US celebrates Yoani, but not her message

By Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdés (Progreso Weekly)

yoani
Yoani Sanchez

HAVANA TIMESLiberal and conservative Americans alike have celebrated Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez. She’s become the new “resistance to communism” heroine, a world-renowned troublemaker inside Cuba.

Yoani also acquired semi-princess status in Western Europe thanks to the wide Internet circulation of her weekly Generation Y blog. (Cubans of a certain era got names beginning with Y.)

She spins her columns, descriptions of daily life in Cuba, supported by unverified rumors, to badmouth the Cuban government. They appear in the Huffington Post, El País, Die Zeit and other prestigious journals. Inside Cuba, few read her blog; nor would most Cubans have heard her name. Very few would recognize her face if they saw her.

Last week, Yoani, after visiting Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, she stopped in New York, Washington DC. Her highlights came in the nation’s capital, including a much-publicized talk with Members of both Houses and White House staff. She had just come from presenting her case to the legislatures of Brazil and Mexico where she made important points about U.S.-Cuba relations, points she repeated in Washington.

“My position is that the blockade should end,” she said, “because it’s an interventionist stance, in which one country wants to change the internal situation of another.” She added: “it hasn’t worked. If the original idea was to create popular unrest so the people would take to the streets and change the totalitarian government, it has not worked; even as a pressure method it failed. It should end as quickly as possible because it’s the reason given by the Cuban government to explain its economic failure.”

She had already registered her opposition to the U.S. travel ban on its citizens traveling to Cuba. “If restrictions on coming to Cuba are lifted,” she wrote to Congressman Howard Berman on November 19, 2009, “Americans would enjoy a right that has been infringed in recent years – that of traveling freely to any latitude without penalty.”

When asked about her position on the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, Yoani responded: the U.S. should withdraw from the base, because “I am a ‘civilist,’ a person who respects the legal system, and I could not agree with occupying a space, which shows the occupier doesn’t respect the law.” Which law or whose law? She didn’t clarify.

In Brazil, she answered a question on the Cuban 5, members of the Ministry of Interior now in U.S. prisons. The U.S. should free them because of “the amount of money my country’s government is spending in this world-wide campaign with plane trips around the world. Occupying space in the press and the hours wasted in schools talking about these five prisoners,” she explained.

She trivialized her explanations of desired policy changes. In discussing the Cuban Five, Yoani banalized the nature of the Cuban agents’ task. Cuba sent agents to south Florida in the early 1990s to help prevent bombings. The agents infiltrated violent Cuban exile groups who had targeted Havana tourist spots. Cuban Intelligence then re-circulated their agents’ data to the FBI, who on one occasion used the information to seize a boat docked on the Miami River filled with arms and explosives and destined for Cuba.

In 1998, the FBI arrested the Cuban spy ring members. They got charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, but not with espionage. Gerardo Hernandez, their coordinator, also got charged with conspiracy to commit murder on the false assumption he had provided Havana with the flight schedules of Brothers to the Rescue planes that invaded Cuban airspace and got shot down killing two pilots and two co-pilots.

The government had no evidence to back up its charges. Indeed, Jose Basulto, leader of the Brothers group, had announced the flight schedules. But a Miami jury convicted Gerardo, and the judge sentenced him to two consecutive life terms. The other four also received long prison terms. As Cuba decried the five’s false political imprisonment, Yoani offered a trite pretext for freeing them.

The irony of Yoani’s U.S. appearance, getting crowned by the U.S. media and Congress as the virtual Queen of Dissidents, is that she made the very points the Cuban government has reiterated for a decade plus. But neither government officials nor the press corps acknowledged them. The media focused on occasional interruptions of her speeches by angry leftists instead of reporting the contents of her talks. Members of Congress and the White House staff celebrated the visit of an important person, paying scant attention to the coincidence of her policy points and those of the Cuban government.

Not one mainstream story caught the irony of Cuba’s leading dissident stating the case the Cuban government has been presenting: End the embargo, release the Five, allow Americans to travel to Cuba, and withdraw from Guantanamo. The media also missed points Yoani did not acknowledge. Cuba allowed her to travel abroad and meet with sworn enemies of the Cuban regime.

She also failed to acknowledge reforms that have recently taken place in Cuba like political spaces granted to religious institutions to publish openly critical magazines and journals. Moreover, Cubans prohibited from returning to visit Cuba can now do so.

The U.S. media has positioned her the dissident representative of technology’s age of communication. She sends her weekly Internet column from Cuban hotels, or by flash drive from the U.S. Interests Section and other embassies. She spins each column as an attack on the Cuban government.

The princess of digital communication made her triumphant debut. But apparently no one in power or in mainstream media cared about what she said. The Cuban government should, nevertheless, be proud of her. She used different language to state their case, to Congress, the White House and the public. Alas, eyes saw, but ears closed. Did anyone hear that besides the critiques of the Cuban government she asked Washington to change its Cuba policy?

Saul Landau’s FIDEL and WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP are available on DVD from cinemalibrestudio.com. Nelson Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.



37 thoughts on “US celebrates Yoani, but not her message

  • At the end of this article what’s the point the author wants to conclude; beacuse it doesn’t look like a defined article, it’s looking just like somone who wants to wirte something “washing his or her hands”

    Reply
  • There is also a fact. Cuban government organized all the protests; and then they seemed like having some frustration, They ( Cuban Gov fans) did not look very well at all, it was some of the bullsht, the same everyone already knows, always the same. Obviously they have nothing else to offer ….

    Reply
  • I just LOOOOOOOOVE that a short, skinny Cuban woman with a BIG intellect is making Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdés go to the defamation, innuendo and chisme ploy! GO FLACA!

    Reply
  • Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdés said: “Very few would recognize her face
    if they saw her.”

    I dont think so Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdés!! Lets not forget the
    Cuban telenovela “La Razones de Cuba” broadcasted on national television!

    COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Monday night’s half-hour program was
    dedicated to the topic of “Cyberwar.” (“Not a war of bombs and weapons, but one
    of information, communications, algorithms, and bytes,” the announcer intoned).
    About halfway through the half-hour broadcast, sinister music announced Sánchez’s
    appearance, next to the word “cybermercenary.” The program went on to list
    her international accolades along with the prize money that accompanied each
    award. Next came some fuzzy footage of Sánchez entering foreign embassies in
    Cuba. She was criticized for having secured an interview with U.S. President
    Barack Obama in 2009.

    http://www.cpj.org/blog/2011/03/for-cuban-blogger-sanchez-a-government-distinction.php

    Reply
  • On the contrary, Yoani’s message of the need for regime change in Cuba was heard loud and clear. The fact that she advocates for the unilateral lifting of the embargo and current administration policy is based on lifting the embargo after certain conditions are met is a relative minor difference in strategy when the ultimate goal of regime change is the same. Besides, Landau and Valdes are incorrect to assume that because current US policy does not agree with Yoani’s message, it must mean that her message was unheard. Like many of the left-wing zealots who comment on this site, they make the mistake to assume that we all have to agree to prove that we hear each other.

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  • The US are following their own agenda and don’t give a damn what any Cuban (dissident or otherwise) thinks or says.

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    • Excellent point, dani.

      My feeling is that the US gov’t’s primary concern is keeping the US people brainwashed regarding socialism; and that the constipated economy and one-party autocracy in Cuba–both of which are enhanced by the embargo–play right into US gov’t hands.

      If this is correct, the way for Cuba to end the embargo is to transform the state monopoly ownership form of socialism into a democratic, socialist cooperative republic. I don’t think anyone with any clout within the PCC however is able to think along these lines. Cheers.

      Reply
    • You must be confused. That is the position of the Castro regime: they don’t give a damn what the Cuban people think. But of course, they do care what they say, which is why they arrest them when they say the wrong thing.

      Reply
      • Thats a funny comment because AFAIK, Cuba does not (and never has) prevent their citizens from traveling to the US, learn firsthand about the American dream and return to preach the superiority of democracy, while the US government has banned the travel to Cuba for how long, 50 years already?

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        • What exactly do you mean by ‘traveling’????? For twenty years (circa 1965-1980) the only Cubans who ‘traveled’ to the United States did so as permanent immigrants who could not come back to Cuba as visitors until the mid 80s, could not dream of coming back to live in the island and lost all their civil rights as Cubans. In the 80s the other Cubans traveling to the US did so on boats, were called warms and scum (gusanos y escoria) and thrown eggs at. Then came those ‘traveling’ on rafts and feeding sharks along the way, and only then (mid-90s) could Cubans (usually old people with family in the States) travel as tourists to the US on a more or less regular basis to visit their families (depending on the generosity of the US office in Havana). And this was preceded by a painful and expensive process involving a 200 dollars/cuc letter of invitation, the infamous 150 dollars/cuc travel permit, a 55 dollars/cuc passport and a 150 dollars/cuc for the travel permit extension after one month (at a cost of over 500 dollars/cuc for a two-month stay in the States, around 10 000 Cuban pesos in a country where the minimum salary if of around 240 pesos/month). So I would not use the word ‘travel’ so lightly referring to Cubans since the 1960s until this year, when at least the travel permit requirement was eliminated,
          As to Cubans praising US democracy or lifestyle upon their return to the island, many actually do (most of them in very naive and even stupid ways, I reckon) and the government knows it but it is not so worried. It needs Cuban American dollars real bad and thus needs to make minor concessions such as this one, and second, these Cubans may praise ‘el yuma’ as much as they like in their kitchens and living rooms; they will have no access whatsoever to any public forum and do not dare claiming it. Plus, and this is mostly thanks to the US immigration policies, most of these visiting Cubans are above 50 or 60 years old and are politically and ideologically harmless even if brainwashed while in the US.

