Represión – Cuba – Repression

Great Expectations And Some Criticism For The Reopening Of Embassies

Great Expectations And Some Criticism For The Reopening Of Embassies
14YMEDIO, Havana | Julio 01, 2015

This morning, like any other, outside the building of the United States
Interests Section in Havana, the day dawned full of people waiting to
apply for a visa to visit or settle in the neighboring country. Few of
those gathered were aware that today the date will be announced for the
opening of the embassies of the United States and Cuba in the respective
countries. After six months of negotiations, the Cuban Foreign Ministry
said Wednesday in a statement that the expected date will be 20 July.
Previously, the official press had opened the door to the possibility
that there would be an announcement, without providing an exact estimate
of the date.

Under the harsh sun of the Havana morning, people gathered with
umbrellas and sunglasses outside the office in hopes of finding their
names on the list of those who would have to go into the building for
the visa process. Nothing indicated that this day would end more than 54
years of diplomatic confrontation, they didn’t even learn of the public
appearance of the US president Barack Obama, meanwhile it was happening.

When asked about the change of the US Interests Section into an embassy,
most of those interviewed showed a tendency toward cautious optimism.
Such is the case with Ruben, a retiree who has visited Miami three times
and is going for a third visa, who said that, “This was coming, now we
have to think what is going to happen next, because changing the name of
a building is not a magic act, nor does it solve the things of now right

Consuelo, 56, was accompanying her sister who wanted to visit her
daughter who emigrated four years ago. “No, I didn’t know that today
would be the day they would say there would be an embassy, but I hope
that with this news the officials are a bit softer and give my sister a
visa,” she commented.

Felix Navarro Rodriguez, a regime opponent living in the town of Perico,
Matanzas province, believes, “They never should have established contact
between the two governments behind the backs of Cuban citizens, the
backs of those in the opposition, and the backs of the different factors
that should have been taken into account.”

However, the regime opponent believes that, as this has occurred, “There
should be a mechanism that can facilitate relations with Cubans, in a
diplomatic site totally within the law. In any event, the dissidence is
also going to have many variables against it, such as limitations on
participating in events, using the Internet navigation rooms, and taking
the courses consistently offered by the United States Interest Section
in Havana. Those of us who have taken a critical position on the
reestablishment of relations, we see that this situation will get worse.”

The symbols that have, for decades, represented the enemy will return to
Havana and some — like Ramón Estupiñán Fajardo, retired from the
Ministry of Construction and living in San Miguel del Padrón, Havana —
are not satisfied.

“I’ll never forget when we took down the American eagle from the
monument to the Maine. Now they say they will reopen the embassy and the
Yankee flag will again fly on the Malecon. I have no doubt that the
eagle will also be returned to its place, but I think this is only going
to bother me and a few of us who remember those times with emotion. It
seems to me that most people are happy, but there is a lot of naiveté in
this happiness, as long as they don’t end the blockade it’s like nothing
has happened. Another thing is that they respect us and that is not
achieved at the negotiating table.”

For Elizabeth Batista Acosta, a housewife and resident of the city of
Camagüey, the change could mean dreams, a family reunion. “I have two
brothers who I only know through photographs, because I am the youngest
of the three and they went to the United States on a raft when I was
starting elementary school,” she recalls. “They never wanted to return
and they won’t give me a visa to go see them. I don’t know how things
will be, but I imagine that if they open an embassy and the tension
between the two governments eases a little they might come to visit me
and my mother and bring flowers to the old ones at the cemetery.”

Yampier Gonzalez Cuervo, a self-employed woman who recently cancelled
her license for the food sales, insists that the opening of the embassy
“Is not that important.” This resident of Vedado in Havana believes
that, “The good will come after (…) I had a snack bar near Linea Street
and if they open the embassy I might start it up again, because I’m sure
I would have more customers. Perhaps, also, with this measure more yumas
(Americans) will come, and who knows but that one of them might fall in
love with my business and want to invest to expand it.”

“We’ve had 56 years of the same, and it’s time to change things. It will
be a long process but I believe it’s on the right track. I saw Obama’s
speech, but I was left with a lot of doubts. What will the conditions be
for the opening? When will the ambassador be named? Who will it be,”
asks Raul Medina, a bus driver from Hialeah (in Florida).”

“I came to Miami in 2003, when George W. Bush was president. I remember
very well that I could only travel to Cuba once every three years, back
then,” explains Maria Suarez, living in Miami, who had gone a long time
without seeing her family because of that law. “I hope diplomatic
relations between the two countries help Cubans from there and from here
so we can be ever more united. I don’t understand much about politics,
but I do know that we shouldn’t go backwards.”

For Marifeli Perez-Stable, a professor of sociology at Florida
International University in Miami, Obama’s announcement closes the first
stage since December 17. “The US diplomats will travel throughout the
island in order to learn about the Cuban people, civil society and, why
not, the government officials in the provinces. After 54 years of
absence, the American flag will fly at the embassy on the Malecon. The
road from now forward won’t be easy. Human rights and democracy are
unconditional values of the United States. Havana says they have their
own values. The diplomatic relations, I’m sure, will give rise to new
opportunities that will tell us who is right.”

Following the publication of the Cuban president Raul Castro’s letter to
his American counterpart, some readers of the newspaper Granma expressed
their desire to know the contents of the letter Jeffrey DeLaurentis,
chief of the United States Interest Section in Havana delivered in the
morning to the Cuban Foreign Ministry. “We expect a better future for
the Cuban people, but it seems that we will continue with the secrecy,
or perhaps Mr. Obama asked president Raul Castro not to publish his letter?”

Source: Great Expectations And Some Criticism For The Reopening Of
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