Information Surprises

The unrestricted access to news information, brought me some surprises.  The first of them is that the digital Granma* is a light version of the printed one, and when I entered the site for Granma Internacional, it was as if they were talking about another country.

The second surprise was that the Palestinians also kill Israelis–I had only read in the press of my country about the massacres the Jews carry out against the Arabs–in the same way that I had discovered that the governments of Libya and Syria murder and repress their citizens.

I also was surprised with the assessment that the 15-M protests in Spain could have ended with a bombing of NATO, because the truth is that all that was more calm and organized within its spontaneous nature, although my family was very worried about me being in an unstable country and in a violent situation, according to what the national media was reporting.

But what surprised me most was knowing the life in one of the most happy countries in the world after China and North Korea!, a statistic elaborated by… North Korea, in which the United States is in last place.  If I had not seen it in El País, I would have thought that it was about a joke from Granma. 

Translated by: BW

*Granma is the daily official newspaper of the Cuban government

June 16 2011

Welcome!

It was a little more than a week ago that I was in our little life of every day, it had been like riding a time machine and stepping down in the wrong place.  Many times I have spoken about my little basement.  Well, I found it with unmistakable odor of Cuban public bathrooms, because I can testify that the public bathrooms in Spain smell of disinfectant or air freshener; but so that I don’t change the subject, I found my house flooded with sewage (in Spanish literally “black waters”), that beautiful euphemism for such an ugly thing.  Havana Water, the company that deals with those problems was our first option.  A very kind employee took down our information and informed us that the inspector would arrive within the next 72 hours.  It was many hours later when the inside of the house was like a sewer, but at moment, I could hear a woman with two little kids hurling threats about the health of her children, because her situation lasted a week and hadn’t been resolved.

About 48 hours later the inspector appeared, very understanding and knowledgeable about the secrets of the plumbing of sewage.  His opinion was that as the flow was coming from the under the sidewalk, Havana Waters was not responsible for my case.  Now for that moment, courtesy of a friend, we hired an experienced plumber that came with 3 more and opened a tight hole in the part under the driveway parallel to my dining room, a hole where only a head of young person working inside it could be seen. The things were dirtied with the blocking and unblocking, they opened the broken tubing with a modern tubing that they had brought (purchased in some hardware store?), they connected the empty tank, refilled the new hole, that then could flood the house with clean water to disinfect it.  This service didn’t appear in the Yellow Pages, and nevertheless, is essential, 60 Cuban Convertible Pesos plus lunch; nothing compared to the work those men did and the peace of mind of having the house clean.

Translated by: BW

June 13 2011

Shared Island

I don’t get tired of marveling at how the Internet makes people with common interests come together.  Seeing the map of the visitors, the happiness of a map all dotted in red like the common measles, examining the map gives me a rare thrill.  I think about the pain in the diaspora of my country, of the dozens and even hundreds of miles of those emigrants who put up with the distance and they connect with Cuba through the island’s bloggers; as is logical, the great majority of the “hits” come from the U.S.; but in countries like New Zealand, Zimbabwe, some little islands, almost atolls in the Pacific, I see a red point and I say to myself: that is a Cuban, a Cuban who at best had very bad experiences before getting away from Cuba, a Cuban that found a job and a decent life; and nevertheless continues having the bug for Cuba deep within.  There are those who skip and applaud when the Cubans win in the Olympic games or the Baseball Classic; and some will tell me about the manipulation in the sport and about our false amateurs, but I am not referring to that, I’m referring to the fact that in spite of knowing that, it is not possible to avoid happiness, because Cuba, distant friends, is much more than the mere propoganda, and many have adopted a new citizenship, grateful to the country that took them in, but from the 4 corners of the world they keep an eye (with spirit and help) on what happens here.  To all of you, thank you very much, not for reading me, but for not cutting that Ariadne’s thread that will bring you back to us.

Translated by: BW

News

Let me tell you something about the content of Noticias Estelar (Star News) on TV Thurs, Feb 18.  The news stories are in the order in which they were given.

A commemorative plaque was granted to Fidel and Raul for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Aquarium.

The Bolivian President Evo Morales called to dignify the justice system.

Strong rains in Bolivia.  In spite of that, the Cuban doctors continue their humanitarian work (the news isn’t the rain, it’s the doctors).

The United Nations Commission for Climate Change denounced the failure of the summit in Copenhagen and the position of the ALBA countries to reject the accord.

A pilot left a suicide note on the Internet and smashed his plane into an office building in Texas.  Sports.  The national baseball series and departure of a Cuban cyclist.

Cuban doctors and graduates of ELAM helped Haiti strengthen the health conditions of its country. 1,439 Cuban doctors continue their work despite a large part of the international medical help already having left Haiti.

The nutritional product factory of Majagua, Ciego de Avila, one of the most productive factories in the territory reports that the processing of 2500 hundred-weights of tomatoes for pasta and puré is at risk because of the drought.

Weather Report

Cuban doctors studied people with disabilities in the Equatorial Amazon.

Cancun received a group from Rio.  They project a new regional block without Canada and the United States.  They are looking for consensus on climate change, narco-trafficking and other issues.  The new group will be participants with other regional blocks and countries.  At the moment of its creation, the economic crisis, climate and paradigms converged (?).  Honduras was not invited.

Culture: The Book Fair: Presentation of the book Encuentro con la verdad (Meeting With the Truth) by Commander of the Revolution Guillermo García with preface by Raúl Castro. Victoria de los caidos (Victory of the Fallen) by  Delio Gómez Ochoa about the 1959 anti-Trujillista expedition.  Retamar presented Poesía nuevamente reunida (Poetry Newly Reunited).  Exposition Playback by Artists from the AHS (Association of Saiz Brothers) reviewing posters of socialist realism in their original versions (Soviet).

Report about the 50th anniversary of the Aquarium.  Not to missed archive image of Fidel visiting the Aquarium.

So finalizing the Star broadcast.

(A rarity: Hugo Chavez and Venezuela weren’t mentioned.)

Translated by BW

Reading My Readers

I can’t read the reader’s comments on-line during the infrequent occasions  I have been able to log on to the Internet because the connection is slow and expensive.  I copy the comments and I dedicate myself to reading them later.  In general, they are encouraging and you have no idea how much I appreciate them, how much they stimulate me.  But other comments make me feel like I am in a personal limbo.

Twenty years ago, I turned in my resignation from the Ministry of the Interior, and though continuing to be a member of the PCC (Communist Party of Cuba), I refused to take part in the Rapid Response Brigade. I left the Party 18 years ago in spite of many people counseling me that I couldn’t do it because I was an activist in a neighborhood center and my neighbors would “point the finger at me.”

My way of thinking didn’t change overnight while I slept, nor in a fit of illumination; many times I felt like I was betraying everything I had believed in.  I respect everybody who saw everything clearly from the beginning, like I respect the common citizenry who sincerely support the government.

Ten years ago  my neighbors pegged me as one of those “about Human Rights,” a generic name in Cuba for someone who maintains a posture overtly anti-government.  And nevertheless… nevertheless, some commentators hark back to my past and based on what they learned from my profile and from some post, they demonize me and even talk about the danger I represent to the other bloggers. Others use bad words and disrespectful phrases.  I don’t consider moderating the blog comments; if I want democracy, I will leave both the comments that I like and those I don’t like, though do remember: they are posted under pseudonyms and from outside Cuba where it is very easy to give your opinion.  We welcome this opportunity to exchange ideas, not insults.

Translated by BW