By Orlando Marquez
February /2009 No. 182
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
After working for more than a year by request from the Washington Center for National Policies (CNP) a two-party team lead by former USA ambassador to Mexico James J. Jones and formed by Thomas Wenski, assistant bishop of Miami, University professor Max Castro, and Cuban American businessman Carlos Saladriga presented a report called “Cuba-United States Relations: time for a new approach” on January 23 2003.
In this 20-page report it was stated that “the United States will attain its goals with Cuba with a higher probability by using negotiation than by isolation”. The report didn’t recommend former President George W. Bush to lift the embargo. But, it recommended initiating a new policy and allowing American citizens to visit the Island. It also advised facilitating the sale of medicines and food products; to eliminate the limit set on money transfers to Cuban families; to review current legislations on Cuba, and facilitate scientific, professional and academic exchange. It recommended developing bilateral cooperation on issues of mutual interest like drug and people traffic, fighting crime and environmental protection. These recommendations were ignored at first, and a year later the government did just the opposite.
At the end of 2007 I met a former government official in Washington. Naturally, we talked about the United States and Cuba. He agreed with me that the isolation policy inherited, maintained and strengthened by his government had no followers. “So?” I asked. He talked about liberty, human rights… I agreed. I added that isolation had only created more problems and asked him if he thought China and Saudi Arabia, two of his country’s main associates, were good examples of liberty and human rights. He had no further arguments, and then he confessed that his superiors could not forgive, among other things, that former President Fidel Castro would have thought of launching a nuclear attack against the United States during the missile crisis, in 1962!… I was the one who ran out of arguments, because there is nothing to say when confronted with irrationality and passion. I must add that this government official did not agree with this policy, he only said that decision was out of his hands.
This issue has been treated very differently on our side! Certainly, there has been a lot of passion. Besides our “achievements in health and education” there has been no other issue more important in our national media than the evils of the United States. They have talked about presidential ineptitudes, economic crisis, social violence, racism (this may change somewhat after Obama’s election), police abuse, homeless, the millions of citizens without medical insurance, drug addicts… It would seem that every evil in the world is there, and only there, the worst, the most despicable. And, the attempt to distinguish between the American government and the “noble people of the United States” – that elect them- sounds absurd and untenable.
“A letter that put a mark on history” was the title chosen by Granma newspaper last year to accompany the fifty year old –four years before the missile crisis- letter they published. The letter was written by the Commander in Chief of the Rebel Army, Fidel Castro Ruz, to Celia Sanchez, after army planes had bombed the ‘bohio’ of a peasant with bombs made in the United States. In this letter the former Cuban President wrote; “When I saw the bombs they threw at Mario’s house I promised myself that the Americans will pay dearly for what they are doing now. After this war is over, I will start another war, longer and bigger: the one I am going to wage against them. I realize that this is my true destiny.” There is no proof that the former president kept on thinking the same way after the United States stopped selling armament to Fulgencio Batista’s government months later. This statement was not repeated later. Although it was reprinted, like this time on June 5. 2008, with a title that suggests, or intends to confirm, that our history is marked by eternal conflict with the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that the United States government support of Fulgencio Batista’s government is criticizable, as is the fastidious and reprehensible interference in Cuban matters during the first half of the 20th century, Should our present and future history depend on the ill-fated attack on the humble home of a peasant that took place more than fifty years ago and on the feelings expressed in a letter written while those feelings were intense? Must we always suffer the consequences of what might have been, but didn’t happen, during the missile crises in 1962? I don’t think so.
During his campaign, Barack Obama, against all previously established molds, declared he was willing to talk to the leaders of all the countries considered as United States enemies, including Cuba. On our side, the will to establish a dialogue couldn’t be more evident, as President Raul Castro has declared more than once.
For many in his own country, Obama is still an enigma. And, for Cuba? Well, here, it is even more so. Many Cubans, including me, are waiting to see if the change in policy making in the United States and, therefore, in its external policy, also means a change in U. S, relations with Cuba.
However, Cuba is only pressing for Cubans. It is not very probable that Cuban issues will have a high priority for the new American government. Nevertheless, Cuba (with Cubans holding different points of view) shouldn’t be ignored. Cuba is too near, too active. It has a very large international and regional influence, as well as inside the United States. Cuba is too defying, and perhaps, it even has too much oil waiting to be extracted.
In spite of the willingness expressed by both presidents, some people have raised the alarm -both here and there – against a new status in the relations among the two countries. The ghostly remoras of the Cold War rise once more, ignoring the demands of millions of people. On that side some talk about the dangers of “recognizing” a dictatorship that never changes. On this side, those that always warned against an imminent military invasion, an argument that is already worn out, warn against a “cultural invasion” that can destroy us.
