Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lincoln, King, Day, & Merton

"A nation can be considered great, when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to dream of full rights for all their brothers and sisters as Martin Luther King sought to do, when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton."

Friday, August 14, 2015

John Kerry in Havana

John Kerry in Havana
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy
Havana, Cuba
Remarks at Flag Raising Ceremony
August 14, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Please be seated, everybody. Thank you very, very much. Muchas gracias. Buenos dias. I'm so sorry that we are a little bit late today, but what a beautiful ride in and how wonderful to be here. And I thank you for leaving my future transportation out here in back of me. I love it. (Laughter.)

Distinguished members of the Cuban delegation – Josefina, thank you for your leadership and for all your work of your delegation; excellencies from the diplomatic corps; my colleagues from Washington, past and present; Ambassador DeLaurentis and all of the embassy staff; and friends watching around the world, thank you for joining us at this truly historic moment as we prepare to raise the United States flag here at our embassy in Havana, symbolizing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations after 54 years. This is also the first time that a United States Secretary of State has been to Cuba since 1945. (Applause.)

This morning I feel very much at home here, and I'm grateful to those who have come to share in this ceremony who are standing around outside of our facilities, and I feel at home here because this is truly a memorable occasion – a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities.

And it is in that spirit that I say on behalf of my country, Los Estados Unidos acogen con beneplacito este nuevo comienzo de su relacion con el pueblo y el Gobierno de Cuba. Sabemos que el camino hacia unas relaciones plenamente normales es largo, pero es precisamente por ello que tenemos que empezar en este mismo instante. No hay nada que temer, ya que seran muchos los beneficios de los que gozaremos cuando permitamos a nuestros ciudadanos conocerse mejor, visitarse con mas frecuencia, realizar negocios de forma habitual, intercambiar ideas y aprender los unos de los otros.

My friends, we are gathered here today because our leaders – President Obama and President Castro – made a courageous decision to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow. This doesn't mean that we should or will forget the past; how could we, after all? At least for my generation, the images are indelible.

In 1959, Fidel Castro came to the United States and was greeted by enthusiastic crowds. Returning the next year for the UN General Assembly, he was embraced by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. In 1961, the Bay of Pigs tragedy unfolded with President Kennedy accepting responsibility. And in October 1962, the missile crisis arose – 13 days that pushed us to the very threshold of nuclear war. I was a student then, and I can still remember the taut faces of our leaders, the grim map showing the movement of opposing ships, the approaching deadline, and that peculiar word – quarantine. We were unsettled and uncertain about the future because we didn't know when closing our eyes at night what we would find when we woke up.

In that frozen environment, diplomatic ties between Washington and this capital city were strained, then stretched thin, then severed. In late 1960, the U.S. ambassador left Havana. Early the following January, Cuba demanded a big cut in the size of our diplomatic mission, and President Eisenhower then decided he had no choice but to shut the embassy down.

Most of the U.S. staff departed quickly, but a few stayed behind to hand the keys over to our Swiss colleagues, who would serve diligently and honorably as our protecting power for more than 50 years. I just met with the Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, and we're grateful to Switzerland always for their service and their help. (Applause.)

Among those remaining at the embassy were three Marine guards: Larry Morris, Mike East, and Jim Tracy. As they stepped outside, they were confronted by a large crowd standing between them and the flagpole. Tensions were high. No one felt safe. But the Marines had a mission to accomplish. And slowly, the crowd just parted in front of them as they made their way to the flagpole, lowered Old Glory, folded it, and returned to the building.

Larry, Mike, and Jim had done their jobs, but they also made a bold promise that one day they would return to Havana and raise the flag again. (Applause.)

At the time, no one could have imagined how distant that day would be.

For more than half a century, U.S.-Cuban relations have been suspended in the amber of Cold War politics. In the interim, a whole generation of Americans and Cubans have grown up and grown old. The United States has had ten new presidents. In a united Germany, the Berlin Wall is a fading memory. Freed from Soviet shackles, Central Europe is again home to thriving democracies.

And last week, I was in Hanoi to mark the 20th anniversary of normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Think about that. A long and terrible war that inflicted indelible scars on body and mind, followed by two decades of mutual healing, followed by another two decades of diplomatic and commercial engagement. In this period, Vietnam evolved from a country torn apart by violence into a dynamic society with one of the world's fastest growing economies. And all that time, through reconciliation, through normalization, Cuban-American relations remained locked in the past.

Meanwhile, new technologies enabled people everywhere to benefit from shared projects across vast stretches of ocean and land. My friends, it doesn't take a GPS to realize that the road of mutual isolation and estrangement that the United States and Cuba were traveling was not the right one and that the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction.

In the United States, that means recognizing that U.S. policy is not the anvil on which Cuba's future will be forged. Decades of good intentions aside, the policies of the past have not led to a democratic transition in Cuba. It would be equally unrealistic to expect normalizing relations to have, in a short term, a transformational impact. After all, Cuba's future is for Cubans to shape. Responsibility for the nature and quality of governance and accountability rests, as it should, not with any outside entity; but solely within the citizens of this country.

But the leaders in Havana – and the Cuban people – should also know that the United States will always remain a champion of democratic principles and reforms. Like many other governments in and outside this hemisphere, we will continue to urge the Cuban Government to fulfill its obligations under the UN and inter-American human rights covenants – obligations shared by the United States and every other country in the Americas.

And indeed, we remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith; where the commitment to economic and social justice is realized more fully; where institutions are answerable to those they serve; and where civil society is independent and allowed to flourish.

Let me be clear: The establishment of normal diplomatic relations is not something that one government does as a favor to another; it is something that two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit. And in this case, the reopening of our embassies is important on two levels: People-to-people and government-to-government.

