Saturday, January 9, 2010

Where's my chicken?

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

He is 75 with a pension that exceeds his age by only 100 pesos.  He is not suffering from anything except poverty and hunger.  Three years ago he applied to have two pounds of milk included in his ration quota, along with a piece of chicken each month, as ordered by a supportive, and anonymous, doctor who agreed to classify him as a diabetic.  It was not enough to normalize the protein levels in his body but, for better or worse, he managed, miraculously, not to starve through various efforts: selling newspapers, running errands for a neighbor overwhelmed by her work and children, and selling his quota of cigarettes.

Like any other year, he expected in 2010 to renew his medical certificate.  Bad news awaited him, however, across the desk at Oficoda, the ration bureaucracy: to renew the entitlement certificate he would need to undergo a medical examination.  He was wary of this game, playing with his life, but did not let himself be overcome by the adversity of the new regulations and prepared as for an interview at an embassy or for a job.

Thanks to several home urine tests he was able to find out what his normal glucose levels were, some glasses of water with brown sugar helped him study the ideal pattern of those who has the right to eat chicken and have milk with breakfast.  Finally, some IV fluids purchased on the black market him reach the magic number: 12.5.

After two weeks of training he was ready.  He went with all his blood samples before the alarmed examination board who strongly advised him to heed his doctor's instructions, as his diabetes was dangerously out of control.  The last time I saw him he coming from the store he was smiling, with his shopping bag of powdered milk and a frozen chicken leg.

Translated by anonymous and trelex


Humberto Capiro said...

NEW YORK TIMES: Spain: Cuba Erred in Expelling Politician

Published: January 5, 2010
Filed at 7:59 a.m. ET

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's foreign minister criticized Cuba on Tuesday for denying entry to a Spanish politician who has promoted ties with opposition figures on the Caribbean island.

But Miguel Angel Moratinos said such snags were to be expected as Madrid and the rest of Europe nudge Havana's government toward reform.

Moratinos said Spain wants to use its turn as EU president, which began on Jan. 1, to improve relations with Cuba and encourage dialogue to move the country toward improved respect for human rights and democracy.

The politician who was not allowed to enter Cuba, European Parliament member Luis Yanez, is known to be critical of the Cuban government, but this does not justify Havana's decision, Moratinos said. Cuban authorities held him and his wife at the airport upon arriving in Havana and sent them on the first plane back to Spain on Monday.

''This is not good news. I think the Cubans made a mistake with this expulsion,'' Moratinos told reporters.

''But a relationship with Cuba is not a thing of just a day or two. It is a relationship that needs strategic depth and time to advance,'' the minister said.

The Cuban ambassador to Madrid was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Tuesday to explain the expulsion.

Cuban ambassador Alejandro Gonzalez Galiano explained that the decision stemmed from ''application of Cuban domestic laws,'' the foreign ministry said in a three-paragraph statement after the meeting. It did not elaborate.

Spain told him it condemned the expulsion and expressed hope such incidents do not happen again, saying ''they do not help the development of relations between the two countries,'' the statement said.

Yanez has promoted contacts between European socialists and democratic Cuban dissidents as president of a group called Cuba-Europe in Progress. Spanish news reports said Yanez was denied a visa to enter Cuba in 2008 when he was invited to attend a meeting of the Progressive Arc dissident group.

Yanez served as the Spanish government's top official for Latin America when Felipe Gonzalez was prime minister in the 1980s and 90s.

Cuba-Europe in Progress's Web site has posted a column Yanez wrote in the Spanish newspaper El Pais in 2007 decrying ''the disappearance of the most minimal freedom of expression and of artistic creation'' in Cuba, as well as the jailing of dissidents.

Yanez told a news conference in Seville on Tuesday that he and his wife had traveled to Cuba as private citizens, but that he had in fact planned to meet with pro-democracy figures during his stay.

Moratinos said that during its EU presidency, Spain will urge the bloc to move away from its ''common position'' on Cuba. That dates from 1996 and makes improved ties contingent on better respect for human rights and democratic reforms.

The policy has not yielded much, and instead the EU should now take a more active approach that might open up a process of dialogue and elicit firm commitments from Cuba, Moratinos said.

The EU imposed diplomatic sanctions, including a ban on political and other consultations, against Cuba in 2003 after the arrests of dozens of dissidents. The sanctions were suspended in 2005, but not lifted, and relations between the EU and Cuba have remained touchy.

Humberto Capiro said...

YOANI SANCHEZ' BLOG IN MIAMI HERALD: Cuba's `industry of robbery'

Humberto Capiro said...

