Before I was born, Cuba had a complicated history, or those "gobiernos de quita y pon" that Marisela Verena sings about in "Son de cuatro decadas".
Despite these political problems, the island enjoyed a lot of economic prosperity and Cubans learned to live their lives around the frequent political crisis.
According to Cuba 1952-1959, this is what happened that fateful day of March 10, 1952:
"Fulgencio Batista leads a group of disaffected military officers and a handful of political activists to overthrow President Carlos Prío Socarrás [1948-1952] in a bloodless coup.
The coup plotters encountered almost no resistance, exploiting public revulsion against a government that had lost public respect and confidence being widely regarded as corrupt and incompetent, and incapable of dealing with increasing civil unrest and violent crime.
Batista had been involved in the overthrow of Gerardo Machado’s dictatorship in 1933, and by 1934 had become a power and king maker in Cuban politics.
Over 1938-1939, realizing that he had to compromise with strong civic opposition, Batista supported return to constitutional rule and drafting of the Constitution of 1940.
Batista was then elected president for the term of 1940-1944. Honoring constitutional term-limits and his candidate’s electoral defeat in 1944 to Ramón Grau, Batista moved to Florida.
He returned to Cuban politics and was elected senator in 1948, and in 1952 ran as a presidential candidate.
The polls before the election indicated he was running a distant third behind the Auténtico and the Ortodoxocandidates.
Batista’s 1952 coup provoked immediate and strong political opposition.
The opposition had two major wings: revolutionaries who saw violent overthrow of Batista as the solution; and electoralists/constitutionalists who sought to remove Batista through political means.
The Batista government was swiftly recognized by most free world countries, including the US on 27 Mar 1952."
The tragedy of "el 10 de Marzo" is that it stopped Cuba's constitutional march since 1940. It also made a lot of young Cubans very cynical about the institutions of government.
I won't defend the incompetence or corruption of the Prío Socarrás govenrment but he was elected and should have been allowed to complete his term.
My parents do not remember this day very fondly! My guess is that most Cubans of their generation don't either!
By Regina Coyula in Translating Cuba:
Like anyplace else, a successful business has many ingredients. Here many have failed because they engaged in activities they knew nothing about. But others prosper, become very visible, and then fall under the evil gaze of those who would give up an eye if they could see a neighbor get screwed over.
A quiet street of Nuevo Vedado had frequently become jammed with people, all wanting to buy at La Fontanella, a bakery that began modestly but then put up an eye-catching lighted sign. What began as a business in part of a house became exclusively a factory and sales outlet, with rotating shifts, open to the public from nine in the morning until nine at night.
Such prosperity drew attention and/or aggravation, and Monday dawned this week to find the business closed. The commentaries are various: stolen flour; workers walking off; problems with the ownership of the old family home, now converted into a bakery. The truth is that La Fontanella had become a troublesome twig on that bonsai which Minister Murillo, and the updating of the economic model, had designed to be kept well pruned.
Translated by Tomás A.
They just continue recycling the same old...
Via Voice of America:
Voters in El Salvador, Columbia Choose President, Lawmakers
Voters in El Salvador are choosing a new president Sunday, with pre-election polls favoring a former Marxist guerrilla in the runoff poll.
A victory by Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the FMLN, would make him the first guerrilla commander to hold the presidency since a truce ended a devastating 13-year civil war in 1992.
Recent polling showed Ceren holding a 10 to 18-point lead over San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano of the right-wing National Republican Alliance, known as ARENA.
Elsewhere, Colombians are choosing a new congress in a vote seen as a referendum on peace talks with leftist guerrillas and a likely bellwether for presidential elections in May.
Nearly 2,500 candidates are competing for a total of 268 seats in Colombia's lower house and senate.
Sunday's election is expected to consolidate President Jose Manuel Santos as the front-runner for a second straight term in the upcoming presidential poll.
A win would allow his government to continue talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, which have dominated national political life since they opened in late 2012 in Havana, Cuba.
Both sides have agreed to allow the rebels to take part in national politics once the insurgency ends.
The FARC has been fighting for five decades against the Colombian government. It partly finances the insurgency through drug trafficking and frequent kidnappings of foreigners and Colombian officials.
Yes, we have no bananas
Rationing card to be introduced in Caracastan
If you are wondering where protests about shortages in Venezuela will lead (see post below)... you need not speculate any further.
Nicolas Maduro is following the Castro playbook to the letter, literally, responding to complaints about shortages with the implementation of strict rationing.
