Yet ANOTHER wintry day in Havana?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Tue Jan 7 06:41:31 MST 2003

Thanks for the many nice letters which
readers have sent me off list in response
to these more personal reports on what
I'm seeing and doing here in Cuba now.

I've tried to respond to each of them in
individual mail, but haven't been able to
keep up. Sorry if I haven't responded to
you individually. I've been truly moved
by the letters I've received from you.

Yet ANOTHER wintry day in Havana?
by Walter Lippmann, CubaNews list

(I'll get tired of this "winter" motiv
in a bit and move on to something else.
It's wasn't as chilly yesterday nor
is it as chilly today as when I first
wrote about that.)

Yes, it's STILL winter here and I say
that for a couple of reasons. During
the three winters I've been here, the
season is short-lived, at least when
compared to what I see in California
where I normally experience the cold
weather which goes on often for a
couple of months. (Naturally those
living in New York, Chicago, Europe
or Canada will laugh when I speak
of "cold weather" and Los Angeles,
California in the same breath, but
bear with me on this if you will?)

Winters in Cuba vary sharply both
in length and intensity. One man who
has lived here for over thirty years
told me today that some winters are
incredibly mild. Well, I guess it all is
a function of what you're used to and
can compare things with. Yesterday
and the day before were what I had
in mind by "chilly" when I needed a
sweatshirt when going out for my
walk. Today I didn't get out until a
bit later and didn't need anything
beyond a T-shirt.

(The Cuban-Spanish word for T-shirt
is "pool-over", in case you wanted to
know such things.)

Anyway, there were many wonderful
notes from readers of this list who had
written to me off-line thanking me for
these personal notes. More have since
come in. I may share a few with readers
but they all say, in various ways, that
they like my personal observations,
so I promise to keep them up. I'll try to
send something each day, if possible,
and hope you'll find them enjoyable
and, perhaps, enlightening as well.

Anyway, this morning I walked from
here (Calle "C" between 25th and 27th)
down to the offices of Radio Havana
Cuba's English Department. I needed
to get out of the house, and also wanted
to see what my gallery of photos of the
Japanese Garden which is located in the
National Botanical Gardens looks like on
a desktop monitor. If you haven't taken a
look, please do. I'm sure you'll enjoy it:

Radio Havana's studios are located on
Infanta and O in Centro Havana and to
go there is often to get a jolt of unplanned
exercise. Once again the elevator wasn't
working. The English Department is up
on the fifth floor, but because of the odd
architecture, you have to go up to the
sixth floor, then walk down a very narrow
(one person at a time) winding metal
stairwell to get to the English Dept.

I had to stop for a breather when finally
reaching the top, but I didn't hear any
complaints from "Grandpa Al Lewis",
the WBAI programmer who was here
last month to do an annual program
live from the studios of Radio Havana.

After checking the images (larger on
a monitor than on my laptop) I walked
to a computer store on the far opposite
end of Infanta at Carlos III. (Though the
steet's formal name was changed many
years ago to "Avenida Salvador Allende",
no one in the city ever refers to it as such.)

There is a computer store called PC Max
at that corner. I'd been in there before, in
search of an a digital camera to replace
mine which is once again broken after its
SECOND trip back to the factory for
repairs. They also explained something
about internet service here on the island.

There are five different internet service
provider providers. I'd heard one of them
provides DSL service, but the price that
I was quoted was $400 per month for the
service, well beyond my pension, so I've
put the idea off - more or less indefinitely.

One quite unusual, even incongrous a
bit to see was the large sign in the store
window from a company called Teldor,
whose poster featured the Cuban and
the Israeli flag side-by side prominently
displayed. While Cuba has no diplomatic
relations with Israel, there are a number
of significant Israeli investments and joint
venture companies doing business here.

Teldor provides high-speed computer
cables. (Israelis also have an investment
in a large Miramar office complex and in
the citrus industry.) Unlike some states
in the Middle East, whose policies include
boycotting Israeli products, Cuba trades
with Israel. I've seen lots of computer
montors here which are Israeli made,
including, rather demonstratively, the
ones at the internet cafe in the Capitolio
where there are six Israeli-made monitors:
(You won't be able to see the lettering in
Hebrew. Just a peek at the cybercafe.)

Yesterday being Monday three newspapers
came out here: Trabajadores, the weekly of
the CTC, Granma, the Party daily, and Orbe,
the Prensa Latina-edited weekly focusing on
world news. I cannot summarize them and all
have websites. The domestic news focuses
on the newly-expanding adult education
opportunities. Fidel's text on that will surely
be available soon. A summary article has
been published in Granma and will go out
to the list shortly. Granma yesterday ran
Mumia's column on the Miami Five as well
as a feature discussion woman, menopause
and the controversy over homone replacement
therapy. Read it as Granma Diario's website.

Last evenings Cuban television news
was preceded by a very different version
of the Mesa Redonda. They've run some
of the Alo Presidente programs before,
but this was a more formal occasion in
which Chavez was laying down the law
to the saboteurs who have been trying
to destroy the popular morale by causing
people to suffer in hopes that that will get
them to turn against the Bolivarian project.

Chavez is very different from Fidel as in
this case, he often sits when he presents
reports. He also cites from books, shows
and refers to the Bolivarian constitution,
the little blue book which supporters of the
Bolivarian revolution often wave at those
big mobilizations in Venezuela. Last night
he read from Martin Luther King, Jr. on
his revolutionary ideas a black person,
something you wouldn't see by a Cuban
leader here on Cuban TV. Anyway, as is
obvious, Cuba is placing the highest
priority in explaining to and educating the
Cuban people about events in Venezuela
and in support for the Bolivarian process.

Enough for the moment.

Have a great day,

Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews

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