Independent Journalists: Journalists

Last week a friend asked me if the coming of democratic changes to Cuba would result in independent journalism. I stopped to meditate, because there are answers that shouldn’t be thrown out there without carefully weighing them. In the seconds I remained silent passing through my head were all the images and moments of those reporters of risks and words that have influenced my life. I thought about Raúl Rivero, who left journalism and the official institutions to take a dangerous leap toward freedom for his pen. I remember the typewriter permanently on the table in his apartment on Peñalver Street, the smell of his cigar, his arms reaching out to receive everyone who came. Undoubtedly a man who loved his profession which put him at the center of so much repression and damage.

I kept going over the names. Reinaldo Escobar who permanently infected me with the virus of journalism, my colleagues of Primavera de Cuba, the many friends who have fed the pages of Cubanet, Diario de Cuba, Café Fuerte, HablemosPress, Misceláneas de Cuba, Voces Cubanas, Penúltimos Días and of so many other sites, blogs, press agencies and simple bulletins with just a single sheet folded in half. Spaces in which they have narrated this country concealed by the official media and the triumphalism of political slogans. People who choose the most difficult path, instead of remaining silent, faking it, staying out of trouble like the vast majority. Thanks to them we have heard innumerable news stories silenced in the national newspapers, television and radio, the private and hegemonic property of the Communist Party.

So, when my friend sprung that question on me, I concluded that in a democratic nation journalism has no need of surnames. It is not “official” or “independent.” And so, as a small tribute to all those reporters of yesterday and today, I have written the prologue to the anthology, “Con voz abierta/With Open Voices,” which presents a selection of news and opinion written from within Cuba and in the most precarious of conditions from the legal and material point of view. It is a book of journalists… simply journalists, without qualifiers that determine their affiliation to any ideology. A compilation that will bring about this future in which we will not need to make distinctions between professionals of the press.

The post Periodistas independientes: periodistas appeared first on Generación Y by .

Advertisements

148 thoughts on “Independent Journalists: Journalists

  1. Francisco,

    I hope you see what you are up against.

    Guys like Socialist Worker have killed a lot more socialists and workers in Cuba than guys like Batista.

    And they wouldn’t hesitate to put you up against the wall either. Or any worker who dared to form a union in Cuba.

    All to defend a mafia kingpin who calls himself a socialist.

  2. Why is it that the Democratic Socialists lecture the Cuban workers on the need for more political parties while in the US they refuse to organize even one party?

    As to Venezuela there is definitely a mass Socialist movement. It currently controls the government. However the capitalists don’t play fair. They have already made one coup attempt stamped with the made in Washington seal of approval. That coup failed. At that point in my opinion they should have issued arrest warrants for all those involved put them on trial for treason, locked them up and thrown away the key. Instead they decided to let bygones be bygones so that these criminals can get another chance to organize a second coup also like the Chilean coup of 9/11/1973. History is strewn with the wreckage of elected popular front governments where those governments refused to act decisively against those who would prepare and organize a counterrevolutionary victory.

  3. Socialist Worker, as I recently wrote:
    After being raised on Richard Nixon, I have gone back to my family’s deeper roots on the left. My father and his oldest brother were lucky to catch on with the emerging Miami airline industry in the 1950s. Before that, mi abuelo was lucky to win $900 playing bolita, the illegal Cuban lottery in Miami, which allowed him to buy the shotgun shack he had been renting for years. I suppose that in a tragic sense, mi abuela’s niece, who was unable to take care of herself, was “lucky” too–she had a family to take care of her when her mother died an early death from alcoholism.

    I believe in the hope that you can see in these humble family photographs. I believe in the dedication and effort that led mi abuelo and my father to work hard to make a better life for their families. But, politically, I believe in more than hard work if you can find it. I do not think it is fair or rational to expect human beings, either the strong or the weak, to rely on luck–or leaving their families behind to escape from the slums, like my mom had to do over in Opa-locka, which broke her heart. I am a democratic socialist, on the left wing of the possible (while remaining active in the Democratic Party). That is the choice I have made.”

  4. Socialist Worker: thank you for the candor of your comments and taking time to examine mine. I am grateful for the dialogue. Here are some quick responses:

    1. “Why should those who remain have to allow those who signed that paper a vote?” That should be up to the Cuban government.

    2. I write forcefully as a U.S. citizen opposing the blockade all the time.

    3. The world needs both socialism AND democracy/human rights. I am part of this world and only one person doing all I can. I agree with the primacy of the material–bread is more important than ballots and broadcasting one’s views, but all are important. I will remain in solidarity with all of humankind as long as I live. Since the worker gets the shaft under capitalism, I am against capitalism. But the “armed struggle” is not the only path to economic justice. With democracy, as Chavez showed, socialism can triumph politically. But it cannot triumph politically if socialism is synonymous with being against the democratic and human rights of its opponents.

    I love you brother or sister. Socialists are supposed to love the weak yes–that is part of my credo and every breath I take. I do so through working for system change in my country and around the world, and through mutual aid. But I also choose to love my enemies as much as possible, and I am not ashamed to do so. Peace.

