Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

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.

December 17th and the Voice of Reason

In Cuba, Cuban Americans, History, Politics on December 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

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Margarita Alarcon Perea

December 17th marks the anniversary of the first year of the release of Alan Gross, the return of three Cuban prisoners unjustly jailed in US prisons and for the first time presidents from both Cuba and the United States live on their respective television networks speaking about the same thing and both on the same page.

Last year Raul Castro and Barack Obama got their acts together and decided to do something that for far too long had been silenced, they gave voice back to reason and spoke of restoring relations between their two countries.

Since that day, which on all accounts was joyous albeit an enormous surprise, much has happened in the form of restoring the diplomatic side of the relations, but not much else. Watching the debate the other night I fear much more needs to be done before November of 2017. Yet I am hopeful.

At least Cuba wasn’t mentioned openly. So maybe the two pseudo Cuban contenders for their party’s nomination have since figured out that siding with irrationality by actually bolstering the notion of how they would turn back all that has happened since last year’s televised speeches or the less Latino hopeful candidates criticizing the current President of the United States for having “given so much in exchange for nothing” or ranting about how if he were to come down to the Caribbean’s largest island before leaving office might be indicative of nothing less than …say, treason? Of course, this is an exaggeration on my part, but heck, he was accused of not being “American” enough for almost two straight years!

In any case, it’s been a year already. The secretary of State has opened the long closed Embassy, the Stars and Stripes waves every day, morning, noon, and night. US tourists are coming down nonstop, Cuban Americans are devising ways of investing on the island in the most intuitive and inventive fashion ever. So I guess, Cuba won’t be part of the debates in the near electoral future.

Maybe the candidates have figured out that the voice of reason silenced for so long is now the shout of logic that just won’t keep quiet, lest they lose those historically beloved 28 electoral votes.

 

Originally posted on the Huffington Post

La última bandera

In Politics Relaciones Cuba EEUU on August 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm

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Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

La ceremonia para levantar en su Embajada en La Habana la bandera de los Estados Unidos fue la noticia del día en todo el mundo el pasado 14 de agosto. Era lógico que así fuese pues era quizás la expresión más visible del giro en la política norteamericana después de la decisión de restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas anunciada simultáneamente por los Presidentes Raúl Castro y Barak Obama el 17 de diciembre de 2014. Fue, como dijo John Kerry, el primer Secretario de Estado que visitaba Cuba en setenta años, un día histórico.

Que correspondiese a Kerry presidir tal acto era en cierto sentido también una manifestación de la justicia histórica. Desde sus años juveniles cuando al regresar de la guerra condecorado se puso a la cabeza de los veteranos que buscaron poner fin a la agresión contra el pueblo vietnamita hasta su larga carrera como Senador por Massachusetts, Kerry siguió una trayectoria coherente con lo que en su país se define como “liberalismo”. Su papel había sido determinante en el establecimiento de relaciones con Viet Nam y fue en el Senado una de las voces más críticas del bloqueo a Cuba y del uso de los fondos federales para “promover la democracia” en la isla.

Cincuenta y cuatro años atrás al cerrar su Embajada Washington creía que los días de la Revolución cubana estaban contados. Cuando tomó esa decisión, en enero de 1961, avanzaban sus planes para la invasión mercenaria que Cuba derrotaría en abril en menos de 72 horas en Playa Girón. Fracasado aquel plan intensificó sus acciones para asfixiar a la isla mientras elaboraba proyectos aun más agresivos que incluirían incluso el empleo de sus propias fuerzas armadas.

Consiguió que todos los gobiernos de América Latina, excepto México, rompieran también sus relaciones diplomáticas y cerraran sus misiones en la capital cubana. El golpe de estado que derrocó al Presidente Joao Goulart en Brasil fue elemento decisivo en el plan anticubano y dio paso a la larga noche de las dictaduras militares con su carga terrible de sangre, luto y dolor. Los pueblos latinoamericanos y sus democracias fueron víctimas directas de la pretensión yanqui contra la isla. Desde los años sesenta del pasado Siglo el derecho de Cuba a su independencia y la defensa de la democracia en el Continente han sido partes inseparables de una misma lucha.

