By Iroel Sanchez, Cuban engineer and journalist. He works at the Office for the Informatization of Cuban Society. Former President of the Cuban Book Institute. On twitter @iroelsanchez
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
“Since Monday, more than 1,100 people arrested for the riots have been on trial…”
“At the rate of about 10 detainees per hour, the judges cannot cope. According to one of the lawyers, between 11:30 a.m. Monday and noon today, a hundred youths had already filed through the courts. The influx is such that several police vans full of defendants are queuing up in front of the courts, which do not have enough space in the building’s dungeons.”
Contrary to what the believing reader of the international mainstream press might think, the above are not reports on the trials, intensely and very critically covered by Western media, of people involved in the riots that occurred in Cuba on July 11 and 12 last year. I have taken them from the coverage by the same press of the events in London and other British cities in August 2011.
The events of 2011 in Great Britain occurred on a Sunday and already on Monday the trials were taking place, but the media I have quoted (El País) did not call them “summary”, despite deciding on the accused at the rate of “ten detainees per hour”. Using as evidence the recordings of TV cameras installed in the streets and expressions on social networks, only six minutes were enough on average to convict.
The Western media then did not question the procedure and never used the word repression, but rather applauded the repressive action against those who receive nothing from a democracy and a justice system that excludes them.
None of the voices that, from the U.S. government and some international agencies, are now raised against Cuba for trying people accused of acting violently, protested when ten years ago the young people of London, hit by unemployment and exclusion, were prosecuted and sentenced at the pace of a sausage factory.
Speaking of young people, not 18 years old, as the British press now cites a case in Cuba, but 11, 15, 16, half of those 1100 prosecuted at conga pace, according to a headline in El Pais, were minors. Unlike in Cuba, in Great Britain children over 10 years old can be prosecuted with criminal responsibility in case they have committed crimes such as theft, arson and violence, but the good guys of the Madrid newspaper wrote about it in positive terms by introducing the word SOLO “In the UK minors between 10 and 17 years old can only be prosecuted with criminal responsibility in case they have committed crimes such as theft, arson and violence”.
For its part, El Mundo. has collected some examples of young people involved in the protests taken from the British press, not to condemn that they were repressed, but to recommend “parental control over young people”, passing over the repression against those who called for the protest from networks such as Facebook and the use by the repressors of “rubber balls” (really rubber bullets), while qualifying as “alleged” the culpability of the police in the death that unleashed the riots, police that preempting the recommendations by Covid-19 only called bonhomously to “be at home”, nothing like a curfew. They call for parental control, but not a single parent of the defendants is interviewed, something the press can do when the trials take place across the ocean.
It is worth reading the whole dispatch because it is a real gem: how to describe repression without seeing it anywhere (the bold letters are from elmundo.es):
“The Metropolitan Police recommends not to leave home to the youngest and, through a local newspaper, has made “an appeal to parents and those responsible for young people to work together with the Police to ensure that the latter are not immersed in the kind of disorder that we have seen.”
“Riots sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, allegedly caused by local police, has landed an 11-year-old boy in jail, as Skynews reports, over the altercations in the capital.
“Strathclyde Police in Glasgow, Scotland, have arrested a 16-year-old boy for sending a Facebook message allegedly inciting disorderly conduct, reports the BBC. Police have said they will be keeping a close eye on social networking sites and will take what they call “decisive action” to prevent violence in the Strathclyde area by copycats.
“The person responsible for the link to ‘Let’s start a riot in Glasgow’, which is no longer available on the aforementioned social network, is due to appear in court tomorrow.
“In Folkestone, within the county of Kent where the prestigious University of Canterbury is located, two 18-year-olds have been arrested for spreading inflammatory messages via Facebook. In addition, a 16-year-old girl is being questioned in Glasgow for the same reason, reports the English newspaper BBC.
“Finally, police in Essex have arrested a 17-year-old boy after encouraging others via Facebook to gather in the county and take part in riots.
“Robbery, fire and police charges have also been seen in Manchester, where 70 to 80 youths have clashed with Police. In West Bromwich they are smashing windows. Meanwhile, in London, the 16,000 officers that Cameron has highlighted for the fourth day are getting ready. In the Islington neighborhood, the Islington gazette newspaper picks up a Police warning: “Be at home”.
“The reason, the rubber balls that will be taken out tonight against the youth mob. For this reason, in the same writing they recommend a parental control over young people, to keep them away from the street so that they are not immersed in the riots.”
But let’s talk about Cuba. Cuban press reports after July 11 listed one by one 44 stores assaulted and looted, which were not the only ones, information that none of those media objected to because it was useful for them to talk about the extent of the protests.
Images of several overturned police and civilian cars and Molotov cocktail throwing have also circulated profusely in the networks. Calculating in a very conservative way the number of people involved in some of these events, which undoubtedly can be described as violent anywhere in the world, there would be several hundred participants in them, but for the Western press all those tried in Cuba for these events are peaceful demonstrators (!).
