My Suitcase is Packed

One of the many denials of permission to travel I have received with no explanation...

Like all the airports in the world, ours is impersonal, stressful, glass and aluminum on all sides. Once in a while the door to customs opens and someone comes out with their luggage wrapped in cellophane. The waiting family members scream, tears running down their faces, the newcomer is flushed with emotion. Meanwhile, on the first floor are the departures, the last hugs between people who may never see each other again. There are booths with glaring officials who check the documents. Passport, visa, ticket… permission to leave. I always wonder what happens to those who pass by this window without a “white card,” without this demeaning authorization that we Cubans must have to leave our own country. But there are few testimonials, the denials happen far from the runway where the planes take off.

The rumor that tomorrow, Friday morning, Raul Castro could announce an easing of the restrictions to enter and leave won’t let me sleep. In four years, my passport has filled with visas to arrive in other countries but lacks a single permit to leave this insularity. Eighteen denials of permission to travel is too much; more like a personal vendetta than the exercise of some bureaucratic regulation. I’ve had my suitcase packed for a long time. The clothing it contains is yellowing with time, the gifts for friends have expired or gone out of style, the papers I would read about current events are outdated. But the suitcase keeps looking at me from the corner of the bedroom. “When will we travel?” I imagine its worn-out wheels asking me. And I can only answer that perhaps this Friday in a parliament — without real power — some decree will return to me a right I should have always enjoyed.

In the event that the anticipated “immigration reform” is announced, I will test its limits from the airport, facing that checkpoint so many fear. My suitcase and I are ready. Willing to see if the guard will press the button that opens the door to the departure lounge, or if he calls security to take me away.

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41 thoughts on “My Suitcase is Packed

  1. WOW Damir… I cannot believe u just said that…

    The team “yoani” continue unabated with their hypocrisy. They keep asking others to answer their questions, but when one asks them, a silence follows.

    While u ducked my question for a year straight hahahaha!!!!

  2. If You are going to Switzerland take with You some warm underwear.
    We don’t want You to come back if there is to cold for You.

  3. The team “yoani” continue unabated with their hypocrisy. They keep asking others to answer their questions, but when one asks them, a silence follows.

    Deafening.

    Instead they send their little bull shifting dogs to fight for them and save them from being exposed. Trouble is, their 1 and a half pioneer support brigade are even dumber:

    “In your #25 you question what Michael Moore thinks. Reread #18 and you will find that question was not raised. Only your twisted little pea brain doesn’t understand what is said in plain English.”

    The post 18:

    “If Michael Moore were diagnosed with colon cancer, do you think he’d go to Havana for treatment? I think not.”

    My response in post 25:

    “Post 18, and why not?

    More importantly, how do we know that, or anything that M. Moore thinks?”

    So to then state the above, the bull dog (space inserted intentionally) would MUST be of a twisted brain to make sucha “conclusion”.

    But, I fear it is horrifyingly clear that there is no brain in that little chihuahua.

    None at all.

    That is the “future” rain pool the team “yoani” want to introduce to Cuba.

    Sorry, I meant rain pool with the B…

  4. A cretin raises an issue to create a context to insult, so I am merely returning the favour here.

    The cretin:

    “In your #25 you question what Michael Moore thinks. Reread #18 and you will find that question was not raised. Only your twisted little pea brain doesn’t understand what is said in plain English.”

    The original post 18:

    “If Michael Moore were diagnosed with colon cancer, do you think he’d go to Havana for treatment? I think not.”

    And my comment in post 25:

    “Post 18, and why not?

    More importantly, how do we know that, or anything that M. Moore thinks? ”

    Who’s little brain is twisted now, cretin? Oh, okay. Let me help you brainless chook with that answer.

    Yours.

    That is why you are on the wrong side and are a member of that pioneer brigade supporting the hypocrisy of the team “yoani” and their white “gods”.

    Pathetic. And that’s all you’ve got.

  5. GOOD LONG ARTICLE! WORTH THE READ! TO ALL, HAVE A HAPPY COPY AND PASTE HOLIDAYS! JE JE JE! I MEANT HO HO HO!

    BOSTON GLOBE: Cuba wraps up dramatic year of economic change – By Paul Haven

    Their experiences — like the reforms themselves — cannot be described as an unmitigated success. Of the dozen fledgling business owners, including restaurateurs, a DVD salesman, two cafe owners, a seamstress, a manicurist and a gymnasium operator, three have closed down or begun working for someone else, and one has been harassed by her former state employers. None could be considered successful by non-Cuban standards.
    But despite their struggles, many tell of lives transformed, dreams realized, attitudes changed, and doors opened that had been closed for more than half a century.
    For Hidalgo, personal hardships have added to the challenges of starting a business on a Marxist island that has looked askance at entrepreneurship since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution turned a one-time capitalist playground into a Soviet satellite.
    After suffering through a slow, hot, summer when nobody wanted a pizza, Hidalgo had to close for two months to care for his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Even while the business was shuttered, he and de la Noval had to make tax and social security payments, wiping out the few hundred dollars they had saved.
    The government has declined to release any statistics on tax revenue or payroll savings from the reforms, except for an October report in the Communist Party newspaper Granma that said tax revenue from new businesses had tripled.
    Cuban leaders this month lowered their forecast for economic growth for 2011 to just 2.7 percent — from the 3 percent originally hoped for — an extremely poor showing for a developing country. By contrast, China is forecast to grow by about 9 percent in 2011, Vietnam by between 6 and 6.5 percent and Brazil by 3.8 percent.
    Private business owners have complained about the high taxes they must pay, the lack of raw materials and the fact they are suddenly surrounded by competitors. Because most entrepreneurs don’t have the capital to start innovative businesses, many have opened cafeterias, nail parlors, small roadside kiosks and the like.

