support babalú

Your donations help fund
our continued operation

do you babalú?

what they’re saying






recommended reading

babalú features

recent comments

  • Ziva Sahl: The uniforms remind of my high school marching band uniforms back in the day. Students picked one from the collection that was...

  • asombra: Gee, I wonder what those red stains on Nosferatu’s hand could be. Take a guess. Somehow, Lady Macbeth comes to mind:...

  • asombra: Those guard costumes, er, uniforms keep getting tackier, but the hats are a hoot. Of course, they have to be RED. Heaven forbid...

  • asombra: Now, now; I expect he likes guava pastelitos, or is ready to claim he does, which of course makes him OK. Seriously, if Reno was...

  • Humberto Fontova: Welcome to the Twilight Zone, Rosita Paya. 07/welcome-to-the-twilight-...

search babalu

babalú archives

frequent topics

elsewhere on the net


Cuba’s War on Wi-Fi

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Cuba's War on Wi-Fi

Meanwhile, some in the U.S. propose strengthening ETECSA's monopoly and modernizing its infrastructure.

Apparently, they don't understand that ETECSA is the source of the Castro regime's censorship, not the solution.

Thus, the U.S. should continue finding ways to help the Cuban people get around this censorship, not contributing to its perpetrators.

By Cuban blogger Yusnaby Perez in Cubanet:

War Against Wi-Fi

For various weeks now, throughout Cuba, but particularly in Havana, there have been widespread home searches and confiscation of equipment with Wi-Fi technology. ETECSA, the state telecommunications monopoly, arrives at homes, enters and confiscates wireless routers and signal receptors/antennas. The reason for this is that, in the last few years, there has been a rise in Havana and in other municipalities of clandestine networks that virtually connect thousands of Cubans.

Click here (in Spanish) for details.

Release the Kraken!: Chinese dictator shadows Putin across Latrine America


Never let it be said that China's dictator Xi Jinping is a slacker.

He's going everywhere Czar Vladimir Putin went last week, tracing his footsteps, stirring the pot of self-destructive Latrine idiocy and anti-Americanism.

Xi is now in Castrogonia, probably striking a deal for Chinese spying facilities to rival those just re-activated by Czar Vladimir Putin.

And -- not to be outdone by Czar Vladimir -- Xi is also forgiving Castrogonia's colossal debt.  It's being called a "rescheduling" rather than a "forgiving" of debt, but that makes little difference.  Anyone who has dealt with the Castro dynasty knows all too well that they love "rescheduling" because they have their own concept of "mañana" and  no intention of paying what they owe, not now, not ever.

In the meantime, as Xi prepares to meet with the King Emeritus Fidel and the King De Facto Raul of Castrogonia, steel yourself for all forthcoming photographs from this fabulous Soirée of the Titans.

Release the Kraken!

Estoy listo pa' bailar, Xi, Xi, Xi, chinito mio, aaaasiiii, aaaasiii, aaaaasiiiii !!!!!!

Estoy listo pa' bailar, Xi, Xi, Xi, chinito mio, aaaasiiii, aaaasiii, aaaaasiiiii !!!!!!

From The Gulf Times (Persian Gulf, not Gulf of Mexico):

Xi seeks economic ties withVenezuela, Cuba

  Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two-day visit to Cuba yesterday evening, stirring hopes on the island that China will finally invest in the country after a number of important deals never materialised.

Xi is to meet with President Raul Castro today and then fly to Santiago de Cuba to see plans to improve port facilities and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Cuba’s second city almost two years ago.

Xi was in Brazil last week for a summit of the Brics nations, which also includes Russia, India and South Africa. He then travelled to Argentina and Venezuela, signing a raft of multi-billion dollar credit and investment agreements, before stopping in Cuba on his way home.

Communist-run China and Cuba are close political allies. Generous trade credits have made China the island’s largest creditor and second biggest trade partner after Venezuela at $1.4bn last year.

