Author: Ricardo Alonso Venereo | email@example.com
October 8, 2018
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
If Bebo Valdés is of Cuba, so is his son Dionisio de Jesús Valdés Rodríguez, known as “Chucho” Valdés, who, this October 9, the date of his father’s centenary, will be 77 years old. Both were born in the municipality of Quivicán: both of us.
A friend recently told me: Bebo and Chucho Valdés put this town, in the province of Mayabeque, into the category of Grammy town. How many towns in the world, with an average of 20,000 or more inhabitants, have Grammies that add up to those two? Together they total eleven awards between Grammy Latino Awards and the Latin Grammys.
And, if the father is an obligatory reference in the history of Cuban music, the son is no less so. He is a pianist, composer, music teacher, musical arranger and director. His work is distinguished by its Cuban nature and by his being among the best jazz musicians in the world. As a pianist, he also ranks among the best. He is a master in all genres, both jazz, classical music and popular dance music.
With Irakere, considered by many to be the most important Cuban music group of the second half of the 20th century, which Chucho founded in 1973, he patented a label very hard to beat in contemporary and future Cuban music. Here are his songs Misa Negra and Bacalao Con Pan (Black Mass and Cod with Bread). In 2002, together with Leo Brouwer, he won the first National Music Award. In 2006 he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He has been granted a Doctor Honoris Causa by prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, the University of Victoria in Canada, and by the University of the Arts (ISA). He also holds the Félix Varela Medal of Cuba, the keys to the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison and Nevilly in the United States and Ponce in Puerto Rico.
His time at the world’s greatest jazz festivals has been overwhelming. With his new group, The Afro-Cuban Messengers, “Chucho” Valdés continues to give glory to our country.
Author: Pedro de la Hoz | firstname.lastname@example.org
October 8, 2018 20:10:13
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It cannot be otherwise for the one who played a very important role in the crystallization of the orchestral style with which popular music reached its purest expression around the middle of the last century.
Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro is from Cuba. Not even the decades in which he lived far away, first in Sweden and later in Spain, did he cease to be ours or to promote Cuban music. One hundred years after his birth on October 9, 1918 in Quivicán, Bebo Valdés is from Cuba.
It cannot be otherwise for those who played a very important role in the crystallization of the orchestral style with which popular music reached its purest expression around the middle of the last century. At the same time, he contributed substantial values to the development of the Cuban descarga [jam session], the most imaginative and endearing variant of the criollization of jazz.
Between Dámaso Pérez Prado, Chico O’ Farrill and Armando Romeu, plus Benny Moré’s genius as a free and unique electron. Without any academic training, he molded a band tailored to his desires. Bebo occupies a place to which, time and time again, it will be necessary to return to find the keys to the height reached by insular music and its continental projection in the 1950s.
Bebo’s trademark was the Sabor de Cuba orchestra, with which he worked on the Tropicana cabaret, alternating with that of Armando Romeu, between 1949 and 1957; They recorded memorable sessions, as well as accompanying leading Cuban and foreign figures, including Rita Montaner and Nat King Cole.
In 1952, he created the batanga rhythm, whose renovating approaches were not deciphered by the record and entertainment industry, but whose traces became a reference for much of what has happened since then in the evolution of both Cuban jazz and timba. By the way, the initial recordings of the new rhythm included Benny Moré, who had just returned from Mexico and had not yet assembled his portentous giant band.
He ended up in Mexico in 1960, where he collaborated for a while with Chilean Lucho Gatica, whom he knew from Havana. Then he settled in Europe. He left his family behind and founded another in Sweden. He never understood the changes that took place in his native country. But not even in the days of making a living in Swedish restaurants and discos did he stop thinking about music in Cuban terms. So much so that, at age 76, as someone said, he reinvented himself when he was called to record in New York.
That’s the Bebo who begins to ride again, in the airs of Latin jazz, albums like Bebo Rides Again, and movies like Calle 54, his fabulous union with singer Diego el Cigala and the reunion with his son Chucho Valdés in the album Juntos Para Siempre.
But I would like to point out what researcher Rosa Marquetti has said: “It would be a capital mistake to reduce the importance of Bebo Valdés in Cuban music, to the international boom that reached its revival with the album Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears). In any case, his world recognition achieved in the last decade of the twentieth century was a deserved culmination of a career that crosses a century and more in Cuban music.
He has his own outstanding place among the best orchestra conductors, composers and pianists of transcendence, and is one of the most creative arrangers in the entire history of our music.
That is the Bebo who, in his centennial year, I would like to remember, and that, without a doubt, over and above the anecdotal, legitimately belongs to us.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The Cuban community residing in South Florida, in the United States, mainly in Miami Dade County, is returning to the state of great anxiety and fear. These are traditionally imposed by the Cuban-American extreme right and its sponsors from the American terrorist extreme right.
Numerous and widely-publicized visits by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been made to the homes and workplaces of Cuban émigrés in Miami. Those visited have been, for many years, activists for the improvement of relations between the peoples and governments of the United States and Cuba. Now they have reason to be alarmed.
The local media and even the U.S. national media speculate about the reasons for this intimidating campaign by the federal government’s main counterintelligence agency. On September 12, the FBI published an article in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, stating that the reason for such warning visits was “to send to the Cuban government the message that the FBI is looking for and watching Cuban spies who might be infiltrating the United States.
Andrés Gómez, director of the Areitodigital website, based in Miami, has written that this FBI campaign is for political reasons. “In the first place, it’s because a decisive mid-tern election is about to be held on November 6. Control of both houses of Congress is at stake, as well as the future of the Trump Administration and the Cuban-American extreme right in Washington.
