NOTES ON RETURNING FROM CUBA TO LOS ANGELES
January 14, 2018. (I’m 74. January 6 is my birthday.)
If you haven’t had the chance to look at two unusually positive articles, one in the NY last Sunday, the other in the Wall Street Journal. We get so few on-scene reports from people who’ve actually been there, and provide good reports on what they’ve seen. But all the more surprising, and pleasing, to be published in these usually unsympathetic publications. Don’t miss them!
A Cuban Island That Has Played Both Paradise and Prison
The Isle of Youth — which has been both a Communist Utopian getaway and home to a brutal prison that housed Castro for a time — is a world apart, even by Cuban standards.
A Trip Through Cuba—by Bike, Bus and Cadillac
Even with the latest round of changes to the U.S.-Cuba tourism policy, American vacationers can still legally visit. Our reporter sets out on a weeklong excursion through the countryside, from verdant valleys to white-sand beaches.
Anyway, in 2017 I did these three notable (to me) things:
First, after thirty years living in the same house, I had the kitchen remodeled. It looks really nice now. I’m very happy with it.
Second, I went to Cuba for a month (Nov. 14-Dec. 14). My goal, as usual, was to learn. And I learned a lot, even, as an inpatient in the famous Cira Garcia hospital for three days. On discharge, they advised me against long walks and heavy exercise.
Back here I’ve been seeing a lot of doctors, trying to figure out what’s is really going on, and what I can or should do, or not do. One gave me shots in my knees which took most of the pain away, but I’m being very careful about how I move around. These were the planned achievements (not the hospital stay).
Alas, my energy level is way below what I think it ought to be, so I find myself frequently napping during the day. It’s taken quite a lot of time to write this over several days. It’s the energy level that’s bothersome.
Third, a surprise that I didn’t realize until New Year’s Eve. Though I had no specific goal, I lost FIFTEEN POUNDS last year. No diet, no special exercise, no tracking, no program, just learning to eat less and be satisfied les. I’m really pleased and proud of this, and all the more so as it was unplanned.
And, no, I don’t think there’s any connection between losing the weight and lack of energy. I’m in no hurry (where would it get me?) and, it’s counterintuitive. I’m having good communications with my doctors.
I’m 5-7, and hovering just below 180. This year 180 can be my ceiling. l hope to go further but no timetable, etc. I’ve dealt with this issue all my adult life. I’m thrilled with this. It’s the second biggest behavioral change I’ve ever made. (I gave up cigarets on June 11, 1981.) For now, along this path, this is my main personal priority. I’m doing as much written work as I’m able.
Perhaps if I lose more weight my energy level will improve. I’m feeling OK about my doctors here at Kaiser. Yes, including a psychologist.
My personal point of view when thinking and writing about Cuba.
From time to time I think it’s useful explain how I look at Cuba. Perhaps we can call it “stopping for station identification”. I think of it as a “Cuba-centric” approach. When I read about something, I wonder: How does this affect Cuba? What do Cubans think about it? What’s the Cuban media saying? That’s one of the reasons I like to provide original translations from the Cuban media.
Yes, I have my own politics. They are leftist and socialist, but I don’t belong to any socialist group or party. My goal here is to try to understand, and then to share, what things mean and how they and Cuba affect each other.
And I strongly support the Cuban Revolution, otherwise I wouldn’t be spending my time doing this. When I was 20 and 30, I thought I had all the answers. Now I know I don’t even have all the questions.
And so I always keep in mind Fidel’s November 17, 2005 explanation that,
among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. http://www.walterlippmann.com/fc-11-17-2005.html
After nearly twenty years of visiting Cuba, I Iike to say: I am BEGINNING to think that I’m BEGINNING to understand what I THINK I see. My writings and translations aim at helping people to understand Cuba’s complex, and sometimes boring, social and policial process.
People from the United States, the most uninformed people on earth, often think they know everything about everything, especially about Cuba. And few hesitate to express the sharpest criticism of Cuban life and politics. Many who’ve never been to Cuba, or just gone there to attend a meeting, seem to think they know everything about Cuba, especially what’s wrong with it.
My approach is that I try to look and listen when on the island, and read the Cuban media when not there, trying to understand the complex society which exists there.
The CubaNews Yahoo news group, and the translations I share from the Cuban media, are all designed to help readers try to understand a complex society. It is my hope and desire that readers find the materials informative and useful in their efforts to understand the island and it society. That’s my goal in this work.
Today is Sunday, and one of the main differences between Los Angeles and Cuba is that in Cuba, the Sunday Juventud Rebelde is 16 pages. Normally it’s just eight. And no advertising. And if I wanted to get it today, I’d have to go where someone is selling them, or know someone and pay them in advance to be sure to get it today. Every kiosk in Havana has a nice pre-printed sign which says “la prensa no llegado” (the papers aren’t here) so they don’t have to explain it to each person every time. Delivery is sometimes erratic.
Here in Los Angeles I receive the Los Angeles TIMES and the New York TIMES in print every day. On Sunday the papers are filled with advertising. Actually, before taking a look at the articles, I have to spend time shucking all the advertising sections which I don’t read. I give them to someone who collects coupons. Delivery is pretty prompt most days, Monday through Friday around 5 AM, 7 AM weekends. It’s a veritable mountain of paper, some very pretty, but most of it trying to sell me things I know I don’t need. Or even want.
We kind of take it for granted, or don’t think much about how the newspaper we receive is a private business whose main purpose is to make money by selling things through advertising.
The Cuban media, limited as it is by many factors (resources, attitudes, etc.) give the reader eight or sixteen pages of information, presented from the PCC viewpoint, on major issues. Its primary audience is Cubans on the island.
I’m a bit more interested in how Cubans and the Cuban media look at developments here in the US, like the Hollywood Sex Abuse scandals (deliberate capitalizing), etc. Through the years CubaNews Yahoo news group has been providing translations of from Spanish about life in the US and elsewhere..
Because of my various health issues and reduced energy, I’ve given up cutting, pasting and sharing long articles from sources like the NY TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and so on. It’s simply much too much work. And, I think most of the Cubans who want to read such things now have internet access.
For now, I’m going to focus on editing translations and my own writing. Some translations I do myself, others are by native Spanish speakers whose work I edit for English fluency. I always indicate that the translations are “edited by Walter Lippmann.” That’s me taking credit, responsibility or blame, as appropriate.
One very special translation currently in process is the epilogue to a 472 page anthology of Trotsky’s writings by Fernando Rojas, Cuba’s Deputy Minister of Culture. Here’s the catalogue entry to the book. In the epilogue, Rojas gives his take on Trotsky’s writings and his relationship with the Soviet government. http://www.oceansur.com/catalogo/titulos/leon-trotski/
When traveling to Cuba, my main goal is to try to understand a complex society. Cuba has achieved much because of its revolution. However, Cuba has plenty of problems, and they’re not all caused by Washington. The Cuban media provides occasional reports of such things, but they’re not always translated. I like to bring readers translations of some precisely because they are from the Cuban media.
While willing to share my experiences and ideas with Cubans, my goal there is to mostly to learn. The main things I have to teach my Cuban friends are some of the finer points of English grammar, spelling, sentence structure and headline-shortening and the occasional false cognate.
Before traveling to Cuba, I strongly recommend that everyone read, or re-read, HOW TO VISIT A SOCIALIST COUNTRY by Richard Levins to context for what one. People who’ve never been to Cuba before are often surprised at seeing many run-down buildings, streets with potholes and so on. Levins, who was also a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences as well as a Harvard, provides indispensable context to prepare for a visit to Cuba. I try to re-read it before I go, and after returning. I cannot recommend it more highly.
