Will Cuba Disappear?

By Veronica Vega

Cubans stand by a collapsed building in Havana, on September 9, 2017. File photo: Yamil Lage / AFP

HAVANA TIMES – A neighbor asked me to copy her some movies in order to get her through lockdown, and she asked me for some contemporary Cuban movies. I was surprised and moved by her enthusiasm. For I have long been bored by Cuban film where the truth only appears in fragments, and the most biting aspects of our reality are unspeakable.

Not only in art. It’s hidden in our everyday lives behind masks and perspectives. We Cubans don’t even know who we are anymore. Furthermore, we seem to frequently engage in hysterical arguments, both in and outside the island.

I accept that I no longer identify with almost anything that is Cuba today (socially). I live in a strange “inxile”, like somebody who is floating as far as they can over the miasmas of reality. A static reality, yet so violent.

If we continue to emigrate…

Today, I came across a Facebook post, in which somebody I only know for their accurate reflections, said: “If we continue to emigrate like we are, Cuba is going to disappear. I sometimes feel like this could happen at any moment.”

Then, there was a quote from Froilan Escobar: “We crowd together to disappear, but not Marti. As long as there are Cubans on this Earth, Marti will continue to exist.” She goes back to the question of whether we will disappear, in spite of our emotions and ego. And she wonders whether it really would be better if we did.

Cuba’s demographic bleeding is such a common fact (like the sea that surrounds us), and it has been since my parents’ generation. However, I have never asked myself this frightful question: Is it worth preserving this island’s soul? This mental dream, so much abused and cast aside, that our own national identity has even become blurry and ghostlike.

I found myself asking the exact same question that I have rebuked from friends and family living abroad for asking. They see this country as a failed project, which they were lucky enough to escape.

Foundations and reasons are not eternal

My first book is called “Leaving is the only option here” (a phrase of questionable syntaxis, which has become a national sentence). However, in its autobiographical plot, I fight – alongside my son, partner and a group of artists – to prove that something can be founded and sustained on this alligator-shaped piece of land.

However, that was a decade ago, and ten years can wear down foundations if they aren’t being looked after. If they aren’t, just look at all of those foundations submerged in rubble, tropical rain and winds. Buildings with a solid architectural structure, that have suddenly collapsed, with the stories of different generations, even upon on living heads of those who were still dreaming.

Nevertheless, a year and a half ago, I presented this book in Miami to some intellectuals in exile. With emotions running high and through tears, I defended the need for me to return to a country that could still be saved.

How did this conviction fade away? Maybe it happened when I was calling for freedom of artistic creation and speaking one’s mind (with a group of artists again) and I saw the State’s hidden face, its unyielding repression apparatus, that patiently crushes what’s left of your innocence, candid speeches about rights and freedoms. Like so many people discovered looking at our country from afar, maybe with nostalgia, but also with relief.

Covid-19 gave the State a new excuse

Or maybe because the crisis draws on, given euphemisms unable to stop alarm and disappointment from growing within our hearts. Maybe it was the COVID-19 pandemic breaking out and the State’s new excuse for shortages and strict control.

Maybe it was seeing the never-ending resistance of everyday Cubans. People bend down over and over again in the face of unfulfilled promises, eternal dysfunction and shortages of everything, even medicines.

I don’t know. Today, I found myself mulling over this question which I had thought unthinkable before. It didn’t surprise me either.

Rather I toyed with the idea of what Cuba would be like if it ended up empty because all of the young people, children, pregnant and fertile women left. The aging are already dropping to the ground with the burden of age. One day, the vines will creep their way up buildings, houses, fences, parks… burying even Marti’s monuments, under a carpet of green.

Where will so many emotions and ego ultimately rest, this naive sovereignty that hasn’t done any good to save the country.

Read more diary posts by Veronica Vega here.

23 thoughts on “Will Cuba Disappear?

  • When considering the dilemma of Cuba, it is wise to separate criticism of the US in order to understand the reality of the effects of the Castro communist regime upon the Cuban people. Love of Cuba and of the Cuban people, has no relationship to the political regime which daily oppresses the people and neglects the potential of the country itself.

