Endophobia

The rejection of what is different, of the foreign, looks equally bad as discrimination and humiliation.  The strange “endophobia” displayed in excluding that which is similar, in denying equal rights to your own compatriots, is common on the streets of this Island.  Among the most intense impressions the city of Santiago de Cuba left me with is precisely that, of not being able to enjoy the same services as foreign tourists.

Located at one corner of Céspedes park is a modern office of the telecommunications company ETESCA where you can send a fax or connect to the Internet.  However, this latter is possible only if you can prove you weren’t born in Cuba or have lived, for many years, hundreds of kilometers from this country.  I knew this when I went in and saw the questioning faces of the staffers while they looked at my clothes, to see if I was a foreigner or a simple national.  As I am skilled in the art of slipping through the narrowest cracks, I spoke a ridiculous hodgepodge of English and German so they sold me a card to access the web.

From there I sent the post of last Sunday and watched how they refused the Internet connection to several Cubans who entered.  Offering no arguments, with a simple “access is only for tourists,” they prevented my fellow citizens from sitting at the idle computers at the end of the room.  One, particularly upset, protested.  He said something like, “this is a lack of respect,” and I, not able to continue faking that I was German, made a small correction: “This is another lack of respect, one more in an already long list.”  A minute later I was asked to leave the premises.  I’d already managed to leave my text in this wide open space, where no one requires me to show my passport.

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44 thoughts on “Endophobia

  1. Carbo Servia

    You seems quite articulate in writing your thoughts, however, you offer no solutions or at least hope. Worse yet, you overlook the fact that european countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark among others, have successfully “tamed” a free economy. Denmark in particular was named as the country with the happiest people in the world according to polls done – see BBC report at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5224306.stm.
    Your outlook on life is dismal and full of words (air) but is not accurate nor helpful to native Cubans in Cuba reading this blog looking forward to a better life in a better system.

    Meral

    I agree that the problems are multiple in Cuba. Certainly higher level and immediate needs like eating, and having the money to get by. When referencing freedom of speech and voting rights to influence government as issues to be overcome, I was only speaking within the framework of this blog and Yoanni’s dilemma and people like her, who may be thrown in jail at any moment and for any reason. I stand by what I said that freedom of speech and suffrage are essential goals to be achieved in order to obtain change.

  2. MacheteAmor dice: 5 Febrero 2009 a las 21:41
    @Carbo Servia: Interesting. I would agree with everything you said except your final point on Capitalism. I believe that Capitalism is naturally exploitative and pits people against each other. It brings out the worst in human nature and rewards those who are able to best place themselves in an economically powerful position, irregardless of how and why they achieved that power. Capitalism is inherently undemocratic. A socialist government cannot truly exist within a capitalist economy. I was wondering if you could elaborate your position on this ?
    00000000000000000000000000

    MacheteAmor…… I like your nick!!!!……………. I guess it have to do with ……. a “sharpened love”……. ” the Mambi’s love for Cuba”……..”War and Love”……….. I like it!!!!.

    Socialism, Conservationism, Liberalism, Neoliberalism. Communism, Maoism, Laborism, Social Democracy, Christian Democracy, Fascism, Falangism, Anarchism, etc, etc…… all are political doctrines grounded (more or less) in different philosophical streams……. but…. Capitalism is the name given to the only existing economical system in this world by some writer (I don’t remember the name) and later used by Carl Marx to design this economical system.
    In other words………. there is only an economical system: Market Economy or Capitalism…….. there is no more economical system……… If you try to find another economical system you will find nothing but political doctrines.
    All those above named political doctrines have to use capitalism as theirs economical system because is the only that exist. They can try to abort, change, destroy or disguise it but at the end they have to get back and resuscitate the capitalism because if not they die economically and of course they will die as doctrine, as political system. That’s why you see the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Cuba get married with the international capital and foment a wild capitalism in their countries in order of surviving.
    You are right, capitalism have to be tamed. You can let it drive it self because you only going to create a monster. Now you get to grab a political doctrine in order to tame the capitalism….. which one is better?….. it is something that have to be found yet. The history teaches that Communism, Fascism, Anarchism, Falangism, Maoism and the most extreme political doctrines are not a good option……….

