Cuba and How Times Change

Rosa Martínez

Official Cuban journalists in the White House. Foto:

HAVANA TIMES — When, on December 17, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that the last of the five Cuban agents who’d been imprisoned in the United States for nearly 15 years would return home, the news, though expected by some, took many by surprise, especially those who’d lost hope they would ever be reunited to their homeland and dear ones.

If the emotive images of the so-called spies returning to Cuba as heroes were incredible, so was the announcement that diplomatic relations between the two nations would be reestablished after more than 50 years of conflict.

Millions of Cubans living on both sides of the Strait of Florida began to speculate! Everyone, from primary-schoolers (who have been instilled with visceral hatred towards the government of the world’s greatest power), through young people (who long to move to the land of opportunity) to those in Miami, who could not imagine any understanding with the Castros – not with the immortal Fidel and far less with his younger brother Raul.


At different times after December 17, I’ve talked with a number of people in Guantanamo who like me, had begun to think about a Cuba that was friends with the yanks.

Daniela, a professor at the University of Guantanamo, says that, for her, the most important thing is for the two countries to start living in peace, despite their differences.

Luisito, a 12-year-old child, says that the only thing he cares about is for his dad to be able to come to Cuba whenever he can and for him to bring over everything he needs, until he can take him and his mother with him for good.

Nicolas, the chair of a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), says we cannot trust the United States much, that one cannot drop one’s guard where the enemy is concerned (and now more than ever). According to him, the coming-and-going of yanks won’t be as good as we think.

For Raul, who works in a cafe, this is what he’s been hoping for all along. He says that in politics, as in life, one has to be smart. Fighting with one’s neighbors doesn’t achieve anything, he claims. On the contrary, we must get along and get the most out of that relationship. He hopes that, as more and more US citizens come to the island, privately-run businesses will continue to prosper, that what we need is a strong economy.

“For those of us with nearly the entire family living in the United States, nothing could be better than this,” says a dentist whose relatives are all living on the other side of the Florida Strait and whose main interest is maintaining ties with her loved ones.

“Dollars, what we need are greenbacks. That’s how all problems are solved, and no one has more money than the yanks. We have to stretch out our hands towards those people, see if we can get out of this backwardness,” a barber says. One of his customers remarks that, if US businesspeople start to invest in Cuba, not all of our problems will be solved, but it will surely be a huge step forward.

Moving Forward

On May 21 to 22, the fourth round of conversations between the two countries was held in Washington, again in an atmosphere of respect and understanding. After more than 50 years, a group of Cuban journalists entered the White House. We hope that new doors continue to open and all of the changes announced by Obama continue to materialize.

On May 29, the US State Department officially took Cuba off its list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Cuba has also found a bank willing to hold the accounts of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which may become the Cuban embassy in the near future.

Though we all are relieved to see the beginning of trade with the United States, we shouldn’t start thinking that the solution to all of our problems is to be found ninety miles from our costs. We must continue to make progress through our own efforts, for only thus will be create the Cuba we all want.


10 thoughts on “Cuba and How Times Change

  • I used to live there. I visit frequently. I’m married to a Cuban woman. What’s your story?

  • Generally, foreigners are not allowed to be treated in non-tourist hospitals except for emergencies. How and whom did you pay? What was the name of the hospital? Of course I win.

  • First off, it was not a tourist hospital. I don’t know about you, but I have to work for a living and I can’t believe I am wasting my time with a person that doesn’t have an open mind — you win.

  • Moses, there is no debate with you. What makes you think you are such an expert on Cuba? When was the last time you were there, or, haven’t you ever been there?

  • As usual? Then you read my comments frequently? Thank you but next time engage in the debate rather than just lob criticism.

  • I agree with you that tourist hospitals in Cuba are oddly well-equipped given the poor quality of hospitals for Cubans. As for bedside manner, what does that have to do with the Castro dictatorship? Unlike most, the problems in Cuba are indeed personal to me. My wife’s family remains in Cuba and subject to Castro oppression. What you obviously fail to consider is had there been no embargo, how many more countries would the Castros have been able to export their totalitarian brand of socialism? Consider how well things are going in Venezuela.

  • Moses, why don’t you give it up? It appears you have a personal axe to grind. I just got back from Cuba and love the country and the people. The U.S. and Cuba are neighbors and this ridiculous embargo has not accomplished anything but making the U.S. look like a bully just to satisfy a few dissidents like yourself.

    Get a life!!

    I am a registered Republican and don’t often agree with Obama but with this, I totally agree. If the Republicans block this effort it can only be based on bullshit politics. I am switching to to become an independent.

    The first time I went to Cuba in February I fell at the airport and fractured my hip and had to have surgery and spent seven days in a Cuban hospital. We need to send some of our doctors and hospital staff there to learn what bedside manner is all about.

    When I got back I went to an orthopedic surgeon and after performing an X-ray he was very impressed with the work done by my Cuban Surgeon.

    On this last trip I went back to the hospital to say hello to my doctors and nurses and it was like a family reunion.

    Let’s get it on and get it over with!! LIFT THIS WORTHLESS EMBARGO that only satisfies selfish people like yourself

  • What specifically did you find offensive in his comment?

  • rant, rant, rant…tiresome as usual, Moses

  • It’s no big deal to me that official Cuban media are able to cover the White House. That’s why we call it “free press”. The big deal is when CNN, for example, will be able to freely cover Raulita in Cuba.

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