Now who signs the letters?

Buying a car is like one of those Indiana Jones adventures: you can end up with a heart attack, or a ten-year wait.  For a long time it was only possible to get a car as a part of the distribution based on merit.  An outstanding worker, with thousands of volunteer hours or a mission as a soldier to Angola or Ethiopia, might consider himself lucky if he was allowed to acquire a Moskovich or a Lada.  Professionals of the highest rank would compete in the universities and study centers for the small allocations of automobiles.  Meanwhile, government officials could aspire to more modern models, which would be repaired in the State’s own workshops.

When the pipe that carried the subsidy from the Kremlin to here collapsed, the distribution of appliances and cars based on merit ended.   It began to work in another way, with money as the medium of exchange to get a vehicle.  However, a selective filter was maintained to get the right to buy one of the newcomers, such as a Citroen, Peugeot or Mitsubishi.  The old cars acquired before 1959 can be sold, but transferring ownership of the cars obtained for labor or ideological qualities is prohibited.  The regulations ended up stipulating that what was acquired in those years of “Real Socialism” is only half owned, non-transferable and easily confiscated.

To this day, although some shops display modern all-terrain air-conditioned minibuses, no Cuban can order and buy a car simply by having the money; they must have a letter of authorization in advance, which takes years of paperwork.  The process includes an exhaustive investigation into the origins of the funds, along with verification of the ideological purity of the buyer.  For almost a decade, the signature on this safe-conduct was that of Carlos Lage, vice president of the Council of Ministers, who was thrown out of office a few weeks ago.  So, in the midst of the astonishment caused by his removal people are asking, “Now who’s going to sign the letters to get a car?”


  1. I thought back in 1959, every family in Cuba had been promised a small car by the maximum leader. The ignorance of these people, and of how an economic engine works was and is appalling and is only overshadowed by their greed for “the honey of power”. From what I understand, and I could be wrong, none of the brothers ever graduated from the University.

    Lesson to be learned: Just because a politician has what the Irish call “the gift of gab” does not mean he can deliver anything or even close to it. Quite the opposite, as history proves over and over again, what they can deliver to a country and its people a is disastrous calamity gift wrapped in flowery words.

    Whether in Cuba or in a western democracy, one must be ever weary of these types and instead look at their history and resume very closely to determine qualifications, just as anyone else applying for a job.

  2. ***
    Put the Casto Brothers in the trunk of a ’55 Chevy and drive it into the sea! This will fix a lot of problems.
    Pongan los hermanos Castro en la cahuela de un Chevy “55 y manejala abajo del mar! Mejorara muchas problemas.
    John Bibb

  3. The 2009 Time 100 Finalists

    Yoani Sanchez

    AGE: 33

    OCCUPATION: Blogger


    PRO: The founder of Generación Y — an English-language website that keeps tabs on the Cuban government — Sánchez cuts through censorship and media propaganda, providing a voice for millions of readers and constituents.

    CON: Her job has attracted unwanted attention from the government, which now keeps round-the-clock surveillance on her house.,28804,1883644_1883653_1884568,00.html

    Please Vote For Yoani Sanchez…

  4. After reading this posting and several before I am totally convinced that “Yoani Sanchez” is the creation of someone or thing in siber space. The for going article has no meaning other than to excite those who write before giving thought to what they are typing. Their diarrhea has no thought nor meaning. Those who spout hatrated of a Country trying to struggle under the muscle of the Imperialist from the North would only take time to look at the other side of the page they would have a totally different stance.

  5. #6 How do you explain her identity card with her photo and number if she doesn’t exist? How do you explain the summonses from State Security calling her in for interrogations if she doesn’t exist? How do you explain that Fidel himself complained about her if she doesn’t exist. Oh forget the last one. Since he lives on his own little fantasy island where white is black and night is day and up is down… we won’t consider his opinion.

  6. 291 RCR in #5

    I do make typos too, but “siber space” is spell “cyberspace” in one word.

    Let us first analyze this

    “Yoani Sanchez” is the creation of someone or thing in siber space.”

    Yes “Yoani Sanchez” is the creation of Yoani Sanchez so nothing wrong there! If you claim is someone else then give us a proof. As they say “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
    What Andy explained above is sufficient proof to show that the “Yoani Sanchez” that writes this is the Yoani Sanchez that claims to write this! The Cuban State Security has convinced us that is what it is! Same with the comments by Fidel and also the comments by Mariela Castro…

    Second statement

    “The for going article has no meaning other than to excite those who write before giving thought to what they are typing.”

