Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
With only a few days to go before 2020 becomes a historical reference, what many had been predicting is being confirmed: theaters in the United States had the worst box office results since 1980, the year in which the calculation of the collections began.
But if you look back at inflation and other indexes moviesof the economy, you can be sure that 2020 has been the most chaotic year, not only for U.S. movie houses, but in the history of the Hollywood film industry, the most powerful in the world.
Losses from the pandemic have been in the millions, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, box office receipts in 2020 represent an 80% drop in revenue from 2019.
If the damage was not greater, it is because US cinemas were able to function fully until mid-March, but since then they have been intermittent, with few spectators and essential isolation, while in territories like California and New York the policy of closed doors was maintained.
Also, the box office in Asian countries that exhibited films produced in Hollywood contributed to the fact that the collapse was not total, as well as the films released in streaming, an option before which some production houses have remained hesitant, waiting for the vaccines against covid-19 to end up recovering the luminous paths of the great cinematographic business.
But time is running out, capitals are contracting, and there is no lack of studios like Warner Bros. who have already announced that they will not wait for the movie theaters and will play films in 2021 by releasing them in streaming, ignoring the movie theater owners who, standing at the entrance of their theaters, continue to shout and talk about betrayal.
Among the criminal and detective series to which Multivision has accustomed us at night, a rare advert snuck in: Houdini & Doyle
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Among the crime and detective series to which Multivision has accustomed us at night, a rare advert has crept in: Houdini & Doyle. What did the famous escapist, precursor of David Copperfield’s truculence, have to do with the creator of Sherlock Holmes? How much truth and how much imagination is there in the approach to the cases developed throughout the ten chapters conceived by David Shore, Dr. House’s own, in the service of the 2016 British-Canadian co-production?
The truth was that, in real life, Harry Houdini (Budapest, 1874-Detroit, 1926) and Arthur Conan Doyle (Edinburgh, 1859-Crowborough, 1930), met, dealt with and made enemies. The bond and the antagonism had a certain basis. The writer who applied with tenacity and contumacity the deductive method became fanatical about occultism. meanwhile, the magician who made an epoch in Europe and the United States by untying chains, overcoming immersions and weaving optical illusions, disbelieved in spiritualism and appealed to reason to explain complex phenomena. So much so that he publicly denounced the medium who sold him an alleged message sent by his mother from the beyond: the text, headed by a Christian cross, was written in impeccable English. The magician’s mother was ignorant of that language, spoke in Yiddish, and professed Judaism.
Again and again, in each chapter of the series, the two confront each other in the effort to decipher mysteries and misunderstandings come to light. There is no progression in their views, for when Doyle (Stephen Mangan) seems to fail, and Houdini (Michael Weston) is stubborn, the case is solved by plausible, though sophisticated, explanations that leave a margin of doubt for Houdini to admit the possibility of supernatural intervention, and Doyle, more defeated than convinced, becomes more like Holmes than himself.
Shore and the Canadian scriptwriter David Titcher, known among us for the series The Librarians, got their hands on a third character, Detective Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard), the first woman with that degree in the English police force, a fact that was never sufficiently taken advantage of -it would have been an interesting feminist note- and ended up paling in the face of the antagonists’ clashes.
Neither by polishing the epochal reconstruction to the last detail, nor by mixing ingredients from the gothic novel and the psychological thriller, nor by putting into the plot, to the cannon, real characters, such as the inventor Thomas Alva Edison and Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula, managed to hold the artistic breath of the series, which was canceled at the end of the first and only season. Critics recalled the counterpoint between Houdini and Doyle as a washed-up version of the debates between Mulder and Scully in the X-Files.
The second Bolivian political force will be the Citizens’ Community Alliance, of former President Carlos Mesa.
By Redacción Digital | firstname.lastname@example.org
October 24, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
With 97 percent of the officially counted election records, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) consolidated its majority in the Bolivian Legislative Assembly on Friday, reported Telesur, by securing 21 senators and 78 deputies.
The Plurinational Electoral Body (OEP) of Bolivia reported this Thursday that the MAS, of President-elect Luis Arce, obtained 78 of the 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, while in the Senate it obtained 21 of the 36 seats.
The Citizen Community Alliance (CC), of former president Carlos Mesa, obtained 35 deputies and 11 senators, to become the second political force of the South American country.
Meanwhile, the Creemos movement, led by former presidential candidate Luis Fernando Camacho, will have four legislators in the upper house and 17 deputies.
With this composition, the Movement Towards Socialism will be able to approve laws and make parliamentary decisions, without having to build political alliances with the opposition.
However, it will have to build agreements with CC and Creemos to designate authorities, approve judgments of responsibilities and even propose constitutional changes, since this requires the approval of two thirds of the Legislative Assembly.
Among those who must be appointed with a two-thirds majority are the ombudsman, the attorney general and the comptroller general.
This Friday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) officially declared Luis Arce, of MAS, to be the president-elect, who obtained 55.10 percent of the valid votes cast in the general elections of 18 October.
In second place was Comunidad Ciudadana, with 28.92 percent; and in third place, Creemos with 13.82 percent of the votes.
Our sexuality, no matter what, can only be judged in its beauty, by our own way of assuming it respecting the other.
By Ernesto Estévez Rams | email@example.com
September 13, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
For all the scandal they caused, in life and in death, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, his collection of orchid and lily photos would pass, on a first reading, as almost virgin works. They are not.
Mapplethorpe was a New York photographer who died in 1989 of AIDS. By the time of his death, his photographic work was famous, particularly the black-and-white portraits he took of famous people, including a few Hollywood celebrities, throughout his career.
Robert was a homosexual, a condition which, far from being hidden, he incorporated into his work, to the shock of censorship and to the extent of provoking notoriety. But to say it that way does not do justice to the place the photographer gave to sexuality in his life. Exploring what he considered the individual limits of erotic pleasure, Robert not only exposed his sexuality at its fullest, but also vindicated the dominance that each person should exercise over it to the extent of their own fulfillment.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, when AIDS was already advanced, he summarized the meaning of his most sexually explicit photos, saying that forcing people to do things they don’t want to do is not erotic. Consistency also implied the daring to look beyond the conventional, as long as it was “people looking for a simultaneous orgasm.”
Mapplerthorpe’s work is a continuous cry of an unsuccessful search of the self, in the images that he managed to capture of others. In that sense, through some of his photos, the spectator transforms his condition of observer to that of observed. What happens in all of them is that it is almost impossible not to react to them. In many cases, it makes our subconscious uncomfortable, as it accepts beautifully what the indoctrinated conscious insists on rejecting. A colleague photographer, anonymously, confessed to a chronicler that Robert’s erotic work would not have been acceptable if it had been about heterosexual relationships. He is probably right, such is the prejudice.
The Perfect Moment collection, which displayed explicit photos of high sexual content (of all kinds), was censored as pornography by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. The controversy reached such prominence that even members of the U.S. Congress spoke out about the use of public funds to promote art. In 1990, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati was sued for the exhibition of the collection, which was labeled obscene. The gallery was acquitted, along with its director Dennis Barrie. This was the first time that an art gallery was sued for the contents of an exhibition.
In 1998, a book displaying the Mapplethorpe photos was confiscated by the police in England. A University of Central England student, writing a thesis, took the text to a local store to have copies made of some photographs. The shopkeeper, alarmed by the photos he saw, called the police, who did not believe to was art. The university was required, as a condition for the return of the book, that certain pages of the book be hidden. After six months of back and forth, the book was finally returned without censorship.
The well-known writer, musician and playwright Patti Smith was a Mapplethorpe partner , whom she met in a bookstore in the mid-1960s. The relationship was as deep as it was torrid because, by that time, Robert was still dealing with his sexual identity. Despite their separation as a couple, they remained friends all their lives, and she called him one of the most important people in her life.
In 1969, Patty and Robert moved to the Chelsea Hotel, next door to the El Quijote restaurant. As Craig Brown describesit, when Patti entered the restaurant, “the scene was absurdly typical of the era, with musicians and bottles of tequila scattered in equal proportions. Jimi Hendrix is there with a large sombrero, perched on a table at the end. To his right, Grace Slick and the rest of Jefferson Airplane, sitting around another table. To his left, Janis Joplins in a conspiracy with her musicians”.
It was Bobby Neuwirth, a friend of Bob Dylan’s, who introduced Patti to Janis. He told the singer, “This is the poet Patti Smith. From that moment until Joplins’ death, she called her friend, the poet.
From Porgy and Bess is the famous Summertime aria, whose lyrics are by DuBose Heyward and music by George Gershwin. They were taken out of the original opera, and performed by the most diverse artists over the years. There are said to be more than 25,000 recordings of the song, beginning with its first commercial success in 1936, in the voice of Billie Holiday.
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong have their version of Summertime, with a memorable trumpet introduction, followed by the irruption of Ella’s voice alternating with Louis’. Can it get any better? Perhaps not, but in 1976 Ray Charles performed it with Cleo Laine at a transcendent height, and Miles Davis (ah, Miles) played it in an instrumental version that was true to his Midas status: everything he played he turned into jazz.
In another vein, Peter Gabriel, with a captivating harmonica introduction by Larry Adler, gave us a Summertime with a guttural voice to break us like a pencil, and Sting, in 1991, did his thing with the Dutch orchestra of the 21st century.
