Emigrating in the Third Age

An old man. (Silvia Corbelle)

An old man. (Silvia Corbelle)

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 23 June 2015 – The building where I live is like a diminutive Cuba, where the larger country appears represented with its vicissitudes and hopes. Fourteen stories that at times offer a biopsy of reality or a representative fragment of life outside. For years, the emigration of young people has marked the life of this ugly concrete block, constructed 30 years ago by some optimistic microbrigadistas* in order to put a roof over their children’s heads. The majority of these children, now men and women, do not live on the island today. However, the exodus has also spread to a worrying extent among those of the third age.

A few weeks ago in the hallway I stumbled upon a neighbor whose children left some time ago for the country to the north. Between postcards at Christmas, visits every now and then and nostalgia, the family has tried to overcome separation and the pain of absence. The man of the family, now retired and almost 70, commented to me that he was selling his apartment. “I’m leaving,” he said, smiling from ear to ear. Another retiree who overheard, spat out derisively, “You’re nuts! Why are you leaving if all that’s left to you are ‘two shaves,’?” alluding to the possible brevity of the existence ahead of him.

Not to be outdone, the mocked one replied, “Yes, it’s true, all that’s left for me is ‘two shaves,’ but I want them to be with a Gillette.” With a pension of barely 20 CUC a month, a home that every day shows the passage of time and the lack of resources to repair it, the future emigrant won’t be stopped by gray hairs or old age. What is making so many seniors choose to relocate abroad despite age, health and the uprooting of their lives? They also feel the lack of opportunities, the day-to-day difficulties, and – most significantly – end up concluding that the social project to which they gave their youth has defrauded and abandoned them.

They feel the lack of opportunities and the day-to-day difficulties, and have ended up concluding that the social project to which they gave their youth has defrauded and abandoned them

“All I want is a peaceful old age, without having to stand in line all the time,” the determined old man explained to me. For him, his country is synonymous with shortages, problems getting food, an old age of racing to get potatoes and fighting against those who want to get ahead of him in the line to buy eggs. The apartment he built with his own hands for the enjoyment of his children now has peeling walls and a clogged toilet. “With my pension I can’t arrange to get things fixed,” he detailed.

Even the elderly are packing their suitcases on this island… and from the scale model that is this Yugoslav-style building, old people are also saying goodbye.

* Translator’s note:
For more information about microbrigades see page 26 of this report by Cuban architect Mario Coyula.

78 thoughts on “Emigrating in the Third Age

  1. ALAN GROSS WAS TRADED FOR THE 3 CUBAN SPIES THAT WERE LEFT OF “THE CUBAN 5”! HIS RELEASE WAS THE MAIN REASON WHY THIS CUBA/USA POLICY CHANGE TOOK PLACE! HE WAS A HOSTAGE OF THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA! NOW HE HAS TO KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT AND SUPPORT THIS NEW OBAMA POLICY AS PART OF HIS RELEASE CONDITIONS

    DAILY BEAST: U.S. Never Asked Alan Gross About His Imprisonment in Cuba – Alan Gross was locked up by the Castro regime for half a decade. When he got out, no one in the U.S. government bothered to debrief him about his time in captivity. – by James Kirchick

    After spending more than five years in a Cuban jail, former USAID contractor Alan Gross is probably in possession of a lot of information that the United States government would like to know. How did Cuban officials become aware of his work bringing internet access to the island’s tiny Jewish community? What were the conditions like inside the Valla Marista prison, where he was held? What were the mannerisms and interests of his interrogators? What was the content of the conversations he had with his fellow prisoners?

    Yet according to an authoritative source, no U.S. government official has debriefed Gross since he was released from a Cuban jail last December as part of a broader deal normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. That political thaw reached a symbolic milestone Wednesday when both governments announced they would open embassies in each others’ capitals, 54 years after the severing of diplomatic relations.

    Asked whether Gross had been debriefed by the United States government, both Jill Zuckman, Gross’s spokesman, and Noel Clay, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment.

    After a citizen has been held against their will by an adversarial government, terrorist organization, or rogue group, it is standard procedure for their own country’s government to sit them down and try to extract as much useful information as possible. This process is known as a “debrief” in intelligence and diplomatic parlance. An American aid worker rescued from Somali pirates by Navy Seals in 2012, the former Army sergeant held by the Taliban for five years, even non-American hostages released by ISIS—all have been debriefed by U.S. government officials following their periods in captivity.

