Monday, October 31, 2016

After the embargo, 'for how long will the Government claim that we are still recovering?'

After the embargo, 'for how long will the Government claim that we are
still recovering?'
JORGE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ | La Habana | 31 de Octubre de 2016 - 11:21 CET.

Although politics seems to interest ordinary Cubans less and less, for
many relations with the United States are an exception, and Washington's
recent abstention in the vote on the embargo at the UN has sparked
surprise, or at least curiosity.

"The question now is how many decades the Government will tell us it is
going to take to recover from the effects of the blockade once it no
longer exists," said Orlando Jiménez. "Because, without any doubt, that
will be the justification for continuing with the blockade at home. I
know that hope is the last thing you lose, but here in Cuba hope was
still sprouting when it was nipped in the bud."

On a lot in Cerro, some confused by the vote believed that "the
blockade is over." But Nila Mercedes, one of the residents there, was
more wary: "I am afraid that things here aren't going to change due to
that abstention by the Americans. Bruno's speech was more to warn about
storms brewing than to announce any changes. It was the same rant, the
same reproaches, and the same slogans as always. There was nothing in
his words giving the people any hope."

Cuba's Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, dedicated just a
couple of lines to positively assess the US's decision to abstain in the
vote. As occurs every year, the foreign minister devoted most of his
speech to citing figures gauging the damage done by the blockade.

Ramis Argudín was not surprised "at all" by Rodríguez Parrilla's
harangue, which was "in line" with the Government's position ever "since
relations were restored."

"The press and television continue with their paranoia about the
imperialist, interventionist enemy. They barely see anything positive
about this change in the American vote," Argudín said. "They have
nothing but criticisms and reminders about the blockade, the naval base
and socialism's refusal to surrender."

But "the party violating the sovereignty of this country is the
Government itself, which does not allow us citizens to be sovereign and
prosperous. Or perhaps they are going to blame the blockade for their
offensive against the self employed," he said.

"Rodríguez Parrilla shared his experience of not being able to access an
American site using Cuban servers" on the Internet. "A very nice
anecdote perhaps, for foreigners, but frankly disrespectful to those who
right now do not have access to dozens of sites blocked by the Cuban
Government," complained Lucía Corrales.

"That has nothing to do with the embargo, and neither does the growing
wave of repression against activists, journalists, artists and
independent civil organizations, who are accused of being paid
operatives of interventionist projects," she added.

"Who is suppressing the private sector, independent lawyers, and the
rights of young Cubans to better themselves through the World Learning
program? The abstention in this vote, together with that of Israel, is
yet another step by the US administration in a relationship in which
Raúl Castro has not yet managed to take even one," said Corrales.

Elsewhere in his speech the Foreign Minister complained about the
effects of the embargo on the bank accounts of doctors in missions
abroad, "but failed to mention that Raúl Castro retains 75% of the
wages" earned by Cuban professionals hired by other countries, observed
Antonio Ibarra.

The sale of professional services, mainly medical, is currently the
Government's main source of revenue.

"I think that there is a lot hope generated by this abstention vote by
the US. It remains to be seen whether the Cuban regime will refrain from
maintaining the internal blockade that prevents the self employed from
earning money, so they don't get rich," criticized Ibarra

In his speech at the UN, Bruno Rodríguez "did not speak for the average
Cuban, but rather for the personal interests of the country's rulers. It
was neither sincere nor conciliatory. "

Ánibal Tresold, an Ontario resident visiting the Island, believes that
the US's "surprising abstention," whether Bruno Rodríguez likes it or
not, gives some measure of faith to "every Cuban asked to buy the
narrative of living for the State."

"In other words, the anguish of unemployment, where the citizen loses
the right to live from his work , and is forced into undertaking the
adventure of emigrating. We Cuban expatraites are not stifled by US law
... we are stifled by Cuban law," Tresold concluded.

Source: After the embargo, 'for how long will the Government claim that
we are still recovering?' | Diario de Cuba -

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