Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Yoani Sanchez – Award-winning Cuban blogger

The Election Ninety Miles Away – What's At Stake For Raul Castro

Posted: 11/05/2012 5:10 am

Friday, the Cuban press issued an aggressive statement from the Ministry

of Foreign Relations, against the United States Interests Section in

Havana (known as "SINA" from its initials in Spanish). A traditional

verbal escalation toward our neighbor to the north, accompanied this

time by a diatribe about an Internet room open to the public in its

consular site.

The place has been there for a long time and is visited by dissimilar

people. From students doing research, to independent journalists needing

to publish their news, to families of exiles who want to contact them by

email. In a country where access to cyberspace is a luxury enjoyed by

few, the long lines to access SINA's Internet center annoys the government.

But after reading the bombastic statement, one immediately questions:

Why now? If these rooms with web access have operated for almost a

decade, why this week do they appear on the cover of the newspaper

Granma? The answer points to what will happen this coming Tuesday at the

polls in the United States. This is obviously a play that anticipates

the results of the American elections.

The margin between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is narrow, as Raul

Castro's government knows well. So for months it has begun to adjust its

verbal missiles, as much against one candidate as the other. According

to official propaganda the current U.S. president is a man who "has

strengthened the imperial blockade," while his Republican opponent

represents "anti-Cuban politics. From bad to worse they warn us on all


From the Island, we look with curiosity and expectations towards

elections in our neighbor to the north. There is too much in play across

the Florida Straits. The politics of the Plaza of the Revolution defines

itself starting from opposition to Washington, which establishes a very

peculiar kind of dependence.

Raul Castro launches a timid travel and immigration reform program, and

explains he could not go further because we are besieged by the Empire.

Permission to legalize other political parties cannot be granted because

"Uncle Sam lurks." While accessing the Internet has to be gradual and

selective, so that we are not overly affected by "the Pentagon's media war."

If we analyze this perennial rivalry, we have to conclude that the fate

of Cubans has never depended on the United States more than it does now.

Our everyday life has never been so subject to the decisions of the

occupant of the oval office.

The man who sells fish on a Havana corner hopes that Obama will be

reelected, so his brother will be able to continue selling him the

special food these colorful animals require. A former political

prisoner, however, wants Romney to win because "things have to get much

worse before people will react." And the clueless teenager is more

likely to recognize the face of the White House occupant than that of

the gentleman in the checked shirt that appears on television as Fidel

Castro. Everyone is attentive, apprehensive.

With its bitter anti-imperialist discourse the Cuban government has

ended up shooting itself in the foot. For weeks the official medial has

talked more about the U.S. elections than about our own elections for

the People's Power, going on at that same time.

Intent on bringing out the negative aspects of the presidential

elections, the TV commentators have forgotten the maxim: "Nothing is

more attractive than the forbidden." And so every aggressive adjective,

every joke, every diatribe against Obama and Romney, have increased the

unusual excitement about the first Tuesday in November.

All this is also marked by the progressive loss of the importance of

Cuba in U.S. politics. The marked irrelevance of this Island has become

abundantly clear during the presidential campaign, which has devoted

almost no attention to us. That October of 1962, when nuclear missiles

forced the whole world to pay attention to the largest of the Antilles,

is in the distant past.

Now Obama's gaze is directed towards other places and the victor will

deepen this trend. Whoever is elected will first pay attention to the

economic problems within the United States and try to stabilize its

finances. The crisis in Europe will occupy a good part of his attention,

as will the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and now Syria.

Raul Castro needs to regain prominence on the agenda of his eternal

enemy, because he sees the power in it. His discourse, from Cuba and

when he travels abroad, is based on that rivalry, he cannot exist

without it. Thus, we see signs of an escalated diplomacy to force the

American president to take a position.

The political language takes on a sharp edge, the insults are polished

off, and little stabs of confrontation seek to force the next leader to

react. These are times of trying to insert himself into the priorities

of the neighbor to the north, regardless of the cost… but the strategy

isn't working.

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