Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Union Sovietica. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Union Sovietica. Mostrar todas las entradas

domingo, enero 25, 2015

Las cárceles rusas, en el Varadero poscomunista

Un singular descubrimiento de Jorge Ferrer y excelente post que puede ser leido en su blog  El Tono de la Voz >>
en marketing: segmentacion del mercado y posicionamiento en un nicho.

martes, noviembre 18, 2014

Drool: Ivan Pavlov’s real quest

Pavlov (operating on a dog in 1902) ran his lab like a factory; dogs were his machines.
As a college student, B. F. Skinner gave little thought to psychology. He had hoped to become a novelist, and majored in English. Then, in 1927, when he was twenty-three, he read an essay by H. G. Wells about the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. The piece, which appeared in the Times Magazine, was ostensibly a review of the English translation of Pavlov’s “Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex.” But, as Wells pointed out, it was “not an easy book to read,” and he didn’t spend much time on it. Instead, Wells described Pavlov, whose systematic approach to physiology had revolutionized the study of medicine, as “a star which lights the world, shining down a vista hitherto unexplored.”
That unexplored world was the mechanics of the human brain. Pavlov had noticed, in his research on the digestive system of dogs, that they drooled as soon as they saw the white lab coats of the people who fed them. They didn’t need to see, let alone taste, the food in order to react physically. Dogs naturally drooled when fed: that was, in Pavlov’s terms, an “unconditional” reflex. When they drooled in response to a sight or sound that was associated with food by mere happenstance, a “conditional reflex” (to a “conditional stimulus”) had been created. Pavlov had formulated a basic psychological principle—one that also applied to human beings—and discovered an objective way to measure how it worked.
Skinner was enthralled. Two years after reading the Times Magazine piece, he attended a lecture that Pavlov delivered at Harvard and obtained a signed picture, which adorned his office wall for the rest of his life. Skinner and other behaviorists often spoke of their debt to Pavlov, particularly to his view that free will was an illusion, and that the study of human behavior could be reduced to the analysis of observable, quantifiable events and actions.
But Pavlov never held such views, according to “Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science” (Oxford), an exhaustive new biography by Daniel P. Todes, a professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In fact, much of what we thought we knew about Pavlov has been based on bad translations and basic misconceptions. That begins with the popular image of a dog slavering at the ringing of a bell. Pavlov “never trained a dog to salivate to the sound of a bell,” Todes writes. “Indeed, the iconic bell would have proven totally useless to his real goal, which required precise control over the quality and duration of stimuli (he most frequently employed a metronome, a harmonium, a buzzer, and electric shock).”
Pavlov is perhaps best known for introducing the idea of the conditioned reflex, although Todes notes that he never used that term. It was a bad translation of the Russian uslovnyi, or “conditional,” reflex. For Pavlov, the emphasis fell on the contingent, provisional nature of the association—which enlisted other reflexes he believed to be natural and unvarying. Drawing upon the brain science of the day, Pavlov understood conditional reflexes to involve a connection between a point in the brain’s subcortex, which supported instincts, and a point in its cortex, where associations were built. Such conjectures about brain circuitry were anathema to the behaviorists, who were inclined to view the mind as a black box. Nothing mattered, in their view, that could not be observed and measured. Pavlov never subscribed to that theory, or shared their disregard for subjective experience. He considered human psychology to be “one of the last secrets of life,” and hoped that rigorous scientific inquiry could illuminate “the mechanism and vital meaning of that which most occupied Man—our consciousness and its torments.” Of course, the inquiry had to start somewhere. Pavlov believed that it started with data, and he found that data in the saliva of dogs.
Pavlov’s research originally had little to do with psychology; it focussed on the ways in which eating excited salivary, gastric, and pancreatic secretions. To do that, he developed a system of “sham” feeding. Pavlov would remove a dog’s esophagus and create an opening, a fistula, in the animal’s throat, so that, no matter how much the dog ate, the food would fall out and never make it to the stomach. By creating additional fistulas along the digestive system and collecting the various secretions, he could measure their quantity and chemical properties in great detail. That research won him the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. But a dog’s drool turned out to be even more meaningful than he had first imagined: it pointed to a new way to study the mind, learning, and human behavior.

sábado, noviembre 08, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 25th Anniversary

In this Nov. 11, 1989, photo, East German border guards are seen through a gap in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down a segment of it at Brandenburg gate. (LIONEL CIRONNEAU/Associated Press)
Documents show accident and contingency, anxiety in world capitals
East German crowds led the way, with help from Communist fumbles, self-fulfilling TV coverage, Hungarian reformers, Czechoslovak pressure, and Gorbachev's non-violence
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 490
Posted November 9, 2014
For more information contact:
Thomas Blanton and Svetlana Savranskaya - 202/994-7000,

Washington, DC, November 9, 2014 The iconic fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago today shocked international leaders from Washington to Moscow, London to Warsaw, as East German crowds took advantage of Communist Party fumbles to break down the Cold War's most symbolic barrier, according to formerly secret documents from Soviet, German, U.S., Czechoslovak and Hungarian files posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (
The historic events of the night of November 9, 1989 came about from accident and contingency, rather than conspiracy or strategy, according to the documents. Crowds of East Berliners, already conditioned by months of refugee flights to the West and weeks of peaceful mass protests in cities like Leipzig, seized on media reports of immediate changes in travel restrictions — based on a bumbled briefing by a Politburo member, Gunter Schabowski — and inundated the Wall's checkpoints demanding passage. Television coverage of the first crossing that yielded to the self-fulfilling media prophecy then created a multiplier effect and more crowds came, ultimately to dance on the Wall.
The documents show that the actual collapse of the Wall began with Hungarian Communist reformers who proposed in early 1989 to open their borders to the West, while seeking particularly West German foreign investment to solve Hungary's economic crisis. Hungarian Communist leaders checked in with Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in March 1989, letting him know they planned to take down the barbed wire; and Gorbachev — true to his "common European home" rhetoric — responded only that "we have a strict regime on our borders, but we are also becoming more open." (Document 1) The Hungarian decision sparked a stream and then a flood of East German refugees.

Abandoned East German Trabants
line the streets of Prague.
Gorbachev himself unintentionally gave a signal that the Wall could fall in his press conference on June 15, 1989 after a successful visit to West Germany, where in response to a question about the Wall, he said that "nothing [was] permanent under the Moon" and connected German rapprochement to the building of the common European home. In fact, his conversations with Kohl and other members of the West German government created a real breakthrough in Soviet-FRG relations, which would stand Kohl in good stead in the difficult reunification talks during the next year (Document 2). Gorbachev especially reinforced the theme of European unity in his speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg where he presented his vision of the common European home on July 7, 1989. After speaking about an essentially united Europe based on universal human values, it would be hard to argue in favor of its continued division.
By August 1989, the Hungarian-initiated refugee crisis had become so acute that the West German embassy in Budapest had to shut down, unable to handle the hundreds of East Germans camped out there for visas. On August 19, Hungarian reformers even hosted a "Pan-European picnic" near the Austrian border, after which some 300 East Germans high-tailed across the former Iron Curtain. The subsequent negotiations on August 25, 1989 between Hungarian Communist leaders with West German chancellor Helmut Kohl and foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher show the Hungarian calculation that only the deutschmark could save them, and by mid-September the Hungarians lifted all East-West controls (Document 3).