In Gómez’s opinion, “since the Cuban-American extreme right was unable to obtain the changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba that they wanted, the FBI could be giving them these FBI visits in order to partially satisfy them in today’s political environment. In this way, the fantasy of Cuban spies under every pebble and on every grain of sand of our long and famous beaches is once again being imposed on the social and political environment of our community.”
The director of Areitodigital believes that it could also be to warning against the electoral triumph in the mid-term elections on November 6 of candidates more in tune with the new policy toward Cuba laid out in Miami by President Barack Obama in December 2014.
But, according to Gómez, “we are no longer in Florida then, with a demonized Cuba as an evil and perverse enemy. To the horror of the Cuban-American extreme-right in Miami and its political and ideological allies in the rest of the country, and to the resentment of some FBI special agents who are visiting innocent citizens who maintain irreproachable social behavior-even though they defend their right to travel to their native country, and condemn the blockade against Cuba and everything that impedes the development of the Island and the possibilities of the Cuban people to advance and live in peace.”
In the national political environment, and in Florida in particular, there is a close electoral contest for governor between the progressive African American Democrat Andrew Gillum and the racist and reactionary Republican Ron DeSantis. It is feared that African American voters and progressives who do not normally participate in elections will be motivated to go to the polls to give electoral triumph to the most liberal and progressive candidates. That’s what might be motivating the FBI’s current intimidation campaign, notes Andres Gomez.
The official statement issued by the FBI says that “in the course of performing our duties, the FBI -on a regular and open basis- interacts with members of our communities to enhance the mutual trust necessary to combat potential criminal activities and possible threats to our population.
With respect to that, Gómez says “the FBI leadership should appeal to the mutual trust necessary to combat criminal activities, such as the immediate arrest and judicial prosecution of all terrorists of Cuban origin who live freely and with impunity in Miami under the protection of the FBI itself. They have attempted and killed many innocent people over many years, in a campaign of state terrorism sponsored by successive U.S. governments. They targeted the Cuban people and those of us who live in the United States and whom we have supported a more reasonable policy between both peoples and governments, such as the one initiated by President Barack Obama.”
It would have been good for Gomez to point out that the objective of all fifteen presidents of the United States since the triumph of the Cuban revolution, including Obama, has been to liquidate the example of effective independence and socialism that is Cuba. Of them all, Trump’s government is the one that contributes the least to those perverse imperialist ends, because he exposes it so brazenly.
September 10, 2018
Author: Jorge Ángel Hernández | email@example.com
October 7, 2018 20:10:40
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Throughout its history, the democracy of political parties has proclaimed its defense of freedom of expression. It appears as a citizen’s right in all constitutions. To make matters worse, it has been used with great manipulative intelligence since the Cold War.
Thus, a pattern of appreciative judgment has been achieved that, as the 21st century goes by, accuses the emerging socialisms of being dictatorships as it assumes that capitalism guarantees freedom.
The reality is quite different, since the contradiction with which public opinion is pressured imposes a terrorist response, even to the most advanced models of socialism, without ruling out public condemnations based on diverse judicial subterfuges; practices completely normalized today that impose a condemnation of socialism historically and towards the far future. In other words, to infinity and beyond.
This has been done in South America, even with center formations that only apply measures of humane capitalism, such as the Argentina of the Kirchners.
Suddenly, the well-known actor Jim Carrey said on HBO: “We have to say yes to socialism -“to the word and everything”-and the true reactions which that freedom of expression have generated.
Fox’s review starts by discrediting him as a confessed Hollywood destroyer. It artificially superimposes on Carrey’s declaration, Fox’s own claim that Venezuelan socialism is a failed system, in which thousands of people suffer the worst living conditions on a daily basis.
The Fox reporter who assumes these words is not aware of the plans for housing, health, education, culture nor, of course, of the terrorist interference and mercenarism – in successive boycotts of the national economy and in real and concrete attacks – with which they have tried to besiege Bolivarian socialism.
If you look at it, Carrey’s focus does not delve into socialism itself, but calls for resistance to the insanity of the regime in power in the U.S. It takes as a formula the very system of political parties of U.S. democracy. It is a call to shake off the predetermined aggressiveness between Republicans and Democrats in the United States.
But the reaction has been brutal: exercising freedom of expression, in the context where the actor usually operates, could cost him his career, among the brightest and best paid in the film industry today, if he depends on this terrorist machinery of information. This is how many Venezuelan bigots manipulate and respond wherever the news appears.
For the democracy of political parties, led by the American one, the word -and only the word-, “socialism” represents the satanic in all dimensions.
Carrey has made it clear in his comments that whoever uses it must apologize, that it is vetoed from the supposedly democratic vocabulary. And that is what those who hijack the idea of freedom of expression to make it a hostage and client of their own oppression immediately bet on.
McCarthyism is still alive and those who dare to cross the fine line of censorship will have to face terrorist smear campaigns and the manipulation of justice.
For this reason, we must not only say yes to the word “socialism,” but to everything else that the system proposes and facilitates in the emancipation of the classes that are still oppressed by capital. Jim Carrey is absolutely right. (Taken from La Jiribilla)
“A pattern of appreciative judgment has been achieved that, advancing in the 21st century, accuses emerging socialisms of dictatorships.
“Exercising freedom of expression, in the context where the actor usually operates, could cost him his career, among the brightest and best paid in the film industry today, if he depends on this terrorist information machinery.
Cuban poet, narrator and essayist. Villa Clara, 1961. Collaborator of several press media. Directed the culture magazine Umbral, by Villa Clara. He received the Distinction for National Culture in 2004.
