He cleared his throat before explaining why they were meeting, in the sober drama that is rarely seen anymore. In his hands he held, like a script, the blue booklet with the guidelines for the Sixth Communist Party Congress, and behind the table those present included municipal and provincial officials. Before yielding the floor, he stressed that they should stick to what was written on these pages and only discuss economics. He stressed this last word to emphasize it, to ensure that they didn’t claim their right to “free association” or demand that they be allowed “to freely enter and leave the country.” E-CO-NO-MICS, he stressed again, widening his eyes and raising his eyebrows to emphasize it again, while staring directly at the most troublesome employees.

With such an introduction, the meeting became a tedious process, one more task added to the workday. Mechanically, dozens of arms went up when they were asked if they agreed with each point. Awkward silence followed the phrases, “Who is against it?” and a certain fatigue could be noted after each, “And who abstains?” Only one young man questioned the current prohibition against buying cars or houses, but a militant immediately took the floor to read a long eulogy to the figure of the Maximum Leader. And so it was every time someone pointed out a problem, others jumped in to emphasize the country’s achievements. The apologists were stationed equidistant around the auditorium and reacted as if they’d studied a script and rehearsed the choreography. The feeling of being at a staged assembly competed in intensity with the desire to leave — as soon as possible — to go home.

The next day the workplace had returned to its routine. A mechanic who had been sitting very close to the president no longer remembered a single one of the guidelines. The girl from the warehouse summed up the discussion of the previous afternoon for her friends with a simple, “Ah… more of the same.” And the manager’s chauffeur skeptically shrugged his shoulders when a colleague asked what had happened. Many experienced that day as sample of what will happen in the Conference Center next April, a sneak preview of the Cuban Communist Party Congress. In just a few months they will see the same staging unfold on their TV screens, but this time it was they themselves who were the actors, raising their hands in unanimity before the stern gaze of the director.


48 thoughts on “Unanimity

  1. @#46 & 47
    Luis & Ivar welcome to the island … contribute, comment talk, we need each other our bretheren needs us as we need them so: do it again & again !!!

  2. En mis cortas lineas quiero expresarle la mucha simpatia que yo siento por Ud y su esposo, Yo sali de Cuba en el ano 1960 y nunca mas e regresado, pero estoy tan orgulloso de poder decirle a todo el mundo que en Cuba tenemos unos patriotas que no los tienen muchos paises y aunque entre el espanol y el ingles hay veces que se me olvida uno o no me aquerdo del otro pero me orgullese el haber nacido en Cuba sino hubiera nacido en esa isla, hubiera pagodo por haberlo hecho y saber que todavia tenemos patriotas como Uds.
    Dios los vendiga a Ud y al resto de los Cubanos, los que estamos en libertad y los que tambien la quieren

  3. Hi and thanks for a great posts. It is great to have this site to show the real news from Cuba. I have a question for you and others that are fallowing and reading these post, and that is if it is getting stricter and stricter the blockage on the internet in Cuba, it is getting harder and harder for me to chat or to communicate with my friends in Cuba and it seems that more and more sites are getting blocked.
    How is it does anyone know or have any information of an site or a webpage that is still open.

    thanks again for great posts


  4. The rebolution takes for granted it knows what the Cuban people thinks & feels however … what the rebolution underestimates & attempts to deny will make it fall, sooner than later.
    Viva Cuba Libre!!!

  5. Expat?
    I guess the rebolutionaries at cubadebate are getting desperate for english speaking volunteer defenders & protectors.
    Doesn’t anyone realize that the “debating style” you use are the same & just as ineffective no matter the identity of the “contributor?
    I guess you are all in concert as to what your reality is; the exercise of that type of democracy by intimidation & cohertion.
    Who would really express one self in such atmosphere?
    People rather shake their heads up & down in outward agreement.
    Keep oin mind there is no way I know for the rebolution & its defender/protectors to read minds … there is the threat,

  6. Colin, I responded to all you points. You, to none of mine. After continually denying that you made disparaging remarks about Yoani, I quoted you one of your disparaging remarks, and you can’t admit that you lied or were wrong. Now you try to justify your disparaging remarks. You have not provided one statement of hers that you know to be false, but continue to talk in vague generalities, and constantly divert attention from the fact you can’t support one statement you’ve made.

    People like you are a dime a dozen, whether you’re a rich capitalist who care nothing for the poor, or an armchair socialist living in Havana who cares nothing for the poor, makes know difference – you’re just stuck in your own make-believe world and care nothing about the real world that surrounds you. Again, have you ever been sent to prison for 20 years for attending a peaceful demonstration? And why do Cuban hospitals starve their patients to death? Just two of my many questions, none of which you are capable of answering.

    You have contributed nothing but attacks and insults to this blog, and apparently are never wrong. I think you should be the next leader of Cuba.

  7. Pity you made amost no attempt to respond to #40. You could have done it quite systematically if you actually had any substance.
    And the only partial attempt to respond to mY questions/points was this “Do you have any evidence she portrays herself as more economically downtrodden than she is? That she hides any of her “wealth”?

    “Answer: In terms of the first question – virtually every post of hers because she doesn’t write about “them” or “mamy Cubans” but always says “us/we”. Once again if you think that she struggles financially (as opposed to many Cubans) then either you are stupid or lying.
    Those of us ex-pats do see her quite frequently – including of course with the lap tops accessing hotels/internet/websites that the few writing on this site say is just not possible.
    You would be much more credible if you accepted that Sanchez’s existence is not the stuff that you ascribe to ‘most Cubans”! And for the nth time I don’t criticise her for that existence – just the odd bouts (but almost understandable) dishonesty.

  8. #40, Ok Colin, I’ll bite. Here’s one of your disparaging remarks of Yoani: “And thirdly Sanchez is far from being economically downtrodded as she sometimes understandably polemically portrays herself. Nor is there anything wrong that she has access to such wealth.” Do you have any evidence she portrays herself as more economically downtrodden than she is? That she hides any of her “wealth”? Can you provide one quote of hers that you know factually to be wrong at the time of writing? who’s the polemicist?

