Author Archives: Eugenio Leal

Congratulations!


May 23 was Pentecost Sunday. On this solemn occasion I went to the Eucharist liturgy in the Church of Santa Rita de Casia, in Playa municipality, Havana City, where the Ladies in White also attended. The celebration has its origins in Judaism. It is the feast of the Jewish people in memory of the day when God gave Moses the Tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai. In turn, the Catholic Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.

It was Moses who led his people away from the slavery of Egypt and the Ten Commandments are the ethical norms which form the foundations of Western civilization.  At the same time, divine manifestation allowed people who spoke different languages to understand each other with the disciples and Jesus himself.

With a white dove, which is associated with peace, the Holy Spirit is represented.  The color white refers to the devotion we give from ourselves to something higher.  That is why when those who are adept or novices join some religions or fraternities, they are assigned to wear that color.

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, there have been individuals who are attributed with a special divine light.  They are considered to act directly under the protection of the Spirit.  They all share the common factor that they are guided by a light to help those who most need it.  With that same symbolism, the Ladies in White demand freedom for their relatives.

Those who knock down the battlements of fear and start reclaiming the space that belongs to them are increasing in number.  Upon conquering the freedom to communicate among each other, and with others who speak different languages and engage in different beliefs, they have displayed the violation of human rights that exist in Cuba.  The world has united to condemn the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo because the news was immediately spread from within the island.  Upon demolishing the stronghold of defenselessness, in an irreversible manner, those who have decided to take control of their own lives from their skin towards their soul have become empowered.  That is why we see the manipulations of the government to not acknowledge the rights of citizens and how they avoid dialogue with their own people.  That is how they intend to delay the necessary transformations required for our society.

Significantly, Yoani Sanchez was received the 2010 Perfil Award this past Saturday, in the category of freedom of expression, which is promoted by the Editorial Section of the Perfil Argentina.  The tribute took place in silence, behind the doors of her apartment.  In the midst of the insomniac process, guards surrounded the building.

The DHL shipments of diplomas, books, and other objects are prohibited by the State.  Invitations to international events, presentations of books, and conferences in prestigious universities, are all prohibited.

For those who have remained detached from the material, Divine Grace grants them a trophy.  In this jubilee, on the eve of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit protects the home of the Major Blogger of Cuba.  The Spirit came to her in the form of a silver dove.  Congratulations!

The Absurd Path

For years in Cuba, day after day, we have felt as if we were regressing. As the environment and our lives deteriorate, the official pronouncements in the mass media become more and more triumphalist. The devolutionary process is gradual and conditions psychological accommodation. So over time it has instilled in the collective subconscious an apathy and resignation.

The government has hung its ideological campaign on two hooks: public health and education. Public health care is in a precarious state, with thousands of specialists sent to Venezuela in exchange for the resources that have allowed the dictatorship to remain in power without making a democratic opening. Hundreds of others sent throughout the world help create an altruistic image of the government and the benefits of the island’s social model. Now that the congenital economic crisis has dangerously shaken the foundations of the system, they speak of rationalizing and optimizing resources. The reality is that medical services for the population become more deficient every day.

At the same time, education has been woven at the whim of the Pedagogue in Chief. His constant empirical improvisations, the emphasis on indoctrination and not education, as well as the exodus of professionals in search of better pay, have led to the worst moment in the history of education in the country.

During this 2009-10 school year, parents have discovered that their children’s access to high school and above would have to pass through a sequence of requirements. The number of students at those levels of education would be regulated. Because the country is totally bankrupt, and the state determines everything, it set admission quotas.

The current Head of State and his cheerleaders had already alluded to the issue in order to create in the population the requisite mental preparation to accept the new imposition, on an issue as sensitive as the technical and professional development of their offspring. The new approach is full of pitfalls, given that they had always emphasized that wages, and quality of life in general, were modest in order to make possible access to health care and free education.

The reality is that because of lack of attention, over decades, we have lost the tradition and quality in a whole spectrum of work in which there was a high degree of specialization: masonry, carpentry, gardening, among others. They created standardized qualifications for positions and, paradoxically, they underestimated manual labor. In theory, they were building the workers’ paradise; in practice, the worker is the means and the leader is the end. Leaving  productive activity behind and becoming a chief, if only with one feather in the headdress , was more exciting. The possibilities for personal fulfillment and quality of life were tied to the size of the bureaucratic feather and not to the capability and qualification of the citizen.

The result of imposing that unhealthy social architecture is that everything having to do with human beings in our society is damaged. No wonder it has been described as anthropological genocide. It will take generations to heal the nation. No other country in the region has suffered so prolonged and systematic a policy of degradation and subjugation of its people.

