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Archive for July, 2009

Another failed experiment

Julio 27, 2009 at 18:15 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión

estudiantes-becarios 

With the end of the 2010-2011 school year, one of the longest and most harmful of experiments of the Castro’s revolution: the Field Schools, will also have ended. About forty years of the pro-Fidel systematic and useless indoctrination exercised directly on adolescents and young people are nearing their end, primarily due to the government’s inability to sustain, both economically and ideologically, an infrastructure -almost as huge as its creator’s ego- that began to be erected since the beginnings of the decade of the 70’s for the formation of the new man.

 
The moment deserves a memory recall, the one we must maintain fresh, not to kindle hatred, but to safeguard future experiences from satanic temptations. I still remember the first time I heard talk of the aberration. I was in the seventh grade then, in “Founders of the Future” High School (which some of the funnier students nicknamed “Fugitives of the Future”), located in the area of the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana, a building that once housed the headquarters of the US Embassy in the Republican period, and today is the humble Museum of Natural Sciences. It was just during that school year (1971-1972) when the Grade Principal informed us in a newspaper that a new and advantageous system for secondary studies would be created in newly constructed boarding schools located in the countryside. There, students would “have every comfort and conditions in order to study, there would be schedules for self study, good food, beautiful uniforms, transportation, leisure time schedules, a formidable material base of studies and very qualified teachers”, he added that in these schools, studies and agricultural work would be combined, in order to shape the type of men Ché wanted, without the weaknesses found at home and the pampering of parents. There, “we would mature” and would “learn how to better serve the revolution”. This last declaration turned out to be the only truth.

 

It’s possible that few people will remember this, but the first “laboratory” of the diabolical experiment was the “Vanguards of Havana” ESBEC, built on the Isle of Pines and nourished the aforementioned school year with students from my secondary school. Some kind of rebel angel who has made me wary has always lived inside of me: I never wanted a scholarship, I never gave in to the many instances when they tried to encourage me to enter the game; I didn’t even agree to be one of the flaming “elected ones” of the Lenin Vocational when, in ninth grade, the guidance counselor very happily placed a blank form for me on my desk. I will never forget her expression of astonishment when I politely rejected her offering, which, to date, I consider well-intentioned: I was a good student, and she wanted to “reward me” by granting me a sort of world visa for Castro’s newly anointed. In spite of my naively believing in “this”, I wasn’t ready to submit myself to a regime of seclusion that imposed schedules and promiscuity away from my folks. I have always been a family individual.

 

After that first one, the ESBEC (secondary schools) invaded the countryside like marabou. Shortly after, the IPUEC (pre-universitary schools) followed. In a short time, they multiplied and, also in a short time, the fruits of the premature separation of adolescents from their homes began to be harvested: the promiscuous cohabitating far from the familial control and the lack of responsibility and inexperience of many of the young teachers, trained in the first pedagogic detachments to cover teaching vacancies in these schools, led inexorably to the loss of traditional moral values instilled within the family. Coarse egalitarianism that mixed youngsters of the most diverse formations –and malformations- fostered the spread of vulgarity, undermining the parents’ authority role, premature sexual relations among students as well as between students and certain teachers, pregnancies of many students, abortions, and the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases. Other dismal tendencies emerged and spread quickly: blackmail (good grades in exchange for the sexual favors of young women favored by the teachers), abuses and humiliation towards the weakest, fatal accidents due to students’ escapes and other lacks of discipline, and even cases of adolescent suicides that –of course- have never been officially disclosed. These were some of the results in the short run.

 

The fragmenting of the family came in the medium and long terms, the substitution of its functions by the State, the indoctrination, the standarization of immorality, the loss of quality of education; in short, a cultural damage that could almost be considered irreversible. We don’t need to mention the economic losses that such an “educational” system implies; beyond the enormous exceptions involving the creation and maintenance of the whole infrastructure and the “free” condition of it, the damages suffered by agriculture “worked” by students are incalculable.

