Martha and the “Blockade”


Marta, age 30, is an electrical engineer, single and without kids.  It is difficult for her, born under Castro’s socialism, to imagine a Cuba without the “blockade.”  She asks herself if, with the money the “blockade” costs Cuba in week, they would be able, like it says on the billboards, to buy 48 locomotives or the materials for a complete school course.  She rapidly comes to a conclusion.  “If that is the reason for our hardships, it should disappear.”

Since she was a little girl, the “blockade” has been to blame for all of her misfortunes.  Her parents separated due to ideological differences.  Her father has lived in the United States for 15 years.  She is happy that they have lifted the travel restrictions for the Cuban residents in this country.  Soon she will go back to see him.

Nevertheless, she can’t communicate with him like she wants by e-mail: the US government doesn’t permit Cuba to connect to the fiber optic cable that runs along the island.  It is then, when she reflects, that she ask herself:

What would happen if the United States decided to eliminate the commercial embargo against the island?  Could the Cuban government ask and obtain credit?  Because economies more developed than ours is collapsed due to the current financial crisis.

Without the “blockade,” would we get out of economic stagnation and in the near future would Cubans be able to satisfy their current needs?  Would Cuba have the necessary economic capacity to increase salaries, improve health care, construct more homes, increase public transport, and have recreation for the population?

When the “blockade” doesn’t exist, what justification will there be for maintaining the restrictions on citizen’s rights and hijacking liberties?  The situation today isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago.  The social problems that have accumulated in two decades are too much.

Will the frustrations that cause thousands of Cubans to use drugs and alcohol disappear?  Will they stop prostituting themselves with the young tourists of both sexes?   Will the pickpockets in the streets, the robberies in people’s homes and in workplaces disappear?  Will the illegal acts, the workplace absences, the bribery and corruption, among other bad things fade away?  Will Cubans be allowed to legally or illegally leave the country?  Will the million and a half Cubans spread throughout the world be able to return?

Marta doesn’t know how much time the government would need to resolve all of these problems once the “blockade” is lifted.  She thinks that the disappearance of the embargo by itself won’t imply the immediate solving of these problems.  But if something is worn-out, the argument is that nothing can be fixed due to the “genocidal blockade.”

She wants to have a future.  To marry and have a family.  But the 425 pesos that she earns doesn’t permit her to realize her dreams.  She wants a change.  And to achieve it, somehow she has to take the initiative.

Laritza Diversent

Photo: Robin Thom, Flickr.

Translated by Bill Wingrove

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