Cuban Poet Rafael Alcides on Fidel Castro and the Press (Video)

HAVANA TIMES — “Once Upon a Time in Biran,” part four of the web documentary “Rafael” from an extensive interview conducted with Cuban poet Rafael Alcides on numerous topics. Director: Miguel Coyula (2016). Subtitles in English

See parts 1, 2 and 3 of the interview here:


32 thoughts on “Cuban Poet Rafael Alcides on Fidel Castro and the Press (Video)

  • What’s your prescription? North Korea? Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia? (Chomsky defended them back in the 70s…)

  • LOL! The voice-over at the beginning of the documentary was taken from he beginning of Citizen Kane, by Orson Wells. Ironically, rather fitting to the topic. Alcedes is a wonderful raconteur, describing in clarity, humour and incite intelligence what was once the hope of the revolution and how it all went wrong.

    An excellent series of videos! Thank you for posting them.

  • Caracas is located in the Cuban colony of Venezuela, ruled by the Castro puppet Nicolas Maduro, and where 4000 Cuban troops are stationed to keep the Venezuelan oil and money flowing back to Havana.

  • They have nothing to argue because all they do is complaining. They do not like this they do not like that yet what gave they done? Fidel Castro sacrifice his life for the Cuban people. He wanted to retire many times but stayed in the government just like george washignton to make sure the Cuban people were safe. And what does Olga have to offer? Nothing. Everyone would starve under her way.

  • do you think that you could debate me on the facts and figures , a long time ago I learned a piece of wisdom goes like this

    “don’t know argue unless you have something better to offer”
    I try my best to live up to it

  • First of all, thank you for a reasoned reply to my comment. To varying degrees, I disagree with most of what you have written. You have asked what is to gained by being negative against “the Castros”? Accountability. Most of what is wrong with Cuba today is their fault. I completely disagree that the Castros want freedom for the Cuban people. Take internet access for example. There have been several offers from foreign investors to build out the infrastructure necessary to bring internet access in Cuba into the 21st century. They were all turned down. I have NEVER advocated violence in Cuba. I recognize the failings of capitalism. I also understand the limitations of democracy. But the issue here is capitalism vs. socialism and democracy vs. dictatorship. On balance, I choose capitalism and democracy. Dare I say so do you or you would be living in Cuba right now.

  • Moses, negativity serves a purpose, I don’t deny that. It is a means of proving what is true when constructive approaches fail. However where you and me differ is what negative comments to make. What is to be gained by being negative against “the Castros” as you put it, or “Raul and Fidel”. As I said when you begin dialectical contention you energise both sides. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So you are energising “the Castros” with your attacks. What is the point? You would argue that you are also energising the “anti-Castros” in the dialectic and they, being on the path of truth will be naturally victorious. Fine. But as I said, what is the point? Do you really think Cuba’s problems will get magically better once Fidel and Raul are gone. Fidel has already gone for the most part, and Raul is set to retire soon also. Is it their magic personality that holds the Cuban’s in thrall or is it the reality that having tried revolution for the past fifty years Cuban’s are more realistic about prospects for change. Managing an economy is complex, managing life more so. There are problems that humanity has yet to fully solve, indeed there will always be such problems, which is why in its negativity, the U.S. deserves praise as well. The challenge is to pick ones targets insightfully. Not simply try to kill off a humble man, however much influence he seems to have. We know that Marx is correct about the contradictions of capitalism, that the only way to make profit is through exploitation. We know that the banks create money out of nothing and then charge us to use it, as was recently proved by amongst others Richard Werner (google it). We know that pure democracy is a mathematical impossibility as proved by Arrow’s impossibility theorem (again google it). We know that current production levels of the world can only sustain a net income of $750 a month per person if distributed equally as shown by Picketty (read it). We know that current resource use by the wealthy countries if repeated across the globe would require between three and five planets worth of resources. What do we know about Cuba, that the Soviet Model cannot compete with the Capitalist one when confined to one tiny island? Even that is questionable since Cuba still exists and its people still live. We know that some Cubans feel discontent, yet remain patient, couldn’t that be said for every country in the world, at least most of the time. Your magic solutions are illusions since comparing Cuba with the U.S. is as you keep saying a waste of time. Some of your negativity is justified. Freedom, whilst as an absolute is an impossibility, in relative terms is something to fight for. Unfortunately, whether atheist or not you seem to miss the reality that this is something the Cuban’s have been fighting for for generations, and through their successes they are much more realistic about what is possible than you. Perhaps before you continue to advocate violent upheaval you consider the following quote from the famous Spaghetti Western “A Fist Full of Dynamite”: “The revolution!? Don’t try to tell me about the revolution! I know all about the revolutions and how they start! The people that read the books, they go to people that don’t read the books -the poor people- and say: “Hoho! the time has come to have a change eh!” […] I know what I’m talking about when I’m talking about the revolutions. […] So the poor people make the change, eh… And then the people that read the books, they all sit around the big polished table and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat eh… But what has happened to the poor people? THEY’RE DEAD!!! That’s your revolution… So please, don’t tell me about revolutions… AND WHAT HAPPENS AFTER, THE SAME F*CKING THING STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN!”