Aunque fuera otra su intención tenían sentido las referencias a la democracia que repitió en su discurso el Secretario de Estado. Para aislar a Cuba Washington impuso hace medio siglo las peores tiranías. Ahora se vió obligado a reconocer a Cuba porque todos los demás ya lo habían hecho. La ruptura en el pasado marcó el inicio de una etapa sombría. El restablecimiento de las relaciones con Cuba ahora es ante todo la admisión de la derrota y la necesidad de buscar nuevos caminos. Al izar su bandera Estados Unidos no está indicando a nadie lo que debe hacer. Es al revés. Se está sumando a todos los demás. La enseña de las barras y las estrellas era la única bandera que faltaba y ahora, finalmente, se suma a la voluntad democrática del Continente.

Mucho ha cambiado esta parte del mundo desde aquellos tiempos en que la hegemonía norteamericana era acatada sin chistar.

Hace años ya que La Habana es una de las pocas capitales del planeta donde están presentes, con sus misiones diplomáticas y sus banderas, todos los demás países independientes del Hemisferio Occidental incluyendo todos y cada uno de los estados insulares caribeños. Más aun, sólo aquí hay una representación del pueblo de Puerto Rico cuya Misión Diplomática aunque opera bajo la responsabilidad de su movimiento patriótico es punto de encuentro frecuente de los visitantes puertorriqueños que son muchos y de todas las tendencias políticas sin excepción.

Queda mucho por andar en la senda de la “normalización” de las relaciones. Tal cosa es inconcebible mientras exista el bloqueo económico, continúe la usurpación de territorio cubano en Guantánamo y Estados Unidos mantenga su política injerencista. Tampoco resulta concebible en un contexto en que Washington pretende subvertir a gobiernos populares y progresistas en América Latina.

Ojalá Washington pueda aprender las lecciones de la Historia. Sus enseñanzas son muy claras para quien quiera verlas. Después de todo pocas veces brilló tanto el sol en La Habana como en la mañana del 14 de agosto.

The “Blanco” Effect

In Politics on August 12, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Margarita Alarcon Perea

In my most recent post of last week, I commented on how diplomacy was a means to achieve goals of mutual respect and understanding vis a vie representations from government to government. This was related specifically to Secretary of State John Kerry’s upcoming visit to Havana and a piece that was in the news then.

Today, Cuba and the US are pretty much all over the news again. You have Richard Blanco who has been asked to write and read a poem on the 14 of August in Havana when the flag raising ceremony will take place; and then you have at least one senator and two members of the House of Representatives that are “upset” about the fact that the White House has let it be known that there will be no Cuban dissidents invited to the ceremony. They are so “upset” that they have gone from holding press conferences to putting out public statements on the topic.

Once again, there are members of the Cuban American community who are out of touch. President Obama spoke on the 17th of December of last year. He made it very clear that his aim was to fix a situation that had been broken for far too long, he then said he’d reestablish diplomatic relations.

These relations should be established taking certain criteria into account. I agree with this, and these criteria could be, say, the Vienna Accords, Geneva Convention, basic historic diplomatic game plays, I don’t know, common sense, maybe?

This Friday’s event in Havana like the one on the 20th of July in Washington D.C, signifies that two governments have decided to accept one another and work towards a better reality. It also means that the peoples of both those nations will finally have a chance to pursue the type of life their predecessor’s didn’t: one of mutual respect and understanding. Latin America is no longer anyone’s “backyard” and hopefully the United States with the recent game changing acts of this administration will be laying down the basis for future US relations in the region no longer being seen as “us against them”, but rather “all of us together”, or at the very least in President Raul Castro’s words today “coexisting in a civilized manner”.

It fascinates me though and gives me a lovely sense of pride that of the two main news items today regarding Cuba and the US and the Embassy, there is one regarding a person of Cuban origin who has the common sense lacking in so many others.

Thank goodness for the sanity of so many on both sides of the straights. Thank you Richard Blanco, engineer, diver, intellectual, poet, Cuban and American. I won’t be there on Friday but I am sure you will do both your nations proud.

Also published in The Blog – Huffington Post

Cuba: So Close You Could Almost Swim There

In Cuba/US, History, Sports on January 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Diana Nyad

The Cuban Revolution happened when I was a nine-year-old living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Literally overnight, thousands of exiles flooded into my town. We were suddenly eating Cuban food, dancing salsa in my new friends’ living rooms. The mystique ran deep. Already a little swimmer, I was standing on the beach at that time and I asked my mother, who had danced salsa many times with my father at the fabled Hotel Nacional in Havana:

“Mom. Where is it? I know it’s out there, but I can’t see it.”

