The Missed Parade

The echos of the shouts reach my balcony, in a rhythm marked initially by feet accompanied by throats. It’s less than two weeks to the huge parade planned for for the Plaza of the Revolution and residents for miles around are worn out by all the preparations. Closed streets, police blocking traffic and squads making the avenues and sidewalks shudder, where there should be cars, people and baby strollers.

I climb to the roof to see the choreography of war in its entirety. Things will go badly if the Cuban Communist Party Congress starts with a procession of bayonets. If they really wanted to project an image of reforms, it would not be these olive-green uniforms on exhibit on Saturday, April 16. How much do we wish this day would be a peregrination of results, not of fear! That they would show a long line of what we could accomplish, not the overwhelming demonstration of a military might we don’t even have! Can you imagine? A parade along the Paseo and its environs where the dreams we dreamed of are sheltered, not the cold metal and threatening triggers of AK rifles?

This could be a procession of the things we miss, a festival of joy in which no one would be forced to participate. No principals recruiting schoolchildren to pass under the sun waving at the platform and the workers knowing that their absence would not result in a black mark in their personnel file. A true popular parade, not the wasting on one day of an entire month’s worth of the Nation’s resources. Better to let it sprout spontaneously, smiling people taking to the streets, rather than this sense of anguish that today’s syncopated cries provoke in us.

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37 thoughts on “The Missed Parade

  1. @#32
    I forgot, thank u 4 ur sense of humor buddy … I needed a laugh … THANKS & keep them comming!

  2. Carmine:
    Your suffering pains me, your idealism & quest for freedom makes me admire your resiliency in the face of self inflicted punishment; life in Canada (or where ever u are) must be hell, please buddy stop it, in the name of compassion please stop ur suffering & go to live in Cuba, be free, slow down & enjoy life … I hope for ur happiness … :-)

  3. @#32- Check the census in Cuba between the early 1920s, 1959 and 1980. The trail of emigration will direct you to the countries of perceived freedom and opportunity, starry nights notwithstanding. (I will note that I, too, enjoy those incredibly starry nights. You can have them in Mont-Mégantic and in other parts of the world that do not imprison you for expressing your opinions. ;)

    Also, the Cubans you referenced did not miss perceived “freedoms.” What they missed were cultural differences. The slowness of life they were looking for does not exist in Canada or the States. They should have gone to Italy!

  4. GUESS THIS IS ONE OF THE “GREAT PLANS” THAT FIDEL HAD FOR HIS PEOPLE ACCORDING TO Carmine Di Zazzo ! NO CUBAN COFFEE FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE, BUT YES TO THE REST OF THE WORLD!

    Cuba’s Secret Coffee Ingredient!

    It’s not really a secret. It has to be listed on the label, and the President just announced that Cuba will be supplementing the domestic coffee with this ingredient because of a dwindling coffee crop.

    AP reporter Andrea Rodriguez writes that the coffee crop is falling in production because there is no benefit to growing coffee. Farmers think they’re better off moving to cities where life is easier. At the same time, the Cubans love coffee and it’s a part of their hospitality. Visitors are always offered a cup and Cubans don’t like to start the day without it. This causes high demand – at the tune of 18,000 tons – while only 6000 tons is available so far this year. To satisfy this greater demand, the state spends millions to import coffee.

    So now the government is planning to stimulate the farming sector, and in the meantime, add roasted peas to the coffee. This was done until 2005 and some Cubans have missed their unique blend. According to blogger Yoani Sanchez, families have had to resort to this to stretch the amount of rationed coffee so they’ve had enough for their needs. The process is similar to that of roasting beans. Peas are roasted until black and ground and added to the coffee grounds. The result, though different from coffee, has been enjoyed anyway, and some found other additions to throw in the pot with the beans and peas, such as wheat berries and various toasted herbs.

    Fifty years ago Cuba was a foremost producer and exporter of coffee. They’re still exporting some, so it’s unclear if the actual production for export is being counted in the 6000 ton figure. The exported coffee is the real thing, not a pea blend, of course. Japan is one of the biggest importers of Cuban coffee, as it’s a favorite with the Japanese.

    Hopefully the condition s for farmers in Cuba will be improved so coffee production can meet the domestic and foreign demands. Cuba has the right growing conditions and great soil for producing excellent coffee. Try some for yourself, from ROASTe’s varied selection. And you won’t have to put blackened peas in it, we promise!

    http://www.roaste.com/CafeRoaste/News/2011/04/12/Cubas-Secret-Coffee-Ingredient-5927

  5. Carmine Di Zazzo!Sorry if your friends fell for that Cuban Charm!They got some DUDS in the Cuba pool! Reguardless, there is a reason why everyone in the world comes to Canada and specially the USA! Must be the good fishing we got in these parts!

  6. In answer to all the critics on my comments all I can say is when we change our way of life for another, we kno what we are leaving behind but nothing is more uncertain than what we are getting into. Believeme, living in a so called “free” country is not what you see on television everyday, the life of the rich and famous partying all the time. It is hard work, getting stuck in traffic for hours driving to work each day, and it gets so cold in winter that it is actually warmer in our freezers than it is outdoors.
    My niece and a secretary from work both married cuban men. After a while they managed to get approval to move to Canada. One of them I got to know real well. After one year here he kept on telling me how much he missed his native Cuba. How hw missed getting up late in the mornings when he felt like getting up at all, how he missed going fishing with his friends whenever he felt like it, how he missed going to the beach whenever he felt like it, how he missed dancing in the streets whenever and wherever he felt like it. I know for a fact that they both got married so they could flea from Cuba, and as expected they both left their wives after 2 years of marriage. The routine life they had settled into was just too much for them to handle. Believe it or not, I didn`t blame him one bit cause I know a little of the freedom he left behind in Cuba. I wonder who is more close to freedom us here in Canada who work 9 or 10 hours a day, yes making good money but also with huge bills to pay, or people in Cuba who just enjoying the little things in life like nature, the sea, a bright sunny day, a sky full of millions of stars at nite, in other words all the little things that we in our “free’ country don`t even notice.

  7. Carmine Di Zazzo! Thanks for following me on twitter! I like to think of my followers as a A CONGA LINE leading to a FREE CUBA!

  8. Carmine,

    I agree with NOTHING you say but I greatly appreciate the respectful and thoughtful way in which you present your opinions.

  9. And for the record: I am an eyewitness to severe hunger and its consequences in Cuba. And there are Cubans I know very well who have never had a day with a full stomach in their entire lives, including when the Soviets were pouring in billions of dollars. If you judge goodness by eliminating hunger and poverty you would definitely admire Pinochet more than Che or Fidel. I’m no fan of any of them, just telling you the truth.

    And from what I’ve seen in North America, the university and health systems offer better service to the poorest of their citizens than does Cuba. Believe me, I’m the biggest critic of both, but from first hand experience, Cuba’s are in general worse.

    Let me end with a question, who do you talk to and where do you stay when you’re in Cuba?

  10. Carmine, we can make heroes or villains out of anybody, it depends on the side of them we wish to look at. Please remember that many people from Adolf Hitler to Jim Jones died for their beliefs, but does that make them admirable or “good”? Plenty of insane men have killed their wives and kids before killing themselves, all for their beliefs, does that make them good? Plenty of people from Louis XVI to Jim Jones to Pinochet have dreamed of their people eating to the full, does that make them all “good”?

    Intending to do good isn’t the same as doing good. In order to be good, a person has to be honest and courageous enough to look at the results of his actions and to take criticism and admit his mistakes. Neither Che nor Fidel nor the people I mentioned above fit that bill.

  11. Yes not everything we read is not always true nevertheless the death warrants signed by che while at La Cabana are proof of his nature, so are his decisions that caused the economic debacle of Cuba, his diaries are the record of his failed campaigns from Central America thu Africa & down to Bolivia, these diaries even include the list of his “companeros” dead because of his ineptitude as a comander.
    Notice (while you read the available material) a comun denominator: it is always he criticizing the “focos” for their errors while seldom himself.
    His speeches were only words, like the ones of any politician, his actions were reckless, willing to sacrifice lives even in the millions as he stated in comenting during the Cuban missile incident if the misiles would have been “live” he would have fired them at the USA.
    I respect your admiration for che but I can’t agree in being proud of him, specially after considering his record as a military man, as an ideologue, as a minister & as an executioner.

  12. #24
    Yes indeed I am very proud of “El Che”. Did you not see his speach in front of the United Nations. How can you not be proud of a man like him. He risked his life every day for the cause of a country that wasn`t even his own. I am not well placed to comment on the post revolution purges that took place. I only know what I read, and not everything we read is always the truth as Yoani and her friends state so well in her book “Cuba Libre”. But I can say with certainty, having read several of Che Guevara`s biographies, including the one by John Anderson, he must have had his reasons. From what I read he seems to be an honest man with lots of integrity.

    #23
    I do not agree that Fidel is a dictator as you call him. A divtator thinks about his personal wealth and does not care about his people. As far as I know there is not one Cuban citizen that is starving to death. Pinochet can be called a dictator, for the health and state of his people were not of primary concern to him. “Papa Doc Duvalier” can be called a dictator, because while his people were starving to death he was filling his wallet with trade with the U.S. Ferdinando Marcos can be called a dictator for the only people well paid in the Phillipines were his personal army to protect him, and when he left he took millions and millions of dollars with him. Honestly speaking, I don`t see Mr. Castro as a dictator.

    #20
    Well Rick, as if 40 % of my paycheck weren`t enough for our government, every time I buy something I have to pay an extra 5.5% federal tax and another 9.5% provincial tax, but you already know that. Is this really a free country we live in. Are we that far off from the standards in Cuba. You can`t compare salaries with Cuba and Canada, the cost of living isn`t the same. How much does one pay monthly for electricity in Cuba, 1 CUC peso maybe or 25 cuban pesos maybe. Well my monthly electricity bill is 180 Canadian dollars which would be 4500 cuban pesos per month. You see you can`t compare. Where in Cuba rice is distributed free of charge with the monthly stamps, here we have to pay for it. In Cuba Yoani dreams of the day all cubans will have their daily glass of milk, here in Canada, like I said in another comment, over stocks of milk are dumped into ditches so that the price of milk will not drop. If you look at things from a different perspective, it makes you wonder, how free are we really in Canada, and what is the cost of this so called freedom.

  13. #20

    Carmine in Canada your taxes may be 40% of your income and in Cuba your income is $20 a month so the healthcare and education is not free in Cuba but rather than you paying for it from your pocket or by being taxed on your income and the state subsidizing it the regime pays that miserly sum for your labors and provides the education and healthcare as part of your compensation or work benefits to all, there is no “free lunch” you still “pay” for what you receive and in the case of the common Cuban citizen that is not a heck of a lot…

  14. To have an ancestor like che & be proud about it …
    To declare oneself judge & executioner justified by the perceived rightness of a cause?
    To be such a military genious, have the number of failures & body count of his own “companeros” as a proof?
    To be such a leader & drive most if not all the economy of Cuba into the ground?
    To sale Cuba’s patrimony to the former USSR for the sake of an ideology?
    To enslave the Cuban people w/the “security devices” created by him?
    After researching what I state here & confirm its veracity, please someone tell me to be like che is an honor.

  15. Carmine Di Zazzo said: “Is there a difference between when Fidel Castro crossed the Gulf of Mexico in the Granma with a few men who believed in his cause, and when Yoani and a few friends wrote the first post on their blog?”

    Carmine, they are very similar. The original goals of the “Revolution” was to defeat the dictator Batista and becomen independent from the USA. Now Fidel IS the DICTATOR, who is corrupt and needs to go. Batista was in power only a few years while Fidel and Raul almost 52 years. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for that reign. Fidel hijacked the “Revolution” which was made possible by many including Camilo Cienfuegos. Fidel lied to the Cuban people when he said the Revolution would have FREE ELECTIONS and it was NOT communist. Yes, you a right they are very similar and the internet is Yoani’s and the independent bloggers’ Granma!

  16. @#20
    Perhaps the difference is not in the inspiration/intent but in the aftermath …
    For one, the idea of transforming Cuba into a marxist-lenninist state was the intent; fidel denied it at the begining in interviews given to the press, local & international & in his speeches (see/read fidel’s speeches of the time).
    In a very short time the rebolution went from “protectors” of democracy to taking over once their power was consolidated by their actions like the ones in La Cabana where che was in charge of dispensing “rebolutionary justice” & then declaring a marxist-lenninist rebolution … so the intention came into light being very different than the inspiration if ever was one.

