By Rogelio Madrazo Serra

I have read with interest and pain the work of Jaime Suchlicki, "Cuba after Castro." In a brutal, frank exposition, Suchlicki presents the naked truth about conditions under which Cubans subsist and the daunting tasks of reconstruction the country faces after 45 years of Castro's rule. Anyone who has followed Cuba's disastrous trajectory won't be surprised to read any of this.

In the country of José Martí and so many other devoted Cubans who gave everything to the cause of Cuban nationality and independence over the last two centuries, it is tragic to see that the dream of young and old alike today is "to have enough fula (dollars) to run to the yuma USA." The tyranny has exhausted the people, who have learned that stealing may be the only way to survive and hope is futile when punishment is exacting, like endless years in prison for peaceful objection to human rights abuses or the death sentence for stealing a boat to leave the island.

Hopelessness is an enormous obstacle to the recovery of a democratic Cuba. How long will it take to teach the values and virtues necessary for people to live and prosper in a free society? How do we teach members of the armed forces that they must be subservient to civil authorities and that abuses of human rights will not be tolerated?

Despite the grim realities of Cuba today, there are rays of hope. Take, for example, the magazine "Vitral" published in Cuba by the Pinar del Río Diocese of the Catholic Church. These men are writing, at great risk to themselves, for the people of Cuba, trying to awaken in the Cuban spirit the notion that there are rights they are entitled to as human beings, like the right to enjoy basic freedoms and live without fear. While this alone is not enough, it is a sign that the spirit of liberty and freedom is still alive in Cuba, and this flame will spread in spite of the repression that suffocates the Cuban people. To teach the people to be free and show them that there is hope are perhaps the main tasks at hand.

I hope that Mr. Suchlicki is wrong in his evaluation of the Cubans in the diaspora and their desire to recover the properties that the Castro regime confiscated 45 years ago. I cannot conceive how we could burden a transition government by asking it to resolve property problems. But as respect of private property is one of the rights that have been lost in Cuba, it is necessary for the well being of the nation that the people understand what was lost.

As Mr. Suchlicki points out, Cuba is lucky to have many sons outside Cuba who have accumulated some wealth, and I would add, a great deal of experience on how to do things right. These are resources that will help accelerate the recovery. There are many who still dream in Cuban, and they will always contribute with love and charity to help the Cuban people rise again.

Cuba should be FREE!

January 2004

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