Life and TV in My Cuban Neighborhood

Fernando Ravsberg*

This time around, the meeting with the representative of my neighborhood was not as unanimous.

HAVANA TIMES — “I’m 68 years old and it’s all the same to me. Our people need respect,” these were the opening words of one of my neighbor’s complaints, voiced during the official accountability meeting with our local representative.

It was an apt preamble for what came next. “The prices at the farm products market, which is now a cooperative, are prohibitive, and one finds rotten produce in the garbage. They would rather throw it away than lower prices,” said the angered woman.

The self-employed, however, aren’t the only problem. My neighbor spoke of the difficulty of finding personal hygiene items saying, “you have to go look for hygiene products in different neighborhoods, because the place you find soap doesn’t have toothpaste, and so on and so forth.”

Steam was shooting out of the woman’s ears when she stressed that “the newspaper Tribuna de la Habana is saying personal hygiene products are being distributed in a normal and timely fashion,” yelling they only write “lies and more lies.”

To conclude, she reported that Public Health authorities “closed down a dental clinic in the neighborhood and are already dismantling it without consulting with anyone,” adding that 3 doctors had told her “they didn’t even let them say a word.”

Garbage collection is a serious problem in my neighborhood and others around the country.

The municipal representative replied that the clinic was closed down as part of the rationalization of resources undertaken by the Ministry of Public Health, but the woman insisted the authorities were taking measures that affected people without consulting with them.

She was so unimpressed with the responses she got from the representative that she ended up saying: “This is quite possibly the last balance meeting I attend,” in the understanding that discussing anything there was of no use.

Others complained about public street cleaning services, the epidemic seedbeds afforded by the excrement that is periodically left on the street or the inefficiency of State ration stores, which open when they please.

That’s what my neighborhood looks like these days

Food prices are a concern in the neighborhood.

Paying attention to what is being said at meetings like this one is a good way of getting a sense of how the country is faring and of the ills that are affecting people: the price of food, the shortage of crucial items and cutbacks in social programs.

Only 28 of the hundred neighbors invited participated in the meeting. Not even all of the families were represented there and, judging from what some said, there’ll be less people next time.

Such a lack of interest is the natural outcome of many years of minimal results and unanswered questions. In theory, Poder Popular (“People’s Power”) representatives, elected at neighborhood level, are the highest local authority.

It is the political and administrative structure closest to the population and ought to work as a double-pulley system, in order to address the community’s daily problems and convey government decisions to voters.

In practice, with few honorable exceptions, they have no administrative power or abilities. Any public official, administrative leader or simple company manager has more say over the lives of community members than the delegate who represents them.

Neighborhood stores were also severely criticized.

Every such feedback meeting in my neighborhood, is an opportunity for the municipal representative (who is yet another member of the community) to excuse himself saying he took all of the steps he was tasked with but met with very limited results.

Then, he is again bombarded with complaints, takes down the same old demands and some new ones and prepares to take them all up again in his free time, because these delegates are neither professional politicians nor salaried employees – they have to work like everybody else.

The cycle repeats itself each year, with less people at the meetings. Of course, this may be happening only in my neighborhood and it could well be smooth sailing in the rest of the country, as the Cuban TV news continues to announce.
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(*) Visit the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.


36 thoughts on “Life and TV in My Cuban Neighborhood

  • May 31, 2014 at 11:23 am
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    As Madison said, “If men were angels, there would be no need of government.” Taking this advice to heart, and also noting the terrible record of Spanish colonial governments from the early 1500’s through 1898, and the subsequent governements of thieves, pirates and running-dog stooges (always liked that phrase!) under the psuedo-republic, from 1902 to 1959, it was well that the Revolutionary Government established a strong, executive governance capable of following through on the reforms that needed to be done. Now, however, it is propitious for the Revolutionary Government to infuse the legislative, as opposed to the executive, branch with more decision-making power.