          Are you familiar with the connotations of the Cuban expressions ‘conseguirse un faster’, ‘se fue’ and ‘se quedó’ or with the fact that one of the most wanted prophecies Cubans want to hear from any kind of fortuneteller is ‘este año vas a viajar’: they are very illustrative of how Cubans regard traveling: as a miracle and as a somewhat risky event usually involving irreversibility.

          Reply
  • There is a world of difference between advocating change within a country and a situation “in which one country wants to change the internal situation of another”.

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    • I see what you mean. Sort of like when Fidel sent troops to the Congo or Angola. I guess it just depends on which side you are on. (Heavy sarcasm here in case you failed to see the point that Cuba has no moral high ground here)

      Reply
      • Thats a flawed example, Cuba sent troops to Angola because they asked for help against the South Africa intervention in the Angolan civil war and once they won, they withdrew without imposing any condition whatsoever.

        Their help in the conflict started a chain of events that eventually leaded to the end of the apartheid regime and most of Africa is thankful of the role of Cuba in the war. As far as I can tell, all ANC members consider Cuba a friend nation and align unconditionally with Cuba in the bilateral conflict with US.

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        • The Cuban intervention in Angola was not the selfless act the Castro propaganda machine makes it out as. The whole point to the Cuban intervention was to help install the Soviet backed MPLA party in power. This was in contravention of the UN backed agreement to support a multi-party Angolan unity government. MPLA didn’t want to share power and launched a purge in which tens of thousands of UNITA and FNLA soldiers and civilians were slaughtered.

          The installation of the MPLA as the sole rulers of Angola was not only a condition but the very purpose of the intervention. Cuban support for the MPLA dated back to the early 1960s when they provided training to MPLA rebels at camps in Algeria. Che extended the relationship when he met the leader of the MPLA in the Congo in 1965. When the Angolan Unity government collapsed following MPLA’s coup (with the encouragement of the Soviets) in 1975, CUban advisers were already on the scene. The South Africans intervened to support of UNITA and Cuba intervened in support of MPLA.

          This is how Angola wound up the victim of yet another Cold War fight between the Soviet Union and the USA. Cuba and the SADF were their respective proxies. MPLA and UNIT were their local militias. TO be sure, atrocities were committed on both sides, as is the norm in these endless African civil wars. Cuba’s role, including the use of napalm, was no more honourable than South Africa’s in this regard.

          The ANC considers Cuba a friend because Fidel sent them weapons and helped train them in camps in Angola. However, Cuba left Angola when the Soviet Union collapsed and stopped funding their revolutionary adventures abroad. This was before the Apartheid system ended in South Africa, and was unconnected to it.

          Fidel likes to make the false claim that his intervention initiated the process, but on the contrary it probably delayed it. The Pretoria government only began reforms after the state of war ended and the supply of weapons to the ANC was cut off.

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          • Sure thing, but echoing your comment, I can equally state that your version is just the flawed POV of the same imperialistic ambitions that were trying to prevent the MPLA forces in control of most of the country from consolidate their power and put an end to the civil war after the failure of the Alvor pact to achieve a lasting peace. My point is, both positions are equally valid and factually true, the only difference is your own perspective in the matter.

            In any case, it doesn’t matter, the MPLA was in control of most of the country, had a more or less legitimate government and was in its right to ask for help to repeal the South African invasion supporting UNITA forces. The same right that UNITA had when invited South Africa to join the Angolan civil war in defense of their own self-proclaimed government.

            As for Cuba retreating because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Angolan war being unconnected to the end of the apartheid regime you are factually wrong in both accounts. I hope you trust the US department of state on this matter:

            “When South Africa reached a multilateral agreement in 1988 to end its occupation of Namibia in return for a Cuban withdrawal from Angola, even the most ardent anti-communists in the United States lost their justification for support of the Apartheid regime.

