Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘Miami Cubans’

Breaking down Barriers

In Arts, Blockade, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Politics on April 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

I truly love New York. I was there when the City was christened with the term “The Big Apple” and way before the t-shirt and mug craze of the heart everywhere.

The thing is though, that my love for the City stems from its pulse. It´s magical and I don’t mean the hustle and bustle of endless lines of bright yellows and the tallest MTA buses ever known to mankind. In my case it’s the people. New York City has a magic that comes from the people that inhabit the City. They are, well, just different. Ruder and cruder than those from the Midwest, faster and blunter than the South, more fashion obsessed and obsessive than the West Coast; they are difficult and easy in the same proportion depending on your perspective. Putting it simply, a New Yorker wants it when they want it because they want it.

I guess it is precisely because of this that it had to take a native from Brooklyn  to start a commotion that has blown away all other news on Cuba this past week. When Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z came down to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary it took little time for people on the island to find out, in spite of the fact that not a single Cuban news outlet gave word of the event till it was just unstoppable.

It wasn’t a tough guess that the Cuban American congressional lobby was going to lash out at this with all its might. And it did. Representatives Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ross Lehtinen both voiced concerned over the trip and began demanding that the Treasury Department inform if the couple had travelled legally (under an issued licence) or not. Normally what would have happened, as it has in the past, would have been a statement by the couples press rep in a public press conference or directly to both members of Congress and that would have been that.

Not this time.

For years I have been personally waiting for someone, anyone, of a certain social public clout to come down to Cuba, have a good time, and then go back to the US and make a shtick about it.

Well,  Jay Z did it. He not only came down with Beyoncé on a valid OFAC licence but he went all out and responded to anyone interested by writing a rap on the whole issue.

It took a New Yorker,  a hip hop artist in the true sense of being a New Yorker, to start the ball rolling and get everyone involved.

In the words of Cheryl Contee published today in The Guardian “Jay-Z’s rap struck a chord because America is ready to drop the Cuba embargo. Let’s hope President Obama is listening.”

Antes de quitar la Ley de Ajuste Cubano

In CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, US on January 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

ARTURO LÓPEZ-LEVY

Publicado en el sitio C.A.F.E

 

Por décadas, el gobierno cubano ha denunciado la Ley de Ajuste Cubano de 1966, como “la ley asesina”, culpando al estatuto norteamericano por la migración de miles de cubanos a la Florida. Esa interpretación nunca ha tenido efecto en los gestores de política en EEUU, pues ignora los factores del sistema económico y político en la isla que empujan a los cubanos a emigrar. Por extraña coincidencia, ahora han aparecido sectores vinculados al embargo norteamericano que insisten, cada vez con más fuerza, en la necesidad de derogar la ley.

El hecho de que muchos cubanos que emigran discrepen del gobierno cubano, no significa que concuerden con el embargo estadounidense contra Cuba. Cada año, 300,000 cubanoamericanos van a Cuba y votan contra la restricción para viajar y la estrategia de provocar una rebelión por asfixia, enunciada en la ley Helms-Burton. Tras la flexibilización migratoria cubana del pasado octubre, no es difícil pronosticar un aumento del movimiento circular entre Cuba y EEUU.

En la comunidad cubanoamericana se acentúan las tendencias a una preponderancia de las últimas oleadas de emigrantes, con una visión más favorable a incentivar cambios en Cuba a través del intercambio y el diálogo. Usando las ventajas asociadas a la Ley de Ajuste Cubano de 1966 y las nuevas regulaciones migratorias cubanas, miles de cubanoamericanos, interesados en llevar vidas trasnacionales, podrían hacerse residentes legales y ciudadanos norteamericanos, mientras mantienen propiedades, residencia y hasta negocios en Cuba.

Tal dinámica tendrá efectos moderadores en las políticas de Miami y La Habana. Primero, porque el contacto entre las dos orillas del Estrecho de la Florida se multiplicará; segundo, porque comunidades interesadas en tales intercambios crecerán, poniendo presión respectiva en la Casa Blanca y el Palacio de la Revolución; y tercero, porque una ley que originalmente surgió como parte de la guerra fría entre Cuba y EEUU, podría servir ahora de virtual amnistía migratoria para cubanos que salen legalmente de Cuba a EEUU por motivos de trabajo, educación, o encuentro familiar.

