
Yoimel González Hernández
Maité Hernández-Lorenzo
Vivian Martínez Tabares
Fátima Patterson Patterson
Consuelo Duany Patterson
María Teresa García Tintoré
Yamilé Coureaux Bogalló
Daisy Sánchez Lezcano
Maribel López Carcasés
Miriam Núñez Benítez
Evelín Gómez Hernández
Eneyda Villalón Puig
María Rita Mancaniello
Alba Babastro Noris
Susana Nicolalde
Gilda Bona
Jorgelina Cerritos
Ana Gianserra
Sahily Moreda Gallardo
Raquel González Pérez
Hemar Montero Velasco
Aurea Martínez Fresno
Ela Guillamón
Rachel Domínguez
Rosa C. Báez
Waldo Franco
Sandra del Valle
Dannys Montes de Oca
Dra Norma Vasallo, Presidenta de la Cátedra de la Mujer de la
Universidad de La Habana
Olga García Yero
Consuelo Elba
Ernesto Pérez Zambrano
Jorge Fornet
Luis Toledo Sande
Vivian Martínez Tabares, crítica, investigadora y editora teatral
Mirta Arbetman-México
Rosa María Ameneiro (ROCHY)
Leslie Salgado

Para adhesiones y/o comentarios, puede escribir a:
cubacontralaviolencia@gmail.com
Se enviarán diariamente actualizaciones con los nombres de las personas que se han sumado a este reclamo. Si desea dejar de recibir estas notificaciones comuníquelo a este mismo correo.

Nueva Declaración

Agradecemos el apoyo recibido al llamamiento tod@s contra la violencia y, aunque reconocemos  el derecho de cada persona a defender aquellas
causas que considere justas, declaramos que:

Rechazamos la manipulación política de este caso, con su consecuente naturalización de la violencia contra la mujer, así como la repetida agresión a la víctima, al exponerla repetidamente sin consideración alguna.

Nuestro llamamiento fue leído en la sede de la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba durante la VI Bienal de Dramaturgia Femenina “La escritura de las diferencias” porque estábamos participando en ella, pero no es una declaración de la bienal, ni de ninguna institución cubana, sino una acción ciudadana coherente con nuestro reclamo de una cultura de paz y sin violencia para nuestro país.

El caso de marras demuestra la urgencia de impulsar la aprobación de una ley sobre la violencia de género en Cuba; la necesidad de capacitar a quienes deben recibir y procesar las denuncias y de crear centros de atención y apoyo a las víctimas.

Seguiremos trabajando por ampliar los espacios de discusión del tema y por contribuir a la eliminación de la violencia contra la mujer y por
motivos de género en nuestra sociedad, sin responder a agresiones ni cuestionamientos espurios.

La Habana, 10 de marzo, 2013.

Sandra Álvarez, Marilyn Bobes, Luisa Campuzano, Zaida Capote Cruz,
Danae Diéguez, Laidi Fernández de Juan, Lirians Gordillo Piña y Helen
Hernández Hormilla

________________________________________
[1] Veáse a continuación la carta “Lamentaciones y esperanzas por un nuevo escritor encarcelado” enviada por el escritor Rafael Alcides
sobre el caso citado. El texto es una muestra de que la lucha contra la violencia hacia las mujeres en Cuba precisa aún un trabajo arduo,
eficaz y sostenido.

Lamentaciones y esperanzas por un nuevo escritor encarcelado

De Rafael Alcides
A Ángel Santiesteban

Querido Ángel:

Me cuentan que a partir de pasado mañana, jueves 28, pasarás a engrosar la larga lista personalidades que en diversas épocas y circunstancias de nuestra historia nacional han sido condenadas a años de cárcel, y lo lamento. En tu caso no ha sido por razones políticas, según he oído. Ni tampoco ha sido por desfalcar la caja de un banco, por matar, por tráfico de drogas, por robo de secretos de Estado, por usura, por chantaje, por
prostitución, por venta de visas falsas o no, nada de eso. En tu caso ha sido por una simple riña con tu ex mujer y madre de tu hijo. O sea, nada nuevo en el mundo. Una de tantas disputas entre parejas que dejaron de serlo, magnificadas por las mismas pasiones que a ellos los dejaran al garete, y lo lamento Ángel. Lo lamento por ti y por tu ex mujer y por tu hijo.

