May 30, 2008

Se veía venir...

I’ve said it before; about Yoani’s blog, awards and the whole international recognition. The regimen has been dutifully cooking out a way to shut her down.

Ellos no se van a quedar da’os, you know, me extraña que siendo arañas se caigan de la pared.

Earlier this week, when I read the posts about the move against Yoani, I saw that my fears became a fact.

It’s also worrisome to see how they are trying to implicate Carlos Alberto Montaner in their fabrications –one more time.

And all this after the whole theater in La Mesa Retonta about the Cuban dissidents receiving aid from the US. What a “coincidence”!

That left me wondering why Montaner has become that annoying piedrecita en el zapato for castro’s inc and how, with the power of la palabra y la pluma, an individual can sometimes move the mountains. I felt very please this morning when I read his response to (b) arredo’s rant.

I owe many things to J-School at FIU and the Miami Book Fair. One of them is having had the possibility to personally meet Montaner and having interviewed him for one of my classes’ projects.

For a simple Cubanita recently arrived from Cuba and completely clueless about “the other side of the story”, that encounter meant a lot.

Right there I got tips for this journalistic profession that I dearly hold and follow every single day, even when I am not working as reporter anymore.

I got to hear for the first time in my life about the other side of free trade, globalization, the dangers in excessive government power and the path that the richest countries in the world have always followed. (It was during the ALCA conference in Miami, a few years ago).

I hooked up with his books, discovered Mario Vargas Llosa (a forbidden name I never heard in Cuba) and have followed his writing as inspiration for my own.

Saved the most important lesson wrapped in a single phrase that I have shared with my students in countless opportunities: “Los periodistas somos reformadores sociales de baja intensidad”.

Got interested in a member of my family that had some role in Cuba’s history, although I’m still not sure how good or bad was. (I guess we still have that conversation pending, but, who's gonna remember another J-student from el bulto anyway?).

Along with MDH, I basically discovered what freedom of speech is listening to him and others, at the evening debates in MDCC, during the book fair.

I was left with the feeling that, when talking about Cuba’s freedom, we really meant business. And we were also in the same line, waiting for “la cáscara de una nuez”.

My Two Cents at the RMN article on Cuba

Brought to you by this Cubanita resident of Colorado, as a response to this news (Posted by Change4Cuba on May 30, 2008 at 11:54 a.m) that I learned a couple of days ago.

Dear God, apiádate de nosotros. Estamos rodeados.

Le zumba el mango! Escaping from a tiranny, to end up paying taxes to support official trips to the place from where you had to escape.


Happy Birthday Blog!

Ayer hizo un año que esta Cubanita perdida en estos lares de Colorado decidió lanzarse a la aventura de escribir un blog.

Un blog que nació gracias a la idea sugerida por una amiga --otra cubana perdida por las montañas al sur del estado-- y al enlace que me mandó para que leyera My Big Fat Cuban Family.

Y desde la primera vez que leí el blog de Marta quedé prendada con la idea.

Muchas cosas han pasado desde entonces.

Buenas, malas y regulares pero, por encima de todo, cosas que me han enseñado algo que no sabía o que me han hecho crecer y madurar como ser humano.

Junto a la idea de crear una especie de diario, diverso en contenido y forma, para que mi hijo pueda leer en el futuro, también he conocido la pasión (o adicción?) de iniciar mi rutina del día leyendo todo sobre Cuba.

He conocido otros blogs dedicados a la causa de la libertad de Cuba, desde varias partes del mundo y esta diaria aventura de bloguear me ha llevado también a convertirme en una persona más comprometida y respetuosa de todos aquellos que quedaron atrás.

Y, en medio de la locura de una mamá que trabaja en la calle a tiempo completo, este rinconcito también se ha convertido en un escape, un lugar donde puedo expresarme con toda libertad.

Aquí quedará trazado el camino de la familia, las historias de las que nunca hablamos cuando vivíamos en Cuba, los testimonios de personas corajudas ante las que me quito el sombrero, la rabia escrita ante las injusticias, las mejores manifestaciones del orgullo de ser cubano, la humildad de aprender de los que tienen más experiencia y mucho más.

Lo mejor de todo es que ha sido un proceso evolutivo, algo que nació sin mucha seriedad, cuando aún trabajaba como reportera.

Ahora representa, en algunas ocasiones, una especie de compromiso ético con esa profesión que temporalmente he dejado atrás.

Ese es, al menos en teoría, el plan para los próximos años.

