The Faces Of The Cuban Dream

The musical On Your feet! based on the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. (Matthew Murphy)

The musical On Your feet! based on the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. (Matthew Murphy)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 20 October 2015 — “What is the Cuban dream?” he asked, as one inquires about the hour, the quality of the coffee, or the afternoon’s weather forecast. Around the table we all remained silent in the face of this question launched by the visitor. More than answering him about the country desired, the provocation made me think about the need for our dreams to reflect that faces of those who hold them, the people who inhabit them.

I remembered this conversation last Saturday, while enjoying the musical On your feet! in a crowded theater on Broadway in New York. Based on the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the work transcends the story of a Cuban couple making their way in the competitive world of entertainment in the United States, to become a story of nostalgia, tenacity and success.

Before the spectator’s eyes, a story develops beginning with the pain of exile and memories of a life left behind on the island. A reference that is maintained throughout this play, currently being staged at the Marquis Theater in the Big Apple. Directed by Jerry Mitchel, the musical successfully details the transformation of sadness into energy and of the melancholy of emigration into entrepreneurship.

On your feet! is primarily a celebration of Cuban identity that manages to get the audience out of their seats and dancing, with tears still running down their faces. Through the excellent musical performances of Ana Villafañe in the role of Gloria Estafan, and the rest of the cast, the play captivates without becoming cloying, and connects the audience with the culture of our country beyond the stereotypes.

Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra in the roles of Gloria and Emilio Estefan (On Your Feet!)

Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra in the roles of Gloria and Emilio Estefan (On Your Feet!)

The musical deserves a prolonged applause not only for its artistic virtues and superb staging, but above all, because it exalts values our society urgently needs to reclaim. It is about the lives of people who inspire in way very different from the models imposed by the Cuban government’s official propaganda. Gloria and Emilio do not provoke uncritical appreciation, fear, docile gratitude, but rather the desire to imitate them… to overcome.

Someday, when Cuban children open the schoolbooks that teach them to read, they will no longer see individuals dressed in military uniform with rifles on their shoulders. Instead of that excessive worship of men at arms, we will find real images of success, of social, scientific and cultural achievements. In those pages the real models will appear, the faces of the Cuban dream.

59 thoughts on “The Faces Of The Cuban Dream

  1. CUBANS IN THE UNITED STATES- Pew Hispanic Center- August 25, 2006
    There are approximately 1.5 million Cubans in the United States. Cubans make up about 4% of the Hispanic population, which in 2004 was estimated at about 40.5 million people.
    The median household income for Cubans is $38,000, higher than for other Hispanics ($36,000) but lower than for non-Hispanic whites ($48,000). Nativeborn Cubans have a higher median income than non-Hispanic whites ($50,000 vs. $48,000). Among foreign-born Cubans, those who arrived before 1980 have the highest median income ($38,000). However, those who arrived between 1980 and 1990 have a lower median income compared with those who arrived in 1990 or later ($30,000 vs. $33,000). Cubans living outside Florida have a higher median income than those living in Florida ($44,000 vs. $36,000).
    Poverty rates for Cubans are generally lower than for other Hispanics, with some notable exceptions. About 13% of Cubans under 18 are in poverty, less than half the rate for other Hispanics (27%). About 11% of Cubans between 18 and 64 are in poverty, also lower than among other Hispanics (17%). However, older Cubans, those 65 and above, have considerably higher poverty rates than Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites. (24% vs. 18% and 7%, respectively).

    ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA- February 2012 – Report For Calendar Year 2011

    The following is the data for exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba relating to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, which re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural products (commodities) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSRA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized by the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

    The data represents the U.S. Dollar value of product exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba under the auspice of TSRA. The data does not include transportation charges, bank charges, or other costs associated with exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba. The government of the Republic of Cuba reports data that, according to the government of the Republic of Cuba, includes transportation charges, bank charges, and other costs. However, the government of the Republic of Cuba has not provided verifiable data. The use of trade data reported by the government of the Republic of Cuba is suspect. The government of the Republic of Cuba has been asked to provide verifiable data, but has not.



    An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is imposed. Embargoes are similar to economic sanctions and are generally considered legal barriers to trade, not to be confused with blockades, which are often considered to be acts of war.[1]

    A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. Most blockades historically took place at sea, with the blockading power seeking to cut off all maritime transport from and to the blockaded country; although stopping all land transport to and from an area may also be considered a blockade. In the 20th century air power has also been used to enhance the effectiveness of the blockade by halting all air traffic within the blockaded air space.

  4. So much propaganda has been repeated about Cuban immigrants in the USA.

    Here’s the truth:

    Cubans are not granted automatic refugee status by the US government.

    Every year thousands of Cubans die trying to reach the USA or are sent back to Castro by the US government.

    Most Cubans still don’t have the right to leave Cuba or even travel to Havana without government permission.

    Most Cubans who came to the USA were absolutely penniless, many came without even a shirt on their back.

    Because Cubans were much poorer than Puerto Ricans or Mexicans, and because they lived through Communism, they knew how much freedom and opportunity the USA offered them.

    So they worked hard and became successful, like all other groups fleeing oppression and misery.

  5. I agree with you Mario, the USA can’t get any other country to support it in the UN.

    Nobody’s afraid of the bad ole USA.

    Therefore the USA is not an empire.

    Not the case with Arabia, Islamia, China, Russia, even little Cuba.

    Those are real imperialists, buying and killing anything that gets in their way.

    Castro sent troops to dozens of countries in his imperialist wars of foreign intervention.

    Castro has thousands of troops in Venezuela supporting dictator Maduro.

    Castro even blows up American restaurants and gets away with it.

    Let’s fight imperialism and get rid of the terrorist Castro.

  6. THE WORLD: 191 – USA: 2
    The UN General Assembly has voted 191-2 to condemn the US blockade of Cuba, with only the US and Israel opposed.

