Prohibitions

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What is different? The smells and the temperature, I think at first. Then come the noises, so unique in each place, the grayness of the winter sky or the dark shade of the water in a river that runs through much of Europe. What, really, is new? I keep asking myself while trying a taste here, or shaking some hands, for the first time, there. The music perhaps, the sound of the tram braking at the stop, the snow piled up along the sidewalks, the spring flowers struggling to bloom even though the worst, perhaps, awaits them from the frost. Where is the strangeness? In the church bells that seem to compete at the marking of every hour, or in certain houses of such antiquity that seeing them makes the constructions in Old Havana look young.

But neither the profusion of modern autos, nor the WiFi signal that lets me connect to the Internet almost anywhere, are the real novelty for me. Nor are the kiosks full of newspapers, or the shops with bulging shelves, or the dog who, on the Metro subway platform is treated like the lord and master of the situation. The strange thing is not the friendliness of the clerks, the near absence of lines, the gargoyles with their claws and sharp teeth protruding from the walls, or the steaming wine that is drunk more to warm the body than to please the palate. None of these sensations, first-time or almost forgotten, over a decade without traveling, are what marks the difference between the Island I now see in the distance, and the countries visited on this occasion.

The principal contrast lies in what is and is not permitted. Since I got off the first plane I was expecting someone to scold me, someone to come out and warn me, “You can’t do that.” I look for the glance of the guard who will come to tell me, “Taking photos is not allowed,” the grim-faced cop who shouts at me, “Citizen! Identification,” the official who cuts off my passage while saying, “You can’t enter here.” But, I’m not about run into any of those characters so common in Cuba. So for me, the big differences are not the delicious seeded bread, the long-lost beef that now returns to my plate, or the sounds of another language in my ears. No. The big difference is that I don’t feel I’m permanently marked with the red badge of the outlaw, the whistle that surprises me in something clandestine, the constant sensation that whatever I do or think could be prohibited.

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264 thoughts on “Prohibitions

  1. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION DOCUMENT – CUBA: FURTHER INFORMATION: PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE ON HUNGER STRIKE: CALIXTO RAMÓN MARTÍNEZ ARIAS

    Further information on UA: 25/13 Index: AMR 25/002/2013 Cuba Date: 14 March 2013
    Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias is on hunger strike to protest against his detention in Cuba. As a result, he has been placed in solitary confinement in a punishment cell. On 6 March, journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias went on hunger strike to protest against his detention in Combinado del Este prison on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba. He was consequently transferred by the prison authorities to a punishment cell. According to his relatives, the small cell where he is now held has no light, toilet facilities or bedding, and he is not permitted to leave the cell to exercise in the open air. These kinds of punitive measures are typically used by the Cuban authorities against prisoners on hunger strike. Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias is yet to be formally charged by the public prosecutor, and according to his relatives he is reportedly being accused of “disrespect” (“desacato”). Amnesty International believes Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias’ detention is politically motivated and related to his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.

    Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

    CLICK LINK ON HOW YOU CAN HELP CALIXTO!
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/002/2013/en/f2ef351c-54ab-43cb-a99e-0c39b3e9adab/amr250022013en.html#.UUNwMtFK0Zc.twitter

  2. BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yoani Sanchez Sees Faster Change in Cuba Post-Chavez – By Bill Faries

    Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, on her first visit to the U.S., said the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will help fuel economic changes beyond the government’s control on the Caribbean island.

    “In recent months the pace of change has been accelerating, and not because of the government’s efforts,” Sanchez said in an interview today at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “The death of Hugo Chavez and the possible reduction of Venezuelan subsidies is one variable accelerating this change. We’re in uncharted territory.”

    Sanchez, who will meet lawmakers in Washington next week, said Castro’s economic changes to date have been too small because the government is concerned greater economic freedoms will weaken its political power. She dismissed Castro’s Feb. 24 statement that he’ll leave power after his current term ends in 2018, saying that he’s already had 54 years in power as president and second-in-command under his 86-year-old brother, former President Fidel Castro.

    Her New York visit, part of her first foreign travel after more than five years of seeking permission to leave the island, follows Castro’s decision in January to ease some travel restrictions. Not all dissidents have been allowed to leave, and Sanchez said she fears what may happen to her or her family when she returns to Cuba.

    Messages and e-mails to press officials at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the Foreign Ministry in Havana weren’t immediately answered.

    Sanchez, whose “Generation Y” blog has served as an outlet for her frustrations with daily life under the Castro regime, said growing economic independence will eventually erode the government’s grip on society.

    By offering economic opportunity, “an ice cream-making machine in Cuba today could be as subversive as a dissident’s statement,” Sanchez said.

    A transition to a more market-based economy should focus on aiding small entrepreneurs, not established companies, Sanchez said. A failure to do so could result in military leaders becoming businessmen with monopoly power in different economic sectors, she said.