Una foto, una historia
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2018 | 10:16:54 AM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On July 17, 1967, the American photographer Rocco Morabito (1920- 2009) was hunting images for the Jacksonville Journal, in the state of Florida, of which he was staff. After several hours without his lens catching anything important, he decided to return home. He was about to open the door of his car when a loud noise shook him.
He looked in the direction of the explosion and could not suppress a gesture of stupor. In fact, at the top of a pole, almost 15 meters from the ground, a young operator of the national electricity lines who was carrying out maintenance work was lying unconscious and hanging from his safety harness, after receiving in his body the colossal discharge of 4 000 volts.
Next to the victim, one of his companions was trying to revive him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Rocco wasted no time, and after using his car radio to warn emergency services urgently, he photographed the unique rescue. The image is known worldwide as “The Kiss of Life”.
In 1968, this photograph was awarded the important Pulitzer Prize and was the recognition of a photographer who dedicated his career to street journalism. For years, the image served as an example in the training courses of electric companies, and even of the Red Cross. For Rocco Morabito, the only important thing was what he himself conveyed: “Someone helping someone”.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
J.M. Mariscal Cifuentes – Mundo Obrero – Interview with the Cuban Ambassador in Spain.
MUNDO OBRERO: You have been part of important diplomatic delegations and you know well Cuba’s foreign policy. What principles does Cuba’s foreign and diplomatic policy respond to?
GUSTAVO MACHÍN: Since the beginning of the Revolution, Cuba has had a foreign policy based on principles that for us are inviolable and that are the ones that mark Cuba’s actions in the international context. Cuba’s foreign policy is not a policy of ups and downs or of circumstantial or conjunctural interests, but rather a foreign policy based on principles.
Many of them are internationally recognized but not necessarily complied with. I am talking about the principle of respect for independence and sovereignty; the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states; the principle of negotiation as a means of resolving conflicts, disputes and, of course, openly opposing the use of force, the coercion of military aggression as a means of solution; the principle of international solidarity, we never forget our status as a so-called Third World country and therefore we are a country that defends non-alignment, we do not belong to any military bloc and we defend international peace and security.
This, I believe, was called proletarian internationalism at the time. These are principles that we deeply respect and that we not only respect but also assert. They are principles to which all the member countries of the United Nations are committed, and we see how many countries repeatedly fail to respect them and make manipulated use of these principles at their convenience.
M.O.: Of Cuba’s diplomatic delegations, the Spanish delegation is undoubtedly one of the most important because of its cultural, historical and now economic and commercial ties.
G.M.: Cuba and Spain have a very deep historical, family and cultural relationship in each of the two countries, and that, in itself, gives a different content and substance to the relations between Cuba and Spain. I feel very proud and pleased to have been sent as ambassador to Spain. There are strong historical, family and emotional ties that merit that importance.
Cuba and Spain had a paternal-child relationship during the five centuries of Spanish colonial domination, but the son grew up and we are already talking about a relationship of brothers, a relationship of equals that have the advantage of those deep historical ties.
You also mention the economic and commercial sphere and it is true, it is one of the spheres in which we work but they must be mutually beneficial and must respond to the interests of both countries.
We are open to investment and to the economic-trade relationship with Spain, but we have a definite policy on foreign investment that does not constitute subjugation but a factor in the economic growth of the country in which both parties benefit. We have enormous potential for growth in parliamentary relations, in relations of cooperation, energy, judicial or development cooperation, even.
If we want to broaden and deepen relations with Spain, the strong relations that exist between the Cuban people and the Spanish people deserve that at the country level we also have the same relationship and, as ambassador of Cuba, I am here to broaden and consolidate them, not only with the government but with all sectors of Spanish society.
M.O.: You arrived in Spain after having been part of the diplomatic delegation in the United States and you have coincided with a change in the presidency of that country. What did Trump’s arrival mean in the dispute with the United States?
G.M.: During the last two years of the Obama administration, our two countries took the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations and move them towards a process of normalization. You have to recognize that there was progress in the bilateral relationship, we opened our embassies, we had a much more fluid political-diplomatic relationship, exchanges and cooperation were a sphere in which we advanced a lot, based on the mutual interest of both countries.
Let me repeat that in our foreign policy we do not allow ourselves to be subjugated and what we do is treat each other equally. What we did in this two-year period with Obama was that we began to treat each other as equals, and we began to talk, cooperate, and advance our bilateral ties.
Nevertheless, it must be said that the economic and financial blockade of Cuba was not lifted by Obama, an image has been created that the blockade is over and not. The blockade is maintained and was not lifted, in fact, during the Obama administration there was a record in the imposition of fines on companies and ships that had commercial relations with Cuba.
But we have to recognize that there were advances, not substantive ones, but at least we worked towards a better relationship. With the Trump administration, we are facing a totally different situation from the one we had with the Obama administration. We are in a clear setback in relations between Cuba and the United States.
Trump has been reversing many of those advances, we are going towards a negative atmosphere in bilateral relations, but I always like to point out that within the United States, within the American public opinion, the opposition to the blockade of Cuba, the opposition to an opposite and offensive policy towards Cuba, is growing every day.
The disagreement with the backtracking measures that President Trump is doing has even reached Florida. Today, the majority of the Cuban community based in the United States and especially in Florida are in favor of lifting the blockade and having normal relations between the two countries.
US policy towards Cuba has been kidnapped by right-wing politicians from that community and they are the ones who are imposing a line of action, but I can assure you that at the level of society in the United States, business sectors, academics, non-governmental or religious sectors are in favor of changing the policy towards Cuba.
