Dialogue between the color blind and the cynics / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 20 April 2015 — If it’s said that a dialogue occurred between two governments that have been opposed for more than a half-century, that they came to the negotiation table, one should first expect that both sides accepted the “errors” in their respective diplomacies, as occurred last March in Washington with the talks about human rights. But thinking this, knowing that the representatives of Cuba’s totalitarian government sat in one of the chairs at that table, is an enormous ingenuity or, simply, stupidity.

When the Cuban delegation returned to the Island, they appeared on television, supposedly to inform the population about what was discussed. They showed once again that you shouldn’t expect either democratic progress or human rights. They used their media time to criminalize the attitude of President Obama’s government, talking about U.S. spying and drones, and mentioning the resolutions presented in rejection of the U.S. action.

For his part, Chancelor Bruno Rodriguez, according to the presented medium, spoke of “the calamities on the world level, like hunger, preventable illness and illiteracy,” furthermore reaffirming the words of his “president,” Raul Castro, that “Cuba is not ready to falter nor cede its ideological points of view.”

At the height of cynicism he affirmed that “Cuba complies with the Declaration of Human Rights” and that it has signed the “most important conventions in this matter.” He also affirmed “Cuba’s prestige in sitting on the United Nations Human Rights Council.” And as if this were a public display of someone demented, demonstrating his total incoherence, he continued, “Proof of Cuba’s goodwill was its acceptance of 80 percent of the suggestions in the Human Rights Assembly in Geneva.”

How can a country that admits that it violates 80 percent of the Human Rights Convention assert that it enjoys “prestige on an international level?” I imagine it’s the opposite, that it “enjoys” in a negative way. But if neither they themselves understand, how could I?

In the end, according to what they demonstrated in Washington, both delegations squandered the contributors’ money, something that Cubans are used to doing, without even having the right to criticize officially in this regard.

Since December 17, when they made the secret conversations public between Obama and Castro, we raised our voices to affirm that they failed, and that they won’t achieve what Cuban civil society needs.

Castro is trying to gain time so Cuba will be taken off the list of terrorist nations, so that later the North American Congress will withdraw the embargo, although inevitably, already, there are reports of increased tourism, which Obama announced. It’s now reported that some million more tourists will help the asphyxiating and wasted Cuban economy, money that the dictatorship will know how to use later to repress those who oppose the social, economic and political model of the Castro clan.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Border Control Prison. Havana. April 2015

Translated by Regina Anavy