The times are not good, and any political, social or economic agenda of a beginning President must be subject to the dictates of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic plus the vicissitudes of a very complicated Trumpian legacy
Posted: Saturday 02 January 2021 | 06:10:07 pm.
By Juana Carrasco Martin
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University, was also not wrong in predicting the winner of the 2020 presidential election. His record of accurate predictions, which dates back to 1984, remained intact.
The clues worked, which he explained in an interview with The Morning Show on Wisconsin Public Radio, why they were giving Joe Biden the victory even though he was not charismatic, and which then made him state categorically in an opinion piece in The New York Times in early August that “The clues predict that Trump will lose the White House:
The terrible numbers of the coronavirus pandemic, the national movement of protest against police brutality and systematic racism, the social unrest and economic collapse that erased the economic gains Donald Trump was presenting until the
Covid-19 appeared on the scene.
To tell the truth, Trumpism and its mishandling of the unexpected situation of this fateful 2020 and its aftermath, defeated the tycoon who administered the United States for four years as if it were an enormous capitalist monopoly, and not the imperial representative of big business that must follow the rules of the game because it is a showcase of democracy.
Without a doubt, the pandemic is rising as the giant to be faced by the elected president, although he already has the weaponry of the vaccine. A population of more than 300 million inhabitants is not immunized -what remains to be seen effectively- in a flash, therefore the numbers of those infected and killed and their consequent involvement in the country’s economy will continue to grow.
Without a doubt, the first months of Joe Biden’s administration will be torturous, and he does not have a Congress in which the Democrats, while retaining a majority in the House, will have to fight tooth and nail in the Senate.
Now, the legacy that Donald Trump leaves behind is much more notorious and damaging, because he led the United States into a state of extreme polarization and manipulated a good part of the American people in such a way that his faithful followers and the 74 million Americans who voted for him have accepted impunity and the existence of the swamp of corruption at the highest levels of the nation and of the power elites, even though one of his campaign promises was to end the “Democratic” swamp.
The pardons of these final days of his presidency speak for the clarity of that quagmire, when a good part of the pardons and annulments of sentences are for people very close to their political or family environment, faithful to their actions, millionaires who have committed tax fraud and other economic crimes.
An “achievement” of Trump, completed this one in the year 2020 will probably give a substantial turn to the legality towards the right. He appointed three Supreme Court justices – a lifetime appointment – and 25 percent of the federal judiciary. In doing so, he has reversed or broken the balance of federal appellate courts and, in the case of the highest court, could result in an alteration of the government’s regulatory power, the right to abortion, and the immigration law, to name three that are under debate and in the face of which the positions of the outgoing president, who will be sworn in on January 20 as the nation’s 46th president, are diametrically opposed.
According to judicial experts, and Democrats in particular, this is a takeover by the more conservative wing of the Republicans.
How will Biden deal with the very serious problem of institutionalized racism and its most public and violent expression, police brutality? Not a few analysts believe that the extreme white right promoted by Trump will persist in asserting its “right” to supremacy.
While Trump could not build the physical wall with Mexico, nor make his southern neighbors pay for it, since the cost of the remodeled areas and the little that was new took it out of the pockets of U.S. taxpayers, the restrictions he imposed on immigration have more than made up for that fence and it will have to be seen how the coming administration undoes them or how the judiciary keeps them in check, but he owes it to the Latino population and to the dream of millions of undocumented people that Trumpism turned into a nightmare.
In any case, Biden, whose motto was to recover “the soul of the nation,” faces an enormous challenge because that nation is divided and not precisely by a line of the color of the parties, but one that puts liberal democracy in check, with the promotion of distrust towards government institutions, the press, science and the electoral process itself.
Biden, on the other hand, was forced to wink at American progressivism and within the Democratic Party and must also comply with them, or at least try to do so, and there are not a few matters to approve of, nor are they easy.
Among them are education – only with the insurmountable debt of the university students will he have a good headache -; public health, which the Covid-19 has called into question, should introduce universal public insurance; organized labor, when unemployment reaches millions of Americans, hit by the closing of businesses of all sizes and sectors of the economy, and where the demand for the minimum wage will return with force.
Taxes cannot be absent from that list – when the reductions executed by Trump served to make the richest people benefit highly from 60 percent – and now it could not fail to benefit those with the lowest incomes, workers, ethnic minorities, women, immigrants.
A 180-degree turnaround is now mandatory on key foreign policy issues and on relations with allies, friends, and even adversaries. A field in which Trump has sown tensions and economic wars.
In some cases it will be “easy” for him, such as returning to the Treaty of Paris, the World Health Organization, restoring civilized exchanges with his allies in the European Union and NATO, among others.
Not so with respect to Iran, China, Russia, even Latin America, where renewed airs of sovereignty are returning in some countries and with them of integration.
How much it will maintain from the policies of sanctions, from the commercial wars, established with high tariffs that not only confronted the US with the Asian Giant and other adversaries, but also political and strategic allies for that vision of fierce business competition that prevailed for four years in the White House.
Will Biden be able to respect the right of the Palestinian people by reversing Washington’s embrace of Netanyahu’s apartheid?
There’s plenty of room to cut through, and we’ll have to wait for the new president’s first steps. One thing is certain: 2021 will not provide an answer to all the uncertainties, since the Covid-19 will continue to implement rules.
However, the clouds of four years of trumpism will not be easy to clear. Economist and columnist Robert Reich has said that the most vile legacy that Trump will leave is the acceptance of its behavior, and practically half of the American population seems to be enrolled in that list.
Author: Juan Morales Agüero | email@example.com
December 19, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Las Tunas – At 3:00 pm on December 18, 1973, the phone of Dr. Rafael Vazquez Fernandez, a surgeon at the Hospital Vladimir I. Lenin Hospital in Holguin, began to ring with insistence. “Good afternoon, tell me,” answered the doctor when he picked up the phone. “Dr. Vázquez? -Yes, this is Dr. Hernández Ojito from the Victoria Maternity Hospital in Las Tunas. A woman has just given birth here, Siamese twins. Would you help us evaluate them?”
The news took his breath away. “Siamese twins! -exclaimed the also professor of surgery at the Universidad de Oriente. You don’t see that much in Cuba. And he recalled having read that the highest proportion of twin births is among the Yoruba in Nigeria, where almost one in every 22 births is a twin.
Dr. Vazquez Fernandez didn’t think twice: “I’m going there,” he said before hanging up. Minutes later, he boarded a car, took the road, devoured the 70-something kilometers [43 miles] that separated him from Victoria de Las Tunas and in a matter of an hour and a half he was on the ground in front of the health institution of the neighboring province. Not by a long shot did he suspect that days later he would star, along with other specialists, in an event of unusual transcendence in the history of Cuban and Latin American medicine.
In front of the Mártires de Las Tunas hospital, his colleague Hernández Ojito was waiting for him. He had attended the multiple birth together with pediatrician Clara Bisquet and doctor Orlando Zaldívar. Without wasting a minute, they went to the room where the little Siamese girls Maylín and Mayelín Téllez Bruzón – each weighing six pounds – were taking their first nap on earth, joined at their abdomens.
The preliminary examination concluded that their separation could be attempted. They requested an ambulance and left for the Lenin Hospital in Holguin, opened eight years earlier. “How much times have changed,” said Dr. Vazquez Hernandez. And his thoughts went back to the time of the Hindus of the 16th century, who incinerated Siamese creatures as soon as they came to life.
Already in the City of Parks, a multi-disciplinary team was formed to study the feasibility of separating girls through surgery. Anesthesiologist Pura Avilés, pediatrician Félix Álvarez, hematologist Norberto Rodríguez and doctor Vázquez Fernández performed cardiovascular, hematological, genetic, blood gas and radiological tests on them.
The results were encouraging. All that remained was to consult the parents. “Success is possible, but it can also fail. Do you agree to the operation?” they were asked. And they agreed.
For the first time in Latin America, an intervention of this kind would be carried out. Other cases in the world appeared in the literature, but not identical. The foundational separation of Siamese twins took place in France in 1689. They were united by the navel. And if we are talking about Siamese twins, the oldest were the English Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1110. They lived 34 years with a single pair of upper and lower limbs, a rectum and a single vagina.