East German demonstrators take to the streets in Leipzig, October 9, 1989.
Other world leaders were not at all eager for the Wall to fall, notably the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who told Gorbachev on September 23 to ignore those NATO communiqués about German unification, that even her buddy, U.S. president George H. W. Bush opposed that kind of change (she would be wrong, when the time came. See document 4). As Gorbachev later commented to his Politburo on November 3, the West did not want German unification, but it wanted to prevent it "with our hands, to push us against the FRG" so as to head off any future Soviet-German cooperation — but Gorbachev believed European integration was the ultimate solution to Soviet economic problems (Document 6).
Czechoslovakia was closer to East Germany than Hungary was, and after Hungary opened its gates, Prague quickly filled with East Germans willing to dump their Trabant cars in the streets for a chance to clamber over an embassy wall and flee to the West. By November 8, Prague had become so choked with East Germans that the hard-line Czechoslovak Communist Party's Central Committee made a demarche to East Berlin demanding they open their borders — a moment of pressure from fellow Communists that played a key role in the East German party's decision to announce revised travel regulations the next day (Document 7).
The draft regulations were full of temporizing language and largely intended to let off steam while kicking the emigrant problem down the road. East Germans would have to apply for visas, and the vast majority who lacked passports would have to wait even longer for those. But the presentation of the new regulations came at the very end of a botched press conference from 6 to 7 p.m. Berlin time on November 9 by SED Politburo member Gunter Schabowski, who did not know the back story, the hedges, the limitations meant by the drafters of the documents. Visibly rattled from the shouted questions about travel and the Wall, Schabowski read from his briefing papers the words "immediately, without delay" when asked about the timing of the changes that would allow any East German to emigrate (Document 9).
Television news and the wire services as well promptly announced the opening of the borders, and in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy reinforced by TV coverage, crowds of East Germans massed at the border crossings and ultimately persuaded the senior official at the largest inner-city checkpoint at Bornholmer Strasse to open the gates (a story told in fresh detail by Mary Elise Sarotte in her new book, The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall). Once Bornholmer opened, other crossings soon followed; and within hours, people were chipping off souvenir fragments from the concrete panels formerly surrounded by a "death strip" in which earlier Wall jumpers had died.
So unexpected was the Wall opening that Helmut Kohl himself was not even in the country. Instead, the West German chancellor had gone to Warsaw to meet the new Solidarity leaders of that country, and work out some long-standing Polish-German tensions. The transcript of Kohl's discussions with Lech Walesa show the Polish leader complaining that events in East Germany were simply moving too fast, and even predicting, presciently, that the Wall would fall in a week or two — at which point Kohl would have no time (or money) for poor Poland (Document 8).
In Washington, the George H. W. Bush White House greeted the fall of the Wall not with joy or triumphalism (that would come much later, when the President was running for re-election in 1992), but anxiety and even fear about instability. When questioned by reporters why he did not show more elation, President Bush replied, "I am not an emotional kind of guy." (Document 10)
Bush's caution and prudence were appreciated in Moscow, where Gorbachev's messages to Kohl centered on preventing chaos and reducing instability, keeping "others within limits that are adequate for the time being…." (Document 11)
But at Gorbachev's side, his foreign policy adviser Anatoly Chernyaev in private let loose with one of the very few high-level expressions of real joy about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Chernyaev's diary entry for November 10, 1989 (Document 12) contains the coda for the demise of the Iron Curtain, "the end of Yalta" and the Stalinist system, and a good thing, about time, in Chernyaev's remarkable view.

lunes, junio 09, 2014

Vladimir Putin: Volgograd Could Be Stalingrad Again With Votes

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims he does not want to put back together the USSR, but the little things he does says otherwise. 

Nikita Krushchev changed the city to Volgograd in 1961 to de-Stalinize the USSR. From the Associated Press:
But regional lawmakers decided last year to use the historic name in some city statements related to the war, angering many in Russia, where Stalin's name and legacy continues to cause fiery disputes. Putin made the statement Friday during a meeting with Russian war veterans in Normandy, France, where he attended D-Day commemorations.
Responding to a veteran's suggestion to restore the name of Stalingrad, Putin said it could be decided by a public vote.
This is not a surprise, though. In January 2013, the Volgograd city council said that for six days in a year the city will be known as Stalingrad. One of the days is February 2, which was the last day of the historic and bloody Battle of Stalingrad. This battle is the reason why the city is so important to Russia. The Russians fought the Nazis from August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943 at Stalingrad and was the turning point on the Eastern Front. The German 6th Army was destroyed and the Axis started to retreat from the East. A total of 1.7-2 million on both sides, including civilians, were killed.
Yet, it could be renamed for other reasons. Putin said the fall of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. He was a top KGB man in St. Petersburg before he moved to Moscow. During his first presidency and when he was prime minister, he bullied ex-Soviet states in order to dissuade them from forming closer ties to the West and Europe. In 2008, Russia and Georgia engaged in a war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It did not last long, but it is one of the reasons why Georgia wants to join NATO.
Former Georgian Prime Minister and representative to NATO Ambassador Grigol Mgaloblishvili told Breitbart News Russia wants to cripple much of Eastern Europe.
“The main objective of Russia is to regain its sphere of influence over the post-Soviet states,” he said. “After violating international law, after invading and occupying territories of European nations and violating the basic principles and consensuses of the post-Cold War order, Moscow has not paid any political price.”
His latest power grab is Ukraine. He bullied President Viktor Yanukovych to turn down a trade deal with the European Union for a $15 billion bailout and cheap gas. Russia cut the price of gas to $268.50. Yanukovych’s actions were met with a three-month protest in Kiev and he was ousted on February 22. In retaliation, Russia and Gazprom decided to use gas as a political tool and raised the price to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters. Gazprom also threatened to cut off gas if Ukraine does not pay off its debt and Putin made a few remarks that Europe’s supply could be in danger if they do not help Ukraine.
In mid-March, Putin annexed Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, from Ukraine to "protect the ethnic Russians and Russian speakers" in the country. Pro-Russian forces erupted in east Ukraine after Crimea was annexed, but Putin claimed Russia was not involved. Donetsk and Luhansk held a referendum on May 11 and claimed independence from Kiev. On May 25, it was revealed Chechens from Russia were in Donetsk. These men told Courtney Weaver from Financial Times that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is very friendly with Putin, sent them. The new prime minister of Donetsk People’s Republic is Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen from Moscow.
Due to Russia’s actions, other countries believe they might be Putin’s next target. A Russian diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council that Moscow is concerned about the treatment of Russian speakers in Estonia. Russia’s ambassador to Latvia told a radio station Russia will grant citizenship to ethnic Russians in the country.
Moscow implemented a new law that accelerates the citizenship process for any ethnic Russian or Russian speakers from another country. They also passed a law that allows them to intervene in a country they feel are mistreating any ethnic Russians or Russian speakers.

