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realclearworld

After Juanes

By Yoani Sanchez

Cuba Juanes

Tomorrow will dawn as every Monday. The convertible peso will continue its ascent, Adolfo and his colleagues will have another day behind bars in the Canaleta prison, my son will hear at school that socialism is the only option for the country and at the airports we will continue to ask permission to leave the Island. The Juanes concert will not have significantly changed our lives, but nor did I go to the Plaza with this illusion. It would be unfair to demand of the young Columbian singer that he propel those changes that we ourselves have not managed to make, despite wanting them so much.

I was at the esplanade to check out how different the same space can be when it accommodates crowds organized from above, versus when it shelters a group of people dancing, singing and interacting without the involvement of politics. It was a rare experience to be there, without shouting slogans and without having to applaud mechanically when the tone of the speech marked that it was the time to cheer. Clearly some elements resembled those who march each May first, especially the proportion of plainclothes police in the audience.

Certain technical details were uncomfortable. The audio couldn’t be heard well, the small screen to show what was happening on stage couldn’t be seen from a distance, and the hour chosen was inhuman, coinciding with the worst moments of the sun. Fortunately it clouded over after four, and those who were holed up under the few trees took to dancing with the Orishas. They are details that can be fixed the next time Juanes performs in Cuba, when technical glitches will be few and those excluded this afternoon can sing.

Editor's note: Look, unicorns!

26 comments to After Juanes

  • Mr. Mojito

    my son will hear at school that socialism is the only option for the country

    Umm YOANI, you had already left the island with your son, and you choose to GO BACK and live there! Child Abuse? Maybe.

  • vedado1973

    Mr. Mojito

    Maybe she did what all of us should have done, that is to go back to the country that is lawfully ours and fight for its freedom from within, that is what Gorki is doing and many others.

  • asombra

    Everyone is not willing to sacrifice or risk their children's minds and souls. My parents weren't, and I thank them and God for it. Often.

  • theCardinal

    asombra - so easy to judge sitting from where you are. you don't have the guts Yoani does. you like most of us here are all talk. all you have contributed to the cause of freedom is hot air. at least people listen to yoani.

  • Henry Agueros

    Tranquilo everyone....The enemy is not us.

  • theCardinal

    sorry. i just get upset when dissidents get knocked for disagreeing with us. I've said it a million times before - they are the ones living it. It is more their future than ours. They are the ones putting themselves out there. Very easy for us to say what we want from here.

  • The only purveyor of hot air on this blog is a commenter named Cardinal... Nosotros escribimos lo que nos sale de los realisimos cojones. Understand, Card? If you don't agree, tough shit. Maybe if the Cuban people showed a little backbone like the dissidents do, or like the Iranians do on occasion, we wouldn't be so critical...

  • FreedomForCuba

    Cardinal,

    I fully agree with George that the people in Cuba don’t have a backbone, period.

    It is more than about time that the people stand-up to the tyranny, but unfortunately the people have gotten used to be supported by the exile community.

    The painful fact of this whole dilemma is that the Cuban people are not afraid to jump on a raft on the FL straits and get eaten by sharks and then they’re afraid to “tirarle una trompetilla” to Fidel and Raul Castro.

    Something is terribly wrong with the people in the island.

    The truth is that the world sees the Cuban people not rebelling against that same tyranny that destroyed the country for the last fifty years and wonder if things are not so bad there as we exiles claim.

    When it comes to the dissidents I don’t trust the majority of them because my gut feeling is that the true dissidents in the island are in jail today, the rest only God knows what they are, for all I care they could be planted by the government.

  • Gigi

    Dittos, asombra. My parents never wanted to leave, much less put our lives at risk on a boat. They were dirt poor, we had no way to fight the system; it was either the Gulf of Mexico or eventual death of disease - plus my mom was hunted by the CDR for speaking out at the food/libreta lines. And there's tons of cases like ours. So..... while I admire Gorki and Yoani, I cannot condemn people who put their children's lives first. It happens all over the world with parents living in inhumane conditions. Even the Cuban commie higher echelon's offspring don't live on the island for the most part.

