“Elections? What for?”*

pioneritaeng2What a long road it was that led me from little Pioneer guarding the ballot boxes, to the adult with several years of abstentions on her record. In our school uniforms, my sister and I went on suffrage Sundays to perform our martial salutes every time someone put their ballot in the slot. I remember at least three reasons for participating in those elections: we still believed in the power of the people; It was impossible to say “no” when the teacher – with all her authority – summoned us; and, in addition, in those days they distributed very tasty bread and cheese. No wait, to be honest I forgot one, because they also gave us fruit juice, in wax containers, which was otherwise impossible to get in the midst of so much rationing.

With the coming of the nineties, many of those children who had been guardians of the elections evolved into young people who annulled their ballots with statements in between exclamation marks. I remember the first time I entered the wooden booth and I was ready to deface the piece of paper where they had put a “vote for all.” A neighbor warned me not to even think about writing a slogan in place of the docile X next to the names, because each ballot had an identification number. “They will know it was you,” he warned me, and related stories of people reprimanded for having done something similar. But there are certain moments in life when any scolding or punishment doesn’t matter.

Later, on reviewing the number of friends and family who had invalidated their ballots, it didn’t correspond proportionally to the figures given on TV. Either those who claimed to have marked graffiti instead of giving consent lied, or it was the official statistic that didn’t match reality. Thus, I went from the second phase, boredom, to the position of those who have completely lost confidence in the process of selecting a candidate for the People’s Power. So now I stay home every election Sunday. I don’t know if they still distribute bread and cheese to the children who guard the ballot boxes, but they are still sending them to knock on the doors of the defaulters, to ask them to go to the polling station. Perhaps, all things being equal, some of them will turn 16 and take the red pen to scribble on their ballot, or adopt – as I have – abstention as a form of protest.

* Slogan expressed by Fidel Castro during the first year of the Revolution in response to those calling for presidential elections in the country.

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149 thoughts on ““Elections? What for?”*

  1. while man may rule Cuba today … the rulers have not been able to “get rid” of Him, in the long run … they had to acnowledge Him …
    Take that for power … just by faith & w/love, not by the force of a gun … not by hours long speeches, not by false promises & lies … by FAITH ALONE.

    SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT all self appointed (or not) representatives and/or defenders of the rebolution!

  2. Once again ever so sublte you attempt to use humor as irony in order to prove your point (whatever it might be).
    While doing so you expose your utter disregard & lack of respect for other people’s beliefs & feelings while affirming your attitude of “the end justifies the means” all just to try & prove a point
    I hope you take notice, the people of Cuba shows their need Christ in their lives; They choose to put their faith in Him & his power not just for redemption but solace & confort, for spiritual strength in their lives & hope for their souls …
    “Men does not live of bread alone”

  3. still no answer …
    Execept for your attempts at misdirection & deflexion …
    I like to remind you: there are lots of people who read this (& other) blogg from all over the world, they may not contribute but they read & they research & they listen …
    Then they make up their minds if the so choose … FREELY!
    Remember also you have choosen to represent not just Cuba & her present regime, you have choosen to represent a political philosophy which in large has been proven by life itself, not by mere thoughts or slogans as a failure to the people, perhaps is in the transition from the idealist”s concept, to the intellectual platitudes, to the ideologues finally ending w/the brutal attempt of execution by the people who are already intoxicated by the “honey of power”.
    Something to reflect upon …

  4. “the little questions” … are in #153 …
    See you don’t read … you “read” not to understand but to “counter” you have not learned to “listen” perhaps because you are not looking for solutions and/or answers … as a self appointed representative of the rebolution you just proved its “attitude” …
    Make up your mind …

  5. 142Barbara Curbelo

    Mayo 8th, 2010 at 19:01
    Albert – you are beginning to sound like a Nerd. Just ask the questions you want others to answer, and let’s get on with logic on the site. Be succint.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Personal attacks……. that’s what you only can ultimately….. are you not ashamed???

  6. Albert – you are beginning to sound like a Nerd. Just ask the questions you want others to answer, and let’s get on with logic on the site. Be succint.

  7. still the matter of the other “little questions:
    Regardless …we get into this long discussions about who did & does what to whom, when & how …
    Not often I hear/read one positive solution, I only see/read put downs, insults & abuse, most times than not by the defenders of the rebolution.
    I am willing to “agree to disagree” since the possibility of “convincing” others even thru a respectfull dialoge is remote.
    We the people (I belive) can make a difference if we so choose.

