Cuba, Between Castaway and Miracles


Photo: Sonia Kovacic

HAVANA TIMES — There’s a joke that, unfortunately, reminds me of Cuba. It’s old and really doesn’t get a big laugh.

There’s a man in the middle of the ocean. His boat capsized and he’s barely managing to hold onto a thin piece of wood that, as you know, won’t keep floating for too long.

Of course he prays to God, and immediately someone shows up in a boat offering to help him.

But the castaway refuses to get in the boat because he’s sure that “my God will save me.”

Everyone who has heard this “joke” knows that the guy continued to pray and that boats continued to show up but he never accepts any help, sure that divine intervention was on the way since he was expecting a miracle.

Meanwhile, I don’t know what miracle is expected by those who are governing my country.

These days they are making new prohibitions public, this time ones related to the Customs Office.

Now, any help from abroad will cost dearly for those living on the island.

Isn’t this a contradiction? It’s help that you have to pay for?

I don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks in my country. Will someone organize a loud protest? Could it be that those who protest will be “put away”?

At least on the official Cubadebate webpage — where they published an explanation of the new Customs Office measure — a lot of people wrote in complaining about the action, while others expressed their shock. Then too, there were some people who asked probing questions, though so far no one has responded to them (and I don’t think anyone will).

There won’t be any meetings at people’s jobs or at the union offices of self-employed workers so that the government might get an earful of what people think.

Many people won’t even find out about this new tax in the news, because “listening” to something means you have to first understand it, and the “regulations” are written precisely so they can’t be understood – therefore breathing space continues to be given to the habitual corrupt practices of Customs officials.

Food — of which so little is produced in Cuba — is also being taxed through this new and abusive measure.

This means that if I were to send five kilograms of milk to my family, they would have to pay three or four months of their salaries in taxes to receive it. Something like that is what the government announced.

How long will it be before they start taxing medicine? What strange parameters will they have for deciding what is and what isn’t medicine?

In addition to damaging the emerging private businesses (and thus reducing any hope of relief for many families, from the economic point of view), in addition to denying other rights or by showing itself to be arrogant and hypocritical, the government of my country is showing itself to not be very intelligent.

Or maybe it’s just the opposite and like in the story of the castaway it’s letting the boats go by so that it will become a martyr – or rather turn my family, friends, and everybody I know and don’t in Cuba into martyrs.

For my part, I’ll write this diary post and send it on a boat to join the flotilla that circles around the island.



Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

2 thoughts on “Cuba, Between Castaway and Miracles

  • Could it be the government considers its population simply as a cash cow?

  • the cuban customs-aduana is very slow at present. i wonder why. does anyone know?

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