martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for?


The potential complications 
of the renewed diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.

A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come.

The climactic hallmark was on December 17th, as a fulfilled promise on the day of San Lázaro Babalú Ayé, with two simultaneous speeches running in parallel windows of millions of web-connected computers all around the world except in Cuba: in one, the democratically-elected American president Barack Obama; in the other, the dynastically-appointed Cuban general Raul Castro. The former wearing the civil elegance of his suit and a hi-tech reading device; the latter in military uniform, rescuing a picture from his violent years before the Revolution in the fabulous fifties, and reading from pile of paper. Quite a pluribus duo, without liberty but with diplomacy for all.

Calls immediately exhausted the batteries of my Chinese mobile. Everybody rushed for a quote about the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era. Only The New York Times was involved enough as to bet on a series of op-eds published weeks in advance (by the way, for over a decade now they also have prêt-à-porter the obituary of Fidel Castro by Anthony De Palma). Some American Cubanologists, like Peter Kornbluh and David E. Guggenheim were conveniently located on the Island that noon. The popular reaction was overwhelming, they claimed. Tears should have come to my eyes, according to the emotional interrogation imposed to me until my smartphone was silenced.

A silence that lasts until today.

Barack Obama told the truth in his allocution: “The United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Raul Castro lied with impassive impunity: “We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.” But this is still not the case.

It’s too early to pretend to demonstrate my skepticism. Or cynicism. As a good Castro subject I know that time on the Island means not money, but more system’s status quo. To keep begging for US bank credits, the Revolution first needs to buy time. This is what biopolitics is all about. A family fighting to secure a second Castro generation in complete control after Fidel’s and Raul’s eventual deaths. Necropolitics.

Obama’s hope was to reopen an embassy in Havana ahead of the Americas summit on April 10th, as he declared to Reuters on March 2nd. In fact, the US Interests Section in Havana has been for years the largest diplomatic mission in Cuba, and no special budget needs to be considered to reestablish the formal status lost in 1961.

Yet, Castro’s hope might be to push back the US engagement to an intolerable limit of stagnation. Havana insists now that the term “normalization” will remain an absurdity while the US keeps Cuba on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. A list currently under expedited revision, as to the State Department to please the Cuban demands. The Democratic White House cannot afford to welcome a Republican president without having its job done —with or without Gitmo, for or against Radio Martí, plus or less the billions requested by Cuba as a historical compensation for decades of US embargo.

As the good-spirited Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson flies to and from Havana, she’s been forced to smile for a selfie with Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machín, her counterparts of the Cuban foreign ministry. Technically, her company is sign of prepotency in the time of appeasement, since in November 2002 Machín was expelled from the US in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case —a Castro top-level spy at the Pentagon— while in May 2003 Vidal voluntarily left the US, when her husband Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera —First Secretary of the Cuban consulate in DC— was also expelled for espionage.

After the mass media catharsis of the first round of talks last January, the third one ended in a hermetic “professional atmosphere” according to the Cuban official report, as abruptly as it was announced, and “with no breakthrough on sticking points in an atmosphere of rising tension over Venezuela”, as recognized with concern by the The New York Times.

The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to explain why she announced “positive and constructive” progress in the discussions. She has now renounced to setting any “timeline or a deadline.” Again, totalitarianism is as much about tyranny as about manipulation of time.

The last speech of Raul Castro in Caracas in support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro came as an ice bucket water challenge: “The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela” [APPLAUSE] and “we won’t concede one iota in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, nor tolerate any interference or conditioning in our internal affairs” [OVATION]. With their monologic belligerency in the Summit of the Americas in Panama, they will “expose the mercenaries who present themselves as Cuban civil society as well as their employers.”

