If you don’t offer solutions, don’t you dare to use the weapon of criticism–that’s what some people tell me who, themselves, don’t offer a single remedy either.  Their tone reminds me of the boring Pioneer assemblies I had to attend during all my years of school.  When it came my turn to speak and my observations boiled over from personal things to criticisms of systemic things, someone would stop me and brusquely point out that a true revolutionary would offer solutions: Don’t complain.  Exercising judgment must be done in a constructive way, they would warn me, and with time I understood that it wasn’t a call to a worthwhile discussion but rather to conformity.

These interrupted critiques involved those problems for which not even proponents of the “useful critique” have a solution.   My slight knowledge of economic issues doesn’t allow me, for example, to venture an amendment to the unjust economic duality in which we have lived for fifteen years.  Nor do I have the scientific background to know how to resolve the wretched issue of the marabu weed growing everywhere.  Lack of experience in politics keeps me from being able to predict how effective the words of John Paul II would be: “Let Cuba open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba.”

My citizen’s sense of smell, however, has led me intuitively to discover the SOLUTION.  Only freedom of opinion will allow those who can advance remedies to dare to do so.  The economist who keeps a plan to restructure the Cuban economy in his drawer needs guarantees that he will not be punished for expressing his ideas.  All the political, social and foreign projects that are hidden because of the possible reprisals that their creators could suffer demand a space for respect.

Let everyone speak, no matter whether in complaint or in support of a proposal designed to address the problems.  Announce publicly that every Cuban can say what he thinks and propose solutions from whichever political stripe and ideological orientation he believes in.  Then they will see how the balsams appear, as complaint gives way to proposal, and how bad the chronic squashers of criticism will feel.


  1. From the US, have your blog as one homepage. Very worried yesterday. Glad to see you are up. Merry Chirstmas to you and your family (immediate and extended!).

  2. Great post Yoani. Let freedom ring. Cuba has nothing to lose but its chains, and everything to gain from letting everyone have their say. Merry Christmas everyone.

  3. May your voice ring out to any and all who may choose to listen… but then again, you get everyone talking at the same time it’s hard to listen to anyone. That’s one of the two problems with this idea of freedom — the other being anyone is just as free to voice idiotic un-constructive remarks as they are to propose a solution. The former, sadly, is easier.

  4. Wish a merry Christmas and a happy new year is a common practice in the civilized world…but fort the Cuban people, subjected to the longest tyranny known to mankind there should be only one hope for 2009: Freedom!

  5. I really hope some people that may be sympathetic to the cause in your government read this post. ALthough I doubt they’ll care or listen, but in case they do… you did a brilliant job on this one. Very to the point and 100% right. How can change, growth and remedies appear when everyone who may have ideas or solutions is too afraid to come forward?

    Speaking of Christmas wishes that everyone is leaving… I’d ask you all to visit and read a few of her posts there (the same ones as here).
    As most of you probably know being published on the Huffington post is a huge accomplishment and will help bring Generation Y to THOUSAND OF NEW READERS. Show the Huffington post we’re all interested in what Yoani has to say and they will keep publishing her.
    That would be a great christmas gift for her: Thousands of new readers! Send the address posted above to your contact list, encourage them to go, go yourself, teach your dog to go and read the Huff, post a link on your own site, do whatever you can!
    Thank you in advance, I know you’ll all do your best to help her get the word out!

  6. “Let everyone speak, no matter whether in complaint or in support of a proposal designed to address the problems.”

    That’s the problem with communism….the great scam that calls itself communism says that the only people that have the solution are those at the top and everyone under them should follow as they are told.

    I applaud your efforst and hope one day the scam society that you live under will perish and another and better one will take it’s place.


  7. “Let everyone speak, no matter whether in complaint or in support of a proposal designed to address the problems.”

    That’s the problem with communism….the great scam that calls itself communism says that the only people that have the solution are those at the top and everyone under them should follow as they are told.

