In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
My Return to Alma Mater, or, Proximities and Political Clashes
May 31, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Thanks to Alma Mater, specifically its director Mayra García Cardentey, for insisting that I write again for the magazine of the Cuban university community, the one in which I once collaborated in the early 1990s, when I was still studying journalism.
I remember with particular satisfaction those years when the publication almost disappeared due to lack of paper, and with a thousand efforts we rescued it in a tabloid format, almost a pamphlet, of bad material and worse printing, which luckily never came back.
With not very different difficulties for its print run in this 21st century, its young collective decided to bet on new technologies, and does not wait for its graphic editions to disseminate the texts it produces and proposes to its reading public.
So it is an honour for me to be able to collaborate again with the magazine founded by the beautiful and courageous communist Julio Antonio Mella, as far back as 1922.
Now, no longer so young or unredeemed, I offer only my humble opinion on matters where it is the new generations who teach me a little more each day, and I – a tepa that I refuse to grow old – try to accompany them at the rate that my (in)capacity allows me.
Here I am reproducing the comment that I was published in Alma Mater.
Political debate and social networks in Cuba: Proximities and clashes
Social networks on the Internet are a relatively new and growing scenario of political participation, which in Cuba complements the options, not infrequently too formal or uniform, that we already had for the exchange of ideas.
It’s not often, but still happens, that someone tries to question the motley and seemingly chaotic political affiliation of my friends on Facebook, or the strategy of moderating comments on my blog www.paquitoeldecuba.com. The answer I give is almost always the same: in order to exchange with fellow members I already have enough space, I am interested in debating and learning about other points of view.
I use this personal example to illustrate an increasingly evident reality. Social networks on the Internet are a relatively new and growing scenario of political participation, which in Cuba complements the options, not infrequently too formal or uniform, that we already had for the exchange of ideas.
It is no secret that regardless of the extroversion and spontaneity with which Cubans ventilate about any economic, social or political aspect of daily life, the specific forums for such discussion – including political, student, professional and mass organizations – can be quite reluctant or hermetic to channel or reflect in public the natural diversity of thoughts that exist within them.
Faced with this fact, social networks would seem to be in the Cuban context a much more flexible, horizontal and visible alternative for direct confrontation between different political positions. But beware. Let us not be too naive either.
Block or learn to accept?
Asymmetry is the first and main flaw that I would identify in that ideal state of participatory and democratic dialogue that social networks on the Internet want to appear to be (and to some extent achieve).
In the very nature of its functioning, the interests and ideology of capital and the system that represents it predominate: capitalism. We may or may not be aware of, be or not more sensitive to or aware of the manipulation that is proposed to us as a tendency, but it is an element that we should not ignore.
Advertising, consumerism, violence, individualism, are motives that from their innards – hidden or not – drive the networks. Of course, it is possible to take a critical, political stance in the face of these proposals, and even to oppose them with other values that we would pretend to be closer to Cuban society, such as humanism, solidarity, altruism and equity.
But this implies, without a doubt, an intense and profound training in the art of doing and influencing politics. And here comes another key disadvantage for our people, beyond even any generational or other considerations: the lack of civic practice we have of political debate, and I would add that of almost any kind of debate.
Agreeing or finding a consensus between more than two people can be complicated in our daily lives. It is still very difficult for us to listen to and respect a different approach than the one we defend. As a result, even in the midst of an alleged dialogue on social networks, violent reactions, offenses and disqualifications can abound, and ultimately it is easier for us to block, eliminate and disappear the other person from our contacts than to try to reason or accept disagreement.
Crimes of cordiality against them
There are concrete practices in the management of social networks that favor or hinder political debate among several people or groups of people. Without pretending to make a recipe book, because everyone builds their cyberspace according to priorities and interests, I would risk commenting on some variants according to my experience.
The first thing is the audience we select and give access to our profiles or admit them to our personal pages. As I said at the beginning, there is not much use – if we want to promote a political exchange, and not just maintain family or playful relationships in the networks – in reducing our circle to those who think in a very similar way to ourselves.
Here I would like to warn about a curious phenomenon that social networks on the Internet reveal within the Cuban political spectrum: the wide variety of positions on dissimilar issues, even among friends, colleagues, relatives and other people who perhaps in other contexts would seem to have coinciding positions.
The feasibility of a freer discussion, with a greater number of actors and actresses, today gives as a result of the political debate in the social networks a clearer and more public perception that unanimity is not necessary – impossible, moreover – to achieve unity, as long as we do not intend to impose a single line of thought or action. It is also important not to be invasive or abusive of other people’s spaces. This recommendation applies to any use of networks, but is particularly relevant when we talk about political debate.
Labeling other people constantly in our publications, indiscriminately breaking into other people’s walls, introducing or replicating information that is foreign to a discussion already underway, to take advantage of the visibility of a debate that we are not initiating, are some of the crimes against cordiality that are most damaging to the healthy and respectful exchange of criteria in social networks and other collaborative spaces on the Internet.
New and renewed militancies
I could not conclude this brief analysis without mentioning the importance of social networks to stimulate, make visible and coordinate multiple social and political activities in Cuba today.
With a traditional civil society whose institutions may seem to us to be aging or which subsist more because of the inertia and convenience of political power than because of its effectiveness in mobilizing citizens, cyberspace – with its social networks, blogs and other alternative publications – would seem to be reactivating and even creating militancies that did not exist in Cuba or were not very visible enough to achieve real political impact.
Issues such as racial, gender, sexual orientation or identity discrimination, animal and environmental protection, among many other noble and controversial causes, with political implications and debts still important in our context, emerge in social networks through multiple individual and collective initiatives.
On more than one occasion, they have already managed to overcome scandal or media pressure to achieve specific solutions or actions on the part of the institutions or entities responsible.
In this effort, the work of the most formalized organizations and organizations is praiseworthy for trying to insert their messages and communicative proposals into the whirlpool of the Internet, and even to stop and provide a direct response to the people who demand and control them through social networks. This can contribute in the medium and long term to articulating a more direct relationship between the State and the government with the citizenry. Also through these digital channels, in what would be another way – with the addition of their greater transparency, immediacy and public character – of strengthening the participatory and democratic ideal of socialism.
I am Paquito, from CUBA; I am a Marti follower and a an author; I am a communist and gay journalist; I am a convinced and superstitious atheist; I am the father of a son whom I have adored and have been a partner for fifteen years with a seronegative man who loves me; I have been an AIDS patient since 2003 and am a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than twelve years; I am a university professor and a student of life; a follower of Cuban economic issues and a passionate devourer of universal literature; an incontinent and belligerent moderate; a friend of my friends and a compassionate friend of my enemies; often wrong and never repentant; a hardened and eternal enthusiastic optimist; alive and kicking; in short, another ordinary man who wants to share his story, opinions and desires with you…
By Lázaro Fariñas
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
With reference to the last elections that took place in Venezuela only a few days ago, we must remember those who said: do what I say, not what I do’. Those who call themselves the international community’ are furious that the Venezuelan government has called a presidential election, carried it out and won it.
Aren’s elections one of the demands made by these so-called constitutional governments of the West? If so, why were they opposed to Venezuela carrying them out? Why did they demand that the opponents boycott them? Afraid they’d go to the polls and lose?
They got it right and came to the conclusion that it would be impossible for them to beat Nicolás Maduro at the polls, so they decided to boycott the electoral process that they themselves had demanded so strongly.
When mobs took to the streets to burn down buildings and some declared that they wanted elections immediately, when part of this fragmented opposition went to the talks in the Dominican Republic, the first demand was also for “elections now”.
It was then that they realized that, if they lost in the elections, they had only two options: to declare that a fraud had occurred or to recognize the legitimacy of the Bolivarian ruler and, therefore, to accept him before public opinion as the legitimate president of the country. Since that is not what they wanted to do, they decided to go down the road of non-participation and denunciation.
First, they left the Mesa de Diálogo and then they began with the international campaign, in which they declared the election call spurious. Then they accused accusing the opposing candidates, who did agree to participate, of playing the Chavistas game. In other words, they saw as illegitimate an action that they themselves had previously demanded from the Bolivarian government.
The votes, according to their criteria, were fraudulent. But how could that be if they hadn’t even been cast? In this they were not even original, as they were copying what Donald Trump had previously stated during his election campaign for the presidency of the United States.
Although perhaps I am exaggerating a little when I say that they were not original, since on second thought, they have said this every time they have participated or not in the marathon electoral processes in Venezuela during the last 20 years. In those leaderships, the opposition won twice and the government acknowledged the results, but when the government won, the word fraud was always used.
The 2013 presidential election, in which Maduro beat Capriles by just over 200,000 votes, by just over one percent, was a cheat for part of the opposition. How was it possible that the government had engaged in fraud and succeeded by such a small margin? Who would think of cheating and getting so small a margin of victory?
On this occasion, as on so many others, the opposition was accompanied by the so-called “international community”. It’s is made up of the United States Government, the governments of the European Union and their loyal followers in Latin America. For example, Brazil, which is governed by the most unpopular president in its history and is also the product, not of the results of elections, but of a parliamentary coup d’état, and Peru, where the president was appointed in the face of the resignation – due to corruption – of the constitutional president.
This misnamed “international community” says it does not recognize the Venezuelan elections and their results. We should ask ourselves what matters to Venezuelans what this group of nations recognizes or does not recognize?
In 2013, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles had no choice but to acknowledge his defeat, but since then, European governments, the United States and other nations have accused Nicolas Maduro of being an illegitimate dictator and have imposed unjust sanctions on him.
