Tropical Mafia

tropical_island
A deluge of events is falling on Cuba. The first drops fell at the beginning of January, with the death of several dozen patients in the Havana Psychiatric Hospital from starvation and cold. The flood of problems intensified with the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, pushed to his end by the negligence of his jailers and the stubbornness of our leaders.Then came the hunger strike of the journalist Guillermos Fariñas and with it our lives fell into the center of a political tornado whose hurricane winds are increasing every day.

In parallel with these tempests, a series of possible corruption scandals have come as a check on the power in Cuba. According to rumors, allegations have come to light about ministers with suitcases of dollars hidden in their water tanks, commercial flights whose dividends went into the hands of a few, and juice factories whose enormous earnings were quickly rushed out of the country. Among those implicated appear to be men who came down from the Sierra Maestra and enriched themselves awarding licenses to foreign companies who repaid them with extremely succulent commissions. The State has been looted by the State itself. The diversion of resources has reached a level to where the filching of a little milk from a warehouse looks like child’s play. The hierarchy of power on this Island takes to the road with their hands full, as if they sense that today’s downpour will eventually bring the roof down on their heads. It gives the impression that the country is in the midst of a liquidation sale and many — wearing the olive green uniform — are taking the opportunity to make off with what little we have left.

The silent press, meanwhile, speaks to us of past glories, of anniversaries to be commemorated, all the while declaring that the Revolution has never been stronger. Behind the curtain, a series of purges are carried out and the auditors dig into the guts of our finances, confirming there’s nothing they can do before the advance of corruption. The “historic” generation not only showed us how to live a complete masquerade, they have also sown the idea that the nation’s coffers are managed like a personal wallet. The wastewaters from ethical and moral misery, that they themselves nurtured and prospered from, appear as if they are about to drown everyone.

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46 thoughts on “Tropical Mafia

  1. This M. Pineiro Losada poster is a VOCERO for the Dictatorship. I’m sure he is on top of the food chain in Cuba and does not want change (for the better) to take place. That is selfish behavior and not unusual for those at the top of oppressive regimes. Like everything his/her day will come.

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  3. Statue of Liberty: All I have done is post lengthy, logical responses to the misinformation I read here. Viva la revolución cubana!

  4. Welcome to the blog of Piñero Rosado. This is no longer Yoani’s blog, he has taken over it.

  5. Armando J. Suarez:

    Tu puedes hablar conmigo en español, si lo prefieres. O, tambêm, português :) Yo puedo entender los dos pero es más fácil para escribir en inglés.

    I appreciate your attempt at a thoughtful discussion. However, I cannot agree with your conclusions, for these reasons:

    First, I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of the US economic embargo. Cuba is a revolution towards socialism. It is striving to reach socialism. Unfortunately, Cuba is located 90 miles away from the world’s largest military and economic super-power.

    For example, in 2005, simply because of *increased* restrictions in the Cuba embargo, Cuba lost $4.1 billion, US dollars:
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Officials+claim+embargo+cost+Cuba+$4+billion+in+2005.-a0154391915

    This is only an example of how much is lost by slightly tougher import/export restrictions on Cuba — not a quantification of how much is lost in total by the embargo.

    The importance of trade for countries cannot be understated, especially with their closest neighbors, as costs of shipping play a significant factor. Cuba is 90 miles away from the United States. In comparison, it is 4,660 miles from London.

    Let’s just assume the $4.1 billion that was lost in 2005 (note again: this does NOT assume any money that would be made by US tourism, it is only what was lost by increased restrictions). Cuba has a population of 11 million people. That is $372 lost for each Cuban man, woman and child in 2005.

    Now, imagine how much more money Cuba would have if there was no economic blockade AT ALL. Certainly, we are talking about over $1000 USD each year for each Cuban.

    Let’s figure, then, a Cuban citizen who was born in 1959. They have 51 years, this year. Tell me honestly: how different would that Cuban citizen’s life be different if they had $51 thousand ($51,000) US dollars available for them over their lifetime? For a husband and wife, we are talking about over $100,000 US dollars. And so on.

    Of course, these are rough figures. And, of course, it wouldn’t work out this way exactly. However, it is an interesting thought experiment to begin thinking about the real impact of the embargo against Cuba.

    In fact, we are probably talking about more than $1000 per Cuban citizen per year. We are talking about billions and billions of dollars that are lost every year. And, Cuba must compete economically with other neighbors who are trading with the United States … neighbors which are not in a socialist revolution and, therefore, are not spending money on education, health care, and so on.

    This is why the United Nations, every single year, every single country except for ONE, takes the time to condemn the US blockade against Cuba.

    Finally, as part of this thought experiment, let us also remember that the United States does not just deny Cuba additional money. By engaging in a war of aggression and terrorism against Cuba, the United States forces Cuba to spend additional money on their military that they would not have to spend if they lived in peaceful co-existence.

    Consider how much money it cost to send the Cuban Five to the United States to infiltrate the terrorist organizations in Miami … Alpha 66 and so on. How much money it cost to defend the Cuban Five in US courts. And we all know that if there is the Cuban Five, there are at least 50 more Cubans who are continuing to work in Miami to fight the terrorist threat.

    So, the United States not only denies Cuba the money that every other country in the world has by allowing it to trade with the world’s largest economic super-power, but it also TAKES money from Cuba by forcing it to fight a war with the world’s largest military super-power.

    For a country the size of Cuba, it is very basic economics that between the embargo and the war, the actions of the US Government has held back the potential of the Cuban Revolution significantly. Without these actions by the US Government, the daily life of every single Cuban would be radically different.

  6. Mr Pineiro Losada. First of all congratulate you for your well thought out diatribe in favor of the failed Cuban experiment and your truths about the imperialistic United States of America. I do not know if you are cuban or only s “traveling companion”, but is refreshing to hear someone defending that cause in an intelligent and passionate manner. The fact remains that even recognizing the mistakes of United States in dealing not only with Cuba but with Latin America in general, you can not convince me that a better way is the way of the Castros, the Chavezes, the Ortegas or the Morales. Latin America is only changing one owner for another and so far these new owners have not been able to offer any substantial improvement over the all ones. Free Medical Care: true, but cubans have to depend on families abroad to obtain medicines. Free Education: true, but 50 years of that free and doctrinal education have not been able to bring better lives to the educated ones; and please do not lower your status with me telling me that the embargo is responsible for the economic nightmare in the island. The United States of America is the largest exporter of goods to Cuba (basically, foodstuffs and medicines)but the dollar amount exceeds the $800 millions a year, and they do not sell more because Cuba does not have money to pay and historically they have not kept a good credit record (ask Russia, Canada and other countries). The embargo is a good theme to keep the blame from the real culripts of the cuban tragedy. Forgive my English, I am just an old poor cuban who learned it in this country which gave me home when me own kind boot me out of Cuba. My respects.

  7. Hi Folks,

    A dozen comments got caught in the “spam catcher” because they had more than three links. Some were repeats (second tries) I and tried to only publish each comment once. If I erred and eliminated a unique comment, my apologies, there was no intention behind it; none of the comments were purposefully erased.

    Your Friendly English Translator

  8. ps — the article’s title says it all:

    Lula’s plans to help himself to Cuba after Castro dies.

