The Holidays Return

To go to work on December 25, to have school on New Year’s Eve or to be called to “voluntary labor” as the year drew to a close. All this was possible in an ideologically fervent Cuba, with its false atheism and disdain for festivities, that left us with grey Christmases, celebrated in whispers. The last weeks of 1980, 1983, 1987, so identically boring, lacking in color, run together in my mind. I spent many of those days sitting at a desk, while in other parts of the world people shared them with their families, opened gifts, celebrated in the intimacy of their homes.

It seemed that the Christmas vacations were never honored in Cuban schools, the students only had breaks for patriotic or ideological celebrations. But, little by little, unannounced, and never approved by our peculiar parliament, students themselves began to reclaim these holidays. In the beginning, each classroom would be missing about a third of its students, but slowly the absence virus began to infect everyone. Until finally the number of students missing in the last two weeks of the year left the Ministry of Education no choice but to declare a two-week break in classes. It is these small citizens’ victories, reported by no newspaper, that we all understand as terrain wrested from the false sobriety they try to impose on us from the podium.

Today, my son Teo got up late and he won’t return to school until next year. His classmates haven’t been to high school since Wednesday. Watching him sleep until ten, make plans for the coming days off, helps to make up for my boring childhood Christmases. I can forget all those Christmas Eves I spent without even realizing there was a reason to celebrate.


35 thoughts on “The Holidays Return

  1. @#30
    nice sidestep … the facts still remain.
    you are accused of been a racist.
    Also you haven’t answered the accusation of been a wannabe supported by your parents.
    I think is true, no honest work, living off others & being a wannabe.

  2. @#33
    I belive #31 is using a different computer.
    His “contributions” are slightly different & from somewhere else.
    Perhaps he/she is no longer the same …

  3. Anonimo, wrong on all counts but whats to be expected from a defender of the cretin dumbir. For all we know you are dumbir, wouldn’t be the first time you’ve attempted the name change stunt. It seems like every time someone magically shows up to defend the degenerate dumbir it’s always right before or right after one of dumbir’s insipid comments, must be another coincidence. Not that it matters but I have no Cuban accent and I don’t live in Miami. If I did I would be proud to admit it, there is no shame in coming from Miami. Many of the fine people living in that beautiful city will one day help to turn Cuba around after your idols the castros have disappeared from the scene.

  4. Just discovered you so can´t say I know where you are coming from yet but ……………..

    …….. really Christmas has become a horrible commercial stressful party that has nothing to do with love and families most of the time and children want any excuse to get off school lets face it. I am a mother of 3, British living in Guatemala. THis is a country of the most disgusting extremes of rich and poor and completely run by narcos who are marginally worse than the oligarchy before it.

    so please don´t whine about Christmas, we no longer live in the time of Charles Dickens and Christmas Carol. It is just one more ridiculous feast of cheap consumerism for most people.

    and don´t get me on to Halloween ……….. yuck yuck yuck

    but I have children now so have to play the game.

  5. 27 “yubano”, your same ol’ insults are tiresome. If you cannot counter someone with counter-arguments at least try to present yourself as acivilized human.

    Right now, you only confirm what Damir is sayin’. And you look dumber with every letter you write.

    Chill a little. We got the drift. You can actually write english without that thick cuban accent being heard.

    You are still a shithead from Miami. No chance of a change there.

  6. 29 are you nuts? Not enough sex? Go wank a little. Relief that anger before you post, it reeks shit.

  7. … it seems you know little about pigs, since pigs are some of the cleanest domestic animals.
    And you “talking” about discrimination?
    Perhaps you forgot your statements about Indians, or Jews or Gays.
    In case you don’t hear yourself discriminating read your pronouncements against anyone who “dares” to disagree w/you … your insults & abuse proves it.
    Then again what can be expected since the only thing you have is your own vision of yourself.
    Have you ever earned an honest wage for an honest day’s work?
    I don’t thing you ever “fought” for your freedoms as you claimed a while back.
    You are all talk & a wannabe.
    I suspect you still live w/your parents supported by them.
    Supported by them while longing for the entitlements you once had.


    REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: Cuban regime fears bloggers more than
    “traditional” dissidents-Published on 29 December 2010.

    According to US government cables leaked by WikiLeaks, American diplomats based in Havana believe that the Cuban regime fears the country’s bloggers much more than “traditional” dissidents.

    In a cable dated 15 April 2009, Jonathan Farrar of the US Interests Section in Havana said the dissident movement in Cuba has become as “old and as out of touch” with the lives of ordinary Cubans as the regime itself. “We see very little evidence that the mainline dissident organizations have much resonance among ordinary Cubans,” he wrote, adding that they nonetheless were the “conscience of Cuba” and deserved US support.

    In a cable sent on 20 December 2009, Farrar said the Cuban government saw bloggers as its “most serious challenge.” Referring to Cuba’s netizens as “a group that frustrates and scares the [government of Cuba] like no other,” he said their reporting of the arrests and mistreatment they underwent constituted a useful political tool.

    “The bloggers’ mushrooming international popularity and their ability to stay one tech-step ahead of the authorities are causing serious headaches in the regime,” Farrar wrote, adding: “We believe it is the younger generation of ‘non-traditional dissidents’ that is likely to have a greater long term impact on post-Castro Cuba.”