China has rescheduled Cuba’s government and commercial debt, believed to top $6bn. But large investment agreements for the nickel industry, signed in 2000, another in hotels, and a deal to expand an oil refinery agreed five years ago, have not materialised. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived on Sunday in Venezuela, the third leg of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region and sealing energy deals.

The Chinese leader’s charm offensive, which has already taken him to Brazil and Argentina and will next bring him to Cuba, seeks to secure new bilateral trade deals, particularly for coveted raw materials.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greeted Xi as he landed at the Maiquetia airport that serves Caracas, with dozens of dancers and musicians performing traditional musical pieces.

Continue reading HERE.

Babalú Exclusive
Sen. Marco Rubio: Remembering Oswaldo and Harold

A guest post from Sen. Marco Rubio paying tribute to the memory of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero:
Remembering Oswaldo and Harold

By Marco Rubio

Two years ago the Castro regime murdered Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. These two men had devoted their lives to bringing freedom and democracy to Cuba, only to be fatally run off the road as they drove on a Cuban highway - a plot orchestrated by the regime which they attempted to cover up.

We have seen too many instances like this of regime aggression and murder that goes unpunished. At every turn, foreign governments and international bodies like the OAS and UN have been stymied in their attempts to investigate this crime.

The U.S. government and the international community must continue pushing for the Cuban regime to allow an impartial, third party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo and Harold.

Since a Spanish citizen was with them and survived the car crash, it is incumbent on the Spanish government to hold the Cuban regime accountable for endangering one of their citizens and for their subsequent attempts to silence him as a witness.

Today we remember Oswaldo and Harold for their courageous efforts and extraordinary lives. We stand in solidarity with their loved ones - particularly Oswaldo's daughter, Rosa Maria, who last year visited the Senate asking for assistance seeking justice. We need to make sure that not only is justice served but that we not allow Oswaldo's and Harold's sacrifices to have been in vain by enabling the regime's grip in power.

To this end, the U.S. must continue to pursue policies that promote respect for the fundamental principles of religious freedom, democracy, and human rights in Cuba, in a manner consistent with the aspirations of the people of Cuba.

In memory and honor of two martyrs for Cuba’s freedom: Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

***In honor of the second anniversary of the brutal murder of these two fallen Cuban heroes, this post will remain on top all day. Please scroll down for newer posts.***

Two years ago today, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were ruthlessly murdered by the Castro dictatorship for their tireless struggle to end tyranny and bring freedom to the people of Cuba. The merciless and bloody regime of the Castro brothers were certain they could kill their opponents with impunity and their deaths would deal a blow to the growing democracy movement on the island.  While the world has indeed once again turned a blind eye to yet another atrocity committed by Cuba's criminal dictatorship, these two fallen heroes continue to haunt the regime with their memory and the inspiration they have provided for Cubans both on the island and in exile.

Read more about Oswaldo and Harold:

Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement: May their light within us never extinguish

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter: Oswaldo Payá, Harold Cepero, and the arc of the moral universe

Dispatch from the desk of despair

What, me worry?  I am untouchable.  I am Castro, Mr. Obama.

What, me worry? I am untouchable. As I told you in South Africa, at Mandela's funeral, Mr. Obama: "I AM Castro." my epaulets clearly indicate, I am also a five-star general!

Calls for investigation of the murder of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero still fall on deaf ears two years after event

A Washington Post editorial has just called attention to the extrajudicial execution of two Cuban pacifist dissidents.

Will this editorial change the course of history?

Dream on: it's reassuring to see the editors of the Washington Post call attention to this atrocity two years after the event, but they might as well shout "turn around!" at an oncoming category five hurricane, or curse at gravity.

As long as the Castro dynasty remains on the throne in their kingdom of Castrogonia, this murder will be officially deemed an "accident," and no one will be able to conduct a proper investigation.

This is how it is with thugs who hold the world by the short nether hairs.

Look at what is happening with the search for answers in the unspeakably horrific downing of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.  Good luck with that one, too.

Good luck ten years down the line, or twenty, or thirty, or a thousand, or a million.

