Maggie Alarcón

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Menos voces en BBC Mundo.

In Politics on March 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm



Me llamó la atención que en la entrada del Sr. Hernando Álvarez de la BBC no hubiera comentario alguno e intenté enviar uno.

Más abajo verán el comentario que intenté publicar en el sitio de BBC Mundo.

No hay forma que lo publiquen. Al parecer, quieren más voces desde Cuba pero en la BBC no quieren oír más que sus propias memeces.


“Me van a tener que disculpar los directivos de la BBC y con el mayor respeto, no entiendo. Cómo el Sr. Álvarez nos cuenta que con Cartas desde Cuba, “Hubo polémica, debates y muchos comentarios a favor y en contra. Es decir, un éxito” para luego decirnos, “Queremos escuchar voces críticas de la revolución que no encuentran espacio en los medios cubanos, pero también a aquellas que apoyan el proceso y de jóvenes que sueñan con mejorar el sistema desde dentro.”

Cartas desde Cuba precisamente se plasma como un éxito gracias a que a través de la buena redacción, una que fue siempre, directa, precisa y oportuna, se logró establecer un dialogo a partir de los comentarios, entre todos; individuos a favor de la Revolución Cubana a ultranza, aquellos que la desprecian visceralmente y los que conforman esa inmensa gama de grises en el medio, todos, participaban. Me parece que lo que BBC Mundo no nos está diciendo es que el problema no es con el contenido de Cartas… el problema es con el creador.

Y si quieren,  considérenme creyente en las teorías de la conspiración, pero me resulta muy interesante que el “fin” de Cartas se produzca justo después de que BBC se negara a publicar la entrada EEUU y la paja en el ojo ajeno | Un escrito donde el autor, arremete contra la doble moral del gobierno de los Estados Unidos respecto al tema de los derechos humanos y hace referencia al caso de los Cinco Agentes cubanos encarcelados en esa misma nación. Es realmente lamentable que la BBC haya caído tan bajo y le brinden tan poco respeto a sus lectores.

Señores míos, no hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver, mantuvieron a Ravsberg mientras tocaba temas “políticamente correctos” para los intereses allende los mares, en cuanto mencionó algo que no gustó, se acabó la fiesta.

Verdaderamente lamentable. y con los documentales tan buenos que hacen, …  di tu!”

The US and the speck in your neighbor’s eye

In Cuban 5, Politics, US on March 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm


By Fernando Ravsberg

Originally published in Spanish in Cartas desde Cuba 


Cuban-American congresswoman,  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), surprised many by recently questioning the US justice system when she said it was “extremely disappointing” that the courts had freed one of the 5 Cuban agents, after serving his sentence.

She doesn’t explain what else they could have done, maybe an alternative would have been to send him off to the US Military Base in Guantanamo Bay, where he would have had no legal rights or lawyers to reclaim him, nor would he have been subject to a judicial process..

But it would have been diplomatically incorrect to have done so on the same week that Washington was publishing their list of nations that violate human rights. Every year it highlights the name of Cuba, without mentioning Guantanamo, although that is where the largest number of political prisoners on the island is concentrated.

Secretary of State Kerry didn’t say anything either in spite of the fact that his President opposes the existence of that prison camp and promised to close it down during his first year in office, a time frame long overdue.

The violation of human rights by some does not justify that others do the same. It is absurd that the nation which possesses the most infamous prison in the world, due to the lack of rights offered those detained there, write up a list of violators world wide and not include itself.

But wait, there is more. Beijing also published a report on human rights where the US does appear,  accused of “having perpetrated 376 drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, killing 929 people, most of whom were civilians, various children among them.”

It is always easier to see the speck in your neighbor’s eye than the log in your own or in the eyes of “friends”. Thus the governments most vehemently denounced in the US report happen to be “enemies” of Washington, while the human rights violators that are “friends” are barely mentioned.

It wasn’t by coincidence that it was in the US where they said that you can protect an “SOB” as long as he’s “our SOB.” The statement is the best example of a double standard used by the international community and a disservice to the struggle for human rights the world over.

Now things are getting more complicated because the Russian Defense Minister announced that his country is negotiating with Cuba the possibility of establishing Russian military bases on the island. In case anyone has any doubts that they are serious, the next day a Russian navy warship anchored in Havana harbor.

The  students of the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) must be trembling. What if the Russians were  to reclaim their teaching facilities? The current site where the school of higher education resides was previously the Soviet base known as Lourdes, used for  spying on US communications.

It will be difficult for Washington to protest a Russian military presence in Cuba when they maintain a base on the island and subject the rest of the world to illegal eavesdropping, including its European and Latin American allies.

Things have gone so far that the EU and Brazil have agreed to lay a submarine telephone cable between the two continents one which the US will not have access to, and thus avoid the temptation of spying on the official communications of other nations.