            The effects of the internal unrest and international condemnation led to dramatic changes beginning in 1989. South African Prime Minister P.W. Botha resigned after it became clear that he had lost the faith of the ruling National Party (NP) for his failure to bring order to the country. His successor, F W de Klerk, in a move that surprised observers, announced in his opening address to Parliament in February 1990 that he was lifting the ban on the ANC and other black liberation parties, allowing freedom of the press, and releasing political prisoners. The country waited in anticipation for the release of Nelson Mandela who walked out of prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990.”

            Source:
            http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/pcw/98678.htm

          • The history I wrote is what actually happened. It is absurd to say that your version is also true because its the one you like. My personal preference would have been that nobody intervened in Angola: not the Cubans nor the South Africans, not the Soviets nor the Americans, and not the Portuguese either. Sadly, they all intervened and the Angolan people suffered for it.

            You are terribly naive if you think the Soviets were not pursuing an imperialist agenda in Africa. The Cubans provided the cannon fodder as payment for the massive Soviet subsidies to Cuba. That’s an historical fact the Castro regime has feverishly sought to deny. Hence the “fighting apartheid” myth they promote.

            The quote you provided supports my point: the Angolan war extended US support of South Africa and delayed the application of US diplomatic pressure to end apartheid. It was only after the peace treaty that ended the Cuban and South African involvement in Angola that the South Africa government agreed to enter into negotiations. Thank you for the verification of my point.

            The UN had endorsed a plan for Angola that involved a unity government of the 3 main rebel groups. One group, MPLA, reneged on their agreement and murdered tens of thousand of Angolan civilians. This was done with Soviet and Cuban support. To call that a justified intervention is not only factually and historically inaccurate, but a moral perversion of international law and humanitarian principles.

            Cuba supplied the soldiers, but the Soviets supplied the weapons and ammunition. The SADF fought the Cubans to a standstill at Cuito Cuanovale, a battle in which the Cubans had used nerve gas against UNITA troops. When the Soviets cut off their military support, the Cubans had no choice but to drop their plans to extend their guerrilla war into Namibia and sue for peace in Angola.

            Since the peace treaty in 1988, the MPLA yet again reneged on their obligations to govern peacefully. Yet again they attacked the UNITA rebel army and the main tribal populations from which UNITA drew there support. The Cuban intervention was from the beginning in support of one side in a vicious tribal war. The legacy of the Cuban intervention has been the continued genocide of the losing tribes who had supported UNITA.

      • To Moses Patterson comment on Cuba having no moral high ground to denounce an act of intervention (the Embargo)
        And at this point in modern history, what exactly is the height of the United States’ moral ground in foreign policy?
        Also, acts which are unlawful and wrong are and stay so regardless of the moral ground of the parties involved. The embargo has been rejected over and over again by a large majority of the international community represented at the UN, which is the only entity legally and morally authorized to impose measures of these kind upon a country, as was the case with South Africa under the Apartheid.
        Your rationale in this particular case seems to be the following: the wrongdoing of A regarding C (that would be Cuba intervening in Angola, Ethiopia, etc.) justifies the wrongdoing of B regarding A. And that is why, funny enough, you and the other guy have ended up elaborating on the Angola issue and not one more word was said about the embargo.

        Reply
  • The authors missed the point of Yoani’s Cuban Five comment. She later explained her comment was meant ironically, as a criticism of the Cuban government spending so much time and resources on a propaganda campaign which nobody outside of the ruling circle is listening to. She clarified that the CUban Five are indeed guilty as charged and should remain in prison.

    Now it is obvious that Landau & Valdés know that’s what Yoani said, but it was not their interest to be accurate. The whole point to the above piece is to provide political spin and obfuscation in defence of the Castro regime. That their attempted slur of Yoani Sanchez was so lame is typical of the leftist echo chamber they inhabit.

    You just don’t get it.

    Reply
  • Tracey Eaton, on his blog ‘Along the Malecon’ posted a comment by Yoani regarding her view of the different opinions around the embargo. She states ”
    I respect the different opinions on the embargo. Why?
    Because they are born out concern for Cuba. There are people who believe the
    embargo will help Cuba become more democratized. There are also those of us who
    believe Cuba will become more democratized without it. But all of us agree that
    we want democracy in Cuba.” The post is entitled ‘Respect and Tolerance’. ‘Nuff said.

    Reply
  • Hey! Got an idea! What if we get Saul Landau & Yoani Sanchez to debate
    in the bad old USA or even better on Cuban TV?? If not this trip by Yoani (if
    the Castro clan will let her) next one! I live in Los Angeles California and Cal
    Poly is my alma matter!! Here is Saul’s information which is public information
    so not breaking the law! Those interested in setting something up let me know
    if I can help, my e-mail is [email protected] !

    SAUL LANDAU California State Polytechnic University, Pomona,

    Saul Landau at (909) 869 – 3115 [email protected]

    Landau is director of digital media and international outreach programs for
    the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona.

    Reply
  • You are simply living in fantasyland. In the real world, things that are not pure, pristine white are not necessary pitch black. Your “history” is the flawed point of view of only one of the involved parties, you should step back and see the conflict from all sides and stick with verifiable facts before forming a criteria.

    As for Cuba being cannon fodder of Soviet interest in the region, you are again factually wrong:

    “The deployment of troops was not pre-arranged with the USSR, as often reported and depicted by the US-administration. On the contrary, it also took the USSR by surprise.[86] The Soviets were forced to accept the Cuban troop deployment so as not to endanger relations with their most important ally in close proximity to the United States. But they had in mind to keep a lid on the extent of the Cuban engagement and merely sent arms and a few specialists to Brazzaville and Dar-es-Salaam. It was only two months later after the fighting swung in favour of the Cubans and the US passed the Clark Amendment that Moscow agreed to a degree of support by arranging for a maximum of 10 transport flights from Cuba to Angola.[87]”

    As for your next statement, is simply ridiculous. South Africa refused any kind of diplomatic compromise until their troops where soundly defeated in Cuito Cuanavale, lost air superiority and feared an imminent invasion of Namibia. Only then they agreed to grant the independence of Namibia, thus ending the need for the Cuban assistance to Angola.

    And your final statement is equally absurd: Cuba helped to stabilize a country where three factions where waging asymmetrical warfare and settling ancient tribal grudges with little respect for the civilian population. If similar conflicts in the area are a measure of anything, their intervention prevented large scale genocide in the area.

    Make yourself a favor and read the excellent wikipedia article on the Cuban intervention in Angola to have a full background of the situation before forming an opinion. I know, wikipedia is not the ultimate source of truth, but contains references to all its sources, references that you can check by yourself if you want.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_intervention_in_Angola

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    • I have read it and several other accounts. You see, I am presenting a balanced perspective on the Angolan war. It is you who insist on taking one side, that of the Cubans. I say a pox on all those who intervened in that country.

      As for Cuito Cuanavale, the South Africans like to claim they won that battle, and the Cubans insist they won it. The fact is they both fought each other to a standstill. The Cuban advance was stopped and the South African counter-attack stalled. Or the South African advance was stopped and the Cuban counter-attack was stalled, depending on who’s account you read. Either way, the price for continuing was too high for either side. That’s how they were both pushed to negotiate a peace treaty. By then, in 1988, the USSR had grown weary of their African adventures, their war in Afghanistan was going badly and their Eastern European satellites were getting restless. The Russians pushed their Cuban proxies to make peace just as the Americans pushed the South Africans to negotiate. The Tripartite Accords were signed in December 1988.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripartite_Accord_(Angola)

      When the Angolan War was on, Reagan resisted pressuring Sough Africa too much. With the war over, the USA then put public pressure on South Africa to end apartheid. Only after the peace treaty was signed did the South African government begin negotiations with the ANC to end apartheid.

      “Apartheid was dismantled in a series of negotiations from 1990 to 1993, culminating in elections in 1994, the first in South Africa with universal suffrage.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid_in_South_Africa#Negotiations

      From the link you provided (please note the dates):

      “On 25 July fifty Cuban weapons specialists were sent to Brazzaville in order to help with Soviet arms deliveries for the MPLA.”

      “On 9 August 1975 a 30-man patrol of the South African Defence Force (SADF) moved some 50 km into southern Angola and occupied the Ruacana-Calueque hydro-electric complex and other installations on the Cunene River.”

      “On 22 August 1975 the SADF launched operation “Sausage II”, a major raid against SWAPO in southern Angola.”

      “The dispatch of the Cuban volunteers started 21 August and an advance party with the most urgently needed specialists used international commercial flights. Small groups continued to trickle into Luanda on such flights as well as on Cuba’s aging Britannia planes and the bulk arrived after a two-week trip aboard three Cuban cargo vessels; the first one, the “Vietnam Heroico” docked at Porto Amboim on 5 October.[66]”

      “On 14 October, the South Africans secretly launched Operation Savannah”

      Back and forth, the South Africans and Cubans escalated their presence in Angola until a full-scale war erupted.

      The attrocities committed by MPLA after the peace treaty was supposed to end the fighting is well documented.

      Both the Russians and the South African destabilized Angola for their own political purposes. MPLA was founded by the Portuguese Communist Party, which in turn was founded by agents of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s and as a member of Comintern was under the control and direction of Moscow. The Soviets armed and trained the MPLA with the intention they should seized power when Portugal withdrew. That is what happened and Cuba sent their soldiers to help back up the MPLA.

      South Africa feared Russian backed countries on their borders and actively destabilized all of their neighbours by supporting various rebel groups. The Americans feared Soviet expansion in Africa and so they supported South African efforts in support of rebels who fought against Russian backed rebels. All of Southern Africa was a front in the Cold War. The local people paid the price for Soviet and American interference in their countries.

      It is a myth that Cuba acted without prior approval from the Soviet Union. The Soviets wanted Cubans to provide soldiers as they judged their MPLA proxies too weak to win on their own, but that direct intervention of Soviet troops would have been too provocative for the USA to accept. Documents recently uncovered from the former USSR archives reveal the extensive co-ordination between Moscow and Havana on the Angolan intervention.

      http://www.faqs.org/cia/docs/46/0000518406/SOVIET-AND-CUBAN-INTERVENTION-IN-THE-ANGOLAN-CIVIL-WAR.html

      If the Cubans or the South Africans, and the Americans and Russians, had really wanted a peaceful and independent Angola, they would have supported the unity government. Instead, they supported their local proxies, for their own reasons, and the Angolan people paid the price.

      Reply
      • I’m not taking the Cuban side, I’m merely pointing out that your claim of a balanced perspective is bollocks and backing my words with independent sources and verifiable evidence, not feelings or opinion.

        As for the Cuito Cuanavale, you are again factually wrong and in this case your mistake is conflating FAPLA and Cuban troops as a single force. The Cuban forces did not partake in “Operação Saludando Octubre”, they only intervened to prevent the complete annihilation of the FAPLA troops in the botched offensive. Take a look at the Cuito Cuanavale article in wikipedia:

        “In 1987, as part of the Angolan government’s repeated campaigns against UNITA and for the control of south-eastern Angola, the Angolan army launched campaign Operação Saludando Octubre to drive UNITA forces from their stronghold cities of Mavinga, a former Portuguese military base and Jamba in the southeast of the country just above the Caprivi Strip. As in previous campaigns, planning and leadership was taken over by the Soviets and the higher ranks in the units were taken over by Soviet officers. Major-General Ryabchenko would command the Angolan forces in the battle.Soviet command did not include the Cuban forces in Angola and the Cubans initially did not actively engage in combat, but only took over support functions. (…) The Soviets dismissed the advice of the Cubans, as in the campaigns before, who warned that the operation would create another opportunity for a South African intervention. It was decided to commence the attack from Cuito Cuanavale.”

        In short, it was a FAPLA operation with Soviet leadership that went awry and the Cuban troops only engaged in Cuito Cuanavale to prevent a major disaster in the southern border, and while at it, they not only repealed the SADF offensive, but opened a second front and two forward airports that ensured air superiority and ultimately forced SADF to retreat to Namibia and South Africa to sit in the negotiations table.

        If by standstill you mean they didn’t pursue all the way to Pretoria, you are right of course, but the Cubans never were specially interested in expanding the operations theater outside the Angolan border in the first place, particularly with the wanning soviet support and verified nuclear capabilities of South Africa.

        Your example is a perfect example of the duality of historic truth: when South Africans claim they wont they were right. They stopped the FAPLA offensive and inflicted a massive damage to their operatives that forced Cuban troops to run in their aid to avert a certain disaster.

        When Cubans claim they won, they are also right. They stopped the South African counter-offensive from the botched FAPLA operation, saved the remaining FAPLA forces from certain doom and mounted their own counter-offensive that forced SADF forces to retreat all the way back to Namibia, fulfilling their strategic goals for that particular campaign.

        References:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cuito_Cuanavale

        Reply
        • Look, we’ve batted this thing back and forth enough, but your position has shifted considerably from the first comment to your last. You started out proclaiming the full pro-Cuba line on Angola, and only after my posts did you come around to accepting the point of view that the official story is not what really happened. We may still disagree on some details now, but it was my point that the official Cuban and South African versions are mirrored propaganda.

          On a related tangent, have you read Angel Santiesteban’s book of short stories, “Los Hijos que Nadine Quito” ? They’re about the experiences of Cuban soldiers during the Angolan war. Alas, the book is only available in Spanish or French. One story, “South: Latitude 13” is in an anthology of Cuban short stories, translated to English. Quite a moving and subtle story, not at all political, but simply human. I hope some day the rest of his stories will be printed in English.

          The Angolan War is a little known, and even less so factually, yet very significant theatre of the Cold War which deserves to be told in an honest history.

          Reply
        • You know ac I do not only agree with you but you reminded me some words of wisdom I’d like to share, it’s an old Chinese proverb that goes like this: “There are three truths: my truth, your truth and the truth.”

          Reply
      • BTW it looks that you added content to your previous post, so here we go again.

        The timeline is crystal clear: Cuba was sending technical help and military training personnel, not combatant units while South Africa was engaging in open warfare. There was no escalation, whatsoever, they didn’t sent any troops until November 9 when they confirmed the South African invasion. From the same article:

        “It was only after the MPLA debacle at Catengue that the Cubans became fully aware of the South African invasion, that Luanda would be taken and that their training missions were in grave danger unless they took immediate action. Neto had requested immediate and massive reinforcements from Havana at the urging of Argüelles. On 4 November Castro decided to launch an intervention on an unprecedented scale codenaming the mission Operation Carlota (..). The same day, a first plane with 100 heavy weapon specialists, which the MPLA had requested in September, left for Brazzaville, arriving in Luanda on 7 November. On November 9 the first two Cuban planes arrived in Luanda with the first 100 men of a contingent of a 652-strong battalion of elite Special Forces.[83] The first priority of the Cubans was helping the MPLA to keep hold of Luanda. Fidel Castro explained the Cuban intervention: “When the invasion of Angola by regular South African troops started 23 October, we could not sit idle. And when the MPLA asked us for help, we offered the necessary aid to prevent Apartheid from making itself comfortable in Angola”.[5] see also:[71]”

        Besides bad grammar, your CIA link only contains the opinion of an intelligence officer. There is no evidence of any kind of previous agreement between Cuba and the USSR nor any reference to recent documents related to the issue. Notice that the issue is not whether it was or not an active collaboration with Cuba after the war started or whether the Angolan conflict was a proxy war between US and the URRS (both statements are unquestionably true), but whether Cuba acted on its own volition or at the command of the soviets and so far the evidence points that the Cubans acted on their own.

        As for your last statement, I wholly agree. Unfortunately, that was how things were in the Cold War era and there is no point trying to change the past, only the duty to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.

        Reply
      • BTW, if you are interested in the topic, you should watch a documentary called “Cuba, An African Odyssey” for a good and fairly balanced account of Cuban intervention in Angola.

        Reply
  • The Cuban government continues to try to disrupt Yoani, but instead demonstrate how oppressive and weak the regime really is.

    “Havana Diplomats at UN Try To Block Yoani Sanchez News Conference”

    “Cuban diplomats at the United Nations complained “heavy-handedly” about a news conference by blogger Yoani Sánchez at a U.N. auditorium hosted by journalists accredited to the international body, knowledgeable reporters said.Sánchez’s appearance before the U.N. Correspondents Association went ahead as scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday, but its location had to be shifted because of the Cuban complaints, according to association members and news media reports.

    Sánchez denounced the Cuban complaints during her news conference and said that it’s time for the United Nations to “come out of its lethargy and recognize that the Cuban government is a dictatorship.”

    “If this meeting was being held in the bottom of an elevator shaft, we would have more freedom than in Cuba,” she said. “I am proud that my first time in this very significant U.N. building is with my journalism colleagues.”

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/21/3299554/havana-diplomats-at-un-try-to.html#storylink=cpy

    Reply
  • The “interview” was an email with a few brief questions she sent to Obama’s White House email address. President Obama promptly answered the email, much to his credit. You can read the questions and answers here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/presidemt-obamas-answers_b_363553.html

    “QUESTION 2: SHOULD YOUR ADMINISTRATION BE WILLING TO PUT AN END TO THIS DISPUTE, WOULD IT RECOGNIZE THE LEGITIMACY OF THE RAUL CASTRO GOVERNMENT AS THE ONLY VALID INTERLOCUTOR IN THE EVENTUAL TALKS?

    “As I have said before, I am prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a range of issues of mutual interest as we have already done in the migration and direct mail talks. It is also my intent to facilitate greater contact with the Cuban people, especially among divided Cuban families, which I have done by removing U.S. restrictions on family visits and remittances.

    We seek to engage with Cubans outside of government as we do elsewhere around the world, as the government, of course, is not the only voice that matters in Cuba. We take every opportunity to interact with the full range of Cuban society and look forward to the day when the government reflects the freely expressed will of the Cuban people.”

    Reply
  • Nope, I started by pointing why the Cuban intervention in Angola is not a valid example of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. My initial point was that the MPLA explicitly asked initially for logistic help, then for military help to repeal the South Africa invasion (something they had the right to do), while there is nothing resembling a legitimate government amongst the Cuba opposition and they don’t control any portion of the country whatsoever.

    As far as I can tell, more or less we all agree on this point, at least no one has challenged it yet. Nor the fact that most African countries are thankful to Cuba for their involvement in the African independence movement, in particular Angola.