Meanwhile, the most famous conjoined twins were Chang and Eng Bunker, born in 1811 in Siam, today’s Thailand. They lived to be 63 years old. Doctors refused to operate on them because they had… a common liver! They both married and had 10 and 12 children, respectively. Chang was the first to die. A few hours later Eng died. Since then the term Siamese designates this type of twins.
But let’s continue with Maylin and Mayelin. At midnight on December 27, 1973, the surgical procedure began and lasted almost two hours. An atmosphere of great expectation was felt in the rooms surrounding the operating room. Bohemia magazine reported this in a memorable article: “For the first time in the history of medicine in Cuba, the complex task of operating on two people at the same time in the same room, and, in this case, on two small creatures only nine days old, and closely connected by the abdominal region, was undertaken.
Two groups were formed to provide differentiated care to the Siamese twins during the surgery. In the first, Doctors Vázquez Fernández, Hernández Ojito and Viamonte would assume the separation. In the second, on a parallel table, Doctors Cabrera, Velázquez and Abadía would be in charge of reconstructing their abdominal walls, once they had been separated.
“We operated with an electric scalpel, which cuts and prevents bleeding,” said Dr. Vazquez Fernandez later. We faced three tense moments: the opening of the abdominal cavity, the cutting of the xiphoid appendix, and the section into two equal parts of the common liver. This organ, by the way, had independent systems for each girl. Otherwise, the operation would have been fatal for one of them. All obstacles were overcome.
The prestigious anesthesiologist Pura Avilés also referred to her experiences at that time. “We faced another extremely challenging technical difficulty when proceeding with the endotracheal intubation of the creatures. It happened because of the proximity of their faces and because of the unwieldy heads. But we were able to solve these problems as well.
It was a resounding and resounding victory. The Holguin newspaper ¡Ahora! in the edition of January 5th, 1974, highlighted in a great headline of its front page the unusual event: “GREAT SUCCESS OF CUBAN MEDICINE”. According to the specialized literature, it was the 132nd surgical intervention on Siamese women in the history of humanity. Ours, as it has been said, were born by natural childbirth, but united from the xiphoid appendix to the umbilical region.
Today Maylín and Mayelín are two completely normal women, who this December 18th, turned 47 years old. Both continue to reside without setbacks or consequences in their native Las Tunas. In addition to granting them strong health and notoriety, life also offered them the joy of being mothers. “At present, we don’t live together, because each one has her own family,” says Mayelín. But we visit each other frequently and are aware of each other to help each other if necessary. Maylín, for her part, remembers that “we lost our mother a few years ago. She always wanted us to be together and that is what we do”. The separation of the Siamese from Las Tunas is recalled in a sculpture erected at the School of Medical Sciences in Holguin. It’s a tribute to a feat of Cuban medicine that began to be shown on December 18, 1973, when the sound of Dr. Vázquez Fernández’s phone ringing augured something that still fills us with wonder.
Author: Marina Menéndez Quintero | firstname.lastname@example.org
December 12, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The debates to legalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy close the legislative year and, also, the list of relevant events noted in Argentina during the first 12 months of the Peronistas return. But the events that will most mark the life of the nation are in the economy and in society itself, at the mercy of both, like everything in this world, of the scourge and the confrontation of the pandemic.
The interruption of the pregnancy will be the last vote that the Senate will take on the 29th of this month after its approval in the House of Representatives, which could lead, if it is approved, to the fulfillment of one of the most important campaign promises of the executive that Alberto Fernandez presides over.
And although the issue is attracting the attention of defenders and detractors, it is discussing spaces in the media with the arrival, in the first two months of 2021, of ten million doses of the vaccine against Covid-19. This was negotiated with Russia through the direct intermediary of President Vladimir Putin to help a country that is accumulating more than 40,000 deaths from Sars-Cov-2, despite the efforts of the government in the care of the disease and the sick.
It could be said that the outbreak of the pandemic in March, barely three months after the arrival of the Front of All to power, has passed through his presidential administration at the beginning, to the point that the Head of State has declared that when history is written he will be remembered as “the president of the pandemic”.
Confronting the coronavirus has been much more difficult for a nation that was left, as Argentines often say, “in intensive care” by Mauricio Macri’s terms and was therefore in a worse position to face a crisis that has continued to rage.
In October 2019, still in the middle of Macri’s administration, the official National Institute of Statistics and Census (Indec) reported that poverty had risen to 35.4 percent and destitution to 7.7 percent.