  7. 14YMedio is allowed to transmit outside of Cuba. “El Paquete” (flash drives) are sold in Cuba to distribute the newspaper and other media products. 14YMedio is now partnering with a U.S. base organization to distribute the News. This partnering is going to facilitate outside news to get into Cuba via el paquete primarily because the cost of internet service plus computer is high in Cuba. This also will allow 14YMedio to reach to a wider audience outside of Cuba.
    Explosion of internet media has created bias publications. It is hard to find internet Media that offers
    the truth with facts and neutral perspective on the issues being discussed. These Media outlets are more concern with servicing their market and sponsors than they are about in-depth reporting. The result is oppression of the facts about issues with publications becoming propaganda outlets for their sources of financial support. The other oppression of the facts comes from its loyal readers who frequent the site because it reinforces their belief and not because it is a good source for sound factual information about issues.
    The expansion of 14YMedio by partnership with an American Internet Media outlet does not represent a threat for Cuba’s National Media. But, it probably is being scrutinize by Cuban authorities because Non-Governmental Organizations are used by the United States to project soft power and project the State Department policies of intervention and aggression against Cuba. 14YMedio can become the conduit for information from outside Cuba to Cuban citizens. The national security issue dilemma for Cuba is how much international information will be allowed to enter Cuba via this medium. Also, what constitute information intended to foment dissent and what simply is meant to be informative for economic, educational and social reason. American ideological communication needs to be identified and remove from the paquete and the internet. This censorship is necessary to protect Cuba’s sovereignty and independence. We know that there are many Cubans that are ready and willing to give up Cuba’s sovereignty and independence for American Capital and conveniences. These are the Cubans that “want to live like Americans but can’t pay for it”. These are also the Cubans that have migrated to the United States and hold Republican Party membership cards and don’t see any problem with voting for Donald Trump or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. The three amigos that have come into the American political stage to defend exploitation of the American worker, disenfranchise immigrants living in the United States and continue with the more than 100 years old U.S. foreign policy of aggression and intervention in the internal affairs of Cuba.

  8. If you read this today Tuesday 27th, there will be an interview with Sr Nieves tonight on the CNN En Español program Conclusiones!

  9. THE PANAM POST: Mother of Cuban Artist El Sexto: “Injustice Is All Around Us” – María Machado Says the Regime’s Punishment of Her Son Was Purely Political – by Belén Marty – October 26, 2015

    The Cuban political police have finally released graffiti artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado Machado, after holding him for 10 months in prison without trial.

    Cuban authorities arrested the rebellious artist in December 2014, as he prepared for a performance with two piglets he called “Raúl” and “Fidel.”

    Accused of contempt, the artist and activist embarked on two hunger strikes after the government falsely informed him that he would be released in August.

    The PanAm Post spoke with his mother, María Victoria Machado González, two days after her son was released.

    What do you think about that?

    I think art shouldn’t have limits, otherwise [Francisco] Goya wouldn’t have painted the Nude Maja. They held him there, because that’s what they wanted. They wanted to punish him, because they don’t understand anything about art, humor, or the way artists express themselves. My son has never even held a gun.

    Are you proud of him?

    Yes, I’m proud of him. I didn’t want to be persecuted in my own country. I don’t agree with my son’s ideas, but faced with so much injustice, my family completely supports him.

    We have realized that injustice is all around us, and everything is a lie. “Yes, sir. No, sir.” That’s what you have to say around here.


  10. WALL STREET JOURNAL : Venezuela Prosecutor Franklin Nieves Says Opposition Leader’s Trial Was a Sham – Leopoldo López’s conviction last month was ordered from above, prosecutor says after escaping to Miami – By JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA in Miami and KEJAL VYAS in Caracas – Oct. 26, 2015

    For more than a year, prosecutor Franklin Nieves argued before a federal judge in his native Venezuela that the country’s opposition leader, Leopoldo López, should be found guilty of inciting violence. In September the judge agreed, sentencing Mr. López to almost 14 years in prison in what most observers deemed a sham trial.

    Now, Mr. Nieves, one of two lead prosecutors in the case, says he is sorry.

    “Leopoldo López is innocent,” Mr. Nieves said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, his first since fleeing Venezuela late last week and releasing a video saying the proceedings were bogus. His about-face is causing a political uproar in Caracas and a thorny problem for the embattled administration of President Nicolás Maduro, the heir to the late populist Hugo Chávez.

    Dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief, Mr. Nieves apologized for his actions as the prosecutor who detained Mr. López and jointly supervised his trial. “From my heart, I want to ask for forgiveness from Venezuela, Leopoldo López’s, López’s wife, the López family, and especially from their children,” he said.

    Mr. Nieves’ change of heart offered confirmation for what the country’s opposition and international observers believed from the day Mr. López surrendered to police in February of last year: that his arrest was a political move by Mr. Maduro’s government as part of a broad bid to tamp down dissent, just as nationwide anti-government protests were kicking off.

    “This was a totally political trial which should be nullified. All of Leopoldo López’s human rights were violated because he was not able to present any witnesses or evidence,” Mr. Nieves said in the interview.

    In the wake of the revelations, Mr. Lopez’s family members and opposition leaders have demanded freedom for the 44-year-old leader of the Popular Will party, who is currently serving his sentence in a military prison.

    “This is very important because it shows that Leopoldo Lopez is a political prisoner and that the regime is jailing its political opponents,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Washington-based Council of the Americas.


  11. The album “Mi Tierra” won Gloria a Grammy for best Album of the Year, and recognized as the best-selling Latin album of the year. It was an international success, having been sold over 8 million copies worldwide by 2006. Gloria Estefan is one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, with an estimated 90 million records sold worldwide.

    On August 312, 2009, the song was played as a wake-up call for NASA astronaut José Hernandez aboard the space shuttle..