  • May 14, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    Griffin, while Obama’s approval ratings are at the lowest they have been during his presidency, low ratings are to be expected at the midway point of any second term President. Like Ronald Reagan, Obama also suffers from having began his presidency with extremely high initial ratings from where he had no where to go but down. His administration has been a mixed bag of successes and failures at worst. The lowest unemployment rate in 6 years and a fairly steady increase to 250,000 new jobs every month. We could parse the quality and salary of these new jobs but if you were out of work and now you are working, then a job is a good thing. The stock market continues to record all-time highs and my 401(K) is the better for it. Even Obamacare is not cause the end of civilization as Reeps had predicted and there are 8 million Americans who have insurance for the first time or a better policy than the one they had before. He ended one war and is ending another. That’s a good thing right? Iraq is a mess and maybe worse than before we went in but that is not his fault. His record in Syria is also mixed. You probably are critical that he did not support his own “red line” edict, but I am glad he avoided military action yet extracted chemical weapons concessions. He has improved the US reputation among our European allies and kept up a valiant and expanding fight against our terrorist foes without having to embroil US troops in costly wars. Did I mention that no previous President has had to face an opposition even coming close to the professed opposition expressed by the Tea Party. Again, I will not shrink from the widely held belief that SOME but not all of that opposition is race-based. Your other criticisms are somewhat petty. Kennedy and Reagan were also lightly qualified to serve as POTUS and yet their presidential records are recognized among the best. By the way, when you write “cry racism” it tends to sound as if you have so overheard that ‘cry’ as a excuse that it has lost its sting with your and has become wearisome. Like the cry of rape, if overused, it serves to minimize the value of real victims. Imagine what it must be like for me and other victims of racism. I can’t tell you how tiresome it has become to still have people call me ‘nigger’ or cast aspersions about my character based on the color of my skin. Yet a week doesn’t go by here in San Francisco of all places where I am not followed by security in a department store or looked at with fear by an older white woman in the Safeway grocery store parking lot simply because I am black. It is really tiresome for me too. I wish Obama was just being judged by his record alone. Good or bad, that would be a breath of fresh air.

  • May 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm
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    Highlighting flaws in the US and elsewhere is a common retort of Castro apologists who struggle to defend Cuba on its merits alone. I agree that humanity is flawed and therefore it comes as no surprise that governments run by humans would be flawed as well. Here is the problem unique to Cuba: the majority of the problems Cubans face are a result of the Castro dictatorship’s totalitarian leadership and their diminishing capacity to retain control. US mistakes and missteps with regard to Haiti have nothing to do with the lack of cooking oil in Guantanamo this week. The controversy that engulfed the 2000 Presidential elections in the US have no bearing on the building which collapsed this past Sunday in Habana Vieja. Defend the regime if you will but using the excuse that life is tough everywhere is a poor strategy.

  • May 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm
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    Your theory that the bulk of opposition to Obama is based on racism fails on the simple fact that he was elected twice, therefore the majority of people are not so racist as to refuse to vote for him. Yet today, his approval rating is around negative 10. Did a whole bunch of people suddenly realize they really were racist after all?

    Furthermore, you would have to argue that his policies are working fine, even while his critics complain. Well, no. His policies are not working well at all, most especially his foreign policy. He couldn’t even get all Democrats to vote for Obamacare, and all Republicans voted against it.

    Is some of the opposition because of racism? Of course it is. But so what? How does racist opposition have extra power to derail a presidency, over and above what ordinarily opposition can do? Are racists magical or something?

    On the contrary, if the bulk of Obama’s opposition was racist, then his cheerleaders in the media would get better traction from their constant drumbeat of of accusations of racism directed at every critic. Maybe it’s just easier to cry Racist! than it is to admit to mistakes.

    I’m sorry, Moses. But your President has turned out to be an incompetent narcissistic idealist who failed to deliver on his unrealistic promises. His profound lack of experience shows. (Did you know, that being POTUS, has been his longest running full-time job?)

    Most Americans have finally figured all that out by now. It’s not racism, it just common sense. History will not be kind on him, either.

  • May 12, 2014 at 9:03 am
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    Fact check: the Supreme Court did not decide the outcome of the 2000 election. The US Supreme Court ruled that the Florida court did not have the authority to allow an unconstitutional and highly selective recount of the Florida vote to proceed. As a result, the original official count stood. The voters decided the outcome of the 2000 election.

    YOu say the CUban medical mission to Haiti is unreported in the US media? Then what’s this report in the NYT?

    “Cuba Takes Lead Role in Haiti’s Cholera Fight”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/world/americas/in-haitis-cholera-fight-cuba-takes-lead-role.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    OR this one from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/01/14/clemons.haiti.cuba.us/

  • May 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm
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    Since 1980, after Reagan’s elections, beggars and homeless people became common in the large and small cities of the US. Rubbish goes uncollected and power outages are common because of lack of maintenance of the infrastructure. This is in the country that is often referred to as “The Wealthiest Nation in the World”.

    If you are interested in traveling to other large rich countries, try China. I spent a month on a University History Tour there in Beijing and then traveling in the rural districts. It is the most appallingly filthy country I have ever seen. In Shanghai, the garbage scows haul mountains of garbage UP the river to be dumped. Three days later it floats back down on its way to the sea. Our group refused to eat at one restaurant where a rotten chicken was displayed in the front window. Our escort, who was a US Citizen, was getting kick-back from the businesses we went to.

    I doubt if perfection is possible for the Human Race. We are by nature selfish, aggressive, and dirty. Civilization has smoothed off a few rough edges, but we haven’t changed that much.