The campaign against Venezuela has been intense by the big media allied to the international right, by the colonized opposition, by the parliaments and by the governments of the West. However, the Bolivarian government has resisted. Who says it’s not going to resist now?
By Eldys Baratute
January 16, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Dayana the thinker knows that other Dayanas live next to her: the smiling Dayana, the annoying Dayana, the cowardly Dayana and the Dayana who takes the blue pills. Although they live together, they are very different from each other.
Dayana the thinker is in charge of analyzing and criticizing everything that the others have done. The smiling Dayana spends the day cheerful, as if someone were tickling her. The annoying Dayana breaks plates on the floor, shouts, hits and curses. The cowardly Dayana is afraid of everything and prefers to spend her time huddled in a corner, afraid of being hurt. And the Dayana who takes the blue pills is in a rut all the time, looking at a lost spot on the horizon, as if she were looking for something but she doesn’t know yet what it is.
All Dayanas are happy, in their own way, all but the Dayana who takes the blue pills. Dayana the thinker enjoys criticizing what the others do. The laughing woman doesn’t need any reason to laugh, she knows she’s happy, even if she doesn’t know why. The annoying Dayana finds happiness when she hears the plates breaking on the floor, when she feels the crash of her swear words against the wall or her fists against the door. The cowardly Dayana is happy because she has a space in which to snuggle, even if it is small, dark, and uncomfortable, but her own. But the one who takes blue pills can’t find happiness anywhere, she doesn’t even bother to look for it.
Every Dayana dreams, except the Dayana who takes the blue pills. The thinker dreams that she will be an important philosopher, that she will go around the world giving conferences, just as important and that many thinkers follow her and ask her for autograph. The smiling Dayana dreams that one day she finally discovers the reason for her laughter, and that makes her laugh even more. Sometimes, while she sleeps, the others hear loud laughter, which stirs up the house. La Dayana annoys dreams that sometime, when she manages to spend 7 days and 645 hours, 43 minutes and 6 seconds screaming in front of the sea, all her annoyance will disappear and she would be a normal Dayana, without breaking the plates, shouting, hitting or cursing. The coward dreams that she is an amazon, or a knight in armor, or a cowgirl, or an armed policewoman, who goes out to defend others.
But the one who takes the blue pills hardly ever dreams, and when she does, all she sees is a white ceiling on top of white walls. That’s why, because she has no dreams, she never closes her eyes and prefers to look at a faraway spot while swinging on an armchair. That really worries the others. They know that the fault lies with those blue pills that force her to look for something on the horizon, something she herself doesn’t even know what it is. So they decided to throw away the tablets once and for all. Only then would that Dayana find happiness.
Dayana the thinker kept thinking about all the possible solutions to eliminate them from the face of the earth. The smiling Dayana went to find the scientist who invented them to ask him, on her knees if necessary, not to make them again. They weren’t doing anybody any good anyway. The annoying Dayana went out to look for a crane that would demolish every pill factory in its path. The cowardly Dayana wanted to buy all the medicines in the world, but when she stood in front of the pharmacy counter she was afraid that the salesgirl would ask for prescriptions, methods and cards and ran away.
They all came back empty-handed. Dayana the thinker had run out of new ideas. The laughing girl couldn’t find the scientist who invented the pills. The annoying woman couldn’t get fuel for her crane and the coward…
Then they all came up with a brilliant, brilliant idea, an idea that can only be possible when several days come together. They worked together all night, side by side, as if instead of four they were one. The next day, when the Dayana taking the pills got out of bed, she noticed that instead of blue the pills were white, red, purple, black and pink. She ran through every corner of the house in desperation. In the library she found Dayana the thinker philosophizing about the existence of man. In the courtyard she found the smiling Dayana, happy because a sunflower had bloomed. In the kitchen, she found the annoying Dayana braking plates. In her dark corner she found the coward, huddled as usual. Everything was normal. The only thing he didn’t find were the blue pills she thought she couldn’t live without.
For the first time in a long time the Dayana of the Blue Pills went the whole day without taking any. At first she was smiling, then upset, then she was scared to the minute and then she thought about everything she had done since dawn. It was one and several days at a time.
But that night, whens he huddled in her bed, she began to see for the first time the white walls of her dream, of all colors.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the face of the madness (or idiocy) of the current President of the United States and the obscure perspectives offered to the citizens by his eventual successors, it is worth remembering that secession is not only a matter of American history, but is an extremely topical sociological and political issue.
Two epic cinematic adventures: “Gone With the Wind”, filmed in 1938 and “Cold Mountain”, a successful novel brought to the big screen in 2003, took wars of secession to shape their plots and rivalries, as well as to denounce dreadful actions on both sides in rejecting the madness of a possible new fratricidal war in the United States.