jueves, mayo 15, 2014

'Soviet Times': the Real Russian Catastrophe

Vladimir Putin has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest catastrophe of the 20th Century. Western leaders have been quick to brand this as old-fashioned thinking. 
Their condescension sounds eerily like Neville Chamberlain’s remark that Hitler “missed the bus” in the Czech crisis.
The “bus” the Russians have missed is not failure to accept the breakup of the Soviet Empire. Rather, the great “catastrophe” of the 20th Century was its very existence. Behind this difference lies the amnesia that enables President Putin’s adventurism in the Ukraine and his determination to put the wheels back on a malevolent and lethal machine.
In 1989, the entire world witnessed the defeat of the Soviet Union across every front: ideology, economics, technology, and moral philosophy. This purported “catastrophe” freed enslaved satellite states from the terror and autocracy exported by the Bolsheviks across Eastern Europe.
Initially the Russian people joined with central and eastern Europeans in shedding the corporeal and spiritual chains of totalitarianism. But the moment proved fleeting when the Russians looked into the abyss and recoiled.
Russians now refer to their entire history from 1917 through 1989 as “Soviet Times.” Not Communist Era or the Reign of the Bolsheviks. Not the Red Terror or the Evil Empire. They instead adopted an anodyne phrase that has the ring of a Californian’s recollection of forbears who came from “somewhere back east.”
“Soviet Times” are comfortably moored far away from anyone’s experience or understanding, like a mysterious civilization that melted into the Siberian forests, leaving behind no people, artifacts, or runes. The disastrous policies and practices, the systematized cruelties, the twisted logic, and the murderous paranoia are lodged in some other universe of the mind, providing no leaven for thought or opinion, and certainly no instinct to examine with skepticism the leadership of Russia Redux.
Leningrad has reverted back to St. Petersburg to get the stink off of its name. Yet Lenin’s corpse still molders on display in Red Square. The Communist Party is now a maligned splinter group, but Putin’s United Russia Party is led by the nomenklatura of the old CPSU. Artwork confiscated by the Bolsheviks is still hanging in the Winter Palace innocuously labeled “from the collection of” the victim, while masterpieces looted in World War II are proudly displayed as glorious battle trophies. GUM department store in Red Square is now a luxury mall that would make a Kardashian blush, but the missile parade and goosestepping still headline the May Day parade. 
One looks in vain for Russian literature or journalism exposing the predations of the Communist regime during “Soviet Times.” There is no scholarship that draws lessons from the “success” of the Comintern and Stalin in infiltrating and purging foreign political parties, particularly Social Democrats and other home-grown leftists. There is no accounting of how many of the much vaunted 20 million Soviet dead in the “Great Patriotic War” fell at the hands of grossly incompetent generals, “state security organs,” well-armed commissars, and willfully blind apparatchiks.    
Asked what it was like to live under surveillance by the KGB during Soviet Times, Russians will insist that they personally had never been troubled. They have no stories about how the security system co-opted them to report on the “antisocial” activities and thoughts of schoolmates, coworkers, and neighbors. None of them was a member of the Communist Party; none spent youthful days in Komsomol or the Young Pioneers. No one in their families disappeared into the gulags, and no schoolmates died of head shots in the basement of the Lubyanka -- much less prepared transportation manifeststo the Kamchatka death camps, conducted midnight interrogations, or pulled the triggers on antisocial elements.
If this degree of denial seems implausible, consider this item from ITAR/Izvestia. On April 30, as Russia was digesting the Crimea and roiling Ukraine, a deputy foreign minister denounced Western sanctions as “a revival of a system created in 1949 when Western countries essentially lowered an 'Iron Curtain', cutting off supplies of high-tech goods to the USSR and other countries."
So that’s what Winston Churchill was referring to in his Westminster College speech.
Such obliviousness to the postwar grab of Eastern Europe by the Red Army staggers the imagination. Yet it illuminates Russians’ persistence in denying and rewriting their history. It is the same attitude that is reflected in internal polls showing Russians are fervently behind the new aggressiveness of Putin’s regime. They have easily fallen back into the hands of the same bloodthirsty revanchists who ran the system in Soviet Times; indeed, they treat with indifference the ascendancy of a man whose entire career from KGB High School on is the embodiment of the very secrecy, paranoia, and megalomania that oiled the USSR.
So long as Russians remain in denial of their antecedents they will be a belligerent and dangerous force in the world. It will be equivalent to what would have unfolded if the Allies had not insisted on “de-Nazification” of postwar Germany. Germans were not allowed to rebrand and reinstall the Gauleiters, SS commanders, Gestapo thugs, and Nazi party hacks as leaders of the new republic. Sixty years on, Germans are still called to account for newly discovered instances of Nazi cruelty and kleptomania and the shameful collaboration of industrialists, professors, jurists, politicians, and civil servants.
Japan has faced the same reminders of its past wickedness. Like Germany, it has admirably restored itself and its people to the community of nations, but the reminders still come of their brutality in World War II. Efforts to attribute it to long-dead fanatics invariably fall on deaf ears.
South Africa implemented Truth and Reconciliation procedures to bring to the surface the policies and programs of apartheid and racism. The reborn republic defied expectations of a reign of terror by insisting that reconciliation and the integrity of the process be paramount.
When the USSR disintegrated, the Eastern European nations aggressively confronted their Communist past. East Germans literally seized access to the notorious Stasi files, where ordinary citizens read what their government had done to them and who among them regularly reported on “suspicious” activities of friends and colleagues. Similar stories played out in all the Baltic and Central European States. These painful experiences sharply lessen fears of the people returning to the bad old days or the bad old actors.
By contrast, the Russian people today may be fairly compared with Germans after the “Great War.” They were never forced to confront the implications of their very culture losing a titanic clash with the democracies. A generation later, Germany was back on the path to world war. So too the restored states of the Confederacy refused to examine the social constructs that had created and fostered the evils of slavery, the planter aristocracy, and the Civil War. The South truly “rose again,” but in the hands of the same malevolent forces of racism and resentment.
The “catastrophe”of 1989 was the failure of the Russian people to confront Soviet Times for what they were and to identifythe evil forces that they spawned.The ongoing crisis in Europe will not abate unless and until they remedy this failure

sábado, febrero 15, 2014

Stalin's dacha in Sochi: CNN Overlooks 'Uncle Joe' Stalin's Mass-Murder of Millions
B's latest angle on the Sochi Olympics is what could have been a fascinating story about Joseph Stalin and his summer home. Instead what we have is an unbelievably sloppy piece of "journalism."

