US Congressional delegation meets with Cuban activists and independent journalists /14ymedio

Patrick Leahy, Debbie Stabenow, Chris Van Hollen and Sheldon Whitehouse entering their hotel in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

Patrick Leahy, Debbie Stabenow, Chris Van Hollen and Sheldon Whitehouse entering their hotel in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio, Havana, 19 January 2015 — On Sunday afternoon a dozen activists and representatives of Cuban civil society met with the American congressional delegation visiting Cuba. Chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy, the group was able hear diverse opinions in response to the announcement of the reestablishment of relations between the two countries.

A member of the delegation confirmed that the Cuban authorities were aware of the meeting with the activists and had made known to the American side their displeasure with the meeting.

In a relaxed atmosphere, several of those present expressed the conviction that “this opens a new era” and demanded greater transparency in negotiations, according to what they themselves reported after the meeting. Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, gave lawmakers a list with the names of 24 prisoners who, on humanitarian grounds, should be included in an upcoming release process. Continue reading

Cubans Euphoric Over the New Regulations / 14ymedio

Counterclockwise from the top, Miriam Celaya, Manuel Cuesta Morua and Dagoberto Valdés share with us their reactions to the new US regulations.

Counterclockwise from the top, Miriam Celaya, Manuel Cuesta Morua and Dagoberto Valdés share with us their reactions to the new US regulations.

14ymedio, Havana, 15 January 2015 — The new regulations on travel, insurance, the import of goods, remittances and telecommunications that the United States will put into effect with respect to Cuba as of Friday, have already provoked the first reactions on the Island. Although the evening news barely mentioned it at the end of the show, the information passed mouth-to-mouth on the street.

Lilianne Ruiz, independent journalist, received the welcome news and noted, “This flow of people who are going to come, along with the increase in the remittances, means the country’s return to normalcy.” In the opinions of this reporter, “The Cuban government is going to weaken, the only thing left is the repression and the restrictions. This will make people more accurately identify the origin of our difficulties.”

Among the most attractive points of the new regulations is the authorization to establish “telecommunications installations within Cuba, as well as installations that connect third countries with Cuba.” Internet connectivity and cheaper mobile phones are demands that have gained strength in the last year, especially among the youngest.

Yantiel Garcia was outside the Telepoint Communications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) in Pinar del Rio. The teenager said that she hoped that her brother in Jacksonville, Florida, could now help her with a technological gadget to connect to the web. “If the American mobile phone cards can be used here, my brother will pay for a data package for me to navigate without restrictions.”

The “ball is now in the Cuban government’s court,” said an ETESCA official who preferred to remain anonymous. As he explains, “The number of visitors from the United States will grow and the country will have to offer them a solution to connecting while they’re here.” To which he added, “It’s a question of business, not of ideology.”

The families who receive remittances will also benefit from the increased dollar amount that can be sent each quarter. The prior figure was limited to 500 dollars every three months, while now they can send up to 2,000 dollars to relatives residing on the Island.

At the Metropolitan Bank branch on Galiano in Havana this morning, several old people hoped to complete bank transactions. Cristina Marrero was one of them and she explained that she has one son in New York and another in Atlanta. For this lady the most appreciated measure is the one related to the sending of parcels in large quantities. “My sons have furniture and appliances that they want to send me and this is an opportunity,” she said.

For his part, Julio Aleago, political analyst, said that “Since 1959 the Communist government has always tended to isolate the country from the rest of the world and these measures will increasingly integrate Cuban into Western free market values, democracy, participation, free exchange of people and goods between countries.” With regards to the American embargo, still in effect, he said, “In the same way the American government imposed sanctions on Venezuelan and Russian officials, that should serve as a paradigm, instead of establishing a general embargo over the whole country, punish those personalities of the military government who have something to do with violations of human rights.”

As of Friday, airlines will not need a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to fly to Cuba, and this has received a good reception on the Island. This afternoon at Jose Marti International Airport’s Terminals Two and Three, the news spread like wildfire.

Dayane Rios, who was waiting for her grandmother who had been visiting Washington for three months, commented, with the illusions of youth, “This time she had to travel through Mexico because there are no direct flights, but I hope that for the next trip she can do it more directly and cheaply.”

