By Aracelia del Valle, Marlys Rodríguez and Rosario S. Jacomino
“For me, coming to this country is a privilege, not a tourist right”, explains in an exclusive to Escambray, a visit he paid to know more about a newspaper he frequently turns to.
Born to Birmingham, UK, but with Ukraine roots, Korniak is devoted to Analytics, a profession that has not stopped him from involving in deep humanist causes.
It was probably this call of supporting justice what led Sasha to participate last March at the International Commission of Inquiry on the Cuban Five case, held in London, where kept in touch with Escambray by sending photos and videos of the event.
“I listened to the evidence, and the proceedings that happened there, and it amazes me the lack of international coverage that it’s written about this particular circumstance, declares Korniak. At the moment of the trial, many injustices were committed in American soil. The US is really big when talking about human rights, but the way they treated these people and their families, and the way in which they treat people in Guantanamo Bay, is a representation of who they really are. And then they have the audacity to speak to other nations, and judge them, I think they need to look at themselves first”.
What do you think about the Cuban Five?
I was in Havana last year to extend my solidarity. I had the opportunity of talking to Cubans about the huge international presence, and the activities that are happening all across Europe, to support their cause.
Some people say to me: your sign is wrong, there’s no longer five, and I say even if there are three of them who are free, there still needs to be an acknowledgement that they were innocent, and we need to continue battling for their freedom.
How did you feel when you exchange with Rene at the London Commission?
It was my first time, and it was a great experience. It was a massive disappointment for everybody that was there for him to be denied the visa to come to UK. But thanks to the determination of everybody involved he still was able to talk to us, and it was good to hear him. I can tell you that I sensed the deep conviction in his voice, and also his strength, and courage.
When was the first time you knew about Cuba?
My parents used to come here in Cuban solidarity campaigns, and it was their interest, and also me reading, about the Cuban Revolution and, Jose Marti, that made me very interested in learning more about this nation and why it operates on sustainable development.
What time did you exactly start to work with the solidarity campaign?
I started to be a member of the Cuban solidarity campaign in 2010, and my first time in Cuba was to attend the May Day rally, so I attended it with lots of other people within the international consortium, of multiple different nationalities, and we went to the act at the Revolution Square for the 1st of May, and I also got to visit policlinics, schools, the CTC, ICAP and the Federation of Cuban Women.
Well, my first time in Cuba I got to know about the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC in Spanish). I must confess that I was probably born in the wrong time of history; I’m a very strong feminist, and reading about the FMC gives me more confidence in societies bringing a quality for everybody, within different scenarios.
When I met a young woman on the way to Remedios, she said that she was just an engineer, and I said: no, you are not; you are not just an engineer, you are an engineer. Back in England we just don’t have women in engineering, to me, seeing young women, and women in general in works usually done by men, it was an experience because of the differences to where I live.
How was your first May Day in Cuba?
It was an incredible experience. Seeing workers united together throughout Cuba, the messages written in banners, the presence of different nationalities in the world…I was actually interviewed by Cubavision at the rally, and I explained that my main reason for attending it was to show Cubans our solidarity, that Cuba is not isolated, the blockade causes a lot of problems, but there’s lot of international support.
What do you like the most about Cuba?
The people; Cuban people look after one another; they may argue, or have disagreements, but they are so civil to one another, they respect and help each other. The one thing that you get in Cuba is that Cubans value people more than they value material possessions, and they value education and knowledge more than things that are materialistic in nature…Meeting Cubans from different levels of society made my experience better, unique and the reason why I keep returning.
Why the interest in Sancti Spiritus?
The reason particularly why I chose Sancti Spiritus is because Havana is not Cuba, much like London is not England, and Paris is not France. Also Sancti Spiritus is one of the places in Cuba where there are few remains of tourists, and from that point of view you tend to get a more rich experience. Sancti Spiritus and its history is something I read about, and I feel very comfortable with the people here. Some have said to me: when you go to Baracoa people are nicer, and I think people here is as nicer.
Why did you get in touch with Escambray?
The reason particularly why I read Escambray, it’s not only the content and the depth of the articles, but also for the way in which things are explained. When you look at the media outside of Cuba, there is a certain difference between reporting news and reporting opinion. I go to Escambray before any of the Western media because you report facts, you report knowledge, and everything that happens, but you also exert criticism.
Unfortunately other news agencies like CNN, BBC, or Fox news manipulate or distort, and they have different reasons to do so. For example Operation Miracle, a million cataract operation, is free in Cuba, but that’s not the message Western media is interested on.
Do you think there are many differences between 2014 Cuba and 2010 Cuba?
I think there are lots of differences in what I see. People are changing, and it has to change, not because a decision to change the philosophy of Cuba, but because of the economic situation outside of Cuba in the world, that’s the reason why. And also the fact is that economic models have to change wherever you are in the world…I see a big difference in the proletarization of certain types of occupations, and also the need of some types of jobs as well. And I think to me when I come to Cuba, I consider myself to be a guest, it´s a privilege to come to Cuba, not a right… To me to come along and see the changes in Cuba is interesting and I learn from them, but my opinion is irrelevant because I´m not Cuban, it´s up to Cubans to decide on what´s gonna happen in Cuba.