I’ve waited several days before commenting on the debate that ensued among readers on my post titled “Don’t lecture us”; urgent matters had me prioritize other posts. However, I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to return to that issue. I was hoping, indeed, that it would be as controversial as it turned out, but some comments have brought to the surface certain doubts I want to clarify: I have never shown or felt hatred for Zapatero, nor have I ever questioned the right of Spanish voters to elect him president, I am glad that there are countries where people have the opportunity to elect democratically (an unknown experience for millions of Cubans) and furthermore, I am glad that citizens allow themselves to criticize the elected leader’s performance. However, for my part, I reserve the slightest right to question, at least, the dealings of any public official, from whatever country he may be, especially if he proclaims intentions that he doesn’t carry out de facto. I do not recall having mentioned Zapatero, but you can be sure that if I deemed it necessary to disagree with his position in any matter related to Cuba -as was the case with Moratinos- I would, even if he had been elected by the totality of Spanish voters as a whole. I don’t think I will ask permission to voice my opinion.
As for the fact that I, as a blogger, took a reader’s comment as reference, does not seem so special nor is it a particular honor, as some seemed to think, but it is a natural consequence of the debate that has been pursued in this blog, where I don’t intend to impose ranks or castes. I write with the same willfulness with which you read and comment, and I submit to my readers’ trial, criticism or questioning with each post I upload, offering my name and face to the public, so why shouldn’t I discuss or comment on certain readers’ criteria that move me to reply?
And since I don’t wish that anyone should suggest a tone of xenophobia on my part either, I insist that my evaluation of Spanish companies -among others- as “bandits,” comes from the in-depth knowledge that I have of the conditions of employment and wages Cubans that work for them are paid. There are not bandits because they are Spanish… but they are bandits indeed. To my knowledge, ALL foreign firms that invest in Cuba or contract Cuban personnel recruited from their respective countries, harbor and apply the draconian conditions of the contracts for nationals, knowing that, by doing so, they are violating major agreements of the International Labor Organization. And here I want to insert a proactive patch, the fact that this happens not only in Cuba, and that other sub-developed countries may suffer the same wrong, does not change the essence of my complaint. However, these investors are bypassing such “trifles” because Cubans are good workers and the contractors –such as the Cuban government- have obtained large profits in these dealings… Profits that now, ironically, are partially confiscated in the gaunt vaults of Cuban banks.
Similarly, foreign firms may impose unfair working hours because they know that the Cuban under contract, unprotected by any trade union, will be compelled to accept them or be turned out onto the streets, while dozens of other Cubans stand on line awaiting to be hired instead, to get at least a small amount of foreign currency with which to gain access to essential consumer goods. It is not mere sentimentality; it’s the stark reality. So it is that the so-called foreign “companies” have been contributing also to the “anthropological damage” that the renowned Cuban intellectual, Dagoberto Valdés, director of the digital magazine Coexistence, once defined.
I have reason to know of these maneuvers, and believe me, to share in them because they allegedly constitute a source of opportunity for Cubans is almost equivalent to justifying child pornography: “what the heck, those children were starving and their own parents sold them off”. Yes, I responsibly evaluate those Spanish companies and the rest of them as “bandits”, and I stand by it.
Finally, I support and encourage the participation of people of all nationalities in this humble forum, but I will not accept that my answer or response to any commentary be deemed as a special honor or as an exception; it is not about flattery or personal attack either. I feel close enough to the readers as to consider myself one of them. I tend to read each entry carefully and, as far as my limited Internet access permits, I respond to the e-mails I receive. Many readers can attest to that. Finally, I never tried to make anyone feel uncomfortable by bringing him into the ring -my sincere apologies to the reader that saw it that way- at the end of the day, I am the one who places herself permanently under the readers’ demanding magnifying glass, and I don’t flinch. Nor can I commit myself to never to do again: I avoid making promises that, in advance, I know I could not fulfill. Come on, friends, we are not among bandits in this blog!