Friday, March 02, 2007

Black Pride by Tego Calderon


February 15, 2007 -- Just this morning, I was listening to radio host
Luisito Vigeroux talking about a movie project that I am working on
which co-stars Mayra Santos Febres and he was saying, "Her? She's
starring in it?"
Questioning her Black beauty.

I remember, too, when Celia Cruz died, a newscaster, thinking she was
being smart, said Celia Cruz wasn't black, she was Cuban. She was
pretty even though she's black.

As if there is something wrong with being black, like the two things
can't exist simultaneously and be a majestic thing. There is ignorance
and stupidity in Puerto Rico and Latin America when it comes to

In Puerto Rico, Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" was only shown in one theater
and unlike all the other movies shown here, there were no subtitles.
It's as if they don't want the masses to learn.

But it's not just here - in Puerto Rico - where I experience racism.
When I lived in Miami, I was often treated like a second class
Boricua. I felt like I was in the middle - Latino kids did not embrace
me and African American kids were confused because here I was a black
boy who spoke Spanish. But after a while, I felt more embraced by
black Americans - as a brother who happens to speak Spanish - than
other Latino kids did.

Because I am well known, sometimes I forget the racist ways of the
world. But then I travel to places where no one knows Tego Calderón I
am reminded.

For instance, when I travel first class, the stewardess will say,
"Sir, this is first class," and ask to see ticket. I take my time, put
my bags in the overhead, sit, and gingerly give them my ticket,
smiling at them. I try not to get stressed anymore, let them stress

And the thing is that many white Puerto Ricans and Latinos don't get
it. They are immune to the subtle ways in which we are demeaned,
disrespected. They have white privilege. And I've heard it said that
we are on the defensive about race.

Those things happen and it's not because of color, Tego, but because
of how you look, how you walk, what you wear, what credit card you
have. Then, they spend a couple of days with me, sort of walk in my
shoes, and say "Damn negro, you are right."

When I check into hotels and use my American Express they call the
credit card company in front of me saying the machine is broken. This
happens a lot in U.S. cities but it's not because there is more racism
there, it's because they don't know me. When I'm in Latin America, I
am known, so it's different. That is not to say that there is less
racism. The reality for blacks in Latin America is severe, in
Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Honduras ...

Puerto Rican (and Latin American) blacks are confused because we grow
up side by side with non-blacks and we are lulled into believing that
things are the same. But we are treated differently.

My parents always celebrated our history. My dad always pointed things
out to me. He even left the PIP (Pro-Independence Party) because he
always said that los negros and our struggle was never acknowledged.

Maelo (Ismael Rivera) and Tite Curet did their part in educating and
calling out the issues. Today, I do my part but I attack the subject
of racism directly.

It makes me so happy to see Don Omar call himself el negro and La
Sister celebrate her blackness. Now it's in fashion to be black and to
be from Loiza. And that is awesome, it makes me so happy. Even if they
don't give me credit for starting the pride movement, I know what I
did to get it out there.

Young black Latinos have to learn their story. We also need to start
our own media, and forums and universities. We are treated like second
class citizens. They tell blacks in Latin America that we are better
off than U.S. blacks or Africans and that we have it better here, but
it's a false sense of being. Because here, it's worse.

We are definitely treated like second class citizens and we are not
part of the government or institutions. Take for instance, Jamaica -
whites control a Black country.

They have raised us to be ashamed of our blackness. It's in the
language too. Take the word denigrate - denigrar - which is to be less
than a negro.

In Puerto Rico you get used it and don't see it everyday. It takes a
visitor to point out that all the dark skin sisters and brothers are
in the service industry.

It's hard in Puerto Rico. There was this Spaniard woman in the
elevator of the building where I lived who asked me if I lived there.
And poor thing - not only is there one black brother living in the
penthouse, but also in the other, lives Tito Trinidad. It gets
interesting when we both have our tribes over.

Black Latinos are not respected in Latin America and we will have to
get it by defending our rights, much like African Americans struggled
in the U.S.

It's hard to find information about our people and history but just
like kids research the newest Nintendo game or CD they have to take
interest in their story. Be hungry for it.

We need to educate people close to us. I do it one person at a time
when language is used and I am offended by it. Sometimes you educate
with tenderness, as in the case of my wife, who is not black.

She's learned a lot and is offended when she sees injustices. She gets
it. Our children are mixed, but they understand that they are black
and what that means. My wife has taught her parents, and siblings, and
they, in turn, educate the nephews and nieces. That is how everyone

This is not about rejecting whiteness rather; it's about learning to
love our blackness - to love ourselves. We have to say basta ya, it's
enough, and find a way to love our blackness. They have confused us -
and taught us to hate each other - to self-hate and create divisions
on shades and features.

Remember that during slavery, they took the light blacks to work the
home, and left the dark ones to work the fields. There is a lot
residue of self-hatred.

And each of us has to put a grain in the sand to make it into a
movement where we get respect, where we can celebrate our blackness
without shame.

It will be difficult but not impossible.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oleguer Sparks Debate Over Political Position

The Catalan futbolista Oleguer Presas Renom, known simply as Oleguer, has sparked debate and including the loss of one of his sponsers for his outspoken political views. Oleguer is a starting defender for one of the world's top club teams, FC Barcelona. FC Barcelona is also a Catalan team which remains as a symbol of nationalist and seperatist pride for all Catalonians, which ever their political position might be.

