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.
By Marina Mendez Quintero
May 27 2009 00:25:17 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Because we have become accustomed to living with an arrogance that has triggered two wars, it doesn’t surprise us that Washington has allotted itself the prerogative of including countries, organizations or innocent people in its “terrorist” lists.
But what is really unbelievable and is apparently an escalade into the absurd is that one of those people (without even having been notified of such charges!) has been forced in two consecutive instances to change the course of a trip because he “has been forbidden” to fly over United States territory.
Mind you, we are not talking about touching or stepping on [US soil]: it is simply the act of passing a thousand feet above it. Even when the subject- of course, unarmed! – and, without looking down, is only reading a newspaper, comfortably sitting in an airplane.
Now, sitting in front of the reporter, with that clear and candid smile that always accompanies the Colombian journalist and researcher Hernando Calvo Ospina, “the defendant” is still surprised.
“Nobody understands it, and I still do not understand it. I can not understand how they came up with this “level of hazard”, they have assigned me.
The first time was April 18 last, and the news spread like wildfire, turning into a scandal. Perhaps you read it in this same newspaper: an Air France plane full of passengers, in a Paris-Mexico route, had to change course in mid-flight because the U.S. did not allow it to fly across its territory. The reason they gave was that one of the passengers was a person who constituted “a threat to its national security”.
The change of course happened when we were reaching Mexico. It lengthened the trip and took the passengers to an unexpected excursion to Martinique. This was because the fuel they had was not enough to take all those turns and the plane had to be refueled. Some children got sick and vomited, and many adults arrived finally in Mexico with leg cramps.
The person most surprised was Calvo Ospina himself when they told him he was the cause of the detour. He was the ‘unwelcome” person in the air above the U.S.
The worst thing is that this strange situation repeated itself, more or less the same, a few days ago.
He was traveling to Havana from Paris, where he resides, and three hours before boarding the phone rang. ‘Hernando Calvo Ospina? This is Air France calling. We can not let you board the plane because it will pass through U.S. airspace to enter Cuba’. These were more or less the words they used.
They changed the tickets and “sent” him via Madrid.
Calvo Ospina now wonders whether Air France gives U.S. authorities the passenger lists of its company’s flights that will cross U.S airspace.
– What will you do when you get back to Paris?
– First, I have to ask Air France for an explanation. But I think I will sue them and-most importantly- the United States on the issue of my image.
– How do you feel, a man like you, who has fought terrorism for so long, and is now in one of those lists?
– Look, it’s a very difficult situation because one already knows what they could do: put me in prison, torture me. But, the thing is. You think: What did I do that was so bad? I’ve never shot a gun! I have spoken with the French authorities, and they also do not understand it. I can not understand it either. Are there other games going on under the table to put pressure on someone through me? Where or whom? It is the first time in the history of Air France that this happens, there is no precedent.
“French authorities also did not understand that the course of the plane was altered when president Obama was meeting with almost all Latin American presidents (Summit of the Americas), and told them: ‘We are going to change our ways, we will respect. “
– Why do you think you were included?
– What I have been able to find out from colleagues and friends, is that there seems to be four reasons: the articles I have published against the Colombian government, the articles I’ve done against the U.S. policy towards Latin America, my relationships and interviews with the leaders of Colombian guerrillas, and my relations with countries ‘hostile’ to the U.S.
“Now, I do not know which Latin American countries are hostile to the U.S., because what I do know is that the U.S. is the one who has been hostile to several Latin American countries. But I do not think that these four “reasons” are enough to justify all the things that happened.”
I did not ask him what route he will use to return to France … In any case, Hernando Calvo Ospina has a clear conscience. His only arsenals are the dozens of articles where he has denounced many of the White House dirty policies, and a dozen books in which he speaks of a real terror: the one successive U.S. administrations wage against Latin America.
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 José Alejandro Rodríguez
August 29, 2009 23:26:55 CDT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Unlike the deceiving mirror of my childhood, which assured the witch she was the most beautiful woman in the world, ordinary mirrors are built with the quicksilver of truth. They reflect our image such as we are, with the furrows and the snow of time.
Societies also need mirrors to scrutinize their images, to detect wrinkles, which, conversely to those that mark human faces, can be reversed. And, our socialism needs to be systematically observed, to avoid clinging to idyllic images, or deceiving notions that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.
I say this because, in my long and loving job of reflecting our society’s problems, to guarantee that it lasts longer; I have met a blinding resistance to my sincere criticism. This resistance takes the form of a “handsaw”; meaning that those who judge me, are carving a hole on the floor for me to fall through.
