Mar 31, 2008

Aló, aló??!!

Qué si haló? Tanto haló que hasta la yegua se llevó!!!

A little pinareña joke to start off the week, because, after half a week taking care of an almost complete sick household, what else can one do when reading the latest news from Cuba?

I was really excited about being able to call my relatives in Boca de Galafre, San Juan y Martínez or Guane, now that they should be getting a post in the three block cola en la shopping the Pinar to buy their newly assigned right to freedom of speech, ahem, I mean, cell phone.

But, I wonder, how would they do that when the sole price of the phone, converted into Cuban pesos because, let me tell you, regular Cuban dudes are paid in pesos, nor in dollars, it's way too much more that the salary they make a year harvesting some yucas, raising some pigs and working in la escogida...

Well, maybe things are not that bad over there and they will chose to, instead of buying an old crappy cell phone and paying the prohibited monthly charges, go ahead and have a hell of a time in el Hotel Nacional, or maybe, en el Meliá Varadero?

Or, wait, how stupid I am! They are probably getting ready to defrost half a cow in their new microwave, even though their house still have dirt floors and a metallic zinc roof and the electricity is a luxury they enjoy, let's say, like four hours a day?

Dam it, it's so sad.
It's so sad to see how the Cuban people is being tainted like a dog with a treat, just to create the image that you're giving freedom, when the real thing is that you're giving table scrapes to a whole society that simply does not know any better. And, on top of that, table scrapes they can't even afford!

A sordid interchange of "out-of-people-reach-gadgets" and basic human rights is taking place under raul "reformist" government. Are they really thinking they are going to shut people up from demanding their basic freedom? What a crap!

But what's even crappier it's that in newspapers, newscasts and websites everywhere even more stupid individuals are selling the story of real reforms taking place in Cuba.

The whole point being missed spin around one verb: permitir (allow). From now on, Cuban will be allowed to buy cell phones, microwaves, computers (without access to Internet, of course), toasters, and, on top of that, they will be allowed to stay at hotels.

Let's cut it to the chase: what would the average American Joe --or the average guy from anywhere else in the world-- would say (or think, or do) if they need to wait for the government to allow them to have a cell phone, to stay in a hotel, to have a computer, to say "I won't vote for this ...", to say in a public speech "I have a dream", to write a non-censored letter to his/her local newspaper, to be protected by the 1st amendment... and the list could go on, and on, and on... forever.

The headline from El Compañero and Pong's cartoon make a whole lot of sense.

I'm telling you; I should have stayed at home, taking care of las inhalaciones de mi mamá and wiping off Nicolás nose. That is way too less disgusting!

Mar 26, 2008

Mar 24, 2008

Blogs bloqueados "a la Cuban"

Why I am not surprised?
Well, because after all, we're talking about Cuba.

Now it's vox populi that two blogs being written from Cuba, with, let's say, "not very favorable views of the mess", have been blocked from the island, to the island's viewers. Zip.

No more Generación Y or Potro Salvaje. (Por ahora, I would like to think).

No more freedom of speech. "C'Mon! Did you really believed you have it in the first place", are the communication segurosos saying while I post here.

I wanted to save a round up of the news, you know, for the sake of history.

With Yoani's take at Babalú.
At Penúltimos Días and other newspaper's sites, with a lot of comments.

What I think? Not that much... it was too good to be true. Remember, we're talking about of freedom of speech, in Cuba.

For me, sounded kind of weird Yoani's open posts describing how she accessed the internet and posted in her blog. More or less the same with el potro, openly asking for tips to skip the censorship.

Did they really never thought that all the mono-neuronales from the aparato will be able to read and track those blogs as well? Or were they in componenda with them? (UCI-show kind of stuff)

I honestly don't know what to think. Although, as always, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Time will tell.

A la orden, mi coma-andante! (jr?)

Los vendieron como a Chacumbele.
No questions asked.

