Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

Un niño llamado Fidel

In Cuba, histo on February 2, 2018 at 4:30 pm

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Margarita Alarcón Perea

Fidel Angel Castro Díaz-Balart era exactamente la sorpresa que uno se esperaría. Muy como su padre, su voz era suave y gentil y su sonrisa genuina y penosa, porque a diferencia de lo que muchos quieren pensar, los Castro distan mucho de ser bombásticas presencias sobrehumanas, son, en el sentido más puro, un toque de distinción y clase.

Hoy me he pasado la mejor parte del día recordando la primera vez que lo conocí. Fue hace muchos años cuando nuestro amigo común, Hermenegildo Altozano García-Figueras, nos presentara durante un almuerzo. Ya él y Fidelito, llevaban meses de una amistad que ha durado hasta… bueno, hasta siempre.

Recuerdo en una ocasión hace unos años que me lo tropecé y me comentó, “!por tu padre ni te pregunto, almorzamos casi todos los días juntos!”

Rompía con los estereotipos a diario. Con fluidez en inglés, ruso y español, capaz de hablar de ciencia, el medio ambiente, filosofía, citar a los clásicos, disfrutar de las artes, también se valía en la política y el ingenio. Recuerdo en una ocasión, como demostró esto, en presencia de alguien que no sabía bien como hacer referencia al entonces congresista por la Florida, el Rep Lincoln Díaz-Balart, Fidelito, simplemente dijo con un poco de cara de exasperación, “si, lo sé, no importa, dilo, mi primo…”.

Una de las últimas veces que coincidimos fue durante la fiesta por el cumpleaños de la Reina Isabel en la Habana. Yo estaba ahí con el agregado defensa del Reino Unido para la región, y cuando este, el Col Patrick Brown lo identifico a lo lejos me pidió que se lo presentara. Nos acercamos y así hice. Intercambiaron amabilidades y recuerdo que Fidelito hizo un chiste sobre mi inglés y habilidades como traductora. El Col Brown se quedó muy impresionado y quiero pensar que agradeció el golpe de realidad durante el cual había conocido a alguien tan terrenal que rayaba en lo surreal. Pero así era el. Así son las mentes brillantes, simplemente surreales. Bellamente surreales.

Su muerte, tan inoportuna, pero que debe respetarse. No hablamos de un hombre que jugaba al poder, no era un hombre que se beneficiara de mucho más que su propia habilidad de luchar por el mejoramiento humano a través de las ciencias.

Y si, cuando se le acercaban a que hablara sobre su padre, era parco en sus comentarios, pero después de todo, era su propia persona, o como bien dijera el mismo “yo soy yo y mis circunstancias.”

¡Pero como amaba a su padre! Solo había que oírlo hablar de él, o haberle visto la cara aquel diciembre de 2016.

Siempre le estaré agradecida a mi amigo abogado español por eso, me dio la oportunidad de conocer y poder compartir de a ratos con una de las personas más encantadoras que he conocido. Por qué el primogénito de Fidel Castro, está muy lejos de lo que aquellos con frialdad de corazón y alma podrían imaginarse. Era, muy como su padre, tímido, de hablar pausado, muy culto, digno, gentil, inteligente y con un excelente sentido del humor.

Descansa en paz con las grandes mentes que nos han dotado de hermosura y bondad al mundo, querido buen hombre, enorgulleciste a tus padres, a tu familia y a Cuba toda.

 

A boy named Fidel

In Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz, Health, life, Politics on February 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm

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Margarita Alarcón Perea

 

Fidel Angel Castro Díaz-Balart was exactly the surprise one would expect. Much like his father, his voice was soft and gentle and his smile genuine and shy, because unlike most would prefer to think, the Castro´s are far from over powering bombastic larger than life presences, they are, in every sense, a true touch of class.

Today I have spent the better part of my day remembering the day we first met. Many years ago, in Havana, thanks to my dear friend Hermenegildo Altozano Garcia-Figueras, who introduced the two of us over lunch. He and Fidelito had met months before and developed a friendship that has lasted till … well, forever.

I remember on one occasion a few years ago laughing when after bumping into him he commented, “I won’t ask you about your father; we have lunch together almost daily!”