And my mother took my arm and pointed it across the sea.

“There. Out there. It’s right over that horizon. It’s so close, you could almost swim there.”

The story I first knew of Cuba was from the exile side. Good people forced out of their homes, given 24 hours to gather of few possessions and cash out at the bank. Their houses, their clothing, their cars, their boats, many of their friends and family never to be seen again.

Then there was the Fidel side. It reads a noble story. Fidel and his comrades in justice Che and Camilo, ride stealth one night on horseback from the mountains into Havana, to save the people from the dictator regime of Batista, where the rich were vastly rich and the poor were desperately poor, with no middle ground. The famous, defiant face of Che has been plastered to millions of young persons’ bedroom walls through the years. Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos — soldiers of and for the people.

I have learned the hard way not to take either side, not to speak of the politics of Cuba. Socialism, in its bare bones definition, every individual entitled to the same material necessities, can be interpreted as a just way to manage a nation. On an anecdotal level, I can say that in the dozens of times I have visited Cuba, since my first try to swim from country to country back in 1978, I have never once seen a homeless person. I have found a population of educated, polite, intelligent, fit, musical, athletic, compassionate, philosophical, seemingly happy people. So there was a time that I defended Fidel’s original vision, that I joined many who touted his success in taking the majority from third world to second world.

The one thing I could never explain, understand, or defend about the Fidel regime was that Cubans weren’t allowed to leave the island. If you love your country, love the life you live there, why is there such fear that a trip anywhere abroad would convince you never to return home?

Clearly, in recent years after the Soviet Union’s collapse and withdrawal, Cuba has devolved toward a deeper and nearly tragic state of poverty. Goods have always been hard to come by, but it’s been a long time since asthma medicine, cooking oil, and a decent loaf of bread have been on the market shelves.

A couple I have stayed with in Old Havana, both highly educated, with a daughter who has asthma, stand outside the hospital ER in the middle of the night, begging any worker leaving to go back inside and find them an inhaler. Every two weeks they stand in a line to receive one chicken, six eggs, and a few staples. They invite visitors to their “Casa Privada” for dinner, stretching those staples into creative meals so that travelers can tell the tale of eating in a private home, and then they pare back their own family meals to the bare minimum.

Again, just a layman’s anecdotal evidence, but it used to be that to discuss a rapprochement with an average Cuban citizen was to encounter tears standing in his eyes, the loyalty to Fidel was so fierce. The giant painted faces of Fidel and Che and Camilo around the city, slogans such as “Viva El Socialismo!” in vivid red below, spoke volumes to the national esprit of having been freed from colonial oppression.

But we are almost six decades past Batista now. The days of the Bay of Pigs are also long-ago history. There is nothing to fear from each other. No reason to further punish each other.

My swim from Cuba to Florida, aside from the personal challenge to make endurance history across a wild, epic ocean, was always meant to also make a statement of hopeful reconnection between our two beautiful nations. Too many, on both sides, have wanted for too long to know each other, to enjoy the colorful Cuban culture, to help the Cubans restore economic stability.

Our Team was invited to Havana this past Labor Day, on the anniversary of our successful crossing from Havana to Key West, September 2, 2013. It was the first time in thirty years that the American and Cuban flags were flown together in an official government building in Havana. The first time the American National Anthem had been played at an official event in thirty years. We wept with pride. And so did the Cubans. We all wept because this Swim was a universal message of will, to Never Ever Give Up. But we wept in part because our two countries understood the magic of the endeavor and the Cubans helped us through every step. We wept because we all want a better life for these good people, our friends and neighbors.

I can tell you our Team was very emotional a few weeks ago, when both President Obama and Raul Castro announced the new era of rapprochement between us.

A personal note: This series for Huff Post carries with it a tag line: 90 miles.

To be perfectly accurate, it is 103 miles, the closest distance between Cuba and Florida. A long time ago, the nautical measurement of 90 was assigned, a measurement used by only large ships at sea. We measure distances across the sea between countries in statute miles. For instance, it is 28 miles around Manhattan Island. That’s statute miles. Trust me, it’s 103 miles to Cuba. I should know.