Even if the rulers and President Trump want to retreat, he will always have American society against him and to a great extent this retreat does not correspond to the interests and desires of the American people and society.
M.O.: And a few months after your arrival in Spain, there is a change of government here, in this case with an inverse path in which a social-liberal replaces a conservative president. What influence does this change have on bilateral relations between Cuba and Spain and the European Union?
G.M.: I have the satisfaction and I see as ambassador that there is finally a State policy towards Cuba, and for me a State policy is a policy that responds to the interests of the country and to the interests of the Spanish people and not to personal or partisan interests.
I feel satisfied to have been named at a time when that State policy towards Cuba prevails. During my eleven-month stay in Spain, I see the good state of bilateral relations, both countries are working to expand and consolidate.
Spain was one of the countries that, during the previous government and with the parliamentary support of the majority of the political forces, played a very important role in the renegotiation of the sovereign debt, but also and above all in negotiating a new agreement for political dialogue and cooperation with the EU that has been in force since last November.
[It’s] an agreement that has managed to overcome the so-called common position that President Aznar imposed on relations with Cuba, which was an interfering, conditioning relationship that we never accepted. I believe that it is a success for both the European Union and Cuba that a new political dialogue and cooperation agreement has been adopted; we are in a new context in the relationship based on respect for independence, sovereignty and equal treatment.
We hope that on 31 October, the day of the vote on the resolution lifting the blockade in the United Nations General Assembly, the EU will continue to vote in favour of the blockade.
M.O.: Let us go to Cuba. You are immersed in a constituent process with a profound debate on a new constitutional text, but what has reached us here is that Cuba is abandoning communism.
G.M.: (laughs) Yeah, I noticed those headlines. What a superficial interpretation. President Díaz-Canel has said. We are defining ourselves as a socialist country that has not yet reached communism. We cannot define ourselves as a communist country if we are not yet, we are still in socialism, in our socialism.
It is a constitution for the moment, flexible, advanced and easy to use and interpret, a constitution that reflects the real context. As far as I know, the party has not had its name changed. I am still a member of the Cuban Communist Party, whose leading role in Cuban society is recognized by the Constitution.
This appears in the draft with their full names and surnames, because of their recognized prestige, roots and recognition within society as the party of all of us. But well, we are used to it, decades have gone by talking about Fidel and longing for a biological solution to the Cuban problem, then they went for Raúl, and now that none of the Castro’s is president, they are going for Diaz-Canel and they are already making him look like a “dictator”.
In short, how many examples could I give you that if we were a dictatorship many of the things that happen in Cuba would not happen! Cuban society is contentious by nature, we have an opinion on everything. Anyone who knows us minimally knows it.
What is clear to us is that our majority has opted for a Cuban model of socialism that copies no one, a socialism according to our history, our traditions, our context and our economic and geographical conditions, a socialism that we have never renounced.
We are a country that has a Constitution, that has laws, that has an institutionality. We have our electoral system, there will be those who do not like it, but it is ours, the one that works and of which I am proud. I feel proud of Cuban democracy, a model that the majority of Cubans endorsed when we went to last year’s elections to elect our deputies to the National Assembly with a participation in free and secret vote of 84% of the census.
There are governments that claim to be democratic that do not reach 51% approval. When in 2010 the government launched what we call the process of updating the Cuban economic and social model, it was preceded by a very broad popular debate. I challenge the governments of many countries to bring their economic and social policies to popular discussion, everyone had the opportunity to give opinions to the point that after popular debates all the guidelines, all of them, were modified. We are immersed in a policy of economic and social transformations that enjoys the support and consensus of the majority of Cubans.
M.O.: How do you evaluate the process that led to the election of Diaz-Canel as president, replacing Raúl Castro?
G.M.: Raúl Castro, by his own decision, even against many who wanted him to be re-elected, kept his word, said two terms and so it has been. You are still a deputy member of the Assembly, because you are elected in your district. In Cuba, to be president, you have to be a parliamentarian. The arrival of Diaz-Canel, therefore, is part of the democratic normality of our nation, a continuity endorsed by the people.
M.O.: How is the process for Cuba to have a new Constitution developing?
G.M.: You have used the terms correctly. It is a new Constitution, not a mere reform. We improved our model of government by creating the post of the President of the Republic, as head of state, and that of prime minister, as head of government. A president who cannot be president for more than two terms.
We are proposing an administrative rationalization, reinforcing the role of the municipalities as the fundamental unit of the political, economic and social organization of Cuba, eliminating the provincial assemblies, authentic parliaments that exist today in the 14 provinces that now become simple administrative entities and whose powers pass to the municipalities.
It is an abundant text in reference to the rights of Cubans, I even think that they could put a little more duties on themselves. We are giving constitutional rank to all the rights that emanate from the international agreements on human rights of which Cuba is a member: food, health, housing, social security, assembly, press.
For example, here in the embassy we had our meeting, as Cubans, we discussed the entire Constitution and 57 proposals for modification were made, which have been sent. The popular discussion of the draft constitution will take place until November 30, after which all the opinions expressed will be sent to the parliamentary commission, which also has a broad representation of all sectors of society.
September 21, 2018
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A biography of Julio Lobo has been published in the USA. It is titled The Sugar King of Havana and its author is John Paul Rathbone. We will dedicate today’s space to this character. He was the great figure of the Cuban bourgeoisie.
