By José Alejandro Rodríguez
August 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Now that Cuba is on the offensive against economic crime, corruption and all sorts of indiscipline and violations, the most sensible thing is not to limit ourselves only to repudiating and neutralizing these demonstrations and the police operations. We must also diagnose with a perennial scalpel the socioeconomic causes that generate these evils and distortions, in order to prevent them and remove them at their roots.
Without ignoring the syndrome of asphyxiation caused by the imperturbable American blockade, the recent self-critical recognition by the country’s authorities of the slowness and lack of integrality in the process of updating the Cuban economic model in recent years is at least promising. And in the midst of so many difficulties and hardships, the new post-Covid-19 strategy raises expectations and encouragement to face the crisis. It also aims to translate into irreversible transformations what is pending in guiding documents such as the Economic and Social Guidelines and the Conceptualization of our Socialist Model.
In the opinion of many Cuban economists, who have been loyal to socialism since the brave critical and saving diagnosis, the recently announced strategy confers a much more audacious, systemic and integrating emphasis to transformations: it removes knots and obstacles to productive forces. It decentralizes and confers greater horizontality. It promotes food self-sustainability, greater export diversity and less dependence on imports. It makes the economy more democratic and invigorates entrepreneurship, because it seeks complementarity and similar possibilities among the different forms of ownership and management. It promotes incentives rather than prohibitions. It opens the doors of the watertight compartments.
Of course, these are the purposes. Changes will take time to reap their fruits, paradoxically in a fight against time. What is important about this strategy is not only its goals, but the way in which they are expressed, the intelligent ways to open those gates without being flooded and swallowed by the transformations. The other would be to fail through dogmatic starvation, to accept that economic problems continue to be faced with voluntary administrative measures and the attachment to the ucase, which is never political.
To the liberating and emancipatory character of the announced measures, the permanent scientific diagnosis of the transforming work should be added, so that from an observatory the errors and deviations in the shaping can be corrected. And at the same time promote the feedback of the states of opinion and popular consensus in terms of decision making.
For now, the daily episodes of police operations on economic crime reveal how far the Cuban economy has been submerged for years in the black market and illegalities, and in social coexistence with moral deterioration, to the nation’s detriment. And at the same time they alert us to how many distortions and design errors need to be corrected.
I will never justify crime and economic fraud no matter how difficult the circumstances. But it is also true that we lived for years among too many economic prohibitions that are now beginning to be rectified. And a proverbial ability to transgress the “legal” in order to survive was created, while it took a long time for these realistic processes of validation and sincerity to be carried out for many activities that were considered alien to the socialist ideal.
The result is what we are witnessing. Hence, post-Covid-19, with the ramifications of the world economic crisis and the perennial Yankee blockade, there will be no alternative but to assume all the risks of the transformations. On the one hand, rigor and discipline; on the other, incentive and entrepreneurship so that honest work, whether State-run or not, is the cornerstone that leads us to prosperity without abandoning social justice.
By Nelson García Santos
July 27, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Colera: Come with me it will cost you 10. Police officer: Come with me to the police station.
Money that is easy to obtain, like a raging river, incites the crime-prone to fish. And this true truiosm is, let us say it bluntly, even by the benevolence with which this phenomenon has been treated, more visible in the unbridled action of coleros and resellers.
This scourge, which is now in the public eye, is multiplying the weights, squeezing the needs of our neighbors to the utmost, who sometimes, with no other alternative, have to die in their unhealthy hands.
They go to the extreme of wanting to justify their illicit business with the impudence that they are solving a problem for the people when, in reality, this practice harms the official market, the population and shows an unacceptable disrespect for the Law.
To finish off this trilogy, as if it were derisory, it is complemented by hoarders who operate in the wholesale market offering wholesale merchandise.
They often do it with the desired results on the employees of establishments and, who knows, with whom else, to explicitly obtain goods without the bosses noticing.
But they also capture people, weight for weight, to turn them into coleros and resellers, preferably women, elderly people and even the disabled.
Let’s recapitulate: this scaffolding has its categories. The highest-ranking is the great hoarder, but there are the coleros, who operate on their own, and the pot workers, those who put up the money for them to hoard and then give them a profit for resale.
In recent times, the authorities have intensified the confrontation against these people who have made living a la izquierda [literally, “on the left”, but meaning outside the law, wl] their lucrative essence, while the wise tribune on the street expresses satisfaction, because they approve, as in any place, of that protection that should be imposed by the authorities in the face of those who break the law.
But so untouchable do many of the transgressors believe themselves to be that their obfuscation prevents them from feeling that the noose is being pulled to stop this disorder attributed to scarcity, a half-truth, because nothing can justify immorality.
Here is an example of what is being done: for crimes related to illicit economic activity, disobedience, hoarding and the spread of epidemics, around 1,285 coleros have been prosecuted in Cuba since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, according to a report published on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.
That figure has been broken down and prophylactic measures and fines have been applied. Others have been charged with the crimes of illegal economic activity, disobedience, hoarding and the spread of epidemics.