  8. 139Barbara Curbelo

    Mayo 6th, 2010 at 10:14
    Yes, that’s right, you did not state your position on the “Wet-Foot Dry Foot” policy exclusively afforded by the US State Department to Cubans.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Wet-Dry feet policy must be abolished…… Cubans no need it to stay in USA or wherever they arrive….. the staying in the receptor country is guaranty by castrofascism that does not let come back to Cuba any Cuban with more than 11 month out the country or any Cuban that had make use of the illegal figure in Cuban civil code known as “definitive leaving”…… yes, I know dear readers…. I know it is something not easy to understand for you but it is so….. Cubans when leaving the country has to decide and chose between stay in Cuba or leave forever!!!!!…… the reason for such a abuse is simple…. regime prefers Cuban that not love tyranny out the country forever and at same time needs empty housing to offer it to regime’s thugs as “miss losada”….. there you have she fighting in this site for one of the houses left by exile Cubans!!!!

  9. Yes, that’s right, you did not state your position on the “Wet-Foot Dry Foot” policy exclusively afforded by the US State Department to Cubans.

  10. by the way … there is the matter of a few “little” questions ignored for an answer …

  11. Read w/an open mind, intending to understand the whole of what is said.
    The exercise of reading, looking for where to “pick” instead of trying to understand is si,ilar to someone not listening but rather (in a conversation) thinking what to say next …
    Context … context …

  12. .. about illegal imigration … does the word illegal means anything …
    Most countries of the world have very stiff & enforced rules when it comes to illegal imigration, look at Mexico’s.
    Most countries have a depotation agreement w/the country of origen, some w/the stipulation for the “illegal” to bear the cost of repatriation, restriction of travel & surrender of passport.
    All this after a short process of investigation.
    What justifies the breaking of the law, the law of imigration? I am sure many things, moral, economic, political … etc.
    But while criticized about what the US does to stop the illegal aliens … the citizens by law pay for health & education & unemployment insurance just to mention a few benefits.
    Every so many years amnesty is granted to a large number of illegal aliens & their status as resident is granted … which it does not say much for the aliens who followed procedures to enter, work, reside & perhaps become citizens of the US.
    Lastly since the US is rife if injustice, discrimination, abuse & every cancer of society … WHY IS IT THAT SO MANY PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD WANTS TO MAKE THEIR LIFE IN THE US?
    I presume because they want to sell their children in the sex market, become drug addicts, prostitutes & commit barbaric crimes while living of the system.
    Or because they want to surender their individuality, have no freedoms like of speech, of travel, of expression etc.
    Again why so many people other that her citizens wants to live in the US?

  13. It is easier yet to see things from only one point of view colored by a predisposition to negativism.
    Perhaps is justified by a kind hearted quest for justice or a misguided sense of fairness.
    The reality is that in a large percentage cases of abuses of the law in the US, even by law officers are very low.
    In this day & age, w/all the access to the technology of communication it is virtually imposible to “hide” or “get away” w/such things.
    The accountability factor is rather large & not just by the meassures of the law but by what any person at anytime can film, picture and/or record at any given moment w/no restriction.
    All this thoughts & theories of a world conspiracy of “powers that be” mostly inspired by their greed & vision of conquests are perhaps a reality (to a point) to a small percentage of the world’s population …hey … between the masons, the catholic church the skull & bones, the gladios etc etc … paranoia has to reside somwhere … if nothing else it sells books.
    So … if this moral burden is so oppresive & you are in the US… emigrate to paradise but if you are a citizen, don’t forget to turn your passport in, if you are a legal resident renounce your status when leaving … since paradise will be waiting for you & it will be so good … you won’t come back.
    On the other hand if you are not in the US well do the same … since where you are it must not be paradise …

  14. Yeah, I guess it’s probably better to have to raise millions of dollars from corporate interests and be beholden to them, in order to run for public office.

    It’s probably also better, when foul play is evident, to have a recount denied by the highest state election official who happens to be a best “friend” of a candidate’s brother; who also happens to be governor of that very same state, and who appointed that official to her post.

    It also makes all the sense in the world to have elections in which friends of the incumbent are in charge of the workings and managing of vote computers.

    And all this without special observers from the international community!

