Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Laying the Groundwork for Another 1912

"Laying the groundwork for another 1912"
by Alberto N Jones
8 december, 2009
Approximately fifteen years ago, a well funded campaign organized by the US-AID, NED, right-wing Cuban-American groups in south Florida and elsewhere, was poised to create an Afro-Cuban/anti-Castro leadership corps, charged with fomenting oppositions groups inside Cuba, disguised as Independent Journalists, Farmers, Librarians, Healthcare and others and to dilute the historical Afro-American support of Cuba. Evidently December 1, 2009 was their chosen D-Day.

After an intensive lobbying campaign of phone calls, e-mails, letters to the editor and Human Rights Organization’s fraudulent assessments, an explosive letter entitled “Afro-American Group Challenges Cuba on Race” scathingly described the brutal government-imposed racism in Cuba, which captured the signature of over 60 prominent Afro-American and Caribbean scholars and social researchers.

This corrosive document was most likely conceived, structured and promoted by Dr. Carlos Moore from Brazil, in a grand finale of his 50 year old, visceral hatred against the Cuban government; forcing the Afro-American community and others, to take sides in this thorny, divisive issue.

Documenting real or bogus statistics describing the existence of slavery, racism, segregation, white supremacists or lynching resonates immediately with blacks everywhere, who have had the unique experience of being victims of this human scourge.

Therefore, it was not necessary for some willing to sign this spurious document, to be knowledgeable of Cuba’s very complex, intractable 500 year old history of slavery and its aftermath or to have ever been in Cuba for that matter, to align themselves with such a vivid and painful part of our lives. This document was simply talking about a rope, where a family member had been hanged!

Publishing this open letter has been a treacherous attack on hundreds of Afro-Cubans intellectuals inside Cuba, who for the past twenty years or more, have waged an honorable and discreet struggle in defense of the plight of the Afro-Cuban people, as they walked a tight rope, not to be perceived as agents of foreign governments our mouthpieces of this and other Afro-Cuban groups, bent on subverting the Cuban government.

In every opportunity I have had, I willingly shared with Dr. Moore and others, the dangers of disrupting this ongoing process in Cuba, which has exhibited signs of progress, albeit much too slow for most of us. We emphasized the importance of unity and a uniform approach in presenting our peoples need.

Yet, it seems, personal ego, financial gains or international recognition means more to some, than solving the injustices they are denouncing.

Although I am not a historian, anthropologist, psychologist, writer or researcher, I have been forced since the late 80’s to become part of this discourse, notwithstanding my simple, ordinary writing and frequent brutalization of the English language, in order to express my concerns and potential consequences of the slippery slope we were entering.

Some of these concerns can be found in more than 500 articles in afrocubaweb, Cuba Journal, Cubanews, the Cuban Nation, blogs, letters to the editors in the US and the Caribbean, speaking engagements in Churches, Schools, Arts Festivals, Universities, Social Groups, Local, County Government, the US Congress and Senate.

For these reasons, we have been aiding Guantanamo province with its very large Afro-Cuban population, who are the prime target of the US Embargo/Blockade because of their limited family foreign remittances, no joint ventures/corporations paying wages in hard currencies and literally a non-existent tourist industry with access to hard currency, our humanitarian groups have pumped millions of dollars in health, education, physically challenged and sports donations, intended to mitigate their basic sufferings.

Tens of pleas for help for the elderly, infirmed, children or after natural disasters of this region, have gone unheard by these grieving Afro-Cubans, engaged in writing letters and books.

How do they expect to stop a hungry baby from crying, an elderly in pain, an infirmed without adequate medication or a physically challenged without a prosthesis to make his life bearable?

Not even technical/professional literature for medical schools, they have been willing to provide and would rather label those extending a helping hand as Castroites.

The contradictory behavior of these individuals, interested in increasing the suffering of the same people they gladly provide with a flash memory to hear their diatribe, religious or double-edged literature, hopes of a better future while starving, has never made sense to me.

Nor have I ever bought into their extreme, paternalistic Africanism, when communities ravaged by unemployment, drug addition, violence, prostitution, murder or ignorance, lie a few miles away from their gated communities and they are oblivious to their hopelessness and solely interested in what is taking place in Cuba.

I am not disputing the existence of a pervasive inequality, poverty, segregation and the overdue need for preferential treatment of Afro-Cubans to be instituted immediately in order to level the playing field. No one, on the other hand, can deny how much progress Afro-Cubans have achieved in the past 50 years, but that is beyond the point.

Thousands fought, were injured and died in an effort to create an egalitarian society, which for most, is yet to be achieved. Whites in Cuba continue to monopolize government, administration, management, education, best neighborhoods, travel, cars and every possible social development of Cuban life. This is an irrefutable fact!
Blacks to a great extent continue to live in marginal, overcrowded neighborhoods, with high prevalence of illegalities, incarceration on lower educational levels. Cuba is different than most other countries and can not therefore mimic those societies in which the wealth of the nation is concentrated in the hands of the selected few.

This is and must be the cause of our struggle, not to undermine and hopefully create a system similar to our places of residence, where these glaring inequalities are beyond repair.

As it was partially stated in the response of Afro-Cuban intellectuals, Cuba has done more than all nations together to liberate countries in Africa under Apartheid. Cuba has educated more sons and daughters of Africa than anyone else. Cuba has provided more healthcare and education to the underdeveloped world than the rest of nations combined.

But this cannot be a cop out; this is a failed argument, not to confront blatant abuses that subsist in our country. Cuba is maybe the only country in the world that can exhibit and have the courage to do what all others have ran away and hidden from.

The time has come, for our government and others around the world to come clean, admit publicly that everything visible and invisible in our countries and in Europe, was built and exists with tons of tears, sweat, blood and millions of lives of brutalized blacks.

Millions of Africans ripped away from our homeland, were not only deprived of our language, culture, religion, we were forced to create billions to enrich Europe and cities that are today world heritages, while their descendents are still living in slums of the XIX Century.

Beautiful cathedrals in Spain are adorned with the finest woods of our continent, while natives in our countries are being buried in makeshift coffins, because all of our forests were ravished.

It is no accident that many still are angry at President Barack Obama for accepting President Hugo Chavez gift, The Open Veins of Latin America, which depicts like no other what these God-fearing, democratic-posturing, election-demanding folks did to our peaceful natives and our enslaved forefathers.

Cuba was a model, a symbol to the world, when it demonstrated that Batista, his Mafia friends and the US government backing could be defeated in 1959.

Cuba was and continues to be a model to the Third World for what it has done since for its people and millions around the world. Therefore, nothing can justify keeping this nation from wiping its slate clean of all vestiges of racism, inequalities and segregation, that puts our country on the same social level as its neighbors and allows the worst human rights violators to attempt to take our country to court.

Worst yet, is that Afro-Cubans have been educated, they have been thought to think critically and they are able to discern right from wrong. These factors make it impossible for any one in government in Cuba, to pretend this burning issue can be placed on the back burner or swept under the rug.

Our country will never achieve its rightful place in history as it deserves, as long as the majority of its population, has not been transformed and Cuba is not allowed to become the society with the highest per capita of educated Blacks in the world.

If we did that, there will never be another 1912 in Cuba or in our region.

Monday, November 30, 2009

La Paradojas de Dos Mujeres Cubanas

"La Paradoja de Dos Mujeres Cubanas"
por Alberto N. Jones
26 de noviembre, 2009

Alberto N. Jones
November 26, 2009

En el año 2006, miembros de la direccion de la cadena televisiva CNN, se plantearon la necesidad de crear un programa distinto de lo que venian realizando hasta entonces, basado en noticias llenas de muerte, destruccion y calamidades humanas durante las 24 horas al dia, siete dia a la semana, por lo que este debia dedicarse por entero, a rendir homenaje a Personas Ordinarias realizando Actividades Extraordinarias en todo el mundo.

El dia 6 de Diciembre del ano 2007, en el muy apropiado e increiblemente bello Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Nueva York, 2.5 mil millones de personas alrededor del mundo tuvieron la oportunidad de recibir una detallada descripcion audio-visual de las actividades llevadas a cabo por cada uno de los diez finalistas del programa HEROES, en el cual un jurado altamente calificado le otorgo el Primer Premio a Irania Martinez por Defender El Planeta.

El increible honor que le fuera conferido a esta humilde madre Afro-Cuba, que casi en forma independiente transformo un basurero en un Jardin del Eden como fue descrito por el equipo periodistico de CNN, fue capaz ademas, de colocar honrosamente a su ciudad, su comunidad y a su pueblo en el mapa del mundo.

Como pudo haber ocurrido este hecho sin precedentes? La confluencia accidental de distintos factores no relacionados, condujeron a feliz termino, el hecho mas importante en la historia del pueblo de Guantanamo. Algunos elementos.

