Laughter and the Congress

Celia Cruz. Caricatura de Aristides

Laughter is still an effective cure for the daily trials. Thus, on this Island, we bend our lips into a smile more for self-therapy than for happiness. Then the tourists take our pictures and go home saying we are a happy people, that we haven’t lost our sense of humor before all the difficulties. Ahh! The tourists and their explanations! We tour the world with the instant of that laugh on our faces — a laugh that preceded a gesture of disgust — or with the image of satisfaction that overwhelms us on resolving, after a year’s effort, a pair of graduated lenses for a child.

Splitting our sides laughing can also be preventative medicine to avoid disappointments to come. Perhaps for this reason, every time I ask someone about the possible reforms likely to grow out of the Sixth Communist Party Congress, they answer me with a giggle, an ironic “teeheehee.” Next they shrug their shoulders and come out with a phrase such as, “Well, no one should have any illusions… and maybe they’ll authorize the purchase of houses and cars.” They end their words with another enigmatic grimace of pleasure, confusing me still more. It’s difficult to know if the majority of my compatriots today would prefer that transformations be approved at the Party Congress, or for it to be a fiasco to demonstrate the system’s inability to reform itself.

Although expectations have faded considerably in recent months, some part remains, especially among the most materially destitute and the most ideologically fervent. The image of a pragmatic Raul Castro has been replaced by that of a hesitant ruler, trapped by a situation beyond his control. The Congress some assumed would lead to reforms, has come too late and forfeited, with this waiting, many of the hopes it once unleashed. Behind the enigmatic smiles of the taxi drivers, pizza sellers, students, and even Party militants, is now concealed the insolence of those who know how little things change, and who use silent mockery to vaccinate themselves — in advance — against the frustration.

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89 thoughts on “Laughter and the Congress

  1. Congratulations, Yoanis Iam very impressed with your job, that is the only way to got information from cuba. The world need to know the true.

    Thanks and god bless you.

  2. @ Carmine Di Zazzo @16
    I think you have a very interesting point about Yoani Sánchez. Why does she come back to Cuba…? Perhaps some of you on this site know or perhaps the very Yoani could help us understand what seems to be contrariness.

    On the other hand, is true what you say about whining and complain. I also believe this is part of human nature, but don’t forget that complaining, when it is used as an incentive it could become into a very powerful igniter for success and constant improvement.

    Now, many Cubans as Yoani, have found ways to excel within and outside the island, there’s no doubt about it; the question here is…

    Does life is better inside or outside the island…?

    I guess we should start by define the meaning of “living better” means to Cubans, to you, to Yoani, to pre-revolution and Cuban exiles, to the thousands of rafters, only then we will be able to see things from a different point of view.

  3. @turialifu, please answer my question, have you considered joining a commune? We have communes in America, so in Italy with so many communists, there must be plenty of communes to join? That’s a way to reorganize your life on a practical level and lead the world to communism by example.

  4. @turialifiu, there is nothing in what I said or in what Albert ever said to suggest we want “freedomless” outside of Cuba. I’m sure I can also speak for Albert, Humberto, Chicago, Mandy, and every other anti-Castrist here when I say we are against fascism everywhere, whether under the name of capitalism or socialism.

    And to second what Mandy has said, I don’t care for McDonald’s either. But I’m glad I get to choose between white rice and brown rice, unlike some Cuban friends who suffer from malnutrition. In the 90s, they almost starved to death, but fortunately the Church and then some Americans, those two evil empires, kept them alive without asking for anything in return. This was described by Castro as something like “shaking hands with the devil”

    How can Fidel demand loyalty when his socialism can’t even feed his people? Has Fidel ever known hunger? (the answer is no, in prison and the mountains he was very well fed). What equality is there in Cuba where only people who pretend to be communists can enter university or get work?