Lamento, asimismo, que esta curiosa fórmula de la que tan gloriosas reconciliaciones salieron a menudo, no haya sido tenida en cuenta por los instructores que se encargaron de tu caso, ni por los magistrados que te sancionaron en la Audiencia a cinco años de prisión, ni por el Tribunal Supremo. Todo esto lo lamento, Ángel, pero me quedan las esperanzas. Tengo la esperanza de que los escritores del mundo entero hagan suya
tu causa cuando se conozcan los hechos, despojados de la magnificación que le dio la parte acusadora, a lo mejor manipulada por personas que
no te quieren, pues en este mundo donde sobra la bondad, no falta la envidia. Párate en una esquina e interroga a la gente en ese sentido.

Haz ese ejercicio.

Tengo la esperanza de que junto a los escritores se pronuncien los gobiernos, ¿por qué no?, la ONU, el Papa, Dios mismo que tan discreto pero efectivo a la vez suele ser en estas cosas. Tengo la esperanza de que a todo aquel a quien en este planeta le sobre un dólar lance un tuit dirigido al presidente Raúl Castro informándole de esta arbitrariedad o tal vez exceso de pasión del poder judicial, o deje su protesta consignada en una página web que acaso se le ocurra abrir y administrar a alguno de tus lectores del extranjero… Pero tal vez nada de esto sea necesario. Pues también tengo la esperanza de que la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, nuestra querida UNEAC, Ángel, nuestra UNEAC, por espíritu de justicia y por cautela, consciente de la tremenda polvareda a que en el mundo pueda dar lugar el desacierto (incompetencia, y aun fraude le han
llamado algunos, yo no) de los magistrados que manejaron tu causa, se movilice en el acto, acuda al Buró Político, exponga allí las partes
sensibles de este delicado asunto que nunca debió exceder el ámbito de la cuadra. Sí, Ángel, confiemos en la justicia de los hombres y en la
de Dios sobre todo. Dicha por la ley la última palabra, ahora le toca a la justicia hacer su entrada en escena. Yo confío en ella.
No serías el primero en obtener sus favores. Caso que no te indulten, lo que en Cuba no es costumbre, podría el gobierno darle un carácter
simbólico a tu sanción, o digamos, reducida al mínimo, mandarte a cumplirla en tu casa, de modo que puedas seguir escribiendo y recibiendo a tus amigos sin desautorizar del todo a tus desacertados magistrados. Se ha hecho con otros. Que yo recuerde, se habló una vez de alguien que en uno de esos malos momentos que suelen tenerse en la vida, sacó raudo su pistola y le voló la tapa de los sesos a un imprudente; otra vez oí de un automovilista que yendo por una carretera de la antigua provincia de Oriente tomado y a exceso de velocidad mató a alguien, y se le echó polvo a eso; y sé de más de uno que por azares, porque les tocó, atropellaron o mataron a alguien a quien no vieron o que se les metió delante del automóvil, y tampoco pasó nada. Y ya en el drama de carácter folklórico que tan divertido suele ser, pero que drama al fin no deja de sacar lágrimas, no puedo olvidar a cierto amigo, ya difunto, que por una disputa con su mujer, empeñada, con esa inocente coquetería de las mujeres, en ponerse una trusa que él entendió intolerable, en el colmo de una cólera más temible que la de Aquiles, atacó su casa con bazuca y todo, dispuesto a no dejar allí ni el recuerdo de aquella trusa malvada. Y es famoso el caso de un deportista que pusiera una bomba en el motor del automóvil del marido de su ex mujer.

¿Favoritismo? ¿Venalidad? ¿Abuso de poder? No lo creo así, Ángel. Son, sí, de hecho, acciones de antemano condenadas por la ley, Pero la ley
es sorda, es ciega, la ley sólo tiene boca para dictar sentencia y manos para agarrarte y llevarte al paredón en ocasiones. La justicia, en cambio, puede mirar, y mira si es justicia de veras, lo que la ley no podría ver. La ley juzga a la criatura por su peor momento, el que la llevó a comparecer ante ella; la justicia en cambio la juzga por su mejor momento.
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes fue a menudo autoritario y aun tiránico, y en ocasiones solapadito. Pensar en su golpe de estado a Aguilera, pensar en los esclavos a los que les dio la libertad en la noche de su alzamiento en el ingenio La Demajagua. No le dio la libertad a nadie. Los esclavos no eran suyos puesto que tampoco lo era el ingenio. Era de su hermano Eduardo quien por cierto lo tenía perdido en deudas de juego, y además –además!–, aquellos esclavos de su gesto para la galería eran unos ancianos ya. Empero, ni por estas astucias ni por aquella alevosía inicial podría calcularse el alma de Carlos Manuel de Céspedes sino por por su postura cuando el enemigo español le toma prisionero a su hijo Oscar, porque es allí, en ese momento, cuando el pequeño hombre ambicioso de gloria se levanta de pronto en su estatura de Padre de la Patria de los cubanos para todos los tiempos.

