By Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
June 9, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In the past century, obstetricians and gynecologists from various countries have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure in its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
Although there are few studies available on the subject, it has been scientifically proven that orgasms can occur during labor. This phenomenon has been called a myth for centuries because in Western culture childbirth is associated with heroic pain and orgasm with pleasure of external origin (even if it is self-provoked), therefore, it is not acceptable that both concur in the same act without degrading stigmas.
In the biological field, things are not binary, as most conservative tendencies claim. In fact, since both processes are mediated by hormones and focus on the genital area (between the first and second chakra), there is reason to assume that the nervous system interprets painful signals according to very personal patterns, associated with the level of tolerance for physical pain, expectations with that pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding childbirth.
In the past century, gynecologists from various nations have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure at its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
In the 1970s, the Frenchman Michel Odent promoted actions to make birth a moment of joy, not of sacrifice or shame. Original cultures see it that way, and today new voices are raised in favor of the body acting according to its ancestral knowledge.
Adrenaline, oxytocin, dopamine… A whole cocktail of hormones is unleashed during labor, each at its own pace. And if the mind accepts the right to experience the act of giving life as pleasure, the sensations can be strong, but fluid, without panic,. That “permission” helps to interpret them without guilt, in some cases with similar enjoyment of what for that woman is the reference of an orgasm, as occurs in a sudden consensual sexual act.
Dr. Odent was also one of the driving forces behind breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour of life because of its health benefits for both of us.
Although formalized reports are rare, some mothers describe something like an orgasm when they breastfeed. Such is the case of a 32-year-old Matanzas reader, who suggested including it in the list of involuntary pleasures because on a physical level it is enjoyable, but she thinks “that morally it is not right”.
She says her breasts have always been very sensitive and her partner manages to bring her to a climax just by stimulating them.
Once again, it is cultural assumptions that prevent that woman from enjoying her own body in a natural, unintended sense with morbidity.
Broadly speaking, Dr. Elvia de Dios, a trained psychiatrist and therapist at CENESEX (National Center for Sex Education), explains that the baby’s suction triggers the production of oxytocin, and that hormone activates the functioning of essential glands. These incluse the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which in turn facilitate intense nerve discharges that stimulate the contractions of the uterus and help it return to its normal size and muscle tone.
The reader who consults is a privileged woman in the quality of her nervous reflexes, says the expert. It should not inhibit a reaction that is not associated with any sexual thought or call into question your motherhood.
For questions about orgasm and other issues of your sexuality or sexual identity, you can contact Dr. Elvia de Dios at the Cenesex telephone counseling service, which she provides Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 7638-8405.
By Roberto Díaz Martorell
April 14, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
NUEVO GERONA, Isle of Youth. – The COVID-19 not only changed the perception of the reality of the people who live in the world, but also transformed the work routines for many, such as the young Indira Guevara, auditor of the Municipal Comptroller’s Office, who today collaborates with the National Revolutionary Police to control the distance in the queues where food is sold.
There are 33 young militants of the Young Communist Union (UJC) who were trained by the Ministry of the Interior (Minint) to take on the voluntary responsibility of supporting control measures in commercial establishments where food, toilets and other products are sold.
“We were called together by those of us who do not have children or elderly people at home and we were assigned this task in the People’s Councils where we live, so that we do not move from one neighborhood to another and avoid the movement of people that could facilitate the spread of the virus.
“I was assigned to Abel Santamaría, a community that today reports six positive cases to COVID-19 and therefore extreme measures of quarantine and reinforced isolation are adopted, so I consider my work more important.
“They told us how we should proceed with the population to help avoid crowding in the queues, both in the stores in CUC and in the markets and points of sale of other food or supplies. Without hesitation, I accepted. This will allow the police to devote most of their personnel to areas with limited movement.
“We all agreed because the situation we are experiencing today is very complex and it is the duty of the young people to assume responsibility, as revolutionaries and Cuban citizens.
“It is true that sometimes we are afraid because it is something new and it is not a game: that pandemic has taken many lives in the world. Already here, on the Isle of Youth, one person has died, and many still do not understand the magnitude of the risks they take on the streets.
“At first it was funny, but it is true that the police vest they gave us gives us some authority, because when they see us so young people may think that we are not prepared and they may continue to be disobedient.
“So far I haven’t had any unpleasant encounters. We address people with respect and education so that they keep their distance from each other, so that they do not despair. We ask them please and that opens the dialogue to a better understanding.
“However, no matter how hard we try, they distance themselves and the next minute they are together again. People should be more aware of how dangerous this pandemic is and once and for all assume with responsibility and discipline the measures, which are all for the good of all,” reflected Indira Guevara.