Technically, if California, which is the richest state in the United States, were to become independent, it would have to overcome two filters: that of the California Constitution itself and that of the U.S. Constitution.
California’s independence movement has existed legally since 2014 and has as its main exponent in an organization called Yes California. It is not a political party and has no elected officials, but it is already nicknamed Calexit (after Brexit in Britain) and has over 25% of the working population in support.
For the time being. Calexit does not claim to be the heir to the American settlers who, after rising on June 14, 1846 against the Mexican authorities, proclaimed an ephemeral independent Republic of California. Later they reluctantly renounced it in exchange for accepting annexation to the United States.
For this reason, the idea that one day the independentistas will be Latrino Californians is not to be dismissed. Neither their their motivation for their emergence will be the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe, by which the United States took away from Mexico -among other territories- that of present-day California, where they imposed the English language.
California’s economic legitimacy as an autonomous nation would be based on the fact that it now pays about $100 billion more than it receives from federal funding, which makes its economic argument appear as a human rights issue. This is because “the Universal Declaration on human rights states in its Article 20 that no one can be forced to belong to an association” and its “right to self-determination” will always take priority over US [federal] law.
Therefore, there would be no need for a constitutional amendment to separate from the United States and integrate it into the international community, in which it would undoubtedly need to be recognized immediately.
In 2016, Red Guard, a self-proclaimed Communist group from Austin, Texas, caused a stir after taking the lead in a demonstration of the Black Lives Matter movement with red flags and guns. It announced its decision to fight against the spread of fascism in the United States.
The confrontation in the streets did not reach violent levels, but it was transferred to the social networks as a reflection of the escalation of social tensions that the country was experiencing. Washington has continued to move around the world stimulating secessionist sentiments as part of an imperialist scheme destined to overthrow foreign governments that were not subordinated to its foreign policy.
However, the United States itself was beginning to exalt similar aspirations to the exercise of sovereignty on the part of those who were the first settlers and true owners of the territory that today form a large part of the states that make up the United States.
The “Yes, California” independence movement, took it’s first legal steps November 21, 2017 towards the secession of California from the United States when presented to the state Attorney General a proposal to call a referendum aimed at this objective.
The separatist idea must gather enough preliminary support in a vote to be held in November 2018. For the referendum to be held, the Yes, California’ movement must collect half a million signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.
If the initiative succeeds because of the support for Calexit, Californians will go to the polls in the spring of 2019 for a historic vote that would decide whether or not California should leave the Union. The plebiscite would be based on article two of the state constitution, which indicates how citizens of the territory can decide whether they belong to the United States.
When, in January 2008, then-President George W. Bush declared himself jubilant because “the Kosovars are now independent” and recalled that this was “something that I have defended together with my government”, several of his allies warned the United States of the danger that this statement represented for the international community, the Security Council, the European Union and the territorial integrity of the United States of America itself.
May 29, 2018.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
President Donald Trump did not miss the opportunity and in a message for May 20 – that day when the Republic began in Cuba, mediated by a Platt Amendment that reduced its independence and sovereignty in favor of the United States and its geopolitical and economic interests – he expressed the hackneyed message about a country that claims to suffer under a “tired communist regime.”
So boring that it is not worth paying much attention to the statement on the official White House website.
However, that same Sunday, Hillary Clinton, his failed Democratic challenger, who still thinks and regrets the mistakes she made in the 2016 elections, spoke to the graduates of Yale University – her Alma Mater in law school – and was adamant in judging the situation in her country and the main value that the U.S. leaders have hoisted against Cuba as if we were suffering from it.
“Right now, we are living through a total crisis in our democracy,” the former secretary of state said. “There are no tanks on the streets now, but what is happening right now enters the heart of who we are as a nation. I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election, but as an American afraid of losing her country.”
Very serious in her assessment, Clinton said, “Our country is more polarized than ever. We ourselves have classified into opposing camps, and they divide how we see the world. There are more liberals and conservatives than there used to be and less centrists. Our political parties are more ideologically and geographically consistent…. There are more divisions of race and religion than ever before…”.
Roughly she said: “There are leaders in our country who shamelessly incite with hate speech, who fear change, who see the world in terms of zero-sum, where if some are winning, others must be losing. That’s a recipe for polarization and conflict.
An analysis of the speech at Yale shows that Hillary seemed sadder than angry and – not mentioning Trump at any point, everyone present knew that he was the target of the references – appealed to the trials of other American politicians. But the vision chosen is not flattering; what is more, it falls into the category of a worrying warning.
For example, she chose quotations from a new book by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Fascism: A Warning, and from two titles by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University: In Tyranny and The Road to Freedom.
As is well known, Trump has attacked certain sectors of the press and accused them of being propagators of false news to the point that the term fake news is already recognised without translation in almost all languages, and the day before, in a tweet, he had described Mrs Clinton as ‘dishonest’.
