Maggie Alarcón

December 17th and the Voice of Reason

In Cuba, Cuban Americans, History, Politics on December 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

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Margarita Alarcon Perea

December 17th marks the anniversary of the first year of the release of Alan Gross, the return of three Cuban prisoners unjustly jailed in US prisons and for the first time presidents from both Cuba and the United States live on their respective television networks speaking about the same thing and both on the same page.

Last year Raul Castro and Barack Obama got their acts together and decided to do something that for far too long had been silenced, they gave voice back to reason and spoke of restoring relations between their two countries.

Since that day, which on all accounts was joyous albeit an enormous surprise, much has happened in the form of restoring the diplomatic side of the relations, but not much else. Watching the debate the other night I fear much more needs to be done before November of 2017. Yet I am hopeful.

At least Cuba wasn’t mentioned openly. So maybe the two pseudo Cuban contenders for their party’s nomination have since figured out that siding with irrationality by actually bolstering the notion of how they would turn back all that has happened since last year’s televised speeches or the less Latino hopeful candidates criticizing the current President of the United States for having “given so much in exchange for nothing” or ranting about how if he were to come down to the Caribbean’s largest island before leaving office might be indicative of nothing less than …say, treason? Of course, this is an exaggeration on my part, but heck, he was accused of not being “American” enough for almost two straight years!

In any case, it’s been a year already. The secretary of State has opened the long closed Embassy, the Stars and Stripes waves every day, morning, noon, and night. US tourists are coming down nonstop, Cuban Americans are devising ways of investing on the island in the most intuitive and inventive fashion ever. So I guess, Cuba won’t be part of the debates in the near electoral future.

Maybe the candidates have figured out that the voice of reason silenced for so long is now the shout of logic that just won’t keep quiet, lest they lose those historically beloved 28 electoral votes.

 

Originally posted on the Huffington Post

Ya es hora

In Blockade, Cuba/US, Cuban Embargo, Travel, US on October 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

hourglass

 

Margarita Alarcón Perea

 

Era de esperar, la Habana lentamente se vuelve el lugar del momento en este hemisferio. Al igual que el ritmo de las olas de los mares, la Habana es un contínuum, un todo compuesto de muchos momentos en la historia; juega un papel – similar al de un actor – con el fin de entretener, hacer un planteamiento y crear una ilusión a la vez que permanece inmóvil.

En este caso la ilusión ha sido creada por personas que están bajo la impresión de que las cosas en la isla mágicamente han cambiado luego de los sucesos del 17 de diciembre de 2014 y que esa es la razón por la cual tantos vienen de visita a la isla.

Semanalmente desde principios de este año 2015, desde que se produjeron las primeras rondas de conversaciones bilaterales, miembros del cuerpo de la prensa, del Congreso, del Senado, a distintos niveles de gobierno, de las artes, el mundo de la ciencia, intelectuales, hombres y mujeres de negocio andan por toda la ciudad contemplándola boquiabiertos en un estado absoluto de fascinación.

Esto no debería sorprender a nadie. Era de esperar. La Habana históricamente ha sido un lugar mágico desde la época de Humphrey Bogart y Lauren Bacall o cuando el Buick del 56¨ era el carro del año. Por tanto, ahora que está en boga y resulta tan fácil llegarse a Cuba, ¿por qué no hacerlo?

No quiero que me malinterpreten. Estoy feliz de que tantos procedentes de los EEUU estén dando esos primeros pasos y se anden montando en aviones y viniendo de visita. Lo que me resulta simpático es como todos creen que ahora de repente “no hay problemas” con venir cuando lo único que ha cambiado en la isla es que la bandera estadounidense ondea delante del Malecón habanero luego de 56 años de ausencia. ¡Eso es todo! En lo que a lo demás respecta, el cuartico está igualito!

Así que recomiendo que la próxima vez que se pregunten algo respecto a Cuba y la Habana, no se vayan pensando que las cosas han cambiado en la isla y que es por eso que ahora pueden viajar de visita libremente y ver por uno mismo.

No estaría mal que se aseguren que en los próximos 15 meses se den pasos para garantizar que esos viajes puedan continuar, digamos que hacienda algo como eliminar el bloqueo estadounidense contra Cuba, ¿no creen que ya sea hora?

El tiempo pasa….

Step by Step

In Blockade, Cuba/US, Economics, Politics on October 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaritta-alarcon/step-by-step_2_b_8339920.html

 

Margarita Alarcón Perea

 

Last century, I took off for my summer vacation in New York City. Upon arrival, I remember my mom telling me my father was over at the Mission on 38th, so I headed downtown to see him.

It was early summer, beginning of July; days were getting longer and night’s warmer in the City.

After entering the building over on Murray Hill I bumped into Abelardo Moreno, then Councilor at the Mission (Permanent Cuban Mission to the United Nations), in one of the halls on the way to catch the elevator leading to the Ambassadors office. Abelardo was in a hurry with a mound of papers in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other, I quickly said “hi” and as we were both travelling up to the top floor I asked: “what on earth are you doing so late in the day on a Saturday? Has somebody else decided to invade yet another sovereign state?!” Abe, said, no and then went on to explain, it was summer, and the gulf war was no longer on the table for Cuba as we were no longer members of the Security Council and since it was summer and no one was going off on vacation to the Caribbean, my father was bored and when he got bored he would find something for them to do. He said all of this in his classic ironic fashion with just the right amount of “Im loving every minute of this.” But what was this excess work load in the middle of the lethargic summer heat? Well, that´s the funny part, or the punch line of the joke. He along with the Minister Councilor, the second Ambassador, and two younger 3rd secretaries were gathering all the information my father was requesting in order to prepare a document that he would present to the General Assembly the first week in September, and would entitle: Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.

It was the summer of 1992, and so it all began.

Back in 1992 when this issue was first put forth it “won” a majority of 71 abstentions ,  3 votes against and 59 votes in favor of the resolution. We are now going on the 24th year that the United Nations General Assembly puts this resolution up for a vote. Since 1993, the balance flipped and votes in favor went in the triple digits, and abstentions in this century remain steady in the single digit margin, primarily 1, 2, 3. The one thing that has remained the same, just like the song, has been the votes against. Invariably swaying from 3 or 4 to sometimes 2 and then back to 3 or 4 again.

Come the morning of October 27th of this year 2015, the UN will once again hear a speech from Bruno Rodriguez Cuba´s Minister of Foreign Affairs. It will then hold the vote and a large screen will light up with the results.

What if this year there were to be an unprecedented surprise? The United States of America has in its Constitution something which provides for a very specific and clear separation of powers. Three branches of government such that no one person or group of peoples could ever again subject the nation to any form of tyranny. You have the Congress which is the legislative power that makes the laws, the Presidency which is the executive power which carries out the laws, and then the Supreme Court which evaluates the laws. Three groups that don’t necessarily have to be in sync and as it turns out, next October 27th, they won’t be.

Since the end of last year, President Obama has been stating on camera, where ever he goes, whenever asked about Cuba and the US, when he spoke at the State of the Union, he´s probably mentioned it to his cook at the White House: the US Congress should do away with the Embargo against Cuba. His reasoning has less to do with the atrocity that the Embargo has been, subjecting the Cuban people to depravations and hardships that go beyond reason; the Embargo has been qualified by many as the longest form of warfare against a sovereign nation in the history of the world. Granted, these have not been the arguments used by the President he adheres to Einstein’s definition of insanity. Yet whatever the case, whether you do away with it because it’s insane or inhumane, the gist is to do away with it.

Now, will the US break with its forefathers system of government or should I say, put it to the test of true democratic principles of decent? Will this presidency actually prove to the world that real democracy can actually happen? Will the executive instruct its Department of State to instruct its Ambassador to abstain during the vote next Tuesday?

It would be a first and definitely a vote, if not a political step,  in the right direction.

 

Published in The Huffington Post and End the Travel Ban

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