Useless Voting

citacionI watch my fellow citizens go to the bodega like automatons, meekly vegetate at work and cast hopeless ballots at the polls. Their lives pass by while they shop for ever shrinking bread rations, collect their symbolic wages which don’t stretch far enough for even a bad life, and raise their hands at the meetings to nominate candidates. None of those chosen in the current electoral process will manage to solve the daily problems that weigh upon life in Cuba. Of the candidates my fellow citizens know almost nothing, barely recognizing their photos or their biographies, which are stuffed with “accomplishments” and the almost universal statement that they are “of humble origin.” Yet not a single word is devoted to their programs or intentions once they assume their new post.

Curiously almost everyone who comes to be a district delegate is a militant of the Cuban Communist Party and puts their party discipline ahead of their obligations to the voters. They will not represent us against the government, nor be our voice projected to the institutions, but rather will serve as heralds for the bad news coming down from above, transmission channels for regulations and directives decided by a few. In the more than thirty years of their existence, these representatives of the People’s Power have not managed to efficiently collect the garbage, coax quality products from the bakeries, or ensure that the sewers are not everywhere overflowing. Nor do they embody the heterogeneity of opinions in our society. They have come to their positions more through proven loyalty than by their ability to manage.

Tonight is the meeting to nominate candidates for the area of concrete blocks where I live. The citation arrived a couple of days ago, meanwhile on TV they are calling for us to choose the best and most capable. I have not one iota of faith, however, in a mechanism that has proven itself unworkable and discriminatory. I would like to raise my hand for the neighbor of strong words and concrete projects who lives across from me, but there are orders to forestall any nomination of a “dissident,” including those who may only seem inclined toward change. It is highly likely that the nomination will go to the same delegate who has, for more than ten years, promised us solutions, knowing full well it is not in his hands to deliver them. He is the comfortable candidate of these useless elections, while we are mere figurines who must raise our hands or mark our ballots.


92 thoughts on “Useless Voting

  1. losada, your choice of “identity” is “different”
    You forgot a right:
    of free expression.
    Happiness is a not a right, is a hope … however the freedom to seek happiness, that IS the right.

  2. Yoani:

    It is true that Cuba has suffered the same economic hardships that all “Third World” countries have in a world that is dominated by big business, corruption, capitalism and economic imperialism. The “bread lines” that you complain about are the same shortages that pulled on the hearts of Simon Bolivar, Marx, Fidel, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, and all the people who fight against the injustice of a world where there is enough food and shelter for everyone but right now, this very moment, in the heart of the empire, there are people without homes, who are feeling the pangs of hunger.

    So, let me ask you. Instead of sitting on your computer chair and complaining and complaining and complaining even more, why don’t you HELP the Cuban Revolution? If you care so much for your fellow Cuban people, why don’t you spend your life working to help Cuba?

    Do you think that if the Communist Party leave, the US Government is going to lavish you with gifts? Take a look around you! Look at Haiti! Look at Jamaica! Look at the Bahamas! Look at what capitalism has done for the people of those islands of the Caribe!

    No, the multinational corporate wolves want Cuba because it knows that you will provide a healthy stock of new slave labor. If you don’t see this, then you don’t understand history.

    Cuba does need the young people of its country to rise up and help — but not by siding with Cuban-American terrorists who have shown their love for the Cuban people by sabotaging food production, pouring cement into bottles of milk headed for Cuban schools, strafing the island with machine gun fire, and so on.

    Every day I spend in the economically-destroyed United States, where so many people I know wonder if their children will even have a future, as the gunshots ring out on a nightly basis because the gangs of kids selling drugs are fighting for ONE MORE STREET CORNER to own, I wonder what will happen to the next generation.

    But you live in a region where the dignity of humanity is the theme of a political revolution that has raged on for many generations, and the most you can think of to do is complain on a weblog. Very discouraging for someone like me, who looks to Latin America as leaders of the future — perhaps the ONLY leaders of the future on the world who still care for human dignity, the right to food, the right to shelter, the right to health care, the right to happiness and a full life.

