It’s All about Freedom

By Bill Northrop

It’s All about Freedom

There’s lots of talk about Cuba and the reforms being made there. Minor, but reforms nonetheless. Lift the embargo on U.S. citizen travel, let tourism flourish, help the impoverished island move to prosperity and therefore freedom.

  That’s a dream, but not a bad one and not without having some basis. Allowing more trade and movement of citizens here to there will help change. There is no doubt that the innate corruption that goes with prosperity will undermine the Castro regime.

  However, there’s no doubt that Castro and his band will not go quietly. They are entrenched and powerful. They have what money there is and all the guns and all of the media and all the perks that the average citizen doesn’t. More U.S. dollars may entrench them more solidly, or feed the underground criminal element. See Russia’s experience.

  No, real change is not likely to be peaceful. The fact is that Cuba is a police state. The government spies on the people, the people ( for money and self preservation) spy on each other. There is no freedom. No one expresses it better that Euclides Rojas, former all-time saves leader for the Cuban National baseball team and now a pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  He and his wife and child came here on a make-shift raft. “ I didn’t come to the United States to play baseball,” he told the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh. “ We came to the United States looking for freedom.” Not money. Freedom. Pretty basic.   

  He continued, “ We didn’t know if we were going to make it. But if we didn’t make it, at least we would have died trying to be free.” He didn’t mention free medical care, old-age pensions, free education, housing or any other government subsidy. It’s freedom.

  He explained that you aren’t allowed to express what you feel or see. He referred to it as slavery. Cuban citizens cannot move about freely. Defection to another country is traitorous. Thousands have died trying to escape. Rojas left behind sisters, brothers and parents. His escape was nearly 20 years ago.

  Not much has changed since then. Cuba’s poorer. They have a little more economic freedom only because the government has no choice. Political freedom still doesn’t exist, and there’s no indication that that’s going to change. Government still controls the source of most food, housing, education, medical care, and jobs. You protest or revolt at your peril. Concur or starve. Connive, cajole, sneak around the system, cheat a little, maybe. But, don’t mess with the political system.

  It’s a good thing to consider those basic truths and consider the proper context when we hear people talk about the communist paradise just across the Florida straits.


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