With the thunder falling on some and blinding others with the glare of lightning, the only thing advisable is to avoid turning a deaf ear to the very clear message from the authorities that illegalities will not be allowed, because they can simply compromise the daily course of our society.
Let no one think that this is just a momentary action and everything will return to normal, that is, let it be done and undone.
The people even want the laws to be tougher against all these illicit actions, so that anyone who has the idea of throwing himself into the dark labyrinth of living outside the law will think twice. It’s that logical, that simple.
By Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
June 9, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In the past century, obstetricians and gynecologists from various countries have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure in its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
Although there are few studies available on the subject, it has been scientifically proven that orgasms can occur during labor. This phenomenon has been called a myth for centuries because in Western culture childbirth is associated with heroic pain and orgasm with pleasure of external origin (even if it is self-provoked), therefore, it is not acceptable that both concur in the same act without degrading stigmas.
In the biological field, things are not binary, as most conservative tendencies claim. In fact, since both processes are mediated by hormones and focus on the genital area (between the first and second chakra), there is reason to assume that the nervous system interprets painful signals according to very personal patterns, associated with the level of tolerance for physical pain, expectations with that pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding childbirth.
In the past century, gynecologists from various nations have defended the hypothesis that an important function of pleasure at its maximum physical expression is to prepare women physiologically for the intensity of childbirth.
In the 1970s, the Frenchman Michel Odent promoted actions to make birth a moment of joy, not of sacrifice or shame. Original cultures see it that way, and today new voices are raised in favor of the body acting according to its ancestral knowledge.
Adrenaline, oxytocin, dopamine… A whole cocktail of hormones is unleashed during labor, each at its own pace. And if the mind accepts the right to experience the act of giving life as pleasure, the sensations can be strong, but fluid, without panic,. That “permission” helps to interpret them without guilt, in some cases with similar enjoyment of what for that woman is the reference of an orgasm, as occurs in a sudden consensual sexual act.
Dr. Odent was also one of the driving forces behind breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour of life because of its health benefits for both of us.
Although formalized reports are rare, some mothers describe something like an orgasm when they breastfeed. Such is the case of a 32-year-old Matanzas reader, who suggested including it in the list of involuntary pleasures because on a physical level it is enjoyable, but she thinks “that morally it is not right”.
She says her breasts have always been very sensitive and her partner manages to bring her to a climax just by stimulating them.
Once again, it is cultural assumptions that prevent that woman from enjoying her own body in a natural, unintended sense with morbidity.
Broadly speaking, Dr. Elvia de Dios, a trained psychiatrist and therapist at CENESEX (National Center for Sex Education), explains that the baby’s suction triggers the production of oxytocin, and that hormone activates the functioning of essential glands. These incluse the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which in turn facilitate intense nerve discharges that stimulate the contractions of the uterus and help it return to its normal size and muscle tone.
The reader who consults is a privileged woman in the quality of her nervous reflexes, says the expert. It should not inhibit a reaction that is not associated with any sexual thought or call into question your motherhood.
For questions about orgasm and other issues of your sexuality or sexual identity, you can contact Dr. Elvia de Dios at the Cenesex telephone counseling service, which she provides Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 7638-8405.
By Roberto Díaz Martorell
April 14, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
NUEVO GERONA, Isle of Youth. – The COVID-19 not only changed the perception of the reality of the people who live in the world, but also transformed the work routines for many, such as the young Indira Guevara, auditor of the Municipal Comptroller’s Office, who today collaborates with the National Revolutionary Police to control the distance in the queues where food is sold.
There are 33 young militants of the Young Communist Union (UJC) who were trained by the Ministry of the Interior (Minint) to take on the voluntary responsibility of supporting control measures in commercial establishments where food, toilets and other products are sold.
“We were called together by those of us who do not have children or elderly people at home and we were assigned this task in the People’s Councils where we live, so that we do not move from one neighborhood to another and avoid the movement of people that could facilitate the spread of the virus.
“I was assigned to Abel Santamaría, a community that today reports six positive cases to COVID-19 and therefore extreme measures of quarantine and reinforced isolation are adopted, so I consider my work more important.
“They told us how we should proceed with the population to help avoid crowding in the queues, both in the stores in CUC and in the markets and points of sale of other food or supplies. Without hesitation, I accepted. This will allow the police to devote most of their personnel to areas with limited movement.
“We all agreed because the situation we are experiencing today is very complex and it is the duty of the young people to assume responsibility, as revolutionaries and Cuban citizens.
“It is true that sometimes we are afraid because it is something new and it is not a game: that pandemic has taken many lives in the world. Already here, on the Isle of Youth, one person has died, and many still do not understand the magnitude of the risks they take on the streets.
“At first it was funny, but it is true that the police vest they gave us gives us some authority, because when they see us so young people may think that we are not prepared and they may continue to be disobedient.