    As for Democracy, it has never existed in the US. Our Constitution originally disenfranchised anyone who wasn’t a White, Male, Property-Owner That has only changed slowly. Now the “Roberts” SCOTUS allows Corporations free-access to the political process and says money can buy ‘free’ speech. It has ignored the erosion of Civil Liberties for Blacks, saying that minorities have the same rights as any one else, and no longer need special protections. This means that once again Blacks and Poor People must meet onerous requirements to vote. The 2000 Presidential Election was unconstitutionally decided by the Supreme Court, and the citizenry allowed it, btw.

    And let’s not forget the NSA recording, and storing every telephone call, and every internet post by US Citizens since 9/11. Is Cuba ‘s ‘List’ of possible dissidents anywhere near that extensive?

    They claim we are exceptional, and that I am forced to agree with:
    We have maintained the Cuban Embargo for over 50 years, and insist it is only failing because it is not stringent enough. The Slave Revolution in Haiti against the French was in the early 1800s. The fear of an uprising by Black Slaves in the US was so strong, that to this day we punish Haiti for that sin.

    We deny Haitians sanctuary. We invade and dispossess their elected leaders. And, when that doesn’t work, we allown UN “Peace Keepers'” to pollute the drinking water with Cholera. Are you aware that the Cuban Medical Mission in Haiti is unreported in the US Media? Not to Worry though – Bill Clinton’s trips to assuage their ills are highly publicized instead.

  • May 11, 2014 at 10:05 am
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    Thank you for this comment. In a nutshell, Obama underestimated the opposition he would face in closing Guantanamo and quickly decided from the earliest stages in his first term to use the significant political capital he marshalled during the first half of his first term on passage of the ACA which proved to be a disaster for him politically, at least in the short term. I, like many, many others believed closing Guantanamo meant the whole operation. Was I intentionally misled or just naïve? Maybe a little of both. Now, on your reaction to claims of racism in Washington. As I said, we should agree to disagree. I believe that certain members of Congress wake up every morning with one goal that day. They hate the fact that a Black man is President of the United States and they work diligently to make him look bad. A recent poll of Americans regarding racism in Washington falls along racial lines. Most blacks agree with me and most whites agree with you. Not surprising since whites see racism as a minor issue and blacks see racism as a major issue. BTW, your examples on either Democrats or Blacks who have opposed Obama only prove the point that not ALL opposition to Obama is race-based. I heartily agree. I contend however that Obama alone has faced political opposition based in part on his race. On your final point, comments that include racial components are not necessarily racists. To say “I saw a white man rob a bank” is not racist. But to say “All black men will rob banks” is racist. Spike Lee’s comments were not racist. I have not seen Jay-Z’s medallion. However, yes, racism does cut both ways.

  • May 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm
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    I have no idea why you thought Obama was going to close the US Naval base at Guantanamo. That you & your friends mistakenly assumed that was his intention in no way means that was ever the policy. I can find not one single example of any US official proposing that the US government close the entire US Naval base at Guantanamo. Please provide a quote from Obama to support that absurd claim or excuse yourself.

    By the way, Obama pledged to close the terrorist prison at Gitmo within 100 days of assuming office. The Affordable Care Act didn’t even start in committee until June (House) or July (Senate). That bill wasn’t even on the table until 2009, so your excuse that it took precedence over closing Gitmo is unsupported. Again, I must point out that the Democrats held majorities in both Houses until November 2010, so if they and a workable plan for closing Gitmo, they could have passed it. What happened was they soon realized the issue was more complicated than they had assumed. When they looked at the facts, they soon realized the only reasonable solution was the one Bush had established and which Obama has since pursued. It was too embarrassing to admit, so instead they blamed Republican intransigence. Oh, and racism.

    Remember how Eric Holder want to send Khalid Sheik Mohammad for a civilian trial in New York City? Very few New Yorkers thought that was a good idea and Obama had to tell his Attorney General to drop it.

    We both know racism persists in American (and Canadian) society. We can even be honest and admit it exists among all races. But I do not accept that it is a significant factor in the opposition to the Obama administration and their policies. I do submit that the charge of racism is tossed about by Obama’s supporters as a tactic to shut down debate and vilify any and all opposition. It is an intellectually weak tactic which insults the real victims of actual racism.

    As for the failure to advance his agenda, Obama is largely responsible for it himself. Even among Democrats, he is known for a lack of interest in calling congressmen, persuading them to his positions and pushing his policy. He has consistently relied upon the decisive and highly partisan Reid & Pelosi to shove his agenda through congress, while he spends his time demonizing his opponents and pretending he is above it all. It has proven to be a disastrous approach to governing. He has burned all bridges and instead of rewarding allies, they are vilified and insulted.

    The opposition to Obama is based primarily on the fact his policies are weak and unpopular. Are you saying that the 34 Democratic congressmen who voted against the Affordable Care Act were racists? Maybe they had valid non-racist reasons to oppose the bill. And if they had valid non-racist reasons to oppose the bill, then the Republicans who voted against he bill could also have valid non-racist reasons for voting against the bill, couldn’t they?