    I applaud your efforts and hope one day the scam society that you live under will perish and another and better one will take it’s place.


  8. Or, as Chairman Mao said: “Let a hundred flowers bloom! Let a thousand schools of thought contend!” Unfortunately, those who took up the Chairman on his offer did not fare too well. Times change, though, and I am sure that from the Cuban people will emerge dynamic and creative solutions to the problems Yoani describes. Let’s just hope the wait is short…that we are not just “Waiting for Godot.” Then again, many interesting things happen while you are waiting, even if there is just talk, and no action!

  9. There are specific solutions and then there are systemic solutions.

    All problems can be addressed systemically, and this is the ideal way to fix social problems. But there are two major obstacles to this approach:

    1. reaching consensus on the systemic problem, and

    2. reaching consensus on the systemic solution.

    It’s unreasonable to demand that social critics propose specific solutions to specific problems if they lack access to the data required to make a detailed analysis of the situation. And this is usually the case, even in the so-called democratic developed countries.

    However, it’s not unreasonable to demand that such critics propose systemic solutions, AND to indicate their readiness to abide by such solutions themselves.

    The very first systemic impediment to finding specific solutions is lack of transparency – that is, inadequate access to information. This can arise from a number of specific situations: simple blocking of access; deliberate misinformation;mislabeling or camouflaging of information; etc.(all of which are practiced to some degree or other in even the most liberal of democracies).

    When a social critic practices any of these stratagems him/herself, they tacitly endorse the practice of governmental deception, and become nothing more than competitors for the position of tyrant.

    That is my essential critique of Yoani’s critique of the Castro regime. It deliberately distorts historical reality and misrepresents the current socio-political dynamic between Cuba and the USA. It is produced in bad faith, and therefore does not deserve the accolades of Cubans or of the friends of Cuba.

    Today, I read in the English online pages of Der Spiegel, the bitter condemnation of Fidel by three former admirers of his early leadership.,1518,598936,00.html

    What struck me about these comments was their similarity with the general tone of Yoani’s blog. All blame is placed on one person, as though he had dragged the entire Cuban population through the last 50 years single-handedly. There is no introspection, no self-searching, no consideration of the role of Cuban intellectuals, professionals, soldiers, and all other segments of Cuban society in the development of this dictatorship. And most importantly, no consideration of the role of the USA in the development of this dictatorship.

    Try to imagine yourself in the position of a young Fidel Castro, with the most powerful nation in the world trying repeatedly to assassinate you. How would you protect yourself, your associates, and your aspirations for your people? How would your attitude to dissent and civil liberties be affected? Would you be able to resist the urge to confine yourself to a smaller and smaller circle of trusted associates and thus become more and more isolated from the general population?

    Here is a simple rule for finding solutions: first, you must accurately identify the genesis of the problem.

    If you refuse, a priori, to look at all possible roots of the problem, then you are merely scapegoating, and will never find a viable solution.

    If the majority of the comments in this blog represent the sentiments and feelings of the majority of Cubans, then I mourn for Cuba. It will trade its pride and independence, its medical, educational and artistic achievements, and its culture, for some tawdry trinkets and a smorgasbord of addictions.

    I have always envied Cubans their ability to hold their heads high, perhaps especially because I was born in a city occupied by five invading armies and have never lived in a country that was not an abject vassal of another.

    Cuba’s successful struggle to maintain its independence has been a beacon of hope to small nations around the world for the past fifty years, and its transformation into just another prostrate client state of the US will be a sad event for freedom loving individuals all over the world.,1518,598936,00.html

  10. Powerful words. We need to hear that in America. Of course there are solutions, but as you pointed out so well, one has to feel free to bring solutions. If the threat of being shut-up, imprisoned, ridiculed or worse is ever-present, then solutions to problems will never be planted to grow and mature.

    In America, we are free to speak to our problems, however, with so many voices and so much information- there is little consensus and little wisdom. Citizens and their leaders give up or compromise too easily and the solutions we are left with are too often incorrect.

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