One more personal note, to my mother, no longer with us. Mom, it’s so close, Cuba, that somebody has actually swum there.

This post is part of a Huffington Post blog series called “90 Miles: Rethinking the Future of U.S.-Cuba Relations.” The series puts the spotlight on the emerging relations between two long-standing Western Hemisphere foes and will feature pre-eminent thought leaders from the public and private sectors, academia, the NGO community, and prominent observers from both countries. Read all the other posts in the series here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-nyad/cuba-so-close-you-could-a_b_6571342.html?1422545987

If you’d like to contribute your own blog on this topic, send a 500-850-word post to impactblogs@huffingtonpost.com (subject line: “90 Miles”).

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? …

“Intervención” para Evo , Rafael , Kristina , “Pepe” , Dilma, Fidel, Hugo, et al de America Latina y el Caribe ante los Jefes de Estado de la CEE

In Economics, History, Politics on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Con lenguaje simple,  trasmitido en traducción simultánea a más de un centenar de Jefes de Estado y dignatarios de la Comunidad Europea, cualquier  Presidente de la región lograria  inquietar a su audiencia con estas palabras del intelectual venezolano Luis Britto García cuando dijo: 

“Aquí pues yo, ______________, he venido a encontrar a los que celebran el encuentro.

Aquí pues yo, descendiente de los que poblaron la América hace cuarenta mil años, he venido a encontrar a los que la encontraron hace solo quinientos años. Aquí pues, nos encontramos todos. Sabemos lo que somos, y es bastante.

Nunca tendremos otra cosa.

El hermano aduanero europeo me pide papel escrito con visa para poder descubrir a los que me descubrieron.

El hermano usurero europeo me pide pago de una deuda contraída por Judas, a quien nunca autoricé a venderme.

El hermano leguleyo europeo me explica que toda deuda se paga con intereses aunque sea vendiendo seres humanos y países enteros sin pedirles consentimiento.

Yo los voy descubriendo. También yo puedo reclamar pagos y también puedo reclamar intereses. Consta en el Archivo de Indias, papel sobre papel, recibo sobre recibo y firma sobre firma, que solamente entre el año 1503 y 1660 llegaron a San Lucas de Barrameda 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de kilos de plata provenientes de América.

¿Saqueo? ¡No lo creyera yo! Porque sería pensar que los hermanos cristianos faltaron a su Séptimo Mandamiento.

¿Expoliación? ¡Guárdeme Tanatzin de figurarme que los europeos, como Caín, matan y niegan la sangre de su hermano!

¿Genocidio? Eso sería dar crédito a los calumniadores, como Bartolomé de las Casas, que califican al encuentro como de destrucción de las Indias, o a ultrosos como Arturo Uslar Pietri, que afirma que el arranque del capitalismo y la actual civilización europea se deben a la inundación de metales preciosos!

¡No! Esos 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de kilos de plata deben ser considerados como el primero de muchos otros préstamos amigables de América, destinados al desarrollo de Europa. Lo contrario sería presumir la existencia de crímenes de guerra, lo que daría derecho no sólo a exigir la devolución inmediata, sino la indemnización por daños y perjuicios.

Yo, Evo Morales, prefiero pensar en la menos ofensiva de estas hipótesis.
Tan fabulosa exportación de capitales no fueron más que el inicio de un plan ‘MARSHALLTESUMA”, para garantizar la reconstrucción de la bárbara Europa, arruinada por sus deplorables guerras contra los cultos musulmanes, creadores del álgebra, la poligamia, el baño cotidiano y otros logros superiores de la civilización.

Por eso, al celebrar el Quinto Centenario del Empréstito, podremos preguntarnos: ¿Han hecho los hermanos europeos un uso racional, responsable o por lo menos productivo de los fondos tan generosamente adelantados por el Fondo Indoamericano Internacional? Deploramos decir que no.

En lo estratégico, lo dilapidaron en las batallas de Lepanto, en armadas invencibles, en terceros reichs y otras formas de exterminio mutuo, sin otro destino que terminar ocupados por las tropas gringas de la OTAN, como en Panamá, pero sin canal.

En lo financiero, han sido incapaces, después de una moratoria de 500 años, tanto de cancelar el capital y sus intereses, cuanto de independizarse de las rentas líquidas, las materias primas y la energía barata que les exporta y provee todo el Tercer Mundo.