    Are you trying to say that “racist” opposition has some kind of magic policy-stopping power? Is racist opposition somehow more effective in thwarting a President’s agenda than the Bush Derangement Syndrome opposition which ran riot among Democrats? Are you saying that the people who voted for Obama in 2008 & 2012 but who have now turned against him, were for a while not racist, but now became racist? What about African Americans who oppose Obama’s policies, are they racist? What about Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Chris Matthews, and Jeremiah Wright, who all made embarrassing comments of a racial nature, are they racists or do they get a free pass because they support Obama?

    How about Mia Love, the black Republican woman who ran for congress in 2012. She was opposed to Obama, so does that make her a racist? She received quite a number of racial hate messages from Democrats, but these Democrats who insulted her were hating a so-racist (because she opposed Obama, which is the working definition of racist, right?), so does that reverse their racism and make it ok? Kind of a double negative thing?

    And what about the thousands of Americans who voted for Obama, supported the ACA, signed up for it on the exchanges and then were shocked to discover their insurance rates had shot up, and now regret their previous support for the program… are they now suddenly all racists too?

    PS: Last time I checked, Donald Sterling was not a member of congress. And I’m pretty sure he had nothing to do with Obama’s failure to close the prison at Gitmo.

    PPS: What is your opinion on the racist comments made by that other NBA owner, Spike Lee? Or how about the medallion worn by Obama’s friend Jay-Zee at a recent NBA game, which feature the logo of a racist organization? Does the racist charge cut both ways?

  • May 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm
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    This phrase is attributed to an old African proverb and you have clearly misunderstood its meaning. Having grown up in an African-American community, I was subject to the mores and traditions of my entire “village”. This meant the watchful eye of the elders and other parents had value to me and my behavior was held in check even when I was out view of my parents. Because church members, neighbors and teachers shared the values taught to me at home, I knew if I misbehaved at school or at church, my parents would find out about it and discipline would follow. My parents were the sole caregivers and disciplinarians in my childhood but the entire community (village) had input. Your ANTI-nuclear family views are out-of-step with human nature and serve to explain your many oddball views reflected in your comments.

  • May 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm
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    While I proudly proclaim that I believe capitalism is the least objectionable economic system, I have NEVER proposed “reinstalling capitalism” in Cuba. I have ALWAYS proposed that Cubans be given the opportunity to choose for themselves through an open and transparent electoral process sustained by an independent media. Yes, in capitalism some people get rich and some people ‘get poor’. So long as a social safety net is provided and basic human dignity and needs are met, I accept a system based on ‘winners and losers’.

  • May 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm
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    Implicit in his campaign promise to “close” Guantanamo is the understanding that the base would be returned. That is what I and everyone else I know believed would happen. During the first two years of his first term, his primary legislative focus was on the passage of the Affordable Care Act to the peril of the rest of his legislative agenda like Immigration Reform, Tax Reform and closing Guantanamo. Getting his health care bill passed cost him a Democratic majority in the House in 2010 and the rest is history. The Obama administration has been plagued like no previous administration with an opposition party hellbent on stopping his agenda, no matter what. I know where you stand on this next point so we should agree to disagree. I believe a sizable portion of his opposition is racially motivated. Like Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Nevada rancher ???, the Duck Dynasty clan and so many others, racists never want to admit they are racists and even open-minded folks like you find it hard to accept that a despicable character flaw like racist beliefs is at play in Obama’s opposition. The detainees held in Guantanamo are a thorn in Obama’s side. He can’t send most of them back to their country of origin and Americans don’t want them in the homeland. Republican leadership now know that keeping the base open is just one more chink in Obama’s armor so the vote to close the base is not likely to be brought to the House floor. The existence of trace amounts of WMDs and Hussein connections to terrorists groups don’t come close to justifying the American and Iraqi lives lost, the costs associated with the war and the loss of credibility that the US suffered abroad. History will not be kind to Bush II & Co. with regards to this chapter of American foreign policy.

  • May 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm
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    There have been chronic shortages in every Marxist state that was ever existed. The reason is because Marxist economics is based on false assumptions and erroneous economic theory. One of the many errors or Marxist economics is that it fails to accurately price goods and services, resulting in distortions in the supply and demand for resources. As a result, there will always be shortages. Furthermore, the solutions which Marxist states use to deal with shortages, rationing, subsidies & controls, only work to make matters even worse.

  • May 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm
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    In fact, Iraq did have some WMD, just not in the quantities that every intelligence agency around the world believed he had. Even the Iraqi generals believed Saddam had large stores of chemical weapons. Among the several other reasons for the Iraq War were that Saddam was continuing to persecute the Kurds (true) and that he funded, trained and armed several Islamic terrorist organizations around the world, also true.