A little context, memory and logical thinking, please, gentlemen who enlighten us in this so-called free journalism and this so-called rule of law.
(Taken from La Pupila insomne)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Watching the events of the last few weeks in Cuba, it is easy to see the degree of frustration that must be gripping the U.S. power circles. They jumped, belly-first and with enthusiasm, into the waterless pool in which they found the intensive deployment against the island of all the weapons of unconventional warfare. During the last two years these included: economic, media and psychological warfare, terrorism, cyberwarfare, diplomatic pressure….
Those who for more than a decade have woven and financed in Cuba a dense network of media aimed at the most diverse sectors of society, collaborators in foreign correspondents, agents of change in the world, together with other forms of articulation, journalism and academia, leadership training courses, so-called thinking events in the United States, Latin America and Europe…, along with other forms of articulation, have had to see, I imagine not without sadness, how the current U.S. administration has thrown overboard all their patient work.
Juan Gonzalez, advisor for the Western Hemisphere of the National Security Council, and Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, violated, in their constant references to Cuba, what Niccolo Machiavelli suggested in the Prince: Never confuse desire with reality. The result is plain to see: the public exposure of U.S. interference in Cuba, the disarticulation of a good part of its internal subversion machinery and the discrediting before the Cuban people of those who have participated in it.
If one reviews the cable from the then-U.S. Interests Section in Havana, dated April 15, 2009, where its chief, Jonathan Farrar, described the failure of the traditional counterrevolution and suggests working with new actors such as bloggers, rappers and young visual artists, it is not difficult to understand how much the empire has lost in November 2021 in Cuba: at least 12 years of work!
But it is not triumphalism that should guide the work of Cuban revolutionaries after this 21st century Bay of Pigs. Washington lacks the humility to self-criticize its failures. Biden, even though he belongs to the same party, is not Kennedy, who had the courage to say to the mercenaries exchanged for compotes, when receiving them in a Miami stadium: “Victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan”. Kennedy even attempted a secret rapprochement with Cuba that many believe is part of what cost him his life. And after the imperialist defeat at Playa Giron came the arch-terrorist Mongoose Plan, led at pencil point by the president’s brother, Robert Kennedy. Sobering, both Kennedy’s, John and Robert, were executed, not by the communism they fought so hard against, but by “lone assassins”, whose strings lead to the establishment they tried so hard to reform.
This time the decisive thing, again, has not been what our enemies have done, but what we have done. The key has been in the return to the people as the key factor, not only in processes such as the intervention of reality through the transformation of neighborhoods where numerous problems have accumulated. The key has been timely information about the war being waged against us, its characteristics and modes of operation. The latter -a missing element in our communicational work in previous years- assuming that a people capable of organizing itself in arms to defend its Revolution cannot be massively taught the weapons of the new war. We also underestimated the importance of broadly and deeply preparing all sectors of society for the not-so-new digital scenario, not only as critical receivers but, above all, as active participants.
It has been demonstrated, in recent months, that the media, state institutions, political and mass organizations, and the educational system weave a web that makes us invincible, if we are able to adapt it to the new circumstances and connect it with everyone who can be an ally in the anti-imperialist struggle, inside and outside our borders.
It’s a situation in which disinformation intoxication, through the growing use of digital social networks, serious economic shortages, shortages and consequent inflation, are joined by serious economic shortages, shortages and consequent inflation. It is necessary -in addition to the essential measures to stimulate the growth of the supply of goods and services, in addition to the successful control of the pandemic and the fact that blackouts are becoming less frequent, as is already happening, [to strengthen] ideological activity and, in particular, communications, as compañero Díaz-Canel has insisted, must be perceived by all revolutionaries as fundamental issues.
There are, to illustrate it, the material prosperity of Yugoslavia and Libya, razed to the ground with bombs after demonizing their governments, or more recently, the coups in countries like Bolivia and Nicaragua, with high economic performance indexes. Others believe that if we give institutional political space to the counterrevolution (multi-partyism it is called), the United States would begin to forgive us, but Antony Blinken’s response to the most recent multiparty elections in Venezuela should shake them out of their illusions: “it was not a free election”, he said, and, therefore, they will continue to support Juan Guaidó, who was indeed freely elected… by the Trump administration.
Not to rest in the battle for the truth, [we must] face decisively in confronting inequality where the disadvantages for the most humble have accumulated very significantly. [We must] create and enhance new economic, social, legal and cultural instruments against any inequality and discrimination, to intensely involve the people, and especially the youth, in the new and old fights. [That] has been the Fidelista response of the revolutionary leadership to the challenges of the present. And it has done so by listening to many, accepting criticism and speaking modestly, while working with intensity and transparency.