Some analysts wonder whether the world will return to a new “Cold War” and nobody knows how all this will be framed within the efforts of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, to turn the region into a “Peace Zone.”

Latin America has been free of nuclear weapons for a long time. This year, at the CELAC summit, it decided that all disputes must be resolved peacefully and in the future may well close foreign military bases to avoid getting involved in other nation´s conflicts.

In Cuba´s case, if Washington were to agree to return the Guantanamo Naval Base it would then have the moral authority needed to demand that Havana not allow the installation of military units of other countries on its territory.

This would then be tantamount to a dream come true for two presidents. It would put an end to the military occupation of Guantanamo, a constant  demand made by Raul Castro, and Barack Obama would fulfill his promise of eliminating the prison that has brought the United States so much criticism.


Note: AjiacoMix regrets that this past Thursday marks the first time in seven years that a post from  Cartas desde Cuba does not appear on the BBC site.

Political faux pas or was something lost in translation? …

My grandson in the Protest of the Thirteen (*)

In Education, History on March 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada 

Originally published in Spanish for  Cubarte

We spent most of the afternoon watching the sparrows and talking about neocolonial Cuba. “What was young people’s life like then, what were they like?” He would stop playing to ask me over and over again. “Where were you and what were you doing when you met Fidel?”

That’s my grandson, who’s eager to know about Cuba back when his grandfather was his age. In my answers I tried to explain to him what Cuba had been like under [the tyrant Fulgencio] Batista . I think I noticed a certain disappointment on his face when I told him that [president Gerardo] Machado’s regime had come to an end before I was born. As the last of the hummingbirds were flying away and we were going into the house, we talked a little about [Cuban poet, writer and revolutionary leader Rubén Martínez] Villena’s immortal phrase.

The following day I attended “Un paseo por la Historia” [A walk through history]0) at the UIE Elementary School. It was one of those beautiful celebrations that give the word “participation” a real meaning beyond any rhetoric. Present there were all the children from preschool to sixth grade and their teachers –most of whom, not surprisingly, were female– as well as family members and local neighbors. The school building was used both as “dressing room” for the “artists” and to accommodate the audience around.

The students and teachers took over the street. We saw a parade of natives and slaves, mambí and rebel fighters (and their opponents) enacting historic events ranging from the“discovery” to the Cuban Five’s heroic deed. I saw my grandson with the other twelve“protesters”, voicing [president Machado’s nickname] “donkey with claws” and daring the“pro-Machado henchmen” to come out in the open.

It was a form of  Jerzy Grotowski´s “poor theater” , with few material resources. All that was needed was provided by the children, their families and teachers. It was above all, a labor of love and a testament to the enormous moral force that continues to animate countless anonymous educators willing to keep the legacy of Luz, Varela, Martí and so many others alive. Men and woman who throughout the years have known how to feed patriotism and plant the seeds of values in our smallest. Some there present that day lamented the lack of press coverage and one asked me to write something for Cubarte.

I had been to this place over half a century ago on many occasions, with colleagues from the FEU (Federation of University Students) and members of the UIE, (International Union of Students), all of us guided by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, doing voluntary work in the construction of a building where today you can feel Che´s presence, his revolutionary spirit, his authentic magistrate sustained always by example.

At the end of the ceremony we went inside the school, where I saw a comrade from my younger days. Several of his photographs accompany a text which summarizes the life of José Ramón Rodríguez López, whom we called “Ramoncito”, never mind that his strong body had been forged by physical exercise and sports. He was born and raised in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, right where he was cowardly murdered by the Batista police,  not far from this school which remembers him so well. “Ramoncito” had yet to celebrate his 20th birthday. Had he not been killed on that distant August day, he too would have surely enjoyed –with his own grandchild– last Friday’s unforgettable tour of our history.

And yet, who is to say he wasn’t there? José Ramón, “Che” Guevara and many others came back to life that morning along side all those children whom they joined in song, dance and laughter. Because, as is written on a wall of the  school, children are the ones who know how to love, and love will always vanquish death.



(*) Manifesto drafted by Rubén Martínez Villena and a group of fellow Cuban intellectuals denouncing governmental corruption and triggered by the purchase of the Santa Clara Convent by then-president Alfredo Zayas for more than two million pesos.

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann. With special thanks to Eileen Boruch-Balzan

And Then There Were Three

In Cuba/US, Cuban 5 on March 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm


By Tom Hayden


Fernando Gonzales became the second member of the Cuban Five to be repatriated to his homeland when he arrived at Havana’s Jose Marti airport on Friday. His prison term cut from nineteen to fifteen years, it was a long journey for Gonzales from a desert cell in Arizona to his release in Havana.

