Don’t Talk About Tomorrow Any More, It’s Today / Juan Juan Almeida

•August 26, 2014 • Comments Off

La Demajagua, the official newspaper of provincial committee of the Cuban Communist Party of the Granma Province, reports as important news that a junior high school with an initial capacity of 520 students, is being constructed in Bayamo at a cost of 800,000 pesos. The execution, those responsible for the work assure us, is under the control of several companies, led by the Education Construction Agency. All this without any date, nor any idea when it will be available.

When these people aren’t talking about the history of yesterday, they talk about the plans for tomorrow; but they never say today. There is no doubt, that time and its ravages are the perfect pretext of the Revolution. You’ll see.

13 August 2014

Fiesta and Funeral / Juan Juan Almeida

•August 15, 2014 • Comments Off

Photo taken by Juventud Rebelde

Starting on the morning of Tuesday August 12th, we have the International Youth Day celebrations all over Cuba; but, in view of the fact that, in the words of José Ángel Maury, who is responsible for the UJC (Young Communist League) International Relations, “We have the happy coincidence that it takes place on the eve of the Commander-in-Chief Fidel’s birthday,” the climax will be a huge chorus of Cuban young people and artists singing Happy Birthday Fidel at dawn on August 13th.

And if that doesn’t seem enough, in order to make it up to three, the communist organisers have contrived to combine the festivities of the 12th with the “Yes I have a Brother” day, to commemorate the 60th birthday of the dead President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel’s 88th. It seemed to me I was hearing my talkative grandmother when she said “If anyone doesn’t like soup, they give him three cups of it.”

Translated by GH

12 August 2014

A Troubling Harbinger of Cuba’s Future / Juan Juan Almeida

•August 14, 2014 • Comments Off

It was all much easier when we did not have names for things and you simply had to point with your finger. Back then, the difference between “this” and “that” was merely a gesture. But with the advent of letters, words, paragraphs and know-it-alls it is now more difficult to describe with any precision what the future Cuban landscape will look like.

Throughout our history we have all wanted the same thing: a lasting change that will bring about what is best for Cuba; a pluralistic, diverse, democratic country brimming with happiness. It is worth remembering that it was for this that young men fought one August 4 — on a day like today but in 1955 — in a failed assault on the Presidential Palace. But back to the topic at hand, if things continue as they are now, this “yes but no” and “more of the same” will remain constant features of national life. It is not simply a matter of trying to express what we want but of achieving a better understanding of the way to go about it.

When I set aside emotion and rely on reason, I am saddened to see that the Cuban opposition — and I say this with all due respect — is inclined to reject social reality in favor of literary fiction. Yes, they are courageous people who risk their lives in the streets, but by pursuing parallel agendas and defending personal initiatives, they make it hard to believe they can coalesce into an alternative political force or become a significant or successful social movement which, at this point in time, could encourage unanimity.

This is not impossible but first they must acknowledge the overwhelming need to come together and organize themselves. More than a union, they must form a pact. Competing to demonstrate acquired leadership skills, as they now do, is like swimming in a make-believe desert to feed one’s ego. While this may be laudable, it does nothing to help one’s country.

Meanwhile, as time marches on, those on the island and those in exile express conflicting opinions. The kings of prevarication who currently make up Cuba’s governing clique are looking like heirs-in-waiting.

All indications are that — barring a miracle or a cataclysm, which are unlikely — Cubans will be presented with a souvenir: the imposition of a governmental succession that transfers power from the current office holders to their children, friends, in-laws, cousins and/or close associates.

But it is not I who is saying this. Sir Isaac Newton himself expressed it in his laws of motion and universal gravitation: “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” There are those who do not want to acknowledge this because they are too invested in a funerary transition, or because they spend their time being fascinated with themselves.

The heirs to power, the leading players, will almost certainly be family members of current leaders who already hold strategic positions, party officials who have amply demonstrated their loyalty, and military men such as Raúl Rodríguez Lobaina, Lucio Juan Morales Abad and Onelio Aguilera Bermúdez whose devotion was formed in the heat of battle in places such as Angola, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.

They are the new Caesars, people who, like water, have the ability to go around any obstacle and adapt to any circumstance. Their task will be to restructure the country, guiding it towards “who knows what.” They are certainly willing to fight to stay in power and one day Cubans — worn down by time and memory — will give in and agree to live in oblivion, allowing victims and victimizers to coexist. One fortunate aspect of a laboratory run by pirates is that, instead of eye patches and gold chains, they sport embroidered guayaberas and treat “the Fatherland” as their personal inheritance.

4 August 2014

Che’s Daughter’ Doctor and Tour Operator / Juan Juan Almeida

•August 6, 2014 • Comments Off

Aleida Guevara. Photo taken from Cubadebate

Perhaps motivated by the news confirming that the documentary series “The Life and Work of Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967)” will become part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the eccentric and daring Dr. Aleida Guevara, daughter of the Argentine guerrilla, published a verbal debauchery in the Bayamo newspaper La Demajagua, where she invites all Cubans to visit the Library of Alexandria.

Forgive my ignorance, but I can’t understand what Che Guevara has to do with Ptolemy; and, ignoring this trifle, her writing seems more like a travelogue written under the influence of mate de coca.

And if the doctor’s invitation is paid for by the government, as she is, then we’ll meet in Alexandria. I would like that.

31 July 2014

The Wasted Bolivian Summit and the Words of Raul Castro / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 20, 2014 • Comments Off
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Raul Castro

Bolivian President Evo Morales and Raul Castro (Source EFE)

With much of the world caught up in the unharmonious rivalry of football’s World Cup, which ended last Sunday in Brazil, few people were paying attention to the conclusion of the funereal G77+China summit.