But, in spite of all the excellence of those interpretations, I am left, if I have to choose, with the incomparable Janis Joplin, the voice of several generations who came with the flower boy and opposition to the Vietnam War, along with the breaking of the sexual norms of the 1960s.
How beautiful you are Janis. / You sang as if they were confessions. / It doesn’t matter if the songs were of others, / you made them a testimony of your sins.
Janis Joplin was born in Texas in 1943 and was abused by other students at school as a freak. She was obese and had very bad acne, and was yelled at for doing horrible things, including racially-motivated offenses for getting along with Black people. Her shelters were reading, painting and music. While at the University of Texas, the campus newspaper referred to her as a brave woman, unafraid to distinguish herself from others by the way she dressed, contrary to the conventions of the time, her love of music and her habit of going barefoot.
No one managed the discursive capacity of the scream as she did, / no one managed the body language as she did, / hers was the method brought to the song. The James Dean / of that world she assumed until she broke it / like him: at the wheel of different cars. / All that and more happened before the crows descended / and turned the whole landscape into a firework display.
On one occasion, Janis was crying inconsolably, because a flirt of the night had left with another woman. Dressed in magenta and pink, wearing a kind of scarf with purple feathers, depressed by her failure, she said to Pattyi, “This always happens to me, partner. Another lonely night”. Patti accompanies Janis to her room and listens to her tell of her unhappiness over and over again. As a consolation, Patti confesses that she has written a song for her and sings it to her to encourage her. In an explosion of depressed joy, Janis jumps from the song “That’s My Song,” she screams, as she arranges her scarf in front of the mirror. Two months later she was dying of a drug overdose.
I don’t know if Robert Mapplethorpe ever photographed Janis Joplin directly, but I can’t wait to see her in the magenta, pink and purple orchids that I can guess behind her photos, even in the gray ones. The photographer’s orchids transcend innocence to become what is perhaps his most aggressive break.
Far from the shocking direct message against conventionality, those photos where the flowers end up being pure eroticism. They express a transcendent, and in a certain way fulminating, apprehension of something beautifully ungraspable. They shout to us that our sexuality, no matter what, can only be judged in its beauty, by our own way of assuming it respecting the other.
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law to address violence against women or to include it in other laws, said Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sex Education, in an interview with the Cubasí website.
By We Editor
December 2, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Cuba will review more than 50 laws, as soon as the commissions are created for each one of them, to decide whether to create a comprehensive law for the attention to violence against women or to include it in other laws, declared in an interview with the Cubasí portal Dr. Mariela Castro Espín, President of the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex).
Cenesex, in recent times, joins more institutions and organizations of civil society and the State to advance campaigns and concrete actions that help to take better the policy of protection to the woman to the legislative changes that arise from the constitutional change and that it has contemplated to attend this reality, pointed out the specialist.
Castro Espín pointed out that the Cuban State deals with this issue, as evidenced by the fact that during the 1st International Symposium against Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Tourism, Human Trafficking and Prostitution, it was agreed that within the National Program of Education and Sexual Health, the Program of attention to all forms of violence would be addressed.
“In September we submitted to the Ministry of Public Health the proposal for a comprehensive education policy on sexuality and sexual rights.
However, she denounced the fact that there are attacks to discredit our institutions. Specific people based on the distortion of her words and efforts on the issue “and begin unfair attacks, without foundation, with a deep ignorance and ignorance, which do not help us move forward on the issue,” she said.
She also denounced the fact that “There is a lot of money, especially from the United States government, towards five main evangelical churches, which are trying to sabotage many initiatives. They are using this term gender ideology, which was created by a Catholic bishop in the 60s, precisely to discredit the international advances in the field of women’s rights and the thought of Marxist origin in relation to this issue. And our Revolution, as Fidel said, has the right to defend itself, it has the right to defend its social conquests, the rights that have been achieved in the Constitution and in the whole legislative system that is already being changed since the constitutional change”.
As a message to Cuban women, Mariela Castro sent the request that “we study, that we prepare ourselves well, because there are many people who fall into the traps of campaigns to discredit our efforts”.
She also called for not acting in isolation: “we have to unite, make alliances, because every time we make alliances and unite, we achieve effectiveness, we really achieve changes, so we do not play into the hands of the enemies of the Revolution, we unite among the organizations and institutions that are really working and that are open to all the ideas that are truly sincere and committed to revolutionary work.
In the middle of the National Day Against Violence Against Women and Girls, Mariela Castro Espín, about the origins of this social problem, said that it comes from centuries and has been expressed from a place of power. She also emphasized the role of the Catholic Church and how it has promoted nine centuries of persecution against women.