“To abandon deeds is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis for doing so. If nothing is true, then everything is spectacle,” noted one of the former presidential candidate’s statements. That loudly sounding alarm was considered important by Mrs. Clinton, “because trying to erase the line between fact and fiction, truth and reality is a characteristic basis of authoritarianism.
And she didn’t limit herself to the opinions of Democrats, she also went to Rex Tillerson – who was recently appointed by Trump as Secretary of State – who, in a speech last week to the Virginia Military Institute, said that the United States was “on a path to renouncing our freedom,” if the leaders didn’t speak the truth. With pessimism to be reckoned with, Clinton said, “Maybe a little late, but he’s absolutely right.
And in today’s dissection of the United States, she continued: “There are certain things that are so essential that they must transcend politics,” and “evidence and facts that must alarm us all,” in what he called “waging a war against the rule of law and press freedom, delegitimizing elections, committing shameless corruption, and rejecting the idea that our leaders should be public servants undermines our national unity.
Of course, in the Clinton diatribe, the interests of a party, half-time in an election year lies behind, but the facts are the facts, and Hillary Clinton approached them from macroeconomic and social indicators: “You have learned that you don’t need to be an immigrant and be outraged when the father of a classmate… is unjustly deported” (…) “You don’t need to be a person of color to understand that when black students feel singled out and targeted, there is still work to be done. And you don’t need to experience the violence of a gun…. Enough is enough.
In the United States, children die in school because of the work and grace of an obsessive gun culture, dictated by the profits made by that industry and the politicians who respond to it because it fills their pockets. Trump is not the only culprit, but it is his turn to face it; however, it is far from his vision and interests.
More Americans die in these shootings than in the wars in which the empire is engaged, and no one doubts that life is the greatest of human rights.
A few days ago a black citizen was arrested for his Facebook messages against racist violence, and four students from the group that participated in an anti-gun demonstration in front of the office of Senate Chief Paul Ryan at the Capitol were also arrested, This clearly shows the lack of respect for freedom of expression that the empire’s administrator proclaims and protects its Magna Carta.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the Southern District Court of New York, has just said that President Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum and blocking response messages with different opinions constitutes discrimination and violates the First Amendment to the Constitution; but a Justice Department spokesperson replied that they disagree with the court’s decision and is considering steps to be taken that will protect the president.
It was also reported that the National Security Agency (NSA), under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), recorded more than 530 million phone calls in 2017, a dramatic increase in espionage from 151 million in 2016.
These are just some of the violations of those political and civil rights of American citizens, of the laws that privilege a government and a system of the rich and for the rich. Also, much can be said about the pressures, arm twists, unilateral sanctions, aggressions, wars and military interventions that call into question its self-given role as the perfect state, capable of judging and punishing others, and closing its eyes to its own domestic macro-problems and enormous flaws.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Actress Charlize Theron said she is considering leaving the United States for the sake of her two adopted children because she is concerned about racism in the country, where “she is much more alive than people thought.”
Separated from actor Sean Penn since 2015, the actress is the single mother of two children, a boy, Jackson (6), and a girl, August (2), adopted in South Africa.
Concerned about the issue of racism in the United States, she said that “it exists and is much more latent than people thought.”
“We can no longer deny it. We have to raise our voices. There are places in this country where if I were offered a job there, I wouldn’t take it,” he continued. “I wouldn’t take my kids to certain parts of America and that’s pretty problematic.”
Interviewed by Elle magazine, she said she has only her mother, Gerda, to help her raise her children. “I’m so lucky to have her, without her I’d feel so alone in all this,” she said.
“Many times I look at my children and tell them: if this continues, I will have to (leave the United States). Because the last thing I want is for my children to feel insecure,” added the 42-year-old star, born and raised in South Africa during the apartheid era in that country.
“They’ll have to know that it’s a different climate for them than it is for me, and how unfair it is,” the Oscar winner said of her children.
Theron is promoting her new comedy, “Tully”, which will be released on May 4.
On the other hand, in the cover interview for Elle magazine, Theron spoke about the difficult adoption process she faced.
“I never saw the difference between raising an adopted child and a biological child. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything,” he said. “It was always my first choice, even when I was in a relationship.”
The actress recalled that she suffered “a lot during the process”. “Among the hardest times in my life was when I filed the adoption papers; it really destroyed me emotionally,” she said. “There were so many situations that didn’t work and you get attached and you get excited and then you get devastated.
Theron remembered that she had always dreamed of adopting a child. “I’ve always been aware that there are many children in the world who don’t have families,” she said.
(With information from Ansa)
By Graziella Pogolotti
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The information panorama is beginning to show signs of preparations for the forthcoming commemoration of the fifth centenary of the founding of Havana. Many of us were eagerly awaiting this promising announcement, because the passing of time has left scars in a city endowed with unique values and the deterioration of the environment is inevitably reflected in the behaviour of the citizens who live there.
