Author Archives: machetera

Cuba’s Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States and the Micro-Republic of Miami

tumblr_ls54y12Nd81qa0pmyo1_500Cuba’s Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States and the Micro-Republic of Miami - español aquí

Edmundo García

Translation: Machetera

On Monday, January 14, Cuba’s updated migration policy went into force and one of the listeners of my radio program, La Tarde se Mueve (Afternoon Moves) called in to say that it was as though the floor had been yanked right out from under the Miami critics of the Cuban revolution. They can’t figure out where to stand; they’re completely adrift in the comments they’re making on the radio, TV, and other regular press outlets.

At the end of the program, around 6 pm., I heard Willy Allen, the Cuban American immigration attorney tell Ramon Saul Sanchez on his program for La Poderosa (The Powerful One), “I believe that these measures are barely going to change the situation there (in Cuba),” while Sanchez responded, “But the dissident Guillermo Fariñas says that he’s been told he can go wherever he wants and then return.” Willy answered, “Oh, I didn’t know that, but look, there are hardly any exiles left. For the last 20 years the huge majority of those who come to Miami are immigrants.”

That’s exactly what we’ve been saying every day at La Tarde se Mueve; that this is one of the reasons for Cuba’s updating of its migration policy: the composition of Cuban emigration has changed, particularly in regard to the United States, where it occurs more for economic than political reasons, and this is a reality that must be taken into account. So it turns out that Willy Allen, the braintrust behind the Miami project known as “Repression ID,” dedicated to pursuing Cuban emigrants who’ve supposedly participated in crimes against human rights in Cuba, agrees with us.

The Cuban measures are so disconcerting that Miami’s Cuban American rightwing has been completely disoriented by them. So disoriented in fact that you can see it in Alfonso Chardy’s recent report at El Nuevo Herald about a meeting on U.S. immigration reform that took place in the offices of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Doral. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also attended the meeting. The Cubans were not the main objective but the subject of Cuba’s updated migration policy came up and after both threatened to change or eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act, Diaz-Balart played stupid, saying that these were proposals made by other congressional representatives, other colleagues; while Ileana later swore up and down that she had no plans or intentions regarding eliminating or changing the Cuban Adjustment Act. That’s how confused they are; they can’t even get their story straight.

From Miami and other parts of the world, some tried to deny that the measures are anything new. Since among the skeptics there are some honest people who have nothing to do with the usual reactionaries, I want to say to them that in a way, it’s understandable that some don’t see a huge change in the Cuban migration situation, because for quite some time, these changes have been underway, gradually but convincingly. As was said from the beginning, this is an “updating” and not an overturning, apology or repentant revision of Cuban migration policy.

In a press conference offered on October 24, 2012, the Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, reported that according to official data, between the year 2000 and August 31 of 2012, 99.4% of the exit permits solicited by Cubans were granted. Only 0.6% were denied, for substantiated reasons. In that same period of time, some 941,953 persons traveled abroad for particular reasons, of which 120,975 did not return, a total of 12.8%. Of the total who traveled, 156,068 were university graduates and of those, 10.9% did not return.

According to Acosta, “these statistics confirm that the great majority of Cubans who travel abroad return to Cuba.” Which is to say that an abrupt change in Cuban migration policy does not exist, nor is there any need for one, since the image of Cuba as a tropical gulag or prison from which one cannot leave or enter – as the manipulative major media at the service of foreign interests have historically portrayed it – is simply untrue.

As the data show, Cubans who have really wanted to travel have been doing so regularly without many more limits than those that might exist in any other country. This was confirmed on Monday, January 14, when the new migration measures announced in Cuba’s Official Gazette last October went into force.

At none of the 195 official passport offices was there any kind of unusual crowd or fuss, as the disinformative blogger Yoani Sánchez tried to make it seem. This so-called reporter for the Spanish El País newspaper spent the morning at an immigration office in her neighborhood in Havana and was able to complete the paperwork to travel normally. As she herself acknowledged, she will only have to wait 15 days to collect her new passport; after all, it’s not Yoani’s first trip abroad.

