A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the three interviews that I have done with Aterciopelados in recent years, the Colombian rock duo repeated like a mantra their desire to perform in Cuba. Finally, they will succeed in November when they will lead, together with Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux, the roster of the Patria Grande Festival to be held in Havana and other provinces from 17 to 26 next month. The duo, composed of vocalist and composer Andrea Echeverri and bassist and also composer, Hector Buitrago, will premiere new themes on the island and perform the classics of their repertoire included on the DVD Reluciente, rechinante y aterciopelado (Gleaming, Screechy and Velvety) (2016).
Aterciopelados has a 20 year-plus career, seven studio albums and a handful of songs like “Bolero Falaz” and “Florecita Rockera”, which have become cult themes for their thousands of followers on the Latin scene.
These Colombians, responsible for the expansion of Latin rock on the international stage during the 1990s, will come to Havana after taking part in a historic moment for their country and Latin America. The duo went on stage a few days ago at a concert in Bogota to celebrate the peace agreements between the Government of José Manuel Santos and the FARC-EP.
“It was a great privilege to be part of this historic moment for the country; we were very excited. We all cried, it was emotional, but there was always the specter of what might happen in the plebiscite. Now the question is how to avoid this pitfall; that will be the ultimate test of the dialogue: the real ability to agree among abysmally opposed thoughts,” said Andrea about the triumph of the NO in the plebiscite, in this new interview with Granma, responding by e-mail together with her companion, Héctor Buitrago.
Since its foundation, Aterciopelados has taken sides for the end of the war in Colombia. What did it mean to you to have witnessed the peace agreements?
Andrea: We’ve spent sad and confused days. After being present and excited at the signing of the agreement between the Government and the FARC-EP, the YES lost in the referendum. Without fully understanding the implications of this setback yet, we think that despite the frustration, the conditions for dialogue and peace have been built anyway. The FARC-EP have said that their only weapons will be words, and the government has confirmed that another agreement will be sought that would be agreeable to the majority of Colombians.
Did you think that these agreements would someday materialize?
Andrea: We were really losing hope because the conflict has lasted practically since we were born; there were several attempts and no agreement had been reached. In some way, we became desensitized.
In several of our past interviews you have told me about your interest in playing in Cuba and you will fulfill that wish during the Patria Grande Festival dedicated to great female voices of the region. What are your expectations in those upcoming concerts which, coincidentally, will be held on this historic moment?
Andrea: – We are happy to go to Cuba, happy to accompany female singing, and despite the results, we remain committed to a life project, with an ideology, with a pacifist lyricism of gender, ancestral and ecological.
You’ve just released the CD DVD “Reluciente”. What stage of Aterciopelados does this album summarize?
Hector: It’s a retrospective. It is the celebration of our mileage; it’s like suddenly looking at the past through the eyes of those for whom our songs have been important, and to feel happy, honored, and grateful. And to also feel willing to see it as a new beginning, to continue learning and finding new stuff, errors and bets, wins and losses, risks and creation.
What differences do you perceive between the current Latin scene which gave birth to the band and the present?
Hector: It has grown a lot, the infrastructure, the technical and musical level have greatly improved, which is reflected in the large number and diversity of bands and projects currently on the scene.
Do you feel that Latin rock bands have lost the social activism that, for example, has always characterized Aterciopelados?
Andrea: I think that political militancy should not be imposed. We found it on the road, and it has accompanied us, nurtured us, and strengthened us. But I also feel that it should not be imposed, should not be forced upon; sometimes you want to denounce, criticize, sometimes you’re angry, but sometimes you feel serene and want to dance, sometimes you’re even in love, and you have to write about what you feel and respect that which you are breathing and express it.
In the new album there is the theme “RE”. Can it be seen as a tribute to the eponymous album Café Tacuba?
Hector: Yes it can. The song came up because Ruben himself, the singer of Cafe Tacuba, asked Andrea how Aterciopelados could contribute to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the “RE” album. So Andrea decided to write that song.
The Duo has always maintained a strong stance in favor of women’s rights. Do you think discrimination against women in Latin America has decreased?
Andrea: I think we have certainly conquered spaces, but there’s still a long way to go. There’s too much inequality, too much patriarchal structure dominating the scene. In fact I think the hyper-sexualization and trivialization of culture (sexualized capitalism, reggaeton, pole-dancing in gyms and, in general, the realm of appearance over substance), has resulted in a setback in some respects. Furthermore, it has strengthened the vision of women as sex objects (a small piece of meat with a barbie-song complex, as we sing in “Oye mujer”), and the impoverishment of the many subtle dimensions of femininity.
What are you working on now after releasing “Reluciente”?
Hector: The idea is to make a new record in 2017. We have material from our solo albums “Conector” and “Ruiseñora”, each in its own house, but the idea is also to compose collectively.
The band has always experimented with rock and the native sounds of Colombia and Latin America. Will you keep that creative spirit in your next albums?
Andrea: The idea is that the high-risk creative spirit is never lost. We have included not only rock and folklore, but also electronics, reggae, disco, blues, music from the Atlantic, music from the Pacific, beach and mountain music; we have even mixed different things in one song, we welcome everything that comes our way, even reggaeton!!! I would love to make anti-reggaeton reggaeton.
El dúo colombiano de rock, Aterciopelados, tocará en Cuba el próximo noviembre
En las tres entrevistas que le he realizado a Aterciopelados en los últimos años, el dúo colombiano de rock ha repetido como un mantra su deseo de tocar en Cuba. Finalmente lo lograrán en noviembre, cuando encabecen junto a la rapera chilena Ana Tijoux el cartel del festival Patria Grande, que se celebrará en La Habana y otras provincias del país del 17 al 26 del próximo mes. El dúo, integrado por la vocalista y compositora Andrea Echeverri y el bajista y el también compositor, Héctor Buitrago, estrenará en la isla nuevos temas y presentará los clásicos de su repertorio agrupados en el DVD, Reluciente, rechinante y aterciopelado ( 2016).