Lobo was born in Venezuela and brought to Havana when he was barely a year old. His father began to work very young in what would later become the Bank of Venezuela. Thanks to his efforts and intelligence, he gradually rose to management of the company when he was only 22. One day he had the bad idea of denying a loan to Venezuelan dictator Cipriano Castro and ended up in jail. Released at last, after three months of confinement, he was evicted from Caracas.
In New York, where he settled, the North American Trust Company immediately offered him the position of administrator of their Havana branch. A company that soon became the National Bank of Cuba, but was neither national nor Cuban. It was already the year 1900.
His son Julio studied in the United States and graduated as an agricultural engineer. He returned to Cuba and, in 1920, undertook the general management of Galban, Lobo y Compañía –his father’s business—which was the beginning and launching pad of his sugar empire. He became one of the richest men in Cuba.
If as a family group, the Falla Bonet’s surpassed him, Lobo was above them as an individual owner. He came to own 16 sugar mills, 22 warehouses, a sugar brokerage firm, a radio communications agency, a bank, a shipping company, an airline, an insurance company and an oil company. He was the main seller of sugar on the world market.
In his book Los propietarios de Cuba [The Owners of Cuba], Guillermo Jiménez attributes to Lobo a personal fortune of $85 million, with assets estimated at one hundred million. Rathbone, his biographer, assures us in his book that if that fortune were measured in today’s dollars it would amount to no less than $5 billion.
However, in 1960, Lobo left Havana –he would say– with a small suitcase and a toothbrush. He settled in New York and continued in the sugar business, but never repeated his past exploits. When he died in 1983, his capital, Rathbone says, was estimated at $200,000. In fact, according to the biographer, very few of his generation prospered in exile.
Unlike the Falla Bonets who, when the Revolution triumphed, took no less than forty million dollars out of Cuba, Julio Lobo, a furious nationalist, continued to invest in the sugar industry and other companies, while continuing to expand his valuable art collection. After all, he knew he had always been smarter than his rivals… but that trust led him to take no precautions whatsoever.
He never wanted to intervene in politics, but he was a convinced opponent of Batista. He was a supporter of Batista’s removal, without caring who would succeed him.
In 1957 he gave 50,000 pesos to the “Accion Libertadora”, an anti-Batista organization, which in turn gave half of that money to the “26th of July Movement”. This led him to believe that he could make conditions on the Revolution.
Rathbone assures his readers that Ernesto Che Guevara showed him otherwise. He summoned him to his office. The guerrilla commander, who had become president of the National Bank of Cuba, told him that they had reviewed his accounts and that Che congratulated him for the efficiency of his companies, and for not owing a single penny to the Treasury, but he also told him that his assets would be intervened. He made him an offer: He could remain at the head of his sugar mills. In exchange, he would receive a salary from the State. Needless to say, Lobo refused. It was then that he packed his small suitcase.
Lobo’s purchase, in 1958, of the three mills owned by Hershey was very controversial. This was a very expensive transaction, because, already in exile outside Cuba, his creditors demanded payment of the outstanding debt for those mills that were no longer his.
His specialized sugar library was the best and most complete in Cuba and perhaps in the whole world. His art gallery featured works by Da Vinci, Rafael, Miguel Ángel and Goya, among other great painters. His collection of incunabula and unique and rare books was famous.
He was obsessed with the personality of Napoleon and came to possess a large collection of relics and more than 200,000 documents, which he left in deposit to the nation and which are treasured today in the Napoleonic Museum in Havana.
He was also interested in Hispanic-American subjects. Lobo was a Renaissance man, says Rathbone, extremely curious, with a deep knowledge of business, the subject of sugar, politics and history, and an impressive general culture.
He never had a yacht of his own and barely a social life. He was a compulsive worker, up to 16 hours a day. His hobby was gardening. He also had a penchant for collecting Hollywood actresses. He had a long relationship with Joan Fontaine and even proposed to Bette Davis. On one occasion he ordered that one of his swimming pools be filled with perfumed water to entertain the movie star and synchronized swimming diva Esther Williams.
He spent his final years caring for his first wife, whom he had divorced many years earlier. By then he could only move his eyes. He asked to be buried in a guayabera. A Cuban flag covered his coffin. That was his wish.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The Canadian government has partnered with its brain injury experts to investigate the causes and effects of alleged health problems that have affected Canadian and U.S. diplomats accredited in Havana.
So says an article in the Ottawa Starr newspaper headlines, signed by Bruce Campion-Smith, its reporter for local political affairs.
Global Affairs, [the Canadian foreign ministry], has arranged for the Brain Repair Center, affiliated with Dalhousie University, as well as the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Center, to investigate the potential causes and mysterious symptoms that allegedly affected a dozen diplomats and their accredited family members in Cuba.
A senior federal government official told The Star that an investigation led by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) conducted with the cooperation of Cuban authorities, which has lasted more than a year, does not even appear to have come close to determining what may have happened and whether anything really happened.
Since 2016, when several U.S. diplomats were joined shortly after by some Canadians, they have been involved in a series of mysterious incidents that left them suffering symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headaches and difficulty concentrating, similar to those of a concussion but without cranial trauma to explain the cause, the Canadian newspaper states.
“In spite of all the investigations carried out, the cause or causes of the health incidents experienced by our staff are still unknown. We basically continue to search, investigate and work with our counterparts,” said the official, who spoke on the condition that his testimony remain anonymous, according to The Star.
Investigations have been hampered from the outset by mysterious circumstances. First, because the U.S. side did not allow accredited experts of any nationality clinical access to those affected or to the U.S. military doctors who could see them within a period of time close to their supposedly being affected. They argued that the patients were personnel working in intelligence tasks, obliged to respect strict rules of secrecy because of the profile of their tasks.
