Forced landing


To Felipe, who gave me this metaphor

This coming Saturday, July 26, Raúl Castro will speak in Santiago de Cuba.   Broadcasting live on TV, he will address a people who still remember last year’s speech in which he mentioned “structural changes,” “a glass of milk for everyone,” and “the fight against the invasive marabu weed.”  More than just listening to the announcement of new measures, we Cubans are preparing ourselves to confirm how little has been accomplished in the past twelve months.

The time for promises, and for magical solutions to overcome our underdevelopment, is definitely behind us.  The political discourse, without a doubt, has begun its descent.  But this doesn’t mean that some day it will touch down.  A man with maximum powers continues to pilot the plane, while nobody tells us, over the loudspeakers, if we are maintaining our altitude or heading into a nosedive, if we have the wind at our backs or if the engines are about the explode.  Only silence, interspersed with calls for discipline and sacrifice, comes from the speakers of this Soviet-era IL-14 airplane.

We don’t expect pirouettes in the air, nor caramels under our tongues to help us withstand the turbulent ride.  What we do want is for the pilot to show his face, to tell us our itinerary, and for us to decide the course.  We don’t need this speech on Saturday to turn into an exaltation about floating on air; we would prefer a clear report on how and when we can board a different flight.


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