Propaganda works because people want it

There is no person more blind than the one who does not want to see…

Daniel Lattier via FEE:

Why Does Propaganda Work? Some People Want It

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There’s a principle in hypnotism that goes like this: A person cannot be hypnotized against his will. He must be a willing subject. He must be fully cooperative.

So it goes with propaganda. For propaganda to be effective, it requires submissive subjects. As Professor Nicholas O’Shaughnessy wrote, propaganda is a “co-production in which we are willing participants.”

Propaganda is typically defined as the dissemination of particularly biased information in support of a political or ideological cause. In his 1965 book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, philosopher Jacques Ellul provided us with some of the basic characteristics of propaganda: it thwarts dialogue, it is geared toward the masses, it utilizes various media, it is continuous, it is not intended to make one think.

Disable the Brain

If these are the characteristics of propaganda, then it is no exaggeration to say that we are surrounded by it today. Most news organizations have become partisan shills and propagandists. They provide viewers with a steady stream of videos, audio clips, images, and articles—most lacking nuance and of dubious intellectual merit—that serve the intended purpose of promoting an ideology while fueling disdain for the “opposition”. And they have become very successful doing it.

The reason they are successful, I fear, is that most people today want to be propagandized—though they would never admit it. Most people want to be given ideological marching orders and talking points from an authority. Most people have zero interest, and see little value, in engaging with arguments put forward by those who hold differing positions, unless it’s to ridicule them. Most people want to simply choose the news media organizations that best fit with their selected ideological camps and immerse themselves in their informational streams.

This realization is unfortunate, but not really surprising. Over the past few hundred years we’ve had a massive democratization of public discourse and higher education in the West. A continually larger percentage of the population has gone to school for longer and longer periods of time, and has been given the impression that, as a result of this education, they are enlightened “critical thinkers” whose opinions have as much value as the next person’s.

Yet, at the same time, we must confront the question raised by Dorothy Sayers in her famous 1947 essay “The Lost Tools of Learning”:

“Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined?”

The fact is, though everyone goes through the education system today, most are not provided with the building blocks of thought. Most are no longer taught logic. Most are not shown how to engage in rational debate.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: The drought in Cuba doesn’t let up

Marcelo Hernandez in Translating Cuba:

Drought in Cuba Doesn’t Let Up

Many Cubans have become accustomed to relying on water tankers for their water.
Many Cubans have become accustomed to relying on water tankers for their water.

14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 19 September 2016 — A sign announces the sale of an apartment in Havana and stresses, in capital letters, that the “water never runs out” in the area. Not far away, another sign alerts neighbors of a multifamily building: “Starting today, the water-pump will only operate for one hour.” In the last three years, Cubans have lived with drought and water shortages, and forecasts suggest that the situation will not change in the coming months.

According to a recent report released by the engineer Abel Salas García of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), 48 of the country’s sources of supply are completely dry. Another 200 show partial affects, which means that more than 790,000 people receive water right now on a different cycle than what they were used to, and more than 50,000 receive their supply through tanker trucks.

To talk about the cycle “they were used to” alludes to the fact that in many places citizens have become accustomed, as a normal situation, to water only flowing to their homes every other day, or sometimes only three times week.

The areas with the highest cumulative rainfall between January and August were Artemisa, Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Havana. At the other extreme, the least favored regions are Santiago de Cuba, Ciego de Ávila, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos.

In the specific case of Ciego de Avila, as detailed in the INRH report, of the 14 groundwater basins in that largely agricultural province, six are in critical condition.

In January, the reservoirs were filled to around 53% of their volume and, although up to August rains were close to the historical average in the three regions (eastern, central and west), at the end of August this rate was only 52%. In absolute terms, the country had 653 million cubic fewer meters of stored water than is usual for August.

According to experts, rainfall in the Cuban archipelago has been decreasing by around 1.6 inches annually, which they attribute to climate change and other environmental factors caused by the hand of man.

