“El periódico ha de estar siempre como los correos antiguos, con el caballo enjaezado, la fusta en la mano y la espuela en el tacón.  Debe desobedecer los apetitos del bien personal y atender imparcialmente al bien público”.
José Martí

Cuba Between Crisis and Opportunities

Aeropuerto José Martí, niña cubana es espera de salida de Cuba. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Obama bid farewell to Cuba by taking away its citizens’ special immigration benefits which have lasted for half a century. Trump I’m sure will uphold this measure, given the fact that he has always revealed himself to be an enemy of uncontrolled immigration and that the Cuban migration flow has already become “uncontrollable”.

The end of open immigration to the US has had a major impact on the lives of many Cubans, whether it’s because they are now stuck en route or because they have disrupted their lives in Cuba so they could emigrate and make their dreams of prosperity come true by chasing after the “American dream”.

For those potential emigres, Obama’s farewell gift tastes like rotten fruit. However, the Castro government takes this as a partial victory in response to its demands that the Cuban Adjustment Act be revoked, in spite of the fact that the apple they have been “given” may well be poisoned.

La emigración de jóvenes afecta a Cuba porque envejece la sociedad, reduce la población, restringe el aporte a la seguridad social y se pierden personas con alto nivel de formación. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Emigration of Cuba’s youth affects the country because it ages society, reduces the population, limits their contribution to social security and people with a high level of training are lost. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

If the new President maintains this policy, the reality of Cuba and that of the Cuban people will drastically change. It might be the greatest social, economic and political change, the greatest challenge the country has faced since the economic crisis in the 1990s.

Barack Obama has just closed a pressure valve through which the unhappiest Cubans could escape. It’s true that the majority of those who left during Mariel (1980) or the Rafters’ Crisis (1994) were economic migrants but without this “way out”, their discontentment would have become “politicized”.

The “American dream” has just become a “nightmare”, just like the one millions of Latin Americans without papers experience. Some Cuban intellectuals are asking for Cuba to become “a normal country”, as this is the usual thing in our region.

Wise people say that you should be careful what you ask for in life because you might just get it, the same thing goes for when you ask for something from the USA. Anyway, it’s not worth sulking over; the measure has been taken for better or worse, and isn’t in the Cuban people’s hands.

Now it’s a question of learning to live with this, just like Cubans have had to learn to live with the embargo, with the few natural resources this country has and with all of the other things that aren’t within our control, supporting ourselves by using what we can control.

Varios gobiernos de Centro y Sudamérica habían pedido a EEUU que terminara con los privilegios migratorios de los cubanos para evitar nuevas crisis en sus territorios. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Several governments in Central and South America have asked the US to end Cubans’ immigration privileges so as to prevent new crises in their countries. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Cubans will have to work as hard as other immigrants and build their “dream” of prosperity without leaving the Malecon, their friends and family. They’ll have to dream about getting a little old Polish car instead of a Ford. Not so grand material dreams but without the heartbreak of leaving.

I have some friends who are a couple and self-employed, who used to only work 4 hours a day in Cuba because that was enough for them to get by. Now they tell me that in the US they work so much that “we don’t even have time to make love, weeks go by without us even realizing it,” they tell me half-jokingly.

Obama has just covered all of Cuba’s escape routes, water will begin to build up and create pressure, we can continue to keep the country’s flood gates closed until they bust or we can open them, using their potential to produce electric energy or channel it so it can be used for irrigation.

How many dreams could come true if Cubans had to stay here in Cuba but work with the same determination of an immigrant and if the State facilitated the process of developing Cuban creativity, which is being stymied today by irrational and unnecessary resolutions and laws just like the bureaucracy that creates them.

If the valve is now closed, it’s time to take the lid off of the pressure cooker and let the ajiaco breathe, so that hope can be reborn and the Cuban people can contribute their talents to the country, for their own wellbeing and for that of their fellow countrymen. It’s within the sum of all these dreams that the Cuban dream of prosperity could be found.

La migración desde Cuba no se detendrá pero sin lugar a dudas se reducirá sustancialmente, con sus aspectos positivos y también con aspectos negativos. Foto: Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Cuban immigration will not end but it will undoubtedly be significantly reduced, with all of the positive and negative consequences this implies. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Translation: Havana Times

About Fernando Ravsberg

Nacido en Uruguay, corresponsal de Público en Cuba y profesor del post grado de “Información internacional y países del Sur” de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Fue periodista de BBC Mundo, Telemundo de EEUU, Radio Nacional de Suecia y TV Azteca de México. Autor de 3 libros, El Rompecabezas Cubano, Reportajes de Guerra y Retratos.


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