He would break molds and stereotypes. Fluent in English, Russian and Spanish, capable of speaking about science, the environment, philosophy, quote the classics and enjoy the arts, he was also proficient in politics and spunk. On one occasion proving this when in his presence someone didn’t know how to relate to the Cuban American Congressman then Rep Lincoln Diaz Balart,  Fidelito said with a slightly exasperated look on his face, “yes, I know, its OK,  go ahead, say it, my cousin…”

One of the last times we coincided anywhere was during the QBP here in Havana. I was there with the then defense attaché of the United Kingdom to the region and when he, Col Patrick Brown recognized Fidelito from afar, he asked if I would introduce him. We walked over to him and I made the introduction, they exchanged a few pleasantries and Fidelito made a joke regarding my English and translation abilities.  Col Brown was quite pleased and I think also appreciated the reality that he had met someone who was so completely down to earth it was almost surreal. But that was him. Brilliant minds are like that, just surreal. Beautifully surreal.

His death is ever so untimely, but, definitely to be respected. This is not a man who played the power game, this was not a man who benefited from much other than his own ability to strive for the betterment of mankind through science.

Yes, when approached to speak of his father he would be sparse in his comments, but after all, he was his own person, or as he once said “I am myself and my circumstances”.

But how he loved his father so! You really just need to hear him speak of him, or have seen his face in December in 2016.

I will always be grateful to my Spanish lawyer friend for that, he gave me the chance to meet and have the opportunity to share small talk and a joke or two with one of the loveliest people I have ever been able to share moments with. Because Fidel Castro´s first born, “Fidelito” the diminutive in Spanish for a boy named “Fidel”, was far from anything anyone with a cold heart could possibly imagine. He was, much like his father and namesake, shy, soft spoken, very cultured, dignified, gentle, intelligent to no end and had quite a sense of humor.

Rest in peace with the great minds that have graced this earth, dear sweet gentle man, you made Cuba, your parents and your family proud.

Otra vez esperando a Trump

In Politics, Politics on July 13, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Donald Trump

Por Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Es grande la expectativa por conocer lo que dirán exactamente las nuevas regulaciones que serán aplicadas para dar cumplimiento a la Directiva que firmó Donald Trump el pasado 16 de junio para intensificar el bloqueo contra Cuba en un burdo espectáculo realizado en Miami. Han sido tres semanas de comentarios y especulaciones en los que no pocas veces se soslayan aspectos fundamentales y es frecuente tropezar con fórmulas apegadas a las “pautas informativas” que quiere Washington. Como cuando se insiste en hablar de la prohibición a las transacciones con empresas vinculadas a las Fuerzas Armadas y al Ministerio del Interior pero nada se dice de la extensión de semejante prohibición, que también está en la Directiva, al conjunto de la sociedad cubana. Ahora se afirma que la OFAC (Oficina para el control de bienes extranjeros del Departamento del Tesoro, instrumento clave de esa política) dará a conocer las mentadas regulaciones el 15 de septiembre y para aumentar el interés se acompaña el dato con un reloj digital que va descontando los días, horas, minutos y segundos que nos acercan a esa fecha.

Han sido tres semanas también de diversas manifestaciones de rechazo por nuestro pueblo y también de la amplia solidaridad internacional que incluye a muchos estadounidenses, entre ellos sectores empresariales, académicos y políticos.

Enfrascados en disquisiciones acerca de la imaginaria “normalización” de las relaciones supuestamente intentada por Obama, el chabacano manotazo de Trump incorporó nuevos elementos de confusión al debate.

Conviene una pausa de reflexión antes que se produzca otra noticia desde la capital norteamericana que enrede aun más el análisis. Porque esa noticia tiene un plazo fijo: tiene que producirse, a más tardar, el 16 de julio, es decir, antes de que termine esta semana.

Ese día, el 16 de julio, vence el término para la suspensión de la posibilidad de recurrir ante los tribunales norteamericanos, conforme a la Ley Helms-Burton, que desde 1996 reconoce ese derecho a quienes fueron expropiados por la Revolución incluyendo a los que entonces no habían adquirido aun la ciudadanía estadounidense y que, según el Departamento de Estado, serían más de 200 mil demandantes.

Si tal cosa ocurriese, provocaría numerosos pleitos con los inversionistas extranjeros pero además crearía un inaudito caos judicial ante las reclamaciones que pudieran presentarse y a cuya preparación, por cierto, se han dedicado, desde aquel año, algunos abogados de Miami involucrados en la redacción de dicha Ley.

Ante la protesta de la Unión Europea fue introducida la cláusula que permite al Presidente de Estados Unidos dejar en suspenso la posibilidad de reclamar ante los tribunales por un período de seis meses. Durante más de veinte años, Clinton, W. Bush y Obama, aplicaron la suspensión. Ahora le toca a Trump.