“So far I haven’t had any unpleasant encounters. We address people with respect and education so that they keep their distance from each other, so that they do not despair. We ask them please and that opens the dialogue to a better understanding.
“However, no matter how hard we try, they distance themselves and the next minute they are together again. People should be more aware of how dangerous this pandemic is and once and for all assume with responsibility and discipline the measures, which are all for the good of all,” reflected Indira Guevara.
This booster troop works on a voluntary basis from the time shops open until they close. Everyone is guaranteed water, a snack, lunch, and they rotate on occasions to rest. There is always a Minint officer with them, to advise and solve any situation that may arise.
According to Yander Zayas, first secretary of the Municipal Committee of the UJC in Isla de la Juventud, the group chosen comes from sectors such as Energy and Mines, Computers and Communications, Education, Sports or are students of the territory. This youth participation in the tasks of prevention against COVID-19 is part of the country’s strategy to guarantee the continuity of services to the population and ensure the future and health of all.
By Joel del Río
August 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
I would like to explain that the title of this work has nothing to do with Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous fresco, nor is it related to any gloomy prediction for the Italian city also called La Serenissima. I am referring rather to a transcendent Cuban film, which has fortunately been restored, and will be exhibited with honors at the next Venice International Film Festival.
This year’s event, because of the physical distance, a very limited public of critics and a few foreign guests will attend. Meanwhile, this and other competitions, such as the one in Toronto, value the exhibition of the films through websites with streaming services, to be downloaded only by the people authorized to view them.
The digital restoration of The Last Supper, made by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea in 1976, will be screened as part of the Classics section in the 77th edition of the Venetian event, which will take place between September 2 and 12. The copy will have its world premiere at the Il Cinema Ritrovato (The Rediscovered Cinema) Festival in Bologna, which will take place from August 25th to 31st, and will also be added to the list of restored classics offered by Venice, under a collaboration agreement.
In the 34th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato, not only the aforementioned work by Titón will be shown, but also two of his other films. All three have been restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Los Angeles, USA, in collaboration with the Cuban Cinematheque: the short documentary El arte del tabaco (1974) and the feature film La muerte de un burócrata (1966), which was at the Mostra last year.
It is never pointless to reflect again on the merits of Cuban art, even when it is taken as a pretext at this moment in which two classic films attract the attention of the most prestigious film events and institutions in the world. It should be noted that both productions were prophets in their own land, and placed, in their own time, in the deserved places, thanks to the attention of the public and the critics.
The death of a bureaucrat was constructed as a buzzing mockery of the unbearable “traversed” in the normal development of society. It attacks the plague of schematic and inflexible officials that build the despair of the central character, and highlights the tragic chaos around a simple and essential procedure.
Considered one of the most eloquent cinematographic satires on the administrative inadequacies of any society, the film inaugurates critical realism with absurd and unreal touches that allowed the national cinematography to elude the narrow representational frameworks, sometimes imitative, of Italian neo-realism.
For its part, The Last Supper was first seen on November 3, 1977 in the Yara, Acapulco, Metropolitan, Monaco, Florida and City Hall theaters (how wonderful to have so many theaters on the premiere circuit). Among its many international awards are the Golden Hugo of the International Film Festival of Chicago, the Grand Prix at the Biarritz Ibero-American Film Festival, the Golden Columbus in Huelva, the distinction as outstanding film at the London Festival, best foreign film exhibited in Venezuela, Grand Prize at the Figueira Festival in Foz, Portugal; and winner of the Popular Jury in the II Muestra Internacional de Cine Sao Pablo.
Ten years after making the brilliant contemporary satire on the problems of bureaucracy in Cuba, Gutiérrez Alea made a foray into historical production with his first color film, La última cena (The Last Supper), inspired by an anecdote about a real event that appears in the book El ingenio (The Sugar Mill) by Manuel Moreno Fraginals.
He wrote an extensive and medullar study of the plantation economy in the era of slavery in Cuba. While the action took place at the end of the 18th century in a sugar mill, the advice given by the historian to the filmmaker was very important. He also had the help of the knowledge of specialists such as Rogelio Martínez Furé and Nitza Villapol, because it also told the story of a rich count, very religious, who gathers 12 slaves and invites them to dinner, in the way of a similar invitation narrated in the Bible.
During dinner, which takes up most of the footage, the count talks to his servants and tries to explain to them the principles of humility and resignation that guide the Catholic religion. The slaves, convinced of their goodwill, decide not to work the next day and thus a repression is unleashed with tragic consequences.
It is a temporary analysis of power and dependence, because, as the director stated to Gerardo Chijona in the interview published in the magazine Cine Cubano number 93: “…a historical film, for me, is not to reconstruct in a spectacular way the fact itself. I’m not interested in archaeological work, but rather in taking advantage of history at some point because of the repercussions that this can have on the present.
Editor Nelson Rodríguez told the Cubasí website: “The filming of the dinner sequence was a real challenge in terms of staging, it lasted about four weeks and was shot continuously, that is, in order, almost in real-time. It was really a challenge, because the continuity demanded special care in all the elements, from the care with the candles, the food, the wines and of course the work of the actors. The edition was a real feast, because there was not the slightest error in the setting or in the continuity”.