El subito colapso de la Union Sovietica y los demas paises del campo socialista significo para Cuba, la perdida del 40% de sus mercados de importacion/exportacion, transacciones financieras, materia prima, assistencia tecnica y un impacto mental traumatico, al encontrarse sin aliados socio/politicos/financieros y una amenza real de hambruna, falta de medicina, suministros medicos, apagones interminables y la posibilidad real de un colapso total como habia sido previsto en las teorias del Domino.

En lo que la historia tendra que reconocer como otra osadia de Fidel Castro similar al ataque al cuartel Moncada en 1953, a la invasion maritima de 1956 para desencadenar la insurreccion, la direccion del contra-ataque de Playa Giron en 1961, la Crisis de Octubre de 1962 y la direccion de la estrategia militar que derroto al Apartheid y la demolicion de la maquinaria militar mas poderosas del continente Africano.

En apasionados discurscos, el presidente Cubano llamo a su pueblo a crecerse y ponerse a la altura de nuestros proceres, quienes forjaron la independencia de Cuba con su sangre y sus vidas, transformado ahora en el Periodo Especial en tiempos de Paz. El nivel de privaciones, sufrimientos y las muertes asociadas a esta tragedia que tuvo lugar en Cuba, nos recordo de una Europa devastada al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Una vez mas y haciendo lo que Cuba ha sabido hacer especialmente cuando esta se encuentra en el suelo y los politicos y academicos han determinado la muerte de este proceso, surgio un mar de ideas, decenas de proyectos, vision y una recien descubierta energia envolvio a la nacion, desmantelando todas las predicciones fatalistas. Entre las nuevas ideas que surgieron al calor de este movimiento estubo, la inmediata transformacion de cada terreno baldio, solar yermo o espacio en la ciudades, fuesen transformados en huertos comunitarios. Como tecnica agricola, Irania Martinez fue asignada al barrio marginal de sur Isleta en Guantanamo.

Debido a una aguda falta de combustible, gomas, piezas de respuestos etc., todos los camiones dedicados a la recoleccion de desechos estaban parados y su funcion fue transferido a carretones de traccion animal. Adicionalmente, la ciudad fue subdividido en regiones, para hacer posible este trabajo mediante la traccion animal, lo que condujo a la creacion de multiples mini-vertederos en lugar del tipico vertedero central.

Cuando Irania arribo al barrio de Isleta para acometer su funcion de adiestrar a personas de la barriada en el desarrollo y manejo de un huerto, ella fue recibida por un enjambre de moscas, hormigas, roedores, un hedor insoportable por la descomposicion organica y un humo asfixiante proveniente de la quema de basura domestica contaminada con material plastico potencialmente cancerigeno.

Al alertar a funcionarios de su empresa sobre el estado insalubre del area, se le dijo que esa funcion no era de su competencia, que se limitara a cumplir con sus funcionnes, a lo cual ella se opuso y en su lugar, comenzo a organizar a los vecinos y a buscar voluntarios dispuestos a ayudarla a sanear dicho ambiente.

Algunos vecinos la apoyaron y carentes medios de proteccion personal, salario o recursos materiales, comenzaron a separar metales, vidrios y otros materiales reciclables y semillas de la materia digerible, que fueron convertido pacientemente mediante el uso de lombriz de tierrra en compost, que a su vez fue colocado en recipientes recuperados, sembrados con semillas extraidas de aquel medio y donado a toda aquel que estuviera dispuesto a cultivar un arbol.

Como resultado de la critica situacion economica que sufria Cuba en general y Guantanamo en particular durante el ano 1992 y mas alla, solicitamos donaciones a infinidad de instituciones sanitarias, educacionales, deportivas o de apoyo a los discapacitados en el estado de la Florida, quienes nos apoyaron generosamente, lo que permitio empacar maletas que enviabamos con cualquier viajero que estuviera dispuesto a llevar un equipaje extra y mas tarde, a traves de cuantas organizaciones solidarias con Cuba, se pudo enviar toneladas de medicina, suministros medicos, material educacional y para los impedidos fisicos.

A raiz de los danos ocasionados por el ciclon Gordon en Guantanamo en el ano 1994, en colaboracion con las demas instituciones solidarias con Cuba en los Estados Unidos, fue posible enviar el primer avion cuatrimotor repleto de donaciones desde Miami, que aterrizara en Cuba despues del ano 1959. Este hecho contribuyo como ningun otro a consolidar nuestra relacion de trabajo con las instituciones de salud, impedidos fisicos y otros en aquella provincia.

Debido a la necesidad de estructurar e institucionalizar nuestra labor humanitaria, fui miembro fundador de la asociacion US-Cuba Sister City, fundamos en el ano 1998 el Caribbean American Children Foundation y somos miembro/fundador de la direccion de St- Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association.

Este proceso legal nos permitio solicitar y recibir multiples licencias del departamento de Comercio y del Tesoro de los Estados Unidos, lo que viabilizo el envio de millones de dolares en medicina, suministros medicos, articulos deportivos, culturales, medio ambientales y para los discapacitados.

Por esta razon, distintas instituciones en Guantanamo nos invitaron a visitar el CEPRU o Centro Ecologico para el Procesamiento de Residuos urbanos. Prometi que iria, pero no estube convencido que visitar un basurero era la mejor forma de utilizar el limitado tiempo de mi visita familiar a esa ciudad.

En una visita sucesiva a Guantanamo, me recordaron nuevamente de su deseo que visitara el CEPRU. Acorralado y sin salida, acepte su invitacion y quede cautivado. La imagen que me encontre ese dia vivira conmigo de por vida, al ver a hombres y mujeres, jovenes y viejos, fisicamente sanos o impedidos, trabajando de manera incansable con sus ropas raidas, sin guantes u otros medios de proteccion personal, separando material reciclable de aquellos digeribles en la basura.

Impresionado con un esfuerzo tan singular, les prometi en el momento, que apoyaria su heroica y peligrosa tarea mediante la recoleccion de ropa de trabajo, guantes, bicicletas, mascaras, implementos de trabajo, los ayudamos a construir una cocina, bano, lavanderia, un aula de computacion, camara fotografica y les orientamos a no llevar sus ropas de trabajo contaminado a sus casas.

Este modesto gesto de solidaridad y respeto, les imprimio un gran impulso a sus tareas, multiplicando y transformando su centro de trabajo en el entorno que impresiono de tal forma al equipo periodistico de CNN y otros grupos procedentes de Estados Unidos y Europa que los han visitado.

El CEPRU es hoy un vivero forestal de mediano tamano con miles de plantas medicinales, flores, arbustos ornamentales, frutales y madera dura. Un humedal para la reproduccion de mariposas esta a punto de ser concluido, se encuentra en operacion una pequena poblacion de cabras lecheras para la produccion de leche para los ninos hospitalizados que son lactosa-intolerantes, se ofrecen seminarios mensuales de proteccion medio ambiental con especialistas de la rama y se coordinan visitas de alumnos de primaria para motivarlos en el amor y proteccion del medio ambiente.

Estos logros nos llevaron de manera equivocada a pensar, que la Mencion Meritoria que le fuera otorgado al CEPRU por el Ministerio de Agricultura, el ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologia y Medio Ambiente, el primer premio que le fuera otorgado por la oficina regional de la FAO en la Habana y el imponente galardon de HEROES por CNN, hubiera convertido a este proyecto en una joya de aclamacion nacional y trampolin para elevar el nivel de conciencia acerca de los retos a nuestro medio ambiente.

Lamentable, ese no ocurrio. El apoyo a este proyecto ha sido pobre o cuestionable. Mulltiples impedimentos artificialmente creados han frenado la implementacion del proyecto Oxigeno Para Todos, que pretendia sembrar un millon de arboles maderables, ornamental y frutales por ano, encaminado a detener y revertir el grave proceso de desertificacion y salinizacion de Oriente Sur.

Sin embargo, ha sido Yoani Sanchez y no Irania Martinez Garcia quien ha hecho tanto en beneficio de su comunidad y que ha ganado el respeto internacional para su pais, quien la virulenta prensa anti-Cubana ha convertido en una celebridad internacional.

El curso que Yoani Sanchez ha escojido para sostener su estilo de vida, alcanzar una fama transitoria a expensa de degradar, mancillar y desmoralizar su pais, es simplemente asquiante. Uno de los principios morales elementales que aprendimos temprano en nuestras vidas, es debatir y resolver las diferencias familiares dentro del seno y nunca fuera de sus confines.
Seria posible, que esta seudo-filologa hubiera podido alcanzar fama internacional y sus "obras" traducidas a 17 idiomas, si el contenido central de su tematica giraria alrededor de los mas de 500 jovenes negros brutalmente asesinados entre si, en las calles de Chicago en el ano 2008?
Cuantos se interesarian por sus articulos, si ella se hubiera ocupado en reportar el vil asesinato de un joven hispano de 18 anos de edad, baleado 11 veces en la espalda, frente y los costados el dia 11/22/09 en Queens, Nueva York, por miembros de una brutal fuerza policiaca?

