27 08 2014


The power of Castro’s dictatorship couldn’t rely only in the annihilation of all kind of opposition, despite the fact that, since January 1959, its governability depended on fear (out of pure terror) to reduce a plural society to military obedience, ideological hatred, and apartheid, whether geographical (in the case of the exiled for life) or uncivil (for those resisting as pariah on an Island turned into a labor camp behind The Iron Curtain). Detaching our homeland from its hemispheric context put us into orbit as a satellite of the totalitarian axis of the Cold War: the best alternative for the new class —now a gerontocracy elite in their eighties— to keep control in perpetuity, or at least for over a dozen of White House administrations.

The power of Castro’s dictatorship necessarily had to rely also on violence and, for so many —let’s say— people of good-will in the world, the beauty implicit in the narrative of The Revolution, with its ritual of burying a decadent past in order to resurrect it in a fertile future, as all revolutionary rhetorics promotes itself. To the image and likeness of those historical guerrillas, nowadays only octogenarians inside Cuba remember what presidential elections are all about. Such a legacy leaves a discouraging anthropological damage if we are ever to move forward from the Castrozoic Era.

Our citizenship was homogenized as soldiership, under the vertical rule of a personality cult, as a justification to survive against a foreign foe meant to last forever: nothing less than the first economy and war potency of the First World, an anthological archenemy called Imperialism. But nobody believes in this Fidelity fable anymore. And, after half a century of officially sequestering the sovereign will of our nation, it’s about time for Cubans to recover their own voice, since the Castros’ long-lasting regime is the one who should retire in silence.

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Letter to Pope Francis from the Christian Liberation Movement Youth

21 08 2014

“But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than ten years ago more than 25,000 Cubans supported a legal reform project. Called the Varela Project, it called for a plebiscite to ask the people, yes or no, did they want free elections. The Cuban Constitution establishes that if more than 10,000 people support a legal proposal than the government is constitutionally required to respond.” Rosa Maria Paya. Poster by Rolando Pulido.

Havana, May 5th 2014

“Fear is ridiculous and it provides ammunition to the enemies of liberty.”- The Venerable Father Felix Varela

Your Holiness, Pope Francis:

We would like to thank you with utmost respect and kindness for taking time to read this letter.

We are Cuban Catholic youth who everyday are intent to fortify ourselves to the clamors that burst forth and splatter our conscience from the brutal reality of our beloved Cuba. From the dawn of our youth we have occupied the rows of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), a pacifist-civic movement which, inspired  by Christian humanism and the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, has yearned for the freedom that Cuba has wanted and needed for more than 25 years.

We love the church, and we have grown under her auspices with the influence of her Ignatian spirituality. Because of this, we turn to you to voice our pain and concern with several Cuban Bishops who, surrounded by pro-government Cuban laity and other figures of privilege, pronounce and act in the name of the Church before the unfolding drama that we Cubans have lived in for more than half a century.

Increasingly, ecclesial offices are shunted into a caricature of the masses, to be only the bottom substrate in the background and a common denominator legitimizing the government, asking for more votes of confidence for the politico-military junta who govern as dictators and awaiting a new “leader” to succeed the dynasty of the Castro Brothers and amend the “justified errors” of 55 years of governmental mismanagement that devastated a country whilst omitting the daily violations of human rights and the repressive despotic and unpunished actions of State Security personnel against nonviolent opposition and begging for weak reforms which lack transparency and in so doing be able to navigate comfortably in all waters through the use of ambiguous and confusing language that decorate and embellish the harsh realities, foregoing calling them by name, and thus presenting themselves as authentic rhetoricians and builders of bridges.

Perhaps we should remind our pastors how both dialogue and mediation necessitate a clear sense of identity and an indispensable autonomy to be able to express it, without circumlocution, in the collegial search for truth amongst peers and the commencement and recognition of all the parts, with an adequate dose of moderation, but while maintaining transparency, rigor, and respect for the truth. And this, in a cystic dictatorship with more than five decades of authoritarianism, carries a price and only those who have overcome, from a detachment of having nothing to protect and nothing to aspire,the fears that have impeded their inner liberty strive for progress.

