A letter from a young man who left Cuba

Earlier this week, Punt de Vista ran this “Letter from a young man who has left (Cuba).” Written in Spanish, it was a response to a an open letter titled “Letter to a young person who is leaving,” which was published in Cuban state-run media.

Here’s an English version from Translating Cuba:

Dear Rafael Hernández:
I have read with great interest your “Letter to a young man who is leaving.” I feel it applies to me, because two years ago I left Cuba, I’m 28 years old and I live in Pomorie, a spa city situated in the east of Bulgaria. The reason why I write to you is to try to explain to you my stance as a young Cuban emigrant. Without solemnities nor absolute truths, because if leaving my country has taught me anything, it’s discovering that such truths do not exist.
Maybe some of those who have left in the last few years (there are thousands of us) are clear about the moment they decided to do it. Not me. Mine was progressive, almost without my realizing it. It began with that oh-so-Cuban resource that is the complaint. Trifling, perhaps. About what isn’t available, about what has not come, about what happens, about what doesn’t happen, about not knowing. Or not being able to.

Dear Rafael Hernández:

I have read with great interest your “Letter to a young man who is leaving.” I feel it applies to me, because two years ago I left Cuba, I’m 28 years old and I live in Pomorie, a spa city situated in the east of Bulgaria. The reason why I write to you is to try to explain to you my stance as a young Cuban emigrant. Without solemnities nor absolute truths, because if leaving my country has taught me anything, it’s discovering that such truths do not exist.

Maybe some of those who have left in the last few years (there are thousands of us) are clear about the moment they decided to do it. Not me. Mine was progressive, almost without my realizing it. It began with that oh-so-Cuban resource that is the complaint. Trifling, perhaps. About what isn’t available, about what has not come, about what happens, about what doesn’t happen, about not knowing. Or not being able to.

You say that the country exerts a great effort, that there is an embargo. And I respond to you that there is also a government that takes fifty years to make decisions on behalf of all Cubans. And if we have reached this point, it would be healthiest to admit that it has failed, or was unable, or didn’t want to do things differently. For whatever reason. Because its failure is also full of reasons. And instead of digging in with its historical figures in the Council of State, it should give way to those who come after.

Rafael, it’s very frustrating for a young person of my age to see that 50 years have passed in Cuba without producing a generational change-over because the government has not allowed it. And I’m not talking about giving the power to me, as a 28-year-old. I am talking about those 40-, 50- or even 60-year-old Cubans who have never had the chance to decide.

Because today’s people who are of that age and who hold positions of responsibility in Cuba have not been trained to make decisions, but rather to approve them. They are not leaders, they are officials. And that includes everyone from ministers to the delegates of the national assembly. They are part of a vertical system that does not provide room so that they can exercise the autonomy that corresponds with their positions. Everything is a consultation. And contrary to the old the saying: instead of asking for pardon, everyone would rather ask for permission.

You say that in my country one can vote and be elected to a position from age 16. And that the presence of young delegates has diminished from the 80s until now. You even warn me that if we continue on like this, there will be fewer young people who vote and therefore fewer who are eligible. And I ask you: what purpose does my vote serve? What can I change? What have the delegates of the national assembly done to spark my interest in them?

Let’s be honest, Rafael, and I believe that you are in your letter, so I also want to be honest in mine, we both know that the national assembly, as it is conceived, only serves to pass laws unanimously. It is ironic to call an institution that meets one week a year an “assembly.” Three or four days in the summer and three or four days in December. And during those days it limits itself to approving the mandates from the Council of State and of its President, who is the one who decides what happens and what doesn’t happen in the country. Sadly, I cannot vote for  this president. And I’m not sure I would want to do so.

A few days ago I heard Ricardo Alarcón confess to a Spanish reporter that he doesn’t believe in Western democracy “because the citizens are only free the day they vote, the rest of the time the parties do what they want…” Even if that were the case, which it is not (at least not all the time, and not in every democracy), he would recognize that since I was born, in 1984, voters in the United States, for instance, have had seven days of freedom (one every four years) to change their president.

Read the rest of the letter (in English) here.

See the letter in Spanish here.

Taiwan as a model for Cuba – panel discussions from the Cuba Transition Project

Back in February, the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies’ Cuba Transition Project held some panel discussions on “Taiwan as a Model for Cuba’s Future.” It wasn’t until now that they posted video of the event, which featured the following speakers:

  • Dr. Jaime Suchlicki – Director, Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies
  • Mr. Ray H.W. Mou Director General, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Miami
  • Pedro Roig, Esq.
  • Dr. Yuang-Kuang Kao
  • Dr. Chung-li Wu
  • Carlos Alberto Montaner
  • Dr. Jose Azel
  • Dr. Hans H. Tung
  • Dr. Yih-chyi Chuang
  • Dr. Jorge Salazar Carrillo
  • Dr. Andy Gomez
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen President of the Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. House of Representatives

The video of the event is available on this YouTube playlist. Click the link if you would like to pick and choose the speakers you watch.

