Latin America is about to close one of its saddest but also most confusing chapters, the same one that on occasion condemned America. The revolutions, wars, guerrillas, paramilitaries, secret agencies, CIA, hotspots, and coup d’états are to a large extent the result of what occurred in Cuba, as well as what occurred between Cuba and the United States. Five and a half decades. Sometimes behind one’s back, other times not. Blockade and stubbornness. Suspicion and mistrust. Dialectic tension. Occasional moments of exceptional deterioration. But what good was the American blockade? Who really benefited from it, if anyone? It has always been an anathema; it was also the perfect excuse for speeches — sometimes belligerent, sometimes guilty, and other times for distraction, for a common cause and affront, mostly.
Toughness and assertiveness, dead-end alleys, absurd lockdowns — it all must change, and this time, for real. The news, not in the least expected, supposes a loud knock at all the rules. Official re-establishment of relations. Unofficially, one way or another there has always been a thin, rickety thread. In the middle, the Cuban citizen, to whom the rights and status of being a citizen were pipe dream desires.
Normalcy: That which never should have been broken. The word says it all. The past, and there is a lot behind us, must remain forever buried. Negotiated detente. Immovable attitudes. There, only the regime wins, and the citizens lose. It will not be easy avoiding blocks by congressmen and above all, Republican U.S. senators, taking into account that the blockade and its legislative framework needs sufficient legal disentanglement, and where the Senate committees will not agree right off the bat with Obama’s decision.
What will happen on the island from this point forward? That is the question. Cuba has suddenly diluted the great wall that it had — a troublesome wall that was the cement and mortar for the regime and gerontocracy since the Bay of Pigs. Cuba will continue opening up, little by little. The steps begin very slowly. It cannot survive for much longer without them. The regime knows it. The Castros also know it. So do the citizens.
Nothing can be all of a sudden. The European Union has also reacted for months. The previous decade is the lost decade, the one of no dialogue. And a dictatorship always wins when the other side does not want to interact or talk. The most reluctant theses have been abandoned. A decade ago it had a noticeable Spanish accent. Today, the pendulum swings and turns. Europe knows and is aware of the opportunity that opens up, in all of its senses and contexts.
The future belongs and should belong only to the Cubans. The Cuban people, those on and off of the island. All have suffered a lot, on both sides. It is time for reconciliation and also time to take firm and decisive steps toward freedom, democracy, and dignity of human beings through their inviolable rights. Today, more than ever, help is needed from democracies to construct bridges of dialogue, understanding, reconciliation, unity and a future for a society that has seen and lived a lot.
Francis, the Jesuit pope, has been essential in this great step. There is still a lot more to be done. Let’s do it. The liberation of prisoners, spies on each side of the sea has facilitated and unleashed the news. The work that remains is immense. A new stage begins. Some will try to award themselves medals that surely don’t belong to them. They will receive profit, or will expect to, but this is not the time for vacuous, sickly sweet rhetoric. It is a great day for Cuba, as a people. All that comes from this point on will be the consequence.
That which you all imagine and many dreamed about. Step by step, the political cycle begins to change. The biological one will too, inexorably. Those who bet on closed-mindedness and wagered all on that card in these last years erred. All must change, but this time for real. Let’s give it time, but let’s also support it.