Jimmy Roque Martínez

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – It’s been over two weeks since the governments of the United States and Cuba announced they were re-establishing diplomatic relations. People have written about it from many different points of view: there are agreements, disagreements and no few suspicions.

As for me, I am happy that relations between the two States are being normalized, as this should lead to an improvement in the quality of life and wellbeing of Cubans. It should also put an end to the suffering and separation of families that the conflict between these States has caused.

We must celebrate this development. That said, we should also be on the alert.

Since being appointed leader, Raul Castro has expressed his willingness to hold talks with the US government. He has been taking steps that point towards a capitalist transition on the island, towards privatization, a reduction of social benefits, an increase in retirement age and the loss of worker rights.

He has brought about changes that are preparing the country for foreign investment and trade: a new Foreign Investment Law, the Mariel mega-port and other projects.

Aware that US travelers will soon arrive in the country, he has gradually prepared the country for tourism, creating new hotel complexes and golf courses and redesigning the Havana Bay as a cruise port.

He has taken steps such as the release of some political prisoners, the reduction of massive mobilizations as protests against US imperialism and the modification of the country’s migratory laws.

The European Union, China and Brazil have taken note of the new course set by Cuba and are stepping up their investments on the island, despite the blockade/embargo.

The United States has been left without a slice of the pie and cannot let this opportunity pass. To stay out of the game longer could be detrimental to its business interests. The fruit is almost ripe.

For the Obama administration, this change in policy is a mere modification of tactics. His strategy, however, remains the same: an interventionist policy aimed at taking over Cuba, setting up US business and imposing on the country its politics and democratic model.

Throughout its history, the United States has not exactly shown itself to be a kind older brother that helps others selflessly. I am worried some people may be using these new means to pursue an interest.

To replace an authoritarian regime with another kind of repression, imposed by a foreign power, does not strike me as our best option.

So, let us take advantage of these new relations, but always on guard. We are dealing with two dangerous States and a depoliticized, self-censored and censored people that are anxious for any kind of change, unwilling to think all of the consequences through.

No one knows what the future will bring. We hope for the best, but, for this to happen, we must be on the alert. We must strengthen civil society, without interventions or impositions.

This year appears decisive for the country’s future, a future we must not entrust to any State, no matter how powerful. We must be on the alert to be able to respond appropriately. Wellbeing and freedom are not guarantees. As the declaration of the Alfredo Lopez Libertarian Workshop says: “US imperialism still stands. Cuban authoritarianism still stands.”

Jimmy Roque Martinez

Jimmy Roque Martinez: I was born in Havana in 1979, and it seems that work has been my sign. Custodian, fish farmer, lens carver, welder, glass maker, optometrist, have been some of my trades. But none consumes as much of my time as caring for my family. For many years I’ve faced the least pretty face of this society, and I try to be happy while I transform it. I am too shy. I like silence, sleep, theater and movies. I hate injustice and arrogance, and I can hardly contain my anger when it happens in front of me.

7 thoughts on “2015: A Decisive Year for Cuba

  • If the embargo was lifted as you say “millions of dollars” will be directed into the country (so let’s knock on its head the argument that the embargo has little or no effect). With the increased prosperity the government may increase its popularity and prestige. Though they would likely lose the handy excuse for failings and some of the cohesion that exists now when facing an outside enemy. So it is a double edged sword. But this argument is in effect circular as the embargo is creating the conditions that increase the unpopularity of the government. The bottom line is – if the government is as unpopular as you claim and that the vast majority of Cubans are anxious for regime change then lifting the embargo wouldn’t make that much difference. They could rise up on mass and demand regime change whether the embargo was in place or not.
    On your second point – you would say that wouldn’t you. However you are ignoring the fact that the embargo (especially if the economy collapsed) would bias any multiparty election especially if the media was controlled by US corporate interests. Look at what happened in Nicaragua. People will often take the easy way out if they have been worn down by war or siege.

  • The Castro regime is working very hard to get the the US to lift the embargo. Do you seriously think they would do that if it would undermine their hold on power???

    I have repeatedly stated my desire is for a free, independent and democratic system in Cuba. I don’t care if they elect a liberal, socialist, conservative, green party, or anarchist government. So long as the people of Cuba are free and the government respects their human rights. Viva Cuba Libre!

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