Ha escuchado alguna vez Yoani Sanchez hablar de Ellinor Bumpers, una abuela de 84 anos de edad, baleada seis veces en su apartamento del Bronx en 1984, por miembros de esta misma honorable fuerza policiaca?

Que decir acerca del emigrante sur Africano Amadou Diallo, al cual la policia de Nueva York le disparo 41 veces e hiriendolo 19 veces, mientras intentaba abrir la puerta de su apartamento en el Bronx en el ano 1999?

Como explicarnos el caso del humilde emigrante Haitiano Abmer Louima al cual, un perverso sexual de la estacion de policia de Brooklyn, le perforo el intestino al introducirle forzosamente el cabo de un destupidor por el recto en el ano 1997 y no parece ser motivo de interes periodistico de algunos?

Tendriamos que estimular a Yoani Sanchez para que investigue las bases del movimiento MOVE de Filadelphia que justifico, que un helicoptero de la policia dejara caer sobre sus casas, una bomba plastica C-4 de cuatro libras, incendiando numerosas casas, mientras la policia, prensa y bomberos observaron indiferentes, como 11 personas, de los cuales cinco eran ninos, morian calcinados en aquel infierno?

Podriamos asumir que Yoani Sanchez hubiera preferido a cualquiera de los policias mencionados mas arriba, que hubiesen intervenido en la lamentalbe, vergonzoso e innecesaria confrontacion reportada con la policia en dias pasados en la Habana?

Es realmente patetico observar como Yoani Sanchez y su esposo se han unido a la industria del odio anti-Cubano para financiar su estilo de vida, la adquisicion sin limites de conexion por internet en hoteles de lujo para exudar su veneno, operar una costosa pagina web operada en Alemania, sin tener que explicarle a su pueblo, la fuente de sus abultados ingresos.

La responsabilidad de este fiasco innecesario, es atribuible enteramente a las autoridades Cubanas, por haber ignorado injustamente los merecidisimos logros de Irania Martinez y permitido que a traves de ese vacio, Yoani, su esposo y amigos, hayan podido escalar desde su oscuro tugurio a inmerecidos niveles de celebridad.

Es derecho de cada ciudadano estar de acuerdo o no con su gobierno y sus leyes. Es igualmente legal el poder expresarlo sin coaccion y menos por la fuerza bruta. Lo que resulta imperdonable, es intentar denigrar a su pais y a su pueblo, en busca de fama y fortuna.

Felizmente en esta tercera edicion de HEROES de CNN y en los que proseguiran en el futuro, no contaran con la presencia de ninguno de estos impostores entre sus homenajeados.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Paradox of Two Cuban Women

"The Paradox of Two Cuban Women"
Alberto N. Jones
November 26, 2009

Sometime during the year 2006, CNN executives conceived a project that would be different than everything they had done until then, in which, rather than the typical 24/7 news filled with death, destruction and human calamity to which we have become addicted, this project would be devoted entirely to pay hommage to ordinary people doing extraordinary things around the world.

On December 6, 2007 in the incredibly beautiful setting of the New York Museum of Natural History, 2.5 billions viewers around the world were treated to a detailed audio-visual desciption of the activities of all ten finalists, from which Irania Martinez from Guantanamo, Cuba, was declared by a high powered Blue Ribbon commission the winner of Defending the Planet.

The incredible honor that was bestowed upon this modest, Afro-Cuban, un-wed mother, who single handedly transformed a solid waste toxic dump in Guantanamo into a Garden of Eden - as described by CNN - was able at the same time, to put her city, her community and its people on the world map.

How could this unprecedented event come about? An accidental confluence of unrelated events, brought into fruition the most important development in the history of Guantanamo.

Some facts:

The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and all of eastern European socialist countries meant for Cuba, loosing overnight 40% of its import/export markets, financial exchange, raw material, supplies, technical assistance and a traumatic mental impact of being without socio/political/financial allies and the threat of mass hunger, lack of medicine, medical supplies, endless blackouts and an imminent collapse as predicted by the "Domino" theory.

In what history will record as an equally daring act by Fidel Castro, similar to when he attacked the Moncada Garrison in 1953, led the sea invasion to ignite the revolution in 1956, directed the counterattack at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and led the military strategy that defeated Apartheid and the most powerful war machine on the African continent. In impassioned speaches, he called upon the Cuban people to stand tall in defense of the fatherland in the image of our forefathers, who forged Cuba's independence with their blood, their lives, midwifing the Special Period in times of Peace. The level of need, deprivations, suffering and related deaths that took place in Cuba during this period, was a stark reminder of a devastated Europe at the end of WW II.

Doing what Cuba have done best whenever it is down and written off by academics and politicians, a flurry of ideas, projects, visions and new found energies came into play, dismantling all fatalistic predictions. Among the many novel ideas that were put in motion, were the immediate transformation of every city vacant lot into a community vegetable garden. As an agricultural technician, Irania Martinez was assigned to the marginal neighborhood of south Isleta.

Because of an acute lack of spare parts, fuel, tires etc., all solid waste trucks in Guantanamo were grounded and exchanged for horse driven wagons. Additionally, the city was sub-diveded into blocks to make it manageable by this new collection technique, by creating tens of mini-solid waste dumps in lieu of the centralized old dump.

When Irania arrived in Isleta, she was received by swarms of flies, ants, rodents, choking smoke from burning household solid waste contaminated with cancerigenous plastic containers and an offensive odor from decomposing matter.

After bringing this challenging health hazard to the attention of her managers, she was told that, that was not of her competence and that she should limit herself to do what she was sent there to do. She not only rejected such orders, she began organizing neighbors and asking for volunteer workers, to start addressing that critical problem.

A few joined and without any personal protection gears, salary or material support, they started sorting, recycling glass, metal, composting and creating a seedling of thousands of hardwood, ornamental and fruits trees, that were given away to everyone willing to nurture a plant.

As a result of the dire humanitarian drama that Cuba in general and Guantanamo in particular was enduring in 1992 and after, we begged, packaged and sent with everyone willing to take an extra suitcase and later through every Cuba solidarity group, tons of medical, educational, physically challenged and sport supplies that were generously donated to us by peace loving, caring people in the state of Florida and beyond.

This working relationship reached its peak after hurricane Gordon hit Guantanamo in 1994 and we were able in collaboration with others, to send the first four engine cargo plane loaded with humanitarian assistance to land in Cuba since 1959. This act created a permanent working relation with the healthcare, education and the physically challenged association of that province.
Because this activity needed to be structured and institutionalized, I became a founding member of US-Cuba Sister City, founded the Caribbean American Children Foundation and an officer in the St Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association.

These legal proceedings allowed us to apply for and receive multiple licenses from the US Treasury and Commerce Department, which enabled us to send millions of dollars in medicine, medical supplies, sports, physically challenged, cultural and environmental health supplies.

This factor, led members of different institutions to invite us to visit CEPRU or the Ecological Center For Processing Urban Refuse. I promised I would, but was not convinced that a solid waste dump was the most interesting place to spend my limited time during my family visits to Guantanamo.

On a second visit to Guantanamo, I was reminded of their desire for me to visit CEPRU. Cornered and with no other possibility, I accepted the invitation and I was doomed. The image I came across that day will live with me forever, as men and women, young and old, physically fit and challenged, worked tireless with their bare hands, ragged clothing, without personal protection, sorting through piles of household refuse.

There and then, I promised that we would support the heroic and dangerous work they were doing, by providing them with work clothing, gloves, mask, bicycles, work tools, help build a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, a computer/classroom, camera and forbade everyone from taking their contaminated work clothes home.

These modest signs of respect and solidarity became a real boost to each of them, who multiplied their efforts and transformed their workplace into the enviroment that so impressed the visiting CNN team.

Today CEPRU has a midsize nursery with thousands of medicinal herbs, flowers, ornamental, fruits and hardwood. A humid pond for butterflies reproduction is about to be completed, a small goat dairy farm for lactose intolerant hospitalized babies is in production, monthly environmental seminars with specialists in the field are held on premises and primary school children are encouraged to visit and learn to love and respect nature.

It was our hopes, that after CEPRU had been awarded meritorious recognitions by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Science and Environment, the regional FAO office and the stunning CNN HEROES first prize, this project would be widely acclaimed by everyone in Cuba and used as a springboard to raise the awareness of the threats to country's environment.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Support has been questionable and bureaucratic impediments have stalled a project, "Oxygen For All," whose goals were to plant one millon fruit, ornamental, hardwood and other trees per year, intended to revert the desertfication/salinization on the southern coast of Oriente.

