Repression by Episodes

What does the insect caught in the web feel as it watches its predator approach? What are its thoughts in the seconds between the anticipation of the attack and death? It must be a lot like the days in which a repressive trap is built around an individual, a group, a society. Similar to that script that builds the justifications for a blow, molding public opinion, filling in the archive that will later be presented to the press or the courts.

The current strategy against the Cuban opposition resembles the slow creep of the spider’s legs toward its victim.

We are living in a soap opera episode-by-episode, an attempt to demonize technologies and the dissidence, who knows if to repeat those dark days of the Black Spring of March 2003. The blow approaches, in the insistence in which the press repeats certain refrains, its obsession with themes like Zunzuneo and trying to link it with the violence of four supposed terrorists recently discovered in the country. Like in a bad TV show, the threads are showing in the tying together of mobile phones, Twitter, death and war. Fortunately these soap operas barely work any more on a Cuban public too focused on their daily needs, overwhelmed by material shortages, saturated with ideology and obsessed more with escapism than with civic consciousness.

The trap is almost set. Will it be used? Who knows. But there’s not much that can be done to stop it, except to denounce it. At the end of the story the spider is always bigger, stronger, more imposing.

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47 thoughts on “Repression by Episodes

  1. Nick,

    My past aggressive tone was just in response to your abuse of defenseless dissidents and support of awful dictatorships. I got tired of it.

    People who support totalitarian regimes are naturally more abusive than someone like me.

    But you still can’t answer a simple question regarding Cuba or your nutty statements. I don’t know how much simpler I can make it.

    You stated “In Cuba, for all it’s faults and economic problems, loss of life due to hurricanes (which frequently hit the island) is very rare.”

    Why do you believe that is true? Because Castro said so?

    Do you have a theory of how Cuban hovels, which regularly collapse and kill their tenants in perfectly calm weather, miraculously resist hurricane force winds?

    Are these complicated questions?

  2. Mr Observer,
    Anyone with just an ounce of neutrality would suggest that your comments and questions are getting progressively nuttier.
    Your latest posts regarding hurricanes are ludicrous.
    But at the very least, your comments do regularly cause me to chuckle at their often total absurdity.
    And in all seriousness, I do appreciate the fact that you seem to be much less abusive than in the past.

  3. Tools to manage bias: THIS IS FOR ALL RIGHT WINGERS AND REGIME CHANGE ADVOCATES….

    Examine your own biases

    Paul Taylor, former chief political correspondent at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Washington Post, says that if you are covering a political campaign or any other ongoing, long-term story in which you could find yourself gravitating toward one side or one person:
    ◾Periodically examine yourself for bias building up — understanding what your views are and why you have them is the best way to keep them under control.
    ◾Who do you personally like or dislike? Why?
    ◾How might that be coloring your judgment?
    ◾Read through some of your stories and be self-critical.

    Before and after

    One way Paul Taylor used to test this is a “before and after” tool.

    When assigned a story that involves some substantial reporting, Taylor used to write the lead at the outset, before he had done any reporting. Then he would test that lead against the one he had written for real at the end of the reporting.

    If the final lead was too similar to the one he wrote before doing the reporting, he would know he hadn’t learned very much. That’s a sign the reporter may have only pursued information that confirms his biases, rather than overcoming preconceptions to find new information.

    Ask yourself

    Another test is to ask yourself at the beginning of the reporting what biases are at play in the story. Identify them.
    ◾Do any of them help you tell the story?
    ◾Are there any you believe you should not deal with?
    ◾Is there anything you should do in presenting any of these biases that will help the reader understand them?
    ◾What bias do I have going in that I should be wary of?

    And ask one other question: What are my points of ignorance going in that I need to note?

  4. PEOPLE SHOULD TAKE NOTICE OF THIS….GOING OUTSIDE YOUR COUNTRY FOR ASSISTANCE ON INTERNAL POLITICAL MATTERS …CAN BE VERY COSTLY…

    Top court endorses decision of the Parliament’s speaker on Machado

    Although the Venezuelan Constitution dictates that citizens are entitled to due process of law in any “legal and administrative proceedings,” the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) upheld the decision of Parliament Speaker Diosdado Cabello, who expelled opposition Deputy María Corina Machado from office without allowing her any possible procedure for her defense. The TSJ Constitutional Court abstained from ordering the reincorporation of the legislator after considering that the deputy has not been stripped of any right as “she accepted an alternative representation in a foreign country without requesting authorization from the Parliament’s speaker. As the speaker did not grant any permission, Machado lost, ipso iure, her investiture as legislator.” (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140512/top-court-endorses-decision-of-the-parliaments-speaker-on-machado)

  5. Cuba could benefit from this new factory in Venezuela….toilet paper for all….

    Brazil-Venezuela joint venture is to produce toilet paper

    Venezuela’s CALSA ALIMENTOS and Brazil’s D’ANDREA plan to invest U$D 200 million to install a toilet paper factory in Western Venezuela. CALSA President Ángelo Geretti says production will be based on rice shoots and corn and rice remains. Financing for installing 6 conversion plants within 2 months will come from both companies and the Venezuelan government. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/noticias/empresa-venezolana-y-brasilera-instalaran-fabrica-.aspx#ixzz31UsVPN37)

  6. Thanks to Humberto for the following, which I just finished reading:

    http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_2_havana.html

    This is a typical and honest account of Havana from an unsuspecting tourist.

