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Reflections on a CubaNews milestone

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  • Walter Lippmann
    Reflections on a CubaNews milestone Message Number 100,000 by Walter Lippmann April 12, 2009 This is a remarkable moment in the history of the CubaNews list.
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 12, 2009
      Reflections on a CubaNews milestone
      Message Number 100,000

      by Walter Lippmann
      April 12, 2009

      This is a remarkable moment in the history of the CubaNews list.

      You're reading message number 100,000. No one had any idea when
      we began this process, a short time after the rescue of a Cuban
      child named Elian Gonzalez, that an electronic news service would
      come out of that successful struggle. That's how it all began not
      quite nine years ago this coming August.

      From time to time it's useful to stop and take a look around
      amid the blizzard of information which is coming out about Cuba
      to sort of take stock and consider a bit what it all means and
      where it's going or could go. Here today are a few thoughts on
      those themes. I invited other subscribers to submit their ideas,
      thoughts, comments and criticisms along with the congratulations
      which I hope and request that you also send in.

      Some of the handful of us who joined together in that struggle
      decided to create a formal news service focusing on Cuba, its
      history, people and culture, and the Cuban Revolution and the
      many consequences which flowed from that. It all began with a
      few dozen subscribers, and we're about to reach 1400 readers in
      a short time. If you're not yet subscribed, please consider now
      a good time to do that. Just write to CubaNews@yahoogroups.com
      and you'll be quickly added to the list. It can be a lot of mail,
      so be aware there's a digest version where the information is
      condensed into normally two packages per day.

      Occasionally I get inquiries from authors looking for their own
      work, long since vanished from the web-pages of the newspapers
      in which they first appeared. Sometimes we can find these among
      the 100,000 items which are in the CubaNews archive. They are
      all available and completely free of any charge whatsoever.

      The purpose of the CubaNews list, as indicated on its home page,
      is to assemble and share information from a wide range of views
      from, about or related to Cuba, its people, culture and politics.
      It aims to be a service to the movement for normalization of US-
      Cuban relations. This is its formal statement of purpose:

      CubaNews is really unique among the services providing information
      about Cuba because it tries to provide such a wide range of news
      and information, political, cultural, athletic and so on. I'm very
      much a supporter of the Cuban Revolution, and at the same time I'm
      convinced that we need to read widely, and not just among sources
      which are themselves supporters of the Cuban revolution.

      Cuba's government and social system came into being at a certain
      time and in a certain way, which marks them. Its leadership has
      succeeded in keeping the country afloat amidst immense challenges
      and against really overwhelming odds. This earns everyone who is
      in favor of Cuba's right to be what it wants to be the gratitude
      and support of all decent human beings.

      At the same time, that doesn't mean they've not made their share
      of mistakes, nor that their system, which works for them, is one
      which ought to be copied anywhere else. Cuba isn't a model of what
      a perfect society is. There is no such thing. Cuba is a model of
      what can be done under very capable leadership in very difficult
      circumstances and with more than a little bit of luck, too.

      Today I'd like to express specific appreciation to some of our
      volunteer translators: Will Reissner of Oregon, Sue Green of
      California and Odilia Galvan Rodriquez of various places (mostly
      Mexico) for their participation in the work. CubaNews makes as a
      specific part of its work providing original English-language
      translations of materials from the Cuban media which the Cubans
      themselves don't translate. Sometimes we also translate material
      from other non-Cuban Spanish-language sources. No other list does
      this as CubaNews does.

      Odilia has agreed to become a moderator of the list, so she'll be
      able to pick up some of the responsibilities when I'm not able to
      do so. Increasingly she will take these often mechanical and at
      times diplomatic tasks on independently.

      We used to complain that there was so little coverage of Cuba and
      that what there was was mostly bad. Now there's so much coverage
      that it's really impossible for one person or any small group of
      people to keep up. And there's an improvement in the quality of
      some of it as well.

      I'm recently returned to Los Angeles after another three months
      on the island. I'm glad to be back here because the conditions -
      the electronic, technological conditions - are far superior to
      the ones on the blockaded island, where virtually all Internet
      access if of the dialup nature. We in the so-called "advanced
      capitalist countries" too-often take for granted the advantages
      we have with "always-on" internet service at what we no longer
      call "high-speed". For most of us DSL or other service is what's
      normal. Most readers of these messages who live outside of Cuba
      have little or no idea any longer what that difference is, but it
      is one we ought to reflect on a bit.

      The campaign for, and the successful election of Barack Obama as
      the first Black president of the United States opens up new and
      important possibilities for an improvement in relations between
      our two countries. Even in the few short weeks he's been at the
      helm, we've seen some changes which augur well for the days and
      years ahead. While I wouldn't have formulated some of his policy
      proposals as he has, I didn't get elected President of the United
      States, either. He's the President and he has to move the stubborn
      US political system into some different directions, if he's going
      to bring about some meaningful change in US-Cuban relationships.

      By the way, if you haven't had a chance to listen to, watch, or
      read President Obama's weekly broadcast message yesterday, it's
      one worth spending a few moments with. Toward the end he says:

      "With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past
      one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent
      us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t
      afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find
      – and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when
      people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that
      mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins."


      or alternatively: http://tinyurl.com/d6k936
      Walter (continuing):

      As is perhaps not as well known as it should be, there already
      are a number of ways in which the Cuban and US authorities have
      been and are cooperating. It looks like it will be possible that
      these areas can be built on and expanded. There are no guarantees
      in life, but let's look at this new situation hopefully, and see
      what comes next. I'm personally optimistic, though not about the
      full lifting of the US blockade of the island. As Hugo Chavez
      would put it, "por ahora".

      Here's just one example of such cooperation:

      WSJ: Not Everyone at Guantanamo is a Terrorist

      On the other hand, US government policy continues to provide a
      range of special rights, special privileges and special advantates
      to Cuban immigrants, which are denied to anyone else from anywhere
      else. These flow from the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1962, a little-
      known piece of legislation which you ought to know more about.

      WSJ: US refuge to Cubans, even if not from Cuba

      The visit last week of members of the Congressional Black Caucus,
      some of whom met with President Raul Castro, and some of whom met
      with Fidel Castro, received far more attention in the US media
      than at any previous time. And some of them have met with Cuba's
      leadership in the past. Little attention was paid to their visits
      before. But now that there's a Black president in the US, things
      are beginning to change.

      Obama has announced a lifting, albeit temporary and not at his
      initiative, of some of the travel restrictions imposed on Cuban-
      Americans by George W. Bush in 2004. All people from the United
      States ought to be free to go to Cuba, but this is a positive
      step. I'm confident Obama will also allow Cuban-Americans to be
      able to send more financial assistance to their families who are
      still living on the island. That's also a good thing, I believe.

      The Obama administration has raised the profile of the criminal
      terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for the killing of
      73 passengers in the 1976 Cubana airliner bombing over Barbados.
      Posada remains free on bail - would Osama bin Laden still be out
      on bail if he were caught? - But at least the issue of terrorism
      and Posada's links to it are now higher on the US government's
      formal agenda.

      A few days ago, as Fidel Castro pointed out in his Reflection out
      today, Venezuelan President Chavez flew back from his travels to
      China and elsewhere in a Cubana de Aviacion plane. With permission
      from the United States, that plane flew over U.S. territory.

      A few days before that, US law enforcement officials captured a
      group of Venezuelan drug traffickers, and RETURN THEM TO THE
      VENEZUELAN authorities. Venezuela thanked the United States for
      doing the right thing. This is the kind of development which
      points in the direction of Washington's need to respond to the
      request by Venezuela for the extradition of Posada Carriles.

      Take the time, if you haven't read it, to review the essay by
      attorney José Pertierra, "Gesture for Gesture" which provides
      a meaningful framework for the understanding of what seems to be
      going on as these lines are written, and in the run-up as well to
      the Summit of the Americas this coming weekend in Trindad.

      GESTURE FOR GESTURE: (English)

      GESTURE FOR GESTURE: (Spanish)

      Fidel Castro on his meeting
      with the Congressional Black Caucus

      What Cubans expect from Obama

      Fidel Castro on Obama:
      The Empire's Hypocritical Politics

      There's been a small chorus of people, who've become somewhat
      more shrill since Obama's inauguration. They campaigned against
      him as "leftist revolutionaries" during the campaign, and now
      that he's in office, they're bound and determined to find each
      and every fault in his behavior, whether real or imagined.

      Some of these voices insisted he couldn't get the nomination, and
      then that he couldn't win. Now that he's won and been installed
      into office, these voices claim there's no essential difference
      between Obama and his predecessors. It seems these people worry
      that any reduction in tensions between the United States and
      Cuba is a threat to Cuba in some manner. They seem to think it
      would be better if Cuba remained isolated from the United States.
      "Better poor but pure" is the logic of such misguided thinking."

      A new book has just come out which I'd like to recommend to all.
      I just got it yesterday, but already I'm very enthusiastic about
      it. Published by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel
      Hill, it's THAT INFERNAL LITTLE CUBAN REPUBLIC: The United States
      and the Cuban Revolution by Lars Schoultz. When I pull myself away
      from the computer, I've got my nose buried in this 745pp book.

      There's a major academic conference on Cuba to be held May 7-9
      at Queeens University, Kingston, Ontario. I'm going to attend and
      hope to meet new and prospective readers at that event. Details:


      The Measure of a Revolution: Cuba, 1959-2009

      May 7-9 2009

      Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario CANADA

      The Cuban Revolution was one of the most important hemispheric events
      of the twentieth century, with both a regional and a global impact;
      and the country had to re-imagine itself. The conference, "The Measure
      of a Revolution: Cuba, 1959-2009", will assess the Cuban Revolution on
      its 50th Anniversary through a variety of lenses: international
      relations, culture, gender, the economy, environment, sexuality,
      politics, migration, race, education, health and religion. The
      Conference provides a superb opportunity to encourage critical thought
      on the Revolution, what it has and has not accomplished, and on its
      future prospects. This forum is important in that it will bring
      together scholars from different disciplines, as well as writers,
      artists, film makers and government officials – past and incumbent –
      to present and debate issues arising from the subjects of their expertise.

