It’s Going to Be a Tough Year in Cuba

Irina Echarry

Photo: Stanislav Retynski

HAVANA TIMES – When 2018 drew to an end there wasn’t any rejoicing on our streets, in fact you could pick on people’s agony of having to keep up a tradition at all costs.

A lot of Cubans believe that another special period is lying in wait for us around the corner, and that we will have a tough year in 2019. There are lots of shortages, lines and hostility. Transport is pretty much like it was in its worst moment and people’s comments on the street is what really catches your attention. At least mine because they go beyond just personal remarks.

Cubans have always grumbled about problems, but now they aren’t just complaining, they are also mentioning a solution almost like they used to in the ‘90s: “the only thing to do now is leave”; “how much longer will we have to carry on in this same shitty situation”; “I believe that next year all of this shit will come crushing down because there’s no way we can carry on like this.” I’m not saying that we’re ready to take to the streets, no, but people are very disgruntled; and it not only relates to shortages, but to the Constitution as well.

Ever since the popular consultation phase regarding the new draft Constitution was announced and a printed copy was made available, I had already decided my vote. People close to me were still harboring some “hope” about certain points in favor of marginalized groups, and I was uneasy about not standing with them in their struggle. However, I must admit that the PCC has managed to make it easy for me to vote NO now and have a clean conscience.

Paving the way for an animal protection and welfare act was one of these “hopes”. If more and more countries are doing this and creating legislation, then how is it possible that the “non plus ultra” in solidarity, kindness and culture can’t? In order to get this legal protection, the perfect thing to do would be to write somewhere in the Constitution that the State recognizes and protects animals as living beings that feel and will consider abuse against them to be a crime.

I was a witness (and took part even though I it wouldn’t be good for anything) of people’s requests to include articles of such a nature so that this could be possible, but it didn’t happen. Even though the National Assembly mentioned the thousands of people interested in this being taken into account, it didn’t seem like an attractive proposal for our lawmakers (?). It’s really sad because right now the recent zoosadism case has gone unpunished, the man who had been arrested is now back home. What charges can they take a man, who only tortured, raped and killed animals, to court for?

Marriage as an institution isn’t my cup of tea. I believe it was an instrument that was used, ever since it’s very conception, to contribute to the subjugation and negation of women, so, I don’t approve of it. I recognize that a lot has changed over time and that it should be everyone’s personal choice whether they want to get married or not, without any kind of discrimination. Today, this still isn’t a reality for a lot of people.

After trying to overshadow tough issues with a supposedly progressive reforms process, they decided to make us buy a pig in a poke; now for two people of the same sex to be able to get married, we must first support the “new” Constitution and then approve a family code that still hasn’t been disclosed to us.

So, now I’m not worried at all, I will vote NO with a clean conscience. Because I don’t agree with the article that stipulates: “the media in all of its forms and supports can only be socialist property belonging to everyone”; and that the State is also the one who “establishes how they are organized and operate.”

I know journalists who work for government media and want to collaborate with alternative outlets, or have their own blog, without causing any problems. If this “proposal” remains as it stands, who knows what Machiavellian resolution will be made for these professionals who would be violating the Constitution.

And I like even less the idea that artistic creation is free, but its content has to respect the values of socialist society. Is it free or not? Can you put any restrictions on artistic creation?

I absolutely reject the call for hate and to an armed struggle against other Cubans. I want a document where freedom of speech and association are truly respected, as well as people’s access to information.

But, first and foremost, I will be voting NO because I refuse to perpetuate the Communist Party’s tutelage over our minds and bodies, which is enshrined in Article 5. Doing so, we open up a space for the Party to continue to dictate what is and isn’t included in the Constitution and, then approving it, the Party can invent a horrifying disturbance to revoke it when it doesn’t suit it any more… and so on. It’s an awful situation and if I can choose, well, I decide that this must not go on.

There are more and more people like me who are identifying with voting NO, in spite of the government’s desperate publicity campaign (as they own all our media) to endorse the document that has been approved by the National Assembly. Social media has contributed a lot to this debate and tough everyday life on the street has raised awareness among the population.

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Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

Irina Echarry has 232 posts and counting. See all posts by Irina Echarry

5 thoughts on “It’s Going to Be a Tough Year in Cuba

  • En todo pais ocurren cosas buena y malas. Mantener un balance equitativo de la informacion es valioso. Ayudar a entender la cultura es significativo a la hora de emitir juicios.

  • I think I agree with Irena. How can anyone agree to something that has not been disclosed and that appears to limit personal freedom on such a personal subject.

  • This writer does make some valid points.Unfortunately she undermines her credibility by her basic lack of tolerance for anyone or anything how does not agree with her

  • Hello Cuba! I hope 2019 works out well for you in the end. Cuba is a wonderful country full of wonderful people – I spent three weeks there in December and will always have great memories.

  • Your comment about marriage seems very narrow minded, and I think many women would find it offensive. In a real marriage both husband and wife, or wife and husband are equals, and they treat each other as such. You are painting all marriages with the same brush, and how can you possibly make such comment.

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