The Posadas return to Havana
By Gabino Manguela, Published July 3, 2017.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Someone once said that there were no safer businesses than funeral homes and posadas (hot-pillow motels). The reasons are obvious: death and love are simply inevitable. However, their differences are notable: in the first, you cry, in the second you enjoy.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
With the exception of the very young, the most Cubans remember at least something about the posadas: be it one unforgettable kiss, or the call of the clerk indicating to the lovers that their time was up. After the first position on the island –Carabanchel– established in the late nineteenth century and located in San Miguel and Consulado, in a three-story building with 22 rooms and apartments with independent entrance from the street–dozens of such establishments flourished. The rite was always the same: the man took care of the front desk process while the woman, with her face turned down, stayed at a distance keeping her discretion.
There had been many in the capital but, according to press reports, there were 60 in 1973, and only 30 in 1989. The truth is that despite long lines and the measures of “camouflage” that some developed in order not to be caught by prying eyes, the vast majority of people –myself included– wanted to go to these places because there we made love. “Villa Cándida”, “Dos Palmas”, “11 y 24”, “La Monumental”, “Edén Arriba” and “Edén Abajo”, “La Campiña” and many others, were names repeated furtively most of the time. They were open 24 hours and everyone knew their location, details and signs, although no one talked openly about them.
The posadas not only guaranteed a happy ending to the arrangements of interpersonal relationships, but were also an option for couples faced with the realities that were becoming more acute in the country, namely the lack of housing. No one had any doubts about the convenience of having these establishments, and even tradition demanded to keep them.
But, by the 90’s of last century, in view of very evident economic shortages, it was decided to move the victims of hurricanes –persons who had lost their homes– to many (almost all) of these buildings. The remaining buildings faced the impossibility of receiving adequate maintenance, and suffered much deterioration. Little by little the posadas, or INIT motels [Instituto Nacional de Industria Turistica – today INTUR] as they were called, disappeared from the national scene.
The new service will begin at Vento
The Empresa Provincial de Alojamiento de La Habana [Provincial Lodging Company of Havana] is in charge of an important network of accommodations in 27 different facilities in the capital where both natural and legal persons can today rent a room for a single night. This is the entity in charge of bringing about the reopening of the service the posadas used to offer: that is: lodging by the hour, with a minimum of three hours.
Except from the people who have a private room, own a house, or can pay for a night at a hotel, the rest can only afford hourly rents, parks, dark stairs, the beach or even the Malecón (seawall).
“This is a service that is now in the hands of private persons who provide the service lost with the famous posadas. We believe in the real possibility of bringing it back and developing it,” says Alfonso Muñoz Chang, director of the company. Today the couple that goes to a private lodging must pay the owner at least 5 CUC or its equivalent in CUP [Cuban pesos] –a high figure for the average Cuban– for three hours of amourous privacy.
Generally speaking, the room has air conditioning, a fridge, running cold and hot water and adequate comfort. Of course, that does not include beer at 1.20 CUC or more, drinks or a bottle of rum at sky-high prices, appetizers or some other finger-food to make the moment more pleasant.
Comfort, hygiene and privacy are fundamental in this business, private entrepeneurs say. This will undoubtedly be a challenge for the state-owned service, both in terms of price and comfort.
“We will start with the Vento Motel, on Vento and Santa Catalina. It is a two-story building with 16 rooms with bathrooms and other technical requirements, just a few meters away from where there used to be a well-known posada or Init motel,” said Muñoz Chang.”
“We are also working,” he added, “on other ideas to expand the service. From the old posada network we were also given the famous Monumental, a unit with 20 rooms and car parking space.”
We´ve been working on the project for a while and have already submitted it; but the funding is steep and we could not include it in this year’s plan. “We believe that by 2018 we’ll be able to undertake it. There is the will of the government in the capital to prioritize that emblematic place, which is not crumbling or anything like that, but needs work,” he said.
The Provincial Company director indicated that the strategy foresees –in addition to “Vento” and “La Monumental”– the recovery with equal purposes of “Edén Arriba” and “Edén Abajo”, as well as the “Motel Ocho Vías”, a facility that meets the indispensable requirements for this service. To think about diversifying the options for love is not a crazy idea: it is a reality that affects everyone and should not turn into a luxury item available only to a few.