Aterciopelados lleva más de 20 años de carrera, siete discos de estudio y un puñado de canciones como Bolero Falaz y Florecita rockera, que han sido asumidas como un objeto de culto por sus miles de seguidores en la escena latina.
Estos colombianos, responsables de la expansión del rock latino en los escenarios internacionales durante la década de los 90, llegarán a La Habana después de participar en un momento histórico para su país y América Latina. El dúo subió a los escenarios hace pocos días en un concierto en Bogotá para celebrar los acuerdos de paz entre el Gobierno de José Manuel Santos y las FARC-EP.
«Fue un gran privilegio ser parte de este momento histórico para el país, estábamos muy emocionados. Todos lloramos, fue emocionante, aunque siempre estaba el fantasma de lo que podía suceder en el plebiscito. Ahora la pregunta es cómo sortear este escollo, esa será la máxima prueba del diálogo, de la verdadera capacidad de ponerse de acuerdo entre pensamientos abismalmente contrarios, dice Andrea sobre el triunfo del No en el plebiscito en esta nueva entrevista con Granma, respondida vía correo electrónicojuntoa su compañero de ruta, Héctor Buitrago.
—Desde su fundación Aterciopelados ha tomado partido por el fin de la guerra en Colombia. ¿Qué significado le otorgan al hecho de haber sido testigos de los acuerdos de paz?
Andrea:—Hemos pasado días tristes y confusos. Luego de estar presentes y emocionados en la firma del acuerdo entre el gobierno y las FARC-EP, perdió el Sí en el plebiscito. Sin entender a cabalidad todavía las repercusiones de este revés, pensamos que de todas maneras, a pesar de la frustración, las condiciones para el diálogo y la paz han sido construidas. Las FARC-EP han dicho que su única arma serán las palabras, y el gobierno ha afirmado que se buscará otro acuerdo con el que la mayoría de los colombianos esté de acuerdo.
—¿Pensaron que estos acuerdos se concretarían algún día?
Andrea:—Realmente íbamos perdiendo la esperanza porque el conflicto ha durado prácticamente desde que nacimos, hubo varios intentos y no se había logrado concretar algún acuerdo. De alguna manera nos insensibilizamos.
—En varias entrevistas que hemos realizado me han hablado de su interés en tocar en Cuba y ya podrán cumplir ese deseo durante el festival Patria Grande dedicado a grandes voces femeninas de la región. ¿Qué esperan de esos próximos conciertos que casualmente se celebrarán en este momento histórico?
Andrea:— Estamos felices de ir a Cuba, felices de acompañar cantos femeninos, y a pesar de los resultados, seguimos comprometidos con un proyecto de vida, con una ideología, con un lirismo pacifista, de género, ancestral y ecológico.
—Acaban de estrenar su CD DVD Reluciente. ¿Qué etapa de Aterciopelados resume este material?
Héctor:—Es una retrospectiva. Es la celebración del kilometraje, es de pronto mirar al pasado con los ojos de aquellos para los que han sido importantes nuestras canciones, y sentirse feliz, honrado, agradecido. Y sentirse también con ganas de que sea un nuevo comienzo, que siga el aprendizaje y los hallazgos, los errores y las apuestas, los triunfos y las derrotas, los riesgos y la creación.
—¿Qué diferencias perciben entre la escena latina que vio nacer a la banda y la actual?
Héctor:—Ha crecido mucho, la infraestructura, el nivel técnico y musical han mejorado bastante, eso se ve reflejado en la gran cantidad y diversidad de bandas y proyectos que se mueven en la escena.
—¿Sienten que los grupos latinos de rock han perdido la militancia social que, por ejemplo, ha caracterizado siempre a Aterciopelados?
Andrea:—Creo que la militancia no se debe imponer. Nosotros la encontramos en el camino, y nos ha acompañado, nos ha nutrido, nos ha fortalecido. Pero también siento que no se debe imponer, no se debe forzar, a veces quieres denunciar, criticar, a veces estás furioso, pero a veces estás sereno y con ganas de bailar, a veces hasta enamorado, y hay que escribir sobre lo que se siente, respetar eso que se respira, expresarlo.
—En el nuevo material aparece el tema Re ¿Se puede considerar un homenaje al álbum homónimo de Café Tacuba?
Héctor:—Si así es, la canción surgió porque el mismo Rubén, cantante de Cafe Tacvba hablando con Andrea le preguntó cómo Aterciopelados podría aportar a la celebración del aniversario 20 del disco RE. Así es que Andrea decidió escribir esta canción
—El dúo siempre ha mantenido una fuerte postura a favor de los derechos de la mujer ¿Creen que ha disminuido la discriminación contra las mujeres en Hispanoamérica?
Andrea:—Creo que sin duda hemos conquistado espacios, pero todavía falta mucho camino por recorrer. Hay demasiada desigualdad, demasiada estructura patriarcal dominando el panorama. De hecho creo que la hipersexualización y banalización de la cultura (capitalismo sexualizado, reguetón, pole dancing en los gimnasios y en general el reino de la apariencia sobre la esencia) da como resultado un revés en algunos aspectos. Además se ha ido fortaleciendo la visión de la mujer como objeto sexual(pedacito de carne con complejo de barbie-canción, como cantamos en Oye mujer), y el empobrecimiento de las múltiples y sutiles dimensiones de lo femenino.
—¿En qué trabajan ahora después de publicar Reluciente?
