My Real Cuba

Rosa Martinez

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 11 — When I began to write for Havana Times two years ago, I thought I was running the risk of being expelled from the university or being looked at poorly in my neighborhood the day I was discovered.

I imagined that some officer from State Security might come to my house and turn my life upside down for writing for a foreign website.

These and other risks I ran when I decided to speak out in Havana Times about my experiences and those of others who, like me, don’t feel that our lives are reflected in the official media of our country.

I was driven by the desire to contribute to the struggle for a more participatory, more open society in which we can say everything we feel without the fear of being branded traitors or labeled a gusano (a worm).

I was never interested in having readers believe that I was either opposed to the revolution or a staunch advocate of it. My only concern was, and is, to relate my experiences, which in some manner might be the same as others residents from here in Guantanamo Province and could be interesting for other Cubans.

Over this time I have found admirers and detractors. The words of support obligated me to keep on writing and trying to do better, while any criticism also helped me and sometimes served as the inspiration for additional posts.

Over the more than three years that our site has remained on the web, the readers — some faithful regulars, others occasional passersby’s — have been the best gauge of our ideas.

Our followers can be for or against the topic or the ideas expressed by any contributor, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that they’re always there, willing to continue the discussion about a real Cuba, one that exists beyond the cold Cuban official dailies and those publications that rant nonstop against this country.

4 thoughts on “My Real Cuba

  • Rosa, it is important that your voice is speaking and it will be even more important than all cubans beging to speak.

    Voices should not be silent.

    People each should speak what they think truly without fear. I know is hard because of so many fears accumulated by half a century of repression. But the immobility needs to be broken. We all do not have to agree in what we speak of but it is important to listen to others that think different. Those are the ones we should listen with more attention because they show other point of view and other solutions to problems or things we have never thought about. Keeping one’s mind open to change is very important.

    Best to you and all the writers of Havana Time.
    Viva la diferencia!

  • Keep writing! It is important work – informing and leading discussions about “real Cuba.”

  • Your fears about being looked at poorly by your neighbors is completely nonsense, first of all because most of your neighbors will never be able to read this publication, of a very limited circulation (unavailable in cuban pesos),norvia internet…. I would have understood your concern in case your note was published by Granma or JR which most of the population can read normally, I do hope that as a part of the new measures being put into practice by our president, in a very near future we can read notes like yours in any of our daily newspapers…

  • Being from Guantanamo as Rosa with a critical difference for having entered my seventh decade of life, allows me to appreciate, evaluate and extrapolate much from her writings. Travel abroad, meeting others, being exposed to other experiences, help to round out out views and analysis.

    My recent trip to Senegal, who gained its independence from France in 1960, whose land mass is 50% larger than Cuba, has 14 million inhabitants, tropical climate, semi dessertic, located on the Atlantic coast and with a similar slave trade past as Cuba, allows us to compare apple to apple.

    Cuba has tons of unresolved problems, many are the result of human neglect, stifling, inhibiting policies, corruption and lack of development. Still, Guantanamo remains hundreds of years ahead of Senegal.

    Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, more than any other provinces of Cuba, needs people willing to speak out, suggest, complain, denounce what is wrong, if we hope to live in a better community. Focusing and what is wrong and highlighting it for no good purposes, may just make matters worse.

    I prefer to remember Guantanamo of the 50 & 60, when education was the engine moving everyone forward, where falling behind meant loosing friends and family members, although, there were very few options available then. Moving to Santiago de Cuba or Havana to sleep on the floor of any relative or friends willing to let in in order to study, was standard procedure.

    What have happened to the city that produced so many doctors, engineers, educators, architects etc., they had to find work in other provinces or abroad?

    Why not ask and find out, why professionals from Guantanamo are found in every important field in every other provinces in Cuba except their own, and those remaining in Guantanamo, ask themselves constantly, what am I doing here?

    Is it a national secret, that in 1970, Guantanamo was ten times more of a city than Bayamo and today Bayamo is 50 times more of city than Guantanamo?

    That’s the struggle I attempt to carry out, while I encourage anyone who cares for our Guantanamo to do the same with honesty, without fear of threats, labels or stereotyping by others, who are usually opportunists who have contributed little or nothing to the betterment of our ill seen and forgotten province.

    One thing Rosa and everyone else can be sure of, is that there is too much history, struggle, triumph and failures accumulated in the people of Guantanamo since the arrival of Columbus, for it not to be able to overcome these difficult times originating either from misconception and neglect.

    It is not Guantanamo’s fault, to be the scene of the horrible massacre of Blacks in 1912 that covered large swath of its territory nor, that the United States Naval Base and its history of corruption, prostitution, forceful occupation of its prime bay and most recently, transformed into a torture center tarnishing its soil and worldwide image, should have a reflection on its people.

    We may not be around, but like the Fenix bird, Guantanamo will rise from its ashes to benefit the world.

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