Carolina Cox and Regis Debray: Reality Is a Disappointment

By Alfredo Fernandez

Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.  Illustration: esefarad.com

HAVANA TIMES – Don Quixote sees a cloud of dust in the distance and dreams that this is has been stormed up by the army, he immediately lowers the visor of his helmet touching his chin, covers his chest with a leather shield and places his lance in charge position, and before spurring Rocinante, he invites his squire Sancho to do the same as soon as possible.

With his feet closer on the ground, Sancho tells him that they are just a few village people, that there isn’t an army. Don Quixote calls him a coward and then troubled, decides to take on the army alone, and the village people, who know nothing about madmen, beat him almost to death; then, while Sancho cures his injuries, Don Quixote in one of his lucid flashes, admits that it is better to talk than fight.

The recent statement from a desperate Carolina Cox, at Havana’s Jose Marti International airport, addressed directly to Chilean president Pinera, who she had called a dictator just months before, begging him to let her return to Santiago de Chile as soon as possible, reveals the combination of pretentiousness and ignorance that is inherent in a large majority of members of the Left.

During the protests in Chile last November, the promotor of the Cuban model as an option for her country, is now saying that she can’t stay in Cuba any longer because there isn’t any food, soap, or water to shower, amongst other reasons; and as if that wasn’t enough, she has also said that she’s surrounded by rats.

In a matter of hours, and pushed by a brutal experience, Carolina now prefers cruel and merciless neoliberalism, where she comes from, than the single-party and egalitarian socialism she dreamed of.

This isn’t news though. Back in 1967, Marxist theorist Regis Debray decided to abandon the indifferent and distant world of academia to join the battlefield. He wanted to be a living example for his intellectual colleagues of the European Left, like the chairman of European guerrillas, so he decided to join Che and his guerrilla movement in Bolivia as another member.

His plans couldn’t be wrong. Just days before, his friend Fidel Castro had promised him in Havana that Guevara’s guerrilla movement would be successful, “two or three years at best, maybe less…,” nothing could go wrong.

The Bolivian jungle became a crushing hell for the guerrilla snob; hunger, thirst and the never-ending days of hiking, quickly chipped away at this Parisian guerrillero’s character. He soon missed debates about the Revolution within the Revolution, which he was used to in Paris’ cafes.

Fate is cruel, Debray thought when in the guerrilla movement, “I was so comfortable in Paris and I came here to a certain death, most probably.” He didn’t have the spirit for this struggle, Debray was a demoralized man in Che’s guerrilla, so he begged his friend to let him leave.

Word has it that he was the person who gave up Che’s location, when he was arrested just a few days later by the Bolivian army. Then, enormous campaigns from Europe and the rest of the world stopped him from being tortured by the Bolivian army, as well as serving a 30-year prison sentence.

Unlike Don Quixote, Carolina Cox and Regis Debray didn’t have glimmers of good sense, not in front of the press at least. After their disastrous experience of reality, they both turned back to their privilege and decided to put on their armor of yesteryear. Of course, more careful where they stick their noses this time, because just like Don Quixote, they now know it is a lot better to talk than to take action. Which is something all madmen and women share.

 
 

 
 

Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.



17 thoughts on “Carolina Cox and Regis Debray: Reality Is a Disappointment

  • The Cox‘s syndrome exists from the beginning of the Cuba Revolution ( involution) Allen Ginsberg was the first one when he witnessed the homophobia as part of the revolution’s ofensiva , Jean Paul Sartre was horrified when he fund out that were concentration camps for religious ppl and homosexuals (UMAP) after Pinochet bloody cup d’ eta in Chile In 1973 thousands of Chilenos went to the proletarian paradise and despite the dictatorship efforts and building new housing in Altahabana y Alamar for the chilenos refugees in less the a year 500 families went to Mexico and Sweden today I doubt it that any of those Chilenos lives in the paradise. The Cox syndrome is very common

    Reply
  • Oddly, the author glosses over the extent of Chilean protests against the country’s first right wing conservative leader since Pinochet (the even more right wing conservative leader).
    Instead the focus of the article is on this minor celebrity sideshow.

    Perhaps the author himself is not averse to tilting at the occasional windmill ??