During this visit, I had a chance to catch up with people, some of whom I’ve known ever since my first adult visit, in 1999. And I keep meeting new people and making more friends. I’m going to write about and how I came to meet them, and what I learn from these people. And nearly everyone has something I can learn from. Will share some photos as well. In this way, to an extent, my eyes are yours and you can see Cuba somewhat through my eyes. Hopefully not through my blind spots…
When you have people you’ve known for long periods, you always bring hard-to-find items. Here in the US, nearly anything (except love) can be found online, in or big stores, if you have the money. In Cuba, one learns that if you see something and they have it, you buy it NOW because it’s likely to be gone tomorrow.
You might have the money, but the item is out of stock and who knows when more will come? So I bring things like books, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and, this time, adult diapers for a friend from that 1999 visit, who now needs them, and they don’t have them there. Occasionally I bring balsamic vinegar, often impossible to find in Cuba, but this time I found three bottles of the genuine stuff from Modena, Italy, with the certification seal. It’s unpredictable.
For many years, used book and memento vendors have surrounded the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana with rows and racks of books (mostly) and used cameras, old coins, and such. Those vendors have now been moved about a block away to a rather less-accessible place. I’m sure their foot traffic is way down, and they complain about it. Some are selling Cuban movie posters, a few political posters, and such.
I found posters from last year’s ROLLING STONES concert in Havana. I bought some and donated them to the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, a wonderful activist-archive which collects and mounts theme-based exhibits. In time, CSPG will be selling these.
If you have political posters which are sitting in the garage, perhaps getting mildewed, consider donating them to the CSPG. Read about them: http://www.politicalgraphics.org/
Today I want to publicly thank two young Cuban compañeros who contribute to making the Yahoo news group I direct most useful. Abel Gonzalez of the Cuban News Agency (ACN) and Dunia Torres of Granma post the English-language materials readers regularly receive. Through their efforts, readers get the information and analysis which Cuba makes available in English. I am deeply grateful to them for their quiet and consistent participation. CubaNews wouldn’t be the same without them.
ETECSA has just cut the price of domestic cell phone calls. It’s modest, but anything which saves Cubans money is always appreciated, especially by them.
Each month the Cuban phone company, ETECSA, has a special one-week promotion during which anyone living abroad can recharge the cell phones of Cubans on the island. During this period, for a small charge, fully legal under US law, anyone can recharge Cuban phones, and receive a more than double number of minutes.
This is the week that these special deals are offered. There are several companies which provide this. I personally use hablacuba.com because I save money on calls TO Cuba with it as well as doing the recharges. ding.com is another, and it provides the fastest service of all, often in just a few minutes. Help your friends and family in Cuba by recharging their phones now. https://hablacuba.com/buy/mobile_recharge
The one special treat I got for myself on this trip was the beautiful guayabera you see here. Every year just in time for Christmas shopping, there’s a big arts and crafts fair, FIART, held at Expo Cuba. Thousands of people come to look for clothing, furniture, shoes and so on. There are booths selling Cubang in national currency. Though I’m a very good photographer of other people, I’m a difficult subject when the camera is turned on me. This one’s pretty nice, I think.
From now on, I plan to write and edit more, as time and my energy level permits. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On January 18, at 5:00 PM, the photographic exhibition SOMOS, by the visual artist Roberto Chile, will open at the Collage Habana Gallery of the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets
From the representation of faces, symbols, rituals and offerings, perfectly captured by the insightful and timely viewpoint of the artist, we discover the mysticism and charm of an environment forbidden to many and that is exhibited here and now, as a photographic essay.
At the same time – in what constitutes one of the fundamental contributions of this exhibition – Chile shows us that imaginary bundle with which the slaves were brought to the Island: memories, dances, songs, languages, ceremonies, which, when interacting between yes and with the dominant culture, motivated the so-called religious expressions of African origin.
In the words of Rafael Acosta de Arriba, in his words to the catalog, “all the religious syncretism that these images reflect is based on the strength and relevance of the subjects who stage them, masterfully recorded by their eye”.
Somos, dedicated to the memory of Enriquito de La Hata, will remain open to the public until February 18, at the headquarters of the gallery, which is located on San Rafael, between the Consulado and Industria, Centro Habana, and may be visited at the usual hours.
La galería Collage Habana del Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales, inaugurará el 18 de enero de 2018, a las 5:00 p.m., la muestra fotográfica Somos, del artista visual Roberto Chile.
A partir de la representación de rostros, símbolos, rituales y ofrendas, perfectamente captados por la mirada perspicaz y oportuna del artista, se nos revela el misticismo y encanto de un ámbito vedado para muchos y que se exhibe aquí y ahora, cual ensayo fotográfico.
Al mismo tiempo – en lo que constituye uno de los aportes fundamentales de esta muestra – Chile nos asoma a ese fardo imaginario con el que los esclavos fueron acarreados a la Isla: memorias, bailes, cantos, lenguas, ceremonias, que, al interactuar entre sí y con la cultura dominante, motivaron las llamadas expresiones religiosas de origen africano.
Al decir de Rafael Acosta de Arriba en sus palabras al catálogo, “todo el sincretismo religioso que reflejan estas imágenes parte de la fuerza y relevancia que poseen los sujetos que las escenifican, registrados magistralmente por su ojo”.
Somos , dedicada a la memoria de Enriquito de La Hata, permanecerá abierta al público hasta el 18 de febrero, en la sede de la galería, que se ubica en San Rafael, entre Consulado e Industria, Centro Habana, y podrá ser visitada en los horarios habituales.
By Adán Iglesias Toledo
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The days-long shooting in various locations of the American film franchise Fast and Furious brimmed with day-to-day scenes of Cuban costumbrismo [“getting used to it-ism]among passers-by and neighbors.
Many streets closed to traffic or temporary detours, countless fly-bys of a filming chopper, the high number of people hired to keep onlookers at bay or silent, and Hollywood’s impressive amount of movie-making equipment… quite a breeding ground for a diversity of comments. Vin Diesel, the famous main character, waved to and greeted many locals with Spanish phrases as he drove around the municipality of El Cerro. It was nobody’s idea, as you can check on YouTube, where this and other videos of the cast and the shooting were posted.
That Central Havana’s El Curita park was closed to the public several days in advance became the talk of the town, but the funny thing was that, if you asked any of the improvised watchdogs what was going on there, the answer was that they were not authorized to say, which would sow all the more speculation and intrigue.
However, it is not my purpose here to question why so many shops and markets near the shooting locations were closed: my comment has to do with another store. In one of those mandatory tours to go around the no-pedestrians-allowed areas, I went into [the department store] Ultra at Galiano Ave. and San Rafael St. to buy a wall stand for a microwave oven. I spoke to a salesperson who was leaning on some boxes of such devices, but when I told him what I wanted, his not unkind reply was:
“Look, I don’t have any; you’d better talk to that other salesman over there.” So I approached the guy, together with the first salesman. They exchanged a few words, and the second one asked me what color I preferred. Anyone would believe that they should be receiving a fast professional service, but, as it turned out, their initial exchange was intended to call a scalper and have him bring the relevant item. Even as you realize what they’re up to, it’s difficult to make up your mind on the spur of the moment. Finding yourself “involved” in such a shady deal made me feel very uncomfortable, not to mention my strong sense of outrage at seeing two employees who are supposed to live on their salary trying to turn my purchase to their own profit instead.
I was so upset at their shamelessness that the solution I chose was to get out of that store right away.
