HAVANA TIMES – The reaction of many people to the sudden official announcement of a rapprochement between Cuba and the USA brings to mind a line from a popular reggaetón song: “A mí me gustan los yuma.” [“I like the yumas”]
I confess that when I watched Raul Castro’s speech, my first question was whether those who had spent decades repeating that shopworn discourse about the imperialist enemy (out of conviction or convenience, only God knows), would feel betrayed. But no, many of them are the most enthusiastic, and have leapt from one extreme to the other to reveal a pro-yankee tendency and a voracious consumer appetite.
It’s a mystery to me how they manage to reconcile these contradictions in their minds. Perhaps their premise is more or less one of “the end justifies the means.” Phrases like “now, finally things are going to get good.”, or “they’ll be putting a hamburger stand on each corner”, reveal the intense reaction to the years of shortages and austerity.
For those everyday Cubans who erected in their minds the shining illusion and mecca of Miami, those who proudly flaunt their shorts, pullovers, caps and the “Yuma” flag, the only difference is that what was previously a defiant attitude is now in perfect harmony with the circumstances.
With the notable profusion of United States programs on the official television stations, and of US movies in the theaters; with a long tradition of clandestine consumption of Miami programming; with independent shops that offer imported clothes from the United States; and with a good portion of our citizens surviving thanks to the money sent by family members from “over there”, the pact sealed by both governments is nothing more than the official declaration of an existing reality.
We should also recognize that of all the economic allies we’ve had (the Soviet Union, Venezuela or China) the US people are the closest to us, perhaps due to our past as a pseudo-republic that many remember with nostalgia. This is a fact, as it is also a fact that this step forward was taken once again by those who are eternally grateful to the revolution.
But what has astonished me most about the general reaction was to see how effective the melodrama of the “Cuban Five” has been. Even people who are usually critical of the government were drawn into the sublime finale and the concert broadcast on television. They didn’t wonder why similar television coverage wasn’t given to the political prisoners of the Black Spring who were liberated at the same time thanks to a long struggle and the intervention of the church; why they weren’t on film, or how they didn’t “return,” but were deported from their own country. They didn’t wonder why they had never heard anything about Alan Gross, or if the activities of this US citizen merited fifteen years in prison.
Of course, you have to consider that the return of “the Five” has been accompanied by a promise of relief that is much more credible than all of the former ones. And it must be recognized that it was the most sensible decision that those of us born with the revolution have had the chance to live through.
Many of us have paid a direct and visceral price for the long and painful isolation and the refraction of an exiled Cuba. It’s time to free ourselves from a hate that doesn’t belong to us, to forget the menace of a war that never came to be.
The geographical proximity of Cuba and the US is an advantage that was turned upside down, and although for years the masses docilely supported the anti-yankee slogans, it’s obvious that the current reactions are far, far more sincere.