That was the scenario where the restrictions imposed against the risk of contagion were primed, so that at the end of the first half of 2020, Indec reported another slight rise in poverty by five percentage points to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the price of the basic basket rose by 20 percent: nine percent more than the increase in total family income which grew by 11 points, so that families living standards continued to decline .
The substratum was visible in the macro numbers left by Macri. At the end of his two terms, inflation had escalated from 25 to 50 percent annually, the accumulated peso devaluation was 540 percent, reserves had become thinner and, worst of all, the foreign debt was equivalent to 95 percent of the GDP in a country that was not growing.
Argentina was in virtual default.
Faced with this reality, the impact of what was the biggest challenge and now also the biggest success of the new government is not yet visible: the renegotiation of 99 percent of the debt bonds held by private holders, an agreement that saved the country from default and set sail so that, despite everything, the ship would sail again.
The rescheduling of payments – as the young and talented Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, is accustomed to say, because only the terms have been distanced but Argentina will pay – was completed in September and, although it may have passed by in the midst of the contingencies unleashed by the Covid-19, it can be considered transcendental. Paying interest on the debt, it was impossible to think of any plan for national revitalization.
The payment of $66,137 million dollars of debt under foreign legislation in ten years was restructured with a deduction of around 60 percent, so that only the debts agreed to with the International Monetary Fund itself, relatively “comprehensive” now but responsible for an unpublished disbursement approved by Macri of 57 billion dollars, of which $44 billion were received. Despite its cooperation in the process with the bondholders, the Fund will try to negotiate with the government by imposing prescription books that the Argentine executive does not want to accept.
The successful negotiation with the private sector made it possible for the legislature to approve last month an ambitious and optimistic budget for 2021 that contemplates the forecast of 5.5 percent economic growth after the 12.1 percent collapse of the year that ends,. Inflation is projected to decelerate from 32 percent reported this year, to 29%; and a primary deficit of 4.5 percent, among other aspects.
Martin Guzman, who is responsible for the plan already approved by Congress, has said that this will be one of the elements he would use to negotiate a new program of extended facilities with the IMF.
But the benefit that some of this brings is not yet visible today, when the adversity of the economic figures has been lessened by the government with social measures, aimed at making the burden on the people less heavy.
This shouldering of the burden must be responsible for the fact that, in spite of the sorrows, the executive headed by Alberto and former President Cristina Fernández closed the year with popularity ratings that give more than 50 percent support to the president.
A neoliberal ideologue bent on discrediting him would call it “populism”; but such thinking about people is precisely what offers the nuances that differentiate the models from the socio-political point of view.
Among these measures is the Law of Solidarity and Productive Reactivation, which suspended the formula for adjusting pensions and retirement pensions, and promoted their stability. Also, there is the increase of withholding taxes on exports, the freezing of public service rates throughout the year, the creation of the so-called PAIS Tax on purchases with dollars in order to increase savings, and the increase of taxes only on those who receive more income.
In addition, steps were taken to strengthen local production chains in order to make products cheaper, and it was decided to create a food card that will monitor the nutritional quality of families.
Interviewed by the alternative media El Destape, Alberto Fernandez has confessed the rigors of governing a country that received in crisis and then has vilified the coronavirus. But he has also shown that he feels at ease.
During the last three months, income has exceeded inflation by almost three points, he said. Industries such as the automotive industry produced 20 percent more in November than in the same month last year, and reports state that “in the most popular neighborhoods, where people need it most, demand in the dining halls has fallen,” he said.
“So I say, I was not wrong.
Author Juana Carrasco Martín | email@example.com
December 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The height of irrationality among supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump: they are organizing a “second inauguration” for him, on January 20, at noon, at the same time that he will be sworn in and officially begin the term of 46th U.S. President, Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump’s inauguration will be online and can be considered a provocation and probably a violation of constitutional norms, but there they go proclaiming that it is their right “to freedom of expression.”
As social networks endure everything, more than 60,000 Facebook users are promoting the event they have called “Donald J. Trump’s second presidential inauguration ceremony,” and they claim in a “disclaimer” that they are a sum of 325,000 private individuals, not affiliated with any formal organization, who want to show their support for “President Donald Trump”.