    If the journalist had stayed a while and come face-to-face with the uglier side of life in Havana, like starving hospital patients, police who pimp their wives and daughters, etc, his account would be much worse.

  7. Nick,

    Once again, you can not address a rational question.

    How do you know how many hurricane deaths there are in Cuba? This is not a nutty question.

    Since Castro lies about hunger and most everything else in Cuba, why wouldn’t he lie about hurricane deaths?

    Why do you take Castro’s word as gospel? And why do you tell other people to open their minds when you can’t open yours?

    I assume when Cubans tell me about friends and relatives who have died in hurricanes, they are not lying. I assume Castro, the dictator, is lying. This is a very safe assumption.

    For all your vast knowledge and travels through Cuba, I find it difficult to understand how you haven’t come across Cubans who have lost family in hurricanes.

    If you only frequent Cuba’s political elite, that is another story. Then I can understand how oblivious you are to Cuban reality.

  8. CUBANOW.US VALUE STATEMENT…NO PUNCHES PULLED…A DIGITAL NEWSPAPER ABOUT CUBA WHO IS ENGAGED IN SUPPORTING THE U.S. LAW OF REGIME CHANGE IN CUBA….AND BIAS ….WE DON’T NEED MORE NEWSPAPERS THAT ENGAGE IN PICKING SIDES OF IDEOLOGY….WE NEED NEWSPAPERS THAT STICK TO OBJECTIVE FACTS AND PRESENT BOTH SIDE OF THE ISSUE….A NEWSPAPER THAT ADDS MORE NOISE TO THE INTERNET….

    Our Values

    As Americans, we believe in the transformative power of a pluralist democracy, human rights and open markets to foster freedom and prosperity in Cuba. However, these values cannot be forced from abroad, they can only be born from the demands of the Cuban people themselves. The best way for us to promote these values in Cuba is by allowing Americans to engage with the Cuban people, and giving them the freedom to connect, speak out and serve as catalysts for meaningful change in Cuban society.

    “People abroad should support the nascent sector of private micro businesses known as ‘self employment,’” because “economic autonomy is political autonomy.” Yoani Sanchez, Democracy Advocate and Cuban Blogger

    To that end, we believe that the all-or-nothing approach of current US-Cuba policy is not only counterproductive, but has failed to advance its own stated goals. Our policy toward Cuba should simultaneously seek to empower the Cuban people, pressure the Cuban government over over on-going human rights violations, and advance U.S. national interests throughout our hemisphere.

    We seek to foster dialogue between stakeholders, social entrepreneurs, and community leaders, helping them envision a better future and empowering them act on what’s possible. We respect diversity of opinions and encourage different viewpoints. We believe we can disagree without being disagreeable, and that we should encourage one another to speak out on what we believe. We believe there is no better way to influence Cuba’s future than by playing a direct and constructive role in its present. Helping the Cuban people today will ultimately empower them to create their own freedom.

  9. As Socialist Worker stated, Mr Observer is becoming a bit of a ‘nutty’ Observer.
    His latest comment re hurricane deaths is indeed, entirely nutty.
    And by the way Mr Ob, I do not believe in what you call ‘Castro’s propaganda’ any more than I believe your own, somewhat lame, and very nutty propaganda.

  10. Hank,
    Once again there is a failure on your part to address the points I make.
    It is widely recognised by lovers of Cuban/Latino music that Los Van Van are a great band and that Juan Formell was one of many musical geniuses that have hailed from Cuba through the years.
    If you do not like this band or their music, or are completely ambivalent; that’s fine with me Hank.
    If you are interested in the ‘idiosyncrasies’ of Cuban life that have been touched upon over the last 46 years in their lyrics, then go have a listen.
    I thoroughly recommend that you do this.
    Regarding the ‘basic premise’ that you are the fount of all knowledge regarding the sad deaths of Mr Paya and Mr Cepero, then no, I do not agree with this premise.
    I do not claim to know what happened on that day.
    All I can do is weigh up the balance of probability, factor in the experience I have of covering many many, miles of provincial roads in Cuba and factor in the accounts of the various witnesses including Carromero (and the silence of the Swedish guy who ‘slept’ throughout this event).
    Than I make some sort of guess based on who comes across to me as telling the truth.
    And do you know what Hank? This process of deduction at this distance, still leaves me with an open mind as to what may have happened.
    But you think you are sure that you know exactly what happened don’t you Hank ?
    As I said previously, you do not claim to know what happened on any balance of probability, but on your predisposition to believe in a specific scenario that fits in with your viewpoint.
    This is what I mean by your agenda. For whatever reason it is you seem to have some kind of personal vendetta which leaves you only ever able to look at Cuba in some kind of a good vs. evil way.