    … pardon the sarcasm.

  15. Humberto, I’ve was privy to the horrific and unwarranted police brutality at the World Trade Organization protest in Miami. Elderly labor union leaders were arrested as they were boarding their buses to go home, listed as John Doe or Smith, and deprived of vital medications and access to families, lawyers and friends for days. One young man lost vision in an eye from the beatings. A young Italian actress was made to change into prison uniform in the presence of mocking male jail police personnel, etc. Now that’s police brutality! It’s not new either. Here, students have been shot and killed at a college campus by the National Guard for peacefully protesting with permits, and they were not obstructing traffic or in any way disregarding the terms of their permit. The international press never blames the US government for violations of basic human rights and US constitutional rights, instead the actions are consistently blamed on individual officers or guardsmen as if they had acted on their own accord while in uniform. Those ‘ladies in white‘ have been marching weekly for some time now and no one cares. But, when you resist authority anywhere in the world, the force of the law will prevail. Now, if you’d like to see the best show of ‘force of the law‘, resist any authority in the US, be it a city policeman, a highway patrol, the FBI, NSA, Homeland Security’s ICE officers, or even Black Water paramilitary carrying out their duties in the interest of the top economic 10% of the US population. As a matter of fact, anyone can make a citizen’s arrest in a nation with a history of ethnic and racial discrimination. Read about what happens to men, women and children crossing the Mexican border into the US. They have been shot by militia nuts and nothing happens; no one cares.

  16. fidelious babosi will name him “hero of the rebolution” for his heroic contributions to the safety & well being of all cubans …
    Sorry raulensis parasitus will do that …

  17. Humberto:
    Try this name from a “representative of the cuban law”
    Carlos Luis Bernal Rubio.
    I am sure fidelious babosi you’ll encounter him to be a rebolutionary cuban in good standings.

  18. correction in ##127
    I meant to say follwing after
    -“priviledged elite”
    -” …the elimination of repression, poverty, exploitation, lack of education & medical care were the inspirations as well as equality for the cuban people, fidelious babosi entered Habana on the shoulders of that inspiration …”-

  19. So the great divide exists …
    The “have’s & the have’s not” still exist … while regular cubans wait for their transportion to come they can observe the late model cars go by …
    “Dying of hunger” while I don’t remember reading about it (perhaps someone can “cut & paste” it for my education) I remeber reading & hearing about the shortages, rationing & late to never delivery of luxuries like foods stuff, clothing, shoes etc.
    Black markets flourish when the availability of things is “not there” how cuban people “pays” for this luxuries is w/work, bartering, stealing & prostituting etc.
    Some do it for necessity, some for greed, some for power … while MANY cubans line up to enter the nightclubs, well dressed I w/money to spend.

    Batista was thrown out because of his greed, abuse of power, corruption, for the existence of the wide gap between the regular people & the “priviledge elite”. Repression. poverty, exploitation, lack of education & medical care were the goals as well as equality for the cuban people, fidelious babosi entered Habana in the shoulders of those ideas.
    Today after 50 odd years …
    Cubans are still repressed, exploited & abused, the wide gap still exists …heck! it flourishes aided by the same corruption, by the same elite w/the same inspirations … power & greed.
    BUT … LET US NOT FORGET … NOW WE ARE EDUCATED WHILE EXPLOITED, WE ARE WELL CARED FOR BY OUR HEALTH SYSTEM WHILE REPRESSED & WE ARE (HOWEVER UNGRATEFUL) LIVING THANKS TO THE REBOLUTION IN A LAND OF PLENTY … OF RATIONS, SUBSIDIES … & DEPENDECY WHILE BLAMING ANYONE BUT THE REBOLUTION FOR OUR PROBLEMS.
    So lets tighten our belts & sacrifice just a littel more … it will get better … “vamos bien…

  20. Ecellent post 122 Juan. DO not expect, however, that it will reach the skulls of the conservative audience. They are vaccinated against anything that may be good and positive in Cuba. Doesn’t help their violent cause. And contrary to what they are telling us the article also confirms a number of points to be just plain lies. First, the local tourists are cash-wielding lot. According to this “Yoani” bunch Cubans are dying of hunger. Then, just one agency mentioned in the article sends 8 busses of people every day to Varadero. That is 400 people every day. How many agenices there are? Five would make 2 000 people every day. If it was only during the August, that is 62 000 people with money in Cuba.