“We can do many things as a company, but others equally important do not depend on us –he stressed. Our aim is to recover that in-demand service, of great social impact and, undoubtedly, very profitable. “The main thing is to demonstrate that we can fulfill that purpose at the state level, and although we are sure of succeeding, we do not want to create false expectations,” he concluded.
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.
Alcoholism is a growing challenge for the countries of the area, which on average consumes more than in the rest of the world.
Author: Lisandra Fariñas Acosta | firstname.lastname@example.org
17 January 2016 21:01:31
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It is scientifically proven that, as a result of its excessive consumption, alcohol diminishes the average lifespan of the population by more than ten years. This should be sufficient to maintain the commitment to combat this drug, which is legal but constitutes a health problem in Cuba.
Alcoholism, according to the report on the Regional Situation of Alcohol Consumption and Health in the Americas, issued by the Pan American and World Health Organizations, constitute a growing challenge for the countries of the area. Keep in mind that in the Americas region, alcohol consumption is, on average, higher than in the rest of the world.
According to the text, the burden of morbidity (diseases and trauma) is significant, as alcohol consumption contributes to the development of 200 diseases and damages/injuries, including neoplasms, HIV/AIDS infection and various mental disorders.
Cuba is no stranger to this health problem and the statistics do not lie. More than 45% of the population over 15 years old consumes alcoholic beverages, mainly in the age range of 15-44 years old. Meanwhile, the majority of alcohol-dependent people are between 25 and 42 years old, according to research by the National Unit for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
It is clear that the tendency towards having the first drink is becoming earlier and earlier in life, without establishing differences by sex. Recent studies suggest that women drink today at the same level as their male counterparts, a trend that complicates this scenario, if we take into account that females, biologically and psychologically, are more vulnerable.
Experts warn that once women are introduced into the field of consumption, they are much more discriminated against and censured. They drink faster and take longer to seek help because of the stigmata with which they carry this scourge, in the midst of an eminently macho society, which delays treatment and hinders rehabilitation.
However, the results of the latest Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2014) showed that the proportion of men who drink alcohol is higher than the proportion of women. Alcohol consumption before the age of 15 is more common in men than in women (11% versus 3% respectively).
On the other hand, alcohol consumption is more common in urban areas, equally for both sexes, while in women alcohol consumption is more common in the capital. The highest percentage of alcoholic beverage intake is identified in the center of the country with 53%. Women in higher education consume more alcohol (24%) than those in lower education. In men, the highest percentage of consumers is among those who have not studied or who have only reached the primary level, according to the survey.
It is imperative for Cuban society to know where the gaps that condition this situation are, as well as the cultural and imitative patterns that are repeated within households. There are many places today that encourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol and it is not difficult to access drinks, although the law prohibits the sale of these products, in addition to tobacco, to minors under the age of 18.
“The bottle” often ends up in the hands of the teenager, in flagrant violation of his right to preserve his health. In addition, paradoxically and contrary to what is legally stipulated in almost all countries, in our environment it is frequent to travel through public spaces bottle in hand, and nobody talks about having a Dry Law, but about responsible consumption that allows avoiding risky behavior.
Professor Ricardo González Menéndez, a renowned expert on addictions, warns us well in his article La atención integral al alcoholismo: experiencia cubana [Comprehensive Attention to Alcoholism: Cuban Experience]. He reflects on how “although alcohol and alcoholism are currently considered as the drug and drug addiction of greatest socioeconomic and human significance, little progress has been made with regard to the classic global social attitude of underestimating it as a health problem when compared to other drug addictions”.
However, the negative impact it has on all areas of the life of the individual and those around him or her, as well as its gateway drug status, make alcoholism not only a health but also a social problem.
Around 75% of the world’s drug addicts do not receive professional help. However, Cuba’s health system has, on the other hand, provided ways to confront this problem at all levels of healthcare.
We start from an integrated network of services and various forms of care for the alcoholic patient, ranging from primary care in the community to hospital services specializing in addictions. Community Mental Health Centers or polyclinic teams are essential links in the rehabilitation of patients suffering from this and other addictions.