The sick obsession with protecting “the image” of the country, of the ministry, of the company or of the territory is more frequent than concern for the real messes being reported. On occasion, it is paranoia trying to protect positions, jobs, and other trifles, when improving reality is what it’s about.
Other times, it’s the consequence of a confusion many people have. They think that problems (in the country, ministry, company or territory) should not be discussed publicly because this will demean the achievements of the Revolution.
This blindness, common to both indolent and opportunist people, common also to those holding high positions or not, can strengthen the sensation that everything is all right. It’s very dangerous to confuse reality with our best wishes, and that by clinging to our society’s noble paradigms we fail to discover when, where, and how deeply reality proves them faulty. This would be the worst possible service to the Revolution.
There’s a scientific principle that says that to solve something, it is necessary first to recognize it and to elucidate it. For a long time there was strong resistance to accepting that corruption larvae had been already incubated in our society. Corruption was considered profanity, as if it could condemned us, we who have so much accumulated honesty. In the long run, here we are creating a General Controlership of the Republic.
Some perceive that healthy criticism – which, by the way, should not stop at words but continue in actions and transformations – is giving in to weakness; that it’s like giving weapons to the enemy. The truth is that the most dangerous missile we can give those who want to dismantle our 50 year work is silence. To keep silent when we see pretenses, double morals, conformity, or the disappearance of militant intransigence against wrongs that are incubated and develop before our very own eyes.
European socialism disappeared because it lost the ability to see what was really happening, and the compass to correct the route. This lesson cannot be forgotten. It is similar to Dorian Grey’s tragedy, Oscar Wilde’s character the one who was obsessed by narcissism, hid his portrait, so that he didn’t have to see the signs he was incorporating every time he made a blunder. Cuba has enough light to see herself in the mirror, and to correct her ugliness.
By Haydée León Moya
August 4, 2009 00:42:10 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Cecilia González and her daughter Alioska opened their purses almost at the same time. They are standing in front of the cashier of a glistening laundry on Ayestaran Street in Havana. “It’s 77 pesos”, the employee says. And the young girl is the first one to extend her hand and pay.
Outside we heard this dialogue between the young girl and the lady:
– It’s a little bit expensive, isn’t it, “mi’ja?”
– No Mom, I think the price is right, because neither of us had to do it.
– But, will we be able to do it twice a month?
– Sure… sometimes what we don’t have is time, or detergent…
Zelmira Ramírez, laundry manager, also heard this conversation, and reached the same conclusion they did. If you don’t have to buy detergent, nor spend electricity at home, it’s worth it. If they hand in the dirty clothes, go to work and pick them up on the same day when they come back home, and pay in “pesos”, it’s really worth it, mi’jita!
Then, the experienced laundry worker, comments, “You cannot compare these machines with the clothes rippers called ‘Aurika’”.
“Well, they were also a great help”, the lady says, and leaves pleased.
The manager informs us they work from 7 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. at 12:30 p.m. The price for washing and drying depends on weight, but ironing is charged by piece. “It’s a little more expensive, because compared to washing and drying, it consumes more electricity. We also have a very good new sewing machine in case a hem or some other stitches need sewing”, comments Zelmira.
Arnold Díaz, a 20 year-old boy who is already in love with the ironing machine he operates, says he also irons at home. He likes to do this job and he is not planning to leave. But, he thinks wages should be a bit higher so people wouldn’t leave looking for better paid jobs elsewhere.
People are thankful for the appearance of several remodeled laundries in different ‘barrios’ of the city. They have used places that already existed but hadn’t been repaired in more than 15 years.
Eduardo Tomé Consuegra, provincial director of commercial services in the capital, told JR that 15 laundries were reopened in Havana. Nine of these have been equipped with totally new and automated technology. The equipment includes five or seven washing machines, three or four dryers and an ironing machine or “planchín”. The equipment was bought in Spain at a cost of 70,000 dollars per module.
He said that in most of these restored facilities there is a payment system that stimulates workers and guarantees the service quality. He also said that the new modules will soon be found in all city units.
Tome said repairs have been made thanks to the cooperation of other provinces, especially with equipment installation, and to unit workers zeal in construction work. In this way, little by little, they have saved units that provided this type of service from dilapidation.
Mirurgia Ramírez Santana, national director of Service in the Ministry of Internal Trade, explains that 1,300,000 dollars were invested in 2008 to recover these basic services. The money was used to purchase 20 modules, which we described before, spare parts and maintenance service from a prominent Spanish laundry chain.