Today, she said, there are countries where women are totally enslaved and suffer greatly. Already in the 1970s, she explained, more specific terms emerged, such as femicide, which mainly alludes, from the work that Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde has developed, to the irresponsibility and abandonment of the state in the face of the problem. There are studies that differentiate what is a homicide from a femicide and characterize them.
The director of CENESEX reminds us that the struggles for women’s rights around the world, the feminist movements, and women’s organizations linked to scientific study, have been contributing ways of thinking and acting on these issues, and proposals for laws have been emerging.
(With information from Cubasí)
By Mailenys Oliva Ferrales and Eduardo Palomares Calderón
August 23, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
United by the Sierra Maestra mountain range and the waters of the Cauto River, in the struggles marked by Mariana Grajales, Canducha “la Abanderada”, and more recently by Celia Sánchez and Vilma Espín, the women of Santiago and Granma are now united in this beautiful story woven by the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), in the 60 years they observed this August 23.
It was to Vilma Espín Guillois, a brave and sensitive woman from Santiago, that Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz entrusted the creation and strengthening of the organization destined to work for full gender equality in the new society. This is why the FMC women of her territory made a firm commitment this time to dedicate the Vanguard flag and the national act for the date.
“For all the FMC women of the country it has been a year of intense work -considers Elena Castillo Rodríguez, secretary-general of the FMC in Santiago de Cuba-, first because we started it under the incentive of such an important anniversary, and then because the appearance of the pandemic changed the life of all Cubans and, of course, it imposed the reorientation of our work.
“Based on the Party’s motto in the territory: “With the effort of all, we will win!”, we did the same intensity of work from the Guantanamo border of Yerba de Guinea to the Granmense of Baire, and that allowed us to declare all the municipalities (9) as Vanguards, and to seal that result at the level of the country.
Based on the solid tradition that has kept it in the vanguard in recent years, Granma was very close, achieving vanguard status in ten of its 13 municipalities. It wa, a challenge that, according to the Secretary General, María Elena Hechavarría Carralero, was focused on strengthening its grassroots structures and community action.
“We are one of the links that the enemy imagines with weaknesses to try to distort the reality of the Island, but, considered by Fidel as well as by Raúl and Díaz-Canel, as bastions in each project undertaken, we have taken all the spaces to demonstrate that women are an essential force in the sovereignty of the Nation”.
THE VITAL HEARTBEAT OF SOCIETY
For most of the 412,500 FMCers in Santiago and the 325,000 in Granma, one of the most important, humane and beautiful activities of recent times has been the challenge taken on from the COVID-19 pandemic, because not only was it to make thousands of nasobucos, but they also provided the fabric and thread, and then went to donate them in the neighborhoods, squares and workplaces.
In both territories, they also went voluntarily to the health control points, to the sanitation and hygienization of public areas, to the house-to-house investigation and, without thinking twice, not a few young people took the step to contribute in what was necessary in the red zone of hospitals and centers of isolation of suspects.
Perhaps there is something more emotional,” says Castillo Rodriguez, “than seeing a girl with a pharmacy card or a warehouse notebook buying medicine and food products for a vulnerable person, or for the members of the Federation who took care of the old man who lives alone and brought him the same food prepared for the family.
Our women have grown up during the confrontation with COVID-19,” says Hechavarría Carralero, “because they did not wait to be called, they began to spontaneously deploy initiatives and we generalized and brought them together so that their impact would be greater, and all this has had the moral recognition that contributes to new efforts.
Within this complex situation, both leaders agreed that the scourge of gender violence that has wounded the world so much, has not been an embarrassing problem for their respective territories, since the Women’s and Family Orientation Centers work preventively, and a differentiated work has been done in dysfunctional nuclei.
Through specialists, talks have taken place aimed at promoting family unity and curbing the tendency to burden women with domestic tasks. At the same time, through dozens of training programs, the FMC has held training courses in socially useful activities for women and men who are not working.
In this way, including in recent days, some of the so-called “choleras” received job offers in the state sector or on their own account, ranging from pharmacy and commerce clerks, technical services, gastronomy, barbers and other trades that reintegrate them with dignity.
IN FRONT OF THE FURROW
According to Castillo Rodríguez, “Hot spots” in her province are the fronts for food production that women share today. This is not because of the complexity of the work, but because of its importance. In addition to facing the pandemic, they moved to gardens and patios to plant short-cycle crops and medicinal plants, which are already bearing fruit.
A lot has been said about the initiative of the food production areas in Santiago,” he explains, “and those structures are already in all the municipalities, where, if in the agricultural ones there is parity between men and women, in the industrial ones the majority of the women are making bread, cookies, candies, preserves and dozens of assorted products.
Currently, the strategy concluded in the Second Front and that goes through the Third Front, is sealing each municipality with the patios incorporated into urban agriculture, and the creation of agreements for pigs, sheep and poultry, attended purely by women or jointly with the family, which provides them with meat, food, grains and vegetables.
The women of Granma also contribute to these forms of agri-food production, their presence in the mobilizations called for, and the empowerment achieved in the labor area, where they make up 67% of the technical force, and assume key management positions, from the base up to all levels.
VALIDITY OF VILMA
Although the Commander-in-Chief considered the full incorporation of women as a Revolution within the Revolution, among the greatest teachings bequeathed by Vilma Espín is the defense of rights and the work she has conquered. This is why Santiagueras and Granmenses are now equally focused on confronting social indiscipline.
Her actions in the face of coleros, resellers and hoarders range from preventive work with people characterized by that anti-social behavior in the community, which has made it possible to detect soluble dysfunctional problems and the incorporation of 12 cases to work in Santiago de Cuba, to the support to order in the lines [in from of] commercial establishments.
Elena Castillo and María Elena Hechavaría emphasize the enthusiasm with which the FMCers have received the respective recognitions as vanguard and outstanding women. There is in a 60th anniversary celebrated in all the municipalities, in centers such as hospitals and of textile clothing, with high presence of women, and of course in the base.
In a special way, the Vilma Espín Memorial, located in the house where she lived and matured as a revolutionary, by turning it into a meeting point and even a staff for young clandestine fighters, once again hosted the Vilma en la memoria workshop, with the presentation of 28 research papers from the provinces of Granma and Santiago de Cuba, on the extraordinary woman.
Coinciding with the date and in view of the impossibility, due to the COVID-19, of the desired mass mobilization, a representation of the municipality of Segundo Frente paid homage to the eternal President of the FMC, Vilma Espín Guillois, in the name of Cuban woman, and before the rock monument that in the mausoleum to the heroes and martyrs of the II Eastern Front receives its ashes.
By Julio César Sánchez Guerra
July 29, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This coronavirus that goes around the world, brings us some lessons and challenges. There are ancient truths that sometimes remain hidden in the agility of the days. These are some of them: sickness can knock at the door of the prince or the beggar; man’s life is fragile, and we all have, as an increasingly connected species, a common destiny. That, in a way, reminds us of César Pavesse’s dramatic verse: “Death has a look for everyone”.
Overwhelming were the images of empty cities in the midst of quarantine. It seemed as if a flutist had taken away the inhabitants of a town, or that we were leaning out of a window that let us see clip from one those science fiction images in dystopian and apocalyptic societies.
There are countries where human health is just another commodity; where a test to determine whether someone is a carrier of the virus could cost $3,000. Is that true? And how do those who have no health insurance manage? COVID-19 lays bare the structural flaws of social systems, where people are the screws of the great machinery that produces millions of dollars for a few, and poverty for many.
Now the virus is also an examination of ethics; selfishness makes its trenches, lies and morbidity run through the social networks exacerbating panic and uncertainty, and solidarity is a bit of fire that survives the drizzle.
How beautiful was the scene of the Italians singing as a chorus from their balconies! It is as if they were contaminated by the virus of collective happiness, of laughter, or that mystery of love that cannot be defeated in the best of peole.
That’s why Evangelina, in Havana, took three of her sheets and turned them into nasobucos for anyone who needs them, no matter who is a stranger. And a ship, where there were people carrying the virus, was given permission, despite the risks, to enter a Cuban port for humanity, and then sent them all home by plane.
Perhaps for Cubans, the biggest problem has been how to avoid hugs, effusive greetings, that habit of affection that identifies us as much as an identity card. It’s just is that we are used to rolling over in a conga, even after that cyclone that blows us away; to throwing the domino on the table to sing a capicua; to dance casino or to argue about a ball in a corner.
Today we still need that distance that this terrible disease forced us into. In spite of the phases that put the country on the road to a new normality, it is still necessary to delay the overdose of affection; to continue the truce by talking to us so closely; to extend the rest to the squeezes of euphoria. We still need to greet each other with closed fists, with forearms, with that gesture, which is not ours, of bowing like someone going to a judo match, or retiring from the tatami.
Let’s give ourselves one more time. Everything has its time. We are winning, but let’s not be in a hurry to go back to the burden of divided hugs, to that mania of walking mixed up in the noise and the affections. Let responsibility and patience dominate our actions, so that the unwanted return of the virus, in the form of carelessness, does not destroy love, optimism or desire.
Let us keep an open book so that, later on, we can fill it with hands that squeeze, in this Island where joy lives on guard.
Racism, whose historical cause lies in the pursuit of the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it.