  5. @ Albert & Love Cuba: I guess that that kind of choise (McDonald, etc.)has a high price. I don’t believe in fredoom choise for a few people, that’s all. Look Albert, I can’t accept your individual solution (that is just cynism to me, but I don’t want offend you), even if I don’t believe in heaven. So, I don’t believe communism is heaven, but another (neither properly the best nor the easiest)way to arrange our life in this world. But I think it’s better than capitalism. I don’t think your poverty experiences have been caused by communism… It’s not an idealism issue, I’m talking about pragmatig things (even if I have my own values). During this conversation we have not mentioned nothing about capitalistic system of production. I’m really persuaded that democracy – as you are still drawing it – it’s just a palliative for happy few. There are some thruths I can’t forget. Latin America’s poverty it was not a twist of fate… The end of a real democratic way to reach a socialistic organisation of collective life in Chile has been caused by a democratic Country…
    Their freedom and democracy had more worth than the others one… But I have to finish too, because I know I can’t change your point of view too.
    I wish just underline one thing. You are saying you don’t accept “freedomless” in Cuba, but, of-fact, you accept freedomless in the rest of the world, I guess.
    Wish you the best

  6. @turialifiu (I got your moniker correct, this time – sorry for the misspell last time) —

    I hear your pain. I really do. Global Wealth, as Love Cuba has said, may have overshadowed the most important things in life — like family and relationships. Taking time to savor…small things. Please trust that even without a McDonald’s (I am what you call a “slow foodie” – I do not like mass franchises, but I am glad I can *choose* to reject them), Cuba is not better off for that reason.

    I wish you peace.

  7. @#77
    I am a 65 yeras old man, who like you at your age believed in dreams of equality, in the erradication of hunger & poverty & over all knew everything. I had my turn at eating dirt mixed w/ a little maiz & rolled into little balls that my Mother fried in diluted motor oil in water to make them palatable, I had my turn at not wearing shoes & wearing hand-me downs & a dead father by my age of 12, I was told he was a traitor & a counter-rebolutionary. It was my Mother the one that tought me about independence of thought & not to become a “victim” of a pied pipper selling dreams. Look young friend we can compare “scars” till the end of times & not convice each other of anything & to be honest I am not interested in “convincing you anything” I am trying to tell you to search for the truth before you think of changing your perception of the status quo & wind up been used by some “messiah” who’ll come along promising you the solution to your problems … again, don’t allow passion & frustration blind you … in order to survive you must adapt & look at the possibilities, keep in mind you are not the only one in your situation, there is always someone in a worst situation than you & either way it does not mean things won’t change … ciao turialifu

  8. @Love Cuba, you are very kind and you do weel to remind me what is poverty. I know my condition is better than that another one, an African or an Indian for example. But I know also two more things: 1)our welfare state it was a western privilege coming from exploitation of 3rd World countries’ natural wealth (Oil above all); 2)welfare state, anyway, is not a gift from sky. There is a contradiction that is necessary to eliminate. But Capitalism lives on this contradiction and doesn’t want eliminate poverty, unemployment, inequalities, war (after 1989 how many war, how many other there will be yet?).
    Anyway I’m not poor, but surely I’m not rich and, frankly, I don’t care to ger rich. I want just a decent life: job, house (not belongin to me, just a site where i can live), sanity, education, sane relationship.
    The difference between comunity and Communism is that latter would give to everyone what is for happy few, whereas a comunuty is just for happy few. I’m not looking for my little heaven!

  9. Just to add turialifu, your English is very good. And I agree that alienation and loneliness is a big problem in the West, something partly due I think, to our wealth.

    Perhaps you would feel better in a commune, do you have those in Italy like we do in America? All sorts of communes in America, here’s one run by Communists:

  10. @turialifu, if I might be permitted to answer also. For the record, I believe many of our politicians are often greedy hypocrites, and we are far from the true democracy we all want. But everything is relative, so let’s look at the big picture:

    You feel poor because your expectations aren’t being met, not because you are poor. It is hard for a young person in the West to understand poverty since it is so far removed from their experience. When I was young, far fewer people had cars, not even 25 year old cars, nobody had the internet; does that mean we were all poor and couldn’t have families? Going back further, not even the rich had those things, but they still had children, and so did the hungry poor.