La Ley de Ajuste Cubano fue aprobada por la Administración demócrata de Lyndon Johnson para regularizar la presencia en territorio norteamericano de miles de cubanos, cuyo proceso migratorio de entrada no fue como asilados bajo peligro de persecución o tortura. La ley protege a los Estados Unidos de un derecho automático a la residencia. El fiscal general regula la elegibilidad. Es por eso que varios de los arribados durante o después de Mariel, con problemas legales, fueron considerados “entrantes” y tuvieron que esperar a la reforma migratoria en 1986, o siguieron siendo deportables.

Si el gobierno de Barack Obama detuviese la implementación de pies secos/ pies mojados, que es diferente a derogar la Ley de Ajuste Cubano, Estados Unidos recibiría una emigración en camino a la legalización. Entrarían a EEUU, cubanos, mayormente educados, con conocimiento del inglés, que tienen familiares asentados en el país, y por tanto con un aterrizaje menos traumático al de otros emigrantes.

EEUU necesita emigrantes para atenuar las bajas de natalidad de típico país desarrollado. El cubano es un buen prospecto; no alberga sentimientos hostiles ni valores contrapuestos a la democracia norteamericana. Cuba tiene bajas tasas de natalidad, sin peligro de una emigración de gran magnitud. Ningún acto terrorista en suelo norteamericano cometido por cubanos (como el disparo en el puerto de Miami contra un barco polaco) es atribuible a los cubanos emigrados en las más recientes oleadas.

Son los legisladores cubanoamericanos los que al abrir un posible debate político sobre el estatuto de 1966, están creando la enfermedad, de la que se proclaman remedio. Desde 1978, cientos de miles de cubanoamericanos han visitado su país de origen y ningún Congreso (de mayoría republicana o demócrata), ni ningún presidente ha perdido tiempo tratando de derogar la ley de 1966. Fue frente al gobierno cubano hasta 1978 que los emigrados tuvieron que reclamar su derecho a visitar su país de origen.

La libertad de viajes es tan americana como el pastel de manzana. Nada en la Ley de Ajuste Cubano o su debate previo en el Congreso de 1966 prescribe que sus beneficiarios se olviden de sus familiares. Benjamín Franklin, el primero de todos los norteamericanos, hizo incontables esfuerzos por abrazar a su hijo, antiguo gobernador de Nueva Jersey, y refugiado en Inglaterra tras ser derrotado por la revolución alentada por su padre. Al decir de Franklin los lazos familiares eran del tipo “natural”, e iban “más allá de las consideraciones políticas”.

Profesor Adjunto, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

 

Paul Ryan’s Cuban Conversion

In Alan Gross, Blockade, CAFE, Cuban Americans, US on September 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

By Douglas Bloomfield 

Originally posted in The Jewish Week

In politics, where you sit often determines where you stand.

Up north in Wisconsin’s largely rural First Congressional District, Rep. Paul Ryan told his constituents it was time to end the trade embargo on Cuba. “If we think engagement works well with China, well, it ought to work well with Cuba. The embargo doesn’t work. It is a failed policy.” As for those who wanted to tighten the embargo, not ease it, “I just don’t agree with them and never have.”

That was then, this is now.

Down south in Florida this weekend he recanted and said he’d had an epiphany.  What changed his mind?  He’s now running for vice president and campaigning in the rabidly anti-Castro Cuban-American areas of south Florida, critical to  Republican hopes of winning that battleground state.

Like Mitt Romney’s 180 turns on abortion, health care, guns and so many other issues, he attributes the shift to an evolution in his thinking, but the reality is both are just tailoring their views to appease extremists in their party.

Ryan said he changed his mind from what he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a decade ago as a result of his “friendships” with some of Florida’s leading anti-Castro Republicans.  Thanks to them, he said, he now knows “just how brutal the Castro regime is.”  No explanation where he’s been for the past 50 years.

And what about Ryan’s old views on Cuba?  Not only has he renounced them but has assigned them to Barack Obama and labeled them “appeasement.”  Actually, the Obama administration has consistently renewed the trade embargo that Ryan once opposed and now supports, but what apparently Ryan and his friends see as appeasement is the easing of restrictions on family visits and cultural exchanges and rules that make it easier to send money to loved ones in Cuba.

This financial help from visitors and families abroad enables Cubans to purchase luxuries like soap and razors not included on their ration cards.

On my visit to Cuba earlier this year on a Jewish Heritage mission, many Jewish leaders I met with expressed fear that such exchanges, which have been so important in supporting the country’s small and often poor Jewish community, would be cut off by a Romney administration.