    Another cable noted: “Younger individuals, including bloggers, musicians, and performing and plastic artists do not belong to identifiable organizations, though they are much better at taking ‘rebellious’ stands with greater popular appeal.”,39180.html

  9. Dumbir and his pack of merry morons (team dumb and dumbir)repeatedly resort to scatological and other idiocies in the absence of any logical arguments. This is part of an ongoing and pathetic effort by team dumbir to misinform, diqualify and attempt to divide all those who are against the castro regime. Team dumbirs’ posts are nothing but fabricated facts, 1950’s communist histeria, infantile insults and the ravings of an incompetent, emotionally challenged propaganda hack.

  10. As expected a couple of pigs walked all over the perls. Snouts fdeeply burried in their own excrement and mud, little did they notice the facts:

    Calling for one religion to be observed on a state level is discrimination. It favours that particular religion over all other religions.
    In the case of the team “yoani”, it is merely a case of one despot being replaced by another. Both have their own personal preferences as to what the counry should be and function like. And to hell with the opposition.

    As one pig just wrote, some will be executed.

    But then, better cannot be expected from pigs.


    MIAMI HERALD: WIKILEAKS: Cables spotlight health woes in Cuba-A U.S. diplomatic cable from Havana in 2008 noted the problems in Cuba’s public health system.JUAN O. TAMAYO
    In one Cuban hospital, patients had to bring their own light bulbs. In another, the staff used “a primitive manual vacuum” on a woman who had miscarried. In others, Cuban patients pay bribes to obtain better treatment.
    Those and other observations by an unidentified nurse assigned to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana were included in a dispatch sent by the mission in January 2008 and made public this month by WikiLeaks.

    Titled “Cuban healthcare: Aquí Nada es Facil” — Nothing here is easy — the cable offers a withering assessment by the nurse, officially a Foreign Service Health Practitioner, or FSHP, who already had lived in Cuba for 2 ½ years.

    The Cuban government still boasts of its vast public health system, though the system suffered deeply after Soviet subsidies ended in 1991. It also blames most of the system’s problems on the U.S. embargo. Though U.S. medical sales to Cuba are legal, the process can be cumbersome and Havana can sometimes find better prices elsewhere.

    The U.S. cable is not an in-depth assessment of Cuba’s health system. Rather, it’s a string of anecdotes gathered by the FSHP from Cubans such as “manicurists, masseuses, hair stylists, chauffeurs, musicians, artists, yoga teachers, tailors, as well as HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, physicians, and foreign medical students.”

    At one OB-Gyn hospital, the dispatch reported, the staff “used a primitive manual vacuum to aspirate” the womb of a Cuban woman who had a miscarriage “without any anesthesia or pain medicine. She was offered no . . . follow up appointments.”

    A 6-year old boy with bone cancer could only be visited at a hospital by his parents for “limited hours,” the cable added.

    Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation get “little in the way of symptom or side-effects care . . . that is critically important in being able to continue treatments, let alone provide comfort to an already emotionally distraught victim,” the dispatch noted.

    “Cancer patients are not provided with, nor can they find locally, simple medications such as Aspirin, Tylenol, skin lotions, vitamins, etc.,” it added.

    HIV-positive Cubans have only one facility, the Instituto Pedro Kouri in Havana, that can provide specialty care and medications, the cable noted. Because of transportation problems and costs, some patients from the provinces may be seen only once per year.

    Kouri institute patients can wait months for an appointment, “but can often move ahead in line by offering a gift,” the dispatch added. “We are told five Cuban convertible pesos (approximately USD 5.40) can get one an x-ray.”

    Although the practice was reportedly discontinued, some HIV-positive patients had the letters “SIDA” (AIDS) stamped on their national ID cards, making it hard for them to find good jobs or pursue university studies, according to the cable.

    The cable acknowledged that medical institutions reserved for Cuba’s ruling elites and foreigners who pay in hard currencies “are hygienically qualified, and have a wide array of diagnostic equipment with a full complement of laboratories, well-stocked pharmacies, and private patient suites with cable television and bathrooms.”

    Hospitals and clinics used by average Cubans don’t come close, the dispatch added, providing details on the FSHP’s visits to four Havana hospitals:

    At the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital, part of which is reserved for foreign patients and was featured in the Michael Moore documentary Sicko, a “gift” of about $22 to the hospital administrator helps average Cubans obtain better treatment there. The exterior of the Ramon Gonzalez Coro OB-Gyn hospital was “dilapidated and crumbling” and its Newborn Intensive Care Unit was “using a very old infant `Bird’ respirator/ventilator — the model used in the U.S. in the 1970s.”

    During a visit to the Calixto Garcia Hospital, which serves only Cubans, the U.S. nurse “was struck by the shabbiness of the facility . . .and the lack of everything (medical supplies, privacy, professional care staff). To the FSHP it was reminiscent of a scene from some of the poorest countries in the world.”

    At the Salvador Allende Hospital, the emergency room appeared “very orderly, clean and organized.” But the rest of the facility was “in shambles” and guards by the entrance “smelled of alcohol.”

    “Patients had to bring their own light bulbs if they wanted light in their rooms. The switch plates and knobs had been stolen from most of the rooms so one had to connect bare wires to get electricity,” the dispatch reported.

    Socio-Economic Conditions in Pre-Castro Cuba* Introduction
    In the 1950’s Cuba was, socially and economically, a relatively advanced country, certainly by Latin American standards and, in some areas, by world standards.
    Cuba’s infant mortality rate was the best in Latin America — and the 13th lowest in the world.
    Cuba also had an excellent educational system and impressive literacy rates in the 1950’s.
    Pre-Castro Cuba ranked third in Latin America in per capita food consumption.
    Cuba ranked first in Latin America and fifth in the world in television sets per capita.
    Pre-Castro Cuba had 58 daily newspapers of differing political hues and ranked eighth in the world in number of radio stations.

