Archive | January, 2012

Galeano, the Sightless

29 Jan

This article by Luis Felipe Rojas was originally published in ‘Diario de Cuba‘:

Luis Felipe Rojas, along with his 8 year old son, at the door of his home which was vandalized with paint recently at 3 AM.

There once was an excellent writer.  A man who could make one fall in love with his words.  Until the camera flashes and other lazy compromises left him blind and without a cure.  During these days, the Casa de las Americas paid tribute to the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.  They awarded him for his life’s work.  It’s not bad that the local censors gratify a person who, amid many praises has also told them a few truths in a sweet way, who without self-restrictions publicly criticized the regime in 2003 for having locked up 75 peaceful dissidents and later, in private, went to apologize.

In an interview published in the Juventud Rebelde (‘Rebel Youth’) newspaper on Sunday, January 22nd, Galeano claims to have written a book in Guatemala when the Squadrons of Death were implanting terror.  They would ignite bombs and fire shots all the time, he tells us, adding that the groups placed by the military officials would use tar to paint a cross on the homes of targets, those who would not live to see dawn.  “And I would survive”, says Galeano, “which I thought was miraculous…so much s  that every time I would do more things, and I decided to write a book”.

The bad thing is that now the same author has forgotten to write another book.  If, once upon a time, he was able to narrate the open veins of a continent, he now does not wish to see the open wounds of a country.  As he chugged down a cocktail in some clean, luxurious, and tranquil place in Havana, paramilitary mobs were implanting terror with mob repudiation attacks from Pinar del Rio to Guantanamo.

On January 24th, a ‘pots and pans’ protest was carried out by the Resistance and there were sessions of hate in the capital, in Camaguey and in Holguin.  Galeano, our homes are also painted with tar before they kill us in those different ways which include public insults, humiliation, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and the hanging of  labels such as ‘sell-outs’ and ‘mercenaries’ over our heads!  One time, the door of my house was stained with tar, just because I started putting some words together, trying to conciliate what I think with what I say.

At the end of this article, I leave you all with some photos which leave  no doubts.  They are the homes of dissidents Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo in Havana; Yoandri Naoki Mir in Banes, Holguin; and the home of the brothers Jorge and Agustin Cervantes in Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba.

If we truthfully talk in Cuba about a people who are spontaneously indignant against us, then why is the same modus operandi always followed?  They attack at dawn and use the same tar, like the star hanging on the doors of Jews during the Holocaust.

With that said, Eduardo Galeano has a good topic for a book he owes us.  His book of essays, ‘The Open Veins of Latin America‘, was once included among the top 10 books which every Latin-American Idiot should read.  Along with  “History will Absolve Me” by Fidel Castro, “The Guerrilla War” by Ernesto Guevara, and 7 others, they make up the Decalogue which every idiot should read without asking uncomfortable questions to leftist dictatorships.  I don’t think Galeano knows it, but accommodating intellectual blindness is also a species of complicity which History reveals in due time.

Dissidents Sara Marta Fonseca (right) and Marta Diaz Rondon (left) outside the home of Fonseca in Havana

Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez, dissident and wife of Yoandri Mir, along with their children infront of their home.

The home of brothers Jorge and Agustin Cervantes in Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba

“Anonymous” did it

27 Jan

Terrorist vandalism in my house, 20th Street No. 1303 & 13 and 15. San German, Holguin, CUBA. @alambradas (twitter)/ @alambradas_en

This happened last night in my house.  “Anonymous” did it.  The police, which is so effective when it comes to arresting free-thinkers and beating defenseless men and women when they go out to the street to scream FREEDOM, did not find the culprits.

I wasn’t in San German and when I arrived this morning I found this.  I couldn’t put it on my Twitter account or send a picture via Twitpic because the service on my cellphone has not been re-activated.  I prefer not to fall into the thievery of CUBACEL which, during these days, has robbed me of SMS and photos in my @alambradas account.

A friend of mine lent me his cellphone and, thanks to him, I was able to send an email to another friend with this photo and this note, so that it be published on my blog or wherever else possible.

That’s how internet without internet works from San German, Holguin.


