Goose Stepping

My neighborhood is experiencing a small shock, a change that comes in the form of new asphalt, the workers are removing the pavement and adding a black sticky layer which, in a few days, will once again be solid under the tires. We’re all amazed. The happiness would be greater were it not for the reasons behind this road restoration, the impulse that underlies these works. The whole Plaza of the Revolution and the “frozen zone” where I live is getting ready for the big parade on April 15. A sea of military power seeking to dissuade all those who want change in Cuba.

For weeks, the parking lot at the Latin American Stadium has been the practice site for soldiers testing their goose step. Forty-five degrees of extended leg calling to mind a puppet pulled by its strings, by a cord that is lost somewhere up there in the immensity of power. I don’t know how a military parade can be beautiful, what emotion can be found in these synchronized automatic beings who pass by with their faces turned to the leader on the podium. But the resulting effect I know well: Afterwards they will say the government is armed to the teeth and those who take to the streets in protest will be crushed against the same pavement that is being repaired today. The marching of the squadrons will be a warming to us that the Party not only has militants to defend itself, but also anti-riot troops and elite corps.

The choreography of authoritarianism is what I would call it, but others prefer to believe that this will be a demonstration of independence, of a national autonomy which, in reality, resembles Robin Crusoe abandoned on his Island. But beyond my doubts about uniforms, my allergy to a procession of squadrons marching in unison, today I’m concerned about the tar, that recently-laid asphalt that the tracks of the tanks will damage.


21 thoughts on “Goose Stepping

  1. Love … you are way ahead of me, w/the mix of languages in my head a joke funny or not turns into a disaster every time I attempt to deliver …

  2. Albert, you and I both need to work on our comic delivery. That’s the problem with the internet, it’s faceless.

    Speaking of jokes, this is from the article below that Humberto posted:

    “Cuba prides itself on being a humanitarian country…”

    I guess every journalist feels the need to include the Cuban government line for the sake of “balance”

  3. REUTERS: Scenarios: Contractor caught in U.S.-Cuba conflict- By Jeff Franks- Wed Mar 2, 2011 12:17pm EST

    HAVANA- American Alan Gross faces a possible 20-year sentence for crimes against the security of state in a trial in Cuba on Friday.
    Gross, who already has been jailed for 15 months, is accused of importing illegal satellite communications equipment to provide Internet access to Cubans in violation of Cuban law.

    The case is the latest episode in the long history of bitterness between the United States and Cuba, who have been ideological foes since Cuba’s 1959 communist revolution put Fidel Castro in power. He was succeeded by brother Raul Castro in 2008.

    Here are some possible scenarios on how it plays out:


    Most observers believe this is the likely outcome because Gross appears to have clearly violated Cuban law and because of the politically charged nature of the case. It is also believed that Cuba wants to send a strong signal to the United States to stop U.S. programs aimed at undermining the government.

    Prosecutors have said they will seek a 20-year sentence, which the three-judge panel could impose or reduce. The judges’ decision likely will be announced at the end of the proceedings, which are expected to last a day or so. The defendant can appeal the verdict to Cuba’s Supreme Court.

    If Gross is sentenced to a long prison term, U.S-Cuba relations would suffer but how much may depend on the U.S. reaction.

    President Barack Obama has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba, imposed by a U.S. trade embargo in place since 1962, allowed a free flow of remittances and initiated talks on migration and restoration of direct mail service.

    The White House could roll back some or all of its steps and impose new punitive measures. Or it could negotiate with Cuban leaders to see what can be done to gain Gross’ release. It is also possible that such discussions already have begun, perhaps directly or through a third party.

    Cuba would like to see the United States take steps such as removing Cuba from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations, eliminating programs like the one Gross worked for and releasing five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States since 1998. They also would like further loosening or elimination of the trade embargo.

    It is also possible that Cuba wants to make an example of Gross and keep him in jail for his full sentence. A lengthy stay in prison would keep relations between Washington and Havana stalemated, as they have been for five decades.


    Gross’ wife, Judy Gross, has pleaded with Cuba to release her husband because their 26-year-old daughter and his 88-year-old mother have cancer. She also said his health is deteriorating. Cuba prides itself on being a humanitarian country but may view Gross’ imprisonment as a just response to the United States’ rejection of long-standing demands to free the agents.