  • May 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm
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    When has Obama ever declared his intention to close the Guantanamo Naval Base and return it to Cuba? Never as far as I am aware. He has declared his intention to close the detention centre, but that’s a different thing. The reason he hasn’t done so has nothing to do with Republicans in congress, as Obama’s Democrats had control of both houses for the first two years of his administration. He didn’t close it because like so much else with Obama he promises the moon without understanding the reasons and ramifications behind his unrealistic promises. When reality hits, and he can’t do what he promised, he blames the GOP. As if he were the only president to ever have to deal with an opposition party.

    The US Naval base at Guantanamo is on land rented from Cuba. The Cuban government agreed to lease the land to the US Navy starting in around 1900. Following the Cuban Revolution, the Us Navy continued to pay Cuba the monthly rent, which the Cuban government accepted. After. Few months, Castro realized the US base was still there and demanded they leave. The US government showed them the lease agreement which does not allow the Cuban government to unilaterally break the lease without negotiations. The US argues that because the Revolutionary govt accepted payment for a few months then the lease is still valid. As it stands, the lease on Guantanamo is one of many items the two governments will have to sit down and negotiate one day. In the meantime, the US govt continues to send rent cheques to Havana which the Cuban government does not cash.

  • May 10, 2014 at 11:02 am
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    Sorry….NO GO .-you cannot say:
    “Obviously I believe that most U.S. interventions were for a noble cause …..”
    without citing the specific example(s) where this was true.
    We’ve gone down this road before .
    Let’s take another stroll down memory lane , shall we ?
    I am asking you to make a list of as many cases that support your thinking that the U.S. was acting nobly in the scores of interventions it perpetrated in say, the past hundred years .
    Do this while bearing in mind that I will respond with at least ten instances for every one you can come up with in which the U.S. acted strictly out of imperial interests .
    If you post nonsense publicly as you did and do routinely,
    you’re going to be intellectually embarrassed quite often .
    I would imagine that you’ve needed to become somewhat inured to that ridicule by now so give your list your best shot.
    Did you really mean to write that last sentence which intellectually is on a par with ” If my aunt had balls , she’d be my uncle ” ?

  • May 10, 2014 at 10:51 am
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    That you would create hardships for not only all the Cuban people but even your own relatives there for the purposes of reinstalling capitalism: so some people can get rich -itself an entirely unchristian and immoral system – cannot be considered anything other than immoral .
    And PLEASE… don’t give me any talk about being all about democracy because that’s just not true.

  • May 10, 2014 at 10:42 am
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    To quote one of my least favorite U.S. politicians, Hillary Clinton: “It takes a village to raise a child”
    You , of course have no understanding of communal living and the shortcomings of the nuclear family structure as financially dictated by the capitalist economy.
    You’re tied into, have internalized , normalized, fully accepted these totalitarian forms, have an innate inability to understand the desirability of democratic forms and so your response is what is to be expected .
    Children whose upbringing is limited to the one or two adults in a nuclear family often suffer from that relationship when one or both parents is an unfit and/or abusive .

  • May 10, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    He’s your friend.
    You’d be in a better position to explain his actions .
    There are far more totalitarian and repressive governments on the planet that that which exists in Cuba .
    None of these like Saudi Arabia and China has had the U.S. waging an economic war on them, have they ?
    The problem the U.S. has with Cuba is that it has a socialist -style economy that is anathema to capitalism.
    It is a threat to the totalitarian form that is capitalism by its existence and its ability to survive the U.S. war upon it.
    It sets the model for other poor capitalist countries to follow and the “Domino Theory” , in this case is definitely valid.
    The U.S. knows that even the bastardized Cuban socialist -style system as it exists , with all its faults and failings is meeting the essential needs of all its people even with the powerful U.S. warring on that economy.
    That said , if you are a Cuban Monzon, you really should know that Cuba’s system is NOT communist .
    Being run by the Communist Party does not make any society communist any more than the Democratic Party in the U.S. is democratic. in its practices or intentions.
    To be communist requires a bottom-up decision making process and Cuba certainly does not have this.
    You have said that Cuba is a dictatorship and you are correct.
    Therefore it cannot, by definition, be communist .
    Why do you not know this basic fact ?

