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Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents

Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents
Guillermo I. Martinez
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL
guimar123​@gmail.com

Cuban dissidents don’t see lifting as way to help
Once again Ernesto Londoño, the newest member of The New York Times
Editorial Board, writes about Cuba. That makes it four editorials and
now three columns in less than two months.

This time he writes how U.S. sanctions make it more difficult and
expensive for ordinary Americans to to Cuba. Of course, the Cuban
government bears no blame for the outlandish costs of these trips.

But this is not another column criticizing Londoño. This one is to
encourage him, for the Colombian-born editorial writer has done
something few of those that clamor for the U.S. to lift the embargo has
done — he has gone out and met for two hours with people inside the
island who are against the Castro government.

The information on the meeting comes from Yoani Sánchez, the
award-winning Cuban who now publishes an online newspaper called
14ymedio. It washer staff that peppered The New York Times editorialist
with a different perspective on Cuba — one that Londoño has not written
about in his pro-Castro editorials.

It was a one-way conversation as Londoño said his paper did not allow
him to grant interviews without permission. But he did listen. And for
two hours the staff of 14ymedio gave him an earful about life in Cuba,
the lack of democracy or a free press; how changes in Cuba were more in
name only and not meaningful; how young Cubans are continuing to flee
the island in ever greater numbers because they don’t see a future in
their own country.

One of those asking questions was Eliécer Avila, the student who, in
2008, asked , the of Cuba’s National Assembly
of People’s Power, several difficult questions:

Why do Cubans have to work several days to earn enough money to buy a
toothbrush? Why can’t Cubans travel freely? Why is access to the
restricted and censored?

Those are questions the American editorialist should try to answer when
he publishes an account of his encounter with these dissenting Cubans. I
am sure he will, and he will explain that all this can also be blamed on
the embargo. Sorry, I shouldn’t presume what Londoño is going to write —
even if what he had written before has been slanted to an anti-American,
pro-Cuban point of view.

The group tried explaining to Londoño why the embargo would not solve
the problems of the ordinary Cubans, who according to Sánchez “have fear
ingrained in their genes.”

“People in this country are very scared,” Sanchez said. They fear those
who tell the government what they say in private; they are afraid of not
being allowed to leave the country; of being rejected for a better job;
of being told that their children cannot go to the because
“the university is for revolutionaries,” Sánchez added.

Miriam Celaya, an independent , pointed out the government had
allowed foreigners to invest in Cuba and grants them permits to import
what they need. The same benefits are not granted to Cubans, she told
Londoño.

Recently more than 30 Cuban dissidents explained why they did not agree
with the premise that the solution to Cuba’s problems was for the United
States to lift the embargo. They all pointed to many of the same reasons
this group of six staffers from 14ymedio told Londoño.

Both groups said the changes Cuba is making are more cosmetic than real;
they say the embargo has little to do the shortages the everyday Cuban
suffers, and the ruling class does not have to endure any shortages.
They want access to the Internet. They want of ;
multi-party elections with more than one candidate running for each
office; they want an end to the repression they suffer daily.

If Londoño went to Cuba with a preconceived point of view, I doubt these
Cubans will be able to convince him. But if he is an honest broker of
ideas, I hope he has the decency to publish what these Cuban dissidents
told him.

Now all one can do is sit and wait and see what Londoño writes.

Guillermo I. Martinez lives in South Florida. His email is

Source: Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents – Sun Sentinel –
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-gmcol-oped1204-20141203-column.html

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