Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada

Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada

Havana’s Capitol, seen from Paseo del Prado. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Democracy has to be an obsession

The presidential elections in the United States of America don’t decide only who will be the head of state of that nation. A great many countries await the results of this electoral process to draw up policies, write speeches, change strategies, rethink tactics and imagine new diplomatic courses. In Cuba, tension can be touched with one’s fingertips. Pandemic, ordering task, shortages, dollar stores, elections in the United States. It’s a powerful cocktail that can knock out anyone and that is drunk here daily, from dawn to dawn. Within the country the extremes that exist in all parts of the world are replicated. Right-wing conservatives, democratic socialists, those who don’t care whichever, centrists who don’t want fascism, or dehumanizing capitalism, but neither do they want totalitarianism. Voters for Trump in the United States have their counterpart in Cuba, as do voters for Biden. What is expected of the winning candidate, in his relationship with Cuba, is a range of possibilities that separates positions and economic, social and political projects in Miami and in Havana. But I am more interested in what doesn’t or shouldn’t depend within Cuba, on the presidential elections in the United States of America. To make the sovereign...

Photo: Julio César Guanche

How much can we resist?

The 2020 pandemic doesn’t end. Since March we’ve been locked up in Cuba. An island is already a water and sun trap without a pandemic having to impose the practice of physical distancing as a barrier against contagion that seems as fast and uniform as if it were a row of falling dominoes. The world was already in a hole before COVID-19. Now, suddenly, it is justified that we not greet each other with hugs, that we not kiss in the street, that we not see each other’s faces and smiles, hidden behind masks, those that some far-sighted Asian tourists used to wear. Cuba is locked up. Havana is locked up inside Cuba. Without transportation, without visits, without walks, without fans in the baseball stadiums, the pandemic doesn’t stop on this island without spring, autumn or winter. Cuba is blocked. Havana is blocked within Cuba. Food is longed for. Beer, coffee, chocolate sweets, everything that was always waiting to be bought before, now simply doesn’t exist. Photo: Julio César Guanche A year ago some of us thought that there could be nothing worse than those dirty, half-empty stores, where we could walk for hours without knowing...

Photo: Bohemia.

How to be worthy when facing the blockade?

Dignity is very important in Cuban political history. March is the month of Baraguá, Maceo is a prototype of dignity at all costs, against logic and against reason. He is the dignity of utopia. Dignity saves the poor from misery, and makes them simple but noble, strong and clean human beings if they are worthy. We are worthy when we do not steal, even if we live in hardship, when we prefer honesty and when we go out earn three pesos instead of using deception and fraud. Armies of elderly and worthy old women, go out to Cuba’s streets and embankments every day to work because their pensions are not enough to live...in a dignified way. They don’t simply choose to beg, they rather sell peanuts, trinkets, old books, coffee in the portals, often change at the bus stops, take care of cars in the parking lots, collect cans for raw material. Cubans men and women are mostly worthy. For one who is miserable, who is vile, dozens of men and women insist on working and waiting for their salary to be enough than to just buy croquettes. This a people of worthy artists, worthy housewives, nurses and daycare workers,...

Photo: Alejandro Ernesto.

The apostle’s blood

Marti's life and death are a mystery to Cubans. A man of the second half of the 19th century rules our lives with his thunderous tenderness, and in the 21st century he dares to teach us how to educate our children or how to be faithful to the homeland. The distance between him and us is greater than a century and a half. His exemplarity is impossible in an era in which sacrifice is not withstood for more than two hours. We are not in a time to write by hand, to compose letters, to have known the shackles in our own flesh, to travel in ships across the Atlantic Ocean, to receive scented gift pads, to fight on horseback, and to give our lives for the independence of our country. Martí guides us to a world unknown to him, his values ​​of altruism and dignity are not fashionable, his life devoted to duty clashes head-on against a world focused on the full enjoyment of the senses. But Martí loved beauty and his poetry is a deep imprint of love for Cuba and people, as well as proof of his devotion to all humanity. The sweet beauty of the 19th...

Photo: Kaloian

Think and act for the country

We have been summoned to think as a country, and then to think with the heart. To think like this, the first thing that has to be done is to think about what this means, if it makes sense or if it is a beautiful motto that leads us nowhere. The country’s most important thing are its countrymen, the Cubans who live in or outside Cuba. To think as a country you have to think like Cubans, which forces us to feel as such beforehand. But you also have to think of the countrymen. Think of them, their problems, their dreams, their frustrations and hopes. Countries don’t think, its inhabitants do, sometimes barely, but at least we try. The poetic image, an adornment for politics, must be explained in this case. It may be to think for the country, as if we were the country, as if we cared about the country. The simile, almost hyperbole, that compares us, simple citizens, with the whole country, must be broken down to understand its possibility and usefulness. And the questions must also be analyzed in depth: What does country mean, in this slogan? Will it be the history of Cuba? Will it...

Photo: nepicas.pw

Miami, capital of Cuban cuisine

The sound like a giant hornet's nest made by the thousands of cars passing through Miami’s fast roads does not announce a city that normally protects a great part of Cuba’s traditional culinary heritage. The old people from Cuba say that the island’s cuisine is in Miami. It’s sad and this affirmation seems exaggerated, but when someone invites you have a fresh cup of coffee on a corner, we are transported to a Cuba forgotten and transcended by the modernity of scarcity. Suddenly the smell of the guava pastry openly hits you and we defend ourselves by saying that it’s just a pastry, made with just guava, how special can that be...but they are Christianity’s best guava pastries. There in the old Versailles, they give you a tiny portion of cake soaked in syrup to make your palate fall in love and it falls in love, I can assure you. Miami, so close, tastes like what we all like. In the cafeterias, restaurants, pastry shops, desserts are announced that are known in Cuba through literature, and things are sold that made us happy without having to reach abundance. In the Carreta de la Calle 8 anyone eats ajiaco, boniatillo, picadillo,...