  3. I am tired and am making mistakes. So see you later.
    This day I have been on the blog regulary. There is already a new blog in Spanish that is very interesting. But the comments go in a high speed. impossible for me to react on. It seems to be more complicated there to have a exchange of ideas, because. You look and think and then there are suddenly 20 reactions more!

  4. Of course I agree in talking about us as humans , but not as humans who are univeraly progesssing from the stone age till the times we are living in now.

  5. Cold in Chicago

    Everybody is reading this blog from his or her own perspective. And reacting on different levels of the written text. So there is more than one essence of more problems. The reason that people do not stand up against the government in Cuba has more than one reason. Of course there is a lack of freedom of speech. But there are people who speak, but do not evolve in groups and organizations. I think that the reason that so many people try for instance to work in the tourist industry is because they really need the money. It is absolutely crazy. We spoke with many people with a degree in chemistry or English or otherwise educated, working in tourist shops, hotels, as guides or as taxi driver. It is openly admitted by the Cuban government that there is a lack of people in education on all levels! I do not agree in talking about us as humans. Of course I agree that we as humans are able to live a live in dignity. But it is threatened on a daily bases. I agree that progress seems possible with people sharing basic as health care and the other things you mentioned.

  6. I don’t know why many bloggers get hung up on words, instead of focusing on real issues. This is one of the things that Yoanni brings up in the blog, that is, how the regime in Cuba plays with words in order to misinform and send the population on a wild goose chase. In old Greece they used to call people who enjoyed word play “demagogues”.

    The essence of the problem is lack of freedom of speech and a total inability of the population to choose and have any say in how the country is run. Whether you are a social democrat, a republican or democrat is irrelevant, when the matter at hand supersedes by light years whatever petty differences we have which could be resolved by discourse, compromise and accepting the decision of the majority. And do this hopefully, while respecting each other, like they do in the more civilized societies.

    Now speaking of smaller matters, on the issue of whether or not the government should get involved, I commend Carlos for holding such idealistic views. I take it you are an able-bodied individual with all your faculties, and probably higher than average skill set, and this is good for you. However, lets say the government sends you to war, or you undergo a serious traffic accident and are crippled, or perhaps you turned 70 and your savings were wiped out by circumstances beyond your control and you no longer have your wits about you to go back to work. Wouldn’t you want the government to have a system in place so that when we fall on our behinds, there is a pillow in place?

    Since we as humans have reached certain level of civility and have come a long way since living in a natural state in the stone age, and can produce, as a group a certain amount of extra wealth, I would hope that in Cuba, when the dinosaurs become fossils in the not too distant future, we do take care of the frail and elderly. I also think that the population should be able to enjoy universal health care, paid for by a tax on each working citizen, just like in most other civilized countries.

    If you want the country to progress into the future without any more turmoil, you gotta think of others, otherwise it will fall into the same vicious cycle of class envy, nepotism, and corruption as existed there under Batista, which opens the door once again for characters like Chavez and Castro who’ll be wringing their hands waiting to take advantage of free speech to practice their demagoguery (word games).

  7. This is unbelievable, to ride herd over 11 million people, with your neighbors being the herder’s.
    This sounds like the police in USA who work for Goverment Drug Enforecment, your neighbor, your enemy/your friend.

  8. @ American: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I fell in love with anyone in Cuba and wouldn’t want to comment on your friends situation. I have many friends and try to keep in touch. Which is hard because of obvious reasons. I feel in love with Havana though, but she is a harsh mistress :) I just find it frustrating when young people cannot interact with each other in a normal way….like young people do in every other country in the world. People hook up, develop friendships, get used, experience pain and all of this is normal. The Cuban government is trying to shield tourists from “crime” but all it does is restrict the natural exchange of ideas, further cage the Cuban people and exasperate the situation to the point where the only way people know how to interact with each other is through unhealthy relationships based on money and power. Its fucked. I’m a queer women who met many young gay folks in Havana. They just want the freedom to love, be accepted and to learn from each other as well as from tourists and others.

    @Rene: I looooove Los Aldeanos !!!

    @Carbo Servia: Interesting. I would agree with everything you said except your final point on Capitalism. I believe that Capitalism is naturally exploitative and pits people against each other. It brings out the worst in human nature and rewards those who are able to best place themselves in an economically powerful position, irregardless of how and why they achieved that power. Capitalism is inherently undemocratic. A socialist government cannot truly exist within a capitalist economy. I was wondering if you could elaborate your position on this ?

    @Carlos: I can understand why people take this position, it seems fair at face value. But it does not take into account inherent power relationships that exist within our societies. If you consider yourself a lover of democracy, which is why I assume your on this blog and are advocating democracy within Cuba, why would you cede power to those with more money and allow them to control your government…which is the natural progression of laissez-faire capitalism and neo-liberalism as it has been practiced in the United States ? One clear example of how capitalism within the US is unfair and clearly undemocratic. In order for Capitalism to function properly you must have a certain number of unemployed people. If a certain percentage of the population are not consistently unemployed new businesses will not have a labor pool to draw from. Therefore it is partially the job of the government to keep a certain segment of the population under or unemployed. This is naturally exploitative and I would hope that anyone within their right mind would see how this under serves the American people.

  9. A very interesting text. I never thought about a concept like endophobia. But it exists. My girlfriend saw, at one of the most popular beaches of Natal, RN, Brazil (where we live), a sign that said: Tourist Police (in English!). She imagined if this police would assist a native in distress.

  10. Meral, in posts 25 and 26 you’ve beautifully captured the reason I visit Yoani’s blog regularly.

    And thanks English Translator, not only for the explanation above, but also for your ongoing commitment to translating Yoani’s words for the benefit of her English language readers.

    Thanks also to those doing the translating for the other bloggers on the DesdeCuba site. All are worth reading in their own right.

  11. In reply to patricio #18, most Canadian tourists see Cuba as just another on the long list of warm weather tourism destinations. They have no interest in seeing the real Cuba any more than they’re interested in seeing the real Mexico or the real Dominican Republic. They’re just looking for a break from the cold Canadian winter and spend most of their time on the beach or in the resort where they’re booked. I suspect most American tourists wouldn’t be much different if travel restrictions were lifted.

    Having said that, I still think the US restrictions on ordinary tourist travel are counter-productive, especially for that 20% or so of travelers who do want to see the real Cuba. As mentioned previously, for most of the Canadians I know in that 20%, seeing the real Cuba and what its people are forced to put up with is a real eye opener. Apart from the true believers, whatever romantic notions they harboured about the Cuban “revolution” tend to get dispelled.

  12. Thanks for clarifying your nebulous position.

    I believe that the Government doesn’t owe me anything. Whatever I want or desire to have, I should get it with the fruit of my own labor and expect nothing, but nothing from the government.

    Thomas Jefferson, tried to warn Americans, that, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

  13. Don’t get me wrong people!!!!!!
    When I said I am a socialist I am not talking about those “socialism” many assassins like Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung or Castro instituted in what we know as communist countries. It is not socialism, it is simple dictatorship grounded in hate, lies and repression that anyway have internally and externally to use the capitalist economy for surviving.
    When I said socialism I am thinking in France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the European Social Democracy, the Laborist Party in England…… that is the real socialism.
    The cuban constitution of 1940 was a socialist one, the cuban people before Castro was a socialist one. Many of us are socialist even without knowing it.
    What happened was that it have became a fashion among the modern dictator to steal the word socialism in order to use it for covering their crimes. That’s why we reject the word as something evil.
    Socialism I meant, the real one, is a political doctrine that respect the human been rights, look for the welfare of people and do not try to abort the natural development of the only economical system that exist: capitalism.

