By Ania Terrero
Cubadebate journalist. Graduated in 2018 from the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana.
On Twitter @AniaTerrero
July 16, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Media that accuse, simplify or ignore victims of gender-based violence; others that silence inequalities. Soap operas that show women concerned about their relationships, motherhood and only later, sometimes for professional fulfillment. Video clips with abundant shots of almost naked dancers, offering their charms to the artist in charge. Advertisements where, while they cook, wash and dream of ideal household appliances, they drive luxury cars and manage life beyond the home.
The list is long: sexist stereotypes are repeated ad nauseam in the media and cultural industries. Over and over again, patriarchal principles are naturalized [socially “acceptable”] according to which women should be beautiful, sensual and delicate, take care of household chores and children, fulfill the sexual desires of their partners and belong to men. They perpetuate, in short, other forms of abuse, although this time in a symbolic way.
In the words of the French theorist Pierre Bourdieu, symbolic violence refers to a group of meanings imposed as valid and legitimate by the patriarchal culture, which are based on male supremacy and domination and, therefore, have a close relationship with power and authority. But the conflict is more complex and has many forms.
As explained by the journalist, professor and expert in gender issues Isabel Moya, in her article From Silence to Media Show, this phenomenon implies “the reproduction in the mass media, and in general, in the cultural industries of a sexist, patriarchal, misogynist discourse that relies on prejudices and stereotypes to present reality and social processes in all areas: the productive and reproductive, the public and the private, the basis of the economic structure and the socio-cultural superstructure”.
In other words, a kind of vicious circle is produced in which the makers of these discourses validate and transmit myths and macho images which, in turn, they inherited from previous generations. By the work and grace of the latent patriarchy, stereotypes persist and are amplified as informative, audiovisual and entertainment alternatives grow.
This happens, moreover, in a world where a relatively small group of transnational companies dominate the information and entertainment market. Conglomerates such as AOL-Time Warner, Disney, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom and Bertelsmann dictate the what and the how. They decide what global audiences will see, hear and enjoy. In short, a few decide for many and influence them.
The greatest danger lies in the fact that, directly or indirectly, they tend to naturalize a gender-biased construction and a subordination scheme where women play at a disadvantage. As a result, it contributes to reproducing the causes of male violence against women and girls.
“The media establish, through their discourses, an axis of cultural matrices, where the hegemonic power is made explicit and reproduced. They constitute one of the mechanisms of reproduction of the patriarchy on the level of subjectivity,” Moya said.
In relation to the above, symbolic male violence must be analyzed in a broader context. As the journalist specializing in gender issues, Lirians Gordillo, explained to Cubadebate, feminism and gender theory had the clarity to demonstrate the interconnection between different forms of discrimination. “The relationship between patriarchy, capitalism and racism, among others, as systems of oppression, allows them to be sustained and updated,” she said.
Therefore, symbolic macho violence is accentuated and acquires particular nuances when other categories such as skin color, place of residence, sexual orientation and gender diversity are involved. It is vital to recognize these forms because they allow us to identify zones of silence where it grows and intensifies.
Abuses that are hidden from view
The first step in dismantling symbolic male violence is to learn to identify it, but this is rarely easy. It often takes more subtle forms than physical, economic, sexual and even psychological. Moreover, it happens in a world of cultures and words where norms are not always clear, where almost everything is considered valid and where, therefore, feminist demands are often assumed to be excesses or exaggerations.
This phenomenon goes beyond perhaps obvious manifestations, such as the objectification of the female body and the re-victimization of those who suffer gender-based violence. Many times, it begins in apparently simple expressions such as silence or absence. The fact that many of the inequities and discriminations that women face today do not usually appear in the media and in entertainment products is a form of abuse.
In the opinion of Lirians Gordillo, because of the fact that what is not named does not exist, removing women with diverse identities from the public stage means not seeing them as people with rights.
“In the Cuban case, we are not talking about women in an abstract concept, but about those who are marked by other features such as skin color, age, gender identity, sexual orientation or the presence of a disability. Perhaps the most absent are transsexual women, lesbian women and black women,” she said.
Addressing gender conflicts from a lack of knowledge, reproducing the stereotypes that make them possible, is as serious, if not more so. According to Isabel Moya, these issues have gone from being “what is not talked about” to being illuminated by the spotlight.
However, she explained, “the lights only illuminate some issues: violence against women, abortion, marriage between homosexuals or lesbians… But more than true light, what prevails, with its honorable exceptions, is the banal approach, the morbidness, the sensationalism that becomes yellowish in some cases. Commonplaces that support myths and stereotypes are repeated ad nauseam”.
And there goes another form of symbolic violence that is almost never evident. Sexism, prejudices and macho representations dominate a good part of the informative and leisure production in the world where we move. They validate a model where women, in more or less obvious ways, are subordinated to men, depend on them or, when they try to make a difference, are excluded. These problems do not only affect them, but also all those who break with the moulds of an essentially conservative society.
Video clips and songs that depict women as objects of desire, films that sell stories where violent men fall in love with nice girls and these girls do their best to save them from themselves, advertising that outlines the roles assigned to each sex and promotes an unattainable ideal of beauty, comedy shows that ridicule homosexual relationships, sensationalist headlines and the stereotypical treatment of gender violence that gains space in the media are just some examples of this phenomenon.