    Cuba’s infant mortality rate of 32 per 1,000 live births in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data. Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Japan, Austria, Italy, and Spain.
    In 1955, life expectancy in Cuba was among the highest at 63 years of age; compared to 52 in other Latin American countries, 43 in Asia, and 37 in Africa.
    In terms of physicians and dentists per capita, Cuba in 1957 ranked third in Latin America, behind only Uruguay and Argentina — both of which were more advanced than the United States in this measure. Cuba’s 128 physicians and dentists per 100,000 people in 1957 was the same as the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom (122 per 100,000 people) and Finland.

  12. Yoani :

    I have changed my mind about communism since the so-called Cuban revolution when I was in my teenage years. Here, we all saw Cuba as becoming a democracy. I have come back to freedom of thought, freedom of enterprise, political freedom. Of course, a religious holiday is only symbolic, but what about revolutionary holidays ? Are they just becoming symbolic ? Although I am an atheist (but libertarian) I still like have lighted decorations outside. A lot of snow at my place, but we have heating unlike in Cuba. Cheers and keep on. Like some of the commentaries below…

  13. Dambir, “the stories of primitive bedouins from two thousand years ago” ( I guess for you both the greeks and romans were beduins) have more truth than the stories told by the Castro Brothers in regards to what happend in Cuba in the 1950’s. An oppresive regime took the power from a corrupt one. Soon they became even more corrupt and in time oppresion was similar with the one experience by the Soviet and their satelite countries. I bet Cubans do not learn this in school.

    Keep on type-barking buddy, there is a full moon every month, but remember that as it happened in Eastern Europe, the communists will lose power one day. Some will be even executed. Are you prepared for what is to come ???


  15. Simba Sez: Damir, you’re partly correct as usual, and as usual you twist the facts to suit your purpose, whatever that may be. Yes, religion is separated from the state in a democracy. Where you are wrong, of course, is that the country does not celebrate Christmas. The country merely is a geographical area where people of all religions reside, including those who do not practice any religious belief at all. Therefore your silly little twisted pearl is absolutely stupid, and ridiculous, and makes you appear much dumber than you actually are.

  16. here are people who still believe in the stories of primitive bedouins from two thousand years ago. Those people are the most stupid around.


    Because these same bedouins invented not only jewish religion, but christianity, and then muslim religion. They themselves never believed long enough in any of the three religions to stick to them.

    But thos ewho do believe in that nonsense today, those people are the dumbest.

    And it seems many of them post here.

    I could quote the bible and the talmud to demonstrate how retarded are these stories, and how what people actually believe is DIFFERENT to what their “gods” are telling them to believe.

    But it would be, to use the biblical comparison, throwing the perls to the pigs.

    And when did a pig consider the beauty of a perl?

    Democracy is a secular society. Religion is SEPARATED from the state.

    The fact that many so called “democratic” countries celebrate christmas, or any other religious “holiday”, is clear indication how little these countries are really democratic.

    Let the pigs now walk over this perl…


    WALL STREET JOURNAL: A Cuban Fairy Tale From PBS -What public television didn’t tell you about health care in Castro’s socialist state.-By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

    In his memoir covering four years in Cuba as a correspondent for Spanish Television, Vicente Botín tells about a Havana woman who was frustrated by the doctor shortage in the country. She hung a sheet on her balcony with the words “trade me to Venezuela.” When the police arrived she told them: “Look, compañeros, I’m as revolutionary as the next guy, but if you want to see a Cuban doctor, you have to go to Venezuela.”

    That story was not in the three-part report by Ray Suarez on Cuban health care that aired on PBS’s “NewsHour” last week. Nor was the one about the Cuban whose notice of his glaucoma operation arrived in 2005, three years after he died and five years after he had requested it. Nor was there any coverage of the town Mr. Botín writes about close to the city of Holguín, that in 2006 had one doctor serving five clinics treating 600 families. In fact, it was hard to recognize the country that Mr. Suarez claimed to be describing.

    The series was taped in Cuba with government “cooperation” so there is no surprise that it went heavy on the party line. Still, there was something disturbing about how Mr. Suarez allowed himself to be used by the police state, dutifully reciting its dubious claims as if he were reporting great advances in medical science.

    Castro’s military dictatorship marks 52 years in power next week. But the “revolution” is dead. A new generation of angry, young Cubans now vents on Internet blogs and through music, mocking the old man and his ruthless little brother. On Nov. 29, in the city of Santa Clara, hundreds of students launched a spontaneous protest when they were denied access to a televised soccer match they had paid to watch. What began as a demand for refunds soon turned to shouts of “freedom,” “down with Fidel” and “down with socialism,” according to press reports.

    Dissent is spreading in Cuba like dengue fever because daily life is so onerous. One of the best documented sources on this subject is the Botín narrative (“Los Funerales de Castro,” 2009, available in Spanish only), which pulls back the curtain on “the Potemkin village” that foreigners see on official visits to Cuba. Behind the façade is desperate want. Food, water, transportation, access to health care, electricity, soap and toilet paper are all hard to come by. Even housing is in short supply, with multiple families wedged into single-family homes. The government tries to keep the lid on through repression. But in private there are no limits to the derision of the brothers Castro.

