CUBANEWS NOTES FROM LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2004
by Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews list
There's so much going on right now regarding Cuba that
it's simply impossible to keep up with all of the many
developments. Cuba isn't at the center of US politics,
but because of the closeness of the presidential race,
it may well have a larger than previous impact since a
significant tactical division exists between the two
dominant party candidates.
The CubaNews list has lately been experiencing a most
gratifying increase in its subscriptions. We've now
got 614 members on CubaNews, and this material is also
posted to several other lists, from which others pick
up the material and re-place it elsewhere. Thanks very
much to everyone who passes on these messages to their
friends and co-workers.
This coming weekend the Olympic Games will open up in
Greece. While I'm not a big fan of spectator sports, we
know that the games will be a focus of international
attention. The Cuban teams for Athens are expected from
past experience to do very well. I think Cuba gets a far
higher per-capital number of gold medals than any other
reasonably large sized country. What with the US having
been knocked out of competition in baseball, we have
good reason to hope the Cubans will triumph in this so
vital sport for the island's national culture. Cuba's
national media will be broadcasting Olympic games
nearly round the clock. Readers of these messages who
aren't in Cuba will have to suffer through all of the
commercials. Lucky Cubans won't have any commercials to
suffer through. Aren't they lucky? And Cuba's Prensa
Latina news agency has been sending daily bulletins on
Athens which we've been forwarding.
The drought which has caused so much difficulty on the
eastern parts of the island is finally beginning to be
noticed by the international media. There was a great
story by the AP a day or two ago which was basically
straight reporting and which added the important point
that the sense of social solidarity is very much alive
in Cuba, so neighbors all help one another out in times
of crisis. Here in Los Angeles where I live, and I think
in many of the supposedly "advanced" capitalist countries,
neighbors hardly know one another and in times of crisis
an "every individual for themselves" mentality tends to
predominate most of the time.
TRANSLATIONS FOR CUBANEWS LIST: APPRECIATED AND NEEDED
Several readers have recently begun to assist us with the
translation of materials from the Cuban media. I'm very,
very glad that this is happening because there's so much
more being reported in the Cuban media than we normally
get to see on the English-language sites. Cuba is rapidly
and sharply increasing its presence on the internet, but
there's so much more available every day that it's very,
very gratifying to be able to bring you more news and
more information on a wider range of topics. Today we
have a lovely article profile of a young doctor working
out in the rural parts of the island. Havana has 25% of
the island's population, but that means 75% is elsewhere.
I'm sure you'll enjoy this article. Another translated
item is a profile of a young female doctor working out
in rural Cuba, which I'm sure you will also enjoy.
Fashion and style trends as well are definitely represented
in Cuba. Those sharply-pointed high-heel shoes which many
young woman are fond of can certainly be found on the feet
of Cuban woman. Body art forms such as tattooing has become
so prominent that it's been reported in the Cuban national
media and even the international media. A few weeks ago the
Sunday Havana city newspaper TRIBUNA ran a long feature on
this phenomenon, including pictures of some of the arms,
backs and feet where tattoos are being worn. Some of the
doctors interviewed warn the public about the possible
dangers of tattooing, but no one seems to be trying to
stop the practice. Since this list is send out in plain
text, we cannot send you the photographs, and so I've put
the translated article up on a web-page for your reading
enjoyment. I think you'll find it as fascinating as I did.
Read it here: http://www.walterlippmann.com/tattoo.html
Anyone reading this who would be interested in helping us
to bring even more information out from the Cuban media to
a broader international English-language audience should
please contact me off-list and let me know what you might
be able to do. It would be very greatly appreciated as the
recent translations already are appreciated by all.
Occasionally it's necessary to have materials form the
Spanish-language foreign media translated when it relates
to events in Cuba. We have a couple of those for you too.
Not everything which is reported in the foreign media
which is unfavorable toward Cuba is untrue, and the one
we have from the Spanish-language BBC which tells of a
police clampdown on transvestites seems to be authentic
from what I can tell. You'll be able to read these and
judge them for yourselves, of course.
PROPAGANDA OFFENSIVES AGAINST CUBA CONTINUING RELENTLESSLY
Attentive readers will recall an upsurge of writings about
a month ago regarding a music and dance troupe called HAVANA
NIGHTS. With Washington denying visas to perform in the US
for many of the best-known Cuban performing artists, Cuba's
authorities delayed letting one group which was selected by
Washington for approval to come to the United States for a
series of performances in Las Vegas. A big hue and cry was
generated against Cuba in the US media, but now we're not
hearing anything from whose who'd tried to scandalize Cuba
before. Here is one of those reports from last month:
But now the band
HAVANA NIGHTS is performing in Las Vegas, and all of those
who attacked Cuba before for delaying approval for the trip
have lost interest in the group and the issue now that Cuba
granted the group's permission to perform in Las Vegas.
You can actually see and hear a few moments of the group
here, at the website of the place where they are performing:
Washington, the EU and some of the former Eastern European
"dissidents" are continuing their public attacks on Cuba
via the Voice of America and other locations. From time to
time I get angry mail from readers wanting to know why it
is that I send these reports on oppositionists in Cuba to
the list, or when they are sent out, they're not invariably
introduced with something always denouncing the information.
It seems to me that people who are supportive of Cuba's right
to self-determination need to be well informed about what's
being said by those who want Cuba brought back under the heel
of uncle same. It's necessary to see their own arguments in
their own words, the better to respond to them. Readers may
find the following somewhat surprising, but can you imagine
the Cuban government posting on the Cuban Foreign Ministry
(MINREX) website the text of the US government's "executive
summary" of its plan to overthrow the Cuban Revolution?
Here's the Cuban Foreign Ministry website and click on the
US measures button and see this. By posting this, together
with a raft of answers, Cuba is showing its confidence in
being able to defeat these latest US moves against it.
READ THIS: http://www.cubaminrex.cu/English/index.asp
HIP-HOP FESTIVAL IN HAVANA
Despite the blockade, international trends definitely play
an active role in the island's culture. For example, hip-hop
music, which originated in the Black communities of the US,
has spread to Cuba and to the rest of the world. This week
an international hip-hop festival is being held in Havana
and performers from around the world, including from the
US, are participating in this event. I hope we'll receive
some first-hand reports from people attending the festival.
Here's a short report from Prensa Latina on this:
Tenth Havana International Rap Festival to Open this Week
Havana, (PL) More than 50 groups from 15 countries,
including Mexico, the United States, Great Britain,
Argentina and Chile will participate at the 10th Rap
Festival Habana Hip Hop, to take place August 14 through 22
Sponsoring Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) President
Alpidio Alonso stated in press conference Monday that the
tenth Festival arrives "with more maturity and it will be a
moment for revolutionary non-commercial rap to meet."
The festival "will be an opportunity to send a
revolutionary message from Cuba, compromised with the cause
of the poor in the world," he explained.
He recalled that rap in Cuba is an alternative movement
which has paved its way and also has a great presence in
Latin America, and added that "it is not only a genre of
expression with a social message, it is art."
More than 30 groups invited have confirmed their attendance
so far, and 70 groups will perform in the four stages for
the festival, Alonso stated.
The Festival, considered the most important in Cuba and
Latin America, will open August 14 with a great concert in
La Piragua, Havana"s "malecón" (seawall,) where Cubans acts
such as Doble Filo and Anonimo Consejo will share with
Meanwhile, a colloquium where researchers from Brazil,
Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico will take place, as
well as a youth interactive forum (Hip-Hop: cultural
revolutionary resistance movement), acceded from the
website www.cubava.cu/hiphoprevolucion as from Wednesday.
Professor Humberto Alfonso will host a workshop to deal
with sound and oral expression in the artist psychophysics,
while two new issues of the magazine Movimiento, created in
2003, will be released.
A retrospective exhibit on posters of rap and an exhibit on
rap music including films by Spike Lee 8 Mile, starring US
singer Eminem will celebrate the 10 years of the festival.
The Habana Hip-Hop Festival took place for the first time
in June 1995, and it has witnessed excellent performances
by international artist such as Mos Def, The Roots, Wyclef
Jean, Dead Prez, Sound Table Knights and Julio do Reis,
INCREASING IN INTEREST IN CUBA HERE IN THE UNITED STATES
The exhibition of Cuban posters which has been open at the
Track 16 gallery in Santa Monica has been extended, but is
finally going to close this weekend. Last Friday night they
showed two Cuban films, a 2001 feature film NADA MAS, which
deals with worker alienation in Cuba and featured a riotous
off-the charts comic performance by Daysi Granados as the
manager from hell in a Havana post office. You can read a
not terribly enthusiastic review, but get a sense of the
movie here: http://efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7630
Also shown was 79 SPRINGTIMES OF HO CHI MINH, a 1969
Cuban documentary, extremely powerful in black and white:
This coming Friday, as the exhibition draws to a close, you
de Nieve, which premiered last year at the Havana Film Festival:
CUBAN FILM-LOVERS CAN ENTHUSIASTICALLY REJOICE:
Since 1985, lovers of Cuban movies had but one book to rely
on in English for a broad overview, and concise synopses
of Cuban movies: Michael Chanan's THE CUBAN IMAGE. This
indispinsible volume, long out of print, has finally been
updated and radically expanded in a 2004 edition by the
Universithy of Minnesota press as CUBAN CINEMA. I've just
barely begun to scan it, but he's brought the study up to
the end of the twentieth century and everyone who enjoys,
studies and follows Cuban movies will be obliged to get
this new book.