If you’ve got a serious craving for heady panel discussions, you can just watch here. The videos should play sequentially on their own.

Today in Cuba news: the Carromero family hires a lawyer, a cubiche wins bronze, and opinions on Oswaldo Payá

CUBA. DESPUÉS DEL ASESINATO DE OSWALDO PAYÁ: ¿QUIÉN SERÁ EL PRÓXIMO OPOSITOR ASESINADO POR LOS HERMANOS CASTRO. VIDEO CON TESTAMENTO POLÍTICO DE JUAN FRANCISCO SIGLER AMAYA EN CASO DE SU EXTRAÑA MUERTE
http://baracuteycubano.blogspot.com/2012/08/cuba-despues-del-asesinato-de-oswaldo.html
Cuban opera singer challenges “jealous” bureaucrats over closed theater
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/01/cuba-theater-reform-idINL2E8IU8AZ20120801
Opinion: What Really Happened to Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Payá?
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/08/01/opinionthe-legacy-oswaldo-paya/
Spaniard held in Cuba after deadly crash hires a lawyer
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/08/01/spaniard-held-in-cuba-after-deadly-crash-hires-lawyer/
Cuban-Americans’ Political Success
While Cuban-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the Hispanic population of the United States, three of them have been elected to the United States Senate and another may soon join them, with Ted Cruz’s victory in the Republican Senate primary in Texas on Tuesday.
Why have Cuban-Americans been more successful than other Hispanic candidates, even in states with few Cuban-Americans?
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/08/01/cuban-americans-political-success
Cuban-American Leyva captures bronze in London
First-time Olympian brings home all-around medal
http://www.local10.com/sports/Cuban-American-Leyva-captures-bronze-in-London/-/1717082/15923946/-/1o95acz/-/index.html
Leyva wins bronze, Orozco finishes eighth for U.S. in individual all-around gymnastics
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/olympics/leyva_wins_bronze_orozco_finishes_kv8InEEb9ZKIJ09yOtSLYN
Payá’s dream of a free Cuba will come true
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/01/2926108/payas-dream-of-a-free-cuba-will.html
New Air Route between Havana and Tokyo
http://technorati.com/lifestyle/travel/article/new-air-route-between-havana-and/
US Senate urges Cuba dissident death probe

http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/internacional/2012/7/31/Senate-urges-Cuba-dissident-death-probe,734caaca-3dc6-4b85-b572-

8287d0f56b98.html

News & Reporting

Cuban opera singer challenges “jealous” bureaucrats over closed theater

(Note: Another story on the same cabaret was posted yesterday. This Reuters piece, however, offers a bit more detail — however accurate it might be — on the ludicrous legal issues that the club’s owner faces in Cuba.)

Spaniard held in Cuba after deadly crash hires a lawyer

The family of the visiting Spaniard who was behind the wheel for the car crash that killed prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya has hired a Havana-based attorney to represent him, Spanish diplomats told EFE here Wednesday.

Cuban-American Leyva captures bronze in London

Born in Cuba but raised in the United States, Leyva put up incredible scores on the parallel bars and horizontal bars to rally late for a third place finish.

New Air Route between Havana and Tokyo

The first flight is scheduled for Wednesday August 1st

US Senate urges Cuba dissident death probe

The resolution also “condemns the government of Cuba for the detention of nearly 50 pro-democracy activists” following a memorial service for Paya.

Opinions & Editorials

Opinion: What Really Happened to Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Payá? (by Roger Noriega)

So what does Raul Castro have to say in the wake of the untimely death of Oswaldo Payá?  This weekend he offered a dialogue with the United States – “a conversation between equals.”  Setting aside the staggering delusion that Castro considers his regime equal to any decent democracy, such a dialogue must be among the Cuban people about the future they deserve.

Cuban-Americans’ Political Success (a collection of five opinion pieces)

While Cuban-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the Hispanic population of the United States, three of them have been elected to the United States Senate and another may soon join them, with Ted Cruz’s victory in the Republican Senate primary in Texas on Tuesday.

Payá’s dream of a free Cuba will come true (by Czech journalist Eduard Freisler)

Oswaldo never yelled back; he never even used curse words while describing his enemies to me. Maybe Oswaldo Payá was a little too naive and sometimes too meticulous, but above all he was a brave, noble man who cared about Cuban democracy and freedom. It’s more than unfortunate that both he and Havel died before they could toast to freedom in Havana together.