    Mi Tierra lyrics:

    De mi tierra bella, de mi tierra santa,
    Oigo ese grito de los tambores y los timbales al cumbanchar
    Y ese pregón que canta un hermano, que de su tierra vive lejano
    Y que el recuerdo le hace llorar, una canción que vive entonando
    De su dolor, de su propio llanto, y se le escucha penar

    La tierra te duele, la tierra te da
    En medio del alma cuando tú no estás
    La tierra te empuja de raíz y cal
    La tierra suspira si no te ve más

    La tierra donde naciste no la puedes olvidar
    Porque tiene tus raíces y lo que dejas atrás.

    These outstanding beautiful lyrics reach everybody, everywhere, around the world that live away from their countries.

  12. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA PAYS SLAVE LABOR WAGES TO ITS PROFESSIONALS! GUESS THAT “FREE” EDUCATION IS NOT THAT FREE! DUH!! — VOX NEWS: Why Cuban cab drivers earn more than doctors – On his worst days, Rafa, a Cuban taxi driver, makes $60 from all his rides. A doctor in Cuba makes around $45 in a month. The colossal disparity between these two salaries is one of the many perplexing realities of the Cuban economy. Watch why the Cuban economy is so upside down – by Johnny Harris – October 26, 2015
    Armando is a 34-year-old taxi driver. He’s also among Havana’s rich, and not because he inherited any money. I bump into Armando outside his Central Havana apartment at dusk on a warm Sunday. He has stepped out to have a drink of high-quality aged rum while taking in the evening breeze. “I’ve been driving a taxi for 15 years,” he says with pride, sipping his rum with an air of prestige not normally shown by taxi drivers. He goes on to tell me of his years driving a taxi he rented from the government. After several years, with a small loan from a family member, Armando bought a yellow taxi, obtained one of the few private licenses available in the country, and began making big bucks.

    “I have to pay $20 per day in taxes. But after that, all the money goes straight to me.” Armando has tapped into the hottest market in Cuba from which to extract his fortune: tourism. He can charge between $20 and $25 per ride to the airport. Doing that a few times per day plus some rides within the city puts him at around $1,500 per month in profits, over 30 times more than the average physician’s monthly pay of around $45.

    “I live good here, and I have no intention of leaving,” boasts Armando, in one of the rare moments that someone talks to me with no complaints about the situation in Cuba.

    His entire family has emigrated to Miami, but he has no desire to follow. “Cuba is safe. You see right there?” he says, pointing to a lamppost across the street. “There are five security cameras just on that one post, with police monitoring every one, 24 hours a day. You think I’ll ever get robbed with that kind of security?” He doesn’t need an answer. He continues, “If this were Mexico, a robber would pop out right now with a gun this big and stick it in your side and steal that camera in an instant. But not here. Why would anyone leave Cuba?”



    N.Y. TIMES: Venezuelan Prosecutor Says Opposition Leader’s Trial Was a Farce – By WILLIAM NEUMAN and PATRICIA TORRES

    Now, in an unexpected turn that has the country buzzing, Franklin Nieves, one of the two main prosecutors in the case against the opposition leader,Leopoldo López, has released a video in which he calls the trial a farce and says that he has fled the country.

    “I decided to leave Venezuela with my family because of the pressure that I was under from the executive branch and my superiors to continue to defend the false evidence that was used to convict Leopoldo López,” Mr. Nieves says in the video, which was posted on a popular Venezuelan website.

    Mr. Nieves says the pressure came as he was expected to help defeat an appeal filed by Mr. López’s lawyers. Mr. López was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

    Those who know me know the anguish that I went through, how I couldn’t sleep because of the pain and the pressure that I felt continuing with the farce, continuing this case that unjustly violated the rights of this person,” he says in the nearly four-minute-long video, in which looks directly into the camera while standing in front of a blank wall. He appears slightly nervous.

    A lawyer for Mr. López, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, posted a message on Twitter calling for the conviction to be overturned and for his client to be freed.



    TRINIDAD GUARDIAN: Cuba on FATF money laundering blacklist
    Cuba, which is at the centre of a money laundering case in which Republic Bank has been named, is on a list of 15 countries that have been identified as not being sufficiently compliant with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the inter-governmental agency that develops provides international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
    The list is hosted on the Web site of T&T’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is required to publish the list of countries by virtue of Section 17(1)(a) of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act of T&T. The public notice is dated February 23, 2012—seven days after it was issued by the FATF—and is signed by the FIU’s director, Susan Francois.

    There is a double asterix next to Cuba’s name on the list which draws attention to the fact that the Communist country “has not engaged with the FATF in the process.” There is also a note below the list in which the FATF “calls on its members to consider the risks arising from the deficiencies associated” with each of the 15 countries deemed to be non compliant.

    Anti-money laundering guidelines issued by the Central Bank in October 2011 require local financial institutions to ensure that, at a minimum, the guidelines are also implemented in their branches and subsidiaries abroad. “Where the local applicable laws and regulations prohibit the implementation of this Guideline, the Central Bank must be notified,” according to the document.

    Further, the Central Bank guidelines require that local financial institutions “pay attention to and report if suspicious,” business transactions “undertaken with persons and transactions with financial institutions in or from other countries which do not or insufficiently comply with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force,” such as Cuba.


  15. Jill,
    You want regime change in Cuba by economic bribery….isn’t this what the men who contributed to the Bible text warned us about NOT doing….”pray and worship golden idols” ….extremely wise words to live by….let’s create a “Free Market Economy” in Cuba even though we know it is not sustainable (politically correct way of saying…it does not work for Man or Nature’s survival for the long haul)

  16. Not in spite of it, but because of it. People everywhere circumvent too onerous laws or costs in a myriad of ways. That alone however, isn’t enough reason to lift the embargo. The embargo is the only thing that somewhat reduces Castrista power making it economically vulnerable…

  17. The album “Mi Tierra” (My Homeland), was released in 1993, Gloria first album in Spanish. Emilio was the producer, and he did not spare expenses and effort to assemble the best musicians.

