Rearranging the chess pieces

According to AFP and various other news agencies, six or seven Cuban prisoners of conscience have been transferred to prisons closer to their homes. Most of the news agencies are crediting the meeting that took place between Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Cuba’s dictator Raul Castro as the impetus behind what is being touted as an unprecedented appeasement by the Cuban dictatorship towards dissidents.

Cuba moves political prisoners ‘closer to home’

By Isabel Sanchez (AFP)

HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba’s communist government started relocating political prisoners Tuesday closer to their families after church-government talks aimed at ending politically embarrassing hunger strikes, dissident and family sources said.

The action came after church-government talks launched May 19 aimed at ending hunger strikes in support of the political prisoners, which have become a major political embarrassment for President Raul Castro.

While this is good news for the seven prisoners of conscience and their families, it does nothing to change the fact that they still remain prisoners of a vile dictatorship. And while credit for this development is being given to Cardinal Ortega, whom since his ascension to the leadership position of the Catholic church in Cuba in 1981 has been at best acquiescent, and at worst complicit with the regime, the credit in reality goes to the Ladies in White, Guillermo Fariñas, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and countless other dissidents in Cuba. It has been these dissidents, and not Cardinal Ortega, who have spilled blood and given their lives standing up to a tyrannical government and forcing the hand of the Cuban regime and the leadership of the Catholic church in Cuba.

It is no coincidence that this decision by the Cuban dictatorship comes only two weeks before the arrival of the Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. And I am afraid that the sacrifice made by Cuba’s dissidents with their blood and their lives will be ignored by the press and the Archbishop in favor of heralding the dictatorship’s humane transfers of prisoners who should have never been prisoners in the first place.

This latest move by the regime is not a move but in reality a rearrangement of chess pieces on a chess board. The Cuban regime is and remains the only player allowed to touch the pieces and decides the moves for both themselves and their opponents. Today the pieces have been moved into a more favorable position for the dissidents on the island, but tomorrow they will be moved again. And as long as the world and the church does not make much of a fuss, they will reposition the pieces when convenient for another checkmate against their opponent.



53 thoughts on “Rearranging the chess pieces

  1. >>And I am afraid that the sacrifice made by Cuba’s dissidents with their blood and their lives will be ignored by the press and the Archbishop in favor of heralding the dictatorship’s humane transfers of prisoners who should have never been prisoners in the first place.<<

    BINGO! Let me add that Cardinal Jaime "Let's Pray for Castro's Health, but I won't Pray for the well-being of the dissidents" Ortega is only helping the regime.

    I would go as far as to suggest that this might not be anything more than a game between the regime and the church, a smokescreen, a facade in order to save face. Undoubtedly, raul wanted to avoid further international condemnation by not having Farinas–who was on a hunger strike until the dissidents were moved– die on him, but he also didn't want to appear as if any pesky dissident manipulated him into doing anything, so in strolls the Cardinal and makes it appear is it was due to his persuasion.

    It makes raul look better and the cardinal–who has NEVER, EVER done anything for the dissidents and is as such a pretty much a discredited piece of crap– look better as well.

    I could be wrong, but I know how diabolical and deceptive that regime is and how worthless Jaime Ortega is, so this is my speculation.

  2. The sad thing is that there will be all manner of praise and rejoicing over what is, in fact, mere scraps from the dictatorship. All manner of credit given where none is due. And of course, that is precisely the idea behind this maneuver. This is like giving a rapist credit for dropping off his naked, battered victim within walking distance of her house after he’s done the deed. Oh yeah, great job.

  3. Wow, Valentin. We agree on something! BTW, if you are in the NYC area this week, let me know if you want to go to the Silvio Rodriguez concert in Carnegie Hall! He is sure to please with his music.

  4. Marielito:

    First, try reading the byline on a post to see who wrote it before commenting, and second, you can go ahead and pleasure yourself to Silvio Rodriguez’s music all you want, but count me out.

  5. Marielito,

    Yes! Buy me the ticket to Silvio’s concert and wait for me by the front entrance to Carnegie Hall. I’ll meet you there. I might be a little late, though, so make sure to wait for me until I get there.

