Luis Miguel del Bahia

HAVANA TIMES — One of the most important things I learned from living in Europe was not to fear getting into politics.

When I was still living in Cuba, opinions were stated behind closed doors, in low voices, and looking to the sides, not wanting to get oneself into problems.

Today, upon return, most people with whom I talk are still fearful of being reprimanded for speaking openly about ideas that are contrary to the government.

This phobia isn’t groundless or paranoid. One can find themselves unemployed or marginalized, in short: no longer “socially integrated.”

There are other people who don’t have anything to lose, but they haven’t had the opportunity to compare and understand that they have a right to be heard.

They have not come to value freedom as a force that emancipates.

I don’t have anything to lose either, nor do I have the fear of never having left the cave.

So I find myself surrounded by people who look at me with strange expressions — ones of fear, surprise, disgust — when I make sharp anti-government comments.

These are the same people who can’t afford to buy decent food, those whose wages aren’t enough for that. In short, these are people who suffer the same problems as me.

The system has been lucky (or effective) at keeping most Cubans from going abroad. In such a context, it’s quite difficult to achieve change.

Maybe when more people can become familiar with other values — different from the ones on Cuban TV news — a collective yearning for freedom will be created and they will finally lose their fear.

10 thoughts on “Not Afraid of Getting into Politics

  • To the author: I just returned from my third trip to Cuba, and I encountered a number of Cubans, as I have in the past, who voiced criticisms of the Cuban government: openly, loudly, and in public places. I also encountered many Cubans who generally supported the government’s policies. While I do not deny that political repression occurs in Cuba, I find the characterizations of Cuba as a place where everyone lives in fear all the time as not in line with my own observations. Although I am an outsider–an American who visits as a tourist and so cannot truly understand the Cuban reality–I’ve always encountered a very wide range of voiced opinions from Cubans on every topic, and I have trouble believing that Cuban society is as straightjacketed as some claim when it comes to criticism of the government.

  • Not that it is any of your business, but my wife is Cuban so we are legally able to travel to Cuba to visit her family still there. Even if I were ¨breaking the law¨as you say, does that make any of my comments regarding Cuba any less true?

  • I haven’t been there, but I’ve been told by several Canadian sailors that most boats in Muriel Hemingway Marina in Havana are American. Most are older men who come alone, looking for young Cuban women who they readily find due to their money.

    Personally, I met an American in the Florida Keys who told me he had just returned from Cuba. He goes every year and never checks in or out of the US. He had a small power boat, was in his late 50’s, early 60’s and told me he has several ‘wives’ in Havana.

    Seems sex isn’t on the US list of blockaded items. But I guess American always did like to pay for the favours of Cuban women. Old habits die hard. Makes you sometimes think if Cuba’s excellent health care system hadn’t eradicated venereal disease to the extent it has, these men would go home with a very special ‘souvenir’. There’s upsides and downsides to everything, it seems.

  • In other words he is breaking the law

  • Thousands of US citizens break the travel ban by illegally (on the US end) traveling to Cuba each year where they are welcomed like visitors from anywhere else. A small percentage have been hounded and prosecuted for doing so… the vast majority have had no problems.

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