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NY Times: jóvenes cubanos ven los cambios con un aire de cinismo
"¿Qué cambios veo? Ninguno", responde un joven entrevistado en La Habana por el diario neoyorquino, y dice apuntando hacia el Malecón: "El hecho de que haya una embajada ahí, no cambia nada".
agosto 06, 2015
"¿Cambiar? Mi vida no va a cambiar ¿No ve cómo vivimos?", le dijo Yunior Rodríguez Soto, de 17 años, a un reportero del diario estadounidense The New York Times, mientras presenciaban un partido de basquetbol en una cancha rústica improvisada entre las ruinas de dos edificios habaneros.
"Ellos no van a dejar que suceda", agregó Yunior, refiriéndose al Gobierno cubano. "Ellos son así".
El enviado del Times, Azam Ahmed, observa que mientras que los medios hablan de un cambio histórico en marcha en Cuba, donde el Gobierno está dando pasos para abrir su economía en crisis a los mercados mundiales y normalizar sus relaciones con Estados Unidos, la juventud cubana apenas habla
Si para muchos estos pasos han renovado las esperanzas de prosperidad, los jóvenes cubanos los reciben con un aire de cinismo. Ellos perciben en los ideales de la revolución de Fidel Castro algo tan obsoleto como los vetustos automóviles que recorren las calles de La Habana, apunta el autor.
Prosperidad vs control
Y es que por más que los jóvenes aprueben una apertura política y reforma económica, es poco probable que tales cambios tengan a corto plazo un impacto positivo en sus vidas. "Un cambio realmente mensurable llegará poco a poco, estancado entre el deseo de prosperidad de los dirigentes y su determinación a mantener el control”, observa Ahmed.
Aun a pesar de las evidencias de cambio que se observan en las calles de La Habana –nuevos y deslumbrantes clubes, bares y restaurantes que rivalizan con los de sus vecinos más prósperos del Caribe– la vida de los cubanos apenas ha mejorado.
"Hasta ahora, la única manera de ver un cambio es construir un bote y tirarse al mar", dijo al reportero del diario neoyorquino Dayán Roa Santana, de 20 años, un jugador de béisbol que el pasado 30 de diciembre se embarcó con un amigo en un destartalado bote, fue repatriado por la Guardia Costera de Estados Unidos y multado tras su regreso a Cuba.
"Tan pronto pueda ahorrar para el próximo (bote), lo vuelvo a intentar", aseguró Roa.
Funcionarios y analistas explican que las reformas económicas forman parte de una estrategia para persuadir a los jóvenes a quedarse y tener familia en la isla, cuya población envejece aceleradamente.
Pero el Gobierno, tratando de equilibrar el crecimiento económico con el control político, actúa a menudo con propósitos cruzados, señala Ahmed. "Propietarios de mínimas empresas están sometidos a una estructura bizantina con fuerte vigilancia del Gobierno, donde la libre empresa es sofocada por un Estado que batalla por no permitir su despegue".
Estas realidades son particularmente irritantes para miembros de la última generación de cubanos como José Luis Rodríguez Roig, de 24 años, copropietario con su padre de una cafetería que vende pizzas, hamburguesas y café.
Los precios de la harina para las pizzas que oferta el Gobierno son a menudo demasiado altos como
para obtener alguna ganancia, explica Rodríguez, de modo que él, como otros cubanos, recurre al mercado negro, una gestión que le puede meter en problemas.
(El Presidente Barack H. Obama y General Raúl Castro Ruz, tirano en funciones)
"Hay trucos aquí y allá, pero la ley no va a cambiar", asegura, durante una fiesta nocturna en la azotea de la casa de un amigo, en La Habana.
"¿Usted me preguntó qué cambios veo? Ninguno", concluye, y apunta, estirando el brazo por encima de los techos aledaños, al Malecón. "El hecho de que haya una embajada ahí, no cambia nada".
El autor del reportaje comprende que los cubanos desearían ver los frutos de la nueva era de inmediato. Pero el Gobierno ha reiterado que el ritmo de las reformas será lento ("sin prisa", según Raúl Castro).
"La razón de que hayan tardado tanto es que al Gobierno sólo ahora es que le viene a interesar", dice Yusbel Hernández Campanioni, que visitaba hace poco con un amigo la playa de Guanabo, en un día laborable. "Si hubiera sido por el pueblo cubano, (el cambio) habría ocurrido hace mucho tiempo".
Cuban Youth See New U.S. Embassy, but Same Old Drab Life
By AZAM AHMEDAUG
August 6, 2015
HAVANA — Wedged between a construction site and the shells of once grand colonial homes, a basketball game was underway, the neighborhood pouring into the rubble-strewn street for some evening entertainment.
It wasn’t much. A chewed concrete floor, a splintered backboard and a piece of bent rebar for a hoop. But as entertainment went, the price was right: No one paid a thing to enjoy the seaside air, the sunset or the game as they soaked up a snapshot of life seemingly preserved in time.
And that, to many in attendance, was precisely the problem.
While the news media was buzzing about the new American Embassy, which had reopened for the first time in more than 50 years, barely a word passed among the Cuban youth about the many changes afoot in their nation.
“Change? My life won’t change,” said Yunior Rodriguez Soto, 17, posted by the court with a few friends. “I mean, look how we’re living, look how we are playing?” he said, pointing at the goal, which had been knocked askew.
He paused. The ball zipped out of bounds and a friend raced to retrieve it. Change, in his mind, would come in spite of the government, not because of it.
“They won’t let it happen,” he said, referring to the Cuban government. “It’s just how they are.”