Oleguer, supporter of the EZLN ("Zapatistas")
movement in southern Mexico.

Oleguer wrote an article that was published in a Basque magazine, Berria, criticizing Spain's Estado de Derecho (Rights of the State) which he feels violates autonomy rights. He condemned the imprisonment of the etarra Iñaki de Juana Chaos (member of ETA), who begun a hunger strike upon his recent arrest. De Juana had served a 12 year sentence for taking part in placing a bomb in a Spanish military barrack and armed confrontation with Spanish troops. ETA, an armed-political organization, which stands for "Basque Homeland and Freedom" is outlawed in Spain. De Juana was arrested recently for writting an article criticizing the Estado de Drecho and also questioning the political autonomy of the judicial power.

Pero Salva es un "caca de perro"...
But Salva is a "piece of dog shit"...
After Oleguer's article was published, Salva Bellasta, the forward for the Spanish team Levante said in regards to Oleguer, "I have more respect for a piece of dog turd." If Salva believes that the state has the right to arrest an individual for writting a political opinion, then he is the only "caca de perro". By no means has Oleguer ever supported any of the armed attacks in which ETA has openly taken credit for. But he is taking a position that he feels is connected to his own views of Catalonia independence. The Spanish courts gave De Juana a 12 year prison sentence for something he wrote. The court recently reduced that sentence to 3 years after much protest. Even thoush the Spanish press said the sentence was reduced due to bomb threats--but fails to mention the marches in the streets.

After Oleguer made his opinion public, one of him sponsors, Kelme, broke his contract. Oleguer was shortly after seen practicing at Camp Nou with soccer cleats that which he painted over the sponsors name with a marker. At the same time, Catalonian fans that admire his pro-independence stance, have come out in support, including calling a boycott on Kelme. Another Spanish sports brand, Munich, has mentioned interest in sponsoring "el jugador catalan".

Oleguer is also an open supporter of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, and took part in a soccer-fundraising tournament. He also is oppossed to Spain's involvment in the Iraq war. All these views were made public after the release of his biographical book
Camí d'Itaca (Roade to Itaca).

ETA, Batasuna and the Basque Independence Movement
Upon his arrest, De Juana began a hunger strike that led him to his near death. The Basque people have held protests condemning his arrest. While the majority of Basques do not support terror as a tactic for independence, they hold their right of seperatist views. Most people know very little of the Basque movement for independence and only hear about it when ETA commits a violent act.

In 2002, the Spanish courts passed a bill entitled the Ley de Partidos Políticos (Law of Political Parties) in which bars political parties which may be based on a "hatred ideology" or which refuse to condemn political violence. This meant that the Basque independence party, Batasuna, was outlawed because of the their open support of independence. Batasuna is not ETA, like Sinn Féin is not the IRA.
Did you know or repeated what you where told?
Did you know that there are hundreds of Basque political prisoners? They are in jail for a range of reasons. Did you know that the Basque language has no connection to any other? It is actually rather strange (that is that there is no connection to Spanish or French). Did you know the Basque, as well as Catalonians, have been severly repressed throughout Spanish history, including that speaking their language was outlawed? Before you get into a deep political discussion with someone condeming Basque independence, or saying they are silly, ask yourself: What do you really know?

"For Peace and Dialogue" was the slogan that unified this march. Thousand of Basque marched through Bilboa, Basque in November 2006 opposing act by ETA of placing a bomb in a Spanish airport that led to death of Ecuadorian workers. At the same time, hundreds of family members of political prisoners, demand their release.

For other news regarding soccer and politics read article on Samuel Eto'o.
Also the blog Fútbol Intelectual.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Fernando Botero Immortalizes What Is Not Discussed

I had the wonderful opportunity to see one of Latin America’s most gifted painters at UC Berkeley. The Center for Latin American Studies organized for the poet Robert Haas to interview Mr. Botero in front of an audience. An eager and excited audience, I must add. I had some girlfriends that drove up from Fresno early for the event. Since they were holding onto two tickets for a friend and I, we ran across several hundred people waiting outside. After the chat, Botero opened the exposition of his new collection of Abu-Ghraib paintings at Doe Library in UC Berkeley.

Young And Wild And Inspired…
Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1932. Like many young men and women who discover a passion, they follow where their inspiration leads them. Through his journey in doing what he loved to then acquiring world recognition, he has never forgotten he is human, but with a particular talent. He expressed how honored he feels that replicas of his paintings are found in the homes of working people in Colombia and is proud that he is a symbol of pride for his people.

As a teenager, he was inspired by the Mexican Muralist Movement like Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orosco, that led him to travel to Mexico. Botero said what moved him is that traditionally painters catered to wealthy and the church. The Mexican Movement rebelled against the traditional and used the working man as their subject. They also represented a sense of national pride for their culture and their history.

