Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    A Stone in the Shoe / Laritza Diversent

    A Stone in the Shoe / Laritza Diversent
    Laritza Diversent, Translator: Jack Gibbard

    I don't intend to persuade anyone that Cuba is some kind of hell. Nor to
    change the mind of those who imagine that it's a paradise. But it still
    bothers me to read in the national press that Washington is taking
    measures to tighten the .

    I'm not a politician, but every morning is filled with problems, with
    , with , with , etc. Everything is a problem and I
    don't think that it is because of the US embargo, although it's the
    perfect excuse.

    After 50 years, the US measure became a matter of policy, and it is a
    political measure, not an economic one. In the currency collecting shops
    there are US products and Cuba also imports food from that country.
    Nevertheless, things are still bad because of the blockade, at least
    that is what we read daily in the national press.

    On the other hand, the man in the street doesn't notice the embargo
    despite the propaganda on the hoardings that reminds him that, in one
    week without a blockade, it would be possible to buy 11 railway engines.
    All this is immaterial when you are looking for something to eat, or
    trying to avoid political , for a pound of coffee and two
    pounds of cheese.

    There is a single truth; the embargo has not brought down the communist
    regime and its removal wouldn't end all the social problems. The sad
    thing is that both governments treat it as war of attrition, and others
    have to pay the price.

    U.S. contractor Alan ,expressed his desire to improve communication
    between Cuba and other countries, a gesture that is both valued and
    appreciated. But that is not enough when facing a sentence in Cuba. This
    is an outcome of the political dispute between Cuba and the .

    If you want to know what I think, I am in favor of the elimination of
    the embargo or at least the more detrimental parts of it. I consider it
    to be an ineffective measure, though I recognize that the people whose
    properties were confiscated by the government deserve fair compensation.

    It's time to put forward ideas and to negotiate, if we are truly
    interested in the future of Cuba. This is the moment, and the
    opportunity. The popularity of the charismatic leader is very low, the
    socialist is bankrupt and they is no way to deal with the needs
    of society.

    It just needs the "threat from outside " to disappear for Cubans to act
    for themselves, not conditioned by hunger. Those who believe that a
    tightening of the blockade will bring us out on the streets beating
    cooking-pots are wrong. If it didn't happen before, it certainly won't now.

    It's true. Possibly, after a hypothetical elimination of the embargo,
    the government will continue to require permits to leave the
    island, will deport easterners from the capital back to their provinces,
    and will not allow us to invest in the economy on equal terms with

    Nor will it stop repressing anyone who opposes its policies. That is,
    there will no more freedoms. However, the information blockade might
    disappear, Cubans could have more contact with other countries and,
    above all, there would be no justification for those leaders who have
    spent 50 years blaming the blockade for their own failure.

    It's time to think, with our feet on the ground, and especially those
    who live across the sea, in democracy. It is wrong for them to play
    politics with our misery. The embargo is a stone in the shoe, for the

    Translated by: Jack Gibbard

    September 18 2011