With a brave speech via Facebook live for which she has been threatened with death, criticized in the official media, visited by Communist Party comrades, and summoned to a government office, Cuban young mother Amelia Calzadilla has awakened the giant of protesting on the island, motivating other Cuban women to also expose their daily hardships on social networks.
These public catharses have the peculiarity that they all name those responsible in the government and the power elite, who continue to project a hollow optimism while they do nothing to solve the pressing problems of the population. Problems associated to a crisis that many consider even worse than that of the 90’s so-called Special Period in Times of Peace.
Amelia’s difficulties in raising and keeping her children are endured by a majority of the Cuban families, even those that receive remittances from abroad. Problems with the supply of gas and water, with clothing, with transportation, with earning in one currency and depending on a foreign one, with an inflation rate that swallows almost the entire salary after buying just the basics. To heat up the social climate even more, prolonged blackouts spread out with the arrival of the sweltering Cuban summer, thus complicating cooking, preservation of food and sleeping without sweating profusely in a mosquito-free environment.
Cubans are subjected to all this by a parasitic caste that decided to break the communist pact to guarantee to the citizens a minimum of material security, as well as employment, free education and free health care, in exchange for faking support for the regime and keeping one’s mouth shut.
Well, Cubans like Amelia and the mothers who imitated her; like the young protesters of 11J; like those who recently chanted “Libertad” at a concert in the Ciudad Deportiva coliseum; like the students who shouted for the power to be restored in Camagüey, they all are also terminating their end of the pact: no more pretending to be “revolutionaries”, no more complicit silence.
This military-partisan-hereditary elite only seems to be interested in padding up their bank accounts and luxuries. Attesting to this are the official statistics that reveal State investments of billions of dollars in the hotel business, alongside shameful, token-like ones in health care and other public services and benefits.
The Cuban people are starving, yet the elite are in the business of building hotels that will remain empty. As Cuban economists have calculated, the cost of building a hotel room may cover the purchase of ten tractors to till the country’s idle lands.
But even if, in their selfishness, they refused to invest in remediating the nation’s dire food situation, independent farmers and rural women have been suggesting since April 2020 five simple market measures with which this sector could avert by itself the threat of famine.
Although they are still waiting for a response, the producers recently reiterated their initiative. But as the late poet and former political prisoner Raúl Rivero pointed out, evoking an old Spanish expression, the Castro power elite is like the gardener’s dog: it neither eats the vegetables in the garden nor lets others eat them either.
Right now they are not advancing towards empowering business-minded citizens. Instead, they pretend to deceive the Biden Administration’s Office of the Treasury, in charge of Cuban Assets Regulations, by disguising their friends’ businesses as independent private companies, so that they are the ones who benefit from exemptions to the embargo. As if their businesses were truly private and independent.
Cubans are showing that they are fed up with this “law of the funnel” under which they only get to know the narrow end. So no more pretending to be revolutionary and keeping your mouth shut. Yes, in Cuba the inquisitorial policy of extreme terror is alive. But so is the people’s restlessness. And it keeps growing.