As a representative example of what has happened in Cuba, from 1959 to the present we have had the Inclán Foundation, located on Carmen Street, between Cortina and Figueroa, in La Vibora. According to the older residents, it was a school for children from low-income families. Students received a general education, they were prepared in appropriate subjects and practical skills while working in workshops within the institution. Once the State took control of all activities, of society and individuals, the teaching facilities became — everyone said it although euphemistically — that in reality the government leadership and the bureaucracy constituted a new class.

Millions of cubic feet of concrete were used to build tunnels. Today the city of Havana sits on a gigantic Swiss cheese, supposedly for “the war of the whole people.” The reality is that these would be underground prisons in the “people’s war.” However, for no materials and labor have been assigned for the maintenance and conservation of the once flamboyant and commendable Inclán Foundation. It is a demonstration of the absurd march toward ruin.

Not Even By Force


But time does not stop

On Saturday, April 17, at 10:00am I was invited to attend a seminar about Computing and Communication Technology (TIC) led by Yoani Sánchez, at Silvio Benítez Márquez’s house, in the Punta Brava area of La Lisa municipality in Havana Province.

Two subjects were to be addressed by the speaker: Blogs and Twitter. The first was based on Andrew Sullivan’s well-known post, “Why I Blog.”  The second covered “Survival Manual for the First Days of Twitter” by Delia Rodríguez.

I was aware of the enthusiasm and anticipation that was going around since others who had also been invited called me to confirm if the seminar was still on.  This was a part of it.

Yoani was behind the human barrier at the door.

But, we are aware of the warnings of our Apostle of Independence: “Men fall into two categories, those who love and build and those who hate and destroy.” Those with exclusive power executed another plan. They gathered at daybreak, situating themselves in the area to prevent access to the house. They even placed four undercover agents at the front door of the house just in case anyone of us managed to break through the ringed throng that blocked our way. These even attempted to block Silvio’s mother’s way.  Significantly, we were not intercepted–the obstacles cleared and the human barrier at the entrance gave way. It is possible they thought that our presence there did not matter much since no one else would be allowed through.

I recalled that Abraham Lincoln left us his classification of human work: Those who do useful work, those who do useless work,  and those who are lazy.  Rulers feel omnipotent with their useless, repressive strength that only paralyzes those who are lazy.  They tend to underestimate the creativity and strong will of those determined to perform, at all costs, useful actions.

I proved once more that one can always do good. We learned from Silvio’s family, that the old laptop was having technical problems and Yoani decided to check it out. Instead of the seminar, she held a workshop; three hours later, after taking the computer apart, cleaning it and updating its programs, we left the house. Silvio’s son, a smart adolescent was her outstanding student, who like a sponge absorbed everything he was learning.

At the same time, last Sunday, the 25th, elections of the so-called Popular Power were held across the entire country in every district. This is the reason why the group of retired members of the Communist Party from the area where I live and members of the rapid response brigades, among others, have been restless.  It seems my support for the Candidates Platform for Change has led to instructions for them to keep me under control. First they were expecting me to nominate myself at the nomination assembly–they waited for me, prepared with a strong response.  Now all morning long on election day, there were two people posted at the entrance to my apartment.  They are aware that I get along with my neighbors and have taken that into account. But I followed Karl von Clausewitz’s wise advise: “It is by our enemies position that we can draw conclusions about their intentions, and thus plan accordingly.” Therefore, on both occasions, I left them waiting and widened my social network of information in the neighborhood. They have lost moral authority even though they have maintained the formal one.

I know that the efforts of repressive forces are in vain–in his magnificent play to anti-Nazi resistance Schweyk in the Second World War Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956), the German playwright tells us change cannot be stopped: “But time does not stop.  The unlimited ambition of those now in power continues its course.  Like fighting cocks splattering blood defending their position, but time cannot be stopped.  Not even by force.”

Translated by HEFA.

The Kiss of the Blogger Academy


“Decorated” by Samantha and Samylia Medina Martín

On Thursday the 8th we celebrated the end of the course in the Blogger Academy. Altogether, between the bloggers and others we were 32 people, 27 students and 5 teachers: Yoani Sanchez (Word Press), Miriam Celaya (Cuban Culture), Claudia Cadelo (Blogpost), Reinaldo Escobar (Interactive Journalism), Wilfredo Vallin (Ethics and Law) y Claudio Fuentes Madan (Photography).Those who taught some subjects were students of others.

The interactive dynamic, team spirit, relaxed atmosphere and prevailing joy allowed us to come together like people in a fairy tale: The Musicians of Bremen. We felt happy and “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” according to the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. This happened once the classes were over and the meetings ended. Each one takes his grief in his own way: alone, with ice or diluted with the soft drink of his choice.

