Cuba and its Outstanding Dreams

By Fernando Ravsberg

1HAVANA TIMES – When our children left home it was as if the sky had fallen; my wife and I fell in what is known as the “empty nest syndrome”. Suddenly we were without our main occupation; educate this pair of boys who gave us life.

Grisel, an excellent psychologist and best friend was the one who gave us the key to get out of this existential anguish. Write down on paper all the things you had wanted to do and had to forego to devote time to your children, she said.

I realized then that we are not what we want to be but what the circumstances impose and that can be projected to Cuba as a whole. I had read somewhere that Cuban society in general and individual Cubans are not what they had wanted to be.

For half a century they lived in a “besieged plaza” and adapted to the circumstances; rationed food and freedoms, a single centralized chain of command, unanimous unity, the nation above the individual and a single slogan: resist, resist and resist.

The dreams of young Cubans in 1959 may resemble those of their grandchildren today. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
The dreams of young Cubans in 1959 may resemble those of their grandchildren today. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Perhaps resistance could have been done differently or perhaps there was no alternative to successfully stand up to the wrath of the world’s greatest economic and military power. The costs were high but even Obama acknowledged that they had been unable to subdue Cuba by force.

But the fact is that in this process the nation ceased to be what it wanted to be, adapting all the time to aggressions. If today you have a dual currency, for example, it was because one day the US decided to punish banks that receive dollars from Cuba.

However, now the “enemy” recognizes its failure, begins to lift the siege mounted against the island and develops a new strategy that puts the dispute on a different plane and changes “the circumstances” of Cuban society.

The government complains that Washington is moving too slowly in the dismantling of the economic war but perhaps they should be thankful because it gives them the time to develop the new Cuban strategy adapted to this context.

My wife and I had it worse when our children left home, almost overnight, without giving us the shortest time to adapt our lives but we finally managed to recycle or our original plans, those that had been continually postponed.

It would be healthy to remember what the Cuba that they had wanted to build was, looking at history so it points the direction to follow. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz
It would be healthy to remember what the Cuba that they had wanted to build was, looking at history so it points the direction to follow. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Obama’s policy regarding Cuba is not the same as that of his predecessors; therefore Cuba’s policy should also be different. However, designing the new society only thinking in response to the US takes away possibilities for the nation.

Perhaps the advice of my friend Grisel would serve the whole society, look back and remember that nation it had wanted to build. Not everything will be useful in the present circumstances but it will serve as a compass to resume aspirations and redraw the course.

With the change of US policy the nation should not fall asleep but it can dream again and even build on one of those old dreams that one day was left in the storage room because the times demanded their being very, very awake.

The exercise could be useful even to bring the different generations closer. Possibly if a young Cuban asks his/her grandfather what society he dreamed of in 1959 they will realize that it is much like the Cuba that today’s youth are seeking.


23 thoughts on “Cuba and its Outstanding Dreams

  • May 30, 2016 at 11:09 pm
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    Rich Haney two years ago stated in these pages that he is a Republican. Moses has stated in these pages that he is a Democrat, Casey Strong suggested that Moses was a friend of Marco Rubio one of the numerous candidates for nomination to represent the Republican Party in the November 2016 Presidential elections. Those were the basis for my comment. But another reason to deprecate Mr. Strong, is that as I said above, his language – which is none too savory, reflects his mind. You don’t have to like my response, but at least I have the courtesy to reply to your question.

  • May 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm
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    Carlyle: You make many good comments here. Some I agree with, some I do not. But almost all are intelligent and worthy of consideration.

    I appreciated your response to luis segui about not being another US citizen here to depreciate the US.

    But then you go and comment that Casey Strong and now Rich Haney are supporters of Donald Trump. Where in the world did you get that from? You are diminishing your own credibility.

  • May 28, 2016 at 11:40 pm
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    It is a very interesting viewpoint Doug 1943 and I agree with much of what you say. Your third paragraph is key however as there is an assumption in the question you ask: “what the Cuban citizens should do to advance the possibility….”
    In my view based upon my experience of living in Cuba, there is nothing that the Cuban citizens can or will be able to do unless they are given a degree of freedom. Under the Castro regime and the PCC that just isn’t going to happen as their power and control is absolute.
    I agree totally that Cuba needs to change and with your expressed hope that that can be achieved peacefully. Cubans will only be able to form the society that they long for, when they are free to vote for whom they wish, when they have freedom of expression, freedom of information and have been released from dictatorship.

