October 2011

Angered is the adjective with which hundreds and thousands of demonstrators call themselves in the Middle East, Europe and now in the United States filling the streets demanding change.

It wasn’t strange that at the beginning, the media in my planet were so cautious in reporting those demonstrations.  Of course it wouldn’t be a good idea, it could cause a panic.

But like fashion, finally their nomenclature was introduced: Angered.  We couldn’t stay back, but beware!, very careful, they are not going to get out of hand.

Today finally, in the news, they started to use a newly fashionable word.  They introduced a group of students, with a face and posture of boredom, showing their indignation, before the fact of the requiring of René Gonzalez — one of the Cuban 5 — to remain in the United States to serve the remainder of his sentence, his parole (three years of supervised freedom).  They insist in calling them heroes, that puts them in the same position, as so many heroes of the fatherland, whose actions and worth, makes them deserving, in their moment, of this honor.

Nevertheless, it extraordinarily calls my attention that those same students, those who on a daily basis have to confront transportation problems, who traveling hanging from the open doors of the bus, running the risk of having an accident, who don’t enjoy adequate food, who know that their working parents don’t earn a salary to cover the most basic necessities, haven’t shown their indignation before.  Also, before the sinking in the Bay of Havana of the tugboat 13 de marzo (13th of March) or the summary execution of 3 adolescents, who tried to bring one of the small boats that go to Regla, in the same bay, so that the beating and insults of their opponents, for mentioning only some of the detestable acts perpetrated by a regimen, that has exercised its power for more than 50 years.  That is outrageous.

October 10 2011

Photo taken 8/13/11

Brave, honest, sincere woman.  She was obliged to confront the pain of the offended, insulted, trampled on by their own compatriots, most of them women, which were convened by the degrading tyranny, only some days ago surrounded her home, where and a group of the Ladies in White met, to go out in a silent march, raising pink gladioli, towards the church.  They were surrounded by a convened mob that threw insults and dirty words, offending them and not letting them leave the building, shielded in the courage that flourishes in the cowardly, when in a group and protected by the authorities.

How must many of them who learned of the news of the passing away of this brave woman feel?  Are they capable of realizing, in their mediocrity, that they were being paid to reenact those embarrassing rallies of repudiation of the 1980s?

The story, earlier rather than later, will, I’m sure, come back.

This is a very sad and grey day, as if nature itself wanted to join in the pain of her family members and friends, to show the sorrow that her departure has left us.  So long, Laura!

Translated by: BW
October 16 2011

On my planet almost everything is difficult to obtain , but one of the most difficult is information – no small thing! It is said that information is power, so you can imagine how weak is our power.

The sale of short-wave radios is prohibited. They are not to be found in any home appliance store.  If you ask, they will just say that they have not come, as if talking of an unexpected visit.

I myself own one that a friend kindly gave me a few years ago. With it, I can find radio stations from other countries, but Radio Martí* – impossible!, at least in Havana. I know that some friends outside the capital manage to pick up the signal. Here, when you find it, it comes accompanied by the tac tac of the interference, which can leave you deaf or an idiot. I have tried hard to disregard the noise, but it’s impossible – the headache you get prevents it. I would like to be able to listen at least to the news, which ultimately is the most important thing. But it is precisely about that, about preventing you from hearing them, so that the truth broadcast by our media will prevail, being the only source of information.

But there is a way you can listen to Radio Martí when there is rain, thunder or lightning. Then, as soon as the storm starts I run to turn on my radio. Sure enough, I manage to hear it, but also under a stressful state of panic of being hit by a bolt of lightning that would be attracted by my dear little device’s waves. When its programming started some years ago , I could hear it perfectly on an old radio on which I would tune to Radio Rebelde*, and physically turning it from one side to the other I would finally manage to have its signal prevail, and it would accompany me in my workshop during my long work hours. So much so that I acquired an addiction to its programs, but like all my previous ones – Coca Cola and cherry bonbons – I was forced to give it up, with the inherent consequences and suffering that, for a while, accompany those who quit a bad habit. Now I am afraid that if I am able to overcome my fear, I will become addicted to thunder and lightning.

* Translator’s Note: Radio Martí is a US government-financed radio station broadcasting to Cuba. Radio Rebelde is  a Cuban government station.

Translated by: Espirituana

October 6 2011


Once more a phrase comes to mind, that famous one of Generalissimo Máximo Gómez, the Dominican who fought in our wars of independence, when he said in reference to us Cubans that we either didn’t get there or went too far.

The authorities on our planet seem to have gone overboard in the media regarding the honors paid to the recently deceased Julio Casas Regueiro*. I am not going to speak of his numerous military merits, as I am ignorant in that matter, and I do not question them.  I am only saying that, as I see it, there has been some exaggeration.

The death occurred last Friday, September 3rd, and today, Wednesday the 7th, the media are still covering the topic in depth. Even the newspaper Granma, which I don’t usually buy but today I did, as I was startled to see it all in black. The first thought that came to my mind was: Good heavens, it seems like my planet has also run out of red ink! The truth is that if our emotions keep rising, we may soon have an issue totally in black, like a by now obsolete sheet of carbon paper.

*Translator’s note: Julio Casas Regueiro was previously Deputy Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in charge of Economic Activity. When Raul Castro succeeded Fidel Castro as head of state, he replaced Raul as Minister of Defense, the post he held at the time of his death, along with that of Vice-President of the Council of State.

