By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
It´s less than a month to the US elections and it is still possible that Donald Trump turns out to be the winner. Such a scenario is regarded with astonishment and concern by those in the United States who still believe in their institutions.
When he began his campaign, very few people took seriously the aspirations of the millionaire who synthesizes the two qualities that ––in the words of Octavio Paz– define imperialist behavior: arrogance and ignorance. He displayed both when he faced the other Republican contenders and now against Hillary Clinton. All along that path he has tried to show himself, demagogically, as if he were an enemy of the “establishment” and the spokesman for its victims.
It is enough to read his proposals to understand that he is blatantly lying. His tax reform plan would benefit only those who concentrate wealth and hurt those who live on their wages. To make matters worse, – a unique case in American history– he refuses to disclose his income tax reports to the Internal Revenue Service and, last but not least, he has boasted of not having paid taxes for years. Al Capone was sent to prison for that crime. But Trump is still freely touring the country where thousands of enthusiastic supporters applaud.
Everywhere, day after day, he repeats a message of hatred, prejudice and violence. There is a long list of those who are subjected to his insults and threats: Mexicans and women, Muslims and people with physical disabilities, immigrants and the LGBT community, those who advocate limiting the arms trade, and those who fight against pollution, as well as an endless list that includes Republican politicians who distance themselves from his ultra-reactionary speech and foul language.
On a couple of occasions he suggested the assassination of Hillary Clinton; and in the debate with her, before millions of viewers, he threatened with her imprisonment if he reached the presidency.
In any country in the world, and in the United States in normal situations, a similar character would lose any election and –most likely– be held in a penal institution or in an asylum. Trump, incredibly, has been the focus of the election campaign and –although many criticize him– he has the support of millions of voters.
The only way to defeat him is Hillary Clinton, the first woman in history with a chance of being elected. The difference is abysmal. Barak Obama did not exaggerate when he said she was more prepared to be President than he –Obama– or her husband, Bill Clinton.
Hillary has a long political career from her early years and has always been seen as an enemy by the most conservative groups who have unleashed a fierce campaign against her in which slander abounds. She has made mistakes –some of undoubted importance– and reprehensible concessions. She did not always remain faithful to her ideals of youth. But the same can be said of any US politician and none other has been subjected to such relentless scrutiny by the media – those of the large corporations and many others circulating in the digital universe. These have examined her life in detail and cannot accuse her of having committed any crime. The biggest charges against her are having embraced neo-liberalism –as did almost all in her party– and having implemented, as Secretary of State, the warmongering line of the White House.
The United States remains the most powerful country in the world but its society is going through a deep crisis. Frustration and discomfort dominate US citizens who are increasingly skeptical of their politicians. Donald Trump manipulates the situation and does it appealing to the racism, brutal individualism, stupidity and violence that have been present –since its origin– in the nation that believes it is superior to the rest of the world. His candidacy has brought out the worst in the US and has turned it into an organized political force.
Hillary does not represent a revolutionary alternative. Choosing her will not produce the radical transformation of US society. But right now she is the only hope to stop barbarism.
It is possible to beat Trump. But it needs to be a crushing defeat: a landslide of votes that puts this unprecedented demagogue out of action, and also allows the start of a new stage where “Trumpism” can be defeated, because it is a disease that corrodes US society and threatens humanity.
In drug use, sometimes lethal does not necessarily mean physical death, but social or psychological death when you are still alive, the death of the relationship with yourself, says psychologist María Esther Ortiz Quesada, a specialist in the field. –in an interview with JR.
Francisco Arias Fernández
September 10, 2016 22:40:51 CDT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
MS María Esther Ortiz Quesada, professor of psychology at the University of Havana, has dedicated her life to saving and bringing back many who were lost to addictions.
Since early 2003, she began conducting a number of radio and television programs on the subject. She is an authorized professional, a communicator par excellence and has been one of the leaders of the battle against drugs for the last four decades, in the fields of health, clinical psychology and social communication.
A “Bayamesa” [from Bayamo in Granma province] by birth, she embraced her cause and defends it in the clinic through group and individual therapy; in university classrooms, passing on her knowledge and experience to future saviors; in the mass media, reaching even the most intricate, distant homes and perhaps –with good luck—those who need help the most.
When I checked with my interviewee if I had correctly listed the fundamental elements of her resume, she confirmed her high sense of belonging and commitment:
“I am proud of my work as a teacher. My students are proof that youth is not lost; they are the fundamental source of that certainty and fertile land where I place my hopes. In the media, either as a consultant, conducting workshops and seminars for journalists and creators or as a communicator, I have been given the opportunity to go outside the office and classroom to carry the message… even to places where it is not welcomed. All I have done, everything, started and developed in the department of Specialized Treatments at the Psychiatric Hospital in Havana. That’s my origin (Mental Hygiene), and I would love to have this on record. “
Her answers to the most diverse questions surrounding marijuana today help us understand the dangers of that harmful substance for human beings and society.
Q: The most marketed and consumed illicit drug in the world is still marijuana. What is the impact of this international trend in Cuban patients and what are its most common effects?
A: I wonder if marijuana is really the most commonly used drug. I think that probably the most consumed drugs in the world –although there are no actual records– are the medications used for purposes that are not scientifically justified, that is, when a legal drug to cure certain diseases becomes illegal by how it is used; these drugs are misused in prisons, schools, at parties and other situations.
Beyond this perspective, I agree that among illegal drugs marijuana is the most widely consumed; it benefits from the promotion it receives, international advertising, especially on the internet, in movies and the mass media. Many believe that, because of its natural origin, marijuana is not harmful. There is also the naive believe that it is a gift from nature, not processed by humans and therefore good. The existence of laboratory marijuana is overlooked: that is, synthetic cannabis products which are the result of hundreds of formulas invented by humans, and are harmful products widely consumed in our planet.
Right now most patients who come to my clinic are marijuana consumers and it is clear that the last to realize that they are going down the wrong path are the consumers, even if they have not reached the addiction stage. They are not exactly the ones who request specialized help. Those who do become aware of the problem are the relatives who try desperately to find a solution.
The most common conditions among my patients have to do with family fractures, with damage to the family. A part of the family does not believe there is a problem and others are sure that what is happening to their loved one has to do with the consumption of marijuana. The consumer rejects the idea that he has any problems and that these could be associated with marijuana.
All this creates a conflict within the family that diverts attention from the real problem, which is the use of the drug. To me this discrepancy is most relevant because when those persons do not know what is wrong and have not sought help, they have no guidance to handle the situation properly; then the situation becomes much more complicated, and it primarily affects the consumer.
The most important damage I’m seeing is the “lack-of-motivation” syndrome: the person breaks their productive ties to society, because he or she may have too many “interests” and many “desires” but no longer has the psychological energy to organize a project and carry it through. In addition, there is the frustration of not being able to achieve anything, because he or she really does not have the possibility of carrying out a project. One frustration comes after another among marijuana users, because they accomplish nothing, they lose discipline, and the capacity to make the efforts or sacrifices that the fulfillment of any project requires.
On the other hand, there are those who have a creative life, because they are artists or simply dedicated to creation in general, but the muse never comes or disappears, and they begin to justify it calling it a creative block. Others begin to have problems in healthy relationships with their partners and these difficulties lead them to split up. When both partners use, coexistence becomes very difficult because they are constantly in conflict. It is something like a double addiction: to marijuana and bad relationships.
I have known cases where a partner has found out that the other goes out to use marijuana with other people. They consider this worse than adultery, because it reveals the very high importance that is given to the substance.
Also among the people I treat many have difficulties in their sexual relationships. When both partners are consumers they almost do not see the problem, because they are steeped in the world of alleged sexual fantasies that are initially imagined as hope for pleasure, until they annihilate all authentic intimacy. But when only one of the two is the consumer, then the problems really multiply. It happens especially with men who are consumers and women who are not. In such cases the women often complain that “even in bed I´ve lost him, I do not know where my husband is, because he is nowhere”, and she doesn´t have him even for helping take care of the children.
About those who seek to accompany sex with drugs: I think people should naturally discover the wonders of sex. The mixture of sexual enjoyment with marijuana or other substances to try to reach alleged fantasies, or the attempt to find always something different, becomes a trap that often leads to many frustrations.
A teenager, a young man who is endowed with enough hormones to enjoy any contact with his partner has absolutely no need to use drugs. I have treated teenagers who have been initiated in the use by a partner who encouraged him in his first sexual relationship, to mix it with marijuana. Many of these young people establish such a strong tie to the substance that they lose the possibility of sexual performance and require therapy to recover the ability to achieve a sexual relationship without the presence of the drug.
Other cases have come upon marijuana at a party, where –according to their description– they share a “joint” among a small group. There are those who choose to yield and not become the “odd one”, but they don’t really want to join the consumption; however, they do not feel ready to reject it and continue down the downward road. A young man told me that to avoid it, instead of inhaling the smoke, what he did was to blow it out so the others would think that he was actually smoking. Clearly this was intended to evade consumption, but he was still exposed to the smoke exhaled by the consumers and the consequent results.
In recent times there have been more frequent cases of cannabis psychotic crises and I believe that they are linked to brain damage caused by prolonged consumption of this substance, often enhanced by using other drugs. The syndrome that characterizes cannabis psychosis is very peculiar: florid but indefinite paranoid symptoms appear which are not always reversible.
I remember once, in my clinic, a salamander dashed in chased by a cat. I managed to save the reptile from the feline. A few months later one of the boys confessed to me: “Imagine how screwed up I was, that the day I saw the salamander, I thought it was a device that you had there to film me and that you were adjusting the equipment.” Asked how he saw it now, he replied: “I’m sure it’s not the way I saw it, but I still believe it was so”. This puzzled me, because he had seemingly overcome the crisis; however, this response demonstrated the existence of psychotic residuals.
We are not talking about underfed boys, most have no serious conflicts with their family, they are not frustrated in their aspirations of getting this or that career or job. Many are accomplished persons in their projects, who simply mixed with human groups who consumed marijuana.
The danger lies in the fact that to accept the risks of consuming some have to go through these psychotic crises that affect them deeply. This has to do with beliefs, which are the cognitive component of behavior. Hence people behave according to their concepts and it is precisely on these where we specialists must act in the rehabilitation process of these patients.
For years the notions that marijuana “does no harm, that it facilitates sex, that it makes persons more likeable, that it enlightens and brings the muse to a creator” have been encouraged. Now, countries that are supposedly more developed than ours accept consumption of marijuana as something legal; these harmful ideas become globalized and reach us strongly from all sides.”
Q: Then, what can we do to protect ourselves?
