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Such is the political-social system imposed on us: obsolete, outdated, designed to be held up to the masses only for a period of time, but then fading away.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.