26 Jan

Photo courtesy of Felix Reyes

It’s almost like a premonition, but backwards.  After ascending a few steps over the heads of the citizens, those who’ve been dismissed by the regime have to walk down the small mountain they though they had climbed.  One step forward, and three steps back, or to the side.  It’s like a dance, but it’s as if they’re drunk, disoriented, without that compass of lies, consisting of a uniform, an ID card with red letters which read ‘PNR’ (National Revolutionary Police) and a Soviet-style Makarov pistol.  They suffer from a haunting scarcity.

The chief of the PNR Unit in San German, located in the province of Holguin, the 1st Lieutenant Manual Gonzalez Sera was dismissed from his position “because of his incompatible attitude with the processes of the police bodies”, according to local sources.  The currently dismissed police chief had accusations from citizens, alleging violence.  Though there is still no (and I dare say, will be no) official release, the former officer was subjected to a home search where they occupied numerous of his garments, which presumably were traced back to a relationship he was having with a Cuban-Canadian citizen, a grave crime within the Cuban military code which prohibits relationships between its officials and foreigners.

Within the past year, two chiefs of the police unit have been dismissed in San German.  The other, former captain Vladimir Aldana Rodriguez, is serving a sentence in a provincial penitentiary system, just like the local officers Alexander La O and Herson Ramirez.  Another three have been dismissed or have been laid off for different motives, all related to police corruption and serious violations in the carrying out of their duties to watch over and maintain citizen’s tranquility.

During the middle of 2011, various sources confirmed the news of the arrest of Lieutenant Luis Quesada, a Penal Instructor from State Security in an infernal unit located in the Pedernales neighborhood, on the outskirts of the city of Holguin.  Quesada had bragged to me once when I was detained that he was the one who tore down the door of dissident  Cari Caballero’s home so that his olive green troops could search the house.  We still don’t know if he has been sanctioned for the crime of raping minors and of lechery.

In the prison known as ‘Cuba Si’, situated on the path to San German, a Lieutenant Colonel from Military Counterintelligence (CIM) whose last name is Monje is serving jail time for the crime of corruption and abusing his power.  It seems like a cleansing of their social ditches.  Based on the amount of cases there have been reported from various provinces in the country, many suggest that it is just a governmental prance.

But one doesn’t have to imagine it, there are those who wash their face while their hands are full of blood.

Wilman Villar Mendoza: Another Case?

24 Jan

Wilman Villar Mendoza. Photo from UNPACU

The Cuban government is a monster which has locked itself in a crystal valve and swallowed the key.  The death of Wilman Villar Mendoza, product of a hunger strike in demand that his prison sentence be revised, is a clear example.  The Castro regime has cut all communications between its citizens and the institutions which are supposed to watch over them.  There is no possible way for a citizen, without ‘connections’, to win a case in the Supreme Court.

The armies of the current General-President avoid, at all costs, that he (Castro) and all his close collaborators lose their status of ‘untouchables’, of astronomical beings which can only be seen driving by in luxurious cars.  And not to mention, no one knows the telephone numbers of the mansions they live in.

I waited until Saturday, after I read the reports published about the death of Wilman Villar, to jot down these ideas.  Even with how tragic the news is, the government’s response did not surprise me in any way.  The first thing they did was to dust off all responsibilities from the national health system (publicly). In reality, are all doubtful deaths which occur in Cuban hospitals published on the pages of the official state paper, Granma?

For the government of our country, Wilman was a delinquent.

An essential step to socially discredit anyone is vilifying the person, criminalizing them.  Up to now, I have not heard of any dissident of the dictatorship (it doesn’t matter is they are affiliated to an independent group in the country or not) who has not been “awarded” with the insults of the propaganda machinery of the Cuban Communist Party.  This happens as soon as the person decides to publicly state that they think differently than the regime.  Hours prior to falling in disgrace, the most common of Cuban mortals could have given their entire life to try and fix the country, but if he or she is considered a dissident of the tropical Stalinist ideas, then they go on to form part of the leper list, ideologically speaking.

It’s very possible that by the time you all read this post, the declarations of some relatives and neighbors of Wilman Villar may have already been posted, where they say how he had a poor conduct and contributed little to society.  As if a guarantee given by the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution is enough to exempt one from social insults.  One does not have to have black skin to be abused.  Marginalization dresses itself in whatever clothes the segregationist system deems necessary.