In addition, many media outlets have exploded the imagination of their audiences with science fiction versions of ultrasonic weapons that could be microwaves, speculation about the size of such weapons and the capabilities of such presumed devices.
But perhaps the main obstacle has been that the issue has been turned into a vehicle for denunciation of Cuba by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Though he is not Cuban and has never visited the island, Rubio intends to take advantage of his Cuban ancestry to benefit his presidential aspirations, in the context of the tense relations between Washington and Havana.
Rubio managed and obtained support from President Trump to give the issue global resonance. To encourage him, Rubio assured the American President, using false data, that in Florida counties with abundant Cuban population, Trump had obtained the majority of the votes over Hillary Clinton in the 2018 presidential elections, something that was proved to be false and showed Rubio’s scarce political base among Cubans.
Dr. Michael Hoffer, a brain injury specialist at the University of Miami who cared for several Americans with symptoms, confirmed that their cause is unknown.
Like the Americans, Canadians also experienced incidents in their homes or in hotels and at their workplaces. All revealed anomalies in the boody organs that help determine gravity and balance. Americans and Canadians also agree in the experience of having suffered vestibular problems of the ear and in the balance.
It is interesting to note how the course of the investigations always revolves around the search for the perpetrator(s) of the attacks, their motivation and methods. But they overlook the possible responsibility for the harm to American or Canadian personnel is not from countries that are enemies of the United States or Canada. Nor are they caused by mysterious acoustic attacks themseves, but by actions carried out by the authorities of the American intelligence community, carrying out trials of some kind of clandestine program or secret weapon, at the cost of the naïve sacrifice of their own soldiers and allies.
For now, it seems like a comedy with no predictable end.
October 3, 2018.
By Dr.C Juan Triana Cordoví
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
The apple is a noble fruit with bad luck. Eve used it with Adam and all humanity paid the price. The wicked queen gave it to Snow White to eat and it put her to sleep (true, then the Prince showed up). On top of that, one fell on the head of someone who was sleeping under a tree, the law of gravity appeared, by virtue of which all of us, although we float for a while, we fall.
It is also true that some people get back on their feet, but others, not even with a carne get back to a vertical position. There are also those who float perennially.
What follows is part of a real fact and a supposition. The real fact is that apples are not a commodity in Cuba or anywhere else. The assumption is that the “massive” purchase of apples in Cuba is not an act aimed at provoking some kind of political instability via hoarding.
As I said, my first reaction to seeing the news was to think like my grandfather, who was a winemaker in Güiro-a town between Quivicán and Gabriel. From that “merchant’s gene” I said to myself: magnificent operation.
If no act of corruption has occurred (lower prices, unbilled quantities, etc.), then those who sold the apples have managed to sell perhaps all their inventory at once. With this, in the first place, the turnover of committed capital increases. This, I believe, should positively influence the mass of profits then, it is good for the company.
Second, I say, La Puntilla has avoided having possible losses due to quality deterioration, which is also good for the company.
Third, the company can quickly and from that same income again buy apples! That non-tropical fruit that you like so much. That way you can quickly sell more in less time!
I recognize, however, that this is a very biased way of thinking that leaves aside the reality of the Cuban “market”. In fact, there is a resolution from CIMEX stores that prohibits selling more than a certain percentage of their inventories to a single buyer. It’s aim is to avoid hoarding, a resolution that is due to the “peculiar” way in which the Cuban “market” works.
From the perspective of the “apple consumer”, there are two situations: those who went to La Puntilla (a shop located in a place not easily accessible in Miramar) and suddenly cannot satisfy their fantasy of eating an apple.
However, there are also other consumers, who are willing to spend relatively more (in time or money, which is sometimes the same thing) to reach that store, but who also like apples and are able to pay a little more, always and when they have it closer.
I do not know which of the two groups of consumers is more important.
There is also another type of consumer of apples: one who has, for example, a bakery or sweetshop and needs apples in large quantities, but there is no wholesale market in which to buy them.
But after that cold reflection of a merchant’s grandson, I returned to my position as professor of Economics. The fact itself seemed fantastic to me for a case study from two different perspectives: that of microeconomics and that of Political Economy.
From the microeconomic perspective, there is nothing to say, except that perhaps the price at which the apples are sold at La Puntilla is not a price determined by market conditions -not just supply and demand, which should not be so simplistic, while there are monopolistic conditions conferred to a state company for the importation of apples.
Despite this price, there is a “market” for apples, to the extent that some people take the risk of buying 15,000 at a time. Therefore, there are no problems.
Now, look at an interesting thing: whoever buys apples at a price that is usually multiplied by a coefficient greater than 1.80, has enough money to import them! at a lower price or to buy them in a market that practices the wholesale modality.
If so, then perhaps the apples would be sold in those distribution points probably at a lower price than La Puntilla, with benefits for consumers and also for the country. This is because there would be no risk of money from the country (that is, from the people) in a perishable product, not at all decisive in the structure of the basic consumer goods of the average Cuban.
If there was such a possibility, as much as for the consumers, the salesman, and for the State itself (which does not have to spend on that which is not decisive) would be maximizing the utility of its resources. This is also a cold, calculating reasoning, made from microeconomics, which is too impersonal and far from the social relations of production.
Then let’s look at it from the viewpoint of Political Economy. This act of exchange is nothing more than a way in which diverse actors of society are related in certain conditions at a given moment. The state company, as representative of the owner -which is the people-, and the wholesale buyer of apples, who then sells them to the same owner (not to the State but to the people who consume them) at a higher price. Yes , it seems strange but it is like that. It watches over the interests of the owner and makes his stores work under And part of the utility produced by apples reverts to the owner in some kind of subsidized product or service, or development program from that income produced by apples.