    As for the rest of your post, like Igor said you would do, you selected everything out of context and refused to address any of my points. Egyptians and other North Africans who I’ve met in North America believe life is better there than in Cuba, that’s who. You have yet to explain why millions of Tunisians and Egyptians who envy the Cuban poor don’t immigrate to Cuba. Or why Cuban hospitals starve their patients to death, but Tunisian hospitals don’t. My proof of your lack of awareness is your claim that millions (“a large proportion”) of Tunisians and Egyptians would envy the life of “the poorest of the poor” in Cuba. So either Tunisians and Egyptians would love to starve to death, or you’re ignorant of the poverty in Cuba, which is it? All elites, whether “capitalist”, “progressive”, “socialist”, or “put label here”, find it easy to ignore the plight of the poor and oppressed in regimes they sympathize with – are you any different?

    And what’s with the spy quote? I never claimed you were a spy, just the fact that you don’t understand why Cubans would think you’re a spy again reveals your ignorance of Cuban society. And my other comments meant that Cubans are very interested and admiring of Yoani when we tell them about her. Almost nobody, including party members, had heard of her before we told them about her, talk about well-informed. You are fortunate to have a Cuban friend who knows so much about her. So has anyone ever thrown you in jail for 20 years for attending a peaceful demonstration? Have you ever risked anything to oppose a repressive regime?

    Instead of answering, why don’t we end our discussion on a positive note. Why not tell the readers any of your perceptions of Cuban society, and how you would resolve some of its problems? For example, should the commander allow opposition parties to run in free elections? Or what reforms should be made so that doctors don’t steal food, medicine and clothing from their patients? Any constructive suggestions would help.

  9. #26
    “… since there are people from both countries[Tunisia and Egypt], who think life is better there than in Cuba”
    Which/what people??? Source?

    “So far you’ve said or insinuated that Cuban hotels don’t discriminate against Cubans – false, they systematically do.”
    How “systematically”? Please explain this to the large no of richer Cubans who now frequent hotels and resorts.

    “That hotels in New York and London discriminate in a similar manner – also false.”
    Actually I said or implied that ‘wealth/money’ or at least perceptions of this is also clearly in the mind of New York/London doormen.

    ” That Cubans have web access and are well informed – also false, few have access and few are well informed.”
    Really where did I say this – other than refuting the common statement here that NO ONE has access – and giving examples of some that do?? Surely it easy to lift a direct quote from what I have allegedly written unless…..?

    “That few Cubans seem interested in Yoani or the dissident movement – again false, most of them are very interested and full of admiration, but have to be informed by outsiders.”
    At last something I did say rather something you imagined I said. But how do you substantiate YOUR assertion? Indeed there are often posts on this site who bemoan how few Cubans have heard of Sanchez but explain that away because of those Cubans lack of access to ‘appropriate’ information.

    ” Then you state that large numbers of people in some other countries envy the life of the poorest of the poor in Cuba, yet you seem unaware of the life of the poor in Cuba. ”
    How am I unaware of the life of the poor when I travel extensively throughout Cuba?
    What’s proof of awareness – agreeing with your selective views? Again I wonder how extensively you have lived/travelled in Cuba?

    “And a final point, I showed your posts to other people who have been to Cuba, and the first thing they said is you must be part of the Cuban service.”
    Ah I am now convinced – it must be true because they said so.
    BTW even ‘straight’ travel sites have people who regularly travel/live in Cuba who say similar things to me.We can’t all be Cuban spies despite your paranoia.

    Doesn’t mean I’m correct but there is certainly a greater spectrum of views than is implied by the few frequenters of this site. Hence my original post that most of the few inhabitants of this site behave similarly to the style so criticised by Sanchez in this blog.

    And why is it that you have been unable to substantiate this??!!
    “You have made disparaging remarks about Yoani based on what some Cuban you know has told you about her. ”
    ……again surely lifting a quote from my writing to corroborate your allegation should be simple unless of course ……

  10. #28 well, at least I try – still waiting for your
    justification of this falsehood “These 2 MINIT clowns are ONLY posting anti-Yoani poison and Castro propaganda.There is no substance in their posts only denigration of Yoani.”
    Should be so easy to reproduce a denigratory comment – but of course you can’t do it.

  11. Humberto:
    first let me thank you again & again for your dedication !
    A chisme here seems to be a teasing tool of provocation.
    When I was younger I had an aquaintance about my age who loved to tease all creatures weaker than him,pecially a neighbor’s dog.
    This dog was big & mean & I guess from all the teasing he particularly hated my aquaintance.
    The guy’s routine was to run a piece of wood along the fence, the sound of that piece of wood against the metal drove the poor dog insane, his frustration was marked by his barking & snarling while the guy used the strength of the fence as the fuel for his non existing bravery.
    Well … as always happens …one day the fance gate was left open, the ritual commenced as usual till the point of the gate … I think the dog realized the ngate was open before they guy realize that is false courage was about to be exposed.
    I never again had the chance of seen so fast a running by a human being nor the pain from so much laughing … the dog … boy was he happy in his change to deliver justice.
    So all be aware of fances & gates before teasing a big & mean dog unless you can run faster than the wind.

  12. Damir, Damir! There you go again, insulting those here and making it as though we are one or two where we are many! Typical trick by the Castrofacist to defame with gossip and innuendo. We call it “chisme” in Cuban!

  13. HUDSON N.Y. : The Tunisian Revolution As Seen By Cuba-by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

    February 2, 2011 The Tunisian Revolution did not echo only in the Arab world, but also in Latin America. After the fall of the former Tunisian President Ben Ali, the Mexican paper “La Mañana” wrote that this was a “clear message to the other authoritarian leaders in the world: a dictator fell and sooner or later the other dictators will also follow the same fate. The op-ed stresses that regimes such as the one in La Havana are now feeling uncertain, and anxious that similar protests could also explode in their countries. Cuban dissidents, too, see many similarities, especially between the Castro regime, in power for more the fifty years, and the dictatorship in Tunisia, which for 23 years had been pillaging the country.