Moya mentions others: “Symbolic violence is exercised when women of the South are treated with folkloristic or xenophobic approaches; when love between women is blamed; when so-called ‘women’s issues’ are confined only to certain sections of newspapers or newsreels; when the lyrics of a song cry out to the four winds to ‘punish’ it; when the protagonist of a series for teenagers only lives for her ‘perfect physique’ and we see her multiplied in dolls, T-shirts and disposable cups”.
The persistence of a sexist language, which privileges the use of the masculine as a universal generic, evidences other forms of macho abuse in the symbolic realm, said Gordillo. This goes beyond written or oral expression and is manifested in other ways in audiovisual products. “We have to analyze what the conflicts of women and men are in series and films, in what roles they appear, and what relationships they establish between themselves,” he added.
Cuba, realities and challenges of a latent violence
Although the work of training and education on gender issues among journalists, communicators, artists and creators has already begun to bear fruit, Cuba does not escape the examples and consequences of symbolic violence.
According to Lirians Gordillo, in audiovisual production, with a few exceptions, a patriarchal representation of women persists. The usual conflicts and interests for them are still the traditional ones: family, couple relationships, aging. Even when they have an active public and professional life, the problems associated with it are subordinated to the previous ones.
As Cuban researchers have pointed out, the public arena is one of the main spaces of progress for Cuban women. “They tend to have greater participation and representation in decision-making in different spheres, but patriarchal relations still prevail within the domestic sphere. It is very curious how this reality is represented in fiction, soap operas and other products,” said the journalist.
At the same time, research on the Cuban press has detected challenges and obstacles that still limit the treatment of issues related to macho violence, human trafficking, feminist struggles, inclusive language and good ways of doing gender journalism.
The last ten years have made some differences if we are talking about symbolic violence. For Gordillo, if one analyzes the informative and entertainment production in that period, one finds more professionals within the communication interested in breaking with macho stereotypes and more communicative products that assume diversity.
This shows the possibilities of a real change and its consequences. However, he said, the majority of products continue to reproduce symbolic violence, even, sometimes, with the intention of being inclusive and not reproducing stereotypes.
According to the journalist, good intentions are not enough because the way we look, the visual codes, the construction and representation of that reality have been formed and educated from the patriarchy. “We have to unlearn many stereotypes, many representations and many macho codes. That needs knowledge, it takes a process of questioning, of getting out of comfort zones above all,” she said.
In this way, filmmakers, artists and communication professionals must combine personal preparation with the use of advisors and specialists when building works and products that approach these issues. Even in those who do not touch on gender conflicts directly, prior training is necessary because these issues usually cut across any representation of society. Alliances between academia, research, communications and artistic creation are vital.
Diversity and systematization of communication products that address male violence is another key point. “Due to its complexity, this problem cannot be analyzed in a single communicative product, once a year or in a specialized media. It is a conflict that needs to be discussed, represented and deconstructed in a systematic and diverse way,” said Gordillo.
Male violence and its expression in the symbolic realm is an urgent challenge. It limits and threatens women’s lives and their rights, but it also affects the development of the nation. Therefore, the best possible response will be one that combines social, political, legal, educational and health efforts, among others, and is articulated as a comprehensive policy. In short, the country we want to be is also at stake.
July 12, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
There is no one like him to know how to assimilate every gesture, every word, every embrace of this or that one from Sancti Spiritus as they pass through the territory, much less to stop to caress a child, admiring a young person or shaking the hand of the one who looks at him as that hero he is. He;s the same one who was condemned to two life sentences, plus 15 years, the same one who confesses not to have words to express his gratitude to those who followed him from a distance and to the Commander in Chief, when 19 years ago, at a crucial moment in the struggle for the liberation of the Five, he said with the certainty of a prophet: ¡Volverán! [They will return!]
“The plan of the empire with me was that I would still be sitting in a maximum-security prison, but if I am here, I owe it to the efforts of so many people who for so many years contributed to the campaign for our freedom, so I thank you, for your contribution to the cause of The Five. This is how Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, the national vice-coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, presented himself to several Sancti Spiritus cederistas during his visit to the province a few days ago.
At present, what new tasks are the CDR facing?
The organization has already issued its bulletin No. 56, dedicated to food production in family yards and plots, because as you know, during the most critical years of the special period in Cuba, progress was made in terms of agro-ecology and ecological practices. We were even recognized by international studies, but after that stage, that popular movement was somewhat lost and today, the idea is to recover it, multiply it and let each one contribute in their own small way.
We have visited places where until recently there were rubbish dumps and the neighbors have cleaned them up and turned them into furrows planted with food. That is the role we play, given that the international economic situation has become more complicated due to the pandemic, and at the same time Cuba continues to suffer the effects of the US blockade.
They, who claim to be so humanitarian, do not make a parenthesis in our discord, not even at times like these, so that Cuba can buy its food and its medicines. On the contrary, not a day goes by that they do not give us another turn of the screw. This is because, in essence, they want to break us, they want to bring us to our knees because of hunger. That is why we, the CDR, try to do things that can contribute to the country, and one of them is food production.
How do the CDRs expand the scope of their work in the midst of a post-COVID-19 recovery phase?
The damage from the pandemic is not only physical for those who have suffered it. It is also economic, and particularly in the area of food, our country is facing difficulties. Even before the arrival of this disease, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez called for import substitution, because too many resources are imported, which we can often obtain domestically.
After the appearance of COVID-19, we insisted on this and we were right, because we need to increase production. It is not a question of competing with Agriculture, which has its plans and we wish it every success, but of contributing from our neighborhoods. The potential is there and we can already see the first fruits of this movement. Any bunch of bananas obtained in the courtyard of a house is a product that should not be bought at the market and, therefore, is there for the people who need it most.