Translated by: Espirituana

September 7 2011

In the middle of the photo, my grandfather.

This endeavor that I have been subjecting myself to for almost three years is becoming increasingly difficult and stressful.  Never before this half-century would it have occurred to me, and practically to any Cuban, I believe, to obtain another citizenship: we were proud of ours.

The fever started as a trickle in the last four decades.  Given the country’s situation becoming more and more unsustainable and the barriers to traveling, many who had Spanish parents decided to recover their parents’ citizenship, and with it, facilitate their departure in search of new horizons.

It was almost four years ago, when Spain approved the law of recovery of citizenship for grandchildren. Then the unexpected happened. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans took up the task of requesting supporting documentation, and the Civil Registries, Offices of the Ministry of the Interior, National Archives and others, collapsed. They weren’t prepared for the avalanche of requests that came. In addition, the lines at the Spanish Embassy became longer and more crowded.  In the end, it caught us, without having the necessary conditions.  Our archives, abandoned for almost fifty years, are chaotic; the books are in very bad conditions or useless.

Digitalized information does not exist; the entire process is manual.  In addition, who is interested in this matter, other than the candidate for Spanish citizenship?  Everywhere, inefficiency, indolence and mistreatment are the brake that we have to confront in order to try to look for the documentation. The mental wear, the lines, and the money invested in stamps, trips, snacks, and other expenses are too much, because nobody ever knows how many hours they will have to wait until their turn arrives.  Almost always you invest the whole day on a single effort.

I have succeeded in collecting plenty of supporting papers of my grandfather: his birth certificate, that, incidentally, they sent from Spain at no charge, his and my grandmother’s marriage certificate, my mother’s verbatim birth certificate (denied since the end of 2010), where it is my own grandfather who registers her, his death certificate, plus all the rest of my supporting papers duly authenticated  with their corresponding seals and stamps purchased in Cuban pesos and convertible currency (CUC), as required.

In November it will be three years since I had the consular appointment and I filed all my papers. Months later I was called back to be told of a requirement: demonstrating my grandfather’s presence in Cuba. On that occasion I asked the lady who took care of me if she thought that my grandparents had been able to marry in 1911 on the internet and if furthermore it didn’t seem a bit strange to her that my mother would have been born here in 1912, prior to the invention of artificial insemination. So time is running out and I need the paper from the ship on which my grandfather arrived on this planet, and I keep getting in lines and rummaging through Spanish registries.

Sometimes, when I am about to throw in the towel, I take up the matter again because, having three Spanish grandparents, how can it be possible that I will not be able to acquire that citizenship? What I need most now is a passport that will allow me to visit my children and granddaughters, without causing them so great an expense, and without being crushed by the numerous obstacles to travel imposed on us by the Cuban and Spanish bureaucratic machines.

If the law says that having one Spanish grandparent makes you eligible for citizenship, regardless of whether he or she for any reason acquired Cuban citizenship (the case of grandchildren whose grandparents became Cuban citizens due to the 50% law*). Mine didn’t do it, as the certificate issued by Immigration attests, nor does he appear in workers’ records, because he always worked for himself as a painter and sign-maker.

In the National Archives, where I made the search application in June of 2010, I am told that the volumes from 1900 to 1903 (the dates when we believe my grandfather arrived) are in very bad condition. Where am I going to get that paper they require? I know that this is my own problem, that I am not a magician, that I look for papers that are too old. Nevertheless, I continue obstinately following Spain’s footprints, and I think all this bureaucratism on both sides is like the Olé! – there is no explanation for it.

I earnestly beg anyone who can help me to contact me through my blog.

*Translator’s note: a Cuban law that required that 50% of a business’s employees be Cuban citizens.

October 2 2011

On Wednesday, September 28th, the newspaper Granma published on its front page an editorial titled: New Injustice of the United States against the Five Heroes.

René González, one of the five Cuban spies jailed in the US, will be released this coming October 7th after having served and suffered in its totality the brutal and unjust sentence imposed on him, says the newspaper.

That is the first manipulation. What the editorial does not say is that the sentence includes the three years of supervised release, which logically must be served in the territory where the crime was committed. That would actually be the TOTALITY of the sentence.

It is logical that Judge Joan A. Lenard, of the Southern District of Florida, denied the motion filed by René, in which he requested his return to Cuba to join his wife and daughters.

The Judge’s decision in no way constitutes a deliberate additional reprisal, as the editorial states.

It is not moral in our country to speak of abusive treatment, solitary confinement and extended periods of psychological torture, precisely here, where prison sentences of up to twenty-five years have been imposed on people whose only crime has been to express their ideas publicly. Let us recall the so-called Black Spring, when seventy-five independent journalists were unjustly imprisoned after surprise raids of their residences in which typewriters, pens, papers and other personal effects were impounded as weapons. Neither should we forget the three adolescents who were executed after an expedited summary trial, for attempting to hijack a boat in the bay of Havana, without having inflicted any abuse or injury to its occupants.

To speak of inhuman treatment applied to these five heroes, when they have enjoyed hygienic cells, clean clothes, computers, visits from their families and the occasional famous actor, and have even played chess matches on the Internet with young people here on the island, seems like a mockery. I think we should stop throwing rocks at our neighbor, knowing, as we do, that our house is made of glass.

Translated by: Espirituana

September 29 2011