Archive for the ‘Translator: Lourdes Gonzalez’ Category


The newspaper Granma with Raul Castro’s speech to the National Assembly

By Dagoberto Valdés

The speech of Cuba’s President of the Council of State has been a rosary of bad news for Cuban men and women: “The year 2010 will be difficult and we will continue with the financial restrictions derived from the crisis.”

“They have reduced the retentions of payment by more than a third.”  Nothing more, at the end of a year in which they froze the accounts of foreign companies.

For the other two thirds of those guys there is also bad news: they will honor the commitments to the last cent, but, “in accordance with the abilities of the economy.”  The same one that is collapsing in productivity, efficiency and liquidity.

The solution of replacing imports with national production are only “medium term”; this commonly means between three and five years or more.  Another: the introduction of new taxes, “a tool to which we will have to become accustomed in a short time.”  Medium term for that one, a little time for this one.

“Difficulties and manifestations of favortism in the distribution of lands in usufruct, are also recognized.  They have only been able to distribute 54% of these idle available lands.  The proposal to “reorient the excessive workforce in budgeted and managerial sectors,” is precisely the clearance of these idle lands full of the marabu weed.

“The low level of existing production” and the “issue of employment” will be the priorities of the coming year. This in accompanied by, “in the majority of cases the results have been far from the expectations we hoped for, in the first place because of subjective factors, among them disorganization and the passive resistance of middle management to change their mentality, which we know is more difficult.”  Will it be possible to change this in the coming year or will this be medium or long term?

It appears that significant dates to spend with your family and rest will again be eradicated from the holiday calendar in sectors such as construction, making reference to the sugar harvest: “The pernicious practice of massive time off for the builders on significant dates such as the end of the year, Mother’s Day, July 26th and the carnivals was maintained…”  Do they remember when they abolished Christmas in 1969 for the sugar harvest?

Something good and bad

“To those deputies who had the honesty to express doubts about the velocity and depth of the changes that we have to introduce into the functioning of the economy in order to strengthen our socialist society…”  The president and general expressed textually, “In this sense, I limit myself, for now, to expressing that, in the actualization (sic) of the Cuban economic model… there can be no space for improvisation and hastiness.”

Making it clear that we cannot know everything, that the actualization of the same Cuban model is only an attempt, and with regards to that, what they have tried to do many times in 50 years won’t even be rapid.

With regards to the question of race and gender, he said, “…personally I consider the insufficient advance in this area in 50 years of Revolution to be shameful.”

It is fair to say that, whatever happened in the past, something good is coming: once relations with the United States improve.  However from no source did we hear or read that there was the same intention to improve relationship between different people without the Cuban people itself.

How is it that we can be disposed to normalize relations with historic adversaries and not admit the same dialog with fellow citizens who think and act differently?

Nothing, or almost nothing, in this end-of-year speech feeds hope.  Or perhaps that is all it feeds?

(All the citations were taken from the official version of the speech published in the newspaper Granma, on Monday, December 21, 2009, pp 2, 3 and 4)

Translator: Lourdes Gonzalez


Read Full Post »


by Dagoberto Valdes

In front of Karina’s backyard wall up by the Cuban government against Convivencia on December 15, 2009 I wondered myself what to do after the impact of the early days. I remembered that old saying of the Civic Center and Vitral: 15 minutes to complain and 45 to propose answers.

The avalanche of solidarity has been big. Through my mind pass the first wordless handshakes, pats on the shoulder in the middle of the street with a phrase that says much in Cuba: Dago is not easy, not easy. We begin to get the first calls of the diaspora, journalists who wish to witness first hand, the diplomats accredited in Havana, the neighbor who constantly ask me: but what are they thinking?

I go back to Karina’s backyard. I meditate in front of the wall that is getting filled with roosters, hearts, doves and hands. I put mine on the paint can and paint a sun while I pray for Cuba. Inside the sun shape my open hand and I promise myself not to raise it to the aggressor, not to react to the slanderer with the shadows of hatred, or to the walls with asphyxia.

But this is not just good intentions, something must be done to be worthy of this unearned honor: nothing less than a wall for Convivencia. A wall speaks for itself. What explanation can be given to this double block of zinc and brick with which they meet our noses? One must be blind or complicit: They built a wall in Pinar del Rio. Does anyone need more evidence?

As we always do faced with danger or joy, our group meets. We share the pain of the family, we divide among us the impotence of repression. And soon, Toledo proposed to do what for as long as two years, we have considered and postponed to give priority to the magazine Convivencia: The magazine is only bimonthly. Let’s each write a testimony and publish it with our pictures on the website We did it. We worked through the late night and during a whole intense morning. At 5pm our testimony was posted on the web.

The next day, another meditation, another push. Many people ask us how are we going to respond to this provocation. We all agree that faced with violence, walls and gags, there is only one peaceful and profound response: more peace, more space and voice. Not louder but more frequent voices. Not with offensive voices but with proposing voices. That’s it.

If they want to wall off Convivencia then I think it’s best to weave more coexistence into the space within the walls. Thus, from the crevices of the double wall of Pinar del Rio, emerges a new communal blog to the web. Behold the miracle: walls that give birth from their wombs to more information, more communication, more solidarity, and so this blog will be called INTRAMUROS, within the walls.

I thank those who ordered, implemented and built the two walls: they, also, are responsible for this blog. I thank the Convivencia team to which I belong, specialists in turning crisis into growth, walls into space and gags into voices. I will not be able to thank enough this training that has enable me to gain a foothold in the mystique of the proposals for Cuba and not in the regret and paralysis.

More coexistence, now within walls, is one of the fruits kneaded by the sledgehammer, the block and the steel that have raised a symbol that everyone in the world can understand.

Translated by Lourdes Gonzalez

Read Full Post »