    COPY AND PASTE LINK TO BROWSER IF LINK NOT ACTIVE!

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/12/24/cuba_wraps_up_dramatic_year_of_economic_change/

  6. Simba Sez: Dear Damir, why would you care what anyone paid for their education? Is that a standard question where you come from?
    In your #25 you question what Michael Moore thinks. Reread #18 and you will find that question was not raised. Only your twisted little pea brain doesn’t understand what is said in plain English.
    Possibly Yoani returned to Cuba to be a small voice in the wilderness against those oppressors of the people called the government represented by the likes of you and your alter ego the Mad Russian White God.
    A hug you say. Humberto has offered you a hug many times. Is he not appealing to you? Please don’t tell him that. It’ll break his little heart.
    Anyway I hope you have a nice Christmas and Santa brings you some new ideas to spread like good cheer among the natives. I’m sure they all adore you.

  7. @ 26 she IS paying for her education, with HER freedom, she like all other professionals on the island are not granted permission to travel out of their country because the Castro-shits feel that they own them, think about it, they think they own human beings, they think they are god and on top of providing them an eduction “that is supposedly free” I just heard that the first five years they practice their profession a certain percentage of their measly pay goes to the government, how sick is that? If a family member in the US petitions them they have to wait five yrs. before they can migrate while non-professionals don’t. FREE EDUCATION YOU SAY, what free education? Freedom is priceless and its exactly what they pay with, their freedom. On top of that, the so called “free education” is worthless once they leave the country because the “free” education is only good while its benefiting the Castro-shits.

  8. OK, I know that post 18 was a rhetorical question (I had to look that up), but I thought I would make some bullshift about it up anyway.

    I need a hug.

  9. OK, I know you guys have informed me that Yoani returned to Cuba because she missed her family, a very legitimate reason, I just can’t wrap my empty head around that.

    Can I have a hug?

  10. Ok, the team “yoani”, another question for you:

    How much did the pin-up granma pay for her education and university degree?

    And while we are talking arond the coffee table, sipping that famous Cuban coffee, why did she return from “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”, when she would have ahd a much better life and earn more over there?

    And would have had more money to invest in her “freedom-fighting” efforts?

    Because she is a failure and she could not survive in the reality of “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” did you say?

    I am listening and happy to hear answers on my questions?

    Don’t do Mariela Castro on me now. Don’t be such a copycat of your idols.

    I am waiting for an answer.

    Surely a hug is possible?

    Or, are you just a hot air with no balloon to concentrate in?

  11. Post 18, and why not?

    More importantly, how do we know that, or anything that M. Moore thinks?

    Oh, but I am forgetting… We live in “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” where we are free to tell to others what they should think because we are the righteous ones.

    Sorry, won’t forget it ever again.

    I promise…

  12. Says a certified nazist servant.

    So, now what? Tell on him to his mama?

    Yea, good luck with that…

  13. ONCE A LIAR! ALWAYS A CASTROFASCIST LIAR! THIS WAS A NO BRAINER! LIAR! THEY WANT THE CUBAN 5 SPIES BACK AND THEY ARE USING THIS AS A LAST DESPERATE ATTEMPT AT EXTORTION! WONT WORK IN THE INTERNET AGE!