By Ernesto Estévez Rams
July 5, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The kidnapping of the black from the white is not exclusive to a single country with a slave-owning or slavery-like past; rather, it is the rule. In Cuba, it can even be sought from what is sometimes considered our first literary work, Mirror of Patience, written by an acriolated canary. [from the Canary Islands]
The story, in the words of Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, is an aesthetic recreation of a lie and, at the same time, the creation of a myth. The first, associated with the fact that the work tries to hide the context of smuggling that causes the events portrayed; the second refers to the intention of enhancing the heroism of the Bayamese Creoles.
But it can also be read in other ways. In the work, black appears, fundamentally in the figure of Salvador Golomón, an “Ethiopian worthy of praise”, who puts an end to the unfortunate life of the buccaneer Gilberto Girón, kidnapper of Bishop Cabezas de Altamirano. With this courageous action, the black man achieves his freedom. Salvador’s virtue, in the eyes of Silvestre de Balboa, author of the poem, is to have served the white masters courageously in a battle for commercial reasons – for a traffic from which he did not benefit at all – in which he was only a participant in his condition as a slave. Black was seen through the eyes of white, this time in his utilitarian function.
Racism, whose historical cause lies in the search for the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it. It endures over time beyond the elimination of the explicit or implicit laws that codify it, beyond the economic relations that need racism. And discrimination is not completely stopped unless the cultural fabric that supports it and which, in many cases, forms part of the structural core of countries is also stopped.
Nations such as the Cuban were shaped from the Christian Eurocentric with a significant racist component. Significant actors in the formation of this nationality saw the black as a factor of social backwardness. The Creole elites justified concrete proposals for eugenics and other more genocidal proposals.
Such racist positions, whether in their most extreme or most paternalistic variants, were the norm among defenders of the colony, annexationists, reformers, or autonomists. But racism was also present in pro-independence sectors, despite our most distinquich heroes and the profoundly anti-slavery roots of our deeds. Martí’s preaching of thinking of an inclusive and peerless republic in all its ethnic diversity did not mean by far the acceptance of an anti-racist stance by the frustrated society that emerged from the war of independence.
The intervening power favored actors who shared its anti-black vision. From the elites, Cuba’s progress was to “whitewash” it, appealing equally to processes of “advancing the race” by means of mestizaje, as to relegating the black “to his place”. Such ideas, projected from the class hegemony of the subordinate bourgeoisie of imperial power, were also used as a mechanism of fear to justify violence against components of the humble masses of whites, blacks and mestizos. They were used to justify crimes like the killing of thousands of Black people during the 1912 uprising. The fear of the Black people, which had been stirred up as a mechanism of domination in the colony, was transferred to the nascent republic for the same purpose.
The black, in the neo-colonial republican design that emerged, was a symbol of incivility, backwardness, and a hindrance to the nation’s progress. Its culture was not such, it was ignorant, lascivious, perverse and incompetent, and to the same extent that its rebellious presence in authentic Cuba was unstoppable, it made more of an effort to create its “white”, “civilized” variant, whether in music, theater or literature. That perspective is still there in sectors of the Cuban social imaginary, even after 60 years of systematic effort to change it from the political power that the Revolution gave to the dispossessed, including in them the black.
Any process of gestation of the national, essentially symbolic, necessarily generates an organic intellectuality to that effort. We know the white intelligentsia, most of them representatives of sectors of the owning class within the Creole population. The memory of the black woman was largely lost, either through the lack of her own written testimony or through an exercise that she sought to forget. But, although recovering it for the social imaginary is difficult, we have the emancipatory duty to continue doing so. We still have a debt to the Aponte of our history and we will not succeed in crowning our aspirations until we pay it off.
These shortcomings persist despite years of effort to study the country’s black roots and the intellectuals who have made and continue to make this study the reason for their scientific endeavors. Studies to which the Revolution managed to incorporate the Black himself from his literate empowerment, as a prying into his past and shaping his history. This systematic effort to discover our Black history has not been accompanied by the same success, in spite of all the progress that has been made there too, in its incorporation into the educational systems. Nor is the generation of tangible and intangible symbols of that memory sufficient.
Beyond laws and concrete efforts to eliminate the economic and social roots of racism, the Revolution set in motion gigantic cultural decolonization processes that are still in progress today. Entire spaces in society acquired dark colors, especially in artistic culture, but far beyond it. Never before in the history of this country has a more monumental effort been made to incorporate the Black, not as something grafter on, but as an essential part of the trunk of what is Cuban. This was done at the same time as the methodological tools were being developed to achieve this, based on the urgency of taking the sky by storm here too. Like all emancipatory social processes, much was achieved in a very short time and it was also erred as a result of doing and, also, not doing enough.