 

The Field Schools are one of the most diabolical monstrosities of F. Castro and of this system, but it is important to also remember that in those early years, when the experiment began and when it was still a voluntary option, there were no groups of parents who publicly and civicly raised their voices to warn about the consequences of such plans. Perhaps the most proactive ones were content with preventing their children from joining the new boarding centers, but it would result in a complicit silence: several years later, when the government tried to hide the failure by returning the secondary studies to the external system, high school studies under the boarding system would take on a mandatory character. It could be argued, however, that in the decade of the 70’s and in the next decade there were thousands of parents who irresponsibly gave their children up as guinea pigs before the altar of the revolution by allowing, and even encouraging, their admittance to the scholarships.

Today –and as another sign of the slow but steady crumbling of the regime- the end of that nightmare, generated from the talent of the great National Big Idea looms- but long years and extreme effort will be required to recover from the greatest of destructions achieved by the Cuban revolution: the deconstruction of the family starting from the systematic misshaping of several generations of our children.

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mentir1

“Revolution is: never lying nor violating ethical principles”.

Some friends in Cuba who have their own computer but, as is common here, have no connection to the Internet nor the likelihood of spending money on expensive cards, read the offline version of my blog, that is, the one I usually burn on discs for those interested in participating in our space. This has created a curious phenomenon here: the “outside” readers tend to participate by posting their comments directly to each post, while the ones “inside”, who have no connection to the web, look for ways to contact this blogger -either personally or by phone- to pass on their opinions, relate their own experiences about some subject, or even to suggest others. Occasionally, they also supply me with materials they have received from some alternative source. Such is the case I want to refer to on this occasion, and, because of its special importance and complexity, I will be publishing it in various installments. 

In the recently completed school year, and just as it had been announced in the official press, diagnostic tests were conducted for students in the final years of the Municipal University Centers (SUM): the results were catastrophic. I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone that this is one of the latest experiments of the Supreme Command, more commonly known as the “municipalization” of the University. This novel method of producing graduates as if we were dealing with sausages consists in grouping at certain locations of each municipality of the city –they say of the whole country- youngsters (and less young people) interested in enrolling in “higher” studies, before whom they place professors who will conduct, in regular meetings, the subjects corresponding to the careers selected by them, within a range –in which are included sports careers, medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology, education (General Integral Professors)- and highlighting the specialty of “Social Communication”, the latest student fad, which is a kind of entelechy here to prepare students for either doing community work consoling the poorest (of all) or caring for destitute elderly persons or distributing appliances of Chinese manufacture. 

To enter this mode of “learning”-municipalization, initiated several years ago- students are not subject to entrance exams that high school graduates have to pass, those enrolled in regular university courses, after having struggled for three years of studies interned far from home. To be included in the generous program, it is sufficient to have good political references from their workplaces (if they are employed) or from the committees (CDR) at their districts of residence, if they have no employment relationship, and verbally express their readiness as revolutionaries. There is no indication of any extra sacrifice when facing exams either; “headquarters” professors are aware that students have to pass, because that is what is expected of them by the supreme leader, manager of the joyous initiative, so they are tolerant and understanding, to the point where sometimes they hand out with equal magnificence the extremely simple exam questions and their answers. Because, if in this country not even sugar is produced, how about producing university graduates? And, tearing out his scanty beard, the Archaic one tallied up his account –the same way as in the old days the grocer would scribble on a paper bag- to find out how many university graduated by the revolution he could brag about in the coming (years?) 

But, behold! Successive promotions of graduates who have begun work have demonstrated a shocking ignorance, not only in the mastery of the studies they majored in, but in the knowledge of the Spanish language itself and in the most basic and famous events in Cuban history. The Great Magician, after having conscientiously thoroughly destroyed everything he ever touched, had found another unique trick: convert –through municipalization- thousands of illiterate people into university students… without losing, because of the conversion, their first quality. 

