Feature Articles Archive
2008-08-05 / Miriam Leiva
Where are the Structural Changes?
HAVANA, Cuba – The events over the last two years in Cuba would provide enough material to surpass Franz Kafka’s novels or to unhinge Karl Marx, if it weren’t for the suffering these events represent for the people being jerked around by the broken promises, the enigmatic changes that never come and the tantrum of the ‘absolute ruler,’ who is neither willing to prolong these conditions or to make the smallest modifications.
The speech read by Raul Castro on June 26th dismissed whatever hope that I had that he would execute the structural and conceptual changes which he predicted a year ago. He betrayed the vague promises that came with him assuming the Presidency and his Cabinet of Ministers last February 24th. Even though Raul recently said in the National Assembly that he would consult with the ‘Commander in Chief’ about all announcements and was counting upon his consent, Fidel’s published Reflections tarnished each step that Raul has tried to take. In the street, people comment that Fidel Castro’s presence could be seen on more than just a huge banner during the dedication ceremony in Santiago de Cuba.
As it is known, the changes that have taken place in reality have been surreal for any other citizens in the 21st century. Cubans can stay in their own country’s hotels, acquire mobile telephones, buy computers (without access to the internet) and do some other trivialities. As far as the land, which should urgently be providing adequate nutrition to the people, it will be turned over by the regime with several limitations and uncertainties. The rumors, called lies in Cuba, that rapidly circulated about the freedom to work for oneself, the sale of autos and dwellings, as well as the freedom to travel outside of the country, didn’t make it beyond being everyone’s aspirations, so unfairly restricted.
It was the reading of a speech about protection against a ‘yanqui’ enemy that will never arrive, along with the announcing of military exercises designed to show the armed forces’ power to the people and to continue planting the fear in them that has been there for every day of their lives since birth. Because, as the head of state would tell us, 71% of the population was born after 1959, which means that they have never known any other government, nor life’s other possibilities.
The difficult conditions and daily shortages will not be resolved, but they will try “minimize the inevitable consequences of the current international crisis for the population, that the state will conveniently explain to them the difficulties and how the people should be able to prepare themselves to confront them.”
It seems that not only is the US embargo to blame for our crumbling buildings, but also for the administrative and productive incompetence that have created the nutritional and economic crises in Cuba, as well as the impossibility of allowing freedom of expression and honoring human rights. All of it stems from the community outside of .
It is less than six months until they will commemorate 50 years since totalitarianism came to power. Whereas, Raul Castro was showing signs of good sense in order to get the society out of the general crisis that is overwhelming the people (who already have no desire to bear more children so as not to prolong their suffering), the ‘leader’ was recuperating his outdated and reactionary egotism.
People can not decide whether it is a joke in poor taste to say that “without question, we should explain in a timely fashion to our people the difficulties and thus be able to prepare ourselves to confront them.” Does this mean that up to now difficulties have not existed or that they weren’t hard enough? But more unbelievable turns out to be the statement that “one must become accustomed to not only receiving good news.” With all the predicted calamities, including the alleged and improbable American invasion, and the only real promise being death, they are searching for the good news. Possibly, it has not been understood that the good news would be the aspiration of maintaining totalitarianism in power for another 50 years.
Even if that is the case, the repression is not a long term solution, much less when there is so much frustration and youths with aspirations for living properly. The social tension won’t diminish even by imposing exile, which adds suffering to those whose only option is to abandon their families and homeland, in order to procure a better future. It is striking to note the happy departure of so many of the leaders’ children, who possibly don’t appreciate guarantees of perpetual impunity.
Cuba shouldn’t be anyone’s personal property. Raúl Castro still has the means to fulfill his promises and to move the country forward peacefully a great deal more for benefit of all Cubans.