Victim? No. Responsible.

I could spend the day scared, hiding from the men stationed below.  I might fill pages with the personal cost this blog has brought me and with the testimonies of those who have been “warned” that I am a dangerous person.  It would be enough for me to decide that every one of my articles would be a long complaint or the accusing finger of one who always looks outside to find fault.  But it happens that I don’t feel myself a victim, but responsible.

I am conscious that I have been silent, that I have allowed a few to govern my island as if they were running a hacienda.  I pretended, and accepted that others will make the decisions that touch us all, while I shielded myself behind the fact of being too young, too fragile.  I am responsible for having donned my mask, for having used my son and my family as a reason not to dare.  I applauded—like almost everyone—and left my country when I was fed up, telling myself that it was much easier to forget than to try to change something.  I am also burdened with the debt of having let myself carry—sometimes—the rancor and suspicion with which they marked my life.  I tolerated their inoculating me with paranoia and, in my teens, a raft in the middle of the sea was a frequently nurtured desire.

However, as I do not feel myself a victim, I raise my skirt a little and show my legs to the two men who follow me everywhere.  There is nothing more paralyzing than a woman’s calf flashing in the sun in the middle of the street.  Nor am I wooden like a martyr, I try not to forget to smile, because giggles are hard stones in the teeth of the authoritarian.  So I continue my life, without letting them turn me into a whiner, with only one regret.  Ultimately, everything that I live today has also been the product of my silence, the direct result of my former passivity.


  1. I really don’t get it at all. Cuba is a country that needs EVERYTHING… and they have the resources to waste two people’s time just following Yoani around day and night? Don’t those folks have any REAL work to do? I suppose we should be grateful. If these totalitarian types weren’t so stupid and inefficient they might actually take over the planet. You’d think though, that they could be put to better use… go drive some buses, or cut some sugarcane or something.

    But meanwhile, what guts that flaquita has. It boggles the mind! (And I hope she’s just walking them to death… up town, down town, every which way. Wear those suckers out Yoani!)

  2. But does Castro, too, “giggle”? I ask, because in today’s (Monday) International Herald Tribune translation of the Spanish EL PAIS ( ) there is a piece about “hyper-realist” sculptor Eugenio Merino, who has produced a “scary,” life-sized effigy of Fidel, in his tracksuit, as a traditional zombie. It would, of course, be difficult to be even more scary than the real thing, presiding over a state that is little more than a twitching corpse. Merino says, “I don’t know whether Fidel has seen his sculpture. … They say he likes art. I imagine he must have laughed.”
    And, as they say in Spain, “Frogs will grow hair.” :-))

  3. cuba……uffffi have been going to cuba for20 years what i see makes me ill….a beautiful country stuck with a bunch off old men.if i was cuban i would stand up and do something unstead off waiting for a tourist to bring me a gift……..that is the problem on the island nobody does anything……………….where are the young fidel hiding.. do something i have been telling mi friend on the island.that if they all get up one day and protest all together they won t put u all in jail…………come on get up protest do something………..don t be affraid………..thats is the problem every body is afraid off the old man…………….march all together and ull get what u want

  4. It is difficult for me to understand your situation never having been confronted with the difficulties you now experience. As a typical U.S. citizen my knowledge regarding the rest of the world is sadly lacking, consequently some of what you suffer comes as a consequence of my ignorance.

    The assumption in the U.S. is that government knows best which all too frequently has been false.

  5. “Estoy consciente de que he callado, que he permitido a unos pocos gobernar mi isla como si de una hacienda se tratara. Simulé y acepté que otros tomarán las decisiones que nos tocaban a todos, mientras me escudaba en el hecho de ser demasiado joven, demasiado frágil. Soy responsable”

    Multiply this 11 million times

  6. Yoani Sanchez is a very brave woman–Joan of Arc with a computer! She (and the Cuban People) will win their freedom in the end.

    Yoani Sanchez es una mujer muy valiente–Yoani de Arc con una computadora! Ella (y la Gente Cubana) van a ganar su libertad al fin.

  7. The ruling elite of Cuba live where. Many photo’s are being posted on web sites, always tidy and clean, but old ruins of yesterday, beautiful in the Cuba weather.
    Who does the Cuban goverment support as in art, sports etc. In the US, you are free to travel, but have no money.

  8. The Cuban state still has many tools to instill fear in the populace: a monopoly on power by what is essentially a military dictatorship, constant monitoring and sometimes crushing of political dissent, severe restrictions on civil liberties, the ability to hand out favours (however modest) based on loyalty to the regime and to dole out punishments (loss of jobs, ostracization) to those not toeing the line.

    The Castro regime will fall when enough Cubans lose their fear. Yoani already has and that’s what makes her (and people like her) such a danger to the regime.