Actuar como sus predecesores parecería ser lo que aconseja la lógica y el sentido común pero esas son cualidades que no siempre guían al actual inquilino de la Casa Blanca y ello alienta a algunos que buscan hacer regresar a Cuba al pasado y convertir a los tribunales yanquis en instrumentos para el odio y la venganza.

Otra vez estamos a la espera de Trump.

En cualquier caso, si no lo hace ahora, le quedarían por delante varios plazos semestrales para sembrar el caos antes de concluir su mandato. Así será mientras la infame Ley no sea derogada completa y definitivamente.

 

Publicado originalmente en Por Esto!

La OEA y otras infamias

In Politics on July 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

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Por Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Una vez más fracasó la OEA. Pese a las presiones de Washington y las febriles maniobras de Luis Almagro no pudieron condenar a la Venezuela bolivariana y chavista en su reunión en Cancún, México. Para ello había sido convocada en el balneario mexicano.

Para eso y nada más. Se le ordenó ejecutar un fratricidio y al mismo tiempo ignorar los problemas reales que laceran a los pueblos supuestamente representados en el exclusivo hotel.

Del encuentro no salió una palabra sobre los niños de Ayotzinapa, ni sobre los periodistas asesinados, o los desaparecidos, o los inmigrantes acorralados, o las poblaciones originarias explotadas y perseguidas desde el Río Bravo hasta la Araucania, ni los obreros y estudiantes reprimidos por todas partes. Nada acerca del golpe de estado en Brasil. Ni siquiera una queja por el infame muro de Trump. Se les exigió sólo apuñalar por la espalda a un estado que a nadie ha causado daño y algunos lo hicieron sin pestañear.

El Imperio consiguió el apoyo de un grupo impresentable en el que figuraban golpistas y pseudodemócratas, corruptos y represores que tienen en común el rechazo de sus pueblos. Todos los que se conjuraron para condenar a Venezuela deben afrontar al interior de sus fronteras la oposición creciente de los trabajadores, los jóvenes y muchas más víctimas del modelo neoliberal que es intrínsecamente injusto, antidemocrático y servil al dominio extranjero.

Ninguno de ellos ha sido capaz de censurar la abierta intervención imperialista ni de solidarizarse con un pueblo hermano. El Gobierno bolivariano, en contraste evidente, no sólo ha sacado de la miseria a millones de sus ciudadanos sino que además ha dado muestras de ejemplar solidaridad para con los demás pueblos de la región.

Lo ocurrido hace recordar los años Sesenta del pasado siglo cuando Estados Unidos empujó a una mayoría a convertirse en cómplices de la agresión militar y el bloqueo contra Cuba. Ahora la historia parecía repetirse, aunque con algunas diferencias que vale la pena destacar.

Salta a la vista ante todo la actitud del país anfitrión. Cuando se actuó contra Cuba la diplomacia mexicana mantuvo su rechazo solitario y digno. Ahora fue protagonista en la maniobra contra la Patria de Bolívar. Otros, hace medio siglo, tuvieron al menos la prudencia de abstenerse. Entre estos últimos estuvo Chile gobernado por Jorge Alessandri y la derecha conservadora y que hoy bajo una coalición que se dice democrática se sumó sin reparos al alevoso ataque.

La diferencia más notable, entre los dos resultados, sin embargo, estriba en que, pese a todo, los yanquis no pudieron alcanzar la mayoría requerida. No pudieron porque lo impidió un conjunto de países que no eran miembros de la OEA, pues aun estaban sometidos al colonialismo, cuando Cuba fue condenada en Punta del Este.

Los países caribeños, estados jóvenes y de territorios y recursos limitados, siguieron políticas verdaderamente autónomas desde el momento en que asumieron su soberanía. Cuando la obtuvieron establecieron vínculos de respeto y amistad con la Isla asediada y se negaron a plegarse a la política anticubana.

Ahora se unieron a otros que en el Continente siguen resistiendo la ofensiva imperial para evitar un nuevo crimen contra Venezuela.

En los años Sesenta Washington además del garrote ofrecía una zanahoria. Hablaban entonces de una pretendida nueva relación, que bautizaron como “Alianza para el Progreso” y que pronto se disolvió en la nada y desembocó en el agujero negro de las peores tiranías.