They rely on American visitors bringing suitcases filled with such “contraband” as pencils, paper, crayons and toys for children, clothing, vitamins, medicine, books, Judaica and cash contributions.

I saw firsthand how people-to-people exchanges were diminishing anti-American feelings.  A frequent visitor told me that signs around Havana that once blazed revolutionary slogans are now promoting tourism.

Reverting to the old Bush-era restrictions, as Romney and Ryan want, would not harm the Castro regime but would set back the progress being made by current cultural exchanges and would be harmful to the country’s small Jewish community.

Defending the defensible

In Blockade, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Ecuador, Education, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on August 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

 

 

For Gerardo, René, Antonio, Fernando and Ramón, thank you.

 

Margarita Alarcón Perea

 

I have written about the Cuban Five  and have posted even more on this blog site about the subject. Five men unjustly imprisoned in the United States, serving long Machiavellian sentences for a crime they did not commit. It’s a long story that most have not heard about and should really learn more on.

Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution back in January of 1959, Cuba had to establish one of the best Intelligence networks the world has ever known. Often times compared to Israel’s Mossad, not because of its record for killing but yes for its record as an  intelligence service. The island was struck with numerous blows both on a military scale (Bay of Pigs Invasion, Missile Crisis, explosion of the Cargo Ship La Coubre), as it was a victim of terrorist attacks on civilian targets (Fire at the El Encanto department store, fire at the “Amadeo Roldán” TheaterCubana Flight 422) or multiple terrorist biological attacks on crops and livestock and of course direct terrorist attacks on individuals throughout the more than half a century of tension between the island and its closest neighbor to the north.

All of these attacks have been proven to come from the Cuban American community living in the South of Florida and working directly under the noses of the CIA, the FBI and the White House. This is not news to anyone who has been alive and paying attention for the past fifty years.

For a good part of those years, the excuse was that Cuba was a satellite nation of the Soviet Union and since the Cold War was on, Cuba was considered a nation to be exporting revolution and  it was an accepted fact that it  was the enemy and that the island and its people were a valid target. After the demise of the USSR and the socialist block in Eastern Europe it would have been logical to expect a change in these policies and I like to think that on many levels in the CIA, the FBI and the White House this is the case but unfortunately these same institutions created a Frankenstein that is now a rogue killer and completely out of control.

One of the “revolution” exports was Nicaragua and then Angola and Namibia and South Africa. Nicaragua was “taken care” of by the Reagan Administration and Angola, Namibia and South Africa were, well, let’s just say, that former President Nelson Mandela has publicly acknowledged the role of Fidel Castro and his people in not only freeing him but also in putting an end to that gruesome system known as apartheid in that region of the world.

Yet the Cuban Five are a term we who love Cuba and its sovereignty use over and over again. What is it? Well, it’s not an “it” per se. It’s the term used to refer to five men who infiltrated Cuban American terrorist networks to try to put an end to terrorist activities against the island years after the fall of the Berlin wall, years after the end of the Cold War and years after so called “democracies” were taking over much of the hemisphere. Because you see, it wasn’t the Cold War or the “exporting” of Revolution or even the fact that Cuba is the only island to stand in the face of imperialism and win.

The  Cuban Five are men who were standing up for things that the Cuban Revolution stands for and that are now becoming  a reality the world over. These men were protecting not only their homeland, they were protecting what their homeland stands for in the rest of the world.

Cuba today, is guilty of one thing only. It is guilty of having been in Haiti with 400 doctors collaborating with the country when the earthquake hit in 2010. It is guilty of having sent another 5000 to Pakistan shortly after another such natural disaster struck the mountains in that eastern nation. It is also guilty of having guaranteed that some 6.5 million citizens in 28 nations are no longer illiterate persons thanks to the Cuban Literacy Program known as “Yes, I Can.” A figure that surpasses all statistics reported by other similar programs implemented thus far around the world. Here is the humdinger: the cost of the course depends on the conception of how to apply the program. Depending on the application of the program and the teaching means, including a TV set and a DVD player, teaching a person how to read and write does not cost more than five dollars.

And that is one of the main things the Cuban Five were defending, Cuba’s right to “export” literacy at a cost of FIVE dollars a pupil.

How can anybody condemn anyone for defending something like that?

Amanpour & Castro

In Alan Gross, CENESEX, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, LGBT, Politics, US on June 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

The United States had a rare and unique opportunity last week to witness first hand a one on one conversation between two intelligent women. Unfortunately the event was promoted on live television for Spanish speaking audiences and for the international section of CNN.