What was definitely a lie was Yoani’s claim that at that hour of the morning there was a line of more than 70 people, with children clinging to their parents, all desperately seeking papers in order to leave Cuba. The Cuban journalist Manuel Lagarde posted photos of the place at his blog, Cambios en Cuba, along with photos of travel agencies and tour operators functioning normally in Havana, something that other media like BBC Mundo also reported- the offices were not mobbed by Cubans trying to leave the country.

The updating of the Cuban migration policy is not something left to chance; it’s a well-considered policy that comes at a very specific moment, following indications from Cuba’s president Raúl Castro in his speeches to the National Assembly, the Sixth Party Congress in 2011 and the National Party Conference in 2012. As Secretary Acosta also said, with these measures “Cuba is not seeking a stamp of approval” from anyone.

A report was drafted based on criteria supplied by a wide-ranging committee of specialists and leaders directed by General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, that was later studied by the Cuban government, where the confluence of a series of factors supported an updating of the policy, among them, the existence of a change in the nature of Cuban emigration. As Colonel Lamberto Fraga, Second Chief at Cuba’s Immigration Directorate said, all policies and procedures were ready to be applied as the measures went into force last Monday.

But that Cuba should make it easier to leave and enter does not mean that it is leaving its national territory at the mercy of its enemies. There are two principles that should never be forgotten: The right of the revolution to defend itself and the right to safeguard the human capital that the revolution created.

How will this work in terms of travel permission for professionals in sensitive sectors like health and sports? It is a question that many have asked and will surely be answered in practice. For the moment, Cuban immigration authorities have made it clear that the people who may not travel, for reasons that are standard at the international level, are those with pending judicial processes, persons who must complete existing criminal sentences, persons who must perform military service (Military Service Law 75) and others who have something to do with questions of specific interest. A number of not entirely well-intentioned persons have asked if the so-called dissidents and opposition will be able to travel. The answer has been given. If they have no pending judicial problems, if they are not at the age of military service, etc., then they may travel, otherwise, no. That’s the law and there’s no reason for exceptions or particularities, so the staged media shows and campaigns are pointless, because Cuba will not be pressured.

As soon as the migration reform was announced in October of 2012, both Victoria Nuland and William Ostick, spokespersons for the U.S. State Department, tried to react with apparent indifference in order to avoid recognizing that the Cuban government had seized the initiative. Suddenly, having posed as champions of freedom to travel, they suggested pressuring third countries not to grant visas to Cubans, under the pretext that they might be used as “trampolines” in order to illegally enter the United States and take advantage of the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act.

Today it is truly indisputable that the United States is more restrictive about entrances to and exits from its territory, than Cuba.  As a result, the press puppets in Miami have been unable to do anything other than repeat the arguments emanating from Washington. Unlike Nuland however, who recently stated that although the United States is not going to change its policy, the Cuban immigration reform seems positive and consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principle of family unity, Miami’s extreme right-wing, led by Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, has dedicated itself to threatening in the local media to rescind the Cuban Adjustment Act as a way of punishing the Cubans.

The news has made Cuba watchers like Jaime Suchlicki appear to have totally lost it; he is claiming there will be a “slow-motion Mariel” exodus rather than a Camarioca of millions. Janisset Rivero of the so-called Democratic Directorate predicted lines several kilometers long at embassies in Havana. And Ninoska Pérez Castellón, having nothing much to say at all, preferred to ask her listeners, some of whom drove her crazy with their celebration of the Cuban migratory changes.

As my friend, the Cuban journalist Iroel Sánchez said, Cuba was ready for the immigration updates. Those who weren’t ready were that part of Miami that although it has yet to win, seems still not to have learned how to lose.

Edmundo García is the host of La Tarde se Mueve in Miami.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

The Cubans are coming! The Cubans are coming!

Panic in Washington: The Cubans are coming! 

Jean-Guy Allard

English translation: Machetera - (español)

Now they don’t even bother to hide their worry: the same politicians who slandered Cuba for decades, saying Cubans “can’t travel,” and even going so far as to draft laws meant to push disaffected Cubans to hurl themselves into the sea, are now rushing to figure out how to stop Cubans from arriving in the United States and, in case they manage to arrive, how to stop them from returning to Cuba.

