Letter from a Cuban youngster to the president of the United States Barack Obama.
22 March 2016, Havana, Cuba [rough translation]
Some hours ago, I had the opportunity of listening to your speech through our national television channels, and your precise words motivated this letter, which, after reflecting on what you said, I have decided to write you.
I address you with the respect that a young Cuban feels for a man who has been able to change the history of his country regarding its foreign policy toward Cuba, which will be an indelible accomplishment for the rest of his life, even better because it will be multilaterally attained.
It pleases me very much that our countries are entering this new phase while the historic leadership of the Revolution is still present in Cuba; you should know that, if this were not so, the process would be much more complicated for the United States because Cubans would be more distrustful.
I would like to make reference to some aspects of the speech that you delivered a few moments ago in the great Alicia Alonso theatre of Havana.
The people of Cuba have always distinguished themselves from the rest of the world through the treatment of their enemies. The fragment of the poem by José Martí that you mentioned is proof of this. The same is true of the conduct maintained by commander-in-chief Fidel Castro Ruz, our army general Raúl Castro Ruz, the heroic guerrillo Ernesto Che Guevara and the immortal ‘man of the vanguard’, Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán, as well as those who offered medical attention and morally and physically respected the life of the officers and soldiers of the army of the dictator Fulgencio Batista, during the war that led to the revolutionary triumph. Therefore, respect to our opponents is not a novelty in Cuba but rather a natural characteristic of our people.
I note with approval that, after more the half a century of unbending contradictions, you today expressed in my country that the governance of Cuba is a matter for Cuba and that the United States has nothing to do with this matter. I hope that those were not just words and that the funds of your Congress, aimed at internal subversion in the island, stop being approved, that NED and the USAID stop promoting programmes against the independence and self-determination of Cuba and that the will of the Cuban people will be allowed to dictate the changes that we need and in which we are already immersed.
Your personal history – your emigrant father, your mother of modest means and your present-day position – is unquestionably an example of your personal sacrifice and will to get ahead, but sadly, this is not the history of most men like you who have grown up in United States. I personally know many more black men murdered in the United States than those achieving success in the politics of your country.
Cuba is a nation of equal opportunities, without social exclusions. As you have pointed out, it allows and promotes a similar education for boys and girls, no matter the colour of their skin or the religion or ideology of their parents. Therefore, our children can forge a future with the same possibilities, and their individual effort will determine whether they are able to achieve their objectives. The difference is that community and society promote these behaviours in the same way, and you endorse state policies in this respect.
You mentioned the end of Cold War, but it worries me that the existence of socialist or progressive nations in Latin America will become a new ‘bloc’ of contradictions. The case of Venezuela is one of the issues that exemplify what I am talking about, and I feel that the United States could commit the mistake of burying a macabre historical stage while creating a new one with the same intentions but different or mutated methods, which would be very unfortunate for our peoples.
I want to tell you, from my youth, that I consider my land a country of democracy, a country in which workers not only have voice and vote but also represent the majority. The policies of the revolution are focused on them, because the workers, peasants and us, the youngsters, are the main objects of Cuban politics, of social, economic and cultural development, and I live with certainty and pride in this.
You mentioned that our potential lies in our capacity for creation, and I agree with you. You also mentioned our capacity for moving the world, about which I would like make a brief comment. Cuba not only moves the world but has also been capable of mobilising it since 1959, and it is precisely this mobilisation that has made you change your foreign policy toward our country, because nations have allied themselves to Cuba, the leaders of Latin America have changed and, little by little, the United States has been left alone.
We know that our society is imperfect, that we should work on aspects which you have identified and many others which you could not imagine, precisely because we are a perfectible society, but we have things, Mr. President, that shine over our imperfections, and as José Martí said “the sun burns with the same light that heats it up. The sun has spots. The ungrateful ones only talk about its spots. The grateful ones talk about its light”.
You make continual references to the need to abandon the past. Cuba cannot forget the past because the past is not a burden; it is a memory, it is an impulse and it is our essence. Cuba can, by virtue of the future, sit at any table to talk about any issue, but its interlocutors should be good men, even when they are from different ideologies; they cannot be people without decorum, without honour and without pride in their homeland. Precisely because of their history, Cubans do not talk with mercenaries or stateless men who turn their back on their people by virtue of self-interest. Individuality is respected in my homeland, but, as I learned from childhood, collective interest comes above self-interest.
I would like to conclude by once more thanking you for your visit, your honesty and the charm you showed to our people, but it would be false on my part if I didn’t include, in these words, my assessment of a phrase you addressed to the army general when you said “you need not be afraid of a U.S threat”. Mr. President Barack Obama, Cuba neither had nor has any fear; the Revolution has confronted aggressions from your country for centuries without cowardice; today we face peaceful coexistence with respect and diplomacy, but the future does not frighten us; we are not afraid of the United States; this continues to be a people of ‘homeland or death’.
Receive a cordial greeting from this young Cuban.
Julio Alejandro Gomez Pereda.