  • FreedomForCuba

    Gigi,

    Our parents had the infinite vision and wisdom to realize that if we stayed in Cuba this was what it would happen to us.

    They saw it coming since Fidel Castro arrival to power in 1959 with all the stuff that started happening and realized after the Bay of Pigs fiasco that Cuba’s future was doomed for many years and generations to come.

    I’m forever thankful that my parents made the decision to take me out of that shit hole, as today I would have no future if I stayed there.

  • FreedomForCuba

    "Everyone is not willing to sacrifice or risk their children's minds and souls. My parents weren't, and I thank them and God for it. Often."

    I fully agree with you Asombra.

  • theCardinal

    Very impressive George, very easy to be sitting on your ass in front of the PC/MAC, whatever and saying people back in Cuba lack backbone. That makes no sense. It is easy to come on here and go with the flow and talk crap how everyone that disagrees with you is a commie. You are no different than the reds. You can't handle dissent even if they ultimately want the same thing as you. If you don't want the embargo - you must be a commie. If you listen to Juanes - you must be a commie. You are so regimented and closed minded you are going to find yourselves very alone when this is all over.

    The policies that you support run contrary to the interests of this country and ultimately the Congress is going to wake up and tell us to go fuck ourselves. And then what will you have left? Nothing? You will all come here to bitch, moan and whine...oh wait you all do that already.

    Frankly, who gives a damn if the people on the island don't want to do anything. It sucks but that's their problem. Do you want people from another country telling you how to live? Leave them alone. If you can't stand them so much then what do you hope to accomplish by "freeing them." It's their future, their country. If they want to knock off Castro Inc, then help...if they don't that's their problem not mine.

  • Honey

    I am not Cuban, so I don't know if it is appropriate for me to weigh in. If you prefer that I say nothing on this as an outsider I will desist in the future.
    The Moonies needed only one weekend and they had someone in their thrall for life using only food deprivation and brainwashing, unless they were deprogrammed and sometimes even then....
    How can you criticize hungry Cubans, hungry for food and for medical supplies, education, freedom to come and go, when in our country, as in Venezuela, so many who have freedom are willing to lose it and explain away all the evidence that we are surrendering our freedom? Lobster in the pot. So many in this country look up to Castro, and to Obama, who would do to us what Castro has done to Cuba.
    Here's how I see it. Those who were able, got out. Those who did not have the wherewithal took to the water to try to get out. Those who were left were the weakest or the most fearful or the most hopeful about Castro, or the ones who became part of the evil. How can you expect the weakest to rise up? There is no industry; the church has been emasculated. You cannot fish even. What is it you expect from the Cubans that remain? A person can be angry, fed up and frightened all he wants. With no weapons, no wherewithal, no food, I think it is a pipe dream to expect those poor Cubans to rise up. And they have lived with the constant propaganda, too.
    In the Soviet Union for seventy years the people had food and work, but no self esteem. They could not rise up all that time, either.
    Unless someone from the outside can help them, or if the miraculous should occur and the free world would finally wake up and say enough, I think those poor people don't have a chance.

  • raylove54

    Very spirited discussion, we are blessed that from our respective democracies we are able to express ourselves freely .I thank my father for turning tail and leaving Cuba for the US, had we remained in Cuba I'd be in jail or dead. After graduating from military school I would have gone to fight for my adopted country if asked to, however after 30 years of service my parents became ill and after being gang banged,raped,ignored,and their assets consfiscated and their family villified I felt betrayed by the Americans and like my father before me , I believe in peace and the pursuit of happiness so I left. My newly adopted country lives by the motto 'The government that govern the best, governs the least' and runs the country and stays the hell out of our lives and affairs....
    We also had a dictator that ruled with a iron hand and was responsible for the most vile of murders, the latest being the cold blooded killing of the 'Hermanas Mirabal' dissidents of the regime. "Where there is a will there is always a way" Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was stalked and at an opportuned time he was cornered in the 'Malecon' and the dictator was 'voted' out of office at a very steep price paid by a determined group of heros who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have enjoyed ever since.....These are people who took responsibility for their lives, their futures, and did what they had to do...
    As to why Cubans have decided to blame external circumstances for their misfortune, the embargo,oppresion, whatever and have chosen to live this way for 50 years is beyond me.... and if they are not willing to take responsibility for their future and are willing to take whatever is handed down to them, then that's a problem of their choosing that they feel that they can live with.

  • By their actions ye shall know them. They do not want liberty enough to fight for it. If I am to be a pariah for expressing that opinion, so be it. The net result we have from inaction is a Juanes concert. The only brave ones left on the island are the jailed dissidents and their loved ones who have the balls to continue their fight. Sorry, your arguments don't wash with me. A great man named Biscet is in prison for exercising his God-given right to express himself. We need ALL Cubans on the island to behave like Biscet. And Antunez. And Ferrer. There aren't enough jailers to keep them all locked up. As long as I see men like Biscet and Antunez and Ferrer left on the island there is still some glimmer of hope.

    BTW, Cardinal, (1) I can criticize whomever the fuck I want to criticize. (2) I use a Mac, not a PC. Get it right the next time. (3) I don't think you're a commie, just a pompous asshole with delusions of compassionate grandeur.

  • FreedomForCuba

    “and if they are not willing to take responsibility for their future and are willing to take whatever is handed down to them, then that's a problem of their choosing that they feel that they can live with.”

    Cardinal,

    Since you’re such a champion of the exiles hands-off Cuba and don’t tell them what do there I have the following for you.

    I would agree with your statement if the people in Cuba were not to rely so much on remittances and help from their friends and family outside the island.

    The fact of the matter is that the people in the island have built a dependency on help from outside that they’re unable and unwilling to break.

    It is very easy for them to choose to live off the hard work and the sacrifice of their friends and family in exile (without having a clue of this sacrifice)and don’t lift a freaking finger for their independence.

    Asi es muy facil.

    Under these terms I cannot have an ounce of respect and sympathy for any of them (except for the political prisoners, the rest deserve what they have).

    I say cut all the remittances to Cuba and I’ll give you six months before the shit hits the fan for everyone there. Then you’ll see how quickly they’ll rise against the tyranny.

    George was extremely right when he stated the following:

    “They do not want liberty enough to fight for it.”

    The Soviet Block broke the chains of Communist slavery nearly twenty years ago and still in Cuba the people there are living in their insane world because they don’t have the balls and the values to fight for their freedom.

    Pardon my vulgarity but,

    “Se han vuelto una pila de mierda”, that simple.

    But they surely want their friends and family to support them from exile (I learned this painful experience over the last few years with some of my family’s recent arrivals). That’s very easy and contains no sacrifice for them.

    BULLSHIT…

    It pains me to say this because I still have plenty of family in Cuba but they have what they deserve today.

    El pueblo Cubano es muy carnero y se merecen lo que tienen por sus malas acciones y su forma de ser.

  • FreedomForCuba

    Cardinal my previous post was directed mostly at raylove54 (as I got the wrong quote) but you both can get my drift...

  • The problem with us criticizing the perceived lack of dissent in Cuba is that, whether by design or unintentionally, we lump in those who DO put their necks out every single day. People like Yoani. Even people like Panfilo, believe it or not. We need to realize and be conscious of that every time we write or say something critical of Cubans. Sure, there are lots of Cubans that don't want to lift a finger to change things, but many more (IMO) are waiting for the opportunity. Which opportunity, I have no idea. But it does sound a bit disingenuous for us to sit here in freedom and criticize the oppressed. Do we have the right to criticize. Damn right. But with that right we have to accept the consequences and think about who we're really targeting with our words.

  • FreedomForCuba

    Robert,

    Sorry, I know that is painful to say it, but the actions (or lack off) of the Cuban people against the tyranny speak for themselves and deserve all of our criticism.

    Is way too long for the Cuban people to continue acting like “carneros”. There is no longer excuse for this cowardly behavior.

    As George already stated, they don’t have the backbone to stand-up for their freedom and this painful fact is one that cannot be swept under the rug.

  • asombra

    Cardinal, not that I owe you anything, as most of what you seem to do here is display your Moral Superiority Complex, every single chance you think you've found. I mean, you just can't wait to pounce, can you? Talk about knee-jerk.

    However, for the record, my comment was a response to that by Vedado1973, which seemed a response to Mojito's comment. Vedado's comment thus seemed to imply or suggest that those who left Cuba to protect/save their children, as my parents did, fell short somehow, or were somehow weak or wrong. I TOTALLY disagree with that, and I won't let such a suggestion or insinuation go unchallenged.

    Yoani can do with her life and her kids whatever she chooses; I was not talking about her specifically; I was speaking up for my parents and hundreds of thousands who did the same thing for the same reason. I will not have anybody even begin to question their honor or the propriety of their actions.

    Again, you can have whatever opinion you want and do as you please, but if you tell me you'd risk the minds and souls of your own kids to play hero in Castro's Cuba, or that you expect anybody else to do so, or that you don't have any problem with that concept, don't bother telling me anything else about any subject, because your credibility with me would be nil--not simply as a Cuban, but as a parent and as a human being.

    And by the way, if you can't control your holier-than-thou impulses any better, maybe you should look into working with Juanes, Miguel Bosé or Olga Tañón. I made the mistake of listening to one of the woman's TV interviews before she left for Cuba, and she was preaching as if she were St. Teresa of Avila, a veritable Doctor of Moral Wisdom, lecturing Cuban exile viewers as if they were retarded children.

    Trust me, that tactic is HIGHLY counterproductive. I suggest next time you get the urge, spend at least 5 seconds trying to figure out where the person is or may be coming from before going off like a loose cannon. Bottom line: if I have to choose between the righteousness of people like my parents and yours, it doesn't even begin to be a contest, so save it for a more sympathetic audience, like those lovely people at the Miami Herald.

  • vedado1973

    Asombra, I meant nothing of the sort, I just said that I wish we all had stay over there and fight, and that is including myself!!! we all left for the right reasons.

  • FreedomForCuba

    Vedado,

    You have a very valid point too...I understand where you're coming from...

  • vedado1973

    See I know too well about sacrifice, I left Cuba at 14 and left both of my parents behind, knowing that probably I was never going to see them again. Luckily they were able to come 2 years later, but I have never set foot on the island again. I was lucky that I was able to get out but there lots of young Cubans that can't or think that leaving is not the answer. I just feel that is very hard to do anything from here and I should had stay behind and do something.

    I know most of you guys are either born here or left very young and there is nothing wrong with that, you have every right to have a saying or your opinion about Cuba, hell most of you are more Cuban than most people in Cuba. But understand that you have to walk on the person shoes to know what they are going through.

  • Mr. Mojito

    A very interesting conversation, which touches on many issues that us exiles should discuss more often.

    1. My original point was that Yoani had left Cuba with her child and then voluntarilly returned back there - thus in my mind it is hard for her to then complain about the circumstance that she had to know she was going back to. But then again I think she might work for the govt (but that's another topic alltogether).

    2. Many still on the island have developed a cycle of dependenccy that unfortunately many exiles feed into. Your average Cuban who recieves several hundred dollars a month in remittances can actually live pretty well in Cuba - thus why in the hell would they rebel? They can sit around all day and pay no rent or bills, get free minimal food provided, and then subsidize their living with CUC's at dollar stores with their hard earned relatives $ from Miami. Many exiles out of their compassion end up actually helping the regime by acting as a pressure cooker - if things get bad - the soft liners in Miami will send more $ so that the peasants don't get to uppity.