      CubaNews is doing what it can to keep up with the immense flow of
      information. We're also looking to ways to improve the services
      we're providing, and hoping to find more and more ways to reach
      more and more people. Your comments, criticisms and suggestions
      can prove helpful. Your participation in joining in the work and
      helping us to improve its quantity, quality and effectiveness are
      very much welcomed. Blogging? Sound files? Videos?

      While I do most of the work to produce this list, if would only
      be improved if more of the responsibility were shared with more
      people. I'm sure we could reach many, many more people. So if you
      can and are willing, there is translation work, promotional work,
      and all sorts of additional work which you can take up if you've
      the time, energy and determination. I don't have all the answers,
      and, as I've taken to adding, I don't even have all the questions.

      Most of the expenses for the work of producing CubaNews has been
      my personal responsibility. Sometimes some people have provided
      some practical assistance in terms of money, or "effectivo" as
      it's known in Spanish. Those of you who wish to help cover the
      costs of this work (I collect no salary, but I do work eight days
      a weeks), can make US tax-deductible contribution through the
      DISARM EDUCATION FUND. You know them. They're the nice people from
      whom you receive periodic fund-raising appeals signed by Ed Asner.

      The DISARM EDUCATION FUND has adopted CubaNews as a project now.
      You can give money through them, immediately online, at this
      location. There's a drop-down menu and the last entry is simply
      Walter Lippmann - CubaNews. Fill in your credit card details and
      help cover the costs of this work.

      DO IT NOW:


      If you're subscribed to CubaNews, hit "reply" and make any comment.
      If you're NOT subscribed, hit "reply" and the comment will come to
      me and I'll post them to the list myself.

      Thanks for your attention.

      Walter Lippmann
      Los Angeles, California

      Los Angeles, California
      Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
      "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"
    • Odilia Galvan Rodriguez
      Saludos y Felizidades Walter! First I want to take the opportunity to thank you for all the incredible work you do, all the countless hours you put in not only
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 13, 2009
        Saludos y Felizidades Walter!

        First I want to take the opportunity to thank you for all the incredible work you do, all the countless hours you put in not only physically at the computer, reading, editing, translating etc. but also for doing your best thinking about how to improve on Cuba News which is an important resource for those of us who support Cuban Independence. As you stated, it is important to have well rounded knowledge of the issues in order to intelligently support Cuba's sovereignty.

        The first article I ever translated about Cuba, for Tricontinental Magazine in late 1999, was one Fidel Castro wrote about China. I can tell you I was very nervous, not only because these were Fidel Castro's words but also my translations skills were not at all honed. I attended school in the US in English and therefore my level of Spanish was by no means university level. What I remember most about that article was Fidel speaking of a unipolar world view and how this was problematic.

        I was attracted to Cuba News and helping out where I could because I believe that one of the most important things we can do, especially for young people on this planet, is to act as resource people in assisting them to become critical thinkers: to carefully, and deliberately determine whether one should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim and the degree of confidence with which one accepts or rejects that claim. To purposefully use reflective judgment about what to believe or what to do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments. This is not something one is taught in most, if not the majority, of junior high and high schools in the United States - we are taught to believe what the text books say and by extension what the U.S. media says about a particular situation facing the world and its peoples. Cuba News is another resource in the battle of teaching people to think for themselves and to question and to put forth their own ideas about Cuba and not just accept most drivel that is spewed forth by the corporate media.

        As you also state, in the past few years there has been a greater opening up of alternative news sources not only about Cuba but for Latin America as a whole - I thank the internet for that - the best invention ever lol! Latin America, as we all know is experiencing exciting and at the same time extremely challenging changes. If we only hear or read what is offered in the mainstream news sources we would be hard pressed to believe that Hugo Chavez, for example, is anything but a self absorbed tyrant on a mission to export socialism. (I am talking about what my 75 year old mother said to me while giving her impressions of him from watching the news. Who at the same time said she knows from "reading between the lines" of those "stories" that he is doing "good" for poor people of whom, she, having come up as a farm laborer in the U.S., is always in favor of.

        So Walter, all that to say, that in my campaign for critical thinking, and my support for Cuba and the Cuban people, I became part of the Cuba News Team to put my little grain of sand towards that endeavor and to support you mi amigo who has done a marvelous job of pulling this off mostly on your own.

        Here's hoping more good people will join the team! Ashe!

        --- In CubaNews@yahoogroups.com, Walter Lippmann <walterlx@...> wrote:
        > Reflections on a CubaNews milestone
        > Message Number 100,000
        > by Walter Lippmann
        > April 12, 2009
        > This is a remarkable moment in the history of the CubaNews list.
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