Apr 25, 2008

Las reinas de la noche in Havana

Those are the jineteras.
And jineteros for what matters.

And I just finished reading the most heartbreaking story about their daily lives in the worker's paradise. I'm talking about the book Jineteras, by Cuban writer Amir Valle.

I can't tell you enough times how heartbreaking some of the testimonies are. I can't tell you enough times what a such a piece hypocrite the communist dictatorship has been for half a century, trying to deny this fact of the Cuban society.

I did have to skip some parts, though.
I just couldn't stand the narrative of the chronological history of prostitution in Cuba, going as far back as the time of the taínos. They couldn't hook me up.

In general, I liked the book because through his interviews, Valle shows to the world some of the hidden truths of communist's Cuba.
Yeah, the perfect world, my a...

I would never dare to judge the people who had the courage to talk about them the way they did for the book. Since a very young age, I've decided I'm nobody to judge anybody else's actions; God knows what made them chose that path.
That's what I had in mind when I started reading.

However, the book also left me with some bitter taste and thoughts of an undecided author.
Let me explain you why.

I do not expect that all books about Cuba ought to be a rant against Castro in the most extremist terms. Actually, the mastery of an author is demonstrated when he can do so in a subtle style, IMHO.

But with Jineteras, several times I felt that, even when Valle was critizicing the system by exposing its dirty laundry, I perceived him as trying to apologize for doing so.

It might sound speculative, but it was like if he had some interest in Cuba that could be damaged if he dared to take a different position.

I felt, in some parts of the book, as if it was a sugar-coated exposé.

And, even when extremism is not a good position in life because in this world not everything is black and white, there are some instances when you have to be straight forward, y tirar con todos los cañones.

The issue calls for that kind of artillery.
And that power of fire is missing in key parts of this book.

But I am not disheartened. One more book down.
I keep on going in my own Cuba's re-education program.

FYI, I'm also reading "Unvanquished, Cuba's resistance to Fidel Castro", by Enrique Encinosa. And I've started a list. A list of the things I am discovering about the real story of the so called revolution.

Apr 24, 2008

OK, let's talk about votes

Let's talk about votes, but not the presidential.
Let's talk about the vote in local elections, for major, council members and all that stuff that impact our lives on a daily basis.

Last month I casted my vote for the first time since I live in the United States. It was with a mail-in ballot.

It was not the dreamed image of myself in a voting location, moving my arm down the box to deposit my little piece of paper --thinking in the past, when I was forced to vote in a farce where I always ended up with not-valid ballots due to the phrases I used to write on them-- but it was important anyway.

It was a turning point for me as individual with a past where I never had the chance to cast my vote in a truly free election, and as a new citizen of this great country that has given me and my family countless opportunities.

We're talking about municipal elections in the second largest city in Weld County, that this year was conducted with a mail-in ballot for the first time, therefore, local officials were projecting an increased participation due to the convenience of sending the ballots by mail.

We're talking about a city that, while often overlooked, has grown a lot, both residential and commercially speaking. A city in northern Colorado (un campito, I know) that has evolved to conduct online surveys to the residents, that is bringing a Sam's Club and whose city council recently approved regulations to develop a metro district project.

Well, I guess in this growing city only a bunch of people are interested in voicing their positions regarding the issues that affects our daily living. Last month, 5097 ballots were mailed for the municipal elections and 1,131 were returned and counted. A mere 22.19%, based on my own calculations.

Not that bad, they said.
In the 2006 municipal elections, when mail-in ballots where not used, only 461 people voted.

I'm glad I voted for the major that won the seat. (I hope he will not disappoints me). But I wish more people around here were Cubans or were really close to what is an election in Cuba or that more people would have read this.

Maybe, and just maybe, they would have given their votes the whole power it has.
And please, do not fool yourself; I'm not more patriot that anyone else. I just don't take it for granted.

Apr 23, 2008

Bad luck, great business or just a coincidence?

Check Humberto Fontova's article on this issue here. Flawless.

Horrendous news about a young Bolivian student that died in Cuba and was shipped back to Evolandia without her internal organs is are everywhere.

The Real Cuba has summarized details:

The family of Beatriz Porco Calle, a young Bolivian girl who died from a rare illness while she was studying in Cuba, denounced that the Cuban government removed her brain and several internal organs before shipping the body back to Bolivia.