Este deplorable cuadro corrobora la afirmación de Milton Friedman según la cual una economía subsidiada jamás puede funcionar y nos obliga a reclamarles, para su propio bien, el pago del capital y los intereses que, tan generosamente hemos demorado todos estos siglos en cobrar.

Al decir esto, aclaramos que no nos rebajaremos a cobrarles a nuestros hermanos europeos las viles y sanguinarias tasas del 20 y hasta el 30 por ciento de interés, que los hermanos europeos le cobran a los pueblos del Tercer Mundo. Nos limitaremos a exigir la devolución de los metales preciosos adelantados, más el módico interés fijo del 10 por ciento, acumulado sólo durante los últimos 300 años, con 200 años de gracia.

Sobre esta base, y aplicando la fórmula europea del interés compuesto, informamos a los descubridores que nos deben, como primer pago de su deuda, una masa de 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de plata, ambas cifras elevadas a la potencia de 300.

Es decir, un número para cuya expresión total, serían necesarias más de 300 cifras, y que supera ampliamente el peso total del planeta Tierra.
Muy pesadas son esas moles de oro y plata. ¿Cuánto pesarían, calculadas en sangre?

Aducir que Europa, en medio milenio, no ha podido generar riquezas suficientes para cancelar ese módico interés, sería tanto como admitir su absoluto fracaso financiero y/o la demencial irracionalidad de los supuestos del capitalismo.

Tales cuestiones metafísicas, desde luego, no nos inquietan a los indoamericanos.

Pero sí exigimos la firma de una Carta de Intención que discipline a los pueblos deudores del Viejo Continente, y que los obligue a cumplir su compromiso mediante una pronta privatización o reconversión de Europa, que les permita entregárnosla entera, como primer pago de la deuda histórica…’”

Tomado de http://www.sicnoticias.cl

Former U.S. diplomat Patrick Ryan: Time to drop Cuba from terror list

In Alan Gross, Cuba, Politics, US on April 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

 

 

By Former U.S. diplomat Patrick Ryan

 

From The Hill

As a former U.S. diplomat who authored the 2007-09 Country Reports on Terrorism for Nigeria and visited Cuba many times on official business, I believe keeping Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is absurd and highly political, particularly given its glaring omissions. 

Where is North Korea, which has conducted small-scale attacks against the South over the past several years — and recently threatened a nuclear first strike against the United States? Despite the fact that Cuba maintains a capable espionage network, no credible intelligence sources claim it is currently a security threat to us. Cuba’s listing is about Florida electoral politics. 

A small minority of Cuban-American politicians has been dictating U.S. foreign policy toward one of our most geographically proximate neighbors for too long — and using the highly questionable terrorist listing to justify continuation of the Cold War-era embargo. 

Ironically, these members of Congress support Cubans’ ability freedom to travel to the United States but not Americans’ freedom to travel to Cuba, and use the terrorist justification for this. If we truly want to undermine the Castro regime, the best way would be to end the listing, including the embargo and travel ban, and flood Cuba with American visitors, as well as our products and democratic ideas. Ending the restrictions would also demonstrably help the Cuban people — a stated aim of these same politicians. 

In comparison, most Vietnamese-Americans — who also lost a civil war to communists, 16 years after the Cubans — long ago accepted reality and supported the 1994 normalization of relations with Vietnam. The U.S. buried the hatchet and engaged a country whose human rights record, like Cuba’s — and China’s — has been disappointing, and with whom we were actually involved in a war that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. 

So why not Cuba? 

The fact that members of the Basque separatist group ETA have retired to the island with the blessing of the Spanish government, that FARC members are residing in Cuba during peace talks hosted by Havana and supported by the Colombian government and that various fugitives from American justice — none of whom have been accused of terrorism, by the way — have lived in exile there since the 1970s, are simply not credible arguments for maintaining the designation.

Frankly, it’s well past time that U.S. policymakers had the courage to tell the most vocal Miami exiles to acknowledge reality and move on, as many of them already have. Fortunately, the younger generation of Cubans in Miami isn’t as obsessed with the island as their forebears — and Cubans are no longer a majority of the Latin American population in South Florida.   