    So long as Yoani dissents as an individual on a blog largely blocked in Cuba, the regime likely thinks the danger she poses is manageable. Yoani likely gets followed in her public movements because there are certain lines she will not be allowed to across. These lines include organizing opposition to the regime in association with fellow dissidents. Unfortunately, the regime too has learned the lessons of the Charter 77 (Czech) and Solidarity (Poland) movements.

  9. Sometimes, Yoani, it is difficult to decipher your circular rhetoric. Why don’t you say what you mean? Do you mean what you say? What is it you are trying to say?
    Having asked those questions (and they just may be rhetorical ones, or at least Socratic ones) obiously I have respect for you , especially since you returned to Cuba. You must love your homeland, and yourself, to have returned. Now that you are there, however, what is it you hope to accomplish? and how? A lot of what you say sounds like whining. Besides criticizing, do you have any plans to actually do something? And I don’t mean running out into the streets and yelling like some wild-woman, but rather by talking, and slowly, surely organizing positive alternatives to the present, unsatisfactory, state of affairs.
    As for paranoia, they have already won the battle if you allow yourself to be sucked in, your energy diverted, by this negative force. You have always to act with the assumption you have the natural right to express yourself, criticize your government, and attempt to change it for the better. (Though I’d recommend via persuasion, and with the patience of a Job, rather than by violence.)
    Since its earliest days, I have supported the Revolution, though not without criticism. From my earliest visit, June through August of 1959, as a 16-year-old, I remember the terrible poverty, when people did die from malnutrition and preventable diseases, and there was then a desperation far more desperate than today’s insistant jinatera. That said, it is time for the Revolution to cast off ways which no longer–if ever–work(ed). Also, it is time for people who care, such as yourself, to be incorporated–or to incorporate themselves–into this process. (Up here it is called “co-opting,” though you don’t necessarily have to give up your principles–or at least all of them–to participate in making changes from within.)
    As for travel, I agree, it is far too restricted. But today the problem has as much to do with restrictions up here as well as down there. If you have $$$ and status, you travel the world with few problems. If you are poor, with limited resources, you will be stopped and either sent home, or sent to a detention center. Coming back from Cuba a few years ago, when the bus from Montreal reached the U.S. border in Vermont, eight folks were taken off, (almost) all poor, or young, or black, and held in detention to be sent back to Canada, including a frail grandmother from the West Indies, whose family was awaiting her in New York City. If you are from the “First” World, border crossing are a whizz–unless you happen to be from the Islamic world. If you are from the “Third” World, expect endless difficulties. It is easier just to take a raft, duck under the fence, or cross the shallow river. Even the Iraqi Christians, who have been mercilessly murdered by their fellow citizens after we “liberated” their country, have been denied entry in all but a precious few cases (no doubt with plenty of $$$, or influence, or both). Anyone who so desires should be free to travel–like Che in the 1950’s–to wherever s/he wishes. This should be a part of one’s education, and probably far better an education than one learns in schools, either in Cuba, or the U.S.A., or anywhere else, for that matter. Now, however, it is a far more restricted world than it was a half-century ago, and all the fault does not just lie with the Revolutionary Government.

  10. Michael N. Landis dice: 26 Enero 2009 a las 20:32

    Comrade Landis, as good defender of the cuban dictatorship your comment are designed to try to divert the subject of Yoani’s post. She doesn’t trying of solve the immigration problems in Canada, USA or wherever!!!!
    She is only describing the daily live of cubans inside the island.
    Why you have to go so far away from Cuba???? Perhaps to trying show the readers that if some things in the world are not OK then is OK for Cuba to have a dictatorship for 50 years???
    No,no, no comrade Landis those tactics are old enough as to seem ridiculous for all readers.
    I repeat, Yoani’s only objective is to describe the hard live of cuban inside the jail-island. And for this “terrible” activity she has a permanent guard that follow her wherever she goes!!!!!

    By the way. Yuo better take a look to the UN and UNESCO statistics for Cuba before Castro. There you going to find that all this poverty you said seen in Cuba when you were 16 years old…..are liar!!!!!

  11. michel, you have been going to Cuba for 20 years, yet you have no idea what it is like to live in a totalitarian police state? It’s easy for us to admonish the people to rise up. Instead of going to the beach resorts, you might want to take up Yoani’s offer to go live there for a bit like she has to live.

    Nakr, why don’t you just try educating yourself? I live in New Orleans, the land that many Americans take shots at for all sorts of problems, including a lack of education, yet here I am.

    Landis, let it go, man. I got stopped at the US-Canadian border in Blaine, WA because I didn’t have the papers they wanted me to have. And yo soy un guero. Also, we are not rich, but we travel by car and travel throughout the region along the US Gulf Coast and California (other family). I don’t see anyone stopping us on the road and turning us back. I don’t see anyone telling me I can’t buy gas. Etc.