Habemus Papam? Now I know that the table for His Holiness is served, and in what a way!  The government will show, on that date, nearly a thousand peaceful dissidents arrested and their bodies marked by the scars of karate punches and the boots which have kicked them and stepped over them.  A people willing to participate in the most violent of repudiation mob attacks which are instantly demanded of them.  And, the body of Wilman Villar Mendoza, which they, the manipulators of our national reality, will try to hold us responsible for.  We are ready, your Holiness Benedict XVI.


24 Jan

Political police officials and government snitches watch over house of Luis Felipe Rojas in San German, Holguin.

They are neither that accidental nor that inevitable.  That’s the slogan of a national TV spot in Cuba.  A beauty which allows itself to play amid warnings and statistics of accidents.  Like that, for some time now, what they have been referring to as accidents are nothing more than absurd stories guided by a legality that hangs on a thread.  Various dissidents have suffered humiliations, beatings, and all sorts of mistreatment.  However, the excuse of the so-called authorities is that we are “negligent provokers and we are always looking for trouble”.  They threaten us, saying “we will kill you”,  “we will rape you” (in the case of female dissidents), “be careful because no one knows what could happen to you one of these days”.  And later, when it happens, they don’t want us to share the details, they wish for the world to ignore the chain of occurrences under their methods, so that they start to vilify us on one hand while receiving physical blows on the other.

This past 15th of January, the dissident Denis Pino Basulto suffered a beating inside of what was dressed as a civilian vehicle, but in reality was being driven by the political police.  Denis explained that they put a nylon bag over his head and they commenced to beat him. Before losing sight of all of them, he affirms that he saw Major Yordanis Martinez Leon, aka ‘The Polish’, who also now claims to be chief of State Security’s Confrontation Unit in Holguin, orchestrating the whole thing.

From Sibanicu, Camaguey, Yoan David Gonzalez Milanes sent me an SMS where he assures that the police official (also political) who goes by the name of Ricardo drove his motorcycle against him (license plate #ZE770).  He was next in line to cross the street and the guard missed the stop sign, and thanks to passer-bys who shouted warnings at him to avoid the worst.  Gonzalez Milanes sates that similar cases have occurred with other dissidents.

Various Twitter users had been sharing the photo of the Rastafar brother Hector Ricart who was disappeared by a police operation and whose family has had no news on.

Other dissidents have been arrested on their way back home, while their families remain without hearing any news on them.  Only a few days later are they informed of where their relatives are being ‘kept’.

Guillermo Fariñas and Jorge Luis Montiel were both detained on Wednesday.  As they were being taken to a barracks of the political police in Santa Clara, the police vehicle was involved in an accident.  Inexplicably, the car crashed against another one which was in front.  The Sajarov Award recipient was then taken to the place where injustices are constantly committed, and luckily, the international press became concerned with his situation, and they started finding out throughout Cuba why Farinas was arrested or why he had been beaten.  One of these days, something can happen to him and we will have to believe that it was an accident or a ‘natural death’.

The inexplicable death of Laura Pollan in a country that is a ‘leader in medicine’…

Those who keep vigilance, confiscate, and detain are always dressed in civilian clothing, while driving in what seem to be self-owned vehicles.  They do and undo, while impunity protects them.

The impunity with which police officials at the service of State Security act puts us up against something truly disastrous waiting to happen.  These warnings can go under the fixation of a guess, but we already have deaths, and the scars on our bodies are very well known.

It’s never a bad thing to use the only weapon we have, to hurl these bags of paint against the body of repression, so that its figure does not look so placid in the eyes of its negotiators, those who claim to always have an answer ready.  We are paying attention!

Workshop on Social Networks

16 Jan

This past January 11th, nearly 20 activists from the Eastern Democratic Alliance carried out a workshop about the basics of citizen journalism and what could be done with the new information technologies at their reach.  I say we carried out because it wasn’t anything other than a few questions I tossed at them to get them interested.  The importance of what we now refer to as “citizen journalism” gives human rights activists, social promoters, and dissidents in general a push so that their self-esteems be valued as they deserve, but at the same time is a commitment in itself.  The fact that a dissident does not need an editorial chief, nor someone to call them from the outside in order to jot down their denouncements, is a spring which, far from hindering, pushes the dynamics of citizenship as something proactive and not passive.

