Arches of Defeat


Chunks of concrete, fragments of roads leading nowhere, bridges that don’t link to any shore. Monuments to urban paralysis located along the national highway, unfinished structures that dream of feeling the weight of trucks and motorcycles. People crowd under these unfinished overpasses waiting for transport to take them to some other side, taking advantage of the shade from these arches of defeat, these enormous structures that serve only as umbrellas, the most expensive in the world. With railings that have never felt the warmth of a hand, the unfinished bridges in my country make a face and stick out their tongues, reminding us of the atrophy of our urban development, our ramshackle roads.

Whenever I pass under their deteriorated masses I wonder: What good are these truncated roads without cars? What is the reason for being of these incomplete giants that go nowhere? Were they built when the plan was to fill this Island with highways, like a living backbone branching out in all directions? Several decades later, they are still disconnected from the traffic network, accessible only from above, ironic hosts to vultures and lizards warming themselves on their columns. Monoliths to the immobility of people who, instead of new highways, arterials, roundabouts and avenues, have seen their truncated bridges deteriorate and begin to crack without ever having felt the rolling of a tire.

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37 thoughts on “Arches of Defeat

  1. @#30 tru #35
    thank you for the smile I find your comment brings, new “defender’s” approach I guess …
    Your “transparency” gives you away

  2. I hope all these representatives will gurantee you freedom. Just in the same way they do everywhere around the world nowadays. How naif.

  3. I hope all these representatives will gurantee you freedom. Just in the same way they do everywhere around the world nowadays. Who naif.

  4. Well,

    Those were a whole lot of arguments that did not made any impression on me.

    Firstly, what is that you call freedom? I hope cubans get all the freedom they are willing to get, but the question is of there is something as real freedom in this world?? no country is free to really choose nowadays. Most have to follow the leaders. (if are not all) Just because I do not come out from under a rock is because I say this. Sorry, but I am a fanatic observer of my surroundings and of my world.

    Indoctrinated, it is funny to call me that, because I have not much experience with theoretical or conceptual stuff in politics. I would say I have a decent basis on this matters, for the rest all I can say is a reflection on what I see, read and experience around me. Just analysis and observation, no more.

    To understand what I say you might just need to see around you to understand the underlying factors of the actual situations and also to be able to gather some of the most of the pieces are not shown to everyone, on the news paper, on the tv news,etc. A simple and very very actual example, the guy of wikileaks.. what happened to him for showing people, or better said, for giving access to information to people.

    funny tough to read you have not used any argument I gave for truly analysis or reflection.

    Oh sorry, if I frustrated you even more with my english. I just have learned it through the years in more or less informal way. What I think it is important is that can express in a sufficient way my thoughts, my observations and my feelings.

    I really do not feel ashamed of my english or of saying what I think in this blog, which supppously is a channel for “freedom”. I did not know that I had to speak perfect english in order to speak freely. Sorry by that.

    By the way, I have experienced closely people to be able to say what I said about the big-and-great-white-man, which seems to posses the truth about life and the mechanisms of the world and seems also to posses the knwoledge on the right ways to live. They are our heroes. Wait they save you.

    I do not like to remark the difference between people, but pityfull enough, for everyone, for you and for me too, “they” are the ones that in many cases and in many ways (to not speak about levels) never let you forget they are part of a different world. (the first world or developed w)and the rest in the second, third, and yes, even fourth world! or the politically correct ways such as in developement world or developing world) Not me. I notice everytime also they are also very afraid of everything coming from outside. Very afraid of “extrange and radical” religions, afraid of upcoming economies, etc.

    They should not be so afraid, the rest of the world does not want to do to them what they have done and still be being doing around the world since ages. But the idea makes them so afraid.

    I could say a lot, but now I am tired so I leave. Perhaps I will not come back so you can all be in peace and talk about your freedom just in the way you imagine it will be. I just hope you do not make to much circles on that.

    Finally, suming up, what I am just trying to say is, “think through”. Push it a bit harder. Not continuate, but to create something new. Not indoctrnation at all. Perhaps I am couple of steps further, what makes it difficult to understand. Still I will like to contribute with this I think might really free from some old chains.

    A bit sad though,
    Alegria.

    (or are you starting to think that some people just should not be free to speak?