A lack of water caused by erratic rainfall is exacerbated in Cuba by wasteful leaks in the pipes, in over-wide pipes that bring more water to leak out, and in unstoppable domestic drips caused by lack of maintenance in homes where, given the high price of faucets and plumbing supplies, people find it cheaper to let the water flow uncontrolled than to fix the plumbing.

Dismantling the myth of Cuba’s socialist success

Vanesa Vallejo in PanAm Post:

Dismantling Cuba’s Socialist Success Myth

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Every time I talk with defenders of the Cuban Revolution, they end up saying something like, “at least, children in Cuba do not starve, like in Colombia.”

Well, slaves did not starve either. The masters were actually interested in keeping them alive so they could continue working.

Nevertheless, is there anyone who wants to live their entire life as a slave?

The Cuban Revolution was undoubtedly one of the most important events of the 20th century in Latin America, especially given what it meant for socialism and progressive ideas, as it encouraged a vigorous wave of revolutionary projects that took place in almost all countries in the region, from Argentina to Mexico.

Fidel and his bearded men in Sierra Maestra inspired a whole generation of young people, who were willing to put their lives in risk if needed, only to follow the socialist path.

Almost 60 years later, the results of the Castro dictatorship are appalling. Millions of Cubans have been forced to flee the island. Thousands have died defending their political ideas, while many others have spent decades in prison, or have been persecuted and harassed by Castro’s security services.

In the economics, the picture is no less devastating. The destruction of private property and free trade have had no other effect than to tear down the country’s productivity. And the few areas that look prosperous, such as tourism, only serve to ensure, using foreign currencies, the continuity of the regime’s coercive apparatus.

Castro’s followers insist that the terrible results Cubans face are compensated by an alleged welfare state that guarantees all kinds of social benefits to its citizens. In addition, they say Cuba is a true socialist utopia that, despite the opposition of the “empire,” serves as an example for the rest of Latin America.

To support their opinion, they mention its health and education systems, and even the achievements of its athletes. The blame also falls on the “embargo,” with accusations that the United States prevented the paradise island from being even more idyllic.

One of the challenges of dismantling the myths of “Fidel’s paradise” is the absence of reliable statistics. There is no independent validation for the extraordinary coverage and quality indicators of health on the island, which progressives often use for propaganda.

It would be very naive to believe that in a country where there is no free press, and where people cannot express themselves against the government without going to jail, a serious audit of the figures of the health system are allowed.

Continue reading HERE.

Photos of the day: Welcome to Venenozuela, young ones!

Aaaah… the utopian joys of Bolivarian Castronoid socialism.

Newborn babies in cardboard boxes.

If this is life at birth in such a place, imagine what wonders lie ahead for these human beings.

Call it Venezuela, or Cubazuela, or Venenozuela, or Caracastan, it makes no difference.

This Castro colony is quickly becoming Hell on earth.

But at least they haven’t run out of cardboard boxes yet.

Read all about it HERE in Spanish (ABC Spain) or a longer story in English HERE (Fox Lateeeeen-oh).

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King Raul’s newest subjects

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Carlos and George

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“He’s up in years.” Donald Rumsfeld, asked on MSNBC about George H.W. Bush voting for Clinton.

“They’ve done a head transplant on him, or he wants to become U.S. Ambassador to Communist Cuba, or he thinks he can reap big profit margins by trading with the Castro regime.” Jorge E. Ponce reacts to former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Bush 43 saying that he will vote for Clinton.

Thanks to Obama’s Cuba policy, Maduro officially becomes dictator of Venezuela

Obama supporters who think his policy of abandoning Cuban dissidents and embracing Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship was pure genius will scoff at the premise that the president had anything to do with the total collapse of what little democracy remained in Venezuela. Then again, these are the same people who think that propping up Havana’s brutally repressive, murderous, and corrupt apartheid regime is a good thing for Cubans.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

As Predicted, Venezuela’s Maduro Officially Becomes a Dictator

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Another tragic consequence of Obama’s new Cuba policy was the green-light sent to Castro’s allies in the region that there would be no consequences for subverting democracy.