In this respect, it is worth adding that in the famous long sequence the director films the table from the front, with the count in the middle, and resorts to a backward movement, and then a forward movement in the camera, as if to emphasize the theatrical air of the representation and the pictorial reference in Da Vinci’s painting.
It is unlikely that the director attempted a diatribe against Catholic ideology. Rather, I believe that he intended to question, indirectly, all the usual manipulations of the powerful, with respect to a certain idealistic and egalitarian rhetoric. His goal was to confirm in the background the predominance of the ruling class over a group that he considers inferior and anonymous.
So when the count refers to the acceptance of sacrifice and suffering, he never thinks of adopting that philosophy himself, but of having it endorsed by the slaves, forced to assent to their subordinate condition. This and other reflections come from one of the most brilliant and intelligent films ever made in Cuba. Now it can be enjoyed again in a good copy.
Since I am not invaded by the diagonal chauvinism of reporting on an event as enormous as the Venice International Film Festival only from the perspective of Cuban participation, we would at least like to point out that in the official section, where the premieres of the great filmmakers compete, among others, the Japanese master of horror Kiyoshi Kurosawa (The Spy’s Woman), the new revelation of Polish auteur cinema, Malgorzata Szumowska (It Will Never Snow Again), the world’s most acclaimed Israeli filmmaker, Amos Gitai (Laila in Haifa), the several times acclaimed Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky (Dear Friends), and the Iranian master of neo-realistic melodrama starring children, Majid Majidi (Children of the Sun).
In short, Cuban cinema continues to occupy prestigious spheres, because beyond the honors given to two essential classics. Itt was also announced a few days ago that the independent production Agosto, directed by debutant Armando Capó, will represent us in the 24th edition of the Lima Film Festival, which this year will also have an online version, due to the coronavirus, from the 21st to the 30th of this month.
In the same event, the documentary A media voz, co-directed by Heidi Hassán and Patricia Pérez, will be shown via internet throughout Peru, and will finally be released in Spain as part of the official selection of the Malaga Festival, on August 23rd in the Echegaray Theater.
Both Agosto and A Media Voz have gone through a long list of important international contests, and both were awarded with top choirs in their respective categories (debut opera and documentary) at the most recent Festival de La Habana. Cuban cinema does not live by past glories alone.
By Marina Menéndez Quintero
August 10, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The biggest and most brazen robbery that the Venezuelan public treasury has ever suffered is taking place right now. And it has been the right-wing, disobedient and therefore non-functioning sector of the National Assembly that has lent itself out to play the role of the fig leaf and that part of the national money illegally confiscated by the United States is being handled by two foreign private companies.
Certainly, it has not been established -at least not publicly- if during the governments of the demolished Fourth Republic, there was ever such a large amount of embezzlement. Some people might be asking that…
But what makes the current move unprecedented is not only that it deprives citizens of the enjoyment of resources that belong to them. What is most reprehensible is that the action is at the service of interference and aggression by a foreign power.
Specifically, it is about $80 million that the Venezuelan State had deposited in Citibank, in the name of the Central Bank of Venezuela. Now it will be managed by the private American firms BRV Disbursement Co. LLC and BRV Administrator Co. LLC, which will get one million dollars for the work, according to the contract endorsed by that right-wing of the Venezuelan Parliament that continues to support the puppet Juan Guaidó.
However, it’s not the only money stolen. That item is part of the more than $340 million from Caracas that has been transferred just like that to an account at the New York Federal Reserve, on orders from the White House.
But what many are already calling the “policy of dispossession” of Venezuela’s public patrimony, applied by Washington against Caracas in the financial sphere as part of its strategy of harassment and multidimensional aggression, is even broader.
According to a detailed article published by the alternative website The Grayzone, Donald Trump’s policy against Venezuela has led to the confiscation from that country of up to 24 billion dollars in public assets located in the North, or in European Union countries allied with Washington.
The first major scandal was the virtual kidnapping of CITGO, a PDVSA subsidiary based in the US and considered the most important Venezuelan asset abroad.
As in the rest of the actions of this Ttype, the smokescreen has been the figure of Guaidó, and the excuse that resources are put in the hands of his non-existent “transition government”. The false argument that is gaining strength seeks to present Bolivarian Venezuela as a refuge from narco-terrorism, and its leaders as common criminals who must be punished and even imprisoned?
Under the same assumption, Venezuela has also just been stripped of the gold bars from the reserve that it had, supposedly in safekeeping, in the vaults of the Bank of England, the value of which could be as high as USD 3 billion that Maduro asked for in order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Then Boris Johnson’s British executive recognized Guaidó as interim president… and there the gold has remained.
Meanwhile, other trials are continuing in Europe to take away Venezuela’s assets, which could total some $8 billion, according to unofficial sources.