    In Tunisia, as in Cuba, there are more than a million exiled people, and a frustrated youth with high-education, but no employment. In Tunisia, there are pockets of real poverty, particularly in the interior regions, such as Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine, where the revolt started. The unemployment rate is 14.7%, for a population of ten and a half million. Further, salaries for manual labor are unbearably low: having a job does not always avoid having a miserable life.

    In Cuba, with a population similar to Tunisia’s — around 11 million, — an administrative chaos reigns. Even though, as the Associated Press reports, unemployment is minuscule — it has not risen above 3% in eight years — the official data ignore “thousands of Cubans who are not looking for jobs that pay monthly salaries worth only $20 a month on average.”

    Tunisia was a police state, as Cuba still is. During Ben Ali’s regime, policemen in plain clothes and network of spies were everywhere. Outside a supermarket in Tunis, you could even see a shoeshine pull out a big walkie-talkie, like those in use with the police, and talk to somebody clearly not his wife. After a while, in Tunisia, you are under the impression that Big Brother is always watching you.

    In Cuba, it is the same. As reported on the State Department website: “Cuba is a totalitarian police state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. These methods include intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Cuban citizens and foreign visitors.”

    Further, in Tunisia, as in any dictatorship, public order was implemented with force — all too often excessive force – without taking into account torture practices used behind closed doors and in prisons, as many witnesses have recounted during the last few days. Once, you could even seen a beggar without legs being harshly taken away, and the person who accompanied him being repeatedly punched in the head. Such unnecessary violence was a standard practice.

    In Cuba, Human Rights Watch reports, conditions in prisons are inhuman, and political prisoners suffer additional degrading treatment and torture. The dissident website Cubanet writes that “day and night, the screams of tormented women [in prison] in panic and desperation who cry for God’s mercy fall upon the deaf ears of prison authorities. They are confined to narrow cells with no sunlight called ‘drawers’ that have cement beds, a hole on the ground for their bodily needs, and are infested with a multitude of rodents, roaches, and other insects”.

    Tunisia, like Cuba, was also a country with no freedom of press. One of the main dailies, in French, La Presse, contained only a list of presidential activities and praise and applauses for the regime’s personalities. Even the foreign press was kept under control. There was also the problem of corruption — that does not exempt the Socialist Cuba. In Tunisia, not only there was a rampant corruption from the members of the government-for-life, but even the President’s family was one of the main actors in robbing the country. The President’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, fled Tunisia after having taken 1.5 tons of gold from the Central Bank; and her family had been borrowing money from the bank at an interest of 0.25 per thousand (not per cent, which would already be negligible, but per thousand).

    The only difference from Cuba is that Tunisia was considered by many Western governments as a “moderate” country, seen as a buttress against Islamism. Although Ben Ali himself used religion to give credibility to his regime, under his dictatorship Islamism grew as it represented the only real and strong opposition. Cuba instead lives under an embargo.

    In the meantime, while the Tunisians are still fighting for their freedoms, hoping that the future will not be uncertain, in Cuba the opponents to the regime write that the “Jasmine Revolution” has renewed their hopes.

    This new hope is why the Cuban government pretends that almost nothing has happened in Tunisia: it fears similar protests. The media outlet, Diario de Cuba, writes that every year Ben Ali would send messages to La Havana to congratulate it for the anniversary of its triumphant Revolución. Even this year, in the midst of the protests, on January 6, Ben Ali expressed his desire to serve the interests of these two friendly countries. However, “there was not even one line in the Cuban press on the fall of the ‘friend’ Ben Ali. And until now, we could not enjoy one of those farsighted ‘reflections'[1] by Fidel Castro illustrating the subject. What a pity!”


  14. Capitive meetings
    who would at this time express his/herself freely?
    Who would not be affraid of the repercusions?
    Are there any clear protections for freedom of expression in such meetings?
    I can help but wonder since the rebolution “is” worked in Cuba, why:
    the procecution of dissidents?
    why neighborhood police?
    why control the movement of people around the country?
    why travel control for cuban citizens to rest of the world?
    why …?
    Then again “vamos bien”
    What has happened to the cuban coffe?
    What has happened to most of the cuban production of fruit?
    What has happened to most of the production of vegetables?
    Then again “adelante companeros, patria o muerte venceremos”
    Old slogans perhaps effective yesteryear, today … are just that, slogans.
    Even after years of political indoctrination, the brain washing of children & the dependency in entitlements, things are changing inevitably.
    The rebolution is holding on to power by enacting small changes here & there, hoping the patchwork of “reforms” will safeguard their reign.
    But there is not just discontent among the people, ther is anger at the results of over fifty years of the same: sacrifice while things get worse.
    Slogans no longer are as effective as once were, turned into lies are not producing the desired effect for the rebolution rather create more questions rather more questions & discontent.
    Freedom of expression in not compulsatory, is not controlled & not based in fear of retributionThe meetings hed are not true in their achivements (if any) unless freedom of expression is the norm, any other way is just posturing on the part of the rebolution.
    So attending a “meeting” in Cuba is not an expression of freedom rather the result of fear for what would happen to the lives of whom either does not attend or expresses a different opinion, of point of view from the ones held by the rebolutionary member in charge.
    But: “lets be like che”
    Mugriento, asesino, egotista, mentiroso, sabe lo todo, mal pariente, esposo, hijo y ladron, not necessarily in this order … yet; “the perfect rebolutionary, ideologe & strategist of the 20th. century”
    Masterfully manipulated by fidel, his military legacy marked by the loss of life of his “companeros” & the failure of all his missions.

  15. Igor:

    When the Castro-fascist press shows students and other protests in countries such as Great Britain, and then blame the democratic system that allows it, they are projecting their own profound problems and fears on someone else. Since they they don’t allow any demonstrations because they know there is the potential for mass protests, they, in their twisted ways, try to dilute away their fears by assigning or explaining away the problem to someone else, thereby projecting who they themselves are. In other words, they’re using England as a projection screen and blaming the British government or system for everything that’s wrong with they themselves!!