Yet, it is Yoani Sanchez - not Irania Martinez who have done so much on behalf of her community and earned international respect for her country - who the hostile, anti-Cuba media, have turned into an international celebrity.

The path that Yoani Sanchez have taken to earn a living, achieve transitory fame at the expense of degrading, tainting its image and demoralizing her country, is simply revolting. One of the moral principles we learned early in our lives , is to debate and settle all household differences within our homes, not outside of its confines.

Would this pseudo-phillologist have earned world wide repute and her "works" translated into 17 languages, if she had focused on the 500 plus minority students murdered viciously on the streets of Chicago in 2008?

Would anyone be interested in her writings if she would report on a Hispanic 18 year old youngster shot 11 times in his back, side and forehead in Queens on 11/22/09, by members of the brutal New York Police force?

Have Yoani Sanchez ever heard about Elinor Bumpers, a 84 year old grandmother, shot six times by New York cops in her Bronx apartment in 1984? How about South African emigrant Amadou Diallo, shot at 41 times and hit 19 times while opening his apartment door in Bronx, or Haitian Abner Louima, viciously sodomized with a broom stick in a police precinct in Brooklyn, New York?

Should I remind Yoani Sanchez and encourage her to research the MOVE organization in Philladelphia, on whose home a police helicopter dropped a 4 pound C-4 plastic bomb in 1985, calcinating 11 people among which were 5 children and no one was found guilty?

Should I assume Ms Yoani Sanchez would have preferred any of those police mentioned above, would have handled her recent regretful and uncalled for scuffle with members of the police in Havana?

It is pathetic to see how Yoani Sanchez and her husband have allowed themselves to be used by these Cuba-haters, who have financed their lifestyles for years, provided them with abundant cash to purchase endless internet connection in luxury hotels spewing their excretions and operate a costly web site moderated in Germany, without ever having to explain who is picking up the tab.

No one other than the Cuban authorities are to be blamed for this fiasco, by willfully denying Irania her rightful place in society and for creating a vacuum, where opportunist like Yoani, her husband and friends could walk through from their obscure past into world celebs.

It is everyone's right to agree or disagree with their government and/or its policies. What is repulsive is to denigrate your country and its people in search of false glory.

Fortunately, neither one of them will be on CNN HEROES Third Awards!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As We Push the World Towards Disaster

"As we push the world towards disaster"
Alberto N Jones
November 10, 2009

As I read “Prejudice guides speculation over Fort Hood killings” by Pierre Tristam, Daytona Beach News Journal 11/8/09, I am compelled to reflect into another of his in-depth, objective, analytical journalism that we have come to expect and respect; when he carefully lead us through the violent scourge that have engulfed and is devouring our nation.

As Tristam tries to stay clear of the incendiary speculation and prejudicial Muslim implication in this horrendous crime, a biased and complicit media have conspicuously ignored other despicable acts committed by those without an easy scapegoat background.

Attempting to prevent the root cause of the massacre in Fort Hood and others to come, we marched, held vigils, wrote letters and pleaded with everyone bent on unleashing a monstrous, unjustifiable, lie-laden war on Iraq, which is returning to our shores, sons, daughters and husbands, crazed by hundreds of maimed, charred and mountains of dead bodies that may have changed their lives forever.

When we see a physician who has been trained to help thousands of mentally deranged, morally ravaged soldiers by the horrors of war, doing exactly what he was supposed to prevent, paints a troubling picture of the future, if only 1% of those that have been deployed to that inferno, may be affected by this silent, dreadful syndrome.

Not withstanding the actions of Timothy McVeigh, Allen Muhammad, Malik Hassan and others, all with a common denominator military background, those who have fanned the flames of hatred against Viet Nam, Iraq-I, Balkans, Iraq-II, Iran, Afghanistan and potentially Pakistan into another conflagration; continue today to spew their hate, beat their war drums and are constantly trying to push the United States deeper into the Afghanistan quagmire, from where no nation have ever been able to extricate itself without irreparable damage.

Our efforts to create peace, love and understanding among men may fail once again, as we refuse to tire, give-up or learn to cope with this man-made catastrophe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Pain of Aging, as Cuba Struggles for its Survival

"The pain of aging, as Cuba struggles for its survival"
Alberto N Jones

As years goes by with its crushing forces, we become impatient, fearing that things which are dear to us and others that have played an important role in our lives, may not come to fruition before departing this challenging world.

My deep love and admiration for my family, friends and Cuba, has become an obsession as time slips by at supersonic speed. How much more will I be able to contribute to either of my loved ones when so much remain to be done and our energy is fading rapidly becomes a big question mark?

I was born poor in Banes, a United Fruit Co., sugar plantation community where segregation, hunger and despair was an integral part of our daily lives. Wakes and funerals became our family outings. Moving later to Guantanamo was a social improvement although racism, deficient education and poor healthcare was notable.

This cruel, uncaring society with its huge social disparity, came to the fore when my mother required an urgent hernia surgery and before rushing her to the emergency room, we had to go to Pepe’s home, one of the richest man in town in search of a note, without which, she most likely would not had been admitted to the Pedro A. Perez hospital in Guantanamo.

Similar history repeated itself, when my grandfather was afflicted with diabetes and was admitted to the Saturnino Lora hospital in Santiago de Cuba, where he lost one toe after another. Bedding, meals, medicine had to be taken care of by the patient guardian, who occasionally had to clean the area and/or bathroom.

The public school system was no better, in which the possibility of succeeding was nil, requiring personal connections to advance and financial resources to acquire every piece of school material which many could not afford. That’s why 4th grade became the cut-off point for most.

History and Civics played an important educational role in forming our character, especially when as an innocent bystanders, I experienced first hand the horrors following the attack on the Moncada garrison in Santiago de Cuba on 7/26/59, when tens of prisoners were wantonly murdered and their bodies desecrated by dumping their coffins on the sidewalk in our baking summer sun.

Since, my life have been dedicated to do whatever it takes to modify the status quo. I will not go into my limited contributions to that effect, instead I prefer to share my inner fears with the critical problems affecting my country, its people and their future.

For some faithful readers of my poorly written notes who have forgiven my brutalization of the English language and who believed in my well intended approach on a diverse number of issues that have concerned me deeply, are now wondering if I have changed my tune, my views, switched sides or worst. How could I ever forget my point of origin, life experience and my unshakeable commitment to the poor, abused and ignored?

But where is all of this coming from? Early on in life, I noticed my home in Banes actually doubled as a free, first aid facility operated by my grandfather George (Pappy) Jones who had a year round job as an orderly in the United Fruit Co. hospital, from where evidently, he sneaked out medicine and medical supplies for those less fortunate.

Our small home doubled also as the first Bed and Breakfast I have known, where people from the countryside coming to Banes for health or other reasons, always found free accommodation.

When I entered 6th grade, my education came close to an abrupt end, because at the time I was living in the fishing village of Caimanera with my mother where she worked as a maid, taking care of Pepe’s daughter. Although his meager salary was the best in town, my mother could not afford my twenty train and bus rides a month to stay in school.

Fortunately, my aunt jumped-in, offered a space in her small house, where I could open a cot at night. Strict discipline, which was enforced with a belt that hung behind the bathroom door, lived with me wherever I was.

In 1968 as I began my residence in Pathology at the Veterinary Medicine National Diagnostic Laboratory in Havana, my boss was the late Dr. Hugo Fernandez Luciano, an extraordinarily knowledgeable, demanding professional, whom many of us initially labeled as an extremist, always ready to point out what was wrong or the shortcomings of any of us but at the same time, was extremely slow to shower praises on anyone.

A case in point. As we were getting ready to end our work day at 4:00 PM, an urgent call came in advising that some very important samples were on the way, whose autopsy could not wait until the following morning. Hugo, as we all called him, asked for two volunteers and I offered to stay.

All three of us worked on these specimens until close to 3:00 AM. Even though we had sleeping facilities at the lab, we decided to go home. I overslept and walked into my workplace around 10:00 am. Hugo, called me immediately into his office and reminded me that our work began at 7:30 am., and the fact that I did something commendable the evening before, did not entitled me to break established rules.

Adding to my strict upbringing, was an eighteen month epizoothiologic course in East Germany in 1965-66, where I was thought early on, that having to do something at 2:00 PM would never mean 2:02 PM.

Grateful to each of these individuals who had carefully instilled in me principles, ethics, values and commitments that would guide my life, I happily assumed in 1970 the impossible task of heading the Veterinary Medicine Provincial Diagnostic Laboratory of Oriente, the Pathology department, Foreign Technicians coordinator, President of the Scientific Council and later instructor of Pathology, all for one salary.

