Granma today commemorates the 59th anniversary of the National Revolutionary Militias with the story of Idolka Sanchez, the militia face Korda immortalized with his lens in 1962.
Author: Alejandra García Elizalde | firstname.lastname@example.org
October 25, 2018 21:10:37
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the crowd of that May 1, 1962, a young photographer focused on the still-adolescent face of Idolka Sánchez as she marched in front of the José Martí Memorial in Havana.
She, one of the nearly 2,000 militiawomen of the Lidia Doce women’s battalion, saw him approach, camera in hand. He didn’t seem to care about anything else. It was as if he had seen her from afar and didn’t want to let her go without obsessively capturing her image. He chose her.
“The man whose name, Korda, I had barely heard, was the same man who, in March 1960, had immortalized Che’s face with his mane in the wind, during the burial of the victims of the La Coubre terrorist attack. He ordered her to “put the machine gun up”. His order was followed by several clicks of his camera and, in a matter of seconds, she disappeared.
When she had forgotten the incident, he returned that same morning. Korda wanted to repeat two new shots. She did not want to capture just one face or one image. He was looking for a symbol, and he found it. The next day the photo went from one end of the island to the other on the cover of the Revolución newspaper.
“I felt an emotion that I cannot describe. It was not vanity, but eternal gratitude. I never thought about the transcendence of that image,” Idolka Sánchez Moreno told Granma.
Fifty-six years after that encounter with Korda, the image known as “La Miliciana” endures. The sun on her face, the severe look focused on the horizon, her embrace to the rifle that points to the sky, the beret tilted …
Today, Idolka preserves the late beauty of the 22-year-old girl who was in those early and intense times of Revolution. “I will never forget that it was a beautiful, clear morning, similar to today. I didn’t expect that it would attract the attention of any photographer, being surrounded by so many women. My main interest that day was the possibility of parading in front of the Commander in Chief,” she says.
It would take years for Idolka and Korda to meet again, after “La Miliciana” became an iconic image and adorned banners, postcards, photographic exhibitions, and appeared on the walls of workplaces and embassies. Few people know that she was the young woman in the photo.
“I remember one day, walking with my sister to work, a woman saw “La Miliciana” hanging in the window of an establishment. She, a few steps away, said, without knowing that we were listening: “Look at that, surely she left the country and yet they have her everywhere. My sister confronted her, but finally we decided to continue on our way.
She joined the Militias as soon as they were created: “I came from a family that supported every step of the revolutionaries through the Sierra, and my destiny could not be any other. I studied Law at the University, I have dedicated all my life to my country and today my two children are photographers”, remembers Idolka.
Almost two decades after that May Day, in 1981, he saw Korda again. Muchacha magazine arranged a reunion between him and “La Miliciana”.
“It was very emotional, but I never expected any recognition. That was his work. I was only an occasional model, discovered in the middle of the parade, one of so many young people who proudly wore the most beautiful of all the costumes, that of the militia.
From that meeting in front of Revolution Square on May 1, 1962, Korda once recalled that “I had been looking for hours with my camera in the crowd. The Lidia Doce women’s battalion attracted me and I captured many gestures. But in revealing only one was the indisputable one: the militia woman with the rifle held high and such a decision in her eyes that I said to myself: this is the Cuban warrior, the woman in the defense of the homeland.
Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, better known as Alberto Korda (September 14, 1928-May 25, 2001), is one of the great photographers of all time, with a body of work that forms part of the symbolic imaginary of the Cuban Revolution.
“La Miliciana”, the instant that captured the purity and strength of women at an exceptional moment in national history, was one of his most beloved portraits. “It is a photo that will survive us,” said Korda. Future generations will admire our eternally young militia. And so it was.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
He went to war in Vietnam and did so at ease, convinced that by bombing the people of that country he was helping the greatness of the United States, while striking blows against communism, then identified as the Soviet Union.
This is Senator John McCain, who died recently at the age of 81, who at only 31 was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Navy and on October 26, 1967, during an action against the Vietnamese population, the fighter jet he flew was shot down by a Soviet-made missile during his 23rd mission to the north of the Asian nation.
After their physical disappearance, due to cancer, not a few stories and fables have been spread to the world by the big media. An attempt has even been made to establish a supposed critical stance against the current president, Donald Trump.
Little or nothing, however, is brought to the international community’s attention regarding the war against Vietnam and the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese deaths, many of them from Agent Orange, a toxic chemical used savagely by Washington.
The war in Vietnam – I am sure – scarred this man of war and the system he represented, not only for the five years he was a prisoner of the Vietnamese army. In this regard, the period of time between his death and the broadcast by the media of the most varied lies, exhibits as an example those that stand out in the supposed “torture” that the U.S. military suffered.