By Esteban Morales Domínguez
June 16, 2017
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As has been said, we are working on a theoretical foundation of the Economic Model. Let´s not forget that the economy is essential, but it cannot be sustained without a Political Model.
Moreover, dialectically speaking, the economy is fundamental, but it is not always so in every particular moment of social dynamics. Quite frequently, politics prevails over the economy.
A call should be made to work on a theoretical foundation for our political model: the one that, whether we like it or not, will come about from the impact of the changes that will come as a result of the new economic model.
In a way, the recent speech by Vice President Diaz-Canel lays down that route when he calls upon universities, research centers, and the intelligentsia to conceptualize the processes that are taking place in the nation. They must emerge from ideological discussion, controversies and a critical, committed, and revolutionary analysis.
The discussion would have to cover several issues to produce a foundation for our socioeconomic model. It has to be seen within the dynamics of the changes that the process of conceptual and practical adjustments of the new economic model demands.
In our view, this process would have to address the following fundamental aspects:
-Firstly, it is not possible to fulfill the tasks that we have set in the economic, political and social fields if we do not obtain the most complete and dynamic participation of workers and all Cubans in that process. Participation is the key to success in everything we do to push forward the changes.
-For this reason, it is fundamental that all the organizations, led by the Party, finally break away from the schemas that limit the participation of each citizen –and in particular of each party member– in the discussion of problems.
-The structuring of Cuban civil society must be thoroughly examined. The structure must represent the new interests that emerge beyond those represented by the existing political and mass organizations. These should act as transmission mechanisms of the party´s politics, taking into consideration that citizens have private interests that go beyond those already represented in these organizations.
-Cuban media must leave behind secrecy, schematic thought, elitism, and exclusiveness in information management. It should give the revolutionary intelligentsia the widest participation in the critical analysis of difficulties so that it becomes a real platform for discussing the problems that affect us.
-The masses must feel that within the Party, state, government and other levels of the political structure there is an open space for criticism, for questioning policies, pointing out mistakes, and critical harassment of the bureaucracy that hinders processes. These actions should receive support and obtain appropriate answers.
-Party militants must be alert because there are “moles”: individuals posing as revolutionaries who slow down the processes, carry out some activities to introduce mistrust, discomfort, and discouragement and serve as subversion’s fifth column.
I think that a fundamental task before us is to pick out those who –by ignorance or intention– hinder the process the country is carrying forward. This is the new “counter-revolution” which, like corruption, can be found in the higher echelons of the country´s leadership, in the political and mass organizations, and in social institutions.
Undoubtedly, there is resistance to change on the part of certain elements in society. Especially in the media, which despite the many criticisms it has received, continues without making the expected contribution.
But is this something for which journalists are responsible? I do not think so. It seems that the responsibility is at the highest level of the Party that refuses to change the pattern with which it has led the media.
In my view, this is a clear indication that resistance to change can also come from the high echelons of the country’s leadership.
The same can be said regarding several issues in our social reality.
-Particularly on the racial theme –one of great sensitivity– the above-mentioned incongruities become evident. The schools, the media, and science have just begun to move forward to tackle the issue. This, in spite of the fact that we face the reality that subversion tries to turn it into a weapon against the revolution and the country.
There is no institutional racism as such, but state institutions responsible for working to solve the problem –and its different manifestations– are far behind in the tasks that must be carried out.
Progress has already been made in the fields of education and scientific work, but neither the printed media nor TV have embraced their role.
Fidel Castro and President Raul Castro have repeatedly referred to the problem as a shameful evil that Cuban society still drags on, but little progress has been made in banishing the problem from our social relations.
Both the racial issue and the media are two clear examples of the resistance that exists, hindering the advancement of projects directly related to the changes the country must make. These are also two objectives in the subversive plans against Cuba.
Nevertheless, I think that the most complex phenomenon we are facing today is the combination of resistance to assimilating and acting consequently, as the follow-up to the criticisms made by the highest political leadership; the magnitude of the problems; and the age limit of that political leadership.
Today Cuba finds itself at the crossroads of substantial change. No one knows if it will be led to term by the historic leadership of the Revolution. It is true that this leadership is in turn responsible for the mistakes made. At the same time, it is the one with the capacity and the experience to lead the country along the new paths.