The most dangerous thing is that the decision taken a dozen days ago by the British Prime Minister could set a legal’ precedent for other Venezuelan funds blocked abroad, especially in European countries that have joined the Trump campaign.
The total balance, until today, of the economic and financial war of the United States against Venezuela, also contemplates other punitive measures and therefore, is even greater.
Since the beginning of the sanctions in 2017 after Barack Obama decreed two years ago that the country was a “threat” to its national security, the economic losses suffered by the Bolivarian nation are estimated at 130 billion dollars.
And there are already rumors that show the tricks Washington can play with so much ill-gotten money.
It has been revealed that a tiny portion of the $80 million seized from Citibank -although still juicy since it amounts to $600 million in assets- would have been diverted by Trump to build part of the promised wall on the border with Mexico.
Everything indicates that Guaidó, the supposed interim president that few within Venezuela applaud, has not said much about “the participation” of the White House in the enjoyment of the embezzlement? although he will surely have access to the stolen goods.
Nevertheless, his so-called “ambassador” to the U.S., Carlos Veccio, has admitted that he worked with the Justice Department to establish an agreement defining the percentage that will go to Washington, The Grayzone says.
Ignoring even that the current Parliament without functions elected another opponent as its head – Luis Parra, voted by the majority present in the session last January – that right-wing sector of the National Assembly “approved” a week ago that those $80 million be part of what they have fallaciously named the National Liberation Fund: money that, if used for the purposes that Guaidó defends, will be gasoline to subvert and execute new acts of terror.
Otherwise, they will be a good starting point for the continued corruption of that opposition wing linked to the antagonistic parties of yesteryear.
In this regard, analysts have stressed that this money is not controlled by any entity and, moreover, its management by means of those two U.S. companies privatizes embezzlement and outsources it, supposedly taking Trump’s hands off the plate, although not others.
This modus operandi adds to the economic choking measures of the United States and sets the tone for what the Mission Truth website considers a “para-state”.
It is clear that Guaidó’s scarce popular support for the interior of Venezuela, and his lack of international prestige, even though he claims to have been recognized by 50 countries, cuts the wings off the Machiavellian project in the political order? Even though it continues to cut short the lives of Venezuelans with the vulgar theft that is executed through this, never before seen, financial plunder.
August 10, 2020
By Juana Carrasco Martín
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It could be the agricultural implement factories, but that is not the case. They should increase protective measures for workers in the meatpacking industries, for employees in supermarkets, or for agricultural workers, but that is not their intention either.
There isn’t even an equal standard for health-care workers, and Blacks and Latinos are infected with the new coronavirus three times more than their white counterparts, according to a New York Times analysis of the records of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study also found that minority workers were 20 percent more likely than white workers to care for suspected or confirmed Covid-positive patients. The rate rose to 30 percent specifically for Black workers. In addition, they also reported inadequate or reused protective equipment (PPE) at a rate 50 percent higher than that reported by white workers. For Latinos, the rate was twice that of white workers.
Although the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is not over, and, on the contrary, there is a resurgence of infections in those states that prematurely relaxed or lifted restrictions on social or physical distancing – to be more precise – those that set about economic movement brought, in not a few cases, a priority that projects good times for… the Pentagon and the war industry.
The reality surpasses logic in the Trump administration. Making money continues to be the interest and not the care of people’s lives. That is why national security is being relieved, leaving aside a total battle against the enemy SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and continuing to bet on a war, or all the necessary ones, anywhere in the world against a supposed enemy that allows them to manufacture bombs and war equipment of all kinds.
When the numbers of infected and dead in the United States are terrifying -4,941,796 people infested, so probably this Sunday it will reach five million-, Congress has already discussed the Pentagon’s budget. We remember that independent Senator Bernie Sanders, published an opinion in The Guardian, in which he presented a true picture, a warning and a call:
“At this unprecedented moment in America’s history–a terrible pandemic, an economic crisis, people marching across the country to end systemic racism and police brutality, growing inequality of income and wealth, and an unstable president in the White House–now is the time to bring people together to fundamentally alter our national priorities and rethink the very fabric of American society.
The fact is that they approved $740 billion in spending and ignored Sanders’ proposal to cut 10 percent and target it to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged in the U.S. population, which would have been $74 billion for housing, education and health care, essentially. And the Vermont senator cited a Republican hero, General Dwight Eisenhower, who said in 1953 “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired means, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its workers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The current situation is much more critical: a quarter of the U.S. population is living from paycheck to paycheck, and now from the pandemic subsidy check, which in July has not yet been approved by Congress; between 22 and 40 million fear eviction for not being able to pay the rent, 40 million also live in poverty, and 87 million lack adequate health insurance.
Sanders is not the only one busy with waste. California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna is proposing that money for the “modernization” of intercontinental ballistic missiles go to research on the anti-Covid vaccine. California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee is calling for a $350 billion cut in the war budget.