Los favorecidos que te mencionaba a manera de breves “botones de muestra” (como solía decirse cuando yo era niño) merecían justicia, Ángel Santiesteban, la merecían: esto es comprensión, reconocimiento –no perdón, no caridad, no: reconocimiento–, por su vida de servicios a la nación a cuya gloria habían contribuido. Estuvieron en la Sierra o fueron asaltantes de Palacio o trajeron títulos mundiales para Cuba.
Tú, desde luego –lo sabemos–, no eres deportista, ni tampoco estuviste en la Sierra. La escuela de comandantes de la Sierra cerró muchos años
antes de que nacieras. Pero eres un héroe de la cultura, eres un autor laureado, un hombre que ha dedicado ya más de la mitad de tu vida a
escribir, y a ganar premios que honran al país, a la patria, esa entidad mayor y para siempre, porque los gobiernos pasan, Ángel, pasan, pero la patria permanece.

Tengo por eso la esperanza de que no te den menos de lo que a otros héroes se les dio. El hecho de que se dé la casualidad de que también seas disidente, hombre de la oposición política, no creo que cuente. La oposición es el partido más numeroso del mundo, en todos los países el sesenta o setenta por cierto de la población pertenece a la oposición sin que eso se considere un demérito. En definitiva, todos los que después fueron poder estuvieron antes en la oposición. Mira al pobrecito Mandela. En todo caso, mi querido amigo Ángel Santiesteban, estamos hablando de
justicia, no de política. De justicia. Y mi memoria del porvenir, y mi experiencia de ochenta años de vivir en este mundo –los que cumpliré
ahora en junio si Dios me lo permite–, me dicen, me están diciendo que se te hará justicia, Ángel, que saldrás bajo un régimen de prisión
domiciliaria a purgar esa riña familiar, con una pena acorde a lo que dentro de unos años, después de todo, será folklore en el barrio,chiste incluso de tu ex esposa: “El susto que le hice pasar”, la oigo diciendo mientras ella allá en esos días de entonces juega dominó o le sirve té a las visitas y yo en esta madrugada del 27 de febrero del 2013, termino de escribir estas lamentaciones y esperanzas, que también serán folklore.

Rafael Alcides

Tras los sueños

In Architecture, Arts, CAFE, CENESEX, Cuba, Miami/Cuba on September 12, 2012 at 11:46 am
Publicado originalmente en La Jiribilla

Carta de Carlos Acosta

La historia comenzó de esta manera: viendo acercarse lo inevitable, ese día en que tendré que abandonar para siempre los escenarios que hicieron posible mi carrera, me he preguntado innumerables veces que me deparará el futuro.