Consider what happened in the case of the Christmastime 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103, an incident best known as the Lockerbie Bombing.  Though there was abundant evidence that tied Libyan dictator and Castro friend Muammar Gaddafi to the crime, the Western powers eventually cozied up to him and allowed him to get away with murder.


 To add salt to the wound,  as an arms deal with Gaddafi proved too irresistible, Scotland freed the man who orchestrated the crime on "compassionate" grounds.  He went back to Libya and was given a hero's welcome.

That's just one straw in the giant haystack of injustices known as human history.

Lesson of the day: pray for justice, but don't expect it in this world.  The fact that Gaddafi was eventually murdered by his own people cannot count as real justice, even though his captors sodomized him with a broomstick before shooting him in the head.

This is why the concept of Hell can be so comforting.   Yes, comforting.

Oye, mira que a esta escoria de Bablu le encanta jodernos.  La verdad es que no me caen muy bien...

Carajo, mira que a esta escoria de Bablu le encanta jodernos. La verdad es que no me caen muy bien... y encima de todo, ahora este profesor loco de mierda esta hablando del infierno...que incomodo me pone...Oye, Raul, cambiame la bolsa! (Damn, those scumbags at Babalu love to give us a hard time.  The truth is, I don't like them very much...and now, on top of it all, this goddamned crazy professor is bringing up the subject of's all making me uncomfortable..Hey, Raul, time to change my colostomy bag!)

From The Washington Post

Oswaldo Payá’s death in Cuba two years ago still awaits a proper investigation.

By Editorial Board July 21 at 6:40 PM

TWO YEARS ago Tuesday, a blue rental car was wrecked off a deserted road in eastern Cuba. In the back seat was Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents, who had championed the idea of a democratic referendum on the nation’s future. Mr. Payá’s voice was not the loudest against the Castro dictatorship, but it was one of the most committed and determined. On the day of the car crash, he had been trying for more than a decade to bring about a peaceful revolution, one that would empower Cubans to decide their own fate and end the half-century of misrule by Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Mr. Payá endured harassment and intimidation for his efforts. Many of his friends and allies were jailed. He received threats by phone and other warnings, some violent. But he did not give up. On the day of the crash, Mr. Payá was traveling with a young associate, Harold Cepero, across the island to meet with supporters of the Christian Liberation Movement. In the front of the rental car was a visitor from Spain, Ángel Carromero, a leader of the youth wing of that country’s ruling party, and one from Sweden.

The car spun out of control after being rammed from behind by a vehicle bearing state license plates, according to Mr. Carromero. While he and the associate from Sweden survived, Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero were killed. Mr. Carromero says he was then coerced to confess and subjected to a rigged trial in order to cover up what really happened. Mr. Carromero’s videotaped “confession,” broadcast on television, was forced upon him; he was told to read from cards written by the state security officers. He was sentenced to four years in prison for vehicular homicide and later released to return to Spain to serve out his term.

Since then, there has been no serious, credible investigation of the deaths. Cuba has brushed aside all demands for an international probe that would reveal the truth. Mr. Payá held dual Cuban and Spanish citizenship, but Spain has been shamefully uninterested in getting to the bottom of the story. The truth matters — to show the Castro brothers that they cannot snuff out a voice of freedom with such absolute impunity.
The car that allegedly crashed head-on, causing the "accidental" deaths of Paya and Cepero

The car that allegedly crashed into a tree, head-on, causing the "accidental" deaths of Paya and Cepero

Thor Halvorssen Hellum 1943 – 2014

Thor Halvorssen Hellum, Latin American democracy and freedom fighter, died on July 20, 2014 at age 71 due to a head injury received from a fall in his North Miami home.

We join our friend Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, Founder of Human Rights Foundation, in mourning the passing of his father. Our sincere condolences to all the Halvorssen family. His passing is a great loss to all those who love freedom and democracy. May he rest in peace.

Thor Halvorssen 1943 - 2014

Thor Halvorssen 1943 - 2014

Read about more about the life of this Venezuelan freedom fighter (in Spanish) at El Blog de Montaner.

The same old Cuba

The Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Same old Cuba

Are those who would normalize U.S. relations with Cuba intelligent enough to decode the signal being sent by an agreement to reopen a Russian “signals intelligence” base there?

Cuban dictator Raul Castro and Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly struck the deal in Havana this month (though Mr. Putin later denied it). Russia supposedly gets to reopen the electronic spying post; Cuba gets off the hook for about 90 percent of its Soviet-era debt to Russia — about $32 billion, according to The New York Times.

Ironically, debt played a role in Mr. Putin's closure of the base in 2001 — because Congress linked its abandonment with restructuring of Russian foreign debt. Technological updates to the listening post in Lourdes, outside Havana and about 150 miles from Florida, could bolster its former capabilities.

At its height, says The Times, Lourdes monitored the U.S. Navy, the U.S. space program and “microwave transmissions of telephone conversations in the southeastern United States” while facilitating communications with Russian spies in America. Heading Cuba's armed forces in 1993, Mr. Castro claimed Lourdes then produced 75 percent of Russia's strategic intelligence on the U.S.

Questions abound over what's left of the old Lourdes facility and to what extent it can or will be constituted, given Russia's struggling economic situation. Thus, whether this spate of power projection is real or faux remains difficult to discern. But the signal for Castro apologists should be that the more things appear to change in Cuba, the more they stay the same.

Reports from Cuba: Farewell, Adolfo Suarez

By Rosa Maria Rodriguez in Translating Cuba:

Farewell, Adolfo Suarez

Adolfo Suarez, Spanish lawyer Catholic politician, finally extends his hand in a physical goodbye. From now on we will resort to memory, photos and audiovisuals to see him greet us with his amiable gesture of unwavering gallantry in the fight for democracy in his country. History records him as the architect of the Spanish transition. For me, he is the foundation and the pillar itself of the magnificent bringing in of democracy and the entire process of political development that happened after the death of Francisco Franco.

As a public man and a decent statesman he worked for the reconciliation of Spaniards, to eradicate the vestiges of dictatorship in Spain, and to help lift his country, not to bring it to its knees it as dictators and their partisans in uniform usually do.

The warm smile of this kind man – a leader without rancor who didn’t hide behind the knife of vengeance, but offered the embrace of reconciliation – earned him the love and respect of the entire world. He starred in the development of a democratic monarchy and gave lessons in respect for the institutions and laws which with the transfer of power have been maintained from 1976 until today.

We Cubans, who suffer from 55 years of a dictatorship that defeated another one of seven years to remain in power and ruin Cuba, value the moral stature of politicians who serve their countries and their societies, rather than those who use a pedestal, as José Martí said, to rise above them.

I remember during my childhood how the Cuban dictator criticized the caudillo of El Ferrol for his years in power and, with the passing of time, he himself broke the record for the most years in power in Cuba.

Democratic societies are mourning today for the eternal loss of this citizen and politician who showed the world that intentions are demonstrated with acts not with words. May this illustrious son of Spain, an exemplary example of a democracy, rest in peace.

July 22nd in Miami: Memorial services on the 2nd anniversary of the murders of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Second Anniversary

This Tuesday, July 22nd at 6:45 pm
At the Varela salon of the Ermita de la Caridad
A premier of the documentary:
"Two years without Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas"
and the audiovisual presentation: "Harold Cepero"

A mass will be held in commemoration of their lives at 8 pm

Death as a measure of all things Cuban

By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in Diario de Cuba (my translation):
Death as a measure of all things Cuban

We are a nation that lacks good sense, but we are also lucky. Providence has given us an idol that corresponds to our destiny.

Politics in Cuba is the business of death. Without death we Cubans will not give politicians any credit. Moreover, we thumb our noses at those who are not sufficiently tyrannical.

As is the case in every invented nation, action is what is important in Cuba. We applaud the caudillos who can control and provoke events to happen. We boo the Cuban who says we have to think things out before attempting them. To theorize is to waste time, and it cedes hard-fought ground, something that is always in short supply on an island. Our enemy is occasionally our neighbor, and as such, must be defeated; preferably executed without much evidence. We are a country without good sense.