    Latin Americans will also closely watch the U.S. role in any transition, Sanchez said. If a transition isn’t managed well, “we could have another century of dictators and strongmen.”

    First Vice President Manuel Diaz-Canel, who would succeed Raul Castro if he can’t finish his term, was “named not for his abilities, but for his loyalty,” Sanchez said.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-15/yoani-sanchez-sees-acclerating-change-in-cuba-post-chavez.html

  3. Nick and –man comes–

    Repudiation gets boring on internet blogs. And you’re taking work away from Castro’s full-time bloggers in Havana.

    I recommend a Socialist International tour of Cuba, repudiation rallies are included.

    They provide you with buckets of bricks you can throw at elderly ladies.

    A lot more fun.

  4. Nick:

    Glad to have you back. I need your help.

    I’m looking for a socialist armchair. I hear Harrods sells luxurious ones at a reasonable price.

    May I ask where you buy yours?

  5. Got myself 2 anons today …nice to see i’m ‘so popular’ … If only i could sell them …

    So elTonto has no dough to see his matinee idol! And elCapitan keeps quiet

  6. LA FLACA IN NYC!!

    FRIDAY, MARCH 15 Hemmerdinger Hall, New York University, 100 Washington Square East
    4:00 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
    4:30 KEYNOTE: Yoani Sanchez

    8:00 VIDEO PROGRAM: DESPERTAR (2011) and OPERACION ALFA (2012)
    Ricardo Figueredo Oliva /53 Washington Square East.

    SATURDAY, MARCH 16 The New School, 55 W. 13th St., Room 5311
    12:00-2:00 THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN CUBA: ITS RELEVANCE AND IMPACT
    Panelists: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Ted Henken, Ariana Hernandez-Reguant
    Moderator: Coco Fusco.

    3:00-5:00 CUBA IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT: SOCIAL MEDIA AND POLITICAL CHANGE
    Panelists: John Kelly, Yoani Sanchez, Nitin Sawhney, Thomas Werner
    Moderator: Sean Jacobs

    7:00 DIRECT FROM HAVANA, CUBA: PABLO MENENDEZ AND MEZCLA NYC

    SUNDAY, MARCH 17 The New School, 55 W. 13th St., Room 531

    12:00-2:00 THE DEVELOPMENT OF AUTONOMOUS CULTURAL AND PUBLIC SPHERES IN CUBA TODAY
    Panelists: Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, Ana Dopico, Pablo Menendez, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo Moderator: Chris Stover

    3:00-5:00 PLENARY SESSION WHAT’S NEXT? CUBA’S EVOLVING POLITICAL AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
    The Revolution Recodified is a three-day conference at The New School and New York University about the impact of digital technology in Cuban culture and society. For more than a decade, Cuban artists, musicians, independent journalists and librarians have teamed with computer scientists and engineers on the island and in the diaspora to foment a socially engaged and politically independent culture using digital technology. The conference will explore the ways that digital technology is transforming Cuba’s cultural and political landscape by challenging the state’s longstanding monopoly on communications media and its hegemonic control of cultural production and distribution.

    http://therevolutionrecodified.wordpress.com/

  7. Anonimo Too – The man is not a man. Her old posting name is Un Soricel. She goes under various names, Diana Brancoveanu, or Simona Thrussell. Google you will find. A nutter.

  8. Anonimos 1 and 2 (222 & 223)

    So you don’t like the Droning Ranger stories?

    Don’t you think they have a satirical bite?

    Don’t you see a hard hitting screenplay in the future??

    Perhaps an oscar nomination somewhere down the line???

    Oh well, you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time.

    Some of the comments posted here by the Yoani Sanchez sycophants are a joke.
    Pure Comedy.

    Some I’m just posting up a little comedy of my own…

    …and shall carry on doing so for as long as I feel the need to. Thanks.

    In fact I’m working on the next episode right now…

    Aint easy you know; the creative process!

  9. I THINK THIS PIECE SHOWS THE REASON WHY MOST CUBANS IN THE USA HAVE NOT SUPPORTED MEXICAN AND MEXICAN-AMERICAN CAUSES! YOU BLAME THEM?

    NY TIMES: Mexican Government is Faithful to Fidel – By Carlos Puig

    But in Mexico, Cuba’s most famous dissident was given a decidedly cool welcome.

    A couple of weeks ago, Sánchez finally got an exit visa to leave Cuba and started a three-month tour that will take her across Latin America, the United States and Europe. Her first stop in Mexico was in Puebla, two hours from Mexico City, at the annual meeting of the Inter American Press Association. When some of her Mexican friends asked politicians and nongovernmental organizations to host an event in her honor, they found no takers. At the conference itself she was harassed and insulted. Organizations no one had ever heard of published manifestos in local newspapers repudiating her visit.
    Earlier this week, Senator Roberto Gil Zuarth invited Sánchez to the Senate in Mexico City to give a lecture on freedom of expression and social media. When, well past the announced starting time, Gil finally opened the talk, the room had filled up with journalists and civilians but only four of the 20 front-row seats reserved for senators were occupied.

