Tag Archives: Fidel

From Latin America to the Arab World

From Latin America to the Arab World – What’s going on in Libya?

Santiago Alba Rico and Alma Allende – español

Translation: Machetera

We have the impression that a great worldwide liberation process may be aborted by the unappeasable ferocity of Gaddafi, U.S. interventionism, and a lack of foresight in Latin America.

We might describe the situation like this: in a part of the world linked once again to strong internal solidarities and from which only lethargy or fanaticism was expected, a wave of popular uprisings have arisen which have threatened to topple the allies of Western powers in the region, one after the other.  Independent of local differences, these uprisings have something in common that radically distinguishes them from the orange and rose colored “revolutions” promoted by capitalism in the former Soviet bloc: they demand democracy, certainly, but far from being fascinated by Europe and the United States, they are the holders of a long, entrenched, radical anti-imperialist tradition forged around Palestine and Iraq.  There’s not even a hint of socialism in the popular Arab uprisings, but neither is there one of Islamism, nor – most importantly – of Euro-centric seduction: it is simultaneously a matter of economic upheaval and democratic, nationalistic and anti-colonial revolution, something that, forty years after their defeat, suddenly opens an unexpected opportunity for the region’s socialist and pan-Arabist left. Continue reading

Arturo Hernández’s brilliant career: defending money launderers, drug & arms traffickers, and terrorists

The devil in white, Luis Posada Carriles, center. Arturo Hernández in Miami Vice attire at right.

The good informant and the bad informant

By Alejandro Armengol, Cuaderno de Cuba, El Nuevo Herald

Translation: Machetera

Like a Cuban Perry Mason, the attorney Arturo Hernández, who leads the legal defense team for Luis Posada Carriles, has delivered to the court not only what according to him is sufficient proof to dismiss the three charges against his client, but also to solve the crime.

Hernández explained that one of the declassified documents possessed by federal prosecutors contains “alarming revelations” that establish that the 1997 bombings in Havana were ordered by Fidel Castro himself in order to divert attention from the visit of Pope John Paul II.  John Paul II visited Cuba in January of 1998. Continue reading

South of the Border: Oliver Stone y su monstruo del pantano

Traducción del inglés: Atenea Acevedo

Machetera

Vivo en un desierto cinematográfico. Antes había por aquí un cinito tenebroso, pero lo echaron abajo y nos abandonaron a la suerte de Netflix. El piso del viejo cine era pegajoso como el engrudo gracias a los litros de refresco de cola derramados que nadie limpiaba. Según mi papá, no era un mal sitio para ver una peli si llevabas un huacal para subir los pies y una pinza para taparte la nariz.

En todo caso, el perfil demográfico de mi ciudad no es lo máximo. Tampoco sé nada del negocio de la distribución de películas, pero no me sorprende que la gente a cargo de distribuir South of the Border de Oliver Stone se haya saltado mi rincón en el mundo cuando definía la programación del documental el verano pasado. La única opción era organizar una proyección por mi cuenta, pero paso, gracias. Continue reading

South of the Border: Oliver Stone and his swamp thing

Machetera

I live in a cinema wasteland.  We used to have one tiny scary movie theatre here before it was torn down and we were ultimately abandoned to the fate of Netflix.  The floor was positively glue-like, from all the spilled cola that was never cleaned away.  My dad used to say “Not a bad place to watch a movie if you bring a soapbox to put your feet on and a clothespin to hold your nose.”

So the local demographics aren’t great.  And I don’t know anything about the movie distribution business but I’m not totally surprised that the people responsible for distributing Oliver Stone’s South of the Border took a pass on this place back when they were scheduling openings for the documentary last summer.  Unless I was going to organize a screening myself.  Which, thanks, but no. Continue reading

God is in the details

na19fo01

Today, a two-part special: An interview with Fidel earlier this month by the Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron, which appeared on Boron’s blog and was also published at Pagina 12.

Fidel and Boron discussed the G-20 meeting, and the motives for inviting Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to dine with the adults.  And Fidel talked about the recent cabinet changes: “If I expressed an opinion about the change in the cabinet,” he said, “it was due to the necessity to cut off at the root the talk about a conflict between Fidel’s men and those of Raúl. I couldn’t endorse this stupidity by my silence…Raúl is the one who is governing. In Cuba, many people paid with their lives for the victory and consolidation of the Revolution, not just in the Sierra Maestra and in the struggle against Batista. Afterwards, they also killed our literacy teachers in Cuba, and they are still doing it outside of Cuba. The same thing goes on with our doctors, who risk their lives to make socialist internationalism a reality.”

Finally, they discuss the ominous possibility of a rightward political swing in Latin America as a consequence of the economic crisis.