    3. Fidel is evil, but he was never stupid. The Soviet Union had to kill their dissidents in large numbers because there was no where else to put them. However, Fidel can just allow his to move abroad and be done with them. Normally someone like Fidel would have had to of killed the 1,000,000 + exiles now outside the country who left - however he escaped that obvious genocide and appears "compassionate" to dumb lefties because he "allowed" thousands to float over on tires and inner tubes.

    4. I have great respect for imprisoned Cubans on the island - but little for those who are complicity SILENT! They need to either LEAVE it or REBEL against it ... because just being another cog in the machine only adds one more sheep for Castro Co. It makes it even worse if they just stay there and happily take remittances (where the govt skims 20 %) and then spend their $$$ in govt stores - now they are accomplices in their OWN oppression. Orwell couldn't have written it any more perversed.

  • vedado1973

    Mr. Mojito

    1. My original point was that Yoani had left Cuba with her child and then voluntarilly returned back there - thus in my mind it is hard for her to then complain about the circumstance that she had to know she was going back to. But then again I think she might work for the govt (but that's another topic alltogether).

    I think that because she came back she has made public lots of problems and has denounce the silliness of the system. It gives people an idea of how life is in Cuba. Granted she lives in a good place in Cubas standards but she still has to live like other Cubans and because of her and other we know their plight.

    About her working for the government.... Well really who knows... The are some deceiving that she may be a thermostat for them to see how hot things are really in Cuba.

    2. Many still on the island have developed a cycle of dependenccy that unfortunately many exiles feed into. Your average Cuban who recieves several hundred dollars a month in remittances can actually live pretty well in Cuba - thus why in the hell would they rebel? They can sit around all day and pay no rent or bills, get free minimal food provided, and then subsidize their living with CUC's at dollar stores with their hard earned relatives $ from Miami. Many exiles out of their compassion end up actually helping the regime by acting as a pressure cooker - if things get bad - the soft liners in Miami will send more $ so that the peasants don't get to uppity.

    Agreed 100% I do not send money or help anyone because what you are really doing is creating a leach, that will suck you dry and no one helped me when I was there and I didn't die.

    3. Fidel is evil, but he was never stupid. The Soviet Union had to kill their dissidents in large numbers because there was no where else to put them. However, Fidel can just allow his to move abroad and be done with them. Normally someone like Fidel would have had to of killed the 1,000,000 + exiles now outside the country who left - however he escaped that obvious genocide and appears "compassionate" to dumb lefties because he "allowed" thousands to float over on tires and inner tubes.

    That sums up my whole point. We should have stayed... and let the pressure cooker blow.

    4. I have great respect for imprisoned Cubans on the island - but little for those who are complicity SILENT! They need to either LEAVE it or REBEL against it ... because just being another cog in the machine only adds one more sheep for Castro Co. It makes it even worse if they just stay there and happily take remittances (where the govt skims 20 %) and then spend their $$$ in govt stores - now they are accomplices in their OWN oppression. Orwell couldn't have written it any more perversed.

    Agreed and that is what some people are doing REBELLING Against it, but like you I think if their still walking around free is a little suspicious....

    And finally I will like to say that is great to have conversations like this, because even if sometimes we do not agree we allow other points of view to be taken in consideration.

    There are many ways, many roads but only one destination.. A FREE CUBA from communists...

  • FreedomForCuba

    Asombra,

    I fully agree with your complete post (specially number 2) as I tried to make the same point.

    Vedado,

    I share your same suspicions about Yoani (and they increased after her support for Barack Obama) as the regime has a consistent track record of throwing in jail those dissidents that are a real treat to the tyranny.

    One day we’ll learn who was a government agent in Cuba and who wasn’t. I think that we’ll be in for some eye openers.