Human Rights in Cuba

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Daily Archives: April 14, 2013

The Embargo / Yusnaby Perez
Posted on April 14, 2013

Who hasn't heard of the EMBARGO? This issue is like the apple of
discord. Some cling to it to "suffocate" the Cuban government while
others plea, out of charity, for its elimination because of the
shortages suffered by Cubans. My question is: Has anyone asked what what
the Cuban opposition thinks about the United States embargo on Cuba?

Clearly, the EMBARGO has been a total failure, its main objective–to
"eliminate" the Cuban Communist dictatorship–has not been achieved and
in turn, it has served as an ally of the Castros to justify everything
that is wrong, the lack of productivity, the immobility, the
deterioration, and to maintain them in power. Is there no milk? That's
because of the blockade. Is there no rice? Blockade! Are Cubans unable
to access the Internet? The blockade and the blockade only. This embargo
or blockade, is just an excuse for the Castro brothers to not take

Fidel and Raul are not affected at all by this prohibitive law. They
have food, cars, petroleum, satellite dishes, internet, travel, they can
go to the best hotels in Cuba (I refer to them and their families). Who
is affected by the situation? We are, I am, the dissidence, the
opposition blogger, those who want freedom in Cuba, the working mother,
my neighbor on the corner.

The Cuban government has remained in power (and I have to recognize it)
because of the great support it has received from Cubans. What Cuban
will have time to think about DEMOCRACY when he spends 24 hours a day
"resolving" the meal of the day? A hungry man can not think about
freedom. Cubans have also lived more than half a century with continuous
daily brainwashing and psychologically this works. The embargo has only
benefited the government of Cuba to brutalize and close the minds of
ordinary citizens even more.

I'm not saying that the end of the EMBARGO would represent an economic
or political improvement for us, but this action would automatically put
the Cuban government on the defensive, because they would not have a
"threatening enemy" that doesn't allow them to "fulfill" their duties.
We need access to information, we need to stop people wandering around
town like zombies looking for eggs and get them to think a little about

We need a cultural flow with the American people to break those myths
that Cuban society still believes. If Havana were full of crazy
Americans, State Security, and their minion "Yohandry," would have less
time to suppress the Ladies in White. What will happen when my city is
full of gringos with dollars and no one wants to hear about convertible

The Cuban opposition is here, on the streets, living the daily miseries
and suffering as well. We have a great international support from
courageous Cubans who give us their highest loyalty from the outside,
but as the people here do not have access to the INTERNET (or to
information in general), all our work is completely invisible to the
eyes of the vast majority of people, and this my dear readers, is quite
beneficial for the Cuban government.

Why when Clinton was about to negotiate an end to the embargo Cuba did
Castro shoot down the planes of the Brothers to the Rescue? Spy planes
fly over Cuba all the time! Why did it have to be at that moment?
Because they had no interest in the end of the EMBARGO, it benefits them.

I think everyone who supports such a law is indirectly supporting the
Castro brothers, hardening the dictatorship, the prohibitions. They will
be in power as long as Cubans on the island allow it, because for Cubans
on the island the outside world is mysterious, alien, strange, unreal.

After all this time the EMBARGO shows its uselessness and today, far
from encouraging citizens to react, it is making the work of the
opposition in Cuba impossible. Having millions of people totally blind
is counterproductive to any attempt to achieve freedom. I invite the
congressional Republicans in the United States to get in contact with
Cuban dissidents who know the reality and our concerns, because Cuba is
not the same as it was in 1960.

Anyone who wants freedom for Cuba and supports this EMBARGO, is sinking
and disarming those of us here fighting to face off against the

(To be continued ..) Continue reading
Gullibility / Fernando Damaso
Posted on April 14, 2013

These days, perhaps influenced by what is happening in Venezuela (which
seems to be contagious), gullibility is having a deep impact on our
government's journalists as evidenced by various articles, whatever the
subject matter. It is a fundamental aspect of political reporting — both
foreign and domestic — as well as of articles on culture, science,
sports, business and history. Let's take a look at a few examples.

Reports on the upcoming elections in Venezuela have been about only what
the ruling party candidate says or does, completely ignoring his
opponent unless it is to attack or criticize him. When it comes to
telling only one side of a story, these "correspondents" get the gold medal.

On the domestic front everything is great. When important leaders make
appearances and ask students what they know about current world events,
the answers center on the "sacred" Cuban elections, the tense situation
on the Korean peninsula and unfailingly the "blockade" of Cuba. Are
students not interested in the country's problems?

