The Stigma of Prosperity

hoguera_de_vanidadesFor Cubans of my generation the idea of longing for success entailed the suffering of a terrible ideological deviation, not only if one tried to stand out personally, but also professionally or economically. We were brought up to be humble and with the imposed norm that if we received some public recognition, we would have to stress that without the help of the comrades around us it would have been impossible to obtain such a result. The same thing happened with the simple possession of an object, the enjoyment of a comfort, or the “unhealthy” ambition to prosper.

The desire to be competitive was punished with labels very difficult to expunge from our dossiers, accusations such as self-sufficient or immodest.  The success must be – or seem to be – common, the fruit of everyone’s labors, under the wise direction of the Party. And so we learned that self-esteem must be hidden and enterprising enthusiasm reined in. The mediocre made a killing in this society which ended up clipping the wings of the most daring while promoting conformity. Those were times of hiding material possessions, to show that we were the children of the self-sacrificing proletariat and to affirm that we detested the bourgeoisie.

Some faked their embrace of egalitarianism, even as in reality they accumulated privileges and amassed fortunes while repeating, in their speeches, calls for austerity. They reiterated in their autobiographies that they came from poor families and their main aspiration was to serve the fatherland. In time, their colleagues discovered that hidden behind the ascetic image was a diverter of State resources or a compulsive accumulator of material possessions. Even today, the mask of frugality covers their faces while their bulging abdomens tell a completely different story.


48 thoughts on “The Stigma of Prosperity

  1. What is the use of education if there is no freedom to use it … freely?
    The free expression of thought in the form of an opinion without the fear of been attacked or arrested or incarcerated …
    Perhaps the cuba does not express his/herself is because even at home one has to be careful about what he/she says, list one’s children in their innocense report you in case of dissent.
    Why risk talking when within the block there are people monitoring?
    After 50 odd years … radio bemba still exists in many forms, from speech to body language to hand signs …
    Perhaps you only hear what you want to hear … perhaps is not their desire to “distract” you but the knowledge that you’ll leave shrotly … while they stay & if not careful … might feel the consecuences …

  2. Chuck,
    If you are from the US, I hope in your lifetime your government will respect your right and every other US citizen’s right to travel to Cuba, and to freely associate and do commerce there if so desired.

    Each time I visit Cuba I am impressed at the level of education that Cubans at large possess; and without astronomical student loan debts! Maybe that’s why you find them to be so intelligent…
    It might be prudent to spend more time discovering your and your countrymen’s oppressors, before taking on crusades for the oppressed elsewhere.
    However, what is your definition of civilized advancement?
    I have never met a Cuban at a loss of words when it comes to expressing their feelings. Perhaps people hold back with you because they perceive your views quite contrary to theirs, and they prefer not to offend you and distract from the enjoyment of your visit with ideas they perceive you’ll find disturbing; such as the fact that most Cubans love their way of life, and sacrifice enormously to preserve that legacy for posterity! A few blogers do not speak for the millions that support their government and their right to self-determination as an independent, sovereign society; with its unique and cherished history.

  3. no … no misdirection, no twisting & manipulation of facts, no using quotes out of context … this blogg is about Cuba … at worst … does a wrong justifies a wrong?
    In the final analysis … let the people of Cuba have more than one party to choose from; let the people of Cuba have the benefits of FREE DEBATE AMONG THE CANDIDATES; let the people of Cuba FREE elections monitored by the UN or any independent authority …
    Since vamos bien in cuba … it should not be a problem, not even a threat to the status quo … given the “high approval rate” enjoyed by the rebolution …
    Once & for all proven beyond any doubts … noW THAT IS A CHALLANGE!!!

  4. I hope in my lifetime the truth will be told about the life in Cuba. People are oppressed and not able to advance in a civilized way. Each person in Cuba I met were intelligent unlike some countries I have visited in my life. One voice not open is a voice not able to express the true feelings of their soul. Cubans have a huge soul that is awaiting to sing a complete performance once the day comes. I hear you and read your words and they break my heart. To know that less than 90 miles from the United States people are starving, being tortured, being denied basic needs. One world one voice.

  5. I was born in Romania , a socialist country . We had jobs, free healthcare, housing ,free dentist, free school and university.We didn t have the right of association, free speech and couldn t travel easily.We had Voice of America and Radio Free Europe telling us how beautiful the capitalism was.

    In 1989 we did a so called revolution and finaly we got CocaCola, Nike,Adidas, Lily and Pfizer, banks ,malls .We got also crisis, unemployment, poverty , homeless people, ruined middle class begging on the streets ,emigrants ,pharmacies every corner but luck of medication,debts .

    Some people are very rich now but prosperity is a dream. Every national compagnie was sold for less than few dolars.So, i m asking myself , where is that happiness we were lasting for ?

    It s true Ceausescu was a tyrant ,it s true that all the human beings need to bee free to travel, to meet , to exchange ideas. Now more than 1000000 people are living in Western Europe working for nothing.Becaus today s Romania is worse than before.Before1989 the social protection was effective, now you can die on the streets nobody pays attention.

    I realy don t know what prosperity means nowadays but everybody is disapointed
    with this kind of progress.We are free to insult our governement, we have many newspapers with sexy girls and gossips, apartments fo rich people, corruption,new cars , cells .Is that a real prosperity ?

  6. Oh you want to talk about ideological deviation? Let’s talk about people who are arrested for their political views in the US. Let’s talk about George Bush, and Homeland Security, and how Bush knew he was sending innocent people to Gitmo:

    Forget ideological discrimination- these people were arrested, without a public trial, and put in a secret prison where they were tortured. And Bush knew they were innocent, however releasing them was not “ideologically expedient”.

    You want to talk about punishing prosperity?

    Well let’s consider how unemployment is surging among college graduates in the US:

    How the minimum wage has not increased since the 60s:

    How CEOs earn 612 times what their workers make. How FAILURE is REWARDED.