Cuban economist living in the United States.
Analyst at Cuba Standard.
March 31, 2016
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Hundreds of foreign journalists covered this visit, including some twenty of them representing the Miami media.
All –as well as all the radio and television programs in Miami– stressed and emphasized that, for the first time, the Cuban people had access to the values and truths that the President of the United States carried: democracy, free elections, human rights and others of the same order. For the first time –according to all correspondents and media panelists in Miami– the revealed truth reached the ears of the Cuban people. The consequences must bring the regime’s final collapse to a close –almost all panelists agree– enormously.
No correspondent mentioned, mentioned, quoted or compared the statements of President Obama with those of another president –not in office at the time– who was also a Democrat, and the Cuban authorities gave him the opportunity to speak publicly from the Aula Magna of the University of Havana and to disseminate his speech verbatim, without altering a comma, in all the press and official media.
I mean President James Carter. Everybody was talking about Coolidge and no one was talking about Carter. And this was just, according to Gardel, 20 years ago. Could it have been a case of collective ignorance? Widespread forgetfulness? Very short memory? Wasn’t it elemental to compare and contrast both, or was it concealment with premeditation, nocturnality and malice? Since naivety is not an integral component of political exercise, then I have no choice but to lean towards the last hypothesis, that of concealment. Purpose? That of trying to demonstrate that “the Cuban people” lived, until Obama’s arrival, wrapped in a mantle of absolute isolation with respect to such messages and values, and hence the transcendence of the truth revealed by Obama.
In his very long speech at the time, Carter defended the same values as Obama, did not hesitate to criticize what he understood critical of the Cuban experience, and carried a very explicit message of support for the Varela Project and its promoter, Osvaldo Payá, a precedent that President Obama avoided repeating in his presentations. Wasn’t there anything in this that could be compared or written down as a reference? Hard to assimilate such premeditated silence.
And why not remember, also in the 1990s when almost everyone expected the inevitable Cuban collapse, as a large group of important North American figures from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations led by the most important Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, discussed no less publicly with Cuban leaders the whole conflict before, during and after the October Crisis of 1962 (a textual memory of this debate was published in Cuba, in 2012?
Everyone overlooked that since 1960 “the Cuban people” has been subject and saturated, day after day, to the messages and values that the United States has sought to impose by force and media penetration. From VOA and Radio Swan broadcasts to all Miami stations, headed by Radio Mambí as well as Radio and TV Martí. But, not just this. In any Soviet–style radio station, any Cuban could have access to the best Spanish–language broadcasts of the most important broadcasters in Western Europe, from the BBC to Radio Netherlands or France International, without danger to his life or individual freedom.
The average Cuban during the 56 years of the revolutionary triumph has also been exposed to the best of American cinema, and it should be noted that about 70% of all the films seen in Cuba, on cinemas and TV, are American productions. Many of the best works of his literature are reproduced in Cuba, in addition to the recent use of the famous “Paquete.” And the Internet –with all its costs, past blockades and limitations– has been advancing every day for years now, with more than 2,000 blogs, growing connectivity and more than four million users of cyber telephony, but never thinking about equaling or surpassing the Yuma (a term that is born from a North American west of the 50’s that became popular again in the 70s).
With such a heavy media burden for decades, how can we possibly refer to the contents of Obama’s speech as if it were an exceptional novelty and a first? Such coverage becomes deceptive and manipulative, beyond any possible merit of President Obama’s pronouncements.
Something very similar happened with the exaltation of Miami as a monument to Cuban–American exile ingenuity called historical. Did anyone make the slightest question, expressed doubts about the relevance or otherwise of the example used by Obama? Nobody. Is it true or untrue in the history of migration to the United States, that there has never been a Cuban community in exile like the Cubans of 1959 that received the sum of the beneficiation amount?
Something very similar happened with the exaltation of Miami as a monument to Cuban–American exile ingenuity called historical. Did anyone make the slightest question, expressed doubts about the relevance or otherwise of the example used by Obama? Nobody. Is it true or not in the history of migration to the U. S., that there has never been a community exiled like the Cubans of 1959 that received the sum of benefits, support and federal, state and local privileges, without forgetting the few fortunes taken from Cuba when they began to notice the imminence of Batista’s defeat? Why don’t you take a quote from the well–known sociologist Alejandro Portes about it? Or some revealing angles of Back Channel to Cuba, Kornbluh and LeoGrande? Are they so busy that they don’t have time to find out?