By Arturo Chang
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The classics of Marxism did not offer finished definitions of Social Class… perhaps intentionally
Worse than the emergence of the nouveau rich, could be the disguised revivals of past ills. (Alfredo Martirena Hernandez / Cubahora)…
In the late 60s of last century –when everywhere in Cuba handbooks on Marxism-Leninism were studied– among the many topics discussed was the definition of Social Class.
We could not manage to agree, since each author gave an interpretation based on their own approach. When we read the original texts of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, we found no conclusive or complete definition, so we returned to new rounds of discussions, brandishing current facts. It then seemed that the continuing validity of the ideas of the classics of Marxism was based precisely on their nature of work in permanent enrichment.
In the only issue where there was a more general coincidence was in the admission of the existence of the working class and the peasants. Hence, especially on May Day celebrations, slogans on the worker-peasant alliance were common. Everything else was said to be strata, sectors, groups … and some others, more daring, mentioned castes.
Times change. Or rather time goes by, and everything is transformed. So, in Cuba in the present, in addition to the workers and peasants, the non-state sector is increasingly visible, engrossed with non-agricultural cooperatives, tenants, the self-employed and also those that without being any of these –or being in any of the areas defined or to be defined– amass a fortune: the new rich, those that our colleague Nelson Garcia Santos identified with the following sentence: those who only care about making more money.
If there are new classes or people who form the social foundation for another project aimed at capitalism, these are matters well worth debating to clarify them at every historical moment. Particularly at this moment, when it is becoming increasingly clear that life is markedly different after the qualitative changes of the 90s as a result of the quantitative accumulation of events derived from the collapse of the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
In one of the recent chapters of the Cuban soap opera Latidos compartidos [Shared Heartbeats], Buey de Oro [one of the characters] declared: “Money changes people.” Therefore, regardless of any theoretical discussion of whether or not the new rich are a social class, there is no doubt that the character played by Jorge Martinez is absolutely right. Money is able to transform legitimate aspirations into fierce individualism by which individual interests collide with social interests, or uses these as a tool to meet selfish interests at the expense of other citizens.
Neighborly love and sacrifice for the sake of others and the future cannot be achieved by decree. What good is giving an order or a long-winded and excessive didactic harangue on the human values that must prevail, also in cases when life puts us in the position of having a lot of money? Or will it be necessary to prevent people from having such monetary sums to keep the beast within us from coming out?
These thoughts can make us look back at the Marxist texts referring to the accumulation of quantitative changes causing qualitative changes, i.e., that at some level, a phenomenon or a person becomes different. And speaking of a certain level or measure, there is a song by Alberto Cortez that says in one of its parts:
Man is not always satisfied
with what he has.
If there are many rights
There are also many duties.
Sometimes the most desired
is a rotten fruit.
Not too little, or too much;
It’s all a matter of the right measure.
Los clásicos del marxismo no dieron definiciones acabadas de Clase Social, quizás con toda intención…
por Arturo Chang
En los finales de la década de los 60 del siglo pasado, cuando por doquier se estudiaban en Cuba manuales relacionados con elmarxismo leninismo, entre los tantos temas a debate, estaba la definición de Clase social.
No lográbamos ponernos de acuerdo, pues cada autor daba una interpretación con enfoques propios, y cuando íbamos a textos originales de Carlos Marx y Federico Engels, no había ninguna definición concluyente ni completa, por lo que volvíamos a nuevas rondas de discusiones, esgrimiendo hechos de actualidad, y entonces tal parecía que la validez permanente de las ideas de los clásicos del marxismo estaba basada precisamente en su carácter de obra en permanente enriquecimiento.
En lo único que había más coincidencias era en admitir la existencia de la clase obrera y de la campesina. De ahí que, sobre todo en las celebraciones del Primero de Mayo, eran comunes las consignas sobre la alianza obrero- campesina. A todos los demás, se decía que eran estamentos, estratos, sectores, grupos… y algún que otro más atrevido, mencionaba a las castas.
Los tiempos cambian. O mejor, el tiempo transcurre, y todo va transformándose, por lo cual en el presente cubano, además de los trabajadores y campesinos, cada vez son más visibles los del sector no estatal, incrementado con cooperativistas no agropecuarios, arrendatarios, cuentapropistas y también los que sin estar, o estando en alguna de las áreas definidas o por definir, amasan una gran fortuna: los nuevos ricos, esos que el colega Nelson García Santos identificó con la siguiente frase: a esos lo único que les interesa es hacer más dinero.
Si hay nuevas clases sociales o personas que forman la base social de otro proyecto tendente al capitalismo, son asuntos que bien vale la pena debatir para esclarecerlos en cada momento histórico, particularmente en este en que está quedando cada vez más claro que la vida es marcadamente diferente después que en los años 90 ocurrieron cambios cualitativos a partir de la acumulación cuantitativa de hechos derivados del derrumbe del campo socialista de Europa del Este y la desintegración de la Unión Soviética.
En uno de los recientes capítulos de la telenovela cubana Latidos compartidos, Buey de Oro sentenciaba: “El dinero cambia a la gente”. Por tanto, al margen de cualquier discusión teórica de si los nuevos ricos son o no una clase social, no caben dudas de que el personaje encarnado por Jorge Martínez tiene toda la razón. El dinero es capaz de hacer que legítimas aspiraciones personales se tornen en un individualismo feroz en el cual los intereses del individuo chocan con los sociales, o usa estos como instrumento para satisfacer sus egoísmos en detrimento del resto de la ciudadanía.
El amor al prójimo y el sacrificio en aras de los demás y del futuro no se logran por decreto. ¿De qué vale dar una orden o una arenga cansona y con exceso de didactismo sobre los valores humanos que deben prevalecer también en los casos en que la vida nos ponga en la posición de tener mucho dinero? ¿O habrá que evitar que la gente tengo tales sumas monetarias para impedir que se nos salga esa bestia que llevamos dentro?
Estos pensamientos pueden hacernos volver la mirada hacia los textos marxistas referidos a que la acumulación de cambios cuantitativos causa cambios cualitativos, es decir, que en determinado nivel, un fenómeno o persona se torna en otra diferente. Y hablando de determinado nivel o medida, una melodía de Alberto Cortez dice en una de sus partes:
No siempre está satisfecho
el hombre con lo que tiene.
Si muchos son los derechos,
muchos también los deberes.
A veces lo más deseado
es una fruta podrida.
Ni poco ni demasiado,
todo es cuestión de medida.
En uno de los comentarios a Los nuevos ricos Mayra decía:
“La solución la veo en implementar impuestos, que devuelvan a la sociedad lo que les da en beneficio, pues siguen gozando de salud y educación gratuitas y otras oportunidades. Ellos quieren que las cosas cambien, pues creen que todo se compra con dinero. Por ejemplo, algunos dicen: “Ya la libreta de abastecimiento es algo anacrónico”, porque juzgan por sus bolsillos, pero a un trabajador aún lo beneficia recibir estos alimentos subsidiados. Mañana dirán: “Que se privatice la educación y la salud”. Esos que han acumulado riquezas dentro de la sociedad socialista, de la manera que sea, constituyen caldo de cultivo para el cambio que quieren Obama y EEUU.”