To the contrary, they would be rewarded with normal diplomatic relations, unilateral concessions, fêted at Summits, and benefit from a business marketing campaign directed from The White House.

This week, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro subverted the recall referendum process outlined in the Constitution and, thus, guaranteed that his Cuban-controlled regime will remain in power through at least 2018.

Just weeks after Obama announced his new Cuba policy, we predicted this would happen.

As published by The Huffington Post on January 11, 2015:

Obama Gives Cuba a Hemispheric Coup

by Mauricio Claver-Carone

The recent political witch-hunt against famed Venezuelan opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado reinforces growing concerns that democratic institutions are under concerted attack in the Western Hemisphere.

“Justice is on its knees in Venezuela with sentences being dictated from Miraflores or Havana,” Machado says, summing up the political alliance between Cuba and Venezuela’s governments that drive her country’s politics. She stands accused of conspiring to kill Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has already been imprisoned.

Through its cohorts and directly, Cuba has been pounding democratic institutions not only in Venezuela, but also Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Democracy’s advocates in the region are too shortsighted, beleaguered or intimidated to fight back aggressively. In fact, they invited Cuba to participate in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama, despite the fact that Cuba’s Castro dictatorship openly scorns the “democracy clause” that reserves Summit membership and participation to the region’s democratic governments. Thirty-four of the 35 nations comprising the Western Hemisphere adopted that clause during the Quebec Summit. Cuba was then and still is the Hemisphere’s last remaining totalitarian state; it also has a long history of “exporting revolution” into democratic states.

The Obama Administration initially stated its opposition to Cuba being invited to the Summit. However, in a turn-around announcement on December 17, it chose to “lead from behind” and acquiesce to the whims of those hemispheric leaders all-too-eager and willing to suspend the “democracy clause.” Not only has President Obama now accepted Cuba’s participation, but he will also be there to personally welcome dictator Raul Castro.

However, those who lobbied Obama to attend the Summit regardless of the violation of the “democracy clause” weren’t to be satisfied with his attendance alone. They also wanted the President to arrive with a gift bag for Cuba that includes a further lifting of U.S. sanctions. That, they argued, will ensure a warm reception for Obama from “troubled” Latin American leaders. And naturally, Castro would be thrilled.

Continue reading HERE.

So Raul Castro is now dictating our aviation rules?

(My new American Thinker post)

Let’s add another chapter to the one-sided U.S.-Cuba deal.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has just sent a letter to President Obama demanding a few answers to some rather troubling questions:

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator, Dr. Huban Gowadia, confirmed that there are currently no federal air marshals on commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

This admission contradicts earlier claims by your administration that the federal air marshal agreement was finalized and they would be on commercial flights.

Simply put, your administration has been caught in a bold-faced lie that has put American lives at risk.

Who decided that U.S. flights to Cuba would not have carry air marshals?

So why are there any flights? Shouldn’t we tell passengers to Cuba that these flights do not carry an air marshal? Why was this hidden from U.S. citizens flying to the island on the assumption that the aircraft is operating under normal aviation rules? All of this comes after we heard that the U.S. has not vetted Cuban airport workers and security procedures.

Frankly, the whole thing is embarrassing and further evidence that the Obama administration is either totally incompetent or determined to do a deal with Cuba at any cost.

Let’s hope that this topic comes up in the first Clinton-Trump debate.

Mr. Trump is signalling a shift by saying this:

We are also going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression.

The President’s one-sided deal for Cuba benefits only the Castro regime. But all of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next President can reverse them — and that is what I will do, unless the Castro regime meets our demands. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people.

Let Mrs. Clinton defend the Cuba deal, or at least explain to U.S. voters what she thinks of flights without air marshals or not U.S. vetting of safety procedures at Cuba’s airports. She should also comment on the embargo.

In 2012, Governor Romney lost Florida by 30,000 votes out of 8 million. President Obama never said to Cuban-Americans that he was negotiating to restore relations with the Castro regime. Instead, he took a hard line.

Let’s hear from Mrs. Clinton today now that we know a few things about this U.S.-Cuba deal that were never disclosed in the rush to put an embassy in Havana.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Cuba: Wifi is coming, Wifi is coming

etecsa-facturas

Recent news about lists of text message words censored in Cuba received widespread media attention. A quick google search ofCuba censors text message words, returns 159,000 links in .078 seconds.

Now, Voilà!, what timing! Cuba Announces Major WiFi Expansion on Iconic Malecon!!

Via ABC News:

The Cuban government says it will make five miles of Havana’s iconic seafront boulevard, the Malecon, into the largest WiFi hotspot in one of the world’s least-connected nations.

State media said Wednesday that WiFi will be installed along the most popular stretch of the Malecon by the end of the year. The seafront is a favored spot for Cubans to gather at night to talk, drink and listen to music.

Home internet remains illegal for most Cubans. Since last year, the government has installed dozens of WiFi spots in public areas, charging $2 an hour in a country where the average state salary remains about $25 a month.

Cuba said last year that it had 65 WiFi spots in service and expected 80 more to open in 2016.

Wonderful news, just imagine crowds of locals and tourists enjoying the latest from the net in paradise.

malecon

Nevermind the long history of the regime’s unfufilled promises, even if the Wifi hotspots are built, that doesn’t doesn’t mean an end to censorship, or the Harassment of alternative media.

Amnesty International report:

Internet access in Cuba is censored.

With access to internet so limited, online censorship is not that sophisticated in Cuba. Authorities frequently filter and intermittently block websites that are critical of the state. Limiting access to information in this way is a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information.

Communicating with Cuban human rights activists from overseas is difficult.

Amnesty International, along with many other independent international human rights monitors, including UN Special Rapporteurs, are not allowed to access Cuba. The landline, mobile and internet connections of government critics, human rights activists and journalists are often monitored or disabled. In the lead-up to Pope Benedict’s three-day visit to Cuba in September 2012, a communications blockade prevented Amnesty International and other international organizations from gathering information on a wave of detentions that were taking place. Communicating with Cuban human rights activists remains challenging, particularly at times when the authorities are arresting people based on their political opinion.

Obama’s Cuba policy resurrects segregation

Obama’s legacy.

By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Obama Cuba Policy Legacy: Resurrecting systemic legal segregation

“If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

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President met Castro in Panama as Cuban activists attacked by Castro’s diplomats

The Obama Administration beginning in 2009 pushed for a normalization of relations with an abnormal and totalitarian regime in Cuba that treats its own people as chattel. On December 17, 2014 the announcement was formally made and since then new relations established.

Throughout this process human rights have not only worsened in Cuba, but also in the United States with the approval of The White House until popular outrage has forced them to back track. Consider for a moment three episodes from 2016.

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Protests against Carnival for discriminating against Cubans to appease Castro regime

First, Carnival Cruise Line signed an agreement with Castro regime officials on March 21, 2016 to sail to Cuba from the United States. In order to conduct their core mission Carnival had to agree to enforce the Castro dictatorship’s policy that bans all Cubans from traveling into the island by water. It did not matter if Cubans born on the island were now citizens of another country. Obama’s Treasury Department on July 7, 2015 signed off on the Carnival Cruise Line – Castro regime alliance ignoring that an entire class of Americans would be discriminated against based on their national origin. Mass protests, boycotts and lawsuits led the Castro regime to blink when it became apparent that popular outrage would lead the cruise ship company to cancel its cruises.

Second, the U.S. embassy in Cuba floated a trial balloon that announced that the United States government accepted that U.S. citizens of Cuban descent born in the United States are not recognized by the Castro regime as Americans but as Cuban nationals subject to the dictatorship’s laws and regulations. Even though one was born in the United States and has never applied for dual nationality in Cuba they are treated as a Cuban born by the Castro regime in terms of responsibilities but not rights and the government of the USA goes along with it in order to have “normal relations.” This also means that these U.S. citizens would be denied consular access in Cuba. The State Department once again had to back track in May of 2016 when this trial balloon sunk amidst negative press coverage and popular outrage.

