I Do Talk about Politics

“The idea that inspired the revolutionaries, the aims they espoused, have vanished completely from the social reality which is now occupied exclusively by a warrior mentality. So what emerges from a revolutionary dictatorship, and will emerge more fully the longer that dictatorship lasts, is a dictatorial warrior society—that is, military despotism. It couldn’t be anything else.”  (Fernando Pessoa; The Anarchist Banker).

By Alfredo Fernández

Fernando Pessoa

HAVANA TIMES – The great Pessoa wrote this quote at the beginning of the 1920s, right when decent people all over the planet had nothing but praise for the newly-born Russian Revolution (1921). Reflecting upon past revolutions, the great Portuguese writer intuitively knew how futile they were, and it didn’t matter that the last Revolution had finally overthrown kings (tzars in this case), bankers and bishops, presenting itself as the government that the poor all over the world had longed for.

He also didn’t expect any good to come out of it: “But then what can you expect from a country of illiterates and mystics?”, Pessoa ended, convincing himself that the Russian Revolution would only end “…setting back the creation of a free society by decades…”

Many years later, when Pessoa no longer walked on this Earth, the Cuban Revolution triumphed, and in the first month of taking power, a trial of Batista’s pilots took place, who were accused of bombing civilians, entrusted to District Attorney and Commander of the Rebel Army, Felix Pena. They were dismissed and the charges dropped because there wasn’t enough evidence.

Outraged by Felix Pena’s ruling, Fidel Castro in his first great act of authoritarianism, said it was a mistrial and put the matter in the hands of a predictable man, another commander of the Rebel Army, Manuel Pineiro, who went by the nickname Barbarroja (Red Beard), who sentenced the pilots to 15 years or more in prison, like Castro wanted.

Later, the Cuban Revolution, which was also the poor people in the world’s hope at the time, became an autocracy where the Castro brothers have been the only people to be truly self-fulfilled until the present day.

It might have been hilarious a few days ago, if it hadn’t been so pathetic when Cuban YouTuber, Pedrito el paquetero, took to the the streets of Havana and tried (without much luck) to ask ordinary Cubans a political question.

Everyone, without exception, looked at Pedrito as if he were from another planet, before running off. Somebody said though (I can’t remember who) that the greatest problem a people who don’t talk about politics have, like Cubans today, was that they were governed by the worse leaders.

In 1979, Nicaraguan guerrillas managed to take power away from the deepest embedded dicatorship in Latin America, the Somoza dynasty. It seemed like the region’s second poorest country was finally on the road to democracy and to building a modern society, but that wasn’t the case… It simply gave way to a new dictator, of the Left, Daniel Ortega, who is in his fourth presidential term and is the main culprit for the country’s outrages.

With that inexplicable license the Left has, he can rape his own step-daughter just as he can kill students with complete impunity. Aside from his predecessors’ (the Somozas) problems, his misfortunes came reeling in without the critcism of global public opinion which right-wing dictatorships tend to spark. Daniel Ortega is repressing his opposition with mortal hate. The world is standing by and watching what is happening in Nicaragua, from a distance.

Ever since 2013, Mr. Nicolas Maduro has had the project that Colonel Hugo Chavez began in 1998 at his whim in Venezuela, which would be “the end of social injustice” in this country. However, it ended up becoming the most despicable dictatorship this country has ever seen. Never before in modern history have so many people emigrated from such a wealthy country.

Even so, Maduro has the blessing of many politicians and intellectuals across the globe. Argentina’s most likely president-to-be, Alberto Fernandez, called the Venezuelan Government: “Authoritarian, but not a dictatorship”, as “it was voted in during a general election”, according to him.

Are these revolutions good for anything? Sitting in a Lisbon cafe, Pessoa answered this question with double perplexity. The first responded to the part of the human being that is normally happy to see the powerful fall from their pedestals; kings, royalty, the Church and any wealthy person, or even a friend who had better luck than them in life, not bothered by the fact that the price they pay for this is less freedom. The other, which is a lot more astonishing, is that human beings are stubborn when faced with preceding experiences of revolution and their inevitable authoritarian diversion. Right now, half of Ecuador longs for the return of the corrupt and oppressive Rafael Correa.

I hope to protect my life and fate from any and all revolutions that exist in the future. I don’t need them, just like Pessoa, as they stop me from talking freely about the things I am concerned about. In the same vain that santeros in Cuba say about the people who cast them the evil eye, it’s worth saying the same thing of revolutions and their lack of freedom: ¡Vete pa’ lla’, pa’ lla’ con el sarayeyeo malo ese!  (Go away, go away, with your evil cleansing ritual!).

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.

4 thoughts on “I Do Talk about Politics

  • Interesting comment Nick.

  • Interesting article. But bear in mind that there have been many rebellions/revolutions. Hundreds of them going back for centuries.
    Only a fraction can accurately be described as leftist (as were the examples given in the article).
    Or could the many peasants’ revolts throughout history also be described as essentially ‘leftist’ ?
    How about slave revolts (such as Spartacus 1st century BC or Toussaint Louverture in 18th century AD) ?
    How about revolts against colonial or imperialist powers (US Revolution or even Ecuador’s Revolution) ?
    Without the hundreds and hundreds of revolutions throughout history, would time have stood still ?

  • Exellent article.

  • OK, there is a growing awareness that revolutions ultimately don’t improve matters. Then we have to ask why do they take place and what are the alternatives.

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