With Dissidents like these–who needs Phil Peters, Julia Sweig, Marifeli and Wayne Smith?

“I believe that these economic restrictions, an ‘embargo’ to some and a ‘blockade’ to others, represent a blunder in American policy toward Cuba. Far from suffocating the ruling class of the Island, these trade restrictions create material difficulties for the population and feed the radicalization of the ideological discourse inside Cuba. The embargo has been an argument to justify the unproductive and inefficient state-run economy, including the total ruin of various sectors. Worse than that, it has been used to support the maxim, ‘in a country under siege, dissent is treason,’ which contributes to the lack of freedoms for my fellow citizens…. With due respect for our sovereignty, with more collaboration, more cultural exchanges, more citizen solidarity and fluidity of communications, both peoples would benefit. For this reason I support an immediate opening to allow all Americans to travel to Cuba, the end of the ‘blockade,’ the end of the damaging hostilities of the Cold War, and in particular the complete elimination of anything that limits contact between the citizens of both countries.”

Entire dissidence here.

And some wonder why the Stalinist regime doesn’t come down harder on Yoani Sanchez? They’d be CRAZY to!

38 thoughts on “With Dissidents like these–who needs Phil Peters, Julia Sweig, Marifeli and Wayne Smith?”

  1. Are you guys kidding? The idea that “Yoani might be a plant” is what you take away from that interview? Let’s look at a few other of her quotes:

    “…the problems that most frighten us are the collapse of production, the lack of freedom, and the anachronistic discourse of power.”

    “He [Raul] is not held accountable for the delay in necessary reforms, the increasing repression, and the timidity with which he has implemented measures to improve production on the Island.”

    “The current government [the Communists] of the Island would be principally responsible for any outbreak of civil unrest because they have missed every opportunity for an orderly and peaceful transition.”

    “Our nation is no longer contained within a single territory; there are Cubans in every part of the world, and especially on the other side of the Florida Straits. As a result, our destiny is indissolubly tied to the United States.”

    Okay, that sounds like a closet-Fidelista talking to you guys?

  2. Gabe, if you are going to inevitably have dissidents, why not hire your own which you can allow to criticize you (for believability) but then capitulate on the actual important issues.

  3. Mr. Mojito:

    “Gabe, if you are going to inevitably have dissidents, why not hire your own which you can allow to criticize you (for believability) but then capitulate on the actual important issues.”


    P.S. If she walks, talks and acts like an Elizardo Sanchez, then she must be one!

    BTW, I always wondered why a regime like the castro tyranny known for its extreme repression and surveillance capabilities is unable to stop Yoani [who claims that she goes in disguise] from entering hotels and Internet Bars. I mean, does that sound likely?

  4. Okay. First, I concede that Fidel Inc. are a group of devious and conniving weasels – but that Yoani a plant, a double, basically a traitor to the cause of Cuban liberty….

    Please explain what “important issues” she is capitulating on?

    Now, before I hear the word “embargo” and the entire “throwing a lifeline to Fidel at the last minute” diatribe, I want to interject one point:

    FACT: Yoani has been consistent and articulate in a point of view which is this: “THAT THE DAYS OF FIDEL GLORIFYING HIMSELF ARE OVER”.

    The transition she talks about is happening today (not officially with the government) but on the ground, among the Cuban people, who are done with the lies, and false history that regime has based it’s legacy of complete and absolute failure on – you can see it. You need proof of how unstable the situation is becoming? Your team at Babalu has documented it (with children and grandchildren of the geriatric leaders buying property and opening bank accounts in Spain, Venezeula, and Chile).

    However, the idea that pathetic, miserable, brutal, tragic, and destructive 50-year experiment of Fidel Inc is now at this moment finished, done, walking on life support, and just waiting for an eminent collapse seems to be lost on the Hollywood, ridiculous academics, as well as a substantial portion of Miami.

    I’m not completely ignorant of the past. But I am stating that Cuban people are today, at this moment dying (via nutrition and want of basic medicines). Humberto knows this better than most, as he has written with exceptional and probably accurate insight into one of the great facades of the 20th century called the “Cuban Socialist Healthcare” system (my disagreement with him is that he is probably too conservative in the numbers when estimating the dead).