    Juanito Márquez, one of the great Cuban musicians, composer, arranger, orchestrator, orchestra conductor, and guitar player, contributed to the album as an arranger, composer, player of the Tres and 12 String Guitar and conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.string section. The Colombian composer Estéfano (Fabio A. Salgado), wrote the lyrics for the son “Mi Tierra”, based in inspirations by Gloria, and two other songs.

    Beside the regular musicians of Miami Sound Machine, a number of top notch musicians are feature in the album. Piano: Paquito Echevarría; Bass: Israel López (Cachao) & Chamin Correa; Guitar: Juanito Márquez; Tres (Cuban Guitar): Juanito Márquez & Nelson González; Percussion: Luis Enrique, Nelson González; Timbales Tito Puente & Sheila E.; Flute: Nestor Torres; Saxophone: Paquito D’Rivera; Trumpet: Arturo Sandoval.

  18. The Cuban Dream? To live and prosper in a country where the cops are less smart then on the island.

    They fugitives come on rafts because they face arrest in any cuban airport. Upon arrival they are getting a visa and welfare benefits. No matter how many people they killed or robbed, US immigration does not dare to ask these questions. The plundering can start with Uncle Sam blessing.

    Did you know that:

    24% of the Miami-Dade County population is Cuban-born, but 77% arrested for fuel theft are Cubans?

    4 percent of Floridas population is Cuban-born, but 72% arrested for cargo theft are Cubans?

    Less then 1% percent of the US population is Cuban-born, but 41% arrested for health care fraud are Cubans?

    Cuban government makes big propaganda against illegal departures, but in fact they are QUITE happy about every raft full of criminals touching US soil.

    But this might change soon. 35 000 Cuban criminals may face departure to the island:


  19. Cubans succeeded in the USA because it was like heaven after their Socialist nightmare and they seized the opportunities the USA offers to all immigrants.

    Hard work and patience provided riches to almost all American immigrants, if not the first generation then the second or third.

    Only those immigrants who fled real persecution and poverty can appreciate how much freedom and opportunity exists in the USA.

    For other immigrants, whining and laziness are the easy choice because real poverty no longer exists in the USA, welfare provides for everything and crime is no longer punished.

    The Awards Ceremony Will Be on Monday, Oct. 26, on the University of Missouri Campus – Columbia, Mo. (June 9, 2015) — Seven individuals and two media organizations will receive the prestigious Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism during a banquet on Monday, Oct. 26, on the University of Missouri campus. Those to be honored are:
    +Yoani Sánchez, Cuban blogger, journalist and entrepreneur
    +CNN Digital, one of the world’s leading digital news brands
    +Barbara Ehrenreich, author and activist
    +Rea Hederman, publisher, The New York Review of Books
    +Gerd Ludwig, photojournalist and documentary photographer
    +Merrill Perlman, copy editor
    +Lincoln Stephens, co-founder, The Marcus Graham Project
    +Sports Journalism Institute, training-internship program

  21. THE GRAND ISLAND INDEPENDENT: THE LONG JOURNEY Cuban couple traveled long, treacherous route to Hastings – By Pete Letheby

    “From Ecuador to the U.S.A., all the way, we went north, to Colombia, then Panama, then Costa Rica, then Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico,” Ariel said through an interpreter. “Every one of those countries has relations with Cuba — so if you get caught, they send you back. They are all deporting Cubans.”

    The couple remained in Ecuador for more than two years, living with Ariel’s brother, Adonis, and operating a small food business. The trio began their daunting journey northward on Oct. 6, 2012, when they departed Cuenca, Ecuador, with $4,000.

    “We didn’t have an immediate plan to come to the United States,” Ariel said, “but it was always in the back of our minds.”

    Their journey was made on foot, horseback, a train, boats, taxis and buses. “We did more than half the trip on foot,” Esperanza said.

    Among the obstacles along the way: thick jungles, gangs, drug cartels, FARC (Colombian terrorist army) and the very real daily threats of kidnapping, extortion and theft.

  22. Health tourism is a smart idea. But I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, unless it has a social component.
    How about one treatment for a homeless American for each 1000 tourists from the North?

  23. The world is deluded: The cash that foreigners spend on health or anything else only contributes to perpetuate the Castrista system…

  24. Humberto, seriously, don’t publish any details about anyone who’s driticizing the regime if they’re not already known or haven’t given their consent!


    The following anecdotes were obtained from Cubans of various walks of life: domestic employees, neighbors in the Havana suburbs, USINT Local Contract National (LCN) employees, service providers such as manicurists, masseuses, hair stylists, chauffeurs, musicians, artists, yoga teachers, tailors, as well as HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, physicians, and foreign medical students.

    In one Cuban hospital, patients had to bring their own light bulbs. In another, the staff used “a primitive manual vacuum” on a woman who had miscarried. In others, Cuban patients pay bribes to obtain better treatment.

    Those and other observations by an unidentified nurse assigned to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana were included in a dispatch sent by the mission in January 2008 and made public this month by WikiLeaks.

    Titled “Cuban healthcare: Aquí Nada es Facil” — Nothing here is easy — the cable offers a withering assessment by the nurse, officially a Foreign Service Health Practitioner, or FSHP, who already had lived in Cuba for 2 ½ years.



    BBC NEWS VIDEO STORY: Health tourism boom in Cuba 23 October 2015 – Patients from all over the world have poured into Havana seeking treatments in five-star resorts – which are not always available to native Cubans. Opponents say this private medical tourism creates a two-tier system but others argue that the combination of healthcare and holidays brings in much-needed money to the country’s health system. Will Grant reports from La Pradera international health centre in Havana.


    WASHINGTON POST: Cuba’s sweet spot, between Moscow and Washington – By Nick Miroff

    This week it seemed like the Khrushchev era all over again, minus the scary red buttons. Moscow signed off on $1.4 billion in loans for a massive upgrade at two Cuban power plants. Russian cultural officials announced plans to build an art museum in the center of Havana. And Cuba’s state media cheered Russian airstrikes in Syria, depicting the intervention as a decisive, overdue effort to crush the Islamic State and end the civil war.

