The “Maintained”

It delights us to cure ourselves of that stage of life we call adolescence and, in particular, to become independent. Finding an answer to that question we have asked ourselves so often: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Able to leave home without explaining ourselves, being responsible for our own destiny, and, above all, not having to listen to any parental admonition: “As long as I am supporting you, you must do what I tell you.”

Nations that develop under the guidance of a paternalistic state run the risk of leaving their people in a kind of stagnated adolescence. The case of Cuba is one of the paradigmatic examples. We live under the national authority of a government characterized by the continuity of the people in power, who have tried to subsidize a portion of our basic necessities. With great pride, the official media touts that medical care and all levels of education are free, as well as the existence of rationing which supposedly guarantees a basic market basket.

It is understood that public funds defray this maintenance, funds generated by workers who produce what they themselves cannot touch and who are not compensated for doing so. Obviously work is not stimulating and what is earned barely stretches to cover what is subsidized. Papa State does not allow the expression of divergent opinions, much less that people organize themselves around these ideas or reach economic independence; what is worse is that he demands infinite gratitude. Fortunately, as the familiar paternalistic model has taught us, everything tends to change with the passage of time. The children grow, turn into adults, and nothing can stop what the youngest will do with the keys to the house.

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93 thoughts on “The “Maintained”

  1. Yoaní,
    Desde los EE.UU, creo que tienes mucho valor para hablar contra tu gobierno y para tu sociedad. Espero que mantengas este valor para que todo el mundo pueda ver lo que está pasando a tu país y tomar acción. ¡Buena suerte y ten cuidado!

  2. querida yoani,
    i admire you so much, you courage to speak at great risk in a Totalitarian society that allows no dissent. Tu eres un luz para todos. todos en el Mundo que respectan la Libertad. tu voz es muy claro y muy lindo. te amo.
    joel (escritor)

  3. NorteIrlanda Q – That is exactly the problem. There’s a good deal of global perception that Cuba observes principles of equality and defiance, but those principles are not in fact practiced. The point here is that propaganda has obscured the facts and the hurt and pain of an entire nation (Cuba) goes mostly unnoticed world wide.

  4. I hope that Cuba moves towards a free market, but beware of the process that you use to get there. I have lived in Russia and they have a great gap between the rich and the poor, they have what can only be described as gangster capitalism. Do not rush things because you will leave behind those principles of equality and defiance that have made Cuba so respected throughout the world (even if those principles are not practised).

  5. How do I work out the fact that it was my “comunist” family who teached me to be very tolerant and accepting of all individuals and gave me always the freedom to make my own choices?

  6. When I was a boy … my father gave me two books to read, “Ariel” & “Martin Fierro”
    Many times I wondered why those books?
    They were to me booring books, made no sense, did not attractk my attention.
    Years later when I left, I took with me a small suitcase: a pair of socks, a set of underwear, a shirt and a pair of pants, some toiletries … and “Ariel” & “Martin Fierro”
    The suitcase, clothes & toiletries I do not remember where they are … the books my father gave me … I gave to older son to read …
    And I remembered then my father’s eyes when he gave me the books, I remember his voice … “Ariel is in the air … Martin Fierro on the land”
    What I am saying may sound out there … those book were available it was free to read … free to learn from them …
    Today … what do our children read? what are their teachers giving to them?
    A phrase? a political slogan? their main twisted by sanction?
    The best education … is not because is free as cost … it is because is free for freedom …

  7. Julio:
    thru your quotes I think I can see you …
    I agree with you & have stated so often in this media; insults as a form of debate are no reasons; is not just abuse, is the impunity of anonimity.
    No matter how many times the thought & belief is put out there about the freedom of choice, the responsibilities of freedom and the accountability that goes with it … very few choose not to ignore it.
    As far as “pan con lechon” … boy do I miss the smell, the taste of it … & the alka-zelzer.
    Just a thought …

  8. The island that christopher of columbus once said it is the most beautifull island that human eyes have ever seen when was discover wich was cuba, today it is deppresive to look at the buildings the way the goverment has let them run down and the way cuban people live in poverty.In the malecon of havana when the sun sets and it rains at the same time occasionaly when you look at the horizon every thing turns gray and you wish you were somewhere also maybe having a hot chocolate or a conch chowder soup to warm up our empty stomachs.