    You see Cuba through very dogmatic glasses Hank.
    Cuba is where it is now, due in part, to too much dogma.
    What Cuba needs as it goes forward is less dogma, not additional dogma.

  11. Nick,

    How do you know that hurricanes in Cuba cause few deaths? How do you know a thousand Cubans didn’t die during the last big hurricane?

    Did you count the bodies?

    Or do you just believe Granma?

    It’s like the party line that there is no hunger in Cuba. Anyone who isn’t blind can go to Cuba and talk to hungry people all over Havana..

    You talk about having an open mind when it comes to doubting the version of Paya’s family.regarding his death.

    But when it comes to Castro’s propaganda, your mind seems very closed to alternatives.

  12. Omar,

    Just pointed out that everything you posted was false.

    Your response is a vague quip about apples and oranges.

  13. Nick,

    I disagree.

    If you think advocating against, and the prosecution of, the murderers of innocent citizens of Cuba like Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero is a “petty little agenda” then we have a serious difference. Paya and Cepero were murdered by the Castros. Once we agree on this basic premise, we can move on.

    Do the “idiosyncrasies of life in Cuba” to which you refer include murdering, abusing, beating and imprisoning dissidents like the Ladies in White and many others?

    To what delightful “idiosyncrasies” of life in Havana do you refer, comrade Nick?

    Educate me. Because as you point out, I’ve never been there.

  14. DEAR Omar Fundora!! CAN YOU SUPPLY A LINK TO YOUR “INFORMATION” DEAR! THAT WOULD REALLY HELP YOUR CREDIBILITY!

  15. YOUTUBE: S.O.S. VENEZUELA – THE VENEZUELAN POLICE ARRESTING PROTESTERS ON MAY 12, 2014

    GNB arresta a jóvenes durante la jornada de protestas de este 12M

  16. Humberto: I understand that Carrasco had a close encounter with a rifle up his behind… :) …the three guards are in jail pending an investigation on the allegations… the doctors in Venezuela conducted an anus investigation of Carrasco…and they concluded it look too good to have experience the trauma he claims…..:) :) :)

    La Fiscal destacó que Venezuela, como Estado garante de los Derechos Humanos a la población posee el único laboratorio en el mundo integrado por médicos forenses, criminalistas, investigadores, entre otros especialistas, que se dedican a investigar la violación de derechos fundamentales.

    Agregó que en el caso de Carrasco hay tres funcionarios de la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana que se encuentran privados de libertad, porque están presuntamente involucrados en las lesiones que recibió.

    “Estamos investigando por qué fue golpeado (…) por eso tenemos tres funcionarios de la Guardia Nacional privados de libertad, porque el Estado venezolano está interesado en que se investigue”, añadió.

  17. YOUTUBE: Venezuela Fights for Freedom – A 20-minute documentary about the uprising in Venezuela since February 12, 2014. (Published on Mar 7, 2014)

    Upon the strong repression imposed by the Venezuelan regime and the media block out that followed, civilians are left with no more than hope—a hope lead by the desire of democracy, freedom and a better future. But as young students battle to be heard, they are instead hurt, abused and in many cases killed by their country’s security forces.

    That is why I decided to do what I know best: report the truth through the eyes of a lens. It is my duty as a Venezuelan journalist to fight for the freedom of expression in my homeland, a right that has been the core of my career. Thanks to the thousands of images shared by civilians, Venezuelans around the world are more present than ever, myself included. We seek to inform the globe with the same strong images that have shocked and frustrated us since the national march that took place on February 12—the same images that show serious human right violations that have gone unpunished and overlooked by Venezuela’s regime.

    ***I would like to mention that I made a mistake towards the end. According to the Venezuelan national newspaper “el Universal,” one Venezuelan dies every 20 minutes, not 21 seconds. I apologize for the error.

    Additionally, it is important to mention that if there is anyone interested in helping me translate the video into another language, I will be happy to do so. My twitter @ArianneAlcorta, is totally available as a contact information. The same goes to any person who has suffered from any kind of violence and wishes to share his or her experience. My task is to provide a platform of information to those who need it. Thanks!

    Copyright©Arianne Alcorta. All rights reserved.