Es la interrogante que me viene persiguiendo desde hace algún tiempo como una amenaza constante y permanente. Concluí que lo que más sentido tenía era dejarle un legado a mi país, a mi gente, en fin, por ser cubano, que sé yo. Se me ocurrió que tal vez podría crear mi propia obra como hicieron Alicia y Fernando Alonso, al crear la compañía cubana de ballet y la escuela de donde salimos todos los estudiantes de este género. Después de comentar el tema con amigos, autoridades del país, etc., y de haber dado dos o tres recorridos por La Habana en busca de una posible sede compatible con mis ideas, llegué a la antigua escuela de ballet diseñada por el arquitecto Vittorio Garatti. Me enamoré de ese lugar, como le sucede a todo el mundo que se encuentra frente a tal impactante inmueble. “Mucho dinero para salvarla. Es una locura” me dijeron dos o tres amigos para protegerme de los posibles dolores de cabeza que significaría embarcarse en tal colosal cometido.
Se me ocurrió que tal vez ese dolor de cabeza podía ser mi legado, rescatar ese gran patrimonio nacional con la ayuda de una recaudación de fondos, encauzando a mis amigos y entusiastas de las artes a unirse a esta visión, y crear un gran centro de arte, que fuese el motor impulsor de una idea todavía superior a la mía, la de crear la ciudad de las artes, un gran parque artístico único referente de su tipo en el mundo, adonde millones de personas de todas partes del planeta querrán venir en Cuba para sumar dicha experiencia a su gran lista de vivencias. Imagínense que cosa más linda: Natalie Portman dando un taller sobre Shakespeare en la facultad de arte dramático, mientras la Sinfónica Nacional nos deleita con un concierto de Bach al fresco, y al mismo tiempo, en el museo de arte contemporáneo (una idea nueva que bien podría proyectarse en las vecindades), se exponen las últimas obras de Ai Wei Wei y de Damian Hirst, mientras la Ópera de París nos baila El Lago de los cisnes en el teatro de la antigua escuela, devenida en centro de arte, y después nos iremos, para concluir la noche, al concierto de Steve Wonder en una gran carpa situada en los alrededores; y en medio de esto están nuestros niños y jóvenes aprendiendo y nutriéndose de todo el entorno.
Ustedes me dirán “coño Carlos, no hay que exagerar” y yo les responderé que eso de “no hay que exagerar” fue lo mismo que me dijeron cuando manifesté mi deseo de traer al Royal Ballet a La Habana y lo logré. El Royal Ballet se gastó alrededor de 2 millones de libras en dicha empresa de regalo para Cuba. Así que ¡vuela alto mulato! como me dijo un buen amigo.
Pregunto: ¿No es una idea verdaderamente hermosa? Pues más hermoso aún es el hecho de que a Cuba no le costará un centavo y todo este gran parque artístico podría aportar el dinero que necesita el MINCULT para rescatar otras entidades artísticas en crisis y que pueda restaurar los teatros de la Isla, para que cuando el Royal Ballet vuelva a Cuba no se vea limitado a bailar solamente en La Habana, sino que pueda llevar sus actuaciones a Oriente y demás latitudes del país. De esta forma La Habana crecería, creando actividades recreacionales y artísticas diversas, que no compitan con aquellas que se ofrecen en el centro histórico y así el turista se ve obligado a repetir su visita a nuestro país, porque se le han quedado cosas pendientes por ver y así se incrementa la economía de todos: la estatal y la individual, y al mismo tiempo los cubanos podrían disfrutar de todo esto, sin necesidad de someterse a pagar las grandes tarifas, al ser el sector turístico quien podrá proporcionar dicha comodidad.
Algunos puntos a aclarar:
Norman Foster: la participación de Norman Foster se limita a crear una maqueta de la edificación existente, para que el donante, en los numerosos eventos que llevaremos a cabo, tenga una idea de lo que se trata, y también producir un estudio de los posibles costos implicados en el proceso de restauración. Para lograr esto, Norman envió al arquitecto Juan Vieira y al ingeniero Roger Ridsdill Smith.
El arquitecto Universo García y el ingeniero Sánchez Lagarza les aportaron la información de los estudios previamente realizados, incluyendo aquellos que detallaban las distintas amenazas de inundaciones del río Quibú.