May 28, 2008

Crash course for Colorado businessmen

An article published by The Rocky Mountain News got me in overtime thinking and writing mode since Monday.

"Colorado courting Cuba". You see, the title says it all. It goes over the chances of the state government supporting doing business directly with castro's totalitarian regimen.

And it got me ranting because, you know, Cubans over here somos cuatro gatos. Most Coloradoans, based on my own experience, are the clueless of the clueless regarding Cuba.

That's why I could not resist the urge to clarify quite a few points.

I will start with the reference of the comment posted at the article, the one that reads that food should not be used as political weapon. I agree that food is not a political weapon.

And it’s very nice and looks cute coming out the mouth (or keyboard) of someone wrapped in the coziness of his/her nice house in colorful Colorado.

Unfortunately, this is a two-way game and I have some bad news: castros’ regimen DOES use food as political weapon.

They have devoted 50 years to starve an entire nation in order to hold onto power. It’s a given that you won’t think in human rights, freedom of speech or religion when your stomach is grueling and when your sole goal every single day is to work wonders to put some food in your family table. Believe me, I’ve seen it up close and personal.

Now, going to the center of the issue, if Colorado businessmen want to conduct (dirty) business as usual, and make money under the premises that the US trades with every communist country in the world, then go ahead. This is a free society after all.

But do not try to sugar coat it. Be straightforward and go for the money. And say it.
Do not come to tell me that you are “going to kill policies with kindness”; that’s naïve, not to say plainly stupid. It's even more, it's insulting.

Let’s start with Mr. Miller. He have said it: there were Cuban officials the ones being feted, sipping the wines and munching the cheeses that most of the average Cuban has never seen in his life. In the Havana Libre hotel, formerly known as Havana Hilton, the same that was expropriated from its legal owners by Castro, without the due restitution.

Ham and cheese sandwiches the common bar fare? Yeah, sure, but there is a catch; you can access those bars only if you have dollars. And until a few months ago, a regular Cuban wouldn’t be even allowed to enter the premises.

On top of that, the average Cuban salary, when converted into dollars, it’s like 15-20 dollars a month. A Cuban sandwich, with those staples ham and cheese, cost around 6 dollars. You do the math. But, what the heck, we are talking business, not politics, right?

To follow the rhythm, I have to take into the idea of Gov. Bill Ritter supporting to do business with Cuba, I guess under the same premises of siding with Colorado businessmen and killing with kindness.

Whether you agree with me or not –Oh, the wonders of living in a democracy!—one thing I can tell you for sure is that I don’t want my taxpayer money funding the tropical vacations of any Colorado official at castro’s gulag.

Now, if my thoughts fall on deaf ears and the tropical vacation becomes a reality, I wonder if Gov. Ritter or any other Colorado official would spare a few minutes to ask about the political prisoners, the abuses against peaceful dissidents like the Ladies in White, the lack of human rights and freedom of speech, the “doors that need to be opened” and a list that could go on forever? Between mojitos and suntans, I guess a couple of questions wouldn’t hurt anyone, right?

There I go again, confusing money, I mean, food, with politics…See, it’s really hard not to get confused when you’ve seen with own eyes how powdered milk sent as donation by religious charities was being sold in the castro’s-owned stores where you have to pay with dollars, even when your salary it is not paid (by the government, the sole employer of the island) in dollars.

Or you see the rice, chicken and other food that was bought from the United States producers being sold only in these stores; never in the ones where you get the scarce food allowed under the rationing card.

And, what about the “Cuba’s socialist government and militant face-off with America” remark? Oh my, castro’s 50 year experienced PR machine has been so effective!

It’s so effective that things are not being called by its name anymore: there is no nice way to call a communist dictatorship that has destroyed an entire country and several generations of Cubans, thanks to castro’s delusional and obsessive idea to destroy the United States and hold on to power no matter what.

This takes me directly to a warning: Colorado businessmen, be aware of the partner you choose to court. It could backfire in a way that you –used to live protected under the rights crafted by America’s Founding Fathers, wouldn’t even dare to imagine.

Only those who follow the regimen’s script are the ones closing their deals with castro’s inc, but most of the time they do that amid the hidden camera videos and bugged conversations the state security always take, from every foreigner in courtship with them. I encourage you to ask the Spaniards, Italians and other Europeans who pioneered the ventures with castro for some references.