  17. wow I had to make a double take when I saw the flag on this picture … it looks like the Marine flag …

  18. Wow,
    I did not expect my comments to get so many reaction. Nevertheless I don`t agree with all of your comments. John Two, where in Canada do you live that healthcare is free, here in Quebec there is an annual fee not to mention the high cost of prescription medication along with almost 40% of my paycheck in income taxes, if that is what you call free it doesn`t seem so to me.
    El Avalanchito, in response to your comments I would say the line is thin. Is there a difference between when Fidel Castro crossed the Gulf of Mexico in the Granma with a few men who believed in his cause, and when Yoani and a few friends wrote the first post on their blog? Is their a difference with the disaster when Fidel landed in Cuba and the welcome that Yoani`s first blog got. Is there a difference when Fidel even after almost being killed decided to continue his struggle for what he believed in, and when Yoani decided to continue her struggle even after authorities decided to prevent her blog from being posted online. I tell you the line is thin.
    All I would have to say is if Yoani and her fellow bloggers keep pushing to get what they believe in, just like Mr. Castro, they will surely succeed. Don`t blame your government for the situation cubans are in, the rest of the world who turned their back`s on Fidel have alot to do with it.

  19. As always, theatrics and intimidation seems to be one of the few remaining traits the dynasty preserves in their progressively diminishing inventory of neurons and synaptic connections.

    Impressing and intimidating: tools of their repressive machine that no longer persuade. One would think that these ferrous pieces of hardware would have all rusted and worned out by now, and that they would’ve been replaced with new, more sophisticated mechanisms that would make for a smoother working, quieter and less cantankerous temperament after fifty years of non-stop work. But no luck there. They persist in pursueing their unidimentional goal of keeping up the noise, subjecting their raw material – the population – to endless discomforts and long waits, stressing out their now sensitive ears and patience.

    The problem for the above scenario is that the new younger generation, like granite, the hardest rock known to man, are standing firm and won’t submit to the regime as their elders did eons ago. Since they have time on their side, they can restlessly wait, and have a little fun while at it, poking the octogenarians thin and easly bruised skins, in any peaceful way they can.

  20. Carmine Di Zazzo said: “where all citizens could eat to their full (maybe not beef every day)”

    Carmine! What about BEEF ONCE A YEAR (Maybe)!! I missed that one! More to come!

  21. Carmine Di Zazzo said:

    “Fidel Castro is a visionary who dreamed of a country where all citizens could eat to their full (maybe not beef every day) and walk the streets feeling safe, and as afar as I am concerned he succeeded.”

    “Fidel Castro had great plans for his people.” (NO! Fidel had great plans for FIDEL)

    YOUTUBE: Castro’s Lies – “Representative Democracy” in a “well planned economy”!

    WHILE RESEARCHING THE “REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY” STATEMENT BY FIDEL CASTRO IN THIS VIDEO, I WAS SURPRIZED TO FIND OUT THAT HE WAS SOMEWHAT “HONEST” ON THIS TERM AND LYING ON THE OTHER TWO. WE CAN SEE THE OBVIOUS ONE ABOUT “MARXISM AND COMMUNISM” AND THE LAST ONE YOU ONLY HAVE TO SEE THE STATE OF THE CUBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND ECONOMY NOW TO MAKE A FINAL JUDGEMENT.

    A representative democracy that emphasizes individual liberty is a liberal democracy. One that does not is an illiberal democracy.

    An illiberal democracy, also called a pseudo democracy, partial democracy, low intensity democracy, empty democracy, hybrid regime or delegative democracy,[1] is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties. It is not an ‘open society’. This may be because a constitution limiting government powers exists, but its liberties are ignored, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist. The term illiberal democracy was used by Fareed Zakaria in a regularly cited 1997 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.[2]
    Illiberal democratic governments may believe they have a mandate to act in any way they see fit as long as they hold regular elections. Lack of liberties such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly make opposition extremely difficult. The rulers may centralize powers between branches of the central government and local government (having no separation of powers). Media are often controlled by the state and strongly support the regime. Non-governmental organizations may face onerous regulations or simply be prohibited. The regime may use red tape, economic pressure or violence against its critics.

    There is a spectrum of illiberal democracies: from those that are nearly liberal democracies to those that are almost openly dictatorships. One proposed method of determining whether a regime is an illiberal democracy is to determine whether “it has regular, free, fair, and competitive elections to fill the principal positions of power in the country, but it does not qualify as Free in Freedom House’s annual ratings of civil liberties and political rights.”[3]

  22. Carmine Di Zazzo said “If I were cuban I would be proud to have an ancestor like the “Che” who risked his life daily without hesitation during the revolution so cubans could be free.”