They never fail to mention "the latest injustice in the case of the
Five," which involves the actor Danny Glover not being allowed to visit
one of them for the tenth time because he arrived unexpectedly. The
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, created to
address this issue, states that "any person included on a prisoner's
list has a right to visit him." Do Cuban prisons work this way? "The
Humanism of the Revolution is Fully Alive in the Cuban Penal System,"
reads one headline.

"Without flowers the world would be a sad place," says a farmer who
harvests them. He explains to a journalist their importance in funeral
services, adding, "Imagine someone dying and there being no flowers for
the final goodbye." Do flowers not serve other less sad purposes?
Another headline reads, "The Santiago Crematorium Now in Operation;" the
article states, "A service there will cost 340 pesos."* Have journalists
forgotten that the minimum monthly salary is no more than 240 pesos?

Another article on healthy aging states, "The expert stresses the need
for a healthy, varied and balanced diet containing fruits and vegetables
(ideally six servings a day)."* Is the journalist aware that pensions
are meager and fruits and vegetables are expensive?

I think this is more than enough to demonstrate my point. Is this to be
"our American" epidemic?**

*Translator's note: From the journal Juventud Rebelde.

**The term "our American" have been used to refer to multi-national
initiatives proposed by Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution movement. Continue reading
Companies abandon search for oil in Cuba's deep waters
Threat to Florida's environment reduced as drillers look elsewhere
By William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau
April 14, 2013

WASHINGTON -- After spending nearly $700 million over a decade, energy
companies from around the world have all but abandoned their search for
oil in deep waters off the north coast of Cuba near Florida, a blow to
the Castro regime but a relief to environmentalists worried about the
possibility of a major oil spill.

Decisions by Spain-based Repsol and other companies to drill elsewhere
greatly reduce the chances that a giant slick along the Cuban coast
would ride ocean currents to South Florida, threatening its beaches,
inlets, mangroves, reefs and multi-billion-dollar tourism industry.

The Coast Guard remains prepared to contain, skim, burn or disperse a
potential slick. And Cuban officials still yearn for a lucrative strike
that would prop up its economy. A Russian company, Zarubezhneft, is
drilling an exploratory well in shallower waters hugging the Cuban
shoreline south of the Bahamas.

But while some oil has been found offshore, exploratory drilling in deep
waters near currents that rush toward Florida has failed to reveal big
deposits that would be commercially viable to extract, discouraging
companies from pouring more money into the search.

"Those companies are saying, `We cannot spend any more capital on this
high-risk exploration. We'd rather go to Brazil, we'd rather go to
Angola, we'd rather go to other places in the world where the
technological and geological challenges are less,'" said Jorge Pinon, an
oil industry analyst at the University of Texas, who consults with U.S.
and Cuban officials as well as energy companies.,0,5594782.story Continue reading
Marco Rubio: Jay-Z Needs to Get Informed on Cuba
By Benjamin Bell
Apr 14, 2013 11:36am

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio this morning slammed Jay-Z over his recent trip
to Cuba, saying on "This Week" that the rapper needed to "get informed"
and that he missed an opportunity to meet the politically oppressed
people that live on the island nation south of Florida.

"I think Jay-Z needs to get informed. One of his heroes is Che Guevara.
Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote
extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of
African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he's
propping up," Rubio said during an interview with ABC News' Chief White
House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

"Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of
affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed,
including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and
persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political
lyrics," Rubio added. "And I think he missed an opportunity. But that's
Jay-Z's issue."
abc marco rubio this week jt 130414 wblog Marco Rubio: Jay Z Needs to
Get Informed on Cuba

After returning from Cuba last week, Jay-Z produced a new rap entitled
"Open Letter," in which he criticized politicians for questioning his
trip with his wife Beyoncé to the communist nation. The trip was
authorized by the Treasury Department under a licensed program that
encourages "meaningful contacts" with the Cuban people.

RELATED: White House Dismisses Jay-Z Song

Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, criticized current U.S. travel policy to
the island, which he said was being running by a "tyrannical regime."

"The bigger point is the travel policies. The travel policies need to
be tightened because they are being abused," Rubio said. "These are
tourist trips, and they are – what they're doing is providing hard
currency and funding so that a tyrannical regime can maintain its grip
on the island of Cuba, and I think that's wrong." Continue reading
We need a 'Dennis Rodman rule' for celebrities who travel to rogue nations
By Mike Gonzalez
Published April 11, 2013

The quiet dignity of Rosa Maria Paya was unmistakable Tuesday as she
asked the international community to pressure Cuba's government into
allowing a plebiscite on democracy and for an investigation into the
murder of her father, dissident leader Oswaldo Paya.

Her poise also offered a sharp contrast to the spectacle unfolding in
her country with a visit there by celebrity Beyonce and rapper Jay-Z.

