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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

yoasale-2After receiving 20 refusals for an Exit Permit over the last five years, yesterday, Sunday, the blogger Yoani Sanchez crossed the border of Jose Marti airport in Havana to fly to Brazil.

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.
yoasale18 February 2013

barcenaAlicia 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

At ten o’clock this morning, Monday, February 4, not even the government website Cubadebate had fresh news about the final results of the so-called “Elections” in Cuba. Clearly we can bet that all 612 candidates were approved for the 612 posts as Deputies. Perhaps that’s why the news that Fidel Castro has reappeared filled the morning news on TV.

As on every occasion in the past, we will receive, in due time, a flood of numbers that break down by province the number of voters at the polls and the number of annulled and blank ballots. No one will be able to dispute this data, despite the fact the official media insists on proclaiming that any citizen can be present at the time of scrutiny — even foreigners!

The electoral law establishes that on completion of the count, the managers of each polling place will record the results on a blank ballot, identical to that used to cast the votes, where only the names of the candidates appear. This ballot must be displayed to inform the public.

The law is particularly emphatic in insisting that it is forbidden to use any other paper to write out this information. In all these years it hasn’t occurred to anyone to design and print a model where there are spaces for the number of ballots annulled and left blank, along with the number of people appearing at each polling place.

If there were such a model, anyone would have the time to travel around by bike or on foot to the schools in their municipality that served as polling places, and in coordination with others compute the results for the province and at a national level. The lack of such a model would require civil society to have an observer in every one of the 30,000 schools throughout the country to tally this information.

When there is no way to prove, compare, or disprove, with evidence, data of such importance and which generally serves as a measure of discontent, there is a right to suspect the transparency of the process. There are many people who don’t need to know the details I describe here to lack confidence in the electoral results. It is a clarification directed at the unbiased observer who tries to take an objective position.

4 February 2013

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

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