Eyeing Cuba’s Future

By Armando Chaguaceda

Fishing on the Havana Malecon Seawall. Photo: Caridad
Fishing on the Havana Malecon Seawall. Photo: Caridad

In my previous entry I discussed our society and the future. I couldn’t have had a busier week than the one that included the weekend of April 17-19, bursting with promises, ambiguous speeches and high-level political chess moves. When the Fifth Summit of the Americas closed in Port of Spain and its echoes arrived, announcing a new era for Cuba, the generations that cohabitate the island were astonished.

Born into a situation of daily shortages, equity under siege, and a discourse of intransigence, the generation of my students will be the target audience of the seduction of Obamania. The new US administration, practical and intelligent, seems determined to seek diplomatic means to a more relaxed modus vivendi with its socialist neighbor.

Despite a still understandably proud islander, the countries of Latin America persist in pushing for Cuba’s full participation in the Organization of American States (OAS) and promise to formalize this demand at its the next meeting.

The aging Cuban leadership vacillates between signals of openness, disdain and silence, prolonging a stream of ambiguous news articles that bewilder the Cuban people regarding the leadership’s strategy for dealing with the changing scenario.

There are two elements that might be overlooked by the gullible and inexperienced: we must not confuse detente with solution and we must not let this opportunity for dialogue slip away.

In this situation it is neither acceptable for us Cubans to be obstinate nor play the role of a chump. To combine clarity, strategic firmness and tactical flexibility is as difficult as it is essential. And if we mere mortals understand this, should it be very difficult for our seasoned decision makers?

My viewpoint seldom coincides with the conservative tendency of Cuban authoritarian and centralized socialism. However, I believe strongly in some of its aspects, especially its distrust of Washington. As I understand history, the goals of US foreign policy (which includes subjugating Cuba to various forms of imperialist domination) are only adapting to the current rupture in US global hegemony; they have not disappeared.

My father taught me, and some of our leaders say, that the US “has no friends, only interests.” And the “enchanting Obama,” despite his charisma and wide support, still faces powerful obstacles that limit his options.

The reporting that reaches me from Cuba exudes a mixture of excessive optimism, confusion and distrust anchored to an unyielding attitude. Today all the rhetoric that promotes or sews confusion or antagonism among the Cuban leadership (whether originating from within or deceitfully induced by outside actors) only benefits the hawkish defenders of the blockade.

Those of us who experienced the hard times of the crisis in the early 1990s, who later suffered every day Bush’s ridiculous threats, and are witnessing the left’s reemergence on the continent can only feel modest hope.

Havana Street Scene. Photo: Caridad
Havana Street Scene. Photo: Caridad

Looking toward Cuba’s future, we need to expand opportunities for participation, equality and freedom, diversity, and eliminate state control over the political sphere. We need to reap the benefits of the notably high level of education, access to culture and egalitarian mentality inherited from the 1959 Revolution.

Writing these lines brings back memories of my maternal grandfather who died a rebel and a Fidel supporter, of my uncle from whom I learned the Cuban mix of communism and playfulness, and of my soldier father who encouraged me to become a teacher and a social scientist and with whom I learned, in discussions around the table, the value of tolerance.

For all of them, for my memories and hopes, I want to believe that before we are willing to negotiate anything with our stalking neighbor, we Cubans will be taken into account in the decisions made at the high-level and stormy summits, not as pawns of change or beggars, but as citizens.

We must overcome the Stalinist and annexationist postures that threaten us, in order to debate and transform among ourselves the achievements of the revolution that we have defended, filled with wounds and dreams over the past half century.

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.

5 thoughts on “<em>Eyeing Cuba’s Future</em>

  • Armando Chaguaceda
    Your article show me that you think very deeply, and that is good. The Bushes and the Republican Party were voted out. Now the Republicans are wondering what they can accomplish when Obama and the Democratic Party have the votes to pass new programs, like affordable Health Care for all, and eliminate the tax havens for the very rich who have choosen to form Panamanian corporations and Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying US Income Taxes. I believe President Obama is sincerely trying to reconfigure the United States, so that all of its citizen will be treated equally, and Los Ricos in the Republican party will no longer be able to accumulate wealthy only for themselves.
    I admire Cuba and the many things it has accomplished. I believe that the Cuban people will little by slowly enjoy more freedoms and prosperity. Therefore President Obama is not a Typical American President.