"It would be nice if the Cuban government were peaceful and respectful,"
she told a crowd at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington,
D.C., "but that's not true because state security of this government
calls my family's house to say 'I'm going to kill you.' They did it
before my father's death and they still do it." She was flanked by
pro-democracy campaigners from left to right and by Washington Post
editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

"I'm sorry, but things are not nice right now in my country. The Cuban
people are in a real dangerous situation," she said. The international
community must "stop the impunity of the government inside the island."

Oswaldo Paya, a truly audacious dissident who endured decades of threats
and insults against himself and his family, was killed in a car crash
last July 22. The driver, Spanish politician Angel Carromero, says the
car was rear-ended by a state security vehicle chasing them. The Cuban
government denies the charge. Take your pick.

The courage of Cuba's dissidents as they brave incarceration, beatings
and assassination to stand up for what we take for granted in this
country is one of the untold stories of our times. What we are seeing on
our screens, instead, is the disgraceful free propaganda that Beyonce
and her husband Jay-Z are giving to Cuba's tormentors.

If they knew the racism that is practiced on a daily basis against
Cuba's blacks, especially Afro-Cuban dissidents, the couple would have
perhaps thought twice about going to the island nation.

They could, for example, have watched this video released just last week
by the Castro regime to see how the leader of The Ladies in White
dissident movement, Berta Soler, is depicted as an ape just because
she's black.

Or, before donning a Che Guevara T-shirt, Jay-Z might have contemplated
that the great revolutionary once said of blacks, "The n***** is
indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the
European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent."

We need a Dennis Rodman Rule, named after the exotic erstwhile
basketball star who went to Pyongyang to fete the dictator Kim Jong Eun
just weeks before the North Korean threatened to blow the world to
smithereens in a fit of pique. The rule should be: celebrities who
disregard the lives of millions by celebrating those who torment them
deserve only our contempt upon their return home.

Our reverence and support should be saved for the Rosa Maria Payas and
Berta Solers of this world. The long-suffering dissidents in Cuba -- and
elsewhere -- deserve nothing less.

Mike Gonzalez is Vice President, Communications, at The Heritage
Foundation. He is a former Bush administration official, Wall Street
Journal editorial writer and foreign correspondent. Continue reading
Opera de la Calle and a Show for Beyoncé
April 12, 2013
Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES — Beyonce's trip to Cuba was an attention grabbing event,
despite the singer's request for discretion. Nobody in Havana talked
about anything else as they watched her walk down Obispo Street, eat at
the La Guarida restaurant and try to slip out through the back entrance
of an art gallery.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the most radical right-wing exiles and
their representatives in Congress began threatening to apply the full
weight of the law if they discovered the singer had visited Cuba without
permission to travel here – as is required of US citizens by their

In the middle of her dash across the city, runnning here and there, I
got a phone call from Ulises Aquino, the director of the "Opera de la
Calle" (Opera in the Street). He was informing me that they would be
reopening their space because Beyonce had asked to see their show. He
asked me to be very discrete with that information, not wanting crowds
to show up. Only a small group of special guests would be invited.

For me the big news was that the government was going to allow the
company to perform in the Cabildo, a venue that had been closed for
months for alleged "illicit enrichment." Actually, they also had a
restaurant there that enabled them to pay about $80 USD a month to each
member of the opera.

The closing of the facility had left the musicians, singers, dancers,
the lighting crew and sound engineers with their state wages of $17 a
month, while all the waitresses and cooks ended up on the street.

I thought this may have been a chance happening or "manifest destiny"
because their space, El Cabildo, had been closed down on an evening when
a delegation from the Pastors for Peace (a pro-Cuban government
humanitarian group from the United States) was watching a performance
and now they were reopening it with the arrival of a famous singer from
that same country.

However, when I mentioned it at home, no one attached any importance to
the issue. Instead, everyone asked me to take them to see Beyonce – so I
ended up accompanying the four women in my family to go see her. I was
too late in understanding why Aquino had asked me for the utmost discretion.

Things changed at noon on Friday, April 5. I got a got another phone
call informing me that the show would be at the Arenal Cinema. I figured
that bad weather must have forced them from the Cabildo, a charming but
out-of-doors facility unprotected from downpours.

At that point I still didn't know that the storm caused that had caused
the change of venue had more to do with the nature of men than with
Mother Nature. Nevertheless, at the door of the theater I found Aquino
with a small group of people, all obviously enraged.

I went up to them and they started telling me that they had coordinated
with the Ministry of Culture to reopen Cabildo to hold a show for
Beyonce. However several officials had appeared later that morning
telling them they couldn't use the center.