We are a great human family, as our dear Comandante Fidel said, and particularly a great Cuban family, so we must help each other and who better than we who are in the neighborhood to promote this type of activity?
The 60th anniversary of the creation of the CDR is approaching. How will this celebration unfold?
We are working to commemorate, in the most joyful way possible, the 60th anniversary of the creation of the CDRs. We do not yet know the specifics, nor what the activities will be like, because it depends on the evolution of COVID-19 in the country, but I assure you that we will celebrate it as it deserves to be.
The CDRs have also been present in each of the trenches that have been opened up to combat the pandemic and I think they have done so in the spirit of the celebration of this coming 60th anniversary. Let us remember that this is an organization founded by Fidel, one of his great dreams, and in which he placed all his trust to materialize the fundamental task, which is, without a doubt, the defense of the Revolution.
There are those who say that this is an organization of old men, but I assure you that what has changed is time, because far from being out of fashion, we are up to date. At this time it is important to remember and be faithful to the legacy of our Commander and to the trust he placed in the CDR, since he was always very clear that they constituted a bastion of the Revolution and will continue to be so.
How do you assess the role of the youth in the largest mass organization in the country?
Together with other members of the National Directorate of the CDR, we have visited several provinces of the country and one of the things that calls our attention the most is related to the youth and their presence in the organization, contrary to what many people think, we have a very large youth force.
In the 60th Anniversary detachments we met young people who have been in the front line, in the fight against the pandemic, visiting the most needy people, in the assistance centers, distributing products in quarantine zones; but, above all, showing that they have a great desire to do, to contribute and to demonstrate that there is continuity in this organizationgcguu.
But there are also the children, who provide the relief of these young people and who are already standing out in the neighborhoods, right now they are the protagonists of the applause of nine o’clock at night, which health workers and all those who in one way or another help in these difficult times quite rightly deserve.
Children, however, are the ones who do most to remind us that it is important to turn off an unnecessary light bulbs at peak times within the home, something that seems insignificant, but if every one of the 138 000 CDRs in the country had a light turned off, that would be the same amount that would stop working to help save energy.
Any message to the people from Sancti Spritus ?
Firstly, to thank you for the solidarity of this people with the struggle of the Five. I share a birthday with Sancti Spíritus and not a single year has passed in which, while in prison, I have not received the congratulations of this people, for which I am very grateful and I do so also in the name of my comrades and our families who have passed through here several times and have always received much affection.
If we are in this province today, we owe it, among other things, to the solidarity of all the people, including that of the people from Sancti Spiritus, therefore, our eternal gratitude, particularly to the CDR members, the FMCers and all those who make up the neighborhood organizations, which we all are.
At times like this I ask you to move forward, or are we going to give in to the pressures of the empire? Of course not, we will continue fighting, saving and producing, fulfilling everything, because better times will come, even if it means working hard.
By Frei Betto
Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo. Known as Frei Betto. Dominican Friar. Known internationally as a liberation theologian. Author of 60 books in various literary genres – novels, essays, detective stories, memoirs, children’s and young people’s books, and religious books. In two occasions – in 1985 and 2005 – he was awarded the Jabuti, the most important literary prize in the country. In 1986, he was elected Intellectual of the Year by the Brazilian Writers Union. He is an advisor to social movements, to the Basic Ecclesial Communities and to the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, and has been actively involved in Brazil’s political life for the past 50 years. He is the author of the book “Fidel and Religion”.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
I was detained under the military dictatorship. During my four years in prison, I was locked up in isolation cells in the DOPS in Porto Alegre and the capital of São Paulo, and also in the state of São Paulo, at the headquarters of the PM, at the ROTA Battalion, at the State Penitentiary, both in Carandirú and in Presidente Venceslau.
Therefore, I share ten pieces of advice to be able to better endure this period of forced confinement due to the pandemic:
1. Keep body and mind together. Keeping your body confined to your home and your mind focused there, outside can cause depression.
2. Create a routine. Don’t stay in your pajamas all day, as if you were sick. Set a schedule of activities: Physical exercise, especially aerobics (to stimulate the respiratory system), reading, rearranging cupboards, cleaning the house, cooking, researching on the internet, etc.
3. Don’t stay on the TV or computer all day. Diversify your occupations. Don’t ban the passenger who stays all day at the station without having the slightest idea of the train schedule.
4. Use the phone to call relatives and friends, especially the elderly, the vulnerable and those who live alone. Entertain them, it will be good for them and for you.
5. Engage in manual labor: repair appliances, put together puzzles, sew, cook, etc.
6. Play games. If you are in the company of others, set a time of day to play chess, checkers, cards, etc.
7. Keep a quarantine diary. Even if it is without any intention of others reading, do it for yourself. Putting ideas and feelings on paper or on the computer is deeply therapeutic.
8. If there are children or other adults in the house, share household chores with them. Establish a schedule of activities, with common times and free time for each.
9. Meditate. Even if you are not religious, learn to meditate, because it cleanses the mind, retains the imagination, prevents anxiety and relieves tension. Spend at least 30 minutes a day in meditation.
Don’t be convinced that the pandemic will stop quickly or last for months. Act as if the period of confinement will last a long time. In prison, there is nothing worse than the lawyer guaranteeing the client that he will be released in two or three months. That triggers an exhausting expectation. So, prepare yourself for a long journey into your own home.
Frei Betto is a writer, author of “Cartas da prisão” (Letters from the Prison), among other books.
1] Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS), a police body which, among other functions, had the police intelligence service. It acted during the dictatorship also with illegal arrests, repression, torture and extermination of people.
2] Tobias de Aguiar Ostensive Rounds (ROTA) is an elite and shock troop of the General Command of the Military Police (PM) of the State of São Paulo. During the dictatorship, he formed the Death Squads
By Rosa Miriam Elizalde
Cuban journalist. First Vice President of UPEC and Vice President of FELAP. She has a PhD in Communication Sciences and is the author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me Olvidar”, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. She has received the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Award on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. She is a columnist for La Jornada in Mexico.
On twitter: @elizalderosa
July 9, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Since Netflix decided to release The Wasp Network on June 19 and reached the captive audience through Covid, the film has become a media success for unconventional reasons.
In Florida, they have threatened to burn down movie theaters if the film is ever shown, and signatures are being collected to force Netflix to withdraw the film, not understanding that the download site is not a television channel. People have the option of watching it or going on, although the scandal must have boosted the rating of a film that had passed through the Venice Film Festival without any sorrow or glory, despite a celebrity cast headed by Penélope Cruz.
But in Miami right now the theme of the film has become a sort of anti-communist conga with the local media dancing the cool step of attacking the French director, Olivier Assayas. They’re accusing him of making pro-Cuba propaganda. The great detail is that The Wasp Network narrates real events that have been documented by the United States authorities themselves, in a trial that is considered the longest in the history of that country’s jurisprudence and in which three generals, an admiral, a former presidential advisor and self-confessed terrorists, who appear on screen as what they are, testified.
The plot of The Wasp Network began in Havana in the early 1990s. René González (Edgar Ramírez in the film), a flight instructor at a military airbase, steals a plane and flees Cuba. He begins a new life in Miami, away from Olguita, his wife (played by Penelope Cruz) and their young daughter. Other Cuban “deserters” soon follow him and set up a network to infiltrate organizations based in that city, responsible for attacks on the island, including a hotel bombing campaign that killed an Italian tourist. Instead of capturing and prosecuting the terrorists, responsible for atrocious crimes, the U.S. government locks up and subjects Cuban agents to blackmail and punishment.
It’s the story of what happened in its pure state, naked in the opinions or interpretations of the screenwriter and director; an intolerable truth for one of the real characters in the film, José Basulto. He presented himself in those years as a good Samaritan, savior of rafters in the Florida Straits, but he supported his excursions with drug trafficking, cheerfully violated Cuban airspace and financed shootings against bathers on the beaches.
Paradoxically, the evidence of his crimes was not provided by the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, but by the FBI, which was aware of everything that was going on, as the film shows. Now Basulto shouted against Netflix and shook his fist in front of the cameras: “I more than agree with Trump that the relationship and agreements with Cuba should be terminated.
There’s a story that seems merely anecdotal of events that occurred over 20 years ago, but it’s current if you look at it correctly. Genuine people like José Basulto or Luis Posada Carriles, who organized the bombing of hotels in Havana and the sabotage of a civil airplane in which 73 passengers and crew members died, are not marginal in American society today.
The Cuban from the island who saw The Wasp Network at the Havana Film Festival last December knows that the hatred that inspired the Mayan attacks in the 1990s permeates today the speeches of President Donald Trump and conquers other radicals who swarm the Facebook forums and YouTube channels linked to white supremacists. Moreover, George W. Bush unleashed his war on terrorism from others while protecting his terrorist friends at home, and now Trump courts Florida’s arsonists and is evasive in condemning the right-wing extremists who have left a trail of death during his administration from Charlottesville to Minneapolis to El Paso.
A study by the U.S. Extremist Crime Database indicates that 74% of the terrorist attacks that occurred on U.S. soil after September 11, 2001, through 2016, were the work of the extreme right. Since Trump became president in 2017, most attacks against defenseless civilians have been carried out by supremacists. The profile of the aggressor does not vary much: a white man, inspired by other violent acts and speeches, and with easy access to assault weapons. He is the archetype of José Basulto, who benefited as the current right-wing extremists from the American law, which only allows the designation of foreign groups or attackers as terrorists.
Virtues and shortcomings of performance apart, The Wasp Network is unusual and courageous. It focuses on explaining what was hidden for decades and still does not want to be looked at head-on: why Cuban agents were sent to the United States. This is the heart of the story that has set the networks on fire, that tries to censor on Netflix and that has the right-wing making common cause against the Spanish vice president, Pablo Iglesias. He accompanied the film’s Twitter feed with three words of unsurpassed precision: “Seen it. Heroes. Great Movie.”
By Natalia Plazas
June 20, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In 1921 Tulsa, the city Donald Trump chose to resume his campaign for the presidency, was the scene of one of the most atrocious massacres in U.S. history against the Black community. Nearly a hundred years after the event, the facts remain virtually unknown to society.
Donald Trump hit the nail on the head when he decided to resume his campaign for reelection in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tens of thousands of his supporters await him there, but there is also a growing call for remembrance and justice from activist groups who remember that that city has not healed the wounds of the worst massacre in the country’s recent history against the African-American community.
On the night of May 31 to June 1, 1921, an entire neighborhood was razed to the ground and 300 black citizens were killed. The massacre began when a white crowd came to lynch a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. That, supposedly, was the trigger for the tragedy, but history has revealed a much more perverse situation.
In the 1920s, the Greenwood neighborhood, a black enclave in the city of Tulsa, was noted for its economic prosperity. The distribution of land after the end of the American Civil War had benefited some African-American and Native American communities, and as a result Greenwood had become stronger, despite being segregated, like any black neighborhood at the time.
