You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.


Image taken from Flickr

In what could be described as the best example of the agility of the official media, the newspaper Granma published a summary of what was agreed to at the Seventh Plenary Session of the Party’s Central Committee two days after it ended. But I am not complaining, there is more fabric to cut through on those pages than in all the MINCIN (Ministry of Internal Trade) stores.

The paper called attention to the compliments received on the work relating to the country’s defense, where it is asserted that the accomplishments in this area, “Exceeded expectations and in addition allowed precise specification of the work projections for the coming years.” The success here is attributed to having taken adequate measures and having correctly controlled their execution. These results—it claims—have been obtained “from the strategic vision set by the Commander in Chief, The War of the Entire People, which has amply demonstrated its worth during its almost three decades of existence.” Immediately afterward it states that, “we have not achieved the same strength of defense in the equally crucial economic front.”

The truth is that the above mentioned “accomplishments in defense” have not had the opportunity to test themselves against the reality of an invasion, as has occurred on the economic front, where the enemy that must be defeated is the insatiable needs of almost twelve million people for food, energy, transport, clothing, housing and household effects.

Without detailing them, it was announced that they had already decided “the measures it is necessary to adopt immediately to address the impact in our country of the economic crisis that today affects all of humanity.” One assumes that said measures, “difficult and unpleasant, but which simply cannot be postponed,” would be under consideration (that is, approved) in the next session of the National Assembly and that Granma may make them public a few days later. Among them, perhaps the most significant would those aimed at “finding new formulas to release productive potential” because the only productive potential that can be released is that that has been handcuffed by the socialist mode of production that, to use Marxist terminology, has been its straight jacket.

To me, personally, the most pressing question was the theme of the Sixth Communist Party Congress. The whole world already knew they could not fulfill the promise made on February 24, 2008 to hold the congress at the end of 2009. Now they tell us that the celebration of the event is dependent on a huge process, a crucial stage of prior preparation, in which they anticipate the participation of the full membership and the entire population. It’s possible they are planning to reissue the debates of 1991 from before the Fourth Party Congress, but they will need to offer very clear guarantees that those who disclose their critical opinions on this occasion won’t be punished later. The published text refers to the perniciousness of the false unanimity and the need to “stimulate debate and healthy disagreement.” Already the inclusion of the adjective “healthy” raises my hackles. As long as our leaders don’t understand that they must decriminalize all forms of dissent, and as long as they don’t show it by decreeing an amnesty for all those in prison who have disagreed, we will lose opportunities to learn what the solutions might be.

There are people who are betting that the Sixth Congress won’t be held. I wouldn’t go that far. What I don’t see on any horizon is the seventh.


The topic of the five Interior Ministry fighters imprisoned in the United States, may be the issue that has occupied the greatest amount of space in the Cuban media in the last ten years. If two teams of film makers, one Cuban and one American, each proposed to make a film about them and each used only the information published in its respective countries, without a doubt we could see two completely different movies.

In Cuba they are The Five Heroes, young intellectuals who, without doing any harm to American interests, infiltrated at the risk of their lives the counterrevolutionary groups in Florida to prevent terrorist actions against their own people.

In the United States, they are five of the ten spies of the Wasp Network sentenced to long prison terms for dedicating themselves professionally to collecting sensitive information that affected national security and for conspiring to assassinate four pilots from the group Brothers to the Rescue, who were shot down in international waters by Cuban airplanes thanks to information they provided.

But there is no paragraph that could summarize the farrago of information from one side or the other shedding light or throwing shadows on the topic. As a Cuban living on the island, I should feel grateful for the work of Gerardo, René, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando. The figure of 3,478 Cubans dead by terrorist acts is invoked as a devastating argument to justify an information network in the country where most of those violent acts have been organized. I could have been one of these victims and if someone is doing something to protect me, what option do I have but to recognize it.

