What’s-his-name?

signo-de-interrogacionA crowd was waiting outside the mansion in Vedado with a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the garden. The language school opened its doors to new registrations and in the days that followed tested the attitudes of those interested. Everyone waited nervously, thinking that they would be evaluated on a pronunciation here… a mastery of vocabulary there. To our surprise, the main questions weren’t about language, but rather alluded to politics. By mid-morning a young woman who had been rejected warned us, “They’re asking the name of the first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in Havana.” We stood there mouths agape, who would know that?

A few decades ago the leaders of the so-called “political and mass organizations” were figures known throughout the country. Whether through their excessive presence in the official media, long tenure in their jobs, or simply because of personality, their faces were easily identifiable, even to kids in elementary school. We relentlessly heard talk of the secretary of the Young Communist Union, saw on every newscast who was leading the PCC in a province, or overdosed on declarations from some president of the Federation of University Students. There they were, clearly recognizable. Some even came to have nicknames, along with numerous jokes about their quirks and inefficiencies.

This morning on national television they mentioned Carlos Rafael Miranda, national coordinator for the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). And it started me thinking about how blurred these positions have come to be, posts that before seemed to have so much power to decide the fate of so many. People now unknown leading institutions that every day fall deeper into indifference, are more forgotten. Leaders whose led can no longer remember their exact names and surnames. Figures who came too late to stand in the flashes of the camera, to be included in the analyses of the Cubanologists, or — at least — to be the targets of some joke. Mere shadows of a system where charisma is increasingly scarce.

43 thoughts on “What’s-his-name?

  1. ***
    Excellent video on Jose Marti! Well done.
    ***
    Video excelente tratando de Jose Marti! Bien hecho.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  2. YOUTUBE: Dozens of Mental Patients Died of Hunger and Hypothermia in Havana – These images licked to the internet, paint a gruesome picture of what is the Cuban experience. You would expect to see images like these in the Jewish holocaust archives, but this is Cuba, 2010. Dozens of psychiatric patients perished inside the walls of the hospital known as Mazorra in Havana city, Cuba. They died from starvation and hypothermia. The people entrusted to care them stole the food, blankets and mattresses that were supposed to be used for the patients.

  3. DONT THINK I AM MAKING Nick VERY HAPPY TODAY! JE JE JE~

    THE CASTROFASCISTS SHOWING THEIR TRUE COLORS OF COURSE! REPRESSION, VIOLENCE AGAINST ANYONE WHO DOES NOT AGREE WITH THEM AND ARE NOT PART OF THE ELITE APPARATUS!
    MIAMI HERALD: Five in Cuban home for the elderly died under disputed circumstances. – by Juan Tamayo

    Five people at a state-run home for the elderly in Havana died in a 24-hour period last week from what the home’s administrator said were normal causes but dissidents say was a lack of proper nutrition and clothes during a cold spell. “We believe that they died from problems rather than normal diseases,” said Calixto R. Martinez, an independent Havana journalist who first wrote about the deaths in a report published by a Miami-based Web site, Cubanet.

    At least 20 elderly inmates at Havana’s largest psychiatric hospital, allegedly malnourished and lacking warm clothing, died in one day in January 2010 when temperatures dropped to nearly 37 degrees.

    Martinez said Arcadio Santamaría, director of the Chung Wah Home for the Elderly and dissidents Yoeldis Giménez and Yosvani Torres Zaldívar told him that the five people died between Tuesday, Jan. 21 and Wednesday, Jan. 22.

    Santamaría initially told El Nuevo Herald in a brief chat that no one had died, then said there had been five “normal” deaths but that he would not comment further over the phone and invited the reporter to interview him in person at the home.

    Martinez said Santamaría told him that government investigators determined the deaths “occurred because of natural causes and not from what people are saying,” and added that one died at the home and the others at hospitals where they were sent on Tuesday.

    The journalist reported the dissidents told him that employees of the home had said the five died at the facility from malnutrition and cold. Havana last week reported lows of 50 degrees on the 21stand 59 on the 22nd.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/28/3898692/five-in-cuban-home-for-the-elderly.html

  4. Getting back to Yoani’s article, Nick.

    Now that you have your facts straight and know that Seeger never went to prison.

    Despite belonging to a group that advocated class warfare and the violent overthrow of the US government, despite his public support of Stalin, of Hitler from 39-41, of Mao, of Kim Jong, all while they were killing US soldiers, he never went to jail.

    Instead he was invited to give concerts at colleges around the country.