President Obama won Florida twice, and is in a unique position to remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and push Congress to end the embargo in his second term. As Cuba continues its sporadic offshore oil exploration with foreign partners, including U.S. allies, it would seem advantageous for it to be a part of the process, in order to help ensure there will not be another disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the economic benefits it would receive from increased exports to the island. The only way to do so is to take Cuba off the terrorism list.

The Castros have used the listing and embargo as excuses for their economic mismanagement and the dismal plight of ordinary Cubans for decades. The last time momentum existed in the U.S. Congress towards lifting it, the Cuban government shot down two small planes flown by the exile group “Brothers to the Rescue” that allegedly violated their airspace, ensuring the embargo and listing would continue. 

I am well aware of the poor human rights record of the regime and am not an apologist for it. The incarceration of Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who brought communications gear into Cuba, contrary to Cuban law, is regrettable, but should not hold U.S.-Cuban relations hostage. Nevertheless, it’s time for a new approach, as the current anachronistic policy has failed miserably for more than a half century.

 

Ryan is a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who previously worked on Capitol Hill. Recently having returned after 14 years away, he has a degree in International Studies from Johns Hopkins and is currently consulting in D.C. on issues that have nothing to do with Cuba, the embargo, or potential business interests there.

 

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/guest-commentary/296867-former-us-diplomat-patrick-ryan-#ixzz2Ry1RShQv 
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Cuba – Five Decisive Years

In Asamblea Nacional/National Assembly on February 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

 

Leonardo Padura is a Cuban writer, journalist and winner of the 2012 National Literature Award, whose novels have been translated into more than 15 languages. In this column, Padura writes that Cuba is entering a phase of transformation. The next five years will be a period of tremendous political and historical significance during which the country will have to grapple with tough questions: for instance, what kind of Cuba will the so-called “historic generation”, now in their 80´s after half a century at the helm of the island’s government, leave to future leaders who will be groomed in these decisive years?

 

By Leonardo Padura

Para version en español pinche aqui

HAVANA, Feb 13 2013 (IPS) – Early this month, Cubans went to the polls to elect delegates nominated by municipal and provincial assemblies to the island’s parliament, the highest government body where citizens’ votes carry decisive weight. The turnout, as usual, was over 90 percent, and all the municipal candidates, as usual, were voted in.

The people of the island voted as they have always done, as a matter of routine, perhaps not realizing the momentous changes these elections are ushering in.

On Feb. 24, at the first session of the new legislature, the 612 elected members of the National Assembly will elect from among their number the leaders who will constitutionally direct the country’s affairs for the next five years.

The most prominent news about the new legislature is the official confirmation that Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada will cease to serve as head of the National Assembly, a post he has held for the last 20 years.

According to public statements, Alarcón explained his departure from the position with the affirmation that 20 years is “too long”, and “there must be change, there must be change”.

But the prospect that is hardly talked about, yet which has implications of immense potential political and historical importance for Cuba, is that after the National Assembly has elected Raúl Castro as president of the Council of State (an outcome no one doubts), the countdown will begin: after 1,823 days, his term of office will end, as will the terms of at least five of the six current vice presidents, all of whom took office in February 2008 when it became evident that Fidel Castro would not be able to resume power and his brother was elected president of the Council of State.

It was Raúl Castro himself, during sessions of the Congress of the ruling Cuban Communist Party in 2011, who proposed that no political office should be exercised for more than two five-year terms – including his own, as president.

The proposal was approved by the party Congress, although it has not yet been incorporated into the constitution, which must also include reforms forged in the country’s new economic model that has been inspired, advocated and promoted by Raúl Castro.

This new situation — unprecedented in a country like Cuba, where political, state and government posts were exercised without limits for five decades – opens a scenario of expectations when it comes to the changes that will happen in the next five years, and what the future will look like in February 2018.

For over five years — first at a slow pace, with changes of vocabulary, and then with concrete economic and social measures for the short, medium and long term (like the migration reform that allows most Cubans to travel freely from January this year, after nearly 50 years of being unable to do so) — army general Raúl Castro has set in motion the machinery of Cuban socialist structures in search of what the country most needs: an institutional environment, financial control, higher productivity, economic efficiency, self-sufficiency in production of certain items, changes in employment policy and changes in property law, among others.

But these urgent matters lead irrevocably to other transformations that have been announced by President Castro himself, in a process that must develop to its fullest during the five-year term beginning Feb. 24 and, indeed, be reflected in the constitution, as it will be reflected in society and its actors.