    Most blog post in any blog are design to excite people, to get them to react to what is written. specially a political blog.
    As to having not meaning I believe you are wrong there.

    She is obviously complaining in the last few post about the byzantine rules created by the Castro brothers with the objective of acquiring something that for any of us is very simple. This in Cuba not only happen for Cars as she has explained it also happen when one is trying to exit a country etc. Can you see a pattern of behavior?

    She is demonstrating with examples that the Castro dictatorship takes very good care of controlling their citizens. They are not free to do certain things unless the government give the seal of approval first and as we suspect that seal of approval is given only if you “behave correctly”.
    By “behaving correctly” I mean – You do not criticize the government or react against the government.
    So as you can see there is a lot of meaning in what she writes is for you to interpret it.

    Is it correct for her to criticize the government? I say Yes since she is doing the same you do when you call “our government an imperialism government”. So it seems you are free to criticize our government and from reading what you write it also seems like you are saying that she should not criticize hers? Do you think that is Just?

    “Those who spout hatrated of a Country trying to struggle under the muscle of the Imperialist from the North would only take time to look at the other side of the page they would have a totally different stance.”

    As for this last statement it got nothing to do with hate this is always the same recourse the Castro Brothers have use to deflect critics.
    The fact is that the Obama administration is actually very friendly towards Cuba and If Cuba was a little more flexible they will probably open full relations but we know is not in the best interest of the Castro brothers to have that happen.

    “Country trying to struggle under the muscle of the Imperialist”

    To what struggle are you referring to here?

  7. On post 1:

    Ok, I stand corrected. The elder Castro did graduate with a Law Degree. But a lawyer does not an economist or scientist make. As far as Raul, he was expelled from school and it appears never went back.

    To post no. 5:

    If you have something to say, be specific, substantiate it and say it. And stick to facts while you are at it. I thought Marxists were supposed to abide by the scientific method. Don’t just do as a trained seal and react to commands, or romantic infatuation with an old discredited dictator.

  8. I was researching a bit about

    How a regime like Cuba works?

    I have here a link to the famous Stanford Experiment and Milgram Experiments
    Both are similar in nature
    Authority and abuse of authority.

    Both experiments show how easy it is to make a group of people commit horrible acts against another group of people when they are order to do so.

    Please follow the links if you are not familiar with the experiments so to learn what happen when people are subjected to this conditions.

    The similarities with the regime in Cuba are important.

    My question is

    Can we make something so the the prisoners will stand for their rights?
    How can we make the prisoners revolt or make the system change?
    Those experiments did not address how to make the prisoners gain freedom again.
    That is the fundamental question we need to answer for our brothers in Cuba.

  9. One of the interesting lines of the Stanford experiment

    “The experiment’s result has been argued to demonstrate the impressionability and obedience of people when provided with a legitimizing ideology and social and institutional support.”

    That has the Cuban regime written all over it.

  10. This paragraph

    “Guards forced the prisoners to count off repeatedly as a way to learn their prison numbers, and to reinforce the idea that this was their new identity. Guards soon used these prisoner counts as another method to harass the prisoners, using physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. Sanitary conditions declined rapidly, made worse by the guards refusing to allow some prisoners to urinate or defecate. As punishment, the guards would not let the prisoners empty the sanitation bucket. Mattresses were a valued item in the spartan prison, so the guards would punish prisoners by removing their mattresses, leaving them to sleep on concrete.”

    can easily be translated into all the things that Yoani have described to us.
    I guess I will not have to spell all the similarities.

  11. Now for just a second think that this experiment at Stanford was done for only 6 days of the 14 planned
    think then
    Cubans have 50 years!!!


    Even if you scape you still remember!

  12. Or this other line quoting Zimbardo (The experimenter of the Stanford)

    “You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me, and they’ll have no privacy… We’re going to take away their individuality in various ways. In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. That is, in this situation we’ll have all the power and they’ll have none.”

    Andy, this line above describes what it feels to live in a regime like Castro’s.

  13. The Milgram experiment also explain how all this evil came to Cubans little by little
    Loosing everything.

    Some how the Castro brothers knew about this experiments or discover the solutions to control people the way they do on their own.

  14. By the end of the Zimbardo’s TED talk conference he mentions that heroism is the antidote to evil.

    That is Yoani!

