None of the presidents who yesterday approved the readmission of our Island to the Organization of American States held public office in 1962 when the Cuban government was expelled from that organization. However, the repeal of that resolution has found the same people who governed the fate of my parents and grandparents in power here. The Cuban people have changed greatly in the meantime: some died, others emigrated, and my generation—with its exotic “Y”—has started to see its first grey hairs. But on the podium the same name has clung to the microphones through all this time.
To our elders in the presidency, the OAS decision confronts them with a dilemma that is almost always poorly resolved. Ordered to choose between belligerency and harmony, the latter burns them like salt on the skin and drowns them like too much water in the lungs. Forged in the logic of confrontation, a possible seat in the OAS appears to them more dangerous than the barricades before which they feel so comfortable. They know that taking the seat would place them in a regional community that would support them, but that would also demand openings to the interior of the country.
Hence, Wednesday’s announcement seems to me like another hand offered, a new door opened, only to face the Cuban government’s unwillingness to accept it. John Paul II’s desire, “Let Cuba open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba,” would be accomplished if it weren’t that the first part of the phrase leaves no way forward. It seems that those at the helm of my country prefer the catchy slogan shouted so much during the sixties, “With the OAS or without the OAS, we will win the fight.” But now no one sees the fight as being for any side, the enemy fades, and the victory… ay, the victory… has come down to staying in power all this time.