To Cry for CubaBy Eileen F. Toplansky
In his book entitled I Was Cuba: Treasures from the Ramiro Fernandez Collection, author Kevin Kwan writes that "oppression becomes intolerable for the poet because the absolute expression of freedom is in the imagination. The poet who does not know freedom, imagines it...and transforms his vision into a palpable reality or perishes."
It is thus that author and blogger Yoani Sanchez writes her blog at desdecuba.com/generationy as a testimony to those who still seek freedom in Castro-dominated Cuba. The site is monitored closely by the government and is inaccessible to Cubans living on the island.
Contrary to the naive Congressional Black Caucus's praise for Cuba during their 2009 trip, the Generation Y blog is a chilling reminder of what life is truly like there. Posted on May 10, 2013 is a piece entitled "From the Jewish Museum to the Stasi Museum," wherein Sanchez reminds the reader that she comes:
It was just a few weeks ago that President Obama stated to the Ohio State graduating class that they should reject the voices they grew up with who had warned them of government tyranny. He said:
Tell that to the Cubans, the Russians, the Bulgarians, and the East Germans, who know only too well the ability of a few to control the many. Tell that to 24-year-old Cuban baseball player Misael Siverio, who defected to the United States on July 16, 2013.
Tell it to those patriotic organizations that Nat Hentoff describes in "Beyond Orwell: What are the bounds of Obama's spying?" In their open letter to all members of Congress, these 86 angry patriotic organizations resounded:
In fact, "a recent CNN poll found that 62% of Americans say 'government is so large and powerful that it threatens the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans.'"
In the Generation Y blog entry entitled "Prohibitions," the post remarks how:
As Americans incrementally lose freedoms, will the populace, in the not too distant future, have to be clandestine in their actions? Freedom of speech is already under attack in this country.
In her 2009 book Havana Real, originally published in Italian as Cuba Libere: Vivere E Scrivere All'avana, Sanchez writes that the "previous scarcity [of goods] hadn't been born of an incapacity to produce, but rather from ironclad State controls on private ingenuity."
But, sadly, Cubans "had to say good-bye to this boom in creativity and ingenuity, the moment the 'higher-ups' came to understand that economic freedom would imply, inevitably, political autonomy" (35). Thus, "swamped with high taxes, controls, and a growing list of prohibitions[,]" those in power effectively shut down private business enterprise.
Sanchez writes of "Incubating Mediocrity," where "academic ability will not be the determining factor when it comes time for students to pursue higher education." Instead, "participation in demonstrations and political/patriotic activities" will be a key parameter to determine which students excel. Is it merely a coincidence that Obama speaks so often to young people, exhorting them to support his policies? Is it possible that as more students find themselves in financial straits (brought upon by government intervention), they will look to do Obama's bidding and become ObamaCare negotiators or IRS agents to enforce government health care? In every tyranny, the Pied Piper comes to take away the children.
When reading Havana Real, a reader is hard-pressed not to compare what is the norm in Cuba with the direction of America. In "Hospitals: You bring everything?," one learns that patients fortunate enough to have family members must rely upon them to bring cleaning supplies, sheets, a fan, and medical supplies (obtained on the black market) to the hospital. So while Peter Jennings in 1989 exulted that "health care ... is available to every Cuban and it is free ... [that h]ealth and education are the revolution's great success stories," the people of Cuba know better. In fact, "the truth is that Cuban medical care has never recovered from Castro's takeover -- when the country's health care ranked among the world's best." And while infant mortality is very low in Cuba, that is in large part because Cuba has "one of the world's highest abortion rates." The government "encourages abortion of babies with disabilities[,] and infanticide is not uncommon."
Under the oppressive weight of ObamaCare, as costs rise and rationing begins, will this become the state of medicine in the United States? Already diabetics are being informed that they will be limited in the daily testing of their blood sugar and that in order to be covered, a patient has to document every single home test, which can sometimes be up to ten tests in an hour. This limit on the tests coupled with the bureaucratic nightmare is only the beginning. In 2009, Cuba closed 465 medical centers and fired their employees. In the often-touted health care system of Great Britain, up to 20 hospitals in the country are closing. Why won't it happen in America? In 2002, Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr. wrote about how the Cuban "free socialized system of medical care is in shambles, ... a disgraceful tragic regression from the once advanced medical care system ... in the pre-Castro years." Moreover:
Already U.S. doctors are retiring early, as they see the handwriting on the wall. Others are attempting to avoid the penalties of ObamaCare. Furthermore, doctors will be forced to accept lower payments, and a doctor shortage is expected by 2020.
Livid at the lack of privacy afforded Cubans, Sanchez writes in "The Patient":
The federal government, under Obama, has quietly enacted the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of America. The Federal Data Services Hub will "store names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, taxpayer status, gender, ethnicity, email addresses, and telephone numbers" as well as "tax return information and financial information from other third-party sources." The potential for abuse is enormous.
Thus, Sanchez and her fellow Cubans wait for the "anticipated reforms" which never come. In fact, she speaks of "a people whose actions are reduced to the deliberately complacent verb: to wait" (86).
In an effort to attract visitors to the Island, Sanchez creates a slogan "Come stay 'a lo cubano,'" like a Cuban. Thus, visitors would stay in dingy rooms, have a budget allowance that would be half the average monthly wage, not be able to use taxis or drive rental cars. Restaurants would be forbidden, but tourists would receive 80 grams of bread each day. And instead of spending three days in line for a ticket to travel the island, they would need to spend only one day in line for ticket. Of course, they would be prohibited from sailing or renting a surfboard "so they wouldn't end their stay 90 miles away rather than in the Caribbean 'paradise.'"
She speaks of "Linguistic Reforms" not as a philologist, but as one who can see through the euphemistic garble used to disguise the real actions of the government.
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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