    Opponents of Obama’s new engagement policy with Havana say there’s more, alleging that Cuban troops have joined the fight in Syria. Fox News and U.S. lawmakers echoed those claims last week, but State Department and Pentagon officials said they could not confirm them. Cuba’s Foreign Ministry called the allegations “unfounded and irresponsible.”

    What’s undeniable, though, is that Cuba, distressed damsel of the Caribbean, stands to benefit once more with two world powers wooing it.

    Putting aside the claims about Cuban troops in Putin’s ranks, Havana’s new love for Russia probably has more to do with the shaky future of its key ally and patron, Venezuela. Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013 and the failures of his successor Nicolas Maduro have left the Castro government looking to diversify trade relations and find new benefactors. Or old ones.

    The United States is a key part of Cuba’s diversification strategy, but communist officials are wary of engaging too fast with American businesses and American influences. And they reiterated this week that they’ve learned painful economic lessons about eggs and baskets.


  28. CUBAN EXILE QUARTER: Poet and former prisoner of conscience Jorge Valls passed away in Miami – Jorge Manuel Valls Arango 1933 – 2015 – R.I.P. – There will be a wake for him tonight at Memorial Plan located on 9800 Coral Way, Miami, Florida. For more information contact: (305) 227-3333.

    Jorge Valls, a poet and former Cuban prisoner of conscience who had unjustly spent 20 years and 40 days in a Cuban prisonpassed away last night in Miami. He’d fought against two dictatorships and in favor of human rights and dignity and paid a heavy price for being a free man with a conscience. He explained what happened below.

    Like Mr. Castro, I wanted a radical change in Cuban society, but I also knew that authority would never become legitimate unless the pure power of violence was submitted to reason, and strict respect for individual rights was guaranteed.

    Without civil rights, the best intentions turn into a trap, and societies become prisons and asylums. There is a danger that we become as alienated and as fierce as the evil we think we are fighting.

    That is what happened in Cuba under the Castro regime. In 1964, I was convicted of “conspiracy against the state,” because I testified against the Castro government in a political trial, and I spent 20 years and 40 days in jail. I don’t regret my time there, because I was defending this essential respectability of the human person.

    Six years ago in 2009, Jorge Valls sat down and gave an interview in which he discussed his life, human rights and Cuba. It isavailable online here. In 2013 at a gathering of poets at an event called “Disobedient Poetry” he gave a reading from his collection of poems written from prison between 1967 and 1970 titled Donde estoy no hay luz y está enrejado (Where I am thereis no light and there are metal bars).

    SUN SENTINEL NEWS: The Lonely Battle Of Jorge Valls After 20 Years In Prison, The President Of Human Rights In Cuba Inc. Knows His Topic. And When He Got Out, All He Saw Were Windmills – December 12, 1992 – By JAMES D. DAVIS
    One of the few adornments in Jorge Valls` modest wardrobe is a medal of St. George. The dime-sized medal is modeled after one sent to him when he was a baby by his grandfather in Spain, who decreed that he become a namesake of the famous dragon slayer.The name has proved alternately ironic and apt. For at 59, as president of Human Rights in Cuba Inc., Valls has dedicated himself to the battle for human life and dignity. And yet, as a prize-winning poet and oft-termed mystic, he is viewed by many of his fellow Cuban exiles as less of a combatant against communism than as a Don Quixote, tilting at windmills in pursuit of an impossible dream.That dream is of a kinder, gentler Cuba. It is a dream that started in, of all places, a Cuban prison, where Valls spent 20 years and 40 days of his life.– In the 1950s, Valls was studying philosophy and law at the University of Havana. Disturbed by the excesses of dictator Fulgencio Batista, the young student helped organize a revolutionary movement at the school. During the revolution, he worked as an auxiliary teacher with the university`s School of Social Work.Even then, religion played an important role in Valls` life. “God`s presence has always been very evident to me ever since I was a child,“ he says today from his paper-strewn office in a savings and loan building in Coral Gables.It was on that basis that Valls ultimately parted ways with the replacement government he helped establish. In 1959, Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist and began to persecute the church. “People were apathetic,“ Valls recalls. “Religion was a very minor part of their lives, not a factor in government or society. Even while I was a student at the university, I remember a beautiful girl saying she would never want a man who got on his knees to pray.“


    This is what the Pentagon wanted:
    Subtitle D (Sections 1031-1040) of the NDAA blocks Obama’s initiative to close down “Gitmo.” It prohibits the use of funding to build facilities for Guantanamo inmates inside the US, their transfer to US soil, or release to countries of origin or third countries until a number of onerous conditions are met. One such condition calls for the Department of Defense to submit a detailed plan for all individuals held at Guantanamo, and for Congress to approve it.

    The Pentagon may not release any detainees to a country “if there is a confirmed case of any individual transferred from Guantanamo to the same country or entity engaging in terrorist activity after the transfer,” says Section 1033.

    Currently, 114 individuals are being held at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, 54 of whom have already been cleared for transfer. On Monday, the White House said that the president would veto the NDAA unless it offered a way to close down the camp.


  30. The Cuban presence in the United States goes back several centuries. The earliest settlers of the southeastern United States were Spanish explorers who lived in Cuba and launched their expeditions from the island.

    Before 1959 fewer than 35,000 Cubans Americans lived in the United States. By 2010, according to the US Census, 1.8 million of Cuban Americans were living in the United States. About 70% of all Cuban Americans were born in Cuba, and most arrived in the United States after January 1, 1959, when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba’s government and established a Communist dictatorship. Cuban Americans do not regard themselves as typical immigrants, but rather as political exiles.

  31. El Sexto: Newly Freed Cuban Artist Promises More Defiance After Castro Pig Art – by Frances Martel22 Oct 2015

    Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known by his stage name “El Sexto,” tells journalists he has no intention of censoring his art after being freed from a ten-month stint in prison after being caught painting the names “Fidel” and “Raúl” on two pigs.