In the face of such ignorance of the popular will expressed in the ballot box and the certification of the Electoral College, Facebook has simply issued another “disclaimer”: “Joe Biden is the president-elect. He will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021.”
As reported in The Hill, the event will be hosted by Ilir Chami and Evi Kokalari, who was allegedly part of Trump’s 2020 campaign and is featured in regular on right-wing news networks such as One American News Network.
In a recent post on the Facebook page, Kokalari re-posted Facebook’s disclaimer, writing: “Our voting rights are under attack! So is our freedom of speech! And FB’s disclaimer in this post proves it.”
One could not expect less from these fans when Trump has not recognized himself as a loser and continues to encourage such false news and disruptive actions.
Rumor has it that in his obsession with staying in the White House he seems to have in mind appointing attorney Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate allegations of voting fraud.
For identification purposes, Powell was separated from the Trump campaign in November when he was mocked for claiming that there was a broad “national conspiracy” to deny the current president victory and an “immense influence of communist money from Venezuela, Cuba and probably China” that interfered with the elections, in addition to claiming that the voting machines used were “created in Venezuela by Hugo Chávez” to ensure that he would never lose an election.
At the time, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, had said in a statement: “Sidney Powell is practicing on her own. She is not a member of Trump’s legal team. Nor is she an attorney for the President in her personal capacity.”
Now, that statement comes crashing down. Desperate Trump put her in the ring and provided evidence that anywhere in the world psychiatry would have already rendered a verdict of committal or at least strong treatment of insanity.
Published: Monday 19 October 2020 | 08:22:21 pm.
By Marina Menendez Quintero
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Bolivia gave itself the necessary vote to defeat the coup d’état and not leave any gaps that would make another manipulation possible: 52.4 percent of the votes awarded to Luis Arce, compared to 31.5 percent attributed to Carlos Mesa, constitute a forceful absolute majority in favor of MAS that demolishes the calculations of all the polls, according to which the Movement Towards Socialism won “tightly” with a little more than ten percent of the votes, or it was going to a second round definitively.
The Bolivian refoundation is back and that round is now irreversible, although the slow official count by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has not yet produced results.
The results of the exit polls, made known shortly after midnight on Sunday, are of such weight that they were recognized, half an hour after they were made public, by the usurper Jeanine Áñez herself, when she congratulated the winning couple through a brief message on Twitter and ended the tension of a thick calm.
This was a step – it must be recognized – in favor of a guaranteed stability, first, by the masses of patient and firm voters who waited in long lines to vote, without yielding to the provocations of an armed and police corps that guarded the schools with long weapons after a week, accusing the followers of the MAS of fraud in advance, and feeding the false possibility of a popular uprising that would give them the excuse for repression and violence, as a way of overturning an overwhelming victory of the left, like this one.
Áñez’s statement buried the possibility of that other feared blow and against which the declarations of the TSE, that had previously suspended the usual system of quick counting by which tendencies are offered on the same election night, weighed heavily, with which the population was left in suspense.
After the fourth press conference given by the incumbent Salvador Romero early in the night and his repeated testimony that the day had been exemplary, it was impossible to question the polls that the Jubilee center had carried out, and whose results were later published by Ciesmori -she affirms that she has the backing and credit of the authorities- through the official television channel Unitel.
It was in this way that those who remained “inside” the social networks, met at the stroke of midnight of the unofficial but already unobjectionable triumph, celebrated with modesty in a brief meeting of the MAS candidates and some of its leaders while, from his refuge in Buenos Aires, its leader, Evo Morales, commemorated in the same way an event that he considered “historic, unprecedented and unique in the world”.
“One year after the coup, we recovered political power democratically with the consciousness and patience of the people,” he added.
Sober and without fanfare, Arce also thanked the people in La Paz and ratified his commitment to work and govern for all Bolivians.
“We are going to recover the country’s economy. We have the obligation to redirect our process of change without hate, learning and overcoming our mistakes,” added the former Minister of Economy, who analysts consider the architect of the good performance of the national economy during the mandates of the MAS, when that area registered a sustained growth unique in Latin America that averaged an annual GDP of eight percent.
