We collectively exhale one of many held breaths as President Obama is living up to another part of the campaign promises. This time it is the one to facilitate a more humanitarian relationship with Cuba. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean that we can all travel unhindered between Cuba and the US, take bike tours of the Vinales valley and do an oooh-aaah tour of Guantanamo’s military prison after some breathtaking peak-bagging in the Sierra Madres? No, think again. Like every valuable coin there are two sides that one must pay attention to. One side with a smiling face on it and the other side with the symbols, numbers and gritty language.
While our currency always states on it’s emblematic seal, E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) it should probably state the converse, Ex Uno Plura (out of one, many), because as we are now a singular nation, we are more so a body of voices that all want to be heard individually and are willing to say what they should not just to be heard. Obama made promises, or declarations, and is now, in the face of quite intense abnormal forces, aiming to be a man of his word. Though these actions rarely affect one person, but instead hordes who all hold different beliefs on the subject matter. For every person who believes that we need to loosen our policy against Cuba, there is another person who will tell you the difference will be made when the other side takes its own actions. Undoubtedly will relief be felt from the reduced travel restrictions and by empowering people to do more for their family that remains in Cuba then they were able to before the changes. However, giving cell phone flexibility and greater mail parcel value will not change Cuba. This is where the flame gets its heat.
Many devotees to the Cuban cause believe that actions such as these only assist in propping up a communist regime that truly keeps its people under its thumb. Until the Cuban government stops its biast and archaic practices, the Cuban people will never be free. Yes, they will have quick and free access to healthcare and everyone will know how to read, but the Cuban people will never be free.It is impossible to feel free when your government can throw you in jail for not-supporting the system. By this I do not mean revolting and being outspoken, but more so as by not following the recommendations to the letter. There is a reason that Cuba boasts that there are nothing but criminals in Cuban prison, becuase from dissenters to artists, anyone expressing counter-communist beliefs are deemed criminals.
There have been numerous cases where charges such as peligrosidad, dangerousness, has been cited as the chief complaint. Peligrosidad is an article defined as behavior or action that contradicts socialist morality, thus the offending individual has a special proclivity to commit crimes. Thus peligrosidad, under the penal code, can be used as a security measure to sentence someone up to four years in prison. In the past peligrosidad has been used to send punk rockers to jail, gays to jail and, now, rock climbers. However, as per the latter, it is not because of the activity itself, it is because the activity puts Cubans in contact with foreigners on a regular basis thus possibly altering the individual’s belief in their government’s system.
So the government has concocted the idea that Cuban climbers are growing marijuana on the mogotes, the picturesque limestone mountains, that have made the Pinar del Rio province famous. The authorities have stated that using heat-sensitive photography they have evidence of such activity, though they have never shown anyone accused or restricted from climbing, or anyone else really, these pertinent photos. Anyone indigenous to the area knows the error in the argument. The only thing that climbing has in common with drugs is that climbing is like a drug. Once you start there is a probability of addiction. Once addicted you just need to climb all of the time.
The problem with climbing often is that it makes you not want to work more and it exposes you to all sorts of worldly people as well as nurturing one’s instinctive analytical nature to question and test boundaries. This does not sit well with the Cuban government. However, returning to the original argument, no matter the energy that the US throws into the Cuban issue, it will not relieve the situation for Cubans, and thus only slightly for Cuban-Americans. The only thing that can be done is to place multi-lateral pressure on the Castro Regime to free it’s people.
Individual voices have been selected throughout time to express the happiness of the Cubans, and I am not here to debunk this. For some Cubans the life they have is all they could ever want. Unfortunately there are many Cubans who want a lot more. Here is a link to a post by a Cuban with a perfect record to wishes to exercise their will to travel, as it has been affirmed by the president of the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba (UNEAC), “that all Cubans can travel, except those who have a debt to the justice system.” This is not the truth and it is unfortunate that misleading information makes its way into the popular media without the appropriate filters or counter-voices.
So, in as much as I applaud our new president for his actions and courage to make the touch decisions that his predecessors could not, I say it will not be enough. It will not be enough until a second revolution originates from the same limestone caves and dark corners that the first revolution did. It will not be enough until Cubans have the right to travel, to earn respectable wages based on their own ambition or to pursue their own dreams as life has bestowed unto them. It will not be enough until the Castro Regime turns the government over to the populous from the greedy hands of a highly-centralized and imbalanced control of power. If the sentiments and declarations of the revolution that just celebrated its 50th anniversary had been universally followed then it might actually have been enough.