    Reply
  • The left will always protest against elected leaders of the right. There is as you know, a difference between dictators and those who are elected. Pinochet was a dictator comparable with Fidel and Raul Castro, Franco, Mussolini et al. Boris Johnson has recently been elected Prime Minister of the UK by a very substantial majority but the protests by the left continue.
    In the US it is the Trump supporters who are protesting against the methods necessary to inhibit the spread of the corona virus – are they of the democratic right (indeed is Trump himself such), or simply mindless. If it is the latter, are they any different from protesters of the left?
    As an additional comment, I noted in Artemisa, Cuba, a statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the first with his lance broken off at hand level, and the latter offering him a wine-skin and piece of cheese. The similarity to the tall bearded Fidel and the dumpy Raul was quite obvious. But not a windmill in sight!

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  • Mr MacD, Drawing a line between the ‘elected’ and the ‘dictator’ is all very fine and noble but is perhaps a somewhat blunt way of looking at history. It is certainly misplaced when discussing Pinochet.
    If the forces of an ‘elected’ government actively promote a coup in another country from which a ‘dictatorship’ ensues (as has occurred on more than one occasion in the region we are discussing), then where does your fine and noble line drawing take you ?
    Pinochet may be comparable to a Fidel or a Raul in your book Mr MacD, but in reality they were enemies were they not?
    Surely Pinochet had way, way, more in common with the likes of Nixon and Kissinger who paved his way to power or the likes of Thatcher who, whilst his legal team were fighting extradition for murder and torture, sent him ‘Malt Whisky’ (which particular dram, I know not).
    There are a whole bunch of different lines that can be drawn once one starts to examine the stark facts (however uncomfortable the facts may be). The straightforward four legs good – two legs bad (or vice-versa) arguments often fall flat after a more thorough appraisal of the facts.

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  • As I have previously explained Nick, I see the political groups in a circle rather than left and right like a bird. Draw a circle, at the bottom put the Liberals, to their right place the Conservatives and next the Reform. Then to the Left of the Liberals put the Greens and to their left the Democratic Socialists. You are now more than half way up the circle, so draw a straight line across. Above the line on the right put the Fascists, and above the line to the left put the Communists. Right at the top, they are separated by the Nazis (National Socialists). The circle is now complete! But that straight line separates the democratic parties from those who support totalitarian government.
    Pinochet, the Castro’s, Franco, Stalin, Mussolini and Mao all belong above that line and all are in my view totalitarian dictators – I detest them equally.
    Remember Nick that Hitler as a National Socialist and the ultimate in totalitarian rule, made pacts with Stalin (communist), Mussolini and Franco (fascists)
    I understand your endeavours to decry Nixon and in particular Thatcher, but would remind you that she was the longest serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century having been re-elected by your fellow country folk twice, and exceeding the time served by Harold Wilson.
    Do you not recognize any difference between those who are elected and the dictators?
    Incidentally Nick you omitted to say that when placed on an uneven surface, three legs being better than four or two, and don’t fall flat or wobble.

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  • I understand your circle Mr MacD.
    But I feel that you do not respond to my point about agents of a co called ‘democratically elected’ government of one country actively involved in the undermining of a ‘democratically elected’ government of another and then supporting the ensuing non democratically elected ‘dictator’.
    I do not decry Nixon or Thatcher in my comment. I merely refer to them to illustrate my point that they were allies/supporters/personal friends of Pinochet whereas Fidel Castro was his avowed foe. The fact that Nixon and Thatcher clearly had more in common with Pinochet than did Fidel Castro obviously distorts your neat circle.
    A circle that is distorted is not round. And if a circle ain’t round, it ain’t a circle.
    Your circle does not mention Capitalism. Capitalism has been around for a lot longer than what you refer to when you say ‘democracy’. It certainly pre-dates ‘communism’. Capitalism has survived and circumnavigated socialism, communism, liberalism and anything you seem to be referring to when you say ‘democracy’.
    Neither does your circle mention ‘Anarchism’.
    It does not refer to the links and differences between the anarchy of the hippy commune and the anarchy of neo-liberalist economic theory.
    I don’t dismiss your circle Mr MacD. But it would appear to be based upon the theoretical rather than actual political and economic reality.

