Saturday, November 28, 2009


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A Prize for Yoani's Bruises

Alex, from A Grand Illusion blog, has a great post about how Cuban exile hard-liners may be "deadly scared" about the moderate political views of Yoani Sanchez, the famous Cuban blogger. In his post, Alex highlights Yoani's past moderate viewpoints and mainly responds to Mauricio Claver-Carone, from Capitol Hill Cubans, who earlier this week tried to convince Yoani that those 178 U.S. Representatives who support the lifting of travel restrictions to Cuba are really trying "to take advantage of our [Cuban] family's diversity, in the hopes of hindering our united purpose."

This desperate attempt to deceive Yoani with a tale of Congressional conspiracy absolutely reveals that hard-liners, like Claver-Carone, ARE afraid of Yoani's moderate views, and the global attention they may generate.

So how are hard-liners going to deal with Yoani? Very carefully. This means they will emphasize Yoani's criticism against the Cuban government, acts of repression against her, but when it comes to her views on U.S. policy towards Cuba, she will have no voice. This has been the pattern with all other dissidents, many of whom do not support many aspects of U.S. policy.

If you don't believe me, here's a good example. The Cuban Liberty Council (CLC), one of Miami's most powerful Cuban exile organization, awarded Yoani Sanchez their "Heroes of Freedom" prize last Saturday. The award comes after Yoani has been blogging for about two years, has already gained worldwide attention, and her blog recognized with several international awards.

Why did it take so long for the CLC to award Yoani?

Simple, she's not hard-line enough. Like Alex showed in his post, in the past Yoani has not shown to be a hard-liner or militant. At least not as hard-lined as previous winners of the "Heroes of Freedom" prize, such as Roger Noriega, Mel Martinez or Carlos Gutierrez [full list of previous winners, PDF]. So, the CLC, like other organizations, kept their distance, suspicious of her authenticity.

So what made the CLC change it's mind? Answer: Yoani got beat up by Cuban state agents on November 6th.

After being violently attacked by Cuba's repressive machinery, Yoani recieved her bona fides for the CLC. You see, Yoani's writings were not enough, it took bruises and trauma for the hard-line to embrace Yoani because she now shared their pain. But, most of all, now the CLC had good propaganda: Yoani's traumatic experience would be used as proof of the evil Cuban government.

So why do I think this is what ultimately convinced the CLC?

After the violent incident on Nov. 6th, hard-liners on Radio Mambi (and other media outlets) seemed vindicated. Armando Perez-Roura, programming director of Radio Mambi, gave increased attention to Yoani Sanchez, reading her account of the incident on Radio Mambi, even quoting her entire blog post about the incident in his weekly column for Libre magazine. A rare move.

It was finally reported on November 17th that the CLC would award Yoani Sanchez the "Heroes of Freedom" prize for "her valor, her defense for the civil liberties of the Cuban people, and for the violent attacks she fell victim to, she deserves [the prize], but mostly for knowing how to get the attention of the world with her novel cybernetic struggle." The day of the award ceremony would fall on November 21st, the same day CLC would hold their annual fundraising dinner originally titled "A Cuban Evening with Albita" (Note that this post of the event from Nov. 11th had no mention yet of the award to Yoani, possibly meaning that CLC had not yet reached a consensus to award her).

On November 19th, CLC President Diego Suarez explained to Diario Las Americas (Ena Curnow) that they contacted Yoani "close to about 15 days" ago regarding giving her the prize. That estimate falls very close to the day Yoani was violently assaulted. According to Suarez, Yoani responded by saying it would be "a great honor."

On November 21st, the CLC fundraiser and award ceremony was attended by Diego Suarez, Ninoska Perez-Castellon, Luis Zuniga, Manuel Alzugaray, the new Mayor of the City of Miami, Tomas Regalado, and (of course) Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

All names above support U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba.


Yoani Sanchez does not support U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba.

But the CLC does not care.

[Photo by Sergio Alsina. (Left to right) Ninoska Perez-Castellon, Alberto Hernandez, Diego Suarez]

Friday, November 27, 2009


EN LA ISLA ENEMIGA DEL REDUCTO ESTRENA UN DOCUMENTAL CELEBRANDO LOS 40 AÑOS DE ESA AGRUPACION HOSTIL DEL REDUCTO EXILIADO: LOS VAN VAN.