What changes will take place within the Cuban model? Will there be deeper modifications to the economic structure of the country, which so far has only seen changes that, while significant, are not macroeconomically decisive, and have not been able to guarantee certain goals, such as food production?

What opportunities will there be for foreign investment, in a country that needs capital to renew its ageing infrastructure?

What other freedoms will be approved for citizens in coming years, after the key move of lifting travel restrictions? What kind of Cuba will the so-called “historic generation”, now in their 80´s, after half a century at the helm of the island’s government, leave to future leaders who will be groomed and prepared in these decisive years? What economic, and even social, role may old and new emigrés have in the country?

Cuba is entering a phase of transformation, and the critical period for the resulting changes is the next five years: a long time in the life of a human being, but only a heartbeat in the timeline of history.

 

Cuba da un pasito pa´ lante, EEUU responde con uno pa´ tras

In Alan Gross, CELAC, Politics, US on February 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Hay gente que son imposibles de complacer. Por ejemplo, tomemos como punto de partida a los cambios llevados a cabo recientemente en Cuba. A lo largo de los últimos cinco años ha habido un crecimiento considerable en el establecimiento de negocios en el sector privado en la isla con la apertura de tiendas, paladares, hostales, barberías y peluquerías. Negocios caseros aparecen como la verdolaga respondiendo a las regulaciones del estado y a las necesidades de la población. Recientemente, nuevas regulaciones permiten que cubanos en la isla establezcan cooperativas en localidades que antes eran administradas por el estado. Ya los cubanos pueden disponer de sus bienes como viviendas y automóviles y venderlos o compáralos a su gusto. La propiedad privada de nuevo se considera un bien adquirido a través del esfuerzo digno y no algo que automáticamente lo pone a uno en las mismas filas de un capitalista inescrupuloso de antaño.

Ahora bien, el más radical, sin discusión,   puesto en práctica  en Cuba y fuera de ella ha sido la eliminación del permiso de salida. Los cubanos no tendrán que pasar por horas de papeleo innecesario ni colas interminables para poder salir de la isla. Y más aun, las condiciones que permiten que un cubano viaje han cambiado radicalmente. Solo aquellos individuos menores de edad o con condenas pendientes o que ocupan cargos de alto rango o cuyo trabajo pudiera considerarse seguridad del estado, tendrán limitaciones a  la hora de viajar fuera de la isla. El resto es libre como el viento. Esta medida también afecta a los cubanos residentes en el exterior. Con la nueva enmienda, los cubanos que antes tenían prohibido volver a la isla, ya podrán regresar cada vez que quieran. El caso más notorio hasta la fecha ha sido del pelotero José Ariel Contreras, quien luego de su deserción ha jugado para los Yankees de Nueva York y los Medias Blancas de Chicago y quien estuvo recientemente en la Habana de visita y pasó 10 días en el país.

La mayoría de los analistas coinciden en que todos estos cambios se deben a las diferencias en manejo de gobierno entre Fidel y Raúl Castro. Algunos incluso discuten que Raúl Castro está dando pasos lentos a favor de conciliar las cosas dentro y fuera de la isla. Cuidadosamente revisa cada uno de los aspectos dentro del sistema de gobierno y de legislación en el país a lo largo de estos más de 50 años para así ir modificando aquellos que han ido afectando a la población, tanto fuera como dentro de la isla

Al final, el paso más importante siempre se considera que se toma para conciliar las cosas con el inquilino de la Casa Blanca, y francamente, si Cuba quiere que Obama levante el embargo y se siente a la mesa con la isla, le tienen que dar algo que justifique ese paso con sus detractores.

Aquí viene la parte que me tiene entre las lágrimas y la carcajada. Hace ya más de una década, un grupo dentro del Congreso de EEUU, conocido como el Cáucaso Negro, viajó a la Habana y se entrevistó con Fidel Castro. Entre las cosas que hablaron estuvo la propuesta de Fidel de entrenar a estudiantes norteamericanos en la especialidad de medicina, siempre y cuando a su regreso a los EEUU se incorporaran a los barrios pobres y más necesitados de asistencia médica a ejercer la profesión. Fue así como nació la inclusión de los EEUU en el proyecto de la Escuela latino americana de Medicina. Los legisladores estadounidenses regresaron a su país con la propuesta pero no fue hasta que el Reverendo Lucious Walker y la organización IFCO tomó las riendas en el asunto, que comenzaron a llegar los primeros estudiantes a la isla. Hasta la fecha, la ELAM ha graduado a más de 80 médicos procedentes de los EEUU y en estos momentos hay más de 100 llevando a cabo estudios en Cuba.

