Cuba: Dreams and realities before and after the Summit of the Americas / Juan Juan Almeida
Now that the beginning of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama is upon us I think I understand why there are so many expectations. I studied in the former USSR and I know that many optimists are living in a sort of suspense similar to that of Moscow in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan were going to meet, for the first time, in Geneva.
Although many have forgotten due to the monumental act put up by the translator who hoarded the headlines, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro met for the first time during the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Today, some think that we are making progress and others that we are on the verge of a “nervous breakdown”. The truth is that all Cubans will listen to the speeches of both leaders and will pay attention to the small details that we will only be able to see during their handshake.
To Panama will go part of Cuba’s opposition and Cubans in exile. But I think the preferred topic to speak of will be the hundred, maybe more, of actors, students, intellectuals, artists, farmers, private vendors, members of cooperatives, businessmen and academics who, also as representatives of Cuba’s civil society, were zealously selected to travel to said Summit and to dramatize an entire spectacle with a gelatinous dynamic. In this spectacle we will see one or two desertions and special acts with tones that are sentimental, democratic, multiracial, polytheistic, progressive and pluralistic.
This is what the ex Minister of Culture and current presidential adviser Abel Prieto anticpated when he said on March 17 that “the Cubans who attend the Summit in Panama have to be prepared to confront the stereotypes created around the idea that Cuba has a monolithic society.”
The story will begin when upon the end of the Summit, Cubans return to the island to confront the real scenario with the new changes in everyday life. Venezuela cut by more than half the amount of oil it sends to Cuba and although it is logical to understand that Havana and Caracas, so long as they maintain inscrutability and motivate speculation are keeping quiet, one only has to turn the page to see that there is no objective possibility for Venezuela to continue to subsidize oil while facing its own extreme difficulties.
An even worse case is Brazil; the exploration of oilfields below the ocean would provide an income of millions of euros. Based on this there were agreements signed and commitments made, Brazilian oil will be the “goal of the future” but the fall in crude oil prices and the recent scandal related to Petrobas, sank the South American giant into the worst of its crises and into a political paralysis that will have its consequences in Cuba and on the Port of Mariel megaproject which is suddenly halted due to a lack of capital.
Cuba’s medical delegations abroad will continue because the government will use the military’s budget in order to not alter any precepts. But the return of electricity blackouts, in the present circumstances in the island, where everyone likes to play at leading and democracy, will force replacing the decadent debate of the “lefts and rights” for the need to choose between “politics and economics”.
Doubtlessly, that does erode the government’s strength and will force it to retreat to allow new alternatives for the development of the citizenry, which will resourcefully find the legal and/or natural mechanisms to improve the wellbeing of self, family and nation. In that order, because the reverse is called utopia.
Translated by: P.V.M.