    The most charitable explanation for the U.S. government’s failure to debrief Gross could be sheer incompetence: the bureaucratic left hand assuming that the bureaucratic right hand is doing the job. That is the conclusion some may arrive at after reading a long Buzzfeed investigation into Gross’ work in Cuba, which portrays him as an innocent abroad left to deal with the consequences of a naïve and dangerous democratization policy dictated by ideologues sitting comfortably in Washington and Miami. Adding to this impression of government ineptitude will be the monetary settlements Gross reached with both his employer and USAID after suing them for negligence. A cable sent by a consular official from the Interests Section who had visited Gross three weeks after his arrest, unearthed by Wikileaks, reveals that the State Department wasn’t even aware of Gross’s work on behalf of USAID.

    Incompetence can never be ruled out as an explanation for U.S. government actions, of course. But an equally likely rationale for Washington’s decision not to debrief Gross—to glean whatever information it can about the Castro regime, its intelligence apparatus, and its penal system— is that the Obama administration isn’t at all eager to do so.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/01/u-s-never-asked-alan-gross-about-his-imprisonment-in-cuba.html

  2. Humberto: Mr. Tutu is playing politics…Mr. Tutu is a Socialist and believes in the creation of an inclusive World. Check stories about U.S. and South Africa relations (specifically loans from U.S. institutions to the government of South Africa to see why Mr. Tutu say what he says about Venezuela….) International relations between countries is a dirty business….if you want to know about Venezuela…search and read articles by Venezuelans…what foreigners say or position they take on issues between countries is always skewed and bias to support foreign policies and trade that favors the home country. This is not the first time that a foreign personality take positions on internal issues of other nations to cement international agreements for their nation.

  3. Humberto: You are correct!!…Cuba was no better than Argentina or Chile ( in some areas like % of the population that did not know how to read or write, % of the population who did not have electricity, corruption, right wing death squads, no shoes to wear. CIA agents engaged in regime change ( Chile in particular) hiding as A.T &T employees. )….no such thing as the legends about the “good old days” in Cuba, Cubans in exile like to indulge in….

  4. OPINION PIECE BY RETIRED BISHOP DESMOND M. TUTU ABOUT THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN VENEZUELA!

    WALL STREET JOURNAL OPINION: No More Hiding From Venezuela’s Abuses – Don’t be misled by news about elections — the government violates human rights, emboldened by the international community’s silence. – By DESMOND M. TUTU

    The Venezuelan government announced last week that it will hold parliamentary elections on Dec. 6. This news wouldn’t have attracted much attention if it weren’t the result of a 30-day hunger strike by imprisoned opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos. It is encouraging to see the Venezuelan government make motions toward respecting democracy—but a true election cannot be held when more than 75 political prisoners languish in jail.

    Venezuela must be held accountable for its human-rights abuses. We can start by speaking out against the imprisonment of the numerous opposition figures. Unfortunately, important voices—namely, Venezuela’s neighbors in Latin America—have remained muted.

    This reluctance to take a stand is startling. Venezuela’s economic and security situation is dismal, as is the government’s response to citizen frustration. Since the 2014 street demonstrations, during which hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans protested against the corruption and repression that plague the country, President Nicolás Maduro’s government and state-sponsored thugs have killed at least 43 people and arrested more than 3,000.

    During all this, Latin American leaders have been hiding behind excuses. When the U.S. in March imposed sanctions on human-rights violators in Venezuela, Latin American countries responded by adopting a resolution in support of the country, citing “the principle of nonintervention.”

    I understand the trauma of colonialism. Yet without the international community, my home country of South Africa would have suffered a lot more bloodshed. It was the boycott and sanctions regime, coupled with internal resistance, that ended apartheid, the darkest chapter in South Africa’s history. The international community did not really mobilize, however, until after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, in which 69 people were murdered for protesting peacefully. The world should not wait for a similar massacre to take action in Venezuela.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB11760718815427544683404581070303188592870

  5. DEAR Omar Fundora I THINK YOUR VERSION OF PRE-CASTRO CUBA IS A BIT DIFFERENT THAN THE FACTS DEAR! CUBA WAS IN PAR WITH CHILE AND ARGENTINA IN ECONOMIC GROWTH AND LITERACY RATES! IT WAS NO HELL HOLE EXCEPT FOR THE TYPICAL POLITICAL PROBLEMS IN THAT REGION AT THE TIME!

