President Mujica, the Cut on His Nose and the Potholes of Havana

Image taken from

President José Mujica of Uruguay. Image taken from

It was a flying sheet of roofing that cut the nose of the Uruguayan president José Mujica. A piece of metal that fell off just as he was helping a neighbor reinforce the roof of his house. The anecdote traveled through the media and the social networks as an example of the simplicity of a leader known for his austere lifestyle. There he was, like one more farmer, trying to make sure the storm didn’t carry off the roof tiles of a house near the farm where he lived in Montevideo. Undoubtedly, an anecdote full of lessons that should be imitated by many other world leaders.

Pepe Mujica’s story made me reflect about the divorce that exists between the way of life of the leaders and the people in Cuba. The contrast is so marked, so abysmal, that it determines a good part of the mistakes they commit when making decisions. It’s not just that they live in better houses, reside in beautiful residential neighborhoods, or that they drive modern cars. No. The great difference lies in that almost nothing the authorities do has any relationship to the problems that plague our daily lives. They do not know the feeling of waiting for more than an hour at a bus stop, the annoyance of walking streets lacking streetlights or full of potholes. They haven’t the least idea of the smell of stale sweat that fills the inside of a truck where dozens of people are traveling from one village to another, nor of the clatter of horse carts which for many are the only form of transport. They have never spent a night at La Coubre terminal on the waiting list for a train ticket, nor have they had to hand over the equivalent of a monthly salary to a guard who resells the tickets to board a rickety train car.

When has a commander or general of this country entered a hard currency store to see if they are now selling hamburger meat more cheaply, and has had to leave because they don’t have enough money to buy any of the goods on the shelves? When was the last time a minister opened a refrigerator and found it full of water but lacking food? Will the president of the parliament ever sleep on a mattress patched over and over by the family’s grandmother? Will he mend his underwear to be able to continue wearing it, or use vinegar to wash his hair because there is no shampoo? What do the children of these elite know about humid late nights spent heating up the kerosene stove so it will be ready to make coffee in the morning? Have they looked up close into the face of the functionary who says “No” — almost with pleasure — when they are asking about the results of some paperwork? Have any of them had to sell peanuts to survive like so many retired elderly do the length and breadth of this country?

They cannot govern us because they do not know us. They are not able to find solutions because they have never suffered the difficulties we have. They do not represent us because they strayed too long ago into a world of privileges, comforts and luxuries. They have no idea what it means to be a Cuban today.

62 thoughts on “President Mujica, the Cut on His Nose and the Potholes of Havana

  1. After said taxi drivers pay Fidel and Raul, they take home only a fraction of what they actually make.

    The absurdly high fees and taxes on the casa particulars works the same.

    Nice try though.

  2. Of course, now you losers are trying to answer some of my questions without actually getting into a discussion.

    The same discussion you vehemently “demand” from Mariela Castro for example.

    Yet, here you are doing exactly the same as one of your idols Castro: pretending that the problem (Damir asking for a discussion and answers to his questions) will disappear if you simply burry your empty head into the sand of your mental delusions.

    Ain’t working.

    You know only too well how the convertible peso shops and supermarkets are full of Cubans.

    You know only too well hom MUCH money one taxi driver makes a day driving one of those old dilapidated cars.


    Let us talk some numbers for you liars will hate them.

    A taxi driver of an oldtimer charges ten (10) Cuban pesos per person, per ride. He can squeeze 5 people at a time. They will all come in and out along his regular route between say, Playa and Havana Vieja. I counted one day between Havana Vieja and Playa 26 people taking the ride. The total ride in one direction took around 50 mins. If that driver did 8 hours a day, he would have driven 190 people and cashed 1900 pesos!

    In ONE ride. In one day.

    Multiply that by 24.

    1900 x 24 = 45600 ORDINARY pesos per one day.

    Let me give some perspective to those well-meaning readers who don’t know squat about Cuba and fall genuinely for your shift:

    The value of this sum should be divided by 25 to convert it into the convertible pesos that this crap above is talking about.

    that is 45600/25 = 1824 AU dollars

    (since I was called Australian by the “friendly” translator who was pretending to post as a “bluey” and other impostors, as she is the only who would know what IP my messages come from, forgetting that I said as much long time ago, explaining it that I am using a masking proxy in Australia to post here)


    It gets

    B E T T E R !!!

    Does anyone of you even begins to understand how

    M U C H

    money that is?

    In Cuba that is an awful lot of money. I rent a casa particular for 30 convertible pesos a day. My host lives from that money 3 months like a king, shouting his family a dinner in the most expensive restaurants every day if he wants to. A family of four can eat for 20 CUC (convertible pesos) in an exclusive restaurant.

    And still have some left to buy whatever they may need from supermarkets, paying in CUC.

    There are

    T H O U S A N D S

    of taxi drivers in Havana driving those “viejitos” around.

    Benefits naturally spread further with the families of those drivers.

    Then there are those who drive proper taxies and charge in CUCs. They rarely turn on taximetres for “they do not work”…

    Liars, as the team “yoani” will know (from their own personalities).

    But, it has to be said, rarely they try to cross you over. They do tell you how much, and fairly, if you ask


    Still, they take about 90 CUCs home every day.

    That’s 1920 AU dollars per month.

    There are thousands of those taxis too on the roads of Havana.

    So, when you convert the number of taxis (an approximate number I was told by Cubataxi driver is over 80 000 taxi cars of any sort, and could easily be 130 000), you realise that about a 500 000 of Havaneros live on 1800-1900 AU dollars per month.

    That, my friends is a

    L O T

    of money for a lot of people.

    Then there are those pesky little motors and bicycle-driven carriages who take on average 30 cucs every day, which too is around 720 AU dollars every month. Significantly lower, but still enough of money to keep a family of four well fed and with all the needs taken care of.

    Yeah, but what would Mujica, in URUGUAY, know about all of this…? Or the team “yoani”, the self-confessed liars, traitors and terrorists.

  3. Ten videos smuggled out of Cuba’s biggest and reputedly worst prison, in an unusually daring operation by a dissident, show grotesquely dirty toilets, grimy walls, leaking sewage and food described as worse than “animal feed.”

    “Show this video to the international community, how this miserable dictatorship commits cruelties against humanity,” says the videos’ main narrator, an India citizen serving a 30-year sentence in Havana’s high security Combinado del Este prison.

    Havana dissident journalist Dania Virgen García, who writes the blog “Cuba por Dentro” — Inside Cuba — said the videos were shot in late January with a digital camera smuggled into the prison “so that everyone can see Cuba’s reality.”

    The videos — which also showed several inmates, including a U.S. citizen complaining about prison conditions — appeared to be the first ever smuggled out of Cuba’s 200-plus prisons. Their views of prison buildings matched those of the Combinado del Este prison.

    VIDEO:Testimony of prisoner Marcos Damián Rafael Fernández Rodríguez (Cuban man with no hands)- (Cuba) – Testimonio del reo Marcos Damián Rafael Fernández Rodríguez (cubano)-

  4. YOUTUBE: One of the inmates (without hands) who was filmed in a clandestine video in Combinado del Este Prison in Cuba has been freed – Damián Rafael Fernández Marcos Rodriguez – Havana, Cuba. Liberado uno de los reo que filmo video clandestino en la Prisión del Combinado del Este – Marcos Damián Rafael Fernández Rodríguez – La Habana, cuba.


    EL UNIVERSAL: Ambassador: “voting Chávez is voting Fidel” – Edgardo Ramírez, the Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba, says that it means “the union of two great men”

    Venezuela’s ambassador to Cuba, Edgardo Antonio Ramírez, stated on Wednesday at a press conference in Havana that voting president-candidate Hugo Chávez Frías in the upcoming October 7 presidential election amounted to “voting Fidel (Castro, Cuba’s ex-president), peace, and union in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

    “Most Venezuelan people are going to vote for a sensitive president, for the full exercise of democracy in Latin America, (…) because Chávez is the leader of the world’s poor,” the ambassador asserted.

    Additionally, Ramírez explained the features of the Venezuelan electoral system and defended its transparency and reliability. “It is impossible to cheat in this election,” he remarked.

    He also referred to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski as “the Pentagon candidate,” without mentioning his name, accusing him and the Venezuelan opposition of manipulating and lying about the polls, which give Chávez between 19 and 24 points of lead over the opposition hopeful. “In Venezuela, the hesitant voters have never decided an election,” he added.

    Ramírez also informed that over 400 Venezuelans residing in Cuba would vote at Havana on October 7.


    AFP: China, Cuba to intensify trade as Havana meets debt payments
    HAVANA — Cuba will intensify its economic ties with China, having met payments on its debt with Beijing, its second largest trade partner, Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas announced on Thursday.

    Speaking on state-run television, Cabrisas said Cuba is committed to “strict compliance of our financial obligations with China, including those related to the rescheduling of our debt.”

    Cabrisas, who gave no details about the size of Cuba’s debt with China, made his remarks after the conclusion Wednesday of the latest round of bilateral trade talks.

    China’s growing investment in Cuba can be seen in the context of helping Cuba’s domestic development, the minister said.

    “We are heading into a higher stage (of investment) as part of our social and economic development plan for our country,” Cabrisas said.

    Beijing’s Minister for Commerce Chen Deming, who represented China at the talks, said Cuba’s payments towards its debt had “contributed to the restoration of confidence” between the two trade partners.

    China is Cuba’s second biggest trade partner after Venezuela. Their bilateral trade in 2011 was $1.9 billion, with about two-thirds of that balance in China’s favor. Trade reached $870 million for the first half of this year.


    REUTERS : Exclusive – Paris Club invites Cuba to resume debt talks- by Marc Frank – Nov 7, 2011

    Cuba’s wealthiest creditors have decided to test President Raul Castro’s pledge to improve the island’s financial credibility by inviting his government to talks with the Paris Club about settling billions of dollars of outstanding debt, according to Western diplomats.

    The Paris Club reported that Cuba owed its members $30.5 billion (19.0 billion pounds) at the close of 2010, but more than $20 billion of the debt was in old transferable Soviet rubles that Russia now claims but Cuba does not recognise.

    The Bank for International Settlements reported banks in 43 countries held $5.76 billion in Cuban deposits as of March of this year, compared with $4.285 billion at the close of 2009 and $2.849 billion at the close of 2008.

    Cuba last reported its foreign debt in 2007 at $17.8 billion, but most analysts agree it now exceeds $21 billion, or close to 50 percent of gross domestic product and 30 percent more than annual foreign exchange revenues.

  7. YOUTUBE: Agents prevent Cuba’s Ladies in White from leaving headquarter – Agents of the State Security prevented the Ladies in White members to walk into the streets. By Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez / Hablemos press. Havana, September 26. – Agents of the Department of State Security kept blocked the entrance to the home and headquarters of the Ladies in White and prevented them to walk streets to celebrate the day of Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of prisoners, September 24 at 5:00 pm. The images captured by the camera of one of the Ladies in White member were donated to Hablemos Press to accompany this article, shows the violence used by the agents. According to Berta Soler, spokeswoman Ladies in White Movement, they had planned to “walk from the venue to the La Merced church to attend Mass and pray there for political prisoners as we do every year.” This video shows officers punching and scratching Soler at the entrance of the house which is their headquarters on several occasions where they attacked the late Laura Pollan the leader of the group who died shortly after a violent action like this one.

    Agentes impide salir a grupo disidente Cubano Damas de Blanco – Agentes de la Seguridad del Estado impidieron que las Damas de Blanco salieran a las calles. Por Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez/ Hablemos Press. La Habana, 26 de septiembre.- Agentes del Departamento de la Seguridad del Estado mantenían bloqueada la entrada a la casa sede de las Damas de Blanco e impidieron que salieran a las calles para celebrar el día de la Virgen de La Merced, patrona de los presos, el 24 de septiembre a las 5:00pm. Las imágenes captadas por la cámara de una Dama -donadas a Hablemos Press- que acompañan esta nota demuestran la violencia empleada por los agentes. Según Berta Soler, portavoz del Movimiento Damas de Blanco, ellas tenían planeado “caminar desde la sede hasta la Iglesia La Merced para participar de la misa y allí orar por los presos políticos como cada año hacemos”. Este video muestra a agentes arañando y dándole puñetazos a Soler a la entrada de la casa sede donde en varias ocasiones lo hicieron también con Laura Pollán, líder del grupo, fallecida luego de una acción semejante a esta

  8. Cuba Libre
    Septiembre 26th, 2012 at 21:00

    # 46 Simba,
    for once I am inclined to agree with you. I guess if the Revolutionary government has been in power for so long and still is today, its because the mass population agrees to its ways. There is a few dissidents like the ones who started this blog, all backed up by outside help. I guess most Cubans accept their government just the way it is.

    A candidate for the Darwin award. It’s called a POLICE STATE.

  9. Cuba Liar,

    Yes indeed, Montreal politics is corrupt. It is also the most left wing city in Canada. Go figure. But you are right, things in Quebec are starting to be similar to those in Cuba. As the new PQ government has announced huge increases in taxes we can look forward to a flood of Quebec “exiles” rafting across the Ottawa river to escape the confiscatory Leftists.

    A history lesson for you CL: The US used nuclear weapons to end a war, after they were attacked by Japan. In contrast, Fidel & Che begged the Russians to use the nuclear missiles in Cuba to start a war. Big difference there.

    The alternative in 1945 was to invade mainland Japan in an operation expected to produce 10 million casualties and take over 6 months. The Japanese refused to surrender. So the US dropped the 2 bombs and ended the war much sooner, with far fewer casualties. As horrific as the bombings were, the decision save 10 million Japanese lives, and hundreds of thousands of US lives. Furthermore, in the six months prior Hiroshima, the Japanese Imperial Army killed 5 million civilians in China, Korea and the Philippines. If the war had dragged on for several more months, the Japanese would have killed many millions more. By using the bombs, millions of lives were saved.

    In 1963, when Khrushchev read the infamous “Armageddon Letter” Fidel had sent, in which the Cuban dictator had demanded the Russians to launch their nuclear missiles at the US, the Russian leader was horrified at the “mad man” Castro. Khrushchev immediately ordered the Russian ships to stop and turn around, bringing the nuclear confrontation with the US to an end. He withdrew the missiles from Cuba to prevent Castro from seizing control of them.

    The American use of 2 small atomic bombs ended WWII. Che & Castro had begged Khrushchev to start a global nuclear war that would have exterminated life on earth. Surely, even the most thick headed lefty such as yourself can see the moral difference?

  10. Cuba Libre said: “And you think the government of Cuba is corrupt, maybe you should read some Montreal newspapers about corruption there, along with Toronto where mobsters have all the municipal counsel eating out of the palms of their hands.Once again my hermano, Cuban issues are not that far different than issues in other cities all over the world.”


  11. Simba Sez: To the Cuban government agent that names himself Cuba Libre; if, like you, the Cuban powers believes they rule at the complete will of the people, then, due to the fact Fidel and Raul are both octogenarians, they should easily see it is time to hold free and open elections to ascertain their successors. There are so few dissidents it is obvious they couldn’t win a fair election, don’t you think?

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