A: What is essential to prevent any harm, mainly to prevent the use of marijuana is a cohesive family. That is paramount. I mean a family that teaches that life is a process and that the acquisition of goods, the achievement of goals… everything is a process. These things are not bought; they are achieved through hard work, discipline, organization and diligence. We are talking about a family that enjoys the process of building things, and does not expect to get things done in rush.
Drugs tend to make people feel that they get what they need or want right there and then. There are those who turn to drugs in order to supposedly leave depressive moods behind. Sadness cannot disappear immediately; one has to learn that there are sorrows that are there and must be dealt with, that they are manageable and gradually diminish and disappear. But to think that they will disappear with a pill or marijuana joint is a serious mistake.
The family must also uphold honesty always –and not only in words. They must instill it in behavior. They must teach their children to enjoy the little things in life: watching television together, cooking, eating together, sharing enjoyments, making them feel that home is like a shelter where they will always be protected.
The family should teach children to be assertive and not aggressive. People confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness. They should learn to defend positions and principles: I am a human being regardless of what I own. Maybe I’m smart, maybe I’m not, but I am disciplined, polite, I work hard, I am an individual with values. These values should be acknowledged in children so that they feel good being who they are. They should not be asked for more than they can give. We should learn to demand more when we know they have talent and ability to do more; but we must learn to do that and not overwhelm or belittle them.
The family must also be able to supervise, and not trust blindly. Children are vulnerable at a certain age and we must be alert to help them at the right time. We have to be close to them when values are sown, we cannot be absent or far away. Parents must be their monitors, aware of their role in the family.
In my view, the key factor in drug prevention, above all things, is the family. Secondly, public policy, which must be clear, consistent and enforced.
To be effective in the rehabilitation process, we must first know the patient well. At first, I can rarely launch myself into battle to destroy false beliefs. I must first know the terrain because I want to be accepted, to establish a real communication with the consumer and I cannot be an extension of those who reprimand him or her in and out of their home. I must be someone they can trust.
Recently I treated a young marijuana user who had many problems and was initially very reluctant to get help and was very aggressive. I then decided to have a very open consultation with him; sometimes I made a joke over what he said and before he left he told me: “You are quite the opposite of what I expected, and I’ll start thinking about what you say.”
We must look for the most effective ways to reach these persons with a positive message, to be able to influence their beliefs; to put in their hands a book or accurate information, conceived by others, not necessarily by the psychologist who treats them. And we can say: “Look, I’m not the one who says this; this was written by a French or a Canadian specialist, many miles away, but it has to do with you … So just think about it, I would like you to read it.” It is a way of introducing dialogue, especially with those who are focused on what other countries allow or promote. Moreover, I also mention national colleagues, and this always leaves room for other alternative specialized treatments.
It is important to teach and assist children from early childhood so that they learn to say no. That’s my position. Sometimes you hear parents saying: “This kid cannot say no; anyone talks him into doing this or that.” However, that same young person is the one who says “I won’t go to the store, I won’t throw the garbage away, I can’t do that right now …” So, he or she really knows how to say no.”
The issue is to help them to say no in the right place and at the right time. It is a way to fix positions, perhaps even to create values. Saying no to what may be negative or harmful for the child, adolescent, young person or adult. Help them be ready to say no to drugs wherever they are, be it Cuba, Hong Kong or New York… wherever… But we need to train them from childhood at home.
This means making them ready for a flat out NO. Some resort to the excuse of saying: “No, I have my own.” And that’s not the way. The way is simply being able to say: “No, I do not use drugs, nor do I have to.” In other words this is to say: “Why do I have to give in; why do I have to play the game? Why smile at the enemy? “In a recent public meeting we had, I heard a teenaged high school senior and his two companions, students also, saying how much they enjoyed saying no to invitations to consume; how strong this makes them feel.”
Q: Have you suffered the permanent loss of any of your patients to marijuana?
A: Three of my patients have died. One was addicted to marijuana and I was told that he got killed. He was a person who became very aggressive when he consumed and hung out with very dangerous people, who beat him to death. Another committed suicide. He hanged himself because he assaulted a woman and the police were looking for him. He went home and took his own life. In both cases marijuana did not kill them directly; it was the consequence of using it that did. The latter did not have the capacity to realize that an offense carries a penalty that you serve and overcome. Obviously, he saw no other way out.
The third mixed marijuana with other drugs and his health deteriorated severely: an overdose killed him. He was a philosophy student, who began to justify his use saying that great philosophers, including classics, had allegedly been addicted to cocaine. He was a victim of his beliefs.
Among the people I have treated, I have lost some, but not necessarily because they died. One of them lost everything but the love for his youngest daughter, but in the end he lost all contact because the girl moved to another province with her mother. The man had become completely demented and had to stop working. That one I did not lose physically; unfortunately he is no longer my patient. His condition requires other levels of treatment, perhaps without hope of complete remission.
The other case was not detected by his direct use of marijuana, but because his wife came to the clinic seeking help because she wanted a divorce and needed guidance for handling the children. It turns out that she had young children and this man had become totally inconsiderate: he ate his children’s food and left them with nothing; he ate the baby food, jelly, cereal, custard, rice pudding, desserts mainly…
When she started telling me the story, I asked her bluntly:” Since when has he been using marijuana?” Surprised, she responded with another question:”And how do you know that? I was right because everything pointed to similar past experiences and fit with part of the clinical picture of marijuana users. I told her that I wanted to see her husband because before she made any decisions regarding divorce, I wanted to talk to him.”
When he came to see me, he showed a clear clinical picture: his delusions took him to believe that he had a direct link with San Lazaro. He announced that he was giving up therapy sessions to go to Rincon [to San Lazaro Church]. However, he came to each therapy appointment. Once, because the truck that was taking him back home took a detour, passed by my clinic and he decided to come in; another day because he had fallen asleep and woke up nearby; another because the buses were diverted … conclusion, he always came. His case was also handled by the rest of the therapy group; they made a sort of interpretation around his delirium: “San Lazaro is sending you a clear message, every time you’re going to see him, He –in one way or another– sends you over here; can’t you see?” From that moment on his presence was systematic, but he was already too deteriorated. I can tell you that the group wisdom is often my best ally.
Eventually he and his wife got divorced because his recovery process was very slow. The woman said: “I leave because I do not want to risk my children; I’ve already lost my husband, I can’t lose my kids.” After that he stopped coming to therapy, committed crimes and has spent a long time in a psychiatric hospital, not in a drug rehabilitation ward, but as a chronic mental patient.
Common denominators in these cases are violence, memory loss, psychosis, delirium and chronic biological or psychic illnesses that are very difficult to manage.
With drugs, sometimes lethal does not necessarily mean physical death. In my view, lethal means the social or psychological death while you still have biological life; the loss of creativity, the turning off of healthy interpersonal relationships, the death of the relationship with yourself. That is the worst part. To associate lethality only with the physical demise may be a mistake, or simply a narrow view. The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to lose the will to live or to stay in a position in which it seems to have motivations, but can do nothing and not even realize what is happening. A person who cannot be critical of themselves or of the surrounding reality, a person who cannot realize that their mind is disabled… that is what is lethal. What can be more lethal than the loss of a person’s talent to marijuana smoke? Sometimes it is unclear which is worse for parents: the “final” death or seeing their offspring die a bit each day. Of course, as long as there is life we keep thinking that something can be done. “
Q: According to your participation in the different international events where the prevention of drug use is discussed, what is the view of the trend toward legalization and decriminalization of marijuana? What impact does this have on Cuba and particularly on your patients?
A: I think behind these trends is drug trafficking. They serve the best interests of those deep-pocket mafias. It is not my paranoia. Organized crime has a great interest in legalizing drugs, because that would be a big advantage for them. Secondly, I believe that many countries suffer from a degree of naiveté and are falling into that position. Although it is very suspicious that powerful groups with such high power and prerogatives are so naive as to not see the dangers and threats that marketing and consumption of the drug generate.
I do not really think they’re oblivious to that reality. But if there is a margin for reasonable doubt there would be no explanation but naiveté. This does not relieve them of responsibility. Other nations are doing so because they have no idea –and do not seek advice from those working with the suffering of the addicts and their families– and are in the position of protecting human “pseudo-rights” because in my view these are so and nothing more.
Once Pope Francis said drugs can´t be fought with drugs. Evil is not fought with evil. And I have the conviction that if drugs are evil –and there’s no doubt about it– how can we fight the evils of drugs by legalizing them? The Pope worked in Argentina with people affected by this evil and has the first hand experience of these sufferings. That is why he thinks this way.
In order to understand the trend toward legalization, it is also necessary to remember the high levels of corruption that are shaking the world today. And it’s not disrespectful to think that many of those who advocate legalizing marijuana benefit from the business.
Moreover, I believe that social projects in many parts of the world have not been sufficiently effective in preventing the use of the substance. In many cases these projects have remained only on paper, with good intentions, or have been very limited to certain areas, without a holistic approach, sometimes in a school or a community, but with no impact on the entire population. Then the effects of preventive programs have been minimal and hopelessness makes them think that legalization is a better wat to avoid the problems. I think there are desperate countries that do not know what to do.
I fail to see a single benefit of legalizing marijuana. There are none. Some say: “It will reduce the prison population”. Yes, less drug traffickers go to prison and legally multiply their deadly business. But it will not reduce the prison population of addicts because they will continue to commit crimes while under the influence of drugs or to get drugs. And those who will not go to prison will remain prisoners of consumption. Violence or rape will not decrease. Lack-of-motivation syndromes will not diminish. All these will increase.
Those who were already addicted illegally will be joined by those who did not consume out of respect for the law. And once states give their blessing it would be like saying: “Well, the drug is no longer a problem; marijuana is not harmful.”Legalization is in itself an incitement. This is going against all logic and scientific truth.
Some hide behind the idea that it is important to remove the ban because it stimulates consumption. Following that logic, it is conceivable that if we legalized rape, violence, the abuse of women, if we legalized everything that is wrong, then there will be less chance that people would do those things that are no longer forbidden. It seems to me a very twisted logic. How come this would work for some things, like drugs, and not for others?
That’s a very poorly told story with very vulnerable reasoning. From my experience I cannot accept it. Seeing the suffering of my patients and their families, and the collateral victims of these processes, makes it very hard to see any positive side to legalization. I dread the idea that my grandchildren could grow up in a country where the drug is legal and easy to obtain.
I still wonder why if it has been proven that marijuana has a negative effect on the state of consciousness and generates a decrease in self-criticism and a distorted perception of the world, it is used with alleged therapeutic purposes, against stress or other conditions. Even more so when there are many medicines or medicinal plants that are in the international glossary with truly curative effects.
