Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

January 21, 1999, Cuba Free Press.


HAVANA - The first anniversary of the Pope's visit to Cuba finds the country in a cloud of dust that has been raised by the government reaction to the U.S. proposal to ease the embargo.

The neighbor to the north presented a package of measures to make the embargo - which means "blockade" in Cuba's official tongue - more flexible. The Cuban government reacted as if it had been stung by a hornet, rejecting the package as "a new imperialist maneuver to destabilize Cuba." And with the passage of days, the tremendous winds have been augmented rather than diminished.

What really happened after the words from both governments are set aside? And what might the Cuban people think - and not be allowed to say?

No matter how one looks at the proposal from the north, it is evident that it would open a small breach, although controlled, in the supposed hermetic surface of the embargo. Through this crack, it is proposed to facilitate the entry to the island of resources, medicines, foods and money, coming not only from the U.S. government but from U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The package would loosen the belt on communications through aviation, telephone and postal services. It would increase the exchange of radio and television programs. And all of this would be destined - and this is the stinger of the hymenoptera, i.e., the hornet and its relatives - for Cuba's nascent civil society.

Said in another manner, the package was destined to strengthen this society to the end of continuing to smooth the road in a pacific way that leads in a pacific way toward democracy. In sum, there is flexibility and there is an intent to "subvert."

The Cuban people, despite having nothing more to go on than the version discussed by the president of the National Assembly, Richard Alarcón, and the subsequent reactions dusted up by the state communication monopolies, nevertheless comprehend what the dust is intended to hide. Over the years, the Cuban people have become somewhat less naïve. They recognize, for example, that the government controls the blinkers that it wears and that, on the other hand, that the "North Americans" don't tell everything.

And the Cuban people think, "As always, we are caught in the middle and nobody asks us what we think."

The Cuban people catch the idea that they are headed into somebody's trap. They know that the proposals of the "gringos" are neither blackmail nor bribe nor meanness. And that the Cuban government's response has nothing to do with dignity, decorum or historical will. It's all part of the same war that, despite the papal visit last year, continues unchanged. It's a war that - and this is confidential - the ordinary people do not recognize as theirs, from this side of the Havana sea wall. I prefer that instead of bombs, the "enemy" launch the kinds of "weapons" that are proposed from the north. And some sectors of the civil society might even welcome such missiles.

If someone wishes to check this out, they should not ask the National Association of Small-Scale Farmers (ANAP) nor the secretary general of the Workers Center of Cuba (CTC) nor the minister of health. Rather, ask the most humble farm worker. Ask the retired person or the worker who only has access to the national currency. Or ask the family doctor. But before you ask, determine whether they are afraid to speak.

If this is done, it will be possible to confirm that the people are tired. The people may only see the dirty dust that has been raised by this new turmoil. They will note how this dust falls on the memories of the white habit the pope wore, and their only wish is to shake off that dust.

Germán Castro.

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