By David Brooks
The massacre in Las Vegas was characterized as the worst case of a multiple mass shooting in the modern history of the United States, but it is a type of tragedy that has become increasingly common in recent years in this country.
According to a case count of mass shootings (defined in this calculation as one in which 4 or more people are injured or killed by an aggressor), this was number 273 of the year. It happened on the 273rd day of this year. As the policy journalist Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone summed it up in a tweet: “a mass shooting per day: welcome to the United States of America”.
Only 16 months ago, until what happened yesterday the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history, was when Omar Mateen killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Before that, the blood title and death of a mass shooting had been recorded at Virginia Tech University in 2007, where 32 were killed.
The cases of mass murder multiply with alarming frequency. Among the most remembered, in addition to the three “worst”, include the hate crime of the young Dylan Roof in an Afro-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing 9, in 2015, the same year in which there was a massive shooting in San Bernardino California, where 14 died; the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where a man killed 12 in 2012, the same year that a man shot 20 primary school children and their teachers at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut and the 13 students killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado (subject of the famous documentary “Bowling for Columbine” by Michael Moore), among others in an increasingly long list.
Since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, accidents and homicides) than the total of all Americans who lost their lives in all the wars in the country’s history, since Independence (1776). Every day, about 92 lose their lives by firearms, recalled Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist.
The incident in Las Vegas already triggered another cycle of debate over the control of private weapons in this country. But this, just as it is so often, already has a familiar script and nothing indicates that this time it will be very different. Trump and the Republicans expressed their condolences Monday and cited biblical phrases, while some – not all – Democrats insist again that more control of arms has to be promoted. The National Rifle Association and its allies will be silent for a while, while as always after these tragedies, the stocks of the gun makers rose on Wall Street.
The president, his team and a good part of the Republican Party, defend the “constitutional right” to arms, and argue that with more armed citizens there will be less violence and greater security.
But in an evaluation of diverse investigations published by Scientific American shows the opposite – that more weapons in private hands lead to more crimes, and comparisons with other developed countries indicate that this is, by far, the one that suffers most from gun violence, with more than 36 thousand fatalities in 2015.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, so far in 2017, there have been 46,595 incidents of violence with firearms, resulting in 11,652 deaths and 23,516 injured (this does not include the approximately 22,000 suicides per year).
In this country, there are approximately 300 million firearms in private hands – almost enough to give one to every adult and child in this country, and a little more than a third of the households in the country report having a gun at home.
But the tragedy in Las Vegas has already generated unexpected changes: the guitarist of one of the bands at the festival declared that the experience has changed his opinion. By declaring that he had been a promoter of the right of citizens to have arms all their lives, “until the events of last night. I can not express how wrong I was, “wrote Caleb Keeter of the country band Josh Abbott Band on his Twitter account “Enough is enough … We need gun control right now. “
But the White House spokeswoman said Monday was not the time to have a political discussion on gun control. “There is a time and place for a political debate. But this is a time to unite as a country,” said Sarah Sanders.
David Brooks is the US correspondent for the Mexican daily LA JORNADA.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Miami, Florida, is considered in political circles around the world as the home of the worst of the Cuban community in North America. As a safe haven for some of the most dangerous terrorists in the country and the world, in that country’s plight, they have established many garrison headquarters that control illicit businesses related to arms, drugs and human trafficking.
But it has not always been this way. The story was told by Mario Puzo in his Godfather books and films about the violent methods used by the first Italian mafia groups of immigrants, who changed their ways to adapt to the American Way of Life. This even reached the level of the high politics of the United States, and can be compared with the history of the Cuban mafia of South Florida.
In 1959, hundreds of corrupt politicians and servants of the defeated Batista tyranny began to arrive in Miami with bags stuffed with dollars stolen from Cuba’s public treasury. There were hundreds of torturers and murderers among them. They were organized and re-organized by the CIA and other agencies of the United States government to be used in military and terrorist acts against the Cuban revolution and other misdeeds of the extreme right-US in the world.
These fearsome “refugees” were the germ of what came to be the powerful Cuban-American mafia in Miami when they joined other elements of the subsequent Cuban emigration.
Meanwhile, the American extreme right, using its intelligence and subversion organizations, organized various terrorist groups of Cubans. They were recruited from among the emigres and on the island. Their goal was subverting order in Cuba and creating the conditions for military invasion and re-occupation of the island.
After the roaring failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in the Bay of Pigs, the American extreme right intensified hundreds of other terrorist projects that also went down to defeat.
They then opted for a tactical change that gradually turned the cleverly-made Cuban terrorists into politicians who controlled US foreign policy toward Cuba for almost half a century and through the administration of twelve different US presidents.
The process of legitimizing the representatives of Cuban-American mafia in the political establishment of the United States was fast and effective. They learned the game of politicking, opportunism, and fraud. Soon they had several members of congress, senior executive officials and ambassadors, as well as a number of members of the judicial power in Florida. They incorporated to this learning their methods acquired during the bloody dictatorship of Batista in Cuba.
