Reduced Vocabulary

Fuegos artificiales frente a La Habana por el día de los DDHH

Fireworks off Havana for Human Rights Day*

In the long list of the words forbidden in my childhood, there were two in particular that were censored: “Christmas” and “Human Rights.” The first I heard from time to time, in a whisper, from the lips of a grandmother who had known the trees with garlands, the traditional nougat candy and turkey. But the other, the second, was muttered disparagingly to allude to someone who — it was said — was involved in counterrevolutionary acts, enemies. And so I grew up, oblivious to the festivities of the last week of the year, and believing that evil lurked in that statement adopted by the United Nations. My compartmentalized vocabulary ended up conditioning me to a civic attitude full of fears and led me to fall into line with so many prohibitions.

This December the stores display twinkling lights and trees loaded with ornaments. A Santa Claus with hardly any belly smiles in the window of an important commercial center in the city. People run into each other and delight in every syllable of expressions such as “Merry Christmas”; “I’m shopping for Christmas”; “drop by to celebrate Christmas.” The reduced vocabulary of my childhood has given back a word, a term cursed for decades. But my next door neighbor still says, “Careful, don’t get too close, they’re ‘human rights people’.” At some repudiation rally — across the country — someone might now scream, “Down with human rights!” and the political police stationed on the corner confirm on their radios, “Yes, here comes a little group of ‘Human Righters’.” And there’s always a friend who asks us to whisper, “because if you’re going to mention such ‘things’ it’s better to turn the music up.”

A fake snow falls on the red Christmas hats, but a huge downpour dissolves it; the rain of intolerance, the big fat drops of the arrests, the gales created on this Island when someone dares to barely pronounce the phrase “human rights.”

Translator’s note: These photos from Havana are of the greeting in fireworks for Human Rights Day from a flotilla of Cuba exiles, who remained in international waters as they showed their support for Cubans on the island working for freedom and democracy.

60 thoughts on “Reduced Vocabulary

  1. @Help

    Where I’m from, the United States, we hold meetings, political and otherwise, all the time. “Permission” from the police to hold a meeting? Haha. The local police would laugh us right out of their station house for such a dumb request.

    But Damir, the absolute grand poo-bah of all things American, really thinks he’s on to something with this one!!! LOL

  2. Damir, what planet do you live on? You will not learn about the world through crackpot conspiracy web sites. Try travelling a bit and talking to people for a change. Come to America and I’ll take you to all our meetings and protests that we hold without government permission and where police leave us alone.

    But maybe you prefer throwing rocks through windows and repudiation rallies. Oh well, can’t help you there as I’m not a fascist.

  3. The link I posted lists out the LEGAL REQUIREMENTS in the usa and it CLEARLY states that before ANY meetings and/or protests are organised, the organisers MUST contact local POLICE and:

    1. register the gathering

    2. seek permissions from police to hold the gathering

    That the site was an animal rights site has no meaning in this obviously futile discussion with a moron who doesn’t understand these SIMPLE FACTS:

    ANYONE trying to organise ANY sort of public gathering MUST register and obtain permission from LOCAL POLICE.

    But, even such a SIMPLE thing is an insurmountable challenge for a cretin with zero brain cell count…

    That is why the individual is on the wrong side. The team “yoani” side.

  4. John P. Humphrey prepared the first draft for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947. In the Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 4, “Memoirs of John P. Humphrey, the First Director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights”, he stated: “I was no Thomas Jefferson and, although a lawyer, I had had practically no experience drafting documents. But since the Secretariat had collected a score of drafts, I had some models on which to work. One of them had been prepared by Gustavo Gutierrez (Sanchez) and had probably inspired the draft Declaration of the International Duties and Rights of the Individual which Cuba had sponsored at the San Francisco Conference.” He was right, those were the documents written in Gutierrez book. Gutierrez draft for the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was chosen as one of the drafts presented by the Secretariat.

    Dr. Gutierrez draft exercised a great influence in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Below you will find a preamble of three proposed drafts. The draft by Dr. Gustavo Gutierrez is the one in the middle.