But rumors began, and these became the scandal, and it was determined that this course would be different: to obtain a university degree it was mandatory to pass a spelling test including dictation, writing, and reading comprehension. The juries that would apply and grade the exams would be made up by real university professors, and, though passing grade was just 60 and each misspelled word would mean just the loss of ½ a point, the bottom line was similar to Napoleon’s after the Battle of Waterloo, a field covered by corpses. I have seen the written testimony of a professor in the faculty of Arts and Literature of Havana University, who served in a jury that applied the above exams to this city’s SUM students and who wrote a funny essay about his experience, which –it is said- was published in an internet site, with dire consequences for the professor: he has been sanctioned and now occupies a lower post with less salary in the very faculty where he works; and even this, thanks to the mediation of his colleagues, who opposed the true intention of the University officials to expel him from the University. We assume that, somehow, reading and reviewing so many absurdities created a sort of mirage or hallucination in this scholar, distorting his perception of Cuban reality: he forgot that in this place, it is forbidden to publish any truths, especially if the one who discloses them is an employee of that capital lie called government.

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Infidelity

July 23rd, 2009 at 18:04 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión

 

jaime-ortegaLast Friday, July 17th Havana Cathedral was the scene of the farewell to Merino Mariano Arroyo, a priest whose body had been found in the early hours of Monday, July 13th brutally murdered in his Regla church. He had been visibly tortured. The ceremony of the Eucharist was celebrated before a shocked crowd that filled the vast nave of the old Cathedral. I was there, not driven by religious sentiments I have never professed to have, but for the need to express myself civically by my respectful presence against such abominable acts. I can’t deny that my interest to find out what the highest ecclesiastic Cuban authority Cardinal Jaime Ortega would say to the heavy concentration of faithful gathered there, before the coffin of the martyred priest also stirred me.

Nothing seemed as discouraging that morning as the Cardinal’s speech, despite the fact that, personally, I never had great expectations in that regard. Reality, however, surpassed my skepticism. Instead of a spiritual leader, the faithful were dismayed to hear a speech which could have been addressed by the very chief of the National Revolutionary Police: according to the highest Cuban cleric official, there was nothing to fear; the murderer had been captured and had confessed his crime; nor was there any connection between the death of Father Mariano and the murder of Father Eduardo de la Fuente -both Spaniards- which took place exactly five months earlier (on February 13th), and whose murderer was also arrested and had confessed to the crime, with the clarification -apparently the Cardinal considered it attenuating- that “he did not know that he was a priest at the time of the crime”. As far as Father Mariano, as was the case before with Father Eduardo, “the cell phone had been the robbery”. His Eminence, in turn, criticized the reports issued “by the foreign press” that suggested “hatred” of the clergy on the part of the Cuban people, or a special rejection of Spaniards (?) forgetting from the outset a subtle detail: public opinion within the Island could hardly be influenced by a press to which Cubans have no access.

 

 

Many of the attendees murmured among themselves, looked at each other with ill-concealed disbelief. There were more questions than answers in their faces. If the Regla’s priest cell phone had been the motive for the robbery, why had the assassin tied him, stabbed him ten times and burned his feet and one of his hands? How else could you explain such cruelty against a defenseless man who was over 70 years old? Why was, just now, the case of Father Eduardo publicly mentioned, and the capture of his murderer also declared? Why had both priests been murdered when they were getting ready to return to their original homeland, Spain? Is it a coincidence that in both cases they were tied up and slashed and that, in addition, fire had been used? It does not seem credible that so many coincidences are the result of chance.

 

As far as I’m concerned, since religious commitments don’t engage me, I ask myself other questions: Wasn’t it a function of the police officials and not of the clergy to have informed the people about the assassinations and their clarifications? Is it lawful and morally acceptable for a spiritual leader, especially someone of the highest hierarchy, to lie to his faithful,? Don’t we have enough with the falsehoods that we have been enduring for decades under our “political leaders”? It is truly unfortunate that the commendable work of many humble priests like Father Mariano, endearing, loved, and respected by his religious community and the town of Regla, including non-believers, finds itself damaged from the pulpit by one who should support it and honor it the most. The Cardinal’s homily was cowardly, disrespectful and offensive, a full example of infidelity to the Christian faith. Poor people of Cuba, mocked by their landlords as well as by their pastors!

Illustration: Cardinal Jaime Ortega during his homily last Friday July 17th.

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From above

From above

July 17, 2009 at 18:42 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión

Monte y Zulueta 

Ever since I stopped being employed by the State a few years ago, I started working on my own as an independent tour guide. Tours through the city explaining the emergence and development of its distinctive architecture and history and traditions that have been meshing between the spaces of its streets and plazas is a very sought-after service by tourists visiting the Island… but it has its risks.