    Pychologists and psychiatrists have long recognized this phenomenom in individuals, who try to explain their mental disturbance away, by critizicing or assigning the problem to others. Except in the case of Cuba, the criminal dictators do it, on a much larger scale, comdemning entire societies. They do this to misinform and misguide the population, and since the people are lacking a free press, unlike the therapists, they are unable to recognize the decease or farce.

    In this case you have robotic writters and faux journalists who may be idiots or who may enjoy certain privileges not available to the people, and pass on or spread the story, bogus analysis or decease to the population.

  16. Post 21 yubano/igor/humberto, and many other nicks, the fact that someone as old and as stupid as the poster above has to use tens of different nicks to poorly hide his singular presence is the sign of times:

    the “democrats” among the cuban mafia in Miami are few and far in between.

    The time is taking its’ toll and removing the losers off the scene.

    It is only a matter of time.

    In the meantime, the usanians themselves are fuming over embargo and stupidity of their own governments.

    Time for usanians to to get out on the streets and reshuffle their own dictatorship.

  17. John Two,

    Those who stick to political ideologies to give their lives meaning are those who fall into that trap, is much like a cult. You can be left or right of center and still stand up for human rights and see beyond propaganda.

  18. MIAMI HERALD: Egypt protests could resonate — even in Cuba- by Jackie Bueno Sousa

    Many things are difficult to find in Cuba.

    Rice. Sugar. Laundry detergent. Cooking oil. Rebels.

    The first four items you’ll likely find in many food markets throughout the world. The last you’ll see by the thousands in the streets of Egypt, spilling from blogs in Tunisia, teeming on campuses in Yemen.

    But not in Cuba.

    Not that it’s impossible to find a rebel in Cuba. There are a handful of prisoners who try to bring about change through hunger strikes, a few bloggers who dare criticize the Castro regime, several dozen moms and wives of political prisoners who periodically spill onto the streets in protest.

    More often, however, you find the remnants of a rebel. I’ve met my share during my visits there — old men and women who dedicated their lives to creating a system they now despise. They sit silent now, unable to defend their life’s work.

    They stood tall and proud once. Some were soldiers. Others were educators or civic leaders. Many wielded substantial influence until they made the mistake of disagreeing with this or that policy.

    They dreamt of building a great society, of being part of a revolution that would bring a better future for their children. Instead, they now watch hopelessly as their children flee to Miami or Spain, taking their grandchildren with them.


    And what do their children see? They see old, broken down revolutionaries who wasted their lives. They see the futility of revolution, idealism shattered and scattered like crumbs to be pecked by passing pigeons.

    “Me fight?” one middle-aged Cuban told me recently. His father had been a rebel fighter and leader who died several years ago, already an old man out of favor with the Castro regime and disillusioned with what his revolution wrought.

    “I saw my father spend his life giving and giving to a revolution. And for what? For nothing. And now I’m supposed to be a rebel. I’m supposed to risk my life and child’s future on a new revolution. For what?”


    No, Cuba isn’t like Egypt, where the wider availability of Internet access has enabled a virtual freedom of assembly.

    It isn’t like the old East Germany, where many critics had little choice but to stay put rather than flee to nearby freedom.

    It isn’t like Soviet-controlled Poland, where revolution and rebellion were romanticized notions that held the promise of a better future.

    Cuba is its own unique concoction of circumstances, events and experiences that have turned it into a living dichotomy: It promotes communism, yet raw, uncontrolled capitalism festers in its streets. Its leaders preach equality, yet they are immune to the hardships endured by the average citizen. It shuns material possessions, yet its people spend almost every waking moment in search of basic goods.

    To this list of ironies, add one more: Cuba’s revolution is a failure, and that failure allows the revolution to endure.


    So as the world watches hundreds of thousands of people in Egypt rebel and demand change, the results will matter beyond the Middle East. It will resonate in every place where people no longer believe they can make a difference, where they’ve forgotten that the will of the people can be something of a force rather than something to be forced.

    And in some places, such as Cuba, it could hold the promise that some revolutions do indeed live up to their ideals.


  19. Regarding the article quoted from in post #6.

    Bill Tieleman is an influential left wing commentator and political activist in the Canadian province of British Columbia. His Cuba column has stirred up quite a lot of mostly negative comment, especially in the Tyee, a left leaning online newspaper to which Tieleman is a regular contributor.

    My politics are decidedly left of center. But like Tieleman I find it distressing that all too many people on the political left are prepared to rationalize, excuse or even defend the systematic human rights abuses of the Castro regime, abuses that they would not tolerate were they taking place in their own country.

  20. Good questions, Love Cuba. Unfortunatlly Colin answers selectively. Pure propaganda. “More of the same” right Colin ?

  21. Lothar, who knows maybe their arguments wont be pointless and cynical! They have never been given a chance since the Castrofacist Era!

  22. Colin, you’ve finally said something that is half-true, I haven’t been to Egypt or Tunisia. Although my remarks hardly prove it, since there are people from both countries, who think life is better there than in Cuba, although of course, they could be deluded. I would still like to know of a hospital in either country where doctors starve their patients to death. And why isn’t Cuba filled with Tunisian and Egyptian workers? Or from any other country where large proportions of the people envy the life of the Cuban poor?

    So far you’ve said or insinuated that Cuban hotels don’t discriminate against Cubans – false, they systematically do. That hotels in New York and London discriminate in a similar manner – also false. That Cubans have web access and are well informed – also false, few have access and few are well informed. That few Cubans seem interested in Yoani or the dissident movement – again false, most of them are very interested and full of admiration, but have to be informed by outsiders. Then you state that large numbers of people in some other countries envy the life of the poorest of the poor in Cuba, yet you seem unaware of the life of the poor in Cuba. Again, where is that hospital in Tunisia that starves its patients to death?

