[News] Write to ‘In These Times’ about their smear job on Cuba “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government”

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Thu Feb 4 15:36:47 EST 2021


https://chicagoalbasolidarity.wordpress.com/2021/02/04/write-to-in-these-times-about-their-smear-job-on-cuba-the-western-hemispheres-most-undemocratic-government/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=43873c47-0c1a-446b-bcfd-f34b4399f081
Write
to ‘In These Times’ about their smear job on Cuba “the Western Hemisphere’s
most undemocratic government”
February 4, 2021
------------------------------
<https://chicagoalbasolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/in-these-times.jpg>

*InTheseTimes*, a well-known liberal journal, runs an article in its February
issue <https://inthesetimes.com/magazine/will-biden-end-family-separation>
attacking
Cuba in a tone akin to the Trump government. It refers to the “repression
of the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government,” which they
allege to be Cuba. Not Bolsanaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blind
protesters
<https://www.dw.com/en/hundreds-of-chileans-blinded-by-police-since-protests-began/a-51260524>
, Colombia’s death squad supporting government,
<https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Violence-Threatens-Peace-in-Colombia-United-Nations-Warns-20210122-0004.html>
 Honduras’ coup regime
<https://afgj.org/ten-years-after-the-coup-solidarity-of-the-peoples-of-the-world-with-honduras>
, Haiti’s hated rulers
<https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/haiti>, nor the US
with its murderous police
<https://drive.google.com/file/d/19wATYyqsHatDqvNQSN_41vJfVoFxfFKO/view>,
but Cuba.

The *In *These* Times* article (below) covers, in *Voice of America* style,
the November San Isidro protest in Havana. There, Denis Solis was arrested
for refusing to appear for a subpoena and for threatening a police officer.
The police did not handcuff him, beat him, tase him, pepper spray him, nor
hold a knee on his neck. Solis previously received several fines for
disturbing the peace and two official warnings for harassing tourists. He
accepted the sentence and did not appeal.

Solis, who declares his love for Donald Trump, admitted to receiving money
from a person associated with attacks carried out in Cuba. A group of about
twenty, the San Isidro Movement (MSI), soon organized a short “hunger
strike” to protest his arrest.

Michael Kozak, undersecretary of the US State Department made statements of
support
<https://www.resumen-english.org/2020/12/critical-thinking-trump-and-anti-cuba-terrorism-part-1/>
for
the San Isidro Movement. Timothy Zuñiga-Brown, Chargé d’affaires for the US
Embassy in Cuba visited the group on three occasions and transported some
in his car. They received calls of approval from Secretary of State Pompeo.
Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the discredited OAS, also chimed in to
support the action.

Meanwhile, the US State Department on November 24 quickly announced a new $1
million fund for anti-Cuban government projects
<http://www.cubanews.acn.cu/cuba/11775-foreign-minister-condemns-us-funding-for-subversion-in-cuba>
that
justify allegations of human rights violations in Cuba.

The *InTheseTimes *article makes no mention of these US government ties or
funding to MSI.

Tracey Eaton of Cubamoneyproject.com
<http://cubamoneyproject.com/2020/12/09/democracy-2/> wrote, “An extensive
network of groups financed by the US government sends cash to Cuba to
thousands of ‘democracy activists,’ journalists and dissidents every year.”
The US has spent between $20-$45 million dollars every year since 1996 to
fund Cuban groups with the goal of instituting “regime change” in Cuba.

US Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Endowment for
Democracy (NED) have funded at least 54 Cuba “regime change” projects since
2017, with USAID spending $39 million and NED $11 million.
<http://www.cubanews.acn.cu/cuba/11775-foreign-minister-condemns-us-funding-for-subversion-in-cuba>

Much of this money goes to US government created media platforms to spread
disinformation about Cuban affairs. Hundreds of internet publications have
appeared in Florida since 2017 with “Cuba” as part of their on-line names.
<https://chicagoalbasolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/us-funding-of-anti-cuban-media2.jpg>

Unlike its progressive coverage of movements in the US,* InTheseTimes* has
maintained a rightwing view on Cuba. Yet, Cuba is heralded around the world
for its work in other countries fighting COVID-19. The Henry Reeve
International Medical Brigade, working in 53 countries providing this
medical care, is proposed for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The US government
has taken a number of measures to worsen the blockade on Cuba
<http://en.granma.cu/mundo/2021-01-22/we-are-cuba-viva-the-country-that-insists-on-resisting-and-emerging-victorious>,
and also adding the baseless declaration that Cuba is a sponsor of
international terrorism.