Local authorities told Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos that they are investigating the case.
Sofia Porco Calle, a sister of the victim, told Los Tiempos that the Cuban Embassy in Bolivia notified the relatives that the girl had died, and told them that her body was going to be shipped back to Bolivia.

Sofia held a news conference where she said that all the other Bolivian students who were part of her sister's group, returned on the same flight that carried her sister's body back to her native country. "I felt very bad, all the students were embracing their relatives but I received a coffin with my sister in it," she said.

The woman told the newspaper that several Cuban officials who came on the same flight wanted to take the body of her sister to another city to conduct an autopsy, but the family intervened and didn't allow the body to be moved.

"The autopsy was performed at the Hospital de Clinicas. My little sister's body didn't have any organs, teeth, eyes, it was without her tongue. There was a sponge in place of her brain and more sponges in her stomach," the woman said during the press conference.

The most incredible part of the story is that Cuban officials told the relatives of the dead student, that the deal that they signed with the Bolivian government says that those students who die while in Cuba will be sent back without their organs.

More details, in Spanish, from the Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos, here. The Bolivian cancellor says the family "might have exceeded by claiming indemnizations".

And I, over here and over sharing, still wonder where are aquellos ojos verdes.

Noche (o días?) de ronda

Back from sick team.
I had to leave work early on Monday and ended up with my doctor and a bunch of tests just to find out all my aliments were caused by a nasty stomach virus.

Guess what I find when I finally got home?
An even nastier news.

Mami telling me "arrastraron a Bertica y a otras damas de blanco por la calle. Lo acabo de ver en la televisión". (Bertica and other Ladies in White were dragged through the streets. I just saw it on TV".

Yes. That Bertica.
Berta Soler, wife of Ángel Moya, our lifetime neighbors from Alamar.

Enraged and disgusted, I couldn't do more than praise her por tener los pantalones bien puestos --not to repeat here the adjective we use in plain Cuban.

I will never, ever, in my entire life get tired of admire her and her courage to stand for her husband and family. I also know that someday, not very far in the future, we'll have the chance the talk about it personally. I really hope so.

For us, on this free side of the word, the public and televised abuse against the Ladies in White gave us a first hand lesson: cell phones, microwaves, toaster ovens, motorcycles and other gadget the average Cuban can not afford have absolutely nothing to do with freedom.

The heir has taught a lesson to the world:
he's conducting businesses as usual.

Hasta cuándo, Dios mío, hasta cuándo?

H/T to Uncommon Sense, The Real Cuba and Ideas del Forista.

Apr 17, 2008

Tengo, vamos a ver, lo que tenía que tener?

As usual, Alfredo Pong, da en el clavo.

The Miami Herald reported the "good news" last Saturday.
Same day The Washington Post printed this.
Wasn't this supposed to be a good news? A sign of progress and changes?, anyone could say.
Well, not exactly. Not if you pay attention to the terms "state workers" and "state-owned homes".
I guess if I could roll time back, maybe my Mom wouldn't be kicked out like a dog --with Comité thugs and police cars included-- from the boxy apartment in Alamar where I left her living when I left Cuba.
Oh! wait a minute! ... maybe she wouldn't qualify anyway... she was not an state worker.
Are you following me here?
The golden question is the same we have been asking after the right to buy cell phones, the right to stay in hotels (while they charge you a higher rate than foreign tourists), the right to buy computers, microwave ovens and toasters at prices that equal one year's salary --or more.
Why couldn't Cubans own their homes before? Why they were not allowed to inherit them?
Pure and simple make-up techniques, imitating a property title.
This is more of the same crap.

In colorful Colorado

It's mid April.
We're supposed to be in full spring blooming. Not that we are not seeing some green sprouts popping here and there, but this is the white view of my backyard a few days ago.
Pure, white, springtime Colorado snow.
Claro!Qué boba soy!
The first thing we were told when we arrived to these lands was: "If you don't like Colorado's weather, just wait five minutes".
I guess this season the waiting time has grown a little bit longer.

Sicko stories from Cuba's psychiatry

Updating the news about my own Cuba re-education program, let me tell you I just finished reading "The politics of psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba", by Armando Lago and Charles Brown and, as it's becoming usual, I'm still in shock.

