Reinaldo Arenas shouted to the world in 1992 that Cubans on the island lived under the oppression of a relentless dictatorship, which persecuted political dissidents or what the regime deemed were moral dissidents (gays and others).
Decades later, Cuba remains the same. Little, if anything, has changed. I mention Reinaldo Arenas because his cry was the most powerful, but the writer is a symbol of five damned years of persecution, a persecution against the free world, the world of the arts. Arts became the enemy of the Cuban government because it no longer remained silent against the endless crimes by the regime. The strained relationship between Castro and the arts ended years of deep adoration and profit schemes on the hands of the dictator. Censorship, jail, torture, and death were tactics used by Castro to suppress any creative thought that challenged his evil government.
And it did not matter as history shows. That is and was the reality of the island. A reality that was strongly denounced in the book Antes Que Anochezca (Before Night Falls). Arenas’ voice remained unheard. Years went by and the Hollywood elite continued to visit the island, like Europeans in a Jeep admiring the beauty of the lions or the height of the giraffes. A zoo, miserable, in the end, was what the island became. Pandered by those artists in whom Reinaldo Arenas did not find an echo.
The artists on one hand and the politicians on the other. Obama, for example, only cared about the narcissistic applause of the vain world of the Ivy League and European academies. The thaw, even if it was accompanied by sitting next to the dictator enjoying a baseball game, was praiseworthy. The thaw, even if it only represented an economic relief for the communist leadership, but no freedoms for Cubans, was praiseworthy. Obama was praised for shaking the hands of a tyrant, while Trump was crucified for daring to ask for democracy for the Cuban people before handshakes.
Trump was, as expected, crucified by the media. And now the media has spoken again, with that same arrogance of the progressive Harvard academic who admires the Revolution from the comfort of his apartment in The Village. The euphoric media falsely claim that things are changing in Cuba. That now that Raul Castro is retiring, as announced at the 8th Communist Party Congress, the winds of change are in the air. “The end of an era“, says The Washington Post.
The era of what? Castroism was not Fidel, Castroism is not Raul. Castroism is Miguel Díaz-Canel, Raúl’s successor; it is the Cuban Communist Party; it is the militants, the policemen. It is the repression, the persecution against dissidents, the lack of free Internet. Castroism is the system. That era began on January 1, 1959, and has not ended.
Nothing has changed in Cuba. Nothing has ever changed in Cuba and nothing may ever change. Nothing will change, at least, until the White House marries the will that Cubans deserve to be free. Until Europe stops seeing the island as a tropical paradise and fertile land for luxury hotels that only Europeans or Americans will use. Nothing will change until the last Cuban is free. Then, we will be able to speak of a new era.