Text of the intervention of Cuban journalist, Cristina Escobar, on the panel “Democracy for Whom?” , Peoples Summit, in Los Angeles.
Welcome. Thanks for inviting me. Although the government of the country in which this event takes place has closed its doors to us, nothing happened, we are used to it.
My name is Christina. I was born in Havana in a working class neighborhood. My house is on the corner of two streets with the most interesting names, Reforma and Compromiso, kind of a hint of what my life would be like. I studied journalism here in Havana and then got a master’s degree in London.
I went to college to get my bachelor’s degree in journalism without paying a dime, and I’ve never seen a shooting in my life. I am a member of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and I am also the mother of a 2-year-old who talks a lot.
The name of this painting leaves room for many stories. It is impossible to describe the cost of US actions in my country in five minutes. I will try to give you an idea using some examples from my own life.
My entry into the activity was as a protester in front of the US Embassy here in Havana. It was 1999, and his mother took a five-year-old to Miami across the Florida Straits.
Everyone died except for the boy who narrowly escaped and reached Miami. The family, who did not even know him, used him as an opportunity for self-promotion, political profit and money.
They refused to return him to his father, who eagerly demanded his return. The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, predicted that the only way to get the boy back was through a broad and clear refusal to kidnap him, and the kidnapping, by the way, behind which was the well-financed Cuban-American lobby.
I needed days and weeks. It was a long battle until then-President Bill Clinton finally said the baby belonged to his father, and the FBI had to break into the house to get it out. Today, he is a healthy and happy father.
During my teenage years, an experience brought me to a point where I had to participate, and I had to participate, and it was for the right cause. Like most Cubans, my life has been as austere and resilient because of the many obstacles imposed by US sanctions.
This country is subject to the largest and most comprehensive regime of sanctions imposed by the most powerful country in the world. The resilience of the Cuban people must be studied by experts because it is exceptional.
When the presidents of the United States and Cuba announced the restoration of relations on December 17, 2014, history was being made. At the time I was covering US-Cuba relations and I spent those months observing a clear change in strategy, but not in objective.
Regime change in Cuba, not allowing this country to become fully independent, not accepting the path we have chosen for social justice, these are stones stuck at the core of every American president since 1959.
But Barack Obama was brave enough not to use Florida as an excuse, and to open up a different strategy aligned with the national interests of the United States. However, the sanctions remained intact and the inexplicable vocal incidents seen around the world, including the United States, served as a pretext for closing consular services and thus closing the doors of the United States to Cubans.
Donald Trump has brought relations between the two countries to their worst point in probably 30 years, and Joe Biden has left everything untouched without having the courage to develop his own strategy on Cuba.
Two last examples. In the midst of the epidemic, the only medical oxygen plant in Cuba was broken. People died in hospitals from lack of oxygen. During those same days, Washington refused to sell ventilators to Cuba and used COVID-19 as a perfect ally to promote such desperation that some people are turning against their government.
Once again, the resistance of these people created another epic story unseen by the major international media. Cuba has created three safe vaccines and has immunized more than 80%. of its population with nationally produced vaccines. seek. You will not find another success story like this.
And a final example. This is not easy for me. My best friend had a baby three years ago. She’s a smart and curious girl, but she needs a liver transplant, something that can be done in Cuba, even if it sounds like a first-world surgery.
The only obstacle is the small number of surgical materials and medicines that are almost impossible to obtain due to the sanctions. This brings us back to the blockade designed to encourage regime change. They say the blockade is directed against the government, but it is making it more difficult, if not impossible, for a three-year-old to undergo a life-saving liver transplant.
Cuba has many internal challenges. We must accept more than exercise criticism. We need a more appropriate journalistic model for our young audience. We must think beyond the perspective of the besieged castle.
They say the goal is to turn this country into a democracy, but in this context that means submission to Washington’s interests. I believe in freedom, in democracy, in real democracy, and in improving many things in my country.
Seeing her flourish is a dream that inspires me and makes me bear many sacrifices. They say we are terrorists and they put us on the list. They say we are undemocratic, but they don’t let us go to the United States to speak.
They say we accept only one way of thinking, but then they protect and nurture the opposition in Cuba, which makes it a very well-paid job.
One last thought, that’s the message, you can all become ambassadors of the truth about Cuba. This is what we mean: let’s live and find the solution to our problems.
Thank you again for this opportunity and for the courage to stand up against injustice. I’m sure we’ll see each other at some point. Thanks.
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