Nasreen Pejvack ponders why we don’t question the shaky decisions of government authorities.

Why do we not question the people who are governing our day-to-day life?  If we do, is it effective enough?  Perhaps we need to be more united in pursuit of examining offensive decisions or judgments our leaders are making: from our missing women (which our fearless leader announced “was not high on his radar”), to hungry children, to lack of support for our single mothers, to budgets, taxes, students fees, and so many other internal issues within the country; and on from there to the choices they make, on behalf of us, regarding concerns and affairs with other countries around the globe.

For instance, what do we make of the mystifying events following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King?  Why don’t we ask our governments of the western world why they all ran head-over-heels to Saudi Arabia, or called or telegraphed, to offer their condolences to a country that abuses its citizens (mostly women) daily as a natural and acceptable phenomenon?

Ninety lashes on the back of a woman because “she must have provoked the man that raped her; it was her fault.”  A thousand lashes to a man in prison because he wrote a blog that the authorities did not like.  The dictatorship and brutality of the Saudi government has been the talk of the world; who doesn’t know that their woman cannot drive or vote.  I do not want to endlessly tally up the inequalities and injustices of that country, but our government’s tally does not even add up to one!!  Because of that ill-fated oil and its treasures, they make deals with them anyway; in spite of how they treat their own citizens.  Are our governments blind-folded or open-minded?

If open-minded, then why is Cuba criticized as a dictatorship; an odious government which has taken democracy away from its people?  For over fifty years the people of America and others have gone along with this sentiment.  Through over fifty years of sanctions why have our questions and protests changed nothing; have they not been effective enough?   I never understood what was meant by “they do not have democracy.”   What kind of democracy do we want for them: American democracy? 

There are many questions to ask, but let’s take a look at Cuban life:  98% of the people are literate, and people have free education which provides the skills and knowledge that their country needs to improve; Cuba has a well-established and effective pharmaceutical industry for serving the needs of its people; Their organic farming attracts people from all around the world to learn from them.  Ahh, maybe they are talking about the rundown cities and all those old cars… But wouldn’t over fifty years of widespread sanctions run down any country?    Maybe Cuba does have some restrictions on their people, but can we in any way compare that with Saudi Arabia? 

There are neither sanctions on Saudi Arabia nor any restrictions on working with them.  Why? 

Now that the Cuban borders are opening, let’s see what American democracy will do to for Cuba.  Meanwhile Mr. Obama runs to Riyadh to offer American condolences; and perhaps sign a few new contracts?  Why do they persist in ignoring the fact that they are trading with one of the most backward governments on earth, if not simply to maintain access to their wealth.

– Nasreen Pejvack, author of Amity (fall 2015)