Victims of the traps they themselves set at the height of the Cold War, when the Cuban Revolution, criminally isolated by the blockade, was forced to protect itself by any means, including restrictive migration laws, the Cuban American members of Congress and their clan have suddenly realized that they’ve shot themselves in the foot.  The political structure manufactured to serve U.S. annexationist plans toward Cuba is on red alert and desperately seeking a solution to what it has announced is a dangerous and unexpected invasion by those it has pretended to be defending. Continue reading

Department of double standards: Ángel Carromero

Carromero's deathtrap

Carromero’s deathtrap

Ángel Carromero: How the Spanish media are covering the legal impunity of a homicidal driver

José Manzaneda

Translated by Manuel Talens/Edited by Machetera – (español)

Imagine a man who had his driver license revoked after 46 traffic tickets, 6 of them for high-velocity speeding. Imagine that he then caused the death of two people as a result of driving at excessive speed in a construction zone. [1] The Spanish Criminal code defines this action as “reckless driving resulting in death” and imposes a sentence of several years in prison. [2] No one would believe that such a reckless driver could have TV news and leading newspapers at his beck and call, demanding his release without being countered in any way. Continue reading

Héctor Pesquera on the loose in Puerto Rico

Héctor Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s new Police Chief

Héctor Pesquera, Official Mafioso Hitman Against the Cuban Five, is Chief of Police for Puerto Rico - español

Jean-Guy Allard

Translation: Machetera

Puerto Rico’s governor, Luis Fortuño, has officially named Héctor Pesquera, the former head of the FBI in Miami and the mastermind of a conspiracy that led to the arrest of five Cubans who’d infiltrated terrorist groups in Florida, as the new Superintendent of the Puerto Rican police.

Puerto Rico is facing its most serious wave of crime, violence and corruption in many years.

Pesquera arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, and was immediately escorted by FBI agents to the Federal Building, his “alma mater,” at Chardón Street in Hato Rey, where the federal agency is headquartered.

It was at the request of the Mafioso Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart that Héctor Pesquera directed, organized and carried out the arrest of the Cuban Five, who had been sent to Florida from Cuba in order to fight the terrorist campaigns being waged against the island from that city.  The five were transformed into spies through a huge media show.

Pesquera ordered the mistreatment, solitary confinement, and rigged trial of the five Cuban patriots who remain kidnapped in US territory.

This policeman with multiple connections to Cuban American terrorist fauna, is of Puerto Rican origin, the black sheep of a family with deeply held nationalist convictions. Continue reading

Burson-Marsteller, Alan Gross, and the light at the end of the tunnel

The lesson at the Salpêtrière (1887), by Pierre-André Brouillet (1857 - 1914)

PR as Valium - español, traducido por Manuel Talens, de Tlaxcala


Saltpêtrière is a legendary Parisian hospital.  Built in the 17th century, it was known as the cradle of neurosciences for having hosted great teaching doctors such as Charcot, Babinski and Freud.  In the image above, a famous painting by Pierre-André Brouillet, the French doctor Jean-Martin Charcot is portrayed explaining how to diagnose hysteria in a female patient whose name has gone down in the annals of medical history: Blanche Wittman.

The scene is unmistakably sexist: a roomful of men deciding how to treat a woman for a condition whose very etymology reveals its sexism.  Simply by virtue of the fact that she is a woman, she is at the mercy of their decisions. A victim.  The two nuns waiting to catch Blanche as she collapses are mere voiceless spectators.  The men in this image know everything, the women, nothing.

