GABO RELOADED / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

11 05 2014

Of García Márquez and other Demons
By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Prolific, brilliant, celebrity, provocateur, agent, incisive, insidious, one of the last intellectual icons of the Latin American left has died: Gabriel García Márquez, el Gabo.

His claim on immortality is supported by a Nobel Prize, which owed a lot to the Latin American literary “Boom” of the 1960’-1970s which in turn owes a lot to that totalitarian regime still called “the Cuban Revolution.”

In the early 1980’s Cuban adolescents read and loved García Márquez. In Castro’s Cuba, García Márquez’s books held a mirror up to  Cuba’s “official culture,” dictated by Fidel Castro, that also reflected  the Soviet Union and its Socialist Realism. Castro was obsessed with his control of the island’s cultural affairs, and even the best Cuban writers of the time were forced to imitate the worse of Soviet propaganda, stopped writing, such as poet Dulce María Loynaz, playwright René Ariza, and the novelist Reinaldo Arenas, jailed or fled in exile such as Heberto Padilla, Lydia Cabrera, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante. There were many others.

In his 1982 Nobel Prize speech, García Márquez courageously recounted the repression of Latin America’s military dictatorships, civil wars that led to genocides, and the state terror that killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to leave for Europe and the United States.

I was in secondary school at the time.  I had read One Hundred Years of Solitude, and like many other young Cubans considered Gabo the most important writer in the Spanish language of all times.

As my generation grew up and began to express our own truths, it became our turn to be repressed. (I haven’t been able to work or publish in Cuba since 2008, when I created a blog Lunes de Post-Revolución.) In 2003 during the Black Spring, when three young Cubans were shot and 75 political dissidents were arrested and sentenced to 28 years in prison, García Márquez took notice of this other face of his friend Fidel Castro.

When writer Susan Sontag asked him about it, García Márquez answered: “I can no longer calculate the number of prisoners, dissidents and conspirators whom I have silently helped to get out of jail or emigrate from Cuba during the last 20 years.  Many of them do not even know that I helped, but it is enough that some know and my conscience is at peace.”

The word “but” is quite a dangerous monosyllable for anyone living under a monolithic ideology. In Cuba, Fidel Castro’s speeches are baroque rhetoric incarnated; he could speak for hours. Only for García Márquez was there an intellectual hidden in his speeches-in-chief. García Márquez fell in love in the time of the Revolution and got lost in its totalitarian translation for the free world.
Gabo had to believe that the crimes of Castroism were justified by “historical necessity,” Fidel’s wisdom, and other Marxist or “magical” categories. Otherwise, his fidelity over more than five decades cannot be understood. Nor can the considerable time he spent in Cuba, enjoying the mansion and other privileges he was provided, while ignoring the plight of Cubans —repressed writers included— all around him.

After half a century of solitude and without much sense of solidarity with pro-democracy and human-rights activists in Cuba, Gabo has died, and now there’s no one left with his intellectual firepower to provide cover for the Leader Maximum.

Editor’s note: Original post is in English

10 May 2014



4 responses

12 05 2014
Omar Fundora

French economist recommends redistribution of income and wealth in agreement with the Pope. The Right Wing crowd is running scare.

In his speech to the U.N. delegates, Pope Francis reminded them of the encounter between “between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus.” (Luke 19:1-10)

13 05 2014
Omar Fundora

Neutral observer:
Yoani Sanchez walks a fine line between open criticism of the Cuban government plus bias journalism. However, I have to say that most of what Yoani writes about is the truth. Even when she offers an opinion it is based on facts. I think where she can “cross the invisible line” of breaking Cuban law is her position on Freedom of the Internet and her open support of foreign aggression to Cuba via the internet by elements in the Cuban Community in exile. Attending the techy convention in Miami in support of people that are looking for ways to make access to the World Web in Cuba by technology that circumvent Cuban internet security is one example. If the Cuban exiles are successful in doing this; Yoani can be accused of being a conspirator of mercenary elements who by their actions are in support of U.S. policy of regime change in Cuba. The digital media is a new tool in the arsenal of countries to win support for regime change around the World. Every country understands this. Even if the young Cuban techies take the position that what they are doing is okay according to Human Rights organizations or Reporters without Borders. The regime change law in the U.S. will nullify all these well intentions rhetoric. The digital media technology issues as it relates to national security and bias journalism are the greatest risk to Yoani in the near term. The digital Media newspaper she is going to create will have to succeed where many other talented, smart individuals have failed before her with similar endeavors. She needs to run every issue through a Cuban lawyer who can interpret what is allowed and not allowed inside Cuba, have approval of journalist organizations inside Cuba for acceptable practices. If the newspaper is going to be like this blog which most Cubans don’t get to read, it will not have the intended effect of a newspaper and therefore it will be a failure. The people outside of Cuba know the situation well. The problem as I see it is the Cubans themselves. The country is divided on type of ideology of governance. Raul Castro’s economic reforms are allowing for a small “Free Market” economy for certain industries, but, the large institutions are State controlled. The big elephant in the room is the political organization. Raul’s vision is one Party system with internal elections and there are many Cubans that believe that this is okay. I think, that because of this division inside Cuba, like I have mentioned before, the best outcome for Cuba is a Socialistic Democratic Republic that eventually will look more like France today in the long run ( say 20 to 30 years). Venezuela is in the process of building a Socialistic Democratic Republic. But, the problem there is the well to do business class do not want to give up their privilege and are okay with apartheid and inequality ( of course they have the help from the U.S., proxy States in the Region like Panama and Colombia plus professional soldiers that engage in conflicts around the World for money.). What Venezuela will eventually look like in another 10 years is hard to say. I wish the U.S. would stay out of the transition process there to see what the outcome will be. Venezuela has a more open society then Cuba and I don’t believe they want to change that . I do believe that in order to continue their fight on poverty, the State has to control large enterprises there like the oil giant. “Free Market” and Capitalism has been a complete and total failure in Latin America in the area of poverty control for more than 150 years. The Chavistas have had success in Poverty Reduction in less than 10 years. Man’s ego centrist view of the World, specially the Right, like Lopez and his followers are is the major inertia to change for the betterment of the Common Good of all Venezuelans. In Cuba is money and the U.S. law of regime change.

