CubaBrief: Jailed dissident on hunger strike 29 days. Populism Cuban Style. The true face of GAESA. West Wing reads Frank Calzon.

West Wing Reads Calzon

Frank Calzon’s recent USA Today article is among several featured today at The White House blog In the section West Wing Reads for 6/19/17 says:

In foreign policy news, in USA Today, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba Frank Calzon writes “let’s support the president and send the message to Havana that if the military regime wants millions from America, its anti-American foreign policy and repression at home must change.”

Babalu Blog, June 22, 2017

Imprisoned Cuban dissident Jorge Cervantes hospitalized on 29th day of hunger strike

June 22, 2017 by Carlos Eire

Loosely translated from Marti Noticias

Cuban dissident Jorge Cervantes García, who has been on a hunger strike for 29 days, was transferred on monday to Ernesto Guevara provincial hospital in Las Tunas.

Jorge is a member of the Coordinating Council of the dissident organization UNPACU.

He has been accused of “disrespecting authority”because he complained to local Communist Party officials in Las Tunas about the constant harassment he and his family were being subjected to by Castro State Security agents.

He began a hunger strike on May 23 at in protest of the charge leveled against him.

While on hunger strike he has been held in an isolated punishment cell at Potosí prison.

During her last visit to him two weeks ago, his wife Gretchen Torres found him very poor health. She reports that he was “naked, with long hair and a beard.”

His family was not informed of his worsening condition or his transfer to a hospital. When his wife Gretchen went to visit him at the Potosí prison on wednesday, she was informed that his health had deteriorated so much that he had to be hospitalized.

“He was moved days ago and no one knew about it,” said Tamir García Merino, a coordinator for UNPACU.

Jorge Cervantes is a veteran of Castronoid prisons, having previously endured 14 years behind bars as a prisoner of conscience.

His family and friends have yet to receive any information on his condition.

Read the whole report HERE in Spanish  

14ymedio, June 13, 2017

Populism Cuban Style: Conquests, Threats and Leadership

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 6 June 2017 — The leader speaks for hours on the platform, his index finger pointing to an invisible enemy. A human tide applauds when the intonation of a phrase demands it and stares enraptured at the bearded speaker. For decades these public acts were repeated in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, shaping the face of revolutionary populism.

However, Fidel Castro’s extensive speeches constituted only the most visible part of his style of governing. They were the moments of collective hypnotism, peppered with promises and announcements of a luminous future that allowed him to establish a close bond with the population, to incite class hatred and to extend his growing power.

Castro has been the most complete product of Cuban populism and nationalism. Evils that sink their roots into national history and whose best breeding ground was the Republican era (1902-1958). Those winds brought the hurricane that shaped a young man born in the eastern town of Biran, who graduated as a lawyer and came to hold the military rank of Commander-in-Chief.

The political framework in which Castro was formed was far from a democratic example. Many of the leaders of that convulsed Cuba of the first half of the twentieth century did not distinguish themselves by presenting programmatic platforms to their constituents. The common practice was horse-trading to obtain votes, along with other aberrations such as stealing ballot boxes or committing fraud.

From his early days, the young attorney elbowed his way into the milieu of those figures who relied on gangster like behavior, rather than the transparent exercise of authority. He quickly absorbed many of the elements of demagoguery that would be greatly useful to him later when the time came to subject an entire nation.

Unlike republican populism, whose purpose was the conquest of electoral favor, revolutionary populism had as its goal the abolishment of the structures of democracy. From January 1959 the civic framework was systematically dismantled and the laws were subjugated to the disproportionate will of a single man. [More]



The true face of GAESA in Havana’s Historic Quarter

Rolando Martínez | La Habana | 22 de Junio de 2017

“What has the change from Habaguanex to GAESA been like?”



“Because the military management is inept. They demand too much and want to intimidate us. Imagine: if you refuse to work with them, or ask for leave, they threaten to seize your passport for a year.”

So says Roberto, 41, a founded clerk at Habaguanex S.A. He says that they worked very hard in the Historic Center. “We built something that we can touch with our hands. We don’t need repressors, but better salaries.”

Almost a year after a commercial conglomerate of the Havana Historian’s Office was absorbed by the military consortium GAESA, many workers at the 20 hotels, 56 bars and cafes, 39 restaurants and more than 200 shops – among them boutiques, perfumeries, florists, pharmacies, opticians, jewelers, liquor stores and food establishments – feel uncomfortable with their new bosses, and some are even considering leaving the entity.

“They are so bungling,” says Osmani, a 38-year-old worker, “that the new management of the Santa Isabel hostel in the Plaza de Armas closed the service entrance, so maintenance and other employees now have to pass through the lobby on their way to their jobs.”

Eusebio [Leal] made arrangements with families so that they could manage some hostels and businesses, an experiment that yielded excellent results,” says Mikhail, a 43-year-old custodian. “But at the Hostal Valencia, for example, Gaviota already fired them.”

“Now there are more shortages than before,” says Yoslaine, 32, a cashier at a grocery store. “There is also apathy, a lack of staff, and fewer searches. There are long lines to pay, and the bosses couldn’t care less if the customers complain.” [More

Free Cubans participate in US Cuba policy discussion

Ambassador Otto Reich on MSNBC  

Yale Professor Carlos Eire on NBC Connecticut 

Frank Calzon on Fox News