  • May 10, 2014 at 10:24 am
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    Wake up !
    The U.S., in line with a foreign policy imperative it has followed for about 100 years , is attempting to crush the Cuban revolution because of its socialist aspects and the example a prosperous Cuba would present to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Instead of whining about the tough conditions imposed by the emebargo and blaming the victims who are all the Cuban people , you logically and morally should be spending your time speaking out against the imperialism that is the root cause of most of Cuba’s problems.
    Absent a cessation of U.S. hostilities and the ongoing attempt to reverse the Cuban revolution , the Cuban government would be suicidal to ease up on those planning with the U.S. government to overthrow the revolution by force.
    Further , you’d do well to learn what communism is and what it isn’t.
    What it isn’t is the top -down ( Leninist) government in place in Cuba.
    And yes, I agree with you that the answer to a great many of Cuba’s problems is more democracy but more democracy is not any kind of answer to the threat posed by the long-standing U.S. foreign policy of suppressing socialism, communism and any other democratic form .
    Democracy is anathema to capitalism because you cannot have the democratic majority in any capitalist enterprise defy the boss.
    That’s not how capitalism works.
    Were the workers to control things from the bottom up , you’d have a democracy by definition.
    So even were Cuba to suddenly install a model democratic government where the decisions were made by the majority of the Cuban people, the United States would maintain its embargo and attempt to overthrow Cuba’s revolution SOLELY because of its socialist nature.
    The U.S. has NEVER made any serious attempt to install a democratic system anywhere that I can think of .
    You give it a try.
    And after that think about how many countries the U.S. invaded or intervened in to overthrow a democratically elected government or just throw out someone the GOUSA did not like .
    Anyone who actually believes that democracy will cure Cuba’s ECONOMIC problems is a fool because most likely they believe that capitalism is somehow democratic and is an integral part of a democratic society in a future Cuba ….. when it is precisely the opposite.
    You might THINK the U.S.is the model to follow but a closer look at U.S. society reveals that totalitarian belief systems totally dominate that society.
    Capitalism, the oligarchy that is the government, the believe-or-burn-in Hell Abrahamic religions practiced in the country and the traditionally male-dominated nuclear family structure are what determines most of the waking hours of everyone in the U.S. and those institutions are ALL totalitarian and not democratic at all.
    You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear as the old saying goes and neither can you develop a democratic society while simultaneously clinging to totalitarian thought and practice.
    All this to say that as bad as Cuba may seem to many, I don’t think they really understand what democracy is IN PRACTICE.
    To most it’s a nice word and claiming to be a devotee of democracy is always socially preferred .
    But in practice the country is unquestionably totalitarian from the top leadership to the poorest among us .
    It’s how the country thinks. .
    a greater freedom of

  • May 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm
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    Explain to me why my friend Pedro who firmly and honestly believes
    he is leaving in these conditions because of the failure of the communist society and the incompetence of its leaders didn’t’ raise his hand in the meeting to say it.

    He was there and I can tell you he is very opinionated and likes
    to talk a lot.,

  • May 9, 2014 at 10:53 pm
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    And that’s why I believe HT is a Cuban Communist Party idea. Anyone who reads this article draws two conclusions:
    1. Cubans can complain
    2. In Cuba there are economic difficulties

    Those who are not Cubans will miss the details. Who benefits from spreading these messages to an audience outside (not inside) Cuba?: The Cuban Communist Party.

    Conclusion 1. It is wrong, because people are not complaining; people are just timidly talking about difficulties, knowing that they are being watched by the secret police and the communist party. Complains must be accompanied by identifying a responsible person. Who dares to say in a meeting that the president’s bad leadership, or that the ideology is the reason why they have those problems? That doesn’t happen because people know the consequences. Any doubt that there are thousands who believe that and want to say it? If tomorrow that is permitted, these meetings will be very different.

    If that ever happen in Cuba and people are not repressed, the communist party will stop being a repressive party and I will be the first to say well done, because to me that will set the country free! If you can’t challenge your leaders you are living in an oppressive system, in a dictatorship.

    But of course if the top leaders in the country can be openly blamed the communist society may collapse.

    Conclusion 2 Give the audience something they know and an opportunity to blame the embargo for it. Which is, of course, part but not the main reason; the main reason is the communist ideology and its economic directions.

    If young people would had been allowed to freely express their ideas
    30 years ago, the small changes currently happening in Cuba would have happened 30 years ago, it was always in our hearts to change, but the dictators wouldn’t even consider allowing us to say it. They are now just forced to change.

  • May 9, 2014 at 10:21 pm
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    Thanks for your lengthy comment. A few points of contention. Like President Obama, I agree that Guantanamo should be closed and returned to Cuba. The reality is that it is not that simple. Reeps in Congress refuse to take the necessary action to close the facility and then there is the problem of the remaining detainees whose country’s of origin do not want to take them back. Unlike Elio, I understand and accept my country’s faults and weaknesses and believe that the blame for our prolblems rest entirely with the US. Elio finds no fault with Cuba. I am not sure what you mean when you wrote “In the past century the’re has barely been 1 month when the American government tolerated dissent in Cuba”. Obviously, I believe that most US interventions were for a noble cause with the glaring exception in Iraq. Even then, if what was told to the American public regarding the existence of WMDs in Iraq actually been the truth, even that intervention would have for the right reasons.

  • May 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm
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    Sure a few are brave enough to complain….. and blame the Americans. (laugh)…. What they can’t do is to blame the Communist Party and the political system . If one read the article in detail will notice that, (if you are not Cuban you may miss it). They are in the list already if they cross the line… jail

  • May 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm
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    I have never been to Cuba but I got the same impression about the standard of living. I am amazed when I hear people like Elio praising the magnificent gains of the revolution. But I also wonder in what reality you are living.

