Castro to Writers and Artists: “Against the Revolution, No Rights at All”

(p. A13) Ricardo Porro, an architect who gave lyrical expression to a hopeful young Cuban revolution in the early 1960s before he himself fell victim to its ideological hardening, died on Thursday [December 25, 2014] in Paris, where he had spent nearly half a century in exile.
. . .
Mr. Porro’s two schools have voluptuous brick domes and vaults, built by hand in the Catalan style reminiscent of Antoni Gaudí, that are almost bodily in their gentle embrace. Supporting them, and contrasting with their soft curves, are angular columns and buttresses that speak of the shattering force of revolution.
. . .
Before the schools were completed, however, artistic expression was stifled as Cuba moved into the Soviet orbit. Mr. Castro had famously answered his own rhetorical question in 1961 about the rights of writers and artists: “Within the revolution, everything. Against the revolution, no rights at all.”
Almost overnight, the art schools’ distinctive style was officially anathema. “You realize that you’ve been accused of something,” Mr. Porro recalled in “Unfinished Spaces,” a 2011 documentary directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray. “And then you realize that you have been judged. And then you realize you are guilty. And nobody tells you.”

For the full obituary, see:
DAVID W. DUNLAP. “Ricardo Porro, 89, Exiled Cuban Architect.” The New York Times (Tues., DEC. 30, 2014): A13.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, are added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date DEC. 29, 2014, and has the title “Ricardo Porro, Exiled Cuban Architect, Dies at 89.”)

“It’s Better to Die on Your Feet than Live on Your Knees”

(p. A1) MIAMI — In an unexpected echo of the refugee crisis from two decades ago, a rising tide of Cubans in rickety, cobbled-together boats is fleeing the island and showing up in the waters off Florida.
Leonardo Heredia, a 24-year-old Cuban baker, for example, tried and failed to reach the shores of Florida eight times.
Last week, he and 21 friends from his Havana neighborhood gathered the combined know-how from their respective botched migrations and made a boat using a Toyota motor, scrap stainless steel and plastic foam. Guided by a pocket-size Garmin GPS, they finally made it to Florida on Mr. Heredia’s ninth attempt.
“Things that were bad in Cuba are now worse,” Mr. Heredia said. “If there was more money in Cuba to pay for the trips, everyone would go.”
. . .
(p. A18) . . . Yannio La O, 31, [is] an elementary school wrestling coach who arrived in Miami last week after a shipwreck landed him in Mexico.
He and 31 others departed from Manzanillo, in southern Cuba, in late August on a boat they built over the course of three months. They ran into engine trouble, and the food they brought was contaminated by a sealant they carried aboard to patch holes in the hull. They spent 24 days lost at sea.
“Every day at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m., somebody died,” Mr. La O said.
Nine people, including a pregnant woman, died and were thrown overboard, and six more got on inner tubes and disappeared before the Mexican Navy rescued the survivors, Mr. Sánchez said. Two more died at shore. Mr. La O said he survived by drinking urine and spearing fish.
. . .
“Even if half the people who leave from Cuba do not survive, that means half of them did,” Mr. La O said, speaking from his grandmother’s house in Miami, where he arrived last week. “I would tell anyone in Cuba to come. It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

For the full story, see:
FRANCES ROBLES. “In Rickety Boats, Cuban Migrants Again Flee to U.S.” The New York Times (Fri., OCT. 10, 2014): A1 & A18.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed word, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 9, 2014.”)

“Milestone of Dubious Distinction:” Venezuela Joins North Korea and Cuba in Food Rationing

(p. A15) MARACAIBO, Venezuela–Amid worsening shortages, Venezuela recently reached a milestone of dubious distinction: It has joined the ranks of North Korea and Cuba in rationing food for its citizens.
On a recent, muggy morning, Maria Varge stood in line outside a Centro 99 grocery store, ready to scour the shelves for scarce items like cooking oil and milk. But before entering, Ms. Varge had to scan her fingerprint to ensure she wouldn’t buy more than her share.
Despite its technological twist on the old allotment booklet, Venezuela’s new program of rationing is infuriating consumers who say it creates tiresome waits, doesn’t relieve shortages and overlooks the far-reaching economic overhauls the country needs to resolve the problem.
“These machines make longer lines,” said Ms. Varge, 50, as she was jostled by people in line, “but you get inside, and they still don’t have what you want.”

For the full story, see:
SARA SCHAEFER MUÑOZ. “WORLD NEWS; Despite Riches, Venezuela Starts Food Rationing; Government Rolls Out Fingerprint Scanners to Limit Purchases of Basic Goods; ‘How Is it Possible We’ve Gotten to This Extreme’.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Oct. 23, 2014): A15.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Oct. 22, 2014.)

