Cuba Faces Two Blockades as People Awaken

By Ariel Hidalgo (14ymedio)

According to many of those who criticized Obama’s policy towards the island, he made concessions without getting the same reciprocity from the Cuban government. (EFE)

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban government officials lament that the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, does not want to return to the open policy towards Cuba of former President Obama, in effect at a time when Biden was vice president. Cuban officials forget that it was they who closed the process of rapprochement between the two countries after the then retired Commander-in-Chief (Fidel Castro) published his critical reflection El Hermano Obama (Brother Obama) and that, in general, the Party “toughs” stopped that process and reversed many changes of the previous years.

Now this whining reminds me of the laments of the last sultan of Spain at the loss of Granada which earned him this deserved reproach from his mother: “You do well to cry like a woman what you failed to defend like a man!”

The question that should be asked, then, is why they were frightened when, according to many of those who criticized Obama’s policy, he made concessions without having the same reciprocity on the part of the Cuban government. Or could it be that the Commander and the Party toughs were more insightful than the toughs on the opposite shore in realizing that this policy of rapprochement was more dangerous for them than a policy of tensions?

The crux of the question was probably not whether or not the Cuban regime made the concessions, but the impact that approach could have on the population. The fact that Obama was able to speak without restriction before the entire Cuban people and the cheers and other euphoric reactions of the population towards him, possibly was an alarm bell for them. It seems that now, with the rope around their necks, they are reconsidering the matter.

But the chances that Biden will return to that policy of rapprochement in the immediate term seem nil, not only because of his statements that Cuba is not a matter of immediate interest for his foreign policy, but because it is very likely that he wants to win back the Florida voters who denied him their votes in the last elections if he wants to win a second term. He knows that the decisive weight in that defeat was Cubans and, although he managed to win the White House, Florida continues to be of vital importance. A policy change could only be made after the next presidential elections. But it is evident that the Cuban situation cannot wait four more years.

The hard-line opponents, therefore, clap their hands, because they, especially those in exile, always bet on the policy of the pressure cooker: tighten and tighten the embargo and reduce travel and remittances as much as possible, until the people, out of desperation, take to the streets.

It is not very decorous, by the way, to encourage calamities from afar so that others are the ones to launch themselves into the fire. The writer never advocated that policy, not only so that no one, from within, would tell him: “Come and go hungry yourself, suffer calamities, and then take to the streets,” but because it seemed an unwise strategy to me. The reasons are many and in another era I enumerated them. But in case you have forgotten them, I repeat now the most important ones:

1. Because the regime justifies the disastrous effects of its internal economic policy by blaming the external enemy. Still many of the fanatics and opportunists who continue to support the regime continue to use the rhetoric about “imperialism.” If the embargo imposed by the United States did not exist, the regime would be completely unmasked before all the people and before the world.

2. Because it achieves the solidarity of international public opinion by diverting attention from internal contradictions with the myth of the heroic island resisting the siege of a voracious empire. Year after year, at the United Nations, the United States is condemned almost unanimously, with very few exceptions, for maintaining the embargo against Cuba.

3. Because it justifies the internal repression of critics and dissidents by accusing them of being agents of the powerful external enemy and, therefore, traitors to the homeland. When in 1996 it was clearly seen that the Helms-Burton Act, which would strengthen the embargo, was going to be defeated in the United States Congress, the Cuban government decided to assassinate four peaceful opponents in exile by shooting down two civilian planes, and as a result the law was passed. Hence, many called it, ironically, the “Helms-Burton-Castro Law,” because with that excuse, it allowed the regime to openly muzzle all internal dissent, dissolve a legal institution with reformist projects such as the Center for American Studies (CEA ) and imprison 75 leaders of the dissent.

4. Because the people in Cuba, pressed solve their immediate economic problems such as, for example, a mother who has nothing to put on her children’s plates, do not have the time or mindset to think about holding demonstrations in the streets, but only to wear out their shoe leather looking for food.

