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In November 1979 (it’s been thirty years!), I published an article in the magazine “Cuba International” displayed across two pages, under the title, “Those who laughed at the blockade.” As a matter of mental hygiene I worked for some fourteen years, but I remember the central theme was the work of the innovators and rationalizers, those who with their ingenuity managed to overcome the difficulties caused by the commercial restrictions imposed on Cuba by the United States. Let me make it clear that I do not agree with the blockade.

It was the era in which we bet that “despite the blockade” we would manage to achieve all our goals. The essence of this tendency lay in the desire to show that when the decision was made the nationalize the property of Americans – the primary reason for the vindictive North American attitude – a good estimate of the consequence had been made and that the wisdom and political vision of the Maximum Leader were such that we had all the conditions to overcome the obstacles that would derive from this measure, whose justice was indisputable. I remember that I do not agree with the blockade.

I don’t have the data to allow me to support the following affirmation, but I am sure that everything that was nationalized must be left barely working, with the exception of the acres of land of the United Fruit Company which are not now inundated with the marabu weed. As we know, most of the sugar factories were renovated with soviet machinery in the seventies and eighties and then about half the plants were dismantled. Something similar happened with the soft-drink bottlers, the nickel mines, the factories and businesses that passed into the hands of the State in the first years of the revolucionary process. What didn’t disappear because it was impossible to maintain became something else by virtue of transformation. I reaffirm, I do not agree with the blockade.

I have the impression that in the political calculation made in those times we were too benevolent regarding the duration that the imperialist rancor might last, or maybe excessively optimistic about our chances of returning the blows that inevitably came our way. Who could have imagined that the socialist camp would collapse? You do know that I do not agree with the blockade?

At the United Nations they just voted overwhelmingly for a resolution condemning the blockade. The fundamental arguments are that it is the fault of this cruel policy that we cannot develop like we want to nor can we solve many urgent problems in the areas of health, education and science. Had we only known! If we could have foreseen that the consequences of these nationalizations of what now does not exist would be so serious and lasting, maybe we would not have been so radical. Let no one doubt that I do not agree with the blockade.


If I had only five seconds I would ask for freedom.

If it were three: freedom.

Two: freedom.


Claudia, Miriam, Yoani, Marta and Eugenio (standing in back)

The night of Wednesday, October 14, the Cuban alternative blogosphere had a party. We drank rum and listened to music: Los Aldeanos, Juanes, Porno para Ricardo and one or another troubador, of those who are almost never promoted because they don’t know how to be docile. The motive: once again Yoani Sanchez, who almost died of shame from all the congratulations over her mention in the Maria Moors Cabot journalism prize from Columbia University. I took satisfaction in having expected it well in advance (2008, The Year of Yoani), when I warned that nine was her lucky number. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself now about what I will surely have to do in December.

The best moment of the evening was when we heard, everyone glued to the speaker, the recording of the monologue (because it was not a dialog) of Yoani in the Immigration office in our municipality. It must already be available on Generation Y, and there are also images. Without wishing to be solemn, when we heard her brave words last night we felt proud to be there with her to hug and applaud her.

How can memory be invoked for history’s sake, just to forget it?
Former President Fidel Castro has published an apologetic reflection on the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the Popular Republic of China, ignoring the black pages. Mao Tse Tung is no longer that “old fool” whom the reflectionist himself vilified at the Plaza of the Revolution, Maoism is no longer a counter-revolutionary current, as they used to teach at the Ñico López Communist Party School in the 80’s. Who was the one who gave the order to show that Soviet film entitled The long night on China, which was responsible for informing candidates to the Party of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, the War of the Sparrows and the huge failure of the Great Step Forward?

History cannot be ignored, so it is unacceptable for anyone in their right mind to state “Our ties with China stem, however, from Marxist ideas that inspired the Cuban Revolution and were able to traverse the difficult tests of the division between the two great socialist States, which caused so much damage to the global revolutionary movement.”

So the Moncada assault was inspired by Marxism! It now appears that our ties with China passed the division test! It was my understanding that this revolution was born from the desire to overthrow a dictatorship that violated the civil and political rights of Cubans. I could have sworn that, on said division, the Party, headed back then by the current reflectionist, clearly sided with the Soviet side, spitting and trampling with hatred on what today is referred to as “the Chinese model”.

History cannot be ignored, that is why it is so hard to understand that a process accused of betraying revolutionary ideals may be worthy of being on the list of the ones who “kept the banner of socialism aloft”.

History cannot be ignored. What kind of merit does an army have, other than that of imitating Hitler, in marching at 115 goose steps per minute? How funny is it for a civilian population to conduct itself like a beehive, emulating, along its armed compatriots, the ability to achieve a high level of mass organization?
I’d rather stay with the verses of Heberto Padilla:
History is the rat that climbs the stairs every night,
History is the scoundrel
that also leaps into bed with the Great Whore.

One of the most recurring questions asked of us who are critics of the ruling system in Cuba, is there is nothing we like, some detail that deserves praise or recognition. After a painstaking analysis, including a mini survey among friends, I found some topics that managed to get an honest applause. Among them the work of meteorologists, neonatalogy, and the new Chinese traffic signals and matches. The last was the most mentioned.

It so happens that for years we have been complaining that the matches don’t light, they lose their heads, which explode or stick to our fingers once lit. The comedians have made hay with this and in the reports of the Delegates of People’s Power Assemblies of Accountability thousands of references can be found to this problem in all the municipalities in the country.

Quietly, without having mounted any political campaign and without any journalist from the official media having realized it, the matches have managed to overcome all obstacles and now they light just by rubbing them against sandpaper.

Link to Original Blog in Spanish

Please help translate

Reinaldo Escobar (1947), an independent journalist since 1989, writes from Cuba where he was born and continues to live. He received his degree in Journalism from the University of Havana in 1971 and subsequently worked for different Cuban publications. His articles can be found in various European publications, and in the digital magazines "Cuba Encuentro" and "Contodos."

Desde Aquí/From Here is a personal undertaking born from the need to write about those topics that fill my head every day but that cannot find a space in the official Cuban media.

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