    Here’s some facts, I know Americans who were homeless during the great depression and others who lived in shantytowns, some were Communists. (1) They had children. (2) They were richer than some of the people I have seen in Cuba, and of course, freer. (3) Today in 2011, some of my Cuban friends dream of the life of a homeless American, it is so good compared to what they live. The homeless in America are much better fed and sheltered, and have a much better free health and education system at their disposal. I am talking from first-hand experience.

    Why the difference between yesterday and today, between us and Cuba? Perhaps it’s because of that useless thing you call our freedom to criticize? And that useless thing you call our freedom to vote? When we’re young we want everything today, and it’s hard to see how much things have changed over the years because of our democracy, as imperfect as it is.

    Here’s an experiment: turn off your running water. From now on go out on the street and beg for water each time you are thirsty. Don’t use a toilet. Throw out all your sheets and blankets and sleep on the floor. Throw out all your clothes except one pair of pants and one shirt. Only bathe once a week. Do not eat for the next 3 weeks, not even a slice of bread. After that, you may decide you’re rich and ready to start a family.

  11. Mendy, I wish you all democracy you want. So you will be able to feel a normal, anonymous, unheard citiezen in this beatiful world. Dont’t worry, McDonald is coming to bring you it.

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  13. Albert, tell me, who are you? Where are you from? Where do you live? (I don’t want your address of course). I’m 36, I live in Sicilia (Mafia…) I’m a teacher but I can’t work, because cuts to balance impose, strangely enough, to reduce (until to erase) the Welfare State, but not salary of our democratic representatives, for example. So, hundreds of thousands of people are now unemployed. I have not an Ipod, my car 25 old, I have not internet at home (too expensive to me), and so on. But my problems is not material stuff like this. My problem is: when I will be able to have a family? When I will be old, will there be a pension for me? The answer is no. And with my very wonderful constitution I can’t do nothing. Look Albert, it’s the second time you tell me “go to study, before talkin”. I find it a little arrogant, because you don’t know evidently nothing about poor people in Western democratic and capitalistic countries. But I didn’t tell you, go study before talking. If you don’t want believe me, you are ultra free to do it. But if you want to know what is a real “democracy”, try to listen my awful english who’s trying to tell you something that you, maybe, did not consider before, try to listent you too.
    Yes, my Italian constitution is beatiful, but useless. Look at my country once in a while.

    “freedom of speech has its responsibilities”: Yes I know, and you?

  14. @#72
    Ok, you got me confused, since you are Italian & know what you are talking about … please tell me what is democracy since having elections in 5 years is not, what’s w/”the stupid usless freedom that everyone wants w/which you can’t change nothing …” friend, do you read what you write?
    You see, here is the perfect time to understand laughter, cuban laughter, the one that is used as a “vaccine against frustration”.
    Perhaps if people would listen to what each other is saying rather than being thinking of an answer while the other still speaking. I belive you are frustrated & can respect that, I believe there is hurt in your heart as well, I see that you want changes, perhaps to your situation as such I hope you realize you have choices to make, choices which you have the personal freedom to make.
    In Cuba, a choice to be a doctor may not result in practicing medicine, to chose to be a lawyer in Cuba may result in being a taxi driver, can you see where I’m going?
    You live in a country w/a great constitution w/checks & balances of power w/ clearly defined limits between the branches of power, you don’t live under a constitution where the imposibility of oposition has been written in the constitution, do you understand what that means? Friend, I could go on but I chose to urge you to do some research (as before), don’t let your youth or hot temper blurr your mind, learn & listen before you speak, freedom of speech has its responsibilities …

  15. Thanks Mandy, you hit the nail on the head. Another wonderful thing about a freer democratic society is that it allows communists and socialists to live out their dreams. For instance, the following on Communists living the American Dream:

    Americans have been living such lives for over two centuries, but for some reason few such communities follow the Marxist faith, but tend to other religions. Perhaps my Marxist friends are too attached to their IPods and the easy capitalist life, although they always complain how evil and corrupting it is.

  16. @turialifiu:

    My point was you drew parallels between Italy and Cuba, and I can easily draw parallels between Nazi Germany and Cuba. If everything is the same then everything is the same.