First, we believe it's helpful for the people of our nations to learn more about each other, to meet each other. That is why we are encouraged that travel from the United States to Cuba has already increased by 35 percent since January and is continuing to go up. We are encouraged that more and more U.S. companies are exploring commercial ventures here that would create opportunities for Cuba's own rising number of entrepreneurs, and we are encouraged that U.S. firms are interested in helping Cuba expand its telecommunications and internet links, and that the government here recently pledged to create dozens of new and more affordable Wi-Fi hotspots.

We also want to acknowledge the special role that the Cuban American community is playing in establishing a new relationship between our countries. And in fact, we have with us this morning representatives from that community, some of whom were born here and others who were born in the United States. With their strong ties of culture and family, they can contribute much to the spirit of bilateral cooperation and progress that we are seeking to create, just as they have contributed much to their communities in their adopted land.

The restoration of diplomatic ties will also make it easier for our governments to engage. After all, we are neighbors, and neighbors will always have much to discuss in such areas as civil aviation, migration policy, disaster preparedness, protecting marine environment, global climate change, and other tougher and more complicated issues. Having normal relations makes it easier for us to talk, and talk can deepen understanding even when we know full well we will not see eye to eye on everything.

We are all aware that notwithstanding President Obama's new policy, the overall U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by congressional action – a step that we strongly favor. For now – (applause). For now, the President has taken steps to ease restrictions on remittances, on exports and imports to help Cuban private entrepreneurs, on telecommunications, on family travel, but we want to go further. The goal of all of these changes is to help Cubans connect to the world and to improve their lives. And just as we are doing our part, we urge the Cuban Government to make it less difficult for their citizens to start businesses, to engage in trade, access information online. The embargo has always been something of a two-way street – both sides need to remove restrictions that have been holding Cubans back.

Before closing, I want to sincerely thank leaders throughout the Americas who have long urged the United States and Cuba to restore normal ties. I thank the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Vatican for supporting the start of a new chapter in relations between our countries. And I think it is not accidental that the Holy Father will come here and then to Washington, the United States at this moment. I applaud President Obama and President Castro both for having the courage to bring us together in the face of considerable opposition. I am grateful to Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and her team, to our counterparts in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, to our chief of mission, Ambassador Jeff DeLaurentis and his extraordinary staff, for all of the hard work that has led up to this day. And I just say to our wonderful embassy staff, if you think you've been busy these past months, hold on to your seatbelts. (Laughter.)

But above all, above all, I want to pay tribute to the people of Cuba and to the Cuban American community in the United States. Jose Marti once said that "everything that divides men…is a sin against humanity." Clearly, the events of the past – the harsh words, the provocative and retaliatory actions, the human tragedies – all have been a source of deep division that has diminished our common humanity. There have been too many days of sacrifice and sorrow; too many decades of suspicion and fear. That is why I am heartened by the many on both sides of the Straits who – whether because of family ties or a simple desire to replace anger with something more productive – have endorsed this search for a better path.

We have begun to move down that path without any illusions about how difficult it may be. But we are each confident in our intentions, confident in the contacts that we have made, and pleased with the friendships that we have begun to forge.

And we are certain that the time is now to reach out to one another, as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals, but neighbors – time to unfurl our flags, raise them up, and let the world know that we wish each other well.

Estamos seguros de que este es el momento de acercarnos: dos pueblos ya no enemigos ni rivales, sino vecinos. Es el momento de desplegar nuestras banderas, enarbolarlas y hacerle saber al resto del mundo que nos deseamos lo mejor los unos a los otros.

It is with that healing mission in mind that I turn now to Larry Morris, Jim Tracy, and Mike East. Fifty-four years ago, you gentlemen promised to return to Havana and hoist the flag over the United States Embassy that you lowered on that January day long ago. Today, I invite you on behalf of President Obama and the American people to fulfill that pledge by presenting the Stars and Stripes to be raised by members of our current military detachment.

Larry, Jim, and Mike, this is your cue to deliver on words that would make any diplomat proud, just as they would any member of the United States Marine Corps: Promise made, promise kept. Thank you.

John Kerry en La Habana

John Kerry en La Habana
Agosto 14, 2015

Por favor, tomen asiento. Muchas, muchas gracias. [En español:] Muchas gracias. Buenos días. Siento que hayamos llegado un poquito tarde, pero que hermoso viaje y que maravilloso estar aquí. Y gracias por dejar mi futuro vehículo aquí, detrás de mí [tres almendrones estacionados en el Malecón]. Me encanta. [Risas.]

Distinguidos miembros de la delegación cubana –Josefina, gracias por su liderazgo y por todo el trabajo de su delegación–; excelencias del cuerpo diplomático; mis colegas del pasado y actuales de Washington; embajador DeLaurentis y todo el personal de la embajada; y amigos que nos están viendo en todo el mundo, gracias por acompañarnos en este momento verdaderamente histórico, mientras nos preparamos para izar la bandera de Estados Unidos en nuestra embajada en La Habana, que simboliza el restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas después de 54 años. Esta es también la primera vez que un Secretario de Estado de los Estados Unidos visita Cuba desde 1945. [Aplausos.]

Esta mañana, me siento como en casa aquí, y estoy agradecido a los que han venido a participar en esta ceremonia, quienes están de pie frente a nuestras instalaciones, y me siento como en casa, porque esta es verdaderamente una ocasión memorable, un día para dejar de lado las viejas barreras y explorar nuevas posibilidades.

Y es con ese espíritu que yo digo en nombre de mi país, [en español] los Estados Unidos acogen con beneplácito este nuevo comienzo de su relación con el pueblo y el gobierno de Cuba. Sabemos que el camino hacia unas relaciones plenamente normales es largo pero es precisamente por ello que tenemos que empezar en este mismo instante. No hay nada que temer ya que serán muchos los beneficios de los que gozaremos cuando permitamos a nuestros ciudadanos conocerse mejor, visitarse con más frecuencia, realizar negocios de forma habitual, intercambiar ideas y aprender los unos de los otros.