  5. To the Democratic Socialist: I don’t see you as having anything politically new from your writings. Most of those who left Cuba for the United States had to sign a paper saying the were fleeing political repression in order to get the Green Card. Why should those who remain have to allow those who signed that paper a vote? I sure you have plenty of good advice but have you actually ever participated in the class struggle or are you just another intellectual who knows what kind of advice to give to protect their own class position? You quote Mr. Pedro Campos but does he even mention the blockade in his lecturing? My experience with Democratic Socialists is they see themselves as the necessary moderators of the class struggle. Those who will tell the workers that they need to take a bath before they can sit with the capitalists and then plead their case in a capitalist court. How long would have the Cuban Socialist government have lasted if they had relied on Sweden instead of the Soviet Union for assistance?

  6. Understood Socialist Worker. I hope that if you ever get the time you will look at my comments on the last few Generation Y blog posts during the last three weeks from when I first said hello here (or look at my website, where I post some Cuban content). I try to be fair and honest, and to work for truth and reconciliation as much as possible. I hope that democratic socialism will be the eventual political and economic system everywhere, including the U.S. and Cuba, as humankind moves forward. I believe in democracy and human rights within a constitutional democratic socialist framework to ensure economic justice. I have proposed workable suggestions in good faith for consideration by the Cuban government.

    In Solidarity,

    Francisco

  7. There will be no change in the relationship with the Untied States that does not include releasing the Cuban Five. Nor is there a significant number of Cubans who want to be ruled by the American Ambassador from his Interest Section in Habana as he does in so many other countries.

  8. In summary, while U.S. citizen ex-patriots, many of whom have suffered so much, may be able to participate in truth and reconciliation on some level, that will not be up to them, the U.S., or even the U.N., and they may not necessarily have a role in future governance, approving a new constitution, and voting. Democracy and human rights should be the priority, not punishment, much less capitalism.

  9. Humberto, I am going to violate my pledge to myself and try to dialogue with you. We don’t always get to pick our founding fathers. I’m sure African-Americans and Native-Americans might have chosen differently. I’d like to make some changes myself. If we have to wait on a new Cuban constitution that provides democracy and human rights until you or I get to pick the drafters, we may have to wait a long time. If the Cuban government has their citizenry as they define it democratically approve a new constitution as I have outlined, I think that would be good. I presume you get to vote, etc. in the U.S. If so you are luckier than millions of other productive U.S. citizens Ann Coulter wants to kick out. If you get to vote in the U.S., I don’t think you having restoration of Cuban voting rights should be a pre-requisite to a new day in Cuba.

  10. It is amazing that those that comment about the Castroit regime weapon smuggling operation don’t seem to understand that their arguments in defense of the operation have little to do with the real thing. Their politically distorted interpretation and justification of the smuggling of weapons are ridiculous. They keep distorting repeatedly the real facts without regard for the truth.

  11. Francisco Nejdanov Solomin!! IT’S VERY SIMPLE! GET THE CASTROFASCIST FAMILY OUT OF THE COUNTRY, SET UP MULTI-PARTY ELECTIONS SUPERVISED BY THE UNITED NATIONS. ALLOW CUBAN MEDIA ACCESS TO ALL AND LET ALL THOSE BORN IN THE ISLAND (including the diaspora) TO VOTE, JUST LIKE IS DONE IN ANY OTHER LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRY! HERE IN THE “BAD OLD USA” LATIN AMERICAN BORN CITIZENS CAN VOTE IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY ELECTIONS. CANT GET EASIER THAN THAT!

  12. Francisco Nejdanov Solomin!! IT’S VERY SIMPLE! GET THE CASTROFASCIST FAMILY OUT OF THE COUNTRY, SET UP MULTI-PARTY ELECTIONS SUPERVISED BY THE UNITED NATIONS. ALLOW CUBAN MEDIA ACCESS TO ALL AND LET ALL THOSE BORN IN THE ISLAND (including the diaspora) TO VOTE, JUST LIKE IS DONE IN ANY OTHER LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRY! HERE IN THE “BAD OLD USA” LATIN AMERICAN BORN CITIZENS CAN VOTE IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY ELECTIONS. CANT GET EASIER THAN THAT!

    MORE FASCIST BEHAVIOR FROM THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY MAFIA AGAINST ANYONE THAT DOES NOT AGREE WITH THEM!

    MIAMI HERALD: Cuban government supporters ‘repudiate’ the Ladies in White – by Juan Tamayo

    Cuban police and a pro-government mob Monday shut off the area around the Havana home where the dissident Ladies in White were marking the anniversary of the death of their founder, and police reportedly detained 22 group members who tried to reach the home.

    “The government brings the mob, paid by them, to silence our words,” Ladies in White leader Berta Soler said by phone from the home of founder Laura Pollán, which became the group’s office after her death on Oct. 14. 2011 at the age of 63.

    Loud music and chanting could be heard in the background, coming from the loudspeakers set up by government officials to amplify the shouts by the more than 100 government supporters crowded since 2 p.m. just outside the front doors of the home on Neptuno Street.

    About 50 Ladies in White were gathered in the home to mark Pollán’s death but another 22 were detained by police Monday to keep them from attending the ceremony, Soler said. Such detentions are usually ended after an event ends.

    Police closed off the one block of Neptuno in front of Pollan’s house to vehicular and pedestrian traffic since early Monday and installed a “large stage” for the event against the women, according to a report by the Spanish EFE news agency.