Nonetheless, we are also a lucky people. Providence gave us an idol that corresponds with our destiny. Fidel Castro is the ultimate incarnation of the Cuban people’s sluttish will. An “F” that is not as terrible as a funeral. A “C” that is not as criminal as Cuban. Throughout our long and macabre history of independence and revolutions, this messiah of death has been long awaited. To deny Fidel is to deny the Cuban people and their idiopathic idiocy. In this murderous synonymy, our nation has desired to commit suicide long before the fundamentalism of its formation.

Far away from our geography, we appear to be regular people. But inside Cuba, in that isolation with impunity that is the entire island, Cubans demonstrate to each other who we really are without any effort to hide it. We do so amongst our very own with unfathomable sadism. And with a lack of mercy proportional to our misery, which is a byproduct of communism but which did not exclusively come from that catastrophe.

The violence of the new revolutionary era is now obvious: second-generation Castroism, the dynastic delirium that will unashamedly and ingloriously be imposed upon our nation thanks to the fact that the majority of the people are exhausted and we are fine with any idiocy (always and only if it is an idiocy and not an idea). Furthermore, exile is technically over. What is left there are those – us – with current or expired Cuban passports, like orphaned rag dolls even orphaned from imagination. A place where no one ever thought of re-launching a new country without a country (a post-socialist Zionism) because of the eternal demagoguery of a redeeming return to a free Cuba that caused us to lose time. And lose ground.

As free Cubans, we were forced to always live biographies without life, a purely broody résumé of our exceptional sterile accomplishments. A balkanized cruelty found in our very hearts lacking a sense of community, completely incommunicado.

Today finally, there is more Castroism outside the island than within. The time has come for this obscene osmosis: academics and criminals, intellectuality and intelligentsia, the stateless and the apparatchiks, the religious and the oppressors, millionaires and militants, all mixed together, all of them a wretched bunch at the margins of ideology but not of the market.

However, as a people we once again have luck in this expansive alliance for our late transition from dictatorship to dictatoracracy: the political price will perhaps be the few cadavers that will interfere with the faith we have in our fossilized future. And that is a logical step. Without those minimal martyrs, without those few deaths, without that selective genocide carried out by State capitalism, the Cubans would not give any credit to our post-politicians.

For now, the neo-Castros have demonstrated their ability to be just as criminal. But an error would be irreversible since at this stage of the game, they do not have any other options available in this unscrupulous spiral. The Cuban who does not kill on time will sooner rather than later be killed by another Cuban who has a higher level of adaptive valor. This is Darwinism in action. Seriously.

Russia Rejoins Cuba’s Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

Jerry Brewer in Mexidata:
Russia Rejoins Cuba's Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

In order to effectively monitor aggression, hostile intelligence acts, interference, and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments' counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats.

Russia’s recent decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.

The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.

Lourdes served as a signals' intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100 miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern Bloc technicians, engineers and intelligence operatives.”

In 2000, it was reported that China signed an agreement with the Cuban government to share use of the facility for its own intelligence agency.

Despite pro-Cuba chants for economic aid and the lifting of the 50 year old Cuban Embargo, placed via President John F. Kennedy's Proclamation 3447, there appears to be no shortage of funding by Cuba for that nation's energetic spy apparatchik.

The original U.S. manifesto regarding Cuba, in 1962, expressed the necessity for the embargo until such time that Cuba would demonstrate respect for human rights and liberty. And today, there certainly cannot be much of an argument that the continuing Castro regime has ever complied with any aspect of that mandate. In fact, Castro's revolution has arrogantly continued to force horrific sacrifices on Cubans in their homeland, as well as suffering by those that fled the murderous regime over the decades and left families behind.

Neither of the Castro brothers has ever, even remotely, disguised their venomous hatred for the U.S., democracy, or the U.S. way of life – even prior to the embargo. Their anti-U.S. rhetoric continues, along with Russia and Venezuela, and they continue to extol radical leftist and communist governments throughout the world.