Even Eisenhower could not change the military-industrial complex of which he warned, and even less do Sanders, Khanna and Lee, although they appeal to the emergency caused by the new coronavirus, when the President of the country, Donald Trump, daily minimizes the magnitude and lethality of the pandemic and only takes advantage of it to lead the situation in order to be re-elected next November.
Among his most recent manipulative expressions are assuring that children “are practically immune” to COVID-19, and almost assuring that they will have a life-saving vaccine by November 3 – election day – because he is pushing it with all his might, even though he says it is not to win at the polls, he wants to save lives?
Trump, who has long sought exclusivity on potential vaccines, announced in May that the huge task of delivering the vaccine will be in the hands of the military in conjunction with the CDC. At the time he said it would be at the end of the year, but the circumstances surrounding the election campaign, which are not in his favor, have led him to make the hasty declaration that in November he has the salvation of the world in his hands?
There is a reality, in these dramatic times and when the number one enemy should be the pandemic. The Department of Defense is not accountable for its expenditures, while its contractors are making huge profits, as always, under the cover of a circumstance long highlighted by critics of the system. The main recipients of war industries’ contributions to their respective election campaigns are the members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
To make matters worse, the new coronavirus has served to compensate arms manufacturers for alleged losses in profits as well. For example, General Electric, which has laid off 25 percent of its workforce, received $20 million to expand its development of “advanced manufacturing techniques,” and Spirit Aerosystems received $80 million to expand its domestic manufacturing after laying off 900 workers.
Some analysts warn that military expenditures could be reduced if the billions spent on the new Cold War with China were not available; if the Pentagon’s requests to buy the controversial and clearly imperfect F-35 fighter planes from Lockheed Martin were not met; or on Trump’s new warrior invention, the Space Force.
Included in the waste is General Dynamics Electric Boat’s $126 billion nuclear submarine program, the new Ford class aircraft carrier built by Huntington Ingalls for $13.2 billion, and its launch system that remains unlaunched but earns a profit for General Atomics. By the way, Bloomberg reported that the ship’s toilets are frequently clogged and can only be cleaned with specialized acids that cost about $400,000 per flush…).
The clogging is greater in those Pentagon priorities, when it becomes known from a June article in Tom Distpach, that in February 2018, the Government Accountability Office, which to some extent oversees federal spending, warned that the Defense Department’s health care system lacked the capacity to handle routine needs, let alone wartime emergencies, and within the ever-increasing military budget, military health care has grown next to nothing.
The 41,361 individuals linked to the Department of Defense, both military and civilian employees, infected with COVID-19, and in a staff mostly in the 18-24 age range we have not found the recognized number of deaths, will they be the humane and disposable part of that budget “oversight”?
By Yahily Hernández Porto
July 23, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
CAMAGÜEY: Both were close in their professions, but they never stopped their routines to get close to each other. An occasional greeting was their only relationship at the Agramontine military hospital.
But since the beginning of the year, their concern brought their lives closer, because the pandemic that had just emerged in the Asian giant was taking away their sleep, as it did for thousands of Cubans.
Last March, when Covid-19 entered Cuba, their paths intertwined as they worked in the red areas of the hospital and made a decision that surprised many people.
“After experiencing that life can escape without fulfilling some dreams, we decided to get married as soon as the bio-security measures allowed it,” Ana María Nápoles Salas, 26, a stomatologist by profession, comfided to JR.
The emblematic Palacio de los Matrimonios in Camagüey celebrated its first post-pandemic wedding.
Just last July 7th JR witnessed the first post-pandemic wedding in this city, in the colonial Palace of Marriages. While the bride was talking to this reporter, the general surgeon, Major Germán Antonio Guilarte León, 36, took the opportunity to give her a mischievous surprise kiss.
THE QUINCEAÑERAS GET READY
With the same impetus as this couple, several teenage girls from Agramonte take up their dreams again and project the rescue of their Quinceañera, which they saw interrupted with fear and frustration: the parties and the traditional photographs were postponed due to the pandemic, but since the second phase many have returned to the beautiful palace or are taking turns in private homes dedicated to this celebration.
Quinceañera Yadianis Beltrán did not hesitate to resume her celebration.
“I always knew that when it all happened I’d have my party. Now I’m doing my hair to look good in the photos,” said a smiling Yadianis Beltrán Gutiérrez, who had to settle for a family meal on April 28.
In the contract office of the beautiful institution in Camagüey, several girls, along with their parents, wait for their turn to renew the date, Others are just looking for information to choose from, because there are many options in the City of Tinajones, where even quinceañeras from other provinces arrive to eternalize memories.
Jennifer Yadisley Cabreja González and Yarenmis Mendoza Flores are waiting in line to celebrate their Quinceañera on July 31st and August 29th, respectively.
The former said to this newspaper that “despite the activities suspended during the pandemic, there is no problem with work shifts”, and Yarenmis was relieved by her “luck with her birthday”, and showed solidarity with the girls who served in the midst of social isolation.
Such is the story told by Katia Faife Dorca, mother of the teenager Yuliagnis Zaldívar, who had to postpone the big family reunion, scheduled for May 4, and is currently reorganizing it so that loved ones who are abroad can attend, when everything is back to normal: “It is a comfort to know that everyone will have their chance without setbacks,” said this mother.
According to Isabel María Abad Mena, administrator of the Palacio de los Matrimonios, when the institution closed last March all weddings and quinceañera and birthday celebrations already reserved were suspended, in addition to those planned for April, May and June.
To the happiness of many, the multiple services of the Palace are now available and interested families may hire them, provided they are presented at least one month in advance.
Young Yaremnis Mendoza is happy because her contract is secured for August.
“Several biosecurity measures have been implemented that must be strictly adhered to within the center, but none of them affect the quality of what’s available and the well-being of those who come to celebrate their big day,” she insisted.
She stressed that contracts with clients from other provinces, including those outside the country, will be carried out as long as the measures taken at each stage and in each region allow it. “That’s why now in our palace we only accept clients from Matanzas to Guantánamo, the rest of the West will have to wait”.
Abbot Mena pointed out that the capital reparations in the founding house was not interrupted during the pandemic period. At present, for the sake of quality and variety of the photographs, several exterior locations of the mansion have been added, where a natural, original and distinctive scenery is projected to embellish not only the portraits, but also the formal act and the toast.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR OPENS ITS DOORS
In addition to the Palace of the Married Couples in Camagüey, other family businesses that carry out this activity with creative passion are favored by the recovery of these festive services. This was corroborated by JR’s visit to some very popular and well-established private establishments located in the historic center of Agramonte.
At number 69 Avellaneda Street is the house Ilusión Estudio, which closed its services in March, despite having several weddings and fifteen celebrations scheduled. Its owners, Yuleidy Cabrera and Anuar Rodríguez, even canceled the quinceañera of their own daughter, Viviana, who was looking forward to celebrating on May 17th.
The Ilusión Estudio family returns to normal after their daughter canceled her quinceañera.
“Our daughter understood the moment in which the country and the world were living. Now we are restoring services according to the conditions and possibilities of each family that chooses us,” explained Yuleidy.
Equally demanding were the owners of the Iris V/S Alex studio, one of the oldest in Camagüey, at 586 Pobre Street: “My father-in-law, Jesús Peña, started the photography business in the 1980s, and he assures us that he had never experienced anything like this before. We have been disciplined with the measures and now we are restarting the services to satisfy the clientele according to the resources we have,” said Iriannis.
The Iris V/S Alex studio house also opens its doors to the public. Photos: Yahily Hernández Porto
During the months of confinement, both she and her husband Alex dedicated themselves entirely to “spoiling” the family. Now they are creating conditions for the reopening of their small business, like so many entrepreneurs in the non-State sector in Camagüey, who are gradually opening their doors to the public, eager to celebrate their anniversaries… and life is preserved despite the tense situation.
By Ricardo Ronquillo Bello
June 20, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It’s not normal, it’s not normal, it’s not normal… I was repeating as in the chorus of an endless serenade by a well-known Cuban politician several months ago. He was doing it when the coronavirus still seemed no more than a disturbing little strain licking itself with its appearance in a market in faraway Wuhan and its unexpected and mournful Bib bang was not spreading it at lightning speed across the four corners of the planet.
Normality versus abnormality, here is a question, we could define a peculiar Cuban Shakespearean drama, which feeds on strains, some as strange and imposed on us as the very COVID-19, and others very much made in Cuba, made in Cuban socialism, as much as they make us proud in some cases, or beat us Theophilus-like on the chin of our welfare in others.
Because of the above, while a good part of the world is heading towards the renamed “new normality” – despite the fact that the daily death of thousands of people and other misadjustments, which some romantically believe will be corrected by the arts of the coronavirus, discredit or unmask it – in Cuba we should better assume that the country, with its first phase of de-escalation, is advancing towards its new “abnormality”, yes, as you read it, abnormality.
In this regard, the aforementioned Cuban politician can be justified not “in part”, as the vocabulary of the Creole bureaucracy is accustomed to saying, but in all his parts, which he repeats, repeats and repeats, and it is not a “rattle” of any kind, that much of what we live, enjoy or suffer in this archipelago is definitely not normal, although some people might like to believe it or even make us believe it for sometimes very devious purposes.
Let’s take an example, of those that were heard in passing and unfortunately without any major media outbreaks, in the fight against the coronavirus: in Cuban prisons there were no cases of the virus detected and, consequently, no deaths. Compare this with what happened or what is still happening in other places, or with humiliating snapshots of prisoners in the region that have shaken the world’s conscience.
The same could be said of the gesture made by the Cuban Government and people – quite silenced, by the way, even by the powerful international media of the most benefited country – to the MS Braemar cruise ship passengers. A later report by Ignacio Ramonet would highlight Cuba’s rare horizon in the tragic fate of many of those strollers adrift in the ocean of selfishness and lack of solidarity framed by COVID-19.