    I saw by my own eyes thousands of cubans super well dressed and driving modern cars, lining up to enter the discoclubs in Havana. Every night. Sure there are people without the money. But there are also MANY people with the money.

    Another thing this article demonstrates the “Yoani” team to lie about is that people are struggling. Yes, there may be many jobs poorly paid, but the black market has been described as huge. So people do have money because the black market couldn’t exist. And not only that. The market is HUGE. This misconceptions conservative liars and Castros have in common: that there is no money.

    The money always finds its way into the economy. That is why Raul should start economic recovery as soon and as fast as possible, through smart planning though. Too fast could screw up the country and result in unnecessary tensions. And socialism expoding is just not the thing Cubans need. They need Raul and his creeps to lay off and start appreciating their own people. Start respecting them and allowing them to grow together with their country. Socialism IS superior to capitalism, but not with the economic ignorants like the two brothers.

  21. Chango,

    I am not sure why you are getting so hot and bothered. I simply made the point that Raul changed what was an unconstitutional rule. My larger point — that very few Cubans have anywhere enough money to eat and drink in the luxury hotels — seems to have escaped you. This is a reverse of the 18th century law in Paris that prohibited sleeping under bridge — a law that would not affect the rich. The question of color prejudice is a complex one in Cuba. For the record, and this is consistent through all my posts, I find the regime highly repressive and controlling, and the whole apparatus of control, from the CDR’s to G-2, is abhorrent to me. You seem to lump me in with Juan, with whome I agree on almost nothing.

  22. 123juan

    Abril 26th, 2010 at 21:36
    OK back to my real paid (je je je!)job. Will return in another day or two in a vain hope of factual responses.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Don’t be silly thug….. we all know you do not decided about staying or leaving….. it is your superiors that are pushing you out this discussion because your weak rhetoric only works for uncover the ridiculous thinking way of all you castrofascism thugs….. the readers are no stupid and you are not writing for misinformed and indoctrinated Cubans but free citizens in a free world that learns a lot about the incredible hellish life conditions of Cubans not through our words but through your words….. that’s why your boss-thug is trying to get you out in same way he/them got out the other thugs that came here before to play ridiculous…… same happened in Spanish site and a lot of other sites in the web where thugs has been auto-banned….. good look dirty agent…… ah…… and don’t accept to be part of the paramilitary mobs castrofascism throw on Ladies in White and other peaceful opposites……. all thugs that harass the Cuban people are now under surveillance and a database with their identity has been created in order to bring them in front the Justice in the near future……. take it easy and don’t commit any crime…. remember…. your superiors will be the first in denounce you …. they going to try to save their skin and going to testify against you…….. you don’t believe me????….. try to learn a bit about what happened in the former “socialist countries” after liberation.

    http://www.pinceladasdecuba.com/2010/04/cubarepresion-id-rostros-de-la.html

  23. 122juan

    Abril 26th, 2010 at 21:34
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Let’s to be answered by a reader of the very article:

    “”miabanera, August 12, 2009 13:53 ET
    Good observation, something I wasn’t aware of, but the answer is quite simply this, since the Obama administration changed the remittance policy which now allows any Cuban-American to send as much money as they want to their families in Cuba, and travel without time restrictions; the impact must somehow be a cause-effect factor from both these changes in policy. The sad part is that as you mentioned most Cuban nationals do not make enough to enjoy these restaurants and beaches on a constant basis, and the other thing is they must convert what they earn into CUC (convertible currency) and lose 25 cents on each dollar they spend, which is a fee collected by the Castro government. Also, not all Cubans despite this policy change benefit, those who do not have family abroad get no remittances, and those the government can arbitrarily discriminate against, are not permitted near tourist areas. The way I see it, the people of Cuba do not get to enjoy their country in the same manner that foreign visitors can. The cash strapped government of Raul Castro is willing to do anything to increase tourism to the island, already in decline from the global recession. It is an act of desperation on behalf of the government of Castro, allowing Cuban nationals access to their emptying hotels (which they own and run with foreign investors) and not an ideological shift or improvement in the horrid economic and political conditions under which they people of Cuba live.””

    So, the very poor in arguments agent is presenting an achievement of the Cuban nation in exile as an achievement of castrofascism!!!!!…….. typical…… it is not first time castrofascism take other achievements and present them as own…….. same with health care and education, ancient achievement of Cuban nation presented by castro as own.