Much has been made of the historic shift underway in Cuba, where the government is making strides to open the ailing economy to world markets and re-establish relations with the United States for the first time in half a century. For many, that has raised hope of a new prosperity.
But there is an air of cynicism among the Cuban youth who see the ideals of Fidel Castro’s revolution as dated as the battered cars that traverse Havana’s streets. Once so integral to life on the island, they are relics of a bygone era, removed from the economic imperatives that are driving the young to flee in record numbers.
As much as the young welcome political opening and economic reform, such changes are unlikely to filter down to their lives anytime soon. Measurable change will come slowly, stalled between the leadership’s desire for prosperity and its determination to maintain control.
Even with evidence of change in the streets of Havana — new clubs, bars and glimmering restaurants that rival those of more affluent Caribbean neighbors — life for many Cubans has barely improved. And that may well inform the Cuban authorities’ biggest challenge in coming years: managing expectations.
“So far, the only way to see change is to make a boat and sail off,” said Dayán Roa Santana, 20, a Cuban baseball player, who did just that in late December.
On Dec. 30, about two weeks after the government announced that it would restore diplomatic relations with the United States, Mr. Roa Santana set sail for America on a rickety boat he built with a friend. After a few days at sea, he was captured by the United States Coast Guard and sent back home, where he was forced to pay a heavy fine.
As soon as he can save up money for the next journey, he says, he will be gone.
Cases like Mr. Roa Santana’s are not new, and officials are well aware they aggravate a demographic problem already undermining an economic overhaul. Unlike many developing nations, which enjoy large youth populations, Cuba resembles the graying communities of Northern Europe or Japan, societies grappling with how to finance their old people without the engine of youth. Nearly 20 percent of the Cuban population is over the age of 60, making it the oldest in all of Latin America.
Officials and analysts say that economic change is part of a strategy to persuade young people to stay and have families, replacing a swollen public sector with more private jobs — a promise that has been slow to take shape.
The government has for years tried to encourage more private sector development. Restaurants, nail salons and about 200 other approved businesses now employ nearly 400,000 people, according to government figures. Real estate reform has been enacted, and the tourism sector is booming, though without the infrastructure to support it.
But the government, struggling to balance economic growth with state control, often works at cross purposes. Small-business owners are subjected to a byzantine structure with heavy government oversight, where free enterprise is often stifled by a state struggling with letting go.
Such realities are particularly galling for the newer generation of Cubans, like Jose Luis Rodriguez Roig, 24, who owns a private cafeteria with his father that sells pizzas, burgers and coffee.
To buy flour, Mr. Rodriguez Roig says, the government prices are often too high to turn a profit. So he,
like other Cubans, turns to the black market, a move that could land him in trouble.
“There are tricks here and there, but the law isn’t going to change,” he explained, at a late-night party on the rooftop of a friend’s home in Havana.
A friend disagreed, arguing that the government was in the midst of changing, prompting a conversation taking place across the country now.
“How can you not see?” his friend, Alejandro Rodriguez Zaldivar, 30, who was hosting the party in his aunt’s home, insisted. “There’s an embassy and people are starting to think different. My grandfather’s generation was revolutionary. My father’s generation was less. This is the direction things are going.”
Mr. Rodriguez Roig shook his head and pulled on a cigarette.
“You asked me what change do I see? Nothing,” he concluded, drawing his arm over the roofs of the low-slung houses toward the waterfront. “Just because there’s an embassy over there, it doesn’t change anything.”
After 50 years of stasis, there is a desire among Cubans to see the fruits of this new era right away. And yet the government has said the pace of change will be slow.
“The reason it has taken so long is that the government only now finds it in their interest,” said Yusbel Hernandez Campanioni, who was visiting the beach of Guanabo on a recent weekday. “If it was up to the Cuban people, it would have happened a long time ago.”
During the summer, youth often flock to the beaches near Havana, like Playa Santa Maria, near Guanabo, which is about a 25-minute drive from the capital. Public transit there and back is less than 5 cents, an affordable outing for Cubans with little disposable income.
On a recent weekday, thousands of Cubans idled along the slender white sand strip, a coast of cerulean water. Arrayed in the sand, Mr. Campanioni and Yohendy Rodriguez Curreta sipped rum from the bottom half of a split beer can.
Many summer days are spent like this, though the pair lucked out when Mr. Curreta’s cousin visiting from Mexico pitched them a free bottle of liquor.
“Otherwise, we would just be laying here,” said Mr. Curreta, 21, who works as a janitor at a cultural center for about $10 a month.
For Mr. Curreta, salary was an issue. It was hard to afford the basics on his income, he said, no matter how hard he worked.
“Here you consume based on what you can afford,” he said. “And this is what we can afford.”
“Everyone speaks revolutionary, but we live day to day,” interjected Mr. Campanioni. “We think about what we are going to do today, and tomorrow we will think about the next day.”
And yet Cuba is a different place from even a decade ago, with a budding set of high-end paladars, or private restaurants, where prices can rival more opulent tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
More well-off teenagers have an array of options to choose from, including La Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a former peanut-oil factory that bears all the hallmarks of Brooklyn chic: exposed brick, industrial accents, even an old smokestack looming over the neighboring building.
The newly opened venue, a venture between a prominent Cuban musician and the state, is an example of what the government is aiming for, whether the youth realize it or not.
On a recent night, thousands of young people from 12 to 18 years old gathered outside the building, awaiting entrance to a party.
“We don’t really think about politics,” said Amalia Sanchez, 17, standing with a throng of friends. “We just want to have fun.”
Hannah Berkeley Cohen contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on August 7, 2015, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Optimism in Cuba, Except Among the Young. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe