Vicente Morin Aguado (photos: Juan Suarez)
HAVANA TIMES — During an unforgettable session of the recently-concluded yearly conference of the ASCE – an organization based in the United States devoted to the study of the Cuban economy – journalist Miriam Leyva spoke about the immediate future of relations between the great, northern nation and our archipelago. The blockade or embargo was an obligatory subject. “We should begin top ut behind us this unavoidable dilemma, take other kinds of steps, move forward without this burden on our shoulders,” she said.
If I’ve misquoted her, I hope Miriam will read this post and correct me. In any event, her words have inspired some thoughts on the subject, which has been transformed by the Castro leadership into the chief problem affecting relations between the two countries since the triumph of the revolution. Miriam Leyva is the widow of Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a renowned Cuban diplomat and later dissident who became a valuable analyst of the island’s economy.
At the Miami Airport, I again saw what I perceived during my two days next to the very busy US Interests Section in Havana (USINT). The hundreds of people who gather in these two places every day confirm that relations between the two countries are beyond any attempt at a definitive rupture. Their roots reach deep into history and grow in a lush, green forest nourished by the beams of the tropical sun.
People’s luggage exceeded in weight those one comes across while boarding any other regular flight. I saw people paying the overweight to take those heavy loads to the island and asking other passengers with lighter luggage to carry some for them. The main thing, however, was and continues to be the links that exist among all Cubans, no matter where you may be. We know very well that such links exist in other places that the Cuban diaspora has reached.
The question invariably arises: why continue with the dilemma of the embargo or blockade? I don’t care one bit what they choose to call it, and less about what either part demands in this connection, if it’s more of the same political slogans.
I once again declare (and won’t be repeating this again) that I am opposed to the discriminatory punishment represented by this measure, implemented by President Kennedy. I don’t wish to repeat myself and propose that we move down a different road.
Cubans continue to arrive at US coasts, land borders and even airports looking for a habitat in the country. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 favors them. Miriam was of the opinion, and I agree with her, that this legal status ought to be maintained, even if recent developments invite us to reassess the issue. It is still too early to decide on this: we are still hearing about people who beat women in Havana simply because they stage peaceful demonstrations against the government.
During a lunch organized by the ASCE, five young self-employed women who live and work in Cuba spoke of their experiences (successful until now) and gave their opinions about private property under the norms of Raul Castro’s reforms. They were evasive when asked about where their initial investment had come from.
Obama authorized the sending of up to five thousand dollars to anyone in Cuba through Western Union. One million Cubans live in the United States and smaller but not insignificant numbers are scattered around the planet. One of the attentive readers of my posts lives in far-away New Zealand.
Cuban-American relations cannot be suspended. They are above politicians, whose personal ambitions and wishes (be these pragmatic or ideological) are quickly left behind, and they adapt to the ties between families, that vast majority one doesn’t see on television, be it the Panda set one finds in Havana or the 3D device in Miami.
The blockade or embargo, I say, must be divorced from political slogans, and it is best to put it behind us. This would deal a devastating blow to the political extremes offered us by an opposition that, though once legitimate, is now out of step with the times, in Cuba and abroad.
At the farm product and livestock markets across the island, the price of pork continues to skyrocket. The same holds for the prices at other establishments, all under the monopoly control of the Party-State that still prevails among us.
On Miami television, I saw images of desperate Cubans on rafts, repatriated because they were intercepted at sea before setting foot on Vizcaino Key, Florida. I was also exposed to the unjustified cruelty shown Cuban immigrants by authorities in the Bahamas and no public condemnation of this on behalf of our government.
Cuban baseball players are securing multi-million-dollar contracts while some “luminaries of revolutionary sports”, already retired, prefer to do without the benefits offered them by their patriotic government and choose to seek refuge in the Sunshine State.
People come, go and leave: it is an unstoppable wave that no one dares to try and hold back.
We are skirting the dilemma of whether to keep or lift the blockade/embargo, going over those who, at either side of the Gulf, suck up the benefits of such an unsustainable position. It is time to boo at them and say to them the Cuban phrase of: “it’s all the same to us!”
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]