Built in that city in 1937, twenty years after the October revolution, the murderous dictator's dacha is now a tourist attraction in Sochi. For the uninformed, though, CNN presents "Uncle Joe" as a "notorious dictator," but also a loving family man who did remarkably good things for social justice:
"No doubt that when our leader began to visit Sochi, the city benefited from great development," [tour guide Anna] Hovantseva says.
"Earlier our city was the resort for the nobility, for only rich people. There had been tourists' villas long before Stalin came here.
"But when Stalin began to visit Sochi, he began to develop it as a resort town for all people. Thanks to him, a lot of sanatoriums and hydropathic establishments (and) a road to Matsesta were built. All in all, he did really much for the development of Sochi."
CNN tells us the reclusive "Uncle Joe" -- a man of simple pleasures -- needed the dacha to replenish himself after  a tough day of "ruling over 200 million people":
Nestled in the coniferous, cypress-tree forest of the Matsesta mineral springs area and perched in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, it was seen as the ideal refuge to replenish the man whose day job was ruling over 200 million people. …
"Generally, he liked to be all alone. He loved his wife  Svetlana and his children. He had no friends. He read and thought a lot. He enjoyed hunting. He also loved farming. He grew lemons (for medicinal drinks). So he was an unsociable man, I think."
Stalin might have loved his wife (CNN, the tour guide, or both are incorrect: the wife was named Nadya - Sveltlana was the daughter) but he also serially cheated on her, even with her friends. Nadya shot herself dead in 1932 after a dinner party where he humiliated her in front of another woman.
And Stalin didn't love all his children. He couldn't stand his eldest son from his first marriage or the reprobate son he had with Nadya. Stalin was devoted to his daughter Svetlana … until she betrayed him by falling in love. Stalin had his daughter's first love arrested and banished for ten years to an industrial town near the Arctic Circle where he was likely a slave to The State.
Hitler built the autobahn and Stalin developed Sochi into a "resort town for all people." But in order to complete his oh-so lofty socialist goals, such as resort towns for "all people," Stalin starved, murdered, and personally called for the executions of millions of "all people," and not just the upper class intellectuals, industrialists, and wealthy landowners. Millions of peasants were starved to death; their grain stolen to feed the cities and industrialize the "Motherland."
The day Stalin died in 1953 was the same day millions of Jews were scheduled to be shipped Nazi-style out of their homelands and into the Soviet death camps known as Gulags.
CNN points out that the portraits of Stalin found everywhere in the dacha were only hung after his death. "[S]uch was his dislike of them," CNN adds.
Actually, no. In fact, the complete opposite is true. Stalin commissioned untold numbers of portraits and statues of himself and peppered them throughout the country he terrorized for 25 years. Stalin's likeness was everywhere: streets, homes, businesses, streetcars…. This was how he built a death cult to himself and became Russia's god after destroying thousands of Christian churches and synagogues.
The biggest factual error in this report is that Stalin didn't socialize. All his life, Stalin socialized and took his toadies home after work for dinner, movies, and drinks. Stalin used this "honor" to terrorize the ideologically-pure sociopaths who made up his inner circle. You were either forced to attend (until around 4 a.m.) or frozen out -- which generally meant you could expect to be shot.
 While married to Nadya, the Stalin's Kremlin apartment was a regular compound for friends and children. It was only later after the Purge and the Terror that Stalin traded in his friends for  sycophants. This is what happens when you personally have all but a few friends (and their wives and children) murdered. But only after they were forced to star in show trials and publicly confess to crimes they had not committed (though these gangsters were guilty of almost everything else).
Stalin might have grown lemons and watched Chaplin movies at his Sochi dacha,  but mostly he used it as a place to plan crimes against humanity in the last century rivaled only by Hitler. Can you imagine CNN writing something like this about Hitler? It's different with Stalin, though, because he was ideologically-correct -- you know, not all bad.
One thing Stalin always counted on to spread The Revolution was the "blind kittens" in the left-wing Western media sympathetic to his cause and easily flattered and fooled into covering him favorably.
Some things never change. 

viernes, enero 17, 2014

Last Surviving Member Of Siberian Family Who Isolated Themselves From Society In 1936 Begs The Outside World For Help

Agafia Lykova/ Screenshot
In 1936, fearing persecution from Joseph Stalin's Soviet Russia, the Lykov family cut themselves off from Russian society. They were Old Believers, and thus part of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect that was facing intense persecution from Russia's atheist Bolshevik government in Moscow. The family's patriarch, Karp Lykov, had seen his own brother shot by Communist troops, and decided it was better for his family to escape into the harsh Siberian wilderness.
The family lived in complete isolation, barely knowledgeable of the outside world, for decades. Now there's only one surviving member — a 70-year-old named Agafia who's facing a harsh winter by herself, according to a heartbreaking article in the Siberian Times today.
"I don't know how God will help me survive the winter," she said in a letter to a local newspaper, which was cited by the Siberian Times. "There aren't any logs. I need to get them into the house, and I need to keep reading my prayers. I'm suffocating, and I am getting too cold while doing it when the weather is freezing."
It was only in 1978 that the wider world heard of the Lykov story, when, by chance, a helicopter carrying Soviet geologists looking for a spot to land, discovered the family's base camp, 150 miles away from the nearest known settlement.
Since then, the Lykov family has become something of a legend. They were the family who never learned of World War II; paid no taxes and knew no laws; read only prayer books and an ancient bible; and sustained themselves in one of the world's harshest environments with no outside help and no technology. The discovery of their story was itself tragic, however — three of Karp's eldest children died within weeks of each other shortly after the geologists visited. It's widely believed they died from pneumonia caused by the outsiders' visit.
Last year the incredible story of the Lykovs was brought renewed attention after an article from Mike Dash of Smithsonian Magazine in January. A few months later, Vice Magazine went to the deepest parts of the Siberian taiga to visit the family's last remaining member, Agafia, who was born into the family in 1944 and never knew the outside world. She had lived alone for decades, and told Vice how her only regular contact with the outside world was a radio she now owned.
“I listen to the news about crime and explosions,” Agafia told them. “It’s scary. What’s wrong with [those] people who make suicidal public explosions?”
While Agafia's story made a big splash last year, the media cycle moves on, and the attention was fleeting until today's story in the Siberian Times.
"I am all alone, my years are big, my health is bad, I keep getting ill," Agafia said in the letter cited by the newspaper. "There is a lump on my right breast, and my strength is going. There is a need for a person, a helper, assuming there are kind people in the world, as the world has always had kind people."
The thought of the elderly Agafia facing such a harsh winter is tough. But not all locals are sympathetic — she has been offered a winter home in a local village before, the Siberian Times reports, but has refused it.
"She is being a little cunning," Vladimir Pavlovsky, editor of the local paper Krasnoyarskiy Rabochiy, told the Siberian Times. "She has no hunger. She wants to attract more attention. She has enough cereals, bags of them lie on her porch, and everywhere. And she has enough potatoes."