                                 

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I am not referring just to the risk of being stopped out in the open by a zealous guardian of the order requiring documents (from the guide, of course) or one who demands urgently that you show him ownership of a camera you’re carrying, but of finding yourself not knowing what to answer to certain tough questions that one or another foreign visitor who doesn’t understand, for instance, how the colonial buildings in the historical district are so beautifully preserved, while those of the twentieth century are in such a pitiable state of disrepair.

Sometimes the tourists’ questions require a more lengthy and complex explanation than dissertations about the very history of the city. And this is something that happens to all who venture into the

                                                                                                                                                                    Malecon         

work of the expert tour guide, as I was able to exchange experiences with other colleagues. The stories could fill a compendium of cases with black humor verging on the grotesque. A particular case is that of an Italian who had received a barrage of official “information” on the epic war of the Cuban people that had led to “the triumph of the revolution”. Imagine the story that they must have told the subject, who, while walking through streets full of craters due to lack of maintenance, and upon observing the numerous dilapidated buildings or those on the verge of collapsing, very seriously uttered: “The war you people had here was surely a tough one!”

I recently took an excursion of the city with an American young woman, an extremely intelligent and observant girl. She was taking pictures of everything, but

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especially focused on the Architecture. During a break to cool off from Havana’s scorching summer, she commented about those things that caught her attention the most: Why not repair the residential buildings before they arrived at such a state? Why, on the other hand, were there so many museums, squares and perfectly preserved monuments? Why did the revolutionary government occupied “bourgeois” buildings i.e., prior to 1959, and had not created their own symbols, yet created then “for the people”? Why was it that the only the buildings they painted were those along the main avenues of the city? Why did they usually paint only the lower stories of the buildings? And a very curious question: Why did so many buildings show damage in the upper portions, as if they had been bitten from

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up above? Right then, I took the opportunity to answer all of her questions. Yes, my young friend, all the damage and the deterioration here has come the same way and from the same place: “from above”.

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July 15, 2009 at 18:37 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión

I am pleasantly impressed by many of the readers’ comments I’ve been collecting in recent weeks. I want to personally thank you for the documents and the information you make available to all in this area and for addressing issues or adding information that many of us are unaware of, be it about the Cuban realm and its history, or about other world events to which few Cubans here have access. I also think, frankly, that regardless of our similarities and differences, it is essential to expose our ideas about topics we are engaged and interested in while maintaining a framework of respect. This is another venue-among those the blogosphere as a whole has allowed us- where we can discuss everything that has been forbidden to us, what has been hidden from us, what they want us to forget. I am learning a lot from you, I hope others feel the same when opening this blog! 

Taking into account that the official censorship has kept the original site inaccessible from the Island (www.desdecuba.com), I’ve been reproducing for some time a “mirror” of this blog on a site which can be accessed –at least for now-: http://www.vocescubanas.com. You may wish to make this known to your relatives and friends within Cuba who have web access and who may be interested in these topics or in the exchange that takes place here; you would do me a great service, because I consider it important that more of us decide to exercise our freedom of expression and defend our own criteria beyond the control of our censors. I hope there are ever more of us who break the siege! There isn’t a more contagious virus than freedom. 

I want to thank in particular the large response from readers to the post on Operation Peter Pan, one of the most painstakingly “buried” chapters by the official history of the revolution. It moved me to find comments, even from some of those children and their cherished memories of their experiences at the time. They have provided me with a guide to delve into that drama and learn a lot more about this. You have honored me with your testimonials. We will not have enough time in our entire lives to reassemble our fragments, but we could all contribute to it: that may well be the greatest challenge after the darkness. It is important to remember, it’s inexcusable that we know everything. Someday we will no longer be a people without memory; only then will be begin to make sense of Nation, with a great and diverse destiny, though common to all Cubans. 