This booster troop works on a voluntary basis from the time shops open until they close. Everyone is guaranteed water, a snack, lunch, and they rotate on occasions to rest. There is always a Minint officer with them, to advise and solve any situation that may arise.
According to Yander Zayas, first secretary of the Municipal Committee of the UJC in Isla de la Juventud, the group chosen comes from sectors such as Energy and Mines, Computers and Communications, Education, Sports or are students of the territory. This youth participation in the tasks of prevention against COVID-19 is part of the country’s strategy to guarantee the continuity of services to the population and ensure the future and health of all.
By Joel del Río
August 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
I would like to explain that the title of this work has nothing to do with Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous fresco, nor is it related to any gloomy prediction for the Italian city also called La Serenissima. I am referring rather to a transcendent Cuban film, which has fortunately been restored, and will be exhibited with honors at the next Venice International Film Festival.
This year’s event, because of the physical distance, a very limited public of critics and a few foreign guests will attend. Meanwhile, this and other competitions, such as the one in Toronto, value the exhibition of the films through websites with streaming services, to be downloaded only by the people authorized to view them.
The digital restoration of The Last Supper, made by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea in 1976, will be screened as part of the Classics section in the 77th edition of the Venetian event, which will take place between September 2 and 12. The copy will have its world premiere at the Il Cinema Ritrovato (The Rediscovered Cinema) Festival in Bologna, which will take place from August 25th to 31st, and will also be added to the list of restored classics offered by Venice, under a collaboration agreement.
In the 34th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato, not only the aforementioned work by Titón will be shown, but also two of his other films. All three have been restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Los Angeles, USA, in collaboration with the Cuban Cinematheque: the short documentary El arte del tabaco (1974) and the feature film La muerte de un burócrata (1966), which was at the Mostra last year.
It is never pointless to reflect again on the merits of Cuban art, even when it is taken as a pretext at this moment in which two classic films attract the attention of the most prestigious film events and institutions in the world. It should be noted that both productions were prophets in their own land, and placed, in their own time, in the deserved places, thanks to the attention of the public and the critics.
The death of a bureaucrat was constructed as a buzzing mockery of the unbearable “traversed” in the normal development of society. It attacks the plague of schematic and inflexible officials that build the despair of the central character, and highlights the tragic chaos around a simple and essential procedure.
Considered one of the most eloquent cinematographic satires on the administrative inadequacies of any society, the film inaugurates critical realism with absurd and unreal touches that allowed the national cinematography to elude the narrow representational frameworks, sometimes imitative, of Italian neo-realism.
For its part, The Last Supper was first seen on November 3, 1977 in the Yara, Acapulco, Metropolitan, Monaco, Florida and City Hall theaters (how wonderful to have so many theaters on the premiere circuit). Among its many international awards are the Golden Hugo of the International Film Festival of Chicago, the Grand Prix at the Biarritz Ibero-American Film Festival, the Golden Columbus in Huelva, the distinction as outstanding film at the London Festival, best foreign film exhibited in Venezuela, Grand Prize at the Figueira Festival in Foz, Portugal; and winner of the Popular Jury in the II Muestra Internacional de Cine Sao Pablo.
Ten years after making the brilliant contemporary satire on the problems of bureaucracy in Cuba, Gutiérrez Alea made a foray into historical production with his first color film, La última cena (The Last Supper), inspired by an anecdote about a real event that appears in the book El ingenio (The Sugar Mill) by Manuel Moreno Fraginals.
He wrote an extensive and medullar study of the plantation economy in the era of slavery in Cuba. While the action took place at the end of the 18th century in a sugar mill, the advice given by the historian to the filmmaker was very important. He also had the help of the knowledge of specialists such as Rogelio Martínez Furé and Nitza Villapol, because it also told the story of a rich count, very religious, who gathers 12 slaves and invites them to dinner, in the way of a similar invitation narrated in the Bible.
During dinner, which takes up most of the footage, the count talks to his servants and tries to explain to them the principles of humility and resignation that guide the Catholic religion. The slaves, convinced of their goodwill, decide not to work the next day and thus a repression is unleashed with tragic consequences.
It is a temporary analysis of power and dependence, because, as the director stated to Gerardo Chijona in the interview published in the magazine Cine Cubano number 93: “…a historical film, for me, is not to reconstruct in a spectacular way the fact itself. I’m not interested in archaeological work, but rather in taking advantage of history at some point because of the repercussions that this can have on the present.
Editor Nelson Rodríguez told the Cubasí website: “The filming of the dinner sequence was a real challenge in terms of staging, it lasted about four weeks and was shot continuously, that is, in order, almost in real-time. It was really a challenge, because the continuity demanded special care in all the elements, from the care with the candles, the food, the wines and of course the work of the actors. The edition was a real feast, because there was not the slightest error in the setting or in the continuity”.
In this respect, it is worth adding that in the famous long sequence the director films the table from the front, with the count in the middle, and resorts to a backward movement, and then a forward movement in the camera, as if to emphasize the theatrical air of the representation and the pictorial reference in Da Vinci’s painting.
It is unlikely that the director attempted a diatribe against Catholic ideology. Rather, I believe that he intended to question, indirectly, all the usual manipulations of the powerful, with respect to a certain idealistic and egalitarian rhetoric. His goal was to confirm in the background the predominance of the ruling class over a group that he considers inferior and anonymous.
So when the count refers to the acceptance of sacrifice and suffering, he never thinks of adopting that philosophy himself, but of having it endorsed by the slaves, forced to assent to their subordinate condition. This and other reflections come from one of the most brilliant and intelligent films ever made in Cuba. Now it can be enjoyed again in a good copy.
Since I am not invaded by the diagonal chauvinism of reporting on an event as enormous as the Venice International Film Festival only from the perspective of Cuban participation, we would at least like to point out that in the official section, where the premieres of the great filmmakers compete, among others, the Japanese master of horror Kiyoshi Kurosawa (The Spy’s Woman), the new revelation of Polish auteur cinema, Malgorzata Szumowska (It Will Never Snow Again), the world’s most acclaimed Israeli filmmaker, Amos Gitai (Laila in Haifa), the several times acclaimed Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky (Dear Friends), and the Iranian master of neo-realistic melodrama starring children, Majid Majidi (Children of the Sun).
In short, Cuban cinema continues to occupy prestigious spheres, because beyond the honors given to two essential classics. Itt was also announced a few days ago that the independent production Agosto, directed by debutant Armando Capó, will represent us in the 24th edition of the Lima Film Festival, which this year will also have an online version, due to the coronavirus, from the 21st to the 30th of this month.
In the same event, the documentary A media voz, co-directed by Heidi Hassán and Patricia Pérez, will be shown via internet throughout Peru, and will finally be released in Spain as part of the official selection of the Malaga Festival, on August 23rd in the Echegaray Theater.
Both Agosto and A Media Voz have gone through a long list of important international contests, and both were awarded with top choirs in their respective categories (debut opera and documentary) at the most recent Festival de La Habana. Cuban cinema does not live by past glories alone.
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before themselves and society is focused on such purposes as: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength to fight and do, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
Author: Dilbert Reyes Rodríguez | firstname.lastname@example.org
August 22, 2020 01:08:10
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Not even the largest catalogue of possible courtesies is enough to erase the trace of a single deliberate act of gender-based violence against a woman.
Calling such acts abhorrent does not accept a single minute of debate. It is more important to make better use of all the opportunities – highly potential – that we, as an organized country, and with a declared political and governmental will, have to proactively and speedily confront the scourge.
It is well known that there are cultural roots that complicate and prolong this war’, that there are different, concrete and subjective obstacles, and it is also well known that there are hunters of the naïve who are betting on taking advantage of these slopes in order to push Cubans against each other under the skin of sheep and in order to divide us.
President Díaz-Canel himself has repeated it: “In matters of law and society, they have not given up on the search for points of rupture in national unity, magnifying the possible dissent on sensitive issues such as egalitarian marriage, racism, violence against women, or the mistreatment of animals, to mention a few, in all of which we are working seriously to resolve centuries of debt that only the Revolution in power has faced with unquestionable progress.
There will be no lack of those who, once again, contract with the hackneyed accusation of “politicizing everything”, in order to distract the arguments that explain, clearly and from within, that the country is not sitting idly by on an issue as sensitive as violence against women. But since there are words that have their backing in deeds, Granma tackles the issue with Dr. Mayda Alvarez Suarez, director of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM).
-How have actions been taken in recent years to reduce violence against women?
-There have been many debates over these years, with the aim of making the existence of violence against women in our country visible and understanding its causes, combating stereotypes and placing the issue in the development of essential policies. Important experiences of orientation, prevention, telephone help lines and protection programs have also been carried out in different territories; but we are far from feeling satisfied because we cannot forget that the phenomenon has deep roots in the patriarchy, in societies characterized for centuries by the existence of unequal, unequal and power-based relationships. It is still there, manifested in thought and relationships in couples, families, workplaces, public places, where it is not always perceived as such, nor confronted and attended to as it should and is necessary.