Today the mainstream media highlights one aspect of McCain’s posthumous letter, in which he emphasizes the the deceased’s recommendation that Americans not hide behind walls. “It’s a veiled critique of Donald Trump,” reports the northern nation.
It is also recalled that whoever was a candidate in the 2008 elections, had numerous public confrontations with Trump despite being colleagues in the Republican Party. In his posthumous letter he calls for understanding between different positions.
As an example of the media’s treatment of the death, John McCain lived at a time when the political, military and cultural power of the United States was unrivalled in the world.
The Republican senator was born a few years before World War II and came to adulthood at the dawn of the United States becoming a global superpower. “Now he is leaving during what is, perhaps, the twilight of U.S. domination as the nation focuses inward, concerned about the potential risks and challenges of immigration, multilateralism and the global economy,” says Anthony Zurcher, BBC correspondent in Washington, D.C.
Another issue that has not escaped the media hype has to do with the occupation of McCain’s Senate seat and the references that his widow, Cindy, will be the nominee, since an Arizona state law – very “democratic” in the style of the United States, by the way – determines that it is the governor who appoints his replacement until 2020.
Although there has been little time between the death of the former U.S. military man who bombed Vietnam and the media coverage with its excesses and adulterations, would it not be too much to ask that, in moments of recollection like this, at least remember what happened in Vietnam.
Or is it that the truth may be different when it comes to the United States?
About the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs and the growing debate over the legalization of the most widely used illicit drug in the world, Granma spoke with the renowned professor Dr. Ricardo A. Gonzalez Menendez, consultant of the service for comprehensive care of addictions at the Havana Psychiatric Hospital and Chairman of the National Medical Ethics Committee.
Author: Lisandra Fariñas Acosta | email@example.com
June 25, 2015 23:06:32
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
For more than 6000 years, the world has known Cannabis sativa and the history of human consumption dates back some 5500 years. Of Asian origin, Cannabis Indicus –its common name- was used for centuries as a textile fiber and its seeds as bird feed. It is marijuana, whose effects were initially considered scarcely dangerous and therapeutically useful, which placed it in the frontline of medications thousands of years ago, but which today are recognized as catastrophic.
It seems paradoxical that in the 21st Century, “the debate over this plant and its effects resembles that of 2000 years ago, the date of Proverbs that clearly indicate divided opinions. For some, marijuana was a passport to paradise, while for others it was a plant that grew along the road to hell. It is extremely worrying that we are now at the same point, when marijuana is a hard drug which is included, along with alcohol and other substances, among the first psychoactive substances capable of significantly transforming human behavior.”
Marijuana is a hard drug which is included, together with alcohol and others, among the first psychoactive substances capable of significantly transforming human behavior.”
This reflection was given to Granma by Dr. Ricardo A. Gonzalez Menendez, consultant of the service for comprehensive care of addictions at Havana Psychiatric Hospital and Chair of the National Medical Ethics Committee when commenting on the current trend around “the ghost” of legalizing marijuana, the most widely-used illegal drug in the whole world.
With over 30 years experience in the treatment and detoxification of addicts, the professor said it was urgent to destroy myths with facts that are established science. There is enough up to date scientific information on the outbreak of schizophrenia, cognitive impairment, carcinogenicity and sudden violence caused by marijuana consumption.
“One argument that has contributed to the legalizing trend is the therapeutic properties attributed to the plant. The list of positive effects range from the attenuation of nausea and vomiting associated with cytostatic serums in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, references to some decrease in seizure frequency and the intraocular pressure in glaucoma cases, up to analgesic effects and appetite control as well as tranquilizing action, despite being one of the drugs most associated with symptoms of acute anxiety or panic,” said the expert.
Although the macroeconomic and social impact of organized crime is indisputable, proponents of legalization, cannot, by their professional profile, assess the impact at home, work and community of the cerebral effects of this drug that blocks the rational brain and releases the more primitive structures and functions”
Precisely –he said– what happens is that for all these cases there are specific and more effective medications with the huge advantage of being much safer when applying the ethical principle of risk-benefit. “Marijuana, like tobacco, alcohol and all the hard drugs are not isolated and purified active principles, but mixtures of hundreds of chemicals with different effects, often opposite and usually harmful. From this, it follows that the use of the drug as medicine would require a pharmacological high-tech process to demonstrate, separate and produce adequate presentations for consumption, dosage and control of both positive and adverse effects. The final product would be tablets, vials or eye drops and not the absolutely anti-medical way that has been proposed for its use, which is the traditional form of illegal consumption simply growing and smoking marijuana either in the form of leaves, flowers and stems, as resin (hashish) or oil obtained through the same procedures as those used by narco producers and drug traffickers.”
The interviewee said that many honestly think that legalizing this drug is a solution –among them people with high human qualities, but with limited knowledge of the neuro-psycho-physical pathology and the personal, home and community impact of behavior modifying drugs, as well as the micro-paradigms of risk-benefit and accessibility–consumption implicit in such a measure. “They do not know the true face of drugs. Few have been able to interview a patient who feels enslaved wanting to stop using and being powerless, nor a desperate mother who has gone out with a gun to kill the seller who supplied his son, and who is a codependent, almost passive consumer hurt by the addict’s suffering.”
There is enough up-to-date scientific information on the outbreak of schizophrenia, cognitive impairment, carcinogenicity and sudden violence caused by marijuana consumption.”
For Dr. González Menéndez, the contradiction between these two tendencies is not based on lack of human values or the dubious ethics of the proponents, but in lack of knowledge. “Although the macro-economic and social impact of organized crime is indisputable, proponents of legalization cannot by their professional profile, assess the impact at home, work and community of the cerebral effects of this drug, that blocks the rational brain and frees the most primitive structures and functions. It is also naive to expect a reduction of consumption by eliminating the ”attraction of the forbidden” he remarked.
“Consuming marijuana before age 18 reduces up to 10 IQ points, and that is irreversible”
If marijuana is an illegal drug (like many others) it is not by chance but because the extensive damage it causes has been established. “The myth that it is a soft drug without determinant effects of addiction and dependency must be destroyed. Far from it, the percentage of consumers who become addicted and dependent, the little time it takes for that slavery to settle in and the great risks to determine symptoms of irreversible intellectual impairment, treatment-resistant schizophrenia, cannibalistic behaviors and cancer manifestations make marijuana quite hard and destructive drug which can by no means be underestimated. It produces moderate dementia with memory and learning difficulties in adolescents, especially those who began to consume early,” he said.
Professor González Menéndez argues that in today’s science, it is irrefutable what happens in the brain of a human being under the influence of these drugs. “Drugs that modify behavior in a relevant way, that is, from alcohol on, have immediate effects. In mid- and long terms, when consumption is addictive and prolonged, they cause impulsive and irrational instinctive-affective behaviors that are exclusive to animals. This has very little to do with the humanism, ethics and spirituality that everyone expects. “
It is marijuana –even more than the non-social use of alcohol– the true prototype of the “Russian roulette” metaphor in which no one can know for sure when the bullet will fall into the chamber; and when that happens, the effects are usually fatal
“The misuse of these substances implies a profound moral degradation, with the potential to become chronic in the individual case, but it has a generalization potential that would turn it into a macro-social phenomenon of very high relevance, because, when sober, our behavior is cognitive, volitional, rational and controlled. This also brings down the belief that marijuana does not generate violence or criminality. “
The history of these 6000 years of living with marijuana has given exemplary lessons.
Clinical and research experience shows that the much-propagandized ‘consumer placidity’ often and unpredictably is transformed into extreme violence. Therefore, marijuana –even more than the non-social use of alcohol– is the true prototype of the “Russian roulette” metaphor: no one can know with certainty when the bullet falls into the chamber, and when this happens, the effects are usually fatal.
The history of these 6000 years of living with marijuana has given exemplary lessons. Our interviewee remembers that in the early eighteenth century there was an English doctor, O’Shaughnessy, who traveled to India and returned amazed at marijuana’s analgesic properties. He was so enthusiastic that with his influence he managed to get marijuana introduced in the pharmacopoeia of his country. This trend reached the United States. A decade later, England declared it was a mistake to have this substance (“a product with so many dangers”) in their list of medications. A few years later, the United States eliminated it and subsequently, India did the same.
Finally, since 1971, the use of cannabis was controlled through the “Illicit Drugs Act” which prohibited the medical use of both the weed and its active constituents. Its nefarious actions on the human body had eclipsed its possible medical uses. This criterion was emphatically endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1997, recognizing that cannabis adversely affects mental health.
The legalization of marijuana is far from being an accurate blow to drug trafficking, and so, as organized crime, how long would it take to replace and compensate the product for other designer drugs?
Physician Jacques Moreau, quoted by Escohotado, had described in 1973 his experiences resulting from the self-administration of an infusion of Sativa Cannabis flowers. He described eight main symptoms observed under the influence of the substance: “Unexplained feelings of happiness, dissociation of ideas, errors in assessing time and space, exacerbation of hearing, fixed ideas, disturbance of emotions, irresistible impulses and delusions or hallucinations”. He suggested that, in some cases, the intoxication caused by this drug could be considered a pattern of psychiatric illness.
