Oct
14
2009
0

La Libreta

(Photo: Roy Llera)

(Photo: Roy Llera)

The rationing book is a form of control, relegating people to paralyzing hours in line for the meager handouts as freighters loaded with goods for the tourist hotels pull into Havana harbor. According to this AP story, Cuban state-run media (which has a monopoly on expression) are suggesting that the rationing should come to an end. This seems to be part of Raul Castro’s lurching steps toward economic reform, but it is a example of how difficult it will be to implement changes in a fragmented way.
(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Cuban Revolution |
Sep
23
2009
0

The Mexican trafficking route

Photo courtesy Diario Milenio

Photo courtesy Diario Milenio

I came across this article in the Miami Herald today, recounting how a group of 14 Cubans were smuggled out of the island on a fast boat and held hostage in a safe house in Cancún, Mexico.

This is very similar to the ordeal Jorge went through, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the same group of smugglers was involved. The sad thing is that this is a network of Cubans making an illegal profit on the desperation of their countrymen, and are ready to torture and kill if the business goes sour.

(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,migration |
Sep
20
2009
2

Juanes, the difficult terrain of neutrality.

Juanes and Ché, its hard to be apolitical in Havana..

Juanes and Ché, its hard to be apolitical in Havana..


Colombian rock singer Juanes has caused quite a stir in his adopted hometown of Miami for his project of bringing a stellar roster of Latin musicians to a mega concert in Havana. Today, after facing a storm of controversy among exile Cubans for several weeks, the concert, called Peace Without Borders is in full swing in the Plaza de la Revolución with an audience of over a million people.

To people outside the Cuban sphere the controversy surrounding this concert may be hard to comprehend, and I will attempt to shed some light on the subject.
(more…)

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Sep
01
2009
0

Support for Cuban embargo declining among exiles

usa_cuba Today’s Miami Herald:
A Bendixen poll of Aug. 24th shows support for the embargo eroding, mainly among the younger generations. Overall there is no longer a clear consensus for maintaining the restrictions on trade.

While most of the older exiles maintain it is a necessary punishment for the Castro brothers, others doubt the benefits of the 47 year long policy and some maintain it has only helped strengthen the regime’s hold on the Cuban people, providing a convenient excuse for its deficiencies.

President Obama has said that the release of political dissidents are a prerequisite to lifting the embargo.

Poll results
Miami Herald Article

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Aug
10
2009
0

Reporters Without Borders ads

Form Reporters Without Borders 2008 report on Cuba:
The handover of power to President Castro’s brother has not seen any improvement in human rights. The form of repression has changed from political trials to daily brutality. Twenty journalists held since the “black spring” crackdown of March 2003 continue to serve sentences of between 14 and 27 years in prison. Three others have been jailed since Raúl Castro took over.Twenty of the 27 journalists arrested in the “black spring” crackdown of March 2003 continue to serve their sentences of between 14 and 27 years in prison.

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Jul
29
2009
0

Update: Yoani Gold Medalist


On checking out Yoani’s blog after writing today’s post, I learned that she has been honored by the prestigious Journalism School of Columbia University with their 2009 Maria Moors Cabot prize for outstanding Reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean.

(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
29
2009
0

Yoani Sánchez


I have mentioned Yoani before on this blog, but I haven’t provided much information about her besides linking to her blog posts.

What makes Yoani so admirable and unique is that she is one of the few Cuban bloggers who post from Cuba without hiding her identity. I came across this Wall Street Journal article from 2007 that gives a good indication of what makes Yoani tick.

(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
12
2009
0

Culture “only for the people”

thepeople
It is tragicomic how in repressive leftist regimes the words “the people” is used to justify a supposed supremacy of the masses, while in fact being a license for a small privileged caste to repress others. (liberators often find themselves continuing the job of deposed tyrants) Even “the people” will be punished in the name of “the people” if need be.

I’m not talking about the genuine struggles in which workers have attained important rights through protests and other political means throughout the 20th century. In this sense, the use of the term “the people” has a long and honorable tradition of fighting the status quo for a more just society. My problem is with authoritarian leaders who abuse the term to lend validation to ruthless powergrabs and abuse of authority in the name of the people, die volk, or the proletariat.

When Chávez in Venezuela designates new political authorities above the rank of the newly elected mayors from the opposition, this does not, in the jargon of the Bolivarian Revolution, negate the wishes of the electorate. Rather, it is the will of “the people”, because “the people” have elected Chávez to do their bidding. In this case “the people ” can also be a synonym for their leader. Get it? In the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia, atrocities were committed on the people, by the people, in the name of the people. After “God”, “the people” is probably the second most invoked justification for violence and oppression. “Freedom” is a new recent favorite, as seen in Iraq.

In Cuba the Castros has been doing the will of “the people” for 50 years. So well indeed that all the non-people have been forced to flee by throwing themselves to sea in a slow purification process which surely has left “the people” in Cuba in such a state of unanimity that free speech is redundant.

Still, there are troublesome elements such as Yoani Sánchez, the tireless Cuban opposition blogger who obviously relishes being an enemy of “the people”, which is the reason for this post.
(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
09
2009
0

World Affairs Journal on Cuba

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/2009%20-%20Summer/full-Gjelten.html

© World Affairs

In his article “Cuban Days: The Inscrutable Nation”
Tom Gjelten of World Affairs has written the rare thing that is a balanced, extensive and informative article about contemporary Cuba, carefully detailing the sense that the island is at a crossroads.

Subjects touched on include:

  • The “special period” of hard times after the collapse of the Soviet Union when many analysts expected Cuba to follow suit.
  • The rafter exodus in 1994 and the hushed national discussion it sparked.
  • The challenge for the Castros in dealing with a progressive U.S. president, not easily demonized.
  • Blogger Yoani Sánchez and the internet censorship.
  • The benefits of a totalitarian state in emergencies such as Hurricane Ivan.
  • The CDRs and the imposed loyalty the regime demands.
  • Dissidents and undercover informants.
  • The different paths that Cuban “change” might take.
  • Interesting quote from a commentator:
    “The Castro regime has destroyed any nationalist sentiment among the youth sector of the population. . . . Emigrating to the United States or waiting for Fidel Castro to die, those are the favored options in Cuba. If there were a referendum to choose between sovereignty and annexation to the colossus of the north, the independent Cuban nation would perish unnoticed.

    Comment

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    Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Cuban Revolution |
    Jul
    02
    2009
    0

    Jailed Cuban dissident writer wins Norwegian award

    Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.

    Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.


    Bloomberg reports that Normando Hernandez Gonzalez was awarded the annual Freedom of Expression award by the Norwegian Writer’s Union. Normando, whose name coincidentally means northlander, is in his sixth year of a 25 year sentence. One of the 29 independent journalists jailed during the infamous crackdown of March 2003 known as “Black Spring”, Normando’s crime was having written critical articles about the failures of the national health and education system.

    (more…)

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