Friday, February 19, 2016

A Visit More Symbolic Than Political

A Visit More Symbolic Than Political / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
Posted on February 18, 2016

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 18 February 2016 — The last time
a United States president visited Cuba Havana's Capitol Building had not
yet opened, baseball's star pitcher The Black Diamond died, and my
grandmother was a little girl with messy hair and a penetrating gaze.
There is no one left who remembers this moment who can tell us about it
first hand, so Barack Obama's arrival on the island will be a new
experience for all Cubans.

How will people react? With joy and relief. Although there is little the
president of another country can do to change a nation where we citizens
have allowed a dictatorship, his visit will have a strong symbolic
impact. No one can deny that the resident of the White House will be
more appealing and popular among Cubans than the old and uncharismatic
general who inherited power through his bloodline.

When the presidential plane touches down on the island, the discourse of
the barricade, so commonly called on by the Cuban government for over
half a century, will suffer an irreversible blow. It will not be the
same as seeing Raul Castro and Barack Obama shaking hands in Panama to
see them to meet on the territory that until recently was full of
official billboards against "the empire" with mocking caricatures of
Uncle Sam.

The Communist Party press will have to jump through hoops to explain to
us the official welcome of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of
the "enemy country." The most recalcitrant Party militants will feel
betrayed and it will be clear to all that, behind the supposed ideology,
there is only a determination to cling to power through the typical
strategies of political chameleons.

In the streets, people will experience the enthusiasm of the unexpected
event. For black and mixed-race Cubans, the message is clear and direct
in a country where a white gerontocracy controls power. Those who have a
T-shirt or sign with Obama's face will flaunt it on those days, taking
advantage of official persuasiveness. Fidel Castro will die a little
more in his guarded Havana refuge.

"President" brand beer will run out in the cafés, where loud calls to
"give me two more Obamas" will be heard, and there is no doubt that the
civil registries that week will record several newborns with names like
Obamita de la Caridad Perez or Yurislandi Obama. Pepito, the little boy
who stars in our popular humor, will release a couple of jokes for the
occasion, and tchotchkes sellers will offer items with the lawyer's
profile and the five letters of his name.

One thing is clear, however, beyond the trinkets of enthusiasm, the
leader of the United States cannot change Cuba and it is better if he
doesn't try, because this national mess is our responsibility. His trip,
however, will have a lasting effect and he should take advantage of the
opportunity to send a loud and clear message in front of the microphones.

His words should be directed to those young people who right now are
assembling a raft, fueled by their despair they carry within. He needs
to let them know that the material and moral misery that surrounds them
is not the responsibility of the White House. The best way in which
Obama can transcend Cuba's history is by making it clear that the
perpetrators of the drama we are living are here, in the Plaza of the
Revolution in Havana.

Source: A Visit More Symbolic Than Political / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez |
Translating Cuba -

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