  24. OK back to my real paid (je je je!)job. Will return in another day or two in a vain hope of factual responses.

  25. “Given that the average wage on the island is less than $20 a month, the change was largely considered a symbolic one at the time. But this summer, something unusual has been happening up and down the beach at Varadero. The hotels are filling with cash-wielding locals.

    Every morning in front of Havana’s stately Capitolio, a caravan of air-conditioned tour buses arrives to pick up Cubans who have purchased discount package deals to Varadero’s all-inclusive resorts. For less than $200 per person, they can get a week-long stay that includes transportation, lodging at a three or four-star resort, and a plastic wristband entitling them to as much food and alcohol as they can consume. In a country accustomed to rationing and other austerity measures, that’s a ticket to fantasyland.

    One employee of a state-run tourism company said his agency was sending 400 Cubans to Varadero each day, creating a surge in business during what is ordinarily the low season for international tourism. Many of Varadero’s upper-end facilities are still full of foreigners, but the more affordable resorts have been jammed with Cubans all summer.

    “I’m having a great time,” said Erick Llanio, a Havana resident sitting poolside with his family at a resort called Cuatro Palmas. The all-you-can-eat buffets were especially novel to him.

    The sudden arrival of so many Cubans can be a challenge for hotel managers, and there have been some accounts of pilfering from hotel rooms and decimated buffet tables. While foreign tourists tend to prefer reading and lounging quietly in the sun, Cuban beachgoers often like loud music — using their vacation time to party, not to relax.”

    August 2009 …a little more topical than the old videos listed below as ‘evidence’.

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/cuba/090807/at-cuban-resorts-the-end-apartheid

  26. I just came from Cuba! have you been there?”
    How does Castro pay me if I don’t go there? Be consistent at least. je je je!

    “Why can you engage in a debate about Cuba’s problems?”…well so far I have refuted your statements about discrimination against cubans having cold bears in bars, families visiting resorts and the ability to pay in CUC.

    I just don’t write in black and white absolutes like you and your ilk.
    If you are so keen on debate – not that you have ever given any evidence of that commitment why don’t you read your compatriot’s recent article and tell us all where he goes wrong????

    http://thehavananote.com/2010/04/
    OK time to do what I am actually paid to do.
    Will check again in a day or so but I bet that you haven’t substantiated ANY of your accusations.

    WELL I WAS CORRECT.Not one factual response.

    Can Cuban families go to resorts and hotels go to resorts and hotels? Of course they can.
    How am I paid by Castro? SILENCE.
    How does hotels charging in CUC discriminate against Cubans when ANYBODY can readily exchange CUP for CUC? SILENCE.
    Comment on the Havananote article? SILENCE.

  27. WALL STREET JOURNAL : Women Who Brave Mobs -Cuba’s Ladies in White are getting leaned on by Havana’s toughs. -Story of Dania Virgen García, arrested blogger!-APRIL 27, 2010

    For more than a month, Cuba’s Ladies in White have been getting leaned on. Castro’s goons have taken to surrounding them after the women go to Mass in Havana and march for their loved ones in prison. Now Dania Virgen García is in prison.

    She didn’t have a loved-one in a Cuban jail when she began processing through the streets of Havana with the Ladies in White on Sundays. But she decided to join them in solidarity against the unjust imprisonment of husbands, fathers and brothers rounded up during the Black Spring of March 2003 and handed harsh sentences for speaking their consciences. She was one of a growing number of women there who call themselves “Ladies in Support.”

    On April 22 state security arrested the young blogger, and less than 48 hours later she received a prison sentence of one year and eight months. She has been sent to the country’s largest maximum security prison for women, known commonly by Cubans as “the black veil.” It’s easy to guess why they call it that.

    The regime’s assaults on independent thinkers date back 51 years. But Ms. García’s arrest is not without significance. It is the clearest sign to date of the regime’s desperation in the face of popular discontent.

    Ms. García is what Cubans call an independent journalist. Carmen Ferreiro, director of information and press for Human Rights Cuba based in Miami, says she met Ms. García online “toward the end of 2009” and helped her get her blog up and running. The two women exchanged emails. “This is how in a short time I came to know that Dania was very devoted to her Catholic faith, that she spoke affectionately about her family, that she enjoyed photography and struggled despite limited resources for human rights in Cuba.”