In Cuba as elsewhere, the international debate on the legalization of marijuana has a negative impact, because it tends to demobilize. In this battle it is essential to stimulate and strengthen the perception of risk; but when you are reading all the time on the Internet that marijuana is not bad and that more countries legalize it, those who believe in its uncertain benefits multiply. So we must raise our guard and be on the alert.
The most important thing is the protection of human beings and we must protect their sanity. No one should tarnish it with falsehoods and beliefs that would drag them to dire comparisons. It seems apocalyptic to hear voices calling from ignorance or absurd naiveté: “If they legalized it, why not us?” From resignation we could answer to those people: “Yes, let’s do the same; let’s commit suicide”. But that is a twisted and pessimistic view. I firmly believe that the battle can be won and to this end I have devoted my life. I find the idea of legalization repulsive. Marijuana is not an alternative, it is a proven evil.”
Andres – September 12, 2016 5:04:10 CDT
Personally I recognize the experience and expertise of MS María Esther Ortiz Quesada. The results of her research are very important because they use. It is something we should definitely consider.
However, I disagree, respectfully but vehemently, with her conclusions regarding legalization. And I continue to disagree with the approach –ina completely one-dimensional view– that the media in our country give the subject.
In my opinion it deliberately favors a single criterion on the matter, even when it is publicly known that other evidence and other serious studies advocate a different approach.
When this happens you can’t say that we are acting in accordance with the evidence but according to our moral preferences. But the fact is that in so doing we run the risk of stigmatizing lots of people for no good cause, and disregarding scientific evidence.
I think that a very large ideological burden exists in our country on the subject. And I think this is one of the thorniest issues in the debate about marijuana, and, to be clear, not only in Cuba.
On the one hand it is indisputable that, like any psychotropic drug, legal or not, there are risks associated with excessive consumption of marijuana. Denying this is silly and naive. There are physical risks (not physical addiction), and psychological (including psychological addiction), known to scientists like MS Ortiz Quesada who has struggled all her life, and that is a great medical and scientific merit.
All this becomes more important when we recognize that the probability of creating dependency and other psychological disorders increases significantly if consumers are young children, whose cognitive and brain activities are in the process of development. This can certainly lead to long-term disorders.
Every effort (medical, social and legal) intended to prevent use in this vulnerable phase is welcome. However, I am also of the opinion that our debate in Cuba suffers from a strong lack of perspective.
First, it must be recognized that this is a debate where there are serious and high-level divergent viewpoints, which should be subject to public scrutiny. It should take into account the evidence provided by those who think differently. It is the right procedure in a serious scientific debate.
We cannot simply dismiss them as “naive” for having a different opinion. This would be an assessment of moral nature which does not respond to the evidence. It is important to contextualize the debate.
For example, there are recent studies indicating that of all marijuana users, only 9% end up developing some kind of dependency. This is not a figure to be disregarded but, comparatively speaking, does not justify the stigmatization and criminalization of millions of adults for its use.
The most important thing is that this 9% is not only associated with excessive consumption of marijuana, but other factors. Studies show clearly that psycho-social factors function as causal risks for dependency: people with low academic achievement, family relations issues (especially with parents, and rebellion associated with this), parents with a history of alcohol abuse and drugs, etc.
There are enough reasons to create social strategies to combat these issues (of course including prevention), but there is no reason and not enough evidence to blame marijuana directly for all these problems.
For example, research also points to the fact that marijuana use is a condition that is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain disorders such as psychosis. It’s not about promoting marijuana, but simply to put things in perspective.
I know the seriousness of the analysis of MS Ortiz Quesada, but there is also a multitude of researchers who think completely differently, and who have also spent decades seriously studying the issue. There are, to cite just one example of the long list, the publications of Dr David Nutt, a neuro-psycho-pharmacologist and British psychiatrist, a specialist in the study of the effects of drugs, addiction, anxiety, etc.
He is a high-profile personality, known among other things for his conflict with the British government, given the persistence of the latter in creating a classification system of psychotropic substances that had nothing to do with what the evidence reports on its effect.
Alcohol is positioned as less harmful, when all the evidence points to the contrary. It is not surprising that Dr. Nutt is of the view that this is a politically-motivated list and not something scientifically justified.
There are the articles on this research in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which propose a new classification system based on terms of health risk and its potential for abuse.
Indeed, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, but also alcohol and tobacco are high on the list. It recognizes that marijuana is not harmless, but it is placed in perspective. There is also serious evidence of its medical use, even in the treatment of disorders of psychic nature.
All this has serious implications regarding the debate on its legalization. What do we do with this and much other evidence? Do we ignore them because we do not like them, or do not coincide with our moral preferences?
When MS Ortiz Quesada compares the legalization of marijuana with the legalization of rape she makes, in my opinion, an inexcusable associative fallacy, which de facto criminalizes millions. The evidence on the mental and physical damage associated with rape is indisputable.
You can say the same of cocaine, heroin and crack, but not of marijuana, although we do not like it. Such biased equidistance cannot be established on this issue.
On the other hand, the evidence does not necessarily support the idea that crime will skyrocket with legalization. It is precisely its illegal character that attracts lots of unscrupulous elements to deal with this product. A legal regime associated with strong public regulations, taxes and quality standards will hardly help illegal traffickers.
Remember that it was precisely the outlawing of alcohol in the United States that boosted trafficking and organized crime in cities like Chicago. Figures like Al Capone found their raison d’être in that era. So far, everyone who was taking a sip was breaking the law, and life proved its inconsistency (despite the harmfulness of alcohol).
It is precisely the need to avoid stigmatization and criminalization of millions unnecessarily that stimulates debate on the legalization of marijuana. Trying to present those who favor it as naive (even when supported by serious and systematic evidence) denotes a moral preference, but it is not a sufficient scientific argument.
Good morning to all. I do not know if Dr. Ortiz Quesada reads these comments, but I do not want to miss the opportunity to let you know that her program is one of the best of the kind I have ever seen on TV. She prepares it and leads it excellently and more than commend it (I do, too) I want to thank her for such a good job.
Maria Esther: the sweetest and most beautiful voice in the entire Cuban television universe.If only I could meet her someday…
Andrés: excellent dissertation.However I would like to comment that the issue in question, no matter how you try to avoid it, has a political edge. And it can get out of control and end up being a social phenomenon. Something that was taboo a few years ago and now comes as a scientific revelation it becomes sensitive, putting it in perspective, from the social and cultural angle. This is not to politicize a “scientific revelation” because it already comes politicized, because it has to, I say. All scientific discoveries have a political and social cost and this in particular has a high cost. However it is good to hear different views, but we must put them in context.
I join the praise for Dr. Ortiz, BUT I DO NOT AGREE WITH WHAT SHE SAYS IN THIS ARTICLE. I am convinced that alcohol is much more harmful than marijuana and yet it is a thriving industry.
This article is a call for sanity in the media and the scientific community. Coca producers say that Coca is “good”. White chocolate producers say black chocolate is harmful. Now the media are saying that sex in old age is bad, whereas until recently they said it was “important”.
It is said that there are alcoholic drinks that are good for the heart. It is even said that whiskey, gin, vodka and wine are good for hypertension, while rum and brandy are not. What is the difference…?
Some say that Mozart’s music is good for reaching a high IQ, that Cohiba cigars do not cause lung cancer, and so forth. My goodness, to compare alcoholic drinks with marijuana … By the way, now alcoholic beverages are not called like that, they are now “spirits”. In order to sell the media will always find a way.
Dear Andres, I think that all who agree with the legalization of marijuana receive economic benefits from this, or are consumers of it or have never had a brother, a father or a child who has lost its psycho-social or natural life for this cause and is today a vegetable or a totally despicable person who lost everything in life or is already worm food.
Life is more than being an addict, a prisoner of a toxic product in a world that is not real and that to achieve happiness or pleasure drives us from violent actions to suicide that affect not only the individual but the family and the society around it.
I’ve seen talented young people with a good life that have lost everything to try something new. In Uruguay, the use of marijuana was legalized; however this has brought all kinds or results except for the desired ones to such a point that legalization was suspended indefinitely to analyze again the proposal that has so far been a mistake in practice.
Beware of toxic substances, do not become slaves to an avoidable evil. Imagine your child is one of those within the 9% you say ends up addicted, and this addiction ends their life and it all began with let’s buy some and use it, anyway it’s legal, something new, and not all become addicts and certainly it won’t happen to me, I will control it; that’s like not using condoms because AIDS won’t touch me.
Down with drugs, legal or not, they rob a man’s capability for being rational and they become thirsty beasts craving for something they will never attain or satisfy them. I’m young, I have a baby some months old, and wish my son never would never in a country where drugs are served as food or medicine and are on the same shelf as those.
Andres, I don’t see a single benefit of legalizing drugs, I admire our country for its serious policy on drugs. Look what happens in Mexico or Colombia and see the true face of drugs.
By the way, I’m young, 23 years old, no one forbade me using anything, just that my mother and my family, from an early age, taught me what drugs were, they told me clearly about their effects-benefits and I decided what option was more intelligent and beneficial for me.
Luckily today I do not use any harmful substances and live very happily and enjoy life to the fullest. Look around and you will see how beautiful life is and the thousands of options to enjoy with our friends, family or partner. My greatest support to the doctor and to all those who fight against this demon, Greetings from someone whose eyes are open.
I came to this article without looking; I was not investigating the subject. I was inquiring about youth and that´s how I got to the newspaper of the Cuban Youth and this substantial article. By the overwhelming spreading today of the idea that marijuana should be legalized and decriminalized I was among those who believed it should be so.
Dr.: You just convinced me with this simple but strong article to move to the other side. A simple glance is enough to understand the truth of how this damn plague is spread by the drug cartels and sponsored by bad politicians is spreading among our young people so they get trapped in that dark pit without exit. At the end of the day, that’s what they [cartels and bad politicians] want: a society convulsed and a youth without reaction. Thank you so much.
9 Andres – September 13, 2016 1:20:55 CDT
Certainly, friend jpuentes, there is a strong ideological charge throughout the debate. And it is therefore important that all the evidence is considered critically.
Lolo: I respect your convictions and invite you to review the existing evidence about the issue. Many of the things you mention are not associated with marijuana, but with cocaine, heroin and other really destructive drugs like alcohol.
You cannot put them all in the same bag as if they were the same, because they are not. It is true that marijuana is not harmless (which has become clear in my comment above), but neither are alcohol and tobacco.
And yet, life shows that, despite having an overwhelmingly more lethal impact than marijuana, the use and abuse of these products is much more controlled legally.
