A more objective view of the USA
In the year that has passed since the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, what progress has been made?
I think that from an economic point of view there is little to point to, but there must have been an increase in remittances, from family trips and exchanges, which must have meant some relief for Cuban families.
On another note, there was an expansion in Internet access and a drop in its price: 4.50 CUC to 2.00 CUC, the emergence of Wi-Fi areas, and the expansion of the Internet to doctors and other professionals. This has had significant implications from the point of view of individual freedom for many Cubans. This year a very important form of communication has also expanded: the Nauta email service via cell phones, which allows for exchanges with people all over the world, although the price remains high: a dollar per megabit of traffic. The "weekly package," access to the Internet and Nauta email, are breaking the State's information monopoly and forcing it to produce more objective journalism.
The fact that the Cuban government is in contact with the US has also forced a change in rhetoric and dispelled the feeling that the island is a besieged citadel - although the Government has continued with its propaganda, insisting that the embargo remains. It has been harder, in general, to project the image of the US as an enemy, which has made it easier for American officials to interact with sectors of the population, especially intellectuals. This has involved an erosion of the vision of the US as a country that wants to annex the island, "do Cuba in," and those kinds of notions. I think that we Cubans now have a more objective view of the US and its relationship towards Cuba.
I believe that overall there is a heightened awareness amongst the population about the need for far-reaching changes in society. For residents abroad, who have not lived under a monopoly - informative, political, economic, and in every other way - for 50 years, all this may seem insignificant, but for those who live here it is substantial.
Over the last year, what has characterized the actions of the Cuban government: changes or resistance to change?
Except for the changes I just cited, both in the economic sphere and in general, with regards to rights and civil and political freedoms there has been a tendency to avoid more profound changes, out of fear that a powerful middle class will be spawned whose thinking does not conform to the State-Party-Government line, and many hopes with regards to relations with the US have been frustrated. Many thought that the Government was going to be more flexible in terms of the possibility of American investment, especially with regards to telecommunications.
What measures beneficial to the people of the island have been implemented over the course of this year?
The main ones were expressed in the first point.
What can be expected in the short term from relations between Cuba and the USA?
I have no precise information in this regard, but I believe that the Cuban/Central American migration crisis has been deliberately and artificially created for the purpose of hampering relations between the two countries, given the Cuban Government's growing fear of the "risks" that a broad exchange of all kinds with the US could entail for their current control over Cuban society.
The phenomenon, given its unprecedented growth, has become a boomerang for the Cuban Government, as it has evidenced young people's growing desire to leave the country due to their lack of opportunities and the freedom to do what they want there.
Policymakers in Cuba may consider the fact that even without a comprehensive economic exchange and a significant expansion in relations with the US, the desire for change has increased anyway. The yearning to leave Cuba, bound for the US, has increased, as demonstrated by what is happening in Costa Rica and the overland flight of thousands of Cubans to reach that country. When that change in relations does come about, the people's rejection of the Cuban government could be irreversible. For me it already is. This would explain the migration crisis, whose full consequences we have yet to witness.