    At least six police vehicles and several police agents, most of them women, could be seen on Aramburen street, on one end of the closed-off block of Neptuno street, EFE added.

    The Cuban government regularly organizes such “acts of reputation” to harass and intimidate dissidents and to prevent them from staging street protests against the island’s communist system.

    Soler said the Ladies in White gathered in the home had no intention of going out into the street and hoped simply to mark Pollan’s death by showing a video celebrating her life and reading some of the letters she wrote giving her support and encouragement to other dissidents.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/14/3689684/cuban-government-supporters-repudiate.html

  13. Truth and Reconciliation yes. Such as that which has occurred in South Africa.
    But Revenge seems to be what some people seek.
    As well as South Africa another example would be Northern Ireland.
    Just last year The Queen of England was obliged to perform the task of shaking the hand of a man who is widely believed to have organised the murder of a member of her family.
    This man (formerly high up in the IRA) is now high up in The Northern Irish Assembly.
    In order to improve bad situations, people have to meet and talk, not demand revenge.
    If anyone thinks that the idea of people going from the USA to Cuba in a bid to put members of the government on trial is a good way forward then they are badly mistaken.
    If anyone thinks that this would be permitted or would go down well with the Cuban population, I would guess that they are similarly mistaken.
    I think that Posada Carriles should be in jail as does every Cuban person who I have ever talked with about this in individual, but I feel that this probably aint gonna happen.
    I think that any effort to round up all the people who were involved in organising his terrorist activity or who helped fund it would be unrealistic and not a positive step forward.
    The road forward to a better Cuba will probably be long and, at times, slow going.
    Too slow for some; no doubt too fast for others.
    Any attempt at imposing some kind of solution from outside Cuba is not a solution, it just makes the situation worse.

  14. Nothing can be considered in isolation. The world is complex, and peacemaking and transition are no exception. I believe that democracy and human rights should be the priority and that anything dictated from the outside that would interfere in the Cuban people achieving those goals may not be the Cuban people’s priority.

  15. The point is that the same people who backed the arrest and prosecution of Pinochet and other Latin American dictators and right-wing generals who were responsible for torture and arbitrary murder, prosecutions which are still ongoing, and which I support….

    These same people are absolutely opposed to any investigation into the crimes of the Castro regime and prosecution of Cuba’s biggest murderers.

    End these double standards. The Cuban people deserve and want truth and justice.

    Pol Pot died in his sleep, but at least there was an attempt to bring him to justice.

    I don’t see why guys like Nick are so opposed to investigating Castro’s crimes.

    Actually, I do see why, but I’m being extra polite today.

  16. I have said all along that truth and reconciliation is necessary. However, it can happen in different ways. Here is the wiki piece on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_reconciliation_commission
    My concerns are that, like the Helms-Burton Act, which focuses on a market economy and restoring the neo-colonial property distribution, and seeks to freeze out the historic leadership from participating in transition to U.S.-style democracy-lite, (1) an excessive or counter-productive focus on the past will inhibit the present and the future; and (2) foreigners, like me, should not be dictating the outcome. The past is important, but it is not what is most important. Here is how South Africa, which had to overcome Apartheid, dealt with these types of issues: http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/. I have asked, “What is most important, capitalism or democracy and human rights?” Perhaps I should modify this, “What is most important, capitalism and punishment, or democracy and human rights?”

  17. Hank was talking about justice not revenge.

    For example, if Paya and Cepero were murdered in their car, or if Laura Pollan was murdered, Cubans would like to know.

    Cubans would like to know if Castro gave the orders, or if the murders were ordered at a lower level, if they were indeed murdered.

    It would be no progress to keep murderers in power.

    Similarly, if some doctor tortured hundreds of patients, Cubans would like to see him punished or at least removed from his post.

    I would not want to be treated by a doctor who tortured prisoners, or just stole food and medicine from patients and left them to die, which is very common in Cuba.

    Nuremberg was about bringing the truth to light and punishing the worst perpetrators, not mass revenge. Denazification was progress.

    Nick would let Mengele keep his medical license and practice medicine, just forget about it he says.

    Putting Cuba’s worst murderers on trial is the only chance of peaceful reconciliation, because all Cubans want to see it, except for the 1% that Nick represents.

    What Nick wants is a Chinese or Russian style end play where no justice is served and the future big capitalists are today’s top communists. That’s what he wants, so he can safely go back to Cuba and play with his 1% friends.

  18. And by the way Hank.
    In the eyes of the world at large, the biggest atrocity going on right now on the island of Cuba is the on-going horror taking place at Camp X Ray in the US occupied Guantanamo Bay,

  19. Hank suggests that ‘we’ all need to move forward.
    Moving forward is not Hank’s priority.
    Hank’s priority evidently seems to be some kind of ‘revenge’.
    Never having been to a country certainly does not mean that one does not have the right to state an opinion, but Hank, going forward is impossible if there is some pre-requisite of ‘revenge’.
    Hank typifies a ‘status quo’ point of view.
    This point of view is, I’m afraid, based on a very limited and entirely one-sided and blinkered outlook.
    Hank, your ‘centre-left’ and President Obama-voting credentials are badly let down by your vindictive attitude towards Cuba.
    This lust for ‘revenge’ is the problem, not the solution.
    In fact it is the crux of the problem and will surely never be allowed to be part of any solution.
    The fact is Hank, that Cuba is slowly moving on; whereas you just want to move backwards.

  20. MORE FASCIST BEHAVIOR FROM THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY MAFIA AGAINST ANYONE THAT DOES NOT AGREE WITH THEM! IS THIS NOT “FASCIST” BEHAVIOR Francisco???

    MIAMI HERALD: Cuban government supporters ‘repudiate’ the Ladies in White – by Juan Tamayo

    Cuban police and a pro-government mob Monday shut off the area around the Havana home where the dissident Ladies in White were marking the anniversary of the death of their founder, and police reportedly detained 22 group members who tried to reach the home.

    “The government brings the mob, paid by them, to silence our words,” Ladies in White leader Berta Soler said by phone from the home of founder Laura Pollán, which became the group’s office after her death on Oct. 14. 2011 at the age of 63.

    Loud music and chanting could be heard in the background, coming from the loudspeakers set up by government officials to amplify the shouts by the more than 100 government supporters crowded since 2 p.m. just outside the front doors of the home on Neptuno Street.

    About 50 Ladies in White were gathered in the home to mark Pollán’s death but another 22 were detained by police Monday to keep them from attending the ceremony, Soler said. Such detentions are usually ended after an event ends.

    Police closed off the one block of Neptuno in front of Pollan’s house to vehicular and pedestrian traffic since early Monday and installed a “large stage” for the event against the women, according to a report by the Spanish EFE news agency.

    At least six police vehicles and several police agents, most of them women, could be seen on Aramburen street, on one end of the closed-off block of Neptuno street, EFE added.

    The Cuban government regularly organizes such “acts of reputation” to harass and intimidate dissidents and to prevent them from staging street protests against the island’s communist system.

    Soler said the Ladies in White gathered in the home had no intention of going out into the street and hoped simply to mark Pollan’s death by showing a video celebrating her life and reading some of the letters she wrote giving her support and encouragement to other dissidents.

    TO FIND ORIGINAL ARTICLE COPY AND PASTE THE TITLE TO YOUR BROWSER! I

  21. Francisco,

    Thanks for your detailed answers to my questions. They were good and honest.

    I hope we can all move forward, someday, to a better Cuba. I don’t think that can happen until and unless we acknowledge the atrocities that have happened over the course of the last half century in Cuba. Those atrocities should be confronted with honesty and justice.

    As the dictatorship that rules Cuba wanes and eventually ends, I’d like to see fair and open trials take place in Cuba, modeled after those that took place in Nuremburg after World War II. The trials should seek to hold individual people accountable for the atrocities we have seen on a daily basis in Cuba for the last 54 years.

    The people who’ve committed atrocities in Cuba, and who continue to commit those atrocities, should be brought to justice and afforded the opportunity of defending themselves in a Cuban court before a jury of their peers.

  22. SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM YESTERDAY’S DODGERS 3 – 0 WIN OVER THE CARDINALS! NOW, WHEN WILL THE CASTROFASCIST GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGE Yasiel Puig AND OTHER CUBAN BASEBALL PLAYERS IN THE USA MLB LEAGUE ON THEIR “MEDIA”?? SUCH FASCIST BEHAVIOR! DON YOU THINK SO Francisco??

    MLB VIDEO: Top 5 Plays of the Day – 10/15/13: Hyun-Jin Ryu hurls seven scoreless frames and Yasiel Puig drives in a run with a triple to right in MLB.com’s Top 5 Plays of the Day
    http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=31141619&query=YASIEL%2BPUIG

  23. Pingback: Reinhold Neibuhr’s Constructive Criticism of Democracy | garden variety democratic socialist

  24. Francisco,

    Your posts will be easier to get through if you make them shorter, or break them up and post a bit at a time.

    I enjoyed reading your views, but if you want others to read them, I think you should keep them shorter.

    Just trying to help.

  25. The old “Cuba is not a threat” line is repeated once again.

    Castro’s terrorists have set off bombs on US soil. Castro has aimed nuclear weapons at US soil and threatened to start a nuclear war.

    One could argue it was tit-for-tat, the US was equally to blame in the early 60s. But Castro’s aggression continued into the 1970s and beyond.

    The US has changed governments many times and has not shown any military aggression towards Cuba since the 1960s.

    Castro and Co are still in charge in Cuba, still sponsor terrorism and war around the world, and just got caught smuggling arms to North Korea.

    Echos of “Hitler is no threat to world peace” here.

    One doesn’t have to rule a rich country to pose a threat to world peace, just to be a lunatic with a lot of dangerous weapons.

  26. Francisco,

    What is never enforced is never illegal.

    Other posters have pointed out that travel restrictions, even under Bush, were almost never enforced, and never severely punished. Under Obama, restrictions are never enforced at all.

    I believe your travel problems stem from the people you were booking with or the Cuban side. I have met all sorts of Americans in Cuba and none had problems getting there.

    Obama says go visit Cuba and have a look around. You can do it officially or through a third country, which I recommend.

    It will give you a better sense of reality and what you’re up against.

    The reason so few leftists visit Cuba is because they prefer to keep their dreams alive, not because of any restrictions.

    Your plan for a thaw and a better future has to be based in reality, so please visit Cuba and get a taste of Cuban reality.

  27. Hank and Neutral Observer had some good questions and points I am not trying to avoid. Two of Neutral Observer’s are travel restrictions and internet. I am not an expert on either of these subjects, but I will give my thoughts:
    1. I would agree that the Cuban government should allow free travel, but I also disagree with your premise that the Obama administration allows free travel. That is not the case, and it was not my own recent experience. I wanted to go on an agricultural research trip to Cuba earlier this year but the red tape and expense was considerable, required months of planning, and even then the permission spots were extremely limited, so I did not get to go. I am not sure how much it was on the U.S. end and how much was on the Cuba end, but it was definitely not free travel. I do not wish to go illegally through a third country. Maybe one day I will go, but for now other responsibilities prevent my going anyway. Travel to Cuba and to the U.S. from Cuba should be as easy as Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Hispaniola, if not Puerto Rico. Why not? What does either side have to fear? There are many things I would like to learn more pertaining to Cuban sustainable agriculture that I can best learn about through on-site observations. The more Cuban and U.S. people interact, the better. Perhaps the leaders of our countries could pave the way with a summit meeting in Opa-locka, or at least a phone call.
    2. As far as internet availability, I think I agree with you in principle that everyone should have open access to the internet for free or readily affordable prices, but I do not know much about the particulars. I do not know about U.S. or other private companies profiting versus some other way. Unlike Helms-Burton proponents, I do not see a market-based capitalist solution/profit-making opportunity in every public transaction. I would prefer it if profits from the internet, just like with profits from transmission over public airwaves, went to the people as much as possible and not to profiteers, but I certainly agree that full and free or affordable internet usage should be made available to everyone everywhere this is feasible, including in Cuba. This seems like an area where if Cuba had a democratic socialist government, the people could have greater confidence that arrangements were in their best interest, versus the market capitalists (who are sure to make as much money as possible for themselves) on the one hand, as Jeffrey D. Sachs types would prefer, or the unaudited state capitalists (who might, or might not, skim off some profits that should go to do things for the people) on the other. Bolivians found out that allowing privateers to take over public utilities did not serve the people’s best interest, and similar experiences have occurred about the world. Both market capitalism and state capitalism can be inefficient and wasteful from the people’s perspectives, however if I had to choose between the two as it would relate to data transmission, I might opt for state capitalism rather than profiteers, but only if the state capitalism was socialized and controlled by democracy. Where the state capitalism is not controlled by democracy, the problems of interference with privacy of communications, and other state interference with civil rights can be a major problem, as it is in Cuba today. Through an empowered people, decisions like this could be readily made in everyone’s best interest. Certainly even if every home cannot have the internet, each town should have a publicly-provided place for free internet usage. This is how most places on the island of my grandfather in the Canary Islands do it, since some cannot afford it at their residence.

    Hanks’ list was several questions. I will put my answer in brackets:

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship stop murdering dissidents? [If this is occurring at this time, it would be immoral, and I do not know why it would not stop, and I would oppose it with every ounce of my being, and to the extent this has happened in the past, I am terribly sorry and saddened, and it must indeed stop. I read Humberto’s pastes, and I read the arguments going back and forth on who did what, but I am not able to sort everything out, so please do not ask me to be a jury on each dispute.]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship allow freedom of speech, assembly and the right to free elections? [I do not know, and I think it should. I proposed a reasonable way, which would not pass Helms-Burton hypocritical muster, to transition to free elections and civil rights expeditiously through the framework of developing and approving a new constitution. Hopefully the National Review and Jesse Helms types will not insist on drafting the new constitution, as they did a lousy job in the U.S., leading to the Civil War and other problems, and have been founding fathers too many times around the world, to ill effect, forcing state capitalist countries to become market capitalist countries, with austerity imposed on the backs of the poor. I think that it would be nice to have deep democracy for a change, where the people have control of the economy, unlike in the U.S.]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship allow political parties other than the one run by the castro clan? [See previous answer. Please note that Rosa Luxemburg, a devout communist, I think would have agreed with you. I think it would be easier and more likely for Cuba to transition politically without the U.S., including through Helms-Burton and various institutions controlled by the U.S. and capitalism, trying to dictate terms and conditions, including a market economy. ]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship respect human rights? [See previous answers.]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship release its people from slavery? [I think that I have answered the intent of your question in the previous questions. I think that “slavery” is a word I try to be careful with using. The U.S. knows all about slavery from history. Anti-union bosses that exploited my ancestors, however bad they were, were not slave-masters. If one is to use slavery in a loose sense as you do, slavery could be wherever injustice occurs, including economic injustice. In the U.S., human-trafficking is a major problem. The prostitute controlled by her addiction and her pimp feels like a slave. I am not trying to be argumentative, and I basically agree with you, as expressed in my previous answers. I do think, however, that Cuban paternalistic authoritarianism is not anywhere near as bad as many other regimes around the world, by the way, some of which are quite good friends with the U.S. government. I peacefully desire change in any government, including my own, to the extent any deny deep democracy and human rights, but like you, I cannot fight every battle, at least not at the same time. I recognize too that to have this right to peacefully promote change to my own government, which is so important, is not present in Cuba, to I think socialism’s great detriment.]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship free imprisoned political prisoners of conscience? [I do not know, and I agree with you completely that it should.]

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship free imprisoned journalists? [See previous answer.]

    Why does the Cuban dictatorship promote, sponsor and encourage acts of repudiation against its own citizens? [I do not know, and I agree with you completely that these acts should stop. To “verbally abuse, intimidate and sometimes physically assault and throw stones and other objects at homes of Cubans considered to be counter-revolutionary” is cruel, and I would never countenance it. People should not have to live in fear. This happened to my militant labor ancestors living in the U.S., and ultimately society suffers when people cannot speak their minds without fear. We should treat our political opponents with human dignity, except where they themselves are not at that time treating other human beings with human dignity.]

  28. Typo in the penultimate sentence of the Niebuhr quote: “It may on occasion appropriate the policE and the army of the state to defend its interests against internal and external foes.”
    Or its goons in white KKK robes, I might add.

  29. Helms-Burton and before that the Platt Amendment are wonderful examples of hypocrisy in action, cloaking the self-interest of capitalism in the noble of public interest of democracy. The U.S. has not cornered the market, so to speak, on democracy. I believe strongly in democracy, and I want to see deep democracy all around the world, but without a framework of economic justice, political democracy and its institutions and laws can become the essence of hypocrisy. People like the Koch Brothers are quite comfortable with democracy as long as they can control it. If you don’t like Marx, the Jesuits, or Orwell for your social analysis, and want a protestant Christian, perhaps try Reinhold Neibuhr, a favorite of many democratic socialists, including yours truly. Before concluding with the need to “discount a still widely held conviction that the democratic movement has given society a permanent solution for its vexing problems of power and justice” he wrote this monumentally important long paragraph in “Moral Man and Immoral Society” (Scribner, 1932), pp. 14-15:
    “The rise of modern democracy, beginning with the Eighteenth Century, is sometimes supposed to have substituted the consent of the governed for the power of royal families and aristocratic classes as the cohesive force of national society. This judgment is partly true but not nearly as true as the uncritical devotees of modern democracy assume. The doctrine of government exists by the consent of the governed, and the democratic technique by which the suffrage of the governed determines the policy of the state, may actually reduce the coercive factor in national life, and provide for peaceful and gradual methods of resolving conflicting social interests and changing political institutions. But the creeds and institutions of democracy have never become fully divorced from the special interests of the commercial classes who conceived and developed them. It was their interest to destroy political restraint upon economic activity, and they therefore weakened the authority of the state and made it more pliant to their needs. With the increased centralization of economic power in the period of modern industrialism, this development merely means that society as such does not control economic power as much as social well-being requires; and that the economic, rather than the political and military, power has become the significant coercive force of modern society. Either it defies the authority of the state or it bends the institutions of the state to its purposes. Political power has been made responsible, but economic power has become irresponsible in society. The net result is that political power has been made more responsible to economic power. It is, in other words, again the man of power or the dominant class which binds society together, regulates its processes, always paying itself inordinate rewards for its labors. The difference is that owners of factories, rather than owners of land, exert the power, and that it is more purely economic and less military than that which was wielded by the landed aristocrats. Needless to say, it is not completely divorced from military power. It may on occasion appropriate the policy and the army of the state to defend its interests against internal and external foes. The military power has become the hired servant and is no longer the progenitor of economic ownership.”

  30. Francisco,
    I have met many people from the USA who share your points of view regarding your country’s policy towards Cuba.
    It is just that they don’t seem to show up on here so much.
    I applaud the stance that you take.
    A pre-requisite to any thaw surely must be total respect towards Cuba’s sovereignty and it’s right to decide its own path. (If Cuba were to be some kind of threat to the USA then that would be different, but it is quite obvious that there is no threat).

  31. So Neutral Observer, I think that hypocrisy is critical to understanding the situation, and not irrelevant at all. The whole world other than the U.S., and one good Canadian I should say, sees it that way. If the embargo were only about democracy and human rights, you’d have a good argument (but even then, the embargo should go because it is counterproductive, even if it also did not try to dictate what a democratic transition should look like, which it does). But the embargo is about a market economy and property distribution in Cuba, which is none of the U.S.’s business. That is what mattered to Nixon and Kissinger, that is what matters to Helms and Burton, and that is what matters to fat cat Cuban-American ex-patriots, including those who have done a great deal of harm to the Everglades.

  32. My very first comments at this blog a couple weeks ago explored the issue of what is more important, capitalism or democracy and human rights. Helms types answer with their inconsistency toward China and Saudi-type states that it is capitalism. The whole world but the U.S. sees this.

  33. Francisco,

    Arguments against the embargo based on hypocrisy are flawed.

    We are all hypocrites, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing good. Just because Saudi Arabia is evil, that doesn’t mean an embargo against Cuba is bad.

    The only rational argument is based on what is wrong with the embargo itself, rather than accuse others of hypocrisy.

    Since there is very little left of the embargo, I see it as a non-issue, except for propaganda purposes.

    Obama lets Americans send all the financial support they want to Cuba. He also lets Americans travel to Cuba without any hassle.

    Maybe Castro should end his embargo of the USA, especially regarding travel?

    Maybe he will let American companies sell high-speed internet to Cuba, like they would like to?

  34. Land distribution or redistribution in Cuba none of the U.S.’s business. Jesse Helms types were happy to benefit from stolen Aboriginal lands and the sweat of African-American slaves. Marx was right about capitalist hypocrisy when it comes to conveniently forgetting how property distribution came to be.

  35. Francisco,

    I forgot to respond that I agree with your abhorrence of wackos like the KKK and other neo-Nazis. The government should crack down on any group that promotes hatred and violence, whatever their beliefs.

    The equivalent of your old South lynchings and KKK parades also occurred in Cuba as repudiation rallies and anti-American parades, etc.

    Fortunately for Cuba, most participants were forced to attend, or else the bloodshed would have been a lot worse.

    Which is why I have a very high regard for the Cuban people.

    Hopefully the thaw you hope for will occur and Castro will end public and private lynchings of his critics.

  36. Helms-Burton is an icon for U.S. hypocrisy. Democracy in China? Saudi Arabia? No big deal.

    It is not the U.S.’s business to dictate. It never was. The Platt Amendment century should have never been. It is not the U.S.’s business to tell Cuba what a democracy looks like or who should define it. The Congress might want to try democracy more and maybe the U.S. wouldn’t be so messed up itself. Cuba’s historic leaders can play a positive role, but not when the U.S. tells Cuba: Prohibits recognition of a transitional government in Cuba that includes Fidel or Raúl Castro

  37. Helms-Burton is about “a peaceful transition to a representative democracy and market economy in Cuba.” It is none of the U.S.’s business whether Cuba has a market economy. This National Review bubble is a big part of the U.S. being frozen in time and perceived as biased around the world.

  38. I left out the word “just” after economically: “But a society which tries to be economically need not be repressive.”

    I have also spoken about the negative effects of “party discipline.” That goes to both sides.

  39. I think each side needs to thaw for its own reasons. Each side is stuck in the past. I believe each side should move unilaterally to do the things I have tried to outline because it is the right thing to do for each side. It is not about painstaking negotiations but about each side for its own reasons changing to do the things that they seem to be unable to negotiate. If we want to have another 54 years of dithering, with all the attendant hardships and injustices, we should keep doing more of the same. To the extent Helms-Burton is a cause for the U.S. being frozen vis a vis Cuba it needs to be changed. Everything that President Obama can do, including pushing for repeal of that law, he should do. If people want things to remain as the status quo, we should just keep venting and not seeking a full suite of needed major changes on both sides with all deliberate speed.

    You and I, perhaps on opposite sides of many things, including domestic politics and economics, have to be the instigators of change pressuring both sides as much as we can from below to change. If you and I continue to be pushed into being against each other, and either for the Cuban leadership and its practices and behaviors or for the U.S. leadership and its practices and behaviors, the leadership will have an excuse to not pick up the hot potato. They do not want to pick up the hot potato. I want the leaders on both sides to pick up the hot potato and will not wait on the Cuban government to change before pushing for my own government to change.

    I have a tiny bit of control over the U.S. government through my vote and my digital voice, so that is what I use. I have gotten off the sideline in my own country, which is why I am writing these comments, etc. I also feel I have a tiny bit of ability to speak to the PCC as one of the world’s many socialists who want the success of socialism all around the world, including Cuba, because we actually believe in socialism’s uplifting potential for humanity. Cuba is the bell-weather for socialism. If it can reform and democratize, this is good for my cause all around the world, including in the U.S. One reason socialism is a pariah in the U.S. is that the right can always point to repression and identify that with socialism, which is not what I, as a democratic socialist, believe should be identified with socialism.

    Now specifically, on the human rights issues, which are of fundamental importance, I do not think that all or most of that can be blamed on the embargo, Gitmo, the Bay of Pigs, or the CIA, at least any longer. Cuba has to move on from being a closed society for its own development as a more fully humane society. I have my own religious rational for that, in part arising from the Jesuit views of social justice I have mentioned, where justice always must be tied into love. You may not share those views, but I know that you are outraged at human rights abuses. I am outraged about these abuses too. I think that it is inexcusable for one human being to be deprived of their human rights, much less tens of thousands. I cannot re-litigate the past, however. This is not 1959, the year I was born, anymore. “We,” human beings on all sides of the issues, having lived through enough wars, hot and cold, have to move forward peaceably and productively where we can. We can move forward on the Cuba-U.S. relationship, which is far less difficult for humanity to manage than the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance.

    Regardless of whether President Obama and the U.S. do the right things as I have tried to outline, President Raul Castro needs to change Cuban society to go from closed to open. I am not going to go into detail here because I have written a pamphlet and some detailed posts and comments on the subject, arguing that the Cuban leadership needs to change Cuban governance and treatment of human rights for its own reasons.

    I cannot sort out which cases of alleged injustice are real and which ones are unsubstantiated. But a society which tries to be economically need not be repressive. Socialists who have reflexively become authoritarians or supported authoritarians have done our cause and the people we stand for a great disservice.

  40. Getting back to the thaw business.

    It seems Obama has done so much to thaw relations with Castro, but Castro has hardly budged.

    How about freedom to travel for one. Most Cubans still don’t have that right.

    Or how about letting Cuban exiles visit their families in Cuba? Wouldn’t that help the cause of reconciliation?

    The USA lets Mariela Castro and other high-profile communists visit and lecture in the USA. It is time for Castro to let Humberto Matos and other exiles visit and lecture in Cuban schools.

    OK, we know that won’t happen, how about just letting them visit the land of their birth and see their families?

    On the other side, some previous posters have complained how hard it is to bring Cuban family and friends to visit the USA.

    I can honestly say that it is equally difficult to bring Cuban relatives and friends to visit Canada.

    So when people blame the USA embargo for all this, I know they are lying.

    It is up to Castro to let all his people go. Not just his daughter, a few lucky communists, and a few dissidents for PR.

  41. Let’s discuss facts.

    Most of the Miami hard-line anti-Castro community fought against Batista and were on the left or center of the political spectrum. They were betrayed and jailed by Castro. So many became hard-core anti-Communists because Castro is the head of the Cuban Communist Party.

    Calling such people Batistianos, mercenaries, etc, like Nick and the loony left do, is a dishonest use of language, based on willful ignorance and irrepressible hatred.

    As is calling Alan Gross a fool or the Ladies in White mercenaries and CIA agents.

    You may disagree with Humberto’s use of the term fascist to describe Castro, but at least it is his honest interpretation of the word.

  42. Francisco,

    You misunderstand my remarks. None should be insulting to you or your ancestors.

    I just pointed out that the slogans and beliefs of the loony right (Nazis, KKK, etc) and loony left (Stalinists, Friends of Castro, Workers socialist party, etc) are very similar. If you go to a neo-Nazi website or a Friends of Castro website, it is hard to tell the difference except for the uniforms.

    And the definition of fascism fits Castro’s Cuba very closely. So why get upset if people call Castro a fascist?

    I would not get upset if you called Franco a fascist, although I think he was much less a fascist than Castro.

    Just because communist and socialist parties often supported guys like Hitler, doesn’t mean all communists and socialists did. Some fought against him anyways. Many conservatives and right-wingers fought against Hitler too.

    So calling a communist a fascist is no more insulting than calling a conservative or Republican a fascist, like the loony left likes to do.

  43. Change cannot be stopped. The regime fears everything, including its own people. It is a very dangerous idea for the regime to tolerate even a small group of people to have free access to the internet. They must feel fear of losing control of the information, and the internet is very difficult to control.

  44. I ALWAYS GET THAT FUZZY FEELING WHEN I SEE THESE CASTRO AGENTS/APOLOGISTS CONTINUE TO APROVE OF THE 54+ YEARS OF THE CASTRO FAMILY OLIGARCHY, MAFIA RULING THE ISLAND PRISON OF CUBA! AND HOW THEY EQUATE THE CUBAN PEOPLE WITH THE CASTRO CLAN! THEY ARE SOO CUTE WITH THEIR “COMMUNIST/SOCIALIST ROSE COLORED GLASSES”! COME ON GUYS, GET TOGETHER AND SAY CHEESE FOR A NICE VIRTUAL PICTURE!

    ALONG THE MALECON BLOG PHOTOS: Exiled dissidents discuss joining forces – Exiled Cuban dissidents gathered Sunday in Miami to talk about ways to unite opposition to Cuba’s socialist government. The event was called “Primer Encuentro Fraternal de Opositores Cubanos.” I am writing a story about the meeting for Cuba News.- Tracey Eaton is a journalist in Florida. He was the Dallas Morning News bureau chief in Cuba from 2000 to early 2005. Before that, he headed the paper’s Mexico City bureau.
    He has written freelance articles for the Florida Center for Investigative Journalism, USA Today, Junior Scholastic, CubaNews, Cubaencuentro in Madrid and other publications. Eaton is a former Fulbright scholar in Ecuador. He attended la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City and has a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University. He has been a staff writer at seven daily newspapers, including the Miami Herald, the Fort Myers News-Press and the Orange County Register. He was metropolitan editor at the Houston Chronicle before moving to Florida. Eaton is a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors and the National Press Photographers Association. He has conducted journalism workshops in Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and has been an invited speaker at conferences in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Cuba. He teaches journalism classes at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.

    http://alongthemalecon.blogspot.com/2013/10/exiled-dissidents-discuss-joining-forces.html

  45. Francisco,

    So, what do you propose – on the Cuban dictatorship side of this coin – that might lead to the “thaw” you’d like to see in Cuban dictatorship and US government relations?

    What do you think the regime in Cuba should do to help bring about this thaw? What, exactly, do you mean by a thaw, Francisco?

    I’m not asking for a nine page discourse.

    All I ever hear from you guys is why doesn’t the U.S. do X? Why doesn’t the U.S. do Y?

    Here are some questions for you:

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship stop murdering dissidents?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship allow freedom of speech, assembly and the right to free elections?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship allow political parties other than the one run by the castro clan?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship respect human rights?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship release its people from slavery?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship free imprisoned political prisoners of conscience?

    Why doesn’t the Cuban dictatorship free imprisoned journalists?

    Why does the Cuban dictatorship promote, sponsor and encourage acts of repudiation against its own citizens?

    Why, Francisco? Why?

    The last time I checked, Helms-Burton is still the law of the land. If you have a problem with that, change the law. We have mechanisms for doing that here in this great country of ours. In Cuba, if you try to change the law, you get killed.

Comments are closed.