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.