5. Because a policy is required that, on the contrary, strengthens the victims by making them economically independent from the State, and prevents the latter from exercising economic coercion ever them, which is why it is preferable to facilitate travel and remittances. When Manuel Moreno Fraginals, author of El Ingenio, already in exile, was asked why the Cuban people, who had previously been so heroic, did not rebel against the dictatorship, he replied: “Because the middle class, the main protagonist of those struggles, was totally suppressed.”

However, the deep crisis facing the country has not really depended on what the Government of any other country has dictated, no matter how powerful it may be. The insubordination of the people in the streets is not due to an external blockade but to the Cuban leadership’s own internal policy stubbornly maintained despite so many setbacks, and above all, to an awakening of the collective conscience. Today they regret that the powerful neighbor to the North does not advance towards a process that ends the external blockade, but they themselves insist on continuing to maintain an internal blockade against their own people.

They could get the country out of this crisis by allowing farmers to sell freely to whom they wish at market prices, lowering the cost of self-employment licenses, as well as abusive taxes, allowing investments by Cubans from abroad as well as aid to their relatives in Cuba so that they can freely promote new small businesses, among other economic measures, and allow artists and intellectuals in the country to express themselves freely to contribute their ideas in the search for a solution that can only come from the consensus of the whole nation in all its diversity.

But they do not, simply because their current policy allows them to maintain absolute power and continue a life of privilege, turning their backs on the growing precariousness of the population, with a blindness only comparable to that of Queen Marie Antoinette of France shortly before the outbreak of the French Revolution, who responded when told that the people were starving: “Let them eat cake.”

But that absolute power has begun to break down, and they must be aware that they can also absolutely lose it if they do not realize in time that the true revolutionary process is not the one they stubbornly claim to be leading, a revolution that ended already more than half a century ago, but the one that is already beginning in the streets and neighborhoods of man Cuban cities.

The people have already woken up, they have stopped believing the lies with which they have been deceived for more than six decades and have become aware of their rights, and since no one governs without the consent of the governed, if they do not obey, the governor leaves the government.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


7 thoughts on “Cuba Faces Two Blockades as People Awaken

  • May 8, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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    Is the commenter above who signs as “John” the infamous John McAuliffe of HT days gone by? The tone of the comment reflects the same empty-headed comments JM would frequently make. This John fails to explain exactly how the US embargo is the problem facing Cubans. Instead he simply implies that the author gives short shrift to the impact of the embargo. Well of course he does! The US embargo is a very minor player in daily struggles in Cuban life. Unless “John” can explain otherwise, let’s not parrot Castro talking points when trying to defend the indefensible Castro dictatorship.

  • May 4, 2021 at 6:00 pm
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    Very illuminating article. The author has captured the conundrum of the Cuban people. The vast majority of Cubans understand that the American blockade/embargo, perhaps years ago had a major impact on the Cuban economy, but today in 2021 that irritable impediment is no longer a viable excuse used by the communist leaders in power to explain the gross mismanagement, unproductive, and unsustainable economy unable to feed its citizens.

    The communist leaders also know that fact. But they also know they must do, and will do, whatever it takes to maintain total control and total power. Artists, journalists, anyone openly criticizing the government are dealt with harshly to the point of severe jail time, if not worse. Critics openly decrying the present state of affairs either, unwillingly, have to leave their beloved country or have to suffer the consequences internally.

    The majority of Cubans are in no mood for open rebellion on the streets as some outsiders advocate. Some foreign critics point to other rebellious situations happening in the world such as the Hong Kong protesters and wonder why Cubans also do not take to the streets and vociferously demand and protest for political change and freedom.

    The hard working hungry Cuban as the article poignantly points out, and this applies to the majority of Cubans today, simply cannot and will not. Why? Ariel Hidalgo explains: “ . . . a mother who has nothing to put on her children’s plates, do not have the time or mindset to think about holding demonstrations in the streets, but only to wear out their shoe leather looking for food.” The well fed and rich in comparison Hong Kong protesters, not to diminish their rightful demand for autonomy and democracy, have the time, and resources to protest in the thousands. Cubans have neither.