  14. One more: I wrote That is where blog are for . I think that is not correct. But I refer to Yoani telling us that she started the blog because she wanted to really feel free and express herself. She did not describe any political role for herself.
    I understand from her writing that she has an urge for expression, and wants to help other “bloggers” with that to… We the readers connect meanings to the text that are quite divers. That is what she makes possible for us readers.

  15. English Translator dice:
    5 Febrero 2009 a las 07:54
    Response to the frequent question: Does Yoani see these comments?

    Translator:
    Thank you for answering the question. I am sorry that I did not realize that she is not able to read the comments in real time. A few month’s ago I emailed her, because I wanted to try to take with me to Havana some books for her. But then I got a mail from her, after my stay in Cuba, noting that she is able to read mail with great intervals.
    I read the English and the Spanish blog almost every day. (I want to learn Spanish and exercise my English)
    First I try to understand the Spanish text and then I read the English to control my interpretation of the text.
    My main interest is freedom of expression and communication. From a literary point of view I like to read this blog even more. I wrote Yoani that she is really a teacher for many of us. She knows how to express daily frustrations in a language that has many layers. That is where blogs are for. Thank you translator for your very important work!

  16. Machete….There is a business freind of mine who travels South America including Cuba who told me he fell inlove in Cuba, but will no longer travel there, maybe he feels guilty because he has a beautiful wife and three young children at home in The States. I wonder how often this happens, since Cubans are not allowed to leave, most need dollars to survive and the Culture is so different from The States. He has never discussed Cuba with me again and wonder if he was band from there for this reason. His business was with trading with the goverment…Your post made me wonder how the affair could have lasted for years.

  17. Carbo Servia- I respect your opinion, I don’t care if you want to be a Leftist, Socialist, Communist or Anarchist; that is your problem.

    By the same token, I’m curious why you want to be a Socialist and also why you want a “real socialism” for your country. I would like for you to name just one country where “socialism” has work, maybe I had missed the front page news. What I want for my country is not “Real Socialism” that never existed, what I want for my country is honest elections and honest people who wants to serve my country, that is what I want, nothing less.

    I’m a Cuban immigrant living in this great EE.UU. One of the few countries in the world who really opened their arms to our cry and for that I have to be thankful. I was 25 when w I left, a young man with a clear vision of what I wanted and also about the political situation in my country. I have enjoyed the opportunity this great nation offer me and thousands of my fellow countrymen. I have experienced the brutal repression in Cuba and the freedom of this country and I prefer this country over any other so call socialist democracies.

  18. Response to the frequent question: Does Yoani see these comments?

    The short answer is no, and certainly not in “real time”. For those who may be new to the blog, the entire DesdeCuba site is blocked in Cuba. Ordinary internet users who log on from the few internet cafes cannot see any of the blogs on the site, and Yoani can not log on and look at the comments. Yoani does not post to her own blog, she emails the entries to friends overseas who post them for her. Each translator simply copies the text off the Spanish site and translates the entries into their own language — each language site is separate.

    Every now and then, when someone is traveling to Cuba who can do it, they take Yoani copies of the entire blog, including all the comments, on CDs. THEN Yoani can see the comments, but of course by then they are not recent and there are thousands and thousands of them — but I do know she is very interested in them and does read them.

    Also, I and the other translators can and do email her, from time to time. We don’t have any special ‘back door’… we simply send an email to the address on the sidebar, like any of you can do. And I know I let her know how the blog is going, what people are saying and so on. So she does get a sense in more “real time” what’s going on here. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for her to respond here.

    But the most important thing to know is — you, the readers, are the number one most important thing to her, of course, and your comments here EVENTUALLY make their way to her and are GREATLY APPRECIATED.

  19. Well, I am not a socialist. Socialism is the equal spreading of misery among the masses. I am with Enrique and favor a restoration of the Democratic Constitution of 1940, one that was based, in part, on the principles and ideals contained in the US Constitution. Fidel came to power promising a restoration of the 1940 Constitution. As soon as he got into power, he started to line out items in the Consitution of 1948 to turn it into a Socialist constitution. By 1976, a new Socialist Constitution was, in fact, enacted. I feel bad for Enrique and can understand where he is coming from with regards to his job here. Easy for these left-wingers to argue in the abstract and theoretical world. I wonder how many of them would endure under the Cuban system. I know some would as I know we have committed Communists and Socialists in some of our universities, but most ultimately wouldn’t. We should embrace what has made America great, but instead we seem to be repudiating it. Truly sad. We aren’t a perfect country, but we have been the best that the world has ever seen. Whether that endures, only time will tell. I make no presumption that it will.

    Canadian tourist, that is an interesting point you bring up. I read an article somewhere indicating that American travel experts believe that Cuba will be popular as a travel destination for Americans in the first few years but not long term, precisely for the reasons you mention. Cheers.

  20. MacheteAmor dice: 5 Febrero 2009 a las 03:23

    There are many people exiled from Cuba who consider themselves to be leftists, communists, socialists and anarchists who are opposed to the dictatorship…………
    00000000000000000000000000000

    Write me down in this list!!!!!
    I am a socialist; I want a real socialism for my country, that’s why I am against the Cuban dictatorship that instituted a capitalism of state in Cuba.

  21. There are many people exiled from Cuba who consider themselves to be leftists, communists, socialists and anarchists who are opposed to the dictatorship. The issue of human rights is not, for me, a question of socialism vs. capitalism, as it is so often debated on these blogs and forums. When I first went to Cuba with a humanitarian aid group we were shuttled around and shielded from reality. I’ve been back a few times since and consistently challenge people in my home country who are pro-Castro, especially those who have actually been to the island. I additionally argue that Cuba is not socialist, it is in fact Capitalist. In the same way China is no longer Communist.

    Certainly the separation between tourists and Cubans is only the tip of the iceberg. Everyone, especially in Havana, is forced to develop some way of getting by or extreme coping mechanisms. Be that working on the black market, engaging in prostitution, developing some petty scam or even just choosing to work as a waiter as opposed to a teacher because as a waiter you can get convertibles. My friend would rather not work at all than subject himself to the life threatening hazards on a government run construction site. All the Cubans on this board know this already, but many tourists and others who haven’t been don’t know the reality of the situation there. I wouldn’t go as far to say its worse than anywhere else in Latin America. Its a very specific situation in Cuba so its hard to compare to other countries in the region. Certainly I’ve seen some horrible living conditions in Brazil and Mexico, I’m talking about giant slums and massive groups of landless people just struggling to survive. Conditions are bad in many places around the world. But, in Cuba for a government to market itself as “the solution” to these problems and as the birthplace of Latin American revolutionary ideas is just plain hypocrisy.

  22. In my experience quite a few tourists do change their pre-conceived views of Cuba after traveling there. Personally, I found it to be a profoundly disillusioning experience, especially the second time, when I stayed in casa particulares and traveled outside the Veradero-Havana corridor.

    And tourism apartheid is only the tip of the iceberg. The desperation for convertible currency, the stupid and pointless restrictions and intrusions into people’s daily lives, and just the daily struggle to survive is beyond anything I’ve experienced anywhere else in Latin America.

    And to back up what Meral said above – all the Cubans I met appreciate tourists who try to see the real Cuba outside the exclusive resorts. On my second trip, among other things, I managed to sneak in a few copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and get a few more copies made while I was there).

  23. The last time I was in Cuba I was hanging out at a bar in Havana Vieja with a friend from Brazil. My friend is very classically beautiful (tall, thin, long hair), is black and looks very “Cuban”. That evening we were all dressed to go out with some Cuban friends in another area. We left the bar and were followed by a man who later turned out to be an undercover cop. He stopped her and another cop came out from around the corner. They all began questioning her and asking for her ID. She spoke very little Spanish, and was very upset, so my friend and I had to translate for her. Apparently the cop had been following her for a while and thought she was a Jinetera ! This is just one of many surreal, but all too common, experiences I’ve had while visiting friends in Cuba.

