Sorry, No Change!

Dmitri Prieto

Havana girl off to school.  Photo: Caridad.
Havana girl off to school. Photo: Caridad.

When Obama won the elections in the United States there were great hopes and expectations.  It was not only because he was the first Black person to occupy the White House, but also because he clearly transmitted the image of a dynamic and charismatic leader.

He appeared as a man who was frank and hard working, and who had an excellent command of language and the public; a man who travels with his beautiful wife Michelle and their two girls.

Undeniably, we here in Cuba are not accustomed to associating that type of person with the post of the “President of the United States.”

Barack Obama has become a paradox for political analysts, and even more so for “average Americans.”  Last year, I was happy to appreciate hope in the voices and looks of US colleagues.

It pleased me greatly to see that they sincerely felt their country had arrived at a key moment for distancing itself from its ill-fated imperial geopolitics, as well as the dubious honor of being the only First World nation whose laws do not contemplate the universal coverage of basic social rights for its residents.

It also felt good to have a sense of solidarity with those colleagues, though doubt still gnawed at me on the inside.

President Obama.
President Obama.

A year since the elections, reality is something different.  And in Cuba, other airs also blow. Unfortunately, the news that we Cubans have received about Obama is not encouraging.

The Guantanamo naval base -with its torture center- still remains and another seven new US military bases installed in Colombia.  We don’t know if they’ve considered placing torture centers in these, but there’s nothing to prevent us from thinking so.

In Honduras, a coup d’état ousted a liberal president who had meekly embarked on forming political alliances and instituting social reforms, yet the US is offering to recognize the outcome of bogus elections in that country.

It’s not clear what Obama’s position will be towards possible dialogue with Cuba; but in the latest responses that he offered a blogger from the island, he showed no sign of such a decision, nor the courage that political leaders need to exercise true leadership.

It seems we’ve been hostages of certain preconceptions; we associated the simple change in the color of leaders’ skin with historic change in a nation (a new issue for the theoreticians of race and exclusion).

In reality, though, we continue being the hostages of multiple bureaucratic-capitalist and military establishments that enter into shady deals between themselves to maintain the status quo.

As for the issue of Cuba and the blockade, Obama’s hope for “gestures” (from Cuba) seems a timid and conformist position that favors the most backward political elements.  It would be better to say that Cuba is of no interest to Obama… because without sweeping initiatives on his part, everything will remain the same.

It’s a shame. Several months ago, several members of Cuban academia would go to public events wearing t-shirts and caps with the picture or name of the recently elected president.  It was undoubtedly a challenge to the prevailing standards of my country.

Nonetheless, those messages crystallized in my heart as mixed feelings of compassion, ingenuousness and pain.  Today I realize that my pessimism had a basis.

Obama has also now won a Nobel peace prize, and fortunately it seems that his health care reform initiative is moving forward.  Health care reform in a country like the US is a notable achievement, certainly deserving of a Nobel Prize; but “peace” in the world and in “Our America” continues with the dynamic and liberal Obama under the same precarious conditions as those of the gray-haired and fundamentalist Bush. There has been no progress.

Today Barack reminds me of the fare collectors on Havana buses, or the automatic soda machines in London: “Sorry, no change!”

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

3 thoughts on “Sorry, No Change!

  • Whether major issues, such as the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, or smaller ones, such as the U.S.’s (and Russia’s and China’s, too) refusal to sign the treaty banning land mines (though most of those killed or maimed by these diabolical devices are children and farmers, rather than combatants), Obama is flubbing-the-dub. While I “threw my vote away” in the last election by voting for Nader, my 17-year-old daughter volunteered many hours campaigning for Obama, and has not yet given up on him. Meanwhile, he has given the banks $900 billion (eventually $1.3 trillion), but unemployment is 10% (really 17% counting those who have “given up”). One of these same banks just upped the interest rate on one of my credit cards to a usurious 29%–take it or leave it–I think I’ll leave it!. Even the so-called health care reform looks like it will be D.O.A., and the “public option” has been deleted, in favor of giving insurance companies a free hand in raking in the boodle!

  • No one who was properly informed (first of all socialists — but not all of those either, sadly) was the least fooled by this song-and-dance fraud artist; this stooge of Wall Street. All the people who had “hope” in Obama for “change” only showed their limited grasp of the situation — and the failings of whatever worldview they believe in. Even the so-called “healthcare reform” mentioned above is the exact, orwellian opposite of what the name implies to the unwary. This man is simply our enemy. With a smileyface. A frontman for the Imperium. Better than the last one, is all.

    I’d say too that this phoney must be forced to hand back a bourgeois “peace prize” gotten under false pretenses; but the “New World Order” of Late Capitalism is too terminally hypocritical to even deal a second time with such an obscenity. Can we simply start demonizing this complete liar (and present and future war criminal)..?

  • Dmitri, how right you are: no change.

    There is however at least one positive outcome of the Obama presidency. For all our hopes that he would be very different than Geo. W. Bush, it looks as though he is teaching a whole new generation the essential reality of the US political system.

    There are not two major political parties in the US; there is only one. It might be called the Demopublican Party, or the Republicratic Party, depending on which politician you are referring to at the time; but, it is one party with a Democratic wing and a Republican wing. That’s the reality, and the new generation–and people around the world–are learning this through real-life experience.

    An item was brought out by Bill Maher on the Jay Leno Show several nights ago. It is highly ironic that, two weeks before Obama is to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, he sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan!

    Yes . . .ironic . . . and sad. What the heck can those Swedes be thinking?

Comments are closed.