  3. 83
    Marzo 8th, 2010 at 06:18

    Zapata was assassinated by cutting the supply of drinking water to him the last 18 days of his hunger strike and by frequently and barbaric beating given to him by the guards of the prison while striking. But putting aside these facts and other facts that demonstrates that about 550 political prisoners has been assassinated in same way while hunger striking in the last 50 years we can find another macabre facts……. Cuba has one of the most higher rates of suicide in prisons in the world……. not enough with this castrofascism broke another macabre record…… Cuba has one the most higher suicide rates of the world, that without accounting the rafters…… rafting is the most common suicide way for Cubans.
    Even all wrote can be put aside because Zapata, Boitel and hundred more that died in hunger strike in castrofascism jails announced clearly and loudly they were not committing suicide but dying in demand of freedom or human life condition or fear judicial procedure …… now Fariñas is clearly stating that his is hunger striking in demand of freedom for 11 castrofascism’s political prisoners that are being assassinated by denying to them medical attention despite theirs deteriorated health conditions.

  4. in 1953 someone stating his case in court said among other things:
    “Still there is one argument more powerfull than all others, We are Cubans & to beCuban implies a duty: not to fulfill that duty is a crime, is treason. Wew are proud of the history of our country; we learned in school & have grown up hearing of freedom, justice & human rights. We were taught to venerate the glorious example of our heroes & martyrs. Cespedes, Agramonte, Maceo, Gomez & Marti were the first names engraved in our minds. We were taught that the Titan oce said that liberty is not begged for but won with the blade of a machete. We were taught that for the guidance of Cuba’s free citizens, the Apostole wrote in his book The Golden Age: “THE MAN THAT ABIDES BY UNJUST LAWS & PERMITS ANY MAN TO TRAMPLE & MISTREAT THE COUNTRY IN WHICH HE WAS BORN IS NOT AN HONORABLE MAN … in the world there must be a certain degree of honor just as there must be a certain amount of light. When there are many men without honor, there are always others who bear in themselves th honor of many men. These are the men w/great force against those who steal the people’s freedom, that is to say, against those who steal honor itself. In those men thousands more are contained, an entire people is contained, human dignity is contained …
    We were taught that the 10th of october & the 24th of February are glorious anniversaries of national rejoicing because they mark days on which Cubams rebelled against the yoke of infamous tirany. We were taught to cherish & defend the beloved flag of the lone star & to sing every afternoon the verses of our National Anthem: “To live in chains is to live in disgrace and in oprobrium” & “to die for one’s homeland is to live forever!” All this we learned & will never forget, even though TODAY IN OUR LAND THERE IS MURDER & PRISON FOR THE MEN WHO PRACTICE THE IDEAS TAUGHT TO THEM SINCE THE CRADLE. WE WERE BORN IN A FREE COUNTRY THAT OUR PARENTS BEQUEATHED TO US, & THE ISLAND WILL FIRTS SINK INTO THE SEA BEFORE WE CONSENT TO BE SLAVES OF ANYONE”.
    So, history will absolve him?
    A demagoge who uses Marti’s name to justify himself?
    A hypocrite who quotes (in the same speech) the constitution to defend himself while planning to do away with it once in power?
    The sanctity & dignity of his Cuba & he the protector of it?
    He the not elected … ?
    Read the whole speech non cuban friends … read & judge by the words …

  5. whys should we worry, “vamos bien” … right?
    in the ‘freedom city’s military camp of columbia, January 9th 1959 … with a pidgeon perched (tied?) on his left shoulder fidel said: “and I want to say to the people & to the cuban mothers, that I will solve all the problems without spilling a drop of blood.
    I say the the mothers, that because of us, you will never have to cry …”
    So no worries …. “vamos bien”

  6. anonimo:
    perhaps I am missing your point, is your interest to debate why Zapata chose suicide?
    Maybe you should define suicide, state the different cases & the many different reasons for it.
    Make your case, why did Zapata choose to commit suicide?