However, although there are no new regulations about a possible maritime connection, many Cubans also dream of the idea. “Pick a place on the Malecon, when the ferry comes all of Havana will be seated on the wall,” one bike-taxi driver joked to another, crossing near Maceo Park.

Manuel Cuesta Morua finds, “The direction this normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States is taking very positive. If we think about the phrase let Cuba open itself to the world and the world open itself to Cuba*, than what is happening is that the United States is opening itself to Cuba, it is like opening the world.” The opponent pointed out that “The impact on the social empowerment of the citizenry, on issues of information and on the possibilities to manage their own lives, is very positive, it’s going to help to ease the precarious situation of Cubans.”

Dagoberto Valdes says, “I am in favor of everything that benefits the ordinary Cuban citizen, the facilitation of travel, communication between civil society here and there, between one people and the other, I am in favor of everything that improves the quality of life.” The director of the independent magazine Convivencia (Coexistence) also added that, “To those who say this is oxygen to the Cuban regime, I say that I am not a believer, I don’t think the Cuban model works and oxygen only works in live models, it doesn’t work in dead ones… what is the value of giving oxygen to this system if the structure of the cell doesn’t work.”

Miriam Celaya said, “It seems positive to me that Americans can travel to Cuba, that it will widen contacts between the two countries, but I don’t know how this is going to empower Cubans as long as all these government controls exist here, as long as free enterprise continues to be demonized and there are so many prohibitions.” In the activist’s opinion, “These measures empower Americans, but in the short term they do not give Cubans back their rights.

*Translator’s note: A phrase uttered by Pope John Paul II during his 1998 visit to Cuba.

Several Activists and Reinaldo Escobar, Editor-in-Chief of “14ymedio”, Arrested / Cubanet

Cubanet, 30 December 2014 — The activist Eliezer Ávila and journalist Reinaldo Escobar, Editor-in-chieft of the independent daily 14ymedio and husband of the blogger Yoani Sánchez, were arrested this morning at 11:40 am by members of the State Security outside the building where Escobar lives, according to the lawyer Laritza Diversent from Havana.

The source, after a telephone conversation with Yoani Sánchez, added that the patrol officers of car N.328, carried out the arrest violently. So far the whereabouts of detainees is not known. According to Yoani she was not allowed to leave her residence.

It is presumed that the authorities are trying to prevent the attendance of opposition figures at the performance of artist Tania Bruguera to be held this in the Plaza of the Revolution.

Also arrested were activists José Díaz Silva, leader of the Opposition Movement for a New Republic (MONR), and the Lady in White Lourdes Esquivel, according to the Twitter account the opponent Manuel Cuesta Morua.

The Associated Press Calls Us ‘Mercenaries’ / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua

US sends Latin Americans as subversive agents, according to AP

US sends Latin Americans as subversive agents, according to AP

14ymedio, Havana, Manuel Cuesta Morua, 14 August 2014 — Two separate reports from the American Associated Press (AP) agency, published urbi et orbi, reproduce a syndrome of certain US media in relation to Cuba, at least in the last 55 years.
The syndrome began in 1958 with the New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews, and his sympathetic tale of the bearded ones in the Sierra Maestra; it could be called the Syndrome of the Ultimate Thule, that mythical and distant place in classic antiquity beyond the borders of the known world, where the sun never sets, and the reign of the gods is behind the customary events occurring on the world stage.

In this undisturbed world, inaugurated by the myth, there is no external influence—and if there is, it’s called ‘interference’—its inhabitants can be treated like idiots, that is they don’t think about freedom for themselves, and certain common words acquire another meaning.

Above all, it’s about a world that should not be altered, and any attempt to do so could only be a conspiracy; generated, naturally, by external forces. The role of the media is exactly this: to transform facts, to endorse the vocabulary of those who rule in the name of good, and show evil as banal. Continue reading

A Preview of the Next Cuba / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Reinaldo Escobar

  • Interview with Manuel Cuesta Morúa from Constitutional Consensus
  • Options under discussion: Change the 1940 Constitution, the 1976 update or create a new constitution
  • The Project involves most of the relevant organizations from the civic and political community, inside and outside Cuba
Manuel Cuesta Morua

Manuel Cuesta Morúa

Reinaldo Escobar, Havana | May 23, 2014

Question. What is the objective of the Constitutional Consensus project?