miércoles, diciembre 25, 2013

Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, died at age of 94

Kalashnikov once aspired to design farm equipment. | AP Photo
"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," he said in 2007.
Kalashnikov died in a hospital in Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurtia republic where he lived, said Viktor Chulkov, a spokesman for the republic's president. He did not give a cause of death. Kalashnikov had been hospitalized for the past month with unspecified health problems.
The AK-47 — "Avtomat Kalashnikov" and the year it went into production — is the world's most popular firearm, favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies. An estimated 100 million guns are spread worldwide.
Though it isn't especially accurate, its ruggedness and simplicity are exemplary: it performs in sandy or wet conditions that jam more sophisticated weapons such as the U.S. M-16.
"During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers," Kalashnikov said in July 2007 at a ceremony marking the rifle's 60th anniversary.
The weapon's suitability for jungle and desert fighting made it nearly ideal for the Third World insurgents backed by the Soviet Union, and Moscow not only distributed the AK-47 widely but also licensed its production in some 30 other countries.
The gun's status among revolutionaries and national-liberation struggles is enshrined on the flag of Mozambique.
Kalashnikov, born into a peasant family in Siberia, began his working life as a railroad clerk. After he joined the Red Army in 1938, he began to show mechanical flair by inventing several modifications for Soviet tanks.
The moment that firmly set his course was in the 1941 battle of Bryansk against Nazi forces, when a shell hit his tank. Recovering from wounds in the hospital, Kalashnikov brooded about the superior automatic rifles he'd seen the Nazis deploy; his rough ideas and revisions bore fruit five years later.
"Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov. "I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery."
In 2007, President Vladimir Putin praised him, saying "The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people."
Over his career, he was decorated with numerous honors, including the Hero of Socialist Labor and Order of Lenin and Stalin Prize. But because his invention was never patented, he didn't get rich off royalties.
"At that time in our country patenting inventions wasn't an issue. We worked for Socialist society, for the good of the people, which I never regret," he once said.
Kalashnikov continued working into his late 80s as chief designer of the Izmash company that first built the AK-47. He also traveled the world helping Russia negotiate new arms deals, and he wrote books on his life, about arms and about youth education.
"After the collapse of the great and mighty Soviet Union so much crap has been imposed on us, especially on the younger generation," he said. "I wrote six books to help them find their way in life."
He said he was proud of his bronze bust installed in his native village of Kurya in the Siberian region of Altai. He said newlyweds bring flowers to the bust. "They whisper 'Uncle Misha, wish us happiness and healthy kids,'" he said. "What other gun designer can boast of that?"
10 things about Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, died at age 94 Monday after a decorated career in the Russian military. His signature invention has been reproduced more than 100 million times since 2009, and is the world’s most popular firearm. Here are 10 things you should know about Mikhail Kalashnikov:
1. He aspired to be a poet. As a boy, Kalashnikov loved machinery but also had an affinity for poetry. He wrote poetry all his life, along with six books.
2. He once hitchhiked home to Russia. Kalashnikov was born in Kurya, Russia, but his family was deported to Siberia under the Stalin regime when he was a child. He left them to return to Kurya after the seventh grade, hitch-hiking nearly 1,000 kilometers, or more than 600 miles.
3. His son is also an arms dealer. Kalashnikov had four children with his engineer wife, Ekaterina Viktorovna Moiseyeva. Their youngest son, Victor, is a prominent small arms dealer who invented the PP-19 Bizon submachine gun.
4. He was injured in the military. Kalashnikov joined the military at 19 and served in the Russian tank division, where he invented improvements to the tanks. When he was injured by the Nazis in the Battle of Bryansk, he began working on weapons creation throughout his recovery.
5. The AK-47 is named after him. Kalashnikov’s signature invention, the AK-47 stands for “Avtomat Kalashnikov.” Avtomat is Russian for “automatic,” and 1947 was the year he invented it at age 28.
6. He has a line of vodka. Produced in St. Petersburg, Kalashnikov Vodka uses water from Lake Ladoga and is classified as a luxury export. It’s one degree stronger than regular vodka and sometimes called “military strength.”
7. He wasn’t motivated by money. Kalashnikov often said money wasn’t important to him but that he was motivated by service to his country. He was driven to design his first rifle by early Russian defeats in WWII to better-armed Germans. “I don’t like luxury,” he said. “I am after a simple decent life.”
8. He was a hunter. Kalashnikov took up hunting with his father to feed his family. He remained an avid hunter for the rest of his life, including a yearly moose hunting trip up into his 90s.
9. He had a big family. Kalashnikov was the 17th of 19 children born to his peasant parents. Only eight children survived to adulthood, and at age 6, Kalashnikov nearly died of illness himself.
10. He regretted terrorists getting hold of his inventions. At 82, Kalashnikov said he was proud of his invention, but that if he had it to do over again, he would invent something less destructive. “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example, a lawnmower,” he said. However, asked how he felt about sleeping knowing that many had died from his work, he answered: “‘I sleep very well, thank you.”

viernes, mayo 24, 2013

La noche en que Churchill y Stalin se fueron de fiesta

BBC Mundo
Winston Churchill y Joseph Stalin
Rusia y Reino Unido firmaron un pacto para luchar contra Alemania en 1941.
Las conversaciones en tiempo de guerra entre el británico Winston Churchill y el georgiano Joseph Stalin resultaban muy incómodas hasta que un día ambos decidieron beber juntos hasta las 3 de la madrugada, según muestran archivos recientemente desclasificados.
En una información publicada por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la visita a Moscú en 1942, un funcionario recuerda haber encontrado a los dos hombres disfrutando de "comida de todo tipo... y un sinnúmero de botellas".
Estaban "más felices que unas castañuelas" aunque Churchill "se quejaba de un leve dolor de cabeza" hacia la una de la madrugada.
La carta añade: "Los dos grandes hombres realmente hicieron migas".
En las anotaciones de Alexander Cadogan, quien fue subsecretario permanente del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Reino Unido, se puede leer que esta reunión establecería unas condiciones en que "los mensajes intercambiados tendrían un mayor significado que anteriormente".
La primera reunión con Stalin durante su viaje "fascinó" al primer ministro británico, antes de una segunda reunión en la que el líder ruso abordó el asunto "más delicado que encontró".
La carta es uno de los casi 600 archivos relacionados con la inteligencia británica que fueron desclasificados, datan de entre 1936 y 1951.
Cadogan escribe: "Fue exactamente la misma estrategia que utilizó en diciembre pasado cuando, en la primera reunión, todo era miel y en la segunda, todo salió mal. Una técnica muy extraña, no entiendo bien la intención de la misma".
Y continúa: "Esto creó un ambiente enrarecido, que no mejoró durante el banquete en la noche siguiente. No hay nada más terrible que un banquete del Kremlin, aunque teníamos que aguantar".
"Desafortunadamente, a Winston (Churchill) se le notaba que no podía soportarlo", concluye.


Los líderes superaron sus diferencias a la noche siguiente durante unas nuevas conversaciones, que Churchill solicitó a condición de que fueran a solas con Stalin. El entonces primer ministro británico se vio "decidido a disparar su último chartucho".
Después de que la reunión comenzara a las 19:00, era ya la una de la madrugada cuando Alexander Cadogan fue "convocado a acudir al despacho de Stalin en el Kremlin".
Cadogan anota: "Allí me encontré con Winston, Stalin y Vyacheslav Molotov -ministro de Relaciones Exteriores ruso-, que se había unido a ellos, sentados compartiendo una bandeja muy cargada de alimentos de todo tipo, coronada por un cochinillo, y un sinnúmero de botellas.
"Lo que Stalin me hizo beber parecía bastante salvaje. Winston, quien en ese momento se estaba quejando de un leve dolor de cabeza, parecía sabiamente limitarse a beber un vino tinto europeo inocuo y efervescente", agrega.
La hospitalidad de Stalin era conocida por la implicación en sus reuniones de grandes cantidades de alcohol, puesto que prefería negociar con los grandes bebedores.
Cadogan confía en la carta que "Winston, ciertamente, estaba impresionado; y creo que ese sentimiento era recíproco".
"Es muy difícil conseguir esa sensación, sobre todo a través de intérpretes. Aunque, por ejemplo, en una ocasión Stalin respondió a un comunicado de Winston 'No estoy de acuerdo con ello, pero me gusta el espíritu'", escribe.
La carta descubre, someramente, la guinda de la reunión: "Nos hemos escapado poco después de las 3 de la madrugada, teniendo así el tiempo justo para llegar al hotel, hacer las maletas, e irnos hacia el aeródromo sobre las 4:15 de la madrugada".
Esta carta es uno de los casi 600 archivos del gobierno británico, casi todos en relacionados con el servicio de inteligencia y que datan de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y los primeros años de la Guerra Fría (1936-1951), que acaba de publicar los Archivos Nacionales del Reino Unido.