  7. @#85
    I meant to end the sentence ” … to participate in the democratic process …”

  8. anonimo:
    let me put it another way:
    since voting is a duty (to me)I choose FREELY to exercise my right & resposibility in order to participate in the democratic.
    It is my choice.
    Here as well, even when stating different opinions, you ARE chosing to vote & since you want to participate in this forum, you are hopefully exercising your resposibility as well.

  9. “vote is a duty”
    To vote is a personal choice …
    You are missing the point anonimo.
    I am sure there will be a torrent of “points” from you & others …

  10. “Vote the duty of a free citizen in a free society in which democracy rules.”

    Is that why only an average 54% of eligible voters in the USA hav ebothered to do so over the past approx. 30 years?
    You people don’t value the voice much do you??

    “By comparison, in France between January 1, 2010 and February24, 2010, there were 22 suicides in prison, including a 16-year-old boy. In 2009 there were 122 suicides in French prisons and 115 in 2008. State Secretary of Justice Jean-Marie Bockel declared his impotence in these situations: “When someone decides to commit suicide and is determined to do, whether they are free or in prison, [. . .] there is nothing you can do about it.” The families of those victims were not entitled to the same media treatment as Zapata, nor even an official public statement from the French government.10

    We must put the Zapata’s case into perspective by looking at two much more serious situations deliberately ignored by the corporate media that clearly illustrate the politicization and manipulation of this ordinary incident that would pass unnoticed in most countries, except Cuba”

  11. Vote the duty of a free citizen in a free society in which democracy rules.
    Vote the first tool of a dictatorship in attempting to legitimize their action.
    Vote the voice of the people anywhere … sometimes listened to sometimes not, but it carries the weight & the voice of an opinion.
    The voice of the people cannot be silenced forever …
    Lies don’t live forever …
    Yes … a bunch of cliches … but deep down inside we all know how useless it is to learn the value of vote in school & then see it trampled; how frustrating it is to see it soiled; how much anger it causes when it means nothing but an obligation.
    A peacefull solution is always wished … is it possible?
    I agree w/somebody’s thinking about the end will start when fidel dies.
    There will be no more “caudillo”.
    The reality is the existence of all this “young wolfs” nipping at raul & his old guard hind quarters.
    Change will come (is inevitable) thru the military … freedom … now that’s something else …

  12. While I “kinda” agree about just ignoring our resident/s instigator/s in his/hers many incarnations … I will not agree in calling him/her cuban.
    If under the statements he/she made before in this blogg are ture: this instigator was in the employment of the USINT in 1994 … he was at that point subject under the rules of employment of the US goverment.
    As such if he/she was/is any other than what he/she represented and/or represents … the credibility of such individual is at best suspected and perhaps has violated the trust of the US goverment.
    And that “ilk” smells …

  13. Hank,


    I have “complete” health coverage that covers me wherever I am in the world. I can bet you anything that should I arrive in Havana I won’t find it on the “approved” list and I’ll be charged this fee. Which I expect is going to be quite stiff. One more way to extract money from others to pay for the complete failure of the socialist state.

    CANADA’S THE EPOCH TIMES:The Cuban People Need Canada’s Support

    “The death last month of Orlando Zapata, Cuban prisoner of conscience, reveals once again the intrinsic evil of the Castro dictatorship.

    Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have died during the five decades of communist rule in Cuba. Several generations of Cubans have never enjoyed the most basic rights or freedoms. Nevertheless, the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raúl, have not been able to silence the voices of those who, like Zapata, prefer physical death to the spiritual death they feel under communism.

    What Cubans want is freedom. What Cubans desire is unequivocal support from the rest of the world in getting that freedom. What good are condolences and demands for change from Canada’s head of foreign affairs for the Cuban people? Actually, such actions are negated by Canada’s continued trade, investment, tourism, and political ties, which actually have supported the Castro regime. It is difficult to reconcile the principled stand Canada has against the military junta in Burma—or its opposition to the American policy of embargo—with the acceptance given the Castro brothers.