    Cubans know their history very well. In 1959 bold, rebellious Cubans did indeed protest and revolted with bloodshed and overthrew an inept Battista government that mismanaged the economy, centralized power among the very few, while the majority of Cubans were left to support themselves in utter misery and illiteracy. So, Cubans historically did in fact welcome in a new change, a new regime which promised equity and equality for the price of their freedom.

    Sixty plus years later Cubans under those communist rulers who promised nirvana are wondering was that Revolution really worth it? Do we want to go down the revolutionary road once again. What will the cost be? We shed enough blood in the Revolutionary struggle and look what it has attained? More hardship, more suffering, more humiliation with little to no hope. Disillusion persists.

    When the author Manuel Moreno Fraginals was asked “why the Cuban people, who had previously been so heroic, did not rebel against the dictatorship, he replied: “Because the middle class, the main protagonist of those struggles, was totally suppressed.” Absolutely spot on.

    Suppressed, in what manner? Psychologically, perhaps by their own history. Do we spill blood on the streets for perhaps a victory – maybe, maybe not; socially, certainly by the witness of fellow compatriots hauled off to jail for only holding a few innocuous anti-government placards on a city street. Cubans’ spirits are crushed and put down with brutal force for any attempt of peaceful disobedience.

    The article concludes: “The people have already woken up, they have stopped believing the lies with which they have been deceived for more than six decades and have become aware of their rights.” Yes they have. Now moving forward, the collective hard work begins.

  • May 4, 2021 at 4:50 pm
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    The author too easily glosses over the US embargo which does in reality create severe difficulties for the Cuban economy. Further the author links nefarious behind the scenes reasons for the failed anti-capitalist ideology of the Cuban government. Perhaps the Cuban leaders are simply inept economic leaders. Maybe if the US would give up the embargo this ineptness would indeed be exposed. Maybe the US should think outside the box and end the embargo but then that approach is not common among bullies.

  • May 4, 2021 at 10:24 am
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    There is No Stopping Cubans Now with all the Worlds Eyes on The Cuban Regime. Foreign $$ have Only been funded into the Cuban Regime Suppression of the People, Great Article with the Start of Cubans waking up.

  • May 4, 2021 at 9:24 am
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    Brilliant observations, sir. Biden and his cronies recognize that the Cuban folks who come to the USA, are fed up with the clever deceptions of the promise of utopia through Socialist totalitarian rulership. It was and is a failure in Cuba, as it was and is a failure wherever it’s ugly head of deception rises up. When these awakened and aware Cubans come to the USA, they will not vote for the Socialist Democrats. Republicans in the USA want a guarantee of much greater freedoms and liberty for the Cuban masses of folks, from the Cuban totalitarian leaders, before they will consent to lifting the embargo. While the Democrats want Socialist voters. In my humble opinion all that is needed to lift the embargo is a commitment by Cuban leaders to allow unrestricted travel of Cuban citizens, to and from the USA. The motivated and ambitious folks will quickly depart from Cuba to the USA, where in the state of Florida they have great opportunity for advancement and success very quickly. When this happens, the power structure of totalitarian Socialist rulership will completely crumble, under the weight of a mass population of non- ambitious unproductive folks, who believe that they are “entitled” to full support no matter what they fail to do. And then a system of freedom and liberty for all, in a free-market socio-economic system, coupled with true government by and for the people, can be developed, and this can grow. Many of the producers who departed, will return to their homeland, to build and develop wealth aplenty to support those folks who are truly physically disabled, and the elders. While the lazy young non-producers will have to get off thier lazy butts and work or starve. Thats how we did it in the USA, and you can do it in Cuba. But, you’ve got to get rid of the Socialism, and force the Socialists out of power, first. Tallyho.

  • May 4, 2021 at 9:00 am
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    100% writing and truth. It’s easy to blame someone else for your own faults time the people rise up or the government start helping its own people and stop blaming everyone else for their inept policies on the island of Cuba

  • May 4, 2021 at 8:24 am
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    No better words have been said. This is the best article I have read about the truth happening in Cuba. Hopefully out of desperation they will overthrow their selfish government. Let all the government officials look for food on the streets! This is a humanitarian crisis.

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