    Things I take for granted in the US that are hard to do in Cuba with my friends include: going out for ice cream, going on a road trip together, camping out, going to a movie, walking down the street together, going out dancing, going to a concert. And the most annoying…getting into a relationship. Either your harassed by the police at every moment or everyone assumes your friendship is based on money.

    I’m happy to argue the pros and cons of the socialist system vs. a capitalist one. But one thing is for sure, that the Cuban people live under a state of economic apartheid and authoritarian dictatorship. I wish that the leftists on this site would at least concede that much….that the Cuban people deserve and have the right to all the basic human and civil rights. And this includes the right to check their email and get an ice cream with their friends.

  24. Ernesto I liked your story not to take away from the brog but there is a tremendous amount of similarities. Who turned you in your neighbour, co-worker or a student. From the empire of the free where your telephone is bugged by the Government and email followed, do take care you may end up in jail.

  25. Dear Cold in Chicago:

    My family and I left Cuba on July 5, 1968, after waiting for six years after the Missile Crisis of 1962. I was born on July 1, 1956 in La Habana Vieja in Cuba. We (my parents and I), left the country with the familiar 44 lbs of clothing, tags of “Gusano,” (Worm), and forced to leave behind the little that we ha– and basically expelled as traitors to the “cause,” as “Political Refugees.”ve had relatives jailed, tortured, and repressed by a regime, that treats me “like a kng” if I travel to Cuba (U.S. dollars), but treats its existing citizens as second-class-citizens. If only the “American Dreamers,” would realize, that the “paradise” never existed; we were betrayed, and the Kennedy Administration,” “sold us out” for the sake of “world opinion” in April of 1961. I went back to Cuba in 1997, as I married a Cuban national–who eventually left in 2005, for “greener pastures.” However, while in touch with her family, friends, and citizens inside Cuba, I got to read proposals for restoring, the little-known, 1940 Constitution. Today, many of them are in prison I currently hold a B.A. in English from The University of Massachusetts in Boston, a Masters in Education, and a Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies from Tufts University–as well as a Certificate in Publishing and Editing from Emerson College in Boston. I am currently a certified teacher in both Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. For years, I was writing a book on the history of Cuba titled: Cuba: The Elusive Search for Democracy and Justice (1952-2007). I returned for the last time in the Summer of 2001, and can attest to the the many Blogs left here–it is all true. As I often tell my students: “What is the country that is usually ignored by the Weather Channel?” The U.S. cares little about us. Do they think, that if Bush would have sent 130,000 soldiers to liberate Cuba in 2003, they would have encountered another Iraq? Hardly. I welcome any e-mails, or other communications from fellow Cuban patriots, and other writers. I currently teach a course called Cuba: The Inside Story. I have also taught American and British Literature, History, International Relations, etc. But I am over 40 years-old, a Conservative–and “over-qualified.” I cannot find a job. Sad but true. I have several times been dismissed for my “anti -Party” beliefs–since our educational system from nearly every angle–is filled with leftists who do not allow dissent, or other points of view. I have begun to feel that the Cuba I left behind over 40 years ago–is already here in the States.

    Sinceramente,

    Ernesto Leonardo Gonzalez

  26. Yoani Sanchez is very brave and tricky! I think her picture will be at all tourist internet sites soon–to keep the truth from getting out about the Cuban revolution. It would be great to live a few weeks in her house and watch her in action–a real patriot.
    ***
    Yoani Sanchez es muy valiente and chapucero! Creo que su photo estera en todos los sitios con accesso al internet en poco tiempo–para esconder la verdad de la revolucion Cubana. Estera muy bueno a viver en su casa por unas semanas a ver ella en accion–una patriota verdadera.
    ***
    John Bibb

  27. “As I am skilled in the art of slipping through the narrowest cracks, I spoke a ridiculous hodgepodge of English and German so they sold me a card to access the web”

    Obviously very serious, but absolutely hilarious. Way to go. Sounds like at the end of the story, you were discovered to be a Cuban national. I am sort of surprised that you were just asked to leave the premises and it is kind of strange that they wouldn’t ask for a passport for the tourist to document his/her status as such. Yoani is brave and I like how these people are trying to take on the system.

