HAVANA TIMES — The year 2017 already looks like it’s going to be a much more difficult one for the Cuban people. The national economy had negative growth last year, in spite of the 4 million tourists – a record number – who visited the country.
Raul Castro mentioned just how difficult this year was going to be in a speech he gave at the National Assembly during the last few days of 2016, which was broadcast by every national TV channel simultaneously.
Nobody was frightened then. It must be because we are so used to gloomy predictions of more shortages, of having to save, of having to make more out of less, of making more of an effort and to produce more…
However, new generations are asking themselves when they have to do this until, how long will they have to live among so many predicaments, when will the day come when the economic progress we’ve been wanting for so long comes, which we have fought for for nearly 60 years of the Revolution.
The youngest of us can’t even remember that these economic problems didn’t exist in Cuba before the 1990s and that there were more than enough products thanks to the Socialist Camp’s subsidies, products which we can only find now at so-called shoppings at extremely high prices. The blockade is partly to blame for our hardships, of course, but we will only come out of the current financial crisis we’re experiencing by producing as a nation.
For our youth, this crisis has gone on too long, that’s why they leave in their thousands to go all over the world.
Now, those who are tired of waiting can no longer go to the United States, at least that is without a visa. They won’t throw themselves into the sea anymore and put their lives at risk to reach the great Empire in the north which used to welcome them with open arms. They won’t leave via Ecuador, Panama, Guyana, Colombia, Mexico, to then cross over South and Central American soil until they reach the US border and find refuge in the Cuban Adjustment Act.
This law remains in force but only for those who arrive legally and have a visa, and we all know how the US Embassy works in Havana.
I don’t know whether to be happy at the fact that my countrymen will no longer die at sea, that their bodies will no longer feed sharks in the Atlantic – on few occasions – that no more human traffickers will take advantage of them or kill them because they don’t have the sum of money they were asked to bring or just out of pleasure; Immigration officials from different US states will no longer fill their pockets with Cuban people’s money before letting them continue on with their journey; they will no longer be scammed or abused my unprincipled human traffickers who are only interested in money.
I only ask myself, what will happen to those who no longer find the country of their dreams in Cuba. Will they now head towards other countries in the world, further away or close-by; will they patiently wait for the US Embassy to give them a visa; will they risk their lives and enter the US illegally without papers just like immigrants from other countries do or will they make an effort to change our beloved island…