    Some observers think Cuba will convict Gross and sentence him to a long prison term but then release him due to his family’s problems. This might require concessions from the United States, or it might prompt more steps toward rapprochement.


    Cuba has promised a fair trial for Gross but all things considered this would be a major surprise. It would bring improvements in U.S.-Cuba relations.

    (Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Bill Trott)


    AMBITO FINANCIERO–Bueno Aires: fear of Castro in the mirror Libya – by Yoani Sanchez

    Havana – Libya silence echoes in our information. Briefly mentioned in the national news and yet everyone whispered about what is happening in northern Africa. Between successive protests are the opposite to Muammar Gaddafi that we have played a closer who inhabit this island.

    For most Cubans, the eccentric Libyan leader’s face is well known for appearing frequently portrayed in the mainstream media, along with our local leaders. The author of the Green Paper was considered, despite some public disagreements, one of the most important allies of the Cuban government in the area. Your current situation has shocked the authorities in Havana, who not only are concerned about the breakdown of ideological alliances or geopolitical crisis, but by a possible spread of popular revolts.

    Notwithstanding the marked differences between one reality and another, the imminent fall of the African warlord Have alarms also jump in Havana, by the similarities between the personality constructed by Gaddafi and the one that forged our rebels of olive green.

    Seeing him collapse Have them anticipate and fear the collapse of themselves.

    Gaddafi has accumulated so many beneficiaries and victims, that the opinions on it vary today between justification and the expletive. The streets of Libya is the scenario where these two opposing forces have been found and the excess of stubbornness by the disgraced leader has fueled hatred has driven projectiles.

    The stubbornness of the self-proclaimed “guide of the revolution”, we are concerned on this side of the Atlantic, it also evokes the infinite stubbornness of Fidel Castro. Since a similar situation, the commander in chief as Hosni Mubarak would not give it enarbolaría his repeated statement that “first the island will sink at sea rather than surrender.”


    Afraid to act the same way that Gadhafi, who behaves like he is doing these days it.

    Libya can be a frightening preview of our future. Just remember the stubborn will with which the guerrilla down from the Sierra Maestra became the longest-ruling power in the Western Hemisphere. During 49 years in office, Fidel Castro has accumulated a long list of actions and positions marked by voluntarism. In October 1962, after Nikita Khrushchev decided to “unilaterally” withdraw the missiles with atomic charges fitted to the island, said: “The moral rockets ever not be dismantled.” The whimsical optimism that led him Have gala in 1970, after the failure of being unable to perform the desired harvest 10 million tons of sugar, to enunciate the phrase “Let’s turn the setback into victory.” Even in 1980, after more than a hundred thousand Cubans fled the country by the Mariel boat exodus to Miami, ended by stating: “That scum is gone, let her go.”

    Gaddafi, meanwhile, tried to build a political and social model which was based on his own words, in their messianic writings. On display as the primary exegete of his work and left its mark all segments of society. No wonder in the cities that have fallen into rebel hands, has appeared violently graphic mocking, the cartoons where the ruling appears ridiculed and fleeced. A people that takes several decades without being able to laugh at those who govern, turns to hilarity to exorcise the fear caused by that face.


    With a controlled press to detail, the citizens of both countries have relied for decades the official version of events that is made in the government palace, hence the disorientation news to what is happening inside and out.

    Bridging historical and regional differences, both Fidel Castro accuses Gadhafi as their difficulties in external enemy, in a case called Bin Laden and the other America. Nationalism remove them to show how the elect to save the country from annexation or territorial breakdown. One has opened the doors of the arsenals to arm his followers, while the other promotes the doctrine of war of all people, in which every woman, man or child should know to become an unyielding bastion of the revolution.

    (*) Cuban dissident journalist. Financial columnist and Scope exclusive Buenos Aires Herald.

  5. You are correct Simba, my clumsy attempt at humor shows I need more practice.


    REUTERS: American faces trial as U.S-Cuba conflict goes on

    – An American aid contractor caught up in one of the world’s last Cold War conflicts goes on trial on Friday for crimes against the Cuban state in a case that could put him in prison for 20 years and further damage U.S.-Cuba relations.
    Alan Gross, 61, who already has spent 15 months in jail, is accused of illegally importing satellite communications equipment under a U.S. program outlawed on the communist-led island.

    A three-person panel will hear his case, which like most Cuban trials is expected to last only a day or two.