Amigos, estamos reunidos aquí hoy porque nuestros líderes, el presidente Obama y el presidente Castro, tomaron la valiente decisión de dejar de ser prisioneros de la historia y centrarse en las oportunidades de hoy y de mañana. Esto no quiere decir que debamos olvidar el pasado. ¿Cómo podríamos hacerlo después de todo? Al menos para mi generación, las imágenes son indelebles.

En 1959, Fidel Castro visitó Estados Unidos y fue recibido por multitudes entusiastas. Al año siguiente regresó a la Asamblea General de la ONU, y fue abrazado por el primer ministro soviético Nikita Kruschov. En 1961, se produjo la tragedia de la Bahía de Cochinos, donde el presidente Kennedy aceptó la responsabilidad. Y en octubre de 1962, surgió la crisis de los misiles: 13 días que nos empujaron hasta el umbral de una guerra nuclear. Yo era un estudiante en ese entonces, pero todavía puedo recordar las caras tensas de nuestros líderes, los mapas lúgubres que mostraban el movimiento de las naves de oposición, la fecha límite que se acercaba, y aquella palabra peculiar "cuarentena". Estábamos inquietos y con incertidumbre respecto al futuro, porque no sabíamos cuando cerráramos los ojos por la noche que íbamos a encontrar cuando nos despertáramos.

En ese ambiente gélido, las relaciones diplomáticas entre Washington y esta ciudad capital se hicieron tensas, luego se fueron debilitando, hasta que se cortaron. A finales de 1960, el embajador de Estados Unidos partió de La Habana. A comienzos del enero siguiente, Cuba exigió un gran recorte en la dimensión de nuestra misión diplomática y entonces el presidente Eisenhower decidió que no tenía más alternativa que cerrar la embajada.

La mayor parte del personal estadounidense partió rápidamente, pero unos pocos se quedaron para entregar las llaves a nuestros colegas suizos, que servirían diligente y honorablemente como nuestro poder protector durante más de 50 años. Acabo de reunirme con el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Didier Burkhalter, y siempre estaremos agradecidos a Suiza por su servicio y ayuda. [Aplausos.]

Entre los que permanecieron en la embajada había tres miembros de la Infantería de Marina: Larry Morris, Mike East, y Jim Tracy. Cuando ellos salieron, se encontraron con una gran multitud que se ubicaba entre ellos y el asta de la bandera. Había mucha tensión. Nadie se sentía seguro. Pero los marines tenían una misión que cumplir. Poco a poco, la multitud se apartó mientras ellos se abrían camino hacia el asta de la bandera, arriaron la "Vieja Gloria" [la bandera de Estados Unidos], la doblaron, y regresaron al edificio.

Larry, Mike y Jim no sólo habían cumplido con su misión, sino que también ellos se hicieron una promesa audaz: que algún día regresarían a La Habana para izar nuevamente la bandera.

En ese momento, nadie se podría haber imaginado cuán distante estaba ese día.

Durante más de medio siglo, las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba estuvieron suspendidas en el marco de la política de la Guerra Fría. Mientras tanto toda una generación de estadounidenses y cubanos fueron creciendo y fueron envejeciendo. Estados Unidos tuvo diez nuevos presidentes. En una Alemania unida, el muro de Berlín es un recuerdo que se va desvaneciendo. Liberada de los grilletes soviéticos, Europa Central es de nuevo el hogar de democracias que prosperan.

Y la semana pasada, estuve en Hanói con motivo del 20º aniversario de la normalización de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Vietnam. Piensen en ello. Una larga y terrible guerra que dejó cicatrices indelebles en cuerpos y mentes, seguida de dos décadas de sanación mutua, seguida por otras dos décadas de compromisos diplomáticos y comerciales. Durante todo ese período, Vietnam evolucionó de ser un país desgarrado por la violencia, a una sociedad dinámica con una de las economías de más rápido crecimiento del mundo. Y durante todo ese tiempo, a través de la reconciliación, a través de la normalización, las relaciones cubanoestadounidenses permanecieron aferradas al pasado.

Mientras tanto, las nuevas tecnologías han permitido que personas en todas partes del mundo se beneficien de proyectos compartidos a través de vastas extensiones de océanos y tierra. Amigos, no se necesita tener un GPS [sistema de posicionamiento global] para darse cuenta de que el camino del aislamiento y distanciamiento mutuo que Estados Unidos y Cuba han recorrido no es el correcto, y que ha llegado la hora de que avancemos en una dirección más prometedora.

En Estados Unidos, eso significa reconocer que la política de Estados Unidos no es el yunque en el que el futuro de Cuba será forjado. Dejando de lado las décadas de buenas intenciones, las políticas del pasado no han dado lugar a una transición democrática en Cuba. Sería igualmente poco realista esperar que normalizar las relaciones tenga un impacto transformador a corto plazo. Después de todo, el futuro de Cuba depende de los cubanos. La responsabilidad por la naturaleza y la calidad de la gobernanza y la rendición de cuentas se apoyan, como debe ser, no en ninguna entidad externa; sino únicamente en los ciudadanos de este país.

Pero los líderes en La Habana –y el pueblo cubano– también deben saber que Estados Unidos seguirá siendo siempre el líder de los principios y de las reformas democráticas. Al igual que muchos otros gobiernos dentro y fuera de este hemisferio, seguiremos instando al gobierno cubano a cumplir sus obligaciones en virtud de los acuerdos de derechos humanos de la ONU e Interamericanos: obligaciones que son compartidas por los Estados Unidos y todos los demás países de las Américas.

Y, por supuesto, estamos convencidos de que el pueblo de Cuba estaría mejor servido por una auténtica democracia, donde las personas sean libres de elegir a sus líderes, de expresar sus ideas, y practicar su fe; donde el compromiso con la justicia económica y social se realice con mayor plenitud; donde las instituciones respondan ante aquellos a quienes sirven; y donde la sociedad civil sea independiente y se permita que florezca.