  12. You said that you have been going to Cuba for 20 years and my question is: Have you learned anything. Visiting Cuba as a tourist is not the same as living in Cuba under a system that controls your life from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Every aspect of your life is TOTALLY CONTROLLED by a totalitarian regime, your job, your education, your travel within the island, the place you live in, etc…; In other words you are in prison without being in jail. Easy for you to say: “if i was cuban i would stand up and do something unstead off waiting for a tourist to bring me a gift…….” That is a very callous remark. Little do you know that in order to fight your enemy, you can not do it empty handed; the repressive apparatus is big and merciless. Next time you go to Cuba go outside the tourist traps and ask your friends (if you any) how they survive, ask them about the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution)

  13. Michael, what Yoani says is not that difficult to comprehend, but if there is anything that needs clarification by all means laid them out and someone will clarify it for you, including me.
    I don’t see clouds in any of her clear expressions of daily living in Cuba, perhaps you don’t get it because you have never experienced living under communism, but some of us have and we do understand. Perhaps her degree in Philology is too much for you to understand.
    I dare you to say she is a whiner, she probably holds bigger balls than you as a man.
    It strike me that someone like you who supported the “robolution” since its earliest days, comes here to criticize and give lecture to a person of her caliber, shame on you Michael.
    I don’t know if you are naive or you lack the knowledge to understand that under “Communism”, Yoani’s ideas will never be accepted, so how can you ask her to stop what she is doing and incorporate herself into the process?
    I wanted to take issues with your thoughts about “traveling” but you confuse me so much that it is not worth trying to unravel your puzzles.

  14. Carbo Servia and Patricio make a lot of assumptions; I guess if reality doesn’t fit their preconceptions it is easier to deal in stereotype, always a sign of sloppy thinking. I have never stayed at an all inclusives. In 1959 I lived for three months in a raggedy one-star hotel the corner of Amistad y San Miguel. In 1969-70, while cutting cane, I lived in a tent for three months. During most of my other trips my stays have been limited to casas, legal and otherwise, though also at an occasional provincial two-star hotel, with the exception that in 2004, when I brought my wife and two daughters; n we then stayed at three-star venues in Habana and Santiago. Lately, I’ve rented a car. Earlier trips I’ve traveled by both legal and illegal taxis. None of the friends–not “frens”–I’ve made are especially political; rather, our interests lie in literature, art–and memory (i.e. one friend lives in the same house where my northamerican girlfriend lived fifty years ago). I am well aware of the daily hardships and struggles, though admit, of course, that I haven’t had to live them year-in-and-year-out. This all little matters, though; you are confirmed in your prejudices, I in mine. In the end, I believe that Cuba is a better place for its Revolution. Just look at other, nearby countries; not only hell-holes like Haiti, but also Santo Domingo, or Guatemala, or Honduras, etc. where there may be wealth, but also the kind of grinding, desperate poverty which Cuba has left behind.

  15. Michael N. Landis dice: 27 Enero 2009 a las 04:24
    believe that Cuba is a better place for its Revolution. Just look at other, nearby countries; not only hell-holes like Haiti, but also Santo Domingo, or Guatemala, or Honduras, etc. where there may be wealth, but also the kind of grinding, desperate poverty which Cuba has left behind.

    The following statistics comes from studies made by FAO, UN and …………. cuban government (I mean dictatorship)

    In 1959 the cuban population was 6 millions, today we are 12 millions
    In 1959 the annual income of each cuban was 1200 pesos and the exchange rate peso/dollar was 1/1
    Today the annual income of each cuban is 2000 pesos and the exchange rate is 28/1 what means a cuban worker annual income is 71 dollars!!!! The annual income got down 1100 dollars.
    In 1959 there were 3.5 telephone lines per 100 people, today there are 15 lines per 100 people, what means that 11.5 telephone lines per 100 peoples get lost
    In 1959 the country generated 450 w per person, today only 75 w….. where are the other 375 w???
    In 1959 the caloric consumption per person were 2800 cal, today only 1100 cal… the “revolution” vanished 1700 cal per person/day!!!!!!!!!!
    In 1959 each cuban bough 59-76 pounds/year of meat, today can buy only 5 pounds/year.
    1959 47 eggs per person/year, today 13 eggs per person/year
    1959 12 pound chicken per person/year, today only 5
    1959 38 cars per 1000 inhabitants, today only 10
    1959 one urban bus per 300 inhabitants, today one bus per 25.000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1959 one interurban bus per 2000 inhabitants, today one per 35.000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1959 66 TVs per 1000 cubans, today 15 per 1000
    1959 one doctor per 950 cubans, today one per 740 (half of them works outside the country hired by the government)
    1959 one dentist per 2100 cubans, today one per 1850
    1959 Cuba had 6.000.000 cows, today only 1.800.000
    Unemployment 1959 = 2.8%, today = 35%
    1957 Cuba has the lowest inflation rate in the hemisphere 1.8%, today 28%

    Yes, we are better now!!!!!!!???????

  16. Comrade Landis, it appears that you enjoy playing Bohemian for a few weeks, perhaps to show your solidarity with your cubano comrades discussing literature and art using your very valuable foreign currency, not the worthless peso that the serfs er… cubanos receive in payment for their labours.