Websites such as ‘Hablalo sin Miedo’ (‘Speak it Without Fear’), where Cubans can publish denouncements of daily violations, which is only a telephone ring away, is an example of what was debated and taught there.  Installing an application on your cell phone to send out text or multimedia (photo, video, audio) messages to any e-mail address is an advancement.  This tool, in the hands of people who need to show that they are being harassed or have been beaten, make the aggressor less exempt from punishment.

The faces of the violators taken by their very own targets constitute a different relationship to what we normally refer to as ‘oppressed and oppressors‘.  For more than an hour, the debate went on amid journalist ethics and what we know of as ‘objectivity’, and it was well worth it, considering so much abuse and so much silence from part of a watching mass.  It was a very nice day, without theoretical poses, displays of intellectuality, nor vain presumptions of knowledge.

In addition to the photo, I leave you all with a list of names of those who participated:  Caridad Caballero Batista, her husband Esteban Sande Suarez, José A. Triguero, Eliecer Palma Pupo, Juan Verdecia Torres, Edilberto Sartorio Leyva, Alexander Lam Arredondo, Zuleidis Pérez Velásquez, Luis Jaime Meriño, Yoandri Canales Cruz, A Jiménez de la Cruz, Juan C. Verdecia Domínguez, Juan C Mendoza Martínez, José L Hernández, Franklin Pelegrino del Toro, Berta Segura Guerrero, Eric Sande Suarez, Denis Pino Basulto.  We planned to make them Twitter accounts and others, at the distance of a cell phone’s keypad, the possibility of their first photo published on the universal nation known as cyberspace.

I am sending this article to a friend on the island as an image on my cell phone.  That way it only costs me 0.30 cents in CUC.  Afterward, he will send it, via e-mail, to my blog administrators.

Citizenship without rights.  Internet without internet.  Congratulations!

January 8th in Cuba: Jubilee and Repression

10 Jan

What a surprise his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will find when he visits the two main cities of Cuba.  To kick off the Year of Jubilee, the repressive machinery unleashed a wave of aggression in nearly all the cities in the country against dissidents who were simply trying to assist religious mass on Saturday in El Cobre Sanctuary or on Sunday in their respective towns.  Will Cardinal Jaime Ortega call on the Cuban authorities to provide an explanation of all the arrests, beatings, and acts of mob repudiation which have occurred during these days?  Would he?  Regardless, it seems like it will be a visit marked by restriction of movement and temporary and arbitrary arrests.

This Sunday, January 8th- a date which coincides with the official celebration of the entrance of the bearded rebels into Havana during 1959- Catholics throughout the country were trying to celebrate the beginning of the Year of Jubilee.  In Holguin, Caridad Caballero, her husband Esteban Sande Suarez, and Denis Pino Basulto- all of whom are members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance- suffered under an operation directed by Political Police Major Yordanis Martinez (aka The Burnt One).  Martinez ordered that they be arrested and they were then driven to the Operations Barracks known as Pedernales.  The three of them were trying to assist mass in the Catholic Church which is located in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo.  At the time of writing this report, they had released the married couple, but Pino Basulto was driven in a police vehicle towards an undisclosed location.  The fate of husband and wife Franklin Peregrino del Toro and Berta Guerrero Segura from Cacocum was very similar.  Meanwhile, in Holguin they also arrested Zuleidis Pereza, Adisnidia Cruz, Marco A Lima Dalmau, Mariblanca Ávila, and Yonart Rodríguez.  That Sunday, I also received a text message detailing an act of repudiation outside the home of a Lady in White Yazmin Conyedo in Santa Clara.  In the house, there were also other women which has been cornered by a large police operation which also impeded them from going to Church.

On the previous day, Saturday January 7th, Roberto de Jesus Guerra shared an SMS message with me, which he later published on Twitter.  The message read “They are carrying out a mob repudiation attack against the home of Maritza Castro in Cerro, Havana.  More than 100 soldiers are throwing stones, sticks, and bottles“.  And, from Guantanamo, I received news from Isabel Pena that a neighbor of hers felt offended by someone who put up an anti-government sign in public, and that person aggressively confronted her and shouted obscenities and threats, even of death, to her.  That person even told her that he “felt like slicing her open like a pork”.

These acts of vandalism occurred in the midst of certain clerical hype about the improved relations between the cardinals and those who implant terror in Cuba.

