Heralds of the End

Jumping out of bed, there’s a loudspeaker roaring outside. I don’t understand what it’s saying, but I wash my face as if it were the last time. Maybe it’s the start of the war so often announced in recent days. My son sleeps late and I have the desire to wake him up and warn him, but I don’t understand the words coming from the loudspeaker and the truck has already moved away toward the avenue.

When are those who terrify us going to give an account of themselves? Those who have spent decades dangling the ghost of the cataclysm in front of our faces. It is very easy to forecast and call for war when you have a bunker, soldiers, a bullet-proof vest. To those heralds of the end, let them try being here, amid the buzzing of the loudspeaker and the child who opens his eyes and asks, frightened, “Mommy, what’s happening, why is there so much noise?”


13 thoughts on “Heralds of the End

  1. #7 “* The tourist apartheid imposed to Cubans which forbid Cubans to pay in Cuban Pesos(our national currency!) forcing Cubans out of the tourist zones by not acepting the money used to pay their salary and imposing the CUC.(Castro’s own currency!)”

    Anyone Cuban or foreigner can readily exchange one currency for the other. So whilst it is a bureaucratic absurdity it is hardly “aparthheid”.
    If you know so little about currency in Cuba what does does that say about your general credibility?

  2. Why has Cubas Military regime been so corrupt and able to get away with so many abuses for so many years? How can we stimulate positive and productive change?? This incident with the Canadian Tourist in jail for being involved in a traffic accident will be magnified many times as the poor road conditions, cars rebuilt from scrap, lack of street lights, markers and street signs exist through out the entire island. Cuba needs to get back on track an be the beautiful prosperous country it once was. Thanks Yoani and everyone else who makes this Blog possible.