    Mr. Suarez’s report, by contrast, is like a state propaganda film. In one segment, an American woman named Gail Reed who lives in Cuba tells him that the government’s claim of its people’s longevity is due to a first-rate system of disease prevention. He then parrots the official line that Cuba’s wealth of doctors is the key ingredient. What is more, he says, these unselfish revolutionary “foot soldiers” go on house calls. “It’s aggressive preventive medicine,” Mr. Suarez explains. “Homes are investigated, water quality checked, electrical plugs checked.”

    An abundance of doctors? Not in the Cuba Mr. Botín lived in. In 2006 the government claimed there were 65,000 doctors. That number, he says, was “a figure that many professionals considered inflated.” When Cubans complained they couldn’t get care, he notes that the state upped the number “magically” to 71,000 five months later. Given Fidel’s habit of making things up, it’s hard to know how many competent doctors the government has trained. But there is no disputing the fact that thousands of medics have been sent overseas in large numbers to earn hard currency for the regime. There is also no question that Cubans are paying the price at home.

    As to doctors checking on water quality and electricity outlets, the PBS reporter might be surprised to learn that most Cuban homes have no running water or power on a regular basis. This is true even in the capital. In 2006, Mr. Botín says, a government minister admitted that 75.5% of the water pipes in Havana were “unusable” and “recognized that 60% of pumped water was lost before it made it to consumers.” To “fix” the problem, the city began providing water in each neighborhood only on certain days. Havana water is also notoriously contaminated. Foreigners drink only the bottled stuff, which Cubans can’t afford. In the rest of the country the quality and quantity of the water supply is even less reliable.

    Mr. Suarez also reported that, according to Ms. Reed, Cuba is suffering an “embargo of medicine.” But there is no embargo on food or medicine. The problem is that the government lacks the money to pay for new medicines that are protected under patent.

    Reporters who want access to Cuba know that they have to toe the Castro line. I get that. Mr. Suarez must figure that his American audience does not.


    YAHOO NEWS: Cuban Wikipedia most elaborate propaganda creation ever-Alexis Levinson – Fri Dec 24,
    Last week, Cuba launched EcuRed, it’s own version of Wikipedia. It was an intriguing move for a country whose population has very minimal Internet access. But the Cuban regime produces a large amount of propaganda targeted at the outside world, and EcuRed fits neatly into that framework.

    “They do these extensive media operations,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, the executive director of Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy, and a member of the board of directors of U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, “so that eventually the rest of the world, they hope, is seeing that, and they think it’s the truth because it’s coming from all kinds of different sources.

    If building an entire online encyclopedia seems overly elaborate for propaganda, one need only look at Cuba’s newspapers, says Claver-Carone. He points out that all six major newspapers in Cuba are state run, but each claims to represent a different voice in the population, leading to the perception that multiple different viewpoints are represented in the media.

    “It’s their way of continuously rewriting history, essentially, for a foreign audience,” he said, because “domestically, the Cuban government is not going to convince anyone that all is good … they survive basically off foreign political support and foreign economic support.”

    Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for Free Cuba, agrees. “This is not for the Cuban reader,” he said.

    Calzon credits this massive propaganda effort with the fact that “there are still some folks that give the Cuban government the benefit of the doubt.”

    The targeted audience, obviously, is not the United States, a country that, as The Daily Caller reported last week, gets a pretty bad rap on EcuRed. “There is a huge audience out there that consumes anti-Americanism,” said Claver-Carone, calling it “the blame America first model.” The regime’s propaganda “feed[s] that anti-American audience.”

    It also, according to Claver-Carone, serves as a “distraction, so that people don’t pay attention to the real issues on the island.”

    In spite of this massive effort, Calzon suggests that technology has ultimately made it more difficult for Fidel Castro’s regime to preserve this image to the outside world.

    “People say technology is neutral,” he said, “but I think in our days technology is more in favor of democracy. It’s very difficult for a regime to have control to the extent that they are used to when people can take a photograph from a telephone.”

  19. Damir, as per your anti-Christian rant, I guess your are either a radical muslim like the ones who planned 9/11 or you are the dark prince Lucifer, also known as Satan. You are so dumb my friend relying on the internet tryin to explaining why Christ has many names. The answer is simple but you will not find it on stupid websites.


    MIAMI HERALD: In about-face, Cuban spy says planes were shot down over international waters-BY JAY WEAVER
    Since Cuban Air Force pilots obliterated two planes ferrying four Miami men in 1996, Cuba’s leaders have strongly disputed U.S. and United Nations findings that the fatal shoot-downs happened in international airspace.
    Aiming to place the controversial killings in Cuban territory was a linchpin of the defense at the trial of five Cuban spies, one of whom was convicted of murder conspiracy.

    But now, spymaster Gerardo Hernandez, serving a life sentence, has made a startling about-face: In a last-ditch appeal, he suddenly agrees that the Feb. 24, 1996, MiG assaults on two Brothers to the Rescue planes indeed happened over international waters.

    With that argument, Hernandez is fundamentally contradicting the stand of the regime he has sworn his loyalty to, and which has declared him a modern-day hero of the revolution.

    Brothers co-founder Jose Basulto finds the move ironic. Now, he said, Hernandez “wants to distance himself from the Cuban government — to save himself.”

    In his appeal, Hernandez, 45, contends that his trial attorney, Paul McKenna, mishandled his defense at a 2001 Miami federal trial by focusing so much on the shoot-down location.

    That strategy overshadowed evidence that Hernandez purportedly did not know in advance about the deadly Cuban plot over the Florida Straits, the appeal asserts. Evidence of his advance knowledge was crucial to proving his role in the murder conspiracy.

    “In short, Hernandez’s lawyer was his worst enemy in the courtroom,” his appellate attorneys wrote in a habeas corpus petition filed in Miami federal court.