From ‘Black Wall Street’ to a neighborhood in the ashes
Such was the commercial and economic success forged in Greenwood that it was commonly called the ‘Black Wall Street’, but soon its good fortune would bring it ruin. Members of the white community began to view their neighbors’ bonanza with suspicion and, interested in occupying their land during the railroad expansion, decided to attack the neighborhood.
On the night of May 31, a crowd of white men, supported by local authorities and even police, arrived in Greenwood and charged at the African-American population and their homes. The mob burned down homes and businesses to the point that when the situation calmed down hours later, at least 35 whole blocks had been left in rubble.
The blow took away the good fortune of the neighborhood forever. In the wake of the event, Greenwood’s recovery has been frustrated by the creation of laws promoting zoning or by building restrictions. Today in Tulsa, the social gap between blacks and whites is notorious. According to a Human Rights Watch report, poverty is almost three times higher among black citizens than among white citizens.
A Donald Trump rally ignites misgivings in a remote society
With Trump’s visit, originally scheduled to coincide with the celebration of Black Independence Day on June 19 [Juneteenth] and postponed amidst national protests against racism, the call for historical recognition of the victims and economic reparations for their descendants has intensified more than ever.
Less than a year before the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa incident, justice has yet to be established, despite the fact that the case has even been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both lower courts and the high court have dismissed the claims. Currently, only two survivors of the massacre are still alive.
But Trump’s arrival has not only put the spotlight on a forgotten chapter of American history. His desperate attempt to revive in Oklahoma an image that has deteriorated in recent months due to the economic impact of the pandemic has highlighted the differences between his supporters and those who demand changes in the treatment of the African-American community.
“Any protester, anarchist, agitator, looter, or small-time person who goes to Oklahoma, please understand that they will not be treated as they have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a very different scene,” the president said before embarking on the trip to Tulsa.
The comment, which his critics call conflictive and divisive, comes at a time when the rejection of racial violence in the United States shows its greatest increase in decades, with weeks of massive demonstrations in multiple cities around the country that have also reached the doors of the White House.
By Patricia Sulbarán Lovera
June 16, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In the midst of a wave of protests against racism in the United States, two deaths initially labeled as suicides have caused shock and raised questions.
In the last few weeks, the bodies of two black men, Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch, were found hanging from trees in two Southern California cities.
In the first announcements, the authorities pointed to suicide as a possible cause of death in both cases, but have now opened investigations.
This was after the families demanded investigations after expressing their unconvinced opinion that they had been suicides.
About 50 miles and 10 days separate the deaths of Fuller and Harsch.
The names of Fuller and Harsch resonated widely on social networks over the weekend, and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement joined the demands of their families.
The characteristics of the incidents have also brought to mind the terrible past of lynching of blacks in the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Robert Fuller, 24 years old
At almost 4 a.m. last Wednesday, June 10, the body of 24-year-old Fuller was found near City Hall in Palmdale, a city of 150,000 people, about an hour north of Los Angeles.
“No one was at the scene and paramedics found the body hanging from a tree,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said Monday.
A passerby who saw the body contacted the authorities.
An autopsy was carried out last Friday 12th, the results of which have yet to be announced.
“Initial reports seemed to be consistent with suicide, but we thought it prudent to step back and continue to investigate,” said Jonathan Lucas, head of the county coroner’s office.
Lucas explained that there was initial talk of suicide, due to the “absence of evidence” indicating a possible homicide.
According to authorities, there were no chairs or other artifacts in the vicinity of the site and only “what was in his pocket and backpack” was found, Kent Wegener, in charge of the sheriff’s office homicide unit, said Monday.
Wegener detailed that a forensic analysis of the rope will be done, as well as a study of the type of knot to determine how it was made. They will also investigate whether “there is video footage from surveillance cameras or from homes” that has captured what happened, and they will check the young person’s cell phone.
Authorities said they will also investigate the medical history of Fuller, who was assigned to a state social worker, although the reason is unknown.
According to what county sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday, the attorney general’s office “is going to monitor and review our investigation.
The official also noted that the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) will be involved in the investigation from the civil rights division.
What was the reaction and what did your family say?
Last Friday, after news of his death was made public, Palmdale residents questioned authorities for first reporting it as a suicide.
“Where are the surveillance videos?”, “We don’t trust you”, “Why did you conclude it’s a suicide?”, some questioned the city sheriff in the middle of a tense press conference.
On Saturday, Fuller’s sister spoke from the square where the incident occurred and where hundreds of protesters gathered.
“We want to know the truth about what really happened. Robert was a good little brother. And it’s like everything we’ve been told isn’t right (…) we hear one thing and then another, and we just want to know the truth,” Diamond Alexander claimed.
“It doesn’t make sense, my brother wasn’t suicidal,” he said.
Antelope Valley, the area where Palmdale is located, “is known in Southern California as a bastion of white supremacy and that goes back decades,” Los Angeles KCRW radio reporter Cerise Castle said in a report Monday for National Public Radio (NPR).
“In 2016, there was an incident in which three men were charged with a hate crime after attacking a group of Latinos in a park. This was one day after the Ku Klux Klan [white supremacist extreme group] held an event in the area,” he said.
Malcolm Harsch, 38
A una hora de Palmdale en dirección este, en la ciudad de Victorville, un grupo de bomberos acudió a la escena en la que Malcolm Harsch, de 38 años, había aparecido colgado de un árbol el pasado 31 de mayo.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office report, shortly after 7:00 a.m., a call came in to the 911 emergency number from a woman who reported that her boyfriend had hung himself.