Entre los tantos comentarios interesantes en Lo particular, privado y la lluvia está el de Scorpio63: “Hoy no me preocupan los Nuevos Ricos, si se enriquecen con su trabajo honrado (y actúan fieles a valores éticos y morales), desde luego tenemos que vigilar; que en las formas de gestión no estatales no se permita la concentración de la propiedad en personas jurídicas o naturales. Me preocupa más y me ocupa cada día, el pensar que seguimos con un sector estatal muy ineficiente (y no toda la culpa se lo debemos echar al bloqueo) que no vemos los resultados, ni se muestra la mínima transformación para enfrentar y competir con la “oferta y demanda” que llegó para quedarse; y ese propio sector estatal la aplica para justificar sus incumplimientos y solución a los problemas de la sociedad. Es cierto que no debemos aceptar y sí rebatir con patriotismo lo que nos ofrece Obama, pero sí amigo Chang, es muy bueno reconocer que los pasos que damos van muy lentos, Saludos.”
¡Qué clase de problemas tan complicados se presentan! Sobre todo, el de las condiciones en que se desarrolla la lucha de clases.
during the closing ceremony of the Sixth Session of the Seventh Legislature of the National People’s Power Assembly at Havana’s Conference Center. December 18th, 2010, “Year 52 of the Revolution.”
December 18th, 2010
After the publication of the Draft Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy on November 9th last, the train of the Sixth Party Congress has taken on steam. The true congress will be the open and honest discussions –as is being the case- of said Guidelines by Party members and the entire people. This genuine democratic exercise will allow us to further enrich that document and, without excluding divergent opinions, we intend to achieve a national consensus about the need and urgency of introducing strategic changes in the way the economy operates, so that Socialism in Cuba could be sustainable and irreversible.
We should not be afraid of opposing criteria. This instruction, which is not new, should not be construed as one applicable only to the discussions of the Guidelines. The differences of opinion, preferably expressed in the proper place, time and way, that is, at the right place, at the right moment and in the correct form, shall always be more desirable than the false unanimity based on pretence and opportunism. Moreover, this is a right nobody should be deprived of.
The more ideas we are capable of inspiring in the analysis of any given problem, the closer we shall come to its appropriate solution.
AT THE CLOSING SESSION OF THE 9TH CONGRESS OF THE YOUNG COMMUNIST LEAGUE, HAVANA, APRIL 4, 2010, YEAR 52 OF THE REVOLUTION
APRIL 4, 2010
Today more than ever we need cadres that can carry on an effective ideological work that cannot be a dialogue of the deaf or a mechanical repetition of slogans. We need leaders who bring sound arguments to the discussion, who do not think they own the absolute truth; leaders who are good listeners even if they don’t like what some people say; leaders who are capable of examining other peoples’ views with an open mind, which does not exclude the need to refute with sound arguments and energy those views considered unacceptable.
Such leaders should foster open discussions and not consider discrepancy a problem but rather the source of the best solutions. In general, absolute unanimity is fictitious, therefore, harmful. When contradictions are not antagonistic, as in our case, they can become the driving force of development. We should deliberately suppress anything that feeds pretending and opportunism. We should learn to work collegially, to encourage unity and to strengthen collective leadership; these features should characterize the future leaders of the Revolution.
Author: Lourdes Perez Navarro
January 10, 2009 0:40:08 CDT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A little over two years ago, the Resolution 188 of 2006, issued by the Minister of Labor and Social Security, came into effect. Consequently, institutions created or updated their internal disciplinary regulations. The aim was to strengthen labor discipline, educate the workers and deal with the lack of discipline and illegalities present in work places.
The draft [of this Resolution] was discussed and analyzed in meetings with workers before its approval, because it establishes rules and obligations at the workplace. Obligations include punctuality, meeting schedules, not leaving the workplace during working hours without permission of the supervisor, etc. It also states prohibitions like, not punching the card or signing the attendance record of another employee, and serious offenses, such as repeated absences, unjustified unpunctuality, and disregarding warnings and remonstrances.
According to Resolution 188, administrations are obliged to disclose and permanently explain to the workers the internal disciplinary regulations. Workers must obey regulations, or be subject to different disciplinary sanctions, depending on the gravity of the infraction.
It is known that lack of labor discipline slows production rates, erodes service quality and efficiency, and damages the country’s economy. It also dissatisfies the population. For example, if a machine operator doesn’t arrive on time, he interrupts or reduces that day’s production. If a lab technician is absent from work, a number of clinical trials can no longer be made.
These things are happening now. Specialists of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security monitored 2 042 companies and budgeted units during May-June 2008. The study showed that 60% of the workers did not comply with their working day.
They recorded 26 622 violations of labor discipline. Some of them were: late arrivals (46%), taking more than the allotted time for recess and eating (19%), working less than the stipulated working hours(13%), leaving before closing time(10% ) performing other unauthorized activities (5%), and leaving the workplace without proper authorization (4%).
Are a lot of financial and material resources needed to control and enforce discipline and efficient performance during the working day in each workplace? Or do we need more control, supervision and organization at the workplace?
Local administrations and directors are responsible for ongoing observation and control of how their workers comply with their obligations and abide by the rules established. Higher instances must be more demanding.
Why are internal disciplinary regulations put away in a drawer? On the contrary, they should be displayed on the workplace bulletin board, so all workers can see them. The Boards of Directors should periodically discuss the results of internal control checks.
Lack of labor discipline is not only personal. Certainly, those who violate discipline have names, and are liable to disciplinary actions that affect their pocket, their prestige or, in more serious cases, cost them their jobs.
But, this is not the only consequence. It damages the workers collective image, hinders completing economic plans, and affects the quality and efficiency of service. That is why labor discipline should be discussed in workers assemblies, at least once each quarter. This can not continue to be a problem.
By Juan Morales Agüero
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Social Workers considered this social problem in territorial evaluations and agreed that it has to be faced by all factors.
Las Tunas.-Nationwide, 2008 was the best year ever with regard to the reintegration and incorporation of young people to classrooms or workplaces. But, it has not yet reached all young people who neither do one, nor the other.
This statement was made by Enrique Gomez Cabezas, head of the social workers program in the country, during the provincial assembly of these professionals. The assembly analyzed the performance of this important program of the Revolution during 2008.
The most debated issue was, without doubt, young people who neither study nor work. Participants made a profound analysis and agreed that it needs a multi-factor approach. This is logical, because it is an issue that has a high priority today.
“We need to establish a link with the community, so that the different factors can keep us informed in a permanent and rapid way of the situation of the universe of their young people,” said Gomez Cabeza. He added that the work has to be personalized because there are no two cases alike. “Until we achieve this, we won’t have arrived at total results “, he said.
An aspect of the problem that received particular attention during the evaluation was the time period in which the identified cases must be dealt with. It is not enough to have the names of the young people in this situation. What is urgently needed is to work with them and resolve their situation.
Edgar Fernandez, from the municipality of Jesús Menéndez, took the floor to clarify that social workers have an enormous job before them regarding unemployed young people. He added that lots of creativity is needed to deal with it. And, that it depends on the links established with the family and the environment of the young person in question.
Cabeza Gomez took the floor again to remind participants that to have the healthy, just society we want to build, we can not have people that do not contribute anything to the country in terms of employment. He added that, in fact, many cases are very difficult and seemingly impossible to solve, but you can not dismiss anyone. We need to detect, identify and take care of them. “You have to be the social microscopes Fidel spoke about,” he said.
Yariri Torres, from the Amancio municipality, spoke about the usefulness of accompanying former prisoners throughout the process of getting jobs. She said former prisoners appreciate the presence of a social worker when they begin their new life in a workshop, a cooperative, or in any another job.
In a special intervention Deibis Garcia, provincial director of Labor, said that follow up is just as important as identifying and taking care of unemployed youths. If after the young person is studying or working, he doesn’t continue and gives up, then that defeat will be charged to our account.