Some of these groups have been imposing since 1959 methods of depression comparable to those of the Chicago gangsters in the 30s or 40s of last century to manipulate the population of Cuban immigrants in the United States.
The Cuban-American mafia of South Florida has carried out numerous terrorist acts. They have participated in political crimes funded by the extreme right US policy as much in Cuba as ub the United States as well as in other countries in Latin America and Europe.
They have been involved in electoral tricks and political scandals involving Latin American countries, and in the United States as well. They know the protagonists of Watergate and the electoral fraud in Florida that presided over George W. Bush in 2000. It is known that they were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It was not that they were politicians and officials of Cuban origin, but not only that. They were “Cuban-Americans” clearly aligned with the extreme right of the country, recently unmarked from the ranks of known terrorist elements with links to Miami.
There have been attempts to get Cuban-Americans to lead Latinos in the political establishment, but the interests and ambitions of both groups have been incompatible.
Cuban-American politicians, with honorable exceptions, are a more homogenous and manageable group than other Latino immigrants because, as a rule, they respond uniformly to the interests of those who promote them, because they are something like laboratory politicians, cloned and breastfed by the conservative forces to which their promotions owe.
However, at present, we must take into account that three-quarters of the Cubans who emigrated to the United States. After 1980, they did so for economic reasons. Because of this, they are carriers of many of the ethical, moral and patriotic values of the revolution. Sooner or later they will end up imposing coexistence with Havana, making the business of the counterrevolution, with which the Cuban-American mafia made its fortune, obsolete.
October 13, 2017.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusivo para el diario POR ESTO! de Mérida, México.
La ciudad estadounidense de Miami, en el estado de Florida, es reputada en medios políticos de todo el mundo como sede de lo peor de la comunidad cubana en Norteamérica. Como santuario seguro para algunos de los terroristas más peligrosos del país y el mundo, en esepedazo de la nación norteña, han radicado muchas jefaturas depandillas que controlan negocios ilícitos relacionados con el contrabando de armas, drogas y seres humanos.
Pero esto no siempre ha sido así. La historia que relata Mario Puzo en sus libros y filmes acerca de los métodos violentos de las primeras familias mafiosas italianas de inmigrantes que fueron modificando sus procederes para adaptarse a la American Way of Life, incluso al nivel de la alta política de Estados Unidos, se puede comparar con la historia de la mafia cubana del Sur de la Florida.
Cuando en 1959 comenzaron a llegar a Miami centenares de corruptos políticos y servidores de la derrotada tiranía de Batista con sus maletas cargadas de dólares robados al tesoro público cubano, iban con ellos cientos de policías torturadores y asesinos. Ellos fueron reclutados y organizados por la CIA y otras agencias del gobierno de Estados Unidos para ser utilizados en actos militares y terroristas contra la revolución cubana y en otras fechorías de la extrema derecha estadounidense en el mundo.
Estos temibles “refugiados” constituyeron el germen de lo que llegó aser la poderosa mafia cubana de Miami cuando a ellos se unieron otrosfactores de la posterior emigración cubana.
Entretanto, la extrema derecha estadounidense, valiéndose de susorganizaciones de inteligencia y subversión organizaba diversos gruposterroristas de cubanos reclutados en la emigración y en la isla con elpropósito de subvertir el orden en Cuba y crear las condiciones para ainvasión militar y ocupación de la isla.
Tras el estruendoso fracaso de la invasión de Playa Girón en la Bahía de Cochinos, la extrema derecha estadounidense intensificó cientos de otros proyectos terroristas que también naufragaron.
Optaron entonces por un cambio táctico que gradualmente convirtió alos terroristas cubanos, hábilmente maquillados, en políticos quellegaron a controlar la política exterior de Estados Unidos respecto a Cuba durante casi medio siglo y la administración de doce presidentesdistintos. El proceso de legitimación de los representantes de lamafia cubana en el establishment político de Estados Unidos fue rápidoy efectivo.
Aprendieron el juego de la politiquería, el oportunismo,los fraudes y pronto tuvieron varios congresistas, altos funcionarios del poder ejecutivo y embajadores, así como un número de miembros delpoder judicial en la Florida. Incorporaron a este aprendizaje susexperiencias metodológicas adquiridas durante la cruenta dictadura de Batista en Cuba.
Una parte de esos grupos fueron imponiendo desde 1959 métodos depresión comparables con los de los gangsters de Chicago en los años 30o 40 del pasado siglo para manipular a la población de inmigrantes cubanos en Estados Unidos.
La mafia cubana del Sur de la Florida, ha realizado numerosos actos terroristas y ha participado en crímenes políticos financiados por la extrema derecha política estadounidense tanto en Cuba y Estados Unidos como en otros países de América Latina y Europa.
Han intervenido en trampas electorales y escándalos políticos en varios países latinoamericanos y, en los propios Estados Unidos, seles sabe protagonistas de los hechos de Watergate y del fraudecomicial en Florida que dio la presidencia a George W. Bush en el año2000. Se sabe que estuvieron involucrados en el asesinato delpresidente John F. Kennedy.
