CUBA BRIEF: Lenin and Marx Return, Cubans still banned from entering establishments, Cuban workers in danger, and The Art of Provoking

Reuters and The New York Times report today that Cuba’s parliament says that the future of Cuba will be guided by the ideas of Jose Marti, Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin.  Dim future indeed.  

Also today The New York Times reports that”U.S. cruise operators and airlines stand to lose around $712 million in annual revenues if the Trump administration fully reinstates restrictions on travel to Cuba [according to the] Washington lobby group Engage Cuba.” Not a word about how many millions the Castro dynasty is likely to lose and how the regime continues to maintain a large contingent of Cuban security officers in Venezuela whose main task is to repress and murder protesters against President Maduro. The Engage executives concerns are strictly limited to their clients profits.

14yMedio, the digital daily based in Havana recently focused on the plight of Cuban workers: “Danger, Men at Work.” The article says that “workers say the principal causes of work accidents are poor organization, the chaotic supply of protective gear and measures, and the incompetence of unions in demanding compliance with safety protocols.” [Full Article]

This week Jorge Enrique Rodriguez writing from Havana asked “Do we Cubans still need permission to enter state establishments?” He quotes a Cuban chef: “even though the ban restricting access to hotels and tourist services was repealed years ago, we are still not seen in these places as customers, but rather as a nuisance, or as potential hustlers.”

Cubanet carried a provocative article by Cuban professor, for the time being at Harvard, Jorge Olivera Castillo who wants to know if Donald Trump is anti-Castro. Professor Olivera who is an important Cuban intellectual wrote in Cubanet that ” the evidence indicates that Donald Trump’s promises to bring to a halt the rapprochement with Cuba’s government that was begun by Obama were campaign rhetoric.” Olivera spent his life in Cuba where Fidel Castro and now his younger brother are able to turn government policy in a second without need of consultation or analysis. Washington is different. Now that the President has focused on NATO, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, North Korea, terrorism, several trade deals and China it is hoped that Cuba policy will come up. In the meantime, after Trump came to The White House, and recently he has reaffirmed his previous statements and U.S. Ambassador to the UN and the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America have done likewise. 
To conclude, CubaBriefwe include Yoani Sanchez’s article “Jesus Hernandez-Guero Or The Art Of Provoking” 

The New York Times, June 1, 2017

Cuban Parliament Approves Communist Party Roadmap


HAVANA — With less than a year until Raul Castro steps down as president, Cuba’s parliament approved documents on Thursday confirming the Communist Party as the country’s guiding force and banning the concentration of private property and wealth.

The national assembly was summoned for an extraordinary session to approve Communist Party documents reaffirming the one-party political system and state domination of the socialist economy, even as the Caribbean island allows some private business and foreign investment. The ratification by assembly deputies was unanimous, as is usually the case after some discussion.

The meeting was called as U.S. President Donald Trump considers rolling back the U.S.-Cuban detente launched under his predecessor, Barack Obama, due to what he charges is a lack of democracy and respect for human rights in Cuba.

While the documents were drafted before Trump’s election last November, their approval sent a clear message that Cuba will not make the political and economic concessions that Trump has demanded.

“These documents reaffirm the socialist character of the Revolution … and role of the Party as the highest leading force of the society and state,” the state-run Cuban News Agency quoted Castro as saying during closing remarks.

The meeting was closed to foreign journalists. [More]


14yMedio, May 30, 2017

Jesus Hernandez-Guero Or The Art Of Provoking

By Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 30 May 2017 — If something is clear in the work of Jesus Hernández- Güero is that he is not a complacent artist. His transgressive look is insolent and unrelated to any political militancy, religious creed or commercial convenience. The artist raises sparks everywhere: in Cuba where he was born and in Venezuela where he now resides.

In 2008, Hernández-Güero decided that his graduation thesis at Cuba’s Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) would be a book entitled La Tercera Pata, with texts by journalists and writers censored. He collected writings by the poet Rafael Alcides, the former prisoner of the Black Spring Oscar Espinoza Chepe, and the narrator Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, among others.

That effort led him to knock on many doors and more than a few saw him as a provocateur. He wanted to show the national journalistic tradition that includes figures like Félix Varela and José Martí, a tradition that was broken when independent publications “were closed and then prohibited” and all that was left “in circulation were those belonging to the State.”

The ISA leadership did not like this character of inclusiveness. Hernández-Güero recalls that a month before the discussion of his thesis the dean summoned him along with his tutor, critic and curator Mailyn Machado, to inform him that the project had not been approved. He had only two options: to take the state test or to present a compendium of his artistic work. [More]


Diario de Cuba, May 31, 2017

Do we Cubans still need permission to enter state establishments?

By Jorge Enrique Rodríguez | La Habana

I recently went to buy cigarrettes at the Ruinas del Parque bar-restaurant, located on the corner of Obispo and Aguacate, in Old Havana. I said “good afternoon” to the doorman, and headed towards the bar, but I was intercepted. Without the least demonstration of courtesy, the doorman asked me where I was going.

Flustered by both his question and rude tone, I asked him whether I needed permission to frequent an establishment open to all.

“The Cubans grew ignorant, and now they want to trample everything,” was his reply. Sporting a guayabera and with a martial bearing, he failed to explain what my ignorance consisted of, or what exactly I was trampling.

Ruinas del Parque, a bar-restaurant with open-air tables, is part of a whole series of state-owned businesses located within Havana’s historic center. Decades back they served foreign tourists almost exclusively, the high prices of their products and services making them inaccessible to everyone else. [More]