The idea that ending the ban would end the lure of the forbidden, and reduce consumption, is absolutely anti-historic. The specialist says that it would be enough to remember London in 1751 when a phenomenon called the gin epidemic inspired Hogarth’s Gin Alley engraving. The work is expressive of the catastrophic effects derived from a certain overproduction of grains diverted to the production of the most genuine and legal drink of the time in that country. A 90% reduction of gin’s price created a flood of eager buyers who –as shown in the engraving– committed every imaginable crime. The consumption of this drink was multiplied by more than five and the tragedy transpired to this day.
Dr. González Menéndez says the legalization of marijuana is far from being a real blow to drug trafficking because organized crime would soon replace the product and compensate with other designer drugs. Can we ignore the consequent risk of a chain of effects that in the long run would make us face the dilemma of having to legalize all drugs, and the resulting immediate extinction of the human species?
The specialist says that the trend –defended by many on the grounds of the right of each person to choose how to live their lives– imposes a reflection: “Doesn’t that right end where the rights of others begin? And what about the cost to the family, and bystanders who die in traffic accidents due to marijuana or other drugs such as ecstasy? Isn’t legalization of marijuana a first step, by necessity consistent with the promotional efforts of health and healthy lifestyles, the promotion of moral values, of prevention of disease and crime, as well as the creation of a better world? Can we thus achieve cultures of higher spirituality, and dismissive of the consumption of substances that degrade our biological, psychological, social and cultural well-being? Can the problem of drug abuse be solved by legalizing consumption without creating truly effective multi-sector systems for the care and comprehensive solution of the multiple effects of drug abuse?”
We live in a world where young people tend to experiment. We fear legalization will determine most unfavorable results once the drug is free from family, school and community censure –together with the higher addictive nature of marijuana compared to alcohol.
Tobacco and alcohol should have taught us something. If with only two legal drugs in the world we lose more than nine million lives each year, do we need another legal drug? Drugs –that do not respect anything, not age or gender, or skin color or culture, ideology, sexual preference or philosophical position– open the doors to more drugs. The success of anti-drug programs depends on our awareness that these toxic substances are a system of substances that associate and reinforce their actions. This demands the indispensable confrontation with all its categories. We must remember the universal principle that the greater the access, the greater the consumption.
According to the World Drug Report 2014, the use of these substances continues to cause considerable damage, reflected in the loss of valuable lives and the productive years of many people.
Author: Lisandra Fariñas Acosta | firstname.lastname@example.org
June 26, 2015 00:06:46
This new International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking -–a day that humanity celebrates every June 26– is dedicated to development for our lives, our communities, and our identity in a world without drugs.
This date established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, serves to remind the target agreed by the Member States of the United Nations to create an international society where drugs are not misused. According to the World Drug Report 2014, the use of these substances continues to cause considerable damage, reflected in the loss of valuable lives and the productive years of many people.
“In 2012 an approximate total of 183 000 drug-related deaths were reported (variation margin 95 000-226 000). That figure corresponds to a mortality rate of 40,0 (variation margin: 20.8 to 49.3) deaths per million in the population between 15 and 64 years,” refers the document.
Although this calculation is less than 2011 figures; this reduction can be attributed to the lower number of deaths reported by some countries in Asia.
According to the statistics in this global report it is estimated that in 2012 between 162 and 324 million people, i.e. 3.5% to 7.0% of the population between 15 and 64 years, consumed illicit drugs – mainly cannabis group substances, opium derivatives, cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants– at least once.
This Friday, June 26, the United Nations reminds everyone that we all have a role to play in protecting youth from dangerous substances.
VIENNA, 26 June (UN Information Service) – In September, leaders from around the world will meet at the United Nations to adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda to eradicate extreme poverty and provide a life of dignity for all. This ambition, while achievable, must address various obstacles, including the deadly harm to communities and individuals caused by drug trafficking and drug abuse.
Our shared response to this challenge is founded on the international drug control conventions. In full compliance with human rights standards and norms, the United Nations advocates a careful re-balancing of the international policy on controlled drugs. We must consider alternatives to the criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies.
We must address the nexus between illicit drugs and violence, corruption and terrorism. A balanced approach recognizes the close connections between those who traffic in drugs and criminal networks involved in firearms smuggling, kidnapping, human trafficking and other crimes. This work must also include redoubling efforts to prevent the supply of the precursor chemicals that are the foundation of so many illicit drugs.