  5. And sory, I did not revise my posting from writing mistakes. Next time, I might put more attention on that.

  6. Well,

    Those were a whole lot of arguments that did not made any impression on me.
    Firstly, what is that you call freedom? I hope cubans get all the freedom they are willing to get, but the questions is of there is something as real freedom in this world?? not country is free to really choose nowadays. Most have to follow the leaders. Just because I do not come out from under a rock is because I say this. Sorry, but I am a fanatic observer of my surroundings and of my world.

    Indoctrinated, it funny to call me, because I have no much experience with theoretical or conceptual stuff in politics. I would say I have a decent basis on this matters, for the rest alll I can say is a refelction on what I see and read and experience around me. Just analysis and observation, no more.

    To understand what I say you might just need to say around and to understand the underlying factors and to be able to gather all the pieces are shown to everyone. simply and very very actual example, the guy of wikileaks.. what happens to him for showing people, or giving access to information to people.

    funny tough to read you have not use any argument for truly analysis or reflection.
    Oh sorry, if I even frustrate you more with my english. I just have learned through the years in more or less informal way. What I think it is important is that can express in a sufficient way my thoughts, my observations and my feelings.
    I really do not feel ashamed of that or of saying what I think in this blog, which supppously is a channel of “freedom”. I did not know that I had to speak perfect english in order to speak freely. Sorry by that.

    By the way, I have experience closely what I say when I speak about the big white man, which seems to posses the truth about life and world and to posses the right ways to live.

    I do not like to remark the difference between people, but pityfull enough the for you and for me too, they are the ones that in many cases and in many ways never let you forget they are part of a different world. (the first world or developed w)and the rest in the second, third or in developement world) Not me. The are also very afraid of everything coming from outside. Very afrais of “extrange and radical” religions, afraid of upcoming economies, etc.

    They should not be so afraid, the rest of the world does not want to do to them what they have done and still be being doing around the world since ages. But the idea makes them so afraid.

    I could say a lot, but now I am tired so I live. Perhaps I will not come back so can all be in peace and talk about your freedom just in the way you imagine it will be.
    I am just saying, think through. Push it a bit harder. Not continuate, but to create something new. Not indoctrnation at all. Perhaps I am couple of steps further, what makes it difficult to understand. Still I will like to contribute with this I think might really free from some old chains.

    A bit sad though,
    Alegria.

  7. #27
    I should have realized that no being for this part of the world you might not be able to understand the nature od the culture in the “west” (from your east).
    Perhaps in the geograpical zone you are from mentality is focused in the procurement of material things or in the perceived emulation of the ‘white” man’s (westerner’s) life as preached or tought in your geographical place of residence.
    While I understand your confusion as I interpret your form & style of communicating I realize that perhaps you are in the situation of being a “guest” in the caribbean paradise called the rebolutionary that is today’s cuba.
    Perhaps due to your knowledge of english you have selected or “pressed into service” as part of your good will duties w/a chance to practice the fruits of your indoctrination at home & in your host country.
    May I suggest you change your script, tone it down a little, perhaps ask for someone to give you a good rebolutionary constructive critizism.
    If you choose to do that (remember you have freedom of choice) perhaps you can educate yoursef about the real meaning of freedom (don’t get caught)
    Learn about freedom of choice, of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.
    Learn about a any form goverment that have checks & balances of power, a goverment which is representative of your wishes w/a free election of representatives from freely opposing parties of different political orientations.
    Learn that is not about money or material things, is not about the white man or any other colour of man, learn that is not about currying favors or what collecting on what is perceived to be owed, no, is about freedom.
    While you are doing that (if you so choose) ask yourself why such a perfect paradise, such a great rebolution needs defense from anyone w/a different point of view if it is so good.
    On the other hand I doubt you’ll do it since I belive you have not been instructed by your benevolent hosts to read other people’s comments … list you get poisoned by them comments from the gusanos & others & start wondering about freedom …

  8. @#27
    huh?

    “From what I can see daily I can say that this game on power & material is a rough game to play, and since Latinamericans are not considered as people should really develope, I ask myself if you would be the lucky ones to get the favouritism of the wester world”

    “I hope the world of the white man entirely welcome you & be the truthful friend you are hoping for.”

    From under what rock have you crawled out off?

  9. Dear reader,

    I would like to say that sincerely I do not think that roads and cars are not useful things in modern society, but are these the things that should give measure to how “good|” a society is?

