[Marxism] Forward from Walter Lippmann: Reflections on a CubaNews milestone

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Apr 12 22:50:12 MDT 2009

Reflections on a CubaNews milestone 
Message Number 100,000

by Walter Lippmann
April 12, 2009

This is a remarkable moment in the history of the CubaNews list.

You're reading message number 100,000. No one had any idea when
we began this process, a short time after the rescue of a Cuban
child named Elian Gonzalez, that an electronic news service would
come out of that successful struggle. That's how it all began not
quite nine years ago this coming August.

>From time to time it's useful to stop and take a look around 
amid the blizzard of information which is coming out about Cuba
to sort of take stock and consider a bit what it all means and
where it's going or could go. Here today are a few thoughts on
those themes. I invited other subscribers to submit their ideas,
thoughts, comments and criticisms along with the congratulations
which I hope and request that you also send in.

Some of the handful of us who joined together in that struggle
decided to create a formal news service focusing on Cuba, its
history, people and culture, and the Cuban Revolution and the
many consequences which flowed from that. It all began with a
few dozen subscribers, and we're about to reach 1400 readers in
a short time. If you're not yet subscribed, please consider now
a good time to do that. Just write to CubaNews at yahoogroups.com
and you'll be quickly added to the list. It can be a lot of mail,
so be aware there's a digest version where the information is 
condensed into normally two packages per day.

Occasionally I get inquiries from authors looking for their own
work, long since vanished from the web-pages of the newspapers
in which they first appeared. Sometimes we can find these among
the 100,000 items which are in the CubaNews archive. They are
all available and completely free of any charge whatsoever.

The purpose of the CubaNews list, as indicated on its home page,
is to assemble and share information from a wide range of views
from, about or related to Cuba, its people, culture and politics.
It aims to be a service to the movement for normalization of US-
Cuban relations. This is its formal statement of purpose:

CubaNews is really unique among the services providing information
about Cuba because it tries to provide such a wide range of news
and information, political, cultural, athletic and so on. I'm very
much a supporter of the Cuban Revolution, and at the same time I'm
convinced that we need to read widely, and not just among sources
which are themselves supporters of the Cuban revolution.

Cuba's government and social system came into being at a certain 
time and in a certain way, which marks them. Its leadership has
succeeded in keeping the country afloat amidst immense challenges
and against really overwhelming odds. This earns everyone who is
in favor of Cuba's right to be what it wants to be the gratitude
and support of all decent human beings. 

At the same time, that doesn't mean they've not made their share
of mistakes, nor that their system, which works for them, is one
which ought to be copied anywhere else. Cuba isn't a model of what
a perfect society is. There is no such thing. Cuba is a model of
what can be done under very capable leadership in very difficult
circumstances and with more than a little bit of luck, too.

Today I'd like to express specific appreciation to some of our
volunteer translators: Will Reissner of Oregon, Sue Green of 
California and Odilia Galvan Rodriquez of various places (mostly
Mexico) for their participation in the work. CubaNews makes as a
specific part of its work providing original English-language
translations of materials from the Cuban media which the Cubans
themselves don't translate. Sometimes we also translate material
from other non-Cuban Spanish-language sources. No other list does
this as CubaNews does. 

Odilia has agreed to become a moderator of the list, so she'll be
able to pick up some of the responsibilities when I'm not able to
do so. Increasingly she will take these often mechanical and at
times diplomatic tasks on independently.

We used to complain that there was so little coverage of Cuba and
that what there was was mostly bad. Now there's so much coverage
that it's really impossible for one person or any small group of
people to keep up. And there's an improvement in the quality of
some of it as well. 

I'm recently returned to Los Angeles after another three months
on the island. I'm glad to be back here because the conditions - 
the electronic, technological conditions - are far superior to
the ones on the blockaded island, where virtually all Internet
access if of the dialup nature. We in the so-called "advanced
capitalist countries" too-often take for granted the advantages
we have with "always-on" internet service at what we no longer
call "high-speed". For most of us DSL or other service is what's 
normal. Most readers of these messages who live outside of Cuba
have little or no idea any longer what that difference is, but it
is one we ought to reflect on a bit.

The campaign for, and the successful election of Barack Obama as
the first Black president of the United States opens up new and
important possibilities for an improvement in relations between
our two countries. Even in the few short weeks he's been at the
helm, we've seen some changes which augur well for the days and
years ahead. While I wouldn't have formulated some of his policy
proposals as he has, I didn't get elected President of the United
States, either. He's the President and he has to move the stubborn
US political system into some different directions, if he's going
to bring about some meaningful change in US-Cuban relationships.

By the way, if you haven't had a chance to listen to, watch, or
read President Obama's weekly broadcast message yesterday, it's
one worth spending a few moments with. Toward the end he says:

"With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past 
one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent 
us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t 
afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find
– and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when 
people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that 
mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins."


or alternatively: http://tinyurl.com/d6k936
Walter (continuing):

As is perhaps not as well known as it should be, there already
are a number of ways in which the Cuban and US authorities have
been and are cooperating. It looks like it will be possible that
these areas can be built on and expanded. There are no guarantees
in life, but let's look at this new situation hopefully, and see
what comes next. I'm personally optimistic, though not about the
full lifting of the US blockade of the island. As Hugo Chavez
would put it, "por ahora".

Here's just one example of such cooperation:

WSJ: Not Everyone at Guantanamo is a Terrorist

On the other hand, US government policy continues to provide a
range of special rights, special privileges and special advantates
to Cuban immigrants, which are denied to anyone else from anywhere
else. These flow from the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1962, a little-
known piece of legislation which you ought to know more about.