Because of the vastness of the province of Oriente (¼ of Cuba land mass), lack of laboratory professionals, qualified technicians, building facilities and equipment, our laboratory was rated as the worst of all six provincial laboratories in the nation.

By 1973, the old building had been completely renovated, three new buildings had been erected, a laboratory technician academy was created and every working tech., was re-qualified. Tens of diagnostic equipment and technique were introduced in Bacteriology, Serology, Parasitology and Bromatology, elevating our diagnostic capabilities and leading us to occupy the third spot behind Havana and Matanzas.

In 1971, four hundred and seventy nine years after the arrival of Christopher Columbus to our shores, the first histology specimen was processed in our lab. That same year, we inaugurated the first Bioterium or laboratory experimental animal production outside of Havana, which provided these research animals to two other Veterinary Provincial labs, hospitals and laboratories in Holguin, Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba.

Between 1970 and 1974, our laboratory earned national recognition for discovering three transmissible diseases that were previously unknown in Oriente and two that were unknown nationwide and for setting-up joint research projects with the department of Pathology of the Carlos M. de Cespedes hospital, the department of hygiene in Santiago de Cuba and the National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Havana.

Another important contribution of our laboratory took place during the African Swine Fever bio-terrorism attack on the province of Havana in 1971, when we implemented a sanitary quarantine barrier between the provinces of Camaguey and Oriente, days before the affected province did.

In 1972, our lab, successfully challenged with a complex battery of tests, an order from the health department to confiscate and dispose of 250,000 cans of condensed milk contaminated with yeast, which were salvaged and re-directed to animal feed.

Under the guidance of the Veterinary Scientific Council, bi-monthly meetings were held around the province of Oriente. Numerous seminars and one national symposium was organized in 1973.
In 1974, I was awarded a Diploma for Outstanding Instructor at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Bayamo. Eight third year students assigned to our laboratory for higher Pathology training, became excellent pathologists earning Masters Degree, Doctorate and PhD’s. Most are in Cuba and a few have proven their knowledge in Spain, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden and elsewhere.

Grudge, corruption, envy and an obsessive effort to keep our laboratory achievements under wraps to avoid highlighting their incompetence, led a few opportunists into a fail attempt to stifle our work by diverting its resources and later, to concoct and accuse me of the most heinous, criminal acts, that only deranged minds could have conceived.

For this monstrosity, I was incarcerated for 4 ½ years, irreversibly ashamed, deprived of my professional development, literally forced to migrate to the US and severance of ties with many family and friends.

I have never asked for nor will I ever accept any form of restitution for personal damages. I have never demanded retribution for the executioners of this crime, for which I am sure, life will be their toughest judge. My only demand has and always will be, a full restoration of my ruined image, principles and morals among my piers.

But what have hurt me most and I am unable to forgive, has been the total destruction by these and similar specimens across the country, of years of hard scientific work by hundreds of first class, dedicated professionals, whose only dream was to create a premier teaching, medical, diagnostic and research Veterinary Medicine corps in Cuba, that would be capable of occupying a seat among the best in the world.

For these and many more reasons, I have denounced in the past, I am denouncing now and will continue denounce in the future, the macabre and destructive acts of these opportunists disguised as staunch supporters of the Cuban government.

Cuba must begin to ask itself many hard questions. Not all of its shortcomings are related to the cruel and destructive US blockade. Worst has been done by those treacherous demagogues, who have destroyed hundreds of lives and careers, have forced to migrate unquantifiable, irreplaceable professionals and by constantly instilling fears in others to remain silent or else, as these hyenas lurch in the dark for new victims.

Determining when veterinary medicine have regained its rightful share among all health related institutions in Cuba and around the world will be very easy. As soon as our hematologists, bacteriologists, virologists, clinicians or pathologists can stand on equal footing and/or challenge any diagnosis coming out the Provincial Hospital, Hygiene Laboratory, Bromatology, Soil and Water laboratory or research centers such as CENIC, CENSA, Finlay, ICA and others, the celebration can begin.

It is here where my fears are centered. We have lost so much, my advanced age, health status and other factors, may not allow me to see, revel in joy and pride once again, when our institution can stand tall among their piers as it once did in the GDR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, France, Hungary, Chile, Soviet Union, Mexico and others.

Just as the Ministry of Health in Cuba is educating tens of thousands of physicians for the developing world, Veterinary Medicine in Cuba, have an unavoidable responsibility of training thousands of professionals in each of its specialty, if the developing world will ever rid itself of the stifling yoke of dependency.

Eternal gratitude to everyone who made this wonderful journey possible!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spontaneous Generation and the US Embargo on Cuba

"Spontaneous Generation and the US Embargo on Cuba"
Alberto N. Jones
October 26, 2009

In preparation for the upcoming vote at the United Nations General Assembly on the everlasting, unilateral embargo imposed upon Cuba by the United States, I decided to read Cuba’s full report, which will be presented to argue and counter this monstrosity.

No significant differences are presented compared to previous reports during the past seventeen years except, for the ever mounting damages, our collective shame or impotence, when all votes are counted and the world clamor for justice, will once again be brutally ignored.

Shortly after, I read an article entitled “A thousand-faced monster called the CIA 10/22/09, in which Dr. Nestor Garcia dissect an apparent innocuous, supposedly objective article entitled Cuba’s fate: balanced on razor’s edge, by Dr. Susan Williams from the Freedom Socialist Party, on 10/19/09

If I were to add my personal experience during a month long (9/09) visit to Cuba, in which I was privy to a wide range of opinions from friends, family members, ordinary people in every venue and my personal observations, speaks of the complexity and urgency of the critical moments Cuba is undergoing.

There has been and continue to be albeit a different rhetoric from the White House , a strong, concerted, amply funded effort by the US government to destabilize, weaken and overthrow the Cuban government. That is not news! This multi prong, all encompassing effort is especially geared to undermine and corrupt the minds of the younger generation, through mesmerizing images of our free market, consumption society.

Tens of thousands of Nintendo’s, violent games, pornography videos and other escapists material, have been widely distributed through the island, transforming our once thoughtful, science inclined students into disaffected, low esteem, apathy prone, foul mouthed youngsters, mimicking the gangster-like behavior of many of our middle and high school inner cities students.

Not confronting head on this growing malignancy, may lead to a Columbine type event which have never happened in Cuba.

Thousands of DVD featuring the most outrageous, distorting and degrading social programs of the Spanish speaking TV such a Cristina, Casos de Familia, Quien Tiene La Razon, all Springer/type garbage that is shunned and kept out of the living room of all family oriented household, have become hits, top rated entertainment in Cuba.

Flashy magazines exhibiting all sorts of products especially cars, garments, food, homes and travel, are having an impact on this vulnerable sector of society, who never stop to question, if those visitors peddling these diversionists tactics, enjoys such lifestyle in their working class Hialeah neighborhood.

It is a widely known fact, that hundreds of less educated or purported disaffected Cubans arriving in the US, their greatest dream is fulfilled, after their first year in the US and having obtained their Green Card, is to return to Cuba wearing an array of necklaces, rings, bangles, watches which are for the most part, “purchased” from local pawn shops, where they are promptly returned for a user’s fee, as soon as they return to the US.

Renting luxury cars in Cuba, giving hefty tips and throwing neighborhoods parties, are some of the regular family activities of these visitors, intended to fascinate their neighbors, not withstanding the weighted credit card debt with its loan shark interest that will haunt them for month to come.

In Cuba on the other hand, decades of neglected, unfulfilled basic needs of the population housing, food, clothing, transportation, recreation and other important human needs, have been compounded by poorly thought-out bureaucratic restrictions, which have fueled apathy, disenchantment, social breakdown and moral fissures.

Corruption in Cuba first raised its dirty head in the early 70’s. Hundreds of Cubans opposing this plague, were quickly silenced and consumed in a fake counterrevolutionary altar that was created by some, to protect their criminal activities. Today, this cancer have metastasized across the country and is devouring its soul.

No longer shop clerks exhibit any shame for overpricing or keeping the change, nor cabby drivers turning off taximeters, bus conductors pocketing fares, reservations agents expecting a kick-back and many health, educators or managers processing important documents, expect a meaningful gift.

Years of indifference or pretending this was not happening, allowed millions to be tainted. Any attempt to reverse this malady through legal or coercive measures are past due and are doom to create a far reaching backlash of unprecedented social consequences. Fully addressing the root cause of this crisis, is the only way of restoring the nation moral fiber.

The Skin written by Cursio Malaparte at the end of WW II, details like no one else, the horrific effects that hunger, sickness and other social needs, may inflict on any vulnerable society. Italy, Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan and others, are prime examples of such maladies and the reflective, intelligent, non repressive way in which they dealt with it.

Cuba’s economical situation today is not unique and it should not pursue unique solutions for this universal problem. Cool heads and minds must prevail over hot headed improvisations.

Fortunately, Cuba’s only uniqueness lies with the wealth of untapped, ignored resources sitting across the country, which any serious attempt to address the people’s need, could provide overnight, all the material resources necessary to obliterate every human, social, development need the country may have.

For much too long, most administrative branches of the Cuban government became accustomed to the easy answer of saying, we do not have it, “invent it”! Nothing need to be invented, when our nation is sitting on hundreds of billions of untapped resources, either because of near-sightedness, indifference or both. Life suggests, we test any of the following options:

- Parcel and develop one million home sites across the country and lease/use for 25 years to carefully selected families around the world at prices ranging from $40,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 each, depending on location.

- Open Joint Venture bids with foreign enterprises for the operation of all groceries, garment, household, pharmacies and building supplies corporations.

- Open Joint Venture bids with foreign enterprises for the operation of land, air and sea transport corporations.

- Open Joint Venture bids with foreign enterprises for the operation of agriculture, fishing and mining corporations.

- Open Joint Venture bids with foreign enterprises for the operation of heavy, light industry, chemical and power generation corporations.

Any of these carefully structured and managed projects, could signify by itself, tens of billions of dollars to stabilize the country finances, acquire all the means needed by its people and better support its worldwide humanitarian projects.

Such influx of financial resources would allow the government to offer a hefty relocation package to thousands of migrants from all provinces living in sub-human conditions in Centro Havana, assign plots of agriculture lands, funds for its development, house construction, machinery and personal transport in a location of their choice, clearing this prime city area for its future urban development.
Invest millions in water supply, wastewater treatment, solar industry, urban development, ports and highway construction. Initiate a massive restoration/construction of ultra modern healthcare facilities, educational centers, recreational facilities and cultural development.

Cuba can and must occupy the hard earned position it deserves in the world. This will happen through hard work, intelligence, vision and not by relying on spontaneous generation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Entrenched Cuban Embargo

"The Entrenched Cuban Embargo"
by Alberto Jones
October 19, 2009

In the upcoming days, the United Nations General Assembly gathered in New York will hear once again, an endless list of powerful arguments denouncing the fifty year old war of attrition, that the most powerful nation on earth have imposed unilaterally upon a small, developing country for no legal or morally acceptable reasons. What is really sad about this event, is that it is rapidly becoming a ritual, in which the United Nations is unable to carry out the mandate for which it was created.

As it has been during the past decade, we can anticipate a near unanimous parade of heads of delegation, denouncing this immoral practice and demanding the United States to cease and desist from this inhumane practice, which have caused unspeakable harm to the people of Cuba. At the end, when the votes are cast and counted, the world will receive another slap on its face, when one hundred and eighty something nations abstain or vote against this monstrosity and the United States exerts its overwhelming power with the help Israel and a couple of geographically insignificant or financiallly compromised nations, to deny the will of the majority, further weakening the authority of this institution and leading many to ask, what's the purpose of this expensive exercise in futility?

We have and will continue to despair over this irrational behavior, yet we must remember, that each of these despicable acts, have become a part of human history.

On the other hand, when we read year after year, the powerful arguments presented by the Cuban government describing the damaging effects the embargo/blockade have done, in its effort to stifle education, health, industry, culture, development and every other sector in Cuba, it becomes harder and harder for any average outsider to understand, how can the Cuban government expect that this year, after presenting the same report, about the same government, at the same United Nations Assembly, that this time around, they will meekly go to the podium, apologize for thier historical wrongdoings, squash this rotten policy, become friends and live happily ever after with Cuba.

Never in life, have anyone done the same things over and over and achieve a different outcome. With this basic premise in mind, it is therefore incumbent upon Cuba, the victim, to actively develop a strategy that is capable of forcing the United States government to relinquish its murderous stranglehold on our people, rather than continuing to accrue symbolic, moral victories on the world scene, with no tangible results four our people.

As we have experienced over time, leverage is the key in all negotiations. Cuba has not been at war with the United States nor have killed over 50,000 of its soldiers. Viet Nam did and yet, leverage have created a different outcome.

China have not renounced or denounced its socialist political arrangement, which puts her in a similar political camp as Cuba. Yet, the treatment of both countries by the US, are diametrically opposed.

As Cuba, the United States have labelled Iran as the worst country in the world and yet, it has refrained from imposing any draconian political or military measures against which Iran, would likely retaliate reducing or shutting-off its oil supply to some of the US allies.

What were the arguments invoked by the US to send its armed forces into the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada or Panama, that are absent in Honduras for the past two months, while they debate or concoct theories, intended to allow time to run out on the dethroned president?

Is it not an apparent lack of leverage, that have allowed the US government to remain for over 100 years in the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo Bay Cuba, now turned into a torture center similar to Abu Ghraib?

Cuba has too many highly educated people in and out of government, not to be able to extrapolate from these weak bargaining position and determine why this absurd position of the US government have remained entrenched, with no change in sight. As long as Cuba refrain from developing a well outlined strategic plan, capable of leveraging with the US self imposed embargo, nothing is going to change.

Few people in the world would dispute, that the main goal of the US government is to weaken, erode and encourage the collapse of the Cuban government, so that once again as in 1898, every valuable enterprise in Cuba, will be back in the hands of US transnationals. Unwittingly, Cuba's position over the years, have been based on the righteousness of its just and fair cause, which have unfortunately left in place, an outdated, non-changing approach, which the US can live with, while the Cuban people despair because of years of pain, suffering and stagnation, is wearing thin, causing a clear loss of support especially among the younger generation, whose only solution seems to lie with migration.

In lies squarely in the hands of the Cuban government, to do an in depth study of why after fifty years of denouncing this injustice, nothing have changed and come up with an alternative approach, eveh though it may or may not elicit a different result.

Many are convinced, that if the Cuban government would take a few basic steps, that would send a clear message to corporate America, indicating a real possibility of loosing it's hopes of reconquering Cuba financial world, they would, as many others who have claims of properties loss in Cuba, assume the position to let bygone be bygone.

Open bids to international corporations, for the creation of exclusive joint ventures with the Cuban government for the next 10 years, of a national food, medicine and medical supplies distribution chain.

Open bids to internationals corporations for the creation of 10 years exclusive joint ventures with the Cuban government for all air, land and sea transportation.

Open bids to internationals corporation for the creation of 10 years exclusive joint ventures with the Cuban government for the operation of mining, fisheries and environmental development.

Open bids to internationals corporations for the creation of 10 years exclusive joint ventures with the Cuban government for the hospitality industry.

Open bids for the promotion for of small business cooperatives between the Cuban government, Cuban nationals in and outside Cuba and with every solidarity solidarity organization.

Logic suggests that one year after the enactment of these and other simple principles, the embargo/blockade will no longer exists and become an integral part of our turbulent history.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Handling of the Cuban Housing Crisis

"The Handling of the Cuban Housing Crisis"
Alberto N Jones
October 16, 2009

An article published in the Miami Herald on 10/15/09, "Cuba cracks down on unlicensed home improvents" cannot or should not be true, because that would be the be the most outrageous, counterproductive way of dealing with that country's most sensitive, painful, conflicting, unresolved social problem.

Among the multiple, crushing reasons presented by Fidel Castro in his dramatic self defense during the trials for the attack he lead against the Moncada garrison on 7/26/53, was the inhumane living conditions of 90% of our peasentry in primitive shacks, over 50% of the urban population living in beyond reach, overpriced rented homes and thousands of apartment buildings in the hands of a handful of rich homes moguls, which became a powerful argument justifying the need of changing the status quo.

Immidiately after the truimph of the revoltution, Pastora Nunez was given the near impossible task of solving the nation housing problem. She began aggressively substituting peasants shacks with comfortable cinder blocks homes. Thousands of modest, functional, beautiful homes were built in cities across the country applying a suburban concept, which up to this moment, was limited to the middle and upper class neighborhoods, turning this venerable woman overnight, into one of the best known faces of the revolution, leading the population to spontaneously name these communities Pastorita.

An enormous sense of pride filled these neighborhoods, in which most homes literally competed against each others in the upkeep of their gardens, planting of fruit or ornamental trees, creating vegetable gardens and raising chickens in their backyard.

Simultaneously with education, health, sports, job creation and the enormously popular Housing Reform Act enacted in 1959, which gave ownership to all renters, sent a clear message of what a triumphant revolution was all about. Mass euphoria blanketed our country with a thick pride that could be touched by all.

