Archive for October, 2012

Concerts and Disconcertions

Image from the Estado de SATS website.

Last Friday evening, October 19th,  a new concert in support for Demanda Ciudadana por Otra Cuba (Citizen Demand for Another Cuba) was held in the usual venue for the Estado de SATS Project in Havana. This time, the young rappers of Ruta 11 and Estudiantes sin Semillas (Seedless Students) were in charge of the performance, which took place in that usual lively and peaceful place.

In addition to the enthusiasm and sincerity of these young amateurs and audience and their overall responsiveness, there were two distinctive notes: 1) The all too usual arrests of  several people who had planned on attending, intercepted on the street, some of them first taken to a  criminal investigation center in the municipality of Playa, and later confined to the dungeons of the stations at Santiago de Las Vegas (Boyeros Municipality) and Infanta and Manglar (Cerro) overnight; and 2) The panic  that was unleashed by the mobilization of  operative’s vehicles in the streets near the venue of the concert, where musicians and audience loudly chanted the chorus of the show’s final song: “Freedom , freedom, freedom! … “. Obviously, the wolf pack [the authorities] was afraid we would pour into the streets with such a dangerous clamor, so they rushed to cover the exits to block us. There are no words as subversive to the servile slave’s mind as that of FREEDOM.

Each concert, as well as the growing consensus the Demanda Ciudadana wins over across different social sectors, causes confusion among repression forces, and that evidently frightens the dictatorship.  Is the system so fragile that it gets afraid in the face of what an esteemed Cuban intellectual termed “the vast minority”? Do the aging leaders feel so weak that they send out their bigwigs to try to boycott the budding spirit of freedom? It’s all in vain.  That other Cuba is already underway.

October 22 2012

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Venezuela: May Hope Never Die

Capriles is still a strong hope for a free Venezuela. Photo from the Internet

There were no surprises. Chavez’s victory in the recent Venezuelan elections, though not at all “strong” or “overwhelming”, as the leader would have liked and as the official Cuban media insists on calling it, was the most likely forecast. However, the Capriles’s undeniable summoning power and his achieving 44% at the polls, the highest in the whole process of the “Bolivarian” revolution, shows that the opposition is a consolidated force to be reckoned with in that nation. Henrique Capriles remains, after the presidential election, the candidate of hope, the promise of a possible future.

I, of course, wished Capriles his victory. Not only to turn another irksome page of Cuba’s begging and dependency under the setting of the Castro totalitarianism, but to enjoy the end of another threat to democracy in this hemisphere rolled into the person of the arrogant Venezuelan president. I’m of the thinking that prolonging Chavez’s stay in the presidential armchair will not save the Cuban regime’s from its defeat, and that the solution to the Cuban problem must come from the hands of Cubans on all shores and not from external junctures, though they can apply their influence for or against the speed of the decomposition of the dictatorship. Chavez, after all, is an annoying accident that will leave the stage eventually. Maybe nature will complete what the opposition could not accomplish this time.

Without trying to lay down guidelines, I believe, nonetheless, that democratic Venezuelans should not be discouraged by the results of these elections. Rather, they should understand how much they have achieved and advanced. It would be wrong to leave the country and allow the would-be dictator to continue squeezing it at will; it would be a shame to solve it by taking flight or feeling defeated. Some Venezuelan friends have written to me with deep regret, announcing that now they would leave the country. Please don’t. Let good Venezuelans look through Cuba’s mirror: stampedes are a relief for dictatorships and only succeed in extending their time in power. Don’t become, like us, a country of migrating mourners, and don’t allow them to wrench from you, as the Castros did to Cubans, what is rightfully yours.

Yesterday, around midnight, I got a message from my friend Antonio Rodiles on my cell phone.  It read: “I thought Venezuela would turn into a democracy first, but it seems that we will be the ones…” It was an encouraging message that reminded me of the importance of keeping the faith and fighting for what we want.  Democracy continues to be the dream that Venezuelans and Cubans pursue.  I would tell free Venezuelans today: Don’t dismay, only you can prevent the triumph of authoritarianism… the polls spoke loud and clear about you.  May it be so.

October 8 2012

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Where are the CDR Revolutionaries?

This image illustrates how the official newspaper “Rebel Youth” sees a CDR “fiesta”

As has been the trend in recent years, the once nurtured and animated Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) “fiestas” on September 27, have been added to the list of Revolutionary anniversaries on the way to extinction.

Just by chance, for personal reasons, I was crossing the city last Thursday and could observe how great apathy had taken over the blocks of the capital, substituting a scandalous silence for those old festivities where CDR neighbors shared a pot of stew in the street, made with officially allocated scraps (some pig’s head or other minor portion of the animal) and vegetables collected from among the neighbors, seasoned thanks to the enthusiasm of the neighborhood’s Revolutionaries, along with a sweet cake and the everlasting and fetid mass-produced rum.

There is nothing so eloquent as this capital now, dark and silent, on the eve of the most popular Revolutionary celebration, which until recently honored the founding of an organization conceived in power, so that Cubans could betray each other and consecrate the surveillance-based police state in service to a dictatorship which, like every autocracy, despises its followers.

Nobody dresses up the blocks with garlands and multi-colored paper flags, and just a few faithful persist in hanging a Cuban flag from their balconies, because for decades they were led to believe that being Cuban and being in the CDR were the same thing; only now are they beginning to learn that they signify the exact opposite.

The few isolated fires I saw were a pathetic specter of past revelry, simply a pretext for the neighborhood drunks, whom nobody wants, to be as wasted as they want in the streets and to mollify their empty stomachs with a little hot broth.

A brief look at the signs shows that all the mass demonstrations that gave a scenic valor to the Castros’ Revolution have disappeared: the marches of the “combatants,” voluntary labor, CDR guard duty, marathon blood donations, collections of raw materials, and more recently these parties.

The extended decline betrays that popular sympathy for the dictatorship is neither spontaneous nor free. I don’t know where Havana’s Revolutionaries were this September 27, but clearly they realize they no longer have much to celebrate.

October 1 2012

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