Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cuba’s problem is within Cuba

"Cuba's problem is within Cuba" / 14ymedio
Posted on July 9, 2014

Speaking at the Atlantic Forum, Yoani Sánchez tells Mario Vargas Llosa
that help is needed to move the center of the discussion to the island.

14ymedio, Madrid, 8 July 2014 — "Cuba's problem is within Cuba. The
locus of the discussion needs to be moved to the island." This was the
powerful message from Yoani Sanchez, 14ymedio director, to Nobel prize
winning writer Mario Vargas Llosa at the VII Atlantic Forum, at the Casa
de América in Madrid, Spain. Vargas Llosa had asked Sánchez how the
Cuban opposition could be aided from the outside, whether there might be
some common themes to emphasize, such as the embargo. "The embargo,
tourism…all of that is just transferring the problem outside. To the
White House, to the airports…" said the journalist and blogger,
stressing that the way to push for a transition in Cuba from outside the
island is not to turn attention elsewhere.

This exchange took place during the event organized by the International
Foundation for Liberty, whose theme this year is the economic and
institutional consolidation of Ibero-America. Vargas Llosa, foundation
president, started off the proceedings by asking Yoani Sánchez about the
actual scope of the so-called "Raulist" [for Raúl Castro] reforms on the
island. The journalist qualified them as "small transformations caused
by necessity and not by political will", meaning that they do not
correspond to the real changes that the country needs.

However, there are differences between Raúl and his brother, Fidel
Castro. "The repression hasn't ceased," Sánchez said. "It's just that
the current version of it is more continuous, it's in every minute, it
leaves no evidence so the victims can defend themselves. Fidel was more
focused on the media."

Vargas Llosa also inquired about the birth of 14ymedio, remarking that,
because of the many barriers it might face in Cuba, he never thought it
would actually be created and maintained. "It's a digital project
because the printing houses in Cuba are under more surveillance than the
barracks," Sánchez explained, leading to a discussion of 14ymedio's
objectives. "Who is our readership? I think of people like my mother
who, when I speak to her of injustice and human rights I don't get her
attention, but when I point out that this year she'll have to double her
spending to just maintain her current level of purchasing power, she is
interested and exclaims, 'this needs to change'."

Sánchez spoke of the diversity of opposition movements on the island,
although she emphasized that their principal limitation continues to be
the state's communication media monopoly. "In Cuba there is a great
underground market for information," she said, adding that technology is
key to overcoming this barrier.

The Forum also included the writers Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Álvaro
Vargas Llosa y Carlos Alberto Montaner, who presented their latest book,
"Últimas noticias del nuevo idiota iberoamericano (Ed. Planeta)" [Latest
News from the New Ibero-American Idiot, (Planet Publishers)]. The three
authors — Colombian, Peruvian and Cuban, respectively — returned to
analyzing the changes that have occurred in various Latin American
countries and Spain, almost 20 years after the publication of their
"Manual del perfecto idiota latinoamericano" [Guide to the Perfect Latin
American Idiot].

Carlos Alberto Montaner pointed out that "the idiot is now also part of
political life in Spain" and that the stability of Spain's democracy is
endangered by the presence of radical groups. "If that strange popular
front were to become institutionalized and politically powerful, the
country would head towards economic folly and alienate investors", he added.

Nine Cuban activists travelled from the island to attend the Forum.
However, Venezuelan opposition member María Corina Machado was unable to
attend, having been barred from travelling outside the country because
of her alleged implication in a plot to destabilize the government of
Nicolás Maduro.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: "Cuba's problem is within Cuba" / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -

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