Below please find the full English transcript of the conversation held between Christiane Amanpour and Mariela Castro Espín.

MAP

Mariela Castro during the May Day Parade march holding a sign from the “OBAMA GIve Me Five!” campaign

 

 

AMANPOUR: Mariela Castro, thank you for being with us.

MARIELA CASTRO ESPIN, DAUGHTER OF RAUL CASTRO: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you first, who inspired you to this cause of gay rights?

ESPIN (through translator): In the first place, it was my mother.

My mother began to do this kind of work in the Cuban women’s organization, first defending women’s rights, children’s and youth rights and little by little she began to try and have people be respected in the LGBT community that, because of a very patriarchal culture inherited from the Spanish system continues to be our reality, these prejudices are still repeated.

AMANPOUR: Let me show you these pictures that we have found, amazing pictures of you and your family, your mother and your father and your siblings. This is the current president, Raul Castro, your father. And this is your mom, Vilma.

ESPIN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And which is you here?

ESPIN: Here. Esta.

ESPIN (through translator): I’m right here. This is me. I’m the second child.

AMANPOUR: Given your family’s history and the revolutionary hero and the tough guy image in Cuba, was it difficult to take up this cause of gay rights?

ESPIN (through translator): All families in the world are patriarchal families and they’re machista families. And in the case of my family, the fact that my mother was already working in this field, she ensured that my father interpreted this reality in a more flexible way.

And for me it was always easy to speak openly with my parents and this idea of fighting against homophobia was really something that I took from them.

But even so, although I found understanding in my family and my family was very understanding, even my father is very understanding right now, it’s a very difficult and complex process, and this is why my father always said that I have to be very careful about everything and to do this very attentively and carefully so that I wouldn’t hurt other people who don’t understand, but that I do have to provide people the instruments with which they can respect other realities, even though they don’t understand them.

AMANPOUR: You have written, “As I began to recognize the damage that homophobia was doing to society, I would come home and confront my parents with the issue. And when I got home, I said to my father, `How could you people have been so savage?’ My dad said, `Well, we were like that in those days. That’s what we were taught. But people learn.'”

So it was an evolution for your father.

ESPIN (through translator): Exactly. I think that Cuban society as a whole has been changing and its political leaders are also changing as part of society.

AMANPOUR: Even in this country, it’s taken a long time for politicians to agree, for instance, to gay marriage, same-sex marriage. President Obama has just said that he supports it. You must admire President Obama.

ESPIN (through translator): Yes. And when I heard this news, and I was questioned about it in the press, of course I can say that I support and I celebrate what President Obama has done. I believe that it’s very just and I feel a great deal of admiration for President Obama.

I believe that if President Obama had fewer limitations in his mandate, he could do much more for his people and for international law and international rights. Yes, I think that I dare to say that, because I’m not American. That’s really a right that the American people have. But I feel the right to express what I feel, and if I was an American citizen, yes, I would vote for President Obama.

AMANPOUR: On this issue of same-sex marriage, do you think that will become legal in Cuba?

ESPIN (through translator): Already several years ago, my mother began to promote this bill and even trying to propose changing legislation. First we were proposing the freedom of same-sex marriage.

But since there’s been such a debate on this and there are so many diverse opinions in Cuba, what is being proposed right now are civil unions, where gay couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples. However, this hasn’t happened as yet, and people who are in same-sex couples do not have any protection.

AMANPOUR: You can see these pictures of gay rights marches in Cuba itself. When do you think this law will be taken up? When do you think that there will be progress from the Cuban parliament on this?

ESPIN (through translator): According to what had been planned, it’s this same year that this still has to be presented, which recognizes the rights of same-sex couples.

AMANPOUR: As we’ve been talking, you’ve talked about human rights and you’ve talked about the limits of the state. So let me ask you about the rights in your country and whether you think that gay rights, civil rights, could lead to more different kinds of rights, political kinds of rights. Where do you see this trend going, opening up the space for civil rights?

ESPIN (through translator): At present, in the last few years, there’s been a big debate that the Cuban people have participated in in many sectors. And there have been criticisms and suggestions of what we have to change in Cuban society.

And many valuable ideas have come from this. And what we’ve seen is what the population believes should be our socialist transition process in Cuba. And we want to include everything that we believe to be our need. And of course, this translates into rights, civil rights.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about that. I’ve been in Cuba several times over the last 14 years, and I can see that under your father, President Raul Castro, there’s been opening on the economic front, but not so much on the political front. Again, do you think these civil rights will lead to more political diversity, more political rights?