Es francamente patético el espectáculo denigrante de unos gobernantes, algunos sobrevivientes -herederos- de aquellas dictaduras, obedientes a la voz de mando de quien desde la Casa Blanca los humilla y desprecia y ya no les ofrece siquiera la olvidada zanahoria.

Pero resulta esperanzador ver a los más pequeños rebelarse y actuar con dignidad.

 

Especial para Por Esto!

Trump: Thunder and Traps

In Cuba/US, Politics, Politics, US on July 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm

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By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Much has been said and will be said about the grotesque show that took place in Miami on June 16 and the lies and threats against Cuba there pronounced. Trump’s speech, incoherent and clumsy like all of his, made at least two things clear: he will do all he can to harden US policy toward Cuba, canceling the timid steps that his predecessor had taken and [the fact that] the current President is an irremediable liar.

It is customary there in the North to mix politics with spectacle, information with entertainment, even if, as in this case, in terrible taste. For those who look at it from the outside, a good dose of Cartesian doubt is advisable and prudence is necessary to avoid being confused. Especially if it’s about what someone says like the quirky occupant of the White House.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a tireless fighter for justice and civil rights, was right to reject Trump’s speech. She stressed the importance of fighting to prevent specific regulations which would translate the presidential directive into mandatory rules that are even more damaging to peoples of the two countries. There, on that very day, there was evident proof of the correctness of her concern.

In his speech, Trump announced that he would issue a new executive order to replace the one already repealed that had guided Obama’s policy in its last two years. There in front of everyone, he added his signature to the document that appears on the official site of the White House, but which nobody read.

What he said does not correspond exactly with what he signed and the latter is what counts, because it has legal force and will guide the conduct of his administration. The contrast is evident, for example, in the case of remittances many Cubans on the island receive from their relatives residing in the United States. According to the speaker in Miami, such remittances would continue and would not be affected.

But right there, in the same act, without hiding, he signed an order that says exactly the opposite. On this issue of remittances, the document entitled “Presidential Memorandum for the Strengthening of The United States Policy towards Cuba,” which Trump signed and which was publicized by the White House. The fine print states that there would be millions of Cubans living on the island who would not be allowed to receive remittances.

In Section III, subsection (D), the definition of “prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba” is now extended to cover not only the leaders of the Cuban State and Government, but its officers and employees, the military and civilian workers of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, the cadres of the CTC, of the trade unions, and the Defense Committees of the Revolution. Professor William M. Leogrande estimates that this would be more than one million families.

Trump boasted that he would drop all Obama’s moves and he probably intends to do so.
But he knows that this contradicts the interests and opinions of some business sectors linked to the Republican Party and that is why he hides behind aggressive rhetoric and often undecipherable jargon. With regard to the issue of Cubans and remittances he had no choice but to use his favorite weapon: the lie.

We must now see how they write and apply this new order that seeks to punish the Cuban population as a whole.

Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
http://walterlippmann.com/trump-thunders-and-traps/

Tom Hayden PRESENT

In History, Politics on October 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

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By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Where to begin? What can one say faced with the difficult news of his death?

We worked together, at a distance, on the new edition of “Listen
Yankee! Why Cuba matters” outcome, in part, of long conversations
between two old friends, and to an extent in part, a sort of for
handed memorie.

Because our friendship remained intact since the 1960´s when we each
headed glorious organizations, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
and the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU).

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Our ideals and our struggle united us and above all the headstrong
conviction that a better world was possible and that it was something
worth dedicating one’s life to achieve.

There is so much that must be said about Tom Hayden. The long road
that so often sent him to jail from the days when he marched in the
South to defend the civil rights of black people to finding himself at
the helm of the movement against the Viet Nam war with its seminal
moment at the insurgence of the youth movement in Chicago in 1968. A
road that led him to occupy elective posts never abandoning the dreams
of his youth.

Because for him the 60´s were never a thing of the past and one can
never reference those everlasting years without mentioning him

He had a large body of published works, books, essays, and speeches
from the Port Huron Statement, functional manifesto for SDS to his
texts on Afro-American rebellion in New Jersey, to his most recent
works, where his solidarity with Cuba was ever present, and where his
struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five saw no bounds.

His life and his ideas will continue being an inspiration to the new
generations. He was, is and always will be, what the founder of the
FEU in Cuba always wanted, an eternal young rebel.

Until victory onward Tom, comrade in arms, comrade.