  9. Yes, let’s talk about Brazil and why Lula appears to be “supporting” the Castros. Well… in an excellent article here:

    http://www.larazon.es/noticia/3835-los-planes-de-lula-para-apoderarse-de-cuba-cuando-muera-castro

    … we find a rational explanation which is, in brief, that he can’t wait for them to DIE so he can vigorously join in the looting of what’s left of the country and, in particular, position Brazil to take advantage of the RICHES that will soon flow from the EVIL AMERICAN EMPIRE to the north, into Cuba… and if Lula has his way barely pause on their journey before flowing out again to Brazil.

    Factoids from the article:

    Brazil profits from the production of cigarettes in Cuba, made by cheap [as in slave] labor but sold at world market prices.

    Brazil intends to profit from Cuba’s oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Brazil wants to “dominate” the port of Mariel, which will be very important to the Americans after the deaths of the dictators and the re-emergence of CAPITALISM [help me, I’m feeling faint at the very thought of such an evil perpetrated on the proud, free, joyously communist people of Cuba… oh… wait… I mean the slaves of Cuba].

    Meanwhile, between 2003-2008 exports from Brazil to Cuba have quintupled.

    [In other words… venezuela oil goes to Fidel… he sells it on the world market… and with the cash buys things from Brazil. Presumably Lula gives Hugo a big brotherly sloppy kiss from time to time to show his gratitude.]

    There’s no ideology here. It’s about the immortal motivator of humankind: MONEY.

    And Lula, dear Lula, former labor union activist and faux hunger striker, is just as greedy as all the other grasping power-hungry leaders of the world.

  10. (continued)
    Then, you unbelievably write: “Factually incorrect, again. Where in the “rust belt” are you talking about? Name some names pal.”

    Again, statistics are hard to come by because the cities are too poor to collect official statistics. However, everybody who lives in the Rust Belt knows about this epidemic. This study shows 4,607 homeless deaths from hypothermia between 1999 and 2002:
    http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/winter_weather/report.html

    I’m not sure what world you live in where you need documentation to prove something that everyone knows. There are THOUSANDS of homeless people in the Rust Belt. It gets VERY COLD in the Rust Belt. If you spend the night outside on a cold night, it is very likely you will die from hypothermia.

    It is astounding that you don’t think this happens.

    So, I think I have proven my point: that fact that Yoani believes it is a “political tornado” that a few people died from cold ONE TIME in Cuba is absolute naivete, since it is hardly news to those of us living in the Capitalist Paradise to the North, where THOUSANDS of people die from cold-related deaths every single year.

    And, this speaks nothing of the deaths due to gang violence, lack of health care, violence committed against homeless people, deaths due to the culture of violence in prisons (which hold well over TWO MILLION people), and on and on and on.

    Capitalism is a society of heartlessness. It is a society where people don’t care one bit for each other. There is no community in a capitalist society. Business people literally step over homeless people who have frozen to death overnight on their way to work, and they don’t even glance in their direction.

    This is capitalism. This is life in the world’s richest country. And you want to talk about “miserable” conditions.

    The fact is, people have struggled against capitalist society since the industrial revolution. Only through the worst violence and terrorism against socialists have the social elite been able to stop normal people from fighting this cancer on society.

    You asked for facts, and you got them. Viva socialismo.

  11. (continued — my comments are being moderated, probably because I am linking to URLs)

    Anyway, if you want further research, you will have to do it yourself. It is an unbelievable travesty that people die in the winter because the privatized heating company cruelly turns off their heat but that is exactly what capitalism is. However, these stories somehow get “lost” in the “Capitalist Free Press” …

    As for homeless deaths in San Francisco, funny you should ask. In 1999, the City of San Francisco reported a 57% increase in homeless deaths for the year. I was wrong — it was not a dozen or so — it was 168:

    “The remains of G.M., a 42-year-old male, were found by gardeners at Golden Gate Park inside a sleeping bag within a pup tent. And J.W., a 46-year-old male war veteran, was found last February in an unnamed doorway by a passerby, ‘cold, wet, mumbling.’ At San Francisco General Hospital, where he died, he was found to have an 80 degree F. core temperature. These three cases were part of a study released last month by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), which identified a total of 157 homeless persons who died in the City in the preceding 12 months, a figure that was later raised to 163. This was 57 percent higher than the previous year, and the largest total since the City began keeping records in 1987.”
    http://www.createpeaceathome.org/stories/deathstories/homelessdeathsstreetsheet6-13-05.htm

    Unfortunately, that was the last year that the City of San Francisco kept records on homeless deaths. They canceled the program in 2000, citing a “lack of funds” to do this count:
    “The San Francisco Health Department ended its homeless death count in 2000, citing budget constraints and a redundancy in data collected year after year.”
    http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-01-27/bay-area/17357189_1_homeless-deaths-homeless-activists-medical-examiner

    Since then, volunteers have tried to keep a count of annual homeless deaths but, obviously, cannot do as good a job as the government could, with a budget. The count remains about the same. And this is in sunny, ultra-liberal San Francisco.

  12. (continued)

    You write: Name one person who was “killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year.” Name one.

    I have already named one. The UK gathers more statistics about this issue because the “free press” in the United States would prefer to never discuss this topic, even though everyone who lives in these areas (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore) know people who have died from winter deaths and the heat being turned off.

    In Northern Ireland, statistics put the number at around 1,000 to 1,300 deaths each winter: “Some of those, particularly the elderly, don’t always make it to spring. There are about 1,000 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland in the winter. Some say it’s more like 1,300. These are known politely as ‘excess winter deaths’. But many of them are directly related to fuel poverty. People who just can’t afford to keep warm any more get ill and die because of the cold.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8544533.stm

    Now, if there are 1,300 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland, where only 1.7 million people live, you can imagine how many people die throughout the Rust Belt in the United States, where tens of millions of people live.

    This problem is well-known but rarely reported on, in the “Capitalist Free Press”. This past year, around quarter-of-a-million (225,000) people JUST IN DETROIT had their heat shut off on them:
    http://unitedwaysem.blogspot.com/2010/02/detroit-free-press-more-people.html

    With temperatures well below freezing, several feet of snow and freezing cold wind, you don’t think people die? Of course they do. Everyone knows it. It’s part of life in capitalism. These statistics put the deaths from cold in the winter at 108,000 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT THOUSAND) people in the US in 2008:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/06/winter-kills-excess-deaths-in-the-winter-months/

  13. (continued)

    You write: Name one person who was “killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year.” Name one.

    I have already named one. The UK gathers more statistics about this issue because the “free press” in the United States would prefer to never discuss this topic, even though everyone who lives in these areas (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore) know people who have died from winter deaths and the heat being turned off.

    In Northern Ireland, statistics put the number at around 1,000 to 1,300 deaths each winter: “Some of those, particularly the elderly, don’t always make it to spring. There are about 1,000 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland in the winter. Some say it’s more like 1,300. These are known politely as ‘excess winter deaths’. But many of them are directly related to fuel poverty. People who just can’t afford to keep warm any more get ill and die because of the cold.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8544533.stm

    Now, if there are 1,300 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland, where only 1.7 million people live, you can imagine how many people die throughout the Rust Belt in the United States, where tens of millions of people live.

