Bohemia Lagoon

I started reading from the last page, where the graphic humor and the occasional caricature of a famous person appeared. I then turned to the crossword puzzle and when I reached the articles, I started to fear that my reading would soon end. I would have to wait another seven days for the seller to shout its name under our windows, a name with distant connotations in pages smelling of ink. My grandparents sought to curb my enthusiasm, saying that the weekly magazine, which they used to buy at the kiosks, was a shadow of its former self.

Bohemia, the oldest magazine in Cuba and in Latin America, was born in 1908 and now it’s the living dead. Though it continues to pile on the years, the fact is that for more than a decade it has ceased to be a reference point. The 1959 Bohemia of Freedom issue, where they showed the bodies massacred by the previous dictator, has been replaced by a boring, triumphalist, insignificant publication. It shrank and lost pages. Its articles repeated the same old sugary stories as the rest of the official press. Even its cover could be confused with those of other magazines, like Sea and Fisheries or the prudish, We’re Young. Its whole personality slipped down the drain of censorship as it was re-educated by a system that doesn’t like uncomfortable magazines nor incisive journalists.

Every day I walk near the building that houses Bohemia, home to the most beautiful of all the busts of José Martí I’ve seen in Havana. I try to explain to my son that dozing there is one of the most important journals once enjoyed in this country and the entire region. For those of his age, that area near the Council of State is simply a place where water collects when it rains, a natural pond that blocks the passage of cars after a shower. “Bohemia Lagoon,” they call it, but I explain that before being known for its floods, in that site beat the heart of the press; there they prepared the pages for eyes like mine to enjoy.

54 thoughts on “Bohemia Lagoon

  1. Hello…interesting site…are you CIA agent(s)? CANF? USAID? Do you support imperialism anywhere at anytime?

    I would like to share the following article with you guys:

    American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander
    By Patrick Martin
    30 March 2011

    It has been six days since Khalifa Hifter was appointed the top military commander for the Libyan rebel forces fighting the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. His appointment was noted by reporter Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers, a US regional chain that includes the Sacramento Bee and the Kansas City Star.

    Two days later, another McClatchy journalist, Chris Adams, wrote a brief biographical sketch of Hifter that left the implication, without saying so explicitly, that he was a longtime CIA asset. It headlined the fact that after defecting from a top position in Gaddafi’s army, Hifter had lived in northern Virginia for some 20 years, as well as noting that Hifter had no obvious means of financial support.

    The World Socialist Web Site published a perspective March 28 taking note of both the McClatchy articles and earlier reports providing more details of Hifter’s connections to the CIA. These included a 1996 article in the Washington Post and a book published by the French weekly Le Monde diplomatique.

    Both the McClatchy sketch of Hifter’s background and the WSWS perspective have been widely circulated on the Internet. The WSWS perspective has been linked to by a myriad of left-liberal and antiwar web sites, although, significantly, there has been no mention of Hifter in the press of the International Socialist Organization and other pseudo-socialist groups that adapt themselves politically to the pro-Obama liberal milieu.

    Hifter has been interviewed and his appointment reported by the European press, including the Independent of Britain, the German weekly Stern, and newspapers in Spain, France, Italy and Turkey (with variant spellings, including Heftar and Haftar). But not in America.

    Hifter’s name has not appeared in the bulk of the corporate-controlled US media. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times have all been curiously silent, despite having more journalists in the war zone than McClatchy. The US television networks have likewise kept quiet on the identity of the Libyan rebel commander, with the exception of a brief interview with Hifter on ABC News March 27, which made no reference to his previous long-term residence within five miles of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

    There is no credible explanation for this silence from the standpoint of journalism. There is no security reason to keep the name of the Libyan commander secret—it was publicly announced by the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, and Hifter is certainly well known to Gaddafi, who employed him as a commander of Libyan-backed forces in the civil wars in Chad in the 1980s.

    The obvious conclusion is that the American media is keeping silent in order to deprive the American people of information that would help clarify the nature of the US military intervention in Libya—and trigger opposition to it. The selection of a longtime CIA collaborator as commander of the rebels makes nonsense of the official claim that the United States is intervening militarily in Libya to protect civilian lives, rather than taking sides in a civil war in order to gain control of Libya’s oil assets and strengthen the position of American imperialism in the region.

    Two words that were notably absent from Obama’s Monday night speech on national television were “rebels” and “CIA.” Both the Obama administration and the US intelligence apparatus want to downplay their role in the direction of the rebel ground forces. For the American media, that amounts to a direct order, to which the editors of the Times, Post, etc., salute and say, “Yes, sir, Mr. President.”

