NEW YORK CITY — All the best in 2015, a historic year loaded with possibilities for all Cubans. We welcome it with the emotion and enthusiasm generated only by great opportunities.
Opportunities like those that opened for Cuba and the United States on Dec. 17, the day on which the presidents of both nations surprised the world with the announcement that, after more than half a century of implacable enmity, they would reestablish diplomatic relations.
To me, who had become convinced that I would not live long enough to witness a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, to be alive at that moment was unquestionably the best Christmas gift of my many years.
For the Cubans on the island, and for most Cuban-Americans, it was as if 2015 had arrived early, bringing gifts of hope, renewal and good will.
“Brother, the year began for us a couple of weeks early,” wrote Manuel Alberto Ramy, a Progreso Weekly editor, in an e-mail to me from Havana. “At that moment, I confess that I wept. You were with us here. Sometimes there is no better wine than an aged teardrop. A hug, and let’s enter the New Year as best we can.”
Yes, as Ramy says, we need to enter the New Year with energy and eyes wide open, with a clear mind and our feet planted firmly on Cuban soil.
Because now, once the euphoria, the felicitations and the parties end, what remains is to roll up our sleeves and work very hard so the optimism may turn into achievements, and the new relations lead to true peace, cooperation and prosperity. It won’t be easy: now comes the test.
It is moving and profoundly comforting to know that this dramatic news not only affected the Cubans but also impacted many men and women of good will around the world with its air of sanity and hope.
“I’m an Andalucian Spaniard from the small town of Palenciana, south of Córdoba, who has lived in Munich, southern Germany, for 54 years. I have just read your article “Marco, Ted and Bob: Fishes out of water,” and my joy has been so great that I couldn’t resist the impulse to express it,” writes Lorenzo Béjar Hurtado, who titled his letter “My great joy and emotion after reading your article in Progreso Weekly.”
“I have an enormous desire to visit Cuba, although my children object because they think that I’m too old (82) to make such a long journey,” he writes. “But I’m sure that I shall go, and very soon. And my heart is filled with that poem by Lorca, which I copy here and send you with my tightest embrace:
“When the full moon rises,
I shall go to Santiago de Cuba,
I shall go to Santiago…”
Let nobody doubt that the 82 years of Lorenzo Béjar Hurtado will go to Santiago, as Lorca did. And that Santiago and all of Cuba will give them the warm welcome reserved for good friends.
Linked intimately to the change in policy toward Cuba is the no less dramatic possibility of a new relationship between the U.S. and Latin America, based on respect and good will.
The course taken by those relations will become clearer in April, during the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama, in which Cuba will participate for the first time and where Raúl Castro and Barack Obama will converge.
It would be tremendous for the whole continent if, at that gathering, Obama announced that Washington is going to leave Venezuela in peace and called an end to the colonial status of Puerto Rico.
Too much to ask? Probably, but, as demonstrated on Dec. 17, 2015 promises to be a year of many surprises.
Let us hope that all those surprises will be for the good of Cuba, Latin America and the world.
Have a happy 2015!