    This problem is well-known but rarely reported on, in the “Capitalist Free Press”. This past year, around quarter-of-a-million (225,000) people JUST IN DETROIT had their heat shut off on them:
    http://unitedwaysem.blogspot.com/2010/02/detroit-free-press-more-people.html

    With temperatures well below freezing, several feet of snow and freezing cold wind, you don’t think people die? Of course they do. Everyone knows it. It’s part of life in capitalism. These statistics put the deaths from cold in the winter at 108,000 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT THOUSAND) people in the US in 2008:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/06/winter-kills-excess-deaths-in-the-winter-months/

    Anyway, if you want further research, you will have to do it yourself. It is an unbelievable travesty that people die in the winter because the privatized heating company cruelly turns off their heat but that is exactly what capitalism is. However, these stories somehow get “lost” in the “Capitalist Free Press” …

    As for homeless deaths in San Francisco, funny you should ask. In 1999, the City of San Francisco reported a 57% increase in homeless deaths for the year. I was wrong — it was not a dozen or so — it was 168:

    “The remains of G.M., a 42-year-old male, were found by gardeners at Golden Gate Park inside a sleeping bag within a pup tent. And J.W., a 46-year-old male war veteran, was found last February in an unnamed doorway by a passerby, ‘cold, wet, mumbling.’ At San Francisco General Hospital, where he died, he was found to have an 80 degree F. core temperature. These three cases were part of a study released last month by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), which identified a total of 157 homeless persons who died in the City in the preceding 12 months, a figure that was later raised to 163. This was 57 percent higher than the previous year, and the largest total since the City began keeping records in 1987.”
    http://www.createpeaceathome.org/stories/deathstories/homelessdeathsstreetsheet6-13-05.htm

    Unfortunately, that was the last year that the City of San Francisco kept records on homeless deaths. They canceled the program in 2000, citing a “lack of funds” to do this count:
    “The San Francisco Health Department ended its homeless death count in 2000, citing budget constraints and a redundancy in data collected year after year.”
    http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-01-27/bay-area/17357189_1_homeless-deaths-homeless-activists-medical-examiner

    Since then, volunteers have tried to keep a count of annual homeless deaths but, obviously, cannot do as good a job as the government could, with a budget. The count remains about the same. And this is in sunny, ultra-liberal San Francisco.

    Then, you unbelievably write: “Factually incorrect, again. Where in the “rust belt” are you talking about? Name some names pal.”

    Again, statistics are hard to come by because the cities are too poor to collect official statistics. However, everybody who lives in the Rust Belt knows about this epidemic. This study shows 4,607 homeless deaths from hypothermia between 1999 and 2002:
    http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/winter_weather/report.html

    I’m not sure what world you live in where you need documentation to prove something that everyone knows. There are THOUSANDS of homeless people in the Rust Belt. It gets VERY COLD in the Rust Belt. If you spend the night outside on a cold night, it is very likely you will die from hypothermia.

    It is astounding that you don’t think this happens.

  14. (continued)

    You may claim there are “millions” who oppose the Cuban Revolution but that doesn’t mean much compared to the overwhelming support of the entire international community for Socialist Cuba.

    You write:
    “How many hunger strikers who die protesting inhuman conditions does it take to make you a compassionate soul? What does it take for you to recognized basic human rights? I would really like to know. And what, sir, has been your everyday experience of ‘political turbulence?’ What makes you so much more enlightened than the rest of us such that you are in a position to exclude people like Yoani from even hazarding a comment?”

    I agree 100% with the Cuban Government’s response to the hunger strike. It is always painful whenever anyone’s life is lost but Cuba has nothing to prove to the world with regards to its commitment to human dignity and the value of human life. Furthermore, the only thing being proved by these hunger strikers is that the Capitalist Press is not “free” — it is far from “free,” it is owned and operated by enormous multinational corporations who have an anti-human agenda and they are manipulating the hunger strike for their own benefit. This is proven by comparing the amount of press given to one Cuban hunger striker who died vs. the hundreds of people who were on hunger strike on the eastern end of the island, under the jurisdiction of the US Government, or those who have been on hunger strike against the historically unprecedented and cruel US prison system, which is truly a modern-day version of labor camps. It is an insult to anyone’s intelligence to suggest that the Capitalist Media cares one bit for the sanctity of human life. They don’t care about hunger strikers, they care about expanding their imperialist project all over the world and if they can use one man’s death as a way to further attack Cuba, then they will. But, this one man’s death is truly in vain, as it will not change Cuban policy at all.

  15. Hank:

    I will finish responding to your post now, since I have some time.

    Re: “sheer hyperbole” — whatever. You get my point.

    You write:
    “Who are the ‘so many people who have already learned’ these supposed facts to which you refer? Could it be the MEPs who voted OVERWHELMINGLY to condemn Cuba for its egregious violations of human rights? Could it be the millions of people throughout the world who are outraged by the cruelty of the murderous castro regime?”

    I am referring, of course, to all the critics of so-called “citizen journalism” and the “bloggers revolution” who have called out the blogger community for the extremely low signal-to-noise ratio. In other words, confirmed facts are few and exaggerations or misinformed opinions are many. Nonetheless, your assertion that there are “millions” of people who are opposed to the Cuban Revolution may be true if you truly search every single country of the earth, seeking out right-wing nationalists, who certainly exist around the world. However, the overwhelming majority of the world support Castro’s Cuba, are opposed to the blockade by the United States, support the Cuban 5 political prisoners and support an end to the terrorist war directed against Cuba.

    This is especially true in Latin America. The evidence for this is everywhere:

    1) You can’t go anywhere in Latin America without seeing Che Guevara t-shirts. Where are the t-shirts with Luis Posada Carriles’ face on them (they don’t exist, obviously)?

    2) Every single year for almost 20 years, the United Nations has overwhelmingly passed a resolution that condemns the US embargo against Cuba and demands that it immediately ends. And every year, 180+ countries vote in favor of this resolution, and the only countries that vote against it are countries like the US & Israel, and then some smattering of US client states like Palau or the Marshall Islands. Every single year.

    3) Every single year, in this resolution, the entire international community comes together to agree that the economic blockade against Cuba is a violation of international law, causes enormous damages to the Cuban people and creates an atmosphere of tension in Cuba. *This* is an expression of the world’s opinion — representing BILLIONS of people — and it will pass again this year: http://mathaba.net/news/?x=623005

    4) Regionally, support for the Cuban Revolution has been expressed by the OAS’s recent decision to invite Cuba into the group. Cuba rejected, however, and the real news here is that the OAS will become increasingly irrelevant as the new regional organization of Latin American countries, formed at this year’s Rio Group Summit, will begin to replace it … without the participation of the United States or Canada. The “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States” (the tentative name) is a regional group that includes the strong leadership of Cuba and is intended to unify Latin America, including Cuba. The rejection of the OAS and the formation of this new group that specifically looks to Cuba for regional leadership is further evidence of support for the Cuban Revolution, internationally.

    You may claim there are “millions” who oppose the Cuban Revolution but that doesn’t mean much compared to the overwhelming support of the entire international community for Socialist Cuba.