miércoles, marzo 06, 2013

Missing Soviet war veteran found living in Afghanistan 33 years after combat

Soviet war veteran Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in action 33
years ago, but has now been found living under the name Sheikh Abdullah
and working as a healer. Alexander Lawrentjew / dpa via AP
MOSCOW — A Soviet war veteran reported missing in action during fighting in Afghanistan 33 years ago has been found living as a local healer in the province of Herat, news agency Ria reported.
The soldier, who was rescued by Afghans after being wounded in the first months after the Soviet Union's invasion in 1979, was tracked down by a Moscow-based group of war veterans.
A native of the former Soviet Central Asian state of Uzbekistan, he now goes by the name of Sheikh Abdullah and has adopted the local dress and profession of the healer who nursed him back to health.
The deputy head of the Afghan war veterans' committee said Abdullah, whose given name is Bakhretdin Khakimov, mostly had forgotten the Russian language and never tried to contact his relatives after suffering severe head trauma in the fighting.
Alexander Lavrentyev, who met with Abdullah in Herat last month, said the veteran, who was 20 when he went missing, still bore the scars of his injury. His face is creased by a nervous tic and his hand and shoulder shake.
"He was just happy he survived,'' Lavrentyev was quoted by Ria as saying at a presser in Moscow on Monday.
The committee says it has found 29 of 264 soldiers still listed as missing from the bloody decade-long conflict. It said seven of those it contacted chose to stay in Afghanistan.
Some 15,000 Soviet troops were killed in the fighting that followed the Soviet Union's incursion to support a communist vassal government in Kabul against Islamist mujahideen fighters armed by the United States.

viernes, marzo 01, 2013

El ballet y la propaganda

Stalin adoraba un ballet llamado “Las llamas de París”; probablemente era el ballet preferido de quien asistía con regularidad a las funciones del Bolshoi. Lo hacía representar en cada aniversario de la Revolución de octubre, pues era considerado un ballet de actualidad, aunque su asunto fuese el de la Revolución francesa. Es decir, la Revolución francesa era entendida como “actual” por los soviéticos. La obra, con coreografía de Vasili Vainonen y música de Boris Asafiev, se había estrenado en el entonces Leningrado en 1932. En un principio, se pensó en titularlo “Fiesta de la Revolución francesa” o “Triunfo de la República”. Finalmente, “Las llamas de París” narra en concreto el episodio del 10 de agosto de 1792, cuando el “pueblo” asaltó las Tullerías, lo que inauguró el inicio del Terror. Es un ballet de notable carga ideológica, que no le pudo sustraer la versión re-creada por Alexei Ratmansky, en julio de 2008 en el Teatro Bolshoi de Moscú. La guillotina aparece en la escena, imponente y tronante (no dejan de caer cabezas), enfatizada por el color rojo, también predominante en la producción. Por primera vez en el decurso del arte de la danza, el principal personaje había sido el “pueblo”, el colectivo, lo que en términos coreográficos significa el cuerpo de baile.
“Las llamas de París” pertenece al género del “dramballet”, el equivalente en danza del realismo socialista, el cual se instaló a partir de la década del 30 del pasado siglo en la Unión Soviética. Un decreto del 23 de abril de 1932 clamó por la “restructuración de las organizaciones literarias y artísticas”; se crean, por ejemplo, la unión de escritores y la unión de compositores.
Dmitri Shostakovich compuso tres ballets de propaganda. En 1930 se estrenó en el Kírov “La edad de oro”, con coreografía de Vainonen. Un equipo de futbolistas soviéticos visitaba una exposición industrial en Europa del oeste. Era el contraste acentuado entre el Occidente decadente y enfermo, y la Unión Soviética robusta y sana. En abril de 1931, también en el Kírov, se creó “La tuerca” (o “el tornillo): un obrero es licenciado tras la denuncia de que intentaba sabotear una máquina. Era muy maniqueo. El otro ballet de propaganda de Shostakovich es “El arroyo claro”, con coreografía de Fedor Lopukhov, producido en el Teatro Maly de Leningrado en abril de 1935. Un grupo de bailarines clásicos visitaba un koljós. Desde luego, son los toscos campesinos quienes tienen que enseñarle mucho más a los sofisticados bailarines que éstos a los koljosianos.
¿Conocía Stalin, ya que tanto le gustaba “Las llamas de París”, que al asignarle una función propagandística al ballet había sido precedido en ello por la Revolución francesa?

