abismoWe had moments when it became fashionable to close the door, cover your years, hang up the phone on others. Entire periods in our national history when dialog was synonymous with giving in and the exchange of ideas was an act close to admitting defeat. Fortunately, every day in the discourse of different groups in civil society, in academic papers, and in the editorials in numerous magazines, and even in government declarations, there is more and more talk of the need for debate. We are surrounded by phrases such as “accept differences,” “exchange opinions,” “everyone participate in the national future,” and affirmations such as “solutions are born only from dialog.” You could say we are living in times when showing a talent for discussion has become “politically correct” in Cuba. But words alone are not enough, the intent to debate must be realized, must be more than an expression carried away by the wind.

In parallel with the tendency to confront our pressing problems from multiple angles, there is also a current that feeds the rejection of the other. So some academics suggest that certain citizens do not have enough education to exchange views with them; Party officials allude to the eternal threat from abroad to discredit those they find uncomfortable; faced with discordant opinions, many voices charge they are not being “proactive” nor “thinking about the nation”; those invited to an alternative event insinuate that their participation would be a trap to politically compromise them. Among the sympathizers with the official ideology, many impute “rightist” bad intentions to their critics, and those who have the microphone on national television will not share it with others, arguing that “they want to bomb Havana.” In short, the never ending story. Shouting among the deaf.

What they don’t realize is that they can always invent reasons to burn bridges, slam doors, and gag those who express disagreement. They will always find motives not to include certain names on the lists of those worthy of attending an event or having a space in a particular publication. They will always be able to fabricate a moral or ethical loophole to exclude someone as a legitimate opponent. Because when you do not want dialog it is possible to declare the opposite, but sooner or later, life will lay bare your real fear of sitting down to talk. We are at a stage in our national life where it is no longer the style to cover your ears, rather it’s more common to say you are listening when, in fact, you are wearing earplugs to protect your brain from these pernicious differing opinions…


7 thoughts on “Willingness?

  1. WASHINGTON — The United States said Thursday it was “extremely concerned” about the health of Alan Gross, a contractor jailed in Cuba, as he is no longer able to walk due to degenerative arthritis.

    “We are extremely concerned about Alan Gross’ health. His health has seriously deteriorated during his incarceration,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

    She said that Gross had lost 100 pounds (45 kilograms) during detention and can no longer walk in his cell due to his condition.

    Gross was arrested in December 2009 for distributing laptops and communications equipment to Cuba’s small Jewish community under a US State Department contract.

    He was found guilty in March 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for “acts against the independence or territorial integrity” of the communist-ruled island.

    “We call on the government of Cuba to release Alan Gross immediately and allow him to return to his family, bringing to an end this injustice that began more than two years ago,” Nuland said.

    Cuba has indicated that they would consider releasing Gross if the United States frees five Cubans convicted in an espionage ring in 2001. The United States has refused, saying that Gross is not a spy.

  2. Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez, was released by police on Wednesday after being detained last Saturday in a violent incident at his city of birth, Placetas, in Villa Clara province.
    “My first words are to express my thanks to all those persons of good will who, somehow or other, decidedly contributed to my release,” said Antúnez in a statement made available by the Miami-based Directorio Democrático Cubano (Cuban Democratic Board).
    On Saturday, Antúnez was arrested, beaten and sprayed with pepper gas in a police jail cell.
    The domestic opposition movement and human rights activists had consistently denounced his detention.
    Last Thursday, Antúnez participated in a teleconference before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee dealing with the domestic situation in Cuba and the recent acts of harassment against the peaceful opposition.
    The U.S. government had demanded Antúnez’s immediate and unconditional release. At a recent press conference in Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland deplored the oppositionist’s arrest.
    Criticism has become strongest because Raúl Castro’s government seems to have activated a campaign to block the opposition’s plans to honor political prisoners on the occasion of Fathers’ Day, next Sunday.
    In the past 48 hours, the cell phones of several dissidents in Villa Clara and Santiago appeared to have been blocked by the authorities so they could not speak with supporters or journalists.
    “These actions highlight once again the repressive nature of the Cuban government, particularly with regard to citizens who peacefully express opposite points of view,” Nuland said. “We shall continue to support the Cuban people in its desire to determine their own future.”
    Joining the chorus of figures and personalities in U.S. politics who demanded Antúnez’s release was Senator Bill Nelson. In a letter to the chief of the Cuban Mission in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, the senator asked for an explanation.
    “I beg you to determine at once all the facts surrounding this affair and notify my office about Antúnez’s whereabouts and well-being,” Nelson said in his letter.
    Antúnez, 46, was released from prison in April 2007 after serving a 17-year sentence for allegedly engaging in enemy propaganda, attempts at sabotage and other crimes punishable by the Cuban penal code.
    Two weeks ago in Miami, groups of Cuban exiles showed a documentary that contains testimony from former political prisoners about the coercive methods used by the island’s prisons, and the consistent violation of the immates’ basic rights.
    The documentary, titled “Cuba’s Prisons: A Sequence of Terror,” was filmed and edited surreptitiously by members of the Oriental Democratic Alliance (ADO), a coalition of opposition groups in Cuba’s eastern provinces. The documentary included a testimony by Antúnez.

  3. FOX NEWS LATINO: Cuba dissident freed after 4 days in jail

    Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as “Antunez”, was freed Wednesday after four days in a police lockup in Villa Clara province, where, he told Efe, he had been beaten.

    In a telephone conversation, Antunez said that he is free pending trial on charges of “spreading false news, resistance, disobedience and assault.”

    Antunez, secretary of the OZT Front, said that for those charges he could be sentenced up to 10 years behind bars and is “weighing” the possibility of going on a hunger strike to protest the accusation.

    The 47-year-old dissident was arrested last Saturday in Placetas, Villa Clara, and was taken afterwards to the provincial police headquarters.

    According to Antunez, police and state security agents “violently” arrested him a few meters (yards) from his home, and later at police headquarters he was beaten and insulted.

    His wife, Iris Perez, received similar treatment when she went to police headquarters to find out about his detention.

    “Everything indicates that this arrest, the beating and the imprisonment I suffered was a reprisal for my statement before the U.S. Congress,” Antunez said in reference to his statement to the Senate last week by means of a teleconference from Havana.

    He called it “significant” that as soon he was taken to police headquarters, the officers told him they had seen the video of his statement and said he “was going to pay dearly” for that.

    Antunez left prison in April 2007 after serving a 17-year sentence for spreading enemy propaganda, attempted sabotage and other offenses.

    Another prominent dissident, Darsi Ferrer, said Wednesday that he plans to leave Cuba on June 28 to join his family in the United States.

    “I’ll be traveling with the United States refugee program if all goes well. I already have my permit to leave Cuba,” Ferrer told Efe.

    The 42-year-old doctor’s intention is to settle in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where his wife and son have lived since they left Cuba in April with the same program.

    Ferrer, who was held for 11 months without charge in 2009-2010, said that leaving Cuba “is an extremely hard decision but there are things that make it necessary” like rejoining his family.

    “I’m going with the peace given me by my conviction that the regime will soon fall – that gives me peace and helps me take this decision,” he said.

    Between 2010 and 2011 Ferrer denounced on several occasions the fact that immigration authorities on the island denied his family permission to travel to the United States – unless he agreed to leave with them.



    SACRAMENTO BEE: Lawyer: Md. man’s health (Alan Gross) declining in Cuban prison -By JESSICA GRESKO- Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012

    WASHINGTON — A lawyer for a Maryland man imprisoned in Cuba for more than two years says his client’s health is worsening and that country is withholding the results of medical tests performed on him there.
    Peter Kahn, a lawyer for Alan Gross, said he sent a letter Monday to Cuba’s top diplomat in Washington requesting the results of tests done in May. He said Gross began having difficulty walking and developed a mass behind his right shoulder blade.

    Kahn said Gross was told results would be made available to American doctors but that hasn’t happened. Cuba’s government didn’t immediately answer requests for comment.

    Gross was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state. Cuba said the U.S. government subcontractor brought restricted communications equipment there under a democracy-building program.


  5. YOUTUBE: Testimonio de Antúnez tras su brutal golpiza y detención – Jorge Luis García “Antúnez” ofrece declaraciones a Radio Republica tras ser excarcelado de su brutal golpiza y detención este pasado sábado 9 de junio. Antúnez fue atacado también con espray pimienta y perdió conocimiento. La comunidad internacional se solidarizo con su caso y exigió su liberación. Escuche el testimonio de Antúnez.


    HAVANA (AP) — For months, Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega has been under fire: called a lackey and political ally of Raul Castro’s communist government, asked to resign over his treatment of protesters and ridiculed in Miami as a snobby elitist.

    Now, Cuba’s Roman Catholic Church is fighting back.

    Church officials on the island have launched a full-throated defense of their leader, and Catholic publications have harshly denounced his critics. Analysts say the increasingly virulent back-and-forth is extremely unusual on an island where the church has traditionally preferred to exercise influence quietly, behind the scenes.

    Ortega’s troubles began shortly before Benedict’s March 26-28 visit, and many believe they are a direct result of concessions the cardinal made to ensure its success.

    Some say he held back criticism of the government in the months preceding the trip, and looked the other way as some dissidents were rounded up. Then, days before Benedict arrived, Ortega had police called in to break up a sit-in at a Havana church by a group of protesters who were demanding a papal audience and political change on the island.

    In a speech at Harvard University in April, Ortega defended the eviction and described the protesters as “former delinquents” with “no culture.” He also insisted that he had acted properly in helping negotiate the release of dozens of political prisoners in 2009 and 2010.

    Most of the freed prisoners accepted exile in Spain, and some have since criticized Ortega for not doing enough to fight for their right to remain in their homeland. Ortega told the audience at Harvard’s Rockefeller Center of Latin American Studies that the prisoners’ own families had requested exile, a version the family members deny.

    The blowback to Ortega’s speech was immediate, and sharper than any the cardinal has faced during a long career atop the island’s Catholic hierarchy.

    Exile blogs in South Florida began calling for Ortega’s resignation. One political cartoon that appeared in Miami’s El Nuevo Herald showed the cardinal and a military-clad Castro singing a love song together. Another depicted a snobby priest telling a worshipper that Ortega required proof of his cultural worthiness before he would be allowed to attend Mass.




    WASHINGTON POST: Cuba replaces ministers of communications, basic industry, without explanation

    HAVANA — Cuba has reassigned two Cabinet ministers who oversaw economic sectors allegedly hit by corruption.

    A notice in the Communist Party daily Granma says Communications Minister Medardo Diaz Toledo will rejoin the armed forces and be replaced by a vice minister.

    Tomas Benitez Hernandez is also out as minister of basic industry, which controls mining and energy. A deputy will fill his post.

    Some foreign news media have reported the corruption-related arrests of two senior officials at the Communications Ministry, though the government has made no statement.

    Businessmen have also reported detentions involving alleged graft at the Moa nickel mine project, run jointly by Cuba and Canadian company Sherritt.

    Wednesday’s notice in Granma did not say why the Cabinet changes were made.


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