Saturday, April 20, 2013

Changes In Cuba, I'll Believe It When I See It

Changes In Cuba, I'll Believe It When I See It / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on April 19, 2013

Many of you remember what happened in our country in the summer of
1989*. I'm referring to those trials that popular wits baptized, for the
range of events and actors, "Tropicana show under the stars, first and
second parts." During those dark and sordid events, in certain circles
of power a refrain that marked my life began to be heard: "Don't believe
anything you hear; only believe half of what you see."

It is precisely because of this that today, at a distance of almost
three years (since I left the island) and more than 90 miles, I can't
accept the different discourses coming from the island that describe an
actuality that speaks much and says little.

Can we attest that the modifications in the travel and immigration law
eased the entry to and exit from the country for Cuban citizens? Some
assert that yes, they did; but just a few days ago the Cuban counsel in
Moscow, under orders from Havana, refused permission for a gentleman in
his 70s who, feeling destroyed, told me in an email, "… They continue to
prevent my entering my beautiful island, I continue to be prevented from
hugging my three children and meeting my three grandchildren who were
born during the seven years they've prohibited my visiting Cuba."

How, then, can we believe in the ends? It's very true, the government of
the island needs a change, but that doesn't mean that it's choking or
dying; rather it is renewed, much to our regret. The abuse and threats
are not remotely proof of their losing power.

Judges, prosecutors and lawyers in the exercise of their profession,
assure that popular violence increases, irregular groups begin to take
to the streets with relative impunity, and the issue of corruption
exceeded the limits of unemployment. But of course, due to the divine
lineage of unnamed persons involved in crimes of embezzlement, the
Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, which has the institutional
mission of protecting the political and legal order of the State and
Society, was ordered to dismiss more than three thousand cases. A
disturbing figure.

The country doesn't appear to be doing well and there are no visible
signs we can take as economically favorable. However some of my friends
who are officials, but not passionate, who hold important positions in
the central administration of the State, assure me that even though
Cuba's industries have no longer carry any weight, the economy is
recovering and predictions for tourism are on the rise.

It's difficult, from the United States, to understand how so many
artists, scientists, farmers, housewives and workers whose only purpose
in life is to survive day by day, and without belonging to either side,
whether it be the Montagues or Capulets, can visualize a slight personal
growth, and a subtle awakening of respect for individual liberty.

Right now, it seems like an hallucination to me; I'm not interested in
become an echo of the deluded or frustrated, of the optimistic or
pessimistic, the subjected or the believers. There are certain events
that manage to change our course and, as my grandmother used to say, on
the bus of life we are all passengers, even the driver.

I'm skeptical, unfortunately distance distorts events. Like St. Thomas,
seeing is believing. And however things are going, I want to witness it
in the first person singular, then I will ask for the absurd but
established permission and tell you about it.

*Translator's note: Highly decorated General Arnaldo Ochoa and others
were tried and convicted of drug trafficking and executed. See "The day
my mother lost her faith in the Cuban Revolution" by Yoani Sanchez, for
another perspective.

19 April 2013

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