“Male chauvinist concepts, prejudices, sexist stereotypes persist and are reproduced in our society, anywhere and at any level, and although there have been changes in assessments and ideas about violence, which were found by the National Survey on Gender Equality – conducted in 2016 by CEM, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the Centre for Population and Development Studies of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) – we were also able to reveal which ones remain, continue to hinder further progress and are at the root of existing inequalities.
“At present, the vast majority of Cubans do not justify violence against women or men, nor do they blame women for acts of violence (mistreatment or rape) and reject the idea that women should bear it.
“However, in a part of the population there are still criteria that contribute to sustaining and perpetuating violence against women. The most entrenched are: alcohol consumption is the cause, the woman who endures the abuse is because she likes it, most women withdraw the complaint, and consider the violence a private matter. These criteria become justifications for not intervening or denouncing the acts of violence”.
-Are there results that allow us to characterize an effective advance in the reduction of violence against women?
-The First Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba, held in 2012, before the National Survey was carried out, had already declared that there was a confrontation with prejudices and discrimination of all kinds that still persist in the heart of society. In particular, in its objective No. 55, it explicitly states that it will “raise the level of rejection of gender and domestic violence and that which is manifested in the communities.
“Among the main achievements of the current phase, the new Constitution of the Republic stands out, which expands and strengthens the protection of rights, particularly those of women and girls.
“The recognition of the right to a life free of violence (Articles 43, 85 and 86), the commitment to address it, ratifies the importance of prevention and enhances the mandatory responsibility of the State in the implementation of legal standards, public policies and the improvement of protection mechanisms for victims. At present, a process is under way to harmonize the new articles of the Constitution with various legislations that will allow its effective implementation, for example, the modification and updating of the Family Code, which will be brought to a process of popular consultation and referendum. The Criminal Code is also being analysed and amendments are being suggested.
“The Standing Committee on Children’s and Youth Affairs and Women’s Rights of the National Assembly of People’s Power is an important ally in promoting compliance with the Cuban State’s agenda for the advancement of Cuban women and in monitoring its implementation.
“In order to assess the progress made in reducing violence against women, better records are needed of the acts of violence that are detected and dealt with, and of their follow-up and solution. Ongoing statistics are needed to make it possible to compare, over time, the increase or decrease in cases, the prevalence and incidence of violence in a given population, and its frequency and severity, among other indicators.
“There is also a need to carry out periodic surveys on violence against women, which would allow for its systematic evaluation in selected periods and data of international comparability”.
-How much more do you think can be done, under the current conditions, to accelerate the change of such behaviours in the country?
-Above all, it is urgent to perfect ways, procedures, mechanisms, protocols of action in the institutions involved and everything necessary to attend, immediately, with respect and without prejudice, to the victims of violence, and to apply the law rigorously to those who commit these acts.
“Improving the presence of the subject in the laws in force, which are currently in the process of being modified, is also very important. However, my personal opinion is that we would benefit from a specific and comprehensive law on violence against women, which contemplates all the measures and sanctions that already appear in existing laws, and others that need to be enacted.
“Regarding macho conceptions and stereotypes, everything that is done to generate transformations in subjectivity is key: creative communication products, adequately focused from a gender perspective, training courses, community and face-to-face debates, the use of social networks
“Essential is the training in gender and violence to decision makers and lawyers because of the importance of their role in this issue, the insertion in curricula, in the training of educators, communication specialists, among other actors.
“Exchanging experiences with other countries, both to research and to confront and address in practice these facts, adapting them to our context, is also very useful, since violence against women is a global problem.
“On the other hand, the FMC has valued the need to increase the confrontation to the facts of violence in the communities, from our base structures and, for that, to raise the level of training of our leaders and collaborators of the Women and Family Orientation Houses. From the fmc, we have always affirmed that the most important thing is not that there are many or few of them, but that whenever there is a woman who is violated, she is well cared for and her rights are defended.
-What strengths exist to confront this?
-We have the political will of our Party and Government. The confrontation with violence is endorsed in the programmatic documents of the Party and in the Constitution. Instruments such as the Family Code, which was approved in 1975 and is in the process of being modified as I mentioned earlier. There’s also the National Plan of Action to follow up on the agreements of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1997, contain principles and actions to guarantee gender equality and non-violence.
“The educational and employment opportunities enjoyed by women, as well as access to free and universal health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, have placed Cuban women in a better position to achieve autonomy and independence, which weakens the chances of experiencing situations of dependence and having to endure, for that reason, situations of violence.