No es que fueran políticos y funcionarios de origen cubano, no son sólo eso. Eran “cubanoamericanos” claramente alineados con la extrema derecha del país, recién desmarcados de las filas de connotados elementos terroristas con referentes en Miami.
Ha habido intentos por hacer que los cubanoamericanos lideren a loshispanos en el establishment político pero los intereses y ambiciones de ambos grupos se han mostrado incompatibles.
Los políticos cubanoamericanos, con honrosas excepciones, resultan un grupo más homogéneo y manejable que los de otros inmigrantes hispanos porque, como regla, responden de manera uniforme en su actuación a los intereses de quienes los promueven, porque son algo así como políticos de laboratorio, clonados y amamantados por las fuerzas neoconservadoras a las que deben sus ascensos.
Sin embargo, en la actualidad, hay que tener en cuenta que trescuartas partes de los cubanos que emigraron a EE.UU. después de 1980lo hicieron por motivos económicos. Por ello, son portadores de muchos valores éticos, morales y patrióticos de la revolución y acabarán porimponer, más temprano que tarde, la coexistencia con La Habanahaciendo obsoleto el negocio de la contrarrevolución con que la mafia cubana hizo su fortuna.
Octubre 13 de 2017.
Miami, October 16, 2017
Sent by: Andrés Gómez
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
YES TO RELATIONSHIPS AND TRIPS TO CUBA
CARAVAN OF CARS THIS SATURDAY OCTOBER 21, AGAINST THE UNUSUAL AND ARBITRARY MEASURES OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF TRUMP AGAINST THE CUBAN PEOPLE THAT EVENTUALLY WILL HURT OUR RIGHT TO TRAVEL TO CUBA FREELY AND WITHOUT FEAR
Miami.- The Cuban emigration organizations that in Miami comprise the Alianza Martiana coalition: the Antonio Maceo Brigade, the Martiana Alliance – as an individual organization, the José Martí Association, the Women’s Association for the Family, the Bolivarian Circle of Miami and the Circle of Intellectuals of Miami, call their members and all people of good will to participate in these moments of crisis to a new caravan of cars to be held this Saturday, October 21.
We need to make public our repudiation of the unjustified and unjustified measures taken by President Trump that have as their obvious intention to destroy the relations that have been gradually developing during the last almost three years between the peoples and governments of the United States and Cuba.
We must publicly reject the restoration of a war policy by US governments. against the Cuban people, against our families in Cuba. Against our inalienable right to be able to travel to Cuba freely, without restrictions, to share with our loved ones in Cuba.
Trump and Marco Rubio and company have no family in Cuba. We do have them, and we want them.
As always the participants in the caravan will begin to meet in the parking lot of the Youth Fair, whose entrance is at Coral Way (Calle 24 del S.W.) and the traffic lights at Avenue 112. THIS TIME FROM 11:30 AM. To leave later to transit for important streets of our city. ///
NOTA DE PRENSA
Miami, 16 octubre de 2017
Envía: Andrés Gómez
SÍ A LAS RELACIONES Y A LOS VIAJES A CUBA
CARAVANA DE CARROS ESTE SÁBADO 21 DE OCTUBRE, EN CONTRA DE LAS INJUSTAS Y ARBITRARIAS MEDIDAS DE LA ADMINISTRACIÓN DE TRUMP CONTRA EL PUEBLO CUBANO QUE EVENTUALMENTE PONDRÁN EN PELIGRO NUESTRO DERECHO DE VIAJAR A CUBA LIBREMENTE Y SIN TEMOR
Miami.- Las organizaciones de la emigración cubana que en Miami integran la coalición Alianza Martiana: la Brigada Antonio Maceo, la Alianza Martiana –como organización individual-, la Asociación José Martí, la Asociación de Mujeres a favor de la Familia, el Círculo Bolivariano de Miami y el Círculo de Intelectuales de Miami, convocan a sus miembros y a todas las personas de buena voluntad a participar en estos momentos de crisis a una nueva caravana de autos a realizarse este próximo sábado, 21 de octubre.
Necesitamos hacer público nuestro repudio a las abusivas e injustificadas medidas tomadas por el presidente Trump que tienen como obvia intención destruir las relaciones que poco a poco se han ido desarrollando durante los últimos casi tres años entre los pueblos y gobiernos de Estados Unidos y Cuba.
Tenemos que rechazar públicamente la restauración de una política de guerra por parte de los gobiernos de EE.UU. contra el pueblo cubano, contra nuestras familias en Cuba. Contra nuestro inalienable derecho de poder viajar a Cuba libremente, sin restricciones, a compartir con nuestros seres queridos en Cuba.
Trump y los Marco Rubio y compañía no tienen familia en Cuba. Nosotros sí las tenemos, y las queremos.
Como siempre los participantes en la caravana comenzarán a reunirse en el parqueo del Youth Fair, cuya entrada está en Coral Way (Calle 24 del S.W.) y el semáforo de la Avenida 112. ESTA VEZ A PARTIR DE LAS 11:30 AM. Para partir más tarde a transitar por importante calles de nuestra ciudad. ///
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive to the daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, Mexico.