  • Of course there are a few companies in Canada that can not legally do business with the Castros. I would venture to guess, however, there are thousands more that can. Digging up “ghosts from Christmas past” to substantiate your anti-US bias is a failed tactic. American foreign policy is a reflection of the leadership in the White House. As that leadership changes based upon the will of the people, our interactions on the world stage change as well. What we did Vietnam, is a reflection of the Johnson and then Nixon administrations. Just as what we DID NOT do in Syria reflects the prerogatives of the Obama administration. In any case, the blemishes of US foreign policy don’t justify the failings of the Castro revolution. Your puerile attempt to defend the Castros by bringing up the US Civil War and slavery (you haven’t but you probably will) falls short of convincing.

  • Dear John your sarcasm is mediocre but keep trying love,it may get better.

  • Carpet bombing with napalm on Vietnamese villages for years on end with 58,000 Americans dead and with hundreds of thousands of civilians dead on the ground. The destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan over a period of 14 years of ceaseless bombing and all other means of war resulting in the destruction of the countries infrastructure. Again thousands of Americans dead and maimed. More hundreds of thousands of civilians slaughtered or displaced And the resulting birth of radicalism and terrorism. Requiem change of various Governments that don’t suit the American Way. Interference in the internal affairs of others. This must be the reason why there are some 600 American Military Bases located throughout the world. Being put to good use I think.
    Some good examples of “At times, both our methods and our results have been less than perfect” Freedom and Democracy? My GOD!!
    We have companies in Canada that cannot do business with Cuba because they’re subsidiaries of American Companies or have some otherwise American ownership and control. I’m not sure that I fully understand your meaning of freedom. Freedom for who?

  • You are naive. The reason you don’t see protests in Cuba is because they are illegal. There is no doubt a risk one assumes living in a country where people are free to do as they wish. You claim that you are willing to give up that freedom in order to feel safer. Yet you continue to live in the US. Your claim is untested. It’s easy to talk when you have choices. But Cubans, living in Cuba don’t have your choices.

  • #1 The CAA offers legal resident status after 366 days, not citizenship. #2 As expressed in many recent articles, Cuba is free to do business with every country in the world save one. The limitations imposed by the embargo are minimal and lessening every day. #3 I will tone down the anti-CASTRO rhetoric when there are no Castros in charge. I am pro-Cuba. My family lives there. #4 The US has done more for the cause of freedom and democracy around the world, and continues to do so, than any other country. At times, both our methods and our results have been less than perfect. But our goal is the same. If you disagree with freedom, then you will have a problem with the US.

  • Getting rid of the “Wet Foot Dry Foot” policy of the American Government would help. Ending the policy of giving Cubans that reach your shores in any way possible after 366 days American Citizenship would help. Ending the Financial and Trade Embargo imposed by the American Government, which attempts to strangle the economy and foster unrest would help, Toning down the hate and anti-Cuban rhetoric coming from people like you and others would help. Continuing to point out that they suffer from a lack of toilet paper does not help.
    As I said, I have been to Cuba and have met many Cubans and as Yogi Bera once said “You can observe a lot just by watching” The people I’ve talked to are apprehensive about having a lot of Americans show up in their Country. And I don’t blame them. I look around at what the American Government has done around the world in the last 50 years or so and all I see is war, death and destruction,and endless suffering.

  • people in the USA are protesting murder by police and banks who are thieves and steel money from the people. You don’t see that in Cuba. I would feel safe in Cuba knowing that I could not get shot. Here in the USA someone gets mad and shoots you in the car. Some give and take must be needed in order to feel safe. I would lose some freedom to feel save an I would take that any day. I love USA because they took me in and I will always be grateful but in a free country I have the right to say what I think to make it better

  • Ben, are you serious? You write “you don’t feel a sense of any discontent with the Government as you see to-day in the US.” People are risking their lives every day to escape Cuba because of their “discontent”. Do you read any of the posts here at HT? You can hate the US, that’s your right to do so in a free country. But you don’t need to miss state the facts about Cuba to express your hatred of the US.

