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When Army General Raul Castro Ruz, in his role as President of the National Defense Council, ordered the start of this training, he explained (in my opinion, inaccurately) that this was done with the objective of being prepared “to confront different actions by the enemy.”
So far, not him, nor any other high level official or functionary, has wanted to call the enemy by its proper name, nor have the journalists who write about the issue who — as if they had received an order — have limited themselves to putting phrases in their interviewee’s mouths such as: “Today it’s an exercise, but the Yankees are capable of anything…”; “we will destroy any imperial adventure,” or at best, allusions to “our historic enemy.”
There’s no need to place secret microphones in the rooms where they convened the Leadership of the Organs of Security and Internal Order or the Working Groups or the Provincial Defense Councils, to know that in these instances when they make the plans to “preserve interior order” or “to prevent vandalism,” he directly states the names of other “enemies.” There, they detail what to do with the uncomfortable opponents, who will deal with those captured and what site they should be taken to, and in case things get ugly, what extreme measures should be applied.
The much mentioned “Cuban military doctrine” rests on the principle of “The War of the Whole Power” which has nothing to do with the war of one party of the people against another party of the people.
A philologist friend whispered in my ear that Bastion and Bastille are closely related, sharing the same etymological root. On 14 July 1789, a crowd of Parisians assaulted the infamous prison. And the soldiers located on the Champ de Mars had refused to shoot the people advancing on the fort, not only to release the prisoners but also to seize the ammunition. The rest is well-known history. The Bastille fell into the hands of the people. Many of its stones, from its subsequent demolition, were used to build the Pont de la Concorde — the Peace Bridge.
Free access to information for me to have my own opinion.
I want to elect the president by direct vote, not by other means.
Neither militants nor dissidents, all Cubans with the same rights.
End the blockade… and the INTERNAL BLOCKADE.
It’s been six days since the Cuban musician Robertico Carcassés surprised everyone with his daring improvisation in the midst of a concert at the Anti-imperialist Plaza on the Havana Malecon. As with any urban legend, there are versions that add and others that subtract words from his unusual speech. Like many other television viewers, I was watching another channel when the event dedicated to demanding the release of the Ministry of the Interior’s five combatants in the United States was broadcast, but in less than 24 hours I received a text message which reproduced the words where he asked for free access to information, the right to elect a president by direct vote and equal rights for Cubans, be they militants or dissidents, adding the desire to end the blockade and the internal blockade.
There are many of us who envy the luck of the singer. To have a microphone in hand while broadcasting live and direct to the whole nation. Everyone would like to say their piece, personally, if only for a few brief seconds; I would limit myself to demanding the decriminalization of political dissent. Others would ask for freedom of the press or justice before a specific outrage. Robertico Carcassés must have thought very hard about his improvisation. I hope he can come to terms with the consequences.
Now some are criticizing him for what he said and others for what he didn’t say. From this modest space, I congratulate him.
Oh, if I only had a microphone!
16 September 2013
At the end of this morning’s TV news magazine, Buenos Dias, conspicuously absent in the official Cuban media was the issue of the North Korean ship loaded with missiles. I am absolutely certain that the coming days will produce nothing like a press conference with the Minister of the Armed Forces to respond to questions from foreign journalists accredited on the Island, not even with the accomplices of the national press. However, I would like to make public, in this small space, what my questions would be, should I be given the opportunity to present them to the minister in question face to face.
- Do you consider that contracting with North Korea for armaments repair services is consistent with the policy or replacing imports set out in the guidelines from the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC)?
- Does Cuba lack the technical facilities and personnel capable of maintaining combat readiness of the armaments available for the defense of the Homeland?
- To what point does the obsolescence of our munitions affect the often proclaimed military invulnerability of Cuba?
- What elements were taken into consideration in choosing North Korea as a destination to repair our armaments instead of contracting this service out to Russia, where they were built?
- Is it true that in the agreements signed by the Cuban government with the USSR there is a commitment established not to re-export the arms acquired?
- The note from the Foreign Ministry (MINREX) mentions that there were two complete rockets on board the North Korean ship. Were they so entirely broken that they had to be shipped in their entirety to be repaired?
- Is the fact that the weapons were covered with sugar an intent to mask the military cargo, or is it a new method of taking advantage of the space?
- To what extent does the Cuban government share the responsibility for not having informed Panama what was being transported in the holds of the ship?
- In the contract signed to repair these armaments in North Korea did the government of Cuba introduce any clause about the discretion, any warning, that would prevent the North Koreans from doing something else with these weapons?
- At what level was this high-risk operation organized? Was it your personal decision or was it known to president Raul Castro?
19 July 2013
Minutes before officiating his last Mass in St. Teresita Church in Santiago de Cuba Father Jose Conrado went to visit the Sanctuary of El Cobre. There, at the foot of the Virgin of Charity, on his knees, he prayed silently. Then he stood up, sang and prayed to the patron saint of Cuba. Noticeably moved, with tears in his voice, he begged for his sheep, for the priests that will substitute for him in his church, and for the people of Cuba. It was almost six in the evening and the temple was practically empty.