Response. To convene civil society and citizens to work for constitutional change, and to create a new Cuban constitution that is based on three key realities and requirements: citizen control of the State, which is the premise of democracy; the rule of law, which ensures that no one is above the law; and the limitation of power, without which there is no respect for fundamental freedoms. This is the central objective, seen through three integral and interdependent paths.

    We are still governed by what is probably the last Constitution in the Soviet mold still in existence in the world Continue reading

Dissidents: “It implies an ignorance about how things work here.” / Manual Cuesta Morua, Antonio Rodiles, Jose Daniel Ferrer

Letter to Obama: The internal opposition questions that it doesn’t address human rights on the Island.

Manuel Cuesta Morúa, president of the Progressive Arc Party

“It is not very viable to address the proposal directly to self-employment in Cuba since it implies an ignorance of how things work here . It is the government which grants and takes away the license, which doesn’t allow loans from international banks, and which monopolizes the importation of goods and commodities. So the impact of these potential resources will always be limited.

“I find it interesting that this initiative is based in the United States and not Cuba. It is dangerous for Cuba, like the hug of a bear, because Cuba is very weak as a nation. Nor do I see in this letter a clear defense of human rights and freedoms, and that makes me a little suspicious.” Continue reading

Manuel Cuesta Morua Nominated for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize

Manuel Cuesta Morúa. (EFE)

The Program for International Democratic Solidarity of CADAL, Democracy Bridge, has nominated Cuban dissident leader Manuel Cuesta Morúa spokesman for the Progressive Arch Party, to the Václav Havel 2014 Human Rights Award, according to their press release.

The award “aims to reward civil society action in defense of human rights in Europe and beyond. The candidates must have made a difference in the human rights situation of a determined group, have contributed to the exposure of large-scale systematic violation, or have successfully mobilized public opinion or the international community to review a particular case,” said CADAL (Center for Democratic Opening in Latin America), based in Argentina. Continue reading

At Repression’s Ground Zero / Lilianne Ruiz

The first time I set foot in that scary place called Villa Marista, similar to Lubyanka Prison in the now fortunately disappeared Soviet Union, it was by my own will. I accompanied Manuel Cuesta Morúa to see Investigator Yurisan Almenares, in charge of Case No. 5, 2014, against Cuesta Morúa, after he was arbitrarily arrested on 26 January of this year to keep him from participating as an organizer of the 2nd Alternative Forum to the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum, held in Havana.

His detention ended 4 days later with the notification of a precautionary measure that was never delivered, but that obliged him to go to a Police Station every Tuesday and sign the document, for the supposed crime of Diffusion of False News Against International Peace.

But the precautionary measure was only shown to the eyes of the person it concerned once: on 30 January when he was released. In practice, Cuesta Morua was signing an unofficial paper. Imprecision characterized the situation from the beginning. The reasons for the arrest and the case they sought to bring against him had no direct relationship, which shows that the old school mafia of the Castro regime still rules in Cuba: studying the penal code in order to destroy their adversaries, manipulating the law until the punishment proves your guilt.

In Villa Marista I wanted to see the face of someone working there inflicting pain on other human beings. Punishing them, not for violating universal law, which could not exceed the measure of punishment, but for not expressing loyalty to the Castro regime.

For some reason I connected with the mother of Pedro Luis Boitel, who I saw in a documentary titled “No One Listens.” She said that her son, having been persecuted in the Batista era, always found a door to knock on, an opportunity to save himself from death. But in the times of Fidel Castro is wasn’t like that, and Boitel died after a hunger strike, imprisoned in the cruelest and most degrading conditions, in La Cabaña Prison.

Those were the times when the International Left granted the Cuban government impunity so that it could improvise a vast record of human rights violations. And Cuban society, terrorized, also looked the other way: escaping to the United States, while “going crazy” to step foot on the land of liberty. It’s not very different today.

Villa Marista is a closed facility. It can’t be visited by an inspector from the Human Rights Council, nor from representatives of civil society organizations–dissident and persecuted–to ensure that they are not practicing any kind of torture against the prisoners and are respecting all their rights. The government has signed some protocols and declares itself against torture, but we don’t believe in the government and those who have passed through Villa Marista’s cells bear witness that they do torture them there to the point of madness in order to destroy the internal dissidence.

And if someone accuses me of not having evidence, I tell them that’s the point, that it is precisely for this that the Cuban government opens its jails to the press, not controlled by them, and to the international inspectors and Independent Civil Society, because what the Castros present is fabricated by the regime itself.

