HAVANA TIMES — Without a doubt, the Cuba we have today is not the one most Cubans dream of. This is true of Cubans living here and even more so of those living abroad.
Monthly salaries aren’t even enough to cover the most basic human needs (food, hygiene articles and clothing) and workers are forced to commit crimes, lie and cheat others to be able to give their families what they need.
A professional must work abroad on a government mission so that, in two or three years’ time, they can buy what they could never get their hands on back home, not even working away their whole lives.
Dozens of young people leave the country every day through different and sometimes extremely dangerous means, such as taking to the sea on makeshift rafts or crossing the vast American continent to reach US soil (the Cuban Dream many never reach, for they die trying), as they do not identify with the current government and do not feel their demands are even considered.
High-performance athletes are not the only ones who leave the country in search of million-dollar contracts. Medical doctors (some of them lured to abandon their commitments in Caribbean countries through the United States’ fast visa program), engineers, technicians, the self-employed, home keepers, young and old, are also leaving.
The world has changed and we have stayed behind in different technological areas, such as the Internet. We are one of the least connected countries on the planet and one of the last countries to introduce Wi-Fi services for the public, at one of the highest prices out there.
The freedom to gather, protest, form political parties and disagree with the government still does not exist in our society and these practices are treated like crimes. During a press conference offered by Barack Obama in Havana, Raul Castro said there are no political prisoners in Cuba. I don’t believe this, but the one thing that cannot be denied is that those who think differently are repressed (the images of the arrest of members of the opposition and the mistreatment of the Ladies in White speak for themselves).
I wouldn’t want my daughters to grow up hearing a baker say he had no choice but to steal the oil, flour and sugar with which he was supposed to bake his bread every day, in order to buy a pair of shoes for one of his kids, or that a young man was imprisoned for publishing an article critical of the government.
Many, many things have to improve and others must change in the Cuba I love, but I also don’t want a country in which the owners of airports, hotels, trains, coffee shops and industry are all US companies.
Cuba belongs to Cubans, those here and those there. We must be the onwers, not only of our future, but also our lands, beaches and everything else.