(To the memory of Pablo Milanés. Universal poet of song. Whom I had the privilege of presenting in Puerto Rico, in a historic concert titled “De un pájaro las dos alas.”)
I return to Cuba and I have a feeling that it will be a magical reunion, after four years of absence, due to the Pandemic.
My first visit to Cuba was for the XI World Festival of Youth and Students in the summer of 1978. Since then I have shared countless times and lived for longer periods in Cuba.
The first days of this visit, I am once again struck by the impressive social peace, discipline, dignity, honesty and national pride of the citizens.
Immediately, the spirit of solidarity of a brave people who have had to face the criminal economic and financial blockade of the most powerful empire in history for more than sixty years is evident. An affront to all humanity, which opposes this attempted genocide in the middle of the twenty-first century.
This noble fighting and educated people also constructively criticizes the inefficiencies of a government besieged by the disease of bureaucratism, which needs to evolve. Only in this way will it achieve a new type of socialist democracy, which guarantees its economic sustainability and improves the quality of life.
Cuba is today a more just society, which has eliminated the exploitation of man by man of capitalism. At the same time, it extinguished the cancer of organized drug trafficking, which made it possible to significantly reduce crime and violence. This element has been vital for the general well-being of the Cuban people.
For this reason, he valued the extraordinary achievements of Cuba, beyond appearances, when I share daily with its people, walking in the streets, traveling on public transport and participating in its inspiring cultural events. He highlighted education, health, sports, biotechnology and culture, as Cuba’s extraordinary achievements.
By the way, someone who has lived the bitter experience of getting on the P9 and P10, from Havana to Boyeros, writes to you. There where the bodies are squeezed daily, much more than dancing a passionate bolero.
In addition, he valued very positively seeing the fathers and mothers accompany their children to school by the hand in the mornings, dressed in their beautiful uniforms. A practice that was lost in capitalist societies, due to the excessive use of the car and the lack of planning.
In truth, the most privileged in Cuba are the girls and boys, who cultivate their intellect and spirituality from an early age with the majestic work “The Golden Age” by José Julián Martí Perez, the Apostle of Cuba. That remains a tangible reality.
I also value the visits to the parks by the communities, in an environment so harmonious that it is not breathed in any other country that I have visited. At night, this town enjoys the numerous cultural activities, recreation and sports, as a basic human right. All in an atmosphere of social peace.
In Cuba, human and spiritual values are very different from capitalist societies, where exaggerated consumption and rampant individualism prevail. Hence, when visiting Cuba, prejudices vanish, just by sharing the daily experiences of the people.
On the other hand, today Cuba is going through a very difficult economic stage, after the pandemic and the forced confinement. The prices of food and consumer items have inflated and the cost of living has multiplied – like all countries in the world – despite the commendable efforts of the government. These fall far short to meet the pressing economic needs of the poorest sector of Cuba.
What has not changed in Cuba is the enormous cultural wealth. For these purposes, today I am participating in the 43rd Havana International Film Festival with 185 films, in the categories of fiction feature films, short films, debut feature, documentaries, unpublished scripts, posters and animation, from more than twenty countries.
Once again, the true protagonist is the people, when they pack the five selected cinemas and actively participate in the activities of this legendary event. This reality is materialized by the very low prices of its tickets, which make it accessible to everyone to attend. Cinema continues to be the favorite recreational activity in Cuba.
Let no one be deceived. The educated and healthy people of Cuba aspire to “change everything that has to be changed” as Fidel declared before his death, but they defend their well-earned Sovereignty and their Socialist Revolution.
For this reason, Cuba has become an example of resistance and dignity, for all humanity. It is up to us to be in solidarity with these people and to end the blockade once and for all, which prevents the process of social justice and the construction of socialism from advancing.
As the immortal Pablo Milanés would say: “I keep all those things, small, silent.”
With those I stay!