  • So sad that any human being repeate like a parrot propaganda. You remind me those Right wingers occuping the federal ranch in Oregon. You remind me the DailyCaller And Granma ppl blinded by ideology and propaganda, with a big lack of common sense. Oh by the way ask your boss when the going to allow free press, stop demonizing the opposition, access to the Internet to the ppl of Cuba,A final apology to the gays they put in concentration camps in the 1960’s UMAP. FREEDOMof association, Stop harassing las dramas de Blanco. Because any of this have anything to do with cacareado Bloqueo. Thank you.

  • it is good to know that there is individuals on this planet whom have what it take to analyze the situation for themselves .
    when it comes to US media it gets even worse than we could imagine , watching CNN in Peru was an eye opener , I could not believe the change in quality between what they say in the United States and what can be seen outside the United States , if you have time watch attached video clips , like I said before there is enough material to write a book about US media and their misrepresentation of the truth ,
    as a Palestinian I will say that the US media is co sponsor of genocide in the Middle East against the Palestinians and others , if it happens and we see something that shows how bad it is in Palestine then we have to multiplied by 100 times to have an idea what’s going on , whether it was the Oklahoma City bombing or 9:11 the US media plays a big role in deceiving the American public about what’s really going on , so many times US media destroyed someones carrier before the court had a chance to view his or her case and as it turned out he or she was innocent , what comes to mind is Gary Condit , a California politician who was accused of murder in the disappearance off his female assistance ,
    Ted Turner is a honorable individual , he was a true American patriot and he wanted to say the truth as it is , he went as far as to interviewing Fidel Castro in Havana , and allowing anyone from around the world whom want to say something to go on the air and say it for what it’s worth , he went as far as to allow anti-american sentiment to go on the air and have Americans see it for wait it is , the establishment went after him they could not tolerate an honest human being in the system ,
    now with the advent of the Internet you and I can and everyone else talk to each other halfway across the planet without fear or having the media telling us what to think or what to say , hopefully more and more people well wake up open the eyes and see it for what it is before it’s too late , after all fence Borders and armed guard cannot prevent free thought and ideas from being communicated one human being to another
    I wish you the best my friend

  • Thank-you for writing this. You have hit the nail on the head. I have been to Cuba a few times and while there you don’t feel a sense of any discontent with the Government as you see to-day in the US. Fidel Castro is held in very high regard by the vast majority. Of course the Economic and Trade Embargo imposed by the American Government over the last 56 years adversely affects the peoples standard of living..This is most shameful and is condemned by the people and Governments of the world.
    America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth. Americans are being sold a bill of goods by a handful of transnational media corporations and political elites whose interests have little in common with the interests of the American people. This has to change.

  • My friend you bring up a very important topic and that is the complicity of our USA media in keeping the truth away from us citizens when it serves their purpose. Donnahue was taken off the air because GE had powerful interest in the MSNBC network. GE is also a powerful force in the defense industry. MSNBC bowed to pressure get rid of him because he did not support the war. Likewise USA hides other truths from people and yet criticizes other countries for not having freedom of the press. In China you can get lots of news not available in USA. And USA makes up a lot of news. Example is illegal tienamin square protest where a small group was made to look very big by the US media. Or why the US does not cover the occupation of islands by Japan the historically belong to China. Fidel Castro was able to keep the USA away from Cuba for many decades. Something other countries have not. He has kept Cuba pure of USA machinations. The Cuban people support Fidel. If they did not he would have been taken away long ago. Now Cubans have health care, housing, and food. Imperfections in Cuba are because of US blockade which means Cuba must make due with less. They have done a good job in the situation they are in. If US was interested in the welfare of the Cuban people they would assist instead of block help.
    Can you be sure to find health care in the US? Can everyone get food in the US. The answer is NO. How can you tell a little girl who has cancer that she can not get long tern treatment because the insurance will not pay. Not long ago in Miami there was s story of a young lady that was denied transfer to another hospital for a life saving lung transplant because of insurance. She died. This does not happen in Cuba.

  • Here’s the reason negativity sells more newspapers than positivity. People don’t want to die. Bad news reminds us of our mortality. It is not the role of government and its captive press to guide our spiritual growth. Government of the people, for the people, by the people. Remember that? Furthermore, an independent media should inform the people, free of political and spiritual bias. When that is not possible, the solution is competing media, leaving the people to make up their minds for themselves. While I appreciate your perspective, JESUS CHRIST was speaking in hyperbole in his Sermon on the Mount, the passage in which he uses the “turn the other cheek” phrase. He also tells the apostles, in Luke 22:36-38, to “take up a sword” for self-defense. Not that an atheist would understand context.

  • So true. Ouch!

  • How many times in history where one man does the work of thousands of men and how many times where thousands of men will pass through life as if they were never there ?
    Fidel Castro is one of history’s Giants , he’s the last survival of an age gone by , he gets the last laugh he have outlived them all ,
    Fidel Castro kept Cuba safe through the 60 s – 70 s -80 s ,
    if we look back at that period of time in Central America we see nothing but misery occupation revolutions genocide CIA operative killing preachers and nuns in the middle of the church , right now Central America is nothing more then cocaine highway established by the CIA to finance their fantasies ,
    Fidel Castro kept his people safe if he was not there Cuba would have not fared any better the rest of them , I know what some of you going to say , you have not been in Cuba , you don’t know what it’s like , no I haven’t been there , hopefully soon I will at first opportunity I have , but I’ve been to Peru and Mexico and I saw what happened in a free society , can you tell me if you had a choice between living in northern Mexico or Cuba what would you choose ?
    some of you are going to say Fidel Castro wanted to Russian to use the nuclear bomb against the Americans , I will remind you all that general MacArthur in the Korean War want to use nuclear bombs against China , he thought of nuclear bombs as hand grenades , imagine that if he was allowed to use nuclear bombs against China where would we be now,after all the American propaganda on nuclear bombs was that they are as clean as a regular conventional explosions with no radiation side effects now we know better ,
    when it comes to propaganda in the media , I’m going to tell you a little story my imagination of Pancho via was that of a cold blooded killer , in the movie ( Villa Rides) with Charles Bronson , Pancho via lines up a bunch of men and shoot them with one bullet , all the movies in Hollywood represent him as an animal , what they forgot to mention that the Americans want to invade the Baja Peninsula because of the whale oil , in that time whale oil was the petroleum of its day , what they forgot to mention that he was a hero to his people , two events happen that change the course of history , one was World War 1 and second the development in the petroleum industry which made whale oil obsolete otherwise Baha would have been the 51st state of United States ,
    one of the most difficult tasks that any government or established religion have to face is how to make there population or followers do what they want them to do and this applies to any and all governments ,
    many times I had a chat with American history teachers and what they tell me that what they are teaching in history class is nothing more than propaganda ,
    Fidel Castro will be appreciated more and more as one of the great leaders in history he will be looked at kindly , about the freedom of press and human rights I will tell you that the American Civil Liberties and freedom of the press is smoke screens and mirror , out of my own experience I will tell you that my civil rights have been violated right left and center and there is nothing that I could do about it ,right now American media rating is less than 8% that’s how much credible they are ,Phil Donahue want to have a serious debate about the Iraq war the show was canceled immediately, I could go on and on I could write a book about the subject , so please get off your puppy stop whining ,
    please recognize the greatness of this man and what He has done for his people ,
    gracias Fidel Castro

  • I don’t want to quote Sayidina Isa (Jesus Christ) particularly, I identify with the atheist perspective when it comes to human figures, pero let us examine why he said “turn the other cheek”. It is quite simple. Everything has energy. When we interact with something we build on it, either constructively or dialectically, at any rate we develop it more. Negative things develop until the negation of the negation, the solution or synthesis is discovered. If we hide negative things then we don’t allow ourselves to arrive at the solution. This much is true. However if we don’t know the solution then we must continue to develop the negative, anti-thesis, until we discover it. The Western press bombards us with the negative, building edifices of fear in the population. So many problems. We are paralysed. What’s more, they tell lies. When there isn’t enough negativity they invent more. So to return to “turn the other cheek”. When you know the solution to a problem, or have no interest in engaging with it, the most powerful way to promote positivity is to ignore negativity. This de-energises it. You simply don’t feed it. Now some things can only be proved by contradiction. This is a fact of mathematics. Sometimes, you need to start with a negative in order, through the negation of the negation, to arrive at a positive. However a large part of mathematics can be proved purely through positive construction. Here is the question, why does negativity attract more energy than positivity? Why does the Western press rely on negative stories to generate profit? Because it is seeking power. Only a press dedicated to the people (and not the bureaucracy either for that matter) can provide us with the balance of negative and positive news that we need.

