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    On Cuba, Hope and Change

    On Cuba, Hope and Change / Alexis Romay
    Posted on December 23, 2014

    President Obama, a man who actively promotes the audacity of hope and
    based his presidential campaigns on the idea of change, has combined
    both concepts in his long gaze at Cuba: he hopes Castro will change.
    However, that option isn’t remotely possible in Cuba. Back in 2003,
    Castro Bros. added to the Cuban Constitution that the socialist
    character of the Cuban revolution is irrevocable.

    Lest you think the Cold War is over, and it’s time to move on, Raul
    Castro is there to remind you not to forget. Both Castro and Obama had
    agreed to announce the news of a new dawn for Cuba-USA relations,
    simultaneously, at noon on December 17th, a day that has particular
    significance in Cuban lore, as it celebrates San Lázaro, the patron
    saint of the needy, the one who brings hope to the people.

    Obama conducted his press conference standing up in a properly lit room.
    He’s a young man, during his second presidential term, talking
    naturally. Castro, a player from the Eisenhower era, was sitting down in
    an obscure mahogany time capsule. He read from several sheets of paper
    (paper!), with the affected tone reserved for a grandiloquent speech,
    the only tone with which he has always addressed the Cuban people.

    Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, was
    wearing civilian clothes. Castro showed up in his military uniform with
    all the medals he has bestowed on himself over the years (he’s been the
    head of the Cuban Army since he and his older brother took power in
    1959). That choice of attire was carefully considered.

    Raul Castro appeared between two black-and-white framed photos. In one,
    he poses with a comrade in arms who died fighting the previous dictator
    —not Fidel, the one before him. The other photo shows Raul with his late
    wife, the most powerful woman in Cuba in the last half-century. As much
    as the president of the United States wants to move forward, Raul Castro
    is a man living in the past.

    But if the retro look wasn’t enough, then Castro opened his mouth. These
    were his first words: “Since I was elected President…” That’s exactly
    the moment the educated audience should have known this is a complete
    farce: Raul Castro has never been elected.

    The agreement to open an American embassy in Havana was preceded by a
    quid pro quo mambo in which an American spy serving time in Cuba was
    traded for three Cuban spies. (According to the trophy-of-war selfie
    Raul Castro took with them upon their arrival, his spies were well fed
    in their American prisons). The USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who lost
    most of his teeth and over 100 pounds in his Cuban prison, was released
    on “humanitarian grounds” after five years of wrongful imprisonment for
    handing out laptops and cellphones to the Cuban Jewish community.

    Additionally, Obama announced he wants to revisit Cuba’s standing in the
    list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Yet, the same day of this
    exchange, the long tentacle of North Korean repression reentered
    America’s collective consciousness by dictating to Sony Pictures (and
    its global audience), that if Sony releases “The Interview,” there will
    be terrorist retaliations.

    Nothing has changed in Cuba since July 2013, when the Chong Chong Gang,
    a North Korean ship, was caught in Panamanian waters carrying 240 tons
    of weapons concealed under sacks of sugar. The ship and the weapons were
    coming from Cuba, from the same regime that brought the world to the
    brink of nuclear war in the early sixties, the same regime this new
    development is trying to appease.

    In his inaugural speech on January 20, 2009, Obama hinted at the Castro
    dynasty: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and
    the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of
    history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench
    your fist.” But Castro’s fist is as tight as it has ever been.

    On the morning of December 20th, 2014, the news of a Cuban Coast Guard
    sinking a vessel, carrying women and children, that was fleeing the
    island started to reach English media outlets. So far, one passenger has
    been reported missing. Expect more snubs to the US government (and the
    Cuban people) where this came from.

    There’s a parable that illustrates the doomed relationship between Obama
    and Castro. A man sees a scorpion drowning in a puddle. He weighs the
    outcome of his actions, but decides that his nature is to nurture, so he
    picks up the scorpion. The scorpion’s nature is to sting. The man reacts
    to this venom by opening the hand, which drops the scorpion back in the
    water. With his limbs beginning to swell and about to hallucinate, the
    man sees a scorpion in a puddle. And he feels an urge to save the creature.


    Alexis Romay is the author of two novels and a book of sonnets. He blogs
    on Cuba, literature and other tropical diseases at

    Source: On Cuba, Hope and Change / Alexis Romay | Translating Cuba –