A big hug,

Miriam (Eva)

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Twistings of the left

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While the situation in Honduras was getting complicated and the possibility of a negotiated solution virtually drifted away, the left-wing extremists continued fueling passions, arousing public opinion, and trying to establish, at any cost, a link between Washington and the “insurrectionaries” to continue encouraging antagonism. The so-called oligarchies, the military gorillas, and the Empire are the big culprits; at least the representatives of these other warring oligarchies maintain –the governments of Venezuela and Cuba- the latter, the longest lasting dictatorship known to this region. And it so happens that, when judging in this case, other elements now hidden could be sitting at the defendant’s table.

 However, contrary to the misinformation, misrepresentation, or the manipulation of the media that ails the Cuban people on the Island, limited in their access to alternative sources (not Boliviarian) that show us opinions from all the interested parties, to date, a regrettable lack of political will is evident in the powers involved in the conflict to usher an effective and peaceful solution to the crisis of the Central American nation. 

 A brief review of the recent Latin American scene reveals at least one tendency: the “hard” left, centered around the most reactionary regimes -those worshipers of Castro-Guevarian style guerrilla warfare, Marxism-Stalinism enthusiasts, instigators of violence, and supporters of populist dictatorships- have opted to promote the so-called XXI century Socialism by trying to legitimize autocrats within governments. To do this, they try to use their own constitutions, which were created precisely to prevent dictatorships. We need to recognize that, however perverse it seems, this is a contribution by the raging leftists, and it has become a real source of conflict in more than one country in this sub (and always “sub”) continent.

 Following the saga of the “constitutional reforms” it’s easy to find the intent hiding behind such trite “will of the people” that claim the kind initiatives of these abnegate servers of the dispossessed. Once they come to power through democratic elections, they proceed to dismantle all the civic institutions and the values that contributed to them. Like the cuckoo, once he has hatched in a borrowed nest, he hurls the rest of the chicks from it to avoid unwanted competition. The new dictators start by promoting populist programs in order to create a springboard to launch themselves into permanent power. At the same time, they demonize all who question their actions. The first investment is to buy the favors of the populace with false royalties. Then, instead of honoring the Magna Carta and upholding the principles it endorses (and that, merely for having been violated before by “corrupt, traitors to the people and thieving” other governments, is how the popular vote favored with its hope another party, the left), the recourse is to “reform it” which means, in the absurd argot of these lefties, to make it adequate to its main interest: let what perpetuates them in power be the law itself, which additionally indicates that the dictator –elected rather by successive disappointments than by the convictions of the electors- is not very sure of his people.

 However, given the declared good intentions of these populist leaders, and since we are so naive that we believe in them, we might wonder why these amendments, promoted by these presidents to reform the constitutions in their countries, intend to reappoint a person (i.e., the president himself) and not the party he represents and through whose program he came to power? Why not continue with the election system that was successful in democratically placing in government a representative of the interests of the majority? The changes they seek to introduce only succeed in exalting the figure and not the ideas of the party that the leader represents, which in any case involves paying political messiahnism in its strictest sense. In short, that the constitutional amendments of perpetual re-election are the most expedient road for eternal hero-worshiping in Latin America. Clearly, a significant sector of Honduran society is not in agreement with such a project for the future, especially if coming from the hand of an old liberal origin “oligarch” now purified (by previous Venezuelan anointing oil) by the ideas of the extreme left. No, the man was ambidextrous, and it seems that many in Honduras do not like such ambiguities.

 Illustration: cartoon taken from Martha Colmenares’s blog

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Merciful silence

higiene-de-la-ciudad

Jul 10, 2009

During the past week, the ringing of doorbells has not taken a break, nor have tenants. Several times a day (everyday) public health inspectors show up with their flashlights and their clipboards to review possible sources of mosquitoes, searching every inch of the homes in my Centro Habana neighborhood. Shortly after, the inspectors’ inspector comes, to verify that the first one did it right, and that he signed the form where the date of the visit and the corresponding observations appear; he also signs and makes notes. A little later, the boys of the Youth Work Army (EJT) come, that is how they do their compulsory military service, also reviewing and fumigating with a dense petroleum smoke in order to get rid of the terrible insects. Later on, the officials come to verify that your house has been sprayed. But all does not end there: when you think that nobody else will be calling at your door, the doorbell rings again, and the people from the medical health service show up, doing a “screening” to see if there is any fever, so you and everyone in your house must place under your arm a thermometer that has traveled through all the armpits in the neighborhood, because your personal testimony that you are not sick is not enough. Nor do they seem to consider that you might have had a fever half an hour before, or two hours later, or that, if you did not have a “source” yesterday, you should not have one 24 hours later, unless you engage in “sowing” mosquito nurseries in your own home. But no, it is not about reasoning, but about complying with the “higher up” guidelines.