El Reducto Exiliado de Vigilia Mambisa declarando
a Juan Formell "Persona Non Grata" en Miami -Nov. 24 del 2009
Foto Villagranadillo




Estrenarán en Cuba documental por 40 años de Van Van

Escrito por Maylín Vidal
viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2009

27 de noviembre de 2009, 18:54La Habana, 27 nov (PL) La orquesta cubana Van Van festejará aquí mañana sus primeras cuatro décadas con el preestreno del documental Eso que anda, un resumen de su trayectoria desde el 4 de diciembre de 1969. La celebración por el aniversario comprende también un concierto en el capitalino teatro Karl Marx, el 9 de diciembre próximo, en el que tendrán como invitados a figuras de la música en la isla, entre ellas Omara Portuondo, y Cesar Pupy Pedro y Pedro Calvo, fundadores del grupo.Con dirección del joven cineasta Ian Padrón, Eso que anda tuvo un anticipo hoy para la prensa, a cuya proyección asistió el director de la orquesta, Juan Formell.Es el mejor regalo que pudo tener Van Van en estos 40 años, afirmó el músico en diálogo con la prensa, quien añadió que la cinta es el reflejo vivo de la agrupación.En 75 minutos su realizador se adentra en el universo de la timba cubana, una variante del son, a partir de una gira del grupo por la isla en 2006, a la que asistieron un millón de personas.Padrón trabajó ininterrumpidamente durante tres años para filmar este testimonio, que calificó de gran reto. Uno siente que está tocando la historia, subrayó.El documental recoge opiniones de personalidades como Pablo Milanés, quien destaca el trabajo de Formell como compositor y arreglista.Van Van cerrará los festejos por su 40 cumpleaños en el Festival Mundial de Salsa de Cali, Colombia, y en Panamá.ocs/may/ag

LOS VAN VAN PLANEAN 70 PRESENTACIONES EN EE.UU. CON DOS EN MIAMI. EL AÑO QUE VIENE.
Posted by VILLA GRANADILLO at 7:04 PM
Fuente: Villa Granadillo
                                                                                                                                                 


Los Van Van plan 70 concerts in the U.S. next year, but only 'one or two' in Miami

Los Van Van, Cuba's top-ranking timba band, plans to give 70 (foto2) concerts in the United States in a three-stage series in 2010 that might extend until 2011, the band's founder and musical director, Juan Formell, said Friday in Havana.
He gave no specifics, other than "one or two" of the performances might take place in Miami, where the group had a stormy reception in 1999.
"Miami has changed a lot in the past 10 years," said Formell, adding that the situation is more "favorable" to the Cubans' presence, without "so much aggressiveness." There are "many young people from Cuban families who are in favor" of a visit by Los Van Van, he said.
Formell and his son Samuel – his successor as the orchestra's leader – were attending the premiere of a documentary about the 40th anniversary of the band's creation.
The orchestra will give an anniversary concert Dec. 9 at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, featuring musicians such as singers Omara Portuondo and Pedro Calvo and pianist César "Pupy" Pedroso. Later in December, it will embark on a tour that will take it to Colombia and Panama.(foto)
–Renato Pérez Pizarro.

Posted by Renato Perez at 11:35 PM in Music, U.S.-Cuba relations
Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Source: Cuban Colada
                                             Concierto Amoral dice LPP                             

Cuba y la represión a paso de conga

Las imágenes del Mitin de Repudio de ayer en La Habana contra Reinaldo Escobar han circulado hoy profusamente por muchas televisiones e Internet.
En ellas no hay más que redundancia: el modelo de represión castrista que consiste en fabricar un «pueblo» que se encarga de reprimir, vejar y acosar. Un sistema donde la policía viene a rescatar al opositor para evitar su linchamiento por el «pueblo». Dispositivo pensado desde y para la imagen: los telespectadores nunca ven a un uniformado golpeando, pateando, insultando. Ven a los policías, esos seres bondadosos, rescatando a la víctima, pidiéndole paciencia al «pueblo» organizado y transportado ad hoc.
Es un mecanismo, admitámoslo, perfectamente concebido.
Pero nos faltaba ver esa suerte de making-of del Mitin de Repudio que son las imágenes subidas a la red por Yoani Sánchez hace unas horas. Las imágenes tomadas por un ojo situado fuera del vórtice del Mitin de Repudio.

