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Appealing to an absolutely incidental phrase, the official media made it known that the Catholic Church was making efforts on behalf of prisoners and the Ladies in White. Given that the release of the political prisoners has been the most widely shared demand to the Cuban government in recent years, the news deserved more specific headlines, but that is the language of those who hold power and we can only try to interpret it.
It is speculated that from this week, perhaps starting today, a movement will begin in which the sickest prisoners will be admitted to hospitals and those who are imprisoned far from their homes will be moved to their respective provinces.
One cannot rule out “parole” and there is even talk of actual releases. All this as a result of the leaders, at the highest level, choosing as interlocutors representatives of the church hierarchy.
Cubans have bitter historical experiences related to discussions about momentous issues where all the involved parties were not invited. The two paradigmatic examples are: the Treaty of Paris in 1898, in which five Americans and five Spaniards, after 70 days of discussion, decided to transfer our national sovereignty; and the pact between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1962, which ended the presence of nuclear arms on the island. In both cases, Cubans were not invited.
There were people happy because the conflicts ended, however, and many applauded the results, interpreting the question of whether or not to invite all parties as a matter of methods and not a problem of principles.
There is little point in speculating what the results would have been if Juan Gualberto Gómez or Manuel Sanguily had been present in Paris; perhaps the Republic would have been something different. And if Raúl Roa and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez had represented Cuba in the discussions in 1962? Perhaps no one would remember the blockade and the installations at the naval base in Guantanamo would today be the provincial capital.
In these conversations between bishops and generals they are going to get positive results. There will be joy in many homes and the international pressure on the Cuban authorities will ease in response to the government’s “gesture”; but what would the results be if other people were invited?
I will venture to name some names, knowing that others would have different lists. What if we sat at this table people like Dagoberto Valdés, Elizardo Sanchez, Osvaldo Payá, Manuel Cuesta Morua? And if the Ladies in White chose a delegate to represent them? And if Pedro Argüelles attended in the name of the prisoners?
Here it makes sense to speculate, because we would not be playing with a sterile hypothesis about the past, but drawing on real possibilities about the future of the Nation. I believe that if this discussion were to occur it could conclude with the legalization of political dissent, and never again would a Cuban go to prison for expressing his ideas. Other roosters would crow, hastening the dawn.