[Marxism] CubaNews Notes from Los Angeles - April 14, 2004

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 15 00:14:50 MDT 2004

by Walter Lippmann, April 14, 2004

The last few days I've been occupied with responsibilities
which have caused me to send less information. I'm glad
that we have the three daily services which come to me via
Prensa Latina: Impactos, Bridges and Synthesis, which give
you an over view of the most important issues which Cuba's
media are focusing on each day. I also want to recommend
the Prensa Latina English website www.plenglish.com which
covers a wide range of issues all over the world from the
standpoint of PL. Finally, it's possible to watch some of
the most interesting issues of the Mesa Redonda via the
Cubavision: http://www.cubavision.cubaweb.cu/portada.asp 
You can blow the image up fairly large, but if you leave
it small, the quality is quite good, especially if you
have a high speed connection to the internet. Notice the
small British flags. If you click on them you can hear
the Mesa Redonda in English. (Alas, the Spanish is left
in the background. 

That's somewhat which I find disruptive to my ability to 
concentrate, but you definitely can learn a great deal
there. They also provide feeds for the daily news casts,
but these aren't kept completely up to date. At the time
this is written, they still are running last Thursday's
news. If you've never watched the main daily newscast on
Cuban television, or haven't watched it in a long time,
it's quite remarkable and I'd recommend you take the time
to do that. Spanish only at the moment. It's completely
different from what you'd see on US television that you
really should take the time to view it, at last once.

This morning I finished reading Yuri Kochiyama's great
book PASSING IT ON - A MEMOIR. I cannot recommend this
book more highly. Kochiyama's best known to me as the
only non-Black member of Malcolm X's Organization of
Afro-American Union. But I never knew, until reading
this book, that she had traveled to Cuba as a member
of the Venceremos Brigade at the age of 69. There are
entire chapters devoted to both of these topics and so
I want to recommend that all of you read this wonderful 
book. It's format is rather different from many other
memoirs I've read through the years. It's something of
a scrap-book. There's a chapter about her husband Bill,
who died in 1993. There are sections about her family
and each of her children and grand-children. One of 
her daughters and one of her grand-children worked as
co-editors of the book, but it's her book. I won't
try to tell you much more about it. I was particularly
moved by her forcefulness on the one side and her great
open-ness as a person on the other. She is today in her
upper eighties. She tells readers about some of her own
problems, admits she wasn't always as attentive to the
needs of her children as she now feels she should have.
It's an extraordinarily open and beautiful book and I
cannot recommend it more highly.

Tonight was the premiere of Oliver Stone's new documentary
LOOKING FOR FIDEL which was shown on HBO Cable. I do not
have cable (though I don't brag about that fact) and so
went to the home of friends nearby to watch the film and 
can tell you it is a stunning, though not perfect movie.
The advance whinings by the critics were aimed at giving
viewers the impression that the picture wasn't worth the
viewer's time. Now I understand why. Fidel Castro is the
most demonized individual in the history of the United
States of America. Who ever heard of Osama Bin Laden five
years ago? But Fidel's been described as the devil himself
by the US media for well into a fifth decade. In this film
the Cuban leader gets to present his case to the public in
the United States, or at least as much as gets to see such
movies. I hope it was many.

I won't try to summarize the movie in detail, but I see
there was a great deal that the advance notice critics
left out. It's important to further recall that Oliver
Stone had made another film last year which the HBO
refused to show since it didn't deal with the issue of 
the execution of three armed hijackers and the trials of
the so-called Cuban "dissidents". This movie centers on
those issues. I have not seen COMANDANTE, the previous
movie, so cannot compare them, unfortunately.

Part of what makes this movie so excellent is the fact
that it began with images of and the voice of three of
Cuba's most famous "dissidents", Paya, Roca and Sanchez,
cuts back to them again during the narrative, and also
features the wives of three of the imprisoned people.
None of the advance notices nor any of the commentaries
mentioned that when Stone asks Vladimiro Roca how he's
able to live, responded he was living off of a grant he
had received the previous year for $50 THOUSAND dollars.
He said it came from something he called the "Parkinson
Foundation", but nothing came up when I tried to Google
it. And among the three wives, Miriam Leyva (whose name
was mis-spelled Leyba in the subtitles), when asked how
SHE supported herself, stated that she was receiving
money from El Nuevo Herald. Her husband had been being
paid from CubaNet, the US government funded website.
Leyva said that El Nuevo is still paying her even though
her husband is incarcerated and cannot send in articles.

Those who've listened to the debate between Leyva and
Fernando Bielsa of the Cuban Interests Section last year,
may recall that Miriam Leyva there stated that her husband
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, had been broadcasting over Radio 
Marti where he had a weekly program. She didn't say how
much he'd been paid for that work by Radio Marti.

This week as we're in the run-up to the final vote on
Washington's motion to have Cuba condemned at the UN
Human Rights Commission in Geneva. There'll be more
and more coverage of this in the next days. It's not
yet certain how the vote will go, but the US has been
actively going around bludgeoning the small countries
of Latin America to get them to support the US motion
against Cuba. (The formality is that it's submitted
by Honduras.). Please also be on the lookout for the
report coming up of the so-called Commission for a
Free Cuba, which is due to come up with its "report" 
on May 1, and Bush's annual bash Cuba speech which is
to be given May 20th. May 20th, as readers of these
mailings know, is the date at which Cuba's limited
and compromised independence was sanctified into a
formal constitution in 1902, with the notorious
Platt Amendment included, authoring the US to 
militarily intervene in Cuban politics. And the
US used that option three times in the next twenty


Several readers here have come forward recently and begun
offering to translate materials from Spanish to English
for CubaNews. This is great and I'd like to invite any of
you to write in and let me know what you're interests are
and I'll find materials for you to translate.

The biggest challenge which CubaNews list faces is boredom
or information overload. Everyone gets so much information
and so much mail that we are always competing with a
million other topics to retain the interest of readers. 
As important as news on the Cuban Five and the rest of the
issues which are up at Granma International are, no one
ones a steady diet of that. Thus, human interest features,
which tell the reader what kind of society is being built,
and what kinds of social goals are being projected by
Cuba's leaders are extremely important and some of those not
translated to English by the Cubans tend to be among those
of greatest interest, in my opinion. 

Also, there are news items from the Cuban and some of the
time from other media in Cuba which report stories not
normally translated in the Cuban media. 

I take many things from Granma International and Prensa
Latina's English page, www.plenglish.com which is a
wonderful new site that covers a wider area of issues than
you'll ever see on the Granma International site.

Beyond that, there are, first and foremost, articles on
other Cuban sites which don't get translated into English.
Occasionally we need things from El Nuevo Herald, a truly
dreadful source, but we need to keep paying attention to
what's being said there which doesn't get put on the
Herald's English pages. If you are at all familiar with the
concept of B.S ("bi-lingual scam) which Franisco Aruca
critiques each week at his wonderful site) you know what
I'm talking about. www.rprogreso.com 

There's much more going on, but this will have to do for
the moment. I'd be grateful if any of the readers would
like to help out with the work of this list. I'm happy 
to do the lion's share of the work, but would be just as
happy to share it if any of you would like to participate.

Until next time...(Hasta la proxima vez...)

Walter Lippmann

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