Cuba lleva años “exportando” solidaridad hacia América Latina, Asia, el Pacifico Sur Y los EEUU. De manera gratuita, a la usanza de la verdadera solidaridad y en un campo que pudiera bien ser el talón de Aquiles de cualquier administración presidencial en EEUU.

Ahí está, prueba irrefutable que Cuba no exporta revolución ni valores socialistas, exporta educación, y salud. ¿Queda claro, no? Pues, al parecer a todos no les resulta así. Cada vez que el gobierno de Cuba da un paso, positivo y conciliador para con sus propios ciudadanos y por el bien de estos, y hacia mejorar las relaciones con su vecino más cercano, hay quienes simplemente no lo soportan.

Hay quienes prefieren hacer esto:

Proyecto de ley en Florida evitará otorgar licencias a médicos estadounidenses que estudien en Cuba

Un proyecto de ley presentado por dos legisladores de la Florida evitaría que doctores estadounidenses que estudien en Cuba puedan recibir licencia para ejercer en Florida. Los legisladores Manny Díaz Jr y Rene García, ambos de la ciudad de Hialeah pretenden evitar los viajes de doctores estadounidenses a Cuba para estudiar o recibir entrenamiento.

“Los estudiantes de Estados Unidos que hacen la vista gorda a los abusos de derechos humanos básicos y civiles en Cuba no poseen la claridad moral de atender a los pacientes en la Florida” dijeron los legisladores a “El Nuevo Herald”. Cuba ofrece un programa gratuito de entrenamiento médico para ciudadanos estadounidenses y de otras partes del mundo el cual Manny Diaz Jr y Rene García califico de ser una herramienta de propaganda de los Castro.

Los legisladores que el proyecto de ley no aplicaría a aquellos que estudiaron en Cuba antes de venir a Estados Unidos por lo que los exiliados cubanos que se graduaron de medicina en la isla no estarían afectados. El legislador Rene García es también responsable de la ley que pretende prohibir a compañías que tienen sucursales trabajando en Cuba obtener contratos con el estado de la Florida.

Ahí lo tienen. Cuba da uno o más pasos a favor de la lógica y hay quienes en el Congreso de los EEUU le ponen una llave inmovilizadora a la Casa Blanca y a los ciudadanos de los EEUU. La ironía en todo esto es que en la declaración del Representante Manny Díaz y el Senador René García hay un detalle interesantísimo. Los norteamericanos que pretendan estudiar medicina en Cuba no podrán ejercer en la Florida según lo propuesto por estos señores. En cambio, todo aquel cubano que se haya graduado de la misma carrera de medicina, en el mismo país (Cuba) y cursando el mismo exacto programa académico podrá ir a los EEUU y ejercer la carrera sin problemas de ningún tipo. Entiéndase, un cubano ejerciendo como medico en el programa  solidario con Venezuela o Ecuador o Bolivia, ese, si podrá irse a los EEUU donde le otorgan de uno a dos años de vivienda subsidiada y una pensión para ayudarlos mientras estudian para pasar los exámenes de reválida y así poder ejercer en USA. También se les facilita una lista de ciudades donde podrán radicarse para ejercer la profesión.  Y todo esto gracias a la generosidad desconocedora del contribuyente norteamericano! Y quién sabe?! Va y para el estado de la Florida ni siquiera exigen pasar la reválida! Está clarísimo, se permite “el robo de cerebro” desde la isla, se prohíbe ofrecerle educación gratuita a los ciudadanos norteamericanos. Vaya cosa, eso sí que está bueno!

Libertad de viajes, propiedad privada, libre empresa, cambiar a Alan Gross por los Cinco, nada de eso es realmente el problema. No importa lo que haga Cuba, siempre va a haber alguien al otro lado del estrecho de la Florida que hallará una escusa, subnormal o no, tal de hacerle imposible a cualquiera en el gobierno de los EEUU, la posibilidad de poder estrecharle honesta y abiertamente la mano a la isla.