It was attended by a couple of serious figures, a group of spermatzoon zombies and a broad spectrum of political antiques who, given their actions, did not seem to be living in an era in which theoretical debates, respect for inequality and discord dominate.

This event — a theatrical fantasy based on an esoteric work of fiction — ended on June 15 in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It was yet another portrayal of lunacy, one in which uncreative delegates gave insipid speeches full of florid mumbo-jumbo.

They amounted to monologues that sounded good but convinced no one. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General himself, spoke of human rights before a cynical troupe of representatives from countries – Zimbabwe, Syria, Equatorial Guinea, Cuba and Venezuela – accused of violating them. And the there was China, which arrived at the summit without bothering to conceal its true intentions: commercial expansion and strategic positioning in the Americas.

I suggest that analysts start paying attention to this particular issue and stop ignoring Asia’s current imperial-minded superpower, which has invested more than one-hundred million dollars in the region over the last eight years.

There were pleasant but disturbing words from the gruff, obstinate and colorful Evo Morales, president of the summit and of Bolivia — the poorest and most backward country in the South America — whose speeches were sprinkled with his customary and dangerously foolhardy statements. Instead of requesting more support for his nation, he proposed the elimination of the UN Security Council as a means of creating a “new world order.”

A dictatorial government must appear above reproach and project an exemplary image, at least according to books that try to explain how power and social harmony in totalitarian systems are achieved principally through fear. But it can intimidate the lackluster, incoherent, arrogant and rigid.

General Raul Castro, with marked but unconvincing overacting and macho bravado, eschewed the customary meddling policies of Cuba’s revolutionary government. Projecting instead a posture of economic prowess and crocodile charisma, he publicly and shamelessly denounced what he called “illegal, covert and subversive actions, used to destabilize countries.” The Cuban president added, “At the present time state sovereignty is being transgressed and principles of international law are being blatantly violated.”

Has the General/President been drinking again or does he think  that saying one thing while doing another is not lying but rather just a way to maintain a tradition that has been passed down?

In short, the sea.* I don’t know if it was luck or misfortune but, because attention was focused on goals, news of a summit attended by presidents, heads-of-state and over 100 representatives from various countries was not reported until the end of some newscasts. It is evidence that we live at a crucial time marked by a complete leadership vacuum. Worrisome.

*Translator’s note: “en fin, el mar.” Final line of a stanza from the well-known poem “Tengo”  (“I Have”) by 20th century Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen.

16 June 2014

Raul Castro’s Plans for Venezuela and Russia / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 18, 2014 • Comments Off

The grass, the cows, and the man; in the food chain every species expects a greater predator. International politics works in the same way. The government of Venezuela, for example, manipulates world, regional and even local opinion, publicizing the work it does in the Barrio Adentro, Milagro, Sonrisa, Negra Hipólita, José Gregorio Hernández, Moncada missions, etc, etc, etc.

Seeming to clean the castle but in reality they market popular health as if it were a pedestal, in order to save the King and to entertain the country. Using their own sick people to bring the country to its knees, to divide it into tribes that confront each other, to denigrate the spirit and to darken the pride of millions of Venezuelans.

It is a tragedy for many is fortunate for a few. There is nothing of altruism, much less of kindness; it is simply a crime that, given the necessity, becomes socially acceptable but continues to be exactly like any criminal.

There are, therefore, many who confuse a beach with a battlefield, trash with news, who on seeing themselves observers of the real world, limit their vision and mimic whatever parrots are to blame for this crisis called Nicholas Maduro.

Big mistake. The politicians know perfectly well the basics and the repetitiveness of the human race; most people allow themselves to be led, need to be led, and hope that their loyalty will be well compensated.

The former member of the Socialist League, the former bus driver of Caracas the former Foreign Minister, the former executive Vice president, autocrat par excellence and current president of Venezuela, is simply a chess piece who has great responsibility; here Havana is the predator with amazing acuity, and driven by its usual strategy, of domination and management, it invests resources in sending doctors and medicine to control the area and to feed groups of opinion. Julius Caesar, military leader, politician and former Roman dictator said, “A people should not be invaded without any reason.”

I still can not accept that so many analysts in their work of analysis overlook the detail that “El Chino” has nothing to do with China, and the invasion of stethoscopes and white coats is pure business; delivering to the highest bidder the great bear of the Russian steppe.

General Raul Castro, A man more occupied in accumulating power then in defending ideologies, avidly pro-Russian, zigzagging, calculating, and in favor of the Cold War, is trying to organize a possible ending serving the area to a Moscow that is awakening from a lethargy and misses no opportunity to throw itself threateningly into the backyard of the United States with the idea of recapturing its feudal Caribbean paradise and using it as a naval base in the expansion of ALBA, CARICOM, CELAC, OEA and MERCOSUR, all governed by the left and, coincidently, the geographic space that could favor the Kremlin and its ambitions to match the pulse of the New World Order. Something that contradicts the Monroe doctrine; hence much to my regret, “America is no longer for Americans.”

17 July 2014

Hammer Blow to Freedom of Expression / Juan Juan Almeida

•July 15, 2014 • Comments Off

Magazine cover

The editors of the Catholic magazine Laity Space, a sociological debate organ of the Archdiocese of Havana, were removed from their posts. Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez announced it in a brief note that is circulating via email: “We want to inform you that after a decade of intense work — in which we tried to help construct pathways of prosperity and stability for our country — we have been relieved of our duties as Editor and Deputy Editor of the magazine.”  It continues, “It has been a true pleasure to have been able to share this time with all of you clinging to the desire for the possibility of building a better Cuba.  Without you this beautiful adventure would not have taken place.”

To put it bluntly, the Cuban authorities are afraid, very afraid of the word.

Translated by mlk.

13 June 2014


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