In this context, I think it is right to begin the urgent rescue operation with the restoration of order and cleanliness and to offer concrete answers to the most pressing demands of daily life in the neighborhood. Thus, from the grassroots level, it is possible to appeal to the committed and participatory action of the inhabitants.
The rediscovery of the urban values that have characterozed, through an incessant secular accumulation, the profile that makes the capital unique, cannot be postponed and is no less important. Eusebio Leal’s stubborn preaching has helped to place the heritage legacy forged in colonial times in the place it deserves.
In the remote days of its foundation, Havana was a disorderly agglomeration of adobe and wooden shacks, located next to the port, subject to devastating fires and the threat of the freebooters. With the passage of the fleets and the construction of the defensive system, streets were laid out and houses became larger. The image of the city was configured with its palaces in dialogue with the squares. Moderately baroque, the façade of the cathedral has a space of perfect proportions, open and intimate, like a theatre. After all, the need to preserve urban planning imposed the requirement to delineate regulations through municipal ordinances. Oriented in various directions, the roads, still in use, connected the centre of the city with the surrounding territories.
The expanding city grew westward in successive stages. In search of a more favorable climate, the wealthy built mansions next to the Calzada del Cerro. They would then go to Vedado, Miramar, Cubanacán. In the uninterrupted movement in space and time, stylistic and epochal marks crystallized. They form a treatise on architecture and urbanism, a vocation for modernity tempered by the local context.
The first Industrial Revolution unleashed, in the nineteenth century, the excessive growth of cities. Faced with the danger of a polluting proletarianization, Baron Haussmann made Paris the spectacular scene that we know today. The initial notions of urban design were being established, which has now become a complex transdisciplinary knowledge, aimed at restoring the human dimension to the habitat with the participation of technical knowledge for the management of construction, hydraulic infrastructure networks and waste disposal, adequate road traffic and the social sciences, particularly sociology.
With a modernizing will, Vedado was born presided over by a clear notion of integral urban design. The layout of the main avenues favored rapid communication with the city. Mandatory regulations determined the height limits of the buildings and the lawn area that separated the houses from the sidewalks, conducive to a lifestyle and gave a unique visual characteristic of the area.
In the middle of the last century, financial speculation over land value threatened to subvert the harmonious coherence of the whole. The Revolution was able to preserve its original character for many years, contrary to what happened in other countries where a predatory gigantism destroyed significant historical legacies.
The effects of the economic difficulties, from the special period onwards, partly lacerated the assets we had managed to preserve. Aside from legislation, improvised interventions appeared everywhere. However, in essence, the original imprint of the area remains. We are still in a position to safeguard it if we become aware of its value, because the very rich built heritage of Havana extends beyond the colonial zone. This is how the writers perceived it in some of the best pages of our literature, and it also manifests itself in the latent and underground memory of our popular music.
The approaching half-millennium poses an immense challenge. To assume it wisely and turn it into a collective will is a way of growing. It can’t all be done at once. It will have to be tempered as much as possible, according to the available resources. However, the most important thing, however, is to take into account the imminent while considering the perspective of the future based on the key factors that are unique to the region.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the political lexicon of the United States, since the presidency of Donald Trump, the mysterious concept of a “Deep State” has become fashionable. It’s understood as a kind of mystical adversary that the president’s cabinet must face.
The term has been used to refer to an allegedly secretly operating network of public officials working to prevent Trump from pursuing his policies. The expression is also used to allude to a de facto power of public employees whose stay in office is beyond the control of the president.
But its definition varies according to who uses it. It generally implies the existence of a secret and invisible nebula that operates from the bowels of government and that would be responsible for leaks of sensitive information from public offices, including those of intelligence and those of advisers and analysts directly subordinate to the President.
“The deep state has to stop with its shit,” Roger Stone, Trump’s old political adviser, told The New Yorker magazine on the eve of the president’s inauguration January 20.
He was referring to information published by The New York Times, citing U.S. officials, indicating that the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies were investigating Stone and other Trump collaborators for alleged links to Russia.
Stone denied having had such links, and blamed the “deep state” for the information disclosed.
Different media supporting the government have handled the concept, especially after it was revealed that the Micheal Flynn, Trump’s then- National Security Adviser, had withheld information about his contacts with Russia, which, according to the press, led to his having to resign shortly after taking office.
“The deep state never sleeps. It’s always doing something to undermine Trump’s administration,” said an article on Breitbart News, a right-wing Web site whose founder and former executive, Stephen Bannon, a controversial Trump trustee who was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism and racism and who served as the White House’s chief strategist.
“The Deep State is here,” Ed Rogers, a Republican columnist in his Washington Post column, wrote a week earlier. “It is a worrying phenomenon to have the anti-Trump organizations and Democratic officials aligned conspiring to work actively against the government in office,” he said.