Héctor—La idea es hacer un disco nuevo en el 2017. Tenemos material de nuestros discos en solitario Conector y Ruiseñora, cada uno en su casa, pero la idea también es componer en colectivo.
—La banda siempre ha experimentado con el rock y sonidos autóctonos de Colombia y América Latina. ¿Mantendrán ese espíritu creativo en sus próximos discos?
Andrea:—La idea es que el espíritu creativo de alto riesgo no se pierda nunca. Hemos incluido no solo rock y folclore, también electrónica, regue, disco, blues, música del Atlántico, música del Pacífico, música de playa y de montaña, incluso hemos mezclado diferentes cosas en una sola canción, bienvenido todo lo que se atraviese, hasta reguetón!!! Me encantaría hacer reguetón antireguetón.
Revised by Walter Lippmann.
The Swedish Academy, in charge of making the announcement, said it recognized the 75 year-old rock star for “having created new poetic expressions within the great tradition of American song.”
Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told Dylan that “for 54 years he has been inventing himself.”
Blonde on Blonde, his seventh studio album is “an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming, to gather sayings, his brilliant way of thinking,” said Danius.
Dylan, whose real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, was born in 1941 and began his musical career in 1959, playing in cafes in Minnesota, USA
But his best known songs are from the 1960s such as Blowin ‘in the Wind and The Times They are A-Changin, some of which became anthems of the civil rights movement turned and against the Vietnam War.
Since June 7, 1988, Dylan has linked one tour with another, so he named his activity in the last three decades as the Never Ending Tour (The tour endless).
Before being honored by the Academy, Dylan already had industry recognition.
“His work remains totally devoid of conventionality, moral sleight or pop pabulum,” wrote Bill Wyman, the former bassist for the Rolling Stones for the American newspaper The New York Times in 2013.
“His lyricism is exquisite. It is demonstrated that its themes are timeless. Few poets have been more influential” he said.
“I’m not the first to suggest it, but it’s time to take the idea seriously. The Nobel Literature Prize is not awarded posthumously and Mr. Dylan is already in his seventies. Alfred Nobel decreed that the prize should go to a writer with “highlights work in an ideal direction”, he continued.
The Nobel Prize for Literature, together with the winners of the other disciplines, will be presented on December 10.
La Academia Sueca, la encargada de hacer el anuncio, dijo que reconoció a la estrella del rock de 75 años por “haber creado nuevas expresiones poéticas dentro de la gran tradición de la canción estadounidense”.
Sara Danius, secretaria permanente de la Academia Sueca, dijo de Dylan que “durante 54 años ha estado inventándose a sí mismo”.
De Blonde on Blonde, su séptimo disco de estudio, es “un extraordinario ejemplo de su brillante manera de rimar, de juntar refranes, de su brillante forma de pensar”, aseguró Danius.
Dylan, cuyo verdadero nombre es Robert Allen Zimmerman, nació en 1941 y comenzó su carrera musical en 1959, tocando en cafeterías de Minnesota, EE.UU.
Pero sus canciones más conocidas son de la década de 1960, como Blowin’ in the Wind y The Times They are A-Changin, algunas de las cuales se volvieron himnos del movimiento por los derechos civiles y contra la guerra de Vietnam.
Desde el 7 de junio de 1988, Dylan ha enlazado una gira con otra, por lo que él mismo bautizó su actividad de las últimas tres décadas como el Never Ending Tour (La gira sin fin).
Reconocimiento de la industria
Antes de ser distinguido por la Academia, Dylan ya contaba con el reconocimiento de la industria.
“Su trabajo se mantiene totalmente carente de convencionalidad, prestidigitación moral o pábulo pop”, escribía Bill Wyman, el exbajista de los Rolling Stones para el diario estadounidense The New York Times en 2013.
“Su lirismo es exquisito. Está demostrado que sus temas son eternos. Pocos poetas habrán sido más influyentes”, explicaba.
“No soy el primero en sugerirlo, pero es hora de tomar la idea en serio. El Premio Nobel de Literatura no se otorga de forma póstuma y el señor Dylan ya está en sus setentas. Alfred Nobel decretó que el premio debía ir a un escritor con “el trabajo más destacado en una dirección ideal”, proseguía.
El Nobel de Literatura, al igual que los ganadores de las otras disciplinas, será entregado el 10 de diciembre.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily Por Esto!, of Merida, Mexico
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Marijuana is having a good time in the Caribbean. With the exception of Cuba, cannabis is widespread in the insular Caribbean, although it is no longer the “ganja” that came to the Caribbean from India and was used by humble workers in Jamaica to free themselves for a few moments from their cruel jobs.
So says an article published by the Italian magazine TTC (Travel Trade Caribbean), specializing in the tourism industry of the Caribbean region, today threatened by the dangerous presence of this universal scourge.
In 2015, the growth, trade and private possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana by adults and the growing of up to 5 plants for private consumption and medicinal, religious and scientific purposes was decriminalized in Jamaica, as a celebration of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, the extraordinary Jamaican musician who was addicted to smoking the weed.
According to TTC, the successes of marijuana have gone so far in 2016 that the Bhang Travel Inc., in Miami, Florida, the Cannabis Industries Premiere Travel and Event Agency, launched the first-ever Jamaican Cannabis Cruise setting sail departing from Miami on January 2017 with destination Ocho Rios Port in Jamaica.
Currently, in many parts of the world, the number and influence of marijuana advocates is increasing. They argue for its general decriminalization or at least for its free use in medicine. Also increasing is the number of the detractors of marijuana which is still classified in the world as a class A (High-risk) drug, together with Heroin, Cocaine, Amphetamines and ecstasy (MDMA).