I won’t travel to Panama this time, but I am worried of what could happen to my colleague and friends there, faces with the para-civil society that the regime is organizing as platoons of governmental NGOs, as we all know that on this Island to “expose the mercenaries” means routine repression by the political police: family harassment (Omni Zona Franca Community Poetry Festival), censorship (Hip Hop Rotilla Annual Festival), defamation (independent blogger Ernesto Morales), job dismissal (intellectual Boris Gonzalez Arenas), imprisonment for years with or without charges or trial (Sonia Garro), not paramilitary but paracivil beatings (Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press free-lance agency), temporary or permanent invalidation of travel documents (activist Antonio Rodiles and performer artist Tania Bruguera), repudiation mobs with or without throwing red paint (Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez) or tar (Digna Rodríguez Ibañez) on the dissidents, most of the time women —despite pro-Revolution feminists worldwide— and Afro Cubans —despite pro-Castro race activists worldwide, and selective extrajudicial killing (Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero from the Christian Liberation Movement in July 2012).

Besides, after the nth resurrection of Fidel Castro last month he left a untimely text for the record: against “the eccentric politics” and “brutal plans of US government” Cubans and Venezuelans are united and “ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their country”. It was not only the senile nightmare of a García-Márquez caudillo, because a Cuban government official note denounced the executive order to consider Venezuela a US national security threat as an “arbitrary, interventionist and aggressive” move from President Obama.

Maybe we’ll see in Cuba the masquerade of new investments and markets and local licenses for businesses and more access to the internet and even an electoral reform after the migratory reform, but each and every one understood as concessions, with no fundamental freedoms guaranteed as long as one and only one Communist Party keeps monopolizing all political life, with State Security from the Ministry of the Interior as the real source of governance of a model based on coercion more than in a responsible citizenry, able to self-organize to participate in life after Fidel.

Is the Cuban self-transition from dictatorship to dictatocracy under way with the US as a new geopolitical ally? Time will tell. It will not be the first example of authoritarian regimes mutating into Socialist State capitalism for the sake of regional stability. As the assassinated leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times, we Cubans have the right to have all of our rights recognized beyond any dispute or complicity among power elites. Why what has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is not good for Cubans today? Is it too impolite to peacefully demand that the Cuban people be consulted in a free and safe referendum about the destiny of our nation?

Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism is more than proud to Castrify democratic countries and still play the victim. Anyway, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against decency, since Cuban sovereignty is sequestered by a government that cannot be hold accountable by our own people. Maybe this is another victory for The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts at the end.


Certainly it is good news for America that the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes for the first time in our continent. In fact, as we keep on leaving in migratory waves to the US —both legal and illegal— Cubans are making space for Americans to reforest the Island. Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its undiplomatic relations with Washington, DC, at least while the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, remains in place. 

Unfortunately we Cubans got accustomed to voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite. Let’s see what the US embassy will imply in terms of profits and principles for the labyrinth of Cuban liberty.

domingo, 29 de marzo de 2015

Recognizing Cuba - Frank Calzon and Marifeli Perez-Stable

No blogger, no Obama.

No blogger, no cry.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo




As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).

Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine than in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.

This happened when the ConsensoConsensus— digital magazine became ContodosWith All— and opened the website Desdecuba.com, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster that in April 2007 started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.

This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private service of internet today.

Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a miracle.cu, although the vice-president Miguel Diaz Canel has warned our press not to be objective but “loyal to Fidel, Raul, and the Revolution”, while Fidel himself determined that the “internet is a revolutionary tool”.

Elaine Diaz, blogger of La Polemica DigitalThe Digital Polemics— known as critical of certain official measures, but at the same time a professor of journalism at Havana University and now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, in her degree thesis about the Cuban blogosphere “scientifically” established in terms of topics and chronology that none of the renowned dissident bloggers were pioneers at all, thus diluting this phenomenon in an ocean of other blogs practically discovered by her, up to nearly 3,000 today, which outnumbers by far the dozens of local independent bloggers.

Diaz quotes only those blogs that can be quoted in Cuba without risking her research position, like Patria y HumanidadHomeland and Mankind—, since 2006 administered by Luis Sexto, a winner of the National Journalism Prize; and La Isla y la EspinaThe Island and the Thorn— since 2007 administered by Reinaldo Cedeño, both defined as open to “foreign authors” and to “hot heated debates” but, of course, within the temperature limits of political discipline on the Island.