Those of us who know from within the realities of the Church of Cuba understand that the courts of Havana’s Apostolic Palace is an interplay of political factors and that the exclusionary practices of the Church, whose byzantine politics are without morals and constancy, stretching and pulling, consisting of ambiguities and flatteries, and, in the worst form of diplomacy, sacrificing the integrity of the simple and naked truth expressed with the sole presupposition of due respect to substitute it in favor of strained praise, finally allowing itself a shallow criticism and in doing so maintaining the status quo, has the seal of the illustrious cardinal that occupies its halls. This shackle to the same apprehensions, pressures, blackmail, compromises, limitations, protection of self-interest and tacit or explicit agreements, that mark it’s actual relation to the State, and who for decades has been its helmsman, is Cardinal Ortega.

Subjugated to the fluctuations of this complex relationship, the precarious autonomy of Catholic publications and centers for the formation of laity and the devoted, has exceeded the bounds and good-willed intentions of its founders and has shifted into the propaganda of, no longer the Archbishop, but whomever holds the upper hand in said relationships; those who allow them to continue to exist and in circulation so long as they don’t overstep the threshold of tolerance or who ultimately fail to serve their vile purposes. The choice is clear: either they alienate themselves from reality marking socio-political themes as taboo, in a country where nothing is apolitical, on the contrary everything is profoundly politicized and ideologized, or claim the input of a fraud-exchange thrusted by the government.

What do they try to convince us of now? It was Raul Castro himself who speaks of his own reforms claiming that they are for more Socialism; we Cubans know all too well what that means. Regardless, has someone asked us, like citizens, if what we want in today’s age is more Socialism? And what Socialism? How do they want to convince us, the Cubans who live both here and abroad suffering exclusions and disadvantages,that they are advancing towards the implementation of laws that will permit us to reencounter ourselves with how we wish to be? That this framework of oppression, without rights or transparency, is the path of transition? What does this transition consist of?

Graduality only makes sense if there is a transparent perspective for our liberties and rights. Don’t continue to speak on our behalf; we would have our own voice raised and heard. It’s not enough for Cuba to open herself to the world and the world unto Cuba: first Cuba must open herself to Cubans. To come to accords with our own officials, like several democratic governments and institutions have done without caring that they don’t represent the Cuban people, is to perpetuate oppression.

Enough of deciding and thinking on my behalf and imposing an ideology of the State that doesn’t represent me. Enough of obligating me to collaborate in a political farce that overshadows my principles and the conditions of a free man, under the threat of losing it all: education, job, sometimes family and friends, liberty also and even life itself. That is why fear is the guiding principle of this society, fear and lies, sustaining a society of masks and simulations during decades of weak men, evasive, possessing only half-truths, incapable of facing and naming that evil which corrodes us within. That is how we Cubans live.

We wish that the Church, a pilgrim in Cuba, would dare to throw out the merchants from the temple, those who in the virtue of secret pacts do away with the worth of a human before the importance of abstract numbers. We yearn for a church who would not accept as privilege that which is her rightly due in exchange for her silence.

A church, with whose prophetic voice and testimony of life in truth in a society rotting with fear and lies, can share the cross of the ineffable, solitude, humility, deprivation, calumny and persecution that we suffer, we who have broken with the vice of self-deception that has become our collective dementia.

A church that does not please itself with having its pew saturated with comfortable mediocrity, dragging the multitudes behind images that don’t save and only awaken shallow devotions while the most precious component of her identity is diluted and watered down in a pseudo-religion of the masses, recovering spaces and buildings for the mission, and then relying heavily on human means to, with God and the splendor of His message being considered too subversive against the established order, advertise a private pseudo-gospel of moral and social content more “enlightening” for our people.

A church that stirs those consciences paralyzed by fear and custom before the face of irrationality, disfunctionality, and the absurd demands of a long-lived absolute and arbitrary regime by inviting each man and woman to contemplate themselves in the reflection of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. A church, who once again noting the worth of the poor, the few, the small, the gradual, the weak, the anonymous, offers in her small but Christian and arduous communities something incredibly different and powerfully captivating, and no longer the swarms of vitiated environments.

