Speaking of Resolutions

To climb to the sky… you need a big ladder and a little one. Photo: Silvia Corbelle

Any day is a good day to start a project, to realize a dream. However, at the beginning of each year we repeat the ritual of setting goals for the coming twelve months. Some of them will be met, others will remain unfinished and added to the agenda for the following January. There are those that address personal matters, like having more time for family, playing sports, making that postponed visit to the dentist… but the list can also be tilted toward professional aspirations such as changing jobs, finishing some research, getting a degree in a new subject.

I’ve asked some friends and acquaintances what their desires are for 2014 and the answers are a kaleidoscope of intentions.From “get strong in the neighborhood gym,” “sell the biketaxi to buy a motorcycle,” “fix the roof”… to “finish my university degree,” “reunite the whole family in Miami,” “make a video,” or “open my own snack bar.” Visas to emigrate remain among the commonly shared desires, particularly for young people. To the point that many professional plans are primarily aimed at accumulating resources so as to be able to leave the country. Nearly six years after they were begun, the so-called “Raul reforms” have not managed to significantly improve our individual standard of living or the national economy.

Personally, after a 2013 that changed my life, my sequence of projects is so diverse as to be impossible to complete in its full scope. I will continue offering courses to teach people how to use the new technologies. This year my dream of an independent digital media will finally see the light, a project that has had me running all over the place the last few weeks. Like all births it will bring rupture, pain, joys and anxieties. In the coming weeks I will publish the schedule for the “birth.” Stay tuned.

In my room there is a mountain of books that I would like to read for the first — or the umpteenth — time. How deluded am I to believe I will have the free time to do it?! I want to return to the pages of the masterful Kapuscinski, reconnect with Truman Capote, and find some texts of Javier Cercas that are missing in my library. I will continue to devour magazines about apps, gadgets, software… because, I confess, every year I am little geekier.

Friends and readers have an important place in my annual plans. Hopefully I can pamper you a little more, spending time in good conversation with a coffee in front of us. To those who are far away, I only hope that “the gods of technology” will take pity on me and give me greater access to the Internet so that I can answer your emails. But you already know, Olympus is capricious and Zeus does not release the lightning bolt of connectivity.

My house, my little family, my plants and animals, which complicate my life and make it happy, are also among the priorities. I can’t complain, really, because they don’t ask for much and they give me everything. I hope to review with my son his first lessons in philosophy, and to bring Reinaldo to that “dirty piece of sea” we made ours twenty years ago. I will focus on them. Because in times of increasing pressure, they have been the people I love who have helped me to keep smiling.

The center of all my plans is my country. Without it I would have neither home, nor family, nor friends, nor things to write about, not plans to make… nor even a potted yagruma to care for. Although I know that home can be anywhere, mine, I have decided — for good or ill — is located on this Island. I stay, despite so many acquaintances having departed and the continued blocking of the great national potential by an outdated and intolerant power. I stay, also, to help create, through journalism and information, a free, democratic, prosperous and inclusive Cuba.

As you can see, I have in hand the list of resolutions for 2014. I will have to cross some out along the way. Which? I don’t know. But for now I like to think that all of them are possible.

49 thoughts on “Speaking of Resolutions

  1. Thanks Hank.

    I had no idea slapping around kids and stealing their Christmas toys was such a complex issue.

    I am very guilty of good-bad non-contextual thinking and just thought that Castro’s secret police were the bad guys here.

    Perhaps I should reread my Marx and Castro.

  2. Some of you recently saw pictures of Castro’s Peugot dealership in Havana where he sells cars for between 100,000 and 300,000 dollars a pop.

    Until a few weeks ago, GM, the big bad capitalist US car company, owned a 7% stake in Peugot.

    Although they just sold their unprofitable stake, GM and Peugot are still allies.


    By the way, spare parts for all those 50s Chevys running around Havana are available on the international market.

    It is not rocket science to manufacture a carburetor for an old car. Even the Soviets could have done it.

    Castro made it impossible to import them, that’s all.

    And then blamed it on a non-existent embargo.

    Do you think Castro knows GM is one of his allies?

  3. Marabu, you are right, no leader should permit thinking. It’s very dangerous.

    Hitler also said the same thing.

    He liked burning books, like Stalin and Castro.

  4. HUMBY !!!!!!!!!
    re your comment @ 9.03pm:
    You are absolutely right !!!!
    Please accept my profound apologies.
    It was just downright wrong, unfair and charmless of me to go calling this new Humberto by a name I normally reserve for Your Royal Self.
    You are right in saying that the new Humberto does not have THE “OLD QUEEN FROM CALIFORNIA” CROWN! that belongs exclusively to you!!
    Furthermore, comparing the two photos, this new Humberto, although perfectly normal looking,
    cannot possibly compare with your dashing and youthful, good looks.

  5. A thought of a great leader:

    Ideas are more powerful then guns. If we don’t allow our enemies to carry guns, why should we allow them thieir own ideas?

    – Joseph Stalin –

  6. Humberto,

    Once again you’ve taken a perfectly rational, justifiable and logically defensible act on the part of the benevolent Castro overlordshipnessness and “removed [it] from all relevant context.” How could you?! The Castros have won landslide elections, over and over again, since the beginning of time, which according to all revolutionary clocks started on January 1, 1959.

    Getting back to that perfectly rational, justifiable and logically defensible act – I refer, of course, to the theft of toys meant for children in Cuba en el dia de los Reyes Magos (the Wise Kings Day) – giving toys to kids in Cuba is highly subversive and counterrevolutionary, don’t you know that? I know what you’re thinking. But stop. This is way, way more complicated, and complex, and beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals.

    There are so many layers of complexity here that you cannot even imagine. You’d need an NSA quantum supercomputer to decipher the complexity, so don’t even try! The only hint I can give you is to try not to remove your thoughts from the “relevant context.” There are no “Yes” or “No” answers here, No Sir!

    Think of the larger picture, Man! Each and every one of those children’s toys from los Reyes Magos could have undermined the authority of King Raul. A train set that actually works and doesn’t fall off the tracks? Dangerous! A red fire truck with wheels and a ladder? Scary! A yellow Tonka truck with a crane?! Forget about it!! Once that stuff gets into the hands of eight and nine year olds in Cuba, all bets are off. Revolution over.

    Everyone knows the only Wise King in Cuba is Raul. Ok, Fidel used to be the only wise King, but his latest insufferable rants are a little embarrassing to the “Wise King” franchise, so we don’t like to talk about him much anymore. We used to. But not anymore. So just stop, OK? Jeez.

    By the way, there’s a new book I’m looking forward to reading by George Fowler that was published last year in 2013. The title of the book is “My Cuba Libre: Bringing Fidel Castro to Justice.” From what I understand, Mr. Fowler seeks to perfect an indictment of the S.O.B. for crimes against humanity. The book is available on Amazon.

    How’s that for some good news? And please take this tongue-in-cheek post for what it is. Your posts are great and I am your biggest fan! Saludos.

  7. Nick said on January 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm:
    Oh no! HUMBY! You got competition fella…There another Humby.



    UNCOMMON SENSE BLOG: December was banner month for political repression in Cuba – by Marc R. Masferrer
    December was a banner month for political repression in Cuba, with the Hablemos Press (CIHPRESS) news agency and human rights monitor this week reporting 853 political arrests. That was the highest monthly total reported in 2013 and enough to raise the annual count to 5,718, the most recorded since CIHPRESS began keeping track in 2010. I guess Cubans are lucky dictator Raul “The Grinch” Castro is a “reformer,” or conditions might really be intolerable on the island. Of the arrests reported in December, more than 350 occurred on a single day, Dec. 10, or International Human Rights Day. You know, the same day Castro shook hands with U.S. President Barack Obama. For details on each arrest recorded by CIHPRESS in Decmber, read the group’s report here.


    THE GUARDIAN UK: Cuba’s classic cars are icons of oppression that deserve scrapping – It’s deeply distasteful that we prefer to admire an Oldsmobile than consider the communist dictatorship that led to its survival – by Mark Wallace

    This is patronising nonsense. As the experience of the rest of the world shows, if Cubans had the choice they would have abandoned their clapped-out Studebakers and Oldsmobiles long ago. The only reason they didn’t is that the communist dictatorship that rules them did not allow it.

    In a classic example of some being more equal than others, only senior party officials and a smattering of celebrities deemed of use to the party have been allowed to buy new vehicles from abroad over the past 60 years.

    The motor museum driving Cuba’s roads each day might seem quaint to tourists, who can go back to their air-conditioned, reliable and safe modern cars when their holiday is over – in reality the sight is a symptom of the way in which dictatorship runs down the lives of those forced to labour beneath it.

    The tourist attitude is a form of rubbernecking at misfortune, of the type that has commonly become unacceptable in decent society. While our Victorian ancestors thought it quaint to set up villages of what they considered to be primitive Africans at shows in Britain, today we rightly act to end the misery of poverty instead of gawping at it. Somehow Cuba has managed to escape that trend. While Iran and North Korea are seen for what they really are, the last outpost of dictatorship in the Americas is let off lightly, all Buena Vista Social Club tracks, mojitos and sun-soaked beaches.

    Whatever the cause, it’s deeply distasteful that we prefer to admire old cars than consider the system that led to their survival – extensive censorship of the media, vast police surveillance, near-total restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, arbitrary arrest and torture of journalists and dissidents. There is a good reason why large numbers of Cubans have fled to the US in recent decades, and why people still take the desperate measure of cobbling together rafts and trying to float across the Caribbean, risking their lives to be free.

    Raúl Castro’s relaxation of the rules on car imports is only a baby step towards true freedom in Cuba, of course. For a start, the state still imposes huge taxes on car imports, leading to Peugeot 508s going on sale for $262,000 under the new rules. But it’s a start. Once a little freedom is let into a society, inevitably people demand more.



  9. I denounce the barbarism of the capitalist Hong-Kong press, which publishes stories of horror which only a fantasy movie could beat. The Korean people will know to resist this verbal agression against their leader.

    This false, cheap, primitive journalism has found its echo in a forum of a remote Cuba.

    But a similiar story might appear im Miami press at any time, with cuban leader as protagonist.
    In this sense the topic is Cuba-relevant, too.

  10. Will so call “Progressives”, like Nick and Marabu, denounce this barbarism? Would they keep supporting Kim Jong Un Middle Ages regime in North Korea? Would they view him as a great leader?

    We have to go back to the ancient Rome Empire, during the times of Caligula and Nero, when Christians were thrown to the lions as a warning for their citizens what the consequences will be if they decide to join the new religion. No doubt that Kim Jong Un view them as great leaders.

  11. You are taking “multi-party” literally, Marabu, and completely missing the point.

    “Multi-party” means the government allows opposition who are free to criticize and to run for election.

    Free is the key-word here.

    If Castro allowed free opposition in the Communist Party, that would be fine and amount to the same thing.

    Then everybody would be free to criticize and run against Castro.

    But someone who doesn’t allow independent opposition parties obviously will not allow free opposition within the ruling party either.

    Cubans haven’t voted freely in 55 years, even for the mayor of the smallest village or the president of the smallest sports club.

    You and Nick know this.

    Because as much as some of you are deluded, none of you wants freedom of speech or free elections in Cuba.

    As you keep reminding us.

  12. @Nick,

    I also think you should clearly say “I am against muli-party elections because I respect the choice of the cuban people”. You may add your own arguments on topt of it.

    Multiparty elections is a system where anyone can promise anything any say “Vote for me”. By making unrealistic promises which cannot be fulfilled the winner, or the winnig party will lose the next election.

    The hook is, that they will have 4 or 5 years to stay in power. Four years to steal. Four years to put the “amigos” on the boards of the top corporations. The party which follows will repeat the game four years laters, but by then ETECSA, Cubana Aviacion, Cubanacan and Banco Popular will long be in the private hands.

    The cuban people, under the guidance of the Communist Party of Cuba, know all this. By massve participation in the elections process (in the 90% range) they say:


  13. Nick was more explicit in his early posts on this blog, where he openly said he was against free multi-party elections.

    To paraphrase “Cuba already has democracy. I’ve been there and seen it. The USA ain’t a real democracy. Go mind your own business. Blah, blah, blah”

    Insert “Nazi Germany” in the above and you have the words of Adolf Hitler’s supporters during WW2.

  14. Hank,

    Translation of Nick into English:

    No, Cubans should not be allowed to vote in free multi-party elections.

    Nick thinks the road to Scandinavian social democracy is through a one-party fascist dictatorship.

    I think Nick should read some Scandinavian history.

  15. Hopefully, no withstanding the fraternal friendship between the Castroit tyrannical dynasty and the North Korea barbarian dynastical tyranny, this type of execution wouldn’t be copy in Cuba.

    Raúl Castro is impulsive, dogmatic and sometimes brutal, in 1959, during the surrender of Santiago, the second largest Cuban city; Raul presided over the execution of more than 70 soldiers and officers who were machine-gunned and their corpses thrown into a ditch.


    EPIPHANY. which traditionally falls on January 6, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.[4]

    MIAMI HERALD: Cuban children treated to scaled-down celebration in Havana following toy raid – by Juan Tamayo
    Cuba’s dissident Ladies in White treated 55 children to cake and candies in a Three Kings Day gathering Saturday in Havana, hit hard by police raiders who seized toys that were to be distributed but supported by an emergency wire transfer of cash from Miami.

    Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), meanwhile reported that similar police raids in eastern Cuba seized $600 to $900 in cash, five laptops and all the toys from dissidents who planned three other kids’ parties.

    Authorities also seized $8,000 in private savings from activist Aimee Garces, who recently sold her family home and buys and sells clothes, and $300 sent to Ferrer’s daughter by an aunt in the United States, he said.

    Ferrer and 43 other activists were detained early Friday as police raided dissident homes in Santiago de Cuba, Palma Soriano and Palmarito de Cauto to break up the planned parties for kids. Ferrer was one of the last to be freed, at 9 p.m. Friday.

    The dissident UNPACU is now trying to gather the minimum necessary supplies to host the parties planned for more than 200 kids, he added, but may have to wait until after Three Kings Day on Jan. 6.

    In Havana, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler said the women went ahead with a party for 55 children, gathered at the group’s headquarters Saturday, although police raiders seized all the toys and other party supplies on Friday.

    The women managed to find some small story books for the kids, Soler said, and to buy three cakes, some candy canes and balloons, in part with a swift Western Union money transfer from Cubans in Miami.



  17. Hank,
    If you are unable or unwilling to follow my reply to your question then that’s not my problem.
    If you wish to reduce the debate to a simplistic ‘yes or no’, then dream on…
    The world aint that simple.

    ‘Many people in Cuba have told me that a robust democracy of a Scandinavian style model would be a goal to aim at as this is arguably the best version of liberal social democracy on the planet.
    I would certainly not be one to disagree with those that state this as a goal.’

    Exactly which bit of the above paragraph do you not understand Hank?

  18. Cubans should be allowed to have free elections in Cuba and a multiparty system.

    Yes or No, Nick. It is a simple, Yes or No question.

  19. Hank,
    I understand that you are passionate in your views and perhaps a little wound up.
    I would strongly suggest that your use of the terms ‘slave’ and ‘slavery’ are grossly inappropriate.
    This is offensive to the many people who are trafficked from poor parts of the world to wealthy parts of the world to work in enslaved conditions.
    I would suggest that it is also offensive to the great many people in Cuba whose ancestors were brought in chains by The Spanish from Africa to Cuba to work on sugar plantations.

    Contrary to what you seem to believe, I do not presume to be in a position to state what should or should not occur in Cuba.
    I can only state an objective opinion.

    It is my opinion that what currently passes for a ‘democratic electoral process’ according to the current Cuban Government is inadequate.
    I wish for a much improved and inclusive form of democracy.

    It is also my hope that Cuba does not end up with a system whereby ‘elected’ politicians are merely facilitators for all pervasive undemocratic corporate interests.
    Many people in Cuba have told me that a robust democracy of a Scandinavian style model would be a goal to aim at as this is arguably the best version of liberal social democracy on the planet.
    I would certainly not be one to disagree with those that state this as a goal.
    Cuba has a massive welfare spending bill as a percentage of GDP.
    The way in which this welfare commitment is delivered is, in my opinion, imperfect.
    I would not wish for a political system in Cuba that seeks to cut this social welfare commitment.
    Nobody I have ever met in Cuba has stated a preference for this social welfare commitment to be discontinued, only for it to be maintained and then improved.

    To get to such a goal from the current situation will not be easy and will not happen overnight.
    It is my opinion that those who would like to see some sort of ‘victory’, over the current Cuban Government are merely getting in the way of a move towards this goal and that this is also a dangerous point of view.
    The very last thing that I would wish for Cuba would be anything resembling the bloody catastrophes that occurred to a greater or lesser degree in certain parts of post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

    I am not saying this to wind you up Hank, but it is my opinion that recalcitrance on the two main sides of a multi-faceted, complex and delicate situation is the biggest stumbling block to getting anywhere close to achieving such a goal.

  20. Truth is frequently very unpleasant and offensive, Nick. Slavery in Cuba under the dictatorship of the Castros is an unpleasant, offensive, disgusting truth. You don’t seem to want to talk about it or acknowledge it.

    Let’s try this:

    Cubans should be allowed to have free elections in Cuba and a multiparty system.

    Yes or No, Nick

  21. @Nick, a general remark:

    You say the losers are twisting your comments. Sure, but this is just the beginning.
    If your comment can’t be twisted, then they will make up what you have supposedly said.
    And if this won’t work they’ll turn into personal offences.

    This was Cuba before 1959. Slaves of the US Empire whose only chance to avoid the whip was a lie. Some of them are still alive, as we can see.

    It is good that all these Hanks and Neutral Observers are posting here. They are the best evidence that the Revolution is a worthy cause.

  22. Hank,
    I am not going to waste my time giving much of a response to your latest simplistic statements.
    They merely reinforce what I stated in my previous comment.
    Your persistent and inappropriate use of the term ‘slaves’ weather as an attempt at insulting myself or as a way of describing a country you have never been to, is highly unpleasant and is offensive to the many people, historically or currently, who were or who are kept in actual slavery.
    It would perhaps be wise to pause for thought a little before repeating the mis-use of this term.
    Your mis-use of this term is very offensive.

  23. Cuba is an island of 11 million slaves under the brutal rule of the Castro brothers. Yes or no, Nick.

  24. Cubans should be allowed to have free elections in Cuba and a multiparty system.

    Yes or No, Nick

  25. Hank,
    Yet again you misinterpret my comments which are written in perfectly plain decipherable English. Perhaps your misinterpretations are wilful and entirely deliberate.
    And yet again Hank, you persist in making your factually incorrect remarks:
    You suggest that I ‘want the Cubans who still live on that island to continue to be enslaved.’
    This is a twisting of my comments that is factually incorrect and way, way, way beyond absurd.

    What you cannot seem to understand (or prefer not to understand?) is that there is more than one side to the debate. There are perfectly rational and intelligent people on all sides.
    Seeing more than side of the debate goes against everything you seem to have been spoon-fed.
    Learning to understand that there is more than one side to an argument would be a valuable life-skill and would definitely improve your ability to engage in intelligent and reasoned debate.

    Unfortunately your belligerence and recalcitrance is highly typical of BOTH SIDES in the on-going stand off between the US Government/Miami hardliners and The Cuban Government.
    Such belligerence and recalcitrance will never lead to an improvement in US-Cuban relations nor to a better/more prosperous future for Cuban people.
    Neither will trotting out the same tired old one-sided narrative whilst presuming to be on some kind of moral high ground. Again I must point out that this is typical of both sides.

    I feel confident that Cuba will come to have a better future despite the current dominance of recalcitrant attitudes on both sides.
    Perhaps Hank, you simply prefer not to acknowledge that debates are complex and you prefer the comfort zone of your ‘good vs bad’ little bubble.

    Suggesting that I have slaves is really scraping the barrel in terms of needless insults.

    However I am aware that the increase of people-trafficking and slave labour in the UK, the USA and other countries is of increasing concern and is a nasty and disgraceful symptom of the prevailing cut-throat, neo liberalist, economic climate.

  26. Even more amusing is watching Nick and Marabu, the Laurel and Hardy of this site, getting all lathered up because Yoani wants to read a book.

    It’s called having a library, dimwits. What’s the title of last book you read?

  27. Nick believes that Cubans should not be allowed to have free elections in Cuba and a multiparty system.

  28. @Simba
    No, no, in 1958 in Cuba it was allright to overthrow the government.
    I meant don’t do it today, because you would have the wrath of people against you.

  29. Nick,

    Correcting you continues to be a tedious, full-time job.

    First: Anti-Castro dictatorship sentiment is not a partisan issue in the United States.

    Cuban-American majorities have elected Cuban-American Democrats on many occasions, from Alex Penelas and Kathy Fernandez-Rundle in Miami-Dade County to Bob Menendez and Albio Sires in New Jersey.

    Second: The physical location of a Cuban, whether in the United States, Bahrain, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong or Timbuktu does not preclude any Cuban from having a “choice” regarding the future of Cuba, in spite of your narrow-minded proclamation that it somehow should. Your arrogant statements about what Cubans can and cannot do are nauseating.

    Third: You’ve made it quite clear what you believe in your posts. You want the Cubans who still live on that island to continue to be enslaved. This is the 21st century, Nick. How many slaves do you own?

  30. Simba Sez: I quote Marabu “One thing, however, it true: Jang Song Thaek has been executed.”
    Do you care to divulge how you know this to be a fact? It may be no more factual than the story about being eaten alive by hungry dogs, although I’ve read both in many places.

    I quote again Marabu “My lesson: there could be only one leader. Do not try to overthrow the government.” Do I understand that you are saying Fidel Castro and his unGodly crew of usurpers were entirely wrong in 1958? That appears to be so uncharacteristic of your usual mewling and bootlicking self.

  31. A similar story, a plain bunch of lies with no witnesses, photos or other evidence quoted, may appear about Cuba at any time:


    China might have a disagrement with North Korea at the moment and such story serves to isolate Noth Korea and to make it more dependant on China.

    One thing, however, it true: Jang Song Thaek has been executed.

    My lesson: there could be only one leader. Do not try to overthrow the government.

  32. Eaten to death by dogs !!???
    What a truly terrible revelation.
    It is also something of an unexpected revelation that Sandokan is posting reports that have, as their source, a pro Chinese Communist Party newspaper…
    What’s happened??
    Has Sandokan become a red??
    Did Santy Claus bring Sandokan a copy of Mao Tse-tung’s Little Red Book Special Commemorative Christmas Edition??

    Whatever next???

  33. What a terrible way to die, being torn apart and eating by starving dogs. This terrible ordeal lasted for at least one hour. In North Korea it is dog eat dog, one day you are near the top, like Kim Jong’s uncle, the next you are throw to the dogs.

  34. Kim Jong Uns executed uncle was eaten alive by 120 hungry dogs: report

    Kim Jone Un’s uncle Jang Song Thaek is dragged into court by uniformed personnel prior to last month’s execution

    By Eric Baculinao and Alexander Smith, NBC News
    Jan 3, 2014 4:39 AM EST
    BEIJING — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful uncle was stripped naked, thrown into a cage, and eaten alive by a pack of ravenous dogs, according to a newspaper with close ties to China’s ruling Communist Party.
    Jang Song Thaek, who had been considered Kim’s second-in-command, was executed last month after being found guilty of “attempting to overthrow the state,” North Korea’s state-run news agency reported.
    The official North Korean account on Dec. 12 did not specify how Jang was put to death.
    U.S. officials told NBC News on Friday that they could not confirm the reports. “This is not ringing any bells here,” said one senior official.
    Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po reported that Jang and his five closest aides were set upon by 120 hunting hounds which had been starved for five days.
    Kim and his brother Kim Jong Chol supervised the one-hour ordeal along with 300 other officials, according to Wen Wei Po. The newspaper added that Jang and other aides were “completely eaten up.”
    The newspaper has acted as a mouthpiece for China’s Communist Party. The report may be a sign of the struggle between those in the party who want to remain engaged with North Korea and those who would like to distance themselves from Kim’s regime.
    Jang was seen by many experts as a regent behind North Korea’s Kim dynasty and a key connection between the hermit nation and its ally China.
    In the highly scripted execution, North Korea accused him of “attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.”
    Kim’s government also accused him of corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs, and referred to him as “despicable human scum.”
    Jang was married to Kim’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il.
    Alexander Smith reported from London; NBC News’ Robert Windrem contributed to this report.

  35. Nope…
    Wrong once again Hank, regarding what I do or do not believe:
    I believe that people from the USA (and from any other country outside of Cuba and that includes me) should not be entitled to have any choice whatsoever regarding the future of Cuba.
    I also happen to believe that one your problems is that you claim to be a Democrat,
    yet you consistently side with some of the most venal, backward-looking, bellicose, right-wing politicians that the US Republican Party has spewed up.

  36. Yoani writes on Twitter: “I think #UNICEF should ask itself why in #Cuba is cosidered a crime if activists distribute toys to the kids in the Epiphany”

    UNICEF has never condoned the (ab)use of children for political purposes.

    Alcoholics, psychopaths, and the deviants who don’t work but live (quite well) on the marigin of the society should be kept far away from children.


    Mr Diaz-Canel: what about introducing a crime of soft-terrorism into the cuban laws? That one would be a perfect example.

  37. ***
    HI MARABU–ask your Polish girlfriend how well communism worked out in her country! People like brave Yoani tell the truth about the terrible economic and social failures of a bad government. Yoani is trying to improve her country–she is not abandoning it. The Castro Brothers have given the Cuban People more than 50 years of poverty and abuse. It’s time for them to leave this planet! Satan has a new home for these devils. And for those who help them.
    HOLA MARABU–pregunta a su amiga de Polonia que bueno trabajo communismo en su pais! La gente como valiente Yoani diga la verdad de las fracasos economicas y sociales del mal gobierno. Yoani es luchando para mejorar su pais–no es abandonandolo. Los Hermanos Castros han dado mas que 50 anos de probreza y abuso a la Gente Cubano. Es tiempo que salen de esta planeta! Satanas tiene un lugar nuevo por estes diablos. Y por los quienes les ayudan.


    The US and the European Union are showering them with money, so they don’t work.
    They have a dream though: power. Some already see themselves in the presidential limousines, other in the CEO chairs or on the diplomatic posts.

    They want to be in the news, too. Two days ago they have stockpiled hundreds of toys in order to distribute them to cuban children. “Look, little boy, Raul Castro neved gave you any toy and I do. My name is José Daniel Ferrer, or Berta Soler, or whatever…”.

    Luckilly, the cuban police has prevented the media spectacle from happening, but, unluckilly, no real imprisonment is in sight. So they will repat the game again.

    Mr. Diaz-Canel – the enemy will never, ever credit you for letting these clowns to run free. If you won’t get toughter they will.


  39. Like Yaoni, we all need to start with a strict schedule of plans for 2014. Plan your work, work your plan. Take time to live, exercise for health but include these times in the schedule. Stick to the schedule with the reality of interruptions and schedule slide. Laugh now since you may miss the chance. S.

  40. Nick believes that Cubans living in Cuba should not be allowed to choose Democracy in Cuba.

  41. humberto – new here? Welcome to the “Ugly Cuba” blog.

    The text you have just published is interesting. “Why not to talk to the cops” is a topic urgently needed today. I can tell you how to find 150 genuinly interested readers: send this text to Guantanamo.

  42. Great resolution by Reinaldo Escobar, Yoani’s husband, for the New Year. No more friendly conversations with State Security agents. Like the main character in the TV series “The Prisoner”, Number six, played by Patrick McGoohan, Reinaldo wouldn’t talk to them anymore. Here is a sample:

    Number 6: What do you want?
    Number 2: We want information.

    Number 2: That would be telling, we want information, information, information.
    Number 6: You won’t get it.

    Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will. You are Number 6.

    Number 6: I am not a Number, I am a free man!

    The Prisoner made you think about what is the meaning of freedom and individuality.

    Why Do I No Longer Speak With “Them”? / Reinaldo Escobar

    30 December 2013

    Six years ago I published a text titled “Disqualified for Dialogue,” where I related what occurred in a police station with some State Security agents. Since that date they haven’t returned to attempt one of these semi-friendly conversations in which “they” try to make me believe that they are keenly interested in hearing my concerns, differences or discrepancies with politics of the Party. Since then I have made the decision never to talk to them again. Why?
    Because talking with State Security signifies rewarding the belligerence of a repressive institution that has no legal, political nor moral right to engage in making economic or ideological decisions for the country. Because the main purpose of these conversations is to draw out information from us that will affect other civil society opponents and activists.
    Because those are the occasions they also take advantage of to cause trouble, to make us believe that others are selling themselves to a foreign power or collaborating with the intelligence agencies, and are people of low moral stature, lacking in ethics and principles.
    Because they try to manipulate us saying that we are salvageable, not mercenaries like the rest, and they misinform us with false hopes, as if they were the ones who were in command of all the destinies of the nation and had the power to be the appropriate vehicle to channel criticisms and complaints.
    Because the conditions in which these conversations usually occur involve our going to a site, saying our names and showing our identity cards, while they only introduce themselves using pseudonyms.
    Because we do have not opportunity to terminate the dialogue and they are the ones who decide how long to continue listening; we can barely gesture or use appropriate terminology without their saying that we are showing a lack of respect or contempt for authority.
    Because we are not allowed to record what they say, nor to invite a witness, while they, for their part, can film and edit the conversation, putting their arms around us or putting a pen in our pockets to give the impression that we are their collaborators.
    Because we shouldn’t let them convince us that they know everything: our sexual preferences, the routes our children take to school, the private weaknesses of our friends, the money we have at our disposal, the people we see…
    Because nothing of what they say, none of the threats they make or the prohibitions they establish, is delivered in writing, with letterhead, stamp, name, grade, title, signature, appealing to the terms and articles of established laws, as these official institutions should express themselves; rather everything is left on the plane of what these anonymous subjects say “personally,” perhaps because they believe themselves to be “more of a man” (or more of a woman) than any of us.
    I don’t talk to them anymore, because I am a free man and do not have to give an accounting to anyone of where I go, who I meet, or what projects I have.

  43. Well, time for another vacation from Castro’s pig farm. Don’t want to catch that swine flu that Nick discovered.

    I was about to criticize Castro for taking a 1000% percent markup on his imported car sales, but that would be good-vs-bad capitalist thinking.

    The evil USA must somehow be forcing Raul to charge 100,000 dollars for each lemon he sells.

    I’m sure it’s not because Castro has a complete monopoly on all business in his country and is a very greedy little bugger. Socialists just aren’t like that.

  44. Marabu now has a Polish girlfriend?

    Where did you find her, Miami or Melbourne or wherever else you live today?

    The man who constantly travels the world and monitors Yoani’s blog 24/7 and has time for a Polish girlfriend.

    And he’s a computer guru too he says.

    Where does he find the energy?

  45. And “USA is evil” “Castro is great” Nick gives another lecture on naive good-vs-bad thinking.

  46. Sorry, Nick, IMHO neither lefty nor naive.
    Intelligent, talented poker player, very sensitive to the current State Departmen’s agenda.

  47. Well pointed out Marabu.
    Do you think that our Fave Blogger is a bit of a lefty at heart?
    Like her Marxist Scholar husband??
    Don’t whisper this too loud…
    It might just throw the ‘good vs bad’ squad into yet further disarray..
    God Bless their naïve, little, anti-whatever, cotton socks of course…

  48. I note that in the 2014 resolution Yoani has placed a book of Kapuscinski.
    My Polish girlfriend tells me that he was best known in Poland for translating Che Guevara’s Diary. He also remained member of the Polish Communist Party as long as it existed.

    Good reading, Yoani. It is never too late to open your eyes.

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