This post marks the launch of a series of themed entries on the Roots of Hope blog. The current prompt is "My Wish for Cuban Youth." Here is one response.
By Miguel Cruz
I was asked to reflect on what my dream for Cuban youth was in 2011. Obvious ones such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to vote for representatives in their government came to mind. But I was stuck. Which one do I write about? What points to I bring up? How on earth do you even write a blog entry anyways? It’s not like I had to take an English course during my engineering degree (Okay, I did, but they couldn’t possibly have expected me to pay attention). The only thing I kept thinking about was the people.
Let’s think about it. Each morning, Cuban youth awake to a government that has stripped their country of the most basic human rights. There is no denying that. But then, without even knowing, a community around the world is consistently arguing about how inflict change in Cuba. Some say ‘Pa Cuba ni agua’, referring to their belief that until the repressive regime has left power, Cuba should not be assisted in any way. Others feel that reaching an untapped market of 13 million people that have been deprived of Starbucks, McDonalds, and Best Buy can help bring Cuba out of their modern day stone age. Who is correct? Neither? Both? Here is the real question.
What do the Cuban people think about all this?
No no, “This is what’s best for the Cuban people” does not answer my question. Who are we, as people living outside of Cuba, to determine how these people lives their lives? No matter what you say, shutting them out of the outside world or force feeding them western culture is determining how they live their lives. Fundamentally, all human rights abuses aside, what difference is it from what they currently have?
Let’s look ahead into a Cuban democracy. What if a Socialist Workers Party, like the one currently in power in Spain (a democracy), is elected to run the national government? What if abortions are banned by law after a nationwide vote? What if their commerce department only allows wholesale businesses to enter Cuba, allowing Cubans to develop their own fast food chains and electronic companies, rather than importing them. Would we be able to respect these choices that they themselves made?
Unfortunately, that vote will not happen today. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find out what they are thinking.
Find a way to contact a group of Cuban youth. Ask one question “If you had the freedom to do whatever you put your mind to, what would you want to do with your life?” Don’t be shocked by their silence. Chances are they have never been asked to talk about this openly before. Just wait. Listen. Someone will speak up. I promise. It’s been their dream to talk about it for a long time.
Miguel Cruz moved to Dallas, TX from Cuba when he was 2 years old. After studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, he now resides in Ft. Worth, TX.