Judge or Divide? / Antonio Rodiles

HAVANA, Cuba – The debate set off by the letter from more than 40 personalities asking for the relaxation of restrictions towards the Havana regime letter from more than 40 personalities asking for the relaxation of restrictions towards the Havana regime has been copious. Those who support, as a premise, that Cubans must regain their fundamental rights and freedoms have responded with intensity and been very explicit in declaring that it would be members of the regime who would have the most to gain from these measures. Meanwhile, the silence from the Island of those who support this document is striking. I haven’t read a single article defending it.

Amid the controversy, today I came across an interview on the new site of Yoani Sanchez, who in the past has expressed support for the agenda of Carlos Saladrigas, one of the principle promoters of the anti-embargo missive. The interview refers to the debate and its headline caught my attention. I quote:

“The proposal has unleashed passions and speculation, also fueled by the imminent arrival in Havana of representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Cuban society, however, seems to remain out of the headlines, the hot articles, the replies — or support — like the so-called “letter of the 40” already circulating on the networks and in emails. Thinking about this uninformed population submerged in the big problems of everyday life, I did this interview with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who received me in Washington a few weeks before the launch of 14ymedio.”

Cuban society has not remained “outside,” and more and more one hears the opinions of citizens of “this uninformed population submerged in the big problems of everyday life,” who openly  acknowledge that it is not the embargo that is responsible for so much hardship, but a dictatorship willing to continue preying on the country.

The writers, intellectuals, journalists, activists, political prisoners, readers and forum members, from outside and within the island, who have expressed themselves lately on the subject through articles and comments in DiariodeCuba.com, Cubanet.org and other sites, also make up the Cuban nation. Those who offer their opinions from within and support projects and other independent media and constantly confront the repression of a dictator and his regime, also belong to Cuban society.

Amid intense debate and without even taking part, to attempt to be the voice or the channel that can inform the Cuban people about what is happening is pretentious and a dismissal of those who have engaged in this controversy.

The need for political honesty is fundamental, 55 years of Castrismo has been too long a time of simulation. Now is a time for greater transparency and clarity. Hopefully that openness is an essential part of the political game, even if it hurts. Hopefully those in Cuba who have their agendas, and their companions, will provide something of interest to demand the rights of those who are totally defenseless, and not resort to justifying themselves in relativism.

When the future of a nation is at stake, it is important to respect diverse opinions and visions. But it is also basic to pay special attention to those well summarized in an phrase by the journalist Raul Rivero, those who are “very close to the fire.”

The debate about the embargo occupies a primordial space in Cuba today. But it should contain as an essential element the demand for our basic rights. And here we have the United Nations Covenants as fundamental tools. Ratifying them and implementing them would give us a real scenario of changes and then, perhaps, we would begin to glimpse another Cuba.

May 28, 2014 | Antonio G. Rodiles