Archive for July 26th, 2010

26 De Julio

In the week leading up to 26 de Julio, the annual celebration of the Cuban Revolution, officials in Spain expressed hope that Cuba’s announcement that the “government’s wish is to free all the people”—at least all those not convicted of murder—might lead to better relations with the nations of Europe, and perhaps even the cessation, at last, of the US blockade of the island.

Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told the Spanish parliament that such a release would yield “political consequences” for relations with the EU and the US, in particular a possible “lifting of the embargo” that the US has stubbornly maintained since 1962.

In a Spain-brokered deal between the Vatican and Cuba, the latter agreed this month to free 52 of 75 prisoners sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of up to 28 years. Twenty have already emigrated to Spain with their families. Moratinos said there was nothing “coincidental” about these releases—they are the fruit of a six-year dialogue between the Spanish and Cuban governments.

Moratinos said the freeing of these prisoners should enable the EU to soften its joint position on Cuba, enacting a “cooperation accord”—despite reluctance from such US-friendly EU nations as France and Germany.

Cuban dissidents claim that, besides the 52 prisoners due for release, Cuba continues to imprison 115 political prisoners. Though that number, as the Miami Herald pointed out today, seems somewhat inflated.

The US embargo is deeply dumb, and should have been tossed in the dustbin of history, long ago. Whether Barack Obama—who, as is well known, is a Marxist, just like Fidel Castro—will elect to set off the ceaseless screaming that would commence, from both GOoPers and the more retrogade elements of the Cuban exile community, in lifting the embargo, no one at present knows.

Though Cuba has been the subject of ceaseless bloviations, in numberless American political campaigns, over the past 40-some years, not much is really known about the country and its history, up here in its historically meddlesome neighbor, but 90 miles to the north.

Two years ago Alexa wrote for Never In Our Names several superb, illuminating pieces centering around 26 de Julio. Long excerpts from two of them, “Subpoena Power, Sugarcane and Sundries on Sunday” and “History Will Absolve Me, v.1.0.” are featured beyond the “furthur.”

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What’s Good: Malaysia

It’s Monday, so what the hell: let’s put on the Happy Face.

Collected here are some genuinely good-news pieces from out of Malaysia. Malaysia, like all artificial European-colonial constructs, has had its problems, some of which I’ve addressed here and here. But the people there, they’re trying. As these pieces will hopefully show.

Malaysian immigration officials in Kedah state raided a house of bondage and rescued 71 women who had been forced for more than two years to work without pay as housecleaners. The women, originally from Indonesia, had been lured to Malaysia on promises that they could earn $160 a month as maids. Once they arrived, recruiters seized their passports, locked them up in a house, and sent them out every day to work, without pay, in cleaning houses. Some of the women were as young as 17; the men who enslaved them could face up to 15 years in prison on human-trafficking charges. It is estimated that some 2 million people from countries outside Malaysia, mostly its poorer neighbors, work in Malaysia in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and service industries. Claims of overwork, underpay, and sometimes even physical abuse, it is said, “are common.” Sorta like in the US.

Malaysian Muslim clerics have decreed that while soccer uniforms featuring devils, crosses, and skulls promote the “wrong value,” they do not believe such items should be banned.

For reasons I do not want to think about right now, the British soccer team Manchester United is particularly popular in Malaysia. The team’s emblem is a red devil holding a trident, and the players are ofttimes referred to as “the Red Devils.”

Though he and his fellows are not interested in banning the things, Muslim cleric Harussani Zakaria says: “We just advise people not to wear this. Satan is, for us, our enemy. It’s the wrong value. Satan is always bad.”

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Logging The Library Of Congress

Always I’m reminded of French Peak up here. French Peak, for those who haven’t kept track of it in the last ten years, is a place that they have been wanting to log so bad for so long that they don’t really even want to log it any more, they want to fight about it. There are no roads through it, no wires through it—it exists at an elevation, about an hour from Eugene here, that no other wilderness area exists at.

At one argument we were having about the French Peak area, a logger stood up and said, “All these long hairs, these ecologists, and stuff like that, they never go up there. They’re just talking about it like it’s an abstract idea. We’re loggers and we know the place. We want to get into it.” He says, “You’re probably not even going to go up there this year.” And I said, “That’s probably right. I’m probably not going to go to the Library of Congress, either, but I don’t want it logged.”

I want it there forever, just like I want the Great Pyramid there forever so that I can go and look at it. “My God, look at that. There’s that pyramid. I’ve seen it all my life on a pack of Camels; it’s there; it exists on the face of this earth; it belongs to me.”

—Ken Kesey


When I Worked

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