On the other hand, I can’t help to wonder if there is any chance the medical exports from Colorado could end up in the hospitals for Cubans that are falling down in pieces (those that Michael Moore forgot to film while doing Sicko).

And, all of the sudden, I can’t either help to remember that I was never given instant ramen noodles in the rationing card, nor my family, that still lives there, has received any.

Last but not least, Mr. Miller complained that Cubans –the Cuban government, he should have said, have to pay up front for the goods, which eliminates options such as buying on credit.

I wonder when was the last time that Mr. Miller checked castro’s inc credit history or Cuba’s credit history –which is the same because they own and operate the whole country like their best kept animal farm.

Not being enough, he said “They seemed to like chardonnay”. Unbelievable.

Now, what you do can take for granted is that no hard-worked earned money from this Cuban American’s pocket will, from now on, end in anything even remotely associated with Millers Farms.

Posting at the article, email to reporter and letter to Congress Representatives to come. Sorry, but now that I've met freedom of speech and the power of my vote, I just can't keep my mouth shut.

H/T to Penúltimos Días . Thanks to Alberto de la Cruz.

May 27, 2008

Con los pies en la tierra, now more than ever

I am no expert in politics, nor I consider I still fully understand how the political and legislative part of the US government works. I'm doing my homework, though.

That's why I feel I've been enlightened by Fred Thompson's article in The Wall Street Journal.

Not that I didn't know what I wanted, respected and valued before, but sometimes was kind of hard to explain it without going through the branches, mostly during philosophical conversations with people who lean way too much to the left.

But, from now on, it'll be easier for me to say the right words, in a nutshell. I feel that I am more empowered, simply because I can list the points and values that I stand for.

And I can do it because I, too:
  1. Hate election-year quick fixes.
  2. Wouldn't like to see in America a move to secularization, the growth of government, stagnation, mediocrity and loss of freedom. Believe me, I've had enough of all that.
  3. Am very skeptical of mass movements, perfect solutions and what often passes for progress.
  4. Recognize that change is inevitable, that we are humans and we make mistakes and that man is capable of great things, that is meant to be free in an unfettered market of ideas and not subjugated by a too powerful government.
  5. Hold highly dearest the principles relied upon by America's founding fathers: a market economy, the primacy of the rule of the law and the abolition of slavery and the liberal trade policies.
  6. Go for the basic constitutional government the US has preserved, go for the reform of failed welfare systems when needed and for the reduction of confiscatory income tax rates.
  7. Agree that something needs to be done to fix the economy, the housing market, the health care costs and the education.
  8. Stand for the fact that Congress can not repeal the laws of economics; that there will be not short-term fixes without longer-term consequences.
  9. Believe that in a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunities, but also economic disparity.
  10. Believe that the education system can not overcome the breakdown of the family and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.
  11. Believe that free markets -not an expanding and more powerful government- are the solution to today's problems.
  12. Believe that many of our current problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the sub prime mortgage crisis were caused in large part by government policies.

Does that make me a conservative, right-winger. Well, so be it.

I do believe in the validity of those principles, even nowadays. And I do know that sometimes they wouldn't guarantee a ballot-box victory. These values are the ones that made America, and the human-made deviations that we've faced don't mean they are not valid anymore.

And, to set the record straight, I belong to that generation of newly arrived, newly naturalized Cuban Americans. 2008 will be my first presidential elections and I do not belong to any of the so called generational shift.

Y al que no le guste, que le eche azúcar.

H/T to Babalú Blog

May 23, 2008

Chávez toxic gifts

Not, the toxicity of Chávez does not comes only from his hell-produced fumes and his disgusting devil like monkey face.

For Cuba, from now on, his toxicity will also come smuggled in the 14, 000 plastic houses he's planning to "donate" to the island.

Houses that are going to be build with PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a plastic derived from oil that is consider the worst type of plastic.

PVC has also lately being associated with the release of dioxins and phthalates, which are some kind of hormone disruptor chemicals. Worst case scenario: Remember Viktor Yushchenko?

EPA has it in the list of top 33 worst air pollutants in urban areas.

Plastic #3 (Polyvinyl Chloride): The nonprofits Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Environmental Health Strategy Center have asked companies to phase out the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic widely used in construction and consumer goods, because it poses serious health threats at every stage of its life cycle.

In a report entitled “PVC: Bad News Comes in 3s,” the groups explain that PVC production requires highly polluting and cancer-causing chemicals that have contaminated the areas where PVC is manufactured. They also point out that PVC is often made with plasticizers such as phthalates, which can leach out of or evaporate from the finished products and have been shown to cause developmental and reproductive damage.

