By Gaby Rabassa
HAVANA TIMES — “When somebody understands that obeying unjust laws goes against his dignity as a man, no tyranny will be able to enslave him.” -Gandhi
We are a strong people in the middle of the Caribbean Sea who have been prized by the world’s greatest powers as a port for the Americas throughout history. We Cubans are natives and creoles, a mix of colonization and slavery. We have lived through wars, military interventions, blockades, the Special Period and socio-economic changes so as to create real socialism.
Need and desperation have forced us to apply the “law of the jungle”: the law of the strongest, and the constant loss of values which troubles us.
After half a century, negotiations for reestablishing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US took place for the first time. We maintain trade relationships with China, Venezuela, Canada, Brazil, Vietnam, etc.
Supposedly, we find ourselves at a crossroads right now, of necessary sacrifices for the wellbeing of our country.
We still have an infant mortality rate of less than 5 per 1000 births. We have the lowest illiteracy rate and the highest education rate in all of Latin America.
As our Apostle, our National Hero, Jose Marti once said: “While there is still a single poor person, unless he’s lazy or an addict, there’s unjustice” and in Cuba, there are many working, struggling people who live in awful conditions.
So, what are we missing?
We have the drive and energy to strengthen the Malecon seawall again if need be, but we use this instead to destroy one another on a daily basis.
We have acquired new buying and selling possibilities, such as with private businesses, however, we continue to exploit our own people, our fellow Cubans, while we give a fake smile and a cold beer to foreigners.
We repair some streets, but we dig up others. Customer service improves in one place and gets worse somewhere else.
All of our people’s rebelliousness and strength, of our masses, which was once used to gain our independence, is now working against us. How? This is still a mystery that we don’t have the answer to. The truth of the matter is that at some point in history, we stopped fighting, we stopped demanding and we gave in. We gave in to laws that don’t favor us. To changes that weren’t “discussed in length” with the people. To a democracy which is far from participatory. To an imposed regime.
Where is the fissure? Where do we put the patch? What are we missing?
Could it be that so much desperation has made us immune to change…? That in the middle of having to struggle so much just to survive, we forget what is moral, about our principles and dignity? That the history of the Cuban nation is to stain the floor we walk across?
I think we are much more than this. We have survived in the face of adversity. We are stuck on our caiman (our island is called that because of its similarity to this reptile seen from a satellite) with all of its war wounds still fresh. We remain firm and -some of us- won’t abandon it.
That’s why we must ask ourselves this question and reflect upon it:
What are we missing?