Ernesto Morales Licea, Translator: Unstated
If somehow I managed the unthinkable — five minutes with president
Barack Obama — I think I would use the time to convey a clear message:
"Do not veto the provision that restricts travel and remittances to
Cuba, Mr. President."
I don't know if I would say to him what I have to my friends and family
in Cuba, and which in my year in the United States I've never stopped
repeating, with impertinent insistence, that to alienate Cubans on and
off the island from each other is more than an injustice, it is a
But I would advise the President not to veto, in the case of Cuba, the
budget bill that will be approved or rejected by Congress on the 16th,
where the Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart cleverly slipped
in a return to the Cuban travel and remittances policies from the time
of George W. Bush.
Why? Because just as every people has the leader it deserves, each
sector of a democracy has the measures it deserves, promulgated by the
legislators it elects and deserves.
And while Obama's veto would avoid the catastrophe of severing the ties
between exiles and Cuba's nascent civil society, and would prevent more
than a little suffering among mothers who would not be able to see their
children more than once every three years, I don't believe it should be
Obama, an American born in Hawaii, who should protect us from whomever
we Cubans ourselves elect, or allow others to elect, and who eventually
adopt laws against us.
Only those who cannot exercise their right to vote because they do not
possess citizenship in this country are excluded (temporarily) from the
blame. The rest of those in South Florida have signed on so that those
with positions like those of Mario Diaz Balart seem representative of
this community, and those who prefer to go shopping on election day will
receive what they appear to have asked for, whether or not they
exercised their rights.
The truly unfortunate are the almost two million Cubans living in the
United States today, and the 1.2 million living in South Florida, an
ever smaller percentage of whom sustain these alienating postures and
restrictions that in more than half a century have not hurt so much as a
hair on the head of the Castro brothers.
But it so happens that the true majority now has its hands tied because
of one of two reasons: either legal impossibility or apathy toward the
exercise of its rights, incorrigibly inherited from its days on an
Island where the word "elections" has no mental resonance.
So who is left? Those who because of stubbornness, ignorance, lack of
re-programming or opportunism insist on supporting a clearly failed
policy, based more on the absence of ideas than on the dialectic of
thought and societies.
That explains why it is not imperative to have an intelligent and bold
platform in the south of Florida in order to have a rising political
career; if you repeat the same chants, the same anti-Castro formulas,
the same methods that have proved ineffective decade after decade,
you're more than halfway along the path to success.
It doesn't matter that every day the facts prove that without the people
who travel to the Island the cellphones don't bring themselves and, in
consequence, the images of repression cannot be shown to the world. It
doesn't matter that those like me who are newcomers shout ourselves
hoarse saying that every Cuban who receives financial support outside
the State is a much more independent and honest citizen than those who
depend on the government to fill their stomachs. It's not important to
remember the basis on which this great country is founded: respect for
diversity and individual decisions.
Therefore I, who advocate for all those who want to visit their family
and friends being able to do so whenever they and their wallets decide
(not the amendment of some congressman born in Fort Lauderdale, lucky
for him), would applaud the president's veto in the name of the
consequences it would avoid, but if the man elected to decide the fate
of this nation asked my humble opinion, I would repeat the same
sentence: "Don't veto the clause that restricts travel and remittances
As long as there is no accountability and good sense on the part of
Cubans in the exercise of their rights; as long as there is no awareness
of what it means to elect those who promote policies respectable in
their quest for freedom but that should be dismissed as outdated, there
will be draconian laws governing the destiny of this community, and we
say: welcome to the past.
I don't believe it should be the president of the United States who,
like a wise adult, makes the right decision in the name of the children.
Rights come with responsibility, they are not received as an indulgence.
(Originally in Martí Noticias)
December 14 2011