She reported that despite economic limitations and that the State subsidizes 60 per cent of this service, 32 laundries have been remodeled through out the country. A budget was approved to purchase 11 more modules, because the goal is that at least one new module is installed in every province before the end of the year.
By José Luis Estrada Betancourt
May 26, 2009 – 00:45:44 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Even Hollywood shoots with caution given the undeniable problems to get loans, the fear of recession and the little confidence in Wall Street.
Such a highly topical matter as the world economic and financial crisis, whose effects we feel in life’s every sphere, has not gone unnoticed by the seekers of ideas for possible plots that might become box-office hits. In fact, the sexagenarian Michael Douglas will once again be directed by the renowned Oliver Stone to deliver a sequel to Wall Street (1987), where he made an Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a powerful, roguish tycoon who became filthily rich as a stock market speculator.
Wall Street 2 unfolds against the ideal backdrop of today’s disturbing crisis, which will provide the context to throw light on the same world of greed and corruption behind the upcoming The international, starring Clive Owen (as Louis Salinger) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman).
Based on screenwriter Eric Warren Singer’s script, the film follows an Interpol agent and an assistant district attorney determined to disclose the shady deals of a very powerful bank turned expert on illegal activities to fund terrorism and war.
Director Tom Tykwer speaks:”If the story seems to be ripped from the headlines, it’s because the headlines have shown that the banks control all aspects of our lives. The mess we’re in now started when the banks took advantage of people and encouraged them to live beyond their means ‘.
A similar concern has led the controversial and always unerring director of Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko to revisit a subject he had already brought to the fore in 1989 with Roger and Me, when he dug for the reasons why General Motors closed several auto plants in Michigan. A decade later, Michael Moore strikes again, but unlike his fellow filmmakers, with a documentary film, his favorite genre.
As usual, Moore decided to make inquiries into the root cause of the economic chaos lashing against our planet. To that end, he used his webpage to urge a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know», and adding: «Be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history”.
To the author of Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine (2003) it is plain that “the wealthy, at some point, decided they didn’t have enough wealth. They wanted more… a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That’s what I seek to discover in this movie”, he explains.
As we wait for the famous filmmaker to delve into this issue, the economic and financial crisis keeps lashing at the entertainment industry, and of course, cinema is not an exception.
A most noticeable effect of this crisis, at least to those who are all gung-ho on whatever celebrity walks down the red carpet, is the lack of glamour in the world’s greatest movie festivals, an extravaganza the average mortal won’t give two hoots about but certainly a sign of how drastic the limitations have got to be, even in Cannes, one of the industry’s two biggest markets. Credit lines have decreased so much worldwide that smaller industries are no longer able to attract a sizeable audience –as it happens to Cuba and most independent film companies– to these contests, also affected by a reduction in the number of sales contract signed for the movies, TV, DVD and their by-products. Since the to-ing and fro-ing of 35-mm film has become so expensive, from now on it will be harder for filmmakers and actors to attend the premieres of their motion pictures, and more DVD releases are likely to hit the stalls.
Things have reached the point that corporate Hollywood, with plenty of stakes in various companies, have turned more conservative and are even having second thoughts about paying the hair-raising salaries their stars pocket –like the 20 million dollars Jim Carrey made for The Cable Guy, in the end a real turnoff– or keeping the affluent lifestyle they demand while on set, say, private jets close at hand.
Now the studios are “walking a tightrope”, what with the undeniable difficulties to get credits, the fear of recession, and the little confidence they have in Wall Street, which explains why more than a few finished movies ended up on ice until the thunderclouds get away –including eagerly awaited titles like the latest Harry Potter installment– often because of a budget too low to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for marketing and advertising campaigns alone.
The DVD divisions seem to be the only ones expected to “gain” something from this mess, because people choose to watch films at home rather than pay for a theater ticket –as an average, 3.50 dollars in Mexico, and over 4.50 in Brazil and Chile. Facts: audience ratings fell 10% in Asia, 14% in the United States, and 1% in the European Union (figures for the end of 2008 have it that more than 9 million people stopped going to the movies compared with the previous year, which meant the closure of 39 theaters).
Nonetheless, filmmakers such as the Argentinean Luis Puenzo (The Official Story, Old Gringo) believe the economic crisis “may blaze a trail that the less powerful countries can use to disseminate their motion pictures more. Despite the hard times worldwide cinema is going through, shaking the system a little bit always leaves gaps through which we can slip, used as we are to dealing with lower costs of production than the big Hollywood companies. My generation was born in mid-crisis and is trained to make films regardless of the financial ups and downs”.
Life has proved Puenzo right up to a point, but the crux of the matter remains that the «peripheral» industries can truly make movies, taking into account that the studios have been compelled to make budget cuts and put off some productions for next year, as they have less money for distribution.
For instance, that’s the case of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which was forced to postpone the shooting of feature films that were almost ready to begin after two years of a steady pace that gave us movies like Los dioses rotos, El cuerno de la abundancia, Omertá, Ciudad en rojo and La anunciación.
Some documentary and full-length films are almost ready to hit the big screen, namely Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia; El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez’s movie about our Apostle José Martí; Juan Carlos Cremata’s El premio flaco; and Daniel Díaz’s Lisanka. Yet, we’ll have to slow down.
For the time being, the moviegoers’ greatest hope is that only those films supported by good scripts will get the go-ahead and the budget they need, at least while the crisis still goes on.
March 15, 2009 00:53:09 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
At the Museum of the Revolution, the 25 years of existence of this regiment was remembered. The regiment was created by initiative of Vilma Espin, eternal president of the Cuban Women Federation.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) in the capital paid tribute to the first anti-aircraft artillery regiment of women, created by initiative of Vilma Espin, eternal president of the Cuban Women Federation (FMC), according to AIN.
During a ceremony at the Museum of the Revolution, the 25 years of existence of this regiment were remembered. Reserve Colonel Mirta Garcia Llorca was in command of this regiment from 1984 to 1991.
After placing a wreath at the eternal flame to the Heroes of the Fatherland at the Granma Memorial, the women shared their experiences and remembered the founding years. The myriad tasks performed on behalf of the FAR and the FMC, particularly during international missions and in Cuba, were also remembered.
The event, chaired by Major General Antonio Enrique Batlle Lusón, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, and by Yolanda Ferrer, secretary general of the women’s organization, was a propitious moment to recount the significance Cuban women have had as part of the Cuban people in uniform.
It also recognized the efforts of the FAR, the UJC, the FMC and the High School Student Federation (FEEM) to comply with the Women’s Voluntary Military Service, a vital link in the incorporation of young girls to the defense of our homeland.
At the end of the ceremony, Brigadier General Ramon Martinez Echevarria, of MINFAR, stressed the merits of these women who stepped forward at a time when the country urgently needed their presence in the Armed Forces and reiterated the altruism and courage with which they faced different missions.
The First Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment of Women was founded on March 8, 1984, and many of its members are still active within the FAR and the MININT, while others are active in different sectors of Cuban society.
15 de marzo de 2009 00:53:09 GMT
En el Museo de la Revolución fueron recordados los 25 años de existencia de este órgano armando, que surgió por iniciativa de Vilma Espín, eterna presidenta de la Federación de Mujeres Cubanas
Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR) rindieron homenaje en la capital al primer regimiento femenino de artillería antiaérea, una iniciativa impulsada por Vilma Espín, eterna presidenta de la Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (FMC), informó la AIN.
Durante una ceremonia en el Museo de la Revolución fueron recordados los 25 años de existencia de este órgano armando, al frente del cual estuvo desde 1984 hasta 1991 la coronel de la reserva Mirta García Llorca.
Tras colocar una ofrenda floral en la llama eterna a los Héroes de la Patria en el Memorial Granma, las féminas intercambiaron experiencias y rememoraron los años fundacionales y las innumerables tareas cumplidas por encargo de las FAR y la FMC, en particular en misiones internacionalistas y en suelo patrio.
El acto, presidido por el Héroe de la República de Cuba, general de división Antonio Enrique Lusón Batlle, y Yolanda Ferrer, secretaria general de la organización femenina, devino oportuno recuento de lo que ha significado la mujer cubana como parte del pueblo uniformado.
Asimismo, se reconoció el esfuerzo de las FAR, la UJC, la FMC y la Federación de Estudiantes de la Enseñanza Media (FEEM) en el cumplimiento del Servicio Militar Voluntario Femenino, un eslabón imprescindible en la incorporación de las jóvenes a la defensa de la Patria.
Al término de la ceremonia el general de brigada Ramón Martínez Echevarría, del MINFAR, destacó los méritos de estas mujeres que dieron el paso al frente en momentos en que el país urgía de su presencia en las Fuerzas Armadas y reiteró el altruismo y la valentía con que enfrentaron disímiles misiones.
El Primer Regimiento de Artillería Antiaéreo Femenino se fundó el 8 de marzo de 1984, y muchas de sus integrantes se mantienen en activo dentro de las FAR y el MININT y otras en diferentes sectores de la sociedad cubana.