I don’t know who would have suggested Miami to President Obama as a monument of Cuban exiles, but no one could mention or intersperse the enormous contributions of the Jewish community, of Colombians –with or without drugs– Peruvians and Brazilians, Mexicans and Central Americans; of the flows of enormous capitals from the “south” to Miami, which for decades have dwarfed most of Cuba’s fortunes.
It’s unnecessary to go to the Mafia, Miami Vice, the narcos and their billions, violence and hatred, murders and unsolved terrorist acts, dirty connections of all kinds up to the “plumbers” of Watergate. Alongside honest work and truly enterprising personalities, there is all this. This is all Miami. A close friend of the administration told me right away: It is absurd to compare Cuba with Miami. Its components and levels do not correspond.
Any comparison with Cuba must be in relation to that of its neighbors on a scale and in context such as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and other similar countries. And why not say it when such a unilateral pronouncement occurs? I do not intend to subtract “merits,” but I do claim comprehensive, documented, balanced and unspoken coverage.
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.
By Agustín Lage Dávila
March 23, 2016
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Viva Cuba Libre” on a street in Havana, March 22, 2016.
I had the opportunity to participate in several meetings with the delegation that accompanied Obama and to listen to the President’s three speeches. Now I feel obliged to share with my colleagues what I understood of what was said and of what was not said, because in politics what is left unsaid is often as important as what is said.
There are two complementary ways of thinking to interpret this visit and the whole process of trying to normalize relations: to interpret what it means for an assessment of the past, and to interpret what it means for a projection into the future.
Looking to the past it is evident that the recently-begun process of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States should be interpreted as a great victory of the Cuban revolutionary and socialist people, their convictions, their resilience and sacrifices, their culture, their ethical commitment to social justice; as well as a victory of Latin American solidarity with Cuba.
There are a few things that are so obvious to us Cubans that sometimes we forget to emphasize them:
I do not think there is anyone fairly lucid and well-informed in the world who can interpret this ongoing normalization process as anything other than a victory for Cuba in its historical dispute with the United States.
Looking to the past, that is the only possible interpretation.
But looking to the future, things are more complex; and there are at least two possible extreme interpretations, as well as intermediate variations:
On the streets of Cuba both are discussed today. I alert the reader at this point that, for now, I will not argue for or against one of these two hypotheses, or their various combinations. Future events will take care of it, and each person will draw “their own conclusions” in this “passage to the unknown” [a reference to the closing sentence of the host of Cuban TV show Pasaje a lo Desconocido or, Passage to the Unknown]
Those who adhere to the hypothesis of the evil conspiracy read the words of President Obama as a false promise or a subtle deception that follow a plan designed to open the doors to US capital and the influence of US media; to allow expansion in Cuba of an economically privileged sector, which eventually would evolve into the social foundation for capitalist restoration and the renouncing of our national sovereignty. These would be the first steps for a return to the Cuba of rich and poor, dictators and gangsters that we had in the ’50s.
Cubans who think like that are entitled to do so: there are many facts in the common history that justify this enormous distrust. These are known and I do not need to list them here.
Many people remember the famous phrase attributed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch“.
Certainly neither President Obama, nor the current generations of US Americans of good will (there are many) are to blame, as individuals, for the early stages of this historical trajectory. But it is also undeniable that the history is there, and it imposes constraints on what they can do, and on how we interpret what they do. Historical processes are much longer than a human life, and events that occurred many decades ago influence our choices today, because they condition collective attitudes that have an objective existence, relatively independent of the ideas and intentions of the leaders.
Even distancing President Obama from the aggressive and immoral policies of previous administrations, which organized invasions, sheltered terrorists, encouraged assassinations of Cuban leaders and implemented the attempt to starve the Cuban people; even establishing this distinction, we cannot forget that Obama alone is not the political class in the United States. There are many other components of power there. They have always been present: are present today, will be present when Obama’s term ends within a few months, and will be present in the foreseeable future. We are seeing them in the current election campaign.
To be honest with everyone who reads this note, I must admit that President Obama did not give the impression here of being the articulator of an evil conspiracy, but of being an intelligent and educated man who believes in what he says. What happens then is that the things he believes in (he has every right) are different from those we believe in (also with every right).
That is the second hypothesis: divergent conceptions about human society. These were very evident in every moment of President Obama and his delegation’s visit to Cuba, in all that was said, and in what was left unsaid.
It was very clear that the main direction of the US relationship with Cuba will be in the economic field and within this field the main strategy will be to relate to the non-state sector and support it.
It was very clear in the speech and symbolic messages, that they would distance themselves from the Cuban socialist state economy, as if “state property” meant property owned by an alien entity, not the property of all the people as it really is.
On the need for the existence of a non-state sector in the Cuban economy, we have no differences. In fact, the expansion of the space of the self-employed and the cooperatives is part of the implementation of the Guidelines of the 6th Party Congress. The divergence lies in the role that such non-state sector should have in our economy:
Taking the path of civilized coexistence “with our differences” means that all the Cuban people must know very well where these differences are to prevent –seemingly rational– ad hoc decisions for tactical economic problems lead to strategic errors; and worse, that others push us to these through the things that are said and left unsaid.
We knew how to avoid those mistakes in the beginning of the Special Period, after the disappearance of the European socialist bloc and the rise of the neoliberal ideological tide of the 90s. We will know how to do it now, even better.
Civilized coexistence certainly leads us away from the dangers and barbarities of war (military and economic), but does not spare us from the battle in the realm of ideas.
We need to win the battle of ideas to win the economic battle.
The economic battle of the Cuban 21st Century will occur in three main areas:
The battle of ideas means to consolidate thinking and consensus on where we want to go, and on the concrete ways to get there.
The waters of the Straits of Florida should not be a field of war, and it is very good for everyone that they are not so; but those waters will continue separating for a long time two different conceptions of human coexistence, of the organization of people for social life and work, as well as the distribution of its fruits. And it is also very good that this is so.
Our ideal of human society is rooted in our historical experience and the collective soul of Cubans, masterfully synthesized by the thought of José Martí. He studied and understood US society better than anyone else in his time and said: “Our life does not resemble theirs, nor should it resemble it in many ways.”
The basic belief of capitalism, even of those who so honestly believe in it, is the construction of material prosperity based on private property and competition. Ours is based on the creativity driven by the ideals of social equity and solidarity among people, including future generations. Our concept of society is the future, and although the future is delayed, stuck in the objectives of the present constraints, it remains being what we must fight for.
Private property and competition are the past; and although that past continues, of necessity, existing within the present, it remains being the past.
We must always see the concepts behind the spoken words, and the arguments behind the words unuttered.
The battle for our ideal of human coexistence will be in the hands of the present generation of young Cubans. In their times, they will face challenges different than those of the revolutionary generations of the twentieth century. But their challenges will be equally large and momentous, and also more complex.
In analyzing the complexity of their challenges I confess I would wish to join the Union of Young Communists again. Its card (Nº7784, 1963) I have on my desk right now. I’m still a communist, but I have to accept the fact that I can no longer be considered “young”. But I can share with young people the analysis of what is being said today, and the unveiling of what is not said. And I can build with them the intellectual tools we need for the battles to come.
José Martí wrote in April 1895: “Of thought is the greatest war that is being made against us: Let us win it by thought“
Viva Cuba Libre”, en en una calle de La Habana, este 22 de marzo de 2016. Foto: Desmond Boylan/ AP
Tuve la oportunidad de participar en varios encuentros con la delegación que acompañó al Presidente Obama y escucharlo en tres intervenciones; y siento ahora el deber de compartir con mis compañeros lo que interpreté de lo que se dijo, y también de lo que no se dijo, pues en política lo que se deja de decir suele ser tan importante como lo que se dice.
Hay dos direcciones complementarias de pensamiento para interpretar esta visita y todo el proceso de intento de normalización de las relaciones: interpretar lo que significa para una valoración del pasado, e interpretar lo que significa para una proyección hacia el futuro.
De cara al pasado es evidente que el proceso de normalización recién iniciado en las relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos hay que interpretarlo como una victoria mayúscula del pueblo revolucionario y socialista cubano, de sus convicciones, de su capacidad de resistencia y sacrificio, de su cultura, de su compromiso ético con la justicia social; así como también como una victoria de la solidaridad con Cuba de América Latina.
Hay cosas que nos resultan tan evidentes a los cubanos que a veces olvidamos subrayarlas.
No creo que haya nadie medianamente lúcido e informado en el mundo que pueda interpretar este proceso de normalización en curso como otra cosa que no sea una victoria de Cuba en su diferendo histórico con los Estados Unidos.
De cara al pasado es esa la única interpretación posible.
Ahora bien, de cara al futuro las cosas son más complejas, y hay al menos dos interpretaciones extremas posibles, y sus variantes intermedias:
En las calles de Cuba se discute hoy sobre ambas. Alerto al lector en este punto que no voy a argumentar por ahora a favor o en contra de una de estas dos hipótesis, o de las combinaciones diversas de ambas. Los acontecimientos futuros se encargarán de hacerlo, y cada cual sacará “sus propias conclusiones” en este “pasaje a lo desconocido”.
Quienes se adhieren a la hipótesis de la conspiración perversa ven las palabras del Presidente Obama como una falsa promesa o un sutil engaño que responde a un plan concebido para que abramos las puertas al capital norteamericano y a la influencia de sus medios de comunicación; para que permitamos la expansión en Cuba de un sector económicamente privilegiado, que con el tiempo se iría transformando en la base social de la restauración capitalista y el renunciamiento a la soberanía nacional. Serían los primeros pasos del camino de retorno hacia la Cuba de ricos y pobres, dictadores y mafiosos, que teníamos en los años 50.
Los cubanos que piensan así, tienen derecho a hacerlo: hay muchos hechos en la historia común que justifican esa enorme desconfianza. Son conocidos y no necesito enumerarlos aquí.
Mucha gente recuerda la famosa frase atribuida al Presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt cuando dijo del dictador nicaragüense Anastasio Somoza: “Tal vez Somoza sea un hijo de puta, pero es nuestro hijo de puta”.
Ciertamente ni el Presidente Obama, ni las actuales generaciones de norteamericanos de buena voluntad (que hay muchos) tienen la culpa, como personas individuales, de las primeras etapas de esa trayectoria histórica. Pero también es innegable que esa historia está ahí, y que impone condicionamientos a lo que ellos pueden hacer, y a nuestra manera de interpretar lo que ellos hacen. Los procesos históricos son mucho más largos que una vida humana, y eventos ocurridos hace muchas décadas influyen en nuestras opciones de hoy, porque condicionan actitudes colectivas que tienen una existencia objetiva, relativamente independiente de las ideas y las intenciones de los líderes.
Aún distanciando al Presidente Obama de las políticas agresivas e inmorales de administraciones precedentes, que organizaron invasiones, cobijaron terroristas, estimularon asesinatos de líderes cubanos e implementaron el intento de rendir por hambre al Pueblo Cubano; aún estableciendo esa distinción, no se puede olvidar que Obama solo no es la clase política de los Estados Unidos. Hay muchos otros componentes del poder ahí, que siempre han estado presentes, lo están hoy, y lo estarán cuando termine el mandato de Obama dentro de algunos meses, y en el futuro previsible. Los estamos viendo en la campaña electoral en curso.
Para ser honesto con todo el que lea esta nota, debo reconocer que el Presidente Obama no dio aquí la impresión de ser el articulador de una conspiración perversa, sino la de ser un hombre inteligente y culto, que cree en lo que dice. Lo que sucede entonces es que las cosas en las que él cree (con todo su derecho) son diferentes a las que creemos nosotros (también con todo nuestro derecho).
Esa es la segunda hipótesis, la de las concepciones divergentes sobre la sociedad humana, las cuales fueron muy evidentes en todos los momentos de la visita a Cuba del Presidente Obama y su delegación, en todo lo que se dijo, y también en lo que se dejó de decir.