As the recently-deceased essayist, Juan Valdes Paz said in one of his last public appearances, the Cuban nation “does not have a solution vis-à-vis the US as we conceive it: independent, sovereign, self-determining”. But neither does Latin America and the world: independence, sovereignty and self-determination are obscene words in the empire’s dictionary.
The tribute paid by Washington and its allies to the last Human Rights Day was the announcement of the extradition of Julian Assange, to settle accounts with him for revealing, not State secrets, but war crimes and strategies of imperialist domination such as those exposed in the aforementioned cable, dated April 15, 2009.
It is the world upside down, where a Prometheus of our time must be tied to the rock so that the eagle devourer of entrails avenges, with exemplary punishment, the offense of exposing the Olympus of the dollar in its unspeakable crimes. Meanwhile, cardboard characters, in the tableau of dollars and technology paid by Wall Street, are applauded as heroes.
This is how the enthusiastic handlers of the N15 face their frustrations when there is no sovereignty to stop them. What would await the people of Cuba if they ever had the opportunity to impose on us what they understand by justice?
The social leaders shot and tortured en masse in our lands of America would be a colorful brushstroke for the hate-filled vengeance and bloodbath that the “military intervention” so often demanded from Miami in the last year would [actually] mean.
In the second season of the already old -and increasingly less outdated- Cuban series En silencio ha tenido que ser [It Had to Be in Silence], there is a scene in which the State Security agent, now a CIA prisoner, responds to a CIA psychologist, sent on a softening mission, with the advice she herself had given him during a training session when he and she were apparently on the same side: “Excessive enthusiasm is a difficulty when it comes to facing frustrations”.
Hopefully, the empire will listen to its psychologists, and at sometime [come to] understand that only new frustrations await it here, if it continues to rely on advisors like Juan Gonzalez, Antony Blinken and the Miami haters.
In the meantime, the signs are going in the opposite direction, so only the broadest culture and the most intense work can be our vaccines against an empire that, in its decadence, and worried about losing its hegemony at the global level, wants to gain a foothold in a territory it considers its backyard.
by Iroel Sánchez
[* Allusion to a popular Cuban saying that illustrates a very unfair fight: Una pelea de león contra mono amarrao’ – a fight between a lion and a tied up monkey.]
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In recent weeks, several sources have been announcing a possible visit to Cuba by US President Barack Obama. This would be part of a Latin American tour that would include Argentina, Colombia, and Peru, in late March.
Undoubtedly –if it actually happened– the visit would be a boost to the normalization of relations between the two countries, and a blow to those sectors that oppose the process publicly initiated on December 17, 2014.
Judging by his statements to Yahoo News a few weeks ago, Obama also sees this visit as a tool to force the changes that the US has historically been seeking in Cuba, and as a way to strengthen US influence in the Western Hemisphere –an idea he just reiterated in his State of the Union speech before Congress.
“If you want to consolidate our leadership in the continent, you must recognize that the Cold War is over and lift the embargo,” Obama said to the plenary of the House and Senate this January 12, recognizing tha/t more than fifty years of economic blockade have not brought democracy –as Washington sees it– to Cuba.
Once again, the President has left to Congress a task to which he can contribute much more than he has done so far. Not only by the number of changes within presidential power that can weaken the blockade without the intervention of the legislative –such as authorizing the use of the US dollar in Cuban international transactions; reversing the policy of financial persecution against the island; allowing US imports of Cuban products and services; and authorizing direct exports to Cuba– but also by specific decisions requested by entities in his country which have been waiting for the approval of his government for months.
Among these are the MLB authorization request so Cuban baseball players can play in the United States without breaking from their country of origin; or the granting of a license to a company that produces tractors for private farmers so it can settle in the Special Economic Zone of Mariel, west of Havana.
Another instrument of the Cold War strategy against Cuba that the president could change is the policy of automatic acceptance –as political refugees– of all Cuban immigrants who reach US soil. This encourages human trafficking and illegal migration but the US uses it as a tool to destabilize the island just as the more than fifty million US dollars they distribute among people they organize and train for “programs to promote democracy” on Cuban territory.
The President has not considered either the historical claim of the Cuban people about the territory of Guantanamo under US military occupation. This has become a torture camp that Obama has not been able to shut down. A military base that is not a relic of the Cold War, but of the opportunism displayed by the US when it intervened in the independence war that Cubans were fighting against Spain. They came as allies of the Cubans but acted as occupiers and imposed a constitutional amendment giving them the right to set up military bases as they deemed necessary, and the right to intervene by force whenever they wished.
In his last State of the Union address the to Congress, the US president said “The United States is the most powerful nation on Earth; period”. This emphatic “period” reminds us of something that has no discussion: The US is king of the “jungle” their policies have turned the planet into.