Diaz recognizes that the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and no less than the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, authorized more than 1,000 official journalists to open blogs from their workplaces or privileged home connections, in order to —as Milena Recio wrote in her article “Cuban blogs: an entrenched identity”— reproduce in the cyberspace the same battlefield logic of the street propaganda, to “counteract the distorted and opposite speeches from hegemonic mass media” against the Revolution.

The very Code of Ethics of UPEC rejects “hyper-criticism” in its article 7, while in articles 8 and 9 reminds to their members to “maintain a social and moral behavior in accordance with the principles and norms of our society […] to promote the best of our national values and the constant improvement of our socialist society”. And after paternalism comes a large list of punishments, which includes imprisonment, as it happened to a journalist from the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Jose Antonio Torres, accused of espionage after one of his official reportages.

Diaz also proposes the “emancipatory and anti-capitalist usefulness of the new media and technology” in Cuba, and the need of “virtual symbols” for a country where it is “possible” the “horizontal dialogue”, beyond power hierarchies and all kinds of social exclusion: by race, by gender, by sexual preference, by economic status, etc. Although she omits to mention the cause of all discriminations in Cuba: the political intolerance and hate speech of the revolutionary government, summarized by Fidel Castro in his speech to Cuban intellectuals in 1961: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.”

Recently, this “dialogue” approach has been updated by the web Cuba Posible of Lenier Gonzalez and Roberto Veiga, former editors of a Catholic Church magazine that published some civil debates, where certain civil society activists managed to participate. Cuba Posible claims for the complicit concept of “loyal opposition” to the regime, if critics are to be considered legitimate. Besides, Gonzalez and Veiga urge the Cuban dissidence to commit suicide and stop all the support they receive from foreign NGOs, despite the detail that they both defended this viewpoint from Washington DC, invited in January 2015 by a compendium of US pro-Castro NGOs, like the Cuba Research Center of Philip Peters.

During the last decade, the Cuban alternative blogosphere has expanded and contracted like the cycles of a claustrophobic universe. Its main communication strategies and activists have renovated only to remain identical.

With my blog of fictionalized chronicles Lunes de Post-RevolutionPost Revolution Mondays— and my photoblog Boring Home Utopics, I have witnessed most of this Cuban digital e-volution, with its pro-human rights achievements and, unfortunately, with today´s drawbacks in front of a State involved in a self-transition to capitalism without capitalists, but with accomplices of Castros’ agenda.

Most of free-lance Cubans blogs are linked in the websites HavanaTimes.org and VocesCubanas.com, where it can be found the famous Generation Y of Yoani Sanchez, blogs from visual artists like the graffiti performer Danilo Maldonado El Sexto (in jail since last December) and the photographer Claudio Fuentes, blogs dedicated to new media and technologies like the one by Walfrido Lopez, blogs from independent lawyers to give legal advice like the unregistered Cuban Juridical Association of Wilfredo Vallin, blogs from religious leaders like the Baptist minister Mario Felix Lleonart, blog of digital publications like Plural Thinking Notebooks, Notebooks for the Transition, and the magazine Voices edited by me, community participation initiatives like Pais de Pixeles photo-contest, blogs of filmed debate projects which then are uploaded to the web to impact on public opinion, like Razones Ciudadanas/Citizens’ Quests.

Thanks to the volunteer amateur projects TranslatingCuba.com and HemosOido.com many of these blogs are distributed beyond geographical isolation and the barriers of language.

Mainly in Havana, much closer to the www than Cuban pre-technological countryside, events have been held to shift from the cyberspace to citizen mobilization, like the Blogger Academy where we teach the technical rudiments of self-publication, as well as the primitive option of twitting by an international sms sent from the Island, as local mobiles have no internet service in Cuba. Other events also held in private houses, like the two annual editions of Click Festival 2012 and 2013, had the privilege to count with international experts on blogs, and consequently they were stigmatized by the governmental blogosphere as being part of a subversive conspiracy to disrupt social stability.