    Only two months ago, Times editor Bill Keller penned a lengthy screed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the newspaper’s Sunday magazine section. In the course of his denunciation of a genuine journalist, this courtier of the American state declared that the role of “an independent news organization” was “to exercise responsible judgment about what to publish and what not to publish …” ..

    In the case of Khalifa Hifter, this responsibility “not to publish” extends beyond the concealment of the documentary evidence of American war crimes and diplomatic conspiracies uncovered by WikiLeaks. The American media is withholding from the American public basic facts about the war in Libya, widely reported overseas and easily available to those who know where to look. There is no other word for this but censorship.

  2. When I comented a long while back that I attempted to read all of fidel’s speeches I got answers (in good humor) about my stae of mind, before & after.
    In the next blog about codes I put fidel’s infamous “history will absolve me” speech, you want to see el futuro comandante at his best? please read it, but I must warn y’all arm yourselves w/a barf bag & strong desinfectant, one just in case you are unable to cotrol your gagging reflex the other just in case there are any ariborne pathogens comming out of that filth.

  3. Arnold, when you finish w/#50 start w/this one but … since you are the expert & I the simpleton, humor me & allow me to do it my way: cronologically.

    So lets start w/fidel’s statements in 1959, then we’ll look at the situation as it progressed year after year all the way till present times using his comentaries.
    here is what he declared in a 4hr. interview …
    I am sure that other people will contribute whereever holes appear affecting te contuinuity of the time line, the hope is for people to read & research, to check & double check what is presented here for their (as mine) education & information.

    -TEXT-Interview with FIDEL CASTRO

    Now that the dust has settled in Cuba, what are Fidel Castro’s
    plans? You can hear anything. Among the rumors:

    o That U.S. companies will be seized by the new Government.
    o That a Communist-type “land reform” program is under way.
    o That an attack on the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican
    Republic is all set.

    To separate the facts from the rumors, “U.S. News & World Report” sent
    its Inter-American News Editor–Clark H. Galloway–to Cuba for this
    exclusive interview with Fidel Castro after he took over as Prime Minister.
    The rebel leader discusses the problems confronting Cuba, and how he
    intends to meet them. Cuba, and how he intends to meet them. The
    interview, conducted in Spanish, took place in the National Palace in


    Q Mr. Prime Minister, is your Government going to take over some of
    the North American firms in Cuba?

    A Nothing has been said here about nationalization. We have not
    raised that question. We can revise some of the concessions made by the
    Batista dictatorship because they are onerous concessions and they are
    against the economy of our country, but we haven’t spoken of

    Our economic problems are different, they are fundamental, such as, for
    example, carrying our agrarian reform and developing industries in this
    country. As far as public services are concerned, they are diversified.
    For example, some of them are furnished by several companies at different
    prices, different rates. This is a problem that has to be studied and
    solved, but we haven’t said the nationalization of any public service is

    Q What are the big changes you want to make in Cuban?

    A Well, fundamentally the problem of Cuba is a problem of creation
    more than one of changes. It is as if we have been fenced in for many

    Our most serious problem is that the population grows constantly and,
    in contrast, the sources of employment do not increase. And, by the same
    degree to which industry adopts new technology and needs fewer and fewer
    workers, our population increases, and we find ourselves in a vicious
    circle from which there is no escape-men who have no work and who, thus,
    cannot be consumers, and an industry that cannot develop because it does
    not have consumers.

    We cannot compete with European industry in machinery and manufactured
    products, nor with U.S. industry. Our industry has to be an industry of
    consumption, principally consumption inside this country, and it is not
    possible to develop industry unless there is purchasing power.

    But how is it possible to give work to the people if the country is not
    industrializing? Our big problem is the hundreds of thousands of men who
    are out of work.

    Q What kinds of industries do you have in mind?

    A Principally those that produce foods, a textile industry and
    industries to produce manufactured products for Cuban consumption. Our
    industry could not hope to compete fundamentally with foreign industry;
    thus is must develop on the basis of domestic consumption and produce the
    largest possible quantity of articles and goods to be consumed in this

    Q How much will this industrialization program cost?

    A That depends, because you have to distinguish between the program
    of industrialization and the program of public works that should be carried
    out to meet many needs. Any Cuban town, our of the 200 or 300 towns that
    are more or less important, has a series of fabulous needs that never have
    been satisfied.