What confuses me a little is the figure used in a document published in June 1999, a year after the five were imprisoned, titled: Demand from the Cuban people for redress from the United States government for human damages. If the United States government is responsible for these terrorist activities, as stated in the fifth chapter of this Demand, how did the Wasp Network operate to find out what “the Miami mafia” was doing without the knowledge of the United States government, which the Demand accuses of the greatest guilt? The only way to reduce the guilt of the five would be to reduce the supposed guilt of the USA with regards to terrorism against Cuba.

The eight medical students shot in November 1871 by the Spaniards are known as The Innocents. Che Guevara has the epithet The Heroic Guerrilla. No one considers the eight students heroes, nor has Che ever been said to have been innocent. They cannot be both at the same time.

Personally, I would have preferred that the Cuban government had recognized its sacrosanct right to infiltrate spies into the territory of the United States. Did it not recognize a right more difficult to accept—the right of revolutionaries to foment a revolution—when it organized an armed commando group in Bolivia to establish the socialist system across Latin America?

I have nothing against the five, as I have never practiced terrorism I know that they have never informed against me. I have always wondered who they reported to. I assume it was not to the philately specialists in the Communications and Technology Ministry, nor to the technicians of choice fruits in the Agriculture Ministry. I imagine they reported to some Intelligence address at the Interior Ministry, where they would have had not only a pseudonym, but also a degree and probably a salary.

Unless they infiltrated for free and the Wasp Network was an NGO for humanitarian purposes.


If you have already read Yoani’s post it is not necessary to repeat the details of what happened during Pedro Luís Ferrer’s last concert in the patio of the Museum of Decorative Arts. I am just writing these lines to warn those of you who aren’t aware of the intolerance gaining ground every day in the political life of my country.

With so many terrible things to make public, it doesn’t make much sense to use this space to “denounce” the minimal violation we were victims of when they wouldn’t let us enter. We know they want to isolate the Generation Y blogger, with so many Cubans identifying with and supporting her it feels like her radioactivity has reached very high levels. They can’t stand her, it worries them that a discordant voice can be heard and they are willing to use everything at their disposal to destroy her.

What is serious is not what they did but the audacity with which they acted, in the full light of day in front of witnesses. Yet they still don’t have the courage to identify themselves with their real names, even though the whole world knows which institution they answer to. At one point, when I looked into the eyes of the head of the operation, I knew that people like this are capable of anything. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I have the suspicion that these are men who one day could fire on their own people.


A new graffiti is present on Havana’s walls. In large italic letters its author writes the word, “Sixth,” at times finishing it with a star, other times accompanying the text with the image of a face. It reminds me of “Chori,” the pioneer of Cuban graffiti who almost never left a wall in Havana without his signature in white chalk back in the ‘60s, and they tell me he did it even earlier.

Is it a proper name, or maybe the name of a hip hop group which in my profound musical ignorance I don’t know?

A retiree whom I greet on occasion in the newspaper line asked me if this poster could be some propaganda about the sixth Communist Party Congress, in the style of that campaign invented by Robertico Robaina in the years when he was the first secretary of the Young Communists Union. Remember? 31st and Palante and that what’s-his-face comandante, whoever. But it doesn’t seem that Julio Martínez, the most insipid youth leader in the history of Cuba, would have taken the initiative.

Who knows? Maybe it’s the sixth child of a marriage, or one of the military’s demobilized who’s celebrating his discharge remembering his unit’s number, or a sex maniac with bad spelling, I won’t even discard my retired friend’s hypothesis that it is a militant communist who in this way is remembering the leaders of his party who are now about to celebrate said Congress.

Link to Original Blog in Spanish

Please help translate

Reinaldo Escobar (1947), an independent journalist since 1989, writes from Cuba where he was born and continues to live. He received his degree in Journalism from the University of Havana in 1971 and subsequently worked for different Cuban publications. His articles can be found in various European publications, and in the digital magazines "Cuba Encuentro" and "Contodos."

Desde Aquí/From Here is a personal undertaking born from the need to write about those topics that fill my head every day but that cannot find a space in the official Cuban media.

reinaldoescobar@desdecuba.com

Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Blog Stats

  • 12,458 hits
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.