Indeed, cyber-bullying is the less brutal answer of Castro’s political police to Cubans exercising our right to freedom of expression.

Two inflexion points in this abusive battle of the government against their own citizenry, occurred in 2011. First, the Cuban TV showed a weekly series on Cyber-mercenaries where all independent activists were severely threatened to be prosecuted (coincidentally, Elaine Diaz was used an example of blogging correction). Then a suspicious video leak occurred from the State Security, where an officer later identified by the social media as Eduardo “Tato” Fontes Suarez, delivers a conference for the Ministry of the Interior to teach them how to manipulate internet in the era of an American president “much worse the Bush”, implementing a clone blogosphere to reproduce Cuban official press and saturate the web with convenient contents. This includes the logic of creating authorized local versions of Wikipedia (like Ecured), Facebook (like La Tendedera), Twitter (like El Pitazo), etc.

This should remind us of the theories of Evgeny Morozov on how disappointing is the excess of web optimism, because repressors also learn how to take advantage of the interconnected world to canalize and control social discontent to their own convenience.

Unfortunately, after the 2013 migratory reform that for the first time in decades allowed Cubans to travel abroad without the humiliating “exit permit” or “definitive departure”, international recognition of Cuban civil society leader has meant national weakening of our networks and the dispersion of our already limited impact on the Island.  

All the peaceful movements and prominent personalities of Cuban civil society, that in the good old days of 2008-2011 seemed about to integrate in a unified opposition front with political implications, are now splintered in their respective personal initiatives among themselves. The more successful their international projections, the more isolated among themselves are their national projects. We Cubans are still lacking a culture of open polemics and understanding of differences. After more than half a century, Castroism has castrified even their opponents.

Here are some sad examples, as they all are my dear friends and have been fighting quite a long time for a better future in Cuba:

The Ladies in White split one more time, in a fractal procedure that keeps the movement stagnated in number of members, and with an exponentially increase of refugees fleeing to the US. Once in exile, most Cubans dissidents quit social activism or, in the best cases, end up as secretaries in Cuban American NGOs. The legacy of their founding leader Laura Pollán is at risk for the benefit of the Ministry of the Interior, now that their new leader Berta Soler carried out a shameful repudiation against one of its former members, and then had to hold a referendum to ratify her life-long leadership. But Soler was anyway expelled by the daughter of Laura Pollán from her home headquarters in Neptuno Street in Center Havana, where Laura Pollán junior expects to direct a new foundation that will monopolize in exclusive her mother’s name.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) is headless after the 2012 extrajudicial killing in Cuba of their leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. Internal rearrangements have displaced from position even the daughter and the widow of Oswaldo Payá, in a dispute for the redemptive legacy of the martyr, as well as the strategies that should be implemented by this now virtually an exiled movement.

The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) always has nearly half of their activists in jail. On one hand, UNPACU fostered the creation of an independent branch that broke out of the Ladies in White, the Lady Citizens for Democracy. On the other hand, they are obsessed with detecting and denouncing —and sometimes converting to the cause of freedom— Castro’s secret agents, like the infamous case of Ernesto Vera, but they lack a citizen mobilization strategy beyond their self-extinguishable street protests, partly because the Cuban people in unfortunately unmovable.

The Somos Mas movement launched by Eliécer Avila relies only on his face and voice as a charismatic character, once himself a digital soldier that conducted the Operation Truth at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), a platoon of trolls devoted to defame activists worldwide, distort online forums and surveys dealing with Cuba, and hacking websites that expose the violations and fallacies of continental Castroism.

The bitter debate of mutual distrust and discredit between those close to blogger Yoani Sanchez and her brand-new 14yMedio.com digital outlet —prone to take advantage of the US-Cuba new engagement to push the limits of censorship in Cuba—, and other previous digital citizen journalists, like the staff of Primavera Digital (who in turn last year publicly despised their Swedish funding partners), and also with the well-known Antonio Rodiles from the very active audiovisual discussion project Estado de Sats, who practically accused 14yMedio and colleagues of collaborating with the regime’s surviving agenda of allowing foreign investments with no guarantee for human rights, in a Putin-like or Chinese or Vietnamese or Burma post-totalitarian model.