    It is unfortunate that the very mention of the country acts as a catalyst for those who wish to berate the US.

    Although the US in its folly exacerbates the difficulties in Cuba, it is not the root cause – that distinction belongs firmly in the policies of the repressive Castro regime.

    As Rohan T observed, “This country has everything”. It is Castro Stalinist communism that inhibits – indeed obstructs, its potential.

    Let those of us who care for Cuba and the Cubans concentrate upon that root cause and address that! Constant repetition of well-known US folly serves little if any purpose.

  • The absolute worst thing for Cuba would be an American intervention. The states have become a rogue nation led by a Cheeto in the oval office. Americans are hated the world over…..for good reason.
    I love this country (21 visits last 7 years), their people, and their zest for life. We know how hard it is to live in Cuba, however, the Cuban people will give you their last portion of food to ensure you are taken care of before feeding themselves. They are such a caring and loving people. I wish the rest of the world would take lessons from this island nation.
    Although I may not agree at all with their politics, I would gladly take a bullet for any and all of my CUBAN friends. My wife and I consider them amongst our best friends.

  • This country has everything, fertile ground, sea with lots of fishes, good climate, beautiful Beaches, hardworking and polite people and I don’t understand why people are suffering for food and other necessities. I was there 3 times and I love the people, horses, simple life and everything.

  • laura
    you would move there in a second? well??????

  • If as Laura suggests, the government is removed in Cuba, the last thing required would be yet another USA intervention, much wiser to seek guidance from the UN or the EU and to introduce multi-party democracy rather than adopting the US two party system with its chaotic electoral system.

    The USA would best assist by terminating the US ‘Cuban Democracy Act and the Monroe Doctrine and then refrain from further meddling.

    Despite the fact that so many (white) Cubans sought refuge in the US, and despite the interest in US sports (the nearest large neighbour) most Cubans are understandably suspicious of US motives and its history of pursuing its own interests in Cuba, rather than those of the people of Cuba.

  • I read some of these comments with great sadness?
    I have had 115 visits for vacation to this amazing country that has people with the biggest hearts ever – I have been blessed to have travelled to 63 other countries and fell in love with Cuba on vacation number 1 which was to La Habana in 1985 for birthday 466 celebration and was there in November 2019 for birthday number 500 Cuba is “My Home away from Home” “Canada

  • I always liked the Cuban way of sincerity honesty and laid a good raising of their children I’m an American but I was adopted and raised by my grandparents with the same values and by the way my business manager is Cuban her family treats me like family I love them to death I feel your pain and uncertainty about your homeland and would move there in a heartbeat

  • Cuba needs an USA intervention, after the government is removed they can decide where to go…

  • I CAN not help but to wonder….
    If the influence and power of the DemLeft in America needs to take a bow for HELPING Castro destroy Cuba? It is the VERY SAME people currently trying their might to destroy America.
    Regardless how societies change, how they advance, the one thing our Founding Fathers knew and warned us about. There would forever be an ongoing battle with, “the human condition.” There would always be those who have a BLOOD LUST for absolute power. Megalomaniacs like Castro … like the DemLeft in America.
    The history and the world has seen many of these miscreants come and go. They ALWAYS leave the same, sad and heartbreaking footprint behind … despair, pain, suffering and death.
    Will we EVERY LEARN?

  • I read with sadness, the tangible despair of many of the writers in Havana Times. I have visited Havana many times and, while I can see the signs of economic failure, I still see the resilient people, the happy children at school or doing exercises in the Prado. I feel comfortable and safe as I walk through Centro Havana at any time of night. Despite limited Spanish, I have a deep affection for the people that I have met and that I see around me. So, because of the people, Cuba must survive. But, as an outsider, there is obviously much that I don’t see that writers bring to my attention. I cannot prescribe solutions, but I can wish that Cuban’s can find a way to survive and thrive and to preserve those wonderful parts. My heart is with Cuba.