Debería darles verguenza. Pero bueno, no se le pueden pedir peras al olmo. Eso no está en el manual del entrenamiento que han recibido.

Hay un refrán muy cubano que mi mamá diría en un caso como este, pero me abstengo de incluirlo aquí (A un bagazo poco caso ...); como que no es apto para menores.

Thanks, we don't need a new definition of gusanos. And even when an image can speak a thousand words, nunca está de más leerlas y repasarlas, one more time.

Para eso nos sobra decencia, y conciencia.

Image from Alfredo Pong, at CubaHumor

Yes, I did finished another book

And I still am in "wow", again.

I, honestly, don't even know what to say, at least regarding the content. It's been too many revelations and a very strong urge to tell them, out loud and clear, to so many people wandering out there.

Fontova's book has amused me, one more time. It had opened me the wide doors of knowledge and I see it as a call to honesty and decency and a lot of people out there should be listening.

The revealed facts, in that direct style that I love, are stunning. The book burning in January 1959, the sales and the profits from art pieces and private collections the castro's regimen have been doing since day one --after having them "nacionalizadas" from their rightful owners-- the obsession with the destruction of New York City, the pregnant women sent to el paredón and so many others. Damn it, there were some parts that got me crying. A lot. (By thw way, the list of books to read keeps growing longer)

And I felt disgusted when I remember how many ponencias (written projects) I did about che in school, to get the extras I needed for my grades, to be able to get into a better high-school... it was just a written lie based on another written and published lie. My sources were no near Fontova's book.
Today I can't help to laugh a lot about my stupidity and innocence, about my commitment to shine at school with those extra projects. Shame on me. But, again, how would I know?

That reminded me a conversation we had this weekend with MDH first son, a teenager that still lives in Cuba. He had been such a good student! He was telling us about his choices to continue studying after secundaria (junior high school), what he likes, how he had the best grades but, for that field, the students were being selected upon their "integrity", which means, going to the marches, attending the mesa redonda debates, becoming a chivato in the making in your neighborhood.

He's still not sure if he'll be able to study what he likes. His only credentials are his good grades.

"What for all that sacrifice studying?", my husband asked him. "It would have been better that you would go to all the marches and all that crap instead of studying; now you would be able to study what you really like", he added.

Why I am not surprised?. Well, because I've been there before. I've been in that position where you don't know anything better outside the geographical prison you live in. That's why I wouldn't dare to judge him, whatever decision he makes.

That's why Fontova's book needs to travel way beyond the borders of the United States. Because knowledge is the only thing that can really set us free.

Mar 20, 2008

Revisiting my date with freedom

Remember my affair with freedom a few days ago?

And my Two Cents over there in Babalú, regarding the reactions towards the Cuban soccer players that recenlty decided to dramatically change el rumbo de sus vidas?

Well, today I found a more detailed explanation of some of the feelings I was traying to portray with those comments, courtesy of the fellow Cuban blogger that runs Belascoaín y Neptuno.

Please, note that, as I've said before, it all depends on the individual and surely, only time will tell --énfasis mío.

"Estas fases son aplicables a cualquiera que salga de la isla por avión y decida no regresar a la jaula grande. (Los balseros llegan a Estados Unidos ―si llegan― curados de espanto; quienes cruzan la frontera o quienes piden asilo político tan pronto pisan el primer aeropuerto foráneo también suelen estar exentos de estas fases).

Cuánto tiempo dura cada fase varía por caso y depende de factores internos ―el peso corporal de cada individuo―, así como de condicionantes externos que incluyen: número de familiares que dejó en la isla; número de compatriotas en fase militante (ver definición abajo) con quienes está en contacto sistemático; acceso enfermizo a internet, donde leerá decenas de blogs que toquen el tema cubano; etc. Etcétera ―decía un eximio profesor hace década y media― es lo que uno no sabe".

And I can tell you for sure; the level of exposure that you have to blogs plays a crucial role. At least it was in my particular case.