According to Aquino, he had been told that — by direct order of the
Havana Provincial Government and the Communist Party of the capital —
that the Cabildo was to remain closed no matter who had authorized its
reopening and despite whoever was supposedly coming to see the show.

That's how it ended for those of us invited to the Arenal – sitting on
iron or plastic chairs in the middle of semi-dilapidated hall with
cracked walls and ceilings. I thought that with a little luck, and if
nothing fell on her head, Beyonce would at least experience a truly
"bohemian" atmosphere.

At around 9:00 p.m. — without the singer, but precisely as scheduled —
the show started…an hour of music, song and dance that fused cultures
and rhythms as diverse as African religious songs, opera and rock.

Beyonce missed it (they say she went to another concert), but we'll
never know if it was merely by chance or if someone saw it fit to
discourage her from seeing a group of artists who, right now, are
completely pissed off.

In the meantime, while some authorities expend their energies on the
crusade against the "Opera in Street," public transportation is still
highly deficient, trash is piling up in the streets, inspectors are
becoming corrupt, and hoarders are emptying the stores.

(*) An authorized HT translation of the original published in Spanish by
BBC Mundo Continue reading

Health Care in Cuba is "Free" but… April 11, 2013 Francisco Castro

HAVANA TIMES — One of the first things one sees when arriving in the Emergency Room of the "Manuel Fajardo" Clinic Surgical University Hospital, is a huge poster… Continue reading

Health Care in Cuba is "Free" but…
April 11, 2013
Francisco Castro

HAVANA TIMES — One of the first things one sees when arriving in the
Emergency Room of the "Manuel Fajardo" Clinic Surgical University
Hospital, is a huge poster in which you can read: "Your health care is
free, but it costs…", followed by a list of some of the services we are
given free, with their prices.

I arrived in this place after feeling sick the whole day with a couple
of vomits and a fever between 100 (38 C) and 102 (39 C) degrees. The
intern doctors who examined me, decided, after the physical examination
and an x-ray, that I had pneumonia and should be immediately admitted.

Before arriving in this facility I had gone to the Calixto García
Hospital from which I ran away, because they ordered an urgent complete
CBC test, and that my temperature should be taken in the infirmary,
since, if it was over 100 degrees, I would have to be given a shot with

The fact is that at the infirmary, the thermometer was broken, and at
the clinic lab, there was a long line of upset people, while the lab
technician held a cheerful telephone conversation, indifferent to any

At the "Fajardo", the attention in the first stage was a little better,
but it all returned to what is normal here, when the admission process
began. To sum up, I was laid out in the waiting room, trembling with
fever, with a vein of my right arm channeled, for about an hour and a
half, just because no one had confirmed that my bed was ready.

When I found the stretcher-bearer, I told him I had sheets of my own to
make my bed, so he took me to my room. It was 9:45 in the evening.

One of the rights of the admitted patients that was immediately violated
in my case, was the one to be received by nursing staff. Once the
stretcher-bearer showed me my bed, no one else took care of me.

Deadbeat due to the fever, I managed to make my bed and could hardly eat
some of the food a friend had brought to me, and then I fell into an
intermittent sleep because of the fever tremors and the concern that the
little intravenous did not come out of my vein.

I was abruptly waken up from that half-conscious state by the nurse on
duty, who pulled my channeled arm to give me some medicine. No good
evening, no please, and even less the name of the medicine he was giving
me. That was close to midnight.

The next morning, it was the same thing. The nurse, after giving me the
medicine, took that uncomfortable thing off my arm, without a word.

There I was, lost, without knowing the times for the meals, without
knowing the daily routines, each of which I discovered gradually, by
asking my roommates.

When the doctors arrived, the treatment changed. And so did the
diagnosis. Three students and two professors examined me in that round,
and they all agreed I did not have pneumonia.

In the x-rays, they could indeed see some little spots in the lungs,
that would have to be studied by carrying out a TAC (A computerized
Tomography). But given the lack of any external breathing symptom, and
the visible congestion in all of my body, besides the symptoms that made
me go to the hospital the day before, they decided that mine was a case
of food poisoning, which requires no hospitalization.

The Fajardo Hospital.

I was asked if I had recently undergone any checkup, and given my
negative answer, they decided to run a complete one, including the TAC.
It was Friday.

So, I would have to stay the entire weekend at the hospital, waiting for
the repair of the TAC device, which was out of order at the time.

Summary: a tremendous panic; a hospital bed unnecessarily occupied; my
work team going crazy, assuming my tasks; my friends mobilized, keeping
me company and taking me food (we already know what to expect from the
food at the hospitals in Cuba); a lot of trouble to bathe without a
shower, with the toilet stopped up, and with cockroaches roaming around;
surrounded by people with breathing infections, who coughed painfully
and expectorated constantly; taking the chance of getting infected.