  • Nobody can predict the future. All we can do is to accept and love the present moment, it doesn’t matter if it seems to be outside or inside the island. The island could be Cuba, our personal identity, or the whole world. Every island seem to be coming to its end, but every end is a new beginning. Nothing disappears. Everything goes on and on…

  • When one look at market relationship to pollution/virus/climate etc , one finally realize that there must be a better way. Not to say the Cuba way is the best way. But when I am in cuba I hope I can get some of the capacities, good shape, looks and healthy minds of the people there. I do not promote or condemn the gouvernement of Cuba, I hate all gouvernements by default, even the best one. I love people, I do not trust gouvernements of any shape or forms…

  • For nun how the writer never mentioned the five decades of soul crushing sanctions by the bully of the Western Hemisphere.
    The US has caused the destruction of so many countries south of the border, then refuses to take responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of refugees it creates. The dry foot asylum specially created for Cubans is another way to steal Cuba’s wealth: it’s best people. Capitalism is the biggest mind fuck, as you see in the USA a fascist end.

  • Whatever people abroad would be willing to do, the main help is in within.. Cubans have to decide their own fate not USA or Russia or whatever. If they cannot help themselves whatever interference from abroad will bring more uncertainty.

  • Hi it would be nice and fair if you mentioned a bit the rol of USA and Trumps admin for cuban misery.

  • It would truly sadden my heart if Cuba were to become a distant memory. Sad enough during this pandemic to wonder when any of us will travel safely again. The silver lining is that I was there this past February to mark 20 years of traveling to Cuba. I don’t travel there for the politics or the food.

  • Cuba is like the boulevard of broken dreams

  • I suggest all progressive minded moralists around the world step forward and support the Cuban experiment . My organization dreams of a form of progressive socialism that supports spiritual development via tantra yoga and other rational science based spiritual practice and ideology. I believe the concrete socialist work that the Cuban people have done can be built upon utilizing the tantra based economic theory of PROUT and the philosophy of Neo -Humanism. The blueprint for a new era is in our hands. It was handed to us by Shri Shri Anandamurti the tantrik yoga guru of AnandaMarga who inspired thousands to don the saffron rope and create thousands of schools and children homes. Anandamurti who many believe to be Taraka Brahma, as was Shiva and Krsna, was also known as Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar who produced the social economic theory PROUT. Instead of complaining moralists and intellectuals must launch themselves wholeheartedly into the breach and contribute to the vitalization of the Cuban revolution via applying the principals of PROUT and Neo-Humanism. I for one will not stand by while the .1 % accumulate 99% of the earths resources. Humanity shall not be reduced to spiritless pawns in a giant game of monopoly for the benefit of demons in human form. If you consider yourself a moralist or intellectual, duty calls, do not look away. Research PROUT and Neo-Humanism then look for VSScuba.com and PROUTcuba.com. Also look for PROUT Cuba and VSSCuba coming soon on Facebook.

  • Cubans deserve what they have. Today they know that better life exists. But they still hurting each other and believing what the government tells them. I’m a gusano from 1968. Never been back in the island. 1978 cubans started to visit the island and most of them don’t get it.

  • And where might all the young people go? You can’t get asylum easy in Canada anymore and you can’t go to the Texas border to wait to cross. Where might they go?

  • Shame on america.
    Shame on chritians in usa.
    How can people allow america to destroy an entire country /population because of greed.
    Scary to speak out.

  • You present a human dilemma unimaginable to most people, the painful choice between Inexile or exile knowing full well that if you leave you can never go home again. It won’t be the same because your exile will change you. The vice of communism is not the concentration of autocratic power in the elite cadres. Theoretically a dictatorship can be benign. The malignancy of communism is that the autocratic power is tethered to the least productive economic system, a combination that created your unfortunate dilemma.

  • Fidel Castro repeatedly said that the enemy would collect ashes from this island. The first plan was the idea of ​​installing nuclear heads pointing to the US territory. the second abandoned all the buildings in Havana after stealing them from their owners and never in 61 years giving maintenance to the buildings. That is the plan Havana will fall apart, repair some areas to bring foreign currency and keep the royal family of the Castro and the generals in power. In the democratic future of Cuba, the people will have to wait much longer to see progress and that is only the fault of a horrible dictatorship like that of the Castro

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