    I can understand that after missing a lot of material around you, because of a embargo that have cut your access to trade and any kind of material necessary to build up your lives, that many people in Cuba a desperate to have tickets for the international attraction park where every functions on money and metal. looks nice, bright colors and lights, you can it all the sugar you want and you can smile all day because of the stimulation of cars, and all kind of shaking-to-make-you-happy artifact can brings you.

    Just like in a attraction park, we all around the world can joy such a paradise by paying, and paying, and continue paying for each sensation, experience and each new attraction we might want to, in the same order, feel, have and to try at that moment.

    I just hope that in all that anger for stuff, the most cubans not get mislead and confused. Which would be reasonable after being so apart of the rest of the world and its deeper realities. you all must understand, that reality you can really experience after the showlights have gone off.

    I only hope the most cubans understand that modernity is not only new, fresh and nice. and that modernity or material do mean really freedom or even happiness. They do not even mean “development” Well, it is certainly a developement always going on, the question is in which way. ?

    I hope they will be albe to find the right balance in life. the right balance of things and perhaps to, the right balance in between things.

    Because, even when it might seem so, the government around the world engagged to this competitive and liberal system are mostly supporting and engaging with people and governments, when these can serve to their own purposes. Something which is quite understandable when you think of the word competition.

    You must be firstable of the same team, suggesting that you are not really free but that it is just a another way of pressuring and enclosing, and then you will have to serve them , but also ironiccally enough you will have also to compete with them. (thinking of commerce, specifically) Which allreay shows a disbalance, in your against.

    the day you enter that world, you will surely be extraordinarily welcome and you Till be treated even as the novicity you will ne. you will be even shown and considered as their trophy and they will you to all around the world. You will get flowers and invitations to join all kind of “parties” and new exciting enterprises, but I hope that after all this euphoria, you will be fairly and repectfully integrated to the fantastic world you all are hoping and waiting for.
    From what I see daily I can say that this game on power and material is a rough game to play, and since Latin Americans are not considered as people that should really develope, I ask myself if you will be the lucky ones to get the favouritism of the Western World. At least if it is for being use to show all the people around the world they still be the heroes. The ones with the absolute truth in their hands and the ones that are able to dig in any place and to come out triumphant! I hope the world of the white men, will entirely welcome you and will be the truthfull friend you are hoping for. Or are you believing it is. Perhaps it is so that we all should trust the persitent good white men, because they are our salvation. I hope the world really cares about you cuban people. perhaps because you can dance so well! You are really an attraction to them. I ask my self, how far are they willing to go to ensure you paradise. and freedom! and joy! and modernity! and cars! and new roads!! a lot of roads! enough roads to get you fat and and sick. Enough sugar products enoguh to make you satisfay you. hopefully they will be even cheaper for you.
    I only hope you people do not forget what still be really important and I hope you are smart and sensible enough to find the right balance and to see beyond your over-protected and naif noses.
    I hope you all are able to find the right balance between systems, the right balance, preferably before you have satisfied your thirst for things.
    Because it might be very possible that while satisfying this thirst for all this new things, you may get quite distracted from the things that will be happening around you at the same time, causing very probably you and everybody to lose control over the situation and at the end, over your own situation.
    I hope the cubans in their euohira or they good mood, do not excessivily open up their doors to all this people that they yet do not know well. I hope they do not try to play the game to fast, without knowing the rules of it.
    Not even for organisations, such as “developement”organisations, that might wamt to help you. I am convinced that even when all these countries say to “help” other people with “developing organisation”, as the new “charity system” and which is not even correct in that sense because forcing people to handle in your favour is not “helping” really, at leat so I think.
    Keep please autonomy! Do not give it away. Keep also dignity! because even when many cubans feel sometimes they are “behind” or that they have not much in the hands, they are mistaken. Cubans, as I see, posses way more than may other groups of people around the world. and I am not talking about money. Compared with especially poor countries, cubans have proud and education. They have also dignity. Yes. many of them have this sense of integrity and capacity, combined with modesty. These aspects have being denied to most of the people in poor countries.
    Compared to the people rich and poor countries, cubans have not the money, but in proportion they are better educated. Perhaps not only in proportion even. I sometimes even have got the idea that many “current” cubans have a wider knowledge on culure, than many other “current” people.
    Compared to rich and poor countries, cubans are amazingly ingenious! So, use that ingeniosity and start thinking on how to build your “new” system. One that is ideal! I would personally prefer one that is consequent, flexibel and fare. Try to be coherent adn use the materials that you allreay have in hands and especially, do not erase yourself and invite others to tell you how to be and what to do.