And, they point out that PVC incineration leads to the emission of dioxins, which are known to cause cancer, as well as reproductive, developmental, and immune problems. Landfilling PVC can cause the plastic’s toxic additives to leach into groundwater. PVC is very difficult to recycle and contaminates other kinds of plastics when recycled with them.

But, wait a minute, what the heck am I talking about?

After the inexplicable sickening of prisoners with tuberculosis, cancer and who knows how many other things, what difference will it make the slowly poisoning of thousands of homeless Cubans?

There is not ACLU or Greenpeace or anything like that in the tropical gulag... nobody is going to pay attention to those meaningless details, right? Even when most of the European countries are working to legally rule out that plastic from the construction materials, who cares?

Would it be possible that we need to "put things in perspective"and while Americans and Europeans need to protect their right to a healthy existence, second class Cubans only need a stupid roof to live and then, being eternally blackmailed by castros, inc and its monkey ally for that "gift".

Well, meantime, I guess I'll tell all my relatives, friends and neighbors back there to not buy, under any circumstance, the story behind chávez's gift. You know, por si acaso.

The ruins of the colonial buildings in Havana might be deadly, but you will always have the chance to run away from the derrumbe. After all, they were built years ago, with simple things as cemento, ladrillo y arena.

From these chemicals; well, I'm not quite sure they'll be able to run.

And, after the tornado alert went off...

While people born and raised here were saying: "Heck, these things happen in Kansas, not in our backyards!".
While people entendida en la materia were saying yesterday there was not the right temperature, not the usual time of the day, not the usual pressure to see an EF 3 or 4 tornado, less likely to happen int he front range, where the Rockies usually protect us from these things...
While this community started to see the damages of the one mile wide tornado like this.
While a second alert of a tornado could hit West Greeley around 4:30 p.m. (which means it could hit, literally, our neighborhood) was dismissed.
After all this happened half a mile from our house, after seeing in the late news that the path of the tornado barely missed our neighborhood, after learning from neighbors that they saw the tornado from their second floor windows, expecting that thing to move two inches and head directly towards us...
These Cubans over here, more used to deal with ciclones than with tornadoes, needed to replenish these minds and bodies after such a hell of a scare.
Therefore, we ran to the grocery store as soon as the alert went off, and got this:

Two seconds after the first buchito, we were ready pa'lo que sea, again.
Now, seriously, we are being told we have to keep watching the skies this afternoon, between 1 and 4:30 p.m.
And I keep praying to be lucky enough, again.

May 22, 2008

Tornado hit; save but still shaking

It's been quite a day over here, in what it's always supposed to be colorful Colorado.

We had seven tornados hit in this area, around lunchtime. And Jeez!! we're still shaking!

The biggest one, unofficially estimated being an F-3 category, we could say took a very nice walk around our neighborhood and while spared us from the destruction, other towns close by were merciless hit.

It been reported that the monster was one mile wide. Go figure!

All that happening while MDH and I were at work, in another town 45 minutes north, and Mami and my kiddo at home.
We were both locked up in emergency mode; I work in a hospital, he works in a school. And there was no power at home, so neither of us were able to talked to my Mom for the longest couple of hours in my whole life.

I can not tell how many things were racing through my mind.
But we thanked God for being so lucky. And for the caring neighbor that called my Mom just on time to suddenly stop Nicolás lunch and run down to the basement. She says the poor kid was like, "Hey! what's up with you, I haven't finished my frijoles negros!".

First, it hit in two small towns (Gilcrest and Milliken) a mile south of our neighborhood. Then, instead of keeping its way straight north, right where we are, it moved west and hit a business area called Promontory Park, where the State Farm and JB Swift corporate offices are.

Then it went above and beyond. It hit Windsor, a 16,000 people town, con ensañamiento y alevosía. The town is almost destroyed. There are 100 injured.

The hail that fell around here, folks, was the size of baseball and golf balls.

One hundred and something children were miraculously saved in Windsor when they were quickly rushed by the teachers to a bank across the street. The kiddos were packed up in the bank's vault. A few seconds later, the daycare building was completely lifted from the ground.

One man was killed in a RV park that is like, two minutes driving from our house.

Our county, Weld, has been declared an area of national disaster. And the alert lasted until 8 p.m., which seemed to be endless.

