Monday, December 29, 2008

Rendering of Accounts

Photo: Claudio Fuentes

As Yoani called it in one of her posts. Yesterday was the Rendering of Accounts meeting in my CDR, but in an impulsive act I didn't go. The truth is that I’m already repentant, I’m sure I could have written a humorous post.
The last time I participated in one of these meetings, a man who really took it to heart gave a most aggressive speech against the Ten Cent vendors at 23rd and 12th, who are no longer called that, but nobody knows what they’re called because nothing is worth 10 centavos, because they outdo themselves stealing pesos from the customers. They decided, those involved in the discussion, that they’d call down the police on the Ten Cent sellers, but they achieved nothing, either with the police or with the denunciations. The next topic was the point about the refrigerator gaskets: the majority of my CDR, including me, didn’t receive our refrigerator gaskets for some “strange reason,” they just brought them. Later they talked about bread, something relating to milk and yogurt for the children, the diversion of construction materials, among other problems without solutions. One woman said it was going on 20 years that we’d been discussing the same issues in these meetings… we must be persistent or completely mad.
Then they talked about increasing the surveillance and political ideological work, no one knows to what end, if all the real problems can’t be solved with that.
They want early release of the 5PE (five prisoners of the empire); said that the party was immoral, excuse me, immortal; badmouthed the United States, sang the anthem and everyone left, reluctantly, to go home and watch the soap opera.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Federated by Ventura

Although I am not interested in what happens to the ghost of the Federation of Cuban Women (which does so little for Cuban women), and don’t consider myself an absolute feminist or anything like that, I can’t help feeling a little awkward on hearing the news that Machado Ventura is chairing the Assembly of the Eighth Congress of the federation in Guantánamo.
Why is this gentleman chairing an assembly of women? Is there any scarcity of Cuban woman with sufficient intelligence to manage their own organizations? What’s the point of having an organization where the difference in gender is exclusive, headed by a man?
I remember the time when el Comandante held interminable meetings, only with women, to explain how to make coffee and how the Chinese rice cookers worked.
It seems that in this egalitarian revolution only the women make coffee while the men are busy organizing them, disciplining them and of course supervising them to make sure they perform the duties of their own sex without wastefulness.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Convertible Currency

Well it’s true that in Cuba we can now celebrate Christmas. When I was girl Christmas wasn’t spoken of, nor was there a little tree in my house until I was about 13 or so, and it took me a tremendous amount of work to convince my father to get me one. Since the Pope came, fortunately, the 25th is a holiday and we celebrate the 24th and the 25th as we’re able, even though there isn’t much food, but at least the family gathers and we wait for the new year and not the first of January, which seems the same but it’s not, as we all know.
The Christmas tree is more complicated, it costs a lot to buy one, all the ornaments are sold in CUCs and the tree itself cost no less than 10. My friends almost all have trees of about their own age and I even know someone who bought his tree in Russia, where it seems that since the ‘70s they were not as radical on the point.
Maybe because of the fact that I couldn’t enjoy Christmas festivities when I was a child, this time of year makes me dream. Every year I say to myself This year I’ll buy a tree. But when December comes my purse is empty and I leave it for the next year.
I like to walk the streets and see two or three houses with lights on display, today there are only a few but perhaps someday there will be more. In the same way, the Christmas ornaments that are sold in some convertible currency centers seem terrible to me, a piece of green bush tied to a tube isn’t necessarily identified with a Christmas theme… but still.
The peso stores, the schools and the like are still in the ‘80s. For our children in day care centers, Christmas hasn’t yet arrived.

Monday, December 22, 2008

With all the responsibility

Nobody has forced me to do this. Everything that I have posted I’ve written of my own will and I am not influenced by anyone. Other people's articles that I publish here, I do it because I like them and because they seem to be consistent with my way of thinking.
I want to thank all the people who have supported me, the commentators and my friends who have stood unconditionally by my side (by my side is not literal, my two best friends are abroad and this blog has only brought us more together).
At times, when I begin to get scared, and I remember the words of friends who love me (“you’re getting out of hand,” or “you have to think about those around you, your family and your friends… really”), I ask myself if I could really put the pen down. I’ve never had much interest in publishing my poems, my drawings have never left the little notebooks that I occasionally use for my “cartoons,” I have always considered what I do as something very personal and it has never interested me to do anything to do with any artistic side I might have, because I’m not interested in being an artist, it’s a very personal decision that may or may not be final, but for now it hasn’t changed.
I decided to write this blog after writing “From paranoia to a scream,” which I asked Yoani to publish on her blog, Generation Y. I think that the words I put there make my intentions clear. I can’t put down the pen because then I wouldn’t write… What could I say?
I think that every person has the right to say what she thinks, without it being a danger to her, much less to those around her. So far, no one around me has felt threatened and those who may feel that way don’t have a reason to reproach me, the same way that I will never reproach them.
Anyway, I am including some photos of my latest drawings, to relax.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CDR Congress