    More likely, though, the explanation is the curious ideological sympathy that lingers between Cuba and Mexico. The Mexican daily La Razón identified some signatories of the Puebla repudiation and the hecklers at the Senate event as supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the former presidential candidate from the leftist coalition.

    Mexico has been gracious in return. It consistently votes with Cuba, despite its problematic human rights record, in almost every international organization. The Mexican government has rarely criticized the Castros in their nearly 55 years in power. Vicente Fox, the one Mexican president who dared — meeting with dissidents in Cuba in 2002 and calling for democracy there — got hammered in the press and at the opinion polls for it. His successor, President Felipe Calderón, promptly returned to the old ways.

    As the Senate event on Tuesday was ending, a former senator from the left of center who was not present at the event put out a well-timed Tweet calling Sánchez a fraud and a cynic.

    By then, Gil, the talk’s host, had grown quite nervous. Sánchez was trying to calm him down. She grabbed the protesters’ fake $100 bills — they bore her image in the place of Benjamin Franklin’s — and tossed them away.

    Defeated by Sánchez’s poise and her willingness to take on their provocations, the demonstrators left. “I would love to live in a country where I could protest like this,” she said by way of goodbye.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/castros-appeal-half-a-century-old-endures-in-mexico/

  10. NBC LATINO: Cuban dissident blogger, Yoani Sanchez, speaks out in New York – by Leonor Ayala, Telemundo’s New York Bureau Chief

    Arriving in New York City is a dream come true for famed Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez. The 37-year-old distinguished by her long brown hair and strong opinions, said she’s waited for five years on 20 different occasions to travel, and last month she was finally allowed to embark on a three-month, 12-country world tour, after a new law eliminated the exit permit that had been required of islanders for five decades. Last night, an ebullient Sanchez stepped off of a plane from Mexico. “I am trying to absorb it all –- the sights, the sounds, the smells…,” she said as she arrived at Columbia University for her first public speaking event in the United States. She began by telling students her story of defying the Cuban government’s ban on social media -– tweeting truths about life inside of Cuba. Eventually her blog, “Generation Y,” and Twitter account were blocked in Cuba, but she told a room full of captive students and journalists, from New York to Miami, that she dreams of returning to Cuba to start a digital news site — to be followed by a print edition, which would reach a wider audience. “[Cubans] are surrounded by water, but in reality, we are a society surrounded by censorship — trapped by censorship,” she explained. Sanchez says most Cubans share information from the internet, which is currently banned, using flash drives.“If you visit Cuba, the most well-received gift is a flash drive,” said Sanchez. When Sanchez began her tour last month, her first stop was in Brazil, and she has since traveled to the Czech Republic, Spain and Mexico. She made a point that her visit to Washington, D.C. next week will be crucial, because she’d like to explain to President Obama that things are changing in Cuba — not by way of its political leadership, but a change led by its people.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    nbclatino.com/2013/03/15/cuban-dissident-blogger-yoani-sanchez-speaks-out-in-new-york/

  11. HI =—-The man comes around…== !! BIG GUSANO HUGS AND KISSES TO YOU DEAR!

    EURO NEWS SPECIAL VIDEO REPORT: Cuba: change from within (Antonio Rodiles @ 5:00 minutes) – They are artists, intellectuals or bloggers, and they want Cuba to open up to the world. Whether they are dissidents or not, a new generation of Cubans is trying in every way it can to create bubbles of freedom in their country. This week, Reporter returns to Cuba, highlighting the striking contrast between different parts of the Cuban population. On the one hand, there is Cuba’s carefree and politically abstinent youth, who somehow get by in a country without many job prospects. On the other, there are young Cubans who are committed to change in Cuba. Some, like Etian and Barbaro, chose music as a vehicle. Their aim is to reach as many people as possible. Others, like Barbara and Laritza, use their jobs as lawyers to assist fellow Cubans. And others still are ready to fight for more freedom. Their weapon is the internet. Labelled as dissidents by the government, some talk of police beatings, others spend time in jail. All say it’s time for change in Cuba. How long will the regime remain deaf to their demands? First-hand witness accounts from within Cuba, this week in Reporter.
    http://www.euronews.com/2013/03/15/cuba-change-from-within/#.UUNGrHPOtPc.facebook

  12. Darling, your rants aren’t interesting the first time you post them, and they sure don’t get any better with age, no need to post them a second time.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Humberto’s bank account if I were you, better to worry about keeping a roof over your squatting parent’s heads. Guess they couldn’t scrape up enough money to buy their own house, they wanted someone else’s free from the government.

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