Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Stanley Scheinbaum: A Quixote of the 20th Century

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



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.


a Letter to Obama

In Cuba/US, Cuban 5 on April 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm


April 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Obama:
I write you today to urge that you look at the case of the three Cubans still held hostage to our outworn and dangerous foreign policy towards Cuba. Called “The Cuban Five” by their supporters, they were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2001 for the crime of trying to protect the lives of their fellow citizens-and, for that matter, the lives of many U.S. citizens too. Two have been released from prison, and of the three who remain, one was sentenced to life imprisonment. I understand far too well the urgency that led the Cuban government to send these very brave men to infiltrate the Cuban exile terrorist organizations.   
“Terrorist” is not too strong a word to describe the groups these men infiltrated in Miami. For decades they have ignored the laws of the United States which gave them new lives and protection. These groups were left alone by U.S. authorities to carry out a war against both Cuba and these with whom they disagree on U.S. territory. Many of them were U.S. citizens. I am one of these victimize by them.  
In March, 1973, a member of one of those exile terrorist organizations placed a large plastique bomb in the Center for Cuban Studies, almost destroying the entire facility in Greenwich Village, New York City. The only part that was NOT destroyed was where I was sitting – my only injuries occurred because the blast caused the large glass window next to me to shatter and fall on me as I was typing.  
For me, then, the “Cuban Five” represent a heroic effort to disrupt activities deemed illegal by our own government. It is past time for the release of the three remaining imprisoned.

Sandra Levinson
Executive Director
Center for Cuban Studies  

SANDRA LEVINSON is the President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies, and was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years. The Center collection consists of more than 3,000 works of art, 2,000 photographs and 5,000 posters and the Art Space shows art exclusively from Cuban artists. It also sponsors talks, film showings, performances, and serves as an arena for visiting artists and writers from Cuba.In 2004 Levinson was awarded the José Maria Heredia Medal in Santiago de Cuba, that city’s most important cultural award, for her dedication to the city’s artists. Earlier, she was given Cuba’s Friendship Medal from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples. 



Breaking down Barriers

In Arts, Blockade, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Politics on April 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

I truly love New York. I was there when the City was christened with the term “The Big Apple” and way before the t-shirt and mug craze of the heart everywhere.

The thing is though, that my love for the City stems from its pulse. It´s magical and I don’t mean the hustle and bustle of endless lines of bright yellows and the tallest MTA buses ever known to mankind. In my case it’s the people. New York City has a magic that comes from the people that inhabit the City. They are, well, just different. Ruder and cruder than those from the Midwest, faster and blunter than the South, more fashion obsessed and obsessive than the West Coast; they are difficult and easy in the same proportion depending on your perspective. Putting it simply, a New Yorker wants it when they want it because they want it.

I guess it is precisely because of this that it had to take a native from Brooklyn  to start a commotion that has blown away all other news on Cuba this past week. When Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z came down to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary it took little time for people on the island to find out, in spite of the fact that not a single Cuban news outlet gave word of the event till it was just unstoppable.

It wasn’t a tough guess that the Cuban American congressional lobby was going to lash out at this with all its might. And it did. Representatives Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ross Lehtinen both voiced concerned over the trip and began demanding that the Treasury Department inform if the couple had travelled legally (under an issued licence) or not. Normally what would have happened, as it has in the past, would have been a statement by the couples press rep in a public press conference or directly to both members of Congress and that would have been that.

Not this time.

For years I have been personally waiting for someone, anyone, of a certain social public clout to come down to Cuba, have a good time, and then go back to the US and make a shtick about it.

Well,  Jay Z did it. He not only came down with Beyoncé on a valid OFAC licence but he went all out and responded to anyone interested by writing a rap on the whole issue.

It took a New Yorker,  a hip hop artist in the true sense of being a New Yorker, to start the ball rolling and get everyone involved.

In the words of Cheryl Contee published today in The Guardian “Jay-Z’s rap struck a chord because America is ready to drop the Cuba embargo. Let’s hope President Obama is listening.”