Me, I usually suffer from evocations, I remember my time in elementary school in the second half of the decade of the ’50s in the last century. At school I was restless, talkative and rather unruly. So I always kept a great distance, light years away, from the well-known scholars. In particular there was an award insignia, the desire of all parents for their offspring, which was awarded in a special ceremony. Awarded only to the brightest comets who had passed, with the corresponding level of learning, with a purified light, it was called, “Kiss of the Fatherland.”

As the old saying goes, better late than never. fortunately that happy and sociable little boy is alive and well today in the adult. His little friends, the twins Samantha and Samyra, awarded him the kiss of the Blogger Academy.

Other photos of the activity:


The Evangelists of Change


The Evangelists of Change


The brotherhood of Consenso, desdecuba.com and more…


Total list of the Evangelists of Change, graduates of the Blogger Academy.


With Wilfredo Vallin and Juan Juan Almeida


Between the chronological extremes, Rebeca Monzo and Hector William Riturreta, the baby of the Academy.


With Miguel Iturria of the blog Island Anchor and Silvio Benítez of the Platform for Change.

Survey on U.S. Tourism to Cuba

A survey conducted between March 25 and April 6, 2009, by World Public Opinion Org to know the feelings of U.S. citizens regarding Cuba, found that 70% were in favor of travel to the island. As proposed in the House of Representatives, the issue of removing restrictions that impede tourist travel did not garner enough votes to be debated.

This was the motivation of the Veritas Group to know the public opinion in relation to tourist visits from the United States. With this objective we developed the following questionnaire:

Tourism from the U.S. to Cuba.

1. Do you believe that if the U.S. government allowed tourist travel by its citizens to Cuba this would benefit our country?

Yes ___ No ___ It would be harmful ___ I don’t know ___

2. Would it be dangerous to U.S. citizens to come to Cuba?

Yes ___ No ___ It’s possible ___ I don’t know ___

3. Are you in favor of this tourism?

Yes ___ No ___ Maybe ___ I don’t know ___

4. Do you think these people should be able to freely stay and move about?

Yes ___ No ___ I don’t care ___ I don’t know ___

5. Do you think that they should only come on package tours, with guided visits, without contact with the population?

Yes ___ No ___ I don’t care ___ I don’t know ___

6. Do you want to interact with visitors: establish friendship, show them the sights, and demonsrate our hospitality?

Yes ___ No ___ I don’t care ___ I don’t know ___

7. How much should customs taxes be?

Similar to other countries ___ Higher ___ Lower ___ I don’ know ___

The research was conducted between January 25 and March 16, face-to-face by volunteers in the provinces: in 13 municipalities of the City of Havana, 4 municipalities in Havana, and the city of Santiago de Cuba. Also in the city of Matanzas and 5 municipalities in that province, over the telephone.

454 ballots were processed statistically. Of these 233 were females and 221 males. This represents 51% and 49% respectively.

For the analysis the grand total of respondents was considered. And by the categories: 15 to 34 years, 35 to 49 years and 50 years and older. We quantified the number of voters by gender in the general total and in the age groups.

In the category of 15 to 34 years we have 252 — 137 females (54%) and 115 males (46%). There were 140 between 35 and 49 — 64 female (46%) and 76 male (54%). Finally 50 years and older, 62 — 32 are female (52%) and 30 male (48%).

Likewise, the municipalities where more established residents replied that they would be dangerous to U.S. citizens coming to Cuba.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK TO THE SPANISH LANGUAGE POST TO SEE THE RESULTS WHICH, FOR TECHNICAL REASONS, WE ARE NOT ABLE TO PRESENT HERE.

Spanish post

The Two-Headed Cuban Hydra

ayuda

It has become an axiom about communism as expressed by the architect of glasnost and perestroika, Alexander N. Yakolevlev: “Communism doesn’t work because it runs contrary to human nature.”

The principles or sentences need no explanation. But, although it disappeared 20 years ago, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the so-called socialist camp, it would seem that what happens with communism was described by Greek mythology in the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Recall that in one of them (the second) the hero confronted, and with the help of Iolaus, killed the Hydra of Lerna, a huge monster with nine heads. Only by decapitating one of them, which was immortal, would the beast die. If any of the other eight were cut off, two more would grow back in its place.

For over half a century the Cuban Hydra has been the cause of misery, destruction, and the plundering of the national heritage. It has oppressed its people. More than two million have fled and are scattered across the globe. Some have been eaten by sharks as they tried to escape. The island is one big prison.

