A Call to Break the Silence

Armando Chaguaceda

The Ladies in White during one of the Sunday marches in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — They say that Cuba’s Citizen Insecurity apparatus – i.e. State Security – has threatened to put an end to the Sunday rallies organized by a group of government opponents. As these already face repression, every week, while trying to exercise their rights, we can only assume more severe de facto or penal punishment is in store for them. Could we be about to witness a kind of (less intense) Black Spring 2.0? Perhaps.

I have abstained from writing about these protests for weeks, while I have been gathering different opinions from a broad spectrum of Cuban citizens, including members of the opposition.

Personally, and for moral and political reasons, I disagree with any rejection of the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, condemn the embargo/blockade and attack all attempts at enthroning leaderships or organizations as the “only” solution to the nation’s problems.

Experience has taught me that we need a combination of activism and reflection, to be present at street level and to work patiently, respecting those who languish in captivity and acknowledging the efforts of those who, within or without official spaces, are trying to build a better country. There is room for everyone in this struggle, everyone – save the thugs – can make a contribution.

Below are a series of observations I wish to address to those who, free from repression, enjoying access to information and openly expressing their opinions, maintain an indefensible silence in view of the repression of this activism in Cuba:

1- Do we need to share the ideology and platform of those demanding certain rights and suffering repression in order to support the former and condemn the latter?

2- Are our suspicions or distance from a specific leadership or activist movement enough to discredit or make their demands invisible? Don’t such attitudes contribute to repression?

3- If we are willing to concede that, in certain circumstances, the government, the Church or a certain artist can make decisions that are positive for the nation – even though we do not generally agree with their postures – are there any substantial reasons not to do the same with a government opponent? Does their very nature disqualify them for any kind of recognition?

4- From a strictly human point of view, the fear of becoming an enemy of the Cuban government – and enduring the costs of family separations and personal pain – is understandable, but, doesn’t that reveal the lack of rights that government opponents under threat are fighting for?

The above are general arguments, and I would like to add others having to do with context and with content. This isn’t 1995 or 2005. It’s 2015, and, despite some restrictions, the access to information, debates and means of communication that a growing number of Cuban intellectuals (both on the island and abroad) enjoy is unprecedented. The evidence that changes “from within” are advancing “slowly and without haste” is overwhelming, and growing discontent and social disillusionment among different, uncoordinated sectors of the population (outside the elites that stand to win from the reforms) is clearly visible.

In view of this, dear colleagues, I invite you to reflect on the costs of our postures before what could become a new wave of repression, where any proclamation of loyalty and abstract intellectualism will always be the masks of connivance with the repressor.

Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

2 thoughts on “A Call to Break the Silence

  • November 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    All the more reason for United States to end the embargo, settle old property claims and get out the way of the future of Cuba. Cuba does not need external pressure to push change.

  • November 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Black Spring? Bay of Pigs? Cubana Flight 455? Wet Foot/Dry Foot? Embargo? No reason, of course, for Cuba to be vigilant.

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