Wednesday, February 17, 2010


“I believe that these economic restrictions − an ‘embargo’ to some and a ‘blockade’ to others − represent a blunder in American policy toward Cuba. Far from suffocating the ruling class of the Island, these trade restrictions create material difficulties for the population and feed the radicalization of the ideological discourse inside Cuba. The embargo has been an argument to justify the unproductive and inefficient state-run economy, including the total ruin of various sectors. Worse than that, it has been used to support the maxim, ‘in a country under siege, dissent is treason,’ which contributes to the lack of freedoms for my fellow citizens.

“In its nearly 50 years, the ‘blockade’ has done nothing to limit the material arsenal of our authorities, not one of them has ceased to enjoy their privileges. An example is the issue of Internet access. They have always blamed the restrictions on Internet access on the fact that the United States has not allowed Cuba to connect to its underwater cable. The victims of these restrictions are ordinary Cubans; we have had to postpone our enjoyment of the World Wide Web, while the police, the censors and the official media seize the few kilobytes of access available to the whole country.

“When Barack Obama authorized American telecommunications companies to negotiate with their Cuban counterparts, this alibi for limiting the use of the Internet fell apart. Unfortunately, the government of Raul Castro has ignored his proposal and we continue to be the ‘Island of the Disconnected.’ But on this issue, at least, it is obvious to all that the responsibility does not rest entirely on external forces, but also on internal political will.

“…[W]e have to put aside the idea that relations between peoples are shaped in the halls of governments and the corridors of foreign ministries. Between the United States and Cuba there is a shared history, kinship and culture that do not depend on agreements between our respective administrations. For example, a linguistic detail illustrates the Island’s sympathy with our neighbors to the north; we never use the word ‘gringos’ with all its negative connotations, rather we use the word ‘yumas’ which is much more friendly.

“Our nation is no longer contained within a single territory; there are Cubans in every part of the world, and especially on the other side of the Florida Straits. As a result, our destiny is indissolubly tied to the United States. With due respect for our sovereignty, with more collaboration, more cultural exchanges, more citizen solidarity and fluidity of communications, both peoples would benefit. For this reason I support an immediate opening to allow all Americans to travel to Cuba, the end of the ‘blockade,’ the end of the damaging hostilities of the Cold War, and in particular the complete elimination of anything that limits contact between the citizens of both countries.”

– Yoani Sanchez, interviewed by fellow blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo; interview published at; h/t El Yuma

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