    Pete Seeger publicly praised North Vietnam and the Vietcong while they were killing US soldiers, and he was invited to sing on US commercial and public TV and radio. Even got his own TV show in the 60s.

    Compare that freedom to Cuba, where you have to know the name of the Communist First Secretary of Havana before you are admitted to language school.

    Where being a pacifist who publicly criticizes Castro will get you beaten and thrown in jail.

    Quite the difference I would say.

  5. Nick,

    You are always so selective with your facts and your quotes, aren’t you?

    That Seeger song was from after Hitler attacked Stalin.

    From Sep 1939 to June 1941 Seeger didn’t say one bad word about Adolf Hitler. He put out songs attacking Roosevelt and Uncle Sam instead.

    The Communist Party line in the USA, Britain, France and Germany was that Roosevelt and Churchill were imperialist warmongers responsible for starting the war and that they were far worse than Hitler.

    That was Pete Seeger’s line because he worshiped Stalin. That’s what he sang in the songs he released on album and sang in public.

    Seeger went to demonstrations against US aid to Britain. To leave poor little Hitler alone. He did that when Britain was being bombed.

    And then Stalin was attacked and Seeger went from pacifist to warmonger himself. Overnight.

    You see the pattern, don’t you?

    Stalin’s fans like Seeger were just as brainless as the current crop of Castro fans.

  6. Hi HUMBY!!

    According to the USA and all those democracy loving people in Miami all those who demonstrate against ‘The Regime’ in Cuba are freedom loving dissidents.
    According to the Cuban Government they are all traitors and mercenaries paid by the USA and the permanently sulking, right wing Miami Hardcore.

    I would personally suggest that the reality probably lies somewhere in between these two perspectives.

    Let us take the case of the now famous Guillermo Fariñas who is mentioned in your recent copy and paste…..
    Democracy Activist, fighter for freedom, hunger striker, Sakharov Prize-winner etc….
    Yet here is the very same man in Miami celebrating his pro democracy credentials by hanging out with known terrorists; known terrorists who have murdered innocent Cuban people:

    http://nyhavanablogging.wordpress.com/tag/luis-posada-carriles/

    Absolutely astonishing.

    Those who go dishing out Sakharov prizes like confetti should get on a plane to Miami and go get their prize back offa this guy so it still retains some credibility…

  7. IM AFRAID Nick WONT LIKE THIS POST!

    THE CASTROFASCISTS SHOWING THEIR TRUE COLORS OF COURSE! REPRESSION, VIOLENCE AGAINST ANYONE WHO DOES NOT AGREE WITH THEM AND ARE NOT PART OF THE ELITE APPARATUS AND/OR ACCOMPLICES!

    MIAMI HERALD: Cuban authorities harass dissidents before Havana summit – by Juan Tamayo

    The Cuban government has unleashed “a large wave of political repression” against dissidents, detaining or threatening at least 60 to keep them from tarnishing a meeting of hemispheric leaders in Havana, a human rights group reported Monday.

    But attempts by the Cuban opposition to voice their complaints to the foreign visitors and grab part of their media spotlight by holding two small “parallel summits” have been met with tough measures by security officials on the island.

    Police briefly detained at least 40 dissidents, threatened or harassed another 18 and ordered five more to stay home “until the end of the summit,” said a report Monday by the illegal Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

    Those numbers are preliminary because of government controls on communications within the island, but they already amount to “a large wave of political repression against peaceful dissidents,” the report said, to “muzzle” them during the two-day summit.

    Other dissidents have reported nearly 150 brief detentions and blocks on the cell phones of several pro-democracy activists.

    Among those put under house arrest are Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience in 2010, and former political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet.

    José Daniel Ferrer, a former political prisoner who founded the Cuban Patriotic Union, was picked up by police Friday as he emerged from the Swedish embassy in Havana and driven back to his hometown of Palmarito de Cauto, 290 miles to the east.

    Havana residents said authorities also have been cleaning up the city’s image, carting off beggars and running prostitutes out of public gathering spots, deploying potted plants along some of its main avenues and sprucing up billboards and storefronts.

    The crackdown on dissidents has highlighted what critics say is the mistake of foreign leaders who are meeting in a country ruled by a dictatorship for more than half a century yet are refusing to meet with the peaceful opposition.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/27/3896572/cuban-authorities-harass-dissidents.html

  8. Nick, you answered one point and that’s it. I guess it is a start for you.

    So being popular in New York City does not mean you are great. So your NYC Castro comments were pointless?

    Hank already answered your question about the why. Some people are ignorant about Castro just like they were about Hitler.