SOURCE: Original Spanish not available. Sorry!
The investigations of Leonardo Padura’s detective are in audiovisual form now. Jorge Perugorria plays the detective who investigates a series of crimes in a colorful and decadent Cuba
The script of the series is based on four novels by the Cuban author.
FOUR SEASONS IN HAVANA, by NETFLIX
By Federico Lisical
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“I decided to make a character who was in conflict with the reality he was living,” Leonardo Padura once told this newspaper. The Cuban writer was referring to Mario Conde, the officer who was the main character ofj his police novels and who now centers the NETFLIX miniseries Four Seasons in Havana (that since last Friday can be seen online). The series is based on stories in Padura´s four novels: Past Perfect, Winds of Lent, Masks, and Autumn Landscape.
This disenchanted but noble man, who does not seem to be a police lieutenant and has a great love for books, is interpreted by Jorge Perugorría. Almost to his regret, the best thing he knows how to do is solve mysteries and write up his wanderings with a typewriter. “There is no one better than Mario Conde to get into Havana, rummage through its darkness, and draw some light. That special insight the detective has, is particularly revealing. What I wanted to do was to make a kind of chronicle, a testimony of what recent Cuban life has been like. In each of his investigations, he reveals a sector of Cuban society, but also the humanity of a number of characters who live that reality day-to-day,” said the writer in another interview.
In total there are four episodes, ninety minutes each. They were directed by the Spaniard Felix Bizcarte, and the role of Padura himself in the adaptation was key, as well as that of his wife Lucia López Coll. Their intention was to preserve the tone of the novels and let the Cuban reality filter in naturally. What is the resulting Havana? One that shows its darkest and most sinful side. There is corruption, traffickers of all kinds –of drugs and influence– has been but there is also the dream of what the revolution could have been. Conde is a romantic who goes around throwing phrases for whoever wants to listen: “Havana has fallen so much that is has gone to shit”; “Cops investigating cops… What the hell is going on?”
The context is crucial as the books were published between 1991 and 1998 and reflected what was happening on the island after the end of the Cold War, the tightening of the embargo, and the regime’s opposite sides. As the author said, “… I learned from Hammett, Chandler, Vázquez Montalbán and Sciascia that a police novel can have a real relationship with the country’s environment; that it can denounce or touch concrete facts and not just imaginary realities.” “El Conde” moves about the capital of Cuba as a Philip Marlowe who suffers the heat, and fights his destiny, “doing what I have to do, but never what I really want to do.” The big difference with the iconic detective of suburban Los Angeles is that Conde is a cop. “It was totally unrealistic to have someone who was not a police officer investigate a crime in Cuba, especially if it was a murder,” Padura explained. But Conde also dreams of being a writer and that is what saves him.
This jaded subject is summoned to investigate the murder of a high school teacher while he is also looking into another case that has to do with his own past. In all of these there are several criminal associations. As in every noir police story, in addition to the investigations there are institutions tainted with indolence, elites complicit with business interests, femmes fatale, jazz music and seedy bars. Its main character is a researcher of the shadows but with a complex humanity and far from clichés. “Conde represents a generation of Cubans who believed in a country project that will never be, and feeds heavily on nostalgia. He’s a fucking nostalgic, as he defines himself, “said the actor who has the role.
The photography (by Spaniard Pedro J. Márquez) is one of the highest points of the production. The tone is twilight and oblivious to any “for export” intention. The rundown houses of the old quarters convey the stupor of the characters; and the danger in a harbor city when the sun goes down. The scenes of violence are given in unusual settings that can capture the audiences. In short, there are four genre stories within a very unique context that reflects the day-to-day life of the Caribbean city and its surroundings. One can easily perceive how the characters are linked: their body language, how they breathe and perspire, their unrefined speech that mispronounces sounds, how their food smells, and how they have sex. Four Seasons in Havana is, above all, a sensory experience. “Noir was never so colorful,” said one of the promotions for the miniseries; but it may be exactly the other way around.
December 3, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
All the news we’ve had until now about Fidel Castro’s condition after almost three years of nonstop surgery and illness were his photographs with various heads of State and the articles he writes for the Cuban press on a regular basis. On Saturday, the Argentinean political scientist and sociologist Atilio Boron was in for a surprise while having lunch at a restaurant in Havana: someone came to tell him that Fidel would receive him that day at 5 p.m., so they would come to pick him up in a little while. Two days later, Fidel wrote about their one-hour-and-forty-minute-long meeting and sang the praises of a paper Atilio had presented in a conference of economists. At a later date, Mr. Boron gave Clarín unheard-of details about Castro’s daily life and the conversation they had in a place hitherto undisclosed.