    A false nationalism expressed in an anti-American foreign policy undermined the good character of Canada when it decided to accept the Cuban revolution in the first place. Today, 51 years later, Cuba’s civil society and members of the opposition movement find it hard to see Canada as a friend.

    It’s time for our government and the politicians who represent to us to ally themselves with the people of Cuba and to distance themselves from the oppressive Castro dictatorship. What’s the point in having so many “experts” in Latin American studies and publicly funded institutions focused on hemispheric affairs, when our parliamentarians are not able to publicly mention the names—let alone express solidarity—of so many Cuban prisoners of conscience?

    Let’s look at the Canada-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group. Is it possible that those MPs do not understand that they are calling themselves “friends” of a Cuba that cannot choose its representatives? Their actions don’t make them friends, but enemies of Cuba. It is self-deception to believe that a bunch of criminals who usurped power 51 years ago could ever represent the 11 million Cubans stranded in Cuba or the approximate one million who live in exile.

    The day will come, in a free Cuba, when people will learn about the dignity of the Czechs and the solidarity of the Poles at a time when support for the Cuban people was needed the most. In an event without precedent in recent parliamentary history, 90 Polish legislators put their differences aside to adopt, symbolically, 90 Cuban political prisoners. They are indeed true friends of Cuba and their gesture will not be forgotten.

    Over a century ago, Cuban national hero José Martí, like Orlando Zapata, gave his life for Cuba’s freedom at the age of 42. He said, “There are men who live contented though they live without decorum. Others suffer as if in agony when they see around them people living without decorum. There must be a certain amount of decorum in the world, just as there must be a certain amount of light.

    “When there are many men without decorum, there are always others who themselves possess the decorum of many men. These are the ones who rebel with terrible strength against those who rob nations of their liberty, which is to rob men of their decorum. Embodied in those men are thousands of men, a whole people, human dignity.”

    Our eternal gratitude goes today to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Cuba.

    Nelson Taylor Sol is Ottawa Representative Director for the Cuban Canadian Foundation (www.cuban

  15. 64
    Marzo 7th, 2010 at 18:01

    On March 4, 2010 President Obama of the USA signed a Travel Promotion Act. A part of that program will charge tourists a $10 fee for entry into the USA. That would amount to a $50 fee for a family of five individuals. Cuba will charge a fee for “insurance.” Although two wrongs do not make a right, how much difference is there between the two fees? It is said that nearly all countries charge a fee, but most are hidden in airline ticket costs and various other ruses. Cuba’s fee is probably no worse than that of other countries.

    When comparing others countries with Cuba is necessary to present the whole facts of both sides. In the case of Cuba if the person that makes the comparison has not lived in Cuba or suffered the different ways castrofascism abuses of it totalitarian control then comparison will be incomplete….. If the person that makes the comparison is a regimen thug like juan then there is no intentions of make a fair comparison. To explain better I going to relate a experience I had today:
    Today, while driving home I was listening a radio program made for Dominicans in Miami. One of the themes of the program was this “insurance” tax Cubans in exile will have to pay now on….. yes, Cubans in exile almost exclusively. I will explain later. The speakers in this radio program exposed the same reasons to justify this tax that Simba exposes in his comment. But the question is…… Dominicans, for example, has not to ask and much less to pay for visa to get in theirs own country but only a fee, Cubans has to pay the fee and they also has to ask and pay several hundred dollars for visa when they decides to travel to their country. Dominicans has to renew theirs passports maybe after 10 years of issued and they pays the renewal with less than 50 Dominican pesos, Cubans has to renew theirs passport every 2 years and the cost is several hundred dollars. Dominicans costs of fly to their country is less than 100 dollars, Cubans has to pay between 300 and 600 dollars for they fly tickets. Dominicans can stay as long as they please in their countries and don’t loses theirs properties and belongings when they emigrates out the country, Cuban’s properties and belongings are confiscated when they leave Cuba and Cubans can’t stay in Cuba as long as they please because they lose the right of residence when they becomes emigrates. So, you can not compare Cubans situation with others nationalities…. you can not compare Cuba with other countries without be unfair.
    Nowadays most tourist traveling to Cuba are Europeans and Canadians, both groups has guaranteed a travel insurance included in theirs housing insurance, this housing insurance is universal and is discounted of theirs taxes as part of the national insurance system…. a system that is the envy of the world and we have to fight for having it implemented here in the States….. so, the welfare system covers all Europeans and Canadians when traveling…. The receptors countries shares those insurance policies with the origin country by the deals reached long time ago by Europeans and Canadians tour-operators whit local tourist companies and local insurance co. Cuba of course is part of those deals….. what is happening now is castrofascism is in “need” of more money and each time castrofascism is in need turns back to the Cubans in exile….. it is just another milking project to get the dollars of the “enemy”……. so, this tax will affect only the Cubans in exile because other tourist are already covered….. what happens is the regimen to disguise the real intentions and the real prejudiced by the tax speaks in a general way as it would be a new thing for tourists in general.

