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.
There is a famous phrase here: Cubans either don’t make it or exceed; That happens at all levels, even at the most unexpected times and places.
Without a doubt, the biggest news event of 2016 in Cuba, was the death of Fidel Castro. I remember that around midnight on November 25th, I was walking with some friends of mine. We were strolling along Miramar’s 5th Avenue when some young kids, almost teenagers, passed us by.
As we’re so used to having just one media outlet in Cuba which only mentions President Correa in Ecuador, very few Cubans know that there is a coalition of 24 left-wing and center parties and groups, called the National Agreement for Change, which is made up of the Democratic Left Party, the indigenous Pachakutik movement and the Popular Unity Party, among others, which are taking part in the election campaign leading up to the presidential elections which will take place on Sunday February 19.
This year has begun with gusts of wind and storm clouds, as if nature were echoing the political events that we’re witnessing. “Thank God” proclaim the signs that have been celebrating the “Times of Victories” since months before the election of Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.
Repealing the US “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy will reduce the Cuban exodus, but it won’t eliminate it because the root cause of this problem continues to prevail: the centralized and authoritarian State regime which directly pays workers, imposed and maintained by those in power in Cuba, in the name of an nonexistent Socialism.
It has been very rare for any leader in any country in the world to be in power for such a long period of time, like Raul Castro has had, to try and convert their projects into reality. It’s been over a decade if we add the two years of his interim government (2006-2008); and we still haven’t even seen the tip of the “progress iceberg” in the never-ending ocean of Cuban poverty.
So we see that the old work style has been taken up again in the new year, the heir of the Stalinist era in Soviet Russia, characterized by “leadership” visits to workplaces, housing estates and social works under construction, etc., to make sure that plans drawn up by those at the top are being met and to make clear that “the Revolution’s work is there to benefit the people.”
When I arrived on the island, back in 1990, one of the things that made me fall in love with the Cuban people was their never-ending source of solidarity, firstly with their families and then towards their friends, neighbors and even strangers in need.