    HUFFINGTON POST: HAVANA — President Raul Castro on Friday put on ice highly-anticipated plans to ease travel restrictions on Cubans, telling lawmakers the nation would not be pressured into moving too fast and citing continued aggression from the United States as the reason for his cautious approach.
    Cuba has been awash in speculation the much-hated regulations, which prevent most Cubans from leaving the island, might be lifted during Friday’s session of the National Assembly. But Castro said the time still wasn’t right, despite a year of free-market reforms that has seen the Communist government legalize a real estate market and greatly increase private business ownership.
    “Some have been pressuring us to take the step … as if we were talking about something insignificant, and not the destiny of the revolution,” Castro said, adding that those calling for an end to the travel restrictions “are forgetting the exceptional circumstances under which Cuba lives, encircled by the hostile policy … of the U.S. government.”
    Castro criticized U.S. President Barack Obama, saying he was the 11th American president since the 1959 revolution led by his brother Fidel, and appeared “not to understand” the sacrifices Cuba had made in its struggle for independence and sovereignty, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as Washington’s 49-year trade and travel embargo.
    “Sometimes, he (Obama) gives the impression he has not even been informed of this reality,” Castro said, repeating his willingness to normalize relations with the U.S. under the right conditions.
    Castro also announced an amnesty for 2,900 prisoners ahead of next year’s visit by Pope Benedict XVI, but a senior official told the Associated Press that jailed American subcontractor Alan Gross would not be among those freed.
    The Cuban president told legislators he still hoped to enact the travel reforms, but did not say when. If hopes were high among islanders that Friday would be the big day, Castro had only himself to blame.
    At parliament’s last session, in August, he announced that the government was committed to ease the travel restrictions. He said the measures were originally adopted because many who left in the years after the revolution were a threat to the nascent government, including people backed by the United States who sought its overthrow.
    Castro said in August that most of those who leave now do so for economic reasons and are not enemies. He said removing travel restrictions would help “increase the nation’s ties to the community of emigrants, whose makeup has changed radically since the early decades of the revolution.”
    Cubans had been clamoring for the elimination of the “tarjeta blanca,” or exit visa, which the government requires of all seeking to travel abroad, even for vacation. Many people are denied, particularly doctors, scientists and military officials whose departure would be considered a threat to the state.
    “The need for permission to leave should never have been invented in the first place,” Victor Salgado, a 73-year-old retiree, told the Associated Press ahead of Castro’s speech. “They should have eliminated this long ago. Why should I have to ask permission if I want to leave my country?”
    Another Havana resident, Yamila Baez, said she was hoping the restrictions would be scrapped as soon as possible.
    “It isn’t normal that one has to ask the government for its okay,” she said. “If you have the money to buy a ticket you should be able to go.”
    Castro’s speech was the highlight of an otherwise humdrum parliament session in which legislators approved a budget for 2012 and heard from senior officials on the state of the economy.
    Economy Minister Adel Yzquierdo told lawmakers the government expected economic growth to come in at 3.4 percent in 2012, a bit better than the 2.7 percent expected to be registered this year. Finance Minister Lina Pedraza added that the government expects both revenue and costs to rise in 2012, with the government running a deficit of about 3.8 percent.
    Cuban officials also used the session to criticize Washington for its trade and travel embargo, and to call on the U.S. to release four Cuban agents still imprisoned there. A fifth left jail earlier this year, but has been blocked from returning to Cuba until he completes parole.
    Cuba is ending the first year of a drive by Castro to reform its state-dominated economy. The government has allowed citizens to get business licenses for nearly 200 approved jobs, and 355,000 have taken them up on the offer. The state has also legalized a real estate market for the first time in nearly half a century, begun extending bank credits to entrepreneurs and those wishing to fix up their homes, and removed restrictions on the sale of used cars.
    A parallel effort to trim half a million workers from state payrolls largely foundered.

    COPY AND PASTE LINK TO BROWSER IF LINK NOT ACTIVE!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/24/cuba-says-travel-restrict_n_1168550.html

  14. THE CASTROFASCIST THOUGHT THEY COULD GET AWAY WITH THEIR USUAL MAFIA TRICKS LIKE HOSTAGE TAKING! THEY DONT REALIZE THEY LIVE IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY TRY TO CONTROL IT! THEY ARE STILL HOLDING ON FOR THE ALAN GROSS FOR THE CUBAN 5 SPIES TRADE! WONT HAPPEN! PEOPLE KNOW THAT GROSS IS INNOCENT AND THAT THIS TRADE WOULD SET PRECEDENCE!

    MIAMI HERALD: Alan Gross not part of Cuban prisoner amnesty- By PAUL HAVEN – Associated Press

    HAVANA — An American government subcontractor jailed in Cuba for crimes against the state is not among nearly 3,000 prisoners granted amnesty by President Raul Castro on Friday, said a senior Foreign Ministry official.”Alan Gross is not on the list,” Josefina Vidal told The Associated Press, dashing the hopes of Gross’ supporters in the United States, who have been pleading with Cuban authorities to release the 62-year-old Maryland native on humanitarian grounds. Vidal heads the Foreign Ministry’s North American affairs division.In a speech to lawmakers, Castro said his country would pardon 2,900 prisoners, including some convicted of political crimes. Castro cited an upcoming visit by Pope Benedict XVI among the reasons for the amnesty, saying the humanitarian act was “a demonstration of the generosity and strength of the revolution.” He said 86 foreign prisoners from 25 countries would be freed, and that diplomats would be notified shortly.The Cuban leader said the list is filled with inmates who, like Gross, are more than 60 years old or are ailing. Others included in the amnesty are many female inmates and young people who don’t have long criminal records.Those convicted of serious crimes like murder, espionage or drug trafficking are not be part of the amnesty.Gross was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in jail for crimes against the state. The case has frozen already icy relations between Washington and Havana.Gross’s family concedes he was on a USAID-funded democracy building program, but insists his goal was simply to help the island’s tiny Jewish community gain better access to the Internet. They say he spoke almost no Spanish and came to Havana repeatedly, hardly the stuff of a master spy.Cuban officials say the USAID programs seek to overthrow the government.Gross’s supporters have appealed to Castro for a humanitarian release. They say Gross – who was obese when he was arrested – has lost more than 100 pounds in jail and is now gaunt and increasingly depressed. Meanwhile, his daughter and elderly mother have both been diagnosed with cancer.American Jewish leaders have also appealed for Gross’s release, saying Hanukkah festivities which began this week were a perfect opportunity.Other high-profile inmates include two El Salvadoran men convicted of taking part in a bombing spree against Havana tourist hotels in the 1990s that killed an Italian tourist. The men were originally sentenced to death, but had their sentences reduced to life in prison earlier this year.Cuba this year freed the last of some 75 political prisoners arrested in a notorious 2003 sweep. While others remain jailed for politically motivated crimes, most of those were involved in acts of violence like hijacking.Rights group Amnesty International no longer includes any Cuban prisoners among its list of “prisoners of conscience” around the world.Benedict is due to arrive in Cuba in March, though exact dates have not been announced. His visit will be the first by a pontiff since Pope John Paul II’s historic tour in 1998.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/23/2559854/cuba-to-grant-amnesty-to-2900.html