ESPIN (through translator): As to political rights, what are you talking about?

AMANPOUR: Obviously, there’s one party in Cuba, so that’s one issue. But Human Rights Watch says that Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent. So I’m trying to figure out whether there is space in Cuba for broader political rights, where people, for instance, can dissent without being sent to jail.

ESPIN (through translator): All right. Human Rights Watch does not represent the ideas of the Cuban people and their informants are mercenaries. They’re people that have been paid by foreign governments for media shows that do not represent Cuban positions correctly.

However, the presence of a sole party in Cuba came from the fight against colonialism, from Spain. Jose Martin had the merit of creating the Cuban revolutionary party in Cuba as a sole party, specifically to achieve independence and to avoid domination by the United States. So that’s the line that we followed in Cuban history because conditions haven’t changed.

And it hasn’t been easy. We’ve been working for many years to achieve this. We’ve achieved it in many spheres, in human rights, the rights of women, health, in many areas. But in other areas, where we haven’t reached that, we’re still working. That demand, that Cuba have various parties, no country has shown that having plural parties leads to democracy.

So the suggestions that they want to make to us aren’t valid. Conditions haven’t changed. Cuba is a country that for over 50 years have been subjected to the violation of international law with the financial blockade which has not allowed Cuba to access development.

AMANPOUR: I think I heard you suggest that if the embargo was not there and if you were not under pressure, that there would be a different political reality or there could be a different political reality in Cuba. Is that right?

ESPIN (through translator): Exactly. That’s right. If Cuba weren’t the subject of an economic and trade embargo, which has created so many problems for us, then Cuba, it wouldn’t make sense to have a sole party, just one party. But it’s when our sovereignty is threatened that we use this resource, which has truly worked in Cuban history.

AMANPOUR: As you know, there are many people, even inside Cuba, who feel that if the embargo was lifted, it would actually cause the one-party system to collapse. It would cause, perhaps, socialism to collapse.

ESPIN (through translator): I don’t think it would collapse. I don’t think socialism would collapse. I think it would become stronger. This is why they don’t lift the embargo.

AMANPOUR: Let me get to some of the reaction that your visit here has caused. Were you surprised that the U.S. government gave you a visa?

ESPIN (through translator): Even though I had obtained a visa under Bush in 2002, I was surprised this time. I didn’t think that I would be granted a visa. But I’m grateful. I was able to have a very rich exchange with professionals and activists in San Francisco and in New York as well.

AMANPOUR: You don’t need me to tell you what the Cuban-American community thinks. Florida Senator Marco Rubio accused you of bringing a campaign of anti-Americanism to the United States. Is that what you’re doing here?

ESPIN (through translator): In the first place, that senator doesn’t represent the Cuban-American people in the United States, just a very small interest group that has dedicated itself to manipulating policies in the United States towards Cuba affecting the civil rights of the Cuban-American people to travel freely and as often as they want, to be able to go back and see their families in Cuba.

So their leaders have always asked that we normalize relations based on respect towards our sovereignties and our social and economic projects. And I think that we can achieve this. I think it’s easy. It’s unfortunate that a small group of people are really limiting this process. I felt the friendship and the affection of the people of the United States.

I felt very well here. I’ve met wonderful people and I see that we share many points in common, Cuba and the United States. Right now in Cuba, there are many Americans because of the flexibility that Obama has. And it’s wonderful. They may feel very well there. And we’re ready. We’re ready to meet in friendship with any type of conditioning or political (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Did you expect more from President Obama or has he gone as far as you expected him to go on the Cuban issue?

ESPIN (through translator): I think that the whole world and the American people have placed great hopes on President Obama and I personally understand that that is his position and that his public mandate limits him a great deal.

But I believe that President Obama needs another opportunity. And he needs greater support to move forward with this project and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart. He wants to do much more than what he’s done. That’s the way I interpret it personally. I don’t know if I’m being subjective.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that he wants to lift the embargo, and that there could be proper relations between Cuba and the United States under a second Obama term?

ESPIN (through translator): I believe that Obama is a fair man. And Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision.

AMANPOUR: Do you want Obama to win the next election?

ESPIN (through translator): As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win. Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.