    I could go on with this but I will not, now, because I have to leave. I need to do some other stuff today too.

    Radically sincere,
    Alegria.

  10. YOANI IS AVERAGING STILL 500 TWITTER FOLLOWERS A DAY!! SEE POST #16

    37,360 Following
    102,116 Followers

  11. Cuba first railway line was built in the 1837, a 27 km line from Havana to Bejucal. This was the first railroad in Latin America. By 1958, there were 15,000 km of railways throughout the island. Cuba had more railroads per square mile than any other country in the world. The present railway system is 8,322 km in length; this is a reduction of 45% from 1958. Not even the railway lines have escaped the Castro brothers’ destruction.

  12. Humberto,

    Right on target! Loved the video and shall I dare to paraphrase…

    Please don’t squeeze the Granma!

  13. Thank you YOANI and everyone who supports a Cuba with more Human Rights for its citizens.

  14. ASSOCIATED PRESS: US intel report highlights Cuba, Venezuela woes

    WASHINGTON — President Hugo Chavez will face increasing protests as the Venezuelan economy deteriorates and the opposition strengthens, while political instability is also possible in Cuba, a US intelligence report said Thursday.

    The dire news for the two leftist Latin American regimes came in the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, a report issued by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

    “Facing an energized opposition in the coming year, Chavez may have to deal with more popular protests over his continued push to implement 21st Century Socialism,” read the report.

    Venezuela “currently suffers from nearly 30 percent inflation and negative growth,” and Chavez will “struggle to improve his country’s poor economic performance.”

    Chavez’s hold on power however “remains secure, despite his party’s lackluster performance” in September 2010 legislation elections.

    As for Cuba, “the economic situation is dire,” the report said.

    Foreign revenue coming from nickel exports and tourism have decreased, resulting in a foreign currency reserve drop that has “forced dramatic cuts to imports, especially food imports, and we have seen increases in the price of oil, food, and electricity.

    “As a result, Havana has become even more dependent on subsidized oil shipments from Venezuela and earnings from over 40,000 health workers, teachers and advisers in that country,” read the report.

    “We doubt that the Cuban economy can quickly absorb all the dismissed state workers given the many bureaucratic and structural hurdles to increased private sector employment.”

    Cuban President Raul Castro has announced sweeping reforms that include slashing half a million government jobs and making it easier for private entrepreneurs to work.

    The report noted that there is “little organized opposition to the Cuban government, and Cuba’s security forces are capable of suppressing localized public protests.”

    However it warned that “a heavy-handed Cuban put-down of protests could spark wider discontent and increased violence which could lead to a level of political instability.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iuXBSWUp3lN8rC968zX97sV-e-VQ?docId=CNG.6b096ac0cdcfce7a0f599fbbb1c85c27.b21

  15. Pedro Pan,

    One of the greatest joys after seeing my family, on my four trips to Cuba was to find that instead of “Charmin” toilet paper they used old or (and better yet) current issues of Granma or Juventud Revelde! Needless to say that I found that experience exciting and ironic when I was wiping my a** with Fidel or Raul’s face whenever possible, and of course I was selective about searching those pages! I found it SOOO CHARMIN!!

    YOUTUBE: Old Charmin Commercial with Mr. Whipple

  16. Pedro Pan,

    Lets not forget that the Cuban government cheats, lies and tromps over Human Rights EVERY DAY! So far these “satellites phones” have not been shown in ANY MEDIA! Judging from the CASTROFACISTS “MODUS OPERANDI” (did I write that?) it should have been all over Granma but IT HAS NOT! Maybe A LIE? SMOKE SCREEN? Cuba is the tobacco capital of the world and political smoke screens are not uncommon!

  17. Humberto,
    That was a long one for sure, but quite interesting. I found references to a John McAuliff in the article of particular interest and invite the audience to read it in its entirety and come to their own conclusion. Mr. McAuliff is less than sympathetic to the plight of Mr. Allan Phillip Gross, I posted just a bit about who Mr. McAuliff is below.

