As Grateful as a Dog

Dariela Aquique 

Rafael Alcides Perez is a writer from Matanzas Province whose excellent works I often think about for their suggestiveness.  What caught my attention was the title of one of his books of poetry: Agradecido como un perro (As Grateful as a Dog), and it was exactly this that came to my mind when I heard things like:

“Did you read the new resolutions on housing yet!”

“Hey, now you can sell your house!”

“Selling one’s house isn’t illegal anymore!”

These are among the many expressions heard in the street from the Cuban public these days as new regulations and resolutions concerning the National Housing Act have come to light. [Supposedly to receive final approval and take effect at the end of the year].

With decisions made at the past Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), held in April in Havana, citizens will finally be able to sell their properties without breaking the law.

What’s remarkable about this is that people are displaying their gratification over the fact that their personal property rights are now being recognized, ending an extended period of these rights being denied them for no logical reason.  By force of habit, people have remained in absolute ignorance of their rights, yet suddenly the government has now decided to gift them what is rightfully theirs.

Absurd articles have governed civil rights in Cuba.  For example: renting one’s home was legalized a few years ago to Cubans and foreigners, while selling a home is only now becoming possible.  Other irrational prohibitions on citizens entering hotels and tourist resorts were rescinded some time ago.

There still remain many rights to be restored, such as the right to sale and transfer the titles of cars and motorcycles, access to telephone contracts and the Internet, or the right to travel anywhere in the world if one has the economic means (without letters of invitation, faked marriages or other types of obsolete bureaucratic procedures).  Less cruel, of course, than having to resort to illegal immigration, which has already cost so many lives.

It’s good, however, that the government is eliminating so many prohibitions, though this has taken such a long time.  Like a good friend told me a few days ago: “These are wise changes aimed at improving the lives of Cubans.  A half a century is little time for a country, but in the life of a person it’s too much, sometimes their whole life.”

Let’s then accept these new measures, but with approval, not with thanks.  When one is granted their own rights, there is no gratitude.  Otherwise we might appear as grateful as a dog.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

Dariela Aquique has 233 posts and counting. See all posts by Dariela Aquique