“Truth is, I thought I would see a disabled person, but what I found was quite the opposite: he had a very good color and muscle tone, which I could check for myself in his handshake and hug when we said goodbye to each other”, Boron recalls. It was a summer afternoon, and Fidel was wearing the typical uniform of Cuban athletes, except for the short pants that revealed “very strong legs, a sign that he’s following his therapist’s instructions to the letter. He looks very bright”.
Fidel is not at a clinic, but in a house fitted with medical equipment for emergencies and facilities to move around and work out, and even a small pool where he can swim. He receives few visitors, his contacts with officials limited to “one or two meetings with Raúl”. You don’t see many people working in the house; he’s the one who seems to be working hard as befits “a soldier in the Battle of Ideas” and very happy and relaxed for not being in power.
We met in a living room where there was a desk, a run-of-the-mill PC, no cell phone, and the folders with clippings he’s always kept near since he was President. Boron also noticed a number of blue notebooks, organized by topic, where Fidel writes his reflections. And what about the voice of the great speaker who would talk to his audience for hours on end? “He’s never been one for speaking in a loud voice, on the contrary: he spoke slowly, still his usual self, a Fidel who chews on his every syllable”, Boron assured, adding that Fidel drank nothing nor was ever interrupted to take any medicine.
Always on top of current events, in the days of Darwin’s anniversary Castro reads his work while devouring what text on nanotechnology he can get his hands on. The chat with Boron centered on the economic crisis, and Fidel said he was worried about what he believes its great impact on the region will be like. “He thinks the continent’s certain shift to the left in the last few years will be compromised. Fidel understands the circumstances very well and fears the right will have a new lease on life”, he explained.
Did you talk about President Kirchner’s visit?
Yes, and he said to be quite impressed by how energetically she defends her positions. We also talked about the problems in the countryside, and he was shocked at the way it happened and as much concerned about the consequences as he was about other issues, for instance, Paraguay, as he believes President Lugo has many obstacles in his path.
Did you talk about the United States?
I’ve got the feeling he has taken a certain liking to Obama, but without building his hopes up too much. He said, “Obama will soon learn that the Presidency is one thing, but the Empire is another matter altogether”.
Your meeting took place at the end of a very hectic week in Cuba when changes were made in the government…
He started to talk about that and nothing else, going into greater detail about what he had already said that the enemy outside had built up their hopes with these officials, but it was made clear that what he meant was that Cuba’s enemies had raised their hopes over them. He mentioned they had made mistakes, sometimes because of excessive political ambition or personal impatience…
To get an idea of Fidel’s condition –keeping in mind that he’s almost 83– Boron points out that he can walk without anybody’s help and had even taken a stroll around the surrounding area a few weeks ago, alone and under no escort, to buy a newspaper. He was standing in line like any other Cuban and, they say, a woman recognized him and a small urban tsunami of emotions broke out in that Cuban neighborhood.
Author: Leticia Martínez Hernández
May 22, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
I admit it: it bothers me when my generation is called into question, not taken seriously and, worse yet, branded a lost cause, a very good reason to annoy the most even-tempered of souls, of which I am one. Is the word ‘lost’ by any chance synonymous with irreverent, revolutionary, nonconformist, impetuous, determined…? I don’t think so.
A few days ago I took a bus, a bag hanging on my shoulder. Just by chance I found an empty seat beside a boy wearing the latest styles, tattoos and earphones included, who was also carrying something.
As chance would have it, we got off at the same stop, and I felt a great sense of relief when he insisted on helping me down the steps of the rear door with my load, his own notwithstanding. Like a harbinger of doom, the gloomy phrase suddenly came to me, as did memories of so many other boys and girls in their twenties who would leave more than one skeptic at a loss for words, and some who do give their nitpickers cause to complain.
Should we call lost those youths who stormed into the Isle of Youth, Pinar del Río, Holguín, Las Tunas and other Cuban provinces to share the pain of –and ease the burden on– the victims when the heavy rains and strong winds laid into Cuba last September? Or those who for the first time got their hands dirty trying one way or another to reap some benefit from the wounded land? I remember some of tem doing their best to make sad children laugh while their own family had no roof over their heads.