    “I am not afraid of going to jail again,” Maldonado told Argentine outlet Infobae from his home in Havana. “This government has proven that it does whatever it wants and will continue to perpetrate any type of atrocity, and I will keep doing my work as I have been until now.”

    Maldonado was arrested in December after bring two pigs into a cab that had had the names of the former and current dictators of the island spray-painted on, along with green paint made to resemble the guerrilla uniforms the Castro brothers made famous. He was on his way to Havana’s Central Park, where he intended to set the pigs free among people in the park as an art project. He was never charged with a crime and never tried, though it is believed that he was arrested under Cuban laws stating that it is illegal to insult or criticize the nation’s leaders and the Communist Party. For his longtime anti-communist activism, Maldonado received the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent in April.


  32. Is Democratic Theory for Export?
    theorem of democracy: For a free mankind, it is best that the people should be sovereign, and this popular sovereignty implies political and social equality.

    n the democratic theorem, the sovereignty of the people implies the practical unity of that people. How to create it when it does not exist is a different task from that of developing free institutions and is probably incompatible with it.
    Let us return to our theorem. It calls for three difficult things: expressing the popular will, ensuring equality, and by means of both, distributing a variety of freedoms. These purposes imply machinery. How, for example, is the popular will ascertained? The devices we are familiar with in the Anglo-American tradition have come from two sources. One is the long, slow, haphazard growth of the English Constitution from the Parliament of Simon de Montfort in 1265 through innumerable struggles for rights won (and listed) a few at a time—Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and so on.6 From this history, Montesquieu, Locke, and others variously derived the precepts and precedents that influenced the making of the United States Constitution.

    The other source is antiquity—Greece and Rome—whose practices and writings on government inspired thinkers to design plans or issue warnings appropriate to their own time. The most famous scheme is that of Rousseau. His is also the most instructive, for although he is crystal clear, his interpreters divide on the tendency of his great book, The Social Contract. Some say it promotes freedom, others say it leads to totalitarianism. This shows how double-edged propositions can be. But let us see what Rousseau himself says. He takes democracy literally: all the people, equal in rank, come together and decide policy and choose leaders. This is the old Athenian democracy, except that there are no slaves. Rousseau goes on to point out that only a small city-state can manage that sort of government. Knowing his ancient history, he adds that such pure democracy is too good for men as they are. He agrees with the great minds of ancient Greece—Aristotle, Plato, Xenophon, Thucydides—all were against democracy; they saw dozens of democratic cities perish from inefficiency, stupidity, and corruption. (COUNTRIES IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN HAVE MADE THESE MEN’S CONCLUSION ABOUT DEMOCRACY PROPHETIC)

    In answer to the question posed in the title of this discussion, I have attempted to make three points:

    First, democracy has no theory to export, because it is not an ideology but a wayward historical development.

    Second, the historical development of democracy has taken many forms and used many devices to reach the elusive goal called human freedom.

    Third, the forms of democracy in existence are today in a state of flux. The strong current toward greater equality and the strong desire for greater freedom are more than ever in conflict. Freedom calls for a government that governs least; equality for a government that governs most. No wonder the institutions of the free world are under strain and its citizens under stress. The theorem of democracy still holds, but all of its terms have changed in nature, especially the phrase “the people,” which has been changed beyond recognition by the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century and the social revolution of the twentieth.

    a new nation can ask: “Popular sovereignty, the vote for everybody, then what?” That question was precisely the one put to Rousseau by envoys from two nations, Poland and Corsica. He wrote for each of them a small book that shows how he would go about being a lawgiver, a constitution-maker. These notable supplements to the abstract outline of The Social Contract are conveniently forgotten by Rousseau’s critics. For in prescribing for Poland and for Corsica, Rousseau makes the all-important point that the history, character, habits, religion, economic base, and education of each people must be taken into account before setting up any machinery. No rules or means apply universally. What works in England will fail in Poland; what the French prefer, the Corsicans will reject. WHAT WORKS FOR THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT WORK FOR CUBA WE HAVE LESSONS LEARNED FROM 1898 TO 1959.

    Political equality can be decreed, but freedom cannot—it is a most elusive good. Rousseau warns the Poles that they should go slowly in freeing their serfs, for fear that in their economic ignorance the serfs will fall into worse misery than before. This was Burke’s great point about the solidity of English freedom, which is freedom under a monarchy and what we would surely call a non-representative Parliament based as it was on gradual change through history, freedom had taken root inside every Englishman. Burke criticized the French revolutionists because they did not revive the old assemblies and thereby give the French some training in the use of freedom. Instead, they wrote principles on a piece of paper and expected them to produce the right behavior overnight. On this central issue, Burke and Rousseau are at one, as a fine scholar long ago demonstrated to a non-listening world in her book Rousseau and Burke.8

    This element of Time, of the slow training of individuals by history, carries with it a predicament and a paradox. The predicament is: How can the peoples that want to spread freedom to the world propose their institutions as models if those institutions depend on habits long ingrained? It is easy enough to copy a piece of actual machinery, such as a computer or even a nuclear weapon. It takes only a few bright, well-trained people with the model in front of them. But to copy a government is not something that a whole population can achieve by merely deciding to do it.

  33. Outside the setting of self-defence, unilateral regime change is highly disfavoured in international law. Forcibly deposing a foreign government strikes at the heart of State autonomy protected by Art. 2 (4) UN Charter. Although the Security Council has not responded to the vast majority of cases of regime change in the post-war era, the fundamental nature of non-intervention norms places a heavy burden of justification on proponents of regime change. For the most part the asserted claims cannot surmount this burden. Claims based on democracy promotion rest on uncertain developments in the law of recognition and a logically appealing but normatively weak connection between a regime’s democratic bona fides and its standing to object to external intervention. Claims based on regional democracy promotion regimes incorrectly understand diplomatic sanctions against anti-democratic usurpers to legitimize forcible measures. In fact, those regimes specifically disclaim a reliance on military force. Invitations to intervene by deposed democratic regimes find more support in international law, though only two cases — Haiti and Sierra Leone — appear clearly on point. Critically, the UN played a central role in all stages of those cases. Their precedential value outside that factual setting is unclear. Finally, the claim that regime change is a necessary component of humanitarian intervention rests on the generally weak legal status of such interventions.