A century and a quarter later, the story behind this painting suggests nothing so much as the case of Judy Gross, the wife of the USAID contractor imprisoned in Cuba. Paternalism remains very much alive, and both The New York Times and Washington Post confirm this through their participation in the inane media campaign to pressure Pope Benedict XVI to counsel Cuba to exchange Rene González for Alan Gross.  Counseling Cuba, as though it were an unruly child, not a sovereign country, is offensive enough.  But it’s nothing new.  The counsel that Judy Gross is receiving on the other hand, is another matter.  Instead of being treated as an active subject, capable of taking her future into her own hands, Judy’s campaign to bring her husband home is being managed and reported by people who have their own, very different priorities. Continue reading

Rene González and Alan Gross: speed and bacon

Disparates - (español)


I suppose the Latin American term for an apples and oranges comparison is peras y manzanas.  [Pears and apples.]  Somehow it doesn’t have quite the same ring.  In Spain, the expressions are funnier.  No hay que confundir el culo con las témporas. [No need to confuse the ass with the temporal bones].  No confundir churras con merinas.   [Don't confuse the sheep that produces itchy wool with the sheep that makes merino].

But at the moment, thinking of Rene González and Alan Gross, I prefer the Spanish no mezclar la velocidad con el tocino [don't mix up speed and bacon], because it’s an expression that highlights the absurd, and nothing is more absurd than the comparisons that are being marketed by the mainstream U.S. press on behalf of the State Department about these two men. Continue reading

The Cuban Five and the Tricks Ahead

The Cuban Five and the Tricks Ahead - español

By Edmundo García

Translation: Machetera

I’d like to begin this article by making something perfectly clear: If the Government of Cuba agrees to allow Alan Gross to travel to the United States, for whatever period of time or reason, I believe that not even the bones of the anti-terrorist fighter Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, who is currently serving a double life sentence plus fifteen years, will ever see the sun of Cuba again.  That’s what I think, and now I’ll explain. Continue reading

The Marketing of Yoani Sánchez: Translation as invention

Machetera and Manuel Talens - español

“There are no accidents.” – Sigmund Freud

As one might have expected, Bloomberg and Reuters dutifully shaded their reports on the recent visit to Cuba of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff with mentions of the Yoani Sánchez Twitter campaign to pressure Rousseff to intercede on Sánchez’s behalf and persuade the Cuban government to grant her an exit visa to attend a propaganda event in Brazil.

That’s not so surprising.  Sánchez is an egomaniac, for sure, insisting that anyone should care in the first place, when her compatriots Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez O’Connor have been denied entry visas by the United States for more than a decade to visit their husbands (Rene González Sehwerert and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, two of the Cuban Five) unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.  - but if all she has to do is tweet and the press come running, judging the tweet as equal in value to Rousseff’s criticisms of the U.S. gulag at Guantánamo, well, that’s not really her fault – it’s just part of a marketing plan that counts on press complicity. Continue reading

Soviet rubles, Cuba’s debt, the Paris Club and simple math

Marc Frank, writing for Reuters, reports today that the Paris Club is looking to re-open negotiations with Cuba regarding its foreign debt, and mentions Cuba’s outstanding debt to Russia of 20 billion Soviet rubles as a stumbling block.

In 2001, when the Economist wrote about Cuba’s Soviet ruble debt, it pegged the value of that 20 billion debt at $690 million USD, while pointing out that in 1991, 20 billion rubles equaled $11.8 billion.  If you check the Russian ruble -> USD conversion rate today, you’ll find that a 20 billion Russian ruble debt is currently worth $662 million.  What will it be worth next year?  What was it worth in 1997? Continue reading

Sticky fingers at “Ladies in White” in Cuba

Cuban “Ladies in White” Suspect Recently Deceased Leader of Embezzling $20,000español

Jean-Guy Allard
Translation: Machetera

Rumors in Havana circulate at lightning speed.  Sources close to the “Ladies in White” [Damas de Blanco] reveal that upon taking charge of the mini-group and reviewing its finances, Berta Soler had the disagreeable surprise of learning that some $20,000 was missing from the organization which is openly funded by the United States.

The “Ladies” founder, Laura Pollán, died on October 14 at the Calixto Garcia Hospital, at the age of 63, victim of cardiac arrest “aggravated by diabetes, hypertension and dengue.”

The discovery of the group’s missing funds came about in a meeting where the 48 year old Soler, who’d acted as second in command until Pollán’s death, was confirmed as the new leader.  The rivalry between the two women who competed for favors from the U.S. diplomatic post in Havana (known as the U.S. Interests Section – USIS) was well known. Continue reading