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Discriminating against Cuban born crew to placate Castro regime

Thirdly, American Airlines is pulling Cuban-American pilots and flight attendants off flights to Cuba in order to placate demands by the Castro regime. Fabiola Santiago, of The Miami Herald, obtained an American Airlines memo announcing the policy as follows: “Please remember that those who are Cuban born should be removed with pay from Cuba flights until we can verify what requirements the Cuban government has for these crew members.” The Democracy Movement has announced that if American Airlines does not end this policy that they will take action.

President Obama’s Cuba policy legacy is to resurrect systemic legal segregation against American citizen’s based on their national origin in order to placate a foreign dictatorship. Benjamin Franklin was right: “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Castro’s forced labor camps, a selective memory

By Ernesto Hernández Busto in Penúltimos Días:

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UMAP: Selective Memory

It seems that in Cuba one can now talk about UMAP, the notorious Military Units to Aid Production (in Spanish: Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción), internment and forced labor camps where the Cuban government imprisoned homosexuals, the religious, intellectuals, dissidents and any other “suspicious elements” between November 1965 and July 1968. Gradually, people have begun to speak about the camps, to admit things and individual cases, to collect testimonies, and to make visible this sad episode.

The psychologist Carolina de la Torre, a professor at the University of Havana, is about to publish the fictionalized story of her brother, Benjamin de la Torre, who committed suicide in 1967, just after leaving one of these camps. In a recent interview she recounted the difficulties in “finding out and writing about this episode in my own country.” In effect, for too long any investigation into this thorny episode in Cuba’s history has been avoided, while the importance of information and witness accounts that came to light off the island was called into question. The topic has always been “suspicious,” and this situation only began to change after official recognition from the victimizer: in an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, on 31 August 2010, after some hesitation and rhetorical circumlocutions, Fidel Castro declared publicly: “I am the one responsible for the persecution of homosexuals we had in Cuba… We did not know how to judge… Systematic sabotage, armed attacks, were happening all the time; we had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life and death, you know, so we didn’t pay enough attention.”

In fact, there was an excess of attention. For the young Cuban historian Abel Sierra Madero, UMAP cannot be understood as an isolated institution, but as a part of a project “oriented to social and political control. That is, as a technology that involved judicial, military, educational, medical and psychiatric mechanisms.” In recent research published in the magazine Letras Libres, and later, in an expanded version for Cuban Studies, Sierra Madero, using a relentless collection of testimonies, lucidly analyzes the Castro regime’s ideology that supported these supposed “academies to produce macho men.”

It was not just a question of a homophobic or exclusionary discourse that proposed, for example, to expel from higher schooling “counterrevolutionary and homosexual elements,” and to prevent their entry into the university. The process of “purification” was more complex and took place at all levels. Once the purges of the universities were finalized, young people who stood out for a wide range of reasons – which included everything from long hair to being Jehovah’s Witnesses, listening to “the enemy’s music” or not being “incorporated” (not having fixed work or belonging to mass organizations) – remained “exposed and at the mercy of the State.” The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) were charged with conducting a census to identify the “disaffected”, informing on them was encouraged through a National Information Center, and all this data ended up being shared with the Ministry of the Interior and Revolutionary Armed Forces, which were charged with forced recruitment. Quite simply, there was no escape. Rather than a “lack of attention,” it was the most attentive Orwellian machinery that was set in motion to concern itself with those who did not fit into the mold of the “New Man.”

Sierra Madero’s research focuses on this concept, associated with “a broader ideological camp of social homogenization in which fashion, urban practices of sociability, religious creeds and an attitude toward work were key elements in harmonizing with a normative official vision.” The testimonies collected – including those of the various psychologists who consulted in the camps – trace a hellish scenario: from forced hormone therapy treatments to an enormous plan of “Revolutionary hygiene” that turned the internees into an almost slave labor force, or subjected to them to behavioral and reflexological experiments, in which they came to use electroshock treatments. Other witnesses speak of tortures using electrodes and treatments that involved insulin-induced comas.