June 20, 2016
A Google translation. Revised by Walter Lippmann.
The next phase of change in Cuba’s relations with the United States will come in the form of coffee.
The Swiss company Nespresso, Nestle SA group, announced Monday that Cuban coffee will be sold in the US as of the end of this year. The long-banned coffee (as a result of the blockade), will be sold in a limited edition called Cafecito de Cuba, in stores, online and telephone trading.
Guillaume Le Cunff, President of Nespresso USA, said it is good to be the first company to provide Cuban coffee to the US market. He noted that Nespresso is very interested in developing a long-term agreement to ensure an adequate supply of Cuban coffee to US customers and improve the living conditions of the Cuban producers.
“We are not thinking of a short-term outcome,” said Le Cunff on Sunday. “This is the point nicial an initiative long term. We are very optimistic to manage and build the project. We want consumers in the US can experience this amazing coffee and enjoy them now and in the years to come. “
Nespresso it allied with TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, assisting coffee growers in Colombia. South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. David Browning, vice president for strategic initiatives TechnoServe, recently visited Cuba to meet with government officials and visit the small farm where the Cuban coffee grows.
Most of the agricultural land in Cuba are managed by cooperatives of small private farmers. They sell their products to the government, which distributes on the island or export around the world. Nespresso begin their experiment buying Cuban coffee beans to European importers, toasting them, then packaging it and selling it in the United States.
Browning said the two companies discussed the new regulations approved by the US government and saw the opening they needed. “It was necessary that lawyers would ensure us that was totally understandable what the US government was trying. Everything was very clear, “he said.
According to USA Today, the next phase for Nespresso and TehcnoServe will help Cubans farmers improve their production process, helping get new agricultural equipment for harvesting plantation, something not clear how they would be implemented.
In a dispatch today, Reuters explains that in April, the US State Department added to coffee and other products to its list of eligible Cuban imports produced by independent producers.
The regulatory change made it easier Nespresso began sales in the United States of Cafecito de Cuba -a premium roasted espresso in their cafeteras- during this fall.
Cuba produces around 100,000 60-kg bags Arabica year, according to the International Coffee Organization. Although this volume is about five times the annual output of Jamaica, it is just a fraction of the 13.5 million bags waiting Colombia, the world’s largest producer of high quality Arabic washing, for this year.
(With information from Reuters and USA Today)
Cuba and exporters of products such as coffee can not yet directly access the US market. In a statement last May 5, the National Association of Small Farmers declared:
On April 22, the State Department announced the decision to include coffee in the list of Cuban products produced by the non-state sector, which would be imported into that country. With this action continuity to a measure adopted by the government of the United States in February 2015, allowing very limited Cuban exports, which excluded all goods and services produced by state enterprises was given.
He did not say the State Department is that the fact of having deprived unilaterally to Cuba – after decreed the lock- treatment of most favored nation, which rightfully ours as State Founder of the World Trade Organization, any product Cuban to be exported to the United States has to pay higher customs tariffs, which makes it practically impossible to import into that country.
It also ignores the Agrarian Reform Law, enacted after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, did own the land more than 200,000 peasant families, and that the Cuban State has implemented since a program for productive, economic development and social peasantry of our country and ensured the production assistance, access to credit, secure market for their products and other social benefits.
No one can think that a small farmer can export directly to the United States. To make this possible must participate Cuban foreign trade enterprises and financial transactions have to occur in dollars, which so far have not been able to realize.
We are aware that the objective of these measures is to influence the Cuban peasantry and separate it from our state.
If the government of the United States really wants to contribute to the welfare of Cubans, what it has to do is definitely lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed for more than 50 years, which is the main obstacle to the development of Cuba .
20 junio 2016
By Iroel Sanchez
June 17, 2017
July 30 is a day of national mourning in Cuba. On that date, each year, the streets of Santiago de Cuba are filled with a spontaneous pilgrimage; rose petals fall from the balconies, and people walk in silence towards the cemetery.
This yearly pilgrimage is a remembrance of the popular reaction of the city in response, in 1957, to the murders of young Frank País and Raúl Pujol by the police of Fulgencio Batista. It is also a remembrance of all the many who were victims of similar actions.
It was the son of one of Frank and Josue’s murderers whom the US President Donald Trump chose for the storytelling in the speech he delivered in Miami June 17. A violin in the hands of the offspring played –out of tune– the notes of the US national anthem.
In a theater that bears the name of one of the invaders that –under the orders of the CIA– suffered an embarrassing defeat at Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs], a politician many consider a “loser”, promised more of the same the whole world –and even his predecessor in office– recognized as doomed to failure.
The audience –mostly elderly Miamians who have not set foot in Cuba in decades– shouted, “USA, USA,” while the president announced that citizens of “the land of the free” will continue to be banned from engaging in tourism in Cuba. If they travel to the island they must do so in a group and with a detailed and auditable logbook, so that Big Brother can adequately confirm if they fulfill the mission that their government has given them: to overthrow the “regime” that has made sure that crimes such as those of December 30, 1957, never happen again o n the island.
The same President, who signed a $100 billion contract for arms sales to the Saudi Arabian monarchy less than a month ago, signed another in the presence of people who practiced terrorism. The objective: to prevent a single US penny from reaching the Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba. He also promised to prevent trade and investments that do not exist today.
With the balance of his campaign promises showing more debits than credits and threatened by a congressional investigation following his pressure on former FBI director James Comey, Mr. Trump seems to have found among the Cuban-American ultra-right in Miami a way to show he is true to his word and to be applauded.
But rhetoric cannot conceal a reality: 73% of Americans and 80% of Cuban-Americans support the end of the blockade of Cuba, and Trump’s announcements this Friday will only increase that rejection. Time will tell. The day before the speech, Trump managed to make the analysts of The Miami Herald agree with those of The New York Times.
South of the Florida straits we did not have long to wait. The first results of Trump’s show in Miami are already perceptible in Cuba: there is more talk about politics. In social networks many young people, who do not usually discuss these issues, express their indignation with the Miami speech of the American President. Since the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez, Cubans had not seen such a clear image of the Jurassic Park that would be ruling Cuba if there was no Revolution.
Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez spent 16 years imprisoned in the US and was amnestied in the process of rapprochement.
Former Cuban spy in the US believes that Havana has won the tug-of-war with Washington.
Havana, 03/19/2016 02:45 h.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Gerardo Hernandez (Havana, June 4, 1965) is the son of a Canary Islands woman who came to Cuba when she was fifteen. He does not have a Spanish passport and considers himself a Cuban patriot. He is the man of the moment on the island. Convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in the United States, he spent more than fifteen years in prison there.
On December 17, 2014 he was amnestied as a gesture of good will in the process of rapprochement between Cuba and the US. El Español has spoken with him under the watchful eye of the Alma Mater statue at the University of Havana days before the historic visit of Barack Obama to the island, which begins this Sunday. His words are echoed, and heavily so, throughout Cuba in this crucial moment for the largest of the Antilles.
Why were you sent to jail and why where you amnestied?
I was sent to jail because I was doing intelligence work for Cuba in the United States. For many years, groups that were sometimes paid and other times tolerated by the United States had been coming to attack Cuba, planting bombs in hotels, blowing up planes … The US never did anything to stop it, so Cuba was forced to send people over there to uncover their plans and send information over here.
We were arrested and tried in Miami without the minimum guarantees of impartiality. In my case, I was sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years of imprisonment. After sixteen years in prison, as part of the ongoing process of rapprochement, the two countries reached an agreement, a part of which was the release of three of the five of us who were still in prison.