On the other hand, the buyer of apples, who has discovered an opportunity in the retail and territorial distribution of the fruit, has an interest in selling it and making a profit to appropriate it privately. However, by buying all the apples at once from the state-owned company, it has made it easier for the company to buy apples again and continue fulfilling its social purpose, producing more profits for the owner, who is the people. It is true that this buyer appropriates a profit, but if and only if he manages to sell the apples, which allows the realization of the product in which a state company invested money (of the people).
The seller, as already mentioned, makes a profit, a part of which is used to pay its retailers, which generates some type of employment and provides a salary to people who are generally elderly and/or women, or other private businesses. This, although it is true that the “consumers of La Puntilla” are left without their apples, it is also true that the purpose for which apples are imported and sold is fulfilled!
If the company that provides the apples for La Puntilla could immediately replenish the inventory, it would be a great virtuous circle. But this is not the case and, in this case, it is not because of the blockade (you can buy apples not only in the United States, but also in Mexico or Canada).
It is also true that the apple does not care if it is sold in a mass lot or if it is sold individually. It, as long as it does not rot, will fulfill its role of becoming a direct natural food, juice, part of some kind of dessert. Keep in mind that famous passage of the Yogi Bear apple cake, BooBoo! – or in a good and refreshing drink, like cider. It is, in short, an apple, and it is aware of its role – and if not, then worse for the apple.
The way to solve the problem –MINCIN’s proposal to ration the sale of forty-eight “sensitive” products in stores that sell at differentiated and high prices– is another matter.
(Those stores, formerly known as TRD, since they do not sell in dollars directly, only collect CUC, which despite everything we think is not a currency and in fact, today is overvalued in its relationship with the dollar.)
We must resort to the economic history of Cuba and other countries that at some point practiced rationing –in the case of Cuba because we have been faithful and we have not abandoned it– to understand it.
In Cuba, the history of rationing is associated with three factors: the blockade and, before it, the trade reduction measures taken by the US government since the beginning of the Revolution. The decision of the revolutionary government sought to “guarantee” certain goods to the entire population during that hard period. In addition, it aimed to defeat the plans of the North American governments to force us to surrender through hunger. When we already had enough “brotherly and solidary help from the USSR”, then that measure of war became an instrument of equality, where the ration book is its iconic expression.
Then, our productive failures, as much or more than the blockade, made the supply of products in Cuba, in spite of having cheap energy, credit at very low cost and markets and safe prices for our export products, could ever be sufficiently flexible and respond quickly to variations in demand.
Today that expression of equality becomes the sustenance of distributive injustice. This is because, despite the differences in income, all Cuban citizens receive subsidized products and services, from the richest (the buyer of apples, for example) to the poorest, such as retirees with their pension as their only source of income. Note that the buyer of apples is not guilty of this, nor that Puntilla cannot buy apples quickly.
In general, the experiences of physical rationing of products only fulfill a very temporary and short role as a way to regulate the market. Its permanence over time generates distortions that, in the long run, affect the system as a whole and make it unproductive and inefficient, as well as having an intrinsic problem of poor allocation of resources.
(Of the Plan, our old and dear Plan, which was never fulfilled, not even in those days of “fat cows”, what can we say now?).
Resorting to these measures again is like eating the yuca plant and throwing out the root or, as Marxist economists say, it is to settle for momentarily solving the effect and not the cause.
I remember that in the Constitutional Reform Project that we discussed, everyone says in article 20:
“In the Republic of Cuba, the system of economy based on the socialist property of the whole people is governed by the fundamental means of production as the main form of management, and the planned direction of the economy, which considers and regulates the market in function of the interests of society.”
OK, this “solution” that has been proposed as a sui generis way of considering the market. It’s very similar to those of the sixties, which was later recognized in the Programmatic Platform of the Communist Party of Cuba as an error.
The latest recent history –that is, of the last fifty years– of our internal trade is a great book from which to learn what is not to be done. I won’t go on further here, because that gives one enough material for a couple of volumes.
If the decision to ration products at the end is taken again, what will happen? The first thing is that it will create more uncertainty towards the current project of modernization/updating of our economy, and that is a bad political effect.
The second is that it will also generate uncertainty for consumers, who will protect themselves by purchasing those products even when they do not need them (“just in case”) and will force additional expenses even when they are not necessary. In other words, there will be a non-efficient allocation of scarce resources.
Third – and this may not be so bad for some people – it will create a new type of employment, that of the PERMANENT BUYER, who will be out in the stores ready to “help” those who need/want to buy a little more of the normed product. This would be another unproductive form of employment that probably has as a correlate some “special relationship” within the stores.
And that is not science fiction. It has already happened and it still happens. It will happen again as long as the causes remain unresolved. I think we should first ask ourselves how apples can be imported when other, much more important products suffer from the disease of intermittency. Has anyone asked that question?
From the perspective of economic policy, it is evident that today there is a lack of market modality. That is, wholesale sales, something that has been recognized by all as a necessity in these times but which has been delayed for a long time. This happens sometimes for reasons that are not sustained either from the economy or from the Political Economy, much less from economic policy.
Selling wholesale does not even require a building, it is a decision. To make it work you can use state warehouses. It would only take a customer account for those who need or are legally authorized (because of their status as self-employed workers or cooperative members) to carry out that kind of operation.
While we are discussing this apple pastry, very sensitive and decisive issues for our well-being, for the perception of prosperity, for social justice and for equity, as well as for development, remain unresolved, despite the effort made and the hours that many people have dedicated to it.
Issues that have been publicly addressed by our deputies more than once or that have also appeared more than once in the neighborhood accountability assemblies.
Some examples: the weak dynamics of foreign investment, the low participation of investment in science and technology in the total volume of investments, the exodus of professionals, salaries so depressed that they are already almost psychiatric, the use of public services for personal benefit, the deficient system of care for the elderly, the lack of basic supplies in hospitals – such as sheets, towels, syringes and needles (which, by the way, are sold in pharmacies in CUC), medicines on the left, the lack of doctors, the almost eternal deficiencies of public transport, garbage on the corners and the lack of hygiene in the city, the housing deficit.
They are all there, they have been treated again and again. Some have objective causes, others depend to a high degree on subjectivities of one kind or another. However, several of them are unable to reach the hype that has been made because of this poorly understood fruit. And I don’t know why, being such hot and decisive issues, and being all in public view, they haven’t had the good fortune to be treated in the same way as Snow White’s apple.
* This text was originally published in the blog of the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez. OnCuba reproduces this text with the express authorization of its author.
19 September 2018 | 39 Comments
By: Marco Velázquez Cristo.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Some say that corruption should be denounced, demanding that impunity be avoided. However, when these demands are met but affect their personal interests or those of their class, they then try to minimize and ridicule what has been exposed. They also vilify those who have had the courage and moral integrity that they lack and who go beyond the ethereal blah, blah, blah, and denounce an offense like the one committed in La Puntilla.
In this specific case, in the conduct assumed by those who defend the unjustifiable, passion and wounded vanity also play a part. It is unbearable for them that a humble revolutionary blogger –whom they have tried to discredit by all means– with a simple but courageous article of denunciation, succeeded in capturing the attention of the country’s main media and that of an important part of society. So they resorted to making trouble on the Internet.
These characters are so contradictory that while they criticize double standards, they apply them on a daily basis. Their criticism is selective, they only approve of those that go against their main objective: [being] against the State. They are experts in distorting reality and try to describe a situation of corruption in our country like that of other places where it is difficult to differentiate between criminals and corrupt politicians. They are so hypocritical that they claim to defend the Revolution, when in reality they defend their own class interests and –in not a few cases– those of the enemy.
Due to this absence of principles, lack of objectivity and masked perfidy they must resign themselves to holler their heads off on the world wide web..
They themselves provide the arguments that lay then bare: When CIMEX reported on the investigation it would carry it out to clarify what had happened, these people said it would only go so far. When the results came out then they speculated that these would only lead to administrative measures. When it became known that the corresponding charges had been filed, they are now trying to justify a punishable act by the non-existence of a wholesale market and the insufficient availability of some products. Is it licit to corrupt others by taking advantage of their needs and lack of integrity in the name of still unresolved issues? Where are their moral values?
It is true that many things are needed and many problems must be solved, but these issues cannot be used as a justification for hoarding, speculation and exploiting those who have the least. To do so is immoral.
A wholesale market and the availability of more products cannot guarantee on their own the eradication of acts such as the one that has caused these cyber-vigilantes to come out in defense of the crooks who committed it. It is also necessary for defendants and defenders to show decorum, ethical principles and a sense of solidarity. They must leave hypocrisy behind, set aside individualism and honor their human condition. In the rest of the people courage and sense of citizen duty must not remain impervious while crimes are perpetrated.
“To witness a crime passively is equal to committing it”.
— José Martí.
Applying the philosophy of these false apostles of justice, we could charge them and those of their class. Maybe charge them for their children’s education and medical care?, take away their subsidized supplies?, tax their income with high taxes? and… why not?: take away their ADSL paid by the State because no few of them use it to access the Internet and attack the State.
If we were to do that, we could be in a better position to raise salaries and therefore the purchasing powers of those who receive the least and who, as a whole, contribute the most to the public coffers. We could buy more products, lower prices and maybe even create a wholesale market. What do you think, gentlemen?
I believe that it is a fair formula, because I remind these “avengers” that, fundamentally out of the sweat and the sacrifice of millions of humble people. From them come not only the apples but also many other items that some insensitive self-serving persons later hoard and resell at exorbitant prices. These humble people also create the resources and the money to guarantee the services that I mentioned above and the possibility of offering them free of charge, to subsidize the products of the basic basket, etc. It is their work that supports the economy and their dignified and disinterested attitude of commitment to the Revolution that constitutes its greatest strength and the indispensable factor to ensure its continuity.
They make it possible for us to enjoy the advantages of a social system that puts men and women at the center, that fights for equality and social justice, shows high public safety and low crime rates — features that are a luxury in a world shaken by violence. These features allow those who have a lot of money to live in peace and tranquility, and the Internet buffoons to play their pranks on the networks trying to win over supporters and smiles from their class without risk.
We must be consistent: corruption, as well as any other illegal act, have to be denounced regardless of who commits them. Their perpetrators must be prosecuted accordingly.
In Cuba there is not a protective hand that inhibits the action of justice. Double standards are not practiced at the government level as they are in other countries. But double standards are applied in the Cuban blogosphere by some who are shocked only by what does not suit them.
Don’t forget you pink tie clowns that in Cuba money will never guarantee impunity. Those who are in power are the humble –who in the face of scarcities and needs, will not tolerate being robbed, exploited and outraged– aware that as Martí said, “Poverty passes, what does not pass is dishonor”.
Paraphrasing the apostle, “this is a republic for all and for the good of all, not just for a few.