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  • My circle Nick deals with political parties. As far as I am aware, there has never been a Capitalist political party, although several – indeed perhaps all of the democratically elected parties are supportive of investing in trade and industry for profit and then obtaining revenues necessary for social programmes by taxation, although I would agree that the cost of such programs frequently exceed the revenues from taxation.
    As for anarchism, when did an Anarchist party last run for election? Doing so would be contrary to such muddle headed belief. I recall meeting an anarchist who carefully explained to me that everybody would volunteer to participate in societal projects. So I asked him how they would fund and construct a highway from York to London?
    My circle is based upon the actuality of political parties, not irrational beliefs.
    My use of the word democracy is that as defined by the dictionary. I am not party to distortion of that meaning.
    In political discussion, participants may choose to pursue their personal political beliefs by endless examples drawn from history – not always precise or correct. But their is a clear line between democracy as correctly defined, and totalitarianism. I have repeatedly criticized the latter which I detest.
    As for your comment about ‘democratically elected’ governments undermining the ‘democratically elected’ government of another and then supporting a ‘dictator’, I guess that your inverted commas are intended to indicate that governments similar to those of Maduro in Venezuela have been ‘democratically elected’. I do not incidentally dispute that the initial election of Maduro was democratic. but subsequently…..?
    I am glad that you understand my circle Nick. What is your alternative?

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  • I don’t know what dictionary you use Mr MacD. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of democracy refers to various things such as ‘power residing in the people’, ‘equal rights’ or ‘a class of people with no hereditary rank or privilege’.
    It doesn’t, for example, mention a media circus led X-factor style popularity contest between two millionaires which results in the one achieving the least public votes becoming the most powerful individual on planet earth.
    Neither does it mention two political parties led by highly dubious individuals battling out a popularity contest whereby the winner is decided largely by media barons who always come down on the side of the party that represents those with vast accumulated capital.
    Democracy is not a finite thing Mr MacD.
    Your tale about the auxiliary pipe running off quantities of Glenfarclas scotch made me chuckle heartily. I can just picture it.
    Now Mr MacD, a bottle of 10 year old Glenfarclas Single Malt is a finite thing. We know what one is. It’s a 70 cl bottle of renowned, exquisitely delicate, Speyside Single Malt Whisky from this specific distillery. And you’ve either got one or you haven’t (as I write this I am wishing I had one !).
    Democracy is not like that. It is something that is open to different interpretations. It’s something that is on a sliding scale.
    We could sit down over a dram or two and give marks out of 10 to the democratic merits of a whole slew of governments which lay claim to having achieved power via democratic means in a variety of different countries including Cuba.
    To give you examples: The likes of Putin, Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban, Erdogan etc all came to their leadership positions due to some dubious ‘democratic election’ or other.
    It doesn’t convince me Mr MacD. Be it a circle or a square or any other shape, the fact remains that the term ‘democracy’ is open to many interpretations.
    Once again by way of illustration: the ‘democratically elected’ Nixon and Thatcher opposed the ‘democratically elected’ Allende and favoured the far right ‘dictator’ Pinochet who rose to power via a non democratic, murderous coup.
    It ain’t about ‘democracy’ – it’s about following the money trail…….
    It’s all about the capital.

    Reply
  • democracy noun a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of the state, typically through elected representatives (italics) a capitalist system of parliamentary democracy
    *(noun count) a state governed in such a way: a multiparty democracy
    *control of an organization or group by the majority of its members
    *(italics) the intended extension of industrial democracy
    *the practice or principles of social equality: (italics) demands for greater democracy
    Oxford Dictionary of English Thumb index edition weight 6lbs
    QED

    Reply
  • Thank you Mr MacD…..
    These additional definitions further illustrate my point that there are various interpretations of the term ‘democracy’.
    That’s a weighty old dictionary. Please don’t drop it on your foot.
    It’s definitions mention ‘capitalist system….’ and ‘…the practice and principles of social equality’.
    Many would say that there is a certain degree of mutual exclusivity there.

    If it aids your understanding of life on earth to divide countries into the democratic and the non-democratic, then you have my blessing to continue. I admire your steadfastness in the same way that I admire Elio’s.

    Meanwhile, I shall stick to my more nuanced, reality-based approach.
    Democracy is not a finite thing. There are infinite interpretations. It’s not a ‘you got it or you ain’t’ deal. There is a big sliding scale.

    Democratic ideals are great, but are often dwarfed by the power of Capital.

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  • The alternative division Nick is between dictatorships and non-dictatorships. As I have indicated previously, I detest the former.

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  • The only division that matters Mr MacD, is that between the haves and the have-nots.
    Always has been – always with be.
    Capitalism (and it’s successful adherents) seeks to perpetuate this division at all costs and has withstood the onslaught of democracy, socialism, communism, liberalism etc….
    The debate regarding what constitutes a dictatorship and what constitutes a non-dictatorship can only ever be a sideshow.