Cautiously, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recommended to its member countries the need for further research, before accepting new programs to liberate its use. The head of the organization, Dr. James Hospedales, advises “proceed with an abundance of caution.” He emphasizes the immense importance of youth protection.
Two Caribbean nations, US protectorate Puerto Rico and Jamaica, already have a medicinal cannabis program in place and others are taking steps to decriminalize it.
According to an analysis posted in the Internet about Jamaica, “the country is trying to cash in on the multi-billion-dollar health and wellness tourism sector that several Caribbean countries are turning to. But it won’t be the use of cannabis for traditional medicine purposes alone it is contemplating. It is also planning to use products made from the herb that would play a major part in the tourism sector”.
Jamaica´s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said Jamaica’s lush and rustic southwestern coast is “ideally suited for the concept of “cannabis-infused tourism” where products made from the herb would play a major part in the tourism sector”.
In 2015 the countries that had the least restrictive cannabis laws were Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Germany, the Netherlands, some U.S. states, Native American Indian reservations, and cities as well as some territories of Australia.
The countries that maintain the strictest cannabis laws are China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
The global market for a cannabis tourism stands at around US $494 billion, according to the article in TTC.
Although the flow of cocaine heading north has been reduced, violent crime and drug trafficking mean serious threats to Central America and the Caribbean. Given its
geographical location between the main producers of coca in the South and the main consumers of narcotics in the North, the region has become a drug corridor.
October 3, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Leonardo Boff, is a Franciscan monk who was one of the main creators of the liberation theology-until he decided in 1992 to leave the priesthood. On August 12, he granted an interview to journalist Martin Granovsky, from the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, in which he analyzed the course that Brazil and Argentina have taken due to their subordination to transnational capital.
Asked about the reasons for the advance of neo-conservative processes in Latin America –by means of a coup, as in Brazil, or by the ballot box, as in Argentina– Boff linked them to a new cold war that is being waged between the United States and China.
The Asian giant, now part of the BRICS bloc, has been gaining presence in Latin America and this contradicts the US purpose to control the continent. By attacking Brazil, the US attacks China and its huge investments in Latin America that only last year meant $54 billion for the railway that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific.
Latin Americans are frightened by the U.S. negotiations with Argentine president Mauricio Macri regarding two new military bases, one on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and another in Patagonia, near the world’s largest freshwater aquifer, says the leader of liberation theology, who is already 77 years old.
Regarding the coup process in Brazil, Boff reported that the Movimiento Sin Tierra [Landless Movement] has the support of Pope Francisco who got very enthusiastically close to President Dilma Roussef; so much so that she has greeted him on her every trip to Europe.
In one of her trips she was accompanied by the Brazilian actress Leticia Sabatella who gave the Pope a first-hand description of the situation. She let him know that the main issue was defense of democracy, because attacking Dilma would bring violent forms of social repression. After listening to her, the Pope said: “It is the work of capitalism: of Brazilian capitalism and transnational capitalism.”
Boff believes the Pope has seen that neo-liberalism, which gives more value to the market than to the common good for people, produces great marginalization and great poverty. The forty million Brazilians who were rescued from hunger in the country are now begining to return to their previous situation.
“As is known, the deputy who remained as interim president dismissed Dilma´s cabinet and attacked the Ministry of Social Welfare and the agrarian reform. Social projects are increasingly underfunded, attention to culture was scaled down from a ministry to an undersecretary, and Michel Temer cut the subsidies to public universities by half “.
According to Boff, the Pope considered that the parliamentary coup without bayonets seeks the same effect as military coups did before: to reinforce a group of big national capitalists together with transnational capitalists aimed at a greater accumulation of capital by privatizing national assets.
There is a project to recolonize Latin America and increasingly turn it into an area that only exports pure raw materials without adding value to its products. Brazil itself has more than 70 million hectares to produce and satisfy hunger worldwide, and has more than enough water, said Boff.
“Everything would fall under the control of the privatized or internationalized capital. The Pope is aware of this phenomenon and of the fact that the poor would return to misery and hunger.”
In Argentina, the state caries out a policy of privatization. It talks to the companies. There is no society but individuals. Wealth accumulation is concentrated in a shrinking group. You cannot analyze the situation in Argentina or Brazil separately or assess the attempt by the United States to align the two countries within the imperial strategy in isolation, Boff said.
“In the 13 years when the Workers Party (PT) in power, it was shown that there are two projects at stake. The two want to be democratic, but neo-liberal democracy is for the few and makes rich policies for the rich and poor policies for the poor.”
Boff recalled that there are 210 million people in Brazil and 71,440 superrich who control more than half of the gross domestic product. The World Bank has said that the greatest accumulation of capital in the world is in Brazil, where the most anti-popular and anti-social capitalists reside. They keep much of their fortunes abroad in tax havens and operate through offshore companies. This is definitely an example of the two types of democracy.
The other type of democracy, that of Lula in Brazil, is the inclusive democracy, open to all. The global correlation of forces makes it impossible to prevent the accumulation of capital. But at least we can put some limit to it. In his interview with the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, Leonardo Boff concluded, “We must do it.
August 22, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The main utility of presidential elections in the US is simply that it’s a weapon of mass distraction –creating a fiction that presidents actually rule and that voters actually determine the country’s destiny.
In truth, presidents and their minions in Congress and the Supreme Court may govern, but they certainly don’t rule. Elections serve to transfer power from one set of elites to another set of elites, cloaking the spectacle in democratic legitimacy, as the ruling class watch from their corporate suites, pleased with the quadrennial national consensus-building bread & circus event.
This is how Gerald Sussman, a sociologist and Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, defines the US electoral system in his essay “American Elections: Weapons of Mass Distraction”.