And what has he chosen to call his rationing card? Yeah... si...carajo, por supuesto: Tarjeta de Abastecimiento.
He could have called it something else, of course, but the Castronoid Ministry of Truth is very doctrinaire when it comes to its abuse of language.
It's not about rationing, it's about supply.
Cuban "Libreta de Abastecimiento"
Given that oil-rich Venenozuela has deeper pockets than Castrogonia ever had and can afford to spend more on its repressive measures, Maduro is introducing an electronic card rather than a paper booklet. But the net result will be the same: total control of the economy and of the populace.
The Venenozuelan rationing plan differs from Castrogonia's in one respect: the official rationale provided by the Oligarchs.
While Fidel and Raul have been able to blame the "blockade" for their fifty-four years of chronic shortages and rationing, Maduro has to find some other villains to blame: hoarders, speculators, and black-market dealers.
According to Maduro, the shortages in his nation are NOT caused by his economic policies, but rather by evil Venezuelans who buy up goods in bulk to resell at higher prices. The rationing card, he claims, will prevent shortages and give everyone equal access to goods.
Large items such as dwellings, vehicles, and appliances will be part of the rationing system and distributed at random, by a lottery.
“We are going to create a superior system," claims Maduro. "We are going to technify and organize it to the utmost, so that our economy can't be subverted by hoarders, speculators, and black marketeers who buy up all the merchandise at Mercal and Pdval [leading supermarket chains] and cause problems for Venezuelan families [by selling those goods at smaller stores for three times more]." (Vamos a crear un sistema superior, vamos a tecnificarlos, a organizarlo aún más para que no se aprovechen de nuestro sistema los acaparadores, especuladores y bachaqueros que se van a Mercal a Pdval y se llevan completa la tienda y cuando llega la familia venezolana tenemos problemas.)
Ask any Cuban. Ask any survivor of the former Soviet empire. Rationing in communist states is caused by central planning, and the very nature of a state-run economy. And it is never about fairness or equality. Its ultimate end and true purpose is control of people's lives, down to the smallest detail. The oligarchs will always get more than everyone else, and corruption and cheating become as inevitable as the long lines that form at every store when some rationed item arrives.
21st century socialism on display in Venenozuela
A la cola! When you have to spend most of your life waiting in line for scraps, just to survive slightly above starvation levels, it becomes a million times harder to protest against corruption and repression.
You won't find this piece of news in any English-language publication or web site. But you can read about this development at ABC Spain, HERE, in Castellano
In case you were wondering, this is but another gleaming example of the wondrous and magnificent "reforms" of Cuba's repressive apartheid dictatorship.
Luis Felipe Rojas in Martí News:
Activist's husband put on trial for yelling “Down with Fidel!”
The crime: “Contempt to the figure of the Commander in Chief,” included in the Cuban penal code
Lady in White Mekis Faure Hechavarría protested in the centric street Monte, in Havana. She ended up temporarily arrested and her husband Alcibiades Guerra Marín was sentenced to a year in prison as a result of the protest.
“The crime is ‘contempt to the figure of the Commander in Chief,’ included in the Cuban penal code,” said independent reporter Magalis Norvis to Martinoticias. Norvis works for the agency Hablemos Press.
Norvis published a report about the protest and arrest of Faure Hechavarría, whose act from February 27 was video recorded and uploaded on YouTube.
The activist, 35, disrupted traffic from a popular street from Havana, walking around with a banner and yelling phrases such as, “Down with CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso)! Down with Mariela Castro and her family! Long live human rights! Down with the dictatorship from the Castro brothers! No more abuse to the business owners! Down with hunger! Down with unemployment!"
Faure Hechavarría was arrested by police and when her husband Alcibiades Guerra Marín came to her defense, he was also arrested.
“When he saw that she was being violently arrested, as is natural, he reacted and started to yell phrases like ‘Down with Fidel!’ so he was arrested along with her. Right now, he is in Valle Grande Prison,” said Norvis.
“She was alone, demanding a government halt of violations, a stop to repressions, and respect for the private ownership sector,” said the reporter. Norvis said Faure Hechavarría sells candy in the streets and lives with her five children “underneath a stairway.”
“He was sentenced to a year in prison for yelling ‘Down with Fidel,’ said Magalis Norvis.
The reporter said Guerra Marín went on trial behind closed doors. “No one knew about it,” Norvis said. “On the 28 (of February), he was tried and sentenced to a year without freedom for contempt of the Commander in Chief.” Norvis added that she was able to talk to him from prison on the next day.