This was one deportation to celebrate.

Gonzales is fifty years old, and will join hands with Rene Gonzales, released last year, in advancing the campaign to free the remaining three.

The US government and media define the men as “spies” who belonged to a Cuban “Wasp network”, when the truth is far different and complicated. The five Cubans were not stealing US nuclear secrets, but monitoring live plots by US-supported Miami Cuban exiles to harass and attack the island. (For a recent authoritative account, see Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water, 2013.)

Resolution of the Cuban Five matter is one of the impediments to overcome in normalizing US-Cuba relations after a fifty year hot-and-cold war. Behind the scenes, contacts and talks are developing. The Cubans are holding a US AID contractor, Alan Gross, convicted in 2011 of illegally smuggling advanced communications equipment into Cuba. His sentence runs through 2026.

There is reason to believe the US position is changing gradually. If so, releases of both Gross and the remaining Cuban Three could evolve on separate tracks as part of a mutual overall resolution of the US-Cuban conflict before President Obama leaves office and President Raul Castro retires.


Mi nieto en la protesta de los Trece

In Cuban 5, History on March 4, 2014 at 11:55 am

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

25 de febrero de 2014

Nos pasamos buena parte de la tarde mirando a los gorriones y hablando de la Neocolonia. ¿Cómo vivían entonces los jóvenes, cómo eran? Hacía un alto en su juego para interrogarme una y otra vez ¿Dónde tú estabas, qué hacías, cuándo conociste a Fidel?

Es mi nieto que quiere descubrir cómo era Cuba cuando su abuelo tenía su edad. Traté de explicarle lo que había sido el batistato respondiendo siempre a sus preguntas. Creí notar cierta frustración cuando le dije que el régimen de Machado había terminado cuando yo aun no había nacido. Algo conversamos sobre la imborrable frase de Villena mientras el último zunzún se perdía entre las ramas y entramos a la casa.

Al día siguiente asistí a “Un paseo por la Historia” en la Escuela Primaria UIE. Fue un acto hermoso de esos que dan veracidad al vocablo “participación” más allá de toda retórica. Participaron todos los niños y las niñas, desde los de preescolar hasta el sexto grado y también los maestros y las maestras (ellas, por supuesto, eran mayoría) y no faltaron tampoco los familiares ni los vecinos. El edificio de la Escuela sirvió como “camerino” para los “artistas” y para alojar al público en su exterior.

Los alumnos con sus maestros se hicieron dueños de la calle. Por allí desfilaron aborígenes y esclavos, mambises y rebeldes y también sus antagonistas, desde el “descubrimiento” hasta la heroica hazaña de los Cinco. Vi a mi nieto, junto a los otros doce “protestantes” y luego proclamando “Asno con garras” y desafiando en la calle a la “porra machadista”.

Fue una suerte de “teatro pobre” sin grandes recursos materiales. Todo lo necesario lo aportaron los niños, sus familiares y maestros. Fue sobre todo, una obra de amor y una prueba de la enorme fuerza moral que sigue animando a incontables educadores anónimos capaces de mantener viva la herencia de Luz, Varela y Martí y de tantos otros de nombre desconocido que, a lo largo de los tiempos, han sabido alimentar el patriotismo y sembrar valores en los más pequeños. Algunos de los presentes lamentaron que en el lugar no estuvieran representantes de la prensa y alguien incluso me pidió que hiciera esta nota para Cubarte.

A este lugar concurrí muchas veces hace más de medio siglo, con compañeros de la FEU y miembros de la Unión Internacional de Estudiantes, guiados por Ernesto Guevara, a hacer trabajo voluntario en la construcción de un edificio donde hoy se palpa la presencia del Che, su espíritu revolucionario, su auténtico magisterio fundado siempre en el ejemplo.

Concluido el acto pasamos al interior de la Escuela y me topé con un camarada de juventud. Varias fotos suyas acompañan un texto que resume la existencia de José Ramón Rodríguez López a quien solíamos llamar Ramoncito aunque su cuerpo estaba forjado en la práctica sistemática del ejercicio físico y el deporte. Nació y se crió en el Vedado. Y también en el Vedado, no lejos de esta Escuela que lo recuerda fue asesinado cobardemente por la policía batistiana. Ramoncito no tenía aun veinte años de edad. Si no lo hubiesen matado aquel día de un agosto ya lejano seguramente él habría disfrutado, también con su nieto, el pasado viernes, de un inolvidable paseo por nuestra historia.

Pero ¿quién dice que él no estuvo allí? José Ramón, el Che y muchos otros, volvieron a la vida aquella mañana de la mano de las niñas y los niños y con ellos cantaron, danzaron y rieron. Porque como está escrito en un muro de la Escuela los niños son los que saben querer, y el amor siempre vencerá a la muerte.