    You seem to be capable of recognizing poverty in Cuba. Yet you are as apologetic to the responsible authorities as Elio. On the streets of Guantanamo you describe the effects of the dispiseable internal blockade, imposed by ‘the castros’ as you love to say. Which off course is in no way comparable to the American embargo, a well intended embargo imposed by a government that is yearning for a more democratic world. If any Cuban has any doubts about that I guess they should just look at the decent and humane treatment that prisoners receive in the part of cuba that has enjoyed most US influence – Guantanamo Bay.

    Speaking of Guantanamo Bay, like Elio you rarely oppose the party line which states that the krim annexation is 19th century behavior (kerry) while the century old occupation of Guantanamo Bay is fully justifiable.

    I think one can see a universal principle when a country suffers from foreign domination. It can make the most anti-authoritarian people reluctant to oppose their own repressive nationalist leader. In my eyes thats one of the reasons why Cuba nowadays is not as free and prosperous as the eastern part of Germany.

    When the soviet occupation came to an end the’re wasn’t any base of support left for the ‘communists’. I am sure that wouldn’t have been the case if the DDR in 1991 was part of the regions that suffer from economic warfare, bombardments, platt
    amendments, drone attacks and other oppressive actions usually carried out to benefit domestic sectors of wealth.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not a pacifist. I think a case can be made for foreign intervention when it leads to liberation and when its widely supported by the population.

    If Japan attacks Cuba in the name of liberation I could understand if some people would swallow their propaganda. But I cannot understand your loyalty to the official line of your government when it comes to violence and authoritarian restrictions against cuba and the cuban people. In the past century the’re has barely been 1 month when the American government tolerated dissent in Cuba.

    To me you are the American version of Elio, who probably cant make a distinction between Cuba’s support for Mandela’s ANC and the FARC. Both of you stick with the believe that when we are intervening, its generally for the greater good or at least well intended.

  • May 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm
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    I have never been to Cuba but I got the same impression about the standard of living. I am amazed when I hear people like Elio praising the magnificent gains of the revolution. But I also wonder in what reality you are living.

    You seem to be capable of recognizing poverty in Cuba. Yet you are as apologetic to the responsible authorities as Elio. On the streets of Guantanamo you describe the effects of the dispiseable internal blockade, imposed by ‘the castros’ as you love to say. Which off course is in no way comparable to the American embargo, a well intended embargo imposed by a government that is yearning for a more democratic world. If any Cuban has any doubts about that I guess they should just look at the decent and humane treatment that prisoners receive in the part of cuba that has enjoyed most US influence – Guantanamo Bay.

    Speaking of Guantanamo Bay, like Elio you rarely oppose the party line which states that the krim annexation is 19th century behavior (kerry) while the century old occupation of Guantanamo Bay is fully justifiable.

    I think one can see a universal principle when a country suffers from foreign domination. It can make the most anti-authoritarian people reluctant to oppose their own repressive nationalist leader. In my eyes thats one of the reasons why Cuba nowadays is not as free and prosperous as the eastern part of Germany.

    When the soviet occupation came to an end the’re wasn’t any base of support left for the ‘communists’. I am sure that wouldn’t have been the case if the DDR in 1991 was part of the regions that suffer from economic warfare, bombardments, platt
    amendments, drone attacks and other oppressive actions usually carried out to benefit domestic sectors of wealth.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not a pacifist. I think a case can be made for foreign intervention when it leads to liberation and when its widely supported by the population.

    If Japan attacks Cuba in the name of liberation I could understand if some people would swallow their propaganda. But I cannot understand your loyalty to the official line of your government when it comes to violence and authoritarian restrictions against cuba and the cuban people. In the past century the’re has barely been 1 month when the American government tolerated dissent in Cuba.

    To me you are the American version of Elio, who probably cant make a distinction between Cuba’s support for Mandela’s ANC and the FARC. Both of you stick with the believe that when we are intervening, its generally for the greater good or at least well intended.

  • May 9, 2014 at 11:50 am
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    Hahahahahahaha! Do you realize how many people are laughing at your much repeated opposition to “the nuclear family”? What is your alternative? Leaving our children to be raised by wolves? What a joke!

  • May 9, 2014 at 11:45 am
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    Try to stay on topic please. The lack of basic consumer products and foodstuffs in Cuba has nothing to do with the morality of my beliefs.

