The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'cuba'
50 years after the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban government is preparing to concede defeat in the struggle for socialism, and unveil radical reforms:
Evidence, as Castro himself said in a recent interview, that "the Cuban model doesn't even work for us any more". Which is why on Saturday the Communist party will inaugurate its first congress in 14 years to cement radical changes to the economy and, intentional or not, to Cuban society.
"The narrative is really Thatcherite," said one senior western diplomat in Havana. "It's all about cutting rights and welfare and putting greater emphasis on personal responsibility and hard work."It'd be ironic if, as Cuba prepares to liberalise its economy and open itself up to investors, the investors came to the Cuban government and advised them to actually keep the infrastructure of totalitarianism in place, because of its usefulness in increasing productivity, controlling unrest and ensuring the integrity of intellectual-property licensing.
More Wikileaks revelations, this time about Cuba, the world's grooviest totalitarian dictatorship: a US diplomat complains that countries including Spain, Switzerland, Canada and nominally loyal Washington ally Australia have stopped criticising Cuba's human rights record, ostensibly in return for commercial favours.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Cuba banned Michael Moore's film Sicko, which decries the state of privatised health care in the US and contrasts it with a glowing image of Cuba's health system. The reason Cuba banned it was apparently because its portrayal of Cuba's system was so mythically positive that it could have led to a popular backlash against the real thing; in particular, one of the Cuban hospitals is only available to the Communist Party nomenklatura and those who can pay bribes in hard currencies:
The cable describes a visit made by the FSHP to the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in October 2007. Built in 1982, the newly renovated hospital was used in Michael Moore's film as evidence of the high-quality of healthcare available to all Cubans.
But according to the FSHP, the only way a Cuban can get access to the hospital is through a bribe or contacts inside the hospital administration. "Cubans are reportedly very resentful that the best hospital in Havana is 'off-limits' to them," the memo reveals.
The former Communist state of East Germany, which disappeared from Europe in 1990, still exists in the Caribbean; well, sort of. There is an unpopulated island off the coast of Cuba which Fidel Castro gave to East Germany in 1972, naming it "Cayo Ernesto Thaelmann", after a Communist politician executed by the Nazis. During the Communist era, it was apparently effectively East German territory; a Party-approved pop singer made a record there in 1975. It's not known how much the DDR used the island other than that, though by the time the Berlin Wall came down, it was apparently uninhabited, to the point where those negotiating the reunification treaty forgot it existed. This state of affairs continued until 2001, when a German newspaper discovered it and attempted to sell it, upon which, the Cubans, not wanting any more capitalist running-dog lackeys in their neighbourhood, swiftly declared that the transfer was "symbolic" only.
Cuba is now planning to abandon Windows for Linux, following such radical states as Brazil and, umm, Munich. The "open source = Communism" mob will undoubtedly have a field day with this news.
Del Puerto said his office was working on a legal framework that would allow the replacement of the Windows system.
Hang on... a legal framework? Isn't Cuba on the list of countries it is illegal to export Windows too? I imagine Microsoft would have a hard time selling licenses to Cuba, for one. And would Cuba even recognise US software licensing law? Perhaps they have to make a show of being good global intellectual-property citizens if they are to keep those Che merchandise and Buena Vista Social Club CD royalties coming in.
Australia has come in in 41st place in Reporters Without Borders' annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index; which is below all EU members, several other Eastern European countries, South Africa and Hong Kong; in contrast, New Zealand ranked ninth, only slightly below the 8 nations sharing first place. Australia's dismal showing has to do partly with restricted press access to refugees, though chances are that media ownership concentration, defamation laws and attempts to force journalists to reveal their sources have also contributed.
The bottom of the list is held, predictably, by North Korea (at #167), with Cuba just above it. Saudi Arabia is at #159, three places ahead of China, while Singapore is at #147. Brazil, a popular recent poster child of the Third Way, languishes at #66. The US's arrest of journalists at anti-Bush protests and restrictions on journalistic visas have knocked it down to #22. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Israel is at #36 (shared with Bulgaria), except in the occupied territories, where it is at #115 (shared with Gabon), though ahead of the Palestinian Authority (#127, slightly better than Egypt and Somalia).
