Stories from Quick Reads and Cuba
On September 1, 2014 the Customs Service of the Republic of Cuba will begin enforcing new regulations intended to combat illegal trafficking of merchandise by relatives, friends and ‘mules’ (a slang term for couriers of goods from overseas through airports and port facilities).
Iván's File Cabinet considers this “one more turn of the screw”, explaining that since 2011, there have been new measures every year to try and stop the illegal importation of goods by families and private businesses on the island.
Abuse at school is an issue that is rarely discussed in the national media, but it affects hundreds, even thousands, of students across the country.
Generacion Y blogs about bullying in Cuba.
One side questioned the silence of the press on issues of interest to the public and the other cast doubt on the convenience of publishings posts with ‘incendiary’ news.
Havana Times looks at the divide between journalists and bloggers, making the point that this “runs counter to the fusion that takes place in cyberspace.”
Havana Times explores the origin of a controversial idiom that brings into focus “the sexual idiosyncrasies of people in the Caribbean and those of Cubans in particular.”
The founder and director of the legendary Cuban ensemble Los Van Van, the bassist Juan Formell, died in Havana, Cuba, on May 1st. He was 71 years-old. For the last 45 years, Formell and Los Van Van have been inspiring people to dance with their Cuban rhythm. Los Van Van, and Formell, are some of the most beloved Cuban musicians in the world. Blogger, journalist and Global Voices author, Rafael González Escalona, says in an article for “On Cuba”:
There are bad, mediocre and magnificent musicians. And there's a tiny club of musicians destined to radically change the soundscape of a country. And if anyone in Cuba is a member of the VIP club, that is Juan Formell.
Perhaps the best way to celebrate the life and legacy of Juan Formell is dancing. With this in mind, let's see if you can remain seated during the 2004 Los Van Van concert in the Karl Marx theater in Havana:
In an emotional post by Rafael González, author of the blog El Microwave, he questions: Are any of us willing to sacrifice time, prestige, fortune and emotional stability in support of an improbable change in the climate of the state of affairs in Cuba?
The author builds on multiple issues which the current Cuban society has yet to resolve.
El basurero recoge los desechos cómo y cuándo le parece; que el médico tiene –conscientemente o no– instaurada la cultura del regalo como método de sobrevivencia; que el abogado solo está buscando cómo extraerle algunos pesos de más al cliente; que a los comerciantes no les basta con lucrar irracionalmente sino que encima pretende –y logra– robarte en la mercancía; que los maestros han confundido, en el mejor de los casos, la instrucción con la cultura, cuando no han llegado a sucesos como el de Waterpre.
The garbage man picks up the rubbish how and when he feels up to it; the physician has –consciously or not– imposed the gifting economy as a method of survival; the attorney is only searching for ways to take away yet a few more pesos from the client; it's not enough for the shopkeeper to profit unreasonably, but also sets out –and achieves– to short you your goods; the teachers have confused, in most cases, an education with culture, when happenings like the Waterpre haven't even surfaced.
“What is left for us with such outlook?,” asks the author.
Al periodismo –periodistas mediante– le queda recuperar su responsabilidad social como bien público que es, y a la sociedad en general reasumir esa condición ética que –dicen– atraviesa nuestra historia y explota de tanto en tanto.
In journalism–by means of reporters– accountability of the social responsibility has yet to be recovered as a public asset, and as a society in general, resuming that ethical status –which they say– runs through our history and exploits from time to time.
“If so much discontent exists and so many sense the issues and its probable causes, why is that nothing changes?,” he questions once again.
No tenemos líderes (…) el no tener líderes es fatal para cualquier proceso de transformación social, por más inquietudes ciudadanas que hayan.
We are leaderless(…) not having leaders is fatal to any social transformational process, no matter how many citizen's concerns there are.
Since the remarks, Disamis Arcia points out:
No puede evitar preguntarte si entonces tiene que existir primero un líder para que la gente se mueva, o si la indiferencia esta que padecemos in extensus no tiene causas más jodidas que la inexistencia de liderazgo.
One can not fail to ask if a leader needs to exist, in order for the people to take action, or if the indifference that we suffer from in extensus is stemmed from no other than the damned nonexistence of leadership.
Cuban diaspora blog My big, fat, Cuban family shares 59 “wonderful truths” about aging.
The worst news for black and mixed-race Cubans is that there are no independent legal institutions that protect them in the face of government neglect.
Iván's File Cabinet reports that non-whites are still marginalized in Cuba.
A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.
A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.
“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”