    Maggie Khuly, whose brother Armando Alejandre Jr. was killed and who sat through the six-month spy trial, scoffed at the notion that McKenna was not an effective lawyer for Hernandez. She noted that McKenna traveled to Cuba several times to talk with government officials about the defense.

    “The way I looked at it, McKenna was following what he was told to do,” Khuly said. “You could say this was the party line. And now Gerardo Hernandez has a different party line.”

    Basulto, who escaped the shoot-down and testified at the espionage trial, said it seemed to him and others that McKenna did a “good job.” Given Hernandez’s continued status as a hero in Cuba, Basulto is skeptical the appeal is news to the Castro brothers, even if it runs counter to their public pronouncements justifying the shoot-down.

    “I’m sure the Cuban government has given him permission to pursue this new strategy,” he said.

    Hernandez’s appellate lawyers, however, say his 180-degree turn should not be seen as representing the views of the Cuban government.

    Hernandez and other members of the so-called Cuban Five were part of an intelligence network sent from Havana to spy on South Florida’s exile community and military installations. Their stated mission: to thwart violent campaigns by exile militants to topple Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

    They infiltrated the exile group Brothers to the Rescue, which regularly flew missions searching for Cuban rafters. They also tried to penetrate the Southern Command in Miami and the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West.

    The five have gained heroic status in their country and international support around the globe. Their faces are plastered on billboards and posters throughout Cuba. But Hernandez, who led La Red Avispa, or the Wasp Network, in Miami was the only agent convicted in connection with the shoot-down — and the only one sentenced to life.

    Hernandez’s strategy seeking to throw out his conviction and sentence is not uncommon. After he lost his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, he was left with one hope for a new trial: Demonstrating that he was found guilty because his attorney was ineffective.

    Hernandez’s appellate attorneys said the overwhelming evidence showed that the shoot-down occurred outside Cuban airspace, raising serious questions about McKenna’s overall strategy refuting that fact.

    One key piece: A June 1996 report by the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal. The agency used the known coordinates of the U.S. cruise liner Majesty of the Seas and the fishing boat Tri-Liner, whose crews witnessed the attacks, to locate the incidents at 10.3 to 11.5 miles outside Cuba’s 12-mile limit.

    The U.N.’s finding jibed with radar data provided by the United States, but not information supplied by the Cuban government, which continues to insist that the Brothers planes provoked the attacks by invading sovereign territory.

    Regarding Hernandez’s knowledge of the shoot-down plot, Hernandez’s appellate lawyers say that while trial evidence showed that Cuba’s intelligence agency contacted Hernandez to warn his colleagues against flying with Brothers in February 1996, Cuban radio transmissions to Hernandez suggest he was not clued in to his government’s specific military plan to shoot down the group’s planes.

    “He didn’t know anything about the shoot-down,” said Miami attorney Richard Klugh. “This was a major injustice.”

    The U.S. attorney’s office, which plans to respond to Hernandez’s petition by the end of January, declined comment. McKenna also declined to comment. He could end up as a witness in the appeal, filed with U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, who presided over the trial.

    Hernandez and other intelligence agents were indicted in 1998 on espionage conspiracy charges. Five of the original defendants pleaded guilty. Others disappeared and were presumed to have returned to Cuba. The remaining spies, who became known as the Cuban Five, were convicted.

    Khuly said that Hernandez’s new strategy is flawed in more ways than one.

    She said his trial attorney indeed delved into evidence on the Cuban government’s warnings to its spymaster to avoid certain Brothers’ flights.

    “He did spend a lot of time talking about the transcripts of the radio communications to try to prove there was no prior knowledge” on Hernandez’s part of the shoot-down, she said. “It was not as if it was totally ignored.”

    It will be up to Lenard to decide whether Hernandez deserves another shot at freedom.



    WASHINGTON POST: 11 Cuban dissidents spend 8th Christmas in prison-By JENNY BARCHFIELD-Sunday, December 26, 2010

    HAVANA — It was another lonely Christmas for the wives of 11 imprisoned dissidents slated to be freed under a deal between the Cuban government and the island’s Roman Catholic Church, as the holiday came and went with no sign they’d be released anytime soon.

    “Christmas is a family holiday, and for eight Christmases, there’s been an empty seat at the table. We hope that next year, that won’t the case,” said Laura Pollan, a leader of the Ladies in White, a group made up of the wives and mothers of the dissidents.

    Still, Pollan added, “There’s been no sign that any of them are going to be released soon.”

    She spoke to reporters as about 30 women took part in the group’s traditional after-Mass Sunday march.

    Under an informal deal announced in July by Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega, 52 activists and social commentators detained in a 2003 crackdown were supposed to be freed, probably by early November. Forty-one have been released, and all but one was sent to Spain.

    The 11 still behind bars have said they want to remain in Cuba, a demand some observers see as a possible stumbling block to their release.

    “It’s clear that the way the government has proceeded is to get the prisoners to agree to leave the country,” said Phil Peters, a Cuba specialist at the Lexington Institute near Washington. “Now they’re down to the people who don’t want to go, so that makes it much more difficult.”

    Peters said he wasn’t particularly worried they had not been freed by Christmas.

    “There isn’t anything special about the date, except for that the prisoner release has been discussed by the Catholic Church and obviously Christmas is an important date for Catholics,” Peters said in a telephone interview. “The government never gave a specific date, so maybe they had a longer period in mind” than the three- to four-month period mentioned by Ortega.