    You write:
    “How many hunger strikers who die protesting inhuman conditions does it take to make you a compassionate soul? What does it take for you to recognized basic human rights? I would really like to know. And what, sir, has been your everyday experience of ‘political turbulence?’ What makes you so much more enlightened than the rest of us such that you are in a position to exclude people like Yoani from even hazarding a comment?”

    I agree 100% with the Cuban Government’s response to the hunger strike. It is always painful whenever anyone’s life is lost but Cuba has nothing to prove to the world with regards to its commitment to human dignity and the value of human life. Furthermore, the only thing being proved by these hunger strikers is that the Capitalist Press is not “free” — it is far from “free,” it is owned and operated by enormous multinational corporations who have an anti-human agenda and they are manipulating the hunger strike for their own benefit. This is proven by comparing the amount of press given to one Cuban hunger striker who died vs. the hundreds of people who were on hunger strike on the eastern end of the island, under the jurisdiction of the US Government, or those who have been on hunger strike against the historically unprecedented and cruel US prison system, which is truly a modern-day version of labor camps. It is an insult to anyone’s intelligence to suggest that the Capitalist Media cares one bit for the sanctity of human life. They don’t care about hunger strikers, they care about expanding their imperialist project all over the world and if they can use one man’s death as a way to further attack Cuba, then they will. But, this one man’s death is truly in vain, as it will not change Cuban policy at all.

    You write: Name one person who was “killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year.” Name one.

    I have already named one. The UK gathers more statistics about this issue because the “free press” in the United States would prefer to never discuss this topic, even though everyone who lives in these areas (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore) know people who have died from winter deaths and the heat being turned off.

    In Northern Ireland, statistics put the number at around 1,000 to 1,300 deaths each winter: “Some of those, particularly the elderly, don’t always make it to spring. There are about 1,000 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland in the winter. Some say it’s more like 1,300. These are known politely as ‘excess winter deaths’. But many of them are directly related to fuel poverty. People who just can’t afford to keep warm any more get ill and die because of the cold.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8544533.stm

    Now, if there are 1,300 cold-related deaths in Northern Ireland, where only 1.7 million people live, you can imagine how many people die throughout the Rust Belt in the United States, where tens of millions of people live.

    This problem is well-known but rarely reported on, in the “Capitalist Free Press”. This past year, around quarter-of-a-million (225,000) people JUST IN DETROIT had their heat shut off on them:
    http://unitedwaysem.blogspot.com/2010/02/detroit-free-press-more-people.html

    With temperatures well below freezing, several feet of snow and freezing cold wind, you don’t think people die? Of course they do. Everyone knows it. It’s part of life in capitalism. These statistics put the deaths from cold in the winter at 108,000 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT THOUSAND) people in the US in 2008:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/06/winter-kills-excess-deaths-in-the-winter-months/

    Anyway, if you want further research, you will have to do it yourself. It is an unbelievable travesty that people die in the winter because the privatized heating company cruelly turns off their heat but that is exactly what capitalism is. However, these stories somehow get “lost” in the “Capitalist Free Press” …

    As for homeless deaths in San Francisco, funny you should ask. In 1999, the City of San Francisco reported a 57% increase in homeless deaths for the year. I was wrong — it was not a dozen or so — it was 168:

    “The remains of G.M., a 42-year-old male, were found by gardeners at Golden Gate Park inside a sleeping bag within a pup tent. And J.W., a 46-year-old male war veteran, was found last February in an unnamed doorway by a passerby, ‘cold, wet, mumbling.’ At San Francisco General Hospital, where he died, he was found to have an 80 degree F. core temperature. These three cases were part of a study released last month by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), which identified a total of 157 homeless persons who died in the City in the preceding 12 months, a figure that was later raised to 163. This was 57 percent higher than the previous year, and the largest total since the City began keeping records in 1987.”
    http://www.createpeaceathome.org/stories/deathstories/homelessdeathsstreetsheet6-13-05.htm

    Unfortunately, that was the last year that the City of San Francisco kept records on homeless deaths. They canceled the program in 2000, citing a “lack of funds” to do this count:
    “The San Francisco Health Department ended its homeless death count in 2000, citing budget constraints and a redundancy in data collected year after year.”
    http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-01-27/bay-area/17357189_1_homeless-deaths-homeless-activists-medical-examiner

    Since then, volunteers have tried to keep a count of annual homeless deaths but, obviously, cannot do as good a job as the government could, with a budget. The count remains about the same. And this is in sunny, ultra-liberal San Francisco.

    Then, you unbelievably write: “Factually incorrect, again. Where in the “rust belt” are you talking about? Name some names pal.”

    Again, statistics are hard to come by because the cities are too poor to collect official statistics. However, everybody who lives in the Rust Belt knows about this epidemic. This study shows 4,607 homeless deaths from hypothermia between 1999 and 2002:
    http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/winter_weather/report.html

    I’m not sure what world you live in where you need documentation to prove something that everyone knows. There are THOUSANDS of homeless people in the Rust Belt. It gets VERY COLD in the Rust Belt. If you spend the night outside on a cold night, it is very likely you will die from hypothermia.

    It is astounding that you don’t think this happens.

    So, I think I have proven my point: that fact that Yoani believes it is a “political tornado” that a few people died from cold ONE TIME in Cuba is absolute naivete, since it is hardly news to those of us living in the Capitalist Paradise to the North, where THOUSANDS of people die from cold-related deaths every single year.

    And, this speaks nothing of the deaths due to gang violence, lack of health care, violence committed against homeless people, deaths due to the culture of violence in prisons (which hold well over TWO MILLION people), and on and on and on.

    Capitalism is a society of heartlessness. It is a society where people don’t care one bit for each other. There is no community in a capitalist society. Business people literally step over homeless people who have frozen to death overnight on their way to work, and they don’t even glance in their direction.

    This is capitalism. This is life in the world’s richest country. And you want to talk about “miserable” conditions.

    The fact is, people have struggled against capitalist society since the industrial revolution. Only through the worst violence and terrorism against socialists have the social elite been able to stop normal people from fighting this cancer on society.

    You asked for facts, and you got them. Viva socialismo.

  16. Mr. Losada, Just as I stated before, your first two paragraphs are about the United States. Apparently it is your desire to live in the manner that those citizens do. Its all you seem to have on your mind. In reality the United States could care less if the Carribean Sea suddenly opened up and swallowed Cuba. Anything Cuba can provide toward the needs or wants of the United States can very easily be provided by a multitude of other countries.
    ” countries like Haiti or Jamaica, where a tiny percentage of rich, multinational corporations rule the country by force” Isn’t that exactly waht you have in Cuba at present. One pair of brothers has ruled the country for over fifty years now by force. It certainly is not ruled by asking the population through a fair and honest vote as to what they want.
    “There is no sensible person who could like at Capitalist Haiti and then look at Socialist Cuba and suggest that life is better for the average Haitian than it is for the average Cuban.” So then is it your position that Cuba is the best that it can be, or only that it is better than Haiti?
    “The fundamental facts are that working people do much better under the Bolivarian, 21st-century socialist projects in Latin America than they ever did under the Capitalist Dictatorships of the 20th century or the Neoliberal Oligarchies that came after them.” Should Cuba aspire to be better than other Latin American countries, or should Cuba aspire to be the “Pearl of the Carribean,” the civilization that is the Crown Jewel of Latin America. If the latter is the choice, then one must think that the Castro boys are doing one hell of a job of screwing it up. After fifty years of totalitarian rule the number one need of all mankind, food, is yet rationed. The number two need of mankind, shelter, is poor or nonexistant, and repair materials are also rationed, or unobtainable. Wants, as opposed to needs, are nearly out of the question.
    Communism always lacks in that all people are greedy. All people want more than their share. Communism never provides an opportunity for the individual to better him/herself so why bother to work hard when, in Cuba, only the Castro siblings reap the benefits. Without that hard work, whether manual or mechanical, Cuba will never grow to be the civilization it could so easily be. In their lifetimes, the Castro outlaws have never been able to figure that out.