On the official part, in the monolithic digital headquarter of Cubadebate, general Raul Castro with his speech at the ALBA Summit in Caracas this month, and many other op-eds published in tandem, have warned that the “international ultraconservative right” is again deploying its “mass media weapons” to use the “concept of civil society in order to attack all the progressive governments from the hemispheric left, with the purpose of deceive and manipulate all the peoples of the world.”

Cubadebate has even announced the popular repudiation that Cuban dissidents —namely, “mercenaries”— will receive in the Summit of the Americas in Panama next week, because we all are “conceived, paid and directed as drones from the US and the EU, through NGOs supposedly for the promotion of human rights, but in fact having met with confessed terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, and besides being directly financed by secret institutions of the American imperialism, including the Pentagon and the CIA”.

In March 2015 the Castro regime still proudly calls Cuban social activist leaders as “Washington’s puppets, in the line of the dictators Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, whose mission if ever we attain power is to surrender the wealth of our nation to the US monopolies”, and a white elite that cares not about the “black, aboriginal, farmer and workers minorities”.

Although, paradoxically, it was Fidel Castro who dollarized the Cuban economy for over 20 years now, while his brother Raul Castro is claiming for financial credit from American banks and corporations. Furthermore, Afro Cubans suffers much more than other dissidents in Cuba in the hands of the mostly white State Security top-officers, who assume that blacks owe more gratitude to them that rest of the Cuban people.

These are only some tragic examples:

The death of the Afro Cuban opposition activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo in a jail, after a long hunger strike in 2010 to stop torture against him. The 33 months that the Afro Cuban member of the Ladies in White Sonia Garro and her husband spent in prison without charges and with no trial. The harassment and beatings against of Afro Cuban leader Jorge Luis Garcia (Antunez), usually prevented to step out of his own house in Placetas town. The arbitrary political police arrests, plus the temporary or permanent invalidation of the passports of Cuban Afro Cuban intellectuals and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. The fascist-like mobs conducted by the government against the residences of Berta Soler and other Afro Cuban peaceful women of the Ladies in White, including throwing tar —yes, tar— with impunity against their bodies, like it recently happened to Digna Rodríguez Ibañez. Or staining them by force with red paint to resemble human blood, like they did to Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez.

The White House and the remains of the US economic embargo should not ignore that a market economy is not a tropical liberation formula, since it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for despotic control. The secret negotiations to appease our tired tyranny, should remember that what has been good for free Americans since the Eighteenth Century is also good for Cubans citizens today.

The rationale that, after waiting for so long, Cuban democracy can wait a little longer is a discriminatory concept implicitly legitimized by the US press and academics in their search of a lost Latin American Left.

Maybe the hope of the White House is that the New Man stop being a soldier and become the New Salesman, but bring down the wall should mean more that open up the wallet. The urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer their Pearl of the Antilles, shouldn’t forget that we “Cubans have the right to have rights,” as preached by Oswaldo Payá before the gerontocracy and their international accomplices took his life.

In any case, according to the migratory statistics, Cubans are certainly making a lot of space for the Yankees to come home to our Island, as we keep escaping by legal or lethal means, in a kind of pedestrians’ plebiscite, voting with our fleeing feet instead of with electoral ballots.

For the funerals of Fidel, the commander in chief will have achieved all the glories of history —which is the mother of all horrors— but also the frantic farewell of his own people —almost one-fourth of our population. This migratory crisis is what the US is really trying to stop by stabilizing the Communist dynastic succession to the Castros 2.0 generation: namely, Alejandro and Mariela Castro Espin, among other relatives, whether dandies or despots, many of them holding high level positions in the Cuban establishment while receiving privileged visitors status in the US.

The hope would be in convoking a national referendum with international observers so that the Cuban people can freely and safely express our will for the first time since 1948. Otherwise, Cuba will become a Castro-centralized capitalist condominium, economically annexed to the US but with a hyper-nationalist speech to justify impunity on the Island.

