Wednesday, November 9, 2016

End of the Obama Era - Valuable Time Lost

End of the Obama Era: Valuable Time Lost / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 8 November 2016 – On Tuesday a new era
opens for the United States and for the rest of the nations on the
planet, while for Cuba a period of great opportunities will end, one
that the Plaza of the Revolution's stubbornness did not use to its

The normalization of relations between Washington and Havana, announced
on 17 December 2014, began a time of possibilities to improve the lives
of the Cuban people, a time that the Cuban government received with
excessive caution. Every step taken by Barack Obama was responded to
with suspicion by Raul Castro, without any lessening of political
repression and, in recent months, with a escalation in the tone of
ideological rhetoric.

The general-president has wasted the enthusiasm of the thaw, squandering
chances and delaying – with his stubbornness – the inevitable opening
that the island will experience. He has chosen entrenchment rather than
ease the iron controls that strangle the country's economic, civic and
cultural life.

When the opportunity opened for Cuban coffee growers to sell their
product in the United States, our side responded with a tirade from the
National Association of Small Farmers. Before proposals to strengthen
ties between the young people of both nations, olive-green officialdom
barricaded itself in a bitter campaign against scholarships offered by
the World Learning organization.

Google's offers to help connect the island to the internet ran up
against the monopoly of the Cuban Telecommunications Company, which only
at the end of this year will begin a "pilot project" to bring the great
World Wide Web to 2,000 homes in Old Havana. Meanwhile, censorship is
still in force against digital sites, and wifi zones maintain their high
prices and poor service.

The Plaza of the Revolution has focused its discourse on the glass half
empty. For long months it has blamed Obama for not managing to lift the
embargo or to return the Guantanamo Naval Base, a propaganda strategy of
strident demands to cover up the evidence that our neighbor to the north
has shown itself in a better mood for reconciliation.

The photos of Castro and Obama shaking hands and smiling for the cameras
matter little. The reality is far from deserving the headlines in the
foreign press, which tell us that Cuba has changed because Madonna
walked the streets of its capital, a United States soccer team shook the
stands of a stadium on the island, or that both countries are
collaborating on protecting the region's sharks.

In recent weeks, the slowdown has been felt more strongly. Cuban
authorities know that the new occupant of the White House will face many
challenges ahead. Her or his first months' agenda will focus on
emergencies such as the war in Syria, the conflict with ISIS, and the
country's own internal problems, which are neither few nor small. Cuba
will not be a priority on the agenda of the next president of the United

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins today, it will be some time
before the new president addresses the issue of the island and makes it
their own, with an imprint that could mean "freezing the thaw," or
deepening the path initiated by Obama. But the reins that keep Cuba
locked in the 20th century do not issue from the Oval Office, they are
held in the hands of an octogenarian who fears this future that awaits
us, one where he will not be.

Source: End of the Obama Era: Valuable Time Lost / 14ymedio, Yoani
Sanchez – Translating Cuba -

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