Stanley Scheinbaum: A Quixote of the 20th Century

In Politics on October 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm

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By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

On Monday, September 12, at 96 years of age, Stanley K. Sheinbaum died in his California home. I want to add these lines to the tribute that he will surely receive from many everywhere. Despite his advanced age and ill health his friends will never find comfort for his departure. Because Stanley belongs to the category of those Bertolt Brecht called the essential who struggle all their lives.

From his New York childhood during the Great Depression until the era of the global dominance of US plutocracy he walked a long path that led him not only to travel across his country but also to know the rest of the world. He learned to be interested, as were few of his countrymen, in the conflicts and problems of others and to get involved and take sides, “trying to create a little peace and justice in this unjust world” as he wrote in his memoirs published five years ago (A 20th Century Knight’s Quest for Peace, Civil Liberties and Economic Justice).

He discovered in 1959 that the program he led at Michigan State University was a covert CIA activity, and became the first person who publicly denounced the illegal actions of the CIA inside the United States.

In the 1960s he articulated the campaign for the release of Andreas Papandreou, imprisoned by the military junta in Greece. He led the movement for raising the necessary funds for the defense of Daniel Elsberg, arrested in 1971 for revealing the so-called Pentagon Papers on the aggression to Viet Nam. This was an iconic fight with the outstanding participation of Leonard Boudin and his disciple the young Leonard Weinglass, both brilliant human rights and civil liberties activists. If it were not for Stanley, according to Ellsberg, “the trial would have been over, Nixon would have remained until the end of his term and the war would have continued.”

He promoted the work of the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California to end racial segregation in schools and to combat the repressive methods of the LAPD as he led efforts against the apartheid regime of South Africa.

1988 he organized a group of American Jewish leaders who, on 6 December, met with Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, Sweden to start a process towards mutual understanding and peace in Palestine. The gesture won him many enemies. “For a while I was the most hated Jew in America … by other Jews” he wrote in his Autobiography.

He took a courageous stand in confronting police brutality and the Rodney King beating. He did so from his position on the Los Angeles Police Commission of the LAPD and on the streets of the city. “He was” –in the words of Afro-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters– “an extraordinary human being.”

He also addressed Cuba. He visited us here and we kept communication at a distance to the end. He opposed the blockade, fought for the normalization of relations, and was decisive in the battle for the liberation of our Five antiterrorists whose situation he helped publicize in the United States. What was announced on December 17, 2014, was also the result of his solidarity commitment that had rarely reached the major media headlines.

At the end of his life he could say: “I’m still interested; I still get involved; I still believe that tomorrow will be better. And so, I’m still very optimistic. If I have learned something over the years it is that it is not so important whether or not we win the battles. What is really important is that we continue waging the battles for justice, for equality, for fairness. “

 

Stanley keeps riding on.  

 

 

 

 A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
http://walterlippmann.com/stanley-scheinbaum-a-quixote-of-the-20th-century/

 

Un Quijote del Siglo XX

In Politics, Social Justice on September 16, 2016 at 11:35 am

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Por Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

El lunes 12 de septiembre a los 96 años de edad falleció en su hogar de California Stanley K. Sheinbaum. Quiero sumar estas líneas al tributo que seguramente habrá de recibir de muchos en todas partes. Pese a su edad avanzada y los quebrantos de salud sus amigos jamás hallarán consuelo a su partida. Porque Stanley pertenece a la categoría de los que Bertolt Brecht llamó los imprescindibles los que luchan toda la vida.

Desde su infancia neoyorquina bajo la Gran Depresión hasta la era de la dominación global de la plutocracia norteamericana recorrió un largo camino que lo llevó no sólo a atravesar su país sino también a conocer el resto del mundo. Aprendió a interesarse, como pocos compatriotas suyos, por los conflictos y problemas de los demás y a involucrarse y tomar partido, “tratando de crear un poco de paz y justicia en este injusto mundo” como escribió en sus Memorias publicadas hace cinco años (“A 20th Century Knight’s quest for peace, civil liberties and economic justice”)

Descubrió en 1959 que el programa que dirigía en la Universidad Estatal de Michigan era una actividad encubierta de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia y se convirtió en la primera persona que denunció públicamente las acciones ilegales de la CIA dentro de Estados Unidos.

