Archive for April, 2010

Sticks, Iron Bars and Cables

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Through pious hands the Plan Against Disturbances to Order and Counterrevolutionary Riots, reached the bloggers and independent communicators. The plan was prepared by the Ministry of the Interior under the supervision of the Communist Central Committee, which distributed it to the addresses of Interior Ministry, police, firefighters, business and institutions, provincial and municipal governments and the military sector of each of the country’s territories.

The index of the document includes Objectives, Missions, Structure of the Forces, Armaments, and appendices with guidelines, an Action Model, to create Rapid Response Brigades in workplaces.

It attempts to enlarge and organize the repression, so that every police unit can respond in an organic manner to the supposed disturbances of order “provoked by counterrevolutionaries,” a phrase that embraces everything from critical opinions on a bus, in a workplace or a school, up to a meeting of several people on a corner, a “suspicious house” or a cultural institution.

The assignments list “observing the areas of possible disturbances of order, maintaining the organization of the Unit forces with improvised weapons, extinguishing fires and informing the higher command post.”

The structure of the Plan is divided into “organizing the workers at work, and if the situation requires it, alerting those off duty. Weapons which can be used are “sticks, iron bars and cables.” The Administrator of the center will be in charge and the workers will carry out the Plan.

The attached Appendices describe plans for the protection and defense of the Unit, for repelling altercations and disturbances, and for giving alerts; and it contains an Act of cooperation and the citation from the Constitution that creates the Rapid Response Brigades.

Although these plans describe concrete actions, it’s to see if the Administration, the Union and other internal factors in the community can act with the agility of military commandos that they give them assignments before possible subversive activities.

The fear and uncertainty of the political and military authorities are the essence of the Plan Against Disturbances to Order and Counterrevolutionary Riots. The intent to convert the workers and employees into an armed parapolice force with sticks, iron bars and cables shows how desperate they are to keep power at all costs.

Perhaps these measures are effective in military centers, like police stations, firehouses and military schools. Perhaps people in the mass organizations serving the Party or the Communist Youth agree to beat others for a price upon the denunciations of old informers and delinquents, themselves blackmailed by the heads of the police sectors.

Whoever has just elaborated and distributed the new repressive plan to convert the workers into hit men of the citizens is forgetting the discredit of the official discourse, the economic crisis that is crossing the island and the absence of the revolutionary fervor that favored the executions and the political impunity during the decades of the 70’s and the 70’s of the past century.

The attempt to convert injustice into justice by using violence is a call to insanity. Let’s hope it’s the last.

Translated by Anonymous and Regina Anavy

Secret Undercover Work

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

In Cuba the classic tripartite division of powers proposed by Montesquieu and used in many political systems doesn’t apply. As a result, there is no real independence and division of roles and responsibilities among institutions, which act as a single whole, tend to work in teams, each one covering up the mistakes of all and consequently feeling responsible for the blunders of others.

Perhaps the most common example to illustrate this is the excessive presence of prosecutors and police officers at public trials.

Not infrequently, a police officer appears at a trial and testifies before the court that is was learned through the work of undercover agents that the accused is responsible for the crime. As the agent of the police does not reveal the immediate source of this evidence, his declaration affects the principles of immediacy or direct reception of evidence, orally and publicly, that make up the supposition of transparency that must prevail in the administration of justice.

In our legal proceedings, testimony is accepted provided the source of the news is specified and personal information is provided identifying the person who observed the events.

In the case of secret undercover work generally this does not happen and it is given credibility despite not knowing if the referenced source exists, what are the interests of that anonymous person who is not deposed as part of the legal action in a way in which the facts can be directly perceived. In this example the secretive characteristic of the inquisitorial system prevails.

The so-called Secret Undercover Work comes about for three basic reasons: when the source of the proof doesn’t really exist and they need to manufacture the accusation; to not reveal the identity of the undercover agent or informant; and when they have used illegal methods to obtain information. The last procedure is the worst for giving credibility to the anonymous person, legitimizing them and granting them immunity outside the context of the law.