  15. Cuba to release 2,900 prisoners as goodwill gesture Cuba says it will release 2,900 prisoners, including some convicted of political crimes, in the next few days.

    The country’s governing body, the Council of State, said the move was a goodwill gesture after receiving “numerous” requests by relatives and religious institutions.

    It said many of those being released were unwell, women or elderly.

    But US national Alan Gross, convicted of crimes against the state, was not be freed, reports say.

    Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Josefina Vidal told the Associated Press that the American – who is serving 15 years in a Cuban jail for taking internet equipment to the Communist-run island – “is not on the list”.

    Havana’s refusal to free him has led to frozen relations with the US.

    Cuba’s ‘strength’

    The Council of State announced about its plans to release the prisoners on Friday.

    It said some people convicted of crimes against “the security of the state” were on the list.

    “All of them have completed an important portion of their sentence and shown good behaviour,” read an official government statement quoted by Prensa Latina.

    President Raul Castro said 86 foreign prisoners from 25 countries would be freed, and that diplomats would be notified shortly, according to the AP.

    Mr Castro also cited an upcoming visit by Pope Benedict XVI among the reasons for the amnesty, saying the humanitarian act showed Cuba’s strength.

    However, the Council of State stressed that those convicted of serious crimes like murder, espionage or drug trafficking would not be part of the amnesty.

  16. Pamela, thank you for your post. I cannot tell you how tired I am of having to refute the bullshit myth propagated by Michael Moore and others about the wonders of the Cuban healthcare system. It is a lie.

  17. FREE CUBANS PAY THEIR LAST RESPECT TO VACLAV HAVEL WITH A WREATH!

    PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR: Hundreds queue to bid Havel farewell – 22 December 2011

    Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) – Hundreds of people are queueing at Prague Castle to pay their last respects to the late former president Vaclav Havel whose coffin has been laid in state in the historical Vladislav Hall.

    The coffin was put on a catafalque in the hall in a military ceremony earlier yesterday. The hall was opened to the public at 13:00. People can bid farewell to Havel yesterday and Thursday, before his funeral scheduled for Friday, December 23.

    Havel, former leading anti-communist dissident and post-1989 Czechoslovak president and later Czech president, died on December 18 at the age of 75, after protracted respiratory problems.

    Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the Vladislav Hall is the most suitable place for a farewell ceremony. It was in the Vladislav Hall that the legislators elected Havel the first post-communist president of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989, Klaus recalled.

    The coffin was brought to the hall by soldiers walking along a red carpet to the accompaniment of the ringing of St Vitus Cathedral’s Zikmund (Sigismund) bell, the country’s biggest bell from 1549.

    The coffin, draped in the national flag, was carried to Prague Castle from the nearby Castle Guards’ barracks on a gun-carriage drawn by six Kladruby black horses.

    It was the same gun-carriage, designed for howitzers, that was used to carry the remains of first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk in 1937.

    Walking behind the howitzer was Havel’s widow Dagmar Havlova and other family members as well as supreme state representatives, including Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Necas, the chairpersons of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Milan Stech and Miroslava Nemcova, respectively, the military’s chief of staff Vlastimil Picek and Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetsky.

    The top Czech state decorations that the Senate lent Havel, the Order of the White Lion and the Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order, were carried in the procession.

    The ceremony in the Vladislav Hall was attended by Havel’s relatives, including Havlova and his brother Ivan Havel.

    Those attending included former prime ministers Milos Zeman and Jan Fischer, and also deputies and senators.

    Wreaths from Havlova, Havel’s family, supreme state representatives and the military were laid on the catafalque.

    A wreath from Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk was also laid at the coffin.

    Other wreaths include one with the inscription “De los Cubanos libres” (from free Cubans).

    Klaus gave a speech on this occasion.

    The military ceremony was preceded by a procession in the morning in which Havel’s coffin was driven from the Prague Crossroads centre, where it was displayed in the past days, to Prague Castle.

    The police say about 10,000 people joined the procession but according to journalists’ estimate, their number was several times higher.