Translated and edited for CubaNews by Walter Lippmann.
A century after the seizure of power by the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the current validity of the ideas of the Russian Revolution of October 1917 can be seen in the orientation of the struggles waged by the peoples of the whole against capitalist exploitation.
October cleared the roads to human liberation that Marxism had identified and discovered in other new ways. It led the nation to achieve great successes in economic, politics, culture, social justice and defense, to make backward Russia a world power in a short time.
October allowed the efforts and sacrifices of the peoples of the Soviet Union to reach the level of economic, military and scientific development that brought about a bipolarity of the world in which the nations of the planet could rest their hopes of progress. The United States was no exception.
In January 1919, Lenin invited the left wing of the Socialist Party of America (SPA) to join the newly-created Communist International in Moscow. In the spring of that year this wing took control of the whole party displacing its previous leadership, which was smaller and of social-democratic orientation.
From its origins, the SPA suffered attacks from several state governments and from the US federal government itself. It feared a repeat of the revolts that were taking place on European soil. In the United States, between the end of 1919 and January 1920, the “red terror” led the United States Attorney General to order the arrest of thousands of communists, with the Sedition Act of 1918 as a legal basis.
During the Great Depression of 1929, the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) multiplied its pacts with small union groups. The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president also meant the renewal of the unions and increased in them the influence of the CPUSA.
During this period, the CPUSA was distinguished by its defense of the Second Spanish Republic, a victim of the Francoist uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Leftists from all over the world joined to defend the Republic, providing funds for medical care and in many cases volunteering in the International Brigades. The CPUSA provided the first members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which, in addition to supporting the Republican government of Spain, was the first military force made of US-made military force in which blacks and whites were integrated in the same ranks, with the same rights and obligations.
When the United States Communist Party (CPUSA) was formed in 1919, the Washington government had long suppressed the Socialists because they had opposed American intervention in World War I and made a campaign against military service. As of January 1920, the new target of persecution was the communists who began to be massively imprisoned. The CPUSA was forced into hiding and had to change its name several times to avoid arrest of its cadres and militants.
In the 1930s, the FBI persecuted Nazis and Communists under suspicion that they intended to launch an armed revolt against the federal government. In 1940, laws that made it illegal to hold a favorable opinion to overthrow the government came into force.
In 1941, when the United States was about to enter the world war in Europe and Japan, the Roosevelt government accused 29 members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), then political allied with the Fourth International, of sedition and conspiracy to overthrow the government. The FBI raided the offices of the SWP and formed a grand jury for the trial. The accused used the process to proclaim their socialist principles from the dock, rejected the imperialist war and refuted the presentation of the socialist revolution as a conspiracy or coup.
The United States’ entry into World War II in December 1941 forced an alliance with the Soviet Union that enabled the recruitment of communist militants into the US military. At the end of the Second World War, in 1945, and the beginning of the Cold War against the USSR, the official US “truce” with the CPUSA ended and an anti-communist psychosis was exacerbated by the alleged discovery of “Soviet espionage networks” and the denunciation of a growing power of the communists in the industrial trade union sector. Then came the McCarthy or witch-hunt period, one of the most shameful episodes in the legal history of the United States, which included the political murder of the couple Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, of sedition and conspiracy to overthrow the government a hate crime that still cries out for justice.
August 31, 2017.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive to the daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, Mexico.
Political organizations and religious institutions of all kinds, tones, and colors have tried to legislate about what have been (or are) the most appropriate “carnal relations.”
An investigative work on homosexuality in several countries, by University of New Mexico professor emeritus of sociology, Nelson Valdés, states that the Bolsheviks in Russia criminalized homosexuality for a short time in 1922. But it has been a general rule that both communists, socialists and capitalist parties always avoid defining guidelines on sexual orientation.
Valdés points out that in the United States, the change came just on December 6, 2011, when US foreign policy manifested itself in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “rights” in some countries of the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then announced a global LGBT policy, although she acknowledged that she was talking about this subject “knowing that my country’s record on human rights for homosexuals is far from adequate.”
Until 2003, it was a crime in the United States to be LGBT. Many homosexuals in the United States suffered violence and harassment. For some – among them many young people – harassment and exclusion continue to be daily realities. “Hence, as in all nations, we have a lot of work to do to protect human rights in our country,” Secretary of State Clinton said in a December 2011 statement.
His new international policy promised to open the borders of the United States to give aid and protection to the LGBT refugees and asylum seekers … as long as they came from those countries of which Washington demands regime change.
Practically, the United States had only added one more pretext for its intrusion into the internal affairs of those countries that defied American power.
Shortly afterward, in the mid-1970s, the media “influenced” by Washington within their own nation and around the world unleashed a great campaign on the alleged discrimination against homosexuals in Cuba.
Simultaneously, a media crusade was initiated to demonstrate that “the roots of homophobia in Cuba were in the revolution of Fidel Castro and the new Cuban communist leadership.” In 2000, the Cuban leader admitted his personal responsibility for not having promptly corrected the phenomenon, derived from the stubborn policies of years before the revolution.