The most illustrative and terrible case is in reference to drugs. As the traffic is difficult to prove, when it someone has a tiny quantify of illegal drugs equivalent to the crime of illegal possession, if the police decide to prove the accused is a trafficker, it is enough to send an agent to the trial who claims to know through a secret undercover operative that the defendant has been trafficking in drugs for a long time without specifying how the drugs were obtained, the price, the receivers and other details that determine a greater penalty without elements of proof.

The doubt is palpable because of the agents really knew that the accused was a dealer why did they wait to arrest the supposed trafficker. The answer is obvious: they take advantage of the certain amounts of drugs or marijuana cigartettes to fabricate a crime that exists in the police imagination and is proved thanks to secret undercover work and the flawed practices of the judicial system.

Taking Cover

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Many peasants smiled last Sunday when General Raul Castro, like a character in an operetta before a staged trench, told the delegates to the Congress of Communist Youth, in his hoarse voice, that “Cuba does not bow before the hunger strikes of its opponents,” which his Excellency considers, “Blackmail organized by the United States and Europe.”

The figure of speech is not original, but perhaps the old Mandarin, accustomed to tough speech in the name of the nation, doesn’t know the number of strikers who are demanding the release of political prisoners. Maybe they told him it was 33 instead of 3, one in Cacocún, another in Santa Clara and a third in Valle Grande prison, two of whom abandoned their strikes though last week Yamil Domínguez in Combinado del Este prison was added to the number.

Still, it is worth asking the tyrant, why is he afraid of some unarmed men in a state of starvation? He should also tell how it is possible that the 27 European Union countries and the United States, with such problems and crises on their hands, choose to blackmail a far-off regime through an independent journalist, an imprisoned doctor, and a barber who can’t even stand up.

Because the General spoke of a smear campaign against Cuba, of the right to defend himself, and said, “If they think they can corner us, let them know we will take cover in the truth and principles.”

Behind so much showmanship aimed at the critics of the regime, lies a message of fear of what lies within and impotence in the face of worldwide condemnation. Perhaps his words are secret passwords against his own generals, embroiled these days in influence pedaling and money scandals.

It is curious that General Castro, even knowing himself to be immune, tries to take cover in legalities and invoke the justice and principles he violates, while speaking like a kidnapper with a hostage-filled plane about to explode.

Another question demands a response: Who is trying to corner the island government? The three hunger strikers demanding the release of political prisoners? The Ladies in White who march through the streets of Havana with gladioli in their hands, under siege by the police and thugs? The European nations seeking respect for human rights in Cuba? Or the United States, whose president insists on opening up relations with the military dictatorship?

If the bellicose general would find answers to such questions, another would remain. Behind whose barricades are you taking cover? Those of your pals in Russia, Spain and China who are thousands of miles away? Or those of your Venezuelan friend Hugo Chavez? Or perhaps those of Evo Morales in Bolivia or the successor to Lula in Brazil if the thugs don’t declare themselves on hunger strike?

The kind declaration of general Castro, who wore civilian clothes but showed his anger before the obedient delegates of the Communist Youth, perhaps because of his custom of closing his ears to all criticism. It would be good to remind him that the door is the surest means to resolve these conflicts.

Hunger Strike

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

On Wednesday, April 14, a hunger strike for his civil rights was declared by the prisoner Yamil Domínguez Ramos, a US citizen of Cuban origin, who is in Building 1, Complex 2 north, of the Combinado del Este prison in Havana.

Marleny González, Yamil Dominguez’s wife and source of this note, said on Sunday the 18th that she was at the prison on the 15th and 18th, but was not allowed to see the inmate. Thursday Capital Guerra met with her in Combinado del Este and advised her that “following procedure he would be put in a punishment cell indefinitely.”

Faced with the threat, Marleny, on Monday, 19 went to the Attorney General. Yamil Ramos Domínguez was jailed in October 2007 when he arrived on his yacht at the Hemingway Marina, west of Havana, because of a storm that prevented him from continuing to the Cancun resort. The fact that he is an American citizen aroused the suspicions of the Coast Guard, who believe the yachts from the north only come to traffic in persons, drugs and they alerted State Security whose officers fabricated false evidence and forced the family to pay in foreign currency for legal resources.

