Listening to Obama / Diario de Cuba, Dariela Aquique Moon

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Dariela Aquique Moon | Havana | 21 Jan 2015 – Of course it wasn’t shown on Cuba television’s state channel, but Telesur did broadcast live and in full the State of the Union speech delivered yesterday evening by President Barack Obama. His spontaneity, his affable but convincing tone, his way of exhorting but not prescribing, and each of the issues addressed in his speech; it all makes me think this man is perhaps now one of the most progressive politicians in the world, though I wouldn’t want to be absolutist.

In the final of his two terms, when he has only two years left in the White House, Obama doesn’t want to leave the arena without having accomplished his proposals. And as he said himself, at this point in the game, his proposals go far beyond promises to gain followers in an electoral campaign, it is about doing what he believes is right and best for his country.

Listening to a speech like this and seeing the natural reactions of the audience, that some stand and applaud, get excited and express it; or some simply disagree, don’t clap and remain seated; seeing and hearing a speech like this, where there is no obligation of unanimity, no set slogans shouted, I see the face of democracy a little bit closer continue reading

, something I do not know because having been born in Cuba, and being only eleven when the bearded-ones entered Havana, I’ve lived here on this island that I don’t want to leave my whole life.

I confess I was excited when the American president asked Congress to suspend the Cuban embargo. When he talked about the reforms necessary in favor of immigrants who make up an important part of the economy and of US society. When he referred, without trappings and stock phrases, to respect for diversity. Beyond being male or female, black or white, gay or straight, Democrat or Republican.

Since I was a child, I’ve become accustomed to hearing only two types of allocutions: the bombastic, pamphleteering and extensive harangues of the Comandante; and for some years now, the brief, always read, and dull proclamations of the General. But both have something in common, the marked intention of convincing people that there is nothing more fair than socialism (their socialism). These fanatical outbursts that always try to show the dark side of any political practice would be somewhat compromised if all Cubans could hear Obama’s speech in its entirely, where he demonstrates that is possible to fight for social equality (or at least to try to), regardless of whether one is capitalist or socialist.

The American leader has demonstrated his excellent skills as an orator; this annual State of the Union will perhaps be considered along with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, as one of the best in American history.

Perhaps readers will think I have an excess of enthusiasm for a speech, And perhaps they are right, but I am not used to proclamations like this. This was a positive and hopeful speech in a context where everything appears to be starting to change once and for all. I’ve always heard political tirades to the point of paroxysms. And hearing Obama, I who want a different Cuba, I have a dream.*

*In English in the original

Who is more opposed to the suspension of the embargo? / Diario de Cuba, Dariela Aquique Luna

  • The first obstacle will not come from the United States Congress, but rather from the Cuban government itself.

Diario de Cuba, Dariela Aquique Luna, Havana, 22 December 2014 – Once again it is obvious that the supposed “culture” of the Cuban people can be summarized in terms of basic literacy and median levels of schooling. Except for a high number of intellectuals and professionals, the ability to process information and analyze it coherently is a gift that has not been granted to the majority of that population, who were not taught to think for themselves; whose knowledge of the world and of their own country for more than 50 years has been limited to official pronouncements translated into preconceived rhetoric.

Having only scarce Internet access, an ignorance of how new technologies are used, and a perspective shaped solely by state-run media, my compatriots are unaware even of how things work. Therefore it is not unusual to overhear very naïve conversations with one or more participants claiming that, following the announcements by Obama, happiness and prosperity have arrived in Cuba. This is because for too long, many Cubans have believed that all the evils afflicting this country are due exclusively to the United States embargo. continue reading

Were the economic, commercial and financial sanctions against the Island definitively suspended, the Cuban government would have the first problem, for there would no longer be a scapegoat for the deficiencies and errors in the state-run economy, and their resulting effects on the country’s social life. Cuba would have to enter the arena of the real economic relations that govern the world today and not those that have been invented at their convenience to conceal structural deformations, which have created a lasting dependence on other economies that have proverbially supported the productive system of the country terms of capital and technology. That would be the first challenge.

On the other hand, the changes expected by that nascent, small-business class in Cuba would generate panic in the sectors of power. This is because, as the Marxists say, “the economic base defines the superstructure.” It is exactly for this reason that the Castro government, from its first moments, focused on planning the state sectors of industry, banking and services, centralizing the administration of material and human resources, all in the name of “economic sovereignty,” but really only to disguise its paranoia about threats to its political power.

Another quite interesting point is the matter of allowing free access to the “network of networks.” This would be like carrying out a second literacy campaign in Cuba. We Cubans would have to start from scratch in such subjects as civics, law, commerce, urban planning, ad infinitum. In other words, as the Communists know very well, change in the economy would entail a change in society. What former US President Jimmy Carter said — “Going to Cuba, doing business and investing there will bring democracy to Cuba” — is something that the Castros and their henchmen do not want to hear.

Obama, Carter, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and many personalities and sectors, opine that normalizing relations with Cuba will help the US more effectively promote political change on the Island. But what the US president does not account for is the resistance to these efforts that the Cuban government and its supporters will mount.

Mr. Barack Obama is naïve to think that a change in strategy will bring democracy to Cuba. Cubans who think that an end to the embargo will make all things well are naïve. We will continue to hear canned phrases such as “foreign interference,” and “we will not permit anyone to tell us what we have to do,” and all the rest of the half-century-old chatter.

The Cuban-American right should not be so worried about the announcements and gestures coming from Obama. Who is most opposed to the suspension of the embargo? The first obstacle to ceasing the embargo will not come from the US Congress, but rather from the Cuban government itself – behind the scenes, of course, and not without extracting corresponding advantage from the matter.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison