Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Epidemic of Editorials

An Epidemic of Editorials / Fernando Damaso
Posted on November 25, 2014

A few days ago the sixth editorial by the New York Times appeared
regarding relations between the Cuban and North American governments. I
believe that never has a country so small and relatively unimportant
merited so much – and such sustained – attention. This smells of strange
interests on both shores.

The editorial writer who undoubtedly pulls down an annual salary in the
five figures, must feel fulfilled. It is said, although I cannot confirm
it, that he was over here seeking official information for his writings.
This would not be surprising.

To cast blame on the embargo for all of Cuba's problems — even for the
exodus of our professionals lured by United States government policies —
lacks originality. It is merely repeating the same worn arguments made
by the Cuban government during almost 56 years in order to sweep under
the rug its own errors, economic failures, misguided adventures,
blunders, etc., which have resulted in the prolonged political, economic
and social crisis that Cuba endures.

It is true that artists, sports figures, doctors and many other
professionals seize the slightest opportunity to leave the country in
search of better living conditions. The majority of our youth do this,
too. But this does not occur only because North American government
policies offers them incentives them do do so.

Rather, it is the terrible situation in their country: no housing,
miserable salaries — even after raises — and, what's worse, no real
opportunities for bettering their circumstances. Every human being has
but one life to live, and it cannot be squandered believing in outdated
lectures about the future — always about the future — when what is truly
important is the present. This is a concept that apparently eludes the
editorial writer.

What's more, if we truly look at reality, only a portion of Cuba's
medical missions abroad are provided freely. The majority are paid-for
by the governments of countries that benefit — a juicy business for the
Cuban authorities, who even describe them as better revenue-generators
than sugar harvests because they provide greater sums of foreign
currency. Between 60 and 75 per cent of the total salary payments made
by these governments for the services of Cuban doctors remain in the
hands of the State, which then apportions the remainder as wages — and
even that comes not entirely as hard cash, but rather as rights for
obtaining housing or consumer goods, at the artificially high prices set
by the State. Something similar happens with artists and sports figures
working abroad.

In any event, although many of these professionals leave the country,
the Cuban authorities never lose. This is because after the emigres
settle in other countries, they begin sending monetary remittances to
their relatives, who then spend them primarily in government
establishments where the prices are set high, the stated objective being
to maximize the collection of foreign currency.

The editorials will continue and the official Cuban press will go on
reprinting them in their entirety, down to the last comma and period. It
would be helpful if those who influence public policy and public
opinion, whether from the inside or the outside, would not allow
themselves to be misled.

Nobody is against change, and even less so if such change were to lead
to the restoration of normal relations between the governments. However,
this cannot be achieved on the backs of the Cuban people without their
true and complete participation.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

21 November 2014

Source: An Epidemic of Editorials / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -

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