Why This?
“Why choose this as a subject”, asked Robert Hass. Botero answered, “Yes, many people have asked me this.” Botero went on to explain that he has received a lot of criticism from the press and others for choosing the tortures at Abu Ghraib as his subject. He said that when the pictures were released, they consumed him and immediately began sketching, and then painting non-stop for 14 months. What moved him was that the pictures depicted brutal acts by a military occupying a country that claimed to be fighting for “freedom and democracy”. It is not the first time that he has chosen a political issue as a subject. What makes it political is that it is controversial, because from an artists' point of view it is just being conscious of their surroundings.

In the 1960s he did a series depicting the brutal dictatorships that began to sweep Latin America. In the 1980s he did a collection about the civil war in homeland, Colombia. He donated his paintings that are of an estimated value of $2.2 million dollars to the National Colombian Museum. Botero explained why he donated these paintings by saying, “I hope when the youth of Colombia walk through and see these paintings, they realize how ridiculous is the brutality taking place. Or better yet, that they are amazed that this took place in our country.”

Is This A Free Country Or Censored One?
When Botero finalized his collection close to two years ago, he began looking for public and private galleries to display them. While he had no problem in many countries, he was rejected by multiple institutions across the United States. A small private gallery in New York City had them there for a month. UC Berkeley is the first institution that will have the Abu-Ghraib paintings up that coincided with a talk with the artist and university program connected with it.

It is interesting that no major gallery in New York City grabbed the opportunity to display the latest work of one of the greatest living artists. Whether controversial or not--is it not his artistic freedom and the viewers freedom to make that choice. A few years ago, a debate took place in New York City when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attempted to censor the work of an artist at the Brooklyn Museum. The Museum put up a fight and New York City went up in a roar defending the First Amendment.

So guess criticizing various Gods and religious ideas is okay, but you cannot criticize the acts of the great U.S. of A.

I salute Botero and every artist, whether a singer, painter or street performer who uses their work to give a message.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Permanent Accusation

A Permanent Accusation

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hurray! Pinochet is dead: “Murio el perro, y tengo el derecho en celebrar por un día.”

"The dog died and I have the right to celebrate for a day."

Si, si, si. Yo se. I know. A Chilean is the last person that you have to say that you wish the bastard Pinochet would of served time in jail or that there was some kind of justice. “Justice”?

Yes, yes, yes. You don’t have to say it twice. There are few Chileans given the opportunity of a gun and Pinochet as their target who would not shoot. Would that be justice? There is no act or amount of money or jail time that will ever amount to “justice” for who and what was lost.

Many of the atrocities that you heard about are terrible stories. But never the less, they are stories. You might say those of us born later, that what we feel is empathy for stories told to us. But they aren’t. It is much more than that. It is part of our family history.

When my grandma, Ti, told me her story I could see her. I could see her, grandpa and my uncle (young at the time) marching among millions showing their support for the Popular Unity (Unidad Popular) government headed by Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens. I can see my aunt as a teenager driving around our neighborhood in Santiago with her friends collecting food for the local ‘soup kitchen’ that feed the poor. It is as though I could feel their joy during those exhilarating years, just as I could feel their pain when it ended.

I use the word pain in passing because it is much more than that. I can see Ti led outside by the noise of airplanes that early morning on September 11, 1973. As she looked up into the sky and watched planes headed to bomb La Moneda, she felt her soul tearing apart. Her dreams, like those of factory workers, farm workers, peasants, teachers and housewives, like her, could feel the foundation of what they had been building being broken apart by a big hammer.

Why? ¿Porque? Why couldn’t they make the choice to live with dignity and have bread on their table? Why couldn’t those who toiled and created the wealth of Chile have a say.

The terror that followed was to break the spirits of the working-class masses and to halt any attempt to organize resistance. Ti told me she avoided seeing La Moneda for weeks, but one day she took a bus that had to take another route and drove in front of the presidential palace. As they approached, the usually noisy Chilean bus went silent. She said that seeing the palace bombed was unbearable and she arrived home crying. She couldn’t even tell my grandpa what she had seen for several days, because repeating it just brought the images back.

I could also tell you in detail when the military searched our home. I could tell you the steps they took through our property and the agony as grandma passed by uncle, 6 years old at the time, to our neighbors, in case they were all arrested. What about the many stories of the many forced to burn their books because of their ideas. My older uncle, Tio Raul, never left Chile because of his nationalist ideas. He joined the Communist Party as a teenager and was a union leader in one of the largest factories in Santiago, Siam Detela. He was in hiding for two years and after lived in constant terror that any day or at any time he might hear that knock on the door. He like many others, heard those knocks at their neighbors homes, and heard gun fire, screams and cries.

Yes, I drank champagne the day the SOB general died. I drank like many drank; not just to celebrate, but it was something more. The morning that the planes flew overhead, those in favor of the coming dictatorship went out into the streets with glasses and champagne bottles to celebrate. We unfortunately had the one family on the block that welcomed this bloodshed renting from one of our homes. So, in response, now we drink. We drink with the sweet thoughts that Pinochet died knowing holding the post of President of Chile is a woman, single mother, member of the Socialist Party who was imprisoned by him and who’s father was killed by his government.

But they are many still out there. Some criminals that took part in the 17 year dictatorship are presently in jail and others awaiting trial. They are also criminals that will never be tried. For example, George Bush Sr. who was then head of the CIA or Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State) or Richard Nixon (President). The U.S. government has their blood tainted in their part for what took place that became clear when the CIA files were declassified.