    COPY AND PASTE LINK TO BROWSER IF LINK NOT ACTIVE!

    praguemonitor.com/2011/12/22/hundreds-queue-bid-havel-farewell

  18. AFP NEWS SERVICE: Cubans agog at chance to travel, 50 years on – By Rigoberto Diaz

    After half a century of Orwellian obstacles to travel, Cubans are marveling at the thought President Raul Castro is expected to unveil reforms Friday that could let them see the world, and their loved ones, at long last. Local experts believe Castro will end the requirement of exit visas (for Cubans on the island), entrance visas (for Cubans living overseas who return home) and the legal status of “permanent emigrant.”Those who are deemed to have left illegally (permanent emigrants) in essence are classed as defectors, their homes and assets seized. Cubans can already leave the country in theory but only when they have received a letter of invitation from overseas. Then, they have to file for permission for an exit visa, just at the start of a maze-like bureaucratic process that costs about 500 dollars. They also need entry visas from countries to which they would travel. That might not all sound so insumountable in wealthier countries. But workers in Cuba — doctors and streetcleaners alike — make about 20 dollars a month. So the system has kept travel painfully limited, year in and year out, from the Cold War through today, given that about one in six Cuban nationals lives abroad. Separation from family and friends makes the issue a highly emotional one in Cuba. It also has drawn criticism from some rights groups about Cubans’ basic freedom of movement. Since 2006 Raul Castro’s government has ended several unpopular restrictions. Among other things Cubans are now allowed to rent rooms in hotels geared to international tourism, sign cell phone contracts, and buy electric appliances.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iRRccDxXKLEXjJ2Wf3S0MgM_xgkw?docId=CNG.dcb1b7ab09485b0666082068c0f77e8f.151

  19. If Michael Moore were diagnosed with colon cancer, do you think he’d go to Havana for treatment? I think not.

  20. WASHINGTON POST : Cuban legislators meet for year-end session, but details scant – Paul Haven – Friday, December 23

    HAVANA — Cuba’s parliament met Friday in one of its twice-yearly sessions to get an update from President Raul Castro on the island’s economic situation after a year of free-market reforms including the legalization of a real estate market and the expansion of private business ownership.

    Parliament was gathering behind closed doors for what was expected to be a one-day plenary session. There has been speculation lawmakers might ease hated travel restrictions that keep most Cubans from ever leaving the island, but there has been no mention in official news media.

    The National Assembly convenes briefly twice a year for business-packed legislative sessions. Foreign journalists have been allowed to attend opening or closing speeches in past sessions, but have no access this time around, and the sessions are not televised live.

    Communist Party newspaper Granma said some lawmakers, who have already met in small groups, have heard an exhortation from Castro on the importance of fighting corruption.

    Cuba is ending the first year of a drive by Castro to reform its moribund economy. The government has allowed citizens to get business licenses for nearly 200 approved jobs, and 355,000 have taken them up on the offer. The state has also legalized a real estate market for the first time in nearly half a century, begun extending bank credits to entrepreneurs and those wishing to fix up their homes, and removed restrictions on the sale of used cars.

    A parallel effort to trim half a million workers from state payrolls largely foundered. The state employs about 85 percent of all workers and nearly all means of production in Cuba’s Marxist, command economy.

    One of the biggest reforms not yet implemented is the expected elimination of the “tarjeta blanca” — an exit visa in place since the 1960s which is required by all Cubans that seek to leave, even temporarily.

    At parliament’s last session, in August, Castro told lawmakers the government was committed to ease travel restrictions. He said the measures were in place because many of those who left in the years after the 1959 revolution were a threat to Fidel Castro’s nascent government, including people backed by the United States who sought to bring the revolution down.

    Castro said in August that most of those who leave now do so for economic reasons and are not enemies. He said removing travel restrictions would help “increase the nation’s ties to the community of emigrants, whose makeup has changed radically since the early decades of the revolution.”

    Cuba has released few details of the effect of the reforms on its economy. The government has lowered growth forecasts for 2011 from about 3 percent to just 2.7 percent, citing poor harvests.

    COPY AND PASTE LINK TO BROWSER IF LINK NOT ACTIVE!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/americas/cuban-legislators-meet-for-private-year-end-session-details-scant/2011/12/23/gIQANUPUDP_story.html

  21. 291 RCR said: “I am sure as you closed that your friend can’t wait to get back to Paradise!!!!!!!!”

    SPEAKING OF PARADISE!! CURRENT STATE OF CUBAN ARCHITECTURE AND INFRASTRUCTURE – IMAGES ARE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS!

    VIMEO VIDEO : “Paraiso” (The Cuban “Paradise”)- by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

    COPY AND PASTE LINK TO BROWSER IF LINK NOT ACTIVE!

    vimeo.com/28024540

  22. YOUTUBE: CUBA – Arrest of three peaceful human rights activists in Santa Clara- Three peaceful human rights activists in Santa Clara, Cuba are arrested by Castro State Security when they attempt to leave a home and walk down a street. Political Police units watching the opposition members immediately accosted the activists, arrested them, and took them away to prison.

  23. This is what the majority of Cuban hospitals look like, except the ones for “tourists” like Michael Moore:

  24. Micki # 8

    Of course you showed your friend all the high lites of Uncle Sam’s Paradise ie kids that go to bed staving, drug infested inter cities, the Penagon returning from Iraqu after killing hundreds of thousands and crippling generations to come. Did you explain about the current Take Back Our Freedom by the 99 % It is a good thing your friend did not need hospitalization as the bill would have bankrupt you.