    Longterm, everybody and their mother knows the CCP has to ‘espumarse’ for there to be any sustainable and prosperous future for the Cuban people. And I am the first guy buying everyone drinks if the Angel of Death shoves his claw up El Commandante’s culo tonight and takes him on a trip out of this world. But the worst fricken’ scenario I can imagine is someone like that luntatic Ramiro Valdez, extending this genocidal regime another decade by cobbling together a coalition of like-minded facistas who use the failed policy of the US embargo as an excuse to rule. (And yes, it is a failed policy, why? Because those putos are still running around in their verde olivo pajamas, rather than sitting in some prison where they belong).

    Obama, no Obama, Embargo, No Embargo – the house that Fidel built is coming down, but how many people have to die when the roof falls in is the issue that should concern all Cuban patriots.

    Are you telling me that the team at Babalu wants to revist the collapse of Machado? With dead Cubans in the streets. Or maybe bring back El Paredon? Is that what we should be looking forward to when the inevitable fall occurs?

    And because that woman, somehow, summons the daily courage to spit in the face of her Stalinist oppressors, risking her liberty in the process (but she “disagrees in tactics” with a well-fed, well-monied group of people who live far from the daily terror of MININT) – her patriotism is at question? Because she wants to see a bloodless transition, she might secretly be a closet Fidelista? That is what I am to understand?

    Okay, that was more than one point, and it was a bit of a diatribe, I think I am clear that the insinuation (in my opinion) is lacking in merit.

  5. I for one have trouble attacking Yoani for her position on the embargo. First of all she rarely talks about the embargo and when she does it’s usually situations like these where she is asked about. Secondly she doesn’t ever claim that lifting the embargo will be a magic bullet that will end the regime. Unlike some of the propagandists for the regime (like Lisandro Perez), Yoani has no problem pointing out that it’s a dictatorship. Taken on the whole, her discourse is much more critical of the castro regime than it is of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

    That said, I think she’s wrong as can be about the embargo for several reasons which I won’t get into here because it would be the one millionth time I defend the embargo.

  6. Gabe, I agree with you about Yoani. If she were a plant, why is State Security going after her? Why is the Cuban gov’t accusing her of being in the pocket of the MMCs (my acronym for the Miami Mafia Cubans)? Maybe she doesn’t agree with every single anti-Castro person on every issue, but her desire to encourage plural debate with free expression of different opinions is relevant.

  7. It is my opinion that in spite of her criticism of the dictatorship, that Yoani is at heart a socialist, an elitist, and is in many instances naive politically. I’m not sure a few years(or however long it was) in socialist Europe is sufficient to undo a lifetime of the indoctrination. But plant or not, and perhaps not always to our liking, she has done more than anyone I can think of to get some attention on the fact that perhaps Cuba is not the paradise the propagandists would like everyone to believe it is. On the other hand, she is a model for the how bad can it be in Cuba since Yoani blogs away? Meanwhile, from photos I’ve seen it appears that she lives pretty well compared to the average Cuban, and how is it she can afford the cost of hotel internet cafes? Where is the money coming from? Misuse the internet in Cuba, you loose your job. IMO there is a lot that doesn’t add up when it comes to Yoani.

  8. Ziva, you hit it on the nail with your first sentence, regarding where – politically speaking – is Yoani. If she lived here, she would be a liberal democrat, kind of full of wishful thinking to say the least.

    That being said, I also agree she is putting out the day to day live of the real Cuba in a way nobody else have done before. But is also calls my attention that she can do so many things others can’t. In Cuba, with the castrocommunism and security all over, nothing is a coincidence.

    On the other hand, I can tell you from my own recent experience that the average Cuban has no idea who she is and it is not pending of her whereabouts. They (bloggers) move within their own circle of bloggers and average-Joe-Cubans could care less. Most of them actually told me they believe she works, collaborates or whitewashes for the Cuban gov’t, ergo the privileges.

    However, this could also be a direct result of the intense culture of chivateria and putting every body against every body that the gov’t had planted in our minds since we are born.

    I also dislikes very much the inner-circle some bloggers appear to live in, instead of using their platforms also to help those that have been fighting the dictatorship for years, or groups like the Ladies in White.

    There are, indeed, many things that don’t add up, but I guess that only time will tell.

  9. As Ziva said, “there is a lot that doesn’t add up when it comes to Yoani.”

    IMO, I think that the regime has an uneasy truce with certain dissidents. There are certain lines that they don’t allow any dissident to cross. Antúnez, Beatriz Roque, Darsi Ferrer and Biscet can vouch on that.

    And then you have people like Elizardo Sanchez and Yoani who don’t cross those lines and benefit from that truce.