  9. Julio – Exactly. New founding fathers and mothers. Courageous women such as Yoani Sanchez herself who exposed their freedom and their lives for a liberty that we often take for granted in America. These are the new women who stand up for our aging parents and brothers.

    It is in fact a time of change and one that will define our destiny as a nation and as the global people that we’ve become in these many years. We now find ourselves in all parts of the globe and our stories unity us.

  10. QBaninca
    Also Dr Darsi Ferrer who we have mentioned her before and is also in Prison.
    Yes we have many we need to unite I do believe that freedom is the one thing that can unite all.
    Yes, they are the new founding fathers!

  11. Julio and Cubano – I completely agree that our future will not be founded by just a few Cubans (we already tried that and it did not work). I believe, and hope that you share this belief as well – our future starts with our understanding of the present.

    For instance, how many of us know about the courageous work of Dr. Elias Biscet who rots away in a Cuban jail because he speaks the truth about a failed system? It is these men who peacefully stand for our future and who have adopted a Thoreau like posture by means of peaceful civil disobedience. Organizations like Amnesty International recognize these men for a brief period of time and are then distracted by what happens in Guantanamo by the Americans. We need to call attention to these heroes and recognize them for what they are – our new founding fathers.

  12. Cubano and QBaninca
    The future system in Cuba will not be the choice made by just a few Cubans that is what happen with Fidel Castro’s revolution. It was just his choice. The one that will give him power.

    We need a solution that gives power where it belongs back to the people.

  13. QBANINCA.
    I just got back from work and read some of your comments to my relief, I could not have expressed what I feel as good as you do, but your words are giving me hope, hope in the cuban people, cause I noticed we do want the best for our people and country, and after moving to this country I got the feeling that we were given as only solution the American style “so called democracy” and I will be very sad if this is the only future for our people, we have to learn from our mistakes, and find the wasy to make it really better, cause the american freedom is not the freedom I would like to leave as a heritage for our suffered cuban people…

  14. Hank… our musical extravaganza is getting better and better. we need to figure out the most popular shows on cuban tv over the last few decades and work them in!!!!!

  15. Getting back to our discussion concerning American style democracy, it appears that one of the most unfortunate results of 50 years of exile and failed social experiments in the island have left us with a terrible void about who we are and the nature of our heroes. This true in Cuba and in the diaspora.

    This dictatorship has managed to nearly destroy our understanding of who we are and the nature of our founding fathers. Men like Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, Calixto Garcia and many others fought and died for nothing less than our FREEDOM. It is these men that we mostly need to honor and pay tribute for their unselfish sacrifice. The Americans gave us much and we continue to enjoy their rich heritage, but our founding fathers are NOT George Washington nor Benjamin Franklin. These men could not find Cuba in a map, let along die for our nation. To honor our founding fathers is and must be part of our heritage and we must reclaim this honor from those in Cuba that have distorted this reality.

  16. Do not trade insults. Try to engage in dialog.. Insults are equivalent to violence in the Internet and as you know
    violences generates more violence.
    If after a reasonable tries of dialog they keep insulting then it may not be worthy to engage them.

  17. Hi Hank,

    When I first ran across Machetera’s blog I thought it might be Cuban-based. As it turns out Machetera is another one of those anonymous ultra-left nut cases not worth wasting time on. The blog seems to be based in Austria and is read virtually nowhere else judging by its internet traffic rank.

  18. Julio,

    Thank you for your response.

    Here is a link to the Machetera website, I am trading insults with these people, and all I want to do is engage them in conversation.

    http://machetera.wordpress.com/

    Scroll down to the article with the following title and read the comments:

    The U.S. Government and the World’s Great Media Empires Are Using “Mercenary Bloggers” in Their Offensive Against Cuba –

  19. Hank,

    Thanks you for the nice comment!
    I try to follow principles that I have learned from my parents and others I have learn on my own.