    PBS AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: FIDEL CASTRO- Pre-Castro Cuba

    On the eve of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cuba was neither the paradise that would later be conjured by the nostalgic imaginations of Cuba’s many exiles, nor the hellhole painted by many supporters of the revolution, who recall Cuba as “the brothel of the Western hemisphere” — an island inhabited by a people degraded and hungry, whose main occupation was to cater to American tourists at Havana’s luxurious hotels, beaches and casinos. Rather, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America.

    Success by the Numbers
    Cuba’s capital, Havana, was a glittering and dynamic city. In the early part of the century the country’s economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT, VIDEOS ETC.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/castro/peopleevents/e_precastro.html

  6. SO DEAR Mario! WHAT WOULD THOSE “volume of Cuban exports to the United States” BE DEAR? WOULD LOVE A LIST! NEVER MIND HERE THEY ARE! I AM SURE SINCE THE REST OF THE WORLD CAN BUY THESE PRODUCTS THAT THE USA PORTION WILL BE 100 TIMES MORE!
    Top 5 Products exported by Cuba Raw Sugar (25%), Refined Petroleum (15%), Nickel Mattes (14%), Rolled Tobacco (14%), and Hard Liquor (6.7%)
    Top 5 Products imported by Cuba Refined Petroleum (6.1%), Wheat (3.9%), Corn (3.8%), Poultry Meat (3.3%), and Concentrated Milk (2.4%)
    Top 5 Export destinations of Cuba China (30%), Spain (11%), Brazil (5.1%), Belgium-Luxembourg (5.0%), and Italy (3.2%)
    Top 5 Import origins of Cuba China (18%), Spain (16%), Brazil (9.4%), United States (7.6%), and Mexico (5.5%)

    https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/cub/

  7. So they’re opening embassies and DC. Good luck with that! However, at least one of the main ingredients is missing, a US ambassador. Because of who has the power in the Houses now, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
    Also the trade section is going to be rather quiet, because there’s no basis for lifting the embargo unless Cuba changes significantly. The Houses are going to make sure that doesn’t happen either…

  8. There is nothing to fear because of the opening of Empire’s embassy in Havanna.
    Nothing to fear and nothing to celebrate.

    There is only only one reliable, quantifiable measurement of Cuba-US relations: the volume of Cuban exports to the United States.

  9. I see the Cuban Right Wings is whining again…”Master…Master….I will be once again your house n***gger in the Cuban Plantation…we miss how American Corporatism controlled the Cuban economy prior to 1959. We miss serving you in your private clubs that not even a Cuban President could belong. We miss your money most of all and how you controlled our politics” Please, Master have Kerry bring to the inauguration of your embassy in Cuba a Donkey Kong harness as a symbolic gesture of the “invisible hand” of the “Free Market” for the Cuban worker to experience what we Right Winger Cubans have experienced in the United States…again and again ….anal rape (metaphorically speaking)….

  10. WILL KING OBAMA ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS! A HORSE, A HORSE! MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE! I MEAN MY FOREIGN POLICY LEGACY!

    THE DAILY SIGNAL: FIVE Questions Obama Must Answer About the Potential US Embassy in Cuba – by Ana Quintana

    On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement on reestablishing diplomatic relations. As part of his normalization bid with the Castro regime, the president has granted the dictatorship another in a series of dangerous concessions. But after Obama’s statement today, there are many questions that have yet to be answered.

    1. Did the U.S. receive compensation for the $8 billion in U.S. assets unlawfully seized by the Cuban government?
    2. Has the U.S. agreed to the Cuban government’s demands of restricted diplomatic travel?
    4. Did the U.S. make any concessions on Guantanamo Bay?
    5. Will the U.S. continue its support for Cuba’s democratic opposition and human rights activists?
    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://dailysignal.com/2015/07/01/5-questions-obama-must-answer-about-the-potential-u-s-embassy-in-cuba/
    Shakespeare Quotes: A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!
    Alternately pathetic and arrogant, the hunchbacked villain-king Richard III is about to meet his doom at the hands of the future Henry VII. Richard’s most memorable line is actually supposed to sound halfway valiant—he refuses to forsake the fray although his horse has bit the dust. But even in its day, the line became the stuff of irreverent quotation. Shakespeare’s contemporary, the playwright, satirist, and cad John Marston, parodied Richard’s outcry obsessively (“A boat, a boat, a boat, a full hundred marks for a boat!”; “A fool, a fool, a fool, my coxcomb for a fool!”—a coxcomb is a fool’s cap). Marston set the decidedly less than hilarious pace for generations of wits: the line is always good for a cheap laugh.

  11. KING OBAMA GAVE AWAY THE HEN HOUSE TO THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA FOR NOTHING IN RETURN! BUT OF COURSE THE AMERICAN TOURISTS HAVE SUPERPOWERS AND WILL CHANGE CUBA FOR THE BETTER, SOMETHING THE TOURISTS FROM THE REST OF THE THE WORLD HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO DON IN OVER 20 YEARS!

    WASHINGTON POST OPINION: Despite Mr. Obama’s ‘engagement,’ Cuba continues its repression

    IN ANNOUNCING the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, President Obama said “nobody expects Cuba to be transformed overnight” by his policy of “engagement.” That’s just as well because in the first six months of Mr. Obama’s normalization of relations with the Communist regime, most indicators of human rights on the island have moved in the wrong direction.

    Mr. Obama could have sought a guarantee, for example, that the Ladies in White, formed by the families of political prisoners, be allowed to carry out their peaceful weekly marches without arrests or beatings; as it is, attacks on the group have increased sharply.

    The State Department also could have insisted that U.S. diplomats have unrestricted access to average Cubans and could have rejected the regime’s demands that ongoing democracy programs be canceled. Instead, a senior U.S. official said that, while access would improve, the State Department had accepted “constraints” on personnel in Cuba similar to those in other “restrictive environments,” and that services provided by the existing interest section, such as Internet access, “might not be so necessary.”

    Since December, there have been more than 3,000 political detentions in Cuba, including 641 in May and 220 on Sunday alone, according to dissident sources. Most were accompanied by beatings; at least 20 detainees required medical treatment in May. After Cuba was invited for the first time to the Summit of the Americas in Panama, regime thugs attacked the civil society activists who also showed up.

    “Some of us had hoped . . . that there would be a stop to — or at least a lessening of — the beatings” of peaceful demonstrators, wrote activist Mario Lleonart recently, “but we now know that what is happening is precisely the opposite.”

    Visits by Americans to Cuba are reportedly up by a third, including plenty of political delegations. But in the months after Mr. Obama announced the diplomatic opening in December, there was also a 120 percent increase in Cubans seeking to flee to the United States. Many worry that once relations are normalized, the United States will stop accepting refugees; according to recent polling, more than half of Cubans would like to leave the country.
    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-reality-in-cuba/2015/07/01/5b891ba2-1b6a-11e5-bd7f-4611a60dd8e5_story.html

  12. The type of underground methods that this young man and many others use – his name shouldn’t appear anywhere – are the way to go. Overt actions attract attention from foreigners, who can help financially…

  13. N.Y. TIMES: Havana’s Vital Biennial Was Trumped by a Stifled Voice – By HOLLAND COTTER

    It had been taking place daily since December, when the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, who has a peripatetic international career, returned home to Havana. Her arrival coincided with the announcement of the political rapprochement between Cuba and the United States. Implicit in this development was the idea that Cuba would gradually loosen up on its policing of public dissent. Ms. Bruguera decided to stage a public performance that would put that to the test.

    The piece, titled “Tatlin’s Whisper #6,” is one she has presented before, at the 2009 Havana Biennial and abroad. Its basic components are simple: She sets up a microphone and invites anyone who wishes to speak to do so, uncensored, for one minute. This time, to raise the potential for provocation, she planned to have the event take place in Revolution Plaza, the political equivalent of sacred ground.

    Official reaction was swift. As soon as she announced her intentions, the police took her into custody on charges of disrupting public order. The authorities confiscated her Cuban passport and threatened to bring her to trial. If she ventures beyond the city limits, she has been warned, she can be expelled from the country and prevented from returning. Her case has gone nowhere since. (Ten days ago, she was told that the case was being temporarily closed and that she could reclaim her passport and leave the country. But as she is well aware, the case could be reopened in her absence and a sentence of exile passed.)

    Despite her legal limbo, she has not been silent.

    To coincide with the opening of the biennial, she undertook a live reading with volunteers of Hannah Arendt’s 1951 book, “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” The reading took place on the ground floor of her home. While it was in progress, a government-hired road crew appeared with jackhammers to drown out the voices. When the reading was finished and she left the house, the book under her arm, the police swooped in, hustled her into a car and drove her away for hours of questioning.

    The influential Cuban curator Gerardo Mosquera and several non-Cuban colleagues who were in town for the biennial witnessed the incident. Many other instances of harassment have gone unseen. Few fellow Cubans are willing to come to her defense, mostly, no doubt, out of fear. Although she has drawn vigorous support from abroad, her presence has been shadowy since her initial arrest last December. Cuba has one of the lowest rates of Internet connectivity on the planet. Apart from spotty email exchanges and Yo También Exijo (“I Still Exist”), a Facebook page maintained by her sister, Ms. Bruguera is from day to day pretty much incommunicado, though fully on the Cuban government’s radar.

    Whatever the end result, her performance must be counted a success, because it is enveloping, seamless and unstoppable. Every time the police pick her up or otherwise confront her, these officers play their assigned roles; every legal obstacle thrown her way extends the run of the performance, thickens the plot, darkens the mood and exposes realities that Cuban officialdom, including members of the local art establishment, may prefer us not to consider.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/05/arts/design/havanas-vital-biennial-was-trumped-by-a-stifled-voice.html?_r=0

  14. EXCELLENT ARTICLE!

    FORBES MAGAZINE: No Internet? No Problem. Inside Cuba’s Tech Revolution – by Miguel Helft

    Robin Pedraja, a lanky 28-year-old former design student from Havana, walked into the Cuban government’s office of periodicals and publications early last year seeking approval for a dream: starting an online magazine about Cuba’s urban youth culture. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans in recent years have been able to obtain licenses for small businesses, albeit only in a limited set of service categories such as restaurants, hair salons and translation. Media remains under strict government control. An online magazine? Pedraja was laughed off even before he could finish his pitch.

    He decided to publish anyway, without identifying the magazine’s creators. The first issue of Vistar came out last March. “We had nothing to lose,” he tells me on a recent visit to his office, a room the size of a walk-in closet in his Havana apartment. Vistar is packed with attitude and eye-catching photography, covering music, art, ballet, food and celebrities. “It’s a reflection of a new Cuban generation,” says Pedraja, who grew up among artists and musicians in Havana. Soon the artsy young Cubans who were reading Vistar all seemed to know who was behind it. So Vistar published its masthead a few issues later, with Pedraja’s name at the top, e-mail address included.

    More surprising: the success of an online magazine in a country where only a tiny minority have access to the Internet. Cubans by and large can’t have home connections, and access at hotels costs about $7 an hour, out of reach for most. To circumvent that problem, Vistar’s readers–a best guess is somewhere in the tens or hundreds of thousands–share the magazine through memory sticks or hard drives. Pedraja in turn supports himself and more than a dozen staffers through advertising–also remarkable, since advertising not tied to the government has been virtually nonexistent in Cuba for 50 years. “ We’re not waiting for modernization,” Pedraja says. “We’re pushing forward, adding our little grain of sand.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2015/07/01/no-internet-no-problem-inside-cubas-tech-revolution/

  15. SO WHAT HAS THE CASTRO “GOVERNMENT” GIVEN BACK FOR ALL OF THIS? NOTHING! OBAMA WANTS CUBA TO BE THE CROWNING JEWEL OF HIS FOREIGN POLICY LEGACY AND HE WILL DO ANYTHING TO ACCOMPLISH IT! EVEN IF IT MEANS MAKING CUBA ANOTHER VIETNAM, CHINA OR BURMA WHICH ARE ALL STILL BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND IN THE LATTER A MILITARY JUNTA!

    THE WHITE HOUSE: Charting a New Course on Cuba

    Human Rights and Civil Society: A critical focus of these actions will include continued strong support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba. The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of people to freely determine their future. The U.S. efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state.The U.S. Congress funds democracy programming in Cuba to provide humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and support the free flow of information in places where it is restricted and censored. The Administration will continue to implement U.S. programs aimed at promoting positive change in Cuba, and we will encourage reforms in our high level engagement with Cuban officials.The United States encourages all nations and organizations engaged in diplomatic dialogue with the Cuban government to take every opportunity both publicly and privately to support increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms. That is why President Obama took steps to increase the flow of resources and information to ordinary Cuban citizens in 2009, 2011, and today. The Cuban people deserve the support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba

  16. “the beast is feeling mightier”? Don’t think so! I think it’s more like a wounded animal that’s lashing out, afraid of inevitable change that’s coming…

  17. US + Brazil for Vzla, wow! Roussef, being a leftist, can talk to dissatisfied Chavistas (there are plenty of those). Maybe now other LatAm govts will be less afraid to get involved?

  18. It’s not the dissident activists I worry about. They get a lot of attention and backing from abroad etc. I do worry about all the millions of people that daily get ground down and oppressd by poverty, corruption and all types of insecurity. Activists do important work, we just need to remember why they’re doing it…

  19. Why The Beatings?
    http://translatingcuba.com/why-the-beatings-mario-lleonart/

    Mario Lleonart
    Posted on June 23, 2015

    Mario Lleonart, 5 June 2015 — Beatings of peaceful demonstrators in Havana have been in the news for eight consecutive Sundays. In one of the first rounds, the son of the labor leader Jesús Menéndez was dragged for several yards along the ground with no concern for his advanced age.

    On the seventh Sunday, between beatings and more beatings, it was obvious that another attempt was made to kill Raúl Borges Alvarez, this time with a sure blow to the chest–no matter (or, actually, because of) his having undergone heart surgery.

    Even so, with respect to Raúl, officials from State Security warned his son, Ernesto, in prison, and his other son, Cesar, on the street, about the the possibility of Raúl’s imminent demise from his additional ailment of “chronic pancreatitis”–the same condition that killed Juan Wilfredo Soto García on 8 May 2011, following a beating by police three days earlier–because of course death can be a natural consequence of a beating, especially if one has prior health problems, and it is well known that the area of the pancreas is another preferred target of the attackers.

    Some of us had hoped, following the announcement about normalizing relations between the US and Cuba, that there would be a stop to–or at least a lessening of–the beatings, but we now know that what is happening is precisely the opposite.

    It would seem that the beast is feeling mightier and able to strike with impunity. This is borne out by the 641 arrests in May, the highest number of detentions of dissidents in the last 10 months, and which always, in some fashion, involve violence.

    During the beatings and acts of repudiation against the Ladies in White, the political authorities have not hesitated to shamelessly transport the tormentors on buses that were brought to Cuba by the “Pastors for Peace” Caravan–an unintended purpose for these vehicles, we assume.

    Experiences such as the recent Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama show that the regime that is an expert in beatings is willing to export this modality of intolerance to whichever location in the world will receive it. The international community can confirm that the system which, for survival’s sake, accedes to dialogue with its historical enemy, with the world power, with the “empire,” is not ready to do the same with its own people–and even less so if the issue is about accepting differences of opinion. It’s through strikes and blows that it tends to resolve any matter with its citizens.

    The worst part is that many in the population have assimilated this modus operandi learned from Papa State, and it is thus that they prefer to resolve any problem, with or without reason: by hitting.

    Any male or female citizen in Cuba, however peaceful he or she may be, is exposed to the blows that come directly from the State, or from any of its many Frankensteins, its “New Men” as evoked by Guevara, who prefer to use their neighbors as punching bags before resolving differences through dialogue.

    Blows abound when words–and especially reasons–are scarce.

    Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

  20. In all likelihood President Obama is going to announce the opening of embassies. Cuba in the U.S. and the U.S. in Cuba….tomorrow Wednesday….!!! EU wants economic relations with Cuba more than fight Cuba on Human Rights. But, Human Rights issues are a top priority in the agenda for the U.S. and EU in the relations with Cuba moving forward. The embargo and regime change law in the United States is the biggest impediment to any progress in Human Rights issues.

  21. U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Venezuela on Table When Obama Meets Brazilian President Rousseff – The country struggles with a weak economy and detention of political opposition. – By Teresa Welsh

    The two strongest economies in the Western Hemisphere will discuss one of its most precarious when Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff meets with President Barack Obama Tuesday at the White House. The leaders will address the increasingly dire situation in Venezuela as the economy struggles and political dissidents remain jailed despite international calls for their release. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson confirmed that Venezuela would be on the agenda at Tuesday’s bilateral meeting in Washington.