That church, incarnated and undivided, has been present for years in the figures of brave and exceptional bishops, innumerable priest, religious and missionaries many of whom we have seen depart in pain: banished, dismissed by bishops and superiors, or voluntarily resigning before submitting to perverted or perverting regulations.

It is that diminishing church constantly in danger of becoming extinct, that has produced genuine miracles thanks to the those youth and families who everyday make the conscious decision to remain, assuming upon themselves the dangers and hardships, every day resisting the temptation to join the mass exodus of a people who stampedes fleeing to whichever place where they can construct a more dignified life, hold an honorable job, know the taste of liberty, fight for their dreams, aspire to prosperity and happiness.

That church revealed with her very life and not only through discourse, the profound realities of our faith: the Incarnation, Calvary, Easter, the Resurrection. In her, we cautiously aimed to really be priests, prophets and kings. Because it is in that church that we learned to search and wish for the will of God as our most precious treasure, today we still dare to swim upstream, muting the warnings of close friends occasionally whispered in the temples and sacristy from those who speak in the name of God, and even the anguished cries of our mothers who implore us to renounce, run, escape and forever occupy ourselves with our own well-being and our families with thousands of unanswerable arguments from plain pragmatism of calculated deeds and force or consisting of acrobatic tricks with alleged reasons of faith that end fading away at the feet of the Crucified.

Because that church has taught us to believe against all the evidence and to hope against all hope, our lives today continue to be an answer to the questions and call of God: Where are those responsible? Strengthening us to continue being a voice in the desert, a light in the darkness and an omen of hope in the midst of the apparent sterility in spite of the burdens and fatigue.  Because Cubans need the help of Jesus on the Cross to be able to look with love upon these last 50 years that has oppressed physically and psychologically and to dare to shout NO MORE!

We Cubans need a church that will aid us in overcoming fear. Fear is the origin of lethargy and hopelessness that overwhelms youths and society as a whole. We need a church that will help us in these first steps toward Liberation, the first steps that always start with an individual and en as a roaring shout, stronger than oneself and that must be shared.

An advocate church must be a place of liberty, where reconciliation does not convert itself to historic amnesia disguised as the goodness of the righteous. It has to be a place of freedom of expression, not in attempts politicizing the temple, but instead to create the language which will be able to articulate our story from the bottom up, omitting the “victorious” figures who attempt to reconstruct history. We need a Mother Church, who works for the truth without ambiguities, who doesn’t confuse love for one’s neighbor with political opportunism. A church that will help us name this unnameable pain so that we may offer it up and act, without our voice being silenced.

Count on us Holy Father! God bless you and keep you!

A big hug from the Caribbean,

Erick Alvarez Gil, age 28, Telecommunications and Electrical Engineer, San Francisco de Paula Parish.

Anabel Alpizar Ravelo, age 29, Bachelor’s in Social Communication, dismissed from her job, Chapel Jesus Maria

Luis Alberto Mariño Fernández, age 27, Bachelor’s in Music Composition, Salvador del Mundo Parish.

Maria de Lourdes Mariño Fernández, age 29, Bachelor’s in Art History, Salvador del Mundo Parish.

Manuel Robles Villamarin, age 24, Information Tech, expelled from University, Siervas de Maria Parish.

 Translated by: Joel Olguin

3 August 2014

Investment in Cuba? What for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

18 08 2014

Investment in Cuba? What for?
ASCE XXIV / 2014 Annual Conference, Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel, Florida, USA
Panel 12. Concerto Ballrom B – Friday, August 1st, 2:45-4:15pm


In Cuba during the 1970s, historian Manuel Moreno Fraginals challenged poet Jose Lezama Lima with his trendy scientific notions about the laws of objectivity and the transition to a colonial/pseudo republic/revolution from the slave mills to the Slavic sugarcane cutters; the now forgotten Soviet KTP. Exhaling an asthmatic counterpoint through his cigar, Lezama Lima responded to Moreno Fraginals without foregoing the Marxist irony of a convenient Catholic: “Ah… But when will we have a history that is qualitative?”