    What is the link to machetera’s site?
    I like to read what they are saying.

    sock puppet is term I am familiar with.

    read on here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockpuppet_(Internet)

    Could have two basic meanings

    1 When someone is the mouth (speaker) for someone else.
    2 When someone uses a second id to show support for the one real id that one uses.

    Those are meanings within internet context.
    I do not know of another meaning in Cuba I believe is the same meaning too.

  20. Julio,

    I like your posts, they are truthful and on the mark. You are good. I admire you for your ability to express yourself. The MLK post today was inspiring.

    I have a question for you. I have been involved in an exchange on Machetera’s blog site. My purpose there is to invite her to come here and state her views, freely and openly so we can engage her. I don’t really expect her to do this, I just want to see what will happen if I try.

    Well, the latest thing is this, one of the people who comment on her posts called me a “sock puppet.” Is this some sort of really big insult in Cuba? Sock puppet?! I mean, really. I laughed when I saw it. But maybe being called a sock puppet in Cuba is really, really bad, like having a shoe thrown at you in Iraq. If you could shed some light on this, I would appreciate it.

    Regards,
    Hank

  21. I was just reading Yoani’s twits and read this

    “And if the light at the end of the tunnel is just a train coming to crush us? … and if it’s just a mirage?”

    :-)

    I have faith the light at the end of the tunnel is not to crush us!
    There is some moment when we have to have faith in something.

    In an idea, in people.

    I do have faith in a light that speaks of freedom.

    a light that speaks of all Cubans not just a group of Cubans.

    Yes, it does looks like the circle is tightening from the Granma publication. They have no idea how much force they will give you if they do place you in prison for expressing yourself.

    Yoani, as you have noticed everything they do actually propels you more and more to the front. You are an inspiration not only to us Cubans but to many many people around the world that have the same yearning we do. They (I am talking about the elder leaders) should be grateful and proud that someone like you exist if they were really honest about been for the people.

    You are the “new man”.

    I am sure there will be a global uproar and the total repulse towards the regime if they dare to place you in prison.

  22. Further to my post in #66, wouldn’t it be incredible if we could post comments in Granma on Fidel’s “Reflections?” Think of the possibilities. Andy, artistic note to self re Rock Opera: Ballad of Fidel, set to the tune of the theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies, how’s this…

    Come and listen to a story ‘bout a guy named Fidel
    A not so poor mountaineer who had no trouble keeping his family fed,
    Then one day when we was causin’ revolution,
    Up through the ground came a bubblin’ crude.

    Honey that is, Honey Of Power, Texas tea.

    Well the first thing you know ‘ole Fidel’s a millionaire,
    Kinfolk said “Fidel move away from there!”
    Said “Havana is the place you ought to be”
    So he loaded up his truck and moved to Havanalie.

    Hills, that is. Swimmin’ pools, commie stars.

    Well now its time to say good-bye to ‘ole Fidel and all his kin.
    And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin’ in.
    You’re all invited back again to this locality
    To have a heapin’ helpin’ of their hospitality

    Havana that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

    Y’all come back now, y’hear?

  23. A quick addendum to #67 because I just clicked on the links.

    Unlike desdecuba.com, granma.cu doesn’t rank in the top 100,000 websites. You have to click on the yellow ‘get info’ button to get the ranking.

  24. One of the ironies of the Granma attack on Yoani is that only a fraction as many people outside Cuba will read it compared to those who read Yoani’s blog.

    According to data from the Alexa.com internet traffic ranking, desdecuba.com – over the past month – ranked in the top 40,000 most popular websites in the world, while Granma.cu has dropped to 117,000. So 3 times as many people worldwide are reading Yoani’s writings compared to those of her attackers in Granma. Save for Cuba itself and for some weird reason Senegal, desdecuba.com is more widely read than granma.cu in every other country in the world.

    The more Yoani is attacked by the regime, the more popular she and her blog become. The Castro regime is increasing losing the battle for worldwide public opinion even within Latin America. This is thanks in no small part to Yoani and her fellow bloggers.

