Sobre Novelistas, Futbolistas y “Nobeleros”

Se bien que esto que voy a decir va a resultarle malsonante a algunos pero la visión política de ese gran escritor y merecido premio Nobel de literatura que es don Mario Vargas Llosa no me parece que amerite tanto respeto como el que uno debe sentir por su obra literaria, ni muchísimo menos un espacio en los medios de difusión cuando se pronuncia sobre asuntos relacionados con la política.

Para mi sus habilidades como político y su capacidad como politólogo quedaron definidas por la forma en que manejó su frustrada aspiración a convertirse en presidente de su Perú natal -gajes de la perfecta idiotez latinoamericana?- y su posterior rechazo y renuncia a ese país nacionalizándose en otro (cual amante despechado…). Y cabe reconocer que al Perú, a pesar de uno que otro bache, le ha ido bastante bien desde que prefirió a un “chino” prácticamente desconocido (que resultó ser algo así como una versión algo mas descontrolada de Álvaro Uribe) por sobre el ilustre Arequipeño… [Read more...]

Cuba policy, Cuba polls & innuendo

Our political system is firmly grounded on the belief that freedom of speech includes spending money. As firmly as the feet of those who grow overly wise for the taste of their fellow wise guys and end up “sleeping with the fish” (some may even argue our political system and or hallowed but hollow democracy are headed in that very same direction). I mean, it is very difficult to deny this, specially after the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which essentially allows money, BIG and small, to influence elections with barely any limits at all.

And yet, some among my fellow Cuban Americans in Miami seem to believe there is something intrinsically wrong in an Academic Institution’s polling of our people with the financial support of a given contributor, since, they will tell you, the “interests” behind those contributors “obviously” must have an impact on the result of the poll. [Read more...]

Cuban Claims: to advise, or not to advise…

The first time I was approached by someone eager to get my advise on what he / she should do, how to proceed, in order to be better prepared –cuando llegue el momento or when the time arrived- to re-claim those properties their family owned in Cuba at the dawn of the Cuban Revolution (mainly real estate, since my job back then was to give people, Americans mostly, a sense of comfort when they bought real property in a foreign country), was in the late eighties.

I point this out because I often ask myself whether my response to that first query might have been different had I already been a lawyer facing the same question, say, in the mid sixties, or even in the seventies. But back in the late eighties (the late Reagan years), and despite the imminent crumbling of the Berlin Wall and of the Soviet support net Cuba enjoyed, my answer was conditioned by two elements that are still, in my humble opinion, key in this equation: the time passed since the expropriations or confiscations of property that led to the question I was been asked, and the fact it was impossible, as I saw it (and still see it) to determine (foretell) under what legal rules those claims will be resolved.

Under those circumstances, my response was (and has since been every time, in a long and ever growing list of similar queries) that I could not give the advice sought by the prospective client and charge him for something that I recognized would have been sheer speculation. That there were a small number of things that could perhaps be tried to improve the future claimant’s chances of success (though with little or no guarantees), but that those things should be done in Cuba, with the help and advice of a Cuban lawyer and in compliance with Cuban laws. [Read more...]

QUIEN ES “DIALOGUERO”?

Entre las materias que uno debía aprobar para ingresar a la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Buenos Aires allá por los early seventies, había una que se llamaba algo así como filosofía del lenguaje. Materia árida y aburrida como pocas, pero importante para un abogado en ciernes, cuya herramienta profesional mas valiosa (hay quienes prefieren hablar de arma) es la palabra.

Siempre es bueno, cuando uno estudia, no quedarse con los autores que los profesores o expertos en la materia le ponen en frente, y ante la pesadez del tema, me puse a explorarlo a través de otras fuentes (que, muy a mi pesar, no recuerdo ahora) en las cuales pesqué un par de cosas o datos (no dogmas, no axiomas, porque no creo en ellos) interesantes. Uno de ellos es que quien controla el significado de las palabras controla el debate, si no el mundo. Y el otro dato interesante es que, aún quien controla el debate a través del control del significado de las palabras está expuesto a ciertas reglas que, de no atenerse a ellas, le pueden costar ese “control” al desgastarse su credibilidad. [Read more...]

