“A Cuba without the blockade would be an opportunity to be and to show ourselves as we are”
Profound and passionate, Silvio Rodríguez, troubadour and symbol of the revolutionary Cuba that has inspired so many generations of progressive and leftist fighters in the world, has once again sent a message in support of just causes, this time through an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
The artist spoke about music and politics, and focused most of his comments on an effort he supports: the campaign advocating the Nobel Peace Prize for the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics, named in honor of a young man from Brooklyn who fought for Cuba’s independence.
The singer-songwriter described the Contingent’s members saying, “They are an example, a symbol of universal solidarity, challenging our own possibilities. With their vocation of service, they have opened fronts of solidarity in many critical situations and countries of the world,” and added, referring to the brigades, “By the 15th anniversary of their foundation had already helped more than four million people in countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, and saved more than 93,000 lives.”
During the virtual dialogue, Silvio recalled his childhood days, when Cuba was nothing like what it is today, and although there were conscientious doctors and some public hospitals, “They could not remotely offer the variety and complexity of treatment to all Cubans, without distinction, let alone completely free, as it is the case now.
“Following the victory of the Revolution in 1959, waves of youth who previously had no access to university began to train as doctors. Radically improving the health system and establishing scientific research centers were projects that Fidel Castro personally promoted,” he commented.
In an aside, Silvio noted, “Today, Cuba’s health system continues to function, but with great effort, given the shortages caused by the blockade imposed by the United States government.”
When asked what Cuba would be like if the blockade did not exist, Silvio replied that there are those who say that all our problems are the blockade’s fault and those who think that everything is the government’s fault.
In his opinion, the blockade has a huge impact on our problems, but if the enemies of the Revolution believed that all our shortcomings were our own fault, they would have eliminated the policy long ago and let us destroy ourselves. He emphasized, as well, the existence of the “anti-Castro business, which even influences elections in the U.S.” and mobilizes significant public opinion.
“I think that if under the brutal blockade we have achieved our own candidate vaccines (and I say this without boasting), what would we be capable of doing if we lived in peace, with the same opportunities as other countries? A Cuba without a blockade would be our opportunity to be and to show ourselves fully, as we are,” he said.
Relations between the United States and Cuba were also addressed at length, including progress in the reconstruction of bilateral relations, the history of U.S. aggression against the island, the reticence and extreme positions which undermine the possibility of an understanding between the two nations.
Discussing the current context in Cuba, the journalist asked Silvio if this is a time to be self-critical, to which he replies:
“Being self-critical is essential to moving forward. Life is constant construction. On the political level it is the same, with the aggravating factor that vanity can be very harmful. Every deficiency, which is not identified and addressed in a country like Cuba, becomes an argument for its detractors. Cubans are a people with well-proven conscience and capacity for resistance; but even virtue needs sustenance. Criticism and self-criticism are healthy exercises.”
The impact of the pandemic on his creative work was also addressed during the conversation: “I miss contact with the people,” he said, recalling his monthly concerts in Cuban neighborhoods and his tours abroad.
The La Jornada journalist went on to ask Silvio his opinion of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Silvio reported that he first met the Mexican leader’s spouse and then the President.
“I feel affection and respect for Andrés Manuel, a consistent man who lives his ideas; a worker of exemplary honesty, with a dream of justice for an admirable people, called Mexico,” he said in closing.