"We must at all costs ensure that the people hate those who do not work."
The words of Esteban Lazo at the National Congress of the CDR

On Thursday at seven o’clock in the morning one of those tourist buses passed by 17th and 12th honking at full volume. I was in the corner and I was scared, thinking there was an accident, because normally those who honk like that are newlyweds who have just been to the notary and I knew the offices weren’t open at this hour, not even by chance.

They were the, I don’t know how many, participants in the CDR Congress, who very naively thought that we, the bystanders, would send them off to their meeting with cheers and smiles. I had a flash-back to my childhood: with flower in hand I stood on the Paseo saluting the arrival of Gorbachev. Strangely, my parents had not gone, my father didn’t like Gorbachev (now I know why) so I went with a neighbor and her mother; they were acting like God was going to be passing in front of us.

Luckily time passes, and the people no longer want to run back for nothing or nobody. Everyone was looking at the bus with reluctance and the absurdity of the situation made me laugh. Did they really expect to be praised by the people along their route? The same people they want to put in jail for “illegalities”?

When I was in first grade, in 1989, there was a Spanish priest in my classroom. The teacher told us that when the priest came we should tell him that in Cuba our God was Fidel. You could ask yourself, what status would the organizers of the congress claim that we have for them; if bear in mind the point of view of my teacher, one might well believe them to be the Holy Inquisition.

Blog Contest: "A Virtual Island"

With the objective of encouraging the Cuban blogosphere and motivating those who use the Internet for expressing ideas, information and testimonies, the team of the magazine Convivencia and the editorial board of the site, announce the contest titled A Virtual Island.

The contest rules will be sent by email to all bloggers who write from Cuba. In they message they will be asked to confirm if they will to participate in the contest. Only those who respond affirmatively to our call will be considered nominees for one of the prizes described here.


  1. Cuban bloggers currently living in the country are eligible to participate.
  2. The blogs submitted can participate in other contests at the same time.
  3. Blogs can be submitted regardless of the date they were begun.
  4. Blogs on diverse themes will be considered, including personal, informative, news, computers, tourism, etc.
  5. Each contestant can enter the number of blogs they desire.
  6. The blogs in the competition must be signed with one’s own name.
  7. This call is in effect from today, December 19, 2008, until August 30 2009, when the final deliberations of the jury will begin.
  8. The results of this contest will be announced on September 9, 2009, through the digital media involved in the event.
  9. The decision of the jury is final. Any category included in the competition can be canceled if the jury decides to do so.
  10. Honorable mentions may be awarded if the jury decides to do so.
  11. The members of the jury are excluded from participating in the contest.
  12. Participation in the contest requires conformity with these rules.
Prize categories

  • Best blog, Jury Award
  • Best Blog, by public vote
  • Best Blog Design
  • Best Blog, Informative and Newsworthy
  • Prize awarded by on-line voting to best commentator who visit Cuban blogs
  • Special Prize Awarded by the site 233 grados

During the course of this contest different news institutions related to Internet journalist may offer a special prize under the criteria of their choice.

The jury is composed of:
The Jury Prize will be a Laptop that will facilitate the work of the blogger. The prizes for the other categories will be announced on March 1, 2009, along with the final list of contestants. Starting on that day, on-line voting will begin for readers to select which they consider to be the best blogs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I thought the war in Angola was one of the dark pages of our post-revolution history, but I was wrong. I believed that never again would we hear talk of such senseless carnage, whose origins and purposes we still don’t know, and that the government would save us from having to relive the pain of such a story.

My father was in Angola. He wasn’t injured, but caught malaria five times and although they cured the illness, they didn’t cure the alcoholism typical of those who went to war to die or kill. It seems that after a certain amount of blood and death you can no longer bear reality in the same way.

But it is not for my father that I write this post. It’s for my neighbor whose father died there. She was a child, her mother could not bear the pain and developed schizophrenia that might never have erupted. The girl, today already a woman, grew up in the care of a crazy woman who still does not let her into her own room because she says there are demons. The two, sick with nerves, survived the Special Period and the post-Ppecial. Jehovah’s Witnesses, they sought in faith what reality refused to give them: mercy.

They received an absurd pension from the Association of Combatants, which clearly didn’t stretch far enough for anything. Once some compassionate neighbors decided to do something so that someone from the government would take pity on them, because they were living in deplorable conditions. So they called a meeting. As if the stark reality were not enough, one woman said that the above mentioned pension should be taken from them, because they were often disagreeable with the neighbors and didn’t participate in the activities of the CDR. Fortunately, no one seconded the idea.

And now we have, adding shame to shame, a movie that’s been made called Kangamba, which is being sold as an epic. For the premier at the Chaplin movie theater they mobilized a large group of soldiers who, though the premier was at eight at night, were dressed in their uniforms… to see Kangamba is a task of the Revolution. The Ladas closed the parking areas around 23 and 12 so no one would be left with any doubt that our military not only doesn’t grieve for them, but they are proud that even today, after 20 years, amputated families don't recover from their dark and senseless losses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ciro goes to G2

Poster: Gorki Aguila

Prisoner number 6 has convinced me I was wrong that that everyone in the G2 is a counterrevolutionary, which nobody knows. For example, Furri signed the Varela project, Section 81 developed and works with the Agenda for the Transition, and Escalana Regueira is an incredible junky. Who knew? Obviously no one, they are very uninformed but I on the other hand have first hand information in the wardrobe. In addition, they assured me that every day they have lobster for lunch and that all the fillies of MININT are lesbians and they make cakes after work.

Now I am secret agent and my new secret name is Lieutenant Telaplico. I am going to start by taking in for interrogation certain antisocial elements like the one you see in the photo. This freak is trying to make three other freaks get up early on Saturdays to practice, something unacceptable and deserving of exemplary punishment. Goodbye.

PS: Finally I will reclaim my papers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Internet in Cuba: a free space ... for Socialist Morality

I was informed the other day by Ciro that a new anti-blogger law decree has come out that seems to say something like, “the misuse of the Internet will be penalized, according to Socialist Morality.”
If selling eggs can get you thrown in prison for two years, one can only imagine for attacks against Socialist Morality…
We’ll see who defines this Socialist Morality.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December 10: World Human Rights Day

Photos: Claudio Fuentes Madan

In addition to the National Television news, I try to read that of other agencies to avoid losing the thread of reality. Marx said that the man thinks as he lives. I hardly ever agree with Marx, but just in case I try to get information from all sides to be able to be more discerning.
I always try to read Penúltimos Days; I love the blog of Ernesto Hernandez Busto and through him I know everything that happens in my country, leaving aside the potato harvest and the last speech by Chavez, which I already saw at 8:30 on the stellar Cuban television.
Luckily, the tenth of December I was able to read his blog and I was completely depressed; the repression is out of control. The figures alone speak and I can’t but feel very bad.
To all who were beaten, visited, monitored or warned on this World Human Rights Day, I offer them my solidarity and my support.
To all who today find themselves incarcerated for exercising freedom of expression, I send my thoughts, my admiration, my respect and my gratitude.
I look forward to a day when their names will be written in the Cuban history books in the schools, and when future generations will not, as I do, have to learn of their existence through alternative means.

Note: There are two items on Human Rights in my first two entries in this blog: one in the post "Amnesty" and the other in the post "I shit on the mother of the human rights that…" Each post contains a link to a PDF about human rights.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Semen Festival

Why do they call it a Film Festival?
The truth is that I haven’t been, but for a change OLPL comes with this picture of the most representative of what the Compañero Commander in Chief once dubbed “the most cultured people in the world.” I don’t think there’s a woman in Havana who goes to the movies as a pastime who has not gone through this disagreeable experience.
But…who cares?

note: This was the original name of the entry but, as you know, I can’t post and I forgot to send it. I regret that it wasn’t clear that the substance seen in the photo is semen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blogger meeting

Foto: Claudio Fuentes

I want to thank the organizers of this Blogger Meeting and especially Yoani Sanchez for giving me the opportunity to be part of this. I also want to thank the organs of the State Security for having changed the schedule of our encounter: if it had been in Pinar del Río, I would not have been able to participate.
I already have all the papers in my hands. Although I can’t participate in the meetings because I am still resting, and Reinaldo Yoani have given me all the documents, I’m especially sorry not to be able to meet the other bloggers, especially not feel able to know the other bloggers, which I was really looking forward to. Luckily this is only the first of many meetings we will have from now on.