  6. Sorry, Alberto. I thought you were Valentín Prieto. I see the byline now. As far as Silvio is concerned, I find his music and words to be irresistible. I completely disagree with the guy’s politics, but I believe that music transcends politics and has the power to bring us together.

  7. And I look forward to a day when, despite our many disagreements and all the bad blood, we will just simply embrace each other as fellow Cubans and look forward toward building a civil society in our homeland. I’d hate for there to be a repeat of post-revolutionary days.

  8. Marielito,

    let me get this straight, you find Silvios “words” irresistible, but disagree with his politics? Do you have some kind of comprehension impairment?

    His lyrics and politics are one and the same. cant have one without the other.

    And there’s as much of a chance of me “embracing” a Silvio as there is as me carrying triplets to full term and birthing them through natural childbirth.

  9. I don’t agree with all of his lyrics (it’s not a requirement really), but even his most pro-Revolution songs are fine examples of songwriting. In fact my favorite song by Silvio (Pequeña serenata diurna) is about his Revolutionary ideal, but it could also be commandeered by anyone wishing to make a statement about the wonders of the free society we live in. The song starts with the words “Vivo en un país libre…” It always makes me chuckle when I think he is singing about Cuba.

  10. Well that’s great for you, Marielito, that you can ignore Rodriguez’s decades of complicity and servitude to a regime that has stolen your country’s dignity and patrimony and has enslaved your family and fellow Cubans. Continue humming his lovely ballads and don’t think about all the pain and death inflicted on your country by the regime Silvito so readily defends and supports.

    As for me, I am not so lucky. You see, I have this nagging thing called a conscience, which prevents me from enjoying any art, no matter how beautiful, created by a worthless piece of crap that supports a dictatorship. You, however, are obviously free of any nagging concerns for your fellow Cubans so keep on humming, Marielito, that way we’ll know it’s you.

  11. Alberto, I think about the pain and suffering of my fellow Cubans everyday. As a matter of fact, my family in Cuba has felt the full force of the regime’s wrath since day one. But I won’t go into those details because my appreciation of Silvio’s art (which is really all I’ve expressed) has already clouded your judgment about me. And it is precisely this sort of intransigence that had turned the Cuban exile community into the world’s laughingstock. Which might explain why we can’t get anyone to help us with that problem we’ve had for 60 years.

  12. The reason we’ve had this problem in Cuba for 60 years, Marielito, and why we are “the world’s laughing stock,” is because people like you, after being whipped and beaten by a dictator, keep going back for more. Why support a nation’s quest for freedom when there are so many of its citizens that keep going back for another kick in the ass?

    As the late Carlos D’Mant used to say: “por eso estamos en el exilio por 40 años y vamos a seguir 40 años mas.”

    Thanks, Marielito.

  13. And listen, if you can’t get over the man’s politics long enough to appreciate his art, that’s your choice. Why you jump to the conclusion that anyone that likes the guy is a collaborator with the regime I don’t understand. It’s like you are trying to impose your simplistic artistic standards on me (yet another example of the undemocratic tendencies of the Cuban exile community). Life is a little more complicated than that and it is possible for a gusano to appreciate and enjoy those few cultural gems (such as Silvio) born out of the Revolution.

    • There are no gems born of the revolution; only mierda, and those who eat it, revel in it and love rubbing it all over themselves, like you, were born of the revolution.

  14. Again, you haven’t the foggiest what my feelings are toward the Revolution. I am far from being an apologist for it. In fact, I’ve stated in this post that I don’t agree with Silvio’s politics (which should speak for itself). I suppose the difference between you and me is that I don’t limit my circle of friends and tastes to those that are in complete alignment with my world view. In fact i enjoy interacting with those with whom I disagree. It make life more interesting. I still don’t understand how you conclude that the Revolution is still “kicking me in the ass.” To quote Silvio, “vivo en un país libre…”

  15. Marielito:

    It seems to me that the only one imposing his view on others here is you. I already told you that you are free and have the right to enjoy all the ñangara music your little heart desires. However, you are not free, nor do you have the right, to impose or insist that I, or anyone else, share the same love of ñangaras you do.