    The discussion started on the second paragraph of my first post.

    The first part looks more like a semantic disagreement. I never said that the Cuban intervention in Angola directly caused the end of apartheid, I merely pointed out that it started a chain of events that eventually leaded to that and the US state department and all involved parties seems to agree with me.

    The rest of the debate was just correcting or clarifying some details in your response that were more of a matter of interpretation than anything else.

    I’ll look for Santiesteban’s book if I can find it. The language is not an issue for me, but finding books and media in general from Cuban authors is very hard.

    Reply
  • Thank you for the link, I will watch it. I have not been able to find even a Spanish edition of ” Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” aside from the absurdly priced copy on sale at Amazon for $2000. Perhaps some day his books will find their way into English, or perhaps my Spanish will improve to the point I can rewardingly read them, (whichever comes first!)

    One short story of Angel Santiesteban can be found in this fine anthology of Cuban fiction: “Dream with No Name: Contemporary Fiction from Cuba” http://www.amazon.com/Dream-No-Name-Contemporary-Fiction/dp/B0071UNZIG/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1364489612&sr=8-10

    Well worth reading for the other stories, too.

    Reply
  • “The Myth That Prevails” by Yoani Sanchez

    “I hold my breath. It’s my turn to speak. I tell about the acts of repudiation, the arbitrary arrests, the assassination of reputations and a nation on rafts crossing the Florida Straits. I tell them of divided families, intolerance, of a country where power is inherited through blood and our children dream of escape. And then come all the phrases I’ve heard hundreds, thousands of times.

    “I’ve barely said the first words and I already know what is coming: “But you can’t complain, you have the best educational system on the continent”… “Yes, it might be, but you can’t deny that Cuba has confronted the United States for half a century”… “OK, you don’t have freedom, but you have a public health system”… and a long repertoire of stereotypes and false conclusions taken from official propaganda. Communication breaks down, the myth prevails.”

    http://translatingcuba.com/the-myth-that-prevails-yoani-sanchez/

    Reply
  • Seems the only thing easier than ignorance is bias. Notice that the first commentator declares it is a “fact” that the Cuban government organized all the protests against Yoani. Arrozconhuevo’s magical power is only surpassed by the Cuban government which is spite of its weaknesses and flaws, can somehow control the minds not only of people in far flung countries, but even the commentators who dare to disagree with the anti’s on this site. Reading the back and forth below, I almost expected someone to jump in and say South Africa would have been better off if Cuba had stayed away! So easy to find fault, but so difficult to actually organize and make even a small community a better place to live, much less a country under assault.

    Dare to consider what the US or even a more democratic country would be like if an enemy 28 times the U.S. population, with weapons that only say “Martians” could devise had the right to spend 50 years trying to ruin our “way of life”? The U.S. is having enough trouble already, even though we are really threatened by no one and conduct wars at will. Can you imagine if the U.S. faced an enemy of 8.8 billion?

    Cuba is far from perfect and in spite of the haters, there are many Cubans who are trying to make things work both personally and for their communities. My first question to critics is OK, you argue you found a flaw or worse, what do you suggest would actually be possible that would make it right or even just better for the majority? And if they answer that they don’t know or don’t care about the majority, then at least I know what they are really about. If they have real suggestions that they are willing to try out, based on good will and sound experience, then i will respectfully listen.

    Reply
  • Como hombres y mujeres libres podemos,
    respetuosamente, tener nuestras diferencias, pero estamos unidos por algo
    sublime: nuestra Patria CUBA.

    Reply
  • She is what she is: an ultrareaccionary, cynical to the end under her face of an innocent virgin. The Virgin of the Dollars ( La Virgen de los Dolarios ( dolares). Spitting on all Cubans working for a better socialist future, operating with truths, halfthruths and a lot of lies. Some truths are necessary to make the lies look like truth. That a perfect strategy.If ever she would have had any credibility, latest being shown with the ultra reaccion, cynicly talking about the failure of Cuban economy in the country which basically wrecked and still wrecks Cuban economy – due to a big part exactly to the bloqueo – showed whose spirit`s child she is and put her into the right position: that of a cruisader against socialism, with all means and by all means.Whatever might be wrong in Cuba, its certainly not her who`s gonna change things. The Cubans dot need a Sanchez to tell them from Washington what´s not working in the country. They`ve got brain themselves.One differnce only: they are not paid from abroad.Which gives them more credibility than Our Lady of the Dollars.

    Reply
  • Basically her message falls on deaf ears She likes to see herself in public as a mover and shaker however that is not happening She is tolerated for the exposure and like the narcissist she is bring nothing to anyone who lives here

    Reply

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