Jul 30, 2008

La otra cara de la leyenda negra

O sea que, todo parece indicar que a Abel Santamaría los esbirros de Batista nunca le sacaron los ojos (o el ojo, pues ni su propia hermana estuvo muy segura cuando declaró ante el juez).

Le zumba el merequeté! (Tendrá eso algo que ver con el suicidio de la señora?; nada especulando un poco...)

Acabo de caer de la mata con el sneak-preview que el Profesor Antonio de la Cova da en su contestación, publicada en el blog de Emilio Ichikawa, a un artículo del periódico Trabajadores.

En "A Mano Limpia", el año pasado salieron a la luz muchos más detalles. Primera Parte. Segunda Parte. Tercera Parte. Cuarta Parte. Quinta Parte. Sexta Parte

Con razón en los libros de historia que me "tocaron" --después de quedar con el corazón arrugado ante tanto cuento detallado de tanta tortura-- nunca vi ninguna foto del pobre mártir sin ojos. A mí, por lo que veo, me tocó "la leyenda negra".

Hasta qué punto puedo saber qué tanta verdad hubo en la historia que me tocó aprender? Me pregunto dónde estarán las fotos originales que los militares tomaron de los muertos? Habrán desaparecido por relevelaban algunas inconvenient truths? La de la prueba de la parafina es, indiscutiblemente, una de las más poderosas.

Cada día que pasa, cada nuevo libro o documento que leo me lleva a pensar que la manipulación siempre estuvo al orden del día, con el único propósito de servir a sus intereses y de que los cleaning agents que usaban en nuestros cerebros fuesen siempre 100% efectivos.

No puedo hacer más que sumar otro título a mi lista de re-educación y ya lo he pedido en la biblioteca: "The Moncada Attack: birth of the Cuban Revolution". Creo que nunca es tarde para remendar las concepciones equivocadas, torcidas o siemplemente, demasiado ajustadas a los intereses de cualquier bando.

Jul 29, 2008

He has his tax plan, and I certainly do have mine

I've been reading so much lately about Obama's plans to increase taxes in all humanly (and not so human) possible ways, that I've lost track of all the sources.

For sure, I can not even link all of them here... the space wouldn't be enough.

But, after reading and seeing one number next to other in this Michael J. Boskin op-ed in the WSJ (Thanks to Cigar Mike, from Babalú, who is as traumatized as MDH and I with these nonsense); I've come with my own plan.

If America ends up with an economics's illiterate chief of command whose first signature will go toward an illiterate decision of raising taxes, this Cubanita over here will certainly follow with another illiterate decision.

I will quit my job, became a full time Mom... and off we go to live on welfare!!!
Isn't that Mr. "O" ultimate goal anyway, you know, la igualdad and all that BS?

So here I am, a case-study example of the golden nugget of Boskin's essay:

"The result is a remarkable reduction in work incentives for our most economically productive citizens" ... "Despite the rhetoric, that's not just on "rich" individuals. It's also on a lot of small businesses and two-earner middle-aged middle-class couples in their peak earnings years in high cost-of-living areas".

Now I've got to go... I've to stop by local social service office to pick up the truckload of applications.

Who knows... after November, I might even be able to get a gas devouring SUV and a bunch of golden chains with all the virgins habidas y por haber, while living in lowest income bracket and with public assistance. Y qué viva la Pepa! --FYI, I'm just being sarcastic.

Jul 28, 2008

Digg this... if you can

OK. An introductory disclaimer is required: I usually do not buy gossip magazines because most if the time I’m done reading “the meat” of them by the time I finish my line at the cashier at any given grocery store.

However, I sometimes give up when I’m in the airport, facing a several hours trip and I’ve made the mistake to forget my book in the kitchen counter. That’s when I usually grab whatever is closer in order to have something to read.

That being said, I know those impulses have its consequences and long-term side effects, but what I saw a few days ago while flying to Arizona left me just … speechless (to keep the politeness over here)

Subject in this case was Marie Claire’s August issue and its “Marie Claire Sexy 101” section, on page 24. Introduced as … “here is our definitive It list of the celebs, splurges, trends, and places that will leave you begging for more”.

