After the embargo, 'for how long will the Government claim that we are still recovering?'
Although politics seems to interest ordinary Cubans less and less, for many relations with the United States are an exception, and Washington's recent abstention in the vote on the embargo at the UN has sparked surprise, or at least curiosity.
"The question now is how many decades the Government will tell us it is going to take to recover from the effects of the blockade once it no longer exists," said Orlando Jiménez. "Because, without any doubt, that will be the justification for continuing with the blockade at home. I know that hope is the last thing you lose, but here in Cuba hope was still sprouting when it was nipped in the bud."
On a lot in Cerro, some confused by the vote believed that "the blockade is over." But Nila Mercedes, one of the residents there, was more wary: "I am afraid that things here aren’t going to change due to that abstention by the Americans. Bruno's speech was more to warn about storms brewing than to announce any changes. It was the same rant, the same reproaches, and the same slogans as always. There was nothing in his words giving the people any hope."
Cuba's Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, dedicated just a couple of lines to positively assess the US's decision to abstain in the vote. As occurs every year, the foreign minister devoted most of his speech to citing figures gauging the damage done by the blockade.
Ramis Argudín was not surprised "at all" by Rodríguez Parrilla's harangue, which was "in line" with the Government's position ever "since relations were restored."
"The press and television continue with their paranoia about the imperialist, interventionist enemy. They barely see anything positive about this change in the American vote," Argudín said. "They have nothing but criticisms and reminders about the blockade, the naval base and socialism's refusal to surrender."
But "the party violating the sovereignty of this country is the Government itself, which does not allow us citizens to be sovereign and prosperous. Or perhaps they are going to blame the blockade for their offensive against the self employed," he said.
"Rodríguez Parrilla shared his experience of not being able to access an American site using Cuban servers" on the Internet. "A very nice anecdote perhaps, for foreigners, but frankly disrespectful to those who right now do not have access to dozens of sites blocked by the Cuban Government," complained Lucía Corrales.
"That has nothing to do with the embargo, and neither does the growing wave of repression against activists, journalists, artists and independent civil organizations, who are accused of being paid operatives of interventionist projects," she added.
"Who is suppressing the private sector, independent lawyers, and the rights of young Cubans to better themselves through the World Learning program? The abstention in this vote, together with that of Israel, is yet another step by the US administration in a relationship in which Raúl Castro has not yet managed to take even one," said Corrales.
Elsewhere in his speech the Foreign Minister complained about the effects of the embargo on the bank accounts of doctors in missions abroad, "but failed to mention that Raúl Castro retains 75% of the wages" earned by Cuban professionals hired by other countries, observed Antonio Ibarra.
The sale of professional services, mainly medical, is currently the Government's main source of revenue.
"I think that there is a lot hope generated by this abstention vote by the US. It remains to be seen whether the Cuban regime will refrain from maintaining the internal blockade that prevents the self employed from earning money, so they don't get rich," criticized Ibarra
In his speech at the UN, Bruno Rodríguez "did not speak for the average Cuban, but rather for the personal interests of the country's rulers. It was neither sincere nor conciliatory. "
Ánibal Tresold, an Ontario resident visiting the Island, believes that the US's "surprising abstention," whether Bruno Rodríguez likes it or not, gives some measure of faith to "every Cuban asked to buy the narrative of living for the State."
"In other words, the anguish of unemployment, where the citizen loses the right to live from his work , and is forced into undertaking the adventure of emigrating. We Cuban expatraites are not stifled by US law ... we are stifled by Cuban law," Tresold concluded.