    I am sure as you closed that your friend can’t wait to get back to Paradise!!!!!!!!

  25. Dumbir wrote:

    ” I took copies of entire content under the post about the death of Mrs. Pollan in case the team “yoani” change anything and can distribute the full text of original posts to prove what were they really saying there.”

    I’m sure that we all will be requesting our own personal copies of this vital information, after the holidays, major LOL!

  26. I guess the 3 days of mourning for Kim Jong-il is up, welcome back Damir.

    And for everyone else, Merry XMAS, Happy Hanuka, Solstice, New Year and whatever else you wish to celebrate. I need a big break from these wacky Fidel Castro worshipers, they’re like the Grinch who stole XMAS.

  27. Looking at something completely unrelated, I came across this page:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/cuba/8828740/Founder-of-Cubas-dissident-Ladies-in-White-group-dies.html

    It proves nicely that team “yoani” and their pioneers write lies about everything. In this case, those who read this site (because this is NOT a blog, although they call it that. Another pretentious lie from the sad little group of delusional servants.) will recall the team “yoani” and their fanatical little support brigade crying foul and accusing Cuban authorities of forbidding the husband of Laura Pollan to be with her in the hospital, and that she was let to die.

    In the above site, The Telegraph so hard to accuse of pro-Cuban stance, Mrs. Pollan husband is quoted as saying that the medical team was working hard of over an hour trying to revive her after the heart attack.

    So much about “they let her die” and “she was murdered” in the hospital.

    Don’t believe me just because I am saying this here. Search earlier posts and read it for yourselves. As the team “yoani” have been caught already quite a few times to go back and edit or delete undesirable posts (so much about them being all for “democracy” and demanding the “freedom of speech”) I took copies of entire content under the post about the death of Mrs. Pollan in case the team “yoani” change anything and can distribute the full text of original posts to prove what were they really saying there.

  28. Thanks for the info, its a sick shame in this age and time. I am not of Cuban decent but I have, (what I call) personally adopted a family in Cuba that I have become very close to and have been blessed to be able help for the past 4 years, one of the family members, an elderly man of 75, told me he doesn’t want to die before seeing the US (hence: freedom), he didn’t want to stay, just visit and experience what life is like here. I did the paper work, did what I had to do to grant him that wish and I was lucky because the US embassy in Havana granted him the visa and the Cuban government granted him permission to travel. I picked him up in Miami and he was given 6 m’th. It was during the holidays of 2010 and he had a great time, he experienced freedom and saw for himself that what the Cuban government depicts of us is not true. His immigration permit was going to expire on March 2011 and I decided to take him on a family trip to Puerto Rico and Punta Cana D.R. before he returns (I tried convincing him to stay but he missed his family ties). 2 weeks before he was to depart from Miami to Holguin we left, mind you, I did not realize that the visa he was giving was for only ONE entry into the US which he used up when he arrived, he didn’t know any better and neither did I, but because I had already purchased the ticket for his return to Cuba and paid the 6 months stay fee @ 150 a month to the Cuban embassy I thought we would have not problems and we didn’t going into and out of Puerto Rico but Punta Cana was another story. We were admitted into Dominican Republic, we were inspected by their immigration and went on to enjoy our stay at the resort. The day to leave Punta Cana arrived, 2 days before he was to leave from Miami to Cuba, we got our boarding pass, went thru airport security and finally arrived at our gate, the time to board arrives and after the airline worker checked our documents they set us to the side, she said that me and the rest of the family can board but the “old man” stays,,,, Im like WHAT??? Im not leaving him behind in a country he doesn’t know or belong to. Thats where the nightmare began, I was not leaving the “old man”, as they called him, behind. We ended up all staying there, causing him to loose the ticket he had to leave with from Miami to Cuba, I involved the US Embassy, the Cuban embassy and the result was that he couldn’t return to the US cause he had already used up the one entry that he was granted, we would have had to apply for an extension in Santo Domingo’s US Embassy, etc etc, and i did just that (I didn’t want to give up) but it was going to take too long so the Cuban Embassy subjected I send him back to Cuba from Santo Domingo airport and I made the arrangements to do that on the request of my dear old friend, he felt bad for me and said he was going to go back to Cuba anyway, that he was fine with it. I get a call at the hotel from the Cuban embassy the day we were going to check out and was told “remember, if the traveler that is coming back to Cuba did not pay for the “stay” of the 6 months he was in the US then he can not board to go home”. So if I hadn’t previously paid before leaving the US for his stay and updating his passport he wouldn’t have been able to board a plane to go home, HOME mind you, his home, the land he was born in, regardless of the situation, money, thats all the Cuban government cared about. Well, I’ve kept intouch with this family back in Cuba and they are doing fine, but I have a suspicion that my old friend regrets not staying in the US.