There, between the sexiest shoes (Chistian Louboutin stilettos), kitchen aid (Ascaso Dam espresso-maker) and fix (dark chocolate anything –which I totally agree with), in the number 47, was listed the sexiest nation.

Wanna bet? Cuba.

Marie Claire’s explanation –and I quote? “Fidel’s out, cell phones and home ownership are in. Let’s get this party started!”

Ay Dios mío! Por eso es que estamos como estamos.

Indeed,it's OK to feature serious topics like anorexia and Iraqi refugees surviving as prostitutes. But no, it's not OK to feature the reality of a country, a society and more than one generations destroyed by a communist dictatorship. I guess that's not cool or even closer to be hot trend, right?

Please, someone tell me the side effects of this idiotic are not going to last forever.
Please, please…

Jul 23, 2008

Things can change... in a New York minute

A few days ago I spent a pretty busy week attending a Medical Interpreter Training Institute at the University of Arizona in Tucson --which was, by the way, awesomely good.

While there, battling the stove-style heat, I became accustomed to the typical Arizona landscaping scene: cactus and sand all over the place.

And now, looking at this picture of a mini-Tucson landscape potted in our hotel main entrance, I can't help to think how things can change in life.

Sometimes, it just takes a blink.

While I was there, Rev. Al Sharpton took the side of the black Cuban political prisoners --finally!, living proof of The New York Times biases flew throughout the net, a Cuban hero celebrated another birthday in prison, and I read this column in The Denver Post that felt just so right.

On top of that, my colleague and roommate in Tucson turned out to be a very fine conservative and Republican lady --kind of scarce where I live nowadays-- from whom I learned a lot during our endless conversations about Cuba and the US politics. Nos dimos gusto!

Meanwhile, my father was having a heart attack.

And I was not able to be by his bedside.
And I don't know when I'll be able to be with him.

My life, indeed, changed. In a New York minute.

And here I am, struggling with that fact when he is so close to join us. Struggling with endless red tape and paperwork. Struggling with the fact that even living in the North Pole, as long as you really care about the family you left behind, you can't be free. You will never be.

Prayers and good wishes are more than welcomed.

Jul 11, 2008

"We're the heirs of two generations of unfullfilled dreams"

A good reminder to close the week, brought to you by Marco Rubio, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, during the CANF luncheon where Obama was invited.

In a matter of five minutes, Rubio brought down to earth those Cuban Americans attending the event. And he did it in an obvious not-so-political friendly stage. That's the difference between living in Miami and living in Havana, as he pointed out to the audience.

Why do I identified with his speech 100%?

Well, because I also believe that we'll always be the sons and daugthers of exiles (in my case, my son will be). We'll also be the sons and daugthers of those who left their homeland and put aside their own dreams in order to have this generation of Cubans Americans, born and raised in freedom, that we have today.

That's why I recently posted about that column I didn't like. Because, again, we may have quite a few differences in our points of view, but we owe them big time.
Big time.

The least that we can do is be respectful of their positions.
The least that you can do is thank them every single day.

Hopes and history

In this radiography of Cuba's reality, Carlos Alberto Montaner explains the island's only two choices for the future: transition or disaster.

Let's hope we're going to witness the first one.
Let's hope...

Bonus: why rancor is killing a lot of societies out there and a quite interesting lesson of American history, with some party dirty laundry included.
Read it here.

Jul 10, 2008

Cuba's FICO score

It’s good there are not such things as credit history or credit reporting agencies in Cuba. Otherwise, they poor guys working in there would be literally pulling their hairs dealing with a customer whose credit score would be, like, -850 (yes, that’s a minus sign).

If it would be possible to pull out Cuba’s credit report, the list of delinquent accounts would take a zillion pages to print out.

The latest example came out a couple of days ago, when the Canadian oil company Pebercan made public the fact that castro’s inc owes them a big time chunk of money for their shared operations with CUPET (Cuba Petróleos).

" Of the $39,136M owed to the Company, only $2M has been paid so far", states the press release.

Why am I not surprised? Well, because there are no worse blinds than those who do not want to see… (In my rough translation of the Cuban saying).

Despise hard evidences like this, there are people here in the US that still want to openly do business with a government that has like the wost credit history in earth.