Nevertheless, we're now breathing peacefully because we're saved. It was hard to see in the news the places and the faces that you are familiar with, from the gas station, the grocery store and the parks, crying and staring at their destroyed homes.
But, as one neighboord said on TV, "It's good that here nobody got killed. And the houses torn down? Well, that what bulldozers are for".
Hoy nacimos de nuevo. I am so damned positive sure of that!
Sources: The Greeley Tribune & FOX 31 Channel News

"[A] José Daniel, mientras tenga su mentalidad, nadie le va a violar sus derechos"

An astonishing proof of the nature of castro's communist dictatorship has been traveling all over the web since this morning.

José Daniel Ferrer Garcia, a prisoner of conscience who worked with the Christian Liberation Movement and the Varela Project, is giving the world more than enough proof on how human rights are violated by the regimen.

It's also giving us a knocking lesson of courage, faith and how to be consequent with justice, no matter the price one has to pay.

In a report posted by the Cuban Democratic Directorate, independent journalist Juan Carlos Gonzales Leiva is telling the story of his conversation with Ferrer Garcia, who is being held at a prison in Guantánamo.

Leiva is asking the world to take note and hear how the telephone conversation was being interrupted by the prison guards and how Ferrer Garcia was savagely beaten up when he stood up for his freedom of speech.

"Si hay un nuevo cuestionamiento con el teléfono, no hay entendimiento. Yo allí comienzo mi protesta nuevamente. ¿Juan Carlos, tú me escuchas? Te llamo en 10 minutos. Si no te llamo, José Daniel está en celda de aislamiento, José Daniel está muerto a palos, porque José Daniel, mientras tenga su mentalidad, nadie le va a violar sus derechos.”

"If there is another issue with the telephone, there will be no understanding. I will begin my protest anew then. Juan Carlos, are you listening to me? I will call you in 10 minutes. If I do not call you, José Daniel is in solitary confinement or José Daniel was beaten to death, because as long as José Daniel is capable of thinking, no one will violate his rights.”

Garcia Ferrer is heard, in Spanish, openly defying the guards and shouting against communism and the system that violates his rights.

H/T to Cuban Democratic Directorate, Babalú, The Real Cuba and Ideas del Forista.

May 21, 2008

"Ya viene llegando"

Today is Cuba's Solidarity Day.

It's a day to think of José Martí, Pedro Luis Boitel, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet and the other political prisoners dying in the castro's dungeons and the Cubans that for half a century have remained as the only individuals in the Western hemisphere that do not have free elections.
It's a day to think of the freedom that ya viene llegando.
A day to shed some tears and get emotional. Why not?
A day to say "Thank you", for moments like this and op/ed like this.
It's a day when I have come to terms with my own memory, remembering how back in Cuba, at school or elsewhere, I reached a point when I would repeat the National Anthem just like a mechanical puppet.
I never felt, as I did today while watching the homeage to Cuban political prisoners at the White House, the chills and the knot in my throat when "El Himno de Bayamo" was being sung.
I think that never before I've paid that much attention to the lyrics of our National Anthem as I did today.
Today is a day to do all that and much more.
Because tomorrow, the struggle must go on.

May 19, 2008

El país de la siguaraya

It's a very old saying... in the siguaraya's country, anything can happens. "Este es el país de la siguaraya", you would commonly heard in Cuba when something almost unbelievable happened.

Don't believe me? Dig these:

Yoani Sánchez has started receiving visits maybe from el jefe de sector and the CDR thugs?. The usual threats. I can only wonder how they didn't start sooner... me extraña que siendo arañas se caigan de la pared. Or, are they luchando el baro del Ortega y Gasset?

Who knows... remember, it's el país de la siguaraya.

The Cuban government announces it will have a press conference to show the world the proof that the US government and its representatives in Cuba are financially supporting terrorists (dissidents) inside the island.

The only irrefutable proof demonstrated is that the political police illegally intercepts the mail of diplomatic personnel; and they are not even capable of effectively use this common violation to their own benefit. Here is the original AP report. Cazador cazado?

Now, the question is: Is it a coincidence that last week was announced that Michael Permly will the replaced in his position in la SINA? Humm...

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald both published entire packages with the news (I wonder if they received any direct hint; the paper I used to work for received one before ICE overhauled the local meat-packing plant, but that's another story).

Para ponerle la tapa al pomo, Cuban journalist (??) Marta Rojas opportunistically changes political directions as if she was changing her shoes...(her shoes?, well, maybe before 1959) And there is a letter to prove it.
Why am I not surprised?