  5. Here’s what I really said Damir dumb-dumb:

    “I don’t care what law you think you found, we can organize political and other meetings around here WITHOUT GETTING PERMISSION FROM THE POLICE. You are ignorant about the country you so despise. The reality here is far different from what you think you know (or can find on Google).”

    And then you posted a link to an animal rights group having to get a permit for a protest. That doesn’t make sense.


  6. Pressed to the wall, the only response, despite the new “name”, same old insults. The great proof that the team “yoani” have never invited the government to a dialogue.

    Just as Damir said.

    Not that the government would even hear the call either.

    But that’s besides the point here: the team “yoani” belong to the group interested in a violent change of government in Cuba, and we all know what good that has ever done to anyone.

    Just ask anyone from the ex-“socialist” countries how are the things in “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” and “total freedom” 20+ years since the “freedom” came.

    Slovenia, an ex-Jugoslav republic which was a prosperous and rich state in Jugoslavia and was a poster-kid for capitalist criminals to claim “imagine how much MORE could you do and be if you were capitalists” is now facing the bankrupt, stagnant economy on a verge of collapse and death, while corruption unknown in prosperous socialist years rages throughout the small alpine country that never made it to become the capitalist paradise they were told they will be.

    All they needed to do was to get rid of the “shackles” of communism (that never existed in the first place”, and their blossoming economy will explode under capitalism, and make them richer than Austrians and Swiss, they were told by their cia handlers…

    Well, exploded it did…

    They have the joke nowadays in Slovenia:

    Janez (a typical Slovenian male name) writes to his Serbian friend about the advantages of “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”: “everything is finally great! We can now stay in lines to enter the supermarket, for our rations of imported food freely and no one will think we are trying to create a civil unrest and send the police against us.

    The police is already here to protect us from ourselves.

    Everything is now wonderful and beautiful.

    Serves us right…”

    Oh, and the genius is still trying to find more insults to hide the fact that he is the one who has no thinking skills at all, after being told of his own intellectual defficiencies by a foreigner (that’ll be me) who knows MORE about geniuses’ own laws and country than the genius himself.

    Hurts, doesn’t it?

    Did the genius read the facts and realise how stupid he is?

    Yes to the first and NO to the second.

    What else to expect from delusional pioneers fighting for an ideology brainwashed into their empty skulls from the day they were born?

  7. Sounds like someone doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to separate the people of a country from the acts of their government, painting every citizen of the USA with the broad brush of “criminals, warmongering murderers, and thieves.”

    Of course, there are no humans rights abuses in Africa, or North Korea, or, let’s say, Cuba, that socialist paradise.

    Damir, really, your examples are absurd. You get charged with truancy if you walk out of school? So what? That is a “human rights abuse” to you?

    Dumb and dumber.

  8. To the genius who dares to call me a coward and claim delusions, such as “we can organize political and other meetings around here WITHOUT GETTING PERMISSION FROM THE POLICE. You are ignorant about the country you so despise…”


    Under the “Preparing your protest”:

    “Protest Permit: Contact the local police and find out about protest permit requirements as far in advance as possible.”

    That I don’t know much about the usa is debatable. That an usanian knows absoltuely NOTHING about his usa is indisputable.

    It takes a lot of dead brain and ignorance to come out and state things about one’s own country that are on the opposite side of reality.

    It is then twice as puzzling that such brainwashed zombies dare to comment on a country they have never even seen, let alone scroogled on internet.

    Hypocrites. The real ones. take that cafecito, drink it and ponder over your mental state quietly before making even bigger fool of yourselves.

    Which is inevitable, as the history on this site teaches us.

  9. Here’s more:

    Students in the usa, the bacon (as in fat lardy pig meat – synonimus for capitalists) of “freedom” and “human rights” making more patriotic acts that curb those “freedoms” and “human rights” to the level that makes Cuba look like a paradise on earth!

    I particularly like this part:

    “Walkouts are apparently illegal in the USA now. You can get charged with truancy if you walk out during school.”