Now President Barack Obama can choose to extend his helping hand to the oldest Latin American dictatorship. Or he can consider if the Cuban people deserves to endure our apartheid until the last of the Castros manages to remain in power without consulting anyone (except maybe Obama himself).




miércoles, 18 de marzo de 2015

OLPL en THE MANTLE

NO EMBARGO, NO CRY
ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO



The U.S. embargo against the Cuban government is like those recurrent childhood nightmares, for both Cubans living on the Island and abroad. Oh, the Embargo Embargo: limit of our life, fire of our leaders…

During decadent decades the Cuban Revolution has been defined by that urge of surviving in a besieged place, where distrust and the hate speech are officially justified by the tricky threat of a foreign foe, where an invisible U.S. invasion was enough to promote impunity within the Island, including the need of a messianic savior: Fidel, just Fidel—because calling him Castro could be considered a first symptom of dissent.

And public dissent begets personal disaster in dictatorships.

We Cubans are fed with the populist paranoia of Fidel in our mothers’ milk. In turn, this rule of Fidelity feeds a paternalistic State where citizens always behave like children. All responsibilities rely upon the Revolution. Behaviorism in the time of barbarity. Discipline as the substitute of both duty and desire. Meanwhile all our fundamental freedoms were embargoed by the Cuban authorities as a displaced vengeance for the U.S. embargo against them.

At first, with the Soviet satellite republics nourishing the Cuban economy, our Commander in Chief was making jokes about how useless the U.S. embargo was to prevent his Revolution from turning Cuba into a First World nation:

“There will be enough milk produced in Cuba to fill Havana bay.” (Speech at the Meeting of the Federation of Cuban Women, December 1966).

"The effect of the American blockade has been to require us to work harder and better, it has been effective in favor of the Revolution.” (Playboy, January 1967).

“The language of force does not intimidate us, we have been cured of it, so the blockade is now a subject of scorn and laughter.” (Speech at the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana. January 2, 1969).

“Happily, we depend on the U.S. for nothing. No trade, no food, nothing.” (Speech at the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. December 1975).

“Economic relations with the U.S. would not imply any basic benefit for Cuba, no essential benefit,” (Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally. Fidel Castro: Nothing Can Stop the Course of History. Pathfinder Press 1986).

In the 1990s, however, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restoration of democracies in Latin America, Castro had to retool his propaganda machinery. The U.S. embargo suddenly proved to be the genesis of all social debacles on the Island. The economic sanctions threatened our sovereignty more than a coup d’état, and as such the world was to condemn them but with no mention of the scarcity of the fundamental rights for the Cuban people (including the exiles, now more than one-fifth of our population).

Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting.Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has become synonymous with the fine art of waiting. From ideology to hypocrisy to idiocy, Cubans are experts in expecting with no expectation at all. Anything goes, from fighting the Ebola virus in Africa to signing a Major League contract worth several million dollars.

Once we were austere, once we even had an astronaut, maybe we have just gone astray. Stigmatized as “worms” by the Castroites, many Cubans are indeed waiting for biopolitics—or rather necropolitics—to finish its work on a half fossil Fidel, a Marxterialist Methuselah about to turn 89, shrunken like a magic-realist character by Gabriel Garcia Marquez who, by the way, was his close collaborator and a spokesman of the Cuban Revolution.

The alternative to indolence is to emigrate to the northernmost province of our country: Miami-Hialeah and other post-totalitarian towns, where we can rent a so-called “efficiency” to watch this film from the burger side of the embargo. Big Brother Marx is easily overwhelmed by a Big Mac.

The end of the economic and financial embargo against Cuba—still inconceivable since the U.S. Congress is reluctant to change the law—should then imply the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era, still ongoing by sheer inertia on the Caribbean island. And we all enjoyed a preview with the miraculous milestone of last December 17, when the simultaneous speeches of President Barack Obama and General Raul Castro announced the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, a pluribus duo, with liberty and justice for none—or perhaps only for the subscribers of The New York Times, after endless op-eds paved the way for the White House to pay the way for the Chamber of Commerce to invest in Cuba, just as their members did in the Fabulous Fifties.

