Many of the topics being discussed in light of these times and the measures of flexibility being announced by the U.S. government, are the related to the possible answers from the Cuban government. Popular imagination, and hope long deferred, looks to the charismatic Obama as the source for any future changes for Cuba. Once again social criteria predominates, magnifying the importance of the powerful neighbor to the north to venture a solution to our ills. But are the causes of our problems external? Are we going to confirm the official line?
I must clarify that I too consider the measures the American president has begun to adopt to be important. Whenever I’m asked if I believe that these policy changes toward Cuba are positive, I reply confidently, “Yes.” It truly seems effective to me to destroy the principal argument of the Cuban government for repressing freedoms within Cuba. The myth of the external enemy is the first ghost that must be exorcised in the spiritual mass of the Castros. After that, the authorities must at least invent new ammunition, with the aggravating factor that already people don’t believe in the historic generation nor are they moved by events and slogans. Certainly we find ourselves at a turning point, something must change, but who should be leading the change?
It seems that Cubans, in their inordinate desire to always find the light outside their insular geography, just don’t understand that while a dialog between the governments of the two countries to begin to normalize relations is very significant and promising, and it facilitates the collapse of the official justifications for the internal restrictions (such as the humiliating exit and entry permits, the censorship of free opinion and free associations, the absence of civil and economic rights, and so on), the real dialog must occur between the government of the island and Cubans. It’s clear, however, that power will not agree easily to a dialog, especially given the national inability to demand from the leaders. The most discussed turning point now affects us all. If we Cubans are not capable of beginning to act civically, we won’t know what to do with democracy even if they give it to us. It already happened before. Will we continue like eternal adolescents, who hope to sleep with those who give them things they aren’t able to build for themselves? To date there don’t appear to be signs of another nature.
It’s possible that the embargo may eventually disappear. Then we will have to see if the mental blockade of a large segment of Cubans is maintained; as much inside as outside Cuba, they just don’t understand that it’s time to stop demanding solutions from other governments, the solutions have to come from the Cuban government. In this case, for example, consider the issue of political prisoners and human rights. The government, finally, after denying it for decades, has implicitly recognized the existence of political prisoners in Cuba, judging by the recent declarations of General Raul Castro, who expressed a willing to talk (with Obama, not with us) about these and other historically thorny issues. Earlier, he’d expressed a willingness to exchange the Cuban prisoners of conscience for the five spies (State Security combatants) imprisoned in the United States, thus recognizing the differences that exist between decisions made by a plantation owner and those taken by the president of a State governed by the rule of law. The political prisoners are hostages of the government, but they are Cubans; so they are OUR problem and not that of foreign countries, by which I don’t meant to exclude or spurn the importance of international solidarity.
Moreover, the existence of political prisoners in Cuba demonstrates not only the repression of the dictatorship, the absence of real democracy, and the lack of freedoms; but it is also a proof of the lack of a civic sense among Cubans, many of whom are ignorant of the existence of the prisoners themselves and of the terrible prison conditions in which they can barely survive. We follow then, with great interest, that which is brewing in the major centers of international politics, but we start by looking inward. So perhaps one day, when we finally have freedom, we will know what to do with it.