However, there is no shortage of analysts who reject the idea that in the US there can be a “deep state” acting in the shadows. “The term comes from a kind of conspiracy theory that does not capture what is a normal tension between bureaucrats who have been running political programs for years and who may want to change things themselves,” says Gordon Adams on BBC World.
According to many analysts, the “Deep State” actions that overwhelm Trump derive from the basic contradiction between the federal government and the invisible power of the military and corporations defined by former President Dwight Eisenhower as the Military-Industrial Complex. This tension is manifested, for the time being, as a confrontation between the White House and the intelligence community, in which the latter acts, by definition, in a reserved manner.
When he was Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon defined the government’s goal as the deconstruction of the administrative state, which he believed had been set up by the political left to defend its interests through bureaucratic regulations that must now be corrected.
“If you look at the cabinet appointments, you’ll see that they were made with a goal of deconstructing the administrative state,” Bannon said in a meeting with conservative politicians.
Proof of this is that many people chosen for Trump’s Cabinet have had conflicting positions with those traditionally assigned to the departments for which they were appointed.
For example, for the Environmental Protection Pgency, he chose someone with interests linked to the fossil fuel industry who doubts the existence of climate change. As Education Secretary, he selected a millionaire who is an enemy of public education and public schools. For the Health Department, he chose a doctor who believes that the problem is that “there is too much government involvement in health care.
There are those who appreciate that this conflict of interest between senior government officials and civil service officials supports the existence of a “deep state” operating against Trump as an unpredictable, ignorant person, one incapable of fulfilling the mandate of the dominant forces of the system… much less the mandate of the citizenry.
May 25, 2018.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
HOLGUIN: When fatality hovers over a community and takes human lives, the borders between any position, both religious and existential, fade in the face of solidarity and humanism. Everything revolves around the comfort of the mourners, the material and sentimental support they need.
These signs of brotherhood between the human beings were on prominent display during Monday night and Tuesday morning, when the people, in a massive way, joined in the sorrow of the relatives of the two couples of shepherds whose mortal remains returned to their native land, so that their bodies could rest close to their loved ones.
As a posthumous tribute to the work and memory of the marriages of Norma Suárez Niles and Jesús Manuel García Oberto, and Gelover Martín Pérez Avalo and Yoneisi Cordovez Rodríguez, the parishioners of the Church of the Nazarene in this province went to the Los Álamos funeral home and the main hall of the Provincial Art Center, respectively, to accompany their families in sorrow and unite in their faith.
Both places were also visited by co-workers, neighbors, friends and the highest authorities of the Party and the territorial government, as a sign of solidarity over their loss.
Alina Rodriguez Ochoa, an English professor at the University of Medical Sciences and a member of the Church of the Nazarene, was found interpreting for Canadian faith brothers who were on vacation in Havana and who, after learning of the tragedy,decided to travel to Holguin.
She assures us that at this moment her place is at the side of the mourners and she recognizes the dedication of each person in accompanying those who suffer today in their grief.
“Amidst the sadness at the loss of our brothers and friends, we tried to support everything because the district director has been left without his board of directors. My family is supporting the home so that I can be here today. My son is only 15 years old and wanted to stay with the three children of my deceased pastors, my husband is in charge of the home doing the necessary chores and my mother, although she is very old, also helps,” said Alina.
Ruth Collins, from Nova Scotia, Canada, expressed her deepest sorrow at the physical loss of the pastors.
“Our brothers in Canada are praying all the time,” said the member of the Oxford Church of the Nazarene.
The leaders of the congregation also expressed their shock. Luis Ramon Batista Ramirez, superintendent of the work of the Church of the Nazarene in the Cuba-East district (from Ciego de Avila to Maisi), said:
“We are very emotionally affected, not only by our companions and brothers and sisters of faith, but by all those who lost their lives in the accident. This is very painful for the Cuban and international community. I thank God for the collaboration that has come from churches, neighbors, friends…. all always supporting.
As a result of the death of the married couple, ten children under the age of 16 were orphaned. The Superintendent expressed the responsibility that the Church assumes with these children in its decision to “never abandon them, to keep them in our lap, we will always help them. Although we will not be able to replace their parents, we will do everything we can to help them in their education, so that they may continue to know God and do everything possible for them until they become men and women.
Meanwhile, Héctor Rafael Ortiz Hidalgo, a priest of the Church and member of the Ministerial Studies Board, remembered his deceased brothers as “unblemished people, of faith, with conviction; people in whom both the church and the neighbors had enormous confidence.
The priest also acknowledged the help of the Government of the province, “which has been unconditional” and stressed: “The Church-Government relationship has been tremendous: they have provided us with cars, supplies, all the facilities to do the work that we have carried out during these four days, with doctors and psychologists. The Church of the Nazarene is very grateful to you.