Sin embargo, en el principio no había sido así. Dos días antes de la toma de la Bastilla, “le peuple” se dirigió a la Ópera de París, exigiendo su cierre “en nombre la nación”. La Ópera era uno de los grandes símbolos del Ancien Régime. Un año más tarde, en 1790, Marie-Joseph Chénier presenta un informe en el club de los Cordeliers (cuyo presidente era Danton), en el que estima que “de acuerdo con las nuevas ideas”, el pueblo no tenía por qué continuar pagando “los placeres de la aristocracia” como la ópera y el ballet. Con arias y con pas de deux no se iban a formar a los nuevos ciudadanos. Propuso que el Estado no debía participar en ningún “gasto cultural”. Liberalismo avant la lettre…
Pero la Ópera de París no fue cerrada, ni por el “pueblo” que intentó asaltarla, ni por los revolucionarios franceses. Por el contrario, el poder soviético fue más lejos: consideraron que la compañía de ballet y la escuela de San Petersburgo eran los símbolos “odiados” del régimen zarista (recuérdese que Lenin escogió para su primer discurso al arribar a la ciudad del Neva, al balcón de la casa de la prima ballerina assoluta Tchessinskaya, amante de varios integrantes de la familia imperial), y cerraron sus locales, para restablecerlos después, al encontrar que el ballet podía ser una forma de consagración de su propia gloria.
El 8 de marzo de 1792, acusan a la Ópera de París de no poner en escena suficientes “obras patrióticas”. Los concesionarios de la Ópera se defendieron, presentando una lista de siete títulos (entre óperas y ballets), todos “hirvientes de patriotismo”. Pero no habían sido encargados, si no que habían sido “espontáneos”, como lo fue la supresión del repertorio del Ancien Régime. De hecho, existía una censura en la programación; se desterraban las producciones sospechosas de mostrar simpatía con los aristócratas.
Probablemente, la primera producción propagandística por encargo preciso tuvo lugar el 2 de octubre de 1792. Con la música de La Marsellesa, arreglada por Gossec, se presentó “La ofrenda a la libertad”, según coreografía de Pierre Gardel, más caballos y otras parafernalias militares sobre las tablas.
Durante el Terror jacobino, se intensificaron los ballets de propaganda. El 27 de enero de 1793, Gardel coreografía “El triunfo de la libertad”, con textos de Marie-Joseph Chénier. Al mes siguiente, Gardel (el hombre que, por otra parte, salvó al ballet pero es otra historia) presenta “La patria agradecida”. Un año más tarde, se produjo la ópera “El sitio de Tolón” (que había ganado para la República un oficial de artillería llamado Buonaparte), cuyo ballet estaba firmado por Vestris y Beaupré. Poco tiempo después, hizo su aparición un nuevo género, la “sans-culottide dramática”, en cinco actos, una suerte de “teatro total”, con versos, cantos, danzas, evoluciones y fanfarrias militares, llamada “La reunión del 10 de agosto o el nacimiento de la República francesa”.
Le siguieron otros títulos: “Al pueblo soberano” (sobre la historia de la Revolución), programada 24 veces; o “La fiesta de la razón”, sin contar que los bailarines (y las bailarinas en ocasiones semidesnudas) estaban compelidos a participar en las fiestas revolucionarias, so pena de ir a la guillotina si se negaban.
Este régimen de propaganda incesante no finalizó con el Terror, tras el 9 de Thermidor. El Directorio continuó usando al ballet para sus fines. Exigieron, por medio del ministro del Interior, la puesta en escena de un nuevo himno de Rouget de Lisle (el autor de La Marsellesa), titulado “El canto de las venganzas”, así como la de “Le chant du retour”, otro canto de guerra.
En lo que respecta a Cuba, la producción de ballets de propaganda ha sido bien nutrida. Comenzó tempranamente el 24 de febrero de 1960, con “Despertar”, coreografía de Enrique Martínez, música de Carlos Fariñas, y la interpretación protagónica de Alicia Alonso. Se celebraba la epopeya castrista y la victoria del pueblo.
En 1965, Alicia Alonso coreografió y asumió sobre la escena “La carta”, con música de Enrique González Mantici, a la gloria de la campaña de alfabetización. En 1970, Alberto Alonso coreografía “Conjugación”, dedicado al Che Guevara. Tres años más tarde, el propio Alberto Alonso estrenó “Viet-Nam: la lección”, con música de Leo Brouwer. El Hijo recibe lo que le da El Imperialismo (sic, es un rol asumido por un bailarín), consistente en: El Incesto, El Homicidio y La Antropofagia, roles del mismo modo interpretados por bailarines. La Madre rechaza al Hijo y le reclama al personaje de Otro Hijo la defensa de la patria, puesto que Hijo ha cometido traición y se ha convertido en un títere del Imperialismo.
En ese mismo año de 1973, se estrenó también por el Ballet Nacional de Cuba la creación colectiva de “Nuestra América”, sobre textos de José Martí.
Tuvo lugar en La Habana en 1975 una conferencia internacional de “solidaridad” con Puerto Rico, ocasión para la que el “pueblo puertorriqueño” tuvo derecho a dos ballets: “Por Puerto Rico”, de Gladys González, y “Los enseño a ser fuertes”, de Alberto Méndez, interpretado por cierto por Rosario Suárez.
Al desembarco del Granma, se le dedicaron dos ballets en 1976: “Desembarco glorioso”, de Alberto Méndez, y “Un día… el dos de diciembre” (estrenado el 27 de noviembre), de Alberto Alonso. Naturalmente, el sesenta aniversario de la Revolución rusa de 1917 fue festejado con “El futuro nació en octubre” (1977), coreografía de Alberto Méndez, con textos de Lenin y Brezhnev, entre otros.
Pero 1977 era también el año del aniversario 55 de la Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios (FEU). Así, tal “aniversaritis” conmemorativa dio lugar a “Los pinos nuevos” (según el texto de José Martí, cuyo origen a su vez remite a un aniversario del fusilamiento de los estudiantes de Medicina en 1871), según coreografía de Gustavo Herrera.
La Revolución de octubre tuvo derecho a otro ballet en 1977 (¿no había ya la propaganda artística soviética insistido en la loa del stajanovismo?), con “Leningrado”, de Gladys González sobre música de Juan Almeida. El ballet de Gladys González se estrenó el 4 de noviembre, y al día siguiente se presentó el ya mencionado de Alberto Méndez, “El futuro nació en octubre”: una de sus escenas se titulaba “Las 15 Repúblicas”, es decir, las que conformaban la extinta URSS.
Fue muy pródigo ese año de 1977 en fechas conmemorativas. No pudo faltar un “Ñancahuazú”, de Iván Tenorio, estrenado el 22 de octubre, en el marco del décimo aniversario de la muerte de Che Guevara en Bolivia.
Tampoco se careció de saludar, en 1977, al aniversario 17 de la creación de los CDR (Comités de Defensa de la Revolución), con “Nace un comité”, de Gladys González, más canciones interpretadas por Silvio Rodríguez. La coreógrafa firmaba el libreto junto a Alicia Alonso, supongo debido a que, según la directora del Ballet Nacional de Cuba, el primer comité de defensa se creó en la sede de la compañía el 14 de mayo de 1960, unos cuatro meses antes de que Fidel Castro llamara a su implementación general en el país, en un discurso del 28 de septiembre. Alicia Alonso ha alegado que lo que condujo a la decisión de constituir un comité de vigilancia en el Ballet fue una bomba que le habían puesto debajo de la silla de su buró, que felizmente no explotó.
Y, con anterioridad, en ese fructífero año de 1977, la incansable Galdys González había estrenado, el 28 de enero en el canal 6 de la televisión nacional, un “Martí, autor intelectual”, donde se ofrecía una “visión del pensamiento político de Martí”.
Hagamos un salto en el tiempo, hasta el más cercano 2004, en que Alicia Alonso estrenó su coreografía “Elegía por un joven”, dedicada in memoriam al italiano Fabio di Celmo, quien murió en un hotel de La Habana, en 1997, tras la explosión de una bomba.
Ya durante la época de la Revolución francesa, los ballets de propaganda fueron calificados por los más atrevidos, sotto voce, como “bodrios difíciles de tragar”, y por los más circunspectos como “piezas de circunstancia”. Incluso bajo el Directorio, como el público no concurría a esas obras, la Ópera de París le pidió al gobierno que lo indemnizara por las pérdidas ocasionadas, debidas a gastos extraordinarios en: pelucas, uniformes, comparsas militares, etcétera.
Les dejo a otros que juzguen lo referente a la posteridad de esas obras de propaganda producidas en el Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

