Cuba’s Greatest Problem
May 30, 2016
HAVANA TIMES — A person I hold in high regard recently expressed their
opinion which, at the time, I thought was a little bit too radical:
“Cuba’s main problem is the Wet foot/ Dry foot Policy. Because of it, we
Cubans feel like we aren’t responsible for changing for what negatively
affects us in our own country. We resolve everything by jumping into the
After reading the “The Ordeal of a Cuban Rafter” interview written by
Ivette de las Mercedes and the comments made by readers, I felt for the
first time that my friend’s opinion was sadly true.
Jorge Mendoza Correa’s story shook me to the point that I found myself
wondering how I could help him and other survivors of this horrible
experience. I don’t believe it’s impossible to organize a collection,
even amongst HT writers or readers, even though we’re just ordinary
Cubans and each and every one of us only gives what we can.
However, the most serious problem we Cubans have is the misleading
temptation to believe that leaving is the only way to change our lives.
And it’s becoming more and more disheartening as columnists (all Cuban)
attack each other in such a way that they lose sight of the real cause,
like always happens with politics.
A few days ago, I saw an excellent film which summarized this with
ruthless accuracy. “The Truth” is told by the actress who interprets
Mary Mapes, a US TV reporter whose prestigious career fell apart after
she questioned the then president George W. Bush’s military record.
“Our story was about whether Bush fulfilled his service. Nobody wants to
talk about that. They want to talk about fonts and forgeries. Because
that’s what people do when they don’t like a story. They point and
shout, question your political beliefs, your objectivity, and hell, even
your basic humanity. And they hope to god the truth gets lost in the
fray. And by the time they’ve actually finished, after kicking about and
shouting as loud as possible, we can’t even remember what the starting
If there has been mass emigration in Cuba since 1959 because of
“economic issues”, it’s surely an irrefutable sign of our government’s
misguided strategy. Come on, who else are we going to blame? If a
company goes bankrupt, its director will be the first one to be
interrogated; whether he/she was directly responsible or just didn’t
foresee the irregularities which led to the company’s downfall because
he/she was responsible for supervising the company’s business activities.
I’ve never understood why, in government terms, analysis can be
permeated with relativities, ideologies and even sentiments. It’s a
mathematical equation. And supposing that the government’s actions were
well-intentioned, because they are human after all, that doesn’t
exonerate them in an administrative and political sense because the
presidency of a country involves great privileges as well as duties. You
can’t enjoy some of them and shirk your duty on others.
Now we’ve finally recognized that emigration wasn’t and will never be
the solution to the Cuban problem as has been proven by the undisputed
fact that it hasn’t stopped.
When I read the news about the migration crisis caused by the recent
waves of Cuban emigrants in Central America, when I see their photos on
posters asking for help, I wonder how they’ve managed to put themselves
in such an orphan state. Also, when I hear stories like that of Jorge
If a child is born and grows up in a house they are entitled to, if
he/she leaves that house to not face up to arbitrary paternal authority,
if he/she puts himself/herself in the position of a beggar asking to be
let in a house that isn’t his/hers, the first ones to blame for the
hardship are his/her parents who have the legal responsibility to ensure
that the child has the necessary conditions for their health and
In the case that the neighbor takes the person in, whether out of pity
or because they want to exploit their situation, does that absolve
his/her parents’ negligence? I can’t imagine a judge delivering a
sentence to a neighbor for having taking someone else’s child in and
pardoning the child’s biological parents.
Those immediately responsible in second place for the Cuban problem are
us Cubans for being prepared to leave our native island and to convert
ourselves into global outcasts. How have we got to the point where we no
longer feel like our country isn’t our homeland, how our house isn’t and
will never be home? Traveling and emigrating are our natural rights.
However, the dangers that Cubans face and the failure of many shockingly
reveals, and for too long already, that this hemorrhage isn’t freedom
but an illness.
I disagree with the interviewee when he says that he’d never had
political problems before. How can it be that, a country’s population
thinks traveling in rustic and unsafe boats in the 21st century is a
viable option, fleeing like criminals, is not a political problem?
The interviewee, who is a teacher, may have seen, even in our own media,
how teachers in other countries hold strikes in order to demand their
rights. In Cuba, a similar initiative can cost you your job (like it did
in the case of medical doctor Jeovany Jimenez Vega), interrupt your
studies in a specialist area, six years of unsuccessful legal
complaints, lead you to write a blog and carry out a public hunger
strike in order to recover what you lost without a pay rise.
Changes in doctor salaries, which in their own words are still not
enough, were made much later.
But let us analyze the situation a bit better: a country in economic
crisis, with “symbolic” salaries which pushes its citizens to commit
crimes by stealing state resources, a country with an aging population
and a long history of exile, will obviously have problems with its
social organization, and therefore, politics. And if somebody reacts,
which is natural, one person shouldn’t be blamed. Those responsible for
this organization should be blamed. Reacting to a malfunction doesn’t
prove that we’re to be blamed for the situation, but are victims of it.
We shouldn’t feel stigmatized for wanting to protest against what
directly affects us.
We don’t get to decide prices, nor salaries, nor the fact that you can’t
denounce shortfalls in the government, and now we can’t even discuss it
according to “laws” recently announced in the official press.
Yes, it’s definitely questionable whether the US maintains a law which
turns the “imperial enemy” into the North Star encouraging the dreams of
many desperate people. However, what can be said of a government who
allows its citizens, like it did back in ‘94, to throw themselves into
the sea in the same primitive conditions of uncertainty which makes such
an attempt nothing but suicide.
It’s well known that during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, it was ordered
that boats sent to collect family members were instead filled with
strangers, including ex-prisoners and schizophrenics. These boats were
put in danger because of this and there are testimonies from those who
were part of the Mariel boatlift who tell us how they saw a whole crew
sink, not only because the boats were overcrowded but because the Cuban
government gave the order to depart once weather conditions started to
But what does that matter; the facts don’t matter when we can be
distracted with finger pointing and the villification of those writing.
And the worst thing is, even those who are supposedly concerned about
the island’s future get involved in this neverending fistfight
(including the eternal socialism-capitalism dichotomy), while our fellow
citizens continue to die at sea. Statistics are not published and maybe
not even archived. The only ones to suffer this pain and loss are Cuban
Source: Cuba’s Greatest Problem – Havana Times.org –