See, the thing is that in Cuba, siguaraya goes beyond Benny Moré, Oscar D'León and Celia Cruz's rhythms. It goes beyond the magical plant that belongs to Shangó. It doesn't matter if you try to use it to open your ways and to close your enemies'.

Back there in the gulag, it also means that anything could happen, especially when talking about the commies' dirty laundry and those who dare to speak up against them.

What a magic!

H/T to Babalú Blog and Penúltimos Días

May 15, 2008

Talking about heroes...

Cuban independent journalist Guillermo "Coco" Fariñas has written a letter to the newly-reformer-heir-prince-president of Cuba calling him a liar for saying that Cubans prisoners are not tortured.
"Usted se atrevió a afirmar: “Cuba revolucionaria no conoce un solo caso de tortura, desaparecidos, ejecuciones extrajudiciales, ni cárceles clandestinas……”. En nombre de todos los cubanos que alguna vez nos hemos opuesto al gobierno del que usted durante casi 50 años ha sido el segundo al mando, le digo responsablemente ante el mundo, que usted es un embustero".
Alto y claro; que es un mentiroso.
He even got the guts (para no decir lo que realmente tiene muy bien puestos) to tell his crude personal experience of torture suffered in the hands of the regimen's political police.

Struggling to find words and organize ideas

That's the feeling I had when I finished reading "Unvanquished; Cuba's resistance to Fidel Castro", by Enrique Encinosa. And I can not thank enough Ziva for suggesting the book. It's amazing.

It's a must. Is a book that belongs to all freedom loving citizens, not only in the US, but in the whole world.

I also see it as a golden mine of knowledge for Cubans from my generation, that were fed up completely distorted stories about the rise of the so called revolution. To start I've got to say I have to read it again. I want to make sure I got all the details; fresh and directo, forever in my mind.

To make a long story short, this book has left me with an invaluable lesson. A lesson that made me change some past thoughts about my fate for being born in Cuba, my disenchantment with the lie that I grew up and the never ending quest of asking why some people would ask us to fight against the regimen, while I used to see them as those who left just on time and inherited me that maniac system.

Encinosa's book has taught me that I was wrong.

Reading its testimonies I've learn the stories of so many brave Cubans that gave their lives fighting against communism since its early years, even though I grew up thinking they were really bandidos and criminals paid by the US.

But, what else can you expect from the brain-washing education you receive in Cuba? History distorted from all points to satisfy the psychotic mindset of a crazy murder.

Then, I can't help to start thinking in all those families from Sandino that I've met in my abuela's house in Guane and feel angry and sad remembering how they were re concentrated by the regimen. Or the brave women that fought against the rising of communism since the very beginning. Or the horror stories about the political prisoner in those early years --not that it has changed at all nowadays.

There are so many examples that I can't even put the words together to organize those thoughts. It's truly unbelievable all the horrors Cubans has faced in their quest for freedom, democracy and against communism.

Thanks to this book, I've learn so much about the Cubans who fought and gave their life or freedom in Bay of Pigs, about those who went to the Escambray --after being supporters of the monster in the fight against the previous dictator-- when they realized the treason, and about so many other black pages in the story of the castro regimen, that I now feel more empowered to spread the word about the reality of my country.

I have the power because I've known the testimonies that reflect the real face of all those in the cúpula; the so called heroes and so on... all fake, all lies, all treasons.

This is the sad story of a nation lost in the struggle of egocentric personalities and marxists solapados that don't give a damn about any single human being.
The sad story of a betrayed dream.

Now I understand even better what my tío told me in his death bed:
"Esto no es por lo que yo luché. Esto es una mierda".

But, above all, I can now humbly recognize that it was a generation that never gave up. They didn't inherited me a monster without putting up a fight. To the contrary, many of them gave their lives trying to change the course of the future society where I was supposed to be born.

All Cubans born and raised under castro's dictatorship should read this book. I hope one day in the near future they will. It the least we can do to say "Gracias por haberlo intentado".

May 14, 2008

I have a (mountain) crush

Víspera del Día de las Madres, 2008, next to the stream of the Big Thompson River that goes through downtown Estes Park. (Man, these heavy coats do not make me any favor, picture-wise... I still need to shed some pounds...)

I do have special feelings for Colorado places --amid the terrible weather this colorful land sometimes throw at us.

