The Cuba They Want to Make Fashionable

Sunday, March 13, 2016
By former political prisoner of the Black Spring of 2003, Regis Iglesias, in El Nuevo Herald:

The Cuba they want to make fashionable

Cuba is in fashion. No, not Cuba. Cuba is more than 11 million people without rights that seem forgotten by the free world, by those countries with a long democratic tradition. Even those countries that after many sacrifices and a lot of solidarity and international support were able to obtain for their peoples rights long denied just two decades ago.

Cuba is fashionable to vain politicians who want to take their photo with the last dinosaurs on earth. So they go to Cuba and spend hours listening to the very feverish official version of how due to the fault of a democracy, the largest and oldest in the world, that they the saurian-commanders had to convert a whole nation into a military camp in the middle of the sea, surrounded by barbed wire with nuclear missiles pointed at the heart of America. The same America, as it does with every fashion trend it adopts, now tries to sell to the world its mistaken policy for the longest dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

But in our island nothing has changed, nor will it change on the current path even though from Washington they want to sell us that.

The Cuban regime is only recycling itself. The old oligarchy gives continuity to the new oligarchy that with their offspring, heirs of a military economic junta, the architects of fake change, as Oswaldo Paya of the Christian Liberation Movement denounced before being assassinated.

Cuba is not changing nor will it change with more foreign investment because the capitalists of the world go there to compete amongst themselves, not with Cubans who are not allowed the possibility to promote some important business. They will accept the policy conditions of exploitation and segregation that are imposed by the regime on authorized employees. In any case, Liu Xiaobo remains a hostage of Beijing. Tibet remains occupied by China. Millions of people are starving outside the major economic centers promoted by the Chinese Communist Party. All this despite the Asian nation having most favored nation status in trade with the United States. Is that what they want to sell to us Cubans? No thanks.

Cuba is not changing nor will change because Ozzy Osbourne and the Rolling Stones visit or give a concert. Nor will it change because Rihanna poses naked in a room with the aesthetics of a 1950s brothel. Beyonce, smoking habanos in the streets of Vedado, or Marc Antonty recreating a party in a fictional Old Havana will not bring change. The New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves or the Tampa Devil Rays going to train on the island is not change nor will it bring change. Not even because Don King goes to Cuba to recruit fighters or the saga of Fast and Furious attempts to film on the battered roads of the island.

Cuba will change and be in style when Cubans finally decide to demand, as over 25,000 citizens have already done so legally, their right to think and act freely, associate to form economic ventures that allow them to thrive, when they can choose their own government and be part of it. But even today it is not possible in the island stopped in time. Even today this is overlooked by those who look at us and only see an island of beautiful beaches, a stale museum where any Marlon Brando played bongos and had sex with any native within his reach, according to the memories of the most elderly.

But that is not Cuba, not the Cuba that we want.

Translation by John Suarez.