    But comrade what literature do you discuss in Cuba? Have you tried to read and discuss Animal Farm or 1984? The revolution has perfected those distopias, but will they allow you to read about it?

    After your 2 weeks of playing the magnanimous bohemian with CUC, you get to return home to your McMansion and Volvo, but the cubanos continue their life of serfdom…. Marie Antoinette liked to dress down too, but Robespierre took care of that problem.

    Next time you travel to Cuba why don’t you pack a copy of Finca Animal in your suitcase to discuss with your cubano homeboys; then tell us all about your experience 😉


  17. God Bless you Yoani,
    I am an American who has lived in Cuba and visited the island more than 20 times. I have been married to two Cuban women. I spent the better part of the 90’s bringingcubagroups to the U.S. for cultural exchanges ( Los Munequitos, Mezcla, Danza Contemporanea etc… I always encouraged my Cuban friends to return telling them that they would have more opportunities in Cuba that the system for the Arts was much more supportive there. And here we are almost 20 years later and few of them have seen thier lives improve much, if at all. So now I wonder if I gave them bad advice, the 2 or 3 that decided to stay here in the States have faired better. I believed in Cuba. Not naively, but I did and still do to an extent, believe that the noble road is to work for change from within. That is what I try do. Endthe blockade, normalize relations etc.. I am not sure what I’m trying to say except that I love/hate Cuba with a passion I don’t feel for other things and I really admire what you are doing and wish more Cubans would join you. I think the Cuban people if left to themselves might have an answer to the problems that they face. If they could only find theivoice. I hear it dail;y when I’m there. From Taxi drivers waitresses Doctors, Lawyers etc…. an acknowledgement that the time for change is upon US. Que Dios y todo los Santos te proteje y el trabajo que estas haciendo. Si hay algo que yo puedo hacer avisame!!

  18. Just to add to Carbo’s statistics:
    Sugar: 5.9 million tons to 1.2 million (worst since 1903 and imports from US now needed)
    Milk: 765 thousand tons to 485 thousand (for, as Carbo points out, double the population)
    Newspapers: 58 to 2
    TV stations: 23 to 5 (all state propaganda so the people probably don’t mind the loss of sets)
    And the present statistics are often accompanied by an asterisk in UN reports, to the effect that they don’t believe them but they are all the administration will produce. Even so, even Castro’s figures show that Cuba has declined from third in the region (after Argentina and Uruguay) to penultimate (just ahead of Haiti) and, while the regime refuses to accept international criteria, by its own standards, 46% of the population of Havana is “poor” or “very poor.”
    Yoani has mentioned milk. While second hand clothes may be bought in state shops using “serfs’ pesos,” milk (as well as new clothes, beef, and most medicine) must be bought using the so-called “convertible” peso (I doubt our own central bank retains many of them). Salaries average the equivalent of 15 euros per month and a litre of milk from the Palco store costs the equivalent of 2.28 euros at the time of writing (Cuban inflation may have made this figure out of date). A can of tuna may be had for 2.3. So, as Yoani has said, it takes the better part of three days to earn your family a litre of milk, something that most Latin Americans would buy without thinking (and yes, I have lived and worked there).
    As for the wonderful education system, even GRANMA admits the the mass defection of teachers has given Havana alone a shortfall of 8,576.
    Welcome to the looking-glass world of socialist Utopia!

  19. Michael, When you say that “I believe that Cuba is a better place for its Revolution.” you don’t know what you are talking about I know my history and also my politics and I can tell you that there was no reason for a “Robolution” to take place in our Island, just an honest election would have taken care of Batista dictatorship. Prior to Castro Cuba has one of the highest standard of living in the Caribbean & Latin America; now it is pity to see where this senseless ideology has taken us, directly to the slumps of third world countries to say the least. Name one, but just one thing that is better now than it was before. We had better roads, better educational system, better infrastructure, better standard of living, better distribution of farming land, better monetary system, better everything….
    Let my touch on one more aspect of the political theater before I leave for work this morning, the so call “Embargo”. There is no embargo Michael. Cuba buys openly with CASH from the EE.UU, the numbers are there for you to look at it but “Granma” does not talk about that. What Cuba wants is for this United States to quench the existing hunger that prevails in our island with plenty of credit; and when this happens Cuba would do the same they had done to other countries, forfeit their debts in a way that they don’t even pay for the interest on their loan. And you have to ask yourselves, why do they want to trade with their enemy? The answer is CREDIT.