  • It’s very simple about Obama: He is a fraud and a public relations creation: part Wall Street, part Madison Avenue. He was put there by the U.S. ruling-class to send exactly the sort of mixed signals that are confusing the hopeful Left and liberals and the unwary, worldwide. The point of this (somewhat desperate) exercise is to continue to keep the laboring masses off-balance and disoriented. That’s always a main part of the capitalists’ strategy against us. But the rulers of the planet read Obama loud and clear, however: business as usual. (U.S.) imperialism as usual. Or ‘Imperialism with a Smiling Face’, if you will. Already Obama has ordered the deaths of many innocent people. And more of that to come. It seems that to be a U.S. president, you must bloody your hands and become a war criminal at the first opportunity. It’s a tradition since long before 1492.

    Do not anyone trust any capitalist régime, ever — seriously. They really are your venal enemies, as long as they will exist. The future does NOT lie with capitalism. Whatsoever. Whatever the crimes and failings of stalinism/social-democracy, socialism is our ONLY viable future. And so this begs the question then: what the heck do we do to get out from under the imperial jackboot and actually create a socialism we can all believe in, finally..?

    But that is a question that CAN (finally, now) be answered by cubans. And so now is very much not the time to be giving up the socialist ghost. Even if “socialism” thruout América Latina is really more rhetoric and social-democratic liberalism than socialist fact.

  • I am impressed by your level of political and economic sophistication, Armando. Cuba, and the more recently emerging governments of the left elected throughout Latin America, point the way towards a more creative, dynamic and participatory interpretation of socialism. Cuba had this potential, even earlier , but this was distorted by the influence of Soviet model; fortunately, that influence, though it persists, is now on the wane.
    From what you and others have reported here, and from what I have been able to see for myself during my visits to Cuba, most Cubans know what sort of society they want to create. To begin with, they want a more equitable distribution of goods and services. They want an end to the dual CUC/CUP economy. They want their incomes to reflect their efforts and their skills. They also want the Revolution to safeguard and retain its social benefits of education, health care and social welfare. They know what they want…and I am reasonably sure they know how to get there.
    Equally as fascinating in your posts are the influences of the various family members. Just as the various strands of DNA determine who we are, likewise, the histories and personalities of our family also determine who we are, like the different sections of an orchestra contributing their particular tones and timbres, culminating in a symphony.
    I am always fascinated by the individual, subjective, histories which go into the making of our collective History. If only we could really know the lives of our ancestors. We can’t, of course, but through a combination of oral family history, reading history, and reading good fiction written by perceptive observers during the periods and epochs we are investigating, we can approach what it was like to be in the shoes of our ancestors.

  • Superb article;

    As i go about my day i will sit somewhere and respond to this effort..i am pleased to know that there are still those who would refuse to become peons, and forego those 100.oo jordans

  • These words are profound and i appreciate reading them.

    For all of them, for my memories and hopes, I want to believe that before we are willing to negotiate anything with our stalking neighbor, we Cubans will be taken into account in the decisions made at the high-level and stormy summits, not as pawns of change or beggars, but as citizens.

    However, i will add another dimention which is rarely ever spoek of and which i have profound experience and concerns about.
    That is called RACISM against the AfroCuban and Africans in general who are affected/effected most by the current world policies.

    i am here in Cuba, as a vistor in my own country of birth an exile who wants moree than anything to return as a citizen
    Having said this, as many know i am one who is willing to speak my piece without fanfare or concern for disagreement because like OBAMA, i can agree to disagree.
    i am an AfroCuban retired Attorney and health prof who supported Pres Obama in his bid for the presidency of the US, admire the strong family ties his family has, and agrees with some of his policies. However, there aree fundamental differences which i and many of my colleagues have which support the fact that Obama, has sided with those who have continously kept peoples born in the spanish speaking countires down as well as those policies which continue to keep African on the back burner.

    Suffice, that Obama is a TYPICAL AMERICAN PRESIDENT, and thus he can be no different and nor did i

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