It's a kind of crush; a feeling of well being that never goes away, no matter how many times you make the drive and breath the air up there. (More or less like the relationship Marta has with Disneyland, you know? Who, BTW, it's an amazing cook and cookbook's author)

One of those places I'm in love with is Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (NMNP).

Last week I attended a training conference there and I've got to tell you, in the four years I've leaving around here, I never get tired of this place.

It's like: "OK, I can hit the road and drive up there every single weekend". I love the road (US 34, that basically goes from the corner of my house to Estes Park), and I do love the re-energizing feeling I always get when I'm there.

It was hard to be away from my kiddo; the first time. Horrible, to be more exact.
But I compensated it with the views and the peace. It was not exactly a vacation, but indeed a very much needed break.

Here are some memories from the views that accompanied me all the way up.
(More on my RMNP's adventures to come)

Skyline from Estes Park, in a windy and warm spring day of May 2008

"Twin Owls", a mountain formation that surrounds the valley where Estes Park is located. If you watch closely, you could see the two owls, looking to the west (right), with their big pechugas, really close to one another.

Allow me to introduce you the Big Thompson River, alongside US 34, in the way to Estes Park. The river gives the name to the place where the road was built: Big Thompson Canyon.

Peaks from Rocky Mountain National Park, seen from my hotel room window in Estes Park. In theory, we're in spring, but these breathtaking mountains usually keep their snow-peaks all year long. It's so wonderful to be up there! And I mean, right up there!

A close-up from the Big Thompson River.

May 12, 2008

Looking back to another Sunday

It could have been just another Sunday.
But it wasn't.

It could have been a Mother's Day to celebrate with Mami, Gangui and mis primas, to have our little comidita in Alamar, to scrape by to get those red roses.

Or a day to tirar la casa por la ventana in this colorful Colorado.

But, since in this life misery is optional, I opted it out and concentrated in the sweetest and tiny details.

In things such as the pain you feel the first time you spend the night away from your kiddo and the glory of seeing his eyes when you are back. Things such as witnessing the total and undivided love preference he has with Mami, no matter how bad the day is.

Or seeing your own mother unconditionally sided with you, while she's aging and battling los golpes de esta vida, suffering for the world she left behind, just to be with you.

There is no better rose or gift for Mother's Day than listening your child calling you with his first "Mamá". Or feeling his soft arm at night, while he reaches out just to touch you, making sure you are there, right next to him.

It doesn't matter that the day goes by without some Felicidades, or kisses or flowers. Those things, although very nice, come and go.

The real ones are always here, with us, all year long.
And I thank God every single day for having them.

May 7, 2008

UPDATE: in lieu of a "carta de libertad"

The newly "reformed" Cuban government didn't approved the exit permit to Yoani Sánchez, to fly to Spain and receive her Ortega y Gasset Award.

For some reason that I don't know, the article that I read this morning in El Nuevo Herald online, has disappeared. Not a problem. The news is being reported here, here , here and here.

Anyway, it looks like the award and she being included in Time's 100 most influential people was not enough reason for the "reformist" to allow her to travel. Could it has something to do with saying some "inconvenient truths"?

(Maybe "they" are interpreting Times' nomination as competing against Evo "cabeza de melón" Morales, who is also in the list? just speculating...)

Ernesto Hernández Busto, the host from the blog Penúltimos Días, has been designated to go to receive the award on her behalf. He does not need a carta de libertad to travel from Barcelona to Madrid.

Tonight, May 7th 2008, the ceremony will take place.
And here is the open letter Ernesto wrote her.

Boy, you've got to love this Chinese computer without Internet+cellphone+toaster oven freedom!
Isn't that super-cool?!

One million signatures / Un millón de firmas

Several human rights groups, organizations and institutions inside and outside Cuba have come with a petition to release the political prisoners in Cuba.
They're aiming to collect one million signatures.

We don't know if it's going to have any practical effect, but I think it's worth to give it a try.

Babalú has a summary in English.
To read and sign the petition in its Spanish page, click here.
The main site is here.
These are the organizations behind the project.

Please, follow Babalú's advise; copy and paste the url and send it to everyone in you email contacts. For those pacific dissidents, it will always be worth to give it try.

H/T to Babalú Blog

Trashing some SicKO bigotry

It's been business as usual for Michael Moore.

Tons of love for Castro's Inc, its free health care and education. But let's make it clear: from the security of his housing and lifestyle built upon the democracy and rights the US Constitution guarantees for everyone in this country, including scumbags like him.