    About Pete Seeger, you are, to be polite, seriously misinformed.

    He was very free in the 1950s to go and study wherever he wanted in the USA. Could you give me the years he spent in prison?

    I’m sure all those concerts he gave in the 1950s were not in prison, but in colleges around the country.

    He was much freer after the Red Scare was over, but he always enjoyed freedom of speech and dissent that Yoani Sanchez only dreams about for Cuba.

    About George Bush’s grandpa business dealings and Hitler. What’s the point you are trying to make?

    Does this mean George Bush, the grandson, is bad? Is Fidel Castro bad because his father treated his workers brutally? Is that the point?

    Did you know that Pete Seeger was a Hitler supporter? Not his grandpa, Pete Seeger himself. From 1939-1941, he went to demonstrations for Hitler and against bad ole Churchill and Roosevelt.

    Leave poor pacifist Hitler alone he screamed along with all the other Stalin worshipers. He did that while Hitler was bombing England and sinking US merchant ships in the Atlantic.

    Does that make Pete Seeger bad?

    Is that the point you are trying to make?

  9. SORRY, ONLY IN SPANISH SO FAR! THE ENGLISH VERSION MIGHT BE UP IN A FEW DAYS! AND SORRY FOR THE DOUBLE POST! STUFF HAPPENS!

    AMNISTIA INTERNACIONAL: Cuba intensifica la represión en las horas previas a la cumbre de la CELAC – 27 enero 2014

    Las autoridades cubanas deben detener su campaña de represión contra opositores y disidentes y permitir la celebración de actividades pacíficas durante la segunda Cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeño (CELAC), dijo hoy Amnistía Internacional.

    La reunión se celebrará los días 28 y 29 de enero en La Habana.

    “La actitud de las autoridades cubanas es un ultrajante ataque contra las libertades de expresión y de reunión que no debería pasar inadvertida a los numerosos líderes que estos días se dan cita en La Habana,” dijo Javier Zúñiga, asesor especial para programas regionales de Amnistía Internacional.

    “Es un vano intento de silenciar a aquellos que denuncian la sistemática violación de los derechos de opinión, reunión y manifestación en Cuba. El gobierno podrá impedir que los disidentes se aproximen a la conferencia, pero sus voces entrarán en ella. No hay medida que pueda silenciar los derechos humanos.”

    Decenas de disidentes han sido detenidos de forma arbitraria durante el pasado fin de semana en numerosas localidades de la isla, o han sido coaccionados para que no participaran en eventos privados paralelos a la cumbre que comienza mañana en La Habana.

    La Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional ha registrado 43 casos de personas detenidas por breves periodos de tiempo entre el 23 y 26 de enero. Otras cinco han sido puestas bajo arresto domiciliario. Al menos 18 han sido advertidas por las autoridades de no viajar a la capital cubana.

    Debido a estos arrestos y a la ola de intimidación, diversos foros paralelos a la cumbre han sido cancelados.

    Entre los activistas que fueron detenidos durante el fin de semana están José Daniel Ferrer García, presidente de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), y Yusmila Reina Ferrera, otra militante de esta organización. Ambos permanecieron durante casi 48 horas en distintas dependencias policiales del país.

    José Daniel Ferrer explicó a Amnistía Internacional como él y su colega fueron interceptados el 24 de enero sobre la una de la tarde por hombres vestidos de civil, mientras caminaban hacia la oficina de la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN).

    Ferrer les pidió que mostraran su identificación, a lo cual se negaron, tras lo que les forzaron bruscamente a subir a un auto. Desde allí fueron llevados a una unidad policial en la frontera entre la provincia de la Habana y Mayabeque y luego traslados a unidades policiales separadas en La Habana donde pasaron la noche.

    El 25 fueron llevados hacia Santiago de Cuba, pero pasaron la noche en una unidad policial en Camagüey. Finalmente fueron puestos en libertad en la provincia de Santiago de Cuba el 26 de enero sobre el mediodía.

    José Daniel Ferrer dijo a Amnistía Internacional que actualmente había policías vigilando su casa y que no tenía posibilidad de poder volver a la capital.

    “Resulta indignante que quienes no están de acuerdo con el gobierno cubano no puedan expresarlo de manera pública y colectiva. Los jefes de estado de los países miembros de la CELAC y los altos cargos de organizaciones regionales e internacionales como el secretario general de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, no deberían ignorar el hecho de que, mientras que ellos siguen llegando a La Habana para participar en la cumbre, activistas cubanos cubanas se encuentran reprimidos por su gobierno,” aseguró Javier Zúñiga.