“The safety and protection of sons and daughters is also guaranteed. The State provides free education for the offspring, their food and systematic medical care, with no gender differences. Thus, for example, girls show as high percentages of education as boys. There are also institutional support mechanisms for low-income families, especially for single mothers.
“The leadership that the FMC has today to exalt women before itself and before society is focused on such purposes: the conquest of women’s autonomy in all areas, the deconstruction of prejudices and stereotypes, against all forms of discrimination and oppression that restrict their development, their freedom and wound their dignity as human beings. This is a strength for fighting and doing, in an organized and committed way, for non-violence against women”.
Putting indiscipline at bay is not only necessary, but imperative. Let us integrate that team called consciousness, which demands shame and good judgement.
By Madeleine Sautié | email@example.com
August 3, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
There was a day when Havana, still in the early stages of the pandemic’s de-escalation, awoke to the happy news that no new positive cases were being reported. Spirits, then, shot up, since the expected zero marked the result of a country’s enormous effort, say, among many workers, that of its doctors, in the first place.
Today, the faces are not the same, and concern is growing at the same time as the numbers and the courage to give so much. Unforgivable are the failures which, due to irresponsibility and disbelief, have modified the results we’ve achieved. Example: insolent disregard for a health system and the management of the Cuban state, applauded for the efficiency of its task, even by those who insist on seeing the erasures in an increasingly admirable health scenario.
Then comes the “must do”, the “have to take action”, as if banishing disobedience was only the business of a few. It is no secret that the legal provisions and police authorities have – as they have done from day one – a great weight in the fulfillment of the guidelines.
However, it is unthinkable that the solution lies only in the application of fines or in ensuring that the law enforcement officers are where every [act of] indiscipline is. It is enough to look out on the balcony, or to walk through our streets, to see, in a perfectly peaceful environment, where the police do not have to be, two or three people talking, one almost on top of the other, without nasobucos! -Will there really be a policeman for each of these cases?
There are two sides to this. On the first side, there are those who protect themselves and their family, compañeros and neighbors through good hygiene practices and distance, those who contribute to the dissipation of the virus; those who reverence with discipline the vigilance of the health personnel and value the happiness of living in Cuba, when the world suffers daily from overwhelming scenes.
The others, the ones who barely inform themselves, the irreverent ones who are aware of their own danger and that of the others; the ones who allow themselves to be spoken to from upstairs, and without nasobucos; the ones who know how to be attended to if the virus knocks on their door; the ones who are more bored than anyone else, who need to attend the party that another sorry person prepares.
Putting indiscipline at bay is not only necessary, but imperative. Let’s join that team called conscience, which calls for [both] shame and sanity.
By Orestes Pérez Pérez
August 12, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
On four occasions, Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz was in Argentina. His last trip abroad was precisely to that country, on the occasion of a Summit of Mercosur Presidents, held in the city of Córdoba, in July 2006.
Wearing his inseparable olive green uniform and almost without warning, Fidel arrived at the Ingeniero “Ambrosio Taravella” International Airport in Córdoba at around 8:30 pm on Thursday, July 20, 2006, where he was received by then President Néstor Kirchner.
Some witnesses tell of that historic visit, that until the last moment there was no news of the Cuban president’s arrival, which took place amidst the strictest security measures.
“This must be the only meeting in which I was not made a plan of attack. I had to disinform even my friends. I don’t think anyone knew if I was coming, not even me”, he commented in a speech delivered at the so-called “Summit of the Peoples”, on a cold night, typical of these southern winter months, at the University of Cordoba, the same one that was the scene of the remarkable University Reform of 1918, more than 100 years ago.
“You made a reform that made history, which was the most important, I am about to say the only one. But time has passed, and the world study system must be reformed,” said the Historical Leader of the Cuban Revolution, who was accompanied that night by Hugo Chávez and Hebe de Bonafini, head of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, the group that organized the event.
Thousands of people from Cordoba and other provinces of the country listened attentively to Fidel, who spoke with them for three hours about the most varied issues, including the urgent need for Latin American and Caribbean integration, social programs in Cuba, public education and the literacy campaign of the first years of the Revolution, among others.
Chavez, for his part, had promised to be brief. “I told Fidel, I’m just going to be his host,” he said to the crowd that applauded him and repeated his last name over and over again. Nevertheless, he reflected for several hours on the “Cordobazo”, the challenges of Mercosur and American imperialism. “Only the people make history,” he said that night in Cordoba.
