Getting Off the Cuba Merry-Go-Round

Veronica Vega

Going against the current. Illustration by Yasser Castellanos
Going against the current. Illustration by Yasser Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — When I notice that weeks have gone by and I haven’t been able to finish off an article for my diary, I examine my conscience and I’m forced to admit that I’ve fallen into the general apathy of the Cuban people.

It’s not because I don’t have opinions, but because it’s impossible that my opinions influence anything that keeps our society running poorly, very poorly.

After many years of online forums which have served as a beehive for differences of opinion and which have been transforming into more civilized discussions, agreeing on many of the points made doesn’t mean that changes will be put into effect.

And I say “mean” not to sound overly radical. At times, I’m haunted by the idea that these debates are the perfect kind of entertainment we need to make ourselves feel useful, to believe that changes will come soon which only really take place in our thoughts, our words and in this other dimension of reality known as “cyberspace”. By the way, the internet is so limited and expensive for those of us who live on the island that it has become an example of what little real progress has come from the discussions revolving around Cuba’s problems.

At this point, I chide myself up for having finally adopted my friend’s philosophy, who says: “What does it matter if you tell the truth if everything carries on the same.” Well, without being able to give you any tangible proof of these changes, I must insist in the fact that telling the truth is always better than remaining an accomplice to lies. Even if nothing changes around you, something does change within you.

And even though it seems like I’m contradicting myself with what I said before, I’m not. Every truth said out loud, every opinion expressed sincerely and with a noble purpose has a positive impact, but isn’t this supposed to be just a first step?

The editor of Havana Times has said that readers of the website prefer to read opinions which include proposals for solutions. I remember that my first reaction to this comment was to ask myself what solution could successfully manifest itself in the real world, but I took this opinion as a healthy challenge.

When I published an article entitled “The power of doubt”, proposing that Ayurveda medicine be introduced into Cuba, so that this proposal wouldn’t remain in words on a page, I did some research and even contacted somebody who has run a scientific project which is linked to some embassies, including the Indian Embassy. She told me that even though there are doctors who have contacted the AYUSH (the organization which dedicates itself to the practice and dissemination of Ayurveda in India), the Cuban Ministry of Health (MINSAP) isn’t interested in introducing the practice into Cuba officially.

Of course there’s always the option of gathering up people who are interested, establishing contact by our own accord and get specialists to come on a tourist visa to give courses in a completely alternative way. This would all be much more expensive, more risque and if any results were to be seen, they would be on a tiny scale. However, there are still paths we can take. I’m giving you this example just to prove to you the distance there is between proposing something in an article and making it reality.

I regularly read the Havana Times newsletter and the comments made, I agree with many of my colleagues and readers’ opinions; I’m always moved by the articles written by Irina Echarry which are always so well balanced, objective and brilliantly written. I frequently write down comments in my mind supporting the comments made by Osmel Ramirez Alvarez, Pedro Campos, Haroldo Dilla… but time and time again, I’m disheartened by the feeling that we’re just running around in circles.

I know that my life isn’t worth less because Cuba continues as it is, nor that of my colleagues, HT readers and even the trolls out there. We will continue on our journey inward and outward, regardless. However, it would make us feel so much better if even just a fifth of what we (the majority sincerely) discussed here were to become a direct living experience for the Cuban people, especially ordinary Cubans, who don’t even know about these debates.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

24 thoughts on “Getting Off the Cuba Merry-Go-Round

  • September 17, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    My own assessment in my book armstro was that Cubans wishing to have a quiet life should:
    “Don’t challenge the system, accept it, stay mute and exist.”
    You sadly, are correct in saying that everyone now has just a little less. Not only have all the standards that we accept as normal such as of freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of choice been eradicated, but even the pitiful living standards are being eroded.
    You speak of your God-daughter being 19, mine is only five, we must hope for both of them that in their lifetimes they know the freedoms which we are privileged to experience in the capitalist world.

  • September 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    To suggest that construction of a pirate theme park ought to be an economic priority for the Castro regime Gordon, reflects the folly of the regimes economic policies and your support of it.
    The people of Cuba struggle ‘resolver’ to exist day by day, but a theme park will allay their problems.
    Why not an agricultural ‘theme park” to bring into production all those hundreds of thousands of acres of good agricultural land reverting to bush? Or is that not a priority?
    Currently Cuba is a broken down communist theme park – with no one wishing to pay for admission.

  • September 16, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I believe there will be more investment in Cuba from both. Cuba needs a state of the art theme park with a pirate theme and China has just completed the largest theme park in the world.

  • September 15, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    So Gordon, a house in Vancouver costs 14 years average earnings.
    The average Cuban earns $288.60 per year. Multiplied by a factor of 14, that gives a figure of $3,457.92.
    So tell us Gordon, where can you purchase a house in Cuba for that princely sum?
    You maintain that your politically ambitious children are in the right country at the right time – they are going to have to earn a lot more than the average – in short exploit their political contacts which is the way to get ahead in a communist dictatorship. Si???

  • September 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    ….And that will bring about change how?

  • September 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Well Gordon, according to Ben Weaver you choose to live in:
    “a society that is crime infested, with an out of control drug epidemic, one in five children living in poverty. Failing schools. A lack of employment opportunity among the young, including those with a higher education. High crime rates and high incarceration rates. Homelessness.”
    As you infer that those who live east of the Rockies are even less fortunate, why not move to Cuba and take advantage of the 200 pesos per month pension?
    Why does Cuba have the fourth highest level of incarceration in the world if there is little crime?

  • September 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Are you implying Gordon that the Prime Minister of Japan and the Premier of China will provide even more credit to the Castro regime? Or, do you envisage any other form of the “change is coming” theory?

  • September 15, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Change is coming – The Prime Minister of Japan and the Premier of China will visit Cuba shortly

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