  16. Simba,

    With all due respect, I think the fee you are referring to is the 10 dollar Travel Promotion Act surcharge that president Obama signed into law a few days ago. As I understand it, the purpose of the fee is to promote travel to the US, help the tourism industry here and create jobs.

    There is a big difference between this and what the murdering Cuban dictator is doing. I have travelled extensively and have never been to a country that requires any proof of health insurance. Requiring tourists to prove they have health insurance or else pay for it in order to visit Cuba is the height of cynicism for a country that refuses to care for its own political prisoners. The dictators in Cuba actively murder their own citizens because they fear them. The money they intend to extort from tourists on the pretext of funding health insurance is a fraud. In Cuba, there is no Government Accountability Office. All the money they collect via this new gimmick will go directly into the private bank accounts of the crime syndicate that is the Cuban dictatorship.

  17. NY TIMES: U.S. Hopes Exports of Internet Services Will Help Open Closed Societies
    Published: March 7, 2010

    WASHINGTON —” Seeking to exploit the Internet’s potential for prying open closed societies, the Obama administration will permit technology companies to export online services like instant messaging, chat and photo sharing to Iran, Cuba and Sudan, a senior administration official said Sunday.

    On Monday, he said, the Treasury Department will issue a general license for the export of free personal Internet services and software geared toward the populations in all three countries, allowing Microsoft, Yahoo and other providers to get around strict export restrictions.

    The companies had resisted offering such services for fear of violating existing sanctions. But there have been growing calls in Congress and elsewhere to lift the restrictions, particularly after the postelection protests in Iran illustrated the power of Internet-based services like Facebook and Twitter.

    “The more people have access to a range of Internet technology and services, the harder it’s going to be for the Iranian government to clamp down on their speech and free expression,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made yet.”

    “While Iran is the prime target of the Treasury’s action, it has implications for Sudan and Cuba, where the administration is also seeking to open more channels of communication to the outside world. Two other blacklisted countries, North Korea and Syria, are not affected by the decision because their sanctions do not currently rule out the export of Internet services.”

  18. 50
    Marzo 6th, 2010 at 21:54

    ……. I hope to be able to debate our differing opinions without animosity. I am fond of saying; Let us agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