If Bernie Sanders had managed to capture the largest number of delegates, the nomination, and the election, it simply would have left a democratic socialist in the White House with all the levers of power intact to discipline him back to what Noam Chomsky has called “the spectrum of thinkable thought.”
“Indeed –wrote Sussman– if the ruling class were a bit wiser, they would have backed Bernie instead of Hillary for the nomination and the presidency just to crush the hopes of the left. The real value of the Sanders campaign was to incite courage in young people to confront the establishment. A Clinton victory in November might bring thousands of protesters into the streets, but a Trump victory would probably bring millions.”
The designation, in recent conventions, of two of the presidential candidates most despised by the activists and supporters of their own parties –Democratic and Republican respectively– has placed millions of voters between the proverbial rock and a hard place before the presidential election on November 8th.
They are equally forced to choose between Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D), the lesser of two evils.
Driven by the fallacy that democracy consists of choosing between the two options offered by the two-party system (duopoly) there must be many in the United States today who believe that the small number of options offered is to be blamed for this situation, and think a multiplicity of parties would be the solution.
But soon enough they learn of the existence of many countries where there are multiple parties (dozens and even hundreds), and the situation is the same: power always remains in the hands of rich, who govern for the benefit of the rich.
Historically in the US, whenever an upstart candidate has emerged, having somehow managed to infiltrate the system to the point of seriously jeopardizing the duopolistic control of power (as happened with Jesse Jackson in 1988, Ross Perot in 1992, Ralph Nader and Howard Dean in 2004 and to some extent Bernie Sanders in 2016), they have been confronted by the money, the means and the Machiavellian methods of pressure which, in the end, prove insurmountable, although for some time they serve as a distraction for their followers.
As journalist Barbara G. Ellis has noted on the Truthout website, Bernie Sanders became a monumental threat to the Democratic nomination with demonstrations of tens of thousands of potential voters across the country. Volunteers, mostly young people, vastly outnumbered those of Clinton.
Simultaneously, Trump, with his rallies and wins in the primaries, seemed to be in the same situation with respect to the Republican machinery.
Just as anguish and despair become increasingly pressing for the destitute masses in the world and foreshadow an inevitable popular uprising at a global scale, within the US, the contradiction between the 1% that dominates everything and the 99% who can no longer be fooled by the myths and tricks of representative democracy controlled by the rich becomes more acute.
The experience gathered from the ongoing electoral process in the US clearly shows that small cosmetic changes are not enough to make the current system work. Neither new parties or structural changes in the existing ones, nor unstable coalitions will be able to save the system. The problem lies in the unjust nature of the capitalist system itself that, by its current imperialist nature, hinders the democratic development of the nation and oppresses its citizens.
August 16, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
The surprising successes of Bernie Sanders on the left flank and Donald Trump on the right flank –in part, believed to owe something to the new positions of the “white working class” in the US– have sparked new interest within the political outlook of the nation.
So writes Zoltan Zigedy, a prominent American Marxist political commentator in his “ZZ” column.
The Wall Street Journal calls them the “forgotten Americans.” Others see them as racist and xenophobic. In 2008, then-aspiring-President Obama characterized them way: “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration.” Whether they are forgotten, dismissed, or demonized, the “white working class” has been discovered this election season.
Even a decade ago, it was widely believed that there was no working class in the US –only a vast middle class and the poor. Fostered by social scientists, mainstream politicians, and trade union functionaries, the fiction prevailed that, apart from the very rich, everyone was either middle class or poor.
Of course, this illusion began to shatter in the wake of the 2008 crash and the ensuing economic stagnation. Likewise, the rebellion against corporate, cookie-cutter candidates in the 2016 primary contests exposed a class division that fit poorly in the harmonious picture of one big class with insignificant extremes at either end.
Whatever else the 2016 electoral campaigns have revealed, they certainly have shattered the illusion that the US is largely a classless society. But US elites and their opinion-making toadies struggle to find the “white working class,” says Zigedy.
Just as the mass media has fostered caricatures of African-Americans, the media and cultural/entertainment corporations craft an unflattering image of white, working class citizens. Whereas Black people are saddled with images of violence, idleness, promiscuity, and criminality, white workers are portrayed as bigoted, socially, culturally and intellectually backward, superstitious, and conservative.
One would never know from the “hood” movies, talk radio hysteria, and the crime-obsessed news anchors, that most African-Americans are a significant part of the working class, maintain stable households, and work diligently for a better life. Similarly, most white workers are neither gun fanatics nor Bible-thumpers. Most white workers do not attack gays, abuse their spouses and children, torch mosques or lynch Black people.
According to Zigedy, the common perception dished out by the mass media is that white workers constitute the electoral base for Donald Trump, when the truth is that the median household income for his primary voters shows that Trump’s followers are more typical of the white petty-bourgeoisie than the white working class.
Certainly media elites, pundits, and politicians do not want to talk about the latent rebelliousness of the white working class. There is a large majority of white workers who believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. This is an opinion that should not surprise anyone since the median household income in the US has declined by 7% since 2000.
The current crisis of political credibility shows that they, like most of the rest of the population, have yet to find a way out.
Social scientists have begun to acknowledge the toll that corporate pillage has taken on the working class, very dramatically of late in the case of the white working class.
Death rates, especially from alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide have risen sharply among white workers. The institutions that formerly traded a measure of privilege to white workers for their compliance and docility have now abandoned them.
According to Zigedy, the Democratic Party, for example, is so thoroughly corrupted by corporate money that when a benefit or privilege is wiped out linked to interracial prejudice, false friends and bombastic demagogues, enemies of the working class, take the opportunity and use it to mask the identity of the common enemy and thus weaken the unity in the ranks of U.S. workers.
August 13, 2016.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Today increasingly-substantial financial resources are being invested in the creation of new technologies of war and weapons of mass destruction, though there isn’t the least defensive justification for it in the conditions of the post-Cold War world.
Europe, which benefited so much from the conquest and colonization of America, Africa and Asia, has been responsible for dragging the world into two global wars. The so-called old continent should have made a supreme effort to avoid catastrophes like those in the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, as well as the criminal extermination actions which for many years have been perpetrated by the Zionist forces against the martyred Palestinian people, to mention only the bloodiest.
Only 19 years elapsed between the first and second world wars. World War II ended 71 years ago. However, since then there have been conflicts and wars that have employed several times more explosives and chemical weapons than both world wars together.
The policy of allocating more massive budgets for war and lowering taxes for the more powerful contributors means less money for social expenditures. This does not affect the entire US population equally. Neo-liberal practices, together with globalization, ensure that the rich continue to increase their wealth while the poor continue to grow in number and become increasingly poorer.
In the United States, federal programs for education, community development, grants to agencies for environmental protection, financing for development, low-cost alternative energy, disease control, drug abuse treatment, health and occupational security management, as well as public safety are reduced or eliminated; this list includes only the most recently and hardest hit areas.
The United States presents the paradox of being the richest country in the world
and at the same time it has one of the highest indices of poverty among developed countries. The US currently has, proportionally, the largest number of poor people without health insurance, yet with insecurity and food deficiency among the rich countries.
These sad social realities for the people of the United States, caused by imperialist wars in terms of soldier casualties and injuries, cannot compare, however, with the enormous damage that these disproportionate wars have meant for the attacked peoples.
The farcical excuses presented by the United States, first, to justify the occupation and, then, to save face in view of the evidence of a lost war, have been grotesque.
This happens when Washington cannot find a way out of the attacked countries without obtaining substantial economic benefits for the transnational monopolies that were the real reason for the aggression in the first place.
The noble aspiration of mankind to make the twenty-first century the first in history without wars died early. Against the accumulation of hardships, atrocities, cruelties and sacrifices that characterize the reality of war, the struggle of humanity for peace becomes a vital necessity.
Humanity today has sufficient culture and experience to reject the notion that peace must be imposed by war. Peace can and must be a conscious objective of human intelligence and solidarity.
It has been said many times that the people of the United States are the only ones who can carry out the titanic feat of bringing down the most powerful and bloodthirsty empire ever known to humanity. Today, humanity anxiously waiting to see that people react to give it the solidarity it deserves!
These days, people around the world have been able to follow, sometimes with disgust, the process of elections that every four years takes place in the United States.
On this occasion, however, new and striking manifestations of the profound crisis that engulfs the political system of the only superpower of this era have become apparent.
The campaign of the Republican candidate Donald Trump has allowed everyone to see, in all its crudeness, the terrible fascist danger that looms over humanity. By contrast, the Democratic Party candidate, Bernard Sanders, had encouraging messages that had never before been heard from within the highest echelons of imperialist politics.
July 28, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Nobody in the world doubts that a victory by Donald Trump in the US presidential election would mean a devastating blow to Americans who are struggling to save democracy and avoid a reversal and the country´s political shift to the right that would be even worse than the one caused by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The most politically-advanced sector of the citizenship of the United States fears, rightly, that the world’s only superpower is living through a crucial time when fascism is casting its ominous shadow.
Trump’s social base consists of an alliance between billionaires and snippets of the lower middle class, which already resulted in such other monstrosities as the Tea Party. Its greatest danger lies in his social base and will be there beyond the elections.
The class struggle opposing this alliance is concentrated, for now, in communities such as the immigrants, women and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and not in the working class, where it has a relatively low support.
But to slow the rise of the right and stop its xenophobic attacks, it is imperative that immigrants, the BLM movement, women and youth form an alliance to strengthen their ranks in the struggle against their oppression by US capitalism.
Trump has been called a megalomaniac, paranoid, a racist, xenophobic… But, in a speech on the third day of the Democratic National Convention, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg clearly questioned the sanity of the US Republican presidential candidate: “Does Donald Trump only say crazy things, or does he say crazy things because he actually is crazy?”
More importantly, the issue of Trump’s emotional stability has also been raised by a growing number of influential and highly-respected mental-health professionals. They have done so out of a sense of urgency, even in the face of a code of conduct promulgated by the American Psychiatric Association that cautions psychiatrists against making public statements about individuals whom they have not formally evaluated.
Political commentator William Blum, in his widely-read column published in progressive US media, warns that if Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, he could well be the most profoundly-disturbed occupant of the Oval Office since Richard Nixon, “whose extreme paranoia brought us Watergate and precipitated the most far-reaching constitutional crisis of the late 20th century.”
“Ordinarily, as someone licensed to practice law rather than psychology,” wrote Blum, “I’d stay out of the debate, and remain in my comfort zone of traditional legal and political commentary, committed to exposing the policy shortcomings of both major-party candidates and their surrogates.”
“But Donald Trump has secured the GOP nod for president. He’s one election away from being the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation the planet has ever seen. As such, he, like Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, deserves heightened scrutiny, both as to policy and personality.”
“Some readers, particularly on the progressive left, who by orientation are predisposed to policy critiques, may not be comfortable with my approach. Some may even ask if it isn’t a waste of time to examine the psyche of a president or a presidential hopeful, noting that even a paranoid Nixon agreed to end the Vietnam War and opened the door to normalized relations with China,” said Blum.
A consensus has emerged that Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) described as a “condition in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially-distressing ways. This limits their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their lives, such as work or school.”
According to Blum, Trump embodies –in the US electoral scenario– a society brutally-conditioned to accept a dictator in the future.