The book is written in a very unconventional style, since is more like a compilation or reports and interviews. But that does not undermine at all the information that you can dig from it. Un (f....) believable!

There were some points where I was feeling as if I was seeing one of those horror and suspense movies about wacko hospitals and mental health clinics. Some others gave me quite intense chills and even some tears.

Then, the faded memories of the news I saw when I just arrived to Miami about Heriberto Mederos, how he was discovered by some of his victims from Mazorra while working, in a nursing home! And the failure of the immigration system that gave him the protection of this country citizenship. The beast didn't even pay in prison; he died before that glorious moment.

The worst part came when stomped with this "article" on the Internet. Or when I read about the award Pan-American Health Organization gave to Ordaz. It sucks.

It sucks up to a point that really makes me feel that I'm going to throw up everytime I see examples of those useless international organizations whose members are mostly viviendo la dulce vida y haciéndose los de la vista gorda with the horrors happening in front of their eyes. (UN, rings the bell anyone?).

I now can't help to wonder how many other horror stories might have happened and we don't know anything about them, and how many others stupid commies will come to defend what is, with no doubts, state-sponsored torture.

I'm now more informed about the real history of the Cuban revolution, but man, it has taken its toll.

Apr 16, 2008

Back to the net with some good news

Well, I've got to tell you: this is the fourth time I try to post here in the past five days. Along my internet connection lousiness, I have no idea what was wrong with blogger. But finally, we're back with some news.

I was surprised when I checked the comments of my previous post about the skills we've been mastering over here in the past few days; they talked about the 11 de abril awards. "What the heck are Premios 11 de Abril?", I asked myself.

My first line of though was "this is some kind of email chain stuff, where you are supposed to foward the message to twenty something people or a terrible course will fall on top of your head".

Then, I went to check Ideas del Forista and learned that the 11 de abril awards were created by Venezuelan blogger Alexis Marrero, to recognize the hard work of bloggers from Venezuela and other countries in this never ending quest for freedom and democracy.

Along with being a good idea to increase any blog's traffic, hits and comments, it's a great form of networking, to raise awareness about the need of freedom and democracy in countries like Cuba and Venezuela, among thousand others. And, as the old saying says, "honrar, honra".

That's why I wanted to thank El Compañero and Libertad de Expresión for including my humble efforts translated into a blog into their lists. I feel honored. So, to keep on the tradition --just in case-- here are the 15 blogs I consider should also be recognized. (In not special order)

  1. The Real Cuba

  2. Uncommon Sense

  3. Babalú Blog

  4. Claudia 4 Libertad

  5. My Big Fat Cuban Family

  6. Blog for Cuba

  7. Ideas del Forista

  8. Child of the Revolution

  9. Generación Y

  10. Potro Salvaje

  11. SinEVAsión

  12. CubaWatch

  13. Secretos de Cuba

  14. Medicina Cubana

  15. Cuba Companioni

But there are so many other that also deserve to be recognized, that the list could turn out being endless. Please, never quit the fight. Our future depends on that.


Apr 8, 2008

A la potencia médica se le gastaron las pilas

The so called "Cuban health care paradise" it running out of gas; literally.

First, El Correo Digital from Vizcaya, Spain, publishes this report that, among other things, (my own translation) , Cuban journalists were called to a meeting where they were asked to help to prepare the population to assimilate future changes.

Some of the mentioned changes is the possibility that the government will call retired doctors to work in order to alleviate the crisis in the Cuban health care system due to the lack of medical professionals.

Then Reuters reports (in Spanish), as an exclusive news, that the free program of médicos de la familia (family physicians programs) is going to be reorganized, after complaints made by the citizens. Here is the article in English.

The report recognizes that Cuban citizens has complaint that the program became useless after Cuba started sending thousands of family doctors to Venezuela, in 2000.

The medical source also states that more than half of those medical offices will be closed and that the number of doctor in other clinics will be increased. The whole reorganization program is portrayed as another reform to the health system promoted by raúl castro's government.

And today, El Nuevo Herald comes with this report that Panamá is rejecting the Cuban doctors, in a similar situation to that happened before in Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia.

Is this for real?
Well, I am not sure, but it was about time for them (the government) to realized that the theater have been falling down --literally-- in front of their own eyes, while the Cubans de a pie suffer the consequences.

Maybe, pretty soon my cousin won't longer need to be on call in the hospital in a 24 hrs shift, up to four times in a week, being the only OB/GYN specialist and taking care of twenty something vaginal deliveries and 10 C-sections in a single night. Yes, in only one night.

Still, there is a question that is a must.
Where are the changes to the core? Where are the changes to guarantee the real freedom that will prompt long term solutions for Cuba's mess?

For the sake of Cuba, I hope the answers is not going to be some sort of Caribbean Chinese model. (A model of what???!!!)

H/T to Medicina Cubana, Penúltimos Días and Babalú.

Apr 7, 2008

Testing your Floridian gene

I just received this questionnaire by email and found it so good, fun and true, that couldn't resist the temptation to keep passing it.
Boy, sometimes I miss Florida so much!!!

You are supposed to be a Floridian if you know that:

  1. Socks are only for bowling.
  2. You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.
  3. A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.
  4. Your winter coat is made of denim.
  5. You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.
  6. You're younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.
  7. Anything under 70 degrees is chilly.
  8. You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.
  9. You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.
  10. Every other house in your neighborhood had blue roofs in 2004-2005.
  11. You've gotten out of school early on Halloween to trick or treat before it got dark.
  12. You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.
  13. You dread love bug season.
  14. You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren't Hurricane Charley or Hurricane Frances. You know them as Andrew, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
  15. You know what a snowbird is and when they'll leave.
  16. You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.
  17. 'Down South' means Key West.
  18. Flip-flops are everyday wear. Shoes are for business meetings and church, but you HAVE worn flip flops to church before.
  19. You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt.
  20. You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.
  21. A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.
  22. You know the four seasons really are: hurricane season, love bug season, tourist season and summer.
  23. You've hosted a hurricane party.
  24. You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Withlacoochee and Micanopy.
  25. You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat, than have a boat yourself.
  26. You were 5 before you realized they made houses without pools.
  27. You were 25 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.
  28. You've worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas and New Years.
  29. You recognize Miami-Dade as ' Northern Cuba. '

Apr 4, 2008

Way to go, girl!

Yoani Sánchez, the polemic Cuban blogger that blogs from Cuba in her "Generación Y" (where, by the way, it's almost impossible to leave an informed comment without reading the 1111 previous left by other readers) has just received the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award in Spain, in the digital journalism category, according to this report in El País.


She said she still does not believe it.

For those not very familiar with the topic, the award, created by the daily El País in 1984, honors the best of journalism in Spanish published anywhere in the world.

Last year, our very own Raúl Rivero won the award in the category of best labor informativa, to honor his commitment to the freedom of information.

The judges are relevant personalities from the media, and other economic, cultural and social sectors. Each category award includes a cash prize of 15,000 euros and a commemorative plaque made by artist Eduardo Chillida.

H/T to Babalú & Penúltimos Días

Cuban blogger made it to Letras Libres

Letras Libres published a great article from Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban blogger that have been traqueteando the web--and the situation in Cuba-- with her Generación Y for quite a while now.

Excellent; with the real view, desde adentro.

We're walking foward; little by little, the web is becoming an ally in the cause of Cuba's freedom.


Here is a translation in English, courtesy of Babalú contributor Henry Gómez.

Apr 3, 2008

A golden gem; and cristal clear about Cuba

I've never heard of or read The Conservative Voice before; neither have any idea who Craig Chamberlain is.

But today, after adding some newsreels to my blog, I've discovered this golden gem about the so called reforms taking place in Cuba.

The title of his commentary say it all: "Cell phones or not; Cuba still suffers".

Directo al grano:

"Cubans barley have enough to eat, and don't buy the line that it is the fault of the embargo. Cuba trades with every other country in the world, and when it comes to food they do trade with America. American farmers are allowed to ship their goods to Cuba. Still Cuba doesn't have enough to eat. This isn't because of some embargo it is because socialism does not work. The crushing of individual freedom, and government control of the economy only produces misery".

It's good to see that, at least once in a blue moon, someone other than those of us that have met first hand the communist dictatorship, finally gets it.

His best line?
"The problem with Cuba is communism".

Apr 2, 2008

Mickey Mouse está vomitando

and rats all over the world are really offended.
Check the story in Spanish here.
(Those are the side effects when someone masca mucha coca y habla mucha caca)