The Russian parliament recently pardoned 90% of Cuba’s US$38.5 billion debt dating back to the now defunct Soviet Union.

Last week a senior Russian official, explaining the revived interest of Moscow to monitor communications from Washington, said, “Our relations (with the U.S.) deteriorated considerably well before the crisis in the Ukraine. In reality, they never really improved, except for some specific periods which have been the exception to the rule.”

The U.S. and others, especially in Latin America, must not underestimate Cuba's vast intelligence and espionage services. Their security and intelligence networks are on a scale perceived to be "many times larger than that of the United States." And even with Cuba's poverty, depressed economic situation and weak prognosis for future windfalls, their clandestine operational acts continue and extend throughout the Americas and the world.

The Cuban espionage budget is not generally known outside of most major competent intelligence services globally. However, much of their modus operandi is – essentially that of the DI (Dirección de Inteligencia), which never had to be reinvented. That is other than changing the moniker, from the former DGI (Dirección General de Inteligencia), with its original training by the former Soviet KGB.

Continue reading HERE.

AP continues its questionable and highly unethical coverage of Cuba and the apartheid Castro dictatorship

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

The AP's Apparent Disdain for Dissidents

In announcing its new Havana bureau chief this week, the AP wrote in its release:

"AP continues to deploy top-notch journalists to tell the story of Cuba's people, culture and government with accuracy, fairness and insight."

One can't help but chuckle.

Many words can be used to describe the AP's reporting in Havana, but "fairness" and "accuracy" don't immediately come to mind.

In a nation where its continued presence is based on a constant fear of expulsion (and thus -- self-censorship), its insulting to claim "fairness" and "accuracy." The AP's Havana bureau even has a full-time Cuban "journalist" on its staff, who everyone knows (whether diplomats, dissidents or other foreign journalists) is a shill of the Castro regime.

But back to the point.

Earlier this year, the AP was scandalized by U.S. efforts to create an alternative social media site ("Zunzuneo") that would allow Cubans to inter-connect independent of the Castro regime.

The "scandal" here is that the Castro regime strictly censors the Internet. Thus, the U.S. should apparently respect the Castro regime's censorship efforts.

Today, the AP's "big story" is that the U.S. supports human rights and democratic opposition NGOs in Venezuela. 

The "scandal" here is that the Chavez-Maduro government bans any support of NGOs. Only the Castro regime is allowed to provide "support" in Venezuela. Thus, the U.S. should respect the authoritarian whims of the Chavez-Maduro regimes.

Can't wait for the AP's next "big story" -- will it condemn U.S. support for the Ukrainian people and NGOs, or maybe anti-Assad Syrians?

This week, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the following observation in The Daily Show:

"What I found when I became secretary of state is that so many people in the world—especially young people—they had no memory of the United States liberating Europe and Asia, beating the Nazis, fighting the Cold War and winning, that was just ancient history. They didn’t know the sacrifices that we had made and the values that motivated us to do it. We have not been telling our story very well. We do have a great story. We are not perfect by any means, but we have a great story about human freedom, human rights, human opportunity, and let’s get back to telling it, to ourselves first and foremost, and believing it about ourselves and then taking that around the world. That’s what we should be standing for."

She's absolutely right.

The AP could use a reminder as well.

Reports from Cuba: Offering fish at your door? Be careful!

By Rosa Lopez in 14yMedio (translation by Translating Cuba):

Offering Fish At Your Door? Be Careful!

Tending their nets (14ymedio)

Many Cubans opt for the informal market instead the high prices of the products in hard currency stores. Who among us has not bought cheese, ketchup or milk in illegal trading networks? However, when we acquire something in secret and do not know the seller, the chances of being scammed or buying spoiled merchandise multiply. The greatest danger, however, is to buy a product that damages our health, hence it is important to be careful with certain foods.