  17. Simba, you write:

    “For those who may not have noticed, the main arguement among the Castro supporters always seems to be that the United States is worse in some way or other. That is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

    You miss the point entirely.

    First, one would find it difficult to assert that a discussion of any geopolitical issue is complete in this day & age without considering the influence of the world’s only military super-power, the United States. And, this is ESPECIALLY true when the topic is Cuba. The United States has sponsored an open war with Cuba since the early 1950s, in addition to an economic blockade that is criticized by nearly every single country on the planet. The United States has sponsored repeated terrorist attacks against Cuba and the United States currently harbors a number of anti-Cuban terrorists like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles as well as a number of anti-Cuban terrorist groups like Alpha 66. The reasons alone justify the inclusion of the United States in any discussion of Cuban state policy. A country that is under siege by the world’s military super-power will TEND to have different policies than a government that is at peace with its neighbors. This logic is so obvious that it is tiresome to constantly have to explain it.

    Second, it is a straw-man argument to say that the argument is “The US is bad, so it’s ok for Cuba to be bad.” This is not the argument. The argument is, first and foremost, what I wrote above: aggressive US foreign policy against Cuba has largely influenced Cuba’s domestic & foreign policy over the past 50 years. But, in addition, the point is that what the Cuban revolution is fighting for is socialism, and some of the primary benefits of socialism are all of the social ills that capitalism brings with it.

    In other words, when someone argues that “Cuba should not be socialist!”, it is natural to wonder what a non-socialist Cuba would look like and if that is a desirable situation. Given the well-publicized plans of the Cuban exile community and what they would like to do to Cuba if the Revolution was overthrown, it is very obvious that what they envision is similar to what we see in other regional “capitalist paradises” … that is, countries like Haiti or Jamaica, where a tiny percentage of rich, multinational corporations rule the country by force or by bribing whatever government happens to be in power while the overwhelming majority of the population live in abject poverty.

    There is no sensible person who could like at Capitalist Haiti and then look at Socialist Cuba and suggest that life is better for the average Haitian than it is for the average Cuban. There was not “freedom of expression” in Capitalist Cuba before the Cuban Revolution and there would not be meaningful “freedom of expression” in a hypothetical post-Revolution Cuba.

    I’m sorry but I have not seen any reasonable or logical argument here that overturns the logic and facts I have presented in this post or any of the others that I’ve posted.

    The fundamental facts are that working people do much better under the Bolivarian, 21st-century socialist projects in Latin America than they ever did under the Capitalist Dictatorships of the 20th century or the Neoliberal Oligarchies that came after them.

    If there is someone who can present a logical argument to the contrary, please do so.

  18. The line of “constructive critizism” popularized by the regime is used as a tool when there is no logical support argument but the argument itself; is used as well as a justification when there is no defensible truth to support the same argument.
    Perhaps the intention for the “constructive critizism was the improvement of the “companero/a’s while in the way to the “perfect human being”.
    All that lost even before the start of their journey, the quest for freedom & equality, the quest for the destruction of society as we know it.
    Needing to kill any oposition, since according to Marx … that is the only way …
    To be replaced with the dictatorship of the proletariat, this “new” human being working in perfect harmony with his environment, in perfect harmony w/each other, with no ambition but to serve within the commun society for the common good; controlled by the few for the benefit of the many … or so we were told …
    This is the description of the worker’s paradise.
    But: if things don’t work out … it isn’t because the theory is wrong … it is because either the people is guilty of not meeting their quota, of many other reasons to hamper their success; in any way & form it is never the fault of the leadership.

  19. Folks, don’t take it from Yoani Sanchez only. The people are starting to break the embargo upon information that Castro the Dictator has imposed on its own People of Cuba. I am surpsised, not being a frequent visitor of this the english version of Yoani’s post, of how many extreme wing leftists and apologists of the biggest crime against a people in this hemisphere comment on this blog. So, that said, I will start to post links of different blogs, denouncing the Castro Crime. So that objective readers and visitors may form an idea of their own in regard to the “facts”. The freedom of internet is starting to allow those cubans who have heart to opose the most repressive regime in this hemisphere to put forth “the truth”. Here is a start…

    http://www.marcmasferrer.typepad.com/

    http://www.therealcuba.com/

    http://sunriseinhavana.blogspot.com/

    http://www.netforcuba.org/indexeng.htm

    These are just a few. We will post more links a little later, specially those of the brave men and women that dare speak their minds inside the mouth of the monster…

  20. Simba, that’s what I’ve said also. They should open a site and start criticizing the US administration. Here talks are about Cuba.

  21. losada … since “vamos bien” in Cuba, share with me the gifts from communist paradise, share your pride, convince me of my wrongs.
    I promise an open & honest mind.

  22. For those who may not have noticed, the main arguement among the Castro supporters always seems to be that the United States is worse in some way or other. That is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The subject is Cuba, not the United States. Let us hear of the good things about the Cuban Nation under Communism for once, not about the United States all of the time. If the Castro supporters can find nothing good to support their position, enough said.

  23. Jambalaia: “Viva a Revolução de 1964 !!!”

    In case no one gets this reference, 1964 is the year that democracy was overthrown in Brazil and replaced by a US-backed military dictatorship.

    It was eventually overthrown in the 80s, but not before it had mis-managed the economy, kidnapped and murdered and tortured thousands of people, helped participate in the violent 1973 installation of the Pinochet regime and set Brazilian society back by decades.

    In other words, Jambalaia believes an iPhone is freedom, and kidnapping/torturing journalists is democracy.

    The same backwards logic that people have towards Cuba.

    The same backwards logic where people mourn 1 hunger striker on the western side of the island, and ignore the 200 hunger strikers on the eastern end of the island.

    Jambalaia: Your ignorance doesn’t even deserve a response, although I will laughingly tell you that your Worker’s Party, socialist President has the highest approval rating in the world, with 73% active approval, and over 90% who either approve or are neutral. He is looking to move on to become UN Secretary-General, since it has been a long time since the world has seen a Head of State who is so popular.

    And President Lula openly supports the Castro regime, and refused to meet with the imperialist-funded dissident groups when he visited there recently. Everyone knows the truth when it comes to the Cuban dissidents.

    Viva la revolución cubana! Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez! Viva Lula da Silva!