The paramedics arrived at the site, which the authorities describe as a “land” where there is a camp of homeless people.
The woman indicated that “she and her boyfriend, later identified as Malcolm Harsch, had been together during the morning, but she had returned to her tent for a short period of time.
“Others in the camp warned him that Harsch had been found hanging from a tree,” that he had been taken down from there and was being given CPR “to resuscitate him,” the statement said.
The emergency personnel who arrived later continued unsuccessfully with the attempts until he was declared dead.
The cause of death is yet to be known.
The authorities present at the scene, including forensic personnel, stated in the letter, “did not collect any evidence suggesting a possible murder”.
What did the family say?
Harsch’s relatives, who live in the state of Ohio, said in a statement last Saturday that they found it hard to believe the man had killed himself, that he “did not seem depressed” and that he had “recently talked with his children about seeing each other soon.
In the letter, the relatives reported that the autopsy had been carried out “12 days after” his death.
“There are many ways to die, but considering the current racial tensions, for a man to have hung himself from a tree definitely does not make sense at this time. We want justice, not easy excuses,” they said.
The city authorities reported that they would make the results of the investigation public once it is completed.
County Sheriff John McMahon said his office was in contact with the state Department of Justice, which was following up on the inquiry.
By Hugo Moldiz Mercado.
He is a Bolivian lawyer, communicator, university professor, researcher, Master in International Relations and correspondent for international news agencies. He has advised some commissions of the Bolivian Constituent Assembly.
April 28, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In what way does the left have a chance of triumphing in representative (bourgeois) democratic elections? Is it an efficient and effective electoral strategy, regardless of the relation of forces between the dominant and subordinate classes, the predominant, even the only one, for a leftist candidate to be able to attract aa high percentage of the population and crown himself as the winning formula?
Is it a general political strategy, with its political-electoral correlate, that builds “from below” a favorable relationship of forces in the social struggle, to then translate it into votes greater than those received by the right-wing candidates, leading to a political-electoral victory?
It is evident that much reflection can be made on each of the questions posed. It is even possible to incorporate other questions in the same direction and make the issue even more complex. However, at the risk of appearing too simple, let us try some criteria.
The first is that the ways of doing electoral politics depend on the general political situation of the time. There is an intimate relationship between the political characteristics of a certain general historical period and the characteristics of a specific electoral situation.
A correct electoral strategy that ignores the political features of the period and the situation, however attractive it may be in the eyes and ears of the people, will not mechanically give the expected result: triumph. On the contrary, an electoral strategy based on the people as a social force with an effective territorial presence will be capable of convincing and attracting various fractions of the petty bourgeoisie and other backward sectors of the popular camp to lean towards a leftist candidate.
Second, it is true that the conditions and tools existing in this second decade of the 21st century are different, even radically different, from the conditions and tools that the left developed and used to conquer electoral victories, first, and install governments of its ideological-political court at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, later.
There is no doubt that the role of the media and social networks – as ideological state apparatuses – has an increasingly greater degree of influence in the configuration of electoral results. Whether or not it is predominant depends on the type of social formation, the nature of the class confrontation at the time, and the nature of the political strategies of the actors.
But neither the first nor the second criteria (forms of electoral participation, on the one hand, and conditions and tools, on the other), modify in substance the main aspect of representative democracy. That system, on the basis of the fetish of “one citizen, one vote”, is generally structured to ensure the reproduction of the type of capitalist state in the long term.
Except for a certain relative autonomy of the State from its dominant classes, in moments of general crisis, the left can take over the government, while previously building from “below” a relationship of favorable social and political forces.
Based on these two considerations, it is good to point out that, as a general rule, the left has been the winner of electoral competitions when its electoral strategy has succeeded in establishing or expressing the trend of social availability of the subordinate classes.
In other words, to build and condense through them a present state of mind and subjectivity of a social majority that is unwilling, for various reasons, with the government of the moment, and that is inclined to change through an option would answer the current state of affairs.
It is when the general crisis or even the indisposition with the government of the moment is made to lean to the side of a popular project. In other words, it is not only the candidate’s attributes that win over most voters but, above all, when that candidate or party synthesizes the “common sense” of what the people want and what they are fighting for at that moment.
However, this “common sense” does not arise spontaneously, even more so when the majority of the state system (repressive apparatus and ideological state apparatus) are against a leftist candidacy. It is rather the result of a patient and skillful construction of relations of forces favorable to change. This requires a conscious leadership. It is when, without abandoning modern techniques of inducing people to vote, the fragmented social tissues are gradually being articulated into a single large, strong and vigorous fabric.
The right-wing options have in an otherwise always expensive election marketing campaign the predominant way to win an election. This is because the whole state apparatus (repressive and ideological) works for their benefit. But the left, even if it is reformist, is obliged to find, in the organized strength of the people, the main source of its strategy, its tactics and its tools of triumph.
Moreover, even if the left obtained an electoral victory as a result of a high level of rejection by the population of the parties of the right, due to an unprecedented generalized crisis (ideological crisis of the classes and fractions of the block in power), its degree of stability and the possibilities of deepening its governmental measures will be very limited to face the medium and long-term challenges if it does not count on the organized people as a social force.
Does that mean that the left should abandon the use of modern techniques, such as social networks, to face an electoral competition? No, it doesn’t mean that. The progressive and leftist forces should use it to the fullest, but they should be convinced and not call themselves “self-deception” that their hypothetical victory was due to other, larger causes.