The special period, with the social and economic processes that it unleashed, gave rise to processes of re-marginalization of tangible and symbolic areas of Cuban society that joined others that had never ceased to be marginal, where the Black presence is marked. This pointed to structural problems of inequality or vulnerability, associated with skin color, which have not been resolved in our society. Racism is still present in Cuba today, because it underlies, often dormant, in the social consciousness of not a few compatriots and is invisible in not a few social and even institutional spaces.
Today, the symbolic marginalization has as a new component the influence of colonizing globalization. It is in this context that the fight against racism in Cuba also acquires even more peremptory connotations and scope, as part of the common cultural front against the onslaught to which we are subjected as a nation.
We also see this marginalization in the loss of civility reflected in reprehensible social attitudes, the rise of misogynistic lyrics in songs and other manifestations. When this phenomenon occurs, the underlying racism tends to re-visit it in terms of race: the Black is antisocial, the Black is the ill-mannered, the Black is the uncivilized… This image is reflected in common places that persist among us, such as when it is associated with doing things right with “let’s do it like whites” or when a person is reproached for behaving like “a Black man”.
In our current society, wide spaces, where racism has been defeated, coexist with others where it persists and expands. We can proudly see tremendous advances in this fight against racism: firstly, its banishment as a phenomenon inherent to a capitalist society, but we also have to recognize its stubborn permanence as a real social phenomenon.
We recognize our formal dress, symbolically legitimized for protocol and official acts, in the very Cuban guayabera, but also in the jacket and tie imported from white and symbolically exclusive Europe, and none other. We do not incorporate into the garments accepted as formal the beautiful clothes of our African heritage. It is a simple and “innocent” example of all those symbolic dimensions of racism that go unnoticed among us.
Some monuments erected in the bourgeois neo-colonial republic have not been adequately intervened to re-describe them in the light of an anti-colonial and revolutionary vision of our history.
We carry with us the consequences of those centuries in which the Black, culturally speaking, was forcibly inserted into a society shaped from the white and its codes. Their culture, as an everyday attitude, is still seen by many as peripheral, another reality not incorporated into a supposed white root; it is perceived as a culture of folklore. It persists in segregating certain social behaviors, such as Black behaviors. The most explicit reaction on the part of those attacked to this symbolic aggression is then reduced by some to a supposed threat to social coexistence.
A relentless struggle must be waged, on the real economic, social and cultural levels, against racism, which not only persists but threatens to advance. It must be fought with the tools that we have used and are using in all these years of immense and insufficient effort. We have a tremendous arsenal of ideas that we didn’t have before, which is also the result of what has been done since the Revolution, and which we can and must incorporate into this battle, the one we owe to all the Salvador Golomóns of our history. They did not fight to reproduce patterns of exploitation, but to open up paths to seek full human potential. We owe it to ourselves, regardless of color, all the children equally of Martí and Maceo, of Camilo and Almeida.
On the website of our newspaper, readers denounce, in addition to the resales, the effects suffered by the environment for their “campsites” in parks and sidewalks that count among papers and cans their shameless.
By Walkiria Juanes Sánchez
July 27, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Queues and “coleros” abound in these months of COVID-19 in Cuba. They move in full view of everyone: those who mark two and three times, for several people, with the aim of selling their stuff to those who can pay high prices for rushing their time to buy. And there are also those who whisper in your ear that they have whatever you want (wet wipes, baby wipes, chicken, picadillo, oil, splits, refrigerators…), but only if you are willing to pay double, triple or who knows what number in CUC above their price in state stores. Then, to expand the resale, they even use the internet.
Like a ray of light in the midst of the global crisis, with its impacts on the internal market and the economic persecutions due to the blockade that increases the national crisis, a note from the Ministry of the Interior recently revived public debate on the subject, stating that more than 1,285 “coleros” had been sanctioned in Cuba since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In view of this figure, which in the opinion of some will increase if the gravity of the situation is taken into account, the indolence of people without social commitment, dedicated to the transfer of products necessary for families, in the midst of a context of lack of supplies and national health emergency, comes to public attention.
One could come to doubt the humanity of these beings who, moved by individualism, forget that children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick will not have the opportunity to obtain what they need.
On our newspaper’s website, readers denounce, in addition to the resalers, the effects suffered by the environment due to their “camping” in parks and sidewalks that count among papers and cans their shamelessness.
In the case of the severity of the sanctions that these individuals receive, diverse were the petitions to correct, energetically, these types of acts. Remember, the majority of those punished by the law only received fines of one hundred to 300 quotas, a minimum amount compared to the profits generated by the collapse of the sales system in the stores and the hoarding of products.
The so-called “lists”, supposedly created to organize the queues with tickets, numbers and shifts, also cover up the activity of the “coleros”, many of whom are the same organizers of the queues in the shops from the early hours of the morning.
