From Ferry Line to Internet Line

Key West-Havana Ferry, takein in 1951 (Miami History Archives and Research Center)

Key West-Havana Ferry, taken in 1951 (Miami History Archives and Research Center)

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 7 May 2015 – Toward the other side of the sea, that point on the horizon that so many Cubans dream of, several of the curious were gazing yesterday as they sat along Havana’s Malecon. Hours earlier word begun to spread that the United States has authorized “certain specific licenses for passenger ferry service” to Cuba. The rumor was enough for many to play with the idea of how this country would change if it were connected by boat to the other shore. A thousand and one illusions have been unleashed in recent hours, although the four ferry companies authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury have yet to receive approval from the Cuban authorities.

However, the symbolic effect of this relaxation reaches dimensions that transcend the political gesture. We live on an island and this has given the sea, for us, the character of an insurmountable frontier, a wall that isolates us from the world. When a Cuban prepares to visit another country, we rarely use the verb “to travel,” but rather appeal to a more dramatic word, salir: which means to “go out” or “get out” or even “break away.” To escape our insularity, to get to the other side, we have to saltar: “leap over.” A catamaran from Florida arriving along our coast every day would break – at least metaphorically – this geographic isolation used, for the last half century, for ideological purposes.

People in the street, however, are waiting for more than allegories. Now hopes focus on trips by Cuban-Americans becoming cheaper with the new maritime connection. Many dream that the holds of these boats can also bring the resources for private enterprise, agriculture and domestic life. “The pieces I’m lacking for my Russian-made Lada car,” Cheo, an engineer turned taxi driver, dreamed yesterday. His brother bought some Soviet car parts in Miami but he can’t send them because “they weigh too much and it’s too expensive by air.”

In the afternoon, two men were arguing in a crowded bus about whether the Cuban government would authorize a ferry landing in Havana. “Not even crazy people are going to allow that, boy,” shouted the older one, continuing his argument with, “Do you really think they’re going to let a boat with an American flag dock here?” The younger one, however, turned the conversation to his interests, ”What we need them to do, in addition to a ferry line, is put in an Internet line.” And so he finished with an ironic laugh.

Cubans appear ready to make up for lost time. To fit into the world in every way possible. To convert the sea that for so long was a barrier into a path, a road, a connection.

67 thoughts on “From Ferry Line to Internet Line

  1. Authoritarian Capitalism doesn’t sound nice, but when people are better off economically they start craving human rights, democracy etc.
    So when the usual revenue streams dry up,and all the blood has been squeezed out of Cuba, the economic model has to change if Castrismo is going to survive. That can be done, because it happened in China and Vietnam.
    I’ve been talking a lot about the inevitability of the dam breaking. However, when we’re talking about world history, soon can mean decades and centuries (Not many of the latter I think, because the world is progressing very rapidly).
    Because of the enormous economic power of the Castristas – they’re just not sharing the wealth with the Cuban people – their rule probably isn’t going to crumble very soon.

  2. yskjs:

    They definitely have no clue what’s going on in Cuba or even in their own countries and minds.

    Of all the people who’ve said “I’d like to retire in Cuba, all that free education, health care and cheap food” how many have gone to retire on a Cuban pension (10 dollars a month)?

    It’s still ZERO at last count.

    In 55 years, ZERO socialists have gone to live like an average Cuban.

    Obviously, sustainable social progress cannot be made by the politics of such deluded and selfish hypocrites.

  3. All that which Mr Weigel lists ain’t gonna happen as long as the Castros rule.
    RC suffers from vanity like the rest of us, so he’s just thrilled to be able to mingle with world leaders.
    That, however, won’t make him change in any real way…

  4. So the limits are beig pushed. That has to happen in so many ways until the flood breaks the dam.
    A word of caution however: USAID sent Bill Gross to Cuba to do things that were illegal acording to the Castristas. Calculated risk has to be taken for progress to happen, but it must be absolutely clear to everyone what the risks are.

