After four editorials and three blog posts in less than two months, NYT unofficial lobbyist against the embargo editorial board member Ernesto Londoño met for two hours with Cuban dissidents from Yoani Sanchez’s 14ymedio:
Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents
And for two hours the staff of 14ymedio gave him an earful about life in Cuba, the lack of democracy or a free press; how changes in Cuba were more in name only and not meaningful; how young Cubans are continuing to flee the island in ever greater numbers because they don’t see a future in their own country.
One of those asking questions was Eliécer Avila, the student who, in 2008, asked Ricardo Alarcon, the President of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, several difficult questions:
Why do Cubans have to work several days to earn enough money to buy a toothbrush? Why can’t Cubans travel freely? Why is access to the Internet restricted and censored?
Those are questions the American editorialist should try to answer when he publishes an account of his encounter with these dissenting Cubans. I am sure he will, and he will explain that all this can also be blamed on the embargo. Sorry, I shouldn’t presume what Londoño is going to write — even if what he had written before has been slanted to an anti-American, pro-Cuban point of view.
The group tried explaining to Londoño why the embargo would not solve the problems of the ordinary Cubans, who according to Sánchez “have fear ingrained in their genes.”
“People in this country are very scared,” Sanchez said. They fear those who tell the government what they say in private; they are afraid of not being allowed to leave the country; of being rejected for a better job; of being told that their children cannot go to the university because “the university is for revolutionaries,” Sánchez added.
Miriam Celaya, an independent journalist, pointed out the government had allowed foreigners to invest in Cuba and grants them permits to import what they need. The same benefits are not granted to Cubans, she told Londoño.
Recently more than 30 Cuban dissidents explained why they did not agree with the premise that the solution to Cuba’s problems was for the United States to lift the embargo. They all pointed to many of the same reasons this group of six staffers from 14ymedio told Londoño.
Additionally, Sánchez’s point was that focusing on the embargo focuses on a decision outside Cuba, while she’s focusing on Cuban civil society, “on when we’ll have freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and when will the straijacket will be taken off economic freedom in this country.”
Let’s see if he paid attention.