En los años Sesenta articuló la campaña para la liberación de Andreas Papandreu encarcelado por la junta militar en Grecia. Encabezó el movimiento para la recaudación de los fondos necesarios y la defensa de Daniel Elsberg arrestado en 1971 por revelar los llamados Papeles del Pentágono sobre la agresión a Viet Nam, emblemática pelea con la destacada participación de Leonard Boudin y su discípulo el joven Leonard Weinglass, ambos brillantes defensores de los derechos humanos y las libertades civiles. Si no hubiera sido por Stanley, según el propio Elsberg “el juicio hubiera terminado, Nixon permanecería hasta el final de su mandato y la guerra habría continuado”.

Impulsó las labores de la Unión Americana de Derechos Civiles en el sur de California para poner fin a la segregación racial en las escuelas y luchar contra los métodos represivos de la policía de Los Ángeles mientras dirigía los esfuerzos contra el régimen del Apartheid de Sudáfrica.

En 1988 organizó un grupo de dirigentes judíos norteamericanos que el 6 de diciembre se reunió en Estocolmo con Yaser Arafat para iniciar un proceso hacia el entendimiento y la paz en Palestina. El gesto le ganó no pocos enemigos. “Por un tiempo fui el judío más odiado en Norteamérica…por otros judíos” anotó en su Autobiografía.

Asumió un papel valeroso en el enfrentamiento a la brutalidad policial y la golpiza de Rodney King. Lo hizo desde su responsabilidad en la Comisión de la policía de Los Ángeles y en las calles de la ciudad. “Era”, en palabras de la Congresista Afroamericana Maxine Waters, “un ser humano extraordinario”.

También se ocupó de Cuba. Nos visitó aquí y mantuvimos comunicación a la distancia hasta el final. Se opuso al bloqueo, luchó por la normalización de las relaciones y fue decisivo en la batalla por la liberación de nuestros Cinco Héroes antiterroristas cuya situación ayudó a divulgar en Estados Unidos. Lo que fue anunciado el 17 de diciembre de 2014 era también fruto de su empeño solidario que no siempre trascendía a los grandes titulares mediáticos.

Al final de su vida pudo afirmar: “Aun me intereso, aun me involucro, aun creo que el mañana será mejor. Y por eso sigo siendo muy optimista. Si algo he aprendido a lo largo de los años es que no es tan importante si ganamos o no las batallas lo que es realmente importante es que continuamos librando las batallas por la justicia, por la igualdad, por la equidad”.

Stanley sigue cabalgando.

Not quite Kansas yet Toto…

In Cuban Americans, Politics, US on September 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm

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Margarita Alarcón Perea

For a little over two years now, everyone who comes to Cuba from where ever, will ask the same question: “So, how are things now with all the changes?!” The intention is both naïve and endearing; most people actually think and believe that after December 17th of 2014, like magic a la Wizard of Oz, Dorothy (the Cuban Revolution) would magically receive the wand fluttering hand of the Good Witch of the North (in this case POTUS) and all things would be grand back in the land of Oz.

In order for things to “change” it’s going to take a heck of a lot more than paying visits, watching baseball games and holding talks. We need common sense, and a whole lot of chutzpah form the White House and/or a vote on The Hill.

Only then, will that much awaited change actually come to fruition. Mind you, I am not just referring to sales of goods from the US or the freedom to travel; I am talking about real change, for the better or worse, but change.

Sorry to say, no, that has not been the case.

In Cuba we have a saying “El pollo del arroz con pollo” which roughly translates as “the gist of it” but in a much more picturesque manner basically speaks to the nucleus of any given event, act or action.

In 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed the below mentioned Trading With the Enemy Act which pretty much set the blockade/embargo in motion. To this day and ever since President William J. Clinton signed Helms Burton into law in 1992 all you basically need to do is what President Barack H. Obama did today, once again extending what JFK began over half a century ago. A pattern if ever there has been one.

So, has anything changed in Kansas? Are we back yet?

No, Toto, it hasnt and no we´re not…

 

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
                                    THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

SUBJECT:         Continuation of the Exercise of Certain
                          Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act

Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. 4305 note), and a previous determination on September 11, 2015 (80 FR 55503, September 16, 2015), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to terminate on September 14, 2016.

I hereby determine that the continuation for 1 year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States.

Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for 1 year, until September 14, 2017, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515.

The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Notes of A Veteran Fidelista

In Politics on August 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm
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Ricardo Alarcón and Fidel Castro Ruz, Popular University Program, circa 1960-

Photo: Liborio Noval.