    It sucks to think that I could go there and use the services because of who I am and where I live. It sucks more to think that I can use these services while the local residents cannot. As such, I wouldn’t feel right using the services as a foreigner. Ugly situation.

  28. This is a wonderful post and comments today! Thanks to everyone. There is an article on CNN.com re travel to Cuba, how it is restricted to Americans, no real changes planned. Yoani…thanks, i guess for letting us really understand the word ENDOPHOBIA.
    meral, thank you for your gentle firsthand accounts of meetings…with lots of Y’s neat. And to Cold and meral above, yes I think we can only hope that something in the hopefully near future changes this dynamic so we can easily communicate and meet these wonderful people.

  29. Cold in Chicago- If you know who you are dealing with (all three of them are either known liberals, leftists or carry inside them Marxist ideas), then It is easy to understand why these “so call leaders” go to Cuba to praise a failed system of oppression and to lend them credit, the credit that they need so bad.

    Even thought we come from the same country I tend to disagree that the embargo has failed. What has failed is the lack of free enterprise imposed by the inefficiencies of a dictatorial regime. Few days ago I posted a comment regarding the embargo and what it really means. Here is an excerpt of my comments.

    “THERE IS NO EMBARGO, the US is been trading with Cuba for many years, these figures are available at: Foreign Trade Statistics (US Trade Balance with Cuba)

    Year 2008 $660.3 Millions, 2007 $447.1, 2006 $340.5, 2005 $369, 2004 $404.1, 2003 $259.1, 2002 $145.9 Millions, other years figures are also available.

    All the above purchases are done in cash, but Cuba wish that the suckers in Washington lift the “so call embargo” so that future trade is done on credit, YES, CREDIT. Why? I tell you why, because Cuba wants to continue having other countries to subsidize their inefficiencies. Cuba has never, never repaid their billions of dollars in debts to countries such as: Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, China, etc… (Just to name a few)”

    I agree with you on one thing. These foreign leaders, who go to Cuba to wine and dine with the enemy, should be ashamed of themselves.

  30. Many people have a romantic idea about Cuba. Some blogs ago it was Yoani proposing a tour for tourists.
    The main idea is: living the way Cubans do. (read: except for the rich with acces to CUC’s)
    I would certainly not offer my freedom to feel what it is to be carceled in your own country, and like Yoani not being able to travel abroad. Or not being able to enrich myself by reading the book I like to read.
    But now I know that being in Cuba as a tourist and talking, looking and walk around doing some research can change the idea of Cuba. I think it realy is gonna be all right. I think there are enough people in need of the basics. I hope they are able to make contact between them in generacion Y.

  31. What I find incomprehensible is that democratically elected dignitaries from a number of countries, including Spain, Argentina and Brazil visit Cuba and pay their respects to the Maximum Leader. Is it for the money involved in trade, or do they want a place to retire such as some other failed and forgotten dictators and other infamous personalities have done? I just don’t get it. Is there any shame left in this world.

    Not that I am for the embargo, which I believe has failed. I don’t mind people from these and other countries visiting and mingling with the locals, as it is the only source of uncontaminated, candid information that they are exposed to. But why pay such level of respect to an incompetent dictator and his cohorts, who believes himself omnipotent, and the only one eligible and anointed when it comes to running the country.

    I read this blog and see Yoanni, and many other native Cuban contributors who have so much energy and imagination, and who could inspire and turn the country around, and yet, because of these old fossils’ unattainable daydreams and paranoia, are totally stalled and barricaded in their own country. Unable to reach their full potential. What a waste of manpower and imagination. Multiply the native contributors to this blog a million fold, and you’ll have thousands of small entreprenuers and businesses springing up from their officially sanctioned languid life and into production. I know this because I’ve witnessed it in Miami, where most of the population arrived penniless, having been shaken down and literally dispossessed of everything except 44 lbs of old clothing.