    The president of CitiBank and other who destroyed our economy have walked away with tens of millions of dollars in bonuses:

    How 75% of the richest people in the US inherited their money:

    These are FACTS, about the ugly side of America, where according to Harvard 44,000 Americans die every year from lack of health care.

    In Cuba your biggest problem is a lack of potatoes, and sometimes you get looked down on for being a communist. In the US we have secret prisons, and you may not have enough food to eat the next day, potatoes or even cake, if you aren’t “competitive” or the “Free Market” (the Great God of America) decides you are no longer profitable just by chance.

  7. COOPERTAIVA CHILE:Bloguero cubano: Chile debería estar presente en la autopsia de Baudrand

    El periodista y bloguero cubano, Reynaldo Escobar, disidente del régimen, sostuvo que la diplomacia chilena debiera solicitar estar presente en la autopsia del cuerpo del fallecido empresario Roberto Baudrand, fallecido hallado muerto el pasado martes.
    “Si fuera diplomático chileno en Cuba, solicitaría a un especialista que acompañara la autopsia”, señaló.

    Según Escobar, esposo de la también bloguera Yoani Sánchez, si en la isla no se cuenta con medios alternativos de información, los hechos relacionados con la compañía de lácteos, que está bajo investigación, pasan inadvertidos.

    “Lo más interesante alrededor de este asunto es la absoluta desinformación que tiene el común de los mortales aquí. Nadie en Cuba, que no tenga una fuente de información paralela, conoce los escándalos de corrupción que giraron alrededor de esta empresa Río Zaza”, señaló.

    Además, el bloguero aseguró que es muy difícil que el régimen de Raúl Castro realizara interrogatorios-secuestros a un empresario extranjero por la investigación a la empresa, que es mitad propiedad de Max Marambio y la otra mitad del Estado cubano.–chile-deberia-estar-presente-en-la-autopsia-de-baudrand/prontus_nots/2010-04-14/203629.html


    WALL STREET JOURNAL: Chile Presses Cuba Over Death of an Executive -APRIL 14, 2010
    Chile’s government on Wednesday asked Cuba for an “exhaustive investigation” into the death of a Chilean executive in Cuba who worked for Max Marambio, a former top Cuban spy whose business empire is under investigation by Cuban authorities.

    The death of Robert Baudrand, the top executive in Cuba of Alimentos Rio Zaza, a food processing company jointly owned by Mr. Marambio, a Chilean businessman, and the Cuban government, is the latest twist in a murky saga surrounding Mr. Marambio, a Fidel Castro protegé who became one of Cuba’s top businessmen but who appears to have fallen from grace with the Castro regime.

    Cuba has been investigating Mr. Marambio’s businesses and Mr. Baudrand, though it was unclear what the probe concerned, Chile’s foreign ministry said. “We only know that they are doing this investigation but we, at least, do not know of any specific charge that has been formulated against the companies or against Mr. Baudrand, Chile’s foreign minister, Alfredo Moreno, told reporters in Santiago Wednesday. While Mr. Baudrand hadn’t been detained, “he had had to go to see the police a number of times,” Mr. Moreno said.

    Chile said it had been informed last week that Mr. Baudrand was prohibited from leaving the island, and called in the ranking Cuban diplomat in Santiago for an explanation.

    Mr. Baudrand was found dead in Havana on Tuesday, Chile’s government said. It was awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

    Mr. Marambio, who lives in Chile and frequently visits Cuba, said in a statement Wednesday that news of the death of Mr. Baudrand had been “received with pain and consternation.”

    Mr. Marambio and the Cuban government split the annual profits of about $9 million from the Cuban food-processing operations of Alimentos Rio Zaza, according to a former Cuban official living outside the island who knows the company. Mr. Marambio’s holding company International Network Group owns 50% of Rio Zaza, his lawyer Eduardo Contreras said. Mr. Marambio also is part owner with the Cuban government of Sol y Son, which provides travel and aviation services, according to the former Cuban official.

    But now, Mr. Marambio, 63, appears to be at odds with the regime. Cuba’s government has retained $23 million of funds associated with Alimentos Rio Zaza that should have gone to Mr. Marambio’s holding company, according to Mr. Contreras. Mr. Marambio declined to comment.

    The Cuban government didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

    Some Cuba analysts say a probe of Mr. Marambio’s businesses could be part of a broader corruption scandal unfolding on the island. Others say he is a casualty of the rising influence of Raúl Castro, the ailing Fidel’s younger brother, who many say doesn’t get along with Mr. Marambio. Yet another view is that the Cuban government is angry at Mr. Marambio for his backing of a maverick candidate in Chile’s recent presidential elections that divided the leftist vote and cost the ruling leftist coalition the presidency.

    Mr. Marambio has been a longtime darling of the Cuban regime. As a student leader in Chile, he went to Cuba in the mid 1960s and received guerrilla training. Under Cuban tutelage, he returned to Chile to head President Salvador Allende’s personal guard.

    Following the 1973 military coup in which Mr. Allende died, Mr. Marambio made his way back to Cuba, where he rose to lieutenant colonel in the Interior Ministry’s elite Special Troops.

    After serving in many clandestine missions, Mr. Marambio became one of the top decision makers in Cuba’s largest company, Cimex, an import-export company run by the Interior Ministry.


    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Estefans open Miami home to Obama, stirring debate-By CHRISTINE ARMARIO (AP)

    MIAMI — In the realm of Cuban musicians and entertainers, Gloria Estefan has been revered as the community’s first daughter, the child of exiles whose songs of love and country are a staple in any music collection.

    Now the songstress is taking on a new role: On Thursday, she and husband Emilio Estefan will host President Barack Obama at their Miami Beach home for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

    It’s a political act that has drawn both condemnation and admiration in this traditionally Republican community, where the younger generation has been trending more Democratic.

    “They represented our community with much dignity and class throughout their entire career,” said Val Prieto, founder of the conservative Cuban-American blog, Babablu. Now, Prieto says, he’s disappointed.