lunes, diciembre 31, 2012

A Life of Integrity: Vladimir Bukovsky at 70

Vladimir Bukovsky, 1977
Photo Paul Babeliowsky
Yesterday, on Sunday, December 30, Vladimir Bukovsky – writer, scientist, human rights campaigner, and one of the founders of the dissident movement in the USSR – celebrated his 70th birthday. IMR Senior Policy Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza recalls the milestones in Bukovsky’s life – and urges the present-day Russian opposition to heed his advice.
Vladimir Bukovsky does not like to be called a politician, preferring to be known as a neurophysiologist, writer or, at the very least, civic activist. In truth, he never engaged in politics: he merely realized, at an early age, that he could not reconcile himself to live quietly with a criminal and mendacious regime that sought to make millions of people its silent accomplices. Bukovsky’s protest was a moral one. “We did not play politics, we did not draft programs for the ‘people’s liberation,’” he recalls in his memoirs, To Build a Castle (a must-read for anyone interested in Russian history). “Our only weapon was glasnost (openness). Not propaganda, but glasnost, so that no one could say ‘I did not know.’ The rest is a matter for each person’s conscience.”
“I did not know” was a popular answer among members of the older generation when asked by the youngsters of the 1950s about Stalin’s times. The public condemnation of Stalinist crimes at the 1956 Communist Party congress and (almost immediately) the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution, which showed that the nature of the regime has not changed, were formative events for Bukovsky. His protest activity began literally during his school days: he joined a clandestine anti-Soviet group and published an underground satirical journal. In response, he was expelled from school, summoned to a dressing-down by the Moscow City Communist Party Committee, and barred from studying at university (he nevertheless won admission to Moscow State University, only to be discovered and expelled a year later.)
Vladimir Bukovsky is one of the founders of the Soviet dissident movement, which was born in the fall of 1960 on Moscow’s Mayakovsky Square. There, a group of yet-unknown young activists, poets, and actors (including Yuri Galanskov, Eduard Kuznetsov, Vladimir Osipov, Ilya Bokshtein, and Vsevolod Abdulov) held public readings of banned poetry – Akhmatova, Pasternak, Mandelshtam, Tsvetaeva. They also read from their own works and the works of their contemporaries, which would soon be disseminated as samizdat (literally “self-publications,” the clandestine reproduction and distribution of banned literature). Samizdat, too, was born on Mayakovsky Square. The authorities responded in their usual manner: with dispersals of the meetings by bulldozers and snow ploughs; provocations by Komsomol (Young Communist League) operatives; beatings and arrests. Yet the “seditious” meetings continued in the heart of the Soviet capital for almost two years:
“That amazing community, which would later be called a ‘movement’, was being born. It had no leaders or followers…. Each of us, like a nerve cell, participated in this amazing orchestra without a conductor, compelled only by his or her sense of self-respect and personal responsibility for what was happening.” (Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle)
Vladimir Bukovsky was one of the organizers of the unofficial poetry readings on Moscow’s Mayakovsky Square, the birthplace of the Soviet dissident movement.
The Mayakovsky readings were only the beginning: one can study the history of dissent in the Soviet Union by reading Bukovsky’s biography. He was involved in organizing the December 1965 “Glasnost Rally” on Pushkin Square (Moscow’s first opposition demonstration in four decades); the January 1967 rally against political arrests (also on Pushkin Square;) and, probably his most important endeavor, the public campaign against “punitive psychiatry” used by the KGB against dissenters. After his first arrest in 1963 for “possession of anti-Soviet literature,” Bukovsky (then 20 years old) was brought to the office of Lieutenant-General Mikhail Svetlichny, the head of the Moscow KGB. “Svetlichny said a very simple thing,” Bukovsky recalls in the documentary They Chose Freedom. “‘Here is the arrest warrant. If you honestly tell us everything – where you got this book, who gave it to you, to whom you gave it [to read], I will not sign it, and you will go home. If you refuse, I will sign it, and you will go to jail.’ …  I found such a formulation insulting, and cursed at him. He did not say anything, just shook his head, signed the warrant, and said ‘Take him away.’”
Vladimir Bukovsky paid for his refusal to go along with the regime’s lies with 12 years in prisons, labor camps, and “special psychiatric hospitals.” Not once did he admit his guilt, ask for clemency, disown his words, or betray his friends. “We fought desperately against this regime of scoundrels. We were a handful of unarmed people in the face of a mighty state with the world’s most monstrous machine of repression. And we won. The regime had to retreat. And even in prisons we proved too dangerous for them.” (Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle) On December 18, 1976, a handcuffed Bukovsky was driven to Chkalovsky military airfield and, accompanied by a convoy from the KGB’s elite Alpha unit (that was its first operation), was flown to Zurich’s international airport. Communist Party Central Committee documents referred to this as “measures relating to the liberation of Comrade L. Corvalan1.” In the end, the regime was unable to defeat its enemy inside the country.
In the early 1990s, Vladimir Bukovsky and Member of Parliament Galina Starovoitova tried to convince the Russian leadership to conduct a trial of the Communist regime and the KGB in order to help the country comprehend its past and avoid repeating it.
The next time Vladimir Bukovsky came to Russia was at the invitation of Boris Yeltsin in 1991, before the attempted August coup d’état – and again just after the coup, when barricades were still being dismantled near the Moscow White House, and when the empty pedestal from the toppled statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky was still hand-painted with a swastika and hammer-and-sickle – with an equal sign between them. “Let us not flatter ourselves – the dragon is not yet dead. He is mortally wounded, his spine is broken, but he still holds human souls in his clinging paws,” Bukovsky said at a rally on Mayakovsky Square in September 1991. “The Lubyanka [KGB] archives, seized by the Russian government, contain secrets of dreadful crimes. Only by making them public, by handing them over to an objective international commission, will we be able to cleanse ourselves from this filth.” Unfortunately, Bukovsky’s call was not heeded. The new Russian authorities, unwilling to “rock the boat,” refrained from fully opening the archives, from officially condemning the Communist Party and the KGB for their crimes, and from introducing lustrations for those who had participated in the crimes. A genuine moral renewal of society never took place. Russia’s young democracy was not protected from a comeback by the ideological successors of Yuri Andropov and Vladimir Kryuchkov. This comeback came just eight years after the democratic victory of August 1991. As Bukovsky had warned, “it is like dealing with a wounded beast – if you do not finish it off, it will attack you.”
Today, Bukovsky is not retiring or leaving public life – and his upcoming 70th birthday will do nothing to change that. His experience in fighting the KGB system is too relevant; his advice too valuable; his standing among the leaders and supporters of the present-day Russian opposition too high. During the frozen (in all senses of the word) winter of 2007, at the height of Putin’s power, Bukovsky was nominated for president by the democratic opposition as a symbol of moral protest. The line of people wishing to sign his nomination papers extended for seven hours; the Sakharov Center could not accommodate everyone, and people had to wait outside in Moscow’s freezing temperatures.
In December 2007, Vladimir Bukovsky (center) was officially nominated for president of Russia by an assembly of voters in Moscow. The Central Electoral Commission headed by Vladimir Churov denied him access to the ballot.
“The opposition needs a candidate for president – strong, uncompromising, decisive, with irreproachable political and, more importantly, moral authority,” read the statement of the Initiative Group that nominated Bukovsky, “Russia needs its own Vaclav Havel, not a new successor from [the KGB].”
1 Vladimir Bukovsky was exchanged for Chilean Communist Party leader Luis Corvalan, who had been jailed by General Augusto Pinochet.
There are few people like Vladimir Bukovsky in any society – let alone Russian society, which has been wrecked by decades of Soviet dictatorship, and by 13 years of Putin’s cynical authoritarianism. It is likely that the coming years will bring significant changes to Russia. During this critical period, Bukovsky’s words will be very important. This time, they must be heard.

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Retratos de fusilados por el Castrismo - Juan Abreu


"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño


le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.


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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva


Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.


¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]


A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan


Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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