UPSURGE IN ANTI-WAR, ANTI-CORPORATE MOVIES IN THE U.S.
I'm sure we're all familiar with the phenomenal success of
Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11, which has become the most
viewed documentary motion picture on a political them in
the history of the United States. The movie has also been
widely viewed in Cuba and commented on there. Even Cuba's
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada was
called on to introduce the film to Cuban television viewers
last week. Moore has been popular on the island before and
to help build interest, Moore's first film, ROGER & ME was
broadcast a few weeks ago. F9/11 played in 120 venues on
the island and was widely reported in the world media.
Not to be outdone, the ultra-right wing among the Cuban
exile reactionaries in Miami have begun a big campaign to
vilify Micheal Moore. Check out this Miami Herald screed:
These right-wingers constantly wrap themselves in the flag of
supposed patriotism, but it's a phony and dishonest posture
as Michael Moore explained to a protest rally during the
recently-concluded Democratic Party convention in Boston:
Michael Moore's movie is only the best known and most viewed of
the many documentaries. Over the weekend I had a chance to see
several more of these kinds of pictures, including OUTFOXED,
a great expose of the Fox News Network. I don't normally watch
FOX news, but it's an appalling, crude propaganda medium which
you can really understand better through the effective ways
FOX is presented in actual footage. Another similar film is
called ORWELL IS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE, also a critique of the
corporate dominated private capitalist media in the United
States. Perhaps the vest of all these is THE CORPORATION,
also a talking-heads production with powerful graphics as
well depicting the role of the corporation in US life as a
whole. Don't miss this and try to see it in the theater.
Feature films are also taking a powerfully anti-corporation
theme. Two weeks ago I saw THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which is
supposed to be a remake of another film made in 1964, but the
older one had an anti-Communist sensibility while this one
has an anti-corporate sensibility. John Sayles, the only left
personality who has made a successful career directing movies
in Hollywood, and whose work invariably has some timely element
of political relevance is shortly to release SILVER CITY, which
stars Chris Cooper as a George W. Bush type propelled into the
political world by a bunch of wealth private business people.
Their goal is to essentially put their snouts in the trough.
Spike Lee's latest SHE HATE ME, shares this anti-corporate
slant, too. And as Roger Ebert and others have suggested,
it's a bit like two movies in one, but not to worry, excepting
one or two odd and minor plot discrepancy, it's a smooth and
assured work. It adds a Black voice to the elements who are
today speaking out against corporate fraud. The protagonist
is a corporate executive fired when he informs the Securities
and Exchange Commission that his corporation is proceeding to
market a supposed anti-AIDS vaccine which isn't ready to be
released to the public.
The lead character, marvelously played by Anthony Mackie in
his first starring role, is a highly-educated and principled
individual who blows his future in Corporate America when he
blocks the company from committing a massive fraud, finds a
hold has been placed on his bank account and so in order to
survive at the privileged level he'd become accustomed to,
her permits himself to become a sperm donor for his former
wife and a large group of her friends, all high-powered and
professional women, all lesbians, none of whom seem to be
able to find a sperm donor whom they want to use, so they
pay him to provide the sperm in the traditional manner.
Most of the critics pan this as a straight male fantasy,
but none of these many scenes are played for erotic effect.
Indeed, while the movie's first theme is corporate corruption,
it's second theme is the commodification of everything under
the capitalist system. The lead character, testifying at a
congressional hearing, describes himself as a modern-day
Frank Wills, the black security guard who came across the
Watergate burglars. You see Wills as he encounters them in
the act, and one is shown (others you have to know) as a
group of rightist Cuban exiles. Don't miss this movie while
it's still in theatrical release.
Here are two thoughtful reviews of SHE HATE ME:
POLITICAL FILM SOCIETY
CUBA AND U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN POLITICS
For over 45 years, US political discussion on Cuba has
been pretty much a bi-partisan consensus on the need to
overthro the Cuban Revolution. And while the candidates
of the Democratic and Republican Parties retain that as
their goal, something of a disagreement between them has
occurred during this campaign. Bush's platform can be
spelled out in simple terms, in the nearly 500 page
report of the so-called "Commission for Assistance to a
Free Cuba". Kerry's platform can be found on his campaign
website. Both are unremitting opponents of the Revolution
in Cuba, but they differ on some tactical levels.