Permítanme ser claro: el establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas normales no es algo que un gobierno haga para hacerle un favor a otro. Es algo que dos países hacen juntos cuando ha de beneficiar a los ciudadanos de ambos países. Y en este caso, la reapertura de nuestras embajadas es importante en dos niveles: de pueblo a pueblo y de gobierno a gobierno.

En primer lugar, creemos que es útil para que los pueblos de nuestros países puedan aprender más uno de otro, conocerse uno a otro. Por eso nos alienta que los viajes de Estados Unidos a Cuba ya hayan aumentado en un 35 por ciento desde enero y sigan aumentando. Nos alienta que cada vez más empresas estadounidenses estén explorando alternativas comerciales aquí que crearían oportunidades para el creciente número de los propios emprendedores cubanos. Y nos alienta que las empresas estadounidenses estén interesadas en ayudar a Cuba a expandir sus conexiones de telecomunicaciones e Internet, y que el gobierno cubano recientemente se comprometiera a crear docenas de nuevos y más asequibles puntos de conexión wifi.

También queremos reconocer el papel especial que está desempeñando la comunidad cubanoestadounidense en la construcción de una nueva relación entre nuestros países. Y, de hecho, tenemos con nosotros esta mañana a representantes de esa comunidad, algunos de los cuales nacieron en aquí en Cuba y otros que nacieron en Estados Unidos. Con sus fuertes lazos culturales y familiares, ellos pueden aportar mucho al espíritu de cooperación bilateral y progreso que estamos intentando crear, al igual que han contribuido en gran medida a las comunidades en su tierra de adopción.

La restauración de los vínculos diplomáticos también hará que sea más fácil la interacción entre nuestros gobiernos. Después de todo, somos vecinos, y los vecinos siempre tienen mucho que hablar en áreas tales como la aviación civil, la política migratoria, la preparación ante desastres, la protección del medioambiente marino, así como otros asuntos más difíciles y complejos. Normalizar las relaciones facilitará el diálogo; y dialogar permitirá profundizar el entendimiento mutuo, incluso cuando sabemos muy bien que no vamos a estar de acuerdo en todo.

Todos somos conscientes de que a pesar de la nueva política del presidente Obama, el embargo general de Estados Unidos al comercio con Cuba se mantiene en vigor y sólo puede ser levantado por la acción del Congreso; un paso que favorecemos firmemente. Por ahora [aplausos]... Por ahora, el presidente ha tomado medidas para aliviar las restricciones a las remesas, las exportaciones e importaciones para ayudar a los empresarios privados cubanos, en materia de telecomunicaciones, y los viajes de familias, pero queremos ir más allá. El objetivo de todos estos cambios es ayudar a los cubanos a conectarse con el mundo y mejorar sus vidas. Y así como estamos haciendo nuestra parte, instamos al gobierno cubano para que haga menos difícil para sus ciudadanos el poder iniciar un negocio, participar en el comercio, y acceder a información en internet. El embargo siempre ha sido algo así como una calle de doble sentido: ambas partes tienen que eliminar las restricciones que se han establecido y que han estado rezagando a los cubanos.

Antes de concluir, deseo agradecer sinceramente a los líderes de todas las Américas quienes por mucho tiempo han instado a Estados Unidos y a Cuba a restaurar los vínculos normales. Agradezco también al Santo Padre, el papa Francisco, y al Vaticano, por apoyar el inicio de un nuevo capítulo en las relaciones entre nuestros países. Y creo que no es casualidad que el Santo Padre venga aquí y luego vaya a Washington, en Estados Unidos, en estos momentos. Aplaudo al presidente Obama y al presidente Castro por tener el valor de unirnos, incluso enfrentando una oposición considerable. Estoy muy agradecido a la secretaria de Estado adjunta, Roberta Jacobson y a su equipo, a nuestras contrapartes en el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba, a nuestro jefe de misión, el embajador Jeff DeLaurentis, y su extraordinario personal, por todo el trabajo en preparación de este día. Y permítanme decirle a nuestro maravilloso personal de la embajada: si creen que han estado ocupados en estos últimos meses, mejor se ajusten el cinturón de seguridad. (Risas).

Pero, sobre todo, deseo rendir un homenaje al pueblo de Cuba y a la comunidad cubanoestadounidense en Estados Unidos. José Martí dijo una vez que "todo lo que divide a los hombres ... es un pecado contra la humanidad". Claramente, los acontecimientos del pasado: las duras palabras, los actos de provocación y represalia, las tragedias humanas; han sido una fuente de profunda división que ha disminuido nuestra humanidad común. Ha habido demasiadas jornadas de sacrificio y dolor; demasiadas décadas de desconfianza y miedo. Por eso me siento alentado por los muchos que, en ambos lados del estrecho, ya sea por vínculos familiares o por el simple deseo de reemplazar la ira por algo más productivo, han respaldado nuestra búsqueda de un mejor camino.

Hemos comenzado a avanzar por ese camino sin engañarnos sobre lo difícil que pueda ser. Pero ambos tenemos confianza en nuestras intenciones, confianza en los contactos que hemos hecho, y complacidos por las amistades que hemos comenzado a forjar.

Y tenemos la certeza de que este es el momento de acercarnos unos a los otros, como dos pueblos que ya no son enemigos ni rivales, sino vecinos. Es el momento de desplegar nuestras banderas, enarbolarlas y hacerle saber al resto del mundo que nos deseamos lo mejor los unos a los otros.

[En español] E stamos seguros de que este es el momento de acercarnos, dos pueblos ya no enemigos ni rivales sino vecinos, es el momento de desplegar nuestras banderas, enarbolarlas, hacerle saber al resto del mundo que nos deseamos lo mejor los unos a los otros.