    You go to the towns and they ask you for schools, a hospital, sewers,
    street paving, trucks to use in cleaning the streets, parks, markets, city
    waterworks of all kinds. For example, they ask you for water-purification

    They want so much-I am making a census of all their needs. I have
    asked all the active citizens of each town to tell me what things they need
    and in what order they would like to have the Government provide them. I
    estimate that, to fulfill all these needs, it will be necessary to invest
    at least 2 billion pesos [equivalent to 2 billion dollars].

    Q Where would you get the money?

    A The money will come from this country, from the increase in the
    Government’s income in the same measure in which the standard of living is
    raised. I think that, in three years, we shall have doubled our budgets.
    Already after two months there is a surplus of 55 million pesos as the
    result of the increase in tax collections.

    Q And the money for industrialization?

    A The capital for industries will be partly Cuban and partly
    foreign. Fundamentally, we want to have capital loaned to us so that we
    can invest it through the credit agencies of the country, because, it
    capital comes from abroad and is invested directly, we have to pay
    interest, which is the cost of the capital, we have to amortize the
    capital, yet after we have amortized the borrowed capital, we shall still
    have something left for ourselves.

    Q Where would you borrow this money?

    A It could come from the United States, it could come from England,
    it could come from France, it could come from Germany.

    Q Would you borrow it from the governments or from commercial banks?

    A It appears that there is an abundance of capital in the
    [Unreadable text] at this moment, because we have received many offers of
    loans and investments, above all because they see that our Government is
    honest and because they see that we have decided to repay the pending
    debts of the dictatorship-that we have not refused to pay them.

    Q How do you feel about trading with the Soviet Union other
    Communist countries?

    A I think that we should sell to them if they buy from us. Because
    what we are going to do it we have the products left and they want to buy
    them? That’s what the United States does, and England and all the other

    Q Do your see a danger in Cuba in that?

    A There can be no danger if we do what Cubans want, if we provide
    social justice and solve the substantial social problems of all Cubans in a
    climate of liberty, of respect for individual rights, of freedom of the
    press and thought, of democracy, of liberty to elect their own Government.
    The revolution that we are making offers to the Cuban people things that
    no other social regime can offer in the world today. Do you understand?

    No, I have no fear at all of any other ideology. The ideology of the
    Twenty-sixth of July Movement, which is the ideology of social justice
    within the limits of the most ample democracy, liberty and human rights, is
    the most beautiful thing that can be promised to a man. Why should we be
    frightened? We do not have to be afraid.

    Q There have been reports that your brother, Maj. Raul Castro, and
    Maj. Ernesto Guevara are Communists or fellow travelers. Would you comment
    on this?

    A Well, I am going to tell you my opinion about that, and it is
    that here in Cuba politics always has been very traditional, very
    conservative, and there never existed any revolutionary hope. Many young
    people leaned to the left rather than sympathize with the traditional
    political parties that existed.

    From the moment when there was organized in Cuba the Twenty-sixth of
    July Movement-which is a truly revolutionary movement, which intends to
    build the economy of the country on just foundations, which is at the same
    time a revolutionary movement and a democratic movement with ample human
    content-this movement has absorbed into its ranks many people who formerly
    had no political alternative of any kind and who included toward parties of
    radical ideas.

    The Twenty-sixth of July Movement is a party of radical ideas, but it
    is not Communist movement and it differs from Communism in several
    essential respects. And in the Twenty-sixth of July Movement are men like
    Raul and like Guevara who are very much in agreement with my political

    Q Then they are not Communists?

    A Certainly not. The thinking of the Twenty-sixth of July Movement
    is not communistic.

    Q Mr. Prime Minister, will there be any question about having the
    United States continue to occupy the naval base at Guantanamo on its
    present terms?

    A That demand has not arisen. We have other problems which have
    more interest for us. We have economic and social problems. If we can
    maintain friendly relations with the United States-commercial, political,
    diplomatic-I see no reason why conflicts can arise.


    Q You referred earlier to agrarian reform. Can you explain that
    program in a few words?

    A The agrarian reform is as follows:

    Here in Cuba we have 200,000 or 300,000 families who are farmers and
    who have no land of their own. Those farmers work two or three months a
    year, during the sugar season only. They have no work for the rest of the
    year, they have no land to sow or to produce the most necessary things for
    their consumption.

    Many of those farmers come to the city seeking jobs, and they increase
    the number of unemployed people in the city.