We are used to seeing a priest in his role as emissary of God to the faithful, teaching the Gospel, hearing confessions and forgiving our sins. This Friday on the verge of abandoning the congregation he was responsible for for almost fifteen years, Father Jose Conrado was our ambassador to the Virgin. Not even lacking absolute faith could anyone could be oblivious to the emotions that vibrated at the altar. Joseph Conrad pleaded for us all. I have no doubt, we were heard.
10 June 2013
I must be brief because I’m dedicating myself to “the tasks belonging to my sex” while Yoani undertakes her exemplary work as a citizen ambassador. What most caught my attention in the recent “elections” was Raul Castro repeating that Machado Ventura would not leave, nor would we have to wait another day to know the names of the members of the new Council of State. What I most admired was the popular indifference. As I noted in my Twitter account, there were no popular celebrations, people didn’t go out into the street to celebrate the reelection of their leader, the car horns didn’t make the slightest noise, and it didn’t occur to anyone to hang a Cuban flag from their balcony. If we compare this chilly reception with the demonstrations we saw in Ecuador at the reelection of Correa, or the symbolic welcome Chavez received in Venezuela, we have to conclude that those Revolutionary emotions, that overwhelming enthusiasm so bragged about, have died forever.
This will be not only be the last term of Raul Castro, but also the swan song for the already dying Cuban revolution.
25 February 2013
A dozen countries are included in this trip to accept academic invitations and attend social networking and media events. If, as has been said, Yoani was the thermometer to measure the scope of the new travel regulations, we have to accept that — despite its limitations — this is the most important reform implemented by Raul Castro in the political and social realm. A few hours earlier Rosa María Payá, daughter of the deceased opponent Oswaldo Payá, had headed for Europe and now other prominent personalities of civil society, such as Dagoberto Valdez, Berta Soler and Wilfredo Vallin, are arranging their visas.
Currently the travel restrictions are being maintained only against those who were imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003 and who now “enjoy” the status of being on parole but have not been pardoned or reprieved, so by law they are considered to have outstanding convictions.
The presence abroad of those who are now crossing the national borders represents the exercise of popular diplomacy by citizen ambassadors. It breaks the monopoly of the Cuban authorities and its official sector, as the “tolerated inconvenient” spread a version of our reality.
18 February 2013
Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said in Havana that the new economic policies dictated by Raul Castro to make people pay taxes will open the way for there to be responsible citizens. What the Mexican Specialist did not say was that when citizens are given the responsibility to share the social costs through their taxes, they also must provide them legally backed rights to express themselves freely and to associate freely.
To be responsible for the economic costs of a social process about which you have no say, you can not change, can not be an “enviable” practice.
14 February 2013
For me 2013 has special connotations. I have a personal prophecy that I’ve only told my friends and that came into my head in a dream in the middle of a hangover, after the party for the arrival of the year 2000.
The dream in question was a conversation in which I was debating how comparable two dates were, one was the first of January 1959 and the other the 13th of April 2013. That’s all I could remember when I woke up and since then I have been waiting for this day.
So I leave it there. I promise not to kick myself if something happens on that day and I accept ahead of time all the jokes that will come my way when absolutely nothing happens.
31 December 2012
I know I’ve repeated this little joke too many times, but I stress the question. What is the prediction coming out of the polls in regards to the name of the next Cuban president?
17 December 2012
Listening yesterday to the General President in his discourse before the Cuban parliament, I got the impression that the so-called “process of reforms” will continue on its course without backtracking, but it will do so without the depth and speed required.
Raul Castro again complained about the existence of a mentality stuck in the methods of the past, something he had done in his speech before the 5th Plenum of the Central Committee as well as at the last extended meeting of the Council of Ministers.
It is surprising that a person who holds in his hands all the resources, all the legal power, and even the moral authority to change things, presents himself as a victim of phantasmagoric way of thinking that doesn’t allow him to move forward as needed.
An example of this situation is the slowness demonstrated in renewing the cadres. Last January, the 1st National Conference of the Cuban Communist Party, which was required to renew the Central Committee, declined to act and passed a kind of vote of confidence (and at the same time a mandate) for the Central Committee to renew itself by 20%. They have already held at least two full sessions since the Conference and nothing has been said about renewal.
In the days of Perestroika Mikhail Gorbachev and the ideologues on his team created the term “brake mechanism” to identify the recalcitrants who didn’t want to change anything. If the Island’s “go slow” faction continues to impede reforms, sooner or later Raul Castro will be forced to go over to the opposition, or to stage a Fujimori style Auto-Coup.
The unfinished business which, in my opinion, prevents any progress, is centered on the issue of Political Reforms. As long as they don’t deactivate the repressive character of the regime, as long as they don’t decriminalize political dissent, as long as they don’t allow and promote freedom of expression and freedom of association, Raul Castro will have to continue plowing with the old and tired oxen who just don’t understand the direction of the new furrows.
I know I am being extremely generous, or perhaps I’m just being sly to show that in this car even the most insignificant screw forms a part of the annoying brake mechanism.
14 December 2012