Melkis Faure Hechavarría has been arrested on multiple times due to public protests she makes demanding for respect of human rights in Cuba.
"Things we do look awful cold...
Hope I die before I get old..."
“Expropriating U.S. holdings, Cuba was able to halt a capital drain in the form of remitted profits.” (William M. LeoGrande, Dean of School of Public Affairs American University, “Cuban Dependency: A Comparison of Pre-Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary International Economic Relations.” 1979.)
Got it? Apparently allowing U.S. corporations to do business in Cuba was very, very bad for Cuba. Even though Cuba enjoyed a higher-standard of living than half of Europe at the time, and enjoyed a flood of immigrants from same. So Castro set things straight by stealing, at Soviet gunpoint, all the Cuba-based subsidiaries of these evil, exploiting, Cuba-impoverishing U.S. corporations.
Best we can gather remittances between the U.S. and Cuba were also very, very bad.
Nowadays, however, Cuba "experts" devote much of their time and energy to promoting the entry of U.S. corporation into Cuba on any terms and to defending the flow of remittances between the U.S. and Cuba.
"Today, the larger problem is the climate of fear in the (U.S.)government bureaucracy, where even honest reporting about Cuba -- let alone advocating a more sensible policy (by which Leogrande means allowing U.S. corporations back into Cuba--but on Castro's terms, i.e. without any of the labor legislation, etc. enjoyed by Cuban workers enjoyed in the 40, 50's) can endanger one's career." (William Leogrande, Foreign Policy mag.)
Got it? According to Dean Leogrande simply advocating an end to the Cuban embargo is a Beltway career killer. You have probably noticed all the pro-embargo reporting within that same Beltway. You have probably noticed how the sanctions are NEVER derided as "counterproductive" or "archaic" or "failed." You have probably noticed all the career-suicides as a result of being quoted--as an "expert" or a lawmaker--in the articles, policy-papers, symposiums, lectures, etc. in which the "embargo" is derided as "counterproductive," "archaic"...blah...blah.
In brief, nowadays Leogrande's lust to get U.S. corporations back into Cuba is such that he makes statements (and "respectable" publications publish them) characterized by such insanity that no tinfoil hatter would dare utter them in public, for fear of instant and universal derision.
It's simply wonderful to see an evolution from those archaic, counterproductive, cold-war attitudes stubbornly held by most Cuba "experts" until barely a decade ago. And it's highly amusing to see this "generational shift" take place withing the same person.
No Cubanization of a country by Cuba's communist dictatorship would be complete without food shortages and Venezuela is learning that first hand. Like in Cuba, it does not necessarily mean there is a shortage of food of Venezuela. Instead, it is a clear sign that the Castro-Communists who are running Venezuela are accomplishing their goal of pillaging that country's economy and plunging the nation into the dark abyss of despair and fear. Despondent and fearful people are much easier to control and enslave than those who are hopeful and courageous.
Via The Guardian:
Venezuela divisions deepen as protest over food shortages is halted
National Guardsmen prevent ‘empty pots’ march from reaching food ministry as Maduro government denounces US
Hundreds of National Guardsmen in riot gear and armoured vehicles prevented an “empty pots march” from reaching Venezuela’s food ministry on Saturday to protest against chronic food shortages.
President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government, meanwhile, celebrated an Organisation of American States (OAS) declaration supporting its efforts to bring a solution to the country’s worst political violence in years, calling it a diplomatic victory. The United States, Canada and Panama were the only nations to oppose the declaration.
“The meddling minority against Venezuela in the OAS, Panama, Canada and the US, is defeated in a historic decision that respects our sovereignty,” government spokeswoman Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.
Later on Saturday, several hundred student protesters trying to block streets with barricades skirmished with riot police who fired tear gas in the wealthy Caracas district of Chacao, in what has become a near daily ritual.
There were no immediate reports of injuries as motorcycle-mounted riot police, taunted from apartment buildings, chased protesters through darkening streets.
Earlier, more than 5,000 protesters banged pots, blew horns and whistles and carried banners in the capital to decry crippling inflation and shortages of basics including flour, milk and toilet paper. Similar protests were held in at least five other cities.
All over Venezuela, people spend hours every week queuing at supermarkets, often before dawn, without even knowing what may arrive.
“There’s nothing to buy. You can only buy what the government lets enter the country because everything is imported. There’s no beef. There’s no chicken,” said Zoraida Carrillo, a 50-year-old marcher in Caracas.
The capital’s government-allied mayor had refused the marchers a permit to hold the “empty pots” rally, leading opposition leader Henrique Capriles to accuse authorities of trying to “criminalise” peaceful protests.
“Nicolas [Maduro] is afraid of the empty pots of our people. He mobilises hundreds of soldiers against empty pots,” he said of the man who defeated him by a razor-thin margin in April presidential elections.
Capriles also reiterated opposition complaints that the government is sending “functionaries and groups of paramilitaries which they have armed to put down protests”.
Continue reading HERE.
Here is a Tweet of a massive line to buy food (translation by Fausta's Blog):
This in NOT a demonstration, this is a line to buy food in Venezuela. The result of 15 years of Chavismo.
Thousands upon thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets again yesterday to protest the tyranny and repression of the puppet dictatorship installed in their country by Cuba's apartheid Castro regime.
Once again, Marc Masferrer has another Storify compilation of Twitter photos from yesterday's protests in Venezuela:
See more pictures HERE.
And for those who are victims of the mainstream news agencies' media blackout of the turmoil in Venezuela, here is a video that will help you get a better idea of what is really going on there:
It apparently takes time to open the gates of hell wide enough to be able to fit a heinous and murderous monster like Fidel Castro.
Via The Miami Herald:
Aftershock from January earthquake rattles parts of Cuba, Florida Keys Sunday
An earthquake felt Sunday morning in Cuba and parts of the Florida Keys was actually an aftershock from a 5.0-magnitude earthquake that rattled the region two months ago, according to the National Earthquake Information Center.
The 4.7-magnitude earthquake that struck about 17 miles north of Corralillo, Cuba at 7:26 a.m. Sunday, was the fourth aftershock from the Jan. 9 event.
“It is not unusual to have aftershocks,” said Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with National Earthquake Information Center. “When they are this closely located and appear to be at the same depth they are considered aftershocks.”
The other three aftershocks were not as strong on the Richter scale and only one on Feb. 4 produced reports in Cuba of light shaking, Pursley said.
Sunday morning’s aftershock, which was not strong enough to cause damage, was felt in Corralillo, Cuba and the lower to middle Keys.
“There was a handful of phone calls,” said Monroe County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Becky Herrin. “It was a really small earthquake.”
Continue reading HERE.
Oliver Stone's recent visit to Venezuela to premiere his Castro/Chavez infomercial "My Friend Hugo" has brought him under fire in social media. Exasperated beyond endurance by the onslaught Stone recently lashed back with (apparently) the most hateful insult his inflamed mind could conjure. You people are:
"..similar to the right-wing Florida Cuban exiles who’ve helped keep the US in a dungeon of ignorance." (!!!)
An appendix to the six part series, "Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins," written exclusively for Babalú by Cuban American engineer, Humberto (Bert) Corzo (The series: Part 1, Part 2, Part , Part 4 , Part 5, Part 6):
Hiroshima vs. Habana: Appendix to “Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins”
By Humberto (Bert) Corzo
The video photo montage shows the city of Hiroshima after the atomic blast obliterated the city and 65 years later; and through images compare it to the city of La Habana, which nowadays resemble Hiroshima after the atomic blast. It teaches us that in the long run the consequences of the Castroit tyrannical regime are more devastating than the weapons of mass destruction.
Hiroshima after the atomic blast August 6, 1945.
Hiroshima ruins were made by the atomic bomb attack during the Second World War. Practically every building within one mile of ground zero was destroyed, and only 10% of the buildings survived without any damage. Three months later the occupation government adopted a “war disaster reconstruction plan” for rebuilding cities devastated by the war. Hiroshima’s citizens living in the ruins were sheltered in community housing by using warehouses located in neighboring towns. Over the next two years the city received extra aid from the government to help its recovery.
Night time view of Havana Skyline in the 1950s
The city of La Habana, in its actual location, was founded in 1519 in Puerto de Carenas (Careening Harbor), the actual Havana Harbor. During a period of 440 years the city evolved from a village to a large city, becoming a blend of the old and new architecture, from defensive castles built in the 16th century, to modern high rises of the 20th century.
Map of Havana, 1691
The map shows the straight street grid and rectangular blocks of intramural Havana, showing the demarcation of parishes. Drawn by Engineer Juan de Siscara, Archivo General de Indias (AGI), Santo Domingo. In 1592 Havana was granted the title of a city and in 1607 became the capital of the island.
The Renaissance architectural heritage is represented by fortresses like Morrow Castle and Castillo de la Real Fuerza, and around 150 buildings from the colonial period in Mudéjar style with central courtyard and glazed tiles, dating from the 16th and 17th century.
