As Yoani Sanchez was “twitting” from Brasil I dug up what I wrote just after I flew back from Cuba. Yoani Sanchez tweets were reported in major newspapers in Europe and North America, I grew very skeptical on where this was all heading to and the point those journalists could be trying to make. In a nutshell: as different opinions go on whether to intervene in Syria or whether the embargo on Cuba still makes sense, I am starting to believe that in totally different political set-ups bringing in some VSAT (see illustration) in the country could do much better than sending in some shoot-on-sight soldiers or deciding on cutting trades.
To the Castros.
I wish you, Raul and Fidel, all the best for the 54th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. The resilience of this revolution despite a long-lasting blockade of the first world economical power calls my respect.
As I realized walking through your museums and city streets you proudly claim to have gotten rid of the vices of the Batista dictatorship.
I do recognized in your country a high level of health, education, justice, and security.
I also came back with a strong memory of how your cities would not be dumped by advertisement for underwear, alcoholic drugs, or carcinogenic pseudo-freedom.
As I traveled a mere 35 days meeting Cuban citizens with various social background it seemed that some of the vices from the Cuban imperialist era have come back surreptitiously through the back door! Corruption, lies, and black market are all in my opinion various forms of oppression to the people you and the Che gave your lives to deliver from. I first thought it would be a local phenomenon to the neighborhood of the “casa particular” which were offering me hospitality. I expected at first that tourism had corrupted some Cubans within reach of easy money. After a while and hitch-hiking in remote parts of the island I started to believe that oppression is back and spread from Santiago to Maria la Gorda.
I experienced this oppression of Cubans as a passing observer with my own eyes, mixed feelings, and empathy. I can at least state what I saw and try to evaluate how you could once again free your people from this intolerable oppression. I am not trying to teach anything to the experienced politicians that the Castros are, I just believe that for someone coming from outside it is often easier to see a situation from a different perspective and make a suggestion.
Let me tell you a striking example: I was offer a hard-to-resist $10 corruption deal to a Cuban civil servant to get on a reserved-for-Cubans train which was by far my cheapest option to get out of the non-touristic city Manzanillo, I saw how other tourists would corrupt official to get priority over Cubans which I consider a harsh form of oppression. As a passing tourist I could have decided to corrupt Cuban officials because as most tourists I don’t really care about the long-term well being of the country I visit, I just have a limited holiday period of which I want to make the most of. As I had a lot of time I decided against easy corruption. At that point it seemed to me that tourism was at the root of corruption, but I soon realized there was a deeper root cause.
My feelings were hurt when I was told by house-wreck owners how some officials would sell material destined to their house on the black market for their own profit. It is hard for me to judge whether those claims are true and that is the whole point, how to know who is telling the truth when you are not sure who is corrupted? Is corruption now endemic and independent from the easy tourists’ money? In doubt, to free your people you would need to find a way to clean corruption among your officials and open their eyes again, as you did in 59. Jose Marti and you proved it, Fidel, when oppression is brought to the attention of many that is the first step in liberating the people of Cuba.
After thinking about it for a while, when a Cuban would tell me about corruption I would suggest to write together a letter to you, Fidel and Castro. Recommending to write down names of corrupted officials. Unfortunately in every cases they refused for fear of revenged from officials they would cite.
As a conclusion on corruption I still have no tangible evidence and I would assume that an additional administrative layer would be hovered in the corruption it would be supposed to fight. I would rather suggest an easier solution which would be to just give a platform to the Cuban people, to provide free and anonymous access to the internet to anybody on the island. I believe that oppression in any of the forms I was told about in Cuba would not withstand in the long run against the transparent and direct flow of information. That is the point Commandante: nobody could be a fool in educated Cuba as long as everybody is provided with fair access to a free and anonymous communication medium.
I strongly believe that based on my initial praise of the state of the health, education, justice, and security you brought to your people, the introduction of the internet in Cuba would help your people getting rid of the oppression you committed your life to free Cubans from.
Fidel, Raul, I am no big fan of Yoani Sanchez and what’s more her boasting about how free and rapid the internet in Brazil (and she means compared to Cuba) is just providing some more material for Westerners to argue against your policies. I strongly doubt that Yoani is of any relevance to Cuban politics, what I would rather hear from are all the ordinary Cubans that makes this wonderful island what it is.
Hasta la victoria siempre sobre los corruptores.