There’s No Turning Back Now for Cuba

Dariela Aquique

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 30 — When I’m out on the street, in the corner bodega store, at the bus stop, standing in the line at the Coppelia ice cream parlor, at the farmers markets, relaxing in any park, visiting at the homes of friends, sitting at a table sipping coffee with some stranger, in any of these places people speak in one voice using one recurrent phase: “This isn’t working anymore.”

No demonstration of the outraged around the world is comparable to the state of outrage and indignation experienced by people here. The pitiful living standard that Cubans have been forced to adopt is unsustainable.

Nonetheless, the “anthropological damage” (the phrase used so often by my friend Alfredo to explain people’s fear of free expression), almost assumes we have no rights as citizens, but only ways of asking for trouble or losing one’s job or freedom, depending on the case.

There is a visceral panic when it comes to free expression, an unawareness of us having all the legal authority under the Cuban Constitution to express disagreement. If it’s not permitted us then it’s worth demanding.

But fear is the reason we’ve yet to see Cubans take to the streets in protest demonstrations demanding change – and not partial change, but a general one.

This is something that can no longer be disguised. The younger generation, middle-aged people, the elderly, everyone making up the vast majority has woken up from the collective state of hypnosis in which they were immersed, or pretended to be immersed, over these past 52 years.

It is a population that feels cheated, where the promise of “by the poor, with the poor and for the poor,” sounds just like the buzzword “planned obsolescence.”

Such is the political-social system imposed on us: obsolete, outdated, designed to be held up to the masses only for a period of time, but then fading away. The problem is that it’s not programmed like cutting edge technology; rather, it has the congenital defect of those regimes that only seem to work in theory, while in practice they demonstrate their ineffectiveness.

Yet some things are changing. We can now find the video and written materials of Estado de Sats or Razones ciudadanas and bloggers, photos and postings on unofficial sites, the statements of artists or intellectuals in any demonized setting.

Likewise, the simple responses by anyone on the street to our incredible life situations, evidence of privileged lifestyles and corruption within the militocracy and the Communist leadership at the highest level (as exposed by former military exiles on Miami television programs).

Everything leads us to a single conclusion: the scene is changing for us here.

Change is imminent on our island, but how will the transition be? This is the question everyone is asking, with the fear that it will occur in the worst way possible, which is what we must avoid. A civil conflict should not be the manner, much less foreign intervention. Nevertheless, an immediate end to the prevailing political situation is urgent.

The new tactics of reformist resolutions and bills are inadequate and fruitless. Changes like being able to sell or buy a car or a house, or to check into a hotel, or to have a cellphone are nothing more than crumbs. They are being used by the government to placate citizens.

They are no more than expedient alternatives to buy time to deal with the wave of unpopularity under which they are submerged.

Writing is my way of contributing my speck of sand to that change. Every day more people are adopting this point of view. We’re turning the page in Cuba, and now there’s no turning back.


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.

16 thoughts on “There’s No Turning Back Now for Cuba

  • “Changes in the system”

    But towards what? That’s what’s missing.

  • Luis there have been changes to those laws by presidential resolution so they are not follow to the letter in those laws.

  • “So the embargo is not as air tight as it used to be.”

    You clearly have no idea of how the embargo works. Torricelli Act? Helms-Button law?

    I’m sorry, but apparently you’ve stopped at the 17th century.

  • Luis,

    The embargo is the excuse for everything bad with Cuban economy while we can show their problems have nothing to do with the embargo. If they are able to do commerce with the rest of the capitalist world what embargo are they talking about? I admit things may be more expensive for them to be purchase on other countries specially if they intent to purchase american made products but each country got the right to set to whom they sell.
    Like I mentioned before I am also in disagreement with the embargo. In fact I think we should have full relations with Cuba and also be able to purchase their products. The elite in Cuba have not suffer anything with the embargo only the Cuban people.
    I also believe is immoral to force people to vote your way by forcing their hand thru an embargo. No foreign power should do that to the people of any country. It is Cuban right to self determination here at stake. In this point I am actually in agreement with a regime I detest.

    Going back to the embargo. Let us be clear. Currently we have a lot of trade between Cuba and the US. They are allowed to purchase food and medicine pretty much all they want. But they need to pay cash. I do not think they can purchase anything else. So the embargo is not as air tight as it used to be.