La prensa internacional automáticamente asume que un arquitecto de la talla de Norman Foster sería incapaz de aceptar un proyecto que no le ofreciera sumo control de hacer y deshacer, y es ahí la razón de las malas interpretaciones, pues a nadie le cabe en la cabeza que alguien como Norman Foster tenga la nobleza de limitarse solo a querer ayudar a rescatar una edificación que él mismo considera vanguardista dentro de la arquitectura del siglo veinte.
Esta es la realidad, y Norman Foster ha acogido este proyecto donando sus servicios completamente gratuitos. Desde el principio se lo expliqué a Garatti en Londres, agregando que su obra en todo su conjunto era insuperable e inmejorable, y al parecer no me entendió. Le hablé de que sí habría que adaptar los espacios al nuevo funcionamiento, sin comprometer por supuesto la arquitectura.
Por ejemplo: las aulas de docencia no servirán pues el centro no enseñará matemática, ni español, y sí podrían ser utilizadas como alojamiento para estudiantes extranjeros que tomen parte en cursos de verano y talleres danzarios. Tenemos que tener humildad y reconocer que la participación de Norman Foster es quizá lo más grande que le pueda haber pasado a la obra de Garatti. Si hay algún momento que esa obra podría terminarse es ahora gracias al interés de Foster de legitimar este proyecto, al aportar sus servicios y su nombre.
Carta de Garatti: en la carta de Vittorio Garatti a Fidel y a Raúl, dijo algo de que yo pretendía utilizar la edificación de manera privada, o algo por el estilo. La verdad es que no sé a lo que se refiere pues es patrimonio cubano. Imagínense alguien que sea dueño del Capitolio.
Sobre su idea original: en su momento fue un proyecto relevante. En la actualidad volver a convertir la edificación en escuela de ballet representaría para el país un gasto innecesario. La actual escuela de ballet ubicada en Prado está muy bien donde está, pues se encuentra a pocos metros del teatro García Lorca, que imagino que en su momento  albergará a la Compañía Nacional de Ballet y a la Ópera lírica, convirtiéndolo en “la casa de la ópera y el ballet”, como la tienen todas las naciones que se respeten en cuestiones de arte; el equivalente cubano a El Teatro Bolshoi, La Opera de París, El Royal Opera House, etc.
Esto nuestra nación lo merece por poseer un genuino culto al teatro.
Sobre el teatro: Vittorio había diseñado el teatro de la escuela con la intención de que fuese un laboratorio coreográfico. ¿Alguien sabe lo que es eso? Yo, que sé un poco sobre el tema, le respondí que eso no existe, pues las coreografías se crean en los estudios de ballet. Mientras tanto se tiene un posible gran teatro subutilizado, que podría generar fondos para que el centro fuera auto sostenible. En la actualidad hay que soñar con la calculadora en las manos pues los sueños son caros y no creo que el país esté en condiciones de pagar por ellos. ¿O no?
Acuerdo: Vittorio Garatti firmó un documento, o sea, estuvo de acuerdo con todos los puntos que se debatieron. Yo le aclaré punto por punto, en un recorrido que hicimos por la escuela, mi visión y el porqué de su funcionamiento. Estuvieron presentes el arquitecto Choy y su colega Christian.
El artículo del Sunday Times: completamente fuera de contexto. Sensacionalizada toda la información. Da la impresión que yo me fui de Cuba hace mucho tiempo y que solamente regreso ahora con capa y espada. El artículo era supuestamente sobre el estreno de una película que filmé en Cuba hace dos años. En fin, eso es lo que hacen los cronistas: crear polémica y así vender más periódicos.
Júzguenme por mis acciones y no por lo que se dice de mí.
Aspiraciones: son mis mayores deseos poder lograr este proyecto en Cuba, pero podría perfectamente hacerlo en otro país, por ejemplo: Inglaterra.
Mi deseo es dejar algo sólido por lo cual ser recordado, un pedazo de mi alma que continúe ayudando a muchos, aún después que la muerte me haya apagado. No les quepa la menor duda de que lo lograré de cualquier manera.
Conclusiones: Radio Martí, los chismes, los envidiosos, las mediocridades, las miserias humanas, los que no hacen nada para marcar la diferencia y sin embargo impiden la evolución, el progreso, los que no pueden ver más allá de lo que le muestran sus ojos, todas estas personas que también son nuestros hermanos, continúan dividiéndonos.
Brindemos por la buena fe. Que gane la mejor idea no importa de dónde venga. No digamos: “y este qué se piensa”, sino “qué bueno que alguien tuvo la iniciativa”. Tenemos que seguir creciendo como nación, pero para eso es necesario mantenernos siempre unidos.
Carlos Acosta
Londres
Julio 5 del 2012

