Friday, December 21, 2007

You Give 'Em Hell, Pops!

Remember this elderly gentleman, Alfredo Guillemas, from the Human Rights demonstration? Well, there’s a coda to his story. Apparently, the regime sensed it was a PR faux pas to manhandle a senior citizen in front of cameras. So three days after the demonstration on December 13, Mr. Guillemas received a visit from State Security, ordering him to stay in his home or face another beating.

To this stick, they added a carrot. If he would renounce his activities, they would provide him economic and medical assistance. Taking umbrage, he threw the descarados, or shameless ones, out of his home and vowed to work until his dying day for the democratization of Cuba.

*Source: a report by independent journalist Lamasiel Gutiérrez here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It Takes a Firm Hand

Signature from Penultimos Dias. Don't know where he got it.

Wow! Have you ever seen such a signature! Maybe, I'm just one of those cynical boomers, but how many ailing 80 year olds have you seen with such strong handwriting?

Some Clarity from Cuba

From ex-political prisoner Antuñez at Misceláneas de Cuba, there is no call to hold back from demonstrating:

Let this document ratify our ceaseless and sacred call to the internal opposition to continue taking to the streets, for these are the most appropriate places for struggle and resistance.

We suggest to our brothers in exile to read the call carefully and turn deaf ears to any ill-intentioned interpretation of the same.
The full text in Spanish

Let's Beat on the Press!

  • you be surprised to learn that reporters are held in the same low regard as undertakers and insurance salesmen.... and only slightly higher than politicians?
  • Did you know that two-thirds of the public believe reporters are no more ethical than the politicians they report on?
  • Would it perplex you to learn that the press itself has precisely the opposite view.... two thirds of them maintain they are more ethical than the public officeholders they cover?

So begins a "Frontline" report on a survey of American attitudes towards the press. I ran into this a while back and hadn't had a chance to post it. My favorite part, but of course, the boomers again:

Analysis of the survey revealed that middle-aged people - the Vietnam-Watergate generation - were more cynical than younger people and older people. This generational pattern was apparent in both the public survey and in the survey of the press as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Read All About It! A Scandal

In the how low can you go department, at least if the Enquirer is telling the truth... I know, I know. The paper is out with a story of a secret affair John Edwards supposedly carried on while his wife is battling for her life. If it weren't for Elizabeth Edwards, I'd be laughing. Okay, so maybe I am enjoying it a trifle. Read it here

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Keeping it Russian

This next bit comes from the Telegraph. A Russian general is threatening to target the European bases to house the missile defense shield. His comments shed light on the Russian perspective. Still, I have difficulty understanding the strident tone coming out of Moscow. I understand that to a certain extent Putin plays to nationalist pride, pride badly damaged after the fall of the USSR. But why the continued harsh cold war rhetoric and obstructionism? It's really getting dangerous out there.

And speaking of Putin. Since he can't be President any more, he's going to be Prime Minister. Huh?

Cuba: A Russian Perspective

Don't know what to think of this piece on the RIA Novosty by political commentator Pyotr Romanov. He seems to think fifo's health is improving (I beg to differ). While he hits some of the usual, the mafia and vice ridden past and the wrongness of the embargo...

This blockade is not only inhuman but also stupid, if only because it conceals better than any Cuban propaganda the main reason for Cuba's economic trouble - inefficiency of socialist economy.

Mr Romanov as a Russian knows a little something about failed socialism. It's really fascinating, and much of his analysis of the Cuban people is on target. Besides, anyone who writes:

Judging by all, Fidel is slowly getting better. Nevertheless, the best option for Cuba would be not his return but his final departure that would pave the way to reforms. If 75 year-old Raul retired together with his older brother and started cultivating roses like good old pensioners, the likelihood of serious change would only increase. Regrettably, this is too good to be true and more in the nature of wishful thinking. But the longer the reforms are delayed the harder it will be for Cubans.

It's a mixed bag, but worthy of a read. Fascinating.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Moment of Sanity

Or so writes Rick Aristotle Munarriz about the decline in the price of CUBA, not the country, the stock symbol for the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, the value which skyrocketed with the news of castro’s ill health. Investors flocked to the fund thinking it would benefit from the lifting of the embargo and travel restrictions. Well, we all know what didn’t happen, so they’ve apparently lost faith. Read the article on Motley Fool. But if you don’t, I’ll share this snippet with you:

I am a Cuban-American living in Miami. I raise my cafecito to the elder politicos in town who dream of a free Cuba. I just never saw the logic in paying an 80% premium for a basket of stocks that I could duplicate at face value.