  20. Up ’til 1959 Cuba was, like other Latin American countries, a consumerist society, essentially serving that minority–admittedly a significant minority, the middle-class as well as the wealthy–which had the money to buy houses, cars, major appliances, etc. No matter what the U.N. stats. report, though, I saw with my own eyes the terrible poverty, not only in Centro, where I was staying the summer of 1959, but also on my travels around Habana, especially on my daily trip to and from my honey’s house, out in the suburbs. Having grown up in the South, I knew about poverty. The degredation and poverty I saw in Cuba, however, was much worse than the “shotgun-shack” poverty of the American South. Hence, statistics cannot convince me that, prior to 1959, Cuba was on its way to being the New Jerusalem. And speaking of credit, the next big crisis up here will be the massive default on credit card balances of those tens-of-thousands who, daily, are now receiving their pink slips, not that I’ll feel particularly sorry for the modern-day Shylocks who want their pound of flesh. Besides, time-and-again the First World has already forgiven/cancelled-out the debts of Third World countries. Finally, dispite the weakness of Cuba’s education system, it is well on its way to producing a population with a First World education. Like Ireland during the last thirty years, Cuba’s educated workforce is well positioned to take advantage of the integrating itself into the world economy once the current Depression ends (which is looking now more like years, if not a decade). Since you are relying on U.N. stats. so much, why not those of longevity and reduced infant mortality. In the first, Cuba is approaching the U.S., in the second, even ahead, at least when it comes to poor and minority babies.

  21. IMHO Obama will act swiftly. The CubaTriangle Blog yesterday linked to back in the day of talks of recinding the embargo. This is a new era in The USA, Obama is not a cowboy trying to prove to his parent’s he’s big enough for the job. The Kennedy’s have lost their luster, The Bush’s have no power and will never have any more power in the US.
    The US is in for a 20 year climb out of the waste of the past, and will be good neighbors to those countries far and near. Obama is a man of the world, smart, with no axe to grind with Cuba or Iran, and will not dicate as to what other Countries do internally. When the flood gates open, Cuba’s population will swell by 1/3, people want smog free air, organic food and beautiful sunshine, which we in the USA have very little of. Here is hoping for the best in Cuba and The USA.

  22. Thanks Yoani for your bravery and hard work. As an American, I have no idea what it feels to live under total oppression. However, I am educated enough to understand how terrible it would be. I commend you for your efforts and hope you ignore the people who denounce you. There will always be people who would rather have whatever they are given, rather than work for what they could have.
    I have a friend whose family left Cuba after the Revolucion as well, and they despair for the state of their homeland. I wish there was any easy answer, but fear that the only solution is for the Cuban people to rise up.I know that is easy for me to say. I am well fed and my government still tolerates my political and artistic views.
    I wish you the best of luck and my heart goes out to you and your family. As a mother, I know how hard it is to do things that might have repercussions for your children.
    As to Castro and that slavering hound, Guevara, I have spent a couple years doing research and reading Che’s journals in an effort to understand them as the swine they are. I am preparing to do a painting depicting Che as the monster he was, and the way in which he helped ruin the economy of Cuba in his selfish quest for Communism. I am embarrassed that so many in my country idolize him as a ‘revolutionary of the people’. He cared only for the people in their usefulness to him.
    I won’t even address the full naivete of ‘pine trees’ last comment. I only hope he will be one of the people rushing to Cuba to lead by example. It’s convenient to blame the state of the island on America, but ask yourself why the rest of the world didn’t step in to help. America is not the only country in the world, nor do we control their actions. America did not ruin the agriculture of Cuba. Che Guevara did that.

  23. I think we should speak the truth here. I don’t know who Michael Landis is, but the name sounds like white North American. Fine. But it seems odd to me that an uptight white North American socialist would be lecturing people here about their homeland. That is outrageous. I don’t begrudge anyone taking him to task on any of his ideological, nonsensical BS.

  24. The other fact of the matter is we have people here who are Communists or socialists, even though they won’t acknowledge as much and refuse to live like one. Again, why not take up Yoani’s offer? But they do want to impose their ideology upon others and force us to live as they would have us live. The hell with that! Long live freedom y que vive una Cuba LIBRE! Libertad, libertad, libertad!

  25. Communist and communist sympathizer Like Michael Landis, they all have a tunnel vision, they only see what they want to see, nothing more. They come to this forum to confuse others who are not up to-date with what is happening in Cuba and paint a rosier picture about a brutal an repressive regime that has perpetrated themselves against the will of innocent people for close to 50 years. These fellow travelers hate the American system which is by far and with all its faults a better system than communism. Rest my case Michael.

  26. Here is a story of losing hope from Los Angeles:

    BBC: A US man apparently distraught over job problems is thought to have shot dead his wife and five young children before turning the gun on himself.

    In the fax sent to KABC-TV, the man allegedly claimed he and his wife had been fired from jobs as medical technicians and she suggested they kill their children and themselves.

    “We have no job and five children under eight years old with no place to go. So here we are,” the fax continued.
    “Oh lord, my God, is there no hope for a widow’s son?” it concluded.

    In Southern California’s third family mass murder in six months, police said the child victims were twin two-year old boys, twin five-year-old girls and an 8-year-old girl.

