Obama’s new policy toward Cuba could mark the end of the olive-green autocracy
Obama’s new policy toward Cuba could mark the end of the olive-green
autocracy / Ivan Garcia
Posted on January 7, 2015
I understand the discontent of an important sector of Cubans in exile
and within the internal dissidence.
On 17 November, just one month before the momentous diplomatic turn of
events between Cuba and the United States, I was charring in Brickell,
Miami, with a gentleman who explained to me his reasons for hating the
Castro brothers. That day, a fine rain fell over Miami. The bitter cold
wasn’t the welcome one expects to receive in that thriving city of the sun.
The man had lost a lot. In 1959, his father was shot after a summary
trial in the La Cabaña Fortress by order of Ernesto Che Guevara. His
“crime,” had been being a police officer under Batista.
“He hadn’t committed any crime. He did not torture any member of the
26th of July Movement. He was shot only for political revenge and the
hatred of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government. Later they shot my
uncle who was raised in the Escambray. And many friends and relatives
were imprisoned, in subhuman conditions, just for thinking differently,”
he recalled with tears in his eyes.
In one of the pavilions at Miami’s International Book Fair, Hector
Carrillo, Radio Marti producer, told me about his father, a notable
architect, who lost all his properties and one autumn night died far
from the country that saw his birth.
His “sin” had been to create riches and design architectural spaces that
once made Havana a cosmopolitan city. Carrillo was born in the United
States, but he felt Cuban. He eats black beans and drinks Cuban-style
The film critic Alejandro Rios, a more recent immigrant, who probably
didn’t lose any family member at the execution wall or in a
Castro-regime dungeon, also has his demons in tow. He grew up and became
a man in a Havana neighborhood, breakfasting on coffee without milk and
with a mother who darned his father’s old socks so his brothers could go
Unlike the previous compatriots, Juan Juan Almeida grew up as an
olive-green bob vivant. Shops and entertainment at his fingertips. When,
in the ’90s, people were suffering malnutrition and daily 12-hour black
outs, the families of the nomenklatura, among whom was Almeida’s father,
continued drinking Scotch, sleeping with high-class prostitutes, and
fishing from yachts. That did not prevent Juan Juan from suffering the
despotism of Raul Castro.
Four generations that have come to dissent against the Castro’s by
different paths. And with different narratives, bet on a democratic
future for Cuba.
The most important thing is not what viewpoint should prevail. In these
56 years, in one way or another, we have lost something. From our
condition as free men to irrelevant citizens.
The government never asked us permission when the time came to trace
their grotesques policies. We always should accept, without question,
their strategies. Boarding schools in the countryside. African wars,
verbal lynchings towards people who left Cuba, and systematic campaigns
against the “enemies of the people”: nothing more and nothing less than
ten White House administrations.
Ask any Cuban if they didn’t applaud the promises and illusions of a deceit.
President Obama’s new policies will not change the rabidly totalitarian
mentality of a litter of old men who rule our destinies. But there are
several Trojan Horses.
The United States needed to throw overboard that weighty and
counterproductive foreign policy ballast. In the world, they ask others
to support their crusade for democracy.
The United States has been, and is, a paradigm of freedoms. The mambises
generals of the War of Independence asked the United States for help to
free themselves from Spanish colonialism.
The United States thinks and acts according to its geopolitical
interests. I will continue to bet on democracy and human rights on the
planet, but behind it is the stage of the gunboats or installing satraps
at the convenience of Washington.
The new rules of the game open up a formidable framework of options for
the Island’s dissidence. That can take advantage. Now the regime has no
pretext as a country under siege.
The time for the Cuban opposition to pass on the offensive is past. And
trace a coherent political strategy which it can shout out to a wide
segment of the population.
It’s time to demand a place in the political establishment. It has every
right in the world to govern. Especially when 56 years of Castro regime
socialism has been a disaster.
There are many issues that affect the citizenry, the dissidence could
wave them as a political flag. How can the government now justify
excessive taxation on private work. Or the prohibitions on 3D cinemas
and private stores.
There is almost unanimous agreement among Cubans, that the prices in the
convertible peso stores are absurd and exaggerated for a working
population that, on average, collects a monthly salary of $20.
Yes, there is a United States embargo. But why not debate the internal
blockade against creativity, freedom of expression, politics and economy
in our society.
Will they lower the science-fiction level prices of cars for sale? Will
the lower the five-dollar-an-hour cost of navigating the internet? Will
they eliminate the irrational customs taxes and fees.
Will the repeal the dark gag law, that calls for 30 years in prison for
dissidents and free journalists?
Now the dissidence can, joining the clamor of the majority, be a
sounding board and force the State to raise the miserable wages,
authorize independent unions, the right to strike, and allow free
contracting for labor and direct payment of wages by foreign businesses.*
If they are in tune with the feelings of ordinary Cubans, the dissidents
will add followers and gain spaces. It’s quite probably that the
government, still intoxicated by their diplomatic triumph, will not
cede. And it will maintain control of the media and harass the opposition.
According to Raul Castro’s latest discourse at the closing of the
monotone national parliament, nothing will change.
The regime is not going to give anything. It never did. Certain rights
will have to be grabbed.
*Translator’s note: Under current law, foreign-owned businesses must
contract with the government for labor and workers are paid only a small
portion of what the businesses pay the government.
4 January 2015
Source: Obama’s new policy toward Cuba could mark the end of the
olive-green autocracy / Ivan Garcia | Translating Cuba –