Fue muy claro que la dirección principal de la relación de los Estados Unidos con Cuba estará en el campo de la economía, y dentro de este, la estrategia principal será relacionarse con el sector no estatal y apoyarlo.
Fue muy claro, en el discurso y en los mensajes simbólicos, en tomar distancia de la economía estatal socialista cubana, como si la propiedad “estatal” significase propiedad de un ente extraño, y no propiedad de todo el pueblo como realmente es.
En la necesidad de que exista un sector no estatal en la economía cubana no tenemos divergencias. De hecho la expansión del espacio de los cuentapropistas y las cooperativas es parte de la implementación de los Lineamientos surgidos del 6º Congreso del Partido. Donde está la divergencia es en el rol que debe tener ese sector no estatal en nuestra economía:
Emprender el camino de la convivencia civilizada “con nuestras diferencias”, implica conocer bien a fondo y por todo el Pueblo Cubano, dónde es que están esas diferencias, para poder evitar que decisiones puntuales aparentemente racionales ante problemas económicos tácticos, nos puedan llevar a errores estratégicos; y peor aún, que otros nos empujen a ello, a través de las cosas que se dicen y las que no se dicen.
Supimos evitar esos errores en los inicios del periodo especial, ante la desaparición del campo socialista europeo y la marea ideológica neoliberal de los 90. Sabremos hacerlo mejor ahora.
La convivencia civilizada ciertamente nos aleja del riesgo y la barbarie de la guerra (militar y económica), pero no nos exonera de dar la batalla en el plano de las ideas.
Necesitamos vencer en esa batalla de ideas para poder vencer en la batalla económica.
La batalla económica del Siglo XXI cubano se dará en tres campos principales:
En esos campos se decidirá el Siglo XXI de los cubanos.
La batalla de ideas consiste en consolidar pensamiento y consenso sobre hacia donde queremos ir, y sobre los caminos concretos para llegar.
Las aguas del estrecho de La Florida no deben ser un campo de conflicto bélico, y es muy bueno para todos que así sea, pero esas aguas seguirán separando por mucho tiempo dos concepciones diferentes de la convivencia humana, de la organización de los hombres para la vida social y el trabajo, y de la distribución de sus frutos. Y también es muy bueno que así sea. Nuestro ideal de sociedad humana está enraizado en nuestra experiencia histórica y en el alma colectiva de los cubanos, sintetizada magistralmente por el pensamiento de José Martí. Él estudió y entendió mejor que nadie en su tiempo la sociedad norteamericana y dijo: “nuestra vida no se asemeja a la suya, ni debe en muchos puntos asemejarse”.
La creencia básica del capitalismo, incluso en los que así lo creen honestamente, es la construcción de prosperidad material basada en la propiedad privada y la competencia. La nuestra se basa en la creatividad movida por los ideales de equidad social y solidaridad entre las personas, incluidas las generaciones futuras. Nuestro concepto de sociedad es el futuro, y aunque el futuro se demore, atrapado en los condicionamientos objetivos del presente, sigue siendo el futuro por el que hay que luchar.
La propiedad privada y la competencia son el pasado, y aunque ese pasado siga existiendo necesariamente dentro del presente, pasado sigue siendo.
Hay que saber siempre ver los conceptos que están detrás de las palabras que se dicen, y las razones que están detrás de las palabras que no se dicen.
La batalla por nuestro ideal de convivencia humana estará en las manos de las actuales generaciones de jóvenes cubanos, que enfrentarán en su tiempo desafíos diferentes a los de las generaciones revolucionarias del Siglo XX, pero igualmente grandes y trascendentales, y también más complejos.
Al analizar la complejidad de sus desafíos les confieso que quisiera ingresar otra vez en la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas, cuyo carnet (Nº7784, de 1963) tengo ahora mismo sobre mi mesa. Sigo siendo comunista, pero he de aceptar que ya no puedo seguir siendo “joven”. Pero si puedo compartir con los jóvenes el análisis de lo que hoy se dice, y la develación de lo que no se dice, y construir junto con ellos las herramientas intelectuales que necesitamos para las batallas que vienen.
José Martí escribió en abril de 1895: “De pensamiento es la guerra mayor que se nos hace: Ganémosla a pensamiento”.