    Ms. Ferreiro reports that Ms. García knew she was under surveillance and explained the threat in an email: “Things in Cuba are not well at all, but I am going to continue this struggle to the death or until whatever they want happens; I will continue to support the Ladies in White, even if they continue to beat us, because what they want is for us to be afraid and we are not going to allow that to happen.”

    Though without Dania now, the Ladies in White surely will be walking in the face of an increasingly dangerous mob again this Sunday. The world might want to take notice.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703465204575208343522388902.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

  28. Mariel Castro daughter of Cuban leader( Dictator) Raul Castro in a debate with Yoani. Yes!, this video is “old news”, but I asked: What have changed?

  29. John Two

    Abril 26th, 2010 at 19:01
    changocubano, Trudeau’s views on Cuba are quite different from those of juan.

    Trudeau told us a bit about himself in the previous thread if you want to check it out.
    ===================================================================================
    John,

    I don’t take personal anything Trudeu or Juan said here. To me, it is irrevelant their ideologies or motives to support Castro, or whether they are friends of foes of Castro. I don’t come here to make friends, but to expose the regimen’s brutality and segregatory practices. I was a victim of Castro’s dictatorship, and I learned here in the U.S something interesting about the jews, THEY NEVER FORGOT WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR ANCESTORS!, so I am going to exposed the truth.

    Tradeu, stated that the video is old, kind of dismising it as a “old story”, I don’t care whether it happened 40 years ago or yesterday. It should have never happened!, plus he is twisting the reality of Cuba, but portraying the majority of Cubans as comfortable with the discrminatory practices when he stated that only a “few well off friends complained”. Really?, just a few Cubans are mad about being segregated in theri own country?, that is a preposterous allegation, and far from the truth!

    Why he has not come back to debate about it?. There are too many “extranjeros” here talking about a Cuba they barely know. You can’t figure out a country and their culture by visiting few weeks. In fact!, I have been here in the U.S for several years, I am fluent enough in english to talk to americans and I am still learning about the culture. So imagine in a country like Cuba, where slang is the language of choice when it come to politics. The Cuban people have been forced to wear a mask, one for the regimen, and the other one for themselves. We have to learn how to comunicate in slang, using words that imply more than one meaning, in order to protect us from being labeled as “counterevolutionaries”. Neither Tradeu or Juan are going to camuflage Cuba’s reality with retorics, twisting words or portraying a reality far from the truth. Why are they do not engaging a debate with me?, I don’t know, but I am sure I have the advantage. I speak Spanish, and Cuban slang. I was born and raised there!

    You can’t fool people with retorics!

  30. WASHINGTON POST: Dissidents steal headlines from Cuban election- By PAUL HAVEN-The Associated Press -Monday, April 26, 2010; 5:31 PM

    HAVANA — Nearly every eligible Cuban cast ballots in a vote the communist government proclaims is proof of the island’s democracy. But if headlines were made, it was by six elderly women standing under an ancient ficus tree, enduring seven hours of insults and obscenities for demanding political prisoners be freed.
    Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. complains the foreign media makes way too much of a small, divided dissident movement that has little sway with ordinary people. But the government has helped draw attention to the women – known as the Damas de Blanco, or Ladies in White – by choosing, with no explanation, to start blocking their small weekly protests after seven years of tolerating them.
    Wayne Smith, a former top American diplomat in Havana, said the unwanted attention began when the government decided to take a hard line.
    “The Damas have been marching for a long time and it hasn’t raised any problems” for the government, said Smith, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for International Policy who has long argued that the U.S. should lift its 48-year trade embargo on Cuba. “Suddenly, when the Cubans say, ‘You can’t march,’ then there’s a story. Then the press comes out.”
    Indeed, after years of obscurity, the women have become a cause celebre among Cuban-American exiles in the United States. The move to quash their protests has many in Washington wondering if Havana is trying to scuttle relations that seemed on the mend just months ago.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said this month that Fidel and Raul Castro could be creating a crisis because they don’t want America to drop the embargo, which she said gives them a convenient excuse for their revolution’s failures.
    Ricardo Alarcon, head of Cuba’s parliament, scoffed at the notion on Sunday.
    “Mrs. Clinton is a very intelligent woman and I don’t want to be rude with her,” Alarcon said. “If she really believes the continuation of the embargo is in the benefit of our government, it’s very simple for her to ask Congress to lift the embargo.”
    Alarcon, the highest ranking Cuban official to respond to Clinton, made his comments as he voted in nationwide municipal elections that the government says are the most democratic in the world.
    There are secret ballots in which Cubans can choose between more than one candidate, and preliminary results announced Monday showed that nearly 95 percent of eligible voters took part. The government says the vote contradicts the Washington-driven image of Cuba as a single-party totalitarian state.
    “These elections reaffirm that our people will never surrender and will never sell out,” said a headline in the state-weekly newspaper Trabajadores, or Workers, on Monday.
    But few outside Cuba took notice of the vote. There was no debate on policy and the results were never in doubt. While candidates did not have to be members of the Communist Party, most were in good standing with authorities and the outcome means little politically.
    Even Fidel Castro made no comment on the election in a lengthy essay published shortly after the polls closed that railed against American military designs. The 83-year-old, who stepped down as president in 2008, voted in abstentia and did not appear publicly.
    For the media, the real drama was elsewhere, in a shady park in an upscale neighborhood of Havana, where the Ladies in White stood without food or bathroom breaks through hour after hour of earsplitting harassment.
    The group has demonstrated every Sunday since their husbands and sons were arrested in a March 2003 crackdown. Their marches, down a leafy boulevard called Quinta Avenida, used to draw little coverage and only a smattering of curious onlookers. State security kept watch from afar but rarely intervened. Usually, fewer than 10 protesters have shown up.
    But the death of a jailed dissident hunger striker in February shined a new spotlight on Cuba’s human rights record. The women marched for seven days in a row in different parts of the city in March. Cameras were there to show them roughly bundled onto a bus at one of the events.
    That prompted sympathy protests led by Cuban-American pop icon Gloria Estefan in Miami and actor Andy Garcia in Los Angeles. Cuban officials bristled, denouncing what they saw as a global campaign to discredit the revolution. On April 11, officials informed the women the protests would no longer be tolerated.
    That afternoon, dozens of pro-government counter-protesters were waiting outside Santa Rita de Casia Church, where the Damas celebrate Mass. When the women tried to march, security officials put them on a bus and took them home.
    Similar conflicts have been repeated the next two weekends – with counter-protesters hurling abuse at the women for hours before they were put onto a bus. The counter-protests are not violent, though they are intimidating.
    On Sunday – the day of the municipal vote – the six Damas who turned up moved to the shade of a huge ficus tree, its trunk as large as a car and with vines hanging from its branches taking root in the soil below. They stood there for seven hours as government supporters shuttled in and out in shifts to shout at them.
    This time, scores of foreign journalists were there to watch, even if Cubans who happened past paid little attention, some playing baseball, oblivious to the disturbance nearby.
    Juana Gomez, who joined the Damas in sympathy but is not a relative of one of the original 2003 political prisoners, told The Associated Press the women would continue to march “come what may.”
    She said she thinks authorities picked a confrontation with the Damas to sabotage any chance for improved relations with the United States.
    “Better relations aren’t at all convenient for them,” she said. “What they want is to be in the same fight as they’ve been in for 50 years.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/26/AR2010042602883.html

  31. changocubano, Trudeau’s views on Cuba are quite different from those of juan.

    Trudeau told us a bit about himself in the previous thread if you want to check it out.

  32. I guess we will have a time without the dirty agent in this site…… the poor agent has been hit by several consecutive lightning of Chango!!!!!
    Facts thugs, facts!!!!

  33. changocubano!

    YOU ARE THE NEW AND BETTER “AVALANCHE”!I PASS THE CROWN WITH JOY! WE NEED TO SHOW THOSE PARTICIPATING IN & READING THIS BLOG WHAT WAS AND IS OUR REALITY! CONO!

  34. Too bad there is not translation in english, but anyone interested in learning what these young Cubans are saying can ask an Spanish speaking friend to translate.

  35. Those who do not understand Spanish, can show these videos to anyone honest enough to translate exactly what these Cubans say, will know that Cubans are discriminated.

  36. Tradeu,

    Are you also going to said that these videos are old?

    Here you can hear a black Cuban denouncing clearly and explicitly in Spanish that Blacks are discriminated in “CUC. Bars”( Bars where only the CUC. currency is acepted)

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