    Does your love of ñangaras and their music make you a ñangara? Only you can answer that question.

    But I will tell you this: Your love of a ñangara and his music tells me you love a ñangara and his ñangara music. Whether you like it or not, and no matter how artistically profound you may find the music, it says a lot about you, my friend.

    • You will find more profundity in one contradanza by Saumell, than you’ll find in all of the Revolution’s musical output. So fuck you and your shitty commie musical taste.

  16. I am afraid my musical taste says nothing about my politics. That has been my point in this whole thread. However, your penchant for labeling anyone that doesn’t agree with you 100% as a supporter of the regime is precisely the reason why those that would be predisposed to call for the freedom of the Cuban people are instead struck with the stridently anti-democratic attitudes of Cuban exiles. Unless we change our approach, we will continue to be that caricature that others paint of us.

  17. The Revolution has been one huge disaster any way one wants to look at it. However I have found that even the worst regimes have produced gems on the cultural front. I can think of Eisenstein in the Soviet Union and Riefenstahl in Nazi Germany. The latter in particular is problematic because of her staunch support of Hitler. But her films are so visually striking as to be almost hynoptic. Especially those that sing the praises of the regime.

  18. Marielito:

    Really, you should read everything someone writes before commenting. First the byline, and now this whining that you’re being branded sympathetic to the Castro dictatorship.

    All I said is that your love of Silvio says that you love Silvio. It doesn’t say you are a communist or a Castro supporter.

    It says that you love Silvio…

    Who happens to be a ñanagara…

    You say you look past the politics, and that’s fine, great even. But that doesn’t change the fact that you love Silvio.

    You love Silvio, the ñanagara. And, you’re proud of it and believe it makes you enlightened.

    But it simply means you love a worthless piece of crap that worships the beast that has inflicted your country with death and agony, whom also happens to write pretty ballads.

    That’s your choice, and if anyone is branding anyone else, it is you branding yourself.

  19. I can also point to two artists on different sides of the Spanish political divide. Salvador Dalí supported the Franco regime and Pablo Picasso most definitely had leanings toward the Republic. Yet they are both amazing at what they did! And getting back to Silvio for a second, didn’t you read that he stated that the prisoners should be released? It wasn’t an unqualified statement but a step in the right direction.

  20. George, your response is a perfect example of the sort of mentality that doesn’t help our common cause. My commie days have been over for 30 years and, I say again, my musical taste is no reflection of my politics. Have a good day, my friend! I was waiting for the “commie” comment and you finally delivered it! It’s too easy really!

    • “Salvador Dalí supported the Franco regime and Pablo Picasso most definitely had leanings toward the Republic.”

      The “Republic”? You mean the one loaded with communists and supported by Stalin? That one? Marielito, you just gave yourself away by your own words: only a dyed-in-the-wool fellow traveler would use that phrase. I bet you’d join the Lincoln Brigade, too…

  21. Something tells me, Marielito, that you didn’t become a fan of Silvio after he made his “unqualified” statement.

    But hey, keep on loving those ñangaras, my friend. Keep on humming those tunes…

  22. Marielito,

    You and Silvio and all the new “Mierdas” like you recent Miami arrivals that come here to live the good life and return to Cuba for “vacation” to screw fifteen year old “jineteras” on the first available opportunity and go to los Van-van concerts to fund the Cuban regime can go screw yourself and while in the process can kiss my hardliner Cuban-American traditional exile ass.

    Go fuck-off with your communist new man bullshit someplace else; you don’t belong here in Babalu, the free island on the net without a bearded dictator.

    Hasta la vista asshole, get the fuck out of here and go back to your uncle Fidel Castro and kiss and lick his ass your communist comemierda.

    You barked at the wrong tree, asquerozo sarnozo…

  23. Val,

    Greetings brother…

    You just reminded me of Al Pacino in the Godfather Part 3.

    “I was out but they pulled me back in”


  24. Alberto, I can read quite well, thank you. For starters Val calls me a mental defective and you pretty much insinuate that I support the Revolution. It’s not even worth commenting on George’s and FreedomForCuba’s offensive language. Again, they both more than prove my point about the angry, undemocratic stereotype of the average Cuban exile. I am used to that BS, but others (i.e., those that can help) has zero tolerance for that sort of irrational behavior.