    And a final point, I showed your posts to other people who have been to Cuba, and the first thing they said is you must be part of the Cuban service. The fact you don’t understand that people would seriously think you are a Cuban spy, is the most telling sign that you understand nothing of the society you have traveled so much in. If you have been saying in Cuba what you have been posting here, or anything positive about their government, almost no Cuban will trust you or tell you their honest opinion about anything. In the country where you live, are you constantly harassed by police for criticizing the government on the internet? Are you surrounded by mobs as you leave your house? Were you ever thrown in jail for 20 years for attending a peaceful demonstration? Have you ever stuck your neck out as much as the Cuban dissidents have?

  23. I can’t wait for Cubans to have Internet access and a free exchange of ideas. They too can know the joys of pointless Internet arguments that waste everyone’s time. Yay, democracy.

  24. #13 “These 2 MINIT clowns are ONLY posting anti-Yoani poison and Castro propaganda.There is no substance in their posts only denigration of Yoani.

    They are not real people living outside Cuba. They are just puppets of regime who is about to collapse.”

    To accuse you of being a puppet would imply that those pulling the strings are not very intelligent given these mindless repeated cliches.

    Post just ONE direct quote from me that is a “denigration” of Sanchez.

    BTW its a very slow collapse isn’t it? There are dozens of more repressive regimes in the world with more significant dissent. As to why remains truely a mystery to me despite reading many theories about this.

  25. #16
    Thanks for re-confirming how apposite my original post was “Do you see the parallel between the contents of Sanchez’ latest blog above and your own behaviours? It is quite simply “..more of the same”.”

  26. “#10, Colin, you have avoided answering any point I have brought up…”
    Must have missed your response to my request for you to substantiate the following..

    “You have made disparaging remarks about Yoani based on what some Cuban you know has told you about her. ”

    Really what remarks precisely? Most of my remarks were based on personal observation. Plus one quote from a Cuban who I know well who first pointed her out to me. What was disparaging about either my comment or the quoted one?

    ” How do you know what you’ve been told is true?”
    What have I been told? In other words if this is too obtuse for you what things that I have been told are you specifically referring to??

    “In Cuban homes, I’ve often seen living conditions worse than the worst slum or homeless shelter I’ve seen in North America.”
    Not sure how widely you have travelled in the USA either but for you to doubt that in Tunisia and Egypt the conditions of the ‘poor’ are not worse than in Cuba proves you have not been to either place.

  27. Post 2 and 18, (and others from the same nobody filled with self-engranding arrogance that only emanates from the ignorance, as clearly expressed in the post 2) demonstrate a confusion and ignorance. Yet the same insulting poster dares to attack others from a high “moral” position that even those in the know have little right to use.

    Being a cuban mafioso obvously comes ata significant cost in the intellectual department.

    Self-serving righteousness only leads to self-isolation.

    I wonder if any of the self-righteous losers will understand that… (I can safely guess that they won’t)

  28. REUTERS AFRICA: FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Cuba-By Jeff Franks

    HAVANA Feb 1 (Reuters) – Reforms aimed at modernizing Cuba’s troubled economy will be key as President Raul Castro tries to ensure that the communist system put in place five decades ago survives once its aging leaders are gone.

    The debt-ridden government is short of cash and is looking to reduce its role while maintaining control of an economy with a bigger private sector and less state spending.

    It could get long-term help if offshore oil exploration begins as planned in mid-2011 [ID:nN07233718], although ongoing rocky relations with the United States could interfere.


    Castro has begun slashing 500,000 jobs from state payrolls in a process that was supposed to conclude by March, but looks likely to take longer.

    About 200,000 of those jobs are expected to shift over to employee-run cooperatives converted from businesses now operated by the state or rental arrangements for such things as taxis.

    The government also has begun issuing 250,000 new licenses for self employment and for the first time, the self-employed are able to hire workers.

    At least 75,000 permits have been granted so far, and new small businesses selling food, pirated DVDs or other items have begun popping up.

    Self-employment was allowed in communist Cuba after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the island’s main ally. In 2009, there were 143,000 licensed self-employed, and many more illegal ones.

    The government now hopes to create jobs quickly enough to absorb the laid-off government workers. After the first 500,000 jobs are cut, it plans to slash another 500,000 in the next few years, with more private sector expansion likely to come.

    In April, the ruling Communist Party will hold its first Congress since 1997 to ratify the reforms, many of which are already in action. Cubans are now debating them at forums across the island. [ID:nN09241030]

    Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel Castro as president in 2008, has said the reforms are critical to maintaining the communist system installed after the 1959 revolution. But it is unclear whether they will increase productivity and strengthen the economy as he hopes.

    Many Cubans are interested in working for themselves but are concerned that regulations, taxes and lack of credit will kill their businesses. [ID:nN25269725]

    Also, there are worries that planned job cuts may lead to social problems in a country where people basically have been guaranteed employment for decades. [ID:nN06122809]

    Castro has made other reforms, particularly in agriculture where he wants to raise output to cut dependence on budget-draining food imports. But food production has declined as farmers complain they are still too stifled by the state.

    What to watch:

    — The numbers and performance of the newly self employed.

    — The effects of government layoffs.

    — Agricultural production.


    Cuba, drained of cash by hurricanes in 2008 and by the global financial crisis, defaulted on payments and froze foreign business bank accounts two years ago. [ID:nN02159253]

    The situation has eased but is not yet resolved [ID:nN24211495] and Castro has cut spending, slashed imports by a third and sought more state income to avert future cash shortages.

    Cuba is hoping to collect taxes from the newly self-employed and boost revenues from old standbys like nickel exports and tourism, two of its top hard currency earners.

    The government has said it will allow construction of golf course developments, with the goal of attracting wealthier tourists. [ID:nN04118234]

    U.S. President Barack Obama recently eased prohibitions on U.S. travel to Cuba [ID:nN14205232], but most Americans still cannot visit due to a trade embargo imposed since 1962.

    What to watch:

    — Nickel prices, start of golf course projects.

    — Efforts to tax self-employed.


    Havana has big hopes for future oil development and is anxiously waiting for a consortium led by Spanish oil firm Repsol YPF to drill an exploratory well in Cuba’s part of the Gulf of Mexico in 2011. The rig contracted by Repsol is expected to arrive in Cuban waters in late June or early July.