Being a reporter --although always advocating for the Cuban cause and commited to enlighten the masses with the truth-- I'd always find myself facing the resistance of the leftist castro lovers that lives in ignorance, along with the journalistic duty to avoid biases (aunque, en realidad, nunca tuve la oportunidad de escribir mucho sobre Cuba, since "it was not relevant for our readership").

But, when I discovered the blogosphere, blogger and the freedom to write whatever I liked, no autocensura allowed here (except for extraodinary security reasons) ; I truly realized the power that I have in my hands, and my computer keyboard.

Not only for the sake of my child's heritage and my family memories, but also for the cause of Cuba's freedom.

Only then I started to appreciate the value of having your own militancia, in your very own terms, y sin tener que pagar cotización.

That's why when I write (or blog) is when I really feel that freedom is not a chimera, and that I have it quite close to me. And I feel damn thankful for it.

Mar 18, 2008

Remembering a black spring

Today is a sad day to remember.
It takes me back to Cuba, to the days of the 2003 spring, when the regimen's political police threw in the gulag's prisons 75 pacific dissidents, most of them independent journalists and librarians.
For some it is not a secret that their groups were infiltrated by castro's segurosos. Not news in that country, where you are being watched by everybody, everywhere and anytime.
It also takes me back to the day that I decided I will finally pursue a career in journalism in the United States. Sadly, the news also gave me the topic for the essay I wrote to be accepted in FIU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
In a very subtle way, I saw it as my own homage to them; to their courage, to their families and to all the innocent victims of castro's dictatorship.

But, above all, these are the days when we hold Angelito and Bertica in a very special place. And even when they are always in our minds all year around since year 2003, these are the days when we think of Lieny and Machi the most.
Some day, hopefully pretty soon, I'll be able to explain why.
For now, I keep them in my prayers. Here, they will never be forgotten.
Sites cited in this post include: Babalú, Uncommon Sense, PayoLibre and Blog for Cuba. Thanks!

Mar 14, 2008

Se busca: a date with freedom

Well, I have to be honest; I've met the concept of freedom not that long ago. Seven years and two months, to be more exact. And boy, I do like a lot!

All this came to mind in the past few days, after seeing the news and blog posts about the seven Cuban soccer players that defected while playing in Tampa. (I've got tell you that I have serious issues with the word "defect", but that's something for another post).

It all started after reading CubaWatcher's post at Babalú, about the sad comments some people have left in the newspaper's websites. I, too, don't understand why we have to turn on our own, and that's why I decided to shared my thoughts with my fellow babalusians, with this comment:

"Bueno caballero, voy a poner mi granito de arena... I totally agree that it is a very complicated issue, it is not written in black and white and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and above all, no podemos generalizar sin tener en cuenta la situación particular de cada persona.
I grew up without knowing what the benefit of the doubt was. I came to this country not that long ago and I've been a proud American citizen, let's say, for a few weeks.
Honestamente les digo, cuando salí de Cuba me fui porque sabía que si no lo hacía terminaría en problemas porque nunca he podido quedarme callada, pero si alguien me hubiese preguntado si buscaba libertad politíca, económica o cualquier otra cosa, yo no hubiese sabido quí contestarle. Lo único que sabía era que quería salir de aquel infierno.

Yo crecí sin saber lo que significa libertad, ni lo que son los derechos humanos, ni las libertades individuales. Lo único que conocí en los primeros veinte y tantos años de mi vida fue la chivatería del comité, el habla bajito por si alguien te oye, repite en la escuela lo que te digan porque si no te marcan de contrarrevolucionaria y vete pa'la plaza el primer de mayo porque el HP de tu jefe que dijo con antelación que si no vas pierdes el trabajito que tanto luchaste en el turismo.