Give it a try and you'll lear from yourselves. Do not collect the payment in cash and upfront and you all savvy businessmen are going to learn the lesson the hard way.

(And note that I say government because they are the ones responsible for that failure. Change the goverment to a democracy and free market and you'll see how things change)

On top of that, the very own regimen press informed that the foreign investments projects in the island are coming down after raúl inherit the plantation; I mean, was invested as new president.

I guess this is a hard proof of the reforms implemented by the new owner, I mean, president, but that’s a topic for another post…

So, classroom, what’s today’s hard-core lesson?
Que quien se acuesta con niños amanece mojado.

Which mean that if you as country or company are putting yourself at risk by dealing with the representatives of a failed economic experiment, in a country that has been massively destroyed (economically and in all senses) in the past 50 years… what else were you expecting anyway?

I, that am not economics nor business savvy, think that as long as anybody does business with them without covering their backs, they have big time chances to lose, let’s say… up their shoes. It does not take a PhD to realize that.

I wonder if any Colorado businessmen is aware of these news...

Jul 9, 2008

Chronicles of old Cuban school days

Juanito is a Cuban teenager, attending a middle school at a given place in Havana. For the past seven years o so, his teacher has been a boring TV set, and another young individual that barely passes Juanito’s age.

He has been in the hands of the so called maestros emergentes for quite a few years now. His mother –one of the lucky ones with income in dollars, has been paying him private classes for a long time. Lucky Juanito, whose father lives in the US and every month, sends him the alimony in the currency that can, literally, save you life in Cuba.

The case of the student killed by one of those teachers happened close to his house in Havana. He is aware of the sexual violations and bizarre behaviors these teachers engage in their collective residences in Havana.

Yes, because they are not permanent residents of the capital. Like most police offices, they are being hauled from the provinces, to try to cover the alarming shortage of teachers in the capital. Let’s not even think about what could be happening in the schools in other provinces' classooms...

The last weeks if this school year, Juanito was told he had to keep going to school, not matter they were not perceiving any instruction. Not TV, not teenager teacher.

They were told they had to keep going to school to clean all the premises. They did clean almost everything in a couple of days. Fortunately for him, he got sick and stayed at home the rest of those days. His classmates later told him when there was nothing else to clean, the emergent teacher would dump the trash they already picked up again in the floor, so the student would have a reason to keep cleaning.

A few days ago Juanito breathed relieved when he was awarded at place to study in a IT technological institute in Havana. He was not sure he could make it.

Despite the poor education he has received in the classroom, he has gotten very good grades. But that is not what counts; he said what counts to be accepted in the institute is your political involvement, you compromise with the revolution, how many marches have you attended in each school year and, on top of that, the evaluation that the teacher in charge of the political guidance of the school gives to each student.

(What's next? Are they going to keep a record of how many times in you student's life you say 'Pioneros por el comunismo, seremos como el Ché!". Poor thing Juanito... he'll now need to come up close and personal with the Brigadas de Respuesta Cibernéticas...)

Juanito is a fictional name.

But the boy is a real kid, living in a neighborhood west of Havana and these are some of his real life experiences. Real life experiences that –although they are very familiar to me because I also live them, sometimes just get me in “What??!!”

It is inevitable to think that I was lucky enough to be in on of the best high schools in Havana. Even though we were carefully selected to enter the school (interned, of course) there I saw for the first time in my life teachers in their 40’s having sexual relations with girls between 15-17 years. There I heard for the first time of students smoking marijuana in the school and consuming pills to get doped. I saw mattresses set on fire because the student sleeping in that bed was gay… and it was one of the best schools.

When you hear the stories of MDH years in middle and high school, both interned in the countryside of Havana province, you may perfectly think you are hearing the stories of gang violence in the streets of LA. He saw gangs, he saw murder, he saw attacks with machetes and knives, and he saw bullying taken to the cruelest expression of sexually attacking the shy boys or those showing off any indication of being gay. He saw the gangs prompting depressed students to jump from a third floor. He saw student’s suicides.

And these are the experiences of two simple young Cubans raised and educated to be the hombre nuevo of a failed revolution, the hombre nuevo of a highly hypocritical regime.