    U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan of Florida has introduced legislation that would authorize punitive action against companies who drill in offshore Cuba, saying exploration there poses environmental dangers. U.S. oil companies are forbidden by the trade embargo from operating in Cuba. [ID:nN24203352]

    Other companies such as Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas — in partnership with Russian firm Gazprom Neft — and a unit of India’s ONGC plan to use the same Chinese-built rig to drill in their offshore Cuban leases. Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft said it would explore in two blocks off Cuba’s coast in 2011 but is looking for partners. [ID:nN03329371]

    Cuba, which depends heavily on imports from its oil-rich socialist ally Venezuela, says it may have 20 billion barrels of oil in its waters, although the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated 5 billion barrels of oil.

    A unit of China National Petroleum Corp is set to begin a $6 billion upgrade of Cuba’s Cienfuegos refinery, with financing mostly by China’s Eximbank, backed by Venezuelan oil. [ID:nN22266891]

    What to watch:

    — Repsol’s exploratory well in Cuban waters.

    — Fate of U.S. legislation on Cuba drilling.

    — China’s growing presence in Cuba’s energy sector.


    U.S.-Cuba relations have thawed slightly under Obama, but prospects for further improvement are hindered by Cuba’s detention of U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross. [ID:nN24221723]

    Gross has been jailed since December 2009 on suspicion of espionage and providing illegal satellite communications equipment to government opponents.

    Washington says he was merely helping Jewish groups set up Internet access but Cuba is suspicious because he was working for a U.S. program promoting political change on the island.

    A U.S. official recently expressed cautious optimism that Gross will be tried, then freed. [ID:nN13112064]

    The Cuban government is in the process of releasing political prisoners and sending them to Spain to resolve one of its biggest problems with the international community and to get its opponents out of the country

    While U.S. reaction has been guarded, the European Union has instructed its foreign affairs chief to explore improved relations with Cuba.

    Cuba has steadily built relations with other key countries, among them China, Brazil, Russia and Spain. It has a special relationship with top trading partner Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chavez is close to Fidel Castro and agreed in November to extend economic cooperation for another 10 years.

    What to watch:

    — Fate of Alan Gross.

    — Continued release of political prisoners.

    — U.S. and EU reaction to Cuban reforms.

    (Editing by Kieran Murray)


  29. coldinchicago,

    some months ago while being in Cuba I was watching the news and the great propaganda aparatus of the Cuban television was showing some unrest from England, where students were destrying some cars. Cubans were informed that those students were poor and they were protesting among other things because of high tuition. The Cuban television forgot to mention that in England people/students have a right to protest without being assaulted by the police and thrown in jail. They also forgot to mention that brits can travel wherever they want without an exit visa.

    I bet that if the Cuban television shows the Cairo protest they are telling the Cubans that the Egyptians are demonstrating because want to have a communist regime for the next 10 centuries.

  30. While we dwell on little piccadillos, which detract from the ultimate, necessary goal for Cuba, the Egyptians are doing what it takes to take down their own old and ineffective dictator. The government has stopped trains and buses from circulating, and people are still walking in from other cities and towns to protest. One million are gathered today asking for Mubarak to go.

    We should try to make sure that people in Cuba are fully informed of what is going on outside their island world, and how Tunisians and Egyptians are taking matters into their own hands to effect their desired outcome. Whether telling friends, relatives on a one to one basis.

    Maybe another Maleconaso is in the not too distant future just like the video in the following link from 1994 in Old Havana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKj5w1kDps0

  31. Love Cuba,

    IF he is a Castro sympatizer he should start his own blog where he can write about how good Cubans have it in Cuba. Cubans have a special place in my heart as I lived as they live now. Shortage of food, elecricity, shortage of everything but propaganda and cult of personality. There was never shortage of propaganda…

  32. #13 Igor, I know what you’re saying, and you could be right. But I know more than a few people so filled with hatred of capitalism, the USA, or whatever else, that they refuse to open their eyes when visiting a country like Cuba. He could be a well-known journalist and Castro sympathizer for all we know, he does claim to travel a lot. I do agree with you about his posts having no substance so far, but I will wait and see if honest, open exchanges with him is possible.

  33. Humberto, thank you for sharing the movie. I had the pleasure of being in Havana at that time. Indeed it was cold at night. We had to turn the heat on ( on the AC) at the hotel at night. There is something missing from those pictures: The Castro brothers really took on behaving like Dr. Mengele. How come they did not get arrested ???

  34. While Colin is working overtime, Dumbir is taking a vacation. These 2 MINIT clowns are ONLY posting anti-Yoani poison and Castro propaganda.There is no substance in their posts only denigration of Yoani.

    Most of the people who never experienced life in a communist Gulag ( I had my training in Eastern Europe ) might belive that Colin and Dumbir are real people living outside Cuba. They are not real people living outside Cuba. They are just puppets of regime who is about to collapse.

  35. #10, Colin, you have avoided answering any point I have brought up, have denied saying what you have said, are being deliberately obtuse when it suits your purposes. And you accuse others of refusing to engage in rational debate? For example, show us a Tunisian hospital where doctors starve their patients to death? Or explain why a Tunisian would want to starve to death in Cuba, as the sum of your posts imply “a large proportion” of them would. And you refuse to give us examples of the type of travelling you do in Cuba. I for example, have met Cuban doctors and seen the insides of their hospitals. Doctors, including Communist party members working in better than average Cuban hospitals, tell me their system is a complete disaster. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Some people travelling with me who have seen hospitals in other third-world countries tell me Cuba is the worst they’ve seen. In Cuban homes, I’ve often seen living conditions worse than the worst slum or homeless shelter I’ve seen in North America. I saw an old woman blinded through malnutrition, and know others have starved to death, without any possibility of the medical or social assistance we, including the homeless, take for granted in North America. Of course, now they have churches, visitors like me, and families outside of Cuba providing the social assistance the state claims it provides, or starvation would be widespread. Why is this and what does it say about the two systems? Please provide one example to back up anything you’ve said. If you could show us a Tunisian hospital where doctors starve their patients to death, it would be a start. Maybe a large number of Tunisians do want to starve to death in Cuba, but can you provide some evidence are were you exaggerating?

