North Americans Eye Opener in Havana / Miriam Celaya
Posted on December 18, 2013
HAVANA, Cuba, December, www.cubanet.org – During the days when the
cruise ship Semester at Sea was anchored on Cuban territory, over 600
visitors, including students and teachers -mostly Americans– carried out
a tight schedule of "meetings" with Cuban university students and toured
"sites of historical and cultural interest".
The December 11th edition of Granma published some of the opinions of
the young northerners during "a brief meeting with reporters": "I had
never been so well received by the population as we were here,"
commented a student from the University of Nebraska, while another one
from the University of Virginia said that "Cubans are very welcoming".
But according to some in Havana who tried to contact the visitors, there
was a strong undercover operation, with agents dressed as fruit vendors,
pedicab drivers and even "pompously attired mulatto women" -those who
dress in costumes around Old Havana to entertain tourists- monitored the
area the whole time the cruise ship was anchored at port.
Other undercover individuals were posing simply as regular Cubans.
However, Cubans' sense of smell was not fooled when it came to
identifying members of the pack of hounds.
Cubans who were interviewed by the visitors in each of the official
program activities were selected among the most loyal communist
militants, while Castro journalists covered the visit with their usual
triumphalism, as if this were about another one of Castro's achievement.
But despite the careful planning of the visit's programming by the Cuban
authorities in the interests of the government's political promotional
agenda, and despite the students' lack of contact with the population or
with the diverse independent civil society, a group of them, despite
controls of the political police, attended songwriter Boris Larramendi's
concert offered at the home of Antonio Rodiles (Estado de Sats), where
they held a live dialogue with those in attendance, according to
testimony of blogger Walfrido López, who was later detained at a police
station after being violently arrested along with Rodiles and other
activists and dissidents.
These students heard first-hand testimonials from those who are vying
for a new Cuba, and they learned of repression and terror. They were
also witnesses of the repudiation rally organized outside the home of
Rodiles, in which the authorities had no qualms about using elementary
school children, high school teens, and musicians who are eager to keep
their perks and travel privileges, as in the case of Arnaldo y su
Talisman. Arnaldo may need a huge talisman someday to explain his
criminal complicity with those who repress other Cubans.
There may probably be other trips and exchanges with these and other
American students. Many of them reported the lack of information they
have about the Cuban reality and about the true nature of the
dictatorship. Hopefully these visits, laden with messages to the free
world will recur. Totalitarian regimes don't have antidotes against
openness, and the satrapy will definitely not be able to keep hidden any
longer the slavery and repression it has imposed upon Cubans for 55 years.
Translated by Norma Whiting
From Cubanet, 15 December 2013
Source: "North Americans Eye Opener in Havana / Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba" -