Not only the dissidents are tortured. Nor do we know if it’s only with “soft torture” which is still torture. Also there are workers who make a mistake and are accused of sabotage, without being able to demand their inalienable rights or defend themselves against such accusations.

It made me want to open doors, to be very strong and kick them all down. To find a legal resource for the Cuban people to investigate–and the right to presumption of innocence–all those who work there. Even the cooks, responsible for having served cabbage with pieces of cockroach to a friend’s relative, a simple worker, who was kept there for long unforgettable days, who was interrogated like in the inquisition to extract a false confession from him. They didn’t even let him sleep.

But I have gone only into the reception area: polished floors, plastic flowers, kitsch expression to hide the sordidness of the jailers instructed by the Interior Ministry; the misery reaching into the bones of the prisoners down those shiny floors. Villa Marista is one thing outside and another inside, as the common refrain says.

Investigator Yurisan Almenares didn’t show his face. Perhaps he wasn’t ready for the persecuted to find him. He had no answers because those guys can’t improvise. They have to consult their superiors, not the law or their own conscience.

A smiling captain took us into a little room and explained, almost embarrassed, that the Investigator wasn’t there and she would make a note of what Manuel was demanding. So I watched as she carefully traced the words he was pronouncing.

We wanted to get notification of the dismissal of the case. There was no precautionary measure; ergo there should be no case pending. This not to say that the presumed case was unsustainable without the precautionary measure. Living in Cuba it’s impossible to escape the reality of power, however absurd and Kafkaesque it may be, like kicking the locked cell doors of Villa Marista.

Remember, the crime has a name as bizarre as Diffusion of False News Against International Peace. And the supposed false news deals with the issue of racism in Cuba, where the government teaches discrimination for political reasons in the schools, and talks about the issue of racial rights, not inborn rights, but as a concession emanating from the State dictatorship; and administered so that it can later be used for revolutionary propaganda.

But racism is still here, rooted in society like a database error that manifests itself in daily phenomena that shock the whole world. Growing, along with other forms of discrimination and masked under the cynical grin of power.

Manuel Cuesta Morua knows this because he has dedicated his life to record this phenomenon in Cuba, historically and in the present. Thus, he has written about it on countless occasions and takes responsibility for every one of his words.

We went there without getting answers. My mind filled with the memory of these people I don’t know who are imprisoned there, half forgotten by the whole world, their own attorneys in a panic.

One thing we can promise Villa Marista’s gendarmes and its top leaders, wherever they hide themselves: some day we will open all those doors, and after judging, with guarantees of due process, those who oppress us, the place will become a part of the popular proverbs turning Cuba into a nation jealous of the freedom of its citizens.

Lilianne Ruiz and Manuel Cuesta Morua

22 April 2014

Declaration of Cuban Civil Society Activists Joining Forces in Madrid

ReunionenMadrid

Cuban activists meeting in Spain

Madrid, February 26, 2014

For recognition of the legitimacy of Cuba’s independent civil society

We, activists of independent civil society, have agreed to promote a representative group to act as a channel of dialogue with international institutions and other potential partners.

Since the ratification of our commitment to peaceful methods to achieve the Rule of Law, we demand from the government of Cuba and before the international community:

1.  The unconditional release of all political prisoners , including those under extra-penal license (on parole).
2.  The end of political repression, often violent, against the peaceful movement  for human rights and pro- democracy.
3.  Respect for the international commitments already entered into by the government of Cuba, the ratification – without reservations – of the International Covenants on Human Rights and compliance with ILO conventions on labor and trade union rights.
4.  Recognition of the legitimacy of independent Cuban civil society.