And the thousands of young Cubans who keep our education system going today, are they also the target of those fire-and-brimstone statements? Do the skeptic know anything about the nights those youths spend preparing their lessons while others their age are having great fun at a party; about how nervous they are on their first day in front of a class; about how they puff up with pride to be teachers even before their twentieth birthday; about the overwhelming burden that mistrust places on their shoulders?
Would the word ‘lost’ apply to those boys and girls who ache for their faraway loves as they stand day and night on our coastal reef to watch over every stretch of this country? If they only knew about Lester and his stubborn patrolling along some far-flung beach of Guantánamo province, or about Javier’s great responsibility for a radar who does nothing but sweep the sea surface!
A colleague heard of the paper I work for and asked my age right away: “And at 25 you’re already writing for Granma?” I had to summon up my patience for a long while –someone else said once that we were being ripened with carbide– before I told him of so many others like me he could find walking the halls of the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, where they spend countless hours waiting for closing time or hunting for the best thesis to finish a report while listening to [Cuban folk singer] Silvio, taking a few dance steps or exchanging jokes.
Have the doubters forgotten the exploits of those beard-wearing boys who cut their way through the bush in the Sierra Maestra Mountains and then raided our cities to disrupt the existing order inside Cuba and out? If a brilliant man like Fidel has always trusted in our youth’s creative strength, why are there others who allow themselves the luxury of casting a shadow over them? We could fill endless pages with stories of young people who are underestimated on arguments as flimsy as their lack of experience. How different everything would be had the pioneers of this Revolution waited for the lazy, slippery experience…!
It’s true that things are different now and it’s no longer our role to be heroes in the crossfire, but the bullets now aimed at our heads are far more dangerous. Today’s average youth must place limits on their aspirations, chances of personal fulfillment and even opportunities to have fun at the same time as they are showered with deceitful canons designed to convince them there’s a better way of life outside our country. And despite the few who may fall for the swan song and others who allow despondency to get the better of them, millions remain who refuse to give in and still fight for their homeland’s future.
What do they mean then by saying that youth, my youth, is hopeless? That we wear provocative and stylish clothes, live noisily, say what we think without a second thought, dream of possible and impossible things, dare to take on responsibilities we have no idea we can ever fulfill, never wait until tomorrow to pledge our commitment to the future… ? If these are the answers, then not only are we lost, we don’t want to be found.
By Carole Fernández Martínez
September 24, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
I have known and admired Victor Jara’s songs since I was a little girl. “Plegaria a un labrador” (Prayer to a farmer), “El alma llena de banderas” (A soul full of flags), “Las casitas del barrio alto” (The houses of the rich neighborhoods), “Ni chicha ni limoná”(Nor ‘chicha’ nor lemonade) and many other songs of his will always be a part of my personal patrimony and my singing arsenal, because of their messages and for their extraordinary quality.
At the same time, I was invited to be part of the Cuban team that helped organize the Peace without Borders Concert last Sunday September 20. From my point of view, what happened that day at the Revolution Square was transcendent for Cuba, for our young people and for our country’s image in the world.
I was there; I felt the public, for the most part young people, vibrate. It was neither a trivial neither a hysterical mass of people. They knew all that had happened in Miami, the pressure they had put on Juanes, the acts of barbarism and fascism to force him to cancel the project. When they shouted “Cuba, Cuba, Cuba”, with the public’s commitment to the success of the concert, we sent our message to the world.
For all these reasons, the “Letter to Victor Jara” written by Carlos Alberto Ruiz published today in Rebellion particularly irritated me. Although I have always written on topics of my specialty, I feel compelled to comment on it, on the cultural policies of my country, and with judgments of a different character that appear in it.
As a musicologist, I know perfectly well where the so-called entertainment industry is going, how banality is cultivated by it. They manufacture and promote false idols at a global level. Nobody has to give us lessons on that. I also know how hard Cuban musical institutions try to intelligently counteract the influence on our young people of those frivolous and commercial currents flooding the planet today.
Although we are under its permanent influence, we work daily to promote talent. And, to establish the authentic artistic hierarchies of all times, of Cuba and of the world. Thanks to this, ours is one of the very few countries in which the people prefer their own music.
It was moving to be at the Square when a million youths sang “Ojala” with Silvio Rodríguez, or with Danny Rivera, “Your Town is My Town”, and with Amaury Pérez “Hacerte Venir” (Make You Come to Me). It was great to dance with them to the rhythm of the anthological potpourri 70s songs of Los Van Van. It closed to the music of Compay Segundo’s “Chan Chan”, intoning verses of Jose Marti. It was the most moving and intense moment in the concert and a homage to our roots, to our traditional music, to the ideas of Jose Marti, to our culture, to what we have been and to what we will continue to be as Cubans.