First place is shared by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland.
There have been mass arrests in the People's Democracy of Cuba after the official Communist Party newspaper printed a photograph of Fidel Castro doctored to look like Hitler. The offending issues of Granma (which is presumably similar in tone to Pravda before it turned into the Weekly World News) were quickly retrieved by the secret police; the efficiency of this operation evident in the vagueness of descriptions of the photograph, which few people have actually seen (or will admit to having):
Some say that those seated in the background of the photograph, which was published on December 4, have had their glasses darkened, to make them look like mafiosi, or that they have had white lines superimposed on their lips, suggesting that they dare not speak out against Dr Castro's wishes.
Using copyright law to crush criticism isn't the exclusive domain of multinational corporations and the Church of Scientology: the Cuban
dictatorship people's democracy (you know, the Another World that they tell you Is Possible) has successfully sued Reporters Without Borders for using the icon of Che Guevara in a poster criticising Cuba's persecution of journalists; as such, the image has been banned in France. The image in question may be found here.
Mind you, it's not exactly like Che (a doctrinaire Marxist/Leninist who sent thousands of "counter-revolutionaries" to the firing squad and established the apparatus of state repression in Cuba, and not the mellow left-libertarian dude many people could imagine sharing a joint with) would be spinning in his CIA-dug grave at the injustice of this lawsuit. (via MeFi)
Veteran Communist dictator turned anti-globalisation movement hero and World's First Punk Statesman, Fidel Castro hails the Internet as a weapon against communications monopolies, by which he probably means the evil Yanqui capitalist propaganda engines. Given that this is coming from a despot who keeps a draconian grip on all means of communication and organisation in his prison-state (even the Cuban Government's overseas propaganda publications are banned at home, because ordinary Cubans are forbidden from knowing the details the government's propagandists have to put in to give them credibility to McWorlders), I must say this rings a little hollow. Though he probably said it for the benefit of the Nu Marxists in the protest movement. (via TechDirt)
(Btw, is there anybody like Salam Pax in Havana, somehow managing to keep a blog and avoid the attentions of the secret police? (I mean anyone who isn't a transparent propaganda ploy by one side or the other?))
In Cuba, where the government aims to control every aspect of the flow of information, one needs special permission to borrow most books from libraries. As such, speakeasy libraries are the latest form of dissent, and seen as the latest threat to socialism:
"I can't just walk into a public library and ask for books on Afro-Cuban religion," said Luis Antonio Bonito Lara, a retired engineer and avid reader. "I can't even ask for copies of Granma from two years ago without special permission. It's enormously frustrating."
(Remember, this is the Another World that the people protesting outside the Nike store will tell you Is Possible.) (via Reenhead)
The Axis of Evil grows: Cuba, Libya and Syria are now officially Evil, according to our leaders.
Conspiracy theory of the day: Russia's Pravda reckons that Fidel Castro was really pissed off about the WTC bombing -- because now he won't be the first to strike at America, Or was he?
in 1983, Castro ordered Cuban MiG 23 pilots to program their computers to attack targets in Florida. Among the selected targets was the Turkey Point nuclear plant, which Castro said had the potential of producing a nuclear disaster larger than Chernobyl. According to Gen. del Pino, Castro's words were: "I don't have nuclear bombs, but I can produce a nuclear explosion." The plan included the possibility of suicide attacks, crashing Cuban planes against American nuclear plants and targets in Washington D.C.
Undoubtedly, the suicide bombers were familiar with the structure of the buildings, and knew exactly where to crash their planes to cause maximum structural damage. Short of a computer simulation model, only a close inspection of the WTC towers, or to a building with similar characteristics, would have allowed them to discover the weak points in the building's structure. Did Fidel Castro bring with him some of his highly trained army demolition engineers to study the structure of the Petronas towers?
Though, given that the author compares Castro to Hitler, I suspect that he may have a slight chip on his shoulder.
In London, radical leftists picket film criticising Cuba. Opponents say that Before Night Falls, which deals with the persecution of a gay poet in Cuba, is "playing into the hands of the CIA". Wonder whether, when it reaches Australia, the S11/M1 people will be blockading the cinemas in a "Carnival against Disinformation".