The picture I am describing here is what everyone in my building has experienced –and all those in the surrounding homes and further out- although with different nuances. For instance, I do not allow the indiscriminate entry of strangers in my home, and, in addition to not having “sources” I do not fumigate with petroleum smoke: it’s toxic, highly damaging to your health and it only eliminates adult mosquitoes…if he happens to be at home when they fumigate. Moreover, I have allergies and suffer from migraines, and it all this weren’t enough, I have the ingrained and unusual habit of questioning everything.

That is why, at my refusal to allow the constant passage of intruders littering through my house or rummaging through my private space, confronted with my permanent blocking of the smoke –which I quit six years ago, and not just for fun- contrary to the threats I received that “they were going to apply the resolution (?) to me” and, finally, faced with my decision to disconnect the doorbell in order to avoid the persistent interruptions, two delegations were sent to me. The first, consisting of a fumigator accompanied by an official “from the party,” informed me that “there is a dengue fever epidemic with over 40 confirmed cases in Centro Habana” so she asked me politely to allow my home to be fumigated, not with smoke, but with a pressurized liquid compound, an imported product applied every three months to walls in cases when, due to health concerns, people cannot leave their homes when they are fumigated. Fine, I allowed it, they did not soil my floors or my furniture, it does not stink, and the best part is that I have no mosquitoes: small advantages of civic rebellion. I inquired then about the reasons that such a dangerous epidemic had not been officially declared in the broadcast media and the little comrade from the PCC found herself trapped in confusing gibberish: she was not programmed to answer this.

The second delegation has just visited me: a young woman who introduced herself as a doctor and another person whose function I don’t know, who, thermometer in tow, came ready to stick the vitreous artifact under my armpit due to “the epidemic”. Here, I was able to glut:

“You say you are a doctor, and can you assure me that there is a dengue fever epidemic?”

“Yes, well…there are cases of dengue fever and we have orders to take everyone’s temperature.”

“I see. But it just so happens that nobody has informed me of any epidemic, that I do not use promiscuous thermometers and that I do not take orders, so you can communicate to your superiors that nobody here has a fever and that I refuse to be treated as a basic commodity.”

“But I must comply with the guidelines.”

“Fine, what are you going to do to force me to use the thermometer?”

The doctor sighed and wrote down my name (I suppose in some blacklist, one of the many blacklists in which I might appear), and I took the opportunity to glut: “If you’re a doctor I’m sure you will be able to answer, what do you, as health personnel, demand of the authorities about the lack of environmental health in which we live? Why do you hide the endemic character that the dengue fever has taken on in the Island? Why do you wait until each summer’s arrival to apply desperate measures? Why do you shut down family doctor offices when they are supposedly needed the most and have that personnel pour out on the streets to battle it out with their thermometers? Why are they still sending doctors on “missions” when they are ever more scarce to attend to Cubans? Why is it that diseases that had been eradicated in Cuba are now returning, like dengue fever, tuberculosis and others?”She, just like the previous PCC official, was not geared on how to respond to that. Moreover, it hadn’t even been conceived that anyone would question them. It is supposed that we should limit ourselves to be eternally grateful to the official zeal in caring for our health.

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So, yes, there is a dengue fever epidemic in the Cuban capital, the disease is endemic and just in one neighborhood of the most densely populated Cuban municipality there are over 40 confirmed cases. Some inspectors have told me that, in addition, there are also several dozens of influenza “A” patients hospitalized at the Institute for Tropical Medicine. I don’t know if this data is exact, or if they are trying to scare the population, but I have strong reasons to suppose it is true.