The best way to learn about what lead to the coup d'etat is watching the documentary "Battle of Chile".

Batalla de Chile (Part 1)
Batalla de Chile (Part 2)
Batalla de Chile (Part 3) *best one

The important thing that it will never be forgotten, and it is clear that it won't.

Poster made in May 1973 in Chile.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

07 Víctor Jara - Habla de La Nueva Canción

Friday, September 29, 2006

Argentine Women Continue to March for Choice!!!

September 28: The Day to Decriminalize Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean

Across major cities in Argentina from Buenos Aires to Neuquen to Cordoba and La Plata, women marched to make their voices heard. The slogan contines to be, "Contraceptives to not have to abort! Abortion legalized so we don't die!" The movement to legalize abortion in Argentina has grown, as the economic pressures continued to spiral down. At the same time, women have become more confident and the women's movement which grew from women involved in the unemployed movement, has transfered to working women, professionals and college students.

The yearly Women's Conference has also seen a large increase in participation.
The first women's conference took place in 1980 with 1,000 women present. In last year's conference in 2005 in the city of Mar de Plata, some 30,000 women participated.

A couple thousand women marched with green handkerchiefs around their necks through the streets of Buenos Aires with a large green banner that covered the width of the street which read: “Not One More Death Due to Illegal Abortion!” The color green has become the color of movement to show you are pro-choice.

This year’s XXI Women’s Conference is planned to take place in the city of San Salvador in the northern province of Jujuy from October 14-16, with a sizeable turnout expected. The first women's conference took place in 1980 with 1,000 women present. Last year's conference in 2005 in the city of Mar de Plata, some 30,000 women participated. The 2003 conference launched the “Campaign for Legal and Safe Abortion” which lead to a petitioning campaign across the country. Soon after last year’s conference thousands of women and men marched to the Congress to hand over 100,000 signatures in support of the campaign. This year’s conference will discuss the next steps in the campaign and workshops on a number of topics from equality on the job to the rights of battered women and the struggle to liberate Romina Tejerina.

Freedom for Romina
The demand to free Romina Tejerina has also been backed by a number of women’s rights organizations across Argentina. Tejerina, 22, was raped when she was 18 by a
neighbor. She became pregnant and attempted a self-induced abortion, which was unsuccessful. She later gave birth to the child in her bathroom and drowned it. Soon afterwards, she was arrested was held in jail for a year and a half without charges. She wasn’t provided with any psychological therapy for the first nine months of imprisonment. She was then faced a public trial and then sentenced to 14 years in prison. The man she has accused of raping her remains free. Numerous marches have taken place in her support. A famous Argentine musician, Leon Gieco, has also showed public support for her case, including writing a song about her called Santa Tejerina. Tejerina is currently serving time in prison in San Salvador, Jujuy which is part of the reason the conference is taking place there.

Facts and Pressures
In Argentina, abortion is illegal and punishable by time in prison. A court may allow abortion only in the case of rape or if a woman’s life is in danger. On September 27, the day before the march, Buenos Aires’ Health Minister announced that in cases that abortion is not punishable by law, there is no need for the individual or doctors to seek judicial permission. The morning after pill, which was legalized a few years ago, “is now available on demand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year” said Margarita Berkenwald, director of the program for Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation. These are both examples of decisions that come out of the pressure from the women’s movement. At the same time, the government remains quiet to answer the signatures of 100,000 to legalize abortion.

Nonetheless, it is estimated that in Argentina about 4 out of 10 pregnancies are terminated by abortion. According to the country’s health ministry, as many as 500,000 Argentine women have abortions every year. The top cause of maternal death in the country—about 80 percent of such deaths—is complications from abortion. In the last half-decade, hospital admissions from botched abortions have risen substantially in a number of provinces. About 500 women die from such abortions every year, and 16,000 women suffer serious permanent physical damage, according to Gines González García, Argentina’s health minister. Abortion is legal in three countries in South America: Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guyana.

Left: Pro-choice march in Chile (2004)
Right: Pro-choice rally in Uruguay (2004)

Learn about the fight to legalize abortion in:
Chile/Uruguay - Colombia

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Chilean Copper Miners Win 25-Day Strike!

Chilean copper miners at Escondida, members of the oldest trade union in this Andean nation have won a contract that makes them the best paid miners in Latin America. They won a 5% wage increase, plus a $17,000 (USD) one-time bonus. They voted on a 40-month contract (3 years, 4 months). The wage gap has largely increased between Escondida miners and other mines, that will put into question what others miners will do. The class struggle never stops, and this is a victory for all Latin Americans!!

August 7, 2006: Over 2,000 miners and supporters marched to and around Escondida mine.

Miners block roads and entrances to the mine, and explain they demand overdue wage increase due to the large profits BHP-Billiton are making.

Thousands camped around the mine to defend from possible strikebreakers.
After 25-days, the Copper Miners Celebrate!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cuba Beyond Fidel: Youth in Defense of Socialism

"In 1959 Cuba became free and sovereign for the first time in its history"
-Kenia Serrano, member of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba while speaking in Miami University.