Today Is 14th Anniversary of Democrats’ Infamous Betrayal of Elián González

GonzalezElianSeizedOn2000-04-22.jpg“In this April 22, 2000 file photo, Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, early Saturday morning, April 22, 2000, in Miami. Armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn Saturday, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy.” Source of caption and photo: online version of JENNIFER KAY and MATT SEDENSKY. “10 years later, few stirred by Elian Gonzalez saga.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., April 22, 2010): 7A. (Note: the online version of the article is dated April 21, 2010 and has the title “10 years after Elian, US players mum or moving on.”)

Today (April 22, 2014) is the 14th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history—when the Democratic Clinton Administration seized a six year old child in order to force him back into the slavery that his mother had died trying to escape.

Castro First Fired, and Then Jailed, Economist Chepe, Who Defended Capitalism

ChepeOscarEspinosaCubanEconomist2013-10-23.jpg “Oscar Espinosa Chepe in 2010.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT obituary quoted and cited below.

(p. B15) Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a high-ranking Cuban economist and diplomat who became a vocal critic of Fidel Castro in the 1990s but chose to remain in Cuba, despite enduring harassment and imprisonment, died on Monday [September 23, 2013] . . .
. . .
Mr. Espinosa Chepe (pronounced CHEH-pay) lost his job as an official of the National Bank of Cuba in 1996 after advocating the limited restoration of capitalist principles like the right to buy and sell one’s home or start a business.
He then became a journalist, writing articles for American and Spanish-language Web sites in which he used statistical data to analyze Cuba’s economic problems. In March 2003 he was one of 75 activists arrested as part of a government crackdown on dissent known as the Black Spring.
. . .
Mr. Espinosa Chepe, who joined Castro’s revolutionary government in the early 1960s and was once head of the powerful Office of Agrarian Reform, had frequently clashed with fellow economic planners over policies he considered overly dogmatic.
His internal critique became increasingly adamant after 1991, when the loss of the Soviet Union’s financial support began taking a devastating toll on the country’s economy. But his proposals for change, many of which had already been adopted in former Soviet bloc states, were labeled counterrevolutionary, said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a professor emeritus of economics and Latin American studies at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on Cuban economic policies.

For the full obituary, see:
PAUL VITELLO. “Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Cuban Economist and Castro Critic, Dies at 72.” The New York Times (Fri., September 27, 2013): B15.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date September 25, 2013.)

Cuban Government Employees “Are Known for Surly Service, Inefficiency, Absenteeism and Pilfering”

(p. A10) However small, . . . , the private sector is changing the work culture on an island where state employees earn meager salaries and are known for surly service, inefficiency, absenteeism and pilfering.
Sergio Alba Marín, who for years managed the restaurants of a state-owned hotel and now owns a popular fast-food restaurant, said he was very strict with his employees and would not employ workers trained by the state.
“They have too many vices — stealing, for one,” said Mr. Alba, who was marching with his 25 employees and two large banners emblazoned with the name of his restaurant, La Pachanga. “You can’t change that mentality.”
“Even if you could, I don’t have time,” he added. “I have a business to run.”

For the full story, see:
VICTORIA BURNETT. “HAVANA JOURNAL; Amid Fealty to Socialism, a Nod to Capitalism.” The New York Times (Thurs., May 2, 2013): A6 & A10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 1, 2013.)

Today Is 13th Anniversary of Democrats’ Infamous Betrayal of Elián González

GonzalezElianSeizedOn2000-04-22.jpg“In this April 22, 2000 file photo, Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, early Saturday morning, April 22, 2000, in Miami. Armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn Saturday, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy.” Source of caption and photo: online version of JENNIFER KAY and MATT SEDENSKY. “10 years later, few stirred by Elian Gonzalez saga.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., April 22, 2010): 7A. (Note: the online version of the article is dated April 21, 2010 and has the title “10 years after Elian, US players mum or moving on.”)

Today (April 22, 2013) is the 13th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history—when the Democratic Clinton Administration seized a six year old child in order to force him back into the slavery that his mother had died trying to escape.

Cuban Dissident Dies after Communist Police Beat Him in Park

(p. 12) Havana
OUTSIDE the sun is blindingly hot, and in the immigration office 100 people are sweating profusely. But no one complains. A critical word, a demanding attitude, could end in punishment. So we all wait silently for a “white card,” authorization to travel outside Cuba.
The white card is a piece of the migratory absurdities that prevent Cubans from freely leaving and entering their own country. It is our own Berlin Wall without the concrete, the land-mining of our borders without explosives. A wall made of paperwork and stamps, overseen by the grim stares of soldiers. This capricious exit permit costs over $200, a year’s salary for the average Cuban. But money is not enough. Nor is a valid passport. We must also meet other, unwritten requirements, ideological and political conditions that make us eligible, or not, to board a plane.
. . .
Thousands of Cubans have been condemned to immobility on this island, though no court has issued such a verdict. Our “crime” is thinking critically of the government, being a member of an opposition group or subscribing to a platform in defense of human rights.
In my case, I can flaunt the sad record of having received 19 denials since 2008 of my applications for a white card.
. . .
That same afternoon, as I was issued one more denial, my cellphone rang insistently in my pocket. A broken voice related to me the last moments in the life of Juan Wilfredo Soto, a dissident who died several days after being handcuffed and beaten by the police in a public park. I sat down to steady myself, my ears ringing, my face flush.
I went home and looked at my passport, full of visas to enter a dozen countries but lacking any authorization to leave my own. Next to its blue cover my husband placed a report of the details of Juan Wilfredo Soto’s death. Looking from his face in the photograph to the national seal on my passport, I could only conclude that in Cuba, nothing has changed.

