The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Cuba

The Cocaine International

by fpman

Interesting news from Albania.

Former Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha’s nephew, Ermal Hoxha, was arrested yesterday during a police raid on a cocaine laboratory in the village of Xibrake, south of the Albanian capital Tirana. Over a 100 kg of cocaine and four tons of additive materials were seized, and two Colombian citizens were also netted in the operation, preceded by a joint investigation of German and Albanian police.

The cocaine originates “from Cuba,” it is reported, although given the presence of Colombians one would think otherwise. Cuba may certainly have served as a transit point along the substance’s route to Europe, on its way towards Germany, though.

Drug cartels began making airdrops of cocaine along Cuba’s shores, for pickup by speedboats headed to Florida, a very long time ago. These drops have also proved sufficient to serve a good part of what domestic market there is for the substance in Cuba. It is small wonder if eventually some Cuban officials got involved and if participation in long-distance trade is a result in what is thus a more permissive environment for related transactions (with officials closing their eyes or actively joining).

If there truly is a link to Cuba in this particular case, a Hoxha’s involvement may possibly be further sign of this trend.

Even though both were Communist countries, Albania and Cuba did not have an entirely convenient link between each other during Communist times. Cuba was backed by the Soviets whom Albanians turned away from (in the post-Stalin period, for a mix of ideological and geopolitical reasons). Cuba and Albania did maintain ties, however, and people from one side may have known people from the other in the past in their case. Which means there may be some ideologically grounded fraternity (or at least the memory thereof) between them. And it also means that some of the people that these people knew in their own respective countries may now know each other, too — and may conspire, although this is purely speculation of course.

Hoxha_StalinRemember Stalin? The late Enver Hoxha at his desk, Stalin’s portrait hanging above his head

“La primera vez”: Mariela Castro’s pseudo-historic “No”

by fpman

Here at the Patrimony we are not subject to the Chinese government’s ongoing attempt to teach journalists “to learn Marxist news values,” and thus, in our ideologically underinformed state, we cannot quite decide if the following piece of news qualifies as revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or neither of those, in terms of classical socialist doctrine.

The link goes to an article in Spanish, the greatest part of which you can read here in English.

In short: Mariela Castro, Raúl Castro’s daughter, and consequently Fidel Castro’s niece, has recently voted no on proposed labor legislation in the Cuban parliament, in la Asamblea del Poder Popular — the Assembly of People’s Power that is powered by people who say yes to everything twice a year. In case you were worried as to what this might mean for labor code modernization in Cuba, the legislation safely passed, in spite of this very noteworthy resistance. Mariela Castro’s “No” was a lonely No, not only on the given day but historically speaking, too. A first-time No in the assembly. And that is of course the revolutionary aspect of all of this. Or a counter-revolutionary aspect of this… Or… let’s try to understand this a little more.

Here’s a photo of Mariela, demanding release of the Miami Five as they are known in Cuba, from US President Barack Obama — and then here’s a bit of background on her, too.

MarielaCastroMariela Castro (photo: Javier Galeano, AP)

Even as Mariela has her list of demands for President Obama, she is known as the one member of the Castro family who openly says she would vote for him in US presidential elections. This is largely related to her views as an LGBT activist, and her way of supporting Obama’s stance on gay marriage. She is also the odd one out in the family having travelled to the US in the past to attend a conference of the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco, in 2011. She is a scholar, after all, and she has published several articles in the Cuban journal Sexology and Society, as president of the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education.

In fact, the recent, historic “No” comes connected to Mariela’s activism. She voted the way she did because she was apparently concerned that the new labor law does not provide protection from discrimination to people who are HIV positive or have atypical gender identities.

Now ain’t that nice. However, if one goes all philosophical about this, there is more to the problematique of this parliamentary-familial mini-revolt to polemize about than an implicit clash of traditional and new leftist thinking and core values. Some observers claim that the new Cuban labor law to which the people’s power has given its seal of approval so eagerly, minus the one person in question who didn’t, is actually exposing private sector employees as a relatively weakly protected segment of the labor force. In a country where the private sector is growing.

Given that the one person who said “No” voted the way she did for reasons unrelated to this, yet framing her actions as a stance in favor of what by implication would be an “even more impeccable” labor law than the one presented as good enough for a socialist country, one gets the impression that this “No” is, well, a semi-tolerated, semi-sanctioned one — one that is meant to legitimize rather than de-legitimize.

And yet a first is a first. A case of organized spontaneity this may have been — it may still be followed by more actual spontaneity.