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Cuba Posible: The Same Old Challenges

An event in New York featuring Cubans, both from the island and the diaspora, addressed Cuba's aspirations for development from now until 2030.


On May 26 the “Cuba and Its Current Challenges event was held in New York, organized by the Cuba Posible Laboratorio de Ideas and sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) at a facility belonging to the Open Society Foundation and with funding provided by it.

In four panels, made up mainly of Cubans, both living on the island and forming part of the diaspora, aspirations for development through 2030 were discussed, along with the quality of social change, welfare, equity and justice, how global political figures view Cuba, and, finally, if the alleged changes in Cuba hinge on power, knowledge or the agents involved.

The most interesting aspect of the event was its diversity, with divergent and even conflicting points of view expressed by those who participated. Before it had even begun, however, the regime's official blogosphere (the only one officially permitted) had already condemned the forum. Diversity and divergent ideas have always been anathema to dictatorial systems of thought. The WOLA, a self-financed organization with a long record of struggle in favor of lifting the embargo and cooperating to improve relations between Cuba and the US, was dismissed for being as "dangerous" as the Open Society Foundation, the ultra-powerful liberal foundation created and headed up by George Soros. 

With the arrogant language that characterizes all totalitarian thinking, Cuba's digital firing squads - avengers in the shadows - saw in the participants, sponsors and financiers "CIA agents," "specialists in subversion" and "old friends of the CANF (Cuban American National Foundation.)" Thus, they were able to tar with the same brush the likes of Carmelo Mesa-Lago, the most important living Cuban economist, who lives in exile; Rafael Hernández, director of the magazine Temas and a defender of the regime, who lives on the island; and Carlos Saladrigas, a Cuban-American millionaire businessman, who, after having fought the regime head-on, now promotes cooperation with the Government to promote investments in the island and improve the lives of his compatriots.

Also suffering digital assassination - never in open, clean debates featuring fair, equal conditions – were groups and people living on the island, who defended the lifting of the embargo, and dialogue. The execution of prestige knows no ethical or political limits, even including the three ambassadors participating, among them the American Jeffrey DeLaurentis. All were accused of meddling in the internal affairs of the island when, one by one, before sharing any ideas, they recognized that they were constrained precisely by their roles as diplomats. Everything seems to indicate, based on the exaggerations, lies and paranoia of those present in New York, that more than medals and awards are necessary.   

We can agree or disagree with the positions of Cuba Posible, derided by all sides with all kinds of epithets. But what one can hardly accuse the group headed by Roberto Veiga and Lenier González of is leaning to one side. Perhaps in its insular idiosyncrasy lies the dilemma.

Cuba Posible has opted to take a line that seeks the center, and many believe, on the island and off it, that this is impossible. The center for them is suspect, betrayal and apostasy. Cuba Posible proposes a Cuba beyond exclusionary ideologies, and that is unthinkable to some because there is no room in their minds for ideas that are not their own, for the social and private spheres to coexist at the same time, for State control and the entrepreneur. Cuba Posible proposes a Cuba like the group assembled in New York: as diverse in its ideas as in its races, genders and countries. And that, for others, is impossible because to think about Cuba one must live "inside," or as if he lived there.

Cuba Posible was in New York, the same city where the Cuban flag was designed, and where Jose Martí lived half of his life, and wrote almost all his work, and where Father Félix Varela was on the verge of becoming an auxiliary bishop. The city that served to raise funds for the wars of independence and the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. But for certain people New York is nothing more than the nest of the imperial eagle and its hegemonic ambitions. And, as the media holds power, thus far deploying an army of digital guerrillas, it is hard for everyday Cubans to see New York as anything else.

We do not know the "past that awaits" Cuba Posible. Most likely, it will implode, as there is enough dynamite placed at its bases to destroy it from within. The order just needs to be given. An order that suspended, some believe, because Cuba Posible has ties to important businessmen, figures on the left, and men and foundations with a long humanitarian tradition that might be useful given the looming chaos. The challenges facing Cuba Posible are the same ones always facing Cubans: overcoming personal interests, those craving recognition and dollars, and a Cuba embodied by men whose plans forsake the common good.

The challenge facing Cuba Posible today, to avoid chaos and bloodshed in Cuba, may be the same as that facing Father Félix Varela and Jose Martí in the 19th century: the irreconcilable differences between Cubans themselves. Thus, the struggle of any reconciliation project is not only against a ruthless power, but also a known and all-too-close enemy. The real, very tough battle will always be against Cubans themselves: hidden in the shadows, collaborators with those in power, the same people who let the one who taught us to think die of sorrow in St. Augustine, and used the apostle as a target in Dos Ríos.

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