The two locations chosen to be visited by the Pope (Santiago de Cuba and Havana) will, once again, display an oppressed people who wish to un-politicize every minute of their battered lives.

Although Meurice Estiu (The Friend) is no longer with us, we are in real need of a titan who tells it like it is…who tells the truth to the General President as he stands before him.

The Paths of the General

9 Jan

This article was written by Luis Felipe Rojas for ‘Diario de Cuba‘.  It has been re-posted on this blog:

In regards to the year which has just begun, it is evident that the directions of the Cuban government are like forked transit lines.  With more desires to give orders to its members than to implement any sort of political economy, on January 28th they will hold the First National Conference of the Communist Party (PCC).

Towards the end of March the General-President will receive the Vatican authorities, rosary and timbrel at hand.  And during the middle of the year he will once again be in the limelight, with our without the fulfillment of promises.  Cuba will once again see how dreams and demands dissipate.

On a tour which was expected to come sooner or later, the Castro leadership has gone up against itself.  Against the inflated staffs, administrative corruption, and economic inefficiency.  The three whips of Cuban society have been exposed in numerous public meetings: the communist congress and the ordinary session of the National Assembly.

We would have to see if the Cuban technocrats are willing to change their mentality and cast away their furies against the same projects as always.  While the historic direction holds tight to the old art of snapping orders and marching, thousands of Cubans try to improve their lives selling what they themselves cultivate, carrying out service jobs or applying their talents to new technologies.

However, enthusiasms aside, the penalization of difference still weighs heavy over the heads of the majority of Cubans, as well as the rake against free association and the establishment of unions, and laws like Social Dangerousness which seem to belong in the Middle Ages.

Without being able to defend their most basic rights, the Cuban citizenry, since the beginning of the millennium, has been trapped in the delicacies of capitalism and civilization which has been placed before them.  They produce foreign currency, which they cannot freely enjoy.  They substitute imports with medical services which they can rarely enjoy and, on top of that, they carry the weight of errors committed by the senile leadership.

The more moderate forces among the rulers (which are not always visible) opt for a change of tactics and for a reasonable strategy which would favor the betterment of the citizen.  A consensus of the majority of workers has demonstrated the weariness produced by slogans and inefficiency of promises.

The criticisms of Raul Castro and the dissidents of the government are going to crash against the accommodated tendency of the bureaucrats.  Attempting to impregnate from stamps of eternal solidarity with Cubans, the maximum leadership deprives them of health services which are obliged to serve their third-world contemporaries.

At this point, many are asking themselves about the relationship between the statistic offered by Cuba of 4.9 children who have died per each thousand born alive, and the fact of not publishing the statistics of the budget cuts in the public health sector.  Will this statistic be upheld despite the cuts?  As for the popular sophism of ‘tossing the house out through the window’, there is also the fact that there are many necessities, due to a weakened system of primary attention.

Upon being asked if he was a militant (of the Communist Party, of course), a well known professor for the University of Oriente responded, “No, I am the culprit”.  The joke has transcended university property and illustrates the disillusion of that ‘minority’ (in the words of Rafael Rojas) which, in regards to political strength, has transmuted to another social ill.

Who Will Kill the Commander?

5 Jan

The socialist labyrinth consists of so much injustice that even the functionaries joke about being trapped in it.  The beauracratic skeins of the tropical Cuban creature have been designed to hinder citizens, to make their daily lives harder, but it is not always possible to demarcate the frontier between the most common of passer-bys and bureaucrats, as infallible as they’d like to make themselves seem.

A group of workers from the TransNet Base, dedicated to cultivating sugar cane, have been suffering for months because they have not been paid their salary stimulus which the sugar company owes them for the 2010-2011 pay period.  Today, as the new period is beginning, the correspondent organisms are not complying with the salary they owe.  In the sugar production plant of the municipality of San German, Holguin, the mentioned workers (as fed up as those who protest on streets of the United States) lashed out and deposited their confidence in a social valve: writing to national newspapers.  Only one of them publicly responded- Juventud Rebelde (‘Rebel Youth‘).

For some time now, Cubans tend to their pains by writing to the Open-Letter section of the mentioned newspaper.  There, the colleague Jose Alejandro Rodriguez, whom one can clearly see really wants to break away and carry out a free form of journalism without chains, dedicates himself to dissect the anatomy of home-grown bureaucracy.

In the Open-Letter section of December 18th, the journalist explained the indignation of these workers.  He also mentioned the letter sent by Eliecer Palma Pupo, who was thrown around however they wanted from the transportation base, the municipal union, the organ of Social Security and Work, and all the way to the Provincial Direction of the Sugarcane Industry.  Immediately, the workers were called to testify.  “Who wrote the letter?”.  They said it would be fixed, ‘damn it’, that was all…

What the Juventud Rebelde Newspaper did not know was that Palma Pupo is a worker, who has worked as a driver for 27 years, and is branded as a counter-revolutionary for speaking the truth.  He has also been locked up in the dungeons of State Security on the 22nd of October 2011 so that he would not hinder the visit of Jose Ramon Machado Ventura to the mentioned factory.

He suffered from fatigue for three days, product of a hunger and thirst strike he carried out from his cell.  But when he was released, he went straight back to his work post to load up a truck for the sugar production process, and his coworkers asked him to denounce the absence of payment for 20 CUC which the plant owed each of them.

Before exposing the case to the independent press and the international press, they opted to send the message right back to the aggressor.  The letter has been read by thousands of Cubans, among them hundreds of functionaries, who although they have not responded have been contested by their own propaganda system which is kept afloat by screams, lies, and acts of mob repudiation.  I have spoken to some of them, with Palma Pupo himself, and although they have not been paid they still feel the sweet taste of vengeance.

Palma told me that they have returned to the Union Direction Center (against them) and even against some workers, who are alarmed by his rebellious condition and fear they will lose more than just the steering wheels of his old sugar-cane loading trucks.

From afar and from outside, one runs the risk of seeing this as something pointless, but these men told me this as if they had been victorious, as if they had discovered that “all as one” they could tear the rags off of the old Fuenteovejuna* commander.


*Fuenteovejuna- A play by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega.  The work of art is about a peasant uprising in a medieval Spanish town.  

Builder in Chief

3 Jan

I did not want to start the New Year like this but Fidel Castro is still present in our lives. That’s just how screwed we are and I fear that will be the case for a long time, even after his demise.

It was nearly the end of 2011 when the Ministry of Construction (MICON) — surely at the suggestion of Machado Ventura — decided to give out a special award dedicated to the “lifetime achievement” of the former basketball player from the College of Belen (Fidel Castro).

They handed him a diploma which was luxuriously laminated  and wrapped in anti-reflection plastic, a floral arrangement, and a message confirming that all Cubans appreciate what he has achieved for us.  Ha!  A bit of cockiness which is permitted to the head honcho from time to time.

With this new prize to Fidel Castro, I ask myself where do we put the information of the disturbed minister of construction — Homero Crab — about the disastrous situation of nearly 70% of the bridges in the country.  The old central highway inaugurated during the first half of the past century only receives patches and quick repairs.  Many rural schools, which consist of coarse Giron-style construction and which were once the pride of Cuban style socialism are being remodeled as semi-open penitentiaries.

Each week, the provincial newspapers publish poor photo reports of the bad state of the roads in the so-called “interior of the country.  As for Cuban television, they barely have any destination options left to present on the screen as tourist post cards.  Architecturally speaking, the island is falling to pieces.

But since the prize was awarded because of lifetime achievement, it would be a good idea to refresh our memories.  The so-called Pastorita neighborhoods, in an allusion to Pastorita Nunez, their national proponent, are now just hodge-podges of steel and rubble which have not fallen down on their users thanks to a miracle.  Examples are found in Santiago de Cuba and in Guantanamo.  I have lived in them, on more than one occasion.

The inheritance which we received from European and North-American architecture was destroyed by the blow of a wrecking ball, under the orders of the Builder-in-Chief.  If not him, then who is to blame for the exile of the graduates of the best school of architecture of the University of Havana?  To whom do we owe the national exchange for the modest American cabins for the monster of the low-cost self-built houses?  Before handing out apartments like bird cages during the 70’s, was there another way to build a home if not by one’s own effort?

In just two decades, we have gone from the solid masonry and steel houses to the suffocating plastic habitat, built from the residues of Venezuelan oil.  Unless the award aims to make a joke of the former Cuban president, there is no other option but to see him as a monument, in the same flattering way a slave sees his slave master.