Felipe Perez Roque born in 1965, is Cuba’s foreign minister. At his appointment in 1999, he was not only the youngest member of the Cuban cabinet but also the only to be born after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Pérez Roque was formerly an electronics engineer and leader of Federation of University Students (FEU) and of the Union of Young Communists (UJC) that included participating in several international youth conferences. He functioned as part of Fidel Castro’s personal cabinet for several years. He is Cuba’s UN representative and has given a series of well-known speeches against U.S policies from the war in Iraq to the blockade against Cuba.
Biography | Speeches | CBC Article "After Castro

Otto Rivero Torres, in his mid-30s, came from a working-class family in Villa Clara. He was president of FEU while also a member of the Union of Young Communists (UJC). He graduated as an engineer with a focus on transportation. Rivero was the National Secretary of the UJC for many years. He now heads up the Battle of Ideas for the UJC and holds posts in the Communist Party of Cuba. His post in the UJC was taken over by Julio Martinez.

Kenia Serrano was born in Holguin province, Cuba in 1973. While studying for a degree in foreign language teaching she joined the University Students Federation (FEU) and was one of their representatives in the Cuban parliament. By 1994 Kenia was responsible for the International Relations of the FEU at a national level. In 1995, Serano was part of a U.S. speaking tour of which she visited 47 universities in 13 states and 28 cities.

By 1998 she had become a member of the National Committee of UJC and two years later was invited onto the political leadership of the National Bureau. She joined the Communist Party in July 2000. She has traveled widely, participating in a variety of international youth events around the Caribbean and Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is now in charge of International Relations for UJC.
Article Speaking at Miami University

Hassan Perez in his early 30s, became known as a university student in Havana. He was president of FEU until his graduation. He has participated in many youth conferences around the world in explaining and defending the gains of Cuba’s socialist revolution. He has spoken at the UN along side Cuba’s Foreign Minister Perez Roque. He now holds the post as Second Secretary of the UJC and is a member of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Speech at UN

Cuban youth take part in social work during summer
Fidel speaks with U.S. youth
Youth Graduate from Medical School in Cuba
National Bureau of UJC

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What if Fidel dies?

What if? It is the most asked question to Cubans for many years now. The Cuban-Americans who live in Miami have said long ago that they long for that day. Their argument is that when Fidel passes, the Cuban people will be liberated and will greet with open arms capitalism and all those who left. Those who have left have done so for different reasons, but there is one particular group that is widely heard over the U.S. media. Those are the majority landlords and professionals who left Cuba once proclaimed socialist.

There is a Cuban reality that most people do not understand. If your information comes souly from the U.S. news networks and stories repeated from counterrevolutionaries, then you will have the opinion that Fidel is a tyrant and the Cuban people live in fear and backwardness. Some individuals retain that opinion even after traveling to Cuba. I remember particularly two young college students from Ohio whom I traveled with during 3rd U.S.-Cuba Youth Exchange. They were young vegans that when they told the waiter, “I don’t eat meat”, they were given rice that had been cooked with pork juice and served with chicken. They would then tell the waiter I don’t eat anything made from animals and they got a plate of rice and fish. After that encounter, they received a big salad with green beans and hardboiled eggs. They then were shocked to see houses that have not been painted and the appearance of the people according to U.S. standards were poor. They encountered missing toilet seats and school children asking tourists for pens, notebooks or gum. I advised them to pick a country in Latin America and see how the poor people live there. You will encounter children that don’t go to school and work. You will see homes made of wood with dirt floors and no running water—forget even a toilet. When a hurricane passes maybe one person will die in Cuba, while several thousands die in Haiti or Honduras due to mudslides. Why is that? I also told them that they need to get over their strict diet because in the Latino culture it is rude to not eat food that is given to you whether you like it or not. You eat what you have.

To return to the subject on hand: What will happen? Well, I’ve heard that question asked many times to Cubans touring the U.S. and also while I was in the island. The answer was always similar and which is also felt today in the island. [See article1, 2]

While Fidel would be deeply missed there is an entire new generation that was raised and educated under the revolution but did not live the actual battles. There battle has been the Battle of Ideas (1, 2). There is confidence in the new generation. While some things will remain, such as free education, healthcare, childcare and other needs provided by the state, there will be changes. There will not be changes like those Cubans who want to see an end to socialism. They see a return to the life and wealth they once pertained, including land (that has been long ago redistributed) and mansions (that are now apartment complexes). They know to achieve this they will have to defeat a people that will fight tooth and nail to maintain what is theirs.

What will happen when Fidel dies? There will definitely be a new step and new challenges facing the Cuban people and their revolution. While you will never encounter a population that is 100% happy with their government, the reason that Cuba remains socialist to this day is because the majority supports it values and its process, while some differences will always remain.

Will the trade embargo be lifted? I very much doubt it. Since the politics against the embargo was never anti-Castro, but anti-socialist revolution. If Fidel would have died and Cienfuegos was President the politics would not change. Bacardi, United Fruit Company, General Electric and Dole are still crying over their lost land and facilities that they once used to exploit the Cuban people and gained tremendous profit. The trade embargo will remain until the U.S. rulers’ faces tremendous lose in confidence that they feel a change in strategy is needed.

Impact on health in Cuba by U.S. embargo, Cuban health, other stats.