We are everywhere.

Cross-posted at Babalublog

A Manifesto of Sorts

I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning. First, Fidel’s dead. Then he’s not. Then according to the MSM he’s “running” for office. Now in today’s news, he’s hinting at retirement. Personally, I like the life in death option. Anyway, Raul’s in charge. Or maybe Raul’s not in charge. Marta Beatriz Roque, noted dissident, calls for dissenters to unite but put off any marches for like two years while they run around consciousness raising, including telling ordinary Cubans how bad it is? Antuñez, another noted dissident with stronger bona fides, signs on, but then maintains he didn’t know about the hold on demonstrations. If Elizardo Sanchez, another noted dissident, was really spying on his confreres for the regime, why the sudden attack today in the press, where they call him a mercenary in the pay of the US government?

Maybe I’m confused because I just watched The Bourne Ultimatum, but maybe it’s because Cuba is as Churchill once described the USSR: “a riddle wrapped inside an enigma.” I am a simple person. I know, having had experience with at least one cunning and amoral acquaintance, that I am no match for same. You see, no matter how smart you are; if you can’t think like they do, you cannot outwit them.

So what’s an honest, well-intentioned soul to do? What’s the right course? Whom do you support? What stance can you take? Should you bother? After all, the vitriol hurled at us by some in our community makes it all too easy to turn and say, “I don’t need this grief.” Heck, I’m an American. Only I am, but then I’m not. I am Cuban. No, I am not Cuban like the poor souls who live and toil on the island. But for an amazing act of foresight by my father, I could have been. Yes, I grew up in the United States and went to bed with a full belly every night. I paid a smaller price, growing up as a second class citizen, never knowing what it was to belong, never meeting close relatives, or walking the Malecon, and always the sense of loss. I’ve earned the Cuban in front of that American, and no one is going to take it away from me.

For every attack on the Cuban American community by the MSM media, the apparatchiks, or even some of our own, there are any number of pleas coming from the island to make their stories known. So I speak for those who cannot, for those who have been silenced by the jackboot, who must live the proverbial lives of quiet desperation. I do not believe I have the corner on knowledge, or that I have the only, or any, answers.

In the end, neither speculations nor divisions matter. If I was granted the privilege of being born in, or even just living, in a free society, then I bear the responsibility of doing all I can to help those left behind. So, it doesn’t really matter who the players are, whether the coma andante is alive or dead, or how we feel about each other. My responsibility, my God-given task, is to bear witness.

And if you don’t think it makes a difference. When was the last time, the MSM paid attention to a demonstration of twelve dissidents? When did any manifestation of any size, other than the officially sanctioned ones get any press, even if it was at the end of the articles about the regime's magnanimity in signing accords (it has no intention of keeping) in two years? It is not something for which I take any credit. I am the flea on the butt end of the camel industriously making its way into that tent. But in my little space and as far as my words reach, I will attest to the truth. And no matter what they put out or the MSM picks up, in this small space I will call them on their lies.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Morning PseudoScience

The Theory of Relativity. A Christmas card arrived at Bernice Martin's home this year, 93 years after it was mailed. No one knows what caused the delay. Unfortunately, Edith Martin to whom the card was addressed was no longer alive to receive it. Brief article here.

Origin of the Species. Ever wonder where punctuation marks came from? Well, wonder no more! Learn all about the question mark, dollar sign, even the Olympic rings. Read it here.

Law of Unintended Consequences. This one is not quite so silly. On January 1, any business in Arizona hiring an illegal worker is faced with the prospect of losing the same. Passed in an effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration into the state, a first offense results in a temporary suspension of the business' license to operate. A second offense leads to a permanent loss. The new law is having a chilling effect on businesses in a state with a 3.7% unemployment rate. For the article.

Balancing the Equation. Eunice Lopez was arrested for running a cottage industry of sorts. Between 2002 and 2006, Lopez, who arrived from Cuba in 2002, married 10 men and divorced none. Despite the irregularity, Ms Lopez's marriage for papers business was not discovered until somebody tipped off the authorities. Read it here.

and from Cuba....

The regime announced that it will spend $2 billion on its transportation system. Does that mean that the powers that be are going to take a cut on their part of the skim? Or, maybe, it's that prodigious growth rate they keep announcing but ordinary Cubans are missing.
H/T Henry Gomez at Babalublog