  3. THE WASHINGTO POST: Number of political prisoners in Cuba still murky – By PAUL HAVEN-July 23, 2010

    HAVANA — If Cuba releases 52 prisoners of conscience as promised, it will still hold more than 100 people listed as political prisoners by the island’s leading human rights group. But a closer look will find bombers, hijackers and fallen intelligence agents mixed in with those jailed simply for insulting Fidel Castro.
    The disagreement among human rights groups on who is a political prisoner is important to eliminating one of the main stumbling blocks to improved relations with the U.S. and the European Union.
    Human rights groups say no list can give a full accounting of the repression in Cuba, where people who openly question the government’s authority may face harassment, arbitrary detention, surveillance or loss of their job.
    But getting everyone to agree on just who is a political prisoner is impossible.
    Cuba says it holds none, describing those in jail as mercenaries at best. Amnesty International counts just one “prisoner of conscience” who will remain after the current round of releases. Human Rights Watch fears there are “hundreds” of political prisoners.
    Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, says
    Washington does not keep count but believes there are “more than 100.”
    The most routinely cited list is one by Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the only respected human rights agency allowed in Cuba.
    While the group is not recognized by the government, it is tolerated, giving Sanchez – himself a government opponent and former prisoner – a unique role in the debate.
    Sanchez’s commission counts 167 people jailed for political or sociopolitical reasons, including the 52 that the government has pledged to free as part of a July 7 agreement with the Roman Catholic Church. Fifteen already have been sent to Spain and the rest are due to go free in the next few months.
    That would leave Sanchez’s list – which is frequently cited by international agencies, journalists and politicians – with 115 names. But an Associated Press analysis shows that some of those would not normally be seen as political prisoners.
    Ten people Sanchez includes are already out of jail on conditional parole, and one has completed his sentence. Of the remaining 104, about half were convicted of terrorism, hijacking or other violent crimes, and four are former military or intelligence agents convicted of espionage or revealing state secrets.
    Gerardo Ducos, a London-based Amnesty International researcher specializing in the Caribbean, said his agency would never describe many on Sanchez’s list as “prisoners of conscience.”
    “We describe a prisoner of conscience as somebody who goes to jail for their beliefs or for exercising peacefully – and that is a key component – their rights for freedom of expression,” Ducos said.
    Sanchez’s list includes “people brought to trial for terrorism, espionage and those who tried, or actually succeeded, in blowing up hotels,” he added. “We certainly would not call for their release or describe them as prisoners of conscience.”
    Indeed, Sanchez includes some notorious figures side-by-side with others who seem to have been imprisoned for peaceful political views:
    – Salvadorans Ernesto Cruz and Otto Rodriguez, on death row for a 1997 bombing campaign that killed an Italian tourist.
    – Cuban-American Humberto Eladio Real, a member of an anti-Castro group who was convicted of killing a policeman in 1994 when he stormed ashore in Villa Clara armed with assault rifles and other weapons. Four others involved in that assault are also on Sanchez’s list.
    – Five people who hijacked a ferry in Havana harbor in 2003, holding knives to the throats of French tourists and demanding to go to the United States.
    Sanchez says the list is not about prisoners’ motives or violent acts, but the fact that they were tried under part of the penal code that deals with “state security.”
    “The Cuban penal code is a complete copy of the Soviet penal code. The first section doesn’t deal with assassination, murder or rape. It is about crimes against the state,” he said.
    “The question is, if they are such awful cases, why does the government handle them like political crimes?” he said. “Why does the government treat the prisoners as counterrevolutionaries?”
    Pressed to list only political prisoners, Sanchez cited 40 who were jailed for nonviolent, political reasons and 30 whose cases were political but involved violence.
    Those in jail for nonviolent reasons include a man who hung an anti-Castro sign outside his home and three women protesting the trial of a relative convicted of the nebulous charge of “pre-criminal dangerousness.”
    Several other people on the list – including some opposition figures – have been imprisoned on the charge, which critics say allows authorities to detain anyone they feel might commit a future crime.
    Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said his agency has found at least 40 political prisoners jailed on charges of dangerousness who are not on Sanchez’s list.
    He said it is impossible to know how many political prisoners are in Cuba in part because the government does not allow outside human rights groups to operate.
    “It is reasonable to argue that the numbers are in the hundreds, taking into account the large number of Cubans who are serving time for dangerousness,” Vivanco said.
    Vivanco said the human rights community can’t agree on what constitutes a political prisoner. Human Rights Watch recently cited Sanchez’s list in a press release, terming all those on it political prisoners.
    After the 52 political prisoners set for release are free, the only Amnesty-recognized prisoner of conscience left in Cuba will be a lawyer named Rolando Jimenez Pozada, jailed on charges of disobedience and revealing state secrets.
    Ducos said that while the number of political prisoners may be down, human rights in Cuba have not improved under Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, who has been in charge since 2008.
    “There has been a change in tactics under Raul Castro; there are fewer sentences, but more acts of intimidation and harassment,” he said. “Fear is still omnipresent in Cuban society, the fear of speaking up or of being overheard. In Cuba, the state controls everything.”


  4. I guess the “state of siege” mentality still has its benefits for the holders on power.
    It seems there is no end in sight to it but hope never dies … does it?

  5. Outrage grows over teen’s plight in Cuba

    Canadians from coast to coast have been voicing their outrage after learning of 19-year-old Cody LeCompte’s plight in Cuba.

    And they are even more dismayed to learn that after three months of detention in the Communist country, for a car accident that he claims wasn’t his fault, our government has been content to wait for justice to run its course rather than take swift action to help the young man get back home.

    “Today I wept with anger,” one Sun reader wrote on a Facebook group dedicated to helping Cody after reading the story that appeared in Thursday’s paper.

    “I am appalled that out government is failing him,” the reader added. “We must unite and take action in bringing Cody home, immediately!”

    The Simcoe teen was on a two-week vacation within his mom that was supposed to be a reward for getting into college.

    Instead his life has been turned upside down because of a bizarre law that forces tourists involved in a crash where a Cuban citizen is seriously hurt to prove his or her innocence before being allowed to leave the country.

