Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 23 March 2015 — A young Panamanian told me in detail about the two weeks he spent in Havana, the new family that welcomed him here, and his surprise at a coastal city with almost no boats. His story resembled those of many who arrive on the Island for the first time, ranging from amazement to happiness, passing through tears.
However, his most astonishing conclusion was that that, thanks to the country’s disconnection, he had been able to live that long without Internet. Fifteen days without sending an email, reading a tweet, or worrying about a “like” on Facebook. On returning to his own country, he felt as if he’d been at a technology rehab clinic.
The same thing happened to Richard Quest, the well-known presenter of the Business Traveller program on CNN. This weekend we saw the British journalist hallucinating before a 1959 Cadillac, which he classified as a real “living room on wheels.” Aside from the beauty of a car like that, and its excellent state of preservation, I don’t know if Quest is aware that he was looking at a vehicle that was preserved because of its owner’s inability to acquire another, more modern one, at a dealership.
Robinson Crusoe, abandoned on his island far from the developed world, surely kept some pieces of his shipwrecked boat, but like any human being, he deserved access to modernity and progress.
I don’t know if the world is ready for our country to cease to resemble a mid-twentieth century sepia-toned postcard. Will it accept that we no longer appear as a country of “beautiful” ruins, with people sitting around on street corners because it makes no sense to work for such low wagers, and a population smiling at tourists because, among other reasons, these foreigners have access to the longed-for hard currency? Will the world allow us to find our identity if we no longer cling to this Robinson Crusoe-like singularity?
Will the world allow us to find our identity, if we no longer cling to this Robinson Crusoe-like singularity?
I address these questions to the rest of the world’s inhabitants, and not to the Cuban government, because the latter has demonstrated that a society locked in the anomaly of a forced past is much easier for the powers-that-be to control. My fears are that Latin America, the United States, Europe and the rest of the world are not prepared for a modern, competitive Cuba that looks to the future. A country with problems, like everyone, but without that patina of the fifties that is so attractive to those nostalgic for that decade.
It is possible to stop being Robinson Crusoe, but we have to ask ourselves if the world is prepared to see us return from the shipwreck.