Son fascinantes, en el sentido en que es fascinante el fascismo, según la conocida fórmula de Susan Sontag. Muestran la tramoya de la «espontaneidad». El medido y perfectamente ensayado correcorre de los organizadores del Mitin, el organizado acarreo de sillas con total indiferencia al suceso que transcurre a unos pasos ―¿no se alebresta el pueblo a la vista de «contrarrevolucionarios»?― y, sobre todo, la vecindad de esa comparsa que avanza a pocos pasos de los reprimidos con el mismo ímpetu que si lo hiciera entre bailadores pegados a sus pergas de láger.
Hay un momento de veras sublime (3:08), en que el orador de los «Pin pon, fuera…» y «La calle es de Fidel…» la emprende con los célebres versos de Bonifacio Byrne, los de que si la bandera fuera rota en pedazos, y la música lo acompaña como en reggaetón postrevolucionario.
Golpes y corneta china (¿no querían «modelo chino»?), insultos y faroleros, represión y buenos culos de rumberas, terror y trajes con los colores de Changó. «La calle es de Fidel», pero la ocupa la comparsa.
En definitiva, ayer y hoy el «pueblo» arrasa mientras la comparsa arrolla.
Si no fuera porque tratamos de lo que tratamos, de fusilados, de reprimidos, de exiliados, de encarcelados… hasta podríamos reírnos con este carnaval incesante.
Pero de risa nada. No por gusto el nombre de nuestra comparsa más célebre alude al ponzoñoso Alacrán.

UPDATE:
Una lectora me escribe: "Acabo de ver tu post y por ello te mando esta foto de la conga. No se si ya la tengas, pero la saque del nefasto de Yoandry y creo que ilustra bien tu post."
Y sí, la fotografía de esa comparsa calentando motores me parece muy atinada ilustración para este post.
Gracias, L.





