On August 13th, Fidel Castro became 87 years old. He has been out of power since he got very ill in 2006 and retired in 2008. Seven years have gone by. We were told by the world mass media that Raúl Castro did not have the wherewithal to rule. And yet, there has been no political or social challenge to the successful transition. Indeed, Cuba has been more stable than many countries in Europe. Moreover, the influence and expansion of ties with the world have increased. And Raul Castro might even have more legitimacy than expected.
ON many occasions, I have asked my students what might be the principal reasons to support for saying that it’s good to live in Cuba. The majority of the responses refer to universal health care, education, social security. These are precisely the pillars of our socialist model, but they constitute, for many young people, common realities of our daily lives, thus becoming altogether customary, frozen in the popular discourse, practically irrelevant as a result of constant repetition.
I would go so far as to say that there is a Cuban model of wellbeing that has been incorporated with such uncritical familiarity that it has become invisible to us, paradoxically more often noted by those who are no longer here, after having lost it, or by visitors who live in other realities in their countries of origin. In daily life in Cuba, most conversation is generally about the difficulties, above all those of an economic nature. Very rarely is there talk of our assets or strengths.
Cubans are well known to enjoy a good party and this July sees special festivities across the island. On 26 July Cubans will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ill-fated military uprising, led by the young lawyer Fidel Castro which, despite ending in disaster, marked the beginning of the end of the Batista dictatorship. A group of Cuban musicians, artists and photographers living in Britain are bringing the party to London on Saturday 20 July.
In March 1952, Fulgencio Batista carried out a coup, one month before elections were due to be held, to seize control of Cuba for the second time. Fidel Castro, who was among the frustrated electoral candidates, saw the democratic path to change closed and set up a clandestine network of activists to carry out a military uprising. On 26 July 1953, 135 rebels attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba while another 40 hit at the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo. Their plan was to take control of the military installations and distribute armaments to the Cuban people to spark a revolution.
“U.S. government hypocrisy has grown so pervasive over the last decades that it provokes yawns and glazed looks.”
- Saul Landau
Dear President Obama,
I want to send you this letter for two reasons.
First, because here in Cuba, New Mexico me and my family voted for you. We all are in favor of a change we can believe in. And we need it!
Second, because me, my family and neighbors were happy, impressed and a little surprised to learn that despite all the school closings in Chicago and the over 50,000 homeless people living in the streets of New York you thought of us, Cuba residents and American citizens.
We were amazed when we learned that you said, “Cuba’s future must be freely determined by the Cuban people. Sadly, that has not been the case for decades, and it is not the case today. The people of Cuba deserve the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as anyone else. And so the United States is going to continue supporting the basic rights of the Cuban people.” And we say AMEN!
We could not have said it any better. You cannot believe how many times our political/voting rights have been violated and our ballots lost. Imagine we are asked to vote only on where the speed traps that finance our small towns us should be! Yes, we want our rights, freedom and opportunities.
I am a Cuban who has lived in London for six years. I came to this country for family reasons and I appreciate the opportunities this country has given me. However, I continue to defend my country and I cannot remain silent while it is slandered with impunity in the media, in international institutions, by disreputable politicians and internationally recognised NGOs, just because it has a different system.
When it comes to respecting the rights of dissidents and respecting dissent, we must begin by hearing the claims of Cuba – a hardened dissident in defence of its rights as a nation.
I have read Amnesty International’s reports about the impact of the blockade imposed on the Cuban people and your advocacy for definitively ending it. I thank this important international organisation for that. I also appreciate your position in support of the Cuban Five.
On March 1st, 1982, Cuba was added to the U.S. Department of State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Why? Because “at the time, numerous U.S. government reports and statements under the Reagan Administration alleged Cuba’s ties to international terrorism and its support for terrorist groups in Latin America,” says a 2005 Congressional Research Services report.
That was then; this is now. Visit the State Department’s website ; the few paragraphs that detail Cuba’s designation on the list actually read more like reasons to remove Cuba from the list. Now is the time for the United States to show its sincerity in pursuing a path toward improved relations with Cuba. It’s long overdue that we join the rest of the world in recognizing that Cuba is not a threat, but rather a potential partner in the western hemisphere. And if not a partner, then at least not an adversary. Cuba says it is ready and willing to move in that direction. Is the United States? While the majority of U.S. citizens want to engage with Cuba, the White House doesn’t seem to be hearing us.
Signed Photo of Sting & Andy Summers (The Police) by Jill Furmanovsky
A massive thanks to famous photographer Jill Furmanovsky (founder of Rockarchive) for her donation to our Send a Piano to Cuba project (www.gofundme.com/pianotocuba) - two amazing original photographs of rock superstars Sting and Andy Summers (The Police) plus a signed copy of her book The Moment, 1970-1995.
The prints are signed by Sting and Summers themselves, as well as by internationally acclaimed Furmanovsky herself. The items are being auctioned by Givergy and the money will go to our project to donate a grand piano to the Amadeo Roldan music school in Havana. Please support us by bidding and sharing the auction link with your friends.
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ – or so they say. Not so for the ultra-right in Miami which has contrived to ban concerts organised in Washington, New York, Texas and Tampa by Cuban duo Buena Fe. Their crime? Comments honouring Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, following his death on 25 November 2016. The tour was organised by Blue Night Entertainment who explained that they ‘decided to cancel the tour’ to avoid upsetting ‘the Cuban community in the United States.’ In reality, it is a small but vociferous minority within that community which imposes such censorship.