    “Los dirigentes de una organización que tiene entre sus principios el pleno respeto a la democracia y los derechos humanos deberían hablar en favor de la libertad de expresión y reunión de los ciudadanos cubanos,” añadió.

    Las detenciones y las coacciones de disidentes y opositores son una táctica habitual de las autoridades cubanas. Durante 2013, la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional informó de 6.424 detenciones de críticos al gobierno. Tan solo en diciembre del 2013 tuvieron lugar 1.123 detenciones arbitrarias por “motivos políticos”, el número mensual más alto desde la visita del Papa Benedicto XVI en marzo del 2012.
    Índice AI: PRE01/048/2014

    http://www.amnesty.org/es/for-media/press-releases/cuba-intensifica-la-represi-n-en-las-horas-previas-la-cumbre-de-la-celac-20

  10. EXCELLENT FILM ON THE YOUNG JOSE MARTI! IN SPANISH BUT WITH ENGLISH SUB-TILES!

    YOUTUBE: CUBAN FILM – “El Ojo Del Canario” about the young Jose Marti

    JOSE JULIAN MARTI PEREZ : (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) is a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a part of the Cuban Freemasons. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba’s bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the “Apostle of Cuban Independence.[1]” He also wrote about the threat of United States expansionism into Cuba.[citation needed] From adolescence, he dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans; his death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.

    Born in Havana, Martí began his political activism at an early age. He would travel extensively in Spain, Latin America, and the United States, raising awareness and support for the cause of Cuban independence. His unification of the Cuban émigré community, particularly in Florida, was crucial to the success of the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. He was a key figure in the planning and execution of this war, as well as the designer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and its ideology. He died in military action on May 19, 1895.

    Martí is considered one of the great turn-of-the-century Latin American intellectuals. His written works consist of a series of poems, essays, letters, lectures, a novel, and even a children’s magazine. He wrote for numerous Latin American and American newspapers; he also founded a number of newspapers himself. His newspaper Patria was a key instrument in his campaign for Cuban independence. After his death, one of his poems from the book, “Versos Sencillos” (Simple Verses) was adapted to the song, “Guantanamera”, which has become the definitive patriotic song of Cuba.

    The concepts of freedom, liberty, and democracy are prominent themes in all of his works, which were influential on the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío and the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral.[2]

  11. EXCELLENT FILM ON THE YOUNG JOSE MARTI! IN SPANISH BUT WITH ENGLISH SUB-TILES!

    YOUTUBE: CUBAN FILM – “El Ojo Del Canario” about the young Jose Marti

    JOSE JULIAN MARTI PEREZ : (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) is a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a part of the Cuban Freemasons. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba’s bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the “Apostle of Cuban Independence.[1]” He also wrote about the threat of United States expansionism into Cuba.[citation needed] From adolescence, he dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans; his death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.

    Born in Havana, Martí began his political activism at an early age. He would travel extensively in Spain, Latin America, and the United States, raising awareness and support for the cause of Cuban independence. His unification of the Cuban émigré community, particularly in Florida, was crucial to the success of the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. He was a key figure in the planning and execution of this war, as well as the designer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and its ideology. He died in military action on May 19, 1895.

    Martí is considered one of the great turn-of-the-century Latin American intellectuals. His written works consist of a series of poems, essays, letters, lectures, a novel, and even a children’s magazine. He wrote for numerous Latin American and American newspapers; he also founded a number of newspapers himself. His newspaper Patria was a key instrument in his campaign for Cuban independence. After his death, one of his poems from the book, “Versos Sencillos” (Simple Verses) was adapted to the song, “Guantanamera”, which has become the definitive patriotic song of Cuba.

    The concepts of freedom, liberty, and democracy are prominent themes in all of his works, which were influential on the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío and the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral.[2]

  12. If the person self-described as ‘neutral’ would care to notice….
    I have spent my last three comments responding to your points/questions at some length.
    In the light of this, please don’t state that I ‘..always fail to answer any of the specific points raised’.
    To state this is self-evidently an error on your part.

  13. RIP Pete Seeger.
    This man wasn’t free to go and study during ‘the red scare of the 50’s’…
    He wasn’t free at all.
    He was thrown in jail for ‘un-American activities’ the then equivalent of ‘dangerousness’??
    One of his most well known songs was ‘We Shall Overcome’.
    And he did overcome.
    He campaigned for Civil Rights with Martin Luther King, he campaigned against the US invasion of Vietnam, he campaingned against US (backed by UK) invasion of Iraq, he received Cuba’s highest honour (Felix Varela Medal), and he played with Springsteen at President Obama’s inauguration.
    He wasn’t free during Macarthyism.
    But he did overcome.
    RIP.