My point is we should make a more differentiated analysis of all these issues. On the other hand, the evidence on the medical use of marijuana is there, and it is less known because the official position of many nations is to choose criminalization, and ignore all studies on the subject.
Evidence, however, is abundant and has nothing to do with pseudo-science, but with the studies of many prestigious researchers who have dedicated decades of study to the subject, and their results have been registered in high level publications.
There are also studies published in our Cuban Journal of Pharmacology, made by very serious and rigorous researchers. To simply ignore this because we do not like it is like crossing the street with our eyes closed, Lolo.
On the other hand, almost all the world’s governments have commissioned studies on the subject, and the results have not always been what they wanted. Many of them, despite maintaining the illegal status of marijuana, have started very calmly to deal with the problem in a more flexible and pragmatic way.
They realize that otherwise they would criminalize a lot of ordinary people for no good reason: people who pay taxes, who fulfill their social duties, who are law-abiding, care for their families, work in the community, etc. This would be most unfortunate socially and politically.
Since the beginning of the revolution it was said that Cuba had to necessarily be a country of men and women of science. That does not mean that we must all go to a lab and work with microscopes; it is an invitation to us, as a society, to adopt a rational attitude on any conflict or problem that comes our way. And that principle is one of the things that makes me feel so proud of my country.
We are not a herd of fanatics deciding according to a whim, but we read, investigate and make decisions with cool minds, according to the evidence, and without giving up our principles. If the leaders of the Cuban revolution had not acted in that way, they would not have survived; neither they nor the Cuban social project.
There is ideological resistance in many sectors and this brings controversy. But that’s part of normal social debates Lolo, especially when it comes to new or controversial issues such as marijuana. How many initiatives and projects have been put on hold in our country to submit them to better analysis and implementation?
Does this mean that the central purpose of the project is flawed or inconsistent? Not at all. Social and political decisions need debate. The issue needs to be taken to the public, all angles should be analyzed, the source of our perceptions researched, the different ideas assessed (provided that they are based on serious studies), etc.
In the case of marijuana, there are other places apart from Uruguay where legalization (or at least decriminalization) works perfectly well. If we ignore this it is our business. Lolo: I have seen lives destroyed by drugs: by hard illegal drugs and also by those legal. I have seen many persons lose their lives to alcohol or smoking.
I think that we have all seen enough to know the devil we are dealing with. It would be absolute nonsense to deny the excellent work of M.S. Ortiz Quesada, because anyone who is in that 9% is going to need people like her (I think that was made clear in the previous comment). Just as with alcoholics and tobacco addicts.
In addition, I have a six year-old daughter whom I adore, and I hope to leave her in a better world than the one I found. Believe me: what I say does not come lightly, or unconsciously. Now, this fight must be made based on knowledge and not from ideological fickleness.
In the past, people were burned [at the stake] because others believed they were responsible for poor harvests or epidemics. Burning them never solved anything, despite the determination shown by the inquisitionists.
Putting our moral preferences above the evidence has led us to stigmatize people for the length of their hair, color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The world is not on the right track when scientific evidence is ignored, my friend. That’s not the world I want for my daughter; definitely not. What is unequivocally bad must be prohibited and combated. But what is bad cannot only be defined from our ideological preferences.
Andrés – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 5:04:10 CDT
En lo personal reconozco la trayectoria y experiencia de la master María Esther Ortiz Quesada. Los resultados de sus investigaciones son muy importantes, pues no dejan duda sobre los riesgos asociados al consumo de la marihuana. Es algo que definitivamente debemos tomar en cuenta. Sin embargo, discrepo, respetuosa pero profunda y vehementemente, con sus conclusiones respecto a la legalización. Y también continúo discrepando con la lectura, a mi juicio totalmente unidimensional, que los medios en nuestro país le dan al tema. En mi opinión se privilegia deliberadamente una solo criterio sobre el asunto, incluso cuando se conoce públicamente que existen otras evidencias y otros estudios serios defendiendo un criterio distinto. Cuando esto sucede ya no se puede decir que estamos actuando de acuerdo con la evidencia sino de acuerdo a nuestras preferencias morales. Pero el asunto es que cuando actuamos así corremos el riesgo de estigmatizar a montones de gente por ninguna buena causa, y a desdén de la evidencia científica. Opino que en nuestro país existe una carga ideológica muy grande respecto al tema. Y creo que este es uno de los asuntos más peliagudos del debate en torno a la marihuana, y, para ser claros, no solamente dentro de Cuba. Por una parte es indiscutible que, como todo psicotrópico, legal ó no, hay riesgos asociados al consumo excesivo de la marihuana. Negar esto es una tontería y una ingenuidad. Existen riegos físicos (no adicción física) y psicológicos (incluida la adicción psicológica) conocidos, contra los cuales científicos como la master Ortiz Quesada han luchado toda su vida, y ese es un gran mérito, médico y científico. Todo esto adquiere mucho más relevancia cuando reconocemos que la probabilidad de crear dependencia y otros desórdenes psicológicos aumenta notablemente si los consumidores son jóvenes menores de edad, cuyas actividades cognitiva y cerebral están en pleno proceso de desarrollo. Esto puede ciertamente conducir a desórdenes a largo plazo. Todo esfuerzo (médico, social y legal) destinado a prevenir su uso en esta fase vulnerable es bienvenido. Sin embargo, soy también del criterio que nuestro debate en Cuba adolece de una fuerte falta de perspectiva. En primer lugar, se debe reconocer que se trata de un debate, donde existen opiniones serias y divergentes de alto nivel, las cuales deben ser sometidas al escrutinio público. Se debe tomar en cuenta la evidencia aportada por aquellos que piensan distinto. Es lo correcto en un debate científico serio. No podemos sencillamente tratarlos de “ingenuos” por tener otro criterio. Esta es una valoración de orden moral, que no responde a la evidencia. Es importante contextualizar el debate. Por ejemplo, hay estudios muy recientes que señalan que, de todos los consumidores de marihuana, sólo un 9 % termina desarrollando algún tipo de dependencia. Esto no es una cifra a despreciar pero, comparativamente hablando, no justifica la estigmatización, ni criminalización, de millones de personas adultas por su uso. Lo más importante es que este 9 % no está asociado solamente al consumo excesivo de marihuana, sino de otros factores. Los estudios hablan de factores psico-sociales claros que funcionan como factores de riesgo causales de la dependencia: personas con pocos logros académicos, relaciones familiares problemáticas (sobre todo con los padres, y la rebelión asociada a esto), padres con una historia de abuso de alcohol y drogas, etc. Existen motivos suficientes para crear estrategias sociales que combatan estos asuntos (naturalmente incluida la prevención), pero no existen motivos ni evidencia suficientes para culpar a la marihuana directamente de todos estos problemas. Por ejemplo, las investigaciones también hablan del hecho de que el consumo de marihuana no es una condición ni necesaria ni suficiente para explicar desórdenes como la psicosis. No se trata de promover a la marihuana, sino de poner las cosas en perspectiva. Me consta de la seriedad de los análisis de la master Ortiz Quesada, pero es que también existe una multitud de investigadores que piensan totalmente distinto, y los cuales también han dedicado décadas de estudio serio al tema. Ahí están, por sólo citar un ejemplo de la larga lista, las publicaciones del Dr David Nutt, un neuro-psico-farmacólogo y psiquiatra británico, especialista en el estudio de los efectos de las drogas, las adicciones, la ansiedad, etc. Esta es una personalidad de alto perfil, conocida entre otras cosas por sus conflictos con el gobierno británico, dada la persistencia de este último en crear un sistema de clasificación de psicotrópicos que nada tenía que ver con lo que la evidencia reporta de su efecto. El alcohol es colocado como menos dañino, cuando toda la evidencia apunta a todo lo contrario. No es raro que el Dr Nutt sea de la opinión de que se trata de una lista políticamente motivada y no de algo científicamente justificado. Ahí están los artículos de este investigador en la prestigiosa revista médica The Lancet, donde propone un nuevo sistema de clasificación basado en cuanto a su riesgo para la salud y su potencial de abuso. Efectivamente, la cocaina, la heroina, las metaanfetaminas, pero también el alcohol y el tabaco están bien alto en la lista. A la marihuana se le reconoce que no es inocua, pero se le ubica en perspectiva. También hay evidencia seria sobre su uso médico, incluso en el trato de afecciones de orden psíquico. Todo esto tiene implicaciones serias a la hora del debate sobre la legalización. Que hacemos con estas y muchas otras evidencias al respecto? Las ignoramos porque no nos gustan o no coinciden con nuestras preferencias morales? Cuando la master Ortiz Quesada compara la legalización de la marihuana con la legalización de las violaciones está incurriendo, en mi opinión, en una falacia asociativa inexcusable, que de facto criminaliza a millones de personas. La evidencia sobre el daño psíquico y físico asociado a una violación es indiscutible. Se puede decir lo mismo de la cocaína, la heroína y el crack, pero no de la marihuana, aunque no nos guste. No pueden establecerse equidistancias tan tendenciosas en este tema. Por otro lado, la evidencia no necesariamente apoya la idea de que la delincuencia se disparará con la legalización. Es precisamente su carácter no-legal lo que atrae a montones de elementos inescrupulosos a traficar con este producto. Un régimen de legalidad asociado a fuertes regulaciones públicas, pago de impuestos y normas de calidad difícilmente sea una ayuda para los traficantes ilegales. Recordemos que fue precisamente la ilegalización del alcohol en los Estados Unidos la que disparó el tráfico y el crimen organizado en ciudades como Chicago. Figuras como Al Capone encontraron su razón de ser en esta era. De momento, todo el que se tomaba un traguito estaba violando la ley, y la vida demostró su incoherencia (a pesar de lo dañino del alcohol). Es precisamente la necesidad de evitar la estigmatización y criminalización de millones innecesariamente lo que está estimulando el debate sobre la legalización del uso de la marihuana. Tratar de ingenuos a los que lo favorecen (aún cuando se apoyan en evidencias serias y sistemáticas) denota una preferencia moral, pero no es suficiente como argumento científico.