    Cody’s mom, Danette, who is at her son’s side because she’s afraid to leave him alone in Santa Lucia, so far is $30,000 in debt after paying for lawyer’s fees, a room at the resort and other expenses.

    She is on the verge of financial ruin and Cody hasn’t even been charged with anything.

    Danette was in the rental car, so was her cousin and his Cuban fiance, and Cody was driving when they were allegedly “broadsided” by a truck April 29.

    They were all hospitalized but have since recovered from their injuries, including the fiance who underwent surgery for her damaged liver. Apparently, the only one still hurting is Cody.

    He and his mom were unavailable Thursday because they were meeting with their lawyer.

    “I have never been to Cuba and never will go!” Sun reader Steven Leech wrote on torontosun.com, adding the feds should “put a travel ban on Cuba and cut off all foreign aid” to the impoverished country.

    Similar sentiments were echoed by callers from across Canada to Roy Green, on AM 640. The talk radio show host has been at the forefront of efforts to bring the teen home.

    But it appears the anger of Canadians has been heard.

    “While at the African Union Summit in Uganda, Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, has met with senior Cuban officials and raised LeCompte’s case directly,” spokesman Dana Cryderman said.


  6. Castro lovers!

    Anyone can justify Castro’s anti-Cuban policies?

    * Like the policy of intolerance towards critics!
    * The investment policies that offers foreign investors the opportunity to operate a private business in Cuba while forbidden Cubans to do the same.
    * The tourist apartheid imposed to Cubans which forbid Cubans to pay in Cuban Pesos(our national currency!) forcing Cubans out of the tourist zones by not acepting the money used to pay their salary and imposing the CUC.(Castro’s own currency!)

    This ANTI-CUBANS policy is disguised by the implementation in Cuba of another currency equivalent to the Euro called CUC.( Castro’s own currency!)but with an exchange rate in Cuban Pesos of 25 pesos per CUC. which does not reflect the acquisition powers of Cuban workers.

    An example is that if you buy a Coca-Cola in any tourist zone, it may cost $1.75 CUC., and a Cuban averages a salary of $300 “pesos” a month, if you make your math, a Cuban have to spend approximately half their salary to buy a Coke in a beach resort.

    I just want a supporter or lover of Castro’s regimen to argument a justification for these ANTI-CUBANS, DISCRIMINATORY AND SEGREGATIONIST practices of castro’s regimen.

  7. In Cuba (and Venezuela) things are going from bad to worse. Until now, both countries could count on the price of oil (from Venezuela) to cover up the incompetent running of the economy. Now, Venezuela is running out of available cash, both for its own use, and to support its client states (Cuba, Bolivia, etc.) as well as to steal everything not nailed down.

    The question is not longer “if”, but when, the economy of these countries will come crashing down. The only alternative would be of such countries to liberate their economies- and that takes giving up power. Most politicians would rather give up breathing than give up power, so I don’t see that happening.

    We’ll have to await the angry mobs at the palace gates to see how (and when) this plays out.

  8. Canadian held hostage in CUBA. Just another story about a corrupt CastroNazi fuking regime

    What if the Canadian Government would ban Canadian Travel to Cuba ? I bet that this prisoner would be release the same day. This case has blown out of proportion in the radio talkshows as Canadian officials are pressured to act. The young fellow is paying 500/week since April at the resort plus other legal fees.


  9. Sou brasileiro e acompanho sua luta no noticiário no Brasil. Parabéns pela persistência e coragem demonstradas até aqui. A comunidade internacional lhe admira muito. Siga em frente.
    Quanto ao Lula, me parece um oportunista. Amigo de ditadores e facinoras, não tem muito compromisso com a ética.
    De qualquer forma, continue seu trabalho…
    Lhe mandamos as melhores energias!!!


  10. ASSOCIATED PRESS:Spain predicts thaw in US and EU ties with Cuba-By CIARAN GILES

    MADRID — Spain’s foreign minister predicted Wednesday that Cuba’s release of dozens of political prisoners could eventually lead to a thaw in U.S. relations and the lifting of a decades-old embargo against the Communist-run island.

    Speaking in Parliament, Miguel Angel Moratinos said the freeing of some 52 Cuban prisoners would prompt a shift in European Union policy toward Cuba “and it will have political consequences in U.S. relations with Cuba, (such as) the lifting of the embargo.”

    A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Madrid said, while the U.S. welcomed the release of the Cuban political inmates, it was too early to say whether that would have any effect on the embargo. And officials from France and Germany didn’t share Moratinos’ optimism that the release of the 52 would trigger an EU policy shift.

    President Barack Obama once suggested it was time for a new beginning with Cuba, but his administration wants to see the island embrace more political or social reforms — and it’s unknown if the agreement on political prisoners is enough.

    The dissidents, who had been imprisoned since 2003, have spoken of the horrid, rat-infested conditions they endured in the Cuban prisons. Twelve have arrived in Spain so far, along with dozens of relatives, and more are expected.

    Moratinos has said his European Union counterparts had conditioned any change in EU policy toward Cuba on getting the political prisoners released and he now expects the 27-nation bloc to end its “common position” on Cuba. That policy, which dates from 1996, calls for advances in human rights and democracy before relations with the island can be normalized.

    But Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, said it was too early to say if the bloc is ready to shift direction on Cuba. She said all countries needed to be back any move and it was not clear if they all share Spain’s enthusiasm.

    “We will have a better feeling on Monday” when foreign ministers may talk briefly about the prisoners’ release, she said. But no decision is likely until September.

    An official with Germany’s Foreign Office said it “welcomes the current development” but added that “the EU countries have always stressed that the overall human rights situation in Cuba has to improve.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy.

    A French diplomat said Wednesday that the releases are a positive first step, but that the EU wants Cuba to free all its political prisoners. The diplomat was not authorized to be publicly named according to Foreign Ministry policy.

    On Monday, the released Cuban prisoners in Spain said they opposed any change in EU policy toward the island.

    “The Cuban government has not taken any steps that show a clear decision to advance toward democratizing our country,” they said in a statement. “Our exit to Spain should not be considered a gesture of goodwill, but rather a desperate move by the regime in its urgent search for credit of any sort.”

    The Cuban government has long maintained that none of them is a prisoner of conscience. It insists they are mercenaries paid by Washington and supported by anti-Castro exiles in Miami, whose only goal was to discredit the Cuban government. Many of the Web sites the journalists had worked for were maintained by exiles outside Cuba.

    Spain has told the former prisoners they will be given work and residency permits within a few months. It has advised them not to seek asylum status, saying such a designation would bar them from making political statements and would make it impossible for them to return to Cuba for visits.

    The arriving Cubans were held for days in a very modest hotel with no air conditioning and shared bathrooms for men and women in a remote industrial zone of Madrid.

    But the government started moving them into apartments outside of the capital this week because Madrid is considered a very expensive place for arriving immigrants to build new lives. Plans were also set to house the latest arrivals in a more upscale Madrid hotel until they are resettled elsewhere.

    While some of the Cubans initially complained about their accommodations in Madrid, they said conditions were much better than the jails they were held in, and those who have been moved out of the capital said they were satisfied with the government’s effort.

    Omar Ruiz, a journalist, was sent with his wife and young son to a studio apartment in the southern city of Malaga in a building occupied mostly by African immigrants. Everyone in the building eats for free in a communal dining room, and the building is about a 20-minute walk from a beach on the Mediterranean

    “I don’t want to complain about the conditions, there may be others who think they could have been better,” Ruiz said. “The main thing is that they helped me leave jail and get to a free country with my family, where I can think whatever I want to think. You have to recognize that, and I am very thankful.”

    Contributing to this report: Associated Press Writers Alan Clendenning and Jorge Sainz in Madrid, Aoife White in Brussels, Juergen Baetz in Berlin, and Angela Charlton in Paris.


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