  18. THE WORLD IS GETTING WISE ABOUT U.S. HEGEMONY…BAD NEWS FOR PEOPLE THAT LIKE TO BEAT CUBA AND VENEZUELA FOR HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS…NOVEL PEACE PRICE WINNER REQUEST THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION BE MANNED BY A MORE INTERNATIONAL CROWD THEN MAINLY AMERICANS AND THEIR PROXIES

    (CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE IN VENEZUELA ANALYSIS WEBSITE)

  19. SHOOTING THE MESSENGER AS ALWAYS DEAR Nick! DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS STANDARD TACTIC FROM THE CASTRO AGENTS AND THEIR APOLOGISTS DEAR!! AND Omar Fundora YOUR CHANGING THE SUBJECT TO OTHER PLACES AND GOVERNMENTS TO DISTRACT FROM THE SUBJECT AT HAND IS ALSO STANDARD CASTRO AGENT/APOLOGISTS DEAR! BUT IF BOTH OF YOU ARE WORKING FOR THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA, NO PROBLEMO! YOUR SECRET IS SAFE WITH US! JE JE JE!

  20. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Venezuela: Protests in Venezuela: Human rights at risk, people in danger: Case: Juan Manuel Carrasco
    Juan Manuel Carrasco, aged 21, was detained along with two friends in the night of 13 February 2014 by the National Guard in Valencia, Carabobo State nearby a protest. Juan Manuel Carrasco was sexually assaulted, threatened with death and repeatedly beaten while in detention. – May 12, 2014

    “They put us in a fetal position, on our knees and hit us, they just hit us. A guard went out and said that God would not save us even if we prayed and that this was our last day. They pulled my underpants down and stuck something up my behind. And they continued to hit us, hitting us until they were tired out”.
    Juan Manuel Carrasco, aged 21, was detained along with two friends in the night of 13 February 2014 by the National Guard in Valencia,Carabobo State nearby a protest. Juan Manuel Carrasco was sexually assaulted, threatened with death and repeatedly beaten while in detention.
    Juan Manuel Carrasco was detained for three days along with ten others at the National Guard’s Urban Security Detachment (Destacamento de Seguridad Urbana) in Valencia, where he was beaten and ill-treated. Members of the National Guard raped Juan Manuel with an object, punched, kicked and beat him with guns and helmets, intimidated him with dogs and threatened him with death. Juan Manuel Carrasco described to Amnesty International how some guards even tried to intervene on his behalf when they saw the beating he was taking. “One of the guards said ‘don’t hit the lad with the yellow shirt (which was me) anymore or you’ll kill him”. They kicked me here, and I spat out a mouthful of blood. They kept hitting us”.
    During his detention, he was visited by Attorney General’s Office staff. He did not tell them anything for fear of reprisals, as the visit took place in the presence of members of the National Guard. The Attorney General told Amnesty International that her office was investigating the complaint of ill-treatment and torture, including rape.
    Since the beginning of February 2014, Venezuela has been shaken by mass protests for and against the government in various parts of the country. At least 41 people have died and more than 650 people have been injured. The victims include demonstrators who have taken to the streets to show their discontent with the government, citizens who support the government and people not involved in the protests, as well as security forces’ personnel. Over 2,000 people face charges that could lead to years in prison for their alleged involvement in violent acts during the protest. This is the most recent example of the growing polarization that has gripped the country for more than a decade.
    In the context of these protests, Amnesty International has received dozens of complaints about torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees by members of the security forces, at the time of detention, during transfer and at detention centres. The aim of the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees appears to have been to punish them for their participation, or alleged participation in the protests.
    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT!
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR53/012/2014/en

  21. Humberto: These guys that got beat up in Venezuela where they selling flowers on the sidewalk with Peace signs …..and claiming they love everybody…or where they engaged in some kind of criminal activity…..this is what we really like to know…who are these guys….what were they doing…..there is always two sides to the story…..police all over the World do the same when dealing with criminal elements …in Mexico they disappear, same in Guatemala….countries that are bastions of Freedom in Latin America….read Human Rights report for Central America…this kind of conduct is wide spread in the Region…what I am trying to say…the Chavistas are not monopolizing on this type of conduct and behavior in the Continent…it is always being a very fluid situation in Latin America when people have a run with the law….

  22. I would not be one to describe Havana as any kind of ‘utopia’.
    However I do have to point out that according to wiki, Mr Totten (the author of the piece in HUMBY’s latest bit of guileless propagandising) describes himself as “weird combination of liberal, libertarian, and neocon.”
    When someone describes himself thus, it would come as a surprise if he did not smear Havana as a dystopia.
    His somewhat sicko remark that ‘….the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami’ shows a deep lack of respect.
    Many very vulnerable people at the bottom of New Orleans social scale lost their lives due to Katrina and the accompanying failure of Federal and Local Governments to protect the people they had a statutory obligation to protect.
    In Cuba, for all it’s faults and economic problems, loss of life due to hurricanes (which frequently hit the island) is very rare.