This adulterated affair of a democracy with a dictatorship is about to seal the self-transition from power to power taking place on the Island today. The Cuban dynastic model of State capitalism is already pregnant with a baby dictatorcracy called Castrolandia 2.0. The next Putin-like president is likely to be Alejandro Castro Espin, who, like the Russian autocrat, is a colonel linked to state security who happens to be the son of Raul Castro, who in turn has promised to step down in 2018 at the age of 87 years with six decades of control behind him.

The pros and cons of this unexpected approach are not as relevant as the perverse point that there are no right or wrong options when it comes to monolithic regimes. No deal is dear with the Castro family. Every engagement is co-opted for their own convenience, because all the levers of society remain at their disposition without any limits.

Despite Obama’s rhetoric that breathed life into the Cuban establishment, the alternative to Communism is not likely to be consumerism, but Communism itself. Or collapse. After Fidel, the Flood. And Obama seems to be advancing a helping hand to us before a migratory crisis extends its hideous hands to the U.S., as it is being announced already in the record numbers of rafters and Cubans illegally crossing U.S. borders, before and after December 17.

Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its dialogues or diatribes with Washington, DC. That is why on Island, the rumor is that the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, will vanish somehow with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the White House and Revolution Square.

And so we keep voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite to kiss goodbye the Revolution—a fleeing flow that is 100% political precisely because 100% of Cuban migrants hurry to declare that they are only looking for economic benefits. What kind of benefits when they had free education, free sports, free arts, free health and free et ceteras on the Island? Farewell, Fidel.

Americans can come to Cuba in the search of profits. Cubans keep quitting their proletarian paradise in search of only we know what.

“Yankees, come home” echoes in the so-called Key to the Gulf for the first time in the history of our hemisphere. Americans are more than welcome to appease our tired tyranny with their new markets for the New Man to cease being a soldier and become a salesman. Money is time in this equation to build a stable status quo for the region, which is a major concern for America’s national security. In gold they trust: bring down the wall means open up the wallet. This explains the urgency of Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to re-conquer the once-called Pearl of the Antilles. Meanwhile, a multitude of five-year multiple-entry U.S. visas is being granted to Cubans of all ages, before and after December 17.

If 50-plus years of U.S. diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people it is because these were never designed to bring freedom to the Island, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty with anti-democratic procedures, including the violent illegalization of civil society and all forms of property—both private and public, including the press—forcing up to one-fifth of our population to live in exile today.

The 50-plus years to come of U.S. capitalist engagement with Cuba cannot guarantee fundamental freedoms for our people, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula per se, and it has been implemented by many authoritarian systems to deny all basic rights. But “rights” is a worn-out word that President Obama, Pope Francis, and General Castro have eagerly agreed to postpone during almost two years of secret negotiations: Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait.

What has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is still not good enough for Cubans in the Twenty-first Century. This is the basis of revolutionary racism, a discriminatory concept cruelly conceived by American academics in their search of a lost Left. First world democracies seem disappointed to support pro-democracy movements anymore in the Third World, while Castroism keeps on being more than proud to Castrify other countries —Venezuela is the most tragic example today.

Oh, bama! Why not take advantage of these U.S.-Cuba negotiations to seat the historical gerontocracy in olive-green uniforms at the same table with the emerging civil leaders on the Island? Don’t we deserve this after we have achieved so much in the struggle for freedom of speech and to raise awareness of human rights violations and the overall anthropological damage in Cuba? If the Castros want to be treated as a normal government, shouldn’t the Castros constitute a normal government beforehand?

But as it has been impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable, the lesser evil now seems to be to promote “Cuban civil society” only for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact excluding us from the establishment to come: State capitalism with the sheepskin of a soulcialism.