Cuba’s answer to our EB-5 visa type program

The MININT (the Cuban Interior Ministry) chose May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, to publish its Resoluciòn No. 4/14, which lays out the procedure whereby a foreign individual (“personas naturales extranjeras” the resolution reads) who wants to invest in “owning” or renting houses in Cuba can obtain a special visa that makes him a Cuban resident for such purposes (the status lasts one year, but can be renewed yearly without a limited number of renewals), since only Cuban residents can hold title to housing in Cuba under the present state of Cuban laws. This MININT resolution also sets the conditions affecting the visa holders’ residence in Cuba.

Before we begin hollering and casting stones at this latest example of moral turpitude on the part of the Cuban authorities (how dare they sell to wealthy foreigners the “right” to live in Cuba!!??) we may want to take note of the fact that is precisely what the United States has been doing under its Investor type visas for many years. [Read more...]

Empathy is a two-way street

A few days ago, at a TV studio in Doral, I listened first hand to an interview of Lillian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan opposition leader imprisoned by the Maduro government.

Even acknowledging the power of TV as a medium -and I grew up not just under the spell of TV, but also within a family that made a living from it-, there is still no substitute for first hand impressions like those no TV monitor will ever be able to convey.

Ms. Tintori’s performance in the interview was nothing short of superb, and it confirmed and strengthened my conviction that the world will be a much better place once it is run by women, as I foresee it will eventually be. [Read more...]

El Mundial & US

En menos de un mes y a lo largo de todo un mes, el mundo todo estará viendo, viviendo y hablando sobre el Mundial de Fútbol de Brasil.

Este fenómeno que ocurre cada cuatro años pasa casi que desapercibido entre nosotros, los “Americanos” o estadounidenses, a pesar de que la presencia en la competición de nuestro equipo nacional se ha convertido en una costumbre, sobre todo desde que el numero de equipos o países en la fase final del Mundial pasó de los 16 que compitieron en Londres hace cerca de medio siglo a los 32 que compiten en la actualidad.

Y cuando digo “desapercibido” lo digo solo en términos comparativos: ya somos cerca de 35 millones y medios los ‘latinos’ en los Estados Unidos, y la mayoría estaremos pegados a la pantalla de TV. Los partidos del Mundial de Brasil llegaran a casi todos los hogares del país, lo que nos coloca en una situación ventajosa con respecto a países con una mayor tradición futbolera que la nuestra. Pero aún así, lo que me preocupa es que la mayoría de nuestros vecinos y conciudadanos lo verán como una curiosidad, que no sentirán ni remotamente el fervor y la pasión que sentirán quienes no tengan mas recurso que seguir las incidencias del mundial a través de la radio en un villorrio de Ghana, en el Oeste de África.

¿Por qué me preocupa? Porque creo, quizás ingenuamente, que si todos los “Americanos” conociéramos y entendiéramos mejor al futbol y el porqué es este el deporte que captura la imaginación de mas de dos terceras partes de la Humanidad, esa comprensión mejoraría enormemente nuestra comprensión del mundo que nos rodea. Y si hay algo que temo (que me quita el sueño) cuando trato de visualizar la calidad de vida que tendrán mis nietos, “Americanitos” todos, es a las limitaciones (la incapacidad) de nuestra nación a la hora de entender a cabalidad la realidad del mundo que los rodea, y de definir su rol en ese mundo. [Read more...]

The Bù Dilemma

For the past decade or so, I have been trying to bridge the gap created in my profession by over fifty years of dysfunction in the relationship between the US and Cuba. In so doing, I have come across a number of very good lawyers who were trained as such within a society and a socio-economic model, Cuba’s, which is very different from ours.

I met one of these very bright lawyers, Jesus Bu, in my last visit to Cuba, in October 2013, at a conference on foreign investment and international trade. Jesus was then back in Cuba, after spending eleven years in the US as a resident alien in the nineties.

Jesus was back in Cuba after been deported from the US as a result of a “mistake” he made –one that he and anybody else in his painful shoes would hardly hesitate to make, because it was all but forced upon him in no small measure by that very same dysfunctional relationship between our two countries. This is Bu’s sad but at the same time inspiring story. [Read more...]

The World Cup & US

In a little over a month, the World will be all but entranced with a ritual that, every four years, absorbs a month in the life of millions of football fans everywhere. (Yes, you read football: soccer sounds like something that is played in socks; football is a universal game where, most of the time, the players hit a ball with their feet, wearing football shoes).

Everywhere, that is, except in the old United States.

Or such used to be the case. But the US is fast becoming a multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural society where around 35.4 million ‘Latinos’ thrive, many among them rabid football fans, as I am. Many of us will be glued to our TV set watching the incomparable drama of the World Cup this summer, while keeping an eye on the NBA finals and the slow moving baseball season (and I love baseball too, in fact, it was my first sport just as Spanish was my first language, but let us stipulate it is slow).

For the past 35 years of my life, I have lived estranged from the angst a football season produces, say, in Spain, in Argentina, in the UK, or in Brazil. [Read more...]

The World Cup & US

In a little over a month, the World will be all but entranced with a ritual that, every four years, absorbs a month in the life of millions of football fans everywhere. (Yes, you read football: soccer sounds like something that is played in socks; football is a universal game where, most of the time, the players hit a ball with their feet, wearing football shoes).

Everywhere, that is, except in the old United States.

Or such used to be the case. But the US is fast becoming a multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural society where around 35.4 million ‘Latinos’ thrive, many among them rabid football fans, as I am. Many of us will be glued to our TV set watching the incomparable drama of the World Cup this summer, while keeping an eye on the NBA finals and the slow moving baseball season (and I love baseball too, in fact, it was my first sport just as Spanish is my first language, but let us stipulate it is slow).

For the past 35 years of my life, I have lived estranged from the angst a football season produces, say, in Spain, in Argentina, in the UK, or in Brazil. When I arrived in Miami, back in 1979, there was only one weekly TV show where you could have a glimpse of what was going on in Latin American or European football, a two hour Saturday afternoon program put together by an enlightened Peruvian foot-ball fan, Tony Tirado, where you could catch week-old football games from foreign lands. Today, due to “the magic –an ever more expensive magic- of Cable-TV” I can follow the best football leagues with the same dedication their respective fans follow it back home.

Every single World Cup game this summer will be carried live to homes all over America, but still, there is something missing. And it is that “something” that I mean to try to convey to my many friends in the US that still look at the real football (no offense intended) as little more than a curiosity. Because I believe –foolishly, perhaps- that if ALL of us Americans manage to understand football, and the strong hold this one sport has over well over two thirds of humanity, such understanding will do wonders to our ability to better understand the world around US (and if there is something I fear on behalf of my American grand-children and the quality of life they will get to live, that fear is firmly imbedded in our country’s inability to understand the world around it and find its proper place in it).

Football is not just a sport where you win or loose, score or save, laugh or weep. Football, the way I see it, is a reflection about and upon life, human life, a tool for solid bonding among humans, among many other things. Which is what makes it, again, in my humble opinion, an imperative for Americans to pay more attention to it.

For the first time we have a Pope who is an avowed football fan. Whether you are a Catholic or not, a religious person or not, a sport fan or not, that little piece of information should make you aware that you need to pay more attention to football, that football is not as trivial as it may seem to be. And I am going to try to help you understand it, even to generate in you some enthusiasm for it.