Promoting international cooperation through the UN conventions on transnational organized crime and corruption is essential to addressing today’s security and development challenges. No criminal should escape justice. The balanced approach calls for unity of purpose within the international community, including the UN, civil society and, most importantly, the world’s nations. No country can work in isolation. Comprehensive and integrated efforts at the local, regional and global levels offer the best hope for dealing with the traffickers, while taking care to protect vulnerable groups and marginalized communities.
Efforts against illicit drugs must be connected to our work to promote opportunities through equitable and sustainable development. We must continually strive to make the weak and fragile stronger. The United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem, to be held in April 2016, can advance this cause, with countries sharing knowledge and forging common solutions.
On the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, let us raise awareness about the value of applying a balanced approach to these problems based on an understanding that sustainable development can and must catalyze change across all these fronts.
Original print edition in PDF:
“Tell me about your mother”, was the request of journalist Ignacio Ramonet to Fidel
Author: Fidel Castro Ruz | email@example.com
August 12, 2018 18:08:16
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
She brought into the world seven children, all born in that house, always assisted by a rural midwife. There was never and could never be a doctor there, it did not exist in all that remote region. No one tried so hard to get her children to study, she wanted for them what she didn’t have. Without her, I, who always felt the pleasure of studying, would still be functionally illiterate today. My mother, even if she didn’t say it every minute, loved her children. She had character, she was brave and self-sacrificing. He knew how to bear with integrity and without hesitation the sufferings that some of us involuntarily caused her.
She accepted the Agrarian Reform and the distribution of those lands, which she undoubtedly loved, without bitterness.
Extremely religious in her faith and beliefs, which I have always respected, she found comfort in her sorrow as a mother, and she also accepted with motherly love the Revolution for which she suffered so much, without having had the slightest possibility of knowing the history of humanity and the deepest causes that the events she experienced so closely in Cuba and in the world originated, due to her origin as a humble poor peasant woman.
She died on August 6, 1963, three and a half years after the triumph of the Revolution.
The Government of Cuba handed over to U.S. government authorities on Thursday, August 9, the U.S. citizen Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, who is wanted by the U.S. justice system and who is the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant with a Red Alert, the daily Juventud Rebelde reports.
Author: Digital Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
August 11, 2018 10:08:20
Information published on the CubaMinrex website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba details the following:
On 9 August 2018, the Cuban government handed over to United States government authorities in Havana a US citizen wanted by the US justice system for crimes committed there, who is also facing an Interpol arrest warrant with a Red Alert. This citizen entered the national territory on July 31, 2018.
This action is based on Cuba’s strict compliance with its international legal obligations and existing bilateral agreements with the United States on compliance and enforcement, and the cooperation that both Governments are developing on that front.
Interpol’s Red Alerts refer to people who are being sought by national jurisdictions. What it stipulates is the arrest or provisional arrest of the persons sought for extradition. The legal basis for issuing a Red Alert order is the arrest warrant or judicial decision issued by the judicial authorities of the interested country.
The 16-year-old girl arrested by the Israeli army two weeks ago has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
Author: Ernesto J. Gómez Figueredo | email@example.com
January 5, 2018 01:01:52
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
With curly, thin, brave hair, that’s the image of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl arrested by the Israeli army two weeks ago who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
An Israeli military court charged the teenager with 12 crimes after the incident in which she slapped a Zionist army soldier after he entered her backyard.
Thanks to his family’s filming of the events, images of his resistance went around the world.
Tamimi is one of many minors arrested by the Zionist army for the purpose of being “interrogated” about alleged illegal activities. Army spokesmen confirmed that Ahed is charged with “assaulting a soldier”.
“She argued with the Zionist Defense Forces because her cousin Mohammad, 15, had been shot,” her father said. The Israeli version is that they were “throwing stones”.
According to the Committee for Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs, the number of Palestinians detained by Israeli security forces since US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel on 6 December has risen to 610, including 170 minors.
The young woman lives in Nabi Saleh, 20 kilometers from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. He claims he wants them to see them as fighters, not victims. “Ahed says she does what any Palestinian child does, but she is filmed,” her father said in an article in the Haaretz newspaper.
“I do not want to be identified as a victim, and I will not give your actions the power to define who I am and will be. I choose to decide for myself how you will see me. We don’t want your support because of photogenic tears, but because we choose the fight and the fight is fair. This is going to be the only way we will ever stop crying,” wrote the father, reproducing Ahed’s words.
Tamimi is already an international heroine of the Palestinian cause and after her arrest her mother and cousin were also arrested.