If you want to learn more about the history of Cuba and the revolution today, I suggest the following books, DVDs and music:

The Cubans: Voices of Change
From the Escambray to the Congo
Women and the Cuban Revolution

Cuban Story
A Portrait of Teresa
Strawberry and Chocolate

Silvio Rodriguez
Buena Vista Social Club
Carlos Puebla

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Announcement from the President to the Cuban People

by Fidel Castro

Due to the enormous effort made to visit the Argentine city of Córdoba, participate in the MERCOSUR meeting, in the closing session of the Summit of the Peoples in the historical University of Córdoba and the visit to Altagracia, the city where Che lived as a child, and in addition to that immediately attending the commemoration of the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes garrisons on July 26, 1953 in the provinces of Granma and Holguín, compounded by days and nights of continuous work with barely any sleep have all resulted in my health, which has stood up to every test, being subjected to extreme stress and breaking down. This provoked an acute intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding which obliged me to undergo a complicated surgical operation. All the details of this health accident are confirmed by X-rays, endoscopies and filmed material. The operation has obliged me to take various weeks of rest, at a remove from my responsibilities and duties.

Given that our country is threatened in circumstances like this by the government of the United States, I have taken the following decision:

1) I provisionally delegate my functions as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba to the second secretary, comrade Raúl Castro Ruz.

2) I provisionally delegate my functions as Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces to the abovementioned comrade, General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz.

3) I provisionally delegate my functions as president of the Council of State and the government of the Republic of Cuba to the first vice president, comrade Raúl Castro Ruz.

4) I provisionally delegate my functions as the principal instigator of the National and International Public Health Program to member of the Political Bureau and Minister of Public Health, comrade José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera.

5) I provisionally delegate my functions as the principal instigator of the National and International Education Program to comrades José Ramón Machado Ventura and Esteban Lazo Hernández, members of the Political Bureau.

6) I provisionally delegate my functions as the principal instigator of the National Program of the Energy Revolution in Cuba and cooperation with other countries in this sphere to comrade Carlos Lage Dávila, member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.

The funds corresponding to these three programs: Health, Education and Energy, should continue being managed and prioritized, as I have been doing personally, by comrades Carlos Lage Dávila, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers; Francisco Soberón Valdés, minister president of the Central Bank of Cuba; and Felipe Pérez Roque, minister of foreign affairs, who have accompanied me in these matters and who should constitute a committee for that objective.

Our glorious Communist Party, supported by the mass organizations and all the people, has the mission of assuming the task entrusted in this announcement.

The Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, scheduled for September 11-16, should receive the greatest attention of the Cuban state and nation to take place with the maximum brilliance on the agreed date. I would ask everyone to postpone the anniversary of my 80th birthday, which thousands of personalities so generously agreed to celebrate on August 13, to December 2 of this year, the 50th anniversary of the Granma Landing.

I ask the Central Committee of the Party and the National Assembly of People's Power to give their firmest support to this announcement.

I do not harbor the slightest doubt that our people and our Revolution will fight until the last drop of blood to defend these and other ideas and measures that are necessary for safeguarding this historical process.

Imperialism will never be able to crush Cuba.

The Battle of Ideas will continue advancing.

¡Viva la Patria!

¡Viva la Revolución!

¡Viva el Socialismo!

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Fidel Castro Ruz

Commander in Chief
First Secretary of the Party and
President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba.

Link to: National Network on Cuba

Saturday, July 15, 2006

New Breakthrough In Brain Control

A few years ago, scientists did an experiment with monkeys involving brain control. The experiment was to see if a monkey could play a video game controlled by brain waves. The study was successful and moved on to where we are today.

I have some links connecting to articles explaining the breakthrough experiments done with individuals who are paralyzed.

Unfortunately, breakthroughs in science and astronomy receive little notice, since most of us don't understand the significance. I'm also going to link a few article of things you might have missed.

Monkey and Video Game
Monkey and Robotic Arm
Paralyzed Man Masters Thought Control

What you might have missed:
Breakthrough in Antimatter. What is it for?
10th Planet
Human Evolution

Science Friday: The Best Science Radio Show in the U.S.

The New Feminist: Ho or Strong Woman?

Yes, you know what I’m talking about.
You've seen that young woman walking down the street with a tight low cut shirt, tight pants and sexy heels. In the 1960s and 70s this was the image of a submissive woman who’s life revolved around men or trying to get one rather than building her own career. But now, that sexy blond with big breast who is dancing in the club with no bra and little shirt is a PR Rep. So, what is she? It all depends on how she carries herself and knows her self worth. Many older feminist don't understand that what defines a woman today is not how she dresses. But the double standard of a woman versus a man who is permiscious is still very much part of society's moral code.

Pictures above: Left, Cuban doctor international volunteer in Bolivia; Right, Cover of a porn movie.

Having been a socialist political activist for many years, one topic that brought tension between the older women and younger was the way we dressed. Anything showing cleavage, too much legs, or tight pants always raised eyebrows. When I started out, men that hit on me while I was trying to talk politics with them would annoy me. After a while, I learned to ignore it and move on.