However*, In These Times* does not cover the cruelty of the US blockade,
the exemplary work of Cuban doctors, nor mention the recent documentary The
War on Cuba
<https://remezcla.com/features/film/war-cuba-doc-miniseries-review/>. We
urge all defenders of the sovereignty of Cuba and other Latin American
countries to  write to protest to *InTheseTimes*  at
letters at inthesetimes.com or call 773-772-0100.

* In These Times*: *CUBAN DISSIDENTS LOG ON*

by ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO

In a neighborhood of old Havana, whose name I do not care to remember, a
blogger lived for some time. After years of exclusion, defamation, and
violent, arbitrary arrests, he escaped from the Island of Utopia to the
citadel of capitalism on March 5, 2013. It was me, one of the founders of
Cuban digital dissidence. A text-based (more than an action-based)
movement, we were freelance journalists who hoped to democratize the
ancient revolution, that living fossil from the Cold War.

 I wrote in the December 2009 In These Times special issue, “Inside Cuba,
Voices from the Island”:

Though their work generates controversies and awards worldwide, Cuban
bloggers are largely un­known here. With Internet access in Cuba restricted
to the very few; the nation’s bloggers function as a kind of guerrilla
underground. They work as independent agents whose existence heralds a
civic re-activation that will modulate the Revolution’s Realpolitik­ or is
that Raulpolitik?

In just the past two years, when least expected, that 2009 assessment has
become obsolete: Cu­bans are now allowed to pay in hard currency for slow
(and closely monitored) internet access. But that access was enough for
younger generations to speak up, challenging the guardians of the old
orthodoxy, aware that the world is now their witness in real time.

 An action-based (more than a text-based) collective then began to organize
in a neighborhood of Old Havana, the name of which I do want to recall: San
Isidro. Despite the attacks of the official press (owned by the Communist
Party) and the recent accusations that they are “mercenaries” of Donald
Trump promoting a sort of “soft coup,” the group Movimiento San Isidro
(MSI) has expanded its cultural influence beyond just the eight members
listed on its website to promote freedom of expression in Cuba, among other
things.

Of course, these activists will not topple Castro’s military model. No
American citizen, regardless of their personal views on U.S.-Cuba policy,
should imagine that MSI intellectuals will do (with a couple of mobile
phone recharges from abroad) what Pentagon hawks couldn’t (with billions of
dollars). But in 2020, in response to the Cuban government’s authoritarian
approach to Covid-19, many Cubans joined MSI’s provocative campaigns. The
campaigns were aimed at the heart of Cuba’s drama, which is not the affairs
of its northern neighbor but the frustration with a fundamentally
conservative single-party regime.

Susan Sontag once dismissed Communism as “Fascism with a human face.” In
2009, like a Don Quixote who dreamed the Plaza de la Revolucion was his
windmill, I wrote:

THE STATE HAS NOT YET PASSED SPECIFIC LAWS

against a phenomenon as new as blogging, although the habit of accusing
critical voices of being “capitalism ‘s useful idiots” or “mercenaries of
enemy propaganda” can serve as a brake on free expression…There are also
legal warnings issued for “peligrosidad pre­delictiva,” or” dangerous
inclination toward criminality” that [have] been used to arrest and harass
, but not yet convict.

Today, the Cuban regime ‘s laws are being manipulated to charge the members
of MSI with crimes. On November 11, the rapper Denis Solis was summarily
sentenced to eight months in a maximum-security prison for “contempt.”
Solis first ran afoul of the state after publishing his 2018 protest song ”
Sociedad Condenada” (“Condemned Society”) online. This time Solis called a
policeman who had entered his house without a warrant a “chicken in
uniform,” an encounter he captured on his phone and posted to social media,
for which he was incarcerated.

The government’s treatment of Solis helped spur hundreds of peaceful
protesters to gather outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana on Nov. 27,
2020, all day long until midnight. The campaign, calling itself 27N, came
together to demand respect for independent cultural spaces, as well as a
stop to all censorship and coercion against Cuban citizens. A delegation of
demonstrators was reluctantly received by Vice Minister Fernando Rojas, and
promises were made in exchange for clearing the crowd.

The next day, however, that verbal agreement was broken on national
television by Rojas himself, who ridiculed MSI and threatened to prosecute
its members. The leaders of the Cuban Revolution never directly respond to
public pressure. Instead, they demonize dialogue as a sign of weakness.
Consequently, the harassment has intensified- including the illegal
confinement of MSI members in their homes, who are now detained if they
attempt to step outside.

I am proud knowing that what bloggers tried 10 years ago has been taken up
by MSI. But I also fear that the new generations might be forced to “commit
exile,” as I was. Small “d” democrats have a moral duty to engage.
Otherwise, efforts like MSI and 27N, whose desires defy despotism and whose
poetry challenges power, will collapse under the repression of the Western
Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government.
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