The arrest of the Tamimi family was like the fire that awaited the sleeping powder of the international community to react. For days now, social networks have been flooded with messages calling for the release of mother, daughter and cousin, under the labels #FreeAhedTamimi and #LibertadAhedTamimi.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Ahed’s father, Basem Tamimi, a Fatah militant, and praised the family for “the key role” in the protests in his people against the Israeli occupation and settlements, according to an official statement.
“I can’t think about the future because the Israeli occupation prevents me from thinking about it. When I went to play in the streets, the army would come in and start shooting,” she said.
The international campaign for the liberation of Ahed Tamimi is a new flag against imperialist policy in the Middle East and highlights the crimes committed by the Zionist regime.
Author: Félix López
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
We come today to young Alejandro’s third and most complicated paradox: “If not socialism, what do we have left?” It would seem our young man was looking for an exit on the expressway, but I don’t think so since he already made it clear he goes for a cool socialism. Well? Nothing, I can see he wants and needs to know what the non-socialist option has in store for us. And I will answer him without using the worn-out tale of the Big Bad Capitalistic Wolf devouring the Proletarian Little Red Riding Hood.
What’s at stake is a lot more than a remake of a children’s story: history, maybe life itself; our ecology and future; our happiness and existence. Socialism is all that and even more: the sworn enemy of selfishness and inequality, boundless consumption and violence, warmongering and expansionism, drugs and pornography, a lifestyle based on foolishness and glamour… all synonymous with capitalism, designer of a society where –contrary to Martí’s precepts– the more you have to show off, the more valuable you are; where it’s not how you think but how well you’re dressed and what brand your cell phone is what matters; where people’s worth is measured by their fortune –ergo, the have-nots are not people– and the ID cards have been replaced with credit cards; where a mall is more worshipped than a university; where, according to Eduardo Galeano, to praise a flower you say, “it’s so beautiful you’d think it’s plastic!”
If not socialism, Alejandro, barbarism would be the only option left to us. I’m sure that capitalism would waste no time in presenting us with an oasis of spotless showcases and the mythical junk food franchises would compete for the best spots downtown where they could create a mirage of lights and affluence, as they did in the former USSR… and all the while that artificial bubble would be surrounded in a flash by a poor area with no schools but teeming with gangs; with no jobs but many prostitutes; with nothing to dream about but lots of drugs to forget that fact; with no quality lifestyle but the required TV set to sell you all kinds of comforts… and you bet I’m not even mentioning the terrible dangers fueled by deep-seated hatred.
There’s another, simpler and more realistic answer to Alejandro’s question: you either make sure you become an enterprising optimist and strive to build a cooler socialism –so you can keep your freedom and at the same time have a better and happier life– or risk your neck at the Russian roulette in a casino and end up finding out that in the realm of “every man for himself” even your smile can be mortgaged. It’s no coincidence that Silvio Rodríguez, who has traveled around the world and gives us through his music a kaleidoscope of life, voiced his support of a perfectible socialism in his capacity of Deputy to our National Assembly of the People’s Power, making it clear that we can improve ours and we must do it by ourselves.
President Raúl Castro warned in a recent speech that he had not been elected to restore capitalism in Cuba and invited all Cubans to discuss what kind of socialism we want. If we ever lose the gift of participation the Revolution will have lost its sense of direction. Hence the importance that we, our parents and our children, that is, three or more generations of Cubans –in one of which Alejandro belongs– take part in this get-together and engage in a collective reflection free of slogans and mechanistic attitudes.
I feel certain that our socialist values will come out stronger as a result. Not long ago, on the occasion of the Cuban Revolution’s 50th birthday, a number of young intellectuals were invited to talk about it and the realization of the socialist project. What follows is just a thumbnail sample of their comments sufficient to understand how necessary and comprehensive is the debate awaiting us:
Julio César Guanche: “In 1959, the Cuban Revolution gave birth to a beautiful specimen of utopian socialism and implemented on Cuban soil a significant part of Rousseau’s great ideal: universal citizenship, a sovereign society, and social justice. Fifty years later, Cuba realized that a revolution is not the ultimate goal, as every thing conquered must be re-conquered and changing with the times is the only way to move on”.
Ariel Dacal: “We must publicly discuss how we understand socialism and what to do to make it more effective in its quest for an anti-capitalist alternative, which entails as much social justice as possible. People’s education, culture, technical ability, feelings and political knowledge are underrated and in some cases wasted. In order to reverse that situation we must make qualitative changes in the way people get involved in the management and control of their daily individual and public life, both as workers and community members”.