Reading the fine print

When Human Rights Watch released their report on November 18th, detailing the continued brutal and violent repression of Cubans on the island, the liberal media wasted no time in pouncing upon two small paragraphs contained in the 123-page report. Located in the Recommendations section, these paragraphs call for an end to the US embargo against the Cuban dictatorship, calling it a "costly and misguided failure," and proclaiming that it "has done nothing to improve the situation of human rights in Cuba." The embargo, the report authors go on to say, does nothing but provide the dictatorship with a scapegoat for its incompetence and helps it garner sympathy from other nations.
Efforts by the US government to press for change by imposing a sweeping economic embargo have proven to be a costly and misguided failure. The embargo imposes indiscriminate hardship on the Cuban population as a whole, and has done nothing to improve the situation of human rights in Cuba. Rather than isolating Cuba, the policy has isolated the United States, enabling the Castro government to garner sympathy abroad while simultaneously alienating Washington’s potential allies.
There is no question: the Cuban government bears full and exclusive responsibility for the abuses it commits. However, so long as the embargo remains in place, the Castro government will continue to manipulate US policy to cast itself as a Latin American David standing up to the US Goliath, a role it exploits skillfully.
In the estimation of the liberal media and supporters of diplomatic relations with a vile regime, these statements by Human Rights Watch vindicate their calls for engagement and dialogue with the Castro dictatorship.
The Los Angeles Times had this to say after listing some of the crimes listed by the report that are being committed against the Cuban people.
Nevertheless, the rights group said the United States should lift its 47-year-old embargo on travel and trade with Cuba, calling it a costly failure. It urged more targeted pressure to improve human rights conditions.
"No longer would Cuba be able to manipulate the embargo as a pretext for repressing its own people," the report said.
Take the embargo away, the Los Angeles Times would like us to believe, and we deal a brutal political blow to the communist regime.
The New York Times, however, decided to take it even a step further. Not to be out-liberaled by the LA Times, the NYT decided to paint these statements by HRW as a point of solidarity between the human rights organization and the dictatorship in Cuba.
On at least one point, however, the New York-based human rights organization and the Cuban government agree: the need to end the American trade embargo on Cuba.
While Cuba considers it a cruel policy by an imperialist government that makes its citizens suffer, Human Rights Watch called it ineffective in pressuring the Cuban government to change its ways and successful only in imposing even more hardship on everyday Cubans.
The problem this interpretation of HRW's view of the embargo has is that there are more than two paragraphs addressing the US embargo in this report. As usual, the media and the supporters of the regime have cherry picked the points they agree with and left out the statements that give context to HRW's recommendations on how to deal with the Cuban dictatorship. It is true that HRW believes that the embargo has failed to improve human rights in Cuba, but what the liberal media and supporters of improved political relations with Cuba are not telling you is that the report goes on to say that the policy of engagement and dialogue being carried out by European countries and Canada is just as ineffective.
Another little tidbit being left out of news stories and speeches citing HRW's call for an end to the embargo is how the report calls for a 6-month deadline to be imposed on the regime to release all political prisoners. It goes on to say that before the US lifts the embargo, it must secure commitments from nations that engage in commerce with the regime that they will join the US in exerting political and economic sacntions on the Castro government if they fail to release these prisoners of conscience within the 6-month period.
Here is the text from the report so you can get the context of HRW's recommendations:
Just as the US embargo policy has proved counterproductive, so have the policies of the European Union and Canada failed to exert effective pressure on Cuba. The EU’s Common Policy sets clear human rights benchmarks for economic cooperation with Cuba, but the cost of noncompliance has been insufficient to compel change by the Castro government. Canada lacks such benchmarks, promoting significant investment in the island at the same time as it decries the Cuban government’s abuses.
Worse still, Latin American governments across the political spectrum have been reluctant to criticize Cuba, and in some cases have openly embraced the Castro government, despite its dismal human rights record. Countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador hold Cuba up as a model, while others quietly admit its abuses even as they enthusiastically push for Cuba’s reintegration into regional bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS). The silence of the Latin governments condones Cuba’s abusive behavior, and perpetuates a climate of impunity that allows repression to continue. This is particularly troubling coming from a region in which many countries have learned firsthand the high cost of international indifference to state-sponsored repression.
Not only have all of these policies—US, European, Canadian, and Latin American—failed individually to improve human rights in Cuba, but their divided and even contradictory nature has allowed the Cuban government to evade effective pressure and deflect criticism of its practices.
To remedy this continuing failure, the US must end its failed embargo policy. It should shift the goal of its Cuba strategy away from regime change and toward promoting human rights. In particular, it should replace its sweeping bans on travel and trade with Cuba with more effective forms of pressure.
This move would fundamentally shift the balance in the Cuban government’s relationship with its own people and the international community. No longer would Cuba be able to manipulate the embargo as a pretext for repressing its own people. Nor would other countries be able to blame the US policy for their own failures to hold Cuba accountable for its abuses.
However, ending the current embargo policy by itself will not bring an end to Cuba’s repression. Only a multilateral approach will have the political power and moral authority to press the Cuban government to end its repressive practices. Therefore, before changing its policy, the US should work to secure commitments from the EU, Canada, and Latin American allies that they will join together to pressure Cuba to meet a single, concrete demand: the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
In order to enforce this demand, the multilateral coalition should establish a clear definition of who constitutes a political prisoner—one that includes all Cubans imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights, including those incarcerated for the pre-criminal offense of “dangerousness” and the 53 dissidents still in prison from the 2003 crackdown. It should also set a firm deadline for compliance, granting the Raúl Castro government six months to meet this demand.
Most important, the members of the coalition should commit themselves to holding the Cuban government accountable should it fail to release its political prisoners. The penalties should be significant enough that they bear real consequences for the Cuban government. And they should be focused enough to target the Cuban leadership, rather than the Cuban population on the whole. Options include adopting targeted sanctions on the government officials, such as travel bans and asset freezes; and withholding any new forms of foreign investment until Cuba meets the demand.
It is interesting that after you read the fine print surrounding Human Rights Watch's call for an end to the US embargo, it sounds more like a call for the entire world to join together to pressure the despots in Havana to respect the rights of all Cubans on the island. Even more interesting is the fact that this is what the "hardliners" have been asking for all along. This is why you should always read the fine print.

Source : babalú

                                                                                                                        

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Raul Castro: "Rivers of sweat" better than blood


CBS video on YouTube

Barack Obama promised a new beginning in U.S.-Cuba relations. Cuban leaders aren't convinced the U.S. has given up trying to topple the socialist government and are carrying out large-scale military exercises this week.
The Bastion military exercises began in 1980 and have been held in 1983, 1986 and 2004, according to CUBAPOLIDATA, a blog dedicated to Cuba's military and political affairs.
The best way to avoid war is to be prepared for it, Division Gen. Leonardo Andollo said during a Cuban television program explaining the military exercises.
Or, as Raul Castro has put it:
It's better to spill rivers of sweat than rivers of blood.
The exercises end Saturday, just before National Day of Defense on Sunday.


U.S. government policy toward Cuba is to promote regime change and American officials are spending tens of millions of dollars toward that end. But I don't believe U.S. military forces have any intention of invading Cuba.

Cuban officials, I suspect, want ordinary people to think that an American invasion is a real possibility. That makes it easier for them to whip up nationalistic support and distract people from their daily troubles.


Link:
Along the Malecon's Raul Castro, military & domestic affairs page