    “It just leaves a real bad taste in my mouth and a lot of the people in the community,” he said.

    Some have dismissed her as a traitor to the Cuban cause. Others praise her for grabbing the president’s ear on an issue that remains at the forefront of South Florida politics, five decades after the 1959 revolution.

    Whatever the interpretation, they are the most famous Cuban Americans to come out in support of a Democrat — an act that many say is emblematic of a community whose political orientations have been shifting.

    “The fact that they’re openly engaging the Democratic president, I think, speaks to the shift that is taking place in the Cuban electorate itself,” said Fernand Amandi, executive vice president of Bendixen & Amandi, a public opinion research and consulting firm in Miami that has surveyed Cuban Americans.

    A 2008 poll of 800 randomly selected Cuban-Americans found that younger and more recent immigrants were less likely to be Republican than older generations: Among those 18 to 44, 42 percent identified as Republican, compared to 66 percent of those age 65 and older. A majority in the younger age bracket said they voted for Obama.

    And while Latin pop singer Juanes’ recent “Peace Without Borders” concert in Havana drew attention to the most radical segments of the Cuban American community who condemned the concert, another poll found that a majority had a favorable opinion of the event.

    “The perception in the United States is that this is a monolithic community,” said Jaime Suchlicki, an expert on Cuban affairs at the University of Miami. “That is not accurate. This is a very diversified community.”

    The Thursday fundraiser reflects a growing relationship between the couple and Obama. Gloria Estefan sang at the White House for a Latin musical heritage event. Emilio Estefan was appointed by the president to a committee that will study a potential National Museum of the American Latino.

    Freddy Balsera, a friend and Democratic consultant, said the Estefans are registered independents who voted for and support Obama. He noted that they also had good relationships with both previous Bush administrations.

    The Estefans were both born in Cuba and together became musical luminaries, winning Grammy awards and fans across the U.S. with crossover hits like “Conga” and “Words Get in the Way,” in addition to helping the careers of other artists.

    They were not available for comment on Wednesday, a representative said.

    “I think from Gloria and Emilio’s perspective, they’re at a point in their lives where patriotism matters a lot,” Balsera said. “And the issue of human rights and democracy in Cuba is a tremendous priority for them.”

    The Estefans have become increasingly politically active. Last month, Gloria Estefan led a march through the streets of Miami in support of the Ladies in White, a group of wives and family members of political prisoners in Cuban jails. The march attracted thousands and led to similar events in New York City and Los Angeles.

    Balsera described their activism as “pure,” saying neither is interested in political office.

    While other Cuban musicians have stepped into the political waters that divide the U.S. and Cuba — Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot supported similar causes — none have had a similar level of success in raising awareness and drawing supporters, said Jaime Suchlicki, an expert on Cuban affairs at the University of Miami.

    “And the reason is one, it was Gloria Estefan,” Suchlicki said. “Number two, there is a belief that things are getting hot in Cuba.”

    But the fundraiser — a $30,400-per couple cocktail reception — has hit a nerve.

    “Mention the Estefans and many no longer conjure up images of freedom and catchy tunes,” columnist Jackie Bueno Sousa wrote in The Miami Herald. “Now — rightly or wrongly — many associate the name with Obamacare, abortion, powerful unions, creation of a welfare state.”

    Prieto recalled attending the Estefans’ early performances at weddings and birthday parties, and said he knows all of their songs by heart. What upsets him is not just that they’re supporting Obama, but the Democratic party.

    “I was incredibly disappointed,” Prieto said.

    Lisandro Perez, a sociology professor at Florida International University in Miami said the Estefans have usually been on “the right side” of Cuban American politics.

    The fundraiser is a small step out of line. “But if what you want to do is to influence a president to maintain current Cuban policy, it’s smart,” Perez said.

    Some say that’s a viewpoint more are starting to agree with.

    “Talking to folks and interacting with folks around town, it is a very, very small but loud minority that has been critical of this,” Balsera said. “I think generally speaking people are proud the president is coming to our city, and that he’s going to be in the home of a very well respected Cuban American family.”



    Buena Fe insulta a las Damas de Blanco

    JOEL GARCIA’S BLOG-“Un Cubano en Canarias”

  12. What is really contradictory is that Cuba is a centrally planned economy where

    Trains and buses are never on time
    food is missing and there is great scarcity of everything etc etc.
    So they do not get any of the so call “benefits” of planning!

    So what is the purpose of planning then?

    Capitalism takes a different approach

    As Adam Smith

    Let the invisible hand do its job!

  13. Julio:
    you are so right … the sadness for the talent abondoned, lost or not nurtured …

    The statement you keep on comming back to was clear from the start, the comment made by our abusive & disrespectful “friend serves to reflect the mentality & its caracteristics of close mindness with no purpose.
    These are the kind of people the regime created thru their indoctrination in the schools, these are the future … with intolerance, cruelty & egotism.

  14. This is a fragment from the article I posted before

    To me, the iPad is Disneyland.

    I like Disneyland. It’s clean, safe, and efficient. There are lots of entertaining things to do. Kids can drive cars; adults can wear goofy hats with impunity. There’s a parade every afternoon, and an underground medical center in case you get sick.

    All of this is possible because of central planning. Every restaurant and store on Disneyland’s Main Street is approved in advance by Disney. Every employee is vetted by Disney. Disneyland wouldn’t be Disneyland without central planning.

    I like to visit Disneyland, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

    There’s a reason the restaurants in Disneyland are bland and stodgy. It’s not just that centralized decision processes like Disney’s have trouble coping with creative, nimble, and edgy ideas. It’s also that customers know who’s in charge, so any bad dining experience will be blamed on Disney, making Disney wary of culinary innovation. In Disneyland the trains run on time, but they take you to a station just like the one you left.

    I like living in a place where anybody can open a restaurant or store. I like living in a place where anybody can open a bookstore and sell whatever books they want. Here in New Jersey, the trains don’t always run on time, but they take you to lots of interesting places.