The new fashion is that now, Moore pretends to be "nonjudgmental" when asked, in Larry King Live, about Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments.

How cute he is!
The devil is on the details; and there are quite some details written by Moore in "Downsize This" about... you've guessed it! Cuban Americans.

This masterful KO comes from our very own Humberto Fontova.
Read the entire column in NewsMax here.

Moraleja: We really don't need to be praised by tipejos como este sicko. Actually, being sneered by him is some sort of honor. Modestia aparte, that idiot commie no nos llega a la suela de los zapatos.

Jeez! Sometimes I really can not believe what comes out of this ass... mouth!

May 6, 2008

Blogger without "carta de libertad"

No, we are not talking about the slaves-filled plantations that blossomed in Cuba in past centuries. We are talking about a Cuban blogger, in the 21st century.

No tarjeta blanca (white card) or carta de libertad para Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban blogger hostess of "Generación Y", honored with the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award and included in Time's 100 most influential people.

No exit permit to leave the plantation , I mean, the island reformed by the newly reformist.
Reform my .... Give me a break.

Why am I not surprised?
Well, maybe because I've lived inside the monster, y le conozco las entrañas.

H/T to Uncommon Sense for the summary.

Any date is good to eat & celebrate

Yesterday started as the usual and hateful Monday that I've always wanted could be converted into a second Sunday. But, as noon was getting closer, things started to improve, and to smell good...

We had a lunchtime potluck at work, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. No Coronas (because it was at work, you know...) but pretty good food anyway.

I made my very own vegetarian chili "a la Cuban" and, modestia aparte, I think it turned out pretty yummy. At least the slow cooker went back to my house completely empty, and I had to email the recipe to a couple of coworkers.

As I've said before, I am not good at all sharing recipes because I cook a ojo de buen cubero, but here are the steps I followed, in case you want to give it a try:

-one can of pinto beans
-one can of red kidney beans
-one can of Cuban style black beans (because for us is unthinkable to cook without black beans, even though the original chili recipe does not have black beans...)
-half can or a bunch of fresh: green beans, sweet peas and baby carrots --cut in small pieces, the carrots. You can also use half a bag of those mixed frozen veggies.
-grounded beef (I'm not eating meat, so I use texturized vegetable protein, usually the crumbles from " Morningstar Farms".
-onion finely chopped, two table spoons of chopped fresh garlic, cumin, taco seasoning, powdered garlic, powdered onion, salt, pepper and chili powder (the type that is not very hot, and I used only a little)
-vegetable or chicken broth, or water.
-one small can of tomato sauce
-one can of diced tomatoes; I used the fire roasted / garlic from Hunt's.

Steps to follow:

Drain and wash all the beans and canned ingredients and place them in the slow cooker. In a big saute pan, heat like three or four tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic and the onions finely chopped until golden brown.

Then throw in the grounded beef or vegetable protein crumbles (o the diced tomatoes if you want to go with no extra protein). Sprinkle in like 1-2 tablespoons of grounded cumin, some taco seasoning, salt, pepper, lower the heat and stir frequently until the meat or fake meat is kind of seared.

Add it to the slow cooker, along with the diced tomatoes or any other ingredients you have left.

Add the vegetable or chicken broth or water till the appropriate line in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the garlic and onion powder, stir in very well and off you go with the slow cooker in low. Check the salt.

I usually do it the night before, set in low, then in the morning or right before lunch, I change it to high till I see the consistency I like --not too watery, not too dry. Finally add some cheese right before serving and voila! You are more than ready to celebrate.

(It doesn't matter that we're talking about the only single victory in a war that was lost; if it give us an excuse to cook and eat, then it works!).

Hey!, to set the record straight; my excuse does not have anything to do with this invitation.

May 5, 2008

To kick off a lousy Monday

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a red pedicure.

Only then, it won't matter that it's Monday, that you are at work, tired and sleepy, and dreading to be at home.

It won't matter that even when we are supposed to be in full-bloomed spring, you haven't been able to wear open-toe sandals, yet.

Even if you do it yourself at home (like I do), that red pedicure will boost your energy up to levels where you will forget the fact that you might not be able to go to your Miami homeland this summer.

And that shy concept one usually hold, the one that says you are supposed to have a discreet and simple French style nail polish in order to be "chic"?

Well, that concept will definitively be buried under the icy frost and spring snow covering the garden of us, Cubans up here in Colorado.

(I think I need some vacations)