13 05 2014
Omar Fundora


Nobel Peace Laureates to Human Rights Watch: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government

Human Rights Watch
The following letter was sent today to Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire; former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans von Sponeck; current UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Richard Falk; and over 100 scholars.

Dear Kenneth Roth,

Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.” However, HRW’s close ties to the U.S. government call into question its independence.

For example, HRW’s Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.

In her biography, Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton” who is “highly involved” in his political party, and “has hosted dozens of events” for the Democratic National Committee.

Currently, HRW Americas’ advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, and Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas’ advisory committee from 2003-11. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as “an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts.”

In his capacity as an HRW advocacy director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that “under limited circumstances” there was “a legitimate place” for CIA renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet. Malinowski was quoted paraphrasing the U.S. government’s argument that designing an alternative to sending suspects to “foreign dungeons to be tortured” was “going to take some time.”

HRW has not extended similar consideration to Venezuela. In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen “far short of acceptable standards” and questioning its “ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights.” At no point has U.S. membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.

Likewise, in February 2013, HRW correctly described as “unlawful” Syria’s use of missiles in its civil war. However, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the U.S. threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.

The few examples above, limited to only recent history, might be forgiven as inconsistencies or oversights that could naturally occur in any large, busy organization. But HRW’s close relationships with the U.S. government suffuse such instances with the appearance of a conflict of interest.

We therefore encourage you to institute immediate, concrete measures to strongly assert HRW’s independence. Closing what seems to be a revolving door would be a reasonable first step: Bar those who have crafted or executed U.S. foreign policy from serving as HRW staff, advisors or board members. At a bare minimum, mandate lengthy “cooling-off” periods before and after any associate moves between HRW and that arm of the government.

Your largest donor, investor George Soros, argued in 2010 that “to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization.” We concur. We urge you to implement the aforementioned proposal to ensure a reputation for genuine independence

14 05 2014
Omar Fundora


In the 1970s, The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, led by Senator Frank Church, was formed to review a series of efforts to overthrow foreign governments, spy on U.S. citizens, and conceal those activities from the Congress and the American people. Time and again, the Committee invoked the Bay of Pigs as evidence of the damage that is inflicted on our national security and the U.S. system by excessive reliance on secrecy.

As the Committee wrote in its final report:

“The task of democratic government is to reconcile conflicting values…Reliance on covert action has been excessive because it offers a secret shortcut around the democratic process. This shortcut has led to questionable foreign involvements and unacceptable acts…Finally, secrecy has been a tragic conceit. Inevitably, the truth prevails, and policies pursued on the premise that they could be plausibly denied, in the end damage America’s reputation and the faith of her people in their government.” Final Report, Page 16.

Jeremy Bigwood: “Zunzuneo had all the components of a classic covert action: shell companies, off-shore bank accounts, managerial cutouts, multinational locations, the goal of regime change, and, of course, the hidden hand of the United States government.”

Therefore, as Bill LeoGrande writes, “under the law (50 U.S. Code § 3093 (a)), [it] required a presidential finding and notification of the Congressional intelligence committees. Those obligations do not appear to have been met.”

And so we have our Bay of Tweets: another covert action, another effort to conceal the truth from the American people, another deceit in our endless mission to bring democracy to Cuba.

But, more than lies lie in the balance. As Gary Hart, a member of the Church Committee, wrote a few years ago:

“A democracy that violates the rights and privacy of its citizens and conceals its activities from them edges dangerously near something other than a democracy. The most radical of our founders, Thomas Jefferson, held that the best guarantor of the American republic was the good judgment and common sense of the American people, a people fully informed of the activities of its government on their behalf.”

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