    The argument that regime change can be a proportional response by a State acting in legitimate self-defence finds more support in the UN Charter and State practice. The US ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which elicited virtually no criticism from other States and certainly no efforts at formal condemnation, stands as the most recent example of a proportionality calculus that takes into account the threat posed by a regime’s continued exercise of power.

    Regime change authorized by the Security Council faces few contemporary legal objections. The Security Council regularly connects principles of governance (specifically democratic governance) to its Chapter VII authority over matters of international peace and security. And it has twice used those powers explicitly to approve regime change – the cases of Haiti and Sierra Leone. The Libya intervention is a more ambiguous case, with members of the Security Council sharply disagreeing over whether Resolution 1973 permitted strategic assistance to the rebels as a means of protecting Libyan civilians.

  34. Castro is “a bad man who turned an almost-paradise into a floating prison”. Never a truer word spoken. ” American money is now going to defeat Castro’s life work. ” Bring it on, please.

  35. Regime Change In Cuba

    Paul Craig Roberts

    Normalization of relations with Cuba is not the result of a diplomatic breakthrough or a change of heart on the part of Washington. Normalization is a result of US corporations seeking profit opportunities in Cuba, such as developing broadband Internet markets in Cuba.

    Before the American left and the Cuban government find happiness in the normalization, they should consider that with normalization comes American money and a US Embassy. The American money will take over the Cuban economy. The embassy will be a home for CIA operatives to subvert the Cuban government. The embassy will provide a base from which the US can establish NGOs whose gullible members can be called to street protest at the right time, as in Kiev, and the embassy will make it possible for Washington to groom a new set of political leaders.

    In short, normalization of relations means regime change in Cuba. Soon Cuba will be another of Washington’s vassal states.

    Conservatives and Republicans such as Peggy Noonan and Senator Marco Rubio, have made it clear that Castro is “a bad man who turned an almost-paradise into a floating prison” and that normalizing relations with Cuba will not “grant the Castro regime legitimacy.”

    Noonan forgets about Guantanamo, Washington’s offshore torture prison in Cuba where hundreds of innocent people have been held and tortured for a large part of their lives by the exceptional Americans. The Cuban Revolution intended to free Cubans from foreign domination and from exploitation by foreign capitalists. Whatever the likelihood of success, a half century of Washington’s hostility has as much to do with Cuba’s economic problems as communist ideology.

    The self-righteousness of Americans is extreme. Noonan is happy. American money is now going to defeat Castro’s life work. And if the money doesn’t do it, the CIA will. The agency has long been waiting to avenge the Bay of Pigs, and normalization of relations brings the opportunity.

  36. What is more likely to transform Cuban society is the increased flow of money to individual private entrepreneurs in hopes of building the germ of a new capitalist class. This method takes advantage of Cuba’s opening to a non-state sector of its economy that includes private businesses, cooperatives, and foreign and joint ventures. Officials expect that in the next few years this non-state sector will provide 35 percent of employment and 45 percent of gross domestic product. It is the private businesses that are especially problematic for Cuba’s socialism.

    The acceptance of small private businesses signifies that the leadership recognizes that a petty bourgeoisie is compatible with building socialism. As it is often said, the state cannot do everything. However, that does not mean the petty bourgeoisie is socialist. Cuba’s reform program has been clear that the accumulation of private wealth is to be avoided, in other words, the petty bourgeoisie is not to be allowed to become a big bourgeoisie. The prophylactic to that is imposition of heavy taxes and licensing fees on small private businesses and placing limits on their size. At the same time, the state gives advantages to the other major sector of the non-state economy – cooperatives. If a private business exceeds a certain size, it should be converted to a cooperative so that all who contribute to its profitability can share in the benefits. That is the socialist way.

    Co-ops are recognized as a socialist form of organization in the guidelines or lineamientos. In part, this is because they foster a social consciousness. By bringing people together in their daily work life in democratically self-managed organizations, co-ops nurture the democratic personality that can sustain socialism. Unlike co-ops that nurture a social consciousness, private businesses foster individualism. Self-interest becomes the primary concern of private businesses. For that reason, the petty bourgeoisie is a decidedly non-socialist class. While its existence is allowed, its growth should not be encouraged where co-ops can do the job instead. Obama’s aim is to help private businesses occupy as much of the non-state economic space as possible. The danger presented to socialism lies in the fact that if they were to become a sizable part of the economy, the state, committed to the growth of the economy, would find it increasingly necessary to favor its interests. The basis of class power is not just direct control of the state, but the weight of a class in the economy.

    That is why it is vital for the continued construction of socialism in Cuba, and that cooperatives come to occupy as much of the non-state sector as possible. Progressives need to think seriously about how we can support the growth of cooperatives – genuine, democratic, worker-run cooperatives. Cuba is now open to that and Obama has cleared the way for us to accept this unique opportunity. Obama’s strategy is to change Cuba, not through regime change, but by promoting capitalism within the country through support of a petty bourgeoisie. After all, that has always been the fundamental objective of US policy – to bring Cuba back into the capitalist fold. Solidarity calls on us to help it move forward along the road to a socialism for the 21st century.

  37. The song “Get on Your Feet” was released as a single by Gloria in 1989, and in 1990 in the album “Cuts Both Ways”.

    Now boys and girls get on your feet!
    Gloria Estefan – Get On Your Feet

  38. On Your Feet!’ Off to Strong Start at Broadway Box Office

    Michael Paulson

    October 13, 2015 4:21 pm

    Ana Villafañe, left, as Gloria Estefan and Josh Segarra as Emilio Estefan in the musical “On Your Feet” at the Marquis Theater.Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

    “On Your Feet!,” a jukebox musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan, barrelled onto Broadway last week, grossing $970,013 in its first seven preview performances and suggesting that the show might be the first new hit since “Hamilton.”