    I don’t want to know your identity. Just curious why your observations differ from my own and most of the Cubans I’ve met. I believe I’m being very polite and respectful, and sticking to the points at hand.

  36. YOUTUBE: Muertos en Hospital Psiquiátrico Cubano – Sistema de Salud Socialista – Recomendamos Discreción- Deaths in Psychiatric Hospital in Cuba- pictures are disturbing and there are no excuses, the facist goverment IS RESPONSIBLE.

  37. #7
    “You have made disparaging remarks about Yoani based on what some Cuban you know has told you about her. ”
    Raelly what remarks precisely? Most of my remarks were based on personal observation. Plus one quote from a Cuban who I know well who first pointed her out to me. What was disparaging about either my comment or the quoted one?

    ” How do you know what you’ve been told is true?”
    What have I been told?

    “And you have made the (I think exaggerated) claim that many Tunisians and Egyptians would envy the life of the poorest of the poor in Cuba? ”
    An opinion based on extensive travel in all 3 countries. I can’t believe you have been to either Tunisia or Egypt.

    “When posters here say nobody can access the internet in Cuba, or people are too afraid to criticize the maximum leader directly, they obviously mean as a whole”
    But not one of these same people when called on the ‘exageration’ then correct their statements to what you suggest they really meant when invited to do so. Indeed they keep repeating the same untruths ad nauseum. To repeat these untruths incessently only serves to call into doubt their other statements.

    ” I am very curious to know what sort of travelling you do in Cuba and what sort of Cubans you meet? What are your political views?”

    “If you think suspicions about you being a member of MININT are ridiculous, you should know how Cuban bloggers feel when they are accused of being CIA agents. ”
    Doesn’t worry me in the slightest as it is patently laughable. What I suggested was that very few people here would believe this of me so hence what purpose does repeatedly accusing me of this status serve? As with a few of the other things you have written please respond what I have actually said rather than what you think I have said.

    ” I am very curious to know what sort of travelling you do in Cuba and what sort of Cubans you meet? What are your political views?”
    All sorts of travel, all over the island, all sorts of people- don’t really understand the question. Political views – not sure what that means.

    Do PLEASE elaborate on your own experiences/views and that might assist me to understand what you are getting at. Interesting how it appears you want me to establish some sort of ‘credentials’ when no body else here does particularly those who clearly demonstrate little or no recent experience in Cuba at all. But perhaps you can sucinctly establish yours.


    BBC NEWS: Cuban court sentences doctors for cold snap deaths

    The director of a psychiatric hospital in Cuba where 26 patients died from hypothermia last year has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

    Twelve other staff at the hospital in the capital Havana also received sentences of between five and 14 years.

    Critics of the government say the deaths exposed failings in Cuba’s health system, which the communist authorities hail as a top achievement.

    The tribunal said the accused were guilty of neglect.

    The patients died of hypothermia and other ailments during a spell of unusually cold weather in January 2010.

    The independent Cuban Human Rights Commission at the time blamed the deaths on “criminal negligence” and the dilapidated state of the hospital, which houses around 2,500 patients.

    The prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 14 years for the hospital director, Wilfredo Castillo Donate, but the tribunal gave him 15, citing aggravating circumstances.

    The prosecutor said the hospital had sufficient recourses to prevent the deaths, but had failed to take precautions ahead of the cold snap – such as distributing extra blankets and moving patients to warmer rooms.

    The 13 staff have 10 days to appeal against the sentence.


  39. #6 Humberto,
    can you imagine how the writer would feel if he ever saw the state of its medical system and knew that all its statistics were fabrications? Cuban medicine is a sparkling example of the effectiveness of propaganda, something is repeated so often and by so many different people, it simply must be true.

    Thanks again for posting.

  40. Colin, if you read over your posts, you might realize that they too contain what many readers would consider insults and gross exaggerations. You have made disparaging remarks about Yoani based on what some Cuban you know has told you about her. How do you know what you’ve been told is true? And you have made the (I think exaggerated) claim that many Tunisians and Egyptians would envy the life of the poorest of the poor in Cuba? Are you aware that people have starved to death in Cuba? Even in its hospitals, robbed of their food and clothing by hospital staff. Thanks to dissidents who now release information like the deaths at the psychiatric hospital, instead of covering it up like in the good old days, we are better informed of the sins of their government. Do doctors starve their patients to death in Tunisia? If so, I’d like to know.

    When posters here say nobody can access the internet in Cuba, or people are too afraid to criticize the maximum leader directly, they obviously mean as a whole. People are less afraid these days, so there are more exceptions, but do exceptions make the rule? And we all exaggerate sometimes, don’t we? I still find the ignorance of Cubans incredible, I mean the ones who want to know about the outside world, but can’t. I know Cubans who hate their government with a passion, and want to know everything, yet have never heard of Yoani or the Ladies in White, even when they have been demonstrating a mile away. Hard to believe, but true.

    If you think suspicions about you being a member of MININT are ridiculous, you should know how Cuban bloggers feel when they are accused of being CIA agents. Except they are accused by a corrupt government that can hurt them, while you are accused by a few posters who can at most insult you over the internet.

    I respect any opinions you might have and perceptions that are different than mine. I am very curious to know what sort of travelling you do in Cuba and what sort of Cubans you meet? What are your political views? I’m sure there are other readers who would like to know also.


    Cuba no fun in the sun-by BILL TIELEMAN, QMI AGENCY

    I cannot go to Cuba to relax on the beach and keep my eyes shut while dozens of political prisoners are behind bars there.

    – Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, 2006

    Each year over 800,000 Canadians visit Cuba for a sun-filled holiday of beaches, rum and great music.

    I have not and will not be one of them.