    I don’t mind that long ago, my family lost certain possessions. I’ve outgrown or was never really affected by the mugging that took place at the Habana airport long ago, as I left at an early age. In fact we don’t really want anything back, except the basic right of providing some economic and political freedom to the population, some of whom are my relatives, asking for remittances, because they are not allowed to produce.

    Come on Mr. Zapatero, Ms. Fernandez, don’t you have any shame?

  32. I doubt our comrades, I mean, Scottishsocialist and the gang; have an idea of why the dictatorship maintain this Apartheid along the internal embargo on the cuban people from the very beginning of the nightmare they call “revolution”
    Maybe some music make them understand.

    BEATLES

    REVOLUTION

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world

    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world

    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out?
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan

    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re all doing what we can

    But if you want money
    for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right

    You say you’ll change the constitution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change you head

    You tell me it’s the institution
    Well, you know
    You better free your mind instead

    But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
    All right, all right

    All right, all right All right, all right
    All right, all right All right, all right
    All right, all right

  33. Years ago the same exclusion of individual rights existed in South Africa and the press rightfully condemned, it is about time that the free press of the world focus on what is happening in Cuba today and have the guts to denounce it.

    This is Apartheid whether it happened in South Africa year ago or in Cuba at the present time.

  34. OBSERVATIONS OF A Tourist
    Dear Yoani,
    How brave you are. It is a shame for a country to not allow the people to these facilities. For tourist who want normal contacts with people in Cuba it is also very weird to see that the local people are discriminated. As it happens to be that you are in the wrong line as a tourist, you are told: “this is only for Cuban people”. Or: “you don’t want to go there. It is only for Cubans”. I saw a tourist protesting and a military that was very harsh shouting at the tourist. “Now you really have to go. Here you cannot use CUC’s”. He had to buy his ice-scream elsewhere in the luxury shops where the prices are doubled the moment they see a tourist entering the premises. At that way the tourist also is a slave and is deprived from the normal human urge to come in contact with the local people as much as possible. Traveling round in Cuba, I met many people who where hunting for foreigners. Speaking with them I noticed the urge for information. I told them about Generation Y and gave the addresses of blogs. One woman talked to me and told me that she would like to know her rights. Never in her live had she been able to read the art 9 in the constitution of Cuba that says: “that no one be left without access to studies, culture and sports” Nor was she able to read: in art. 16″of increasingly satisfying the material and cultural needs of society and of citizens, of promoting the flourishing of human beings and their integrity, and of serving the progress and security of the country”.
    Never in her live had the woman had the chance to even look at the constitution or hold the booklet with this text in her hands. Weirdly enough on can buy booklets with the constitution of Cuba in tourist-shops. Being interested in matters of law and constitutions, I did buy one.
    A few days later the woman with a name that starts with a Y told me her most important wish. The most important wish in her live was that she would be able to read and study the constitution of Cuba.
    Not only internet, but also ice-cream and such an uncommon article as is the constitution is for tourist only. I gave Yuneisy and Yaniris and Yolanda what did not belong to me. They all hope to one day be able to come in contact with the blogosphere, but do not know an address or a person to get in contact with. I think there is a lot of work to do for people who want normal human contacts freedom of speech and freedom of making friendship with people from other countries.
    I have several addresses of Cubans who would like to correspond and come in contact with Y.
    Webmaster A question: Is there anyone who can give me a clue what to advise them. Unfortunately my Spanish is not good enough to send this text to the Spanish page of this blog. How does the text from this English part reach Yoani. Does it reach her?

  35. Another example of the “looking-glass” world of Cuba. In many western countries, objections (not, I think, very civilized) have been raised to foreigners being allowed access facilities, such as social services, originally intended for locals. I’ve never heard of this kind of “reverse” insult over here! Bravo for circumventing it, Yoani, if only temporarily :-))

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