Are we Cubans lacking the type of analysis that at the margins of academic exactitude and author-centered erudition would also require ethicality? Is a qualitative economy that can escape the comparisons of percents and profits and the tendency to always side with the expounder at all conceivable? Is a qualitative political system that rises above the lowbrow politics practiced in our country unthinkable? How about a qualitative sociology without ideological determinism and infallible founders? When all is said and done, is the anthropology of a quality Cuban one that is multidimensional, subjective, and liberated from the consensus imposed upon on us with the rhythm of a conga drumbeat?

No wonder the Professor did not answer the Master’s question. Today, when it comes to Raul Castro’s reforms that in an ever-changing and capricious landscape that hides a clan’s control while a new image of legitimacy is created, would Moreno Fraginals rely on the laws of objectivity in a transition from communism to capitalism? And would Lezama Lima respond to him with an “Ah… And when we will Cuba have a history of qualitative capitalism?” Poetry asks impossible questions that history can answer, though it finds it inconvenient to do so.


Today, by either vocation or duty, Cubanologists discuss their theories about the island. They have placed their bets for quantitative changes on the seat of power, avoiding any consultation with the will of the Cuban people. For many of them the Revolution is a victim, not the victimizer, and as such is granted the right to not disappear. Because of this, throughout all of American academia, an anti-Castro stance is practically considered intellectual harassment.

Therefore, Cubans are supposed to have no other alternative than to collaborate with the government in the construction of controllable capitalism that is already irreversible while the country’s socialistic constitution remains “irrevocable.” In this scam of a transition, borne of short memories where horrors become simply errors, liberty becomes an encumbrance threatening to make everything end in a debacle. And it is this astute death threat that forces us to be loyal as a post-socialist substitute for legality.

“A country is not run like a campsite,” another poet once told to another general. But those who once dressed in olive-green uniforms and now as the new generation wear business suits, have turned the country into a campsite so as not to fully contradict Jose Marti’s words to Maximo Gomez. Citizens are abundant, but soldiers are saviors: the disinterest of the former is secondary to the discipline of the latter. The year 2018 is being called the new 1958. After 60 years of solitary power, biology finally brings us a calendar without the Castros. But after waiting for so long, we Cubans can now wait a little more. We have become accustomed to the family legacy that leaves us the choice between a parliamentarian sexologist and a colonel –like Putin– from the Ministry of the Interior. One is in charge of reproduction and the other of repression; she is in charge of pleasure, he of power; academia and military; diplomacy and impertinence; masquerade and malice.

The inverted logic behind investing in such a Cuba is that after the profits, it would precipitate a multi-party political system: vouchers that will promote voting; underdevelopment erased by cash flowing through banks; from Che to checks. Like dissidents without God, layman Lenier Gonzalez might call them “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” because the nation teeters on collapse between a war of economic action from the outside and peaceful resistance from the inside.

Perhaps to sidestep such suspicions, foreign investors avoid showing off the profit gained from a captive and insular market. They seem to invest with almost-humanitarian intentions, although their “good deed” will be repaid by having their property seized and not a few of them will end up deported, imprisoned, or dead from a heart attack during interrogations performed by State Security. As for Cuban exiles, they are not even given the right to live in their own country. And the illusion of investing in the island — out of nostalgia or some kind of labor therapy — is justified by the notion that money can make a dictatorship dynamic much more effectively than dynamite. If we cannot live in a democracy, at least we will be able to live in a dictocracy. One-party companies and a tinsel opposition. Like a person who draws a North Korean doodle and ends up with an exquisite Chinese calligram. Or like in those childhood cartoons where a tyrant is defeated by a golden antelope that drowns the villain by throwing gold coins at him and when he can no longer take the weight screams “enough!”


When I hear the word “economy,” I reach for my gun.

First-world paradoxes: The possible Democrat party candidate for the White House mumbles something to President Obama in the latest of her hard choices: “Lift the embargo on Cuba because it’s holding back our broader agenda across Latin America”. And from the Chamber of Commerce, its president travels to a country that is presided over by a general that for decades has denigrated chambers of commerce, and tells him: Yes, you can.

The economy is too important to be left in the hands of economists.