Every Cuban adult has some experience to tell about a fish sold as red snapper and it was actually tench, Claria or barracuda. With the fish slickly packaged and displayed furtively, the trader assures us that it is ” good, white with few bones.” Later, in the pan or dish, frustrated, we discovered the deception.

Some customers claim to have a good contact to buy seafood that so far has not failed them. Lucky them! By contrast, the vast majority is supplied by an illegal and unstable market whose providers change frequently. The fish markets under state management offer little variety and high prices, not to mention the long lines that sometimes form in front of their doors.

It is easy to think that living on an island we can have our tables filled with seafood, oysters, sardines and other sea delicacies. Nothing is further from reality. In Cuba it it easier to find turkey hash “made in USA”, than a good marlin steak or grouper head soup.

The restrictions imposed on both private fishing and the sale of fish push us to the black market when looking for a good product. The species may have been caught in oxidation ponds belonging to factories or industries, and could introduce chemicals into our bodies that bring negative short and medium term effects.

On the island there are many reservoirs and coastal areas that contaminated by discharges from industries and settlements. Fish that live in those stretched should not be used for human consumption. An example is Havana Bay, whose waters are polluted by oil, sewage and other waste discharges.

Another threat is ciguatera, a food poisoning that is endemic in the tropics caused by eating infected fish. The fish afflicted with this disease cannot be identified by smell, taste or color.

If a stranger knocks at your door offering a tempting fish filet or steak, be careful. It may not be what they say, or in the worst case, it could damage your health.

Russia puts Cuba’s Castro dictatorship on life support… again

Jardim in El Nuevo Herald:

Love is stronger than hate: Oswaldo’s and Harold’s nonviolent legacy in Cuba

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Oswaldo's and Harold's Nonviolent Legacy in Cuba: Demonstrating Love is Stronger than Hate
“The people will follow me in life, worship me in death but not make my cause their cause.” - Mohandas Gandhi, taken from Gandhi's poignant legacy

Marking two years since Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were physically taken from their families, friends and country presents an opportunity to reflect on their lives and the nonviolent example that they leave behind and the cause for which they gave their lives. Oswaldo's widow, Ofelia Acevedo on what would have been the Cuban opposition leader's 61st birthday addressed this legacy in an essay titled Fellowship of Truth:

"Oswaldo and Harold are no longer physically with us, and I remember now those words Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero prophetically uttered one day, knowing he was threatened with death: I will resurrect in the people. The same will happen here sooner rather than later. They and others who generously have lost their lives in this struggle for rights and democracy for Cuba, will be resurrected in her people. But his message of love is alive."

This nonviolent legacy continues on in Cuba and offers a hopeful vision of the future. Oswaldo outlined it in a 1990 Christmas Message from the Christian Liberation Movement:

"The rifles will be buried face down, the words of hatred will vanish in the heart without reaching the lips, we'll go out into the street and all of us will see in the other a brother, let us look to the future with the peace of he that knows that he forgave and he that has been forgiven. Let there be no blood to clean or dead to bury, the shadow of fear and of catastrophe will give way to the reconciliatory light, and Cuba will be reborn in every heart, in a miracle of love made by God and us."

In January of 2014 following a brief interview Oswado's widow, Ofelia Acevedo pulled out a copy of this message and read it to me demonstrating its continued relevance to the Payá family. Both Oswaldo and Harold understood the risks and sacrifices in undertaking this struggle. Harold Cepero summed it up in concrete terms in 2012, the same year he was killed: 

"Christians and non-Christians who have the courage and the freedom to consider the peaceful political option for their lives, know they are exposing themselves to slightly less than absolute solitude, to work exclusion, to persecution, to prison or death."

Presently in Cuba there are dueling legacies that run throughout Cuban history one is profoundly violent and embodied in the current political system and another one which is nonviolent and is a deep current that runs through the culture but not nearly as high profile. The nonviolent legacy that Harold and Oswaldo shared revolves around two key ideas:

• We are not against other people, only what they are doing.
• Means are ends in the making; nothing good can finally result from violence.

Continue reading HERE.