By Veronica Vega
HAVANA TIMES — If there is a “Cuban dream”, it’s to be able to aspire to the “American dream”.
With the harmlessness that indirect references give us (films, comments made by emigre friends or relatives), Cubans make a god out of US citizens, even though they have great geographical, cultural and political differences.
With this same harmlessness, after the acclaimed and fluctuating warming of relations between these two countries who have been enemies for decades, the Cuban people continue to dream about the solution to their social dysfunction coming from a shove from the North, a pull of the Cuban government’s hair, a foreign miracle.
In a conversation I had with a Canadian producer, I mentioned the part about the naivety of the Cubans who throw themselves into a fragile boat with hope as their motor and glory as their aim.
“But that´s despair!” she replied.
However, there’s a lot more than despair in this trend of reacting by simplifying the issue at hand, ignoring the complexity of this panorama.
The generation that directly experienced the victory of the Revolution, entrusted the framework of an entire nation to the charisma and improvisation of one single man, in the midst of their ecstasy because it won, bubbling optimism and the glint of promises.
Fidel knew this quality of people native to this land very well, this mix of smugness and confidence founded not on the power of their spirit, or on the strength of their virtue, or on the merit of extensive organization, or labor. Founded instead on the right to be entitled to the best because they were born Cuban, the conviction of being predestined, unique, special.
That was the only way we could believe that we were the secret object of an invasion that was always on standby. “Cuba is the key to the Gulf!” explained a young man, convinced of the great empire’s predatory gaze on our small island.
Up to my knowledge, the success of the accidental agreement with the US can be summarized with a tractor factory in Mariel [still not realized], the management of two hotels rejected by the Europeans, telecommunication services with two companies, authorizing US airlines to fly to the island and for visitors to buy however much tobacco, rum, crafts and homeopathic medicines, such as scorpion venom, as they like.
On this side however, the embargo hasn’t been lifted, nor has the extremely high compensation sum for damages caused been established, or the end of the Helms-Burton Act, nor have they returned the Guantanamo Naval Base. There isn’t freedom of association, or of speech, not to mention recognizing dissidence as a valid representative.
However, nothing has secretly been done either which the majority of the people are longing for: no oversupplied stores have kicked off, where the sheer amount would imply variety in quality and price options.
This “Cuba, but with money”, like my sister said to me to describe Miami, which Cubans expected to see reflected on this shore, suddenly like in Photoshop. A boost which will return our past splendor, the one that many Cubans who put their futures on the line for the Revolution evoke nostalgically. A Havana with commercial and business activity.
And yes, you can feel a certain shift, the airs of change. Not only because of the symbolism that the US flag displayed around the city holds, but because of the wave of tourists, the clouds of dust due to construction work.
Some Cubans who had emigrated are repatriating themselves and opening up businesses. They sell and buy houses. New businesses are set up. However, opportunities aren’t like those that somebody told me were “for Cuban entrepreneurs”, but for those who have the means to embark on an adventure with.
Cuba with money shines in flashes, it’s intermittent and distant. Just like the Florida coast is for those who want to throw themselves to the mercy of the sea, those who arrive are a minority.
However, because ceasing to dream is to cease to live, I´ve already heard people saying that they’re sure that this Trump, with a sharp and cold gaze, who has managed to reach his full potential (it doesn’t matter if this was fought for with his hands or his claws), his Caribbean neighbor is interested in a share of the prosperity that he has extra. Of course, this will be with a tough hand, as “you can’t be weak with these people” and the kind Obama gave in too early (as people are speculating) in his selfish eagerness to go down in history.
I haven’t heard a single word about what we can do, what we should do, what it’s time for us to do. If only we would stop believing that our future lies in the sea. If only we would stop waiting for a miracle. If only we could admit to ourselves that an imported dream isn’t compatible with our reality. If only we could accept that waking up and taking action is much more certain than any dream.