HAVANA TIMES — I must apologize to the readers of Havana Times for my recent article, “Who Did Cuba’s Ladies in White Speak For?” The title, I now see, ought to have been “Who Profits from the Cuba Blockade?”, for, that is what the issue is ultimately about: who stands to benefit from the petition made by the Ladies in White?
Several readers have pointed out something significant to me: the Ladies in White, or, more specifically, Berta Soler, should not feel entitled to speak on behalf of anyone except themselves.
Likewise, I never speak on anyone’s behalf save my own. But I am not an influential or well-known public figure, as the Ladies in White are. Nothing I can say will have the repercussions or the significance that any declaration or action by the Ladies could have.
In any event, what’s important is that they, or Berta Soler in this case, have exercised their right to free speech. This is something I stated in my previous article and say again now. Ideally, the Ladies in White would be able to exercise this right in the Cuban media, so that Cubans could freely decide whether or not they identify with their opinions.
One thing many of my readers agree on is that the US blockade is not truly to blame for Cuba’s situation, and that lifting it would not bring significant changes to the country.
These readers tend to call it the “embargo”. My apologies, but I’ve been hearing and reading the term “blockade” in our news and our press for far too long to suddenly start saying “embargo” now. It’s difficult. But that’s not the point, the point is determining what repercussions it has on our daily lives.
I confess I am unsure as to what the scope of its consequences is. On the one hand, it is obviously doing something, as successive US administrations have insisted on maintaining it, and the Ladies in White have requested a continuation of these economic pressures on the island.
On the other hand, I sometimes ask myself: “how many of our problems are actually caused by the blockade?” History has shown that the Ten Million Ton Harvest (a failed undertaking), the massive failed Havana periphery coffee plantations, the Revolutionary Offensive (which among other things closed all small private businesses), were mistakes plain and simple, and costly ones at that. How did the blockade have to do with these, if anything?
It’s hard to determine, with any degree of exactitude, to what extent the blockade, sorry, the embargo…heck, the blockade, affects the lives of the Cuban people. What I do know is that, while it is still around, this blockade, or embargo, or whatever you want to call it, will continue to be guilty of all our problems, of everything that doesn’t quite work, of all the mistakes made by our leaders.
So, I again ask myself: who stands to benefit from the blockade? Who continue to use it as a pretext for the failure of the economic model they now seek to modernize?
Who will continue to repress and discredit those who oppose the government, claiming that they are at the service of a foreign power? Who truly profits from the petition made by the Ladies in White?