For years, complaints were raised by only a few voices crying in the wilderness, falling on the deaf ears of international public opinion. Today, by ruthlessly leaving a prisoner of conscience to die, the regime received worldwide rejection. So on Thursday, March 11, the European Parliament issued a strong condemnation regarding the cruel and preventable death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, as well as the detention of activists and the attempt to prevent the family from holding his funeral and paying their last respects.

The regime, heir to the experience of repression of all ages, uses scientific and technical advances in its action. They hope that, as sometimes has happened, the world’s attention will be diverted by new urgent events in the world, that the shame will be forgotten and they can continue with their excesses. We hope this does not happen.

In recent days we see, in a disdainful disregard of international sentiment, government mobs beating the Ladies in White, the wives and relatives of the prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003. Even Reina Tamayo, the mother of the deceased Zapata Tamayo, was not only attacked but they screamed that she would be killed like her son.

The system has used considerable resources to reproduce itself in the region and to project an image of social justice. It provides qualified personnel, in conditions of slavery, so it can consolidate its allies. These, in return, give support or repay it with their silence.

To escape this dark night, our nation needs the unity of all Cubans. It is time for those inside to act in concert with the diaspora. Just as Hercules did, with the help of the international community, we will put an end to the two-headed Hydra of Cuba.

Translated by: Tomás A.

Like A Bronze Boomerang

pequena

The wheel of power believes that the death rattles of its victim are from ingratitude.

Rabindranath Tagore: “Rhymes and Aphorisms”

This coming Thursday, March 18th, will be the 7th anniversary of the arbitrary arrest of 75 peaceful advocates of democracy in our country.  As usual, they have been demonized by the omnipotent power. Demonization has been the method used by the totalitarian form of government on this Island for the last 50 years. We remember that in the 1960s in the last century, those who dissented were called “worms.” With this epithet were stripped of their human dignity and so that the power could encourage mindless attacks on them.

A long list of pejorative terms entered the lexicon to describe the opponents: traitors, sell-outs, scum, mercenaries, and annexationists, among others. They further malign them by adding the shameful stigma of crime. Given their total control of society and its institutions they can create phony records of criminal offenses. With this they purport to discredit their opponents’ political activity in the arena of national and international public opinion.

The debacle of the government system is so great that the Cuban Communist Party has not been able to hold a new Congress, even after setting two tentative dates. The reality is that it has no programmatic platform, no credible plan to discuss with its own members and present to society. So unrest and demands for structural change are gaining strength.

In this context they want to appear firm. They demonstrated this by allowing Orlando Zapata Tamayo to die of hunger in his strike for improved prison conditions. In the face of the world’s condemnation of that atrocity, they started the process of smearing him after death. They want to create the impression that he was a common criminal, they call him a mercenary who was being manipulated. This does not hold up in the face of his indomitable will even to death, and the repression deployed against him because he would not show submission.

Demonstrating their characteristic arrogance, they think letting him die would stop this kind of protest. They behaved with the same malice that led them to summarily shoot the three citizens who hijacked a boat, hoping to ensure that the incident would not lead to a mass exodus. What they didn’t imagine was that a free citizen would make a decision to step into the shoes of Zapata Tamayo. Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, a licensed psychologist, is now taking neither food nor water; he leaves the regime unmasked, with all its miserable moral squalor open to the world’s view. The more certain its end becomes, the more absurd and irrational government’s conduct becomes. The rigidity, in the face of the just demands of a man who fasts in his own home, reveals to us how fragile and insecure the power really is.

The government projects a face of altruism and justice to the world. But it is only an illusion. We see that in the Havana park that honors the French writer Victor Hugo. Here we find a monument to the memory of the Irish men who died in a hunger strike. The words of Fidel Castro, inscribed on the plaque, now return like a bronze boomerang to hit the regime:

THE STUBBORNNESS, INTRANSIGENCE, CRUELTY, INSENSITIVITY BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FACED WITH THE PROBLEM OF IRISH PATRIOTS ON HUNGER STRIKES UNTIL DEATH, REMIND US OF TORQUEMADA AND THE BARBARITY OF THE INQUISITION IN THE MIDDLE AGES. THE TYRANT TREMBLE BEFORE MEN WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DYING FOR THEIR IDEAS, AFTER 60 DAYS OF HUNGER STRIKE! NEXT TO THIS EXAMPLE, WHAT WERE THE THREE DAYS OF CHRIST ON CALVARY, FOR CENTURIES A SYMBOL OF HUMAN SACRIFICE? IT IS TIME TO PUT AN END, THROUGH DENUNCIATION AND PRESSURE FROM THE WORLD COMMUNITY, TO THIS REPUGNANT ATROCITY.

FIDEL CASTRO  AUGUST 18, 1981

68TH CONFERENCE OF THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION

TO ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FOUGHT FOR IRISH INDEPENDENCE