  14. As a matter of fact Hitler had many fans in NYC/USA including owners of some proper big household name businesses.
    Another fan was the aforementioned George W Bush’s grandpa who got rich on his business dealings with the Hitler regime.
    But these facts certainly do not make Hitler great.

  15. You also didn’t address the question of popularity and greatness, Nick.

    If Hitler had thousands of fans in New York City, did that make him great?

    You also didn’t answer the question of Fidel being a liar.

    He did go on Face the Nation and promise free multi-party elections in 1959.

  16. Actually Nick, all your questions have been specifically addressed, over and over again.

    Even when your questions are nonsensical.

    It is you who always fails to answer any of the specific points raised.

    I’m glad you weren’t indoctrinated in Cuba.

    But you didn’t answer the question.

    Communists, Socialists, Castroists and others are free to go to university in the USA. They were free during the Red Scare of the 50s. They were free during the Red Scare of the 1920s.

    In Cuba, they still refuse to admit someone to a language school because the can’t name the Communist Secretary of Havana.

    Things are getting better, but are they good? Should they not be criticized?

    Is that your point?

    Saudi Arabia let some woman compete in the last Olympics. So things are getting better in Saudi Arabia.

    So we should defend Saudi Arabia from criticism, is that your point?

  17. In response to another civil question:
    As far as I am aware there is no compunction to know the name of any Swindon politicians in order to gain entry to language courses in the UK.
    There are a few educational establishments here where you are more likely to gain entry if you have the right connections.
    In other educational establishments there is a certain amount of religious indoctrination where a student will be expected to know the names of certain protagonists from certain holy books.
    I believe this also to be the case in certain educational establishments in the USA where I hear tell that religious indoctrination can be fairly extreme to the extent that the denial of known scientific facts is taught. (I hope and believe that this applies only in a minority of educational establishments over there).
    I believe political indoctrination to have been fairly prevalent in Cuba.
    I would definitely suggest that this is not as prevalent today as it was in the past so things are moving in a good direction.
    As someone who has studied in Cuba (quite some years ago), I can state that though the lecturers who I had the privilege of being taught by, were PCC members, no political indoctrination was involved.

  18. No-one has addressed the specific point about Fidel Castro apparently being so popular in Harlem.
    Hmmmmm I wonder why.
    However, I would like to express a warm thank you to those who took the trouble to formulate an answer to my question in the various different ways.

  19. HI Nick, TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION AS BEST AS “AN OLD QUEEN FROM CALIFORNIA” CAN! THE CASTROFASCIST #1 FIDEL GOT ATTENTION IN NYC BECAUSE AT THE TIME MOST OF HIS LIES WERE BELIEVED AND OF COURSE THERE IS THE BAD BOY AGAINST THE BAD OLD USA SYNDROME! BUT NOW IS THE 21st CENTURY AND HE AND HIS SISTER, I MEAN BROTHER RAUL AND THEIR THUGS CANNOT DO THE OLD SMOKE AND MIRRORS SO EASILY! DOES THAT ANSWER YOUR BOTTOM OF THE BARREL QUESTION DEAR?? BIG GUSANO HUGS AND KISSES! IS THE WASHINGTON POST LIKE GRANMA? TRYING TO UNDERSTAND YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS DEAR!

    WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL: E.U. policy toward Cuba must not overlook its human rights abuses

    On Feb. 10, the foreign ministers of the 28 E.U. member states will meet in Brussels. On their agenda is whether to begin a negotiation toward a new “political and cooperation agreement” with Cuba, which is being pushed by Spain and some others. Before they rush into a new handshake in Havana, this is a good moment for Europe to take a stand for human rights and send a message to Raúl Castro and his brother Fidel that investments and aid are linked to progress toward democracy and an end to repression.

    In July 2012, Mr. Payá was killed in a car wreck in eastern Cuba under suspicious circumstances, along with another activist, Harold Cepero. The vehicle in which they were riding was rammed from behind by a car bearing government license plates, according to the driver. There has yet to be an independent and credible investigation of the circumstances of the crash.

    Before the E.U. foreign ministers act, they should read the Jan. 17 letter sent from Havana by the Christian Liberation Movement, of which Mr. Payá was a leader. It notes that there has been a wave of arbitrary detentions, beatings and suspicious deaths over the past two years and cautions that, in his recent gradual liberalization measures, Raúl Castro “grants privileges and permissions, but not our right to have rights.”