Even though the Supreme Court ordered a review of the case, the Court of the City of Havana, under pressure from State Security, ratified the sentence. The details about the rights Yamil Domínguez Ramos can be read in his blog, Notorious Injustice.

The Industriales Celebrate

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment

When the new reliever Joan Socarrás struck out Villa Clara’s last batter, on Thursday, April 1, at 2:10 in the morning, the Industriales players threw themselves on the ground of “Sandino” and began the celebration of the capital’s team, having taken their 12th title in the National Series, after consecutively defeating Sancti Spiritus and La Habana, who took third and fourth place at the end of the semifinals.

The awards ceremony took place at dawn on Thursday and lasted until 3”00 on Saturday on the Malecon in Havana, where Van Van and Paul F. G. Performed.

Given that baseball is the national passion, the team left Santa Clara along the central highway, accompanied by a caravan of cars, buses and motorcycles that traveled almost 300 kilometers to El Cerro.

In the capital municipalities of El Cotorro, San Miguel del Padrón,  and 10th of October, a human tide cheered the athletes, whose posters had been bought days earlier at the Latin American Stadium. Thousands of children, young people, and even the elderly, waited for the caravan to pass with blue caps and shirts, trumpets, flags and lion mascots, the team emblem.

The grand festival lasted for hours. There were congas. Onlookers took photos or movies with their cellphones. The most euphoric chanted “Industriales Champions! Beat Las Villas!” charting the conflict between the finalists.

The Industriales, winner of the most Cuba baseball championships ever, has been affected by the exodus abroad of its principle players over the last decade, seeking Major league contracts. At the start of the series almost no one would have bet on them to win, given the poor performance of previous seasons and the number of rookie players, which reveals the inexhaustible depth of Cuban sports, despire the economic crisis and social despair.

The joy returned to the faces of the capital’s residents and filled the streets. The Industrials grabbed the title from Villa Clara in 1996; they lost it the next year to Pinar del Rio, and recovered it in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Santiago de Cuba won the trophy in 1999, 2000, 2001,, 2005, 2007 and 2008; while Holguin savored it in 2002. Once again, Villa Clara fell with their boots on.

Among the Industriales’ heroes are batters such as Malleta, Urgellés, Rudy Reyes and Tabares; pitchers such as Ian Rendón, Arley Sanchez and Osdysamel Despaigne and the rookies Rivero and Socarrás, who fill the imagination of the capital. Germain Mesa stars in his first title as manager.

The 49th National Baseball Series came to an end. The industriales are celebrating and Habaneros too. A week later the euphoria continues.

Wings to Fly on the Net

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

When on March 16, the First Course of the Bloggers Academy of Cuba ended, which began in Havana in mid-October 2009, Yoani Sánchez, Reinaldo Escobar and other teachers and participants endorsed the need to return the initiative to citizens and break the monopoly of state information; this is suffocating the country by the dependence and manipulation of journalists who reproduced the official truth and denigrate the opposition across a network of stations, newspapers, magazines and television channels.

The Academy, like the platform Cuban Voices, was conceived as an independent space, horizontal and interactive, without hierarchies or rigid programs. It met twice a week from 9am to 2pm, with an enrollment of 24 students and 6 teachers, almost all bloggers or people aspiring to open a blog. Among the subjects taught included Interactive Journalism (Reinaldo Escobar), Ethics and the Law (Wilfredo Vallin), Cuban Culture (Miriam Celaya), Blogpost (Claudia Cadelo), Word Press (Yoani Sanchez), and Photography (Claudio Fuentes Madan).

The first course continued the Blogger Journey organized by Yoani, Reinaldo and other communicators who disseminate blogética in Cuba and empower citizen journalists with the latest technologies of cyberspace, because, on the island, the government limits access to the Internet and imposes luxury prices in the hotels and cybercafes, while it creates webpages that the networks saturate with the libels of power.

The Blogger Academy, the only one of its kind in Cuba, was recognized by national and foreign personalities, who spoke on civil society, the Church, the economy, the role of new technologies in contemporary society and the use of the Internet in Latin America. Several sessions were filmed by journalists and cameramen from Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Sweden, Holland, USA, Mexico, Peru and Japan, who interviewed Yoani Sánchez, Claudia Cadelo, Miriam Celaya, Eugenio Leal and the other alternative netizens.