Photo: pxhere.com

The salt of justice

One can live being sick, but one cannot live without justice, my dad, who loved to exaggerate so that the importance of the law could be better noticed, used to say. He repeated to me many times that the only reason why young people in the prime of life are capable of risking their lives, their freedom, their comforts, is to have justice, that one that can only be understood in its widest sense when we don’t have it or it is wounded. I don’t understand development without justice, just like I don’t understand it without democracy. The current indicators to measure societies and advanced institutions must consider justice as a parameter, because it doesn’t matter how much bread and oil you have in the pantry and in the well if you don’t have it. In book I of Emperor Justinian’s Digest one can read that justice is the constant will to give each person what belongs to them. The life we are leading is still the pursuit of a little of that balance, so that at least each one has a part of what they should have. It is strange how as human civilization we have accepted to do...

What is the Cuban’s system of government?

Part of the State’s theory uses the concept of form of State to cover the organization and functioning of the political power apparatuses in society. This concept would in turn be made up by the form of government, the political regime and the territorial structure of the State. The form of government informs us of the relations between the decisive State organs of power, of the way in which these organs emerge, are constituted, are established and are interconnected, of the principles on which they are governed and regulated. The modern forms of government are the monarchy and the republic. The first is characterized by the head of State being a monarch, not responsible before the same legislations as the rest of society, with a post held for life and almost always hereditary. In the republic the fundamental state organs are elected, must be controlled by the people, are renewable, must render accounts and tend to be collegial. The forms of government can me mixed, appear in diverse types, in each sociopolitical and constitutional model, but the theory of the State divides them into absolute and constitutional or parliamentary monarchies, and parliamentary and presidential republics. The political regime or state...

Photo: Claudio Pelaez Sordo

Sonic attack…against peace

If it were not that it increasingly distances us from the hope of normal relations with the United States, one would choke to death laughing with this thing about the sonic attack. Or not? Is it possible that Cuba can produce such an artifact, capable of silently impairing the hearing of U.S. officials? Is it possible that this land, this administration harbors such a bad sentiment? Are we, the Cuban people, so innocent about the real weight of politics, of its stark and sordid nature? Could we imagine in the nation of Martí such a vile, cowardly attack, and with a profound impact on the Cuban people’s dreams of wellbeing? What do we know, in the end, about relations between the Cuban and U.S. governments? Weren’t we all surprised with the well-guarded secret of the rapprochement, the flirtation, the first meeting, the two States’ first kiss, on December 17, 2014? How many secrets can a State keep that are licit, legitimate, fair, good for the credibility of politics, power and democracy? All I do is ask questions. I’m part of the same people used to not trusting good news. I thought that self-employment would be restricted and that’s what happened....

Photo by Claudio Pelaez

Electoral system and political system in Cuba

With the world upside down, attacked by diverse types of terrorism, by holy and diabolical wars, by despotic political regimes, by hunger and plagues that devastate entire peoples, with poverty, cataclysms, the melting polar ice, the disappeared islands, what would be relevant about talking of the Cuban electoral system. But it is our duty to take a deep breath, overlook the terrible event of a man who kills dozens of people in a concert in Las Vegas, as if he were killing flies; facing the sadness caused by seeing those who have lost everything after the passage of Hurricane Irma, or of the earthquakes in Mexico. We must think about ourselves. Perhaps we must even think about ourselves as if we were the center of the universe. Cuba is going to change, everything is going to change, but above all politics will change. We no longer are the people who ate apples and threw them away half eaten, nor are we the reliable people from before, who went to all the parades and voted in all the elections. The young people of today do not believe so much, they have a harsher view of reality, they have seen their parents’...

Photo: Kaloian Santos Cabrera

I don’t want to hear anything about Obama or Industriales

I don’t want to hear anything about Obama or Industriales There are at least two ways to ensure a life full of suffering: support Industriales and aspire to democratic socialism. For decades the myths and legends of Cuban sporting journalism have inculcated the people with “the truth” that the Industriales baseball team is full of intelligent players who really know how to play ball, and that the Latinoamericano Stadium is a pressure cooker where the manliness of any baseball player who aspires to succeed in this sport must be forged. However, reality tells us that the players of Industriales do not know how to hit balls, or run the bases, they can’t throw strikes and they have been incapable of beating the Ciego de Avila team for the last five years. Because of this I do not want to know anything about Industriales. Obama, on the other hand, is not the President of the Republic of Cuba. In Cuba there has not been a President of the Republic since 1976. Our system of government does not recognise this role, because for the last 40 years we have preferred to be more republican and democratic and have collegiate organisations where no...

Cuba: The right to the future

Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez The culture of a people suggests the majority of the times, its artistic sensitivity, its way of speaking and writing a language, its ancestral customs, its beliefs, myths, even its sports abilities, but never in its Law. But the legal system that the States establish to organize the society and daily life are also the creation of regular, common people and reflect their values of good and evil, just and unjust, ethical or contrary to morals.


Most Read

Most Commented

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!