 

By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

On  March 10, 1952, with a door slam, a chapter of Cuban history came to a close. Fulgencio Batista –who, two decades before, had introduced a harsh dictatorship– seized power once again with a handful of his former collaborators had liquidated the revolutionary government of just one hundred days which had emerged in 1933 after the fall of Gerardo Machado. The new coup took place without major setbacks and thus ended Cuba’s brief experience with “representative democracy”. This had lasted for only two terms of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Autentico), which had governed for little more than seven years.

The “Autentico” Party presented itself as heir to the Revolution of 1933, in which its leaders had had played an outstanding role, but did not go beyond national-reformism, creating some necessary institutions and showing an independent foreign policy on some important issues at the UN and the OAS. Its work was, however, hampered by government corruption which invaded almost all branches of the administration. Besides, its adherence to McCarthyism led to the division among the trade union and popular movement, and the assassination of some of its main leaders.

The prevailing dishonesty caused the split in the “Autentico” Party and the emergence of the Cuban People’s Party (Orthodox) which raised the slogan “Vergüenza contra Dinero [Shame against money]” as its main banner. Among its founders was a recently graduated lawyer named Fidel Castro Ruz.

The general elections scheduled for June 1952, brought face-to-face, according to all polls, two candidates: the “orthodox”, headed by a respected university professor [Roberto Agramonte], and the government official, led by an “autentico” whose honesty was beyond doubt. A third candidate, Batista, supported by reactionary groups, appeared in a distant last place and no one gave him the slightest chance of winning in the polls. Everyone in Cuba knew this, including Batista who, for that reason, prevented the people from deciding.

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Fidel Castro, Victor Rabinowitz, Juana Vera and the author, Havana.

The coup and its immediate aftermath deeply wounded Cuban society. Batista received immediate support from the big property owners as well as from the conservative political forces and corrupt trade union bureaucracy. Political parties –the ones close to the government as well their opponents– were trapped in inaction and inconsistency. Authenticism and orthodoxy were divided into contradictory trends and new parties emerged from them; some willing to collaborate or compromise with the new regime. These and all other parties engaged in endless controversies unable to articulate a path against tyranny.

Resistance found refuge in the universities. Out of these came the first demonstrations and acts of protest. Among the students there was a growing awareness of the need to act and to do so using methods different from those of the politicians who had failed miserably. There was talk of armed struggle, but nobody knew how to wage it or had the resources to undertake it. There were some isolated attempts while rumors spread about plans led or linked to the president overthrown on March 10.

For those of us who were still in secondary education, the assault on the military barracks in Santiago de Cuba (Moncada) and Bayamo (Carlos Manuel de Cespedes), on July 26, 1953, was a complete surprise. We knew nothing of an event that would change our lives forever.

The news highlighted the name of someone previously unknown to us: Fidel Castro.

The political crisis deepened. The tyranny became even more aggressive. The Communist Party (Partido Socialista Popular [Socialist People’s Party]) was banned and its publications closed, while increased repression against the student movement became the norm. Batista’s accusations against the Communists sought the sympathy of Washington, but had nothing to do with reality. The PSP was not only alien to those events, but rather condemned the action of the young revolutionaries as did the other opponents to Batista, almost without exception.

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With Puerto Rican Independentists, Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Oscar Collazo, Havana 1979.

Once again it fell to the students to replace the parties that had proved incapable of fulfilling their role. The Federation of University Students (FEU) sympathized with the attackers of the Moncada garrison and called for a campaign for their release. This soon acquired a national dimension and forced the dictatorship to grant them amnesty in 1955.

That same year, Fidel founded the July 26th Movement. Along with the survivors of the initial action, it counted especially on young people who, in neighborhoods and study centers, identified themselves with that heroic deed against tirades and criticism from Tiryns and Trojans.

Their ranks were filled with youths, no few of them teenagers, who rebelled amid frustration, inertia and division, inspired by a feat that had shaken the tyranny and its opponents as well. Antonio López (Ñico), who had led the attack on the barracks in Bayamo, was responsible for organizing the youth brigades of the M-26-7 until he went to Mexico to return with Fidel and die fighting in the Sierra Maestra. He was replaced in Havana by Gerardo Abreu (Fontán), a black man of very humble origin, who had not completed primary school. He managed, on his own, to acquire a broad cultural background and a poetic sensibility that caused astonishment among us college students who had the privilege of fighting under his leadership. Ñico and Fontán –both from the Orthodox Youth– knew Marxism, shared socialist ideals, and were profoundly anti-imperialist. They were determined to create an organization that would massively bring in the new generation. They succeeded. Their followers were identified with a single word: “fidelistas”.

