INSIDE CUBA: Voices From the Island

Welcome to Cuba.

By Achy Obejas

When my family escaped from Cuba in 1963 – on a boat in the middle of the night – we thought the Cuban Revolution wouldn't last. Soon, we believed, we'd be back home, in Cuba, brief sojourns in the U.S. having been practically a ritual for dissenting [RETURN TO ARTICLE]

  • Reader Comments

    Thanks for posting this article. It’s thoughtful and nuanced. Particularly I appreciate your recognition that the fundamental decisions about Cuba and its future has to be made in Cuba by the people who live there. Others who reside elsewhere can have opinions, but it’s the Cubans on the island who have to make the final decisions.

    The tendency and the temptation to see things as one wants or wishes them to be is a deeply held human characteristic.

    Some on the political left wish away the numerous problems which obviously exist in Cuba, not all of which are attributable to the blockade maintained by the United States.

    But Washington policy makers as well as Miami Militants (not an athletic team), have long felt if they could just hang on to their efforts to strangle the island another day or month or year longer, the pesky revolutionary government will finally collapse. Then some of the Miami exiles hope to go back and take back what they lost in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution.

    As an American-Cuban (not a Cuban-American), I’ve tried to follow developments in Cuba for many years. Editing CubaNews, a free Yahoo news group, I’ve collected a wide range of news, information and analysis from, about and related to Cuba, now in its tenth year of service. While I’m very supportive of Cuba, I’m very mindful that it’s a far from perfect place, and so the CubaNews list also shares a sampling of critical and even very hostile sources.

    Numerous commentaries, original translations from Cuban sources are part of the work I’ve been doing since my first adult trip to Cuba, in 1999. (My father, who’d lived in Cuba with his parents during World War II, took me to see the island in 1956 when I was just 12 years old.)

    Details about the CubaNews list can be found here:

    One area of particularly interest has been the evolution of LGBT life on the island, and I’ve created a special page to track news, views and information on this significant topic here:

    Thanks for this commentary. I look forward to seeing the entire issue of the magazine.

    Walter Lippmann
    Los Angeles, California

    Posted by walterlx on Dec 1, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    Dear Achy,

    Thank you for your insightful article which I hope will be read by many people and considered carefully.  You speak to the real context within which the Cuba issues can be successfully resolved.  to help publicize your article, it is discussed and referred to in another article on the blogosphere,  “Neo Conservative Nonsense, Wise Words from Achy, and What Will Happen to the Cuban Adjustment Act” at

    We look forward to reading all of your articles and this important series.

    Posted by Tony Martinez on Dec 2, 2009 at 6:29 AM


    I dont know where to even begin.

    This introduction is replete with moral ambiguity and myopic in nature, whether, best case scenario, unintended or, worst case scenario, agenda driven.

    You use the incredibly stale “we want reconciliation and the end of estrangement” as if we still lived in the sixties, where there were no bridges between Cubans that were forced to exile and those who remained in Cuba with fervent zeal towards the Revolution. Fact of the matter is that today, this “separation” is a fallacy, and in this Militant Miami ( as Mr. Lippman puts it) you’ll find a diverse spectrum of Cubans from all walks of life and differing social, cultural and political ideologies. Moreover, in this same “extreme exile” community you will find generations of Cubans who live, love and work together who have arrived here in the states during completely different eras.

    These Miami Militants, or gusanos, or mafiosi as we are referred to by the myopic are the very same ones who support their families in Cuba to the tune of almost a billion dollars a year. The Cuban exile is Cuba’s greatest export, guaranteeing untold millions in profit each and every year. heck, you cant spit in Miami without hitting an “Envios a Cuba” store and you can purchase a calling card to Cuba at every corner gas station.

    Ill argue that not only are the exile community and cubans in Cuban reconciled, but united as one. These “crazies” in Miami - as you put it in your own words - are the ones that take in their family members and friends when they arrive. They clothe them, feed them, show them the lay of the land, get them jobs, and generally support them in every way they can. Yet you, and your two commentors here, denigrate same with impunity.

    Moreover, you speak of wanting a return of civil liberties and human rights in Cuba, yet you have chosen to visit and live under the auspices of very same government that usurped same. Yet, you fail to mention that government’s “extremism” and you fail to regale them with appellations such as “crazies”.

    All of your arguments here are as tired, old, coherent and decrepit as the old man in Cuba with a colostomy bag that no one sees and whose health no one is allowed to remark on.

    The problem with Cuba - whether you chose to face this reality or not - is not a cultural one. It is, by all means, a political and ideological one.

    You quote Janjaque as stating:

    I don

    Posted by Valentin Prieto on Dec 2, 2009 at 7:52 AM


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. Reading your piece I couldn

    Posted by Steve Ellner on Dec 3, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    I have just now been able to access this issue and find it disappointing, not so much for what it contains (although certain sections leave a very specific distorted perspective), but for what it ignores. It is not simply a matter of things

    Posted by debrae on Jan 4, 2010 at 5:43 PM