José A. Fernández: “Our Socialism has fought against poverty, capitalism, imperialism and its worst manners –war and terrorism– as well as against the immobility of state bureaucracy, political ignorance, the opportunism of the alleged extremists, the tiny internal opposition and the strong external opposition, the ghost of the ‘siege’ that prevents us from trusting our own potential to be freer… We have contributed the beauty of a whole people of women and men forged with blood and fire, blockade and militia, lack of resources and a wealth of wisdom and faith in the justice we have earned”.
I hope that both young Alejandro and those who read these comments found in them food for thought, issues to debate, new questions and some answers. Many people deem a discussion about socialism in present and future tense a thorny subject. Rest assured that if we do it in public, using a pro-positive key instead of drawing up an inventory of problems, we will no longer be treading on waste land. The forest is crawling with snipers.
We have to keep creating and learning if we want to make progress and be better. With the energy of our people and Fidel’s endless supply of creative thoughts we have done what once seemed impossible: we saved socialism.
Author: Félix López
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Amid the wide assortment of comments caused by the quotation from Che Guevara in my previous installment (*) was an unexpected, if pleasant, surprise. Alejandro, a friend of mine’s teenage son, called to ask me three questions: “If the founders of socialism ended up straying from their course, how come we cling to it even more? Why does socialism seem more concerned about ideology than about aesthetics? And, if not socialism, what do we have left?”
Truth is, I hung up the phone in astonishment. Alejandro is about to turn 16, and I know for a fact he doesn’t have his head in the clouds. Be that as it may, I was struck dumb, because we often take it for granted that they don’t care about these topics or about politics, or worry that they will never grow fond of what their parents built. Big mistake! Alejandro is a faithful reflection of a reality that can be collective of necessity: our debates today won’t be any more to the point if we push aside our teenagers and youths, strip them of their right to argue and deny them the chance to participate that they expect to get from us.
It’s with great pleasure that I answer Alejandro’s questions, and I’ll start with “the founders of socialism”. Most of us have been brought up in the [almost geographic] belief that Eastern Europe –and particularly the former USSR– is the cradle of socialism, and therefore came to the conclusion that those who once raised the socialist banners were the same ones who set that ship adrift and gave up an ideal born to make up for, and become an alternative to, the capitalist system.
But in his questions, brief as they are, a historic error comes to light. It may be true that this social system was conceptualized there, but we can’t overlook the fact that there were previous experiences of socialist coexistence. In South America, for instance, we had the so-called reservations of the Jesuits, who lived in Paraguay and its neighboring regions between 1609 and 1767, when the Catholic Monarchs expelled the Society of Jesus from their South American colonies.
The Jesuits had committed an unforgivable “sin”: they took the Indians out of the jungle, trained them in agricultural techniques and craftsmanship, and taught them to read and write, not without respect for their Guarani language. Instead of the whip, they used music as an educational tool. That’s how European instruments from that time like the flageolets, drums and harps arrived in such distant lands and joined the rhythm of the maracas the Guarani shamans moved to during their sacred dances.
That its colonies were being home since the early 17th century to a state where they looked at what we now know as socialism was utterly unacceptable to the Spanish Crown. That’s what Paraguay was at the time, a land of collective work, discipline, prayers, solidarity, learning and music. The first of such towns was San Ignacio Guasú, established in 1609 and soon followed by another forty missions along the banks of the rivers Paraná, Uruguay and Tape. By the mid-eighteenth century, according to historian Justo Fernández López, around 150,000 were already living in them.
Each mission made up a town, built around a great square and managed by a town council. There was also a church, a school, workshops of various arts and crafts, and a hospital. Surrounding them were lands devoted to intensive farming, where every native worked in a specific plot as well as in a collective field. Their economy was organized as a function of community work, and trade took place on the basis of reciprocity among the members, whether local or from other towns.
A deeper look into Latin American history we’ll reveal further –and more recent– genuine expressions of a creative and anti-dogmatic socialism. One example: Julio Antonio Mella, the young founder of Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist party, made it clear it was not his intention to reproduce here the Bolshevik experience and, at the same time, made a prophetic warning: the Party needed thinking human beings, not domesticated ones. He was not even 21 years old yet and was already speaking of a socialist revolution, only in the Cuban style.
And long before Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa plotted the route toward the 21st Century Socialism, another young man, the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui, had stated: “Socialism in America will be neither a replica nor a copy, but a heroic creation”. If we talk about creation, then there can’t be just one kind of socialism, much less one owned by someone. It has been proved in practice to be a diversified system daring enough to be different in different places.