For unknown reasons to most, this wonderful Pastorita project ended in the mid sixties when this colorful, enthusiastic lady was transfered to other responsibilities in the agriculture ministry. I saw her for the last time during my residency at the National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Havana, as her inquiring mind brought her in search of answers for some unknown pathology affecting a herd of cattle under her responsibility. We later learn about her passing.

The Pastorita type houses, were supplanted by similar looking, modal type, non functional, pre-fab, four story apartment buildings, that spread across the country like a wild fire and which were quickly renamed Pigeon Cubs by the population. In order to spead-up the output of aparments to address the growing needs of the population, Gran Panel, a Soviet type, similar pre-fab apartment buildig was introduced, creating thousands of look-alike, poorly ventilated apartments in Santiago de Cuba, the warmest section of Cuba.

This new style of living created by dense concentrations of multiple apartments buildings, brought with it, many unforseen, negative transformational changes to our 500 year old block-style neighborhood culture, in which everyone was seen as neighbor, their names was known, their children, activities, personal relations and friendship became a village, was suddenly frayed, as people in a same building or across the streets, were transformed into strangers.

Another important missing component of the conglomerate living leading to its failure, was the supression in the name of savings, of the Super or building supervisor, who historically had taken care of all the building needs. Some housing genius presumed that a neighborhood collective administrative board, would be able to sweep stairs, fix leaks, cut lawn, forbid hanging laundry on the balcony or the maximum decibels tolerable on individual boom box.

With all the negative results outlined above and many more which would extend unnecessary these arguments, the Cuban government have stubornly adjudicated itself the sole responsibility of solving the huge housing demands. In a population that have gone from 6 to 12 millions inhabitants, construction of new buildings are far from addressing the needs of 10% of this growth, to which we must add, a unbelievable lack of maintenance of all structures during the past 30 years, which have created a pathetic scene of crumbling, hazardous buildings nationwide.

For years, the Cuban government have made its most serious miscalculation, by not assigning 1-2 of its 5-6 cement factory production to satisfy the needs of its population. Ten years ago, while touring Cuba's largest cement factory in Cienfuegos, at the end of the presentation the manager proudly told us about how his upcoming trip abroad in search of markets for his product.

Stunned, speechless, I could barely bring myself to ask him, what was wrong with our internal high-demand, unsatisfied, overpriced cement market, for which Cubans have been willing to pay 200% more for his product exported to neighboring countries.

Increasing overnight the output of sand, stone and other basic construction material, should be easy. Importing lumber, plumbing, electrical, paint and other building supplies from countries with which Cuba has a friendly relation, should not be a problem, having a monopoly of the sales prices, which could additionally, create thousands of jobs and contribute large sums of hard currency to the economy.

Yes, everyone knows, that in order for every individual to solve their otherwise intractable housing crisis, every Cuban have had to bend the rules, find shortcuts, pay bribes, purchase stolen goods, as the only existing way for dealing with the monstrous overcrowding in places such a Centro Habana and across the country. Obtaining a housing renovation permit is near impossible, if an ordinary person do not have an inside connection, is willing to pay a hefty bribe or sexual favor. Why should we pretend this is not happening and are now willing to kill an ants with a sledgehammer?

Although no mistake, abuse, crime committed by any citizen in the past, as the sole way of addressing their family desperate living condition, should never be punitive or retroactive. I plead with everyone, to draw the line today, make all of these material readily available to everyone at large for a price, encourage everyone to build a new home or repair or expand an existing one and stop a failed paternalistic idea of giving away homes, household goods.

Solving this social calamity in Cuba is within reach. Venezuela, our closest friend produce infinite amount of petroleum derivate plastic homes. Rather than the present thinking, why not import a few millions of these structures, put them on sales with a 10% interest payable in 20 years, adress our citizens needs and incorporate millions of hard currency to our public funds, instead of silly discussions taking place within the housing department, if these houses should have two or one bathroom.

Cubans will never grow up, as long as they hold to the false notion that government is there to solve their personal problems, not to pave the way for them to solve their needs with the sweat of their foreheads.

For those who wish our country the best, those who believes that Cuba must survive for the wellbeing of the developing world, can no longer pretend that everything is OK and pretend to keep them in the cellar or assume an opportunistic, super revolutionary attitude, denouncing as anti-government activity, by anyone daring to make public these unpleasant family stories.

Doing otherwise is a prescription for disaster.

Our love for our country must express itself in our critical denounciations of what is wrong. From the clerk who overcharges, the bus conductor pocketing the public fares, the office receptionist not picking up the phone, the pizza parlor cook stealing the tomatto sauce or the baker stealing the lard, should and must be our daily work in defense of our beliefs.

Still, if this and many similar pleas to the highest level of the Cuban government from us, from tens of friendly nations around the globe and from millions of our loyal friends in every city, country and continent would go unheard, we would not only have repudiated one of the most important pillars of the revolution, we maybe unwittingly inviting everyone to the wake and death of 50 years of the most honorable, unparallel, desproportionately uneven struggle in defense of justice, dignity and values of humankind.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ignoring History Has Cost Us 50 Precious Years of Our Lives

"Ignoring History Has Cost Us Fifty Precious Years of Our Lives"
Alberto N Jones
April 18, 2009

In an ironic twist of history, the V Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago will come to a successful or irrelevant closure on Sunday, April 19th, the same day, forty eight years ago when the United States suffered its most resounding political, moral and military defeat in the swamps of the Bay of Pigs.

Prior to this transformative milestone, the United States political/military thinking was formulated around a self-proclaimed invincibility, which emerged from the three months military skirmish in Santiago de Cuba, euphemistically known around the world as the Spanish-American War in 1898.

This tragic event, effectively deprived the Cuban people of the fruits of their long and hard fought struggle for independence and sovereignty, which began with the uprising of Chief Hatuey and Guarina in the 1490‘s. Thousands of Cuba’s best sons and daughters were deported, imprisoned, wounded, maimed or killed on behalf of this goal.

Tens of slave uprisings across the island attempting to free themselves from their inhumane captivity, were put down with unspeakable brutality. The infamous Ladder Conspiracy earned its name from two parallel logs with other horizontally spaced logs upon which slaves accused of plotting to escape or recaptured run-away slaves were tied to and beaten into a pulp or killed with blows from another log, reminiscent to a primitive baseball bat.

On October 10th 1868, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes a wealthy sugar baron, who later became the father of the Cuban nation, freed his slaves and encouraged them to join the war of independence, which they did in droves, contributing the bulk of the casualties during the next 10 years vicious war, which ended in an armistice. This tragic outcome was salvaged by another son of Africa, General Antonio Maceo who opposed this decision with his heroic Protest of Baragua and his commitment to continue the struggle to its last consequence.

The final war of independence was re-started in 1895 under the leadership of Jose Marti, the greatest Cuban political leader in its history. By 1898 victory was within reach of the Cuban Army, when alleging protection of life and property, the USS Maine entered the port of Havana where it later exploded under questionable circumstances, laying the groundwork for the United States to unleash the Spanish-American war, which defeated in three months, an exhausted Spanish occupying forces.

This simple, unsolicited, unilateral decision by the United States, derailed 400 years of struggle for Cuba’s independence, when they denied the Cuban Army the right to be present at the Spanish Army surrendering ceremony or at the subsequent peace talks in Paris. The dismantling of a fully integrated Army of Independence, replacing it with an all white police force and with a Rural Guard where blacks could not rise above the rank of lieutenant, opened deep and bitter wounds between the US and Cuba.

By emasculating Cuba sovereignty with the Platt Amendment, forceful occupation of prime lands for naval bases, engulfing thousands of acres of fertile agriculture lands for pennies, taking over every important industry, utilities, commerce, banking, perpetuating illiteracy, segregation, corruption, political violence etc., they sowed the seeds of discord that have survived to this day.

These and other social ills were compounded with the brutal assault on the “democratically” elected, corrupt presidency of Carlos Prio Socarras in 1952, which lead the Generation of the Century headed by Fidel Castro, to accuse General Batista before the Supreme Court for overthrowing the government and later leading a failed insurrection, imprisonment, emigration, return with an 82 man strong invading forces in 1956, which defeated Batista’s powerful, US backed military machine on January 1, 1959.

Attempting to correct years of abuse, corruption, a worldwide image of Cuba being a playground for the rich, famous and the mafia, the new government clamped down hard and confiscated most ill gotten wealth of these individuals, irritating the US government, unleashing a tit for tat and the breaking-off of diplomatic relations.

The infamous Bay of Pigs, is nothing more than a traumatic abortion of an ill-conceived, well funded, abundantly equipped, vertically CIA managed 2000 man-strong mercenary force, charged with overthrowing the newly formed, poorly equipped Cuban army.

Having failed to take into account these irrefutable historical facts, have left a legacy of distrust, billions of dollars in misguided projects and unnecessary destruction, wounded and dead.

