Yesterday, Yoani Sanchez, a blogger living in Cuba posted about a recent experience she and her husband Reinaldo had when they tried to board a sightseeing boat to see Cienfuegos Bay. They purchased tickets, but were denied access. Why? Because they were Cuban nationals and the revolution does not allow the workers the same freedom as visitors. I hope the words of this brave woman are illuminating.
To me it is remarkable that in a country where censorship rules, there is a small army of bloggers who are able to get their words out to the world. Here is her post, taken from www.translatingcuba.com/?p=12514, with permission, in its entirety:
We arrived at the dock half an hour early. The sun-burnt tourists began to board the boat. Rei and I reached the spectacular corner from where we took photos of that bay as big as an ocean. The dream lasted barely five minutes. When the captain heard us talking he asked if we were Cubans. He shortly informed us that we had to go ashore, “boat rides are prohibited for nationals at every marina in the country.” Rage, anger, the shame of carrying a blue passport makes us guilty — in advance — in the eyes of the law of our own nation. A feeling of deception on comparing the official discourse of a supposed opening with the reality of exclusion and stigma. We wanted to cause a scene and cling to the railing, to compel them to remove us by force, but what would it have served? My husband dusted off his French and told the group of Europeans what was happening. They looked surprised, whispered among themselves. None of them disembarked — in solidarity with the excluded — from that coastal tour of our island; none of them found it intolerable to enjoy something that is forbidden to us, its natives.
The Flipper sailed, the wake of apartheid was visible for a few seconds and then was lost among the dark waters of the bay. The face of the musician Benny Moré on a nearby poster seemed to have exchanged its smile for a sneer. On one side of his chin was the famous refrain from one of his songs: “Cienfuegos is the city I like best…” We left that place. Reinaldo defeated in his illusion and I sad that my suspicions had triumphed. We waked along the road to Punta Gorda while an idea took shape in our minds: “If Benny had lived in these times, he too would have been thrown off — like a mangy dog — from that yacht.”
It is shameful that foreigners visit Cuba knowing that Cubans are denied the same rights as tourists. I used to get angry with my Venezuelan friends when they visited Cuba. I used to tell them that, if they are not careful and let Chávez continue destroying their country, they will one day feel like criminals in their own country, just like Cubans feel today.ReplyDelete