    About blogs, people have become millionaires in the West through their anti-capitalist and anti-American blogs, I’m sure if you try you can find several thousand of them before the day is out. And few if any have suffered the consequences Yoani has.

    Yoani is not the only one to get human rights prizes or high praise from the nations of Western capitalism. You’re probably a fan of Nelson Mandela, himself a great fan of Castro, who received the US Congressional Gold Medal, Nobel Peace Prize, and much more. Do you hate him because the US government gave him a medal and he was rewarded financially? Perhaps Yoani needs to plant some bombs before she receives the Nobel Prize, I’m not sure.

    I have heard your line about Stalin’s Russia, then Mao’s China, then Pol Pot. They were all big heroes in the West at one time. Very popular among rich Marxists who assured us that there was “real” freedom under Pol Pot.

  17. @turialfiu —

    “Capitalism, believe me, is not democracy.” You are right. Capitalism does not equal a democracy. That is because capitalism is an economic system, and democracy is a form of government. They are two different things. So, no need to argue that point there.

    While the United States, Mexico and India are on one end of the capitalist spectrum, other countries like Denmark, Canada and Australia are on the other. What defines the latter countries is obviously more socialism to “even” out the things that tend to make a capitalist market very lopsided. In Israel, kibbutzim are communal, and you do not get to own anything on the kibbutz, but they require your vote, your feedback, completely. You do not vote, the kibbutz cannot function. So you see, capitalism and democracy are not mutually inclusive. And then there is China. Communist but capitalist.

    What folks on this board (I believe, I do not speak for them) support is the ability to say something critical about your government without retaliation. In this case, Cuba. Being critical of your government does not make you an anti-patriot. Quite the contrary. The most quotable politicians encourage speaking up to your government. Like this quote: “When the people fear the government it is called tyranny but when the government fears the people it is called liberty” – Thomas Jefferson.

    Finally, because there is no freedom of press in Cuba, some have to resort to blogging, like Yoani. So in answer to your proposal ” I will suggest to everyone is complaining about it to do the same – to open a Blog translated in more than 10 languages, to receive international prizes, to meet Obama, to write books immediately translated all over the world” Your proposal is actually not equivalent to Yoani’s situation. Most places all over the world have press so that people can complain, and DO have press that receive international prizes. Yoani, therefore, is leveling the playing field on behalf of Cuba.

    Go Yoani. :)

  18. @Love Cuba:I don’t think Cuba is as bad as Nazi Germany at all. I think Cuba is, in some respects, better than Italy, but I understand you don’t agree. If you was a normal citizen in our Country you would think differently about the supposed freedom of expression. 30 newspaper doesn’t make a democracy, and information is often false (do you remember the Iraq war?). I don’t know if you, and the others here, live in Cuba. Maybe you live in USA. I don’t believe that 50 % of voters in a Democracy is the real meaning of democracy. I don’t think that to choose your representatives every 5 years is democracy. If you read something about Italy, you can get an idea of democracy.

    . Ok, I understand that Yoani is a normal citizen who’s complaining about own Goverment. I will try – and I will suggest to everyone is complaining about it to do the same – to open a Blog translated in more than 10 languages, to receive international prizes, to meet Obama, to write books immediately translated all over the world. If Yoani can do it – despite she lives in Cuba – then I can do too… Come on!

    As Br: someone was imprisoned for years just for crime of opinion… Oh, you can criticize your Government … and then? Nobody listens to you. Ok, that’s better than to go to prison, but what happens if you stop to complain and go into action?
    Striking workers are often assaulted by police forces. Young activists are often imprisoned. But don’t talk about politic, let’s talk about immigrants. Do you know what happens to immigrants nowadays in Italy, France and so on…? With ONU declarations Italy cleans its ass… Is this your democracy?

    As computer/internet access: how can you explain that political Facebook accounts have been erased? Are we maybe in Cuba or in China?