    The musical, which tracks the couple’s journey from Cuba to the U.S. and from anonymity to stardom, was the eighth most popular show, out of 31 now running, by audience size, and had an average ticket price of $96.54, according to figures released Tuesday by the Broadway League. The show, which had a pre-Broadway run in Chicago, began previews on Oct. 5 and has scheduled an official opening on Nov. 5.

    Overall, the week ending Oct. 11 was a strong one for Broadway, boosted, as it is every year, by the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Almost all shows saw big jumps in their grosses, led by “Wicked,” which was up $310,699 to $1,765,268, and “Aladdin,” which was up $275,938 to $1,641,903. Last week’s top-grossing shows were “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “Aladdin.”

    Another new musical, “Allegiance,” about Japanese-American internment camps and featuring George Takei, is off to a solid, if less booming, start: it grossed $608,241 in its first eight performances. A revival of “Spring Awakening,” which opened Sept. 27 to generally strong reviews, is doing only moderately at the box office, grossing $474,057; a production of “Dames at Sea” is off to a slow start in previews, grossing $194,663, though it is playing in a relatively small theater.

    Two play revivals opened last week, “Old Times,” starring Clive Owen, and “Fool for Love,” starring Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda, but both are productions of nonprofit theater companies and have low grosses because many audience members acquired tickets as subscribers.

    The Manhattan Theater Club, which is producing “Fool For Love,” announced on Tuesday that it was extending the show by a week, to Dec. 13.

  39. Sandokan….the statement about Cubans being the most successful immigrants was do to two reasons:

    1. The economic monarchs in cuba took with them their money from cuba.
    2. Necessary exaggeration campaign by the united states state department during that period. Cuban immigrants became tools for propaganda. A large number of Cubans today are doing worse than middle class americans


    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY: “Cuba and the Elephants” – Full version w / English Sub-titles: A Look at Cuba, in reality beyond its tourist attractions. A documentary that takes us to reflect on the achievements of the socialist system and how truly the common Cuban people live. A production of the Political Institute of Peru for Liberty.


    THE DAILY SABAH: Bodyguards of Fidel Castro’s son attack paparazzi in Bodrum – ISTANBUL Published – June 25, 2015

    The bodyguards of Antonio Castro Soto del Valle, the youngest son of iconic Cuban leader Fidel Castro who is currently on holiday in Turkey’s touristic district of Bodrum, attacked paparazzi who were trying to take pictures of Castro while he was exiting a restaurant on Wednesday night. Staying at a five-star hotel in Bodrum, Castro went to have dinner at a restaurant Wednesday night with his 12-person accompaniment, including Turkish friends and bodyguards.

    While he was leaving, Castro, allegedly drunk at that time and put off after he saw the paparazzi, returned back to the restaurant to wait for his private car to arrive. After he left, three of his bodyguards tried to seize the camera of a correspondent who took the photos of Castro, but as they were met with resistance, the bodyguards attacked him. The correspondent was slightly wounded during the scuffle, and the bodyguards fled the scene of the accident. Antonio Castro Soto del Valle, currently working as a doctor for the Cuban National Baseball Team, traveled to Bodrum from the Greek island of Mykonos on his 50-meter-long yacht.

  42. Simba….the wet dreams of many Cubans is to live like Americans even though they can’t pay for you can’t dicuss cuba without discussing the united states too

  43. Here I am again, your Self- Appointed Explainer In Chief. This time it’s about dreams and nations.
    The concept of the American Dream has been around fior a long time. Recently the Chinese Dream and now the Cuban Drem are being talked about. It’s the same dream that all humans have. We’re just all at different stages in it. Maybe realizing the dream is like waking up?

  44. There is good news and bad news.

    GOOD NEWS: Cuban “dissidents”, after suffering terrible persecutions by the bloody dictatorship in Havana, can jet to New York to relax on a Broadway show. Something millions of Americans can’t afford.

    BAD NEWS: They return to Cuba.

  45. As George Gilder wrote in “The Spirit of Enterprise” 20 years ago:
    “Cuban-Americans are the most successful immigrants in the history of this nation of immigrants.”

    This is something for which neither the Anglo establishment nor the black/Latino population will ever forgive Cuban-Americans; because they shattered the former’s myth of superiority as well as disposing of all the excuses which the latter had for their endemic failures.

  46. Yes…let’s celebrate the people that won the lottery of life in the casino/plantation system capitalism is….let’s ignore the other 78+% of the population that live in economic prisons. The entertainment and sports industries in the United States are the most lucrative businesses in the country. Americans, more than any other people in the World like to be entertained. They like it so much that professionals in these industries can earn so much money for their craft that it contributes to the decline of young people choosing the hard science professions in the country. If it wasn’t for the immigrants that come to the United States seeking their dreams, the United States would be in serious trouble staying competitive across all wealth creating industries because the People chase the money and not the need of the nation. This is another reason why the United States has created an unsustainable abundance over time that is coming to roost
    today. People can believe in God or believe the ideology of Freedom, Liberty, Human Rights, Free Market Economy or both. But, when dreaming is a way of life because all the promises of religion or ideology do not materialize for the majority of a nation and the reality, like it is in the United States today is greater inequality, the “bubble” of lying to yourself that is so common in the United States will burst with bad results. Already suicide rates among young people is high, gun violence is outrageous. The majority of the People in Western Europe and Canada cannot believe the gun violence that is normal for the United States. The number of people on welfare still is high even though the Great Recession has been over since 2009. The Media in the United States focus on celebrating successes of a few people instead of reporting how the majority of Americans are struggling with low paying jobs, bad healthcare insurance, high cost of transportation, no money for their children to go to school. But, the ideology of the United States is in your face every day of your life from Corporatism, from your leaders, from your educators, and from each other. The bubble is going to burst and is not going to be pretty when it does.

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