    Well Carmine, I am Cuban and I am NOT proud of what Che did. He was not a Cuban and he killed MANY Cubans without trial. That makes him a “Mercenary” even though he was a “Ideological” one. AND CUBANS ARE ANYTHING BUT FREE NOW! Maybe Che would have killed Fidel given a chance then in your view of the world.

    THE HISTORY CHANNEL’S “The True Story of Che Guevar” based on the book by Jon Anderson

    SOME HIGHLIGHTS ABOUT CHE GUEVARA FROM THE DOCUMENTARY
    The executions were in the dozens by Che Guevara while in Sierra Maestra. He became “ruthless”. They called him “Dr. Sacamuelas” due to his harsh punishments for disobedinece. Fidel stayed back while Che pushed forward after Santa Clara victory. “If the rebels knew they were fighting a communist rebellion they would have all left.” Fidel was not a Marxist in the beginning

    Fidel sends Che ahead to push toward Havana while Fidel took a “leisurely” stroll from Santiago after Santa Clara win and Batista’s departure. The purging of foes start. Fidel promises elections in 18 months & not to “sease land from any body.” No elections ever took place. Che takes over La Cabana fortress where executions, summary trials & executions begin, 1000’s killed, many innocents.

    THE FULL DOCUMENTARY AT THIS LINK OR LOOK FOR IT ON YOUTUBE IN SEVERAL SEGMENTS
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-true-story-of-che-guevara/

  23. Dear Yolanda, thank you for your blog. I wish you and all the people who lives in the same situation as you to one day not have anguish and taste the beautiful perfume of freedom.Stay strong. Cheers.

  24. Carmine: Thanks for your comments and welcome to this forum.

    The issue with Cuba is not so much whether one can walk safely in the streets – police states tend to be safe due their harsh punishments and vigilance. Nor that everyone eats just enough so that they don’t die of hunger, this was accomplished in the former Soviet Union. Also, never mind that they made a mistake initially by communizing the island and inserting themselves between superpower struggles.

    The problem with this dynasty is that this is the 21st century, humans have made strides in the art of self governance, and they still persist in prolonging a fifty year dictatorship, with the same almost demented group of people. Freedom of thought and discourse is severely limited. And one of the highest human needs, which is moving about or traveling is prohibited.

    Doesn’t that sound unreasonable to you?

  25. Carmine, welcome to Yoani’s blog. In reply to your comments, practically every country in Western Europe (other than the UK) has free or almost free university education. Every European country has free or almost free medically necessary health care. So does Canada where I live. Even in countries like the US where you have to pay for university and health care, subsidies are available for those with low incomes.

    I don’t object to the Castro regime because they brought in social programs which by the way are hardly unique. I object to the Castro regime because they imposed a military dictatorship on the Cuban people.

  26. Hello,
    Cangratulations on your blog, even though I don`t always agree with your thoughts and views. If I were cuban I would be proud to have an ancestor like the “Che” who risked his life daily without hesitation during the revolution so cubans could be free. Fidel Castro is a visionary who dreamed of a country where all citizens could eat to their full (maybe not beef every day) and walk the streets feeling safe, and as afar as I am concerned he succeeded. Name me one capitalist country in which every citizen is entitled to free unversity studies. In most of them only the rich and priviliged people have access and not without a huge price to pay.
    Fidel Castro had great plans for his people. If the the other countries would have helped he would have succeeded far better than he has already done. If instead of raising blockades against Cuban imports they had profited from the riches of your country, you may have been one of the richest countries in the world today. And even one of the best countries to live in today. Mr.Castro saw the richness of Cuba, and he also saw the craving Cubans had to be free of the grip that the “monster” had on their country. I wonder Yoani, had the rest of the world helped Mr. Castro, where would Cuba be today?
    Maybe I`m only a dreamer, but like in John Lennon`s song “Imagine” I would like to believe the world would be a better place to live in if all were equal with no one categorized as the richer or the poorer. And if all the milk in the world would be shared equally, there would be more than enough so that everyone would have 1, maybe 2, maybe even 3 glasses per day. Would you believe me Yoani if I told you that where I live in, milk producers are forced to through away and scrap whole tanker truck loads of milk so that the price of milk remains high, and because they have surpassed the limits allowed by government that they are supposed to produce per day?
    I have visited Cuba 6 times now. Everywhere I went I felt like at home. I would walk in the streets feeling alot safer than I feel like here at home. If allowed I would even think of spending the rest of my life there now that the time for my retirement is nearing.
    In no way I am criticising your blog nor your works, on the contrary I read them with a never fullfilling hunger, always wanting to read more and find out more about Cuba. I just felt like sharing some thoughts with you and your readers from another point of view.
    Keep up the good work,
    Carmine Di Zazzo

  27. Rick,

    I think she is the middle, level headed type of person we need for change in Cuba. No screaming, no gossip, just willing to listen but not to be used! She is MY FLACA!!

  28. YOUTUBE: YO SOY CUBANO EN CUBA

    Los hombros y con el sombrero, juan Carlos Fernandez aceptar mi propuesta y yo hablamos acerca de su Cuba. entrevista, la primera de su vida con el temor de ser reconocido! estudio franco-tete fotodallalto

    With much candor, Juan Carlos Fernandez accepted my proposal and he I talked about his Cuba. This was the first interview of his life and he had the fear of being recognized! Franco-tete study

  29. Yoani’s article in the Washington Post was about the most level-headed analysis I’ve come across regarding Jimmy Carter’s visit.

    Regarding today’s blog entry, Cuba is after all a military dictatorship (or junta as they used to be called in a previous era).

    Clearly Cuba’s military isn’t going to scare the Americans or any other world power for that matter. But it still serves the purpose of instilling fear in the Cuban populace.

  30. COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Ending dark era, Cuba frees last jailed journalist-

    New York, April 8, 2011–The Cuban government on Thursday released the last journalist remaining in its prisons, ending a dark, eight-year-long era in which the island nation was one of the world’s worst jailers of the press, at one time imprisoning nearly 30 independent reporters and writers. The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed relief today that Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández has been freed, a milestone in an intensive, international advocacy effort led by the Catholic Church, the Spanish government, and international press and human rights groups.

    Du Bouchet Hernández arrived in Madrid this morning after being released from jail the previous day, press reports said. Du Bouchet Hernández was exiled to Spain as part of a group of 37 newly freed political prisoners and more 200 of their family members, according to The Associated Press. The detainees and their families were flown from Havana on a flight chartered by the Spanish government, press reports said.

    “We are greatly relieved that the last independent Cuban journalist still in prison has been released. A years-long nightmare of suffering and humiliation for a large group of journalists and their families has finally come to an end,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “However, independent journalists in Cuba continue to face harassment and intimidation for their work. We call on the Cuban government now to dismantle the obsolete legal framework that punishes independent reporting with jail, and to grant freedom of expression to all Cubans.”

    Du Bouchet Hernández, former director of the Havana-based independent news agency Havana Press, was serving a three-year sentence on charges of “disrespect” and distributing enemy propaganda. At the time of his release, he was being held at the Melena II Prison, in Havana province. He faced appalling prison conditions, including poor food and overflowing wastewater, colleague Roberto De Jesús Guerra said.

    In a July 7, 2010, deal brokered by the Catholic Church with the help of the Spanish government, Cuban authorities agreed to release 52 political prisoners–including numerous journalists–who had been rounded up in a March 2003 crackdown on dissent known as the Black Spring.

    The government swept up 29 journalists in all in the Black Spring, tried them in secret, one-day proceedings on broad antistate charges, and sentenced them to terms of up to 27 years. A handful had been released over the years even as some additional independent journalists, such as Du Bouchet Hernández, who was arrested in 2009, were detained.

    The deal announced in July 2010 led to the gradual release of all Black Spring prisoners, although most were forced to leave the country for Spain. Du Bouchet Hernández was not directly included in the 2010 agreement, but his freedom came with a similar condition of exile.

    Only three Black Spring journalists, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Iván Hernández Carrillo, and Pedro Argüelles Morán, have been allowed to remain in Cuba after rejecting exile to Spain as a condition of release. The three were freed on parole.

    CPJ advocated intensively for the release of the 29 Black Spring journalists, as it did with Du Bouchet, documenting their unjust prosecution and mistreatment in prison in dozens of reports, news alerts, and letters. CPJ met with Latin American ambassadors at the United Nations and worked through diplomatic channels to bring attention to their plight. Starting in 2007, CPJ engaged Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to help secure the releases.