  • May 9, 2014 at 9:46 am
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    How DARE you make a fair comparison between Cuba and Haiti and Honduras ?
    Were you any kind of good American you’d be comparing the poor of Cuba with the (dwindling) middle class of the U.S. like the U.S. corporate media and counter-revolutionaries are SUPPOSED to do.
    Are you trying to make presenting the truth a habit here ?
    I agree that democracy is the cure for most of the problems on both sides of the Florida Straits.
    It’s as simple as:
    Bottom-up =democracy
    top-down= totalitarianism
    The imperial physician should heal himself before dealing with Cuba and stop emphasizing the “mock ” in U.S. “democracy”.
    But then what can you expect from a heavily militaristic society with a completely totalitarian belief set ?
    The U.S. preaches democracy but practices a totalitarian form of economics in which your boss/CEO has nearly unlimited power to reward and punish you, the underling.
    By a huge majority it practices totalitarian religions which brook no questioning and which must be obeyed or you burn in Hell forever.
    ( That’s going even North Korea one better- There they just kill you and once you go in the ground , your suffering is over)
    The nuclear family is usually male-dominated .
    Finally, the ostensibly representative government is not at all representative of the views and wishes of the electorate but decidedly representative of and in service to the .0001% who finance their campaigns. They further the aims of the .001% just as Cuba’s ossified systems further the aims of the revolution: without effective input from the electorate .
    As it is in Cuba , so it is in the U.S.
    The difference: once the U.S. war on Cubans ends, there is a strong possibility that Cuba will democratize .
    In the U.S. there is no evidence that the oligarchic (rule/control by the rich) government will ever be able to go back to representing the electorate.
    y

  • May 9, 2014 at 9:26 am
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    Can you give us an approximate figure of how many Cubans are in prison for complaining about living conditions in Cuba ?
    Thank you.

  • May 9, 2014 at 9:25 am
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    I know damned well that there shortages in Cuba.
    And I know as well as you do that the economic problems in Cuba can be laid directly at the door of the 54 year old war on the Cuban people initiated back around 1960 to create just such shortages and hardships.
    You’re so wrapped up in your erroneous version of history and your love for totalitarian systems that you wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you on your ass, so you continue with the lies you’re comfortable with.
    In fact, you’ve believed your own lies so long and have refused to regard fact as fact so long that truth seems like wild fiction to you now and you’re in deep denial .
    Your imperial thinking, like your totalitarian religion requires that you deny science, philosophy and fact in order to maintain your fallacious and immoral beliefs in the face of incontrovertible fact presented by your intellectual betters.
    Your thinking is sociopathic in the truest sense of the word.
    You have no idea of the immoral consequences of your oft-stated immoral beliefs .
    Then again, perhaps you do .

  • May 9, 2014 at 4:14 am
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    How sad is to sleep in your house and spend the whole night smelling the revolting rubbish dumped on the street 50 meters away. But what is really depressing is that kids walk by the rubbish every day and see that as natural and normal. No much you can expect from the future generation of Cubans living in these conditions. Culture is that.

    And also importantly, the communist party already has a list of those who complained and no doubt they will be repressed one way or another,
    they are not already in jail because they didn’t dare to make the communist party
    and its political bureau responsible for these living conditions.

  • May 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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    Not new, just new news in the Internet.

  • May 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm
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    As Milton states in Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Cuba, of course, is neither a socialist heaven nor a capitalist hell, but lies somewhere between. Next door Haiti is a real hell, as is close-by Honduras (actually most of Central America, where both economic and political conditions for most folks are so bad that millions have made the long and perilous journey to what they believe to be a better life in the North). In most cases, these immigrants do make better lives for themselves and their families in the U.S.A. and Canada, (the same is true for Northern- and Sub-Sarahan Africans, South and Central Asians who immigrate to Western Europe and Scandinavia. An important reason why these immigration trends have accelerated is due to the effects of world trade on the Third World, where many local mid-sized and small business are disadvantaged, and small farmers can no longer compete with the multi-nationals.
    Since the folks described in Fernando’s article can expect little satisfaction from the higher ups or their intermediaries, it is time to begin taking initiatives themselves; Lack of resources, of course, will make it difficult, but a bit of creativity and dedication to working towards the goals they set can go a long way in pushing them forward. The kind of top-down structure charateristic of the past 55 years does not serve what will be needed during the coming period . If folks continue to petition, and wait, they will wind up like the “Cargo Cult” tribes of New Guinea, that is, they will wind up “Waiting for Godot!”

  • May 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm
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    I hear these same complaints and worse from my family members who live in Guantanamo. I am left asking myself, “Does the Cuban writer who frequently contributes articles here at HT, Elio Delgado Legon, live in the same Cuba that Fernando Ravsberg is writing about here?” When frequent HT commenter, Walter Teague, attempts to refute the less than flattering articles and comments about Cuba here at HT, is he referring to the same Cuba where my family lives? Finally, if one day when John Goodrich actually speaks with a real Cuban or manages to actually visit the island, is there anyway to be assured that he will visit the same Cuba written about here? I am nearly convinced that the Cuba that these apologists refer to must be another Cuba in another reality. The Cuba I know runs out of potatoes, toothpaste, beer, condoms and just about everything else on a regular basis and is getting worse every day.

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