Subscribed:

Yoani Sánchez – Blogger

Berta Soler – Spokesperson of the Ladies in White

Elizardo Sanchez – President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Cuban National Reconciliation

Juan Felipe Diaz Medina – Christian Liberation Movement (MCL )

Guillermo Fariñas – UNPACU

Manuel Cuesta Morúa – Progressive Arc

Reinaldo Escobar – Journalist

Antonio Guedes – President of Ibero American Association for Freedom (AIL)

Guillermo Gortázar – President of the Cuban Hispanic Foundation

Javier Larrondo – UNPACU Representative in Spain and EU

Virgilio Toledo – President of Coexistence Spain

Frisia Batista – President of Roots of Hope Spain

Elena Larrinaga – FECU

Alejandro González Raga – Cuban Observatory for Human Rights

Blanca Reyes – Ladies in White

Eduardo Pérez Bengoechea – Coordinator of International Human Rights Platform of Cuba

Tomás Muñoz and Oribe – Cuban Liberal Union

The “Murderous Law” Which Allows Many Cubans to Eat / Manuel Cuesta Morua

Havana, Cuba,November 2013, www.cubanet.org.– The Cuban Adjustment Act generates a lively controversy on both sides of the Straits of Florida. For the government it is the cause of indiscriminate exodus by Cubans to wherever, and for some of the exiles it constitutes the best escape valve which the regime utilizes to ease its tensions. Another sector inside as much as outside of Cuba considers it a means directed at protecting Cubans from a double abandonment: territorial and by the State.

Curiously this last sector is the only one that demonstrates a nationalist sense when defending the measure. In effect, protecting its nationals in any circumstance shows a vision and foundation that is appropriate for nationalism over ideology and that deserves to be applauded.

This regardless of abuses of the law.  It is true that we Cubans have been taking advantage of this law in two ways: as political refugees, which is not true in a great number of cases, and as a source of economic sustenance for our families, which explains why many Cubans avail themselves of the law to search for an economy that the Cuban regime does not permit to be built. And the effects, it is clear, have been debilitating. Continue reading

Manuel Cuesta Commits to a “Common Strategy” for Change in Cuba / Manuel Cuesta

MORUA-300x228

Manuel Cuesta Morúa

On Monday, Cuban dissident Manuel Cuesta Morúa, spokesman for Progressive Arc of Cuba, and a Cubanet journalist, committed to a “common strategy” of the opposition to bring about political change in the island, and he denounced the repression exercised by the Government over private initiative in the economy.

Cuesta Morúa, on a visit to Spain, said in a press conference that “Cuba is changing, it is a fact… but not as result of a citizen strategy to move towards democracy,” but as “a kind of social mutation.”

“The people,” said this social democratic leader, “have been seeking their own paths… to confront that difficult reality we’ve been living for more than fifty years.”

According the the Cuban opponent, the Government, “has no national project to resolve the serious accumulated problems and the reality of daily life for Cubans… it’s mission is to remain in power,” he concluded.

In this situation, the strategy of civil society is “to connect citizens with a new strategy of consensus, with the end of seeking a new constituent assembly.”

Failure of economic returns

He denounced the failure of economic reforms the Executive tried to make in 2008 and said that there is a “profound social fragmentation” on the island, along with signs of “racism, poverty, extreme poverty.”

He said that Raul Castro’s government exercises repression over private initiatives through “taxes, lack of incentives, or outright repression,” because “he is not interested in generation a middle class.”

However, he said that “the only coherence for a national project in Cuba is a political opening accompanied by an economic opening.”

As an example of the failure of the Cuban economy, he said that the remittances coming in the country from Cubans abroad reach $5.1 billion dollars, versus $4.1 billion from tourism, the sale of drugs and sugar.

“We rely more on the support of our families than on the production of Cuba, “ he said.

According to the opponent, the reforms announced by the Castro Government, such as the elimination of the dual currency, is due to pressure from potential foreign investors that require improvements to develop their projects on the island.

With regard to the travel and immigration reform that allows Cubans to leave the island, Costa Morúa affirmed that it is “collateral damage” that they had to accept on the request of some “partners” of Cuba who asked for “gestures” to support them in the international community.

He also said he is in favor of lifting the U.S. Embargo of Cub, which “doesn’t help society nor the democratization of the country,” and provides “the best alibi” for the Government, “nationalism.”

Asked about the possible assassination of the regime opponent Oswaldo Payá, he said that he, “doesn’t subscribe to that thesis… I don’t think there’s clear evidence that points to a State plan to assassinate Oswaldo Payá,” dead after a car accident last year on the island.

He said he believed that his death answers “to the inability, lack of professionalism of the Cuban intelligence services, which followed him and weren’t able to control the harassment to which he was subjected.”

From Cubanet, 4 November 2013

Castro’s Strategy, in Short: A Perfect Manual for Disaster / Manuel Cuesta Morua

HAVANA, Cuba, August, www.cubanet.org — Does Raul Castro have a vision for the state? After seven years in office the question bears asking. Perhaps few people thought about it during the previous forty-six years because most observers just assumed that Fidel Castro had a grand plan for the state. But in perspective I do not think so. One can be a political animal yet lack a strategic vision for the country. What is clear, however, is that Fidel Castro did have the political fiber required to constantly to remain in power.

He demonstrated the abilities necessary to fuse a founding myth with a sense of opportunity and social control. And everything seemed perfect politically as long as he was able to hide the brutality of his regime, his absolute lack of principles and his incompetence at financial management behind this fusion. But where his lack of vision for the state can be seen is in not having left behind anything serious, such as a legacy, in the three areas where he uprooted the myth: in the social, in values and in the reconquest of the nation. In the end he did not know how to do what politicians with a head for strategy do. He did not know how to reinvent himself.

The followers of Castro, the tall one, can say what they want in his defense. However, this only demonstrates that the confusion between expectations and results continues to be fascinating material for two types of study: mythology and clinical psychology. It has nothing to do with reality.

Milk and marabou

It was hoped that whoever came to power in 2006 would take a healthy dip in reality. Cuba had strayed so far from its revolutionary dreams that this cleansing would be a preliminary step in confronting the task refreshed and with mental clarity. Asians know a thing or two about the relationship between the sauna and the mind. And this appears to be what happened when Raul Castro, in a speech on July 26 of that year in Camaguey, said two trivial words: milk and marabou. They indicated a fresh return to the abandoned land, and an idealized return to the land as metaphor; this after a lofty, fattened regime anchored to the rest of the world only through rhetoric and foreign subsidies.

But strategically the shorter Castro could write a how-to book on disaster. I will not dwell on the long list of his economic adjustments and their social consequences. Much has been well and wisely said about the failure of his so-called economic reforms, notwithstanding the analytical obstinacy of an unwavering group of academics, prominent in the news media, who did (and do) not realize that in terms of economic reform Cuba had (and has) to learn to run, not just move. So I am not interested in judging Raul Castro by his own words. We must measure the man by his results, not by his efforts.

There are two areas I would like to visit in order to analyze what I consider to be a worrying lack of national vision or strategic proposals. One is the port of Mariel and the other is the set of factors facilitating the exodus to what Cubans refer to as la Yuma, meaning everything outside the island, whether it be Brazil, Haiti or the  United States itself.

The island as banana republic 

Many see in the construction of the port of Mariel a brilliant strategic move. I see the new port as a step towards turning the island into a banana republic, as we used to be portrayed in the schools of most Central American countries. A social poet, who visited several places in our archipelago to feel its vibration before reflecting them in his poetry, described us at the time as a synthesis that was simultaneously powerful and depressing: Cuba, the ruin and the port.

I find no strategic value in a project that ratifies Cuba as a landlord state, living off of a couple of assembly plants and on being the connecting port-of-call between a super-power (the United States), an emerging power (China) and a jolly secondary power (Brazil). Foregoing the economic possibilities offered by the knowledge economy in favor of one for which we are better prepared — one which depends on the crude economics of the exploited and poorly paid port worker — does not get us much closer to a strategic vision for the state. Nor does a property owner prepared to collect tolls and warehouse fees from all who pass through his ports. But that is indeed what is happening.

Mariel: a circle of illusion

This is because — and here the circle of illusion becomes complete — such a step presupposes two additional elements. One is a deep knowledge of the internal reality of the countries in question. The other is effective control over the temptation of the governmental elite to decide things lest they forget that there is a new port in Cuba called Mariel.

Keep in mind what happened in the Soviet Union in 1989 and in Venezuela in 2013. Having information about what really takes place in countries that affect us economically, and being able to process it, is not the strong point of revolutionary leaders. The former socialist superpower collapsed and Maduro won in spite of losing. China is only interested in money and we have none. And Planalto Palace — the headquarters Dilma Rouseff took over from Lula da Silva — has been trembling lately.

Let us remember that investments in Mariel were being managed by a risk-taking partner, President Lula, who held out the promise to a Brazilian business conglomerate, Odebrecht, of a hypothetical opening by the United States to Cuba. It is as though a fiancée were to put on a wedding dress without knowing for sure that her intended would show up to satisfy her nuptial ambitions. A fiancée who, on top of everything else, behaved as though she did not have to do anything to attract the very specific type of suitor she was after by showing him anything he might possibly find attractive in her.

