Armando Chaguaceda

HAVANA TIMES — In recent days in the Cuban transnational press, there have appeared various analyses of the latest initiative of the Laboratorio Casa Cuba, a project sponsored by the editors of Espacio Laical [a publication of the Cuban Catholic Church], in the company of a group of young socialist intellectuals on the island.

As a rule, the various writers have reflected with clarity, purposeful spirit and consensus forged by the authors of the document, which can be appreciated with regards to the complex Cuban situation.

They note that the collection of writings is a new reinforcement of a series of initiatives (Campaña por otra Cuba, Llamamiento urgente por una Cuba mejor y posible y la Declaración contra detenciones arbitrarias en Cuba) promoted recently by various individuals and citizen groups – proposals that share the virtue of speaking in an unfettered manner “here and now” about our national life.

I think little could be added to the analyses already made, so I want to discuss something concerning the human background of this initiative. In that sense, there comes to mind a conference in Santo Domingo, a year ago, by Lenier Gonzalez, who is the young editor of Espacio Laical and a prominent promoter of Casa Cuba.

On that occasion, with fluid and elegant prose, Lenier listed the contradictions that presently burden citizens’ debate and  participation in Cuba, pursing a search — without exclusions or violence — for alternatives that would preserve national and popular sovereignty in the face of authoritarian and mercantile threats that are posed.

What I particularly remember was one gesture by Lenier, who praised those present and moved several of the people present at the forum. In his presentation, he explicitly recognized several initiatives, some of which had been instrumental in his personal development and others that he recognized for their contribution to current public life of our country.

He referred to the magazines Vitral and Temas, the projects Observatorio Critico, Estado de Sats and Espacio Laical itself. I remember the nobility of his words impressed a friend who was attending the forum, someone who I at that time was trying to convince of the human and civic qualities of those who were encouraging that publishing project of lay Havanans.

Perhaps to some people a mere listing of forums and publications doesn’t mean much, but these don’t go unnoticed to anyone who is aware of the uncivil skirmishes and the memory and character assassinations that have beset our precarious (but expansive) public sphere.

In his testimony, the young journalist wasn’t only offering those in attendance a basic map and compass of citizens’ debate and activism, which often remain invisible in the pages of the official press and the recalcitrant exile media.

He also identified a position free of resentment or supremacy, the only one with which it is possible for forging a project of dialogue and building alternatives to the dominant politics on both sides of the Florida Straits.

Much has happened since that meeting on warm Dominican soil, and my friendship and support for the project of Espacio Laical and its facilitators have grown. It is providing all the ingredients imagined for a sincere friendship: sharp and unfettered discussions, shared dreams and frustrations, alerts concerning coming scenarios.

In that vein, the recent initiatives that several friends have advanced have all my sympathy and attention. I celebrate the conciseness and quality of their proposals, which are addressing —- without absences and with remarkable and fertile imaginations — our serious national challenges.

I suggest the opening of the project to new sociopolitical identities (such as “demo-liberal” and environmental), complementing it with dissimilar socialist and Christian democratic perspectives present within the public platform.

With Laboratorio Casa Cuba, the efforts of Espacio Laical to stimulate informed and non-exclusive debate between Cubans have been crowned with another victory. This reaffirms the secular publishing project as the most consistent one on the island in terms of concretely addressing Cuban economic and sociopolitical concerns.

With this, its facilitators are situating it in the most transparent region of national thought and public-spiritedness, one where human miseries die under their own weight, and where there bloom — despite fear, weariness or censure — all the grandeur and creativity forged over two centuries of the agonizing construction of the Cuban nation.


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.

One thought on “Casa Cuba and Building the Cuban Nation

  • So to summarize: the Laboratorio Casa Cuba is to be praised for taking the brave stance of maybe thinking about allowing non-socialist perspectives into their overly careful discussion, all in the name of inclusiveness, provided the other perspectives agree with the socialists on all the basic issues, and which will be thoroughly ignored by the real powers in Cuba anyway.

    And this is considered progress?

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