Cuba After Obama’s Visit

Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Barack and Michelle Obama saying goodbye to Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — President Obama’s speech had a profound impact on the Cuban people. It was a powerful act of demystification. We had spent decades seeing US presidents only as part of bad news and suddenly seeing one, in the flesh, here in Cuba, telling us he was our friend, was an unforgettable experience.

It was perfect, but the most sensational experience was his meeting with entrepreneurs and the self-employed. His words to them were as powerful as his already classic speeches. Every phrase, every idea, every gesture was correct. The message was clear and encouraging.

At home, as in nearly all others, we followed Obama closely. My family is a mixed lot, politically speaking, though not that much. My father and my aunt are radical communists and the rest oscillate between moderate socialism and critical revolutionaries. It was almost impossible to listen to Obama, with the constant comments of approval in response to his precise and clear words.

No sooner had he finished speaking than they cut to the television studio set up to follow the events of the day, with two hosts. Some political analysts were on standby, ready to comment on Obama’s words. It was unbelievable. Everything that Obama had said and seemed so on the nose meant the opposite to them.

They used every imaginable, manipulative argument to discredit him. A young and talented journalist, Cristina Escobar, which spares no effort to position herself as the spearhead of a journalism committed to the system, stood out in this. Of course, this technique works and has been proven successful throughout the decades. Many people were left confused and they’ve re-broadcasted the criticism [not the speech] so much that no few people have been persuaded.

The speech was described as meddling in the internal affairs of Cuba only because Obama said that democracy is the way to overcome problems in any society.

Despite his explanations, despite acknowledging Cuba’s achievements and the United States’ mistakes, despite using his own life as an example, despite suggesting that Cubans draw ideas from other countries, not his own (owing to the mistrust that remains), despite all this they said he was meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs and had double standards.

In a few minutes’ time, my own family had changed its opinion. My father became defensive and began to quote Che Guevara, who said “one shouldn’t make the slightest concession to imperialism.” He can’t let go of such a mindset, he was trained to think this way. My aunt supported him. My mother continued to praise Obama, but she was already starting to feel she had gotten carried away some. My sisters and I continued to refuse to be influenced by the brainwashers.

Since that day, the Cuban media has maintained the same attitude. The more ethical journalists speak only of the positive aspects of the speech, without refuting the arguments of those who impel a campaign of misinformation and manipulation. It’s the power of the media at work and we all know it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Despite this, Obama had a deep impact on people. Not everyone can be deceived easily. Yesterday, I got on a horse-drawn carriage and Obama’s visit immediately came up in conversation. The driver said: “that blonde reporter [referring to Cristina] is really getting on my nerves. She’s torn apart everything Obama said. The skinny fellow who talks about prices and markets, I like him, but this woman is a brownnose.”

A passenger, who was apparently a successful self-employed person, said: “the black fellow gave a good speech, but no one can get to these people. They’ve been suckling at the teat for 50 years and they’re afraid of losing it.”

A young woman who I’ve seen before, for she used to be a nurse and now she sells pork at a market, said: “the blockade that we care about is the internal one; the other blockade only affects them in their businesses. The thing that holds me back and screws me over is the State itself.”

A rather vulgar gentleman said: “the one who looked scared was Diaz Canel. He didn’t even say a word to Obama, because, if what Obama suggests comes to pass, it’s goodbye to the position these people want to give him. This guy didn’t do a single good thing in this province, so, what can we expect him to do in charge of the entire country?”

Raul Castro received Barack Obama in the Palace of the Revolution for private talks.  Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate

I listened to all those comments analytically and smiled. People are waking up, it’s no longer easy to keep everyone deceived.

A famous quote from a US politician who Fidel Castro used to mention a lot, perhaps it was Lincoln, came to mind. I’m not sure now and I have no way of verifying this, so you’ll have to excuse me. It is something to the effect that you can deceive all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but not all the people all the time. It’s not an exact quote, but that’s the idea, and I think it fits what’s going on here in Cuba well.