Everything for a new bad diagnosis.

What's the objective then, of the posters reading: "Your health care is
free, but it costs…", which we also see as television spots? Does the
fact that it costs nothing to us, but to the State, as they let us know,
justify the mistreatment and the wrong diagnosis?

Sometimes, I wonder how life in Cuba would be, without the subsidies. I
know that many people – including me – would see themselves affected,
but, for how long? Would the attention to people be different? Could
money warrant a treatment worthy of human beings? Continue reading
Jay-Z Blasted by '21 Jump Street' Director Over Cuba Trip
By Greg Gilman | Reuters – Fri, Apr 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES ( - Jay-Z responded to critics of his Cuba trip
with a song called "Open Letter" and now "21 Jump Street" director Phil
Lord has responded to the song with an open letter of his own, blasting
the rapper for "being a bad artist."

Although Jay-Z's Cuban excursion with his wife, Beyoncé, and both their
mothers was approved by the U.S. Treasury Department, Lord - the son of
a Cuban refugee - told the Huffington Post that the rapper's newest
single upset him to the point where he had to speak his mind.

Read the entire letter below:

An Open Letter to Jay-Z

Dear Mr. Z,

I just heard your new track, "Open Letter," released today. It's got
everything I love about your music: looping internal rhymes, an
infectious beat, and imagery that draws me into a kind of swaggering,
defiant fantasy.

Speaking of defiant fantasies, I've been following news of your recent
trip to the island nation of Cuba. As the son of a Cuban refugee, and
cousin and nephew to many Cubans on the island, I cringe when Americans
visit Cuba for a fun island vacation. For one thing it's illegal (which
nobody seems to care about), but more importantly, it's either ignorant
of or calloused to the struggles of Cubans on the island. I actually
encourage my friends to travel to Cuba, to bear witness to one of the
great tragedies of our time, to learn about the real Cuba, to put a
human face on the caricature of Americans that the Castros propagate.
Exchange and travel between our two nations should be a catalyst for
change, as it has been even in my own family. But for me, Cuba is not
the place to have a fun, sexy, vacation. Because for Cubans on the
island and living elsewhere, it's not.

So when I heard of your visit, I thought to myself, Jay Z seems like a
smart, thoughtful guy. He doesn't realize what he's walking into. He
probably just thinks Cuba is a chic place to relax with the family. He
probably just doesn't know the things I know.

He likely doesn't know that the Cuban tourism industry is run by the
Cuban military, so when he spends money at an officially sanctioned
hotel, or restaurant, he is directly funding the oppressors of the Cuban

He doesn't know that most Cubans have poor access to independent news
sources, the internet, books, and food.

He doesn't know that Cuba has two health systems, one for the
well-connected, and one for everyone else.

He doesn't know that before Castro, the Cuban peso traded one-to-one
with the dollar, and that since then, the Castros have raided the
nation's coffers and introduced widespread poverty to a once prosperous

He doesn't know that my ancestors fought to free Cuba from Spain, and to
set up a democracy to ensure that they would always be free.

He doesn't know that in spite of those dreams, my mother and her family
fled for their lives from this regime way back in 1960, as did *two
million* other Cubans.

He doesn't know about the thousands of people executed by firing squads
led by sexy t-shirt icon Che Guevara.

He doesn't know about the dissidents, artists, and librarians that
currently rot in Cuba's prisons, and the thousands more who live in fear.

He doesn't know about Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an Afro-Cuban dissident who
died in a Cuban prison in 2010 after an 80-day hunger strike.

He doesn't know that a U.S. Citizen, Alan Gross, is currently serving a
15-year sentence in a Cuban prison for providing phones and computers to
the members of the Cuban Jewish community.

He doesn't know that all attempts by our government and private citizens
to secure his release have been scoffed at.

He has likely forgotten about all those who have died in the Florida
Straits, trying to float on makeshift boats to freedom.

He doesn't know that contrary to popular understanding, Amnesty
International reports that repression of dissidents in Cuba is actually
on the rise.

He doesn't know that when an international music luminary shows up in
Cuba, his presence is unwittingly used as propaganda to support the regime.

He doesn't know that artists in Cuba, with whom he was supposedly having
a cultural exchange, serve under the close supervision of the
government, and don't enjoy the freedom to defiantly name check the
President, call out a few senators, threaten to buy a kilo of cocaine
just to spite the government, or suggest that they will follow up their
purchase with a shooting spree, as rapped about in "Open Letter."

He doesn't know that just because our country applies a different, some
say hypocritical policy to China, it doesn't make either regime any less
oppressive, or any more acceptable.