  • May 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm
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    I have a personal rule which i recommend to all people who are interested in changing the world for the better, whether you are on the Left or the Right or somewhere else: don’t spend time doing ‘blame assessment’, or trying to analyze the motivations of others, which are invariably complex. (There are few purely evil or purely good people, and there are absolutely no people whose actions were determined purely as a manifestation of their character and intellect with no influence by the circumstances in which they found themselves, or thought they found themselves.)

    In short — it actually doesn’t matter a rat’s **** whether the Castro Brothers were simply seeking power so they could test out the proposition “It’s Good to be the King”, or whether they were self-sacrificing idealists given few options by the Yankee Colossus. It just doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is what the Cuban state should do now, and what Cuban citizens should do to advance the possibility that it will do those things.

    And it’s not clear — to me at least — what it should do. Cubans — and not just Cubans — need a lot of discussion about how to deal with their undoubted problems, how to retain the good things they have, about what went wrong with similar projects — such as Venezuela.

    Concretely, is there any alternative between the top-down state Plan for running an economy — with the number and design of shoelaces being decided by the Central Planning Committee in Havana, on the one hand …. and simply privatizing everything, opening the country to unlimited foreign investment, and hoping for the best.

    Forget all the neat little slogans about imperialism, capitalist exploitation, the logical proofs that show that the Socialist Calculation problem is insoluble, that democracy is a wonderful thing, that life expectancy for Cubans is as good as for Americans, etc etc. What the collective intelligence of people who care about Cuba and its future should be doing now is discussing/arguing about what changes should be introduced into Cuban society tomorrow.

    If you think that no small incremental change will make any improvement at all — that there is no purpose in demanding half a loaf because, in the words of an early 20th Century American socialist leader, “half a loaf is not better than none, half a loaf is stone” … then of course you won’t be interested in arguments about how producer co operatives could be helped, or hindered, by the state. On what terms the internet should be expanded in Cuba will not engage your attention, because unless the whole things changes totally, no change is of interest. That ‘maximalist’ attitude actually hinders change — because it demands that the Cuban people make a leap into the dark, in the hopes that everything will be better.

    But human beings are inherently conservative, and rightly so. It may be the case — it has sometimes been the case, in the past — that some social-political systems and the people who run them are utterly incapable of change, even when it’s desperately needed. Woe to them, and often woe to the people who live under them, even if the system is finally overturned and shattered.

    Cuba needs to change, but we must hope this change can be made peacefully, and incrementally, and not according to some preconceived blueprint about how an ideal society should be arranged. We’ve had enough of those.

  • May 28, 2016 at 6:25 am
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    I hope and pray you aren’t a resident of the USA.

  • May 27, 2016 at 8:49 pm
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    Read Carlyle’s response. Spot on.

  • May 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm
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    I’m a card-carrying yellow dog Democrat. Do you know what that means? If I had to choose between a Republican and a yellow dog, I would choose the yellow dog. You really guessed wrong on that one. Have you had enough of the personal attacks? You are not very good at it.

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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    Your language reflects your mind.

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:51 pm
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    Yes Ken, Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos and many others were active participants in the revolution. But when Fidel Castro determined to adopt communism, they disagreed – not surprisingly they either ‘disappeared’ or were jailed. So the revolution had broader support.
    Fidel Castro could have earned a similar position in history to that of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela by adopting democracy for Cuba, but he in his desire for personal power and control chose otherwise, he chose communism and dictatorship.

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm
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    Surely Marco Rubio is preferable to your bosom pal Donald Trump?

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm
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    What conservative talking points? All I can remember Moses saying is that he dislikes repressive totalitarian governments. He has also stated that he supports President Obama. It hardly seems he’s conservative. …That’s like me asking why liberals like totalitarian governments. PLEASE!.

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:27 pm
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    Join who?

  • May 27, 2016 at 7:26 pm
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    Don’t forget that Cuba, as part of the Soviet Block, would have had little economic interaction with the US doe the 30+ years even if the embargo never existed. And the Castros still managed to screw up the economy.