  24. Just because some American citizens freeze to death in the winter inside their own apartments, or outside on the streets, does not mean that dictatorial regimes, such as the one in Cuba, are somehow better. In America, yes even though there is corruption, we are FREE to live our lives as we choose. We are FREE to criticize our own government, a right that could apparently get one killed or imprisoned in Cuba. We are FREE to travel, to buy whatever we need and want, to live as we choose, and to legitimately cast our votes. I applaud Yoani Sanchez for telling the truth. Do you really think that the rest of the would thinks that you live in some sort of socialist paradise? I live in the deep southern part of America, so close to Cuba, yet so far away. I cannot wait for the Castro vice-grip on Cuba to be broken so that the island’s inhabitants can know true freedom.

  25. … for the “what is worth” …
    The spanish version has about 599 entries in the same topic “Tropical Mafia”.
    The juans, losadas etc. unless he/they (including different incarnations) are not using the same names as here … are notorious for the absence in the spanish version … I wonder why?
    Perhaps because it is easy to pass misinformation here than in the spanish site?
    Or is it because in the spanisk site they know how to recognize your collective “ilk” ?

  26. losada ( or whom you wish to be):
    To use the wrongs of the world as a justification of your own is an admision of wrong.
    “The human condition” IS yet … there is hope, where there is realization & recognition, there is acceptance, where there is acceptance choices are created possibilities & hope exists, & how, when & why a choice is made, now … that is the difference.
    There has to be freedom of thinking, of choice & of power to exercise that choice.
    So losada:
    By justifying whats wrong w/a wrong you only perpetuate the wrong, offer one positive solution, why not?
    If I were to (as your leader) tell you what I think you want to hear, to promise you what I think you want to have … am I being respectfull & caring? … or am I just “using & manipulating” you eh? in escence I am insulting your intelligence while buying your loyalty w/a few bread crumbs from my table …
    Think about it … if it was a gamble your position is a 50-50 at best … bad odds companero …
    The person who’s name you are using would be offended by your representation of him.
    If nothing else, he was smarter …

  27. Hank — GOOD JOB — thanks for the translated post.

    Concubino — Thanks for the idea… but a google translator version is not good enough to post on a blog. It will be close “but no cigar”… for example… google translator OFTEN seems to leave out the word “no” (which is no/not in english) which of course COMPLETELY changes the meaning!!!!

  28. Hank:

    I will respond more fully to your post when I have more time. However, since it is SO EASY to find information about this, and since it happens all the time, I decided to quickly knock you back with your “Name one” garbage.

    Note that Bay City, MI is a tiny town and so they probably haven’t seen something like this before. But it happens all the time.

    It took me LITERALLY 10 seconds of searching Google to find this.

    Ok, Hank. I’ve “named one,” per your stupid challenge. And I can keep naming them, on and on and on.

    It is this kind of capitalist heartlessness that people like Fidel and Che and me are fighting against. I find it disturbing that you don’t believe this happens. What do you think capitalist societies are like? This is VERY common-place.

    WWII Veteran Freezes To Death In Own Home
    Memorial Service Set For Wednesday

    POSTED: 2:20 pm EST January 26, 2009

    http://www.wnem.com/news/18566890/detail.html#-

    BAY CITY, Mich. — Officials in Mid-Michigan said the 93-year-old man who owed more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills froze to death inside his home — where the municipal power company had restricted his use of electricity.

    An autopsy determined Schur died from hypothermia in the home he lived in for years.

  29. Ok, I’ll bite.

    Let’s break down our long-since dead and buried bearded friend’s temper tantrum. As usual, this rant is the same tired unsubstantiated crap we constantly hear and read. Welcome back to the Night Of The Living Dead.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “This post by Yoani is sheer hyperbole.”

    Pal, using the phrase “sheer hyperbole” is, to say the least, a silly rhetorical device. No, it’s a dumb rhetorical device. A statement is “hyperbole” or it is not. Combining the word “sheer” with “hypberbole” is pleonastic and doesn’t do anything except raise serious doubts about the author –who in this case is you.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “It is what so many people have already learned about the blogueros: they aren’t the place to go for accurate information.”

    Who are the “so many people who have already learned” these supposed facts to which you refer? Could it be the MEPs who voted OVERWHELMINGLY to condemn Cuba for its egregious violations of human rights? Could it be the millions of people throughout the world who are outraged by the cruelty of the murderous castro regime? If our dead bearded friend could be just a little more specific, that would help. And where, chum, do you suggest we go for “accurate information?”

    Our dead bearded friend said: “A “political tornado”? [sic] This is an absurdity, and reflects the lack of experience of someone who has never seen political turbulence before … someone who believes that one or two hunger strikers will change anything … someone who has become so isolated within a group of people who only tell them what they want to hear that they believe the universe revolves around them.”

    Well, now that is a pretty dramatic, heartless and cruel statement. How many hunger strikers who die protesting inhuman conditions does it take to make you a compassionate soul? What does it take for you to recognized basic human rights? I would really like to know. And what, sir, has been your everyday experience of “political turbulence?” What makes you so much more enlightened than the rest of us such that you are in a position to exclude people like Yoani from even hazarding a comment?

    Our dead bearded friend said: “Every single year in the United States, where huge metropolitan cities like Chicago and Cleveland and New York City witness mountains of snow, people freeze to death in their run-down apartments. This epidemic became so severe that Cleveland had to pass a law which forbade private landlords from turning off the heat for people who could not pay during the winter months, because SO MANY people where being killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year, literally freezing poor people to death.”

    Name one person who was “killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year.” Name one.

    Our dead bearded friend: “And that’s for people who HAVE a home in the United States. Every single year, literally hundreds of people die on the streets of cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago because they are forced to spend the night outside and the inside of their bodies are frozen.”

    Again, name one. Facts pal, we need facts.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “Even in San Francisco, which normally has a Mediterranean climate, this same problem is experienced and every year, at least a dozen homeless people die from just being left out in the cold. And this is in SAN FRANCISCO, a city that is normally warm!”

    This is getting tedious, give us some facts. Not baseless conjecture.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “The reason you are so shocked by the deaths at the Havana Hospital is because you have never heard of this before. For those of us who grew up in the US’s “rust belt,” it is an annual event to hear about people dying like this and knowing that the system will not change, and this will keep going on.”

    Factually incorrect, again. Where in the “rust belt” are you talking about? Name some names pal.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “And as for corruption scandals?! Please! Our entire political system is built on corruption — built on the idea that rich lobbyists bribe law-makers into doing whatever is in their interest and those without money are left with absolutely no say in what goes on in the government. And even with this system of legalized bribery, we STILL have people who go too far, who violate the few corruption laws we do have … and they end up staying in a “white collar prison” (i.e. a luxury hotel for the rich who are just waiting to get out so they can continue doing the same thing).”

    Is that the best you can do? REALLY? This is going to be easier than I thought. If you mean to justify corruption in Cuba by what you perceive to be corruption in other places then you have fallen into a classic trap. Like that makes the corruption in Cuba somehow ok? Seriously?! Wow, dude, you have some problems.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “No, sorry. There is no political tornado in Cuba. The tendency in Latin America right now is the Bolivarian Revolution, carrying Che Guevara’s dream of a united, socialist Latin America into reality in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, vast parts of Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay and on and on.”