Trump embodies the US conservative feeling that sees in him the recovery of world power, undermined by Russia and Syria and commercially by China. It is a reality riding on a character who seeks power based on racial superiority.
If Trump made it –as a fascist incarnation—to be a presidential candidate, it is as a result of the extreme right’s work and their well-developed media power.
The political pendulum in the US has swung to extremes since Obama’s election. Everything has been radicalized and, as Blum points out, even if Trump loses the election, the country will have become further polarized.
August 9, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Religious tourism is part of the Caribbean culture, and is also good business. The local religions of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, from voodoo in Haiti to obeah in Jamaica and santería in Cuba, provide valuable cultural and historical information about the Caribbean. This type of tourism allows visitors to become acquainted with the main religious sites in the region that are also related to important historical events.” This is the recommendation of a paper published by the Italian magazine TTC Caribbean dedicated to the promotion of tourism to the region.
“The voodoo cult, born in Haiti, has for decades been a good theme for horror movies; but along with other Caribbean religious creeds, it has also become a real attraction for international tourism,” says the promotional article about tourism in the Caribbean Sea area.
In Bonaire –an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea– churches, mosques and synagogues provide a comprehensive service in Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish.
In Anguilla, a guide to “Places of Worship” was published with a list of churches of the predominant religious denominations, their addresses and schedules.
In the Dominican Republic there is the “Route of Faith” consisting of a journey or pilgrimage that stops at many monuments and sites of religious significance for Catholics. It includes a visit to Santo Domingo, the city that experienced the first evangelization in America. In addition, there is the “Holy Hill Sanctuary” where Christopher Columbus ordered the first Christian cross to be placed in America.sz
In eastern Cuba, there is the temple of Our Lady of Charity, also known as the Virgin of El Cobre or Our Lady Virgin of Charity in honor of the Virgin Mary, pontifically designated as the Patroness of Cuba.
The image of the virgin in Cuba is enshrined in the Basilica that is the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, built in 1926. The sanctuary is in the picturesque village of El Cobre, very near Santiago de Cuba.
On December 20, 1936, Pope Pius XI granted a canonical coronation of the image of the virgin which was found at sea in the 17th Century.
The Caribbean has also become a frequently visited site by tourists as a destination for weddings and other religious ceremonies.
The opinion of experts, says the TTC digital magazine, is that the Caribbean needs to constantly innovate the tourist offers. Religions have a crucial influence in the popular culture and are a major attraction, but they are not sufficiently exploited in the Caribbean.
The religious tourism sector is strongly rooted in Europe where it is estimated that more than fifteen million people enjoy some kind of tourism of this nature every yar. In Latin America, there are several specialized tourist agencies in this sector.
Generally, the main motivations for religious travel are visits to shrines and holy places, as well as pilgrimages, visits to the tombs of saints, attendance and participation in religious celebrations, visits to religious leaders, eucharistic congresses, holy years, etc.
Traditional African religions in the Caribbean and Brazil can greatly benefit tourism in the area, in the same way that religions have promoted the movement of people to remote sites since ancient times.
Religious tourism, says TTC, may be the main reason for travelling, but it can also be part of a holiday trip and provide additional attractions to a destination.
Such is the case, for example, of millions of non-Catholic persons who visit the Vatican each year.
All this makes religious tourism a thriving business. Two years ago, the annual value of religious travel around the world was estimated at 18 billion dollars, involving 300 million travelers.
Religious tourism, unlike all other segments of the tourist market, has faith as its fundamental motivation. At present, the holy cities that have historically been the destination of pilgrimages –Jerusalem, Mecca or Rome– continue to be important tourist landmarks. Perhaps the Caribbean region could also be one soon. Why not?
August 5, 2016.
By Fabián Escalante
June 7, 2016
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
These days, in the heat of the latest political developments in our country –the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States– many people are concerned, and rightly so, about the capabilities of the empire to destabilize our society from within. Thus, it seemed appropriate to clarify the concepts of psychological warfare and ideological struggle, because, by knowing them, we will be in a better position to face and overcome in the new battles that lie ahead.
The concept of “psychological warfare” began to take shape in the United States in the late 1940s of the last century, at the outset of what was called the “cold war”. It was precisely in 1951 that the term appeared for the first time in the US Army dictionary with the following definition:
“Psychological warfare is the set of actions undertaken by one or several nations through propaganda and other media against enemy, neutral or friendly groups of the population to influence their ideas, feelings, opinions and behaviors so that they come to support the policy and objectives of the nation or group of nations that this psychological warfare serves”.
Probably for this reason, one of the leaders of the “Cold War”, the legal representative of the well-known “United Fruit Company”, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State of that country in the fifties, expressed a little later:
“We have spent millions of dollars preparing for the war of weapons, but we have spent little in the war of ideas, and now suffer failures that cannot be compensated for with our military power.”
At the same time, the director of the US Information Agency (USIA) enriched the concept with the following idea:
“The simple introduction of doubt in people’s minds is already a great success.”
Psychological warfare is, therefore, a set of enemy actions that, using the mass media, seeks to influence groups of people or societies and to modify their feelings, opinions and behavior. Its purpose is to undermine and destabilize the country, organization or person targeted by the project. In other words, “psychological warfare” is the art of manipulation of social awareness. It is necessary to unmask and denounce it systematically, by all means at our disposal.
An example of what the enemy has accomplished by this means was the “custody law” of 1961. It was an act of psychological warfare in which the CIA and its allies at the time, using various means (propaganda, rumors, falsification of official documents, radio programs, etc.), were able to confuse and terrorize a sector of the Cuban population so that they would send their children to the United States. Consequently, more than 15,000 children were sent out of the country because their parents, terrified by the slanderous comments that were disseminated, believed that the revolutionary government would “re-educate” their children in the USSR and take away parental authority over them.