    The piece from Totten,
    Is best forgotten….

  23. OMG!! Omar Fundora COMMENTS WERE “BLOCKED” AGAIN! THAT MEANS THAT ONLY 999 OUT OF 1000 POSTS WILL SEE THE LIGHT IN THIS COMMENT SECTION!

    THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS THINK THAT THEIR THUGGERY AGAINST THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE WONT BE KNOWN OUTSIDE OF VENEZUELA! I GOT NEWS FOR THEM! AND SO DO MANY OTHERS!

    THE ATLANTIC: Postcards From Venezuela “The guardsmen beat them with their fists and the butts of their rifles, taking away their personal belongings before setting fire to the car.” – by Moisés Naím

    First postcard: “On March 5, when the restaurant where he worked on the outskirts of Caracas closed due to nearby protests, Moisés Guánchez, 19, left to go home. But he found himself trapped in an enclosed parking lot near the restaurant with around 40 other people, as members of the National Guard fired teargas canisters and rubber bullets in their direction. When Guánchez attempted to flee the lot, a guardsman blocked his way and shot toward his head with rubber bullets. The shot hit Guánchez’s arm, which he had raised to protect his face, and he was knocked to the ground. Though Guánchez offered no resistance, two guardsmen picked him up and took turns punching him, until a third approached and shot him point blank with rubber bullets in his groin. He would need three blood transfusions and operations on his arm, leg, and one of his testicles.”

    Second postcard: “José Romero, 17, was stopped on March 18 by national guardsmen when he was coming out of a metro station in downtown Caracas. A guardsman asked to see his ID and, when Romero presented it, slapped him across the face. Romero was detained without explanation and taken to a non-descript building, where he was held incommunicado, threatened with death, beaten, and burned.”

    Fourth: “On February 13, Juan Manuel Carrasco, 21, and two friends were running away from a violent demonstration in Valencia. The three young men reached a car belonging to one of them and, as they got into it, they saw guardsmen drive up on approximately 15 motorcycles. They were forced to get out of the car, and the guardsmen beat them with their fists and the butts of their rifles, taking away their personal belongings before setting fire to the car.

    The guardsmen took the detainees to a nearby park, where they were forced to lie down on the ground with nine others, while the guardsmen continued to kick and beat them, and stomp on their heads with their boots. One of the guardsmen placed a rifle on Carrasco’s neck and moved it slowly down his back, pulling down his underwear and penetrating his rectum once, causing a hemorrhage. Three of the other detainees were told to lie down facing upwards, and a guardsman ran over their legs three times with a motorcycle.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/05/haunting-postcards-from-venezuela/370780/

  24. Neutral observer: you obviously did not read what I wrote to you …..you can’t make an argument like you are making by comparing apples to oranges….it does not work no matter how much you try…

  25. To Nutty Observer:
    I think you should ask Lynne Stewart about the niceties she received after being convicted of material support to terrorism because she passed on a clients opinion concerning Egyptian Politics. While we are at it lets compare the punishment of anti Cuban terrorists like Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada, and Santiago Alvarez all of Miami who actually engaged in violent terrorism or had large personal armories with C4 and Automatic weapons with the sentences handed down to people like Ahmed Sattar.

  26. neutral observer: ( I was blocked from posting my response to you …here is where you can find it…)

    GABO RELOADED / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (English)

  27. THE CASTROFASCISTS SOLD TO THE WORLD THE CUBAN REVOLUTION AS A TYPE OF UTOPIA! WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IS THAT THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY MAFIA GOT A HOLD OF THE GOVERNMENT AND SINCE THEN THEY HAVE NOT LET GO! THIS IS CALLED A DICTATORSHIP WHEN IS ON THE RIGHT OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM, AND IS THE SAME ON THE LEFT!

    CITY JOURNAL: The Last Communist City – A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see – by Michael J. Totten

    I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, as in Elysium, a small group of economic and political elites live in a rarefied world high above the impoverished masses. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force.

    Many tourists return home convinced that the Cuban model succeeds where the Soviet model failed. But that’s because they never left Cuba’s Elysium.

    I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

    Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

    Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_2_havana.html

  28. Pingback: Reports from Cuba: Repression by episodes | Babalú Blog

  29. Omar,

    Besides my previous point, what you posted is completely false.

    The USA is full of foreign-funded lobbies, representing interests from China to Saudi Arabia and Cuba.

    US universities are full of professors who receive foreign funding, including from governments at war with the USA, like Iran.

    Reporters and professors, including supporters of terrorism against the USA, openly work in the USA.

    Ex-president Jimmy Carter openly takes money from middle eastern supporters of terrorism.