And our years in the school were during the “good” years, when the direct pipe from Russia to Cuba was still up and running. We were lucky to at least have real teachers, most of them pretty damn good. The experiences of Juanito’s generation, enjoying the wonders of Cuba’s free education are scarier.

If I would have had the freedom to choose, if my parents would have had the freedom to decide about my education, if we would have had... we would have refused the so called free education chimera.

We would have chosen freedom, at any cost. Even if we would have to pay it in monthly installments.

And now, after all these years, I’ve come to wake up with the news that the Cuban government has finally come to terms to publicly recognize than more than half of their middle school teachers don’t have a diploma o are have not graduated. In Havana it's about 80%.

Really? No me digas? Coño, qué clase de noticia!

Jul 8, 2008

Going back to Old Fashion Cuban style or, re-thinking the bushes

It was Monday morning and while this Cubanita was trying to wake up her brain after some quite busy days off, I had my cafecito on the right hand and started opening the local paper with my left.

First image that struck my still sleeping eyes are two consecutive doors in what it seems to be a public restroom. Underneath the door on the left is a little girl. Underneath the door on the right is a grown-up man. What’s wrong with this?, I thought.

And, Bang! Right there I read for the first time about an anti-discrimination bill signed by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (Democrat, by the way) about a month ago, that for some reason that I don’t know mixes up opening the access to public bathrooms to any sex with expanding the protection against discrimination.

A bill that, for another whole bunch of reasons that I don’t know, can not be revoked and/modified by Colorado voters.

Ehemmm… Excuse me?

Then I started to rush the words out of my mouth, telling MDH about it. And he was like: “What the heck are you talking about?!”. And mami on the other side, with her old saying: “That’s what happens when you live with all that libertinaje”.

I strongly reject all kind of discrimination against anything and anybody and consider myself an open-minded woman. I grew up in a society so repressive where the individual was so dominated in all senses, that I agree, with all my heart that any individual should live the way they want without having anybody else judging them.

But sharing the bathroom and my private needs with men or whomever is now allow to enter any public bathroom or locker room is for me, let’s say, like another whole 20 bucks…

For what I’ve read so far, the new bill goes above and beyond with what will be considered an act of discrimination against somebody, but it’s mostly focused in sexual orientation. The official name is Colorado SB-200, but the bathroom issue has come to widely rename it as the “bathroom bill”.

All but one single state congressman that approved SB-200 are Democrats; in a state legislature mostly dominated by burros (Ah!, the beauty of nicknames) in a state considered as “swing state” for the upcoming presidential elections. The ACLU, of course, could not be absent.

This bill even has serious implications regarding publishing something that someone could considerate as discriminatory, targeting religious and Christian teaching and values… what’s next?

Should we flush our First Amendment rights in the same bathrooms we share with individuals with any “sexual perceived image”?

Some groups getting ready to fight it allege that this could be an open invitation to sexual predators and mirahuecos to log a heck of overtime. Those who approved and support the bill said that evidence has proven their arguments wrong.

Then, I can’t help to think when we are in a family going out or something, when my Mom, myself or both enter a public bathroom and my husband usually wait for us outside, close to the door.

What will he feel, do, think or say if any day in the future, while we are inside the restroom, he sees a man like him entering the place where were are conducting our private business? What will happen if we have a daughter and she is the one entering the public restroom?

Don’t even want to think about it.

Good thing that we live in a campito.
We’re definitively going back to the bushes.

Jul 7, 2008

While we were having a good time...

toasting at the pools, firing up the grills and watching the fireworks, all in the name of the dearest freedom we enjoy every single day in America... Cuban "reformist-opened-visibly changing" government was instructing the political police to round up several pacific dissidents.

Let me say it again: pacific dissidents.

One of them, Leonardo Miguel Bruzón Ávila, once considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, is still missing. Bruzón disappeared in Havana on July 3rd, at 5 a.m. The list of the dissidents arrested is posted at Directorio Democrático Cubano.

So, next time you're hanging your red-white and blue flags and banners, and giving thanks for your freedom after each firework cracks up, allow yourself a minute to think and talk about those peaceful Cuban dissidents fighting a monster.

They are fighting for the freedoms that we, often times, simply take for granted.

H/T to Uncommon Sense and Babalú Blog.