  5. Now I’m not sure what to say, whether to laugh or cry, because I suspect that Su and Lou don’t understand what’s been going on for the last half century in Cuba. Reparations need to be paid directly to the Cuban people by giving their island back to them so that they can become normal members of the world society and economy.
    Nobody wants to give anybody anything, so the Cubans will simply take their wonderful island back when the last vestiges of a sick economy disappear. The economy killed the mighty Soviet Union, so why should Cuba be diffrent?

  6. Lou and N,O., play nicely now. Don’t get all overhyped about the conspiracy theories. The three of us are on the same side along with many others, and together we can find many connections, comparisons and paralells in many contexts, real ones.

  7. Whatever RC is getting up to now, whether it’s economy or religion, it’s too little and too late. What’s interesting is what happens after the Castro broz are gone.

  8. yskjs:

    Castro’s backers, the Chinese and Russians, have been trying to convince him to get rid of Socialism ever since the fall of the Soviet Empire.

    Fidel was very stubborn, Raul isn’t quite so stupid.

    The refusal of China and Russia to keep giving the Castros loans that are never repaid put a lot of economic pressure on them. Venezuela on the brink also threatens to dry up another of their sugar daddies.

    Besides Castro, Socialism has zero support in Cuba even within the Communist Party. They hope to install authoritarian capitalism, Chinese or Vietnamese style.

  9. Loulou F de V,

    Please read up on the Martian conspiracy with the Amish to take over the jelly bean industry (2000 BC – 2015 AD)

    Seriously, you do know that Oprah Winfrey has a lot more money and power than the richest Rothschild. And Castro has more money than all of them combined. So do many Chinese Communists.

    Unlike Chinese and Arab billionaires and dictators like Castro who can lie about their wealth, every penny of every Rothschild is accounted for and open for inspection because they live in the open democratic West.

    Castro has real power and 11 million slaves. Something you think is better than freedom and democracy.

    What I don’t understand is why you are a banker if like you say, you don’t like banks. I’m sure you don’t understand your own psyche either.

  10. Footnote to @NeutralObserver

    Visit pp167-8 of Niall Ferguson’s The House of Rothschild (1849-1999) for their hold on Spain’s economy and ressources, among other passages, but I don’t feel like reopening my book research notes so soon. Enjoy!

  11. Totally agree N.O.,the autocrats and demagogues rule at the extremes, ideolgy only being a smokescreen for their own interests.

  12. Let’s hope that RC has realized that, even though keeping socialism, the economic system has to allow for private wealth like in China and Vietnam. I see indications that it’s the case.

  13. @Neutral Observer I’m not pro-anything. I live in a quasi free social democracy and it’s a lie a lot of it. I do wish the aliens would come. Apparently, the Russians are ordering the US to reveal the truth about aliens on earth at Davos ; )

    @HumbertoCapiro I mentioned today on tumblr the book Waiting for Snow in Havana, that described a lot of the nicer villas being seized during the revolution – as a matter of fact. The problem with ideologies is that they require man to be put in practice. Man is intrinsically flawed. I mean it literally and figuratively. A woman like Celia Sanchez traded her comforts when she joined the cause.


    NATIONAL REVIEW: Castro and the Pope: A Real Conversion? – by George Weigel

    Has Cuban president Raúl Castro, once described by a senior Vatican official as a man with a soul “like a stone,” had a Damascus Road experience like Saint Paul, such that he’s now preaching the kind of politics he had long tried to destroy? Fidel Castro’s little brother and political heir was certainly suggesting as much, in remarks to the press after his May 10 visit at the Vatican with Pope Francis.

    What might the evidence of a genuine “conversion” on the part of Raúl Castro and the totalitarian regime he leads look like?