Recently, the government magazine Temas (Themes) dedicated an article by its director, Rafael Hernández, to “the time of the UMAPs.” In it, he affirms that there were more than 25,000 internees “among the more than 70 camps, scattered across the plains of Camagüey.” The number is very conservative but there is no way to contrast it. In a last year’s interview in El País, famous Cuban singer Pablo Milanés talked about his own experience in UMAP and mentioned “40 thousand” interns. Two former Cuban intelligence agents quoted by the scholar Joseph Tahbaz (Dartmouth College) in the most comprehensive study about this subject, Demystifying las UMAP: The Politics of Sugar, Gender, and Religion in 1960s Cuba, have estimated that of approximately 35,000 UMAP internee.

Last November, the journalist José Jasán Nieves reported about a meeting between several former inmates of the camps, now associates of the Christian Reflection and Dialog Center, and their guards, who at the time were young Revolutionaries convinced they were carrying out an important “task of the Revolution.” One of the guards, a former sergeant, has been a pastor in the Brothers of Christ Church for more than 25 years. And he cries out, of course, for forgiveness.

It appears, however, that on this issue there are different ideas about memory and forgiveness. Last December, after seeing a documentary on Mariela Castro and “The Revolution of Homosexuals in Cuba,” the LGBT activist Jimmy Roque published in the on-line newspaper Havana Times, an article asking Raúl Castro to apologize and accept his responsibility for the internment of homosexuals in the UMAPs. “Now is the time to ask forgiveness for this act of penalization, exclusion and punishment to which thousands of homosexuals and Cubans with ‘improper conduct’ were subjected,” the activist wrote, quoting the title of Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal’s famous documentary about this subject –from 1983.

In his article, Roque also referred to a supposed investigation into the matter that CENESEX, directed by Raul’s daughter Mariela Castro, had been pushing since 2011: “Where is this investigation? How many people have been interviewed” Who is performing it? When and where will the partial results be presented (along with those from now until the end of the study)?”

Two months later, in February, another Cuban activist, Yasmín Portales Machado, dared to quote a fragment of Roque’s article in his blog Proyecto Arcoiris (“Rainbow Project”) which deals with sexual diversity and is hosted on the Cuban government’s platform Reflejos. The text was censored and the blog closed after a succinct explanation about how it had violated “the norms of participation on the site” with a text “defamatory to the Revolution.”

In closed forums, or in publications with no real or large impact within Cuba, people then began to talk about the issue, but always quietly. They recognize that something was wrong. But there is still censorship and zones of silence. There is no mention, yet, about the origin of UMAP – and of many other similar “experiments” that seem inseparable from the construction of “a new society”: the devastating power that has been exercised by the Cuban State against all forms of dissent. The way in which one life is suddenly reduced to nothing, no longer matters, is no longer accounted for, and all violence then becomes legitimate, “natural,” exempt from responsibility. Because if we go there, how can we ignore the current repression against the dissidents, and the monopoly of the political voice and the systematic violation of human rights on the island?

Behind the “UMAP phenomenon” there was not, as one analyst recently recovered from several decades of amnesia said, a “perfect storm” of circumstances specific to the ‘60s, but the idea that any behavior that did not fit into the mold of ideological unanimity was not only reprehensible but punishable: it deserved to be suppress, isolated, subjected to the worst humiliations we could imagine. Same way of thinking erupted again in 1980, with the events of the Mariel Boatlift, and survives today as the ideological basis of the repressive forces.

I hope we don’t have to wait another 50 years for the day when some digital publication, not greatly read in Cuba, comes to think that this beating of dissidents that goes on today wasn’t a good thing either.

Ernesto Hernández Busto
Barcelona

Surprise! European Union ready to lift its lame sanctions on Castro Kingdom

What a shocker!