Fidel and the Battle of Ideas

Following his meeting with the Cuban leader, the Argentine sociologist, Atilio Boron, talks about how “Fidel lives surrounded by books and papers. Daily press summaries keep him informed about what’s happening in the world, and in his ever-present notebooks, he jots comments, ideas or questions which go on to make up his Reflections,” he says.

By Atilio A. Boron – Pagina/12

English Translation: Machetera

Fidel doesn’t rest. He remains steadfast in the gap. He hasn’t abandoned, nor will he abandon the struggle. Warrior of so many battles, he continues his relentless hounding of imperialism. His will is indomitable, and as with the best steel, the passage of time, far from nicking it, has only made it harder. He knows that to build a better world, a decisive battle must be won: the battle of ideas. As the faithful heir of Martí, of whom he has not coincidentally spoken as the intellectual author of the attack on the Moncada, he knows as well that one must be cultured to be free. But this culture which leads to liberty should be nourished in the best traditions of critical and emancipatory thought, of which socialism is an indispensable and irreplaceable component.

His prolonged convalescence, which has allowed him to regain his health in a dramatic way, and his distancing from government functions has made it possible for him to cultivate his insatiable intellectual curiosity. But his is not a solipsistic attitude, as it is always guided by the necessity to change the world, not just contemplate it. Few such as he are as aware of the catastrophic outcome that capitalism is pushing upon us, converting the human race and nature into simple commodities to be traded in the marketplace, with the exclusive purpose of making a profit. An intellectual curiosity, we’d say, in which his solid humanistic formation has been enriched by an exceptional political experience, all of which is then socialized in the periodical articles in which he analyzes the most pressing issues of the contemporary scene. Continue reading

Celia Hart, 1962-2008

Celia, A Hurricane of Militancy

Néstor Kohan – Rebelión

Translation: Machetera

It’s an enormous loss.  It seems as though it can’t possibly be true.  Celia Hart Santamaría has just died, along with her brother Abel, in an automobile accident in Havana.  We learned of it last night.  Pablo Kilberg, the tireless friend of the Cuban revolution and of Celia (one and the same), called us and gave us the sad news.  And just now, when she’s missed more than ever!  Such a feeling of impotence.  Such an ugly feeling in the mouth, in the throat, in the stomach.

Everyone presented her as “the daughter of…”  Not that that’s bad.  Her mother was Haydeé Santamaría Cuadrado [1922-1980], a revolutionary militant, emblematic and symbolic of the Cuban Revolution, comrade of Fidel Castro from the first days, assailant of the Moncada barracks, founder of the Casa de las Americas.  Her father, Armando Hart Dávalos [1930 - ], historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, along with Fidel as well, the founder of the July 26 Movement, the Revolution’s Education Minister, and the inspirer of its celebrated literacy campaign.  Besides her parents, Celia counted among her family Abel Santamaría Cuadrado [1927-1953], Fidel’s political collaborator since before Batista’s coup d’etat, later an assailant at the Moncada barracks, captured alive, tortured and killed by the Batista dictatorship.

But Celia was much more than “the daughter of” or the “niece of”.  She had, has and will always have her own light and brilliance.  Who could doubt it? Continue reading

Lage: “The wounds of a war that we have won”

Once during a particularly hard recent time in Cuba, a friend of Machetera’s reminded her that no matter what, the times would never be so bad in Cuba again as they had been during the “Special Period,” the time during the early ’90′s when the ex-Cuban political machine in Miami moved the U.S. government to tighten the screws on Cuba, hoping that in combination with the loss of Soviet support, the Cubans would suffer enough to finally fall to their knees and welcome their tormentors home.

To understand where you are you have to remember where you’ve been.

Carlos Lage’s Speech to the 7th Congress of Cuban Artists & Writers

I’m accustomed, in events such as this one, to writing down my impressions during the speeches, and when the event is over, realizing that they are of no value, tearing them up. This time, I feel obliged to say something and inasmuch as nothing else occurs to me, I’m going to read the notes I wrote while listening to your speeches.

I have read all the documents from this Congress at length, including those from each commission and I have no doubts in describing them as profoundly revolutionary and therefore, critical.

I’m satisfied with having dedicated a few hours of my time to come here: to listen, to learn. It has been useful for me to hear new ideas and other not so new; it’s been useful for me to hear concepts that seem correct and others, that I need more time to think over. I distance myself from the pessimism of a few – luckily only two or three – I identify with the optimism of many, the huge majority.

I understand everyone’s impatience because it is ours. I am encouraged by the faith of many, the great majority, or everyone. I’m worried by those who think that low prices and high income are the outcome of bureaucratic decisions and therefore impossible.

Continue reading

On the 20th anniversary of Cuito Cuanavale

cuba-2.jpg

It’s sort of a telling statement about the utility, or rather, inutility of Wikipedia that the first footnote in its wandering entry on Cuito Cuanavale comes from Cubanet, the U.S. financed anti-Cuba propaganda site. According to Wikipedia, Cuba’s assistance at Cuito Cuanavale, might have helped end apartheid in South Africa. Or it might not have.