    Here’s a link to the desdecuba.com ranking:
    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/desdecuba.com

    And here’s the link to the granma.cu ranking:
    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/granma.cu

  25. Here’s something interesting — I did an informal survey today of a number of news forums on the Internet. I looked at The China Daily, the Vietnam News, The BBC, New York Times, LA Times, CNN, El Pais (España), ABC (España), and a number of others. All of these news organizations, without exception, have comment sections at the end of their online news articles where readers are free to post their thoughts and reactions.

    When I checked the website for Granma International, I found no such thing. Isn’t that odd? I thought Granma was the premier newspaper of Cuba? There is No Opportunity to post comments on articles in Granma International. If I am wrong, please tell me, I could not find it. When I look at the Spanish language version of Granma, which Andy posted earlier today:

    http://www.granma.cu/index.html

    I see the article about Yaoni Sanchez, yet this particular article is not available in English. Why is that? And again, NO comments are allowed in the Spanish language version. What gives?

  26. Liam

    You are right yes we need all this freedoms that you enumerated

    But for eons humans have that ability to speak and they were not repress I am talking of the time when they use to live in caves. Is interesting to notice they use to live in very tight communities.
    Mean while repression is a modern invention. Was invented to perpetuate a person in power. That is totally incompatible with the ideas of the power of the people.
    We should never confuse the power of one person for the power of the people.

    People should still be free to choose who they want as a leader.

    Is interesting you talk about freedom from hunger and in Cuba many do not have that freedom. They go to bed hungry. Also you talk about the freedom of a roof but again many have lost the roof over their head with the hurricanes and for not being able to repair their home for lack of materials.

    So in Cuba we have the extraordinary situation that people also lack this other freedoms you talk about.

    What a painful situation for them. To have supported a revolution that has abandon them.

  27. Dear Julio de la Yncera,First you contradict yourself by stating “I do not live in Miami”so how can you opinion to what is going in Miami on a daily basis?I am not trying to misinform the readers,I am here to state my opinion,isnt what this forum is for?I could be here all day on how the Cubans act in Miami and break it down in age groups if you like,me being Cuban/American qualifies me.I also have read your posts and I commend you…Also I did not attack concubino,I expressed my opinion to his uncalled for comments about him being gay and meeting some guy here and posting nude pictures,this forum is not for those topics,this isnt blue boy magazine or other entity,I don’t think Yoani had in mind for those topics to be expressed here.

  28. Obama and his attempts to reform the health system in the USA is a very good example of what you say Qbaninca.The richest country in the world still needs to bring over 50 million of its citizens within a health safety net.

    Liam

  29. Julio – The American model has worked for America and it is certainly emblematic of how government should treat its people, but the American system is also flawed in many ways and we should not be blind to that. Cuba needs to make it own path and our rich culture – including 50 years of failure to underscore that point – should help us make a model that works for us.

  30. Qbaninca,thanks for your reply and fair point.

    Freedom of speech is fine but i have always wanted the freedom from hunger,freedom of a roof over my head,freedom from poverty. I cannot eat freedom of speech,it will not shelter me or provide for my family.

    Yes,i want freedom of speech AND i want all the other freedoms that human dignity requires.

    Freedom of speech ALONE will not change anything.

    Liam

  31. Liam
    I do think the Chinese model is not totally fair because people are still repress and dissenters are persecuted.
    I will prefer to be poor and free than rich and oppress.

    I do find my adoptive country a fascinating model to be follow.

    I am amaze by its history

    I believe very strongly in this

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

    I hope one they will also be true of my homeland
    where we will have the unalienable right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

  32. Liam – Stating that there are no black and white issues is usually a euphemism for simply accepting or selling yourself short. Freedom is a black or white issue. You either have it or you don’t. It is true that there are many children in America who lack basic educational rights and that is the fault of crooked politicians from the right and the left or in drug dealers who corrupt families with false promises of get-rich-quick promises. It is also reflected in the fact that the needs of 12 million Cubans can hardly compare in scope to the needs of 300 million Americans. Keep in mind that just Los Angeles county alone has a greater population than the entire Cuban nation.

    Black and white issues aside, it is important to focus on what is real – freedom and hope for tomorrow.