    You really need to go back to the history books. I have a sneaking suspicion that you did not do very well in school. Che was a murderer. I am really sorry to have to tell you that. He killed people. Aside from that, he was a failure. Sorry.

    Our dead bearded friend said: “Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva la revolución cubana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez! Viva socialismo!”

    No, sorry again. All these things you so passionately support are failures. Let me put it this way, what you are advocating doesn’t work. Nobody wants it because it is a miserable system.

    Look, you seem like you might be good at synonyms.

    Here is your homework assignment: Find all the words you can think of that mean anything having to do with failure, murder, torture, extortion, pain, criminality, despots, and traitors, then you will understand the last 50 years of the castro dictorship. After that, why don’t you take up model building? Or playing with trains? Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  30. THINGS ARE GETTING DESPERATE IN CUBA! THEY ARE SENDING ALL “THE RATS” WITH “ALL THE RANTS/PROPAGANDA” TO STEM THE TITAL WAVE HEADING THEIR WAY!! YOU CANNOT STOP THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY! EVEN YOU “LA CHINA” & “THE MUMMY”!!!

  31. Hello all,

    http://hemosoido.com/

    The blog “Intramuros” by a team from Convivencia, suddenly posted NINE (9) entries yesterday…

    And because of a bad link in the translating site, we missed the last ELEVEN (11) entries from the Blog of Dimas…

    So we suddenly have a big back-up. A half-hour or so each from the faithful readers/translators here would set us on the path to clearing this backlog. Even if you can just do a rough transcription of one entry, that would be a big help.

    THANK YOU… YOUR FRIENDLY ENGLISH TRANSLATOR

    http://hemosoido.com/

  32. In Cuba, when a person chooses to die out of his own free will, the world condemns it and blames the government.
    When thousands of children die of starvation in the “free world”, nobody cares, nobody condemns it, and no one gets blamed.
    Hipocritas !!

  33. O Foro se esgotou politicamente.

    O neoliberalismo venceu.

    Ninguém mais quer viver na miséria.

    Todo mundo quer iPhone, entendeu ?

    .

    The Forum has run politically.

    Neoliberalism won.

    No one wants to live in poverty.

    Everyone wants iPhone, you know?

  34. Viva la revolución cubana! Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez!

    Viva nós.

    Esta tal de revolução bolivariana é vista como uma grande comédia.

    A Venezuela afunda e nós brasileiros vamos em frente, sem crise econômica.

    Viva a Revolução de 1964 !!!

  35. Jambalaia:

    Eu acho que vc precisa aprender mais sobre o seu governo. O PT eh um dos partidos primeiros em o Foro de São Paulo, o foro que ta formando a revolução em todas as partes da américa latina.

    Che Guevara, um criminoso? Haha.

    Viva la revolución cubana! Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez! Viva Lula da Silva!

  36. IN HONOR OF THE 200 (TWO HUNDRED) HUNGER STRIKERS IN GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA:

    A 31-year-old Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay who had been on a long hunger strike apparently committed suicide in 2009 after four prior suicide deaths beginning at 2002.

    Mohamed Saleban Bare, jailed at Guantanamo Bay for eight years, told AFP the prison was “hell on earth” and some of his colleagues lost sight and limbs and others ended up mentally disturbed (AFP, Hargisa, Somali, December 21, 2009).

    The U.S. government held more than 600 prisoners at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. A United Nations report singled out the Bagram detention facility for criticism, saying some ex-detainees allege being subjected to severe torture, even sexual abuse, and some prisoners put under detention for as long as five years. It also reported that some were held in cages containing 15 to 20 men and that two detainees died in questionable circumstances while in custody (IPS, New York, February 25, 2009). An investigation by U.S. Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the U.S. army-controlled Afghan armed forces.

    IN HONOR OF WILLIAM COLEMAN, CURRENTLY ON HUNGER STRIKE IN A U.S. PRISON (where is this man in the newspapers?):
    William Coleman, a British man who has been on hunger strike in a US prison in Connecticut since September 2007 can legally be force-fed by prison authorities, a court has ruled.

    2 HUNGER STRIKERS IN CUBA? A “POLITICAL TORNADO”
    200 HUNGER STRIKERS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CUBAN ISLAND? “NOT NEWS.”

    Viva la revolución cubana! Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez!

  37. The tendency in Latin America right now is the Bolivarian Revolution, carrying Che Guevara’s dream of a united, socialist Latin America into reality in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, vast parts of Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay and on and on.

    O capitalismo aqui no Brasil possui fortes raízes e nos todos sabemos que Che Guevara foi um criminoso. Aqui achamos graça, muita graça das palhaçadas do Chavez com sua revolução de incompetência.

    .

    Capitalism in Brazil has strong roots and we all know that Che Guevara was a criminal. Here we find grace, very funny antics of the Chavez revolution with its incompetence.

    Apart from the fact that our president has called on the strikers of common criminals

  38. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  39. This post by Yoani is sheer hyperbole. It is what so many people have already learned about the blogueros: they aren’t the place to go for accurate information.

    A “political tornado”? This is an absurdity, and reflects the lack of experience of someone who has never seen political turbulence before … someone who believes that one or two hunger strikers will change anything … someone who has become so isolated within a group of people who only tell them what they want to hear that they believe the universe revolves around them.

    Every single year in the United States, where huge metropolitan cities like Chicago and Cleveland and New York City witness mountains of snow, people freeze to death in their run-down apartments. This epidemic became so severe that Cleveland had to pass a law which forbade private landlords from turning off the heat for people who could not pay during the winter months, because SO MANY people where being killed by heartless landlords who would shut off heat during the coldest months of the year, literally freezing poor people to death.

    And that’s for people who HAVE a home in the United States. Every single year, literally hundreds of people die on the streets of cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago because they are forced to spend the night outside and the inside of their bodies are frozen.

    Even in San Francisco, which normally has a Mediterranean climate, this same problem is experienced and every year, at least a dozen homeless people die from just being left out in the cold. And this is in SAN FRANCISCO, a city that is normally warm!

    The reason you are so shocked by the deaths at the Havana Hospital is because you have never heard of this before. For those of us who grew up in the US’s “rust belt,” it is an annual event to hear about people dying like this and knowing that the system will not change, and this will keep going on.

    And as for corruption scandals?! Please! Our entire political system is built on corruption — built on the idea that rich lobbyists bribe law-makers into doing whatever is in their interest and those without money are left with absolutely no say in what goes on in the government. And even with this system of legalized bribery, we STILL have people who go too far, who violate the few corruption laws we do have … and they end up staying in a “white collar prison” (i.e. a luxury hotel for the rich who are just waiting to get out so they can continue doing the same thing).

    No, sorry. There is no political tornado in Cuba. The tendency in Latin America right now is the Bolivarian Revolution, carrying Che Guevara’s dream of a united, socialist Latin America into reality in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, vast parts of Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay and on and on.

    Viva la revolución bolivariana! Viva la revolución cubana! Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! Viva Hugo Chávez! Viva socialismo!

  40. MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL: Cuba: No more
    OUR OPINION: Castros deserve repeated condemnations

    With a few outstanding exceptions like Václav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia, Europe’s leaders have a deploraple history of painting a smiley face on Cuba’s police state.