    Unfortunately for Cubans, their country is run by a repressive military dictatorship that rejects democracy and severely punishes those who speak out for change.

    Even leaving the country is close to impossible for most citizens.

    I cannot therefore in good conscience support Cuba’s government by being a Canadian tourist there.

    Like Havel – who fought his own country’s repressive regime and was jailed for five years – I’m deeply troubled by the Cuban communist government of former President Fidel Castro, and now his brother Raul’s, ongoing violations of human rights.

    Amnesty International hasn’t been allowed to visit Cuba since 1990. That alone should give Canadians pause before heading to the beaches of Veradero.

    But Amnesty has still documented repeated and severe abuses of Cubans for attempting to exercise basic human rights. Its 2010 Report on Cuba says:

    “Civil and political rights continued to be severely restricted by the authorities. Government critics continued to be imprisoned; many reported that they were beaten during arrest.”

    Despite the repression there are Cubans fighting for change.

    Yoani Sanchez is – somewhat amazingly – a pro-democracy blogger in Cuba. Her life has been extremely difficult and her courage extraordinary.

    “In November, Yoani Sánchez and blogger Orlando Luis Pardo were forced into a car by state security agents and beaten and threatened before being released,” Amnesty International says. “The attackers told Sánchez ‘this is the end of it’.”

    Individual Canadian tourists can send a strong message to the Cuban dictatorship by vacationing elsewhere. Tourism is Cuba’s second largest revenue stream and Canada its number one source of visitors.

    It’s simply a personal choice – something citizens of Canada and other democracies are privileged to have.

    The counter argument is Cuba has many positive accomplishments, despite its repressive government. Infant mortality is among the world’s lowest and better than the United States. Its medical services to citizens are vastly superior to most developing countries.

    But Cubans pay a heavy and unnecessary price with the loss of liberty and democracy.

    It’s a personal choice for every Canadian who has the opportunity to travel to decide where they go on vacation.

    After all, unlike Cuba, it’s a free country


  42. #3 Fair point. Of course though what I wrote though previously was intended more rhetorically than anything else.

    And I know that you and I have many differences here but that is fine.

    It is just that Sanchez’ description of one event in the lead up to the April Congress did bring to mind ‘people in glass houses’ here.

    When someone writes for example “Nobody in his right mind would claim that Cubans have a good live ( especially if you travelling to Cuba and talking to the Cubans ) ”
    as if that is something someone being criticised has actually written then I despair of any rational dialogue.

  43. #2 “Questions for the Cuban Diaspora…. How come the Cuban diaspora is all criminals and mafioso ???????”

    Well if diaspora in this context does not refer to Jews but to the ‘scattering’ of Cubans in various places outside Cuba then their views like their locations are scattered. Only a fool would suggest that Cubans living outside (or inside) Cuba are monolithic in terms of their politics.

    So perhaps a bit too subtle for discussion here but if someone uses the term ‘Miami Mafia’ it is no more intended to connote that all overseas Cubans be so described than it would be the intention to describe all Cubans living in Miami in this way.
    So accordingly Miami Cuba community is far from monolithic in its views – ranging from ANY dealing with Cuba is reprehensible to all ties beteeen the USA and Cuba should be restored. Including of course the end to the current resrictions on ‘normal’ Americans from travelling to Cuba. Something Sanchez herself endorses.

    The last point is just one example of my previous ironically intended comment that I ‘suspected’ that Sanchez finds the Miami Mafia TYPE (my emphasis) of polemics distasteful – or at least unhelpful.

    And BTW #3 I very much doubt that virtually anyone else here believes that I work for the Cuban government so what other than to undermine your credibilty can be served by this?

  44. Colin, a number of times the Friendly English Translator has said that personal attacks are not in keeping with the standards Yoani hopes for in reader comments on her blog. Nevertheless, go to the comment section of any major blog or news outlet and you will find the same thing. Its part and parcel of the anonymity afforded by the internet. I find the best way to deal with personal attacks is to ignore them and stick to discussing the issues instead.

  45. Colin/Dumbir:”The Miami Mafia” speach was created by the Castro Communists Propaganda Aparatus. This kind od propaganda was used in Eastern Europe too. Of course you work for them. It is obvoius. Nobody in his right mind would claim that Cubans have a good live ( especially if you travelling to Cuba and talking to the Cubans ). It is also true that Cubans will not complain about Castro or about the lack of freedom because there are many RATS giving information about who is complaining about Castro. They are complaining openly about the 23$/month salary for a teacher or about the fact that there is not enought food or that they cannot get soap or shoes. They talk about that but they are cleaver enough not to blame the regime.

    Questions for the Cuban Diaspora. Please respond because I need to knwo this. I find that Cubans from the island are superb and extraordinary people ( Colin and Dumbir are the opposite, because they have a hard job) . How come the Cuban diaspora is all criminals and mafioso ??????? Does it ring a bell for any normal reader on this blog ?????? The propaganda aparatus ( Colin/ Dumbir and the rest if the MINIT ) is working overtime to present the Cuban diaspora as being operating as a criminal organisation. In the same way as those who died in vain many years ago at the Bay of Pigs in an effort to take their country back from the communists; those were called criminals and mafioso too.

  46. In the previous thread this was posted #82 “No more lies, just information from varied sources, that’s why I post and hated by a few here!”

    I mused why therefore the same person post this without comment when it is clearly false?

    #68 “Bloggers like Yoani Sánchez of Generation Y don’t post directly to the Internet. They need foreigners to go to Internet cafés and spend big bucks to connect and send their messages to friends abroad who then post for the world to see.

    Few Cubans — including Yoani — can check out those posts.”

    Or is it that some of you here are so blind to the cause that the truth is not relevant? If so what does it say about the ethics of what you do stand for?

    Maybe that so few people actually participate here says more about what you stand for than anything else. It is impossible to have a rational dialogue so many people with some sympathy for the contents of the blog itself drift away after a few days leaving the small few to talk amongst themselves.

    Do you see the parallel between the contents of Sanchez’ latest blog above and your own behaviours? It is quite simply “..more of the same”.

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