  25. What I like are the songs of a man whose politics I detest. This, no doubt, presents me with a bit of a dilemma (which is for me to contend with), but to pretend that I don’t like his music would be to deny the evidence of my senses (which I refuse to do). Silvio is an artist living in the worst dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere and, particularly because he is an artist, he has the choice between a creative life at the dictator’s discretion, total anomymity, or exile. I could sit here and judge him for making the worst kind of Faustian bargain but I would also have to sit in judgment of the great majority of Cubans (ourselves included) who chooose the easy path. Because I sit here in relative comfort i can’t judge those who daily make compromises to get by. Silvio’s latest statements are a clue to the fact that he, like any other Cuban artist, plays the regime’s game like everyone else. One could still argue that he should make the brave choice and not do the Castro’s bidding, but i can’t because none of us have the guts to stand in front of La plaza de la revolucion and proclaim the errors of the regime. We see what happens to those that do. They end up in jail like my uncle Antonio Diaz Sanchez (one of the prisoners being transfered closer to home). There are very few Cubans like him and it’s only they who have the right to look us all in the eye (we, Silvio, and the rest of Cuba) and ask us what we are REALLY willing to sacrifice for Cuba’s freedom. So unless you are in that exclusive club, you all have some cojones to lecture me.

  26. Mr. Mojito, Che wanted to put my grandfather in front of a firing squad (and traumatized my father for life in the process). Ante up! Do you hate Che because it’s personal or because it’s the tradition you’ve been handed down?

  27. Oh, and George, yes I would have joined the Lincoln Brigade to support the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic. As it turns out destiny had different plans for me so I joined the US Army instead, fighting W’s pointless war in Iraq. Has your ass ever been in the sling for ANY cause or would you just prefer to have others (namely Cuba’s dissidents) to do the dying for you?

  28. marielputa, so Che wanted to put your grandfather in front of a firing squad – and now 40 years later you are going to be in NYC singing:

    “Aprendimos a quererte
    desde la histórica altura
    donde el sol de tu bravura
    le puso cerco a la muerte.

    Aquí se queda la clara,
    la entrañable transparencia,
    de tu querida presencia
    Comandante Che Guevara.”

    … makes perfect sense, you moronic douchebag!

  29. Also I am sure Grandpapi would be proud that he risked el Paredon only to then have a sniveling commie grandson! I bet you voted for President Barack Hussein as well!

    * Also you it seems you have all these stories about being related to dissidents, fighting in Iraq, but no specifics. What’d your Grandpapi do to earn Che’s ire and how’d he escape the wall?

  30. Marielito:

    Don’t come in here and start setting requirements as to whom can say what about Cuba. For someone who claims to hate the Castro regime so much, you sure are quick to use one of their favorite tactics.

    You want to talk about cojones? Then have the cojones to admit the fact that you love the art of a sack of shit. Have the cojones to admit that the Silvio you find so talented works diligently towards oppressing our people. Have the cojones to admit that your personal pleasure is more important to you than standing up for what is right and just. Have the cojones to admit that the choice Silvio made to be a servant to a dictator was a coward’s and opportunist’s choice.

    And don’t you dare equate Silvio Rodriguez with the rest of the Cuban people who have no choices like he does, who cannot come and go as they please like he does, and who do not have bank accounts in foreign banks like he does. Silvio has lived a privileged life for decades, and he will continue to live that life while Castro is alive. And when Castro is gone and liberty returns to Cuba, thanks to people like you, Silvio will continue living a life of luxury. A life financed by the blood and the sweat of our Cuban brothers and sisters who suffered while he played his guitar and traveled the world as Castro’s “ambassador of good will.”

  31. Mr. Mojito you personify the worst of the Cuban exile community with your vulgar attacks. This is what the rest of the world knows of us, so keep it if you want to spend another 50 years in Miami.

    I have already stated that i don’t agree with Silvio’s politics. Your rage must be blinding you from actually reading what I’ve had to say. No, I shan’t be singing along to THAT song. I haven’t taken leave of my senses yet. If you were familiar with Silvio’s work, you would know that the majority of his songs have nothing to do with politics.