Sexuality: Weakness or Strength?
Let’s take a test. If you are wearing a low cut shirt and man stares at your cleavage. Do you:
a) Feel bad
b) Like it
c) Say to yourself: Look but you can’t touch, but I can touch you if I want

If you answered “a” you are being plain ridiculous. It is your body, feel good about it. We women have been blessed with beautiful bodies, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. If you answered “b” than your just a flat out ho. You can like it, but at the end of the night if you are depressed because not enough men said to you piropos, then you need a life. If you answered “c” then you are a certified New Feminist. You wear what you like without shame, but you have your own accomplishments in life to worry about. You are also not afraid of your sexuality and you use your stuff for your own pleasure. You can like it, but your world is bigger than attention your breast or behind receives.

For centuries, women have been molded to believe that their sexuality is their weakness. We are wives, whores, mothers and for centuries didn’t have the right to vote, own property or share the many professions men labored. But that has changed, and very quickly over the last 100 years.

But in recent years, what has also changed is how you interpret a strong woman. The main dilema individuals face is the double standard question with women: a man is player while a woman is a slut. What many of the older feminist don’t understand that it has nothing to do with the way you dress but how you carry yourself. In the 1960s, during the women's movement, the rebellion was to look and dress as men do. Many women cut their hair short, dressed in slacks or jeans, and acted tough. But now confident and working women are not trying to look like their male counterparts. I think many women in the 1960s felt that dressing manly would hide their female body that bings about sexual attraction.

Women, just be yourself and dress however you like. Maybe to work you wear pants but at the club you were a huchie skirt. It is alright as long as you never sell yourself short.

Take Quiz

Read this and this.

Friday, July 14, 2006

XXI Women's Conference in Argentina Begins Preperation

From the 14-16 of October 2006, thousands of women across Argentina will unite in the northern city San Salvador in Jujuy for the XXI Women's Conference to discuss the fight for women's rights in that nation. They will discuss the legalization of abortion to the rights of battered women and the struggles of working class women.

Controversy is always present, since conservative Catholics and individuals seeing such discussion as a threat to the family structure have caused disruption in the past.

Since the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina plundered, women were the hardest hit and pushed them to radicalize further than other women across the Americas. Women were the first to be laid-off but continue to be primary caretaker of children. Women in Argentina have a higher education level, and thus more independent.

The first women's conference took place in 1980 with 1,000 women present.

In last year's conference in 2005 in the city of Mar de Plata, some 30,000 women participated.

In Argentina, abortion is illegal and punishable by time in prison. A court may allow abortion only in the case of rape or if a woman’s life is in danger.

Nonetheless, it is estimated that in Argentina about 4 out of 10 pregnancies are terminated by abortion. According to the country’s health ministry, as many as 500,000 Argentine women have abortions every year. The top cause of maternal death in the country—about 80 percent of such deaths—is complications from abortion. In the last half-decade, hospital admissions from botched abortions have risen substantially in a number of provinces. About 500 women die from such abortions every year, and 16,000 women suffer serious permanent physical damage, according to Gines González García, Argentina’s health minister.

For these women, the main question is not promoting abortion, but a woman has the right to make that personal choice without facing death, bodily harm or persecussion.

A delegation of women from the U.S. or any other country would have an impact. We also can learn a lot from these women!!!

Further reading:
XX Women's Conference
IXX Women's Conference
Uruguay Senate Rejects Bill; Chile Legalizes Divorce
March 8: International Women's Day
Feminist Books (English)
Libros Femenistas (Español)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Italy Wins, But There Is More Politics In Soccer Than You Think

Italy wins cup but both teams have a record of some drama on their way to the final. The Italians had the talent to the win the cup, but they didn't play beautifully until the semifinal. During that game the referee made just calls and didn't blow his wistle evertime a player threw himself. The Italian team scored two goal in the last minute of the extratime and won the key to the final.

Italy has its dirty record in their game against the U.S. with a nasty elbow against McBride. In their game against Australia, a little drama from GROSSO helped them in getting a penalty, while the underdog Aussie's made history by playing very well.

When the Italians go back they have a major corruption scandal to face, including the demoting of some their major teams to the lower divisions.

Zidane, Zidane?
In my previous article (scroll down), my opinion about HENRY (Fra.) and his tactics were spelled out and evens out pretty well. In the final, the Italians held the honor of a GOL while France with the dishonor of a disputed penalty and of course Zidane's actions. No matter what the Italian player might of said to him, ZIDANE held the responsibility as captain and a close game that had 10 minutes to go (see video). With Ribery and Henry already substituted out, Zidane was an important key missing. Zidane also won the award as Best Player of the tournament. After his action in the final, this award should of been taken away.

Best Young Player? Who?
Lukas PODOLSKI was awarded Best Young Player of the Tournament. FIFA had placed a poll on their website of which individuals could vote. FIFA's technical team decided that Germany's 21 year-old striker, while internet voters who casted close to a million votes, chose 20 year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Luis VALENCIA (video).

Why Podolski? Amounts of goal scored are not a reason since it depends on their position in the field. MESSI (1, 2, 3)and ROONEY, unfortunately did not receive enough playtime to argue in favor of this trophy.

C. RONALDO did an excellent job and proved able to face up to the pressure in scoring the winning penalty against England. A very nasty play by England's Rooney booked him a well deserved red card. But who got the heat: C. Ronaldo for his wink. Ronaldo and Rooney are teammates in Manchester United, but this will soon come to an end. Rooney stepped on a players balls, but Ronaldo got the heat and due to this action wouldn't have been considered for the award (see video). In the end, if it hadn't taken place, I don't believe it would of changed the decision by FIFA.