Until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other related professions throughout the hemisphere shared similar attitudes. Homosexuality was considered until very recently a “deviation” and prohibited in the majority of the states of the United States. For its part, Cuba had inherited a macho culture because of long-standing attitudes, both in Spain and in the African cultures that contribute to its national identity.
However, in the last two decades, says Professor Nelson Valdes, the changes on issues of sexual identity and gender have been extraordinary. The Cuban media has played a systematic and concerted role in the education of the general population. Cinematography has been at the forefront in discussing these issues. In the last 13 years, Cuban television has more explicitly explored issues related to alternative sexual behavior.
The openness to openly gay behavior has not been limited to Havana alone. Homophobia is clearly in decline throughout the island as evidenced by the fact that gay and lesbian candidates are being elected to public office. A well-known foreign observer has pointed out that, in this area, “Cuba is much more liberal than the United States and Europe.”
What remains to be addressed is how it has been possible for a country characterized by such macho tendencies so entrenched in institutions, politicians, and national culture to have changed so much in the relatively short period of half a century and now that homophobia has become the enemy.
Indeed, the mainstream media and political and social leaders in the country have openly attempted to positively influence the population, in which some of the older people have tried to cling to the sexual and gender roles learned before the triumph Of the Cuban revolution.
Valdes highlights as a great achievement that Cubans have overcome the idea that machismo, manhood, and masculinity are the expressions of what defines a revolutionary. But, in my opinion, it is the awareness of the necessity of national unity for the defense of the revolution that has played an essential role in such a transcendental task for the progress of the human condition.
July 6, 2017.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
THE RAG INTERVIEWS MARIANA HERNANDEZ
February 22, 1971
MARIANA HERNANDEZ, interviewed by THE RAG, Austin, Texas,
Mariana Hernandez is the Socialist Party’s candidate for Travis LaRue’s job- mayor of Austin.
By printing this interview, The Rag does not mean to take sides in the upcoming election. But we would like to point out that almost any change would be an improvement.
The interview was taped on the spur of the moment at the Abortion Conference, where the Socialist candidates were promising to work for free abortions on demand if elected. The candidate’s willingness to speak into a somewhat hostile reporter’s tape recorder without advance notice was remarkable in the context of Texas politics.
RAGT: How do you propose to change the abortion laws from the City Council?
MH: Well, what we intend to do first of all is help build the Women’s Liberation movement. We will involve ourselves in all the building aspects of it and in that way involve a larger number of people. What we will do at the City| Council is also have it at a time when more women are able to come to meetings and express their views as to what the City Council ought to be| doing. That is, we won’t have them at 9 o’clock in the morning when most people can’t come. There are working women who can’t present their views because they’re working… RAG: Wouldn’t you say that most men can’t participate at that time either, so it’s a bit unfair to all citizens?
MH: That’s true. So we would have it at a time when all citizens could participate.
RAG: How do you see. your chances for winning?
MH: Well, what we see is that if we get the publicity, if we get out and are able to take our demands to the people, they’re going to support us. That’s our chances.
Many women support free abortion on demand, which is one of our positions. Large numbers of people support our anti-war position. But there are areas of the city that just have not had the opportunity to hear us.
RAG: How has the response to you been from the straight media?
MH: All of the press except for the Daily Texan were at our press conference. Even the Dallas Morning News was there! And, in fact, they didn’t seem to be that hostile just amazed that Socialists would run. Their major question was: “Is it serious?” The way this was answered over and over again by all the candidates was yes, we are serious, we are the only group of people running today who are serious, who are even talking about the major issues that affect people. The others are avoiding them.
RAG: Speaking of talking about the major issues, would you consider a debate with the incumbents?
MH: Yes, I would. Of course. I would certainly like to debate the mayor, Travis LaRue. We’d discuss things like pollution around laundries. We’d discuss his position on Women’s Liberation, although there’s supposed to be a Mayor’s Commission on Women. We would debate the question of the right of a citizen to march down the street and assemble.
We would discuss many issues. Like, for instance, the fact that he gives the key to the city to all sorts of people people who sell Budweiser on TV, and things like that but he would never consider the idea of inviting representatives from East Austin, say, to be mayor for a day. Not only mayor for a day, but just come in
RAG: Do you agree with what seems to be a wide-spread sentiment in East Austin that the apathy of City Government has emasculated the Human Rights Commission?
MH: I would agree with that. The reason that it was actually started in the first place was, basically, to make people believe that the City Council was going to do something.
A real, concrete example of what they haven’t done that they could have done is in the recent demands being made by the Booker T. Washington Project people. They are saying that there has been brutality, that the police come in as outsiders, they push us. around, they have guns on us, and we don’t appreciate this. The people were trying to get something done about the situation.
Of course, there have been promises of investigations. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to go out there and investigate that situation.
If the police—“the protectors and defenders of the people of East Austin”—were from East Austin, if they were under the control of the East Austin residents so that the East Austin residents could remove them, then we wouldn’t have police brutality, because the police would be defending the people’s rights in Austin. You wouldn’t see policemen protecting the privileges of certain people out here who go into East Austin.
RAG: Do you believe that even if you lose, your candidacy may push whoever does win towards solving these problems?
MH: Yes, there will be pressure put on them. It’s pretty much like what happened in Colorado, when La Kaza Unida candidates ran. Although there had never been any chicanos elected even within the Democratic Party, this began to happen. All of a sudden, they were pressured into getting chicanos to run, they were pressured into beginning to talk about the lettuce strike publicly, they were pressured into talking about the Coor’s beer boycott.
* In this way, we will pressure them to talk and make their stand known to the people. And this is where the media has to come in and support us. That’s our basic fight at this point letting people know what we stand for.
by Yunier Javier Sifonte Díaz
June 17, 2017
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The Handmaid’s Tale is perhaps one of the most disturbing TV series of recent times. Provocative in extreme, incisive in its questionings and with a crudity without limits, this production investigates in sensitive areas of the human species and speaks without fear about oppression and the loss of freedom. Fear, corporal punishment and rape, which has become a ritual, coexist with an extraordinary screenplay and attract the applause of the specialized critics, but also the attention of those who wonder where reality ends and fiction begins.
Based on the novel of the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, the series looks to the near future where environmental pollution has left most women in the United States sterile. Faced with the situation, a radical group seizes power, assassinates the President, annuls the Constitution and implements the Republic of Gilead. In the new society, profoundly fundamentalist and puritanical, most modern values disappear, women lose all their rights and those who can still breed offspring only matter as an object destined to give children to the wealthiest families.
From here, females can only aspire to few roles: a few are the infertile wives of the nation’s leaders, but the rest fulfill functions as maids destined for the repopulation of the country, domestic employees or prisoners sentenced to die while cleaning the areas damaged by the radiation. However, none has the right to read, think or express her views, because, even with the ancestry of ladies or sexual slaves make up that lower group causing the misfortunes of the nation. Among them lives the servant Offred, whose name hardly represents another sign of submission. If she belongs to Commander Fred then she should be named like him.
This is one of the great successes of the series: the narrative from all possible spaces, with a deep symbolism and a precise structuring of dialogues. From the immutable red dress of the maidservants – joyful to fecundity, but also to blood and pain – through their pre-established attitudes, gestures and conversations, to the cap to restrict their vision of a world they no longer know, everything works to annul their individuality and turn them into standardized subjects.
With different levels of reading and interpretation, for some, The Handmaid’s Tale means a defense of feminism, while for others it represents a good way to reflect on systems of government such as that implemented by the Islamic State or against the rise of neo-fascist or extreme right-wing tendencies in some countries of the planet. At the thematic level, the series does not address current issues such as women’s reification, harassment of homosexuals, ablation [female genital mutilation] or ethical discussions about abortion.
Supported by a millimeter of perfection and an extraordinary passion for detail, director Reed Morano uses whatever element she believes necessary to retrace the path of this deeply misogynistic and inhuman society, to show the harshness of the moment and the anguish of some female characters almost always on the brink of the abyss. Both the careful photography of bluish or ochre tones, as well as the commitment to intimacy in scenes, the punctual use of the soundtrack and the optimal use of some very first shots of Offred’s face -performed masterfully by Elisabeth Moss-, contribute to closing spaces and placing the spectator right in the centre of this asphyxiating drama.
To this end, this maid has two voices, one submissive and fearful and the other known only to the spectator: rebellious, sarcastic, always pungent in the face of the regime’s exaggerations. Narrated by the protagonist from recurrent flashbacks and internal dialogues, the decomposition of society and its silent conversion in the Republic of Gilead appears on screen. “Now I’m awake and I see the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they massacred Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed the terrorists and annulled the Constitution, we did not wake up either. They said it would be temporary, but nothing changes at all,” recalls Offred to explain how the country arrived in the current state of affairs.
However, these reflections articulate a discourse more anchored to reality and raise questions that are essential for the debate of these times. Does conquering certain universal values such as freedom, democracy and human dignity mean giving up fighting for them? What subsists beneath xenophobia, intolerance, extreme individualism and attempts to construct apolitical or banal subjects?
“Blessed are the meek,” they constantly remind the maids in the centers in charge of training them for their new function, as if eliminating any kind of active posture and making conformism a virtue were an essential objective to achieve domination. And in fact, it is, because the oppression that exists here is not only physical, but also psychological, intellectual and cultural, the only way to dismember a society as a whole.
With seven of the ten chapters of the first season already released and the guarantee of at least one second, The Handmaid’s Tale transcends its exceptional technical skills and its fine adaptation of a classic Canadian literature, but also because it uninhibitedly discusses universal themes such as ideology, morality, humanism, politics and totalitarian and extremist systems. Even without claiming to be a prophetic or apocalyptic work, it has the merit of evading complacent positions and touching sharp areas of a model who likes to see itself as perfect. Responding to the provocations of this series with intelligence and analysis, confronting it without complexes and willing to its art, but also to the debate and questioning, would be good ways to live this story only as fiction.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Not every sector of the U.S. society, nor all U.S. citizens, is frustrated at President Barack Obama’s performance so far or his failure to keep his promises of change.
Small wonder, taking into account that the election of the young and charismatic senator raised hopes on both ends of the U.S. society’s spectrum over something he could not possibly accomplish.
To the elites holding the real power, Barack Obama was a necessary risk to save capitalism and U.S. dominance at home and abroad, as they had realized even before George W. Bush’s first mandate ended that Obama looked as promising as Franklin D. Roosevelt once was to a newly-formed imperialism following the Great Depression.
We must bear in mind that despite widespread hopes worldwide and many experts’ predictions, the conservative right has seen more victories than setbacks under Obama in matters of war policy while still treating him as an adversary. They have managed to considerably neutralize an antiwar movement whose members remain hopeful nonetheless, albeit not without certain reservations, that Obama will keep the promises he made during the presidential race, however long it may take him to.
The number of rallies and protest campaigns has decreased, never mind that Iraq remains an occupied country, the death toll in Afghanistan keeps rising and the war, far from decreasing, is now threatening Pakistan. Likewise, the torture center in Guantanamo is still operating under an assortment of pretexts, and the practices of “preemptive detention” and relocation of suspects in other countries are anything but over while every effort is made to hinder any investigation launched into cases of crimes against humanitarian law.
The number of military bases around the world “to fight drug trafficking” is growing rather than decreasing, and troops are withdrawn only when they can be replaced with “security contractors” –mercenaries– in the interests of privatizing all wars of occupation.
A sort of impasse in favor of the new U.S. president is also noticeable in Africa and the Caribbean, as many leaders and citizens from those regions feel committed to their support of Obama’s campaign, by virtue of a very conveniently manipulated racial identity which has made it possible for the superpower to revive its ties with them, regardless of the Third World’s repeated demands that the president be as good as his word.
At domestic level, the wealthy have profited more from Obama’s achievements than the middle class and the poor: his huge bailouts for the benefit of banks and insurance companies have put Wall Street’s mind at rest; the acquisition of the car industry with the Government’s backing to protect Corporate America from the labor union has been praised by the owners of that sector; and the $800 billion value pack for big business, as well as the mortgage loans to appease discontent among the workers, have definitely paid off.
Obama’s trips to other nations in order to restore old alliances and friendly links destroyed by the 8-year-long Bush administration are to the big companies’ liking, since they mean more investment and a bigger share of those alternative markets.
His promises to make reforms in the health system look fine to the right-wingers as long as they’re nothing more than a few cosmetic changes properly screened by the powerful giants of the pharmaceutical, biotechnological and health insurance companies.
For all the obvious steps Obama has taken to save capitalism and U.S. hegemony, the conservative elements who really call the shots offstage stick by their strategy of keeping the president always on the defensive by allowing, if not promoting, that he is branded as communist and criticized for his slightest criticism of racism.
When he came to the rescue of the banks, many likened him to Lenin and Stalin and warned him they would accuse him of trying to come up with a Union of Socialist American Republics. The governor of Texas threatened to set up a secessionist movement to fight against the U.S. president’s “socialist” economic plan.
Obama puts himself across as a leader committed to the promises that earned him a vote of confidence by most U.S. citizens and the Third World’s hopes of a change of direction in the superpower’s peace efforts, but one whose initiative invariably gives in to the pressures of a conservative right intent on keeping him more worried about defending himself than about making any progress.
By José Luis Estrada Betancourt
May 26, 2009 – 00:45:44 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Even Hollywood shoots with caution given the undeniable problems to get loans, the fear of recession and the little confidence in Wall Street.
Such a highly topical matter as the world economic and financial crisis, whose effects we feel in life’s every sphere, has not gone unnoticed by the seekers of ideas for possible plots that might become box-office hits. In fact, the sexagenarian Michael Douglas will once again be directed by the renowned Oliver Stone to deliver a sequel to Wall Street (1987), where he made an Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a powerful, roguish tycoon who became filthily rich as a stock market speculator.
Wall Street 2 unfolds against the ideal backdrop of today’s disturbing crisis, which will provide the context to throw light on the same world of greed and corruption behind the upcoming The international, starring Clive Owen (as Louis Salinger) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman).
Based on screenwriter Eric Warren Singer’s script, the film follows an Interpol agent and an assistant district attorney determined to disclose the shady deals of a very powerful bank turned expert on illegal activities to fund terrorism and war.
Director Tom Tykwer speaks:”If the story seems to be ripped from the headlines, it’s because the headlines have shown that the banks control all aspects of our lives. The mess we’re in now started when the banks took advantage of people and encouraged them to live beyond their means ‘.
A similar concern has led the controversial and always unerring director of Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko to revisit a subject he had already brought to the fore in 1989 with Roger and Me, when he dug for the reasons why General Motors closed several auto plants in Michigan. A decade later, Michael Moore strikes again, but unlike his fellow filmmakers, with a documentary film, his favorite genre.