    “It’s going slowly, but then again, lots of things go slowly in Cuba,” Peters said. He added the release of the 11 will be a “very important step” because it would bring the number of political prisoners in Cuba “down to a very low number, or nearly zero.”

    That was little comfort for the Ladies in White at Christmas time.

    “It’s a difficult time for us,” Bertha Soler told the AP. “It’s a sacred time for families and we’re still far from ours.”

    The government alleges all the dissidents are paid by Washington to undermine the political system and says many of them were sentenced for crimes including treason.

    Last Thursday, the Church announced that two prisoners not on the list of 52 would be freed and sent to Spain shortly.


    Agustín Cervantes, cuban prisioner of conscience, in danger by hunger strike

    Madrid, December 26th, 2010. From Agustín Cervantes statements about his cause:

    “I’m fighting for them [for the guards that lacerate and mistreat my body] be free, because they themselves do not know, do not have knowledge of what liberty is, they are real victims of a system that has taught them nothing but torture, mistreat and degradation of humans.”

    Agustín Cervantes. Septiembre de 2010.

    Complete declaration (in Spanish):

    Agustín Cervantes, 46 years of age, is a prominent activist of Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación (MCL, trans. Christian Movement of Liberation), that supports reconciliation proposed by Proyecto Varela (Oswaldo Payá’s Varela Project), created by Oswaldo Payá, four times nominee to Human Rights Nobel Price and former Sajarov’s Human Rights Price winner.

    The imprison of Agustín originates when “civil” activists from Cuba’s regime enter his home by force and threatened him with a knife. He reduced the opponents in his own house. They claim to Cuban authorities he hurt them and threatened them by word in that moment at his house. Every aspect of his case happens at his house.


    Days after this incident, Agustín was arrested on 2009, September 29 at home.

    Police demand his to accompany them to pólice station, as a routine visit to ask for a declaration. His surprise was that entered a hall where judge, attourney, and witnesses, but no defense lawyer, were redy to start the trial. They sentenced him to prison and let him 3 days for appeal, but in prison he couldn’t get any contact or possibility of defense.


    Agustín is not considered by the regime as a conscience prisoner, or politic prisoner, fact that transgress him and made him ask for dressing in a different way than criminal prisoners, as did years ago the famous Cuban’s plantados, whose stayed in jail for years dressing no more than underwear, for the sake of dignity.

    From the day he got in prison, Agustín has to support hidings, mistreat and horrible humiliations.

    Hear Agustin’s description of some of it, months ago:


    L.A. TIMES: Cuban Americans play Santa on holiday visits to their homeland-The number of visitors started rising when Obama eased restrictions. They carry goods that are scarce or too expensive in the poor island nation.

    Reporting from Havana — In Cuba, Santa’s sleigh is a Boeing 737.

    Thousands of Cuban Americans have been heading to Havana this holiday season carrying electronics, medicine, clothing, toiletries and other goods to help relatives supplement monthly salaries averaging about $20.

    Not only are Cuban Americans visiting the island in far greater numbers since President Obama lifted travel restrictions last year, they are bringing more stuff. One carrier says the average bag weight per passenger is up 55%, and many Miami-Havana flights are shadowed by a separate cargo plane just to haul the load.

    “They bring you things for the family,” said Paulo Roman Garcia, 45, a Havana native who makes $9.50 a month selling fruit at a market in the city’s historic quarter.

    Roman Garcia was looking forward to a visit in the New Year from his older brother, who lives in New Jersey and will be coming down with gifts of clothing and treats, as well as big-ticket items such as a stereo.

    “My son has asthma, and he’s bringing inhalers for his asthma,” Roman Garcia said. “Medicines are very important. Some don’t exist here, or they’re hard to find.”

    During the administration of President George W. Bush, Cuban Americans were allowed to visit only once every three years and were limited to $100 a month in remittances. Those restrictions ended in April 2009, although most non-Cuban Americans are still barred from traveling to the island.

    Cuba watchers and charter flight operators say travel between the United States and Cuba skyrocketed after the change and continues to climb steadily.

    “About 1,000 visitors are arriving a day from the U.S., and they expect somewhere close to 400,000 by the end of the year,” said Kirby Jones, president of Alamar Associates of Bethesda, Md., a consulting firm that works with American companies looking to do business with Cuba.

    The U.S. is sending the second-largest number of visitors to Cuba, trailing only Canada, Jones said.

    The great majority are of Cuban heritage, and the rest are non-Cuban Americans traveling for officially sanctioned activities, such as academic, cultural and sports exchanges. The figure does not include the small but growing number of Americans who sidestep the travel ban by flying in through Canada, Mexico or other countries, risking a stiff U.S. fine if they are caught.

    Traffic is even greater during the busy holiday season, when charters add additional flights that quickly fill up.

    At Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, Cubans crowded up against a low metal fence early this month, straining to watch for relatives and friends as they emerged from customs pushing carts piled high with shrink-wrapped luggage, kitchen appliances, televisions, stuffed animals and cardboard boxes bursting at the seams.

    Arturo de Cordoba traveled from Miami with five suitcases crammed with cookies, sweets, rice and other goodies for his son and daughter, who picked him up at the airport.

    “I come here to share with my children,” said Cordoba, a jeweler who has been living in the United States for 30 years.

    Tom Cooper, the president and owner of Miami-based Gulfstream Air Charter, which flies a 146-seat 737 jetliner to Havana daily, said his company’s passenger load has doubled from about 23,000 in 2009 to almost 50,000 this year.

    Also on the rise is the amount of baggage.