    Castro has relatives who teach in US universities, where they preach US regime change.

    They all have access to the US media.

    Yet you justify silencing the Cuban people, even those who are pacifists and just want to criticize Castro without fear.

  30. Omar,

    How does Yoani Sanchez threaten national security?

    What you mean is she threatens the security of Castro.

    A democracy has regime change built in. It’s known as free speech and elections.

    Only dictators think regime change is a bad thing.

  31. Neutral observer: You are not comparing apples to apples….the “American Terrorists” that are allowed to speak are not backed by an Empire or are mercenaries for a foreign power that has written into the law of the land that they want regime change in the U.S….this is why they let them talk, they don’t represent a serious threat to national security. In Cuba they do…..

  32. Omar,

    The US media all give air time to anti-American terrorists.

    I’ve seen communists, socialists, anarchists and terrorists interviewed on every US network, including Fox News.

    The Cuban media haven’t given one peaceful dissident a minute of air time in over 55 years.

    Not even a liberal like Yoani Sanchez who is against the embargo.

    Double standard.

    Behind all the double talk, all Castro supporters want a dictatorship for Cuba.

  33. CUBA’s DIGITAL WARFARE

    A digital cold war is being played out against a backdrop of demonizing the Internet and social networks, which are accused of having a destabilising influence and being orchestrated by the American enemy. Will the arrival of the Venezuelan fiber-optic cable call into question the “rationing” of the Internet, which remains out of reach for the majority of the population? The creation of a tightly controlled Cuban Web 2.0 tends to indicate that the regime has no intention of making any concessions with regard to communications.

    Pressures and defamation campaigns against critical bloggers

    Pro-government bloggers are waging a non-stop battle on the Internet against “alternative” bloggers critical of the authorities. The regime is preventing most of its citizens from gaining access to the Internet and is occupying the field in order to leave no cyberspace for dissidents (see the Cuba chapter in the 2011 “Enemies of the Internet” report). However, although less than 2% of Cubans have access to the World Wide Web, a growing number of them have found creative ways to connect with the Internet and visit the social networks.

    In March 2011, an official documentary programme named the “Las Razones de Cuba” (“Cuba’s Reasons”) (http://razonesdecuba.cubadebate.cu/) TV series was broadcast which accused critical bloggers, labelled as “cybermercenaries,” of being manipulated by the United States, had been countered by the publication, on Viméo, of a dissident video entitled “Citizens’ Reasons”, in which blogger Yoani Sanchez explained that the “demonization of the Internet” was in full throttle because the government was “frazzled” and fearful that the Internet might play a role similar to that of the Arab Spring. The dissident later stated in an interview granted on 2 January to the Peruvian daily El Comercio that she was very “sceptical” about the likelihood of a Cuban protest movement of the sort observed in Tunisia or Egypt, in view of how “highly fragmented” Cuban society is and the “minimal” mobilisation capacity of its social networks.

    Yoani Sanchez founded a school of bloggers to break the tight grip on information imposed by official news sources. Other bloggers such as Claudia Cadelo, Laritza Diversent and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo have also taken the initiative to defend “digital freedoms” and the Cubans’ right to be informed. The coverage of dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia’s death by “alternative” bloggers offended a government already displeased that its official version was being challenged.

    The authorities’ strategy about social networks

    In November 2011, the whole world witnessed what was probably the first direct confrontation between a member of the Cuban leader’s family – in this case Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter – and dissident Yoani Sánchez. In a baptism by fire on Twitter, Mariela Castro lost her composure while responding to the arguments of her critics, calling them parásitos despreciables [despicable parasites]. During an interview for BBC, Yoani Sanchez later praised the social networks’ role as a dialogue facilitator: “On Twitter, no one gives lessons to anyone else. Presidents don’t order citizens around and neither do major personalities bully ordinary people. They all learn from each other.” She was once again prevented from leaving the country in February 2012.

    On 1 December 2011, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, urged social networks to develop a new strategy which would allow them to rid themselves of the “dictatorship of the sector’s large U.S. groups” (http://www.elespectador.com/tecnolo…). A few days later, the government accused Twitter of having spread rumours about Fidel Castro’s death.

    Shortly afterwards, the regime launched RedSocial, a Cuban version of Facebook accessible only via the Cuban Intranet, Red Cubana. Conceived as “a virtual meeting place for Cuban academics,” it is nonetheless a surveillance tool. In order to register, the user must provide his or her e-mail’s password. This “Made in Cuba” social network boasted several thousand registered users by the end of 2011.

    The undersea Cable from Venezuela, a new hope?