As usual, Moore decided to make inquiries into the root cause of the economic chaos lashing against our planet. To that end, he used his webpage to urge a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know», and adding: «Be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history”.
To the author of Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine (2003) it is plain that “the wealthy, at some point, decided they didn’t have enough wealth. They wanted more… a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That’s what I seek to discover in this movie”, he explains.
As we wait for the famous filmmaker to delve into this issue, the economic and financial crisis keeps lashing at the entertainment industry, and of course, cinema is not an exception.
A most noticeable effect of this crisis, at least to those who are all gung-ho on whatever celebrity walks down the red carpet, is the lack of glamour in the world’s greatest movie festivals, an extravaganza the average mortal won’t give two hoots about but certainly a sign of how drastic the limitations have got to be, even in Cannes, one of the industry’s two biggest markets. Credit lines have decreased so much worldwide that smaller industries are no longer able to attract a sizeable audience –as it happens to Cuba and most independent film companies– to these contests, also affected by a reduction in the number of sales contract signed for the movies, TV, DVD and their by-products. Since the to-ing and fro-ing of 35-mm film has become so expensive, from now on it will be harder for filmmakers and actors to attend the premieres of their motion pictures, and more DVD releases are likely to hit the stalls.
Things have reached the point that corporate Hollywood, with plenty of stakes in various companies, have turned more conservative and are even having second thoughts about paying the hair-raising salaries their stars pocket –like the 20 million dollars Jim Carrey made for The Cable Guy, in the end a real turnoff– or keeping the affluent lifestyle they demand while on set, say, private jets close at hand.
Now the studios are “walking a tightrope”, what with the undeniable difficulties to get credits, the fear of recession, and the little confidence they have in Wall Street, which explains why more than a few finished movies ended up on ice until the thunderclouds get away –including eagerly awaited titles like the latest Harry Potter installment– often because of a budget too low to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for marketing and advertising campaigns alone.
The DVD divisions seem to be the only ones expected to “gain” something from this mess, because people choose to watch films at home rather than pay for a theater ticket –as an average, 3.50 dollars in Mexico, and over 4.50 in Brazil and Chile. Facts: audience ratings fell 10% in Asia, 14% in the United States, and 1% in the European Union (figures for the end of 2008 have it that more than 9 million people stopped going to the movies compared with the previous year, which meant the closure of 39 theaters).
Nonetheless, filmmakers such as the Argentinean Luis Puenzo (The Official Story, Old Gringo) believe the economic crisis “may blaze a trail that the less powerful countries can use to disseminate their motion pictures more. Despite the hard times worldwide cinema is going through, shaking the system a little bit always leaves gaps through which we can slip, used as we are to dealing with lower costs of production than the big Hollywood companies. My generation was born in mid-crisis and is trained to make films regardless of the financial ups and downs”.
Life has proved Puenzo right up to a point, but the crux of the matter remains that the «peripheral» industries can truly make movies, taking into account that the studios have been compelled to make budget cuts and put off some productions for next year, as they have less money for distribution.
For instance, that’s the case of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which was forced to postpone the shooting of feature films that were almost ready to begin after two years of a steady pace that gave us movies like Los dioses rotos, El cuerno de la abundancia, Omertá, Ciudad en rojo and La anunciación.
Some documentary and full-length films are almost ready to hit the big screen, namely Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia; El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez’s movie about our Apostle José Martí; Juan Carlos Cremata’s El premio flaco; and Daniel Díaz’s Lisanka. Yet, we’ll have to slow down.
For the time being, the moviegoers’ greatest hope is that only those films supported by good scripts will get the go-ahead and the budget they need, at least while the crisis still goes on.
Translation by Walter Lippmann.
Harlem Suarez, Cuban-born citizen, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of attempting to blow up a bomb on a Florida beach and providing material support to the Islamic State group, the US Public Prosecutor’s Office reported today.
Judge José Martínez Suárez stated today that Suárez, 25, must spend the rest of his life in prison, as requested by the prosecution, who had considered Monday that this would be a “totally fair and reasonable” punishment for his crimes.
Suarez was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and to an additional 20 years in prison for trying to provide support to a terrorist group, the prosecutor said.
The prosecution presented the recordings of the defendant’s conversations with the FBI undercover officers, in which they spoke of the explosive device.
Suarez, found guilty last January in a Florida Keys court, said during the trial that he had no real intention of blowing up a bomb, that he felt scared and intimidated by the police and that his interest was only to know, out of curiosity, the way in which the EI operates.
From the outset, defense lawyers tried to evade terrorism charges by arguing that their client has mental problems.
Suarez was arrested in mid-2015 by the FBI after being monitored by this entity since April of that year, when they detected that he had made comments of support to the Islamic State on his Facebook account.
According to the complaint, the Cuban met with an undercover FBI informant on multiple occasions with the intention of carrying out an attack in the country on behalf of the IS after publishing a series of violent messages in favor of the terrorist group on Facebook, under the name “Almlak Benítez”
(With information from EFE)