  33. Hello Julio, good to read you again,always thought provoking.

    What do you feel about the chinese economic model? ( ‘Socialist market economy with chinese characteristics’as it is known in China.) Lots of participation by chinese people,booming economy and much raised standards of living….but one party government.Is it enough to just get rich?

    And as we all know the USA government is very happy to trade there.

    Liam

  34. Cubano I am sorry but it seems to me you do not live in the US and do not know about the government programs and student loans that give opportunities to anyone that like to study. I can give you some links here if you like but the topic of debate in this blog is not to talk about the US is to talk about Cuba.
    I know that many countries in the world do have issues but that should not be excuse for Cubans not having freedom.
    Freedom is as important as education and health
    to be educated without freedom means to be doubly oppress.
    We are all born with that little gift called free will that I think is responsible with for that desired of freedom we have. Of making our on choices. Of been independent of our parents of maybe look with disapproval the eternal paternalistic state like the Cuban regime.

    Others must find the solutions to their problems. Each people should find their own path. Nobody seems to learn by someone else’s experiences but their own.

    I think Cubans have learn that nothing comes without a price.
    The price of freedom is to hight a price to pay.

  35. Cubano – This so called free world is free to the point that we’re free to fail. There are many people trying to make a dollar off our backs and we’re still just immigrants in this nation that we now call home. We’ve all made mistakes here and purchased more house than we can afford or married people who took advantage of us in some way or another, but the point is that we have a chance to land back on our feet again with time and want. That option is not so readily available to our brothers and sisters in the island. They are not free to travel, purchase homes, express their displeasure with a government they did not elect and does not represent their welfare. That is the difference. The road here is hard, but it is much harder back home and to the extent that we can lift our voices in their support is what we must do.

  36. Liam
    I agree with you that Cuba will do best in moving towards a market economy but with the full participation of all its citizens. Otherwise we will see again the rich outsiders in Cuba. I have nothing against foreign investment but for the Cubans it should be good to be considered on these plans too. It should not be restricted to just the little farm and the little restaurant.
    Cubans should have the same rights these foreigners have of having a business in their homeland. What we see in Cuba now and before is a sort of artificial apartheid against Cuban citizens. That is extremely demoralizing to my Cuban brothers and sisters. We are (Humans) equal. None should think is better than other and be above anyone else.

    As for Helms Burton I do think that the troubles the US gets is when we are not consistent with what we preach. This is the same trouble for the Cuban regime. They talk the talk but they do not walk the walk. The US does have a big difference with regards to Cuba. We change and we have normal mechanism of change in democracy and elections. Cuba does not. When you only have one party that is able to be re elected for ever and ever the same person. That is not a democracy.

    If one is to have principle one should apply them consistently. It’s OK to err because in the end we are all just humans but one has to be capable of recognizing mistakes.

  37. Hello Julio,

    On the refrigerators, my experience in my barrio was that this was highly popular and the delivery days/evenings became good social events.The old ones were inefficient and the new ones are excellent. Also people are not being pushed hard for quick payment and i certainly have not seen it as a big issue for people. However you may have other information from different areas.

    In education the schools are popular with people but there are problems.The primary schools close to homes are on the whole respected in their communities. However the new quickly trained young teachers in the basic secondary schools (11-14 years)are having problems in La Habana.The 14+ vocational schools are mixed in quality and there are some excellent 14-19 pre-university schools in La Habana.Most cuban children are in school each day and not on the streets as in many other countries.

    As i often say, it is not a ‘black and white’issue.

    Liam.

  38. Julio.
    You are right some way, but you make it sound like it’s so easy to study in “the land of the free” do not lie to people, yes there are possibilities, but do not undermine how terribly difficult is for lots of families, and how many parents do not sleep worrying if they ever will be able to make possible an education for their children, not to mention the situation in the poorest countries around the world, millions of children without any future, I understant your point, but when I see the dispair around the world, you know what, I still say thanks to Cuba for giving me an education for free, and if you do not get to be rich in Cuba from that education you have the possiblity to think like Yoani does, and help others as well, and that’s is a noble and precious thing to do…

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