Jorge – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 8:04:13 CDT
Buenos días ante todo. Desconozco si la Dra. Ortiz Quesada leerá estos comentarios, pero no quiero desaprovechar la oportunidad de hacer saber que su programa es uno de los mejores de ese corte que he visto alguna vez en la TV, que para mi lo prepara y conduce excelentemente y más que felicitarla (que también lo hago) quisiera agradecerle por tan buen trabajo.
jpuentes – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 9:04:10 CDT
María Esther, la voz mas dulce y hermosa de todo el universo televisivo cubano. Si algun dia pudiera conocerla….
jpuentes – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 10:01:38 CDT
Excelente disertación de Andrés. No obstante quisiera comentar que este tema en cuestión, por menos que no se quiera, tiene una arista politica. Y que está sujeto a irse de control y acabar siendo un fenomeno social. Algo que hace algunos años era tabú y ahora viene a hacer como una revelación cientifica, viene a ser de cuidado, poniendolo en perspectiva, desde el angulo social y cultural. No se trata de politizar una “revelación cientifica” es que ya viene politizado, porque le toca, digo yo. Todo descubrimiento cientifico tiene un costo politico y social y esta en particular, su costo es de alto nivel. Sin embargo es bueno escuchar opiniones relativas, pero debemos ponerla en contexto.
Carlos Gutiérrez – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 11:37:52 CDT
Me sumo a los elogios a la Doctora Ortiz, PERO NO ESTOY DE ACUERDO CON LO QUE DICE EN ESTE ARTÍCULO. Estoy convencido que el alcohol es mucho más dañino que la marihuana y sin embargo es una industria floreciente.
jpuentes – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 13:28:02 CDT
Este articulo es un llamado a la cordura mediatica y cientifica: Los productores de Coca dicen que la Coca es “buena”. Los productores de chocolate blanco, dicen que el chocolate negro es dañino. Ahora los medios estan diciendo que el sexo en la tercera edad es malo, cuando hasta hace poco se decia que era “importante”. Se dice que hay bebidas aloholicas que son buenas para el corazón. Incluso se dice que el Wishkey, la Ginebra y el Vocka, el vino son buenos para la hipertensión y que el ron y el brandy no lo son. Cual es la diferencia…?. Que la musica de Mozart es buena para lograr un CI alto, que el tabaco Cohiba no te dá cancer de pulmones, en fin…Miren que comparar bebida alcoholicas con mariguana… a proposito: ahora las bebidas alcoholicas no se les llama así. Ahora son “espirituosas”. Vaya que para vender si que nos las arreglamos bien con los medios…
Lolo – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 13:58:28 CDT
Estimado Andres, creo que todos los que estan de acuerdo con la legalizacion de la marihuana o reciben beneficios economicos de esta, o son consumidores de la misma o nunca han tenido un hermano, un padre o un hijo que ha perdido la vida psicosocial o natural por esta causa y es hoy un vegetal o un ser totalmente despreciable que lo perdio todo en la vida o es comida para gusanos, la vida es algo mas que ser un adicto, un preso a un producto toxico que nos presenta un mundo que no es real y que para conseguir la felicidad o el placer nos conduce desde acciones violentas hasta suicidas que no solo afectan al individuo sino a la familia y la sociedad que le rodea, he visto jóvenes talentosos, con una vida buena por vivir que lo han perdido TODO por probar algo nuevo. En Uruguay legalizaron el consumo de la marihuana sin embargo este ha traido todos los efectos menos los deseados al punto de suspender la legalizacion por un tiempo indefinido hasta analizar otra vez la propuesta que hasta ahora ha sido un error en la practica, Cuidense de las sustancias toxica, no sean esclavos de un mal evitable. Se imagina que su hijo sea uno de los que esta dentro del 9% que usted dice terminan en adictos y esta adicción acabe con su vida y todo haya comenzado por un cómprala y consumamos de ella total es legal, algo nuevo y no todos se vuelven adictos y seguro que a mi no me va a tocar y la controlo, eso es como no usar condón, total a mi no me toca el sida. Abajo las drogas, legales o no, estas le quitan al hombre su parte de ser racional y las vuelve bestias sedientas de algo que nunca van a satisfacer o alcanzar. Soy joven, tengo un bebe de meses y nunca desearía que mi hijo viviera en un país donde las drogas se sirvan como alimentos o medicina y estén en el mismo estante que estas, no crees Andres, no veo ni un solo beneficio de legalizarlas, admiro a nuestro país por su seria política respecto a las drogas, mira que pasa en México, Colombia y veras el verdadero rostro de las drogas. Por cierto soy joven, 23 años, nunca nadie me prohibió el consumo de nada, solo que mi madre y mi familia desde muy pequeño me enseñaron que eran las drogas (me hablaron claro) y sus efectos-beneficios y yo decidí que opción era la mas inteligente y beneficiosa para mi, por suerte hoy no consumo ninguna sustancia nociva y vivo muy feliz y disfruto la vida a plenitud, miren a su alrededor y veran lo bella que es la vida y las miles de opciones para disfrutarla con nuestros amigos, familiares o pareja. Mi mayor apoyo a la doctora y a todos los que luchan contra este demonio, Saludos, alguien que abrió los ojos.
Luis Alberto Balcázar Bravo – 12 de Septiembre del 2016 19:44:38 CDT
He llegado a este artículo sin buscarlo, no era lo que investigaba, indagaba sobre la juventud, así llegue al diario de la Juventud Cubana y a este categórico artículo. Por la atosigante propagación que hoy se le da a esto de que la mariguana debe ser legalizada y despenalizada me ubicaba en el montón de que así debía ser. Dra. Acaba de convencerme con su sencillo pero contundente artículo de cruzarme a la otra vereda, y es que, solo hay que mirar con el rabito del ojo como decimos en nuestro país, para darnos cuenta de la realidad de cómo esta maldita plaga propagada por los carteles y apadrinadas por los malos políticos gobernantes las están diseminando por entre nuestros jóvenes, para dejarlos atrapados en ese oscuro hoyo sin salida. Al final del día eso es lo que persiguen, una sociedad convulsionada y una juventud sin reacción. Muchas Gracias.
Andrés – 13 de Septiembre del 2016 1:20:55 CDT
Ciertamente amigo jpuentes, hay una carga ideológica fuerte en todo el debate. Y es por eso importante que toda la evidencia se considere de modo crítico. Lolo: respeto tus convicciones y te invito a que revises la evidencia que existe al respecto. Muchas de las cosas que mencionas no están asociadas a la marihuana, sino a la cocaína, a la heroína y otras drogas realmente destructivas, como el alcohol. No se puede echar a todas en un saco como si fueran lo mismo, pues no lo son. Es cierto que la marihuana no es inocua (lo cual ha quedado claro en mi comentario de arriba), pero tampoco lo son el alcohol y el tabaco. Y sin embargo, la vida prueba que, a pesar de tener un impacto abrumadoramente más letal que la marihuana, el uso y abuso de estos productos está mucho más controlado de forma legal. Se trata sobre todo de hacer un análisis más diferenciado de todos estos asuntos. Por otro lado, la evidencia sobre el uso médico de la marihuana está allí, y si se conoce menos es porque la postura oficial de muchas naciones ha optado por la narrativa de la criminalización, y por ignorar todos los estudios al respecto. La evidencia, sin embargo, es abundantísima y no tiene nada que ver con pseudo-ciencia, sino de numerosos y prestigiosos investigadores que han dedicado décadas de estudio al asunto, y cuyos resultados han sido registrados en publicaciones de alto nivel. También hay estudios publicados en nuestra Revista Cubana de Farmacia, hecha por investigadores muy serios y rigurosos. Ignorar todo esto porque sencillamente no nos gusta es como cruzar la calle con los ojos cerrados Lolo. Por otro lado, casi todos los gobiernos del mundo han comisionado estudios sobre el tema, y los resultados no siempre han sido lo que han deseado. Muchos de ellos, a pesar de mantener el estatus ilegal de la marihuana, han comenzado a lidiar muy tranquilamente con el problema de forma más flexible y pragmática. Se dan cuenta que de lo contrario estarían criminalizando a muchísima gente normal por ninguna buena causa: gente que pagan impuestos, que cumplen sus deberes sociales, que respetan la ley, que cuidan de sus familias, que trabajan en la comunidad, etc. Esto sería muy lamentable desde el punto de vista social y político. Desde el principio de la revolución se dijo que Cuba tenía que ser necesariamente un país de hombres y mujeres de ciencia. Eso no se refiere exclusivamente a que nos vayamos todos a un laboratorio a ver microscopios, sino que además nos invita, como sociedad, a que adoptemos una postura racional ante cualquier conflicto o problemática que se nos presente. Y ese principio es una de las cosas que más orgullo me hace sentir de mi tierra. No somos una manada de fanáticos decidiendo de acuerdo a la bilis, sino que leemos, investigamos y tomamos decisiones con la mente en frío, de acuerdo a la evidencia, y sin claudicar a nuestros principios por ello. Si los líderes de la revolución cubana no hubieran obrado de ese modo, entonces no habrían sobrevivido. Ni ellos ni el proyecto social cubano. Mi pregunta, Lolo, es la siguiente: ¿desde cuando nos convertimos en un país que piensa con la bilis? Nosotros no somos eso. Razonemos. El asunto de Uruguay no prueba nada respecto al impacto de la marihuana. Por supuesto que va a ser una ley complicada que se tendrá que someter a montones de correcciones y entuertos. Existe resistencia ideológica en muchos sectores y esto trae polémica. Pero eso es parte de la normalidad de los debates sociales Lolo, sobretodo cuando se trata de cuestiones nuevas o controvertidas como esta de la marihuana. ¿Cuántas iniciativas y proyectos no han tenido que posponerse en nuestro país para someterlos a mejor análisis e implementación? ¿Significa eso que el objeto central del proyecto es fallido o inconsistente? Para nada. Las decisiones sociales y políticas llevan debate. Hay que llevar este asunto al público, analizar todas sus aristas, investigar el origen de nuestras percepciones, valorar las ideas distintas (siempre que estén basadas en estudios serios), etc. En el caso de la marihuana, hay otros lugares más allá del Uruguay donde su legalización (o al menos su decriminalización) funciona perfectamente. Si queremos ignorarlo es cosa nuestra. Lolo: he visto vidas destruidas por las drogas. Desde las ilegales fuertes hasta las legales. He visto a muchos, muchos, perder su vida por el alcohol, o por el hábito de fumar también. Creo que en el particular todos hemos visto lo suficiente como para saber con el demonio que estamos lidiando. Sería una tontería absoluta negar la excelente labor de la master Ortiz Quesada, pues todo el que esté en ese 9% va a necesitar de gente como ella (creo que eso también quedó claro en el comentario anterior). De la misma forma que ocurre con alcohólicos y fumadores de tabaco. Además, tengo una hija de seis años que adoro, y a la que espero dejar un mundo mejor que el que encontré. Créeme, que lo que digo no viene ligeramente, ni inconscientemente. Ahora, esa lucha debe hacerse desde el conocimiento y no desde la veleidad ideológica. En el pasado quemaron gente porque creían que eran culpables de las malas cosechas o de las epidemias, y eso nunca resolvió nada, a pesar de la determinación mostrada por los inquisidores. Poner nuestras preferencias morales por encima de la evidencia nos ha llevado a estigmatizar a la gente por el largo del pelo, por el color de la piel, por el género, por la inclinación sexual, etc. El mundo no va por buen camino cuando se ignora la evidencia científica amigo. Ese no es el mundo que deseo para mi hija; definitivamente no. Lo que es inequívocamente malo debe ser prohibido y combatido. Pero lo que es malo no puede sólo definirse a partir de nuestras preferencias ideológicas.
