Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

December 2016
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Waiting for help

Why didn’t they write to the General-President? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, 12 December 2016 — In a curious coincidence with
the fifth meeting, held last week in Havana, of the Bilateral Commission
in charge of the dialogue process between the United States and Cuba,
about one hundred Cuban “entrepreneurs” have just addressed a letter to
Donald Trump, the newly elected President of that country to the north,
whose term will begin on January 20, 2017, asking the controversial
magnate for continuity of the policy of rapprochement and dialogue with
Cuba, initiated two years ago by the outgoing president, Barack Obama,
as well as the lifting of the .

The note, promoted by the company Cuba Educational and the group
Engage Cuba, is not relevant in itself. A group of Cuban small business
owners – united under the officially vilified term of “entrepreneurs” –
is appealing to the solidarity and understanding of a great “successful
entrepreneur” so that, in his new role of maximum political leader of
his country, he might favor the “economic commitment among nations” for
the mutual benefit of both sides, a disguised political plea, nothing
short of a sly complicit wink among “colleagues.”

Of course, it is praiseworthy that such an incipient and fragile sector
has taken the (spontaneous and autonomous?) initiative to come out in
favor of the advances of the slimmest of conquered spaces. In fact, in
their letter, the Cuban entrepreneurs equally enthusiastically defend
the rights of US businessmen to trade with and invest in Cuba as if the
Americans, and not the Cubans, were the ones lacking in democratic
institutions and laws. Clearly, this is a short letter, but one that
makes us want to read it over numerous times.

The concerns of the Cuban embryonic private sector is understandable,
taking into account Trump’s well-known statements about his intentions
to reverse the process of “rapprochement” if the Cuban side does not
show strides in political and religious freedoms, something that would
directly affect the influx of American tourists that has been taking
place since the re-establishment of relations between both governments,
which has clearly favored private lodging, and transportation

However, the aforesaid letter is vague on essential matters, and it
stands out for its baffling omissions, details that deserve particular
attention. The first blunder is its origin, and lies in the improper
selection of the recipient on the part of the Cuban proto-entrepreneurs:
no less than a president of a foreign country that even today, despite
the current policy of détente, is still demonized by the Castro regime’s
monopoly of the press as the cause of all the past and future national

This simple fact not only calls into question the much-vaunted national
sovereignty – by placing the solution of matters that are the
responsibility of the internal economic policy in the hands of a foreign
and intrinsically hostile government – but suppresses the Cuban regime’s
responsibility for the constraints (if not the smothering) imposed on
the private sector, be it the high tax burden, the absence of a supply
wholesale market, the punishment for the “accumulation of wealth” or the
numerous absurd and unjustified bans that prevent greater prosperity and
the development of private businesses.

Likewise, measures which favored the private sector significantly,
dictated by President Barack Obama, were hindered by the Cuban
government itself from being effective.

None of the official restrictions that the “businessmen” ask to quell in
Cuba relate to the embargo, nor do they depend absolutely on the
political will of the American government.

In addition to this, the signers of the letter belong to a social sector
which tends to express an open rejection of political issues and, on the
other hand, voluntarily joined the only union in the world that embodies
the interests of the most powerful employer represented by the
Government-State-Party, described by them in this letter as the promoter
of the reform that allowed the existence of private businesses. To whom,
then, could they legitimately make demands other than to this despicable
monster, who is both benefactor and exploiting boss?

Therefore, the recipient of the entrepreneurs’ letter should have been
the General-President, Raúl Castro, and not the President elected by
Americans last November.

Another noteworthy detail is the select club of signers to the letter,
mostly entrepreneurs who classify as “successful” within Cuban
standards. The problem is not one of phobia against economic success,
but quite the contrary. There is nothing we need more in this ruined
hacienda than a flood of successful entrepreneurs and autonomous sectors
willing to defend their own interests

But it doesn’t seem very honest to claim particular measures on behalf
of the entire Cuban people and – even more unseemly – on behalf of the
American people, especially when the shocking absence of the more modest
signers is evident, who are, paradoxically the most numerous in that
economic sector, whom the letter writers estimate at half a million
individuals. Weren’t there humble cart vendors, bicycle-taxi operators,
DVD vendors, scissors grinders or even retired master dishwashers ready
to subscribe to such a remarkable epistle? Were they even informed?

Obviously, the acute social differences of today’s Cuba continue to set
the tone, denying the old egalitarian speech that continues to be
repeated from the power base. So it happens that, among the private
businesses of the idyllic socialist society, there are some that are
more equal than others. And, as is often the case, the least equal speak
on behalf of the whole.

In the end, in a quasi-foolish brushstroke, the signers make an evident
effort to be politically correct in the eyes of the Castro regime, thus
remaining halfway between the legitimate defense of their own interests
and the ideological commitment demanded by the olive green power
authority in return for the corseted ease they enjoy.

Too many doubts in this epistolary chapter suggest the existence of
certain powerful hidden hands that, of course, did not sign the letter,
including promoters abroad. When it comes to Cuban issues it’s well
known that conspiracies are never lacking. But let’s not be suspicious,
after all, if our most successful entrepreneurs choose Trump to
communicate with, it must be because they think that matters are better
handled by entrepreneurs.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Why didn’t they write to the General-President? / Cubanet,
Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba –

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