Tag Archives: darsi ferrer

Understanding the difference between pobreza and miseria

After the rain in Haiti - Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP

Just back from Cuba where he attended the launch of the Spanish translation of his book, “A People’s History of Science: Miners, Midwives and ‘Low Mechanicks'” at the Havana International Book Fair, Cliff Conner posted a brief note about his visit at the CubaNews listserve.  (The other People’s History guy, Howard Zinn, called Conner’s book “a delightfully refreshing new look at the history of science” and judging from the standing room only reception Conner received in Cuba, I’m guessing it’s likely well worth the read.)  At any rate, Conner’s note apparently stirred up a hornet’s nest of outrage from a couple of ex-Cubans, who it seems responded with the usual tired diatribe about “dissidents,” defectors, etcetera.

How U.S. soldiers helped Haiti prepare for the rain - Photo: Seth Robson, Stars & Stripes

Conner’s response is gracious, far more gracious than I would have been, but then this blog is called Machetera for a reason.  I asked for permission to re-post his letter here because I think it is well worth having as a reference, especially for those who’d like to make a case about the Cuban revolution failing to address poverty in Cuba.

People like for instance, Darsi Ferrer, the State Department’s new “Cuban dissident” poster child, who aside from his interest in secondhand cement, is also an aspiring filmmaker.  Really, I’d rather not call even more attention to this guy but his film, co-produced with help from CANF and some German and Czech “NGO’s” (the Czechs, always the Czechs) would make you laugh if it were not so deadly serious.  Darsi, dressed in a white doctor’s coat, with a stethoscope draped around his neck – in case you forgot he was a doctor – complains to the camera in all seriousness about the “miseria” everywhere in Cuba, caused by inadequate housing and lack of common medicines.  He does this monologue without ever breathing a word about the blockade, while his wife paws through grocery bags full of clothing straight off the boat from Miami (was that a magenta thong or brassiere near the end?), doling out pieces one by one to their very ordinary and quite healthy looking Cuban neighbors.  The film begins and returns to shots of people collecting water from pipes coming out of a wall, as though this is something terribly shocking, and you have to think that it is tragic really that Ferrer couldn’t go do a medical mission in Haiti so he could learn how people get their water there.  The whole production is scored with haunting music from the Holocaust genre in case you still didn’t get the point, and I’m sure it plays very well in drawing rooms on Capitol Hill but it’s junk.  Pure, expensive, U.S. bought and paid for junk.

Here’s Conner:

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A few weeks ago CubaNews published a report I wrote of a visit in February to the Havana International Book Fair, in which I offered some observations about what I had seen in Cuba. I received (via some friends I had sent the report to) a set of thoughtful comments on it from a couple of Cuban ex-pats. I thought their commentary was worth a reply, so I wrote one; it is appended below. (The names of the people I addressed it to and the names of the Cuban ex-pats have been changed because I do not have their permission to use them.)

Hi Rhonda and George,

Greetings from Mexico City.

Thanks for sending me Jaime and Alejandro’s comments on my “report” from Cuba.  Yes, I did find them very interesting and worthwhile, although I am quite sure that they and I would have to “agree to disagree” about a number of things regarding their former homeland. I will try to respond to what they wrote point-by-point, and will ask you to kindly pass this on to them.

Marush and I entirely agree with them about the tackiness of the Tropicana show, but I described it the way I did because I didn’t want to seem like a cultural snob. Besides, on a certain level, if you suspend your critical judgment, it can still be quite enjoyable. I also agree that the renovation process going on in Habana Vieja is better described as “restoration” than “reconstruction.”

I certainly don’t think of all Cubans living in the United States as ultra-right-wing fanatics. I do think that an ultra-right element dominated the first generation of post-revolutionary refugees, and still has a lot of political clout, but it seems that the younger generation (which apparently includes Jaime and Alejandro) is not nearly as politically homogeneous as their elders.

Although I wrote my report in a somewhat neutral voice, I am in fact a strong partisan of the Cuban economic system in contrast to the system that afflicts our country and most of the rest of the world. I adopted the neutral tone because in the context of the current (abysmally uninformed) American political discourse, even that will seem shockingly pro-Cuba to most of the people I sent it to. I wasn’t trying to be deceptive; I simply didn’t intend it to be an ideological manifesto. Continue reading


U.S. State Department’s latest prefab Cuban “dissident:” Darsi Ferrer

This morning the U.S. State Department revealed its latest pawn in the overthrow game it’s playing with Cuba: Darsi Ferrer, a Cuban doctor currently under arrest in Cuba, to whom it granted Honorable Mention in its 2009 Freedom Defenders award sweepstakes.  A few questions come to mind.  Who won First Prize?  Second?  Third?  Is this sweepstakes the State Department’s best kept secret, only pulled out for public display when Washington worries that the media buzz is starting to dry up on its prefabricated Cuban dissidence campaign or the hunger strike recruitment is flagging?

The story put out by the anti-Cuba lobby on Ferrer is that he was arrested for possessing a couple of bags of stolen cement but that this is a cover for the real reason for his arrest, which has more to do with his “dissident” activities.  I have no idea what Ferrer was actually charged with but I’m guessing that dissidence isn’t a reason for arrest in Cuba either…treason is, however.  Atilio Boron explains:

Dissidents or Traitors?en español

Atilio A. Boron

Translation: Machetera

The “free press’ in Europe and the Americas – the one that lied shamelessly about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or described the putschist regime of Micheletti in Honduras as “interim” – has redoubled its ferocious campaign against Cuba. As a result, it’s important to distinguish between the true reason for it, and the pretext.  The first, which establishes the global framework for this campaign, is the imperial counter-offensive launched near the end of the Bush administration, and whose most resounding example was the reactivation and mobilization of the Fourth Fleet. Contrary to the predictions of certain gullible people, this policy, dictated by the military-industrial complex, was not merely continued but reinforced by the recent treaty signed by Obama and Colombia’s President Uribe, through which the United States is to be granted the use of at least seven military bases in Colombian territory, diplomatic immunity for all U.S. personnel affected by these operations, license to bring in or remove any kind of cargo without authorities in the host country being able to register what’s coming in or going out, and the right of U.S. expeditionary forces to enter or leave Colombia using any kind of i.d. card whatsoever attesting to their identity.  As if all that were not enough, Washington’s policy of recognizing the “legality and legitimacy” of the coup d’etat government in Honduras and the subsequent fraudulent elections is yet one more example of the perverse continuity that links policies implemented by the White House, regardless of the skin color of its principal occupant.  And in this general imperial counter-offensive, the attack and destabilization of Cuba plays an extremely important role. Continue reading