Morro Castle at the entrance of Havana Bay
The construction of the Morro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro) started in 1558 and finished in 1589. It was designed by the Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli and served as defense against pirate attack and naval invasions. This magnificent fortress look as it has been sculptured from the rocky promontory. With its lighthouse it is one of the great symbols of the city.
The introduction in the 18th century of the traditional Baroque style, represented by the Cathedral of Havana, Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, Church and Convent of San Francisco de Asís, and the Santo Domingo Convent among others, and the domestic baroque architecture of municipal buildings which included window grills, stained glass and arches walkways that provide shelter from the sun and rain.
Continue reading Babalú Exclusive – Hiroshima vs. Habana: an appendix to ‘Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins’
By Lilianne Ruiz in Translating Cuba:
The Dictatorship’s Annoying Writer
Writer Angel Santiesteban in prison — photo Luz Escobar courtesy of Lilianne Ruiz
HAVANA, Cuba. This past February 28, Reporters without Borders issued a statement attaching the second Open Letter from Angel Santiesteban to General-President of Cuba, Raul Castro, on exactly the day that the writer finished a year in jail. Santiesteban published the first letter, addressed to the same leader, on his blog a few days before being taken to jail for a crime of which he declares he is innocent.
The place where he is currently held is a military settlement in Lawton, Havana, with the appearance of a housing construction company. It houses 19 prisoners. His companions have committed crimes of theft, drug trafficking and murder. They are required to stay in a regimen of forced labor. We went there to visit him, a group of friends and this reporter, who could obtain his statements.
Previously he was in La Lima, a prison establishment located in Guanabacoa, and afterwards in the prison known as the “1580,” situated in San Miguel del Padron.
The writer’s people skills guarantee respectful relationships with the inmates. While they are going to work at the ironworks or carpenter’s shop, he stays writing all day. But this he has gotten by force of protest.
Compared with the other jails where he has been, the place is less severe:
“The only explanation that I give you for the fact that they have brought me here is that I publish complaints. Within the jails there are beatings constantly on the part of the authorities. In the ’1580’ I made 70 complaints in four and half months,” explains the writer who receives us in the penal enclosure.
This is the second time he has been a prisoner. The first was when he was 17 years of age. He spent nine months awaiting trial in the La Cabana jail. He had gone to the coast to say goodbye to a part of his family that was leaving Cuba clandestinely. They were caught, and all were taken to jail. From the memories of those nine months, which for him were interminable, came the book that won him the Casa de las Americas Prize in 2006: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn.
He has lost a lot of weight. He accepts no food except that supplied by his family. He came to have a diet as strict as milk with cookies at mid-day and a soup of dehydrated substances, made with boiling water, at the end of the afternoon.
Twice, in the “1580? prison during a hunger strike, he was shackled at his feet and hands. Then the jailers took him by the throat opening his mouth to make him swallow some foul liquid.
He is about to finish a novel:
“It will be an homage to Cirilo Villaverde, for his Cecilia Valdes,” he comments. But he has another in the editing stage of the detective genre in order to entertain, which breaks with his usual style:
“I wanted to have fun,” he explains.
He has also written a book of stories about prison.
“I wanted to tell how riots occur. I condensed the stories that prisoners have told me.”
He was able to get the manuscripts out of jail, and now the texts are saved on a computer. In the “1580? he began writing at eight in the morning and only stopped when the guards turned off the light at ten at night.
“I wrote as if I were going to die. In spite of everything, this is going to be a time that I am going to miss for the rest of my life.”
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: The Dictatorship’s Annoying Writer
You will never guess who screened and hailed Stone's Castro infomercial "Looking For Fidel" promptly upon its release in 2004...Yes Julia Sweig made sure the screening was at the Council on Foreign Relations..where she could add her expert plaudits to the blatant propaganda film...plaudits from Marifeli Perez-Stable also.
The new film won plaudits from two scholars at the screening, including Marifeli Perez-Stable, a professor at Florida International University, who called it a "historical document of enormous importance."
"When I asked Fidel why he let me return to make this film, he replied: "because I trust you."(Oliver Stone.)
Here at Babalu we don't need to elaborate on what it implies to gain Fidel Castro's trust. We simply point out that Stone makes no foolish and "academic" attempt to hide his fondness for the Cuban dictator or his services in his favor. And yet people who hail these blatant and admitted propaganda services on Castro's behalf are proudly associated with such as The Cuba Study Group, where both Sweig and Perez-Stable appear prominently as--yes!--"experts."