By Paula Henriquez
HAVANA TIMES — Obama came to Cuba and I can’t help wonder whether the much-announced changes will actually take place. I’ve become a little incredulous, see, having heard the same things time and time again and then seen that next to nothing changes.
It may sound as though I was opposed to the first visit from a US president to Cuba in more than 80 years, but that’s not the case. When I speak of changes, the changes we’ve heard so much about, I am referring to our own, those who govern us, who carry the stick in our beautiful country, to whether they’re actually going to allow the changes we need so much.
I recall that 17th of December, 2014, when we all followed the news of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and were hopeful, but only for a moment, for, as the days, weeks, months and even a year passed, everything worsened.
There were no improvements anywhere. The news continued to speak of the same things and didn’t address the most important issues, like the hardships faced by the average Cuban, a more than pressing matter. It’s not a question of talking about or criticizing something. It’s a question of advancing solutions, and that’s something I have almost never seen in our government approved journalism.
Don’t dismiss me as a counterrevolutionary, I’m not that. The majority of Cubans who work at “good” State jobs know what I’m talking about, the difficult process of making ends meet every day, the painstaking effort to find motivation to continue working and not send it all to hell, as I’ve often wanted to do.
To be clearer, there have been changes, but the average Cuban, the one who has to catch a bus to get to work, who is paid in regular Cuban pesos and has to work miracles to stretch out their salary, simply does not see these.
I could mention countless examples, but it would be an endless list. They are complicated issues and I find it exhausting writing about them. I feel that, the more I mention them, the more they crowd in on me, as though by the law of attraction.
I believe that making our problems known and criticizing isn’t the solution. We also need to propose solutions, open up to the world and, as such, allow the world to reach the people. Of course, some will say Cuba has already opened up to the world, and this is true, steps have been taken in this direction, but we still have a long road ahead. The world has to open up to us, and, I don’t know why, but I feel there’s still fear in this connection.
When I’m asked how I feel about Obama’s visit, I reply that it’s okay, that I think it’s positive he came. Does he have any hidden intentions? I wouldn’t doubt it, we all do. But, if he’s actually interested in helping the Cuban people and making things easier for us in many senses, I say we shouldn’t be afraid. Ultimately, aren’t we a free and sovereign people? Who says it’s so easy to enslave us again? It’s also a good thing to have different points of view, that’s what makes us better Cubans and love our country more.
We only need that, what I mentioned at the beginning, for our own to accept that change won’t destroy us or strip us of our principles. We’ll continue to be Cuban, in Cuba or wherever, one need only have a look at those who decided to live abroad to see this…customs, idiosyncrasies aren’t lost. What we want is to move in step with the times, revolutionize the country with new technologies, live without having to worry about the basics of life.
And, if we finally do see the changes, if our beloved island accepts the changes, I ask myself: will there be room here for all the Cubans who live abroad and want to return to the country they miss so much?