From subsidies to an economic enclave

There is nothing strategic about turning a subsidized economy into an economic enclave within the confines of old-fashioned capitalism, especially for a country that loudly demands — or rather politely requests — a comprehensive modernization built on the foundations of a knowledge-based economy.

If you are wondering why the government of Raul Castro is involved in this issue, which we know as state strategy, then imagine all that can be done by using Cuba’s potential to assure the structural integrity of the country, guaranteeing a relaxed transition and re-legitimized mandate for successors who lack the pedigree of the mountains we know as the Sierra Maestra.

A new port development provides no insurance in either of these areas. It puts Diaz-Canal in quite a precarious position relative to two interest groups. One is made up of real estate interests tied to unproductive corporations, and the other is made up of citizens excluded from sharing in the pie, which can only grow arithmetically rather than exponentially.

And the exodus to la Yuma? Well, this is where the disconnect between the sense of the treasury and the sense of State is perhaps best revealed. Now that the treasury no longer puts food on the table, we have weakened the possibilities of redefining the State by making an overseas sojourn possible for what the utilitarian language of economics calls human capital. It really surprises me that the emigration reform law has been so widely applauded. After granting fifteen minutes of fame to the restitution of a right that did not have to be taken away, there should have come a serious and sober analysis of its medium and long-term impact on the nation and the country, which are really the same thing.

Living off remittances 

Two facts continue to be confused: as an economic reform measure, the migratory reform converts Cuba into the El Salvador of the Caribbean: living off remittances. And as the restitution of a right, it destroys the options to rethink an economic model to export the best young minds of the country, as a country like India has avoided.

The media analysis has blurred the problem, focusing the discussion on superficial political terms. They say that the Cuban government has thrown the ball in the court of the rest of the world, as if it were a tournament which, in reality, doesn’t exist between states — all countries let their own citizens leave and abrogate the right to allow the citizens of other countries to enter — and obscure the principal debate: the fate of a country, aging, losing in a trickle or a torrent its potentially most productive and creative people and, on the other hand, not rebuilding its image as a possible nation.

This the principal problem of our national security. And it only has one origin: The concentration of the political in a single lineage. The philosophers of this matter are right: politics begins beyond the family sofa.

The problem takes on a new light, more dangerous in terms of national security, with an immigration reform targeted to Cubans by the United States, much deeper than that of Raul Castro. The granting of a five-year multiple-entry visas to those who live on the island grants a right foreigners greater than that granted by the Cuban State to its own nationals living inside and outside the country. This is somewhat embarrassing. Cubans from here can freely enter and leave the United States for much longer than Cubans can enter and leave their country of birth without renewing their permit.

Citizens of both countries

One of the results we have, one which I want to focus on, is this: we Cubans have become, in theory, resident citizens of two countries. Cuba is one, you choose the other. This is an issue that goes beyond the transnational nature of our condition — very well analyzed by Haroldo Dilla, a Cuban historian based in the Dominican Republic — because over the long term it weakens the center that serves as the axis to the global nature of citizenship. We Cubans will stay in the same place in an ambivalence that weaken loyalties to a nationality that one now feels and lives anemically. A strange and dangerous situation for a country lacking a sense of solidity.

If the story says that the new U.S. policy serves to promote relations between Cubans and Americans and between Cubans and Cuban Americans, in reality we are moving to a scenario in which relations between Cuban-Americans, in fact, resident on the island, and Cuban-Americans by law, resident in the United States arise and are strengthened; and on the other hand between Americans and Cubans residing on both shores.

All that will be left is an irreducible minority, regardless of their ideological leanings, who will resist nationality in both, taking American or Spanish nationality as strong reference points.

So, we return to the economic and cultural circuit of the United States — in some way we have already entered that of Spain — which we supposedly left more than half a century ago. Not to mention other smaller circuits such as those of Jamaica and Italy.

Surrendering to this reality, hiding behind the anti-imperialist rhetoric of “no one surrenders here,” that keeps obsolete arms oiled and “repaired,” is evidence that the strategy of the State has never accompanied the Castros. Will our paradigm as a nation ever be viable? The question is not rhetorical.

From Cubanet

18 August 2013