By Darilys Reyes Sánchez and Zulariam Pérez Martí
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the most sensitive epicenter remain the victims: those whose missing persons, lost homes or property will not be returned. / Photo: Sputniknews
A 50.21 percent of Colombian voters marked their ballot against what the world expected. The issue has had several interpretations, not all of them accurate.
When Colombians went to the polls on Sunday, they did it to show their position on the agreement –that is: the terms, concepts, dispositions, and benefits– not on its greater purpose: peace. Although it sounds contradictory for those who watched the process from outside, those who voted agree on the desire to bring to a close five decades of armed conflict; but they do share options on how to do it.
“YES TO PEACE, BUT NOT TO THIS ONE” [#SiALaPazPeroEstaNo], became the trends in social networks before, during, and after the vote. To disagreements, mistrust was added: “The president cannot say the war is over, the kidnappings are over, insecurity is over, and Colombia is a magical country,” argued supporters of the NO. In the midst of this argument are the years of family misfortunes, deaths, kidnappings, and deep lacerations, on either side.
The results of the referendum showed internal division. Or what we think is worse: over 60 percent of the population abstained from voting on a matter of the highest relevance and priority for the country.
As explained to the 5 de Septiembre website, by Andrei Gómez-Suárez, a political scientist at the University of the Andes: “Colombia is an abstention-inclined country. The participation of Colombian society is felt in the presidential elections (…), but even in such elections, abstention levels remain above 40 percent. In atypical elections, such as the referendum, where there is no buying or fiddling with the votes, those who vote are new voters or sectors thoroughly involved with the democratic process.”
One of the recurring questions among Cuban public opinion is why the need for the plebiscite, if days before the agreement had been signed in the presence of senior leaders of the world. Clearly it was a democratic gesture, but it did not seem to change the course of events.
“It was a reasonable decision to measure to what extent the parties could count on public support for the implementation of many complex reforms that impact the countryside, crime, political participation, reparations for the victims, and investigations into those most responsible for international crimes,” said Gómez-Suárez.
Advocates of the NO argued that “they called on presidents all around the world to sign an agreement that Colombians were still studying; Why not do so once they had the certainty? Now everyone says that Colombians want to live in war, but there is nothing further from the truth.”
As never before, the Vatican, the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the European Union, the OAS and all governments in the region supported the process. However, the final agreement is profoundly difficult to understand in a few weeks (297 pages).
“The problem was in the short times for the countersignature, says the political scientist. It was too short a time for explaining and teaching (…) In the last week the government and the FARC signed the Final Agreement in Cartagena and that was read by many Colombians as a confirmation of the YES. Many voted for the NO to express discontent.”
The logic behind the NO describes their points: “the FARC will not return the money they accumulated illegally in these years”; “only the State will repay damages to the victims”; “justice loses autonomy”; “war criminals will not go to jail “;”the agreement does not penalize drug trafficking “;” the FARC are not governed by International Humanitarian Law (IHL)”;” there is no guarantee for total disarmament “;” it weakens the Constitution … “.
Given the complexity of the negotiations, the government of Juan Manuel Santos claimed they had reached the best possible deal after four years of talks. According to the International Criminal Court, this satisfies the demands of justice. Only under these terms, and after three failed attempts in the last 30 years, did the FARC guerrillas agree to demobilize, surrender their weapons, and submit to transitional justice.
The new scenario returns former President Alvaro Uribe, defender of the NO who was until now excluded from the dialogue table, to center stage. Thus, each side equates representatives, being now the binomial Uribe-Santos the mediatic face of the conflict.
“Santos is a rational ruler; he seeks to convince of his public policy with arguments from a technical approach. Uribe does not care to be accurate; he uses colloquialisms and repeats several times the same phrases so his listeners get the message. While Uribe was exposed to the public, Santos delegated the issue to the negotiating team and civil society. It was a wise decision, but lacked finding some great emotional translators for the agreements; he stayed with the explanations of the negotiating team. This team could not counter Uribe emotionally,”Gómez-Suárez said to this newspaper.
In the most sensitive epicenter remain the victims: those whose missing persons, lost homes or property will not be returned. Still, many backed the YES with the aim of ending a conflict that has claimed about 267,000 lives in five decades.
For now, the future path for Colombia seems difficult to predict: “There is much uncertainty, says Gómez-Suárez. They are two parallel and complementary situations. On the one hand, a meeting between President Santos and former President Uribe will take place. This meeting should lead to a meeting with Timochenko. (…) This meeting will be essential for the parties to commit themselves to make the implementation of the agreements viable.
“On the other hand, civil society is promoting actions on the streets to support a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. Youth and social organizations are seeking to involve those who voted YES and NO to make a silent march for peace. No political posturing. If the political pact does not allow endorsing the agreements, social mobilization almost certainly will trigger the realization of a Constituent Assembly. “
From inside, reality could be much more diverse than what is reflected in the media; only Colombians understand it in all its magnitude. Perhaps they failed in this political consensus because the deal was agreed upon bilaterally and civil society got involved late in its implementation. So after the NO in Colombia another lesson emerges, and it shows that the process comprises more than two parties, more than two visions on a universal right: peace.
Andrei Gómez-Suárez, Ph.D. International Relations, Master in War Studies and Contemporary Peace. He specializes on Armed Conflict Resolution. He is a Political Scientist at the University of the Andes. / Photo: Internet
Por Authors Name Here
By Felipa de las Mercedes Suarez
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Posted on September 25, 2016 • 16:40 by Felipa de las Mercedes Suarez Ramos.
Great affection, admiration, sorrow and respect, make up the amalgam of feelings that the face of Dr. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada reflects while speaking of Gerardo Abreu, the unforgettable Fontán, his leader in the underground struggle against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista.
His personality came to Alarcón clad in a legend because “they all spoke of a so-called Fontán who was a great organizer, a great leader. I imagined him as a tall, strong guy, someone generally described as a “big man”, hence the impression I got when I first met him; he was rather short, black, slim, soft-spoken, very polite, refined and serious, a man of few words who gave the orders very firmly, but gently; a curious character, despite his youth.“
Alarcón was active in the Youth and Students Brigades of the 26 of July Movement, the organization initiated by Antonio López Fernández in 1955. In October the following year, when he left for Mexico to join the preparations for the Granma expedition, he gave his deputy, Fontán, the responsibility of the brigades located in the city of Havana.
“Gerardo, born in a poor neighborhood in the city of Santa Clara on September 24, 1931, began to work from very young in anything; his best known job was as reciter of Afro-Cuban poetry, which he did very well. Despite his very basic level of education, merely fourth grade, he became an educated person with a great sensitivity; he liked poetry, literature… He was not the kind of person I had imagined.“
An Unsurpassed Organizer
“It has always been said –and it must be repeated– that he had a tremendous ability as an organizer, his dedication to the struggle and work. We are not referring to a person leading an organization with resources, who had cars at his disposal … He moved on foot or by bus, those were his means of transport. That’s how they caught him on Infanta Street.”
In connection with Fontán´s organizational capacity, our interviewee points out two crucial and revealing moments, one was in November 1957 when the famous night of the 100 bombs –actually small artifacts that caused no victims– that exploded in many neighborhoods of Havana after the traditional Cannon shot at 9 pm, which caused policemen and patrol cars to move frantically from one place to another.
“The other was on February 7, 1958. He had been arrested and we were convinced that they would kill him quickly: first, by the fierce hatred that the henchmen of the regime felt for him, and second, because he would not say absolutely anything. No one had the slightest doubt that he would not talk; he didn’t even give his own address or his name.”
“They knew that a guy known as Fontán led the strongest organization, the Youth and Student Movement Brigades of the 26 of July Movement in terms of organization and number of members within the whole kaleidoscope of existing revolutionary forces. We tried to make sure his arrest became known in an attempt to save him.”
Havana’s Student Response
“At that time there were constitutional guarantees, but Batista suspended them due to the student strike that the death of Fontán generated: a tremendous movement that started spontaneously. As soon as the news spread, students began to protest in several centers. After that it became organized and the Federation of Students of Secondary Education called for a strike that was already underway. This lasted for three months and two ministers lost their posts.”
He describes the paralizing of all student centers in the capital: centers of Secondary Education, the schools of Teacher Training, Commerce and Arts and Crafts; private universities like Villanueva, La Salle and the Masonic; as well as private academies, whether religious or not.
“All of them, without exception, went on strike, and it did not start because the leaders, the organizers planned it; but because people desperately tried to save him. The next day his mangled corpse was found, next to the Palace of Justice. They did horrible things to him that it’s better not to describe.”
Alarcón notes that the best proof that he said nothing is that “we are alive, because he knew where I was; also where the heads of neighborhood brigades were and others, because although for many Fontán was a legend, he knew practically everyone because he organized them step by step, neighborhood by neighborhood. Something really impressive.”
“So he was the undisputed leader of the most advanced members of that generation of youth, many of them white, supposedly more educated than he; but nobody ever questioned his leadership. He was the one who knew best, the most intelligent and educated; really a very curious phenomenon, because in such a society, people like him were doomed to misery, to the worst.”
“Gerardo was like an exception, a miracle to which no youth of his social status could aspire. I don’t think anyone has an explanation for this mystery, because he was not dragged down by the vices and phenomena that harmed a lot of people at that time.”
“There is also something that has been said about him and we should not tire of repeating: his integrity, his morals. He taught us absolute austerity, and did so with his personal example. He was incapable of using a single penny of the Movement not even to eat. He could go hungry, but the funds he had raised –by selling bonds and other ways– were untouchable, and he educated us in that spirit.”
“I think a lot about El Negro [as friends called Gerardo] at that time, when there is so much talk about certain phenomena in Cuban society, and I wonder what he would think, because in that Cuba of widespread corruption, selfishness, lack of solidarity, Gerardo was exactly a master of the opposite, not a teacher who gave you heavy spiels but because we saw how he lived, how he went around walking or by bus. It was like that all the time.”
“He was impressively austere, and had a peculiar sense of leadership.. I think none of us who knew him ever questioned his authority, and we are talking about a Cuba where racial discrimination was very strong. When he gave orders he did so with few words, very concretely, and you perceived that he knew things better than you did, that he really knew what to do, and also he spoke very gently, very serenely.”