    The newly freed journalists have been recounting their imprisonment and liberation in a series of first-person stories, “After the Black Spring,” on the CPJ Blog. Today, journalist Juan Adolfo Fernández Saínz describes “the horrors of the hellhole” in prison.

    http://www.cpj.org/2011/04/ending-dark-era-cuba-frees-last-jailed-journalist.php

  31. Cuban regime expels Spanish journalist for being a ‘counterrevolutionary’-By Alberto de la Cruz

    While the Obama administration, Jimmy Carter, and “Cuba Experts” plead for the U.S. to show tolerance towards the brutal Castro dictatorship, the Cuban regime continues its intolerance for anyone who dares to speak the truth about Cuba and its monarchical dictatorship. For the regime as well as its defenders, tolerance is a one-way street where we are expected to accept the brutality of a dictatorship as an alternative form of government, while never daring to expect anything in return.

    According to Spain’s El Mundo, one of their contributors, Spanish journalist Carlos Hernando, was arrested and detained by Cuban State Security on charges of being a”counterrevolutionary” and given 48 hours to leave the country.

    ELMUNDO.es contributor in Cuba accused of being a counterrevolutionary
    Thirty-five year old Carlos Hernando, a contributor to El Mundo in Havana, has been accused by Cuban authorities of being a counterrevolutionary. The information came to ELMUNDO.es from the journalist’s family.

    Hernando was released this past Thursday after being detained for a few hours by agents of State Security in Havana.

    The family also informed that the Cuban authorities have given him 48 hours to leave the island.

    They also explained that Hernando has been escorted to the home where he was staying in El Vedado and he planned to leave Cuba in a matter of hours. Not leaving the island could bring him “grave consequences.”

    YOUTUBE VIDEO: Carlos Hernando explica todo sobre su detención – Carlos Hernando explains (in Spanish) all about his detention

  32. hi trudeau, could I have the name of the film or film-maker please?

    thanks in advance.

  33. These kinds of goose-stepping military parades were something that developed during the Russian period. Before that, May Day was a crazier, more Latino event. A Cuban friend of mine has made, for French television, a terrific film about the Russian period. It ends with speeches by leaders of both countries vowing eternal solidarity and love. Enough said.

  34. Humberto, Here is another contribution to your efforts. This is from The Washington Post let’s hope that those inside the beltway pay attention to Yoani’s words….

    What Jimmy Carter can’t change in Cuba

    By Yoani Sanchez, Thursday, April , 7:29 PM

    Thirty years after he left the White House and nine years since his only previous visit to Cuba, Jimmy Carter arrived in Havana last week, wearing the white guayabera that would serve as his uniform during a three-day visit to our island. Watching on television, I recalled how toward the end of his presidency — just as I was starting kindergarten — I learned to scream my first anti-imperialist slogans while thinking of his blue-eyed face.

    In the 1970s, the newspaper Granma mocked his background as a peanut farmer. Soon, however, the Castro regime launched more than grievances and caricatures at the U.S. president. In 1980, the Mariel Boatlift sent more than a hundred thousand of our compatriots to his shores, including prisoners and mental patients rushed to the port from Cuba’s jails and asylums.

    Those same sad days brought the birth of “repudiation rallies,” with mobs throwing stones, eggs and excrement and spitting on the “infamous traitors” boarding those boats because they couldn’t stand to wait any longer for the promised island paradise.

    The pressure of such a flood forced Carter to close the doors to immigrants, handing that battle to Fidel Castro, who screamed “Let the scum go! Let them go!” as he masked ideological extremism under the pose of revolutionary euphoria.

    Carter’s mishandling of that immigration crisis, some say, is among the reasons he was not reelected.

    Some 20 years later, our media did an about-face and began referring to the former U.S. commander in chief as Mr. Carter. When he visited in 2002 he was introduced as a friend of our Maximum Leader. We who had once insulted him at school assemblies were confused by the red-carpet treatment afforded the man who was once our greatest enemy.

    On that visit, as on his recent one, Carter met with government figures but also with opposition groups demonized and outlawed by the authorities. For a moment, we almost thought the world might have changed when Carter spoke before national television cameras in the Great Hall at the University of Havana. It was from his lips that we Cubans heard for the first time about the Varela Project, an effort by Oswaldo Paya to collect signatures for a referendum to amend the Cuban constitution to recognize our basic human rights, including freedom of expression and association.

    But the moment was fleeting. Within a few months of Carter’s departure, a series of arrests known as the Black Spring took place across our country. Long prison sentences resulted for 75 dissidents and independent journalists, particularly those who had gathered signatures.

    Last week, Carter met with Raul Castro in a formal government setting and with Fidel Castro, casually and at length in his living room.

    As before, the regime pretended to show a tolerant face. Raul apparently gave the order not to interfere with the Nobel peace laureate’s early-morning breakfast with a few of us alternative bloggers who, just days earlier, had been demonized on official television as “mercenaries of the empire.”

    Also on Carter’s agenda were just-released prisoners of the Black Spring, at least those who were not forced into exile, and their brave wives — known here as the Ladies in White — who never stopped marching for their husbands’ freedom, stoically facing down the repudiation rallies.

    As before, Carter found points on which to praise the government, but it all sounded more like diplomatic formalities than real points of consensus.

    The big question is whether the presence of the former U.S. president in our complex national situation will change anything. While I don’t believe we will move from a totalitarian state to a democracy by the mere fact of his visit, some acts have a symbolic significance that transcends their purposes.

    His willingness to meet with bloggers and other representatives of our country’s emerging civil society extends some ephemeral mantle of protection. It proves that a bubble of respect is possible and that the shock troops who act against the activities of the dissidents are neither spontaneous nor autonomous but a formal arm of the regime. Carter’s willingness to hear our concerns forced Cuban authorities to inadvertently validate us and to acknowledge that there are other voices.

    But there must be no illusions. Never mind that Carter proclaimed the innocence of jailed American Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years for sharing technology to provide Internet access to Jewish groups in Cuba, nor that he stated that Cubans should be able to freely leave and enter the country. Carter will not succeed in creating changes we ourselves have not set in motion. And on this island where objectivity finds no middle ground, it seems we must wait for an entire family to die before anything can happen.

    Yoani Sanchez is a writer in Cuba. Her awards include the 2010 World Press Freedom Hero award. She blogs at http://www.desdecuba.com/ generationy and is the author of “Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth About Cuba Today.” This column was translated from Spanish by M.J. Porter.

    2011 The Washington Post Company

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-jimmy-carter-cant-change-in-cuba/2011/04/05/AFnSJUxC_story.html

  35. FOX NEWS LATINO: Cuban dissident under house arrest-April 07, 2011

    Havana – Prominent Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas has been confined to his home in the central city of Santa Clara after being detained with several other people following a protest, he told Efe Thursday.

    The arrest took place Wednesday night when he and some colleagues went to the State Security office in Santa Clara to enquire about several other people detained during the earlier “civic protest,” Fariñas said by telephone.

    He said he and his companions were arrested for refusing to leave the office after being told their fellow dissidents would not be released right away.

    “We said we were going to stay and they proceeded to detain us,” Fariñas said, adding that he was taken to another police station and held there for six hours before being transported to the hospital with “a sharp pain in the chest.”

    Doctors kept him under observation for a few hours, he said.

    State Security agents escorted him home at dawn Thursday, seized his identity card and told him he was under house arrest, Fariñas said.

    Two agents were posted outside his home to enforce the order, the dissident said.

    The 49-year-old psychologist and recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize mounted a 134-day hunger strike last year to demand the release of ailing political prisoners, who have since been freed.

    Fariñas has been arrested five times this year, but quickly released on each occasion.

    http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/04/07/cuban-dissident-house-arrest/

  36. Castro’s Legacy: Cuba’s Foreign Debt

    Estimated Hard Currency Debt, 2006*

    Creditors (by country) Debts (in U.S. dollars)
    Venezuela [1] 5.970 billion
    Japan [2] 2.229 billion
    Spain [3] 1.974 billion
    Argentina [4] 1.967 billion
    China [5] 1.770 billion
    France [6] 1.468 billion
    Russia (post-Soviet) [7] 819 million
    United Kingdom [8] 388 million
    Italy [9] 384 million
    Germany [10] 351 million
    Mexico [11] 325 million
    Czech Republic [12] 265 million
    Iran [13] 256 million
    Netherlands [14] 232 million
    Belgium [15] 225 million
    Panama (Colon Free Zone) [16] 200 million
    Canada [17] 99 million
    Vietnam [18] 98 million
    Austria [19] 59 million
    Brazil [20] 40 million
    Trinidad & Tobago [21] 30 million
    Uruguay [22] 30 million
    Sweden [23] 16 million
    Portugal [24] 5 million
    Switzerland [25] 1 million
    Undisclosed Foreign Financing [26] 752 million
    TOTAL 19.953 billion (est.)
    http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/FACTS_Web/Cuba%20Facts%20Issue%2029%20March%202007.htm

  37. What a waste of a nation’s resources. First feed the people, then you can have a parade.

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