He doesn't know that when people say "I've got to visit Cuba before it
gets ruined," I think to myself, "It's already ruined. And by the way,
ruined by what? freedom of speech? walls that don't crumble? shoes? Do
you mean ruin Cuba? Or ruin your fashionable vacation in Cuba?"

He doesn't know that when I really start to think about all this, I get
so mad I can't sleep.

He doesn't know that when he's wearing that hat, smoking that coveted
contraband cigar, he looks like a dupe.

He doesn't know how much good he could be doing in Cuba, for Cubans,
instead. Bearing witness, supporting artistic freedom, listening.

He doesn't realize that as someone privileged to be born in a free
society, one in which someone could come from nothing and become a
celebrated music, sports, fashion, business and political mogul, it's
not only his good luck to be able to bring to light the needs of the
less fortunate, it's his obligation.

But then, Jay-Z, I heard your new song, and paid attention to the lyrics.

I heard you bragging about your "White House clearance."

I heard you talk about how much you enjoy Cuban cigars.

And I heard you tell the President I voted for, "You don't need this
shit anyway, chill with me on the beach."

You reject the responsibility to speak up for an oppressed people, even
while you take up your own cause with gusto.

Then I figured it out.

You actually know all of this stuff, you just don't care.

That's not just being a bad citizen, or a bad neighbor.

It's being a bad artist.

It's Nihilism with a beat.

-Phil Lord;_ylt=A2KJ2PZacWpRjHwAcrjQtDMD Continue reading
Cuban Populace with HIV/AIDS Lacks Food / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada
Posted on April 13, 2013

Havana, Cuba -For more than three consecutive months, the Cuban populace
that lives with HIV/AIDS has noticed an absence of the nutritive
products graciously granted by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS of the
United Nations.

The nutritive products have not been coming to any of the established
distribution points in the country since the latter part of last year.
Leaders of the commercial entities respond before the questions posed by
the affected that they do not know the why behind the absence of
supplies and even less why there is such a delay in the distribution of
the products.

In Cuba, more than 18,000 Cubans live with this malady and the majority
receive important help which alleviates the lack of fats and meat
available to the population. This isn't the first time that help has
disappeared without an explanation or cause, but the important thing to
remember is what the benefit of it means for each HIV+ Cuban.

Many in the world are unaware of the nutritive inequities that exist on
the island with regard to this malady. The foodstuffs that are received
dwindle in quantity and weight depending on the region where they live
and in accordance with the pre-established diet designed by the health
system that was previously fulfilled by the "canasta básica" or "basic
basket" granted by the régime.

We are mentioning this because we have received differing declarations
from information sources throughout the island. The HIV/AIDS population
in Havana is the most benefitted in terms of nutrition while the other
infected populace in the provinces only receive half of what is
distributed in the capital.

The subject has been discussed in different instances but never has
there been a response or a solution that benefits every Cuban that
struggles with this disease.

One could ask how many people are invested in this cause? Who would be
to blame in this occasion? Or is it that even International
Organizations headquartered in Havana cannot ensure and protect the
interests they represent? The questions are many and I fear that they
will continue unanswered.

As I write this note, I think only of that population, that while
government officials enjoy meals in abundance similar to those
representatives of international organizations headquartered in Havana,
many in that population don't even have something to swallow their
medicines with, while others replace milk with water only to cite an

The situation might vary in different regions, yet if we discussed
nutrition in the six penitentiary establishments that confine more than
500 recluses of both sexes with this disease, the discussion would never

Let this article serve as a voice for each person who lives with
HIV/AIDS and allow it to resonate and reach the ear of someone who is
really interested in these conditions. The scarcity and lack of food
access to the population affected by this disease cannot be shunned or
set aside.

Translated by: Ylena Zamora-Vargas

25 February 2013 Continue reading
Beyonce and Jay-Z: Saving Communism?
Apr 13, 2013
Click if you like this column!

The communist regime in Cuba was just about to come tumbling down,
ending decades of dictatorship and opening the way for freedom and
democracy. But before that could happen, Jay-Z and Beyonce took a trip
to the island. So Cuba's despotism can expect to survive another 50 years.

Well, maybe I exaggerate. It's just possible that the musical couple's
presence or absence was utterly irrelevant to Cuba's future. Americans
have somewhat less control over the island than we like to imagine.

The U.S. embargo of Cuba has been in effect since 1962, with no end in
sight. Fidel Castro's government has somehow managed to outlast the
Soviet Union, Montgomery Ward, rotary-dial telephones and 10 American

The boycott adheres to the stubborn logic of governmental action. It was
created to solve a problem: the existence of a communist government 90
miles off our shores. It failed to solve that problem. But its failure
is taken as proof of its everlasting necessity.

If there is any lesson to be drawn from this dismal experience, though,
it's that the economic quarantine has been either 1) grossly ineffectual
or 2) positively helpful to the regime.

The first would not be surprising, if only because economic sanctions
almost never work. Iraq under Saddam Hussein? Nope. Iran? Still waiting.
North Korea? Don't make me laugh.

What makes this embargo even less promising is that we have so little
help in trying to apply the squeeze. Nearly 200 countries allow trade
with Cuba. Tourists from Canada and Europe flock there in search of
beaches, nightlife and Havana cigars, bringing hard currency with them.
So even if starving the country into submission could work, Cuba hasn't
starved and won't anytime soon.

Nor is it implausible to suspect that the boycott has been the best
thing that ever happened to the Castro brothers, providing them a
scapegoat for the nation's many economic ills. The implacable hostility
of the Yankee imperialists also serves to align Cuban nationalism with
Cuban communism. Even Cubans who don't like Castro may not relish being
told what to do by the superpower next door.

Normally it is no business of the federal government where private
citizens want to spend their vacation time. But among those who claim to
speak for the Cuban exile community, it is anathema for anyone to visit
the island as long as the communists hold power. Sen. Marco Rubio,
R-Fla., was among those lambasting the couple for daring to venture
where he doesn't want them to go.

Rubio claimed that people who make visits to Cuba "either don't realize
or don't care that they're essentially funding the regime's systematic
trampling of people's human rights." Such activity, he said, "provides
money to a cruel, repressive and murderous regime."

That may be true. But U.S. law allows Americans to visit the island
according to certain rules enforced by the Treasury Department, and some
500,000 people from the U.S. go each year. The rules for cultural trips
were tightened last year after Rubio griped that they were too lax.

"The trip was handled according to a standard licensing procedure for
federally approved 'people to people' cultural tours to the island,"
reported Reuters, "and the power couple received no special treatment,
said Academic Arrangements Abroad, the New York-based group that
organized the trip."

When it comes to sending money to a "cruel, repressive, murderous
regime," Rubio's outrage is strangely selective. The same accusation
could be laid against anyone who travels to China, Vietnam or Burma --
all of which are open to American visitors, as far as Washington is

Our willingness to trade with them stems from the belief that economic
improvement and contact with outsiders will foster liberalization rather
than retard it. But the opposite approach is supposed to produce this
kind of progress in Cuba.

Do trade and tourism work to weaken repression? The evidence is mixed.
But our attempted economic strangulation of Cuba has been an emphatic
bust. We keep trying it, and the communist government remains in full
control, making a mockery of our strategy.

The U.S. government has been tireless in pursuing a policy that does not
look better with time. It could benefit from the advice of W.C. Fields,
who said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up.
No use being a damned fool about it." Continue reading
Jurgen Klinsmann: Cuba standing in the way of Osvaldo Alonso on the USMNT
April 13, 2013
Jeremiah Oshan

SEATTLE — If Jurgen Klinsmann had his way, Osvaldo Alonso would have
already been called into United States national team camp.

Unfortunately, the Cuban federation has not exactly been cooperative in
accomodating Alonso's release, Klinsmann said during halftime of the
Sounders-Revolution game on Saturday.

"We need their help in a certain way to get him cleared," Klinsmann told
reporters. "It is a more of an administrative and governmental issue,
which we on the technical side have no influence over."

READ: Sounders, Revs finish in scoreless draw in Seattle

Although Alonso became a US citizen last year, he has appeared for the
Cuban national team in a FIFA-sanctioned competition and is therefore
ineligible to play for another country. But since he defected in 2008,
Cuba have not allowed him to play for their team, and Alonso has
requested a waiver to allow for a switch.

If it does happen, Klinsmann would be more than happy to make use of
another defensive midfielder.

"Every player that you follow and plays on a consistent high level is of
interest to us," Klinsmann said. "I think Ozzie did that over the past
two years. He really made himself known as a strong No. 6, a very good
team player, a player that is always there for his teammates in a role
similar to Kyle Beckerman at Real Salt Lake.

"You know you just hope you can make something happen for him. We can't
bring him in until this topic is solved."

READ: Despite U.S. citizenship, Alonso still a long way from US call

Alonso is, unsurprisingly, hoping something happens sooner than later.

"I know the situation is complicated and that there has been
conversation," he said through a translator. "My only hope is that
through the work that is happening right now that I'll have a chance to
play for the national team."

Alonso's performance on Saturday surely didn't do anything to change
Klinsmann's mind. Alonso completed a season-high 108 of his 116 passes
and was by far the most active player on the field in the Sounders' 0-0
tie with the New England Revolution.

"He helped recover a lot of ball," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said.
"He was good and he was active. We talked about that, with that always
being the hallmark of his game and never deviating. He did his job. He
won the ball, played it on and guys have to do their job from there." Continue reading
Posted on Sunday, 04.14.13

Cuban activist Payá Acevedo carries on her father's work
By Juan Carlos Chavez

If there is something Rosa María Payá Acevedo remembers perfectly it is
having been raised in a home where every member of the family could
express their ideas and thoughts openly.

Gags were not allowed; Christian values were welcome.

In that atmosphere — contrary to the zero-tolerance policy imposed by
the Cuban government — was raised the daughter of the well-respected
late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, founder of the Movimiento
Cristiano de Liberación (Christian Liberation Movement; MCL, for its
Spanish acronym).

Born in Havana on Jan. 10, 1989, Payá Acevedo has turned into the most
busy and visible face of the MCL. Her active role and leadership gained
force recently after the automobile crash that killed her father and
Harold Cepero, a good friend of the family, in Bayamo on July 22, 2012.

She blames the Cuban State Security agents for her father's death and
has called for an independent investigation. She is now in Miami as part
of an international trip to spread the message that Cubans need
democracy and unity of purpose.

"We need to push together,'' Payá declared last week during her first
formal appearance at the University of Miami. "It is time to push in the
same direction."

Her Miami visit follows that of Havana journalist and blogger Yoani
Sánchez, who spent several days in the capital of Cuban exiles. Like
Sánchez, the Cuban government had been denying Payá Acevedo permission
to travel abroad until February, a month after a reform of the island's
migration system removed the requirement for the much hated "exit permit."

With her calm voice and serene but decisive demeanor, Payá Acevedo is,
at age 24, one of the most respected voices of the new Cuban internal
dissident movement.

She is the second of three siblings — (Oswaldo, 25, and Reinaldo, 21) —
and the only daughter of a fervently Catholic and exemplary married
couple. Her father registered at the University of Havana to major in
physics, but, after speaking openly about his religious beliefs and his
rejection of Marxism, he had to abandon his studies. He eventually went
to night school to study telecommunications. Her mother, Ofelia, was
always with her husband since the early days of the MCL, in 1988.

Payá Acevedo learned the rigors of a Cuba that barely survived the tough
economic era known as Special Period following the collapse of the
former Soviet Union. She was only 12 years old when the European
Parliament honored her father with the prestigious 2002 Sakharov Prize
for Freedom of Thought. She had yet to become a teenager when, every
morning, her house would have its facade painted with government slogans
carrying messages such as "Payá: CIA agent."

Persistent and careful with details, Payá Acevedo — like her father —
studied physics at the University of Havana, where she graduated with
high grades in 2011.

Yet the fact that she was the daughter of an opposition couple turned
out to be uncomfortable for the Castro brothers' government and this
reality finally caught up with her.

Since then, she has been the target of numerous obstacles from Cuban
authorities. To this day, she has been unable to obtain a job in a
country where virtually all sectors are controlled by the government. In
December, she was denied permission to take part in an academic program
in Chile shortly before the migration reforms began.

She had planned to attend an International Conference on Politics Theory
and Public Action at the University of Miguel de Cervantes from Jan. 8
to 15.

Payá Acevedo said that she had a Chilean visa and had complied with all
the rules of the law to receive a final exit permit in Havana.

Yet the government denial was perhaps the expected blow due to her acute
criticism and bold statements on the state of freedoms on the island.
However, the repression and the threats against her and her family have
not undermined her determination and dignity.

Recently Payá Acevedo denounced that the Cuban government was arresting
peaceful dissidents and human rights activists who collected signatures
to support two MCL initiatives seeking more openness in the country.

One of those initiatives is a bill on National Reunion also known as the
Heredia Project, a proposal to allow Cubans to travel freely. The other,
known as The Path of the People, asks for the release of political
prisoners, the reinstatement of basic freedoms and to call for a
Constitutional Assembly.

In the middle of February, Cuban authorities allowed Payá Acevedo to
travel temporarily to Spain. From there, she went to Switzerland to
attend a human rights congress. The tour continued through other
countries in Europe and to the United States.

Friendly and determined to uncover the truth behind her father's and
Cepero's deaths, Payá Acevedo not only has gradually become a fighter
for the rights of all Cubans but her contribution has also been focused
on opening more doors to exchange viewpoints.

"There are already enough Russias and Chinas in the world," Payá said.
"We don't want that future for our island.

Read more here: Continue reading
Zapata lives
Zapata lives
No place to live
No place to live