The Commander-in-Chief had been in Argentina on three previous occasions: in 1959, invited by then-President Arturo Frondizi, at the Ibero-American Summit (1995) and in 2003, when he attended Kirchner’s inauguration, when he delivered his memorable speech on the steps of the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), before around 30 thousand people.
In this last trip Fidel visited -together with Chávez- the house where Che lived in Alta Gracia, where they shared anecdotes of the Heroic Guerrilla’s childhood and got to know closely the spaces he lived in during his childhood.
The peaceful mountain village, which enjoyed a sunny and somewhat hot day, unusual for the season, saw its usual mid-afternoon rest interrupted by the unexpected visit.
Since very early in the morning, that July 22nd, the people from Alta Gracia took over the streets of this mountain village, with 45 thousand inhabitants, 35 kilometers away from the capital of Córdoba, to take pictures, hug or -simply- shake hands with these two world leaders.
A sea of people, all surprised and incredulous, shouted and applauded the presence of Fidel and Chávez. For them, it was the most transcendental event in the history of that small town. For Fidel, perhaps without knowing it, his last trip abroad.
By Marina Menéndez Quintero
August 10, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The biggest and most brazen robbery that the Venezuelan public treasury has ever suffered is taking place right now. And it has been the right-wing, disobedient and therefore non-functioning sector of the National Assembly that has lent itself out to play the role of the fig leaf and that part of the national money illegally confiscated by the United States is being handled by two foreign private companies.
Certainly, it has not been established -at least not publicly- if during the governments of the demolished Fourth Republic, there was ever such a large amount of embezzlement. Some people might be asking that…
But what makes the current move unprecedented is not only that it deprives citizens of the enjoyment of resources that belong to them. What is most reprehensible is that the action is at the service of interference and aggression by a foreign power.
Specifically, it is about $80 million that the Venezuelan State had deposited in Citibank, in the name of the Central Bank of Venezuela. Now it will be managed by the private American firms BRV Disbursement Co. LLC and BRV Administrator Co. LLC, which will get one million dollars for the work, according to the contract endorsed by that right-wing of the Venezuelan Parliament that continues to support the puppet Juan Guaidó.
However, it’s not the only money stolen. That item is part of the more than $340 million from Caracas that has been transferred just like that to an account at the New York Federal Reserve, on orders from the White House.
But what many are already calling the “policy of dispossession” of Venezuela’s public patrimony, applied by Washington against Caracas in the financial sphere as part of its strategy of harassment and multidimensional aggression, is even broader.
According to a detailed article published by the alternative website The Grayzone, Donald Trump’s policy against Venezuela has led to the confiscation from that country of up to 24 billion dollars in public assets located in the North, or in European Union countries allied with Washington.
The first major scandal was the virtual kidnapping of CITGO, a PDVSA subsidiary based in the US and considered the most important Venezuelan asset abroad.
As in the rest of the actions of this Ttype, the smokescreen has been the figure of Guaidó, and the excuse that resources are put in the hands of his non-existent “transition government”. The false argument that is gaining strength seeks to present Bolivarian Venezuela as a refuge from narco-terrorism, and its leaders as common criminals who must be punished and even imprisoned?
Under the same assumption, Venezuela has also just been stripped of the gold bars from the reserve that it had, supposedly in safekeeping, in the vaults of the Bank of England, the value of which could be as high as USD 3 billion that Maduro asked for in order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Then Boris Johnson’s British executive recognized Guaidó as interim president… and there the gold has remained.
Meanwhile, other trials are continuing in Europe to take away Venezuela’s assets, which could total some $8 billion, according to unofficial sources.
The most dangerous thing is that the decision taken a dozen days ago by the British Prime Minister could set a legal’ precedent for other Venezuelan funds blocked abroad, especially in European countries that have joined the Trump campaign.
The total balance, until today, of the economic and financial war of the United States against Venezuela, also contemplates other punitive measures and therefore, is even greater.
Since the beginning of the sanctions in 2017 after Barack Obama decreed two years ago that the country was a “threat” to its national security, the economic losses suffered by the Bolivarian nation are estimated at 130 billion dollars.
And there are already rumors that show the tricks Washington can play with so much ill-gotten money.
It has been revealed that a tiny portion of the $80 million seized from Citibank -although still juicy since it amounts to $600 million in assets- would have been diverted by Trump to build part of the promised wall on the border with Mexico.
Everything indicates that Guaidó, the supposed interim president that few within Venezuela applaud, has not said much about “the participation” of the White House in the enjoyment of the embezzlement? although he will surely have access to the stolen goods.
Nevertheless, his so-called “ambassador” to the U.S., Carlos Veccio, has admitted that he worked with the Justice Department to establish an agreement defining the percentage that will go to Washington, The Grayzone says.