In this hour of grief, it is very difficult for family members to agree to give statements to the press. Nevertheless, Milagro Suárez Niles, sister of Norma Suárez Niles, overcame the feeling that overwhelms her to thank all those who, in different ways, in numerous spaces and at different levels, have shown themselves sensitive to her loss:
“We have felt the solidarity from the Council of State, in the figure of President Miguel Díaz-Canel; from the Church at the national level, from the comrades in the Government… Everyone has been very attentive. Unfortunately we don’t have the being we want next door. Therefore, I recognize the company of the brethren of religion, because they have prayed that we may have calm. Everybody sees me and hugs me, kisses me. I am left with the satisfaction that my sister was happy the days before the accident, sharing and celebrating with her colleagues. That gives me strength in the midst of the pain that will never happen,” said Milagro.
According to Ernesto Herrera Pelegrino, who has been very close to the congregation during these days for professional reasons, there have been many expressions of support for the relatives and homage to the victims in many communities in the territory.
“The shepherds who worked in the Estrada neighbourhood (Urbano Noris) were among the dead. There the people spontaneously made a book of condolences, brought flowers to the church and formed a kind of reminder. Many people joined the parishioners in their grief to remember those pastors who made an impact with their example and dedication. In the community of La Calera, near Velasco, a funeral service was held for one of the shepherds who died. In the midst of the pain, these expressions have been very beautiful as a gesture of solidarity,” said the young journalist.
These are signs of sensitivity and humanism of a people who, diverse in their religious positions and thoughts, unite in the face of pain, “in a tight context”, as the Teacher [Jose Marti] taught us.
By Graziella Pogolotti
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Here and there, in private commercial establishments, the use of English advertisements is spreading, as if by blast wave. This presence begins to invade public space. In these circumstances, it is essential to remember that Spanish is the official language in our country. Identity bearer, an essential component of our culture, it integrates the constitutive factors of the sovereign nation. Moreover, the law imposes a requirement that all citizens must use it it.
One might suppose that there is a temptation among new traders to please visitors from other countries who are increasingly coming to us, even though not all of them are native English speakers.
This is an erroneous assessment. The motivations of travelers are manifold. Many enjoy the attractions of nature, the sun and the beach. Others prefer to frequent the cities, interested in the heritage values that make them unique and in the behaviour of a communicative, streetwise, welcoming and friendly people, as those who have spent time with us since colonial times have recognised. In the built environment and in the people who inhabit it, they discover the values of a different culture, built up through a specific history.
Unconsciously, the environment around us influences the use of language. I was a young graduate looking for a job when I was offered the opportunity to collaborate on the development of a spelling manual. The author of the text had previously conducted a survey among students to detect the most frequent errors. There were not when writing the word beer, despite the c, v and z, so committed in our Latin American speech. At that time, the competition between the most recognized brands was manifested in an advertising display in the streets and on television. The spelling was indelibly engraved on everyone’s retina.
According to the press, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel, stressed in words spoken by the Ministry of Education, the need to attach the importance it deserves to the development of reading habits through the conduct of a teacher, who must always carry a book before the schoolchildren who must follow his example.
The issue becomes more important in times of increasing dominance of audiovisual communication. It has been the subject of international analysis and research. Among us, the issue demands first-rate attention in view of the deterioration in the use of the language, which is of concern to a wide range of social sectors. In various ways, there has been a need to give due weight to language learning, not only through the use of grammar, but also through training in the comprehension of literary texts.
The mastery of the language associated with human communication and the ability to forge in the students the exercise of independent, critical and creative thinking, open to access to knowledge and to the permanent search for innovation, is a fundamental demand of this era. It constitutes an inseparable part, together with history and mathematics, of the triad of disciplines which, beyond the instrumental, are distinguished by their formative character.
Preserving the potential richness and expressiveness of the word and designing strategies based on the present and, above all, with a view to the future of the creatures that are being born, when the dominant telegraphic messages in the use of mobile phones supplant the art of conversation, block productive dialogue, interfere with the transmission of knowledge, castrate the creative impulse of imagination and limit the sensitive approach between humans, are urgent demands.
The complexity of the challenge involves the family and the school, but transcends compartmentalized institutional boundaries. Since dawn, communication has presided over the entirety of our existence, just as much as the oxygen we breathe. It manifests itself in the most intimate part of the home, in the streets, in the provision of services, in the formulas of civilized coexistence, in the fabric of the information networks that connect us with the reality of the country and with the paths of international events. Understanding the magnitude of the problem is an essential step in the search for solutions.
Culture and identity embrace the territory of spirituality, the residence of the values that define us as a people. They last and are transmitted through the language we have inherited. Let us take care of it in the messages that animate our streets, in the media, at school and in the workplace. We can do it right now. In the meantime, to be precise