Only the naive or those who are unfamiliar with the laws of political operations are prone to be deceived by certain technical or tawdry electoral advisors who claim victory for a leftist candidate. In fact, a measurement of the level of impact of the battle on social networks will show that right-wing alternatives are the biggest beneficiaries.
The territorial work, the grassroots work, to organize the people and prepare them for a victorious battle that will translate into a vote will never be replaced by the forms of political incidence “from above”. These techniques complement, yes, but do not replace the consciousness and organization made into a material force.
For that, perhaps it is good to differentiate, as René Zavaleta did, between democracy as a mere aggregation of votes and democracy as self-determination. The sum of votes in a representative democracy can give the government, but not lay the foundations for the construction of a power different from the existing one.
This implies that a triumph within representative democracy for the right is in its condition of possibility. This is because it does not alter in any way the existing power relations. But for the left, it is insufficient since it is supposed to want the construction of power different from the capitalist one.
For the left to triumph in elections of representative democracy, it must first constitute itself as the leader of society, and this is only possible when the people become historical subjects who install their “common sense” as predominant over others.
In synthesis, it is not “from above” that the left wins the elections with the sole use of modern techniques of political incidence, but, above all, with the capacity to constitute itself “from below” as a political reference and as a part of the historical subject.
The left wins elections not only because of the charisma of a candidate, which is important but insufficient but also because of the benefit it derives from that space of representative democracy, which is not its own, to build itself as a power (hegemony translated into political practice) before becoming a government. Those are the lessons of history and that is the challenge of the present hour.
The current Cuban Penal Code imposes penalties ranging from three months to one year’s imprisonment for the basic offence of spreading an epidemic; from three to eight years for theft; from three months to one year for disobedience, illegal economic activity, speculation and hoarding.
April 3, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Camagüey – Jacqueline Ballester Aranda, the chief prosecutor of the Camagüey Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Criminal Prosecution Department, told Radio Cadena Agramonte that the biggest complaints in that territory were about the crime of spreading an epidemic.
Eight people are involved in this case because of refusals by travelers from abroad to comply with the social isolation required to preserve the health of their families and the community.
Also, four cases are being prosecuted for speculation and hoarding, based on the occupation of large quantities of deficient products, both food and hygiene, which are basic necessities for the population or essential to combat COVID-19.
A citizen was tried for the purchase of 18 liters of chlorine, with the aim of selling it at a higher price, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, while another was charged with a similar amount.
On the other hand, 652 pounds of malanga and 175 pounds of rice have been recovered; in both cases, they were intended for illegal economic activity, and, for example, the defendant was marketing cereal at eight pesos a pound.
There was a robbery with force in a placita (point of sale of agricultural products) in the city of Camagüey, whose authors stole 38 sacks of potatoes and the weights of the unit. Those involved are already in custody and under investigation.
The Chief Prosecutor of the Department of Criminal Procedure of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office added that demonstrations of contempt for the authorities, including the health and public order authorities, have been made against the request to place the nasobuco on the public highway and the indication of isolation in the centers authorized for such purposes.
The current Cuban Criminal Code imposes penalties ranging from three months to one year’s imprisonment for the basic offense of spreading an epidemic; from three to eight years for theft; from three months to one year for disobedience, illegal economic activity, speculation and hoarding.
April 12, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Beatriz Rodriguez Sandeliz is 30 years old. She is a First Grade Specialist in Pediatrics and head of the Respiratory Service of the Children’s Hospital “José Luis Miranda”, in Santa Clara, Villa Clara. Dr. Beatriz formed, in the beginning, together with Dr. Marbin Machado Díaz, also from the Children’s Hospital and Drs. Lissy Pérez Leal and Richard Godoy León, from the “Manuel Fajardo” Military Hospital, the team of eight pediatricians who, at present, attend to infants who are contacts, suspects or infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
“If they knew how hard it is to see a 12-year-old girl crying because her PCR has tested positive, we wouldn’t be so irresponsible and would stay home. It hurts to see a helpless child cry because we have not been consistent and have failed to protect those who are the hope of the world,” says this young doctor with only six years of training, three of them as a pediatrician.
(Texts and photos by Yudith María Delgado Rodríguez and Félix Alexis Correa Álvarez)
By Manuel Calviño
March 21, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A hidden threat often triggers fear and anxiety on a personal level, in each of us. Knowing the possibly fatal effects of the threatening agent, multiplies the anguish and with it the tendency to seek solutions usually extreme and unlikely to be effective. If, in addition, these effects are visible, and they already affect others, then the cycle closes: perception of indiscriminate-risk increases the idea of vulnerability-uncertain resolution behavior. But even though it is known that in a pandemic situation, such as the one our planet is experiencing today, and our country is no exception, some are tempted to fall into the trap that distances them from appropriate behavior. There appear then, behaviors of neglect and denial (those that underestimate the situation, do not recognize it in its shocking reality, or hallucinate a certain invulnerability), and also behaviors that contain the necessary ones, but with a tendency to transcend them in excess, so much so that they can produce the opposite effect.
I believe that, in general, we have more in focus those who, due to an excess of confidence (personal and institutional), from an absolutely mistaken deduction (“nothing is going to happen here”, “I’m not going to be so unlucky”, and others similar), without taking into account the extra personal vulnerabilities. In other words, that is to say without the slightest perception of risk, ignore the essential measures of protection and care. I confess that some psychological traits make some more likely than others to build such an attitude. But nothing justifies or sustains it. We are what we are capable of doing with who we are. And that is how we build a better way of being.