In 12 months, Áñez’s dismantling management now leaves a Gross Domestic Product that must contract more than six percent this year, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 40 years. Even taking into account the damage caused by the poorly managed Covid-19 pandemic -another ballast of Jeanine- this picture expresses the mismanagement of a spurious mandate that “governed” for big capital.
However, beyond the well-earned prestige of Arce and his unquestionable gift of agglutinating, Sunday’s vote breathes the conviction of an electorate that, for the most part, has given its support not exactly to a figure, but to a project whose achievements were clearer the more aggressive was the work of destroying them led by Áñez.
Such a conviction, expressed so massively and firmly in spite of so many elements against it – let us remember the previous persecution and demonization of MAS to the point of opening judicial cases against its cadres including Evo – leaves with a sticky nose those who, once again, when looking at Latin America revive the denied assertions of Francis Fukuyama in the 1990s, when he announced “the end of history”.
The lesson must have been taken by the OAS headliner himself, an acolyte of Donald Trump who orchestrated the coup last year, and an enemy of the most puerile progressivism. With less capacity for resignation than Áñez, Luis Almagro waited for Monday morning to arrive to take the bitter pill.
“The people of Bolivia have expressed themselves at the polls. We congratulate @LuchoXBolivia and @LaramaDavid wishing them success in their future endeavors,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am sure that from democracy they will know how to forge a bright future for their country.
Contestant Carlos Mesa also had to embrace the inevitable, considering that the difference was too great for there to be any change. “It is an outcome that we accept,” he said.
A pending issue and of no small consequence will be the reaction of the armed forces, which in an artful way supported the revolt against Morales last year?
But the Latin American and Caribbean reversion, thought out and raised from the centers of power, has suffered another defeat. After the return of Peronism to the Argentine government, the return of Masismo indicates that, as much as it still has to perfect itself and learn, the model that takes man as the center as an alternative to that other system that breathes at the rhythm that the market inhales and exhales has not failed.
On the contrary, the neo-liberal execution shows today its shortcomings in the repeated popular mobilizations that are shaking countries like Colombia and Chile.
The Bolivian masses have shown that despite the injustice and the dirty war, the possibility of changing the status quo remains open if there is clarity, consciousness and the ability to resist.
The exit polls carried out by the Jubilee Foundation and the Ciesmori company show a victory for MAS in both chambers of the National Assembly.
According to their counts, the MAS would obtain 19 seats in the Senate out of the 36 it has, while two seats would be in dispute between that political force and the Citizens’ Community (CC) in Potosi and Santa Cruz, reported Telesur.
According to Jubilee information, MAS won five of the country’s nine departments: La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosí, Oruro and Pando, while Carlos Mesa’s Citizen Community won in Chuquisaca, Beni and Tarija. Finally, Creemos’s candidacy, led by Luis Fernando Camacho (who won 14 percent of the votes in the presidential race), would be the winner in Santa Cruz.
Greetings from the left
Politicians from the Latin American and Caribbean left immediately spoke out on the social network Twitter:
Congratulations to #MAS, which has recovered at the polls the power that was usurped by the oligarchy, with the complicity of the #OAS and the imperial guide. #Cuba shares joy for the triumph of #LuisArce. The Bolivarian ideal is reborn. (Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Cuban President)
I congratulate the Bolivian people for having restored democracy. Congratulations to Luis Arce and my friend Evo Morales who after a difficult year can see the popular vote respected. (Luiz Lula da Silva, former Brazilian President)
Congratulations to Lucho Arce and David Choquehuanca who, together with Evo, built a great popular triumph in Bolivia. The happy Patria Grande. (Cristina Fernández, Vice President of Argentina)
Great Victory! The Bolivian people, united and conscious, defeated with votes the coup d’état that they gave to our brother Evo. Congratulations to President-elect Luis Arce, Vice President David Choquehuanca and our Indian Chief of the South @evoespueblo. Jallalla Bolivia! (Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela)
By Osviel Castro Medel
August 25, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
From the nasobuco, that addendum of which we knew little in times of normality, one can write today almost a treatise, the same with Cuban humor as with the most serious things.
There have been those who, accustomed to using it almost all the time, forgot to take it off before performing some acts and thus spilled coffee on their bodies or bit their tongues trying to eat.