Against every principle of respect for freedom and rights, any citizen here with a fever is placed under quarantine or forced to be hospitalized. There, if he doesn’t have dengue fever, he is more likely to catch it from another sick patient, since hospitals are, in general, plagued by mosquitoes. Today, Cubans on the Island are not just seen as suffering in their own health the consequences of an irresponsible State policy that has propitiated the entry of diseases into the country but that –in addition- finds itself completely defenseless against campaigns that intend, under hypocritical propaganda of concern, behind the smoke curtain of its petroleum bazookas, the true causes of the ever more frequent epidemics in the interior of the country. Once again, the merciful silence of the authorities corrupts the health statistics of this blazing medical power.

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Latin-American vernacular theater

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Julio 9, 2009 at 18:11 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión
I do not know if this has ever happened to readers, but I can remember having attended theater productions so boring and repetitive that I became more interested in trying to figure out what was unfolding behind the scenes than on the stage show. In recent days, and in many ways, the coup d’état, removal -or whatever it is being called in various media and news agencies- orchestrated in Honduras, brings to mind such productions.

Choosing a method as retrograde as a military coup to settle differences between powers and political groups within Honduras does not constitute a surprise, however. Our mini-republics have already previously provided very strong evidence about their ability to go back in history in just fractions of seconds. It does not seem like anything new, specially to a Cuban –like this blogger- who has been around for almost 50 years in a country well versed in going back at lightning speeds to conditions that today make us look, at the height of progress, like a nineteenth century society. It does not seen like anything new to wake up on any given Sunday and, when turning on the TV, finding out that they have changed the regular programming –already quite gray- and having appear in its place the bilious contortions of a foreign country’s president protesting the coup that the (other) military and the (other) oligarchy have dealt the late-starting leftist, the Honduran president J. M. Zelaya. For a greater twist on the plot, the histrionic on guard who was sounding off –the usual Venezuelan, a messianic leadership prospect of the “new”,”made-in-Cuba” type- was making reference to a third country, not his, while denouncing the “Yankee meddling” and “the CIA scheming that was apparent in the acts”, while he incidentally dictated to all Latin Americans, including the kidnapped President in the same old story, what should be done.

When Zelaya finally reappeared before the media cameras and microphones after 24 hours, his pajamas looked impeccable. The serene image of the oligarch did not contrast with his dyed mustache and his bedroom attire, casting doubt on so many solidarity brothers who were unable to lend him even a modest guayabera before his camera appearance. I don’t know what he looked like to you, but in my personal view, that was one of the most exaggerated details in the dramatization. That, and that the Honduran foreign minister –facing her own impending abduction- also specifically sought the support of the Cuban, Venezuelan and Bolivian ambassadors, who were “beaten up” (pushed) and mistreated by the lady’s abductors when they, energetic and virile, surrounded her in order to protect her. Why was it that she would not ask for help from the representatives of Mexico, Brazil, or another Latin American country? It seems to me that it was a given that the good guys in the play were the ALBA boys. The order of appearance and the role of each actor in the cast are very important to the success of the play.

It should be clear that a coup does not seem like a joke to me at all: violence, acts of abuse, deaths and injuries, in addition to the lawlessness and lack of guarantees, but about what happened in Honduras I know a lot less than what is hiding from me in the official broadcast media, and the plot seems rather twisted. I have heard differing opinions about this one, put on stage as taking place in Central America and “monitored” (so-called disclosed) from ALBA, namely, from Chávez, but the part that, up to now, had been offered as an opportunity for a starring role to the heroes of the “Bolivarian Alternative”, despite its exalted snacks, has finally been bilked by a not always very successful actor, though sufficiently experienced indeed, and represented in major venues: the OAS. This time, it is the responsibility of the secretary general, the moderate José Miguel Insulza, also the one with a more acceptable script, to avoid tragedy: negotiation. Chávez and his gang have been discretely removed from the cast.

What happened in these past days showed that statements by Zelaya’s and his chancellor strongly contrasted with the Spartan, long-winded speeches of Chávez, Castro, and his paper maché marionettes. Chavez’s overacting was not convincing, nor the overacting of the ever-indiscrete Raúl Castro, who ended up at the scene of the meeting of the ALBA presidents, casting doubt on his equal, the young Ecuadorian Rafael Correa that he would be the next victim of a coup. Incidentally, the Ecuadorian, recently questioned about certain shady business of his brother’s, did not seem very happy with the inopportune occurrence of the old clown. Once again, the younger of the Castros went off on a tangent with a morsel in the worst of tastes, which explains why he is often not permitted to leave the farm all by his little lonesome self either.