But it is important to focus also on the other end of the bell of Gauss, that which describes what would be a normal distribution. Perhaps, by intensifying in order to attract attention, I mean those who hype-act the measures, with innovations of dubious value, moved from an excess of anxiety mobilization. When this happens, and the sense of basic care in the face of the pandemic is passed on, that which scientific knowledge dictates as essential actions, the way to face the situation seems to be helping us, but it may be harming us. Then, from a harmful mental disposition, any care seems little to us, and we can begin to produce not so careful care, which by its extreme nature, I insist, can be a generator of damage. Exaggerating is a common way of falling into what is being avoided.
Pandemics, in any of their forms, but the more aggressive they are, the worse they tend to promote among some people the idea, and not just the idea, but the deep belief, that along with the essential isolation of suspected and already victimized cases, the best thing is the total absence of links with everything around them. What, without a doubt, if this were the case, would have to be undertaken with supreme responsibility and at the right time. I therefore share a vigilance and a just and legitimate concern in this direction. A concern that is not stubborn and excessive, but constructive and sustained. In any case, legitimate, understandable and with the right to speak. Because only by talking will it be productive.
But I would like to refer to that action that implies having the unreasonable certainty that the enemy is anywhere, or rather everywhere, and that we have to find a hiding place at any cost and at any price. And I am not talking about the care and limitation of direct physical contact, which is usually one of the causes of the epidemic’s spread, but about the spiritual, identity-based sustenance of the forms of expression of human values. It would seem that for some people limiting behavior is synonymous with limiting, invalidating, the values they contain.
Let’s think about the challenge of distance. As a way to substantially cut the chain of transmission, scientists and professionals from many parts confirm the need to maintain a certain distance, they call for so-called social distance. What does this mean? In operational terms, maintaining a social distance means: not being in places where many people are, staying away from crowds of people; keeping a distance of about two meters from other people; not touching other people. Perhaps it is better to talk about physical interpersonal distance, to show that it is proposed to considerably limit physical contact, since it is one of the most powerful causes of the spread of the disease. Then, it is clear that shaking hands, hugging, kissing, these expressions of affection, love, friendship, companionship, tend to be substantially avoided in the current conditions of a pandemic.
But distance is not necessarily a problem. The problem is always separation. With you in the distance, it is not only a beautiful poetic phrase, but also an ethical attitude, a human relationship. García Márquez confirms it: “Distance is not a problem. The problem is the humans, who do not know how to love without touching, without seeing, or without hearing…” Ernesto Lecuona, in his beautiful Always in My Heart, convinces when he says that “nothing should be able to stop me from loving you”. The essence, is the essence, no matter how many different ways it is expressed. The essence of expressions of affection lies in the feelings and values that motivate them, and these can be lived, expressed and shared in many more ways.
Limiting is essential. But it is not necessary to limit, on the contrary, it is necessary to multiply, that spiritual, valuable substantiality that is expressed in this way. I am talking about the challenge of making the kiss, the embrace, the handshake felt, where it should not be physically realized. We know, paraphrasing Galeano now: good and authentic human feelings and values cannot be silenced. If they are not expressed in one way, it will be in another. But they cannot not communicate, they cannot stop interacting, co-living. To silence them would be to spread the maleficence of the pandemic.
The same goes for collaboration, solidarity, interpersonal relations, willingness to help and support. The axiom “all for one and one for all” applies, with undoubtedly different expressions, to these moments of indispensable precautions, but which cannot undermine the human essence. What we can achieve will always be more, and more forceful, if we do it together. That, on pain of being accused of being super-optimistic, is to emerge strengthened, resilient, from such violent and destructive adversity. That is, to take charge of an intelligent optimism.
A pandemic is not just a health, scientific, and political challenge. It is also, and above all from my professional perspective, an attitudinal challenge. It is our attitudes that protect us. It is they that get us through the situation. It is they who ensure that among the foreseeable consequences, there are also achievable conquests, just as “among the thorns, flowers are born”.
I defend, summon and fight for the self-care of each and every one of us. But, I need a self-care that implies, that includes the other (like a quantum reality, I could say some physicist). That self-care that knows how to take care of others, of ourselves. That which is not only personal responsibility, but human responsibility. That which commits us to preserve, and also to nourish and cultivate, our human essence, our condition as human beings. I say this because I know it professionally and scientifically, and I believe it deeply, “if I did not believe, what would I be?
But since temptations exist, since the human mind gives for the good and the not so good (even the bad), gives for the earthly and the divine, then it is necessary to be attentive, and to refer to our personal essence as human beings. I say more, to our national being, to our identity, to our being Cuban [somos cubanos]. So, to focus on our light zones and not on the dark ones, on what makes us a country where everybody is a brother, a partner, a friend, where anybody throws a line at anybody, where if we solve everybody, if we are participative, proactive, and extroverted (sometimes to diffuse limits), we are recognized as good people. Like that neighbor in my neighborhood, whom I observed from my balcony, who suffered the denial of a handshake with a buddy on the corner, and with genuine acceptance commented:
Who’s going to change what we are, let alone a virus, however many crowns he has?” And separating himself two meters away he said to the other: “Hand or no hand, I love you, my sister. You are on my team.”
You have to be careful. You have to take care of yourself. You have to let yourself be taken care of. You have to take care of each other. And we must also preserve the Cuban soul. “Let it not be said, brother, let it not be said.”