    The richness of our cultural opportunities, and the creative dynamism of our economy, are only possible because of a lack of central planning. Even the best central planning process couldn’t hope to keep up with the flow of new ideas.

    This can be easily translated into the differences between a centrally planned economy and capitalism economy.

  15. Again about the movie Amadeus
    I love the part at the beginning when Salieri is giving his confession to the priest and he plays a melody on the piano and ask the priest if he knows it? and plays another etc and the priest can not recognize any and then he plays one more by Mozart but without mentioning to whom it belongs and the priest not only knows it but he is even able to complete the notes!

    How many Cubans could have made Cuba better than what it is today?
    How many have being loss due to an egocentric leader?

    I know some brilliantly smart people that were not able to finished their education because at some point in their life they where not cheer leaders to the regime. I know these people personally.

    Does a dictator has the right to trump life for people in that way?
    These people could have contribute so much to Cuba!
    But yet they choose the mediocre followers and cheer leaders.
    The mindless masses that chant
    “Esta calle es de Fidel” but will turn on a dime if they are not compensated for the chantings!

  16. Damir did you read what I wrote?

    Did you missed the part about “This is a fictional movie about Salieri or
    should I highlight and explain what fictional means.

    I am sorry to be a bit condescending and paternalistic it is not really my style but you definitely did not understand what I wrote.

    The movie that we all know is a fictional take on Mozart and Salieri, raised very interesting points that are applicable and I saw happening in Cuba’s society.
    When those in power value more the people for the unconditional alliance and not for their real talents. If you get surrounded by YES people most likely you will be wrong many many times. Because you have surrounded yourself with all the fan boys and girls when what you should have done is to listen to everyone. After all you are not only ruling over the fan boys and girls but over everyone!

    On another note I think is an extraordinary movie. There is another extraordinary movie also by Milos Forman

    one flew over the cuckoo’s nest with Jack Nicholson on the main role and the famous Nurse Ratchet.

    Nurse Ratchet is the representation of the paternalistic state like Cuba.
    Nicholson is freedom, He may be righ or wrong but he is freedom. Those are movies that you see in one or two hours but think about their message a life time!

  17. t seems that the “agresive commentators” using the space in this blogg are made from the same mold.
    Perhaps they were “molded” by the intransigent doctrine inculcated in the mixed education from their days in school.
    I see the same modus operandi of insult, abuse & arrogance.
    Their thought process follows the same method from identity to identity almost as if it was one person using different names.
    The tone, the manerisms their command of facts & figures, laws & regulations … from other countries.
    Is their effort dedicated to disseminating the “good word” of communism in cuba?
    Or perhaps is directed as a counter meassure?
    Regardless, their behaviour represents & validates the attitude of the regime they attempt to defend.
    While doing that … the don’t seem to realize how they come across to the world, thru the web & in this blogg.
    The value of respectful listening, understanding & the honest attempt to comprehend another point of view with an open mind, tolerance & humility in a discussion is a foreign concept & thought to “all these people” evidenced by their attitude & their comportment, to say how they feel entitled to relate to anyone who differs w/their opinion.
    I guess the present cuban educational system created them … & their parents followed the “law” to the letter … perhaps to their dismay …

  18. This is a very interesting article while is talking about a comparison between Apple and Disney’s business practices what is being said in the article really applies also to why people dislike a paternalistic system like Cuba.

    The Cuban regime the paradise of economical central planning that could not predict their own economic downfall!

    If all countries in the world were to be model after Cuba’s economy then the whole world will stop producing.

  19. GREAT PIECE FROM NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO’S MEDIASHIFT:Will ‘Telecentros’ Transform Cuba’s Internet Access?-by Anne Nelson, April 14, 2010

    It wasn’t your typical keynote address.

    Earlier this month, at an event held on the campus of Cornell University, a room of people gazed at a blank screen in rapt attention, listening to a woman speak over a weak cell phone connection originating in Cuba.

    The speaker was Cuba’s 32-year-old star blogger, Yoani Sanchez. The event was the seventh annual meeting of Roots of Hope, an organization founded by Cuban-American students that aims to promote cultural exchanges with the island. Its April meeting was specifically focused on new media. (I was invited as a panelist.) Attendees had been told that the keynote speaker would be a surprise. After a nail-biting series of dropped calls, the attendees were thrilled to hear Sanchez finally come on the line.

    Sanchez told her U.S. audience how she had assembled her personal computer by foraging for discarded components, and devised an online publishing strategy that relied on scarce computers, cell phones, and flash drives. Last year, her blog posts and tweets earned her a spot on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    Sanchez epitomizes the Cuban online community’s ingenious response to the dual restrictions of government censorship and the U.S. trade embargo. Some call it the “hacker mindset.” In the same fashion that Cubans manage to keep the chassis of 50 year-old old Chevys on the road, a small but growing Cuban tech community has learned how to go online against the odds.

    Thanks to cooperation from other countries in Latin America, a new attitude in Washington, and the work of NGOs, Cuba may be poised to make big online strides.



    UNITED LIBERTY ;Colluding with Castro-Wed, 04/14/2010 –

    Antonio Rumbos, a writer from Washington, DC, sent this to UL for publication. His work has previously been published at Reason.
    In the wake of Google’s recent decision to stop colluding with the Chinese government in censoring online content, I feel obliged to point a finger in the direction of a certain global corporation whose behavior should be stirring more journalists to labor. Americans routinely and casually use express mail companies like DHL to send and receive parcels from around the world, but Cubans like Yoani Sánchez must subject themselves to theft and humiliation when attempting to use its services.

    In a March 26 post in Generación Y (click here for the English version), Sánchez recounts her failure to collect ten copies of her new book, Cuba Libre, from the DHL branch in Havana. The copies had been mailed to her by her publisher following Sánchez’ previous failure to secure permission from the island’s dictatorship in order to travel to Chile and present her book in person––like anyone living outside of Cuba and within the Western Hemisphere would be able to. According to the craven employee from the DHL branch in Havana with whom Sánchez spoke, her package had been “confiscated.” “When headlines around the world are announcing the end of the Google’s collusion with Chinese censorship,” Sánchez writes in her brief entry, “foreign companies located in Cuba”––like DHL–– “continue to obey ideological filters imposed by the government.” On April 7th, the Cuban customs department sent Sánchez a hand-written notification, informing her that her package of books “threatened the general interests of the nation” and had been “confiscated”––echoing the DHL employee’s term––for this reason.

    DHL is not only failing to meet a standard of common human decency by behaving in this manner, it is also failing to meet its own publicly stated ethical standards. In the “Code of Conduct” section of their website, DHL informs its potential customers that it has “devised a code of conduct that has applied to all regions and divisions since the middle of 2006.” [Italics mine.] Such a code, we are told, serves as an “ethical compass” for roughly “500,000 employees in their business lives everyday.” Among the “key pillars of this code of conduct” the company includes such qualities as “tolerance, honesty, and candor as well as willingness to assume social responsibility.” The website also cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, and International Labor Organization conventions as forming the international basis of the company’s “code of conduct.” The section ends with the following affirmation: “Fundamental principles are observance of human rights, equal opportunity, transparency, and clear stands in the battle against discrimination, bribery and corruption.” Such drivel makes one laugh, since the only code of conduct this corporation is following appears to be economic expediency. DHL has apparently acquiesced to the Cuban government’s totalitarian demands in return for continued access to a market. Rather than observe human rights, DHL is facilitating their continued violation in the case of at least one––and one very important­­––Cuban dissident.

    The Communist regime’s hatred of dissidents, particularly the insightful and independent-minded Sánchez, is nothing new. Fidel Castro’s personal abhorrence of the liberal understanding of justice Sánchez embodies has always been evident. In the prologue to the 2008 Cuban edition of the book Fidel, Bolivia y algo más…, (a sympathetic take on Castro’s visit to Bolivia in 1993) Castro describes Sánchez as being among those “young Cubans” who are “especially sent to carry out the secret work of the neocolonial press” at the behest of a “former Spanish metropolis that rewards them.” The metropolis Castro referred to was Madrid, where Sánchez had been invited in 2008 by El País in order to accept one of the prestigious Ortega y Gasset Journalism Awards. On that occasion, as in several others, Sánchez was denied permission to travel by the government. Today, the local branch of a global corporation allows itself to become the handmaiden of Cuban tyranny by stealing Sánchez’ property upon its arrival from Spain.

    Does the DHL branch in Havana collude with the Cuban government in this manner as a matter of policy, or is Sánchez’ experience a “privilege” reserved for prominent dissidents like herself? Journalists and Latin America specialists would render a valuable service to Cuban civil society by helping to uncover the degree to which this allegedly reputable corporation is collaborating with the only police state in the Western Hemisphere.

  21. MIAMI NEW TIMES: Top Ten Cuban Bloggers You Haven’t Heard Of- By Erik Maza, Wednesday, Apr. 14 2010

    Yoani Sanchez is on the cover of Italian Wired this month. In the three years she’s been online, the 32-year-old blogger has become Cuba’s Arianna Huffington.

    She’s now a twitterer, a blogger on the actual Huffington Post, and her blog gets 14 million page views a month, according to the New York Times. Last year, she even interviewed Obama. But there are other Cuban bloggers toiling away behind computers. Here are some you’ve never heard of.
    1. Octavo Cerco: If Iranians used social networking sites, like Twitter, to organize street action, Cubans use their blogs. Claudia Cadelo, a young French teacher, updates her blog on a near daily basis, like a stock ticker, with the slightest political tremors en la isla. She says she’s followed by secret police. A badge of honor, for sure.

    2. Boring Home Utopics: La Habana is really like Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham. This is the place to see it in all its decrepit glory. Orlando Luis Pardo, a photog, first took to the web when a state publisher dropped a book of his after he criticized the government online. He decided instead to publish the whole book on the blog, and now runs it as photolog.

    3. Penultimos Dias: When you’ve fallen behind on your island news, go to Ernesto Hernández Busto’s blog. It’s a regularly updated aggregator of all things Cuban. Published from Spain, it’s probably the best written of all the blogs, with regular contributions from censured writers still living in the country.

    4. Laritza Diversent: Another young blogger, Diversent advises Cubans what their legal rights are under the country’s spotty, rarely adhered to, constitution. Last year she blogged on the Huff about police beatings.

    5. Re-evolucion: Sometimes it’s easy to read these blogs and shrug them off: Depressing! But Alain Saavedra’s is written in the young, pissed-off voice of the hip hop DJ that he is. On a recent post, he ragged on a youth concert sponsored by the government because it didn’t invite any reactionary bands, like Porno Para Ricardo. Coincidentally, Saavedra was one of the people who received Porno frontman Gorki Aguila when he returned to La Habana last month.

    6. The Voice of El Morro: Only 11 percent of the population has access to the internet. The government only grants free passwords to a small group, and for the other half it’s unaffordable. Think of El Morro as Cuba’s digital soapbox. It’s a collection of grim testimonies from random residents, like a woman whose husband is on a hunger strike.

    7. Voces Tras Las Rejas: In 2003, some 20 journalists were arrested for writing
    critical stories on the catastrofuck that is daily life in Cuba. The crackdown earned the nickname the Black Spring. All of the people arrested are still in jail, but they update this blog with stories on what it’s like to be a political prisoner.

    8. Desde Aqui: Of the 200 estimated blogs, some 25 of them have a journalistic bent, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reinaldo Escobar, who used to be a reporter for the state press, has been furiously covering the recent spate of protests in the wake of dissident Zapato Tamayo’s death, paying special attention to Las Damas en Blanco that inspired Gloria Estefan’s march on Calle Ocho.

    9. Fake Cuban News: Recent headline: Russia’s Centers for Medical Sciences Ready To Embalm Fidel When Necessary. Been reading our death-meter, have you?

    10. El Auditorio Del Imbecil: All the blogs use the interwebs to mock El Maximo and rail against the inadequacies of the government. But Ciro, a 31-year-old Jason Mraz-ish musician, does it in song.

  22. Trudeau

    I know they leave, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Gonzalito Rubalcaba and many others, but they can’t shine in Cuba.In the other hand they are many that are still in the country that you may haven’t heard of yet.From classical music players artists to Hip Hop artists. A perfect example was Buena Vista Social Club they were in obscurity until Ray Cudder rescued them.
    But the “Salieris and Mozarts” I was talking about were not just the musicians but the scientists,economists, doctors , professors , lawyers, farmers,veterinarians, do you have an idea how many talented computer kids are there.Talent from almost every field just wasted in a lost revolutionary cause.Many of them in jail by the way.

  23. Damir
    I think you are missing Julio’ s point.Your attack on him is in my opinion kind of vicious.It’s like you were waiting for him to make a mistake.The fact is Milos Forman created a fictional film based in some truthful facts. It happens all the time in Hollywood.Hollywood writers take an idea and the distort the facts here and there to create a “good feeling kind of movie”.Movies of sports figures are the perfect example, “The Blind Side” is the latest on this kind of movie.
    Lets focus in the real issue here.The political prisioners ,Coco Farinnas. Do you have anything to say about that?

  24. .

    English text below

    Caro rubro zorro da postagem nº 9

    Me causou espanto a afirmação veemente de certo general de que naquela época não houve tortura, quando todo brasileiro conhece o regime de censura, tortura e desaparecimento de opositores do regime naquela época

    Todo brasileiro daquela época conheceu uma grande crescimento econômico, uma grande oferta de empregos e um grande auemnto de oportunidades de crescer em um país pouco desenvolvido.

    Aparecerem as indústrias de base, praticamente podíamos entrar em contato com qualquer pessoa devido a imensidão do país.

    Os militares brasileiros obrigaram as esquerdas a participar do governo de forma civilizada e não fazendo o uso de armas. Não lembro de ninguém ter me pedido autorização para sair matando os outros. Lembre-se que pouco mais de 500 terroristas morreram e mais de 300 militares foram mortos por eles. A maioria da população desejava prosperidade e não terrorismo alienígena chinês, já que na época o “paredon” liquidou a imagem de Fidel.


    Dear rubro fox posting No. 9

    Me stunned the vehement assertion of the right general at that time there was no torture, when every Brazilian knows the system of censorship, torture and disappearance of opponents of the regime at that time

    All that time he met a Brazilian economic boom, a large supply of jobs and a great auemnto opportunities to grow in an underdeveloped country.

    Appear basic industries, we could hardly get in touch with anyone because of the vastness of the country.

    The Brazilian military forced the Left to join the government in a civilized way and not making use of weapons. I do not remember anyone having asked me permission to quit killing each other. Remember that just over 500 terrorsitas died and more than 300 soldiers were killed by them. Most people wanted peace, not terrorism alien Chinese, since at that time the “paredón” settled the image of Fidel.

  25. Mozart & Salieri’s relationship is as it was, a relationship.
    Most opinions are just the interpretation of people in the bases of their own perception; to argue about who is right or who is wrong about it would likely never come to a solution.
    The history of this friendship is based on shal I say “historicay heresay” based in wor of mouth & interpretation of documents.
    Unless one was there … how can one “prove it without doubt”?
    The point is in the spirit of the illustration.
    While at it how about reading the following from the Cuba Constitution Article 12:

    repudia la intervencion directa o indirecta en los asuntos internos o externos de qualquier Estado y por tanto, la agresion armada, el bloqueo economico asi como cualquier otra forma de coercion economica o politica, la violencia fisica contra personas residentes en otros paises u otro tipo de injerencia y amenaza a la integridad de los Estados y de los elementos politicos, economicos y culturales de las naciones

    and then:

    g)califica de delito internacional la guerra de agresion y conquista, reconoce la legitimidad de las luchas por la liberacion nacional, asi como la resistencia armada a la agresion y considera su deber internacionalista solidarizarse con el agredido y con los pueblos que combaten por su liberacion y autodeterminacion.

    Now, lets put aside the ambiguity of the language of “e & g” & consider the text & its significance as to the letter & the spirit of it.
    On “e”
    the direct or indirect INTERVENTION into the internal or external busines of a state in ALL its forms is REPUDIATED.
    On “g”
    cuba consideres it its “internationalist duty” to solidarize with the state/s under attack & with the people/s who do combat for their liberation and autodetermination.
    So here we are … so what is the right or the wrong here?
    The mayor difference is:
    how is “the law” INTERPRETED & the enforcemed of it is JUSTIFIED.

  26. In fact they even wrote a few musical pieces together, Salieri was always promoting Mozart on his travels, and Mozart wrote letters in which he described Salieri’s enthusiasm for his music during public performances in theatres.

    If anything, the two were good friends and respected each other.

    But it takes stupid dissident and an anti-commnunist to turn a historically confirmed friendship into antagonism that is as false as the frase “democratic capitalism”.

    Little wonder. After all, capitalists took the power from the kings by a bloody revolution, terrorism, illegal usurpation and – my favourite – ARMED REVOLUTION.

    But marx forbid soemone else takes up the arms against the stupid capitalists; TAHT is illegal and terrorism.

    Dictatorship no less. Disrespect for the “law”!!!!!

    Hipocrisy is the real name for conservative right unable to accept its’ own ineptitude.

  27. Here’s why right is always wrong:

    Julio de la Yncera (Silent Voice)
    Abril 13th, 2010 at 07:20

    This post reminds me of the movie Amadeus by Milos Forman. This is a fictional movie about Salieri a.mediocre composer in the court of Viena and how he makes life difficult for Mortzar the true genius composer!