  29. Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, has apparently launched her own blog. Comments, to date, are not allowed, which raises the question of whether it is properly classified as a blog or simple propaganda. I can’t find any links to it, but I didn’t try very hard. Let’s see if she has the same courage as Yoani to take comments. Bets anyone?

    http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=454785&CategoryId=14510

  30. EXCELLENT ARTICLE YOU CAN USE AS CONTEXT/REFERENCE FOR THE UPCOMING “TRAVEL CHANGES” BY LA CHINA RAUL!MY VIEW IS THAT THESE CHANGES ARR MEANT TO GENERATE MONEY$$$$$$ AND GOOD PUBLICITY TO BUY TIME FOR MORE CONTROL PLANS! THEY WILL FAIL, YOU CANNOT CONTROL INFORMATION IN THE AGE OF INTERNET, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, CELL PHONES AND THE ARAB SPRING EFFECT!

    HAVANA TIMES : The (Non) Right of Cubans to Travel -Haroldo Dilla Alfonso-February 1, 2010-

    HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 1 – The situation in Cuba concerning the freedom to travel is unfortunate. What I’m describing here is not for Cuban readers (who are all too familiar with this issue), but for those who are unaware of the matter and are forced to accept the information of those who close their eyes to this flagrant civil rights violation, a veritable wedge driven between the Cuban nation made up of both émigrés and those residing on the island.

    Above all, travel for Cubans is not a right, but a legal privilege. It is a condition that can be granted or rescinded. It is a revocable concession by an unappealable power and is without a defined judicial framework.

    In all cases, the departures of these people imply considerable fees that can end up in well excess of US $500, an immense sum for a population with exceedingly depressed wages that average $20 a month. In short, to leave, each person must be able to pay for a letter of invitation, a passport and an exit permit.

    On top of this, once in the destination country, the traveler must make payments to the Cuban embassy in that country a sum that varies each month they remain in that country, which is a highly uncustomary practice. This sum fluctuates between $40 and $150 a month.

    Deciding to live abroad

    I have not been exhaustive in the preceding account because I prefer to proceed to briefly explain what happens when a person decides to reside in a foreign country (those apart from the very small minority that has been authorized to do so).

    As noted, this person loses all of their property and rights in Cuba, which technically makes them an exile. If at some time they wish to return, they can do so only as a visitor. For this they must be specifically authorized by the government through a stamp that is placed in their passport and authorizes them to stay for 21 days.

    Many Cubans are not authorized, not even in cases of family emergencies. There exist groups of émigrés —the case of most of the 1994 “balseros” (boat people) — who face special difficulties in obtaining entry permits. Others are authorized but are turned back once they land on Cuban soil.

    They can only travel to the island under a Cuban passport, their current citizenship doesn’t matter; moreover, their citizenship must be renewed every two years at a cost of one hundred dollars.

    The logical upshot is that Cuban émigrés live in legal limbo, since the Cuban government does not accept “returnees,” and because of that they are undesirable in many places. A tragicomic example was that of a Cuban who had to spend 50 days in San Jose’s airport because he could neither enter Costa Rica nor return to Cuba – like what happened to Tom Hanks in his outstanding movie “The Terminal,” though without the prize of Catherine Zeta Jones. Here, as Oscar Wilde once said, life imitated art.

    There are no laws or clearly written regulations covering these processes; rather, there are arbitrary and discretionary practices that mix starkly fascist reins of political control with mercurial motivations of the worst kind. In this way, the Cuban government denies a right that it alternately sells to those who can afford it.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=18972

  31. Simba Sez: I may be wrong, I’ve been before, but do recent relaxing of some rules and regulations within Cuba just seem to be an attempt at precluding a Cuban Spring as in the Arab Spring? It might seem that the old guard is running a bit scared these days. I don’t blame them. I have no understanding how the Cuban population has allowed the present government to remain in power for well over fifty years. If I were the rulers of the island nation I’d be relaxing things a bit too, if I didn’t want to suffer the same fate as Gaddafi, et al.

  32. North Korea:
    Area: 46,528 sq mi
    Pop: 24,051,218

    Cuba:
    Area: 42,426 sq mi
    Pop: 11,241,894

    So it’s actually the second biggest prison in the world. Just a small detail Micki, everything else you said is exactly right.

  33. Has the Cuban people ever been told WHY after obtaining a visa to travel to whatever country they want to visit do they need permission from the Cuban government to travel?, are Cuban citizens property of the government?, Excuse my ignorance but its seems like when a prisoner ask for a furlough to go to a funeral, does that mean that the Cuban people in the island are prisoners of the biggest prison in the world that goes by the name of Cuba and therefore must apply for a furlough “white letter” with the Warden of the prison (the Castro government), if the warden then approves its like “yes my peasant, my prisoner, my property, my thing, I give you PERMISSION to travel” SERIOUSLY? WHAT? or “no, I don’t feel like letting you travel so therefore you won’t, instead you stay behind the invisible bars of the island”. And “oh, don’t forget, if I do give you the privilege (permission) you must pay me a fee for every month your not here, you are being rented for money for every month that goes by and your not here, I need to get paid you know and since you are my property you must pay me for the months of freedom you will be enjoying in the country you are visiting, if not you can’t come back, Sincerely: your owner”. SICK!

  34. Please Yoani if you come to the Washington area let us know. I will love to see you.

    Yoani si vienes por el area de Washington dejanos saber, me gustaria mucho verte y saludarte.
    Abrazos.

  35. OUR FLACA WILL BE THE FIRST ONE IN LINE TO TEST THESE NEW “TRAVEL REFORMS”! JE JE JE! SHE WILL MAKE THE CASTROFASCISTS LOOK REALLY BAD IF THESE CHANGES WILL EITHER BE FOR ONLY A FEW AND/OR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT! MY BET IS THAT IT WILL BE A WAY TO GET MORE CASH IN THEIR POCKETS BY CHARGING LOST OF MONEY FOR PAPERWORK AND TRAVEL FEES! YOU JUST WATCH!

    YOANI SANCHEZ TWEETS:
    +Los derechos no se suplican, se ejercen! Mi maleta y yo estamos listas para probar los limites de la posible #ReformaMigratoria – 5 minutes ago
    + 4 policias politicos interceptaron al graffitero el Sexto anoche y le ripiaron la ropa, incluido un pulvover impreso d Laura Pollan – 53 minutes ago

    + One does not beg for rights, one claims them! My bag and I are ready to test the limits of the possible travel reforms – 5 minutes ago
    + 4 political policemen intercepted the graffiti artist El Sexto last night, they tore his clothing, including a printed t-shirt with the image of Laura Pollan – 53 minutes ago

    AFP NEWS AGENCY: Communist Cuba set to end travel restrictions- By Carlos Batista
    HAVANA — President Raul Castro is Friday expected to announce an end to onerous, unpopular travel restrictions that have been in place for almost 50 years and which keep most Cubans from traveling abroad.

    The Roman Catholic Church and regime-friendly musicians like Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes have joined a chorus of Cubans calling for an end to the rules, including one that penalizes “permanent emigrants.”

    And observers say Castro is widely expected to make the announcement in an address to the National Assembly.

    “Cuba normalizing its relations with Cubans who have left the country is going to have to include eliminating all restrictions,” analyst Jesus Arboleya said in a recent interview in the Catholic magazine Espacio Laical.

    To travel abroad legally, Cubans have to obtain an expensive exit permit as well as a passport — this in a country where the average monthly salary is about 20 dollars.

    The exit permit, which is granted for 30 days, can be renewed 10 times, and can also be denied. Travelers who let their exit permits expire are declared “deserters.”

    As so-called “permanent emigrants,” the assets of these illegal travelers are promptly seized, and they are not welcome to return to home.

    Among the changes anticipated in official media: the maximum allowable stay abroad will increase from 11 months to two years, but on a renewable status.

    That will spell a de facto end to the “permanent emigrant” status, and should mean that no one’s assets will be confiscated any longer, and no one will be less than welcome to return to their homeland.

    Cuba will be asking for its emigres to travel home on Cuban passports even if they are nationals of other countries, officials say.

    In recent reforms, Raul Castro, 80, has authorized the sale of personal possessions by emigres as a sort of halfway step toward ending confiscation of personal goods.

    The president has said reforming travel restrictions aims, among other things, to preserve “human capital created by the Revolution.”

    It is not just about stemming a “brain drain” — it is also tremendous business for the only communist regime in the Americas, which is politically and economically isolated, and desperate for cash.

    The incomes from medical service staff working abroad and paid to the Cuban government now tops $6 billion a year, making Cuban overseas medical staff — not sugar exports or tourism — Cuba’s top hard-currency earning industry.

    Professionals, especially Cuban-trained doctors, whom the government sends overseas on foreign-currency earning and cooperation contracts, will still have to seek permission for every single trip they make.

    If doctors make a little over $20 a month in Cuba, they might make a few hundred a month working in Venezuela, Uganda or Haiti; if they leave for the United States, they might make more than $10,000 a month.

    Cuban doctors fled Cuba en masse at the beginning of the revolution led by now retired Cuban icon Fidel Castro, 85. Only 3,000 were left in the country, and the health care system collapsed. Now there are more than 76,000 in a country of 11.2 million.

    In 2006, the United States said that any Cuban doctor in a third country could get a US entry visa for themselves and their family. In a reprisal Cuba slapped its toughest travel restrictions on its own doctors.

    Back in August, the president said migration reform was in the works, promising better ties for the two million Cubans — about one in six Cuban nationals — who live abroad. Although they live in more than 40 countries, 80 percent live in the nearby United States.

    Since 2006 Raul Castro’s government has ended several unpopular restrictions. Among other things Cubans are now allowed to rent rooms in hotels geared to international tourism, sign cell phone contracts, and buy appliances — a government energy saving measure.

    In September, the government authorized Cubans to buy and sell cars, and this month private homes.

    Cubans are extremely keen for the government to eliminate its onerous restrictions on travel abroad.

    If Havana makes that move, it could be a stunning wake-up call to the United States, which as part of held-over Cold War policy, still grants any Cuban who reaches US soil legal US residency on request. The United States does not have this policy for nationals of any other country.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iRRccDxXKLEXjJ2Wf3S0MgM_xgkw?docId=CNG.dcb1b7ab09485b0666082068c0f77e8f.151

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