The concrete repercussions of Obama’s visit remain to be seen. However, there is no doubt it will give great impetus, not only to the policy of rapprochement he’s implemented, but also to change in Cuba.

He laid a number of issues that are taboo on the table. He opened a discussion at the street level. He put the ball on the government’s side of the court ad helped dissident and alternative voices be heard.

The legacy is positive. Fear has been broken and secrecy ended. A US president has come to visit us, spoken to our people on an equal footing and claims to be our friend. This heralds better times ahead.

Cover photo: John Shaw

 

23 thoughts on “Cuba After Obama’s Visit

  • March 28, 2016 at 9:49 am
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    “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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  • March 28, 2016 at 10:15 am
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    The Castros fear change and well that they should. If the future of Cuba as determined by Cubans should come to pass, it will not bode well for those that cling to the past. The Castro oligarchy has everything to lose and little to gain in a free and democratic Cuba.

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    • March 28, 2016 at 5:22 pm
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      My take as well. Obama is a President nearing the end of his term. He has offered Cuba a way to settle old differences. Obama is offering peace and for Cuba to set it’s own course. Obama has the high ground, the fear of change is visible in those that oppose.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 11:28 am
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    Fidel Castro is one of the Great Men of the Twentieth century compared to the pygmies that have been presidents of the US during the same period. Telling the US to shove it where the Sun don’t shine, is appropriate. Maybe someday the US will have a leader of his stature, but that will be a long time from now.

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    • March 28, 2016 at 12:25 pm
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      and you are living here why?

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  • March 28, 2016 at 11:56 am
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    It’s sad to see such poverty and broken infrastructure in Cuba, Yet the people are afraid to make changes because of the many years of communism brainwashing oppression. Hopefully, Obama’s outstretched hand may begin to shine a light of hope in their future. But, not in the Castro brothers’ lifetime.

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    • March 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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      Maybe you should take a look at the poverty, hunger, and destroyed infrastructure in the rest of Latin America, where the US shoved its imperialism, corrupt puppet democracies, and sponsored dictators, not to mention all the countries the US continues bombing to pieces and murdering millions of innocent civilians, much like the Nazis did all around Europe.

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      • March 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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        What are you drinking? That make you believe in the cuban fallacy. Pinochet in chile was a bloody and repressive but a least called for multiple parties election and left the country with the higher life per capita in Latin America. Castro has destroyed the most important economic in Latin America that was Cuba, in 1959.

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      • March 29, 2016 at 10:39 am
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        Whatever you call it, Communism never works! Look at the Soviet Union: Failed; North Korea: Dying; China: Slowly changing to Capitalism; etc.

        Communism/Socialism slowly dies because there is no incentive for entrepreneurs and investors to create businesses/jobs when they don’t control their businesses — and when Communism runs out of the people’s money, it collapses.

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        • March 30, 2016 at 1:42 pm
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          I think you need to separate communism from socialism. they are two distinctly different platforms. communism like capitalism is fraught with ills, however, socialism has proven to be a viable philosophy. i am hoping we in el norte:) are finally moving in that direction. it is surprising but thanks to Bernie Sanders and many of our “thinking” youth today, along with our “thinking” older people, we are seeing the prospect of change unfold before our very eyes, and to me, it is beautiful, having been born and raised in the U.S. and having been so deeply disappointed by its lies and indoctrination of the masses. You see, Communism has nothing on indoctrination where Capitalism is concerned. They wrote the book. But change is in the air:)

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  • March 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm
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    The US as an example of a “free and Democratic” nation? Look at political gridlock, New Orleans years after hurricane Katrina, Flint Michigan, Detroit, revolving door “for profit” prisons … Any real democracy would limit the amount any individual corporation or institution could donate or ban the practice entirely. Corporations and wealthy individuals currently wag the dog in most democratic nations. Build your own democracy from scratch there are currently few good examples anywhere on the planet. Government is a necesssity but it needs to be transparent and fully accountable to the public it serves. Without these it is simply doomed to oligarchy with the passing of time and entrenchment of interests. Come up with a good model and lead the world rather than be led by its often bad examples.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    You poor poor people have NO clue the destruction his leadership has done, pushing past the Bushes and Clintons, because the NWO Elite Puppet the Puppets. Of course he would sound like your best friend, trust me hes not. I pray one day for your Country to be Free, something we here are losing fast FREEDOM in every way one can think. The US has tried to take over SA for yrs, and given a chance will do you as well. I mean between us and NATO whos better at it?