    “McAuliff formerly worked for the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a group which has extensive ties to the KGB, as well as other international communist movements, according to Steven Powell’s expose, Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies. He is also described as “a veteran of the civil rights movement,” and he highlights his work with Howard Zinn, as well as his various campaigns within the American Friends Service Committee, another group noted for its sympathies toward communism.”
    I added just little bonus information regarding the Cuban Trade Expo in Miami where McAullif “was” to speak. Just follow the link below:

    http://www.cubatradeexpo.com/home

    Yes Julio, there IS something new in the air…

  18. Humberto Capiro (El Avalanchito)
    Febrero 7th, 2011 at 22:12
    HAPPY 100,000 TWITTER FOLLOWERS YOANI!! THANKS FOR ALLOWING ME TO CUT AND PASTE ALL I WANT REGUARDING CUBA, REGUARDLESS OF THOSE WHO ARE “ON MY SIDE”.

    35,438 Following
    100,030 Followers

    AS OF TODAY AT THIS TIME! NOT BAD! 1500 FOLLOWERS IN 3-DAYS, THAT IS 500 FOLLOWERS PER DAY! FLACA!!!!!!!!!!!I HAVE STUDIED INTEGRAL CALCULUS! OR CALCULOS!
    36,922 Following
    101,506 Followers

  19. There seems to be something new in the air here! :-)
    Could it be that the end is near
    and the beginning of freedom for all Cubans?

  20. THIS ARTICLE IS LONG EVEN BY MY STANDARDS, BUT HAS SOME INTERESTING BITS OF INFORMATION I DID NOT KNOW BEFORE AND YOU KNOW I’M THE POSTMASTER GENERAL!

    The Cuban state-run website “Cuba Debate” issued a statement on the imprisonment of Gross earlier in the week:

    In accordance with Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code, the Prosecution is requesting a 20-year prison sentence for the defendant. The date of the trial will be set shortly. The US government has been informed of this and duly notified through the diplomatic channels that its consular representatives, Mr. Gross’ relatives and his family lawyers will be allowed to attend the trial.

    The U.S. State Department says that Gross was in Cuba for the purpose of distributing communications equipment to the local Jewish community, and as far back as June 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Gross to be released; however, she instructed American negotiators to convince the Cuban regime that his imprisonment “harms US-Cuban relations,” rather than outright condemning the fundamental immorality characterizing Cuba’s tactics.

    His imprisonment has also brought protests from members of the House of Representatives. In March 2010, 40 congressmen wrote a letter to the Cuban regime, asking for clemency for Gross. “It is our understanding that at the time of his arrest, Mr. Gross was in Cuba to help the Jewish community improve their ability to communicate with Jews, both in Cuba and overseas,” said the letter. “He was working pursuant to a U.S. government contract. Mr. Gross’s work in Cuba emanated from his desire to make a positive impact for others of his faith on the island.”

    The letter also said:

    The arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Gross is viewed with great consternation by the government of the United States, including both Democrat and Republican Members of the United States Congress, whether liberal or conservative. It has caused many to doubt your government’s expressed desire to improve relations with the United States. We cannot assist in that regard while Mr. Gross is detained in a Cuban prison. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross and allow him to return to his family in the United States.

    Gross’s contract was part of a federally-funded democracy-building initiative within the State Department, which his company, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), has participated in for several years. For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the State Department budget allocated $20 million for “promoting self-determined democracy in Cuba”:

    The FY 2011 request will continue to promote self-determined democracy in Cuba. Funds will be used to provide humanitarian assistance to political prisoners, their families, and other victims of repression; advance human rights; strengthen independent civil society organizations; and support information sharing into and out of Cuba.

    CLICK THE LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/foreign-policy/6259-american-contractor-faces-20-years-in-a-cuban-gulag

  21. Simba and Igor,

    Me too, I was wondering that myself.

    Come on Damir I haven’t fallen out of my chair yet today.

  22. Simba I was also trying to figure out the silence of the MINIT employee. In the last weeks they were extremely active and now they are on MUTE.

  23. The highway system evolved from 250 kilometers (km) of paved roads in 1903, mainly in Havana Province, to 20,000 km throughout the island in 1958. By 1958 Cuba had one of the most efficient and extensive highway systems in Latin America.