Ignoring even that the current Parliament without functions elected another opponent as its head – Luis Parra, voted by the majority present in the session last January – that right-wing sector of the National Assembly “approved” a week ago that those $80 million be part of what they have fallaciously named the National Liberation Fund: money that, if used for the purposes that Guaidó defends, will be gasoline to subvert and execute new acts of terror.
Otherwise, they will be a good starting point for the continued corruption of that opposition wing linked to the antagonistic parties of yesteryear.
In this regard, analysts have stressed that this money is not controlled by any entity and, moreover, its management by means of those two U.S. companies privatizes embezzlement and outsources it, supposedly taking Trump’s hands off the plate, although not others.
This modus operandi adds to the economic choking measures of the United States and sets the tone for what the Mission Truth website considers a “para-state”.
It is clear that Guaidó’s scarce popular support for the interior of Venezuela, and his lack of international prestige, even though he claims to have been recognized by 50 countries, cuts the wings off the Machiavellian project in the political order? Even though it continues to cut short the lives of Venezuelans with the vulgar theft that is executed through this, never before seen, financial plunder.
August 10, 2020
By Juana Carrasco Martín
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It could be the agricultural implement factories, but that is not the case. They should increase protective measures for workers in the meatpacking industries, for employees in supermarkets, or for agricultural workers, but that is not their intention either.
There isn’t even an equal standard for health-care workers, and Blacks and Latinos are infected with the new coronavirus three times more than their white counterparts, according to a New York Times analysis of the records of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study also found that minority workers were 20 percent more likely than white workers to care for suspected or confirmed Covid-positive patients. The rate rose to 30 percent specifically for Black workers. In addition, they also reported inadequate or reused protective equipment (PPE) at a rate 50 percent higher than that reported by white workers. For Latinos, the rate was twice that of white workers.
Although the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is not over, and, on the contrary, there is a resurgence of infections in those states that prematurely relaxed or lifted restrictions on social or physical distancing – to be more precise – those that set about economic movement brought, in not a few cases, a priority that projects good times for… the Pentagon and the war industry.
The reality surpasses logic in the Trump administration. Making money continues to be the interest and not the care of people’s lives. That is why national security is being relieved, leaving aside a total battle against the enemy SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and continuing to bet on a war, or all the necessary ones, anywhere in the world against a supposed enemy that allows them to manufacture bombs and war equipment of all kinds.
When the numbers of infected and dead in the United States are terrifying -4,941,796 people infested, so probably this Sunday it will reach five million-, Congress has already discussed the Pentagon’s budget. We remember that independent Senator Bernie Sanders, published an opinion in The Guardian, in which he presented a true picture, a warning and a call:
“At this unprecedented moment in America’s history–a terrible pandemic, an economic crisis, people marching across the country to end systemic racism and police brutality, growing inequality of income and wealth, and an unstable president in the White House–now is the time to bring people together to fundamentally alter our national priorities and rethink the very fabric of American society.
The fact is that they approved $740 billion in spending and ignored Sanders’ proposal to cut 10 percent and target it to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged in the U.S. population, which would have been $74 billion for housing, education and health care, essentially. And the Vermont senator cited a Republican hero, General Dwight Eisenhower, who said in 1953 “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired means, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its workers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The current situation is much more critical: a quarter of the U.S. population is living from paycheck to paycheck, and now from the pandemic subsidy check, which in July has not yet been approved by Congress; between 22 and 40 million fear eviction for not being able to pay the rent, 40 million also live in poverty, and 87 million lack adequate health insurance.
Sanders is not the only one busy with waste. California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna is proposing that money for the “modernization” of intercontinental ballistic missiles go to research on the anti-Covid vaccine. California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee is calling for a $350 billion cut in the war budget.
Even Eisenhower could not change the military-industrial complex of which he warned, and even less do Sanders, Khanna and Lee, although they appeal to the emergency caused by the new coronavirus, when the President of the country, Donald Trump, daily minimizes the magnitude and lethality of the pandemic and only takes advantage of it to lead the situation in order to be re-elected next November.
Among his most recent manipulative expressions are assuring that children “are practically immune” to COVID-19, and almost assuring that they will have a life-saving vaccine by November 3 – election day – because he is pushing it with all his might, even though he says it is not to win at the polls, he wants to save lives?
Trump, who has long sought exclusivity on potential vaccines, announced in May that the huge task of delivering the vaccine will be in the hands of the military in conjunction with the CDC. At the time he said it would be at the end of the year, but the circumstances surrounding the election campaign, which are not in his favor, have led him to make the hasty declaration that in November he has the salvation of the world in his hands?