  27. Patricio: questions what do you call when a government bails out Big Business ie banks and motor companies. Capitalism or Socialism
    Iain: the decline in sugar had nothing to do with productions it was a demand problem created by the empire to the north subsidising the production of cane in Florida and sugar beets in the mid West. Also prior to the EU France was also heavily subsidising there farmers in the production of sugar beets. Check it out!!!!!!!

  28. Sorry, but my post (27) above was meant to respond to Yoani’s story of her aquaintence who is looking to move to Miami with her daughter.

  29. 291RCR dice: 28 Enero 2009 a las 02:25
    Iain: the decline in sugar had nothing to do with productions it was a demand problem created by the empire to the north subsidising the production of cane in Florida and sugar beets in the mid West.

    Then why Brazil, Australia and India took the opportunity and became top sugar producer at same time Cuba’s industry declined?????
    Simple, Castro destroyed Cuba’s sugar industry in the same way that all communist countries destroyed theirs major industries.
    Become economically inefficient is a characteristic of communist regimens. It is something communist regimens can’t avoid.

  30. Michael N. Landis dice:
    You are totally wrong or totally a liar.
    1959 Cuba were over the most latin-american countries despite you believe or not in UN, FAO or the own statistics the cuban dictatorship delivery to those organizations.
    I don’t care if you want to write lies here that are easy to belie but I care a lot about how the readers find the true…. and the true lays in the own statistics the dictatorship delivered to UN and FAO.
    You said:

    “Up ’til 1959 Cuba was, like other Latin American countries, a consumerist society, essentially serving that minority–admittedly a significant minority, the middle-class as well as the wealthy–which had the money to buy houses, cars, major appliances, etc.”

    But the dictatorship said that:

    In 1959 the annual income of each cuban was 1200 pesos and the exchange rate peso/dollar was 1/1
    Today the annual income of each cuban is 2000 pesos and the exchange rate is 28/1 what means a cuban worker annual income is 71 dollars!!!! The annual income got down 1100 dollars.

    So in 1959 the cuban people had enough money to buy all this things you said only the upper and middle class could afford ….. is now, when the cuban annual salary is only 71 dollar that they can’t afford to buy nothing!!!

  31. Sir or Madam —

    My deep apologies but a number of your comments are “stuck” in the ‘spam catcher’ and I cannot get them out. The one I just ‘approved’ with three links somehow made it to the ‘awaiting moderation’ queue and I approved it. Generally, the spam catcher will catch any comment with MORE THAN 2 links, though it’s not supposed to (those are supposed to go to moderation), and some of your comments that were ‘caught’ only have two or fewer links. In short, there’s nothing wrong with your comments, they should have been posted, and they have not been deliberately blocked.

    Unfortunately, if I turn off the spam catcher this blog will be overwhelmed in 24 hours or less — other desdecuba blogs where it stopped working have gotten 10k, 20k and more spams PER ENTRY.

    That said, sometimes it doesn’t work, and although we are supposed to be able to “retrieve” good comments that get stuck there, we’ve never been able to make that function actually work. I’ll keep an eye on it and look for your comments there, and if it continues we’ll see if there’s some way to fix it and make sure your comments get through.

    With regrets!
    Your tries-to-be-friendly-but-I-haven’t-figured-out-how-to-be-perfect English Translator

  32. Statistics can be played both ways. There is no doubt individual Cubans lacks many “things” – cars, telephones, computers, etc. But Cubans also rank amongst the highest in health, education and human development amongst all developing countries and the Western Hemisphere. The things they lack are often available in public places, for very little cost or free. The attitude is that either everyone has access to something or no one does. It could not be more different than US capitalism. Neither systems are perfect but I will err with the one that prioritized human needs for all over wants for a few.

  33. I know the mounting crisis, not only in Cuba but also in countries like Venezuela and Bolivia that seek to wreck their economies after the fashion of “wise grandfather” Fidel, raises strong emotions but I feel it would be better to refrain from insulting each other.
    Since the Cuban regime is importing sugar and fruit, the cause of the collapse of this sector of its agriculture can hardly be lack of demand. And I don’t think the island ever exported much by way of dairy products and could certainly consume more, were they available.
    Human need was never a priority for the regime. On the contrary, Ernesto Guevara specifically rejected such “capitalist” notions as supply and demand for what was referred to as his “theory of value.” This meant that the economy ceased to produce what the people wanted or needed, in favour of what he thought was “morally” worthwhile. Fidel rubber-stamped his decisions but it was Guevara’s four years in charge that drove the island to the ruin from which it has never recovered.

  34. Iain, while Cuban agriculture has had great moments under the Revolution, there is little doubt that things as they stand today could use a lot of improvement. Raul has made this priority number one and there are a number of very important reforms underway. Some 60-80,000 citizens put their name in to take over farming underproductive state-owned land and immediately received plots of land. There is a massive move to decenteralize agricultural decision making to the local levels. Producers are increasingly selling directly to institutions, rather than going through some State agency first. Farming stores have been created across the island to sell ther required inputs – and farmers are receiving credits to buy them. Private farming and cooperatives are clearly the future – though still acting within the social goals of the country.