The presence of the Brigades was felt quickly by sending their message directly to the people. While the press and politicians criticized Fidel and the Moncada action, everywhere, in every corner of the capital –on walls and facades– using very modest resources, Brigade members painted a brief slogan which everyone understood: M-26-7, or a name that others wanted to silence: Fidel.

In view of the hostile environment which made it impossible to wage open political struggle, Fidel went to Mexico in order to organize the return to carry out the battle that would end the tyranny. He proclaimed it openly, undertaking a historic commitment: “In ’56, we will be free or we will be martyrs” thus challenging the followers of inaction and despair once again. And also their jokes: a government newspaper carried on its front page every day the number of days which had elapsed that year without the defiant promise being kept. epa00601693-cuban-president-fidel-castro-r-and-cubas-national-assembly-fh10p0

Well into November, the propaganda against the Moncadistas intensified. Demonstrations, organized by the FEU and the newly created Revolutionary Directorate, climaxed and led to the closure of the university. The last day of the month, to support the landing [of the Granma expedition], the M-26-7 carried out an uprising in Santiago de Cuba. Two days later Fidel and his companions arrived at the eastern shores aboard the yacht Granma, in what Che described as a “shipwreck”.

Scattered and persecuted by the Army, a small group finally managed to reunite in the Sierra Maestra. Many members of the expedition died fighting, or were assassinated.

Among these, as the US news agencies reported, was its main leader. Fidel’s death was reported on the front page of every newspaper. Anguish and uncertainty remained until after a passage of time that seemed endless. Gradually and by clandestine channels, the truth came to be known.

The last two years of the dictatorship were rife with crimes and abuses in the urban areas while the initial guerrilla force grew to become the Rebel Army.

“Fidelismo” reached massiveness. On the night of November 8, 1957, one hundred simultaneous explosions rocked Havana, each in a different neighborhood and distant from one another. They were practically heavy firecrackers –rather homemade devices– that only made noise. No one was injured and no one was arrested by the police who went around frantically from one place to the other. It was sound evidence that the “26th” was everywhere and showed the youth brigades’ efficient organization.

The murder of Fontan, on February 7, 1958, sparked a students’ general strike which lasted until May. It paralyzed all education centers, including private universities and academies, and led to the consecutive resignations of two of Batista’s Education Ministers of Batista.

Never before had such a movement occurred in Cuba to such extent and for so long. For three months, all attempts, violent or “peaceful” to end it failed. The student walkout continued, even several weeks after the movement suffered in its most painful and bloody defeat in Havana.

The failure of the attempted general strike by the workers, on April 9, was a very severe blow. It decimated urban militancy, almost completely destroyed the underground structures, and allowed the dictatorship to mobilize thousands of troops to launch what it thought would be the final battle in the Sierra. Once again everything depended on Fidel and his leadership.

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PHOTO Elian and Juan Miguel Gonzalez, at the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Moncada assault.

Batista’s offensive proved a complete failure. The Rebel Army –well-established in the East– sent two columns led by Che and Camilo Cienfuegos, which crossed half the island and won many battles in its central region. The rebels were close to liberating the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Santa Clara. The last day of December, the dictator arranged his escape and –in close coordination with the US Ambassador– left behind a military junta in Havana that would have been the continuity of his regime. To thwart the maneuver, Fidel called for a general strike.

In the early hours of the first day of the New Year, the people took over the streets in the capital. The youth brigades –almost totally unarmed– occupied all police stations without meeting resistance from the demoralized and nervous troops of the regime. However, in other parts of the city, armed paramilitary groups of Batista henchmen had to be confronted. The strike continued until the total collapse of the tyranny. On January 8, Fidel rode triumphantly into a city that was already and finally “Fidelista”.

The victorious Revolution would have to face more powerful obstacles and even greater risks for over half a century: Political, diplomatic and propaganda aggression, armed attacks, subversion and sabotage, and the economic blockade that is still ongoing and is the longest genocide in history. Another blow was the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the disappearance of allies and trading partners plus the complete isolation of the island. It has been a long and stormy path that the people have weathered under Fidel’s guidance.

Ninety years of age has now come to the man who had to face more than six hundred assassination plots against his life and whose death has been announced countless times by imperialist propaganda. Maybe someday his enemies will have to admit that they were never able to kill him. This is because Fidel and his people are one and the same. And that people, largely thanks to him, is invincible.

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A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.