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December Again

December Again / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on December 25, 2013

Twelve months and here we are again. Days to weigh our accomplishments
and to postpone to the new year everything we failed to finish. What has
changed in Cuba — and in each one of us — since December 2012 which we
also put on the scales? Very little and so much. In the small space of
my personal live, it seems that everything has moved at an unprecedented
pace; in the life of a nation, however, it is barely a tremor, the blink
of an eye. January started with the Immigration and Travel Reform, and
in the following months there were many times we said goodbye; now
without that sense of no return we had before, of final departure and
exile for life, it’s true, but we continue to remove names from the
telephone book at a worrying speed. Our condition of an “island in
flight” grew, this time within a legal framework that allows and
increases it.

Social differences were sharpened. The number of beggars and dumpster
divers grew. However, many modern cars began rolling down our
deteriorated streets and more than one nouveau riche spent their
vacations on the other side of the Atlantic. If anything characterized
2013, it was the polarized stories about it that we hear. Anecdotes of
families who opened luxury restaurants in the heart of Havana and of
others who can no longer drink coffee because they can’t afford the
unrationed price. Of some waiting outside a boutique to buy Adidas
sneakers and others waiting outside a dining room to be given the
leftovers to take home. We live in a time of high contrasts, days of
photos discolored by the laboratory of life. A year, also, in which the
ideological discourse distanced itself even further from reality.

Repression, for its part, increased. To the same extent that civil
society grew and began to take certain spaces. The battle for the
monopoly on information was lost by the government in 2013 and won by
clandestine networks of audiovisuals, news and digital libraries. We
were better able to learn what was happening, but, with that as a
starting point, the power to convene ourselves and come together is
still lacking by a long stretch. Life is more expensive for everyone,
privileges and perks are concentrated in an elevated elite and the fight
against corruption reached some but avoided others. Remittances from
family and friends abroad, plus the subsidies from Venezuela, allowed us
to avoid collapse, but the red ink proves that the economic reforms have
failed. At the very least they have been unable to offer Cubans a better
life, a motive for staying here.

The world offered us some lessons, among them the images from Kiev where
so many have lost their fear. Fidel Castro faded a little more in his
long living-death that has already lasted seven years. And freedom?
This, this we are going to see if we win and achieve it in 2014.

24 December 2013

Source: “December Again / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba” –
http://translatingcuba.com/december-again-yoani-sanchez/

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