    Much more is at stake now with the arrival of the undersea Alba fiber-optic cable which will link Cuba and Venezuela, multiplying by 3,000 the island’s capacity to connect to the rest of the world. Initially scheduled for the summer of 2011, its implementation was postponed without further explanation. In early 2011, the regime announced that this Web access would be reserved for “social use” by institutions, universities and certain professions such as doctors and journalists. It would also make it possible to continue setting up collective access centres. Contrary to expectations, in late January 2012, the Cuban Communist Party Congress carefully set aside the issue of Internet development.

    Although no one is banking on the fact that certain cable fibres will be diverted towards the Internet access black market, others believe that the cable will not create new opportunities for Cubans who wish to connect to the World Wide Web. Since the latter is rationed, as is the rest of Cuba, the cable could only enhance connection quality and bandwith speed for those who already have access. The regime remains ready to crush any attempt to bypass censorship. In November 2011, Cuba accused the United States of bolstering parallel Internet connections on the island by unlawfully importing equipment and making satellite connections available. An American citizen accused of involvement in these clandestine activities was arrested in December 2009.

  34. Neutral observer:

    ex-Cuban terrorists acted on behalf of a foreign country against their native land. They are traitors and mercenaries under the law…why in God’s name would you want them to have a speaking tour to the young in Cuba???? …only to foment counter revolutionary activities and act as proxy for a foreign country who has written in the law of the land that only regime change will normalize relations between the United States and Cuba….

    Yoani will speak to Cubans with her digital media newspaper. If it is approved for publication in Cuba.

  35. Yoani’s metaphor about the spider and its pray can only turn into another Black Spring if the dissidence in Cuba continues to use the digital media as a tool for counter revolution against the State. Four individuals were recently arrested for planning acts of terrorism in Cuba. There are different factions of Cubans in exile and this four are part of the “extremist” crowd that want change by terrorism. In order for the dissidents in Cuba to distant themselves from groups like the one represented by this four guys, they need to use the digital media as the creators intended it to be used: Good journalism, un-bias reporting, stick to the facts, if you are offering an opinion, use constructive criticism within the law. It is bad strategy for dissidents to use the media to foment discontent in the country. Let people make their own decision, network, network, network. In order for a Black Spring to occur again, it will be because nothing was learned about how to prevent one from happening again last time it did occur.

  36. Re: terrorists.

    If Nelson Mandela can go from terrorist to advocate of peaceful change, why not an ex-Miami terrorist?

    Why not welcome some of these ex-terrorists who now advocate peaceful change to Cuba?

    Or how about just letting some peaceful dissident, like Yoani Sanchez, who has no history of violence, have a few minutes of air time?

    How about a speaking tour of Cuban colleges and a friendly debate on Mesa Redonda?

    After all, the major US media lets all sorts of communists and terrorists speak to the American people.

    Why can’t the Cuban media let a pacifist speak to the Cuban people?

    Any intelligent answers?

  37. To clear up the latest flurry of propaganda.

    There is no blockade of Cuba.

    There has never been a blockade of Cuba.

    People who use the term blockade are liars. Perhaps just unthinking liars who repeat Castro’s propaganda, but liars nonetheless.

    There is a limited trade embargo between the US and Cuba. Most of the embargo restricting trade is Cuban policy, not US policy.

    For example, Castro nixed communications deals with US companies. Over the last year, Castro prevented deals between Cuban consular services and banks in the USA, preferring to shut down the consular services as a propaganda campaign.

    The embargo has no negative effect on the Cuban economy. This is the opinion of every Cuban I have talked to.

    Many Cubans want the US to impose a real trade embargo.

    But it won’t happen, business comes first and Obama has loosened a lot of restrictions in hope of peaceful change and more business with Cuba.

  38. Hank,
    I put up a homage to one of the greats of Cuban music who has sadly passed away.
    All you can do is find fault with this.
    You’ve never been there.
    You know very little about the place.
    All you have is your dogma and your petty little agenda and your tacit support for U.S. harboured terrorists.

  39. Humberto should make up his mind. Either you want the blockade or you don’t. The UN considers blockade an act of war. Outside of the US and a few puppet states no other country in the world will go on record as supporting the blockade of Cuba. If you want the blockade to continue then that is an admission that you want US Imperialism to punish the Cuban People as a whole. Do any of your so called dissident friends within Cuba want the blockade? Do you think you’d get very far arguing for the blockade within Cuba? A Cuban on this side of the Florida straits can answer either yes or no with few repercussions now that the Miami terrorists are under restraint by the US government. You can’t go around one day saying the blockade is meaningless and then next day saying that the banking problems are a Castro plot to get the blockade lifted. We call that wanting to have your cake and eat it too. The real truth is that the blockade affects the Cuban People as a whole and that is why Uncle Sam says yes to the blockade despite all the hogwash about human rights.

