By Armando Chaguaceda
In my previous entry I discussed our society and the future. I couldn’t have had a busier week than the one that included the weekend of April 17-19, bursting with promises, ambiguous speeches and high-level political chess moves. When the Fifth Summit of the Americas closed in Port of Spain and its echoes arrived, announcing a new era for Cuba, the generations that cohabitate the island were astonished.
Born into a situation of daily shortages, equity under siege, and a discourse of intransigence, the generation of my students will be the target audience of the seduction of Obamania. The new US administration, practical and intelligent, seems determined to seek diplomatic means to a more relaxed modus vivendi with its socialist neighbor.
Despite a still understandably proud islander, the countries of Latin America persist in pushing for Cuba’s full participation in the Organization of American States (OAS) and promise to formalize this demand at its the next meeting.
The aging Cuban leadership vacillates between signals of openness, disdain and silence, prolonging a stream of ambiguous news articles that bewilder the Cuban people regarding the leadership’s strategy for dealing with the changing scenario.
There are two elements that might be overlooked by the gullible and inexperienced: we must not confuse detente with solution and we must not let this opportunity for dialogue slip away.
In this situation it is neither acceptable for us Cubans to be obstinate nor play the role of a chump. To combine clarity, strategic firmness and tactical flexibility is as difficult as it is essential. And if we mere mortals understand this, should it be very difficult for our seasoned decision makers?
My viewpoint seldom coincides with the conservative tendency of Cuban authoritarian and centralized socialism. However, I believe strongly in some of its aspects, especially its distrust of Washington. As I understand history, the goals of US foreign policy (which includes subjugating Cuba to various forms of imperialist domination) are only adapting to the current rupture in US global hegemony; they have not disappeared.
My father taught me, and some of our leaders say, that the US “has no friends, only interests.” And the “enchanting Obama,” despite his charisma and wide support, still faces powerful obstacles that limit his options.
The reporting that reaches me from Cuba exudes a mixture of excessive optimism, confusion and distrust anchored to an unyielding attitude. Today all the rhetoric that promotes or sews confusion or antagonism among the Cuban leadership (whether originating from within or deceitfully induced by outside actors) only benefits the hawkish defenders of the blockade.
Those of us who experienced the hard times of the crisis in the early 1990s, who later suffered every day Bush’s ridiculous threats, and are witnessing the left’s reemergence on the continent can only feel modest hope.
Looking toward Cuba’s future, we need to expand opportunities for participation, equality and freedom, diversity, and eliminate state control over the political sphere. We need to reap the benefits of the notably high level of education, access to culture and egalitarian mentality inherited from the 1959 Revolution.
Writing these lines brings back memories of my maternal grandfather who died a rebel and a Fidel supporter, of my uncle from whom I learned the Cuban mix of communism and playfulness, and of my soldier father who encouraged me to become a teacher and a social scientist and with whom I learned, in discussions around the table, the value of tolerance.
For all of them, for my memories and hopes, I want to believe that before we are willing to negotiate anything with our stalking neighbor, we Cubans will be taken into account in the decisions made at the high-level and stormy summits, not as pawns of change or beggars, but as citizens.
We must overcome the Stalinist and annexationist postures that threaten us, in order to debate and transform among ourselves the achievements of the revolution that we have defended, filled with wounds and dreams over the past half century.