  35. Carbo (self-)Servia, your (and the UN’s)stats for annual personal income are misleading, of course, especially in the context you’ve given. One person can earn millions, tens of millions, even hundreds of milions of dollars per year, another less than a thousand, or even less than a few hundred, yet are all averaged, thus not reflecting the true state of affairs. (Just like up here, where the average CEO’s and CFO’s incomes have increased to obscene levels, in some cases billlions of dollars). Besides, pre-Revolution, most folks had to pay rent, unsubsidized food, transportation, health care, etc., all of which are not taken into account in your stats. (“Liars can figure, and figures can lie.”)
    av2ts: I agree with the new SECOND Reforma Agraria, which is doing what the original one of the early 1960’s SHOULD HAVE done, given land directly to the tillers. Mistakes were made, but better that they are rectified later, rather than never. In any event, the grajeros will have to form their own cooperatives in order to receive benefits of farming to scale (ability to collectively purchase fertilizer, farm equipment, plus marketing the the broadest potential markets, etc.). I was glad to see, in March of this year, that the sugar-cane monoculture around Aguacate has now given way to many fields of truck crops, such as tomatos, peppers, onions, lettuces, etc. Even during the late 1960’s/early 1960’s, when I cut cane there, however, some of the fields we cut were privately owned. Of course the granjeras could only sell their cane to the state, at a price stated by the latter. But this was little different than, a decade-and-a-half before, was the case with my Grandfather, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When the canneries processing his tomatos in Maryland or Deleware lowered thier rates to below what it cost him to produce (and they all fixed their prices), he simply turned his truck around and dumped them by the side of the highway! Glad to see that the granjeros will now be able to clear all those marabu-infested tracts, though it seems like it will be a major job to clear away. Any uses for marabu?
    Finally, Carbo(hydrate) (self-)Servia), you must surely be kidding with your statement that in 1959 Cubans had the $$$ to buy most things that the middle-class could buy. If so, why all the folks in Marianao then living in hovels? Why all the children with distended stomachs and no clothes, save maybe a dirty pair of shorts, if that? It is really a waste of time/energy arguing. You seem far more blinkered than me.

  36. Eh Carbo, los links no sirven. No se por que, pero asi es. Un ayudo por favor. Me gustaria ver lo que estas hablando. Muy amable!

    avt2s, nothing is free. Remember that. So, did I read you correctly that you prefer Cuba’s communist system over whichever system you live under? I imagine you are Canadian or American. Why don’t you go live in Cuba? Why not just move where the human condition (read communist loyalists) are prioritized?

    28. That is definitely a socialist tendency. If you think I dring the kool-aid for any American government or a particular American government, you would be mistaken.

    27. Moral relativism? I mean, what’s that have to do with it? What about all the people who die trying to get out of Cuba? Is that suicide? Is it murder? Are they just Gusanos? Traitors? Or patriots? Do they deserve to die? If you are a free-thinking and clear-thinking individual, you would admit that the human condition is very difficult and we should show some regard, at least, to all of it. Not use one condition against the other.

  37. I assume your reference to this very sad story is meant to be an illustration of the brutality of capitalism. However, this man and his wife are now reported to have forged a supervisor’s signature on a form where they had lied in order to qualify for child care benefits, above and beyond what they were entitled to. They were fired because they committed fraud. What happened next is absolutely horrible and tragic, but speaks more to the mental illness of the father than to the faults of capitalism (which, admittedly, are many).

    Your attempt to use the tragedy of these people, and the fates of these poor children who will never grow up, to make some undefined case about the superiority of communism just doesn’t wash.

    Finally, the suicide rates in the U.S. and Cuba are close, although Cuba’s, apparently, it slightly higher.

    Source: The Los Angeles Times

    “Diana Bonta, vice president for public affairs at Kaiser Permanente, said the couple falsified income records so they could qualify for a child care program run by Crystal Stairs, a nonprofit children’s services agency located near the West Los Angeles medical center where they worked. “They were terminated because in the healthcare field, records are an important part of the process, and people trust us with their health,” she said.

    “Several police sources familiar with the investigation told The Times that Ervin and Ana Lupoe made more than $40 an hour each in their work as radiological technicians for the hospital. But the couple made it appear that they were earning $7 to $10 an hour, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because the investigation was ongoing. The disparity was discovered when the child care agency called Kaiser to inquire about the couple’s income. Bonta would only say that Kaiser launched its investigation in December after being tipped to alleged fraud. “

  38. “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.” Mark Twain
    “Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off.” Paul Brodeur

    Its so interesting watching you all toss these facts and figures about….occasionally throwing in the odd personal heart wrenching story for good measure. In all the times I’ve been to Cuba I’ve learned that every story has layers and layers of truth underneath. And that absolutely includes government statistics, the rage of the exiles and the blind patriotism of those Americans traveling with the pastors and the brigades.

