My Opinion in Havana Times

Rosa Martinez

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Getting to know the reality of any country is very easy in these days of the Internet. One can’t keep anything a secret. Even national security issues of a country are increasingly difficult to hide. An outstanding example is the body of revelations by Wikileaks.

If an earthquake occurs in the Pacific, the world learns the news in just seconds. The extensive use of social networking and the explosion of personal blogs have created an interesting phenomena for many scholars of communication – as well as worries for more than a few politicians.

Sometimes you don’t know whether to believe everything you see or read on the net. You’re told a story by dozens of people, all with different views, and in some cases the same matter has several versions.

That’s the point. Websites provide personal opinions of the authors on specific issues that can affect individuals, more than one, even the entire population of a region or a country or the entire planet.

That is for me precisely the meaning of Havana Times, one of the websites circulating on the net. But in this case it reflects life in Cuba.

It is a site that features the views of Cubans both on and off the island, from different provinces, although most of them live in the Cuban capital.

The contributors are from diverse social spheres, ages, races and beliefs. Being so different, we not only think and act differently, but our analyses and writings are also different.

Among us there are those who criticize our socialist system, believing it to be only an aberration that destroys the economy. There are those who argue — openly or between the lines — that capitalism, well run, is the solution to the current crisis affecting the world.

Most of the writers believe that the ideal is neither one thing nor the other, but mixtures of the two, while a few of the contributors advocate socialism, despite the shortcomings of the “socialist” system here.

Readers — whether they comment or not — are very important for websites and blogs. Without them there’s no reason for this media to be. Havana Times has followers who are as diverse as the writers of the site itself. Among them are also those who strongly criticize the Cuban Revolution and others who praise it to no end.

I’m a faithful defender of criticism. I believe that only by attacking misdeeds, deficiencies, malpractices and errors can we grow as a society and as a country.

I recognize that over 50 years of revolutionary government has not resolved some of our difficulties, such as the housing problem, public transportation, food and economic development in general.

But to say that socialism has been a total failure is to deny all the progress made by our society in many fields, including health care and sports, to cite just two examples.

There’s nothing wrong with writing about the wonders performed by Cuban doctors in and outside of Cuba. Nor is it wrong to share personal anecdotes showing some of the many gaps that still exist in our health care system, which invest millions of dollars annually.

I think that Veronica Vega, for example, has a duty and should share all the troubles and misfortunes she has experienced with her intelligent child’s school. People may like it or not, but she’ll continue repeating these because it’s her personal experience, and at least it’s possible to read about this in Havana Times.

Nevertheless, I’d be a liar if I said anything similar has ever happened to my older girl, who’s now in fourth grade. Of course I know several embarrassing stories related to Cuban education, I’ve written about some, which is my right as well.

Therein lies the reality of a country, those nuances that color the lives of each of us. What really matters is the truth of each person and the diversity of our many experiences. This diversity has always existed in Cuba, and now — more than ever — we can see and reflect it.

Cuba is another place in this world that’s full of miseries and disasters, this world we’ve polluted in so many ways. Like other people, Cubans are men and women with dissatisfactions and dreams yet to be achieved – people with common internal battles.

How bad can it be to write about these dissatisfactions and those dreams?

My posts and those of my colleagues merely reflect our realities, utopias, joys and our sorrows. I always try to say what I feel, and our readers do the same.

I thank everyone who visits our site, especially those who read my work. I invite you to discuss them further and to leave your opinions – whether you agree with them or not.


2 thoughts on “My Opinion in Havana Times

  • Well said, Rosa! The only way the errors of the Revolution will be corrected is through honest, frank and forthright criticisms and analyses of the problems. Those who feel that capitalism and so-called “free enterprise” is the answer has been insulated from the problems and consequences of this system. The multi-nantional corporations which now predominate just use people, exploit them mercilessly, chew them up, then cast them off, often while they’re only in middle-age. Having worked on thee front-lines of the (ever-diminishing) social safety net here in the empire, I’ve seen these consequences again and again (from 1985 through 2006, with a few hiatus, I worked as a weekend house manager at a homeless shelter), as reflected not only by the alcoholics and drug addicts, but ever-increasingly by the working poor, former members of the lower- and middle-class who were unfortunate enough to fall victime to a prolonged and chronic illness, or those who, like the former manager of a big-box store which went bankrupt, were simply cast off. Most folks here are only a paycheque, or a few paycheques away, from disaster. Socialism is the only system which recongizes the full dignity of each human being. Corporations just use human beings as a means to an end, the end being to maximize profits for the stockholders and the executives, especially the CEO’s, whose salaries and bonuses are obscene.

  • Socialism has been a total failure. The advances in health, education and sports have come at too high a price and are unsustainable under Castro’s socialism. Besides, just because the brutal Batista dictatorship which preceeded the current brutal Castro dictatorship failed even worse in many respects (and succeeded in others) does not make the Castro regime any less a failure. After the Great Earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, there was an even greater fire that destroyed what had not been destroyed by the earthquake. Batista was Cuba’s earthquake but Castro is the fire.

Comments are closed.