    Perhaps the thing is that the regime understands that for the sake of world public opinion, they need to accommodate certain dissidents.

    I truly believe that the so-called embargo is a sticking point with the regime. Even though I am against lifting the embargo, I do understand that the status quo hasn’t worked and I am able to concede certain arguments made in lifting the embargo, but to say:

    “These trade restrictions create material difficulties for the population”

    Is really conceding to the regime a major, major morsel that they can use over and over it. It’s moments like this that Yoani becomes really useful to the regime. Just like Pope John Paul was useful to the regime despite his solid “anti-communist” credentials.

    What material difficulties does the trade restrictions create for the population? Does Cuba–a country with four harvesting seasons– need the USA to grow staples of the Cuban diet like, malanga, yautia, yucca and boniato? Is the trade restrictions the reason why the former sugar pot of the world doesn’t provide enough sugar for the population to sweeten their coffee? Why formerly abundant bananas, mangoes and mameys are now scarce? Is embargo the reason that a country with an enormous coast line like Cuba can’t provide the bounty of the sea to its population? I mean, really.

    Does Yoani–a brilliant woman in her capacity to articulate her arguments—really believe this?

  10. Dittos to Ziva’s comment; I have always deferred to Yoani because she is doing something a lot of people are unwilling to do or try to do. I admire her grit and her track record. But I need not develop a blindspot in my admiration: she was raised in a socio-communist mindset and many of her ideas reflect it. She has not shed those ideas, and perhaps never will. She doesn’t have all the facts, historical or otherwise. And if you read her blog, you will notice how much input she gets from other parts of the world from contributors who have a leftist mindset — except they live in relatively free societies where they have freedom of speech (Germany, France, Spain, Argentina and other places). I filter her opinions, and everyone else’s, through the grid of my own convictions.

    I have my reservations as to why she appears to live better, from videos and photos posted on the web, but I can’t speculate that she may be a double agents b/c a lot of people in Cuba live relatively well due to their Yuma relatives’ monetary provisions and the incessant activity of the mulas. Yoani may be a small favor for those of us desiring to see the final blow to a crumbling system that has no future.

  11. ojc said,

    “And if you read her blog, you will notice how much input she gets from other parts of the world from contributors who have a leftist mindset — except they live in relatively free societies where they have freedom of speech (Germany, France, Spain, Argentina and other places). I filter her opinions, and everyone else’s, through the grid of my own convictions.”

    This is what makes Yoani unique in my opinion. Her audience is the audience that typically applauds the Castro regime from the comfort of their homes in capitalist countries. Oscar Elias Biscet is never going to make Time’s 100 most influential list. The MSM is not interested in covering the traditional opposition to Castro, Inc. Yoani, through the strength and style of her writing has these vicarious communists thinking twice about the Cuban Utopia for the first time. And that is very useful to all of us who want to see change in Cuba. It’s useful because regardless of how subtle they are, Yoani’s criticisms belie the regime’s official propaganda.

    If Yoani held my same opinions and voiced them on her blog the way I voice them here, none of us would know who she is and she’d probably be in prison.

  12. Fact: Yoani has socialist leanings
    Fact: So do a lot of other Cubans on the Island and here in Miami (many of which consider themselves “intransigente” and are registered Republicans)
    Fact: Cuba is crumbling not because of the US embargo since Cuba trades with US anyway and every other country on the planet Cuba is falling apart because of its socialist economy.
    I think Humberto is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    I don’t think Yoani is infallible, I am not enamored by her socialist mindset, but I don’t think she is necesarily a plant (though always a possibility in Cuba). Every dissident in Cuba is a possible plant, even those you may least expect.
    So instaed of worrying who is or isn’t a plant and who’s the real dissident in Cuba, we should be promoting Freedom and Individual rights both HERE and in Cuba.
    Ironically lifting the embargo is a free market move (without taxpayer subsidy of course) backed by percieved socialist and derided by some who swear they support free markets. 😉

  13. Ironically lifting the embargo is a free market move (without taxpayer subsidy of course) backed by percieved socialist and derided by some who swear they support free markets.

    The little parenthetical caveat is a huge problem for your argument because trade with Cuba will never be free of subsidy. Right now who in America is benefitting from the trade with Cuba? The agricultural sector. There’s no industry more heavily subsidized than them. And no private industry will be willing to extend credit to the regime without at least some “wink and a nod” agreement that they are going to get paid somehow. The international institutions that lend to countries like Cuba are all at least partially backed by U.S. tax dollars.

