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My Wish for 2012: Outraged People in Cuba / Miriam Celaya

My Wish for 2012: Outraged People in Cuba / Miriam Celaya
Miriam Celaya, Translator: Norma Whiting

Santana Cartoon illustrating the post in Penúltimos Days

A European friend who recently visited Havana asked me what my greatest
wish for this year 2012 was. Of course, she expected me to express to
her the same old litany: the end of the dictatorship, democracy, peace,
, etc. The wishes that tens of thousands of Cubans have made each
New Year's and that, despite all the sorrows, have yet to come true.
Maybe the propitiatory spirits, those that presumably participate or
influence human aspirations need to perceive something more than the
resolve in those who make the wishes… a signal indicating a little more
vigor to make dreams achievable, something that can fulfill that old
saying: "Help yourself, and God will help you."

So I simply said to my friend that, for 2012, I wish to see Cuba full of
angry people, for it is on that day that we will be closer to such
longed for rights and democracy. I'm not referring to childish protests
of indignation on any corner or line, in different tones of voice and
willing to be silent when some guy who looks like a political cop stares
us down; for State transportation problems, or for the increasing
reduction of so-called "subsidies" the national method, distributor of
the parameters of poverty. Neither do I speak of the more or less biased
comments about "how bad this is getting". For at least 20 years I have
been listening to the phrase "what's so good about this is how bad it's
getting", or "never is the night as dark as before dawn", and in all
that time, there hasn't been the slightest improvement or light. What's
more, everything around us is sure to be getting worse and darker, so it
is obvious that a change is needed, but not on the part of an autocracy
that clings to power and naturally resists change. What is needed is a
change of attitude among Cubans.

My greatest desire for this 2012 is, therefore, that ordinary Cubans,
those who in all the speeches are grouped under the generic term "the
people" decide, once and for all, to make their outrage public and
evident. We could, for example, protest in the streets, or in front of
government headquarters, to demand an end to the dual currency, since
wages are paid in one currency and most products are marketed in
another. By the way, it would also be relevant to demand that wages
dignify the job, be a source of well-being and not the object of a joke
printed on paper money. We could demand the repeal of the retrograde
exit permits and all limits on that keep us prisoners, slaves
of the Island-plantation. We could reclaim the sacred right to
information, the right for the flow of ideas, to participate in making
decisions about our destiny, to choose what kind of we give
our children. We could make demands, in short, about how and by whom we
wish our country to be governed.

If you think that such claims exceed the heights of indignation of some,
perhaps we could start by protesting the unstoppable rise of
prices, or stand up to the abuse of most public officials, or publicly
denounce corruption, which ends up striking the needy the hardest. We
could just ask to have the 's disbanded, (those that are still
members of the CDR's [cederistas]) or stop attending accountability
meetings and the utmost caricature of democracy: the constituency
"elections". Because — beyond the protests taking place in the First
World which the official media have the nerve to disclose here — and if
there is one thing we don't have a shortage of in Cuba it's a reason to
be outraged.

So I modified my wishes for this year, believing that, for democracy to
finally emerge, we Cubans need to stop looking outward and upward,
waiting for solutions from the solidarity of others, from the Cuban
government, or from God, and assume our share, through responsibility
and law. Recent statements by the -General — on the occasion of
his counterpart's farewell, the Iranian visiting Cuba, to our
shame — that the Communist Party's National Conference, to be held on
January 28th, will be just the organizing of the inner life of that
(political?) organization, presumably to comply with the guidelines of
the past VI Congress, lends the coup de grace to the aspirations of
large sectors that still had moderate expectations for a public debate
about the decisions of the government, including some Catholic Church
sites that have been voicing for an "inclusive and transparent" dialogue
between the government and the Cuban people. It will be interesting,
given the circumstances, to follow those sites' editorials to find out
what new proposal they make us.

So, what I want for 2012 is this: indignant people. Thousands and
thousands of Cubans angry about over half a century's worth of fraud,
outraged, if only to salvage the spoils of our national shame that still
remain after decades of dictatorship.

Work originally published in Penúltimos Days
( on January 13rd, 2012

Translated by: Norma Whiting

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