    The case could set back U.S.-Cuba relations for years if Cuba decides to make an example of Gross and lock him away for years. But some observers believe a political solution has been or will be reached that will allow Gross to go free soon.

    His wife, Judy Gross, has pleaded with Cuba to release him for humanitarian reasons because their 26-year-old daughter and Alan Gross’ 88-year-old mother are battling cancer. She also has said her husband’s health is deteriorating in prison.

    The United States has said Gross, a longtime development worker who was in Cuba on a tourist visa, was setting up improved Internet access for Jewish groups, and insists that he committed no crimes.

    He was a contractor for a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program begun by the Bush administration to promote political change in Cuba.

    Cuban leaders say the program is just another in a long line of U.S. attempts at subversion dating to the earliest days of the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro, now 84, in power. His younger brother Raul Castro succeeded him as president three years ago.

    Gross will be defended by Cuban lawyer Nuris Pinero, who is well known in Cuba for participating in the defense of five Cuban agents jailed in the United States since 1998.

    Some believe that Pinero’s presence hints at Cuba’s desire to swap Gross for the agents, who were linked to a 1996 shootdown of two U.S. private planes by Cuban military jets.


    Pinero likely will “portray Gross as a dupe of U.S. intelligence rather than someone with intent to damage the Cuban state,” said Miami-based attorney Timothy Ashby, a former U.S. Commerce Department specialist on Cuba.

    Gross is the first American to be charged under a Cuban law that prohibits “acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state,” which puts him in a precarious situation with a government intent on stopping U.S. interference.

    For Cuba, the case is an opportunity to dissuade others from working in the controversial U.S. programs, said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuba expert at the University of Denver.

    “Nobody after Gross will be able to say they ran the risk of sentences up to 20 years without knowing it,” he said.

    Goodwill may be in short supply among Cuban leaders, who consistently and harshly express their frustration at lack of change in U.S. policy under President Barack Obama.

    He has taken modest steps to improve relations by easing the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against the island but Cubans say Obama has done too little to end five decades of hostility.

    U.S. activities in Cuba may be on trial in the case as much as Gross.

    In the past few days, Cuba has revealed with great fanfare two government agents who infiltrated two of Cuba’s best-known dissident groups — the Ladies in White and the Cuban Commission of Human Rights — for years.

    They have talked at length about U.S. backing for dissidents, who they said were in it for the money that flowed from Washington and Cuban exile groups in Miami.

    (Additional reporting by Esteban Israel; Editing by Bill Trott)

  7. Simba Sez: Albert, I too noticed what you are speaking of in #14, but then I looked closer to find that all four of those are in the row closest to the reviewer or reviewing stand. I then assumed that outside row must always look straight ahead to keep the entire group heading in the correct direction.

  8. I wonder what is going to happen to the first, second, third & fourth from the picture’s left since they are not looking to their leaders … as they are supposed to?

  9. La bestial dictadura de fidel castro trata de reforzar su poder mostrando al mundo su poderio militar para atemorizar a los que luchan por libertad y democracia; pero no lograran ahogar el sentimiento contra su dictadura la solucion es una bomba atomica en medio del desfile el aseseno y su hermano no podran ocultar al mundo su despiadada y criminal dictadura que tiene al pueblo cubano sumido en la s tinieblas de la mas criminal dictadura qwue ha conocido el mundo desde los tipos de hitler musolinne y stalin

  10. The political prisoner Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina is “in danger of death” after 15 days of total fasting, sources of dissent and exile.

    Lobaina is imprisoned in the Combined Guantanamo since December 9, 2010.

    “Today was transferred to the prison medical post. His health condition is serious,” DIARIO DE CUBA informed journalist Luis Felipe Rojas.

    According to a statement from Democratic Directorate, Néstor Rodríguez has been 15 days without food, no water, no fluid, “and” does not accept serum. ”

    Relatives said the organization of exiles based in Miami, that situation is very delicate, critical because the consequences it can bring no fluid intake. ”

    “It’s urgent call for humanitarian organizations involved,” said his brother, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

    In accordance with the Board, the plight of Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, founder of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, comes despite a “request for precautionary measures on his behalf” by the Organization of American States.

    American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) applied to the scheme on January 24, 2011 and asked to take “whatever steps are necessary to preserve and safeguard the lives and physical integrity” of the dissident and his family.

    The Commission also called for measures to “allow access, treatment and monitoring of the state of health of Mr. Lobaina by a doctor you trust and / or offered by the Red Cross so they can evaluate and monitor their health status.”

    The journalist Luis Felipe Rojas told this newspaper that no formal accusations against Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, so that his detention was “totally arbitrary.”

  11. Going back to the thugs that populate this blog. It can be hard to tell who they are sometimes. They may take on a shy demeanor, or they may be in your face like Dumbir. Worse yet, they may be a provocateur who tries to start confrontations between some of us so as to make this list look foolish.

    Going back a year, I forget the name, but there was comic character that went around asking for people’s phone number. I think the name was Bambino or something. Anyway, he seems to have disappeared. And speaking of disappearing, some of the more obvious MININT personnel have been missing from here for some time. They must be busy with all that’s going on in the island, trying to intimidate the opposition.

  12. Love Cuba, I think they make him read, and try to shut him up when he goes “astray” (astray meaning the truth is slipping out).
    He said the “cuban model doesn’t work even in Cuba” and then the lesser brother and other officials tried to cover it up and get him to recant. The elder mummy always loved theater, especially in front of a big audience. Now he’s not even aware he’s providing comic entertainment for the rest of us.

  13. Cold in Chicago, it happens to all of us :) And reading Cuban news makes me realize that every joke I make has already been told by Granma, but with a straight face.

    It’s interesting what happened to Captain Castro last year. Didn’t he say something truthful in front of a reporter? Didn’t he say that socialism doesn’t work for Cuba any more? OK, that’s only half the truth, but isn’t that a major slip? Do the completely delusional lose touch with their delusions as they get older? He hasn’t slipped since so I guess they have him on stronger medication.

  14. Looks like the army, like the old decrepit dynasty above it, is loosing its edge. In the old days, their mentors the russian and nazi/fascist armies used to do a 90 degree goose step.

    Love Cuba, almost thought your sarcasm on the election was real news. Kept looking for the link. Seems like old age is catching up with me too. At least I admit it and deal with it, unlike the ancient colostomy bag holder, and his very small brother.

  15. I apologize, my calculations were wrong. Cubans have to pay two months salary for a tank of gas, if their car is tiny.


    CUBAN NEWS AGENCY:Cuba to Open Modern Tire-Retreading Plants

    The director of the Union Nacional de Gomas (National Tires Group), Rolando Alfonso Sanchez, told ACN that the facilities will be located in the provinces of Mayabeque, Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey.

    These plants will contribute to saving nearly 20 million dollars, and to lengthen the useful life of tires, so essential for transporting loads and passengers.

    Alfonso noted that despite the advantages of having enough tires in good conditions, some enterprises make no good use of them and have to buy them in the international market at very high prices.

    Cuba retreads only between 30 and 50% of tires with conditions to be reused, a very low figure for a tire importing country.

    According to data offered by the Union de la Goma, 90,000 tires were retreaded last year, which saved the Cuban economy 13 million dollars.

    The general director of the Chemical Industry Business Group, Fidel Miranda, told ACN that retreading is a very good economic alternative because financial resources to buy new tires are not always available.

    Miranda added that the existing five tire-retreading plants in Cuba have the necessary raw materials to carry out their work.

    Specialists in the field affirm that it is possible to retread tires up to three times, depending on the wear degree.

  17. Humberto, I have yet to meet a Cuban taxi driver, or Cuban anything, who doesn’t break the law. A month’s salary for a tank of gas is another of Cuba’s economic success stories. Vamos bien!

    Forcing every Cuban onto the black market is also good politically. Anyone who criticizes the government can then be accused of “corruption”, which is apparently what happens to any politician who doesn’t scream “viva Fidel” loud enough.


    Cuba raises the price of fuel for the second time in less than six months
    By Agencia EFE – 2 hours ago

    Havana, March 1 (EFE) .- The Cuban government today implemented a new rise in prices of petrol and diesel by between 4 and 8 percent, the second one done in less than six months, there was no been previously reported by the media on the island.

    The hike took effect at 0000 local time (0500 GMT) on March 1 and was informed hours before the administration of the stations (all state), Efe said a worker at one of those establishments who preferred anonymity.

    “There were rumors that there would be a hike, but until yesterday we did not know the official price,” said the source.

    The details of the fuel rise, which has not yet been announced by the Cuban press, you can see on a sheet attached to the windows and pump stations, according to Efe could verify at least 4 points establishments visited in Havana .