This is what we have:

1. Importance of blogs for fraternal institutions, by Gustavo E. Pardo Valdes.

2. The ethics of writing a blog, by Eugenio Leal of the blog La Colmena (

3. Why Blog? by Andrew Sullivan. It can be read at (

4. The Old Man, the Internet and me, by the Guajiro Azul of the blog Retazos.

5. Citizen journalism: a channel of civil society, by Miriam Celaya González, of the blog Sin EVAsion, (The English version of this blog is here.)

6. Citizen journalism and the information society, by Dimas Castellanos of the blog Emanaciones

7. Blogopedia by Reinaldo Escobar, of the blog Desde Aqui,

8. Notes to motivate a debate around the Cuban blogosphere, by Yoani Sanchez, of the blog Generacion Y, (The English version of this blog is here.)

9. The History of Blogs by Antonio Fumero.

10. Citizens' media,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stories of horror and mystery

Photo: Claudio Fuentes

What with being sick and having entered the operating room, people called me to find out how I was doing and the stories begin to float to the surface.
A French friend didn’t believe that here they undertake menstrual regulation without anesthesia. While another doctor friend smiled ironically and retorted that sometimes they even did a curettage without it. There I was and I couldn’t believe it, I swear I didn’t think it was possible.
But once again life gives me a lesson to stop being so naïve and another girl I’ve known for a short time, but who has proved to be reliable, tells me that when she was 17 she got pregnant and had a menstrual regulation and they left pieces, so that after three weeks she had a terrible infection and had to have a curettage, and they performed the interruption… without anesthesia.
She remembers it as the worst day of her entire life, remembers her screams and the doctor asking her to behave herself…
This girl is younger than I am and is now 23 years old; if she was 17 when everything happened we’re talking about 2003.

Menstrual regulation: The fetus is extracted with a hose that sucks it out; this is done between 3 and 5 weeks of pregnancy.

Curettage: The fetus is extracted with a spoon that scrapes the uterus taking out everything inside; this is done between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

MININT Retirees

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madam

I learn that the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) is distributing a survey to their retirees. For obvious reasons, I didn’t have the chance to scan it, nor to grab a photo, but nevertheless I remember some of the categories and got the general idea.

After name, surname, address, military post etc., they got down to the subject at hand.

How much is your pension?
Do you own a home?
What is the state of it? Good – Bad – Regular
Do you have a car? What make?
A question about household appliances that I don’t remember.
Economic needs?
Other needs?

The last two questions had me laughing out loud; it seems that finally the Ministry of the Interior has decided to conduct a census of misery among its retirees to know exactly how many are literally going hungry with their pensions of 300 pesos, or 400 or 500; it’s all the same because it’s not enough to live on.
The most surprising thing was hearing the comments from the retirees: I’m not going to fill out any form, this is so they’ll know what we’re doing and can get in our houses and sniff around; I’m not going to fill out any form either, after a decade without them remembering me, I don’t think they’re going to come and fix my house for me; I’m not filling out anything, they’re not going to be seeing that my daughter sends me money and decide that I don’t need my pension… etc. etc.
It seems that the young are not the only ones who’ve lost faith.
Despite how long it has taken them and how offensive it could turn out to be, it doesn’t seem bad to me that they worry about those who today are looking at 70, with something less than the income of the 40 years they spent breaking their backs for MININT. Despite having seen themselves during a number of years with no right to touch a dollar, while it was already at 150 on the street and people were starting their businesses. Both my mother and my father were military. Maybe that’s why I was the last kid in my elementary school to see a dollar while I wondered why, if my parents worked until seven at night, all the other kids could buy ice cream in the foreign currency store on the corner while I was still eating boiled cabbage.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lucas Prizes