    Dear Simba, you are asking something almost impossible for a Cuban: “differing opinions without animosity”…… each time a non Cuban ask me or ask to another Cuban same “effort” I use to tell same story……. In a baseball game played in one of the Europeans countries I left in the past century I was working as Umpire. One of the teams was composed most of Cubans and some Nicaraguans the other team of was composed exclusively of self-behaved and relaxed sons of the country. After each inning at field passed the latiamericans came back to the dugout “analyzing” the different plays they did in the field. Once in the dugout they continued the “analysis” in a latinamerican way while preparing to bating. In the third inning came the manager of the local team and asked me “Why they fights, which is the reason of the argument each time they get in the dugout???”….. I smile to him and explained: “They are not fighting but talking strategy”.
    By other side dear friend….. history only can be known as it happened…. what happens is that sometimes countries and people changes the written history for political or ideological reasons…… USA is not out of this fraud but thanks God only for short time because once the intelligence and security institutions calculates the conditions that caused the fraud are gone then other institutions make public the true facts so historians can write the history. The name of this institution is FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)……. something like that do not happen in other countries and history remains faked long time……. Some times happens that historians are not interested in changing the history for political and ideological reasons and even for nationalistic reasons.

  19. ” you show your Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance card , they will tell you we don’t recognize that Insurance if you want to stay in Cuba you have to buy one of our polices.”

    and that’s Cuba’s fault!?

  20. #68 “I don’t quite believe that the USA can do no wrong, or that Cuba can do no right, nor do I believe the complete opposite of that.”

    I agree.

    ” Lots of people commit suicide, few do it for the reason that Zapata did.”

    Also agree but the death lamentably is still suicide.

  21. Hank
    Juana does not have a bug in his ass that does not even tickle him is the snake from last Friday’s party

  22. Hank

    If you want to visit Cuba you have to buy Insurance by one of the recognized Cuban health care insurance providers, it does not matter whether you have insurance in the States or not.It will go like this ..
    …You arrive to Havana the Inmigration ask for prove of Insurance… you show your Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance card , they will tell you we don’t recognize that Insurance if you want to stay in Cuba you have to buy one of our polices.

  23. juanita has a bug up her ass and it is bothering her. Keep talking sweetheart, we love to hear from you.

  24. juan #65 I don’t quite believe that the USA can do no wrong, or that Cuba can do no right, nor do I believe the complete opposite of that. Either country or both countries can claim either vice or virtue. The more apt question is: What is the percentage of possible times to do right or wrong that each country manages one or the other? Obviously one would first have to define right or wrong, and that is probably where we differ greatly.
    To describe Zapata’s death as strictly a suicide is hardly correct. He starved himself to death in a slow excruciating manner all the while protesting his government’s treatment of political prisoners. Lots of people commit suicide, few do it for the reason that Zapata did.

  25. #60 don’t knock the Castros Wank – you have already conceded that Fidel has broad based support (see below). je je je!

  26. “By comparison, in France between January 1, 2010 and February24, 2010, there were 22 suicides in prison, including a 16-year-old boy. In 2009 there were 122 suicides in French prisons and 115 in 2008. State Secretary of Justice Jean-Marie Bockel declared his impotence in these situations: “When someone decides to commit suicide and is determined to do, whether they are free or in prison, [. . .] there is nothing you can do about it.” The families of those victims were not entitled to the same media treatment as Zapata, nor even an official public statement from the French government.10

    We must put the Zapata’s case into perspective by looking at two much more serious situations deliberately ignored by the corporate media that clearly illustrate the politicization and manipulation of this ordinary incident that would pass unnoticed in most countries, except Cuba”…from #53

    Trust you are all demonstating in the streets outside the French embassy?

  27. On March 4, 2010 President Obama of the USA signed a Travel Promotion Act. A part of that program will charge tourists a $10 fee for entry into the USA. That would amount to a $50 fee for a family of five individuals. Cuba will charge a fee for “insurance.” Although two wrongs do not make a right, how much difference is there between the two fees? It is said that nearly all countries charge a fee, but most are hidden in airline ticket costs and various other ruses. Cuba’s fee is probably no worse than that of other countries.

  28. Hank,

    There are “preffered providers” in Cuba, but THEY PREFFER THE USA! Tan Tan!
    “Take my wife, please”! Sorry, old school comedy here!

  29. Hank,

    I think is more like “Even our political prisoners cant say more about our health care system!!”, yes because THEY ARE DEAD!

  30. Thank you Humberto,

    CORRECTION: La China & Mummy Healthcare. Sponsors of hunger strikers and political prisoners throughout the world.