Without a doubt, not everything we listened to there had the same artistic level. Some of these moments will be ephemeral; but most of them will remain in the minds and souls of all Cubans: those that were there and those that enjoyed the show on television.
Carlos Alberto Ruiz reminds us how in this superficial world a pseudo culture without marrow and forgetfulness is being imposed. He dares to confront Victor Jara’s image to Cuba today. Our country has never ceased to promote Victor Jara’s songs, thought and example. Among the first transcriptions made of his compositions, we find those made by Cuban teacher Jesus Ortega, published in 1978 in Boletinmúsica of Casa de las Americas called Victor Jara Speaks and Sings.
The “International Meeting against Terrorism, for Truth and Justice” was an historical event, presided over by Fidel the whole time. It was held in Havana, in June 2005. More than 600 intellectuals, artists, social fighters and political leaders of 60 countries participated. This event culminated with a beautiful and very moving homage to Victor at the Karl Marx Theater. To an overflowing public, figures of the revolutionary song of several Latin American countries paid tribute to him with their art.
In the 2007 edition of Cubadisco, the main Cuban musical event, Victor Jara was paid tribute and received, as he deserves, the Prize of Honor. This event was widely broadcast to our people. In their colloquy, dedicated in that occasion to the “necessary Song” (as expressed by Alí Primera), topics like alternative discography and the strategy to take songs with social content and commitment to the large masses were discussed. From these discussions the idea of creating a discography label called ALBA (Dawn) arose. This was recently approved by the summit of the countries that integrate it, and it was decided that among the first productions they would include an anthology of Victor Jara’s songs.
Last year, Professor Leo Brouwer organized it and directed in Havana the “Victor Jara in memoriam: 35 years later” concert. It included the premiere of two pieces composed by Professor Leo for this concert: “Variations on a Victor Jara theme for guitar” and “Elegy to Victor Jara”. Important groups and soloists from Cuba and Latin America also participated in this concert.
All these years, Cuba has published in disks, cassettes and cds all the recordings of Victor’s concerts in Cuba. The most recent edition was made by Casa de las Americas (the recordings of a concert Victor offered in that emblematic institution on March 1972). It was presented in February this year, at the International Book Fair dedicated to Chile, in the collection “Music of this America”. The cd’s of that same collection Hasta Siempre and Che querido, also in that Fair, were presented as a tribute to the Heroic Guerilla by different Latin American singers. Also Victor’s CD Compañero Presidente, with songs from Silvio, Pablo and other singers dedicated to Salvador Allende.
The magazine Boletinmúsica ode Casa de las Americas dedicated a number in dedicated to the 1967 Protest Song Meeting 40 years after its celebration. In that edition, there is a special dossier, “Victor Jara in us”, dedicated to his life and his example. Thereis also a Leonardo Acosta article on a book in remembrance of Alí Primera and interviews to Daniel Viglietti, Caesar Isela, Pancho Villa, Ricardo Darts and other figures of different generations that cultivate protest songs in our region.
The list of actions that Cuban institutions and artists promote against the tyranny of the market having Victor Jara as a reference figure of an art divorced from commercial concessions could be endless. It would be enough to go through the digital publications of institutions like Casa de las Americas (www.casadelasamericas.org) , Center Pablo de la Torriente Brau (www.centropablo.cult.cu) , the magazine Clave of the Cuban Music Institute (www.clave.icm.cu) , La Jiribilla ( www.lajiribilla.cu ) or CUBARTE webpage (www.cubarte.cult.cu ) to understand the real meaning of our cultural policy and how far are we from promoting banality.
I had the privilege from the beginning of knowing how this concert’s project originated, supported without hesitation by some of Cuba’s exceptional creators, who belong not only to the vanguard of our culture, but also to that of the Spanish-speaking world. They have nothing to do with the aesthetics of some of the artists that visited us and who don’t need these types of actions for their professional promotion. They have an enormous prestige among our people and with other countries’ public. They participated simply because they understood the meaning this concert would have for Cuba.
This morning, I was proud to read that Fidel in his reflections, characterized the concert “Peace without Borders” as extraordinary, and he finished saying: “The Cuban people, especially Cuba’s magnificent young people, demonstrated yesterday that even in the midst of a brutal economic blockade it is possible to conquer unimaginable obstacles.”
Once again, like in these past fifty years, Fidel put facts in their proper place.
Although I read Fidel’s book Peace in Colombia with a lot of interest , I don’t know the history of that country in detail neither do I feel I’m prepared to forward an opinion on it. Much less, can I speak about how they perceive Juanes politically there. What I do know is the history of my homeland and the principles that guide it. I know that, like Victor Jara, revolutionary Cubans will know how to defend our dignity and our principles.
Back in 1935, my wife and I went to Cuba for a vacation. We went via the Panama Canal one of the great flying boats which then operated between San Francisco and New York. It laid out for two or three days in Havana harbor. We spent one day in the capital city and then returned aboard the ship and went on up to New York. We couldn’t see ourselves vacationing in the welter of poverty, ignorance, corruption, prostitution, misery and despair, which were the Cuba of 1935. We went back to Havana and in December 1960. Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries had overthrown the American puppet Batista, and defeated his army – also maintained, trained, and paid by American taxpayers for the benefit of American big – business corporations. It was the Year of Education, and and islandwide campaign was being waged to stamp out illiteracy. The shacks and slums were disappearing, to be replaced by prefabricated concrete houses. These had sanitary plumbing, running water, gas and electricity. The barren landed estates had been converted into food–processing plantations for the benefit of all. Everywhere there was hope, pride and exaltation. The Cuban people had recaptured their coiuntry from the exploiters.
A LION IN COURT
by Vincent Hallinan
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
June 12, 2017
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
This morning we received the news of the death, on Monday morning, of the distinguished professor, essayist and historian, Fernando Martínez Heredia , at the age of 78 years.
Martínez Heredia was born on January 21, 1939 in Yaguajay, province of Sancti Spíritus, Cuba.
As a professor of postgraduate education, he taught courses and lectures on social issues in various institutions in the country and in nineteen other nations, where he worked as a guest professor or researcher.
A permanent researcher of the Cuban and Latin American realities, he participated in social research at the University of Havana, the Center for Western European Studies, the Center for American Studies and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Humanities and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
He was scientific collaborator of the Program of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Cuba; Member of the “Ernesto Che Guevara” Chair and the Current World Problems Seminar of the Economic Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
He worked in the Cuban Institute of Cultural Research Juan Marinello and there he was president of the chair of studies “Antonio Gramsci”.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
At the end of May 2017, our site Cubadebate exceeded three million visits for the first time in a month the number of 3,223,174, despite the technical difficulties we have faced with our servers in recent days.
Cuba was the country that received the most visits with 2,218,591 and received another million visits from the rest of the world.
Cubadebate reached one million monthly visits in 2012 and two million in 2015. For several years, Cubadebate has been the medium of communication, including international ones, best placed in the well-known Alexa ranking for Cuba. In turn, it is the Cuban best located in the Alexa World Ranking, now in the position 6 thousand 361.
On its Facebook homepage, which has more than 437,000 followers, Cubadebate received in May 783,154 interactions and 1.4 million video views. In Youtube 685,560 views were reached in the month, while on Twitter, the main account of the site has 253,135 followers.
Our team appreciates the visits and interactions of our followers; And aims to continue to grow as a communications product, despite shortages and difficulties, always with the input of all of you.
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By May 11, 2009 9:13 AM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Letter to La Jornada of a Mexican scholarship student in Cuba
Havana, Cuba May 8, 2009
As a Mexican scholarship student of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba, I respectfully write you to make the following comment.
The measures taken in the island are merely precautionary, because the virus causing the disease is absent [from this territory], there has been no discriminatory measure of any kind on the part of any citizen or Cuban authority to Mexican students currently living here. It is indeed unacceptable that the Mexican people remain so poorly informed and that this situation is used to attack and to discredit the Cuban people. The Cuban people have never rejected us under any circumstances. On the contrary, we have been accepted very generously and as brothers and sisters. I am enormously grateful for this.
The campaign to slander Cuba must cease immediately. Such manipulation against a people like the Cubans must stop. Cubans have shown the world that it is not necessary to be under foreign domination to succeed. They have imprinted the meaning of dignity in each of its citizens. .
Orquídea Marván García Ayala
response to an email received from a comrade
In response to your email, I would like to make the following commentary:
Cuba has always responded with strong and decisive preventive measures to any disease, especially in the case of this virus, whose patterns and trends were not clear at the beginning of the epidemic. This was so in the case of AIDS, for example, or with the internationalist cooperationists returning from developing countries. In all cases, the priority was to protect the health of the people in spite other considerations and sensitivities, also taking care of the individual rights of the people.
In the case of Cuba, it is easier to do, because of the quality and dimension of its health system and the fact that the country is an island (the advantage from a sanitary point of view, of being surrounded by water). And here it is more urgent that we do so, because Cuba is under an embargo and can not purchase medicines on the closest market , the American, nor in any other country if the patents or components [of the pharmaceutical] are of U.S. origin.
Furthermore, with the damage the three hurricanes that hit the island in September and October last year caused the Cuban economy (with losses estimated at 10 billion dollars, equivalent to 30% of the country’s gross domestic product), it is particularly vulnerable to additional losses caused by an epidemic.
In the case of the influenza, the national and local governments (DF) of the affected country (Mexico), took drastic measures (closing schools, restaurants, workplaces, cinemas, etc..) and even the president advised the people not to leave their homes. It is not surprising then that other countries also reacted with strong measures.
By the way, Cuba offered to send medical technicians, scientists and epidemiological doctors to Mexico. But of course, Cuba can not send them without the consent of the government of the country concerned, nor is it the role of Cuba to determine whether the measures taken by Mexico were correct or not.
Also, remember that Mexican citizens in Cuba (residents or the more than 1,200 scholarship students) have not suffered any discrimination, not from the government nor from the local population. Unlike other countries, where Mexicans have been confined or have suffered various attacks.
This is a health measure, no more and no less.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Proof that neoliberal capitalist domination is universal lies in the real estate speculation that underlies the neoliberal dream that “wealth is easy in the capitalist world”.
The most common evidence is finding a sumptuous building being built where previously there had been many modest homes and/or small businesses. If there is not a billboard to inform you, investigate and you will find that the new construction will house or serve a small number of families in very sumptuous conditions.
This phenomenon of capitalism is called “gentrification.” Sometimes it affects whole neighborhoods of humble population and leaves beautiful spaces that certainly can make wide sectors of the citizenship proud –even popular sectors– despite the fact that they hurt the sensitivity of those who worry about the worsening situation of those who previously inhabited those areas.
I remember that, shortly after the triumph of the revolution in Cuba, more than half a century ago, for the first time, I heard of this from a young dreamer named Eusebio Leal.
If I am not mistaken, he, being a history lover, began working as an assistant to the elder historian of the city of Havana, Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring (1889-1964). Eusebio devoted himself so thoroughly to his work that he became, first, a faithful and indispensable assistant to this erudite figure and, after his death, his replacement.
The process of restoration of the historical center of Havana City has gone through several stages after the Office of the Historian was founded –with managerial and operational autonomy– in 1938, on Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring’s initiative Its purpose was the promotion of the culture of Havana and the conservation of the valuable monumental legacy that the capital of the country treasures.
Eusebio added to his mentor’s teachings his own considerations and theories about the course to be applied to the conservation, reconstruction, and development projects of the capital city of all Cubans. He did it with such brilliance that it soon became clear that no one but he could undertake the complex task of conducting the work.
He was officially appointed Historian of the City when he had already demonstrated, in daily practice, that he was the ideal person to carry out the ambitious projects that were only in his mind but which he described as fait accompli.
So many people had to be convinced that the need to save Havana was so pressing that it would have to be taken on as a priority together with the education, public health and defense of the country.
This implied such tasks of convincing and promoting that made Eusebio Leal excel as a tribune and diplomat as well as administrator and builder.
Of course, the works and projects of the Office of the Historian of Havana earned enthusiastic patronage from the highest political leadership of the Cuban state, including that of the top leader Fidel Castro, who gave them their full support whenever necessary.
With Eusebio’s personal participation in every promotional detail, the historic center of the Cuban capital was declared a World Heritage SIOPite by UNESCO in 1982. This fueled a process of restoration that has transcended the patrimonial conservation framework and became an example of sustainable local development.
The restoration process had, as a central aim, the concept that the historic center would be not only an act of high architectural and urban value, but also the creation of a site with great cultural, economic and social potential. Eusebio was convinced that a successful rehabilitation should be self-financing and socially participatory.
The restoration process of the Historic Center of Old Havana –based on a model of self-management with a participatory and community approach– has been successful in the Cuban patrimonial context. It has contributed to the objective of guaranteeing the social achievements of the Cuban people within the socialist revolution.
One undoubted social impact of the restoration process is that it created a new awareness about the value of the city, its potential and the feasibility of its recovery.
The restoration of old hotels, the creation of hostels and extra-hotel services of various kinds has created the most visible side of the economy of the historic center. These, together with the commercial activity and handicraft production, have formed a profile that describes the historic center of the city.
Havana will not be gentrified. The population that has given it worldwide fame for its joy, traditions, hospitality, generosity and solidarity will continue to be the absolute owner of the increasingly beautiful and welcoming city.
