Con Las Dos Manos Atras

By Alejandra Anias, Editor-In-Chief

In Cuba there’s a saying that goes, “Con una mano alante y la otra atrás,” meaning that even though you’re struggling, you can still get by and figure things out to get to the end of the month. We Cubans also tend to make fun of our own misery, because crying will get us nowhere, so it’s easier to laugh and make jokes about not being able to afford a living. But at some point, the joking around has to stop, and it has begun to.

   During the summer of 2021, the people of Cuba went out to the streets and began a protest to demand the basic human rights that they have been denied for so long. However, under the current communist regime that governs the island, protesting freely without casualties is not an option.

Pandemic in between 

   A lot of people were surprised when they first heard about the protests. It had been decades since anyone in Cuba dared to do something about their situation and against the government’s dictatorship. Thus, having family on the island is reason enough to be worried. 

   Senior Keyla Rodriguez said, “All my family is in Cuba except my mother. I was afraid they would get taken away for no reason considering that during the protests the police and military forces were going into people’s houses and taking them without motive. My dad at the time had COVID-19, so I was afraid that he would not get proper care because they were denying treatment to people.” 

Worsening by the minute

   In Third World countries like Cuba, the people always find a way to resolve a problem. We either reuse what we have to make it into something else, or we find someone that has what we need and we trade or pay for it. How would you make that possible with increasing prices and decreasing resources? Adding on to that, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made it any easier for the people, and it’s now even harder to “get by.”

   “The pandemic made the health system and economic situation even worse,” said Mr. Marrero, the math coach, who was born and raised in Cuba, and came to the US as a teenager. “Cuba’s economy consists of contact del dia a dia para resolver. The production was also affected, which led to a higher level of desperation. The people were without a hospital or medicine, plus political frustration and a government without representation.” 

   AP Spanish teacher Ms. Amoretti, who also came from Cuba as a teenager, expressed, “The protests were the result of the several years in which Cubans have been living under a regime that takes away their rights, their food, and any kind of resource that might make their lives a little easier. They have no control over their own lives.” 

     She added, “The pandemic was ‘la gota que derramó el vaso de agua’.”  

What about it? 

  Some people have been uncertain as to what the protests are about and how they started. Many others blame the USA for its bloqueo on the island; but the truth could be a bit different.

   According to an article written by Daniel Funke in USA Today, “The U.S. has maintained a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba since the 1960s, preventing most American companies from doing business on the island and vice versa. The sanctions do not force other countries and non-U.S. companies to cut ties with Cuba, although they incentivize it.” Even though the U.S. doesn’t trade with Cuba, it does not prohibit any other country from doing so. 

   However, just because the USA isn’t the main or only reason for poverty on the island, that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the solution. 

   An anonymous staff member at Miami Senior High, whose parents are Cuban but he was born in the US, said, “The protests bring awareness about the situation in another country that is so close to us and to our community. I would just like for it to go beyond protesting to actually having our government leaders and community leaders do something. The same way that the US government has invested in other countries, they should be invested in Cuba. It’s the closest country that we have, and so much of this country comes from Cuba.”

Freedom of speech 

    Freedom of speech is one of the most important ways democracy is manifested. In the United States Constitution, the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

   Miami Senior High principal Mr. Benny Valdes, whose parents are Cuban while he was born in the United States,  said, “That’s a big difference between the United States and Cuba. Here you can protest, and over there you’re not allowed to.” 

    Even though Mr. Valdes didn’t know much about the protests, he was still aware of the problems causing the manifestations, and how these issues had been going on for decades. He also said that one of the possible solutions to end these problems was for the Cuban people to keep protesting until their demands are met.

   SCSI teacher Mr. Miranda, whose parents are Cuban while he was also born in the US, added, “Anywhere where there’s injustice, it should be corrected. Unlike in our country (USA), the people in Cuba were not

allowed to demonstrate their displeasure, and if they did, they were met with resistance, violence, imprisonment and sometimes even death. Here in our country, as long as you demonstrate peacefully, you have that right. That’s why this is the greatest country in the world, whether you agree or disagree.” 

Suppressing still

   After the protests on the island were shut down, a lot of people in Cuba felt discouraged about continuing with the movement. However, a plan to extend the manifestations was already being made. This plan consisted of petitioning the Cuban government to allow the people in Cuba to hold a peaceful protest during the month of November, and to gather as many people as possible to march in the streets. Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, protesting freely in Cuba without casualties is not an option.

   According to the article “Cuban activists say pro-democracy march will go ahead despite government’s disapproval”  written by Nora Gamez Torres in the Miami Herald, “Cuban local authorities denied a request for an islandwide anti-government demonstration planned for Nov. 15 by a broad coalition of young Cubans, artists and dissidents, arguing it was a provocation backed up by the U.S. government aimed at destabilizing the country.” 

   However, the organizers and participants of this protest plan on continuing with the peaceful march, regardless of government restrictions. 


Cuban sayings:

Con una mano alante y la otra atrás: With one hand ahead and the other one behind, meaning that even though you’re struggling, you can still get by and figure things out to get to the end of the month.

Contacto del dia a dia para resolver: Contact from day to day, meaning that people have to talk and/or negotiate with each other in order to buy or get things (food, tools, water, etc.). 

La gota que derramó el vaso de agua: The straw that broke the camel’s back, meaning that whichever event the person is referring to when saying this phrase, was the last thing a person could put up with or bear.