    Yes, in Italy there is freedom, that stupid, useless freedom that everyone wants with which you can’t change nothing of important for your life.
    If you tell me: you have never been in communist country and you can’t talk about it, I can reply: I agree. But I can also reply you don’t know what is our democratic countries, unlees you come from a wealthy family…
    Our “democracy” is what our fathers and mothers conquered with their struggles (class struggles) and often with weapons. Nobody gives you nothing. But every achievements must be defended with struggle, even the human right. Democracy is not a guarantee for your rights and for your life. Democracy is just a privilege for few.
    @ albert (qui ose gagnes): To post a comment proves nothing to me. I wait for your suggestions about Mumia, Sacco e Vanzetti and the 5’s.
    see you

  19. And just to add a bit of advice, go spend some time in Cuba and compare the life of those living the life of Castro’s socialism with those who live off of their Capitalist families overseas, the Capitalist tourist industry, or the Capitalist black market. See how easy it is to move above your class in Cuba. Don’t believe me, go find out yourself.

  20. albert says: “Read from both sides of the bias & reach your own conclusions calmly & rationally.”

    Excellent advice to people of any ideology or religion or point of view. I nominate Albert for the Nobel Peace Prize.

  21. @#66
    I trust you … you are Italian & know what you are talking about … :-)
    I can appreciate your frustrations while I don’t agree w/your perception of freedom & the exercise of your rights in your democracy; the mere fact that you have access to a computer & are able to post a comment proves something.
    I would suggest better research on the subjects you picked: Mumia, Sacco & Vanzetti even the 5’s.
    Read from both sides of the bias & reach your own conclusions calmly & rationally.
    The best to you …

  22. @turialifiu, I forgot to mention that there are other papers besides Corriere della Sera in Italy, in case you didn’t notice or appreciate it.

  23. @turialifiu: according to your logic, Castro’s Cuba is as bad as Nazi Germany.

    So what’s your point? It makes you feel good to whine about Italy’s government, so Yoani should feel good about complaining about Cuba’s government.

    She is constantly followed and harassed by the police and government thugs and frequently arrested. And I suppose the same thing happens to you in Italy because you just criticized the government?

    Please note that she never kidnapped, knee-capped or murdered anyone, like your Red Brigade buddies did, and contrary to your claims, many of the Red Brigades now walk around Italy in perfect freedom, teach courses in universities, and get their articles and letters-to-the-editor published in Italian newspapers. But I’ll take your word for it, there’s no freedom in Italy.

  24. Democracy doesn’t exist. It’s a bedtime story. All that you want is Capitalism and nothingelse. All problems and troubles (repression, lie) you’re talking about here exist in every Country, USA above all (I’m Italian and I know what I’m talking about).
    I would remind the peace Nobel prize Kissinger and his idea of democracy in Chile; the US support to Mafia in Italy; the japanese lies about nuclear disaster; the US War for Oil; @ Eric Laimins I would like remind you all politician prisoners in USA (Mumia Abu Jamal: do you know this name?) and the Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. I missed the “Five”, in Yoani’s opinion they are terrorist…
    Capitalism, believe me, is not democracy. Capitalism, at the and of the day, does not need democracy. At the most, it needs a parliament…
    However, I don’t want deny that you can’t send to Granma an email indicating you love capitalism. But, try to image if I sent a letter to “Corriere della Sera”, our most important newspaper, saying “I love Communism” and signed by BR (Brigate Rosse, a military organization for communism in late 70’s)…
    I would like ask you: what is the value of freedom if then later you can’t excercize it? I can’t change my life situation, I can’t work, I can’t study, If I have no money I can’t travel. To not mention omosexual issue… Please do notice I live in a “democratic” Country.
    I don’t believe Cuba is Heaven, not at all. But capitalistic Countries are not Heaven too.

    best regards and forgive me for my bad english

  25. @#58
    Is funny, your use of your right for freedom in this blog, would you do it in Cuba without fears of intimidation or retaliation for your dissenting points of view?
    While & respect your statements I think you are just an attempt to distraction.

  26. @turialifiu

    Abril 19th, 2011 at 02:01
    >I love Communism, then I love Cuba<

    Good for you. I love Cuba too.

    Try writing a letter to Granma indicating you love capitalism and Cuba.

    …and then wait for the inevitable knock on the door from the SDE.

    Not here where I live. No worries like that.

