Imagining a Cuba
with no blockade
Nyliam Vázquez &
Mayte María Jiménez
SEVEN of every 10 Cubans were born
and have grown up with the U.S. commercial,
financial and economic blockade of their country,
which has cost the nation more than 1.6 trillion
dollars. Nevertheless, beyond the figures and
despite the limitations imposed, these younger
generations continue to pursue their own projects,
hopes and dreams, intent upon seeing the country
Yanae Naredo, studying within the
Communications Department at the University of
Havana, indicated that beyond everything that is
regularly said about the blockade, the effects of
the policy are felt on a daily basis, "Students at
all levels see the resulting limitations in the lack
of technology, of books," she said.
Despite the international community’s
repeated appeals to the U.S. government to change
its policies toward Cuba and definitively end the
blockade, the White House has not renounced its
position, remaining intent upon the Cuban people’s
surrender, the university student said.
The blockade affects all Cuban
citizens, according to Economics major Camilo
Serrallonga. Students are affected by limitations on
access to information and the exchange of academic
material between departments and universities around
the country, needed to carry out advanced studies
projects and to achieve a comprehensive education,
Journalism student Jessica Domínguez
added that despite the damage caused by the blockade,
Cubans will not surrender, but will continue using
the inventiveness they are known for, with all the
creativity and willpower needed to carry out new
social projects, she said.
As a consequence of the aggressive
implementation of blockade regulations, Cuba cannot
freely import or export products and services from
or to the United States. The country cannot use the
U.S. dollar in international transactions or open
bank accounts in the currency in other countries.
Details of all restrictions imposed on Cuba are
outlined in the UN resolution calling for an end to
the policy, overwhelmingly approved once again on
Yoandrys Ferraris, majoring in
Foreign Languages, commented that is difficult to
understand how, well into the 21st century, such an
interventionist policy can be maintained, a measure
meant to economically strangle the country, limiting
José Francisco Cuza, Tourism student
and president of the Federation of University
Students (FEU) at the Havana campus, added that the
blockade makes itself visible everyday in student
life, for example, "When we go into classrooms or
laboratories and there are not enough computers."
Carlos Rafael, Erick, Yaima, Daniel,
Manuel Alejandro and Camila are all young Cuban
university students, some about to graduate from the
José Antonio Echeverría Advanced Technical Institute
They, like others of their
generation, have been victimized by the blockade,
but they have not stopped dreaming of what their
country could become if the United States listened
to the international community and ended the policy.
Even as a small child, Civil
Engineering student Daniel Vázquez reports, he was
aware of the blockade’s effect, "But as you grow up,
you come to understand better and become aware that
it is much more serious, that it’s about medicine
and other vital things."
For 25-year-old Yaima Alfonso, just
a few months away from graduating as a mechanical
engineer, one of the main consequences of the
blockade for student life is difficulty in accessing
certain written materials and maintaining scientific
"In the technological field, the
consequences are very important. There are some
programs which belong to U.S. companies and we
cannot even download them, or buy them."
Erick Brito, a student in the
Industrial Engineering Department, commented that
the blockade casts a perennial shadow over all
professional life, saying, "I am studying to become
an engineer and, when I visit state enterprises, I
see the impact in higher costs for raw materials. I
see they have to import from distant markets which
increases shipping costs and tariffs."
Camila Pedrouzo, also a future
engineer, imagines Cuba without the blockade as a
more advanced country, across the board.
There are others who cannot even
imagine Cuba without the blockade, although they
fervently hope it will be ended. "I was born with
the blockade. I don’t know anything else. My
imagination isn’t quite up to that," explained
Manuel Alejandro Vázquez Villegas,
in his fourth year of Telecommunications studies and
president of the FEU chapter at CUJAE.
The young man expressed his
frustration as he recounted the daily consequences
of the blockade at the Institute, one of the most
important of its kind in Cuba.
"Representatives of various
prestigious U.S. universities intended to present
lectures here, but have not been permitted to do so.
The same thing happens to Cuban academics, in
reverse… We students are affected in many other ways,
such as with technology, although the state has been
able to supply us what is indispensable, free of
charge," Vázquez said.
Carlos Rafael Gómez, studying
Biomedical Engineering, described how students are
denied access to certain Internet sites, "Right on
Google, where we go to look for scientific
information, we’re shown an announcement saying:
This service is not available in Cuba."
He noted that U.S. citizens suffer
the blockade’s consequences as well, since they are
denied the right to travel to Cuba, as do U.S.
companies, since they are prohibited from
establishing normal commercial relations with Cuban
"It is an obsolete policy, an
attempt to isolate us from the rest of the world,
despite the efforts of other countries to establish
relations. It is a policy which has no justification
- no political, or social or economic justification,"
he said. •
(From Juventud Rebelde).