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    • March 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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      I second this post. Lynn Delaney

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      • March 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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        I am afraid Obama has grown up under the indoctrination of the capitalistic way of thinking, which brainwashes deeply because some people actually do very well under this model but only in terms of their financial well-being, and their ability to garner power. Obama seems to love his power very much, and to move away from his indoctrination would actually be impossible. it is intrinsic to his being, like all of those in the mainstream society here. I believe he means well, and is making as much change as he can envision but his vision is nothing like Bernie’s who is not Fidel, at all, but in a way is our Fidel. Every movement needs a strong leader who is not afraid of the imperialists, and they give every reason to be afraid. I don’t know how Bernie is going to make out in the end but i know it is our chance at a true Revolution, and I hope we don’t drop the ball this time.

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        • March 31, 2016 at 8:13 am
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          YES! BERNIE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

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  • March 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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    Obama’s trip to Cuba is setting a precedent for returning to the dark days when the United States tacitly or actively supported Latin American dictators. Cubans resent the fact that their country’s future might be decided between Castro, the dictator, and Obama without giving them any voice. In a perverse way, Obama is returning to an era when U.S. diplomacy embraced military dictatorships throughout Latin America, and American foreign policy was driven by the US Chamber of Commerce and profits for American business rather than showcasing democratic principles and respect for civil and human rights.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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    Osmel, the commentators who lambasted Obama sounded like Fox News Reporters, USA. What I’m learning is that many of the older generation are strongly in favor of communism. Percentage? I don’t know but maybe similar to the expat’s in the USA who are totally the opposite. Thanks.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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    I wrote earlier today to advise you to look online for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Don’t be fooled by Obama who is charming and well-spoken because he has allowed the crimes of U.S. attacks and manipulations on Iraq, Libya, and Syria creating untold death and destruction in the Middle East.His health care plan is too expensive for millions of people who are forced to pay a penalty for not buying into it! Guantanamo should have been given to Cuba when he promised to close it if elected almost eight years ago. Peace. Lynn

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  • March 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm
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    Dear Phil. I’m sorry but you are wrong. Fidel Castro is one one the greatest serial killers ever. Serial killers, liar, dictator only compared with Hitler and Stalin. You don’t cause you are not cuban. You don’t what you are talking about. That’s the comunist propaganda Cuban Intelligence delivered worldwide for almost 60 years. Why don’t you move to Cuba, but not as a foreigner, as a real cuban who love fidel and his dictatorship?

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    • March 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      Dear Free Cuban, comparing Fidel to Hitler and Stalin does your cause to expose his alleged crimes no justice. I remember in Cuba when they compared Bush Jr. to Hitler, which was just as outlandish.

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      • March 30, 2016 at 10:28 am
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        Comparing Bush to Hitler was not just something they did in Cuba, many Americans did so, and continue to do so, too. You are quite right, it is an outlandish hyperbole.

        In the months after seizing power, Castro limited the executions to a few hundreds, possibly as many as a couple thousand in total. He has preferred to either jail his enemies or let his opponents leave Cuba, allowing the sea take their lives. On the scale of evil dictators, Castro is far down the list from monsters like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, the Kims and Pol Pot.

        But he is on that list.

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        • March 31, 2016 at 7:47 am
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          You are right, and your candor is refreshing. There was tremendous public support, no, demand, for the executions of the Batistiano security agents, particularly among the students and their families who suffered the brunt of the oppression. I remember seeing a photo of a mass rally w/ one of the signs reading “The employees of International Harvester demand paradon for the torturers.

          Reply

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