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 move forward.
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, he commented.
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 November 13.
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 its development.
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 (CUJAE).
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 exchanges.
"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 enterprises.
"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).