Cuba e os Estados Unidos

Agora que os Estados Unidos reataram as suas relações diplomáticas com a ditadura cubana, vale a pena ler o excelente artigo que o grande ensaísta americano John Jeremiah Sullivan publicou em 2012, sobre uma viagem à ilha com a sua mulher, para lá visitar a família dela:

The cook at the omelet station, when he asked where I was from and I told him, put up his fists like a boxer, as if we were about to have it out, then started laughing. He told me that he had family in the United States, in Florida. That’s what everyone says. You can’t understand the transnationally dysfunctional, mutually implicated relationship between Cuba and Miami, that defies all embargoes and policies of “definitive abandonment,” until you realize that the line often cuts through families, almost always, in fact. People make all sorts of inner adjustments. I told the man I hated the embargo (the blockade, as they call it) and thought it was stupid, which was both true and what he wanted to hear. He gave me a manly clap-grasp. I didn’t go on and say, of course, that I disliked the embargo most because it, more than anything, has kept the Castros in power for half a century, given them a ready-made Goliath for their David. Thanks to the embargo, when the Castros rail against us as an imperialist enemy, they aren’t really lying. We have in effect declared ourselves the enemy of the Cuban people and done it under the banner of their freedom, hitting Cuba in a way that, after all, makes only the people suffer, and far from punishing those in power, rewards them and buttresses their story. As for the argument that to deal with tyrants would render our foreign policy incoherent, we deal with worse every day — we’ve armed worse — and in countries that don’t have a deeply intimate history with ours, going back centuries. All this because a relatively small but highly mobilized exile community holds sway in a state that has the power to elect presidents. There was no way to gauge how much of this the man would agree with. We left it at mutually thinking the embargo sucked.

(…)On the way back to the hotel, Manuel asked what I did. When I told him I was a reporter, he said: “You’d hate it here. There is no freedom of expression here.”

He launched into a tirade against the regime. “It is basically a prison,” he said. “Everyone is afraid.”

The things he said, which I had heard many times before — that you can go to prison for nothing, that there’s no opportunity, that people are terrified to speak out — are the reason I can never quite get with my leftie-most friends on Cuba, when they want to make excuses for the regime. It’s simply a fact that nearly every Cuban I’ve ever come to know beyond a passing acquaintance, everyone not involved with the party, will turn to you at some point and say something along the lines of, “It is a prison here.” I just heard it from one of the men who worked for Erik, back in the hometown. I remarked to him that storefronts on the streets looked a little bit better, more freshly painted. It was a shallow, small-talky observation.

“No,” he said, turning his head and exhaling smoke.

“You mean things haven’t improved?” I said.

“There is no future,” he said. “We are lost.”

(…)There was a time Mariana took me to Cuba, and we went to a town called Remedios, in the central part of the island. (…)At a certain moment, a woman appeared in the passageway that led from the front room into the main part of the house, a woman with rolls of fat on her limbs, like a baby, and skin covered in moles. She walked on crutches with braces on her knees. She had a beautiful natural Afro with a scarf tied around it. She was simply a visually magnificent human being. She told us the prices of her works, and we bought a little chicken carving. She said almost nothing otherwise — she had difficulty speaking — but when we stood up to leave, she lifted a hand and spoke, or rather delivered, this sentence. It was evidently the message among all others that she deemed most essential for U.S. visitors. “I know that at present there are great differences between our peoples,” she said, “but in the future all will be well, because we are all the sons and daughters of Abraham Lincoln.”

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