  • May 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm
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    As is always the case Moses your inability to say anything other than your conservative republican talking points reveals who you really are.
    Marco Rubio must be a personal friend of yours.

  • May 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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    You have lost on every level possible, the simple fact that you continue to spout the same shite as 40 years ago proves this.
    Suck it up and join us in 2016.

  • May 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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    “This is what amelrodriguez said 11 days ago on this site.
    “She was there during the first years, when most people supported the revolution and expected the democracy process broken by Batista will be restored as Fidel had promised. It never happened.”
    It sounds to me like there was a revolution with broad popular support, more than just “Castros’ revolution.”

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=118731

  • May 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm
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    I don’t make the rules for Havana Times, those privileges belong to Circles Robinson. Secondly I do not have any objection to other countries being discussed IF doing so is relevant to Cuba. However those continuous deprecating remarks by US citizens who obviously detest living in their own country about that country, do get tedious and boring.
    I have a reasonably accurate memory, and recall for example Mr. Rich Haney writing in these pages that he is a Republican, so no doubt now that Mr. Donald Trump has been declared the official Republican candidate for the US Presidential election next November we may expect a description By Mr. Haney of why Mr. Trump is the best qualified person out of some 330 million Americans to occupy the White House in Washington. I realize that within 100 days of Mr. Trump being elected the population of the US will reduce by some 11+ million as the illegal Mexican immigrants are returned to whence they came and the wall between Mexico and the US is completed – with Mexico footing the bill. I also realize that Mr. Trump intends to re-negotiate NAFTA. Maybe he should be careful as Canada is the US’s largest customer for US exports. Of course it may be alternatively that Mrs. Hillary Clinton may become US President, in which case Colt and other US manufacturers of hand and machine guns, will have to find other venues for production and tens of millions of US citizens will have to hand in their guns for destruction.
    It may be that you find the previous paragraph boring – that Dan is because it is about the US.

  • May 27, 2016 at 11:30 am
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    Stick to your silly rule that everything on this blog must be focused laser-like exclusively on Cuba if you want, don’t expect others to. Granted, that’s about the only argument you ever have that makes any sense whenever Cuba’s superiority in any area is compared to anywhere else, from Haiti to the United States. But you may have noticed other articles on HT, like the current one re global warming and Exxon. I don’t think that the word “Cuba” even appears.

  • May 26, 2016 at 7:45 pm
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    luis welcome, firstly I do hope that you are not another American interested in using these pages to deprecate your own country rather than addressing Cuba. Those of us who are not US citizens get rather bored with the constant references to the internal political problems apparently suffered in the US as we are interested in Cuba.
    You write of the USA’s imperialistic tendencies and those that have affected Cuba – the Monroe Doctrine affected all the Americas from Canada to Chile, but 1892 and the Paris Treaty exacerbated the difficulties in Cuba and the Platt Amendment compounded that.
    One can fully understand the introduction of the 2nd US embargo and approve the conditions for lifting it which have never been explained to the people of Cuba, but clearly it failed as a policy. Helms-Burton was a further piece of stupidity as it alienated other countries.
    However, having said all that, you fail to refer to the Castro’s imperialistic tendencies as evidenced by their military intervention in thirteen other countries including the invasion of Israel.
    The naked aggression demonstrated by Fidel Castro in proposing to Nikita Krushchev an initial nuclear strike against the US is another factor to consider.

  • May 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    Luis, don’t get all clenched up. This post is about the Cuba that could have been but for the Castros’ revolution.

  • May 26, 2016 at 1:52 pm
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    Mr Castro is only interested in the person he sees looking back at him when he looks at himself in the mirror. He has plundered Cuba and its people for his own ?

  • May 26, 2016 at 12:38 pm
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    Moses you dont mention the USA trying to block everything that Cuba does. Loser. To judge Castro and not the USA’s imperialistic tendencies.

  • May 26, 2016 at 11:44 am
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    I disagree with Fernando. I believe that Fidel Castro lived exactly the life he imagined. Think about it. Absolute power for nearly 50 years. The last 7 years have been complicated by health concerns and the sharing of the limelight with his lesser-witted sibling but he still gets what he wants when he wants it. As for the Cuban people, what they wanted in life didn’t matter to Fidel. It still doesn’t.

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