    More than half of the country is rural and we have to convert it into a
    consuming population. Those farmers will never be consumers if they do not
    have land to produce things. The agrarian reform will increase many times
    the purchasing power of the farmer, and it will be the base for industrial
    development in China.

    There are the lands of the state and the private lands, and we think
    that there should be set a maximum limit to the farms devoted to the
    different kinds of production.

    Q A limit on the size of sugar plantations, for example?

    A We are studying this matter I am favorable to setting a limit on
    sugar lands also. Now, that would be good for the sugar factories because
    there has been a law for many years which prohibits sugar-mill owners and
    sugar factories from having cane land of their own. They evaded the law in
    this way: They established a company which was the owner of the sugar
    factory, and another company which was the owner of the sugar-cane
    plantations, and it was the same thing–they evaded the law. An industrial
    company must be industrial an not agricultural at the same time.

    The sugar factories cannot compete in the world market with a good
    price for sugar nowadays because their cost is very high. It is very
    expensive because the sugar mills are obsolete. If the sugar mills tried
    to modernize, to improve, the result would be that there would be many
    workmen unemployed, or, they would have to work have time; that is, it
    would create a very serious problem.

    The only way the sugar industry can be technologically improved is
    through the agrarian reform, which will draw off from that industry the
    excess of personnel which is demanding work–do you understand? They have
    to modernize themselves through the agrarian reform.

    What are they going to lose? They are not going to lose anything,
    because they are going to have sugar cane to grind, more sugar cane to
    grind and better conditions for improving their machinery.

    The other way there would be an eternal argument between an increasing
    number of workmen asking for work and an industry that has not progressed
    at all during the last year, and an industry which cannot progress if is
    not improved. Thus, agrarian reform does not mean any loss.

    We will indemnify them for the land. If we have no cash–and we will
    probably not have if for indemnifying them for all that–we can indemnify
    them in bonds, bonds which will have the guarantee of an honest
    Government, which can be sold on the market, bonds with interest, at the
    shortest possible term. I am thinking today, if persons who are more
    expert than I am in this matter do not differ from my opinion, that we
    could make the bonds run 10 or 15 years.

    These could be sold, and then we could ask the industrialists, the
    sugar-mill owners, and the great producers of sugar cane and cattle to
    invest those bonds in industries, because we are willing to give all
    guarantees to industries, with the condition that they pay high wages.

    Q Well, since Cuba depends to a great degree on its sugar exports,
    do you think that this dependency should be reduced?

    A It is convenient for us to sell to the United States, and it is
    convenient for the United States to buy from us, because, in the difficult
    times that the United States has gone through it has always had a major
    sugar produce in Cuba. It is in the interest of the United States that
    this provider be preserved, because sugar is a basic good for the United
    States, and we can produce it cheaper here than you can there.

    We could offer to the American people a cheaper price than today’s
    price; yet the United States Government makes people pay a higher price
    because it is protecting certain sugar interests in that country. Land in
    the United States and produce wheat, it can produce other things that are
    subsidized. We could favor the American people in the future by selling
    them all the sugar they want, much cheaper than today.

    If it is true that, on the one hand, United States policy benefits
    certain agriculturists who have a completely artificial industry, we would
    benefit the whole American population by selling sugar at a cheaper price
    than today’s. Americans like sweet things a lot, and we can offer them all
    they want and maintain good relations.


    Q Do you favor having Cuba serve as a base for military operations
    against the Dominican Republic and perhaps other countries?

    A Well, I am going to tell you what I think about that. We have
    work to do here. What worries me fundamentally–I am going to answer you
    with complete frankness–what worries me in these moments are the problems
    of Cuba. What interests me are the problems of Cuba and the work that we
    have to accomplish. All right, that is not to say that a person could be
    so selfish as to view with indifference the sufferings of other people of
    Latin America.

    Trujillo [President of the Dominican Republic] is a danger to Cuba.
    Trujillo is a danger to Latin America.

    We could seek out Batista anywhere if we wanted to. Here we have enough
    volunteers to go and kill Batista in the United States, in Mexico, wherever
    he might be. However, we shall never accept or promote or support any
    action outside our national territory, because we respect the laws other
    countries. Trujillo does not respect them. Trujillo has established a
    continental dictatorship.

    In a certain sense it is logical that a democratic government and we
    democratic Cubans would view with sympathy any movement against Trujillo,
    but for us to intervene directly in the problems of Santo Domingo–no.


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