Our Options May be Waning

By Armando Chaguaceda

 Havana Barbershop, photo: Caridad
Havana Barbershop, photo: Caridad

Being informed and politicized should be common in a country like Cuba, which is celebrating 50 years of its struggle to maintain its independence. However, among many friends, neighbors and family members, all worried about filling their plates daily, trying to “disconnect” from stress and to at least appear like their doing alright, they each end up feeling strange and alone.

When activism is discouraged by frustrations and sanctions, where the press portrays a country that is unreal, and where personal solutions are found through illegalities or infractions, to embrace a spontaneous economic liberalism appears as common sense for a good part of my compatriots.

One therefore wonders what the hell this is, and how they can fit into the world that surrounds them.

I was raised as a leftist (as a “revolutionary” I would call the tradition) by a family with convictions of anti-imperialism and social justice, that joined in the revolution of 1959 by its own volition, and not to be part of the false and simplistic equation of “poverty = radicalism = emancipation.”

In my years of activism (thirteen years in the Young Communist League and eight in cultural, community and informal organizations) I have tried to articulate feelings and ideology, personal horizons and a social mission.

After twelve years in the beautiful field of teaching, I have always believed in the classroom as an public space of responsible freedom, a forum for forging conscience and collective learning through a dialogue that erases hierarchies.

Participating in youth and student marches, opening my classes to testimonies from comrades from throughout Latin America, battling against bureaucrats and trying to be integral in what I feel, think, speak, write and do, have been my antidotes to reduce fear, fatigue and disappointment.

Nonetheless, I have grown to feel that, between immobility itself and strange attractions, “time passes…” like singer/songwriter Pablo Milanes says-and our options seem to be passing as well.

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 “Our Options May be Waning

  • Xalapa, Mexico, I Don’t know where this is. I have lived in Cuernavaca, MX for parts of 3 years. I have had frustrations too. Someone suggested, Living in the Present Moment,Only Moment. When I Did this I found it was easier and my frustrations diminished. In fact I carried this idea further by saying, “I am Ok right now” repeatedly until my frustrations went away.”

    Robert

    Reply
  • Whatever the failings of the Cuban Revolution so far, Armando — do you really want the Miami Mafia to seize control of Cuba..? Can you imagine the bloodbath to follow in the wake of even sweet lies, as they came to power with imperialist money..? Since you’re now living in a capitalist country, you can really start to make comparisons. That’s good. I think any cuban who wants to leave should be allowed to do so without problem — because I’m certain that many will lose their illusions/delusions about the actual nature of capitalist “wealth” (way back, I remember reading of a russian émigré admitting that Western “Freedom” was a very tough ‘freedom’ indeed…) Perhaps cubans who wished to leave could begin in a systematic, organized way by moving to Venezuela as part of some exchange program or something. Just as long as everyone kept tabs of the inevitable machinations of colombian and gusano subversion, etc. towards these people…

    I’ve spent my whole life inside the capitalist system, Armando. I even had the opportunity to join the ‘elite’ when I was young. ‘Fortunately’ (a relative term, since I now have a lovely little deathsquad stalking me for decades now, waiting their moment…), I also grew up immersed in a town with a strong — albeit fading — working-class and socialist class-struggle tradition… and so I was able to avoid much of the effects of the relentless brainwashing, here in the imperial center — where there is STILL much poverty and degradation. It’s just that you will never see this ugly side of capitalism honestly portrayed in the mass-propaganda media. You just see the glitter and glitz. And the lies and half-truths. I would imagine that this divide is even starker in México.

    Take it from me, Armando: you really, REALLY, want to make socialism work — finally, and better late than never — in Cuba and América Latina. REALLY you do.

    Reply

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