Es con esa misión de sanación en mente, que me dirijo ahora a Larry Morris, Jim Tracy y Mike East. Hace cincuenta y cuatro años, ustedes, caballeros, prometieron volver a La Habana e izar la bandera que arriaron en la Embajada de Estados Unidos en aquel día de enero hace ya mucho tiempo. Hoy, los invito, en nombre del presidente Obama y el pueblo de Estados Unidos, a cumplir esa promesa de presentar la bandera de las barras y estrellas para que sea izada por los miembros de nuestro actual destacamento militar.

Larry, Jim, Mike. Esta es el momento de cumplir con las palabras que harían orgulloso a cualquier diplomático, al igual que enorgullecerían a cualquier miembro del Cuerpo de Infantería de Marina de los Estados Unidos: promesa hecha, promesa cumplida. Gracias.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 desafíos del acceso público a Internet en Cuba

Cinco desafíos de la extensión del acceso público a Internet en Cuba
Por Elaine Díaz

Hay una muchacha sentada en la otra esquina del muro. Hay un P de los anaranjados que para justo en el semáforo. Hay gente bajándose del P antes de llegar a la parada. Hay también cola para entrar al Dinos Pizza. Hay una extranjera que me pregunta en inglés Where did you get your card. Y de la cola del Dinos Pizza sale un muchacho y abre una ristra de tarjetas prepagadas de acceso a Internet. Le dice a la extranjera que three dollars cada una y a mí se me antoja una trenza interminable de cabezas de ajo, que cuestan three pesos cubanos cada una.

La muchacha de la esquina se acerca, aprovecha que me distancié de la pantalla por unos segundos para explicarle a la extranjera que las había comprado en Guanabo, hace como dos semanas, y me suplica que la ayude a conectarse, que lleva tres días viniendo, que ella espera a que yo termine de hacer lo mío. A mí se me escapan cinco minutos-Nauta escuchándola. Y uno no es consciente del valor del tiempo hasta que se enfrenta a una hora-Nauta, que no hay forma de que tenga 60 minutos. Sesenta minutos por cincuenta pesos. Miro los minutos-Nauta que se largan con frialdad y en un acto de bravuconería y rebeldía los dejo ir, le pido el teléfono a la muchacha, que dibuja una G en su smartphone y lidio con WIFI_Etecsa.

Hay unos muchachos de menos de veinte años que se han sentado justo al lado mío después de bajarse del P anaranjado. Son cuatro de ellos y tienen, fíjense, un Tablet, con 40 por ciento de batería, lo que significa dos horas-Nauta más o menos, y un Smartphone, pero ese no, ese no va a hacer falta por ahora, porque uno de ellos les dice a los demás que tienen que pensar primero, pensar bien en qué quieren descargar, antes de poner el usuario y la contraseña. Los muchachos miran mi pantalla para ver si encuentran una pista. Pero mi pantalla es aburrida y no está Facebook abierto, tampoco IMO, el contenido de mi pantalla está fuera de moda. Quince minutos después, los muchachos aún no tienen claro qué van a bajar y alguien sugiere tímidamente unos wallpapers, pero nadie lo escucha. El líder del grupo les dice que los va a llevar al sitio donde más rápida está la conexión en toda La Rampa. Yo quiero seguirlos, por curiosidad, porque yo pensaba que en aquel muro estaba bastante rápida, pero me da pereza cerrar la laptop.

Tecleo rápido algunas frases que se escapan con una mezcla de tristeza, indignación, desconsuelo y escepticismo. Se nota en ellas también el cansancio. El cansancio que se pregunta – sabiendo de antemano la respuesta – dónde ha estado toda esta gente en los últimos diez años. Pero sucede que la tristeza, la indignación, el desconsuelo y el escepticismo no resuelven mucho. Para ser más exactos, resuelven nada.

Es mejor, entonces, concentrar energías apuntando a desafíos concretos, a problemas que pueden ser resueltos, a los asuntos descuidados ante la necesidad de brindar una imagen de una Cuba Internet-friendly. Es mejor teclear, por ejemplo, cinco preguntas, con la esperanza ingenua de que en alguna oficina donde se toman decisiones, alguien esté trabajando por responderlas.

Y así salen…

1. ¿Cómo el sentido de la urgencia, la ausencia de conocimientos sobre el uso de servicios de Internet, los altos precios y los dispositivos de acceso están condicionando la experiencia de navegación por Internet en Cuba?

2. ¿Cuál va a ser la metodología a emplear para medir estadísticamente la penetración a Internet en Cuba incluyendo los puntos de acceso públicos y las formas de acceso previas?

3. ¿De qué manera se prevé la formación del personal docente de la educación primaria, secundaria y preuniversitaria sobre el uso de Internet en un contexto en el que el acceso de los estudiantes antecede u ocurre simultáneamente al de los profesores?

4. ¿Cómo se prevé incluir a los sectores en desventaja socioeconómica y de conocimientos en cuanto al uso de las TIC en el proceso de extensión del acceso público a Internet?

5. ¿Cuáles son las formas de uso de los datos electrónicos de los usuarios – incluyendo los historiales de navegación – por parte de ETECSA y cómo serán utilizados y/o compartidos por/entre diferentes instituciones?

*Este post forma parte de una serie de artículos sobre el tema y puede ser republicado en cualquier sitio web sin la autorización explícita de la autora.

La Habana, 5 de agosto de 2015

Elaine Díaz | agosto 5, 2015 en 9:32 am | Etiquetas: internet | Categorías: Ciencia y Tecnología | URL:

Gracias por volar con

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Declaración del OC sobre violencia contra Antonio Rodiles



El Observatorio Crítico Cubano deplora la violencia física ejercida el pasado día 5 de julio de 2015 contra el opositor Antonio Rodiles, quien como consecuencia debió ser intervenido quirúrgicamente. Rodiles fue operado de urgencia por una fractura del hueso nasal tras ser detenido y golpeado por agentes de la Seguridad del estado mientras participaba en una marcha de las también opositoras Damas de Blanco.