    If you walk out of school in protest, you are a CRIMINAL!!!

    In the country that, according to the losers here, is a shining example of “freedom” of expression and a “democratic paradise”.

    Yeah, right…

    With the patriotic act and legislature like the above, go sing that brainwashing stupidity somewhere else.

    No one believes a single word that comes from the usa.


    Because they are HYPOCRITES.

    And human rights worst violators.

    Criminals, warmongering murderers, thieves.

    Ni a nutshell.


    “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide,No escape from reality
    Open your eyes,Look up to the skies and see,” from “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen!

    NPR: In Cuba, Dial-Up Internet Is A Luxury – by Nick Miroff – December 15, 2011

    Cuba is one of the least-connected countries in the world, a time-warped place where millions of young people have never been online and a dial-up Internet account is the stuff of dreams.
    An undersea fiber-optic cable linking the island to Venezuela was supposed to change that this year. But six months after its completion, frustrated Cubans are still starved for Web access.
    Watching government-run television newscasts in Cuba is often a strange experience, but especially so when the topic is social media. Consider a recent report about Facebook and Twitter: The Castro government wasn’t telling Cubans those sites are something to fear — it was actually the opposite.
    The young reporter sat with a laptop and, without a hint of irony, extolled the virtues of social networking as a source of real-time alternative information. But given the low level of Internet access here, she may as well be describing the surface of the moon.
    There are other strange sights on the island, like Cubans carrying new iPhones and BlackBerrys brought in from Miami or Madrid, which only work in Cuba for talking and texting.
    Desperate For Wi-Fi
    Some Cubans have brand-new laptops bought on the black market or sent from relatives abroad, but no Web access. So they stand outside condo buildings that house foreign businessmen, trying to catch an open Wi-Fi signal.
    Then there are cybercafes that are woefully short on the “cyber” part. At one such cafe in Havana, young Cubans line up to pay $1.50 an hour to send and receive email. A snap poll of a dozen would-be Web users found only two people who said they’d ever been online.
    One was 27-year-old Hamlet Chirino, who saves up each month to pay $6 an hour for Internet use at a tourist hotel. His other option is to go to underground cafes that offer black-market Web access over slow dial-up connections.
    “Life is really good here,” Chirino said, “but low salaries and the lack of Internet access are the two biggest problems. The government has been saying they’re going to change those things for a long time, but we’re still waiting.”
    Raised Expectations
    Cuban authorities raised expectations earlier this year when they announced the completion of a $70 million data cable linking the island to Venezuela, boosting Cuba’s bandwidth by a factor of 3,000.
    But Web access remains as slow and scarce as ever, with no evidence of any urgency to get the cable working. Rumors swirl about technical problems or bad business deals, with others speculating that Cuban authorities have been spooked by the Arab Spring and the central role that social media has played in it.
    There’s been no official explanation, leaving 20-year-old Jessica Cruz saying she thinks she won’t get online until the Castro government is gone.
    “There’s a saying here that flies can’t get into a closed mouth,” says Cruz, reflecting the view of many young Cubans who see a paternalistic government trying to deprive them of outside information.
    Cuba’s lack of Internet access is now a central theme in the 50-year standoff with the United States.
    First the U.S. trade embargo kept the island cut off, Cuba says, and now Washington wants to use the Internet as a tool of subversion.
    A U.S. government subcontractor, Alan Gross, has been in jail here for two years for trying to set up satellite Web access on the island outside of government control. And a small contingent of dissident Cuban Web activists has made Internet freedom one of their central causes. Blogger Orlando Luis Pardo says the government can’t hold back the tide forever.
    “In my opinion, that battle is lost. Not because the opposition or the independent bloggers are especially strong or very widely known by the Cuban people, but because the official information in the official media is very poor, it’s very solemn, very unbelievable,” he said.
    A new Cuban government website called The Social Network could hold a clue to where things may be headed. The site is such a blatant copy of Facebook that it even has the word “Facebook” in its Web address.
    But there is one big difference: The Cuban version only connects to other users on the island — not to the wider world.

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