Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno (photos: Juan Suarez)
HAVANA TIMES — Cuban reality is slowly changing under the leadership of Raul Castro. Some people tend to deny this fact, obsessed as they are with downplaying the significance of events that contradict their perceptions, tastes or downright interests. The reforms and changes are there, and they are gradually giving shape to a society that is clearly different from the one that preceded it.
Acknowledging that these changes are taking place, of course, doesn’t mean that one ought to automatically approve them in terms of their content and origin. The least that a simple mortal who is not content with these can do is express their dissatisfaction and defend other points of view. Following the announcement that diplomatic relations would be re-established between Cuba and the United States, I have been dissatisfied with a series of issues, in addition to those I have put forth on earlier occasions.
We know that secret negotiations were held for more than a year before the announcement was made on December 17 last year. Talks between high-ranking diplomats have continued, for there are many problems to sort out and that is going to take some time to do. There is no longer much of a need to hide these conversations as such, but the content of these meetings continues under a thick veil of discretion. We are merely informed about general questions and agreements reached along the way, issues that haven’t been discussed in depth by those involved.
I am not too concerned about what goes on in my neighbor’s house. It’s not my house, so let them do as they may. But I am justifiably concerned and upset over the possible repercussions such actions could have at this end. Let us not forget that the chief objective of the new US policy is to make the changes being implemented in Cuba more effective. Those changes, of course, are aimed at restoring capitalism, or whatever capitalist mechanisms haven’t yet been restored by our government.
So, I am concerned about the content of those talks that get such good press in Granma and the rest of our official media, and I begin to establish links between many things happening around me. For instance, the recently approved Foreign Investment Law and the new Labor Code, among other pieces of legislation that are so lax about relations of exploitation among human beings.
I am worried that the reforms that made travel regulations laxer for Cubans didn’t stem from a sovereign decision but was a means of pleasing our interlocutors in the north. I am also concerned that a possible improvement in Internet connectivity responds to similar pressures. It’s true these two measures are not bad ideas at all, but, if we act under the pressure of this foreign power, we may one day bitterly regret having opened the door to such intervention.
Another development that raises suspicions is our government’s sudden announcement that a new Electoral Law was in the works. After so many years of telling us we had the best democratic system in the world, they are now pulling an “improvement” from under their sleeves. If such a reform has been designed with true good intentions, why wasn’t it done publicly? Could it be it was cooked up to doll up the system some, faced with the demands of interlocutors who have a very specific understanding of what democracy is?
There is only one way to dispel these gnawing doubts, and it consists in greater government transparency regarding the issues addressed. Let them say I’m a gossip, but I defend my conviction that I ought to have this right. Our government must take on its responsibility of giving us a clearer account of what is being negotiated. Then, it is likely to be more careful about the transactions it conducts and less prone to trading the nation’s interests for peanuts.
One of the things we know, for instance, is that the United States is very interested in addressing human rights issues in these talks. I support the idea of addressing such issues among Cubans. I want these to be addressed at public gatherings at physical and virtual squares, through respectful, democratic and horizontal exchanges that will produce solutions that are far more legitimate than any that could be arrived at in the closed circles of Cuban and US elites.
I do not in any expect this to happen in the near future, but strengthening an atmosphere of doubt and civic demands will always be profitable. We must nurture the legitimate feeling that the people must have a say on matters that affect them directly.