Is it correct to say that you were a spy?
Look, there are people who defend us and who take offense by the term. I tell you that the term is wrong, but I do not take offense. Legally it does not apply to us because according to US law, we were not accused of spying, but of conspiracy to commit espionage. But I do not feel offended by the term, as I said. I was an intelligence officer and a spy is something that people talk about in the movies and such.
Fidel Castro talks to Hernandez and Ramon Labañino, another of the prisoners.
Photo: Cuban government
Looking ahead, do you see yourself returning sometime to the US, or do you think of the country holding a grudge?
I hold no grudge whatsoever. I took up a responsibility when I agreed to carry out my mission and I have no problem with that. While we did have the unpleasant experience of hearing people say that they wanted to lynch us, and of having had an unfair trial that lasted more than six months, there were also people, including political and religious officials, who were able to see that our cause was just; also there were actors like Danny Glover, who supported us.
Generally speaking I have no negative feelings toward the US people, but I do not see myself going back because one of the conditions imposed for our release was that we could never go back to that country.
I’m going to ask you to be critical of the Revolution and tell me what it has done wrong in these decades, and if you understand that it is time to seriously consider holding multi-party elections in Cuba.
I think that we do have options in Cuba. I guess you mean the fact that there is a single party. That is the result of historical factors: José Martí founded a single party to make it the party of the Cuban nation. Over time, the Communist Party of Cuba has opened up to other sectors such as the religious. Our goal is to make it even more participatory; but we firmly intend to maintain unity.
Our people, 90, 80 or 75 per cent of it support their Revolution.
Throughout our history we have paid dearly on account of disunity. If they manage to divide us, we will be in trouble. You cannot analyze Cuban reality without emphasizing that we are a small country only ninety miles away from the most powerful nation in the world, one that has been determined to prevent Cubans from choosing our own destiny. Our people, 90, 80 or 75 per cent of it support their revolution. You can rest assured that the day when Cubans do not support the revolution, this could not hold. If we are standing today, it is because we have the majority of Cubans with us. It is not a perfect society, but we want to make it ourselves.
Raul Castro has already announced that he resigns this year. There is talk about Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel, the Minister for Economy Marino Murillo, even about a son of Raul’s…
This is not a monarchy. In Cuba, the succession that occurred was because Raul was our vice president and there was no one else more apt or loved by the people. The [National] Assembly [Parliament] met and he was elected.
This is not a monarchy. In Cuba succession happened because Raul was our Vice President
My personal opinion is that it should be comrade Miguel Diaz Canel, who has a great performance record. But everything depends on the will of the Cuban people.
You speak of the will of Cubans and the possibility of it being expressed under the current regime. When you were in prison, the late dissident Oswaldo Paya collected signatures –as contemplated in the law– in what was known as the “Varela Project”. He demanded freedom of expression and assembly, entrepreneurial freedom, democratic elections and amnesty for political prisoners. He was ignored, but eventually some of his proposals have been adopted. What do you say to that?
Actually I was in prison then. I do know that there have been many projects financed from abroad. For less than that, in the United States you get accused of being an agent at the service of a foreign power, for which I got a fifteen-year sentence. I am sure that in Spain anyone who tries to change the government while being paid by a foreign power would go against Spanish law. If this happens in Cuba, other countries applaud. And, well, if we have taken measures that were in that project, let them be welcome.
The bottom line is: in Cuba do people really have the possibility to make decisions about the political system within the current framework?
Cuba’s current system is not perfect, just like all others. But I’ll give you an example: in the last election of the People’s Power, people who are openly against the Government were nominated. There was a vote and they had their chance. The only requirement in our system is that you get elected at the grassroots; you do not have to be a Party member. It is enough to have a base that supports you.
Yoani Sanchez is primarily a media phenomenon created by the Grupo Prisma, and she is better-known abroad than inside.
We can continue modifying aspects of the system to make it more participatory, but the possibility already exists. What happens is that these dissidents, who sometimes are better known outside Cuba than inside, do not have a base of social support. These are cases artificially created from abroad for a reason. And I’ll give you the case of Yoani Sanchez, a media phenomenon created primarily by the Grupo Prisma, who is better known outside than inside. She can stand here at any corner and nobody knows her.
Nor do the Cuban media give her any coverage…
Sure, she hasn’t deserved it either. The Cuban media would give coverage to a woman who may be having a hard time trying to push her family forward. But I do not see any merit in this person to promote her, and we are not going to waste any money of our media to do so.
There is a great expectation with Obama’s visit. Everyone in Cuba surmises that a new stage is about to begin, but no one gives a name to it. Perhaps it is an economic opening without altering the political system, as in China, or something else. What is your perception?
I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you how Cuba will look like in a few years. What I can tell you is what most Cubans want: a country that solves the problems that still affect us, but also that it does not resemble the Cuba of the past when it was necessary to make a revolution.
What would you demand from the United States so that it doesn’t stop at a policy of gestures; what specific measures would you like to see?
Just what we have demanded for more than half a century, since the triumph of the Revolution: For the US to recognize our right to exist as an independent and sovereign nation, to recognize that we are not their backyard. For them to understand that Cuba is a nation that decided its own destiny; and that we Cubans have the right to resolve our own problems without foreign interference.
In relation to the many Cubans who reside in the United States, conflicting versions circulate. The state newspaper Granma argues that this is not so and that they will do anything to prevent the Castro regime from receiving a life-line. What do you think?
For many years now a lot of surveys have been performed by respectable firms, some of which are not at all friendly to Cuba. Even surveys by the US government itself recognize that the vast majority of Cubans living in the US want a normal relationship with their country. Now then, that vast majority of Cubans do not yet have enough economic and political clout to push for more rapid measures.
Cuban power in the US is held by a minority segment –increasingly so– of powerful Cuban families who have found their way into Congress.
The political and economic power there is held by a minority segment –increasingly so– of Cubans who left this country. They belonged to powerful families and in recent years have come to hold seats in Congress. Up until this week, there were two aspiring candidates for the US presidency of Cuban origin [Republicans Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio who has withdrawn from the presidential race]. That segment is increasingly small, but unfortunately it is the one that controls the banks and the media. The majority is on the other side, but unfortunately many still do not vote and have no power to raise an opinion.
If Ted Cruz wins, would it be good or bad news for Cuba?
I think it would be very bad, because they are people who have lived off the hatred industry for many years. Hatred against Cuba has given them a modus vivendi like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, Lincoln Diaz-Balart … members of Congress who for many years have not had a well-defined program other than hatred against Cuba. They have objected to everything that might have benefited the Cuban people. For instance, when hurricanes have devastated the Island and the Red Cross has wanted to seek help from the United States, they have even opposed that. Their preaching has always been: we will destroy the Government of Cuba; we will recover Cuba at any price. They have motivated a generation of old Cubans who know nothing but that message of hatred. That will change with the new generations of Cuban immigrants, especially starting in the eighties, who went to that country to advance economically and help their families.
If the US puts on the negotiation table the need for free elections in Cuba before discussing Guantanamo and the blockade, would it be acceptable?
Of course not. If we talk to them it is because they have recognized that it is impossible for Cuba to accept preconditions. For many years they said they had nothing to negotiate while the Castros were in power, the country was Communist and had a single party; Cuba always remained firm and said that if we ever sat down to negotiate, it would be on equal terms without preconditions. Finally they had to accept.
If we talk with the US it is because they have recognized that it is impossible for Cuba to accept pre-conditions
Do you think Cuba is the winner of this tug-of-war?
