Cubans of Milkless Coffee Put Their Feet on the Ground / Ivan Garcia
Posted on February 15, 2015
Ivan Garcia, Havana, 14 December 2015 — “The truce ended,” bawled a
newspaper vendor on the bustling central Calzada de 10 de Octubre, in
Leaning against a peeling wall in the lobby of an old neighborhood movie
theater, the vendor offers the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth)
to passersby who read, while they walk, an article by the historian
Elier Ramirez calling for Cubans to be cautious about the dark
intentions of the United States.
At the door of a farmers market stained with reddish earth and with
stands overflowing with pineapples, sweet potatoes and yucas, Roman, a
market clerk, reads the article seated on an iron chair.
“It’s more of the same. They want to crush Cubans’ widespread
expectations after the 17 December accords. The other day the newspaper
Granma also was marking territory, saying that our sovereignty is not
negotiable. Those people (the regime) are scared shitless. If the doors
really open, the system is going down. It won’t last as long as an ice
cube in the sun,” says Roman.
After noon, the old newspaper seller, sitting on a cardboard box in a
doorway next to an art gallery, eating a serving of rice and beans and a
slice of an omelet.
In a bag he still had more than thirty unsold newspapers. “We Cubans
don’t care much about the news any more, good or bad. There are people
who buy the newspaper to wrap up their garbage or to use as toilet
paper. The enthusiasm awakened by the December 17th news has died down.
They (those in the government) want it that way. And that’s why they’re
saying the Yankees are the enemy and the people want to go to the US,”
says the old vendor.
At El Lateral, a private restaurant on Acosta Avenue, a group of friends
were drinking Cristal beer while waiting for their Hawaiian pizzas. They
preferred to talk about soccer, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo or “The Flea”
The government’s political manipulation of the issue of relations with
the United States. They haven’t written even a comma to implement some
of the measures that could favor the owners of private businesses. They
don’t want to leave the throne. They don’t want people to live their
lives independently and to have a better standard of living. My advice:
leave Cuba. The sooner the better,” says a boy with a quirky haircut.
In a park in the Havana neighborhood of Sevillano, Daniel, retired
military, looks after his grandson riding a bicycle. “People aren’t
happy with the Cuban government’s treatment of Obama’s policy toward
Cuba. Most want the tensions to end. We’re tired of the same broken
record. Cubans want to prosper,” he says, lighting a Popular brand
“I wonder if the government thinks about the future. For the youngest
people, the Cold War is ancient history. Our differences are not theirs.
Cuban youth see the United States as an aesthetic reference and a model
life,” says the ex soldier.
When asked about the issue of democracy and human rights, the silence is
profound. “I don’t think you can pressure Raul Castro on that topic.
That political rights aren’t respected in Cuba? It’s true. But the
world, expect some dozen nations, in one way or another also violates
human rights. You have to wait for this generation of leaders to die for
there to be an opening in this land. The government has one last option:
get on the train and normalize relations. If they don’t do it, it’s
obvious to the people, who are already tired of everything,” says Daniel.
In an Internet surfing room in the old part of Havana, a
twenty-something employee who sells mobile phone cars has her own
therapy to escape the political.
“For my mental health, i don’t read the newspaper. I prefer to rent the
“packets” with soap operas, serials and movies. My personal goal is
short-term. Tonight I’m going out with a delicious “mango” (boy) who has
a car and money, and enjoy a disco. It is my present and my future. In
Cuba you can’t pick a fight. Otherwise those old guys (the Castros) will
kill you with a heart attack,” she says laughing.
The good vibrations provoked among many ordinary Cubans by the news of
December 17th is being displaced by the permanent indifference of the
olive-green regime. The desire for a radical change that could transform
their lives was just that: an illusion.
13 February 2015
Source: Cubans of Milkless Coffee Put Their Feet on the Ground / Ivan
Garcia | Translating Cuba –