Unable to offer the medical analysis and speculation that everyone wants, we are instead passing on some of the more interesting statements from the year just ended.
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Eight workers in a butcher shop won $22 million each in the Power Ball lottery. (February 22)
Miami public schools adopted a new menu to attract more children to school breakfast. Eggs, sausages, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, milk, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, and cookies are some of the choices. The federal government pays for the breakfast of all children in Miami public schools. (March 8)
Reading Granma today is like reading it yesterday, or reading it tomorrow. The date changes but the content stays the same…Granma publishes the fantasy that all is well in Cuba, that things have been well for decades. Who believes Granma? What’s more, who reads it? (February 24)
Do not forget the unbreakable link between social justice and democracy. (March 1)
To travel by bus is tiresome. To wait two hours for the bus is an abuse. How many buses could be bought for the cost of an Ilyushin airplane? Many who travel in private cars are not their real owners. Please: Let Cubans buy their own cars… Of all the license plates which do you want? Blue, green, red, or yellow? In the 1950’s, Cuba had more cars per person than Japan. (March 15)
The tourist who comes to Cuba and enjoys the island also feeds a repressive regime. They drink rum, smoke tobacco, go to the Tropicana, and fall in love with the girls. They have a great time. They don’t know the Cuba that you live in. The tourist says, “I feel safe in Cuba.” Of course…police states are famous for maintaining security. (April 10)
Excerpts from messages posted along with news items on the outdoor electronic sign board at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana; since mid-year, the sign has carried only news headlines.
“There is no transition and it is not your country.”
Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of the American States, regarding the naming of a Cuba transition coordinator in the State Department, directing himself to President Bush, May 23, 2006.
To say that objective stability has improved considerably is not to invent a lie. To affirm that the period of recovery will last a short time and that there is no longer any risk would be absolutely incorrect.
I suggest to all of you to be optimistic, and at the same time to be always ready to confront any adverse news.
Today, August 13, I feel very happy.
Excerpts of message of Fidel Castro on his 80th birthday, translation by The Miami Herald, August 13, 2006
“There are many in the military and in government ranks in Havana who do not accept … the transfer of power to Raul Castro,” said [Cuban American National] foundation chairman Jorge Mas Santos. “This is our rally to those brave men and women.”
Speaking to reporters at the landmark Versailles Restaurant, Mas Santos said his organization has contacted some Cuban officials since Monday, but did not say who they were.
“We are calling on those in the military to take hold of their future,” Mas Santos said.
Excerpt from “Cuban-Americans urge islanders to establish transitional government,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, August 3, 2006
I urge the Cuban people to work for democratic change on the island. We will support you in your effort to build a transitional government in Cuba committed to democracy, and we will take note of those, in the current Cuban regime, who obstruct your desire for a free Cuba. Excerpt of statement by President Bush, released August 3, 2006
… as Cuba has the possibility of transforming itself from a tyrannical situation to a different type of society, the Cuban people ought to decide. The people on the island of Cuba ought to decide. And once the people of Cuba decide their form of government, then Cuban Americans can take an interest in that country and redress the issues of property confiscation. But first things first, and that is the Cuban people need to decide the future of their country.
President Bush at press conference, August 7, 2006
We ask all our communities to pray that God accompany President Fidel Castro in his illness and illuminate those who have received provisional government duties.
Excerpt of statement of Cuba’s Catholic bishops, August 4, 2006
We consider it very important to achieve greater efficiency in the use of these funds [from the U.S. Agency for International Development]. We believe that one possible way to achieve this would be the elimination of a series of existing restrictions on the sending of aid and travel to Cuba, which don’t at all help the pro-democracy struggle that we are carrying out inside our country.
Cuban dissidents Martha Beatriz Roque, Gisela Delgado Sablon, Elizardo Sanchez, and Vladimiro Roca, November 23, 2006
We were not referring to anything that did not have to do with the dissidents and the restrictions that we say have to be eliminated are for the dissidents.
Cuban dissident Martha Beatriz Roque, making clear her view that U.S. regulations blocking humanitarian aid in the form of cash and packages should not be eased for Cubans who are not declared opponents of the Cuban government, December 16, 2006
Break the information blockade by employing high tech communication devices to facilitate communications between activists on the island, foster a nascent civil society, and improve the dissemination of information to and from the island, especially by increasing the communication of democracy and human rights messages. Low-tech projects that serve the same purposes in a creative manner will also be considered. Approximately $1.2 million is available for this award.
From a bid solicitation on the State Department’s website
The United States is doing something it should not do, which is to finance dissidents through agencies of the U.S. government; this always creates a confused situation… this will continue feeding the Cuban government’s rhetoric, which tries to portray dissidents as financed, supported, and invented by the United States.
Dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua, quoted by BBC, November 20, 2006
Unfortunately, policies of the United States have been obstacles for private citizens sending aid. An example is the legislation that establishes for Cuban Americans the limit of one trip every three years, or the restriction on sending of remittances only to parents, children, and brothers and sisters. The prohibitions on academic, cultural, and sports exchanges also work against the spreading of democratic ideas in Cuba. The same could be said about stopping American citizens from coming to Cuba as tourists, which blocks people to people contacts and the massive injection of democratic concepts, failing to take advantage of historic friendship.
It is absurd that while the United States has applied flexible policies with magnificent results in Eastern Europe and Asia, it maintains outmoded and failed policies toward Cuba that respond to the pressures of minority groups of exiles who, uprooted from reality and clouded by passion, collaborate unknowingly with the Cuban government.
Excerpt from essay, “Incoherent and Failed Policy,” by dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, November 27, 2006
The Council of State, at the suggestion of the Political Bureau, agreed to relieve comrade Ignacio Gonzalez Plana of his duties as Minister of Information Technology and Communications and to promote in his place Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes Menendez, who had been serving as President of the Electronics Group and who has broad experience and positive results in his work.
To comrade Ignacio Gonzalez Plana, other tasks will be assigned.
Official note of the Council of State, August 31, 2006
He is walking, he goes out at night to walk around fields, towns, and cities. Soon I’m going to see you, Fidel…
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, October 28, 2006
The latest releases show a trend, but remember 300 are still in jail, which is the highest in the hemisphere and proportionately one of the highest in the world. Today they released Hector Palacios, but Monday they arrested independent journalist Ahmed Rodriguez and have held him incommunicado without charges.
Human rights monitor Elizardo Sanchez quoted in “Cuban dissident’s release creates ‘false image,'” The Miami Herald, December 7, 2006
I do believe that this government really is committed to promoting a democratic future for Cuba, and Canadians have been able to maintain relationships both with the regime and with members of Cuban society and Cuban dissidents, and that’s no small feat. There’s only a few countries that have been able to do that.
Countries like Canada have a very useful role to play because of the relationships they’ve built over time and the influence they’ve built over time, and also their access on the island.
Remarks in Ottawa by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, describing the advantages of policies opposite to those of the United States, December 19, 2006
Luis Posada Carriles is an admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks. The Department of Justice believes that Posada is a flight risk and that his release would be a danger to the community. The Department of Justice is committed to defending the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to detain him under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos, October 5, 2006
For a long time, the number one reformer in Cuba has been Raul Castro. He began with the Armed Forces, which is now the most efficient part of the government, from an economic point of view. He accomplished this through reforms and by allowing himself to be guided by knowledgeable people. He is much more organized than Fidel. Each person is a world unto himself and with Raul, things are going to be different.
I think he would look for economic efficiency, as he did with the defense ministry’s enterprises, which have capitalist interests and norms. He was also one who began to stimulate the farmers markets, so farmers could guarantee the food supply, while the person who…is against all these reforms is Fidel.
Dissident and former military officer Vladimiro Roca, quoted in “Dissident leaders call for a peaceful change in Cuba,” Encuentro en la Red, September 18, 2006
[Raul Castro] recognizes that today’s youth are more demanding because they are incomparably more capable, more educated, more cultured, and above all, more critical — and he recognizes that it is not a bad sign that they are that way; quite the contrary.
… he is convinced that every generation needs its own motivations and its own values, at the same time he insists on making it very clear that no one will become a revolutionary today simply because we explain to them the extreme hardships that their parents and grandparents suffered.
From a 5,800 word article on Raul Castro published in Granma June 2, 2006, just before his 75th birthday
We are tired of excuses in this revolution.
Raul Castro, speaking in Cuba’s National Assembly about transportation and housing troubles, December 22, 2006
Cuba should not only open itself to the world, but also to Cubans. This should be looked at — consider that for the sake of bringing about equality, large inequalities have also been created, and a solution has to be found for this.
A provincial youth quoted in “A Sketch of Cuba in the Future,” an article in Juventud Rebelde reportedly based on 300 anonymous interviews, December 31, 2006
QUESTION: Senator, under what circumstances would you consider a trip back to Cuba?
MARTINEZ: That’s more emotional than you realize, because I have dreamed of that day for a long, long time. And I have always said that I would go back to Cuba when I could speak freely in the town square of the little city where I grew up and not feel like I would be persecuted for doing that.
And I guess that’s the condition. I really need to feel like Cuba is free before I would go back. Or at least on a path to freedom.
If I could make a contribution to assist that, that would be a different matter. But I’m not sure the moment has come. I can’t imagine the day that that would happen, frankly.
I can imagine it. I just can’t believe it may really actually come to pass some day.
But it would be a great joy for me.
Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, Capitol Hill press conference excerpt, August 1, 2006
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