“In Cuban society at that time, where frustration and disappointment predominated, you needed to cling dearly to the moral and spiritual values, and to the idea that there could be another world, another life, an alternative.”
“And Fontán embodied that, because he was simply the best example, who came from deep down, from the lowest ranks of Cuban society, doomed to be a failure in life, as were all the poor people of this country. The fact that he lifted himself up and became an example to all was a feat.”
“I think that was largely due to himself, who, had he not been murdered, would have become one of the main political leaders of the Revolution. Surely one of the most valuable intellectuals, because he had an artist´s vocation, but his greatest work was his own life, extracting himself out of that very hostile environment to become an example that we could hopefully reproduce in our society, because it is what we need most.”
By Ricardo Alarcón
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On Monday, September 12, at 96 years of age, Stanley K. Sheinbaum died in his California home. I want to add these lines to the tribute that he will surely receive from many everywhere. Despite his advanced age and ill health his friends will never find comfort for his departure. Because Stanley belongs to the category of those Bertolt Brecht called the essential who struggle all their lives.
From his New York childhood during the Great Depression until the era of the global dominance of US plutocracy he walked a long path that led him not only to travel across his country but also to know the rest of the world. He learned to be interested, as were few of his countrymen, in the conflicts and problems of others and to get involved and take sides, “trying to create a little peace and justice in this unjust world” as he wrote in his memoirs published five years ago (A 20th Century Knight’s Quest for Peace, Civil Liberties and Economic Justice).
He discovered in 1959 that the program he led at Michigan State University was a covert CIA activity, and became the first person who publicly denounced the illegal actions of the CIA inside the United States.
In the 1960s he articulated the campaign for the release of Andreas Papandreou, imprisoned by the military junta in Greece. He led the movement for raising the necessary funds for the defense of Daniel Elsberg, arrested in 1971 for revealing the so-called Pentagon Papers on the aggression to Viet Nam. This was an iconic fight with the outstanding participation of Leonard Boudin and his disciple the young Leonard Weinglass, both brilliant human rights and civil liberties activists. If it were not for Stanley, according to Ellsberg, “the trial would have been over, Nixon would have remained until the end of his term and the war would have continued.”
He promoted the work of the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California to end racial segregation in schools and to combat the repressive methods of the LAPD as he led efforts against the apartheid regime of South Africa.
1988 he organized a group of American Jewish leaders who, on 6 December, met with Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, Sweden to start a process towards mutual understanding and peace in Palestine. The gesture won him many enemies. “For a while I was the most hated Jew in America … by other Jews” he wrote in his Autobiography.
He took a courageous stand in confronting police brutality and the Rodney King beating. He did so from his position on the Los Angeles Police Commission of the LAPD and on the streets of the city. “He was” –in the words of Afro-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters– “an extraordinary human being.”
He also addressed Cuba. He visited us here and we kept communication at a distance to the end. He opposed the blockade, fought for the normalization of relations, and was decisive in the battle for the liberation of our Five antiterrorists whose situation he helped publicize in the United States. What was announced on December 17, 2014, was also the result of his solidarity commitment that had rarely reached the major media headlines.
At the end of his life he could say: “I’m still interested; I still get involved; I still believe that tomorrow will be better. And so, I’m still very optimistic. If I have learned something over the years it is that it is not so important whether or not we win the battles. What is really important is that we continue waging the battles for justice, for equality, for fairness. “
Stanley keeps riding on.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily Por Esto! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
We live in a world with all provisions set for the benefit of the owners of money: from electoral procedures and government structures to the smallest details of public and private relations. Everything has been oriented to the buying and selling mechanisms so they favor the owning classes who have the wealth.
In Latin America, not even Cuba –with its socialist revolution but also heir to countless of the methods, traditions and practices of capitalism– escapes this global reality. Except that in Cuba, by virtue of the deep socialist revolution that began half a century ago, the role previously held by the dominant wealthy classes is now exercised by society as a whole.
In the case of Cuba, a political organization –based on the most advanced revolutionary doctrine humanity has produced: Marxism– as society’s vanguard, protects its unity and ensures the legitimacy of truly democratic relations in all areas of society.
If we fail to consider that the mechanisms which freed Cuba from the evils of capitalism are still being created, tested, or waiting to be instituted to serve a social system that is also in the process of emerging fully, we are at risk of making serious mistakes. The Cuban revolution is not a copy of any other and, like other models that proclaim themselves Socialist, Cuba to find its own way.
Globally, journalism has become –for a long time now– an essential element of power, along with the three classic powers of the State (legislative, executive and judicial). Hence the media is often identified as the fourth power.
With this as its starting point, the ruling classes have succeeded in making the mainstream media (in print, radio, television and, more recently the Internet) a commodity and a tool aimed at convincing people and promoting compliance with capitalist ideas. They have done this with such effectiveness that they have succeeded in imposing their media dictatorship worldwide.
Advertising has become the lawful resource for those with money to defray cost of operating the media and thus controling it or exercise influence over its content proportional to the potential of their own economic and political interests.
Historically, big capitalists have not been satisfied with the ascendency they can get through their ads and have moved to partial or wholly ownership of the media, often using more or less publicly-identifiable fronts.
The ideological domination of oligarchies in Latin America –who often act as figureheads for the hegemonic domination of large US corporations– has been acquiring such a high level on the continent that no one doubts that a social revolution is not feasible without destroying the counterrevolutionary control of the media.
Confirmation of this conception is the fact that today in Latin America, the media under control of the ruling classes are playing the role that, in the last century, was played by the Latin American military hierarchy. The military carried out the coups –promoted by the United States– which plunged the region into the most nefarious situation of inequality, crime and misery.
However, according to recent experiences in the hemisphere, we could say that a coup may occur with the military or without it, with parliament or without it, with the media or without it, but always with the financial resources that move the wheels.
Although the laws of technological development tend to make the media increasingly social, the owners of capital have managed to always put communications and the media in a place outside the control of centers of democratic power. Thus, they facilitate their control by the owners of financial resources: the capitalists.
The Cuban experience –with its virtues and its many flaws that today are hotly debated by journalists in the island– shows that the social ownership of communications and the media with the widest popular participation, in a society with social ownership of the major means of production and distribution, opens the possibility of the use and effective enjoyment of these media by the majority… and safeguards it from the insatiable greed of capital.
Other mechanisms could be valid, but are yet to be tested and confirmed by practice.
September 19, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On September 11th, the anniversaries of multiple misdeeds by the US government in recent years coincide.
On that date in 1973, the coup d’état against the constitutional government of Salvador Allende in Chile took place. It was organized, financed and led by the Pentagon and the CIA, in a conspiracy with the worst elements of the Chilean armed forces.
Between that fateful day and March 1990, Chile lived under a horrible dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006), who led the coup against Allende’s legitimate government and headed the military junta that ruled the country. Pinochet was proclaimed president of the republic in 1974 and, in 1981, was confirmed in that position by the pseudo-constitution designed by the tyrant.
In 1988, after being defeated in a plebiscite, Pinochet announced he would retain the presidency until 1990. Although the 1989 elections forced him to give up the presidecy, the dictator remained as supreme commander of the army. In 1998 a warrant was issued for him by Spain’s judicial system for his crimes.
Between 1973 and 1990, human rights in Chile were systematically violated by the fascist military dictatorship, with the support of the country’s upper classes. Repression included arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, imprisonments, killings, forced disappearances, exile and clandestine cemeteries. Torture was both physical and psychological. The used electric shocks, sexual violence, beatings, drugs, burns, waterboarding, and even the rape of women by trained dogs.
Between 1973 and 1975 there were some 42,500 political arrests. In addition, there were 12,100 individual arrests and 26,400 mass arrests between 1976 and 1988. Then there were more than 4000 harassment and intimidation situations between 1977 and 1988 with a balance of a thousand missing prisoners and 2100 assassinated for political reasons.
Some 3200 people died or disappeared between 1973 and 1990 in the hands of repressive state agents. Of these, about eleven 1100 people are considered missing apart from the above-mentioned 2100 dead.
On September 11, 1980, in New York City, Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia, accredited to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, was gunned down in the street by a member of a group of Cuban exiles organized, financed and directed by the CIA. The Cuban diplomat became the first foreign representative accredited to the United Nations to be killed in the United States.
According to an FBI report, hours after the crime, the Cuban-born counterrevolutionary gunman Pedro Remon made a call to New York media and took responsibility for the murder on behalf of “Omega 7”, one of the Cuban exile terrorist organizations operating in the United States under the umbrella of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Despite his long terrorist record, the murderer was not taken to trial until the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, the Cuban UN mission, its officers and families remained systematically harassed.
But for the US people the most painful September 11th was the one of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. It left a balance of about three thousand deaths, including firefighters and other participants in the immediate rescue, who were affected by the toxic gases.
The definition of this act remains pending, given the inappropriateness of classifying the action as a classic terrorist attack due to the abundance of evidence suggesting it could have been an act of official self-aggression.
Evidence refuting the official version that was presented and used to justify the passage of USA PATRIOT Act is unquestionable. The PATRIOT Act has been seen as a state terrorism project derived from the attack which has brought horrible consequences worldwide reaching to the present.
Finally, as Néstor García Iturbe, A Cuban journalist and expert in the fight against terrorism, has rightly pointed out, the US government seemed interested in linking the date of September 11th with ignominious acts, President Barack Obama chose that very day, in 2015, to renew the inclusion of Cuba in the list of nations it sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act –enacted by Washington in 1917– to punish countries whose relations are incompatible with US foreign policy. This absurd list today has a single member in the whole world: Cuba.
August 27, 2016.
This is a 14 inch x 11 inch book of black and white photographs, printed in relatively high resolution half tone fashion on one side only (other side is blank) on somewhat glossy, relatively robust, relatively archival paper. To be sure, the paper at this time (August 2016) is getting just slightly brittle toward the edges, and is very slightly yellowing around the edges as well.
There is no initial page informing when this was printed, or who printed it. There is also no table of contents, and indeed the pages do not bear any numbering. Our clues about it consist of the fact that none of the photos date from later than 1918, and it is in both Russian and in English. And the fact that V. Volodarsky is noted as having been assassinated in Petrograd in July of 1918
From this our consultants at the Riazanov Library digital archive project (John Holmes and Tim Davenport) speculate that it was printed in late 1918 or 1919 by either the Communist Party of America (CPA) or the Communist Labor Party (CLP) Russian Federation. After 1919 these would have been driven underground and would not have had the resources to print something like this.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily Por Esto! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Humanity has lost all hope that the end of the Cold War would open the way to a world without wars. A galloping race along the paths of neoliberal globalization has turned imperialism into the dark reality it is today: the mightiest, most brutal and ruthless hegemonic superpower in the history of humanity, bearer of the greatest dangers to the survival of our species.