In moral terms the unpopularity of U.S. policies, given the popularity of the Cuban Revolution worldwide, should be less important than securing that a true transition to democracy will take place in Cuba soon. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western Hemisphere still means advancing American interests in Western Union.

Despite any goodwill of the U.S. executive branch enforcing resolution after resolution, involving certain congressmen and think tanks and NGOs and press magnates and corporate tycoons that shake Raul Castro’s hand without asking him a single uncomfortable question, what is being legitimized is a clan that abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban think tanks and Cuban NGOs and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and all Cuban press except that belonging to the Communist Party.

I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba”—as the American scholar Julia Sweig might say—but rather about what nobody dares to know about Cuba. Even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against independence. And decency. The U.S. change in its Cuban policy is the latest victory of The End of History: from the Spanish-American War to the Anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “common marketization” of international relations is what really counts and “Cuban” continues to be out of date.

Milan Kundera, maybe the best Cuban novelist who is a Czech who writes in French and lives in Switzerland—a perfect mix for liberty—knew that “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

“Dialogues between the elites are not the path of the people,” said the assassinated leader of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Payá—winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Dead since July 22, 2012—like Polish priest Popiełuszko in the mid-1980s— in a traffic “accident” denounced as an extrajudicial killing by the surviving witness who was driving the car, Payá and his peaceful activists managed to collect more than 25,000 signatures on the Island to legally democratize our society, as established by the Cuban Constitution. The Castros’ reaction was dozens of incarcerations, forced expatriations and, ultimately, his murder by the Ministry of the Interior.

Is the Obama administration willing to mention such delicate details in The New Deal with Cuba or will there be no solidarity with Payá’s family, who has been requesting an independent investigation since that sad Sunday that abolished the hope of an inclusive country? And not just a clowntry club for cowboys, a post-totalitarian museum turned into a tourist theme park or worse, into a mausoleum of martyrs like Orlando Zapata—left to die during a hunger strike—Laura Pollán—our second Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—and Oswaldo Payá?

Respect for universal values like life, mercy, beauty, truth, and liberty—the most natural and yet so difficult to attain in times of tyranny—is the responsibility of every free man and woman who wishes to favor my people, who deserve not to wait any longer to be treated like real citizens, with or without whatever diplomatic decisions are taken one thousand miles away in the U.S.

“Cubans have the right to have rights,” repeated Oswaldo Payá before the Castros took his life. And we Cubans have the right to have rights irrespective of all the Castros’ conspiracies to permanently prevail. I still skeptically trust in such a Cuba “founded with all and the good of all”—as the patriot and poet José Martí wrote more than a century ago—but most of my fellow Cubans already don’t. Our wisdom is weird, for we have seen things that you Americans wouldn’t believe.

sábado, 14 de marzo de 2015

movimiento browniano


tardes de primavera temprana en brown
no hay cielo más cielo que los cielos del norte

la calma de los estados unidos es casi
angelical
un país hecho a golpe de universidades
país sin universitarios
e pluribus solum

marzos de rhode island sin licencia de conducción
la felicidad es decir esto era la felicidad

egsactly, como dicen los norteamericanos
entre palabra y palabra
en una lengua residual llamada el inglés
confundida de silencio en silencio
con el rumor de las aulas

ese bullicio de los vencedores
esa bella barbarie de la verdad
esa transparencia instantánea y terminal

las tarjetas de la academia se deslizan como navajas
a cambio todo es sonrisa y falso café
el sol es preciso, humilde, tolerable
la luz menos cubana del mundo
el mar nunca es tibio
los cementerios todavía no son creíbles

providence se parece un poco a la patria
a sus patios

del invierno sólo quedan unos escupitajos de escarcha
y la puntualidad de los taxis por internet
todo será tan rápido
ayer era octubre y mañana habrá sido abril

comienzan a abrirse las piernas y las persianas
huele a humedad de humanos
despertar a una vida de muñequitos
ahora ni en el deseo hay maldad

tardes de primavera temprana en brown
no hay cielo más cielo que los cielos del norte
es bueno que no existamos los cubanos aquí