    So the solution to the Cuban problem is more like her.

    More that are not afraid to put their name and full identity against what they see as wrong!

    Julio de la Yncera

  15. As important, or more so, than teaching the prisoners to resist, it seems to me… is teaching the “sub” oppressors to stop oppressing. Even the great and all-powerful Fidel could not control 11 million people single-handedly. He needs to convince an army of people to go in with him. More work needs to be done on the mentality — like the very normal people in the stanford experiment — of those who are so easily persuaded to become oppressors. They are another kind of ‘prisoner’.

    Where are our friends from Poland and Romania? How do all the people, watching each other, spying on each other, etc etc… how do they change their way of thinking? Or do they ever? Does the system only slowly die — even after “liberation” — when all the people die and the generations turn over?

  16. That is a very good point Andy that you bring in 18
    “teaching the “sub” oppressors to stop oppressing”

    I would have to say that in Havana it seems to be working.
    Let me explain
    The dictators have mentioned in some speech that they are having a hard time recruiting people from Havana city to be policemen so they are force to bring people from the provinces like from the eastern part of Cuba.

    If you think that explains a bit why the prohibit people from the Eastern part of Cuba to voluntarily migrate to Havana. So they incentivate people that become policemen from the west with the stay in Havana where the standard of living is much higher than in the provinces.

    The other example I like to bring is Hilda Molina
    someone who used to be part of the system. I am sure in her live prior to been against the system she saw people being oppress and did nothing.

    The fact is that anybody supporting the system in cuba can be a victim of the system
    Examples: The most recent are Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
    Who would have thought about these two loosing their post?

    So the reality is that nobody is safe in Cuba no matter how high the position in the goverment is!

    Except Fidel Castro and Raul Castro!

    They seem to be beyond any laws!

  17. I like this quote mentioned by Dr Zimbardo in his TED talk

    “The line between Good and Evil Cuts through the heart of every human being” by Alexandre Solzenitsyn the Russian writer.

    To mean that we as individuals need to make a choice. We know what is Good and what is Evil and we are capable of both. Sort of similar to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

    If there is laws that are evil you do not need to follow them. Just because someone place them there in the constitution it does not make it right!

    As individual we are responsible for the choices we make. Make the right choice!

  18. Andy

    “Even the great and all-powerful Fidel could not control 11 million people single-handedly”

    They control people in pyramid fashion the same way rulers in old monarchies controlled people.
    They have few under them with more privileges that the rest and so on until you get to the bottom (“El cubano de a pie”) the standing Cuban!

    The standing Cuban is the one suffering the system and the one that needs to come to the realization that the solution is in his own hands.

  19. Incidentally I went to Alexa
    that allows to compare sites

    and Yoani’s site compare to the Granma site is on par and some times gets more hit that Granma!!

    Yoani with only a Blog getting more hits than the official Cuban government news paper !!

    This is a case of David against Goliath!

  20. #24 I wonder if she would get MORE votes if they spelled her name right in the headline?!?!?!?!? Everyone write Time Magazine!

  21. Hi everyone writing here, Silent voice and Andy, good comments, our Yoani is going to be again in Time magazine and that will be good fo r the cuban cause. Cuban artists first become famous abroad and then get recognition in the island. Thi smeans that internatioal recognition will force cubans to make an effort to read what this girl writes despite the prohibitins they have there to freely get into the internet.

  22. So, does anyone know what happens to a high level government official like Carlos Lage when he/she is ‘removed’ from office in Cuba? Do they loose their government job totally or are they put in some lesser, different function? I mean do they suddenly find themselves begging on the streets? Why was Carlos Lage removed?

    I hope my question doesn’t offend anyone. Thanks.

  23. No Name #28

    I think it depends on the person.

    We know that Roberto Robaina who was in the same situation now dedicate his life to painting!
    I understant that some of his painting are in some miami Gallery!!

    I am not sure if Lage or Perez Roque know how to paint.

    It most be truly hard for those people fallen from grace!
    Specially since they know exactly what the system does to those people!
    So is like a sick patient that knows what the Disease will do to him.

    For others in government positions in Cuba. You can be in the same place that Lage and Roque are now. Why support a government that use you and once you are no use to them discard you like discarding toilet paper?

  24. If only the Cubans were set free; imagine the wealth they’d create if only from all those 50’s cars that Americans would pay small fortunes to own.

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