Me acuerdo que cuando salí de Cuba pasó mucho tiempo antes de que me acostumbrara a hablar de barbatruco o de eso allá sin automáticamente bajar la voz, por aquello de que si alguien te está oyendo. Recuerdo que muchos amigos me decían, "oye mija, ya te puedes cagar en la madre de fidel, que aquí te nadie está oyendo ni te va chivatear con el comité". And for sure, I didn't have any idea of what "No Comment" means.

My point is; when you are born, raised and brainwashed under a dictatorship, once you are free, you need to learn what a democracy is, you need to learn to use your rights the same way a baby needs to learn to take the first steps.

On the other hand, it's a fact that, por dondequiera que uno lo mire, just by defecting they are making an statement, tácito o no. It does not matter if you say you're here por political reasons, for economic reasons, o por brujería... the reality is that one thing does exist without the other, no matter the order you have it in an individual's statement or position.

I can also tell you that it hurts like hell when you have your close family, and I mean VERY close family back there like I have, and you know everytime you say or write something, it might backfire in a matter of seconds to make your family's life even more miserable.
Eso no es fácil tampoco.

Yo no meto las manos en la candela por nadie, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and only time will tell, because they, as myself, never heard of Biscet, the human rights, the horrors in Cuba's prisons, los paredones, all the lies and the twisted stories until we got the hell out of that country.

Ojo! con eso no quiero decir que apoyo a los comem.... que vienen aquí a querer ser más comunistas que barbatruco; eso es una hipocresía como quiera que la pinten!
Por ahora, no puedo hacer mas que desearles buena suerte.

Then, I was left thinking; how the hell do you what freedom is if you've never seen it, felt it or even being talked about it?

It was right there when an essay written by Alberto de la Cruz immediately pop-up in my mind.

Now, I agree more than ever with his statement: "The cruelest and most evil lie the regime has ever told its victims is that freedom does not exist".

Freedom does exist.
It's just that some of us have had to wait like half of our lives to met her.

Mar 10, 2008

Wow! I am speechless

Yes. Not a single word. I just finished reading Humberto Fontova's "Fidel: Hollywood's favorite tyrant". A masterpiece. When I read something like this book is when I really feel proud of journalism --the real one.

Now there are so many thoughts and feelings in the air that I'm having a hard time to put any idea together.

Ideas along the lines of self-beating such as "coño, how on earth was I at any dark point of my life believing all that crap about the revolution?", "how come didn't I realized the truth when I was there?", "why I never realized my lifetime neighbor commitment to the freedom of Cuba and the respect to human rights?", " how come...?".

Then I try some self-consolation: "how could I know if that was the brain-washing crap I was being fed since I started kindergarten?", "how can anyone appreciate freedom if you don't know what it means?", "how would I know if I was living in a world of secrecy, repression y chivatones?"...

Then I switch to the memory of by uncle Tíototo, in his deathbed, saying "Vayánse de esta mierda mientras sean jóvenes y puedan empezar una vida en otro lugar. Esta mierda no es por lo que yo luché... aquí no hay futuro, largénse de aquí mientras tengan fuerzas para hacerlo". (Get the hell out of this shit while you're young and able to start a new life anywhere else. This crap it is not what I fought for... you've got no future here, get out of here while you can do it)

Then I go back to my father's wasted existence of hard work and to all those close experiences I've seen in my family and friends.

And another thought pops-up: I've got to get the book in Spanish, mami needs to read it, and MDH, and who else can I tell about it? ... and there is the other book waiting for me (Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots who idolize him)

And there is the list for my self re-education program, that keeps growing; it has 20 books already. "De dónde voy a sacar el tiempo para leer tanto?", I asked myself. It doesn't matter; I've got to do it".

So far, it's the only way I'll be able to reconcile the first twenty years of my life with the real explanation of the lie where I was living; it's the path I must follow to make up for that stolen juventud.

Mar 6, 2008

Another mission acomplished

Estoy en un maratón of reading in my revolution reeducation program. I have like 33 years of the Cuba history that I need to catch up.