    “The leaders are certainly going to speak about the importance of moving ahead … on many of the concerns that they have in Venezuela,” Jacobson said at an event previewing the visit at the Atlantic Council. “We believe and have for a long time that Brazil is a crucial actor on Venezuela. Its influence is critical not only bilaterally with Venezuela because of their relationship, but obviously within [the Union of South American Nations] which has played an important role vis-a-vis Venezuela.”

    Regional leaders have trod lightly when it comes to calling out Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for his harsh crackdown on the political opposition, but Rousseff has a bit more leeway than Obama does when it comes to Venezuela. American relations with Caracas remain fraught, and Maduro frequently blames his country’s domestic issues on alleged coup attempts from the U.S. Rousseff’s leftist Latin American government gives her more credibility with Caracas.

    “President Rousseff, although she comes from this Brazilian longstanding stance of not delving too much into other countries’ problems, she is somebody who defends very much democracy,” says Monica DeBolle, visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “She has this history of having been persecuted during the military dictatorship so … things that impact human rights is really something she tends to be somewhat vocal about. She has in the past, when referring to Venezuela in past occasions, she has reinforced this view.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/30/venezuela-on-table-when-obama-meets-brazilian-president-rousseff

  22. FREEDOM HOUSE: Cuban Government Persecutes Ladies in White and Detains 226 Opposition Leaders – June 29, 2015

    In response to the arrest of human rights activists in Cuba, Freedom House issued the following statement:

    “The Cuban government’s blatant disregard for its citizens was evident again in the arrest of Ladies in White and other activists, who did nothing more than march peacefully after mass on Sunday and call for the release of political prisoners,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “As the U.S. government normalizes relations with Cuba, it should press the Cuban government to stop harassing the Ladies in White and allow Cubans to express dissenting views.”

    Background:
    Cuban authorities have arrested Ladies in White and other civil society activists on twelve consecutive Sundays for marching in support of political prisoners. On June 7, Cuban authorities beat and arrested dozens of activists in different regions of Cuba that participated peacefully in diverse activities such as #TodosMarchamos to demand that the government end its repression of the Ladies in White. Last Sunday more than 220 civil society activist, former political prisoners and opposition leaders were detained, including Berta Soler, Maria Labrada, Aide Gallardo Salazar and Lismeri Quintana, leaders of the Ladies in White, Antonio Rodiles from Estado SATS, and Jose Diaz of Nueva Republica.
    https://freedomhouse.org/article/cuban-government-persecutes-ladies-white-and-detains-226-opposition-leaders#.VZLEJflVikq

  23. I liked the connection of human rights to the Nuremberg trials, Omar.

    It clearly shows that exercising journalism in abusive way can be punished by death.
    I like this notion of human rights.

    In the Nuremberg trial Julius Streicher was sentenced to death precisely for that. He was running a weekly newspaper in Germany, DER STURMER. He did not kill, nor torture nor ordered to kill anyone. He had no weapons, no soldiers and no powers. Just a desk and a print shop he had.

    Yet he was sentenced to death for exercising journalism the improper way. Very good! Journalists are not holy cows and should serve the Revolution.