In all these years, Cuba has been a laboratory for these “cold warriors”. Among the actions in preparation for the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion, the CIA created a radio station, located in a key in Honduras, that was called Radio Swan. Its mission was to transmit –24 hours a day– manipulated news, rumors, smear campaigns and anything that could contribute to confuse Cubans in order to disarm them on the eve of the aggression. More recently the misnamed Radio and TV Marti replaced it with similar goals.
Millions of leaflets have washed up on our shores or have been dropped by air in pursuit of these goals; while in other countries experts, political scientists, lecturers and filmmakers have worked for the same purpose. It has been a war in every sense of the word, but without firing a single shot.
In the eighties, during the fierce and merciless war unleashed by the United States against Nicaragua, the US Central Intelligence Agency invented a “Manual of Operations for Psychological Warfare” to train their counterrevolutionary “guerrillas”. Among many other concepts, including political assassination, this manual declared that:
“Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war. That is why its areas of operations exceed the territorial limits of conventional wars to enter into the consciousness of man (….). Human beings must be considered the priority of political warfare, and conceived as the military target of guerrilla warfare. The most critical point in human beings is their mind. Once its mind has been reached, the political animal has been defeated, without necessarily being hit by bullets.”
Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in a political environment; in the constant struggle to dominate that area of political awareness that is inherent to every human being, and that collectively constitutes the “environment” in which guerrilla warfare operates. That is precisely where its success or failure is defined. This conception of guerrilla warfare as political warfare makes psychological operations the determining factor in the results. The target is then the minds of the people, of the entire population, our own forces, the enemy and the civilian population. “
This definition, that came thirty years after the first operations, explained the experience gathered by the services and specialized agencies of the United States in their actions against our peoples. Many “non-governmental” institutions (NGOs) have emerged in the public arena for such purposes. Among them, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), together with the arch-reactionary “Heritage Foundation” occupy a privileged place. They manufacture articles, campaigns, images of people and everything imaginable to achieve their aims: to confuse, deceive, divert. Moreover, in each US embassy a section –be it the CIA, the USIA or other specialized agency– is in charge of dealing with the mass media and media campaigns.
Every day in the capitalist press, or in other innovative means, (including the Internet), one can find news, discussions or opinion articles concerning political, social, labor or other conflicts with critical tones. With apparent neutrality they pass judgment on this or that situation, or the performance of a given political personality, or of any social sphere, with the covert intention of molding or creating a certain state of mind. So, day after day, information accumulates in our psyches that later become criteria, states of mind, adverse opinions and contradictions which are intended to act upon, modify or even change a given scenario. That is precisely what specialists have called “psychological warfare”. Its political and ideological aims are obvious.
While writing this, I recall images of that great US film Wag the Dog, with Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, in which a US president, troubled by the scandal caused by a love affair close to his re-election hires a Hollywood producer to fabricate a nonexistent war and produce heroes to divert the public’s attention. That is the purpose: to make believe, to win hearts and minds for something that simply doesn’t exist. Consequently, the aim of “psychological warfare” campaigns is to break down a society, discredit its leaders, institutions and vanguard organizations, sow doubt, distrust and politically subvert its target area, soften it, dismantle it and then take it over.
Today, new ways have been developed and since the collapse of the European socialist camp, so-called “soft coups” and “popular rebellions” emerged stimulated by external ideological centers to overthrow an existing government, with support from international media agencies of information. The use of factual powers has been added, as in the cases of Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil, or the campaigns of shortages and discredit in Venezuela, all of them aimed at eroding local and international public opinion in order to bring about the desired government change.
Thus, psychological warfare is essentially a premeditated, external action with an ideological purpose that combines clandestine and conventional methods. These can resort even in a political crime as was the case of the indigenous leader Berta Caceres, recently murdered in Honduras for her struggle in defense of the land of their ancestors. Ideological struggle is the battle of ideas to which Fidel called us; one that we must fight against all forms of “psychological warfare”, ideological penetration, or whatever name it takes. It is a concept that extends to all forms of thought, to every existing political, cultural, philosophical, economic and social current. It is the concept that sets the patterns of a given socioeconomic system and from which all actions in those areas derive.
The dissemination of socialist ideas, the study of Marxism-Leninism and, in our case, the profound study of Marti and Fidel, allows ideas to be expounded and examples to be contrasted. These allow us to persuade, discuss, propose and achieve a more just and equitable society. Revolutionary ideological activity cannot be schematic or dogmatic and must know what the central themes of psychological warfare are. These must be taken into account when planning ideological actions which, of course, pursue more comprehensive goals, since they expose the most advanced social ideas of our era. These actions will require the support of our media, political and mass organizations. These are indispensable channels for dialogue with the people in order to persuade and convince them of our truths and reasons.
In short, we must discuss, think and analyze more and use all possible spaces, which also include the study and research centers of the ideas of Marti and Che Guevara, as well as our military, cultural, political and economic thought. And we must especially delve into the political and social thinking of Fidel Castro, where we can find the most noble and solidarity causes undertaken by our people for more than half a century.
The press and audiovisual media, like all political and social organizations in the country, must play a fundamental role in this struggle through criticism, exposure of our realities and the mistakes that have been made. They must also reflect on the profound changes that the revolution has introduced in our society, which went from being an example of consumerism, to one of profound solidarity and internationalism. Those are our best values, which convince and persuade, the ones we need to face the new battles: the ones that are present in the daily lives of all Cubans.
Division General (ret.), former head of Cuban intelligence services. Author of several books on the intelligence services of the US against Cuba and has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the Cuban viewpoint.