    • The Cuban government immediately releases all political prisoners, including the hundreds arrested on political charges in the months since the regime’s rapprochement with the Obama administration.
    • The Cuban government disbands the neighborhood-based Committees for the Defense of the Revolution — the tentacles of a nationwide network of surveillance, betrayal, and repression reminiscent of life under Hitler or Stalin.
    • President Castro publicly apologizes to the Ladies in White — the brave women who protest every Sunday against the imprisonment of their relatives and who are regularly beaten up by Castroite goons — and invites Berta Soler, the Ladies’ leader, to sit in a place of honor at the pope’s Mass in Havana.
    • The regime closes the Museum of the Revolution in Havana and disposes of the burlap bag that once carried the corpse of Che Guevara; the museum displays the bloodstained bag in a glass case, an obscene, sacrilegious imitation of the Shroud of Turin.
    • The Cuban government withdraws the internal-security “consultants” it has seeded throughout Latin America in support of repressive regimes in places like Venezuela and Ecuador.
    • The Cuban government ratifies the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and amends the Cuban constitution so that it no longer subordinates basic civil rights to the leading role of the Communist party.
    • The regime opens access to the Internet for everyone.
    • The Cuban press, print and online, is liberated; writers and editors are no longer subjected to harassment and imprisonment for criticizing the government.
    • The government permits newspapers and magazines from around the world to be openly distributed throughout Cuba. • Workers in enterprises owned by foreign businesses receive their wages directly from their employers, rather than through the government, thus eliminating the government’s (substantial) cut.
    Read more at:


    REUTERS: Cuba’s Castro concerned over ‘illegal’ activity at U.S. mission HAVANA – By Daniel Trotta

    Cuban President Raul Castro said on Tuesday that dissidents are receiving “illegal” training at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, an issue he raised with U.S. President Barack Obama in talks on restoring diplomatic ties.

    Castro, 83, did not say whether Cuba’s complaint would impede the move toward diplomatic relations. He suggested ambassadors could be named after Cuba comes off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism on May 29, but that the procedures were being debated.

    “What I told them, concretely to the president, what most concerns me is that they continue doing illegal things … for example, graduating independent journalists,” Castro told reporters at Havana’s international airport after seeing off visiting French President Francois Hollande.

    “They give them I don’t know how many classes, on screen, in teleconferences from the United States. I don’t know if they give them a diploma and of course they give them their corresponding monthly payment,” Castro said.

    The U.S. interests section offers free classes in journalism, English and information technology, but students are not paid. Cuba sees them as an attempt to meddle in Cuba’s internal affairs and a violation of international conventions on diplomacy.

    Cuba tightly controls its state-owned media and blocks websites run by independent journalists, who are typically critics of the one-party political system and denied journalism credentials.


  16. “Cuba should play along until it can file for financial reparations from the US for the embargo” – Loulou F de V


    THE DAILY MAIL: Castro the commie hypocrite who lives like a billionaire: He’s posed as a man of the people. But a new book reveals Cuba’s leader has led a life of pampered hedonism and a fortune as big as the Queen’s – By Guy Adams

    In a new, 338-page memoir, titled The Hidden Life Of Fidel Castro (published in France by Michel Lafon and co-authored by Axel Gyldén), Sanchez, an employee of 20 years’ standing, lifts the lid on the luxurious excesses enjoyed by the autocrat and his inner circle.
    The book portrays a man obsessed with power and money, who styled himself as a hero of the working classes while living the opulent existence of a medieval potentate.
    Unlike a gilded royal, however, the Cuban leader — whose British apologists have, by the by, included Ken Livingstone, Arthur Scargill and the late Tony Benn — managed to keep his life of luxury a closely guarded secret.
    For that, like any good dictator, he can thank the agents of a security state every bit as oppressive as that forged by dictatorial chums in Zimbabwe, China and the old Soviet Union.
    Sanchez was one of Castro’s security guards from 1977 to 1994, accompanying him on overseas trips to meet everybody from popes to U.S. presidents, and witnessing first hand his boss’s ability to exploit Cuba as a personal fiefdom.

  17. yskjs:

    You must understand that people who admire Castro are completely ignorant or mentally insane or both.

    There is little difference between a Nazi and a Communist, both live off ignorance and hatred and puff themselves up with conspiracy theories to attack the weak and helpless.

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