I think that Cuba has already won in the sense that we have not given up any of our principles to sit down and negotiate. They are the same since 1959. The United States has said for decades that it would never negotiate while the Castros were in power and yet, Raul Castro is our president, Fidel is alive and is our guide. And they are negotiating with us. It is a victory for Cuba that they have sat down to negotiate without conditions.
EX HUMORIST AND FATHER ‘BEHIND BARS’
Before joining the Cuban intelligence services, Gerardo was a cartoonist. Throughout his years behind bars he claimed he had not lost irony as a weapon of defense. “You can put humor into sixteen years in prison; it is something that helps a lot. We humorists have a particular way of seeing life, and is not that what we take everything lightly, but I do not know any embittered person who can be a humorist. In my case, my optimistic nature helped me a lot. All along the years that we spent in prison, the five of us often laughed at our own misfortunes. That helped us. “
In prison, the five of us often laughed over our own misfortunes
Gerardo has recently become a father. The numbers don’t add up for a period of normal pregnancy, since his daughter was born a few days after he was released. The explanation: “We always wished to have our child; we had asked for conjugal visits for prisoners, something that happens in Cuba but not in the United States, at least in federal prisons. My wife Adriana asked an American senator for help and he knocked on the right doors to allow me to make a donation after my wife had her eggs frozen. It was a process of in vitro fertilization”. The little girl is called Gema and she was born on January 6, 2015.
DANIEL PINILLA La Habana
19.03.2016 02:45 h.
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo (La Habana, 4 de junio de 1965) es hijo de una canaria que llegó a Cuba cuando tenía quince años. Él no tiene el pasaporte español y se considera patriota cubano. Es el hombre del momento en la isla. Condenado por conspiración para cometer espionaje en Estados Unidos, ha permanecido más de tres lustros en la cárcel allí.
El 17 de diciembre de 2014 fue amnistiado como gesto de buena voluntad dentro del proceso de acercamiento entre ambos países. EL ESPAÑOL ha hablado con él bajo la atenta mirada de la estatua del Alma Mater de la Universidad de La Habana en los días previos a la histórica visita de Barack Obama a la isla, que se inicia este domingo. Sus palabras tienen eco, y mucho, en toda Cuba en este momento trascendental para la mayor de las Antillas.
¿Por qué fue encarcelado y por qué ha sido amnistiado?
Fui encarcelado porque estaba en Estados Unidos haciendo labor de Inteligencia para Cuba. Durante muchos años, grupos a veces pagados y otras tolerados por Estados Unidos han estado viniendo para agredir a Cuba, han puesto bombas en hoteles, derribado aviones… EEUU nunca hizo nada para impedirlo, así que Cuba se vio obligada a mandar gente a ese país para descubrir sus planes y mandar información para acá.
Nosotros fuimos arrestados, se nos hizo un juicio en la ciudad de Miami sin las mínimas garantías de imparcialidad. En mi caso se me condenó a dos cadenas perpetuas más quince años de privación de libertad. Después de haber cumplido dieciséis años en prisión, como parte del actual proceso de acercamiento, los dos países llegaron a un acuerdo, parte del cual era la libertad de los tres de los cinco que quedábamos encarcelados.
¿Decir que ejerció de espía es correcto?
Mira, hay personas que nos defienden y que se ofenden con ese término. Yo te digo que el término es incorrecto, pero yo no lo tomo como una ofensa. Legalmente no nos aplica porque las propias leyes de EEUU no nos acusaron de espionaje, sino de conspiración para cometer espionaje. Pero no tomo ofensa con el término, ya te digo. Yo era agente de Inteligencia y lo de espía es algo que dice la gente por las películas y demás.
Fidel Castro habla con Hernández y Ramón Labanino, otro de los encarcelados. Gobierno cubano
Mirando al futuro, ¿se ve regresando en alguna ocasión a Estados Unidos o piensa en el país con rencor?
No hay rencor ninguno. Asumí una responsabilidad cuando acepté cumplir mi misión y no hay problema. Si bien tuvimos la desagradable experiencia de escuchar a personas decir que nos querían linchar y de haber estado en un juicio sin garantías que duró más de seis meses, también hubo gente, incluso funcionarios políticos y religiosos, que supieron ver que nuestra causa era justa; también actores, como Danny Glover, nos apoyaron.
En sentido general no tengo ningún sentimiento negativo respecto al pueblo estadounidense, pero no me veo regresando porque una de las condiciones que se impusieron para nuestra liberación era que no podíamos regresar más a ese país.
Le voy a pedir que sea crítico con la Revolución y me diga qué ha hecho mal en estas décadas y si entiende que ha llegado el momento
de que se valore seriamente celebrar elecciones plurales en Cuba.
Pienso que en Cuba sí hay alternativas. Supongo que te refieres a que hay un único partido. Eso responde a factores históricos; José Martí fundó un único partido para que lo fuera de la nación cubana. Con el paso del tiempo, el Partido Comunista de Cuba se ha ido abriendo a otros sectores como el religioso. Nuestra meta es que sea aún más participativo, pero tenemos el firme propósito de mantener la unidad.
Nuestro pueblo, en un 90, 80 ó 75% apoya su Revolución
A lo largo de nuestra historia hemos pagado cara la desunión. Si logran dividirnos, estaremos en problemas. No puedes analizar la realidad cubana sin destacar que somos un pequeño país a sólo noventa millas del más poderoso del mundo, que se ha empeñado en impedir que los cubanos escojamos nuestro propio destino. Nuestro pueblo, en un 90, 80 ó 75% apoya su Revolución. Puedes estar convencido de que el día en que los cubanos no apoyen la Revolución, esto no podría sostenerse. Si estamos en pie es porque tenemos con nosotros a la mayoría de los cubanos. No es una sociedad perfecta, pero queremos hacerla nosotros.
Raúl Castro ya ha anunciado que este año renuncia a su cargo. Se habla del vicepresidente Miguel Díaz- Canel, del ministro de Economía Marino Murillo, incluso de un hijo de Raúl…
Esto no es una monarquía. En Cuba la sucesión que se dio fue porque Raúl era nuestro vicepresidente y no había nadie más capacitado ni querido por el pueblo. Hubo una asamblea y fue elegido.
Esto no es una monarquía. En Cuba la sucesión que se dio fue porque Raúl era nuestro vicepresidente
Mi opinión personal es que debe ser el compañero Miguel Díaz- Canel, que tiene una gran trayectoria. Pero todo depende de la voluntad de los cubanos.
Habla de la voluntad de los cubanos y de la posibilidad de que se exprese en el régimen actual. Cuando usted estaba en prisión, el
disidente ya fallecido Oswaldo Payá recogió las firmas como plantea la ley en lo que fue conocido como ‘Plan Varela’. Pedía libertad de expresión y reunión, libertad empresarial, elecciones democráticas y amnistía para los presos políticos. No se le hizo caso, pero con el tiempo se han adoptado algunas propuestas que proponía. ¿Qué opina?
Realmente yo estaba entonces en prisión. Sí sé que ha habido muchos proyectos financiados desde el exterior. Por menos de eso, en Estados Unidos te acusan de ser agente al servicio de potencia extranjera, por lo que yo tenía quince años de condena. Estoy seguro de que en España cualquiera que pretenda modificar el Gobierno siendo pagado por una potencia extranjera iría contra la ley española. Si esto ocurre en Cuba, en otros países lo aplauden. Y, bueno, si tomamos medidas que eran de ese proyecto, bienvenidas sean.
La cuestión de fondo es: ¿en Cuba existe realmente la posibilidad de que la gente tome decisiones sobre el sistema político en el marco actual?