    It is not casual that the director Milos Forman is from one of the former communist countries. The movie seem to be a critical statement to the absolute regimes that seem to surround themselves with all the YES people while they stop listening to the people that they should have been listening!

    The end result of this mode of action we can see.
    There is a price to be paid when one is surrounded by mediocrity the chorus of voices who’s only interest is to benefit themselves in some way.

    A right winger calling upon another right winger, both being emigrants, living in a capitalist country and complaining about their homelands only because they disagree with the political system. Conservative nonsense at its’ best.

    Why is this such a typical and senseless nonsense?

    Because Salieri was NOT Mozart’s antagonist and Salieri was DEFINITELY NOT a mediocre musician. Stupid Milos Forman created a horribly distorted picture of a great composer and musical teacher to many generations of musicians of that time.

    But stupid Milos Forman had to create a capitalist cinematographic template-conforming antagonism in the movie to promote his own self-serving and historically WRONG movie that is actually a piece of crap even as an artistic attempt.

    Salieri was not even competing with Mozart. They were two highly prized musicians of their time, each excelling in his own right.

    But to explain that to an ignorant derechista is a lost cause. Nothing reasonable can get into a limited intellect, and the truth is the thing that is outright forbidden.

  28. Fariñas’ Health Worsens

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

    The Health of Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, who has been on a hunger and thirst strike for a month and a half, has worsened over the last few days due to a possible bacterial infection that caused him to suffer high fevers in addition to extreme weakness. His condition was aggravated this past Sunday when his doctors decided to remove parenteral nutrition, according to Europa Press.

    Clara Pérez Gómez, wife of independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas, told Europa Press that her husband complains constantly of joint pains throughout his body.

    “He is unable to even open his eyes and he has no desire to speak,” she said.

    His family is waiting for the results of a hemoccult test, even though they fear that his symptoms are due to a bacterial infection contracted from a catheter, similar to the Staphylococcus aureus infection which caused him a severe infection a few weeks ago and which Fariñas attributed to the sanitary conditions at the Provincial Hospital Arnaldo Milian in Santa Clara, where he has been admitted since March 11th.

    The doctors attending him decided to remove the catheter which they were using to administer saline and hydration to treat his elevated temperature.

    “My husband has not received any nourishment since Sunday morning,” his wife said.

    Fariñas, who is 48 years old, had been being fed intravenously with different high concentration sugar solutions, glucose, amino acids, vitamins and other factors which were meant to relieve the level of dehydration that caused his hypoglycemic shock in March.

    This situation, Pérez Gómez complained, could further worsen his health. He has said that he is determined not to abandon the hunger and thirst strike which he started on February 24th to condemn the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo and which he is continuing in order to secure the release of 26 political prisoners in Cuba who are gravely ill.

  29. The above posting is one of those times that Yoani makes her arguments so eloquently that it’s really hard to know what to add.

  30. Spanish Congress Asks For Freedom For The Political Prisoners
    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    The Spanish Congress approved a resolution on Tuesday asking for freedom for all of the “prisoners of conscience” in Cuba, according to the Associated Press.

    The initiative, similar to one approved by the European Parliament, was presented by the opposition Popular Party (PP), which at the last minute negotiated with the governing Socialist Party (PSOE) a series of changes to the document to move it forward.

    In the end, the resolution received 327 votes in favor, 7 against and 4 abstentions. The same text which was approved in March by the European Chamber in Strasburg, condemns the “cruel and avoidable death” of the dissident Orlando Zapata, who died in February as a result of a prolonged hunger strike.

    The resolution also urges Spanish authorities to work to end the voluntary fast currently underway by Guillermo Fariñas which he has undertaken to gain freedom for the political prisoners.

    The resolution asks the government of Raúl Castro to authorize visits by the International Red Cross to prisons on the island and also authorize visits to those same prisons by the Human Rights Advocate of the United Nations.

    Finally, the document summons the Spanish Chief Executive to “put in place the basis for a future of national reconciliation, respect for human and fundamental rights and a sustainable improvement in the quality of life for the Cuban people.”

    The conservative PP accepted language reiterating reference to defending the Common Position of the European Union, a position that conditions full relations between Brussels and Havana upon changes in the communist system on the island and which the Spanish government wishes to modify.

    The spokesperson for foreign relations of the PP, Jorge Morages, signaled that democratic Spaniards feel the “suffering” of their friends, the Cuban people.

    “Now is the time for this chamber to send a signal of support to the democratic opposition in Cuba,” Morages said a few minutes before the vote. “As long as the women who support the dissidents and they themselves (the dissidents) put their lives on the line, Spain and Europe cannot remain silent.”

    For her part, the spokesperson for the socialist side, Elena Valenciano, considered it fundamental to maintain a “critical dialog” with all sectors of Cuban society and she affirmed that the Spanish Embassy in Havana is open to opposition groups.

    The Spanish Senate will vote on Thursday on another initiative, which is practically identical to the one approved on Wednesday by the Congress. They are hopeful that it will also move forward.

  31. Concubino,

    The talented just leave. You have no idea of how many great Cuban jazz musicians there are in Toronto. Hilario Duran is perhaps the oldest and the best, but there is a constant stream of immigrant talent. Jane Bunnett, a local flautist, has made a career of teaming up with Cuban musicians who are usually a bit better than her, but she has helped many to get out. The Castros don’t seem to have any aesthetic sense whatever, and one the striking things about Cuba is how ugly most of the post-revolutionary architecture is.

  32. Antonio Salieri was not that bad,actually he was pretty good it just happens that he lived during the same time as Mozart did who was true genius. Contrary as many people think Salieri was a very important figure who could write opera in three different languages.

    Does anybody has an idea of how much damage these Castros are done?. How much human talent has been silenced, becuase in Castro egocentric, megalomaniac and narcistic mind to dissent is to be a traitor?. Does anybody know how many “Mozarts” and even “Salieris” live in obscurity because only Castro can shine . What a shame of a country.A disgrace of colosal proportions is our Cuba.

