Has D-Day Arrived?
Has D-Day Arrived?
YOANI SÁNCHEZ, La Habana | Diciembre 17, 2014
Today has been one of those days we imagine a thousand ways, but never
as it finally happened. You prepare for a date on which you can
celebrate the end, hug your friends who return home, wave a flag in the
middle of the street, but D-Day is late. Instead, events arrive in
fragments, an advance here, a loss there. With no cries of “Long live
free Cuba,” nor uncorked bottles. Life obscures from us this turning
point that we would mark forever on our calendars.
The announcement by the governments of Cuba and the United States of the
reestablishments of diplomatic relations surprises us in the midst of
signs that pointed in the opposite direction, and also of exhausted
hopes. Raúl Castro just postponed the third round of talks with the
European Union, scheduled for next month, and this December 10
repression fell heavily on activists, as it does every International
Human Rights Day.
The first surprise was that, in the midst of the official bluster, of a
certain turn of the ideological screw expressed in calls to redouble our
guard against the enemy, the Plaza of the Revolution and the White House
had been in talks for 18 months. Clear evidence that all this discourse
of intransigence was just for show. While they made the island’s
citizens believe that even to cross the threshold of the United States
Interest Section in Havana turned them into traitors to the homeland,
the leaders in their olive-green were working out agreements with Uncle
Sam. The deceits of politics!
On the other hand, both Obama’s statements, as well as Castro’s, had a
hint of capitulation. The US president announced a long list of
moderating measures to bring the two nations closer, before the coveted
and greatly demanded steps of democratization and political opening in
our country would be achieved. The dilemma of what should have come
first, a gesture from Havana or flexibility from Washington, has just
been answered. However, the fig leaf of the American embargo remains, so
that no one can say the resignation as been complete.
Raul Castro, for his part, limited himself to announcing the new
gestures from Obama and referring to the exchange of Alan Gross and
other prisoners of interest of the American government. However, in his
address before the national television cameras, he gave no evidence of
any agreement or compromise from the Cuban side, aside from the
reestablishment of diplomatic relations. The agenda on the far side of
the Florida Straits we know in detail, but the internal one remains, as
it so often does, hidden and secret.
Still, despite the absence of public commitments on the part of Cuba,
today was a political defeat. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro we
would have never even reached an outline of an agreement of this nature.
Because the Cuban system is supported by – as one of its main pillars –
the existence of a permanent rival. David can’t live without Goliath and
the ideological apparatus has depended too long on this dispute.
Do I listen to speeches or buy fish?
In the central market of Carlos III, customers were surprised midday
that the big TVs were not broadcasting football or videoclips, but a
speech by Raúl Castro and later one by Obama through the Telesur
network. The first allocution caused a certain astonishment, but the
second was accompanied by kisses launched toward the face of the US
president, particularly when he mentioned relaxations in the sending of
remittances to Cuba and the delicate topic of telecommunications. Now
and again the cry of “I LOVE…” (in English!) could be heard from around
It is important to also say that the news had fierce competition, like
the arrival of fish to the rationed market, after years of
disappearance. However, by mid-afternoon almost everyone was aware and
the shared feelings were of joy, relief, hope.
This, however, is just the beginning. Lacking is a public timeline by
which commits the Cuban government to a series of gestures in support of
democratization and respect for differences. We must take advantage of
the synergy of both announcements to extract a public promise, which
must include, at a minimum, four consensus points that civil society
has been developing in recent months.
The release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; the
end of political repression; the ratification of the United Nations
covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and
the consequent adjustment of domestic laws; and the recognition of Cuban
civil society within and outside the island. Extracting these
commitments would begin the dismantling of totalitarianism.
As long as steps of this magnitude are not taken, many of us will
continue to think that the day we have longed for is not close. So, we
will keep the flags tucked away, keep the corks in the bottles, and
continue to press for the final coming of D-Day.
Translated by Maria Jo Porter
Source: Has D-Day Arrived? –