En principio, nuestro colectivo se coloca en las antípodas de las posturas políticas de Rodiles, pues defendemos un modelo de sociedad emancipada de los poderes globales, y nos oponemos al injerencista bloqueo estadounidense contra Cuba. No obstante, las diferencias políticas nunca serán argumento suficiente para justificar las prácticas violentas e ilegales con que la Seguridad maneja su relación con la disidencia en la isla.


Somos anticapitalistas, pero no de esa "izquierda" intolerante que anula al diferente y se niega a debatir. Más bien nos apegamos a una visión de sociedad inclusiva; sabiendo de antemano que es un empeño difícil, todo un reto en un mundo donde las fuerzas hegemónicas se disfrazan con más de un ropaje, ya sea "democrático" o "pro Derechos Humanos". Pero que tal degradación se haya producido, no significa que desechemos los elementos valiosos que estos conceptos (Democracia, Derechos Humanos) pueden proveer, bajo una mirada crítica, para la construcción de la sociedad deseada.


Si la disidencia de derechas, si Rodiles, si las Damas de Blanco, o cualquier otra agrupación opositora han cometido algún presunto delito, que se diga públicamente cuál es. Las autoridades están obligadas a proteger, jamás violentar, la integridad física y moral de la ciudadanía. Exigimos que se procese a los agresores, y que las instituciones estatales a las que se subordinan también rindan cuentas por su comportamiento anticonstitucional.


¡Queremos un socialismo verdaderamente democrático, libertario, y participativo!


¡No a la persecución política!


¡No a la criminalización de la protesta!


¡Libertad de expresión, asociación y manifestación!


Observatorio Crítico Cubano


La Habana, 28 de julio de 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What "The New #Cuba" means to me

Viva Cuba, Viva Fidel, Viva Obama?

Viva Cuba, Viva Fidel, Viva Obama?

My only comment on yesterday's news item below is that onlookers would have been wiser to chant "Viva Obama" or "Viva la Convivencia" given the political bravery and risk the president has taken in "engaging" the Cuban government while aiming to "empower" the Cuban people.

Still, quite an historic day...


As onlookers chanted "Viva Cuba, Viva Fidel," the Cuban flag was hoisted outside of the country's newly established embassy in Washington on Monday.

The gesture marked a symbolic end to more than five decades of hostility and mistrust between the two countries.

The U.S. also opened its embassy in Cuba on Monday, but there was no ceremony. That will take place when Secretary of State John Kerry visits Havana on August 14.

Monday afternoon, Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez held talks during the first visit by a Cuban foreign minister to the State Department in more than 50 years.

Kerry, Rodriguez discuss goals, differences

Kerry has called the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba a "new beginning," but he said many differences remain.

He said the full normalization process will be "long and complex."

"Along the way, we are sure to encounter a bump here or there and moments even of frustration," said Kerry. "Patience will be required," he added.

Rodriguez spelled out some of the differences that he discussed with Kerry, including Cuba's desire for an end to the U.S. trade embargo as well as the return of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay.

The diplomatic shift comes 54 years after a break that happened during U.S. President John F. Kennedy's administration.

Mixed crowd at flag-raising

Well-wishers and protesters were among those on hand for Monday's flag-raising at the stately mansion that serves as the Cuban embassy in Washington.

Some demonstrators chanted and waved colorful banners calling for an end to the U.S. trade embargo.

Orlando Luis Pardo, a Cuban from Havana, was among those attending. He praised normalization efforts but criticized Cuban leader Raul Castro's government for its restrictions.

"We deserve freedom of organization, peaceful organization. We deserve freedom of demonstrations, peaceful demonstrations," he said.

Another spectator, Center for a Free Cuba executive director Frank Calzon, had criticism for President Barack Obama's administration.

He said the U.S. was hasty in removing Cuba from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list and said the U.S. should have sought more concessions from Cuba on human rights issues before moving to re-establish ties.

While the U.S. did not hold a ceremony at its embassy in Havana to mark the resumption of relations, it did hoist the Cuban flag to hang alongside those from other nations at the State Department.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Machado Ventura turns Google down

Seems like Google made Cuba an offer it COULD refuse... You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. 

At the same time, most Cubans I know say that José Ramón Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of Cuba's Communist Party and Vice President of Cuba's Council of State, 85, represents the hardline past and this may be his Waterloo. Vamos a ver. 

In his brief report of this news, OnCuba's Fernando Ravsberg quipped the following:

"Dicen que cuando la limosna es demasiado grande hasta el pobre desconfía."
[They say that when the donation is too large even the poor become suspicious.]


Cuban Vice President Machado Ventura just spoke the following words about the future of the Internet in #Cuba:

El vicepresidente cubano Machado Ventura habló sobre el futuro de la Internet en Cuba:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fifo in '05: "No one here has become a neo-liberal!"

Up late re-reading the chapter on Cuba's private, home-based "paladar" restaurants from the book "Entrepreneurial Cuba" that I recently published with Arch Ritter, and I came across this GEM from one of Fifo's last marathon speeches on November 17, 2005:

"Referring to U.S. promotion of private enterprise in Cuba, Fidel Castro reminded his listeners that self-employment has no real future in a socialist Cuba. 'The Empire was hoping that Cuba would have many more paladares but it appears that there will be no more of them. What do they think, that we have become neo-liberals? No one here has become a neo-liberal'."

Can someone please tell Raúl?!

Or, perhaps I should say, "What a difference a decade makes" or "This is what change looks like."

Fidel equated self-employment and paladares with neo-liberalism (!).

Raúl sees them as part of a new, still socialist Cuban economic model where the (still euphemistically named) "non-sate sector" plays and complementary role in economic development and the provision of goods, services, and employment, allowing the state to focus on the fundamentals.