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Here I am watching The Lucas Awards... how revolting!
Always the same, it would seem that there are only 5 pop groups, 4 rock groups and 2 salsa bands. The directors of the video clips, coincidentally, are always the same.
I think I said in my previous post that they call me “the radical. For some time I’ve lost hope in Cuban intellectuals and artists (those based on national territory). Fear and accommodations are worth more than art, solidarity and any kind of activity that might threaten small business. But after what happened with Gorki, it makes me nauseated.
But the other day Ciro, always so sympathetic with his compañeros (an evil intention it won’t be and vice versa), said to me: Look, Claudia, the good thing about Porno Para Ricardo is that we’ve raised the bar so much and the level of censorship we’ve seen has been forced down; now other groups can sing things that maybe if we had not already done “El Comandante” and “El General” they couldn’t do it, and they go through official channels and do critical lyrics and it’s fine. We are the black sheep.
So I get to see Nassiry (of Hard Currency) singing “Why your evil intentions” and I feel good.
I can’t deny that Ciro’s right, even if it’s painful for me to see them become the black sheep for the government and the musicians as well. I don’t know how they even have the desire to do a study to help the underground scene which has demonstrated that it will never help them… but in the end, I have to recognize that I’m also a victim of this spirit of the “evil intentions.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Me too!

With Reinaldo Escobar on the phone, although without an internet connection, I learned from him about everything that has happened, I didn’t have time to express my frustration over the cancellation of our first blogger meeting of, because at that very moment a policeman knocked on my door to deliver my respective citation:

Present yourself tomorrow at the police station in Zapata and C at 2 pm.

I owe you a photo of the summons.

PS: Here you have it:

The Agency of Rock (small urban anecdotes)

The Agencia del Rock [Agency of Rock] has had a meeting to present the New Freak Statutes. Among the more colorful “guidelines” we find:

- Don’t say bad words.
- No public nudity.
- Don’t conduct yourself in an indecent manner.
- Don’t invite banned groups to play at concerts.

It seems like a joke but it’s not. The best are the anecdotes about what happened when Yuri (president of the agency of the rock, but for more information listen to the song “El Agente Yuro” by Porno Para Ricardo) finished reading.
Juan Carlos of Combat Noise, asked what might happen if it was decided to invite PPR to play. From which ensued the apparent hysterics of the president who, at the mere mention of the word Porno…, appeared to suffer a colapsus mentis.
Then came the famous case of Zeus, whose lead vocalist decided the ban on nudity surely didn’t cover taking off his pants, and he took them off at a full concert at the brand new Maxi Rock, with a corresponding Freak Warning Letter threatening him with expulsion from the Agency.
And so we go.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Of beans and other demons

Having a camera is a marvel, it inspires me. Soon I will take it back to Yoani but I’ve gotten my two cents worth.

For example, when I was about to spend an hour cleaning the beans from the bodega (as shown in the photo) and started to curse, as is my custom every time I find an absurd amount of foreign objects in the grains, it inspired me.

I don’t know why the rationed products are called subsidized in the international media: with an average wage of 300 pesos, eggs cost 25, coffee 5, chocolate 10 and as for domestic appliances, I won’t mention it because it’s not worth it, with the price of a refrigerator alone. In my view we pay a price for these products consistent with our earnings (not the appliances, there are many people who can’t even buy a pot); some years ago they threatened to end the ration system, I believe they can’t.

In the case of those younger, the generation of those still work, everyone knows that we can’t live on our wages. This is a national principal: it’s not a living wage. That’s why the war against the black market and illegal acts is a failure from the start and the government knows it. However, the Cuban population is old, and every year it becomes older, the birth rate is flat and the productive sector flees in all directions towards a more promising exile.

When you’re sixty you can’t run around the streets with a bag of fish to sell, ready to take off running at the first sign of danger, or walk ten kilometers with 30 pounds of yogurt on your back. From the ostracism of the Cuban retiree it’s not possible to steal from the state, or spend four hours cleaning the houses of those who have money, or spend the day in front of a hot stove making pizzas. Although there are some who, unfortunately, are obliged to do so, and incredibly they manage, like the gentleman who sells food at my house, who’s 75 years old and has Parkinson’s disease. It’s really saddening to see him pick up the bread while he has no control over his hands.

What do they have left? To eat the inadequate food from the soup kitchens. Believe me, I had one in my house, it’s disgusting and costs about six pesos for a full plate. And then to sell their quota from the ration: the pasta, the rice, the beans, etc… despite the terrible cruelty of the police who, for example, in O’Reilly Street in Old Havana, don’t hesitate to bring charges against a group of octogenarians and seize 5 tubes of toothpaste, 4 boxes of Tinanic cigars, or 3 boxes of matches.