During my first years in Havana, I lived in the Habana Libre hotel (the Havana Hilton before the revolution). Every morning, I would head down to the mezzanine to have breakfast at a posh restaurant. I would order a pair of fried eggs that came with thick slices of warm ham beneath, and ask for a serving of fresh cheese on the side.
I knew about the Los Van Van from the very beginning since the orchestra was formed in December 1969, when their songs started to become part of the daily life of Cubans on the island. Back then, I was a skinny little kid, all head and teeth and nothing more. The name of the group came out of the popular enthusiasm generated by the challenge of harvesting 10 million tons of sugarcane in 1970.
Maintaining control over all of the media and having the power to decide who manages these and what gets published is probably the dream of many politicians around the world.
Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell under the blows of the sledge hammers and pent-up longings of the people. The wall, an expression of the diabolical mentality of Soviet leaders, had been built between 1961 and 1968. I have to acknowledge that the new world that began to flourish after the fall of that shameful wall has engendered other terrible ills and that other walls that will take long to demolish have been built since. We continue to live in an explosive world marked by increasing inequality, an inhumane world that is full of uncertainty.
Even before the Democrats lost control of the Senate, everybody knew that the President could not count on Congress to modify U.S. policy toward Cuba, so they were asking Obama to make use of his executive powers.
The struggle against corruption in Cuba has proven to be a long-distance race where every lap presents new and more difficult challenges. It’s like opening a Russian nesting doll and finding that the one inside is larger than the first. The Comptroller’s Office is making a huge effort, but it is pitted against a silent army of corrupt and/or inept officials united by common financial interests. They protect and rescue one another as they are “canned.”
In “Normality and Progress in Cuba” (Havana Times, October 30, 2014) Fernando Ravsberg reports on the Cuban television program Circulo de la Confianza (“Circle of Trust”) that he and others discussed the idea of progress and how it applies to Cuba. Although I have used Ravsberg’s argument in my classes, academic conferences and political gathering dealing with the Cuban revolution for the past 25 years I think it is high time to reconsider the idea of progress itself.
It is no secret to anyone that, in the past year, the number of Cubans leaving the country has increased considerably. These migrants try to reach the USA through all imaginable routes, including the most dangerous.
Now that Cuba has decided to definitively (though surreptitiously) change its social model and the structure and foundations of its economy, and the novel figure of the national entrepreneur, stemming from current hierarchies and the corporate parameters to be established by these, will soon begin to flourish on the island.
On Sunday, I was invited to be part of the panel for the Cuban television program Circulo de la Confianza (“Circle of Trust”), organized at Havana’s Fabrica de Arte cultural center. The topic discussed was progress: what the concept meant, whether Cuba was making any progress with its current reforms and what we ought to do to have progress in the future.