It has also been responsible for certain language tangles, such as that of a Bayamese man who spoke to his wife about “fixing the pedals to look for food for the boys” and she understood that when the carnivals were suspended they would have to sell the “males” (as pigs are called in much of the Orient). “Don’t even think about it,” she answered, to the surprise of the first.
Regardless of any joke, the nasobuco helped, along with other measures, to contain the new coronavirus in Cuba. However, for some weeks now we have seen with alarm how hundreds of people have dispensed with its use, not only in the Cuban capital, the epicenter of the disease.
Let us go -even in the provinces that are right now in the third phase- through some main streets, let us go to one of the long daily queues, let us go to the parks, to the bus stops, let us get on public transportation or let us enter centers that serve the population and we will find many citizens without the minimum protection that these times advise.
There have even been images uploaded to social networks of crowds drinking beer from the same tap, or rum from the bottle, as if they were celebrating the end of the pandemic. They have, unfortunately, entered the so-called relaxation stage, unaware of the aforementioned and recited perception of risk.
The bitter spike in numbers these days – which are people, not numbers, of course – is linked precisely to overconfidence or chanting victory ahead of time.
A few days ago a friend, in an educated hypothesis, was walking without her nasobuco in the middle of a crowd. When I made the observation, she answered the incredible: “Ah, we are already in the third phase, stop that, there is no need”.
When the Temporary Working Group of the Government for the confrontation of the new coronavirus announced the entry into the third phase of almost all the provinces and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, it was emphasized: “We reiterate the need to maintain the health measures and physical isolation, which are applicable in the three phases, including the use of nasobuco in public and closed places, where there is a concentration of people”.
Do we need to pressure our hands a little with the fines and other coercive measures? Could it be that the messages in the media calling for a collective conscience do not reach the majority? Will we courageously denounce the irresponsible without creating a witch-hunt? Have we already forgotten the regulations regarding the hygienization of hands and surfaces, the distance between people and the recommendation to keep ourselves informed?
These are questions that can help move thought and generate action. In the end, the most important thing is to know that the battle against the virus is not over; it has probably entered its most critical phase, and we can continue to move backwards if, as we say in the popular jargon, we throw ourselves into the middle street or get infected with “extreme freedom” and throw the nasobuco and all the rules related to the preservation of our health into a corner.
August 22, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
To be honest, I thought, at first, that the word nasobuco was an Asian voice like Kawasaki or Tamagochi. Since it was the genesis of the pandemic in that region, the word could well spread along with the new coronavirus. However, in recent readings of specialized articles, I could confirm that it is not so, even some scholars consider that Cuba is one of the few countries in America, where this garment or tool that protects the nose and mouth from the exit and entrance of microbes and bacteria is called this.
The most experienced ones grant the Cuban people this linguistic license because of its deep relationship with the medical and scientific community, which is where this neologism is really used more, referring to the nasal and mouth region (nose and mouth) belonging to the respiratory system.
For other countries, it is less complicated and they simply call it tapaboca, cubreboca, mascara, or barbijo… The important thing in all cases is to keep it well on and not to use it as a hat, mask, cubrementón or “tapa güergüero”, as my grandmother would call it when it is worn around the neck as if it were a bandage covering a tracheotomy.
The truth is that the nasobuco (or whatever you want to call it) has come to stay for an indeterminate period of time and with great possibilities that it will be a garment that we will carry in our wallet or pocket like we carry a handkerchief, keys or wallet.
It is already part of our attire and although many times we forget it when we leave the house and have to return to look for it, it is a component that has taken on vital (and read well: vital) importance.
Like everything new in clothing, the nasobuco does not escape fashion. Its confection already reaches personalization edges. The same is combined with the colors of clothes, shoes, cap, headscarf, necklaces, bracelets… When its color does not play with any of the above-mentioned it is that it is combined with the panties, brassiere’s or panties that we carry. In this case, it is not advisable to find out too much.
The designs and materials used are different. Those more spiritual, artistic and sensitive, make drawings, embroider flowers, embed a sticker of your company, favorite sports club or the name of your loved one. It should not be misunderstood in case you have two names embodied. It can be your wife and daughter or son, father and brother… in short, if not, it is not your business either: each one puts in their nasobuco what they want! I said whatever you like, not wherever you like; we talked about that and I hope it was clear, even though I said it with the nasobuco on.
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.