There is a reality, in these dramatic times and when the number one enemy should be the pandemic. The Department of Defense is not accountable for its expenditures, while its contractors are making huge profits, as always, under the cover of a circumstance long highlighted by critics of the system. The main recipients of war industries’ contributions to their respective election campaigns are the members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
To make matters worse, the new coronavirus has served to compensate arms manufacturers for alleged losses in profits as well. For example, General Electric, which has laid off 25 percent of its workforce, received $20 million to expand its development of “advanced manufacturing techniques,” and Spirit Aerosystems received $80 million to expand its domestic manufacturing after laying off 900 workers.
Some analysts warn that military expenditures could be reduced if the billions spent on the new Cold War with China were not available; if the Pentagon’s requests to buy the controversial and clearly imperfect F-35 fighter planes from Lockheed Martin were not met; or on Trump’s new warrior invention, the Space Force.
Included in the waste is General Dynamics Electric Boat’s $126 billion nuclear submarine program, the new Ford class aircraft carrier built by Huntington Ingalls for $13.2 billion, and its launch system that remains unlaunched but earns a profit for General Atomics. By the way, Bloomberg reported that the ship’s toilets are frequently clogged and can only be cleaned with specialized acids that cost about $400,000 per flush…).
The clogging is greater in those Pentagon priorities, when it becomes known from a June article in Tom Distpach, that in February 2018, the Government Accountability Office, which to some extent oversees federal spending, warned that the Defense Department’s health care system lacked the capacity to handle routine needs, let alone wartime emergencies, and within the ever-increasing military budget, military health care has grown next to nothing.
The 41,361 individuals linked to the Department of Defense, both military and civilian employees, infected with COVID-19, and in a staff mostly in the 18-24 age range we have not found the recognized number of deaths, will they be the humane and disposable part of that budget “oversight”?
By Margarita A. Alarcón Perea
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
The news flooded the nets yesterday like flies to mangoes.
Finally, the presumed candidate for the presidency of the United States for the party that is not Trump’s, Joe Biden, announced his running mate. Senator Kamala Harris. All the media spent the whole day talking about it, as they should. Senator Harris has a lot of prestige within the Senate of that country, and she comes from a long progressive family and personal history. She is a woman more than ready to lead the nation even just as Vice President. It is a step toward much-needed normalcy, and an interesting turn in domestic politics within the United States. Biden could have gone a little more to the right with Susan Rice, with whom he worked during the Obama years, but no, he went more to the left. Evidently something is going on among the young, millennial people who warn the former Vice President that if they want to win, they better please them.
But this is for another paper. Today I want to be more direct and clarify something that I think is necessary. Yesterday, in the midst of the excitement about the nomination, the big media in that country stated, in one way or another, that for “the first time in the history of the United States” there was a black woman nominated for the vice presidency of the country.
Wrong, and wrong.
The first Black woman nominated for the Vice Presidency of the United States of America was Angela Davis, and she was twice in the presidential race. The first in 1980 and the second in 1984. The first African-American woman nominated for the presidential race was Charlene Mitchell in 1968.
By late afternoon the mainstream media had corrected the mistake and the announcement was “The first African-American woman nominated for the Vice Presidency by one of the nation’s major parties.¨ That was good and it needed to be done and it was done.
Now, in the 1960s a poster was printed by Alfredo Rostgaard known to many or all as The Rose and the Thorn where the graphic artist draws the song by Luis Eduardo Aute in honor of the Cuban Revolution. That rose grows beautiful always, or at least it tries to, and the thorn is always seen as the enemy of the fierce and brutal North that threatens us. Why then, have I not seen anything in the national media about this? Why hasn’t the national press done “the individual study” and simply follow the rhyme of “the thorn”? I know it’s not as easy as going into Google and typing in “Black Vice President of the United States”, I know because I did it and what I get is Kamala Harris and the infamy that she is the first. There we see “the thorn”. What is unforgivable is that “the rose” accepts it without any more or less.
Senator Kamala Harris, she deserves credit without question. The history of that nation, the history of the left in that nation and other Black women deserve it; the history of this nation, “the rose”, deserves it too. Angela deserves it.
NOTE: Here is the poster, El Corno Emplumado:
By José Alberto Rodríguez Ávila
August 4, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In times of need and shortage, of crisis not only in Cuba but globally, the waiting line as an occupation is the easy alternative for some on the island. Not only to stand on line: then resell at higher prices (with appreciable profit) to others who do work and don’t have the free time that “coleros” do.