Seventy years ago, humanity placed its hopes in the United Nations to be the promoter and guarantor of world peace. At the Millennium Summit, the states represented there solemnly announced their decision to establish a just and lasting peace, worldwide, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.
Yet, only two and a half years after this oath, the aggression against Iraq was perpetrated. This was not only against the opinion of the peoples of the world, but, despite the express opposition of the overwhelming majority of governments comprising the international community. The Security Council was ignored and later on suffered the humiliation of docilely accepting a war of pillage which the majority of its members had previously opposed.
The precarious balance of forces of the bipolar world we lived in after World War II prevented US imperialism from imposing its absolute hegemony worldwide based on the nuclear blackmail that the US began after its genocidal bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The unipolar world that resulted after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, with a single superpower imposing its selfish interests on the rest of the planet, starkly confirmed the predatory nature of the prevailing capitalist order and the vital need for its replacement by a new, just, and humane order.
Neoliberal capitalism –with its proclamation of the market and not the human being as the measuring rod for the performance of society– has increased human misery, while neoliberal globalization has widened inequality universally.
A constant generator of crises, the capitalist order tries to ignore that it is the asymmetries that cause them, and always manages to pile their calamitous effects on the workers and humble people of the planet.
It grossly ignores the sovereignty of nations and imposes genocidal blockades with no other pretexts than its own will and the alleged interests of the superpower.
In order to control the energy resources of the planet, the capitalist rulers use –with absolute disregard for human intelligence– ridiculous pretexts such as the fight against drugs or terrorism or violations of human rights. They demonize those nations whose governments do not unconditionally submit to the imperial dictates of the superpower, through an extensive and intensive use of the mass media worldwide. Natural and human resources are irresponsibly exploited, deeply traumatizing future generations.
But what is most terrible is that it is common knowledge that, with the scientific and technical progress attained by human beings –capable of producing colossal wealth– many or all of the terrible problems that have three-quarters of humanity mired in poverty, could be solved if such progress were focused on development goals and the fair distribution of wealth,
Asymmetrical wars that overlook the principles, agreements and regulations of the United Nations continue to be waged. The richest and most powerful countries manipulate at will such principles as respect for human rights and individual freedoms enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international treaties.
In the decades of the 1970s and 80s of last century in Latin America the monstrous Operation Condor murdered, tortured, mutilated or disappeared a still unknown number –which runs into the hundreds of thousands– of progressive and independent-thinking people in almost all countries of the region. That infamous operation was organized and directed by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States through the military governments they imposed in many countries of the hemisphere or through recruited mercenary agents acting in nations where they had not been able to dismantle the entire democratic order.
It has been said many times that the people of the United States of America are the only ones who can perform the Herculean feat of bringing down the most powerful and murderous empire ever known to mankind.
The whole of humanity anxiously waits to see the people of the US take action. It will then offer them the solidarity they will deserve!
July 27, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily Por Esto! Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In any conflict between two, it is logical that the conclusion should produce a winner and a loser. Only three forms of postwar peace have always existed: the one imposed by the victor, humiliating for the vanquished; Pyrrhic peace in which to reach victory the winner has suffered many or more losses than the defeated; and peace determined by the inability of either party to achieve success after extreme suffering for both sides. The latter is the one that seems closer to become a reality in Colombia.
All humanity has received with joy the promise of peace in Colombia that was sealed with the agreements on ceasefire, deposition of weapons, security guarantees and other aspects signed on June 23 in Havana by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and Commander Timoleon Jimenez, Chief of Staff of the Colombian FARC-EP.
The senior leader of the guerrilla organization was adamant in his speech at the document signing ceremony saying that “neither the FARC nor the Colombian State are defeated forces and therefore the agreement cannot be understood by anyone as a result of any imposition of one party to the other.
“We have discussed at length and even got to alleys that seemed to be dead-ends. These could only be overcome thanks to the generous and effective intervention of the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway, and the opportunities and wise formulas suggested by the creativity of the spokespersons of both parties and their diligent advisers,” Jimenez said.
The armed conflict has already surpassed in its duration – more than half a century– than any other of this nature in the world. The FARC, that on 27 May last reached 52 years of existence, constitutes the largest and most representative guerrilla resistance organization in Colombia. Therefore this approach to peace has the virtual significance of an approach to the end of the war.
“It is true that there subsist other phenomena of violence and crime, as the ELN and criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking. But something we all need to understand is that this agreement reached with the FARC means ending the war with the largest and oldest guerrilla organization. This has a huge importance for the present and the future of Colombia,” said at the signature ceremony Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
This coming November 19 will mark four years since the start of the talks between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP in Havana. These talks had the difficult and ambitious task of bringing together two sides that have been in combat for over half a century.
Hardly anyone of good will doubted then that Cuba was the ideal setting for the meeting, given Havana’s well-earned diplomatic prestige as well as considering its history of courageous respect for the parties in dispute for the sake of solving several serious conflicts. This behavior led Pope Francisco to predict that Cuba could become the capital of world unity.
At the signing ceremony for the agreements, President Santos recalled that there are still important issues to agree on so that the final agreement could be signed in Colombia as soon as possible.
There have been critics of the talks who, among other deceptions, have tried to show that the FARC sought, through this process, to make politics while holding on to weapons.
On this issue, Commander Timoleon Jimenez, the revolutionary leader heading the signing guerrilla delegation, , stressed: “Of course the FARC makes politics, that is our reason for being, but we will make it by legal and peaceful means, with the same rights and guarantees as other parties.”
Meanwhile, the Colombian government will have to guarantee that no Colombian is persecuted for their ideas or political practices, and that once the final agreement is signed, the military war machine and the antiquated security doctrine will disappear.
At the solemn ceremony of signing the agreements, the revolutionary chief called the Colombian armed forces – which massively grew in the course of the war and were trained in counterinsurgency and special operations– to henceforth play an important role in the interest of peace, reconciliation and the country’s actions for development. “They were our opponents, but in the future we will have to be allied forces for the good of Colombia”.
July 2, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusivo para el diario POR ESTO! de Mérida, México.
En cualquier conflicto entre dos, lo lógico es que la conclusión produzca un vencedor y un vencido. Solamente tres formas de paz en las posguerras deben haber existido siempre: la impuesta por el vencedor, humillante para el vencido; la paz pírrica en la que el triunfador ha sufrido tantos o más quebrantos que el derrotado para alcanzar la victoria, y la paz determinada por la imposibilidad de que alguna de las partes logre el éxito luego de extremos sufrimientos por ambos contendientes. Esta última es la que parece próxima a hacerse realidad en Colombia.
La humanidad toda ha recibido con júbilo la promesa de paz en Colombia que se selló con los acuerdos sobre cese al fuego, dejación de las armas, garantías de seguridad y otros aspectos suscritos el reciente 23 de junio en La Habana por el Presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, y el Comandante Timoleón Jiménez, Jefe del Estado Mayor Central de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias-Ejército del Pueblo del propio país sudamericano.
El alto dirigente de la organización guerrillera fue categórico al afirmar en su discurso en la ceremonia de firma de los documentos que “ni las FARC ni el Estado colombiano son fuerzas vencidas y por ende lo pactado no puede entenderse por nadie como producto de alguna imposición de una de las partes a la otra. Largamente hemos discutido e incluso llegamos a callejones que parecían sin salida, que solo pudieron superarse gracias a la desinteresada y eficaz intervención de los países garantes, Cuba y Noruega, y las oportunidades y sabias fórmulas sugeridas por la creatividad de los voceros de ambas partes o sus acuciosos asesores”.
El conflicto armado ya ha superado por su duración de más de medio siglo a cualquiera otro de este carácter en el mundo. Las FARC, que el 27 de mayo último cumplieron 52 años de existencia, constituyen la mayor y más representativa organización de la resistencia guerrillera en Colombia, de ahí que esta aproximación a la paz tenga la
significación virtual de un acercamiento al final de la guerra. “Es cierto que subsisten otros fenómenos de violencia y delincuencia, como el ELN y las bandas criminales asociadas al narcotráfico. Pero algo que todos debemos comprender es que este acuerdo logrado con las FARC significa terminar la guerra con la organización guerrillera más grande y más antigua y tiene una importancia inmensa, inmensa para el presente y el futuro de Colombia”, declaró en el acto de la firma el Presidente colombiano Juan Manuel Santos.
El próximo 19 de noviembre se cumplirán cuatro años de la
constitución de la mesa de conversaciones entre el gobierno de Colombia y las FARC-EP en La Habana con la escabrosa y ambiciosa encomienda de acercar las dos partes en combate por más de medio siglo.
Casi nadie, de buena fe, puso en duda entonces que Cuba fuese el escenario idóneo para el encuentro, dado el bien ganado prestigio de la diplomacia de La Habana por su historial de valiente respeto a las partes en disputa en aras de la solución de diversos graves
conflictos, comportamiento que llevó al Papa Francisco a predecir que Cuba pudiera convertirse en la capital de la unidad mundial. En la ceremonia de firma de los acuerdos, el Presidente Santos recordó que aún quedan temas importantes por acordar para que el acuerdo final pueda ser suscrito en Colombia lo antes posible.
No han faltado detractores de las conversaciones quienes, entre otros engaños han pretendido hacer ver que las FARC buscaban, con este proceso, hacer política sin dejar las armas.
A ello se refirió el jefe de la delegación guerrillera firmante, Comandante Timoleón Jiménez, cuando puntualizó: “Claro que las FARC haremos política, esa es nuestra razón de ser, pero la haremos por medios legales y pacíficos, con los mismos derechos y garantías de los demás partidos”, puntualizó el líder revolucionario.
Por su parte, el Estado colombiano tendrá que hacer efectivo que a ningún colombiano se le persiga por razones de sus ideas o prácticas políticas y que una vez que sea firmado el acuerdo final desaparezca el dispositivo militar de guerra y su anticuada doctrina de seguridad. En la solemne ceremonia de la firma de los acuerdos el jefe
revolucionario llamó a que las fuerzas armadas colombianas, que fueron agigantadas en el transcurso de la guerra y adiestradas en
contrainsurgencia y acciones especiales a que, en lo adelante jueguen un importante papel en aras de la paz, la reconciliación y el desarrollo del país. “Ellas fueron nuestras adversarias pero en lo adelante tendremos que ser fuerzas aliadas por el bien de Colombia”.
Julio 2 de 2016.