El sistema actual cubano no es perfecto, como todos. Pero te pongo ejemplo de que en el último ejercicio de elección del Poder Popular fueron postuladas
personas que son abiertamente contrarias al Gobierno de Cuba. Se votó, tuvieron la posibilidad. El único requerimiento en nuestro sistema es que te elijan en la base, no tienes que formar parte del Partido. Basta con que haya una base que te apoye.
Yoani Sánchez es un fenómeno mediático fundamentalmente creado por el Grupo Prisma, que es más conocida dentro que fuera
Podemos continuar modificando aspectos del sistema haciéndolo más participativo, pero la posibilidad ya existe. Lo que ocurre es que estas personas de la disidencia, que a veces son más conocidas fuera de Cuba que dentro, no tienen una base de apoyo social, son fenómenos creados artificialmente desde afuera con algún propósito. Y te pongo el caso de Yoani Sánchez, un fenómeno mediático fundamentalmente creado por el Grupo Prisma, que es más conocida dentro que fuera. Aquí se puede parar en cualquier esquina y nadie la conoce.
Tampoco le dan cobertura los medios cubanos…
Claro, tampoco lo ha merecido. Los medios cubanos le dan cobertura a una mujer que esté pasando trabajo para sacar adelante su familia. A esta persona no le veo ningún mérito para promoverla y no vamos a gastar dinero en nuestros medios para hacerlo.
Existe una gran expectación con la visita de Obama. Todo el mundo en Cuba intuye que se va a entrar en una nueva etapa, pero nadie le pone nombre. Quizás se trate de una apertura económica sin alterar el sistema político, como sucedió en China, o de algo más. ¿Cuál es su sensación?
No tengo una bola de cristal para decir cómo va a ser Cuba de aquí a unos años. Sí te puedo decir lo que queremos la mayoría de los cubanos: un país que resuelva problemas que todavía hoy nos afectan, pero igualmente que no se parezca a la Cuba del pasado en la que fue necesario hacer una revolución.
¿Qué le demandaría a Estados Unidos para que no se quede en política de gestos, qué medidas concretas desearía?
Lo mismo que llevamos demandando más de medio siglo, desde el triunfo de la Revolución. Que reconozcan nuestro derecho a existir como nación independiente y soberana, que reconozcan que no somos el patio trasero de ellos. Que entiendan que Cuba es una nación que decidió su propio destino y que los cubanos tenemos el derecho a resolver nuestros propios problemas y hacerlo sin injerencias extranjeras.
En relación a los muchísimos cubanos que residen en EEUU circulan versiones contrapuestas. En el diario estatal Granma sostienen que no es así y que harán lo que sea para evitar que el régimen castrista reciba un balón de oxígeno. ¿Qué opina?
Se vienen haciendo muchas encuestas desde hace ya muchos años por parte de firmas respetables y algunas de ellas nada amigables con Cuba. Incluso encuestas del propio Gobierno norteamericano que reconocen que la gran mayoría de los cubanos que residen en EEUU desean una relación normal con su país. Ahora bien, esa gran mayoría de cubanos todavía no tiene el poder económico y político suficientes para impulsar que se tomen medidas más rápidas.
El poder cubano en EEUU lo tiene un segmento cada vez más minoritario de cubanos de familias poderosas que han llegado a congresistas
El poder político y económico allí lo tiene un segmento cada vez más minoritario de cubanos que se fueron de este país, que pertenecían a familias poderosas y que en los últimos años han llegado a ocupar puestos de congresistas. Hasta esta semana había dos aspirantes a la presidencia de Estados Unidos de origen cubano [, los republicanos Ted Cruz y Marco Rubio, que se ha retirado de la carrera presidencial]. Ese segmento es cada vez más reducido, pero desgraciadamente es el que controla los bancos y los medios de comunicación. En el otro lado está la mayoría, pero lamentablemente muchos todavía no votan ni tienen poder para levantar opinión.
Si Ted Cruz ganara, ¿sería una buena o una mala noticia para Cuba?
Pienso que sería muy malo, porque son personas que han vivido muchos años
de la industria del odio. El odio contra Cuba les ha dado un modus vivendi y pongo por ejemplo a Ileana Ros, Lincoln Díaz Balart… congresistas que por muchos años no han tenido un programa definido que no sea el odio contra Cuba. Se han opuesto a cuanto beneficio pudiera haber para el pueblo cubano.
Por ejemplo, cuando los ciclones han devastado la isla y la Cruz Roja ha querido ayudar desde Estados Unidos, ellos se han opuesto hasta a eso. Su prédica siempre ha sido: vamos a destruir al Gobierno de Cuba, a recuperar Cuba al precio que sea. Así han movido a una generación de viejitos cubanos que no conocen otra cosa que ese mensaje de odio. Eso va a cambiar con las nuevas generaciones de emigrantes cubanos, sobre todo a partir de los ochenta, que fueron a ese país para mejorar económicamente y ayudar a sus familias.
Si EEUU pone encima de la mesa de la negociación la exigencia de unas elecciones libres en Cuba para hablar de Guantánamo y el bloqueo, ¿sería admisible?
Por supuesto que no. Si conversamos con ellos es porque han reconocido que es imposible que Cuba acepte condiciones. Durante muchos años dijeron que no tenían nada que negociar mientras los Castro estuvieran en el poder, el país fuera comunista y hubiera un único partido; Cuba se mantuvo firme siempre y dijo que si alguna vez nos sentáramos, sería de igual a igual sin condiciones previas. Finalmente lo han tenido que aceptar.
Si conversamos con EEUU es porque han reconocido que es imposible que Cuba acepte condiciones
¿Piensa que Cuba es el ganador de este pulso?
Yo pienso que Cuba ya ha ganado en el sentido de que no hemos renunciado a ninguno de nuestros principios para sentarnos a negociar. Son los mismos desde el año 59. Estados Unidos ha dicho durante décadas que nunca negociaría mientras estuvieran los Castro en el poder y, sin embargo, Raúl Castro es nuestro presidente, Fidel está vivo y es nuestro guía. Y ellos están negociando con nosotros. Ha sido una victoria para Cuba el que se hayan sentado a negociar sin condiciones.
Antes de enrolarse en los servicios de Inteligencia Cubanos, Gerardo era humorista. Durante toda su estancia tras los barrotes asegura no haber perdido la ironía como arma de defensa. “Se le puede meter humor a dieciséis años en la cárcel, es algo que te ayuda mucho. Los humoristas tenemos un modo particular de ver la vida, y no es que lo tiremos todo a relajo, pero no conozco a ninguna persona de carácter amargado que pueda ser humorista. En mi caso me ayudó mucho el tener un carácter optimista. A lo largo de los años que estuvimos en prisión, los cinco nos reímos muchas veces de nuestras propias desgracias. Eso nos ayudó”.
En prisión, los cinco nos reímos muchas veces de nuestras propias desgracias
Gerardo ha sido padre recientemente. Haciendo números, no sale un periodo de embarazo normal, puesto que su niña nació pocos días después de haber sido puesto en libertad. La explicación: “Siempre tuvimos el anhelo de tener nuestro hijo; habíamos pedido la visita conyugal para los presos, algo que se da en Cuba pero no en Estados Unidos, al menos en las prisiones federales. Mi esposa Adriana solicitó ayuda a un senador americano, quien tocó las puertas necesarias para que yo pudiera hacer una donación después de que mi esposa hubiera congelado sus óvulos. Fue un proceso de fertilización in vitro”. La pequeña se llama Gema y nació el 6 de enero de 2015.