But what makes Valencia stand out above them all was his ability to hold, lead and direct his national team. He played a central role, along with Tenorio, which is usually expected of an experienced player like Riquelme (Arg) or Deco (Por).

So, why Podolski? Purely political, to make sure the home country walked off with something. When it comes to FIFA politics, the underdog has to prove themselves 10 times more.

Luis VALENCIA (ECU) 34% 331,243
Cristiano RONALDO (POR) 25% 242,198
Lionel MESSI (ARG) 12% 118,837
Lukas PODOLSKI (GER) 6% 60,800
Wayne ROONEY (ENG) 4% 46,087

Refs Can Cost the Game

German high kicks never called.

Refs can cost a teams opportunity, but at the end of the game, little can be done. Germany was one of the teams that got away with a number of fouls, especially high kicks. The most notable was the jump by Klose that injured Argentina's goalie so severely that he had to be removed.

One of the dirties moves was Holland violating Fair-Play regulation in the game against Portugal. Deco was so outraged that he slide tackled the player from behind and got a yellow card. Later in the game he would receive another yellow, removing him from the game. Holland was not fined or criticized for their actions. FIFA began every World Cup game with children hold a sign in the middle that said "My Game Is Fair-Play". If so, why doesn't FIFA make a stand and fine teams that violate that basic sense of sportsmanship .

Brazil and Spain were awarded the Fair-Play award.

These are some of referees who were considered the worst due to their unbalanced amount of fouls called and bad calls.

Valentin Ivanov (Rus):
Portugal vs Holland [15 yellow cards, 4 reds]
(see video, video2)

Frank De Bleeckere (Belg):
Eng vs Ecuador [Fouls 13 vs 24]

Jorge Larrionda (Uru):
USA vs Italy [Fouls 24 vs 13]
(see video)

This is fairplay (see), this is not (see).
Messi, Tevez vs Maradonna, Francescoli (video)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thierry Henry is "The Drama Queen", While Samuel Eto'o is to be Admired and Respected

France's No. 12 star, Thierry HENRY, has credited in his name faking two throws that gave France 2 goals this World Cup tournament. The first was while playing against Spain and the game was 1-1. Spanish defender PUYOL took the ball from Henry, who then grabbed his face and threw himself on the ground that gave France a free kick that produced a goal (see video). The second was during the game against Portugal of which he threw himself and giving France a penalty kick and the only goal in the game. As you see in this picture the Portuguese defender never touched Henry. Is that the performance of a world-class player?

Unfortunately, soccer is filled with drama and exaggerations which the Italians are the most infamous. But when I think of world class players like Beckham, Riquelme, Ibrahimović, Pelé, Nedvěd, "Bam Bam" Zamorano, "El Matador" Salas or Maradonna--I've never seen something like this. Of course there is the "hand of god" incident with Maradonna, which is still disputed today. I have seen those players hit and tripped out of desperation by the other team. The argument is then usually how severely where they hit or tackled which is almost impossible to calculate. But to fake being hit in the face and slide tackled--I have to then give the award as World Class Soccer Player Drama Queen to Henry Thierry.

What was obvious was the foul committed against Christian Ronaldo of Portugal in the penalty box. He went up for a header but a French defender pulled his shirt and threw his down. Nothing was called, the game was bought.

Eto'o and African Soccer
One last comment about the French National Team. I know many of players nationalize in another country because they feel or they know they have a better chance in playing for a foreign nation then their own national soccer team. For example there is a Brazilian playing for Japan, a Brazilian and Argentine playing for Mexico, the player DECO who plays for Portugal is actually Brazilian, and the Italian player CAMORANESI was born in Argentina. But in Brazil and Argentina there is a lot of competition.

But in Africa, where skilled players are needed two of France's National Team soccer players are from Africa: Patrick Vieira no.4 born in Dakar, Senegal and Claude Makélélé born in Kinshasa, Zaire (his father played for the Congo DR National Soccer Team).

Three of their players were born in French colonies of French Guiana and Guadeloupe which have no national teams of their own: Florent Malouda born in French Guiana and Lilian Thuram and Pascal Chimbonda born in Guadeloupe.

I am glad to see Eto'o [if you press on Eto'o's name, please go down and read Anecdote and Racism], who is a star in his club FC Barcelona, and plays on the National Team for his Cameroon. He made a point during the 2006 World Cup to be present at all the games of the African teams. The week before the Cup began he also was part of organizing fundraising and awarness about poverty and AIDS in Africa. Eto'o and Marc Zoro, from the Ivory Coast, have both been outspoken against racist offenses by fans of oppossing teams during soccer matches. Eto'o almost walked off a game against Zaragoza when fans began making monkey-noises every time he had the ball. His outspokenness has forced the Spanish Soccer Federation and FIFA to fine opposing teams when their fans react this way. FC Zaragoza was fined 9,000 Euros. Eto'o is a great player to be admired for his ability, his pride to be African and for taking a stand against racism.

P.S. Did anyone else see the "Hail Hitler" arm motion by German striker PODOLSKI?