    On Dec. 11, the European Parliament expressed concern about the human rights situation in Cuba and called for “an international and independent committee of inquiry” to investigate the deaths of Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero. We hope the E.U. foreign ministers are listening to the parliament that honored Mr. Payá with the Sakharov Prize a decade ago.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eu-policy-toward-cuba-must-not-overlook-its-human-rights-abuses/2014/01/27/a88482f0-8702-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html

  20. Thanks Hank, for spelling out the obvious.

    It is very easy to admire a dictator from afar.

  21. While we’re having this civil conversation Nick, can you please comment on Yoani’s article.

    I assume you went to school in England? Or know someone who has?

    Imagine you know perfect Greek, Latin and a dozen other languages. You are at the top of your class. You want to go to university to study the classics.

    Not even Oxford or Cambridge. You just want to be accepted to any school in England.

    You show up and the first thing they ask you is to name the First Secretary of the Swindon Branch of the Conservative Party.

    You can’t and they say tough luck, you’re not good enough to go to school in England.

    How would you like to live under a loony dictator?

    Before you accuse Yoani of exaggerating, I have heard hundreds of similar stories.

  22. To answer your question as succinctly as possible, Nick, the people who cheered Castro in NYC don’t know that he is a mass murderer and they have not been touched by this fact.

  23. My comment that most Cubans hate Castro has been made very clear to me each time I visited Cuba.

    Among the Castro-haters are many members of the Cuban Communist Party.

    My comment is based on

    1) the obvious fact that Castro never held a free election

    2) but most importantly, on talking to thousands of Cubans.

    Castro should have at least held one free election, squeaked into power, and then abolished elections. Would have made him look more credible.

    But most older Cubans say that he could have easily lost an election in 1959 at the height of his popularity.

    So I guess he had no choice.

  24. Nick,

    Fidel Castro gets a crowd of a few hundred devotees and you think he is popular in New York City?

    If he got 10,000 at a rally, would he be so popular, out of 8 million residents (20 million in Greater New York)?

    There used to be huge Nazi rallies in New York City too. Thousands packed Madison Square Garden.

    What’s your point? That Hitler and Castro fans represent the average American?

    I’m afraid you are mistaken.

    Hundreds of New Yorkers demonstrated against Castro too. So what’s your point again?

    George Bush got tens of thousands at some of his rallies, So George Bush is that much greater than Fidel Castro?

    Is that your point?

    Please explain any of your points, sir.

    Is it the more fans you got, the greater you are? Or just the more fans you get at demonstrations?

    Is Justin Bieber the greatest of them all?

    George Bush got Tens of Millions of real live votes! That’s quite the fan club.

    Fidel Castro got ZERO votes in Cuba.

    We’re still waiting for that free election he promised in 1959.

    Was he lying or wasn’t he?

    Perhaps the election has been delayed due to the weather.

  25. Not sure what the point is, but I shall attempt a rational response to some of the points raised in these three tirades:
    There seems to be an accusation that I display ignorance yet in the very next sentence there is total agreement with my comment
    Yes (some) Russians do refer to neighbouring countries as their backyard.
    Hey Brains, this is exactly what I said
    I cannot put this mistake from the ranter down to anything other than an inability to concentrate.
    Less ranting….
    More concentration.
    Would lead to less errors.

    Anything that refuses to kow-tow to the official US line is an anti-US conspiracy????
    Get real.

    Falkland Islanders don’t want to belong to Argentina in the same way that Cubans don’t want to belong to USA.

    George W Bush most certainly did not get fine receptions wherever he went. In London there was a huge military operation to keep back protestors when he came to town and meanwhile just couple of miles away:
    In London’s most famous square a huge effigy of GWB was pulled down after a countdown led by a wheelchair bound US Vietnam War Veteran to huge cheering, chants and laughter from the vast crowd of people protesting that this GWB fella was permitted entry into The UK..
    No public were allowed anywhere near Bush.
    No. In answer to the question I definitely would not say GWB was a great man, in fact to put it very tactfully, of all US Presidents, he was perhaps one of the ones least touched by greatness.

    By no means all Cubans are fans of Fidel Castro, but to suggest that most Cubans hate him is a distortion of reality.

    …and yes I do think before I write.
    I would recommend that the author of the three previous tirades did the same…
    Perhaps try to blend in a few more facts with the fiction????

    Going back to my original question:
    Can anyone actually explain to me quite why Fidel Castro seems to be so popular in NYC and particularly so in Harlem????

  26. Getting back to Yoani’s article, I have a question for anyone in England.

    Before you go to a language school in England do you have to pass a political test?

    Make sure you know the names of all the top Conservatives in the country?

    How would you guys like to live in Cuba?

  27. By the way Nick, you are displaying your incredible unlimited ignorance once again.

    Russian politicians do refer to their former colonies like Georgia as their own backyard.

    I have heard them use that very word on many occasions.

    If you read beyond your usual anti-US conspiracy sites, you might learn something.

    Speaking of ridiculous imperial ambitions, what do you think of Argentine fascists’ claim on the Falkland Islands?

  28. Nick,

    George W. Bush got fine receptions wherever he went, from very normal looking people.

    Are you now saying that George Bush is a great man?

    You seem to hate George Bush in all your posts, now you are saying George Bush is a great man?

    Do you ever take time to think before you write?

    By the way, I don’t hate Fidel Castro, but I understand the hatred most Cubans feel for him.

    If I had to live like most Cubans, I’d probably hate him too, but I don’t.

    I find him a sad and pathetic figure. I think Hitler was a sad and pathetic creature too.

    I find it incredible anyone would believe in these feeble-minded murderers.

    Psychopathic murderers should be sentenced to death for the good of society, or at least locked up for life, but that is a matter of justice and the greater good, not hatred.

  29. There are obviously contributors here from the USA who are full-on Fidel haters.
    Could any of you please explain why this fella, on his last visit to NYC, got such a fine reception at The New York Times, at the Wall Street Journal and why he was cheered to the rafters by all those happy looking people in The Abyssinian Baptist Church, Harlem ???
    (see clip I posted a couple of days ago)
    I’m not from the USA and am genuinely interested in this phenomenon.
    Perhaps some of the contributors from the USA can shed some light on this, or perhaps not???
    Were all those people in this venerable place of worship in Harlem a bunch of nutjobs?
    They all look perfectly normal to me.

  30. Hi HUMBY!!
    Surely it must be a good thing that Latin American Countries get together with a
    ‘…..regional eagerness to challenge the dominance of the United States.”
    It was interesting to notice that last year Mr John Kerry slipped up badly (and very laughably) by referring to this region as the USA’s ‘backyard’.
    This would be the same as Russia’s Secretary of State describing the former soviet bloc as Russia’s ‘backyard’.

    http://politicalcontext.org/blog/2013/05/why-is-it-offensive-to-be-called-the-backyard-of-the-united-
    states/

  31. BEST LINE IN ARTICLE: “Latin American and Caribbean leaders converge on Cuba this week to discuss trade, peace and HUMAN RIGHTS in a further sign of regional eagerness to challenge the dominance of the United States.”

    HUMAN RIGHTS IN CUBA?? WHAT A JOKE FOR THE WORLD AND THE CUBAN PEOPLE! BUT THE BIGGEST JOKE IS TO THINK THAT A BUNCH OF LATIN AMERICAN LEADERS WILL EVER AGREE ON ANYTHING! WE ARE VERY WELL KNOWN IN THE WORLD AS ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT REGIONS! GOOD LUCK Comemierd@s En Latin America Coño (CELAC)!

    (Reuters) – Latin American and Caribbean leaders converge on Cuba this week to discuss trade, peace and human rights in a further sign of regional eagerness to challenge the dominance of the United States.

    The two-day summit is expected to take up issues such as Colombian peace talks, lingering poverty in Haiti and human rights. Thirty-three countries from the region will participate, notably without the United States and Canada, which are not invited.

    While the visiting heads of state and government are likely to express solidarity with Cuba and perhaps seek an audience with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Cuban dissidents who advocate greater human rights on the communist-ruled island will also try to capture attention with so many leaders and journalists present.

    At previous international events hosted by Cuba, dissidents attempted to highlight human rights violations and a lack of democracy in the Western Hemisphere’s only one-party state.

    Government opponents reported over the weekend they were warned by police against attending a “Forum on Democracy” in Havana on Tuesday and that a number of activists had been temporarily detained.

    Among those arrested was Jose Ferrer, leader of the Santiago de Cuba-based Patriotic Union of Cuba, one of the most active opposition groups. Police detained Ferrer on Friday in Havana and released him on Sunday, his group said.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/us-latam-summit-idUSBREA0Q0HR20140127

  32. Humberto,

    Thank you for the post of the Face the Nation interview with the lying murderer Castro. This is old news, but the man admits he is a murderer and a liar. Here is the transcript:

    Castro the lying murderer: I will never be against any right. I am not Communist at all. But I will never be against any right.

    Interviewer: But may I ask you sir, why is it when you have that attitude which you obviously believe very strongly, why would with that attitude had there been so many executions across Cuba without open free trials?

    Castro the lying murderer: Well, not so many.

    Interviewer: How many?

    Castro the lying murderer: I don’t know exactly, about two or three dozen.

    And that was only the start of his murder campaign which persists to this day. The dude is a murderer. He and his whole clan should be put in shackles and brought to justice, right away.

  33. Of course, that quote is isolated from context. It was part of a bigger lie, that he would allow free free multi-party elections.

    Still, even isolated from context, it is a remarkable admission of the truth for Fidel, the man who always lies.

    I guess the truth just slips out sometimes, even if your are a disciplined communist.

  34. “If we don’t give freedom to all the political parties to organize, we are not a democratic country”

    – Fidel Castro, 1959

    The last true words Fidel ever recorded on tape. Typo in previous post.

  35. “If we don’t give freedom to all the political parties to organize, we are not a democratic country”

    – Fidel Castro, 1959

    The last true words Fidel ever recorded by Fidel.

    Within months he had wiped out all political opposition. And then proclaimed that a 1-party totalitarian dictatorship was the only true type of democracy.

    A few years later he told a US reporter in front of a mass of other reporters he was going to kill JFK, but we don’t have that on tape.

    He also recently told some US reporters that socialism doesn’t work and a few other truths, but not on tape.

    I think his KGB advisers must have warned him about speaking the truth on tape after that Face the Nation interview.

    Anyone else have any other strange but true “Fidel spoke the truth” stories?

    Was it just 3 times in 55 years?

  36. Yes Humby,
    Generally speaking I think The BBC is fine but not perfect.
    It’s remit is to strive to be unbiased (unlike Granma or The Miami Herald).
    Sarah Rainsford files both positive and negative reports from Cuba.
    If she reports that Mr Ferrer has been arrested for political reasons then I would not doubt that this is the case.
    If he has been arrested for these reasons then I would obviously not be in favour of such an arrest.

  37. Hi Humby!!!
    Heres another movie for your collection.
    Personally I’m pretty ambivalent towards your fave movie star Fidel Castro
    (there’s been better world leaders and there’s been worse),
    but I ‘m always astonished at how popular he seems to be in NYC:

  38. HEY Nick! YOU LIKE THE BBC RIGHT? OK, JUST CHECKING DEAR!

    BBC NEWS: Cuban leading activist Jose Ferrer ‘arrested’ in Havana – 25 January 2014
    Pro-democracy activists in Cuba say a leading dissident Jose Ferrer has been arrested after meeting European diplomats in the capital, Havana.

    The activists said they did not know where Mr Ferrer had been taken.

    They have also reported other arrests and intimidation from the Cuban authorities, ahead of a regional gathering of heads of state next week.

    Mr Ferrer was planning to attend an unauthorised meeting of dissidents during the summit.

    “He was detained late on Friday near my home, where he had been a guest,” Elizardo Sanchez, the leader of the illegal but tolerated Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission (CCDHRN), told the AFP news agency.

    He said that at least eight other activists had been arrested, most of them temporarily, and that they were being targeted because of the international gathering, which opens on Tuesday.

    “We fear that a wave of political repression has started ahead the summit, especially in the west of the country,” near the capital, he told Efe news agency.

    The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Havana says it has become normal practice to detain people to warn them off or keep them out of the way of an event.

    POLICE INTIMIDATION

    The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the Organisation of American States Jose Miguel Insulza, as well as the presidents from Brazil, Argentina, Peru and other countries, are gathering in Havana on 28-29 January for the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

    CLICKL LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25900034

  39. “I am not a communist at all”

    “If we don’t give freedom to all the political parties to organize, we are not a democratic country”

    — Fidel Castro

    Fidel and Honest Al Capone had a lot in common, the big cigar, rum, women, fatty food, and lots of lying and killing.

  40. THE FULL “FACE THE NATION” INTERVIEW OF FIDEL CASTRO! LIES, LIES, LIES! DUH! THE “CIVIL RIGHTS” STATEMENTS IS THE ULTIMATE HYPOCRACY BY THE CASTRO CLAN! ITS ALL THERE IN HIS OWN HYPOCRITICAL LYING WORDS! HOW CAN ANYONE BELIVE THIS AFTER OVER HALF A CENTURY! “I AM A MAN OF FAITH”!! GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK!
    Shortly after leading rebel forces in overthrowing Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro appeared on the Jan. 11, 1959 edition of Face the Nation.

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