CubaNews notes from Havana, May 5, 2003

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Mon May 5 22:29:54 MDT 2003

CubaNews notes from Havana, May 5, 2003
by Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews

Aside from a smaller amount of political analysis,
I've got some more direct personal observations
about a few things you'll find of interest, and a
direct request and suggestion for all of you who
are reading and finding these reports useful.

The US occupation of Iraq continues and news of
the repressive acts by Washington in Iraq continue.
This is and will remain the most dramatic example
of how Washington functions internationally today.

But far from the only one. Secretary of State Colin
Powell went to Syria to instruct that country on the
expectations for its behavior by the United States,
and which organizations and groups the US wants
Syria to shut down. North Korea has told the US
that it must negotiate with the country and that it
must also stop characterizing North Korea as a
state sponsor of terrorism. Last Wednesday the
US re-stated that characterization, listing Cuba
along with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan,
North Korea, and Syria as sponsors of terrorism
during 2002. Notice that the US meets with North
Korea and Syria, but refuses to meet with Cuba.

Attacks on Cuba by US government officials such
as Powell continue regularly. We'll post a pair of
his TV appearances in which he spoke against
Cuba today. An important Miami Herald article
also came out today with a particularly ominous
note, by some "anonymous" source talking of
pushing Cuba to encourage another Mariel-type
of crisis.

If we have learned anything, indeed, from recent
events, we can see that the Cuban government
is willing to go to great lengths to prevent any
further hijackings or other acts which the US
could consider a reason to intervene against
the island militarily.

Support for Cuba continues to mount among left
personalities and organizations world wide as the
"Call to the Conscience of the World" receives
growing numbers of signatures. If you have not
yet added your name, you may do so here:

New signers include Ramsey Clark and such
Nicaraguan leaders as Daysi Zamora, Omar
Cabezas and former FSLN foreign Minister
Fr. Miguel d'Escoto.

Here in Cuba, groups from every walk of life are
coming out in public support of the Revolution's
leadership, and this campaign is reported in
detail in the local media. Cuba's friends from
Latin America and elsewhere are speaking up
broadly to back the island against threats of
interevention from the United States as well.

It's been a very hectic several days and I've some
different items to tell you about today. Yesterday
I went out to see the beautiful Roman Catholic
church at El Rincon, past the Boyeros suburb of
the city of Havana. I'd seen it before but wanted
to see it again and to take a friend who'd never
seen it. The sanctuary itself isn't that large, but
it's a striking one with five additional altars beyond
the main one at the center of the sanctuary, the one
you face as you enter it. A steady stream of Roman
Catholic worshipers come and bring flowers and
candles, giving prayers for loved ones. There were
fewer indigent beggars than I've seen on past
visits, and an increase in stands along the road
adjacent to the church continuing to sell figures
of St. Lazarus and other images. There's even
been in increase in little restaurants nearby for
the traffic which comes by.

After that we dropped in on a friend who lives in
the municipality of El Rincon, just to say hello.

Here we had a great reminder of a continuing
cultural presence rarely discussed when Cuba
is reported in the US media. The family was at
mid-day dinner, and, as in many places, their
TV was on. They were watching the Spanish-
dubbed edition of MURDER, SHE WROTE,
the US television mystery series starring
Angela Lansbury which is shown here all the
time. Among the other fare shown on Cuban
television over this weekend was BULWORTH,
the great political satire starring Warren Beatty
and Haile Berry, and the TV series LAW AND

If you believed what the US media tells you
about Cuba, you'd find it hard to believe how
fascinating Cubans are by all things North
American, so these shows are a staple of
local television. They are well produced,
though the dubbing sometimes leaves a
bit to be desired. And they're cheap, since
Cuba pays nothing for them. They take the
programming down from the satellite and
use them.

Cuba would be willing to pay the cost
for such things, but US law and practice
forbids such simple translations. This is
one of so many areas where the influence
of the rightist exiles from Miami in Cuban
life is so strong that it prevents business
from the United States from making money
in such simple ways as payments for the
use of such programming. And Cuba is
willing to enter into relationships with US
firms in the information world, for example
CNN which provides material for Cuban
TV news, an which is also available in
all the major hotels here.

With all the debate and conflict between
the US government and the government
of Cuba, it's a point Cubans make all
the time, and at every level, that there is
probably LESS anti-Americanism here in
Cuba than in any other country in the
world. I can certainly testify to this in my
experiences wherever I go and whoever
I speak to.

Discussion and debate about Cuba goes
on in left political circles. There were a
few excellent contributions from other
electronic mail lists, including one by
William Mandel, which you'll I think find
of particular note. Mandel, who no longer
considers himself a socialist or Marxist,
remains a radical democrat in the best
sense of that term. He provides a close
reading of Fidel's May Day speech which
you won't want to miss. We also have a
sample of how someone else had the
chance to view Fidel's May Day talk,
as well as other May Day material which
appeared on C-SPAN and provides his
own very sympathetic commentary.

I cannot complete this news column with
no mention of the death of Walter Sisulu,
a decades-long leader of the African
National Congress. He would have been
91 years old today. Cuba was a staunch
supporter of the African National Congress
in its long struggle against apartheid and
the Cuban media will no doubt mark the
death of this fighter who will be missed.

Walter Sisulu, Presente!

CubaNews is a news service which has
messages, mostly about Cuba, over the
past three years. Whenever great stuff
comes my way, I do not hesitate to send
it out to the readership. When people and
writes come to my attention, I also invite
them to join and share their experiences
and comments with us. Here's a note that
came just yesterday from one whose work
I've read for some time, but just gotten in
contact with, Dr. Alberto N. Jones, a long-
time Cuban-American activist and one
who defends Cuban sovereignty in Florida:

Here is his letter:

From: Cacf2 at
To: walterlx at
Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2003 9:54 PM
Subject: HONORED

Dear Mr. Lippmann,

It is certainly a great honor to receive a message from you.
I have taken a brief look at your website.  I wish to thank
you for your defense of the sovereignty of our country.

I appreciate your suggestion for me to subscribe to your
page.  Unfortunately at this time, I am not in position
financially to do so.  Please explain how that works.

Thanks for attaching some value for some of the things
I write.  Finally, perinatal or postnatal, your shares the
plight of our people, which is yours.

Thanks once again for getting in touch with me.
Best of luck in your contribution to our nation.

Best wishes,


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