AMANPOUR: Now, as you know, there are many issues that cause problems between Cuba and the United States. One of the issues right now is Alan Gross. I want to play you something that he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN GROSS, AMERICAN HELD PRISONER IN CUBA: I have a 90-year-old mother who has inoperable lung cancer and she’s not getting any younger. And she’s not getting any healthier. I would return to Cuba, you know, you can quote me on that. I’m saying it live. I would return to Cuba if they let me visit my mother before she dies. And we’ve gotten no response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So my question to you is why should Alan Gross not be allowed to visit his sick mother?

ESPIN (through translator): The Cuban government has publicly requested that they want to negotiate based on human considerations, Alan Gross’ situation as well as the situation of the five Cubans who have been in prison for 15 years in the United States. And the Cuban people who are participating in this process is to seek a satisfactory solution for the six families, the five Cubans and for Alan Gross.

I think that it’s fair. I’m hurt by any families suffering. I’m dedicated to helping people and making them happy, and it seems to me that independently of the fact that he’s committed a crime and that he’s only served a short period of his sentence, I think that it’s fair that people can receive the benefit of flexibility in the world of law and justice, and that these negotiations go forward into the two governments. I think that as a people, we’re going to be very happy the situation has been solved.

But we have the case of Gerardo Hernandez, who’s in prison. His mother fell ill. He asked for permission to see his mother. His mother passed away, and Gerardo was not able to say goodbye to his mother. He also hasn’t been able to see his wife this whole time.

Alan Gross has been granted everything that he’s asked for. He’s been able to see his wife. He’s been able to have matrimonial conjugal visits and he has been treated with respect and dignity the way we always treat prisoners in Cuba.

We haven’t received the same treatment on the other hand for our five prisoners who have very long sentences. They’re not right. So what we want is the well-being of all of these families. That’s what we (inaudible) the most. I think that the six must be released, both the five Cubans and Alan Gross.

AMANPOUR: You yourself have said in New York this week, our system is open and fair, as you’ve just told me. Many would disagree with you, but you have said that. But you’ve also said that it could be more democratic. What do you mean by that?

ESPIN (through translator): I meant to say that we need to establish permanent mechanisms for the people’s participation when we make decisions, because this is the only way that all our people can participate.

AMANPOUR: We often wonder why it is that Cubans can’t travel very easily. Cubans have to get permission from the government to travel and come back. They can’t just leave. And it’s quite difficult to get permission. I mean, people have told me that inside Cuba. Why? I mean, what’s the point of that?

ESPIN (through translator): The subject of migration in Cuba was always managed politically from here and you know that there are many difficulties. And immigration law, even though the law in the United States is maintained, should change in Cuba.

So several years ago, there’s been a great discussion regarding the subject about how to modify this law and I understand that the fear and new immigration law will be approved in Cuba, which opens up to everything that the Cuban people have requested in our ongoing debate.

AMANPOUR: So you foresee change in the travel laws?

ESPIN (through translator): Yes, and I believe it’s going to come about very soon.

It’s one of the things that we’ve asked for the most in all of these discussions.

AMANPOUR: I have to ask you about somebody who you’re already having a bit of a verbal war with, and that is Yoani Sanchez, the dissident blogger inside Cuba. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to blog? Why shouldn’t she be allowed to say what she does?

ESPIN (through translator): The way I see it, Yoani Sanchez is allowed to express herself. She has a blog. She’s on Twitter. She’s on Facebook. She’s not in prison, even though she’s a mercenary. (Inaudible) she’s received over half a million dollar in prizes (inaudible) form of payment and (inaudible) mercenary does exist in Cuba.

Even though she’s done that, she’s not in prison. Even though she is breaking the law, she’s allowed to express herself and she’s allowed to lie. She has time to lie in everything that she wants. She’s free. She even has the most sophisticated technology which exists in Cuba to connect to Internet and to be able to publish her ideas.

AMANPOUR: In that regard, a couple of years ago, journalists came to Cuba, and they met with your uncle, Fidel Castro. And he gave an interview and he basically said the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore. What do you think he meant by that?

ESPIN (through translator): He meant to say that in this new era, in Cuba’s new reality, with the development of the political culture and functions (ph) in our country, it was time for a change. We had to change our strategy. And that’s what we’ve been doing. He realized it. And as a leader, he was calling upon us to do that.

But those changes do not happen overnight. I repeat, they have to be worked on. We have to generate a debate, and I think that that is what we’ve been doing. And I’m very satisfied to see that the maximum leader of our revolution has identified our difficulties, because as a people we were also defining them.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much for coming in.

ESPIN (through translator): Thank you very much.