    Libertad o muerte

  27. Well well the castros figured a way to survive & pass into history as the fathers of their rebolution in their own mind.
    After raping Cuba, oppressing her children & playing w/their destiny now one retires, the other will quit in five or six years & let the young wolfs of the rebolution take over.
    The wolfs were are a threat to the castros they can no longer be controlled by their masters & unlike cesar rather than being replaced by loosing their life, they give way, not for a better Cuba but for their own survival … cochinos to the end!

  28. El DORADO, you are a descarado y vocero de Fidel. Its nice to see you can enjoy your rights to express yourself on this open forum, unlike my family in Cuba.

  29. GUARDIAN U.K. : Young Cubans unsure where to turn for decent jobs-Cuba’s public sector layoffs could affect 1 million, and young people are most vulnerable

    In the throes of Cuba’s economic “reorganisation”, young people are walking a tightrope towards an uncertain employment future. They are finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs that meet both their professional aspirations and their salary expectations.

    The government of President Raúl Castro launched economic reforms last year that include massive lay-offs of public employees, potentially affecting 1 million people by the end of 2011. “Young people are among the most vulnerable when it comes to getting a new job,” Yonnier Angulo, 25, a university professor, told IPS.

    Expanded opportunities for self-employment are among the options proposed by the government in response to the high demand for jobs. Large numbers of workers are needed in agriculture and construction, but the majority of jobseekers find these sectors unattractive.

    According to the National Statistics Office, the unemployment rate in Cuba in 2009 was only 2% for women and 1.5% for men, but this will be radically changed by the decline in public sector employment.

    “The impact of the labour adjustment measures on youth must be monitored,” sociologist María Isabel Domínguez told IPS. Those who are clearly competent at their jobs will be kept on, but young people’s competence is often hard to assess. On the one hand, they tend to be better qualified, but on the other they lack work experience, she said.

    Fanny Morales, 27, a factory worker, has unhappy memories of a period of job insecurity lasting, in her case, two-and-a-half months. She was on the brink of unemployment when staff reduction measures reached her workplace, a paper factory in Mayabeque province, adjacent to Havana. Now she has been reassigned to another of her company’s factories, and is greatly relieved.

    “I’m glad to have a job,” Morales told IPS. She is paid the minimum wage, 225 pesos (£9) a month. She hopes that when she completes her degree as an agronomist, her job prospects will improve.

    Students who “are finishing university courses are extremely anxious about their employment future”, said Angulo. Recent graduates are not included in the new restrictions on hiring in the public sector, so that they can gain on-the-job learning experience. To do otherwise would mean sacrificing the immediate future, President Castro said last year.

    The challenge to young people in Cuba is mirrored in many parts of the world. Last year, about 6.7% of the 104 million young people of working age in Latin America and the Caribbean were unemployed, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

    For some time, young people in Cuba have created their own employment niches outside the sphere of the state. Two years after finishing a degree in history at the University of Havana, Yaimelis Acosta did not have a clue about what she would do next. “I always thought I would be an academic researcher,” she said.

    “My expectations for the future were focused on what the university could provide,” she told IPS. What she was offered at the time did not give her an opportunity to delve into her passion: research on gender relations. Now, at the age of 24, she has become a “freelance producer”.

    Independent film and video companies headed by newly minted professionals have sprung up, like Producciones de la 5ta Avenida, created in 2004, which is registered in Bolivia and operates in Cuba. But the government’s more open vision of private employment does not yet extend to this kind of enterprise.

    Official self-employment opportunities are limited to small businesses like cooking and selling food, and do not cater to the full range of interests. “Young people have many expectations that have yet to be fulfilled,” Acosta said.

    However, work has been low down on the list of life priorities for Cuba’s young generations since the 1980s, according to Domínguez, who is head of the Centre for Psychological and Sociological Research (Cips). “It is extraordinary how immutable employment aspirations are,” she said.

    They have remained constant in times of bonanza like the 1980s, times of economic crisis like the 1990s, and at present, when the work ethic is making something of a comeback. “The present context is bound to shake up society’s previous ideas about acceptable employment,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Natividad Guerrero, head of the Centre for Youth Studies (CESJ), pointed out that young people “have a very selective attitude towards employment”. She said many young people who are laid off by the state prefer to look for a new job in emerging areas of the economy, like foreign companies.