International recognition moved in parallel with the verbal assaults of employees of the island press and the siege of the agents of the political police. Fear of the initiatives of those who adopt a social voice was revealed in the media campaigns against the famous Yoani Sánchez, whose blog (Generation Y) became a global public forum for debate, although it is blocked in Cuba, where the communist government monopolizes socio-political life and controls the economy, education, culture and the media.

Between classes and exchanges, those who attended the Blogger Academy received audio-visual materials and texts such as “The revolution in 140 characters”, “Can there be participatory journalism?”, “Tips on how to write on Twitter”, “10 steps for online citizen journalism”, “What is cyberactivism?”, the “Short glossary of Internet terms”, the Manual for uploading videos to YouTube and “10 Tips for writing a good blog”; also “The masters of photography” and documents on freedom of expression, the responsibility of the press and due process in Cuban penal law, routinely violated by the legal system itself and by the police and State Security.

The classes on Cuban Culture explored the ethnohistorical roots of the nation and its links with Spain and America; while the conferences on Ethics and the Law were a review of universal concepts and the progress of society. Word Press sessions, more practical and complex technical classes, represented a challenge to novice bloggers, eight of whom opened their blogs using this medium, bringing to 26 the list of Cuban Voices, led by Yoani Sánchez, a victim of beatings in the streets of Havana in November 2009 and February 2010.

With the flowers and rains of spring, the Blogger Academy sessions ended; its teachers and students fertilize the nation from the self-confidence of their posts and illustrations. If technology undermines the totalitarianism and democratizes information, citizen journalism smashes against censorship and acquires wings to fly on the net. Thank you, friends, for spreading knowledge and hope.

Translated by: CIMF

Tato and Roberto

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Tato and Roberto, two messengers from the Cruz Verde neighborhood in Cotorro, City of Havana, are angry with the local police and the inspectors from the Director of Commerce. They took a hand cart from Tato, 69 and now retired, which he used to carry merchandise to his customers. The two wheels could easily be sold to the ambulances of the city, which lack tires.

Roberto, 81, was fined a hundred pesos and they prohibited him from using his little cart, whose wheels could also be used for a bicycle, according to the inspectors. They did not invalidate the license of the old man, who now distributes bread and other merchandise in the “not suspicious cart” of Chungo, another messenger who has seen 85 springs.

The neighbors of Tato and Roberto think that the fines and the expropriation of the vehicles is somewhat absurd, since they don’t contaminate the atmosphere nor throw trash in the streets.  One of the spiteful neighbors remembers that previously two ambulances were surprised by the police upon leaving the textile factory at ten o’clock at night.  They did not carry sick people, but blankets for the black market.  Nobody asked the ambulance drivers if the tires were from the cart of old Tato.

Although under police siege,  they also calculate who is traveling about in bicycles with plastic boxes that supposedly belong to the milk plant of Havana, to the Hatuey Brewery – now “Guido Pérez” – or other productive centers of Cotorro, where state resources are “divided and diverted” in spite of the controls, fines and judgments.

A magistrate affirmed a few days ago that the workers in some local factories act as if they were owners, at least during the nocturnal shifts.  Wheels, blankets, cases of beer, and bundles of cloth, cheese and even shoes are black marketed outside and inside these facilities. The ninjas working there resemble magicians in their ability to put custodians, police officers and directors to sleep.

Suspicion and extreme measures are called for, as are the commentaries about the millions of dollars that General Rogelio Acevedo,  his son and wife supposedly diverted to their personal accounts.  During the time this general sacrificed more than 20 years as the head of the Institute of Civil Aeronautics of Cuba, they say that his comrades deposited 134 million in three little accounts that were detected by the enemies of the Revolution.  The poor guy is now sitting in his pajamas at home.

Tato and Roberto probably do not know about these things because they don’t have telephones, computers, or internet access.  If they were informed by some neighbor’s cable they might come to think that the rope breaks for the weakest.  Their little carts with the suspicious wheels were taken away, but what will happen to General Acevedo?  Will everything be all right?  Will they judge him? Will they tell “the truth” on The Roundtable TV show?

Translated by ricote