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, 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