    “Some of them receive remittances [from abroad], which cover their monetary needs,” she told IPS. But others, even though they have no steady income, “are choosy and want neither to work nor to study”. They are not interested in the majority of available jobs, which nowadays are mostly in unpopular areas like construction, agriculture, or maintenance and public works, Guerrero said.

    A young high school graduate who requested anonymity said he had worked at a dozen different trades, including as a security guard, pharmacy technician and printing shop worker, “getting by” for three years in a series of casual jobs.

    Now he sees a chance of making more money on the black market, selling clothes, computer parts or any product he can lay his hands on, appropriated from state institutions or brought in from abroad. “I have looked at other options, but I don’t want to start working at just any old job,” he said.

    However, this 27-year-old hasn’t closed his mind to the possibility of taking a steady job, although at employment offices he has only found offers of construction work. “It’s very hard work and it’s poorly paid,” he said. Recently, he applied to work as a dock hand at the port in Havana. “They say it’s very well paid,” he said.

  30. ElDorade, what do your posts have to do with Yoani’s blog anyways? Her blog is about Cuba and she is very much against violence, especially the violence the Cuban government uses against the Cuban people.

  31. Interesting ElDorado, so you think Germany after WWII was just as undemocratic and violent as under Hitler.

    I’m against violence too, so I choose the less violent option, in that case, the USA. According to what you’re saying, you would never defend yourself or your family against violence.

  32. ElDorado, Japan and all the nations of Western Europe after WWII are a few examples of the successful spreading of democracy by US military intervention

    US military spreading democracy in Europe ???? Come on…
    I’m not at all thinking that any military intervention has braught anybody anywhere any good. I’m against violance

    At that time USA was country of racial seggregation – you don’t remember that?

  33. ElDorado, Japan and all the nations of Western Europe after WWII are a few examples of the successful spreading of democracy by US military intervention

    US military spreading democracy in Europe ???? Come on…
    I’m not at all thinking that any military intervention has braught anybody anywhere any good. I’m against violance.

  34. ElDorado, Japan and all the nations of Western Europe after WWII are a few examples of the successful spreading of democracy by US military intervention.

    Now can you provide us with the successful spreading of democracy by Soviet or Chinese interventions. Perhaps you think Cuba or Tibet are democracies?

  35. Ok, can someone here write one example of succesful spreading of democracy and military interventions of great American nation?????

  36. N.Y. TIMES: In a Changing Cuba, Many Remain Skeptical -By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD-April 18, 2011

    HAVANA — For months, Cubans have been treated to an uncharacteristically blunt assessment of their future by none other than their president, Raúl Castro.

    They do not work hard enough and live too much off the state dole, he has said. The economy has been based on an unworkable math in which two plus two “equals six or eight,” as he put it in a speech on Saturday. And the leadership has failed to groom a young generation to take over, leaving the upper echelon of the party dominated by standard-bearers of the revolution who are as old as 87.

    No longer, he has promised, pushing forward a battery of changes, vastly expanding small businesses and, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, allowing Cubans to buy and sell private homes, something now done only through a bustling underground market.

    But if winds of change — and it remains to be seen if they will end up being breezes or gusts — are emanating from the convention hall where the Communist Party held its sixth congress over the last three days, Cubans seem ambivalent, even skeptical, that the end result will upend the island.

    “We have a way of making changes but keeping everything the same,” said Johan Rodríguez, 22, who supplements his meager state accountant salary by selling trinkets on the street. “The basic problem is we have no money. I am hoping what they are discussing will change that.”

    Mr. Castro has steadfastly avoided using anything like the word capitalism in discussing the new economic platform, lest the United States get the impression a long-lost cousin was coming into the fold. Indeed, he has tended to avoid describing the changes as, well, changes, preferring to cast them as “modernizing” the Socialist model here.

    Still, he has proved adept at diagnosing the precarious condition of the economy, warning that Cuba can no longer afford state workers who do little for their checks and even suggesting eventually doing away with the ration books that provide food and other necessities at heavily subsidized prices.

    “How will we afford food?” said another young Cuban, a 36-year-old engineer who did not want his name used for fear his remarks would sound too critical to the government. “They will have to lower food prices a lot so people do not starve. This all seems so much so fast.”

    Still, Mr. Castro has not been the radical reformer his speeches suggest he might be. He recently stepped back from announced plans to lay off 500,000 state workers, postponing the cuts indefinitely. Last year, he had cast the state’s “inflated work force” as an unsustainable expense, “tantamount to eating up our future and jeopardizing the very survival of the Revolution.”

    But instead of the rapid economic overhaul previously laid out by the Communist leadership, Mr. Castro said much of the changes anticipated would come over the next five years.

    And although he suggested top leaders like himself serve no more than two consecutive five-year terms, he also complained that the younger generation was ill prepared to take on top jobs.

    How, analysts wondered, should that be interpreted as he officially ascends to the top spot in the party — Fidel Castro, 84, disclosed last month that he was no longer the party chief — and selects a new No. 2 at the party, the person who could succeed him as the nation’s president?

    Rafael Hernández, a political scientist who edits the magazine Temas here, says there are legions of young party members in the bottom ranks who often hit a wall as they ascend.

    “It is about a difficult political change between the generation that has been there for 50 years and the young generation,” he said. “It’s a difficult process and one that they have wanted to be done deliberately gradually so it would not be so traumatic.

    “But,” he added, “I think it is not just about more young people. It’s about young people who think differently. We can have young people who think like the old ones or we can have young people who are young and think differently.”

    Reading the tobacco leaves, as some call the Kremlinology here, can prove foolhardy since presumed rising stars streak and fizzle out. It is mostly a matter of matching relatively youthful ages with party rank and the frequency of television appearances, particularly near the Castros.

    Much of the attention is on Marino Murillo, 50, who defended President Castro’s initiatives when he was the economy minister. Now he holds a new post as a kind of czar overseeing changes designed to push more people into private enterprise.

    Other names mentioned by diplomats and other Cuba watchers are Lázaro Expósito, believed to be in his 40s and the head of the Communist Party in Cuba’s second city, Santiago de Cuba, and Lázara López Acea, 47, the party leader of Havana.

    Then again, Mr. Castro could stick to someone from the old guard, like José Ramón Machado, 80, who fought at his side and is in effect the current second-highest ranking functionary.

    “The two-term idea — a good one, anyhow, even if it comes rather late — may be due in part to keep the less predictable seniors from jockeying to succeed Raúl,” said Mauricio A. Font, a CUNY Graduate Center professor. “But the revolutionary regime does need new leaders rather fast. Previous efforts to groom the next generation of leaders failed in large part because younger leaders and others grew to develop perspectives and ideas that differed from those of the seniors, whom they also dismissed as obsolete.”

    Jorge I. Domínguez, a Harvard professor, said the most-discussed prospects suffer from lacking the legend of the Castros. “What’s missing is a politician, someone to explain, justify, motivate and give hope that theirs is still the línea correcta,” he said.

    This may become important as people chafe at some of the finer print of the changes, like the heavy taxes that the newly licensed self-employed and small businesses must contend with.

    “The argument is that this is one means to prevent the concentration of new wealth,” Dr. Domínguez said. “Of course, what they desperately need to do is to create jobs, not discourage them.”

    Taking it all in are Cubans like Sevián Vargas, 32, who considered the doings from his newly opened hamburger stand in the Miramar neighborhood. As a “cuenta propista” — one of the legions of mom-and-pop outfits hawking everything from use of bathrooms to pizza and jewelry — he appreciates the opportunity to have his own business.

    But in the end, he said, he has seen promises of reform die slow deaths and wonders if any of it will lead to more freedoms.

    “I think we all have hope, we have to,” he said. “Many times they have talked but haven’t complied with what they talked about. But Raúl is more direct. So this could really be it.”

  37. ok … Gross acused of sedicion … so by definition, the “5” were sedicios as well right?

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