Noches en que Cuba no existió (126): Roque Dalton

Este miércoles 1ro de Septiembre de 2021, a las 11:33pm Hora de Cuba, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo lee al poeta salvadoreño ROQUE DALTON (14 Mayo 1935 – 10 Mayo 1975), en nuestro podcast para arropar al alma NOCHES EN QUE CUBA NO EXISTIÓ.

Un podcast de letras insomnes para rebasar la medianoche que muere y adentrarnos en la madrugada que renace. A pura voz, con la palabra de Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo que toma prestada las palabras perdidas e imperdibles de los escritores de una Isla que soñó la utopía y despertó en pesadilla.

Letras para despertar a los cubanos sin Cuba, mientras convocamos el sueño desde la ausencia presente y la cercana lejanía, siempre en comunión, en confianza de noctámbulos. A solas, pero acompañados por la memoria de nuestra íntima Isla imaginaria, de donde la Verdad fue lo primero que se exilió.

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Race in Cuba

Race in Cuba: The Politics of Power and Hypocrisy

By Inéz Maria Martiatu Terry

7/28/10

Photo by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The letter signed by 60 African Americans about the state of racism in Cuba, which ended decades of silence on Cuba’s racial policies, was the first shot. Naturally, certain sectors of the foreign press, representing interests that had always been racist, tried to take advantage of the situation. A good number of intellectuals on the island responded immediately, denying the accusations and the results of studies on the subject that they themselves had published — a response provoked by the fears of criticism from abroad.

The most important internal response came a month after the letter (from African Americans), on Thursday, Dec. 21, when Cuba TV broadcast A Cuban Battle Against Racism (the title plays off A Cuban Battle Against Demons, a seminal book on national identity by Fernando Ortíz, the island’s first significant post-colonial critic) on “Mesa Redonda,” one of the most coveted prime-time slots. Various specialists appeared on the show, and it was finally publicly recognized that prejudice, racism and racial discrimination persist in Cuba.

This contradicted statements that had hastily been made to deny the situation. And yet this happened on TV — the mass medium par excellence in our country, and where the most pointed evidence of this very racism continues, especially in the lack of black actors in featured programming that frequently uses them only in police procedurals to play delinquents who practice Afro-Cuban religions.

What erroneous policies have allowed such an important issue to Cuban society to go without resolution in these 50 years of revolution? The triumphalism that decided the problem was solved in 1962; the imposition of a single Cuban subject that did not take differences into account; and the fear that a public discussion on the matter would produce schisms before enemy threats from abroad. These were the pretexts used to keep the dialogue and/or discussions about these and other important matters to society as a whole from ever taking place.

A growing number of scholars have engaged with these questions for years, going against the tide of partisan opinions trying to put off discussion and analysis of the issue. The hip-hop movement has opened a space in which to confront matters of interest to youth, particularly black and mulatto youth. The inclusion of women in a decidedly masculine endeavor such as rap is particularly notable. Young people of color struggle against racial discrimination and patriarchal oppression. They’re interested in family, the vindication of beauty, the relationship between the sexes, violence, prostitution, drugs, the double morality/hypocrisy, corruption, racism, police harassment, conformity and the defense of diversity, including homosexuality/lesbianism.

There’s still much to do. Although the answer lies in education and a strong involvement in cultural work, it’s still a long ways off. The hegemonic sectors of our society that have historically benefited from this inequality will not give up their privilege after a mere bout of conscience. It will be necessary to seek the help of the courts. If we don’t keep in mind that racism is linked to the exercise of power, it will continue to play out as a consequence of its obvious economic, social and cultural benefits to the hegemonic sectors. 

Inés María Martiatu Terry is a Cuban writer and cultural critic whose many books include Over the Waves and Other Stories, published in the United States. She has received various awards, including the Ministry of Culture's distinction for national culture.

Translation by Achy Obejas. Read her piece on race in Cuba in the first installment of this series. Read the second installment of this series by Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura.

Cuban activist blogger speaks on Internet censorship

Cuban activist blogger speaks on Internet censorship

Gary Leverton | December 4, 2014

Photo by Yue Yin/ yue.yin@marquette.edu
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo speaks to the Marquette community in Raynor Memorial Library’s Beaumier Suites. Photo by Yue Yin/yue.yin@marquette.edu

Students and community members piled into the Beaumier Suites in the basement of Raynor Memorial Library Tuesday to listen to Cuban activist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo speak on government censorship in Cuba and what activists like him are doing to combat it.

Pardo Lazo documented what he saw in Cuba, particularly social media. He has blogged for several websites that include allvoices.com, El Nacimal, Diario de Cuba and Orlandoluispardolazo. He also has his own photo blog, Vocescubanas.

His particular blogging has always been difficult, as he said Cuba’s government is severe and repressive on anybody who opposes it. With more Internet use around the world, the Cuban government has tried to transition itself as well in order to retain this power.

“They are transitioning from power to power,” Pardo Lazo said. “They are attempting to mutate without losing central control.”

Instead of trying to completely block the Internet, Cuba is attempting to control it. The country developed its own blog called the Blogoserfa Cuba on Twitter and Facebook. The government-controlled blog will not include any independent bloggers like Pardo Lazo.

The Cuban government also developed EcuRed, a website similar to Wikipedia. Unlike Wikipedia, where information is changeable, this information is nearly impossible to change. Cuba’s government also said that no independent person can develop a website. The only way to register a website in Cuba is to have a website for a business a citizen owns, which the government will monitor.

Not only has the government controlled independent bloggers, but it pretended to be an independent blogger to give the illusion that it provides citizens freedom on the Internet.

“Cuba is a black hole in terms of connectivity,” Pardo Lazo said.

The repression of the Internet is causing citizens to attempt to leave Cuba. Since 1995, 600,000 people immigrated to the United States. Other Cubans are trying to fight back against the repression. The Ladies in White, an activist group in Cuba, has attempted several protests against the repression, but many of these members have been arrested without charges.

“I have been arrested three times,” Pardo Lazo said. “One time was particularly difficult because I was unable to contact my family for four days. I was eventually released with no charges against me.”

Despite all this, there are many ways independent bloggers are able to get their messages out. There are democratic embassies that allow bloggers to print their work. There is also a black market system used to get Internet access, but Pardo Lazo said it can only be accessed safely after midnight.

Included in the black market system are offline packages, which usually include a DVD or hard drive of information that would be unavailable otherwise. If the black market is not an option, people set up Wi-Fi networks in neighborhoods to receive Internet.

Pardo Lazo said the threat of censorship is something that is necessary when searching for stories.

“When censorship is not coming for you, you’re doing something wrong,” Pardo Lazo said.