  • Ben, you don’t “see” the crime in Mexico either but you know it’s there because you read about it. You don’t read about it in Cuba because the Castros don’t let the press report it. It’s still not as bad as many places in Latin America but it is worse than you seem to think.

  • My dear I live in NYC. And you are probably one of those ppl that see what you want to see I was born in Cuba in one of the most dangerous neighborhood (Atares) and I would love to see you walking in there at 10 pm . This video is not about you and your fellow Canadians walking freely in the streets of Havana. This is about a man taking the power of the ppl and repressing any voice that would dare to dessert, and the press and repress the citizens. And you go there and get intoxicated with a few mojitos and some ppl tried to hustle you (BeingNice). You’re too naive or the winter is definitely too long in Canada. Have a nice life.

  • In Cuba, the government which also controls the economy , controls the media.
    In the United Snakes, the wealthy capitalists who own/control the government also control the media.
    It is the nature of those in power to become totalitarian in order to maintain control .
    It is a basic anarchist belief that has proven true in both countries. and in most countries .
    It must be remembered that any media outlet reliant upon advertising for the bulk of its income -as are ALL commercial stations – must always consider the audience appeal of its content and must tailor the facts to make them more palatable : to keep the rabble in line.
    IMO, must reading on this topic is ” Manufacturing Consent”: Chomsky and Herman also ” Necessary Illusions : Chomsky for those who can’t read enough about this subject
    ; .

  • In what part of Cuba is Caracas now located ?
    I did not read of its move from South America in Granma .
    So you’re correct ; they don’t give us the bad news.
    All those poor people uprooted like that by the cruel King Fidel Castro and their entire city hauled off to an island .

  • Mexico might be a free country but I don’t feel safe down there. I have been to Cuba a few times and I feel much safer there. I have wandered around downtown Havana without any problem. I don’t feel the oppressive state in Cuba as you suggest. Over a million of us Canadians go to Cuba as tourists each year and I am sure that if any of us had some of the problems with mugging, abductions and robbery as is the case with Mexico which is often reported in our news media that the same would also be the case with Cuba if such an event was experienced by anyone of our citizens.
    On the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, a city in Honduras is shown as the most dangerous. Caracas, is second. New Orleans, Baltimore, St. Louis and Detroit are also on the list. But then again, as you say,if you live in any one of these cities you live in a free country.

  • Despite the sarcastic tone of your comment, what you wrote is true. Cubans have a saying “if you want to know where to find papas, read Granma”. According to the Castros national newspaper, food is plentiful, there is no crime, and everything that is wrong is because of the embargo. Fidel, when questioned why there’s never any bad news, makes the excuse “why give the enemy ammunition?”. Cuba has a higher murder rate than the US. Suicide and sexual assault rates are higher as well. Tourists, when reporting personal crimes in Havana, must make their reports in a separate police station apart from Cubans. If a Cuban and a foreigner are victims of the same crime at the same time, they must go to separate police stations to file reports. Street crime overall is low in Cuba when compared to the rest of Latin America. But there is absolutely significant crime in Cuba. Have you noticed all the bars on the windows and doors? What is also not reported is that crime is getting worse.

  • Mexico is a free country and Cuba is state police nation ( monarchy Castros Kindom) were everything is controlled by the the forces segurida del Estado G2. You hear everything that happened in Mexico or Brazil but not in Cuba because the press is controlled by the repressive forces of the King Castro. Oh do you know the most dangerous city in Latino America is Caracas right now?

  • This explains why you never hear of tourists being abducted and killed in Cuba like you do in Mexico. You’d think that of the three and one half million tourists that go to Cuba each year from all over the world that there would be a few here and there. Also , never a word in the Cuban papers about the drug cartels running amuck around Cuba like in Mexico and the US. Also the gun violence in Cuba never seems to get reported. The epidemic of heroin addiction. The Mexican and US papers always faithfully report about the 33,000 killed each year by gun violence in their countries. And here I thought it was because these things just don’t happen in Cuba. .

  • His comments are common sense. It’s a fool that believes that anything reported by the Cuban press is anything but pre-approved pro-Castro propaganda. Even the weather reports are filtered.

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