  • I believe she already suggested a solution she wants changes that the current leadership is not willing or is hesitant to make. Changes in the system.

  • Cuba is a nation in a standby mode, perhaps waiting for the upcoming natural death of both Castro brothers, to avoid a bloody civil war.
    Raul Castro’s way is “frijoles better than tanks”; so it carries the implicit warning he is willing to launch his army and security forces against the people, to crush with lethal force our demands for a better life.

    Nobody can tell how it will end, but it will sooner than later; with or without frijoles and tanks. I bet on it !!!

  • Once again, Dariela, your critique is devoid of solutions.

    So, Cuba is on crossroads. What are your suggestions for the situation? I see none on this (and many more of yours) posts.

  • It’s the embargo.

    Can you show me otherwise…?

    You are so naive, Julio.

    You think you’re free in the duocracy of the US of A where both parties submit themselves to the interests of the industrial-military (and financery) complex.

    I know the Cuban government has made mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. One of them was not implementing a sufficient industrial park while it could (ie, before the ‘Special Period’), and I agree that paternalism is horrible, but things are much deeper and complex than that.

  • I must say I detect here and have detected so often in Cuba solidarity activists a paternalistic condescending attitude when telling cubans what they should or should not strive for. Cubans have the right to make their own mistakes, This is a bit like parents trying to stop children from burning their fingers. It will not help. it just makes it more inevitable. Just like the US I think Cuba activists should step back and stop interfering.
    There is also the point of what they or people like Elizabeth mean by Cuba? Do you mean the government? Do you mean the people? Cuba solidarity activists claim to support Cuba’s (never Cubans’) right to self-determianation. Even Raul Castro effecxtively had to admit that more and more Cubans no longer believe in what those in power do and want. Cubans inevitably will make choices they/you/me disapprove of. But you have no right to stop the Cubans choosing what they want regardless of what you want. The status quo is corruption and hipocrisy. Is it your aim to maintain that? if not, then let the Ciubans do what THEY want.

  • Nor is there any turning back for the US and the entire capitalist world, Dariela. The monopoly banks have gotten their way over the past decades and have saddled the US, Japan and Europe with almost unimaginable credit debt. Paying the interest on this debt, in every country, is sucking up everything not needed to sustain a bare existence for a majority of the people.

    The only solution that might maintain monopoly capitalism is for the banks to forgive and abolish this debt. But they will not do that because it is against the nature of the beast. And so, monopoly capitalism, not real socialism, is headed for a great fall. The tragedy is that it might destroy the world ecology irreversibly–and thereby human civilization–before it expires.

    You believe, Dariela, that the Cuban system is doomed, just as it is changing its dysfunctional ways. I disagree. It is monopoly capitalism that is doomed. The forthcoming decades will see it replaced by corrected socialism, i.e., modern cooperative socialism, or we and our grandchildren are all in deep trouble.

  • You have no idea what that other world is like. There is something to be said about the special period. I often worry about being homeless in one of the richest nations in the world. I have a college degree. Thankfully I am employed but I know it can be wiped away at any moment. Food, clothing and shelter that is all I need.

  • Elizabeth, I believe those are choices they each must make on their own and no government should be able to dictate and tell them what the right choice is. Paternalism is horrible.

    “Your economic problems are not caused by socialism”

    How do you know this? Can you show me ?

  • Cell phones kill bees. Dependency on oil kills the oceans and atmosphere. Excessive use of computers harms your body, especially your eyes.

    I suggest Cubans stop worrying about having what the tourists have. It’s not worth the trade-off.

    Focus instead on developing yourselves as artists, musicians, scientists, farmers and healers.

  • “The pitiful living standard that Cubans have been forced to adopt is unsustainable.”

    Your economic problems are not caused by socialism. They are caused by US aggression. And there’s no way you can solve that problem. You’ll just have to wait for those white men in Washington DC to let up on you, and that probably won’t happen soon. But don’t worry about your economy. Instead, focus on growing healthy food and fostering green ways to live. It is better to be poor than it is to be a predator or to sleep with the predator. Cuba, in reality, is one of the richest countries because it still has a healthy ecosystem and doesn’t have nuclear power plants. But oil spills in the gulf I imagine have had their negative effects.

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