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  • Tell me Nick, how you detect the difference between the haves and the have-nots? Is there no in-between group? How do you define each group? I can understand that in a country like Cuba, it is relatively easy, as apart from those who receive assistance from others living in capitalist countries, the division can be best observed by those who are members of the PCC and those who are not.
    I like you, observe demonstrations by groups of people claiming to be have-nots (not obviously in Cuba where following being beaten up by the MININT goons they would be jailed) but many of them appear to be very well clad, able to afford hemp products and have good footwear. How do they compare with the elderly on fixed incomes?
    I’ve observed poverty at close quarters, a family drinking their tea out of jam jars in Bradford, Yorkshire, displaced stateless persons in refugee camps – ten years after the end of the Second World War – and many of whom could and ought to have been accepted in particular by countries like Canada (which turned away a ship load of Jews prior to the declaration of war), and children being treated at school for lice. All of those I have described were certainly have-nots.
    Equally as you will have gathered, I have had experience of the ultra-rich with “old money” family portraits painted by the leading portraits of the day and sitting on Tommy Chippendale’s chairs.
    Those are the two extremes, but it is, is it not, rather simplistic to divide society into the haves and have-nots?
    I agree that the lines between political parties are blurred as people being in democracies change their political allegiance, but to me there is a very clean line between having the right to vote and dictatorship. To you it may be a “side-show” but for those who don’t have it, it represents liberty.

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  • That’s perfect Mr MacD. I shall always agree with you to a certain degree.
    Haves and have-nots. Democratic and Non-democratic.
    What about all those that fall somewhere in the middle?
    What about all those millionaires in so-called egalitarian China?
    What about all those who don’t get a vote in so-called democratic USA?
    In my humble opinion, it’s not about 4 legs good – 2 legs bad (or vice-versa).
    It’s not right and wrong or good vs evil.
    It’s all a sliding scale.
    It’s not about trying to convince everyone that one system is infinitely and inarguably superior to another. I think that’s best left to the religious.
    But despite my deeply held open-minded neutrality, I sincerely and wholeheartedly respect gents such as yourself and Elio who stand firm and defend your respective corners. Long may you continue to do so……..

    Reply
  • Ah Nick, it isn’t necessarily about whether democracy is superior. But it is obvious that communism is worse. If you study all that I write, it doesn’t belong in a corner, for the promotion and defense of freedom is for all, not any particular Party. Elio has only ever acted in strict accord with the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. When last Nick, did you observe me defending Donald Trump. When did you observe me suggesting that others should not have choice?
    Yes, I have observed repeatedly that capitalism is preferable to communism and specifically the Stalinist form pursued by the Castros. But I have never suggested that capitalism represents some form of perfection. My call is for freedom of choice, freedom to express differing views and freedom to pursue ideas and ambitions.
    As an adult, Elio knows only repression under three successive dictators, Batista, Big Brother Castro and Little Brother Castro. If only he could have experienced liberty.

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  • Hi Carlyle,

    Rather than a circle, the compass model of politics is more in tune with reality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Political_Compass. The idea behind this is that you have two axis. One axis being left-right and the other authoritarian-libertarian. In this model you would have four corners – on the libertarian side you would have on the left hand side anarchists – on the far right libertarians (ie ultra neo-liberals). On the authoritarian side you would have communism on the far left and nazism on the far right.

    Dani

    Reply
  • Had a look dani. For politics, I’ll stick with my circle providing greater accuracy. I shall have to give some thought about whether economics could be included in the model by providing an outer circle. Being an old guy, I don’t have the ability to put it on the web. I was born prior to Alan Turing introducing the word ‘computer’ !
    In my view and as expressed by the circle, the big divide in politics remains between totalitarianism and democracy. Whereas you place communism and nazism far apart, I think they have in their actions, much in common. For example, Hitler banned not only Jews, but homosexuals and non-supporters from teaching at universities, and only too recently as described in these very pages, the Vice-Minister of Education in Cuba proposed removing all non-supporters of Fidel Castro’s policies from Cuba’s universities. Same policy, different political name. For those upon on whom it is imposed, there is no choice and little difference.
    One interesting comment about Hitler, is that he in an open election, received 32% of the German vote. Fidel Castro took care to never take part in an open election.

    Reply

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