Forced landing after 4th of July

It’s nice to have a mini-vacation now and then, especially when you can match it with a 4th of July day in the pool, with my kiddo having pizza for the first time in his life, along with another relaxed informal get-together dinner with Venezuelan friends, with their own view of the fireworks.

Too bad that I had to come back to reality and start the week with the news that the UPEC (Cuban “journalists” organization) gave raúl castro the card that identifies him as an active member.

Raúl, a journalist? Yeah… sure… and elephants have wings and every day fly to the moon. Should I start explaining how you enter J-school in Havana, how you're taught about impartial coverage, ethics and so on... No, I better don't even start on that one.

But that’s not all. No, qué va!
Val, at Babalú, brings the news that the dictatorship’s official typewriters –I mean, Cuban journalists working for the government media (whom, BTW, do not having anything in common with Cuban independent journalists reporting ‘the real Cuba’) proposed to award hugo ‘disgusting monkey’ chávez with the José Martí medal.
A journalism honoring medal for chávez? They've got to be kidding me...

Did something explode in the universe while I was on vacation?
What on earths are the so-called journalists smoking lately back in Havana?

Jul 2, 2008

Colombia: Ingrid Betancourt rescued

Ingrid Betancourt, three American contractors and several other FARC hostages have been rescued by the Colombian Army.

The news is all over... slapping the face of those criticizing Colombia's army all the time. A successful intelligence operation with not casualties or collateral damages.

Je, je, je... qué pasó tigre (monkey) chávez? Se te cayeron las rayas?

Jul 1, 2008

A column I didn't like

For quite a few days now I haven’t been able to dissipate the rage I felt after reading Armengol’s column in El Nuevo Herald “El exilio del despilfarro”.

I don’t know him –and certainly now I am not even interested in reading him again, but I wonder where did he attend J-school and whether he flunked his ethics class. If he ever had any ethics at all… well, I guess then que era verde y se la comió un chivo.

My rage comes not only from the vulgar and tres-por-kilo style he uses to attack the Cuban exile, but from the lousy and poorly supported arguments he uses (or misuses) to try to support his point. (From where is this guy anyway?)

Even if he has a point at some issues –like that the Elián saga ended up benefiting the dictatorship more than anything, again, the means used by him completely disqualifies his views, at least for me.

The thing here, you see, is that even if you don’t agree with something or want to criticize someone, the least that you can do is do it respectfully.

Respect for the elders –whether they are right or wrong, according to your views, is the least an honorable man should do. Even more, what someone who calls himself a journalist is bound to do, to honor the ethics of the profession.

Who the hell told him Cubans do not rely on Radio Marti to know the reality of the world that exists out of castro’s tropical gulag? He obviously does not have the slightest idea of what he is talking about. He doesn't know that countless Cubans and Cuban families –like my own, rely on Radio Martí to have at least the feeling they are humans living on Earth in the 21st century.

However, my biggest (WTF??) moment came when he talked about Cuban independent journalists; those that are reporting from the island.

What the hell does he know about them, their daily lives, the risks they face to send out to the world the realities of Cuba?

What the hell do you know, Armengol, sitting in your comfy chair in downtown Miami about them? Who on earth gave you the right to humiliate and refer to them in such a despicable manner?

O sea, pero que c..... qué le pasa a este tipo?!

The coup de grace, however, does not come from my writing. It comes from one of those journalists whose image Armengol tried to damage. Very well written (no matter if he has a journalist diploma or not) from Ciego de Ávila, by José Manuel Caraballo Bravo.

Grieving for someone I've never met

I never met Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz.

I didn’t even know who he was until a couple of months ago, when I read Huber Matos’ testimony, “Cómo llegó la noche”.

I am grieving his loss, though.

And I feel sad to learn how he spent the last days of his life, after having given so much for Cuba’s freedom, after being one of the first ones that realized the whole scam behind castro’s rising to power.

It’s sad to see the loss of these veterans that have never lost the hope of a free Cuba.

It might sound lousy and cursi, but it’s like if my generation has lost a source of knowledge; a source to go when looking for the truth about the ®obolution. A place to go to rehabilitate our washed-up brains after being born under castro’s model for the hombre nuevo.

Que en paz descanse.

(Photo source: Prof. De la Cova / Latin American Studies)