    The new prices set a liter of special gasoline at 1.40 Cuban convertible pesos ($ 1.30) -1 convertible peso (CUC) is equivalent to 1.08 U.S. dollars at the official rate, “8 percent above the 1.30 CUC ( $ 1.20) that was until yesterday.

    In the case of regular gasoline, is now at 1.20 CUC (1.11 dollars) compared to 1.15 CUC (1.06 dollars), representing 4 percent.

    Special liter of diesel rose by 8 percent, from 1.20 CUC (1.11 dollars) for 1.30 CUC (1.20 dollars), while the regular diesel experienced a 4 percent rise in its price to rise 1.15 CUC (1.06 dollars) for 1.20 CUC (1.11 dollars).

    Some customers became aware of the rise at the same time had to pay in cash, as is the case Raydel, 24, who told Efe that will soon have to “stop the car (vehicle)” if the increase fuel prices.

    The last rate increase for petrol and diesel in Cuba took place last September, when the Government announced increases of between 10 and 18 percent.

    At that time the Ministry of Finances and Prices in the official media published a note justifying the measure due to rising international oil and its impact on the economy of the island.

    Previously, in September 2008, the government of Raul Castro decreed an increase of up to 87 percent in the price of fuel, coinciding with the scourge of devastating Hurricane Ike for the country.

    Cuba receives about 100,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela, which employs 50 percent of their consumption with that produced in the island, and used primarily for electricity generation.

    The island pays part of the Venezuelan oil shipments to service both nations measured on market criteria, with doctors and with the advice of experts and specialists in the areas of education and sports.

  19. MONTREAL GAZETTE: Five Cuban National Ballet dancers decide to stay in Canada-By Victor Swoboda, March 1

    MONTREAL — A principal dancer with the Cuban National Ballet, Elier Bourzac, is one of five company members who declined to return home with the troupe after its triumphant first appearance in Montreal last month.

    All five are seeking to stay in Canada in the hope of joining Canadian dance companies. Among their first acts in the week following their decision to stay was an audition with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal.

    “My reason for staying is artistic,” said Bourzac, 26, in a telephone interview Monday from Toronto, where he took a regular class with the National Ballet of Canada as part of an audition process.

    “I went as far as I wanted to go in classical ballet — in Cuba, it’s exclusively classical dance — and I’d like to continue to perform ballet, but now I’d like to explore contemporary dance, too, and work with international choreographers. As far as Canada goes, I like Canada’s way of life better than that of other countries where I’ve toured.”

    In two appearances in Montreal in the ballet Giselle, Bourzac displayed brilliant technique in the lead male role of Albrecht, partnering with the company’s eminent ballerina, Viengsay Valdez. His repertory includes leading roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Corsaire and other major classical works.

    Three of the other four Cuban immigrant claimants also took part in the Toronto audition, including Bourzac’s wife, Patricia Gonzalez, 24, Jorge Villazon, 32, and Hugo Rodriguez, 20. All were members of the Cuban National Ballet corps.

    The fifth Cuban, Yadil Suarez, 22, remains in Montreal. In December, Suarez, a company first soloist, partnered with Valdez in a duet, For Alicia, at a gala in Havana in honour of the 90th birthday of Cuban National Ballet founder, Alicia Alonso.

    Over the past decade, the Cuban National Ballet has lost other dancers while on foreign tour. In 2008, three dancers left the company after its appearance in Hamilton, and eventually settled in the United States.

  20. The picture of those soldiers is timely in reminding us of what is going on in the middle east. I hope I am wrong but I do not believe the hoodlums in Cuba will voluntarily give up power. It will require a significant portion of the citizenry taking to the streets and reclaiming them, telling the tyrants “estas calles no son de fidel”. When that inevitable outbreak comes how will the police, the goons in internal security and the armed forces react? Will we see a replay of the events in Romania, Egypt or Libya? Will we see the chaos and summary justice as was meted out in Romania, the army presumably taking the side of the citizenry as in Egypt or the split military loyalties and bloodletting currently taking place in Libya? If I had to venture a guess I would think a scenario similar to what took place in Egypt is most likely with an equally similar muddled political future in the short term.

  21. It would take only a few generals to give the “right orders” to the marching army. Anyone can make amendmands to history books nowadays.

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