NY TIMES MUSIC REVIEW: Hopped-Up Modern Salsa From Havana

"An audience packed with cheering Cubans greeted David Calzado and his Charanga Habanera at S.O.B.’s on Friday night, in a rare and welcome American appearance by one of Cuba’s top bands — signaling, perhaps, an Obama administration thaw in Cuban-American relations. Formed in 1988 and persisting through multiple personnel changes, Charanga Habanera has made hits in Cuba through the 1990s and 2000s, and its set raced through them in an exultant, nearly nonstop two-hour medley. In songs like “Soy Cubano, Soy Popular” (“I Am Cuban, I Am Popular”), the band sang of its own fame and success, and the crowd proved it by shouting along, verse and chorus."
"Dipping into hip-hop isn’t the only way that Charanga Habanera glances toward the United States. At the center of its set on Friday night was “Gozando en la Habana” (“Having Fun in Havana”), a hit from Charanga Habanera’s latest album, “No Mires la Carátula” (“Don’t Look at the Cover,” Planet Records). The song — highly unusual in Cuba — openly addresses expatriates. It’s about a girlfriend who emigrated from Havana to Miami, where “they say she has money, the car that she dreamed of/ But she doesn’t find in Miami what she left behind in Havana,” and she’s “crying in Miami,” while he’s having fun in Havana. The singalongs were nearly as loud as the band."

Humberto Capiro said...

REUTERS:Chill back in U.S.-Cuba ties after initial Obama thaw

HAVANA (Reuters) - A chill reminiscent of the Cold War is back in U.S.-Cuban relations after hopes for warmer ties under U.S. President Barack Obama dissipated amid familiar disputes over the U.S. trade embargo, terrorism and spying.

"After a year of relative civility and cautious praise for Obama, Cuban leaders are again angrily upbraiding Washington over the arrest of an American contractor in Havana last month and over Cuba's objection to being included in a U.S. list of nations considered "state sponsors of terrorism."
Cuba protested to the top U.S. diplomat in Havana against its "unjust" inclusion on the list, which will mean extra security measures for U.S.-bound air passengers from Cuba following a botched Christmas Day bomb attack aboard a U.S.-bound airliner.

Havana has also revived accusations of hostile U.S. spying and "subversion" by saying the contractor, who it says was arrested last month for distributing satellite communications equipment to Cuban dissidents, worked for "American secret services." Washington denies the man was a spy."

"There has been speculation Cuba could use the contractor as a bargaining chip to try to secure release for five convicted Cuban intelligence agents serving long U.S. sentences for espionage charges that linked them to Havana's 1996 shoot-down of private planes piloted by Cuban exiles near Cuba."

"But Cuba-watchers say "people-to-people" contact could still be increased by loosening the U.S. travel ban in place for most Americans as part of the embargo dating back to 1962.

"If you want to bring about change, change by example," said Florida cattleman John Parke Wright, a frequent visitor to Cuba. "Let American business and tourism flourish, and I guarantee there'll be changes here (in Cuba).""

Humberto Capiro said...

NEW TIMES: Sex machine Fidel Castro is now only 56 percent dead, experts fear
By Gus Garcia-Roberts Published on January 12, 2010 at 10:08am

The new headlines mean it's time for the media to play our favorite regularly scheduled, quad-annual parlor game: Just How Dead Is Fidel Castro Anyway?

How dead is he?: 56 percent.
How dead is that?: Well, he's deader than Tupac Shakur but less dead than Ted Williams. Two out of three funeral directors would have no professional qualms about embalming Fidel in his current state, but top Cuban officials tell us he is still faster than Usain Bolt, remains hotter than Colin Farrell, and has been way deader, like, tons of times.

How fearful should the American oligarchy be?: Extremely. We're hearing word that, in order to show his revived strength, Fidel might just ban something from the island for the hell of it — like rainbow sprinkles. Because he already axed strawberry topping in '94, ice cream in Cuba could be less delicious than ever.

Humberto Capiro said...


YOU TUBE VIDEO-HIPHOP CUBANO: Realidad en cuba "No es mi problema" Escuadrón patriota

musica contestataria en cuba Raudel escuadrón disco mi testimonio tirandola dura al oido del gobierno.

Raudel 'Escuadron Patriota', como muchos lo conocen. Este MC cubano tiene unas de las mejores letras , sin contar su forma de rimar que es muy buena; es sin duda uno de los mejores MC's que tiene Cuba. Su ultima Produccion llamada ''Mi Testimonio'' [2008] cuenta con 14 temas muy buenos, aqui Raudel se desahoga con respecto a su pensar de muchas situaciones que le pasan a el y al pueblo cubano. Esperen pronto el proximo projecto de Eskuadron Patriota titulado 'El Legado' [2009]. UNDERGROUND!!!