WSJ: US refuge to Cubans, even if not from Cuba

The visit last week of members of the Congressional Black Caucus,
some of whom met with President Raul Castro, and some of whom met
with Fidel Castro, received far more attention in the US media 
than at any previous time. And some of them have met with Cuba's
leadership in the past. Little attention was paid to their visits
before. But now that there's a Black president in the US, things
are beginning to change.

Obama has announced a lifting, albeit temporary and not at his
initiative, of some of the travel restrictions imposed on Cuban-
Americans by George W. Bush in 2004. All people from the United
States ought to be free to go to Cuba, but this is a positive
step. I'm confident Obama will also allow Cuban-Americans to be
able to send more financial assistance to their families who are
still living on the island. That's also a good thing, I believe.

The Obama administration has raised the profile of the criminal
terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for the killing of
73 passengers in the 1976 Cubana airliner bombing over Barbados.
Posada remains free on bail - would Osama bin Laden still be out
on bail if he were caught? - But at least the issue of terrorism
and Posada's links to it are now higher on the US government's
formal agenda.

A few days ago, as Fidel Castro pointed out in his Reflection out
today, Venezuelan President Chavez flew back from his travels to
China and elsewhere in a Cubana de Aviacion plane. With permission
from the United States, that plane flew over U.S. territory.

A few days before that, US law enforcement officials captured a
group of Venezuelan drug traffickers, and RETURN THEM TO THE
VENEZUELAN authorities. Venezuela thanked the United States for
doing the right thing. This is the kind of development which 
points in the direction of Washington's need to respond to the
request by Venezuela for the extradition of Posada Carriles.

Take the time, if you haven't read it, to review the essay by
attorney José Pertierra, "Gesture for Gesture" which provides
a meaningful framework for the understanding of what seems to be
going on as these lines are written, and in the run-up as well to
the Summit of the Americas this coming weekend in Trindad.



Fidel Castro on his meeting
with the Congressional Black Caucus

What Cubans expect from Obama

Fidel Castro on Obama:
The Empire's Hypocritical Politics

There's been a small chorus of people, who've become somewhat
more shrill since Obama's inauguration. They campaigned against
him as "leftist revolutionaries" during the campaign, and now
that he's in office, they're bound and determined to find each
and every fault in his behavior, whether real or imagined. 

Some of these voices insisted he couldn't get the nomination, and
then that he couldn't win. Now that he's won and been installed
into office, these voices claim there's no essential difference
between Obama and his predecessors. It seems these people worry
that any reduction in tensions between the United States and 
Cuba is a threat to Cuba in some manner. They seem to think it
would be better if Cuba remained isolated from the United States.
"Better poor but pure" is the logic of such misguided thinking."

A new book has just come out which I'd like to recommend to all.
I just got it yesterday, but already I'm very enthusiastic about
it. Published by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel
and the Cuban Revolution by Lars Schoultz. When I pull myself away
from the computer, I've got my nose buried in this 745pp book.

There's a major academic conference on Cuba to be held May 7-9
at Queeens University, Kingston, Ontario. I'm going to attend and
hope to meet new and prospective readers at that event. Details:


The Measure of a Revolution: Cuba, 1959-2009

May 7-9 2009

Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario CANADA

The Cuban Revolution was one of the most important hemispheric events
of the twentieth century, with both a regional and a global impact;
and the country had to re-imagine itself. The conference, "The Measure
of a Revolution: Cuba, 1959-2009", will assess the Cuban Revolution on
its 50th Anniversary through a variety of lenses: international
relations, culture, gender, the economy, environment, sexuality,
politics, migration, race, education, health and religion. The
Conference provides a superb opportunity to encourage critical thought
on the Revolution, what it has and has not accomplished, and on its
future prospects. This forum is important in that it will bring
together scholars from different disciplines, as well as writers,
artists, film makers and government officials – past and incumbent –
to present and debate issues arising from the subjects of their expertise.

CubaNews is doing what it can to keep up with the immense flow of
information. We're also looking to ways to improve the services
we're providing, and hoping to find more and more ways to reach
more and more people. Your comments, criticisms and suggestions
can prove helpful. Your participation in joining in the work and
helping us to improve its quantity, quality and effectiveness are
very much welcomed. Blogging? Sound files? Videos? 

While I do most of the work to produce this list, if would only
be improved if more of the responsibility were shared with more
people. I'm sure we could reach many, many more people. So if you
can and are willing, there is translation work, promotional work,
and all sorts of additional work which you can take up if you've
the time, energy and determination. I don't have all the answers,
and, as I've taken to adding, I don't even have all the questions.

Most of the expenses for the work of producing CubaNews has been
my personal responsibility. Sometimes some people have provided
some practical assistance in terms of money, or "effectivo" as
it's known in Spanish. Those of you who wish to help cover the
costs of this work (I collect no salary, but I do work eight days
a weeks), can make US tax-deductible contribution through the
DISARM EDUCATION FUND. You know them. They're the nice people from
whom you receive periodic fund-raising appeals signed by Ed Asner.

The DISARM EDUCATION FUND has adopted CubaNews as a project now.
You can give money through them, immediately online, at this
location. There's a drop-down menu and the last entry is simply
Walter Lippmann - CubaNews. Fill in your credit card details and
help cover the costs of this work. 



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If you're NOT subscribed, hit "reply" and the comment will come to 
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Thanks for your attention.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California+F

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