    “We track every pound that goes on the airplane. Our average bag weight in the last year has gone from 85 to 132 pounds per person,” Cooper said. The first 44 pounds are free and there is a $1-a-pound surcharge after that, he said.

    The load is so great that for about half of Gulfstream’s flights, the company charters a twin-turboprop cargo plane to carry the excess baggage, Cooper said.

    The visits are something of a lifeline in Cuba, where, five decades after the Cuban Revolution, many basic goods that Americans take for granted are in short supply: office supplies, clothing, makeup, aspirin, batteries and even cat food.

    The Cuban government blames the 48-year U.S. embargo, which prohibits nearly all commercial trade with the island, with the exception of food and medicine. A historically stagnant Cuban economy hasn’t helped.

    What goods that can be had are often out of reach for average Cubans. A 19-inch flat-screen TV can cost well over $2,000 in the few stores that supply them. That’s far more than the cost of bringing one in from the States, even with the $270 import duty levied on electronics and the extra overweight charges.

    Ten-year-old Daniela Lezcano of West Palm Beach, Fla., flew in alone for a three-week visit with her aunt, uncle, grandfather and other relatives in Pinar del Rio. She was carrying clothing, food, medicine and toys, including a model of a red 1960 Corvette. Her family planned a Christmas feast of roasted pork, sweetened cassava and a typical rice and bean dish known as congri.

    “We are very, very, very happy to see other family members more often” since the travel restrictions were changed, said her uncle, Juan Miguel Guerra Pereira.

    Many say that as important as the gifts are, the emotional reunions are far more significant for families separated by just 90 miles of sea between Cuba and Florida, but torn by decades of Cold War tensions.

    Take Roman Garcia, who said that he and 10 relatives plan to be on hand at the airport to greet his brother when he returns for the first time since leaving Cuba in 1980.

    “We will have to cry a lot. It’s a very beautiful moment, but very sad,” Roman Garcia said. “We will go home together. … He is going to be very happy, because it’s the house where he was born.”,0,4393252.story

  24. MORE ATTEMPTS AT DEFAMING YOANI IN A CUBAN WEB SITE! and by the way Anonimo, this is the first of a series of posts dedicated to YOU!!

    CUBAINFORMACION: Yohandry Fontana – Esa bomba periodística de tiempo que es Wikileaks también ha contribuido a desinflar un poco más al grotesco títere estadounidense bautizado con el nombre de Yoani Sánchez.

    Yoani Sánchez extrae mensualmente unos mil dólares de una de sus cuentas bancarias para cubrir sus gastos en la Isla. Al cambio en Cuba son unos 25 mil pesos mensuales.

    Al fracasar reiteradamente en su intento de sacar del sombrero una figura que encabece a la titulada “oposición cubana”, Washington decidió echar mano a cualquier cosa para lograrlo.

  25. Anonimo! Thanks for the compliment! Lookin forward to your insults, this means I am doing my job!

  26. this site should be call capiro capiro we come to read yoani not you asshole…go take a hike on mt washington and get lost ………………..


    YOUTUBE: Carlos Hernando, director de “Fariñas: el mulato indomable”
    “Cuando triunfemos si ellos (los que hoy gobiernan cuba) van a ser linchados yo podré mi cuerpo para que eso no ocurra”. Estas son palabras de Guillermo Fariñas recogidas en el corto documental que Carlos Hernando ha filmado en Cuba sobre la gesta de este disidente. Su éxito ha propiciado, y el de otros antes que él, propiciaron que varias personas encarceladas en la isla por oponerse a los Castro estén hoy en libertad. Aunque sea en exilio.

  28. LATIN AMERICAN HERALD TRIBUNE: Cuban Dissident Complains of Pressure to Accept Exile

    HAVANA – Cuban dissident Darsi Ferrer said on Friday that the island’s communist government has refused to issue exit visas for his wife and son, who had planned to travel to the United States, calling the move an attempt to “blackmail” him into accepting exile.

    Ferrer, a physician, told Efe that Cuban state security agents made it clear to him that his family will only receive permission to travel to the United States, where his wife wants to receive medical treatment, if he agrees to travel with them.

    “I don’t want to leave the country. I’m embroiled in finding solutions here,” said the dissident, who was released in Havana after 11 months of pre-trial detention.

    He said his wife, Yusnaimy Jorge, and son were issued refugee visas to travel to the United States so that she can receive treatment for a cerebrovascular disease.

    Ferrer said his wife has not yet received an adequate diagnosis or treatment for her illness in Cuba and the purpose of the trip is to improve her prospects for recovery.

    “We decided (that she would travel without him) because I’m convinced it won’t be for that long,” Ferrer said. “We have a lot of friends in the United States and we hope those friendships can help us.”

    Ferrer spoke out a day after the Cuban Catholic Church said two more political prisoners are due to be released, although they are not among a high-profile group of imprisoned dissidents designated “prisoners of conscience” by Amnesty International.

    The Archdiocese of Havana, which has made several other similar announcements, said Thursday that Miguel Angel Vidal Guadarrama and Hector Larroque Rego would be freed.

    Vidal Guadarrama was sent to prison on Jan. 6, 2003, and is serving a 15-year term on terrorism charges, according to the unofficial Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

    For his part, Larroque Rego has been imprisoned since Aug. 27, 2000, having been sentenced to 22 years for strong-arm robbery of a boat, piracy, illegally attempting to flee the country and illegal weapons possession, the commission said.

    The archdiocese said 56 Cuban prisoners have now accepted a deal under which they must relocate to Spain immediately upon their release.

    Following Spanish-backed talks beginning in May between the Catholic hierarchy and President Raul Castro’s government, Havana agreed to release 52 members of the so-called Group of 75 still behind bars, 40 of whom have since been freed on condition they travel to Madrid.

    Eleven members of the Group of 75 – independent journalists and democracy activists who were rounded up and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the communist government’s 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown – have not been released because they have refused to travel to Spain or be placed under parole.

    Of that group, the only one to remain in Cuba after his release is Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, who left prison in November and was paroled “for humanitarian reasons.”

    The Cuban government extended its offer to other prisoners in October and now 16 inmates who were not part of the Group of 75 have agreed to travel to Spain upon their release.

    The commission’s spokesman, Elizardo Sanchez, told Efe Thursday that “what is most noteworthy, disturbing and surprising” is that the government “continues to release prisoners who used force or planned (to use force) to commit crimes, while 11 prisoners of conscience who were adopted by Amnesty International remain behind bars.” EFE

  29. Simba Sez: May there be peace on earth. May there be prosperity for everyone. Joy and Happiness is my wish for all. May hunger be abolished, and sickness be a little used word. May the sheep lie with the wolf in comfort and serenity. Damir, I hope you have a great remainder of the year, and an even better New Year. May everyone whosoever that may read this enjoy a long and fulfilling life.

  30. Everything is wonderful and beautiful out there in “pragmatic capitalism”. or is it? What do the people who have to live in teh “paradise” think?

    Well, they have their own bloggers, but the powers to be would not give them awards that are reserved for the enemies of the left.

    See, telling the truth is not a profitable business. Lying, on the other hand is, so between the team “yoani”, and the truth, the “pragmatic capitalism” will always choose what is best for them: the profit.

    A selection of videos showing usanian politicians and public figures telling it like it is in the “paradise” of “pragmatic capitalism”.

    Only a day or two before the absolute collaps.

    Are you really sure that is what you want for Cuba?

    Because if you do, you are either n ignorant or a criminal.

    Your choice.

  31. Wishing a Marry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to all the readers of Yoani blog.

    Enjoy this video of Celia Cruz celebrating Christmas with the Sonora Matancera orchestra.

  32. Anyone with a grain of education knows that religion is nonsense.

    Here’s one example. Let us star t with the FIRST page in the book of nonsense, called bible:

    “And “god” (my correction of the original text) created a man and a woman. And “god” called them Adam and Eve.

    (fast forward few lines down)

    And “god” expelled Cain from Eden for killing his brother. Cain went out and got married…

    Who did he marry when he and his parents were the ONLY people on Earth created by “god”???

    And a question must be asked who are those people living outside the “paradise”, and who created them, because bible is adamant: the “god” only created Adam and Eve.

    So, from the page ONE, it is clear that there were already people on Earth and were NOT created by “god”.
    And from there the whole concept fails miserably because it is immediately clear that nothing that follows can be accurate and true, since the very first page is a lie.

    Still not convinced?

    Let me shake your “faith” more. As the church had changed the current calendar four times officially, and a few times corrected “minor errors”, when you calculate the day of this supposed “birth” attributed to certain Jesus Christ, you realise that the actual date, after corrections, falls BACK into September according to the jewish calendar, and possibly even August.

    And his real name was not even Jesus Christ, but Immanuel. Which is more appropriate since he is a Jew, not Greek, or Italian. Jesus Christ is a Greek version of his Jewish name.

    So, in short, the christian religion, a derivative of hebrew religion, is based on lies and deception from the page one.

    Of course that in a secular society such a deception should be curbed. Only an idiot can read the story and think it is actually a real story.

    Hell and heavens, christians do not even believe in Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus according to Germans), yet his existence we can confirm with more certainty than that of Immanuel, known as Jesus.

    Are you sure THIS is what you want?

    Careful what you wish for because you may just get it.

    And when you do, who will you blame then for the mistake? Yoani?

    Well, if you believe the nonsense the team “yoani” is spreading here, then you have only YOURSELF to blame when they take over and screw you up and make fools of you.

    And it gets worse, because today no one is pointing a gun at you and forcing you to believe their lies and deception.

  33. The politics and religion do not go hand in hand in a democratic system. Democracy is by default a secular system. To equate a religious holiday with a democracy is a false “democracy” that should be condemned.

    But better cannot be exected from “pragmatic capitalist” like the team “yoani”. Writting ad nauseam about the things that do not matter, and trying to make them appear as if they do is what incompetent and misguided ignorants do.

    The body of writting littered with such incompetence and false ideology speaks for itself.

    Fortunately, the people are not as stupid as the team “yoani” would want them to be.

    But, it is clear that “pragmatic capitalism” is a religion to those like the team “yoani”. No distinction between the two.

    It tells us exactly what values they stand for: none.

    They just fight for their own ideology and want it to be the dominant one.

    Imposing one’s ideology onto the others. Now, where did you hear this one before?

    Form yoani’s idols, brothers Castro.

    Just be careful what you wish for because you might just get it…

  34. Yoani, I always read your site in silence and admiration, but today I felt like I have to say something, it is so true not only in your native Cuba but all over the world to forget that once a year we all should come to stop and think of the things we have done all yera long and the true meaning of the season, Cuba today is paying for the bad things they have done to the cuban people and to try and creat a generation of no soul and hate. Yoani all I ask for christmas is that one day I get to shake your hand and kiss your chick, may God bless you Yoany and keep up the good work, come dicen en nuestro gran paiz, Santa is coming to town.

  35. Pingback: Tweets that mention Generation Y » The Holidays Return --

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