This is a follow up of sorts to Amanda’s post last week about the internet meeting between CAUSA at the University of Miami and college student activists in Havana.
The Miami Herald’s Alfonso Chardy has a detailed article on the conversation which took place at the meeting. Interesting stuff.
The young men and women sitting around a living room somewhere in Havana laughed and talked as if they were guests at a party.
But what they were telling their counterparts in South Florida was serious business. They railed against ”tyranny,” the persistent ”repression,” the potential for a ”social explosion,” rumors of a new rafter exodus and their annoyance that the media is not recognizing the efforts of younger dissidents.
The last part really got my attention. The fact that the students are fighting for attention is nothing but a sign that they are hungry for change, hungry for something to happen.
To the young men and women in the Havana living room last week, Cuba’s young people represent the tip of the spear for change — one that may strike peacefully or violently.
Organizers said the location of the living room and the Cubans, ages 18 to 25, could not be identified in order to protect them from Cuban government reprisals.
UM students addressed the Havana youths via a telephone call linked to the live video image projected on a large screen.
One of the first topics was what kind of change Cuban youths want.
”We, the youths of Cuba, want change,” said one of the young men, adding that ”structural, political change” was necessary.
He said the problem is generational — aging people in power and powerless youths in the urban centers. “The gerontocracy is in power and on the other side is youth, each time more powerful.”
The young man went on to say that the generational conflict will “shatter the regime, and this has us very hopeful.”
A 25-year-old man jumped in to explain that the current generation of Cuban youths could not identify with the older people in power because experiences were different.
”Our generation was formed after the fall of the Berlin wall and after the transition to democracy in eastern Europe,” he said. “So we have not shared the hard struggle of those in power, who fought against [former Cuban dictator Fulgencio] Batista, who fought against a tyranny which in the end led to another tyranny.”
He went on to say that perhaps the greatest threat to the Cuban government is not a potential U.S. invasion, as Havana officials often claim, but angry youths.
”There is a generational conflict which also includes a political conflict,” he said. “Thus, the generation today does not feel committed to the same ideals of the Cuban revolution or anything of the sort. They are hollow words.”
In answer to a question on whether Cuban youths will wait for change or take action, the Havana group laughed nervously. Then one young man said: “Well, in Cuba it is not logical for that to happen, but it could happen some day in the same way as in Venezuela or Burma.”
He added: “Young people here are tired that their rights are violated, that their right to life is crushed and they may no longer accept it and there could be a social explosion.”
This is yet another illustration of how you don’t need a flood of tourists, or even a flood of money, to “educate” Cubans on the status of their lives. They know exactly what’s going on. They know that the U.S. isn’t going to invade Cuba despite constant warnings from castro, Inc. Above all, this perfectly illustrates where change will come from in Cuba. It won’t be from exiles. It won’t be from a wave of sunburnt Americans. It will be from Cubans that are becoming fed up enough that they will demand change.
Once again, our focus shoud not be on giving the castro government any concessions in hope that they will reciprocate. Instead, let’s continue talking to and helping these brave students and the other dissidents do the work necessary to bring real change.
The entire article is here.
You can also check out an abbreviated version of this story at Cuban Colada.