Cuba and Fidel Castro: Beyond his 86th Birthday.

In CAFE, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Fidel Castro Ruz, LGBT, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on August 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm
By Arturo Lopez-Levy 
Originally published in The Havana Note
Regardless of how long he lives, Fidel Castro has had an influential role in shaping the political discourse in Cuba. Fidel skillfully mixed Marxism and nationalism and made a revolution that changed the history not only of Cuba but also of the whole Western hemisphere. He was the most popular leader in a generation of Cubans, a political giant who reached world dimensions during the Cold War. As professor Jorge Dominguez from Harvard University said, If there  had been competitive elections in the early 1960’s, Castro could have won them all. He didn’t have the chance. In the most difficult moments of the Cold War, the United States, as the hegemonic power in the Americas, didn’t have tolerance for a nationalist leader who aspired to an independent neutralist course not to mention a socialist one, no matter how popular Castro was among his people.
On the other hand, Castro was not a misunderstood liberal democrat, but a realist politician with strong nationalist and socialist ideas ready to remain in power and implement his revolutionary program by democratic or undemocratic means.  He learned from the experience of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and fought the Cuban Civil War of the 1960’s with every conceivable alliance and political weapon  available to him. Political opponents of Castro’s program were treated as enemies of the nation, they suffered financial and property losses, harassment and long prison sentences. Fidel created a new Communist party under his nationalist authoritarian leadership and remained in power for almost five decades. In 2006, he retired undefeated. No leader in Cuba could speak; bring enthusiasm to his followers, and plant fear in his enemies as Fidel Castro did. His charisma was no doubt an important source of the communist party’s legitimacy but he also attracted many Cubans due to his writings, ideas and speeches.
In analyzing how Cuba moved forward after the revolution a completely Fidel centered approach was always insufficient because it is impossible to trace how much of Fidel’s policies were the result of his own views and how much his campaigns were the result of influences by different interests within Cuba’s power structure. But when Fidel was committed to a policy, he was the minimal winning coalition. Politics at the strategic government level consisted of guessing what could help Fidel’s grand strategy. This limited the feedback on policy and the information flows of the system.
Fidel’s style hardly ever consisted of leading from behind. That is why the “Fidel in command” model truly ended when he fell ill in 2006.   Fidel is no longer the decisive force in the political survival of the PCC rule. In part by design and in part by default, the institutionalization of the party rule and the economic reforms proposed in the “Lineamientos Economicos y Sociales” (Social and Economic Guidelines) of the PCC imply a partial withdrawal of the communist state from social spaces and the economy. Fidel’s charisma and leadership style were cardinal obstacles for these two long overdue processes. The supreme leader of the revolution deployed a striking anti market bias all throughout his career.
Fidel was not only the main creator of institutions in post-revolutionary Cuba but also the charismatic leader who reduced their importance at his pleasure, sometimes unconsciously. In his statements, Fidel Castro  was a constant advocate for “democratic centralism” and “collective leadership”, not for cult of personality, but in practice, his charisma and political dominance prevented the institutionalization of a legal-rational bureaucratic rule. The government was wherever he was; its priorities were his priorities. The recently approved term limits were unthinkable under his aegis.
Now, there is a new situation. Raúl Castro’s commitment to economic reforms and institutionalization is opening venues for the discussion of new ideas within the power structure and the general political discourse. Propositions in favor of a gradual expansion of the role of the market in the economy, the diversification of the property structure, and the expansion of the role of law and rules in how government and the party work are openly discussed. This is not part of a transition to a multiparty democracy but embodies the relaxation of information controls; it improves the feedback mechanisms and the expression of pluralistic interests within the Cuban elites and society. Public discourse is breaking away from the homogenous path of previous times, not only in the publications of the Catholic Church or reform oriented magazines such as Temas, but also in the core publications of the system. Newspapers and radios on the provinces, and even Granma, the Communist party newspaper, are talking about the need for separating the party from the government, and economic changes.
One ideological factor that is emerging in post-Fidel Cuba is an increased emphasis in a nationalist narrative. During Fidel Castro’s leadership, particularly before 1989, the PCC promoted Marxist ideas, and a feeling of belonging to the international communist bloc. Internationalism, not nationalism, was the central ideological principle of Cuba’s foreign policy. Raúl Castro’s recent speech in Guantanamo on July 26 demonstrated how this feature is changing. The emphasis on the revolution as a solution to a history of national humiliation is becoming predominant and issues such as national unity, economic growth and public order are emerging more forcefully in the official discourse. The struggle against the U.S. embargo is becoming again the strongest unifying ideological factor in the elite and between the PCC and the population.
When Fidel’s health forced him to step down , the community of Cubans in Miami Florida reserved the Orange Bowl for the anticipated celebration of his death.  In other parts of the world, such as the Southern Cone of Africa where Cuban troops were key allies in the struggle against Apartheid, there was sorrow. What would happen in Cuba when Fidel Castro dies? A funeral.   Fidel Castro’s death will speed up the processes of economic reform and institutionalization but it is important not to exaggerate his current impact in Cuba’s policymaking. He is a retired head of State.
Fidel Castro is not Cuba. Rather than focusing on an 86 years old revolutionary patriarch, the international community, particularly the United States, should look at the general trends operating in Cuba’s politics and economy. A central question is whether Raul Castro’s economic reform can alter the political dynamics and the distribution of power not only in Cuba but on the Cuban American community and U.S. debate about the embargo.  Everything else being equal, a market oriented Cuban economy, with a vibrant non-state sector, would create a virtuous cycle of pressures to end the U.S. sanctions that would also strengthen the appetite for more economic opening in Cuba. It is also worth noting that the antipathy generated by Fidel among some segments of the American public and the Cuban American community is not transferable to any other leader, not even his brother Raúl.
That is the gift Fidel Castro has given all of us to contemplate on this, his 86th birthday.

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.

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.

A legal sling for David

In Blockade, CAFE, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Politics, US on June 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Benjamin Willis, a musician living in Queens, founding member of C.A.F.E (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and proud first time father, wrote a very good eloquent piece published in Counterpunch.

Members of C.A.F.E and other US based organizations such as the LAWG have stood up to a recent proposal of change to legislation put forth by Junior Congressman David Rivera. Congressman Rivera wants to amend H.R. 2831 which pretty much translates for those readers unfamiliar with laws within the Senate to re-adjust the Cuban Adjustment Act, where by any Cuban arriving on US soil is automatically eligible for permanent residency (USCIS). Rivera wants to change this. He wants to modify it in the most misrepresented way. Under Rivera’s proposal, any Cuban living in the US under the Cuban Adjustment Act who has yet to become a citizen would be automatically considered illegal upon returning to the US if he or she visits his or her family in Cuba after having emigrated from the island.

I agree with Mr. Rivera, the “misrepresenter”. Here’s my rationale: if Rivera has his way, the only option for Cuban Americans living in the US under current residency status and hence without the right to vote, will be to become citizens in order to travel legally to Cuba and then return legally back to their new home the United States. If we can force them through this ingeniously diabolical legal proposal, then they will have to become citizens in order to visit their families and then and only then will the ball start to roll in the right direction. Cuban Americans living in the US, the growing majority of which no longer have serious political issues with the Cuban Revolution, – NOT to be confused with the so called “Miami Mafia” – will be able to vote and vote people like Rivera right out of Congress and back to where ever it is that will best suit their needs.

Let’s face it, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changing,” and these Cuban American legislators aren’t legislating for “the Cuban people”, they legislate for their salaries and other amenities along the way.

So I say, go for it Rivera! Once again, your namesake David will defeat the huge Goliath; the growing number of coherent Cuban Americans of a new intelligent generation will defeat you on your own turf.

Please read the very eloquent piece by Benjamin Willis here.

Behind the wall

In Arts, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Culture, Design, LGBT, Politics, Travel, US on May 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Every two years the city of Havana gets a new makeup job. Not paint, and not cement. It’s a makeup job in the sense that it is unfortunately ephemeral but no less beautiful to contemplate and enjoy while it lasts. The Biennale of Havana is the makeup job I refer to and this year it has hit the town hard and is painting it bright red.

Artistic Practices and Social Imaginaries is the theme of this 11th Havana Biennial 2012 and most of the work present is made up of interactive groundbreaking concept art reminiscent of Alexander Calder back when he revolutionized the notion of art and movement as one.

Over one hundred artists from 45

 countries are sharing in this festival of graphic imagery, many in collaborative works, all taking over the streets, the pavement, buildings, scaffolding and breathing in from the energy of the city itself to create in some cases a city of their own.

“Behind the Wall” gives title to one of the more expressive and interactive of the exhibits which stretches along the Malecon Habanero, (Havana ocean front walk). Cuban artists of the younger more provocative generation living both inside and outside the island have chosen this part of town to show their work. Pieces that have in common the desire for peace, belonging, movement and acceptance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Biennale will go on for a month from its inaugural date of May 11th. During this time, over 1,500 legal US visitors will be walking the streets of Havana partaking in the event, learning, and writing about the days they spend here. This year the Biennale is proving that art can create a bridge to bring people together on the common ground of beauty and self expression.