If the authorities already have an identity card scanning system that allows for the order and control of this process, it should be used in the best possible way so as not to leave places available for other modalities.
Control within the stores should also be improved. An efficient service depends, in addition, on the organization and rapidity at the time of collecting the products, the personalized treatment to the client and the administrative vigilance towards the workers, demands that are frequently repeated.
Some people have proposed the use of the ration book [the libreta] as a mechanism to control the distribution of products in times of crisis like these. Something that has already been explained, since the country does not have the millions of dollars needed to carry out such a distribution.
Many other citizens request a greater supply in the stores, despite the effort that it means for the country to maintain them and in view of which alternatives for their re-supply have been generated.
The issue is not new. Among the greatest discontent is that the coleros still exist and cloud a trade already hit by the crisis and the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States. The cooperation of all could be the key to success in putting an end to the speculators, but greater control and a more effective complaint mechanism are needed, The will of the people is evident.
Now that Belarus is facing a plot from the West, the warning to avoid the worst may be a reflective look at what happened in neighboring Ukraine, or what is being attempted to impose on Bolivarian Venezuela, or more recently, the coup against suffering Bolivia, after years of vindication and boom
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Author: Elson Concepción Pérez | firstname.lastname@example.org
August 31, 2020 22:08:46
Also in politics there is the rear-view mirror, the one that must be observed at every moment, if the destinies of a country are being conducted, to warn when a premeditated collision can attack a work.
Now that Belarus is facing a plot from the West, the warning to avoid the worst may be a reflexive look at what happened in neighboring Ukraine, or what is being tried to impose in Bolivarian Venezuela, or more recently, the blow against suffering Bolivia, after years of vindication and boom.
Let’s look at the examples. First of all, Venezuela, which on Sunday, May 20, 2018, democratically and transparently elected Nicolás Maduro as president.
According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), with over 98% of the ballots counted, Maduro obtained 6,190,612 votes (67.8%), while in second place was the opposition candidate and former Governor Henri Falcón, with 1,917,036 votes (21%).
The plan planned from Washington was then applied: to ignore the elections and the elected president.
A few months later, on January 23, 2019, in the midst of the chaos created by terrorist groups encouraged by radical sectors of the opposition, Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela. Quickly the government of Donald Trump, the Organization of American States (OAS) of Luis Almagro, the so-called “Lima Group”, an appendix of the latter, and other governments, mainly European, “recognized” the impostor Guaidó.
However, courage, dignity and political guidance, have put up a retaining wall, headed by civil-military unity, which the empire fears so much.
In the case of Bolivia, general elections were held on October 20, 2019. With 100 % of the votes counted, Evo Morales obtained an irrevocable victory in the first round, with 47.08 % in his favor, while his rival, Carlos Mesa, reached 36.51 %.
Then, a divided opposition burst in with all its strength, but capable of uniting in efforts such as that of removing Morales from power. With the support of military and oligarchic sectors, opposition groups with a fascist tendency took to the streets. Meanwhile the OAS, with its Secretary-General Luis Almagro at the head, and fulfilling a script prepared by the US State Department, questioned the results and encouraged chaos and repression against the party in power and its leaders, in the first place against President Evo Morales, who had to leave the country.
Then came the verification of the votes at the polls and the confirmation by international entities of their total transparency. But the coup d’état was already underway and a de facto government was taking power. In the case of Belarus, the script prepared by the West was no different. Presidential elections were held and when the vote was counted, the current president, Alexander Lukashenko, obtained 80.23% of the votes, while the opposition candidate Svetlana Tijanovskaya, only received 9.9% of the votes.
The difference was overwhelming and convincing, but, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week, everything was ready long before the election results were known.
Using NATO as a threatening military force, men and means of combat have been moved to Poland’s borders with Belarus, and to the also neighboring republics of Lithuania and Latvia, as sounding boards to incite bewilderment. Washington has moved its military from bases in Germany to Poland and has applied sanctions and threat mechanisms similar to those used in the cases cited in this commentary.
The European Union, too, which has ignored the election results without any real evidence, is already demonstrating this practice of sanctioning those who do not submit to what the West says.
As happened in Ukraine in 2014, the world must know that the plan prepared by the United States is directed against Russia, and for that reason, they want to cut economic, military, family and other ties. This is done under the false pretext of extricating Moscow’s influence in nations that were once part of the then Soviet Union, and that have a strong bond with Russia.
Putin warned that “his nation cannot observe with indifference what is happening in Belarus, because it is a very similar country in linguistic, cultural and religious aspects, and many others”.
“The problems that have arisen today in Belarus must be solved peacefully”, “or with the support of Russian force, if necessary”, Putin assured.