And today, as a highly educated, visionary, courageous president of the United States is working tirelessly to reverse decades of absurd, confrontational, hate spewing, retrograde policies that have created millions of enemies around the world, many continue to undermine every idea, policy or bridge building effort the White House may develop.

Let us join hands and stave off those backward forces that revel in wars, death and destruction. Let’s express in a clear, strong, unison voice, enough is enough!

If for millions of people around the world, April 19, 1961 is remembered as the Day of Infamy, it is incumbent upon us to transform this day in the year 2009, into the Day of Rediscovering America, Goodness, Brotherhood, Love and Hope.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I was Wrong, I am Sorry & I Apologize.

The brutal assault on the high seas of a humanitarian vessel heading to Gaza, lead me to re-read my views 18 months ago. Please evaluate and consider publishing. Thanks very much.

"I was Wrong, I am Sorry and I Apologize"

by Alberto N Jones

January 16, 2009

When I first saw in 1965 what Nazi Germany had done to the Jewish businesses and their communities in Leipzig, Dresden or Berlin, I was outraged.

When my female friend told me about the day after Kristalnackt, when her Jewish schoolmate and her entire family vanished, never to be seen again, I was angry.

When I read and saw pictures of how Jews were rounded-up, labeled and herded off into the unknown, which later turned out to be any of those infamousconcentration camps, I was sickened.

When we were taken to Buchenwald and our tour guides, who were survivors of this human monstrosity described the bestiality that took place in this encampment, ranging from hunger, forced labor, disease, mass murder, sadism, gas chamber, furnaces to broil humans or soap factory using human fat, was too revolting to believe it to be true.

When we were exposed to horrible films of box cars filled with humans as we would not do to animals, or bony bodies covered with skin being bulldozed into trenches, or children wearing horrible camp uniforms behind barbed wire, we despaired and fully supported the tragic end and the horrible human cost thatGermany paid for its barbaric actions.

Equating the tragic Jewish experience with that of my ancestors, who were ripped away from their homeland, chained to the hull of slow moving slave schooners undergoing weeks of grueling pain, sickness or death, thrown overboard and those genetically fit who survived such brutal voyage, were rewarded with hundreds of years of slavery, whippings, hunger, pseudo-freedom, illiteracy, racism, lynching, segregation etc., made it easy for me to be in solidarity and a strong supporter of these victims, concentrated in Israel.

My first indication that something was not quite kosher occurred when I was first exposed to Gamal Abdel Nasser articulating the nationalistic views of the Non-Aligned nations and Israel subsequent siding with colonial England, France and others against Egypt, for legitimately claiming back its canal.

When the seven days war erupted, I did not have most of the basic understanding to determine who was right and who was wrong. Like most other uninformed citizens, we saw and shared the mass-media perception, of a small nation “defending” itself against its large, aggressive neighbors.

The massacre of hundreds of innocents refugees in Sabra and Shatila at the hands of Ariel Sharon, butchered in the middle of the night by his henchmen with the support of most western powers, became the first full size picture of a morally compromised society with a decaying supremacist philosophy, that will eventually bury a nation that was created upon a victim syndrome and world sympathy.

Encouraged, tolerated and supported by every United States administration, the Zionist regime in Israel became bolder and bolder. They were no longer subjected to world opinion or international condemnation, knowing their prime supporter held a financial stranglehold that was capable of blackmailing most poor nations and veto power in every international organization.

Although the world was acutely aware of the vicious, inhuman and wanton deaths that Israel inflicted on a regular basis upon the Palestinian people, they had driven tens of thousands from their homes and turned into refugees across the middle east. Those left in Palestine, were forced into the world most dense, cramped human settlement in Gaza and the West Bank, over which the Zionist regime held absolute control over land, air, water and human movements.

As prisoners at the mercy of their master, willing to incarcerate the entire comunities at will, by closing its few crossing points, cut off all supplies, shut down financial remittances, control every individual movement through a pervasive infiltration of MOSSAD and an army of paid informants, keeping the entire population under total surveillance, terror and perennial poverty.

Wickedly controlling 80% of the water resources and subjecting the Palestinian to hunger through drought-scorched land, they openly brag about their racial superiority expressed in their greenery, agricultural production and Kibutz development, mostly dependent on semi-slave Palestinian migrant labor.

Not satisfied with controlling most of the land mass of this highly disputed region, President Ronald Regan strongly encouraged the creation of settlements or communities ripped away from Palestinians living on the West Bank, which was then given and guarded by thugs armed to the teeth, willing to shoot to kill any non-Jewish person, knowing they enjoyed complete immunity.

Tens of thousands of people purporting to be of Jewish background, desperately willing to emigrate from the Soviet Union, presented themselves to the world as innocent victims of a brutal communist system that deprived them of their right to practice their faith and culture, who were now emboldened and quick to shoot, killing Palestinian children like stray dogs.

Desperate, with no way out of such monstrous abuse, threatened by mercenaries brought from foreign lands, Palestinians youths were left with no other option than their heroic Intifada and the willingness of their children to be slaughtered by Israeli tanks, bulldozers and snipers.

Taking their desperation to its highest level, youngsters, females, elderly Palestinians were willing to assemble crude bombs, don explosive belts, walk into crowds of Israelis and pull the trigger, blowing themselves to bits with their oppressors.

Salaried journalists, mainstream media and others who have skillfully highlighted the scratches or minor destructions caused by primitive non-guidance rockets launched into Israel which seldom cause any human casualty, are mute in a concerted effort to hide or downplay, the massive destruction caused by their F-16, M-1, smart bombs and wide use of forbidden weapons, along with their undisguised threat of their nuclear arsenal.

Labeled as terrorists by those journalists willing to desecrate desperate people willing to go to such extreme, they never asked themselves, what have we done to these people to lead them to such drastic decisions? Is there anyone these journalists know, who are willing to blow up themselves for whatever amount of money they would be offered?

These are the simplistic, offensive tactics, geared to tarnish young men and women, robbed of their most basic human dignity, willing to give it all and pay the ultimate price on behalf of their people.

Although I do not condone these actions, I experienced first hand the tragic effects that massive abuse can inflict to the human physic. I clearly remember Batista’s murderers, armed to their teeth, pulling youngsters from their classroom, homes or off the streets, to be tortured, murdered, desecrated and their bodies left to rot by the side of highways.

What else were the Cuban people left with, except to learn how to make pipe bombs, Molotov cocktail and shoot any lone military or politician supporters of that rotten system and become part of a triumphant insurrection that wiped them forever out of that country?

Then came the most vicious onslaught on Lebanon with Israeli WW III weaponry in action, with the full complicity/support of President George W. Bush andSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice, they forcefully rejected any effort to stop this conflict in its early stage, confident, that Israel would reduce Hezbollah and south Lebanon to rubble, which to their consternation, turned out to be, a crushing defeat for the long time Middle East bully.

With the entire Knesset in turmoil, the military top brass pointing fingers at each other, their invading army retreating with their tail between their legs and a born-again peace-loving Condoleezza Rice shuttling back and forth to avoid a more embarrassing unraveling of their most powerful repressive forces in the region, she was now bent on penning a truce.

This embarrassing defeat of the Israeli Defense Forces in south Lebanon became a great lesson for the region, by teaching everyone, that a new, successfulmilitary strategy was capable of breaking the spine of the IDF and destroying its myth of invencibility.

Attempting to restore the Israeli Defense Forces morale, fear factor and invincibility , they actively sought an easy prey which they identified in Gaza, where Hamas had overwhelming won the past election. This political setback led them unleash a full scale blockade, encircle the region, cut off all basic supplies, shut off remittances, impose strict human mass incarceration and constant spying on the area with unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopter gunship, fighter jets, armed drones, willing to shell and send rocket into dense populated areas, assassinating with impunity, irrespective of being a child or an 80 year old paraplegic in a wheel chair.

Assuming Gaza had been sufficiently softened, they launched in December a full scale, murderous assault on a densely populated area, using their most sophisticated war machine and murderous live phosphorous, banned by international laws.

In a disproportionate killing of 120:1 Palestinians, mostly civilians, of which, three hundreds were children, was the trophy that Tipzi, Olmert, Barack or Perez and many more criminals, are attempting to add to their resume, as others before them, did in Germany during the 40’s.

Still, the only thing that is clear, is that the world have come to know them. No longer can they hoist the victim banner, sing the hymn of the abused, attempt to justify their wicked actions with anti-Semitism which have served them so well for the past 60 years. What they have shown the world over time, is no different to what the forefathers of today’s military and political leaders of the Israeli government endured in Germany, when they enjoyed the entire world sympathy.

My sentiments betrayed me, I extracted the wrong conclusion and I am sorry for having supported those who are willing to do worst to other defenseless individuals.