    Our motto: “We help them waste away, damn proud of it too!”

  31. Castro Brothers Health Care. This gives a whole new meaning to “out of network providers.” Are there preferred providers in Cuba?

  32. Hank,

    You forgot to identify them correctly! It’s “LA CHINA” & “THE MUMMY”! How can you forget! One is a homosexual and the other is either dead or comatose!

  33. So, let me see if I have this right. In order to leave Cuba, you need permission from the government. Cuba is one of the few regimes left on the face of the planet that requires an exit visa for its citizens. This is a policy that disregards all standards of civility and a clear violation of universally recognized standards of human rights.

    Now, in order to enter Cuba, you have to be able to prove that you have health insurance from a private capitalistic company that will recompense the glorious Cuban health care system if you get sick? And if you don’t have it when you arrive in Havana, the regime will sell it to you? Unbelievable. The hypocracy is extraordinary. fidel & company are now insurance agents. A fitting end for them.


    HAVANA TIMES: Cuba Imposes Insurance for Visitors

    HAVANA TIMES, March 7 — Without saying what it costs nor what it covers, the Cuban government announced it would obligate tourists to buy health insurance in order to visit the island.

    The same measure applies for Cubans living abroad and returning home for visits and for foreigners living in the country.

    The decision was taken at an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on February 16 and published ten days later in the Official Gazette.

    According to the measure that takes effect on May 1, 2010, the government says medical insurance policies purchased abroad must be from insurance companies recognized in Cuba.

    It also states that sales points will be established at points of entrance to the country for purchase from Cuban companies.

    Diplomatic personnel and representatives of foreign organizations are exempt from mandatory insurance.

    The Ministry of Finance and Prices is the entity empowered by the Council of Ministers to set the price of the insurance polices to be sold by Cuban companies.

    GOV MONITOR: Spain, Cuba And The Death Of Orlando Zapata
    Source: by Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, European Council on Foreign Relations
    Posted on: 7th March 2010

    The death of Orlando Zapata shows up the extreme fragility of the Cuban regime.

    After 50 years of total control of everything in Cuba, the fact that it has to use these means of repression on a bricklayer, whose only form of resistance has been peaceful and verbal, can only mean that the regime fears its citizens as much as they fear the regime – or perhaps a little more.

    Intuitions and hunches often amount to wishful thinking. But in the light of what has happened to similar regimes (think of Ceausescu’s Romania), a sudden collapse of the Cuban regime could in fact be far more likely than it might seem at first sight. If, as the Cuban government tells us, 65 dissidents can subvert with their dissident talk a regime that claims to represent a people’s revolution, what the Castro brothers are telling us is that they are perfectly aware that the heritage of 50 years would hardly last 50 hours, if the regime renounced physical coercion.

    By now it is hard to question the fact that the Cuban revolution has led to a tyranny sustained by mere force. But for those who still have their doubts, the case of Orlando Zapata offers a detailed study of how a totalitarian regime bends the will of people. First, three months of prison for publicly complaining of “how bad things were;” then, three years in prison for taking part in a hunger strike; and lastly, once in prison, successive sentences of up to 36 years, and continual beatings and abuse for his refusal to be considered a common criminal. This is why the struggle between Zapata and the Cuban regime was to the death: both knew that when someone resists in this manner (peacefully and to the end), no regime can stand it.

    It is true that 50 years of confrontation with the Cuban regime have only strengthened it. But dialogue with the regime, with no conditions attached, which is the other option (favoured by Spain, among others), does not seem to produce results, either. To a political scientist, it is hard to see how such an approach can constitute a “policy.” If we understand policy as the application of means to achieve ends (and the successive adjustment of these means in the light of the results obtained) this approach represents the negation of policy. We know what is required, but not how to achieve it.