The Los Angeles Times, published this report from Cuba by
Carol J. Williams, most of whose commentaries on Cuba
have been very negative. Her most recent one wasn't and
the one which preceded it, about the continuing increase
in Cuban agricultural purchases, this in the face of all
the Bush administration is trying to do to prevent Cuba
from having any money to make these purchases. This week
she did a story which filled page three of Monday's
edition: "In Havana, Their Man is John Kerry" available:
"Cuba Will Make Record Purchases of U.S. Foodstuffs"
Cuba's AIN agency published a commentary with the title
"No Illusions in Cuba about the Democrats" available:
Interview with Ricardo Alarcon on the US elections in
which he discusses Bush, Kerry and Ralph Nader here:
Meanwhile Bush backers in Florida are trying to redbait
Kerry over what it claims are ties Kerry's wife has to
Cuba. (She denies any such connections) I guess they
think this makes for better reading in Miami than the
demonstrations protesting the new restrictions on the
rights of Cubans to visit with the their families
In addition to Bush and Kerry, of course, there are
other candidates, of whom we normally hear somewhere
between little and nothing. The most prominent of these
would be Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo. In addition there
is Leonard Peltier, the political prisoner who won the
California Peace and Freedom Party primary and who is
the PFP's candidate. Two smaller and self-described
revolutionary parties are also campaigning. Those are
John Parker and Teresa Gutierrez of the Workers World
Party, and Roger Calero and Arrin Hawkins of the
Socialist Workers Party. I've posted some materials
from each of these candidacies which refer to Cuba in
one or another way. They oppose the blockade directly.
For your information, I personally am registered in the
Peace and Freedom Party, where I voted for Peltier in the
primary election. Peltier, who won't be able to campaign
publicly since he's in jail, hasn't made any statement on
Cuba of which I'm aware, but I've no doubt his positions
on Cuba would be an entirely satisfactory one, considering:
INVITATION TO DISCUSSION
While the US invasion and occupation of Iraq remains today
the largest issue in the politics of the United States, a
range of other issues, including policy toward Cuba, has
begun to play some role in the US presidential election
campaigns. For this reason, I'm inviting list members who
wish to do so to post commentaries on the US elections.
PLEASE NOTE: Since this is the CubaNews list, any such
commentaries MUST focus on the aspects of the election
related to Cuba, or to the stands of the candidates and
parties on Cuba, or how the campaigns relate to Cuba.
There are many other places for general discussion on
US politics as a whole. Since this is the CubaNews list,
discussion will have to focus on how the US presidential
elections relate to US policy toward Cuba. Thanks.
Cuba and its friends are all closely following developments
in this week's recall election in Venezuela. We've send out
a few items, but the Bolivarian process is so significant and
complex that it requires en entire list of its own. I want to
recommend that those who want more information on Venezuela,
the websites venezuelanalysis.com, vheadline.com and that of
the Venezuela Information Office in Washington are providing
the best information I've seen. Finally, if you haven't read
Phillip Agee's TERRORISM AND CIVIL SOCIETY gives a coherent
overview of the range of tactics which the Venezuelan right
and their US backers have been trying to use in their drive
to unseat democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez Frias:
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON, R.I.P.
Cartier-Bresson, one of the greatest photographers of the 20th
century, died last week at the age of 95. Most of the obituaries
said he'd traveled to Cuba, but I couldn't find any images he
took there. As an amateur photographer myself, Cartier-Bresson
was one of the most inspired and inspiring photographers whose
work I ever had the opportunity to view.
BUSH COMING TO LOS ANGELES TOMORROW. COME OUT TO PROTEST:
Bush is Coming to LA: Emergency Protest
Thursday., August 12, 4 pm
Santa Monica Airport
Corner of 31st St. & Ocean Park Blvd
On Thursday, August 12 President Bush will breeze into town
to hold a "Presidential Gala" for his political base:
"The haves and The have-mores" as he smirkingly calls them.
While Bush is partying with his cronies, Iraqis and U.S.
soldiers will continue to die in a war and occupation
fought for oil and the big money corporations. More and
more, people here and all over the world are growing in
their anger and disgust for the suffering caused by the
Pentagons ruthlessness, Wall Streets greed and Bushs
right wing agenda of racism, bigotry and cut backs here at
Let's take it to the streets on August 12 to Demand:
Bring the Troops Home Now!
U.S. Out of Iraq!
End the Occupation!
Stand Against Racism Here and Abroad!
Money for Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Welfare,
Housing; Not for War & Occupation!
DETAILS ON THIS PROTEST TOMORROW: