Popular diplomacy needs no memorandums or declarations of intent, it is carried on directly between people without going through foreign ministries or government palaces. It is accompanied by a hug, a handshake, or a long talk in the living room of a home. Without aspiring to bright lights or headlines, ordinary people have rid the world of many wrongs, perhaps have avoided wars without number, and may even be responsible for certain alliances and some, few, moments of peace.
Occasionally, an individual without ministerial credentials or official privileges speaks to power, throwing out a question that remains unanswered. As Cubans we have to be content with the fact that no one from "up there" will try to explain to us or consult with us about this Island's course, which feels like a boat taking on water and about to shipwreck. Tired of their not acknowledging us, in our smallness, I decided to throw out seven questions to those who believe--right now and with their actions--that they are determining the fate of my country.
The conflict between the governments of Cuba and the United States not only prevents the people of both shores from establishing smooth relations, but also determines the steps, of the lack thereof, that must be taken for the necessary transformation of our society. Political propaganda tells us that we live in a besieged city, David facing Goliath, a "voracious enemy" about to pounce on us. I want to know, from my diminutive position as a citizen, how this dispute is going to play out, when will it cease to be the central theme in every aspect of our lives.
After months of trying I managed to send a questionnaire to the American president, Barack Obama, with some of the issues that keep me from sleeping. I already have his answers, which I will publish tomorrow, and now I want to extend my questions to the Cuban president, Raul Castro. They are questions, born from my personal experience and I recognize that each one of my fellow citizens might have worded them differently, in their own way. The doubts that they entail are so distressing that I can't allow myself to envision what kind of country my children will grow up in.
Here are both questionnaires.
Questions for Raul Castro, president of Cuba:
- What negative influences on the ideological structure of the Cuban revolution might there be from an eventual improvement in relations with the United States?
Questions for Barack Obama, president of the United States:
- For years Cuba has been a U.S. foreign policy issue as well as a domestic one, in particular because of the large Cuban American community. From your perspective, in which of the two categories should the Cuban issue fit?
Yoani's blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English translation.