  24. WHERE UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS COME FROM
    international human rights as currently conceptualized are based on Western European notions of rights with corresponding duties and natural law. He explains that the idea of restraining rulers via rights emerged in Western Europe during the Middle Ages as part of an inheritance from classical Rome and Greece combined with the Germanic tribal culture that dominated Europe after the fall of Rome. During the Middle Ages consensual elements of Germanic governance were combined with the Roman concept of contract with the result that political authority came to be understood as being based on and limited by agreements between ruler and ruled.
    For the English, the 1215 Magna Carta was an agreement between King John and the barons. This contract, like others in Europe between ruler and ruled, exhibited a number of features. First, the agreement involved reciprocal rights and correlative duties. Second, the rights and duties are rather specific. Finally, the rights and duty holders are specified. These features were carried forward into modern times and characterize the positive law of rights established by modern Western liberal democracies.
    The idea of contract was combined with the idea of natural law, which derived from Greco-Roman and Medieval Christian thought. According to the latter, natural law holds that all humans have a common essential nature that determines that certain kinds of goods and behaviors are essential for human development. Combined with this essential human nature is a common or universal moral standard that governs all human relations. Human reason can discern the natural order and the common moral standard, which applies to all, regardless of political affiliation, race, creed, or location.
    Thus, two different accounts of rights emerged from the Middle Ages. One being a particularistic, contractual legal account resulting in positive law; the other a universal, moral account based on the requirements for human flourishing. The politics of the two are different. From the first tradition, persons possess rights by being citizens of a state that endows them with these rights through positive law (Brown in Patman: 38). If the state is governed by the rule of law, citizens are able to exercise their rights and have recourse to the courts to protect them. By contrast, persons cannot expect to be able to exercise natural rights based on an assumed universal moral standard unless these rights have been legislated into positive law and are supported by a law enforcement mechanism.
    Prior to 1945, the contractual language of rights existed on the local or country specific level. With the creation of the United Nations, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the subsequent creation of numerous human rights conventions, the contractual language of rights was combined with a Western ideology of the universal moral standards necessary for human realization. International human rights legislation purports to create positive law in the same way that state legislation does. In practice, however, this is not the case since universally recognized, judicial enforcement mechanisms do not exist. The reason for this lack is that many states do not really want to see international human rights enforced. Even those that generally respect human rights are opposed to international supervision. The U.S., for example, refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of any international human rights court or of the new International Criminal Court.
    Does humankind’s common biology justify a common morality? He claims that twentieth-century philosophers, religion comparativists, and anthropologists have failed in their efforts to find those common characteristics in moral codes cross-culturally that establish a universal basis for human rights. The Universal Declaration’s claim that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” is denied by Hinduism; that men and women should be treated equally is rejected by traditional versions of Islam.
    The existing human rights regime privileges a particular, liberal, Euro-American sense of what it means to be human. Does it do so? Probably so. Those who promote human rights should employ a more culturally sensitive style of discourse that does not demean or belittle those to whom it is addressed. This would avoid playing into the hands of persons who seek confrontation and wish to use the alleged threat of Western imperialism to buttress their own authoritarian ambitions. “The need for a new way of talking about and promoting human dignity may itself be a feature of the politics of the next century”. Human rights advocates need a strategy for sensitive talk.
    World War II, with its holocaust, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and Nuremberg trials, was a turning point in the development of international human rights. Although many persons were instrumental in the drafting and promotion of the Universal Declaration, the French legal scholar, René Cassin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Chairperson of the then newly-created Commission on Human Rights that drafted the Declaration were important contributors.

  25. COMMON INTEREST POLITICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN EUROPEAN UNION AND CUBA

    Regarding themes of common interest for a political dialogue, the
    most obvious one would be human rights and democracy. The Millennium
    Development Goals (MDGs) would also be is of particular interest
    given Cuba’s mixed record regarding progress towards the MDGs. Overall,
    it is doing well on education and health-related MDGs, but more progress
    is needed on the eradication of poverty and hunger as well as on
    sustainable development, particularly access to water and sanitation. This
    being said, the MDGs could be potentially met in Cuba. This is also why
    the EU calls for economic and political reform, and offers its assistance.
    Climate change, sustainable development and environmental protection
    are other potential areas of cooperation, and so are disaster preparedness
    and risk preparedness, and the fight against drug trafficking.
    There are several fora where political dialogue with Cuba could
    unfold. First, the Bi-annual Summits the EU holds with Latin America
    and the Caribbean. The next one will be held in Lima in May of this year
    and will address many of the issues mentioned above. Other options
    include meetings of the EU Troika with Cuba are, bilateral contacts with
    Member States and the Commission, and of course the United Nations
    system in the widest sense.

  26. THE EUROPEAN COMMON POSITION TOWARDS CUBA

    The EU policy towards Cuba is based on a Common Position of the
    27 EU Member States of December 1996. This is the founding document.
    The EU’s main aims with this position are to encourage the transition
    towards pluralist democracy and the respect of human rights and fundamental
    freedoms in Cuba, as well as to improve the standard of living of
    the Cuban people. In line with the constructive engagement policy the EU
    focuses on political dialogue with Cuban authorities and civil society.
    The Common Position is a unilateral document of the EU. It can only
    be changed by consensus of the 27 Member States. It is interpreted and
    complemented by Conclusions of the Council of Ministers, again adopted
    by unanimity. A review of the Common Position by the Council of Ministers
    takes place every year

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