  33. Minha Cara,
    sou brasileiro e nestes dias uma grande rede de televisão levou ao ar uma série de entrevistas com generais da época da ditadura militar (64-84). Me causou espanto a afirmação veemente de certo general de que naquela época não houve tortura, quando todo brasileiro conhece o regime de censura, tortura e desaparecimento de opositores do regime naquela época.
    Imediatamente me veio à mente a situação dos presos por opnião em Cuba e as declarações das autoridades desse pobre país de que não existem presos políticos em Cuba.
    Me parece que esquerda ou direita são rótulos que as ditaduras escolhem ao sabor dos eventos políticos para mascarar o que no fundo são na essência: ditaduras.
    Saudaçoes fraternas

  34. There are “contributors” here who get “perturbed” when their commens are not answered.
    Unfortunally for them, the simple truth is there is no obligation to answer to any comment, we (I) can choose freely to listen, to comment & to answer to any comment.
    That is the nature of this blogg & if the commentator has a track record of being abusive & insulting …

  35. “reflexions of a simple man”

    One would like to think that the rightousness & legitimacy of the present goverment of cuba, as the representative of its people does not need defense or justification, rather the open publication of all its acomplishments so as to use them as becons & guiding examples for every nation …

  36. Wealth-envy is endemic in Cuba. I have watched while all the best palladares in Havana are closed down. The most missed is La Guarida on Concordia, which for years operated openly outside the rules. It had a large staff, and probably six times the maximum permitted tables, but it must have fulfilled some function for the state because it was allowed to continue, and to be the most recommended eatery in the city. I never could get the story of why it was closed, but the consensus is that the owner simply got too rich. He even has an apartment in Madrid. This is intolerable to the regime — the only people who live comfortably in Spain are either Cuban artists, or the children of the apparatchiks, such at the son of Eusebio Leal. Tourists are condemned to the profoundly second rate establishments of the state, with their bow-tied, incompetent staff and inflated checks. Of course, if your name happens to be Fidel, you can have a good restaurant right next to your compound. It is callled La Finca, and the chef, Erasmo, is at the chefe’s beck and call. For some reason it doesn’t seem to be on the lists of tourist restaurants at all.

  37. In the existence of an oligarchy in the rebolution …
    A term bandided about by the rebolution, while not necessarily having the understanding or perhaps a product of the selective education by means of indoctrination.
    This elite, imposes limits on what constitutes the acceptable & respectable position of the people in this rebolution.
    The politicians or so called leaders come to “want” this leadership roles not for their commitment to the goals of the rebolution but for the status & inherent rewards that come w/the position which eventually turns conservative because their need to preserve the organization rather than threaten it by any radical decision, hence the “no changes” in the status quo.
    Even when the claim is that the people runs the rebolution, the reality is that the day to day running of it is impossible to the mass membership.
    So once this is accepted … enter the professional & permanent full time lider from whom directions are followed.
    In theory the leader/s are subject to the control of the people thru delegate conferences etc. and the people’s vote (participation) but: the reality is that the leaders are the ones in control since they are the ones w/the know how running the rebolution’s machine.
    So: te communist democracy ny representation & accountability crashes under the weight of the rebolutionary oligarchy …
    Neat is it?

  38. This post reminds me of the movie Amadeus by Milos Forman. This is a fictional movie about Salieri a.mediocre composer in the court of Viena and how he makes life difficult for Mortzar the true genius composer!

    It is not casual that the director Milos Forman is from one of the former communist countries. The movie seem to be a critical statement to the absolute regimes that seem to surround themselves with all the YES people while they stop listening to the people that they should have been listening!

    The end result of this mode of action we can see.
    There is a price to be paid when one is surrounded by mediocrity the chorus of voices who’s only interest is to benefit themselves in some way.

  39. “reflexions of a simple man”
    Something must be working as a result of the comments in this & other bloggs about present day cuba.
    More & more I get to hear the strident comments from the rebolutionaries, more & more I get to hear their “point of view”
    As I hear them, I can help but wonder at their sense of entitlement, at their arrogance & lack of kindness & sensibility.
    Wonderous of their facility to hurl insults, at the ease in which they manipulate facts … from other places but their own.
    It does not surprises me however because as I said before: the belief that “the end justifies the means” is projected using what they believe is an entitlement of theirs … their bought (I know at what price) freedom of expression.
    The resources used in the atempt to “counter” the free expression of a dissenting point of view, the time & space used by this individuals whereas in Cuba or not …
    is a proof of this “something” & its worth.
    I must thank them all for validating what is going on, not just here but in many places; I have no doubt about the validity of my stance, rather your presence & contributions to this blog represent a source of strength & conviction to my hopes.
    Again, I thank you for your contributions, I thank you for exercising your ability to choose, regardless of your very secret motivations & purposes for which & because of you do what you do … I give you my understanding.
    Please, contribute often, “talk” please! because the more you “talk” the more we learn, the more we learn about what you do protect & support … I hope you realize it, when the time comes we (I) will make sure it won’t be done again, we won’t let it happen … again.

  40. Even w/the “birth of the new man” the traits of the old remain …
    I’ll say it again & again & yet again HUMAN NATURE is the redeems the abberrations of a “new order”
    As a theory, born in the smokey rooms of pseudo intellectual diletants communism was & is just a theory.
    This vain theory attempts to “change” what man IS … & as I quoted from engels & lenin … by brute force.
    Years later … still in the “struggle” while the elite directs … the people starves & stagnate.
    In the case of Cuba (w/capital C) not the present cuba w/a c:
    all attempts to have Cubans forget their natural qualities, their talen & intelligence, their passion & godness fail & will fail.
    The individuality of the Cuban remains … indomitable, unchanged thru this parody.
    If not to be believed … read history, but don’t read the “revised version of he present regime, not their self serving version.
    Read about Maceo, about Marti, read what they REALY WANTED & DREAM FOR THEIR CUBA …
    Yoani … translator:

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