Under the Umbrella of Jose Marti / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 5 February 2016 — A few days ago the 2nd International With All and For the Good of All Conference was held in Havana, a government activity that, according to its organizers, brought together more than 500 delegates from around 50 nations.

It is convenient to seriously talk about and study Marti, although in this case the title of the Conference is ironic, because it takes place in a country where the commitment to Jose Marti’s “with all and for the good of all” has not been met.

The participants, as expected, with some exceptions, are part of the international fauna who unconditionally support the Cuban regime and make up its associations of solidarity. Analyzing and deepening Jose Marti’s thought is a mask of their true objectives: trying to confront the current process of changes where leftist and populist ideas are suffering a setback.

For many years now, Cuban leaders have realized that Marti, with his universal thinking, appeals to everyong, a kind of “Chinese ointment.” Early on they used the authority of Marti to justify the Moncada attack, and then used and reused him according to the interests of the moment, linking him to Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and other historical characters.

To accomplish this, his ideas have been carefully chosen, eliminating all those that contradicted with the regime, such as the following:

“The country is the happiness of all, the pain of all, the sky of all, and no one person’s fiefdom or chaplaincy.”

“The haters should be declared traitors to the republic. Hatred does not build.”

“All unchecked power exercised over a long time degenerates into a caste system.”

“No masks can be worn in countries with a free press, which blows through the city each morning like an unruly wind, lifting all masks.”

“I think they kill my child every time they deprive a person of their right to think.”

Some characters are already “fixed points” in these activities like, Frei Beto, Atilio Borón, Iganacio Ramonet and others, who know very well what the Cuban authorities like to hear. Acting accordingly, assures them an all-expense paid invitation to future events.

The sad thing is that there are still honest people who, believing they are doing something important for the good of the Cuban people, lend themselves to the game.

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Ignorance and Fanatacism / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 20 January 2016 — After fifteen years of combined misrule by him and his predecessor, it now appears the Venezuelan president — having recently lost a legislative majority in the National Assembly — has come up with a plan to solve all of Venezuelans economic problems in 2016. The plan is to be presented by his party’s deputies, now in the minority, who refer to themselves as “the patriots.”

It is worth asking why this wonderful plan was not presented and executed when Hugo Chavez and his party enjoyed almost absolute power, a time when there was only minor opposition in the National Assembly. Are they now trying to do what they could not do fifteen years ago? Some fools actually believe this!

Chavism along with Castro-ism are mutant economic failures which do not follow any laws of economics, relying instead on volunteerism and improvisation, practices which carry no assurances of success.

Since the Venezuelan president’s current plan relies on these methods, the results can be expected to be minimal, especially given all the commotion and propaganda accusing the opposition beforehand of not being able to implement it.

They will make good use of the profusion of enormous portraits of Bolivar and Chavez, with which they have dementedly used to adorn all of Venezuela, a demonstration of ignorance and fanaticism alien to the noble history of the Venezuelan people.

There were those who demanded respect for election results — whatever they might be — when they were convinced the opposition would lose in a landslide. Now they are trying to undermine the recent outcome through subterfuge, slander, lies and other petty, unethical arguments while taking advantage of the hold they still have over the Supreme Court, which remains blatantly partisan.

It will fool some of the people — the usual bunch — but not most Venezuelans.

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Unnecessary Portraits / Fernando Damaso

A banner of Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez is seen at the Venezuelan embassy in Havana March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

A banner of Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez is seen at the Venezuelan embassy in Havana March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Fernando Damaso, 9 January 2016 — In Venezuela it appears that the “Chavista circus” is coming to the end of its work in some public spaces, in this case in the Legislative Palace where the National Assembly meets, from where some portraits of the “eternal president” — as designated by himself before his death — have been removed, leaving only those of the Liberator Simon Bolivar, uncontaminated and unadulterated by fanatical Chavez propaganda.

This practice of placing yourself under the protective shadow of some independence leader to better sell yourself to the masses, seems to be a tactic conceptualized by the majority of “populist” Latin Americans: their principal victims being Bolivar, Sucre, San Martin, Marti and others.

The Chavistas have extended this practice to their embassies and here, in Havana, on 5th Avenue in the Miramar district, they have imposed on us an enormous photograph of their smiling “eternal president”on the facade of their embassy. Fortunately this bad example has not spread, freeing us from converting this avenue and others into a portrait gallery of different specimens of political fauna, further spoiling the city.

Mr. Venezuelan Ambassador can put a photo of his “eternal president” any place he wants in the building, even in the bathrooms, but should not impose it on every Cuban who travels down that avenue. In addition to a provocation, it is disrespectful, because not all of us commune with the ideas of the man in the portrait, and it is a violation of public adornment laws, which should be taken into account by the appropriate authorities.

Given what is happening in Venezuela now, it is being demonstrated more convincingly every day that the Supreme Court has been an organ subjugated to Chavismo, and has been used and is being used to legitimate its misdeeds. This is happening right now with the absurd contesting of the election results obtained by some deputies, which shows that the court lacks impartiality and, what’s more, credibility.

The same thing is happening with the TV channel TeleSur, which is nothing more than a propaganda channel for Chavismo and Latin American “populism,” lacking seriousness and, even more so, impartiality in its judgments, offering only manipulated news, convenient to its own interests.

Everything that is happening today in Venezuela, should serve as in incentive for many to finally understand the real danger of “populism” and the need to remove it from our continent, if we want to progress, develop ourselves, and march in step with the world, not against it.

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Closed Game / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 29 December 2015 — The year 2015 ends, and stagnation seems to have sat squarely on the Cuban authorities. Entrenched in dogma and their absurd demands to the U.S. Government, shielded in the supposed defense of sovereignty and independence, something they forgot when they delivered the country to the Soviets for 32 years, they aren’t moving any political domino tiles, closing the game with the double nine.

The 12th Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and the work in the commissions, prior to the sessions of the National Assembly, not for the first time repeated the existence of the same problems presented in similar, previous activities, without the appearance of real solutions that would improve the country’s situation or that of its citizens. The talk is of multiple pretenses in all the sectors of production and services, which now form an habitual part of the content of these meetings, where the deputies unanimously approve all agreements without the least disagreement, giving an irrefutable demonstration of totalitarian unity.

The year 2016 is gloomy, with little hope for important changes, at least while the current historical leadership holds power.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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The Chavista Hysteria / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 6 January 2015 — The Chavista hysteria is embarrassing: in addition to being unintelligent it is ridiculous. Those who proclaimed the need to accept and respect the results of the elections, convinced they were going to win, after having lost talk not about the National Assembly, but of the rightists in it. Before, when they were the majority, they could have talked about the leftists in it.

That National Assembly, which until 5 January 2016 was used by the president to do whatever he pleases, and was in reality a simple echo chamber for executive power for the application of its policies, was considered an important body of the system.

Now it turns out, when it is no longer what it was and has been converted into a true democratic legislative body, it no longer serves and is attacked and they are even trying to supplant it with some absurd and anti-constitutional “Assemblies of the Street,” similar to the demented “government of the street” that overthrew Obrador in Mexico some time ago.

The so-called “repentant people” of Venezuela (presumably the Chavistas held a referendum to come to this conclusion) and the also so-called “enraged people” of Cuba, seem like children of the same father.

To accept defeat (with a difference of two million votes) and try to survive in a democracy, for those who prefer the “command and control” of totalitarianism, seems like a an assignment too difficult to pass.

The declarations of the principal personages of Chavismo, starting with the disjointed and mediocre speeches of their indigestible president, seem straight out of the script of some bad play from comic theater.

I don’t think Venezuelans have been wrong to give their votes now to the opposition, but they were wrong before to give them to the Chavistas. In reality, the corrected their previous mistake. In short, a correction of the wise.

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Against the Changes / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 1 January 2016 — The Cuban authorities and their organizations inserted into civil society, have launched a fierce media campaign against the politicians elected by the majority of their citizens to hold public office both in Argentina and in Venezuela: in the first case, the presidency of the country, and in the second a majority in the National Assembly.

Reading and hearing the statements, it seems that the Argentinians and Venezuelans have mistakenly given their votes to criminals, traitors, mercenaries, and other anti-socials, denying those votes to the “good and self-sacrificing Kerchnerists and Chavistas,” the “eternal patriots” of their respective countries.

There is nothing new here, despite all the carrying on by those who cannot lose gracefully. We recall that, contrary to the will of the majority of Puerto Ricans, both the Cuban authorities and their related organizations called for the “independence” of Puerto Rico, although only 4% of the population showed an interest in this while 96% rejected it. Things of primitive fanaticism!

Nor do they cease to express their support for an expansionist Russia, the Syrian dictatorship, the Columbia drug traffickers, and all those who speak ill of the West or act against it.

Now they ask for support for Chavism in Venezuela, talking about external interference, while President Maduro invents new tricks to remain in power. It seems that the seven million votes achieved by the opposition came from outside the country, and were not deposited in the ballot boxes by Venezuelans.

There is also talk of a strange union between the Chavistas and the civic-military forces to confront the new National Assembly. “Something is rotten in Denmark,” as Hamlet would say.

Nor is the Argentinean president immune to the populist-leftist onslaught.

Always from the side of the anti-democrats, totalitarians, populists, demagogues, and the extreme left, despite “the many blows life has handed them.”

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Misplaced Support / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 18 December 2015 — Cuban authorities as well as organizations that make up the so-called official civil society have unleashed a ferocious campaign against politicians elected to public office by a majority of their citizens. In Argentina it was a presidential election while in Venezuela the opposition won a wide majority in the National Assembly.

Hearing and reading their statements, one would think that Argentinians and Venezuelans, lacking political maturity, had mistakenly cast their ballots for criminals, outsiders, mercenaries, traitors and other anti-social types instead of for the good, noble and selfless kirchernerista and chavista candidates, the “eternal patriots” of their respective countries.

Such out of control hysteria is nothing new given the outcry from the losers. Remember that, despite the expressed will of a majority of Puerto Ricans, both the Cuban authorities and their affiliated organizations continued to clamor for Puerto Rican independence, something for which only 4% of the population voted and which 96% rejected.

There is similar support for the FARC narco-guerillas, who are now in negotiations with the legitimate government of Colombia, which was duly elected by a majority of its citizens. Unfortunately, there are many other similar examples in all parts of the world. Illustrations of a primitive fanaticism!

Always on the side of those who reject democracy, of totalitarians, of populists and the extreme left in spite of “the many blows which life has dealt.”

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A Policy Difficult to Understand / Fernando Damaso

One of the demands the Cuban government is making of its American counterpart as part of the normalization of relations is the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and an end to the preferential treatment professionals who leave the island receive under the so-called wet foot, dry foot policy.

The recent stampede to Ecuador and the arrival of massive numbers of Cuban emigres in Costa Rica are being used — with the help of the Nicaraguan government, which is prohibiting their passage through its territory — in an effort to pressure the U.S. government.

The situation is complicated by the arrival of hundreds of Cuban migrants in Panama and the announcement by U.S authorities that they have no intention of modifying either the Adjustment Act or their immigration policy. The Cuban government has not given up and, by putting pressure on other governments in the region, has succeeded in preventing the authorized flow of migrants toward their ultimate destination: the United States.

This has created a tense situation, both in Costa Rica as well as in Panama, where there are currently more than six-thousand stranded Cubans. The island’s authorities are acting as they have no direct responsibility for a situation in which they are in fact the party most responsible.

Though billed as a visit to discuss economic and political issues, the recent trip by the president of Costa Rica to Cuba was part of an effort to find a solution to the problem. Return of the migrants to their home country is not an option. Not only do they no longer have anything there, but they have no desire to return, as they have repeatedly made clear. This is perhaps the most dramatic aspect of the problem.

An objective analysis would indicate the chief beneficiary of this wave of emigration to in fact be the Cuban government. The departure of citizens who have no interest in being part of the socialist experiment relieves social pressure.

At the same time, more Cubans in the United States means more remittances to family members on the island, which ultimately end up in the hands of the state. This is a win-win for the government, even with the loss of dollars it would have received by renting out the services of its health care professionals, many of whom have themselves become emigres.

The policies of the island’s authorities are often difficult to understand.

14 December 2015

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A Temper Tantrum is Never Beautiful / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 11 December 2015 — The temper tantrum of President Nicolas Maduro and his Chavistas, in addition to being tragic, is comical. Now, after losing the National Assembly, won cleanly through the will of Venezuelans by the opposition, he’s rushing around trying to approve laws and regulations before the handover of power, with the objective of keeping his supporters in the government, in the name of a supposed defense of the workers. It’s like sticking corks into a boat that is taking on water.

Maduro’s demonstrated inability as president, along with the clownish bird that gave him directions, and his multiple mistakes, are the main causes of his failure and of the failure of Chavismo. Blaming the opposition media, the national and international right, the “empire” and others supposedly at fault, is nothing more than the sad lament of a loser, incapable of recognizing and honestly accepting his defeat.

Accusing the opposition-victors of being counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries, the people for whom most Venezuelans voted, is accusing the voters as well of being counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries. These ravings demonstrate his political incompetence and his lack of tact in dealing intelligently with an adverse situation.

If the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) wants to ever have a shred of credibility and regain the support of a majority of Venezuelans, it should start by getting rid of the ballast represented by Maduro, Diosdado Cabello and other losers, including Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, whom he calls not his “First Lady” but rather his “First Fighter.”

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A Deplorable Example / Fernando Damaso

Source: Video of Rafael Alcides by Miguel Coyula

Former street trees in Havana. Source: Video of Rafael Alcides by Miguel Coyula

Fernando Damaso, 2 December 2015 — Once again we residents of Nuevo Vedado have had to suffer the incompetence and irresponsibility of the “Tree Destruction Brigade” from the Electric Company. Without the least knowledge of what it means, they “prune” them, leaving just a trunk with two or three branches that look more like arms with their hands amputated, raised to heaven begging for mercy.

As if that weren’t enough, they drop large branches over the electrical wires, caused them to break and even causing the badly anchored poles to fall down, interrupting service for twelve or more house, until they can make a repair, which generates the use of unplanned for resources and extra expenses paid for by hapless citizens… you and me.

The responsibility for this debacle lies with the Electric Company — which, despite the constant criticisms from the population that is subjected to its poor service, the worst possible administration, faulty meter readings, and the presentation of inflated bills and the bungling of every kind of task, such as replacing the posts, leaving stumps across the sidewalks as obstacles to pedestrians — seems to enjoy a status of official privileged, and they never take action against it nor against those who run it.

Without a doubt, the Electric Company is a magnificent example of the inefficiency and bad work of a “great socialist state enterprise,” where the citizen is a simple and defenseless user, and must mourn, those of us who know it, the vilified Cuban Electrical Company that repairs, maintains, prunes and does all its work without blackouts and without annoying the citizens, who are its clients.

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