    Not one of them would willingly live under a 50-year dictatorship. Yet faced with the abuses they would never tolerate within their own borders, they have tended to make excuses for the repression, systematic denial of civil liberties and coercive measures used by the Castro brothers to ensure the survival of the longest-lived tyranny ever seen in the Western Hemisphere.

    Anyone who still has illusions about the nature of the Cuban regime need only read the State Department’s latest human rights report, issued last week. It is a depressing, 12,000-word chronicle describing the many and varied ways by which the state continues to deny Cuba’s citizens basic human rights.

    Through it all, Europe has taken a markedly soft diplomatic approach to Cuba. Yet last week’s 509-30 vote by the European Parliament to condemn Cuba for the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo certainly represents a marked change from the tendency to look the other way when it comes to the Castros’ totalitarian behavior.

    Could it be that the veil has finally been lifted from Europe’s eyes? We won’t hold our breath, but Cuban human rights advocate Elizardo Sánchez rightly called it the strongest declaration on Cuba ever issued by European democracies.

    Europe’s line on Cuba is based on the notion that it would permit the continent’s leaders to establish credibility as friends of Cuba in order to nudge the regime toward a democratic political transition. As the shocking death of Orlando Zapata demonstrates, it hasn’t worked, and it won’t as long as Fidel and Raúl Castro are calling the shots.

    If Europe has been late in coming around, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has demonstrated a shocking incapacity to comprehend the plight of the Cuban people. As a former political prisoner, jailed for his labor activism under a military regime in Brazil decades ago, Brazil’s president should be able to relate to the misery and pain of Cuba’s political inmates. Instead, he has equated them to common criminals in Brazil’s prisons. How could he be so wrong?

    Perhaps like the Europeans, Mr. da Silva’s courtship of the Castro brothers is an attempt to show his independence from the United States and create the opportunity to act as an “interlocutor” between Cuba and other countries. If so, he’s going about it very badly. There is a thin line between “interlocutor” and “enabler,” and with his latest comments, Brazil’s president has made himself the latter rather than the former.

    As this is written, another Cuban dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, is staging a hunger strike to protest the violent and inhuman ways of the Cuban state. At last report, Mr. Fariñas was in frail condition and had been rushed to a hospital after two weeks of refusing food and liquids.

    It should not have taken the death by starvation of Orlando Zapata — and possibly more such deaths to come — for Europeans to awaken to the reality of Cuba’s government. Now that they are on the right track, they should stay the course.

    The Castro brothers have only one objective: to remain in power as long as one of them is alive. Only by calling them out for each and every transgression can the leaders of other countries help the Cuban people to achieve liberty.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/15/1529727/cuba-no-more.html

  41. HUFFINGTON POST: World Opinion Joins to Mourn, and Save, the Lives of Cuba’s Hunger Strikers
    March 15, 2010 02:50 AM

    Seven years ago this week, as the world was distracted by the start of the war of in Iraq, the Cuban regime rounded up 75 journalists and other democracy advocates, and subsequently sentenced them to decades-long prison terms. Some have since been released for health reasons, but the majority remain behind bars. In late February Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after an 82-day hunger strike, and now Guillermo “Coco” Farinas lies close to death on a hunger and thirst strike. Unlike 7 years ago, the world is now watching.

    I invite my readers to add your names to the petition you can find here, demanding the release of all of Cuba’s political prisoners.

    My guest post today, from Eugenio Leal’s blog Veritas, contrasts Fidel Castro’s words in praise of the Irish Hunger Strikers, with the regime’s actions towards its own peaceful dissenters today.

    e A Bronze Boomerang
    By Eugenio Leal

    The wheel of power believes that the death rattles of its victim are from ingratitude.
    Rabindranath Tagore: “Rhymes and Aphorisms”

    This coming Thursday, March 18th, will be the 7th anniversary of the arbitrary arrest of 75 peaceful advocates of democracy in our country. As usual, they have been demonized by the omnipotent power. Demonization has been the method used by the totalitarian form of government on this Island for the last 50 years. We remember that in the 1960s in the last century, those who dissented were called “worms.” With this epithet were stripped of their human dignity and so that the power could encourage mindless attacks on them.

    A long list of pejorative terms entered the lexicon to describe the opponents: traitors, sell-outs, scum, mercenaries, and annexationists, among others. They further malign them by adding the shameful stigma of crime. Given their total control of society and its institutions they can create phony records of criminal offenses. With this they purport to discredit their opponents’ political activity in the arena of national and international public opinion.

    The debacle of the government system is so great that the Cuban Communist Party has not been able to hold a new Congress, even after setting two tentative dates. The reality is that it has no programmatic platform, no credible plan to discuss with its own members and present to society. So unrest and demands for structural change are gaining strength.

    In this context they want to appear firm. They demonstrated this by allowing Orlando Zapata Tamayo to die of hunger in his strike for improved prison conditions. In the face of the world’s condemnation of that atrocity, they started the process of smearing him after death. They want to create the impression that he was a common criminal, they call him a mercenary who was being manipulated. This does not hold up in the face of his indomitable will even to death, and the repression deployed against him because he would not show submission.

    Demonstrating their characteristic arrogance, they think letting him die would stop this kind of protest. They behaved with the same malice that led them to summarily shoot the three citizens who hijacked a boat, hoping to ensure that the incident would not lead to a mass exodus. What they didn’t imagine was that a free citizen would make a decision to step into the shoes of Zapata Tamayo. Guillermo Farinas Hernandez, a licensed psychologist, is now taking neither food nor water; he leaves the regime unmasked, with all its miserable moral squalor open to the world’s view. The more certain its end becomes, the more absurd and irrational government’s conduct becomes. The rigidity, in the face of the just demands of a man who fasts in his own home, reveals to us how fragile and insecure the power really is.

    The government projects a face of altruism and justice to the world. But it is only an illusion. We see that in the Havana park that honors the French writer Victor Hugo. Here we find a monument to the memory of the Irish men who died in a hunger strike. The words of Fidel Castro, inscribed on the plaque, now return like a bronze boomerang to hit the regime:

    THE STUBBORNNESS, INTRANSIGENCE, CRUELTY, INSENSITIVITY BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FACED WITH THE PROBLEM OF IRISH PATRIOTS ON HUNGER STRIKES UNTIL DEATH, REMIND US OF TORQUEMADA AND THE BARBARITY OF THE INQUISITION IN THE MIDDLE AGES. THE TYRANT TREMBLE BEFORE MEN WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DYING FOR THEIR IDEAS, AFTER 60 DAYS OF HUNGER STRIKE! NEXT TO THIS EXAMPLE, WHAT WERE THE THREE DAYS OF CHRIST ON CALVARY, FOR CENTURIES A SYMBOL OF HUMAN SACRIFICE? IT IS TIME TO PUT AN END, THROUGH DENUNCIATION AND PRESSURE FROM THE WORLD COMMUNITY, TO THIS REPUGNANT ATROCITY.

    FIDEL CASTRO AUGUST 18, 1981
    68TH CONFERENCE OF THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION
    TO ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FOUGHT FOR IRISH INDEPENDENCE

    Eugenio Leal

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/world-opinion-joins-to-mo_b_498742.html

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