I just finished reading "Secreto de Estado: las primeras doce horas tras la muerte de Fidel Castro. And the comment written in the front page is totally right: once you start reading, it's impossible to stop. That's what I call escribir con gancho.

I loved the reality of everything, from the language to the detailed explanation of the different ramifications (and internal conflicts) within the Cuban aparato.

I only wish it was not a novel... only if it could be, at some point, a documentary describing the reality... well, maybe I'm asking too much.
But I still can help to think about the real (or fictional) existence of some of the characters. We need a General Carmenate and a Falka so bad!
A very good point? The Americans are so en Belén con los pastores when it comes to know the truth about the castro's evil way of thinking, that sometimes I really fell pity for them. Beyond the novel frame and all the way to reality, there are so many so clueless!
Where am I right now, one may wonder?
Getting into Fontova's "Fidel Castro; Hollywood favorite tyrant".
Go figure!

Quien se acuesta con un mono psicópata...

weaks up with a bullet-filled a@# ...

Indeed, it was a phone call from hugo chavez what allowed the Colombian army to trace the position of the commie wannabe Raúl Reyes.

For a detailed coverage of the events in Colombia, check The Real Cuba's posts.

Avemaría! El mono está cuqueao' y loquito por tirar la m....!

Image from Alfredo Pong, at CubaHumor

Prayer: cambio my soul por un queso

Así mismo es.

Like if, we didn't have enough with Bertone, now the Benedictines want to gather Cuban souls in exchange of... cheese.

I'm not the one who said first; it was El Nuevo Herald:

La abadía benedictina de San Otilio, en Baviera, fundará un convento en Cuba, por deseo explícito de Fidel Castro y amparados en la pasión del ex máximo líder por el queso artesano que producen sus monjes.

La abadía tiene ya la autorización conveniente para abrir un ''centro espiritual'' en la isla, donde trabajarán cuatro de sus hermanos, informaron hoy fuentes de San Otilio.

El propio Fidel dio su permiso para la fundación de ese convento antes de su retirada y entretanto los preparativos se están realizando en cooperación con las autoridades cubanas, de manera que se espera que el proceso culmine este mismo año.

Does Barbatruco really believes he can try to save is evil soul, during his last moments boqueando, in a cheese-exchange market? (Take a look at the entire brief, in Spanish).

Or it is just a coincidence?

"Dear God, please do not forgive those like him that have sinned. BTW, where are you when we need you to see these things?"

Hint: Noted how the paper calls Barbatruco? "ex-máximo líder".
("Dear God, please be careful, I think que todos se han puesto de acuerdo")

Mar 5, 2008

Te estoy mirando!!!

We have a feathered spy watching over us... literally.
(The good news is that she (or he?) ya no está tan salvaje, and she's not plucking the feathers anymore)

Mar 3, 2008

Un vacío de noventa millas

I have finished the second book in my revolution reeducation program, and let me tell you, no me dio frío ni calor. I'm talking about "Ninety miles: cuban journeys in the age of castro", one of the books más sosos that I've read in the past recent years.

Gutiérrez-Menoyo's tale? Well, I did got some details from his earlier relationship with castro and the revolution --which is good. But other than that, the whole thing still does not add up to me. Call me desconfiada or whatever, but I just don't buy it.

Nancy Lledes's story? Well, maybe for the author her life was a novel. For me, I'm just so used to stories like hers that it's basically no-news for me anymore.

The golden nugget of the book? Paquito D'Rivera story. Why? Because I belong to that generation of Cubans that didn't knew who he was until we left the island. It was nice read about a musician, a glory from my country, that "someone" just decided to erase from the dictionary I grew up with.

I didn't have high expectations though... para no hacer el cuento muy largo, this book is missing something... I don't know, a stronger hook, spices, Cuban flavor. I've read other book written by journalists and they are, generally, very compelling stories where you are able to "see" and "feel" what you're reading.

Not this one.
You go all the way to end without feeling anything, and that's not a good sign when you are reading to trying to reeducate yourself.