Another Bastion / Regina Coyula

For speaking so much about peace, being at an economic crossroads, and having announced moderation in the use of resources, the government spared nothing on its Bastion 2013 strategic exercise, and the entire country came out to prepare against an illusionary enemy. That is, if we believe what we read in the media; my son experienced it a different way.

A call was made by the University during the normal class schedule, and attendance was guaranteed since not attending amounted to an unexcused absence. Male students in Economy, Finance, Cybernetics, Tourism, and Geography were gathered in the university stadium. Noisy and disorganized, the students gathered in the center of the field into something vaguely resembling formation. In front, a stranger in civilian clothes, tried to bring them to order; for their part, the professors spread among the students tried to do the same.

Before the general disorder with microphone in hand, the stranger in front shouted in a booming voice “Attention!” Failure. Mockery broke out among the students and the man with the microphone had to resort to conciliatory patriotism without much success. However, he did manage a general laugh after haranguing them with his diatribe when he put “At ease!” students who had never been in any other position. Troublemakers in the group yelled at him to shut up and there was spontaneous applause for problems with the sound.

The only moment of silence came during the hymn; an even bigger silence if you keep in mind that the students weren’t singing; a silence broken only by a cell phone that rang twice. Later, a girl read the requisite communication from a Lieutenant Colonel who spoke of compromise, country, the enemy, and such things. The activity ended with the students moving to the theatre of the School of Psychology to see the movie Caravana, Kangamba, or some other bellicose audiovisual presentation. Failure. With attendance now taken, most students found better things to do.

A television camera witnessed what happened at the University stadium: perhaps with good editing of the material, something has come out of these days of victorious exercise to guarantee “our military invulnerability”.

 Translated by: M. Ouellette

25 November 2013

Glosses

Since I was in the hospital waiting for my mother to undergo a small surgery (as you see, I keep going with hospitals), I had time to read the entire Granma newspaper from Friday, the thickest of the week with its 16 pages.

Page 1

The person in charge of a business is the director.

Ergo, the person in charge of a ministry is its Minister; the person in charge of an institute is its Director; the person in charge of a country is its President.

Pastors for Peace cross the US border with Mexico.

Defying the US blockade for the 23rd time. Either these pastors are really defiant or the blockade is weak!

Page 2

Contract violations impact the direct sale of agricultural products to tourist outlets.

More than 30 million CUC enter the Ministry of Agriculture for these sales, but they later clarify that of 181 production centers that have signed contracts with hotels, only 45 occur in a regular way. 136 are in breach of contract?!

Summer Festival in Jibacoa.

If I am not wrong, this is Rotilla in disguise. [See also.]

Page 3

The North American occupation fed the most spurious racist sentiments and the official press did not hide its complicit stance. (From the speech made by Miguel Barnet on the 100th anniversary of the massacre of the Independientes de Color.)

I do not doubt it, but said today, where in the US a black man has arrived at the Presidency thanks to the fight for civil rights, this sounds as if one simply has to speak badly of the Americans. And anyway, what was the official press of the time?

Page 4

The BCC’s report to Parliament

In the payment system between businesses, they note that balances due and accounts receivable have decreased; it talks about contractual disrespect, but not about the offender’s punishment. Plastic money continues to wait in line and there will be no increase in ATMs.

Challenges of Higher Education.

… conducting ideological political work creatively and with marked intention, to guarantee the formation of highly competent professionals, who are engaged in society and revolutionary principles.

I seem to have heard the same so many times before!

Page 5

Resources and responsibility to prevent water loss

It is already known that an amount of water is lost equal to what the largest reservoir in the country can store. If 16% is lost in pipes, and 20% in the aqueduct, and 22% in homes, I get 60%. Does the State waste the remaining 40%? Now is when they speak about strategy? This is not serious, although I imagine that the people in Santiago are not laughing at this news.

These pages about the meeting of the National Assembly leave me with the feeling that this government has just reached power, having inherited serious problems.

Page 6

The white mulberry, an animal feed option.

Nothing against the white mulberry, but as Lezama would say: this report smells like Oporto.

Page 7 (international)

Ben Alí condemned to life in prison.

Probably the most newsworthy item in the entire newspaper, lost in the small section Direct Feed.

Small spokespeople.

The article criticizes the manipulation of child spokespeople on behalf of the Syrian opposition.

…they are using the natural innocence of a child to win supporters and play with people’s sensibility… It seems that their parents are not worried about sending them to demonstrations… Simply, they end their childhood for their own benefit, cutting their innocence short.

And where was the journalist during the Elián González case? I am not only speaking about Elián, but about the many children that we see haranguing like adults on the Mesa Redonda (Roundtable TV show) and in “anti-imperialistic tribunes.”

Page 8 (international)

About the US elections: informative; I wish they would speak with this breadth about domestic politics.

Obama launches a plan to “control the internet” in case of emergency.

Wow! This piece, taken from Rebelión, reports that the Americans could wind up with Internet like mine? False alarm: after reading the piece, the title is sensationalist.

Pages 10 and 11 (letters to the Editor)

It is too exhausting to try to write about these two pages. I was already tired when I got here. Likewise for the rest, up to page 15, where culture and sports are. I would have changed the great title We Knock Out Japan, referring to the Harlem baseball tournament, for another more modest one in view of the Cuban team’s bad start. On the 16th and final page, I am informed obliquely, knowing the inside world of a saltworks in Guantanamo, why salt in Cuba continues to be rationed.

How good I am for reading the entire Granma, and how good you are for reading this.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

July 23 2012

Broken Windows

Fragmento aparecido en Granma

Text of Article:

Dario Delgado Cura
Attorney General of the Republic

Reflecting on the phenomenon of corruption in Cuba is not just an academic exercise, but also an important and unavoidable responsibility, given the proved consequences on the moral, economic and social order it generates, and considering that it is a phenomenon produced in any society. It has particular relevance to us at this time, as we are immersed in the update of the Cuban economic model with the objective of guaranteeing the continuity and irreversibility of socialism.

Corruption is not a Cuban problem, nor is it a consequence of socialism. To those who accuse us, we can assure them, that if the conditions to prevent it and effectively face it exist in a social system, that system is Socialism, because it is a system in which culture and general education are pillars and it teaches its men and women the value of shame, dignity, decorum and the principles, and to its leaders austerity, sacrifice and respect for the people.

Some time ago, a friend forwarded me a text referring to an experiment at Stanford University. Two identical cars were left in very different urban quarters. The car in the poor neighborhood was vandalized in less than a week while the car in the rich neighborhood remained intact. The experiment then went further: they broke a window on the untouched car. Very quickly this car ran the same fate as the other.

It is the sad truth that this experiment in social psychology was not known by the Attorney General of the Republic as was demonstrated in his participation in the recently concluded international meeting on corruption that took place in Havana. Although fragments were published in the national news, this participation was destined for a foreign audience, without a doubt ignorant of the state of national corruption.

Corruption was a thing of governments predating the revolution in 1959. But now the Attorney General clarifies to me that no, it is an inherent phenomenon in any society, and that we are at an advantage with respect to other societies in combating it. From a sidelong glance, one can blame the Embargo. I don’t see the advantage in a country where the elite enjoy great privileges without paying for them. I don’t see the advantage in a country where an individual can embezzle millions, many individuals have been turned into embezzlers of no importance, and citizens receive stolen goods daily. It is economic bleeding and a political failure.

In Cuba there are many broken windows.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

November 14 2011