That’s why I’m correcting Alejandro, who is wrong to assume that there was only one type of socialism which ceased to exist on the day that a crane knocked down the last of Lenin’s statues in Moscow. At any rate, here we are, clung to our socialism, the one with its roots in Martí and Latin America. An “always perfectible” socialism, as singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez put it: “Without giving up dreaming and wishing a better society with better human beings, but from the perspective we have today, not the one indicated by the pioneers of socialism”.
This being said, let me tell you that in my conversation with Alejandro I also learned that all around us there are youths whose grasp of history overpowers the gaps in their knowledge when it comes to conceiving a picture of the system they want to have. Alejandro knows how to be a fair critic, voicing his disagreement with ideas of his own and never disowning the society where he lives. However, when I asked him which system he likes better, he immediately chose the path of creation with great self-assurance: “I like a cool socialism”. A “model” we’ll leave for the next article.
(*) “Socialism is young and therefore flawed”, Chapucerías, Granma, 31.08.09
This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition is to be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act. Under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love does not have sex,” stressed intellectual Miguel Barnet.
Author: Susana Antón | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 22, 2018 12:07:10
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As part of the analysis of the Draft Constitution at the First Ordinary Session of the Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, some of the issues discussed were gender equality, marriage and family as part of Article 68.
Mariela Castro Espín, a deputy for the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, commented that with Article 68, Cuba places itself, from a perspective of comprehensive protection of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, among the leading countries in the recognition and guarantee of human rights.
“This proposal for protection is the result of the maturity reached by the revolutionary process that legitimizes and protects social relations that materialize in various types of families, from which the State’s duty to protect them and not to discriminate against them is derived,” she said.
She expressed her agreement with the provisions of Article 68, which provides for the voluntary union of two persons with the legal capacity to do so and is based on the rights and duties of spouses.
Castro Espín submitted for the plenary’s consideration that the continuation of the text of the article should be left to legislation because it is specific and refers to the obligations of couples who choose to be mothers and fathers, in addition to the fact that it is based on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and on the conditions that favor the achievement of their ends.
“It would result in an axiological and normative contradiction in the letter of the constitutional bill between the grounds of discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity in Articles 39 and 40, and we would discriminate against families with gay parents in Article 68,” she added.
On the other hand, she stressed that Article 41 stipulates that the State works to create the necessary conditions to facilitate equality of citizenship and “the best way to say it is to do it”, she concluded.
For her part, the Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women, Teresa Amarelle Boué, commented that it is a step forward that it has been taken away that marriage is the consensual union between a man and a woman..
However, there is no mention of adoption in this Article, and this is an issue that should be left to the Family Code and that should govern what marriage and other issues will be like.
“No one can be discriminated against because of their orientation. All rights are for all people and it is up to couples who want to be mothers and fathers to decide,” said Teresa Amarelle.
On the subject, Homero Acosta commented that the concept of matrimony that has been changed has an impact on the continuation of the article because it has a vision of a single-parent family and the issues related to children have a different formulation in the article.
The issue of children is regulated in Articles 69, 70 and 72, which refer to a concept of the family. “In no way does it limit the obligation of parents, whatever marriage in which it is constituted,” he said.
Yolanda Ferrer, deputy for Pinar del Río, commented that marriage must rest on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and the law must determine the way in which it is constituted.
“We are taking a revolutionary and very important first step. There is no justification for depriving the happiness of forming a family. We have to face prejudice and make the justice we defend inclusive,” she said.
Speaking again, Deputy Mariela Castro Espín stated that “if we consider the reproductive issue, we must be consistent in giving these guarantees to all families”.
Miguel Barnet also commented that we are entering a new era. “This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition must be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act and under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love doesn’t have sex,” she said.
At the conclusion of the plenary debate on the subject, the deputies agreed to leave Article 68 as it stands and to include the terms “families” throughout the Constitution.
Author: Grupo Empresarial Correos de Cuba | email@example.com
July 30, 2018 18:07:43
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The Directorate of Institutional Communication of the Business Group Correos de Cuba announced that as of Tuesday, July 31st, the Draft Constitution of the Republic of Cuba will be commercialized in all units and press boxes, in tabloid format of 32 pages, and will be commercialized through the national postal network at the price of one peso (cup).
First, on Tuesday, July 31st, it will be sold in the post office and press room units of the provinces of Havana, Mayabeque, Artemisa and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud.
As of Wednesday, August 1, it will begin to be sold in the post office and press room units of the provinces of Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila.
Meanwhile, starting on Friday, August 3, it will be sold in the post office and press room units in the provinces of Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.
As reported by the mass media, the draft Constitution of the Republic of Cuba will be submitted for popular consultation between 13 August and 15 November 2018.
Directorate of Institutional Communication Grupo Empresarial Correos de Cuba