Friday, April 18, 2008

The sudden shock of cold water

My first experience at a swimming pool was with some friends at the YMCA. The water was clear and cold and I was terrified. One kid told me to just jump right in, embrace the cold, and move on. A friend suggested to gradually go in and allow my body to adjust to the environment. I tried the gradual approach first, and I grew frustrated with fear and the cold water reached my knees. Getting out of the pool, I walked over to the deep end and jumped in. The shock drove me out as quickly as I came in. Over time, I learned that the public pool water will always be cold, that I will never like the cold, and that there was no changing this fact. What I later grew to understand is that my temperament and determination to endure the sudden shock of cold water is essential. If I am not open to swimming in a pool at the cost of enduring a bit of cold, then I will not stay in the pool regardless of how I entered it.

Many of us who want a free Cuba want it done gradually and from within. However, Cuba will not change in this way. For whatever motive, Raul Castro’s alleged changes have not been gradual. Fidel’s death will not be gradual. Our high paced post-globalized world won’t wait for an internal, gradual change. No matter how much it is preached and sought for by the UN, change will not come incrementally for Cuba. There is sudden change happening in Cuba right now. No, it is not the immediate strike against a corrupt system, and it is not change that leads to immediate freedom. Rather, it is an empty reform that does nothing but entice the world and Cuba into distraction.

With Raul, there is no real change, only a new method of control. The world wants to see Cuba open up, the Vatican visits Cuba and leads the push for the release of political prisioners, and voila Raul provides reform measures to satisfy the world’s pressure. He sets into motion image based changes while simultaneously demanding the release of his 5 spies and an end to the embargo. Given that the US will do neither, Raul will take advantage and come off looking like a martyr. He is a manipulative force playing the role of a man of reform while sending bolting shocks of pointless change that lead many Cubans to a knee- jerk the response that change may not be so good. What good is to be allowed to enter hotels, own airplanes, etc. and not be given the means to achieve these things? What good is it to be offered a future without a sustainable present? Much like an unprepared individual jumping into a cold pool, the sudden shock of idle and fruitless change can cause society to demand a return to the previous and more familiar status quo.

Forced unattainable change is the issue at hand, and it’s not so much what happens, or how this happens that should be our immediate preoccupation, for these things are beyond our immediate control. Rather, how we handle each change that happens in Cuba as it unfolds makes all the difference.

I have faith that the Cuban peopleon the island will see through the deception and act accordingly. And as a Cuban-American, I urge all others who strive for a free Cuba off the island to be voice against Raul’s sudden and deceptive change. If the US, or any other nation, begins to soften under Raul’s actions, we must be an outspoken reminder that Raul was and is still an assassin. We must be an outspoken reminder that any change is not enough when Cubans are not granted the means to access the change given to them. We must be an outspoken reminder that Raul’s best intention is for his own betterment, and that any future deal made with Cuba will be a deal with and only Raul.

Elections are drawing near. There are politicians who claim that, with Raul in charge, we can now open the doors of negotiation. As citizens of USA we have the ability to voice our demands against Raul to our leaders. As Cuba being part of our heritage, culture, memories, and deep seated pain, we have the duty to strive for the well being of her future. And as one of the most influential nations in this world, we have the voice to rally the free world against Raul and say, “Your change is not enough.” Change void of substance is the mask of future deception.

One can hope that Raul will slip, and in his attempt to attain world sympathy he loses control of some reforms and Cuba finally awakens against the repression it’s been dealt for the past 50 years. Yet, it is foolish to wait for a snow ball to roll and become an avalanche on its own. The current course of resistance must be held firm. The world must know that Cubans need more then hotels and scooters. Cuba needs to be an “independent and sovereign State organized as a unitary and democratic Republic for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective welfare, and human solidarity.”[1] Until then, a lighter repression must not be applauded, cosmetic change must not be praised, and Raul must not be treated any different than his brother.

How we react lies at the heart of true reform. Change, like a sudden shock of cold water, can be jarring and lead to an immediate reaction without reflection. However, if firmly addressed, patiently pursued, and transparently exposed, then this sudden shock will dissipate, and what we will have is a beacon of light shining towards a true reform and freedom for Cuba.


Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Actually society is very much like evolution with respect to change. Societies continue on for the longest time with only tiny changes. They something occurs to cause things to change rapidly like an asteroid smashing into the planet changes the course of evolution instantly.

Why is Raul making any changes at all away from what has been their policy for 49 years? Because he has to. These will not be adequate to block the coming asteroid of change however.

John Thomas Roche said...

Astute analogy Tomás. Please allow me to follow suit.

As the asteroid is inevitable, then what truly matters is how we handle the impact. How we respond (both on the island and off) determines whether we evolve or become extinct.

CorgiGuy said...

The one thing that raul can't change is last name. The Castro brand is a deal breaker.

Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Thanks amigos. Rack up Castro's name with Hitler's name on the list of family names you won't want to be related to.

Gayle Miller said...

I was in Cuba just days before Castro took power, on vacation with my parents. This half-Hungarian, half-Scottish woman mourns the loss of that vibrant, albeit troubled, vitality destroyed by Castro's regime.

The coming storm won't restore what was lost, but the cleansing winds that will soon blow over Cuba will certainly go a long way toward the beginning of the healing and the restoration of the sense of joy I experienced on my only visit to that great island.