    I would encourage you and others in this thread to dispense with the offensive epithets. It gets us nowhere and, in the meantime, our beloved Cuba suffers.

  32. Mr. Mojito. My grandfather was a corporal in the SIM. I was stationed at FOB Abu Ghraib in Iraq with the 301st MP Company. Look it up. My uncle is Antonio Diaz Sanchez. Look him up. I have ben advocating for his medical treatment and/or release for the last 3 years or so (to no avail because the regime has many friends, especially in Congress and abroad).

    Any personal facts you’d like to divulge? As to my politics they are quite self evident. If you are implying that voting Dem makes me a Communist then I know I am speaking with someone devoid of common sense.

  33. “No, I shan’t be singing along to THAT song.

    Con eso lo dices todo, mi socio. Moralidad selectiva.

    Integrity is not so easy to achieve, Marielito, regardless of what the Castro regime taught you.

  34. Alberto, my uncle is proof that every Cuban has a choice to make and the great majority have made the choice to sell themselves for a few trinkets and comforts (exiles, brigadas de repudio, and artists like Silvio fall into this category) or to sit idly by and take it up the ass (which would include the rest of the Cuban people). Again those with the cojones to put their physical freedom on the line and be worthy of the title of Cuban patriot are few and far between and it doesn’t include anyone on this thread (myself included). So, again, it’s only those patriots that can lecture me about the suffering of the Cuban people and so forth. The rest of you can go back to your comfortable lives (and I to mine) when this discussion is over.

  35. Alberto I think that statement is rather consistent. Again you aren’t really familiar with Silvio’s work because you are letting a couple of songs from his repertoire cloud your reaction. I don’t know a bigger gusano than my dad. In fact he used to brag about that while still in Cuba. And he likes Silvio! Why? Because isn’t just about spewing propaganda. Trust me. If that were all Silvio is about (which he isn’t) i’d be really turned off. To illustrate my point there is another cantautor from PR by the name of Danny Rivera. Can’t stand him because all he sings about is revolutionary songs.

  36. Tell you what, Marielito, I know more than a few “Cuban Patriots” that more than meet your definition of the term here in Miami. Why don’t we all get together with them and you can bring your Silvio Rodriguez CDs and explain to them how you’re just into the music, not the politics.

  37. Alberto, denying myself the pleasure of Silvio would be a form of mortification that would be an entirely empty gesture on my part because it wouldn’t bring us any closer to freedom in Cuba. THAT will require the complacent and complicit masses to get behind the dissident movement, clamor for the release of all political prisoners, and insist on free and fair elections (something my uncle called for as part of Proyecto Varela). But they lack cojones; the same way we do. Because nobody wants to die.

  38. “Exiles” sold themselves for a few trinkets? FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER. I hope the spirit of every victim of the regime you love haunts your miserable piece of shit ass for eternity.

  39. Come on, Marielito, I know a few Cuban dudes down here in Miami that can barely walk their cojones are so big. Why don’t you bring your Silvio CD collection and help “enlighten” them to the romantic and poetic side of the Castroite piece of crap?

    You say you’ll only accept critique from Cubans with cojones, right? Here’s your chance, compañero.

  40. “denying myself the pleasure of Silvio would be a form of mortification that would be an entirely empty gesture on my part ”

    What a crock of shit this is…

  41. “Life is a little more complicated than that and it is possible for a gusano to appreciate and enjoy those few cultural gems (such as Silvio) born out of the Revolution.”

    I’m about to puke…

  42. “I haven’t taken leave of my senses yet. If you were familiar with Silvio’s work, you would know that the majority of his songs have nothing to do with politics.”

    You idiot, there would be no Silvio songs for you to enjoy were he not an ambassador for fidel. Every penny you spend on his songs fattens the regime so say you destest. You also say voting democratic doesn’t make you a communist. Yet you have no problem supporting communist “artists”, and voting for the party aligned with communists.

    At best this makes you a hypocrite and a coward, a useful idiot aiding and abetting the murderous regime responsible for the destruction of your country.

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