Executives from the goliath Google land in David’s kingdom of ruins and are received at the University of Computer Sciences, a bunker of digital censorship, the cradle of Operation Truth, where there is daily smearing of those Cubans convinced that it is still possible to live a life of truth. How do you google a government that like the dog in the manger will not allow us to connect to the internet or allow anyone else to connect us?

 Within the economy, everything.

The president of a hemispheric organization who since 2009 has been begging Cuba to rejoin the international community goes to Havana and does not dare to ask the reason behind Cuba’s snub of the world. He is accompanied by a Secretary General who gets a haircut there but does not question why there were dozens of illegal detentions taking place during his visit.

Outside the economy, nothing.

Former brigadier generals of the military and intelligence agencies, ambassadors to NATO, the OAS, and the Interests Section in Havana (in their heyday categorized by Castro propaganda as torturers, coup instigators, agents of the anti-Cuban dirty war, and other extremists etc.). Hawks now clothed in sheep feathers who advocate an ultimatum not to their archenemy in the continent, but to the President who extended his open hand and in return received a closed fist, including weapons smuggling, the kidnapping of an American to trade as a hostage for Cuban Talibans, agreements with enemies of democracy and the free market, and the State-run attempts on our Sakharov Prize winners for Freedom of Thought: Laura Pollan and Oswaldo Paya.

Economy or death; we will sell.

Contrary to the stampede of Cubans mentioned in Wendy Guerra’s novel Everyone Leaves, everyone is going to Cuba, everyone is investing in the first opportunity that presents itself. No one wants to miss out on their slice of the despotic pie that is on the brink of transition.


Investment is critical for the material development of the country, but investment should not come regardless of the political price. It would be a shame to fall into an economy that would leave us dependent on foreigners and no less vulnerable to domestic impunity. Under those conditions, sovereignty is nothing more than a joke.

Foreign capital has not brought democratization to the island, but neither has denying investment been a fountain of political liberty. Although they are opposite concepts, investments are just like the commercial embargo the United States has against Cuba: they have had no influence on the blockade imposed by the Castro regime on Cuban citizens. Oswaldo Paya believed in a human personal redemption that would transcend the State as well as the market. And that simple but ethical vision proved to be qualitatively impracticable for a perpetual seat of power that relies on complicity by the majority of the nation. Because if a people elect a single leader and a single party, that single leader and single party have a moral obligation to downplay that quantitative blindness, not enthrone themselves upon it. Along with the Anglicism of a “loyal opposition,” Cubans deserve a government faithful to the people that will step down according to logical legislation, even if it goes against the popular will of the people.

For now, the private investment initiative in Cuba does nothing to obtain or guarantee rights to association, property, participation, expression, or the means of production. Self-employed Cubans exhibit their implausibility even in Washington D.C., but in the Plaza of the Revolution, they can only march en masse with their propaganda banners. For that very reason they are not invited to invest in Cuba and their self-employment licenses are nothing more than economic privileges. As soon as they achieve some type of cash liquidity, they will escape without much noise or fuss, as our population pyramid tends to do since that is always preferable in a transient nation: post-totalitarianism is the same as post-trampolinism. That plebiscite with one’s feet is unstoppable, with investments or sanctions, with lack of solidarity or interference. After spending so much time exporting guerillas and wars, we learned to make our living at the expense of someone else, allowing ourselves to be exploited by taxes rather than enjoying state security (or suffering it if the words are capitalized).

At the start of the Revolution, throughout the paternalistic lying during the march to power, Fidel Castro strictly applied his repetitive slogans: “Elections? What for?”; “Guns? What for?”; Amnesty? What for?” These were among the other “What for?” slogans that emptied out all the common sense that previously existed in our nationality. The Revolution not only installed itself by decree as the source of all rights, it also made itself the arbiter of reason. Everything else became an afterthought: money, for example. We should then publicly confront that same philanthropic octogenarian before senility turns him into ashes and ask him: “Investment? What for?”

And maybe he will respond with that European fascist plagiarism of himself in 1953: Invest in Cuba, it does not matter, history will confiscate you.

Translated by Alberto de la Cruz from Babalu blog.
1 August 2014

Freedom: Not AP, Nor USAID, Nor Investments, Nor Cardinal, Nor Reforms, Nor Castro

15 08 2014

14 August 2014