HAVANA TIMES — I have just finished reading an article by Rosa Martínez published in Havana Times, titled “Aversion at First Sight”. A better title, in my humble opinion, would have been “Dressed in Red”.
In her article, Martínez speaks for others, and on her own behalf, to criticize a woman who is currently abroad, not on vacation, but to inform about the current situation in Cuba.
As far as I know, Yoani Sánchez, the woman in question, has repeatedly called for the lifting of the blockade imposed on Cuba. I want to point out that I am not a follower of Sánchez’, or of any other blogger for that matter. I have only read two or three of her posts and they have struck me as accurate and sincere.
I have not, what’s more, had the privilege of accessing her blog, owing to Internet connection problems and censorship, something I would like to do in order to read her posts and see if there is anything she writes I do not agree with. Likewise, to have the opportunity to get to know the so-called “dissident” more closely.
It is understandable that this blogger has detractors and many followers. I suppose the international recognition she has earned for herself is not undeserved. About those awards that offend people so much, I can only say: “he whom God assists, Saint Peter blesses”.
If you, my dear colleague, defend an individual’s right to express what they think or talk frankly about their personal experiences, as you claim, then, in that case, let the water find its own level. What lies has Sánchez spread? I am anxious to know what they are.
Can you honestly claim that there’s freedom of expression in Cuba? Can you honestly say that all Cubans enjoy the same rights?
Let me briefly share with you my own story. I started to work when I was nineteen and held a full-time job for twenty years. These years of arduous labor afforded me no concrete benefits. I have worked hard for a very long time, and I have grown old hearing the same, tired political rigmarole.
Now, to add insult to injury, we have to put up with news about Venezuela and its problems, which is pretty much more of the same (though their news is better than ours because Venezuela’s economic situation cannot be compared to Cuba’s, which is in dire straits…our country is just too poor, as most of its people are).
Many of our doctors go on solidarity missions abroad to soothe their financial woes, to bring back computers and a long list of other things they can’t buy here.
Many Cuban families lack such basic things as a telephone or a color TV, in this day and age.
Owning a mobile phone is a luxury in Cuba. It’s true, many (mainly young people) do have them, but they use them merely for texting, because call rates, considering that an average salary in our country is laughably low (and can remain the same for 5, 10 years), are simply ridiculous and abusive.
We have poor diets. Many of us can’t even enjoy a glass of milk in the morning, many of us don’t even know what a bowl of cereal is. The price of basic groceries is still sky-high and, by the looks of it, will remain so for a very long time. Public transportation is also a disgrace.
To cut to the chase, I could draw up an enormous list of basic, unmet needs that Cubans have today. This clearly demonstrates that our political system does not and has not satisfied our needs throughout these past years of crisis. We cannot ignore these problems and behave like fanatics, blindly supporting a Party that is in many ways dysfunctional.
The only thing everyone gets, without exception, is the ration card. I don’t think I need to remind you that the great majority of Cubans cannot afford to buy products in hard currency stores. Many simply frequent these stores to spend their time looking at products they can’t purchase.
With regards to Sánchez’ ties to the United States, please, my dear colleague, since time immemorial, all of our problems have had to do with our nasty neighbor, in one way or another.
I ask you: where, if not the United States, can Yoani go to hold talks and demand changes? To Russia? Japan, maybe?
Of course she needs to establish ties with the United States. It is up there, in the monster’s entrails, where most of our nightmares come from, nightmares which have lasted more than 50 years.
At least she has had the courage to go and debate with them, to make proposals. Perhaps they will fall on deaf ears. Whatever the results, good or bad, she is making the effort.
I can only hope that when she returns – and she will return – she will be invited to take part on one of our televised round table discussions, that democratic prime-time program of ours, so that we can all hear what she has to say, and she can share with us her criteria and ideas for the future.
When that day comes, I will finally believe that Cuba is really changing. It will be a great day for all Cubans.