We bet you didn’t see this one coming…

And we bet that you didn’t even know the EU had put any kind of squeeze on Castrogonia.

After all, only a mere two million Europeans vacation in Castrogonia’s apartheid resorts every year.

Federica Mogherini, architect of EU’s new Cuba policy

From the Manila Times:

The European Commission on Thursday submitted for approval an accord to normalize ties with Cuba, long strained by the EU’s backing of human rights activists in one of the world’s last communist states.

The European Union and Cuba settled their differences in March as US President Barack Obama brought Havana back in from the cold after nearly 60 estranged years with the West.

The Commission said it had presented a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) with Cuba to the 28 EU member states for signing.

The PDCA “opens new avenues to support Cuba’s process of economic and social modernization, to foster sustainable development, democracy and human rights, as well as to seek common solutions to global challenges,” a statement said.

At the same time, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini submitted a proposal to repeal what is known as the EU’s 1996 “Common Position” on Cuba which made improving human rights a condition for better ties.

Havana rejected the policy as interference in its domestic affairs and pressed hard for its removal during the normalization talks.

Mogherini said the agreement with Cuba “marks a turning point in our relations.”

Cuba was previously the only Latin American country without an international cooperation deal with the EU.

In 2003, the EU imposed sanctions on Cuba and suspended cooperation over a crackdown on journalists and activists and it took until 2008 to get talks going again.

Both Commission proposals will now be reviewed by the member states, with final adoption expected in the coming months, the statement said. AFP

Spanish Translation of “Basket of Deplorables”

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My good friend Silvio Canto, who has a radio show in Dallas, Texas, asked me tonight what would be the Spanish translation for “basket of deplorables.” It did not take but one second to come up with a reply. It would be “un montón de guaricandillas.” This is why I founded, when I lived in the DC area, the Guarincandilla Social Club — and we just founded a Sarasota chapter recently.

Tour Cuba’s Museum of Revolution Propaganda

Just as everything else built buy Cuba’s dictators, Havana’s Museum of the Revolution contains dated, tawdry exhibits of propaganda. All poorly maintained, and without air conditioning.

By Katarina Hall in Victims of Communism:

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A TOUR THROUGH CUBA’S MUSEUM OF THE REVOLUTION

Cuba’s most famous museum, the Museum of the Revolution, is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a temple to the Communist Party of Cuba, an attempt to discredit the United States, and a riot of propaganda.

Housed in the country’s former presidential palace, the museum gives you a revolutionary welcome with a SU-100 Soviet tank destroyer that Fidel used during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The palace itself is a sight to see—probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Havana and the only part of the museum worth looking at. Built in the 1920s and designed to look like Versailles, the building is imposing and overbearing, particularly its interior, which was decorated by New York’s Tiffany & Co.

The last Cuban president to use the palace as his residence was Fulgencio Batista, who lived there until 1959. Seen as a symbol of corruption, the palace was constantly a target of revolutionary violence. One of the most successful attacks took place on March 13, 1957, when a group of 50 revolutionaries stormed the residence with the intent of killing Batista. Although the attack did not succeed, the palace still shows the scars of the battle. The palace’s walls are covered with bullet holes.

[…]

For many, the museum would seem like any other historical attraction—as the Trip Advisor ratings and commentaries suggest. But for those who really pay attention, it does not take long to realize that the museum itself is one giant propaganda piece. The exhibits and displays are filled with countless diatribes against the United States and any other perceived enemy of the Revolution. The Revolution is exalted as the greatest and most successful episode in Cuba’s history. Not one display acknowledges any mistakes or shortcomings the Party may have, nor the current economic and human rights situation in Cuba.

[…]

Overall, the museum is a wacky experience. With the amount of money the museum makes with admissions, you would expect slightly more modern displays or well-kept exhibits, or maybe even air conditioning. But as you walk through the museum, you realize that in a way it is an analogy for the Revolution itself: it might seem like it has potential, but up close it is a disaster.

Read more HERE.