  24. I have always marveled at these bridges without roads while traveling in Cuba. Sometimes Cuban soldiers are there stopping cars and filling them with the botellas (hitchhikers). It’s an interesting public transportation system.http://talkingcuba.wordpress.com/

  25. Every time I drive through Florida, although filled with wonderment, it makes me angry how, in that peninsula, which according to geologists is nothing by a sand bank that was mostly underwater 100,000 years ago, is covered with all manner of orange, strawberries, grapefruit, and other groves. As you drive in North Central Florida, you might encounter rolling green fields, where robust Brahman, Holstein and Jersey herds of cattle are feeding. As one continues further south, you see furrows of lettuce, tomatoes, mango, avocado, etc. on land that if you were to dig just four or five inches, you’d find nothing but primordial sand, left over from when the land was ten feet under water and the ancient Sea of Okeechobee covered most of the state.

    On the other hand, with a skip and a jump past the drink, you may find yourself traveling Cuban roads, like the one on Yoani’s post. If you visit from the States and you travel these highways, the dilapidated and uncompleted bridges will be the least of the problems you’ll notice.

    While mother nature has endowed the island with what may be some of the most fertile land in the entire Caribbean, thereby allowing for views which include natural hues of tropical greenery, the likes of which you may never have seen before, one may drive for hundreds of kilometers and not see a single, properly cared for, well attended plantation of any kind. For miles and miles, you may observe nothing but undeveloped luscious land sometimes with huge patches of Marabu, and other grasses. Also noticeable is what appear to be underfed cattle, with rib marks on their hides clearly visible. Why the contrast, why the disparity. Cuba gets plenty of rain, has fertile, deep organic soil, rolling hills for drainage, etc.

    Well, as always, the answer reverts back to the dynasty. It appears that upon confiscation of their lands, all the Guajiros have moved to South Florida. and the ones left behind, like my great grandfather, who said he’d never set foot outside Cuba, because he didn’t need to, don’t want to work and get paid in funny money the Castro-fascists want to pay them with. If they are like my great grandfather, I can tell you, this is one stubborn lot!!

  26. Simba Sez: Where’s Damir today? I’ve seen no commentary from him, or any others of the Gestapo Gang, since Yoani has stated she can read her own blog. Why isn’t he on here telling her what a big liar she is? She’s obviously not right about being able to see this expensive fiasco of an overpass to nowhere. It must be just a painting. Nice touch to add that 1950s Chevrolet hood ornament to the automobile hood. Damir, are you down to counting the days of employment you have left?

  27. REUTERS AFRICA: ANALYSIS-US man’s case outcome will shape future US-Cuba ties-Thu Feb 10-By Jeff Franks

    * Prison for contractor could freeze relations for years
    * Quick release seen as key to unlock better ties again
    * Cuba sees Internet as U.S. subversion “battleground”
    HAVANA, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Cuba’s move to seek a 20-year jail sentence for a U.S. aid contractor could put U.S.-Cuba relations on ice for years if carried out but there are hopes a quick release could result in warmer ties again.

    While most analysts assume Alan Gross will be convicted in an upcoming trial for what Cuba calls “crimes against the security of the state,” they say it remains to be seen if Cuban authorities will make him serve the sentence or free him quickly as U.S. officials have demanded.

    Gross, 61, has been jailed in Havana since December 2009 on suspicion of illegally distributing satellite communications equipment under a U.S.-funded program aimed at promoting political change on the communist-led island.

    Relations between ideological foes Cuba and the United States had shown signs of improving before his detention but Washington has made clear there will be no substantive further advances as long as Gross is held. A quick release is still possible under Cuban law, however.

    “A long prison sentence would halt further progress in U.S.-Cuba relations. Convict and release would almost certainly improve relations, as will further economic reforms (by Cuba),” said Miami-based lawyer Timothy Ashby, a former U.S. Commerce Department specialist on Cuba and the Caribbean.

    Many Havana-based diplomats believe Cuba will release Gross sometime soon after the trial because it knows what is at stake. But one said: “Until it’s done, anything is possible.”

    Gross was officially charged last week and Cuba said prosecutors would seek a 20-year sentence in a trial expected to begin soon. A source close to Cuba’s Jewish community said he knew of a Cuban witness called to testify in March.

    The U.S. government has said Gross, a longtime development worker, was merely providing Internet access for Jewish groups in Cuba and this would not be seen as a crime in most nations.

    A ‘MERCENARY’

    But a video leaked last week shows Cuban authorities view U.S. efforts to free up Internet access on the island as another battleground in a hostile Washington-backed campaign of “counterrevolution” aimed at undermining communist rule.