  40. THE US GOVERNMENT HAD A SOLUTION TO THE BANKING PROBLEM THAT THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA HAD BUT THEY DID NOT WANT TO ACT ON IT! THEIR THREAT TO NOT PROCESS PASSPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO CUBA FROM THE USA IS AN ATTEMPT TO PUT PRESSURE FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO REMOVE THE CUBAN “EMBARGO”! DONT THINK IT’S WORKING!

    HAVANA TIMES: Cuba to Renew Passports of Citizens Living in the USA
    The Cuban Interests Section in Washington today announced that it will renew expired passports of Cubans residing in the United States who plan to travel in the coming months to the island, reported dpa news.

    The good news from the island’s diplomatic mission comes despite having yet to find a solution to the suspension of consular services because of not having a bank that will handle its accounts.

    The Cuban Interests Section issued a statement calling the measure “temporary” that will “create conditions in our Consular Office to renew expired passports or those coming due from those citizens residing in the United States who are booked to travel to Cuba in the period
    May 15 to August 31, 2014.”

    The procedure must be done through authorized travel agents who have “working relations” with the Consular Office at its headquarters in Washington. Although the measure is considered temporary, until a more permanent solution is found, the statement said the deadline “could be extended if the alternative solution implementation takes more time than expected.”

    In February, Cuba announced the immediate and indefinite suspension of consular services in the United States do to the “impossibility” of finding a new bank to carry the accounts of its diplomatic mission after the previous one suspended service.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=103589

  41. Humberto,

    Thank you very much for posting the videos of the late Oswaldo Paya. What a brave, honest man.

    As you and I both know, Oswaldo Paya is dead. He didn’t used to be dead, but he is now. He was run off the road in Cuba by Cuban State Security Agents. There was no subsequent police report and no autopsy documenting how he died.

    This should not be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention when you consider the amount of blood the Castros have on their hands. That’s what the Castros have done, and continue to do, to their own citizens.

    I watched the videos you posted, then scrolled down and read Nick’s latest nonsense with his reference to the “idiosyncrasies of life in Cuba (particularly Havana).”

    “Idiosyncrasies of life in Havana” isn’t how I would describe it. I guess Nick likes going to a place where citizens are murdered, imprisoned, and beaten because they don’t like their 50+ year-old dictatorial regime. Just so long as none of that unpleasantness happens to him, Nick is fine with it.

    “Idiosyncratic” is not the right word. Criminal is a better word. Felonious also works.

  42. Black Spring 2003. Alvarez arrested in the US with a weapons cache in 2005. Serves time in a federal prison for having a large cache in various apartments. His real crime as far as the US gov’t is concerned is not getting permission to engage in terrorism. We are now suppose to believe that the Miami terrorists are now peaceful advocates of change.

  43. YOUTUBE: Dissident: Oswaldo Paya and the Varela Project pt. 1 – Shot in Havana in August 2002 and profiles Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and the Varela Project. Many of the people featured in this film were arrested and sentenced to long prison sentences in March of 2003 and remain imprisoned under brutal conditions.

  44. YOUTUBE DOCUMENTARY: “La Primavera de Cuba” The Cuban Black Spring- part #2 (English sub-titles)

  45. Filmmakers Carlos González and Pablo Rodríguez made this important 2003 Czech documentary with interviews with dissidents prior to the March 18 crackdown knows as The Black Spring and with their relatives after their arrests and summary trials. Takes a look at the Varela Project as well.

    YOUTUBE DOCUMENTARY: “La Primavera Negra de Cuba” The Cuban Black Spring- part #1 (English sub-titles)

  46. Yoani’s previous post concerned the theme of May Day and the traditional parades.
    On May 1st this year there was other news from Havana.

    I expected that this post from Yoani would mention the sad passing on May 1st of the incomparable Juan Formell.

    Leader, bassist, backing vocalist and songwriter of Los Van Van which formed in 1969 and went on to become Cuba’s biggest dance band.
    Los Van Van of many awards worldwide including Grammys awards.
    Their music was so often the backdrop to daily life in Havana and is still heard a lot on the streets despite this current era of near ubiquitous reggaeton.
    As well as being musically original in bringing the influence of pop and disco to traditional Cuban Son rhythms, this band has also provided a lyrical commentary chronicling some of the, problems, polemics and idiosyncrasies of life in Cuba (particularly Havana).
    I have seen Juan Formell’s band several times including a couple of times live on The Malecon.
    I once had the privilege of meeting Mr Formell by chance at a baseball game in Havana’s Estadio Latino. I had the opportunity to thank him for all the tunes and for the sometimes cheeky lyrics about Cuban life.
    He came across as a true gentleman.
    It is poignant thinking of this brief meeting now that he has passed, but I am glad I had the privilege of being able to thank him.

    In this clip from a fairly recent show at Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre, Juan Formell can be seen in the check shirt and orange trousers.
    It’s good to see him dancing towards the end of the tune.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_cafOmiRIs

    RIP El Gran Formell.

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