May 4, 2017
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Una prueba de que el capitalismo neoliberal es universal en su dominación, está en la especulación inmobiliaria que fundamenta el sueño neoliberal de que la riqueza es fácil en el mundo capitalista. Lo más común es encontrar un suntuoso edificio construido donde antes hubo muchas viviendas modestas y/o pequeños comercios. Si no hubiera una valla que se lo informe, investigue y generalmente conocerá que la nueva construcción alojará o dará servicio a un reducido número de familias pero en condiciones muy suntuosas.
Este fenómeno propio del capitalismo se llama “gentrificación”. A veces afecta a barrios enteros de población humilde y deja bellos espacios que ciertamente pueden constituir orgullo de amplios sectores de la ciudadanía –incluso sectores populares- aunque hieran la sensibilidad de quienes se preocupan por la peor situación en que quedaron quienes habitaban esas áreas.
Recuerdo que poco después del triunfo de la revolución en Cuba, hace más de medio siglo, oí hablar por vez primera de este fenómeno a un joven soñador nombrado Eusebio Leal, quien -si no me equivoco- por ser aficionado a la historia, comenzó a trabajar como asistente del anciano historiador de la ciudad de La Habana, Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring (1889 – 1964). Se entregaba con tanto esmero a su labor que se convirtió, primero, en fiel e imprescindible ayudante de este sabio y, luego de su muerte, en su sustituto.
El proceso de restauración del centro histórico de Ciudad de La Habana ha pasado por varias etapas desde que, en 1938, se fundó con carácter autónomo la Oficina del Historiador por iniciativa del Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, con el propósito de fomentar la cultura habanera y promover la conservación del valioso legado monumental que la capital del país atesora.
Eusebio incorporó a las enseñanzas de su mentor sus propias
consideraciones y teorías acerca del curso que debía aplicarse a los proyectos de conservación, reconstrucción y desarrollo de la ciudad capital de todos los cubanos con tal brillantez que bien pronto se hizo evidente que nadie más que él podría asumir la compleja tarea de conducir esos trabajos. Fue designado oficialmente Historiador de la Ciudad cuando ya había demostrado, en la práctica cotidiana, que era la persona idónea para impulsar los ambiciosos proyectos que apenas bullían en su mente pero que ya describía como hechos consumados. Había que convencer a tanta gente de que la necesidad de salvar a La Habana era tan presionante que tendría que ser asumida de manera prioritaria y simultánea con las de educación, salud pública y defensa del país.
Ello implicaba un trabajo de convencimiento y promoción que hizo que Eusebio Leal sobresaliera como tribuno y diplomático tanto como administrador y constructor. Por supuesto, las obras y proyectos de la Oficina del Historiador de La Habana obtuvieron patrocinio entusiasta de la máxima dirección política del Estado cubano, incluyendo el del máximo líder Fidel Castro quien les dio todo su apoyo cuando ello fue necesario.
Con su participación personal en cada detalle promocional, el centro histórico de la capital cubana fue declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO en 1982, algo que impulsó un proceso de restauración que ha trascendido los marcos de la conservación patrimonial y se convirtió en ejemplo de desarrollo local sostenible. El proceso restaurador apuntaba a que el centro histórico no sería solamente un acto de alto valor arquitectónico y urbanístico, sino además un sitio de gran potencial cultural, económico y social, con la convicción de que una rehabilitación exitosa debía ser autofinanciable y socialmente participativa.
El proceso de restauración del Centro Histórico de La Habana Vieja basado en un modelo de autogestión con enfoque participativo y comunitario ha sido exitoso en el contexto patrimonial cubano y ha aportado al objetivo de garantizar las conquistas sociales logradas por el pueblo cubano con la revolución socialista.
Un indudable impacto social del proceso de restauración, es que a partir de su propia labor, se ha creado una nueva conciencia sobre los valores de la ciudad, sus potencialidades y la factibilidad de su recuperación.
A partir de la restauración de antiguos hoteles, la creación de hostales y de servicios extrahoteleros de diverso orden, se ha constituido en la cara más visible de la economía del centro histórico, junto con la actividad comercial, y ha conformado un perfil que al igual que la actividad artesanal, califica al centro histórico de la ciudad.
La Habana no será gentrificada. La población que le ha dado fama mundial por su alegría, sus tradiciones, su hospitalidad, su generosidad y su solidaridad seguirá siendo dueña absoluta de la cada vez más bella y acogedora ciudad.
Mayo 4 de 2017