Somehow, Zelaya’s gentle serenity strikes me as the attitude of someone who knows the whole story. I don’t know the details of the Honduran constitution, nor of all the facts surrounding this classic Latin-American buffoon theater, a pathetic imitation of the ones of yesteryear, so I cannot judge, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that the president has declared his intention to reject a future bid to run for re-election in his country’s next elections, which –according to malicious-minded people- was his intention with the constitutional reform that he was seeking after the “popular consultation” of Sunday, June 28th. Definitely, once again, the play is more interesting behind the scenes than on stage.

For now, another magnificent opportunity slips through the hands of the Cuban government to keep entertaining the people on the island. For 72 hours, many fellow countrymen may have come to think that there was something worse than living without hopes or perspectives in this kingdom left behind by the hand of God, and they even forgot, to a certain degree, the poverty spectrum that once again sifts through, accompanied by the dengue and influenza epidemics that aggravate the immediate panorama, but the effervescence has already come and gone. The much-publicized Honduran military coup has been, without a doubt, the first success in Cuban TV programming this summer, but it definitely will not have as many episodes as the government would want.

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Unilateral confession…

escuela-experimental
Julio 2, 2009 at 17:50 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión

I recently dedicated a post to the building that used to be the home of the Havana Institute of Secondary Education, which, by the way, has gotten a warm reception from several readers. Today, I want to refer to an almost unbelievable anecdote related to that same location, at the time it operated as an Experimental Basic Secondary School, and specifically about the person of its flamboyant director. I have received the information from a close credible source which I cannot reveal, but I am allowing myself to share the episode with you because it illustrates the levels of moral poverty metastasizing in the current Cuban society. I trust that the moment will come when we will be able to publicly introduce the players and dissipate any shadow of doubt that this brief incident may have created.

As the end of the school year approached, and since her son –a student in the referenced school- was finishing the ninth grade (the last year of high school in Cuba) a mother approached the school office to request, according to her rights, the review of school records, a document determining each student’s rating and the status of his revolutionary-moral-academic conditions (in that order) to pursue each specialty -whether technological, pre-university or other education- to continue his studies. Upon examining her son’s file, the woman found a recorded act of indiscipline committed by the adolescent in one of the previous years: a fight with a classmate over an eraser, a pencil or another item of little importance.

The kid’s mother, concerned because the presence of such a document could interfere with the student’s future education when applying for placement, since such a documented wrinkle would place him at a disadvantage in respect to other students, appealed to the director’s sensibilities to have the item removed, arguing that the incident was inconsequential, that it did not recur, that the student had achieved good academic results, and that, ultimately, such fights are “typical of kids that age”, that all teenagers argue or fight over menial things, etc.

The director, an Integral General Professor graduate of those early promotions known by the moniker of “The Brave Ones” because they first assumed responsibility for teaching all subjects, -be it Science or Humanities-at a secondary level, and who were forged at the old Yuri Gagarin school (in Caimito, province of Havana), propelled by the great generator of farfetched initiatives, F. Castro, the director -I repeat- only 22 years old, was inflamed by revolutionary fervor before the beleaguered mother and haughtily snapped back: “Not all kids. At that age, I was busy telling on my classmates, those who were cheating, fighting, playing hooky, and talking in class…” “that is the reason I have achieved what I have achieved. Look!” And before the astonished lady, she showed the culmination of her successful youth: her photograph during her years as a student next to the ancient and haughty commander.

I don’t know how many more “achievements” of that kind we can expect of this paradigm of the new man, pride of the revolution. To me, personally, it seems the most rampant manifestation of cynisism and opportunism in a person who occupies the highest possition as an “educator” before students and professors. But I won’t be the one to judge her. Ultimately, the time will come when things will take their rightful place: this girl will also take hers. Suffice it to remember that maxim of the Roman Law in its day, that states: unilateral confession, substitution of proof.

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