    The fact that Spain lacks a Cuba policy worthy of the name is due to several reasons: firstly, Spain is so historically and emotionally entangled in Cuba that it is hard to start from zero and examine without prejudice the relative merits of all the options; secondly, the lack of internal consensus in Spain on this matter; thirdly, even if Spain had a Cuba policy, its influence on internal events would be small. Meanwhile Brazil and Venezuela, like certain Spanish leftists, still believe that you can be “a friend of the regime and of the Cubans,” in spite of the evidence of enmity between the Cubans and their regime.

    All this explains why Spain’s (non) policy on Cuba simply consists of keeping open the channels for dialogue so as to have early notice of any possible will to change, to intervene occasionally in favour of an individual dissident (while shunning any contact with the opposition) and to offer the regime any available opportunities for increased openness and economic development (including an EU cooperation agreement with no political conditions attached). It is a wait-and-see attitude, and not an absurd one; but we should not use the word “policy” for what is just the sum of a few hopes tenuously threaded together.

    This article was published in El País English edition on 3 March 2010.

  36. Agent juan read carefully this part: ” When ideology is placed above objective information, truth and ethics are the first victims”. You are the product of a communist ideology.

  37. It makes me horribly sad to hear about how horrible life is in my country. I am lucky to have traveled to the USA with my parents at the young age of 7, but I have never forgotten my Cuba. I am constantly fighting those ignorant a-holes here who believe Cuba is anything but poor, destitute, and condemned. Yoani, I admire your courage and heart.

  38. “The suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo is a tragedy and his mother’s pain must be respected. But there are unscrupulous [no more than those who live in Miami] people. The corporate media, Washington, and the European Union cares little about his death, just as they care little for the Hondurans and Colombians killed every day. Zapata is useful to them only in the media war against the Cuban government. When ideology is placed above objective information, truth and ethics are the first victims.”

  39. I would like to share a translation of a video by Pedro J. Ramírez, Journalist and editor-in-chief of “El Mundo” one of the most recognized and respected newspaper in Madrid, Spain, on the death of Orlando Zapata of Cuba. Wed. Feb. 24th 2010.

    “The World in 2 Seconds By: Pedro J. Ramírez

    The Spanish Government has covered oneself by issuing a statement through their Vice-President, De La Vega, making sure they regret the death of Orlando Zapata, a Cuban dissident, who died as a result of a hunger strike, the Spanish government also supports a transitional democratic process in Cuba.
    There are times when it is not enough to make statements out of formalities. Just recently, Zapatero (Spain President and actual President of UE) was a participant at a United Nations forum in favor of abolishing the death penalty worldwide, it is a noble cause but for a Democrat, life and freedom is the same thing.
    At least Orlando Zapata gave his life as the only way to proof that under the dreadful tyranny of Castro, there is no space at all for freedom. He was a political prisoner, a prisoner of conscience, he did not steal or kill anyone for his cause, he was jailed for expressing his opinion and because he continues to do so from jail, they let him die in an inhuman and despicable way.
    How could it be that Zapatero defended the supreme value of life when the one in question was the life of a multiple assassin which pictures of his death in Belfast has caused pain and humiliation to his victims?
    However, Zapatero has not even raised a finger of protest when it comes to Orlando Zapata’s death to be one of a political price to the Cuban dictatorship?

    As President of the European Union, Zapatero is missing a great opportunity to show that the most elemental defense of Human Rights it’s not dependant of the ideology of the perpetrator.
    I am sure Orlando Zapata’s family will not find any comfort in a regime that have assisted unabashed in his agony; now declared themselves leftists and anti-Yanks.

    With progress in Spain, this is not an excuse or a mitigating factor. We tend to boycott the inauguration of a democratic elected president in Honduras, but continue to have open relations with the tyrants of Havana.

    Our Foreign Policies are a disgrace and Moratinos (Spain Minister of Foreign Affairs) is a walking embarrassment.”

    Thanks for keeping in touch with “El Mundo”

  40. Concubino, this guy has an agenda, it does not matter what anybody call or says about him, all he wants is the attention some of us are giving him so he can continue with his ill propaganda and ridicule of us all.

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