It is not normal in this pandemic world -it was not so before and, despite all the good omens, it will surely not be so common in the future- that the human being comes first, that definition contained in all the documents that give shape to the aspirations of Cuban socialism in the 21st century and that, due to repetitions and hackneyedness, sometimes become pedestrian slogans.
It is worthwhile “baldly” to compare those two previous pearls with the Malthusian reason that spread throughout the world at the same rate as the coronavirus to try to defend that the economy – it would be better to say the capital of the powerful – should be above the value of any life.
From the philosophy of disposable beings did not escape even prominent nobles, from whom at least a rationality as high as their humanism would be expected. However, some calmly justify, without any charge of conscience, that throughout Europe the number of deaths from COVID-19 is similar to that which occurs in a very strong flu season. Something like that is pure waste to form so much international fuss for what is nothing more than a common cold.
It is also very suggestive that the proposals that the highest Cuban authorities are offering to their announced de-escalation – already in the first phase in most of the national territory – point more towards a new “abnormality”, than a return to the previous normality, which would be like continuing to carry old atrophys and vices. We had already made progress in the midst of the virus.
This is out of tune with the dismissive way in which it seems that the lessons of the coronavirus will be assumed worldwide, from which an infinite number of currents and conceptions could be armed, from the most reactionary to those that claim to humanize capitalism or warn of reconfiguring the role of states and public and private actors.
The new “normality” here would be to return to that situation, for moments of levitating resistance, in the face of the U.S. blockade, without really aiming -with forcefulness and rigor- at a program of national development that, although it does not prevent the criminals and growing branches, definitely overcomes them more successfully than in the past. It would be to continue to rely on boats to fill the plates and as many thirsty tanks.
The new normality would be to settle for the scandalous resilience of old knots, which tie us to worn-out and repetitive ways of overcoming serious structural problems. It would be to continue feeding the criminal chains as opposed to the legal and necessary chains between the public and private sectors of the country. It would be to ignore the modern rules of communication -based on closeness and transparency- in order to continue clouding them with prejudice and instrumentality. It would be, it would be, it would be…
And nothing that was announced in the country for the post-COVID-19 escalation resembles the above, because it would be to resort to the old and worn-out normality, when what we need is to rush, overwhelmingly, towards a revolutionary abnormality.
But,” the politician would say, “it would be blissfully normal, right, normal…, although it does speed up a little, as Formell would say.
Posted: Tuesday Jul 07 2020 | 11:26:48 am. Updated: Tuesday 07 July 2020 | 11:42:10 am.
By Juan Morales Agüero email@example.com
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
LAS TUNAS: Rafaelia González Rodríguez always had the feeling she was going to be a cop. At different times in her life, several of her relatives who wore uniforms conveyed to her the certainty that this was an important profession, responsible for guaranteeing public order, confronting crime and protecting legality.
‘That was one of the main reasons why I decided to study for a military career when my colleagues from MININT went to my pre-university to recruit students for the sector,” says the 24-year-old. I showed them my interest, and since then I have done nothing but strive to give my best to the people.
As soon as she finished 12th grade, she traveled to neighboring Camagüey to enroll at the Camilo Cienfuegos Military School.
These were five years of great rigor, both academically and in terms of training. According to her, she owes her will to improve and her sense of discipline to that school.
“I ended up as a cadet, and also as a law graduate in the criminology branch. In addition to that, the specialty itself, which in my personal case was public security,” she adds. In this last one, in the Camilitos I received the necessary preparation to be able to assume tasks like the chief of sector and to energetically face crime and illegalities in their different manifestations”.
After finishing her studies at the school in Agramonte, and by virtue of her evaluation results, the young woman began working at the police headquarters in Las Tunas. There, she was called to take an active part in the citizen’s organization in the context of COVID-19. She accepted, and from that moment on that is the task that occupies her day-to-day.
“My work at the headquarters is administrative, but I could not fail to join in this effort by our authorities to prevent the virus from spreading,” she said. Consequently, together with my colleagues, I enforce the health measures in place, including demanding physical distance in waiting lines and dispersing crowds”.
As far as she is concerned, she goes to her assigned site every day of the week to do her job. She says that in all cases she has always been respected by the people who come to these places. Even when she has called a person’s attention for violating any of the provisions, she has found receptivity.
“Many young people are involved in this work,” she says, “and among them, not a few women. In our case, we have overlooked domestic and family problems to respond to a call that we could not miss. We women have been present in all the transcendental moments of the history of the Revolution. And this is one of them.
“I have the support of my husband, an accountant who understands the duties of a military woman. I am also helped in every place I go by two members of the Prevention or Special Troops. The neighbors? They are supportive and grateful; they make themselves available for any need… Yes, I usually end up exhausted, but pa’lante. [life goes on]
Rafaelina is convinced that the participation of members of MININT in the control of citizens to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has been a great success. “Hopefully, this discipline and organization that we have helped to instill in the people in the present circumstances will remain for future stages,” she adds.