Cuba in the face of a historical moment

It took Cubans a while to react to the news of renewed US-Cuba relations.

Cuba is possibly the least Americanised nation in the hemisphere, writes Gonzalez [Reuters]

The exchange of prisoners and the reopening of relations between Cuba and the United States has been striking news, a move that some see as miraculous. News that was so desired, that it seemed impossible.

A foreign friend was amazed by the quietness in Havana during the first hours. Because of the way it happened and what it means for the island, there is a feeling of parenthesis that softens opinions.

After half-a-century of progressive shortages, fatigue, and the inevitable time it will take for changes to materialise, it took regular Cubans awhile to assimilate the surprising news. Cuba is not a country of what you might call “authored opinions” with a variety of interpretations. The outcome of this event may be a continuation of opposing political opinions between those who resist the regime and those who write an obituary to it every day.

Inside Story – US-Cuba: Foes no more

Cuba and the US’ disagreement didn’t start with the Fidel Castro revolution, but with a struggle during colonial times. Cuba was the ungrateful daughter of the Spanish metropolis and the contemptuous bride of the emerging new world metropolis. The clumsy reaction of the US, which included military occupations and transnational power games such as the obstinate blockade of the island, has now suddenly lost some of its arguments. Just two days ago it was punishing banks and international companies for having relations with the island, which the US had designated as a state sponsor of terror.

Wednesday’s announcement foreshadows actions towards the normalisation of relations. This ranges from economy to diplomacy, and will require a good temper at every step. Obama’s speech acknowledges the failure of the blockade, held by successive US governments for over 50 years. On his side, the Cuban president made a call for equanimity and presented the news as patriotic and nationalistic encouragement.

It turns out that we are in front of a new stage. Cuba was, possibly, the least Americanised of the nations in the hemisphere, and it has lived a long chapter under a completely opposing ideology. Several generations of Cubans have never known the capitalistic past mythicised by its adversaries. Many have only lived under the blockade, with sacrifices, resignations and daily efforts.

It would be adventurous to attribute my impressions to the whole community, since, although I would like to be optimistic about the hopeful impact of the news, I write with the caution and life experience of a scalded cat.

Reynaldo Gonzalez is a Cuban narrator and essayist. He was awarded the Cuban Literature National Prize and Cultural Journalism National Prize. He is a member of the Language Cuban Academy and author of titles such as Al cielosometidos , La fiesta de los tiburones, Lloraresun placer and Caignet, el mashumano de los autores, and Contradanzas y latigazos.