If you ask an African about it, there’s not a moment’s confusion or hesitation. Nelson Mandela didn’t have any doubts, so why does Wikipedia? The Cubans’ military contribution, and that of their commander, Fidel Castro, was brilliant and decisive. If you ask a Cuban about it, and I’m talking about a real Cuban, not an ex-Cuban or an anti-Cuban, they’ll recount the details of the battle with an overwhelming, effusive sense of pride, as though the battle occurred yesterday, nearby, not twenty years ago on a distant continent.

Viva Cuba!

The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale – The 20th Anniversary of an Example of International Solidarity

Jose Steinsleger – La Jornada

Havana, near the end of 1984: “Is it worth dying so far away?” The young woman in olive green, sitting next to me in the famous Cuban ice cream parlor, Coppelia, dropped her “compañero” attitude and gave me a fearsome stare of contempt. “Look, sir. This country was made with the blood of millions of slaves.”

Then she turned away and left me there, alone and blushing with embarrassment, with a lost appetite for my stupid icecream.

Continue reading

It’s going to blow!

lange.jpg

Dorothea Lange, Damaged Child, Shacktown, Oklahoma – 1936

* * *

Today Machetera presents a translation of Jorge Altamira’s excellent overview of the growing world economic crisis. It brings to mind Fidel’s description of how he became a communist, as told to Ignacio Ramonet:

On my own I came to the conclusion that the capitalist economy was absurd. What I’d already become, before I’d come into contact with Marxist or Leninist material, was a utopian Communist. A utopian Communist is someone whose ideas don’t have any basis in science or history, but who sees that things are very bad, who sees poverty, injustice, inequality, an insuperable contradiction between society and true development. And I also had an ethics; I told you that our ethics came fundamentally through Martí.

I was helped a very great deal by life, the way I lived, and the way I saw the way I lived. When people talked about the ‘crisis of overproduction’ and the ‘crisis of unemployment’ and other problems, I gradually came to the conclusion that the system didn’t work. The courses in History of Social Doctrines and Labour Legislation, which had texts written or compiled by people who’d been educated in theories of the Left, helped me to think more deeply about these things.

* * *

The Worldwide Capitalist Crisis is Unstoppable

Jorge Altamira – In Defense of Marxism

In mid-February, Nouriel Roubini, a North American university professor whose words are followed closely in the financial trade and daily press, outlined twelve reasons to support his forecast of “a growing probability of a financial unwinding and economic ‘catastrophe’ from the banking crisis in progress” in the United States. In addition, he explained in blunter terms, his “pessimism about the ability of political and financial authorities to manage and contain a crisis of this magnitude.” According to Roubini, “one must prepare for the worst, in other words, for a systemic financial crisis.”(1) Inasmuch as the financial system is the crowning glory of the capitalist system, because it’s where all labor production acquires its value, Roubini’s warning makes clear the tendency toward dissolution of capitalist social relations and the inability of the present political system to deal with such a dissolution. It’s obvious moreover, that “an (unstoppable) financial systemic crisis” will not end at the North American borders. Continue reading

This is a very serious matter and everyone in the rheum is under the suspicions

closeau.jpg

One thing Machetera has to grant El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald is their boundless creativity. At a time when most newspapers in the country are in a well-deserved death spiral and their news bureaus reduced until what remains on the newsstand are thin advertising pamphlets, the ex-Cubans at the Herald keep churning out stories. And if there’s no real news, well, they just make it up.

This weekend’s Herald creations were all about how Raul Castro was way too quiet about the Colombian attack on Ecuador, so that must mean he’s involved in the hostage liberation negotiations. Except that according to documents sourcing from the magic laptop, which only the Herald and Jackson Diehl apparently still take seriously, Chávez had been cutting Havana out of the hostage release action, leaving Cuba feeling “marginalized.” So maybe Raul didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to anger Chávez, the real mastermind behind Colombia’s attack on Ecuador, and thereby cut off Cuba’s Venezuelan oil supply for which by the way, Cuba is WAY behind on its payments because after all they’re communist deadbeats in case you didn’t know.

But that’s not the really juicy story. The juiciest stories are in Spanish, and El Nuevo Herald carries them. They usually have to do with Miami’s favorite obsession: Cuban spies. This week’s source: Mexican intelligence, which of course would never lie. Sure there were some Mexican students killed in that Colombian attack on Ecuador which was all Chávez’s fault, but who set them up to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? A Cuban spy of course. And the Herald knows he’s a spy because he studied in Russia!

Machetera was going to deconstruct all of this, but then compañero Fidel got to it first: Continue reading