Given the history of the relations between Cuba and the US –and also given the circumstances in which it could take place– a visit by the President of the United States to Havana would still be part of a confrontation. However, a confrontation must be –as Cuban leader Raul Castro, said– on an equal footing and in a civilized manner.
So as a Cuban song says: let the beast come, we are waiting. But considering his country is so powerful, Obama should not be afraid to loosen up the chains a bit before doing the honor of visiting us. Or is it –as another saying goes in Cuba– that the town bully only takes on a fight as a lion against a monkey… when the monkey is tied up?
¿Obama en Cuba?: Que venga la fiera pero que suelte al mono.
by Iroel Sánchez
En las últimas semanas varias fuentes han estado anunciando una posible visita del Presidente estadounidense Barack Obama a Cuba que ya tendría fecha como parte de una gira latinoamericana que incluiría Argentina, Colombia, y también Perú, a fines de marzo.
Sin dudas, de producirse, tal hecho sería un impulso hacia la normalización de relaciones entre los dos países y un golpe a aquellos sectores que se oponen a tal proceso desatado públicamente el 17 de diciembre de 2014.
A juzgar por sus declaraciones a Yahoo News semanas atrás, la visita de Obama también es vista por este como un instrumento para forzar los cambios que históricamente EEUU ha estado buscando en Cuba y fortalecer su influencia en el hemisferio occidental, cosa que acaba de reiterar en su discurso sobre el estado de la Unión ante el Congreso.
“Si quieren consolidar nuestro liderazgo en el continente tienen que reconocer que la Guerra Fría se acabó, levanten el embargo”, dijo Obama ante el pleno de las dos cámaras legislativas este 12 de enero, tras reconocer que más de cincuenta años de bloqueo económico no trajeron la democracia, como la entiende Washington, a la mayor de las Antillas.
Una vez más, el Presidente ha dejado en manos del Congreso una tarea a la que él puede contribuir mucho más de lo que ha hecho. No solo por la cantidad de modificaciones al alcance de la potestad presidencial que pueden debilitar el bloqueo sin necesidad de que el legislativo intervenga -la autorización del uso del dólar estadounidense en las transacciones internacionales de Cuba; revertir la política de persecución financiera contra la Isla; permitir las importaciones a EEUU de servicios o productos cubanos y autorizar las exportaciones directas a la Isla, están entre ellas- sino también por decisiones puntuales solicitadas por entidades de su país que esperan hace meses por la aprobación de su gobierno. Entre estas últimas están la autorización tramitada por la MLB para que beisbolistas cubanos puedan jugar en Estados Unidos sin romper con su país de origen, o la licencia a una empresa de produccción de tractores con destino a agricultores privados para establecerse en la Zona Económica Especial de Mariel, al Oeste de La Habana.
Otro instrumento de la estrategia de Guerra Fría hacia Cuba que el presidente puede modificar es la política de acogida automática, en carácter de refugiados políticos, a todo emigrante cubano que llegue a suelo estadounidense, lo que fomenta el tráfico de personas y la emigración ilegal, como herramienta de desestabilización contra la Isla junto a los más de cincuenta millones de dólares que EEUU distribuye entre personas que organiza y entrena para “programas de apoyo a la democracia” en territorio cubano.
El Presidente tampoco ha considerado el reclamo histórico del pueblo de Cuba sobre el territorio de Guantánamo que EEUU ocupa militarmente y ha convertido en un campo de torturas que Obama no ha podido cerrar. Una base militar que no es una reliquia de la Guerra Fría sino del oportunismo con que Washington intervino en la guerra de independencia que los cubanos libraron contra España, llegando como aliado de los libertadores pero actuando como ocupante, e imponiendo una enmienda constitucional que le daba derecho a instalar todas las bases militares que estimase necesarias, además de la prerrogativa para intervenir por la fuerza cada vez que lo desease.
En su último discurso sobre el estado e la Unión ante el Congreso el Presidente norteamericano dijo “los Estados Unidos de América es la nación más poderosa de la Tierra. Punto”. El “punto” nos recuerda que se dice algo que no tiene discusión: EEUU es el Rey de la selva en que sus mismas políticas han convertido el planeta.
Por la historia de las relaciones entre Cuba y EEUU, y también por las circunstancias en que se desarrollaría, una visita del Presidente de Estados Unidos a La Habana no dejaría de ser parte de una confrontación pero una confrontación que como ha dicho el líder cubano, Raúl Castro, debe transcurrir de modo civilizado y entre iguales.
Así que como dice una canción bailable cubana, que venga la fiera que la estamos esperando. Pero si su país es tan poderoso, Obama no debería temer soltarnos un poco las amarras antes de hacer el honor de visitarnos, ¿o es que como dice otro dicho popular en la Isla, al guapo del barrio sólo le gustan las peleas de león a mono y con el mono amarrado?