Arles del Rio “Fly Away”

Meanwhile, back home in the US, members of Congress are having a field day over a couple of visas granted to two Cubans. A couple of visas, TWO mind you, not 100, not even 200, just TWO. One was to the historian of the City of Havana and a world renown preservationist, Dr Eusebio Leal Spengler who also happens to be an honorary member of the French Foreign Legion and an invited speaker at the Brookings Institute. The other is Mariela Castro Espín, who is a sexologist, the director of the Center for Sex Education in Cuba and yes, well, her last names give her away, she is also one of the children of Raul Castro.

Neither Mariela nor Eusebio are travelling to the US to do proselytism on behalf of the “communist” regime. They are both visiting the US in regards to their fields of expertise, and because they were invited,  one to speak at  LASA “Latin American Studies Association” and the other at Brookings.

While members of Congress are insulting the current administration’s policy of reasonable and logical engagement with Cuba, and taking the Department of State to task over its decision to grant visas to a couple of Cuban citizens who happen to be academics other North American’s  are taking advantage of the Obama Administrations efforts to close the gap between both nations  by allowing travel and the parting in an artistic and scholarly  event that will help them better understand Cuba.

 

Rachel Valdés Camejo “…Happily Ever After…”

More Cuba in the loop.

In Arts, Blockade, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Education, LGBT, Miami/Cuba, US on May 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

 

 

  1. Tell  Congress to address April’s terrorist attack in Miami
  2. Let the State Department know that you denounce the visa denials of Cuban academics

 


Tell Congress to address April’s terrorist attack in Miami

1) On April 27th there was a terrorist attack on a travel agency in Miami that is active in organizing travel to Cuba, and that arranged the travel for the group of 300 pilgrims who traveled to Cuba with Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The Coral Gables Fire Department says: ” A fire at a company that charters flights to Cuba was sparked after a chunk of pavement was used to break open an office window and an incendiary device was then tossed into the building.”

The FBI report has not yet been issued, yet the presence of the FBI South Florida counter-terrorism task force says enough, and unofficial agencies present at the scene have said that this attack was “deliberate.”

Folks, this was a terrorist attack, plain and simple. You’d think that members of Congress from Florida would condemn it, wouldn’t you? Nope, not one word. In fact, not one member of Congress from ANY state has issued a statement denouncing the bombing. We want to see a serious investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. Congress should be interested in this, too.

Send an email to your member of Congress here asking for a public response to a terrorist attack within our country’s borders. If you are from Florida, it is especially important that you take this action.


Let the State Department know that you denounce the visa denials of Cuban academics

2) You may have heard about the State Department’s denial of visas to 11 respected Cuban scholars who were planning on attending the Latin American Studies Association meeting in San Francisco this week—while at the same time approving visas for two prominent Cubans invited to the same conference. The approvals of visas to Mariela Castro (a sexologist and President Raul Castro’s daughter), Dr. Eusebio Leal (the historian of the City of Havana), and two weeks earlier to Josefina Vidal (head of the North American Section of MINREX, Cuba’s foreign ministry). BTW, we applaud these visas, as there should be free and easy exchange between Cuban officials and U.S. officials, too. (Aren’t they “people,” too?) You can read comments from The Havana Note here.

The Cubans who were denied visas are a “Who’s Who” of Cuban academe who favor increased exchange between the United States and Cuba, and even the normalization of relations. They are effective in their messaging. Perhaps that is why they were denied? Click here to tell the State Department that you support educational exchanges with Cuba. We want to see a free flow of ideas on both sides of the Florida straits!

During an election year—when Florida is a crucial focus for both political parties—moves toward fully ending the travel ban have been stalled. But playing defense is an honorable role for us to play. As we wait for the right climate to push for more openings and significant progress toward normalization of relations between the two neighbor nations, we can’t let forces that oppose engagement win the day and succeed in eroding the advances we’ve made—or frighten away people and institutions that support travel to Cuba.

Thanks for your continued advocacy on behalf of the End the Travel Ban campaign! And we’ll be back in touch soon with an announcement about a delegation to Cuba in January 2013 which LAWG will be accompanying and co-leading!

All the best,

The LAWG Cuba Team.

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