    Besides I would argue that trade with Cuba could liberalize that country if Cuba were some sort of traditional right wing dictatorship where the factors of production were mainly in private hands. In Cuba 90% of the economy is in state hands despite all of the foreign investment to date. The argument that the embargo hasn’t worked is easily countered with the argument that dialogue and engagement and trade and investment have not worked.

  14. Perhaps the question should not be what has or hasn’t worked as far as getting rid of the old fart but how do we advance the cause of individual rights and freedom.

    We should start by opposing ANY taxpayer backed credit to ANY foreign country and any private business be it a Wallstreet Bank or a “family farm.” Most of the founders of the USA (where we live) would not agree with our governments imposition of an Income Tax and using our money to prop up corrupt foreign governments (or any foriegn government period)or inefficient private concerns.

    Until we recognize and fix our own problems here it will be difficult if not impossible to spread freedom to other places (Mobocracy maybe but NOT freedom)

  15. Ziva, “Where is the money coming from” for Yoani? She started the whole alternative blogging movement, and she has been instrumental in getting other Cubans to drop their masks and blog. The money comes from the Exterior, through donations, and from the mulas who go to see her. All the translators on all of these blogs work for free. There is a huge, international support group. Granted that many of them are left-wing, but that does not deflect from her and the other bloggers’ messages about having a free Internet.

    Cubanita, about “using platforms to help those who have been fighting the dictatorship.” She has. To wit, she recently marched with the Women in White. She and her group of friends fully support the political prisoners and have managed to set up a blog for them (Voices from Behind the Bars).
    As to whether she lives better than a lot of other Cubans, there are a lot of people who “live better” than others. I wouldn’t call her privileged in the sense that the Nomenclatura is privileged in Cuba, certainly not.
    There are, indeed, certain bloggers who are government spokespeople: those found on Temas and Havana Times.

  16. Do you guys actually believe that the Communist regime wants the embargo to be officially lifted? And do any of you actually think that the nomenklatura is actually hurting from lack of items?

    The embargo could be unilaterally lifted tomorrow (without the regime’s agreement or permission)and nothing would result from it as far as the dictatorship’s well being, except that it could not blame the “blockade” for the miserable living conditions.

    As for changing anything in our policy, let’s not! Hey, our tactics haven’t worked in the past fifty years in bringing down the dictatorship? Well! Then! What we need to do is continue exactly doing everything we’ve been doing for another fifty years! That’s sure to work. (and anyone who disagrees with that logic is a traitor)

  17. Spygirl, you may not be a traitor but you certainly are an idiot. The regime spends a lot of time energy and money trying precisely to have the embargo lifted. It’s why they pay people like the agents of influence they have in academia and American government. And the nomenklatura isn’t hurting but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting as much money from as many different sources as possible to continue to perpetuate the regime and guess what all of the sources of money around the world are drying up except one. And you just said it yourself, not one thing would change in Cuba as far as the dictatorship’s well being is concerned if the embargo is lifted. So why lift it? Just to remove an excuse? What good does that do? Will the people then rise in the streets and face Cuban soldiers armed with brand new AK-47s courtesy of a flood of greenbacks into the regime’s coffers? Please.

    Show me all of the progress that trade and engagement have made in changing Cuba’s fortunes? Why isn’t the same argument you apply to U.S. policy valid with regards to the policies of European Union and many Latin American countries?

    Quit while you’re behind honey.

  18. Ranavy33, just to remind folks, that before Yoani, there was el Guinero, (http://elguinero.blogspot.com/)who one day just ceased to blog. That and the history of Cuba’s spying on exiles, I think certainly justifies some of the questions about how Yoani gets away with her blogging. As for Humberto’s post, I take issue with her blaming the US for Cuba’s woes. It seems to me she should know better, and while on the one hand she criticizes the regime, she also seems to repeat the party line at times.

  19. Ziva, I don’t know about El Guinero; the website isn’t accessible. Re “her blaming the US for Cuba’s woes” I think if you read her in toto (will take a long time, I know) you’ll see that she is NOT blaming the US: She’s blaming the Cuban gov’t. I agree that she is wrong about the existence of the embargo.
    And I haven’t done a survey of the folks in the Exterior who support Yoani, but I don’t think most of them are Cuban exiles. Furthermore, Yoani is NOT “getting away with her blogging.” She has been threatened a lot, even beat up, just not thrown in jail. Why? Because she has received international attention and prizes all over the world, and that’s because she’s the original blogger, an excellent writer, and extremely prolific. Having lived abroad she also has a lot of contacts who help her. She is NOT being helped by the Cuban government. Also, if that were the case, why is she encouraging so many other alternative bloggers to get online and helping them? Why is she supporting the political prisoners? Or do you think everything is a “socialist” conspiracy?

  20. Did you read my original comment? “she has done more than anyone I can think of to get some attention on the fact that perhaps Cuba is not the paradise the propagandists would like everyone to believe it is.” And I fully support her. That does not mean I agree with everything she writes, and I do think she’s a socialist. And no, I don’t think everything is a conspiricy, but I think based on history and fact that questioning motives of dissidents in Cuba who also repeat the party line at times is legitimate, and I have a right to that opinion.

  21. Ziva, sorry I didn’t mean to insult you. Of course you have a right to your opinion. I respect your opinion. I’m glad you support Yoani. I hope you and I can meet sometime in the future. Is Cuba Nostalgia going to happen this year?

  22. The truly amazing thing, isn’t that Yoani holds these views, it’s that some like Antunez DON’T!
    How they buck the mental conditioning that comes with being born and raised under that regime, is truly amazing and truly inspiring….

  23. Humberto, it is inspiring and amazing, I suspect that Antunez’ clarity of thought and opposition to the regime came from the abuse he suffered while incarcerated as a youth. It sure wasn’t the US torturing him.

  24. Ranavy33, just for the record, let me remind everybody that Yoani started standing for the cause/ news/ blogging/ reporting of other dissidents when all over the blogophere people started asking why she was not siding by them, when most of them were in prison and she wasn’t. You can go back to all her posts in her blog to realized that… she was connected to them at the beginning.

    That being said, I second Ziva’s original comment that she ahs become a voice never heard of in Cuba before. But that does not necessarily means that I have to blindly agree with her positions.

    That attitude was what allow castro to grab power in Cuba in the first place, back when I was still in cellular state…

  25. 1. Don’t forget that Yoani left Cuba and then willingly went back there to live in her high rise loft with her lap top and luxury items that most can only dream of on the island (except the top commies).

    2. If Yoani was an American, she would be a caucus organizer for Obama in Iowa.

    3. Notice how Yoani doesn’t usually bash Fidel or Raul specifically, and nearly always treats Che with kid gloves. She either tempers her arguments willingly – or perhaps she is a patsie. Why would a govt that can control every facet of someones life, not create their own opposition. They’d be dumb not to.

    4. Think about it for a second, if you were Raul and wanted to create your own false flad dissident – what traits would they have. I would guess that they would be a moderate leftie who preaches against the embargo and occasionally bashes the regime for minor offenses like the CDR’s and not say gulags and death squads. Yoani fits this to a T. Has she ever spoke on La Cabana? Has Yoani ever spoke of thousands of dead? No.

  26. Wasn’t it a Cuban dude Antonio Prohias, figures with all the stuff on Yoani being written here.

    Why don’t you concentrate on how best to promote free minds and free markets both here and in Kuba and stop looking for spies under your bed.

    YES Yoani’s a pinko, news flash so are most of the Cubans left on the island, unfortunately.

  27. Cato, pray tell share your wisdom. Please tell us what you would do to create a free market in Cuba since 90% + of all business is controlled by castro inc, and no one gets into Cuba without permission.

  28. Henry thank you for a thoughtful and rational comment. By reading much of the comments, you would think that a free and democratic cuba would be full of right wing conservatives.

    Imagine the concept of a free and democratic cuba where all citizens had an input into the political leadership, despite their political leanings. While I am for the embargo, I await the day when cuba (and it’s people) can freely vote for their FUTURE….

  29. Ziva for 51 years no one has had the answer to your question, DRUM ROLL PLEASE………and quite frankly neither do I.

    I do know that we are losing our free market system here both republicans and democrats hack away at it daily. Telling US citizens and Corporations were they can or can’t go or where they can do business is contrary to any free market principles I know.
    So I’m sorry that I lack the knowledge of how to jump start a free market in Cuba but I do know that if the lights go out here the chances of them ever getting back on in Cuba are slim at best.

    Rolmas I’m not sure that Democracy and Freedom are compatible. You need well founded institutions, a constitution that respects individual rights and PROPERTY RIGHTS (everybody seems to forget this one) and men and women who will govern according to those precpts and not on the whims of the popular movement du jour.

    Looking at both our crop of politicos and dissidents here and in Cuba I won’t hold my breath.

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