Compare the above quote from Fidel, with this one from Raúl from December 2010:

“Self-employment is one more alternative aimed at increasing the supply of goods and services to the population. We should facilitate their work rather than generate stigmas and prejudices against them, much less demonize them. It is fundamental that we modify the existing negative approach that quite a few of us have towards this form of private work.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

U.S. - #Cuba Negotiations 101: Unit Quiz!

In an historic announcement yesterday, the U.S. and Cuba will indeed reestablish formal diplomatic relations and reopen respective embassies (after 54 years and 6 1/2 months) on July 20, 2015.

Here's the letter that Obama sent to Raúl Castro confirming the opening. Be sure to read the second paragraph about his recognition of the "sovereign equality of States," the "self-determination of peoples," "non-interference in the internal affairs of States," and "respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all" (H/T to Café Fuerte for the document). While this is the standard, boilerplate language for such letters (see Raúl's own letter to Obama here), there's nothing standard about such words in the history of U.S.-Cuban relations, or in the Castro government's relations with its own people, for that matter!  

As a college professor, I wanted to urge the readers of my blog to also read the now essential book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana by my colleagues William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh (UNC Press, 2014).

If your time is short, you must at least read the final section of the Obama chapter appropriately (at least until Dec. 17, 2014) entitled, "The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same" (pp. 399-401) and study the key lessons from more than 50 years of unsuccessful attempts at mutual accommodation (the book was published in October 2014) presented in the book's concluding chapter (pp. 402-417) entitled, "Intimate Adversaries, Possible Friends."

Here's a quick cheat sheet on the book's 10 lessons:
1. There have always been opportunities for dialogue (even under Nixon, Reagan, and W.)
2. Cuban leaders instinctively resist making concessions to U.S. demands.
3. Cuba willing to respond to U.S. concerns, but must come at Havana's own initiative (not as concessions to demands).
4. Small successes don't necessarily lead to big breakthroughs (except, it seems, in the case of Alan Gross and the Cuban 5!)
5. Cuban leaders have difficulty distinguishing between "gestures" and "concessions."
6. Timing is everything.
7. An incremental approach to normalization has not worked.
8. Domestic politics is always an issue (on both sides).
9. Neither side gets that the other has an internal bureaucracy, so misunderstandings abound.
10. Cuba wants to be treated as an equal, with respect for its national sovereignty.

As a way to sum this up, I would add that the gordian knot preventing accommodation between Cuba and the U.S. has consistently been that Cuba's most important demand (#10 above) has been the one thing that the U.S. has been unable or unwilling to do (until now).

I'm greatly looking forward to the forthcoming new edition of the book (scheduled to be released late in the fall of 2015), which promises to have a juicy, behind-the-scenes new chapter filling us in on the secret, "back channel" negotiations that preceded the December 17, 2014 announcement.

Indeed, until that date this single paragraph coming at the end of the Obama chapter (p. 400) - and summing up the then still unfinished Obama administration and its foreign policy legacy - served to remind readers that, at least on the fundamentals of Cuba policy, the policy apple of Obama had not fallen very far from the doctrinal tree of George W. Bush (or that of the 9 other presidents that preceded them):

"Despite being cloaked in the rhetoric of change, however, Obama's approach shared two premises common to U.S. policy since the end of the Cold War:

"(1) Significant progress in bilateral relations would come only if Cuba began to dismantle its political and economic systems, replacing them with a multiparty electoral democracy and a free-market economy [aka, regime change]; and

"(2) Even the smallest U.S. steps toward a reduction in tension would have to be met by reciprocal steps from the Cuban side [aka, reciprocity, carrot/stick, calibrated response approach vs. unilateralism]."

That is, "Under Obama, the goal of U.S. policy was not phrased as confrontationally as it was under George W. Bush, but neither was it fundamentally different."

My belief, and I'm interested to see if the authors share it, is that it is fundamentally different now given the looming reestablishment of diplomatic relations and especially Obama's explicit rejection of a "regime change" agenda at the Summit of the Americas in April.

On the Cuban side, there has often been an insistence that no accommodation was possible unless the U.S. first got rid of the embargo (known as the "embargo first" policy approach). Clearly, the Cubans have not made this approach a "deal-breaker," seeing it now as a necessary part of the path to full "normalization" (known as the "embargo eventually" policy approach).

In that vein, yesterday Obama importantly called on Congress "to take steps to lift the embargo that prevents Americans from traveling or doing business in Cuba."

Now, as an incentive for my readers, as (or even before) you read through Back Channel, see how many of the following questions you can answer - the questions are from my midterm exam given last week in my summer class: "Cuban Culture and Society."

And stay tuned, I will present the answers in a future post!


Cuban Culture and Society – LTS/ANT/SOC 3015
Professor Ted Henken
Summer Session 2015
Baruch College, CUNY

A. Short Answer (50 points): Provide the single word, phrase, or sentence requested.

1. Name the 10 U.S. presidents in office sequentially during the course of the Cuban revolution prior to Obama.

2. How did James Donovan, who negotiated with Fidel Castro in 1962-63, answer the question: "How do porcupines make love?"

3. What was the thing Donovan was in Cuba to negotiate?

4. One lesson from the Back Channel book is that the U.S. and Cuba have often used third countries and third parties to negotiate. What third country was instrumental in their achieving the December 17, 2014 accords?

5. If the Teller Amendment was a promise that the U.S. made itself in 1898 to relinquish control over Cuba to the Cubans, which related amendment was the U.S. betrayal of that promise in 1902?

6. What were the last four words of the speech given by Fidel Castro at his trial for attacking the Moncada Barracks in 1953?

7. What was the date of that attack?

8. Upon Fidel Castro's first trip to the US after the revolution in early 1959, two key, unprecedented things did NOT happen on each side. What were they?

9. During the summer of 1960 the U.S. State Department came out against using what it called "the ultimate weapon" against Castro because it would be counterproductive. "It might cripple the Cuban economy, but it would not dislodge Castro's government. On the contrary, it would "rally Cuban nationalist sentiment around Castro." What was this ultimate weapon (the U.S. did indeed impose it on Cuba that summer)?

10. Who said, "Victory has a thousand fathers, and defeat is an orphan"? And to which defeat was he referring?

11. All throughout the history of negotiations with the U.S., Cuba consistently refused to compromise on one issue. What has it been?

12. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, the U.S. consistently raised two issues with Cuba having to do with its foreign policy. What were these two issues?

13. Taking place in 1965, what was the first formal diplomatic accord negotiated between Washington and Havana since the revolution?

14. Which U.S. Secretary of State instructed his aides in the mid-1970s to deal with Fidel Castro using the following words: “Behave chivalrously; do it like a big guy, not like a shyster. Let him know: We are moving in a new direction; we’d like to synchronize; …steps will be unilateral; reciprocity is necessary”?

15. Which two Cuban foreign policy priorities amounted to insurmountable “obstacles” to reestablishing diplomatic relations with the United States during the Nixon and Ford administrations?

16. Despite Carter’s failure to get Cuba to withdraw troops from Africa, his failure at reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the debacle of the Mariel Boat-lift, his administration did achieve a number of significant and lasting milestones in its relations with Cuba. Name one of them.

17. We often remember the Mariel Boat-lift of 1980 when 125,000 Cubans came as refugees to the United States. However, the book explains that this flow was partly the result of another slightly smaller flow in the opposite direction during 1979. What was that flow?

18. As the Cold War came to an end and the Soviet Union disappeared, U.S. goals in Cuba shifted from trying to influence its foreign policy to trying to do what?

19. What U.S. law passed in 1966 gave Cubans physically present in the U.S. the ability to regularize their status, becoming U.S. permanent residents after just one year and one day?

20. Suspected terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was put on trial in El Paso on January 10, 2011. Despite a long career of political violence, Posada Carriles was only tried (and found innocent of) which crime(s)?

21. In 1994, Fidel Castro told a group of former U.S. ambassadors that he needed a two-term president to normalize relations with Cuba. What was his reasoning behind his (accurate) prediction of this fact?

22. The book, Back Channel to Cuba, was published in October 2014. Thus, the authors conclude that, “Under Obama, the goal of U.S. policy was not phrased as confrontationally as it was under George W. Bush, but neither was it fundamentally different.” What key premises did Obama’s supposedly different approach share with both the Democratic and Republican presidents that preceded him since the end of the Cold War?

23. Was the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) created before or after the triumph of the Cuban revolution on January 1, 1959?

24. The Cuban government reports that Internet access on the island between 23-26 percent. Why might this rate of access actually over-represent the actual accessibility to the web on the island?

25. How did President Clinton significantly change U.S. policy toward Cuban immigrants attempting to come by sea between 1994 and 1995?

26. However, in question #25 above why did Clinton’s change in U.S. migration policy NOT amount to a fundamental change in the special treatment Cubans continue to receive?

27. Raúl Castro and Barack Obama sat down in Panama in April 2015 for the first substantive conversation between presidents of their respective nations since 1959. However, they did briefly meet and shake hands in December 2013. What was the occasion/setting of that meeting, and what words were exchanged between them?

28. Armando Chaguaceda describes the promise of broad-based political participation in the Cuban Revolution as “besieged.” In fact, he says that Cuba has “a sea of participation,” but what is the problem with that “sea”?

B. Identification (25 points): Write five separate single paragraphs each of which defining and describing the significance for U.S.-Cuba relations of five of the following fourteen terms.

1. Elián González.                                             8. Brothers to the Rescue. 
2. Actos de repudio / Acts of repudiation.        9. Calibrated response.
3. Radio Martí & La TV que no se ve.    10. Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.
4. Jorge Mas Canosa and the CANF.              11. Wet-foot, dry-foot policy.
5. Jimmy Carter and the Varela Project.         12. Helms-Burton Act.
6. Transition vs. Succession (Cuba 2006).      13. Yoani Sánchez.
7. The Cuban Medical Professional Program. 14. The special period.

C. Essay (25 points): Choose one essay question below and answer it with reference to our readings, making sure to be both descriptive and analytical. Your answer should include as much specific detail as possible, be coherently organized, and be between 4-5 paragraphs in length.

1. Negotiations and Their Lessons: Over the past 55 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, the two countries have been at loggerheads since each side demanded the one thing the other side was most unable or unwilling to concede. What were the demands, priorities, and “non-negotiables” of each side, how did they change over time, and what have been the reasons that a deal has been so elusive? Finally, what are some of the most important “lessons” that our authors (LeoGrande and Kornbluh) draw from the history of U.S.-Cuba negotiations?

2. The Cuban Five and the U.S. War against Terror: On December 17, 2014 the U.S. and Cuban governments announced that they were reestablishing diplomatic relations after 54 years of isolation and mutual antagonism. However, the “trigger” or “hook” that allowed for such a historic accord was the resolution of the cases of the “Cuban Five” and Alan Gross. Briefly describe how the case of the (1) “Cuban Five” is related to the issue of (2) terrorism, the (3) shoot-down of two civilian aircraft piloted by the Brothers to the Rescue, the (4) activities of Luis Posada Carriles, and (5) the 5-year imprisonment of Alan Gross. How did each country differently view these cases? In your answer be sure to make reference to the essay by Saul Landau, “The Cuban Five and the U.S. War against Terror” and the “Clinton” chapter in the LeoGrande and Kornbluh book.

3. Cuban Migration – From Exiles to Immigrants: One issue that repeatedly brought the U.S. and Cuba to the negotiating table was that of international migration. Describe the various waves of Cuban migration to the U.S. over the past half-century. How has each side sought to politicize that migration and why has it come in episodic “waves” and not in a constant flow? What were the specific issues within each wave that forced the two countries to make accords with one another? Finally, how has the motivation and composition of Cuban immigrants changed over time and how might this change contribute to the thaw in bilateral relations we are witnessing today?
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