    In the leaked video, a Cuban government Internet expert told Interior Ministry officials Gross was a “mercenary” comparable to the Cuban exiles and their U.S. CIA backers who participated in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to topple the Cuban government then led by Fidel Castro.

    Cuban officials hinted early on Gross was suspected of espionage, which the United States denied. It is not clear exactly what he is accused of but sources close to the case say the Cubans have indicated they no longer see his activities as spying.

    A senior U.S. State Department official expressed “cautious optimism” last month that Gross would be freed quickly.

    But the announced charges and possible stiff sentence were surprising and provoked anger from the White House, which had eased U.S. restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba a day after the State Department official spoke last month.

    Analysts said U.S. officials should not have expected an easy resolution but Cuba’s tough stance did not necessarily signal its intent to imprison Gross for a long time.

    They said Cuba may have “fired a shot across the bow” to underscore its unhappiness with U.S. policies and could use the trial to show the world U.S. activities on the island.

    Some believed Cuba felt it could gain more by freeing Gross and taking the high road in the long bilateral conflict.

    “A conviction followed by a commuted sentence would allow Havana to show toughness toward the U.S. government and magnanimity toward the Gross family,” said Phil Peters at the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Virginia.

    Gross is said to be suffering health problems and his 26-year-old daughter has breast cancer. His wife has appealed to Cuba to release him on humanitarian grounds.

    U.S. officials had hoped he would be released in time for his daughter’s surgery this month.

    VIOLATED CUBAN LAW?

    The danger for Gross is that Cuba may feel that showing the United States there is a price to pay for its “subversive” policies is more strategically useful than the potential positive results of a quick release.

    Cuba also may view Gross as a bargaining chip to gain the release of five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States, although most observers now think this swap is unlikely.

    The expectation that Gross will be found guilty is based on assumptions the trial will be heavily influenced by the Cuban state. However, some analysts say Gross’ activities likely broke Cuban laws aimed at stopping the kinds of U.S. “pro-democracy” programs he was involved in.

    “From what I know of the case and the validity of the charges, he has regretfully violated Cuban law,” Ashby said.

    Some observers think Gross could plead guilty but his lawyer, Peter Kahn, said last week Gross declared everything that was required of him when he entered Cuba and that he is a victim of “50 years of turmoil in U.S.-Cuba relations.” (Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Bill Trott)

    http://af.reuters.com/article/cameroonNews/idAFN1026790020110210

  28. ***
    Margaret Thatcher said, “Socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money!” Winston Churchill said, “Capitalism provides unequal benefits for all. Socialism provides equal poverty for all.” Communist Cuba is the proof that these sayings are correct. It’s not possible to hide the truth forever. I hope Yoanni can read all comments now.
    ***
    Margaret Thatcher dijo, “Socialismo trabaja unicamente al tiempo que falta dinero de otra gente!” Winston Churchill dijo, “Capitalismo da beneficios desiguales por todos. Socialismo da pobreza igual por todos.” Cuba Communista es la prueba que esos dichos son verdades. No es possible esconder la verdad para siempre. Espero que Yoanni puede leer los commentarios ahora.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  29. Unfinished public works, decaying roads, dilapidated buildings, dysfunctional sewage/water systems and electrical grid, almost non-existent sugar, tobacco and coffee industries, marabu choking off once fertile fields, bankrupt economic and political systems and the separation and destruction of countless families. This but a brief list of the “revolutions” accomplishments. What have these miscreants otherwise known as the castros actually accomplished besides returning the country to a 19th century, paternalistic, pre-industrial age society?

  30. My that you write beautifully. I just discovered your blog and have read through many entries just now. I go back to work now but look forward to reading more past and future entries. Thank you Yoani for this very special blog! Saludos del frigorífico norte de Vermont!

  31. It is very interesting how the perspective changes and changes drastically when you are on the ground and close up. From Google Earth, I thought these were pre-revolution toll plazas. I am with Igor your work is GREAT and please keep up your good works.

  32. Just another great achievement of the SOCIALISM, among many others !!!

    For Yoani ( noW that you can access the site) : KEEP ON POSTING. YOU ARE DOING GREAT WORK. It will be funny when the history books will mention how a skinny woman using just words helped overthrow an oppressive regime that highjacked Cuba for 5X years.

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