CubaNews Notes from Havana, May 7, 2003

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Wed May 7 10:22:24 MDT 2003

CubaNews Notes from Havana, May 7, 2003
by Walter Lippmann, Moderator

Good morning. It's a warm early Wednesday in
Cuba's capital. It's warm and muggy here now.
It isn't like this in Los Angeles usually until late
August, early September as I recall...

Yesterday I walked some of the streets in this
area (Vedado and vicinity of the General
Calixto Garcia Hospital) in the afternoon toward
the end of the work day. People were lining up
for the bus home and it was a good reminder of
the very difficult status of public transportation
here in Cuba. Long lines and very crowded
buses, where pickpockets work while everyone
else waits to get to their destination. Friends
warn me when using public transportation or
going into large crowds, even including May
Day, that it's unwise to carry any significant
amount of money in such places.

On the other hand, you don't need a great deal
of money for some things: a tube of peanuts
still costs just one Cuban peso (about four US
cents) as does a soft-serve ice-cream, also a
mere one Cuban peso.

One other amusing thing I forgot to mention last
time, since it was after I sent out my news notes:
Cuban television also shows the X-FILES.

Used bookstores here can be the source of
great bargains, well above what Cubans might
afford but a wonderful find for rare book lovers:

Yesterday I got a magnificent book published
in a bilingual edition. It's 532 pages, feels like
it weights nearly ten pounds and is bilingual,
to boot! You can find occasional gems like
these in all sorts of small used bookstores
if you look carefully and ask the helpful staff
of such places.

This morning I listened to a raft of early morning
radio programs, switching around the dial to get
a sense of what is available to the public here.

The stations I hear, at 6 AM, included ones with
patriotic guajiro music, family comedy, a 24-hour
news program called Radio Reloj (Clock Radio)
which features the ticking of a watch as program
background, and a soft-jazz with a Muzacky kind
of feeling to it. Headlines on the radio spoke of
the Iraq occupation and the continuing activities
of the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

The Cuban media is continuing to report more
signers on the Call to the Conscience of the world,
including historian Howard Zinn, Swedish architect
(and long time CubaNews subscriber) Eva Bjorklund,
former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Piero
Gljeses (author of Conflicting Missions), attorney
Jose Pertierra, Ignacio Ramonet and Nicaraguan
author Gioconda Belli. The "Conscience" appeal is an
important document which all who support Cuban
sovereignty should sign and ask friends and
colleagues to sign as well. (Zinn, Ramonet and
Belli are right up on the front page there now.)

The petition has clearly struck a chord with many,
and there has begun some discordant attacks on
the petition now as well. Tuesday's Wall Street
Journal has a lead editorial attacking the petition
and actor Danny Glover for his role in it, along
with a wide-ranging attack on the politics of the
petition itself. The purposes of such an attack
are several, including to build up pressure on
companies which employ Danny Glover not
to do so, and to intimidate others who might
speak out against US foreign policy as to the
consequences which might befall them if they
speak out as well.

The Wall Street Journal falsely describes the
document as calling for support to the Cuban
government. It quite pointedly does NOT do that
at all, but calls for support to Cuban sovereignty
and opposes a US invasion in the aftermath of
Washington's invasion of Iraq. Re-read the two
paragraphs yourself to see how the WSJ very
deliberately falsifies what it then attacks:

"The international order has been violated as
a consequence of the invasion against Iraq.
A single power is inflicting grave damage to
the norms of understanding, debate and
mediation amongst countries. This power has
invoked a series of unverified reasons in order
to justify its invasion. Unilateral action has led
to massive loss of civilian life an devastation
of one of the cultural patrimonies of humanity.

"We only possess our moral authority, with
which we appeal to world conscience in order
to avoid a new violation of the principles, which
inform and guide the global community of nations.
At this very moment, a strong campaign of
destabilization against a Latin American nation
has been unleashed. The harassment against
Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion.
Therefore, we call upon citizens and policy
makers to uphold the universal principles of
national sovereignity, respect of territorial
integrity and self-determination, essential to
just and peaceful co-existence among nations.
Mexico, April 2003"

It's a work in progress and you can see that
the page is evolving over time. (Someone needs
to fix up that "other signers" page so the names
submitted can be viewed there. And, as of the
last I tried this morning, the page for adding new
signatures doesn't open, but you can send them
an e-mail message: .)

James Petras's excellent commentary on the
responsibility of the intellectuals regarding Cuba
has been reprinted in La Jiribilla. I'm very pleased
to see this essay getting around more broadly and
was happy the author had also submitted it to
CubaNews, from which it was posted out to several
additional list as well.

We also have word of a newly formed coalition of
groups in solidarity with Cuba in the Washington, DC
area, which will be shared in today's materials.

The US occupation of Iraq, and the resistance which
it is engendering, remains a regular feature of Cuban
news media coverage. We've now also received word
of the first anti-occupation demonstration which has
taken place in Afghanistan.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque is now
in the Persian Gulf region on a short tour and warned
the US not to even think about invading the island as
that would cause a war lasting a hundred years. The
AP quoted the Cuban foreign minister, "
"There are no statues of President Castro in Cuba
that the Americans can destroy as there were of
(Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein in Iraq," said
Perez Roque referring to the symbolic destruction
of statues of the dethroned Iraqi president.
"President Castro lives in the heart of Cubans."

And we have an important dialogue between Karen
Lee Wald and Saul Landau on whether or not the
US might invade Cuba. (While it seems an unlikely
prospect AT THE MOMENT to me, the fact that US
officials like Rumsfeld and Powell pointedly DENY
that they have any such plans, the denials are, of
course, a way of keeping at least THE IDEA out in
public discussion, in my perhaps jaundiced view.)

Finally, I'd like to recommend that any of you with
the time and interest, listen to Francisco Aruca's
commentary for Tuesday May 6 on his program
BABEL'S GUIDE, regarding the freedom given
to hijackers from Cuba in the past, and how the
federal authorities are taking a somewhat more
tough line toward the most recent hijackers. He
cites a Miami Herald article comparing previous
hijackers and their lenient treatment with the
more recent hijackers who are facing apparently
tougher approaches by federal prosecutors at
the moment. Mr. Aruca explains that the US
authorities are clearly responding now to the
hijackings AND the executions in Cuba by the
new approach they are taking toward illegal
entry into the US via hijackings from Cuba.

You can listen to Francisco Aruca's comments: where you scroll down
to the comments for Tuesday May 6 and click on
the "listen" button on top of the web page.

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