For the full commentary, see:
YOANI SANCHEZ. “The Dream of Leaving Cuba.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., April 22, 2012): 12.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary is dated April 21, 2012.)

Today Is Tweflth Anniversary of Democrats’ Infamous Betrayal of Elián González

GonzalezElianSeizedOn2000-04-22.jpg“In this April 22, 2000 file photo, Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, early Saturday morning, April 22, 2000, in Miami. Armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn Saturday, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy.” Source of caption and photo: online version of JENNIFER KAY and MATT SEDENSKY. “10 years later, few stirred by Elian Gonzalez saga.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., April 22, 2010): 7A. (Note: the online version of the article is dated April 21, 2010 and has the title “10 years after Elian, US players mum or moving on.”)

Today (April 22, 2012) is the twelfth anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history—when the Democratic Clinton Administration seized a six year old child in order to force him back into the slavery that his mother had died trying to escape.

Marco Rubio’s Parents Worked Hard so He Could Do Something He Loves

RubioMarco2012-02-04.jpg

Marco Rubio. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 10) Your parents came to Miami from Cuba in the 1950s. Your dad became a bartender, and your mom worked as a hotel maid, among other jobs. Was it always clear that you wouldn’t follow them into a service job?

The service industry is hard, honorable work, but early on my parents drove it into us that a job is what you do to make a living; a career is when you get paid to do something that you love. They had jobs so I could have a career.
. . .
Koch Industries, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among your top career campaign contributors. What do you say to people who believe that they’re investing in you so that you’ll push to overhaul the tax code to their benefit?
People buy into my agenda. I don’t buy into anyone’s agenda. I tell people what I stand for, and the things I’ve stood for were the same at the very beginning, when none of those people were giving me money.

For the full interview, see:
ANDREW GOLDMAN, interviewer. “TALK; Marco Rubio Won’t Be V.P.” The New York Times Magazine (Sun., January 29, 2012): 10.
(Note: ellipsis added; bold in original.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date January 26, 2012.)

Castro’s Communist Goons Impound Cuba Libre

SanchezYoaniCubanBlogger.jpg “Her writing, said Yoani Sánchez, above in her Havana apartment, describes “the sentiments of one person but sums up the reality of many people.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. C1) Like any other first-time author, Yoani Sánchez was looking forward to receiving copies of her book, “Cuba Libre,” after it was published last year. But when the package sent from Buenos Aires by her publisher arrived in Havana, the Cuban customs service impounded the parcel and, after she complained, sent her a notice explaining its action.

“The content of the book entitled ‘Free Cuba’ transgresses against the general interests of the nation, in that it argues that certain political and economic changes are necessary in Cuba in order for its citizens to enjoy greater material well-being and attain personal fulfillment,” stated the document, which Ms. Sánchez posted on her Web site. Such positions “are extremes totally contrary to the principles of our society.”

Outside her homeland, though, Ms. Sánchez’s writing is free of such censorship, and she has emerged as an important new voice, both literary and political. Published in the United States in May under the title “Havana Real” (Melville House), her book draws on the same collection of sketches of daily life in Cuba — a dreary, enervating routine of food shortages, transportation troubles and narrowed opportunity — that she has been posting on her Web site, Generation Y (desdecuba.com/generationy), since 2007.
. . .
(p. C6) Recently Ms. Sánchez completed a second book, a manual whose title translates as “WordPress: A Blog for Speaking to the World.” A new fiber-optic cable connecting Cuba with South America has just been laid, and when it begins fully operating later this summer, it is likely to increase opportunities not just for her, but for other dissident bloggers and writers, many of whom have attended the seminars she conducted that led to the writing of the second book.
“It’s interesting that we’re talking not about a bearded 80-year-old man, but a sharp, fearless, skinny 35-year-old mother,” said Ted Henken, an expert on Cuba and the Internet who teaches at the City University of New York and visited Ms. Sánchez in April. “That’s new, and in some ways, by spreading the virus of blogging and tweeting to others, she has displaced Che and Fidel among young, progressive people.”

For the full story, see:
LARRY ROHTER. “In Cuba, the Voice of a Blog Generation.” The New York Times (Weds., July 6, 2011): C1 & C6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated July 5, 2011.)