    Yoani is brave for her blog, and she certainly doesn’t need me or any other privileged American to tell her so. It kills me when people here seem to argue and argue in circles and miss the truth that’s lost between the lines. I love Cuba, I fell in love with the country completely against my will. I went there as a cynical Anarchist, totally opposed to the regime and slightly upset that I was being somewhat forced to travel, and by extension support, the dictatorship. What I found was a country full of people longing and struggling to be free. Not in the way many of the two (and three) faced supporters of capitalism view freedom, because I think most of the people I met in Cuba know the devastation that the free market and capitalism would bring.

    Cuba is a prison island, no doubt. I’ve been there enough and have seen plenty of people harassed and arrested by the police and their spies to know this as a fact. But in the US we’ve built an entire industry around our prisons and we are experts at managing them. The US would like nothing better than to be the exclusive manager of Cuban’s prison state. When discussing politics with my Cuban friends we always agree that we must never exchange one prison for another. Even if the other option is a minimum security federal facility with a TV in your cell and better meals. Its a still a prison and we will never be free until we tear them all down.

  39. There are many misconceptions as well as a general lack of knowledge regarding the Cuba which Fidel Castro inherited in 1959. Some have stated that the situation in the pre-Castro Cuban Republic was one of “haves and have nots”, while others have characterized the Cuban population prior to Castro as illiterate, backward, destitute and so on. This article set the record straight, demonstrating Cuba’s socio-economic standing in 1958, where the masses had a high standard of living.


    By Humberto (Bert) Corzo* La Nueva Cuba, Octubre 1, 2002

    In 1958 the middle class made up more than 33% of the population according to the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Pan-American Union. Due to the growing economy the basic needs of Cuba’s population were covered. The Census of 1953 showed that 30% of the work force depended on the agricultural sector. Ginsburg in his Economic Atlas (3), among 97 countries analyzed with regard to the active population working in agriculture ranked Cuba as number 30. This analysis changed the traditional vision of Cuba as an agricultural country, placing it among the industrialized ones. The per capita income of 1958 ranked Cuba number 31 at world level in Ginsburg’s table. That same year 62% of Central Americans and 55% of Latin Americans were dependent on agriculture for their subsistence.

    3. Norton Ginsburg, Atlas of Economic Development, 1961

    Cuba during the 50’s was considered one of the most developed countries in Latin America. According to a study done by Eugene Stanley of the Committee of Exterior Relations of the U.S., who analyzed 100 countries positioned Cuba along with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., as being among the top 19 intermediate to developed countries in the world (5). The previous information shows clearly, without the shadow of a doubt, that Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1958 was fairly distributed in comparison to Latin America and the rest of the world.[1]

    [1]Humberto (Bert) Corzo, “THE STANDARD OF LIVING IN CUBA’S REPUBLICAN ERA”, La Nueva Cuba, Octubre 1, 2002

    5. R. Espinosa, Elementos de Geografía de Cuba

  40. Andy, the fact that the husband and wife in the LA story (#27) were both fired for trying to obtain cheaper child care just makes the story worse – supporting my point about the utter inhumanity of capitalism. Blaming it on “mental illness” of the father is not supported by anything at all. Capitalism killed this family.

  41. OK, you’re right, have it your way. You’re making such a strong argument I bow to your superior wisdom. So let’s see… both husband and wife were making $40 an hour… that’s $80,000 a year. So, this family had an income of $160,000 a year. But… it wasn’t enough for them. They couldn’t afford, on that, for example, to have an au pair from abroad live in and take care of the children during the workday. So… like any sensible person in a capitalist society faced with a completely untenable situation, the father — a kind and sane man — murdered them all.

    Now, let’s assume they had been living in the Cuban paradise. Let’s go all out and say they were both working and making a rather high salary of $20 a month each. Let me see…. 20 x 2 x 12 = $480 a year. Oh heck, let’s round it up and say they brought in $500. A YEAR. $159,500 LESS than they made in the capitalist hell. But, of course, in the Island paradise, they’d have free housing or pretty close (I know I know maybe only 2 or 3 rooms, not a huge two story house, but who cares, it’s paradise and it’s warm outside). On the ration, they’d get enough food to eat about half the month. And then… well who cares… it’s paradise. The thing is, in paradise the dad probably wouldn’t have had a gun, so you’re right, they’d probably have survived.

    Yes, you made your point. Capitalism killed them.

  42. ANDY SWOOSH, that was a three pointer. The apologist here are always “twisting” words to justify a failed system that still polutes Cuba. Its high time for the masses to take to the streets and demand better. In Cuba not only do the common people have little money they also have few Rights or respect by the ruling government. Its time for change. Yoani thanks for opening my eyes to the problems and abuses of current Cuba. I’m sorry this has lasted 50 years.

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